Clinton Gives New Funk

Clinton Gives New Funk

Colorful music legend celebrates fifty years in the biz

George Clinton will celebrate his fiftieth year in the music business with a new album, How Late Do U Have 2BB4UR Absent, due August 23rd. The funk legend — who started out with a vocal group called the Parliaments in 1955 — will be joined by members of his bands P-Funk All-Stars and Parliament Funkadelic, as well as superstar disciple Prince, on the double-disc set.

“It’s one of the best records we’ve ever done,” says Clinton.

Clinton will hit the road this summer, beginning at Los Angeles’ Greek Theater. The tour features an opening act composed of Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins, bassist Me’Shell Ndegeocello and R&B man Raphael Saadiq, with a revolving door of special guests.

“Flea will play at some of the shows, and Big Boi from OutKast, Snoop, Redman, Flavor Flav, Chuck D, Gwen Stefani, Lenny Kravitz, Fishbone, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Musiq, the Black Eyed Peas and the Roots.”

Clinton has further reason to celebrate. Last week he won a court ruling that gave him the rights to the master recordings of four classic Funkadelic albums: Hardcore Jollies (1976), One Nation Under a Groove (1978), Uncle Jam Wants You (1979) and The Electric Spanking of War Babies (1981). The catalog is a goldmine, as Funkadelic samples have been staples of blockbuster hip-hop records, most notably Dr. Dre’s 1992 The Chronic.

Subcommandante Marcos Emerges to Scorn Mexican Candidates

Marcos says he won’t back any of the ‘shameless scoundrels’ running for president.
From Reuters

August 7, 2005

SAN RAFAEL, Mexico : Masked rebel leader Subcommander Marcos emerged from the jungle for the first time in four years Saturday to castigate Mexico’s presidential candidates as “shameless scoundrels” and said he would back none in next year’s election.

The Zapatista rebel leader’s appearance at a meeting of activists in southern Mexico’s Chiapas state seemed to be aimed at reclaiming a political role for the rebels before the election next July.

“They’ll pay for everything they have done to us. They are a bunch of shameless scoundrels,” Marcos said from behind the black ski mask he has worn in public since the Zapatistas first burst from the jungle in 1994.

“The decomposition of the political class is so great that we can do nothing,” said Marcos, smoking his trademark pipe.

He reserved special ire for presidential front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a member of the center-left Democratic Revolution Party, calling him a false leftist. “They say, ‘Maybe Lopez Obrador doesn’t steal.’ But his team has shown its ability and appetite to do so,” Marcos said.

In a video widely broadcast last year, one of Lopez Obrador’s closest advisors was secretly filmed accepting money and stuffing a briefcase full of cash.

Marcos has said the rebels will embark on a cross-country tour aimed at uniting workers, students and activists around a leftist agenda.

The Zapatistas shocked the world when they declared war on the Mexican government and attacked police and army positions on New Year’s Day in 1994, demanding rights for indigenous tribes.

About 150 people died as the rebels seized towns and clashed with security forces in the first few days, but there has been little fighting since then and the Zapatistas have turned increasingly to civic action.

In 2001, they crisscrossed Mexico in a two-week tour to drum up support for an Indian rights bill. They were received like rock stars, were allowed to address Congress and drew about 100,000 supporters to Mexico City’s main square.

Marcos’ identity has never been confirmed, but he is widely believed to be a non-Indian Mexican academic and political activist.

Learn from the past.

Film Echoes the Present in Atrocities of the Past – New York Times
August 9, 2005


LOS ANGELES, Aug. 8 – Like a live hand grenade brought home from a distant battlefield, the 34-year-old antiwar documentary “Winter Soldier” has been handled for decades as if it could explode at any moment.

Now, the 95-minute film – which has circulated like 16-millimeter samizdat on college campuses for decades but has never been accessible to a wide audience – is about to get its first significant theatrical release in the United States, beginning on Friday at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. (Other bookings, including Chicago, Detroit, Hartford and Minneapolis, can be found at

Its distributors say that the war in Iraq has made the Vietnam-era film as powerful as when it was new, and its filmmakers are calling it eerily prescient of national embarrassments like the torture at Abu Ghraib.

