Skull & Bones/Kerry & Bush

Aquarian Weekly 7/28/04 REALITY CHECK


“The founders of Time Inc. and the C.I.A., as well as several Secretaries of State and National Security Advisors-the men who made the decision to drop the Hiroshima bomb, invade the Bay of Pigs and plunge us into Vietnam, the Tafts, the Bundys, the Buckleys, the Harrimans, the Lovetts-all took part in this initiation ritual of Skull & Bones.” – Ron Rosenbaum, New York Observer 4/23/2001

Since this will have to serve as the official launch of this space’s coverage of the 2004 presidential campaign, the second such foray in the life of this particular column, and the third I have more or less “covered” as a “professional journalist”, I shall come clean.

I have no dog in this fight.

My preternatural abhorrence of Al Gore four years ago, along with facing down the insane hope that Bill Bradley would get out of New Jersey alive and the boredom-induced fantasy of another Ralph Nader ego-fest had landed me in the untenable position to hound the Bush people to ignominious victory – however slight and torpid the whole fiasco turned out. Despite the relative messes hence, I stand by my efforts to deter the spawn of Medea from ever being elected anything higher than Tennessee dogcatcher and sentencing his miserable shill of a wife to doughnut-gorging oblivion.

And however stupid a dream it remains that someday a man or woman of great vision and integrity would ever have the balls, money or political connections to reach this most feculent arena of executive power, I manage to stumble on unimpeded in the practice of fence-sitting despot.

It is my fate.

Some of us accept it and move on, a kind of Tolstoy recognition that most of what we humans endeavor to achieve is rendered meaningless by the mere effort.

It’s comforting. Try it sometime.

However, as resident Loon-in-Residence here at The Desk, I am forever tied to an infuriating exercise called Mining the Truth, whatever level that may be in these times of “my guy is right no matter what the hell the facts may provide”. And I am paid by this periodical to disseminate the odd opinion on a weekly basis, so I strive on boats against the current.

Exclusive club of the elite, privileged and the dangerously ambitious; this is what our framers envisioned for a democracy, but at least those guys had guts.

Firstly, although I do not believe he will win this thing, I do not despise George W. Bush the way most of his detractors do. This idea perpetuated by The Left that the president is some kind of Machiavellian evil genius is poorly researched. At best, and I believe we’ve been pretty consistent around here throughout his term, Junior is patently mediocre, his cabinet wildly overrated, and the overall effect of his time at Pennsylvania Avenue minor.

There was a pretty good chance Bush was going to be under-whelming if this country hadn’t been attacked nine months into his run, and if I remember correctly no one in the Republican Party tried to sell him as International Affairs Chief anyway. The worst you can say about Captain Shoe-In is he was in over his head. But the GOP needed a relative centrist who wouldn’t screw up the sinking Gore ship. These frothing politicos never considered his inability to actual govern; just win a damn general election. Jesus, the power people in his office shook like frightened children a few months after 9/11. Not even they could believe this bumpkin had to make snap decisions for the free world, which is why many of the crazed ones made the calls and now here we are.

But unless this administration is lucky enough to be around when they produce Osama bin Laden (not likely since he’s been dead for over three years) dump that albatross Dick Chaney for John McCain (a Right Wing no-no) or have video of the challenger humping farm animals, it’s over. So why beleaguer the poor boy. He’ll be a footnote like his father and it will be up to your grandchildren’s historians to try and figure out how it happened.

As for the Democratic front-runner, I believe he would fair no better at this job. His spotty record in the Senate is nothing to wax poetic about. John Kerry is more or less the Dems version of Bob Dole – It’s my turn, dammmit!! His claim to fame over these past few months is that he’s more electable than Howard Dean, who managed to scare that screeching son of bitch Chris Matthews half to death, and Matthews worked on the Carter campaign.

I don’t know what Kerry stands for; neither do you, and apparently neither does he. A Catholic Pro-Choice, rich-guy, working-class-hero, anti-war candidate who voted for the war? I liked it better when he was a 60s’ radical telling everyone he was a war criminal on Meet The Press. You think this Beltway lifer is rescinding the Patriot Act or going after large corporations, or the Pentagon, or fashioning universal Health Care out of a shoestring budget? Good luck, smoky.

Look, before we begin this four-month sprint through two conventions, countless late-night rambling diatribes with insiders and campaign spinners and get all bloody and tired, one thing needs to be put on the record, and I promise not to bring it up again: John Kerry and George Bush are both ranking members of Yale’s secret society called Skull & Bones. High finance, white, misogynistic, frat yuppie fuckers of which there are only 800 living members. Skull & Bones is a mysterious ancient club of the North Eastern establishment. The aim of Skull & Bones is to acquire power and pass the benefits to brothers and the like-minded. Dozens of men working for Bush and Kerry belong to this atavistic thing. Look it up. I’m running out of space.

Exclusive club of the elite, privileged and the dangerously ambitious; this is what our framers envisioned for a democracy, but at least those guys had guts.

I often get grief from readers about not revealing my true leanings politically, despite hiding behind this laughable guise of political columnist. So now you know. I hate both these idiots and although I share some measure of ideology and disagreement with both, I also believe it won’t mean a hill of beans when the machine takes hold.

You know, the machine that produces candidates for president of the United States from the same damned silver-mouthed melting pot which produced gems like William Howard Taft, who infamously wrote, “I don’t remember that I ever was president.”

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The John Edwards Factor

Aquarian Weekly 7/14/04 REALITY CHECK


John EdwardsTrue to his transparent nature, John Forbes Kerry has gone scratch on his choice for vice president. John Edwards is the southern democrat that every northeastern presidential candidate has felt the need to tap into for decades, one that sates the party’s hunger for solidarity and forces Republicans to fight in geographical areas thought untouchable. Meaning the idea of the Edwards pick is not to gain minor victories in the almost impregnable southern electorate, but to distract the Bush forces away from the mid-west battleground states for key chunks of time while they defend once solid ground.

These are the machinations of the front-runner. However slim and vacillating that lead may be – up to and around seven to eight points by press time, according to whatever source you subscribe to – this has been, and still is Kerry’s puppy to lose. Incumbents with this kind of spotty record sitting on sloppy police actions face uphill battles. Daring leaps must come from the Bush camp. This is what the Edwards pick tells us. But how much does it help the Kerry ticket come fall?

A formidable opponent during this past winter’s primaries and the best campaigner currently in this tussle, Edwards helps unify the Democrats the way the reformed ugliness between Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan cracked the whip for republicans in 1980. The fact is the Kerry campaign is a rudderless ship with no policy direction and little momentum. There has been an air of stagnation around his people for months, and as the roll out of Edwards clearly displays, the Kerry people will milk its energy for all its worth to co-opt the strong Edwards rhetoric of “us vs. them” used effectively as “The Tale of Two Americas”; a postulate of the rich, powerful war-mongers taking advantage of the rest of us regular suckers during the North Carolina senator’s primary run.

