Fidel Castro’s baseball career – Political satirist and author, James Campion puts Cuba into perspective.

Aquarian Weekly 4/26/00 REALITY CHECK


Opening day at Yankee Stadium and the press room is jammed with the ego elite and media geeks grubbing buttered rolls because they’re too cheap to afford George Steinbrenner’s seven-dollar buffet. The deadline monsters are breathing hard on the swinging doors and the smell of stale wool jackets is already prevalent.

Pushing my way into a table while smiling at my friend, Brain Cashman who happens to be the general manager of the team of the century and four years younger than me. I fail to call him “bastard” on this visit, which he agrees is my right since no one younger than me can be allowed to do anything considered important.

There’s an air of good feeling, for the ides of March has given way to breezy April afternoons in the shadow of this shrine. I promised a broadcasting friend earlier this year that since I sauntered out of the old girl last October, with the Yankees sipping nonalcoholic champagne and Roger Clemens high-fiving truck drivers and construction workers on the roof of the Yankee dugout, that since I saw the last game played in the 20th century here, why not hit the field for the first one of the 21st.

The Pirates never did have the patience to develop short Cuban kids with little pop on the cheese, so a dejected Fidel attended law school, went to prison, and disappeared into the Cuban socialist underground.

Something about new beginnings that bring the leeches from the dusty corners and send the rabid fungus of the sports world clamoring. The Yankees are a hot ticket. They win. Americans–New Yorkers first and foremost–love winners. Losers draw flies and boos and calls for painful death. One minute on the pro sport circuit and a concept like politics becomes child’s play.

Inevitably that kind of talk around those who moonlight at the Stadium want to know what the hell is going on with the Cuban kid. A few tables over Elian Gonzalez comes up in light conversation, along with how horrible it was that the world champs wasted their celebration with nonalcoholic champagne when AA veteran Darryl Strawberry was weeks away from getting back on the crank.

But it was the boxing curmudgeon known as Bert Sugar who started a near melee after a rant on his new magazine and the future of Cuban middleweights when things became heated. “I just wanted to double the average age of the press corps,” he laughed and exited stage left, leaving a hardy debate on all things Elian Gonzalez.

Right down the middle among the sporting press: Elian stays, or hops the first freight with his father back to the land of cigars and sugar cane. “What do you think would be the furor if the Gonzalez kid were a fat, greasy Cuban with a gruff beard and a stogie hanging from his face?” someone asked. “Probably would have pushed him back on that raft with his mother’s corpse,” I answered causing an aggravated woman to ask for another show of hands.

There is a well-known baseball trivia question that makes its way around most press boxes involving Fidel Castro as a 21 year-old pitching prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Seems two corpulent scouts, hired by the parent club, went to Havana to watch the diminutive lefty break nasty curves and dip sinkers in and around the aggressive Latin competition, but were somewhat lukewarm about his speed. “The kid Castro has some command of breaking pitches (stop),” the report told the front office the next morning via Western Union. “Has nothing on the fast ball (stop) Double AA talent at best (stop).”

The Pirates never did have the patience to develop short Cuban kids with little pop on the cheese, so a dejected Fidel attended law school, went to prison, and disappeared into the Cuban socialist underground. Those were the days when his family and friends were subsisting on a steady diet of dung beetles and palm leaves chased by rotten disease-ridden water, while the mob ran numbers for a dictatorship backed by the muscle of Harry Truman’s United States.

It was a short walk from the entrance of Forbes Field to the den of hate. And hate turned into revolution on New Year’s Eve 1959, when the failed pitcher became champion of the weak and an American thorn; followed closely by the CIA’s spring invasion gone terribly wrong two years later. And when the Bay of Pigs sent the slugs from Florida’s underbelly to the right people, Jack Kennedy paid with his life in Dallas two years after that.

Books by James Campion are available on this web site or at Amazon & Barnes & Nobleclick to order

Thirty-three years later Elian Gonzalez was born to Cuban natives, Juan Miguel and his wife Elisabeth. The couple divorced and the mother fled the country with Elian in toe. When fishermen rescued the boy in an inner tube on Thanksgiving Day he could only mention his father’s name. His father wants to take him back to a country where Elian has less than eight months to drink milk without serious rations and is merely a public relations faux paus from prison. Floridian Cuban refugees from the gun runners and coke fiends to the hardworking parents and relatives of those suffering tyrannical madness mere miles of water south want the boy to stay. Sticking it to the failed pitcher has a purpose.

But the boy is a political football, and that is a sport rarely discussed in the cathedral of baseball. And politics takes a back seat to a child and his parent taking in the sunshine of spring. It is the third change of season that finds Elian Gonzalez without his father. Human chains keeping blood and communism away from the great bellow of freedom.

Governments raising children.

Courts playing mommy.

Play ball!

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Wall Street Jovial Interview – Pop curture columnist, James Campion investigates the Stock Market min-crash 2000.

Aquarian Weekly 4/19/00 REALITY CHECK


The twisted, the frightened, and the troglodytes may not come together in many circles, but they are all in agreement about one element of society not abandoned by political rhetoric and fancy titles: money. The almighty has legs. It turns the wheels and greases the irons; and when it runs and hides there is reason to gulp and jump and find the right number that will put you touch with those who might harbor the odd sober answer.

But the voice on the other end cannot bear the grudge of the suddenly poor; once riding the wave of wondrous capitalism, only to be yesterday’s funk begging for coins with a stained cup and a ragged coat. It’s only the bulldogs with true grit who can unleash the nitty when it counts. And it counted for two days in early April when the stock market jerked and bucked like a cheap ride at Coney Island. Only those with their mitts on the controls aren’t the toothless, drunken carnies, but the wide boys with power ties and two martini lunches.

I rode those goddamn hours with the stammering remnants of the once great Chief Wonka and his 500 shares of tumbling Allaire stock. By 1:15 PM, when the Nasdaq numbers reached record lows–down 574 points, a 13.5 percent plunge that would’ve been the index’s biggest percentage drop in history–and horrid memories of Black Monday of ‘87 tickled the careening fancy of the walking dead on Wall Street, there was little else for the old boy to utter but “Oh my God this is bad” or “The market is crashing.”

“You see, the Wall Street Establishment will use the news when appropriate to their inventory concerns. Believe me, there was no panic on the inside.”

For three ugly hours on a breezy Tuesday afternoon, the high rollers caught a glimpse of Steven Hawking’s black hole, while nearly 50 percent of tech stock disappeared inside it. But by day’s end hunky met dory and “disaster” was reduced to “minor hit.” But what happened for those few terrifying hours?

When the smoke cleared early on Wednesday, 4/5 a correspondence from the wounded Reality Check New & Information Desk went out to the hub of the Wall Street Jovial. Founded by David R. Gahary, a warped insider with a grudge and a web site ( aimed at poking holes in theories all-too willing to be swallowed, it is just the sort of flashlight needed to flesh out the stock market’s scurrying roaches.

jc: Is two hours of panic considered a legitimate crash, even though it recovered by closing?

DG: Very little about the structure of the stock market could be considered legitimate. These violent swings are precipitated by big hedge funds. Those are private investment funds only open to the ultra-rich. Hedge funds are a favored tool of the filthy-rich, as it is an unregulated investment vehicle with the latitude to utilize so-called exotic trading strategies, such as short-selling and leveraged directionalism. Manipulating the market equals more profits for a few.

jc: The ABC Nightly News reported last night that because the quarter was ending many brokers called in their credit markers. Coupled with the Microsoft monopoly ruling, and the big hit the market took Monday, there was a panic.