Seldom has a film seen by so few caused so much consternation for so many years.

When it was made at a three-day gathering in 1971 of Vietnam veterans telling of the atrocities they had seen and committed, major news organizations sent reporters but published and broadcast next to nothing of what they filed – prompting the veterans to organize what would be a pivotal antiwar demonstration in Washington a few months later.

When the film was finished a year later, it was shown at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, at theaters in France and England, and on German television. But in the United States, the television networks would not touch it, the film never found a distributor, and it disappeared for decades after playing a week at a single New York theater and a one-time airing on Channel 13.

When one of the veterans – John Kerry, who was seen on screen for less than a minute – ran for president last year, the old film turned up as propaganda on both sides of the partisan divide: Mr. Kerry’s friend, the filmmaker George Butler, used footage from “Winter Soldier” to lionize him in a biographical film underwritten by Democrats called “Going Upriver.” His political enemies on the right, meanwhile, created a Web site called and made a film of their own, “Stolen Honor,” to assail him as a traitor and a fraud.

“The context is why we wanted to do it,” said Amy Heller, co-owner with her husband, Dennis Doros, of Milestone Films, perhaps best known for re-releasing Marcel Ophuls’s 1971 masterpiece on the Nazi occupation of France, “The Sorrow and the Pity.”

“We have a 9-year-old son,” Ms. Heller said, “but if he were 19 and wondering what he should do with the next stage of his life, I sure would want him to see this film before considering going into the military.”

The relevance of this grainy, ancient documentary comes from descriptions of abuse that could have been ripped from contemporary headlines, notwithstanding the changes in today’s professional soldiers and their evolved, high-tech methods of warfare.

Listen, for instance, to the former Army interrogator as he describes using “clubs, rifle butts, pistols, knives” to extract information – “always monitored” by superiors or military police, he says – and recounts his superiors’ overriding directive: “Don’t get caught.”

Or hear the former Marine captain, speaking of “standard operating prtocedure,” describe how easily individual transgressions, overlooked by superiors, became de facto policy: “The general attitude of the officers was – I was a lieutenant at the time – ‘Well, there’s somebody senior to me here, and I guess if this wasn’t S.O.P., he’d be doing something to stop it.’ And since nobody senior ever did anything to stop it, the policy was promulgated, and everybody assumed that this was right.”

Mr. Doros said he hoped the film would be shown on cable television, where anyone could see it, particularly today’s troops and tomorrow’s. “They should see that war isn’t always what they imagine from movies and books and modern media,” he said. “That the atrocities, the gore, the daily horror of bombs bursting out and bullets riddling your friends’ bodies next to you, have been glossed over.”

What gives “Winter Soldier” its power, he and Ms. Heller said, is not merely what is said on screen – accounts of Vietnamese women being raped or mutilated, children being shot, villages being burned, prisoners being thrown alive from helicopters – but who is saying it, and how they are shown.

It introduces us to Rusty Sachs, a handsome, curly-haired former Marine helicopter pilot, who recalls with an ironic smirk how his superiors instructed him not to “count prisoners when you’re loading them on the aircraft – count them when you’re unloading them,” because, he says flatly, “the numbers may not jibe.” He describes contests to see “how far they could throw the bound bodies out of the airplane.”

And it introduces us to the gentle-sounding, Jesus-like Scott Camil, a former Marine scout and forward artillery observer, who in a whispery voice relates his personal journey from rah-rah patriot to trained killer to medal-winner to self-preservationist Angel of Death. “If I had to go into a village and kill 150 people just to make sure there was no one there to kill me when we walked out, that’s what I did,” he says.

Like other veterans, Mr. Camil – whose testimony at the Winter Soldier Investigation inspired Graham Nash’s song “Oh, Camil!” – conveys how desensitized they became, and how dehumanized the Vietnamese became in their eyes. “Whoever had the most ears, they would get the most beers,” he says of his comrades’ corporeal trophies. “It became like a game.”

