Occupy Journalism Q & A with TRC’s Gabrielle Price

[A question/answer session from an anonymous journalism student from Sweden for Occupy.  We both agreed it would be good to share this for all the young journalists and budding occupy media teams.  So, here you go.  I was honored to be asked to participate.]

Why did you decide to pursue a career in Journalism?

I wrote for a school newspaper in Jr. High and was curious about journalism then and after several creative writing courses in High School – but I didn’t actively pursue it until I was well into my 30’s – mostly because it flushed well with my photography.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words but many of the photographs I took at the time were art photos and descriptions came with them as a matter of course.

My actual career background is in the administrative field [much of that was correspondence and research]. The people I worked for liked the manner and style of my writing and I was highly praised for my ability as a researcher.

After my last administrative job was phased out, I actively pursued photojournalism as a means of sharing information.  Being a politically active book nerd, my skills simply married well with journalism.  I took the leap with my first blog and received a lot of good feedback.  Later, I started a music project which garnered some international attention for my writing and since then, I managed to cross the music writing over into activism.  Two things I am very passionate about.  This started me down a path of deeper research and intelligence gathering – and the study of journalism in history.

In many ways, journalism pursued me.  I’m also a Gemini – ruled by Mercury – the sign of communication and information.  Though, many don’t put stock in those things, I can attest to that being a strong personality trait.

Are you glad that you did?  Do you have any regrets?

This is an interesting question seeing as I feel like I had no choice but to write.  Like an artist creates, a writer writes.  I’m glad my work helps others and in this day and age of corporate news – it feels like my duty to continue.  I’m honored to witness history as it unfolds and try my best to report factually and objectively – which was near impossible to do in political writing.  The deeper I researched, the more I learned and it became a personal awakening process.  For that, I am also glad and couldn’t regret a thing.  It’s been as much a spiritual journey as a professional one.  Seeking to uncover the truth, by it’s very nature, is a spiritual undertaking.

It’s impossible to regret growth as a human being – it is experience that makes the writer, after all.  Though there are few posts by me on TRC, I like sharing others work.  I’m working on a book, building a radio station as well as news videos, which doesn’t lend itself well to news writing at the moment.  There are a lot of great reporters and writers out there and I like to share the ones that impress me.

What successes have you realized as a result of your career choice?

Mostly accolades and the honor of seeing my work alongside some of my personal heroes in the field.  Also using my work to help others less fortunate or that do not have a voice.  Success is a personal reflection because it is defined differently by an individual rather than what society deems successful.  For me personally, I have printed letters and emails framed from other writers and artists I admire – and have met one of them last year who was quite a mentor for me.  So I guess I feel my successes are in my growth and the personal connections with like minded people.

This is also a mixed blessing as some writers may not be socially in tune or egotistical which is a turn off.  But that’s life and all part and parcel of the experience.  That doesn’t make a person’s work any less valuable a contribution.  I mean, Hunter Thompson may have been considered an asshole by many – but his writing put Rolling Stone on the map, in my opinion.

What have been your greatest challenges (or what are your greatest challenges now)?

Money.  I think most writers would say the same.  The corporate media machine and technology has lulled a lot of people into a false sense of what journalism is or should be.  It does get a bad rap.  I feel that is changing however, so honestly, it’s an exciting time to be involved in media as much as it is precarious.   There are many who probably couldn’t hack it and aside from money, the greatest challenge for me was cutting through my own cognitive dissonance in order to report without mainstream bias.  This is much harder than it sounds simply because the mainstream has done it’s job well.  Being a little ‘gonzo’ helps.Hunter Thompson remains one of my favorite writers and he said that it is near impossible for regular people to get good information during wartime.  This makes the job of a journalist much harder as well.  Meeting and overcoming challenges to deliver honest reporting is pretty much how any journalist worth their salt will keep their integrity and the loyalty of their readers [or viewers].  Even when the political climate makes them fickle…and fickle is being kind.  It’s a tough audience out there right now.I’ve always admired Keith Olbermann’s ability to maintain loyal listeners.   I’m not sure European readers will know who he is – but he was on a cable station called Current which is owned in part by Al Gore.  He was fired abruptly two weeks ago and was one of the only remaining voices on [pseudo] mainstream that supported and reported on Occupy.  I hope he gives Current a Gonzo bitch-slap so hard that Al’s wife Tipper will feel it.Don’t get me started on Tipper.

