Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Democracy Now! and my interview with Elaine

Good evening. I'm starting late and you'll understand why. We'll start with Democracy Now! and then move on to Elaine's interview. I'm kind of stunned in a happy way so I really don't have anything to add to the two stories from Democracy Now! They pretty much speak for themselves.

Toxic Water Being Pumped Back Into River & Lake
In environmental news -- officials are warning that it could take years to restore clean drinking water in New Orleans. Mayor Nagin's office said E coli bacteria had been found in the flood water, which is contaminated by sewage, dead bodies and toxic chemicals washed out of oil refineries, hospitals and other industrial plants. According to ABC News, flood water in the city's Ninth Ward contains 45,000 times as much bacteria as considered safe for swimming. To make matters worse, 530 of the city's sewage treatment plants remain inoperable. The Army Corps of Engineers has begun pumping the contaminated water into Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality told reporters Tuesday that there really isn't any alternative to pumping the water into the lake or river.

New Orleans Police Accused of Beating/Detaining Reporters
Reporters Without Borders has issued a warning about police violence against journalists working in New Orleans. According to the group, on Sept. 1 police threatened a reporter and photographer from the Toronto Daily Star at gunpoint because they were seen covering a clash between police and individuals identified by police as looters. When police realized the photographer had snapped photos, they threw him to the ground, grabbed his cameras and removed the memory cards containing about 350 photographs. His press card was also torn from him. When the photographer asked for his photographs back, police officers threatened to hit him. Police also detained a photographer from the New Orleans-based Times Picayune after he was seen covering a shoot-out involving the police. Police smashed all of his equipment on the ground.

Okay, let's get started with this. You've been subbing for Rebecca at her site Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. You did like 6 weeks of that and finished it up last Friday. So now it's like you're going cold turkey or something, right?

I wouldn't put it that way. By the way, how are you?

Oh, fine. How was your day?

Honestly a bit too long, like the whole summer.

Yeah, it's really dragged on this. And been hot like crazy.

Crotch rot worries?

Nah, got it taken care of. Know how to keep my junk in working order.

Good to know.

So come on, didn't you like filling in for Rebecca?

There were parts I really loved. Especially after the second or third week.

Okay, talk about those.

Well, I enjoyed the e-mails. It was interesting to read what issues and concerns people had. I enjoyed being able to do the peace quotes.

I loved that. You'd end every entry with a quote about peace. It was a good way to go out and it was a good way to remind us of what is important. What else?

I liked working out items with you from Democracy Now! We'd discuss and debate which ones to choose.

That was fun. How can you walk away from that? What was the bad stuff?

Facing the computer screen, Monday through Friday, knowing I'd have to say something and that people were counting on it. Rebecca, of course. Her readers too. Then the whole issue of if I wrote something especially lame, what if they dropped Rebecca's site for good?

But everyone liked you.

Well, not everyone. There were three who hated everything I did.

Were they community members?


So screw 'em. What was it, they were pro-war?

Yes. "How dare you say bring them home, don't you know we have to stay there! It's our responsibility."

Our "responsibility," the Iraqi's curse.

That about sums it up.

Did you have fun with The Third Estate Sunday Review?

Yes. That was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed helping out. It's rush, rush, rush and I can see why some get a headache as they worry that Sunday morning will roll around, the sun will rise and there will be nothing to put up. Jim thrives on it. He likes riding a wave of chaos. But Dona's someone who wants, and will enforce, clear deadlines. Those are probably the two extreme poles in the group and the dynamic of interest is to watch the activity of others between.

What about Ava & C.I.'s TV reviews? You had wanted to observe that.

Yes, I did. I was really curious about that. I know C.I. obviously so the humor in the reviews wasn't surprising but I wanted to see how they took a show and reviewed it. Ava's adding in humor, C.I.'s adding in humor. They've got notes they took on what happened but, most of all, they have their comedic bits. A joke that's really a group of jokes. And they're trying to convey the show and work in their, lack of better word, stand up. I love their reviews. I do understand why they're seldom pleased with them.


