Archives for posts with tag: September 11th

Timothy Kelly, host of Our Interesting Times, speaks with 9/11 scholar Graeme MacQueen about the cinematic dimensions of the World Trade Center attacks of 2001. (I explore this topic further in my forthcoming book Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies, which I’ve tentatively planned to bring out early next year.)

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The Woodstock and Altamont concerts of 1969 are widely and rightly regarded as epochally emblematic events and both have been the subject of studies into the sociological, occult, and even the possible mind control significance of each of these programmed mass experiences. The Concert for New York City staged at Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2001, has received much less scrutiny but is no less worthy of investigation on similar grounds. It is interesting to note that, with the inclusion of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Who, the lineup at Madison Square Garden would feature personnel from each of the previous countercultural extravaganzas, inviting comparison between the events. In the case of the Concert for New York City, however, the rock icons who had previously heralded the arrival of an ostensibly freer and more open society valuing peace and love would instead lend whatever remained of their revolutionary prestige to the entrenchment of an authoritarian establishment determined to intensify the drive for war and Zio-corporatist global domination.

The program was orchestrated by the Robin Hood Foundation – ostensibly as a fundraiser for the families of the heroic firefighters and law enforcement officers who had suffered tremendous losses during the rescue efforts in Manhattan on September 11th. Celebrities in attendance begged the viewers at home to donate. Susan Sarandon, making what she characterized as the “money pitch”, assured the audience of the benevolent intentions of the organizers: “Let’s give it up for the Robin Hood Foundation, I can personally vouch for them.” What is the Robin Hood Foundation? Lynn Parramore characterizes the initiative as “Robin Hood in Reverse”:

America’s parasitical oligarchs are masters of public relations. One of their favorite tactics is to masquerade as defenders of the common folk while neatly arranging things behind the scenes so that they can continue to plunder unimpeded. Perhaps nowhere is this sleight of hand displayed so artfully as it is at a particular high-profile charity with the nerve to bill itself as itself as “New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization.” […]

The Robin Hood Foundation, named for that green-jerkined hero of redistribution who stole from the rich to give to the poor, is run, ironically, by some of the most rapacious capitalists the country has ever produced – men who make robber barons of previous generations look like small-time crooks. Founded by hedge fund mogul Paul Tudor Jones, the foundation boasts 19 billionaires on its leadership boards and committees, the likes of which include this sample of American plutocracy […]

By occupation (the more useless and parasitical the better), it comes as no surprise that 12 of the 19 men in leadership positions at the Robin Hood Foundation happen to be hedge fund managers. […]

The mission statement of the Robin Hood Foundation brays about all the funding it provides for school programs, generating “meaningful results for families in New York’s poorest neighborhoods.” Soup kitchens! Homeless shelters! Job training! The tuxedoed tycoons throw money at all these causes “to give New York’s neediest citizens the tools they need to build better lives.”

How far does this largesse actually go toward ameliorating New York’s poverty problem? Unsurprisingly, not very far at all. In fact, as Hedge Clippers points out, the poverty rate in the city has grown over the course of the Robin Hood Foundation’s history, from 20 percent in 1990 to 21.2 percent in 2012.

Guess what’s also grown? The bank accounts of 19 billionaires on the Robin Hood Foundation’s boards, which have ballooned 93 percent since 2008.

A look at Robin Hood’s directors reveals such worthies as Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, pioneer of toxic mortgage-backed securities trading, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Also sponsoring the Concert for New York City was Bear, Stearns, Inc., which, according to a study by investigators Mathewson and Nol, was one of the companies engaged in suspicious trading activity during the days leading up to the destruction of the World Trade Center. There “investors traded 3,979 contracts from Sept. 6 to Sept. 10 on September options that profit if shares fall below $50. The previous average volume for those options was 22 contracts” according to Mathewson and Nol. Clearly, these were people gravely concerned about the welfare of the city’s firefighters and police.

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The program opens with David Bowie performing the Simon and Garfunkel song “America” to a montage of historic images of Manhattan and newly arrived immigrants. Bowie, not himself an American – and who, just a few years previously, had declared “I’m Afraid of Americans” – would seem at first glance a peculiar choice to perform this particular number and to open the show. However, even this, as with much of the evening’s symbolism, was very deliberate in design. Bowie would be but the first of several British performers to take the stage, reinforcing the coupled commitment of the United Kingdom and the United States in pursuing the newly minted “War on Terror” agenda. Curiously, “America” contains a bizarre and seemingly comical reference to espionage and deceptive appearances. “She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy. I said, be careful, his bowtie is really a camera.”

