Tag Archive for 'Iraq'

Young Americans: My Name is Anis

Though many of us born in the U.S.A. take the privilege of living here for granted, an average of *400,000 new immigrants come to this country every year, legally, to work harder than most of us ever have for a chance to achieve their dream of a better life, and one that doesn’t usually include a new BMW, the latest I-phone, a billboard-size flat screen and 12 Billion thread-count sheets. Anis is one of these people.

Shot this 4 years ago and never put it out. Stumbled upon the footage a couple of weeks ago, cut it together and was excited to see how poignant Anis’ story is today.

And so I introduce to a young man who spends 18 hours a day on his feet at “Melrose Metal Mart” selling cigarettes, booze, donuts, soda, bread, beer, chips, hot dogs, sandwiches, postcards, newspapers and dirty magazines, with a smile on his face, to a potpourri of often less-than-savory patrons, and somehow still always finds time to talk life.

Make sure to stick around after the credits for outtakes including the “best weed in the state,” the redneck Jew and a visit from some crackhead con men.

*Although the number of adjustments has greatly varied between 1986 and 2006, the number of new arrivals has remained relatively stable at about 400,000 per year. The Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, published by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS)

Hero of the Week: Muntadar al-Zaidi

“This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog.” Mr. al-Zaidi howled as he threw his first shoe at President George W. Bush. “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq,” he yelled as he threw the second.

Well put, Mr. al-Zaidi.

Thank you for sacrificing your shoes and saying what many have wanted to say to that squinty shitbag for 8 years. And I know it’s only Monday, but unless somebody punches George Bush square in the face by Friday, I don’t think there will be a better candidate for “Hero of the Week” this week. So send me your address Mr. al-Zaidi and I’ll send you some kicks. And not sandals, something that will hurt when it hits.

This pair’s on me.

Change Came. I Slept In.

Last night I sat and wept alone when they called it. DJ’d a quick America The Beautiful/The Horrible set for three before I went out. Threw down some Ron Clark Academy, Don McClean, David Bowie, Cornelius, Radiohead, MC5, Prince, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, LCD Soundsystem, Tom Petty, the US Airforce Band, some other shit, and somehow worked (forced) in the Presets at the end. Hit up a party. Went to Gold Room to see Dr. Wu. Drank a bit. Danced a lot. Yelled ‘Yes We Can!’ about 300 times, at friends and strangers alike. There were lots of hugs and high fives all around.

And then I woke up and soon realized that hope, like my daily dose of SAM-E, did not replace the fear, but only made it more manageable.

My worry is that we will all forget what’s important as soon as the Barack buzz wears off just like we dropped the ‘my brother’s keeper’ ball after 9/11. After the towers went down, people gave a shit about this country and about each other again for about three weeks. I remember how quiet the streets were. Everybody sitting at the stop sign waving ‘no, you go,’ to one another. I was counting down the days until the horns started blasting again and I think I made it to something like 22.

I first got excited about politics during Bill Clinton’s campaign. He somehow inspired me to give a shit about something other than music, movies, drugs and girls. Maybe it was the saxophone or the Fleetwood Mack. Who knows. Anyway, mid-nineties I moved from Chicago to LA and the future looked bright (stress on the ‘looked’ part). I was broke, but the country was fat with tech cash. There was no war that we could see, terrorism seemed a world away, torture was something other countries did to their prisoners and the most famous BJ in the world, from my perspective, was merely proof that our president had a pulse. The American Dream looked to again be in reach and I got comfortable. I got lazy. I didn’t care to say much more than ‘turn that shit up, man.’

And then Bush was elected. 9/11 hit. We invaded Afghanistan. We invaded Iraq. I devoured every bit of information I could on the rich and sordid history and politics of our country and poured over thousands upon thousands of pages detailing many of the very bad things our country has done, in secret, in the middle of the night, without it’s citizens knowing, and with no regards for the law, let alone wrong or right. (It’s one thing to be aware of the fact that the CIA helped make possible the coup that removed Chilean President Salvador Allende from power in 1973, but a crazy new world of fear opens up when you read through declassified CIA documents discussing his takedown.) And as freaked the fuck out as I was, I was once again possessed by my thirst for the truth and hope for the future.

