james campion.com

Aquarian Weekly 4/9/03 REALITY CHECK


It is an embarrassing time to be a commentator on current events, bludgeoned beneath a miserable torrent of opportunists reduced to regurgitating fascist blather for network dollars in a twenty-four hour a day propagandized abortion of reporting. It is the kind of demented philosophizing that has expensive messengers shamelessly cheerleading and reasoned dissention reduced to a treasonous anathema. This military campaign, and the circus of television madness it has wrought, has reached a level of dangerous stupidity that even my most painfully cynical paranoia would not have dared conjure.

I knew the idea of true journalism had been fatally wounded years ago, but to parade this rotting corpse out onto cable waves incessantly is at the least criminally insane and at its worst a terminally damaging exercise in national brainwashing. Every moment we continue to broadcast foggy glimpses of this fairytale to what is left of the American psyche we are perpetuating an electronic form of generational genocide that will have our children thinking how they are expected to think, and believing what they are told to believe.

I knew the idea of true journalism had been fatally wounded years ago, but to parade this rotting corpse out onto cable waves incessantly is at the least criminally insane and at its worst a terminally damaging exercise in national brainwashing.

I also know that this is wartime personified, but now it is updated by the minute when there is nothing to update. It is editorialized when there is no actual fact to support it, and it is politicized when the debate sounds like the final gurgle of a bleeding animal hunted down by brainless thugs who elicit joy from massacring helpless creatures to compensate for desperately failed images of an angered God.

Know this, if you know anything about what is slowly happening to the social landscape of this country, as long as this nation is at war the truth can no longer be considered an absolute, it is a concept to be manipulated and raped and put on display for those with agendas to dance around like savages soliciting rain.

Answer this: When did the news become only relevant through its interpretation? How many more of us have to endure the following extremist definitions: People protesting for peace hate America and wish death upon every kid enlisted in the Armed Forces or those who support the foreign policy of the present administration are kill-crazed white supremacists ridding the planet of Muslim scum and colonizing a perfectly structured nation.

This may be the collective delusion of retired Birchers jerking off to old Joseph McCarthy speeches while kicking in the heads of their deviant teenaged brats, and may be all the rage for granola-addled burnouts needing something resembling Viet Nam to allow them to appear passionate to the dates their trying to screw, but is it news? Is it disseminating moments that make up an historical record?

Perhaps I’m mistaken. Maybe it’s all right now to have news anchors wearing American flag pins and going on and on about “we” and “us” and frowning over video of burning buildings. Apparently it is now considered responsible journalism to prop up military fossils in front of maps and reduce carnage and death to a game of Risk. Perhaps I missed the rule changes in allowing events to unfold under their own momentum. Now we predict and re-predict, and when it turns around, we blurt out barely confirmed abuses of rumor and pass it off as competitive reporting.

I think I see it now. We need news channels run like a Don King Promotion promising “Shock and Awe” and co-opting terms like “imbedded” to increase the excitement and ratings, then after a few days wonder when the good stuff starts because the numbers are dipping. People are dying all over the place, and the entire composition of the Middle East is being challenged by the day, and all we care about is who is the most watched coverage of this thing, and wow, look at this fantastic technology we’ve got going here!

Then there are the skewered perceptions born of clumsy propaganda.

Let me make sure I’ve got this straight, if the press questions the Pentagon’s operation it is a blatant insurrectionist movement against the American spirit of freedom and an endangerment of the troops? We’re talking about the same Pentagon that has stood as a monument of chronic disinformation since its inception. The Pentagon is always “on track.” They’re always “on plan”, but journalists are killing our brave boys and girls stuck in the desert with horrible queries like why the hell did the military decide to rush through the Iraqi countryside in three days, woefully stretching the supply lines and failing to fully control cities and baring its flank?

Meanwhile these uniformed marionettes stand before the pack-rat laziness that passes for the eyes and ears of the American people and act surprised a pathetically out-manned rag-tag mafia of frothing religious maniacs fight dirty to defend land they believe was bartered directly from Allah?

I expect Donald Rumsfeld to act like this is business as usual. He is a festering boil on this wildly moronic fantasy machine. He is a puppet, a mouthpiece, and he knew less about Iraqi resistance or the Republican Guard than the Central Intelligence Agency that has failed this country once again. What I don’t expect is for anyone to take a damn thing this strutting ass has to say as anything approaching fact. And neither do I expect anything representing a doomed regime to utter even a slice of newsworthy commentary. Of course whatever is left of the Iraqi government is going to pump out militaristic tripe and pass it off as news, but do we have to acknowledge it? It is getting harder to control these violent retching attacks every time I see another Iraqi diplomat using airtime denying 30 years of human atrocities as if it is merely a cultural divide between the Zionist Western establishment and Islamic law.

And this latest pandering of Iraqi television by Peter Arnett to gain access to Saddam Hussein is so off the charts wretched it bares discussion not as a matter of national security, but of journalistic integrity. If the Iraqis had any guts they’d shoot that miserable bastard in the head and put his severed head on Al Jazeera. It is equivalent to FOXNEWS anchors using “the good guys” rhetoric to suck up to the Pentagon and the current administration to cull better access on this end. This type of grandstanding is also used by those on the inside like the generals conning the Washington Post to rip other military leaders for going with plans differing from their own. Not to mention that self-aggrandizing turd, Geraldo Rivera who is the most glaring example of phony journalism since that insufferable windbag Rush Limbaugh.

In a few days this invasion will be over and we’ll all get back to covering celebrity divorces and political dalliances. That suits the medium better anyway.

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Dan Bern at the Bowery Ballroom


Aquarian Weekly 4/1/03


New York City

Dan BernDan Bern is one of this generation’s finest song-smiths, mixing a sardonic wit with emotional strains of whimsy, a folksy charm with a pop sensibility mixed liberally with the obligatory dab of fierce rock and roll grit channeled through a balladeer’s touch. His performance is not overstated, choosing to let the tunes tumble out of his five-piece ensemble and achieving the right mixture of acoustic warmth and electric snarl. Bern’s voice, a razor sharp twinge of Dylan meets Costello meets Guthrie meets Richards, chants and cries and croons while he stalks the stage in a manner befitting the piped piper when he knows the check is due.

On this snowy Sunday evening at the historic Bowery Ballroom, his second show in as many nights, Bern is in rare form, chatting with the packed house about such diverse subjects as tennis, war, and doomed love while bobbing and weaving his way through his considerable repertoire, which encompasses a seven-year span of eight records. Fan favorites like the haunting, “God Said No”, the hilariously grinding “Tiger Woods” and the bouncy “Chelsea Hotel” are fused with powerful new material from his latest collection, Fleeting Days, to which he humbly thanks the crowd for listening.