Odd, too, is the fact that the montage of shots of New York City skyscrapers includes a clear image of the old International Telephone and Telegraph building on Park Avenue. This is an unexpected choice for inclusion considering that the company is most notorious for its instigation of a CIA-managed coup to install Augusto Pinochet as dictator in Chile on September 11, 1973. Bowie, backed by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra from the Late Show with David Letterman, next performs “Heroes” – a song with an arguable 9/11 resonance owing to its inclusion in 1998’s Godzilla, a film depicting apocalyptic havoc in New York City and featuring the Twin Towers prominently. “We can beat them forever and ever,” Bowie vows, stirring the men in the audience to warlike enthusiasm.

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Next the comedian Billy Crystal – not to be confused with decidedly unfunny PNAC signatory Bill Kristol – takes the stage to make some goofy jokes about the then-current anthrax scare. “You know who I’m worried about?” Crystal begins. “My relatives. I mean, my relatives are Jews, they smell everything that looks suspicious.” Crystal perpetuates the theme of paranoia and introduces the evening’s concern with the fate of the Jews. He continues, bringing out the concert’s symbolic involvement with the uniform-oriented regimentation of spectator sports:

Somebody said that this is bigger than Woodstock […] and music brings everybody together. And it’s all about togetherness tonight. We’re here tonight, we are alive in New York, the Yankees are kickin’ ass, the Knicks will kick ass. Alright, we’ve been hit, we’ve been a little down, but we are not out, we are still the greatest city in the world […] and we’re a better New York. We’re a better New York […] and we’re a compassionate nation. We’re a compassionate nation. While we’re at war. We’re at war but we’re also dropping food on Afghanistan. […] Now tonight is important, just to have fun and get away from the news for a while, it’s okay. I can’t watch the shows anymore with the ticker tape going at the bottom of the set, it’s driving me crazy. My neck hurts. […] Get away from the news. And you hear the same things over and over again. […] It’s not the good old days when the only guy we hated was John Rocker. This is a different thing. Now we can have fun. We can make fun of the Taliban. And when they’re together, don’t they look like ZZ Top? But let me ask you something. We have learned something in all of this mess. We have to be kind to people who are different than us, who look different, who talk strange, who have different beliefs. I’m talking ‘bout people from Jersey. We should learn and whether we are Christians or Jews, or a Muslim, we all have to agree on one thing. We can never, ever again let Mariah Carey make a movie. Please.

Crystal makes clear that Muslim terrorists are not the only enemy America faces. The Concert for New York City is also haunted by the specter of the angry white bigot – the old American type personified by Atlanta Braves relief pitcher John Rocker, who in 1999 had said of New York,

It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you’re riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It’s depressing. […] The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?

The War on Terror, while rallying westerners to slaughter the inhabitants of distant and easily misrepresented foreign countries, would also pressure Americans and Europeans to find within themselves the capacity to accept an increasingly alien presence in their midst. As Crystal suggests, the 9/11 attacks have metamorphosed the citizens into “a better New York” and “a compassionate nation” that is also “dropping food on Afghanistan”. The obedient open-mindedness demanded of the audience extends beyond the mere acceptance of immigrants from foreign cultures. They must also accept the sexual other, as represented on the concert program by David Bowie, Melissa Etheridge, Elton John, Rudy Giuliani, and Hillary Clinton. The pedophile demographic is also represented, with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Pete Townshend in attendance, and Allan Konigsberg, known to the world as Woody Allen, contributing a short film to the show.

“These colors don’t run” reads an American flag sign hoisted among the audience. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, whose office received one of the anthrax letters five days before the concert, reinforced the bellicose mood of the night, declaring that “America will never be defeated!”

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A firefighter then introduces Bon Jovi, with the Jersey boys performing a somber rendition of “Livin’ on a Prayer” – significantly, a song about economic hardship made bearable by a faith in the irrational. The theme of a necessary sacrifice would be repeated in the calls for viewers to donate money and in Jim Carrey’s assertion that “freedom comes at a terrible price.” Bon Jovi next performs “Wanted Dead or Alive”, which, in the context of the Concert for New York City, is cleverly metamorphosed into a song about war and the bravery of soldiers, cowboys on steel horses, riding off to fight in “another place where the faces are so cold.” If the lyrics are honest about one thing, it is that they “might not make it back.” Ironically, Bon Jovi’s drummer beats on a set adorned with images of the American flag and the Statue of Liberty, the effect being that Lady Liberty takes a pummeling throughout the patriotic performance.

