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Tuesday, June 21, 2011


found art

The Supremes stuck it to the American people again yesterday, cross-hairs on women this time. We're spreading propaganda that what's behind the American military in the middle east is the status of women, equal rights for women. It's the same as the propaganda about forcing democracy in the middle east when our present Supreme Court is telling us, decision after decision since the year 2000, when they told us for a certainty this is not a democracy at home. That's  just high sounding words, democracy this, democracy that, like natural this, natural that, green this, green that. Sounds great and fools most of the people most of the time. When a thing works, go with it. I trust no one was surprised by the decision. Predictable as rising oil prices.

Today's film a well made low budget documentary of four guys in Baghdad who were rock star wannabes. Heavy Metal In Baghdad followed these guys in Baghdad who wanted to be a heavy metal band. They spoke American very well from video games, heavy metal cds, MTV. Evidently all their media input was American, as it would be, America the entertainment industry capital of the world, the cutting edge. One of them talked perfect American. He even looked American. Looked like he might be from Oregon or Colorado. Talked like it too. They were guys in their early 20s who wanted to be free to grow long hair, have a goatee instead of a beard and make some noise. Of course, the entire culture, police, religionists, everybody is repelled by the American infection of loud rebellious noise. Aren't the bombs enough American noise! These guys were swimming upstream. They stayed together as a band for 4 years without doing a stage show. They got together and made the music they wanted to hear, when the electricity was working. Sometimes they used gasoline powered generators.  

The film had quite a lot of bonus features of deleted scenes and a 45 min film that follows them the next step beyond the end of the film. They left Baghdad because it was dangerous, bullets flying everywhere, bombs, very little electricity. They joined refugees to Syria and spent some time in Damascus, where they put on a small show to some kids their ages, early 20s. They were the first heavy metal band to record in Damascus, recorded 3 demos. This isn't even a band with a van. These guys carry their instruments and walk. All of them living on the very edge, they had to get out of Baghdad. In Damascus they found peace, even liked the place, except that Iraqis were looked down on as the bottom people. Discrimination like being black in America, hopelessness for them, even worse, because they didn't have any laws on their side. They went on to Istanbul where they were allowed to grow their hair long, wear rock tshirts and even make some noise. They played a gig in a small joint with 50 or so twenty-somethings to an audience that received them wanting an encore. 

Then their time was up in Istanbul. UN refugee bureaucracies said they had to take a train on a 7hr ride to Ankara to apply for refugee status. There, they're told they have to wait perhaps 6 months in town off in the mountains of Turkey to see if a Western country will accept them. If they go back to Iraq they're dead, due to thoughtless circumstances on their part. We leave them at the end of the film isolated in a small Turkish city where they will not be able to find work and everybody will be against them, but the other refugees.

It's a swimming upstream story like Paul Theroux's novel, Mosquito Coast, the story of an American man on a tropical island manufacturing ice. These four young guys wanted to live in Baghdad with their families and friends and their lives, but the ongoing American war had been going on half their lives. They were beat down by it. They wanted to be rock stars. The whole world had turned on them for being Iraqi. Thanks to the American corporate lust for Iraqi oil, and one thing and another like SadSam Hussein, who knew too much and required elimination. 

I was watching these hopeless guys, who talked about their hopelessness, their every day despair, living through another day, and I'm thinking: brought to you by the big daddy of rogue states. My country, tis of thee, the most powerful police state ever, that only commits war on poor, defenseless countries, in the manner of the school bully, Gimme yer lunch money and I won't knock yer block off. He takes the kid's money and knocks his block off anyway. This is what I've seen of my country throughout my adult life. I've never liked it. In 1968 I got caught up in believing I lived in a democracy. It didn't last long. LBJ flattened that belief system for me like gum on the bottom of his shoe. I 've seen it so continuously since then, by now I accept it as how things are. The American Death Star vs the goatherding people of Iraq. Why? Because they're defenseless. Or so they appeared.


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