The band, satirically nicknamed the International Jewish Banking Conspiracy, is raw and passionate, not unlike an early snapshot of the Attractions, providing the perfect undercurrent to the immediacy of Bern’s biting lyrics. The highlight of its powers comes with a spirited rendition of the new classic, “Graceland”, wherein the troupe plows through (the other) Elvis’s songbook with precision and humor.

Best known for his moving acoustic shows, some of which will pop up on this lengthy tour of the U.S. and Europe, Bern feeds off the band and allows for an energy that carries the night, a bold and furious romp which tempts the audience to chant and bark and join the composer in his bizarre slants on life and limb.

Bern’s work, both live and recorded, along with his prose, encapsulated in his 2002 effort, World Cup Diary, reminiscent of Charles Bukowski meets a young Henry Miller, is a rising force in the alternative scene that is sadly muted in the usual flash-in-the-pan fit-the-mold music biz. His like and creative voice is one that is refreshingly rare and should be cherished by connoisseurs of true expression.

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Top Ten Lies About The War In Iraq

Aquarian Weekly 3/26/03 REALITY CHECK


The following is a two-part final word before the launching of the War On Iraq. Using a format familiar to the readers of this space in the past during the Clinton Impeachment and the 2000 Presidential Election, it appears here in its entirety, but due to space restraints will run for two consecutive issues of the Aquarian Weekly.

1. Disarming a threat to the United States is less about revenge for 9/11 than it is about defending human rights and saving lives within Iraq and protecting neighboring countries from a sinister regime’s “weapons of mass destruction”.

Wrong. If this country gave a hoot about saving lives and preserving human rights abroad by toppling unstable empires stockpiling “weapons of mass destruction” we’d be planning to invade a dozen countries. This includes China, the worst of the bunch, but a country that we trade and interact with copiously.

It’s important to remember that before 9/11 the Bush administration displayed a sly form of isolationism by pulling troops out of formerly strategic areas of the globe and steering completely clear of Middle East political strife, specifically Israel/Palestinian relations. There is no evidence this administration recognized the plight of any peoples of the world beyond our borders before the 9/11 tragedy.

In the weeks following 9/11, The Desk received several reliable source reports that US intelligence had concrete evidence Iraq was as responsible for the highly strategic attack as the symbolically evil, Osama bin Laden. In the summer of 2001, this space predicted, and even championed a run on Baghdad. However, the troubling aspect of this current diplomatic disaster conducted in the shadow of international pressure, UN protests, and clamoring from the press and nearly half the population of this country, the president has failed to ante any of this alleged evidence up.

2. There is a secret Zionist Kabal manipulating the strings of American foreign policy in the Middle East region.

Anti-Semitic cretins like Pat Buchanan and Bill Bennett, among other dark notables, have used their “political isolation” jones to drag Israeli influence on US Middle Eastern policy whenever possible. Although this is predictably asinine and only bolsters rabid Arab hatred for American support of Israel, it once again ignores this administration’s steadfast ambivalence of any peace process before last week’s White House “road map” rhetoric. While it is true that Israel has been this country’s only consistent ally in the region since WWII, and its safety and survival is always a concern, there is no precedence that the US would plan an invasion of an Arab nation solely for its benefit.

Contrary to rumor we’re not the only fish in the bowl. You want to root-root-root for the home team and change the name of your greasy fat sticks from French to Freedom? Go right ahead, but don’t let an international billion dollar corporate kill-fest bloat your head with righteous grandeur or you’ll be coming down hard from a delusion binge the likes of which you have rarely experienced.

3. The United States’ usurping of the unilateral power of the United Nations proves it is overtly acting as an imperialistic bully by attacking a nation that has not threatened or attacked it first.

The UN has garnered little to no credibility in issues of grave danger, as displayed in its inability to face the ugliness of the world politic for decades. The more heinous of this recent “head in the sand” passivity is its hesitance in ending the atrocities in Rawanda and Kosovo, not to mention its coddling of China and North Korea and the complete silence in the approaching devastation of an escalating Pakistan/India border war.

And perhaps someone can explain why the hell the UN unanimously passed Resolution 1441 that threatened military action if Saddam Hussein, who has ignored 17 resolutions over the past 12 years, did not comply? If it didn’t plan on the US using 1441 as a ticket to aggression, what was its purpose?

Needless to say, when the shit is hitting the fan the UN is an impotent institution that will likely survive this latest hand-sitting mess as it did throughout decades of transparency during the Cold War. However, you can bet the ranch when it’s clean-up time for this latest US carnage, the UN’s relevance will suddenly take the front seat.

4. The president’s recent “road map” to peace in Israel by supporting a Palestinian Prime Minister is a brilliant diplomatic maneuver that will change the rest of the world’s view of American aggression.

As explained above, anything this administration does now for Israel/Palestinian relations is purely political. There is no secret that the US’s top ally, British Prime Minister, Tony Blair has been raked over the coals for his vocal and rabid defense of the Iraqi invasion, volunteering troops, supplies and money at a record pace for a European power. The main thrust of the rancor revolves around the majority of the British government’s concern that in the wake of this fiasco the US will continue to be aloof in the growing PLO threat. Ironically, as of this writing, the move failed to keep Blair’s Labor Party from stirring up a political revolt.

Moreover, those who naively paint this clumsy ploy as a diplomatic breakthrough at the brink of war ignore one key Gulf War lesson. Israel, asked to restrain from retaliation in the face of constant bombing the first time around, must be sated. The IDF’s infusion into the fray should Hussein likely attack Israel would be catastrophic for the effort. That is all the Arab world needs to see, three of the last two centuries’ imperialistic super powers, Britain, Spain and the US joined by the capital of Judaism waging war on a fellow Muslim nation.

5. The French, Russian, German government’s vehement protest against this imminent war is based on sober diplomacy and a support of UN resolutions.

The best way to refute this nonsense is to break out every cliché on money you’ve ever heard and apply it liberally. These countries have been in financial bed with Hussein for decades, sending him funds to build weapons and fortify his palace compounds in trade for stabilizing oil costs. The Iraqi government is into Russia for a few billion and the French for a load of cash. When the US was throwing bribe money at nations last week for a final shot at getting them on board the CIA was handed a tab so large agents were told to close all teller windows.

It is important to remember the US is not innocent in the building of the Iraqi weapons structure either. During the Iraq/Iran war of the early 80s’ the Reagan administration funded Iraqi military build-up. It’s all a murky historical soup stirred by the first Bush standoff with Hussein in 1990 that eventually led to all-but ignored attacks on US ships and embassies during the Clinton administration and finally the terrible events of 9/11.

