The Riff

Ted Nugent's Racist Spectacle at Texas Governor's Inaugural Ball

| Thu Jan. 18, 2007 9:27 PM EST

Is Texas Governor Rick Perry crazy, or is he just a big fan of Cat Scratch Fever? The final act at Perry's inaugural ball in Austin Tuesday night featured redneck rocker Ted Nugent, who, according to the San Antonio Express News, "appeared onstage wearing a cut-off T-shirt emblazoned with a Confederate flag and shouting unflattering remarks about undocumented immigrants, including kicking them out of the country, according to people who were in attendance. Machine guns, including an AK-47, were his props."

The funny thing for those who know Nugent is that he was actually being pretty tame. Two years ago, when I saw him speak at a National Rifle Association conference in Houston, he had this to say:

Remember the Alamo! Shoot 'em! To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child molestors dead. I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want 'em dead. Get a gun, and when they attack you, shoot 'em.

That one was widely reported. But the AP didn't relate several other Nugent gems from that day. Among them was something he said while recounting a USO tour of Iraq: "I was just hoping somebody would take me hostage," he said. "Just aim for the laundry." (Which was even more odd when you consider that Iraqis generally don't wear turbans). Much of this was said while Nugent was holding an assault rifle. He wound up the tirade by concluding that Democrats, guilty of tax-raising and gun muzzling, should be "eliminated."

There has been a lot of talk in Texas that Gov. Perry could be tapped to run for Vice President. Maybe McCain should just nominate Nugent instead. The bigot vote would be in the bag.

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Closest Place With No Clear Channel Ads: Bergen, Norway

| Thu Jan. 18, 2007 6:10 PM EST

A small town in Norway shows us that activism can be effective and that advertising doesn't have to consume our (uh... their) lives. Activists in Bergen, a small university town on the Western coast, took on Clear Channel -- not wanting their beautiful town to be overrun with advertisements -- and succeeded. (Well almost -- more later.) I know! As an American, I can't imagine a life without constant ads that are plastered everywhere -- on every highway billboard and on public transit. And then there is product placement in movies and TV shows, and of course, there's cable and local television's 40:20 rate of show-viewing to ads. It's nauseating, really. Mother Jones reported on this very topic in our current issue. "Ad Nauseum" is chock full of statistics, including that children alone are exposed to 40,000 ads per year.

But in Bergen, Norway, citizens weren't going to let their children, or the adults, face this ominous future. Faced with budget constraints, the City Council began negotiations with Clear Channel and one other company in 2004. The winning company would fund the building of the city's bus shelters and in return, the company would gain ad space in the city (on the bus shelters as well as on some lighted billboards elsewhere). It looked like Clear Channel had sealed the deal, when out of the blue, activists in the community showed up on the scene with its "Keep Clear Channel Out of Bergen" campaign. They started a mailing list and instead of demonizing the corporation they rallied around keeping their aesthetically pleasing city, with its deep roots, just the way it is. In the end, the Bergen City Council nixed the deal. Clear Channel of course sued them for breach of conduct and the outcome is pending, but regardless, it is a pretty cool victory.

So, is it that Norwegians are just way more progressive and efficient than we are? Or is it just easier for small towns and universities to take on a clear and concise enemy? Why can't big cities do this type of work or the entire nation for that matter? Are the problems just too large? Or are they just too far away for people to feel the impact enough to activate?

Song Suggestions for the Dodd Pod

| Thu Jan. 11, 2007 2:54 PM EST

We mentioned earlier that Connecticut senator and new presidential hopeful Chris Dodd is taking song suggestions for his "Dodd Pod." Wonkette considered "Born to Lose" by The Heartbreakers, which brings to mind "Lost Cause" by Beck and "Running Down a Dream" by Tom Petty. But scratch your head for snarky ideas no longer! The May/June 2006 issue of Mother Jones has a whole list of suggestions we can make in honor of Dodd's colleagues in Washington. A sampling:

"Been Caught Stealing," by Jane's Addiction
Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.)

