Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Interview with Cedric and Democracy Now! Headlines

Good evening, we'll start with Democracy Now! and by the time I post this, the debate will probably be over but I hope you're listening to Amy Goodman moderate the debate between George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens. I recognize the hosts thanks to Ruth and her strong praise for WBAI's Christmas Coup Players. I always mean to put a thank you up here to Ruth for that. (I did e-mail her a thank you.) Christmas Coup Players is a comedy radio program that airs the first Thursday of every month and it is a great show that will make you laugh like crazy. So listen in. Or go to their website and you can hear their stuff too.

"College Not Combat/Relief Not War" is something a student is talking about. This is what I see and what Maria's talked about when she's been quoted at The Common Ills. "This is" the student's explaining that high schoolers are overwhelming against the war. That's reality and people are not prepared for it if they're playing "Let's send more troops" in some little narrow mind way of "improving." This movement is going to slap the hawks upside the face with surprise because they don't seem to get what real people feel about the war. I saw it in my high school, I'm seeing it at my college.

Lot of stuff tonight so let me get started because we've got an interview with Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix on top of everything else.

Baghdad Suicide Car Bombing Kills 114
In Iraq, a suicide car bombing has killed at least 114 Shiite day laborers in Baghdad. 220 people were injured. It is believed to be the second deadliest bombing of the war. The explosion went off at 7 a.m. as the day laborers gathered in search of work. Meanwhile another 17 Iraqis were killed after they were dragged from their homes in the middle of the night and shot dead. The executions occurred in the town of Taji.

Do you get how much violence is going down? I called C.I. this morning because I loved the latest on sweaty jock strap sporting Todd S. Purdum ("NYT: Todd S. Purdum "cupping" the story") and it was crazy getting C.I. on the phone. When we were finally talking, the line goes out. When I got C.I. back on the phone I was talking about what I was hearing on Democracy Now! and this item right here and C.I. goes it is like the Guatamalization of Iraq. C.I. goes that people who cannot grasp John Negroponte and why he is in Iraq are either historically ignorant or willfully stupid. The connection was so bad and about to break up again so I just talked about the Purdum thing and asked Dad about it when I got home and Dad goes this is like how we kept pouring money into Guatemala for years and years while setting up puppet regimes and they had death squads and killed the people and it was all about American business and stuff like that. Made me think about some of the stuff Naomi Klein had written.

U.S. Expands Attacks on Sunni Strongholds
In Northern Iraq, U.S. forces have widened their attacks on Sunni strongholds in the region. Over the weekend, U.S. and Iraqi forces carried out a major assault on the city of Tal Afar. On Tuesday the U.S. attacked the city of Haditha.

And this is what Dad says is really to pay attention to. This is where we just go wild on the whole country side and breed even more hostility and begat more violence. (Don't think I'm a smarty, Dad used "begat.") This isn't the Iraq they sold you. This isn't the "Thank you, thank you, America for coming here." They just want us out and who can blame them?

Sen. Robert Byrd Calls for Withdrawal From Iraq
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the Senate's most senior member, Robert Byrd called for the Bush administration to withdraw from Iraq and bring the troops home. Byrd said "We cannot continue to commit billions in Iraq when our own people are so much in need, not only now, in New Orleans, but all across America for everything from education to health care to homeland security to securing our own borders."

In the House you got some smart members but in the Senate I'm really only seeing Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy. I'm seeing a lot of cowards. And I may be the only one to say this and it may piss off some people but I'll throw it out. John Edwards sounds like a broken record. What was he? A one-term senator. He needs to stop repeating the same stuff from this summer. If he were smart, he'd be speaking out against the war and trying to build up some Howard Dean momentum. We watched the convention, my friends and I, over at Tony's house and everyone, Tony's parents, my friends, Tony and me were all just like "What the hell?" as John Edwards played war hawk. It was like he was trying to out Bully Boy the Bully Boy. Then he vanishes until everyone's complaining about the hits Kerry's taking from the GOP convention.

John Kerry and Ted Kennedy are our senators so I may be more inclined to support Kerry than some people. But Senator Kerry needs to get his act together to. As the junior senator, he should be backing up Ted Kennedy on ending the war.

Good for Senator Byrd.

CounterRecruiter has found that Recruiters are at the Astrodome in Houston attempting to sign up evacuees. So check that out and let's get started with my buddy Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix.

First off, thank you Cedric. I really appreciate you're doing this interview. We were the newbies and now it's Elaine. :D

Cedric: I'll try to be interesting but no promises.

You'll be great. Okay, the first thing I want to ask you is a question from Lee Ann. She wrote in and wanted to know why you started your site and how you came up with the title Cedric's Big Mix?