6. For the last time, this entire diplomatic cluster-fuck is not about oil.

Label it Oliver Stone paranoia and conspiracy mania all you like, but there isn’t one human who has paid attention for the past half century that does not fully understand how deep the US is in with Middle Eastern oil concerns. It is made more painfully obvious when people reeking of oil money are running this country, but make no mistake, every president of the latter half of the 20th century has had the same albatross around its neck. Is this latest mess predominantly about oil? No, but is it free of any oil concerns or financial barriers those concerns impose? To argue that it isn’t is purely stupid or politically motivated and nobody with half a brain should buy it.

7. George Bush is a crazed, cowboy warmonger hell bent on shoving American ideals on nations across the globe by force.

Questionable aggression is always fair criticism on the eve of invasion, but wildly off the mark when considering the mounting evidence that this has been anything but an off-the-cuff maneuver. If this administration had been fueled mainly on eradicating the Hussein regime it would not have half-assed its military deployment with a pathetically weak show of diplomacy. Secretary of State Colin Powell begged the president to petition the UN Security Council, while Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld insisted on making a European tour to act like the belligerent ass he’s been for two years. The whole international message has been so diluted in flip-flop rhetoric these past weeks to paint Bush now as a “hit first, ask questions later” leader is laughable.

This insanely bad diplomatic quagmire shrouds this administration in the worst example of a Republican-led global maneuver in US history. Even in the face of economic suicide and criminal acts of lunacy, Reagan and Nixon were top-notch foreign policy wonks that shamed the recent Democratic models, Carter and Clinton, both of whom were mired in the same wishy-washy paradoxical diplomacy as displayed over the past two weeks. The in fighting among the hawks and doves in the Bush administration over this planned invasion ranks as one of the most divided since Lincoln with far less dire consequences, thus dubbing this president a warmonger is just plain wrong.

8. The invasion’s inevitable success will ignite an increase in anti-American sentiment among Arab and Muslim nations and fuel further terrorism against the US and its allies.

Please, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, and there is no way the radical Muslim hatred of the US will be any worse or lessened in the wake of this invasion. We are dealing with thousands of years of religion fanaticism with these loons. The British Empire once smugly thought that by crushing the American colonies, never mind its later miscalculations in India or Ireland, would end random terrorism. How’d that work out for them?

The best you can say about this thing is that when it is done gas prices will dip and the suits at Wall Street will get a collective hard-on. The worst is that the US will lose all credibility among the Arab coalition of nations the first Bush collected after the Gulf War. But it’s nothing barrels of money and a weapons handout won’t cure.

9. Anyone who opposes US foreign policy is against reason and freedom and all that is good and true under the sun.

Put down the flag, sport. This government has concerns abroad, and so do other countries’ governments. Sometimes they don’t jibe. And often times it has nothing to do with justice or what is deemed good or ill. This is international politics. It is ugly and it is indecent and its history is full of bloodshed, both innocent and guilty, or whenever the winners of these things finally get around to interpreting the difference.

Contrary to rumor we’re not the only fish in the bowl. You want to root-root-root for the home team and change the name of your greasy fat sticks from French to Freedom? Go right ahead, but don’t let an international billion dollar corporate kill-fest bloat your head with righteous grandeur or you’ll be coming down hard from a delusion binge the likes of which you have rarely experienced.

10. Dissenting voices from the Democrats on Capitol Hill has damaged the war effort.

Republicans are not getting away with this one. This has the stink of Hillary Clinton’s “vast right-wing conspiracy” all over it. They wanted full control of two branches of this government? They have it. Any pebbles tossed at this massive war machine are merely farts in the political wind. The American people, while nearly divided on this maneuver, will rally when their brothers and sisters start soldiering around the desert. Survivalists in the House will pipe down plenty then.

This will be a military victory for this nation’s current government. It is a matter of when, not if. The fallout will be in how it protects our borders and stabilizes world opinion and how that fallout will effect the US and global economy through the summer and the rest of this year. The last time a Bush waged war in this desert his approval ratings were astronomical. Two years later his flaccid economic record made him fodder for Bill Clinton.

Therefore politicizing this war means little and to say it would weaken a war against one of the most inept and woefully ill-prepared of the world’s armies against the Biblically potent American colossus is stupefying dumb. Military victory is imminent. Time and money will decide 2004.

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War Room Commandos

Aquarian Weekly 3/12/03 REALITY CHECK


There has been an egregious breech of security here at the Reality Check War Room. The morale of the group is down, and passions have been splintered by the day. This once proud conclave, and its failed dream of finding the sense in this government’s foreign doings in the face of a three-front police action has rendered these once hearty souls to back-biting pansies. And unlike many of these anonymous cretins, I have to answer for it.

Our findings have been appearing in this paper and across the globe on the Internet for over a month under my name, and not one of these people have so much as considered the safety of its author. These are desperate times. This country is on the brink of war inside the most volatile region on the planet with little to no international support. Now is not the time for leaks and dissent within the group. Now is the time for rabid solidarity.

Objective commentary is dead. In its wake remain only extremists, the woefully confused peace-protesters and the shills for war. There is no more middle ground. Get on board or get out of the fray.

But, alas, the local authorities have been alerted to our clandestine barnyard meetings, and all hope of dissecting the truth from a rotting corpse of bullshit has been compromised. Needless to say the floodlights at Fort Vernon have been ordered to stay on until further notice and the digging of the memorial Mr. Kitty Mote has been put on hold.

If I thought for one minute anyone would find us, I surely would not have written the insane shit that has been running in this space lately. This nonsense about Colin Powell taking a dive for the Pentagon or burning flags or seceding from the Union is, of course, all a joke. Satire. Yes, that’s what I do best. Poking holes in the hypocrisy of human endeavor with the sharpness of my pen. Sure. It is an art form to be admired, not vitriolic blather to be feared and evidence for restitution.

My fears are real now. Not even Georgetown is answering my calls. There has been a lockdown in Washington for ten months and after that staged kissy-face showcase between the Commander and Chief and the White House press corps its time to prepare for the worst. And God help the next lame bastard who asks a president about Viet Nam every time two American troops meet anywhere. Of course the president thought it a “good question”, a troll could have defused it.

Many of our best War Room commandos exited in shame after that dog and pony show last night. The diligent watchdog press has been felled. Objective commentary is dead. In its wake remain only extremists, the woefully confused peace-protesters and the shills for war. There is no more middle ground. Get on board or get out of the fray.

The weaker of us saw it coming last night. And those who were left to listen for the police sirens could only stare into space. We were not prepared for this to get real. We foolishly believed there was hope in knowing the truth, not versions of the truth seen through prisms of political ideology and diplomacy-speak. But it was all a big fuck-around, and now it is done.

