April 2003 Archives
Our Constitution and the Fourth Amendment don't really mean anything if Congress can pass laws abrogating it and the courts don't care.
I can't even go out to dinner without worrying whether the restaurant will be raided?
Alternet has a story by an American who was held for an hour and a half in a Times Square area restaurant when it was raided by the NYPD, INS, and Department of Homeland Security. I will quote some of it, but you should go read the whole thing.
That night, March 20th, my roommate Asher and I were on our way to see the Broadway show "Rent." We had an hour to spare before curtain time so we stopped into an Indian restaurant just off of Times Square in the heart of midtown. I have omitted the name of the restaurant so as not to subject the owners to any further harassment or humiliation.
We helped ourselves to the buffet and then sat down to begin eating our dinner. I was just about to tell Asher how I'd eaten there before and how delicious the vegetable curry was, but I never got a chance. All of a sudden, there was a terrible commotion and five NYPD in bulletproof vests stormed down the stairs. They had their guns drawn and were pointing them indiscriminately at the restaurant staff and at us.
The police placed their fingers on the triggers of their guns and kicked open the kitchen doors. Shouts emanated from the kitchen and a few seconds later five Hispanic men were made to crawl out on their hands and knees, guns pointed at them.
After patting us all down, the five officers seated us at two tables. As they continued to kick open doors to closets and bathrooms with their fingers glued to their triggers, no less than ten officers in suits emerged from the stairwell. Most of them sat in the back of the restaurant typing on their laptop computers. Two of them walked over to our table and identified themselves as officers of the INS and Homeland Security Department.
I explained that we were just eating dinner and asked why we were being held. We were told by the INS agent that we would be released once they had confirmation that we had no outstanding warrants and our immigration status was OK'd.
"You have no right to hold us," Asher insisted.
"Yes, we have every right," responded one of the agents. "You are being held under the Patriot Act following suspicion under an internal Homeland Security investigation."
When I asked to speak to a lawyer, the INS official informed me that I do have the right to a lawyer but I would have to be brought down to the station and await security clearance before being granted one. When I asked how long that would take, he replied with a coy smile: "Maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe a month."
We insisted that we had every right to leave and were going to do so. One of the policemen walked over with his hand on his gun and taunted: "Go ahead and leave, just go ahead."
As I continued to press for legal counsel, a female officer who had been busy typing on her laptop in the front of the restaurant, walked over and put her finger in my face. "We are at war, we are at war and this is for your safety," she exclaimed. As she walked away from the table, she continued to repeat it to herself? "We are at war, we are at war. How can they not understand this."
After an hour and a half the INS agent walked back over and handed Asher and me our licenses. A policeman took us by the arm and escorted us out of the building. Before stepping out to the street, the INS agent apologized. He explained, in a low voice, that they did not think the two of us were in the restaurant. Several of the other patrons, though of South Asian descent, were in fact U.S. citizens. There were four taxi drivers, two students, one newspaper salesman unwitting customers, just like Asher and me. I doubt, though, they received any apologies from the INS or the Department of Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, President Bush will tell Americans on Thursday evening that the major fighting in Iraq is over and the threat to the United States has ended, a Bush administration spokesman said.
From one of my favorite comic strips, Non Sequitur: Behold! My Anti-Criticism Shield
Herein lies the tale of a Sunday in Williamsburg, in which our hero tours some galleries with friends, spots crack vials on Bedford, ogles hot tattooed (straight?) skateboarders with "lovely" in their vocabulary, and is accosted at Relish by people at the next table saying "Williamsburg really seems like a hotbed for real estate."
I revisited two shows that I mentioned in an earlier post: "Decade" at Schroeder Romero and "Soft Cell" at Foxy Productions. I attended the openings of both shows, and I wanted to go back to spend a little quality time with them.
Schroeder Romero's show is worth spending a bit of time with, since there are over 50 artists in the show. Make sure you check out the Williamsburg art timeline near the entrance. A trip to Williamsburg just doesn't feel right without a chance to visit with Sara Jo and Lisa. They even offered to introduce my friends to some single gay men at their next opening!
I really love the work at Foxy Productions by Teresa Moro -- you might have to use Internet Explorer to get the page to display. Ask to see her gouaches that they have as well. They're exquisite.
The painting show at Black & White by KK Kozik, titled "Ashcan Rococo", is pretty cool. There is a sly humor in them that's not always apparent when you first see the brightly colored canvases. Those aren't your father's oil colors -- I thought they were acrylic at first. If you haven't seen Austin Thomas's sculpture out in the "sculpture garden", go check them out. I first encountered this gallery when they showed work by my friend Meighan Gale.
