Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Democracy Now! and my interview with Jess

Good evening. This evening we have an interview with Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Before we get to that, we'll kick things off with Democracy Now! like usual.

FEMA: This Is the "Most Significant Natural Disaster to Hit the U.S."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making unprecedented preparations to house at least 1 million people in the region whose houses were damaged or destroyed. FEMA's Bill Lokey called the hurricane "the most significant natural disaster to hit the United States."

So we got a national disaster on our hands. Good thing we got a National Guard, right? Right?

6,000 Local National Guard Members In Iraq
While the National Guard has been taking part in rescue operations and law enforcement, some 6,000 members of the Louisiana and Mississippi Guard have been forced to watch the catastrophe from 7,000 miles away in Iraq. 40 percent of Mississippi's National Guard force and 35 percent of Louisiana's is in Iraq. Over the past eight months 23 members of the Louisiana National Guard have died in Iraq - only New York's Guard unit has suffered as many deaths.

"Woopsie!" giggles the Bully Boy. The costs of the invasion/occupation continue to mount and we're the ones paying the cost in this country, not the Bully Boy. Oh sure, he had to cut his month long vacation two days short. Boo hoo.

His failed leadership leads to the poverty level in this country rising for the fifth year in a row. 9/11 happened under his watch. We're in an illegal war because of him. When do we start speaking the truth and saying, "That guy ain't cut out for the job?"

Elaine's covering the same two items so be sure and read her take on them.

Now here's my interview with Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

So Jess, any ground rules?

Jess: Do I need 'em?

Well there's a question Jim & Ty both suggested I ask you?

Jess: Well fire away.

Well there's a rumor floating around that you're seeing someone.

Jess: Is there a rumor floating? I haven't seen it float past me.

Look, there it is, in the sky! It says Jess and Ava are dating.

Jess: No comment.

No comment? If you were dating Ava, who would know?

Jess: Well I guess I'd know and I'd guess Ava would too.

Because the thing is, Dona and C.I. aren't speculating and Jim says that's proof that you're dating Ava because if you were dating and keeping it quiet, Ava would tell Dona and C.I.

Jess: Maybe I'd tell Dona and C.I. Did you think of that?

So you really aren't going to answer?

Jess: Ava and I went to a vigil for Cindy Sheehan together and I think that's what started the rumors.

So there's nothing to them?

Jess: You should ask Ava.

Well I've already interviewed her.

Jess: Is this what this whole interview's going to be like? Forget it, this interview is over!

For real?

Jess: No, Dona passed on Candy Perfume Boy's interview with Ira Glass and I thought I'd have some fun like Glass does.

Okay, we'll move on. I really liked the thing you wrote about your parents and was wondering what they thought about it and what sort of response the thing got?

Jess: My folks loved it. They're the easiest people in the world to please though. You just have to be honest with them and they're proud. Readers and members seem to have enjoyed it.

Rebecca brags about your mother, about both your parents, but she really likes your mom.

Jess: I know. She called her up last week. I'm like, "Isn't she supposed to be on vacation?" But then I thought about Rebecca and the phone. But yeah, she thinks my mom's pretty cool and my mom feels the same way about her. Your mom's pretty cool too, I'm going to take her up on the offer to stay with you guys when I'm in town to see a game.

Yeah, Ma's pretty cool. You know, because your parents help out some time by going through the British papers, Ma's saying if she made a strong pot of coffee she could probably help out like that too. Like check out Australia or something.

Jess: She does realize how late those sessions go, right?

I keep telling her. I'm like, "Ma, you can forget church the next morning!"

Jess: Well if she wants to help out sometime, let her know we'd love to have her.

It's really a group effort over there and I figured that I'd ask you how that happened?

Jess: Cool. Okay, well the point was that we were doing this together. We were talking about it, Ty, Jim and I for awhile. About needing to put something out there. And Dona was in classes with us. One time she was around when Jim was talking about it and -- am I going into too much detail here?

No, this is cool.

Jess: Okay, so Dona's there and she says something like, "Talk, talk, talk and never do." You know she can be pretty straight spoken.


