Song of the Bloated Hyena reviews G.W. Bush’s first five months as president.

Aquarian Weekly 7/11/01 REALITY CHECK

SONG OF THE BLOATED HYENA

Georgetown, hero of many, enemy of more, has been silent since the GOP took November and ran with majority numbers into Washington. He has refused to answer calls to scoop the inside dirt on the tax cut fight, the gasoline hikes, the sagging economic burdens, the president’s Euro-tour, James Jeffords defection, the looming Supreme Court nominations and the plunging poll numbers for the man he once dubbed Captain Shoe-In on North Beach, San Francisco two summers ago. The silence is over.

jc: Why do I bother giving you valuable print space?

GT: Because this cheap column needs me. People love the real deal, not some satirical thousand-word literary masturbation. You should be sweeping the stalls in Grand Central Station with the kind of garbage you spew in this space. Did I hear right? Did you write that Bob Franks tried to pick your wife up in a bar in Jersey in some drunken stupor?

jc: That’s one way to interpret that.

GT: The only way.

jc: Never mind. How do you like these poll numbers on Bush after only five months? Did he get caught in some Paula Poundstone mishap? What do you figure…twenty to thirty percent by Christmas and a Mussolini burning by next June?

Right now the perception around town, and I think the polls reflect this, is that Bush is all talk and no action. His ability to communicate any message to the public is for shit.

GT: What did you expect? Economy is shit and Jeffords fucked us good. Now everything is bogged down up there. You think by ramrodding that patient’s bill of rights through the senate is going to help matters?

jc: Is he going to veto it?

GT: My best guess now is no. I don’t know anything concrete from anyone who’s talking, but I can tell you this: Not one soul with any say or cash in the party has one iota of confidence in that happening. I know one thing; we drew big money to shut McCain up last summer so Junior could skid through that primary, and it wasn’t so he could fist-fuck us on this Ted Kennedy bullshit. He cried like a five year-old after South Carolina and when the bank opened up he promised a whole lot. But those same people will have a great deal to say come November 2002.

jc: What else is riding on the mid-term elections right now?

GT: This goddamn tax cut. If that doesn’t jumpstart Christmas, shit will fly.

jc: What about the Supreme Court?

GT: Don’t go there, not yet. If anything, we’re looking at senate hearings up the ass. I was playing darts with that pinhead Shumer two weekends ago, and he’s giving me loads of grief about partisan philosophy and political ideology. And I’m not even worried about him. He’s dry. What about those other drunken psychos?

jc: It’s a booze thing?

GT: Shumer’s got it on good word that Hillary alone will jam up anything approaching a Bork or Sessions or Clarence Thomas. Circus Maximus times twenty on this one.

jc: Is that some kind of cryptic reference to Hillary’s drinking problem?

GT: What the fuck are you talking about?

jc: Never mind. So what about Bush’s campaign boasts about nominating a “strict constructionist” or bust?

GT: Yes, and he’s also a reformist.

jc: Should I bring up school vouchers now?

GT: That was never going to happen. People like their kids to remain stupid. Makes them feel superior to someone.

jc: So, what do you make of these pathetic poll numbers? It can’t be all economy.

GT: Listen, the man lost the popular vote, which doesn’t mean a hill of beans in the constitution, but this has always been a country of public perception. Bush was on daddy’s payroll when he crushed Dukakis and he land-slided Texas. What does this kid know about squeaking by? So he starts in like the new fat man in town, the pimp daddy strutting around Washington with his Gingrich smirk and no one in the party is willing to tell this guy he barely has a mandate to change the color of the drapes in the oval office. It’s been like Elvis’ final years over there.

jc: First you’re telling me the man has no balls, now you’re saying they’re too big?

GT: He’s got the attitude, believe me, but I don’t think he can put it into action. Perception is everything. Right now the perception around town, and I think the polls reflect this, is that Bush is all talk and no action. His ability to communicate any message to the public is for shit.

jc: He did get some semblance of tax cut through there.

GT: Politically that will be his albatross because he sold it as a necessity for the economic slump, not the money owed from a surplus. He sold the latter to congress, but the former to the people. Zogby isn’t polling congress. The people see the imp before the progressor. Secondly, the tax cut ostensibly cost us the senate when Bush crossed Jeffords on some Vermont things. You see Vermont is close to the vest when it comes to its political promises. Jeffords owed more to his constituency than he did to the party, or for that matter, the rest of the country. I see it as similar to Giuliani snubbing your boy up there.

jc: George Pataki.

GT: Yes, Pataki. You still on the outs with him?

jc: It doesn’t matter anymore.

GT: You’re out of New York politics now?

jc: We’ve only got limited space here.

GT: Oh, there’s a story there.

jc: Why do Europeans hate the Bush’s?

GT: Fuck Europe. The only thing that matters right now is how Vladimir Putin sees Chinese nuclear weapon progress and how this administration handles the way China will come strong in the next few years. Everything else is bullshit; the Middle East and this Palestinian crap, the oil stuff etc. You were right on about China last year. I read that crazed junk you wrote about the spy ring. That was good. But that’s changing fast and the whole mess will be a key to the legacy for whoever is holding the office by 2005.

jc: We all enjoyed the semantics parade when the spy plane went down.

GT: That’s the last compliment you’re getting from me. And don’t print it. You’re going to print it, right?

jc: Who’s going to win this Jersey gubernatorial race?

GT: Not McGreevey. He couldn’t beat Whitman, and no one wanted her to win.

jc: But Schundler received no party support during the primary.

GT: Gubernatorial primaries? Is there a more meaningless endeavor?

jc: Editing and writing the transcripts of these conversations for one.

GT: Hey, do you think Gore still thinks he won?

jc: Give me a quick prediction.