The group show at Parker's Box, titled "Grounds," isn't totally successful, but there are some sweet sculptures/installations by Ezra Parzybok and some photographs by Ravi Rajakumar, who collected moments in cartooons where no characters are present.
The show of paintings by Robert Grunder at *sixty seven, inspired by his growing up in a planned community, is quite nice. Don't miss the selection of works by other gallery artists in the back room, including the video titled "Your Head is a Cloud" by Jeremiah Teipen.
I loved Tamara Zahaykevich's show of foam core sculptures in the back at Bellwether. The front room has work by John Bauer. I like him, and I like some of his work I've seen in the past -- especially works on paper -- but I don't know where he's going with his paintings lately, and I can't say I'm excited about them.
I haven't made it to Meredith Allen's show at im n iL (in Greenpoint) yet, but it's there through May 11 and I need to make a trip to see it. I ran into her on her bicycle as we were headed over to Schroeder Romero, next to Brooklyn's most fabulous Laundromat. Have you seen that thing? It has aisles wider than my apartment! Soon I'll be able to link to her homepage which I'm working on...
I worked out so well in Afghanistan, right? US May Use Mujahideen Rebels in Tensions with Iran
[via idols of the marketplace]
We spent the afternoon checking out some Chelsea gallery shows.
Lothar Hempel's show at Anton Kern was the highlight of the day. Their web site is "under construction", so try here for some images of his work. I have loved everything I've seen from him. He is a smart artist whose work is aesthetically pleasing even before you start to notice or read about the conceptual content.
The upcoming Dan McCarthy paintings show (opens May 15) at Anton Kern looks promising too.
Noguchi Rika's "Rocket Hill" at D'Amelio Terras: The exhibition consists of ten large-scale digital c-print photographs taken in and around the Tanegashima Space Center, an island complex from which NASDA, the Japanese space program, launches nearly all of its flights. I chose this picture in honor of Dan, since it reminds me a little bit of Space 1999.
Their next show is Cornelia Parker.
Wayne Gonzalez at Paula Cooper is worth a visit, but I wasn't bowled over the way I was by his previous show there.
Omer Fast at Postmasters was really powerful. The image is an installation view of "Tank Translated", which is a compilation of video interviews (in Hebrew with English subtitles) with four crew members from an Israeli tank, conducted separately after they were no longer in service. The one at the front was the one I spent the most time watching. At various times he talks about not wanting to be "exploited for your overseas audience".
Marco Maggi's "Constructing and Demolishing" at Christinerose|Josee Bienvenu is a great show, both as installation, and for the skill of the individual works such as the drypoint on aluminum foil works. Their web site only has one image, so go here to see more.
Philippe Parreno's highly conceptual show, "Alien Seasons," at Friedrich Petzel has good production values, and is visually interesting, but I don't know if it's a great show. I'm leaning towards "no".
I wanted to like Eric Ringsby's show "The Indian Wars / Palestine" at Cornell DeWitt. I think bringing up parallels between the Indian Wars in the U.S. and Israel/Palestine question is an interesting way to start a discussion, but the work in the end is more political than aesthetic, and I believe that it is important for an artist to try to transcend the political message. I did like his use of this 1937 quote by Winston Churchill, who believed that the Jews were a "better" race than the Palestinians:
I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance that a great wrong has been done to the red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.
Emily Jacir's show at Debs and Co. does a better job of achieving both political and artistic ends. That said, I give credit to Cornell DeWitt for putting on a show that many galleries wouldn't touch.
The highlight of attending the opening at Cornell DeWitt was meeting the parents of Adam Shapiro, the peace activist who works with The International Solidarity Movement and Seeds of Peace. They received death threats after their son became trapped in Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah while it was being shelled by Israeli forces. He had breakfast with Arafat and compared the house-to- house raids on Palestinians in Ramallah to Nazi raids during World War II.
Faces For Peace is an "online peace rally" web site that allows people around the world to post photos and anti-war statements.
Here is an amazing exchange from yesterday's White House press briefing. Does anyone know who the reporter is that asked the question?
Q And if I can just shift gears very briefly, what's the President's beliefs about homosexuality?
MR. FLEISCHER: You know, that's a question that's been put to the President, and if you go back and you look at it, the President has said that, first of all, he doesn't ask that question about people. He judges people about who they are, their individual soul. That's not a matter the President concerns himself with. He judges people for how they act and how they relate, and that's his focus on that.