Jess: So that's when Jim said that she should be part of it. And we kept talking about it and talking about other stuff. I think that's when we all first saw that thing at The Common Ills about how they wouldn't let a reporter report on the campaigns because her husband was involved with the Democratic campaign but then they let Robert Kagan come on and give a commentary on John Kerry's campaign even though his wife works for Dick Cheney. Jim and Dona were original readers. They came on board with the "Here Come the Madmen." And then Jim's telling Ty and me that we've got to read that the next day because this was when it was still all rah-rah. And we were against the invasion/occupation so right away The Common Ills was like all of our site. We'd e-mail about this or that, politics or music and C.I. would e-mail back these really long e-mails. Back then, that could happen. If you e-mailed a 5K e-mail, you got back a 5K e-mail. Then there was a sort of teach in on campus and I'm being vague here on purpose. And we're there, Jim, Ty, Dona, Ava and me and there are some strong statements and all but there's this one person speaking and we're getting pissed at Jim because we're trying to listen and Jim keeps whispering, "That's C.I.! I know that's C.I.!" He just wouldn't shut up about it. And then later on, Jim goes up and talks for a bit and then says, "You're C.I. right?"
And C.I.'s just sort of staring at Jim and Jim says, "You do The Common Ills." And I guess it was the first time anyone had made the connection because the face gave it away.
So it was like, "Man, we've got C.I. here if we're ever going to do something it should be now."
So that's what happened.

Now explain about Ava.

Jess: Ava was friends with Dona, this is what you're talking about?


Jess: And we really hadn't thought of her being involved because she's really nice and she's really sweet but she was pretty shy and we can all be pretty loud and pretty opinionated. But Dona said, like a week or two before, that if we ever do this, Ava's a part of it because they're friends and roommates.

She's also very pretty.

Jess: She is very pretty. And professors would be steering her towards communication classes because she's obviously got the looks to make it on TV. This was a difficult time for her because she was not from the area and I'm being vague here too because I don't want to give out her business. So let's just say it was a bit of cultural shock for her. So she was getting her feet and feeling herself out and everyone just thought "Oh, she's nice." I mean us, I mean professors.

And then she ended up surprising everyone.

Jess: Man did she. We were doing that first issue and what I remember is C.I. was not going to take part in the TV review because C.I. didn't watch television. And then we were going over the piece and C.I. was like, "Wait, wait!" So C.I. starts adding some stuff and Ava knows television because of . . . We'll leave it at that. And so Ava starts tossing out some stuff. And we had a review. And then the next time it was like that too. And then it ended up being Ava and C.I.'s thing because they were doing the feminist critique from the beginning. If you read those early reviews, anything that stands out, where we're taking on the culture in TV which is one standard for men and another for women, that was Ava and C.I.'s contribution. And Jim was, he admits this, a little dismissive at first. But when it got turned over to them, and they didn't want credit and weren't crediting for being the ones writing them for the longest time, Jim saw what they were doing and realized, to his credit, that they were doing something that wasn't being done everywhere else and that with no one editing them, they were funny as well as offering strong social commentary. And what that did for Ava was help her find her footing and I mean everyone, not just us, but professors too, have pretty much had to re-evalute her written work because she's off on her own level.

It can be spooky the way they know where they're going. Like when we're all discussing something, they are always pretty much on the same page. And like it turns out C.I. knew her aunt and her mother.

Jess: Yeah, that was weird. Small world and all. But yeah, they're a good writing team and when nothing else is working out we always know "Well if nothing else, Ava and C.I. will turn out a review that will keep the readers talking."

Which is a lot of pressure?

Jess: I know. I was really surprised when they did their thing on the Bully Boy's speech to the nation because we're reading that and all and we're blown away and they really didn't want to write it and they really didn't think they'd have much to say on it. And I know from both of them that there are times when they are freaking out because while we can slide on other features, if they slide, the TV review is always the piece we get the most e-mail on, it's like the whole issue is a waste with readers.

Before we go on, I want to ask about the credit because that's something that you guys decided early on.

Jess: Yeah. We didn't want it to be "This is by Ty, this is by Dona, this is by Jess, this is by Jim, this is by Ava" and that sort of thing. We wanted to do it as a group. And, you know this, when someone helps out, they can have just as much input as any of us. There's a lot of signaling out in the press and our point was "We are The Third Estate Sunday Review." All of us.

But then Jim goes in and puts in credits for the editorials.

Jess: Because they get copied and pasted elsewhere. And Jim noticed that C.I. was putting credit on it over at The Common Ills. It just makes sense to put it in when we do that since it does get noted elsewhere.

I got my first e-mail from someone in France who saw an editorial at some sort of Amazon like site. Someone had gone in and on some DVD, instead of reviewing it, they'd copied and pasted the editorial.

Jess: Yeah. That's The Common Ills effect. The community, and I'm a part of it, really tries to get the word out.

I wish C.I. hadn't imposed the whole "Don't push the site" rule.

Jess: Me too. But I mean, I help Ava and C.I. with the e-mails and there are so many. And there's also the fact, and you know this, members get really mad when they feel that The Common Ills is being ignored.

