Tag Archives: The Bookman

Rock Creek Free Press available in COS

The Rock Creek Free Press is available online, but if you want it in print, the DC monthly is available in Colorado Springs at the Bookman, 3163 W. Colorado. The September issue features a speech given by legendary Australian journalist John Pilger on July 4th in San Francisco.

Here’s the RCFP transcript:

Two years ago I spoke at “Socialism in Chicago” about an invisible government which is a term used by Edward Bernays, one the founders of modern propaganda. It was Bernays, who in the 1920s invented public relations as a euphemism for propaganda. And it was Bernays, deploying the ideas of his uncle Sigmund Freud, who campaigned on behalf of the tobacco industry for women to take up smoking as an act of feminist liberation calling cigarettes “tortures of freedom”. At the same time he was involved in the disinformation which was critical in overthrowing the Arbenz government in Guatemala. So you have the association of cigarettes and regime change. The invisible government that Bernays had in mind brought together all media: PR, the press, broadcasting, advertising and their power of branding and image making. In other words, disinformation.

And I suppose I would like to talk today about this invisible government’s most recent achievement, the rise of Barrack Obama and the silencing of much of the left. But all of this has a history, of course and I’d like to go back, take you back some forty years to a sultry and, for me, very memorable day in Viet Nam.

I was a young war correspondent who had just arrived in a village in the Central Highlands called Tuylon. My assignment was to write about a unit of US Marines who had been sent to the village to win hearts and minds. “My orders,” said the Marine Sergeant, “are to sell the American way of liberty, as stated in the Pacification Handbook, this is designed to win the hearts and minds of folks as stated on page 86.” Now, page 86 was headed in capital letters: WHAM (winning hearts and minds). The Marine Unit was a combined action company which explained the Sergeant, meant, “We attack these folks on Mondays and we win their hearts and minds on Tuesdays.” He was joking, of course, but not quite.

The Sergeant, who didn’t speak Vietnamese, had arrived in the village, stood up on a Jeep and said through a bullhorn: “Come on out everybody we’ve got rice and candies and toothbrushes to give you.” This was greeted by silence. “Now listen, either you gooks come on out or we’re going to come right in there and get you!” Now the people of Tuylon finally came out and they stood in line to receive packets of Uncle Ben’s Miracle Rice, Hershey Bars, party balloons, and several thousand toothbrushes. Three portable, battery operated, yellow, flush lavatories were held back for the arrival of the colonel.

And when the colonel arrived that evening, the district chief was summoned and the yellow, flush lavatories unveiled. The colonel cleared his throat and took out a handwritten speech,

“Mr. District Chief and all you nice people,” said the colonel, “what these gifts represent is more than the sum of their parts, they carry the spirit of America. Ladies and gentlemen there’s no place on Earth like America, it’s the land where miracles happen, it’s a guiding light for me and for you. In America, you see, we count ourselves as real lucky as having the greatest democracy the world has ever known and we want you nice people to share in our good fortune.”

Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, even John Winthrope sitting upon a hill got a mention. All that was missing was the Star Bangled Banner playing softly in the background. Of course the villagers had no idea what the colonel was talking about, but when the Marines clapped, they clapped. And when the colonel waved, the children waved. And when he departed the colonel shook the Sergeant’s hand and said: “We’ve got plenty of hearts and minds here, carry on Sergeant.” “Yes Sir.” In Viet Nam I witnessed many scenes like that.

I’d grown up in faraway Australia on a cinematic diet of John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Walt Disney, and Ronald Reagan. The American way of liberty they portrayed might well have been lifted from the WHAM handbook. I’d learned that the United States had won World War II on its own and now led the free world as the chosen society. It was only later when I read Walter Lippmann’s book, Public Opinion, a manual of the invisible government, that I began to understand the power of emotions attached to false ideas and bad histories on a grand scale.

Now, historians call this exceptionalism, the notion that the United States has a divine right to bring what it calls “liberty” to the rest of humanity. Of course this is a very old refrain. The French and British created and celebrated their own civilizing missions while imposing colonial regimes that denied basic civil liberties. However, the power of the American message was, and remains, different. Whereas the Europeans were proud imperialists, Americans are trained to deny their imperialism. As Mexico was conquered and the Marines sent to Nicaragua, American textbooks referred to an Age of Innocence. American motives were always well meaning, moral, exceptional, as the colonel said, “There was no ideology” and that’s still the case.