Well the thing is, good question Lee Ann, the thing is that it really goes together, why I started and why the title. I'm a Common Ills community member and I think it's a great site and you had started your site because there were attacks on the community and there were people who could promote it but didn't. You got really mad about that.

Yeah, I had a petition going around until C.I. asked me to stop it and, by the way, I don't link to that site. I won't link to that site. I think that site is full of shit. I won't say the site's name because C.I. would hit the roof but it's a site that the community, even now, feels like we've done a lot to support -- "done" cause we don't go there anymore even when C.I. links -- so I stopped the petition and Wally and C.I. and Rebecca and I think Maria too were all talking to me about that and saying The Common Ills was a resource/review and we really didn't have time for that. So like Wally goes "Man, you can sit around griping or you can do something." That's why I started this site.

And I'm reading your site and I'm thinking about why you started because it was up here and it was out in the community and we knew what was going on. And I go back a ways with the community.

Right, like you are old school! You picked a winner for The Common Ills "Year In Review."

Which is funny because I wrote this entry defending my choice, I picked Eminem's "Mosh," and I was writing this thing about why it should get an award and I didn't think it would. I was making a case for it but thinking, "Well it's Eminem and that will kill it being noted." But C.I. put up my words and my choice and I always thought C.I. probably hates Eminem. Later on, I did ask C.I. and C.I. was all "Not hate, but not really care for." And I knew that. I knew it before I made my choice. This to me is what is so great about The Common Ills. It's a community. If we are pressing an issue, it's up there. It may not be what C.I. wanted to address or what was planned, but it's a community and every member can have a voice if they use it. There are issues I've brought up there too. Things that I felt were important and that I didn't feel got a hearing elsewhere. They'll get up there. They'll go out to the community. So it's really not a "blog." C.I.'s said that forever but it really is true. So you started your site and I thought, "Props to Mike" because you were doing your part. I wanted to do my part too. But I didn't think I had much to write about. That's where Cedric's Big Mix comes in. I thought I'd just make it like a blog report for the community, just highlight you, The Common Ills, Rebecca, The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat and Betty. I just planned to do copy and pastes and make it a mix, like a mix tape. It was about doing my part to say, "Hey, there's a community here and you need to check it out." You really got me off my butt.

Well thank you and you know that when you started it was like a huge relief for me because I was the new kid on the block and I felt like every and any mistake was under a microscope and cause I felt like I was too. You started up and it was like, okay, I can breathe.

That's something you would toss to me and I would think, "What is he talking about?" Then Elaine started up last week and I got it. Because, me at least, I'm looking at the computer screen and thinking, "No one's going to care, why even bother. It will sound stupid or lame." A lot of that is just being new and a lot of it is being the newest one in the community. I really understood what you were saying when Elaine started up Like Maria says Paz. She's great. I hope she doesn't have the pressure we had.

I don't think she does. Her pressure, and you have this too, is "When will I find time?" But she put in those six weeks substituting for Rebecca so she had that under her belt and she knew what she was doing by the end of the six weeks.

Right. With her, it really is a time issue more than anything else. Also it's that she doesn't realize how many people are into what she is doing. She's also smart, really smart, and I think she has to scale that down. When we're all together working on The Third Estate Sunday Review that really comes through.

I know, I always feel like she's going to scream when I ask, "What are you saying?" I'm not embarrassed to say I don't know something.

She wouldn't scream at you. You're like a puppy, remember?

I laughed so hard when I read that. Okay, now my friend Tony had a question for you too. He wanted to know if people were really helping out and all. He knows you and me would talk because I'd usually be on the cell phone with you but he was wondering if it was like it said on your site and people were just saying, "Sure, run it by me."

They really were. C.I. has no time and I would feel so bad for e-mailing about something but C.I. would e-mail back or call. Kat was a huge resource. We'd get on the phone and talk forever.
It would be maybe 5 minutes about the blog and then maybe 25 minutes just sharing. And she never said, "Cedric, I've got stuff to do." She understood that I was nervous and needed to ease into it. I called Elaine because Rebecca e-mailed her number. Not because Rebecca asked me to but because I was starting out and I thought if she had problems we could enjoy being blind together. Dona is someone who helped. She cuts right through the nonsense. That's not an insult. I'd read her something and she'd say, "Where do you think it goes off?" And if I had an idea, she'd give me some suggestions there and if I couldn't figure out where it went off the tracks, she'd say, "Right here." Jim was like Kat only instead of talking about music, we'd b.s. about sports. I can say b.s. here, right?

