Monday, February 21, 2005

The Doctor is Out.

Well it truly is a sad day for me, and many others out there, my friends.

The Godfather of Gonzo, the Jester of Journalism, the man who inspired me to write, to get tattooed, to question authority with gusto, to drive home the heavy handed questions, to attack those bastards in power and make them answer to the flames, to get a degree in journalism, has left this world and entered a new one.

I only hope the devil is ready for him.

Yes, it is sad but true, Hunter S. Thompson has left the scene in a blaze of self-induced glory, the likes we have not seen since, well Kurt Cobain. Of course, it is my speculation that it was not Cobain who Thompson felt akin to. I beleive it was Hemingway who made that violent and terrible impact.

Now, I am not one to condone suicide. I have written about this before. I feel it is gross and terrible. But I have, many times actually, toyed with the idea of doing just what the good Doctor did. Very recently in fact. Suicide, in all it's horror, is a beautiful thought. A way out. A end to the pain that is this life. I believe wholeheartedly that suicide provides the last comfort, the worst option, to those times in which we cannot see the horison because of how deep we are in the water. But it is one of the most selfish acts one could do. It destroys the poeple around you, leaving them to deal with you and all that you left unfinished and left behind. So Once again, let me repeat, I do not condone suicide. It is wrong. But I can see it's value in this society. In fact, there are a good many days where suicide seems the only logical conclusion in the world we live in. Landslides, volcanoes, tsunamis, war, greed and the state of the human condition in the modern day and age are all easily influential on whether we want ot keep moving or not. But it is odd that a man like Thompson, who openly discussed his multiple lives, his aversion to death (but coming so very close) would just up and take his life, just like that. It does not follow in his footsteps. But on the other hand, he was also a man who would not be told how to live. He was his own person right down to the core. Maybe there was that voice that simply told him that he was finished here. That he had better places to be. Better adventures elswhere.
Or maybe it was something very, very different. As we all know from Thompson's writings, he has never spoken much about relationships. He has never been one to speak about about the condition of love. While he was a genius in his own right, and exposed America's worst elements in bright glorious light (and repulsive dark) he never really openly discussed one of the most important aspects of life: love. He casually mentions his relationships in passing, as a side note really, but never, not once, in all of the writings I have read of his, has he mentioned the notions of love. Maybe, just maybe, this one topic, this unspoken element of Thompson's life carried the most weight. Maybe this was what drove one of the most brilliant writers of our lifetime, to load up a shotgun and end his life.

So it is with a grain of deepest sincerity for me to ask simply,

"Why Hunter?"

What would provoke you to do such a horrifically permanent thing? What would cause you to put that heavy bullet into your head?

We may never know. It may be none of our business. However, we can always speculate. We can always ask questions. We can always seek the deeper truth that exists. In fact, I believe it would be a disservice to Hunter if we did not ask what caused this act.

This is purely speculation, but something that I can only feel would be a stong enough motive for hunter to finalize the agreement with Life. Maybe it was Love which was at the root of his death. While I know absolutely nothign of Thompson's life, except through his writings, of which I have read nearly everything, I do one thing about suicide: There is no other force behind it as strong as love. There is no other thing that can build a man up so quickly and destroy him just the same. Love, my friends, is the ultimate emotion. It is the ultimate creator of worlds and the ultimate destroyer.

And so I go to bed now with the hope that this matter will be looked at. Maybe Hunter left a note. Maybe not. Right now, peace be with his family. Let them grieve. Give them all the time they deserve and require. But someday (in the near future, hopefully), they will give us, the soldiers who were led by this crazy brilliant Master some closure. Something. The credits have begun to roll and the movie has not finished. I believe it is his family who holds the key to the question "why" and I wait patiently for their words.

Of course, this might be the reason Thompson did it this way afterall...maybe it was just his time to fly, and he's sipping Rum and smoking a wonderful spliff and chuckling softly at his final prank. No doubt he knew we'll be talking about him until the end of time.

Hunter, may you find the peace in death that you could never find in life. And thank you for all that you have written. Finally, thank you for teaching me that Truth must always be the source for which we exist. Even if that Truth is a bloody dagger held by a double-thumbed fist...

Cazart You Billiant Old Bastard. You will be missed.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Our Own Prophecies.

Technology is a drug.

We can't get enough of it.

We feed it to our kids and watch them grow on a forced diet of desensitization. Switch on the TV and someone will tell you 50,000 people died in India. Two seconds later you're watching a comedy. Technology can do that. It gives us simulated realities that make us oblvious to the real world. Heroin does the same thing. So do most class A drugs. Basically we are all addicts--addicted to the comfort and conveniance that technology provides--addicted to the notion that progress is directly related to the size of your computer screen. Of course it is. We must be right. We come from the developed world. We're already developed. Sure. Then again, wealthy kids in America shoot each other. Poor kids in Soweto can't stop smiling.

So who's developed?

I met an Aborigine in Arnhemland, Austrilia--his nephews showed me symbols where I saw trees and rainbows through smoked glass. They could see fish through clouded water. I couldnt even see my own reflection. I must have forgotten how.

When I look in front of me, I see two paths--spiritual or material. Two worlds--developed or developing. You decide which is which. We're still in the wake of millennium paranoia--earthquakes, floods, end of the world scenarios, cult suicides, viral diseases that eat into our computer realities. This is our developed world.

Then, as Nelson Mandela says "We are free to be free."

I guess we make our own prophecies.

--Nitin Sawhney, March 2001

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your sorrow, if you have been opened up by life’s betrayals, or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstacy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.
I want to know if you can be faithful, and therefore be trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day. I want to know if can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver moon, “I can and will.”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up from grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself. And if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
It doesn’t interest me to know who you are or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back…

Bob Kaufman, poet.


Should I sing a requiem, as the trap closes?
Perhaps it is more fitting to shout nonsense.

Should I run to the streets, screaming lovesongs?
Perhaps it is more consistent to honk obscenities.

Should I chew my fingernails down to my wrist?
Perhaps it is better to blow eternal jazz.

Maybe I will fold the wind into neat squares.

-Bob Kaufman

To be Frank...

Question: It seems that for most people that kind of isolation would lead to loneliness.

Frank Zappa: Try to imagine what the opposite of loneliness is. Think of it. Everyone in the world loves you? What is that? Realize that your'e in isolation. Live it! Enjoy it! Just be glad that there arent a bunch of people who want to use up your time. BEcause along with all the love and admiration that's going to come from the people that would keep you from being lonely, there is the emotional freight you have to bear from people who are wasting your time, and you can't get that back. So when you're lonely and youre all by yourself, guess what you have? You have all your own time. That's a pretty fucking good deal. Something you couldnt buy any place else. And every time youre out being sociable and having other people be "nice" to you, then they want something from you. And they've already taken your time! Loneliness, once youve come to deal with it so that it is not an uncomfortable sensation, so it doesnt feel like drowning or something, is not a bad deal. It's a good deal. It's the next best thing to solitude. I'm not talking solitary confinement. Solitude. If you're sensitive to loneliness, youre going to be in trouble, because then the lonliness turns into something really painful, a horrible depression and then you die. One way or another, you just die. So who needs that shit?

Greasing the Media Machine

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse columnist
May 06, 2004

It seems to me that large-scale media have abandoned objectivity in the form of half-truths. The function of the media have become nothing more than a megaphone for politicians and businesses.

Here's a fine example: On April 29, the president of the United States, alongside the vice president, faced the 9-11 Commission for more than three hours behind the closed doors of the Oval Office. After the meeting with the commission, the president walked into the Rose Garden and made the smiling announcement that he "answered every question that they asked," just like a good president would. No one involved in major media really questioned this except for fringe Internet sites and left-wing opponents of the Bush administration.

Since his testimony was not recorded because he was not sworn in, and since nobody was able to hear anything that went on, how does anyone know if there were any questions asked at all? What were some of these questions? Nobody knows except the 9-11 Commission, Bush and Cheney. For all we know, they could have been playing Nintendo GameCube that entire time. The world will never know.

We do know the 9-11 Commission was appointed to investigate the attacks of Sept. 11. And part of an investigation is to ask tough questions. I watched the public hearings. There were no tough questions and no shining answers. Just practiced press-release phrases and boring details about how bureaucracy works. And afterward, there were no vibrant in-depth looks or analysis of the events by American media -- except once again, fringe Internet sites. I've been searching for good information using strong sources for this column for a week, and I've come up with nothing, except from, that's right, fringe Internet sites and whacko conspiracists. The mainstream media are buttoned up like a straight jacket.

But since I am a twig on the massive media tree, these are some questions that I feel are important, that I would ask Bush: Why weren't fighter planes scrambled immediately upon seeing flights moving off course all heading in the same direction? Why were you in Florida reading books to children when the nation was being attacked? How did the Pentagon get hit? What the hell does Iraq have to do with Sept. 11? What the hell is wrong with you?

OK, so maybe I shouldn't be on the 9-11 Commission.

But the people who are on this commission shouldn't be on there, either. According to the official Web site,, this committee is an "independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush." What? Seriously? Yes. The 9-11 Commission was created by our president. In my mind, this is the equivalent to Charles Manson getting to pick his jury. The media were all over that one -- if you are referring to fringe Internet sites, that is.

So, what about this committee? Has any news program given an in-depth look at anyone on this board? I've yet to see it. I'll bet most of you out there couldn't tell me the names of anyone on this thing.

I'll tell you two names that concern me the most: Thomas Kean and Philip Zelikow. Here's why: Kean, chairman of the 9-11 Commission, is a former New Jersey governor and, according to Fortune magazine, has business ties to the bin Laden family. Hmm, that's interesting. Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9-11 Commission, is a former aide to the national security adviser under the first Bush administration. After leaving the White House, he wrote a book with Condoleezza Rice called, "Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft." A month after Sept. 11, Bush Jr. appointed Zelikow to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Nice.

It seems to me that these two people pose a conflict of interest. It seems to me that this 9-11 Commission is nothing more than a charade, a Wizard of Oz-type distraction, to keep us from seeing the man behind the curtain. By having an "official" committee doing this investigation, it quells the skeptics. "Well, we did an investigation, son," the Bush administration will say. And the media will nod and wag their tails like the lapdogs they are.