Americanism is an ideology that is unique because its main feature is its denial that it is an ideology. It’s both conservative and it’s liberal. And it’s right and it’s left. And Barack Obama is its embodiment. Since Obama was elected leading liberals have talked about America returning to its true status as, “a nation of moral ideals”. Those are the words of Paul Krugman, the liberal columnist of The New York Times. In the San Francisco Chronicle, columnist Mark Morford wrote,

“Spiritually advanced people regard the new president as a light worker who can help usher in a new way of being on the planet.”

Tell that to an Afghan child whose family has been blown away by Obama’s bombs. Or a Pakistani child whose house has been visited by one of Obama’s drones. Or a Palestinian child surveying the carnage in Gaza caused by American “smart” weapons, which, disclosed Seymour Hersh, were re-supplied to Israel for use in the slaughter, and I quote; “Only after the Obama team let if be known, it would not object.” The man who stayed silent on Gaza is the man who now condemns Iran.

In a sense, Obama is the myth that is America’s last taboo. His most consistent theme was never “change”, it was power. “The United States,” he said, “leads the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good. We must lead by building a 21st century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people.” And there is this remarkable statement, “At moments of great peril in the past century our leaders ensured that America, by deed and by example, led and lifted the world; that we stood and fought for the freedoms sought by billions of people beyond our borders.” Words like these remind me of the colonel in the village in Viet Nam, as he spun much the same nonsense.

Since 1945, by deed and by example, to use Obama’s words, America has overthrown 50 governments, including democracies, and crushed some 30 liberation movements and bombed countless men, women, and children to death. I’m grateful to Bill Blum for his cataloging of that. And yet, here is the 45th (sic) president of the United States having stacked his government with war mongers and corporate fraudsters and polluters from the Bush and Clinton eras, promising, not only more of the same, but a whole new war in Pakistan. Justified by the murderous clichés of Hilary Clinton, clichés like, “high value targets”. Within three days of his inauguration, Obama was ordering the death of people in faraway countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan. And yet, the peace movement, it seems, is prepared to look the other way and believe that the cool Obama will restore, as Krugman wrote, “the nation of moral ideals.”

Not long ago, I visited the American Museum of History in the celebrated Smithsonian Institute in Washington. One of the most popular exhibitions was called “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War”. It was holiday time and lines of happy people, including many children, shuffled through a Santa’s grotto of war and conquest. When messages about their nation’s great mission were lit up; these included tributes to the; “…exceptional Americans who saved a million lives…” in Viet Nam; where they were, “…determined to stop Communist expansion.” In Iraq other brave Americans, “employed air-strikes of unprecedented precision.” What was shocking was not so much the revisionism of two of the epic crimes of modern times, but the shear scale of omission.

Like all US presidents, Bush and Obama have very much in common. The wars of both presidents and the wars of Clinton and Reagan, Carter and Ford, Nixon and Kennedy are justified by the enduring myth of exceptional America. A myth the late Harold Pinter described as, “a brilliant, witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

The clever young man who recently made it to the White House is a very fine hypnotist; partly because it is indeed extraordinary to see an African American at the pinnacle of power in the land of slavery. However, this is the 21st century and race together with gender, and even class, can be very seductive tools of propaganda. For what is so often overlooked and what matters, I believe above all, is the class one serves. George Bush’s inner circle from the State Department to the Supreme Court was perhaps the most multi-racial in presidential history. It was PC par excellence. Think Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell. It was also the most reactionary. Obama’s very presence in the White House appears to reaffirm the moral nation. He’s a marketing dream. But like Calvin Klein or Benetton, he’s a brand that promises something special, something exciting, almost risqué. As if he might be radical. As if he might enact change. He makes people feel good; he’s a post-modern man with no political baggage. And all that’s fake.

In his book, Dreams From My Father, Obama refers to the job he took after he graduated from Columbia in 1983; he describes his employer as, “…a consulting house to multi-national corporations.” For some reason he doesn’t say who his employer was or what he did there. The employer was Business International Corporation; which has a long history of providing cover for the CIA with covert action and infiltrating unions from the left. I know this because it was especially active in my own country, Australia. Obama doesn’t say what he did at Business International and they may be absolutely nothing sinister. But it seems worthy of inquiry, and debate, as a clue to, perhaps, who the man is.