Are there any “unknown” pieces or aspects of such a career that might be helpful for an outsider to consider?

Be prepared to handle the truth when you find it – and be prepared to tell it to others thoughtfully not cautiously. The duty of any journalist is to report what IS – to the best of their ability with the information available.  ‘Available’ does not mean you don’t have to research.  Dig until you are satisfied in your own mind and heart that you have discovered something of value to your readers.  It is ultimately about them.Lastly, if you want to improve a thing [your writing, the political landscape, the press] be critical of it.  In order for the art of journalism to survive corporate control – it needs more critics not suck ups.  This means you need to have a thick skin and an iron constitution.  Journalism is not for the weak of heart.  The old saying that the pen is mightier than the sword is true – words are very powerful things – wield them with respect for the truth and you will never injure yourself.Others may get hurt, however – but if a small few are hurting the 99%, the environment or our democracy – being critical of them is just helping karma along.  It is way past due for a nudge.

Any personal advice or last comments?

Keep a copy of the First Amendment where you write.  I recommend watching the movie “Good Night and Good Luck” at least twice to understand why one of the highest awards for American journalism has Edward R. Murrow’s name on it.  If we were all half as good as he was – we could mop the floor with MSM here.  That time is coming because this economy is seeing major publications laying people off.  Citizen press and underground media need to get their foundations established now – there is a window and I’m unsure how long it will be open.  Connect with like-minded thinkers, photographers, videographers and not worry about trying to “make it” in a dying corporate media culture.  Leave that old cold war corpse to rot…it’s time to get on with the business of telling people the truth.US media is about as useful as a stars and stripes band aid on compound fracture.

Occupying Fear and Loathing – A Foreword

by Gabrielle Price

This morning, a good friend of mine – one helluva Marine – sent me a link to check out.  He always sends me anything to do with Hunter S. Thompson as we are both fans [only one of us takes that a little far…though, I’ve read that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery].  I suppose it is a bit different for a woman to have such an affinity for a man known for womanizing, boozing and doping it up.

But Hunter was so much more than his carnal instincts – much more than most would perceive from a movie based on his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  He was a patriot, a serious lover of freedom and the constitution, and one of the best writers, and I believe commentators of a moment in time because of his higher instincts.  He was poised at the edge of a political world on the verge of losing it’s ever-loving mind.  He was passionate.  And sometimes that passion was mistaken for hatred, or anger – though, he had plenty of reasons to be angry – like the rest of us.  I think that’s why he always resonated with me.  He was able to say, without apology, how he felt about what he saw happening to this country…and he purged his disgust and anger in a way that made me feel relieved afterward.  He said it for me – I didn’t have to – and ladies don’t talk like that, dont’cha know?

I come from a family that has its roots in both Virginia and Kentucky [where HST hailed from]. Hunter’s colorful language and flair for humorous descriptions and people, made his writing feel as if I had just sat on the front porch with him and spun yarns over a few beers.  I’ve been told for years that when I am angry, a bit of a southern drawl creeps in and that my writing style can only be described as Gonzo.  I never really embraced that until after he was gone and I began writing during the “stolen term” of the Bush Administration.  9/11 was a very hard time for a lot of people and Hunter spoke a lot about this.  It was really hard for me to see him go in 2005…but there was no need for me to ‘go Gonzo’ when his work was there for all to read.  I thought, who the fuck was I to pick up that baton?  There are other journos out there telling it like it is – maybe even humorous Kentucky colonels covering politics?

Turned out, not so much…but I often imagined what he might say even though I lacked a few colors from his marvelous verbal palette.