In an honest world, this commission would not be made up of key political figures with connections to those who are being investigated. It would be comprised of an amalgamation of various thinkers from multiple backgrounds, disciplines, and perhaps, even multiple nations. Oh, and Bush would not get to pick them. And if you really wanted to make things interesting, you would have relatives of the Sept. 11 victims on the committee.

Will the non-fringe media ever come to this conclusion? I doubt it. Their job is to report exactly what they are told. Keep up the good work guys.

Mercy before Justice

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse columnist
May 20, 2004

In these days of destruction, in this era of aggression and revenge, it has become plain to me that we need a new way of thinking. We need what Ken Kesey called a "revolution of consciousness."

"We've got to be mature enough to incorporate everyone into this revolution," Kesey wrote. "Its basis is mercy and justice, and mercy before justice."

This should be its mantra: Mercy before justice.

We've come a long way as humans, but once again, like so many times in the past, we are in jeopardy. We are bordering on killing the whole damn planet -- wiping everything out: people and environment. We're working on another world war, kids, and like the saying goes, the third time's the charm.

If this happens, there won't be a World War Four.

We hold the keys to this careening car of destiny, each and every single one of us. And while we are led to believe our leaders are in charge and everything is up to them, it's not. We all choose war or peace. We all choose joy or misery. We all choose revenge or forgiveness. Our leaders sign the checks, but we write 'em.

There is plenty of hatred and anger going around these days, and not just in the Middle East. Here in the United States there is plenty of in-fighting. Just take a look at our political process.

We've got two parties, Democrats and Republicans. (Sorry, Independents, this is the sad truth.) Both sides believe in the rules of the game. They each have a creed, a side, and neither one of them will budge if it means sacrificing their self-induced dogmatic ideal. They'd rather escalate the fury than calm down and take a moment to just simply listen to what the other guy has to say. No one backs down, even if they're wrong. They just move further from the common ground toward the extremes of partisanship. And these days, the poles are shifting further and further to one side or the other. The tug of war is getting so strong the rope is going to snap. This is not good.

We need a common ground here where beliefs aren't held in front of ideas and emotions aren't imprisoning logic. I say, erase the parties. Of course, the followers who live in this world will torch me. They're going to call me crazy. And maybe I am, but I am tired of the violence. I am tired of the rage. And I am ready for change.

The anger has been mounting for some time now, but it wasn't until Sept. 11 that things really got out of control. The whole nation has been foaming at the mouth, fevered and ready to kill over what happened to us. And now we're shocked when we see pictures of our soldiers torturing the enemy. Get real folks, this is war. This is reality television. This is what happens behind closed doors. This is what it comes down to. This is what you get when anger rules. This is what revenge looks like.

This year our choice for president is either a smirking jackal or a sneaky jackal. Neither have expressed any honest feelings about awareness. Neither are worthy of leading us. We're in a lose-lose situation. We aren't getting any enlightenment from these people. There'll be no consciousness expansion here. There'll be no peace here. There'll be no unity here.

We've got to look someplace else. We have to find the enlightenment and higher ground elsewhere, before it's too late. And I'm not talking about looking for a leader. I'm talking about looking inside. That's the only place we're going to find it. If not, we're doomed.

The motto of Kesey's Pranksters is "Nothing lasts." I find hope in this idea, because without it, it would be hard to justify our violent existence. If nothing lasts, I like to think that violence won't either. But the question is, will we end along with it?

The Jazz Temple

It's these places that the real source of humanity exists. It's these dark and humid rooms, halls, bars and garages that people will see that it's still okay to be alive. To know that the sickness that persuades people to do evil things with their minds and bodies can be forgiven and that inner peace will be found again. The horrors of our modern America exist elsewhere. This is a place of music. This is a hall of sound.

These musicians who stand on their soapbox in a significant circle lay out the real truth. Music is the only truth. No matter what people try and do, music will never lie. It will never mislead. It will never die. It exists without us, amongst us, in every breeze, in every sunset, in the birds, in the ocean and in the mountains. It is everywhere. It has a will of its own.

The outside of this place will be in stark opposition. People around, frightening. Thoughts, terrible. Actions, disgusting. Killing, raping, stealing, hurting, shoving, lying. The Ten Commandments sacrificed on any given street corner, in any given home, at any given time, somewhere. But not here. This is a holy ground. Not in any religious sense, but a spiritual sense, if you will. A room, a simple room with people playing music that speaks in the universal tongue. Expressing pain, excitement, joy, anguish, sadness, and pleasure. Talking in a way that any man, woman or child can hear and complete with their own minds and souls.

It does not impose fear, no, this is the heart of freedom, this jazz, this rock, this funk, this blues. This spilling from the instruments. Tonight it is a saxophone. Alongside that, it could be drums and guitar. Across the stage maybe a bass and a violin. These players, all of them, any of them, are helping us out here. They are helping us become one mind, for maybe a short interval, a song duration, a tempo change, but there it is. Nothing mind-boggling. Nothing complex. This is simply music.

Here I sit no longer paining myself over events that have taken place in the past. It's stupid to let any war, any drunk, any rainy day, any conflicting interests, or any one person make me feel any sort of mental distress. No, tonight I will choose to listen on my own. Away from everyone, in the corner, if that is what it takes, with a smile on my face, no longer accepting judgment or dishing it out, however hard that is. I can only place the jazz in my head and convert it to energy to use to gain strength from the small things that may just come to mean nothing.

I'm trying to empty the sickness, expel the misery. I clear my head at these dark nightclubs of bleeding jazz and roiling blues, and these little things, the notes, they make me remember who I am.

Sometimes I forget that I love nothing more completely than music until I hear it again as it fills me up and flows from me. It is a sacred and personal peace. And I will remain with it, as it will with me, until I die.

The saxophone line is swirling in my head again ... the guitar is coming in over the top, doubling the sax in fourths, the violin plays a tremolo pitch that is so eerie and bohemian, perfect as the drummer belts out a driving backbone of 7/8 time, behind that the bassist is grinding away with a bow, creating this lulling swing gypsy rhythm that has placed me near the fifth sun, the place I have come to recognize is the final resting place of the soul, the last stop before we forge into new material, that place that makes us realize we still have a long way to go.

And you can see it burning red now and you can feel the music lifting you up past the fence of your dumb awareness so that you can get a glimpse of it, the music pushing you higher and higher, until it has hit its peak, extended its grasp, and you are almost crying, because you know there will be a time when you will no longer be able to know this music, where all earthly connections will be lost, except possibly faded strange memories, and you will know this is true right before you reach up and touch the sun, for the last and only time, as it falls underneath like the last notes of that powerfully transcendent hypnotic melody that these simple humans have created, right there in front of you.

Jon Stewart is my president.

Reasoning with madness

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse columnist
January 15, 2004

With the presidential election looming, it's safe to assume that we will have someone running our country into the ground again. Whether it's George W. Bush or some other smirking fool remains to be seen.

Bush doesn't seem too fazed by all the bashing and cursing of the American people or the Democratic Party. He is either gearing up for his trip to Mars or too busy planning an overhaul of the election process again.

After all, someone has to start sorting out which multi-national corporation is going to back a third party that will split the Democratic vote. But given the current state of the Democratic candidates, that third-party plan might not even need to take shape.

With the Democratic candidates looking less like presidential hopefuls and more like angry monkeys throwing feces at each other, it's really not a stretch to say that King George will reign for another four years. If the Democrats were smart--and it's slowly starting to show that they are not--they would do the right thing: use the lesson learned in the farce and infotainment extravaganza that was last year's California recall and bring in celebrity politicians, or more accurately, "celebiticians."

Sure, it might have sounded strange just last year to think this, but if you think back, celebrities have filled political positions many times in our recent past. Sonny Bono, Jesse "the Body" Ventura and Ronald Reagan were all in the limelight before they ever saw their name gleaming on a ballot. And really, if Arnold Schwarzenegger can be a governor, this whole political thing can't be that difficult.

Setting up a proper environment, one that will enable the celebitician to thrive, is the only thing that needs to be done. There are rules to this process, after all.

First, the political hopeful can't be a porn star, a midget or a watermelon-smashing comedian. This was the hidden lesson learned from the California election.

Second, the celebrity must be famous today, not someone the world has forgotten. For instance, Burt Reynolds, Tony Danza or anyone from the cast of "Saved by the Bell" won't work. You need someone who is either in a current blockbuster summer action movie or frequents grocery store magazine covers. For example, Ben Affleck might work because every man, woman and child in America knows who he is. But he's not right for public office. He's got far too much to worry about with keeping J.Lo out of bad movies (so far he's 0 for 2).

Third, the celebitician must have the suave persona that Americans cherish; someone that can lie to us with authority and vigor.

And finally, if nothing else was learned from the California recall, one lesson remains: politics are a joke. Anyone who says otherwise is most likely a politician.

With these rules in mind, and with great consideration, the only person that seems to clearly stand out for the position of Democratic presidential hopeful is none other than Jon Stewart, host of "The Daily Show." He fits all the criteria of celebitician: He is in our short-sighted collective unconscious, he's been on magazine covers and he's not a porn star. The man's wit knows no end, which tames the final criteria of being a politician: being able to make us laugh.

Surely, the argument is beginning to form in your head. You may be asking yourself, "What other credentials does this man have?" The answer is simple: none. He has no presidential credentials. But did Schwarzenegger? No. All he needed was to spout off lines from his movies, and he won with a landslide.

If Jon Stewart told a few jokes each time he stood behind a podium, that would be all he would need. Make a few empty promises and finish with a punch line. In a debate, Stewart would knock Bush around like a shoe in a dryer. The crowd would roar and rush to the ballot booths. George W. Bush wouldn't stand a chance.

After Stewart is elected, his Cabinet might consist of such names as Bill Maher starring as vice president, Martin Sheen as secretary of state, Robert DeNiro as attorney general, Nicole Kidman as secretary of education and The Rock as secretary of defense.

This is not to say that the new Democratic rule would be a success in terms of the economy, medical benefits or education, but this country has seen worse. At least with an all-star cast running the country, politics might be interesting enough for the average American to wake up and care.

Skerik's Syncopated Taint

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse Columnist
February 19, 2004

Punk is usually the last thing most people think of when it comes to jazz. But like Bob Dylan said: "The times, they are a changin'." Punk-jazz is becoming a way of life for musicians and fans who are sick of the mundane and ordinary. One saxophone player from Seattle is touring the country to bring this new sound to the ears of every man, woman and child he can. He goes by the name of Skerik, and to the uninitiated, pay attention: Here is the a story of an up-and-coming musical revolutionary.