GT: Gary Condit will step down before this hits the newsstands.

jc: Do you think he knows where that woman is?

GT: Let’s just end this by saying he should step down.

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Bret Schundler vs. Bob Franks ‘s sober study of 2001 NJ Republican primary.

Aquarian Weekly 7/4/01 REALITY CHECK

BROKEN HEROES ON HIGHWAY 9True Tales of New Jersey Gubernatorial Races

The Garden State is without leadership. For all purposes of government, the state’s executive branch is a rudderless ship upon a rocky sea of rumor and speculation. There hasn’t been this much false panic since 1938, when Orson Welles suckered the Trenton Fire Department into shooting hobos mistaken for Martians on Route 1 in New Brunswick.

Governor, Christie Todd Whitman is in Washington performing as an illusionist for the Bush administration’s ecology sinkhole. Acting governor, Donald T. DiFrancesco dropped out of the running in April after denying “implausible land deals” and “mob connections”. Democratic contender, Jim McGreevey, fresh from a near-stunning upset of Whitman in 1997, has ostensibly been campaigning ever since with his tired lower auto insurance and property tax mantra for a carbon copy run.

So the weary and confused look to the GOP for candidates worthy of the state’s more than interesting political history. Last Tuesday Bret Schundler soundly defeated favorite, Bob Franks for the Republican primary and will set the course for an epic ideological battle with McGreevey.

Schundler, a staunch social and fiscal conservative, won despite the party’s history of centrist candidates and wild stories in the Bergen Record of spinning a 1969 apple red Mustang convertible in tire-screeching doughnuts and holding up traffic for nearly twenty minutes on Route 59 in Spring Valley, New York a Sunday ago.

It seems that Franks had been allegedly nerve-chewing laxatives all morning and needed to end the thing quickly. For nearly an hour he just laughed like a braying tetanus-ravaged goat. Schundler hardly had to talk and the debate was his.

“Public testing of centrifugal forces is legal in Rockland County,” my top source, G-Padre reminded me.

“Even if your days from an election?” I asked.

“Especially then.”

But Schundler was the winner. And winners can magically spin doctor criminally dangerous acts into valid, almost heroic scientific experiments. Losers become pariahs for simply jaywalking on Main Street in Lodi. This is not the case in most states, but New Jersey is different. Politics here is akin to a social dizziness, a kind of all-encompassing paranoia, like Steven King’s Jack Torrence wielding mallets at his family for a shot of beer.

Not that Schundler had been guilty of anything that heinous, just simple extremist right-wing concepts. And that is not yet a crime in most of the contiguous Untied States. Not yet, although Liberalism is punishable by public shackling in fourteen counties in Utah. Several sources at the Kaysville Sentinel reported two summers ago that Bill Bradley barely made it out of Salt Lake City alive.

Ironically, Franks spent the weekend with the family in relative privacy. His people swear he would never be caught causing scenes on public byways, but nasty rumors of he, Rob Monte from Dogvoices and myself going shot-for-shot in the backroom at the Sea Shell on Long Beach Island during an horrific gale on Saturday night were rampant on the Monday before the election. They were soon quelled when a reporter from the Trentonian, who was savagely beaten with several pool toys for inadvertently touching my wife’s hair the same night, identified Franks as a “large Latino fellow with long sideburns”. Managing editors for the Trentonian could not be reached for comment.

But sadly it was Franks, backed by the highest-ranking party officers in the state, shocking many of the gambling rings in press row Tuesday by hardly carrying 40% of the vote halfway through the count. Best money had Schundler out of it by 10:00 pm before the northern precincts reported, but that became doom-talk long before the victory dinners got cold over at Franks’ headquarters. The band packed up well before midnight and women and children were sent away weeping.

Schundler outspent Franks, but not as much as Jon Corzine, who poured $60 million of investment banker money toward the defeat of Franks in a 2000 senate run. Schundler believes in financial responsibility, but he could taste victory a week before the election when the two men appeared on Gabe Pressman’s Sunday morning television show out of New York. It seems that Franks had been allegedly nerve-chewing laxatives all morning and needed to end the thing quickly. For nearly an hour he just laughed like a braying tetanus-ravaged goat. Schundler hardly had to talk and the debate was his.

Sussex County Republican Assemblyman, E. Scott Garrett called Franks “loud and nasty” the next day and immediately the momentum pendulum began to swing.

But dissecting old news is not the style of this space, so to look ahead at a McGreevey vs. Schundler race there are several factors involved. The first of which is the inevitable Left vs. Right wars and the second is the ever-popular “integrity” question. Both men are fine candidates, both have plans to lower taxes and car insurance with the obligatory abortion and gun ownership issues at the core, but where most states demand water-walking minister types, New Jersey is in need of a notorious rabble rouser in the tradition of William Franklin or a schizophrenic fun-lover like the colorful Lord Cornbury.

Many New Jersey voters don’t remember the name of William Franklin, the last colonial governor of New Jersey driven from the State at gunpoint by the infamous “Pine Robbers.” as a wart-bellied trader to mother England. He was not popular among colony historians, but many townships took his name anyway. But New Jersey’s first Royal Governor, Lord Cornbury, best known for his private cross-dressing habits, is nowhere to be found on a Jersey map. There are no Cornbury townships, nor will there ever be. And now it’s doubtful there will be any McGreevey boulevards or Schundler Counties when all is said and done here.

But that will be the rub, for this reporter is contemplating a complete move to the scenic mountains of Vernon, New Jersey, where bear run free and the beer flows nightly. No one up there cares a rats-ass about ideology, when a transvestite defector with a laxative jones can drum up some quality headlines. And that is the place for me.