I should have heeded my original hesitance to be involved with this charade. Twelve long years of this crap over 17 pointless UN resolutions. It’s like watching tapes of old Super Bowls and rooting for the Buffalo Bills. Hussein is not going to surrender and no Bush with the power of the free world is going to let this go without bloodshed.

But before we broke camp, the majority of the remaining warriors decided to be the only journalists to actually print a date when the beginning of end for Saddam Hussein will be. By the time this column hits the streets on 3/12, the first bombs will have fallen in Iraq, and as stated in this space before, the whole thing will be over within the month. That’s my beloved mother’s birthday. She is the ultimate warrior. It might even be the day some triplets will be born in Syracuse.

I’ll be out front finishing this mote. Then we will hope, with everyone else, that Captain Shoe In’s vengeance crusade doesn’t open up the can of worms his father’s failed mission wrought.

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The Blessed Right of Dissent

Aquarian Weekly 3/5/03 REALITY CHECK


Here’s a juicy one.

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that although abortion protestors in many annoying and wacky ways have and do tend to break the law, the act of their protest and its ill effects on clinics does not constitute a crime.

The always entertaining, and highly hypocritical National Organization of Women, joined by two abused abortion clinics, tried to apply the 1970 established federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to prevent these protests. The Supreme Court had previously ruled that RICO could be applied to abortion protesters, ignoring the very spirit of the US Constitution’s First Amendment, a continued favorite and oft-dissected subject in this space since the autumn of 1997.

The right to peaceful protest and civil disobedience is the only voice of a people that is supposed to be the final voice in its government and its society at large.

Speaking for the nation’s highest court, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, wrote that racketeering laws require a conclusion that someone has committed an underlying crime, in this case extortion. The court reversed a lower court ruling on that point, finding that protesters did not extort money or valuables from the clinics when they tried to disrupt business.

Disrupting is all part of civil disobedience, a cherished right of this republic and ostensibly the advertising campaign on invading another government half a planet away.

Dissent is always a sticky subject in political realms. That is why the law is the best place to settle it. And it is why this space has always espoused that although you may hail from one side of the ideological fence or the other, at some point you have likely tried to illegally halt it.

For example, Right Wingers, especially those mired in the fundamentalist ring, have constantly heaped their moral outrage on rap music or violent movies and video games, or any form of art or commentary that might afflict their fragile belief system. Yet, these are the same ones who today cheer the ruling of the high court.


Even those who do not wave the Bible at free expression, choose to wave Old Glory when trying to halt dissent. The asinine call for anti-war protestors to cut the act is blatantly un-American in every way. The paradox is stunning. People defending this country’s government in every move it makes foolishly define this as patriotic, when it is merely ideological and sickeningly political. And even if the anti-war protestors are also politically motivated, having outwardly defended the government’s foreign butting-in when another ideology was in charge, does not mean they should not continue.

And don’t even get me started on the burning of the flag. If I buy a flag and want to burn it, you bet your ass I will. Fucking stop me.

No one stops the KKK or the American Nazi Party or the NRA or the Catholic Church or NAACP or NAMBLA or any other configuration of letters.

Now those hailing from the Left Wing are all the rage when they are busy throwing blood on furs and burning down circuses, sleeping in trees and lying down in front of military camps. Sure, that’s okay, but mucking up the flow of abortions is deplorable.


Protesting against abortion does not mean shooting doctors or bulldozing buildings. We don’t need racketeering laws to stop that. Those fall under well-covered categories. The idea that NOW, completely silent during the Clinton woman-hating scandals, has some set of rocks here. If not for dissent and protest, they would be nothing more than an offshoot of the Girl Scouts; how they got away with denying someone’s right to protest in the first place is beyond comprehension.

The right to peaceful protest and civil disobedience is the only voice of a people that is supposed to be the final voice in its government and its society at large.

One person’s enemy is another’s cherished icon. The issue is not how you think, but that you are able to do so, and express it within the boundaries of the law, not good taste, religious moralities, silly traditions or how much it pisses someone off.

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The Bill For Rebuilding Iraq

Aquarian Weekly 2/26/03 REALITY CHECK

THE BILL FOR REBUILDING IRAQ The Small Details of The Bush War

WARNING: The following numbers are not official, for no government would dare divulge dumping billions of tax dollars to restructure areas of the world it pummeled into granite powder.

Our series on the pending military action in Iraq continues this week with a breakdown of the inevitable rebuilding of the country we’ll be bombing into near oblivion in a few weeks. A team of tireless accountants – excluding my accountant, who was excused to allow for the constant 24 hour watch which effectively keeps me from financial self-destruction, and my father, who after nearly 40 years of this shit has taken on the monumental feat of willing NC State into the NCAA tournament – joined our War Room to estimate the taxpayer investment in razing and then reconstructing a nation halfway across the globe.

Make no mistake; this fiasco will not be lengthy nor will it be anything approaching competitive. The Iraqi army is weaker than it was 12 years ago, and that wasn’t exactly a fighting machine. Even with troops spread out all over Europe and Asia and other points Middle East, the US Army will obliterate the Iraqi infrastructure within a month, tops. And when those left are finished surrendering to CNN camera crews, the bill will come due.

This latest and greatest standoff with Iraq will also not be cheap, but it’s too late to back down financially or politically. The cost of ramping up this sucker has already rivaled the first six bombings of Baghdad alone.

Okay, now raise your hands if you know the extent of US tax dollars funneled into the rebuilding of Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo or Afghanistan in the past decade. If your hands are still down, use them to hang on to your wallet.

We’ll start with Somalia, because in terms of rebuilding, it was a drop in the bucket at $1 billion of US military and humanitarian funds spent between in 1993 and ’94. But later in ’96, the World Bank estimated the total cost of cleaning up the Clinton Administration’s other charitable fascination with Bosnia at $5.1 billion over four years. However, the US costs alone reached that number after the first three years culminating in a grand total of $30 billion for the complete economic reconstruction of the Balkans. This included our funds to rebuild Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia and Romania at $2.2 billion.

The numbers on piecing together what was left of Kosovo are a little hazier, but the more concrete breakdown of war costs make up for that. According to a June, 1999 Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments analyst report in Rueters, the US coughed up $3 billion to take down Slobodan Milosevic amid the fumes of what was once Yugoslavia. This incorporated $1 million cruise missiles, 300 grand worth of tank-busting munitions and the occasional laser-guided bombs running $100,000 apiece. While the rest of Europe picked up the tip, our 1,000 aircraft, including 24 Apache attack helicopters, 18 multiple launch rocket system artillery pieces and some 5,500 supporting Army troops rounded out the grace-saving gig. And when you get to the cost of hanging around and making sure the deal sticks, the US spend up to $3.5 billion the first year to deploy peacekeepers.

