By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
THE NEW AGENDA
Re: “Therapy or Politics” [March 28–April 3]. I appreciate Marc Cooper’s criticism of the peace movement’s blind spots and less articulate actions. Snarling traffic for citizens in progressive (and cash-strapped) cities like San Francisco, in the hope of stopping a war that has already begun, is indeed more therapy than politics. But his suggestions for wiser actions are puzzling at best. If we were unable to stop a war that was rammed down the throats of allies and foes alike, why pretend that we can influence whom the U.S. military chooses to lead post-Saddam Iraq? And if we can’t get the American people to understand that it’s wrong to launch a preemptive invasion for spurious reasons, how can we expect them to oversee the just distribution of humanitarian aid and protection of the Kurds? Let’s get real. Here’s what we can do:
1. Expose the Cheney-Powell-Rumsfeld doctrine of unrivaled American hegemony (which traces its origins to policy papers written in 1990) and put pressure on our congressional leaders to oppose it. Do you think Rumsfeld’s pointed threats to Syria and Iran the other day were idle chatter? The only way to stop seeing reruns of this war elsewhere is to convince the public and Congress that this doctrine is perilous, morally wrong and, dare I say, un-American.
2. Continue to “impotently shake our fists,” in Cooper’s words, at CNN and the other warnographers (who sometimes include The New York Times and NPR) who thrill at the power of American military hardware, manipulate us with profiles of soldiers’ wives and ignore the graver issues. Instead of shutting down intersections and pissing people off, though, we should target the lockstep media corporations with creative, provocative direct actions. We can also blockade corporations that will clearly profit from this regime change: Halliburton, Bechtel, etc.; 5,000 people converging on Halliburton’s headquarters, instead of on Market Street, would at the very least introduce the name Halliburton to the TV-watching public.
3. Fight vigorously to stem the hemorrhaging of our civil rights. If and when another major terrorist strike hits America, do you think Congress will have the temerity not to cram through PATRIOT Act II before we have a chance to blink? Protesters, please call your representatives before it’s too late. And call your relatives back in New Jersey and Florida and have them do the same. Holding back the tide of government power, and publicly defending those who have felt the sting of censorship, are perhaps the two most important things we can do to make life under this administration a little less shitty.
4. Which brings us to the obvious one: Regime change begins at home. Let’s act now to make sure that, along with Saddam Hussein and Tony Blair, George W. Bush is a name we won’t have to hear very often after 2004.
Marc, I too would love it if everyone on the left suddenly cared about the Kurds and Bosnians and Iraqis and Saudi Arabian women with the same passion they profess for the Palestinians. In the meantime, though, let’s do what is in fact possible to move this country back from the brink of totally capricious empire.
Re: Nikki Finke’s “Full Metal Jeer” [Deadline Hollywood, March 28–April 3]. As we have perhaps 150,000 soldiers in the Iraqi theater of operations, letting one lance corporal have a few weeks to appear on American Idol does not seem a big deal, let alone some abuse of power.
New York City
Perhaps the reason Hollywood isn’t criticizing Josh Gracin is simply because there isn’t anything to criticize. He has already done more than most of the people in this country have: He took the oath. He wears the uniform. What does Nikki Finke do? She attacks, she criticizes, she looks for fault in something she obviously knows very little about.
—Staff Sergeant Tammy Olsen, USAF
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I got the distinct impression from Ms. Finke’s article that she would be much happier if the Marine on American Idol were KIA in Iraq. As a matter of fact, I got the impression that she would be happier if all Marines were KIA in Iraq. Please tell her to stick to the usual celebrity fluff and not attempt to write “hard-hitting” pieces about situations that are obviously over her head.
Does Nikki Finke suck on lemons all of the time, or only when she has to write about the military?
I am sure that when ordered to go, Josh Gracin will answer the call and may be put in harm’s way — all to defend Finke’s right to vilify him.
God forbid a U.S. Marine attempt to be a pop star. Everyone knows that our pop heroes are only allowed to be thieves, murderers, drug addicts, drug pushers, domestic abusers and pedophiles. Thanks to Nikki Finke for helping us to identify this wolf in sheep’s clothing.
If Nikki Finke wants to write about an American Idol scandal, she should find out why in hell the little Mormon chick is still on and why Simon always says what a great job she is doing. She sings flat on every song. She sucks! Semper fi.
THE WAR, IN SLICES
Re: “The Logo-Spangled Banner” [On, March 28–April 3]. John Powers raised some really nice points about our detachment from the war. I am less impressed with his statement that the Department of Defense has “co-opted” some of the reporters. While I do not dispute the truth of that statement, the term “co-opted” is emotionally loaded. It rests on at least one unstated assumption (that an unbiased media is possible) and allows one to wonder if the media have not been “co-opted” by their editors and advertisers. It’s all “slices of the war” in that regard, Mr. Powers. Camera angles, word choice and editors all carve out a particular view for the public to consume.
THANKS, JERRY. NOW BUTT OUT.
Re: last week’s letter from Village Voice art critic Jerry Saltz. Why would a well-known New York art critic be concerned with the opinions of the L.A. Weekly’s Doug Harvey? Is it possible that the L.A. art world (and its critical discourse) might actually reverberate beyond our provincial boundaries? Unfortunately, very little art in L.A. receives the coverage it might merit: The big art magazines overwhelmingly represent the N.Y. art community; our own art magazines fold with a whimper. Harvey is under no obligation to play the cheerleader, though his tone of bleakness and exasperation often belies a fertile art scene that offers serious work and pleasant surprises often enough. Do we need help situating ourselves from a New York critic? Let’s hope not.
—Michael Ned Holte
Re: “Rage and the LAPD” [March 28–April 3]. Did the author actually speak to someone who was at the concert, or did he just think that invoking the name of a better-known band would get more attention? Ozomatli was working the crowd when police used their bully tactics and the announcement was made. Rage Against the Machine was already long gone. One must assume that nobody from the Weekly was there either. Yeesh.
—Mauricio “Mo” Figuls
There were two errors in last week’s Quark Soup column, “What’s It Like To Be a Fish?”: Artist Martin Kersels’ name was misspelled, and the artwork accompanying the piece was misidentified: It was actually Ken Goldberg’s Infiltrate.