During his brief period in the senate, Obama voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He voted for the Patriot Act. He refused to support a bill for single payer health care. He supported the death penalty. As a presidential candidate he received more corporate backing than John McCain. He promised to close Guantanamo as a priority, but instead he has excused torture, reinstated military commissions, kept the Bush gulag intact, and opposed habeas corpus.

Daniel Ellsberg, the great whistleblower, was right, I believe, when he said, that under Bush a military coup had taken place in the United States giving the Pentagon unprecedented powers. These powers have been reinforced by the presence of Robert Gates – a Bush family crony and George W. Bush’s powerful Secretary of Defense. And by all the Bush Pentagon officials and generals who have kept their jobs under Obama.

In the middle of a recession, with millions of Americans losing their jobs and homes, Obama has increased the military budget. In Colombia he is planning to spend 46 million dollars on a new military base that will support a regime backed by death squads and further the tragic history of Washington’s intervention in that region.

In a pseudo-event in Prague, Obama promised a world without nuclear weapons to a global audience, mostly unaware that America is building new tactical nuclear weapons designed to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war. Like George Bush, he used the absurdity of Europe threatened by Iran to justify building a missile system aimed at Russia and China. In another pseudo-event, at the Annapolis Naval Academy, decked with flags and uniforms, Obama lied that America had gone to Iraq to bring freedom to that country. He announced that the troops were coming home. This was another deception. The head of the army, General George Casey says, with some authority, that America will be in Iraq for up to a decade. Other generals say fifteen years.

Chris Hedges, the very fine author of Empire of Illusion, puts it very well; “President Obama,” he wrote, “does one thing and brand Obama gets you to believe another.” This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertiser wants because of how they make you feel. And so you are kept in a perpetual state of childishness. He calls this “junk politics”.

But I think the real tragedy is that Obama, the brand, appears to have crippled or absorbed much of the anti-war movement – the peace movement. Out of 256 Democrats in Congress; 30, just 30, are willing to stand up against Obama’s and Nancy Pelosi’s war party. On June the 16th they voted for 106 billion dollars for more war.

The “Out of Iraq” caucus is out of action. Its member can’t even come up with a form of words of why they are silent. On March the 21st, a demonstration at the Pentagon by the once mighty United for Peace and Justice drew only a few thousand. The out-going president of UFPJ, Lesley Kagen, says her people aren’t turning up because, “It’s enough for many of them that Obama has a plan to end the war and that things are moving in the right direction.” And where is the mighty Move On, these days? Where is its campaign against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? And what, exactly, was said when Move On’s executive director, Jason Ruben, met Barack Obama at the White House in February?

Yes, a lot of good people mobilized for Obama. But what did they demand of him? Working to elect the Democratic presidential candidate may seem like activism, but it isn’t. Activism doesn’t give up. Activism doesn’t fall silent. Activism doesn’t rely on the opiate of hope. Woody Allen once said, “I felt a lot better when I gave up hope.” Real activism has little time for identity politics which like exceptionalism, can be fake. These are distractions that confuse and sucker good people. And not only in the United States, I can assure you.

I write for the Italian socialist newspaper, Il Manifesto, or rather I used to write for it. In February I sent the editor an article which raised questions about Obama as a progressive force. The article was rejected. Why, I asked? “For the moment,” wrote the editor, “we prefer to maintain a more positive approach to the novelty presented by Obama. We will take on specific issues, but we would not like to say that he will make no difference.” In other words, an American president drafted to promote the most rapacious system in history, is ordained and depoliticized by important sections of the left. It’s a remarkable situation. Remarkable, because those on the, so called, Radical Left have never been more aware, more conscious of the inequities of power. The Green Movement, for example, has raised the consciousness of millions, so that almost every child knows something about global warming. And yet, there seems to be a resistance, within the Green Movement, to the notion of power as a military force, a military project. And perhaps similar observations can also be made about sections of the Feminist Movement and the Gay Movement and certainly the Union Movement.

One of my favorite quotations is from Milan Kundera,

“The struggle of people against power is [the] struggle of memory against forgetting.”

We should never forget that the primary goal of great power is to distract and limit our natural desire for social justice and equity and real democracy.