They've got a number of points they want to make, some serious, some funny. It's the sort of thing that either would really want to work on but instead it's something they get 20 or so minutes to turn out. They really would prefer more time but there's not more time. So, in the words of Kat, it is what it is.

What's your favorite review by them?

Oh, that's a hard one. For humor probably One Tree Hill, The OC and Smallville. I love the points they make in the one where they take a look at Desperate Housewives and Charmed. For the same reason, and the humor, I love their review of What I Like About You. But I mean, Make Room for Bully, where they take on Bully Boy's press conference was inspired. The Law & Order review was hilarious too, where they were kids trapped at home on a bad Friday night.

Their thing on Veronica Mars was pretty funny.

Yes, it was. I'd rank Prison Break right up there, one of their bests as well.

Jim's been worrying a lot about the pressure that's put on Ava & C.I. to be funny in those reviews or angry or anything that's memorable but I think most people really respond to the whole take a pin and poke a hole in the male ego aspect of their reviews. As a psychologist, what do you think?

The pressure is there. They don't deny it. They also have internalized it which is why they think everyone is awful. They hate their Prison Break review right now. But this time next month, they'll turn out something equally funny but say it's not and wish they could write something like Prison Break again.

Why do you think that is?

Well it's the pressure from what goes up and it's also the pressure of the writing experience at The Third Estate Sunday Review. If you'll think about it, they had the review written before midnight this time. So they were rested and able to participate without that hanging over them. But then that review is lost in cyber space and the sun's up and everyone wants to go to bed. You've got them yawning, and from Ava and C.I.'s seperate accounts, falling asleep and jerking back awake while they wrote it. That's a lot of pressure to come up with a review under. And for it to be funny. But if you don't understand why they hate their review of Prison Break right now, that's why they hate it. You or I read it and laugh and think, "Good point." They look at it and it's "Oh my God, do you remember the stress we were under on that?"

They're really creative.

They are. There's a lot of creativity in the community. In the last few days alone, for instance, we've had Betty's hilarious post about Thomas Friedman buying a shorty robe and then, today, we had Kat's review of Joan Baez's Bowery Songs.

I got that CD!

Me too. I really enjoy it. Do you?

When I can hear it. Dad's pretty muck jacked it.

I hear that and I think, "That's great." The way you or Jess can share music with your parents.

Let me know if this is out of line, but you have a brother and that's it.

Right. Our parents died when we were both teenagers. My brother was just starting college and I was still in school. It was Party of Two instead of Party of Five. I went down a variety of avenues trying to make sense of it and then finally ended up majoring psyche.

But Rebecca and C.I. are like family, right?

Good point. Yes, they are. They've been in my life forever and we've shared a great deal. We're at a stage in society, our country, where we're being pushed into standard roles, so that's a good point.

Can you explain that?

In the nineties, I mean you hear all this talk about a reaction against the sixties and while that's there, there's also a reaction against the nineties. I don't mean this in a "You're a kid!" kind of way but I don't think a lot of people realize how much we've lost in a decade. Or half a decade. The last five years have been very destructive to our nation. The vast number of families in this country are non-traditional ones. That may mean a single parent or two people living together or friends as family. Of course it means same-sex couples. The "till death" couples with children aren't a majority. But Bully Boy brought many illusions with him and that was one. We've had wars on science, wars on truth, wars on reality, wars on women. But the one I always note is the war on non-traditional relationships. Rebecca and C.I. are family. Another friend no longer is. She married in 1996 and we were still family then. She went over to the dark side in 2001. After 9/11 in fact. She sees none of her friends now and begs off with "I have to focus on mmy family." That's her and her husband. They have no children. There's a desperation to it because he cheats on her and she knows it. In another time, I believe, she would have left him. The war on women combines with the push for stereotypes. But it only works because you have people willing to buy into it.

The 90s seem way cooler than the way things are today. Or the way they were this time a year ago. I think things are changing.

Me too.

But like music has sucked and sucked. I was never going "Nice implants, Britney Spears! It don't matter that you can't sing!" and I wasn't into any of the boy bands. I think that stuff put a nation, at least young people, to sleep. It was mall songs for mall rats with nothing but mall worries.