Even in 2005, I was terribly naive about a lot of things that he wrote about [i.e. foreign policy, militarism] and I had some learning to do.  LOTS of research if I was going to have the audacity to put those hat and glasses on.

By 2008, when Bush was finally leaving – politics got more personal and just uglier than hell.  I understood more and more…but I didn’t write often about issues when I worked on my music project.  THEN the BP oil spill happened and I got fired up again.  Then I learned about peak oil and sat my ass right back down to study.  Nowadays, I see the political landscape from a safe distance [for my health and to maintain any friendships…agreeing to disagree doesn’t happen like it used to] and I wonder what Doc would have to say about this whole mess.

Then I figure he kinda already did say everything he wanted to say [or could say] about what he knew and saw and got the fuck out while the getting was good.  Wish he could have been here to see Occupy…

I’ve had days where I thought I was going to be done with writing altogether in these last few weeks…just ready to chuck it all in.  Trying to figure out how the hell to share peak oil information that would make grown men with muscle cars weep in a puddle of piss, and make Ikea shoppers go to addiction groups to deal with never being able to buy Swiss-modern petroleum based plastic everything from cups to shitty wall art.  Like Tyler Durden said, “Martha Stewart is polishing brass on the Titanic…it’s going down, man.”

I thought about this recent media trip, Occupy Fear and Loathing – which ended up nothing at all like what was intended; loss of footage, a camera, several missed interviews, didn’t get home for Christmas, a piece of shit truck with no stereo, a nightmare of a travel partner who couldn’t even pump gas who left me stranded in Phoenix…and who still has my documentary footage.

I wondered what the fuck point is there in writing about the trip or anything at all.  And just when I thought I couldn’t stand to read another link…

We come back to this morning’s message with this link that was shared with me.  A report from the Los Angeles Review of Books, called “Love, Boxing and Hunter S. Thompson.”  In the beginning of the report is a synopsis where one of the authors mentions two books – for my purposes, I will mention only the one – and thank the author and my friend from the bottom of my Gonzo heart.

Tom Lutz – “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas […] colossal failure of mission, spectacular performance of the art of being sidetracked, of being shanghaied by errant attention, or, perhaps, [a] perfect example of the way art is, at its best, a perversion, a turning away from more straightforward intentions.
Ho ho!  Res ipsa loquitur.  Let the good times roll.
Rest in peace, Doc.  I got this.


“I shared a vagrant optimism that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top.  At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey.  It was the tension between these two poles — a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other — that kept me going.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson / The Rum Diary (1993)
Occupy your fear.
Then let it go.

A Matter of Life and Death

Foreword excerpt from the book Crossing The Rubicon ~ The Decline Of The American Empire At The End of The Age Of Oil by Michael C. Ruppert / published 2004

Shared with permission from Mr. Ruppert

The real deal on corporate media

by Catherine Austin Fitts

In 1990, a New York Times reporter writing about my work implementing financial transparency and controls as an Assistant Secretary in the first Bush administration resigned to prevent the Times’ Washington Bureau Chief from intentionally falsifying the story.  The bureau chief kept his job, a first rate investigative reporter left the news profession, and the story was buried.  This manipulation protected 1980’s black budget fraud at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).  It was one of my many lessons on the economic interests and political loyalties of corporate media.
Indeed, during the 1980’s, the savings and loan industry and government insurance programs were stripped of an estimated $500 billion by syndicates of military, intelligence, and private financial interests.  The profits were used to buy up banking, industrial, and media companies and to finance political campaigns.  From a greater position of political, judicial, and economic power in the 1990’s, these same syndicates then stripped an estimated $6 trillion of investors’ value in pump and dump stock market and mortgage market schemes and an estimated $4 trillion of taxpayer money from the US federal government.
In 1997, the Washington Post killed a cover story on my efforts to help HUD insure the integrity of its mortgage programs, thus making possible the subsequent disappearance of $59 billion from HUD as a part of this orgy of “piratization” of government assets by private interests.  Soon thereafter, when I attended a private invitation-only reception with colleagues at her home, Katherine Graham, the owner of the Washington Post, snubbed me by refusing to greet me in her receiving line.
Washington Post corporate interests profited from HUD programs used to gentrify Washington, DC neighborhoods.  Check out the last few pages in Graham’s autobiography – it’s there in black and white.  What’s not to be found in the pages of the Washington Post or Graham’s book is the “real deal” on who has profited from insider real estate development or narcotics trafficking in these same Washington neighborhoods – or from reinvestment of the resulting profits in stocks of local corporations like the Washington Post.
I do not mean to single out the New York Times or the Washington Post.  I have had similar experiences with the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report and Dow Jones Newswire, to name a few.  Trusted friends and colleagues have experienced similar situations with numerous newspapers, magazines, and networks owned and operated by corporate media interests.

