Left Justified: The Great Wasteland

One hundred fifty channels and nothing to watch. And I am an addict. I must see TV. Documentaries are my fare, but I’ll cruise C-Span, dabble in CNN and Fox News; always watch The Simpsons and will tape The West Wing if I have a meeting.

But watchable programs are shrinking. The History Channel does World War II incessantly. Discovery should discover something besides salatious murders, and there’s no Arts nor Entertainment on A&E. Television’s been dumbed down. Even PBS, where I go first, now kisses corporate butt.

The PBS scientific program Nova, which formerly looked at chemical spills and global warming, now does puff pieces on Air Force One and trimming ski slopes. Nova once aired an investigation of those evil naysayers of nuclear power, without once interviewing Ralph Nader or any member of the Union of Concerned Scientists (the chief anti-nukist scientist).

I house sit for extra income and sometimes am blessed with satellite TV. One cannot get the local channels (though a good set of rabbit ears on a second TV works wonders)—but there’s alternative broadcasting, though nothing to compare with Rupert Murdoch (who makes hundreds of millions off gullible masses). I found a network called Worldlink TV.com, which broadcasts world music videos, left-wing documentaries and German, Arab and Canadian news. Low-key begging asking people to send in donations seems to be its lifeblood.

Even more obscure: Free Speech TV (FSTV) broadcasts Pacifica News programs and covered practically every demonstration in the last five years. I like obscure documentaries and speakers who are never invited on Larry King Live. TV should cover war and corporate greed.

On one of the FSTV programs, I heard a military doctor explain how he had to clean up depleted uranium shells from an Iraq battlefield (he claims 100,000 soldiers now show radiation sickness). I saw a great documentary on how “free trade” destroys indigenous economies, such as the dairy industry in Jamaica, when the U.S. inundates the island with cheap powdered milk. Free trade for U.S.—nothing for them. Rarely does this info make the cable, much less major network TV. And the American people seem to be getting dumber and meaner as they’re barraged with “real” TV.

Maybe it’s for the better. I need to get out more, walk the wonderful bike path along the Rock River, play some disc golf on the best course in the Midwest (Page Park).

I know one thing I will be doing this summer: going to Minglewood (317 W. Jefferson St., Rockford, and listening to the kids’ new music. One of my faves is a folksinger named Dave Lippman, aka George Shrub—the “singing CIA Agent.” He’ll be here Friday, July 1 (yes, this guy will start off the patriotic weekend with a left-wing barrage of songs—don’t you just love America). The program is five bucks, unless you can afford more. No one will be turned away for lack of pay, and any money raised will be given to the performer.

Here’s some of Dave’s blurbs:

New job title for Shrub!: the Cultural Director of the Department of Homeland Security. George Shrub has been traveling throughout his globalized domain, sharing his Point of View (the Right One) so that people won’t need their own. He employs anti-folk songs and interventionary anthems to explain (and enforce) the business of America, which is none of your business; that unions are never civil, and that the proper place for himself, like Wal-Mart, is everywhere.

But what about satirical songster Dave Lippman?

Well, he has been trying to keep up with his shadow, Shrub, touring closely behind him (Dave will perform as George, then do a set of his own personal folksongs). He continues to afflict the complacent, occasionally rhyming in the process.

Dave has been known to take the air out of the windbags of the week, de-distort history, and rewrite the classics with parody and thrust. He has recently founded the International Federation of Investigative Songwriters, in a pre-doomed effort at respectability. His hot topics include non-imperial empires, non-free enterprise, and non-elected presidents.

Also the environment or the lack thereof, and unions or the lack thereof.

Here’s some reviews:

“Lippman is a national treasure” says the L.A. Herald-Examiner

“Viciously funny”—Guardian (England)

“One of my favorite political satirists. This is a very funny man.”—Erich Lee Preminger.

This one is good: “The Dean felt that more harm than good would come from your visit”—a student from Skidmore College, New York.

My hero, Utah P. Phillips, says “God, that man can talk! What a great writer!”

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the June 22-28, 2005, issue

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