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Friday, March 19, 2004

DAYS: March 19, 2004

“I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.” – Voltaire

Thank you Janet, you’ve started a culture war.

Yes, in the wake of your Super Bowl peep show, the federal government has morphed into full-on Puritan mode. Since that now infamous evening (does anyone even remember who won the game??), the decency police have been out in force. Before the pasties could even be removed from Ms. Jackson’s nipples, Congress announced it was launching an investigation into indecency on the public airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission, headed by none other than Colin’s son Michael Powell, announced it would increase the fine for acts of indecency from $27,000 to $500,000. Yes, that’s half-a-million for every boob shown, which means poor Courtney Love cost herself a million the other night on Letterman. Once the federal government got involved, the dominoes began falling quickly.

CBS was the first to cave (no surprise there) when the network immediately instituted a five-second delay on its airing of the Grammy Awards. NBC’s Must-See-TV was the next to yield to the morality movement, cutting a 3-second snippet from that week’s ER. The cut portion briefly revealed an elderly woman’s breast; of course, the breast was shown in the least gratuitous context imaginable: a breast cancer exam. Nonetheless, the geriatric boob had to go. That same week ABC’s NYPD Blue, they of the landmark Dennis Franz butt shot, also cut a few seconds of nudity from its broadcast, marking the first time in 11 seasons on the air the series had censored itself. The Oscars then announced that they too would implement a tape delay on the cermony’s “live” telecast; too bad they couldn’t slice an hour or two off the tedious, self-important spectacle altogether. MTV, never to be named producers of the Super Bowl halftime show again, began moving its racier videos until after 10 p.m. Even TNT announced that it would institute a five-second delay on its broadcast of NBA games, because no one wants to accidentally catch a glimpse of Marv Albert’s crusty ass.

Oh Janet, Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty, who would’ve thought one little nipple slip could cause so much trouble. Of course, maybe we should be blaming Justin Timberlake for this whole thing. After all, he was the biggest boob on stage that night, wasn’t he?

But the FCC may have finally bit off more than it could chew. In mid-February, Powell’s crusade levied a massive fine of $715,000 against shock jocker Bubba the Love Sponge, a ribald Florida DJ known for his crude behavior and content. Bubba, an employee of corporate monolith Clear Channel Communications, was summarily given his walking papers. Clear Channel, headed by longtime Bush buddies Lowry Mays and Tom Hicks, is a well-known disciple of the Bush morality crusade. Owner of hundreds of entertainment venues and more than 1,200 radio stations nationwide, Clear Channel was the force behind the wave of pro-war – er sorry, patriotic – rallies across the country in the midst of the Iraq debacle. Clear Channel was also first in line to ban the Dixie Chicks after Natalie Maines publicly bashed Der Bush. The company has proven time and time again that it will do whatever the Bush administration wants it to. They’re kind of like the MoveOn.org of the conservative right, but with more money, more power and more crooks.

After the Love Sponge incident, Clear Channel set it sights on one Mr. Howard Stern, knocking him off the air in six markets across the country due to indecent material aired on February 24. Yes, the Howard Stern program did something indecent. Shock. Since then, Stern has launched a crusade against the Bush administration’s conservative agenda. I am not a regular Stern listener and so it came as quite a surprise to me in reading reports of the current controversy that he has been a staunch supporter of Bush’s until now. Seriously, Howard Stern is the last guy I would envision as a model Republican. How many Republicans do you know that speak regularly about their fascination with midget lesbian clown porn? Nonetheless, Stern was a Republican, but no longer. He now says that “Powell is freaking out because he doesn’t know whether fining me now and knocking me off the air will cost Bush the election.”

Ok, that seems a bit far-fetched. But with 8 million loyal listeners, the Stern army could actually make a difference, who knows? The only thing I’m certain of is that I plan to listen to as much shock-jock radio and watch as many butt-baring repeats of NYPD Blue as I can for fear that the FCC will get its way and we’ll be forced into listening to nothing but Debbie Boone records and watching reruns of the Patty Duke Show.

