We live now in a period where we are just as likely to run into someone saying that World War III is upon us as someone saying we are witness to worldwide change that will shift us into a global renaissance.
After two in-depth programs on Israel and the issues surrounding occupation and apartheid there, it is difficult to see any light down the many tunnels of conflict worldwide. From Palestine, Israel and Gaza, to Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and many other lands, we are witness to a massive upheaval.
Today sociologist Michael Schwartz and I discussed Iraq. More a failure than Viet Nam perhaps. Exxon and Mobil win; everyone else loses, especially the USA taxpayers. Our nation's treasure squandered for what? So the Church Of The Invisible Hand can preach the gospel of free market success? Hardly. If it takes $500 billion in subsidies for Big Oil and trillions for wars, then that is not laissez faire capitalism, that is immoral, illegal empire building so that a few tax-dodging multinational corporations can reap huge rewards. Blood on our hands from thousands of our military and over a million Iraqi people alone.
At our own doorstep we have thousands of unaccompanied children forced north by ... USA meddling in the June 29, 2009 coup d'etat in Honduras. We helped overthrown a democratically elected present (Zaraya) when he was helping poor farmers, established a minimum wage and established a free healthcare system. The USA stood internationally alone in support of the coup and alone in not condemning it. Turns out we trained the coup leaders at the School of the Americas, Ft. Benning, GA.
The most positive note to end this screed is that more and more we are hearing for a movement against the concept of empire here. This had better gain momentum soon and impact hard. Such a massive democratic uprising is far beyond the goals of Occupy and even the peace movement.
So what will it be ... a renaissance, or WW3?
Well, it started this time with a NYT story on an exhibit at The International Center of Photography, featuring my favorite genre, "street." Out of nowhere came to mind an image from India that I had chosen to make monochrome. That one always bothered me for some reason. I had wanted a series of monochrome for my India portfolio for a reason: everything in India is COLOR! So I chose a series of images that were more grit than sheen, more dirt than gloss.
My new quest was to process this image again, but in a muted, desaturation of the original capture. Just enough color to break up the monotony but still keep the mood.
So here is the before and after:
Well, you be the judge. Sometimes ya just gotta do this stuff.
Had a good show today, despite the grim topic of kids losing their lives to substance abuse. Had a regional expert, Jeff Reynolds, speak to the big picture. Also had a mom, and activist, Claudia Friszell - Claudia experienced the ultimate horror of losing a wonderful son at way too early an age. Tough stuff.
In fact, the "toughness" is what strikes me the most when talking with families that have lost a precious member. We all know that when faced with the worst, we learn the most and grow accordingly. Families of victims are a tough bunch - not only do they deserve to be listened to, but we can benefit so much if we take the time to hear their message. They have much to share with all of us. It is far more than just "their story."
I also rambled a bit today on the horrific costs of our wars. While this is fanciful and idealistic, I think we need to think more like this. We have played the empire card long enough and it is crippling our culture. In case you missed it, here it is:
National Treasure … IMAGINE
Imagine for a moment that we took a different fork in the road. Imagine a war with a price tag that is totally made up – totally fictitious – imagine we just now decided that we were going to war for 10 years and that the cost would be some 4-5 trillion bucks – just to pick a number in the ballpark of our “adventures” in Af/Pak and Iraq. Imagine.
So now imagine this money spent NOT on war, but right here at home.
Infrastructure? Check. Education? Check. Serious investment in alternative energy? Check. And so on.
Just imagine what our surroundings might look like in 10 years.
Is this a "have your cake and eat it too" scenario – yes! Same way the hawks got their wars, on the credit card! This is simply pilling up yet more national debt ... BUT with a difference ... instead of growing a terrorist network worldwide that hates us and is planning blowback from our wars, we instead have grown communities, we have added value to each and every citizen, not knocked down doors, but painted them! Not created enemies, but friends, all right here in front of us. Except for propaganda footage like the "Shock and Awe" invasion and destruction of Baghdad, we have not actually seen much of how our national treasure has been squandered in the Middle East. With my little scenario we would see it right before our eyes, every day.
I think this is what was once called a “peace dividend” – well, we never saw that did we? We were hell bent on creating more wars, more empire.
Imagine a different story; imagine peace as a strategic, DOMESTIC initiative; planned and executed with the same precision we crow about when sending missiles from our drones with deadly force.
NEED YOUR HELP FOLKS ...
Time for dpchallenge.com's monthly contest. Usually about 250-300 in this open challenge (their weekly ones are theme specific - monthly is anything you want to enter). Bragging rights only.
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Today on "Everything is Broken" we took a peek into the future ... all the way to the 2016 election!
