July 15, 2004

He could make your icons dance with Java then empty out your trash

* Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. excerpt:

"'The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking,' the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was 'a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher.'

"He called the prison scene 'a series of massive crimes, criminal activity by the president and the vice president, by this administration anyway…war crimes.'

"The outrages have cost us the support of moderate Arabs, says Hersh. 'They see us as a sexually perverse society.'

"Hersh describes a Pentagon in crisis. The defense department budget is 'in incredible chaos,' he says, with large sums of cash missing, including something like $1 billion that was supposed to be in Iraq.

"'The disaffecion inside the Pentagon is extremeley accute,' Hersh says. He tells the story of an officer telling Rumsfeld how bad things are, and Rummy turning to a ranking general yes-man who reassured him that things are just fine. Says Hersh, 'The Secretary of Defense is simply incapable of hearing what he doesn’t want to hear.'"

* The East Bay Express on the Wrens. [via largehearted boy] excerpt:

"'We come out and start really wild and crazy,' says singer and guitarist Charles Bissell, 'and just gradually diminish, and eventually fall into a drunken slumber.'

"Perhaps some combination of the two explains why the first ten minutes of a Wrens set offers more shock, awe, intimidation, and ebullience than a thousand monkeys dancing atop a thousand flaming typewriters. And we're not talkin' assisted-suicide-live-onstage-type antics, either: These here are affable New Jersey gentlemen (no Sopranos, though some partake of falsetto) with gray hairs, Magnet-reading indie-rock mentalities, and snore-inducing day jobs. 'I am vice president of institutional sales for an institutional investment software company,' MacDonnell relates. 'I sell analytics and portfolio monitoring tools and resources to investment consultants.'
...
"The record peaks immediately with a pair of mega-dramabomb ballads: 'Happy' and Bissell's 'She Sends Kisses,' which he (mistakenly) describes as a failed homage to Van Morrison and New Jersey kingpin Bruce Springsteen. That melodrama prevails throughout, perhaps most emphatically on the falsetto shuffle 'This Boy Is Exhausted:' 'Cause I'm caught/I can't type/I can't temp/I'm way past college/No ways out/No back doors/Not anymore/But then once in a while/We play a show that makes it all worthwhile.

The Our Band Could Ruin Our Lives approach is a common conceit recently (see the Drive By Truckers' Decoration Day or, hell, Metallica's tell-all doc Some Kind of Monster), but MacDonnell insists that, despite all the busted relationships and near-miss shots at stardom, the Wrens remain a worthwhile enterprise: 'We had some crazy turns here and there business-wise, but it came down to, the four of us really like writing and playing music together and recording. There's no pressure. We have no expectations. If people like it, great. If people hate it, fuck it. Who cares? We'll keep writing music just because it's fun to us again, and that was the most important piece. It sounds kinda canned and cheesy, but it's sincere.'"

* "This nation was not founded by habitual groupthinkers. But it stands a fair chance of being destroyed by them."

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