Jay-Z grabs the mic to deliver the drug-slinging anthem “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, its title a reference to the Israelite god Jehovah. This selection might seem out of keeping with the evening’s festivities if not for the fact that U.S. forces were then in the process of seizing Afghanistan for the reclamation of its poppy fields. The Goo Goo Dolls next invade the stage to rock a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”, with frontman John Rzeznik parading around in camo pants to show his solidarity with the mission of “Operation Enduring Freedom”.

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro then introduce Martin Scorsese’s short film “The Neighborhood”, which concerns itself with the demographic changes reconfiguring the director’s old stomping grounds on Elizabeth Street in Little Italy. “Today, on the surface,” Scorsese begins, “it seems obvious that the neighborhood’s changed. I mean, it’s Asian-American. It may be Chinese now. But it’s not that simple.” He visits a Mr. De Palo, the proprietor of a cheese shop, who gives the audience a lesson in diversity and social change:

People today say “This is not Little Italy anymore.” And I tell them “You’re wrong. You’re wrong. The spirit of Little Italy, the immigrants that came here […] and you look down the street and you see this whole group of people.” I said “That’s the same exact thing as my grandparents and great-grandparents. This neighborhood hasn’t changed.”

“Wow, look at that cheese, eh?” Scorsese enthuses before treating the audience to a historical lecture that utilizes the themes established by Billy Crystal’s deprecating remark about John Rocker earlier during the show.

There were groups of bigots called Know-Nothings. They didn’t want the Irish in America at all. This was back in 1844. They gathered together to march down Prince Street from the Bowery to burn and destroy St. Patrick’s, but when they got to the corner, they saw that the place was defended not just by Irish men, but by Irish women and by Irish children, too. […] And that was the beginning of the end. The change. The change over acceptance about what America’s supposed to be. Letting in the immigrants, letting in other cultures, other religions, other races, and everybody living together – in freedom […] I had this thing that happened to me […] by 1979 I […] developed dyslexia. Invariably, I want to say “right” but “left” comes out. I want to say “left” but “right” comes out. And, uh, when I think of New York I want to say “New York” but “America” comes out. And that’s real. That’s true.

This will never be the country of the ignorant Know-Nothings again, Scorsese suggests, so nativists are advised instead to learn to love and live with the multicultural gaggle of schoolchildren who traipse across the screen during his diatribe. After all, just like the Italians, they will acculturate and eventually be transformed into real and fully assimilated Americans.

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Billy Joel shows up to perform “New York State of Mind” and “Miami 2017” – an upbeat tune that, oddly enough, seems to revel in imagery of New York City’s destruction.

Will Ferrell next appears in the role of “W” in a comedy segment celebrating the popular myth of the cowboy adventurer Bush administration and trivializing the horror of the invasion of Afghanistan by turning it into a stupid cartoon:

I wanted to give y’all an update on the current proceedings. Let me take a second to give you my own little Behind the Music on the Artist formerly known as the Taliban. Earlier today I met with the U.S. Senate in their chambers. And then I met with the House of Representatives in their new offices, which are in the basement of an abandoned Sam Goody’s in eastern Maryland. We discussed our plan […] to bomb the Taliban into the Stone Age. The problem is […] they don’t seem to notice the difference. So we had to come up with a new plan. And right now we are focusing our attacks on all the major cities under the Taliban, or as I call them, the Evil Doers. We’ve just started attacking Mazar-i-Sharif. And you know what? Sharif don’t like it. Rock the casbah, rock the casbah. You know, Sharif don’t like it. Now, as many of you know, we’ve had to change the name of our military campaign several times […] but I’ve talked to some of the people here tonight and they’ve given me some new ideas. Paul McCartney said, “Why don’t we call it Taliband on the Run?” I thought that was good. Destiny’s Child suggested “Operation Bootylicious”. Macy Gray, she said somethin’ to me, but I couldn’t understand a word she was sayin’. […] Well, whatever we call it, the mission is clear. The Evil Doers are in their caves. And we’re gonna smoke ‘em out of their caves. And then we’re gonna smoke ‘em back into their caves just for the heck of it. And then out of their caves and then back in. And why are we gonna do this? I can do anything I want, my approval rating is like 106% right now. And since I can do whatever I want, I’m gonna sing a song tonight.