DG: The end of a quarter usually consists of “window dressing.” Microsoft had nothing to do with the sell-off, as it has been proven time and time again. In fact, the news has very little impact on the direction of stocks. The closest the collectively captured media has come to admitting this, currently, is by calling it a “managed” market. It’s fixed due to its structure. It’s a specialist monopoly, the market-maker oligopoly. The fact these entities are not regulated, but regulate themselves, have had enforcement actions brought against them by various bodies. And that’s gone a long way to shed light on how fixed it all is. You see, the Wall Street Establishment will use the news when appropriate to their inventory concerns. Believe me, there was no panic on the inside.

jc: Are these day-traders skewing the bell curve? Simply because what is considered normal swings in the numbers by pros, and these crazed fuckers are sitting online and watching it as if it was the end of the planet, without giving it a chance to fluctuate.

DG: Absolutely not. The addition of the day-traders & the online investing community in general, have dramatically enhanced the profits of the organized crime ring that is today’s stock market. I know hundreds of these hedge fund managers who have seen their take rise 5-fold over last year, with no change in strategy or tactics. This is due to the addition of unsuspecting, innocent individual investors, affectionately known as “dumb money,” by these crooks.

jc: Dumb money?

DG: “Dumb money” is a pejorative term used to describe the individual investor. If you’re not inside, you’re outside. “Dumb” is not aware; not privy to important info. Unequal dissemination of market news creates “dumb money.”

jc: This is tantamount to a fixed poker game with the drunken suckers loaded with fresh bills and playing the willing possum?

DG: Willing possum?

jc: Someone who jumps into a poker game with a lot of cash, not particularly knowing anything about how to win money. They’re just in for the thrill. Maybe they don’t know they’re going to get fleeced, but, hey, what the fuck?

DG: Exactly! But technology has already revealed many of the inequities in the stock market, and it will eventually lay waste to these criminals.

jc: And who exactly are the criminals?

DG: The entire structure. Anyone involved with Wall Street is a criminal because they are playing in a system designed to take advantage of the individual investor.

jc: Is the .com stock, predominant in Nasdaq, fool’s gold, or will it keep sailing?

DG: The Federal Reserve’s loose money policy, buoyed with economic expansion, should continue to run the markets with Nasdaq moving higher. Remember, this index is a market-capitilization index, which means that the larger stocks have more of an impact on its movement. For example, several hundred smaller Nasdaq stocks would have to move in order to equal only the move of a Microsoft or Cisco. Basically, it’s a rigged barometer. The Dow, on the other hand, is a price-weighted index, which means the higher priced stocks have a greater affect on the index. That’s another scam, but The Dow contains only 30 issues. Whereas the Nasdaq holds 5,100 stocks.

jc: Are the drastic shifts of Tuesday, 4/3 a frightening harbinger for the market boom?

DG: The past two days will have zero effect. This movement occurred now because it’s the beginning of the second quarter, and the positions of the big boys have not been fortified yet. This allows them much leeway to whipsaw prices around.

jc: So, is playing the market today any more of a risk than it was ten years ago, or even a few years ago when the Internet did not have such a monumental effect? Unless, of course, you don’t think it has had the effect we’re told it has.

DG: Absolutely it is more dangerous, for the reasons I’ve mentioned. Now that individual investors have more access, the game is made much harder, by making it much less predictable. This is why several hedge funds have gone tits up.

jc: Why would anyone consider putting hard-earned cash into this grinder?

DG: Greed & fear.

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Guns In America – Political satirist, James Campion dissects gun control.

Aquarian Weekly 4/5/00 REALITY CHECK


“And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand.” – Genesis 4:11

Western civilization uses a tome known as the Holy Bible to define its structure. This collection of tales, truths, and mayhem is well known for a great deal of events, not the least of which is murder. The first one takes place in the pages of Genesis where a man by the name of Cain rubs out his brother Abel. Nowhere in the telling does a gun come into play.

However, some 4,000 or so years later the job can be done much quicker with the use of one. And now that humans of all ages have taken to party with such tools of death in the land of the free and home of the brave, it has come to the attention of the courts and one prominent gun manufacturer that something radical must be done.

Jefferson was afraid of the people he governed. Why wouldn’t he be? He handed them a document of wild freedom built on the backs of loonies and drunks who ran ragged from the tightly wound culture of England to a whooping barn-dance of ambiguous laws.

Chagrin of the National Rifle Association and its intellectually stunted mouth pieces aside, a hellfire of backlash led to Smith & Wesson being the first manufacturer of firearms to agree to child safety locks. This is considered a controversial act of insurrection and surrender, and the kind of shock and debate resulting from it, speaks to humanity’s inability to admit that it is the only species on earth that massacres its own at the drop of a hat.

This is, after all, a country built on two key elements; anger and violence. In fairness to the birth of the United States of America, most republics are born this way. Citizens of Europe migrated here to escape law, taxes, and the status quo. When the status quo leaned hard, the vagabond infantry beat them back with the time honored tradition of savage warfare. When the King’s Army was defeated, a new element crept in: fear.

Thus explaining why the same guns that produced freedom became an integral part of holding on to it.

So in 1787, four years after the last British soldier staggered back to the mother country, the sweaty few intellectual land barons and statesmen crowded into a room in Philadelphia and made damn sure no one would take those precious freedom tools away. Three years later the Constitution of the United States included a 2nd amendment to Thomas Jefferson’s document: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

It stated loud, but not so clear. For 15 years later in his sixth annual presidential message, its author issued another rather cryptic statement: “The criminal attempts of private individuals to decide for their country the question of peace or war, by commencing active and unauthorized hostilities, should be promptly and efficaciously suppressed.”

You see, from a place of authority the hunter becomes the hunted, and sparing no pun, this is where the tale gets sticky.

Jefferson was afraid of the people he governed. Why wouldn’t he be? He handed them a document of wild freedom built on the backs of loonies and drunks who ran ragged from the tightly wound culture of England to a whooping barn-dance of ambiguous laws. Then he turned around and bought a huge chunk of land from the French at dirt cheap, where this crazed musket-toting gaggle set up shop and began murdering one another for as little as ten feet of land.

There was a manic migration due west, replete with the slaughtering of anyone sporting darker skin, a bloody Civil War over the enslaved imports with even darker skin, assassinations, coups, riots, demented children picking off tourists from clock towers, the Black Panthers, the Hell’s Angels, Bernard Goetz, Mark David Chapman, Waco dissidents, and exploding federal buildings. Then, at the end of what was deemed the American century, two lost mutants with daddy’s uzi’s and an Internet arsenal walked into school and laid down some misery.

Throughout the madness the federal government has added over 20,000 gun laws to its books. In most cases they were innocuous, based solely on the fact that individual states are responsible for enacting them, even in the most dire situations. This has made those in charge a mite worried. Jefferson’s reticence not withstanding, the amount of violence in the American heart has increased with nauseating speed.

Somewhere in the midst of this sordid history arose the NRA, formed ostensibly to “provide firearms training and encourage interest in the shooting sports.” Incorporated in 1871, and now grown to over three million, it is the haven for those clinging to the notion that as long as people have a blood lust and an ounce of that ol’ “fear and anger” there will be a buck to be made on its most effective tool. And as long as those bucks stay more than solvent, there will be political agenda to formulate.

Like most organizations, the NRA is a joke. The government has enough trouble delivering the mail. Neither has what it takes to exorcise Cain’s demon. That would be our job.

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Super Tuesday Mayhem – Political satirist, James Campion comes clean on a fixed political system.

Aquarian Weekly 3/22/00 REALITY CHECK


“Nobody really wants to vote for these guys.” – Chief Wonka

So said the Poobah of a revolutionary underground information network called BLAZO!!, after a long day of deliberating on whether the black hole that has become the American political landscape drew deeper parallels to the misty days of 1960. That was the year the Kennedy brothers handed the vice presidency over to a man they despised and who moments earlier painted a picture of Jack Kennedy that would’ve trounced him in a race against Caligula, much less Dick Nixon. Yet, Lyndon Johnson stood by the side of JFK as he ran the mother of all kick-ass campaigns against a political mutant that might not have survived for six minutes in Roman elections.

