The Friends of California Libre...

11 June 2004

Twenty Years After

Greetings, friends,
A hundred-thousand people lined up to see Dutch in his coffin (unless, as one friend posited, the coffin was empty in case of terrorism...) As I promised many, many years ago, when he was directly responsible for Ben Linder being murdered by the Contras, I had a party Saturday. Not many of you made it, but that wasn't the point. I drank to the possibility that Mr. Reagan, who first awakened me to the evil an American was capable of, might be burning in hell right at that moment. You see, I haven't forgotten 1984.

If you were too young to remember Ronald Reagan, here is a good article:
Ronald Reagan Dies at Age 93
By Lou Cannon
Washington Post

And a slightly more partisan one:
Planet Reagan
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t Perspective

And a very partisan one:
A Nice Guy's Nasty Policies
Robert Scheer
Los Angeles Times

It's been an up and down kind of week. First Reagan keels over, but then Bush gets his way in the UN. Locally, I received some shocking news regarding the World Naked Bike Ride, which as I noted last time, is taking place this Saturday, 12 June. You might recall I listed some of the cities where people are protesting dependency on oil by riding their bicycles naked through the streets:
Toronto, Vancouver, Barcelona, Pamplona, Zaragoza, Apeldoorn, London, Edinburgh, Golden Bay, Asheville, Austin, Bellingham, Berkeley, Boulder, Chicago,
Los Angeles, Olympia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle

Well, you can cross Los Angeles off that list. While I thought the idea was a little silly, I am disgusted to report that the event was announced locally on KNX, and the Santa Monica Police then indicated that they would mass at their border with Venice Beach (Navy Street) and arrest anyone who crossed naked. The LAPD said much the same, although they did not promise to wait for anyone.

You can read more about it here at Indymedia LA:

It may not seem a big deal to you, but I am aghast that these innocent cyclists, no threat to anyone, cannot even ride on the bike path in Venice, while in Europe, Canada, San Francisco, the Northwest, CHICAGO for chrissakes, the ride will take place and even, in some places, have a police escort for protection! I am very, very embarrassed to be a Los Angeleno, a situation which I am closer than ever to rectifying. The urge to scream FUCK YOU at an authority figure is very strong.

Anyway, trying to cheer myself up, in the "bound to make you feel old" department, I was lazily getting up on my day off last week and heard on the radio that OJ Simpson is making his way back to Los Angeles. Seems he has some interviews lined's been 10 years since:
A) he was doing a little pre-flight partying with the clown in his guesthouse, before taking a car to LAX, or
B) he slashed his old lady and a waiter bringing her a pair of glasses to death with a hunting knife.

Make you feel old? Everybody's getting out these days.
Cocaine 'Godmother' Released From Prison

As of next month, it will also be ten years since I moved into my present apartment, which was bursting at the seams until I began slowly repacking it into boxes last month. Where will I be in ten years? How about you in '14? Will George W. Bush have gotten the Christians to chisel his mug into Mount Rushmore? Or are the BAs (Born-Agains) correct, and the Rapture is at hand (as noted in an earlier Screed)?

Well, who cares. It's also been ten big ones since the death of Charles Bukowski, a fact that should not be lost on any of us here in LA. Last week I went to see the new documentary "Bukowski: Born Into This":

I was rather awed to see so much of the old man caught on film. I can say, with some assurance, that I was wrong about very many things when I was 18, but not Charles Bukowski. Indeed, my instincts about him were right on.

Yep, and I've been having some days that Bukowski might appreciate. As I walked into the Pershing Square Station on the way home from work a few days back, two guys were getting into a fight, or should I say, one guy was screaming "I'm gonna kill you, motherfucker" at another. The angry guy chased the scared guy into the station and then, in full view of two cops who'd just ridden up on bikes, threw a trash can at him. Yeah, but at least he didn't take his clothes off, eh? As the trash can bounced very loudly down the steps into the station, scaring the hell out of the people coming up, I walked down the escalator and watched the can bounce by, hardly pulling a step. I had a train to catch. LA is a fucked up town, make no bones about it.

It's a cruel, cruel world, even worse than it was twenty years ago, if you don't mind me saying so:
One in three Dutch men would choose watching soccer over wife's birthday

If I might get political again for a moment, upon running into her on Hyperion Avenue, Victoria gave me the distressing news that among other issues where he's questionable, Mr. Kerry has stated his opposition to even the labeling (forget banning the growth) of genetically modified (GM) foods. This is really quite distressing... a serious issue for me, as it should be to all...if you haven't, go back and re-read H.G. Wells' prophetic The Island of Dr. Moreau (or better yet, rent the awfully campy movie version with Val Kilmer and MARLON BRANDO) to get a little shiver for our future. Here is what I've discovered: there is no statement, pro or con, about GM foods on the Kerry website. A question posed to the Kerry campaign (who I am still collecting for) got me the runaround. There is this article here:
...but then again, this just posits that Monsanto's law firm has donated quite a bit of cash to Mr. Kerry...not a huge surprise, as they have offices in Massachusetts and biotech is a big industry in that state. Also, recall that Mr. Kerry's outgoing wife is a member of the Heinz clan (anticipation...)

