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Oh, Hell Yes!

Oh, Hell Yes!

While it might be the most loved sport worldwide, soccer on the professional level hasn’t made much of an impact here at home. Granted, for most of its history, American teams haven’t fared well against more seasoned foreign opponents, but the 2002 World Cup is showing that the Team USA is no longer the doormat of world soccer. After defeating a highly regarded Portugal team to open the Cup, we held on enough to back our way into the second round, thanks to a victory by South Korea over Portugal, even though we got beaten (and beaten badly) by Poland. (We don’t have enough time, or bandwidth, to explain how you can advance in the World Cup when you only win one game out of three). We faced longtime rivals Mexico in the second round, and world opinion gave the US little chance — they were playing on a day’s less rest, and had looked progressively worse as the first round drew on.

Guess what? We kicked their ass. Final: USA 2, Mexico 0. (For those new to soccer, it is not a high scoring sport, at this level. Two goals is a healthy margin of victory).

By winning this game we become the best US team since the 1930s, and hopefully go a long way in wiping some of those international smirks off of faces when the words “Futbol” and “USA” are mentioned together. Perhaps it will also ignite some level of interest in the sport at home as well. Being somewhat of a fan (hell, more than somewhat — I’ve gotten up at 2:30 in the friggin’ morning to watch the games, which are being played in Japan and Korea), I attempted to show my spirit by wearing the team colors. Ha. I’d sooner find a pro-Taliban T-shirt than anything relating to soccer in local stores. If it doesn’t have Michael Jordan’s, Kobe Bryant’s, or Tiger Woods’ mug on it, you can’t buy it. And they wonder why the sport hasn’t caught on.

At this writing, we face a dominating German team Friday in the quarterfinals, and who knows how these upstart Americans will do. But if the same squad that ran Mexico ragged today shows up, plan on bratwurst for breakfast.

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Angry Ink

A Time For Anger

A Time For Anger

“Laugh Not In time of War”

What I Saw When the War Started

I had a first-hand view of the destruction of the World Trade Center yesterday (I’m writing this from home on 12 September 2001). I work in Manhattan, roughly five blocks north of where the Twin Towers used to stand. I’d gotten to work at 0830 (my usual time), logged onto two computers and was just about to get back to cranking out electronic specifications for a flood control project and working on a structural analysis of a rather interesting retaining structure (it’s comprised of large steel pipe piles and massive granite armor stones). We’d had some neat rainstorms on Monday and that sound I just heard sounded just like thunder. (I work on the 20th floor of my building and can see the WTC from my office, though I was on the eastern side of the building – not my usual seat – when the first plane hit.) “What the heck was that?” I asked a coworker across from me. She smiled and indicated that she didn’t know; we both looked outside the window and, man, was it a gorgeous, clear day. Then George, an architect approached Alex, an architect, and said “…an airplane just hit the World Trade Center.” Alex, a crusty old man nearing retirement, said, “Man, they get King Kong, bombs, now a plane.” I shook it off and thought that George was overreacting or even passing on a rumor. Then again, I thought, there’s nothing too unusual or unexpected about, say, a small plane veering off course and hitting the WTC. I actually thought it was a construction accident, something on the order of a very large garbage truck or crane falling off a pier, at any rate the sound was not unfamiliar.

I made it back to my regular desk when I heard the second sound. “What, another one?” I thought to myself. Being a New Yorker, I’m used to a lot of noises, and I’m naturally skeptical regarding the source. Nevertheless, there was a buzz in the air, something happened. So I walked over to the southeast side of the floor and looked out a window with Tom, a civil engineer. Our view of the twin towers is mostly blocked by other buildings, but we could see Broadway, below, and people were running north and taxicabs were backing up. The latter was an eerie site.

Still, you know what? My building wasn’t in imminent danger so I went back to my desk. I knew that rumors would fly, so I wasn’t doing anything other than act like everything was normal until I heard an official word over the PA system. In fact, just as I finished explaining to the “new guy” that if there were reason to evacuate a message would come over the PA, the message came over the PA instructing us to leave the building, using the stairs.

OK, grab the bag, that cup of coffee I hadn’t yet touched and head on out. I met up with Norm, an accountant, who knew a “secret way” that opened to the street, rather than to the lobby of the building. About ten minutes later, I was out on the street, walking north on Broadway. I looked south and saw smoke and people walking towards me. I saw a coworker in line at a pay phone and said “hello.” From there I made my way west, down Leonard Street (that’s where the Knitting Factory is) to Avenue of the Americas and found a good spot.

My first reaction was one of awe. Right away, I believed what I saw. I also somehow knew that the building could not fall down. Anyone who has taken a steel structure design course has seen the photos of the WTC’s foundation and is aware of the incredible strength of these buildings: they’re designed to take an impact from an airplane. I watched for several minutes as the flames burned and the enormous amount of smoke and paper billowed out of the building. I did not, repeat, did not, see any people jumping out of buildings nor did I see any people clinging to windows – though from photos I saw in the paper, people jumped and people were clinging to windows. I guess these folks were on the other side, out of my view, which makes sense, I guess. I didn’t want to see people jumping, if there’s one thing I don’t think people should do, it’s jump out of a building: help is on the way and as long as you’re alive, even if you’re on fire, help is on the way, don’t give up. I watched more flames and I watched a lot of ambulances, some obviously coming from across the Hudson River in New Jersey, rushing south. I figured that the situation was under control and there was nothing to do but walk home.

