Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee Slacker Friday

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

I've got a new "Think Again" column, "The New, New, New Journalism," here.

More and more evidence for Walt/Mearsheimer?

The Wall Street Journal can't even list the title of Carter's book properly, here. And I was too lazy to include this quote from their report in my short item about the Times' coverage of Jimmy Carter, but it strikes me as relevant: "I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert. Fortified by my knowledge of Israel and my friendships there, I myself wrote most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers recognised, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective." -- New York Times executive editor Max Frankel, here.

And remember, Frankel was practically Yasser Arafat compared to the Israel-obsessed Abe Rosenthal, who led the paper for far longer, and whose son, Andrew, is about to take over the paper's editorial pages.

Meanwhile, back in the land of non-apartheid, the other Lieberman.

Quote of the Day, stolen from Atrios:

Anyway, I do think my judgment is superior to his [Juan Cole] when it comes to the big picture. So, I have an idea: Since he doesn't want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let's make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there's another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I'm all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc. One caveat: Because I don't think it's right to bet on such serious matters for personal gain, if I win, I'll donate the money to the USO. He can give it to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or whatever his favorite charity is.

-- Jonah Goldberg

P.S.: I would have taken the bet. Jonah still cost me money from when I had to change the locks after he lost the keys to my apartment, even after I kept his security deposit.

Because this is a blog, that quote barely edged out this one. On his television program, Bill O'Reilly asked "why," if children suffer no psychosocial deficit from being raised by same-sex parents, "wouldn't nature then make it that anybody could get pregnant by eating a cupcake?"

Really, what is one to say?

The Never-Ending Suck-Up Watch.

Dear Eat the Press:

Private speculation/hypothesizing is not the same thing as media gossip. (If it were gossip, there would be some information in it. There wasn't. Not that there's anything wrong with gossip ...) In any case, I stand by my speculation: Dean Baquet is the person on this planet most likely to be the next executive editor of The New York Times, though I don't profess to have any idea when. I can defend this statement, but I'll need a reason ...

Love,
Eric

Three stories about the great, great Ahmet Ertegun (who deserved a much bigger, longer obit than this one):

1) Ahmet's Original Pitch: Phil Spector tells the story:

Several years back we were all sitting around with some colored group, and one of them said, "Shit man, your contract ain't worth shit." We were in a restaurant and Ahmet looks around to make sure nobody hears us. The guy said, "Mercury gonna give me seven percent, you only give me five percent. That's like jive-ass." Ahmet said, "Not so loud." And he said, "Yeah man, I can't sign your contract for five percent when I can get me seven percent over at Mercury." And I was just sittin' back waitin' for what Ahmet was gonna say to this cat. The guy has the Mercury contract with him, and it does say seven percent. And he's got Atlantic's cockamamie contract for five percent. Now he's got Ahmet up a wall, he's trapped, and Ahmet knows he's trapped, and we're all sittin' around, and Ahmet hit him with a line: Ahmet said, "Man, listen man, you know what. I gonna give you 15 percent but I ain't gonna pay you." The guy said, "What?" Ahmet said, "That's what they gonna do. They gonna give you seven percent but they not gonna pay you, and I gonna give you five percent and pay you. Now that's a big difference isn't it?" The guy said, "That's right -- never thought of it that way. That makes a lot of sense. I'm gonna sign with you, Ahmet."

2) Ahmet's First Hit: Ahmet calls his distributor, as he did every two or three days, and his New Orleans guy, William B. Allen, who tells him, "There's a record here on a label that's extinct. It's called 'Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee.' We just ran out. Can you see if there's any wholesalers who have some. I'd like to have 5,000." Ertegun asked to have the record sent to him so he could copy it, but thought it quite amateurishly recorded with just a guitar accompaniment, and cheap production values, though the singer did sound a bit like Stick McGee. Ertegun said, "Where am I going to find somebody that sounds as country as this, like country blues, in New York?' Now the only person I knew who had any contact in New York with blues musicians was Brownie McGee. He had a little rehearsal studio in Harlem knew all the blues players. Played the guitar and sang the blues all by himself. So I called up Brownie. He said, 'I could do it; but my brother Stick is the one who did it and he's right here.' So that night I recorded him on at Apex Studio on 57th Street. We see the recording, with lots of wine drinking, and we get our first hit.