Q How they act sexually? Because I asked sexually --
MR. FLEISCHER: How they act as a person. The same way --
Q But the police in Texas asked how they act sexually.
MR. FLEISCHER: The same way you would say that about how anybody -- what's his reaction to this person or that person -- say, are they a nice person, what kind of person are they? It has nothing to do with their sexuality.
Q So does he believe that they ought to be free to be themselves, without interference from police?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President has always said that when it comes to legal matters, that it's a question of different groups, homosexual groups, gay groups should not have special rights or special privileges.
Q Is it a special privilege to be able to love the person you love the way you want to love them, without interference from the police?
MR. FLEISCHER: If you're asking about a matter that is a legal matter that is pending before the Supreme Court, that's a matter for the court to rule on, and we'll find out what the court says in the specific case in mind.
Q So he has no position on that?
MR. FLEISCHER: It's a matter that's pending before the court, in regard to your last question.
I just came across this story from last week:
TIKRIT, Iraq -- Supper time has become a double treat at a Marine base outside Saddam Hussein's hometown -- not only is there fresh meat, but it's from Saddam's personal hunting preserve.
The Tikrit South airfield, where Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 set up base in this week's campaign to take the city, is on the edge of a preserve where Saddam and favored guests once hunted gazelle.
The marines are using 9mm pistols to hunt after initially being forbidden to use firearms for fear that gunshots in the woods might be mistaken for enemy fire.
"We hunted them with rocks, as Stone Age as that sounds," Wicksell said. "We gutted them and skinned them and pretty much carried them over our shoulders barbarian-style."
FYI: The species of gazelles found in this region are endangered.
i may be one of seven people on the planet willing to say this, but here goes: madonna is a terrible artist. watching the current brouhaha over whether or not she should pull a video is, at best, embarrassing.
the fact that she's trying to ascribe social relevance to her work through its messaging in the first place is asinine -- and, i might add, an embarrassing case of an artist listening to her own press. she obviously believes that she is important and has a responsibility to make "good art," which is so sad. madonna's work has never been about a conscious social statement. in fact, she's at her absolute worst when trying to make some sort of statement on an sort of level other than the personal. madonna is narcissistic and publicly paranoid. the two never make for a socially-aware artist willing to take the necessary risks to create a statement. she is at her best when simply talking about her own role as either empowered woman or party person. her relevance shines through in both those subjects, when she's not in control of the subject matter. frankly, she's not good at much else.
I am reminded of a very amusing speech from Ryan Landry's play Madame Ex. In the production I know, Little Clay (a boy of 10 years) is played by a little girl.
HOLLY: Clay. Sometimes in this life. Things arent always what they seem. Do you know what keeping up appearances means?
LITTLE CLAY: Sure. It means to be a complete phony amongst your peers so that they dont suspect that you may be as scared of the world as they are. It means buying things you can't afford so that you look rich because rich is "good" and poor is "bad." It means never being happy with the physical features God gave you because you're such a self absorbed megalomaniac you think that people are constantly looking at you; judging your face and not your heart. It's really the backbone of the American Classist System. A great example would be the majority of gay men who make up the "circuit" culture. Being an oppressed minority group of non-traditional, financially independent individuals, they have a wealth of opportunity to make great change in the world. Instead they choose to create an elitist circle of ignorance hosted by "Madonna." Everything's a party so they might mask their loneliness with "celebration;" their fear with sex and drugs. It's tragic, really. I mean when you consider that there are alternatives to such a vapid lifestyle. However, most choose to shut out the rest of the world and simply run themselves into the ground. Then, when they reach the age of 45 or so, they start hanging around in leather bars and calling themselves "Bears." Does that answer your question?
"It doesn't matter what I say. You don't make my dreams come true."
Fox is such a classy outfit -- I'm shocked that one of their employees would be charged with looting in Iraq.
We saw a dress rehearsal of Mozart's "Così fan tutte" at BAM's Harvey Theater last night. There are only a few performances through May 2 so go buy your tickets right now! It was one of the most satisfying opera performances I have seen in a while -- as music and as theater.
James has a good post on it.
Gay Republicans are beneath contempt. They are the modern equivalent of pro-Nazi Jews.
Rick Santorum, Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, and No. 3 in the GOP leadership:
If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.
All of those things are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family. And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn't exist, in my opinion, in the United States Constitution.
