April 29th, 2007

Chris Keeley

Like the love poem scrawled on the back of a phone-message slip.

“I’m interested in being able to construct a story around someone’s life based on their refuse,” he said on a recent afternoon at Busboys and Poets, a cafe and bookstore with a Trashball machine wedged between the men’s and women’s restrooms. “The most important thing for me is the secret history of objects.”

Like the love poem scrawled on the back of a phone-message slip.

Christopher Goodwin, an art school dropout, finds ephemera in Washington, D.C., and sells it for a quarter.
Trashballs are transparent one-inch plastic orbs that contain objects including found snapshots and poems, business cards, and transit tickets.

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Two-Bit ‘Trashball’

WASHINGTON, April 28 — Christopher Goodwin doesn’t collect trash. He curates it.

Many afternoons find Mr. Goodwin kneeling on some gritty sidewalk here, appraising a faded A.T.M. receipt, a tuft of dryer lint, the scraps of a torn-up letter. Neat streets he doesn’t mess with. His own neighborhood is a bore. “It’s obscenely clean,” he says dismissively.

Litter speaks to Mr. Goodwin, 37, a studiously disheveled art school dropout, and, to his patrons, apparently, who drop their quarters into a couple of gumball machines around town that dispense plastic capsules containing pieces of trash personally selected by the artist.

Collapse )
Chris Keeley

Ms. Billger had everyone lie down. “When ye have released the self from the body, rise to the outerm

a group of Americans and Japanese who had come to the pyramids to connect with the unique spiritual energy that many Western visitors to Egypt believe they will find there.

Tara Todras-Whitehill for The New York Times
Shari Billger, left, leads a tour group in a meditation session at a sacred site at Giza, Egypt.

Shari Billger, left, leads a tour group in a meditation session at a sacred site at Giza, Egypt.

Touring the Spirit World

NO sound was heard in the burial chamber of the Great Pyramid as a tall, slender woman lay down in the pharaoh’s pitted granite sarcophagus, her flowing silver hair spreading beneath her. Her dozen or so companions in the dank room lifted their arms, palms upward, eyes closed in meditation.

As was prescribed in the training of priests in pharaonic Egypt, the woman had said, each member of the group had taken a turn in the sarcophagus; now she, their spiritual leader, occupied the space. Suddenly, her lips quivered, and a guttural moan escaped them, bouncing off the smooth stone walls and ceiling like an angry pinball. She climbed out of the sarcophagus, her face creased with determination, and formed the group into a circle, sitting cross-legged. In a deep voice, she read from the Emerald Tablets of Thoth, which she believes were translated from the ancient tongue of Atlantis.

The leader’s name is Shari Billger, and her home is near Colorado Springs. But on this January day, she was leading a group of Americans and Japanese who had come to the pyramids to connect with the unique spiritual energy that many Western visitors to Egypt believe they will find there.

Collapse )
Chris Keeley

For roughly $75 to $127 a day, these convicts — who are known in the self-pay parlance as “clients”

For roughly $75 to $127 a day, these convicts — who are known in the self-pay parlance as “clients” — get a small cell behind a regular door, distance of some amplitude from violent offenders and, in some cases, the right to bring an iPod or computer on which to compose a novel, or perhaps a song.

Hard Time Made Easier

For $82 a Day, Booking a Cell in a 5-Star Jail

SANTA ANA, Calif., April 25 — Anyone convicted of a crime knows a debt to society often must be paid in jail. But a slice of Californians willing to supplement that debt with cash (no personal checks, please) are finding that the time can be almost bearable.

For offenders whose crimes are usually relatively minor (carjackers should not bother) and whose bank accounts remain lofty, a dozen or so city jails across the state offer pay-to-stay upgrades. Theirs are a clean, quiet, if not exactly recherché alternative to the standard county jails, where the walls are bars, the fellow inmates are hardened and privileges are few.

Collapse )
Hard Time Made Easier
The New York Times
Chris Keeley

New National Approach Focuses on Chronically Homeless


New National Approach Focuses on Chronically Homeless

People who have been homeless for at least a year or have been homeless multiple times within a few years present a unique challenge. The NewsHour reports on a new national approach to homelessness that seeks to address this group.

OUTREACH VOLUNTEER: What do you think?

MARY FREEMAN, Subsidized Housing Recipient: Oh, my gosh. It looks good, though.

LEE HOCHBERG, NewsHour Correspondent: She was happy about her free haircut, but Mary Freeman was elated about the new housing she won that day. At an outreach event to the homeless at the Portland Coliseum, she was one of 50 who drew lucky bracelets that put them at the head of the line for government-subsidized housing.