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james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 6/13/01 REALITY CHECK

DISMANTLE THE FCC

The following Memo From The Reality Check New & Information Desk was sent to the E-mail of Jason Hillery, program director for KKMG-FM radio and faxed to the general manager of Citadel Broadcasting, Brenda Goodrich on 6/6/01. The crux of the diatribe centers on the $7000 fine levied by the Federal Communications Commission on the Colorado Springs station for playing an edited-for-airplay version of Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady.” The FCC’s reason for slapping a fine on a nearly two year-old record that had previously received enough television and radio airtime to become a number 1 record is that it “contains unmistakable offensive sexual references.”

To The Faithful,

Under no circumstances should your company pay a cent of that fine. In fact, instead of a check or money order forward this message: “Listen, you pusillanimous, non-elected bully freaks, there are well-attested cases on the books defending our right to air, print and utter material of a shocking or offensive nature due to the cryptic, if not, wholly ambiguous laws pertaining to indecency. And if you would like to press this issue further we can take this grade-school extortion and place its merit in federal court where you will be exposed as the illegal puritan sounding board you have always been, hopefully rendering these cushy jobs of yours obsolete.”

I won’t need any credit for penning it. Do with it what you will; edit the damn thing or put your own sentiments in. I’m not even sure I understand the details of your particular case. Perhaps you went to a day care center and blasted the song a hundred times over the intercom or you had a contest for five year-olds to do their best rendition. I’m sure you had your reasons, all of them stemming from ratings or advertising revenue, but it really doesn’t matter to me nor should it to anyone culling a check from the federal government or certainly some shut-in house wife with a valium jones and a Jesus fixation.

The important thing here is that you NEVER SURRENDER. Put up the fight of your lives or just be another stepping stone to the dark ages revisited. Your time as “Magic Radio” playing all the hits is over. This baby is CNN quality news now and since it reached the Reality Check News & Information Desk red-letter box, it has now become a front-page First Amendment imperative. The term “lightning rod” applies here. Time to take off the goofy radio banter hats and strap on a fucking helmet, because it will get ugly before it gets better.

Of course you could pay the fine and let this thing die out like your peers at a radio station in Madison, Wisconsin. Maybe lay-off a few troubled souls and cut back here and there to save face. You can ignore the fact that the right of the medium and the artists it exploits is on the block right now. What are a few grand and a spin monkey SUV giveaway contests to distract the locals really going to do to affect the future of basic American freedom? That would be easy, and easy is what puts money in the bank and keeps the rotary club and church types from painting you all as back-alley pornographers.

But that is no option. Not for this fight or this right, and not for these times. Lenny Bruce didn’t get run through the courts for nearly a decade so you can back down. Certainly those poor bastards at Lexington and Concord didn’t get blown to unrecognizable pieces for you to slink into a corner and forget your duty. Remember Berlin in the mid-30s’ when putting the “right message” across to the “right people” meant a wonderful playground for all who kept walking the “good” path?

It is time the FCC and the occasional frightened peon with too much time on their hands become non-factors in the grand scheme of democracy, and its time you make it happen. Do you want Colorado to forever be known for John Elway and the home of unsolved mentally abused child murders? Okay, so not many of us remember Elway much anymore, but you get my drift.

It’s time to put your state, your medium, and every decent law-abiding artist and listener on the map by simply telling these anonymous trolls to take this weak-ass subpoena of the sublime and cram it repeatedly up their collective rectum.

Then, when you inevitably win the case in a sane court of law (anywhere outside of Los Angeles) you can lead the brigade against this insidious group of power-mongers who sit in judgment of free speech like it was given to them from a lake in Camelot.

Put yourself on the culture map. Show some guts. We’re all behind you over here in the hub of true journalism, where the weak are sent whining back to the classroom and those hung up on following rules are reminded that nothing worth a shit in any civilization was achieved without the ever-dangerous maverick approach. And nothing has ever been changed without a fight, and it is time to get downright nasty with these sons of bitches. Make the government reveal names and positions and give the American people a guideline on free speech to debate and appeal.

Someone has to do it, why not you people? Once, the pioneer spirit pushed west and opened Colorado through heinous crimes against Native Americans with illegal and violent activity. In that demented spirit, let’s ferret out the guilty and shed the glaring light of reason on their sheltered heads. Fire the first blow in this smoldering coup de tat by refusing to pay an illegal fine used to separate us from our liberty.

Always On Guard,

jc

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George W. Bush & Big Money Oil ‘s biting essay on rising gas prices.

Aquarian Weekly 5/30/01 REALITY CHECK

OILMEN TO THE RESCUE

George W. Bush is an oilman. Make no mistake about that. To write or utter anything about an energy crisis and the President of the United States and avoid that slice of information is tantamount to discussing Martin Luther King’s contribution to the Civil Rights movement and fail to make the distinction about his race.

This is a prickly time for Captain Shoe-In now that his spotty environmental record is put to the dollar-sign test and his oil buddies are sending him gift baskets with tiny notes reminding him why he sits behind the big oak desk on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thus, no sane human wanting to continue a career in public servitude need entertain fantasies of Bush or anyone on his payroll walking into a meeting with the CEO of EXXON or MOBIL and demanding to cut back on profits to save the average consumer a few cents on the gallon. Not during this economy and not with the GOP running things.

Ari Fleischer would have to call a briefing to announce the drilling of crude oil in Bush Sr.’s head before that would happen. Mining the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a literal walk in the park in the face of this kind of dedication.

Environmentalists aside, anyone calling themselves American cannot be happy about paying two dollars a gallon to fill up his/her guzzling SUV to an industry reporting a annual 53% profit margin. We don’t give half a fart about any polar bears or white wolves or the serenity of virgin wilderness if it means being raped by angry Arabs wiping their collective ass with large, unmarked US bills.

