ON THE COVER North Coast Journal Weekly
PUBLISHER  |  IN THE GARDEN  |  CALENDAR


Writers and artists repond

The foreign policy section at Northtown Books in Arcata is crowded with stacks of books about 9-11, Afghanistan, Islam, Osama Bin Laden and Middle Eastern politics. The book store's owner, Art Burton, says that publishers were quick to capitalize on interest in topics related to the attack and the war that followed.

"I can't remember any event in history that generated so many new titles. Everyone from Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn to Alice Walker has come out with a book offering their take on things," said Burton.

And the books have been selling. "First people got more interested in foreign policy in general, then they wanted to find out about Afghanistan and Central Asia and about our politics regarding oil," he said, adding, "We've sold a lot of copies of the Koran."

Among the bestsellers at Northtown: Taliban by Ahmed Rashid. Burton said sales were helped by the fact that the author was identified as an expert on the subject and did a lot of radio and TV interviews. Burton also mentioned In the Presence of Fear, a collection of essays by Wendell Berry.

books about 9/11, Islan, bin LadenThe store sold a lot of copies of From Beirut to Jerusalem by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas L. Friedman, a selection for a couple of local book circles. A collection of Chomsky interviews titled 9-11 was another book group's choice.

Asked if he had read many of the foreign policy titles the store has in stock,

Burton shook his head and laughed. "I'm familiar with all of them but I haven't read any of them. I just read novels."

An interest in foreign policy is not as evident down the street at a record store called The Works. One of the clerks, Ray Johnson, says he is surprised that more musicians haven't written songs about 9-11 and the war that followed.

"In the past you had all sorts of artists speaking out against the war. This time it hasn't happened," said Johnson, who was wearing a Bruce Springsteen T-shirt, but admitted that he had not yet listened to the Boss' new 9-11 related disc, The Rising.

The store's other clerk, Bandon Montague Taylor, chides mainstream artists like Springsteen and particularly Neil Young for what he sees as a "passive-aggressive response."

"When Neil was doing stuff with Crazy Horse, he was about as subversive as you can get. Now he's like some mellow Republican," he said pointing to Young's 9-11 song, "Let's Roll." [excerpt from lyrics below]

Montague Taylor sees the response from bands on the fringes of the music business as "just the opposite," especially since the Bush administration is "such an easy target."

The Arcata-based punk rock band Winston Smith has always been relentlessly politically outspoken.

Not long after the 9-11 attacks, Tim Miller, the band's lead singer, wrote a song called "Up Your Nose With a Rubber Hose, Peter Jennings" lashing out at the media's response to the attacks and questioning the government's retaliatory reaction. [excerpt from lyrics below] The antiwar tune shows up on the band's recently released album, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism.

Tim Miller singing"When the attacks first happened they were saying. `What a horrible tragedy, so many people died,'" Miller recalled. "But a few days later that switched to `We have to kill more people to make it better.'"

Miller explained that Winston Smith takes its name from the hero in George Orwell's novel, 1984. "Big Brother controlled everything through propaganda and wouldn't let people have private thoughts or ideas. Everyone had to think what they wanted them to think. Winston Smith was rebelling against that, trying to break away."

Miller's protest songs fall within the tradition of songwriters like Woody Guthrie, albeit louder and faster. In fact his electric guitar bears the same message that was scrawled across Guthrie's battered old acoustic, "This machine kills fascists."

"I feel like music is a good medium for reflecting political and social ideals. It's a good way to get ideas across and get people's emotions going," he said.

 

-- Bob Doran

 

From "Let's Roll"
by Neil Young
 
No one has the answer
but one thing is true
You've got to turn on evil
when it's coming after you
You've gotta face it down
and when it tries to hide
you've gotta go in after it
and never be denied.
 
Time is runnin' out.
Let's roll
 
We're going after Satan
on the wings of a dove.
Let's roll for justice.
Let's roll for truth.
Let's not let our children grow up
fearful in their youth.
 
Time is runnin' out.
Let's roll.

 "The Peter Jennings Song" by Tim Miller
 
He's telling me
Through my TV screen
This is the worst disaster
The world has ever seen
 
Drip, drip, drip
Red hands
 
Return to sender
 
He's seeing dollar signs
Where there should be souls and minds
Where there once were human lives
He just sees dollar signs
 
Drip, drip, drip
Red hands
 
He said they'd do everything
Humanly possible to keep
From killing civilians
They're dropping bombs on kids
 
Drip, drip, drip
Return to sender

UNFINISHED DREAMS
Remembering Richard J. Guadagno
WHY DO THEY HATE US?
A persistent question
 TOLERANCE OR PATRIOTISM?
Addressing Sept. 11 in the schools
 WING TAKES FLIGHT
Local business prospers since 9-11 
 A LASTING IMPACT ON TRAVEL
North Coast travel businesses 
 CIVIL LIBERTIES AT RISK?
Abdul Aziz fears loss of freedoms
 HUMBOLDT NOT A LIKELY TARGET
Isolated location and lack of big industry
THE MANY 'TRUTHS' BEHIND 9-11
Conspiracy theories 
 ONCE LABELED A TERRORIST, CHERNEY REFLECTS
Earth First! activist Darryl Cherney
WRITERS AND ARTISTS RESPOND
Books, music 
 IN THE EYE
OF THE BEHOLDER

Diverse views of North Coast residents on the attacks
 THE GRIEF HAS PASSED; SPIRITUAL ISSUES REMAIN
Religious leaders discuss Sept. 11

 


PUBLISHER  |  IN THE GARDEN  |  CALENDAR


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