Chief Wonka knows a thing or two about the climate of big time politics, tapping his left leg like a fiend on crank while assaulting the Grand China Buffet with a passion rarely found in mortals. The Chief loves his politics, but his fried cream cheese even more; and when it came time to handicap the Super Tuesday ballots he leaned back in that funny way he does while peeling off a medieval grin that told me all I needed to know about the rising smog.

John McCain had a chance, I foolishly told myself. But by 10:24 PM the final curtain had come down on the Arizona Senator. “Effectively, he flat lined in New York,” they’ll write. “And California will put the dirt on him.”

Writing this gibberish is the easy part. I have spent the last four hours at a voting outlet in the sleepy nook of Putnam Valley, where less people know about me than those forced to edit this rant. Most of it with a bull horn gripped firmly in my right hand belting out the kind of propaganda needed for desperate March evenings when Fat Tuesday becomes a super bummer and the only men left with a puncher’s chance at finally putting Bill Clinton out of a job are pathetic facsimiles.


“The final blow?” a hardy pedestrian asked. “What are you talking about?”

It was a fair question. How would Chief Wonka decipher the crux of such a cryptic statement born of frustration and defeat? He was so sure that things would right itself that afternoon at the Grand Buffet that I nearly ate the multicolored death mints on the way out. But something beyond the lobster roll gnawed at my stomach. Four men remained before Super Tuesday—when more than half the delegates it takes to become president would be up for grabs—but only two would stand.

“No one really wants to vote for these guys,” the mighty Chief said twice more before we departed. “We’re supposed to choose a royal meal from rotten dog meat?” It rang true, then hollow. Bill Bradley was a dead man hours after he left New Hampshire, but the the glassy-eyed zombies up at headquarters still kept e-mailing me his itinerary: Mr. Bradley goes here. Mr. Bradley goes there. Didn’t have much of a point after too long. So much so I turned down two personal invitations to his consession speech just to avoid gazing upon the carcass.

The Republicans would set things right, I thought. Every bubble-headed paranoid dipshit screaming about a phantom hijacking of the party and ignoring millions of independent votes would suddenly come to their senses and put the scare into the vice president. John McCain had a chance, I foolishly told myself. But by 10:24 PM the final curtain had come down on the Arizona Senator. “Effectively, he flat lined in New York,” they’ll write. “And California will put the dirt on him.” As my grandmother, Carmella Martignetti, once said so eloquently. “That man is dead, he just doesn’t know enough to lie down.”

So the hardy man at the poll asked, “What are you talking about?” And in the tradition of Chief Wonka, and all the proud warriors of dark battles, it is important to remember that in defeat can be another kind of victory. And back to the bull horn I went…“THE PHEONIX CAN RISE! THE CHRIST KNEW VICTORY AFTER DEATH! SHIRLY MCCLEAN FUCKED KUBLA KHAN! THERE IS A WAY TO BEAT SATAN AGAIN!”

“Satan?” the man asked, following along slowly.


Bull horns may be well and good at teamster rallies, but late at night in Putnam Valley, NY amidst the gentle voters, it is enough to bring the law. My stand was finished. Within two hours G.W. Bush would win the lion’s share of key delegates, edge New York, and by evening’s end wrap up Cali on a whim.

Al Gore swept the thing and stood at a podium in Tennessee begging the McCain independents to protect their women and children from the right-wing religious freak from the land of electric chair justice and world record pollution numbers.

At that moment, phones had to ring in the McCain hotel room somewhere in Los Angeles; and the men paid high figures for advising had to be all over them rebuilding the same bridges that had G.W. in bed with evil preachers and in the back pocket of an establishment which was one bad night in South Carolina away from funneling funds elsewhere. If McCain has a heart, and any compassion left for his party and the future of this nation, he will suck it up and join Junior on the ticket. It is the only avenue left to cease this presidency-by-default Gore has lined up.

It’s after midnight and G.W. is on CNN telling Larry King that he might not have invented the Internet, but he’s sure he could spell it. I still plan to keep writing. Most of it will not appear in this space, but there may be another book left in me. Chief Wonka may even know. I was told he knows all. I was also told crime doesn’t pay and you can’t argue with election results.

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Pat Buchanan Rages Against The Machine – Political satirist, James Campion’s interview with Uncle Pat.

Aquarian Weekly 1/26/00

RAGING AGAINST THE MACHINE:Political Pit Bull, Pat Buchanan Takes Off The Kid Gloves in His Grass Roots Run for President

Less than 24 hours after The Commission on Presidential Debate put a hard limit of at least 15% of the popular vote for a candidate harboring any chance of participating in the general election debates this fall, Patrick J. Buchanan—armed with less than 10% in the polls—tooled into New Jersey with a rather large chip on his already weighted shoulders. Just three months ago Buchanan fought off charges of anti-Semitism, isolationism, and outright insanity after the release of his latest book, “A Republic, Not an Empire” and engineered a bitter separation from his beloved Republican Party in which he served two presidents. His leap into the wild fray known as the Reform Party, although expected for more than a year, caused more than a stir in the two other major parties.

Buchanan welcomes the moniker of outsider, even radical, yet harbors a great respect for conservative values he feels have been ignored inside the GOP. He confuses many prominent members of his former party while striking fear in the main political establishment because he simply doesn’t possess the polished abilities to cower from an old-fashioned verbal brawl. Jesse Ventura, the only elected member of the Reform Party, has refused to accept him and founder, Ross Perot has all but ignored him; but despite diminishing political options, Buchanan gears up for yet another improbable run for president.

When I caught up with him at a fund raiser in New Jersey he had already made a run of radio and television shows accusing everyone but the chosen few in his ever-entertaining Buchanan Brigade of railroading him. But when he addressed the crowd none of the usual sound bite rhetoric which made him an infamous speech writer for Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan was present. Instead, he barked like a man desperately trying for one last shot at shaking the foundation of a stagnant political system.

No one in the political arena has been more vilified or romanticized than Pat Buchanan. Although many of his statements have pierced the heart of political correctness, there is something sincere about Buchanan’s honesty and anger. And although he has mastered the fine art of hyperbole, he pulls no punches when defending his causes and skewering his enemies—of which in the landscape of this the first presidential race of the 21st century, there are many.

jc: So The Commission on Presidential Debate, whatever the hell that is, is squeezing you out?

Buchanan: That we are not allowed in the debates because of some standard set up by the other two parties is an outrage. They’re afraid of us. And who runs this commission which decides this threshold? Paul Kirk, former national chairman of the Democratic Party and Frank Fahrenkopf, former chairman of the Republican Party. And you know what Fahrenkopf does for a living? He’s a million dollar lobbyist for the gambling industry! And who represents us? Nobody. I feel like a guy who comes into court and there’s two guys in the jury box deciding whether he’s going to be hung, and both get his estate if he’s hung. Now how do you think they’re gonna vote? (laughs) I told “Inside Politics” on CNN yesterday that this was a conspiracy to corner the market on the presidency of the United States, and Frank Fahrenkopf is leading that conspiracy. So, Frank was unhappy with me until he went on with my sister Bay on “Equal Time” about an hour and a half later. I think he and Bay almost got into a fist fight afterward. He does not want to mix it up with my baby sister.

From what I understand this is a case of taxation without representation since our money goes to matching funds for all political parties. I’m paying for your right to run for office, but I won’t get to hear from you.

That’s correct. The Reform Party is recognized by the government. It gets money for its convention. It gets matching funds for the general election, just as the other parties do. Why the other two parties have a right to deny our party a right to be heard by the American people is simply ludicrous. Listen, we can’t win the election if we can’t get our message out through a hostile media in the three national debates. We are going to fight this battle.

How do you plan to do so?

We’re going to fight it in court, we’ll fight it before the FEC on legal grounds, and we’re going to fight it in the court of public opinion. I think we’re going to win in the court of public opinion because the American people are first, fair minded and they know that your opponent shouldn’t be the ones who decide how often you ought to speak to them. Secondly, I think the American people themselves are gonna want to hear our views. They’re different, they’re strongly presented, and I think they’re right for the country. The American people have their own interest at heart, so we’re going to win this battle. Rely upon it.