The threshold question posed was: are you going to go along with the assumption that there is a viable 2-Party System to begin with? Are you going to champion Rodham-Clinton? And, more importantly, how will you handle your fellow progressives when we challenge you.
Many fellow progressives will perhaps support Elizabeth Warren (fat chance any money bundlers are going to send the Brink's truck to MA), and then cast a protest vote for a Green Party candidate or Mickey Mouse or Jon Stewart or Susan Sarandon. We know now to plan to hear the following:
1. “Well, she will of course be better than” anyone that the R-side of The Corporate Party anoints. I would hope to hear a better defense of a neo-con hawk like Rodham-Clinton than that. “Tough on defense”? More like she drank the neoCON PNAC kool-aid and looks forward to more empire building.
2. “Im going to hold my nose and vote “lesser of two evils” – but ... isn't it ONE evil?
3. “Lets start pushing Rodham-Clinton from the left right now!!" There may or may not be merit in this one. But, haven't we "been there done that" too many times before? How did we do pushing Obama from the left? We got HOPE and empty promises about Gitmo and a raft of others issues, not to mention “worse than Bush” grades on torture, NSA data hoovering – outright Orwellian domestic spying and privacy invasion; killing USA citizens with drones and Tuesday “kill list” meetings for same.
4. “I want a woman president” – sure, WE ALL DO - so overdue it is shameful ... but not this one!! I may be naive, but I don't think Elizabeth Warren is in a race driver's suit with corporate owner logos emplazoned … yet.
So, am I leaving you only with the elephant in the room: that our system is rotten to the core? Yes.
So, where will you stand when this already decided (by the ruling oligarchs) election rolls around? And, how will you handle those on the left that will file a protest vote?
PLEASE … lets not end up divided as we were when many of us went with Nader – some Democrats got downright ugly about that you may recall. Think about it.
Today I tread on new earth. I had studiously avoided musician interviews because … well, isn’t that what the “real DJ’s” at WUSB are for? They do it all the time and often musician-to-musician magic happens. I made an exception this time because: 1) I had attended a Todd Snider concert at CPI's in Hampton Bays, LI in the late 90’s and have stayed a fan; 2) Da Capo Press had him in their catalog under “soon to be completed novel”; I requested a copy; 3) Read his very special stories of “life on the road."
I did some quick math on time zones. Yes, my interview segment usually begins at 1:30PM Eastern; but Todd is in Nashville. So … will this guy be in any shape (ESPECIALLY after reading his book!) for an interview at 12:30PM his time? Well, long story short, I had to “fill” for many minutes while they rousted this rascal from his slumbers. Good thing I had plenty of fine music to play – Todd Snider tunes of course!
He was great fun and told some of his stories from his recently released novel: “I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like … Mostly True Tall Tales.” He was totally honest about his preference for addiction over “recovering” and likewise about the stereotypes of backstage women - “groupies”. He has met some real characters on the road and has cast a very wide net that keeps him linked to many of them.
Todd set off, as a very young man, focused on being a music biz “lifer” – he loves the travel, the hotels, the venues and most importantly, the stage time, the applause. He loves an audience that knows his stuff; the ones that share or at least understand his progressive politics and lifestyle.
As a WUSB Spring Radiothon gift to the station, Todd is sending us an autographed copy of his book. First 50-buck donation at WUSB.fm wins the book!
Streets! Love ‘em, hate ‘em. The mind-numbing sameness in the burbs has finally pushed this car guy over the cliff. Sure I have access to some fine country roads, but day-to-day errand running is on the same boring and oftentimes dangerous strip of suburban sprawl. This was country when we moved here over 20 years ago!. I want OUT!! Time for an urban experience that takes advantage of great mass transit and “walkability”, one of the sub-topics today on “Everything is Broken.”
I interviewed John Massengale about his book “Street Design … The Secret To Great Cities and Towns” (Wiley Press). He defines walkability with some basic criteria, all starting with the street itself … is it safe from cars, crime; are there “eyes of the street” (windows facing sidewalk and people in there!). He also said that streets should be viewed as outdoor rooms: width of street proportional to the “walls” – people like shaped spaces. Trees help a great deal. People also want an interesting, short block; not some long expanse of wall, but shops and architecturally pleasing buildings. Research shows that people when showed a stretch of street will invariable pick the same spots they find pleasing. And for you capitalists out there: there is a marked increase in ROI (return on investment) for municipalities when the street has these and other features.
I asked John what his favorite street in North America is. Answer: Main Street, Nantucket, MA. His favorite in Manhattan (he lives there folks): it varies from time to time, but right now: Crosby Street/Howard St. Here is a general reference map, but I suggest you go to Google Earth street view and pan around. What do you think?
