the great IIM reporting the takeover of Shea Stadium,
When Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience the Iraqi Info Min (turns out he's a Democrat, who knew?) had just claimed to have invaded the US and taken over Shea, then Yankee Stadium ("because it was snowing, and they knew the opener'd been cancelled and the stadium would be empty"), one listener called CBS to excoriate them for ignoring this vital piece of news, and another scolded Rush for foolishly leaking "a GO signal" to the Iraqi sleeper cells in NYC. You can laugh now, but these folks are probably more likely to vote than the five people sitting nearest to you right now.

Listen to the clip of Rush Limbaugh. [Did I really just write that? Thanks a lot, Monkey Disaster.]

For those who aren't familiar with Phoenix (the US city I've most heard Baghdad compared to on NPR), the Webby-nominated has published the Baghdad City Size Comparison.

With the ribbon-cutting for the American Express office still weeks away, and Halliburton's contract to build out the Iraqi ATM network caught up in the whole Cirrus vs. Carte-Bleu Smartchip debate, you may want to take some Iraqi dinars with you before you go. Wired reports on the popularity of Sadaam Dinars on eBay.

Did I say popularity? I meant bubble. "How much is a Pokemon worth today? Or a Nasdaq index? Yes, there is a Saddam Dinar bubble," confesses collectible currency dealer George Lindgren. But maybe your dotcom experience has enabled you to ride a bubble just right. Go ahead. Otherwise, for now, just take USD.

Lord Bless This Defender of Freedom Figurine, M-16 included,
For those who are put off by the Lord Bless This Defender of Freedom Figurine from The Bradford Group's Hamilton Collection, be of good cheer.

When the Power that made and preserved us a (free, capitalist) nation, He surely knew someone--even the original Precious Moments, created by His servant, Samuel Butcher-- would still minister to the non-M-16-toting, teardrop-eyed, religious, children-in-military-uniforms figurine market. (And if the Good Lord had wanted the PM figurine to be $19.95, like the Hamilton figurine, instead of $35.00, He wouldn't have created brand equity. What are you, a Godless communist?)

I'm proud to be an American-Army Figurine, image:

Visit the Precious Moments Chapel--which includes a PM-style copy of the Sistine Chapel--in Carthage, Missouri. Or visit the investor relations page of Enesco (NYSE: ENC, the manufacturer of Precious Moments.

April 8, 2003

Abu, Aladdin's little friend, conscripted by the Moroccan king, image:ape-o-naut.orgPaul Ford (you know, Ftrain?) snares An Interview With The Dolphin (the US Navy's mine-hunting, AWOL-going dolphin, that is).

If I knew Flash, I'd make Moroccan Minesweeper.

TMN: There are 2000 mine-sweeping monkeys that have been promised to the Iraqis by Morocco.

Takoma: See, thatís something people say, they go, ëa monkey could do this job.í Iím telling you something. You go to those minefields when they release those monkeys. You ever pour cherry Kool-Aid into a whaleís blowhole?

TMN: No.

Takoma: Thatís what those monkeys are going to look like in that minefield. Just puffs of red mist. Chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, chee, boom, poof. It takes brains to do this job, and flippers.

[on TMN.]

April 8, 2003

Or Shell-Shock and Awe, as the Voice's Joy Press calls it in an interesting article about the history of military psychiatry, and the evolution from WWI's "shell-shock" to Vietnam's PTSD. A lot of it is drawn from Ben Shephard's book, A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Twentieth Century [which the Voice excerpts].

April 8, 2003

From Bloggy, where Barry, too, wrestles with the ratio of art and war posts:

  • "Ballad of Revolt" was composed in 1942 by Harald SĘverud, a Norwegian musician fed up with the Nazi occupation. The song became an anthem for the peaceful resistance forces I mentioned earlier. You can listen to the piece in mp3.
  • Discussion and links from Barbara Pollack's Village Voice essay about the history of protest art. Related: an earlier post about Gran Fury and AIDS protest

  • April 8, 2003

    Slate's Timothy Noah rounds up some public relations experts to explain the increasingly reality-challenged statements of/give advice to Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf. Meanwhile, In the SF Chron, Ashraf Khalil comments on a live FoxNews interview with US troops in one of Sadaam's palaces, juxtaposed with a live rooftop statement from al-Sahhaf denying that there were any US soldiers in Baghdad. [Khalil bonus: the translator apparently struggles and ad-libs to accurately capture all the color of al-Sahhaf's statements.]