It’s more of the same tired crap, but now at least it comes from a decent communicator, one who isn’t chipper over merely NOT being George Bush.

Edwards, unlike Kerry, is a dynamic personality and a self-made millionaire. As an enormously successful trial attorney, he possesses the gift of communicating difficult concepts, couching emotion in scintillating terms, and putting on the kind of show the Dems expected from a Bill Clinton – in other words, a master bullshitter.

Edwards, unlike Kerry, is a dynamic personality and a self-made millionaire. As an enormously successful trial attorney, he possesses the gift of communicating difficult concepts, couching emotion in scintillating terms, and putting on the kind of show the Dems expected from a Bill Clinton – in other words, a master bullshitter. The Dems will doubtless continue to espouse gloom and doom, something Kerry is frighteningly adhered to since his shocking victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, but without so much the sour edge. Edwards exudes the innate ability to tell you bad news with a radiant demeanor and attack like a rabid pit bull as the sunshine kid.

Sound enough reasons for the Edwards selection.

However, the bold move for Kerry would have been John McCain. He tried that bizarre route of crossing parties to put the hammer down on a wounded incumbent and came up snake eyes. So you can’t fault him for trying to rock the Kasbah, but it does leave the door open for McCain to be lured to the post on the opposite side of the voting ledger.

More on that later.

Then there was the traditional elder statesman pick of the party, Bob Graham. Silver-haired experience for the green national candidate with a summer lead helped George Bush four years ago. His pick of Dick Chaney was wildly popular within the GOP and somewhat allayed the fears of an electorate assured of his inability to envision a global view. What terrible irony that turned out to be.

Of course this space has long maintained that Dick Gephardt was the smartest choice. A Missouri man with strong ties to union bosses and an insider approach to hitting the most vulnerable swing-states this fall, Gephardt would have helped secure the biggest electoral votes up for grabs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc. Edwards helps only in distracting the Bush camp in the south. He never showed a pulse up there during any primary.

So what of the chance that John McCain would step in for Dick Chaney come September? A distinct possibility if these poll numbers continue to level out or even plummet for Bush. By convention time the GOP will be so up in arms the president will have no choice but to woo his old punching bag back into the ring for a little of the two-step. And if McCain should nibble – and I’m told this is nuts and he wouldn’t take this bait if it reeked of infinite power – Kerry would not win.

Underestimating John McCain’s appeal to the all-important Independent voter base was nearly a fatal mistake for G.W. in 2000, one the Dem power base knows all too well.

Now before you’re too quick to dismiss this madness, it’s important to remember the kind of desperation the most powerful gig in the known universe slipping through one’s fingers has on a man. From what I could gather within the Beltway two weeks ago, this is more than rumor and could begin to gain momentum once the lead bulges to double-digits.

But back on planet Kerry, Edwards is the logically safe choice when considering two things; Kerry’s solid, if not curious standing in the national polls and the need to galvanize the Democratic and Independent electorate. Unless you’re a complete idiot like Sean Hannity, you must admit there is a definite groundswell against the president, and if people actually turn out this time it is always bad business for the incumbent, unless that guy’s name is Ronald Reagan, and they finally buried that unsinkable loon a few weeks back.

Finally, the power and influence of the Edwards pick can be seen in the vicious first salvos thrown by the Republicans within minutes of the announcement. As they stumble over themselves painting the man as a greedy, slick, liberal, ambulance-chaser the numbers climb and time is short.

Meanwhile, with four and one half months to go two men stand in the way of total victory either way in what threatens to be a death match to the end; John McCain and Ralph Nader.

Don’t think for one minute Nader’s comments on wanting to see Edwards as the pick was any coincidence he is the pick. Right now everyone, and I do mean everyone in the Democratic Party feels without Nader mucking up the works it is all but over, and Nader knows it too, which is why he’ll stay in this thing until the last minute for a power play, no matter what craziness he tells his people in weaker moments.

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Saudi Revolution

Aquarian Weekly 6/30/04 REALITY CHECK


Crown Prince AbdullahMake no mistake about this; there is a full-scale revolution breaking in Saudi Arabia right now. This is beyond terrorism or the usual random acts of violence seen around the Middle East, like what is currently become daily routine in Iraq or a right-of-passage hobby in Israel. This is revolution, like what transpired here and in France during the latter stages of the 18th century or in Cuba, Viet Nam and Iran in the late 20th century. And that’s how this government, or any restructured version this November, must understand it and eventually deal with it.

However, unlike the revolutions noted above the Saudi Muslim extremist movement, fragmented and haphazard as it is, has no competent central leadership nor does it have a fucking clue how to unseat a government. It is, they are, all over the map. Beheading foreign transients, assassinating negotiators and blowing up jeeps are all well and good, but where is the government installations or media outlets, the embassy attacks or anything that could signify a true threat to the Saudi monarchy? Granted, it is a weak and silly attempt at revolution, but it is revolution nonetheless.

The plan, for whatever it’s worth, currently revolves around scaring the shit out of American engineers and ambassadors to expunge the 30,000 or so U.S. citizens from Saudi Arabia to weaken its economy and crack the back of its government. Things have not changed in 50 years. Without U.S. and European engineers and scientists the Saudi production of oil – its only export worth a damn – would likely sputter and implode. So it’s a descent plan, and one that’s been enacted by other successful revolutions, however it will not be enough.

You see, unlike Cuba or even Viet Nam the U.S. government, one either run by G.W. Bush or John Kerry will not allow a band of Arab pirates to run amok in Saudi Arabia. This is why on his current book tour Bill Clinton has been praising the Bush administration’s doctrine in Iraq and Junior gushed about “the great Bill Clinton” last week during the unveiling of a portrait at the White House.

Regardless of partisan politics the U.S. government is in deep with Saudi Arabia. Is there anyone left in this electorate who fails to realize why we liberated Kuwait a decade ago and our troops are presently still in Iraq? To secure Saudi Arabia, chief. You think there’s any coincidence the Saudi ambassador knew about the invasion of Iraq before the Secretary of State, who was asked to sell this badly staged magic show to the U.N.? It’s also why the U.S. Army will be asked to defend the Saudi monarchy eventually.

This is a mistake. It is painfully obvious we have backed the wrong horse on this. Let the Saudi’s crumble. It’s time the American people are made aware of the monsters running the Saudi regime and its two-faced policies of making billions on American ingenuity and a U.S. dependence on oil while also sucking up to entrenched traditions of hating Western infidels and filling school curriculums with murderous religious fanaticism. The time has come for these rapacious phonies to be shown the guillotine. If we’re really into freeing the world, let’s start with Saudi Arabia.

For those uninitiated in foreign policy, this is called an End Around. That’s how you beat terrorism; join ’em, or more to the point, let them join us.

