July 2003 Archives

Anything smaller than an SUV is just plain un-American, says the Senate.

Washington - The Senate yesterday easily rejected an amendment to require the nation's car makers to boost the gasoline efficiency of their vehicles.
And Trent Lott (who certainly knows something about trying to overcompensate for a man's feelings of inadequacy) says, about DaimlerChrysler's tiny Smart car, one of the most brilliant automotive designs of our time, "Don't make the American people drive that little runt of a car."

In fact, contrary to the commercially-cultivated prejudices of the American consumer who will never feel, or in fact be, safe even in a Bradley tank, the Smart is one of the safest cars ever designed. DaimlerChrysler's site in the UK describes the design [click onto "safety"] here.

In fact I'm just crazy about the car, and my affection has little to do with its ability to withstand impacts - other than the impact of its own delicious appeal. If it sounds like I'm marketing this beautiful little car and its entire way of life, I am. The more people in the U.S. know about its virtues the sooner I may be able to drive one here.

Well, I can dream.

infectious image from the Brazilian site, Carsale

Mitchell's Home Delivery Service drops the NYTimes and Newsday (the latter is essential because it's more human and more Lefty than its big sister) in front of our door every morning (well, almost every morning). I'm pretty fussy, so there have been times when I had to call their office for one reason or another, but I've always been very impressed with the people at the other end, especially Maury.

I sometimes talk to Maury. Maury Gordon is actually the co-president of this scrappy little company, but not only does he know my account number by heart, he seems to know each of the carriers like sons and daughters, and he has actually delivered papers himself when some emergency or human failure meant there was no alternative. In our conversations Maury sounds like a Mensch.

I learned more about Mitchell's this week when the Daily News did a story on another aspect of the company's resourcefullness, and in doing so it filled in some of the blanks about its history. Now I had to look for more, and I found Mitchell's website. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised at the amazing diversity I found in the kind of people working at the top. Take a look for yourself at what I love about New York - Mitchell's included.

Steve Cosson has a mini-profile in today's NYTimes.

He was drawn not only to theater as a child but also to directing, getting his parents to act out bedtime stories. He and a playmate in elementary school wrote a play about Persephone's fall into the underworld. He wrote a play for his second-grade class. By third grade, he had won a playwriting competition sponsored by Children's Radio Theater in Washington, not far from his childhood home in Potomac, Md.

"It was agitprop," he said. "It was about an albino eagle whose parents die from DDT poisoning. But they wrote music for it and it was broadcast. It was the coolest thing that happened to me by the age of 8."

He plunged into the usual world of high school theater, although he acknowledges he is a mediocre actor. He perished on stage as Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet."

"I acted my heart out," he said. "Unfortunately, there was no way that scene was not going to evoke gales of laughter among my high school classmates."

He was in three productions of "The Music Man." But by college, convinced that life in the theater was a hobby, not a passion, he was studying to be a biologist. Unfortunately, he said, he went to Dartmouth, a place where he felt on the margins of campus life.

"I did not know there were people my age that actually supported Ronald Reagan," he said. "It was the height of the culture wars. I had no idea what this New England prep school thing was about. I was confronted with a narrow elitism that drove me back into the theater. By sophomore year, I was a theater major."

Steve remains as thoroughly committed politically as he is committed to theatre - but not as an actor, even if he's as much a delight to look at as he is to listen to. If you don't have the print edition, you'll miss out on the photograph which accompanies the article.

Steve's a beautiful and amazing phenomenon, but the Times piece hardly begins to describe the incredible theatre company which now gives expression to his energy and creativity. How many people would pick the shockingly-radical failed social and political phenomenon of the 1871 Paris Commune as a subject for a musical and still be able to retain the integrity and good conscience of the history?

"Paris Commune"

The Civilians performed the delightfully gentle and eccentric play alluded to in the closing lines of today's article, "Canard, Canard, Goose."

In the fall of 2001, The Civilians leave New York City to pursue a story about a Hollywood movie and a lost flock of carelessly imprinted geese resulting in an eclectic show about disorientation, misplaced empathy and coming home.
An audio clip is available here.

"Canard, Canard, Goose"

Barry and I are crazy about these people and this company, and we both shun traditional "musicals" like the plague. This is more than a recommendation; this is unconditional love.

"Gone Missing" opens October 9 at the Belt Theater in New York.

both go down here, but in the end Amy, the white knight on the left, was topped

We walked down to the Willamsburg shore yesterday afternoon and had a delirious good time as part of the 2003 Chunkathalon. By the organizers’ [C.H.U.N.K. 666] own description, the event was "a series of death-defying bicycle contests that purge the group of weaker members while amusing the survivors." No attitude, no swagger, and as some cute sage said yesterday, "bikes are for fun."

There are dozens of annotated images in this gallery.

Bloggy has much more. Don't miss the [teabagging] item at the bottom of his post.

We ran into Tom Moody on the field of honor yesterday. Tom has his own report, with still more pictures.

See this site for a report, with pix, on last year's event.

Who needs Chelsea, when you have ambisexuality, who needs cars when you have bikes, and who needs a summer getaway when you have North 7th Street?

And so to Relish, for dinner.

Oh, now there are more images available, on the yeabikes site, including this, of Zach:

The tattoo reads, "ONE LESS CAR" - but more Zach is good.

In today's The New York Times Magazine "The Ethicist" delivers the last word on behalf of New Yorkers who have just about had it with the assault of those infernal machines - and specificallly, the continuing outrage of on-street parking.

Two of my neighbors are in cahoots. When one pulls his car out of a spot, the other is always parked directly in front or behind and moves his car just enough to take up two spaces, so no other car can squeeze in. When the first car returns, the other moves back, restoring parking spots for both. Is it ethical for them to save spaces for each other, instead of leaving one for another parking-deprived New Yorker? Joseph A. Moskal, New York

If either of them were ethical, they wouldn't use private cars in Manhattan, a city with excellent public transportation. Why should the non-car-owning majority allow the car-owning minority to store their private property, i.e. cars, on public property at no charge? Why should my every walk to the store be akin to a stroll through a parking lot? Why should that majority be subject to the many costs and risks to health and safety attendant on the private car? I'm sorry: could you repeat the question?

AP image via dKos

Am I bad? When I saw this image, it didn't occur to me that the story was about desecration. I thought only of the outrageous presumption; it's his, so he can write whatever he wants on it, no?

They're back! Trisha Brown's magnificent "Winterreise" is being reprised in three performances next week. You won't need cold and snow to fall in love with the entire company. This creation is highly, highly recommended.

Full details.

Othniel "Niel" Boaz Askew
[Photo by Victor Carnuccio]

The story about Askew most people won't hear is in the Gay City News.

Emanuel Xavier is a gay poet and author who frequented many of the same nightclubs as Askew did back in the 1990s. This past December, Davis honored Xavier and other LGBT activists at the Councilmember’s Holiday Pride event at Long Island University. According to Xavier, around 1995, he and [Clifford Nass, Askew's roommate at the time] dated for several months, well before Askew’s 1996 arrest.

During his relationship with Nass, Xavier spent a considerable amount of time in the West 43rd Street apartment.

He recalled Askew as "an incredibly sweet person," saying that "the media is portraying him as a monster and he wasn’t one despite committing such an inhumane act."

. . . .

Despite Xavier positive recollections about Askew, he also recalled signs of a troubled side to the man.

"He had issues with being comfortable within his own skin," Xavier said. "He was concerned about his image. We often joked about how he was so white. In connecting with me as a person of color, I think he was trying to be comfortable with himself and always complimented me on being an out artist who was proud of who I was."

The two men maintained a casual acquaintance, running into each other occasionally at gay events.

"I ran into him on and off for the last several years," Xavier said. "The last time I saw him was last year at the Roxy. He looked really good."

Like [Victor Carnuccio, a friend of Askew's who had photographed him in 1992], Xavier noted that Askew had bulked up, with a noticeably muscular physique.

"It was a very brief conversation. He told me about going into politics," said Xavier. "When I read about Councilmember Davis threatening to out him it was so surprising because he was already so out and on the scene."

What's it all mean? I suspect there are more tales to be heard before this story dies.

We're free now, and some of us just won't shut up.

Is the story going to be "Wacko AIDS homo slays saintly populist in hallowed hall?" Or will it be, Homophobia helped to destroy two lives - again?"

Interesting developments available from the media today:

Askew's police record, supposedly sealed, was somehow made know to Davis.
Since his record was (supposedly) sealed, Askew purchased a gun legally .
The gun Askew used to kill Davis was bought in North Carolina.
Askew and Davis were allowed to skip the metal detectors.
The little girls with tiaras, there for a presentation, got screened.
"Court records" (still officially sealed) indicate Askew was HIV-positive.
Askew had once planned a modelling career - apparently with good reason.
Askew was beautiful.
His former lawyer describes Askew as "a charmer."
Askew may have thought the charming Davis had been flirting with him.

But see these commercial sites for the complete (sometimes hysterical) news stories:
Daily News

Need a lift, Lefty cynics? Look at Mark Morford's upbeat column today. I've been feeling it in my bones myself for a while, thinking at first it was the humidity. Things are happening. Although Morford warns it's not yet time for delicious plates of schadenfreude, we and the administration now know "Shrub's numbers are down."

This is what happens when it's all a house of cards.

This is what happens when you build your entire presidency on an intricate network of aww-shucks glibness and bad hair and cronyism and corporate fellatio and warmongering and sham enemies and economy-gutting policies and endless blank-eyed smirks that tell the world, every single day, whelp, sure 'nuff, the U.S. is full of it.

Orly Cogan "Michael" embroidery, paint on printed cotton fabric 18"x18"

Orly Cogan "Exposed" embroidery, paint on printed cotton fabric 18"x18"

Now I know why the crowd was not quite as intimidating as I had expected at the fabulous Reverend Jen's Troll Museum opening at Printed Matter last night!

It wasn't because of an interruption in L train service this time. ACRIA was holding a benefit and juried exhibition at Lehmann Maupin Gallery a few blocks away at the same time, and it wasn't just the free sparkling stuff in real glasses that had attracted the huge crowd.

They were almost giving away ($150, duh!) hot works by hot young artists picked by hot older artists - and for the benefit of a wonderful institution! Everyone wins.

We had forgotten the time-sensitive nature of the event, so we arrived after just about everything had been sold. Otherwise the two extraordinary Orly Cogan works reproduced above, which were scooped up in the first few minutes, might now be ours. Orly's third image, not reproduced here, was titled, "Puppy Love."

The art will remain on the walls of the gallery until August 2.

Steve and friends in an olive grove near Jayyous

Steve has been characteristically busy, but he writes home:

Qalqilya, Occupied Palestine
Thursday, July 24, 2003

On Monday night we learned that a time bomb had been
found by security near the farmers' gate, and was
detonated by the Israeli army. As a result, the area
around the gate was closed by the army and was
crawling with troops. We decided not to attempt
access to the lands west of the fence on Tuesday.
There has been speculation here that the Israeli army
planted the time bomb in order to justify widening
their off-limits zone on either side of the fence.

Tuesday morning, we participated in a demonstration
organized by all the political parties in Qalqilya in
support of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli
prisons. We started with a short talk at the Qalqilya
branch of the Palestine Prisoners' Association, a very
important group made up of former prisoners (i.e. just
about any Palestinian man) which provides support for
prisoners and for their families. They explained to
us that their current focus is to have 3 prisons
located on army bases (Howwara, Salem, and I can't
remember the third) closed because the conditions
there are so harsh as to violate not only
international law, but Israeli law as well.

The demonstration was in the Qalqilya demonstration
style: loud, colorful, and short. ISM was there with
banners and signs (a picture of us made it into the
Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam today), and we're told that
people were really happy to see us there. There was a
group of boys in front of us-little boys, not
teenagers-who were chanting energetically without
apparent adult guidance. I was struck by how these
boys see themselves as empowered members of the
resistance to Israeli occupation and injustice.

There were family members of prisoners at the demo
carrying photos of their imprisoned loved ones-some of
the people carrying photos were little kids.

The demo went from the city circle to the office of
the International Committee of the Red Cross/Geneva,
where Lysander and I joined the officers of the
various political parties and the head of the
Prisoners' Association to present letters to the ICRC
with our concerns. The ICRC representative was an
Australian who could only talk about ICRC policy,
passing on concerns to the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
offices, etc. The official meeting was interrupted by
some women who demanded to know why they were being
denied permits to visit their sons, and wanted to know
what ICRC was going to do about it. One has two sons
in prison, and had been denied a permit as a "security
risk". She wanted to know how she, an old woman,
could be a security risk? Another also had two sons
in prison, had been granted a permit to visit one, and
was deemed a security risk when she applied for a
permit to visit the other. She wanted to know how she
could be eligible for a permit for one visit, yet a
security risk for the other. They represented Israeli
policies about family visitation as cruel and
arbitrary, and expressed frustration at the ICRC's
apparent impotence.

In the afternoon, we met with Faris, the local
coordinator for a village called Mas'ha, and 5 from
our action group (3 from JAtO) volunteered to go there
for a couple of days. Mas'ha has hosted a peace
encampment along the fence for months now, and it has
become a place for Israelis, Palestinians and
internationals from all walks of life to come together
in dialogue and in opposition to the fence. The 5
return tomorrow, and I look forward to hearing more
about Mas'ha Camp.

I was talking with a little boy in front of our
building, and one of the adults pointed out to me that
his father was killed by the Israeli army. There are
6 children in the family.

Late in the evening, some local Muslim leaders came
over to talk with us about Islam. They are people who
dedicate their lives to the service of Allah and the
duty to be a good person, and I was thinking about how
painful it must be for them to hear Islam slandered by
political and religious leaders in the U.S., Israel,
and elsewhere. Their talk was a little too much like
a visit from the Jehovah's Witnesses for my taste, but
they were well-intentioned, and we had a good time
just shooting the breeze after they were done with
their spiel.

