Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Music, Iraq

I had intended to write about Maria, Francisco and Miguel's new newsletter but Maria called and they're adding one element which they're working on so I'll wait and write about it soon.
The illustration is of Stevie Nicks and it goes with
"Music retrospective: Stevie Nicks" (The Third Estate Sunday Review).

I am a big fan of Stevie Nicks. I know I've discussed that before. Working on this was both a chore and a delight. A chore because it took forever, we had so much to say. A delight because we had so much discussing her work.

Poor Dona got stuck with editing the typed draft down to something workable which I know wasn't easy. Ava and C.I. took notes, they usually get stuck with that task. Ty had to write it up and we didn't make our points in order so that was hard as well.

We spent three hours on the writing of the piece and by writing, I'm talking about discussing her work. There was some initial editing done by Ava, C.I. and Ty. But the thing was huge. (And ran as is in the print edition. I believe Gina and Krista are going to run the whole thing in the gina & krista round-robin.) Dona really had her work cut out for her editing this down.

Sunny read it again today to check the new part and wondered if that got edited out originally? It didn't. There was no conclusion -- only panic that it had gone on so long and wasn't even typed up. Dona was literally yelling that three hours was enough. I don't think that any of us, at that moment were really thinking about anything but, "Look at the hour!" It was the last thing we all worked on (the gang -- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. -- did the editorial themselves; the short pieces were written by the gang minus Dona who was working on editing the thing into something workable). We spent a great deal of time on Abeer as well. But that was working the feature article through several drafts.

I read it today, after Sunny mentioned it, to see what the conclusion was like? I think it's very strong and just what was needed.

Monday, Sunny had one question because she'd read it and gone to Wikipedia. I know the gang calls it "crapapedia" but I didn't get why until Sunny asked me if "Two Kinds of Love" was really a single? Wikipedia doesn't list it. Yes, it was and it made the Billboard Top 100 Singles (that may not be the name of the chart, C.I. would know). I brought in my cassette copy of it to work today. I remember buying it and it was something like 83 on the chart at the time. Cassettes, hard to believe, used to have the kind of excitement around them that CDs had a few years back (that MP3s do today). As the seventies closed and the eighties began, the recording industry was in a sales slump. What changed it? A number of things including technology.

One of the biggest techonology advances was the Walkman by Sony. There were other companies doing similar things. But the Walkman was a big thing once upon a time. You couldn't play a vinyl record album on a Walkman.

8-Tracks had made music more portable. (Actually, once upon a time, in the early life of rock, when it was all about the singles, they were on 45 discs and those could and were toted around, sometimes with a little portable player -- though I don't remember any running on batteries.)
8-Tracks? A rectangle. That's the easiest way to describe it someone who doesn't know them. They had tape inside and they did make music portable. You could listen to an album in your car, on the beach, in the park. I had the worst experience with 8-tracks. Every other week, it seemed like one was getting eaten up. I remember a Jackson 5 album that a friend loved and she brought it over on 8-Track to share. My machine ate it up.

8-Tracks and vinyl albums seemed to co-exist with most buying the vinyl because you got the album sleeve, anything inside, etc. The album cover was a label stuck to the top of an 8-Track and, usually within a few months, little bubbles developed underneath it so the "cover" was a lousy picture by then.

The Walkman provided a new way to listen. And the sales of it and casette tape players in cars, really helped the industry. Whenever Ashford & Simpson did "Count Your Blessings," the album that song was on, that's when it was obvious that cassettes and vinyl would not peacefully exist. I remember that because C.I. is a huge fan of Ashford & Simpson. I was in a record store when that album had come out (maybe just come out) and I noticed that the vinyl section was greatly reduced. The cassettes were greatly increased. Ashford & Simpson was on sale (because it was new) and part of the display with other new releases. For the new releases, they had cassettes going up and down the wall and only a few vinyl albums.

I was already buying cassettes at that point but I remembr looking at the album cover (vinyl) used in the display for all the new releases and just realizing, "Oh, they're dropping vinyl."

Cassettes reigned for the 80s. They were still popular in some of the early 90s. I had to be prodded to switch over by C.I. (who gave my a CD player as a gift and a 'starter set' of CDs). Kat kind of wrote about this period in an entry where she talked about the excitement the switch meant. In the vinyl days, you bought the album and could rush home to listen. As cassettes took over, you really were able to listen as soon as you got out of the store. (I always had to use my keys to remove the plastic. I'm not obsessive about my finger nails the way Rebecca is, but I did break a finger nail or too early on and learned to use my keys.)

