Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Hate The War

Tonight's Free Speech Radio News featured a report on the latest Winter Soldier by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Click here for the segment.

Manuel Rueda: At home Iraq Veterans Against the War, a grassroots organization of vets opposed to US wars, continues to organize Winter Soldier hearings across the country. It´s a venue where veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan can tell stories from their war days, in a venue where veterans can tell stories from their war days in an environment that's safe and supportive. Leo Paz reports from Los Angeles.

Leo Paz: Ryan Endicott is a former Marine Corporal who did multiple tours in Iraq and returned to the US in 2006. He talked about what it's like for US marines to enforce martial law in a foreign country.

Ryan Endicott: Young boys 18 to 22 are having martial law over a group of people. It's complete oppression and it actually borders on the line of terrorism. I mean you strap dead bodies to your Humvee and drive around a city with it, that's terrorism. That's scaring a group of people into your beliefs -- into your belief system and structure and that's exactly what we're doing, we're terrorizing them.

Leo Paz: Corporal Endicott who was in Ar Ramadi Iraq says these were not isolated incidents but daily occurrences.

Ryan Endicott: Every single day, every time you kick in a door and drag a man out of his bed in the middle of the night, that's terrorism. That's not -- we're not saving people that's not liberation. You don't liberate people by -- by kicking in their doors in and arresting people by mass numbers by shooting them that's not liberation, that's occupation.

Leo Paz: Some of the soldiers recalled the harsh treatment of Iraqi civilians stopped at the numerous checkpoints installed by the US throughout the country. Former Marine Corporal Christopher Gallagher compared the checkpoints in Haditha and Falluja to herding cattle.

Christopher Gallagher: If any Iraqis voiced their opinion for the way they were being treated the Iraqi police -- we had a checkpoint -- would handle the situation by harassing and assaulting them.

Leo Paz: According to Gallagher when the US military went door to door in the middle of the night, raiding homes to eliminate any resistance to the occupation, Iraqis held massive protests. Gallagher described the typical US response to this protest.

Christopher Gallagher: In 2004 the Iraqis would hold protests in the town of Haditha against the occupation typical response for this was to have fighter jets fly over the crowd and scare them away.

Leo Paz: Corporal Endicott questioned the sanitized version of war portrayed in mainstream American media.

Ryan Endicott: What should be on the media is the thousands of doors that are kicked in every day and the thousands of people that are terrorized by the US soldiers that are pumped up on adrenaline and just looking to kill people. I mean there's plenty of people that joined the military just to kill people.

Leo Paz: Endicott is one of many vets who denounced the indiscriminate shooting of civilians by US military. Devon Read a former Marine infantry Sgt who took part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 saw comrades anxious to fire at whatever came in their path. He told people at winter soldier about driving through Nazaria, speeding on the way to Baghdad, on the back of a Humvee and Marines in his unit shooting randomly at people in houses.

Devon Read: You know, none of the grunts that wanted to shoot people really cared about that. If it was an opportunity to shoot someone, they'd be shooting. So there's two of us on my side of the vehicle and three guys on the other side of the vehicle and we're facing outboard and suddenly the guys on the other side of the vehicle start shooting and I'm curious what the heck they're shooting at but I can't really look because I'm paying attention to my side and the other guy that's with me decides to switch sides, switches over to the other side and starts shooting also. And I finally take a moment to look and I'm looking and they're all just shooting wildly.

Leo Paz: Sgt. Reed was appalled by the random gunfire and wondered how many civilians had been shot by US troops that day.

Devon Read: There's, you know, people in windows way off in the distance, who really knows? Plenty of civilians with their -- poking their heads out of the window but its just someone to shoot at and there's shooting going on so no one's going to ask any questions if they start pulling the trigger too. So everyone starts shooting randomly and I talk to everyone after and none of them had any idea what they were shooting at or why.