I was awakened at 3:00 yesterday morning by Jihad, a
young man who spends time with us internationals. He
was alarmed that Israeli army jeeps had entered the
city, and a couple of internationals walked him home.
We then bolted our door, and I didn't sleep very well
as I waited for the alarm to ring at 5:00. At 6:00
[the hours seem to be accidently transposed in these
few lines - JAW] I saw a jeep driving right near our
apartment, and quickly ducked inside.

I was up at 5:00 for attempt #3 to go out with the
farmers - successful this time!! There were no
soldiers or security at the farmers' gate, and we high
-tailed it into the fields west of the fence. We
ducked behind some trees as construction vehicles and
security sped past, and were not spotted.

We were horrified, however, to see that the Israeli
army had dug a trench between the gate and the road
from Qalqilya, and piled the dirt and boulders up
before the trench. Passage into the lands outside of
the fence, impossible by car, truck, or tractor for
months, is now impassable by donkey as well. Farmers
must bring in their crops on foot. Some of the trees
immediately west of the fence and its attendant jeep
road had been destroyed by a tank or a bulldozer.

Mohammad from the Peasants' Union took us around the
lands of Qalqilya and Jayyous all morning. We stopped
and talked with many farmers (and drank tea, natch).
The scene was idyllic - carob, loquat, orange, avocado,
fig, berry, and olive trees, grape vines, fields of
cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and
eggplant, lovely little farmers' day huts, and a huge
chicken house. But the idyll was marred by the fence,
this awful gash that cuts across Palestinian farmers'
lands. We passed many dried up fields and abandoned
greenhouses belonging to farmers who just can't get
through the security at the gate. We encountered
numerous road blocks; many dirt roads within this
agricultural area have been rendered impassable by the
Israeli army. Some of the lands are on the other side
of a settlement bypass road put in during the Oslo
process, and no Palestinian agricultural roads are
allowed to intersect with this Israeli-only West Bank
highway built on confiscated Palestinian land.

Farmer after farmer told us about the assaults on
their livelihood caused by the fence. One man has a
property that was cut in half by the fence. He used
to go from one olive grove to the next by walking a
few meters. Now he has to walk half an hour to the
farmers' gate, and half an hour back. Another has a
number of farm vehicles at home. He can get none of
them onto his land. He has to bring in his crops by
donkey cart, and then unload them by hand onto a
vehicle at the roadblock. Some farmers have taken to
sleeping in the fields during the week, because the
way home has now been made so circuitous and long. To
make matters worse, Israel has declared economic war
on Palestinian areas during this Intifada, no longer
allowing Palestinians to export, and using roadblocks
and checkpoints to impede commerce within Palestine.
Qalqilya was once the bread basket of the West Bank,
with exports to Jordan and Iraq as well. Now, all
produce goes to market in Qalqilya, at a fraction of
the price.

The attached photo shows me, Andrea from California,
and Eric from Sweden sitting with Mohammad and 3
farmers from Jayyous in an olive grove, talking about
the difficulties of harvesting caused by the fence.

We crossed back through the farmers' gate quickly and
without incident. There was a security vehicle there,
but no personnel. We went to the farm of Ziad, also
of the Peasants' Union, for lunch. He and his son
made a delicious feast for us, cooking everything with
vegetables he picked as he cooked. While we waited
for lunch to be ready, Mohammad told me about reading
Angela Davis's book about prison in the U.S. while he
was in prison in Israel, and talked about how similar
the conditions are. He also told me about the little
girl in Qalqilya who's named Angela, after Angela

Ziad's farm is breathtaking, but his property, which
used to extend further than it now does, is abruptly
cut off by the fence. The contrast between the beauty
of well-tended fields of tomatoes and cauliflower, and
rolls of accordion wire blocking entrance to the ditch
in front of the fence, is enough to make one cry.

Back in town, we visited a house that had been visited
during the night by the Israeli army (hence the jeeps
we saw). There were eleven people in the house: 3
women, one 13-year-old boy, and the rest little girls
(one a baby). We saw hundreds and hundreds of bullet
holes in the house outside and inside, including in
one of the women's dresses in her closet. It's a
miracle that no one was shot or killed, and I can't
imagine how frightened the children must have been.
One little girl (I can't say how old she is; I usually
underestimate the age of Palestinian children because
they look so small. Perhaps it's malnutrition?) was
eager to show us the damage, and they all welcomed the
attention. The teenage boy lay in a fetal position on
a mat, having had his stomach stomped on by Israeli
border guards in an attempt to force him to say where
they can find the man they were looking for. They
never found the wanted man, so they took another man
from the family, 26 years old, beat him, and arrested
him. He may be facing 6 months of administrative
detention now; under Israeli law, no charges have to
be laid for administrative detention to occur.

For the past 2 days our action group has been meeting
with community members about our proposed action at
the Qalqilya wall on Wednesday. This morning I
participated in meetings at the Palestine People's
Party with someone from the Farmers' Union, and at the
Chamber of Commerce with the Chamber's president.
Everyone has the same story - total economic devastation
as a result of closure and the wall. The rest of the
day has been preparation for the action - it's a giant
undertaking, but we hope it will be spectacular.
Tomorrow morning I'm off to document the plight of the
villages south of Qalqilya, which have themselves been
encircled by the wall.

Then President Bush's canon will come back to us: "You're either with us or with the terrorists." Those words hang in time like icicles. For years to come, butchers and genocidists will fit their grisly mouths around them ("lip-sync," flimmakers call it) to justify their butchery.

Arundhati Roy
September, 2002

And with that he closes for the night.

For more news, from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) site itself, see the story, "Palestinian Farmers Break Gate in the Wall."

[updated information added to the bottom of this post]

Only this time "cherchez l'homme" might be a more useful suggestion.

Neither James E. Davis (41) nor Othiel Boaz Askew (31) had ever married. Both were described as bright, attractive, smart dressers, ambitious, real talkers - and at least a little kooky.

Today the NYTimes capsule story on Askew reveals something missing so far from other accounts of yesterday's tragedy.

"The councilman [Davis] began to think of himself as something of a mentor to him," said Amyre Loomis, who was Mr. Davis's spokeswoman. Ms. Loomis said Mr. Askew had asked Mr. Davis to write a letter for him saying that Mr. Askew had a promising future in public service.

But according to a law enforcement official, Mr. Askew gave a very different version of events when he called in a complaint to the F.B.I. against Mr. Davis yesterday, claiming that Mr. Davis had threatened him.

James Margolin, a spokesman for the F.B.I.'s New York office, said yesterday: "Late this morning, a caller who identified himself as Askew alleged that he was the victim of harassment by Councilman Davis in connection with the upcoming primary election. He expressed no intention to cause harm to Councilman Davis."

According to the complaint, Mr. Askew and Mr. Davis took a walk together earlier this month through Fort Greene Park, and the councilman said he had done a background check on Mr. Askew that he claimed revealed that he was gay and that the information might be exposed in the race. Mr. Askew considered this a threat, the law enforcement official said.

Ooops! This just in.

Now NY1 tells us a little more.

Police said [Askew had] been arrested in the past, convicted of harassment in 1996 after hitting his live-in boyfriend with a hammer in a domestic dispute and leaving him bruised and bleeding. Askew was also charged in 1999 with stealing a leather bag from another male friend. Both incidents were in Manhattan.

colored pencil on paper (2002) [not in the current show]

I've been neglectful.

Almost didn't mention the wonderful review which Paul P.'s show at Daniel Reich received this past week from Holland Cotter in the NYTimes.

So I'll print the entire text to make up for the delay.

Paul P.
Daniel Reich
308 West 21st Street, 2A, Chelsea
Through Aug. 2

Paul P., who is based in Toronto, makes an attractive New York solo debut with this show of 20 colored-pencil portraits of young men. Seductive, reflective or goofy, the pictures look informal enough to have been taken from life, though each face comes from gay pornography of the 1970's and early 80's.

Paul P. has done much to aestheticize his subjects. The obvious model is Whistler, with his wispy touch and a Symbolist sensibility, though most of the Whistlerian effects are relegated to background elements: patterned wallpaper, flowers or shimmery curtains in bleached pink, sooty lavender and jaundice yellow. By contrast, the faces are rendered carefully and deliberately, with each beautiful feature and gauche flaw carefully observed, like those of Caravaggio's punk-angels.

Given the identity of Paul P.'s subjects — sexually active men at the beginning of the AIDS era — the drawings can't help seeming like memorial portraits. At the same time the work is different in tone from most art produced during the AIDS crisis. These aren't heroicizing or mournful portraits: however historically aware, they're secondhand, distanced, dandified and oddly unsensual, as if their homoeroticism was taken for granted, or beside the point, or part of some larger, still-developing content or style.

What the developments will be, I'm not sure. But place Paul P.'s work with that of other young artists like Christian Holstad, Assume Vivid Astro Focus (a k a Eli Sudbrack), Scott Hug, Asianpunkboy, Phiiliip, and Hiroshi Sunairi, to name just a few, and it seems clear that some new, multifarious version of "gay art" is in formation, just in time for this post-criminal, premarital, passively resistant gay moment.

Wispy Whistler and Caravaggio's punk-angels! Yea!

An elected lawmaker was shot dead today during a City Hall Council meeting in one of the most tightly guarded buildings in the most tightly guarded city in the most tightly guarded nation of the world.

We are told that New York has tough gun control laws, yet much of the rest of the country does not. There is no wall around New York.

We believe that New York is open to and loved by people from around the world, yet much of the rest of the country fears and hates those unlike themselves. Because of its importance as a symbol, New York has been and continues to risk being the primary target of a world angry with our disastrous foreign political and economic policy.

Today's deaths were not the work of a terrorist, but the circumstances which made them possible would work for anyone determined to wreak even the same or much greater havoc in another location tomorrow.

We could spend trillions (although we never will), but we still wouldn’t have security in our streets, our places of work, even our great monuments and institutions. The world can’t offer perfect security, but we would do far better, and at far less psychological, social and monetary cost, if we prevent easy access to firearms and if we begin to relate to the rest of the world with intelligence and justice.

We cannot continue to shoot each other to make us safe from guns, just as we cannot continue to bomb people to avoid the bombs of others.

And from Barry just now: "We don't believe in prevention, only punishment."

When war is created by a leader for his own purposes of revenge, greed or power, it is unspeakable, but we're Americans, and we're going to speak anyway. We can't help it.

No one could speak of the personal, American impact of this war more eloquently than Anne Hull and Tamara Jones do in a two-part series in the Washington Post this week. The still photographs and video which accompany the story on the Post's "Nation" page are ineffable.

For each antagonist, war wounds or destroys both individuals and societies. Viet Nam was horrible and stupid. Iraq is horrible and calculated. Calculated is worse.

Point of information: Worthy as any account of the cost of this war may be, I'm disturbed by the fact that most of the media seem to be concerned only with tabulating the cold numbers of [Americans] who have died in Iraq, before or even after "Mission Accomplished." The absurd impression is given that the casualty numbers are something like 150 (or 226), and everybody else is safe - and sound.

The military hospitals can't bury the injured, maimed and mentally deranged, even if we do.

And don't even mention the Iraqi dead and injured. Nobody here does, unless we've murdered someone in Bush's deck of playing cards.

This is barbarism.

Think about it.

Barry shot out, "It's no wonder this administration is opposed to the International Criminal Court!" Or any court, apparently.

For a take takes not in debt to any gosh darn mainstream media interest known to humanity, see dKos.

"Who's Unpatriotic Now?" asks Paul Krugman today. He's writing about the White House's appalling manipulation of the media, which means the manipulation of all of us of course, also the intelligence services, and, yes, the military, including every last young man or woman still at home or in danger abroad. "Support our boys," indeed!

Someone should finally ask "Why are they doing this?" any day now, but those who never bought the sales pitch and the lies in the first place already know perfectly well why. The wars were created in order to distract us all from the administration's domestic schemes, both their cynical successes and their miserable failures, and to finally secure the entire world for the same narrow purposes. These are wars for security indeed, the security of corporate America.

To illustrate dramatically the lengths to which Bush and his people will go to protect their inventions, Krugman ends his Op-Ed essay with the news, shockingly not reported anywhere else in the NYTimes today, but easily found elsewhere, that administration officials have disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. operative, Joseph Wilson's wife.

Mr. Wilson is the former ambassador who was sent to Niger by the C.I.A. to investigate reports of attempted Iraqi uranium purchases and who recently went public with his findings. Since then administration allies have sought to discredit him — it's unpleasant stuff. But here's the kicker: both the columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine say that administration officials told them that they believed that Mr. Wilson had been chosen through the influence of his wife, whom they identified as a C.I.A. operative.

Think about that: if their characterization of Mr. Wilson's wife is true (he refuses to confirm or deny it), Bush administration officials have exposed the identity of a covert operative. That happens to be a criminal act; it's also definitely unpatriotic.

So why would they do such a thing? Partly, perhaps, to punish Mr. Wilson, but also to send a message.

And that should alarm us. We've just seen how politicized, cooked intelligence can damage our national interest. Yet the Wilson affair suggests that the administration intends to continue pressuring analysts to tell it what it wants to hear.

The article in Newsday today reminds us that in uncovering her name, including her maiden name, and her security position, the administration officials responsible may have endangered the career of Wilson's wife, Valerie Palme, "and possibly the lives of her contacts in foreign countries."

. . . .