With 8-Tracks, I wasliving with a guy who loved to listen to them but hated to buy them. He had a deck that you plugged into the stereo and you could tape a vinyl album on 8-Track with. So we were buying vinyl and we'd make our own portable ones from that.

The benefit of cassettes was that they were in a case. Unlike vinyl (or CD today), there was no handling the area the music was on. I remember thinking, "Nobody needs needles!" The needle on my record player was always going out. (I listened to music even more then than I do today, if you can believe that.) I stocked up like crazy on cassette, getting all the albums I had on vinyl on cassette.

The format had it's problems. Tape dropout is a term I'll never forget. (You'd be listen to the music and it would either get softer or just go out because that section of the tape had gone bad.)
I also remember my Steve Miller Band cassette that began to squeak as the wheels in the cassette turned. You could sometimes blast the music loud enough to block that out but, more often than not, you couldn't. So you bought a new one.

The thing I enjoyed most about cassettes was the fact that "albums" returned. I grew up on albums and near the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s, there weren't a lot of albums. There were a lot of things that had three good songs on it and then filler.

I never liked Hall & Oates, to use an example. But I had a friend who did. She would buy every album and, I think it was Private Eyes that she played for me once, there was so much filler.

We'd all learned to move the needle by then. When playing albums, we'd all learned how to move the needle with minimal injury to the vinyl disc.

Cassette tapes had two sides. On most players, when one side ended, you'd take it out and flip it over or put in a new tape. So unless you wanted to play with rewind and fast forward, you were really listening to the entire thing (or an entire side, at least).

With CDs, we have the option of programming (the same was with MP3s) and you're basically sampling an album more than listening to it in some cases.

The Beatles are not available on MP3s -- yet. I can't believe that they will be, but supposedly that's happening shortly. That really saddens me. Starting with Rubber Soul, you've got albums and I doubt most people will ever experience them who are into MP3s. (I may be wrong.)

I noticed that you can buy hits now, 'classics.' I can remember when you bought the album or the best of album. I know I discovered many wonderful songs that way. Now, will it all be reduced to the artist's biggest hit? No offense to the Eagles, but the songs I like by them, they aren't usually the biggest hits. "Hotel California," it's nice, I can listen to it. But there are so many other songs . . .

But technology changes and people change with it (or get left behind).

On Stevie Nicks. I bought Bella Donna on vinyl the first time. Wild Heart was one of my first cassettes. I then got Bella Donna (and all the Mac) on cassette. I would stay with that through her greatest hits. Street Angel was the first album of her's I bought on CD. What I noticed with CDs (and I'm not talking about Street Angel which I enjoyed more than everyone else working on the essay did) was that some people didn't have it in them. 18 songs were a bit much for a lot of artists. So maybe MP3s (and whatever immediately follows them) will act as a counterweight to that?

I just know that yet again, I've built up my collection and, yet again, the format's changing. We were told, when CDs were being pushed early on, that they'd "last forever." You didn't have to worry, this was a permanent way to have your music -- forever!

Some will think, "Oh, you've got it forever!" You may have the discs forever. But most stereos today (for the home) do not come with record players. Anyone who had a problem (needles, the belt on the turntable) in the 90s is fully aware that when the format changes, it becomes very hard to maintain the equipment you play them on.

So that was the thought for tonight.

Tomorrow, I will either be blogging very late or I will blog on Thursday morning. Why? I don't want to be driving on Thanksgiving so I'll be heading out right after work. I'm already packed and my suitcase is in the trunk. So that's an FYI. I intend to blog on Friday. It may not be much, it may not be long, but I intend to.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts.

