Aquarian Weekly
Reality Check

James Campion
In Praise of The Writer’s Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut and the Many Lives of Slaughterhouse-Five and a Discussion with its Author, Tom Roston 
The most difficult highwire act for a writer is taking a well-worn and beloved subject and weaving something new and insightful into it. Author Tom Roston has accomplished this with his new book The Writer’s Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut and the Many Lives of Slaughterhouse-Five by getting behind the celebrated novel’s humor, pathos, and charming storytelling that would make the 1969 anti-war, science fiction mind-bender a Twentieth-Century literary classic. For the first time, we meet the many faces and moods of its author, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., who for many, including yours truly, has marked the time of our intellectual and cultural awakening. The best compliment I can offer Mr. Roston is that I have learned why I loved Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade from the moment I cracked it open at fifteen and why it keeps speaking to me more than four decades hence.

At the height of the Vietnam War, Slaughterhouse-Five arrived as a mighty yawp from the bow of the counterculture, written by a wise-cracking forty-six year-old curmudgeon who had survived one of the most horrifying fire-bombings of World War II as a prisoner of war in 1945. After the devastation of the cultured German town of Dresden, Vonnegut pained to create something of worth from its ashes. And for Roston, and those who adore the book, Slaughterhouse-Five reverberates with mental and emotional trauma, an artistic endeavor to quell its author’s demons, while struggling to fit madness into a logical construct (spoiler alert: Vonnegut never finds any logic in war – “poo-tee-weet” – because it doesn’t exist).

This is where Roston began his journey, oddly spurned on by the whims of weird rumor.

“I knew I wanted to confront PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in the book because that just seemed like a clear prism through which Slaugherhouse-Five is understood,” Roston shared with me. “But I just didn’t know how I was going to approach it. And then, as you read in the first chapter, what really got me going was when I got wind of this cooky, implausible story that Vonnegut may have committed a war crime.” Roston playfully dubs Vonnegut, Nazi Slayer!, the central figure in a dubious yarn of the young writer and fellow POW searching out their former Nazi guard to enact vengeance upon him. Roston concludes this never happened, but… “It got me energized, and then I started thinking, ‘Why is this relevant?’ And, to me, it was very relevant because it helped address what I felt, and what I feel people feel in general: they’re excited by war, because they don’t understand war. That, to me, is what Slaughterhouse Five is about – trying to explain what war feels like, which is terrible. But a person like me, who has never experienced it, can never really understand that.”

Thus, Roston fills the pages of The Writer’s Crusade with the voices of those who have experienced war (from Vietnam through Iraq and Afghanistan), and moreover, wrote about it in essays, articles, and books, and in one case used painting as an outlet to face living with it. But at the same time, while providing a useful history of how the medical community and the U.S. Army dealt with the soldier’s mental traumas over the years, Roston is careful not to succumb to lazy syllogism. He warns that it is not even certain Vonnegut suffered from PTSD, something the author denied throughout his life, despite bouts of depression, alcoholism, and an inability to connect with people, specifically his family. This is the avatar Vonnegut creates in Billy Pilgrim, a POW, who experiences the same Dresden trauma and the ensuing life of listless inertia, where he becomes “unstuck in time.”

If you’re fully delusional, and you think you’re talking to a porn star or to God, and it makes you happy, perhaps that’s okay, by you.

“I discovered Billy Pilgrim to already be insecure and kind of a little bit messed up from the start,” says Roston. “When he first enters the war, he’s wandering around, letting himself get shot at – he’s lost in it, ridding him of his humanity. War will do that to anyone, and I think that’s what he’s doing.”

And so, one is led to ask, and Roston does so in his book: Is Vonnegut using his protagonist, Pilgrim to work out a delusional construct – being “unstuck in time” and traveling to the planet Tralfamadore to live with a porn star in an id bubble of “happiness” to deal with his trauma. Or are these fantastical things really happening to him? Vonnegut provides clues that these events are indeed figments of Pilgrim’s imagination and merely a coping mechanism, which in turn, gets Roston and readers of Slaughterhouse Five to surmise that its author is using the novel for the same ends.

“No, I don’t think it’s actually happening to Billy Pilgrim, but then that leads us to the ultimate question; does it even matter?” asks Roston, who reasons that if you’re fully delusional, and you think you’re talking to a porn star or to God, and it makes you happy, perhaps that’s okay, by you. “It’s the only bit of happiness poor Billy seems to get,” he concludes.

Roston also deconstructs Vonnegut’s aim to create in Billy Pilgrim a character not unlike Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where there are no ups and downs in his storyline. He is not only living in a fantasy, but also impassive, removed from humanity. “If you drew an emotional line throughout the play, Hamlet just goes straight across. I think if you look at Billy Pilgrim, it’s the exact same thing, it’s just straight across. I mean, in Pilgrim’s mind, maybe things are getting better, but I think Vonnegut’s point was to write a story with a character whose life never gets better.”