Right. I had tried to start a petition to get people to avoid sites that were ignoring The Common Ills. C.I. e-mailed me about that and was nice but firm. Telling me that wasn't the purpose and that The Common Ills was a resource/review. That's why I started up. That's why Cedric started up, to be proactive and get the word out. Do you guys think about quitting?

Jess: Me, I think it about it after every edition. Jim loves the chaos and we've done some strong things because of it but staying up all night and still being up when the sun's coming out. And then we distribute them on Sunday around campus, print editions. I don't mind giving my Saturday but the way it works out, I've lost my Sunday too. I don't know how you, Rebecca, Betty, C.I. and Elaine do it. Because you guys are blogging on Monday.

And C.I.'s blogging on Sunday.

Jess: I know. I mean, you know this, before we got done Sunday morning, C.I. was functioning on one eye. The other one was too blurry to see out of. And we all try to be protective of C.I.'s health and take that into consideration but, well you know, you were on the phone.

Right, everyone was going, look go on over, do your entry and get some sleep. But C.I.'s like a work horse or something. Which is why we insisted on going over after to do the entry with C.I. And then me and Jim wasted time on sports and you know when that entry went up, Dona called us on that.

Jess: Right. She goes, "Oh, I'm sorry, did you think you were helping out at The Daily Howler?"

Cause Bob will talk sports there.

Jess: Yeah. And that bores the hell out of Dona. She likes The Daily Howler but when he's off on his sports, she's always got a pointed remark or two.

Cedric told me he feels bad because he spent a bit of time on the phone with us Saturday and we were all helping him with his speech he had to give on his friend Vern who died.

Jess: Now that time wasn't wasted. No one would say that. We were all wanting to help. And that includes just listening. That's part of being a community. I'll call him tonight and check on him but he doesn't need to feel guilty. And the two things that we were working on that never came together, that happened long after Cedric was off the phone and that's part of the reason it went on so long.

I told him that too. But call him tonight because so far Elaine, C.I. and I have told him that and he's still feeling guilty.

Jess: I will.

What's one thing you'd like to see different at The Third Estate Sunday Review?

Jess: Good question. Besides the hours, I'd like to see us integrate music more. There's a tendency sometimes, I think anyway, to repost one of Kat's entries and then think we covered music. I'd like to see more music roundtables and am glad we did the one on Carole King. I also like it when a song works it's way into an editorial or a feature, you know the lyrics? I think that adds a dimension and I think music's really important. Did you see C.I.'s thing this afternoon?

Quoting U2?

Jess: Yeah. I mean, that's something I just like. Music's a part of all our lives and I'd like to see that reflected more. That's also why when time runs short with the news review, I'm always saying, "Cut me, cut anyone, but don't cut Kat." I think we need that in there.

You've got the Cass Elliott Solo Collection playing in the background, I can hear it.

Jess: Yeah, I've always got music playing.

Last week, I interviewed Ty and I've also interview Dona, Jim, Ava and now --

Jess: You've just done your worst interview.

No. No, this has probably been the longest one.

Jess: Next week, you're interviewing Elaine. I read your thing yesterday and I've got to tell you that I'm sad too. I hope she'll still help from time to time at The Third Estate Sunday Review. I really wish she'd start her own site.

I know. Like I said yesterday, Rebecca and I were talking about that. And I mean, Rebecca and C.I. have talked about Elaine before and all so I'd heard she was really cool and all that but it wasn't until she was subbing for Rebecca that I really got how cool she was, you know?

Jess: Yeah. She's pretty amazing. And she doesn't take any crap. That's got to be the common thread between her and Rebecca!

You think she'll reconsider doing her own site?

Jess: Ava's asking her to. She's saying, "How about you just do a paragraph a day?" And I mean I'd check her out. I love the "Peace Quotes" and all the things she provides. And we need more voices.

Can you imagine what would happen if everyone who was a community member at The Common Ills started their own site? That would be so awesome.

Jess: Well, Krista and Gina are also trying to talk her into doing something like their round-robin if she's not comfortable with putting stuff up at a site. And she's got something coming up in their Friday round-robin that she's writing for community membrs, a message, just to tell them thank you for all their support.

I didn't know that. I always read the round-robin but now I have another reason. So what did you hope I'd ask or fear I'd ask?

Jess: I'll pass on fear, but I hoped you'd ask about music and you did.

You play guitar.

Jess: Yeah and I can do bass too.

Rebecca thinks you could be the next Jack Johnson.

Jess: He's cool but she's inflating my abilities.

Hey, can we rerun one of Isaiah's comics Sunday?

Jess: I'm with you on that. I think it would be a great idea.

Well then I'll go ahead and close this by saying thank you for talking with me.

Jess: No problem. Thank you for all your help over at The Third Estate Sunday Review.