“I love being married. It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” – Rita Rudner

In another sign that the culture war is heating up, the controversy of same-sex marriage splashed itself all over the pages of our periodicals beginning on Valentine’s Day when San Francisco’s maverick mayor Gavin Newsom performed marriage ceremonies for hundreds of gay couples. Massachusetts had already legalized same-sex unions and since then the issue has spread from San Francisco to New Palz, NY, Portland, Ore. and Seattle.

It is no coincidence that this issue, as well as the FCC’s decency crusade, has hit the mainstream at the heart of an election year here in the US. These issues act as lightning rods to solidify the conservative base and ensure support for the current administration. When same-sex unions began spreading like wildfire across the country, it scared the bejeezus out of conservatives. They wanted action from the administration. They wanted a guarantee that this type of immoral and illegal activity would not be tolerated by their leaders. And so, Bush gave them what they wanted and publicly proclaimed his own homophobia by vowing to “protect the sanctity of marriage,” which is pretty ironic considering that Bush most likely strokes Karl Rove off before bed every night.

Same-sex marriage and decency standards also act as distractions so the administration can avoid speaking about issues of much more import such as the economy, joblessness and the war in Iraq. In a sense, by pushing this issue, civil rights activists are playing directly into the hands of the Bush administration. It seems extremely unlikely that a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage could ever be adopted… don’t all the amendments guarantee rights as opposed to taking them away? Whatever the case, it’s a much better topic for the Bushies to focus on then the myriad of issues they have managed to completely fuck up (i.e. the deficit, Iraq, Medicare, unemployment, etc.). It’s much easier to simply say, “we hate gay people” and watch the money roll in from their rich, bible-thumping supporters.

Fact is, why should anyone really give a damn who marries who? If two people love each other then by god they ought to have the right to receive a piece of paper that says so, and the benefits that go along with it. Nobody proposed a ban on pop stars nuptials when Britney ill-advisedly stumbled to the altar in a pair of denim cutoffs and a tube top. Ahhhh yes, the sanctity of marriage, we must preserve it at all costs.

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”—Lenin

As were all very aware, today marks the one-year anniversary of ‘Shock and Awe’. Beginning last weekend, the NeoCon disciples in the Bush administration flooded the zone to defend the decision to launch a pre-emptive strike on Saddam and his “stockpile” of deadly chemical and biological weapons. 365 days and 550+ American military deaths later, no weapons of mass destruction have been found and no link to Osama has been uncovered. The disciples have a lot of defending to do.

So the whole of Bush’s cabinet hit the Sunday morning talk show circuit to launch said defense, beginning with Secretary of State Colin Powell who proclaimed on ABC’s “This Week” that he and others in the cabinet would not “be campaigning for the president on these issues”. He then proceeded to defend the actions of the administration, paint Bush as the most capable steward of the “War on Terror” and slam Democratic nominee John Kerry. Nope, no campaigning here.

Next up was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” who amazingly proclaimed “We may still find the WMD.” Oh Rummy, it’s so cute when you’re in such heavy denial. Sure we’ll find ‘em, don’t you worry about it. (I haven’t the heart to tell him) Just keep it up you senile old bastard! If you wish it, they will be found.

And to complete the triad of distortion, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to say that “Saddam and Iraq was the most dangerous threat to peace in the world.” Oh Condy, you drank the Kool-Aid too huh? You’re right though, it’s a good thing we caught him, otherwise who knows what unspeakable acts of terror al Qaeda may carry out. Seriously, if it weren’t for Uncle Saddam’s removal, al Qaeda’s foot soldiers may smuggle bombs on to trains in a major European city and then explode them or something… oh, wait. Damn, too late.

The Bush people are putting there money on W's post-9/11 leadership and his steady stewardship of the war on terror in order to get re-elected. The Bush team likes to cite the fact that there have been no terrorist attacks in the domestic US since 9/11 as evidence of this leadership: “We haven’t been attacked; it must be because of how great a president Bush is!” Please, that's like saying I haven't had a fire in my apartment the last four years because I'm the best darn fire preventer there ever was. The final seven years of Clinton's presidency went without a terrorist attack on our shores as well, so I guess he was a pretty great president too, right?