Ironically, it was the success of Slaughterhouse-Five that would make Vonnegut’s life better. He was now a famous and wealthy author, and yet, Roston found this to perhaps be the most interesting part of the author’s catharsis. “Before the success of Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut was always trying to merely pay the bills, until he wasn’t, and then once he wasn’t, I don’t know if he was that happy writing, because he wasn’t writing good stuff anymore. So, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I think he may have been the happiest when was working on his masterpiece from 1968 to 1969. Maybe he was feeling everything that he had hoped for an artist to feel, because he knew he had it. I would love to think that. His letters suggest that’s not the case, but his focus during this period created something lasting and great.”

What Roston does not want us to forget, and I could not agree more, is that Slaughterhouse -Five, like Vonnegut’s entire canon, is damn entertaining stuff. It is funny, thought-provoking satire, social commentary with the kind of wit and page-turning drama that made it a best-seller and continues to dazzle readers today. Despite using his work to find light at the end of the tunnel, the author found a relatable voice. I know I related to it as a teenager and still do, as the book has grown along with me into my years as a working writer. I cannot say that about all the books that jazzed me as a kid. And I thank Tom Roston for reminding me of this.

“Almost everyone who I talked to read it in their teens, and they read it the first time as just being a fun, goofy, crazy book,” concludes Roston. “They didn’t read it as being a book about trauma or a book about war or anything, it was just this wild ride.”

Read More

World Trade Center Heroism ‘s report on 9/11/01.

Aquarian Weekly 10/31/01 REALITY CHECK

9/11/01 Part V HUMANITY LOST One Man’s Heroism in the Face of Historic Tragedy

Glenn Russo, a 41 year-old Lodi resident, settled into his desk on the 49th floor of the World Trade Center’s tower two around 8:30 on the morning of 9/11/01. He expected to make a phone call he’d made countless times over the four plus years he’d acted as client manager for an insurance brokerage firm. Maybe he expected the call would last two minutes, or even twenty. He certainly did not expect that within an hour he would be contemplating his own death in a sea of debris, smoke and billowing fire.

“I heard what I initially believed was an explosion,” he remembers. “I told the person on the phone to hang on a minute, walked to the window, and saw desks and metal and glass falling out of black smoke.”

Tower one was on fire some twenty stories above his head, so Glenn Russo thought it might be a good idea to round up his fellow employees for a leisurely stroll down and out of the building. He did not expect it to be a panic-sprint straight out of a B-grade disaster flick.

“People didn’t understand at first,” he sighs. “They were actually arguing with me, saying they needed to get their keys or a laptop. There were announcements that our tower was safe, but I knew what I saw out my window, and it wasn’t good.”

“I could clearly visualize my son. I thought to myself ‘I will never see him again’. I was preparing for the end.”

The image of office furniture plummeting toward the street in a swirl of black soot and flames was enough to convince many of his fellow employees that an orderly exit was necessary. And upon the rhythmic decent down the stairs toward the elevators on the 44th floor, Glenn Russo found a woman named Christal Putkowski, gripping a cane, and hobbling toward the security guard who would not allow even women needing replacement surgery on both knees to use the elevator.

Glenn Russo did not expect to see his late father standing there. “

As soon as I saw her I thought of my dad,” he says.

His father had suffered from diabetes, was a double-amputee, and lived his remaining years in a wheel chair. “I knew very well how to respond to someone who needed assistance,” he continues. “All that time with my dad, I knew how to speak and how to act. It was natural to me, so I just told her, ‘I’ll protect you.’

In a letter of gratitude written to Russo’s company, Marsh & McLennan dated 9/17, Mrs. Putkowski recalls: “Imagine a stranger saying “I will protect you’, a statement he made more than once.” It is a letter she filled with words like “gallant” and “courageous” to describe Glenn Russo’s ensuing actions.

“I had this running conversation with her,” Russo recounts. “We talked about our children, her teenage daughters and my five year-old son. We talked about our jobs, offices, anything to make the growing chaos around us seem normal.”

With a frightened woman in his arms, and people bellowing from behind to move aside or hurry up — and the anxiety of hundreds of people, now convinced that danger was imminent, careening down — Glenn Russo took each step, one at a time, for nearly fifteen excruciatingly long minutes.

He did not expect a commercial airliner to suddenly slam into the building he was carefully trying to flee.

“The stairwell shook,” he remembers. “I thought it was still just debris from the other tower.”

People rushed and pushed and crammed past their polite conversation and the step-by-step escape that must have seemed like a slow motioned crawl to everyone else.

“We made it to the special-handicap elevators on the 40th floor,” Russo recalls.

Once outside, any thoughts he’d harbored of a clear, welcomed freedom were smashed by the utter devastation, panic and death between them and any kind of safety.

Glenn Russo did not expect the building he was just sitting in minutes ago to be tumbling down around him.

