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I just posted the comment below on the Agonist comment board, in response to editor Sean-Paul Kelley's report on a recent Fahrenheit 9/11 panel in San Antonio. "Where Moore went overboard is to suggest that Bush's family's financial ties to the Saudis were in any way a factor in the President's decision to go to war in Iraq," Kelley quotes Jan Jarboe-Russell, who he describes as "thoughtful and even-handed" and "known for her progressive stance on issues," despite the fact that "neither the [San Antonio Express-News] nor Texas Monthly, two publications she writes for, are beacons of the Left."
I wasn't left with the impression that was what Moore was saying; maybe he did and I just discounted it, unlike the "liberal" who is making such a big deal of it. The "Saudi connection" part of the film gives a quite plausible reason why the Bushies were asleep at the switch on 9/11 and then sought to cover it up afterward. The Iraq part of the film mentions the standard reasons for the invasion--WMDs, "terrorist" activity, oil. I think it takes work to conflate the two parts of the film into "the Saudis wanted us to invade Iraq." The closest line I could find in the transcript is "I wonder if Mr. Bush told Prince Bandar not to worry because he already had a plan in motion"--which suggests Bush had a way of diverting attention from the Saudi connection and meeting some other Administration goals, not that Prince Bandar was a "factor" in the decision. Why do so-called liberals work so hard to undermine this movie?
Retired Pentagon analyst Karen Kwiatkowski on the 9/11 Commission whitewash, I mean report:
I naïvely expected more constructive and useful information in the report. A detailed discussion of FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley and how her observations and actions led to change would be nice. She merited a brief mention in footnote 94. That is all.
I expected to hear how WTC 7 collapsed. The leaseholder of the building told the media it was "pulled." I expected to see more discussion of the mechanics of that presumably unplanned demolition in the evening of 9-11 as well as the collapse of the both 110-story towers, both impacted differently, both falling almost identically. Do we have an engineering design flaw no one knew about? It didn’t come up in the report.
The Commission concluded that the FAA was not really capable of giving the military what it needed to know. Things have certainly gone downhill since 1999, when [golfer] Payne Stewart’s twin engine Learjet quietly drifted off its flight plan, and was escorted by military jets from Eglin AFB and Tyndall AFB in Florida, ANG out of Tulsa, and out of Fargo, for several hours across several states before it ran out of gas and crashed in South Dakota. The difference was that Stewart was just a guy in a single private plane off course with no explanation, while on 9-11, it was one, no two, wait – three, I mean four jumbo passenger jets. Unlike Stewart’s plane which simply left its flight plan and was unresponsive, the FAA actually had hijack warning on AA 11 at 8:19 a.m., UA 175 at 8:52 a.m. After two hijack warnings, AA 77 made an unauthorized turn at 8:54 a.m. The Herndon Control Center knew UA 93 was hijacked at 9:34 a.m.
The commission reports the first fighter jets from Otis ANG Base were scrambled for AA 11 thirty-four minutes after the first hijack alert and again, from Langley AFB, a half hour or so later. At 10:38, fighter jets from Andrews AFB were airborne. None had a visual on any of the four planes plane until it was too late. In 1999, more military jets were on the job watching a lone Learjet over the Midwest than in the 2001 response to multiple hijacks on the densely populated East Coast. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz should have both been fired at the time, saving us the trouble and expense of criminal trials for their roles in fomenting the unjustified and gratuitous Iraq war.
Jim Hamlyn, original .GIF, printed out for the "Infinite Fill Show." This image has been resized, the full image is here.
More about the show: Walter Robinson mistakenly describes the content in his Weekend Update column as "psychedelia and goth." Maybe he pasted in a paragraph from an old Whitney Biennial 2004 review by mistake? You have to stretch to find anything goth in the show, and psychedelia kind of implies color to most people these days, doesn't it? The keywords here are "Op Art" and "geek." Also, it's hard for me to imagine the phrase "eternal youth culture" coming out of the Foxy Production gallerists' mouth: who talks about shows that way? Besides, it's redundant, as I've argued on this page repeatedly: all of American culture is "eternal youth culture."
"Infinite Fill Show" installation view of collaboration: jimpunk (www.jimpunk.com) vs. tom moody, 2004, running on Netscape (slower than here, but it's fine that way, too). The gallery listed my and jimpunk's animated .GIFs as "URLs, not for sale" because I was too big a dork to burn them on a CD and demand several hundred thousand bucks for them. The small circles taped on the powerbook are checklist numbers.
