Friday, December 19, 2003

So, my film partner Sean and I made a commercial one afternoon for the contest, called "Bush in 30 Seconds." Apparently, we passed the first hurdle, that there are no glaring copyright violations. Now it's up to the people.

No, it's not "Citizen Kane". It's not even "Where's the Beef?" But hey, it's a start. Now, to find a viable democratic challenger!

You can watch it on the Bush in 30 Seconds website right now:

Saturday, December 13, 2003

If you have benefited in some way from the Marigny's
public e-mail list, I hope you can help maintain it as
another information source in our community.

In an article ( ) in
the neighborhood newspaper, there was some discussion of
the Marigny's e-mail lists and web sites. Much of the confusion
and acrimony over these issues seems to stem from the fact that
the FMIA does not like for there to be an outside information
source about the community that they do not control. Recently,
they have insisted on having control of the domain name, even though they had acknowledged
over a year ago that they actually had no control over it. You
can see the minutes from the July 8, 2002 meeting here:

Recently, I resisted the hand off of to the board
because I felt it would be confusing for most people because that
address was familiar as a publicly available resource as opposed to
the members-only FMIA's exclusive use. So, I offered another domain
name, and the necessary resources for hosting it, for one
year. You can see a copy of my memo to my fellow board members

However, I grew tired of the increasingly shrill and mean spirited
nature of what was being said about me personally, and finally
relented, giving the FMIA the domain they wanted. I moved the
publicly available e-mail list and web site to
The FMIA's website is at

But now, I understand through second hand information (no one
on the FMIA board will actually contact me directly), that this is
not enough. For some reason, the FMIA feels that they should
have something more and they have moved to engage legal
counsel. What do they want? The web site? The e-mail list?
I am not certain, but it looks like what they want is to restrict
the flow of information in this community so that it is completely
under their control.

I don't think that information should only flow through the FMIA,
for a few reasons:

1) Some in the FMIA feel that discussions of crime in the
community hurt property values and create a negative impression
of the Marigny. I feel that we are safer the more that we know.

2) I don't believe the FMIA is the only representative of the Faubourg
Marigny. The FMIA has approximately 300 members, including free
memberships for government officials. According to the 2000 US
Census, there are 3,145 people living in the Marigny, and it is well
known that many business owners have complained about
obstructionism by the FMIA. I believe the e-mail list should be
another voice in community, adding to the discussion, not taking
over for the FMIA.

3) Finally, this is a free speech issue. Trying to stop the use of
the e-mail list is like trying to stop a newspaper from being published
just because you don't like its stories. I believe that many of us live,
work and play in the Marigny because we perceive it to be an
open-minded and inclusive community, and our local media should
reflect that spirit as well.

Please contact me should you have any questions. You
can reply to this e-mail or call me at 949-2826. Thank
you for your help.

I hope you can help maintain the e-mail list as another information source in our community. If you agree that the FMIA should continue its own e-mail efforts and let others co-exist, please contact them directly. If you could "cc" me on yur e-mail, I would appreciate it as well.

Lisa Suarez, FMIA President

FMIA Website Committee Members:

Chris Costello

href=" for
Information About">Dean Reynolds

href=" for Information on">Ron Petty

Saturday, November 08, 2003

From Brian Marks:

The Beehive Design Collective, a group of graphics-oriented global justice
activists, will be touring Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas in the
weeks following the School of the Americas/Miami Free Trade Area of the
Americas actions in the U.S. Southeast this month. They estimate they will
be in Louisiana sometime around the last week of November or first week of
December. For those not familiar, the Beehive does interactive
presentations/discussions of large, detailed posters they have created
about topics such as the Plan Colombia, War on Drugs and Corporate
Militarism, The Free Trade Area of the Americas, Biotechnology, Bicycles
and the Story of an Orange (about the corporate food system and

Check out the Beehive online at:

If interested in hosting the Beehive at your: university, political/civic
organization, or especially high schools (they are very interested in
speaking at high schools) please email the Hive at:
and/or contact me, Brian Marks, at (520)792-2888 or

I don't yet have any information about exact dates and locations or
expenses but donations/honoraria are appreciated and needed to sustain the
tour. Housing for the tour (4-6 people) is also appreciated. The
presentations may require the use of Powerpoint software and projectors and
high ceilings in indoor presentations (the posters are quite large). The
tour group is fluent in Spanish for Spanish-speaking audiences.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Crazy e-mail I received this morning:

I know where you are. I was there. They drilled holes in my teeth. The lawn burros whisper as you walk by. Don't think that the neighbor's dogs like you -they have been told to watch your every move...Ohhhh **** the pressure. I am my cat. My girlfriend left this dollar in my shoe, so I left it in there for 3 weeks before using it to tip a bad waitress. Thebluecowmoosatmidnight. Because the Park Service is enforcing a "catch and release" policy this year, I had to let him go! I love you all, and I have to go buy some canned squid. Urgently needed... please send a road map of Idaho, a spatula, and 4 cookies.