Now for what continues to be an ad hoc covert operation in Afghanistan, going on its second year of spying, torture and all around merriment, according to a BBC report one year ago, the cost of rebuilding a country that was worth about 40 cents of infrastructure when we began gutting it is $297 million a year.

Note that our research does not go back to the tons of cashed dumped into Desert Storm 12 years ago, because of cost-of-living curves and vacillating inflation numbers, but suffice to say that wasn’t cheap.

This latest and greatest standoff with Iraq will also not be cheap, but it’s too late to back down financially or politically. The cost of ramping up this sucker has already rivaled the first six bombings of Baghdad alone. And unlike the Gulf War, this will be a full-scale invasion to unseat the current government, which means a complete dedication to rebuilding the damages, defending the next regime and keeping overall peace in a region our current government feels will start to be cleansed by this maneuver.

Our dollar share in this starts at $15 billion a year, while also risking the lives of thousands of US troops defending a reported coalition government that includes Sunnis, Shias and Kurds.

Whether this war protects our oil interests, bolsters Israel’s defense or puts the scare into terrorists remains to be seen. What is known is the tremendous financial burden it will put on the American taxpayer, the majority of which want little to nothing to do with it. To a nation struggling through an economic quagmire, this will either be crippling or productive. Again, a hard gig to predict, but one that is all but inevitable save Saddam Hussein’s head appearing on a platter at the UN anytime soon.

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War Propaganda 101

Aquarian Weekly 2/19/03 REALITY CHECK

PROPAGANDA 101 A Seminar in Wartime Follies

The clear-headed faithful crammed into a miniscule conference room not far from the Reality Check New & Information Desk headquarters at Fort Vernon this week for a special war-room conclave. Drinks flowed, punches were thrown and the minutes revealed serious headway, the results of which will be presented in this space throughout the length of this fifth or sixth chapter of the War on Iraq.

The names and affiliations of those hearty souls are not as important as their findings, but suffice to say they have forced this reporter to face 12 years of failed Desert Storm demons better left in the pages of “Fear No Art”. And to that little puissant going by the anonymous moniker of Randak, who has pummeled its author with furious e-mails accusing me for two months of “shirking your responsibility to rouse a rabble and admit the president is a puppet of the Pentagon”, I say crank up the engines, I’m back in the game!

Now most of the evidence culled from our two-day orgy of debate and rancor suggests a full-scale bulldozer of War Propaganda finally reaching saturation. Midway through the summit, WCBS News led its telecast with nearly eight uninterrupted minutes of “High Alert” lunacy from Times Square and Newark Airport. Munitions dogs sniffing out bus compartments and a jabbering idiot with piano wire in his carry-on being stripped searched by 40 state cops.

Am I saying that a few caffeine addicts holed up in a mountain barn somewhere in Jersey has concluded that the US Military is force feeding a pack of media lies to the American people to send the lukewarm into a rabid angst frenzy by dragging the popular African-American war hero into the roll of carnival barker and fashioned a bogus tape of a dead terrorist?

The panic was palpable. On FOX NEWS, anchormen with serious scowls kicked it to nattily attired cub reporters introducing frightful video of tanks backing into malls in downtown DC and uncovering blueprints to build a bubble car to truck Dick Chaney to his weekly heart transplant.

High Alert? You mean to tell me that unless the CIA gets an anonymous tip its blasé fare?

Jesus, wait! Shhhh. There’s another tape of Osama bin Laden speaking from the grave. It’s not video, and it’s raspy, almost unintelligible and, most importantly, its in fucking Arabic! But government experts confirm it might, it could, it IS most probably him! He is saying something about infidels and the Devil West and all those other things he says and has said for a decade and something about…Hold it! He mentioned Iraq! Now MSNBC is running a controlled Hate Poll, which has reached 98% with a bullet. The talking head says our enemy lives and has a hard-on for Saddam and the bombs could not start falling soon enough!

It was about then when one of the recently enlightened among us processed that it had been exactly two weeks to the day approval numbers on the Bush Crusade had dipped to new lows and nearly 70% of Americans were more than skeptical that whatever clusterfuck appeared as a military victory in Afghanistan would not make mincemeat out of this latest piss fight with Iraq.

Interestingly, it was one week to the day that Colin Powel walked into the UN with his woe-begotten slide show causing gas prices to spike and what is left of the Stock Market to sink sickly into oblivion. Many argued that the one man with soaring poll numbers had kept the Texas whoops to a minimum for six months of this miserable shit, but now there he was with aerial photographs of missiles hidden in mounds of goat dung.

Hold on a minute.

What am I writing here? Am I saying that a few caffeine addicts holed up in a mountain barn somewhere in Jersey has concluded that the US Military is force feeding a pack of media lies to the American people to send the lukewarm into a rabid angst frenzy by dragging the popular African-American war hero into the roll of carnival barker and fashioned a bogus tape of a dead terrorist? Never mind feeding off the fears of a fractured nation.

Check the transcript!

Think what you must. Take what you can from evidence. It is only that, evidence, compiled knowledge of events. Johnny Cochran can poke holes in that motherfucker. Ask O.J.

Hey, but don’t attack the messenger. I only print the results of investigations. If you feel the need to press charges, you always have the Constitution. But know this, when a government, any government, and history tells us our government, is gearing up for an inevitable conflict with a foe that has merely generated a modicum of public support, laws and creeds and lofty moral objectives, whether written down or uttered by long dead patriots, mean little.

There are several basic tactics to pushing war agenda.

First there is economic, political and social need. This country is in big financial trouble. Unemployment has reached a ten-year high, the word “investment” is currently an anathema and the final retail numbers for 2002 were so bad Allen Greenspan actually showed up last week in full banshee rant. Whoever’s fault this is, if anyone’s, is not the concern.

Herbert Hoover barely warmed his seat at Pennsylvania Avenue when the Market crashed, and he was nearly tar and feathered on Capital Hill for crippling a generation.

The motive is clear. Without this perpetual War on Terror and rousing speeches about Evil Doers, Georgie Junior is a laughable bust. Captain Shoe-in needs a victory over something, badly.

Second, there is always a clear and present enemy. America has had one in Saddam Hussein for three presidents, the first one conveniently being the father of the current one. He is the symbol of Middle-Eastern tyranny and loose-cannon mania, and despite the cynical slant of the Desk’s findings, most likely responsible in some way for 9/11, whether directly or otherwise. This is not news. The right people knew this two weeks after the disaster, but the Taliban was the flavor of the month then.