Long ago Edward Bernays’ invisible government of propaganda elevated big business from its unpopular status as a kind of mafia to that of a patriotic driving force. The “American way of life” began as an advertising slogan. The modern image of Santa Claus was an invention of Coca Cola.

Today we are presented with an extraordinary opportunity. Thanks to the crash of Wall Street and the revelation, for many ordinary people, that the free market has nothing to do with freedom. The opportunity, within our grasp, is to recognize that something is stirring in America that is unfamiliar, perhaps, to many of us on the left, but is related to a great popular movement that’s growing all over the world. Look down at Latin America, less than twenty years ago there was the usual despair, the usual divisions of poverty and freedom, the usual thugs in uniforms running unspeakable regimes. Today for the first time perhaps in 500 years there’s a people’s movement based on the revival of indigenous cultures and language, a genuine populism. The recent amazing achievements in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, El Salvador, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay represent a struggle for community and political rights that is truly historic, with implications for all of us. The successes in Latin America are expressed perversely in the recent overthrow of the government of Honduras, because the smaller the country, the greater is the threat of a good example that the disease of emancipation will spread.

Indeed, right across the world social movements and grass roots organization have emerged to fight free market dogma. They’ve educated governments in the south that food for export is a problem, rather than a solution to global poverty. They’ve politicized ordinary people to stand up for their rights, as in the Philippines and South Africa. Look at the remarkable boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign, BDS, for short, aimed at Israel that’s sweeping the world. Israeli ships have been turned away from South Africa and Western Australia. A French company has been forced to abandon plans to build a railway connecting Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements. Israeli sporting bodies find themselves isolated. Universities in the United Kingdom have begun to sever ties with Israel. This is how apartheid South Africa was defeated. And this is how the great wind of the 1960s began to blow. And this is how every gain has been won: the end of slavery, universal suffrage, workers rights, civil rights, environmental protection, the list goes on and on.

And that brings us back, here, to the United States, because I believe something is stirring in this country. Are we aware, that in the last eight months millions of angry e-mails, sent by ordinary Americans, have flooded Washington. And I mean millions. People are outright outraged that their lives are attacked; they bear no resemblance to the passive mass presented by the media. Look at the polls; more than 2/3 of Americans say the government should care for those who cannot care for themselves, sixty-four percent would pay higher taxes to guarantee health care for everyone, sixty percent are favorable towards Unions, seventy percent want nuclear disarmament, seventy-two percent want the US completely out of Iraq and so on and so on. But where is much of the left? Where is the social justice movement? Where is the peace movement? Where is the civil rights movement? Ordinary Americans, for too long, have been misrepresented by stereotypes that are contemptuous. James Madison referred to his compatriots in the public as ignorant and meddlesome outsiders. And this contempt is probably as strong today, among the elite, as it was back then. That’s why the progressive attitudes of the public are seldom reported in the media, because they’re not ignorant, they’re subversive, they’re informed and they’re even anti-American. I once asked a friend, the great American war correspondent and humanitarian, Martha Gellhorn, to explain the term “anti-American” to me. “I’ll tell you what anti-American is,” she said in her forceful way, “its what governments and their vested interests call those who honor America by objecting to war and the theft of resources and believing in all of humanity. There are millions of these anti-Americans in the United States, they are ordinary people who belong to no elite and who judge their government in moral terms though they would call it common decency. They are not vain; they are the people with a waitful conscience, the best of America’s citizens. Sure, they disappear from view now and then, but they are like seeds beneath the snow. I would say they are truly exceptional.” Truly exceptional, I like that.

My own guess is that a populism is growing, once again in America evoking a powerful force beneath the surface which has a proud history. From such authentic grass roots Americanism came women suffrage, the eight hour day, graduated income tax, public ownership of railways and communications, the breaking of the power of corporate lobbyists and much more. In other words, real democracy. The American populists were far from perfect, but they often spoke for ordinary people and they were betrayed by leaders who urged them to compromise and merge with the Democratic Party. That was long ago, but how familiar it sounds. My guess is that something is coming again. The signs are there. Noam Chomsky is right when he says that, “Mere sparks can ignite a popular movement that may seem dormant.” No one predicted 1968, no one predicted the fall of apartheid, or the Berlin Wall, or the civil rights movement, or the great Latino rising of a few years ago.