Serious replies only, please.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Monday, October 13, 2003

Published on Monday, October 13, 2003 by the lndependent/UK. Reprinted at:

All the President's Votes?

A Quiet Revolution is Taking Place in US Politics. By the Time It's Over, the Integrity of Elections Will be in the Unchallenged, Unscrutinized Control of a Few Large - and Pro-Republican - Corporations. Andrew Gumbel wonders if democracy in America can survive

Thursday, October 16, 2003

What is this all about:

Halliburton price gouging in Iraq alleged

CityBusiness staff reports

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two senior Democratic congressmen are questioning whether Halliburton is overcharging the United States government for gasoline and other fuel for Iraq, which is now importing oil products to stave off shortages.

In a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget, Reps. Henry Waxman of California and John D. Dingell of Michigan contend "Halliburton seems to be inflating gasoline prices at a great cost to American taxpayers."

"The overcharging by Halliburton is so extreme that one expert has privately called it `highway robbery,' " the letter said.

According to the two lawmakers, Halliburton has charged the government $1.62 to $1.70 a gallon for gasoline that could be bought wholesale in the Persian Gulf region for about 71 cents and transported to Iraq for no more than 25 cents. The fuel was sold in Iraq for 4 cents to 15 cents a gallon, the letter said.

Wendy Hall of Halliburton declined to address the specific calculations, saying the company's KBR unit in Iraq, "continues to negotiate fair and competitive prices to provide fuel to the Iraqi people."


I guess the Bush administration wasn't lying -- apparently this wasn't a war for oil -- it was a war to generate a captive consumer market for amerikan corporations to bully. I am ashamed of this country.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Some great Rush Limbaugh quotes, researched by the people at Wisdom Today :

"We're going to let you destroy your life. We're going to make it easy and then all of us who accept the responsibilities of life and don't destroy our lives on drugs, we'll pay for whatever messes you get into."

-- Rush Limbaugh show, Dec. 9, 1993

"I'm appalled at people who simply want to look at all this abhorrent behavior and say people are going to do drugs anyway let's legalize it. It's a dumb idea. It's a rotten idea and those who are for it are purely 100 percent selfish."

-- Rush Limbaugh show, Dec 9, 1993

"If (Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders) wants to legalize drugs, send the people who want to do drugs to London and Zurich, and let's be rid of them.

-- Rush Limbaugh show, Dec 9, 1993

"There's nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.

"What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."

-- Rush Limbaugh show, Oct. 5, 1995

"You know I have always tried to be honest with you and open about my life. So I need to tell you today that part of what you have heard and read is correct. I am addicted to prescription pain medication.

-- Rush Limbaugh, Oct 10, 2003

"OxyContin. Hydrocodone. Highly addictive opiates. A gargantuan number of pills over several years — almost 100 a day on one 47-day binge. His 42-year-old housekeeper, Wilma Cline, says she dealt the closely controlled pills to America's top-rated syndicated radio host. Some were hidden under his mattress so his wife wouldn't find them. Others were passed in a Denny's parking lot. Another public moralist had been caught in a personal jam. And Rush's words were coming back to haunt him. The constant digs at Bill Clinton not inhaling. The heartless shrug when Jerry Garcia died.

"'When you strip it all away," Rush had said of the Grateful Dead guitarist, "Jerry Garcia destroyed his life on drugs. And yet he's being honored, like some godlike figure. Our priorities are out of whack, folks."

-- Ellis Henican, Newsday, Oct 3, 2003

It's time to start championing old-fashioned virtues like fidelity, chastity, sobriety, self-restraint, self-discipline and self-reliance, and responsibility. Is that so unthinkable? Is that too much to ask?"

-- Rush Limbaugh, from his book, "See I Told You So"

Friday, August 15, 2003

8/5/03 San Cristobal In the afternoon, we went to K’inal Antzetik (Land of Women), an indigenous women’s collective selling traditional textiles to the national and international community. We met with four women, three of whom were members of the board of directors and one who was a consultant to the group. They represent approximately 30 communities, acting as the agent both in San Cristobal as well as various markets in Europe.