"Spoilers of the World Unite! ... Now!" (John V. Walsh, CounterPunch):
Let us start with the biggest lie of all, that the Democrats cannot end the war, are unable to do it, do not have the power to do it. Big, big, big lie. Bush is now asking for another $127 billion to "stay the course." If either the House or the Senate refuses to pass that request, the war cannot be prosecuted. It only requires a simple majority in one chamber ­ House or Senate. That is it. The power is there. In the face of this grammar school fact, it is amazing to hear the pundits prattle on about Bush being in charge, that it takes 60 votes to get things done in the Senate, etc., etc.
Let's take it one step further. Do the Democrats want to "stand up for the troops"? OK, let them hand Bush the McGovern bill or its like which provides funds only for the safe and speedy withdrawal of troops. That requires a simple majority in two Houses of Congress. Let Bush veto that. But do not expect the Democrats to take such a course. The election was rigged by Rahm Emanuel in favor of pro-war Democrats, and the beating which John Murtha took at the hands of Hoyer, Emanuel and others is evidence that the war party is firmly in control of Dem foreign policy and will do nothing to end the war. In fact Emanuel wants to raise at least 100,000 more troops.
An end to the war is what 60 per cent of the voters wanted in the election of 2006, and the desire for it grows by the day. What are we to do, then? Simple. We can work now on mounting a third party challenge to the Democrats in 2008. The platform of such a challenge would be simple. We are against war and the police state; these are the over-arching issues of the moment and we shall not compromise on them for any reason. The current test of these principles is Iraq. If all troops are out of Iraq by November, 2008, then our issue is gone and we cannot expect to win. If the U.S. remains in Iraq, then we may or may not win ­ but the Democrats will have to confront us; we may defeat them or we may spoil the election for them. But either way, we will be a force to be reckoned with.