Since the Reform Party seems divided into three or four factions right now, do you think this issue will unite the party?

This will unite the Reform Party. Every member of the party will agree we deserve a roll in the presidential debates to decide the next election. All Reformers can agree on that one.

Have you spoken to Ross Perot?

No I haven’t talked to Ross Perot. We tried to get in touch with Jessie Ventura when I was up in Minnesota and we will again.

There’s been some animosity there. Do you foresee pulling this thing together or will it be a rumble all the way to the convention?

We should all work together and get behind me. (laughs) Look, we’re going after this nomination even if we have to go up to Minnesota and body slam the big fella. We’re gonna do it!

None of the front men for this party seemed too thrilled with your conversion.

I saw the Donald (Trump) up there the other day, and he isn’t doing very well advancing the football from the sidelines, frankly. There has to come a time when you get down on the field, and right now nobody’s down on the field with us.

The word is that Trump could buy enough ballots to win the nomination.

The Donald’s got a hundred million dollars, just like Forbes has got a hundred million, and Bush has his hundred million, so I’ve got to do the footwork and get out there and get those people onto the ballots. You know I was out at that Iowa straw poll and I ran into Forbes and his tent had French doors on it! (laughs) I’m not kidding! I told him Bush raised $36 million in his first two months, and he says, “You know Pat, don’t worry about that, I can get that out of the petty cash drawer.” (laughs) But I know even with that and only 15% of the money in the general election, I’ll go on the television shows no one will go on, and we will make our case.

You’ve made a concerted, if not predictable, effort to trash the two party system since you left.

The Democratic party and the Republican party—at the national level, at the Washington level—have become Xerox copies of each other. And neither of them stand up and do what they say they will do. Both of them have the same agenda. Let’s take that war in Kosovo. In my judgment that was an illegal and unconstitutional war launched by the President of the United States in part to get him out of his latest jam. Seventy-eight days of bombing. They said it was genocide, and they’re in there now and they haven’t found any genocide. What happened is Serbia was bombed for 78 days and we’re right now boycotting heating oil, and people who never did a thing to this country are freezing to death in the winter. Now that’s not the kind of country I grew up in, and that I revere and that I love. And I regret to say the Republican establishment were as much for it as Mr. Clinton.

But most of this country’s involvement in fracases abroad are conducted by the UN. Do you expect the most powerful nation in the world to sit idly by while ethnic and religious cleansing goes down?

Mr. Kofi Annan says only the security council can decide when force may be used in the world. He now says that the sovereignty of any country can be brushed aside if the UN determines that human rights are being violated. Let me tell you something, the last time foreign troops violated the sovereignty of this country was in the battle of New Orleans and they ran into a fellow named Andrew Jackson. We cannot surrender our right to govern ourselves to any global new world order.

Now that gets into the issue of appearing what you have been accused of, and that’s an isolationist.

(smiles) That’s one of the sweeter things they call me. I write in my book that America has never been an isolationist nation. From our first days we were one of the greatest trading nations on earth. But our foreign policy has not been isolationist, it’s been independent. What the founding fathers said was no permanent or entangling alliances. During the American Revolution George Washington welcomed the alliance with France in 1778, but after the war was over we got out because we did not want get entangled in their war. You take care of your own family, your own people, first before you go around doing good. On that issue Bush, McCain, Bradley, Gore, they all disagree. They are global free traders. They’re all pro NAFTA, pro GAT, pro WTO. We have two parties that give us the same agenda, so we want to offer the American people a choice. This country’s never been an isolationist, and I am not an isolationist.

About your book, do you think the furor over it helped you for mere publicity alone?

I told my publisher there is no way that book is getting any attention. It’s a diplomatic history book. After my first book all anyone wanted to talk about at the time was Monica Lewinski, and this time I expected everyone to focus on the third party issue, but you know something? Thanks to Chris Matthews, Alan Dershowitz, and Bill Safire screaming their heads off about that book I was on the New York Times best seller list! (laughs) First time in my life!

Can you pinpoint the very moment when you were sure you were no longer a Republican and had to leave the party?

Look, I’ve got a warm spot in my heart for the grass roots of the Republican Party. I think it’s a good party at the grass roots, a lot of conservatives. My concern is I just had no loyalty to its hierarchy anymore, and I think they’ve walked away from their own grass roots and their own people, and their own best ideas and platform. And I’m just not going along with it. It’s gone on long enough.

If Reagan were running today would he do so as a Republican or a Reform Party candidate?

Well, if Ronald Reagan ran as a Republican it would be a far different story than what they’ve got now.

George W. Bush?

Bush doesn’t know who he is or what to think other than what he’s been programmed. What I’m planning to do on the way to my podium in one of the debates is pass by W. and say, “George, who is prime minister of Estonia?” (laughs) I’ll knock him off his game before the thing even starts!

Could you have envisioned another tussle inside the GOP for a nomination?

Not my concern anymore. I think Bush is going to win this thing fairly early. I think he could have it wrapped up by February first. And I think Mr. Gore is going to win, if not by February first, then latest, March. And all you press guys pumping up McCain and building up Bradley are going to be very unhappy your heroes have lost. And your going to complain that these other guys are boring. And when the general election comes around then you’re going to look out there and see that old troll is still under the bridge. And if you think you’ve come after me before, wait ‘till you come after us this time!

How would the king of debate, Al Gore stack up against you?

I’m a little nervous going up against a guy that invented the Internet. (laughs) You know Al said he and Tipper’s romance up there in Harvard served as the inspiration for “Love Story?” It’s true! He has this Wolf lady, or whatever it is, telling him he’s got to be an alpha man. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to be anymore.

What do you think might have been accomplished during that mess of a demonstration against the WTO in Seattle?

Now you might not have seen me, but I was out there at the Battle of Seattle. I was out there all five days. The WTO didn’t see me because I was disguised as a sea turtle. (laughs) Moving around the imperial troops.

Imperial troops?

The cops.

What was the point of that mess?

There were environmentalists, Buchanan Brigaders, Ralph Nader was there, economic populists, traditionalists; and we were all saying the same thing:That this issue is not about trade, in the way they’ve framed it, but it’s about the sovereignty and the independence and the liberty of the United States of America. Who is this World Trade Organization to tell us what laws we can and can’t pass in the United States of America? What they are doing in Washington is giving away what the founding fathers of this great country fought and died for in Concord and Lexington when they stood up against the greatest empire in the world and said to the imperial troops of the British army that we will be masters of our own house. If we’ve gotta die to be it, we’re gonna die to be it. And they did it. And that is what we’re fighting for.

You’re planning on causing a ruckus, aren’t you?

I think we have pretty much astonished the establishment so far. We’ve been out there fighting battles, and the more they call me names and the more they say this and that it just tells me that we’re in this thing for the long haul.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


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The Great MTV Hoax reveals motivation for MTV’s anti-descrimination campaign.

Aquarian Weekly 1/17/00 REALITY CHECK


“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.” -Mark Twain

The most consistent reward of penning this weekly mess is coming to grips with the ever-plummeting bar of human stupidity, which reaches new and exiting lows with each coming day. This is especially prevalent in the dynamic, if not frustrating, misinterpretation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of these United States. From Jerry Springer to Al Gore to the MPAA and FCC to Howard Stern and Marilyn Manson it has given new hope to the term redundancy.

This week MTV, pop culture dumping ground for the painfully mediocre and terminally pubescent, will launch “a yearlong public service campaign against discrimination.” The music network ran the details of hate-crime victims for 17 consecutive hours on 1/10. There was no music or fun-loving counter-culture programming or, God forbid, ads for its duration. MTV claimed to sacrifice $2 million in the process. Since announcing this, MTV’s pr department has been working overtime citing a sense of guilt or even responsibility for purveying material bent on perpetuating hate. One in particular is its assistance in the recent meteoric rise of rapper, Eminem.

