Saturday, December 10, 2005

Coming up on The Laura Flanders Show

Today on The Laura Flanders Show
On Air America Radio, 7-10 PM EST
Katrina woke us up. Has the nation gone back to sleep?
From Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's hearings in DC to the first Survivors Assembly and Saturday's Right-of-Return protest in New Orleans, we'll hear the latest from those on the front lines.
Plus, New York City's Playback Theatre on how performance helped Katrina survivors get to grips with their story.
And the premier broadcast of FALLUJAH, a new Iraqi-made documentary on the US attack.
You can listen to shows you missed: Download archived shows HERE or Subscribe to the Free PODCAST through the iTunes Music Store
Go to the Laura Flanders Blog

C.I.'s got a great post on this that will make you want to listen if you're new to the show so check that out.

"And your posts, Kat?"

Don't even give me any flack about my posting this week.

I was so prepared to post. This was my week of focus. I had my time planned for discussing the new Rolling Stone on Wednesday. Also on Weds. I was going to finish a CD review that I was doing at Eli's request and by Friday, I would've finished my year in review music summary.

None of that happened.

I'm sure you know the story so I'll try to give just the basics.

Bernie e-mails me demanding a correction. He doesn't like my opinion.

Now normally that crap goes right into the trash can of my e-mail account.

But he's with Pop Politics and C.I. is very protective of Christine, so I try to take the e-mail seriously. I offer Bernie that if he'll tell me what he wants up here, I'll post his comment.

And I wait and wait. He gets back on the next day. (Passive aggressive much?)

Now Bernie doesn't tell me in his e-mail that he's mentioned me at his post. I'm almost done with my e-mail when Sumner makes a "whatcha doing?" call and I tell him and he goes to look at Bernie's post. He's going, 'what an idiot' while he's reading along. Then he shouts 'holy crap!' and I'm what?

Bernie's linked to my post and Bernie's taken a sentence of mine, a part of it, to make a point I didn't make. He's altered my writing.

Sumner says 'trash that fucker's e-mail' and I should have. That should have been the end of it.
but I write back.

He's demanding a correction of me based on my opinion and yet he's gone and intentionally altered my quote?

I point out in my e-mail what I said. I tell him I don't see anything to correct but if he's got something to say, write it down and it will go up. I thought it was a nice e-mail and one I avoided screaming in. Despite the fact that he's trashed me at his site and altered my words.

The end of it?


He writes an insulting e-mail finally. I'm 'Cat' and not 'Kat.' Apparently he gets to decide what to call me. Well he thinks he can strip me of my opinions why am I surprised that suddenly he's stripping me of my name?

He knew my name the day before when he e-mailed me and when he posted. But now I'm "Cat." Why didn't he just type "little lady"?

So I'm wading through his nonsense trying to find where he's going to say, "Here's what I want to put up." It's not there.

He's wasted my time on top of everything else. That's when I'd had enough of trying to find a way to make peace with Bernie who's not able to take a woman having a different opinion that ne has.

Meanwhile at Pop Politics, Christine takes shots at my writing.

Shall I return the favor, Christine?

Christine claims she can refute me point by point.

I haven't gone over that claim with C.I.

I'll do it here.

One of the things that Bernie seemed bothered by was that I focused on comments to his post and not the post itself. Bernie appears to need a lot of attention. So when I wrote Bernie back, I explained to him that I didn't focus on his opinion because I disagreed with it and if I had, I could refute him . . . and what do you know similar words are used by Christine when she decides to comment on me.

So the thing is, I don't believe that Christine didn't know about Bernie's e-mail. I don't think it's just a coincidence that Christine writes that in her comment. I think she's quite aware of the e-mails that were exchanged. It's strange that they're not interested in noting the e-mails but to do so would weaken the claim that Bernie had to post about me because he had no way of commenting at my site. Just like putting one extra word into the pull quote would weaken Bernie's claim.

And I don't think it's an accident that when Maria's comment raises the very serious issue of Bernie distorting my meaning by pulling half of a sentence and providing it as a quote, Christine somehow misses that point when she's replying to Maria in her own comment.

I don't think a feminist site stands behind Bernie's demands for a correction. I don't think a feminist site lets Bernie distort a woman's words.

Christine's now joined in the trashing. So at some point, when I'm in the mood to, I may take apart Christine's writing point-by-point.

C.I. said to note "This is how I feel now." I thought that meant, "Kat, you'll clam down later." That's not what C.I. meant. C.I. meant that I'm still kind of shocked that this happened with a woman who's idetnified as a feminist, Christine, backing it up. And that, as I think about it, I may grow angrier.