So today on “Everything is Broken” I tried to keep from being shrill. I chose silly old auto related music, eschewed a strong political theme, and chose an ostensibly more balanced and mentally healthy guest, one J. David Gray. Ok, health is relative.
David and I discussed Sonoma, California. We tried to go beyond the “wine country” label and focus on the history and uniqueness, the beautiful surroundings and the culture. While I was hoping for some war stories about his mid 70’s debauch entry into such a place, David did not disappoint in that he provided the listeners with a picture of Sonoma with breadth and depth. A very lovely little town in a very scenic valley in a very cool place that hasn’t changed so much that it is now a caricature of itself. Sonoma is real; so are the tourists. But enough about the tourists.
I was left wondering if perhaps it is time to move the show beyond the whining and the outrage. Is it time to hit the reset on the radio gig? It’s like what I say to my now very dear friends of the North Country Peace Group: “how are we doing!? We started off protesting a war (invasion of Afghanistan) and to date (13 years later) only more wars and more apathy and more counter demonstrators. Why are we still standing here?” So is the radio program getting anywhere? Are we really an outlet for alternative media? Are we presenting issues that the mainstream media deliberately ignores?
People that don’t wallow in the pathos of politics are truly turned off by passionate ideology; hell, so am I. But what about PASSION itself? hm? I’m passionate about a select few family members, photography, cars, cats, geography, travel and getting the hell out of the boring burbs. So crucify me! But enough about me.
So perhaps it all boils down to a matter of style. The USA culture is big on that I am told. Ok, the USA culture is big on style, appearance, fluff and not rocking boats – got it. We are a bit of an empty suit culture to begin with, eh? So should I be Mister Smooth; Mister Calm and Melllloooo? Time will tell. It was actually great having a leftover cold; there seemed to be a radio voice there – wow! Disease is good!
Ok, that’s it for my day in the office. Now back to mucking about and wondering why my office desk looks the very same as the one I left behind when I retired! Oy.
Oh, and I even figured out a way to work in the theme from Mister Ed. Take that!
Yesterday’s “Everything is Broken” tackled the sorry state of our media moonscape. All roads funnel into 6! Back in ancient times, 1993, 50 corporations had the lion's share of USA media; today it is 6. If Time-Warner and Comcast come together …
A documentary film is being shot at WUSB by Tony Salva – he was set up in the studio with me during the program and then did a more formal interview after. Mixed media indeed!
Back to that bleak road we are forced to travel … an informed electorate was considered a pillar of democracy when Sally Hemings’ pot farmer lover Tom Jefferson held sway. And I quote:
“I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree." --Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805. Well, I guess Rupert Murdock “to a certain degree” informs his readers of the WSJ, and mouth-breather viewers of Fox News, but that for another day.
My featured guests on the program represented the Long Island Media Task Force. They are doing everything they can to muster local resistance to the runaway corporate takeover of our society. I applaud their efforts.
I see 3 principal avenues of toxic fallout from media consolidation: 1. outright government and/or corporate propaganda; 2. corporate product marketing in drag: i.e. everything from product placement to story slant to VNR’s (video news releases that a corporation’s PR firm produced that is presented as “news,” often with video of a “reporter” on the scene); 3. the outright blackout of stories we really need to hear: e.g. Fukishima; the TPP; the drone wars; alternatives to capitalism. Im sure you can conjure up more categories for all of this. drop me a note with your thoughts!
The media mess is one area of “brokenness” that we all should be fighting. Do what you can locally; take mainstream corporate media with a grain of salt; find some online sources that are less ideologically filtered. Lets see if we can open our own roads to information, knowledge and the power that comes with that.
Mix your own media!
Hubris … a cultural tick? A byproduct of empire? The USA’s version is both in my opinion. Hubris is dangerous, as we learned with our slide into permanent war since invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. Hubris kills. But has there ever been an empire that acted any different? Comes with the territory (no pun intended).
“Everything is Broken” yesterday delved into hubris and then switched to a life saved by going against the cultural grain. Brad Willis, a.k.a. Bhava Ram was an international war correspondent for NBC News. He pushed thru a broken back for 7 long years; he was addicted to just about anything that could stop the pain. He was also diagnosed with Stage IV cancer (courtesy of the First Gulf War depleted uranium bombs). He told us his story and his climb out of the pit of despair and self-pity. He turned to Yoga and ancient healing arts like Aruveda. Now he teaches others how to heal themselves. He described his “Type A” personality and career arc; he resolved to work harder than anyone else. He soared high; he fell hard, broken. Check out his most recent book “Warrior Pose … a War Correspondent’s Memoir … How Yoga (Literally) Saved My Life", at his website.
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