Drilling on American soil is an answer. It’s either that or Junior makes a call to Kennebunkport and gets daddy’s war chart out of mothballs. Oilmen worth a salt will bomb Middle Eastern cities long before the three-dollar-a-gallon alarm begins to clang in the oval office. Bill Clinton ignored that one. His alarm was hooked up to Barbara Streisand’s cell phone and the Hoola Hoola Tittie bar on Corcoran St.

Big Bill left the oilman to clean up the mess, like the oilman’s poppa left his successor a pissed off Iraqi tyrant.

Out here on the outskirts of reality things are bogging down. I know small trucking firms that have recruited state inmates to carjack oil rigs in the middle of the night on the NY Thruway. They abscond with at least a dozen men engaged in highway detail a week by greasing the guards and grabbing them off the Garden State Parkway. My main man, G-Padre traded a pair of brand new Nikes for a return trip fill-up to Atlantic City and back. It was pitiful to see him hand those beautiful sleds over to some grease monkey for a couple of gallons of gas.

But times are hard and they call for the most desperate of measures.

I overheard one reporter friend tell me that Time magazine editors are throwing around Jimmy Carter’s name for a Bush cover story in June. “The comparisons are frightening,” he said. “Man barely beats sad-sack VP and is elected president under the pawl of a limping economy and a stand-off with OPEC.”

This jarred my own memories of selling doughnuts and coffee at the Freehold gas lines in the late 70s’. I can vividly see that sweaty fat guy punching a pregnant woman square in the face for having an even license plate on the odd day or vice versa. I cannot recall the details. I just know it’s the kind of thing you don’t forget easily.

And who will forget two dollars a gallon for gasoline anytime soon? If this keeps up, Bush will have to find an animal to screw or sell old college photos of he and a hairy cross-dresser on a coke binge to the Weekly World News in order to alter the legacy of the 2001 gas crunch. Who will run things then: Some left-wing radical actor like Warren Beatty talking about shiny cities on the hill? They’ll talk of the Bushs’ as one-term losers and a tainted dynasty of fatback oil barons licking the boots of terrorist sympathizers.

But there is no need to worry, unless you have any plans on visiting wildlife preserves. Not likely. You’ll be at the gas station long before that. Anyway, before the president allows his unceremonious ousting at the hands of liberal Hollywood freaks, he’ll be using the Yale campus as a blasting area for earth-culture tests.

It was all the vice president could do to keep a straight face when Tim Russert suggested the administration turn the whole affair into the OK Corral with Chaney and Bush on one end of the dusty street and EXXON and MOBILE on the other. I was hung over and barely awake, but I could swear Chaney smiled and said, “Tim, you can put a fancy dress and deep-red lipstick on a high plains wart hog, but it sure don’t make it the prom queen.”

Americans pay for tons a shit they don’t use, like education, health club subscriptions, deodorant; but everyone uses oil, so they will pay. But it is getting painfully obvious that the far end of the tether is within site and this always leads to political fallout or war.

But, a loss in profits?

Nope.

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The FBI & Timothy McVeigh ‘s biting expose on the hidden agenda.

Aquarian Weekly 5/23/01 REALITY CHECK

THE FBI & TIMOTHY McVEIGH

Raise your hand if you believe anything about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s non-disclosure of documents, misrepresentation of the illustrious John Doe No. 2, the bleeding-heart cross-that-T-and-dot-that-I speeches of new attorney general, John Ashcroft or the mia culpa congressional confessional of FBI director Louis Freeh.

Put your fucking hand down.

The FBI screwed this Timothy McVeigh case up. That is their history. You know what friends to lend money too, and whom to avoid. The trust of the American people in the FBI went by the boards many eons ago, the examples of which I will not waste space citing, but there is much more pepper in this particular sauce.

McVeigh, in between media performances and patriotic ramblings, waits to die. He is certainly a horrible blight on any society. Most civilizations would have eradicated this disease long ago, but we’ve been trying to improve on that.

Nobody really wants to execute anyone in this country, except, of course, those who’ve suffered losses by the hands of the accused. If we actually craved it, there would be hundreds of these things weekly, the appeal system wouldn’t be so convoluted and people with the most cash wouldn’t walk, and, the least, fry.

Politicians talk a good game, and we’re all so tough and intellectual about capitol punishment, but when it comes down to it there is an awful glut of Pontius Pilates in our midst. This is why many activists against the death penalty want to broadcast these things into your living rooms, so you can vicariously take part in your murder.

“What? I know I voted for the death penalty, but I don’t want to see the results of it! I’m a 21st Century American, filled with empathy and wit, and I surely don’t expect anything that I decide to result in injecting someone with poisons!”

This is why any talk about Pro-Choice activists actually wanting to abort fetuses is ludicrous. Sure it makes sense on a surface level to prevent unwanted births and to cleanse society of killers, but there is serious doubt anyone wants to see, participate or take responsibility for any of it.

Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people. Should he die? Should those 168 innocent people, many of them children, have died?

We discuss.

McVeigh sits and waits for his demise.

But now it doesn’t look like there will be any demise, at least not a forced on him by the state.

The FBI takes the current fall for this. Why? More importantly, why now?

Mere days before McVeigh takes the long walk there is suddenly years of hidden files, 700 of them, turning up all over the joint. Hiding that many files in the FBI for that length of time is tantamount to hiding an elephant in a crowded subway train. Since nobody in law enforcement wants to see a record-setting mass murder laugh in the face of justice, there can be only one explanation for this coincidental revelation: someone in the FBI feels guilty. And whoever it may be cannot be trembling with guilt over the systematic snuffing of a single mutant, but perhaps the premeditating killing of hundreds of people would do it.

