Note from the Editor

Just imagine for a moment that you live on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation along the Mississippi River Basin, and because of severe drought, no matter how much rain the spring brings, you'll be out of drinking water by August. Then imagine every member of congress and the president calling emergency sessions, enacting legislation and invoking acts of god to ensure that you and your people do not die of dehydration. If the latter scenario is unimaginable, and for good reason, then the next question to ask is "What can I do? What will I do?" Michael DeLang looked deep within and around himself, asking some very tough questions that deserve all of our reflection. Phil Rockstroh asks another compelling question, what would happen if we pulled the plugs on all the brain-dead in this country living in self-medicated Neverlands, getting fat off the unrelenting "freedom" to pilfer and destroy? Those primordial powermongers can be found in the schoolyard bullies; from the walls of Abu Ghraib to the halls of The Hague -- "Neidermeyer Nation," as Richard Macintosh describes it. (Welcome back, Richard!) Those very bullies can also be the seemingly normal guy next door, who turns out to be a serial killer in the likes of BTK, living a double life conveyed in a chilling essay by Charles Marowitz.

Our Swans Café menu turns to the decomposition of US contemporary art culture, in a conversation on film between two learned observers, David Walsh, arts editor of the World Socialist Web Site ( and playwright/Swanswright John Steppling. A taste of creativity follows in the form of a sing-along coined by Gerard Donnelly Smith for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with its coveted prize -- and it isn't the caribou... Art, rather than retreating into blandness and conformity, can be used as a tool for change. One tool to avoid, however, is the use and reuse of misquotations; case in point, an out of context and widely used George F. Kennan "quotation." Read the facts behind this quotation and, as always, check your sources!

Anna Kuros brings her wide-ranging observations on the meaning of freedom, all the way from Krakow, Poland, with a style and a keenness you do not want to miss. Indeed, what's the meaning of freedom, for the rich, for the poor? Is a Straussian like Walter Laqueur representative of what the West means by freedom? Does what has been done to Iraq in our names encompass freedom? Are all those wars past and present really about freedom? Has the opening of ANWR to oil drilling anything to do with freedom? Read Milo Clark, Nick DeVincenzo and Philip Greenspan, as they fittingly complement Kuros's essay.

Then a bit of dry humor with Richard Oxman and on to the blips that tackle quite a few amusing and all-too-serious topics, before ending with a collection of letters that includes another solid Steppling review of the last edition, as well as a long letter by Michael Roloff, a Handke scholar, on Charles Marowitz's take on theater criticism.

As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans.


America: Myths and Realities

Michael DeLang:  Facing Down The Demons - An Exercise in Self-Appraisal

Who am I? It should be an easy question to tackle. After all, who could possibly have access to more of the relevant information regarding this question than myself? Yet, when Gilles asked me to supply a short bio to accompany the article I had written for him, I found myself stumbling over the question, not having given it a thought for nearly thirty years. Which begged a further question; why the extended dearth of self-examination?   More...


Phil Rockstroh:  Some Call It Freedom But It Smells Like Death

It has been proclaimed: Worldwide, freedom is on the march. The footfalls of the marchers echo from the shopping malls of America to the bazaars of Syria. The resounding joy is captured on surveillance cameras monitoring the shooting sprees at the nation's high schools to the dying exhalations of Iraqis whose violent deaths have been chronicled on self-made DVDs, filmed and produced by amateur, US serviceman videographers;   More...


Richard Macintosh:   Neidermeyer Nation

The other night while watching a re-run of National Lampoon's classic film, "Animal House," I was struck (again) at the universality of the characters. We have all known some of these types and that is what makes the film. The casting was magnificent.   More...


Charles Marowitz:  BTK And The Double Life

The case of BTK (a.k.a. Dennis Lynn Rader), recently identified as the perpetrator of at least ten murders in Kansas over a period of some seventeen years, provides a useful case study both for sociopaths and certain generic American character-types.   More...


Art & Culture

John Steppling & David Walsh:  The Art And Politics Of Film

A Conversation at the Swans Café, initiated by John Steppling as he's felt for a long time that film art (more even than other mediums and forms) is rarely talked about seriously.   More...



Gerard Donnelly Smith:  The ANWR Sing-Along

Oil for my mama and oil for my papa,
grease for the wagon wheels
to carry us home.
Oil for the lantern and oil for the plow,
more grease for the gun barrel
to safeguard our home.   More...


How NOT to play The Game

Gilles d'Aymery:  Context And Accuracy - George F. Kennan's Famous "Quotation"

A "famous" quotation that is not a real quotation, after all. How people of integrity do a disservice to all...   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Anna Kuros:  The Unlearned Lesson Of Joseph K.

What does "freedom" mean? A keen view from Poland...   More...


Milo Clark:  Puzzlement - Walter Laqueur Four

Probing Walter Laqueur's works as displays of his mind provides a great deal of historical perspective and puzzlement. Why or how can or does a person so steeped in history end up where he does? Toilet training problems? Unrequited loves? Crossed wires in interpersonal relationships? Career frustrations? Too much piss and vinegar for breakfast?   More...


Nicholas DeVincenzo:  A Marine Son's Story

My father was an Italian immigrant and a marine who fought in World War II. He died a few years back and had a military funeral. As his oldest son I was presented with the flag that draped over his coffin. That flag means a lot to me, and I know what it meant to my father.   More...


Philip Greenspan:  Scores for Wars: Where Have Wars Taken The U.S.?

The one activity in which the U.S. has consistently been involved is WAR. Every war has been extremely costly, but each was claimed at the time to be worth its cost. . . . As always, who profits?   More...


Milo Clark:  Spring In Mind

Confusion's rampant! Into the fifth year of W and second year of Iraq, I rest confused. A friend called me a sarcastic cynic hung between irony and enlightenment. Okay, then what?   More...


Humor with a Zest

Richard Oxman:  Spreading Democracy Instead Of Gonorrhea

As we approach the end of March we can observe many frightful anniversaries associated with what Teddy Roosevelt lovingly referred to as the "Great Adventure" -- highlights which carry heavy parallels with current abominations, and hark to the Hell that is our future.   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #15

"Atmosphère ! Atmosphère ! Est-ce que j'ai une gueule d'atmosphère ?"
—Arletty, Hôtel du Nord, 1938

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk: From Frank Rich to Cassandra, reckless driving, and driving under the influence of porn; from American theocracy to Venezuelan traitors; more blather about a viable Palestinian State and Bill Blum on Kennan, with a few tidbits about Boonville in between.   More...


Letters to the Editor


On Philip Greenspan's thoughts on war and elections; creating a progressive movement in Canada; shock and awe regarding Marowitz's support of Havel; support from the coiner of "corporism;" and John Steppling's wintery grumblings on our last issue, including "who dressed Dick Cheney for his visit to Krakow?"   More...



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Created: April 2, 2005