“The two of us walked slowly under a canapé on Cortlandt Street,” Russo recounts. “The whole place was being deluged with debris.”

“He instructed me to keep my eyes closed and my head down,” Mrs. Putkowski writes.

The sound of blaring sirens, screeching tires and pitched screams were everywhere, the smoke was thick and burned his eyes, but through his wincing glare Glenn Russo could see people being hit by falling metal and brick, dying instantly, others sheltering their heads, some standing shell-shocked and crying.

He didn’t expect to see what happened next.

“These amazingly brave cops, rescue workers and firefighters were appearing out of nowhere, running toward the chaos,” he said. “I could not believe it.”

It was then that Glenn Russo didn’t expect to live. “I thought right then we were going to die at any moment,” he remembers.

“I could clearly visualize my son. I thought to myself ‘I will never see him again’. I was preparing for the end.”

After two or three minutes of this, Glenn Russo told Mrs. Putkowski, trembling beside him, and three women looking on stunned, that they should simply, “Make a run for it.”

So, with a deep breath and a little prayer, and the tallest building in the world’s largest city literally falling from the sky, Glenn Russo, locked arm and arm with a woman he’d met less than fifteen minutes earlier, and walked toward Broadway.

It was a walk he’d taken everyday; clear sunny days, blustery snow days, brisk autumn afternoons. He didn’t expect his next walk would be through a war zone.

“We made it alright,” he remembers. “Chrissy said to me, ‘You saved my life. I owe you lunch.'” And with a breath of tenuous relief, Glenn Russo sent Mrs. Putkowski in the direction of her home; Staten Island, away from the death and the sirens, and set about securing his own life.

“I made it down to City Hall just in time to watch my tower come down,” he says, hesitating over the horrific reality of that image. “And my heart ripped out.”

Glenn Russo, only moments before, chatting on the phone in his chair at his desk in that huge building a few blocks away, did not expect to see it disappear.

So he staggered toward a curb, nearly blinded and teetering on the brink of utter shock, and watched humanity take hold. “I saw New York City responding everywhere I looked,” he remembers. “People of every race and ethnicity caring, hugging and carrying each other; offering water, shelter, anything they could. I was so moved by it.”

And Glenn Russo could no longer contain the calm and bravado he’d mustered from somewhere. Sitting on a curb near Union Square Park, he broke down.

A man asked him if he needed water. More caring. It touched him deeply.

There were 1,700 employees of Marsh & McLennan and its subdivisions, Marsh USA Inc. Guy Carpenter, Mercer and Seabury & Smith on the morning of 9/11/01. Today nearly 300 are gone. There would be more, if not for Glenn Russo, who picked up his phone to make a call on a Tuesday morning, not unlike any other Tuesday morning, in a building he truly loved for its view and immensity.

He didn’t expect that it could be no more.

He didn’t expect to face death long before lunchtime.

He didn’t expect to be a hero.

Mrs. Christal Putkowski still has to buy him that lunch. But there will be time for that.

“We’re friends now,” Russo says. “We talk everyday. There is a bond there. It will always be there.”

“In the wake of horror,” Mrs. Putkowski wrote in her letter. “Good always surfaces.”

Amidst the loss of humanity, there is humanity found, perhaps a humanity that is never noticed, or even expected. Glenn Russo expects it now.

Something Christal Putkowski cannot deny.


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

America’s Covert War on Terrorism goes down and dirty with the CIA.

Aquarian Weekly 10/10/01 REALITY CHECK

9/11/01 Part IV KASBAH ROCKING Cooking the Great American Ass Whup

Right now a Columbian refugee is having dinner with an overtly effeminate Taliban gunrunner in a quaint bistro on the outskirts of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. They’re discussing the coming ski season and desert fall fashions. Drinks are flowing and names are innocently exchanged. Every witty aside by the young gunrunner is met with hearty laughter, as a hidden tape recorder hums inside the Columbian’s left breast pocket.

By morning the gunrunner will be missing. Word will spread through the sequestered Taliban offices, memos will be sent, and maybe a few more soldiers will defect to the Northern Alliance. But after a few days, there will be no mention of him. When his family comes calling, they will be sent to a briefing, and perhaps, also turn up missing.

A few days later maps and phone records will mysteriously disappear. There will be internal arguments and stepped-up security. Rankles officials will call for strip searches, and someone might be shot for treason. Word will spread that two or three training camp security personnel didn’t show up for work that morning, and relative innocents will be tortured. The air of paranoia will thicken and the stench will spread quickly.

And what of the friendly Columbian gentlemen?

Nothing says victory quite like a drunken Marine with a hard-on puking all over a holy relic.

He will be enjoying a weekend in Paris by Halloween, and several other well-versed, highly cash-motivated ex-cons will take his place long before he boards the airplane.