George Orwell once said that omission is the greatest form of lie.  That’s the best description I knew of corporate media today.


The growing power of media
The cost to you of supporting corporate media is not just the subscription prices or the time lost to advertisements.  It’s the cost of omission – failing to tell you what you need to know.  Consider that this cost includes:
–  Your share of the $10 trillion that has been moved out of the US stock market and government without your having been informed by an alert and objective news media in time for you to take actions to protect yourself and your family.
–  The dilution of your Constitutional freedoms and the vesting of power in a small group of individuals who defraud you (the public) of staggering sums of money and then use that money to buy up media and control your government and judiciary and to compromise your rights and the rights of the people around you.
–  The impact on you and your children of having your streets and schools overwhelmed with dangerous narcotics and prescription drugs.
Our financial system depends on liquidity.  In turn, liquidity depends on a popular faith in the system’s “rule of law.”  Global leadership’s power depends on the ability to combine criminal cash flows with liquid stock market and government securities.  This is why Mike Ruppert’s From The Wilderness [and currently Collapsenet.com] and a growing global network of Internet media are accomplishing so much as we shift our readership and subscription dollars to them.  The powers that be are highly motivated to protect the legitimacy of their financial system.  If a little bit of well-placed illumination exposes some of this criminality, the criminals take notice.  That little bit of illumination can also embarrass them a lot in front of their families and neighbors.  Who wants to go to a PTA meeting after Mike Ruppert has explained that you are on the board of, or a lead investor in, a company complicit in slave trafficking or the torture of children?
David can defeat Goliath if we provide the resources to finance the stones – as you have helped do by buying this book.
The record speaks for itself
The fact that America and many countries around the globe are being strip-mined in a manner that results in the destruction and “piratization” of our infrastructure and natural resources, the reduction of the value of our personal assets and retirement and health care benefits and the abrogation of our civil liberties is not something that the corporate media has made clear to you. Mike Ruppert has.
Allegations that the CIA and Department of Justice were partnered with George H. W. Bush and Oliver North through the offices of the National Security Council in a little Iran-Contra arms and cocaine trafficking operation in Mena, Arkansas; and that Hillary Clinton’s law firm was helping launder the local share of the profits through state housing agency securities and investments were never addressed objectively by corporate media.  Mike Ruppert covered these stories and broke the story of the possible connection between these allegations and the Clinton impeachment.

It is highly unlikely that you read or heard in the corporate media that the price of gold was being manipulated to turn off our financial “smoke alarm,” or to “piratize” significant inventories of gold out of government and central banks globally at suppressed values.  It is highly unlikely that you read or heard that money was allegedly being siphoned off from federal agencies using PROMIS-type software programs and that important financial securities and investigation records were destroyed in the Oklahoma City and 9/11 attacks.  Mike Ruppert’s subscribers have read these stories.

You did not read or hear in the corporate media that the events of 9/11 “just happened” to resolve a stalemate in the defense appropriations subcommittee created when, in the face of the “disappearance” of $3.3 trillion from the Department of Defense and a five-year refusal to produce audited financial statements, Congress was challenged with achieving a significant increase in defense spending.  Or that the events of 9/11 allowed the Federal Reserve to adopt highly inflationary monetary policies that postponed dealing with serious financial system flaws.  Mike Ruppert covered these stories.

