By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
"It seems that we don't see enough support for the guys in harm's way. The freedoms that we have here come at a price . . ." Raquel Welch paused a beat and looked around at the manicured lawns of Beverly Hills. ". . . And those boys over there are paying a price."
The crowd attending "Yellow Ribbon Sunday" numbered about two dozen — three, if you counted the dog walkers — but the Will Rogers Park event was covered by at least 10 photographers and camcorder crew members. KABC was there, as was KCAL, FOX 11, Noticias 34, Liquid BBC and others. It was the kind of story local media can't guzzle enough of, with lots of yellow ribbons and some celebrities, although not the kind of stars who say discomfiting things about the war.
Welch wore a black, cavalry Stetson with gold braid and major's insignia. She had seen plenty of war on the USO tours in Southeast Asia, as had Nancy Sinatra, who was here today sporting a black-leather corset vest emblazoned with Vietnam emblems. Soon the gals were joining co-organizers Alana Stewart and Lorna Luft to pose for pictures. Crooner Al Martino was spotted among the onlookers, and Sinatra began a chant: "C'mon, Al! Come up here, Al!" Then the women inaugurated the business at hand — tying the first of many yellow ribbons around palm trees lining Beverly Drive.
"Today is not about us," Luft announced, just in case any passerby imagined it was. Rather, the event was for the troops of America, Britain and Australia. There was no politicking, no mention of the peace demonstrations that dwarf pro-war rallies yet receive less media attention.
"This is about caring for the men and women who are protecting our rights," said B.H. Mayor Tom Levyn. "This is democracy in action."
Perhaps, but it's still hard to imagine how our rights are more protected today, with thousands of Iraqis dead, than they were a few weeks ago when those same people were alive. We certainly don't feel freer, especially since we have fewer of those rights than we did 18 months ago. The brute fact is that supporting the troops has become the equivalent of playing the child card (that is, "We're building this freeway to safeguard our children's future") in an election campaign — it's a seemingly neutral impulse intended to silence all debate. In this age of world policing, you either back the badge or you don't. Nothing is more politically weaponized than yellow ribbons and banners reading "Support Our Troops" — a slogan that certainly sounds savvier than some old-school chant like "Today Poland, Tomorrow the World."
More important, by equating support for those carrying out the White House's imperial project with the project itself, the war party can shield itself from public and congressional criticism, and shake a finger at the critics as well. Of all the yarns and ghost stories told around the campfire of historical revision, none stirs more outrage than the tale of How Americans Spat on Their War Heroes. Once upon a time, according to hard-right mythologists, ungrateful citizens lined up at airports and harbors for the chance to spit on soldiers and sailors returning from Vietnam. This never happened in any real sense, but no matter — a powerful blood libel against the left had been created, which to this day neutralizes effective dissent against war.
While the rally was still in full swing, a small car painted in leopard-skin print and kissing cupids parked nearby. Out stepped Monti Rock III, wearing his own black cowboy hat and lots of zebra and other faux skins. The 1970s hairdresser/entertainer was on his way to the park but paused to tell a reporter that he was about to open a one-man show soon in Hollywood.
"It's my 45th comeback in 42 years!" Mr. Rock said.
Why was he going to the rally?
"For Lorna Luft!" he replied, as though that were reason enough.
In the foothills of Griffith Park, evil comedy geniuses gather on random Saturdays to don mjolnir suits, take up plasma weapons and battle a coalition of angry space aliens bent on human subjugation. Luckily, most of them don't have girlfriends, so they can keep at it long into the evening, if necessary.
In their day jobs (as evil comedy geniuses), many work as sitcom writers, character actors and standup comedians. The group's members come out of the Mr. Show nexus, and so they wish to be identified only by their official Halo names. Halois an extreme FPS (first-person shooter) videogame exclusive to the Microsoft Xbox (designed by Bungie, which Microsoft has since purchased). But unlike rival platforms PlayStation 2 and GameCube, the Xbox allows up to four separate consoles to be networked through an Ethernet hub, while each console supports four controllers, enabling 16 players at one time.
Eight players per room (den vs. dining room) face off on four large-screen TVs, each divided into quadrants. Players are armed with Ghost (hovercraft), Warthog (Jeep) and Scorpion (tank) — not to mention shotguns, plasma rifles and (when allowed) something called an infinite grenade — to wage varying degrees of strategic warfare for up to 12 hours at a sitting, breaking only when the pizza delivery guy arrives around midnight. Aside from the occasional palate-cleansing bloodbath, this group favors a Capture the Flag variant, staged in Blood Gulch, a box canyon closely resembling Monument Valley with bunker-style forts at either end.