"If what the two senior administration officials said is true," Wilson said [He has quite properly refused to confirm his wife's employment.], "they will have compromised an entire career of networks, relationships and operations." What's more, it would mean that "this White House has taken an asset out of the" weapons of mass destruction fight, "not to mention putting at risk any contacts she might have had where the services are hostile."

Sure sounds like the Constitutional definiton of treason, especially as understood by the gung-ho Radical Right: "treason n the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of one's country or of assisting its enemies in war"

The 47-story 7 World Trade Center greatly reduced

Is Larry Silverstein a greedy man interested in power and fame? Or is he just trying to do his sad little thing again?

Monday’s front page NYTimes article tells us that Larry Silverstein now has control over what happens at the site of the World Trade Center. Later in its text we are told that Silverstein annoys a lot of important people because he has a tin ear for political discourse. But his affliction is much more serious. He has a tin soul. He certainly has a tin aesthetic.

I read a lot about what’s happening in New York, but I have an additional connection with Mr. Silverstein. I worked in an office high in 7 World Trade Center for about a dozen years. That building, which collapsed the afternoon of September 11, was Silverstein’s personal flagship before he acquired the lease to the Twin Towers 6 weeks earlier.

7 World Trade, which was across the street from the two Trade Center towers themselves, fell most likely as a consequence of the combustion of fuel stored for emergency generators designed as a backup for his friend Mayor Giuliani’s suspiciously ill-conceived high-tech 23rd-floor [sic] emergency command bunker. But no one talks about the fact that Silverstein, in his anxiety to attract Solomon Brothers as his prime tenant, had the entire 43rd floor removed after the building was completed in order that a trading floor could be constructed as part of their occupancy, with unknown consequences for the integrity of the building when put under severe stress. But what do I know?

What I do think I know is that Silverstein should be perhaps a building superintendent or possibly the owner of a chain of dry cleaning establishments. He should not be the arbiter of taste or design for what is arguably the most important site and the most important building project of our time.

Like his family’s nemesis, Donald Trump, Silverstein is not a self-made man. He started not at the bottom, but somewhere near the upper middle, and managed to advance only to the upper reaches of the upper middle, at least until just before the disaster which destroyed all of his showy real estate.

7 World Trade was a machine, an ugly monstrosity. The building had not even opened when its lobby was chosen as stand-in for the fictional inhuman Wall Street high-rise office building in Oliver Stones’ film “Wall Street.” If you know anything about the film, you know this was a very appropriate location choice.

Everything about the environment of 7 World Trade was repellant, but somewhere along the line a curator must have persuaded Silverstein to decorate his repellant lobbies with painting and sculpture from significant, even great, contemporary American artists. Then Larry destroyed this worthy impulse by installing a number of kitschy, junky, iron-man, submissive-woman and Amerindian-racist sculptures in the same areas. I can confirm it was Silverstein’s doing, and that it was work by a friend of his, someone he was said to admire. I made inquiries at the time they appeared in the lobbies, I was so amazed that they were there – that they could even exist in public in New York City at the end of the 20th century. These uglies were finally removed several years before September 11. The Held, Lichtenstein, Nevelson and others were destroyed along with the building.

Silverstein has been tolerated in or advanced to the importance he occupies in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site only because for various reasons he appears to be in a position to get things started in time to satisfy the agenda of those who need something started right now. Bloomberg, Pataki, the national Republican Party and any number of commercial and political interests in New York and elsewhere are concerned not with the social, moral or aesthetic values of whatever takes shape west of lower Church Street, but with the political and financial opportunities early construction will offer them.

Silverstein is paying $120 million in rent to the Port Authority each year, but he receives no income from the 16-acre site. Silverstein wants to build – now. That’s all he’s concerned about. There is not one word in the Times article that suggests he has any other interest.

His motive is not patriotism or altruism, and I don’t think the man is looking for power, fame or even more fortune. He and his financial backers have an investment, and they want it to pay off. That's his job. It's business - as usual. All right, Silverstein is 72, and I’m sure he’d be in a hurry for that reason alone, even if he didn’t believe lots of huge, new, dreary office buildings would suitably crown a quite ordinary career. There is no time or room for beauty, vision, or greatness of any kind in this kind of deal.

If Larry Silverstein retains control of "ground zero," New York and the entire world is a loser.

removing a roadblock*

Steve writes from Jenin.

Jenin, West Bank, Occupied Palestine Sunday, July 20, 2003

On Wednesday evening in Qalqilya, we ISM folks were
invited to meet with representatives of the
organizations that comprise the PLO in Qalqilya. They
were all middle-aged men, and all had done time in
Israeli prisons (as has Marwan, our local coordinator,
as have most Palestinian men in the occupied
territories). Each of them spoke about the misery of
occupation, the falseness of Israel's peace
negotiations, and the Palestinian determination to
resist. We threw out a few ideas about direct action
that we can participate in alongside the community,
and there will be more meetings to knock around some

The meeting was followed immediately by a second
meeting, with representatives of the farmers' union.
We spoke about the roadblocks on the road to orchards
within the fence, difficulty in access to their land
outside the fence, irrigation lines being cut by the
workers constructing the fence, and so on. I thought
about the day last fall when Lysander and other ISM
folks were asked by the farmers to join them in
witnessing the destruction of their fruit trees to
clear a path for the fence. She described how some of
the farmers cried and had to be led away.

We decided that we will go out into the fields and the
orchards with the farmers on Sunday to work alongside
them and to witness the difficulties they encounter.
Then we'll sit with them that evening to decide what
needs to be done in Qalqilya.

In a third meeting on Wednesday night (oy), this time
just ISM, we decided who would replace the interim ISM
international coordinator in Qalqilya, since she's
leaving this weekend. Lysander and I volunteered to
share the role.

Thursday morning, we returned to court in Tel Aviv for
the deportation hearing of the 8 ISM internationals
arrested in Jenin and Nablus. They had 4 of the top
human-rights lawyers in Israel, and a packed court of
international and Israeli supporters. The court
officers kept many of the supporters in the hallway
throughout the proceeding, even though there were
empty seats in the courtroom.

Our lawyers pointed out that the 2 Israelis arrested
with the 8 internationals were released almost
immediately, that the arrests were illegal, that the
facts alleged were contradictory. They produced
affidavits in support of ISM from Member of Knesset
Yossi Sarid and from Terri Greenblatt of Bat Shalom.
They showed that while the Ministry of the Interior
was alleging that ISM interferes with the activities
of the army, endangering themselves, soldiers, and the
Israeli public, they offered no evidence to show that
the 8 defendants interfered with the army in any way.

The judge upheld the Ministry's deportation order
anyway, and agreed with the Ministry's
characterizations of ISM. He also denied a one-week
stay of deportation while an appeal is filed in the
Israeli Supreme Court.

We spent last night in Jerusalem. The pedestrian
mall in West Jerusalem was packed, because it was
Thursday night (everything's closed Friday night for
the Jewish Sabbath), and because there is a currently
a cease fire between the Israeli army and Hamas,
Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.
Everyone entering the outdoor mall had to be
thoroughly checked by one of a legion of security
guards. I found it pretty scary. I also thought that
the Israeli peace movement ought to do an action
there, hanging banners on the barricades that point
out that it's the Occupation that makes metal
detectors on a city street necessary.

I was with Lisa, from JAtO, who doesn't read Hebrew,
so I was translating the graffiti and political
posters on the walls for her. They were uniformly
right wing, and said things like "Kahane was right",
"Jordan is the Palestinian state", and "Oslo proves:
it's forbidden to give them a state." There was even
graffiti on the walls of the Old City. (To be fair,
there's lots of graffiti in Palestinian communities
throughout the West Bank, and I usually can't read
what it says.)

The previous week when I was in West Jerusalem, I saw
a number of young men who appeared to be Arab pulled
aside by police, apparently based on looks alone, to
have their IDs scrutinized and to be questioned about
their activities.

While in Jerusalem, I got a call from the ISM people
who had returned to Qalqilya from Tel Aviv. They were
absolutely denied entry to Qalqilya via the
checkpoint; apparently, the Israeli army wants the
50,000 people of Qalqilya, entirely surrounded by the
wall/fence, to be cut off from the outside world. Our
people ended up crawling under a locked farmers' gate
in a part of the fence away from the checkpoint, in
the dark. It remains to be seen how this will play
out, but it looks like our mobility in and out of
Qalqilya is going to be very limited.

Friday morning, 3 of us from the Qalqilya crew
traveled from Jerusalem to Jenin to help out with an
action. Getting from Jerusalem to Jenin was a 45
minute drive once upon a time, but now that a network
of settler roads has been built in the West Bank and
declared off limits to vehicles with Palestinian
license plates (while West Bank cities are off limits
to vehicles with Israeli license plates), the trip
involves a long detour through the Jordan Valley, many
humiliating checkpoints, and 3 hours' travel time.
One of the passengers in our van was a young man from
Jerusalem who is a student at the Arab-American
University in Zababde, a village near Jenin. His
Jerusalem ID means he is seen as an Israeli by the
authorities, so each week when he goes to school, he
gets stopped at the last checkpoint and told that he
mustn't go to Jenin "for his own safety". The delay
caused by the soldiers checking his ID led the driver
to leave without him, stranding him at the checkpoint.

We got to Birqin, near Jenin, just in time to
participate in a roadblock removal*. Lots of men and
boys from the village, as well as the ISM crew from
Jenin, converged on the giant dirt mound with a front
loader, pick axes, and shovels. If you look carefully
at the attached photo, you'll see two people hanging
off the sides of the front loader. Those are ISM
internationals there to protect the front loader from
confiscation, and the driver from arrest. My job was
to eavesdrop on the soldiers communicating with one
another, since I understand Hebrew, while another
international negotiated with them in English.
Fortunately, I had nothing to do, since the army never
showed up. The roadblock that the army built is gone,
and the drive from Birqin to Jenin is once again 5
minutes, instead of 40.

After the successful action, we spent time at the home
of Moayed, an organizer in Birqin. We were served tea
and coffee, of course, and listened to Moayed and his
family play the oud and sing songs of Palestinian
liberation. His teenage daughter recited a poem about
Palestine that made a Palestinian-American ISM member
cry. It was great chatting with Moayed; he spoke with
me about the need for coexistence of Jews and
Palestinians in this land, and about how the Torah and
the Qur'an are both used to justify exclusive rights
to the country.

We proceeded to the ISM apartment in Jenin. The walls
of Jenin are covered with martyr posters (anyone who
has died in the struggle is called a "martyr" in
Palestine), from Rachel Corrie to civilians shot by
Israeli soldiers in Jenin to fighters who died
defending Jenin from Israeli invasion to suicide
bombers. One sees these posters in every Palestinian
community in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but
they're particularly plentiful here. I am sorry that
bombers get the same status as other people who resist
the Occupation; personally, I'm convinced that the
bombings are reprehensible as well as
counterproductive. I worry about them when I'm in Tel
Aviv, Haifa, or West Jerusalem (I never ride buses),
and my friend Shanka in Tel Aviv narrowly missed
getting killed in a bus bombing a year ago. I think
it's important to remember, however, that there were
almost no bombings when the peace process was on track
in the '90s, that the bloody Israeli army assault on
unarmed Palestinian resistance in September, October
and November of 2000 preceded any of this Intifada's
bombings, and that Israeli army targeting of
Palestinian civilians has killed 3 times as many
people as the bombings have. So while I disagree (to
put it mildly) with anyone who sees the bombers as
people to be admired for sacrificing themselves for
their people, I think it's clear that the way to end
the bombings is to end the Occupation. (The Israeli
Knesset this past week reaffirmed that the West
Bank-"Judea and Samaria" in their Biblical view-is not
occupied territory, that settlement expansion must
continue, and that Israel must control all the land
west of the "security fence", even though that land is
in the West Bank and represents vital Palestinian land
and water resources.)

The ISM folks in Jenin tell me that the Israeli army
has been going into Jenin Refugee Camp at night,
destroying the building materials that the U.N. is
using to try and rebuild the community that was
bulldozed by the army in April of 2002.

I had a good discussion tonight with folks in Jenin
about their upcoming actions in and around the city,
and how we might proceed in Qalqilya. The conditions
in walled-in Qalqilya are very difficult for people
who live and work there, and for internationals trying
to support non-violent resistance there. The people
there have welcomed internationals in solidarity with
them, but I think we all feel a little stymied by
being caged up. We'll see what we can accomplish.

The trip Saturday morning from Jenin to Qalqilya was
another exercise in roadblocks, humiliating
checkpoints, and 5 shared taxis for what should have
been 1 short trip. The racism at the checkpoints was
blatant; at one point all the Palestinian men in the
car were forced to get out and stand in the sun while
their IDs were checked. I was allowed to sit in the
car with the women. No soldier asked spoke to me or
looked at my passport to ascertain who I was; I was
apparently judged not in need of checking by virtue of
my appearance alone.

We finally got to Qalqilya, and did manage to talk our
way in through the checkpoint. We had a few things
going for us: we were a small group (only 3), we had a
Palestinian-American with us who could claim to have
family in Qalqilya, and the District Commanding
Officer who has ordered internationals kept out of
Qalqilya wasn't there because it was Saturday.
Nevertheless, we got in by the skin of our teeth.

While we waited and haggled at the checkpoint, I
observed the soldiers' interactions with Palestinians
requesting permission into the city. They were spoken
to and manhandled in a way that the soldiers would
never dare with us, another manifestation of racism
run amok. The soldier with whom we were negotiating,
who was friendly to us and sympathetic, left for a
moment, transformed from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. Hyde,
and screamed at some boys on a donkey cart. Another
soldier went through a young man's pockets without
speaking to him about it first, in order to see if he
had another form of ID. I couldn't imagine him doing
that to me.