So that's what happened. Whiney Bernie couldn't take my opinion and wanted it corrected. (He was never able to provide me with anything factually wrong. ) But apparently I was supposed to post something like "After reflection I think jerkface is right. "

I don't think he's right. I offered my opinion on the comments.

But let me tell you that anyone who promotes The New Republic is supporting them. And I can't get behind that. Now he can do whatever he wants, he can even quote them. (Which Bernie will probably shorten again as he did last time. "She said I quoted them! That mean woman!")

This is from Dave Zirin's "Fighting the New Republic[ans]:"

The New Republic magazine - a pro-war Democratic Party rag - thought it would be provocative to muse about killing and torturing anti-war activists. New Republic writer T.A. Frank found it cheeky to sit in and mock an anti-war panel sponsored by the DC Anti-War Network, the DC ISO and others. He thought it would make his colleagues chuckle to wish for "John Ashcroft to come busting through the wall with a submachine gun to round everyone up for an immediate trip to Gitmo, with Charles Graner on hand for interrogation." The New Republic thought they would score points with their puffy beltway buddies by printing a call for someone to "take a bunker buster to [internationally known anti-war author] Arundhati Roy." The New Republic also thought they'd get away with it. They were wrong.

A feminist doesn't support that. A feminist doesn't promote a magazine like that. The New Republic is guilty of many crimes against journalism. But in terms of Arundhati Roy, what they did is so disgusting that a feminist wouldn't support that magazine.

I take is as a compliment that the same site that trashed Bright Eyes and trashed me supports The New Republic. To be honest, I'd be worried if a site like that praised me. Or even tried to practice accurate journalism with regards to me. (Distorting my words intentionally isn't accurate journalism. I said he could if he wanted to, I didn't say he had.)

I was saying that to C.I. on the phone and C.I. replied, "Hello, fellow bums!" I was lost for a moment. Then I remember that Nixon called anti-war activists bums. And that in a speech, Jane Fonda had greeted a rally with "Hello, fellow bums."

The trashing of me? Consider the source. Today it feels like a compliment. They support abuse of Arundhati Roy (don't whine to me in an e-mail that you don't, when you link to that rag, you endorse it). People like that should trash me.

I'm not a pretend feminist who rushes to stand behind a guy when a woman's being attacked. Not to stop him but to pat him on the shoulder and say "Good job."

And I'm not one of the ones suffering from "War Got Your Tongue?"

So they should trash me.

I'm a woman of heart and mind (as Joni would say) and that's apparently too much for Bernie to deal with. Christine?

If Christine thinks she can blow me out of the water, point-by-point, she should do so. It might actually be worth reading. I think, however, it would be along the lines of "Male critic says this, male critic says that."

Why do I think that? Because Bob Dylan's misogny wasn't a subject I stumbled upon. I'm hardly the first female to make that point. It's come up repeatedly, from women, throughout his career.

"Sweetheart Like You"? He was given a chance, by Rolling Stone, to explain that insulting song. ("A woman like you should be at home, that's where you belong . . .") He failed. Or what about "Is Your Love in Vain?" with lines like: "Can you cook and sew . . ." What did he say about that?

Do we want to talk about "Joey"? We can do that too. We can question the whole purpose of that song. Or we can address the issue of simplistic (what Bernie feels Bright Eyes is when addressing the Bully Boy) and we can go down the list of examples of how Dylan was simplistic. Maybe Christine is too young or uninformed to know this but people who knew folk music weren't all blown away by Dylan. Bernie's adjectives dismissing Bright Eyes have been applied to Dylan from the start of his career. (By more thoughtful critics than Bernie.)

And the reality is that Bernie's starting point/touchstone is neither. He is not the originator or the creator. He is the male Madonna. Not the mother of Christ, the other one. He's changed his image, with far less success, more often than she has.

Or maybe Christine's questioning my comments on Dylan's sales? If so, question. I know my figures. You may not. You probably don't even know what Dylan's best selling album is. But Dylan's not a best seller. He rarely was in his career. At CBS, Simon & Garfunkel and Barbra Streisand both surpassed him easily in the sixties. In the seventies? Oh, we don't want to talk about Planet Waves, trust me. He was poached by David Geffen and not because he had this outstanding sales record -- but because he's seen as a prestige act. Having him let's you tell an artist you're trying to sign to your label, "We have Dylan." And they'll start picturing how it will be. How if they sign with you, you'll keep all their albums in print, how you'll give them publicity for every release and at least once a year, whether there's a new album or not, set up these big displays at Tower and other place to push your complete catalogue. How even when your album fails to crack a milestone (forget gold, way lower than gold) in sales, they won't punch the hole in it and send it to the cut out bin.