“W” then launches into a rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” only to be interrupted before he can get to the telling line “The piper’s calling you to join him.”

Chris Kattan introduces Destiny’s Child, who treat the crowd to a song titled “Emotion” (“emotions takin’ me over”) followed by a gospel medley to shut down rational thought and give God’s sanction to the new age of international interventionism. An apparently inebriated Harrison Ford thanks the Robin Hood Foundation and Bear, Stearns for their generosity, after which the audience is further distracted with a feel-good “Lovely Day” video with smiling babies, interracial couples, and dogs.

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Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy, continuing with the transatlantic theme, collaborate on “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” with backing from Paul Shaffer’s CBS Orchestra.

James Lipton from Inside the Actor’s Studio provides a distinguished introduction for Adam Sandler, reprising the role of his Saturday Night Live character Operaman in order to honor the fallen firefighters and other heroes with novelty songs about consumerism, homosexuality, and Jewish erections. “I got a bone-ah! A Jewish circumcised bone-ah! Can’t get rid of this bone-ah! Operaman wish he was alone-ah!” Generous as his performance has already been, the virtuoso cannot bring himself to leave the stage without first directing the audience’s thoughts to excretions and bestiality:

He no let women read. He no let women vote-ah!

That’s why the only love he gets is from a mountain goat-ah!

He want to spread disease-oh in our mailbox.

For he himself suffers from a case of smallcox!

Osama kiss my ass! Osama bite my dink!

Osama go to hell! Osama get a shrink!

Osama says he’s tough, Osama says he’s brave.

Then tell me why Osama is shitting in a cave!

The Backstreet Boys, tasked with the difficult chore of following Sandler’s triumph, sing “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” – again, an ironic selection in consideration of what the concert has been designed to do. David Spade and Melissa Etheridge put in appearances, after which Halle Berry makes another “money pitch” and introduces a Spike Lee tribute to the New York Yankees. Visible over a doorway in the film is a quote from General MacArthur: “There is no substitute for victory.” This conveniently frames the necessity of the “War on Terror” through the collective memory of the “good war” America fought against fascism. MacArthur, of course, commanded American forces in the Pacific theater opened after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The “War on Terror” had similarly been launched by a “New Pearl Harbor” event as predicted in PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” document. Paul McCartney would also draw a parallel between the Second World War and the “War on Terror” by mentioning that his father served as a firefighter during the Blitz.

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John Cusack introduces the Who, who storm through “Who Are You” with a Union Jack projected onto a screen above the stage. An American flag replaces it during “Baba O’Reilly” with its assessment of a generation “all wasted”. “Behind Blue Eyes” cranks up the anger with its “vengeance” that is “never free”. American flags symbolically flank a Union Jack for the final song of the set, which, in the Concert for New York City’s greatest irony, is “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Images of the Twin Towers appear on the screen to remind the audience why the war drums have been beating all night.

Governor George Pataki puts in his two cents with some “God bless America!” tripe, after which Cusack introduces Konigsberg’s short “Sounds from a Town I Love”, which spies on neurotic New Yorkers as they kvetch into their cell phones post-9/11. Two of the overheard conversations warrant special attention. “This is the greatest city in the world,” one man says. “Where else can you be paranoid and right so often?” The New Yorker’s paranoia takes on particular meaning in consideration of another character’s restaurant review: “Hey, we went to Balthazar last night. Oh, it’s fantastic. At the table next to ours was Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Marlon Brando, Tiger Woods, Tony Blair, the president, and Osama bin Laden. I am telling you, that is the in place to be.” The idea that George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden might be having a business lunch together is only intended to be a joke, because only Allan Konigsberg could imagine something so silly happening – right?

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The home viewer’s attention is more than once redirected to a Bud Light banner as well as to a bimbo in the audience showing off her ample cleavage, keeping the people’s collective consciousness squarely planted between their legs, which is where it stays as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards take the stage. The pair sings “Salt of the Earth” as an excuse to get in “a prayer for the common foot soldier”, after which Mick hoots his way through “Miss You”. Matters only get grubbier from there, with Howard Stern trotting out and showing the crowd his buttocks.

