April 8, 2004

Everybody's talking 'bout the stormy weather

* A secret pact regarding war in Iraq?

"President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.

"According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

"Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy.

"It was clear, Meyer says, 'that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions'. Elsewhere in his interview, Meyer says Blair always believed it was unlikely that Saddam would be removed from power or give up his weapons of mass destruction without a war.

"Faced with this prospect of a further war, he adds, Blair 'said nothing to demur.'"

* Thurston Moore's New York Times op-ed: 'When the Edge Moved to the Middle' concludes:

"Nirvana made a point of touring with challenging groups like the Boredoms, the Butthole Surfers and the Meat Puppets and presenting them to a huge audience — one that was largely unaware of those bands' influence. But only the Meat Puppets would click a little bit. Without MTV or radio support, no one was likely to reach Nirvana's peak.

"When Kurt died, a lot of the capitalized froth of alternative rock fizzled. Mainstream rock lost its kingpin group, an unlikely one imbued with avant-garde genius, and contemporary rock became harder and meaner, more aggressive and dumbed down and sexist. Rage and aggression were elements for Kurt to play with as an artist, but he was profoundly gentle and intelligent. He was sincere in his distaste for bullyboy music — always pronouncing his love for queer culture, feminism and the punk rock do-it-yourself ideal. Most people who adapt punk as a lifestyle represent these ideals, but with one of the finest rock voices ever heard, Kurt got to represent them to an attentive world. Whatever contact he made was really his most valued success.

"You wouldn't know it now by looking at MTV, with its scorn-metal buffoons and Disney-damaged pop idols, but the underground scene Kurt came from is more creative and exciting than it's ever been. From radical pop to sensorial noise-action to the subterranean forays in drone-folk-psyche-improv, all the music Kurt adored is very much alive and being played by amazing artists he didn't live to see, artists who recognize Kurt as a significant and honorable muse.

"The kid who looked like him sat next to me in the basement where we were playing and I knew he was going to ask me about Kurt. This happens a lot. What was Kurt like? Was he a good guy? Simple things. He asked me if I thought Kurt would've liked this total outsider music we were hearing. I laughed, realizing the kid was slightly bewildered by it all, and I answered emphatically, 'Yeah, Kurt would have loved this.'"

* And, over at The Minor Fall, The Major Lift's comments section, Ingrid Sichy weighs in on the art critic Robert Hughes.

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