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Update
In a stunning turn of events, I am busy. I’ve been getting home at 7 pm and working on assorted assignments until midnight, then waking up to do it again at 8 am. Tomorrow I’ll be heading out to Georgetown to hang with a Delaware friend. I consider this a healthy course of action. Glenn Reynolds can goof off all he wants, but if I slack, a newspaper suffers.

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New location
I am, as of Wednesday, a son of the South. Finally!

Hm. Maybe that’s not entirely true. I’m actually in Arlington, VA, part of the leering morass of suburbs and highways that surround Washington, DC. I’m about 20 minutes from work, and further from a metro station than I’d like, but the actual area around me is quite nice – quiet, diverse, cultured. And driving in the DC area is much more fun than driving similar distances in the flat Midwest.

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That’s entertainment
I’ve been spending my last days in Evanston blowing off work and immersing myself in filmed entertainment. Surprised? Here are some capsule reviews.

The Decline of Western Civilization
A masterpiece. Penelope Spheeris’s first (of three) explorations of the LA music scene is simultaneously thrilling, stupid and historic. Thrilling because the bands on display – The Germs, X, Black Flag, Circle Jerks – were the best of the early 1980s. Stupid because, well, have you ever heard these guys talk? Historic because this is probably the last filmed document of the Ron Reyes Black Flag or the living Darby Crash.

Recommended reading: “Lexicon Devil” by Bryan Mullen, “We Got the Neutron Bomb” by Marc Spitz

The Prisoner (series)
I found this legendary psych-out spy drama much less than its reputation suggested. It starts slow and has incredibly dry patches, probably because creator/star Patrick McGoohan settled for a 17-episode package after proposing a lean 7-episode series. Even as a mini-series, I feel it would have been a little doomed – McGoohan was rebelling against the conventions of TV drama, so every episode unfolds in a very unconvential, unpredictable, herky-jerky way.

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The whys
I have no explanation or justification for the 10-day vacation that was taken from this blog. I’ve been trying to soak up as many movies and assorted Evanston experiences as possible, and the weather has finally creeped up to survivable levels. But I should post some reviews tomorrow.

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Micah Ian Wright lies to Amy Goodman about his military service.
In the first draft of his mea culpa, Micah Ian Wright claimed that the “corporate media” was to blame for the ease in which his lies about military service spread.

My outrageous lies were printed verbatim. They’d dedicated two full pages to a ridiculous hoax which could have been exposed with a half hour’s work. My beliefs in the veracity of the corporate media had been shaken previously, but now they were shattered. I couldn’t figure it out. How had this happened? I stared at the paper in shock. Then I realized that the Washington Post had only done what they normally do: run whatever anyone in a uniform or position of authority told them to … No wonder huge corporations get away with Enron-sized ripoffs. No wonder Jayson Blair was able to get away with making up the news. No wonder that 55% of Americans still think that Saddam Hussein carried out the 9/11 attacks. The media was sleeping on the job. The Jayson Blair story exploded at the New York Times in April of 2003–the story about “Ranger Micah” ran in the Washington Post on July 6th, 2003. It wasn’t like they had no idea that there was a problem or that they should check their sources. Why were they so asleep at the switch?

No one can say that Pacifica Radio is part of the “corporate media.” Its flagship show “Democracy Now” gives listeners this guarantee:

Democracy Now! is funded entirely through contributions from listeners, viewers, and foundations. We do not accept advertisers, donations from corporations, or donations from governments. This allows us to maintain our independence.

Micah Ian Wright appeared on “Democracy Now” on May 28, 2003. Host Amy Goodman interviewed him for a segment on his book “Back the Attack.” The audio is available here, and I have typed up the relevant portions.

She begins:

GOODMAN: We turn to a former army ranger who has – who was in Panama – who has spent his last years doing something interesting, and that is putting together a book of war posters.

At the 1:10 minute mark, she repeats the lie.

GOODMAN: After spending four years invading other countries as an airborne ranger in the US Army, Micah Wright moved onto the next logical step in his career – writing childrens books and animation.

At the 2:40 minute mark, Goodman begins asking about military service.

GOODMAN: And then you have, on the back of your book, a poster of a US soldier in full combat gear, with helmet, and he is throwing a grenade, and the quote is: “What the expletive am I doing here? I only joined up for the college money.

WRIGHT: Yeah, that’s actually my favorite poster I think I’ve ever done, because that’s literally me. That guy right there – that’s me. I joined the army to pay for college. And it did pay for college. And at the end of the day it was a very Faustian bargain that I did not feel comfortable with at the end of it.

GOODMAN: When did you join?

WRIGHT: 1987.

GOODMAN: And when did you go to college?

WRIGHT: 1991. So four years.

GOODMAN: And during that time, what did you do?

WRIGHT: I was an airborne ranger. I lived a life of danger. Uh – that’s a Jody call, sorry. Things we used to say when we marched around. Um, the rangers are the first to fight, in the United States army. We invaded Panama, we took out their primary airforce base – just demolished it – and then spread throughout the country looking for Noriega, looking for his personal bodyguards, you know, it seems like all these dictators always have their “special” military units. We spread throughout the country to look for them, and then we kind of wound up back in Panama City just in time to watch it burn to the ground. So …

GOODMAN: What effect did it have on you? What happened in the city?

WRIGHT: Well, you know, when you’re jumping out of a plane and there’s people shooting at your parachute, and you get to the ground, you don’t feel real bad about shooting back at them. But, you know, when you’re standing on a street corner and you’re watching 80,000 people flee a fire, and they’re dragging their two kids and their television set behind them, it gets kind of … it kind of brings it home, that, you know, what the United States does overseas is not exactly all fun and games. And it’s not always aimed at the people who are responsible. I mean, you know, there’s a slum in Panama called El Chorrio, and we bombed their version of the Pentagon, a place called the Commandancia, and the fire spread from the Commandancia to the slum. It was just a built-up, huge slum with no fire safety and no modern, building standards and just fire raged for three days and burned to the ground and left 80,000 people homeless, and killed countless numbers of people in the fire itself, and just created this immense refugee crisis that we were completely ill-prepared to deal with because, again, we’re trained to kill, not to take care of people. You see the same thing happening now in Iraq. You know, you have a military structure which ignored every possible warning that they had, that they would be facing a massive civilian catastrophe, and they didn’t put any extra police units in, they didn’t have anywhere near enough boots on the ground to make sure that they didn’t have the rioting, and they wilfully refused to learn from the past invasions and from the past lessons of their wars.

GOODMAN: In Panama, where were you when Chorrio was burning down?

WRIGHT: Well, when the fire started I was actually still at Rio Hato, and then when it was winding down I was in Panama City.

GOODMAN: And what were other soldiers saying? Other rangers? Were you alone in your feelings?

WRIGHT: No, I don’t think I was. I think I’ve always been a lot more outspoken about the way I feel about things, but I know a lot of people were just sitting there watching that and just shaking their heads, going, “What’s the point of this? This is a war on civilians.” And whether or not it was an accident, which many people say it was, it doesn’t matter. It still, at the end of the day, there’s tons of people dead and thousands, you know, tens of thousands out of a house.

GOODMAN: We have to break for 60 seconds. When we come back I want to ask you about some of the posters you’ve done and also about the effect of media consolidation on your work.

WRIGHT: Oh, sure.

GOODMAN: So, folks, stay with us.

This ends at the 7 minute mark. Wright had told completely fabricated stories about his military experience for more than four minutes.