Sales alone are not an indication of success. But the myth that he's a best seller is a myth.

Now it's fashionable, especially after the mythic PBS special, to rewrite history and act like he was neck and neck with the Beatles. He wasn't. It's not just that the Archies outsold him, crap always sales more. It's that within his peer group he didn't sell that well.

And that wasn't because he was being banned the way Janis Ian was for "Society's Child." He got airplay, the label worked him to the radio, he got publicity, the label worked him to the press. Someone receiving that kind of attention should have one million seller right after another. Doesn't happen in real time.

Fortunately CBS worked his catalogue like crazy, year after year. So the sales of a Knocked Out Loaded, for instance, aren't all that.

Hey let's play a game. What well known music critic, now better known via TV, wrote this, about which Dylan album:

. . . the result seemed curious embalmed: a record bereft of the rhymtic exuberance that has always characterised the artist's best work. The songs themselves were graceless and chilly in their self-righteous certitude. Bob Dylan, whose search for modern moral connections once summed up an entire generation, has found the Answer: 'Repent, for the end is near.'
This ancient wheeze long ago failed the simple test of time and the clunky fervour with which Dylan advanced it only made him sound more ridiculous. Abandoning the greatest of human religious quests -- the intellectual pilgrimage toward personal transcendence -- Dylan settled for mere religion. His art, which arose out of human complexity and moral ambiguities, was drastically diminished. With a single leap of faith, he plummeted to the level of a spiritual pamphleteer.

Now that's not the sort of astute and thoughtful criticism that Bernie can handle. He honestly thinks the tut-tutting nonsense he wrote was taking a tough look at Dylan. Tough look? It was like swatting a dog on the nose with a kleenex.

So if Christine can point-by-point critique me, if she's not just stealing my words from an e-mail, please feel free to do so. It might be the best thing you ever write.

But if you can't put up, then maybe you should think twice before you question my knowledge of music?

Now if it's my style of writing that you can point-by-point reject, please do.

Possibly, you don't like my messy style. I'm writing about music, mainly rock, and that's not a framed painting hanging in a museum.

When I do one of my reviews, I'm usually looking for a living moment in my life that captures the album's feeling. Those who like stuffy writing from up tight prigs won't get into my writing style. I'm not on Patti or Lester or Patricia or the Ellens or Ann's level. (Are you trying to figure out the last names?) But that's the kind of writing style I'm aspiring to. You'd probably be better served if you knew something about rock criticism before you slammed mine and praised Bernie's. Or maybe you just naturally assume that Bernie's style is right and mine is wrong because Bernie is a man?

I did an essay about how cold, lifeless writing could kill music (and anyone's response to music). I think Bernie's guilty of that. I think if there's any life in music, Bernie will track it down and try to stamp it out. He writes deathless prose on a topic that's very alive.

I didn't need the trashing. Not from Bernie who I'd avoided critiquing. And certainly not from another woman who wants to present herself as someone supporting the concept of sisterhood.
This from a woman who feels the need to compare me to a man. That says a lot doesn't it?

He is her measurement. I'm just the foolish woman.

What she did was hurtful to women. Not just me.

She decided to play compare and contrast with me and Bernie (and did it badly, there are no examples offered) and Bernie wins out. Based on what? The fact that he has a penis?

Is that what lets her slam me?

It sure isn't his writing style because there is none. Just cold, dull "so and so says this and they may have a point but if we consider . . ." Is he trying to put us to sleep?

You two screwed over my week, that's all you did.

With the combined efforts of your attacks, that's the most you could accomplish.

Now you stand guilty of trashing a woman. And the woman still stands.

I hope your comments and the distorted quote stay up there because they say a great deal about you. The shout outs to The New Republic also say a great deal.

A feminist I admire tremendously called this morning. I woke up in a bad mood. I hear this voice that sounds familiar and she's saying that C.I. gave her my number because she wanted to tell me to stand strong. I was blown away and had to journal and call everyone I know after the phone call to say, "Guess who called me!"

But she asked that I put in a message to Christine. Christine, if you're still trying to figure out where you stand on Iraq, be advised that there are cats and dogs in harm's way in Iraq. She had to explain it to me but she knows Christine will grasp the meaning right away.