"Punk-jazz is more of an attitude than a sonic description," Skerik said. "The punk sound of the '90s has been used and abused and commercialized. When I think of punk, I think of (Minutemen bassist) Mike Watt -- you know, integrity, honesty. It's not motivated by a corporation. It's direct honesty at a personal expense."

These personal expenses come at a price. Skerik said he has actually lost thousands of dollars on his current tour, adding that music education has also suffered since the 1980s with government cuts to artistic programs nationwide. "America has been destroying art in this society," Skerik said. "Of all professional endeavors, musicians are the lowest paid and the least respected."

Skerik added that the key to changing this is to get rid of misconceptions about what music is and where it should be heard.

"You have to connect with people," he said. "You have to make art accessible. You should be able to enjoy art.

"That's why we play places like Oklahoma, and not just (cities) like Seattle or L.A. or New York. Your cultural experience in life can't be the record section in Wal-Mart."

Skerik grew up in Seattle and played in jazz ensemble and orchestra in school, as well as in a rock band during his spare time. During the 1980s, Skerik left home to pursue his career as a musician, playing in bands all over the world in places such as London, Paris and the South Pacific. The styles of music he played included blues, rock, jazz, Caribbean and African music. He returned to Seattle during the late 1980s and started the sax-drum-bass trio, Sadhappy. Later, he began the band Critters Buggin.

Skerik's approach to music has garnered him a great deal of praise from musicians and fans.

"He has a no-holds-barred (style that) combines everything he's learned to (create something) without fear of what other people think," said Tim McLaughlin, a trumpet player and leader of the local band Eleven Eyes.

McLaughlin's band will open for Skerik and his Seattle-based group Syncopated Taint Septet this Saturday at WOW Hall, located at 291 West Eighth Ave. Doors open at 8 p.m. and showtime is 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or at the door.

WOW Hall Publicist Bob Fennessy described his experience seeing Skerik.

"I saw Skerik perform here (at WOW Hall) when he was in Critters Buggin. He's a flamboyant player who uses a lot of effects to distort the sound of his saxophone," he said.

Skerik has made a name for himself playing with some of the most cutting-edge and innovative performers in postmodern America. His presence became otherworldly in the band Critters Buggin, an avant-garde punk-jazz tribal-electronic fusion group. Since then, Skerik has performed in several bands, including Garage a Trois and Les Claypool's Flying Frog Brigade. He's also played alongside legends such as Roger Waters, Galactic, John Scofield, Medeski Martin & Wood, DJ Logic, Robert Walters and Fred Wesley. Rolling Stone magazine has called him "jazz's best kept secret."

The Syncopated Taint Septet consists of seven all-star musicians from Seattle. The lineup includes Craig Flory on baritone saxophone, Joe Doria on Hammond organ, John Wicks on drums, Dave Carter on trumpet, Hans Teuber on alto saxophone and flute, Steve Moore on trombone and Wurlitzer electric piano, and, of course, Skerik on tenor and baritone saxophone.

"We have about 50 compositions (written) for seven musicians, five (of which are) horns," Skerik said.

Although the songs are rehearsed and written, Skerik said, they are also reactionary and firmly based in improvisation. He added that if the crowd is sitting and quiet, the band will play more tunes that are more ambient and subdued. But if the crowd is lively, the band will rock the house.

Pee your pants.

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse Columnist
April 08, 2004

From the first page, I was laughing out loud. Halfway through the book, I fell backwards and hit my head laughing so hard. By the time I finished the book, I think I wet myself and almost had a stroke.

The dangerously hysterical book I was reading is "My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable" by David Rees.

Rees' book is a collection of comics made up of clip art and simplistic, almost pathetic graphics of generic office workers dealing with the mundane tasks of mandatory team-spirit meetings, motto makers, quarterly estimate reports and ultimately, filing techniques. The characters in "Filing Technique" curse profusely, backstab, drink, cheat and sometimes even turn invisible to make their way through the day. If readers have worked in any office setting at all, they will relate to the absurdity of "Filing Technique." Even if you haven't, this book is one of the funniest you'll probably ever read.

The book has no laugh cues, no punchlines, no set-ups -- it just rolls. You determine what's funny and when you should laugh. And quite honestly, it's nearly impossible to go an entire page without spraying tea through your nose. (So, clearly, avoid tea while reading this book.)

What makes this collection so hilarious is partially the well-placed obscenity sprinkled throughout the book. But what really gets the reader is the unpredictable nature of the cursing. It would spoil the fun to describe these surprising moments too much, but I will say that one strip, in which a character goes into "triangle body mode," is what made me wet myself.

"Filing Technique" is written with a sarcasm that, like the title of the book, is unstoppable. It is raw, unforgiving and ferocious. It is guerrilla "Dilbert" and "Office Space" squared. It is a judo chop to the neck of large corporate business. It is a pirate flag for cubicle workers across the globe.

And ultimately, it is a hysterical commentary on what America has become: a miserable and soulsucking journey to thicken the bottom line. It is a dark truth brought into the light in a way that makes this reality almost tolerable. "Filing Technique" is the court jester mocking the king.

The author, David Rees, has made a name of himself with his cult-hit clip-art comics, starting with "Get Your War On," which now appears in every issue of Rolling Stone magazine. The original "Get Your War On" became a national bestseller,and all royalties made from this comic are donated to the Adopt-a-Minefield charity, which is a program of the United Nations that raises money to clear mines worldwide, helping landmine survivors and raising awareness of the landmine problem.

Rees' original version of "Filing Technique" was self-published with the help of a stapler and copy machine. The current version, available through Penguin publishers and Rees' Web site,, was completely rewritten and full of new material.

Hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., Rees also plays in the band the Skeleton Killers and works occasional temp jobs.

April Fools Day.

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse columnist
April 01, 2004

Keeping up with the ever-changing world of entertainment can be difficult. So, for brevity's sake, here are the top ten headlines in the music world this week:

1. Dashboard Confessional is holding a seminar tomorrow on being "emo." The conference, held in singer Chris Carrabba's basement, will teach anyone who is interested in expressing their inner confusion, turmoil and breakup misery how to do so properly. Some of the highlights include: Finding that perfect black skin-tight T-shirt that truly expresses your inexpressible pain, how to steal your dad's horn-rimmed glasses and learning the best words that rhyme with "hurt" so that you can strum sad songs on your acoustic guitar for that girl or boy who just dumped your sad ass.

2. In August, Korn will be releasing a "Best Of" album, featuring an unreleased track called "Anger." The song, glorified by fans through KaZaA, has lead singer Jonathan Davis breaking wind for a miraculous 12 minutes and 36 seconds while the rest of the band punches and kicks their instruments around the studio.

3. Nickelback has canceled its tour due to the fact that the band sucks.

4. This week, Tupac Shakur releases yet another album from the grave entitled "Zombie Christ." Guests on the album include Kurt Cobain, Marvin Gaye and Elvis Presley. Shakur's publicist denies that the album was recorded recently in a secret underground complex in New Mexico, but eyewitnesses from the region report seeing the four "dead" stars traveling in a Dodge minivan with sunglasses on.

5. Courtney Love was found in a hotel room Monday night doing coke off the stomach of The Darkness bassist Frankie Poullain. When asked about the incident, Poullain replied, "Livin' the dream, man. Livin' the dream." Love simply stated, "bleehssfhcchthmppchhsshh..." and then tripped and fell into a puddle of mud.

6. Speaking of which, Puddle of Mudd is set to release a new album with singer Wesley Scantlin breaking wind into a microphone for a whopping 13 minutes and 12 seconds, while the rest of the band punches and kicks their instruments around the studio. When asked if they were ripping off the song by Korn, Scantlin replied, "I'm allergic to corn. I only eat meat." The reporter's head then melted.

7. Last night, American Idol star Clay Aiken was seen leaving a Holiday Inn in Los Angeles with 14 strippers, a live chicken and 18 pounds of hash. When Aiken was asked about the situation, he smiled widely, looked far out into space, and said, "This is what being an idol is all about."

8. The Strokes lead singer Julian Casablanca ironically died of a massive stroke Monday night while writing a song called, "Maybe this is it."

9. Following the recent trend of same-sex marriages, Britney Spears on Tuesday married Madonna in Hollywood, Calif. When asked if this was just a publicity stunt, Spears quickly said, "No way. Ever since that kiss at the awards show, I've been in love with her. There is nothing false about this whatsoever." Madonna declined to comment, but in an unrelated story she has gone into the studio to record a new album of Pepsi jingles.

10. After another "wardrobe malfunction" during a recent taping Monday for "The Tonight Show," Janet Jackson gave up on music and decided that the porn industry is far more lucrative.

That's your entertainment news for the week of April Fools' Day. Bitch.

Kill Your TV.

Reasoning With Madness

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse Columnist
November 20, 2003

This week I am writing to my fellow soldiers, the writers. The ones who spend so much time clicking away at the keys, trying to make sense of the world using the simplest method of all.

I'm not just talking to the professionals or the people who get paid to write, I'm talking to anyone who writes -- be it the ones who write poems, essays, love letters, songs or press statements.

I've taken my fair share of writing classes -- the ones that teach about the bare bones of technical jargon, subject-verb agreement, dependent clauses and fragmented phrases. Those ideas and tools are useful, no doubt. But what I'm interested in is the soul of writing.

You see, I have been thinking about the whole notion of writing lately, its effects on life, its message, reasoning, cause and purpose. For most of us (or them, depending on whose side you're on), the written word has taken a back seat to the stale images and placid content of moving colors in succession (in other words, television) and I have to say, that is rocking me.

Writing seems to stir the dark corners of the mind and heart and sometimes makes us feel sad, terrible, raw and spent. When I think of writing, my blood pressure starts rising, the heart starts palpitating, my muscles tense up and I want to get it over with. Sometimes it tears me down. But in that process, a new form takes shape within me. One that is stronger, more fluid and easily able to cope and understand. It relates to what psychologist Carl Jung calls the Shadow. Loosely defined, these are the things we pack away: the unconscious that we don't like to share with others, or even accept ourselves.