"Girlfriend in a Coma," by The Smiths
Former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn)

"Road to Nowhere," by Talking Heads
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)

"Bridge Over Troubled Water," by Simon & Garfunkel
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)

"Don't Fence Me In," by Cole Porter
Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.)

"Carolina on My Mind," by James Taylor
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

"Stuck in the Middle With You," by Stealers Wheel
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.)

"Kickstart My Heart," by Mötley Crüe
Vice-President Dick Cheney

American News Media Continues Its Decline

| Thu Jan. 11, 2007 12:08 PM EST

Last spring, I wrote about MSNBC hosts Ron Reagan and Monica Crowley's on-air statement about the "triviality" of issues like Supreme Court nominations, and--even worse--MSNBC senior producer Tom Maciulis's written revelation that news about lobbying scandals, the Bolton nomination and court appointments were things he "didn't give a flying fig about." Though it was obvious to me that no one in charge at the network cared too much about news, it was nevertheless shocking to hear both the anchors and the producer come right out and say so.

Worse still, the statements of these "news" network officials caused no stir at all. I don't think anyone else even blogged about them, but they put a chill up my spine that has never gone away. Anyone who attempts to find out what is going on in the world knows that reliance on American mainstream news media will get her nowhere. When George W. Bush ran for the office of president in 2000, author, columnist and Texan Molly Ivins begged her fellow media employees, "Check the record!" They didn't. Everything from Bush's insider trading to his questionable military record to the mess he made of the Texas educational system and the environmental destruction he allowed industry to wreak on his state--all were virtually ignored by mainstream newspapers and television networks.

It should come as no surprise, then, that ABC's Good Morning America has hired Glenn Beck as a regular commentator. In plugging Beck's credentials, the show's senior executive producer announced that Beck "is a leading cultural commentator with a distinct voice."

Sure. His "distinct voice" recently struck Rep. Keith Ellison, our first Muslim Congressperson, with ""I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.'"

It was Beck who said to Diane Sawyer, "Christmas is really about...the death of [Jesus], redemption...and having a second bite at the apple. Who's offended by that?" He "celebrated" the death of Abu Musab-Zarqawi with a "Zarqawi bacon cake," predicted that we may have to "nuke" the entire Middle East, made fun of the names of missing Egyptian students, and described New Orleanians who could not or did not leave when Katrina hit as "scumbags." And in a rant against so-called "political correctness," Beck became so upset at the thought of wall signs being done in Braille that he quipped, "I'm going to put in Braille on the coffee pot...'Pot is hot.'"

Hate sells. It's a pity that news doesn't.

"No Matter How Much You Hate Bush..." (What's Up With the San Francisco Chronicle?)

| Thu Jan. 11, 2007 1:43 AM EST

Generally, I have a pretty low regard of the San Francisco Chronicle. I want to support my local paper but...I just can't. It's the flabby writing, the columnists who don't pick up the phone, the mindless cheerleading of the wine and food industry, the substitution of PC bell ringing for real reporting on race or poverty, the subordination of the Chronicle's home page to the (also bad, and shamelessly clunky) SFGate entertainment portal...in sum, it tends to reinforce every stereotype of yuppie Bay Area solipsism. All of which I would forgive, really, if it just had some damn edge. Of any kind.

(Following exceptions noted: The Balco stuff, that was good. Ok, and the homeless series ; I'd take issue with pieces of it, even premises of it, but they pulled out some stops.)

But I digress. What the hell does this have to do with Bush?

Well, I'll tell you. I was about to talk up a great piece by the Chron's D.C. Bureau Chief that was funny, to the point, analytical...but in the minutes that it has taken me to write this post, that story has fallen off the SFGate/Chron homepage. I dove into the architecture for more than 10 minutes...but I still can't find it. So piece by DC Bureau Chief, on a decision by our fair leader to send more troops into Iraq, written for a city with strong feelings on the matter...can't find it.

And that, in a nutshell, is the San Francisco Chronicle.