Looks like there's going to be some national press for the show; I plan to keep posting about it, with more pictures coming, etc. This will be diary-style reportage, not criticism per se, since I'm obviously not detached.
The press has been ignoring Iraq since the fake transfer of power in June, but it's a slaughterhouse. According to an AP report cited on Juan Cole's site, four US soldiers died on Monday and Tuesday, bringing the total number of Americans killed since George Bush ordered the invasion to a total of 919. Robert Fisk, one of the few reporters telling the truth of what's happening there, describes a country on the verge of "implosion," with car bombings, kidnappings, murders of pro-US officials all on the rise (doctors and scientists also continue to be assassinated). The US has lost control of many cities and roads, but this is not being reported. Fisk also describes the manipulation of Saddam at his arraignment so he would appear disoriented on American TV--apparently he was lied to and told he was being taken to his execution.
Meanwhile, in the US, we keep getting bogus terror alerts such as this past weekend's, based on intelligence the government is now admitting dates back to before 9/11/01. I walked down Broadway south of Wall Monday afternoon and found it choked with media trucks with huge microwave antennas and helmet haired announcers doing their standup--they'd all converged to "report" on Homeland Security's non-terror-event, timed to spoil post-convention Democratic good will.
I went back to look at the "Infinite Fill Show" today and took some more pictures; I'll be putting them up gradually. This one came out blurry and I feel in all good conscience I should reshoot it, but I'm posting it anyway. It's an installation by Leif Ritchey, very easy to overlook down at your feet, in a corner. Yes, it's a zen rock garden with a black and white pine cone, beans, and raked sand, an elegant (but still somewhat lowbrow) counterpoint to all the digital brut up at eye-level. Ritchey's an analog guy, and I've been playing his video "Flatbush Windows" over and over and showing it to friends. I found it on the Nautical Almanac-related compilation Eyes of the Mind (which I've been meaning to write about--it's awesome). The video is as understated as this piece--grainy bits of one-step-removed footage shot off an awkwardly framed TV screen, depicting trees blowing in the wind, people walking up and down the sidewalk, clunky jump cuts of a pair of women's shoes (decorated with beads? I have to watch it again), with a soundtrack of jazz and quiet techno that's somewhat tinny, like it's wafting in from another room. The best kind of Cagean work, strangely gripping for being so ephemeral.
Amazon.com is weird, like a cult where the rules change daily. In an earlier post I described how their editors removed the word "sexual" from a review of mine and replaced it with "inapropriate [sic]." And according to the New York Times, they recently outed all their anonymous reviewers (in Canada) and started a companywide program that validates whether your reviews are written under your "Real Name" or a "Pen Name."
In the early days of the site they had a category called "I am the author of this book and I want to comment on it." I wrote an explanatory blurb about the post-hypnotic catalog, listing some artists depicted in the book, etc. and captioned it "notes from an artist and essayist in the exhibition." A couple of years ago, the "i am the author..." category was eliminated, and they moved the blurb to my list of reviews of other people's books, CDs, and movies. I thought that was strange, but let it go (it's not like they post an email for complaints). A month or two ago, the "review" disappeared from my list. It felt like they thought I was scamming, reviewing my own book. At any rate, I've always used my own name, but my "favorite reviewer" was dogmatico, who I see has also been removed from my page.
All this may ultimately mean less joke fodder such as this post celebrating the lowest ranked reviews of great works. dogmatico's favorite reviewer, "doo doo brown," to cite another example, made a career of writing dismissive reviews of canonical works of Western philosophy. (hat tips to Jim and Bill)
From the New Yorker, a review of a show mentioned on this weblog a few weeks ago:
DIANA KINGSLEYWell, "cute" is in the eye of the beholder, especially when a show is viewed selectively. Factual corrections: when a moth hits window glass, it's smashing (to the moth), and the tennis player falls three times if you watch the entire (two and 1/2 minute) loop.
“Isle of August” is a collection of videos and photographs of a well-heeled summer world. A tennis player, seen only from behind and the waist down, is oblivious to her flapping, untied shoelaces in “Court Disaster.” A stack of gilt-edged china plates teeters precariously in “Fair field full of dainty,” and a moth lured by a yellow flower bumps endlessly against a window in “buster.” But nothing smashes, no one falls, and the over-all effect is cute rather than menacing. Through Aug. 5. (Castelli, 18 E. 77th St. 212-249-4470.)