War: October 2004 Archives

Bush Salute.jpg
file photograph

Fascism, it's so US. Are there still any doubters out there?

The Bush campaign is now asking followers to swear allegiance to Bush, right hands extended. The pledge:

"I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States."
The principle established, the words can easily be rearranged in the future as needed.

[image from Chemtrails]


"Sooo . . . What do you wear to a civil war anyway?"

A week ago I wrote that I would probably post a list of progressive spaces which are encouraging visitors to hang out next Tuesday evening, on the [first?] day of our federal election agony.

I ended up contributing to a list which Barry assembled and has now posted on his own site. We haven't yet decided what we're going to do that night ourselves. The only thing I've done so far in the way of preparation is to get half way through a good apartment cleaning, the remainder to be completed tomorrow. I just knew I wouldn't feel like doing anything once the street fighting began.

Having also done tons of laundry this week, I'm now free to think about the balloon in the last box of the latest "get your war on."

[image from "get your war on"]

American Fine Arts [no website] opened a smashing new show, "Election," last night, but the legendary gallery founded by Colin de Land (and currently located in the last home of the equally fabulous gallery created by Pat Hearn) will close when this show is taken down November 18.

This is a very big loss, but I can't imagine a gallery scene without Daniel McDonald around and I don't expect we're going to lose sight of him.

Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln really enjoyed the show in the space Daniel has been managing full-time at least since Colin's tragic death last year (just three years after we had grieved for his wife, Pat) is fully worthy of its history. She adds that it's a must-see, and preferably before the momentous [civil?] war-time election going down just eleven days hence.

The show was organized by James Meyer. There's no gallery checklist yet, so the images I can show below have only a skeletal description.

Hans Haacke Star Gazing

Carl Andre and Melissa Kretschmer Welcome to Bushworld detail

Claire Pentecost Molecular Invasion detail of installation

John Waters Have Sex in a Voting Booth

Paul Chan Baghdad in No Particular Order still from video

This evening we stopped in at the opening reception for White Box's new group show, "Democracy is Fun?," the latest in a series of intense installations they've been mounting as a response to our republic's desperate cries for help. We stayed longer than we had originally intended, and here are some of the reasons why. I should point out that, as is usual on these pages, the images which appear in the post are those the camera seemed to like. They are definitely not the only interesting works in the show, which was curated by Michele Thursz and Defne Ayas.

The gallery will be open election night with screenings and performances, and I'm sure there will be cable for the actual returns. Many of us will be more comfortable with the crowd which is going to be drawn to 26th Street than we would almost anywhere else. [As we get closer to November 2, I may post a list of the spaces which will be welcoming people who would not really be comfortable in either candidate's headquarters.]

This work near the entrance went straight to the core of America's funny democracy:
Hug and Magnan Escape (2004) duraflex printed mounted on aluminum, installation view

These political footballs were the kinetic sculptures we found rolling underfoot throughout the gallery space; they would occasionally meet a smartly placed toe which launched the scary Bush heads across the floor:
Kendell Geers Kicking Against the Pricks (2004) 11 political latex masks, footballs, detail of installation view

Michael Anderson had eight collages made up of reconstructed "posters" along the west wall:
Michael Anderson Empire Strikes Back (2004) street posters from NYC 32" x 24" detail

Hug and Magnan again - just because it says it so well and looks so good doing it:
Hug and Magnan God Bless America flashe on found object, installation view

Innocent until proven guilty? Not anymore. One of the most basic principals of our law has been trashed regularly and systematically by our courts since September 11th. While what is happening to four peace activists here in New York at this moment may not be the most egregious examples of a justice system turned upside down and striking out at people all around the world, it's no small thing for the victims themselves and for the broad and fundamental evil of the judicial precedent it establishes.

Sixteen people were arrested in Manhatan on March 26, 2003, for (intentionally) tying up rush hour Midtown traffic in a protest against the murder of American peace activist Rachel Corrie by an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip, as well as the U.S. attack on Iraq. They were all convicted on March 22 this year on the outrageous, Orwellian charge, "obstructing governmental administration."

Twelve of the codefendents have been sentenced to community service and fines. Four have not been sentenced yet, because the Manhattan District Attorney had a judge unseal their older records. The D.A. then cited their previous demonstration arrests, most of which resulted in all charges being dismissed, as a reason for the judge to sentence them to an (unspecified) jail term (under the law the judge can sentence each of the four to anything from 0 to 365 days in jail). The twelve codefendants who were earlier given sentences far less severe did not have their records unsealed.

