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Robert Risk, Divided kingdom that became a cradle for determined killers (London Independent, September 27, 2001)
Media Studies Journal, Front lines and deadlines
Joe Davidson, Criticism is patriotism: Reviewing the news since 9-11 (TomPaine.com, September 25, 2001)
Testimony by John J. Maresca, Vice President, International Relations, Unocal Corporation, to House Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, February 12, 1998, Washington, D.C.


The below is modeled on a Navajo ritual called Mud Events. It and other like rituals can be found in Jerome Rothenberg’s Shaking the Pumpkin: Traditional Poetry of the Indian North Americas.

Forest Ritual

1. Run around the trees. Half the group strips, paints their bodies blue, ties hair back with reeds. Appoint one of the blue team to chant, another to keen, another to remember.
2. The first half paints themselves black and white, wears lion manes, talks to each other in monotone. Then they beat up the blue half, take the forest.
3. Make the blue people build huts and totem poles, clean up excrement, turn dung into hovel housing. With mud they must cake their babies’ eyes, ears, mouths, nostrils; drop them into small mud pockets in the night, leave them for the coyotes. Then they must build taller totems, paint pretty things on the poles.
4. The first group places daisies in their hair, ties lace to the top of the totem poles. While holding the lace, dance around the poles. Afterward, roast coyotes for supper.
5. The second group chants, keens. The one who was in charge of remembering, leaves.
6. The first group sets up classes in how to cook coyotes with rosemary twigs. Each gets a can with a string connected to all the others.
7. The remembering chief returns. Some of the chanters create a frenzy of keening and remembering. They push over two of the totem poles onto many of the pretty dancers.
8. The first group smears red and black war clay over their faces.
9. The teams decide the next step: Team A destroys Team B or; Team B destroys Team A or; they destroy each other or; both teams burn down the forest; or ...
10. At the end of the game, everyone lies face down, smells the clover; turns over, watches the clouds. All stand up, run fast to the spring, jump in, wash off.
Hector Q. Mooney


Good-bye to Shangri-la

I was going to devote this space to a detailed look at the present state of our economy, documented with figures and statistical charts.

But you probably spent last week, as I did, watching the stock market bounce around like a rag doll in a playful terrier’s mouth. Noting the layoffs announced by airline after airline. Listening to explanations of the decline in American consumer confidence.

Closer to home, Supervisor Gavin Newsom told the board, “Everything is not fine in San Francisco,” calling for departments to reduce their budgets. In the Chronicle Sam Zuckerman wrote of one-two punch: “Already reeling from the sharp downturn of its dominant technology sector, the region faces tough times in two other pillars of its economy: tourism and air transport.” Our mayor closeted himself with members of the business community, emerging to urge a new tourism campaign aimed at enticing “the little old lady from Hillsborough to come into San Francisco and drink tea at the Ritz-Carlton.”

But you knew all that. You’ve know it for months — even years — as you watched neighbors being evicted, listened to musicians and artist friends search for an affordable workspace, stepped around the growing number of street people with no place to go.

Instead, let me introduce you to the city of San Francisco as it presents itself to visitors — to 11.3 million of them, in fact, who enrich our coffers to the tune of $7.62 billion. Or at least, they did last year.

Here’s what attracted them: “San Francisco is a golden dream come true, a place where heart, mind and soul embrace, lost in the simplicity of delightful deliverance….San Francisco encourages lingering. It was designed with adventure, romance and pleasure in mind. It is one of life’s great indulgences, so indulge. It is one of the world’s most gratifying escapes, so escape. It is where the world comes to unwind. It is America’s preeminent playground.”

Does this description, from the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, sound like a place where you’d like to live? “America’s preeminent playground.” Disneyland North. It gives new meaning to the phrase, “A nice place to visit, but would you want to live there?”

For that’s the problem, isn’t it? People do live in this city which, the Visitors Bureau adds, “has been named the world’s top city twice by readers of Condé Nast Traveler.” Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, the lives of its residents — and their livelihoods — took top billing.

Less than 30 years ago, in 1973, Gladys Hansen revised the guide to San Francisco published in 1940 under WPA auspices. Here is the city and its environs as she presented it then: “ Long the West’s chief industrial center, the city itself had passed its zenith as a manufacturing center by the turn of the century. In its place, the East Bay came forward as factories found industrial sites cheaper and rail connections more convenient on the mainland. The city of San Francisco itself assumed its present role of financial and marketing center for an industrial area embracing the whole bay region — that of front office for the plants across the water.”

From front office to themepark in less than 30 years. Isn’t it time to reverse the flow? It may take a while, but in the present circumstances, what do we have to lose?

There’s no need for grand gestures. We got here by almost imperceptible steps, and we can go back the way we came. Why not eat a little humble pie and sit down representatives from the other Bay Area cities to plan the world’s best coordinated, most inclusive regional network of finance and industry and transportation? Why not begin to re-create a region of workers where, as J.D. Borthwick said in 1857, “No occupation [is] considered at all derogatory…. Every kind of business, custom, and employment, [is] solicited”?

Because in the next few years, we’re going to need all the help we can get.

Betsey Culp



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Fuying, strong & beautiful,

fled Canton for St. Francis’ City
& every morning at Washington Square Park in North Beach
as cold damp fog rolled in from the Pacific
& hot summer sun rose from the East


she cast elongating shadows westward
from Benjamin Franklin’s pewter statue,
grey shadows against blue sky & white clouds,
green leaves of 6 cottonwoods surrounding her
with emerald green moss & grey bark;


I heard water sprinklers wetting August grass
as a rainbow surrounded her, its arc of colors
curving from her fingertips to toes,


I heard her breathing deeply, gracefully executing
her own personal Tai-Chi, spiraling energy
up over the pointed spires of Saints Peter & Paul Church


gracefully thrusting, stretching, reaching, pushing,
as her hips gyrated to the church-bells striking 8 times.


I never saw Fuying swimming, somehow, instead
I saw her surfacing, propelling magical, watery air
by fingers, hands, fists, knuckles, elbows, arms, shoulders, back,
legs, knees, feet, toes,
exploding it into scattering diamonds each morning.


Philip Hackett, 8.VIII.O1.