Doesn’t MTV realize that by overtly taking blame for influencing mayhem with art, it might give distributors, record companies, producers etc. added ammo to ramrod more commercially senseless tripe down our collective throat until we become so innocuous a society that we cannot tell the difference between danger and expression?

In the grand tradition of Philip Morris dumping a small share of its gargantuan profits, gained by peddling addictive drugs, into cancer research or domestic violence, and Budweiser spending even less on guilt-assuaging “Think Before You Drink And Drive” ads in a sea of endless booze-addled promos, we now have MTV apologizing for what it perceives is a direct correlation between silly music videos and heinous acts of violence and murder.

The stupidity in this is three-fold.

Firstly, the collective ego at MTV is mind-bending. Having dated a woman who worked there in the mid-90s’, I can attest to it first hand. The daily routine of counting money in a drug haze has certainly taken its toll on the self-importance meter over there. It began with the Live-Aid campaign that went belly up in a swirl of corruption and embezzling that could feed the inhabitants of two planets. This latest misguided effort is tantamount to the same line of garbage payola deejays of the 1950s’ like Alan Freed tried to sell as martyrdom when white American authorities and government agencies tried to shut down radio and television at the site of black performers. The birth of every musical genre is littered with myopic worms who take all kinds of credit for everything artists produce, and although it is naïve to think MTV is not a powerful voice in the distribution of noise-candy, to admit, or even declare its guilt in the abuse of women or gays is ludicrous.

Secondly, even if MTV thought this public-relations charade could curtail the sickening abundance of violence in this country, wouldn’t they run peaceful hymns over hours of loving sentiments at the cost of high profits in perpetuity? Instead the “smart people” see the looming threat of a government crackdown-threat on the entertainment industry and offer up this pathetic bone. The obligatory distraction from economic and foreign policies ripe with malfecance washes sleazy politics in phony nobility, but solves next to nothing but sucker votes. However, MTV is a huge money business and needs government out of its coffers. This is equivalent to USA Studios lame attempt to strip itself of blame for Jerry Springer’s dumb-fest by leaning on the host to curtail the excessive violence in the face of congressional statements decrying daytime talk as the tool of Satan.

And finally, doesn’t MTV realize that this is another piece of raw meat thrown to the rabid censor wolves, heightening their insatiable appetite for more blood? Doesn’t MTV realize that by overtly taking blame for influencing mayhem with art, it might give distributors, record companies, producers etc. added ammo to ramrod more commercially senseless tripe down our collective throat until we become so innocuous a society that we cannot tell the difference between danger and expression? The answer is unequivocally no. MTV is about making money, and the moment this peace offering is over, they’ll go back to peddling the junk food.

And that is fine, because we don’t need MTV to save us. And we don’t need Eminem, or any artist for that matter, to apologize for his views. Eminem is a punk, but he’s gained an audience that relates to him. Whose fault is that? At the risk of leaping over Maudlin and onto the back of Sickeningly Repetitive, violence is a symptom of hate nurtured in the home by example and prejudice handed down by the people responsible for its dissemination: PARENTS. If people don’t take care of their own, we are a doomed lot, and if rap music or a television network stands between human survival and moral guidelines then its time we joined other useless civilizations and cash in the last chip. People have to start caring for people and allow art to take care of art, and business, which MTV certainly is, will take care of business.

Unlike the politically correct fear running rampart in most entertainment, music still offers a chance at art imitating, even reflecting, life. To that end we should applaud Eminem for his sophomoric anti-gay, anti-woman, pro-violence rhetoric, and for pointing out that these sentiments really and truly exist everyday. Surprise! We’re not living in a Hallmark card with Fonz rooming over our garage, and Britney Spears is not merely a suggestively sexual ball of fun, but a nauseating example of children trying to grasp onto mature concepts their parents flippantly whitewashed on the way to the golf course and PTA gatherings.

I say we run the crimes of irresponsible baby machines masquerading as parents, complete with photos for heightened humiliation. Then Eminem can go the way of Vanilla Ice and everyone can get crazy castigating some new culture toy.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


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Bill Bradley Letter- Political satirist James Campion implores fledgeling campaign



Date: 8/10/99 4:30 PM

Eric Hauser Press Secretary Bill Bradley For President

Mr. Hauser,

Al Gore must be stopped.

He is a lapdog Washington cretin with the credibility of a street pimp. His wife makes my skin crawl and if she is allowed to run unchecked through the White House we may as well sell the rest of our military secrets to the Chinese at half-price. I hope you realize that you presently work for one of the few people who can cease this terror from being unleashed on the American public. Are you prepared for true battle?

I am the main nerve for news, politics, and social issues for the Aquarian Weekly. Mostly freaks, drug addicts, the unemployed, or musicians read my column. However, any points of interest for the young voting public in the NJ, NY, Conn. area can be targeted through me—and anything short of all-out violent revolt or taking a slow boat to Australia, I am most likely going to endorse your candidate forcefully. It is in your best interest to keep me well informed. I would like to receive info and credentials to any appearance of Mr. Bradley or his tri-state campaign in the coming months.

This is mainly a liberal or independent publication. Yet, nearly every one of our readers would like to see Al Gore tarred and feathered, and hung from a flag pole outside the Vince Lombardi rest stop. And lest you think this information unworthy of your attention, I personally receive hundreds of letters a week to this end. These are people who are jacked to vote for anyone but Al Gore. Jesus, man, G.W. leads in most polls dealing with the 18-25 set. What are you people doing about that? These are free votes for Bradley, and I can bring them aboard. It’s a harmful existence, but we cannot be weak. And if your boy can’t stop that inane creature of hypocrisy I shall back whatever the Republicans can muster.

Let’s work together on this and you can sweep the tri-state area in the primaries, and we won’t have to worry about me painting the Democrats as “the home of pathetic losers and dipshits.”

Also, it is imperative that your candidate address issues pertaining to the federal government’s annoying penchant for sticking its nose in the arts, from film to music. An extremely sticky issue with myself and my readers. First Amendment rights and all that.

I can also be of use to you in the mudslinging department. Just last week I received nude pictures of your opponent with a donkey. Take from it what you will, but I was told it was the result of a campaign photo-op mishap that would have already been circulating the Internet if not for death threats and five-figure cash offers. Yours free for the asking.

Also note, it is optimum to fax the newspaper’s office when you send me e-mail. You will find it to be an effective way of working your points in other parts of the paper and getting a cover next summer or fall. Until I hear from you all…

Never Surrender, James Campion

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


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Greatest Novels of the 20th Century – Author, James Campion lists the books that changed generations.


The Great Gatsby
Slaughterhouse Five
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
On The Road
Brave New World
One Flew Over The Cukoo’s Nest
Catcher In The Rye
The Shining
Tropic Of Cancer
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
In the fall of 1996 the national men’s magazine, Genesis commissioned jc to put together a list and short reviews of some of the 20th century’s most groundbreaking American novels. Although many of the titles were chosen in a group effort between the editors of Genesis and jc, the author made it clear that mere sales nor critical acclaim would dictate the prerequisites for the list, which he readily admits is one not only close to his heart, but inspiration as well. For the first time they appear all together for your perusing and debating pleasure.

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby“But I didn’t call him, for he gave the sudden intimation that he was content to be alone–he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward–and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness.”

The Great Gatsby is with little argument the “Great American Novel.” At just under 56,000 words, it defies the logic and boundaries of mere mortal literature. The development of characters, the glaring metaphors and the intimate range of its purpose tip the scales of perfection. The work is a lesson in prose and tension, a creation of romanticism and commentary bridging two centuries of American life, dreams and fears. In a letter to a friend in 1923, Fitzgerald bemoaned the construct of the novel and how he longed to create something beyond it, something of great worth. Two years later, he did just that.

