Yet Another Example of DECEPTIVE Reporting Practices by Conservative News Media: The Washington Times and Fox News

From the New York Times:
“The original report, posted on the online version of Insight, a magazine owned by The Washington Times, said that as a child in Indonesia, Mr. Obama had attended a madrassa, a type of school that has been known to teach a radical version of the Muslim faith.” Fox News then discussed the report on two of its programs.

On his show, Fox News’ John Gibson discussed rumors that Sen. Obama had attended a madrassa in Indonesia as a child. Fox News later said the rumors were false.

It’s bad enough that The Washington Times and Fox News did not do their research to learn that Barack Obama DID NOT attend a radical Muslim madrassa in Indonesia, but, it really just reflects on their ignorance and/or divisiveness that they would automatically make this claim since Indonesia is the largest Muslim country.

However, for anyone who has really spent time in the country and developed communities of friends there, it is well known that the vast majority of the Islam faith that is practiced in Indonesia is not radical or fundamentalist. Overall, the country is very peaceful and much more humane and respectful than the United States. In my experiences there with many different groups of people, no one has ever “preached” to me about Islam, nor been discrediting of any other religion. Rather, they’re happy to share information about the religion to me if I ask, but it’s never been in a way that’s arrogant. I’ve also always noticed that communities and groups of friends are made up of people from different religions, mostly Christian and Hindu, with a few Budhhist and all are respectful of each other.

A good description from Wikipedia:
Like other religions in Indonesia, Islam has blended with local traditional beliefs such as those practiced by the Abangan Muslims on Java and with other belief systems in northern Sumatra and Kalimantan. Such syncretic practises draw on distinctly Indonesian customs and typically differ from more Orthodox Islam by favoring local customs over Islamic law. One notable difference includes a generally greater level of freedom and higher social status for women. The majority of Indonesian Muslims are generally accepting of differing religious practices and interpretations within their own faith. Although the form of worship may differ, Muslims in Indonesia are typically devout; many have made the pilgrimage to Mecca, for example.

They’re all looking at the Jakarta Post because we made it into the paper

Just to give an idea of what Indonesian school kids are like, these are some pics from a few years ago when I painted a mural in Jogjakarta. These kids would come by every day (Monday – Saturday), giggling, and saying “Hi Missy” and then motion that they were holding a camera and say “click click” as a sign to me that they wanted their pictures taken, which I did. This daily ritual is one of the fondest experiences I have during that trip.

Lazy Days

Yes, surely I jest, the past week has been anything but. Working, working, working …. let’s see, lots of research on stats and preparations for the big DCYF RFP for Family Connections, and a comparative analysis, development plan revisions, and capacity building plan revisions for Oasis for Girls. There’s also been progress on the install, I’m very lucky to have two amazing assistants (Marina and Devon) helping. Also went to the openings at the Arts Commission and the Art Institute last night. Michael introduced me to Hou Hanru, the director of the McBean Gallery. I’m really impressed with his curating and look forward to seeing more. The next exhibit, Wherever We Go: Art, Identity, Cultures in Transit includes Mella Jaarsma and Nindityo Adipurnomo, who I know from Jogjakarta!!!!! As it turns out Hanru knows many of my friends in Jogja!

I’ve been listening to The Flying Burrito Brothers a lot this week too and watched Fallen Angel, a documentary about Gram Parsons. Like me, Parsons divided a period of time in his life between San Francisco and Los Angeles and loved Joshua Tree, where he died of an overdose. After his death when his body was at the airport (to be flown to his evil stepfather in New Oreleans for burial), his friend Phil Kaufman stole the body and took it back to Joshua Tree where he built a funeral pyre, burnt the body and subsequently spread Parsons’ ashes there (as Parsons had asked him to do). Also like me, Parsons was a huge fan of Nudie suits. Nudie’s work has had a strong influence on my own work. He was a folk/glam genious.