Think about it for just a second. Why did McVeigh finally decide to take his medicore nothing of a life and strive for warped notoriety? According to the source himself, when McVeigh saw the Branch Davidian compound in Waco raided, and eventually torched by the FBI in 1994, something significant snapped in his brain. One year to the day later he took his revenge on the United States government by hitting one of its buildings.

Misguided? Horrific? Why, of course it is. But none-the-less, the terrifying result of what McVeigh, and frighteningly enough a great number of people slinking in the shadows of subculture have called a war, came to a head in April of 1995.

Janet Reno, then attorney general, did not understand this war. But the FBI knew damn well what a potential powder keg they were lighting when they started that land mission against a religious cult turned militia.

Militia was a popular word in 1994. Scores of angry mid-western white guys were throwing out hints that the shit would soon come down. And the FBI had these fuckers bugged and under constant surveillance. But they made the fatal mistake of ignoring one of the bureau’s key credos: Take everything dead serious. They did not. And those people in Oklahoma City paid with their lives.

Why didn’t the investigation, dubious and corrupt as it may have been, weed the guilty out? No one has any satisfying answers on that. Reno, who should have been jailed for the Waco fiasco long ago, walked. Nobody said anything, and nobody will.

But someone inside the FBI cracked last week, and ironically, McVeigh, the man who perpetuated a reactionary heinous act of pure evil will benefit. But that’s fine, because there really isn’t any sane reason for killing someone who has killed. You hear the victim’s family members say they will rest easy when McVeigh is dead. But isn’t there something strangely wrong with that? As if the murder of another can somehow quell the pain of a loss. That somehow someone’s little girl will rise from the grave the second McVeigh’s heart stops.

It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to execute someone in this country. Lawyers, appeals and political debates drain the coffers dry. Maybe it costs more to feed and provide cable television and cigarettes for murders, but who really knows? It’s all a great debate to keep us from silly things like the truth. But the pertinent aspect of this latest public farce, conducted in front of yet another innocuous House of Appropriations Committee, is that the FBI had a confessed mass murder on the way off the planet and slipped up big time. It is always easiest to ask how when the real question worth a damn is why?

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Explaining Robert Downey Jr. & Other Related Mishaps hypothesizes on the drug culture.

Aquarian Weekly 5/16/01 REALITY CHECK

EXPLAINING ROBERT DOWNEY JR. & OTHER RELATED MISHAPS

There are scores of bloodthirsty terrorists sitting on billions of dollars of crude oil and mounds of cocaine, using a host of major Middle Eastern cities and foreign aircrafts as violent political targets, that do far less time than Robert Downey Jr. He is unlucky. He is stupid. But he is far less guilty of anything as heinous as 99% of the people he’s shared his years of incarceration beside. He cannot even be considered a world-class drug addict by latter 20th century standards or even those in the 19th century who lived normal, even respected, lives in high tax brackets with worthier vocations than actor.

Of course the drugs Downey has a problem with are the recreational kind, not the billion-dollar prescription industry of pills dolled out in alarming tonnage to the elderly, infirmed and mentally unstable. The lucrative partnership between the medical community and the criminally avaricious prescription drug lords is another issue for another column. To dissect that line of painful waste needs a journalist with a larger paycheck and sharper typing skills.

No, these are not even the drugs of the middle class teen hipsters with their Ecstasy and marijuana, playing experimental rodent for a culture of MTV Pepsi-heads, addled with angst and hormones and trading oral sex like baseball cards with meager parental allowances.

It is every generation’s immutable law of rebellion to stir the cauldron until either death or, worse still, maturity robs youth of its spirit. From the whiskey bottle and Budweiser can to the bubbling bong and hobby glue, kids have been stealing away for the odd brain-numbing escape for eons, and all the “Just Say No” campaigns will never change that.

And those who hypothesize the genetic, pre-disposed, inherent dangers of the drug addict are missing the larger point about Downey and his ilk. Drugs come easy to Downey’s sensibilities and physical make-up because he can afford it. He has the kind of free time and cash most of us work our asses to the bone trying to compile so we can conjure new and exciting ways to entertain ourselves.

Let’s face it, the reason the middle class exists is to keep self-destruction to a minimum. If 90% of us had Downey’s money and fame we’d be lucky to stay alive for a month. I’ve personally witnessed, and occasionally contributed to, dangerous acts of treacherous debauchery for less than a grand a head. The money and time Downey’s dealing with inevitably leads to the type of behavior that cost Rome its earthly lease, and much can be learned from their super-human gluttony.

Downey falls into the category of misguided invincibility, a character whose life is an episodic limit strain of fearlessness. Drugs and alcohol are merely symptoms of the illusion. Using his case as an example of drug abuse in this country is like comparing your eighth grade composition to “The Great Gatsby”.

It seems Robert Downey Jr’s biggest problem is his inability to handle a fucking high. There are people reading this right now who know full well that it takes special drugs to get you to wander into a stranger’s house and crawl into their kid’s bed.

There are far more typical types of insatiable drug grazer.

The first of these are persons with Nothing To Lose because of economic, societal or mental handicaps. They cannot view the world with a sober eye because it holds only pain, anguish and failure. We see them on our street corners and in our schools. We’d like to help them out, but they’d only crawl right back into the bottle or grab the pipe and we desperately need to upgrade our computer and watch Survivor.

Then there are the unfortunate Dumb and Bored types, who spend money they don’t have in order to destroy a life they should be kissing the ground to maintain. These are the least interesting and less publicized druggies because they are our neighbors and friends; coke- heads, burnouts and boozers, whose life is downtime to ingestion.

We know them, and, to varying degrees, we ARE them. Most times the best we can say about these people is they’re fun, to an extent, then they become annoying, and then we don’t answer their calls anymore.