Jung once wrote, "Nothing is so apt to challenge our self-awareness and alertness as being at war with oneself. One can hardly think of any other or more effective means of waking humanity out of the irresponsible and innocent half-sleep of the primitive mentality and bringing it to a state of conscious responsibility."

I like to think I relish in the art of challenge. I write. I collapse. I begin again. I live in my shadow quite often and let it envelope me. I thrive on it, because it makes me stronger.

If more people tapped their inner resources, we may all be a little better off. We might just find that we care every now and then. Jung also noted the Shadow follows us all. Personally, I'm just beginning to recognize it, study and embrace it. But don't be afraid of it like so many others.

Forget what society tells you and write what challenges you, what scares you, and what you lock away. This is the key to explosive and powerful writing. Yet many people will never accept this. They will tell you to write what everyone else wants to hear. "Write for the audience," the stale professor says. These people are simple goons who will go to the grave having contributed nothing. Pass them like a swerving old man on the freeway.

Most importantly: Read, damn it, READ! With every book you ingest, your writing will get sharper, more accurate, stronger and deeper. Trust me -- mine has. I hated reading when I was younger (except comic books, of course). Now I can't stop. I read like 2 to 5 books a week, no joke.

Start reading things you really like. Eventually, you'll find yourself reading anything you can get your hands on. I tell you what, books are my sanctuary because they let me get my head straight (or out of it sometimes). They teach me things, they inspire me, and they put life in perspective like nothing else in the world can, except for exotic or exceptional life experiences, which are few and far between.

For me, it's all about the written word. Learn to love it, or forget being a writer. If you can't enjoy a good book or learn to crap on the bad ones, you won't ever leave the hack phase.

Oh, and one last thing: Stop watching television. It really does rot your brain and give you sick ideas about how life should work. It's just a commercial projector. Nothing more. The entertainment function has been lost somewhere between the Subway and Old Navy ads. It's used for brainwashing and programming. It's rotting America's soul every waking minute, making us consumers, making us victims and addicts who are stupid and cranky. It is the perfect drug indeed. What other way can you describe it? What other device has the potential to make us sit for hours on end doing nothing, saying nothing, thinking nothing and never once stepping outside to see the sun? Television. Plain and simple. Burn it to the ground and write something. You gotta start somewhere.

Six String Meditation

Carl Sundberg
Reasoning with madness
October 23, 2003

These past couple weeks have been a grinding, draining bore. Between work, school, homework and the demands of everyday life, I have not had much time to do what I enjoy the most: play guitar. In this world, joy becomes peace and life without peace is pointless.

Saturday morning, I decided the daily grind would come to end. I woke up around 10 a.m. and headed downstairs into my basement where my Les Paul and Fender amp awaited patiently to be awakened.

I clicked on the amp, turned on the effects pedals, threw the guitar over my shoulder and strummed a magnificent, monstrous G chord.

Transcendence began.

For what felt like a split second, I played my guitar loud and unforgiving. Distortion shook the walls and riffs shattered the silence of morning. The notes began to increase their rhythmic motion until I lost myself in a constantly shifting pattern of arpeggios and chord progressions.

It turns out that I had played down there for about four hours. Time flies when you're having fun, you know.

Hunger eventually pulled me from my trance. I went upstairs and got something to eat, went back downstairs and played guitar again until the sun went down. I never got out of my pajamas.

For me, the guitar is more than just an instrument. It is a way of silencing my mind. It is a meditation of sorts. I can close off all thoughts and just let the energy of music sweep through my hands and resonate through the strings. I can sit and play for hours on end. It is beyond enjoyment -- it is necessary. Without it, I have no peace.

The world outside is demanding. There is always something to think about. There is madness at every turn of the way. We all need something that quiets that crazed beast called reality.

I think it is important for people to find the kind of peace that I find in playing my guitar. It doesn't have to be playing guitar, obviously. I know plenty of people who say playing an instrument frustrates them to no end. That's quite all right. We all have our thing. I chose the guitar.

It hasn't always been this way, though. I can think back to when I first started playing. It was difficult. My hands hurt; they became calloused. I hated it. I quit for a while because I was terrible. I saw no reason to continue. Plus, I was only 12. I just wanted to play "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses. I learned that, and then I was done.

But then one day in high school, a couple of friends and I decided to start a band. I told them I could play "Sweet Child O' Mine," and it began.

We learned some simple covers and started playing shows. It was then that I found myself practicing for hours every day. I saw something deeper than I had before. There was infinity, right before me, in the form of six strings. I knew then that I would play guitar for the rest of my life.

I guess it depends on what you enjoy, but I believe we all have that moment in which we find the perfect element that completes us. That piece of Zen. That source of infinite power. Whatever it is.

If you like gardening, plant some seeds. If you like dancing, go to the clubs. If you like falling from great heights, jump from a plane.

I'm not here to tell you how to run your life. But if you're miserable, you're the only one that can change that. And quite often, the most amazing things are the things that have been there all along. We've either taken it for granted or we just don't see it. And sometimes, it just takes work and practice before this awakening occurs.

Look around. What sets you free? Where is the peace that makes you appreciate your life? Is it there? If it's not, maybe you need to reevaluate your situation. If you have that peace, smile and share what you have. Live it. The rest can wait. Joy is the most important thing in life.

And with that in mind, I'm going to go back downstairs to play my Les Paul.

Jesus Freaks

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse columnist
March 11, 2004

Recently I went to the theater and sacrificed some hard-earned cash to see this movie about Jesus. Maybe you've heard of it?

Like some of you out there, I was, shall we say, skeptical about "The Passion of the Christ." But with the controversy swirling, I had to see what the big deal was. A friend of mine recently told me that he saw people passing out in the theater, a paramedic unit standing by in the lobby and large men sobbing like children.

I knew then a spectacle was at hand. This was going to be rich. I got my tickets and watched the movie. Waiting. Waiting for someone to pass out, vomit or run screaming from their seat. Anything.

Two hours later, I was bored, and not one person passed out or puked -- nothing. This movie wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

But people were crying, wiping their eyes, lost in a pain that didn't seem to reach me. Is this the epitome of the divine experience? Why are we drawn to agony and misery? Is this the culmination of mankind?

As I got to my car, I saw one of those bumper stickers that read: "What would Jesus do?" I thought about the phrase for a moment and really let it sink in. And I realized whatever it was Jesus did, I'm not going to do. I don't want to be beat like that, and certainly that crucifixion deal has got to be one of the worst ways a person can go.

I felt hollow after I left the film. I needed something rejuvenating. I wasn't filled with love, hate, sadness or any real human emotion at all as I drove home. Funny, after watching the not-as-savage-as-everyone-mentions flick of the last 12 hours of Christ, I felt nothing. Right afterward, I checked my bank account, and with the thick checks I make writing these columns, I had stacks of the mean green. I decided to buy some music.

I went into a music store and began shuffling through the racks. There was loud banger music playing in the store, and a girl with a punk rock shirt helped me find some music I was looking for.

When I got the music I wanted and was checking out, I saw soundtracks for "The Passion of the Christ" and I asked her if people were buying these.

"No, not really."

"Have you seen the movie?" I asked.

"No, I don't believe in God."


"It's unnecessary. There are better things to believe in."

"Like what?"

"Love. Peace. Joy. Those things are just as imaginary as God, and there's more to hope for," she said.

I paid for the CDs and left. Such a peaceful punk rocker, I thought. But she had a point. Not everyone needs violent gods sending themselves down to earth in human forms to be beaten and slaughtered.

There must be something else happening. Some of us need something richer and less angry. Maybe even a good joke could fill the void.

As I was driving home I saw another car, a van this time, with that same bumper sticker: "What would Jesus do?"

As I was unwrapping my CDs, the van with the bumper sticker came within inches of smashing into another car. The car that was nearly smashed had a bumper sticker that read: "Nonjudgment Day is here." Both of the men in the cars were yelling and shaking their fists in rage at each other.

As I laughed and drove around the two angry drivers, I couldn't help but think I had just seen something divine.

The Legendary Bill Hicks

Forgotten Albums
Carl Sundberg
Pulse Columnist
October 23, 2003

"Listen, the next revolution is gonna be a revolution of ideas. A bloodless revolution. And if I can take part in it by transforming my own consciousness, then someone else's, I'm happy to do it."

These are the words of a brilliant man. His name was Bill Hicks, and he was probably one of the funniest and intelligent comedians of our modern era.

Hicks was a comedic force that the world was simply not prepared for. His style was abrasive, his methods were chaotic and he scared the daylights out of the status quo. He shook people's belief structures right to the core.

He thought of himself as Shiva the Destroyer, the Hindu god. Comedy was his weapon. His razor-sharp perception pinpointed and exposed both the worst and dumbest aspects of society. But his true genius was that he made everything hilarious.

His myriad of topics included savage routines on the news, pornography, the first Bush administration, Operation Desert Storm, psychedelic drugs, the Pope, anti-abortion activists, patriotism, Rush Limbaugh and Jay Leno. He spit these topics at the audience like a cobra.

Sometimes his venomous comedy made people angry. Hecklers took their chances, but Hicks was well armed with intensely violent comebacks that would often send the heckler out of the room, whimpering like a child. Most often though, he left his crowd feeling enlightened.

Despite critical praise, raves from his peers (Sam Kinison being one of his friends) and a growing fan base, Hicks never really found widespread popularity during his short lifetime. A likely reason was his avid disgust for mainstream media outlets.

However, since his death in 1994 at the ripe young age of 32, his popularity has slowly increased. Now more people know of Bill Hicks, but chances are you have never actually heard his comedy.

Bill Hicks has six albums out: "Dangerous," "Relentless," "Arizona Bay," "Rant in E-Minor," "Live From Pittsburgh" and "Love Laughter and Truth." Each recording is unbelievable, but the disc that stands out as being one of the finest examples of his style and humor is "Rant in E-Minor." The album is a virtually unknown comedic masterpiece.

It begins with "Fevered Egos," an eerie track in which Hicks says this will be his last performance. He then tells the audience about his mock television show called "Let's hunt and kill Billy Ray Cyrus." According to Hicks, he was just "trying to rid the world of all these fevered egos that are tainting our collective unconscious."

Around the midway point of the album, a piece called "You're Wrong Night" shows Hicks at his most offensive. What follows is a collage of his various confrontations with hecklers -- intense, to say the least.