Now of course I’m not saying we forget 9/11 and hand the store over to radical loons, but what’s the point of continuously fighting a cadre of fifty different powerless psycho groups wearing masks and skulking in caves and living on the tenets of ancient religious mumbo jumbo? This has doomed other major sovereignties like Rome, Russia, etc. It’s high time we let these cretins run the desert. If it’s their turn to topple the monarchies over there, so be it. Why should we stand in the way? Because we’re afraid these anarchists will blow up the oil reserves and build some kind of religious commune worthy of the Essences and screw the rest of the world?


Whoever takes control in Saudi Arabia today or tomorrow will deal with America, because when it comes to oil consumption, it is the 400-pound gorilla, and they have to deal with us.

We have to stop painting these terrorists as invincible sub-creatures fueled merely by hatreds of freedom and Western customs and begin to realize they’re no different from us. They’re weak and stupid and buy into all sorts of hokey bullshit. They crave money, power, clean laundry, and sex. They’re not mindless brutish aliens hell bent on wiping out the evils of corporate American greed to bring the Arab world back to 12th century customs. They’re cash-hungry power-mad humans, with all the same jealousies and temptations as every other asshole that has fist-fucked this planet for a slice of the pie.

You can bet the ranch the second these shit-stains take charge they’ll be dealing oil to us like the current pack of thugs. We barely understand the names, so what’s the difference what Sheik is selling us the oil? We might even get it cheaper if OPEC goes under. I’m all for that.

Remember the Russian revolution? Remember how Socialist tenets would rule post-war Europe and eventually the globe? There was going to be equality of economic status across the land. Kings will be defunct. Right. Then Stalin booted the socialists out and started the Soviet dictatorship run under the guise of Communism. He beat Hitler so he could become Hitler. And in a sense we helped him.

There’s been a lot of nonsense reasoning reborn with Reagan’s death that America somehow ended Communism in Europe, except the truth is Communism died like all “isms” die, when there’s no money in it.

The popular wisdom to protect oil trade by keeping it from the hands of lunatic factions erupting in Saudi Arabia is wrong. This is because the popular wisdom chooses to believe the creed of criminals wanting to destroy oil production and cripple the United States, instead of realizing that in the history of human experience no people have turned their backs on making a buck. Whoever takes control in Saudi Arabia today or tomorrow will deal with America, because when it comes to oil consumption, it is the 400-pound gorilla, and they have to deal with us.

We’ve been looking at this the wrong way because your leaders are old-school punks who’ve been running around the world imposing an atavistic will on peoples they consider inferior or somehow inhuman. This has gotten us into all sorts of trouble. And I fear John Kerry, if he ever says anything binding besides, “I’m not George Bush” will slip right in and perpetuate the same tiresome dogma. Name one administration, Republican or Democrat that hasn’t.

You can’t.

Of course if you’ve read this space for any length of time you know we consider Osama bin Laden a corpse. But let’s just say for the sake of this argument that he’s still alive. Let him – or any other phony revolutionary lout for that matter – take Saudi Arabia back for Allah or whatever ridiculous con he’s pitching his minions. Allow him to take power and succumb to the big spender in the oil market. Then we’ll buy his oil like the gluttonous goons we are, and soon after, one of the poor saps who bought into his “rebel with a cause” routine will be appalled at the sacrilegious impertinence of dealing with the western devils and put a bullet in his head.

Mission accomplished.

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Sarah Jones is The Real Deal

Aquarian Weekly 6/23/04 REALITY CHECK


“We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.”

– Abigail Adams

“I have a dream of a new American language.” – Dan Bern

Sarah JonesSarah Jones is the perfect physical satirist, a walking, talking vessel of effusive commentary, using every inch of her body, every tone of her cadence, every syllable of her language, and every move of her appendages to skewer our most taboo subjects. Her form, her face, her very spirit are the tools of her compelling prose and poetry. The medium is indeed the message for Jones, the shake of a hand, the twitch of an eye, the subtly of her focus gracefully befitting her considerable imagination. Yet the afterglow of her message also resonates like a piercing megaphone; an enviable virtuosity of several crafts that turns Jones’ one woman show, “Bridge & Tunnel” – currently playing at the cozy Bleecker Street Theater – into a symphonic masterpiece.

The show is framed beautifully as a fictional poetry group comprised of the most diverse cultural amalgam possible, allowing the pliable Jones to unload a cadre of New York’s most potent characters from the painfully amiable Pakistani host of “I.A.M.A.P.O.E.T.T.O.O.” to its vibrantly portrayed contributors including a loquacious Vietnamese slam-champ, an elderly yenta, a coldly pedantic Australian nihilist, a nostalgically melancholic Mexican paraplegic, et al. Through them Jones hits every note in the range of human emotion without a hint of maudlin shtick.

First and foremost, Sarah Jones is an exceptional wordsmith. Each character in “Bridge & Tunnel” brims with the narrative structure of a sharply manicured short story or a well-crafted essay. Their monologues, initially seeming almost incoherent, begin to slowly take cogent shape, leading us on a journey, some uncomfortable, others heart-warming, but every one recognizably haunting. As a playwright, not just a scribbler creating a vehicle for her immense thespian talents, Jones displays the type of rare promise in “Bridge & Tunnel” which launches a future prominent voice in modern American theater, one not seen in nearly half a century.

As a playwright, not just a scribbler creating a vehicle for her immense thespian talents, Jones displays the type of rare promise in “Bridge & Tunnel” which launches a future prominent voice in modern American theater, one not seen in nearly half a century.

Jones has been fittingly compared to Lenny Bruce, Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg and Richard Pryor in her ability to entertain and provoke, educate and vilify, but after witnessing nearly two hours of 14 characters from every angle of the American social lexicon one denotes more than a hint of Twain or Voltaire.

But unlike many of the underground artsy projects found in the bowels of Greenwich Village, “Bridge & Tunnel” does not pound home metaphor and imagery with the indelicacy of a sledgehammer. Instead Jones’ work, and the provocative presentation of it, sneaks and peeks, draws you into disturbing portraits, peculiar viewpoints, and endearing insights. Sometimes these themes and emotions come together simultaneously, culling various responses from an audience unsure whether to laugh or cry.

Assuredly, during the late-spring Saturday afternoon matinee I attended, there was plenty of cheering. However, it was hard to tell if it was delight or the usual aplomb afforded the “new big thing”. Since its launch earlier this year, “Bridge & Tunnel” has had quite a run and Jones is hot now, and getting hotter. The show and her one-woman, all-encompassing contribution to it has received rave reviews and earned a full segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show. That’s about when I started paying attention to Jones’ work, after several repeated e-mails and calls from colleagues.

At 29-years old, Jones is already a performance artist of impeccable comedic and dramatic timing and an actor of considerable range with a voice of social eloquence. Many far more equipped to comment on the genre brand her a “can’t-miss” talent bound for film and celebrity. But for me, there is something deeper here than just a rising star; for starters a strong African-American woman’s voice, smart and fair in its observations. Both overtly political and wholly human, “Bridge & Tunnel” does not speak blithely for a cause beyond compassion and humor. It is merely an extension of its author, brash, yet enticing, hard, yet endearing. This is why Sarah Jones is unique in this splash world of hyperbolic nonsense.