And walk I did. On my way north, I passed hundreds of people and most of them had cameras, so I didn’t regret not having one… A few minutes later I had made it a block past Canal Street and something had happened. I heard a young man of color yell “Damn, the building fell down!” People began running west. I joined them. It can’t fall down, I thought to myself… I, of course, was wrong: where there used to be a burning tower there was only so much smoke. I continued walking. I passed more people with cameras, a couple of news crews, people crowded around stopped cars with their radios on and doors opened. I made it to my gym, a couple of blocks above Houston Street and decided to hang out with the crowd and watch the second tower. It fell about ten minutes later.

My jaw dropped, but again, I believed everything I saw. It pancaked, that is, the floors fell down on each other, with a strange “whoosh.” The giant TV antenna on the roof, cascading down, was the last of the building I saw before the whole thing disappeared into a massive cloud of smoke (this is the best link on the collapse). “That’s it,” I said out loud and walked back home. There I fired up the computer, made several phone calls letting everyone know I was all right, and cranked out the expected e-mail messages to everyone I could. The rest of the day was spent simply doing nothing but talking to people on the phone, web surfing and listening to Carnivore and S.O.D.

A Plan

My thoughts about what happened came to me as I watched the towers burn, prior to the collapse. First, those responsible had obviously planned the attacks. Planning means learning how to fly planes, determining where to hit the buildings, how much fuel they would have to use as explosive, how to reach ramming speed, what time of day to make the most impact, etc. This team of assassins – and their leaders and financiers – probably spent months, maybe years planning, plotting, replaying the events over and over again. Maybe they used computer models. Maybe they used physical models like sand tables, even large-scale movie sets? Who knows? One thing is for sure: these people were good, very good. I wouldn’t be surprised if an attack of this magnitude wasn’t thought up years ago, maybe in a desert palace, maybe in Hollywood.

How could you fake out the existing radar grids and other air traffic control systems? I’m sure it’s relatively easy if you actually try and have the right resources. First of all, New York City and the Washington, D.C. area are no strangers to low-flying airplanes. There are three major, international airports in New York City, dozens of regional airports all over the place, several heliports and even a few landing areas for seaplanes (they can fly right down on to the East River, even). So an airplane flying over Manhattan would be seen as nothing seriously unusual. In Washington, low-flying planes are equally common as there are two major airports in the area. In fact, about twenty years ago a plane crashed into the 16th Street Bridge! An attack on Camp David would be a little bit harder, since it is not easy to find, but since it’s in a rural part of Maryland, a low-flying plane wouldn’t be noticed until, again, it was too late.

I’m sure, as well, that the hijackers were not strangers to the airports. I’ve heard some reports indicating some bungling, but their mission was carried out, so the bungling (like leaving Arabic flight manuals at Logan Airport, etc.) didn’t have an effect. They may have taken the flight several times. Is purchase of a one-way ticket unusual? Maybe, maybe not. But with the internet being the way it is and some of the weirdness one goes through to get the best prices on a flight, maybe a one-way ticket isn’t such a big deal. Also, it’s college season, so if I’m flying from Boston to L.A., and I’m a UCLA student, I’m not coming back for a couple of months, so…

So I had it all figured out.

Then I got madder and madder and madder. So I stopped writing and yelled at my computer monitor for several hours, ok, so it’s a regular hobby of mine, anyway…

At the time of this writing, estimates of the dead are over 20,000. That’s ten times those at Pearl Harbor. That’s a lot of people. As far as people go, I had one immediate friend who worked at the World Financial Center. She was evacuated and got home safe. On the professional side of things, I worked with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and their office was high in the first tower. They’re gone. I’ve also been in the WTC numerous times for meetings and as a passage-way to the trains and ferries to New Jersey. They’re pretty much history, too. (At the time of me finishing this essay, the number has dwindled to slightly above 6,000, but I reserve the right to revise the number, by proxy, for many months to come).

What would David Lee Beowulf Do?

(begin mosh part)

As I mentioned above, these people were really good. And that is precisely why nothing should be taken away from the U.S. Intelligence community concerning this. Determined terrorists have studied every nook and cranny of the possible leaks in their plan, they work in cells, and they may have had moles or other sources within the C.I.A. or F.B.I. or F.A.A. or any agency. Robert Hanssen existed for fifteen years before getting caught, and he was the best. How many more are there out there? Even if the terrorists are only one step ahead of our security apparatus, they’re still ahead. Is it their own fault that human beings can be bought? Is it their own fault that the leftist/communist media portrays our intelligence services as the “Great Satan” rather than defenders of American citizens’ interests? No matter how “bad” the various intelligence agencies may or may not be, they still exist for one purpose: preserving, protecting and promoting the American citizen’s way of life. If you don’t like it here, pack your shit and leave.

It is also unfair and stupid to point a finger at the Army pertaining to them “allowing” an attack on the Pentagon. In this country we do not have batteries of anti-aircraft guns set up at every Federal office building. And we shouldn’t. No foreign power is stupid enough, even if they could, to attack us from the air. This attack was done by stealth and, judging from the reports, the Pentagon was a secondary target. After all, they missed General Shelton – someone you do not want to upset. They were going to the White House, a Federal building that has been barricaded from traffic since the Clinton Administration. My theory is that they either learned that President Bush wasn’t there or that they saw fighter planes in the air – do not mess with our fighters. Also, we are a nation generally at peace and we are not a paranoid state, thus we do not have tanks running through the streets, jet fighters in the sky and locked and loaded anti-aircraft batteries all over the place. Frankly, I don’t want to live in a country that does.