But the Madrid bombings seem to show that nothing's really changed. Don’t get me wrong, I too was comforted in the days after 9/11 when King George looked into the souls of the American people and assured us that everything was going to be alright... and to keep shopping. But what has changed? According to the administration, toppling Saddam was supposed to make America and the rest of the world safer, but since Saddam's removal we've had big al Qaeda attacks in Madrid, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco… the list goes on and on. Who knows, if we’d pressed on in our efforts to capture Osama instead of diverting our attention in order to settle an old score with Saddam, maybe Osama would be the one locked behind bars. But it is only now, just in time for the election season, that we are finally turning our attention back toward those actually responsible for 9/11. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I fully expect to see Osama lowered from the rafters in a cage at Madison Square Garden during the Republican Convention later this year. “Surprise! We got him! Vote for me!”

From Europe to the US, the Madrid bombings have raised everyone’s internal terror alert level. Even if we’re still officially at Yellow, our psyches are at Orange. Londoners are bracing for an attack they feel is inevitable. Australians the same. In Montpellier, France, a man was so distraught by the recent attacks in Spain he tried to run down a pedestrian he thought was Osama bin Laden. No joke. And here in New York, security on the trains remains high. Mayor Bloomberg ensured us the other day that we were safe, saying we’re “more likely to be struck by lightning than be a victim of a terrorist strike.” Sure, tell that to the Jim Caviezel, the actor who plays the Christ in the Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ – he was struck by lightning TWICE during filming of the thing, but I’m sure that was just God’s way of providing Mel with a sign of his support for the film. I wonder if God made Mel’s bed before or after he smote Caviezel?

The Passion opens up a whole other can of holy worms that I’m not ready to tackle just yet. For now, I’m gonna turn Howard Stern up, watch a whole boatload of porn and maybe marry someone of the same gender before the conservatives take all my fun away.

Oh, and Happy Anniversary Iraq! The lights will come on soon, we promise.

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.” – Mark Twain

Ruminations of the Days
(filched from www.ruminate.com)

When she asked, "Is that a roll of quarters in
your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?" we
both just had to laugh, because, being a peep-show
girl, it really didn't matter to her either way.


You'd think with me assuming the weighty
responsibility associated with sitting in
an emergency exit row, the flight attendant
would've given me my fifth beer free.


As the doctor removed the fourth peanut butter cup
from my rectum, I came to a very, very important
realization: There *is* a wrong way to eat a Reese's.


After setting the orphanage on fire, I stood
back and watched the kids clawing and scrambling
to get out the front door, pushing, shoving, even
trampling one another. Children can be so cruel.

ORIGINS: www.thestranger.com/current/last_days.html
GREAT MUSIC: www.katefenner.com; www.nikkianddara.com
GET YOUR CUSACK ON! www.thecoopervane.com
COOL TUNES, GET THE BKLYN CD! www.harrisradio.com
WANNA SMILE? WATCH THIS: www.thatwasrandom.com/video/heyya.php
MEL LIKES THIS SITE: www.sortakinda.com/look/withyoualways.shtml
WE’VE ALL WANTED TO DO THIS: http://clarkson.edu/~wirkusf/stfu.swf
SOME FUNNY SHIT: www.lowculture.com
ANOTHER VIEW: www.thenation.com
TAKE ACTION: www.moveon.org
ALL THE LIES, IN ONE CONVENIENT LOCATION! www.house.gov/reform/min/features/iraq_on_the_record/
RAISE YOUR VOICE TOMORROW: www.unitedforpeace.org/calendar.php?caltype=17

DAYS: One boob to rule them all.
Jed F. Hamilton
Brooklyn, USA
**please publish, just not without author's permission

“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James A. Baldwin

“When we got into office, the thing that surprised me the most was that things were as bad as we'd been saying they were.” -- John F. Kennedy


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