On Sunday morning we went out to the farmers' gate in
the fence. The idea was to spend a day with farmers
working in their fields and orchards and observing the
ways in which the fence is disrupting their
livelihood. Agriculture has become a central source
of income since Palestinians' travel to their jobs in
Israel was banned, and since Israeli shoppers stopped
coming to Qalqilya.

One can no longer bring a car, truck or tractor into
the Qalqilya fields and orchards outside of the fence.
The army blocked the way to the gate with boulders
and a mound of dirt, so that one can only travel on
foot or, with difficulty, by donkey. The impact of
this demechanization on Qalqilya farmers' ability to
extract income from their fields is obvious.

We walked through the gate with Shukri, an AP
photographer who is a Qalqilya resident and some
farmers. We were stopped by the private armed
security (from a company called Ari) who work for the
companies contracted to build the fence for the
Israeli government. They were very aggressive and
caused all the farmers except one to turn back and try
again later. We ignored them and walked into the
lands beyond the fence with a farmer named Khaled.

Khaled pointed out how many of the plots were
neglected since September 2002 when this part of the
fence went up. Under the Ottoman land laws, which
Israel uses to confiscate Palestinian land, property
belongs to the state if it is uncultivated for 3 years
in a row. The state's role in preventing cultivation
is not a mitigating factor in the eyes of the Israeli
legal system. The Israeli government then turns the
land over to the Jewish National Fund, whose charter
says that the land is held in perpetuity for the
Jewish people, making it technically illegal for
non-Jews, even non-Jewish Israelis, to rent or live on
that land. (The heavily fortified Border Police post
at the Qalqilya checkpoint has a sign denoting that
it's on JNF land. Not what I had in mind when I put
my allowance in those little blue boxes as a kid.)

Israeli soldiers in a Hummer followed us up the path
among the fields, and forced us to leave. We tried to
negotiate to let us stay and work with the farmers for
the day, but they said they were calling the Border
Police to come and arrest us. Again: apartheid. They
said that the farmer could proceed to his fields (his
wife and children already had), but they were intent
on keeping us apart from them.

One of the soldiers freaked when we walked back
through the gate into Qalqilya. I guess they thought
we'd walk alongside the gate on their jeep road until
we got to a checkpoint, or until the Border Police
came along and arrested us. They REALLY don't want us
in Qalqilya. They didn't follow us in, however. I
think they need fairly high level orders to come
inside the cage. They did stop Shukri, and took his
ID and press pass (Palestinians can be arrested for
not carrying ID). Shukri went to the District
Commanding Officer later, who returned his ID, but
said he'd need the name of the soldier in order to
file a complaint aimed at getting back his press pass.

This morning we tried again to go out with the farmers
(they hadn't expected that we'd come back). We
arrived at the gate at 6:15 on the assumption that the
workers constructing the fence wouldn't be at work
yet, and therefore security wouldn't have arrived.
What we found was a tank, a jeep, and some soldiers,
waiting apparently for us. Some farmers got there at
the same time, and were allowed through by the
soldiers. We of course did not attempt to cross, and
I'm really disappointed that the army has so far been
successful at separating us from the farmers.

Israeli army jeeps came into Qalqilya today and
arrested someone-I don't know the details.
International activists and local residents in the
nearby village of Jayyous had an action today at which
they went to the fence and threw food and supplies
over to a Bedouin family trapped by the fence and
unable to reach Jayyous themselves.

We're working hard on our upcoming wall actions-July
28 in Jenin, July 29 in Tulkarm, July 30 here, and
July 31 in Mas'ha. We have to find a way to bring the
world's attention to the fence and what it's doing to

That's all for now. Peace.


Sunday, back on the river.

The chain link separates him from the batting machine, the strap is not a brassiere, but it sure is sexy, and bike shorts* seldom looked better.


Sorry he's a bit blurry, but we were both turning, I had only one arm on the handlebars, and both eyes behind the camera. It still seemed worthwhile.

Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park, July 20, 2003

I ran up along the west side of Manhattan on my bright-green shamefully under-utilized two-wheeler this afternoon. Along the way I spotted a delightful variety of approaches to the concept of urban transportation.





resting (sort of an exception to the transportation theme)

skateboarding (or with intentions - maybe he's kayaking))

wading, and then finally

bicycling, like meself, but looking very, very pretty, and waving to everyone along the way

If you missed the birth of Abstract Expressionism, Op Art, Pop Art, Minimalism, the rise of Conceptual and Process Art, The New Realism, even Grafitti Art, all because you weren't born yet (or maybe because your parents weren't born yet!) or just because you were elsewhere engaged, don't miss this one. Stop by John Connelly Presents tomorrow evening and be a part of your time.

It doesn't have a name yet, and that's probably a very good thing, but in the NYTimes on Friday Roberta Smith tried to describe the current unfolding arts phenomenon. She did alright.

Group shows are proliferating all over town, especially in Chelsea, with more opening this week and next. But the energy of this year's explosion transcends format. New York seems to be having a Summer of Art not unlike the 1967 Summer of Love in its liberating effects. Mark my words, or those of an astute junior observer who simply termed it "our June 2003 moment." Whatever, it's still going strong this weekend with an array of artworks, curatorial ideas and aesthetic developments that reveal the quickening, centrifugal vitality of contemporary art, a result of several combustible collisions or collusions.

One way to put it is that the "Return of the Real," as the critic Hal Foster noted in the late 1980's, is being met head on by the "Return of the Formal," most visibly in the prominence of saturated color that runs through these shows like a radiant thread (as it does through this year's Venice Biennale).

From another angle, the counterculture and avant-garde tendencies of the late 60's and early 70's continue their fruitful interaction. That is, the handicrafts, scavenging, sexual openness, psychedelic palette, body decorations and druggy spirituality of the hippie era are being given backbone by the reductivist tendencies, material eccentricities and political consciousness of Conceptual Art and Process Art.

Design and architecture are part of the mix, as are continuing variations on Grafitti Art. There is a fuller embrace of the Pleasure Principle, which is perhaps the most important legacy of popular culture. Artists want to have fun, but not just fun. Call it responsible hedonism. Op Art's revenge.

Implicit is a free-flowing equality of media, mixed or unmixed. Video has assumed the very position into which it forced painting in the late 1980's: it is now one among many means of expression. Artists are developing so many distinctive and individual ways of working with it that often you barely see it anymore. Finally, in all mediums, collage, sampling, appropriation, bricolage, recycling — call it what you will — continues to mutate and expand as an artistic strategy, an ecological statement and a metaphor for inclusiveness.

John Connelly opens a very special group show tonight at 6 o'clock, called "Today's Man." You won't be able to get into the gallery space itself if you're shy about human contact, but the huge hot and happy crowd will hold down the hall as well, so you won't be lonely.

From John's press release:

"Today's Man" is an exhibition of mostly small works on paper and canvas (paintings, collages, drawings etc. but no photography) and consists solely of representations of men by male artists. The relatively small scale of the works (almost all are less than 18 x 18 inches) is a purposeful inversion of what one might normally associate with the stereotype of the patriarchal grand canvas.
So maybe it's ok if it's just about guys this time.

Ajax drags Cassandra from the Palladium before the eyes of Priam (Roman wall painting, Pompeii, House of Menander)

He's back. I posted something from Sheldon S. Wolin just two months ago, but since he just may be our Cassandra I thought another hearing was in order.

If the administration hasn't changed in the interim, perhaps the country has. In May Wolin's words were found in the lefty [by U.S. standards] Nation. This month they appear in a mass-circulation daily, Newsday. Excerpts:

No administration before George W. Bush's ever claimed such sweeping powers for an enterprise as vaguely defined as the "war against terrorism" and the "axis of evil." Nor has one begun to consume such an enormous amount of the nation's resources for a mission whose end would be difficult to recognize even if achieved.

Like previous forms of totalitarianism, the Bush administration boasts a reckless unilateralism that believes the United States can demand unquestioning support, on terms it dictates; ignores treaties and violates international law at will; invades other countries without provocation; and incarcerates persons indefinitely without charging them with a crime or allowing access to counsel.

. . . .

In institutionalizing the "war on terrorism" the Bush administration acquired a rationale for expanding its powers and furthering its domestic agenda. While the nation's resources are directed toward endless war, the White House promoted tax cuts in the midst of recession, leaving scant resources available for domestic programs. The effect is to render the citizenry more dependent on government, and to empty the cash-box in case a reformist administration comes to power.

Americans are now facing a grim situation with no easy solution. Perhaps the just-passed anniversary of the Declaration of Independence might remind us that "whenever any form of Government becomes destructive ..." it must be challenged.

[image from VRoma]

Jasper Johns, "White Flag" (1955) Metropolitan Museum of Art

Some day, when we stop shaking in our boots in fear, we'll realize just what evil we have done in the name of September 11. While history doesn't give us much reason to seriously believe that anyone in a position of power will pay for his or her crimes [remember Vietnam], some of us already already know that their victims here and abroad already have, and that they will continue to be paying forever.

But we ourselves should not be able to simply point fingers, now or on some hoped-for day of redemption. A letter to the NYTimes today is a sober reminder that not all of the guilty sit in Washington.

To the Editor:

Re "16 Words, and Counting," by Nicholas D. Kristof, and "Pattern of Corruption," by Paul Krugman (columns, July 15):

Mr. Kristof and Mr. Krugman make strong arguments about the deception tainting the White House, and rightly so.

But there's another party that should not be let off the hook: the American public.

When most of the deception by the Bush administration and the intelligence communities was lauded as truth and reinforced by the media, despite the numerous reports and intelligence stating otherwise, most Americans took the lies at face value, without questioning their validity.

Worse, many Americans chided and dismissed those who called for truth and reason.

True, as Mr. Krugman writes, Iraq "didn't have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn't supporting Al Qaeda," but that didn't stop many Americans from thinking otherwise.

Those who substituted liberty for a blind patriotism are as much at fault as those who perpetrated deception.

Jersey City, July 16, 2003

I read this to Barry this morning. His immediate retort: "We're 'good Germans.'"

Three months ago Harley Sorensen explained what what a "good German" was.

One of life's mysteries, for me, is how masses of people can do the incredibly cruel things they do. Individual brutality makes a certain amount of sense in that it's limited to one person. But mass brutality?
I think this subject first came to mind after I read Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, A History of Nazi Germany.

There was nothing in either book that told me how such a highly civilized and culturally advanced nation as Germany could sink to the level of the Nazis.

"How could that happen?" I wondered.

"What is there about the Germans that allowed them to become the monsters they became? How are they different than the rest of us?"

So I spent a month pondering the question.

The answer I came up with satisfied me then, and it satisfies me still: There is nothing different about the World War II Germans. What happened to them could happen to anyone. It could happen to us. We are no better than them.

. . .

The formula to become a brutish leader, as Jean-Marie Le Pen proved recently in France, is a two-step process. First, you convince the masses they are in grave danger (Le Pen used immigrants as his boogie man), then you promise to save them.

That's exactly what Hitler did, and it's exactly what Bush and Sharon are doing.

. . . .

It's the fear factor, I believe. They go against their basic decent instincts and support a brutal regime for fear of being criticized or ostracized as traitors. Peer pressure.

You see the same thing with Americans' blind support of Bush's war policies.

"If you're not for us, you're against us," Bush said, immediately making sheep out of otherwise hard-nosed, independent-thinking Americans.

Driven by fear, masses of people can do horrible things. Now is a good time to recall the admonition of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said:

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Roosevelt's warning was about the Great Depression, but the words are appropriate now. Fear can turn us all into "good Germans." We must resist it. We must not let it turn us into sheep.

Things are just not going well for the White House. Nothing is being handled well. This has been the case for almost three years now, but finally people are beginning to notice.

Barry suggests that any day now we can expect the terror alert will be raised to orange [where it's been in New York City ever since September 11].

[photo image Courtesy of E.J. Fischer and the Propaganda Remix Project]

Steve reports on his last 6 days in Palestine and Israel.

The subjects, in order, include Ramallah, Black Laundry, checkpoints, "refuseniks," his new all-gender affinity group "faygelach," a Tel Aviv court, the farming village of Jayyous, the Apartheid Wall, aquifers, Qalqilya, the wonderful and sad Amal Society for the Deaf, "extrajudicial executions," and his friends's chagrin about being generously feted rather than actively useful in the communities so far.

Qalqilya, occupied Palestine
Wednesday, July 16, 2003

We went to Ramallah on Friday and Saturday for ISM
training. To get into Ramallah from Jerusalem, we had
to pas through the Qalandia checkpoint. The
checkpoint is a huge affair, with giant concrete
blocks arranged into mazes for incoming and outgoing
people, lots of Israeli soldiers scrutinizing people
passing through, and an Israeli sniper tower overhead.
Where once people could just drive between Jerusalem
and Ramallah, two of the most important cities and 20
minutes apart, there are now giant clogged parking
fields at either end for the taxis taking people to
and from the checkpoint. We got through without any
problem because they were only checking people leaving
Ramallah on Friday, but the whole experience was
incredibly stressful. I can't imagine what it's like
for people who live in Ramallah.

There were about 25 of us trainees, from the U.S.,
Scotland, England, France, and Canada. Quite a few of
us were Jewish, including one Israeli-American and one
Orthodox woman.

Our trainers were a member of Jews Against the
Occupation/New York and a member of the Michigan Peace
Team. They facilitated role play and discussion about
commitment to non-violence, how to de-escalate in the
face of settler and soldier violence, how to protect
Palestinians and ourselves non-violently, what to do
if arrested, and so on.

George Rishmawi, a co-founder of ISM from the
Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between Peoples
in Beit Sahour, Palestine, talked with us about the
history of non-violent resistance in Palestine and
about Palestinian cultural norms in the communities in
which we will live and work.