And that leads me to another thread. I have lived in a country, or let’s say a part of a country, that is on heightened military alert all the time. It is absolutely fantastic if you happen to be in charge of the area, but it must blow if you’re not. Thus, “it is good to be the king” is quite a practical motto. And it’s about time we thought of ourselves as kings of the world rather than casual observers. I personally believe in the divine right of kings. What that means is that people put in power should wield such with prudence and with honor and other things that make a good king. If you don’t, then you’ll

lose that crown. So it’s time for America to take control of the rest of the world. The nations we have beat in war we’ve become friends with, excepting Iraq, but that’s another story.

I’ll say it again: It is extremely unfair to put blame on the US intelligence community. Shit, these people – mostly “underpaid” Federal employees – have been dumped on day and night for years and years (note: I put “underpaid” in quotes because, in truth, Federal workers are well-paid, everyone else is overpaid and underskilled). Their budgets have been cut back, their tactics – real and perceived – have been excoriated by the communist/leftist media establishment, and they are universally seen as tools in the “evil” plot to Americanize the world.

Well, shit, how bad would that be? Everyone would have clean, running water, a couple of cars, access to punk rock and heavy metal, “tolerance,” not to mention plenty of food and, believe it or not, good “health care.” How many of you people don’t like your life? How many of you don’t like it here? Why don’t you fuckin’ leave, then? Personally, I like the way of life I enjoy as an American. And if the way we did things was so bad, “those damned foreigners” wouldn’t be scrambling to get in here. The Ishmalite country, no doubt the originating point of the mad engineers who destroyed the Twin Towers, probably puts to death their otherwise good citizens for “blasphemy” – something generally regarded as a victimless crime in these parts. Some of those wonderfully enlightened nations regularly mutilate their women under the guise of penalty for religious crimes, and as a matter of course include torture as punishment for whatever crimes the perp’s been convicted of. These are civilized nations? We want these people meddling in our internal affairs? Should we bow at the whim of a leader who’s nation puts a woman to death for driving a car? In this country we put cops who are convicted of torture in jail for the rest of their lives. We ruin the careers of professionals for the minutest of insults (real or perceived). We condemn the slightest act of defensive violence and go so far as to make self defense a crime. And teach our children to submit to the hand rather than bite it.

Stop Being Ignorant, Arrogant Pussies

Journalists must exercise responsibility and excise the cyst that is the communist/leftist press. These people would have one believe that Hitler was a minority among Germans and that the atrocities committed at his command were executed by a minority of willing henchmen. That is not true: the German people were more than willing to kill, even in the (um, extremely rare, no, make that non-existent) event that a gun was at their head. Read the history of the destruction of Lidice and tell me if an apology for Dresden is even remotely necessary. And let me remind everyone that we gave Japan fair warning that we’d utterly destroy their cities – you don’t believe us? Ok… Maybe Pearl Harbor and the Bataan Death March and the Rape of Nanking deserved ten times the payback we punched out at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The fifth columnists would also have one believe that America ignores it’s own “atrocities.” Never mind that Mei Lai was played back over and over again since it happened; there were trials and media exploitation. Time and time again, the relatively minor actions of American soldiers in desperate situations are paraded by the leftist/communist media as stark examples of the horrible nature of our armed forces and thus we don’t even need a military! Our military/defense is portrayed as a dinosaur, as “fascist,” as anything but necessary and important. Any military action taken by America is subject to extreme, public scrutiny by the communist/leftist media and it never fares well. From the safety of their ivory towers they sit luxuriously, far from harm’s way, begrudging the success of America and lifting their noses at the 19-years olds who join the Army and carry out their orders.

Who can say America doesn’t look on itself at its worst without shame? Only the communists.

Now is the time to purge the nation of these fifth columnists. They offer nothing but obstruction and have no solution other than submission to the UN or some to-be-determined world government body. Why are these people in America? Leave! Renounce your citizenship in the country you hate! It is time for the people of the United States to rise up and boycott the fifth column – besides, if you have web access, why are you paying for newspapers and magazines in the first place?

A Man

Is it the USA’s fault, ultimately, for bringing this horror upon ourselves? The answer is NO! It is well-documented that the US funded the Mujahadin and still “funds” the Taliban (don’t grow opium poppies…), but this has NOTHING to do with fueling mad engineers’ desires to destroy (or destabilize) the United States. The C.I.A. “supported” the Mujahadin for the noble purpose of booting the USSR out of Afghanistan; hopefully the history books teach about Russia’s invasion and the US’s public reaction (President Carter withdrew the US from the 1980 summer Olympics). This has nothing to do with the speculation that Osama bin Laden is ultimately responsible for the WTC attack. Bin Laden is from Saudi Arabia, is already rich, is already educated, and already mad. It may well be that the U.S. Support ultimately led to the Taliban being in charge of Afghanistan, but, again, that has nothing to do with an attack on the U.S. Frankly, Islamic clerics are some of the most honest, well-educated people around and the Quran prohibits the slaughter of those who are not oppressors. Large-scale attacks on a non-military target filled with wealthy American liberals – and I am well-aware that a large number were Jewish – (some of the workers killed were of Arabic descent, too!) and the “help” and the coffee carts run by Muslims hardly fit the definition for righteous destruction set forth by the Prophet (peace be unto him); re: Sura 60… Osama bin Laden could’ve set up shop anywhere that would have him (which he has…), he could have bought an island in Indonesia, even. His money came from his family’s construction business, not from U.S. handouts. It is absolute ignorance to point the finger at “ourselves” in blame for these attacks. Likewise it is irresponsible for anyone to intimate that the US “deserved” the attacks because of “arrogant” foreign policy. Did we not save the lives of tens of thousands of devout Muslims in Kosovo? Did we not save the lives of tens of thousands of devout Muslims in Kuwait?