When they got really drunk, they sang the original lyrics that Stick used to sing in the Army:

Drinkin' that mess is our delight,
And when we get drunk, start fightin' all night.
Knockin' out windows and tearin' down doors,
Drinkin' half-gallons and callin' for more.
Drinkin' wine, motherfucker, drinkin' wine!
Goddam!
Drinkin' wine, motherfucker, drinkin' wine!
Goddam!
Drinkin' wine, motherfucker, drinkin' wine!
Goddam!
Pass that bottle to me!

They make the record, shipped the 5,000. The guy was delighted. The thing became a huge hit, sells unheard of amounts, 400,000 or something, and we were heavily counterfeited on it as well. Stick was pretty happy too. He made some royalty off our record. He didn't get any off the first version."

3) Ahmet signs the Rolling Stones: Ahmet falling asleep at the Whisky-a-Go-Go early in the morning while wooing Mick Jagger for Atlantic, with Warner's money, as Chuck Berry sings "Come On" onstage. Jagger agrees to sign but is conspiring about how to bring along Keith, when he notices Ahmet snoring. ... This was a good idea, Ertegun later explained, because "Mick is the kind of person who hates pushy people ... and the fact that I fell asleep while he was telling me they wanted to go on Atlantic absolutely solidified the deal because in his mind he thought, 'This is a guy who doesn't give a shit.' "

(How sad that Ahmet fell BEFORE the Stones show at the Beacon, huh? Anyway, my sincere apologies to the authors of those anecdotes. I saved the stories, but did not have a need to save the source, which were/are to be thanked en masse once my rock history project is completed.)

Slacker Friday:

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Hey Doc --

You know what I think? I think that my old idea about marching the national political press corps out of Washington and off to a re-education camp in the hills of Virginia is going to look better and better as the 2008 election cycle begins to warm up. Make them all reclaim swamps and plant soybeans by the sweat of their brows. They have to be stopped before they hurt the country again. Hell, the 2008 novelizations have already begun, what with the silliness about Barack Obama's middle name -- note to Sean Hannity: Most of the country thinks your middle name is "Dickhead"; pass it on -- and yet another RFK-is-gagging-in-the-Beyond moment from Jeff Greenfield about the Illinois senator's wardrobe. (Dammit, Greenfield KNOWS better than this.) To say nothing of the continual warm-and-fuzzies being bestowed upon Senator John McCain despite the fact that his plans for Iraq involve pitching a few more thousand souls into a useless meat-grinder -- the one good thing about C-Plus Augustus's Excellent Adventure is the fact that one can say "Oh, yeah? You and what army?" with a perfectly straight face -- and the fact that his plan will be a political millstone by Easter next, and that he has spent the years since 2000 crafting a career dedicated to the proposition that he would publicly sell his gray-haired Granny to the Malay pirates for 25 electoral votes. Pick up your picks and shovels, 'ho's, and quick march.

This cannot happen again. The country has got to demand better than this. Whoever the poor sod is who gets this job in January 2009 is going to look around him after the applause dies down and see wreckage all the way to the horizon. I can't imagine what the actual truth of it is, since these folks have gotten so good at locking it up on almost every issue, large and small. That is really the only question to ask -- how in God's name, Candidate X, do you plan to fix everything that this reckless passel of vandals has broken in the past seven years? It should be asked of Republicans and Democrats, especially the former. It should be made quite clear that distancing oneself from the current group of bloody bunglers -- indeed, apologizing to the country for enabling them -- is the most basic prerequisite for being considered a serious presidential candidate. No crawfishing. No tap-dancing. "I am sorry for whatever role I played in foisting upon the country the worst presidential administration in history, and for my lack of fortitude in holding them to account when I should have."

Then you can talk to me about health care.

P.S.: Am I being anti-Semitic in saying that the first sentence of this post is the creepiest thing ever printed by The New Republic? Anyone who once "played doctor and patient" with Marty Peretz would need five years of therapy and a canal barge full of Thorazine before their minds would allow them to remember.