I suggest that we take Woody Allen’s advice and give up on hope and listen, instead, to voices from below. What Obama and the bankers and the generals and the IMF and the CIA and CNN and BBC fear, is ordinary people coming together and acting together. It’s a fear as old as democracy, a fear that suddenly people convert their anger to action as they’ve done so often throughout history.

“At a time of universal deceit,” wrote George Orwell, “telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Thank you.

Test results confirm Pattie is a Pepper

Pattie 2007The doctor has declined to say whether depriving herself of her daily Dr Pepper supplement (corn syrup) has precipitated recent health difficulties.
 
After a doctor’s visit today, Pattie was urgently scooted to Penrose Hospital for more tests. She has a westward facing room on the tenth floor, room 1006. Pattie is scheduled for GI tests tomorrow and is expected to be incarcerated for three or four days. Visitors welcome.

BookmoBille missed at Veterans prade

Letter sent to the Bookman after the Veterans Day Parade, having anticipated we might have protested it.
This note was sent to the Bookman after Veterans Day. Enclosed was a clipping about the death of the pilot of the Enola Gay, who would not be memorialized with a headstone for fear of attracting protesters. The sender expected us to try to crash the parade apparently, confusing the Bookman and cohorts for the Phelps Family funeral hecklers.

Police foreknowledge on St Patricks Day

Raining on our parade April 17 Saint Patricks Day 2007
We used to joke around the fire at Camp Casey about whether we were being surveilled or infiltrated by agents or disruptors even, as has been done with historic regularity to opposition political groups and their organizers. Even to discuss it today with CPIS or PPJPC feels self-aggrandizing. We know ourselves that we do not pose such a threat that law enforcement would need to monitor our actions.

Let’s dismiss out of hand the idea that struggling activists in Colorado Springs would merit infiltration. So too wiretapping or bugging devices. Have we ever raised but a timid excuse-me to authority? Have we ever mobilized even more than a smattering of protesters ready to press our local leaders for accountability? We have not. We might grab the news on occasion, but in that respect we seem quite willing to telecast our intentions on the local news. To eavesdrop on us then would be redundant.

Alright then, how about email exchanges? Any need to monitor our email passing to and fro? Local ISPs handling the email could flag potential buildups of momentum. Is law enforcement in touch with them? Maybe, maybe not. Who wants to sort all that, or file the paperwork to get the analysis from Buckley.

At least an observer might want to watch our general mass mailings, for calls to arms. What about checking those weekly announcements at a minimum to see what we say we are doing?

And what about the websites? There are less than a handful of community websites which post and discuss upcoming actions. Would the police be looking at websites like this, or csaction.org, or ppjpc.org to try to sort out what’s up?

Police Chief Myers, in explaining the mishandling of St. Patrick’s Day, pointed the finger at the PPJPC and myself for duplicity in joining the parade. Myers explained that our websites made no mention of our intentions to march with the Bookmobile. Well, putting aside their erroneous conclusion, Myers’ statement confirms the answer to the last question: are the police checking in on us online? They say they do.

The police check the websites
If they had looked at our website, they would have seen what? Our calls for participation in the parade, our discussion of the parameters of the permit, our reservations, when we would be assembling, where we were parking, even the larger plans we had to conduct a peace rally in adjacent Pioneer Park. Those were plans we were still trying to juggle. I was hoping to gather onlookers from the parade route and have them join us afield for an impromptu peace rally. These plans were fully fleshed out and debated online, in multiple places. If the police studied our websites as they say they did, they would have seen our plans for that Saturday.

So even if the police weren’t infiltrating us, surveilling our meetings, wiretapping our phones, monitoring our communications, sifting our email, or reviewing our public announcements, they would have known from our websites that the PPJPC was marching with the Bookman, in green peace t-shirts, as we had done, announced and recruited for, online, the year before.

The police excuse of having been taken unawares on St Patrick’s Day, of being confronted with not knowing whether we had a permit, of stopping us in the parade route instead of earlier in the assembly area, begins to ring a little of falsehood.
Come to papa
The odds of us encountering a smiling Erwin Paladino of the CSPD, head head-cruncher of the 2003 anti-protestor police work, begin to look very improbable. The strategy then to throw us to the ground creating a scene, creating an obstruction themselves, making a lesson out of dealing with people stubbornly clinging to their rights, begins to look a little premeditated.