A member of Black Laundry, Israel's gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgendered activists against the
Occupation, talked about his military service in the
Occupied Territories and Lebanon, and why he now
prefers to serve time in a military prison rather than
serve the reserve duty required of every Israeli
Jewish man until age 55. While in prison, he met one
active duty soldier who was in prison for 6 months for
smoking a joint, and another who was in for one month
for killing an elderly Palestinian civilian. The
death had been deemed an accident, but the prisoner
said that his commanding officer knew that he had
killed the old man on purpose. He also met fellow
"refuseniks" who had served their active duty during
the Intifada of the late 80s and early 90s. He said
that they were gentle, intelligent, educated men who
had never talked about the things they had done in the
army, not even to their wives, until their time in
prison with him. He was amazed at the terrible things
they had done, and the trauma they were still living

Neta Golan, an Canadian-Israeli co-founder of ISM who
now lives in Nablus with her Palestinian husband and
their baby came to speak with us, baby in tow, about
arrests, deportations, and legal issues. She also
spoke about the weaponry that the Israeli army uses
against peaceful protest, and how to respond safely to
tear gas, sound grenades, rubber bullets, moving
vehicles, shooting over out heads, and live fire aimed
at demonstrators. (The way to respond safely to live
fire is to remove oneself from the situation

Two Palestine activists from New York helped us work
on how to use the media to get the message out.

Ramallah is a bustling, prosperous town, now that it
is not under Israeli military curfew, although one
must still pass through Israeli checkpoints (more like
choke points) to get there. We had a nice time there
on Friday evening, eating shawarma and ice cream, and
visiting an Internet café.

By the time we left, our affinity group had
crystallized. An affinity group is a small group of
activists who know one another well and trust one
another, who work as a unit in planning and
implementing direct action. There are 6 of us in my
affinity group, all from New York, all of whom have
organized together before, and we named our mostly
queer, mostly Jewish group Faygelach for a Free
Palestine (faygelach is Yiddish for faggot, although
we intend it to mean queers of all genders). For the
JAtO and DAP folks on this list: the group is me,
Eric. Lisa B., Amy Laura, Ady and Lysander. Dena will
be joining us in a few days, Ryan a week after that,
and Gabriel from DAP in early August. We are hoping
that Ora and Ramzi will be joining us as well.

Leaving Ramallah was a little tricky, because the
Israeli soldiers suspected that our Israeli-American
member was Israeli. She pretended not to understand
Hebrew, and was eventually waved through despite her
lack of a visa. Our taxi was then stopped at a
traffic checkpoint, where the soldiers said they were
going to hold us for a while so they could check out
the two of us with U.K. passports. Must have had
something to do with the guy they were looking for in
the West Bank, who's a peace activist, but who the
authorities are claiming is an IRA bomb maker.
(Thankfully, he has no connection to ISM; I'm sure
they'd love to use him to smear us.)

On Sunday, a large number of ISM activists, consular
officials, and Israeli peace activists went to court
in Tel Aviv for the trial of 8 ISM activists awaiting
deportation. (The American, French, Swedish, Danish,
and British consulates were all contacted because the
arrestees come from all those countries. Only the
Swedes and Danes bothered to show up to support their
citizens.) The judge was clearly impressed to see a
full courtroom; deportation proceedings usually
involve workers from Nigeria, Thailand, and other
Third World countries who have replace Palestinian
menial labor in Israel since the Intifadas. They
usually sit in prison while their deportations are
adjudicated in writing.

The case has been put off for a few days or longer,
and the 8 young men continue to be held in the police
station at Ariel, one of Israel's illegal West Bank
settlements. We did win a preliminary injunction
preventing the deportations while the case is being
decided; one of the Ministry of the Interior's
favorite tricks is to put people on a plane in the
dead of night while their deportation cases were being
argued. Hopefully this injunction will prevent them
from doing so. We of the Feygelach have volunteered
to contact folks to write affidavits attesting to
ISM's non-violent mission, and have had a good
response from Israeli and international individuals
and organizations, including members of the Knesset.

On Monday, we traveled from Tel Aviv to Jayyous, a
West Bank farming village close to the pre-1967
border. We had to travel to an Israeli road block
where trucks have to back up to each other on either
side of the road block and their cargo has to be hand
carried from one to the other. We got into Jayyous,
where we met almost all the men, women and children of
the town, as well as about 40 internationals, for a
march initiated by the farmers.

Jayyous lost 90% of its land when the war of 1947-1949
ended, and the village found itself on the Jordanian
side of the armistice line with its land on the
Israeli side. (That land had been slated to be part
of the Arab state of Palestine in the U.N. 1947
Partition Plan, but was captured by the new state of
Israel in the war.) When Israel occupied the West
Bank in 1967, more land was confiscated to build
illegal Israeli settlements nearby. Now, with the
construction of Israel's "Separation Fence" (which we
are calling the Apartheid Wall), they are being cut
off from 70% of what's left. Farmers have one gate in
the fence through which they may pass to get to their
fields, but when internationals aren't present to
monitor, they are often detained and/or beaten by the
private armed security guards hired by the contractors
who are building the fence for the Israeli government.

First, we attended a lecture in the municipality by a
Qalqilya hydrologist about how the Oslo Agreement maps
and the location of the Apartheid Wall have nothing to
do with security, and everything to do with stealing
access to West Bank aquifers. (Millions of
Palestinians in the West Bank have limited access to
fresh water for living and for agriculture, while
hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers in the same
territory have watered lawns and swimming pools.)
Then the people of Jayyous, with international
accompaniment, marched through the olive groves to the
fence. The women and young men of the village chanted
for a while as we watched the construction equipment
completing the fence that cuts through Jayyous's
lands. Some nearby soldiers watched, and some of the
security guards joined them, but the men of the
village made sure that the youngsters kept their
distance. On the way back, some of the boys had
slingshots to throw stones at the security guards who
stood menacingly in the distance as we passed, but
they were not permitted by their elders to engage even
in this symbolic act of violence. The march ended
without the soldiers gassing, beating, arresting or
shooting at anyone, a testament to the discipline of
the Jayyous organizers as well as the effect of
international accompaniment.

Back at the municipality, the mayor thanked us for our
support, and explained that the Israeli decision to
cut them off from their land and therefore their
income is an attempt to force them to abandon their
homes. I agree. The fence is part of a policy of
ethnic cleansing, in which parts of the West Bank are
slowly being emptied of their indigenous Palestinian
population and replace with Jewish settlers, many of
them from the United States.

We proceeded from Jayyous to nearby Qalqilya, through
the Azun roadblock and the Qalqilya checkpoint.
Again, we made it through the checkpoint with our
Israeli-American member coming under special scrutiny
and pretending not to know Hebrew. We joined up with
the crew of Americans and one Brit already here. And
met our local coordinators.

Qalqilya is a town of about 50,000 Palestinian Muslims
that sits right on the Green Line, next to the most
densely populated part of Israel. It's surrounded by
rich agricultural lands, and appears to be a busy,
though not particularly prosperous, trading center. I
imagine that things were much better here before the
Intifada, when Israelis came here to shop and
Palestinians from neighboring communities didn't have
to beg soldiers to let them through checkpoints in
order to come here. When I participated in a summer
high school program in Israel in 1980, we were taken
to the position in Qalqilya where Jordanian artillery
had been able to shell Israel before 1967. We were
taught that the occupation of the West Bank was
important to protect this narrow and heavily populated
strip of Israel. We were not take to see the town of
Qalqilya, not taught anything about how the people of
Qaqilya suffered during fighting between Israel and
Jordan 1948-1967, nor given any indication of what is
was like for the people of Qalqilya to live under
military occupation. The occupation was 13 years old
then. Now it's 36.

Our primary local coordinator, Marwan*, invited the
12 of us to his home for a delicious meal. That
evening, we were hosted at Qalqilya's Amal Society for
the Deaf, the only deaf society in the Arab world
that's run entirely by deaf people. We toured their
school, received dictionaries of Arabic sign language,
and had a fascinating triple-translated discussion.
Hamid*, a member of the Society, spoke to us in sign,
the Society's one hearing member translated what he
had signed into spoken Arabic, and Marwan translated
from Arabic into English. Hamid taught us a great
deal about the Society and its programs and
international contacts. He also told us about the
deaf Palestinians who have been maimed and killed by
Israeli soldiers during this Intifada. In each case,
soldiers had opened fire on an unarmed deaf
Palestinian man after he failed to follow an order to
halt that he did not hear. Hamid also told us about
the night last year when Israeli soldiers raided the
Society's boarding school, terrifying the children and
wrecking their offices and computer lab.

Yesterday, we were invited to a demonstration in the
town center in support of political prisoners in
Israeli prisons. Tens of thousands of Palestinian men
are in prison in Israel under the administrative
detention law that relieves the Israeli government of
the responsibility of laying charges or trying the
Palestinians the army arrests. Abed*, my host from my
first time with ISM in April 2002, was imprisoned
under this law after his wedding and while his new
wife was pregnant with their first child. As far as I
know, he's never met his daughter.

The demonstration was lively and colorful, and
without army interference. The army came in the
middle of the night last week to assassinate someone
(look up "extrajudicial executions" on Amnesty
International's website to find out just how flagrant
a human rights violation that is), but in general they
don't come into Qalqilya much. Instead, they've built
a wall and a fence all the way around the town, so
that the only way in or out is the checkpoint. Now
that 50,000 people are locked in a cage, there's
little need for the Israeli soldiers to step into the
cage with them. One little boy in the demonstration
was holding a photo of his mother, who was murdered by
Israeli soldiers.

In the afternoon, we went to look at the wall that
separates Qalqilya from Israel and from the rest of
the West Bank. A photo of the wall is attached.
Construction started in April of 2002, and the
Qalqilya will be completely surrounded some time this
summer. We passed by the new girls' school that was
attacked with tear gas by the Israeli army last year.
Now they don't gas anyone-they watch from their tower
in an 8-meter-high concrete wall.

We also visited a farmers' road into orchards near the
"security fence", which has been blocked by 4
roadblocks by the Israeli army. We're going to talk
with the Farmers' Union about clearing the roadblocks
together. Last, we visited a gate in the fence meant
to allow farmers to pass into their fields and
orchards on the "Israeli" side of the fence. The
fence at that point is indeed a fence, about 8 feet
high. It appears to be electrified, although the
cable may be for motion sensors or camera. On the
"Israeli" side of the fence is a paved road that is
restricted to army jeeps, and on the Palestinian side
there is a dirt track, a ditch, and rolls and rolls of
razor wire. The path to the gate is impassable except
on foot or donkey. Farmers were returning from their
fields without interference, but we're told that at
times Israeli soldiers prevent them from passing
through the gate.

This morning, four of us spent two hours watching
Qalqilya Checkpoint. There was nothing out of the
ordinary-just the usual humiliations of men being
forced to wait for an hour in the sun while the
soldiers hold their IDs, and then being allowed to
pass. Yesterday, other members of our team intervened
on behalf of a taxi driver who was arbitrarily
detained and his taxi confiscated. They succeeded in
getting him his ID back and passage through the
checkpoint, and will try today to get his taxi back.
The cab is his only way to feed his family.

Everyone we've met in Qalqilya has been warmly
welcoming, and we've received official invitations to
events as well as lots of public thank yous. We're
being treated a little like a delegation to be feted
and not as participants in non-violent resistance, but
we're working toward a more active relationship with
the community. There was a big meeting today toward
that end while I was at checkpoint watch, and I'm
looking forward to hearing about what was

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, and call


*In these journals, I will always use pseudonyms when
writing about Palestinian individuals other than
members of ISM's core group. Using their real names
could potentially subject them to imprisonment by the
Israeli government, which has historically taken a dim
view of Palestinian non-violent organizing.

And then there was one, or two.

We love Al Sharpton and Denis Kucinich both, but it's Al who goes straight to the point.
The question was gay marriage. Everyone else avoided logic and the plain issue of fairness and human or civil rights, and not least the nature of the secular state.

Senator John Edwards of North Carolina and Senator Bob Graham of Florida didn't bother to show up for a candidates' forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign in Washington yesterday. Five of the seven who did come by equivocated. It seems that they variously believed that boy-girl marriage deserves the same respect for its historical, cultural or religious roots as once commanded by slavery, child labor, male overlordship, the divine right of kings, religious crusades, heretic- and witch-burnings, among other pillars of our civilization.

Kucinich and Sharpton are both reported by the NYTimes to have supported gay marriage unambiguously, but yesterday Al captured the moment with his forthrightness.

"That's like asking me, 'Do I support black marriage or white marriage,'" Mr. Sharpton said, to thunderous applause, when the moderator, Sam Donaldson of ABC News, asked if he supported gay marriage.
Sharpton's the only candidate who is a member of the clergy. The directness which has always described him becomes him handsomely here, and it shames his rivals competing for the votes of obsessive religious zealots.

And we can avoid the long plane trip!

Suggestion for celebrating the anniversary of the birth of the first state fully heir to the Enlightenment: Visit St.-Pierre and Miquelon next July 14, a collectivité territoriale, a part of metropolitan France, just off the southern coast of Newfoundland Island.

Years ago I had heard that bread was flown in each morning from Paris, to be sold at the same price as in the capital, just to maintain the strength of the islands' ties to the rest of the nation, since they are now the last relic of what was once a French empire which included most of North America.

After France lost Quebec [all of Canada] to the British during the Seven Years War, Paris managed some deft negotiating in 1763 to keep this sliver of its colonial empire to give its fishermen a safe haven.

During Prohibition, the archipelago became a way station for Canadian liquor smuggled into the United States. Virtually every basement was converted into a warehouse for bootleggers, and Al Capone set up shop at the Hotel Robert, where his straw hat still graces a small museum.