Name: Stupid
Hometown: Chicago

Hey Eric, it's Stupid to make excuses. So, not making excuses (for supporting the Iraq war) but...

I only recently got to read Thomas Ricks' Fiasco, which has been overshadowed by Woodward's State of Denial. What stuns me the most isn't the bungling of the occupation but Anthony Zinni's account of Operation Desert Fox, President Clinton's 1998 strategic bombing of Iraq after Saddam's interference with U.N. inspections. Zinni says that Desert Fox so destabilized Saddam and re-energized the Shiite opposition that alarmed Middle Eastern diplomats warned Zinni that Saddam would not survive and Iraq would fall into chaos.

Say what? A mere four days of bombing almost achieved regime change? Everything I had read about Desert Fox portrayed it as a, well, fiasco -- an impotent pinprick that emboldened Saddam or a public relations nightmare that bolstered his regional and international stature. Just last year the Weekly Standard alleged that Desert Fox inspired Saddam to reach out to Al Qaeda. But it wasn't just the neocons: I checked The New York Times and Chicago Tribune archives, and the reporting from 1998 isn't much different, with the Whitewater impeachment hovering over everything. The closest hint to Zinni's account is a line in a 1999 Times article that Saddam had cracked down harder on internal dissent following the bombings. (Interestingly, it was during this same unrest that Moqtada Al-Sadr's father was assassinated).

Why was all this kept from the public? In 2003 the only options we were given on Iraq was inspections or war. Don't misunderstand me: I'm not arguing that inspections/containment wasn't the way to go all along. Zinni came to fear that Desert Fox might topple Saddam and began to draft a contingency plan ("Desert Crossing"). It envisioned 400,000 troops and still wasn't optimistic it could avoid wide scale bloodshed, although its decentralized and civilian-based approach seems sensible). But given the post 9/11 mood of the nation and the WMD deceptions, maybe it was the only politically viable option. And I can't help thinking that if had been the Iraqis who in the end had toppled Saddam and not an invading/occupation force, we'd have had a chance of more international cooperation for the post-Saddam era.

Name: Eric Boehlert
Hometown: Montclair, NJ

I appreciate Lt. Col. Bob Bateman's response to my column on the brewing Jamil Hussein controversy. Given his knowledge of Iraq, I certainly take his comments more seriously than I do the ravings from warbloggers like Michelle Malkin. Bob is clearly skeptical of the AP's reporting and raises key questions. But as I noted in my column, I'm not vouching for the AP or the local Iraqi stringers AP employs. I wrote:

Should the AP be held responsible for its reporting, and should the global news agency be diligent about whom it hires inside Iraq? Of course. And there should be hell to pay if it's proven any news events were manufactured.

The central point of my column was not to defend, point-by-point, the details of the Hussein saga, but to highlight how Malkin and others members of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists want to take this one, very isolated AP incident and convince themselves -- and their readers -- that because questions persist about the sourcing and reporting on this one story, that means all of the AP's Iraq reporting is bogus and all of the mainstream media's Iraq reporting is bogus because journalists want the U.S. to lose in Iraq. That's nonsense. The warbloggers, who have been wrong about Iraq for going on 50 straight months, are looking for a scapegoat. I don't think the AP is their answer.

Name: Steve
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Lt. Col. Bateman illustrates what the war on the media has created. In order to discuss or dispute a specific report, one has to give a detailed disclaimer because his comments would otherwise be written off as that of a disgruntled person. Any criticism could either be a simple critique (I'm not sure that report is credible), or an attack (Damn defeatist media). In this case, there are several possibilities. Mainly, the source could have picked up an urban legend that his sources vouched for. Or, it could be true, and the detail over the extent of the mosques attacked could be multiple reports of the same attack and the amount of fuel used is simply the vagaries of eyewitness reporting. I wouldn't deny that the sadists who torture people wouldn't also have decided to try to burn somebody. The possible error in this report has been magnified into the central front in the war on the media. AP may be overreacting to defend a report that may not be confirmed, and the right is certainly using this report to discredit the Iraq coverage.