This was being filmed, it should be emphasized, before the advent of rap groups and the confessional culture, before people routinely unburdened themselves on television or an Oprah granted absolution every afternoon. And it was happening at a stage in the war when the invasion of Laos was still a secret, when Agent Orange was unheard of, and when the public was still struggling to make sense of My Lai.

Yet the decidedly low-tech film does nothing to explicate what it records. It has no narration, except for an opening quotation from Thomas Paine, whence its title: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summertime soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Nor is there any clue given to who made this film. And yet it was the product of an extraordinary collective of 18 unknown but up-and-coming documentarians, several of whom would have distinguished film careers: Barbara Kopple, who went on to direct the Oscar-winning documentaries “Harlan County, U.S.A.” and “American Dream”; Nancy Baker, editor of the Oscar-winner “Born Into Brothels” and of “Vanya on 42nd Street”; Lucy Massie Phenix, editor of the Oscar-nominated “Regret to Inform,” about widows of the Vietnam War; Bob Fiore, co-director of “Pumping Iron”; and David Grubin, for many years the directing partner of Bill Moyers.

Working with borrowed equipment and donated stock – much of it “short ends” left over from low-budget pornographic films – the group shot more than 100 hours over a three-day weekend, then spent six months editing it into what remains a raw and unadorned artifact, allowing the camera to gaze patiently as each witness tells his story.

But the group effort, Mr. Fiore said, meant no one could claim to be its auteur. “So it didn’t have anybody pushing it, the way Michael Moore goes around,” he said. “At the time, it seemed really important, it was a political statement. I wanted the film to be for and about the vets. But as a filmmaking and distributing ploy, it was a failure.”

Though “Winter Soldier” was invited to Cannes and shown at several other film festivals, the group’s efforts to have it shown on American television went nowhere. “We did a screening at NBC,” said Fred Aronow, one of the filmmakers. “We got the reply back that this was incredibly interesting material that the American public should see, and it’s unfortunate that NBC cannot broadcast it. They did not give a reason.”

The film languished largely unseen, except for private and classroom viewings, until a retrospective at Berlin early last year. When Mr. Butler paid for rights to use footage from it, Mr. Fiore said, the filmmakers hoped that his lawyers would prevent anyone from using it to assassinate Mr. Kerry’s character. But the producers of “Stolen Honor,” an attack on Mr. Kerry that was shown on Sinclair Broadcasting stations last fall, did use excerpts from “Winter Soldier,” and a veteran who testified, Kenneth J. Campbell, is suing them for defamation.

As polarizing as the film has proven to be, the filmmakers say they hope that a year removed from the context of a campaign, “Winter Soldier” will be seen the way it was originally intended.

First, of course, they are hoping it will get an audience, at all.

“It’s not any fun to see,” Ms. Phenix conceded, in an understatement. “But the whole society needs to hear about that part of us, because that’s part of us, too. The whole society includes these people who are having to kill and be killed, and maim and be maimed.”

wood-air bathing – Old Growth Air, by Joan Maloof

Earth, my dearest, I will. Oh believe me, no more
of your springtimes are needed to win me over ó, one,
ah, a single one, is already too much for my blood.
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††ó Rainer Maria Rilke, “The Ninth Elegy”

For years I have been telling my students that our area has no old growth left whatsoever, that this land the early explorers called Arcadia because of its numerous, stately, trees has been completely altered and not a single original forest remains. Depending on my mood the day we discuss this, I either note it with anger or sadness. Recently, however, I heard rumors of the existence of a twenty-acre remnant of old growth forest. In my thinking, twenty acres can barely be called a forest, but still I was anxious to see this scrap. So yesterday when I woke to a true blue dream of a sky I knew right away that this was a day I should visitóas in the e.e. cummings poem, ìi thank you god for this amazing day,îóthe leaping greenly spirit of trees.