The finest examples of Fitzgerald’s fulfilled prophecy is his choice of chapter breaks, how they demand notice, bridge curiosity and meld a delicate balance between good and evil, and how money, lust, ego, and circumstance blur their lines. It is at once a story of America, God (or the absence of one), a tale of integrity in an atmosphere of deceit, and a study of love where such a concept is impossible.

The Great Gatsby is the blueprint for all great fiction because by its very existence it challenges the genre. Anyone who has merely read a comic strip should say they have enjoyed it.

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Slaughter House-Five“So it goes.”

If Slaughterhouse Five is not Vonnegut’s finest work, it’s certainly his legacy. After this, his sixth book, postwar America would know him as a major voice of the late 20th century novel. While boasting a penchant for satire and the most blatant antiwar sentiment put to paper, it may best be remembered for its full-blown romp into science fiction and dark comedy. Slaughterhouse Five is the purest form of art for it achieves the best compliment one can bestow on the artist–it was far ahead of its time.

Moving in its subtlety, it is the semi-autobiographical tale of one man’s jump through time and space while facing the remnants of wartime horror. Having been a survivor of America’s bombing of the German city, Dresden, toward the end of the Second World War, Vonnegut uses his protagonist, Billy Pilgrim to roam the conscience of his own memory. But it is the discovery of Pilgrim’s own tragic life that is spent at the mercy of fickle destiny which makes Slaughterhouse Five a timeless classic.

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FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS by Hunter S. Thompson

Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas“Turn up the radio. Turn up the tape machine. Look into the sunset up ahead. Roll the windows down for a better taste of the cool desert wind. Ah, yes. This is what it’s all about. Total control now. Tooling the main drag on a Saturday night in Las Vegas, two good old boys in a fireapple-red convertible . . . stoned, ripped, twisted . . . Good People.”

Although infamous for its painfully descriptive and cartoonishly drugged-out scenes laced with a seemingly senseless abuse of societal boundaries, overt violence and maniacal behavior, Thompson’s hit-and-run search for the “American Dream” in the city of sin is so much more. Set in the backdrop of 1960s’ fumes and awash in the author’s unique brand of Gonzo Journalism, where the writer becomes part of the landscape he is covering, Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas is a clinic in language and brevity. No scene is wasted, no dialogue superfluous.

Written as a series of articles for the pop-culture magazine, Rolling Stone, it is a fictitious haze that attacks, probes and holds to the mirror the humor of its futile characters bounding their way from one paranoid scenario to the next with little care for the consequences. Yet, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas stands alone in the pantheon of literary gold because it is completely and utterly original. It is the perfect voice for a rock-n’-roll generation, for it simply boogies like one of its most recognizable songs.

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ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac

On The Road“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

It is arguably the most influential novel of the 20th century. For Jack Kerouac–the celebrated, if not reluctant point man for the underground Beat Movement of the late 1950s’–it was a signature work. A slice of Americana for 40 years, On the Road launched a Baby Boomer fallout and countless writing careers. Many argue that the moment it hit the shelves on September 5, 1957 the cultural revolution of the 1960s’ sex, drugs and penniless freedom began.

However, Kerouac’s rambling ode to a life with vague boundaries still breathes today with a speed and passion unique to its “spontaneous prose.” It is the first of many autobiographical odes penned by many of his contemporaries, most of whom used the medium of fiction to lay out a manifesto of underground delights rarely seen in the bland light of a growing middle class America. Several generations have found it a valuable source of inspiration and rebellion. Perhaps the hordes of Generation X can escape the Internet for a fresh encounter.

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BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World“ Feel how the Greater Being comes! Rejoice and, in rejoicing die! Melt in the music of the drums! For I am you and you are I – The Third Solidarity Hymn

It is religion and science, fascism and communism, reality and fantasy, future and past. It is the strangest collection of thought and theme to be put into a novel without even a hint of pedantry. First published in 1932, only a few years before the world was faced with the type of horrors depicted in it, Brave New World presents the potential for humanity to cleanse itself with the death of freedom.

Unlike the boorish political rhetoric of George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley fears for the human spirit; doused in black humor and a warp of science madness, making it almost certain that it will be well over a millennium of failure before the final solution is to come. Although sometimes mired in an intellect that betrays its playfulness, Brave New World is the author’s most accessible work.

Before he would be done with the novel form, Huxley would dabble in a sequel and challenge most of the assertions found in this fascinating study of society’s trail.

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One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest“Whatever it was went haywire in the mechanism, they’ve just about got it fixed again. The clean, calculated arcade movement is coming back: sixty-thirty out of bed, seven into the mess hall, eight the puzzles come out for the Chronics and the cards for the Acutes . . . in the Nurse’s Station I can see the white hands of the Big Nurse float over the controls.”

On the surface, Kesey’s first, and most successful novel is a wonderful study of human fragility in the American Century’s increasingly cold and impersonal world. Beneath a fascinating character study, it scorches societal landscapes while stretching the art of imagination into ghoulish paranoid nightmares. It’s central figure, Randle Patrick McMurphy, simultaneously stands as both a leveled host into a psychotic world where machine and medicine belies madness, and that world’s most damaged psyche.

It is Kesey’s depiction of McMurphy’s vacillating dementia that lifts One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest to more rarefied literary air. He stands aloof from the clan of crazies he at once hopes to infiltrate and then illuminate. The roots of the author’s later celebrity in the acid-frenzy culture of the late-sixties is evident in the expertly depicted dream-sequences, but where the novel takes shape is in its overt metaphor for a burgeoning cultural movement cracking under the weight of creeping fear.

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The Catcher In The RyeIt was lousy in the park. It wasn’t too cold, but the sun was still out, and there didn’t look like there was anything in the park except dog crap and globs of spit and cigar butts from old men, and the benches all looked like they’d be wet if you sat down on them. It made you depressed, and every once in a while, for no reason, you got goose flesh while you walked. It did’t seem like Christmas was coming soon. It didn’t seem like anything was coming.”

Once the Baby Boomer Bible, with its dose of alienation and swipe at the stagnation and apparent insanity of the establishment, Catcher In The Rye has since been transformed from harbinger to prophecy. Its raw, blatant direction may be far more potent in today’s world of lost innocence and hope than it was for a postwar generation high on excess and dreams.

Seemingly ripped from this present-day, sound-bite society obsessed with the grotesque personality as a defining portrait of itself, Salinger’s only real novel has become standard fodder for the depraved and maniacal.

First published in 1951, it raised questions on the stark reality of its content–from slang to sexuality. Beyond Catcher In The Rye’s social significance, there is the brilliantly confused innocence of its main character and narrator, Holden Caufield. It’s his desperation to be understood and gain a measure of self-respect in circumstances glaringly beyond his control that make him the everyman the way Steinbeck’s Tom Joad had been at the turn of the century.

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THE SHINING by Stephen King

The Shining“Force, presence, shape, they were all only words and none of them mattered. It wore many masks, but it was all one. Now, somewhere, it was all coming for him. It was hiding behind Daddy’s face, it was imitating Daddy’s voice, it was wearing Daddy’s clothes. But it was not his Daddy.”

The most frightening element of unparalleled horror-scribe, Stephen King’s ode to the haunted house lies not in its fantasy, but its chilling reality. Not unlike most of his work, the author uses the inner demons of society and their effects on its unsuspecting victims to weave morality tales of terror. But where The Shining stands above the rest, and therefore becomes a legitimate classic, is in its subtle transformation of the the fragile human condition to a stammering monstrosity.

A sensitive story of lonely childhood fantasies, psychic phenomenon and the gory specter of alcohol nightmares, it has spawned two movie adaptations that have yet to capture the eerie remnants of King’s unforgettable looming Overlook Hotel and its mysterious Room 217. As madness and evil possession gives way to hallucinations for King’s sympathetic protagonist turned antagonist, Jack Torrance, The Shining paints indelible images of our own dark side lying dormant in places not easily hidden. But most of all, it is a damn scary yarn told by a master.

