ALL MIKULAN, ALL THE TIME
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Steven Mikulans piece about L.A. before dawn [Hurry Sunrise, December 1420] was exquisite. Rare is the journalist nowadays wholl give us an experience rather than a medley of clichés. Well done!
The Hollywood-by-night story was a lovely idea, but overwritten. And why didnt Steven Mikulan talk to anybody? As a consequence, the story failed to get behind the images with which we are all familiar. Good effort, though.
Re: Steven Mikulans piece The Gloves Come Off [December 713]:
1) The military is doing more than we see on TV, and it involves greater risk than a sore lower back. The fact that Mr. Mikulan cant see it suggests that operational security is working to some extent.
2) The problem with the al Qaeda prisoners after the fall of Kanduz was best summed up by historian John Keegan: Large-scale surrender on the battlefield, even between sovereign states within the framework of international law, is always fraught with difficulty. In this case neither party to the conflict, the Northern Alliance and the Taliban, is sovereign and neither is bound by the Geneva Convention or the normal rules of warfare.
3) Is the Northern Alliance our proxy army or are we their proxy air force? That depends on who ends up with the country.
In the course of their year-end list making [December 28January 3], the Weeklys writers twice lionized Christopher Hitchens and dismissed Alexander Cockburn and Noam Chomsky for their respective stances on the U.S. war on terrorism. Steven Mikulan, in War Diary: Collateral Damage, and John Powers, in On: The Crash of Civilizations, paint Hitchens as the second coming of George Orwell (Powers) and the reasonable leftist who knows the difference between imperialism and self-defense (Mikulan). More reasonable leftists have noticed that, in fact, Hitchens has rather hysterically sought to reframe the concerns of his opponents in order to make them appear unreasonable. The arguments of Chomsky and Cockburn have not differed substantially from the analysis of no less reasonable a personage than L.A. Times staff writer David Lamb, who quietly opined in the January 6 edition of that paper that Islams millions hate U.S. policies they see as based on arrogance, self-interest, military aggressiveness and a willingness to inflict harm on Muslims in the Middle East, and, now, Afghanistan. These are fertile fields for the growth of terrorism, both in terms of new recruits and financial support for Osama bin Laden and his theocratic fascists. Mr. Hitchens has become the darling of the New Right due to his determined failure to grasp this point.
Re: Tiresome Things 2001 & Beyond [December 28January 3]. I agree with all but one of John Paynes list of tiresome annoyances. Item number 20, however, does perplex me: White people trying to act black a perennial favorite. It makes me sick. As in Elvis singing Big Mama Thorntons Hound Dog or Leiber & Stoller (Jewish kids from Brooklyn) writing it? Or Jaggers double negatives in cant get no satisfaction? Could Coltrane cover Rodgers and Harts My Favorite Things, or is that trying to act white? Or is it white suburban kids listening to hip-hop and calling each other nigga that makes him sick? Was it acceptable for Hendrix to try to act like Dylan? Im sure Dylan picked up a lot of Lonnie Johnsons mannerisms, as well as his guitar licks, back in the 60s. Where you gonna draw your line in cross-cultural influences?
Im a lot older than Eminem, but probably fit into Paynes makes you sick category. People either think Im from abroad or from the South. Abroad because I was raised in Chicago by Irish (grandparents, aunts, uncles) as well as black folks (favorite baby sitter), and that rubs off, and the South (read: black talk) cause I was a 15-year-old musician hanging in the blues bars and R&B venues and was declared a bad nigga or blue-eyes soul brotha by Junior Wells, Left Dizz and Mighty Joe Young.
Mixing standard English with street talk is American, yo.
Re: John Paynes 20 Superior Discs [The Year in Music, December 28January 3]. Thanks, John, for mentioning Holger Czukays Linear City. I was involved in that unique project, and I think its a great piece.
An article about the Jewish Defense League, Three Guys and a Megaphone (January 1117), misidentified the city where a massacre of Muslim worshippers took place. The attack occurred in Hebron. Also, parts of two sentences about recent JDL activities were deleted. It should have read: The JDL also lobbies to roll back gun control and to win freedom for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. This fall, Rubin pursued litigation to prevent the Burbank City Council from opening its gatherings with a sectarian prayer.