This is why I believe she will be a significant generational siren, a cool customer in polarized political times amidst an increasingly mounting nation of divergent cultures.

Sitting through “Bridge & Tunnel” and its obvious messages of tolerance and understanding beyond just race, but gender, generation, ideology, religious and social custom, I was seduced by the distinct idea that I was not merely watching a consummate professional spark through sleek numbers and dead-on characterizations, which they most certainly are, but witnessing the maturation of a deft author more than capable of drawing true emotions with her words, not stabbing you with calculated tear-inducing, contemplative tricks.

In other words, Sarah Jones is the real deal. “Bridge & Tunnel” is reflective of that. Everyone should see it, if for nothing else, but to get a rare glimpse of the power of the written word exposed to the elements of pure expression.

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D-Day 60 Years Hence

Aquarian Weekly 6/7/04 REALITY CHECK


“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

– Thomas Paine

D-Day RememberedSixty years ago this week the future of Europe and the map of the entire globe was up for grabs. The once unstoppable German Blitzkrieg, which had ripped through Europe like a hacksaw of death and destruction for close to a decade, was finally backtracking against heavy advances from rabid Soviet troops and desert and airborne skirmishes with Britain. The United States contributions to the Allied effort were considerable, (the invasion of Italy and the swift rash of victories thereafter) but not wholly definitive. The word had cut through the US military intelligence that a bold maneuver was needed for American troops to continue to split its attention on a two-front war with Germany in Europe and the Asian theater against the Empire of Japan.

Then came June 6, 1944, forever known as D-Day, when the most ambitious amphibious battle operation in human history turned the World War II effort on its head. Within hours of Operation Overlord’s incredible commencement, the most significant historical day of the 20th century would turn its second half into the American Century. The American soldier, made up of its poor, huddled masses gained a foothold on Nazi occupied territory and within three months Paris was secure and Berlin was all but doomed.

In the annals of this war-torn mess we call civilization, there has never been a more signature few hours than these.


Volumes of books and historical documents cover the details. No point here, only to recall the incredible cunning and immeasurable bravery of the men and women who carried this ridiculously ballsy move out. Now, 60 years later, it is easy to view it as merely heroic, or even strategic as if it makes sense on a map with blue and red lines and tiny figures moving across the terrain of Europe.

But what we discuss here is the almost otherworldly triumph, an angelic form of man against man, the painful realities of Cain and Abel and a mutant fury burning in the hearts of humanity set forth to settle the billion dollar industry of nations. The extraordinary sacrifice of youth laid out by many of the combatants who were scarcely of the age to vote or drink or settle a score in the court of law. Many were barely literate and knew little about the political machinations of hoary leaders or lunatic con men swept up by genocidal madness.

The history of the civilized world shoved into order in one bold stroke. Carried out by less than ordinary people cracking the foundation of infinity. Citizens of these United States who were unable to sit in a café or ride in the front of a bus or enter the confines of a country club or stand at a water fountain or use a public restroom or live in 80% of the neighborhoods that made up the land they represented, pushing up a beachhead of hellish firepower 3,500 miles away. This is D-Day.

The numbers, when digested through the veil of time are staggering.

The largest armada ever assembled, including 5,000 ships, 11,000 aircraft, carrying approximately 154,000 British, Canadian and American soldiers, including 23,000 arriving by parachute and glider. Three thousand of them would not see a June 7.

One day.

The Longest Day.


Handing over a life unspent for the restructuring of a map, for the survival of an ideology, a union, a race, and for the booming economy of countless generations.

Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower became a legend in those few excruciating hours. His cause was great, his guts unquestioned, and his scheme, masterminded over two years with Britain’s finest, a bold and tactical masterpiece. He was its architect. D-Day earned him many citations and statues, and soon after, the presidency. Eisenhower would later tell many of his biographers that even he was nothing more than a soldier among many that day, in fact, hardly a participant of utmost importance.

That kind of description would be saved for G.I. Joe; grocers and ditch diggers, mechanics and salesman, bus boys and couriers, drifters and union men by the score; the common man making an uncommon contribution to the future of the planet. Fathers and brothers and husbands and sons, daughters and mothers, thousands of them, boarding destiny, handing over their sunsets and ballgames and the sweet affection of their lovers for the infinite void of death. Handing over a life unspent for the restructuring of a map, for the survival of an ideology, a union, a race, and for the booming economy of countless generations.

The people who defeated the Master Race were its greatest ideological enemy; the Kikes, Hebes, Niggers, Wops, Mics, Gooks, the proposed drek of the American underbelly saving the free world for the privileged once more. Hitler’s Mud People ending the Thousand Year Reich in a few weeks.

All this talk of war lately has garnered the well-worn notion that World War II was the last “just” war or that its generation of soldier was “the greatest”, that somehow what is happening abroad right now or what transpired in Korea or Viet Nam or Grenada or Bosnia fall under the neat category of military police actions. Not so for the common man, or woman.

They have to fend for the plight of the world politic.

Right or wrong.

Again and again.

Always have.


For 60 years you have known someone who knows someone who was a part of it. Everything before it and after it meant something different because of it.

The soul’s torment marches on.

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Aquarian Weekly 6/2/04 REALITY CHECK


John KerryThe following is the continuation of a conversation conducted over the phone on 5/18 between the author and this space’s most reliably inscrutable Republican snitch Georgetown.

james campion: Okay, now let’s get back to this presidential campaign. How much money will Bush have to fight?

Georgetown: I don’t know. Could he have $100 million by July or August? Sure. It won’t matter. Nothing matters now but Iraq. He brought this upon himself. It means everything. It’s a referendum on this administration. It’s a fucking shame.

jc: But Kerry cannot compete financially.

GT: What? He’s loaded. His wife is an international bank. He’s fine. Her money saved him in Iowa. It makes no sense that he’s trying to circumvent the campaign finance rules by holding off his nomination at the convention. It’s stupid politics too. He’ll get a bump out of that thing if it goes as a news story and the networks carry it. If it’s a political rally in Boston, he won’t get nearly the coverage and no bump. He’s taking bad advice. He needs a “Good-Time Hour” attack. This is what those things are now. He needs to show a warmer side on a larger stage. His people know it, but they’re obsessed with money over there. It’s bullshit politics.

jc: This election as of right now, as all incumbent presidential campaigns, is about the president. But eventually Kerry has to stand for something other than “I’m not Bush.”

GT: I’m not so sure, but okay.

jc: Historically Kerry is a better one-on-one campaigner than he is on a larger scale stump. I’m hearing his inability to conduct a massive national campaign will compromise his efforts, so he needs to stay close until the debates. Kerry’s twice the debater Gore was and despite a horribly boring performance from Gore in 2000 and a distinct rally from Bush on the debate front, everyone knows the president’s ability to extemporize in these settings is awful. Kerry has to stay close enough to pummel him in the debates, or it’s a crapshoot, despite the Iraq results.

