THE NEW AGENDA
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
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.
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Does Nikki Finke suck on lemons all of the time, or only when she has to write
about the military?
—Kerry J. Finley
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.
Costa Mesa ‰
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!
Charlotte, North Carolina
THE WAR, IN SLICES
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
—Michael Ned Holte
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