Freeman had roamed Portland's streets for six months, high on methamphetamine, and had her daughter declared a ward of the state.

Collapse )
Chris Keeley

Poor George Tenet; He Still Doesn't Get it--Truthout 4/29/07

Poor George Tenet; He Still Doesn't Get It*

   By Ray McGovern

   t r u t h o u t | Guest
Contributor  http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/042907Y.shtml

*    Sunday 29 April 2007 *

*    "If you can't say something positive about someone, don't say
anything." This was drummed into me by my Irish grandmother and, as most
of her admonishments, it has stood me in good stead. On occasion,
though, it been a real bother - as when I felt called to comment on
George Tenet's apologia, "In the Center of the Storm," coming to a
bookstore near you tomorrow. *

*    On the verge of despair, I ran into an old schoolmate of Tenet's
from PS 94 in Little Neck, Queens, who told me that George was more
handsome than his twin brother Billy, and that his outgoing nature and
consummate political skill got him elected president of the student body. *

*    Positive enough, Grandma? Now let me add this. *

*    George Tenet's book shows that he remains, first and foremost, a
politician - with no clue as to the proper role of intelligence work. He
is unhappy about going down in history as "Slam Dunk Tenet." But, George
protests, his famous remark to President Bush on December 21, 2002 was
not meant to assure the president that available intelligence on weapons
of mass destruction in Iraq was a "slam dunk." Rather he meant that the
argument that Saddam Hussein had such weapons could be enhanced to
slam-dunk status in order to sell war on Iraq. Those of you tuning in to
CBS's "60 Minutes" tonight will hear Tenet explain what he meant when he
uttered the words he now says everyone misunderstood or distorted in
order to blame him for the Iraq war. What he says he meant was simply: *

   Collapse )
Chris Keeley

One night in 1997, while high on crack, DJ AM recounted, he caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror.

DJ AM said he has been sober for nine years — “my sobriety birthday is April 1” — and he has cleaned up in other ways, too. Once weighing as much as 324 pounds, he underwent gastric bypass surgery three years ago. Since then, he’s lost nearly 150 pounds; he now eats six small meals a day. “At my core I am a glutton, so I’ve had to learn everything in moderation,” he said.

One night in 1997, while high on crack, DJ AM recounted, he caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror. “I felt like I was someone else, like I was wearing a crackhead costume,” he said. “What am I doing in this body with this film on my face?” He decided life was no longer worth living, put a .22-caliber pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

DJ AM: His Life, Times, Shoes

PERCHED on a dimly lighted stage at Studio B, a nightclub on a desolate block in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, DJ AM was spinning a retro-flavored soundtrack on a recent Thursday evening. Hopscotching across genres and decades, he mixed ’80s freestyle (Stacey Q’s “Two of Hearts”) with Baltimore club music (“Do the Wu Tang” ); ’60s girl group sweetness (“Baby Love” by the Supremes) with raunchy R&B (Ginuwine’s “Pony”) .

Then he threw the theme song from “Rocky” into the mix, which prompted one young woman in sunglasses and a striped turtleneck to giddily exclaim: “Oh, my God! I can’t believe he’s playing this.” But even more impressed than the patrons on the packed dance floor was the coterie of D.J.s hovering around his booth.

“He is ridiculous,” said Drew Hall, who spins under the name Goofy Whitekid and had flown from Pittsburgh to hear the hourlong set. “I’ll learn stuff from here watching him, take it back home and kill it in the club.”

DJ AM, 34, has grown used to the attention, although he says he is still a bit mystified by it: “Back in the day, I’d be playing in a corner, and now I’m on stage and people are staring at me, but I’m not a performer. This ain’t Kool and the Gang.”

Collapse )
Chris Keeley

For the past five years, Hess had worked as a volunteer in the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office’s col

The Confessor


For the past five years, Hess had worked as a volunteer in the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office’s cold-case unit in Colorado Springs.

Sarah Stolfa for The New York Times

El Paso County (Colorado) Sheriff’s

The Confessor

At this late hour of his life, Charlie Hess said the question “Why?” didn’t matter anymore. After all the years he spent in the F.B.I. tilting at the criminal mind, all his years in private practice running lie-detector tests, his time extracting secrets as a C.I.A. agent in Vietnam, he was no longer interested in “Why?” What counted were simple, incontestable facts: who, when, where, what. Names, dates, locations; cause and manner of death — these were his goals as he tried to flesh out the transgressions of a man who, by his own account, killed 48 people. Robert, can you remember what year that was? Was the body north or south of the highway? Where did you get the ice pick? “Why?” was bottomless and slippery and often fraught with useless moral overtones. “Why?” didn’t close cases. “Why?” was for intellectuals, and Charlie Hess had seen enough of them to say there were two kinds of people: intellectuals and those who got things done.