You can say anything here.

Oh I forgot, other than CounterRecruting, you're most famous for crotch rot.

Rebecca's the one who came up with that so give her the credit. But my girlfriend Nina's written this thing about me that's about my 'obsession' with my balls. She says I can't go a week without writing about my nuts.

You should post it.

I'm trying to get her permission to put it up. So who else?

Jess would call and just do a "Hey man" check in. I really appreciated that. I never, ever opened up my inbox without finding that Ava had written first thing each morning. Just an encouraging note and the offer to listen or talk. Ty was there in every way. Like Ava, I posted anything and there was Ty with encouragement. Betty is the surprise because she's got work, she's got kids, she's got church, there's like full plates and then there's Betty with food spilling over. But she made a point to call me. Which I really appreciated because a) I knew she didn't really have the time and b) I wasn't going to call her because I know how busy she is. Eli, Keesha and Francisco really helped me. Karla and Maria too. And I know you weren't asking for a compliment --

No, don't worry about it. We helped each other. Okay, here's Suzette's question, she wants to know if you're going to write about music any?

I mean to and I will. But there's not been time for it. But I think music is important. I think Kat does amazing reviews and that last one on Joan Baez, I bought that album after I read her review.

I get e-mails saying that. Kat's like the pied piper or something.

Right and I'm never going to be up to that level which is cool but it is intimidating. Changing the topic, did you read C.I. and Ava's entries last night and see that another community member may be starting a site?

Yeah. I have no idea who it is. That's the first I heard of it. I know there's someone who's thinking about it and but that's not who C.I. meant.

So there are two people who may start blogs?

Yeah. I know. We won't be the newbies by a long shot if that happens!

Sure 'nuff. That's really cool. I'm trying to figure out who the two are.

I'll tell you one after the interview.

I know it's not Eli, Wally or Keesha because I'm always after them to start up.

They'd all do a great job. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone started a site? How many are there now?

Eight not counting mirror sites.

See that's the community standing up and being counted. Eight sites and the community still isn't a year old. It's really something, isn't it? Okay, sorry to keep going to questions but I think it's partly that people are used to me doing interviews now and know what to expect and partly because everyone loves your work but let me do one more e-mail and then I'll stop but this one is from Eli and you know he's like the soul or heart or something of the community.

Eli's great. And we served on several committees selecting blog picks for The Common Ills permalinks. He is so full of wisdom and just inspiring. If I'm half the man he is when I'm his age, I'll be happy.

Well Eli thinks the world of you too. He wrote a great e-mail praising you for your writing about the nursing home. Eli's the oldest community member and he writes that he is so proud of Cedric not just for giving time to visit with the elderly but also for writing, and this is a quote, "about our responsibilities to each other. Cedric's heart can never be questioned."

I don't have anything to say to that. Members will understand why. When Eli speaks, we're all just honored and to have such praise from Eli . . .

I know. He chuckles when he reads me but you really speak to him so you should be proud. What entry are you the proudest of?

None of them. I go in with high hopes, and Kat said just write it so that's what I do, and then after I'm done I think, "Well maybe I could have done this or that."

You're really hard on yourself.

Well, I'm not like Ava and C.I. after they finish a TV review. I'm not going "It's crap. It's shit. Don't say it's funny, it's not."

Man, those two tear apart every review they write!

I understand that. There's never enough time for them to put it the way they want. They're always scrambling and always pushing the deadline so it's, for them, like an endurance test or running a martahon and they're just glad they made it over the finish line but not getting that they won the race.

You ran track.

Right. I played basketball. I did all the school sports but I was best at those two. I wasn't any good at football. I was j.v. but on varisity I was just a bench warmer. Let's talk about you for a second. What's your favorite entry?

I'm not hard on myself like you or Ava and C.I. I don't think I have anything really great but I don't think that I've really embarrassed myself. I may be kidding myself on the last part. If I had to pick something, it would be the interviews because I have fun doing them.

I like your site because you always seem like this ball of energy and they're easy to follow because of that.

You switched to a new site. What were your reasons for that?

I set up the site with something easy. I asked the UK Computer Gurus what would be the easiest to do and they told me that place and they said they'd help me set it up and just let them know. But when I decided, it was a Saturday night and I didn't call them. I figured, set it up and see if you can handle it and if you can't, no one needs to know. So that's why I started there. But you can't do a blog roll or a permalink thing. Because of that, I didn't feel like I was doing what I wanted to do which was say, "Hey check it out." So I moved to the same program that everyone else uses.

How do you like it?