Leo Paz: Many Vietnam war vets showed up to support the IVAW and the Iraq veterans in denouncing war and violence. Ed Garza an army gunner with the 173rd airborne Brigade still has nightmares forty years after the war.

Ed Garza: I remember the dead bodies and I remember seeing them and I remember we used to kill the Vietnamese and we'd put our patch on them To remind the other Vietnamese in the area that uh that we were there, the 173rd airborne. So those are some of the things I remember.

Leo Paz: According to a study conducted by Iraqi doctors, and published in a British medical journal, Iraqi dead are in the hundreds of thousands since the US invasion in 2003, Afghan civilians are estimated at more than 10,000 dead. Now into the 8th year of the war, more than 5,000 soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan according to the US military. Leo Paz, FSRN.

Information on an earlier Winter Solider -- also featuring Ryan Endicott, Devon Read and Christopher Gallagher -- can be found here.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4314. Tonight? 4314. The number remained the same. Nine soldiers were injured in two Baghdad roadside bombings.


I knew Farrah Fawcett and she passed away today. She pops up here as a "a friend" many times. Most often with the story about the back of her hair. She never brushed the back of her hair. Her attitude was she couldn't see it. It was a running joke between her and her mother (Pauline Fawcett) for many, many years.

I'm not expecting to recognize the person I knew in the write ups because it never happens that way. But what's bothering me, what's had me screaming on the phone with friends all night, isn't the observations or memories. It's reporters who don't know her beyond what they saw on a screen and they think they can just write anything. An idiot for the Los Angeles Times wants to inform the world that Farrah got to do Extremities (play and movie) because of the acclaim she received for the TV movie The Burning Bed.



Because Farrah did the off Broadway play before, repeating BEFORE, she did The Burning Bed.

She's wonderful in the Burning Bed and I'm not taking anything away from that amazing performance but another false thread is that the film was her first 'serious' role. The one that caused critics rethink Farrah was the mini-series A Murder in Texas. She was only on the first half (the first night was broadcast on a Sunday). She's the murder in the title. She gets to deliver lines about the toast getting a little stale (when told she's the toast of the town). And she did an amazing job. But if you asked her, she would tell you all she did differently was pull her hair back into a pony tail.

And in fairness, she's telling the truth. She created a character, no question. But she always created a character and she was a lot more talented as an actress than she was ever given credit for in the 70s.

Farrah was slammed by the king of all sexist pigs (Tom Shales) at the Washington Post for Charlie's Angels. (Ava and I noted that when we reviewed Charlie's Angels.) He slammed the whole show as he does with all shows starring women and you'd think after decades and decades of doing exactly that, you'd think he'd be called out for his b.s. But it never happens. Never.

What Tommy and other fools didn't grasp was that Jill wasn't Farrah.

Farrah could play Jill anytime she wanted but she rarely wanted to after she left Charlie's Angels. She created a character -- all the original cast members did -- and did so with no help from the writers. In fact, the writers shouldn't be quoted in any article on Farrah. The writers didn't even know which character was which and used to brag about how they'd call their wives and ask, "Which one's Jill?" These aren't one-script writers, we're talking about writers who logged twenty and thirty episodes over the course of the show. They didn't care and, guess what, they were men.

They wrote sexist and demeaning roles for women and Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith elevated those cheesy, rotten scripts into something that had Americans glued to their TV sets.

There's a lie that still floats around which says "jiggle TV" was why Charlie's Angels was a hit. LIE. There were a lot of "jiggle TV" shows after Charlie's Angels first hit. Barbi Benton starred in one, American Girls was another. Those shows didn't last. They didn't have three strong actresses.

Jill was based, by Farrah (the writers had no basis for Jill), on the commercials she did. Jill was an extreme example of that. Very eager to please and win you over. That was Jill. First season. Farrah refused to play Jill that way again when forced to return for two seasons of guest spots (seasons three and four). Jill snuck in a little on her own in one episode because it revolved around a child and there was a reason for the character to be reassuring (and strong).