You did not read or hear in the corporate media that our lives and economy are entirely dependent on fossil fuel, that world oil and gas production will soon decline, and what these facts have to do with the events of 9/11 and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.  Mike Ruppert covered these stories.

All these facts and allegations have been made abundantly clear by Mike and his publication From The Wilderness.  While corporate media refines the art of profitable omission, Mike Ruppert has risked his name, his financial security, and his life to warn us – again and again.

[Gabrielle again – I need to explain that Mike’s site From the Wilderness is archived and still available for anyone to view and search through.  I’ve used it many times to vet information because Mike’s work is solid – the kind of work I strive to do.  The reason why I am sharing this is so you will understand the historical importance of his book, Crossing the Rubicon and that membership to his site could now, quite literally, save your life.  We all see what’s going on in the new media now – the crackdown on protesters, the signing of the treasonous NDAA bill, the rising cost of fuel, and the tensions now rising with the US and Iran.  Mike predicted damn near everything that’s happening.  Get a membership to get your finger on the pulse of the world – and protect yourself.  Your government isn’t going to do it.  Back to the excerpt…]

An info cop’s beat: Watching your back

Through his website, radio talk-show appearances, speeches, DVDs, monthly newsletter, and email updates, Mike has been telling us for years what he sees, hears, and feels about “the real deal.”

Mike Ruppert had to leave the Los Angeles Police Department because he tried to prevent government-protected narcotics trafficking.  After learning that the corporate media would not tell the truth about this important story, Mike became a publisher.  In the face of widespread public denial of the fact of our economic dependence on “narco-dollars” and warfare, Mike persisted.  Mike is determined to help us face and recover from our financial addiction to an estimated $500 billion – $1 trillion of annual US money laundering.

In one sense, Mike is still a cop.  He’s publisher as “info-cop.”  His “info-beat” is the intelligence we need to protect ourselves – even if the lifting of the shades of denial means exposing our own complicity in the enjoyment of the fruits of the trickle down of dirty money.

Throughout the years, I have heard a lot of criticism of Mike and his work.  For example:
Mike is too aggressive.

It’s true that Mike is unbelievably aggressive.  Mike’s aggression is one of the reasons I am a subscriber to From The Wilderness.  I want to hear about danger real loud, real clear, and on a real-time basis.  I want Mike shouting “fire!” while I still have time to get out of the theater alive.  It takes incredible aggression to stand up to the military banking complex and the academics, think tanks, not-for-profits, and corporate media they fund.  All the money on the planet can, and does, buy a lot of attack poodles.  It is full-time entertainment just watching them nip at Mike’s heels and piddle on the fire hydrants when he’s around.

Mike has a point of view.

It’s true.  Mike always expresses an opinion on matters covered in his stories.  He is both a commentator and activist in a new genre of what Al Giordano of Narco News calls “authentic journalism.”  This is another reason why I am a subscriber.  A point of view is worth a heap of analytical power.  Mike’s job as “info-cop” is not to have an objective point of view.*  His job is make sure we are safe by sharing the information we need.  The only potential risk we can price adjust for, or dismiss is the risk of which we are aware.  If that kind of journalism comes with a vision and a perspective from the writer, I want that too.

Mike is “in your face.”

Mike is not shy.  You disagree?  You have a problem?  You got a question?  You can take it to Mike, have it out with Mike, and speak your mind with Mike.  Mike will say it to your face loud and clear.  You can do the same.  The only thing you can’t do is get him to agree with you when he does not.  Mike’s temper is big – but not has big as his heart.

Mike’s courage and intelligence can save not just your time and your money, but your life.
This one’s true, too.  I’m a case in point.