Here are some pics of the latest progress on the install:

Rebels With A Cause

“It isn’t the rebels who cause the troubles of the world, it’s the troubles that cause the rebels.” — Carl Oglesby, SDS

So true, so true.
My documentary festival continues …

I watched Rebels With A Cause about the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and the first disc from What We Want What We Believe from NewsReel Films‘ Black Panther Party archives (there are four discs on this and I’m watching one a week so that I can really process each) last weekend. Both were inspiring to see how strong and organized each movement was and how committed so many young people of that era were. Yet it was a reminder of how much we lack that form of large scale, give-it-all-up organizing for social justice today.

It was so disgraceful to see the Black Panther members being criminalized for their social justice programs (and even more so for just being Black), such as the children’s breakfast program — what an amazing example of community DIY response to racist America. It was also surprising to see how naive SDS leaders were about the records/files that the government was keeping on so many of its members, as well as infilitrating their organizing efforts, following them, and giving directives to stop these “rebels” by “any means necessary.” And we know that hasn’t changed — I’m currently on the terrorist threat list at airports. I hope that I have the opportunity to view my files at some point.

This past week I watched Riding the Rails about the 250,000 youth (boys and girls) who left home and hopped freight trains during the Depression. I’m sure my grandfather was one of them (I need to check with my dad). For some of them it was the best experience they’ve ever had (one guy is still doing it every summer at 70) and for others it was the worst and they wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I think the difference lies in the reason for having to hop trains to begin with. It seemed pretty clear that for the kids who were forced to leave to go out and try to find work and send money home, it sucked; and for the kids who saw it as a great adventure, it was just that.

Finally I watched Be Here To Love Me about Townes Van Zandt last night. I was left with such such strong, conflicting, and familiar emotions …
I think my favorite scene, which is in both Heartworn Highways and Be Here To Love Me, is when he’s at his cabin in Tennessee and with his girlfriend and neighbor and he starts singing the first song he ever wrote Waiting Around To Die:

Sometimes I don’t know where this dirty road is taking me
Sometimes I can’t even see the reason why
I guess I keep on gamblin’, lots of booze and lots of ramblin’
It’s easier than just a-waitin’ ’round to die

One-time friends I had a ma, I even had a pa
He beat her with a belt once cause she cried
She told him to take care of me, she headed down to Tennessee
It’s easier than just a-waitin’ ’round to die

I came of age and found a girl in a Tuscaloosa bar
She cleaned me out and hit it on the sly
I tried to kill the pain, I bought some wine and hopped a train
Seemed easier than just a-waitin’ ’round to die

A friend said he knew where some easy money was
We robbed a man and brother did we fly
The posse caught up with me, drug me back to Muskogee
It’s two long years, just a-waitin’ ’round to die

Now I’m out of prison, I got me a friend at last
He don’t steal or cheat or drink or lie
His name’s codeine, he’s the nicest thing I’ve seen
Together we’re gonna wait around and die

Selamat Minum dan Selamat Bagus Jalan ke Arie dan Nadiah!!!!!

Nadiah, Arie, and Nanuk

My friends Arie and Nadiah just got married a couple of weeks ago in Indonesia — in three different ceremonies because it is not legal to for people from different religions to marry!!! So much red tape (birokrasi) to navigate through. I’m very happy for them — they’ve been together for 6 years now. I sent Arie 2 pairs of Dickies for the occasion — this was his preferred attire for the event(s)!! And our friend Kevin Chen sent him checkered shoes, which Arie had also picked out. They both look beautiful!! These are some pics from their reception in Jogja.

I love the floor! Arie probably painted it. He and Nadiah dancing

Arie and Sam dancing!

crowd pic, I think someone is making a toast.

I think this is Arie’s mother talking to Nadiah — she’s really beautiful

family and friends

Heartworn Highways

I’ve been on a documentary kick this week. I borrowed a bunch from a friend and being an avid viewer of this genre, I’ve watched 3 in the past two days.