Name: Steve
Hometown:

Lt. Col. Bateman, your complaints about the AP certainly fell on receptive ears with me. Earlier this year, the AP fired their fine Vermont Bureau Chief Chris Graff for the horrible crime of moving a column by our senior senator, Patrick Leahy, to the newswire (God forbid we get a view from the minority party!). Graff had served the AP with integrity for 27 years and had earned the respect of both sides of the political aisle. His dismissal left the Ass Press with absolutely no credibility in this state, so now I am not surprised to hear of your run in with this so-called news service.

Name: Michael DeKort
Hometown: Centreville, NJ

Hello,

I am the YouTube whistleblower who has been working for some time to get the issues out there and fixed. Due to the gross negligence of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and some members of the Coast guard the Coast Guard is far less capable of protecting us now than before the program began - and that was in response to an urgent need after 9/11.

I am asking for your help in making sure people are held accountable and we get this fixed. I assure you - and I know this because I was there - every one of the problems was easily avoidable. We are in this mess because the leaders in question here were professionally, technically and ethically bankrupt.

More about the story is here, here, here, here, and here.

Name: John B
Hometown: Des Moines, IA

This week Immigration & Customs Enforcement raided 6 meatpacking plants owned by Swift/Monfort Company, an event that will be viewed by most as long-overdue enforcement of immigration regulations. A closer look at this enforcement action will show a lot more. First, this company-wide raid (6 out of 7 Swift facilities were shut down completely) was originally scheduled to take place the last week of October but was delayed by court action. Apparently the GOP calculated that courting Hispanics wasn't going to pay off so they'd better court bigots. This thing has been sold to the public as a massive identity theft ring. In fact, 1,282 people were detained and 65 charged. We don't know what they've been charged with because that's for the authorities to know. Round up the usual brown subjects. None of the above represents a big surprise, but here's where it gets interesting. ALMOST NONE of the detained individuals have been given access to attorneys, clergy, family members, or Red Cross representatives. Their names are not being released. They have been 'disappeared'. Ask yourself this: if you were accidentally swept up in this dragnet and gave the wrong answer when an ICE agent said "papers, please," do you think he would help you prove that you are in fact a citizen or other legal resident of the US, entitled to Habaeus Corpus and all of the other niceties of the Constitution? Not to worry, Homeland Security says people on the outside can apply for information on anyone they suspect of being taken in the Tuesday raids on Friday. Except ... THEY MIGHT NOT BE THERE! That's right, as of noon Thursday the Des Moines, IA media is watching people being loaded onto buses so they can be moved to the airport to board unidentified planes. The planes are destined for ... don't know, it's none of our business. If you're interested, here are links to some articles about this operation (here, here, here, and here).

Special Springsteen/Winterland section:

Name: Jeff Metzger
Hometown:

12/15/1978 - Prodigal Son At Winterland, San Francisco, CA

Entire show (250+ mb)

Part 1 (discs 1 and 2)

Part 2 (disc 3)

(That wasn't so hard ...)

Name: Craig Pomeroy
Hometown: Sturgeon Bay, WI

I don't think it's the same show as on vinyl, but the December 15, 1978, show at Winterland can be found here.

Name: TC
Hometown: NYC

My vinyl copy, bought at Second Coming Records in The Village in 1981, includes an interview with Bruce conducted during the break in the show (that'd be on Side 2, I think). I've not seen that interview on any of the CD boots released since. Seems odd.

Happy Winterland anniversary, btw.

Keep up the good work.

Name: Dick McEwen
Hometown: Edinboro, PA

Bruce's 1978 concert tour has to go down as one of the greatest of all times. I caught the July Los Angeles Forum show (still the best concert I have ever attended) and a late December Pittsburgh show (where I was fortunate enough to be the first person in line for tickets and got front row seats -- Bruce stepped off stage and sat on my shoulder during "Rosalita").

Due to the wonder of the internet, the Winterland is not as hard to find as you may think. The Concert Vault area of Wolfgang's Vault has the entire concert available for streaming along with hundreds of other classic shows.

Love your blog. Keep up the good work.

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