I have no problem with Walsh suggestion. I already shared my thoughts that this is make it or break time for Democrats. They either deliver over the next two year or they admit that they have little to offer. Walsh goes through this in his piece (much better than I ever could) and I agree with it 100%. Voters didn't make time to vote just so the "car" could move to a different lane. They voted to turn the car around. If Democrats don't want to drive, I have no use for them. Among other things, that means troops home.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, November 21, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Syria, Iraq and,yes, Iran prepare for a weekend summit; US war resister
Agustin Aguayo's case lands in court; a new poll finds Shia and Sunnis in Iraq agreeing: US troops out of their country; and Kofi Annan sings a little Jimmy Cliff.
Starting with Agustin Aguayo. On September 2nd, Aguayo self-checked out of the US military after his repeated attempts to obtain conscientious objector status failed (2004), after his attempts to address the matter in the US federal courts failed (August 24, 2006) and while he was about to be sent back to Iraq. While serving in Iraq, as a medic, previously, Aguayo was confronted with the realities and
decided that, due to moral and religious reasons, he could not serve in the illegal war. Helga Aguayo, Agustin's wife, explained to Mimi Mohammed (Los Angelest Times): "My husband has never broken a law and I am proud of him. He doesn't want to support the war -- he cannot do so conscientisouly. He is a conscientious objector, but the Army forced him to become a resister." On September 26th, less than thirty days after self-checking out, Aguayo turned himself at Fort Irwin. Though Fort Irwin is in California, Aguayo's wife and two daughters were not allowed to see him and the military quickly sent him back overseas to Germany.
On yesterday's
The KPFA Evening News, Aaron Glantz reported on Aguayo's case which landed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. -- the first "for a federal court since 1971." Glantz spoke with Vietnam war resister and author David Cortright (Soldiers in Revolt: The American Military Today) and Cortright noted the similarities between then and now: the "transferring . . . to other bases" and the fact that such transfers put them in contact with "other soldiers who were opposed".
Kevin Dougherty (Stars and Stripes) reported that the court schedule for today would "considst of just oral arguments. Each side has been alotted 15 minutes to articulate their case." Today, Glantz reports (at OneWorld) on the above and notes Aguayo's beliefs: "By doing guard duty, appearing to be armed, even without bullets, I gave the false impression that I would kill if need be. I am not willing to live a lie to satisfy any deployment operation. By helping countless soldiers for 'sick-call' as well as driving soldiers around on patrols I helped them get physcially better and be able to go out and do the very thing I am against -- kill. This is something my conscience will not allow me to do."
Matt Apuzzo (AP) reports: "Judge A. Raymond Randolph, one of the three judges on the case, said he'd been reading up on the Vietnam appeals and asked how the case differs from those filed decades ago by people who realized their opposition to war only after receiving a draft card. Attorney Peter Goldberger said the Aguayo's beliefs evolved over time and 'crystalized' to the point that he could no longer take a life." Joel Seidman (NBC News) notes that "Aguayo has unsuccessfully fought the Pentagon for more than two years to be declared a conscientious objector and win a discharge."
In his court statement, Agustin notes: "And even if I truly had non-combatant status, I have been to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and I know what to expect. I know what will be expected of me. And because of this first-hand knowledge, I simply cannot take part in this deployment. Some people might think that a fear of death is the number one reason for refusing to deploy. But that is not correct. I have to be true to myself and do what is right. Even though I deployed as a non-combatant in 2004-05 I still carry guilt from my participation . . . When you know better you do better. Therefore, this time I will not deploy. My conscientious objection applies to all forms and aspects of war. . . I have come to believe and understand that the purpose of our existence on earth is to value, cherish and conserve the miracle that is human life. To do so one must show each and every day through actions that nothing is of greater importance than the conservation of life. . . . I have made my choice for peace, for humanity, and for a better tomorrow. Even though I understand that one of the consequences of refusing to deploy may possibly be a trial by court-martial and even my imprisonment, I cannot and will not deploy."
CNN reports: "A decoy vehicle used in a convoy of the Iraqi parlaiment speaker exploded Tuesday inside the heavily fortified Green Zone while parliament was in session, a parliament information officer said. The vehicle, part of Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani's convoy, was damaged when explosives placed under the rear right side of it exploded in a parking lot, the officer said. One of the drivers was slightly wounded."
Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad that left nine wounded and a car bomb in Baghdad that took one life and left six wounded.
A US raid in the Sadr City section of Baghdad resulted in deaths.
Xinhua notes this was the third day in a row that US and Iraqi forces had "raided the Shiite slum". An early AP report by Thomas Wagner cited Mohammed Ismail ("Police Capt.") who "said a young boy and two other people were killed in the early morning raid and 15 people were wounded. Several houses were damaged." The US military has claimed that they are after a "cell [which] has more than 30 members" which apparently includes the young boy? CNN notes that "a mother and her 8-month-old child" were also killed and puts the wounded at 18.
Bassem Mroue (AP) reports that Shi'ite legislator Saleh al-Ukailli held "the body of the dead child* outside the hospital morgue and angrily condemned Iraq's government for allowing such attacks" while vowing not to "return to parliament until the occupation troops leave the country." [*When this was Thomas Wagner's article, it made sense. If you use the link, a whole chunk of it is gone. Including the paragraph that was before, the one on Mohammed Ismail.]
Reuters notes the shooting death of a police officer in Hawija, the shooting death of of another police officer in Mosul, and the shooting death of "Ali al-Shimari, the mayor of the town of Hibhib, near Baquba".
CBS and AP report that 24 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and Dujail.
Reuters reports that the International Organisation for Migration has found (no surprise) that the at risk groups in Iraq of being left homeless and hungry are : "[s]ingle women, children and the old and sick" with "children . . . especially vulnerable to malnutrition and spread of disease." The United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that "at least 1.6 million Iraqis" are now displaced within Iraq.
This comes as the
United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reports: "Heavy rains, thunderstorms and enormous mudlsides in Iraq's northern Kurdish region have submerged vast areas and made nearly 3,000 families homeless, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) said on Tuesday."
For all the above and so much more, it should come as little surprise that the Iraqi people still want US forces out of their country.
Editor & Publisher notes the latest polling which "found that 74% of Shiites and 91$ of Sunnis in Iraq want us to leave within a year. The number of Shiites making this call in Baghdad where the U.S. may send more troops to bring order, is even higher (80%). In contrast, earlier this year, 57% of this same group backed an 'open-ended' U.S. stay." Of course, "earlier this year," was prior to the 'crackdown' that only increased the chaos and violence in Baghdad. From World Public Opinion's poll summary: "An analysis of two nationwide polls taken by World Public Opinion.org in Iraq over the past year reveals both a heightened sense of insecurity in Baghdad, which is suffering from a wave of shootings, kidnappings and bombings, and an increasing desire to place some time limit on the presence of foreign troops. Unlike Shias elsewhere, those living in the capital do not favor disarming the militias. Eight out of ten Shias in Baghdad (80%) say they want foreign forces to leave within a year (72% of Shias in the rest of the country), according to a poll conducted by World Public Opinion in September. None of the Shias polled in Baghdad want U.S.-led troops to be reduced only 'as the security situation improves,' a sharp decline from January, when 57 percent of the Shias polled by WPO in the capital city preferred an open-ended U.S presence."
Meanwhile, a summit is expected for this weekend. As
CNN notes, "Syria cut diplomatic ties with Iraq in 1982." They have restored ties and an summit is scheduled this weekend, in Tehran, for leadership from Iraq, Syria and Iran. CBS and AP note Hoshyar Zebari (Foreign Minister of Iraq) declared, "Iraq's flag will fly in the sky of Damascus and Syria's flag will fly in the sky of Baghdad." Jonathan Steele (Guardian of London) reports that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will meet with Bashar al-Assad (president of Syria) and Jalal Talabani (president of Iraq).
At the start of the month, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki, demonstrated that there was no freedom of the press (one of the points in the four-point 'plan' that the media avoided covering) by shutting down two television stations. As Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) reported, the crimes of Salahiddin and Zarwra was "showing the pro-Saddam demonstrations." And how's that working out for the puppet? Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the latter is back on air, in spite of al-Maliki: "Al-Zawraa's ability to broadcast round the clock in defiance of the government is yet another example of the increasing technological prowess of insurgents and their supporters." Now beamed in from Egypt, Mishaan al-Jubouri tells Allam, "When we were broadcasting in public from inside Iraq, we had to respect Iraqi law. But when the Iraqi government broke the law and closed the channel for no legitimate reason, they turned us into a channel that broadcasts in secrecy."
So the puppet can't improve things. Can anyone?