It also should be mentioned that Osama bin Laden ought to be questioned as to why he doesn’t use his wealth, position and education (he’s a civil engineer by academic training) to help people rather than blow them up. Afghanistan is in horrible shape (by Western standards, of course, but clean water shouldn’t be an option) and I’m sure bin Laden, were he really interested in Zakat, would design and build the best infrastructure for Kabul his money could buy! Then the world would marvel at the tender mercies of Allah.

Afghanistan

In great empires, error will be great (that’s a line from “Ben-Hur,” but it sure rings true for the U.S. of A.). Yet what nation other than the United States begrudges itself? Even our victories are held in contempt! What madness this is! No other nation in the history of the world has done more to promote the liberty of the individual than the U.S., yet we are reviled for it and nations everywhere would do the utmost to erase the truth and to enslave our people! Heck, we would even enslave ourselves were the communist/leftist media to be in charge!

To this point, however, it is smart to wait before attacking anyone. First of all, unless we are 100% sure that bin Laden was, in fact, responsible for the attacks, then we’d better not lob so much as a practice grenade at Afghanistan or anyone else. If we’re wrong, we give a lot of countries the excuse to not be our friends. We’re also not officially at war with anyone as Congress hasn’t adopted a declaration of such. What I would expect “us” to do is step up covert actions/reconaissance missions against the wide variety of terrorist activities all over the world, including extraditing (i.e., kidnapping) the leaders and bringing them to the U.S. for trial. Hey, you can get arrested for anything; likewise you can be indicted for almost anything; likewise you can be acquitted of anything. Custody is the key.

Also, I mentioned Kosovo above. The media was pretty successful in reporting the human rights violations, real or otherwise, perpetrated by Yugoslavia against its own people. The human rights violations against their own people committed by “conservative” Islamic theocracies (i.e., Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Oman, etc.) have been well-documented and are current in the media as well. For example, a month ago in Cosmopolitan magazine, nestled in amongst the tips on fellatio technique for young girls, was a well-illustrated article on mutilation of Pakistani women for “honor” crimes. They had a photo of a woman whose eyes were gouged out and her nose cut off. The offender: her husband. There is also the Pakistani practice of throwing acid into the faces of unveiled women. Let us not forget the Afghan practice of bulldozing homosexuals to death, the Saudi practice of beheading women drivers,the Sudanese (and others’) practice of female circumsicion and chattel slavery, the total repression of free speech, music, movies, etc. In short, just about everything we in America happen to really like is illegal and aggressively prosecuted in the various and sundry Islamic theocracies. I’m sure “the media” could easily work up their American viewers into a healthy anti-Islamic fever if they wanted to… “Hello, Christine Amanpour? Hi! Um, will CNN run a story about why it’s a capital offense to drink alcohol in some of these countries? No? OK…”

Honest Patriotism

It’s a good time to be a patriot. It’s pretty much suicidal to scoff at displays of the American flag and flag-waving. Now I’ve heard the smugly atheistic liberal communists rant against such “jingoism” and between you and me, they’re not too bright. Then again, with the last three generations being taught to look upon such displays with disgust, it’s not surprising. Get with the program, dummies, it’s what the country needs right now. And frankly, nothing irritates our enemies more than U.S. citizens of all ethnicities displaying the star-spangled banner. I really like seeing Old Glory proudly displayed by folks from Turkmenistan who own the bakery down the street: they didn’t come here to colonize us, they came to be part of us. The same goes for the Pakistani bodegas, the Afghan coffee carts, the Ajerii hot dog (all beef, no pork) stands, and the Turkish rug merchants.

We have to be intellectually honest, too. Don’t call this a “disaster.” This was an attack, a terrorist action, it was a sucker punch, but it was not a “disaster.” Save that word for tornados, hurricanes, Godzilla and earthquakes. “Disaster Relief” doesn’t really sound right in this case, does it? Is it a “tragedy”? No. It is tragic, but not a tragedy. A tragedy would be if the WTC was an orphanage. Quite the contrary, it was a capitol of privately concentrated wealth and the excess luxury that kind of wealth can afford. Windows on the World, arguably the most trendy (and unaffordable) bar in New York City, located on the top of Tower 1, was utterly destroyed. I would venture that 99% of the “yuppies” who got loaded there on a regular basis were liberal voters who’ve voted for Democrats all their lives. Likewise, most of the extremely rich people who worked in the building itself, as well as most of the support people and workers in the many boutiques, newsstands, coffee shops, book stores, tie shops, etc. were registered Democrats. The terrorists killed a lot of people who aren’t hawkish and generally support diplomatic solutions to international situations, i.e., they killed people who support appeasement in favor of violent action.

That’s the thanks they get…

Honest Common Defense

I am an American citizen and as such I enjoy the right to lawfully do and say what I want in this country and to live my live knowing that I am secure in my papers and person. I do not want to be labeled a suspect simply because of, say, I subscribe to this or that magazine, read the occasional book published by Loompanics or because I write for Ink Nineteen. Therefore I am 100% against any law that even hints at “profiling” suspicious persons. That is, I am 100% against the government maintaining lists of Muslims or people with last names that “look” Arabic. That will do nothing but give terrorists (and others) a lot of good reasons to attack the U.S., the least of which being to free their people. I am, however, 100% for forbidding any travel to the US from any terrorist nation. I am also 100% for executing, immediately, people trying to enter the country illegally. I am 100% for establishing “host nation agreements” with countries bordering terrorist nations allowing U.S. Troops to patrol, mine and defend such borders against any human trying to cross in from the terrorist nation. Guess what: this is serious, you liberal pukes have prima facia evidence that you are wrong about foreign policy (that is, when you’re the King, act like one, don’t be a pussy) and it is time for you to change over from the dark side or leave the U.S.