But Jill was a character. And Farrah created her. And got slammed for playing a character that critics confused with the actress.

Farrah left Charlie's Angels and the story told in the press isn't the story I heard from her, from Lee Majors (her husband at the time) and from Jay Bernstein (her then-manager). Farrah walked because they weren't honoring something they'd agreed to. She would be home every evening. No all-night shoots. They didn't honor that. They didn't honor and she never signed her contract.

This was not a walk out for more money (though they all should have done that including David Doyle), this was not a I-want-to-be-first-billed. This was, "You're not honoring my contract and, in fact, I never signed it." Farrah was in the right and if the lawsuit took place today she'd win. ABC was a lot more powerful back then.

They were powerful enough to destroy her first starring film role: Foul Play. It was supposed to be Farrah and Chevy Chase. ABC threatened lawsuit. Paramount told Farrah, don't worry, we're standing by you. And they were already making Goldie jump through hoops (as Farrah quickly found out). (Goldie jump through hoops? Despite being one of the few women to make the box office top ten in the seventies, Goldie had to be 'seen' because she'd given birth and they wanted to be sure they weren't getting a 'fatty.' I use that word because that was insulting and that's the way it worked back then. Goldie was box office but she still got treated like a piece of meat.)

Farrah ended up doing Somebody Killed Her Husband instead. It was a nightmare and largely because the print was far too dark and people had a hard enough time following the plot. Farrah and Jeff Bridges did have strong chemistry but that got ignored and the reviews were along the lines of "Somebody Killed Her Career."

That's important because liars like Mary McNamara at the Los Angeles Times don't seem to grasp any of that. Sunburn was a caper film that wasn't a bomb but wasn't a box office hit. Saturn 3 was considered a modest hit for it's genre (sci-fi) and made a lot more money on home video (it contains partial nudity). And that could have been it, it could have all been over for Farrah. Certainly a number of crowing critics thought so.

It's amazing to read the nonsense, the fact-free nonsense being published by 'news' outlets and grasp that no one bothers to fact check, no one gives a damn what they publish as long as they publish something.

Farrah Fawcett found success in Florida. That's not noted. She had to pay bills so I personally didn't believe her when she spoke of quitting acting after her three S-films failed to produce a box office hit. But she apparently was serious. And Burt Reynolds suggested she do a play. So she went to Florida and did Butterflies Are Free. And was amazed at the reception.

The character was close enough to her own Jill that she could use some of that in the play but she also had a ruthless side and Farrah enjoyed the audience reaction throughout but especially the tension when she's decided to go off with an old boyfriend and the character (also named Jill) isn't likable and she could feel it and she could sense the relief when Jill almost walks out but stops. It recharged her, it convinced her that she could continue acting and should.

This part of the story's important because the critics were vicious to Farrah, eager to bury her, and only her talent saved her. And that's among the details not being included.

With Burt, she had her own solid, mass appeal box office hit at the movies, Cannonball Run. That was important for her continued employment; however, Burt convincing her to go onstage is why she continued her career. Butterflies Are Free was a very big deal to her. (And she got strong reviews for it.)

If she hadn't done Butterflies Are Free, she wouldn't have done Extremities off-Broadway. That did not change things for her on the West Coast with nervous suits convinced that she had no appeal to viewers and didn't Charlie's Angels get cancelled? And The Burning Bed didn't convince them either because it followed the TV movie that actually changed things for her -- the one where she teamed up with Beau Bridges: The Red-Light Sting.

The Red-Light Sting was more of a caper. It did land her on the cover of TV Guide for an article she hated (the jabs at Ryan by the writer) and that she liked (for being brutally honest about her career). She talked about what it means to only have one card up your sleeve and how you have to be very careful about how you play it. The Red-Light Sting thrilled the network and put her back on the map because it proved Farrah could deliver ratings.