Capone came here to solve a problem. The wooden whiskey crates that were to be unloaded near Fire Island made too much noise when they knocked against each other, tipping off the feds. Capone decided to discard the crates for jute sacks and straw, leaving behind 350,000 cases a year here that stimulated an odd housing boom — one cabin outside town made completely of crates is still known as "Cutty Sark villa."

When the Volstead Act was repealed in 1933, truckers held a mock funeral.

Not much has happened here since, although the archipelago was the site of a World War II military landing that arguably spelled the beginning of the end for the Vichy government. On Christmas Eve 1941, Free French fighters aboard three corvettes and a submarine landed in St. Pierre without bloodshed. They held an election, and the people voted to boot out the local Vichy authorities.

[photo from C. Marciniak]

wegee summer

Weegee (Arthur Fellig), "Summer, Lower East Side" (1937)

Maybe the longer you're here the more likely New York will feel like a small town, but normally that means small in physical scale. What about the dimension of time? When we find really long-term survivors in our midst, our assumptions about the city's evanescent joys and sorrows fly out the window, and the years themselves are abreviated.

Linda Wolfe recently tripped over her own and her city's histories on a recent afternoon when she returned for the first time in 50 years to two old houses on East Broadway, nos. 185 and 187,* where she had lived one summer between college semesters.

She admits that she knew nothing of the nineteenth-century history of the neighborhood when she was there in 1953, although that of the 20th century was very much present.

After all, The Jewish Daily Forward building, with its columns, crowning clock and bas reliefs of the heroes of European socialism, was three doors over. The Educational Alliance, where assimilated uptown Jews once tutored their rough-edged newcomer cousins in English and social graces, was just across the near corner. The Garden Cafeteria, where aging Trotskyists and Stalinists sat chain-smoking and arguing the future, was on the far corner. These famed institutions were all still functioning. I had moved into the bleachers of history.
What she found when she returned put the last two centuries in a perspective denied most New Yorkers.


In Caleb Carr's "The Alienist" the title character operates an institute for children at 185-187 East Broadway. I wonder if Ms. Wolfe knows about this shared reference.

I'm sorry, but there is no way I could excerpt this message. It's information is too rare here, and the authority of its source requires that it keep its integrity.

It was forwarded from Queers for Peace and Justice, and was written by Jordan Flaherty, a New York activist currently one of the International Solidarity Movement "NOLA Freedom Summer" delegates. The others are Adam Wilson and Thomas Bacon. They are currently in Palestine working with the ISM, which was formed to non-violently resist the Israeli occupation.

July 6, 2003 – From Jordan

Letter from Jenin

I can't even put my anger into words. Really, its so much worse than you suspect and fear.

While the media talks about a roadmap to peace, here's whats happening:

People want to know if its true that the Israeli military have pulled out of Bethlehem. Of course they haven't, but so what if they had? Can people from Bethlehem leave Bethlehem? "We haven't left this camp in two years," say my family in the Azzeh refugee camp. Where can they go? They are trapped by checkpoints, fenced in by bypass roads, and choked by settlements. The hills around Bethlehem are alive - with huge, monstrous settlements, built on stolen land.

Bethlehem residents can visit the church of the Nativity. But what about the other major holy site in Bethlehem, Rachel's Tomb? Rachel's tomb is off limits to Palestinian Christians and Muslims. Only Israelis have access to this major holy site. The several hundred yards around it are also confiscated. In fact, the Israelis are in the process of confiscating more of Bethlehem, to "annex" Rachel's Tomb into Israel. If they change the definition of Bethlehem - redefine it into a fraction of its former self - when its easier to "pull out."

This is what's happening in the whole West Bank. The definition of what is the "West Bank" is being physically changed. Once the Israeli Government has cut the West Bank into tiny pieces a fraction of their current size, it will be easier to "pull out" of the West Bank.

The major tool of this confiscation is the "security wall" being built by Israel. They call it a "separation fence". Fine, lets call it that. And lets recall the the Afrikaans word for "separation": Apartheid. The Apartheid Wall is nearing completion on the West side of the West Bank - where its estimated to have confiscated around 10% of the most fertlie land. As well as cutting through or displacing - redefining - 30 towns or villages. But this is just the beginning. The Israelis are also beginning a Wall along the east side of the West Bank. The exact dimensions are unclear, because the Israeli government wont say its plans. Some estimate it will take another 40% of the West Bank.

Here's some of what I've seen here in Jenin:

All of the villages here along the "green line" border are facing land confiscation. There is no formal notice. One day, Israeli engineers come onto their land, leaving behind blue flags marking a line. Within days or weeks, the bulldozers come. Then, the builders. And within weeks, their land is gone, and a Wall is in its place.

One farmer uprooted his own trees, hoping to replant them somewhere, rather than see them destroyed. He is currently being threatened with a prison term.

The wall is being built at a devastating speed. In the Jenin area, there are at least seven Israeli companies working at building the Wall, so it is being built in several places at once. In some areas, the Wall is almost 100 meters wide. There is barbed wire, followed by a trench, followed by a fence, followed by a settler road, followed by another trench. The atmosphere in the cities is different from before - a quiet desperation.

People are still being terrorized by regular invasions: last night, there was an explosion, and all the power in Jenin went out, tonight, there was a tank outside our building - but the real terror is in the villages, where a massive land grab and depopulation is happening, with almost no media attention.

This is ethnic cleansing on a massive speed and scale. Remember that when the media talks about a roadmap to peace.

Reza at rest in the back of the motor home in Oklahoma

Reza [new site!] is in Forrest City, Arkansas right now. Dave Hyslop, who's travelling with him by car, says they should reach Memphis by tomorrow evening. He asks if anyone has an Elvis costume for Reza.

From a June 23rd report, now on the website, made while Reza and Dave were still in Oklahoma:

Meet Eddie and his wife, owners of the Elk Run RV Park in Elk City, OK. We spent the night here (41 mile marker) after Reza's first day of running in Oklahoma. I'd gone here to check their rates and scope out the accommodations in advance.

We've found that $25 a night for two people has tended to be on the high side of what we've encountered along the way and $15 a night has been the low end.
As you can see, Reza and I have added a little signage to the side of the motor home...some handy work he and I created at Kinko's and then applied in the parking lot of Home Depot--both in Amarillo, TX.

The poster is always a good ice breaker in conversation. I tell Eddie what it's all about and he says, "Ahh, I'll let you stay for $!2." Very kind of him but his generosity was only getting started! I say, "Thanks." and said I'll return after I pick up Reza.

When I return he fills out a receipt for me and asks if he can get Reza's autograph? "Eddie," I say, "I'll do you one better than that--come on out to the mobile mansion and I'll introduce you."

Reza's got both his knees iced and a third ice pack resting on the right side of his groin area but still makes the effort to stand up and greet the man. "Oh don't get up for me," Eddie said, "you're the one that's been work'n all day."

"Thank you so much." Reza said.

Seeing all this, Eddie says, "Tell you what--I'm gonna let you stay for free. I want to help you guys out."

By this time, Kamran, the 18-wheel over-the-road driver has just arrived to drop us off a load of provisions from the Food Bazaar Market in Los Angeles. This is the third time Kamran has stopped to check up on us. He's drives a route between Wisconsin and Los Angeles so it's enabled him to rendezvous with us at various points along the way. From this point on we won't be seeing him as he always turns north at Oklahoma City. Can't tell you what a friend he's been to Reza and I along the way. He's always stopped for at least 2--3 hours to visit with us. The man's pure heart.

We spot the motor home (hook up the electrical, water, sewer and when available, cable line) and here comes Eddie. "How are you doing for money?" he asks.
"Well..." I say, "we've always been looked after."

"Are you taking donations? he asks."Well, yeah but you've already donated, Eddie!" I said.

"He's from Iran, right?" he asks.

"Yes." I said.

"Well my wife of 35 years died of cancer a year and a half ago and her doctor was from Pakistan. He took care of her for three and half months--sometimes he'd come out twice a day--it didn't matter. You know how much his bill was?" he asks.

I shook my head.

He held his right hand up and formed a circle with the index finger and what remained of an amputated thumb, "Zero." he said.

The hospital, however, wasn't so kind. "I didn't have no insurance; " he said "they took pretty much everything I had. The bill was $100,000. They took my farm, two rental units I had in town, a building I had and gesturing around the RV park he said, "This is all I've got left."

He pulls a ten-spot out of his wallet and goes to hand it to me and Reza says, "No, you can no give, you no business tonight." and sweeps his arm around toward all the empty spots in the RV park. Kindness killing kindness.

So that's the way it's been this whole trip. People like Eddie who don't have it to give--going ahead and giving anyway.

"I came into this world with nothing but skin so if I go out that way I guess that's alright." Eddie said. "I hope you guys make it good."

A couple of fans in Oklahoma City go through the scrapbook begun in central Asia

Ellen Hemings Roberts, granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson.

Sally Hemings still has to stay out of the drawing rooms - at least while the "white" folks are around.

Incredible as it may seem, even today, after all the fuss endured in ending slavery and after the happy surprises of DNA, the descendents of the union between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings are neither permitted to be part of the Monticello Association nor allowed to join in its annual reunions.

During a regular meeting of the Association, when the presiding officer was challenged by a cousin to explain a broadening of the ban, one of the other descendents

grabbed the microphone. What he said, according to [the challenger] and three other people who were in the room, was that he had no interest in associating with the Hemings descendants in this life — or in death. (The phrase "their kind" was used.) Judging by the amount of applause he is reported to have received, he blurted out what must have been on nearly everyone else's minds.
For the complete story, see the more delightful parts of the rebelliously-inclusive Jefferson cousin Lucian K. Truscott IV's account of the family feud in today's NYTimes Op-Ed piece linked at the top. You'll find Walker, the groundskeeper at Monticello, his cousins (the elderly Randolph ladies, Truscott's great-grandmother, Mary Walker Randolph, and great aunts Aggie and Miss Moo), the neat little round windows above the house roof, and the Buick parked on the lawn on a hot July day in 1951.

Finally, some very good pictures of the enormous Apartheid Wall (far higher than the Berlin Wall) being built by Israel on occupied Palestinian lands to separate Israelis from Palestinians. For virtually an entire photo essay, including an outside link to more photographs, see the ISM pages.

Steve writes today:

East Jerusalem, Thursday afternoon, July 10, 2003

We're off to the West Bank tomorrow morning for our
two-day training. We're still working on where we'll
go and what project(s) we'll work on. Our affinity
group includes one activist with dual American and
Israeli citizenship and an obviously Israeli name. It
will be difficult for her to pass through Israeli army
checkpoints because Israeli law forbids Israeli
citizens from entering Palestinian areas (and vice
versa--for me, a strong reminder of South Africa's
apartheid Pass Laws of years gone by).

In addition to the checkpoint problem, there are some
West Bank regions where we can't work, because the
local people are just too suspicious of Israelis. For
instance, a woman who said she was an Israeli reporter
recently went to Tulkarm Refugee Camp to interview men
wanted by the Israeli army. She returned a week later
in uniform with an army unit that then arrested the
men she had interviewed. After experiences like this,
people in Tulkarm are not ready to accept an Israeli
who presents herself as a peace activist, even though
it's true.

Fortunately, there are other areas who are willing to
accept Israeli allies and eager to work with them.
Our affinity group will go to one of those areas,
provided we can get through (around?) the relevant

Below, I've copied action alerts about the Jenin
arrestees, and today's detentions in Nablus. If
you're one of the people on this list who has
political reasons for receiving my reports, rather
than only personal reasons, read on, please make the
suggested phone calls and send the suggested emails,
and forward the reports widely.


I did not include the alerts and contact information here, but I will forward that material to anyone who emails me a request.

Otherwise, for more information, and for pictures, see the ISM site and the Electronic Intifada site.

These heroes are so tough it's scary!

When Barry told me about this story he had found in the foreign press (Reuters Asia), I really thought it was manufactured.

Bush's handlers arranged a photo-op this week on the island of Goree, where Americans and others once confined Africans who were to be transported around the world as slaves. The objective this time was to demonstrate that our president is definitely against slavery, but in order to stage the theatrical scene, every resident of the island was rounded up at dawn and confined to a stadium for the duration of the great man's visit.

N'diaye and other residents of Goree, site of a famous slave trading station, said they had been taken to a football ground on the other side of the quaint island at 6 a.m. and told to wait there until Bush had departed, around midday.

Bush came to Goree to tour the red-brick Slave House, where Africans were kept in shackles before being shipped across a perilous sea to a lifetime of servitude.

He then gave an eloquent speech about the horrors of slavery, standing at a podium under a sizzling sun near a red-stone museum, topped by cannon pointing out to the sea.

Incredible. absolutely incredible, but, as Bloggy himself writes, Americans aren't being told about this - as usual - even though it would be front-page news in any society with a real press.