GT: Fair points, but I would say, above all, if Bush doesn’t raise his approval ratings above 50% by Labor Day this will be a dogfight and that does not bode well for a mediocre campaigner like Bush. He had the advantage of playing from in front and outside the fray in 2000.

jc: Where he earned the apt nickname, Captain Shoe-in.

GT: It’s the exact opposite now. No one, despite what they tell you from Karl Rove on down has a fucking clue how the president will respond. He’s surprised everyone before. It looks like he’ll have to do it again.

jc: Let’s nail down the battleground states. For the sake of this discussion I see 18 currently. Listing in alphabetical order, they are; Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Take me through them from a White House/GOP perspective.

GT: I hate doing this in May. See me in August. jc: Never mind. This is about when Gore screwed up in 2000 and Bush sr. started to slide in 1992. They both waited too long.

GT: Clinton won in August of ’92 when Perot dropped out. Gore never competed. Never.

jc: Granted, but Bush could have crushed Clinton that summer. He did not respect the campaign. This Bush does. He just completed a tour of Ohio, Missouri and Michigan. And I see Kerry has dumped a ton of TV money into Colorado. He’s been in the Midwest for weeks. It’s go time. Talk to me.

“It’s as simple as this; Kerry leads or is in the ballpark in these Midwest states. If that is the case this fall, he will be president with or without Florida.

GT: For the sake of argument, and it’s very early, mind you, I see Arizona as more of a done deal for the White House. I think the Kerry people were banking too much on how much McCain hates Bush, and make no mistake, he has not forgiven him for South Carolina, but Arizona is not a battleground state. The White House will carry it.

jc: Are you talking about all that pro choice stuff during the 2000 primary after McCain took New Hampshire?

GT: All the stuff. I know people who as recently as Easter have it solid that McCain would not mind seeing Bush crash and burn on a personal level, although I give McCain a ton of credit. He’s never been interested in bettering his career by playing statistical politics. I know one thing; he despises Kerry’s Viet Nam flip-flops more than his grudge with Bush. So it’s a toss up on a personal basis, but it doesn’t matter. I see McCain as a key ally in Arizona, and maybe the whole campaign itself. Believe me, that’s why we have Campaign Finance laws now. The Bush people saw this coming. They appeased McCain for Arizona. It’s going Republican in November.

jc: So they’ll use McCain to circumvent Kerry’s heroic soldier stance.

GT: You bet your ass.

jc: Forget New Hampshire. Kerry is not losing New Hampshire. And Missouri is solid Democrat if Gephardt is the VP nominee. I would say Michigan is also in jeopardy of going Democrat as a result.

GT: Conceivably. I’d count on Missouri, but not Michigan per se. We’re really worried about Ohio. You’re talking a miniscule Bush victory in 2000 there and they’re a bankrupt state with thousands of lost jobs. Bush shouldn’t waste any money in Ohio. He’s done there. Michigan is a toss up with Gephardt or not.

jc: It’s always a toss up.

GT: The most unpredictable national election state ever.

jc: Scale of one to ten, ten being a solid yes, where does the White House stand on Florida right now?

GT: I’m going to say five for you right now, but my gut feeling is more toward seven or eight in November. Do not underestimate the Bush political machine down there. Is the governor working it? Yes.

jc: I think Ohio, Michigan and Missouri, not Florida, will carry the day in November.

GT: It’s as simple as this; Kerry leads or is in the ballpark in these Midwest states. If that is the case this fall, he will be president with or without Florida. If Bush wins Florida, but loses those two or three of those states he’s toast. I don’t think the White House thinks Florida is a concern this time around, and I’d have to agree.

jc: How are the Bush people seeing this campaign, as an aggressive fight or a stabilizing force. In other words…

GT: In other words do they see it as a rabid defense of the prize or a strong hold against a wild card candidate?

jc: Right.

GT: I think they’ll start off stabilizing the fight. They already have. They’ll paint Kerry every which way to Sunday as a loose canon, but eventually these guys have to get down and dirty with Kerry and bring out the anti-liberal guns, or they will not win. You see I don’t view this campaign as “too close to call”. This is Kerry’s to lose now. I think the president has to get ugly soon. Bring the fear. Fear will keep Bush in work. Fear of the unknown is the best medicine. Saved Johnson in ’64 and Truman in ’48. Poll the fear factor. Then you’ll see competent results.

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2004 Election Rumor Mill

Aquarian Weekly 5/26/04 REALITY CHECK


Bye-Bye Already?Even the most optimistic Republican shill has to admit the past 30 days of the Bush presidency has been less than peachy. Frankly, it’s hemorrhaging from every possible orifice, strangely akin to Sonny Corleone at the tollbooth, for those hooked on pop culture imagery. Whatever your paradigm, the last two weeks have arguably been the worst a president has endured since Nixon’s final legs. Between the rising death toll in Iraq, pornographic images peddled by the Pentagon and the useless Central Intelligence Agency, these ridiculous gas hikes, the new stock market doom speak, and the 9/11 commission follies, Karl Rove is suddenly the Dutch boy with his finger in the dam.

The worst of it has come from, of all places, conservative circles. Not surprising, when you consider it was about this time 12 years ago Papa Bush began hearing the kind of rumblings from the far right he could not survive. The prevailing thought in Washington now is neither will Junior.

It launched about a month ago when George Will began chinking at the weakened Bush armor with strong comments about “accountability” in print and then on national television. Followed by our friend Tucker Carlson, who has defended everything from Captain Shoe-In’s drunk driving charge to the insanity of that Medicare Bill charade. Now he’s “appalled” at the handling of Iraq. Not to mention the constant jabbing the Bush people get from the always-growling Pat Buchanan, who has taken it upon himself to paint the current GOP power base and its golden boy as neo-liberals with the mentality of world police and big spenders.

But although all are solid conservative voices of some repute, and Buchanan a frequent reader and contributor to this space, there is only one man in times of crisis that the Reality Check New & Information Desk turns to for the inside scoop on all things elephant, our anonymous snitch hero, Georgetown.

The following two-part discussion was taped during a rushed, but rather lengthy session following political weasel, Dick Morris’ appearance on CNN’s “Inside Politics”, wherein the backstabbing shit heel was hawking a tell-all Clinton book and waxing poetic about the president signing a bill rescinding gas taxes to force John Kerry’s hand.

jc: Normally I think Dick Morris a jabbering psychopath, but he began to make sense to me right there.

Georgetown: Morris is a pimp. I read the gallies of that book of his. I heard he was going to prove Hillary was queer, and what do we get? Scenes of Clinton weeping after the Grand Jury testimony? Who even cares about that shit anymore? He’s lost. What Bush should do is appeal to congress to draft a bill to drill in Alaska and end this madness.

jc: No incumbent president has ever survived less than 50% approval ratings. Bush is at 42% currently. This is about the place in the game when the sheen wore off on his father after the Gulf War.