We all too quickly forget what we stand to lose when we are happy. Positivity is obviously a good thing, but too much of it can be numbing.

As I watched Barack’s electoral vote count race towards 270 in the final hours, the weight that big sad reality couldn’t help but taint my idea of what a victory would mean. There’s only one Barack after all and if he gets too tied up in his daily presidential rigmarole, too busy to inspire, re-inspire and inspire again, this country will quickly fall back to sleep.

In his acceptance speech, Barack addressed my fear, calling us all into the service of our country, believing in us as we have believed in him. He’s already made history and has a chance to make more, so I’m going to trust him for now. But can I trust me?

Toronto: What Canadians Really Think of Americans

Why Have Faith in Ability When You Can Have Strength in Power?

I thought I was scared…

when Sara “everymom” Palin made the comment at the Republican National Convention about the difference between hockey moms and Pit Bulls being lipstick. Her lackluster service record, incredible inability to manage the budget of a tiny Alaskan town of just over 5,000 prior to being elected governor of Alaska, the rumor that she was tucked away in her hotel room for a week prior to the convention cramming for a crash course on foreign policy and the fact that I’ve had more foreign “affairs” than she has, only added to the shivers.

Trying to coax some of the defecting Republicans back to the GOP while at the same time attempting to woo the Hillary crowd seems to be the feat that just might stretch poor old McCain’s synapses into a deeper case of dementia.

When members of his own party are referring to his choice as political bullshit, how straight can the talk be?

But for me the fear really set in when old GI McCain waddled out onto the newly rebuilt “town hall style” stage before a rowdy mob of 20,000 narrow-minded, war-mongering robots last night.

The opening video presentation introduced McCain the everyman and dropped a poorly written, ill-timed joke about McCain being a “momma’s boy” and then dashed straight into the first of many chapters discussing GI McCain’s illustrious military career.

After spending a good 20% of his speech on his own war experiences and popping off the quotable “I’d rather lose an election than see my country lose a war,” McCain made sure to lamely point out his distaste for bloodshed.

An “Iraq War Veteran Against the War” threw up a banner and was quickly neutralized by security before somebody in McCain”s posse must’ve got the note that the images were going out live. After stripping the soldier of his banner, with no others options, security left the Vet to hand deliver his message, two simple peace signs.

A duo of female protesters were not so lucky. Less strategically placed in the belly of the slaughterhouse, they were manhandled by beefcakes in black suits and carried off like common criminals as McCain’s mob chanted “USA! USA! USA!” as if there was a gold medal on the line.

“Please don’t be diverted by the ground noise and the static,” McCain implored the crowd to a swell of cheers, illustrating his keen respect for free speech and added “Americans want us to stop yelling at each other.”

Huh?

And although I’m not always a fan of guerrilla protests I’ll admit that I was excited to see, one-by-one, signs thrown up above the heads of anti-McCain infiltrators until I realized that to the “USA” chanting masses these peaceful protests would only be seen as the tactless interruption of an American hero, not as an exercise of free speech, the protestor’s messages left to fall on deaf ears and in the end, further galvanize the red state hooligans against them.

But with so many Republicans voters voicing their concern over national security, McCain’s security team let there be no doubt on how descent would be handled during his administration: with muzzles and cuffs.

And I have to hand it to him, McCain’s message was clear: “Change is coming.”

Who he plagiarized the message from was also clear, but McCain’s definition of “change” was cloudy at best, as well as the details of his plans for the future of the country, and his attempts to educate the audience on his “opponents” plan incredibly misinformed.

Besides McCain’s preemptive thoughts of revenge on future pork barrel spenders, the promise of domestic oil drilling “now!” and tax cuts for corporations were the only topics that seem to put a twinkle in the Republican candidate’s animatronic eyes.

Sure the “dependable renegade” made some mention of putting some dollars aside (though a number or percentage went unmentioned) for alternative energy, but if he’s truly attempting to separate himself from the Bush administration it’s probably not the wisest choice to end his acceptance speech by goading the crowd into a chant of “fight, fight, fight!”