Steve writes today:

I'm still in Jerusalem, safe and sound. The press
release below describes what happened today outside
Jenin. The international Arab media are already
running the story; don't know about CNN/BBC/Times etc.
The media team here is stretched really thin;
anything media folks can do back home will help


I don't see the following report anywhere else on the internet, so I will post it here complete as received.
> July 9, 2003
> For Immediate Release
> [ARRABONY, Jenin Region] Four international
> volunteers with the
> International Solidarity Movement were arrested
> today while
> maintaining a presence at the peace camp set up by
> Arrabony
> villagers and the ISM to protest the confiscation of
> Palestinian
> land for the Apartheid Wall. The four arrested are:
> Tobias Karlsson from Sweden
> Tariq Loubani from Canada
> Bill Capowski from New York, USA
> Fredrick Lind from Denmark
> Full details are not yet known and none of the peace
> activists are
> answering their phones, however we just received the
> following text
> message: "at Salem abused and beaten". This seems
> to indicate that
> the four are being held at the Salem Military Base,
> north of Jenin.
> Since the peace camp was set up on Monday, July 7,
> 2003, activists
> have faced threats and harassment from the Israeli
> Military, from
> heavily armed security guards working for the
> Israeli company
> building that section of the Wall, and from Israeli
> settlers.
> Activists have been threatened with violence,
> removal, and arrest.
> The response of international activists was that
> they were there at
> the request of the people of the village, and didn't
> recognize
> Israeli military authority over the area. On
> Monday, soldiers came
> to the area of the camp to photograph international
> activists and
> local villagers and yesterday armed guards
> threatened to destroy the
> camp.
> Despite the harassment there has been steady and
> enthusiastic
> support from the people of the village of Arrabony.
> Men, women, and
> children have been a twenty-four-hour presence at
> the camp, and are
> coming every day in greater numbers. Activities at
> the camp have
> included games and sports, music, and more.
> For the past year the Israeli government has been
> building a massive
> wall that it claims is for purposes of "security".
> The wall,
> however, is being built inside of the West Bank,
> destroying and
> confiscating from Palestinians their most fertile
> agricultural
> grounds and de facto annexing into Israeli illegal
> settlements and
> valuable underground water aquifers. Tens of
> thousands of
> Palestinian fruit and olive trees have already been
> destroyed and
> farmers are being prevented from working on land
> that they've lived
> off of for decades. The Palestinian people have
> been marching and
> protesting this land confiscation and destruction of
> livelihood but
> have been met with violence from the Israeli
> authorities and silence
> from the international community. The Arrabony
> peace camp is one of
> 4 similar protest camps in the West Bank.
> For more information, please call:
> ISM Office: 02-277-4602
> Huwaida: 067-473-308
> Jordan: 066-312-547
> www.palsolidarity.org

Update the afternoon of July 10: see bottom of this post

Some Americans don't deserve to live in a world where there's a France.

First it was French wines. Then French fries. Now it's French exchange students who are getting the cold shoulder from American families still smarting over France's opposition to the war in Iraq.
Only half of the 250 teenagers who signed up this year with one well-established summer program have been placed with American families.
The first wave began arriving on Monday, and unless homes can be found quickly, four Boston-bound teenagers in that group will get refunds instead of trips. At least 100 participants in the program who expected to come in August are also in limbo.

. . . .

"This has been a horrible year," said Deborah Bertrand, the New York area manager for Loisirs Culturels à L'Étranger, a not-for-profit exchange program based in Paris. "Usually I have no problem finding host families. The only thing I can attribute it to is the anti-French feeling going on because of the Iraq war. My coordinators all up and down the East Coast are having the same problem."

One R.I. recruiter reports her frustration.
"This year, with everything that happened with the war, people locally have just taken it personally. When I ask them, 'Would you open your home to a French teenager?' they look at me like, 'Are you out of your mind? Why would we, when they've been so ungiving to us?'"
Meanwhile, some Americans really do take the French "personally," and have done so most of their lives. An American B-17 tail gunner was hidden from the Germans after he parachuted into a tiny French village as his plane went down in flames on the 4th of July in 1943. David Butcher remembers the French. He couldn't make it to the celebrations this week, but the sister of one of his crew mates who died that day was there.
In a conversation late on Friday, she told him what he had missed, saving the best for last.

"Dave," she said, "they renamed the street by the monument `Route of the Flying Fortress.' "

As for French-American tensions generated recently by the Iraq war, speakers seemed to echo the sentiment expressed by Mr. Butcher when he said, "I love them people."

Mayor Ploncard's assessment was perhaps the most elegantly put: "Despite our governments' divergent ideas, the French remember with gratitude that it is to the Americans that we owe our freedom."

I'm going to take Bastille Day "personally" myself this year, and with more gusto/l'entrain than usual. Gotta make up for what's being lost by Americans elsewhere.

How can we send those French kids home?


The update on the French teenagers: I've found the American LEC website, and I've been told that as a result of the news article all New York-area students have now been placed for this year. There is still a need for homes in the D.C. area however. Would I be reading too much into that report if I thought it might say something about the difference between Gotham and our other Capital city, at least these days?

These are two of the teenagers who applied for the program this year, Marie and Julien. The images are from the LEC site.

Steve was in a Tel Aviv court today - as an observer. The indented email text below is complete as it was received.

Hi folks,

I'm in Haifa at the apartment of parents of a member
of JATO. We were in Tel Aviv today to observe a court
hearing with broad implications for ISM. Our report
of the hearing is below.

(A little background: anyone perceived by Israeli
border authorities to be a peace activist of any sort
is routinely turned away. We believe that thousands
have been turned away since the spring of 2002, most
of them undoubtedly tourists believed erroneously by
the border authorities to be activists. Since the
murder of Rachel Corrie by an Israeli soldier in
March of 2003 and its attendant bad publicity
for the state of Israel, the authorities have
been particularly on the lookout for ISM activists.)


Today, July 7, 2003, the District Court in Tel Aviv
held a hearing on Patrick Connor's complaint against
the Israeli Ministry of the Interior for refusing him
entry into Israel this past March. The Israeli
attorneys representing Patrick received the Ministry's
brief only today, and got an adjournment to July 22
for a decision, so that they could respond to the
brief. The chief of the Shabak (Israel's General
Security Service) was in the courtroom, and the
Ministry's lawyer kept looking back at him, apparently
for guidance.

Here is our translation of the relevant page of the
Ministry's brief. We can't vouch that the translation
is 100% accurate, but we did our best. It starts at
item #12; as far as we know, items 1-11 are just

The Position of the Ministry of the Interior

12. As was told to the plaintiff, the position of
the Ministry of the Interior is that his entry into
Israel is not permitted due to a security concern and
because of a lack of proper authorization.

13. It is the position of the Ministry of the
Interior that the plaintiff should not be allowed to
enter Israel on the basis of the recommendation of
security sources.

14. Security sources are in possession of information
according to which the plaintiff is a senior activist
in the organization ISM.

15. This organization has as its goal to hamper the
activities of the security forces in the territories
and to impede their work in preventing terrorism via
altercations with the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]
soldiers, staying in the houses of suicide terrorists
to prevent their destruction, transporting Palestinians
among various areas during periods of closure, and all
that proceeds from this.

16. The activities of members of the organization, as
described above, interfere with the security
activities of the IDF and sometimes even endanger the
well-being of the IDF soldiers.

17. In the framework of activism in the organization
the plaintiff initiated, organized, and took part in
demonstrations in the territories of Judea and Samaria
against the activities of the security forces during
the period November 2002 - January 2003.

18. From past experience with activists with this
organization, it comes up that some of these activists
tend to deceive the border authorities on entrance to
Israel and do not convey the true purpose of their
arrival in Israel.

19. As was told to the plaintiff in the letter from
the legal office (that was attached to the original
complaint), the entrance of the plaintiff in March
2003 was denied also because he did not have proper
authorization. In order to serve various
organizations as the plaintiff requested (some for pay
and some on a voluntary basis) he must equip himself
with the proper authorization of Type B1 or Type B,
and not suffice with a tourist authorization of Type
B2. The plaintiff is aware of this, and he himself
acknowledges that in the past he has been in Israel
with authorization of Type B1.

I expect to hear about another, much uglier reality in future reports. This one is an account of the almost-civilized side of the policies produced by Israeli insecurity. It seems that Israel is at least giving a hearing to the people who complain about being kept from entering the country, although the state may really only be going through the motions.

I think we can say that the U.S. is being a lot less generous with its own prejudices and insecurity.

Still, notice that on Israel's own terms, item #15 admits that Connor, as a member of the ISM, is to be kept out because he might end up "staying in the houses of suicide terrorists to prevent their destruction, transporting Palestinians among various areas during periods of closure." This is not a nice picture of the Israeli state's dominion in an illegally-occupied territory.

And in love.

Barry and I were totally inside the little screen yesterday afternoon, a part of the film "Burnt Money (Plata Quamada)." It was far more than either of us had expected, and all of the mainstream reviews we had seen earlier seem to have missed the point. It was sexy, hot, beautiful, political, redemptive, claustrophobic, reckless, sweaty, crudely violent, yet barely and rarely innocent and sweet, and very, very elegant.

There is a heartbreaking scene lasting only a few seconds, more than half-way into the film, where the "twins" are filmed from below a balcony in a carnival dance hall. Colorful stips of lights run across the ceiling above the two graceful figures in their suits, caught dancing a slow, elegant tango worthy of the dance's working-class male origins.*

Another very different moment earlier in the story, when Nene calmly removes a bullet from the shoulder of the recumbent Angel, who has refused to take a narcotic (he tells his partner he wants to feel everything) is unbelievably erotic. I know, it sounds awful. You have to be there.

Jason Anderson writes in Eye Weekly:

Based on the real-life exploits of a gang of Argentinian robbers in late 1965, Burnt Money offers a stylish, pulpy combination of sweaty hunks and blazing guns. It's the sort of film that leaves its characters soaked in blood, perspiration, spunk or -- ideally -- all three at once.

. . . .

[The film's director, Marcelo] Piñeyro explains that, in the underworld of Buenos Aires, "homosexuality wasn't -- and isn't -- a cause of rejection, as it was, and probably still is, in the middle classes. Homosexuality wasn't associated with weakness. Besides, homosexuality was part of the life in jail. Nobody in the underworld had prejudices about it."

But the characters' sexual identities are at once open and closeted in the film. One of the most exciting things about Burnt Money is how it inverts the standard pattern of gay relationships on film. The Twins' relationship is transformed from one that is open and sensual into one in which their desires are frustrated and repressed -- with suitably apocalyptic repercussions.

Anderson concludes his review bluntly, after quoting Piñeyro describing his cinematic influences, "his fevered Burnt Money is a real sweatbox of a movie."

The sweat is dry, but I still feel I'm inside that box.

[thanks to Pagina12 for the images]


The dance was created by men, and men first danced together to sharpen their style, and only then [most?] went out and danced with women.

[updated July 18 to include contact information for Steve this summer]

Our friend Steve Quester is back in the Middle East. I posted his reports from Palestine in the spring and summer of last year, and I expect to be able to post all of his current dispatches from today.

This is Steve's first email this summer, sent just after he arrived to resume work with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). The text appears here with edits only eliminating his contact information - for his security and that of others while he's there.

Steve's suggestion for reaching him his summer:

While I prefer not to receive email while I'm away, I love to get phone calls on my cell phone here. If you're in the eastern United States, the best time to call is when you wake up in the morning; since we're 7 hours ahead, that corresponds to mid-afternoon here. To call me, dial the international access code (011 if calling from the U.S.), followed by country code 972, mobile phone code 67, and telephone number 308-192. There is voice mail on my cell phone in case I can't pick up or am in an area without coverage.
lockquote>I'm in Tel Aviv at the moment. Got into Israel without too much fuss; it helped to be traveling with an Israeli. There was a young Palestinian man on the plane with his wife and baby. He was whisked off to the police at the airport while his wife held the baby and waited.

We're staying with a couple who are members of Black Laundry*, Israel's queer anti-occupation movement. One of them described being pulled aside and interrogated when she tried to enter the U.K.; for some reason she
was profiled along with 2 Palestinians and 4 Pakistanis. She described how infuriating and humiliating the experience was, and also how important
for her, as an Israeli, to be on the receiving end of profiling for once. As an anti-occupation organizer, she had always understood how terrible the practice is, but had never felt it herself.

Tomorrow we'll attend the trial in absentia of an American member of ISM who was arrested and deported. We leave from Jerusalem on Friday morning to attend the two-day ISM training in an as yet undisclosed West Bank city.

See these sites for New York information about and Tel Aviv photos of the amazing group which call itself "Black Laundry," for the phrase's perverse combination of English and Hebrew meanings related to "black sheep" and "dirty laundry."

Sue Coe, "What a Golden Beak! (They Want War)" (1999)

The White House lied in order to get its war. More evidence has just emerged, and from one of its own.

As usual, it's not an embarassment for Bush, who is beyond shame [the idiot thought he could be president, for chrissakes!], but for all Americans who ever lived or will yet live.

A former U.S. ambassador, who was hired by the CIA to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein bought uranium from Niger, has gone public with his anger that his findings discrediting the reports were ignored by the Bush.

Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was ambassador to Gabon from '92 to '95, traveled to Niger at the request of the CIA in February 2002, and found no evidence that any uranium sale had taken place.

Nonetheless, the White House cited Iraq's alleged purchase of uranium as evidence that Saddam was pursuing nuclear weapons - one of President Bush's justifications for toppling the brutal Iraqi dictator. The uranium-sale accusation turned out to have been based on a forged document.

"If they'll lie about things like this, there's no telling what else they'll lie about," Wilson, who is now an international business consultant, told The Post from his Washington home. Wilson first aired his frustrations in an Op-Ed piece in today's New York Times.

[It's interesting that there's a news story on the Post site, but no news story in the NYTimes.]

The ambassador's statement ends with the somber words of a moderate man.

America's foreign policy depends on the sanctity of its information. For this reason, questioning the selective use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq is neither idle sniping nor "revisionist history," as Mr. Bush has suggested. The act of war is the last option of a democracy, taken when there is a grave threat to our national security. More than 200 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq already. We have a duty to ensure that their sacrifice came for the right reasons.
But solid evidence for Bush's mendacity is already all over the place. There has never been a president guilty of higher crimes and misdemeaners, more worthy of impeachment and removal from office, and yet we know it will never happen.

How did we get to this?