    As bloghdadded earlier, the NYT's John F. Burns was ahead of this news curve; here's how he closed his April 3 report from the streets of Baghad Read carefully. You don't have to argue over the definition of "cakewalk" to see that, in PR terms, al-Sahhaf is not actually lying (well, except for the whole "bitterly defeated" part) :

    At Kut, [al-Sahhaf] said, the Americans had been "bitterly defeated." At Hilla, too.

    "We're giving them a real lesson today," he burbled. " `Heavy' doesn't accurately describe the level of casualties we have inflicted."

    As for reports that American troops were nearing the airport at Baghdad, he chuckled. "The Americans aren't even 100 miles from Baghdad," he said.

    I say, credibility straining, obfuscation, and trying to put a pretty face on ugly events is SOP for an Information Minister, even if his title is "White House Press Secretary." Mike McCurry empathizes, ""I'm sure the poor guy has to do this because someone's going to shoot him if he doesn't. At least I never had that problem." That sighing sound you hear may be a sadly envious Ari Fleischer.

    Update: Slate rounds third with a lengthy list of al-Sahhaf profiles and fascinating speculations.

    Don't quite know where to categorize this post...probably between "Hey, that was my idea," and "Maybe if you'd mentioned it or moved on it..." David Edelstein looks at
    David O. Russell's 1999 GW1 movie, Three Kings through 2003 GW2 eyes:

    Again and again, he uses color, sound and surreal interpolations to break through the viewer's movie-fed, CNN-filtered, rock-'n'-roll-fueled dissociation. With its jarring mixture of tones, "Three Kings" was not a box-office blockbuster. But it looks more and more like a classic.
    What timing.A year ago, I met David when he came to NYC for a MoMA film dept. award. Since hanging out with him again in Feb., I've been thinking of the prescience of Three Kings. On his screen, Russell mapped the moral complexity on both sides in a very humanistic way, even as the twin towers of Sadaam's evil and UN/US righteousness dominated the other, television screens.

    In addition to the outrage of the US not supporting Iraqi uprisings in '91 (which is acid-etched in 3K), Russell's opposed to the current, um, incursion. But what also jerks his chain is the appropriation of 3K's "blown out, grainy, kinetic, CNNish" look and feel by the Go Army recruitment campaign.

    I'll root around and post some audio/video of DOR talking about Three Kings. Stay tuned. [In the mean time, try the DVD's great commentary tracks.]

    April 6, 2003

    Meg Laughlin's Sabbathy report from Camp Bushmaster, Iraq, in the Miami Herald [via IP]:

    "Army chaplain offers baptisms, baths"
    In this dry desert world near Najaf, where the Army V Corps combat support system sprawls across miles of scabrous dust, there's an oasis of sorts: a 500-gallon pool of pristine, cool water.

    It belongs to Army chaplain Josh Llano of Houston, who sees the water shortage, which has kept thousands of filthy soldiers from bathing for weeks, as an opportunity.

    ''It's simple. They want water. I have it, as long as they agree to get baptized,'' he said.

    And agree they do. Every day, soldiers take the plunge for the Lord and come up clean for the first time in weeks.

    Camp Bushmaster??

    Dean Falvy turns to Huig de Groot--aka Hugo Grotius, the Dutch inventor, essentially, of international law, who died in 1645--for a very useful, not-at-all-polemical discussion of legal and other implications of the US invasion of Iraq. The only point of view which is flattened is the one where our world has changed so utterly that "old" ways and ideas are useless on their face.

    [Cocktail party tip: it's pronounced GRO-shus, like bodacious, not GRO-tee-us, like grody. Now go impress your friends.]

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    Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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