8/6/03 San Cristobal Today, we leave for the city of Comitan, approximately an hour and a half from San Cristobal. We took Combis, collective Suburban type SUVs, to the city. We transferred to the back of pickup trucks for the bumpy ride into the neighboring villages. The first village we entered was Las Laureleas (sp?), a village of approximately 45 families, comprising about 200 people. Under a big tree and while the children of farmers scatted about, we listened as each of the designated speakers took turns talking about an aspect of life in their community.

The woman who spoke about “economics” really had an impact. She spoke of how the plummeting prices for their main agriculture product, corn (thanks WTO, IMF and World Bank!) had forced many of the men to leave the community to look for work. Many went to the US, she said, and some were very lucky, sending back money to their wives and children. Others weren’t so lucky, she said. Some came back dead, the victims of violence or the harsh working conditions for immigrants in the US.

Another speaker talked about how the biotechnology companies, including Monsanto, have come into the villages buying meals and cokes for the village and offering genetically modified corn to them. Las Laureleas has repeatedly turned down the company’s offers. Some of the neighboring villages have tried the corn, which has caused concern that the rogue crops are contaminating their fields. The good news, at east so far, is that the engineered corn is much more resource intensive and hasn’t performed well in the harsh conditions of the area.

In a country where the safety net for many is non-existent or weak at best, it’s amazing to be around people who choose to work together collectively for the best of the group. In the villages, if a person needs medical care, everyone contributes to pay the person’s medical expenses and others work their fields while they are away.

Again, I was struck by how aware these remote villages were to issues like globalization and genetically modified foods. It gives me hope that we can still organize and demand change in our own backyard.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

8/5/03 San Cristobal Today we visited the Centro Integral Para Capacitacion Indigena, or CIPCI. CIPCI provides vocational training to indigenous people in its location on the outskirts of San Cristobal. They have about 75 people on the school grounds being trained in such skills as auto repair, electronics, agriculture and a host of other skills. They live communally with an emphasis on self-sufficiency. They grow their own organic vegetables and raise chickens and rabbits. It is amazing how politically aware people are in this area. They know a tremendous amount about the issues of GMOs, agribusiness and globalization in general.
8/4/03 San Cristobal

The NGO is Desarollo Economico Social de los Mexicanos Indigenes or DESMI, which in English stands for Economic and Social Development for Indigenus Mexicans. In the early 90's they broke off from the catholic church and now work in 16 communities in the state of Chiapas, helping develop collectives and offering small loans for community projects. They also offer support on Fair Trade issues and cooperatives.

They are funded primarily by international organizations like Oxfam and others. They accept no support from the Mexican government, although at one time they were approached by the state governor (Pablo Salazar) to work on a joint project. The project was later revealed to be an effort to divide the indigenous communities and was soon rejected both by the indigenous communities and DESMI.

In the afternoon, we attended a meeting with Amando Figueroa, lawyer, teacher and one time governor of the state of Chiapas, or at least he was elected governor by a majority of people in the state of Chiapas. Figueroa was supported by the Zapatistas and others had the election stolen from him and he narrowly escaped a government arranged assassination attempt.

It was truly amazing to get to meet this man who has been a critical part of the history of the Zapatistas since their public debut in 1994. In fact, Figueroa can be seen walking alongside Subcommandante Marcos in the first images captured by the national media. You can see his picture here. He was a charming and thoughtful man who has also drafted a proposed state constitution for Chiapas and another that would revamp the constitution of Mexico. It was remarkable to get to meet him, sitting in his home office.

He also extended the invitation that Marcos made to people all over the world to converge on the autonomous community of Oventik on the 8, 9 and 10th. We will be there.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

8/3/03 San Cristobal After a walk through the plaza and the markets, we stopped at the first bar that looked reasonably interesting for a few beers. We had a ham sandwich and a small meat empanada and 4 or 5 Bohemias.

Then Cassie got sick.

That evening, a dinner was held at one of those oh-so-painfully hip vegetarian restaurants that are near the plaza. The dinner was arranged by the tour group for all the members of the tour to meet. Cassie complained of stomach pains and nausea and had to leave before the entrees were served. I walked her back to the hotel and then went back for my dinner. It was a difficult night for both of us, but far worse for her.