The album continues with voracious and biting humor all the way through. By the end of the album, you are either a converted Bill Hicks follower or hate him with a passion. Either way, you owe yourself a listen. If you pride challenging your thought and want some interesting ideas and philosophies to rejuvenate your mind and spirit, or if you just want to sit around and laugh until it hurts, give "Rant in E-Minor" a listen and hear for yourself the genius who is Bill Hicks.

The Willie Nelson Tax Plan

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse columnist
April 22, 2004

I'm not entirely sure, but I think I might be a criminal. If I am, the crime is not severe in my mind. It is nothing like what other beasts have done in our history. I have not killed anyone, set fire to anything, molested a child or mugged a broke old woman. But in the eyes of the government, I may just be an outlaw.

You see, at the time of this writing, my taxes have not been filed. At the time of this publication, my taxes will remain unfiled. Most likely, one year from now, my taxes for this year will not be filed.

It's not a protest or anything. However, consider what the current administration is doing:

1) Giving corporations huge tax breaks while the average break for the rest of us is worth a six-pack and a hot dog.

2) Stirring up the hive in Iraq in the name of some misguided attempt at "liberation."

3) Any of the other horrid things that are being exposed now by people like Richard Clarke, Ron Suskind, Bob Woodward or Paul O'Neill.

Given all the aforementioned, I could easily say I do not support this kind of behavior. I could easily say I will not pay my taxes until those crooks in the White House are either ousted or slowroasted over the media coals for the rest of their slimy careers. I could say that.

I could also say that I didn't file my taxes out of confusion. Those tax forms are like coded Sanskrit to me, and I have no idea what I should be looking for or at when I'm doing this ugly American ritual. I have filed my taxes for five or six years now, and every single year it is a weekend journey into the true heart of bedlam.

The first couple of years I filed, I got them done for me, but it turned out Uncle Sam owed me money, so I didn't even need to worry. But every year thereafter, I have done them myself. Every year thereafter, I received a letter back from my government bitching at me for every minute mistake I made on all my forms. And last year, somehow, despite the fact that I followed an Internet tax program to the tee, I still got a letter back from the government. This time I owed them. Which was strange because I made about as much money as a street corner bum with a sign. But confusion was not why I didn't file my taxes this year.

In all honesty, I didn't file my taxes because I was busy. I had things to do. It simply slipped my mind. No harm, no foul. Now that I've gotten this all on paper -- this torrid confession -- I've probably opened myself up to public scrutiny. But I've decided to hold off on the whole tax thing until I am at least a functional member of society (i.e. I' m out of college and I have a paying job). At that time, anything I owe my government will be paid in full.

But the question still remains: Am I criminal? I have asked several people over the course of a week this question and every person seems to have a different answer to my conundrum.

Some people say yes I am a criminal, some say I'm not, some pray for my damned soul and some tell me I should flee this evil empire while I still have the chance. I don't know who to believe anymore. So I turn to the only man I can look to for true guidance and support in my dark hour.

Willie Nelson.

As you may or may not know, Willie Nelson, one of our last living American outlaws, was dropkicked by our government in 1990 for not filing his taxes for six years. His golf course, recording studio, ranch and pretty much everything Nelson owned -- everything except his legendary Martin guitar, which he still plays to this day -- was seized by the Internal Revenue Service. Nelson owed nearly $17 million in back taxes.

To get out of his financial quagmire, he recorded and released an album called "Who'll Buy My Memories?: The IRS Tapes" and made some Taco Bell commercials. By 1993, Nelson was freed from his tax chains.

Of course, I'm not quite on the scale of Willie Nelson, but my predicament is similar. And as far as I know, Willie Nelson never went to jail for this, so in my mind, he was not a criminal. In my simple monkey logic, what separates criminals from the rest of us are bars. And if Willie Nelson wasn't behind them, he wasn't a criminal, therefore, neither am I.

If I am wrong, the IRS knows where I live.

The Pirates of the Industry

Carl Sundberg
Reasoning with madness
October 09, 2003

The last time I went into a music store, I walked out empty-handed. Not because I couldn't find anything I wanted, but because I couldn't find anything I could afford.

The thing is, I need music. Without it, I have no reason to get up in the morning. I usually start every day with something loud and refreshing, maybe My Chemical Romance or Primus. I end the day with something somber and peaceful, such as Bill Frisell or Aphex Twin. I'm a music addict and like any type of junky, I need my fix. But to hell with dropping a twenty note on the counter for a CD that might have four or five good songs on it at best.

Sometimes I try to listen to the radio, but I can only hear Nirvana so many times; I hate Britney Spears and I can't get any good stations -- like KRVM-FM or KWVA-FM -- to come in at my house.

A friend of mine suggested downloading music, but I aptly reminded him that the Recording Industry Association of America is suing the dook out of anyone and everyone they can get their greedy hands on. I haven't downloaded music since I caught wind of this villainous tactic.

The RIAA has a lock-down on many peer-to-peer servers these days, and anyone who's downloaded 1000 songs or more is a potential target. They don't care who you are. Last month, they made an example out of a twelve-year-old girl, Brianna LaHara, forcing her to read a statement of apology and making her parents pay $2,000 in damages. This mad raid by the RIAA is all in the name of fair business practices.

It's just not right.

By attacking the music fan, the RIAA drew attention to illegally downloading music. What it has actually done is made things worse -- they've started a war. On one side is big business. On the other, the music fan.

Personally, I've probably downloaded around 900 or more songs in the past couple of years, which puts me in the cross-hairs of the recording industry.

Like that twelve-year-old girl and hundreds of millions of other people across the nation, I am an enemy in the eyes of the recording industry. I am a pirate. Which, for me, is actually kind of cool. Maybe I should download a few hundred more albums off Kazaa. Maybe I should get sued by the RIAA.

Then when I go to court, I could dress up like a pirate. I could get a patch for one of my eyes, a parrot for my shoulder, cut off my right hand and install a hook. I could address the judge and jury with, "Arrr, matey. Shiver me timbers!" or "Well, blow me down, this jury be high says I!"

Of course, that might be a little out of hand for the occasion, and the court might hold me in contempt. Or maybe even skip the whole "suing" thing and throw me right into federal prison just to make another example.

But the media would not ignore such an event. With the attention this would get, I could hold a benefit festival with bands like The Wailers, Beastie Boys, The Roots and Rage Against The Machine (they would get back together just for the occasion).

They could get the crowd chanting, "Free the rock 'n' roll pirates of the world!" or "Stop the RIAA!"

The whole world would come together like the original Woodstock. People across the globe would revolt against the big five record labels (Warner Bros., Sony, EMI Music, Universal Music Group and BMG) and the RIAA, causing them all to go bankrupt. Music would finally be set free for people to enjoy and cherish.

Honestly, I don't want it to go that far. I just want good music for a good price. I want good outlets for free music. And with Halloween upon us, I want a pirate costume.

Cobain Genocide

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse columnist
April 08, 2004

This April marks the 10-year anniversary of one of the most famous suicides in contemporary American history -- the shot heard around the world, if you will. It also marks the 10-year anniversary of something far more tragic but virtually unknown to most Americans.

Ten years ago today, Americans were at a loss for words as they mourned the death of rock star Kurt Cobain.

The media had their eyes on Seattle. While the camera crews and smug reporters were migrating Northwest to the dreary Emerald City for the story of the year, one of the most horrific and violent crimes against humanity was taking place overseas in a small African country called Rwanda.

Millions of people across the United States were in tears and blaring "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from their stereos, while in Africa screams were blaring from the mouths of innocent men, women and children as they were rapidly decimated with machetes.

It began on April 6, 1994, when Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana was killed after his plane was shot down near Kigali Airport. Hutu extremists were believed to be behind the attack.

Later that night, the Hutus began one of the most efficient genocides the world has ever known; deciding that the Tutsi people, the minority in Rwanda, must be wiped out. While the official count of the dead reached 800,000, many Rwandans say it was far greater. Some say that it was in the millions.

Two days later, back in the United States, Kurt Cobain's body was found in his Seattle home by an electrician. He had perished from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. In his suicide letter, Cobain writes, "The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending to be having 100% fun."

In Rwanda, thousands of people were being herded into churches and massacred.

On April 10, Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, held hands with horrified fans during a candlelight vigil in Seattle while reading excerpts from her husband's suicide note. Love choked back tears as she and the fans called Cobain an "asshole."

Love responded to Cobain's words by saying, "No Kurt, the worst crime I can think of is for you to just continue being a rock star when you fucking hate it."

Meanwhile, in Rwanda, more than 10,000 Tutsis were gathered at a town hall where police, soldiers, militiamen and villagers surrounded them with guns, grenades and machetes. Only a few Tutsis escaped. The rest were slaughtered.

For the next few months back in America, the media were in a Nirvana feeding frenzy. Cobain's face was placed on magazine covers nationwide, journalists everywhere were writing essays about him and MTV became Cobain central, playing nothing but Nirvana videos on constant 24-hour loops.

In Rwanda, maggots and buzzards fed on blood-drenched and headless corpses that were piled up in churches and streets.

By July 1994, Cobain had become a household name, a cultural icon, a hero. Things had started getting back to normal for America. What was once a horrible tragedy is now our history, a frozen moment in time. Americans had grieved enough. We were ready to move on.

One hundred days after April 6, Rwanda had also started to get back to relative normalcy -- if you were not a Tutsi, that is. The Rwandan genocide had come to a halt. Journalist Philip Gourevitch writes the following in his book "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda": "The dead of Rwanda accumulated at nearly three times the rate of the Jewish dead during the Holocaust. It was the most efficient mass killing since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

However, unlike Cobain, they did not choose to die. Unlike Cobain, none of the Rwandan dead became media-honored heroes. None of them are household names. None of them are icons. Their pictures never graced any magazine covers. They were sacrificed for nothing. For nothing.

Just like the Clinton administration did, the American media have all but ignored the Rwandan genocide. Nowadays, the few who even know about this event shake their heads in disbelief. What were we thinking? The most powerful empire on Earth sat idle as millions of people were slaughtered like cattle. At this point, though, it's stupid to play the blame game. What's done is done.

But 10 years later, the buzz about Cobain is back. And Rwanda is still in the background, hidden away from American eyes. Let us not forget those 800,000 innocent victims.

I dedicate this meager column to those families who perished in that genocide. Tonight, I will burn a candle for you all.