Now here he was at 2 a.m. on a cold November night, escorting an interviewer to a rental car parked outside his trailer in a poor neighborhood on the east side of Colorado Springs. “I could pack up and move tomorrow — just give me my woman and my dogs,” he said, craning his head back at the torrent of stars above the Front Range. He said that the footloose spirit came from Gypsy blood on his father’s side, but he was 80, and after two heart operations, a brush with death from kidney failure, and two hip-replacement surgeries, you had to wonder if his wanderlust had a leg to stand on. Under the wan streetlight, he looked a little like Spencer Tracy after a hard winter.

Collapse )
Chris Keeley

Hess and Fischer and Smit were all surprised how quickly Browne had answered. What they didn’t learn

Hess and Fischer and Smit were all surprised how quickly Browne had answered. What they didn’t learn until later was that four days before Hess’s letter to Browne, Browne, after a two-year hiatus, had tried to resume his correspondence with Detective Mark Finley, who was no longer with the sheriff’s office. Browne had posed a “hypothetical” question: “If a person were to identify a murder which occurred in El Paso County, and then plead guilty to this murder in exchange for a sentence of death . . . how long would it take for the execution to take place? I would appreciate an answer by mail. No visits.”

Hess saw the coincidence as another example of Lou Smit’s maxim that you never know what will happen when you give the pot a stir. Now he had to follow up. Hess wrote his second letter by hand on a yellow legal pad in June. Scott Fischer typed it up:

Dear Mr. Browne:

Thank you for answering my letter. I would have responded sooner, but I was out of town. I note that you too were in Vietnam. I directed the C.I.A. Phoenix Program in III Corps. I spent most of my time in Cu Chi, Tay Ninh and Long An; headquarters in Bien Hoa. I however did not earn a Bronze Star, a worthy accomplishment.

Collapse )
Chris Keeley

Homeland Insecurity


For those of you who receive and enjoy as much as I do the OPUS comic
strip in the Sunday Washington Post, here's the link that will bring up
the final (hidden) panel on today's strip:


Homeland Insecurity
  “For Your Protection.”
#19885 "Opus" 4-29-07
Detained and secured under section 219b of the USA Patriot Act:
Extraordinary Punchline Rendition

"Let me claritisize this: first comes the offensive comics. Then the mushrooms cloud."

-President Bush, 2006

Chris Keeley

Pappe v. Avnery / One State v. Two States

Here are my two cents' worth to add to this debate, based on some
knowledge of modern South African history, which causes me to disagree
with Pappe's use of that analogy. There was no major constituency in
America that had a stranglehold on U.S. policy toward that country that
was able to thoroughly dominate U.S. policy toward apartheid South
Africa (that is, to protect that regime).  The opposite is true of
American policy toward Israel.  Pappe seems to believe that
international public opinion can change the situation in
Israel-Palestine. He may have a point about Europe, but not about the
United States. There is no way there will ever be a boycott of Israel by
the U.S. government. There was a serious boycott of apartheid South
Africa and it eventually worked. And it included the United States.
Pappe, not Avnery, is the dreamer in this argument.
   (I speak from some personal experience. In 1979-80 one of my main
jobs as a Deputy Assistant Secretary (a DAS) in the African Bureau of
the State Department was to make sure our Congress renewed the sanctions
against the Rhodesian apartheid regime of Ian Smith when Margaret
Thatcher was trying to lift them in Britain. We succeeded, and Lord
Carrington then rescued Thatcher from her folly by organizing and
orchestrating the transformation of Rhodesia into independent Zimbabwe.
This established the precedent for what then happened in South Africa.
The recent history of Zimbabwe 27 years later does not negate what was
accomplished in 1980. It is ludicrous to imagine that at some point a
DAS in State's Near East Bureau would have the job of working to get our
Congress to renew sanctions against Israel.)

Robert V. Keeley

TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck

In the article transmitted below, one of the Israelis whom I most admire
(but have never met), Ilan Pappe, locks horns with another of the
Israelis whom I most admire (and consider a personal friend), Uri
Avnery, on the fundamental issue facing those who seek peace with some
measure of justice (or justice with some measure of peace) in
Israel/Palestine -- whether to continue trotting after the perpetually
retreating "political horizon" of a two-state solution or to refocus
hopes and efforts on the pursuit of a single democratic state in
Israel/Palestine with equal rights for all who live there.

I understand that Avnery and Pappe have scheduled a public debate on
this issue for May 8.

Collapse )