There is no time for the rest. I’ve written too much as it is. But peace protesters should save their breath. Prepare for this war. Embrace it as your own. You’re getting it whether you think it God’s will or the biggest mistake since allowing cameras around Michael Jackson for five minutes. At least know your government cares enough to put on a show to help you enjoy it.

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Safety vs. Civil Rights

Aquarian Weekly 2/5/03 REALITY CHECK


What is currently being argued in federal court regarding the extended rights of law enforcement to spy on private citizens suspected of terrorist activity is one of the thorny issues riding the fumes of 9/11. As discussed in great length in this space for the past year, many of these obligatory proposals to tweak civil liberties in the guise of homeland security teeter on the illegal while occasionally slipping into the realm of laughable.

Of course the NYPD, the defendant in the case, will argue it is nearly impossible to keep tabs on the myriad of covert comings and goings of its citizenry in respect to approaching anything close to what the community might deem safe.

Certainly, it is the job of the blue line to crave greater access to our privacy. It makes the job easier and puts the populace at greater responsibility for its own protection.

But does it equate to increased safety or some wildly paranoid notion of control?

Forget the legal aspects of this case for a moment. Ignore your constitutional rights. Try and erase that eerie feeling that you are being watched and let’s get real for a second here.

Are you still willing to hold up “interpretation” of your activities as a good enough reason for the authorities to keep tabs on you?

Would you feel safer if the cops knew every move of every person in your neighborhood?


I could swear I saw the unmistakable glow of plutonium coming from my neighbor’s basement window.

But be that as it may, defining what constitutes “sufficient cause” to plot a terrorist attack and officials “suspecting an individual of potentially plotting” a terrorist attack is the rub.

Huge rub.

NYPD lawyer, Gail Donahue was recently quoted as saying the rub lies not in the “sufficient cause” vs. “merely suspecting” argument, but what he describes as the “covert issue”. In other words, the very nature of covert actions on the part of terrorist groups makes any activity a probable crime.

What’s the difference between “covert” and “private”? And as with much of the vagaries of human perception; “suspecting” is in the eye of the beholder.

This falls into the messy category of absolute power, which leads to the wildly popular possibility for corruption. Once the police or the government has the right to keep tabs on your e-mail, correspondence, phone conversations or even your house by playing a hunch, what’s to stop them from interpreting this law?

Machines will not be “suspecting” your activities, humans will be doing that; emotional, subjective humans.

There is no exact science here.

Are you still willing to hold up “interpretation” of your activities as a good enough reason for the authorities to keep tabs on you?

Suppose your answer to that question is “yes”.

I am sadly reminded of the National Football League’s fucked up replay system. Ostensibly it is used to make sure the call made in the heat of battle by flawed officials is correct. But not all calls fall under the jurisdiction of the rules. Many are based on happenstance, like an errant whistle having blown the play dead, the unique perspective of the official who made the call, or the judgmental aspect of the call itself. What one official sees as an infraction, another sees entirely differently.In these cases the system is rendered impotent.

In short, the technological watchdog approach should make the game fairer, but in reality redefines the game’s organic exorcise to a series of blundered misinterpretations.

Okay, now forget the banal pro football reference, firstly because it was stupid, but mostly because at least it’s a reactionary device. What this court case involves is the instinct of the police force. Handing over the rights of a government tool to spark some half-assed mission to turn your life upside down on a series of intuitions.

Hopefully not the same intuition that had confused cops blasting away at kids with cell phones.

Anyone supporting these increased surveillance bills predictably use the argument that without securing the public’s safety, there can be none of the freedoms the ACLU is always railing about. In other words, if you cannot give up one or two freedoms for the safety of the community, you are a selfish first and fourth amendment whiner thinking with your politics and not your common sense.

Specious as that argument is, it nonetheless speaks to our primal urge to survive. You know, “Fuck it. Let everyone know my business. I don’t want to go to work one day and end up having my name slapped on a memorial plaque or referenced during a State of the Union address. I want to live, damn it! And I don’t care what the cost.”

Either side you fall on in this equation, pay attention to the final verdict due in February. And if freedoms are compromised based on fear than you’d better straighten up and fly right.

One thing no one can debate is that human instinct has led to some heinous shit.

Let’s hope you aren’t the next casualty all in the name of blessed security.

Me? I don’t care. I’m on everyone’s must-watch list. This is what I get for allowing people to air their views on my web site.

I might have to secede from the union.

Stay tuned.

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Axis of Evil is Money, Money, Money

Aquarian Weekly 1/29/03 REALITY CHECK

SELECTIVE HEROISM A Few Random Truths About The Inevitable War

How’s that war against al Qaeda going? We done over in Afghanistan? How’s that working out for ya? Buried the angst of 9/11 yet? Hey, before I’m done asking questions; where’s Osama bin Laden? When’s the trial start?

The economy is in the toilet. Even Bush apologists are finally copping to that. Stimulus package, tax cutting, Republican government, no matter. People are being sacked left and right. Businesses are folding. The president is popular, though. Polls tells us that. Polls tell us a lot of things. Polls told us we loved Bill Clinton’s lying. Polls told us we loved that slavery. Polls told us we weren’t keen on women voting, or helping the Jews in Europe all that much.

You know what the Axis of Evil is?

Money. Money. Money.

And big dicks.

Another recent poll has Americans reticent to get involved with another war with no end. This war has been more or less going on since 1989. Weapons inspectors, coalition, UN resolutions aside; it keeps going. Not going to stop.

Here’s why: Too many big dick egos on the line now. This is a Bush legacy mess. First one got us in. This one has to see it through. At least he realizes the whole thing stands there like the proverbial white elephant. This was beyond the last administration. But it’s a big dick thing. Believe me. Oil has its place. Promises made to the enormous campaign finance teat. But that is only part of the story.

Note to protestors: Put down the fucking signs about oil. Get with the program.

Here’s the program: This country trades, dances, prances and pussyfoots around with China. There is no more dangerous, corrupt, human atrocity than China. We can’t be bothered looking into that. Bigger dick. Truly bigger dick, with tons of consumers. Money. Money. Money.

That’s what keeps big dicks erect. That’s what keeps Germany, France and Russia crying about the US warmonger. Money. Money. Money. France and Germany get nearly 70% of their oil supply from the Iraqi region. Saddam Hussein is into Russia for around eight billion dollars. Dead lunatic is bad for business in Europe. So don’t buy any of their human rights, right to sovereignty bullshit.

Money. Money. Money.

And big dicks.