From the same article, Log Cabin Republican Executive Director Patrick Guerriero:
There is nothing conservative about allowing law enforcement officials to enter the home of any American and arrest them for simply being gay. I am deeply troubled that Sen. Santorum would divide America in a time of war. Mainstream America is embracing tolerance and inclusion. I am appalled that a member of the United States Senate leadership would advocate dividing Americans with ugly, hate-filled rhetoric.
... and John Partain, president of the Pennsylvania Log Cabin Republicans:
The discriminatory remarks made by Sen. Santorum clearly do not reflect the compassionate conservatism promised by our president.
"Compassionate conservative" George W. Bush supported the Texas sodomy law when it came under legal challenge, calling it a "symbol of traditional values".
Homosexuality The Party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable "alternative" lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should "family" be redefined to include homosexual "couples." We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, recognition, or privileges including, but not limited to, marriage between persons of the same sex, custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.
Texas Sodomy Statues [sic]
The Party opposed the decriminalization of sodomy.
I'm amused by the "fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders" part. If anyone has information on what our Founding Fathers or Jesus had to say on the subject of homosexuality, please email me.
Here is the relevant section of the 2000 National Republican Party Platform:
We support the traditional definition of "marriage" as the legal union of one man and one woman, and we believe that federal judges and bureaucrats should not force states to recognize other living arrangements as marriages. We rely on the home, as did the founders of the American Republic, to instill the virtues that sustain democracy itself. That belief led Congress to enact the Defense of Marriage Act, which a Republican Department of Justice will energetically defend in the courts. For the same reason, we do not believe sexual preference should be given special legal protection or standing in law.
From Ma'mariya. Predynastic Period, Naqada IIa (circa 3500-3400 B.C.). Terracotta, painted.
I have always meant to attend one of Brooklyn Museum's First Saturday events, and this sounds like the one to choose. Not only has the "Egypt Reborn" exhibit opened, but the entertainment includes:
From 9 to 11 p.m., dance to Afro-beat and Middle-Eastern pop tunes spun by DJ Neva. A student of world music for 27 years, DJ Neva Wartell is resident DJ for "Nu World Soul," a weekly world music dance party at Liquids in Manhattan.
Newsday has an article on the exhibit.
I suspect it will be an attractive crowd...
David Neiwert's blog Orcinus is the place to go for some interesting writing on fascism, and whether we're headed that way with help from right-wing media such as Rush Limbaugh.
There is also a festival (not free, but pretty cheap) called "New Hybrids Now!" that includes several things that I highly recommend: Larry Keigwin on May 11 and The Civilians' "Gone Missing" on May 12. I will be at both of those.
Weekly World News, a news source only slightly more reliable than Fox News, tells us that Saddam Hussein starred in gay porn films.
Worth Street Theater, the closest theater to Ground Zero, presents Voices of Peace & Dissent from Ground Zero.
Beginning Monday, April 7, The Worth Street Theater Compapny @ The Tribeca Playhouse presents Voices of Peace & Dissent from Ground Zero.
Voices of Peace & Dissent from Ground Zero will feature a rotating cast of actors, activists and celebrities in curated evenings of pro-peace/anti-war texts spanning history from the Ancient Greeks to the present day - featuring such political oratory as Robert Byrd's speech to the Senate, Robin Cook's recent resignation from the British Cabinet, as well as contributions from Eric Bogosian, Tony Kushner and other contemporary playwrights.
Is it time to lock up smokers for the safety of the citizens of NY? Bouncer Fatally Stabbed Trying to Enforce Smoking Ban
By that I mean us, not the Iraqi people. The Bush administration can spend $400-500 billion per year on weaponry, but we're not going to spend the money it will take to make Iraq any kind of livable place for its people.
Not only have we killed and maimed untold civilians -- warning: graphic photos, not what the U.S. media shows -- we have allowed treasures from the dawn of civilization to be plundered over a two day period from the National Museum of Iraq. Somehow we found the resources to protect the Oil Ministry in Baghdad and the oil facilities of Kirkuk, but not the hospitals.
The response of our "leaders"? Rumsfeld:
Rumsfeld: Let me say one other thing. The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over, and over, and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times, and you think, "My goodness, were there that many vases?" (Laughter.) "Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?"