The Private Revolution

By Carl Sundberg
Pulse Columnist
January 29, 2004

One theory of how the dinosaurs went extinct is that they killed themselves off. Not on purpose, but because they just didn't know how to survive. They grew too large to adapt to their surroundings. They couldn't see the errors of their ways, and their Darwinian instincts were not quite intact.

The music industry could learn a lot from history. Just like the dinosaurs might have done to themselves, the music industry is slowly aiding its own self-extinction. The final vestige of this dying organism is a last strike, an all-or-nothing bet. Lawsuits against file-sharers, insane pricing of CDs and monopolistic holds on an artist's material are all prongs of the industry's last strike. But like any prophetic statement, there is more warning behind these words than fulfillment. There is the possibility of change.

But what can be done? The answer is complex. But there is one fatal flaw that has become excruciatingly obvious to most music fans: There is no diversity.

Once upon a time, you could listen to the radio and hear a little of everything. It was like a buffet. The dishes included hip-hop, soul, rock, jazz, blues and pop all on the same station. Today's mainstream sound is the that of white noise when you compare it to what is actually happening in this country. The diversity in music has exponentially increased, while the media for communicating these distinct and innovative sounds have decreased.

The lack of attention to diversity, coupled with the rise of technological wonders such as Kazaa and Napster, has given the audience power once again. This has created one of the greatest movements in the history of music. A private revolution, if you will.

But for the music industry, it is the source of its collapse.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, the music industry rakes in $40 billion annually. The United States takes about a third of this. These enormous profits are dwindling due to music pirates. This has turned the big companies into angry giants, crushing any and all in their path. On Jan. 21 of this year, 526 new
lawsuits were filed against music pirates, on top of the thousands from last year. This tactic is merely dealing with symptoms, not the disease, and it has done little to stop piracy. Like the "War on Terrorism," this battle will continue indefinitely.

One issue in suing file pirates is the offshore cases. How do you sue someone in Argentina? Another problem relates to perception. The average file pirate doesn't feel he or she is ripping off any artist, if they think about it at all. It's the corporate media outlets that are getting the brunt of the loss. This is partly right. In a recent interview in Progressive magazine, Tom Morello, guitarist for Audioslave, says that an average record deal gives the musician "10 cents on the dollar" while "the record label gets 90 cents on the dollar." With this kind of unfair treatment of artists, it's crazy to think we even have a music community.

If the labels were smart, they would invest their money in research and development rather than police tactics. They would seek a way to please the masses rather than attack them. They would find ways of embracing change rather than fearing it. They would diversify their sources of revenue rather than greedily and ignorantly milk a dying cash cow.

The possible combinations are rather endless when imagination is set forth. It's strange to think that no honest attempts have been made by the industry to promote diversity through technology. The thinking has all been inside the box.

But this is good for any smart college student with some entrepreneurial spirit. The music industry is a ripe new playing field. While the odds are against a new form taking shape, it's looking brighter every day.

We are living in a time when fresh ideas are blossoming at a feverish pace. The dinosaurs that roamed this land are not agile enough to change their ways. They can't adapt quickly enough and they are on their last legs.

Out of this slow extinction will emerge an entire generation of young, bright people who only wish to hear and promote amazing music. They won't care about the bottom line. They won't care about fortune, about fame. They are out there, right now, in the clubs, on the phones, in the studios, behind the computers and behind the scenes, planning the next logical step.

The power is shifting, spreading back into the people's hands again. The idea that is simmering will be one of musical diversity and equality. Music will be freed from the tyranny of industry and become the music of the people again, like it once was, back before dinosaurs roamed the earth

Primus Sucks

Carl Sundberg
Pulse Columnist
October 27, 2003

The bizarre freak show that is Primus rolled through Eugene on Saturday night in support of its new album, "Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People."

The three original members of the band -- Les Claypool, Larry LaLonde and Tim Alexander -- joined forces once again for a reunion tour extravaganza, playing two sets clocking in just under 180 minutes to a sold-out crowd at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts.

The crowd did not explode when the band took the stage just after 8 p.m. Instead, they roared, then fell silent as the band slid into the Pink Floyd-ish "Southbound Pachyderm," a trippy, lurching song about flying elephants. They stretched the song out for nearly 10 minutes, bending it into new shapes that I'd never heard before. However, the crowd was not blasted into a frenzy -- they were lulled into another world. This shows that Primus no longer needs to prove themselves. They are masters; they are the "Southbound Pachyderm."

Since last performing, the group has established a new sense of improvisation in their songs. Hearing new versions of "Frizzle Fry," "Pudding Time," "Toys Go Winding Down" and one of my favorites, "Over the Electric Grapevine," was amazing. All these songs were mutated and stretched like putty, which just made them heavier and funkier than I have ever heard. And this was only the first set -- a mere appetizer for what came next. The true show began during the second set when they performed their classic album "Sailing the Seas of Cheese" in its entirety.

During the strange breakdown of "Is It Luck?," Primus launched into a cover of Pink Floyd's classic "In The Flesh". The crowd erupted in approval.

I took a particular liking to the version of "American Life," when Claypool unleashed the baddest gypsy-funk bass solo I've heard in quite some time. Alexander got his never-ending solo too, rolling his drums up and down the walls of the Hult Center. The crowd paid its respects with maddening applause.

At one point, Claypool came out with the strangest instrument I've ever seen. It appeared to be a large rod with a single bass string attached to it. It seemed to be made for percussive purposes, because at one point Claypool was simply beating out a furious rhythm on the thing with drum sticks. It was unreal.

The second set concluded with "Los Bastardos", in which a slew of masked musicians took the stage and played along with the band. Claypool said to the crowd, "There are only three words, so sing along: 'Here they come.'" The crowd followed along, growing louder as the freak show onstage began to grow into a frenzy. The set ended and Primus walked offstage.

It wasn't long before the crowd grew impatient for an encore. The crowd chanted "Primus sucks!" with increasing volume. All fans know this routine; it is a calling card. This is what brings them back out.

And sure enough, the group returned for one more song. The chords to "Too Many Puppies" began, and Claypool sang: "Too many puppies are being shot in the dark/Too many puppies are trained not to bark ... ".

I like Brad Mehldau...

Carl Sundberg
Pulse Columnist
March 4, 2004

When an art form begins to mimic itself and replicate patterns, it is a sure sign that the form is on its way out. To continue to exist, it must expand, grow and branch out. It must evolve. This is especially true for music, and even more so for jazz.

One clever way to show the evolution of jazz is by taking songs written in the past and rehashing them, putting them into a new context, to show that growth is taking place.

Pianist Brad Mehldau is doing just that on his latest album, "Anything Goes."

The ten tracks on "Anything Goes" are all covers, ranging from Cole Porter and Thelonious Monk songs to those of Paul Simon and Radiohead. The title of the album comes from the Cole Porter song, describing the sound and feel of the whole album, with its broad range of songs, perfectly.

Credit must also be given to Larry Grenadier on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums, who round out the trio on the album. These three musicians are truly talented and help each other with subtle and almost awkward engagements. Their interplay is like a catch-up conversation between a group of longtime friends -- very cheerful but also relaxed. There is no need to really impress each other, but the time spent is obviously joyous.

The opening track, "Get Happy," is just under ten minutes long and holds your attention every minute with its bizarre timing and polyrhythms bouncing and rolling in and out of each other. Here is where Rossy really flashes his skills behind the drums, performing tricks and stunts that are quite spectacular. There is also the feeling of comical delight behind the notes, like Mehldau is laughing through his piano.

Another track that has this joyous, almost comical feel to it is the rare Thelonious Monk track, "Skippy." The trio moves up and down the rather traditional sounding jazz piece with a modern sophistication that harkens to the future of the genre, saying "See, it is still alive!"

The ballad "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face," from Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's classic "My Fair Lady," is more heartbreaking and beautiful than the original ever was. The gentle cascading of Mehldau's phrasing gives the song a heightened emotional tug that must be heard to be understood.

As for the renditions of the pop/rock songs by Paul Simon and Radiohead, Mehldau and his trio interpret them with class, intelligence and honest appreciation. These tracks don't leave you feeling cheated, like you had just heard them in the background of a supermarket. What you realize is that music should be interpreted. Just as a music review tries to interpret sound with words, Mehldau's interpretations are an attempt at description and maybe even homage to musicians he respects.

In fact, the standout track on the album is Mehldau's interpretation of "Everything In Its Right Place," by Radiohead. The song opens with Grenadier's solo bassline that creates the outline for the song. It is modal in nature, solid and straightforward, but creates a tension that is released once the piano and drums come in about a minute into the bass solo. The melody is played chillingly on the upper keys of Mehldau's piano, while Grenadier's bass notes bridge the various gaps that give the song a heavy, dark feel to it. It is fascinating to hear a song you know the words to played in such a meditative fashion. After hearing this song, it seems as if it was supposed to be played by a piano trio, not a five piece rock band.

All that said, the Brad Mehldau Trio's "Anything Goes" is a great piece of art that proves that jazz is not repeating itself, but redefining and branching out, moving ahead into the future.

Generation Why?

Carl Sundberg
Pulse Columnist
February 26, 2004

At some point, while cutting high school classes, drinking illegal beers and realizing we didn't fit in, we were assigned a letter. We didn't even get to decide. No one could really cluster us, no one could condense who we were. But we were breaking the old rules, the tired patterns. So they crossed us off the list with a big fat X.

Generation X.

Plain, sad and simple. The first time I heard that phrase, I laughed. I knew someone would have that T-shirt soon. But as soon as I learned of this new human category, Generation X was out of style, a new generation was on its way, and now I had a choice of which generation to associate with. I hoped it would have a better name. Nope. The authors weren't trying so hard anymore; they just moved up the alphabet.

Generation Y, or maybe we should call it Generation Why, took X's place and became the new target market. And what was worse (or better), I didn't belong to this group any more than I did to the other. That's when it dawned on me. It really doesn't matter anymore. Why should we even care about this labeling? We didn't get to vote on the name. We didn't choose this. It was a marketing strategy, designed to sell us crap we don't need. Why should we participate? It's so trivial.

One moment while I fill your head with facts before moving on: Generation X is the 45 million people born between 1965 and 1976. Generation Y dwarfs the country, making up 72 million people born between 1977 and 1994.

OK. I will continue.