As far as putting people in camps, I am well aware that “we” put Japanese Americans in camps during World War Two.

<Truth, but sarcasm>Not surprisingly, it was a Democratic administration that did it</truth, but sarcasm>.

But I also am aware that reparations were paid to the families, albeit roughly 50 years later. Still, there is no reason whatsoever to intern citizens of any particular ethnicity. There’s a darn good reason to not let foreign nationals of a particular nationality (not ethnicity) into the country, to be sure. Heck there are a lot of reasons to deny entry to the US to a lot of people, where do we start? How about we start with the British? Seriously, again, the only way to keep “us” safe is to inspect people’s minds and that is not possible without striking the 1st and 4th Amendments from the U.S. Constitution.

As an American citizen I enjoy the right to go when and where I please. I do not want “police” checkpoints where my “papers” are checked becoming part of my daily life. I don’t mind wearing a badge at my place of work, but that’s work, when I’m outside of work no one needs to know who I am unless I want them to. Police harassment of lawful citizens, especially of citizens of Arabic descent will, again, only give the terrorists good reasons to attack us.

Plus, establishing a police state will do nothing but harm law-abiding citizens. Look at how much good the airport security did this time? You know what? Airport security measures are very good at catching honest people doing nothing. I loathe air travel because of it. It has gotten to the point that I have to take off so much of my clothing prior to going through a metal detector that I’ve considered going naked in protest. I take off my belt with the big Viking buckle. I take off my shoes because they have metal eyelets. I empty my pockets in to my carry-on, I take off my watch, remove my glasses, I wear special shorts with no metal “rivets” or anything else on them. Then what? They want to go through my carry-on. You can’t win. Yet what the fuck??? The WTC terrorists got through without a hitch! All the extra security measures will do is make air travel even more miserable than it already is. Did these terrorists have guns? No. Did they have bombs (I don’t think so, now) no. What they had were box cutters. So now you can’t carry box cutters on planes, OK. Well, what’s to stop an insider from planting something on a plane? Nothing.

And another thing: so what if “we” trained the pilots? People in this country have a right to pay for whatever education they want. Let me tell you this: the minute we start questioning why someone wants to take this or that class or whatever, the ACLU or Ron Kuby or whomever will be out in force defending your civil rights – and I’ll freakin’ join them! The last thing this country needs is to give the liberal communists a really good reason to picket the government, like genuine discrimination regarding education. In this country people are innocent until proven guilty. Arrests are made after the fact (sometimes before, right?), which means we sometimes suffer through horrible events, sometimes needlessly, but it is a free country, no?

Also, what if they simply take over a plane with muscle power alone? There are offensive fighting techniques using only one’s hands, right? What can be done, then? Very little without seriously infringing upon the rights of American citizens. Meaning, you’ll have to watch “suspicious” people and develop files on them describing what they read, where they work, etc. The result will be a paranoid, Kafka-esque world much like that of Brazil. I would hate to live in a world like that. All the security in the world can’t determine what’s in someone’s head unless air travelers are required to submit to truth-serum injections and interrogations prior to boarding a plane. So let’s all be honest and admit that these terrorists are clever bastards and the way to beat them is to be smarter than they are and subsequently kill them.

Turn, Turn, Turn

The time is not for “healing.” Healing what? Our relationships with people who’ve been a witness to the way America works? Witnesses to the fact that Americans aren’t such bad people? Why should we “mend fences” with ingrates? Those 20,000 dead folks aren’t going to be healed. In fact, I’ll wager that their only “crime” was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Do their families need “healing”? Hell no! Terrorist’s demands cannot be met, they want to kill you all, it’s their job! I don’t want to hear any crap about “oh, can’t we just all get along” or “lets’ try to negotiate” or “if we’d listen to them” or this shit or that shit or condemning Israel as “racist” – I don’t think so. The time is really for cleaning up the mess and being strong.

I am not scared. I am, though, surprised at people who are scared by this. What’s up with that? Why just three days ago, you laughed in the face of death! New Yorkers cross the street, against the light, without looking both ways! You people scoff at the slightest hint that there are threats against your freedom “out there”! I’ll bet you even thought “W” was going to start a war (hint: he didn’t start this one) were he to be elected! Aren’t you the people who break drug laws and other rules without the slightest thought of being caught? (You can talk yourselves out of it, right?) Aren’t you the people who constantly eschew the Cold War as an overreaction on the part of the U.S.? So what the hell is up with wetting yourselves over a couple of buildings and a measly 20,000 people? Didn’t you laugh at the destruction in such films as “Independence Day” and “Mars Attacks”? Well, now it’s real. It’s at home and you’re all realizing that you’re pussies. David Lee Beowulf is not a pussy and I’ll tell you one thing: I’ve never been stupid enough to laugh at death.