So am I, as I am sure so many others can say now that have read Rubicon since and seen Mike’s appearance in the movie Collapse.  It moved me to write, make changes and take time away from a lot of things in my life to confront these crises – there are many.  After the BP disaster is when I found Mike’s work and I came to realize the stark truth about peak oil.  I spent six months alone in a hotel room, writing and integrating this information in hopes of finding some way that I could share it, as well as focus on solutions.  It was a long, dark, rabbit hole of wrangling with my own cognitive dissonance [and personal consumption habits].

* As for the observation about Mike’s job as “info-cop” not having an objective point of view, I was reminded of a quote from Hunter S. Thompson [I love my writers with moxy, if you can’t tell…] and I have often thought of Mike as my “Gonzo-Intel” – because he is not afraid to tell it like it is.  The quote : “So much for Objective Journalism.  Don’t bother to look for it here – not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of.  With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism.  The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.” – Hunter S. Thompson

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Michael Ruppert at his home during the #Occupy Fear and Loathing Media Tour in December.  There is more video footage of my interview with him on the way – but I wanted to convey to you, in the best way I knew how – how important this man’s work has been and continues to be, not just to me personally.  I think it’s imperative for us all and why I am proud to make my site a Collapsenet affiliate.  I thank Mike for granting permission to use excerpts from Rubicon to convey this message to my readers.

Now, as I put on my Gonzo hat, I share with you an edited quote from Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction for good measure : “If I’m curt with you it’s because time is a factor.  I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this.  So, pretty please…with sugar on top. Buy a fucking membership.”

Collapse is happening so quickly now that I don’t have time to keep up with the signs – Mike and his team can and I trust them.  I am making my own preparations and hope you do too.

Here is Mike’s most recent interview on The Joe Rogan Experience

[Special thanks to Max Mogran at Oil Free Fun.]

This chart appeared in Crossing the Rubicon in 2004 but was originally published in a book
called, The Oil Crash and You, by Richard Duncan…in 2001.

Media Culture 10 Years Later / How Much Will It Cost To Buy You Out?

by Gabrielle Price
(Originally published 9/11/2005 | updated, 9/10/2011)

“The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what’s coming now. The party’s over, folks… [Censorship of the news] is a given in wartime, along with massive campaigns of deliberately-planted “Dis-information”. That is routine behavior in Wartime – for all countries and all combatants – and it makes life difficult for people who value real news.“ ~ Hunter S. Thompson / “When War Drums Roll” 2001

The date that lives in everyone’s memory and the beginning of a road traveled by many.  Some have seen the signs, taken the detours and some are still blindly on this road.  I traveled down it entirely too long.

I do not wish to take away from the tragedy of that day, or forget those who lost so much (and made me realize what I had).  I also do not wish to turn this into a 9/11 Truth discussion.  There are many things that happened that do not make much sense to me and an independent investigation is warranted, in my opinion.  But this isn’t what this post is about.  This is about buying into the fear that was sold at every turn by an administration and the media after this tragic day.

This was a life altering event…an event that brought out the best of us as citizens; the best in people all over the globe when we were experiencing the unimaginable.  What is more unimaginable to me is how people have behaved toward each other since; as if that day never occurred.  There is a time to grieve and move on, yes.  For the families, it is their time to remember in their own way, heal in their own time.  I don’t think there is any harm in having public ceremonies but I’m not sure that they need national coverage now.  I think we should all remember in our own way.  It is as much part of your history as this country’s history as it is etched in the history of humanity.  Like asking your parents or grandparents where they were the day Kennedy was shot…it changed things for them.  It changed a nation.  This day is the same, on a global stage…and the history books may not tell the story the way you will ultimately remember it.  (At least, American history books…)

My story begins with a trip in the way-back machine.  Many events had occurred in my life before that historic Tuesday morning and in many ways, were still unfolding in small increments.  Each day was a new challenge and I was trying my best to believe that each day was a gift.  Many of life’s changes are painful – when you’re in them, they can seem excruciating.  You can’t stop them from coming – but the pain eventually is forgotten and the lessons learned are carried forward into the next inevitable change.