This is just one of hundreds of stories that have transpired since the dark hours of 9/11/01. And it continues like clockwork, while we wave flags and watch the World Series.

There are speeches and confirmations by smokescreen politicians and tenuous international alliances bonded and broken. The media leaks info regarding “special forces” deployment. Ships are whisking their way to the Persian Gulf in teary ceremonies.

Soon there will be raids and bombings, and sad pictures of charred babies on CNN; but that is showbiz.

For this “new war” will be fought at card tables and brothels, airport bathrooms and opium dens, back-alleys and sand dunes, one-room apartments and railway stations.

It is happening while you read this.

Right now, as Arab officials and foreign diplomats chat with Tim Russert and Paula Zahn, and the president of the United States says all the right things about Islam and a cushy Palestinian State, there are militants being purchased, toilets being bugged and well-connected Syrian drug dealers being fed hot lead through tubes inserted into their colon.

It isn’t pretty, but safety and freedom are two dangerous possessions. Both need protection by viable front men with Harvard degrees, power ties and sharp vocabularies, and those invisible others, who would think nothing of gouging the eyes out of a Pakistani student with a pair of pliers and rubbing alcohol.

That’s how the good old OSS got things done in a bygone age of racial profiling and poison dispersion.

The days before all the fuck-ups in Cuba, and that sloppy JFK mess down in Dallas. Long before head-butts with the Pentagon in Korean and Viet Nam, miscommunication in Honduras and Grenada, the historically bad “plumbers” faus pax that ended in the Watergate fiasco, and a few miscalculated phone calls to the oval office during hostage brokering in Iran.

That was the era referred to at the FBI during the 90s’ as “The Slump”. Even victories seemed like hollow rewards during it.

But there was a time, not too long after WWII, and before Dwight Eisenhower took his part-time golf gig on Pennsylvania Avenue to a fulltime one in Gettysburg, that the U.S. intelligence community was all over it. Not one foreign government conducted business without the aid of the United States, surreptitiously or otherwise. Regimes crumbled and people got hurt, and the business of freedom thrived.

And none of it was accomplished overnight.

As early as 1944, months before the effects of D-Day had taken shape in Europe, American bankers were loading up imposter real estate firms and forging military documents at the Kremlin. Men in tailored gray flannel business attire were planting deadly bacteria into Tokyo’s water supply. And French tourists, armed with hypodermic needles and a Swiss Bank account, were settling into condos on the coasts of South Vietnam.

The Mafia, using untraceable Native Americans, Cubans and displaced teamsters to export countless crimes on every continent, funded them. They were random and reprehensible, but they were our boys, and without them there would have been no A-bomb or Elvis or Cadillac.

And the sudden nostalgia for these feats of heroism was running strong in the State Department before the sun went down on 9/11/01. It became more and more obvious with each passing day when those paid to speak for all of it were silly with glee over the unfolding developments.

They were using phrases like “undesirable agents returning to the fold” and “removing the kid gloves in this operation.” And they meant it.

And they are getting things done.

There are solid odds, dropping by the hour, that Osama bin Laden is already dead. They get smaller with every conflicting report of his whereabouts. Tank, our friend at State, sent an E-mail to The Desk last week explaining the heavy betting on his demise.

“Makes no sense why these people keep telling us he’s there, then he’s not; unless they have no fucking idea where he is,” he wrote. “They keep saying they have him safely sequestered because they know we don’t want to make him a martyr, and would rather see him get an eye-opening trial, so we won’t bomb the shit out of them while he’s there. But the word is that he’s camel chum.”

The White House confirmed last week that Special Forces had been in country for a few weeks, proving that operatives preceded them by at least a week. No way the military is risking an undermanned Special Forces unit unless ways were paved and locations were confirmed. Those were mistakes made in South East Asia a long time ago.

And the Attorney General knows all too well that key terrorist rings are already being gutted. This is why John Ashcroft goes on national television and warns about chemical warfare and hits on the Sears Tower and Disneyland.

What the attacks on 9/11/01 have done is unlock the morality box. All the sins of the CIA fathers have been forgiven. Even now they are erecting a bronze statue of Allen Welch Dulles and kissing its base in reverence.

America is back in the nasty business, and the result will be cultural and financial ruin for nations all over the place. It will be a lucky day if there is anything resembling a solvent economy in the Philippines by Christmas, and long before the Saudis can defect from the proceedings, members of OPEC will be armed with Sicarri swords and stun guns.

And by the Fourth of July, what was once something of sovereignty in Iraq will be landfill for the brand spanking new U.S. military base, crawling with strippers and stocked with finally aged scotch.

Nothing says victory quite like a drunken Marine with a hard-on puking all over a holy relic.


Part I – 9/11/01 Part II – Enemies of Reason or The God Bullshit Must Cease

Part III – The Folly of Negotiating with Maniacs

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

The Roots of Terrorism ‘s special report.