I started with The Same River Twice. The film shifts between the experience of a group of friends who spent a month during the summer of 1978 rafting down the Grand Canyon naked, and the lives of several of them 20 years later. From the Website:
“In 1978, on a breath-taking trip in the Grand Canyon, filmmaker Robb Moss and a group of free-spirited friends and lovers took a month-long trip down the Colorado River. Cutting between footage of their youthful, often naked, unscheduled lives and the complex realities of their adulthood today, the film creates a compelling portrait of cultural metamorphosis. From running rapids to running for mayor, The Same River Twice is a story of change, choices, and of finding one’s place in the world.”

me and my then boyfriend Dave at the Nevada Test Site protest, 1991

I found myself looking back on the years I spent in Oregon during my early twenties and thinking about how closely that period resembled the image of this group of friends, though it was almost 15 years later — and their footage looks like it could have been taken almost 15 years earlier. While my life hasn’t changed as much as most of the folks featured in Moss’s doc, it still made me acutely aware of the layers of time. I also found myself mesmerized by the character Jim — what a hottie — then and now!!

I then watched Heartworn Highways. What a gem!! The film, by James Szalapski, features Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark (the friend who turned me onto Karen Dalton, also just made me a copy of Clark’s first album, Old No. 1), Rodney Crowell, Charlie Daniels, Steve Young, Gamble Rogers, David Allan Coe, and Steve Earle during the rebirth of country music around Austin and Nashville in the mid-70′s. I loved seeing the footage of Townes Van Zandt (looking very forward to seeing Be Here To Love Me) and the first recording of Steve Earle when he was 19 or 20. I full heartedly agree with Earle’s subsequent quote years later about Van Zandt: “Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.”

Last night and today, I watched the documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick on Frank Lloyd Wright. I’m generally not a fan of Burns, but this is quite well done. I love Wright’s work — the Guggenheim has been might favorite museum since I first visited in the eighties and Falling Water is my dream home, though Taliesin West is a close second.

Tonight it’s Rebels With A Cause.

Top Ten for 2006

Happy New Year! I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that it’s 2007; especially since I was in Joshua Tree meditating during the transition (great place to be for the new year).

So for closure and celebration of 2006, here’s my Top Ten list for the past year:

#10. Crocs
I know this is old news, but I was very resistant to these because of the trendy factor. However, on the way to Joshua tree, we stopped at a sporting goods store and I tried a pair on and loved them! I ended up getting the last women’s small in bright turquoise blue and wore them throughout the meditation course.

#9. Massages at Sain Saine!! (thank you Jack!)

# 8 Jimmy Carter

I haven’t read his new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I have much respect for Carter, his commitment to social justice, and his fearlessness to stand by his beliefs and knowledge — what an amazing role model!

#7 Skin + Bones
This is one of the most stunning exhibits that I’ve seen recently. I will definately be going back.

#6 Global Warming 101 with Al Gore on Oprah
Sadly, we know that global warming is way beyond the crisis point when the news is all over the mainstream — and Oprah is a good barometer. That said, the fact he was on the show is hopeful.

#5 Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

If you think you got a pretty good idea of what it was like in New Oreleans during and following Katrina — even if you get your info from the alternative press — you didn’t. This film is a must see and one of the best reminders of what lengths the U.S. government and its institutions (local, state and national) will go to to protect its privileged white and discard its black communities.

#4 Election 2006

What can I say — any change away from the Bush administration is cause for celebration.

#3 Karen Dalton

Amazing!!!!!! A friend turned me on to her music and gave me a copy of her In My Own Time. She’s a haunting mix of Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and Janis Joplin — with banjo!

#2 Vipassana Meditation Course in Joshua Tree
I’ve been practicing this meditation technique for the past three years and the only thing better is doing the course (it’s 10 days minimum) in Joshua Tree.

#1 One year less of the Bush Administration

That’s right! Bye Bye. It’s true it could be worse the next time around, but at that point we might as well say bye bye to planet earth.