It’s time, also, to be responsible with our own personal economies. The economy isn’t a faceless entity that moves one way or the other because of an invisible hand. We’re all part of it and frankly it’s not patriotic to buy stock and make someone else rich. It is, on the other hand, patriotic to use your hard-earned money wisely. The WTC’s purpose was to make rich people through a minimum of work, now that it’s gone, get back to work and make money the old-fashioned way, earn it! It’s unpatriotic to be lured into gambling: gambling is generally forbidden in Muslim countries, we could actually learn something from them, you know (we’ve done all right with algebra, haven’t we? why not other things?).

Humility

I started writing this essay immediately, but I just couldn’t finish as I was too mad (a good friend is buried under that rubble – Johnny Heff, of the Bullys) and opted let things calm down and read as much as I could before letting off a good rant. The links below (they worked at the time of this writing…) are to good essays/stories about the attacks. One of the problems with being David Lee Beowulf (there are many) is that I have to read my stuff about a thousand times, you only have to read it once or twice before clicking the “back” button. There are a lot of writers/reporters/others who are much, much better at this than I am and who have more to say. I don’t agree with all of these folks, some I hardly agree with at all! But for the most part they’re expressing challenging points, worth a read by everyone, including the commies out there who hate America. I’ll note that I’m biased toward National Review, but it’s the most established “right” magazine out there that’s accessible on a mass basis. I don’t cite the Nation because most of you probably read it already (I read it, too, it sucks), and besides, they’re the liberal/communists I don’t like, same with Z magazine and lots more.

www.nationalreview.com/coulter/coulter091301.shtml

www.nationalreview.com/derbyshire/derbyshire091201.shtml

www.balaams-ass.com/journal/theworld/sept11.htm

www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-gelernter091401.shtml

www.salon.com/news/feature/2001/09/18/spooks/index.html

www.nationalreview.com/nr_comment/nr_comment092001b.shtml

www.nytimes.com/2001/09/23/opinion/23SANN.html

www.nationalreview.com/daily/nr091201.shtml

www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg092501.shtml

www.nationalreview.com/contributors/ledeen092501.shtml

www.salon.com/news/col/horo/2001/09/26/treason/index_np.html

www.salon.com/news/feature/2001/09/25/modernity/index.html

www.salon.com/people/feature/2001/09/26/arab_club/index.html

(note, there’s a good chance that one’s not true. I live in Manhattan, near a few “Arab”-owned businesses, including a popular Mosque, and there’s no indication of any such activity at all. It is a huge opportunity for the communists – people who hate a free America – to pin the “racist” card on “Americans” for purposes of creating a social destability – why? To distract you while they take over – and an intelligent person would scrutinize every so-called “report” of Arab bashing.)

If you’re a pro-American Viking, like me, most of this is preaching to the choir. If you’re a “liberal puke” who thinks this is all bullshit, what makes you think you have all the answers? You don’t (neither do I), so challenge yourselves and read the “opposition,” you might learn something.

And if you really want a scare related to all this and what is coming, check out the Book of Ezekiel.

(End mosh part)

Categories
Screen Reviews

The 3 Worlds of Gulliver

The 3 Worlds of Gulliver

Starring Kermit Matthews and June Thorburn

USA, 1960

Medicine was kind of a crummy job in 1699. Before HMOs came along, a chicken or a cabbage was already good pay for services rendered. Taking up as a ship’s surgeon was the equivalent of joining an Internet start-up, and the idealistic and ambitious Lemuel Gulliver (Matthews) wants to grasp while the iron is hot. Sexy wife Elizabeth (June Thorburn) would just as soon he stay home and do the This Old House thing. Well, it’s either adventure time or HGTV. Elizabeth stows away and Gulliver is swept overboard, washing up on the shores of diminutive Lilliput. Gulliver tries to bring peace and reason to the locals, but they would rather mount war on the flea circus next door. They’re like the Romulans and the Klingons, only cuter.

Redistribution of wealth is trickier than it appears, so Big G heads out, only to land in Brobdingrag, land of the credulous giants. Deus Ex Machina! Guess who’s here to greet him – scrumptious Elizabeth in harem pants! Her ship conveniently sank, leaving her the only survivor and now favorite of the King (Gregoire Aslan). While Gulliver is happy to get some action, life in the gilded cage soon tires. Gulliver realizes their position is tenuous. He nails fate by beating the king at chess, only to be accused of sorcery. We burn witches here, you know, and Gulliver gets the chance to do battle with a Ray Harryhausen crocodile first. Poor croc, poor Gulliver – Gulliver does him in, and must now flee the county. Not easy when you’re two inches tall.

For a film aimed at kids, an amazing amount of Swift’s social satire remains. The movie is split in two parts, not only by the physical differences of Lilliput and Brobdingrag, but by Gulliver’s motives and actions. The first half emphasizes peace and cooperation and prosperity though improved production. The second half focuses on the need for goals and actions to achieve personal fulfillment, and that sitting fat and happy on the public payroll destroys a man. There’s the overall struggle between Gulliver’s ambitions and Elizabeth’s desire for stability dominates, and marital bliss involves compromising both party’s desires. Pretty heavy for a kids’ film. Filmed in Superdynamation, a sort of double printing process, the giant/midget effects are quite nice, and the process allows astonishing blue skies in every scene. Overall, the color and cinematography are outstanding, and if you gotta watch a kids’ film, this is an excellent choice.