So maybe if the voices of Pop Politics are done with me they can attempt to figure out where they stand on Iraq? If they're not, just let me know because, since my writing has been judged, I'd be more than happy to return the "favor." And I can go point-by-point. I can also, in the words of Stevie Nicks, follow you down 'till the sound of my voice will haunt you.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

White mobs do love their Bobby Dylan

What am I working on? Two things for The Common Ills actually. Hopefully, I'll have at least one completed this week.

In the meantime, have you been following Pop Politics?

There's a fire storm going on. Bernie posts that Bob Dylan is next to godliness and someone doubts that in the comment and it's a fire storm.

Misogynist Dylan's baby boom defenders swarm in on their Little Rascals to holler.

This is the same crowd that booed sinead o'connor at the 30th tribute to Dylan.

Bernie can cream in his shorts over who ever he wants. He can even quote the neocon bible The New Republic. The comments surprise me: a) didn't realize the readers were all baby boomers and kids who wished they were; and b) they can't take a contrary opinion.

You really should read the comments because they're really hilarious.

The one who upset the boomers said that Dylan had done anything in 40 years which is more or less true. By then, he'd stopped ripping off the melodies of folk songs that most people then and now didn't know so they'd talk about what wonderful music Dylan wrote. I always wonder about people who brag about his ability to write music -- does it hurt to be that stupid?

But the defense is hilarious. Dylan got married! And divorced! And he had kids!

With those hips? Don't think so.

What that has to do with art is beyond me but then Dylan hasn't approached art in a little less than 40 years.

This comment's too priceless not to note:

how about becoming a father and husband, going through a divorce, finding a new faith, battling drug addictions, carrying the dylan burden, remarrying, alcoholism, fighting a rare heart disease and constantly touring while releasing around twenty albums....

"Releasing around twenty albums" is the closest the comment has to do with music. (Strange that the children outside of marriage aren't mentioned. But then maybe they don't realize that while he was on his Jews for Jesus trip and preaching the gospel, he was also fathering kids? Reportedly, he married her. I don't remember if it was the second time she was pregnant or after she'd had the second child.)

Dylan's a joke. He was a Buddy Holly wanna be who couldn't mesh with a band and ended up in folk. His best moments were then but it's not as though he wrote any wonderful music and only the musically ignorant would claim otherwise. If I write "Where's The Rain?" and set it to the Lennon & McCartney's music to "Yesterday," I haven't written great music.

That's really why his post folk period is so disappointing.

He's an old man who preaches the apocalypse and has for years. "Drifting Too Far From Shore."
Does anyone pay attention to the "message" these days? He's an old crank.

I can party down with the Wallflowers but Dylan hasn't made it in years. We're all supposed to go "Hey, 'Hurricane' was about something!" But it was a badly written song.

But the same mob that booed Sinead turns out to scream, "Leave our Bobby alone!"

As for Bernie's opinion, he's welcome to it. I disagree. Bright Eyes "When A President Talks To God" is not only a great song, it's a watershed moment. If you can't handle it, how do you handle someone singing "ten dead in Ohio"?

I do, however, worry about anyone that reads The New Republic. (And hat tip and thank you to Rebecca who gifted me with Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege which dispenses with any thoughts that the rag, New Republic, is anything but a conservative bible -- why do you think Fred Barnes and Andrew Sullivan wrote for it? Or how about the fact that they supported every war, not just the current one, although Marty P puts the "P" in PNAC.)

As for the mob, when you're too busy jerking off to the sixties and mythic icons, you may have trouble hearing actual music. You'll also notice that they didn't comment on Ani DiFranco. That's because the mob has a hard time acknowledging women. Rock criticism hasn't fed them women over and over and all they know is what they're told.

"Both Hands" is better lyrically than anything Dylan's written since he went electric. And since Ani actually wrote her music as opposed to stealing from a folk song, she's also a better music writer than Dylan.

As for the rap claims, I went to a rap lover there. I asked Cedric, "The Roots, Dylan influenced?"

After he stopped laughing, he told me that he couldn't think of any Dylan influenced rapper though he feels the White press likes to push that notion.

It's like that laughable moment in Dangerous Minds when Michelle Pfeiffer teaches the kids Dylan. They would have booed her out of the room. Which is why in the actual person that the movie's based upon, LouAnne Johnson's (who wrote My Posse Don't Do Homework) used rap, not Bob Dylan.

Cedric's right. The White world needs to believe that Bob Dylan means something to everyone because they've invested so much in him.

Two suggested reads, Cedric's "Collaborative working" which takes a look at what goes into turning out a new edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review and C.I.'s "NYT: 'U.S. Interrogations Are Saving European Lives, Rice Says' (Joel Brinkley)."