The forest was more than sixty miles away, and detailed directions were necessary to find it down a dirt road. Even before the car stopped I could smell that smellóthat sweet, rich, earthy smellówhat I used to think was the smell of the mountains. But here I was still on the Delmarva Peninsula, on the flat land, and I was smelling the mountains. Could it be that my ground used to smell like this tooóbefore the grandfather trees were gone? In a time when the tree’s breath merged with the breath of the fungi and the birds and the insects?

When we discuss what we miss about forests after they have been cut, it is usually the sight, or the shade, or the species, that we mention; but now I am breathing deeply of a forest gift that I had forgotten: the air! Americans have largely ignored this dimension of the forest’s allure, but the Japanese recognize it and have a name for it: shinrin-yoku, wood-air bathing. Japanese researchers have discovered that when diabetic patients walk through the forest, their blood sugar drops to healthier levels. The Japanese have hosted whole symposiums on the benefits of wood-air bathing and walking. I have certainly noticed that I feel better after a walk in the woods; I just didn’t know there was a name for my therapy.

So what could be in the forest air that makes us feel better? In a study done in the Sierra Nevadas of California, researchers found 120 different chemical compoundsóbut they could only identify seventy of them! We are literally breathing things we don’t understand; which also means, of course, that when we lose these forests, we don’t know what we are losing.

Some of the compounds in the air are coming from the bacteria and the fungi in the soil, but most of the chemical compounds in the forest air are given off by the trees. Trees release volatile organic compounds from little pockets between their leaf cells. There are a number of theories about why they release the compounds: possibly to deter insects, or possibly they are just metabolic by-products and this is how trees eliminate them (having no excretory system). The scientific community is still undecided.

I like to think of the enticing fragrances given off by the trees as a sort of mutualistic reward for humans. If you love how something smells you may be less likely to chop it down. Sort of a Botany of Desire, where the trees are using one of the few wiles they have that work on humans. And I suppose it is not inconceivable that the trees may be altering our perception with their chemicals. The plant’s volatile molecules evaporate into the air and come into contact with the sensory neurons in our nasal passageways. The olfactory nerves send messages directly to the limbic system in our brains. This is the system that deals with all our instinctive emotions, including sex, memory, and aggression. The limbic system can most certainly affect our physical bodies, and all of this can happen even without our perception of having ‘smelled’ anything.

Aromatherapy practitioners work with these plant-produced volatile compounds. They call them essential oils, and they depend on folk wisdom about the effects various compounds will have on our limbic systems. There hasn’t been much scientific research done on determining just what effect these oils have. Often I put lavender oil in my bath, because I love the fragrance; aromatherapists tell me it is supposed to be calming. I can’t say for certain if it calms me or not. But I know that someone, somewhere, is planting more lavender because I like the way it smells.

The molecules from the trees don’t just go up your nose, however. They are also part of the air that goes into your lungs, and, once in your lungs, some of the molecules enter your bloodstream. So when you walk through the forest inhaling that sweet airóthe wood-airóthe forest actually becomes a part of your body.

The most abundant compounds given off by trees are monoterpenes. There has been a great deal of research done on dietary monoterpenes, and the good news is that they have been shown to both prevent and cure cancer. Many chemotherapy drugs contain monoterpenes. Lemon rinds, in particular, are high in monoterpenes. I could find no research, however, on the effects of inhaling monoterpenes.

Aromatherapists claim that the monoterpenes in pine are anti-viral and antiseptic, good for asthma and respiratory infections. But not surprisingly, there is no medical research to back up their claim. Could inhaling the monoterpenes also be a cancer cure, like ingesting them is? Is shinrin-yoku a valid therapy? And perhaps an even bigger question: Why hasn’t the Western medical community researched the physical effects of inhaling the monoterpenes so abundant in the forest air? Might it be because forest air cannot be patented, and consequently there is no money to be made from it?

It is popular to decry the destruction of tropical rainforestsóciting the wonder drugs that may eventually be found there. Meanwhile, closer to home, we may have medicines of our own lurking right beneath our noses. Perhaps someday, when your physician asks you to ìtake a deep breath,î it will be the old-growth air that he or she is referring to.

I hope you donít have to drive too far to reach it.