It is the only constant – so you learn to realize you have two choices.  Crawl in a hole and quit or stand up and meet them.  [Often, the biggest challenge is to meet them gracefully.]

My best and dearest friend passed away in 1997 from suicide and dealing with that in itself took its toll over subsequent years, especially with life changes to come.  The betrayal of a husband, once a friend who then became a stranger to me and others who knew him.  This separation directly effected my plan to take care of my grandmother and I had to move out of her house…in so doing, losing the opportunity to buy the house (the family home), the house she wished us to have.  I could not have accomplished this purchase on my own, so I had to leave that dream behind.  This broke my heart more than the spouse ever did.  My grandmother passed soon after I moved out on my own…starting again as a single mom at 33.

Needless to say, I had a lot on my plate and it was a challenge to keep ahead of the curve and keep sanity at the same time.  Friends helped as much as they could; family as well.  Still, when you are dealing with so much, you tend to lay low and lick your wounds to recoup for another day…or for the next chapter of your life to begin.  Without my best friend and my significant other lost to me, recouping was a daunting task.  I cried many tears on many nights…

Initially, living on my own with my daughter was doable on my ‘part time/close to full time as you can get’ hours at a nonprofit.  We didn’t spend a lot on frivolities but we managed to entertain ourselves on a budget.  There was always food on the table and bills were met every month, for a time.  We had our reading nights, video game nights and my piecemeal PC, as nickel and dime as it was, kept us entertained.  And of course, ultimately, we had each other.  Television consisted of maybe 5 channels, the bunny ears leaving arched scratches on the walls for the span of our 6 year stay there.  It offered very few choices.

No high speed internet (remember dial-up? *shudder*) and no cable.  It took me a few years to break down and get a DVD player because I dragged heels on paying to repurchase on DVD, movies that I already owned on VHS.  The only other toy in our sanctuary was my first digital camera and scanner, a gift from my parents for my birthday – which rekindled my affair with photography.  Back then, it nourished my soul when it was most needed…and it gave me a voice I’d forgotten I had.

Time passed slowly and wounds healed at the same pace.  I found that I had opportunities to travel after a year of saving a little aside and I gave myself permission to go to places that I’d always wanted to see.  I went to DC for the first time in the summer of 2001…

I can’t tell you how inspired I was to be in such a place.  I was spellbound by the history seeping out of the buildings and parks on the mall to the alleys of Georgetown.  I was overwhelmed when I visited the Library of Congress and fell in love at the National Gallery.  So much so that I spent two of my four days within its walls.

I was drunk and dizzy with visions of Monet and Rembrandt.  I was stunned to be allowed so close to these works, as much as a nose length away so that I could see the brushstrokes.  Every room I went into, I saw another painting that I had only known from a photo in a book.  Monet’s Lilies, big as life in front of me and I was awestruck.  Out another passage and down the hall and there she was…

‘Flaming June’ Frederic Leighton c.1895 Oil on canvas

Flaming June, one of my favorite paintings by Frederic Leighton.  She was visiting the National Gallery at the same time.  You literally could have mopped me off the floor…I couldn’t stop the tears welling up, I was so moved.  A female security guard walking past me asked, “Your first time here?”  All I could do was smile and nod.

When I returned home from that trip, I was different.  I felt renewed, inspired and humbled.  It was a giant exhalation and release of old for new.  I had taken over 300 pictures in 4 days and I found myself researching DC every time I was online.  I knew I would go back and didn’t want to wait too long to return.  I also found myself watching more news.  I was an ‘election result’ junkie before then and watched the nightly news on a regular basis.  I enjoyed catching glimpses of the monuments and the lights on the reflecting pool.  In my mind, this place belonged to me, just as it belongs to all of us.  Perhaps that sounds naive and in hindsight, I know there was a level of innocence there.  Not all of that has been lost…it’s just different.

Never turn your back on fear.  It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson

I remember September 11th, 2001, a Tuesday morning; like it was yesterday.