The Bush administration, of course, is as pro-GM as could be. They've tried to strongarm the Europeans into taking the stuff, and hushed up reports that GM pollen is crossing the border and affecting organic seed in the US, Mexico and Canada. Ann Veneman, the Secretary of Agriculture, used to be on the board of Biogen. So while this (to me) is the most serious issue I've seen against Mr. Kerry to date (and won't be the first) I think this is something we can write and protest about in January 2005. There is no use even arguing about it with our present administration...they don't do "focus groups", remember?

It is very difficult to find information on the web about Mr. Kerry's attitude about GM foods at all, except that he did not support a bill submitted by one of California's senators, Ms. Boxer, requiring the labelling of GM foods, which was killed in committee:
The bill as introduced in the House by Mr. Kucinich, incidentally (HR 2916), is still alive but stuck in committee:

The only right you have in this country, it appears, is to eat your poison, smile and get your ass whupped:
Protesters Wait for GOP Convention Invite
By Michael Powell
Washington Post
Many Hope to Disrupt Event in New York, but Permits Are Not Easy to Obtain.

But I'll be there...they might shut down thirty cyclists in Santa Monica, but they'll have more trouble with a million in New York City (thanks, Andrea):

Permit or Not, Protesters Prepare for Republicans in New York
He relishes the idea, and it is just an idea, he says, of linking arms on streets around Madison Square Garden to block delegates and bring the Republican convention to a halt. Getting arrested for civil disobedience, if it comes
to that, does not faze him.
"I am not going to have a work schedule for two weeks after, just in case,'' says Jim Straub, 23, who is a part-time dishwasher and bookstore clerk and full-time
radical in Richmond, Va.

We need to protest, because our country is coming apart at the seams:
Gallery Owner Attacked for Iraq Abuse Art
The Associated Press

Our "values" are spreading everywhere; I thought this was funny at first, until I really pondered it:
China preparing pageant of silicone for 'artificial beauties'

It was comforting to hear this old voice:
Bill Clinton Attacks Bush over Iraq
By Tom Murphy and Angus MacSwan
Independent U.K.

And to see this milque-toast get pissed off:
Al Gore Links Abu Ghraib Prison Abuses to Deep Flaws in Bush Policy
Remarks by Al Gore

Man, I'm depressed. Isn't there any good news? How about a conspiracy theory to cheer me up:
U.S. Intelligence Fears Iran Duped Hawks into Iraq War
Julian Borger
The Guardian
Inquiry into Tehran's role in starting conflict
Top Pentagon ally Chalabi accused

What the hell is up with this:
Russian woman arrested in Spain with 38 pen guns and ammunition

Whereas this makes perfect sense to me... As Mike's friend said after Bush crashed his bike, "Doesn't his old man sky-dive? Can't we get this fuckwit to jump out of a plane and pull his tie?" Maybe we can get Bush to go to Albania.
Tenet Said to Be 'Victim of Ancient Albanian Jinx'

This cheered me up a little; it's good to read about the personal friendship between Edward Said, the Palestinian intellectual who recently died, and Daniel Barenboim, an Argentine Jew and one of my favorite pianists; it helps one hope for the future:
"NPR : Barenboim and Said: 'Parallels and Paradoxes'"

The reality for most people in the Middle East is darker; here's a typical joke from my boss (thanks, Helene):
> In Jerusalem an American female journalist heard about an old rabbi who visited the Wailing Wall to pray twice a day everyday for a very long time.
> In an effort to check out the story she goes to the holy site, and there he is!
> She watches the bearded old man at prayer; and after about 45 minutes when he turns to leave, she approaches him for an interview.
> "I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN, sir, how long have you been coming to the Wailing Wall and praying?"
> For about 50 years, he informs her.
> "50 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"
> "I pray for peace between the Jews and the Arabs. I pray for all the hatred to stop, and I pray for all our children to grow up in safety and friendship."
> "And how do you feel, sir, after doing this for 50 years?"
> "Like I'm talking to a fuckin' wall."

Meanwhile, the Bulgarians are planning ahead to make peaceful contact with beings from outer space:
Cosmic single currency unveiled in Bulgaria

And finally, proof that the French are a lot nicer than we are here in Los Angeles:
Chirac gives lost D-Day veteran a lift

Vive le Screed!

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