“Bush is in deep trouble. No doubt about that. But who is going to take advantage of it? Nader? Because he’s the only anti-war candidate. Has anyone on the left listened to Kerry lately?”

GT: Bush is in deep trouble. No doubt about that. But who is going to take advantage of it? Nader? Because he’s the only anti-war candidate. Has anyone on the left listened to Kerry lately? I know the White House has spent some $60 million painting him as some kind of Dukakis waffler, but the fact is Kerry supported this war, and still says he will see it through. He has no plan for the economy, which, by the way has been steadily rising for months. So it’s important to point out that in the end independents have to see a clear distinction between the candidates, and I don’t see one yet.

jc: But you admit Bush is reeling.

GT: He’s looking more and more like a caretaker president.

jc: One and out?

GT: Unless things change, fast.

jc: Historically incumbents lose, new guys don’t win, except for Truman/Dewey. But there doesn’t seem to be too much hope Bush will galvanize the electorate unless they catch bin Laden, who has been dead for over three years, win this war in a couple of months, which will take annihilation techniques that will turn the country’s collective stomach, or these positive economy figures somehow translate into jobs for the mid-west.

GT: Nice breakdown, but here’s the deal. Bush has looked about as confused and dead politically as a man can be, and where is Kerry in these polls? Tied, if ahead at all?

jc: National polls mean nothing. It is like that whole flaccid argument about the popular vote. The presidency is won with an electorate total from states. Who cares if two thousand people in California are polled about Bush or Kerry? Can Kerry make dents in the battleground states? Can Bush fend off enough of the counter momentum that should have cost him the 2000 race to solidify Ohio or Missouri or Florida? And how much worse can Kerry be in the long run compared to Gore, who was a god-awful campaigner?

GT: Granted, but there are way too many variables now and too many weeks to go. After the 6/30 deadline for transference of power in Iraq, where will Bush be then?

jc: Let’s get back to the campaign in a minute. I have to ask you about these conservative pundits slamming Bush lately.

GT: Don’t worry about that. It’s a ploy.

jc: A ploy?

GT: Bush is insulated now. Conservatives never liked this guy. The same way liberals really feel about Kerry. But they’ll suck it up, like we sucked it up to kick the Clinton/Gore ego machine out of office. But now that there’s too many holes in the hull, guys like Carlson and Will want Bush to stand up and be bold, because they see the writing on the wall. Bush is too steadfast about hanging onto losers like Tenent and Rumsfeld, even Cheney, who no one in the party with any money or clout wants on the 2004 ticket. These guys want Bush to jettison the dead wood. They have the ball and chain tied to them. They stink of defeat. Bad publicity and public perception has held Bush’s hand. He says he’ll go down fighting with these guys, but the party can’t think like that. They let a loose cannon lifer like Kerry run things for six months there will be a neutered congress and we’ll all be fucked. It is exactly like the Gingrich revolution in ’94. This government will shut down. You want that, son?

jc: Have you heard the Tom Ridge for VP rumor?

GT: It’s more than a rumor, but Bush is steadfast. This perception of Cheney running things before and after Iraq is 90% on the money. Personally, I don’t think the boy can function without Cheney, and that’s not good for this ticket.

jc: So these conservative voices are putting the scare into the Bush campaign, not technically the administration?

GT: If things had gone better in Iraq, there would be no point. Again, as you say, Kerry can’t win this without Bush losing it. It’s a two-fold approach for the conservative wing. There’s a great deal of people whose voices have been left out of this administration. Many of them made this thing happen. How much money and lawyers do you think it took to secure Florida? How many mid-western church affiliates, Catholic right-to-life groups held off McCain? It’s time this guy realizes who put him where he is. Dick Cheney? Donald Rumsfeld? These guys are dinosaurs. They have no political muscle anymore. They will doom this re-election run.

jc: But don’t they represent the oil men? Where would the whole Bush thing be without these people? It’s why he’s gambled his entire presidency on Iraq. Doesn’t he owe more to them?

GT: Yes, and now it’s one of those things. It’s yours and you don’t know how it happened. Fight communism one minute and you end up with Korea or Viet Nam or the Bay of Pigs. Fight terrorism and you end up like Britain with all the perks of having to liberate and occupy a people who hate you. There has always been this grandiose underestimation of how much the rest of the world despises the U.S. Oh, they’ll buy our products and gain from our scientific and medical discoveries, enjoy our entertainment and luxuries as retail, and they’ll come running if they need military or financial assistance, but in the end, ideologically, in every envious adjective you could muster, they despise us. No president, from Jefferson on, understood that. This one especially.

Next Week Part II

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Patty Griffin at Town Hall


East Coast Rocker 5/19/04


Patty GriffinNew York City

A rich texture of melody and rhythms chugged and slinked from the versatile four-to-five piece band supporting the soulful country-blues silk of Patty Griffin’s songs during a nearly two-hour performance that raised the historic rafters of Town Hall. The cozy venue normally reserved for opera and classical ensembles soared with energy from the sold-out crowd throughout, turning an intimate evening with one of America’s finest singer-songwriters into an electrifying revival.

Grinning shyly beneath a wild crimson mane, the delightfully engaging Griffin chatted with the audience, sharing the stories behind her most moving compositions, while deftly jumping from acoustic guitar, piano and lead-singer stances that recalled a youthful Janis Joplin.

Griffin mostly concentrated on the striking new material from her latest collection, Impossible Dream, the highlights of which included the whimsical optimism, of “Kite Song” to the gospel-tinged, “Standing”, to the baleful siren, “Love Throw a Line” to the chilling “Mother of God”. She also offered up old favorites like the sweet melancholia of “Rain”, the Muscle Shoals reverberation of “Chief” and a playful rendition of “Be Careful”, during which a giggling Griffin forgot some of the lyrics on two different occasions and sought the eager assistance of the packed house.

“This is a rare momentary lapse,” she chuckled beneath a telling whisper. “And these are the moments that make a night like this pretty special.”

But finally, it was Griffin’s angelic pipes which were in finest form on this night, as she wailed and crooned and bellowed to the rafters in a magnificently pitched performance worthy of her recorded work. A musical storyteller of exquisite range and emotion, Griffin thrives on the energy of a concert setting, providing a naked glimpse into the soul of her craft and a window into her limitless potential to describe the view.

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Blaming Rumsfeld 101

Aquarian Weekly 5/19/04 REALITY CHECK

MAN OVERBOARD The Bogusly Self-Righteous Flogging Of Master Rumsfeld

Master RummyThe outrageous glut of evidence coming from the government’s recent censorship of media coverage of flag-draped caskets arriving at air force bases and the ridiculous furor over these “prisoner abuse” photos can lead anyone to assume the American people are woefully unaware of the casualty and operation of war. So, for those humble neophytes, I offer the following:

This war thing everyone was so hepped about? This vengeance jag we’ve all been on since 9/11/01? It’s ugly, petty, brutal and horrid. You don’t get to be squeamish and moral all of a sudden.