8/3/03 San Cristobal After breakfast, we reviewed the itinerary for the next 10 days or so. The most notable point of all of this is that the Zapatista rebels have declared that on August 8, 9 and 10 they will be throwing a party for the entire world to celebrate their transition from a miltary governement to a civil one. This marks a pretty crazy time for a number of reasons, but most importantly, they have announced that all the rebel leaders will be in attendance at the party, which will feature music, dancing and a basketball tournament in the autonomous community of Oventik, in the jungle. Also, the rebels have announced that they are breaking off all negotiations with the government, and that is a major question mark about the future of the Zapatistas, the villages and the people who are going to the party. Stay posted.

Today, we visited one of the many NGOs that work in the indigenous communities.

Monday, August 04, 2003

8/3/03 San Cristobal
We made a couple of miscalculations about the culture today. First, this is not an early rising culture, so being the first people on the street at 8:00 AM-ish will make you stick out like a sore thumb. Second, this was an especially bad day to be out early since it was Sunday and EVERYONE seemed to be at church, except for the Eurotrash.

Today we found a cybercafe so we could be at least moderately plugged in while here, if only for narcicisstic (sp?) weblogs. This city caters to travelers, many who are on their way to Guatemala or Mexico City. In fact, many tourists appear oblivious to the rebels not far outside of town. Maybe they notice the governement soldiers with machine guns in the plaza (the site of the very first Zapatista action on the eve of NAFTA in 1994), but it does not seem to affect them. The first computer in the cyber cafe crashed hard in the middle of my first post, which set this weblog way behind. I am trying to catch up but I have promised myself only one hour online a day. This is too amazing a place to spend it in front of a computer, although cybercafes are like bars here. All the young Chiapans hang out here, mailing jokes across the room to each other and smoking cigarettes.

We made a trip to the Indian Market today. That was a serious market. Fruits, vegetables, and freshly slaughtered beef and chicken, all at room temperature. It made me think about how resillient people are. I am sure that if you took a chicken home from there and cooked it up into some chilliquilles, it would be just fine. Americans, however, have come to expect their food processed and packed into discrete, refrigerated packages, far removed from the place it was slaughtered. The funny thing is that all that processing and transport required a soup of antibiotics, hormones and waste, and the product approaches toxic, both to the purchaser and the world. This place makes me remember why we need to return to local markets and local producers.

We also walked to the edge of the Centro Districto (Central District) today to the Museum of Mayn Medicine. There were displays of indigenous medicinal plants used in their medical practice. I watched a video about Mayan childbirth, a disgusting process, no matter what the culture.

We have also moved hotels to the one that will be used by the group that we are meeting tonight. I hope they are not too freaky.

The indians that travel to the market place are dark, slightly built and very, very, very poor. Most still wear traditional dress made up of colorful wraps or thick, dark wool skirts. I hope to grab some pictures of them, but photography can be offensive to them. Understandable. This is their lives, not a display for the tourists.


Tuxla Gutierrez

If you are ever traveling through Latin America, give yourself a day at a Camino Real Hotel. They have beautiful facilities and truly outstanding breakfasts. I had a hearty couple of helpings of chililquilis and a few cups of excellent Chiapan coffee. The hotels are not cheap, but they are outstanding. Ok, enough of the commercial.

After breakfast, we took a cab to Tuxla Gutierrez Zoo. The zoo was slightly lacking in animals due to a remodeling, but since it was free we really didn´t mind. The tourists were all Mexican except us. The most interesting part was these rats that roamed the grounds freely. As large as your average house cat, they were at once cool and disgusting.

We ended up in frantic scramble through the bust terminal to catch the last bus to San Cristobal for the day. The bus was $3.80 USD to ride in a first class bus for the two hour trip, complete with a movie.

The bus went up high in the mountains to San Cristobal. When we arrived, the temperature dropped substancially as we entered the very lively city.

We had some bad luck as we found out our hotel was at a location very far away from the center of town. The hotel was nice, but we decided it was too far to be an easy trip back and forth between the central district and the hotel. After an excruciatingly difficult conversation in my rusty spanish we got the front desk to arrange a reservation at their sister location right on the main plaza. Of course, we still had to pay for the room we abandoned, but hey, so it goes.

After the hotel hubub, we had dinner at Fog√≥n de Jovel, a cheesy tourist trap with excellent food and pretty good prices. The reason I call it a trap is the decor, which is filled with memorbillia of the Zapatistas. Clearly, it was built to capitalize on the interest in our rebel friends. It just felt so trendy. Plus, it was packed to the gills with the people everyone loves to hate -- Eurotrash. Just a note on the tourists here. There are few americans running around here. I suppose going to an area in the midst of a low intensity war is not high on most travel lists. ¿No?

