NOWHERE THE SIGNS
I love John Albert’s piece on the Kerry-sign war in Claremont [A Considerable Town, “Signs of the Times,” September 3–9]. I laughed out loud while reading it, a reaction few writers are able to get from me. The sign war continues here, but with perseverance some of us are outwitting the thieves. We have learned to staple the sign to the metal bar that holds it and also to bring our sign in at night. We are slowing down our evil, Republican neighborhood sign stealer.
Marc Cooper’s analysis of why Log Cabin Republicans support George Bush is completely and utterly wrong [Dissonance, “War Party,” September 3–9]. The reason why they and John McCain and other moderate Republicans support George Bush is because they have learned a lesson from Ronald Reagan — yes, Ronald Reagan. Old Ronnie said, “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” So Republicans don’t, and they win elections. This is how to get power. This is how to move causes forward. This is how to help stop the war in Iran before it starts. This is how to expand our national-park system and protect our environment. This is how to stop the squeezing of the middle class. This is how to ensure a woman’s right to choose. This is how to raise people up out of the misery of poverty. And this is how to get us out of the tragedy that we created in Iraq.
Not only does the opening paragraph of Greg Burk’s incompetent and muddled article on Glenn Danzig [“Nether Bound,” September 3–9] read as dead and lifeless as the Morrison analogy, but the rest of the piece is a mess of the author’s personal opinions on the new Danzig album, non-researched tidbits on some recent Danzig happenings (not even addressed by Glenn) and incoherent quotes from Glenn, himself, with absolutely no context.
The fact that Burk even insinuates that Glenn staged the online leak of the video of him being knocked out by the North Side Kings’ singer to “shed some of [his] tough-guy armor” is absurd. Glenn had nothing to do with this video being uploaded online, nor was this event staged. (The event was explained by the North Side Kings’ camp and witnesses on www.blabbermouth.net the week it became public.)
Also, Glenn’s quote about what he learned from Rick Rubin has absolutely no background to it. Sure, Rubin produced Danzig’s first four records, but Burk’s article does not state the lengthy legal battles between Glenn and Rubin over royalties and rights, which is why it’s a big deal for Glenn to even mention one decent thing about Rubin.
Finally, it seems as if Burk spent half of his word count reviewing the new Circle of the Snakes album with hack, ad-friendly, marketing tag lines such as “‘Black Angel, White Angel’ is a lurching anthem of conflict and desperation.” An important musical hero — an L.A.-based one at that — should be given more respect than a one-dimensional review juxtaposed against random, worthless factoids that give absolutely no insight into Glenn or his career.
Burk replies: I have written about Danzig many times and try to catch up with him periodically in brief. For a longer story, please see my 1999 feature.
BELLY HAIR FULL OF LAUGHS
Oh my god! I am still laughing from Marc Cooper’s Dissonance column “Double Double” [September 10–16]. The image of Clinton curling his belly hair is a scream. Can’t catch my breath! This will sustain me until November 2, when we can re-elect our fine president and leave all the dirt behind.
I traveled from L.A. to New York City to march in the streets and take a stand against the Bush administration and the perilous agenda the Republican Party codified at their national convention. On August 31, I was among the hundreds of protesters arrested as reward for my efforts. In his article “Rebel, Rebel, Your Face Is a Mess,” Steven Mikulan joins the parade of cynics deriding our protests. Since Mr. Mikulan was sitting in a bar that day, he didn’t see what I saw.
During my 41-hour stay in the NYPD’s custody, I was shuffled between eight different holding cells. Whenever anyone was moved — singly or in a group, day or night — we applauded. Despite soul-wearying and obviously purposeful delays at every stage of the game, we cheered each other. When we were finally taken in groups off of Pier 57 or out of the cavernous “tombs” of Manhattan’s Central Booking facility to be grudgingly processed through the courts, our roars were deafening. Memories of the inhumane conditions of our incarceration will hopefully dissipate over time, but I’ll never forget the cheers.
In our hours together, we talked, listened and learned. My knowledge of oppositional political ideologies broadened. Sitting in the oil and grime on Pier 57, a converted workplace, we discussed how any danger we faced from the chemicals clinging to our bodies must be cast in the perspective of the dangers faced by millions of workers. Hearing cop after cop tell us, “You guys are lucky! The general population of prisoners doesn’t have it half as good,” we realized that our experience was but a glimpse of the unconstitutional conditions faced by prisoners every day. Mikulan and others disturbingly ignore the profound personal transformations that occur when people of conscience stand together in courageous opposition to injustice, even if — or maybe, especially if — that stand is taken in jail.
I went to New York alone, representing scores of friends and family who could not make the trip. I returned to L.A. having joined a community of far-flung patriots, actively and nonviolently struggling to overcome not just the Bush administration but the political forces that oppress so many Americans and people throughout the world. Before my protests against the RNC, I was a clock puncher, a reader of the news, a voter, a documentary watcher, a Democrat. Without the full breadth of my experience as a protester, I would have returned to the same life.
Now, I’m spending weekends driving to the swing states of the interior West to register voters and energize the somnolent Kerry-Edwards ticket. I’m reconnecting with Coalition for Educational Justice, a powerful organization of student and teacher activists in the schools where I work. I’m talking about and writing about my experiences in New York City. With no weapon other than my uncageable spirit, I’m making my voice heard and struggling for change.