Thursday, September 9, 2004

"Conventional Migraine" (Column)

Sometimes it really does go this wrong. I put this one in, because it has one of my favorite lines of all time - the Triumph of the Will one. It's also here because I wanted to admit that sometimes - by my own damn fault - that I'm caught flat-footed and have to fake it. (As my buddy Tony would say, "I'm dancing as fast as I can!") The editors at Planet accompanied this piece with my favorite picture of all time: Gov. Schwarzenegger, with the cutline: "Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women." I nearly wept with joy when I saw it in print.

By the way, "the Beast" is my doberman/beagle, Adam, who has become one of my best friends over the years.

Well, damn. Deadline is upon me and I have nothing to write about. To be truthful, I do have something to write about, and that’s the problem. I actually had to get John Hicks, our fearless leader, to let me switch weeks this week so I could write about the Republican National Convention. I had every intention of writing a fair-and-balanced piece to go along with my previous DNC one. However, as luck would have it, that ain’t gonna happen.

First of all, there was ArtMix. Now simply put, I’d rather hang out with the folks who want to spend a Thursday night together enjoying the bounties of our dear arts community than sit at the TV and listen to The Great Pretender tell us why he’s the better choice for the job. So I thought, I’ll just tape it and watch it when I get home. Well, due to circumstances like The Beast attempting to eat the VCR that night and me being too stupid to 1) rewind the tape all the way and 2) notice that I had reset the damn thing from its 6-hour setting to its 2-hour setting, I unfortunately got about the first 15 minutes of the speech, and no mas. All of which allowed me to see pretty much nothing of interest, except for the delegates’ clear desire to stand and applaud even the most dynamic words, like “and” and “of.”

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

David Cobb Interview (2004 Green Party Presidential Candidate)

If I'm being honest, this is probably my favorite interview of all time. One day I was off and got a phone call from Carey Miller, our editor-in-chief. He asked if I wanted to interview David Cobb, the Green candidate. I said I would. He asked if I could do it an hour and a half. I agreed to do it, did a fast bit of research and met Carey, Mr. Cobb, and Mr. Fleitas at a tiny old cafe on Farish Street in downtown Jackson. Planet Weekly had long given space to candidates of the smaller parties, and we had a longstanding relationship with the state's Greens. As such, I was lucky to already have a good background of Green politics and Mr. Cobb proved to be a very knowledgeable interviewee. I didn't go easy on him, which prompted an off-record interruption in the middle to ask how many words we were going to use. I told them we were going to do 1500 words in print and 2500 online (our issue was already planned - and this was a bonus we had to squeeze in there). When we were finished, Mr. Cobb thanked us and said he was used to getting a thorough interview in New England, or Washington State, or California, but not anyplace like Mississippi. I won't lie and say I voted for the man; in fact, I told him I wasn't going to. But I will say I understood him and think the world of him.

David Cobb is the Green Party candidate for President of the United States this year. Unlike four years ago, when Ralph Nader ran, Cobb’s candidacy has been below the radar, relying on the Greens’ own grassroots efforts and many stops around the country to get out his name. Cobb, a Houston native, knows he has no viable chance to win, but he stands tall in his belief that, though other parties might stop on November 2, he will continue to campaign – not so much for the possession of a single, vital office, but for increased numbers of extremely valuable members across the country.

On Monday, October 11, when Cobb was in town to speak at Millsaps College and Jackson State, Planet Weekly was invited to sit down and interview the candidate. Mississippi gubernatorial candidate Sherman Lee Dillon said the offer was made because Planet Weekly was the only newspaper “to give a fair shake” to the other parties.

"A Random Bit of Twaddle, Geeks, and Frank Melton and the Maytals" (Column)

Every now and then, I'd run a column of just random thoughts and wanderings. This one was one of my favorites, because it wasn't really that at all. It was more an illustration of my frustration with the election and my inability to do anything about it. I also included it, because it had an in-column follow up to "Geek Flag Ideologies" that I liked.

When it occurred to me that this column was going to run in our ‘election’ issue – regardless of the fact that Frank Melton has already been anointed emperor by some of our local TV stations; thank God the print media still believes in waiting until after the election to do so – I thought I’d write about why I thought one candidate was better than the other.

Oddly enough, the editors insisted that they wouldn’t print half a page of white space.

Honestly, the problem is that I just don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever not known whom I would vote for this close to an election. This is a problem for me, since it’s in my nature to talk, and write about it.

A week ago, I didn’t know. Four days ago, I decided to switch sides and cast my lot with Rick Whitlow. Two days ago, I’d given up and decided to insist on a paper ballot at the polls, just so I could write in “Incumbent Mayor Harvey Johnson.” Now, I’m back to not knowing. (Really, it goes without saying that I shan’t cast a vote for Frank Melton.)

I don’t believe either Melton or Whitlow are qualified for this type of office. I don’t believe that either has the ability to lead a city of this size. I do believe that Rick Whitlow is forthright, honest, and genuinely believes in what he is doing. He has a base of supporters that believe he is truly the right man for the job and they may be right; I just don’t know.

"Pronounced Cha-Ne" -- Yall Magazine

When I was living in Portland, Maine, I even saw some of his stickers there and wondered about them. I hope he'll break big someday. This was my first piece for Yall, when they said they wanted to write about interesting Southern people, without it looking like a Southern People magazine.

Across the South, the name Chane is becoming known. On the backs of car windows, in places of honor normally reserved for Oakley stickers, more often you will see an oval sticker emblazoned with the word, “Chane.”

Beside the ubiquitous oval logo, you might also see a black “SomÃ¥” or a sticker with “Swell Sk8” on it. These are all labels attached to Chane, a unique man from Jackson, Mississippi. Chane is sometimes incorrectly called a fashion designer. He prefers the term “lifestyle designer.”

“If I feel like I can be creative with it, I’m going to design it,” he says. So far, he has been creative with clothing, skateboards, furnishings, and furniture. He is a one-man industry in Jackson, with four different stores in the arts neighborhood of Fondren: Swell, Etheria, SomÃ¥, and Studio Chane. In September, he is planning to open a fifth store in the same neighborhood, Dwello @mosphere. This might be his most audacious idea yet. Dwello @mosphere will be a showroom in a loft, a place where customers can browse and see the furniture in use. Chane is making this possible by making the store his home.

“I could have the perfect scenario. You know, the most crisp, clean designed museum to live in, where I’d never get tired of my surroundings, because it’s constantly being sold.” To him, this is not just thinking outside the box. He refuses to get inside the box in the first place.