Well the 90s kicked off with alternative music and that was a really free scene. It wasn't pushed by the lables the way the Disney Kids were. It came up on it's own. No one saw Kurt Cobain on the Mickey Mouse Club and said, "Let's create a band around him." No one saw Tori Amos and thought, "Put her in a push up bra, get her some writers who know 'beats' and we've got a hit maker." It was about the music. The labels were playing catch up. They'd water it down with each progressive year; however, it began due to the conditions of the 80s which was one long beer commercial, sang by one bald or balding man after another. I love Bright Eyes and Jack Johnson, for instance. I don't hear them on the radio which is why I don't usually listen to the radio for music. In fact, if it weren't for Pacifica, I wouldn't listen to any radio.

I like Pacifica too. I wonder how many people listen online to them because I get a lot of e-mails about that. And now that Ruth's reviewing their programming, I really get a lot of e-mails.

And we've got Democracy Now! which just grows and grows each day, the audience for it.

I found out about it from The Common Ills and now I can't imagine not watching. I'll listen but I prefer to watch it on TV. Ma and Dad were like, "We've told you about Democracy Now! for years!" and I was like, "But it wasn't cool coming from you guys." :D

I don't understand a great deal about links and I don't pretend to but one things I was happy to help you with when I was filling in for Rebecca, and it's something I'm proud of, was that if they have any power, links, I was using that power to note something I really believed in.

I think they have power. And we've talked about this before so I should explain, we're talking about in terms of making something popular online. But we both agreed that even if it didn't, we were using our space to say, "Hey, here's something really cool, really wild that will do you good to know about." I like doing that. I'm glad you did too.

I did.

So don't you want to do it again?

Mike, here's the thing, I can't blog every day. I have too much going on.

If you explained it that way, I bet people would understand. I know from the people who e-mail me that you really spoke to a lot of people. If it was just twice a week like Betty usually does, it would be worthwhile. I really wish you'd think about doing your own site.

Okay, Mike, you persuaded me. I'll do it.

For real?

What should I call it?

Mmm. Elaine's Page of Peace!

How about if I called it Like Maria said Paz?

That'd be cool. Cause Maria's always saying "Paz," right?


Are you really going to do it?

You want the truth?


I already have. I started it yesterday.

No way! For real?

Yes, for real. Maria, C.I., Ava and Jess know.

I didn't hear about it.

We were keeping a lid on it so that you could have the scoop tonight.

You're not shitting me, are you?

No. C.I. linked to it on the permalinks last night at The Common Ills.

Hold up. I want to pull this up.


You did start your own site! It's really cool looking.

I wasn't impressed with templates, to be honest. I wanted something a little more Laura Asheley. I ende dup going with that one because it reminded me of a Calvin Klein dress I have, it has sharp, crips lines and a simplicity to it.

It looks really nice and it is called Like Maria Said Paz. I can't wait to read it. There are two entries.

Right. I started it yesterday. Don't expect much. Don't expect it to be daily either.

That is so cool. So did the e-mails help?

They did. Everyone wrote nice e-mails, full of encouragement. Give yourself credit too, Mike, because you are the one who would not lay off on this.

Thank you. Thank you for doing the site, Like Maria Said Peace, and thank you for letting me have the scoop.

You had been spearheading this and pushing it so when I made up my mind, it seemed that you should get the scoop.

Well thank you to everyone who e-mailed Elaine. I feel like I should say something like weighty and maybe I will tomorrow if it comes to me.

You're shocked right now.

I am.

Okay, let me help you out. Last week you interviewed Jess. Before that yinterviewed Ty, Dona, Jim, and Ava. So who's next Wednesday?

Cedric. C.I. said Cedric's moved his site so he needs more attention to be sure everyone's familiar with the new location. So me and my buddy Cedric will be keeping it real here next week.

That sounds like a great interview. I look forward to reading it.

Well thank you, Elaine, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz.

Thank you, Mike.