War is hell. Ever hear that one? It’s a popular axiom among those who’ve been there/done that. Young kids die senselessly during it. And people conducting these things don’t have the screws tightened onto the old noggin too well. This is why we hire them. Clear thinking, compassionate types make bad war contributions. Moreover, there are a plethora of sadistic freaks who head these things, on all sides. Animalistic torture, sickening reams of propaganda, and the killing of innocents is part of the deal. What did you think was going on here, table tennis?

Take this crazy American contractor roaming around Iraq trying to rebuild infrastructure. He didn’t get it. Now he is beheaded on video. It’s like that poor, misguided fool Pat Tillman. He wanted to be John Wayne. Now he is the poster-boy for ideological suicide.

And before you start sending me your hateful missives about my insensitivity toward these victims of war, I consider them fellow humans and therefore brothers, and if my biological brother came to me and said he was leaving $3.5 million at the tender age of 25 to go off to the desert and get shot at or planned on roaming around Iraq looking for work I would have advised him otherwise. And those who disagree are just not being honest.

But back to the “prisoner abuse” thing.

I cannot believe for one moment that anyone over the age of 10 would be shocked that this country would be fighting any other kind of war? We’re so different? We’re above it? Do you know whose running this thing? Hawks. Warmongers. Oil Men. Corporate land-rapers. When this inarticulate goober of a president stands on his sloping green lawn and has the gall to utter that these tactics do not represent the American spirit, it is so patently false you expect the sky to collapse on his head like some bad cartoon.

This country’s military record of death, destruction, rape and pillaging is legendary. How do you think we got so rich and powerful? Good business acumen? God on our side? Yes, the tooth fairy and Uncle Sam had a baby and called it Liberty. OR maybe it was free land grabs, free slave labor, systematic economic backstabbing, not-so-secret assassinations, and an incredible roll call of CIA global crimes. Ripping off France, Spain, Mexico and anyone else minding the Manifest Destiny store put us in the catbird seat, sonny.

The spirit that sicked those Dobermans on that naked Iraqi grabbing his balls on the front page of every newspaper this week is the same one that slaughtered Native-Americans, torched Atlanta, firebombed Dresden, locked up American citizens of Japanese lineage, murdered women and children in My-Lai, and on and on and on.

Fact is peasant terrorists liberated this country by reeking guerilla warfare havoc on an imperialistic empire. Sound familiar?

I understand its human nature to eat a nice, fat, juicy steak and not wonder how it got there, or slip on those Nike’s and not consider what sweat shop made them. We’re here because horrible thugs with guns put us here. I’m a pacifist and I’m willing to admit it. Do it. It takes the edge off.

Letting our children be murdered while playing Peace Corps police force is a crime of unconscionable depths and should be rectified immediately.

Good. Now doesn’t this fuss over prison abuse ring as hollow as someone complaining about the rain during the Battle of Gettysburg?

And what can you say about the enemy, fanatic religious thugs running around with hoods and sub-machine guns? Five thousand years of violence in the name of Allah bankrolled by oil funds from the west. Starving Bengal tigers are too good for these monsters.

Just a few weeks ago the U.S. Army massacred hundreds of innocents in Fallujah. Not a peep. We get a few porn images that don’t look any worse than some of the shit I did in college, and we’re closing down shop? This is the same logic behind polls that have two-thirds of Americans judging George W. Bush a lying incompetent, but the clear choice for re-election.

So now in steps the embattled Secretary of Defense, of whom I wrote in the 3/6/02 issue of this magazine, “I think it’s important to point out that Donald Rumsfeld has gone insane. His Meet the Press, 2/24/02 appearance frightened me in ways that is hard to discern at the moment, but suffice it to suggest that he is clinically mad and currently has the power of two Caesars and Benito Mussolini thrown in for good measure.”

I went on to point out that to consider an invasion of Iraq, although not a terrible idea, must be run by a maniac to succeed. Loose cannons win wars. History is littered silly with their collective shadow. But although I do not blame The Master of War for these so-dubbed atrocities, I do blame him for conducting a chaotic, non-delineated cluster fuck of a battle plan that has dragged on for 13 months too long.

The idea that the United States of America could take this long to secure a third world desert nation with no army, with the silent, if not tepid support of the Arab nations bordering it, and, what is it now? $50 billion or some gaudy number, and still be screwing around out there is an outrage. Letting our children be murdered while playing Peace Corps police force is a crime of unconscionable depths and should be rectified immediately.

But instead we get The Passion of The Master Donald Rumsfeld, because every White House scandal, like every religion needs a sacrificial lamb. Kennedy gutted the CIA after the Bay of Pigs, Nixon threw his entire staff, cabinet, and the cook to the wolves during the final days of Watergate, The Gipper nailed Ollie North to the political cross for Iran-Contra, and poor Vernon Jordan had a hell of a time during Clinton’s Oval Office Fuck Fest.

But what is this government doing to secure this country we currently inhabit? Forget prisoners being piled into orgy balls. That’s window dressing, like women on television getting massive plastic surgery to sell flat screens. It wouldn’t surprise me if this government’s war effort leaked those photos to blind us to the real problem here: This administration has lost its grip, assuming it ever had one, on this occupation. Why would anyone take the damn photos in the first place?

And if this whole thing turns out to be a CIA affair, coming clearer each day, then it should be George Tenent, and not Rumsfeld who should go. Tenet was so hot and heavy for this mess. I propose we get this murdering lout on the rack and pour hot led into his rectum for starters. See how he likes war now.

Either we secure this thing or risk total anarchy in Iraq and most of the region. Otherwise Israel is doomed, if it isn’t tumbling towards that point already. And even though Iran, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia likes to put on the stern Arab face for their terrorist brethren, they would be appalled and frightened and become ornery business partners if this thing falls apart.

Firing Rumsfeld in the middle of this is like firing a coach during the third quarter. It’s too late in the game for this. He’s not getting off that easy. This is his mess; he should clean it up. Send in a mass of troops and take out everything in sight or get the hell out, cross the fingers, batten down the hatches, and get out your plastic to pay five bucks a gallon.

This lunatic has five months to end this madness or he goes when we boot out his boss in November to try something else.

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Hangin’ With Dan Bern

Aquarian Weekly 5/5/04 REALITY CHECK

SPRINGTIME FOR BERNSTEINTwo Months, Two Novels, A Dozen Songs, and One Serious Bonfire

Moore and Bernstein First week of March Bernstein calls me from the road. “I’m in Oklahoma,” he says. “Buying porn and The Anarchist Weekly”. I was excited, but reticent. He called again, and again. Reports from the road: He’s writing a song, listening to talk radio, reading a story about work farms, eating a tuna fish sandwich and talking to me all at the same time. The phone died. He survived. I braced. It would not be sufficient enough time to prepare. Two months with Bernstein in NYC, both of us carrying our novels and healthy doses of grudge against the greater good.