That is, if you believe the police are keeping their eye on us. We disrupt at the Broadmoor, we seek redress at our representatives’ offices, we banner the main streets, we interfere with military job fairs and recruitment strip malls. We show up at City Council and have them scrambling amok. We don’t plan any of this in secret. Probably somebody’s responsible for keeping themselves abreast.

So did Erwin Paladino draw the plum job of getting to apprehend us one block from the official parade start? Or was it a big coincidence? At the staging we could have rallied or prevailed from a dialog unhurried by the pressure of holding up the parade. At Tejon and St Vrain the police got to appear improvisational and exercise executive authority to take us down.

Let me show you Bad Writing

New Life self awarenessPoor Richard writes that his bookstore will neither carry the Ted Haggard expose nor host a book signing by its author Mike Jones, sex worker to reluctant habitue, Ted Haggard. Skorman can do what he wishes, but to say the reason is because the book is badly written is a cop out. Any bookseller in this city has to admit they carry a not inconsiderable mass of atrocious dreck. Bad books sell, and alas Richard’s stand for a higher literary standard is the first to my knowledge.

I think Jones’ choice of an incompetent writer to ghost his Haggard Days memoir is likely spot-on for a Colorado Springs audience. What’s the best selling book here? The home-grown LEFT BEHIND series! I guarantee you a fourth grader has not encountered less inspired writing.

Not that our city is atypical, even today’s NYT bestsellers play to a descending literary IQ. From Dan Brown to whoever is your cheesy favorite I’ve no doubt. This phenomena was clocked most distinctly when Stephen King was given the 2003 National Book Award for his contribution to [the sales of] American Letters. What a banner year it was, 2003.

So why pick on poor male escort Mike Jones? I think it’s pure political cowardice. The New Life Crew and their fallen gay-bashing leader have done irreparable harm to the progress of acceptance of homosexuals. Here’s a chance to teach them something about from where comes their misplaced hatred, and Mike Jones stands without allies to do it. Jones is not an opportunist, he’s a hero doing a dirty job. Maybe the right man for the dirty job, to crack a cheap joke, but if Jones was truly out for himself, he’d have taken a mega-fortune from a conglomeration of fundie gay-hating institutions interested in keeping Haggard in the pulpit. Remember Bill O’Reilly’s non-consensual phone-sex while penetrating himself with a lifelike vibrating phallus? He and Fox paid an undisclosed fraction of a BILLION to make that story go away.

If I knew THE BOOKMAN could handle the heat of accusations that we were only doing it for the attention –we’ve exceeded our limit, thank you KVOR creeps particularly– my bookstore would of course host this reading and book signing. And I commend Jones for tastefully steering past whatever might have been the unwelcome lascivious play by play.

I believe the Ted Haggard comeuppance is of capital importance for Colorado Springs, not to gloat about Haggard’s suffering or about the humiliation of his flock, but to lift the veil from their self-hatred of homosexuals. Haggard is unrepentant about this by the way, and if I might offer a simplified analysis, he hates gays because he hates himself. What reason has he the temerity to suggest that we should hate them?

Let’s welcome Mike Jones to our town. Jones unmasked the Haggard hate monster, let him claim the lair. Jones can satiate our curiosity, feed the spectacle, accept our thanks for showing personal integrity, and move this story along. I most certainly think it took a lot of bravery for Mike Jones to do what he did. He showed the kind of courage we can’t even summon, as we deliberate about whether to extend him our hand.

Perhaps as a community of independent booksellers we can do it. Why ever are we afraid of the religious right? They don’t buy our books. When Christians do buy a book they buy it new from an Inspirational Bookstore, because it feels like a more deliberate investment in their faith, I’ve heard it explained, sort of like paying down on a tithe or Indulgence.

Do I fear the Fundamentalist wrath? If they’re under-educated, under-literate, bigoted ditto-heads, of course I do. I fear them like I would Brown Shirts or union busters. Fundamentalist have a terrible tradition for that kind of immorality. Ask anyone in retail, if a customer declares themselves to be a Christian, you actually have to watch them closely because experience has shown they are more likely to try to steal or cheat. Probably because that’s the sort of conflicted person who is drawn to simplistic religious dogma in the first place.