The rest of us spend the bulk of our time throwing slogans and solutions at recreational drugs, including alcohol. We oft times conveniently miss the clear correlation between drugs, guns and art. All three have been accused of causing damage, the first two for obvious reasons, and the third, for less, but far more intriguing ones.

Those heralding the right to carry firearms love to espouse the theory that guns do not harm anyone, people do. Yet they love whining about a War On Drugs. Others claim film and music tear at the fabric of morality, yet ignore their kids, except to fill them up with patriotic and religious dogma worthy of science fiction.

This brings us back to Robert Downey Jr. and the age-old question of environment. A raging alcoholic, living in a land of world-class drug abusers, raised Downey, and as he has cited in many interviews, Downey’s father handed him a joint in preadolescence and that was that. A child does not know instinctively that to “get high” is to escape reality or expand the mind. The child also does not know what is evil or fun or dangerous or illegal.

It is not merely genes or environment that lead Downey, or anyone, to the level of addict. Downey’s father fucked up and now we spend a good deal of our time wondering about the drug problem when it comes down to a Robert Downey Jr. problem.

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Dissecting Bob Kerrey & Viet Nam War Atrocities gets to the bone on war.

Aquarian Weekly 5/9/01 REALITY CHECK

WAR IS HELL & OTHER EXCLUSIVES

As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular. – Oscar Wilde

Big story this week: Innocent people died in Viet Nam. Other noteworthy events were the sun came up today and when you stop breathing…you die.

Stop the presses: War is Bad. Put it up in huge letters on the front page and send a copy to Dan Rather when you can wake him.

It was apparently newsworthy for Time magazine to slap former Senator and Navy SEAL, Bob Kerrey on its cover for his recent revelations about killing women and children in combat. At first he wasn’t sure he didn’t kill the enemy. He might have killed women and children. Somebody killed women and children. Whatever.

This is still an issue for anti-Viet Nam activists that cannot seem let go. They somehow feel by laying it all out on the line about the horrors of that unjust war, as if any war is just, then a nation and humanity will be healed. These are the same dupes who protest this country’s involvement in ceasing the systematic eradication of people due to religion or race or some other insignificant attribute.

But who among us can blame them? Anytime a father, brother or friend gets shipped against his will to a jungle halfway across the globe to be slaughtered for the pride or ideology of the rich and powerful, it tends to take all talk of glory out of the thing. No one wrote any clever musical ditties or memorable slogans promoting that.

War is Bad. But war is also the best thing a country can do for its economy. There are still scholars and historians who swear on stacks of Bibles that every war from Ancient Greece to WWII to that asinine Desert Storm was the result of sagging economies. War is good for money and if there is killing, mass or otherwise, there is most likely money involved: Money, power, God, all of that crap. No Time cover or endless debate on burning babies and massacred innocents will make it stop.

Blood is on the hands of Kerrey and his troupe. This is the unfortunate reality of war, but blame, fault, public derision and outcry should not accompany it. Kerrey was put into one of life’s most impossible situations. He was a soldier. His job was to kill and break stuff. Mostly, Kerrey wanted to stay alive. In the midst of chaos and disorder, shit happens.

The Shit. Isn’t that what the poor souls like Kerrey called battle in South East Asia? Kerrey has to live with that, but the blame, no sir.

Blame goes to John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. This was their war, enacted strategically by the heartless kill mongers who culled paychecks from the Pentagon, the CIA and the military. If there is anything resembling a hell, there is a special wing housing them. And they are surely trading anecdotes with the litany of leaders who sent the masses to their doom for a patch of land.

But these have been the gory details of civilization since its senseless inception; so dissecting these concepts, as if it happened for the first time yesterday, is redundant and silly and really should stop. Now.

The ONLY reason to perpetuate this sorrowful mess, beyond television and radio ratings and newspaper sales, is the remote possibility that someone might learn about how disgusting and meaningless the loss of ANY life is over rifts about borders or perspective. But that will not happen, because as long as there is the penis and available currency, atrocities will soon follow. Dredging up memories of the poor souls sent across the globe to set this horror show in motion does no good for anyone.

Sure its interesting, like watching idiots eat bugs for a million dollars, but after its over we’ll be distracted by Cuban refugee children or a celebrity drug overdose. What is most important is that we understand that this country has been involved in some heinous war crimes. This is a prerequisite for any country. Ask the original natives of any continent. Ask Native Americans.

Viet Nam was a major fuck up. It was wrong and pointless and costs thousands of lives for little reason beyond ego. But in the grand scale of the putrid abortion man has made of this globe, Viet Nam is nothing more than blowing through a toll on the Garden State Parkway.

We used to revile people who came forward with the truth about war. Then we applauded them. Now we want them to stand for everything that is bad about anything. And when they are done, we wonder how they sleep or could have kept it hidden for so long.

Bob Kerrey wanted to be president. He failed. Now he is pouring his heart out to magazine editors and 60 Minutes. But this is not going to mean a hill of beans to people who lay in wait for the next big American invasion, so the sales of ammo and helicopters and flags can rise and CNN can make media stars of cub reporters willing to stand on rooftops and be bombarded by missile fire. It makes for great television and wins awards, don’t you know.

People will protest, make noise and eventually governments will come to some compromise on how to satiate the masses and gear up for another slice of Hades. And in the middle of it all will be another Bob Kerrey, and he will kill innocents and be haunted by it. He may or may not tell us about it. But it won’t make a fucking difference.

Hey, did you hear?

War is Bad.