North Korea is a goddamn powder keg. Those crazy fuckers running things over there have serious weaponry and aim to use it for giggles. Hatred for the US is palpable. Been going on for half a century. We see fit to negotiate and ponder diplomatic solutions. Strong words are exchanged, but no military build-up or maneuvers. No handy patriotic rhetoric. China wouldn’t stand for it. Neither would the UN, whatever the hell that is these days.

Selective heroism.

Today its Iraq, tomorrow, who knows? War used to be good for the economy, but five simultaneous wars? No end in sight. Nothing finished. Half-assed military policy all over the globe. Stock market is doomed. Unemployment rate rising. Homeland Security sucking the well dry.

You think our president would like to have his “Axis of Evil” comments back?

You know what the Axis of Evil is?

Money. Money. Money.

And big…

Got it?

Dust off those yellow ribbons and slap old glory on the window of that SUV, we’re going in.


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Dan Bern Interview

Aquarian Weekly 1/22/03 REALITY CHECK

Dan Bern InterviewUnedited Transcript Conducted over the phone on the road from Pittsburgh to Philly to The Desk at Fort Vernon – 3/26/03

Dan BernDan Bern songs speak to me. That is the power of song, and it is not lost on him. And although he is one of the most prolific composers of this era, his record company chairman Brandon Kessler told me he could release an album a week with all of it, there is an obvious care given to each lyric, each characterization, each wonderfully crafted chord progression. This is because Bern is cut in the mold of old-time songsters, who used the medium to cajole and soothe the listener along with its author. It is as if sharing an experience, and the range of his emotions are wide.

He should have a wider audience, and he’s working on it, touring like a madman – he even recently played his baseball songs at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown – but mainly because Dan Bern is everything right about the craft of songwriting and performing, a troubadour, a poet, a painter and a writer. He shies away from nothing, opening dangerous channels to peer down with him.

The first time I saw him; he blew me away, the honesty and humor right there for everyone to see. No pretensions, no illusions, pure ugliness and beauty set to music. Soon after, his recordings played in the background for the final excruciating days of finishing my last book; no small task since completing a book is like being in some kind of labor/limbo for months. And it was a pleasure to give him a copy after his Bowery Ballroom show mere days after conducting this interview from the road.

It was more of a discussion than interview, as Bern let his slow, infectious drawl pour over the answers with an old country wisdom belying his mid-thirties experience. We started out with a play on his playfully winding song, “Jerusalem”, which happens to be the first one on his first self-titled 1996 record, a song where he pauses to tell the listener that they heard right, he’s announcing that he is the Messiah; a nugget too good to ignore for a wise-ass like me.

jc: Let me start off by asking, are you still the Messiah, or has that changed for you the last couple of years?

Dan Bern: No. (chuckles)

jc: No, it hasn’t changed, or no you’re not the Messiah?

DB: No.

jc: (laughs) The only reason I’m asking is I’m Beelzebub. So I guess you and I have a meeting in the desert sometime soon.

DB: I’m looking forward to it.

jc: All right, good.

DB: Anytime, bring it on.

“I think you have to make the observations, but then, what do you do with them? What are they for? How do they fit in some larger picture?

jc: Do you see yourself less as a folksinger and more as a satirist? Most of your work, specifically “Cure For AIDS” and the “Swastika Song” are in that vein, less serious commentary than satire.

DB: Well, it shifts around. I think it really depends on the song. Actually, those labels – folksinger or satirist – I tend to shy away from them myself, or anything that can put you in a box. Other people do it, but I never found it necessary to do it to myself. This way I can take it from song to song.

jc: Your answer on labels for your voice reminds me of a quote from HL Mencken I used for my first book, “Any man who inflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.” Would you say that your songs are more ideas or observations rather than commentary?

DB: I think you have to make the observations, but then, what do you do with them? What are they for? How do they fit in some larger picture? So I think the observation is part of the work, but then what does it mean? What did you make the observation for?

jc: So would you consider the meaning behind these observations in your songs more from an optimist’s standpoint or pessimist’s? Because now I’m reminded of Lenny Bruce’s comment about waking up in the morning and everything being perfect, and how if that happened, he’d be out of a job.

DB: I certainly have my moments of pessimism, but I think overall just to be out here doing this, being able to write songs in the face of everything else, there’s a hope, a belief in something.

jc: So you’d say writing the songs, even from the pessimist’s side, is something of a catharsis for you and the hope comes from the listener going through the same thing?

DB: I think so. If you’re just looking to depress people, what’s the point? If someone is out there going through terrible times, from losing their house to just fighting traffic, and they spend their hard earned money to go out and hear me play my songs, there has to be something positive there. I know if I’m going to go to a show I’m expecting to be uplifted somehow, gain a kind of inspiration from it. I’d hope that is happening with my performances.

jc: How much of your own personal experience do you put in the songs? In other words, you write predominantly in the first person, so when you use “I” in a song, are you talking directly from your own experience?

DB: Well that shifts too. There’s some reflection of me. It’s the narrator, really. If you look at it like a short story, the “I” is coming from the narrator, not the guy who wrote it. There’s an assumption that within the theme there will be a good deal of a similarity with the author. It works like some kind of a mirror, but you have to give yourself the complete freedom to take the truth as you see it and stretch the hell out of it. (chuckles)

jc: (laughs) All right, but for instance, the touching aspects of a song like “Lithuania” seems extremely biographical, while also speaking to various different avenues of the listener’s personality, even if you didn’t happen to have grandparents who were murdered by Nazis. There is something personal, yet eminently relatable to ghosts of our past that shape us; the relatives we’ve never met, the experiences of escaping our legacy.

DB: Yes, a song like that crosses over. That song is very much, if not completely, autobiographical.

jc: As opposed to something, I like to say satirical, like “The Swastika Song”, which comments on the same issues as “Lithuania”, but in a completely different voice. You are coming to grips with the issues of the past in “Lithuania” and grabbing back a part of history that has been annexed by hate to return it to a positive art form in “The Swastika Song”.

DB: (chuckles) Yeah, it’s like a big mural on the wall. You throw it up there.

jc: Let me ask you, have you heard the phrase “weapons of mass destruction” enough?

DB: I think so.

jc: How about “shock and awe”?

DB: These are great phrases, aren’t they? They’re just demanding to be used for our purposes.

jc: Would you back a military campaign to liberate Baltimore?

DB: Well, I’m really behind the notion of a regime change for Washington. I think Baltimore would be a good staging area.

jc: (laughs) So, start there, move up over the Potomac, being followed by CNN or some other trusted media outlet.

DB: Just find the right people who are willing to rise up against the regime and start moving north.

jc: Would you consider yourself a realist? Or do you try and create a world that is best suited for your art?