Q: Do you think that the words "anarchy" and "lawlessness" are ill-chosen --
Rumsfeld: Absolutely. I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn't believe it. I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was Henny Penny -- "The sky is falling." I've never seen anything like it! And here is a country that's being liberated, here are people who are going from being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator, and they're free. And all this newspaper could do, with eight or 10 headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a civilian, who they claimed we had shot -- one thing after another. It's just unbelievable how people can take that away from what is happening in that country!
Do I think those words are unrepresentative? Yes.
And, does that mean you couldn't go in there and take a television camera or get a still photographer and take a picture of something that was imperfect, untidy? I could do that in any city in America. Think what's happened in our cities when we've had riots, and problems, and looting. Stuff happens! But in terms of what's going on in that country, it is a fundamental misunderstanding to see those images over, and over, and over again of some boy walking out with a vase and say, "Oh, my goodness, you didn't have a plan." That's nonsense. They know what they're doing, and they're doing a terrific job. And it's untidy, and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that's what's going to happen here.
The people of Baghdad are holding protests about the lack of power and water, and the inability of our troops to quell the looting. We responded with an example of how protest is allowed in our democracy these days:
Scores of Iraqis protested in Baghdad on Sunday, accusing U.S. forces of being concerned only with oil and not with helping Iraq get back on its feet.
American soldiers erected a barbed wire barricade to separate protesters from the central Palestine Hotel where most of the international media is based in the Iraqi capital.
The latest news out of Washington is that we expect to get away with not spending too much of our own money for reconstruction:
The Bush administration on Friday played down the need for a costly reconstruction effort in Iraq, citing limited damage to the country's oil fields and other infrastructure and rapid progress in the war.
The White House has not put a dollar figure on rebuilding Iraq, but officials expressed confidence that the cost to U.S. taxpayers can be offset with increased oil production and financial contributions from U.S. allies.
"There's just no reason that this can't be an affordable endeavor," said White House budget director Mitch Daniels.
Daniels and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the bombing campaign was so precise there was minimal damage to Iraq's civilian infrastructure.
"I don't know that there is much reconstruction to do," Rumsfeld told reporters late Thursday.
On the homefront, our slide into a police state continues unabated. The media and courts are silent as Mike Hawash, an American citizen, continues to be held without charge and without access to his family or a lawyer. Jose Padilla is still not allowed to talk to anyone, including a lawyer. A few days ago, more details were revealed about the NYPD's practice of asking protesters about their political background:
Donna Lieberman, the Civil Liberties Union executive director, said that after questioning the arrested demonstrators about their political ties, detectives filed the information on a form with a federal seal and entered it into a database.
In addition, she said, the protesters had been denied the right to counsel after they had been arrested.
Joel Kupferman, a lawyer representing the National Lawyers Guild, said that demonstrators have told him that while in custody at One Police Plaza they were asked the following questions by detectives:
"What is your view of Israel? What is your view of Palestine? What do you think of 9/11? And where were you during 9/11?"
Protesters did not have their constitutional rights violated because they were questioned during the arrest process, added the commissioner.
Apparently Police Commissioner Ray Kelly believes that asking someone about their politics while you're arresting them falls under the category of questions like name and address. A lot of people think he's behaving this way because he wants to get appointed to a position in the Bush regime.
- $5 theater! - Go see The Atlantic Theatre Company Acting School's production of Genet's "The Balcony" - April 12-13 @ 2pm / 8pm. It's at 453 West 16th Street. Call 212-691-5919 for reservations. We saw it last night and it was quite good.
- "The Decade Show" at Schroeder Romero -- artists from the 10 years of shows in the space since 1992, including its earlier incarnations as Sauce, Feed, and Arena@Feed. Don't miss the videos.
- "Soft Cell" at Foxy Productions -- including two of our favorite sexy young artists, Rob Fischer (see Dee Gallery) and Ian Sullivan
- Emily Jacir at Debs & Co. -- great show, but I think you should read the Debs web site rather than get my summary
Santa Cruz police are searching for vandals with an anti-war message who defaced an estimated 65 sport utility vehicles and trucks in a late-night spray-painting blitz.
Did they suspend the Constitution for NYC while I wasn't looking?
NEW YORK -- Police detectives have questioned hundreds of anti-war protesters about their political affiliations, a practice ended this week after civil libertarians complained that it violated the Constitution, police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday.
Kelly said he had been unaware of the practice and was changing department policy to assure that such activities would not recur without top officials' approval.
He said the agency was destroying an internal database containing the information.
Detectives from the police department's intelligence division had used debriefing forms to record where arrested demonstrators attended school, what membership they had in any organizations and any involvement in past protests.