Sue Coe, "They Cut Off Their Hands So They Couldn't Vote" (2000)

We’re not going to last in Iraq.

It's not working. Not surprisingly, we are being blamed for everything bad that happens there, which these days may be most everything, and that country appears to be literally up in arms [curious that a well-armed citizenry, traditionally just a fetish of the American radical right, did not save Iraq from tyranny]. I don’t expect we will hold out very long. We don’t seem to have a plan, we almost certainly don't have the commitment needed, and we don't even have the advantage of the kind of [courage of conviction?] which was able to maintain the last Iraqi dictatorship for so long.

They don’t love us.

Americans, incredibly uninformed or misinformed anyway, are increasingly confused about what’s going on over there, and now even military families are getting very upset, although their anger is not focused or directed at a target - yet.

The administration didn’t tell them that we wouldn’t be welcomed with open arms, that we weren’t going to spend much money or manpower on rebuilding what we destroyed, that the world wouldn’t support our unilateral invasion and wouldn't bail us out in our occupation duties afterward, especially since we look increasingly like sitting ducks, that the lights would still be out in much of the country months after we decided we won, that the numbers of Americans being maimed and killed would accelerate as time passed, that we would end up fighting an insurgency which might never end, that this was not Japan or Germany in 1945.

Perhaps most important, it’s certainly unlikely the administration told its corporate backers that, since we could not make friends or even keep order in a country we boasted we had liberated, in the end there would be no fortunes made in Iraq, and this may ultimately be the decisive factor when we decide to abandon our self-appointed role.

At least it's clear once again that for this administration it was never about "nation building." The Bushies did not change their tune as they marketed the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq with generous promises of liberation gifts. The talk about democracy, schools, health care and repair of infrastructure was domestic and foreign Realpolitik, mouthed as cover for the cynical objectives of national power and party advantage.

It's just not working out the way the White House thought it would. Unfortunately that may not be any better news for Iraq than it is for an American republic now corrupted and compromised, perhaps beyond repair.

Found this straight guy thing on Mark Allen's site. The magic is that Sam Stern's photo comic should amuse just about all tastes.

Today at home, in Chelsea Gardens gardens.

I've wanted to point to MarkAllenCam.com for some time, but didn't know where to begin, or to end, a post which would do it justice. Still don't, so I'll be very brief.

I first saw Mark Allen in the heyday of ACT UP, noticed he was way cute, serious about activism, and even gay (not everyone was!) but I guess there's always been much more, not least an infectious playfullness, and a creative aesthetic beyond what he gives us to look at. You'll find a lot of it his site.

It's good to be cute, smart, creative and nice - also brave, clean and definitely irreverent.

In the wild, and I think in "conventional" households as well, Parakeets are expected to wake with the sun and retire as it gets dark. But our Sweet Pea (don't ask!) is a New York bird.

We may not usually be out late, but we eat late and are always late to bed. That means late to rise, and over the months since he flew through our window the bright-green winged one has accomodated himself to our schedule.

Yesterday I pointed out to Barry that the little guy never starts singing back to the birds in the garden, ignoring their early hours and their amazing volume, until we finally shuffle into the breakfast room where he sleeps. Even then he shows that he's no more a morning type than we are. He takes his time about jumping about or entering into any conversations.

And then at the end of the day he's usually ready to stay up chirping and playing with his imaginary friend in the cage mirror (also something like ourselves) until we turn the lights out, sometimes well after 2 in the morning, although I have to admit that eventually he stares at us from his perch with a sad look that seems to say, "can't we go to sleep yet?"

"We've made him nocturnal!", Barry replied to my bird-watching observations, but in a tone which sounded like real guilt.

Are we bad parents? Probably not. Sweet Pea seems at least as cheerful as we are, which is to say pretty to very, and that should count for something.



The caption for this picture from this week's Paris Menswear shows on the BBC site reads: "Strike the pose: Models at the Gaspard Yurkievich show"

Lots more guy stuff.

Can we stop and think about this lead NYTimes story for a minute?

Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor making his first bid for national office, raised substantially more money this quarter than all his more established opponents in the Democratic presidential contest, according to figures released today.

The result forced Dr. Dean's rivals to reconsider how to deal with an opponent they had until now viewed as little more than an irritant.

At the same time, Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, who had initially been seen as a formidable fund-raiser with strong ties to labor, has apparently come in fifth among Democrats in fund-raising in the second quarter, which ended Monday. It would be the second weak showing in fund-raising by Mr. Gephardt. His aides cautioned today that they were still counting checks.

Dean is now a real candidate because he has money, and the corollary of that is that he will cease to be a real candidate if he should eventually fall behind others in the accumulation of more money.

Is the headline, "Dean's Surge in Fund-Raising Forces Rivals to Reassess Him," and the story itself for that matter, even conceivable in any other mature republic? Elsewhere citizens, even professional politicians, don't appear and disappear as legitimate candidates for office only on the basis of whether or not they are cash cows.

Our government is available to the highest bidder, and nothing else is ever really discussed, except the candidates' numbers in the polls.

Germans get 8 weeks of vacation each year, including single-day holidays. Although the figure is not much different for the rest of Europe, Germans, being Germans, are asking themselves whether lots of a good thing is not really such a good thing. The NYTimes tell us that some Germans are even asking: are the Germans lazy?

The lively discussion which follows includes a history and a lesson in comparative leisure cultures.

Here, perhaps, is the difference with Americans, who also like their vacations. Many Americans, who have no recent history of labor struggles or national traumas, simply see work as a good in itself; they don't believe deep inside that they have an inalienable right to an idle August and take pride in postponing retirement, or taking on a second career. But for many Europeans, leisure time is not just a break from work; it is the goal of it.

or maybe just looking to have a good day?

If most Americans never learn why they are working, and end up botching the limited vacation opportunities available to them, a very few decide that work itself will be rewarding when the reward is generously shared. Leisure needn't be sacrificed, nor worshipped.

Gene Estess was a New York stockbroker for 20 years. Today he runs a program that helps adults with housing, employment and drug dependence difficulties. He operates at a fraction of the cost per person required for shelters and with something like a 95% success rate in keeping clients from returning to homelessness.

But the best part of this article describing a man who admits that his Wall Street colleagues thought he was nuts when he quit, is how he made the decision.

"Please understand," he said. "It was nothing religious. It wasn't godlike."

"For 20-some-odd years I really didn't have a good day," he continued. "I didn't come home with any stories to tell or satisfaction or a feeling I'd done anything to help anybody except myself and my family."

Not lazy, surely, and it doesn't sound like leisure, but it's definitely smart.

Our daring commander-in-chief, who will always be the most protected individual on the planet, courageously flipped the bird at Iraqi militants who might be thinking of threatening our already-beleagured troops in the Middle East.

"There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush told reporters at the White House. "My answer is: Bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation."
He's daring a people already on the brink of major insurgency to just try to kill and maim Americans. Do "our boys and girls" need this kind of support from an idiot who has already said he placed them in great peril in the first place because his friend god told him to?

Even in the initial story about Bush's remarks, Reuters has to report that they have outraged Washington - well, at least the Democrats.

"I am shaking my head in disbelief. When I served in the army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military commander -- let alone the commander in chief -- invite enemies to attack U.S. troops," said New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, a Democratic presidential candidate, said: "I have a message for the president: 'Enough of the phony, macho rhetoric. We should be focused on a long-term security plan that reduces the danger to our military personnel.'"

Artnet has some good images from the Venice Biennale. The photograph above, of artists in the gardini, helps to explain the seductive appeal of this event. Obviously it's not just the venue.

Well, we did hear that the temperature was 108 on the opening days.

Barry and I were among the teeming cultured masses in and outside of D'Amelio Terras tonight for the opening of the amazing show, "Now Playing: Daniel Reich Gallery, John Connelly Presents, K48," which the gallery describes as a group of "three emerging artistic programs."

In the pictures below I was behind the camera, out of its range, so everything you will see is beautiful, although what was supposed to have attracted the crowd, the art, remained inside, where I was much too busy so my camera never saw it. For 10 images of the installation, see the gallery site as a tease, but make sure you get to 22nd Street. It's a great show. You'll want to tell somebody's grandchildren about it. Oh, and lots of stuff is "affordable" as we like to hear it described, beginning with artist-constructed CDs in their exotic cases, starting at $15 or so.

In the second picture, that's Conyers Thompson on the right (he's surprisingly single!), apparently shocking the Barry, and in the third, Scott Treleaven, Joe Wolin and Glenn Ligon are taking in the air - and the art fans.

[undocumented photo from the 2002 exhibition at the London club Queer Nation]

"QUEERS READ THIS!" was anonymously distributed during New York's "Pride" weekend in 1990 as a tabloid piece with wonderful bold graphics. It became a manifesto. It reads as well today.

This is just one section of many:


Being queer is not about a right to privacy; it is about the freedom to be public, to just be who we are. It means everyday fighting oppression; homophobia, racism, misogyny, the bigotry of religious hypocrites and our own self-hatred. (We have been carefully taught to hate ourselves.) And now of course it means fighting a virus as well, and all those homo-haters who are using AIDS to wipe us off the face of the earth. Being queer means leading a different sort of life. It's not about the mainstream, profit-margins, patriotism, patriarchy or being assimilated. It's not about executive directors, privilege and elitism. It's about being on the margins, defining ourselves; it's about gender- fuck and secrets, what's beneath the belt and deep inside the heart; it's about the night. Being queer is "grass roots" because we know that everyone of us, every body, every cunt, every heart and ass and dick is a world of pleasure waiting to be explored. Everyone of us is a world of infinite possibility. We are an army because we have to be. We are an army because we are so powerful. (We have so much to fight for; we are the most precious of endangered species.) And we are an army of lovers because it is we who know what love is. Desire and lust, too. We invented them. We come out of the closet, face the rejection of society, face firing squads, just to love each other! Every time we fuck, we win. We must fight for ourselves (no one else is going to do it) and if in that process we bring greater freedom to the world at large then great. (We've given so much to that world: democracy, all the arts, the concepts of love, philosophy and the soul, to name just a few gifts from our ancient Greek Dykes, Fags.) Let's make every space a Lesbian and Gay space. Every street a part of our sexual geography. A city of yearning and then total satisfaction. A city and a country where we can be safe and free and more. We must look at our lives and see what's best in them, see what is queer and what is straight and let that straight chaff fall away! Remember there is so, so little time. And I want to be a lover of each and every one of you. Next year, we march naked.

[Butch Femme Couples, circa 1920, donated to the New York Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center by Barbara Warren and Stephanie Grant]

John Rechy suggests in a Commentary piece in Sunday's LATimes that gratitude may not be the appropriate response to the decision in Lawrence and Garner vs. the State of Texas.

Without in any way belittling the decency of the justices in their brave opinion, some might view the decision as a vastly imperfect apology for the many lives devastated by cruel laws that made possible the myriad humiliations of gay people, the verbal assaults and screams of "faggot!" — the muggings, the suicides, the murders — all occurring even during this time of victory. The flagrant dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia and two of his colleagues — in an effort to uphold the Texas law — will help to keep fertile the atmosphere of hatred that allowed three men to mangle Trevor Broudy in West Hollywood and allowed Matthew Shepherd to be butchered in Wyoming.
No, we cannot be grateful.

Rechy writes only about the modern American experience,* but the horror is on a much larger scale than that. Violence against perceived sexual and behavioral deviation, never bounded by geography or time, continues today and beyond today, here and everywhere.

Instead of showing gratitude, we should be demanding reparations, and, since millions, even billions, of queers who have been crippled physically and psychologically for millenia by the assaults of a dumb, blind, malicious and implacable sexual establishment are now dead, lost or beyond recovery, the blood money and the attention should go to endow lively support centers for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and transexual youth at risk everywhere, like New York's Y.E.S. No groups need more help and no groups can do more to repair us right here and around the world, now and maybe forever.


* One story excerpted from the LATimes piece:

In 1973, California finally repealed its anti-sodomy laws. But still, in 1977, driving home from UCLA in the early evening, I saw muggers fleeing from the man they had assaulted on the street. I drove the bleeding man to the police station so that a squad car would be sent to the area. The bruised man — clearly gay — was returning home with groceries when attacked. At the station, the sergeant studied him after I had recounted what I had seen, and asked him, "What did you try to do with those guys?"

[thanks to Barry]

The real reason the nation is going to hell in a hand basket was revealed by Ha’aretz recently but it has never appeared in the mainstream U.S. media, "save a tiny mention in the Post," Eric Alterman wrote yesterday.

Anyway, according to "selected minutes acquired… from one of last week’s cease-fire negotiations between Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and faction leaders from the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular and Democratic Fronts… Abbas said that at Aqaba, Bush promised to speak with Sharon about the siege on Arafat. He said nobody can speak to or pressure Sharon except the Americans. According to Abbas, immediately thereafter Bush said: 'God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.'"
In the words of that great American pundit and sage, Lily Tomlin, "If you speak to God, it's a prayer, if God speaks to you it's schizophrenia."

[thanks to Jamie and Barry]

Reza is in Arkansas. Barry's first, startling, half-serious reaction to the news: "I hope they don't kill him." Mr. B is from Arkansas, and having escaped only 15 years ago, he may have good reason to imagine the worst.

The message from Dave Hyslop, who is following him across the country:

Am siting in a little internet cafe in Fort Smith, AR with Reza. He ran into Fort Smith this evening. This makes five states he's completed with Arkansas up next.

Hope to be in Little Rock by the morning of July 5th. A cousin of mine lives in Little Rock so we may drive in to see her the night of the 4th and attend a fireworks party...not sure yet.

Reza in Little Rock on the 4th of July. Now that sounds like a party worth a trip!

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