In a group or a party, I have never heard anyone who belongs to these categorized lives ever mention Generation X or Y as a description. We are not subscribers. It is the entities, businesses, corporations and media that use these titles. They sit at tables, passing our "name" around, sniffing it, tugging at it, looking for clues. Wondering how they can put it to use. This empty phrase.

All the while we shrink back, deeper into ourselves, so that they cannot reach us. Growing more complex through resistance to the pesticide-like mannerisms of their attack. We are immune. We are ironic. We are lazy. We are genius.

We are a sleeping dragon and we are next in line.

We are not a brand extension.

We live between the borders, in cracks -- shadows perhaps -- clinging to both sides of how we've been defined. Moving in any direction poses a threat, setting off an alarm that announces our presence to the marketers, to the politicians, to the media. We are now a target. A board for darts. Definition darts. For people with beady eyes and weak hearts to take their turn at the board: "Got the bull's-eye! I'm gonna call 'em Weekend Warriors! Sell 'em some hiking boots, catered to their sense of style!"

So we remain in between things, away from the flying darts of definition, clinging to nothing rather than something. Because it seems by making any decision we are almost immediately marginalized by that decision, then defined and sold to the highest bidder.

Our favorite pastime turned into a perfume. Our favorite song is blaring from a car ad. Our slang is selling beer. Our poetry was mutated into a slogan. Our dreams became a Web site. Our friends, they're statues looking into the distance with neat pants on. Our jokes turned into a sitcom. Our passion dammed into a pool.

Now we remain silent, slowly waiting for the opportunity to do something worthwhile. Something that won't be taken and sold to the masses. Turned into another cliché like the rest of everything that meant anything to us at some point.

And all the while those in charge are demanding our support, our constant approval of what they have told us, sold us, passed off as necessity and treating the sacred as a pie chart to be divided amongst the shareholders.

We don't protest, we don't riot, we don't make a fuss. We calmly accept this temporary mold and wait for the right time to stretch out and soar, without the fear of marginalization, stereotyping or being capitalized on. It's not that we don't care what is going on. It's that there's not much any of us can really do about it anyway. The strongest thing we can say is nothing. Our power lies in our secrets.

In the meantime, we play games, disobey and frolic in what we know is worn out and tired because soon enough we will have our say. We will speak in volumes, in poetry, in code, in tongues, separate from those that turned us cold and rigid.

There's hope but no desire to act just yet, as we edge our way into the future, complete with the debts, mistakes and missed attempts of the generation that made us this way.

We inherit the broom of some brilliant party that just missed us, and we're standing around waiting to clean up the mess. Suhweet.

Maybe by the time Generation Z comes around, things will be different, maybe better for them. If nothing else, maybe they could at least pick their own names.

Karaoke Cowboy Brawl

We have to shake things up a bit. It's time to scare people. This is what I was thinking as my friends and I finished the third pitcher of beer.

"Go get the book," I said, as I burned the roof of my mouth on the searing grease of a fresh onion ring.

We were in a Karaoke bar in a "less-than-fortunate" area of Springfield, eating onion rings and fries, drinking cheap beer by the pitcher and shooting cheap pool. There was something wrong with the setup here, and I couldn't quite place my unease. Maybe it was the Super Mario sounds coming from the electronic poker machines. Maybe it was the strange tales about the joys of being jailed overnight that were being fed to me by some guys shooting pool next to us. No. It wasn't that. Those things are fairly common.

Just then, as a small woman began to belt out of key "And I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I will always love youuuuuuuu...", the Christian pop metal sensation Creed came blasting from the jukebox. That's when it hit me. That's when the unnerving presence showed its face. There is a conflict of interest here. Who plays a jukebox in a Karaoke bar? And who picked Creed?

It's a moot point to ask who did it; the damage had been done. The nature of the offense was so baffling, so terrible, that the only thing to do was to get back at all of them. Everyone would have to pay for this. That's when my friend Eric came back with the Karaoke book.

"We gotta do something over-the-top, man. We gotta do something that's gonna rock this place," Eric said.

"True. We have to take them to a whole new level. We have to show them the glory," I replied. Tonight is historical. This would be our first Karaoke performance. We ordered another pitcher.

As we flipped through the pages of Shania Twains and *NSYNCs, it became clear that we might not find that diamond in the rough. All the good songs seemed to have bypassed this book. What we wanted was Slipknot. We wanted Wu-Tang Clan. We wanted Pantera. We wanted, no, we needed, something slash and burn. Something that will take these people by storm. But it started to grow dim. The idea of singing our first Karaoke song was beginning to seem like a distant dream. Absolutely terrible music dominated the massive list. I wondered if all Karaoke books were this bad.

As we finished up the fourth pitcher, the oppressive list was beginning to weigh down on us. But then we saw the song, shining and sparkling like the numbers on a winning lottery ticket. The sound of angels swept the room. Amidst the pantheon of Elvis Presley and Billy Joel songs, the country ballads and teen pop jingles, was the perfect song: Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction."

"Get the slips, we found one!" I shouted over another squealing woman in the background. Eric and I began to plan our attack. We would have to warm up our vocal chords for this one. Megadeth must be done properly. We ordered shots of Jägermeister.

Two or three songs later, our time had come. The woman gave us the microphones and the metal riffage began. I looked out into our sea of fans and knew we were the ones who were going to bring the glory home. "This is a song about world domination," I informed the crowd. That's what Dave Mustain would say, right?

Our friends, all of whom moved up to the front of the bar to cheer us on like the righteous groupies they are, were laughing uncontrollably. The faces of the elderly were frozen in horror. The cowboys began to crack their knuckles. This was the sound of all hell breaking loose.

No one can deny the power and beauty of Megadeth, especially when it is being sung by two of the most amazing metal vocalists of our modern era. Oh yes -- we are the best. Our falsettos and growls and screams and bellows were unhinged with a fury that had never been heard before. Not only were our voices glorious, but our handling of the guitar solos by means of air guitar and darting tongue were undeniably the best treatment of Megadeth since, well, Megadeth.

We are the kings of the Karaoke. There is no question.

Surprisingly, after the song, we were greeted by no one. We were not approached by bikini babes or leather jacket rockers. No one seemed to notice us after we walked off stage. It was almost as if they were afraid. Maybe we were too good.

Then it started to dawn on me. I'll bet that's what the girl singing the Whitney Houston song was thinking when she was on stage. Maybe she saw her performance as spine-tingling, earth-shattering, or any of those common combinations of adjectives that critics like to use.

Now that I think about it, I did hear the jukebox playing a Kenny Rogers song or something. It was well over halfway through. The only way it could be that far into the song is if ... yeah, I see now: They started it right about midway through our performance.

The Boob Debacle

Carl Sundberg
Pulse Columnist
February 4, 2004

Well, I tried. Really. I have spent the past week pining over a topic for this column, and while many things crossed my mind, one thing kept throwing itself into my consciousness.

Yes, it was Janet Jackson's boob.

I can't help but see it -- it's everywhere. Still. I can't turn on the television or check my e-mail or read the news without seeing Janet's look of horror and her now-censored mammary. According to Lycos, Janet and her boob is the most-searched-for event in the history of the Internet. Sorry, Ms. Jackson.

The thing is, no one is talking about the real disgusting events that took place on that shameful Sunday. No one mentions the fact that Janet and Justin's performance, aside from the accidental striptease, was one of brutality and misogynistic domination. No one talks about Nelly, not only reaching for his penis, but shaping it into a missile for all the world to see. No has even questioned the real boob, Kid Rock, and his idiotic performance, which in reality is more disturbing and wrong than anything the Jackson family could produce. And in the "hip" category, all of the artists who performed during half-time did a terrible job lip-synching now-defunct hits from their sorry collective pasts. Nothing was new there, nor was any of it even remotely interesting, aside from the half-second flash of flesh.

Shock is nothing new to network television, and it is certainly not new to musicians. Just ask Eminem or Marilyn Manson. America's television history is inundated with "shocking moments." We expect these things from our musicians. Someone has to step up and question American progress from time to time, and it's usually them.

CBS seems to have forgotten that one of its longest-running television programs, "The Ed Sullivan Show," hosted a plethora of "shocking" performances. On Sept. 9, 1956, Elvis Presley became "Elvis the Pelvis" after lewdly gyrating his hips for an audience of 56 million viewers. By his third performance, Elvis's dirty hips were cropped from the frame.

Another "shocking" performance from that same show came a few years later, when The Doors performed their hit "Light My Fire." The producers told singer Jim Morrison that he had to say something other than "get much higher" because of the apparent drug reference. He agreed to it before the show, but sang the song with the original words, live on television. According to keyboardist Ray Manzarek, Sullivan was so irate he didn't even shake their hands. He banned the group from ever appearing on the show again.

It's safe to say that the outrage of CBS and Michael Powell -- chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and son of Colin -- was not much different than that of Ed Sullivan. But in all honesty, was it really that shocking? With multiple ads running during the Super Bowl for flaccid penises and beer commercials with farting horses, is a split-second of teat really bringing us down the path of full-scale corruption?

I find it hilarious that an entertainer can go right up to the line of acceptability and FCC-regulated taste, but if you even wave your foot (or in this case, your boob) over that line, you are shunned.

One argument for the FCC is that the breast flopped out during a time when children were present. I asked my 4-year-old niece what she thought of it, and she replied, "She's pretty." There you have it. No corruption there.

Maybe we should look to our European brothers and sisters. Over there, the naked human form is not only accepted, it is praised for the beauty that it is. Had the Super Bowl been a French game show, I doubt anyone would have thought anything of it. But in the good ol' United States, breasts in public are horrific and should be kept locked away -- at least in the eyes of network media and the FCC.

Wars rage, violence is praised, yet still in our barbarian culture a breast is more shocking than seeing a fistfight in the dogpiles of a Super Bowl brawl, or civilians running for their lives while being fired upon by soldiers. Our Pavlovian conditioning over the years has trained us to tune out the violence, I guess.

What this says to me is that our country, despite being one of great accomplishments and beauty, is still in its adolescent phase, like a bunch of bullies on a national playground, beating people up and getting flustered and annoyed at the girls for trying to make us grow up.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Kesey column, rough.