"I don't think there are constitutional issues here," Kelly said at a news conference at police headquarters. "We believe it was a legitimate question with no compulsion to answer."
Chris Dunn, associate legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said Thursday that demonstrators were denied access to lawyers during the questioning and told that requesting an attorney would delay their release.
"They are investigating and interrogating people about protected political activity," Dunn said. "They are clearly coercing people into giving up this information."
The department did not believe suspects had the right to see an attorney during the questioning because it was a part of routine processing, he said.
Apparently we're not allowed to carry any signs except "approved" ones on the sidewalks either.
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - The executive producer of a CBS miniseries about Adolf Hitler's rise to power has been fired after giving an interview in which he compared the current mood of Americans to that of the Germans who helped Hitler rise to power.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gernon was fired Sunday (April 6) from Alliance Atlantis, the production company making "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" for CBS. He had worked there 11 years and was head of the firm's long-form programming division.
Neither Gernon nor Alliance Atlantis is commenting on the matter.
"Hitler" has caused controversy ever since CBS announced its intentions last summer. In an interview with TV Guide about the four-hour film, scheduled for May, Gernon compares many Americans' acceptance of a war in Iraq to the fearful climate in post-World War I Germany, of which Hitler took advantage to become its ruler.
"It basically boils down to an entire nation gripped by fear, who ultimately chose to give up their civil rights and plunged the whole nation into war," Gernon said in the interview. "I can't think of a better time to examine this history than now."
I received an email from someone at WNYC who pointed me to their gallery of listener-submitted artwork inspired by the war on Iraq.
The American press acts like there were hundreds of thousands of Iraqis celebrating as the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by an American tank in Baghdad -- a city of 4.8 million people.
German souvenir packets of condoms with the image of a historic cathedral have been criticised by a Roman Catholic clergyman.
The prophylactics featuring St Mary's Cathedral in Erfurt were the idea of local tourism officials.
"All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith," said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. "Where a child is taught that, there is a source of strength greater than themselves."
Things like this remind me why I'm studying German.
See Eschaton for more.
"Nothing is more important in the face of war than cutting taxes," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said last week.
Yesterday morning I accompanied several members of the "Glamericans for Peace" at a legal, sidewalk demonstration in support of others committing non-violent civil disobedience outside a corporation called "The Carlyse Group." An attorney with ample demonstrations experience, I was there as a "legal observer," but no one in my group anticipated arrest, and we all assumed we'd be on our way to our jobs within an hour.
The Glamericans stood with a few dozen others, holding funny yet to-the-point signs (many ironic, such as, "make war not love," "paranoia is patriotic," "more blood for oil," "stocks and bombs," etc.), and dressed as rich folk (pin stripe suits, etc.). Across the street, those who had planned to commit civil disobedience sat at the corporation's entrance, and were arrested as planned.
Then, without warning, police surrounded and arrested the peaceful demonstrators on the sidewalk across the street. The police gave no order to disperse, and, in fact, the demonstrators were not even in the way of other pedestrians. The cops simply surrounded the legal protest, and conducted a "surprise arrest" of everyone standing on the sidewalk, including a 70+ year old woman, a journalist, and dozens of others who had planned to go to work that day. Many asked the police if they could please leave, and were refused. When I approached the captain and asked what the charges could possibly be, and informed him that people were not causing any blockade and wanted to leave, he said, "get on the sidewalk or I'll have you arrested too."
This no-warning "surprise" arrest of peaceful legal demonstrators, who were not blocking pedestrian or vehicular traffic, serves no purpose other than to chill the First Amendment right to demonstrate. Someone in command apparently hopes that next time the demonstrators will remember the inconvenience and stay home rather than assemble to express their views. Even some of the cops themselves seemed privately distraught by this senseless tactic, which, apart from the violation of the 1st Amendment, is a waste of both energy and tax payer dollars.
The one hundred plus arrestees were charged with Disorderly Conduct, and held for up to 10 hours for processing. Many were not released until 10 p.m. I attempted to gain entrance to the precinct to oversee processing, and police officials told me "attorneys can stand over there" and pointed to a barricaded area outdoors. (It was 30 degrees out, and snowing.)
I've been an attorney at all kinds of demonstrations --hundreds and hundreds of demonstrations-- for years, and I've never seen police behavior so obviously designed to discourage the right to peaceful protest. We need to demand that the police be encouraged to proudly protect the First Amendment right to demonstrate peacefully, rather than use scare tactics to pre-empt it. Otherwise, any claim to "patriotism" is a farce.