I honestly hate it. The other location, I could just copy something, drag it over to my compose window, click paste and there it was. But here, when I do that, the spacing is all off and it takes forever to go through and space it. But I figure I'll get used to it.

C.I. and Ava wrote something last night and it just hit me so let me change that to nine because Gina and Krista do their round-robin.

That's right. I enjoy reading that every Friday and can't believe how they're doing a daily this week for each day of the John Roberts hearings. They deserve credit for all their hard work.

Can we talk about the war?

You bet. I'm against the war and that was never a problem because, I'm African-American, we really didn't rally behind the Bully Boy. I think there are some great resources online that are agains the war. But the one that really spoke to me was The Common Ills. That's why I started writing C.I. to begin with, because of the stance on the war. Now, because of Cindy Sheehan and the people that supported her, it's not as foreign as it was but a lot of blogs, even on the left, or web sites, a lot of them couldn't make up their minds. One day they were opposed, one day they were for. And the ones who want to "fine tune" disgust me, honestly. I have no use for them.

Do you think your race had much to do with the way you viewed the war from the start?

I think it did. I mean there are "Uncle Toms" who sell out. I think Condi Rice is one, I think Colin Powell is one. But you're dealing with a race that, historically, knows that there is what the larger culture says and there is what you're seeing with your own eyes. So when Bully Boy and Condi and Colin and Rummy and the other, Dallas calls them "Bullies Without Borders," were hyping the war before we went over there, there wasn't a lot of, "Oh Bully Boy says it so it's true."

You, Ty and Betty wrote the skit addressing the dismissal of race.

Yes, we did. We were wanting C.I. to participate but C.I. likes Bob Somerby. That's who we were responding to, Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler. Betty was the one who finally asked C.I. and the response was, "Anything you need, I'm there." They didn't plan their part. Betty had some examples and spoke off the top of her head and so did C.I. But that's the community I was talking about earlier. The community was outraged by him. And C.I. understood the outrage, understood where we were coming from and when Betty asked, C.I. was there.

Have you guys talked about it since?

With C.I., I haven't. You know how busy things are due to the hearings. But I spoke to Ty and Betty and C.I. told them the same thing which was basically, "I'm not going to tell anyone who feels that they are disrespected, 'Oh no, you're not.' I'm not going to assume that I know anyone's feelings better than they do. This is an issue and I get that." Because it really was an issue, a huge issue. Which is why the three of us wanted to do the skit and were going to do it by ourselves but C.I.'s participation kind of gave it a stamp of approval. Let's note too, that in the community, it wasn't a "black issue." It didn't fall along racial lines. The community itself got it. I think that's partly due to the fact that John H. Johnson's death was so ignored. And we saw that. And we saw a lot of people, on the left, ignore it at their sites. They didn't get it. They didn't get why the African-American community felt that Johnson mattered. And because of the work C.I. did on that, and The Third Estate Sunday Review and everyone in the community, because of that work, I think the community was able to grasp immediately, regardless of race, that we were headed down another road where the minority community wasn't validated and wasn't respected but instead it was, "It's not happening! You're crazy and seeing something that's not there." Gene Lyons is now weighing in and you know the idiot that linked to that because it's run through the community. I don't have any use for Gene Lyons now.

Bob Somerby?

C.I. will highlight Bob again when the New Orleans focus is gone. I'll wait and see on that. I'll also recognize that when he was dismissing the concerns of a race, he was doing it in real time.
Maybe he'd find a way to say it differently now, I don't think he'd not say it, but maybe he'd find a way to say it that didn't bother so many. So I will, when C.I. highlights him again, give him a chance. But Lyons, he weighed in after it was a huge issue. Bob Somerby was doing it in real time. C.I.'s said that Bob Somerby's not racist just too focused on his own issues and I'm hoping that's true. But what he wrote was hurtful and I don't think he got that. I don't think he gets it now. I have no respect for Gene Lyons. With Bob Somerby, I'll take a wait and see attitude. There were some things before that I was interested in. And when C.I.'s spotlighting his work agian, I'm sure I'll find things I agree with. But, to go with what Gina's said, there's not a plate set at the table for me. I do feel that. I think it's a lack of realization. And until I see something differently, I'll go ahead and give Bob Somerby the benefit of the doubt.

Do you go to the site now?

No. I'll wait for C.I. to spotlight it and if it's something that I'm interested in, I'll visit. I used to visit is every day. Sometimes before C.I. got the entry up. It was probably my favorite non-community site. And I was really hurt by what I read there.

Which read to you like what?

Like "This isn't an important issue." Like "People are making this up." And it's very real to me.
I don't need a white man telling me what is and isn't racism or what I see as racism does or doesn't exist. I'm not sure how he meant it to be read, but I do know how I felt when I read those things.