In these days of destruction, in this era of aggression and revenge, it’s become plain to me that we need a new way of thinking. It’s time for a revolution, a real one this time that actually steps up to the plate and hits a homerun. The revolution we need is more in line with Martin Luthur King, of Ghandi, a revolution without bloodshed. We need what Ken Kesey called a “revolution of consciousness.”
“We’ve got to be mature enough to incorporate everyone into this revolution.” Kesey wrote. “It’s basis is mercy and justice, and mercy before justice.”
This should be its mantra.
We’ve come a long way as humans, but once again, like so many times in the past, we are in jeopardy. We are once again bordering on ending it all. Killing the whole damn planet. Wiping out everything. Starting another world war, believe it kids, and believe too that like all things, the third time’s the charm.
There ain’t gonna be no world war four.
But we hold the keys to our fate, each and every single one of us. We choose war or peace. We choose joy or misery. We choose revenge or forgiveness. Our leaders sign the checks, but we write ‘em.
There is plenty of hatred and anger going around these days. There is planety of in-fighting. Just take a look at our political process.
We’ve got two parties, democrats and republicans. Both sides believe in rules of the game, they each have a creed, a side, and neither one of them will budge if it means sacrificing some dogmatic ideal. They’d rather escalate the fury than calm down and take a moment to just simply listen to what the other guy has to say. And these days, the poles are shifting further and further to one side or the other. The tug of war is getting so sotrng that the rope is gonna snap. This is not good. We need a common ground here where beliefs aren’t held in front of ideas and emotions aren’t imprisoning logic.
The anger has been mounting for some time now, but it wasn’t until 9/11 that the shit really smacked the fan. The whole nation has been foaming at the mouth to kill a bunch of people for doing this to us. And now we’re shocked when we see pictures of our soldiers torturing our enemy. Get real folks, this is war. This is reality television. This is what happens behind closed doors. This is what it comes down to.
This year our choice for president is either a smirking jackal or a sneaky jackal. We’re in a lose-lose situation here. We ain’t getting any enlightenment from these people. There’ll be no consciousness expansion here. There’ll be no peace here. There’ll be no unity here.
We gotta look someplace else. We gotta find the enlightenment and that higher ground elsewhere, before it’s too late. And I’m not talking about looking for a leader. I’m talking about looking inside. That’s the only place we’re gonna find it.
If not we’re doomed.

Re: Bush's 9-11 testimony displays faults

> > >From: "ES"
> > >To:
> > >Subject: Bush's 9-11 testimony displays faults
> > >Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 11:22:54 -0400
> > >
> > >In your article you ask:
> > >" Why weren't fighter planes scrambled immediately upon seeing flights
> > >moving off course all heading in the same direction?"
> > >If you were one of the airline controller, would you have the capacity to
> > >order the Air Force to "scramble" fighter aircraft, or do you suppose that
> > >some "chain of command" would have to be followed? If so, how long do you
> > >think that would take?
> > >Also, try to ask "accurate" questions. It should be obvious that "all"
> > >the planes weren't heading in the same direction. Unless, of course, you
> > >think the WTC and the Pentagon, are in the same place. Who knows where
> > >the plane, that crashed, was heading? Oh! I forgot. You know!
> > >
> > > You ask: Why was Bush in Florida reading books to children when the
> > >nation was being attacked?
> > >By this are you implying that the President should have known exactly where
> > >and when an attack was going to take place?
> > >Or, are you implying that the President should never leave D.C., just in
> > >case "something" goes wrong? You should draft a law, enforcing something
> > >along those lines. You won't need any help, because with you immense
> > >brain power, you can do that, all by yourself.
> > >
> > >You ask: "How did the Pentagon get hit? "
> > >I wasn't aware that the U.S. Airforce regularly monitored the flightpaths
> > >of All plane traffic, in the U.S. If they did, they would have known
> > >that some flights weren't "on course". You could also do a lot, by
> > >personally drafting legislation that would make that mandatory.
> > >
> > >You ask "what the hell does Iraq have to do with Sept. 11?", and "What the
> > >hell is wrong with you? "
> > >
> > >Since the answers to these, and many more questions I'm sure your "pea
> > >brain" has pondered, are so obvious, that it's below me to answer,
> > >suffice to say that it's obvious that YOU are a "Bush hater", and there
> > >are no answers that would make that any different.
> > >But that last question "What the hell is wrong with you?"
> > >
> > >Save that one for yourself.
> > >What would be wrong with someone asking some of the dumbest questions, as
> > >if the public wouldn't know they were being asked,
> > >based on pure political bias?
> > >
> > >But, just like a child, that has absolutely no understanding of "how
> > >things work", you'll probably go on posing dumb questions,
> > >and ridiculing a government that's doing its best to save your worthless
> > >ass.
> > >Were it not for the fact that the left leaning liberal press exists,
> > >you would be completely out of a job. PONDER THAT!

>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Carl sundberg"
>Sent: Monday, May 10, 2004 2:00 PM
>Subject: RE: Bush's 9-11 testimony displays faults
> > to whoever the fuck you are:
> >
> > wow, you sure put me in my place...
> >
> > first of all you disseccted the least important argument of my column.
> > Second of all, you didnt give me any viable solutions to my "poor
> > questions", relying on angry attacks on my "peas-sized intellect". maybe you
> > should have read the whole thing before you decided to stick a spoon in my
> > ass and start chowing down. maybe you should calm down before you write to
> > someone you don't even know.
> > but hey, whatever. we all play differently. but since you brought it up, mr
> > (or mrs) smarty pants, what should be asked? i guess in your mind,
> > everything's peachy. our nation was attacked under the watch of a smirking
> > president and no in-depth analysis should be taking place? our nation
> > started a horrifically escalating war where my friends and family are in
> > constant danger of dying, we're torturing the enemy in a sick stanford
> > prison remix, and we're supposed to not question what our leaders are doing?
> > It's becoming clear each and every day that our leaders fucked up. Multiple
> > times. And they lied. The repurcussions of those lies are deaths. Thousands
> > upon thousands of deaths. But The rich are doing alright, so I guess I
> > should just shut the fuck up and wave my flag with a sock in my mouth.
> > Look, man, (or woman) i'm open to suggestions, i'm not the enemy here. I am
> > just trying to get people to wake up to what's really going on. So, tell me,
> > if my questions are so stupid, and since i know nothing, what is that i
> > should know? what am i missing here? I am open to any suggestions to making
> > this country a better place.
> >
> > and dont write me unless you have the balls to sign your name.
> >
> > Carl C. Sundberg
> >
> >
> > "The truth, finally, is who can tell it." -Chang-Rae Lee

>From: "ES"
>To: "Carl sundberg"
>Subject: Re: Bush's 9-11 testimony displays faults
>Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 23:00:37 -0400
I don't need to know you, to know you don't know "what the fuck" you're talking about. I should be obvious, that you think Bush, and the whole government should have known that the trade towers, Pentagon, etc. were going to be bombed, AT THAT VERY MINUTE. Bullshit! He didn't know, no one knew, but YOU, Mr. Knowitall, should have.
I attacked the "least important" of your "arguments", because one needn't go any further. Your sense of reason is straight up your ass. By the time the order to "scramble" any kind of fighter jets, the whole thing would have been over, anyway, but of course you wouldn't know that, because you just want to blame Bush and Co.
He was at a school, reading, or listening to children read, when the towers were hit. Where should he have been?
Maybe your "president" Klinton could have done a better job, after he got done either sticking cigars in Monica, getting a blow job, or jerking off in the sink. And, along those lines, that asshole sold our military secrets to the Chicoms, for campaign cash. It took him, and that whore he called his wife, eight years to almost destroy our military, but YOU don't care about that.
He played with Monica, while the Middle East, and the terrorists were heating up. He did NOTHING!
Your problem is you're a bleeding heart leftist liberal, who would rather see Sadaam in the White House, instead of Bush, or any Republican. You remind me of the so called "palestinians", who hate Jews more than they love their kids. So they strap bombs on them, and tell them to go out and kill Jews. No matter that the kid blows himself up, in the process.
You have complaints, but all with the wrong party, and you present absolutely NO sensible alternative solutions.
You, and other non-American press, complain about the danger our boys are in, AND THEN SPEAD AS MANY PICTURES OF THE POOR PRISONERS. Of course by doing that you infuriate the towel heads that much more, so they gather strength, and pose an even bigger problem to our troops, than they would have if YOU AND YOUR ASSHOLE FRIENDS WOULD SHUT THE FUCK UP! What you're doing is called sedition!
So you complain about the war, and then you fuel the fire.
Am I getting to you?
Sadaam paid terrorists to kill Americans, and Israelis, so he clearly posed a thread to the U.S., whether you believe it, or not. He had the means to gas his enemies, and he did. He gassed citizens of his own country. He could well have paid some terrorists to gas Ameicans, right here. BUT HE WAS NO THREAT! YEAH! RIGHT! Can you spell Kuwait? I knew you couldn't.
In short, fella, you talk out of both sides of your mouth, at the same time. You want results, but only from a Democrat, any Democrat. But the truth of the matter is that Democrats don't have the answers, only more fuel for the fire.
We have a President, now, who has the balls to get things done, but Assholes, like you, can't see past the fact that he's a Republican.
When the Viet Cong saw that there were some, in America, that were solidly against the war, like your boy Kerry, and demonstrated as much, how much help and encourgement did the Viet Cong get, as a result? And how many more of our boys died, as a result?
When YOU, and others of your ilk, demonstrate, and post articles against Bush, and the war, how much do you help the terrorists? And how much more danger are our boys in, as a result?
You make noises like you care, but you don't. If you did you would be writing articles against the terrorists, and for the U.S. effort, on behalf of all those that want a World without terrorists.
You're a Bush basher, who tries to justify his hate, by writing articles that pose stupid questions, all designed to bring down this administration.
Intelligent people can see through you, like a pane of glass, so you're not fooling anyone, except other Democrats, but they don't have the brains to see beyond their hatred of a Republican President.
You support people like Gore, Kerry, and Klinton, not to mention that whore, Hildabeast. They, and you, have done NOTHING to help this country. Eight years, and still NOTHING!
Well, asshole, get ready for FOUR MORE YEARS OF BUSH!
Chew on it, and choke on it! It's better than you deserve.

Earl Sloan
A REAL AMERICAN (unlike you)

May 11, 2004



that's all I have to say to you.


"The truth, finally, is who can tell it." -Chang-Rae Lee