Categories
Screen Reviews

In Bad Taste: The John Waters Story

In Bad Taste: The John Waters Story

Directed by Steve Yeager

Documentary, USA, 1999

There’s a litmus test that separates the true cinema buff from those who simply go to a lot of movies — do you know John Waters? Thirty years ago, John Waters crept into the world of film making as the arbiter of bad taste in cinema. Free from the limits of conventional film financing (i.e. no money whatsoever), Waters created a new genre. He invented the midnight movie — films so perverse, so disgusting, so far-out that they could not be shown to that segment of the American public that holds any sort of steady day job. Waters’ films are the original slacker events. Featuring homosexuality and big hair, coprophagy and cha cha shoes, he rose from humble Baltimore to the level of Roger Corman and Lloyd Kaufman.

Interviews with Waters, his stars, and his technical crew paint him as a fun-loving guy with a truly sick vision. He shocks without offending, offends with out shocking, and documents what we Americans want, way deep down, so far down we don’t realize it ourselves. His dozen or so films show a strong artistic progression, mirroring not only his maturation (oh, say to about age 12), but society’s increased tolerance of its own sleazy underbelly. Willing to bake a rat for art, John Waters message is simple and to the point — nothing is in bad taste if it makes you laugh.

Categories
Interviews

USA

USA

Why would you choose USA as your band name? I still don’t know. I’m still learning how to conduct a successful interview, and I definitely learned some more things not to do during an interview. Still, even after I made the mistake of introducing gender issues, this was entertaining. I think I may have mentioned this previously, but what appeals to me so much about USA is their ability to play pop music without following many formulas, patterns, or expected pop song traits. Conversely, it could be quite possible that USA has digested so much pop music over the years that they’re now able to vomit up every trick recorded over the past 30 years in a nearly-controlled stream of high pitches and harmonized esotericisms. And that’s not supposed to make USA sound putrid, that’s just what came to mind.

You will find referenced in this feature two USA albums: Ybissai Baby and Little Birds, both available from Drag City. Ybissai Baby was released first, and contained driving rhythms and unexpected twists and turns. Little Birds was released a little while later as what appeared to be an aborted concept album about either Chicago roads or Egypt.

••

I just noticed who recorded the two USA albums. What was it like to work with Bundy K. Brown and Jim O’Rourke? I’ve noticed that some other things that O’Rourke’s been involved in have ended up sounding like something he might record (like the last Smog album). Little Birds doesn’t sound like he had his hand in it at all.

Gene Booth (guitar, keyboards, vocals): Jim’s a prince, Bundy’s a great guy. Both share with me untapped reservoirs of love for the ’73-’74 period of King Crimson, so how could working together be bad? Working at Solid Sound in Hoffman Estates opened up a lot of possibilities that weren’t available to us at Soma, like the magic signal processor with effect names like “Brite ‘n’ Tight.” Can you imagine what that sounds like? I don’t remember the name of the wind effect we culled from that box for the moment in “Seven Faces,” but it was somewhere around #154 or #155. Jim says he wants go all out on the next record, the only blatant tinkering (in the “Jim”ing sense) was some “clap” sounding drums triggered by Corre’s kit on “He Hath Comet.” Next time we may not get off so easy.

Devin Johnston (guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals): Both experiences were very positive, both of them worked to reflect the sound we wanted without being intrusive. Bundy had to endure our inexperience (and demands such as “we want that guitar to sound like it’s underwater”); he had heard us live, and I think that recording is pretty faithful to the way we were sounding at the time. A year later, recording Little Birds, O’Rourke had far more to respond to (our songs were more developed). His advice was often instrumental to the success of those songs: at a chaotic point in the long process of recording “Seven Faces,” he confirmed Corre’s suggestion that the vocals needed redoing. I think one of his great strengths though is that he leaves no fingerprints.

Brian Calvin (guitar, keyboard, bass, vocals): When we recorded with Bundy, we had never even properly heard our vocals at all. We really didn’t know what we were doing. We played live just as we did in our practice space and did very few overdubs. I don’t think it was really a project where Bundy’s aesthetic was in full view. For Little Birds, we wanted a different feel. We had now heard ourselves and desired some improvements in our “sound.” Little Birds was written much more with the recording process in mind. Jim was great at helping us realize ideas we had and at shooting down some things that weren’t working. But he definitely wasn’t “producing” the record as he did with Smog. If he had, I know he would have made a lot of changes. We plan on having him as much more of a producer on at least a couple of the cuts on our next album. Did I mention that Jim is a prince?

Corre Dilworth (drums, vocals): It’s great working with Bundy and Jim, because they’re our friends and we love them. Bundy was real limited in what he could [do] because we only had seven working tracks at Soma. But I think Ybissai‘s sound suits those songs.

The songs on Little Birds are more complex and have a lot more going on than those on Ybissai Baby. How did a song such as “7 Faces” or “Ashland Flies” evolve? None of these songs sound like any one person sat down and came up with them. It almost sounds like three or four people came in with different songs and tried to cram them all into the same drum beat.

Brian: You basically got it right.

Gene: Democracy in action. “Ashland Flies” actually begins with the lyrical structure of Sting’s (huge USA influence by the way, both pre- and post-Police) “Fields of Gold” so his “bla bla bla bla bla/ as you kiss her mouth/ and walk through field of gold” turns into our “in the lines the minds/ are preoccupied/ dreaming of the highway” etcetera. The basic idea is yes, like REM and even worse/better bands like them before us, someone brings something in and the rest hammer it into something unrecognizable. Even the lyrics in the above two cases involved throwing ideas into a pot with a premise, trying to out-funny (or whatever) the others and staying in the rhyme/rhythm schema. Actually I suspect a lot of bands just SAY that’s how they work.