Which was?

Hurt. Like I didn't matter. Because of my skin color. Like there were issues that time could be used on from sports to Wilson to any noodle brain on the right. But when an issue of race came up, it wasn't going to be addressed. We were going to be told it wasn't there, it wasn't happening. That it was driven by the "liberal intelligensia" or whatever it was. No L.I. came to my door to explain it to me. This is an issue that touched off in the black community and it was a very serious issue. And to hear him say it didn't exist, it wasn't real and it was coming from the TV or wherever . . . In his world that may be true. In my world, my friends don't sit in front of the TV watching those chat & chews. We're hardly ever on them. If we make it on, it's Uncle Toms. In the black community, in my area anyway, this wasn't driven by the meida. Before the media picked up on it, it was an issue. Those photos went around in mass e-mails. And I just wish that instead of immediately dismissing it, Bob Somerby had stopped a moment to ask himself, "Okay, I'm black and I'm seeing this. How do I feel?" I'll go along with C.I. and say he's not racist until I see something that indicates otherwise. But I will also say that he wasn't able to leave his own perspective. And from that perspetive he dismissed some very real concerns among African-Americans. That really hurt. I was angry. Now I'm just sad because he is smart, he has a lot to say. And when I really felt I could count on him to illuminate something, he was just saying, "There's no 'there' there!" So that hurt. Look, he could disagree with the photos and turn that into a serious discussion on race and that didn't happen. Instead it was all "fuck" this guy, that guy's stupid, and running down this nonsense. That hurt. The issue was racism and he was name checking. I'm speaking for me but, and you read the round-robin so you know, that was the feeling in the community.

That race wasn't serious enough to address?

Right. It hurt. It still hurts. Here was an issue, one that matters to me obviously, and instead of addressing it, he wanted to play butt pats with bloggers. I agree abou tthe "shout outs." That was already irritating. The hat tips that really were like shout outs at a Grammy show. That's not why I read him, to hear what other people were saying about something that was on TV or in print. I wanted to hear what he thought. So I was already frustrated with the site. But I was hanging in until he just dismissed race. To him, I don't know, I don't think it was about race. It was more chance to compete with Atrios or whomever. And that's what I mean, and what Gina and others mean, when they say he didn't deal with the issue. The issue of race was turned into an ammunition for him to go hunting. That hurt. That racism took a back set to his own personal battles.

I know you've got plans and I know that we need to wind down. I usually try to ask people if here was something I could have asked but didn't. So is there something I didn't bring up that you wished I should have?

I wish I was that smooth. But all I've been thinking about since you asked was, "I'm going to be so boring, I won't have anything to say and everyone's going to be thinking, 'I wish he'd interviewed C.I. instead.'"

Because I had planned to interview C.I. and even had that agreed to but then you moved your site and C.I. said it would be better to highlight you.

Exactly and I just felt like everyone was going to read and think, "Oh we could have had C.I. but we got the bartender on the Love Boat."

Well I think it went well. I think you came off very real. I don't want to call it "work" because I know you see it as something that benefits you, but I did have one more question. Everyone knows that you took one of the guys, one of your friends at the nursing home, Vern's death pretty hard.

I just . . . I want to be able to say, "It's cool that his family ignored him." But it's not cool. C.I. highlighted that and I asked about it and C.I. said "Hey, you made even an asshole like me tear up so don't think it wasn't good." But I feel like it would be lying to write "His family realizes now that they should have visited and called so everything worked out for the best." I don't think that. I wasn't going to say it was okay. If someone's got a family member or a friend in a nursing home, they need to know those people aren't sitting around thinking, "This is the life!"
They, if they're lucky, have some friends in the nursing home. But they feel, and I don't just mean the three that I'm visiting with, they feel like they're forgotten. I just wish that people could get what it feels like if you're in one of those places and no one visits. Yes, they know you're busy. They'll say that to their friends. They talk you up, their kids, their grandkids, like they walk on water. They think about them and they are just waiting for a visit or a phone call and every day it doesn't come, that hurts them. They don't turn around and lash out. If anything, they start defending the kids and grandkids and talking about how busy they are and how they want to visit. But it hurts. Forgive me for the lecture.

Don't apologize. People need to think about it. I've been interviewing my buddy Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Check out his site because he's great. Last week I interviewed Elaine and before that I interviewed Jess, Ty, Dona, Jim, and Ava.

Who will it be next week?

I'm thinking Rebecca because she just got back from vacation and all. Thank you for letting me interview you.

Thank you. rel="tag">The CommonIlls