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TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller

Tropic Of CancerI have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive. A year ago, six months ago, I though that I was an artist. I no longer think about it. I am. Everything that was literature has fallen to me. There are no more books to be written, thank God.”

Sixty-six years after it was first published and subsequently banned in all English-speaking countries, Tropic Of Cancer remains a vital piece of American literary history–a work to which all young writers must go for a fresh and poignant slant on the definition of modern prose. With a vulgar honesty and riveting characters leaping from the page in a stream of consciousness reserved for the manic and ribald, it simply blurs the line between genius and pap.

Long before the Beat Generation and Gonzo Journalism, there was Henry Miller, the “ugly American”, stuck in Paris– a mere six years before it would ravaged by war–wandering the city of lights with no money or prospects. There, he wrote his first book amid the inspiring bohemian landscape, exploding with sexual indulgence and crude revelry.

Shocking for 1934, it is still the most unique work of its kind, and helped set the blueprint for the rest of the century’s literary meanderings along the road less traveled.

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JAWS by Peter Benchley

JawsThe fish, with the woman’s body in its mouth, smashed down on the water with a thunderous splash, spewing foam and blood and phosphorescence in a gaudy shower.”

One of the most popular novels of the 1970s, Jaws paralyzed the American public with such fear that many oceanfront resorts were forced to add shark experts to their payrolls and contractually guarantee the safety of potential swimmers. A few years later the wildly successful Steven Spielberg film drove the hysteria to even more astounding heights. Peter Benchley, unwittingly by his own admission, had started a panic phenomenon that is not likely to be equaled by another novel.

Benchley’s fascination with sharks, most notably the Great White, from which he created a modern Moby Dick, undulates throughout each page. The destructive force of the creature looms over the characters even when it is merely a shadow; controlling their emotions and driving them deeper into its world.

Unlike the movie’s lighter adventure tale, Benchley’s Jaws never promises salvation for humankind beyond its mere survival in the wake of a being that has ruled the seas for millions of years. It is nature that is Benchley’s tragic hero in this vastly underrated masterpiece of primal fear.

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Charlie And The Chocolate Factory“He seemed to love the sensation of whizzing through a white tunnel in a pink boat on a chocolate river, and he clapped his hands and laughed and kept glancing at his passengers to see if they were enjoying it as much as he.”

Roald Dahl’s engaging tale of morality and maturation in a 20th century vacuum of poverty and excess reads like a strange morphing of Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens cranked on pure sugar.

Disguised as a children’s book with surreal illustrations by Joseph Schindelman, it moves with a sophisticated wit. Although an inspiration for the cult film, Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, the original work bares only a resemblance in story and characters, while delving deeper into the dysfunction of a humanity smoldering at its core.

Dahl reminds us before the text begins, much like Dickens demands the reader to accept that Jacob Marley is quite dead before he unfolds his 19th century classic, A Christmas Carol, there are five children in this book. Four represent certain undesirable traits: greed, selfishness, sloth, and bad manners, while the fifth, Charlie Bucket–an Oliver Twist meets Alice in Wonderland–is simply billed as the hero. His adventure in self-discovery, riding the coat tales of one of modern literature’s most memorable White Rabbits, the Mysterious Wonka, is a time-honored romp through delightful fantasy.

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JUNKY by William S. Burroughs

Junky“The hipster bebop junkies never showed at 103rd Street. The 103rd boys were all old-timers — thin, sallow faces; bitter twisted mouths; still-fingered, stylized gestures. They were of various nationalities and physical types, but they all looked alike somehow. They all looked like junk.”

Bathed in the eerie light of alienation and surrealism, the characters in William S. Burroughs’ true-life tale of drug addiction in underground post World War II New York appear almost sympathetic through the eyes of one of their own. Along with overt physical oddities and idiosyncratic quirks, Burroughs’ junkies wear the warm sadness of their self-inflicted desperation, which becomes almost normal in the jungle of city existence. But it’s the slang of the addicts and the atmosphere they create that makes Junky a unique expose on the damage wrought by a burgeoning drug culture.

Unlike his most famous book, Naked Lunch, Junky eschews the bizarre angles for a more straightforward account of a person whose only routine and purpose is to procure, distribute and consume hard drugs. First published in 1953–long before the pop romanticism of the 1960’s–Junky proved a wailing siren to society’s ills and its wounded fringe. Today, its disturbing tribal echo still reverberates.

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Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

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R.I.P. Woodstock – Pop Culture author, James Campion slams Woodstock 1999.

Reality Check Classics 7/28/99


Like all things attached to aberrations and miracles, the legacy of Woodstock must be allowed to rest in peace. It has become sadly apparent that to revive its memory only unearths actions barely resembling anything to do with the word peace.

Glaring examples of capitalism run amok in the form of 90s’ sponsorship, and potential record sales eclipse any homage to a time and place so rare it defies explanation even now. For if Joni Mitchell had been walking down the road to Rome, New York on the weekend of July 24, 1999, it is more likely she would have seen less a child of God, than a Baby Boomer fallout.

Whatever those who put together Woodstock ’99 might have thought—or offered up as an excuse, following three days of disgusting accommodations, ridiculous overpricing, lewd and abusive behavior, blatant acts of violence, looting, and arson—it can simply be summed up as the day the piper came looking for his check. Somewhere between MTV, pay-per-view, and, the ripped-off, starving, unwashed, poser revolutionaries who were bilked by this sham enacted their vengeance on what surely has to be the last of these hapless revivals.

By the time the miscreants began looting the evil money lenders and setting fires, Woodstock, as we have come to know and love it, became just another example of humans misinterpreting compassion for luck.

Thirty years ago, a couple of rich kids got lucky. All they wanted was to make a few bucks on a burgeoning music culture born out of a Summer of Love and a stockpile of recreational drugs. The small town known as Woodstock, nestled in the mountains of Sullivan County, New York seemed as good a place as any to have what was fast being known as a music festival.

Home to artists for most of the century, and by the Summer of ‘69, host to musicians including the patriarchal Bob Dylan, the town of Woodstock served as a mini-nirvana for those starved for an image to summon the crude, but sometimes charming lifestyle begun in the streets of the East Village in NYC and Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. The Woodstock Music and Art Festival didn’t turn out like the rich kids planned (Actually, it didn’t even take place in Woodstock, NY, but in nearby Bethel), but it could’ve been a whole hell of a lot worse.

Nearly three decades later, other rich folk, coupled with corporate America and the record industry, decided to press the odds. A 25th Anniversary weekend went relatively well a few towns south in Saugerties, NY five years ago, and now it would take place a few miles southeast. But it was more than decades and miles which separated the 350,00 lost souls who descended on Max Yasgur’s farmland in the Summer of the moon landing and the Amazin’ Mets, and nearly 230,000 suckers crammed into an abandoned Air Force base last month. That was a distance made but for one element: luck.

It should always be noted that the original Woodstock festival was supposed to be a profit venture. Sadly, for the rich kids financing it, the thing turned into a financial bath before the end of day-one. More than half the kids who piled into the festival waltzed over downed fences. As a result of the unchecked influx of flower children there wasn’t nearly enough toilets, water, or space. The New York Thruway, a winding stretch of road as long as the Mississippi River, was closed. Humanity outweighed the blue print ten times over. Then came the torrential downpours and random dissemination of tainted LSD.

But something significant, some might offer magnificent, happened over those three miserable days. Through it all, the people survived. Better yet, they thrived. What originally was supposed to exploit them, deteriorated into something which transformed them. For all their antisocial rhetoric, the hippie generation formed a mini-society which laughed in the face of convention by embracing its most ardent qualities. This was the story plastered on the front of the New York Times on the Monday morning after. Crazy kids with heads full of drugs and hardly a stitch of clothing or a dollar to spare supported each other for three days of “peace and music.”