“Yeah, the whole idea of writing or painting is some kind of multiple perspective and somewhere in there may be some world view, but it can’t be through one lone voice that never changed and shifts. It wouldn’t be honest. .

DB: Hopefully I’m covering the whole ball of wax song by song. Again, in the course of a two or three hour show, I feel the need for the songs to speak clearly and linearly at some point and distort and stretch at other points. I don’t think I’d be comfortable or be able to sit with only one way of speaking of things.

jc: Or one viewpoint.

DB: Yeah, the whole idea of writing or painting is some kind of multiple perspective and somewhere in there may be some world view, but it can’t be through one lone voice that never changed and shifts. It wouldn’t be honest.

jc: As a writer, I found that your “World Cup” book, especially the diary style, showed some promise for prose. That’s’ a difficult shift for a lyricist or a poet. Is that a voice you’d like to exercise more?

DB: Definitely. I find myself working more in that vein. I’m almost done with something that’s a singular, longer work that I’m pretty excited about.

jc: Will it also include music, like the five-song CD in the “World Cup” book?

DB: This one, no. This one’s…

jc: Literary.

DB: Yeah. The narrator is a scientist who is very much like me and is one tour all the time, (chuckles) but instead of performing songs, gives lectures on his theories, blows things up. So, there are no songs in this one.

jc: (chuckles) Sound very Vonnegut.

DB: You’ll have to read it. Then you can tell me.

jc: I’m looking forward to it. I’d like to talk about musical style for a moment. Since I’m a fan of Dylan and Woody Guthrie, and this is why I took to your work immediately, I noticed Guthrie in your song “Jail”. The “Talkin” Blues” is an obvious homage, and I hate to use the word homage, but what the hell, it’s a tribute to Dylan’s first penned song. Also the first song on the new record, “Fleeting Days” called “Baby Bye Bye” is a great stab, with your own signature, on Springsteen. As all artists, do you use those voices to create your own sound?

DB: I suppose. Some things are probably closer in style to those tunes than other stuff. If people hear it, it’s probably there. Those are songwriters I’ve definitely listened to and absorbed and so it probably comes out that way.

jc: As you become more and more ingratiated into the pop culture, or the culture of celebrity, less than some certainly, but still, slowly you are getting recognized, do you feel it’s harder to write songs as an observer? Ken Kesey once said that fame for a writer is the death of observation, because once you become part of the landscape, it’s more difficult to write about it.

DB: Maybe I would feel that way if I were more famous. I’ve never been on Conan. I’ve never been on the cover of any major magazine. I still feel like I’m the guy outside looking in. I suppose I’ll always feel that way, you know, the outsider.

jc: You reference icons of culture more than anyone I’ve heard, from Jesus to Henry Miller to Monica Seles to Leonardo Decaprio to Hitler. You can tell from listening to your songs you’re aware of so much of your surroundings from a cultural sense.

DB: I don’t know. I think I’m able to separate it. It’s not like the people I’m writing about know me or hear the songs. Maybe they do, but I’m not aware of it. So, it keeps a distance.

jc: How do you see the music business from your end as the outsider? Do you experience the conglomerate, corporate, evil side of the business or do you avoid that as well?

DB: I don’t have much to do with that. From my standpoint it’s a lot of hard work and I don’t get a lot of that magical thing, throwing around a lot of money or having my picture up on a billboard. Usually I’m pissed off because I get to a gig and nobody put our posters up. That’s kind of the world I’m dealing with.

jc: It’s still grass for you.

DB: It’s more grass roots now than when I first started making records. I was with Sony for a couple of records. They didn’t spend money wisely. I don’t think they quite knew what to do with me. Every once in awhile they’d throw a bunch of money at something and you’d get the feeling that something might happen, but for the last several years it’s really been about making good records and to keep writing the songs and keep being relevant to myself and the audience and not go completely broke doing it.

jc: Amen to that. Are you touring with the band that’s on the new record?

DB: Yeah, for about four months now.

jc: Do you prefer playing with a band, or is there a place for you to still get up there like you did at Carnegie Hall and perform your songs by yourself?

DB: Oh yeah, I think that is something I will always use. This fall I’m going to go out for a couple of months by myself. I have more time when I do that. I have space. I write more when I’m by myself on the road, and the pallet, the song bag is bigger when I’m by myself. I can play anything I can remember. Even though this band has a pretty wide array of songs from my bag, and it’s widening, there’s a lot of places we can go in terms of material. But even with that, there are limits. And with playing by myself there’s just this connection between you and audience that’s a pretty cool thing.

jc: Let me ask you about one specific song that I saw you perform by yourself that I know is a favorite of your fans. When my wife and I saw you do it we looked at each other and knew this guy has something special, and that’s “God Said No”. Is that song Nietzian? Is it from a theological standpoint? Does the narrator who is asking God to send him back and keep Kurt Cobain from suicide or assassinate Hitler or save Jesus from the cross, does he believe he is actually speaking to God, or actually talking to God, or is it merely a commentary about the linear aspect of life and it’s limitations to live in the now?

DB: It’s a personal struggle that I have, really. I’ve had it my whole life; this wish and desire to right wrongs of the past. So when I’m talking, when the narrator is talking, I’m expressing that wish. I’m confronting that desire. And I think when God is talking; I’m sort of getting the answer.

jc: No.

DB: Yeah.

jc: Would you consider yourself a spiritual person?

DB: I think what I consider God is something that other people might consider as nature or existence. That’s what I look to. That’s where I get answers of substance. I think it’s there. Without sounding to hippyish, I think the trees breathe and they give us answers.

jc: Having said that, would you purchase or read a book that paints Jesus of Nazareth as a social revolutionary who was miserably misunderstood and whose teachings and personal sacrifice has been criminally annexed for two thousand years?

DB: Sure.

jc: (laughs) Good, it’s the subject my new book. “Trailing Jesus”. I’ll get you a copy.

DB: (laughs) Yeah, I’d love to read that.

jc: This was actually quite inspirational for me, since I’m going on a promotional tour for the book and I’ll be on the other end of the phone trying to avoid direct answers of theorem in the work, and still give acceptable answers. You’re pretty good at that.

DB: Well, thanks. (chuckles) I’m sure you’re up to the task yourself. You know I’ve always felt willing and able to add my two cents to any like-minded movement that needs a singer, but at the same time I feel like if I speak for myself then I can’t go too wrong.

jc: Thanks for the time. Anything I can do for the cause. Your stuff is extremely inspirational for a writer.

DB: I couldn’t appreciate that more, thanks.

jc: Well, keep writing those beautifully moving, hilariously funny and insightful songs and be careful on the road, okay?

DB: Thanks man, I’ll see you Sunday.

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