She was employable for TV. The suits no longer had to worry. And when The Burning Bed aired even most of her doubters were silenced. What followed were some of the strongest roles any actress tackled during that period. Between Two Women is my own personal favorite of all of her tele-films. She made brave choices.

It's so easy for a little know-nothing writing for the Los Angeles Times to mock Farrah. It's so easy because the stupid idiot doesn't know what the hell she's writing about while pretending to be writing about Farrah's career. Or about Farrah. Mary frets over whether or not Farrah was a feminist.

Farrah addressed that issue in private and in public and it's a real shame that a writer for the Los Angeles Times, choosing to write about Farrah, can't go through the clip-file. Yes, Farrah was a feminist. And like many women of that time, she was one because of her own experiences. That included being seen as an airhead or not smart (when she was very smart, one of the smartest women working in TV). That included falling for a man and still liking him but realizing you couldn't share a life because the be-all, end-all for you wasn't going to be waiting for him to come home. (I'm not insulting Lee. He loved Farrah and she loved him. But they wanted different things and they didn't realize that until well into their marriage.) Farrah loved Ryan from the minute Lee asked him to keep an eye on her. (That's not to suggest that they did anything then. I'm merely noting it was an instant attraction for Farrah, who'd already known her marriage was ending. Ryan's always stated it was instant attraction for him as well.) And despite the fact that Farrah, Ryan and Lee have spoken of this publicly, the writers have a problem figuring out when and how Farrah and Ryan got together.

Farrah was an artist and she was a visual artist. Long before the 90s, she was a visual artist. I've been amazed looking at the so-so photographs being run that no one's bothered to reprint her favorite session. She did it for People and they ran it (cover story) right before Murder In Texas. It was a night shoot and she loved what was done with the space. It wasn't about "I look good!" She always looked good. (And she looks good in the crap photos they've run today although the bulk of them, even with "AP" stamped on them, are nothing but stills from Charlie's Angeles, largely from the "Angels In Chains" episode.)

Farrah also co-created the Farrah. She didn't sit in a chair and say, "Cut it any way you want!" She had a strong idea of what she wanted and she and Allen Edwards worked it out together. Not Jose. I have no idea why Jose's once again attempting to claim credit. I know why Barbara Walters let him, he frequently does Barbara's hair for her big interviews. (Such as when she interviewed Kate Hepburn who decided if he was going to fuss around Barbara's hair, he should take a look at her own.) What Jose did was the blunt bangs. You can see that on some of the first year episodes of Charlie's Angels. That's not the Farrah.

No one considered that the Farrah in real time. Jane Fonda, winning the Oscar for Coming Home (her second Best Actress Oscar) wore a wig that she referred to as "the Farrah." That's the hairstyle that Farrah and Allen created.

Another lie is that Farrah went on Charlie's Angels and then did a poster. The poster was huge long before she ever filmed her first scene as Jill. If we are talking about her red bathing suit poster. Because apparently reporters don't feel they need to explain that Farrah had several multi-million selling posters. She always made fun of LA Farrah and couldn't understand why anyone would spend money on that. (It's the poster where she's on all fours.)

Back to Ryan and Farrah. I'm not planning on telling any secrets here but to return to the point about feminism. Farrah loved Ryan from the beginning. She turned down the marriage proposals so many times because she feared being stuck in a role, the way her first marriage ended up, the way it ended. She was an independent woman (and Ryan loved that about her) and yes, she was a feminist. And more importantly, she was a strong woman who was supportive and encouraging of other women.

Farrah loved being happy and she was happiest when others got good news. She was one of the most positive and life affirming people. And she could still go toe-to-toe with the suits, even the ones who tried to destroy her in the seventies. And that same strength would pop up if she found out someone screwed you over. When even you didn't believe in you, she did. We could talk about that, we could talk about her love of (addiction to) saunas, and other things. But the reality is the public Farrah was an artist and, in the all the write ups, that seems to be repeatedly lost. Some men are writing from their hormones and some women are writing from jealousy. I see damn little actual reporting taking place.

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