Aquarian Weekly 10/3/01 REALITY CHECK

9/11/01 PART III THE FOLLY OF NEGOTIATING WITH MANIACSA Qualified Study of Middle Eastern Traditions

“What troubles me the most about the United States current standing in the Middle East in regards to Arab countries is the delicate balance between our alliance with Israel set against the tenuous financial dealings with OPEC. And right now no one knows how the fallout of the Gulf War will effect those invisible, radical factions who fall through the cracks of that balance.” – Henry Kissenger May, 1997

The above quote is merely a paraphrase, scribbled hurriedly on complimentary Best Western paper sometime in the early hours of a rainy morning in downtown Boston.

I had taken the trip up to Beantown with the band, DogVoices to promote my first book and drink for free. I didn’t expect to find anything worth watching at near dawn, sipping tepid beer and chomping soggy French fries, unable to sleep.

Henry Kissenger was suddenly flickering on the television, blathering on about fractured foreign relations with what was left of Russia and the “Chinese problem” when he turned to the Middle East.

Kissenger knew a thing or two about the Middle East, after years of a failed “shuttle diplomacy” between Arab leaders and the Israeli government as Secretary of State for the Nixon Administration.

The region was of special interest to me, for I’d visited Israel the previous year, spending several hours in the company of the Israeli Defense Force.

By the mid-90s’ the IDF was the finest fighting machine on the planet, and extremely sensitive to terrorist attacks on a daily basis. I’d encountered teams of two deployed at every buss stop, train station, supermarket and museum. I found their stories intriguing, sad and inspiring.

The U.S. government, the CIA, the FBI, even an aging diplomat croaking out top secret info on CSPAN at four in the morning, knew about these people, but even now we don’t hear anyone in the mainstream media utter their names or their obvious connections to these attacks.

Their faces were fresh in my mind as Kissenger continued with a hint of concern in his voice rarely heard by anyone in the media. It was well known among the reporting set that Kissenger normally horded his true feelings for dignitaries, diplomats or presidents, but now here he was almost whimpering like a school boy on CSPAN to some wetback college students about the flippant way in which the United States juggled the Arab states after the Gulf War.

By 1997, Kissenger was still “connected”. Outside of South East Asia, where he is still considered Genghis Kahn with a perm, Kissenger was often called to advise many smaller nations in the pursuit of some kind of government.

I wrote down many of his key thoughts that night regarding Israel, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iran, Iraq and, most notably, Afghanistan, including alarming buzz terms that he never used in public like “fear” and “trepidation.”

Kissenger was sure that the U.S.’s failure to secure Syrian, Israeli and Lebananese relations, hanging by the thread of ignored treaties, and a slowly crumbling coalition of Arab states, promised protection by the Bush administration against Iraqi retaliation, spelled rancor and doom in the coming years.

Kissenger also blurted out several names of which he cited as “dissidents” roaming around Saudi Arabia, funded with oil and drug money, with a “severe disdain for all things American or European due to the colonization of Arab states following the fall of the Ottoman Empire after WWI.”

That was the first time I’d heard the name, Osama bin Laden, which rang a bell less than two years later when the first of two U.S. embassies located in Africa went up in flames.

Bin Laden had just taken control of a terrorist network called Al-Qaeda, which was a rogue fighting force mutated from the Mujahedeen, a defense militia ironically bankrolled by the Reagan Administration during the Afghani war with the Soviets in the 1980s’.

The former Saudi native later became infamous in varied FBI reports for opium trafficking and weapons’ theft in Lebanon during the dark mess known as “Desert Storm”.

Kissenger mentioned two other names that came to my attention last week when a source recently e-mailed me an article from the radically popular, Jane’s Intelligence Digest, which fingers both men as “leading suspects in the attack on New York and Washington with strong ties to Iraq.”

The first is Ayman Al Zawahiri, a Lebanese freedom fighter and current senior member of the Al-Queda. The other is Egyptian born, Imad Mughniyeh, considered, according to Jane’s, “the world’s foremost terrorist masterminds.”

Things became ever clearer this week, when a close acquaintance of the Reality Check News & Information Desk in Jerusalem hinted that Mughniyeh’s connection to the Iraqi government is “paramount to the origin of any attack on your mainland.”

Twice during our exchange, he went to great lengths to express that while bin Laden has the money and the influence to enact the level of attack perpetrated on 9/11/01, “he neither has the fear of his enemies nor the faith of his allies to mastermind something as complex and devastating.”

Columnist Jamie Dettmer, writing in Business A.M. on 9/24 quoted his own Israeli source’s portrait of bin Laden as “overrated” and “a school boy next to those maniacs.”

Further intelligence reports indicate that Al Zawahiri’s campaign for the Lebanonese liberation of land on the West Bank, originally seized by the IDF backed by U.S weaponry, and Mughniyeh’s revenge for family members allegedly murdered by U.S. soldiers during America’s occupation of Kuwait following the Gulf War, has motivated thousands of radical Muslim factions to action, including the infamous Taliban.