In my search for the missing Bush analysis piece, I did find following story, however: "New Year's nightmare for visiting Yale singers". Which is actually quite juicy, if you're into local politics: Matt Gonzalez meets "Fajitagate" meets PacHeights scion deploying his peeps to beat up Yalies.

Though, on that last point, these paragraphs— "But witnesses said one of the uninvited guests -- who happens to be the son of a prominent Pacific Heights family -- pulled out his cell phone and said, "I'm 20 deep. My boys are coming. According to Rapagnani and others, the Yale kids barely made it around the corner when they were intercepted by a van full of young men."—make me wonder why this "son of prominent Pacific Heights family" was not named.

And also, what's up with Pac Heights boys rolling up on Yalies? They'll all work for McKinsey one day...

Paste Magazine: Don't Blame (Or Praise) Canada

| Tue Jan. 9, 2007 2:01 AM EST

Mea Culpa: In a roundup of various books, movies, and magazines that the staff reccomended to readers as holiday gifts, my entry on Paste Magazine reported, in error, that it was a Canadian operation.

Reader Tom Monk, a lawyer out of Atlanta, was quick to point out that: "Au contrare,­ it is based in Decatur, GA. With our country in the middle of a cycle where many of our jobs and services are being transferred overseas, we should make a point to note something good within our borders, don't you think?"

Fair enough, Tom. I'm not quite sure why I thought Paste was a product of the Great White North. Canada, while a great exporter of comedians, TV anchors, and magazine writers and editors, has (at least since the heydey of Jonnie Mitchell, Neil Young, and The Band) never really been known for producing a lot of great pop/indie music. [Care to argue? For a geographical breakdown of Candian bands, most of whom you've never heard of, go here. I still have a soft spot for Chilliwack.]

Georgia on the other hand, well now. You got R.E.M., of course, and all the Athens spin-offs (Remember Guadalcanal Diary?) And Ray Charles, who's genius should be enough for several states, territories, or provinces.

But maybe, to make up for my error, I should tell you why I not only reccomended Paste to readers, but I bought gift subcriptions for more than a dozen of my friends. Why? For starters, there's the CD that comes with each issue, a 20+ song sampler of bands the editors like. Mostly (but not soley) alt/indie rock tracks with a singer/songwriter slant (but not in a we're-all-vegans-here way). And how much do you love that their FAQ notes "Paste is about the artists, not about the artists' bodies." (Translation: No Britney!) It's a thinking person's (mostly) music and (some other) culture magazine.

Supporting good independent magazines is important. Back of the napkin calculations indicate that if I guaranteed the editors of Paste a dozen subscriptions at $34.95, they need to sign up 42 of their friends for a Mother Jones subscription, which you can get for only $10, in order for us to be even. En garde!

Meanwhile, if you're in the Atlanta area, best get some legal advice from Tom, instead of exporting litigation to say...Florida.

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Angelic Jolie on Adoption - Always Low Prices!

| Mon Jan. 8, 2007 10:49 AM EST

Kate Kretz, a heretofore little-known North Carolina artist has a rendition of Angelina Jolie that's causing quite a stir. The acrylic on canvas work entitled Blessed Art Thou, is on display in Miami this week and seems to be the biggest deal in celebrity art since Daniel Edwards' rendition of Pro-Life Britney.

jolie.jpg

Jolie, who has now adopted two children, one from Cambodia, the other Ethiopia, has been a high profile champion of adoption from third world nations. Apparently she sees herself as celebrity watchdog when it comes to the issue, calling out none other than Madonna, for her legally murky adoption of a baby in Malawi: "Madonna knew the situation in Malawi, where he was born. It's a country where there is no real legal framework for adoption. Personally, I prefer to stay on the right side of the law. I would never take a child away from a place where adoption is illegal." Didn't Spears mess with Madonna too? Not advised.

No word from Anderson Cooper on whether Jolie will shell out the $50,000 (and then donate it) for Kretz' painting.