Of course I fear them. But Ted Haggard’s fall must not go without every spotlight we can summon. He’s still behaving like a bastard and we really should shout him down. Jones has given us Haggard’s Achilles Heinie/ [Meth]Habit, let’s use it! If no one is really going to step up to ask Mike Jones to town, I most certainly will. I’m sorry I came late to this discussion but good grief!

March for peace and the Irish Insurgents

Saturday, March 17 marks St Patrick’s Day, and also marks the 4th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Join thousands++ worldwide who are protesting this weekend to call for an end to this endless war.

March with the Bookman Bookmobile on Saturday at NOON as we infuse the downtown parade with marchers calling for PEACE. We’ll be waving flags with peace symbols and holding banners calling for PEACE NOW and END THIS ENDLESS WAR. An estimated 40,000 people will see our message. We’ll also be inviting everyone to the PEACE FORUM later that evening at Sacred Heart and the Year-4 PEACE RALLY on Sunday at Acacia Park!

Last year’s Bookmobile peace contingent “EDUCATION IS THE KEY TO PEACE” was very warmly received and applauded. Details and pics
here.

Bring your own signs if you desire, but we’d like to keep the peace theme non-confrontational. Wear green.

If you participated last year, please wear your green peace-symbol t-shirt. We’ll have new t-shirts available for those who need them, at a cost of $10 if possible. We’ll also have peace-symbol caps and flags. Easily something for everyone!

Please join us! Help make our appeal for PEACE NOW as loud as possible!

WHERE: Assemble on east side of Tejon Street between Monument and Willamette, you won’t miss the NEON GREEN Bookmobile, gather there!

WHEN: Between 11am and Noon on Saturday, March 17. The parade begins at noon and we’re 21st in line.

THEN: Parade proceeds south along Tejon, beginning officially at Boulder and ends at Vermijo . We’ll disperse into Pioneer’s Plaza (across from the J&P!) probably around 1pm.

PARKING TIP: You might want to have parked in the J&P vicinity before the parade so that you can then drive home from there.

If you have any questions, please call ERIC at 719.460.2836 asap. Please come, we need your help! Invite as many friends as you can, and pass this announcement along to whoever you think might want to join us.

Mini Metro-Mite

Metro-Mite saves you money
One of my most cherished possessions, a 1963 International Harvester Metro-Mite, here disguised as a delivery step van the size of a children’s toy passing for a promotional piggy bank pretending to be for a kid.
 
I can’t find the facsimile right now so I have to settle for this picture.

Come to a book burning!

The Bookman would like to announce, on the eve of its 15th Anniversary, a long overdue, grand attention-getting idea: A GET WITH THE PROGRAM- BOOK BURNING!
 
Let’s draw national attention and put Colorado Springs on the map for what it is: the Mecca of modern American fundamentalism. You hear it from world citizens more and more, they’re less worried by Islamic Fundamentalists than they are by American Fundamentalists!

Doesn’t Colorado Springs embody this scary Modern America? Teach creationism, perpetuate bigotry, all children left behind, screw their education with CSAPs, pump their ears with pornographic rap, trap their attention with Xboxes and Playstations, fill them with fat, sugar and BGH, send no one overseas to see the rest of the world unless they are carrying M16s and shooting everyone especially women and children.

In light of current times and the local uneducated landscape, we’re hosting a community book burning! We invite everyone to cast your votes for which books to destroy. We have a ton of them to burn, they’re not selling. Oh the crappy ones sell just fine, but the intellectual titles, who wants ’em?

Contrary to popular wisdom, the lauded, feted, quickly gentrifying westside, our home neighborhood, is as uneducated and uncultured as the rest of Colorado Springs. And that’s amazingly ignorant by any standard! We may as well be South Dakota Springs for as backward as we are. And those folks don’t know their asshole from, well, from your asshole apparently.

In keeping with local ordinances against open fires, we’ll actually destroy the books by conducting book baptisms instead of burnings. We’ll use large trash containers full of water. Same effect, same religious significance, book destroyed. Plus we’ll be keeping the idiots away from fire.

Biting the hand

The other day I stopped by a weekly gathering of friends of mine, a local watering hole to which a number gather for happy hour. As I swung out of the car and strode toward the door, I thought about how my appearance here was always to renew contacts and solicit participants for some event or other.