He arrived in town a few days later. My friend Buzz and I saw him at a wine and soda joint down on Astor Place on a snowy Sunday night. He was dusty from the road. He pulled out his beat up old guitar and played some songs, real good songs; hearty, angry, funny songs. Then he broke a string, said goodnight, and walked off. I told Rita Houston from WFUV that Bernstein wrote a book. “Bernstein writes songs,” she said. I told her again. She shook her head and smiled. “Damn it!” I screamed at her. “Bernstein is a novelist! His songs are great, but this fucking thing was better. I hate his guts. I’m the writer!” She backed away, but I could tell I’d convinced her. Brandon Kessler from Messenger Records was there. He did not appear nervous. “I’m in the damn thing,” he said. “We’re all in the damn thing.”

It had been four long months of back and forth with Bernstein on his book, excerpts, rewrites, long nights of dialogue. I sent back notes. “This puppy moves. It has legs. I’m going to burn my manuscript and send the charred remains to my agent.” He wrote back on mine. “It’s good. It’s bizarre. I need more reality.” I wrote back, “Less dialogue!” He wrote back, “I don’t know what I’m doing!”

When I next visited Bernstein, he was whitewashing a room in an artsy hotel suite downtown. Throwing paint around the room while he repeated over and over, “I hate George Bush.” After awhile it began to sound like a child’s limerick. I asked him, “You hate the man or the method?” He said he feared the whole thing. Made him pick up his guitar and write about it. Made him come to New York to stay awhile and then off to San Francisco to see Barry Bonds shoot up and bang homers. He was going to sing about Jesus being a Jew and about how going to Mars beats living alone and how being president might be a kick.

“If you could pick anyone, whom would you want to be president?” Bernstein asked me at a coffee shop on Third Avenue.

“You run for president!” I shouted. The place froze with terror. They knew who he was. And they were pretty sure I wasn’t stable. I hadn’t tasted real coffee in awhile and I was sufficiently jacked on the caffeine.

Bernstein seemed pensive. He rolled a cigarette. I stared him down until he answered. Bernstein thought about my proposal and shook his head violently. “Not me,” he said. There was a collective sigh. “I’m here to write songs. I’m here to make noise. I’m here to put things right.”

He played me songs. Good songs, funny songs, serious fucking songs. He and my wife splattered paint all over the ceiling of the Saint Holy Armistice Suites in midtown Manhattan. I paced and talked about the new bohemian revolution, about how there isn’t one.

He wrote a song about it. “The President’s Song.” He penned a manifesto of change and common sense and humanist theories. I left him alone. He looked happy. I was worried about him, though. We needed to make a bonfire. Bernstein agreed, but kept on writing. He wasn’t ready. I didn’t think we would ever spark that bonfire.

My wife showed up the following week. I think it was late March, maybe early April. She brought Bernstein her portfolio of disturbing images. He loved it. “Let’s paint like we don’t care anymore,” he said to her at dinner. She smiled. My wife loves to create with no purpose. This is why I married her.

A woman from a publishing company came down to see Bernstein. He brought his drawings. I made copies of them. Many copies. We distributed them in Bryant Park. The woman wanted to see the text. He handed her handwritten pages stained with coffee and soy sauce. “I can’t submit this,” she said. I told her about Kerouac’s toilet paper roll and “On The Road” and the puke stains on Bukowski’s best work. She didn’t understand. I told her my novel was recently optioned for a Hollywood film. “It’s bizarre, needs more reality,” Bernstein said, continuing to pull dog-eared, stained pages from his duffel bag.

“Type this!” the woman yelled at us. So Bernstein bought an old Brother electric typewriter. “Why do you need a typewriter?” the kid behind the counter of the hockshop asked him. Bernstein grinned like the Cheshire cat and rolled another cigarette. “I’m gonna type,” he said.

He played the next night at the Housing Works Used Book Café in the East Village. It was one of those Indian summer nights. We had Indian food. He was fantastic. Right in the mood. Played the old songs, played the new ones, played “The President’s Song.” The crowd cheered. “This pissant little writer I call jc wants me to run for commander and chief,” he told them. I knew what he was doing. He was calling me out. He was putting this charade on me. “This man is a charlatan!” I cried. “He’ll kill us all!” Bernstein just smiled and played “Jerusalem” and everyone calmed down, even me.

I received a call about mid-April when Bernstein was in Canada complaining about the food. It was from a man going by the initials, C.M., claiming to have actually written Bernstein’s novel. “Jesus, man, these are serious charges,” I told him. “Bernstein’s not even here to defend himself. He’s busy riling up the Canucks with songs about revolution and baseball and porn.” It did not matter, C.M. told me. He wrote that book and he could prove it.

I had a planned interview with Ani Difranco the following night and told her about Bernstein’s dilemma. She was worried. She knew him. She worked with him. She had her doubts about the veracity of my reporting skills, despite refusing to talk to anyone but me. “You don’t work for Ms. Magazine,” she said. Yet she believed my story. She told me she’d recently run into Bernstein at an airport hub in British Columbia and they spoke as if nothing had happened, but she sensed something odd. I concurred. We agreed not to alarm him. Ani felt it could lead to more peculiar behavior with drawings and paint.

Bernstein returned unaffected by Canadian food or the DiFranco détente, but was resolute. Ani met with him again down in D.C. at a women’s rights rally. She played songs. Bernstein played songs. He said, “This is why I picked up a guitar in the first place.” She agreed. He told her she was in his book. She asked if her character died in a fiery explosion. He did not answer. Maybe she did.

“Hey jc, it’s Bernstein!” his message began days later. “The publisher rejected my manuscript! Fuck it! I’ve been rejected by better than them. We’re gonna beat this thing. We’re gonna put this sucker out and let the world decide who wrote this book!”

Only one week before his van pulled west, we scrambled around. There was the Parker Posey motorcycle incident. There was the NY Circus mishap. There was some unforeseen trouble on the FDR and missing designer soaps at the Trump Plaza. I read Bernstein my published nonsense. “Wow,” he said. “Where do you stand politically?” I told him, “On the fence.” He said, “There is nothing so courageous as conquering fear.” He played me songs. Good songs, funny songs, serious fucking songs. He and my wife splattered paint all over the ceiling of the Saint Holy Armistice Suites in midtown Manhattan. I paced and talked about the new bohemian revolution, about how there isn’t one. Bernstein rewrote the novel C. M. accused him of stealing. “I know all about C.M.,” he said. “He’s mad. I stole nothing. He wrote a children’s book about science. I wrote about me.”

He had one more gig. We were done. The wife and I gave him a hug. “We never did start that bonfire,” I told him. “Bullshit,” he said, rolling one more cigarette. “Go downstairs.”

I don’t know if I’ve seen a better bonfire than the one that burned on lower Broadway that night. Goddamn, if Bernstein didn’t come through. “More reality!” he shouted from the hotel window.

I hate his guts. I will miss him.

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