We had drinks made with posh, a corn based liquor favored by locals. Pretty mild stuff after New Orleans.

This city seems like an awesome place to be an expatriate in.

Sunday, August 03, 2003


Travel Day

We left New Orleans at 10 PM and transferred in Houston to Mexico City. I think I would like to spend some time in Mexico City. It seems very cosmpolitan, or at least so by the looks of its airport.

We arrived in Tuxla Gutierrez at about 6 PM. After a quick swim in the very swanky Camino Real pool, we had dinner at a restaurant called Las Pichanchas, which specialized in native (Chiapaneco, or Chiapan People´s food). We had an awesome dinner of tamales and Bohemias, for about $13 USD. Tuxla Gutierrez is not a pretty town -- it is the business capiatl of Chiapas state, and it shows. We walked back to the hotel from the restaurant for about an hour on Avenida Central. It had the feel of one of the Mexican towns that borders the US, with many homeless and a little bit grungy. It also has a Sam´s Club, and Office Depot and other staples of Generica. We're trying to decide what to do tomorrow. We will either explore Tuxla a little bit more or go straight on to our final destination, San Cristobal de Las Casas.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

So, here's the e-mail I got today from my collaborator on the film:

>Heat was accepted into the Atlanta Film Fest!

>Holy Mother of Pearl!

So, we have now broken into the world of the cheesy film fests!

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Anyone who is actually paying attention to this site (or my social life for that matter) will notice that I haven't been too prolific lately. Basically, I bit off more than I could chew with school and I have been in a two month hell of my own making. this is not a whine, though. It was completely self-inflicted. It is an apology to anyone who I have neglected to promptly reply to.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

OK, so I put up the beginnings of a long overdue photo project called The Bars of Central City. It really should be renamed though. It should be called "Some of the Bars of Central City." _The_ makes it seems so definitive when indeed it is not. However, it's a lot of work to change the title, so it will stand. It's a beginning anyway.

Friday, June 13, 2003

paraskevidekatriaphobia (pair.uh.skee.vee.dek.uh.tree.uh.FOH.bee.uh) n.

Fear of Friday the 13th.
--paraskevidekatriaphobic adj., n.
--paraskevidekatriaphobe n.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Mondays are now a FOUR HOUR break between classes. I am actually enjoying the first block of unstructured time I can remember in a very long time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Fun Stuff From My Home Town

BUSTER SOUTHERLY, GREEN LEFT WEEKLY - On May 1, poet, teacher, youth
poetry coach and Green Left Weekly writer Bill Nevins received a terse
notice from the Rio Rancho School District informing him that he has
been fired from his Rio Rancho High School teaching position, effective
from August. Reasons for his termination were not stated. Nevins has
requested an explanation.

Nevins was suspended on March 17 from his job as a humanities teacher
and coach of the RRHS Poetry Team/Write Club. RRHS is the largest public
high school in New Mexico, built with funding from the Intel Corporation
in the late 1990s. Nevins' suspension came soon after a student poetry
club member read "Revolution X", an anti-government, anti-war
social-commentary poem, over the school's closed-circuit TV system.
Following Nevins' suspension, student poets were questioned by the RRHS
administration and their poems were "investigated" for "profanity and
incitement to violence", according to the student author of "Revolution
X" and other student writers. The Poetry Team/Write Club has been
disbanded. . . The firing of Nevins is a blow to the outspoken student
poetry movement, which was inspired in large part by the Poetry 180
national program launched by US Poet Laureate Billy Collins. . .

The staff member who complained about the reading of "Revolution X" has
been identified by the administration as Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence
Morrell, the school's military liaison officer, a school guidance
counselor and member of the administration's appointed staff development
committee. Morrell is notorious for his bellicose pro-war, pro-Bush
pronouncements over the school's communications system. He is also known
for his vigorous recruitment of students into the US military.

Friday, May 02, 2003

This week's theme: just how disgusted can we be with American media?