Like Kennedy’s Camelot, Woodstock has been retrospectively lifted to epic lore. But for those who found themselves there it was nothing short of a disaster area. The Who’s Pete Townshend still speaks of it in horrific terms. Filmmaker Martin Scorcese, who worked the sound for the award-winning movie, has often described it as surviving war. Bad acid, bad weather, bad well water, and creeping sickness turned fields around the stage into Gettysburg without the rifles.

Yet, the world continued to wonder if those hearty souls showed the rest of us a thing or two about the glow of the human spirit., where behind the myopic harangue of civilization there is a ring of collective truth about brotherhood, caring, and the simple, but significant, act of lifting the person next to you out of the mud and back on stride.

The world knows now it was nothing but dumbass luck.

People would love to blame the senseless violence and looting of this year’s version of Woodstock on the music, the artists, the culture, or those empty-headed youngsters whose only sense of self-respect and responsibility eludes them. But if you find yourself in Limp Bizkit or Korn right now, a few months, maybe years, from eating stale bread in your no-heat apartments, you’re taking any gig, especially a high-paying, high-profile one. And if you need to scream and yell about how much life sucks to a rapid-fire beat and three chords to make a buck, may the good Lord bless and keep you.

Ironically, many feel that the acts not allowed to perform during the original Woodstock allowed for the vibe to float rather than sink. There was a reason why the Doors, with their radical calls for the break down of reality barriers and invisible social casts, were left off the bill.

When the rebellious Satan clan known as the Rolling Stones were told not to come, Mick Jagger decided to host his own festival on the hills of San Francisco which resulted in the blood bath forever known as Altamont.

But in reality the music didn’t have as much to do with the tragedy of Altamont as the fascist violence of the Hell’s Angels and the hippie mismanagement which inevitably led to infamous killings and another type of bell which tolled for the Baby Boomer peace and love era.

All of this had been conveniently forgotten until the pathetic display of raging capitalism, apathy, and finally violence in Rome last month. Only this time ignorance cannot be used as an excuse. As the weekend unfolded it seemed far more attention was paid to draining patrons of their cash than providing decent camp areas, ample toilets, showers, or any presence of security. The hundreds crushed in mosh pits could have been prevented. The overflow of human secretions hindered somewhat.

By the time the miscreants began looting the evil money lenders and setting fires, Woodstock, as we have come to know and love it, became just another example of humans misinterpreting compassion for luck. Those stumbling into a wonderful mistake and sliding through relatively unscathed 30 years ago achieved a level of fortune rarely reached in the annals of humanity.

The luck ran out in August of 1969. For the rest of us there is only an empty vessel of suffering at $169 a pop.

First Published on 8/11/99 in The Aquarian Weekly. It is included with many others in jc’s new book, Fear No Art available now on!

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Bill Clinton – An Appreciation – President’s mia culpa revisited by political satirist, James Campion

Reality Check Classics 8/19/98


By my count Bill Clinton has now surpassed Ronald Reagan for most speeches filled with monumental dog crap. His address to the nation on August 17, although not quite as pathetic as Ronnie’s “I didn’t know anything about any Irna-Contra thing” babble or certainly no match for the all-time disingenuous pap of then vice president, Richard Nixon’s pathetic Checker’s Speech, was nonetheless an historical moment in the presidency. Officially, after 220 years this country has not produced a better liar than William Jefferson Clinton. For your dancing and listening pleasure here is that speech with defining comments parenthetically inserted.

Good evening. (hello suckers) This afternoon in this room, from this chair, I testified before the Office of Independent Counsel and the grand jury. (I’m shoveling the crap from here for three minutes so you won’t be needing to hear the nearly five hours of embarrassing and incriminating testimony I spewed under the guise of federal law) I answered their questions truthfully, (sort of) about my private life, (blow jobs from government employees) questions no American citizen would ever want to answer. (Of course no American citizen has a rent-free airplane, limos, and hundreds of armed guards)

Still, I must take full responsibility for all my actions, (7 months and $40 million of your dollars later) both public and private. (blow jobs in the rent-free White House) And that’s why I’m speaking to you tonight. (ran out of legal options) As you know, in a deposition in January (when I thought I could beat this rap) I was asked questions about my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. While my answers were legally accurate. (legally O.J. Simpson is innocent) I did not volunteer information. (pretty much the definition of perjury)

Indeed I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was inappropriate. (inappropriate is an ambiguous term for kinky shit) In fact, it was wrong. (it was fine until I heard the word DNA) It constituted a critical lapse in judgment (fucked up) and a personal failure on my part (key words are “personal” and “my” – tell you why later) for which I am solely (key word) and completely (another key word) responsible. But I told the grand jury today, and I say to you now, that at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence or to take any other unlawful action. (I’m using the words “personal”, “my”, “solely”, and “completely responsible” so you’ll buy this new and improved lie about obstruction of justice)

I know that my public comments (“Listen to me, I did not have sexual relations with that woman”) and my silence about this matter gave a false impression (more fancy verbiage for lied) I misled people, (politically correct way to say lied) including my wife (you know, what’s her name) I deeply regret that. (I’m pissed she found out) I can only tell you (because you buy most of my bullshit) I was motivated by many factors. First my desire to protect myself from embarrassment of my own conduct. (I’m out of control) I was also very concerned about protecting my family. (the sympathy props)

The fact that these questions were being asked in a politically inspired lawsuit (those bastards want to bring your beloved president down) which has been dismissed, (if it wasn’t for my damn penis I’d be scott free) was a consideration, too. In addition, I had real and serious concerns about an independent counsel investigation that began with private business dealing (illegal land scams) 20 years ago (I was young and stupid give me some slack), dealings (crimes) I might add, about which an independent federal agency (this Ken Starr guy you’ll be seeing trying to impeach your beloved president) found no evidence of any wrongdoing (guy couldn’t find Godzilla in a corn field) by me or my wife over two years ago. (its been awhile, give it up)

The independent counsel investigation (I’m off the blow job/lie thing and on the attack – follow me now) moved on to my staff and friends (more suckers I bilked) then into my private life (you know, the kinky in the rent-free federal office) And now the investigation itself is under investigation (they’re bad too – two wrongs equal innocence, use your imagination, like, my father beat me so I have to rape you stuff – you’re catching on!) This has gone on too long (if it weren’t for cum stains it would still be rolling) cost too much (my fault) and hurt too many people. (my fault again)

Now, this matter is between me, the two people I love most – my wife and our daughter – and our God. (those two can’t impeach me and I’ve got to throw God in here somewhere, don’t I?) I must put it right, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so. (I’ll be redefining that hyperbole later) Nothing is more important to me personally (are you getting my third grade attempt at telling you that I can handle this thing – there is no use in putting me on trial, I’ll handle this – me, the guy who lied) But it is private (get it?); and I intend to reclaim my family life for my family (redundant but slick) It’s nobody’s business but ours. (something I borrowed from Al Capone) Even presidents have private lives. (and cats have whiskers boys and girls)

It is time to stop the pursuit of personal destruction and prying into private lives and get on with our national life. (national life? Made that up – like it?) Our country has been distracted by this matter for too long. (driving it home, baby) and I take responsibility for my part in all this (that’s what this charade is about) This is all I can do. (didn’t I just spew some garbage about doing whatever it takes, guess this three minute thing is “whatever it takes”)

Now it is time – in fact, it is past time – (driving it home mamma) to move on. (I admitted stealing the eraser, so no one should have to stay after class) We have important work to do (more chicks) real opportunities to seize (IRS investigations of all my enemies) real problems to solve (Paula Jones will be making a comeback after this) And so tonight, I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of the past seven months (I say its past and you will ignore it – damn it – you love me!) to repair the fabric of our national discourse (made that up too, dig my cryptic jive – yeah!) and return our attention to all the challenges and all the promise of the next American century. (how do I sleep at night?)

Thanking you for watching. And good night. (The brainwashing is done, go back to Jerry Springer and professional wrestling and leave me alone)

First published on 9/1/98 in The Aquarian Weekly. It is included with many others in jc’s new book, Fear No Art available now on!

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