Corporate fraud, scams, stealing and corruption are simply symptoms of a
system gone mad.
Fueled by greed, motivated by increasing the “bottom line“ at ANY cost,
and “unhindered“ by social or environmental responsibility, is it any wonder
that corporations have gone amok?
These are the crooks, who buy the politicians, who write the laws, which
steal billions of our tax dollars in the form of corporate welfare.
Welfare given to the poor is a drop in the bucket compared to what is
shelled out to these rich, seedy crooks and their corporations!
Time to get these greedy scumbags off the tax dollar gravy train and
enact strong campaign finance reform to put an end to this “good ol‘ boy“
network, which is sucking the lifeblood from working people, their children,
future generations... and the earth itself.
Time to strip corporations of their power. Time to demand reform and
accountability. Time to take back our democracy... don‘t you think?
Virginia Heick via email
The Rainbow People
I was glad to read Bob VanderLewns letter about the Rainbow Gathering
in the July 11-17 issue of the Express. I didn‘t know the Forest Service was
sending out letters of disinformation as far as Manistee!
This year‘s national gathering took place in the western UP‘s Ottawa
National Forest near the town of Watersmeet. The peak of activity was the
week of July 4, and it is pretty much over now except for maybe 100 people
doing cleanup, recycling and restoration. Based on vehicle counts, I think
about 12,000 attended.
I went for five days starting July 4. I haven‘t been to a gathering in a
few years, and it was nice to see people, to be outside, and to experience
the communal, non-commercial atmosphere.
The area where many of the free kitchens first set up was declared closed
by the Forest Service on June 23. The site, now a meadow, was the location
of the logging town of Choate for a few decades around 1900, and the Forest
Service said it was archeologically sensitive. Kitchens moved to the woods
across the river, but the Choate site was the only spot big enough for
everyone to gather at the prayer circle. (One kitchen wouldn‘t move and
there were 15 misdemeanor arrests).
On July 4, around 10,000 people crossed the pioneer bridge over the river
and prayed together for world peace and healing. Forest Service and other
police showed up on horses and ATVs but did not intervene. A rainbow formed
around the sun.
If our archeological heritage had really been in danger, gatherers would
have arranged to pray somewhere else. What really was threatened by the July
4th assembly, however, is the belief held by some in the Forest Service and
the federal government that they can obstruct and deter people from
exercising their right of peaceful free assembly. Bureaucratic regulations
passed in 1997 require that groups of more than 74 must have a permit to
gather in a National Forest. The permit conditions are onerous (the Forest
Service proposed a site on a clearcut with no running water this year), and
besides that, Rainbow operates by consensus and without leaders, so no one
is authorized to sign a permit. Three people are currently serving three
months in federal prison for gathering without a permit at the 1999 National
“We‘re for peace in a time of war and that‘s unpopular,“ one gatherer
explained. Others believe that the Forest Service wants to stop Rainbow
Gatherings because they fly in the face of a new push to charge money for
recreational use of National Forests.
As VanderLewn said, Rainbow Gatherings are not a problem for nearby
communities. Many Watersmeet businesses had signs that read, “Rainbows
Welcome.“ Gatherers have a good record of cleaning up and restoring impacted
Yes there are houseless people, poor people, travelers and street kids
there, along with students, doctors, teachers, laborers, business people,
families and locals. They won‘t hurt you but they will share good free
meals, music and culture with you. Next year‘s National will be in Utah,
Nevada or California. There is a Regional Gathering in Indiana this fall.
Edmund Frost via email
Long hair and men
Three Bronx cheers to Robert Downes and his enlightened editorial titled
“Letting my freak flag fly.“ Rarely does one encounter a media person these
days with the type of insight shown in that piece. Perhaps I am in such
strong agreement because I happen to wear hair which is a little longer than
is popular these days. I must also admit to the practice of coloring it a
bit to get rid of the gray. The insults and the rejections I have
encountered the past two years in particular for my predeliction for longer
hair says more about the intolerant society I live in than it does about my
preferences in personal grooming.
One might think this whole topic is trivial but really it isn‘t. The
choice of hairstyle and color does make an important cultural and even
political statement. Usually the “buzz cuts“ so popular these days are a
statement of conformity, of a desire to show intolerance towards those who
are different, and probably of a repressed fascism or militarism. After all,
none of the Nazis wore long hair. The Hitler Youth all had the same type of
haircut popular these days among many.
The cultural and political landscape these past five years has been and
is remarkably conservative, Republican, elitist, and affluent. While the
feminist movement made great strides throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, and early
‘90s against sexual stereotypes, such cultural straitjackets have returned
in abundance. The causes of this are varied but perhaps they stem from the
pseudo prosperity that most Americans believe themselves to be experiencing.
Add to this the post September 11 patriotic fervor (bordering on obsession
and authoritarianism) and the crew cut indeed represents the dominant
cultural theme of the day.
Yet I am glad to read that longer hair among men is making a comeback of
sorts. Longer hair has always represented a more enlightened and tolerant
view towards one‘s fellow man. I have always felt that longer hair made one
look younger. Many have said that shorter hair makes a guy look younger, but
not on all. Whenever I let my hair grow a little longer I actually get
“carded“ upon entering bars, this despite the fact that I just turned 45.
Certainly my ego is gratified on such occasions, but I simply prefer longer
hair even if a younger look isn‘t always the result.
Longer hair, if it is properly groomed, and yes even trimmed on occasion
represents the epitome of style. That‘s just my opinion and I will be
tolerant of those who disagree. However it has been my experience that those
with the crew cuts are remarkably intolerant of those of a different
One should not confuse longer hair with any type of sexual identity
crisis. Actually it‘s quite the opposite. Many men who are insecure about
their own masculinity or who are afraid to explore their feminine side are
the ones demanding crew cuts not only for themselves but for other men as
well. Those who are truly secure in their male gender need not flaunt it
always by looking like John Wayne with an attitude.
Live and let live should be the motto of our society. Unfortunately the
cultural zeitgeist of the day is conformity, machismo, and cruelty towards
others. Yes hairstyle does matter. A seemingly trivial topic like this does
have greater cultural significance.
Our society and the world at large would be much better off if we could
see the beauty in others who looked different from ourselves. If we but
opened our mind to things we would respect others a lot more and probably
end up experimenting with new ideas and habits.
Real men dont have to wear crew cuts, drink beer, smoke, and have
tattoos. Real men can, like me, drink Chardonnay, be a non smoker, and
actually like cats.
I say lets get rid of all this crew cut late-‘90s conformity and let
another true age of social experimentation return. I will raise my tall
glass of Chardonnay to that anytime!
Brian Morgan Gaylord