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Ani DiFranco Live At Carnegie Hall ‘s Concert Review

 

Aquarian Weekly 5/2/01

SWEETNESS & EXALTATION
Ani DiFranco / Carnegie Hall 4/6/01

New York, New York

Ani DiFranco’s one-woman; nitroglycerin-meets-match acoustic performance at Carnegie Hall on a foggy Friday night in mid-town Manhattan was nothing short of a pristine musical tour de force. Thrashing through an eclectic repertoire of be-bop bluegrass and funk-laden folk, sparing no emotion along the way, DiFranco regaled the adoring packed house with tales of political woe and soul-searching poetry, capturing that rare marriage between artist and venue that is best defined by the inexplicable measurement of fate.

Draped in a black ensemble she described as “thrown together”, and hardly intimidated by the 110 year-old grand musical palace, DiFranco embraced the spacious loom of the stage as if she were a haunting echo from its glorious past. Yet the entire evening never strayed from the intimacy of a smoky roadside bar with a folkie in the corner crooning road-weary ballads.

With a Woody Guthrie pout and a Keith Richards strut, DiFranco relentlessly pounded and beautifully caressed a host of guitars while weaving and contorting her tiny body, but it was in those moments of jarring silence that she exalted the performance to levels of brilliant expression.

Each song from DiFranco’s vast catalogue of self-published work seemed to drift and dance along the gorgeous architecture as she glided in and out of the deep blue and soft red of the stage lights like a wandering minstrel vagabond, chirping and braying and screaming and singing with soft, childlike sweetness.

Featured throughout the hour and a half show were new numbers from her Reckoning/Reveling two-CD set to be released four days hence, including the wistful ode to jealousy, “Reveling”, the soul-searching “Subdivisions” and the tearfully melodic, “Garden of Simple”.

The new material segued seamlessly into the more well-known classics that DiFranco introduced time and again in a whisper as “one from way back then.” There was a palpable kinship between each song, spanning layers of her artistic maturation, as if they were innocent children from various cultures walking hand-in-hand with one purpose, to cajole and provoke, but never stand still.

Particularly moving were rousing versions of “Out of Range”, “Shameless”, “Tis’ of Thee” and the longing lilt of “Both Hands”, which completed several charged encores, as DiFranco edged to the lip of the stage to thank the hysterical crowd with one final, emphatic chord.

A high wire musical act worthy of awe, Ani DiFranco never fails to deliver the goods without a hint of pretension and pop posturing so prevalent in many of today’s artists, and at merely thirty years of age, she remains the salvation of pure musical performance. And on this night, there could have been no better example.

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The Real China & U.S. Relations Discovered – Satirist, James Campion inside the “China Syndrome”.

Aquarian Weekly 4/18/01 REALITY CHECK

THE CHINA SYNDROME

The annual Reality Check News & Information Desk memo to the State Department regarding China and the defacto Cold War we’ve been waging with them for thirty years has once again only revealed the redundancy of its measures, the idiocy of its intent and the gnawing fact that it wasn’t due until mid-summer. But an international incident has a way of expediting useless correspondence, and there is little reason why anyone over there would be surprised at the events culminating from a spy plane boo-boo or why anyone should apologize for it.

A Chinese pilot died and 24 American spies were detained for a bit, but in the grand scheme of international espionage, all things ended somewhere between hunky and dory.

Human life has never rated particularly high in the overall theme of foreign relations. The Huns and the Vikings tried it for a time, but found raping and pillaging far more lucrative. The Greeks and Romans realized after a short bout of conscience that it just got in the way, and most of today’s nations manage that difficult balance of moral center while disregarding humanity completely.

The United States puts conditions on human life based on size of paycheck, color of skin and whether testicles are involved. China is completely lost in this category.

The real debate here is about financial diplomacy and the collective super ego: who looks like they won or lost before we’re back to business as usual.

And it is that spirit which is celebrated each time one of our corporations deals with China’s marketplace and the almighty free trade is freewheeling. Yet we spy and they spy, and we meet and they meet, and both countries put up wonderful fronts for the press and mom and pop apple pie and those unfortunate human rights casualties masquerading as citizens of China.

So it is a tad laughable that anything approaching a hostage situation, complete with room service and Great Wall rights, would rile anyone on either end of this political farce. Of course the Chinese are clumsy when it comes to snowing public relations, something this country has excelled at for a long time. Meanwhile, there are college kids in Beijing right now who hack into the Pentagon computer system on their lunch hour while IBM copyboys are sending forty miles of Chinese military secrets across crackling phone lines daily.

So for eleven days both countries postured over whom would apologize and how, and then in the wondrous tradition of a Bill Clinton grand jury appearance, the word “sorry” became only an apology when attached to a specific incident, as in “we’re sorry for the guy dying, but not for spying” or “we’re sorry we had to land because of your pilot’s inexplicably fatal actions, but not for landing on your air base.”

Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, a little perplexed that he’s not allowed to buy anyone in the new administration yet, was in the precarious position of staring down THE superpower on the planet, with one-tenth of its nuclear firepower and a host of his own spies in U.S. prisons. Zemin’s flimsy credibility stems from China’s massive population of potential American product consumers and the cheap slave labor that keeps K-Mart upper management in Christmas bonuses. China’s half-assed policy with Taiwan and North Korea is a minor inconvenience, and any real nuclear threat over the past four decades has been minimal at best.

China is no Soviet Union, regardless of what the flag-waving brutes tell you. The Chinese haven’t been as aggressive nor have they flaunted military might around the region the way Russia did for decades after World War II. China’s greatest crimes are within its borders and the human-rights abominations that are often ignored in Tibet.

And with all this spying going on, the U.S. government knows every gory detail.

This is followed by the obligatory public outrage, a few annual protests, an in-depth investigative report on 60 minutes during sweeps week and a bevy of speeches by government officials looking to keep the gig.