Harper's Editor Accuses Media of Aiding U.S. War Propaganda

And even though this article reflects a pissing contest between billionaire media moguls, it's still a good read:

Turner Calls Rival Media Mogul Murdoch 'Warmonger'

Sunday, March 23, 2003

The mood in the city right now is of anger. Anger at this very dark time in history and anger at this scary situation, regardless of whether you feel war is justified. People are drinking harder in bars, driving faster and operating on increasingly shorter fuses.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

This guy is such a complete moron I can't even believe it:

Here's my friend Dave's response:

Hahh, hahhh! Too funny!! The paper is right; every idea, even stupid ones, must run its course. I am saying, do away with the French Kiss.
From now on, straight to blow jobs.


Sunday, February 16, 2003

We need to share more of everything without reservation. I know this to be true and know that real progress occurs only when we share selflessly, but I’m trying to work something out. Let’s see if I can define the problem first, see if the problem is real and logical (?).

I borrow liberally from other people’s ideas to better improve the way I communicate, act, think and basically exist. If I see a good idea, I first try to understand its basic form, why it works and how it can be repurposed for some need I have. I think this is healthy and is what defines humans as smart monkeys. The frustrating part of this is needless duplication. For example, if you think my idea for say, a newspaper on the plight of minimum wage workers is really a good one and you decide to use the concept for a newspaper on I don’t know, let’s say ironwork, I think that you have effectively repurposed my idea and that is commendable. My concern is that when you try to start your own newspaper on the plight of minimum wage workers in the same space as the one I started, that you dilute both of our efforts in the process. I think this competitive type of existence is typical of modern capitalist driven mentality which has questionable validity for most of society and is absolutely worthless and destructive for people genuinely trying to effect positive social change.

Here are my suggestions:

If someone has a good idea, a creative scheme or even a creative repurposing of another idea, respect that they are the creators. Nitpicking someone else’s idea makes you seem petty and uncreative.

If you like their idea, can you work with them? Can you share leadership? Can you assist them to be better?

If not, should you compete with them? Ask yourself why you want to compete with someone. Envy? Frustration?

I know this is a light treatment, but I'm not writing a book here! I have thinking a lot about this lately because of competitive people around me and I’m not sure what to do to address it. Should I join in the competition (which I think is lame), should I ignore it (which I try to do now, but ignoring it seems to make it worse at times), or should I call it out?

I am open to suggestions.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Reprinted from FAIR

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

This year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes as the U.S. is moving toward
war in Iraq. As media prepare to air retrospectives on King, we thought it
would be a good time to circulate this 1995 column by FAIR founder Jeff
Cohen and FAIR associate Norman Solomon.


Media Beat, January 4, 1995

The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV

By Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of
Martin Luther King's birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports
about "the slain civil rights leader."

The remarkable thing about this annual review of King's life is that
several years-- his last years-- are totally missing, as if flushed down a
memory hole.

What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King
battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial
harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in
Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in
Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968.
Yet King didn't take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he
was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they're not shown
today on TV.


It's because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin
Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial
discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV
and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips
and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote
or to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began
challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil
rights laws were empty without "human rights"-- including economic rights.
For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King
said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white,
King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps
between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of
our society" to redistribute wealth and power.

"True compassion," King declared, "is more than flinging a coin to a
beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs

By 1967, King had also become the country's most prominent opponent of the
Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he
deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New
York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967-- a year to the day before he was
murdered-- King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of
violence in the world today."

From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was "on
the wrong side of a world revolution." King questioned "our alliance with
the landed gentry of Latin America," and asked why the U.S. was
suppressing revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the
Third World, instead of supporting them.

In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining
about "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia,
Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for
the social betterment of the countries."

You haven't heard the "Beyond Vietnam" speech on network news
retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967--
and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it "demagogic slander that
sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post patronized
that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his

In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his
life: the Poor People's Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble
"a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington--
engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be--
until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights. Reader's Digest
warned of an "insurrection."

King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs
to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress
that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor"-- appropriating
"military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty
funds with miserliness."

How familiar that sounds today, more than a quarter-century after King's
efforts on behalf of the poor people's mobilization were cut short by an
assassin's bullet.

As 1995 gets underway, in this nation of immense wealth, the White House
and Congress continue to accept the perpetuation of poverty. And so do
most mass media. Perhaps it's no surprise that they tell us little about
the last years of Martin Luther King's life.


Media Beat is Norman Solomon's weekly syndicated column on media and
politics. Until 1996, the column was co-written by FAIR's founder, Jeff
Cohen (Cohen no longer works at FAIR). For more Media Beat columns, visit:


You can listen to some of Martin Luther King Jr.'s anti-war speeches,
including the Riverside Church speech, at the National Radio Project's