The four remaining now face posssible jail time for alleged acts in the past which were never proven in a court of law.

Every citizen, whether active in political demonstrations or just unfortunate to be arrested for any offense, however minor, and including misdemeaners, must be made to understand that there is no longer any assumption of innocence in the American courts. If you have appeared before a judge at any time in the past, not been tried but rather had your case dismissed and its record "sealed," the fact that you had been in that court may be used against you years later in order to determine your sentencing for a conviction totally unrelated to the previous offense.

The D.A. and the judge merely have to be really mad at you, and they don't have to tell anyone why.

The corollary to this incredible development has to be that from now on no one will be able to afford to accept a "dismissal" of his or her offences, regardless of the practical attractions of such a resolution, but must instead pursue every charge all the way through the courts. Of course neither the individual nor the judiciary is actually going to be able to live with that burden; something will have to give - or explode.

Like so much else that falls under the rubric, "everything has changed since 9/11," the politicization of our courts is swiftly contributing to the destruction of the society we think we are defending.

The four M26 defendents (the name refers to March 26, the date of the action for which they were arrested) who still await their fate have already gone through two appeals, and both have been rejected. The outcome of a third appeal will not be known prior to November 18, the scheduled date of their sentencing.

The range of possible outcomes runs from the best-case scenario - fines and community service, despite their "records" of dismissed charges - to the worst case scenario - taken directly from the courtroom to Rikers Island Penitentiary.

They've put out an appeal for people to be with them in the courtroom on the morning of the sentencing, since it's vitally important to show the judge that they have community support. And of course some of the media will be there.

The people who await the disposition of their cases have one more request to make of their supporters, and it's characteristically thoughtful and generous. This is Steve Quester:

AP4 will see many cases that day, not just ours. Please come at 9 am so you can get a seat in the courtroom before it fills up. And please keep in mind that there will be many defendants and their families and friends present. Unlike the four of us, few if any of those defendants will be White. Unlike the four of us, none of those defendants will benefit from an outpouring of community support. If you are able to stay for some of the cases that follow ours, please do. I cringe at the thought of an exodus of hundreds of mostly White people from the courtroom as soon as we're sentenced.

THE LOGISTICS: Go to 100 Centre Street, which you can locate here. They will be on the 4th floor, in Arraignment Part (AP) 4. The nearest subways are the J, M, N, Q, R, W, Z, and 6 trains to Canal Street. You can also take the 4 or 5 to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall, or the B or D to Grand Street. The closest stop on the A, C, and E trains is Canal Street; Franklin Street on the 1 train, and Chambers Street on the 2 or 3.

Check www.m26.org in the days leading up to the sentencing, to learn about any (unlikely) possibility of a further delay in sentencing.

Benjamin Henry Latrobe Design Proposed for the Hall of Representatives, U.S., Section from North to South (1815) ink and watercolor on paper

For weeks now Barry and I have both been dismayed by the strange candidacy which Peter Hort has mounted for Representative of our local Congressional district.

I believe what is happening only shows that even supposedly sophisticated New Yorkers are naive when it comes to politics, or that money can persuade otherwise good people to act quite badly. Both explanations are pretty disturbing, but each is still better than some of the other possibilities.

For his reading of the subject, including both background and foreground, see Barry's post of last night which links to his previous entries, to Hort's own site and a number of other relevant sources.

[image of the old House chamber from Library of Congress]

The powerful documentary, "Arna's Children," is now at the Quad Cinema here in Manhattan. I'd be much more excited if it were playing in every town in the U.S., but unfortunately it's not going to happen. If you want to know why, see what I wrote last May.

I just noticed that of the four films currently being shown at the Quad, Barry and I have actually seen three. This is pretty amazing, since the two of us rarely get around to slipping into a movie theatre in the crush of so many seductive live (therefore more time-sensitive) performance offerings. Like "Arna's Children," the other two films would not be described as directed toward mainstream audiences (whatever that means), but I can recommend both "The Child I Never Was" and, most enthusiastically, Bruce LaBruce's "Raspberry Reich."

If these films have anything in common, it's the ability of each to re-arrange minds which might have thought everything was already nicely in place.

This page is an archive of entries in the War category from October 2004.

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