But yet we keep trading and smiling and spying, so, of course, there will be the occasional reconnaissance air craft lumbering across the sky – over international waters in international airspace, mind you – and something might or might not run into it. Then things are going to be strange and silly for a short time while everyone in charge scrambles to save face.

The real debate here is about financial diplomacy and the collective super ego: who looks like they won or lost before we’re back to business as usual. And rest assured business is what we’re talking about, because the days of “Yankee-Go-Home” and “Over There” and the comfy sense of national pride take the back seat to popular terms like “Bottom Line” and Profit Margins”.

George W. Bush has gotten what he wished for all along, he is the CEO of American Trade Concerns LTD, and it’s his job to keep those wheels greased and put out little brush fires like this latest embarrassment. And anytime a spy mission or a an under-the-table deal surfaces to the embarrassment of the two nations, there will be a ton of meetings and name calling and nasty good old-fashioned pride. And when it has been taken care of, like this latest screw up, then the money machine will be jumpstarted and all is right with the world again.

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Campaign Finance For An Enlightened Age ‘s manifesto for the cash poor politico.

Aquarian Weekly 4/11/01 REALITY CHECK

CAMPAIGN FINANCE FOR AN ENLIGHTENED AGE

Hey, goodbye all you punks Stay young and stay high Just hand me my checkbook And I’ll crawl out to die – Pete Townshend

I recently received a petition masquerading as a public relations memo faxed from the McCain/Feingold rah-rah group. It inadvertently alerted me to a growing problem in Washington called the Campaign Finance Reform bill. It was packed with twenty Senate phone numbers and instructions to flood their offices with calls demanding a ban on soft money contributions from corporations, special interest groups and Hollywood types.

A gentleman calling himself Cuddy signed the thing with a pleasant, “Thanks for your help”; an assumption that rubbed me the wrong way for reasons I will touch upon further ahead.

The whole Reform thing seemed like a good idea last year when everyone in the Republican Party attached the flimsy “reformer” ideology to every campaign speech. First John McCain was a Reformer, which helped him rap up the New Hampshire primary, and then George W. Bush became the “Real Reformer” and crushed the original Reformer. After a few months of this, Al Gore decided that being a Reformer was just as good as any other bullshit that might get him elected.

Meanwhile boatloads of cash came pouring into every campaign all the way to November. Ironically McCain rode the crest of the duplicitous wave that rode G.W. into the White House. Junior even had the old war hero up for a photo-op or two and then went about the business of making the Democrats pay for eight years of the Flying Clinton Show.

But a strange thing happened on the way to the inauguration hootenanny: John McCain wasn’t fucking around. He really wanted to reform campaign finance laws, and do it yesterday. Bush promptly dismissed this as grandstanding, gave McCain and his soldier-in-arms, Russ Feingold a friendly pat on the fanny and told them maybe.

Last week McCain bugged everyone within earshot to consider, vote, conclave and piss-fight over some measure of campaign finance reform. Proponents like Tennessee senator, Fred Thompson argued for stringent laws banning everything but citizen limits, making the NRA, union money, Exxon and the ACLU impotent in its wake. Opponents like Kentucky senator, Mitch McConnell, who told Time last week that the whole thing was “stunningly stupid”, join Nebraska senator, Chuck Hagel by adding fat to the bill with the hopes that it will be laughed out of Congress by happy hour.

But anyone discussing this with any serious hope of being elected to anything above and beyond dogcatcher needs to keep the soft, hard or sideways money coming from all ends. And I, for one, concur, because its high time I cash in on the American political sweepstakes.

It is my plan over the next two to three years, perhaps even the following 16 months, to earn an obscene payoff for illegal activities, including, among other gems, fraud, laundering, blackmail and journalism all wrapped up in a neat little package with one goal: Make myself independently wealthy enough to sufficiently create a special interest clan called the AAPGF: Artists Against Puritan Goat Fuckers.

I’m still working out the name, and not because Goat Fuckers is too strong and possibly offensive to the PETA crowd. On the contrary, Goat Fuckers stays, but if you really want to get something done inside the Beltway you need eye-opening political contributions and AAPGF is a difficult sound bite pronunciation for the producers of Hardball. And make no mistake, we’ll be spending quality television time making a ruckus and getting the ear of politicos with power dreams.

Initially the AAPGF would secure a finer ride for its president, maybe something in a Mercedes convertible and perhaps larger carnivorous fish for the recently manicured moat surrounding the Putnam Bunker. A close second would be the actual group, a heavy-bacon watchdog agency railing against any level of censorship. Major contributions from solvent creative types, huge studios and productions companies will help purchase the odd congressmen and senator, who we’ll ride through the system and crush any bill threatening the First Amendment like Campaign Finance Reform.

Plan B would be to stockpile the funds and go the other way for laughs. Ramrod the bill home with my pal Caddy over at the McCain office and pass the power of campaigns into the hands of the journalists. Then we’ll see who gets the serious kickbacks, that can, and will be funneled into a private cartel of freaks threatening anyone seen trying to regulate anything remotely creative.

Not that campaign finance reform is creative, but it does fall under the soothing blanket of the First Amendment. The National Rifle Association and National Organization for Women have every right to battle for their constituents as politicians do. And the AAPGF will not back down to any laws hampering our near-libel attempts at painting enemies of free expression as Morality Thugs orFear Pimps, our two favorite pejorative monikers. Murder and rape are worthy causes, but where is the support for people wanting to photograph 100 nudes on Wall Street or painting elephant shit on religious icons?

And while the freelance scribe business is both utterly degrading and grossly underpaid, it does have its setbacks. Why can’t an eager sod like myself take the American dream and abuse it to absurd degrees, with vague references to voicing the disgruntled nature of the bored and frightened, and cash in on the effort? I ask you: Can you deny a fellow patriot his right to buy happiness?

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