Seems like I've
been sleeping in
your bed too
Seems like you've
been meaning to
do me harm
But I'll teach my
eyes to see
Beyond these
walls in front of
Someday I'll walk
out of here again
Someday I'll walk
out of here again
Ooh yeah
Ooh Yeah
Ooh Yeah
Ooh Yeah

Who knew Kofi Annan (UN Secretary General) was a Jimmy Cliff fan? He might as well have been singing Jimmy Cliff's song when asked today what he thought of Tony Blair's agreement to the description of "disaster" applied to Iraq?
Kofi Annan: The US in a way is trapped in Iraq, trapped in the sense that it cannot stay and it cannot leave. There are those who maintain that its presence is a problem, and there are those who say that if they leave precipitously, the situation would get worse, and that they should stay on to help calm and stabilize the situation before they leave. I think the US obviously will have to think through this very, very carefully, but the timing of its departure will have to be optimal in the sense that it should not lead to further deterioration of the situation but try and get it into a level that when it leaves, when it withdraws, the Iraqis themselves will be able to continue to maintain a situation that would ensure a reasonable secure environment.
Meanwhile, in legal news from the United States, the
Pendleton Eight is now four-to-four. The eight (one sailor, seven marines) are accused in the April 26th death of Iraqi Hashim Ibrhaim Awad in Hamdania. They are alleged to have kidnapped him from his home (when, supposedly, they couldn't find the person they -- not the military, they -- were after), killing him and then attempting to paint the grandfather as an "insurgent." AP reports that Jerry E. Shumate Jr. "has agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges . . . of aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice". Mark Walker (North County Times) notes that the other three to plead guilty Tyler Jackson, John Jodka III and Melson Bacos. The remaining four are Lawrence G. Hutchins III, Trent D. Thomas and Marshall L. Magincalda.
Also in the US,
Eric Lichtblau and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times) report on "an anti-terrorist database used by the Defense Department" that was used to track and spy on peace "meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations".
Mike noted yesterday (Mikey Likes It!), WBAI's Law and Disorder is doing a four-part series on the police state and, in the most recent installment, they spoke with Konstanty Hordynski of Students Against the War (UC Santa Cruz) whose group was among those spied on by the government. The illegal spying hasn't stopped others from speaking out against the war (or stopped Hordynski or Students Against the War). David H. Price (CounterPunch) reports on the most recent group to approve "resolutions condemning the occupation of Iraq and the use of torture": the American Anthropological Association.
As the calls for the war to end increase all over the world, the dangerous at any location, Bully Boy was in Hawaii today.
CNN notes that "three poplice motorcycles excorting his motorcade crashed on slick pavement and rolled onto a grassy median" -- one is in serious condition, one in stable condition and no word on the third. Wait, there's more. AP reports that Greg Pitts ("acting director of the White House Travel Office") left Bobby G's Dance Club (Waikiki) at two a.m. (just when the Tru Rebels were winding down) and "was robbed and beaten". Dawg House and Coconut Willie's are so close by. But they do have the Monday night jello shots for a buck.
Turning to news of passings. The
BBC reports on the funeral for Walid Hassan, sketch comedy star of the Iraqi TV show Caricature, who was shot dead Monday in Baghdad: "Mr Hassan's coffin was tied to the top of a taxi for the 160km (100 mile) journey from Baghdad to the Shia holy city of Najaf." Meanwhile director Robert Altman (Nashville, M*A*S*H, Short Cuts, The Player, Gosford Park, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye, and more) passed away Monday. The 81-year-old Altman was a vocal opponent of the illegal war singing on to the Not In Our Name petition in the fall of 2002 and continuing to speak his mind including while up for an Oscar (Best Director) for Gosford Park in 2003 when he stated "This present government in America I just find disgusting, the idea that George Bush could run a baseball team successfully -- he can't even speak!"

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