I was off work and my then boyfriend had stayed over.  We were having coffee and doing the crossword while watching the Today show.  Early reports about the first plane; possible pilot heart attack, small aircraft…all speculative.  I returned from the kitchen after starting another pot of coffee and saw the second plane hit.  Matt Lauer spoke what was in my thought bubble, “That was intentional.”

I forgot everything in that moment.  I forgot the coffee, the crossword, the bills, the plans I’d made that day.  I was hardly aware that my boyfriend was sitting next to me.  I forgot that I was pissed off about not getting my ‘child tax credit’, I forgot that I was angry that Bush was elected.  I forgot everything unimportant in the moments following when I witnessed the horror of the first tower falling.  What I did remember was everything that was most important to me…and I remember sobbing uncontrollably.

After I regained composure, I called my daughter’s school to find out what was happening there.  She was the only person on the planet that I wanted to see and to be with in that moment.  The school was on lock down and they were waiting to see what plan, if any, would be put in action to get the students home.  I was not able to pick her up and I was imagining the panic of the other parents at home, and at work, wondering the same thing.  I called as many people as I could think to call, just to hear their voices and know they were okay.  I didn’t leave the television or that front room for the majority of that day.  (It is quite possible that I didn’t leave the apartment much that week unless it was for work or necessity.)

That day, I told my boyfriend I loved him.  It came out naturally.  It did not occur to me that anything I said that day would be considered inappropriate…it just mattered to me that he knew.  It didn’t matter whether he said it in return or not, I wanted to say what I felt because for the second time in my life, since my best friend had passed, I realized with a jolt – life really is too fucking short not to say what you feel.

It is hard for me to look back on that day now without being angry.  I have to admit a thought that entered my mind then, that if anyone should be in charge of this country at this moment in time, I was glad it was George W.  I remember thinking, naively, he would take care of who did this…he would take care of business.  Little did I know at the time – that was all he would take care of.  In the year following this tragedy, more stories unfolded about the people who lost their lives, the people who saved lives and those who survived.  Unfortunately, there were other ‘stories’ that I bought into…a lot of us did.

I wasted precious time in my life being afraid because I bought the fear the government was selling and the media was distributing.  I was vulnerable before that day…and after being gripped by tragedy beyond my own…I again became vulnerable to the machine of fear.

A machine that was just ramping up and getting started…its sights set on bulldozing ideas and reason.


10 years later.  I thought I would see a day where I would no longer be haunted by that fear.  It has morphed into an urgency – one that can only be managed by writing and sharing information.  My concerns now are not what they tell us we should be concerned about, but the things they do not tell us and should.  What has been seen cannot be unseen.

I don’t recognize my country anymore than I used to recognize journalism and hold it in high regard.  Perhaps it was naive to think I recognized either.  Over these 10 years, I have coveted Hunter S. Thompson’s work and have been told on more than one occasion that my style of political writing was comparable.  Which humbles (and tickles) me because his humor was a powerful salve throughout the Bush years…and still is today.

I often wonder what Hunter S. Thompson would have to say if he were with us but I’ve come to understand why he is not here.  In my mind, he did not die a coward’s death – he bravely gave us his best during the worst moments in political history this country had ever witnessed.

Worst until now.

It was better to see Doc go out like a samurai rather than die of a broken heart.  But there is a part of me that imagined him taking some of the greedheads along in a final blaze of inebriated glory.  Then again, those who know his work (on both sides of the political aisle) know that he had more class than that – even at his worst, he was better than politics and journalism now touts as it’s best.

“Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.” – Hunter S. Thompson

The Doc was right.  But after ten years, that’s about the only tide I’m beginning to see turn for the better.  The ship of professional journalism is being scuttled alongside the Titanic failure of government.  For many witnessing it, there’s nothing left but to build grassroots media and political movements or sink quietly into the watery grave of fascism.

In honor of the good Colonel Thompson, I say let’s build and man the lifeboats…with Jolly Rogers flying…and let the good times roll.

Tell the establishment to keep their ‘change’.

BE the change.