One of the first friends I saw came over to me saying “you’re getting to be quite a regular here.” Well, I told him, not really, but I know where to catch everybody. “No, he said, you are kinda becoming a part of this group.”

I explained my quest to get as many people as possible to march within the peace contigent which we were sneaking into the apolitical St. Patrick’s Day parade under cover of the Bookman bookmobile entry. The bookmobile is bright green, a shoe-in for St. Patrick’s Day. And it’s a good cause in itself: children’s literacy. This time the message would be broadened to encompass moral literacy.

I knew my friend traditionally rode his bicycle in this parade. I asked him if he might be interested in doubling back and joining what I’d hoped would be a mass of peace marchers. The bookmobile spot was near the end of the parade. Perhaps there would be time after his early bicycle gig to make his way back and ride with us. It seemed all the more easy since he’d be on a bike. And the cause of world peace is pretty hard to resist.

No, he said. Not possible. After the parade it’s a tradition for his crew to head straight to his house, make a beeline to the booze is what he said specifically.

Now I don’t want to be judgmental. Maybe the parade is rather arduous by bicycle, maybe drinking beer is the only natural order of business. Who am I to question whether self-medication is a perfectly legitimate coping mechanism to this world gone awry. Maybe there is a path to inner peace through communal inebriation. Maybe they’ve got a plan to raise world consciousness by drinking together. It’s not impossible that such a strategy could be a million times more likely to succeed than a sober one.

I did ask myself if I was once again taking for granted that public protest was the only honorable position to take on the war. And once again I felt like an outsider at that bar. I thought to myself, on this drinking thing, I am so not with you.

Bookman flooded

Guess what’s new at Bookman today? The entire back room has two inches of red mud on the floor and seeping up the boxes! The rear quarter of the main room is soaked and red with red rock. All the paperback on the floor, from the P’s of Fiction, through Psychology, through Anthropology and Theatre, to somewhere in History are soaked like sponges. All the magazines standing in folders likewise syphoned the water straight up.

At seven thirty this morning, a water main broke behind Bookman, exactly underneath the two trailers. By 8:30 the city water department reached me. They needed me to move the trucks before they could begin repairs. I met Dad down there.

Water was flowing out of the pavement. The asphalt was sagging just ahead of the rear wheels of the trailers. We’d have to pull them forward, over the hole, held up by the water pressing up from the broken main.

So the water people refused to turn off the water until I’d gotten the trucks moved, meanwhile the water was washing away more dirt and creating a bigger hole. Imagine everyone from the city and all the neighboring businesses watching and waiting on us and we’re waiting on a driver.

I saw the mud up on the back sidewalk and asked Dad if he’d seen any damage inside. He said no. When I saw we had to disconnect the power cord to the truck I went inside to unlock the back door. I took off my shoes to keep from getting the carpet wet. Walking in the dark I suddenly felt the carpet was squishy. I slopped barefoot through to the back door, opened it and greeted Dad.

The driver was good. He pulled the first one forward quickly over the hole. The second trailer he backed up and ran the tractor backwards over the hole. That one was the trailer Justin had packed real full and was the heaviest. Mike was taking Mpegs of the action, a luckily there was none. It could have been amazing and we would have needed a crane.

Randee arrived by this time and draped toilet paper across the aisles and wrote on them: Do Not Cross, like a police barrier. A customer went home to get a squeegy which he’d used when he had flooding. Meanwhile Dad and I repacked the graffiti truck so that the contents could handle the long drive to the storage yard. We put it right in front of Longs. Margot of Felix Realty took this occasion to intone that she didn’t ever want the trailers back.

So the water’s off for everyone. The dry cleaner is freaking, Pizza Hut closed for the day, and we don’t care, we don’t let anyone use the bathroom! They’ve got a back-hoe digging to clear some work space for replacing the pipe. It’s going to take a huge paving job because the dirt is eroded along the edge of the parking lot clear down to past Longs.

Well that’s the story so far. Mike took pictures for insurance and gawking reasons, meanwhile he and I were trying to repair the Toons computer, it was still down. It’ll be up, new and improved, making regular backups, by 7pm ETA. Mom helped out quite a bit and brought shovels and lunch.