After reading all of the puff pieces on the death of Michael Kelly, David E gives us a welcome antidote, titled Speaking Ill of the Dead. Michael Kelly, assuming homosexuality was some kind of decadence of the elite, gave us this as an example of what is wrong with liberalism:
One of those cultural interests is stamping out discrimination against gays. The problem is, all the people who are for this don't have their children in those schools anymore. The sons and daughters of editorial writers at the New York Times haven't been in those schools for generations. The children who are in those schools are the sons and daughters of working-class people, many of them immigrants, many of them Catholics, and they don't want their children propagandized against their wishes.
The working class don't have any homosexuals, right? It's only rich lefty pansies, and no working class man ever killed a homosexual who didn't deserve it.
Mourn for the dead Iraqis, Americans, British, and journalists of many nationalities who have died in the war, but not for those who helped send them there with writings like these:
The depth of denial here is stunning. Lieven concedes that the militarily superior United States probably could topple Saddam's regime. But what then? He writes: "The 'democracy' which replaces it will presumably resemble that of Afghanistan--a ramshackle coalition of ethnic groups and warlords, utterly dependent on U.S. military power and utterly subservient to U.S. (and Israeli) wishes."
Yes, I suppose what exists in Afghanistan is only (so far, at least) a "democracy,"' not a democracy. And it sure is ethnic. And ramshackle. And, sure, post-Saddam Iraq would probably be the same.
But isn't Afghanistan after America's rescue a better place to live than it was before? I mean, again, from the liberal point of view: no more throwing homosexuals off buildings, whipping women, banning kites, that sort of thing. No more fascists.
These people could be liberated from this horror--relatively easily and very quickly. There is every reason to think that an American invasion will swiftly vanquish the few elite units that can be counted on to defend the detested Saddam; and that the victory will come at the cost of few--likely hundreds, not thousands or tens of thousands--Iraqi and American lives. There is risk here; and if things go terribly wrong it is a risk that could result in terrible suffering. But that is an equation that is present in any just war, and in this case any rational expectation has to consider the probable cost to humanity low and the probable benefit tremendous. To choose perpetuation of tyranny over rescue from tyranny, where rescue may be achieved, is immoral.
To march against the war is not to give peace a chance. It is to give tyranny a chance. It is to give the Iraqi nuke a chance. It is to give the next terrorist mass murder a chance. It is to march for the furtherance of evil instead of the vanquishing of evil.
For those who think Afghanistan is fine now, and we're going do the same for Iraq, I recommend reading this post from Digby -- direct link might not work. The Taliban is organized enough in Afghanistan to be killing Red Cross workers, and remember this story from February 14:
The United States Congress has stepped in to find nearly $300 million in humanitarian and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan after the Bush administration failed to request any money in the latest budget.
A Tomahawk missile, of which we have dropped hundreds on Iraq, cost $1.4 million each.
The story from the composer regarding the work:
I was not in a good mood, standing there freezing, getting more and more angry as I spotted the German barracks on the hillsides, disgustingly marring our lovely scenery. My parents had not taught me to swear, but I had to make some kind of exclamation... BAM BAM... Like a shot the theme for Ballad of Revolt came to me. And this was my shot during the war
The work, written in 1943 is dedicated to "small and large Resistance fighters", and it became a symbol for the Norwegian struggle during the war.
Update: I fixed the bad link to the mp3.
I don't want to write only about war. Here are some recent art exhibits I've seen, plus a future recommendation. Some of the shows have already closed.
- Jeff Burton at Casey Kaplan: Trust me it was great. Casey Kaplan has a lousy website without images. There was a good article on it in HX of all places -- but I can't find it online. The whole photo shoot consisted of him spending 10 minutes with a go-go boy, Kevin, in a gay strip club in New Orleans. Kevin is wearing a red velveteen thong, white socks, and Bass Weejuns.
- Larry Mantello - "Box Rap" at Henry Urbach -- an installation of kitsch, patriotic and otherwise
- Type A at Sara Meltzer
- Group show at John Connelly, including Wade Guyton -- no web site!
- Öyvind Fahlström at Feigen -- brillliant Scandinavian/Brazilian conceptualist whose work seems decades ahead of its time
- Doug Wada at Elizabeth Dee -- semi-photo-realistic paintings, especially for the fans and air conditioners
- Holly Coulis at LFL Gallery -- This gallery is a consistent favorite, especially for work of interesting young painters
The future recommendation is Jules de Balincourt, opening at LFL in May. When we were there on Saturday to decide on buying a couple of works, having seen the work when visiting to see the Holly Coulis exhibit, the back was buzzing with people looking at his work. While we were there a collector/critic and a good artist stopped by to check out his work.