Prior to Mughniyeh machinations, the Taliban had been nothing more than a drug cartel running heroin to Russia through Asian organized crime syndicates. According to our Israeli source, “The idea that the Taliban is harboring bin Laden is missing a key point; it is bin Laden who owns the Taliban, and they have little choice but to back him or face annihilation.”

Both Al Zawahiri and Mughniyeh have had multi-million dollar marks on their heads from several governments, including the U.S., for some time, and were fingered by the Israeli government four weeks before the disastrous events at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as “possible partners in a massive attack on U.S. soil.”

But what does Kissenger’s dawn revelations and the outing of these militant mutants reveal?

For all intents and purposes, the reasons for the events of 9/11/01 are simple: The continued failure of the U.S. government to allow Israel to defend itself against Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon with sanctimonious pleas for restraint and pompous political photo-op peace treaties that amount to nothing but buying time for terrorist havens like the PLO to stockpile weapons and take the lives of innocents, and, sadly, the two prior administration’s glaring inability to root Saddam Hussein out of Iraq.

The president’s denouncing of the IDF actions last month against a Palestinian federal building, after the latest of now 80 gutless attacks by Hammas this year alone, is an example of this.

Yasser Arafat’s secret army is run in conjunction with Mughniyeh’s notorious Hizbullah, a significant Arab threat to Israel, and a far more likely source for the attacks on the U.S. Their beef with the U.S. resides in nearly four billion dollars of military aid sent to Israel annually.

But America’s alliance with Israel is only a small part of the puzzle.

In the end, it was George Bush Sr’s “oil police action” ten years ago that failed to eradicate Hussein by acquiescing to an “Arab Coalition” that today harbors and sponsors scores of terrorist organizations worldwide.

“Do not think for one minute that Bush Jr. being the president is a coincidence when it comes to these crimes,” my Jerusalem source concluded.

Meanwhile, dozens of nations, and their ever-changing governments, have been doing business with the U.S., feeding off American financial and military aid, bloated on crude oil money and American business concerns to ostensibly destroy its citizens.

All the while we send in UN special consultants to Iraq to check on weapons pile up and occasionally bomb military instillations, followed by patriotic rhetoric and flag-waving propaganda.

The U.S. government, the CIA, the FBI, even an aging diplomat croaking out top secret info on CSPAN at four in the morning, knew about these people, but even now we don’t hear anyone in the mainstream media utter their names or their obvious connections to these attacks.

After years of trading secrets, weapons and laundered cash, “we the people” were sitting ducks, and the events of 9/11/01, symptoms of a much greater disease.

I remember one more thing about that rainy morning in Boston.

I folded up that paper, put it into my duffel bag, and fell asleep to Kissenger’s monotone ramblings, and hadn’t fully awakened until now.

Next Week: Part IV – Kasbah Rocking or Cooking The Great American Ass Whup

Part I – 9/11/01 Part II – Enemies of Reason or The God Bullshit Must Cease

Part III – The Folly of Negotiating with Maniacs

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

God and Terrorism ‘s essay on the enemies of reason.

Aquarian Weekly 9/26/01 REALITY CHECK

9/11/01 Part II ENEMIES OF REASON Or The God Bullshit Must Cease

We are the evil Western Satan, America, target of the Holy War. Allah wants us destroyed. Murderers strike for the cause of God.

They are the evil rogue terrorist states, purveyors of hate. God blesses America. We shall strike vengeance in his holy name.

This latest, and most devastating, hit on our soil is no more political, ideological or societal than the Crusades.

Killing for Jesus.

Killing for Muhammad.

Same difference.

Whether we would like to admit it or not, the United States of America can now join the rest of the planet, and it’s twisted history, in an all-out religious war.

Five thousand, six thousand, ten thousand dead may be a shocker to us, but in the scrolling number of those murdered in the name of God, it is a drop of water in an angry ocean.

We’ve been standing aloof on this God thing for too long. Time to take him out of our Grammy speeches, Saturday Yoga classes, Columbia University’s Advanced Philosophy courses, off the money and away from crazed hate-mongers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

We like God to hang in the cushy closets called churches and slipped in before a polite “bless you” after sneezes.

It is time we get reacquainted with THE God.

This whole damned mess is about God now. Well, not God, or anything approaching even a spiritually soothing center of being or any of that shit. We’re talking about the Big Dick patriarchal, warped War God, the God of man’s darkest imagination.

This is a God not worthy of fucking with, a God capable of infant genocide, rivers of blood and mortal plagues. The one that saw fit to flood the world and start anew.

This is the God that is depicted in the Koran and the Torah as a vengeful monolith of spiteful fury. The God that waged terror for thousands of years of bloody conquest and torture in the name of Abraham, Moses, Christ and Muhammad.

