Note from the Editor

The only real news and change worth noting, besides the long series of cadavers, is the Opinion Page of the Sunday New York Times. That's the extent of the dreadfulness which has characterized these past few weeks. In the halls of mirrors where deception is the only weapon bouncing its shining armor with staggering regularity in the news cycle, our national bloviators keep singing the swirling faith-based lullabies to quiet the oversized asylum that the U.S. of Amnesia has long become. The reality show that is Iraq having had poor Nielsen ratings of late, we are served a plethora of feel-happy feel-sad stories; created realities certainly but divorced from a reality-based world -- a 21st century liberation theology -- father of solar deliriums, in the words of Octavio Paz -- in which the emperor has no clothes and the giant clown applauds with smiling contentment.

Want your dose of sanity? Enter the reality-based world of Swans. Go explore a few signposts in Manhattan and the Deep South of Phil Rockstroh's youth; then walk the Lewis & Clark trail of misery (who else but another Clark to tell the story?); get stock of the US "culture of life" through Jan Baughman's experience; move on to Part II of the conversation on politics and film between David Walsh of the WSWS and John Steppling; stay within the realm of culture -- and film -- with Charles Marowitz; discover, or revisit, thanks to Louis Proyect, the extraordinary history of the Wobblies; examine the meaning of Democracy with Michael Doliner, and a demonstration of courage by Richard Macintosh; look at Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe through Joe Davison's clear mind; ask yourself with Philip Greenspan whether the state of Israel achieved the goals that its sponsors claimed; and discover with Gerard Donnelly Smith as your guide how profiteers and PR walk hand in hand from Bolivia to Iraq. Of course, there's John Steppling's review to enjoy as well as other letters; and don't forget the devilish blips that crossed the Martian desk. No mirrors here...

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


America: Myths and Realities

Phil Rockstroh:  Of Margaret Mitchell, Blind Willie McTell, Wonder Bread, New York City Real Estate, And The Road To Proto-Fascism

Signposts can lie. Names can be deceptive. And these everyday -- deceptively trivial -- misapprehensions can diminish our lives. A sampling of such: The Manhattan neighborhood where I reside, the East Village, is a misnomer...its name was created by real estate hustlers...   More...


Milo Clark:  Genetic Or Cultural?

Among variables consistent with history may be humankind's inhumanities, not just to other humans, but toward every aspect of the systems within which we live. We, meaning us, are killers, destroyers, exterminators and terminators. Other than that, we, meaning us, can be nice folks now and then, even much of the time.   More...


Jan Baughman:   Another Day In The Life

There has been much talk about death lately, though probably no more deaths than usual have occurred -- 8,000 people die from AIDS every day; 2,740 from malaria, 24,000 from hunger; countless others from the war in Iraq -- nameless, faceless victims of the no-body count policy, and more troops dying since the mission was accomplished. Just another day in the life...   More...


Art & Culture

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

John, I recognize you may be anxious, legitimately enough, to plunge into a discussion of particular filmmakers, but I am a little reluctant to abandon quite yet a consideration of some of the broader issues. In any event, making sense of individual artists and trends is difficult for me without arriving at an overall picture, if only in outline form, of artistic and cultural problems and their relation to social evolution.   More...


Charles Marowitz:  Huxley In Tinsel Town

Of all the literati that wended their way towards Hollywood in the late 1930s and '40s, the most incongruous was Aldous Huxley.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Louis Proyect:   Wobblies!

Wobblies: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World is edited by Paul Buhle and Nicole Schulman. Buhle is a long-time chronicler of the American radical movement and popular culture.   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Michael Doliner:  The Nature Of Democracy

Democracy, that much praised but rarely defined ideal, seems to be everywhere these days. And it's a slippery devil. Geoffrey Wheatcraft in the International Herald Tribune reminds us that Hitler won a fair election and was therefore a product of democracy.   More...


Richard Macintosh:   Courage IV

Staff Sergeant Camillo Mejia got tired of all the killing. He was saddened by the deaths within his own squad as he was of the innocent Iraqi citizens killed in what he saw as an illegal war. The war not only made him sad and tired, it made him sick!   More...


Joe Davison:  Zimbabwe's Course

As widely predicted by commentators, Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF swept the boards in Zimbabwe's recent parliamentary elections (held on Thursday, 31 March). In the weeks and days leading up to the elections a veritable deluge of vitriol and condemnation was leveled against Mugabe, confirming his status as international pariah and one he shares with the likes of Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jung Il, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, the Palestinian people in their entirety, Iran; in short anyone who dares offer resistance to the world order as determined by plutocrats in Washington, D.C.   More...


Philip Greenspan:  The Dream That Turned Into A Nightmare

The state of Israel, in existence for almost 57 years, is relatively new among major states. In that short period of time it has accomplished a great deal. It has hoisted itself to the ranks of a major power and seems to be a phenomenal success. So they claim. But has it achieved the goals that its sponsors proclaimed for it?   More...


Activism under the Radar Screen

Gerard Donnelly Smith:  Boycotting The Hegemony: Part Three, Bechtel II

Last time, putting my foot in my mouth, I optimistically advised my readers to divest. If I have any readers left -- who like the French reader might think me "pebble-minded" -- I beg forgiveness.   More...



Rainer Maria Rilke:  Letters to a Young Poet (Letter Nine)

My dear Mr. Kappus, during this time that has passed without a letter, I have been partly traveling, partly so busy that I couldn't write.   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #16

"Nobody takes criticism more to heart than professional complainers."
—Gail Collins

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk: from dead white men and their grand accomplishments; to a kiss and some handshakes; popetry and poetry; and a few tidbits about Boonville and the AVA in between.   More...


Letters to the Editor


More fan mail for Phil Rockstroh; some musings from France; our review from Krakow's John Steppling, and thanks to our volunteer force of fact-finding readers: on BTK and the George Kennan misquotation.   More...



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Created: April 14, 2005