OAKLAND, Calif. - Police open fired Monday morning with non-lethal bullets at an anti-war protest at the Port of Oakland, injuring several longshoremen standing nearby.
Police were trying to clear protesters from an entrance to the docks when they opened fire and the longshoremen apparently were caught in the line of fire.
Six longshoremen were treated by paramedics and at least one was expected to be taken to a hospital. It was unclear if any of the protesters was injured.
"I was standing as far back as I could," said longshoreman Kevin Wilson. "It was very scary. All of that force wasn't necessary."
A protestor, who refused to give her name, bears the wounds after she says was hit by Oakland police weapon during a anti-war protest in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Aug. 7, 2003 outside the port area. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Also there was a demonstration at Carlyle Group in Manhattan today. I can understand that those engaged in non-violent civil disobedience were arrested, but the police also arrested legal protesters across the street from Carlyle.
There will be a demo in support of those people at One Police Plaza tonight beginning 5-6pm.
I think we all better leave before the 2004 GOP convention is held in NYC.
Update: Yahoo has a story with photos on the Oakland attack.
I wrote about this project in late February right before it happened: "a live satellite conversation between students in Iraq and students in America to include the voice of a younger generation in the current public discourse."
I just watched a few minutes of the show on WNYE (channel 25 in Manhattan), and I'm ordering the video. The American students were at DCTV, and the Iraqi students were at this gallery -- yes they have a web site. You can order the video, or watch a few minutes from it here.
They have been unable to get any of the major networks interested in the show. I heard the producers this morning on WNYC's On The Media show.
I'm not sure I recognize this country anymore. I think we've slipped down the rabbit hole and only a few people I know are still sane.
Americans say they're ready to go after Iran and Syria next, and that driving Hummers is patriotic. They think war is something to watch on TV. This is also war, more than driving some 10 mpg SUV is:
William Buesing III, the biological father of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Brian Buesing, is overcome with grief as he holds the U.S. Flag presented to him at the funeral services for his son Saturday, April 5, 2003 at Cedar Key, Fla.
The government can hold American citizens in jail without charging them using sealed warrants. We are not a nation of laws if no one bothers to enforce the Constitution, and frankly that's one of the only good aspects of our society. If we lose that, what do we get to be proud of? A commercial culture? The fact we can't provide healthcare to over 41 million Americans? That we make things like Something About Mary: The Collectors Edition?
The latest Village Voice has a good essay by Barbara Pollack on the history of protest art. One of my favorite paragragraphs is:
Across the Met in the Assyrian gallery, artists gathered on March 5, Moratorium Day, to stage a more contemporary version of anti-war art-making, a "Draw-In for Peace," organized by Artists Against the War, and focusing attention to the wealth of archaeological treasures in Iraq, as well as the human life, that could be destroyed by American bombing. "If you are a serious artist, you don't want to make work that is thought of as agitprop," says Joyce Kozloff, one of the event's organizers, "but now I feel that what I want is to learn to do that and fast."
Here are links to some of the works and artists discussed in the essay:
I was at a meeting of queer anti-war activists last night, and we were talking about how some groups seem to want to focus on war profiteering, as if the dollars were the point as much as the lives being lost. My favorite response to that, from someone at the meeting:
I would still be against a not-for-profit war.
This site -- warning: bad music -- is showing up in my referrer logs. I can't decide if it's a parody. I fear it's not, since I have cousins whose emails sound like this.
Via The Guardian and Common Dreams:
A few miles from the bridge to the south lie the ruins of the ancient city of Ur, founded 8,000 years ago, the birth place of Abraham and a flourishing metropolis at a time when the inhabitants of north-west Europe were still walking round in animal skins.
Sgt Sprague, from White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, passed it on his way north, but he never knew it was there.
"I've been all the way through this desert from Basra to here and I ain't seen one shopping mall or fast food restaurant," he said. "These people got nothing. Even in a little town like ours of twenty five hundred people you got a McDonald's at one end and a Hardee's at the other."
We took Mom to Century 21 for some shopping during her visit last week. While there, I overheard one employee tell another this:
You be the teddy bear stalker. You be stalkin' anyone with a teddy bear.