It is the God praised today in propagandized Islamic extremist boot camps that train bleary-eyed Arab teenagers to choose fiery death and destruction over getting laid.

This is the same God that stood as a beacon over the systematic massacre of Native Americans and the subjugation of cultures everywhere.

You know the God that supposedly blesses both America and billionaire Saudi momma’s boys with their turbans chock full of automatic weapons.

It’s time we ALL understand that this “new war” is about God. Money and power are fine pursuits for the relatively sane, but loons waving their murderous spirit in fists of rage dwarf their insidious accomplishments.

People tend to choose life over death, so they can enjoy their money and power. Service of God means plenty of fun and frolic in an after life, so the suicidal slamming of commercial airlines into icons of mortar and steel in God’s name qualifies for a first class ticket to glorious heaven.

And it’s about time for atheists to get on board. This God exists, and he is deadly. His people have been killing each other in painfully strong numbers since they decided he mattered.

And make no mistake, this God is a man, and why not? What other creature besides man could coldly eliminate one another, so adroitly, so completely with precise calculation.

After all, man was made in his image.

Those who’ve tried to change this image were sent packing; tortured and beaten, nailed to crosses, hung by trees, and gunned down on Memphis balconies. It’s not good business trying to soften the blow of this God.

By the way, God has holy land all over the globe. And these places are soaked with human blood, blessed by graves and tombs to celebrate the great martyrs of the cause.

And God is very particular about his land; holy this, and holy that; raising anger and fueling mayhem. His people love to set boundaries and crease borders, so they can have a reason to cripple anyone in his name. They’ve built statues and churches and mosques and temples in honor of this lunacy.

But apparently these silly Middle Eastern God-hogs don’t realize that God is actually on our side, and the true holy land is not on Mount Zion or Mecca, but south of Canal Street in lower Manhattan.

Our leaders, begging Saudi Arabia or Israel to practice restraint for eons, will not smooth over this latest atrocity with poignant speeches about peace.

Nope. Restraint is the other guy’s problem. Time to show the rest of the world how things go when our holy relics are torn to pieces, when the bodies are not Israeli grocers or Iranian peasant women, but have American addresses.

Meanwhile the keepers of God’s nightmare stand in their pulpits and hover above the dead to ask God to lead the march of vengeful carnage. Some even use the media to claim that the abandonment of God’s wants and needs actually caused these horrific, hateful, deadly actions.

God’s will, perhaps?

Actually, the will is man’s.

And the reign of his terror has just begun, because the mouthpieces for God’s wrath are already calling this an Islamic defense, a holy order, and America, the New Jerusalem. The great Western Paper Tiger is weak and afraid, and will perish, praise be to Allah.

Five thousand, six thousand, ten thousand dead may be a shocker to us, but in the scrolling number of those murdered in the name of God, it is a drop of water in an angry ocean.

You see, when it comes to God, the more things change, the more they’re just the same. Swords become guns, and adobe huts become skyscrapers, but there is still killing in the guise of faith. There is still the cry for justice from the same God that lays waste to our home.

Yes, we can play politics, negotiate and conclave, have foreign relations, and even swing our own Big Dick guns around in place of this God, but it’s all a playful farce.

This is the Holy War, and welcome to it.

God damn it, indeed.

Next Week Part III – A Qualified Study of Middle Eastern Traditions or The Folly of Negotiating with Maniacs

Part I – 9/11/01


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More


Aquarian Weekly 9/19/01 REALITY CHECK


The gaping wound smoldering from the southern tip of Manhattan, that was once the center of international commerce, a symbol for the influence of free market capitalism and the global power of democracy, is a testament to the transparent safety of this nation. America, as a verbal and metaphoric target of Arab nations and rogue Islamic factions, has now truly become a bloody reality amid the carnage and death, where once stood two of the word’s largest edifices in its greatest city.

Pearl Harbor?

Far worse. For the first time since 1812, there was a foreign attack on the mainland of the United States. This time it was an invisible enemy infiltrating airports, federal institutions, hijacking airplanes and confusing covert intelligence, air traffic control, law enforcement and the entirety of the US government.

In its wake is the fear of vulnerability. Something we have always believed was the worry of those poor people “over there”; Russia, China, Korea, Israel, Kuwait, Serbia, et al.

It was a fear I experienced minutes after both towers of the World Trade Center toppled into the streets of lower New York, while tooling up Route 17 to the apex of a hill in Ramsey, NJ; the skyline of Manhattan covered in an ominous billow of creeping soot. Right across the river, in the city I grew up in, mere blocks from where I was born. Not across the globe, but across the street. Friends, acquaintances and family in ground zero of a war zone.

Pearl Harbor was a military installation in the Far East, breathing down the neck of an Axis Power. The World Trade Center is downtown, where I was a few days before, having a drink on McDougal Street, as I’d done hundreds of times; taking in the hypnotizing lights of the mighty buildings.

