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April 2003 Archives

April 1, 2003

At 'The Onion,' Of Course, It's Just Tuesday

Before you believe much of anything today -- April 1 -- read about the Top 100 April Fools Jokes of All Time.



April 4, 2003

Free Wi-Fi Hotspots in Lower Manhattan

The Alliance for Downtown New York will be installing free wireless internet access in parks all over lower Manhattan, the NYTimes reports today.

Starting May 1, you'll be able to get free bandwidth at City Hall Park, Bowling Green, South Street Seaport, Liberty Plaza, Rector Park, and the Vietnam Veteran's Plaza. Byrant Park is already "wired." The paper also reports that someone is providing wireless access in Tompkins Square Park and Madison Square Park -- near the Ziff Davis offices, by the way. From the Times:

NYC Wireless has mapped 141 such hot spots in the New York City area, where individuals or companies make their networks available for public use. Another nonprofit organization, the Public Internet Project, mapped more than 13,000 places in Manhattan alone where signals from home or office wireless networks can be detected and used by a computer user.



Edwin Starr Dies

Edwin Starr passed away the other day. He was a soul shouter with a killer band and only three hits, but my oh my what hits:

  • Agent Double-O Soul

  • Twenty Five Miles

  • War

One of my reference books describes "War", from 1970, as "cataclysmic," which is as good a description as any. Where Marvin Gaye talked about how "only love can conquer hate," and the Temptations sang their complex and wordy "Ball of Confusion," and Crosby Stills Nash & Young decried "Four dead in Ohio," Starr cut to the chase. The chorus was as simple as can be: "War! Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothin'!"

The chart underneath it swung from snare clicks to punching horns to snarling guitars. It was impossible to ignore the song as it came pouring out of the radio -- as impossible as it is to imagine such a song being programmed on any major station today.

If that were all Edwin Starr did, he's be worth remembering. But there was also "Twenty Five Miles." It's the story of a guy counting down the 25 miles he's walking to see his baby again, but it inexplicably fades out as the singer's got 5 more miles to go. Why? Was the song too long for radio? What happened? Did he ever get there? Was she waiting for him?

If I ever get to front a soul band, with the horns and the chick backup singers and the whole deal, I'm going to find me a chart for "Twenty Five Miles," and that's what I'll sing. I might even make up the last five.



Random Thoughts

1. Can you burn a scarecrow in effigy?

2. Do observant Jews ride piggyback?



April 7, 2003

Yes, Peggy, But...

Peggy Noonan has a pretty fair column today about unashamed patriotism, but she gets tangled up.

In the late 1960s a lot of young people and liberals thought you were a dope to love your country, "to wave the flag." But that is also the precise moment that American flag lapel pins first became popular. When a local businessman wore one of them, it was as if he were wearing a sign that said "I support my country, and if you don't like it, that's too bad."

Twenty five years ago at CBS News a major network star said to a newsroom friend of mine, who still wore his pin, "I wish I could wear one of those." But, he explained, it might be "misinterpreted." My friend thought, but did not say: Yes, it would be interpreted in a way that suggested you love your country. How terrible.

It's a very nice column, and it puts its finger on something important. But Noonan elides something else important: how and why that CBSer thought that a flag pin would be "mis-interpreted."

In many ways over the last umpteen years -- probably starting with the Vietnam protests, but I'm of an age where it might have started earlier and I didn't notice -- the flag has been co-opted as a symbol of the Right. More accurate: the Left rejected it as part of its anti-war rhetoric, and the Right was more than happy to take the symbol and run with it.

Rather than a patriotic symbol, the flag too often is used as a symbol to advance a partisan agenda. David Letterman got it right once: he noticed that as the election got closer, Dubya would put more and more flags on his rostrum; as a response and a gag, Letterman started putting flags behind him, more and more, until his stage was full of them. All the while, he was running clips that showed how the Republicans were quite literally covering themselves with the flag, more each day.

Call me a cynic, but I'm enough of a journalist and enough of a history student to know that when someone starts waving flags, it's time to start listening. When someone insists that you wave flags, it's time to start fighting.

I love my country. I wore a flag pin after 9-11 because it was the only appropriate gesture I could think of. I won't wear one now because I think the politicians running my country are wrong in just so many ways.

If wearing a flag pin can raise that kind of issue, the guy from CBS is right to not wear one.

And if someone can call him unpatriotic because he doesn't wear one -- and if the allegation can be met with anything else but a snort -- that's only evidence that he's right.



April 23, 2003

Back. Been Busy.

April is always tough, between taxes, Passover, Holy Week, and the hangover and cleanup from the same. We now resume our regular posting.



Throat Culture

After digging and thinking for four years, journalism students at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana think they've figured out the identity of Watergate figure Deep Throat.

If you had that weasel Pat Buchanan in the office pool, like Dateline NBC did, you're wrong. If you had John Dean, you're warmer, but not quite on the mark.

This has been a Washington parlor game for going on 30 years. Woodward and Bernstein themselves say they won't tell until Deep Throat dies. But these students have assembled what looks like a pretty good guess.




About April 2003

This page contains all entries posted to Over the Edge in April 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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