Devin: Both of those two began with a few parts Gene had come up with and (believe it or not) a sense of the sort of additive structure we wanted. More and more often, one member (or two together) will bring in the skeleton of a song, and we will collectively work on it; the result is, as often as not, entirely distinct from the original version.

Corre: Writing and recording “Seven Faces” was like giving birth to a three-headed baby. It was never, at any point, effortless. “Ashland Flies” came together really quickly. Gene had a skeleton and the rest of us filled in. I think you’re right in that “Seven Faces” feels kind of disjointed. I think we pulled “Ashland Flies” off, though.

I heard some Mantis the other day. Is that you singing on that?

Gene: Yep.

How did you get from there to USA?

Gene: Two steps forward, one step back.

How did the tour with Palace go? Do you contribute to many other Drag City projects?

Gene: A third were really good shows, a third really bad shows, Atlanta was amazing, Will doing his best Dolores O’Riordan — it is, of course, regarded as the worst Palace tour ever in the history books, due to some hyper Canadians with email, but if you saw the Southern leg you know different. There’s a live track of “Blockbuster” from that tour on the Felidae comp.

How long has Miss Dilworth been playing drums? She plays drums more like an instrument than like a set of drums. At the risk of generalizing… is it possible that women approach the drums differently than men? Instead of trying to hurt the drums, maybe they are more interested in playing them? I am wondering because I see similarities between the way Corre plays drums and the way that girl in Sleater Kinney plays drums. They both look for ways to turn it another instrument.

Gene: You may have really bitten it off with this one, bub — I can’t wait to see what she says. I’ll bet money it will include the question “would you be asking her this if she was a man?” and even though this is her turf, I’m sufficiently piqued to ask myself. Would you be asking her this if she was a man? Why isn’t there a question about the way men and women’s guitar styles differ in this interview?

Devin: I’m sure that Corre will answer the question about her drums, though I would throw in the following: It would be difficult to trace her drum-style too directly to gender. However one deals with that issue, her responsiveness, and her ability to think beyond technique to consider how a song comes together, are pretty central to the way we sound.

Brian: I love the way Corre drums. I really prefer openness to precision in drummers. Like Mick Avory did for the Kinks, Corre pushes USA songs into a really different realm with her parts.

Corre: I’ve been playing drums about six years. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, bringing up the fact that I’m female is dangerous business. I’m going to help escort you into the next century by not answering that question. Unless, of course, you want to hear some bullshit about the natural rhythm of my menstrual cycle.

What is the response like at the live shows? Here’s my vision of a show in Chicago: You guys are playing to a crowd of 50 or so people, all of whom are in another band or two. One by one, they’re either asked to come up and play their xylophone or drum machine or they just walk up and grab a mike until two or three lonely drunk souls are left to watch the spectacle. At this time everyone on stage decides that what they’re doing sounds really good and an album is subsequently released.

Gene: I miss the days of live reviews. We’re a completely different thing live, and it’s funny, because your vision is pretty accurate, except that the 50 start onstage and leave one by one until we’re all in the other room playing video golf. And there’s a lot of heckling, but we call it “sharing.”

Devin: Our live performances have really changed over the years. Early on, the music was fairly undisciplined, though we had a sense of spectacle in the presentation: dramatic skits, jokes, etc. On some occasions, we were greeted with some resistance: in Kalamazoo, I recall, playing with Gastr del Sol, someone kept yelling at us. Since then, we have worked to focus on our own UMOJA or harmony rather than audience response. As a result, the music has become much more spiritual. Nobody joins in from the audience, but we do.

Ybissai Baby = excited, confused, unfocused and focused adrenaline, drunk. Little Birds = precision, high pitches, brainstorming, drunk, late nights The next USA album = ???

Corre: The next USA album = pretty, sublime, melancholy, sober, free jazz — scratch that last part — pretty, sublime, melancholy, sober (but not sobering), poetry and luv.

Categories
Music Reviews

USA

USA

Little Birds

Drag City

Somewhere in Chicago is a road named Ashland, which plays such a large role in the collective daily lives of the members of USA that 3 songs on their album revel in pop madness in a call for a return to civility on the nation’s freeways, backroads, and boulevards. And then, images of Egypt enter into the fray, periodically leaving me wondering whether this album early on had a concept which was subsequently scrapped so they could fit in their songs about old men squabbling. Little Birds jerks along pierced only by high pitched shrieks before a song twists, turns, and shudders from under its own weight and collapses momentarily into random blips before it regains its composure to lumber off into a different direction all together. Somehow, this is pop music, which is amazing, as USA rarely throw in a chorus or any discernible verse, while instead opting to build their songs as compositions or sonic journeys. Drag City, P.O. Box 476867, Chicago, IL 60647; dragcity@mcs.com

Categories
Music Reviews

USA

USA

Little Birds

Drag City

Somewhere in Chicago is a road named Ashland, which plays such a large role in the collective daily lives of the members of USA that 3 songs on their album revel in pop madness in a call for a return to civility on the nation’s freeways, backroads, and boulevards. And then, images of Egypt enter into the fray, periodically leaving me wondering whether this album early on had a concept which was subsequently scrapped so they could fit in their songs about old men squabbling. Little Birds jerks along pierced only by high pitched shrieks before a song twists, turns, and shudders from under its own weight and collapses momentarily into random blips before it regains its composure to lumber off into a different direction all together. Somehow, this is pop music, which is amazing, as USA rarely throw in a chorus or any discernible verse, while instead opting to build their songs as compositions or sonic journeys. Drag City, P.O. Box 476867, Chicago, IL 60647; dragcity@mcs.com