They are now gone, and with them, thousands of innocent lives. American lives. New Yorkers. Not Libyans, Palestinians, Serbians or Vietnamese, but people very much like myself, saying good-bye to their spouses and children that fateful morning. Before long they were reduced to suicidal jumpers or a gruesome part of the charred ruin.

Before the counting is done, the horrific numbers will dwarf Pearl Harbor, the Titanic, and even the most soldiers lost in the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

Two hundred and twenty-five years of this republic cannot offer a tragedy to equal one of this magnitude.

It is abundantly clear the United States was not prepared for it. Despite video threats and Internet notes from the underground al-Jihad, Hizballah, Abu Sayyaf etc., and a decade of attacks on embassies, battle ships and spy planes bankrolled by billionaire terrorist point-man, Usama Bin Laden to the contrary.

Two hundred and twenty-five years of this republic cannot offer a tragedy to equal one of this magnitude.

Car bombs, loons with submachine guns, maybe. But a highly strategic, sophisticated attack on the nation’s largest city and its military epicenter on domestic, commercial airlines with plastic box-cutters and US pilot licenses?

How could this happen here?

The Central Intelligence Agency has not been the same for the past thirty years plus. For whatever economic, political or legal reasons you subscribe, the manpower has been woefully low and the tools, although modern and state-of-the-art, has failed time and again to avoid dangers previously thwarted. Certainly the continued presence of a Saddam Hussien in the Middle East speaks volumes on this sad fact.

Airport security, despite being annoying to many travelers, has been deemed lax by recent media investigations and FBI reports over the past few years. Understaffed? Pressured to cutback to keep prices competitive? Either way, they remain a gateway to danger and a key suspect in this momentous war crime.

A myriad of reasons from police presence to security surveillance to military awareness have been and will be dissected for hours, days and years. But the main reason our lives have been thrown in sunder and threatened within our borders may well be simple apathy.

The signs have been there. The hatred of America abroad is palpable, especially in the Middle East, where the fanatical religious fervor is off the charts. Perhaps the fat and happy among us chose to think this country too big and bold, untouchable in every sense of the word.

There is plenty of blame, but it doesn’t tell the full story.

When the bodies have been counted, the rubble swept away, and the memorials echo into history, much of the backbone of this penultimate terrorist attack will bare out.

We will shudder when we find out that many American insiders and Fundamentalist Muslim sympathizers were on Bin Laden’s payroll; trained pilots, crew members, employees, even citizens boarding those planes. We will marvel at the planning, money, government spies and US intelligence leaks over years of compilation that lent itself to this atrocity on our land.

And we will see hour after hour of footage of those airplanes crashing through those buildings. We will see and hear more terrifying stories of an American city turned into the set of some outlandish Godzilla movie. Beirut in the summertime, Judgment Day ten times over. Chelsea Piers turned into a morgue, St. Vincent’s hospital a veritable triage.

Throughout this difficult time there will be a great deal of macho loon-speak about bombing innocents on every continent available, nuclear holocaust and wiping out the towel-heads. Thankfully, they have nothing to do with whispering to the president, who as of this writing has come off as a man doing a great deal of listening.

George W. Bush’s robotic speech to a nation, wondering where the hell he’d been for nearly ten hours of the crisis, is a strong clue that many educated, level-headed types know exactly what balls have been dropped in these months of national slumber.

The right people know where and who and why and how. And now perhaps in the shadow of this incredulous doom they will be allowed to go where they need to go and pay whom they have to pay and grease all the right dupes who need to be protected from the anger of this nation. And you can bet they will sing like the proverbial canary, and the number of names and their affiliating states will be stupefying.

Already we hear from them, condemning these acts, giving blood, sending resources, and begging to be on board against the evil menace called terrorism. Their protests are just a little too loud. Their press conferences a tad too staged. And it will be all in the name of self-preservation, because they will all be guilty and they certainly will all pay in one way or the other.

If this country wants its people to continue to give billions of its earnings to rebuilding and aiding and protecting everyone everywhere, we must demand restitution now. Everything on this globe worth a shit outside of Russia and China has the smell of American money, technology, science and know-how on it.

It is time we get some interest back and get these countries, all of these countries, to start handing over every known terrorist suspect for the past thirty years, their affiliates and their money sources.

Bombing cities and showing off military power might be comforting to angry emotions, but pales in the face of true, methodical eradication of the disease that threatens the free world. But, alas, the greatest threat is hatred. And hatred will never cease.

But freedom must not be curtailed as a result. So we will all be a potential victim, because freedom is worth it.

There is, and never will be, a completely safe haven from hatred when you stroll the streets of gold in the best example of collective humanity any nation or philosophy has imagined.

At nearly 9 am on a sunny Tuesday morning we were finally awakened to that fact.

Now, what do we do about it?

Next Week Part II – Enemies of Reason or The God Bullshit Must Cease

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More