Hillary Clinton put in a brief appearance behind the microphone and was reportedly booed, but this audience reaction was allegedly edited out of the concert as presented on DVD. Bill, after referencing the Oklahoma City bombing, bubbas his way through a creepy speech in which he says, “We hope we can make your children our children. We hope your future will be ours.” He then finishes with a statement reinforcing the multicultural theme established by Billy Crystal and Martin Scorsese: “Just one last thing I want ‘em [i.e., al Qaeda] to know: in America, you can have any religion you want, you can be from any race or background […] you can do anything you want [i.e., what thou wilt] and still be part of our crowd, if you recognize that our common humanity is more important than all of our interesting differences. That’s the big difference between us and them,” he declares. To fight against terrorism, then, and to be a true American patriot, is to view the racists and the religious bigots as enemies of the state.

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James Taylor sings “Fire and Rain” and “Up on the Roof”, followed by Michael J. Fox – another interesting piece of booking for the program – introducing a firefighter who angrily brays: “Osama bin Laden, you can kiss my royal Irish ass!”

Rudy Giuliani puts in a good word for New York tourism, after which Jimmy Fallon gives vent to his poor taste by singing a comic rendition of “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” to a room full of people whose loved ones had, in fact, just died. Jon Bon Jovi introduces a foul-mouthed Kevin Smith short, followed by John Mellencamp doing “Peaceful World” and “Pink Houses”. Hilary Swank brings out Vladimir Ondrasik, whose stage name, “Five for Fighting”, slyly reinforces the hawk objective.

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Natalie Hershlag next pops out to sell the alliance with Israel with sex appeal. “Hi, everybody, I’m Natalie Portman. I was born in Jerusalem, but I am now a proud resident of New York and I want to wish peace to everyone who is a human being [i.e., Jews] everywhere.” Hershlag smooches a fireman and teases the crowd, “I would kiss all of you if I could. Thank you!” Yes, thank you, goyim. Thank you for fighting Israel’s wars. Israel had nothing to do with 9/11, by the way. Check me out, you goyim. I’m totally hot!

Richard Gere, the only performer who seems to want, however timidly and ineffectively, to oppose the rampant warmongering spirit of the night, receives a negative reaction to his embarrassed message of peace:

This is the moment when we need to be healed and when music showed us the way. Music does what it does best, it helps us to heal. And I think in the situation right now, when we have the possibility of taking this energy, this horrendous energy that we’re all feeling – and the possibility of turning it into more violence and revenge – we can stop that. We can take that energy and turn it into something else. We can turn it into compassion, to love, into understanding. That’s apparently unpopular right now, but that’s alright.

An excerpt from a Ric Burns documentary has journalist Ray Suarez spouting more multiculturalist rubbish and hammering into Americans’ heads how brown they have to become and how Jews are eternal victims:

I would submit at the beginning of the twenty-first century that New York is one of those places that you can use to understand the entire American experience, from a string of Indian villages out on the tip of the eastern seaboard to a place where blacks and Dutch and Jewish refugees and people from the four corners of the earth came in – to the America factory […]

Salma Hayek calls out Jim Carrey to do a clown routine before he composes himself and gets serious. “It is the end of a selfish and cynical age,” he proclaims, reinforcing the notion that a new nation has come into being. The heroes of 9/11, he says, “have reminded us who we really are.”

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Finally, to bring the Concert for New York City to a close, the oligarchs trot out their ultimate showstopper, decrepit old beetle [sic] Paul McCartney, who, trashing his stature as the author of “All You Need Is Love”, reveals himself to be a prostitute of the military-industrial complex by unveiling what is positively the stupidest song of the long and depressing decrescendo of his career – and all for the benefit of some parasitic bankers and Zionists. “I tell you what,” the cute beetle announces after playing “I’m Down” and “Yesterday”. “We wrote a new song, um, the day after the attack, and it’s about freedom. That’s one thing these people don’t understand,” he challenges, raising his fist in a martial gesture. “It’s worth fighting for.” McCartney finally launches into the idiotic “Freedom”, instructing audience members to stomp their feet and clap their hands for percussive entrainment similar in its effect to that heard on John Lennon’s record “Give Peace a Chance”. “I will fight for the right to live in freedom,” the song states repeatedly, zombifying the listener.

After the rest of the stars on the program join McCartney for “Let It Be” – another signal to viewers’ brains to shut down logical thought processes and take refuge in the vague and pastel – McCartney again insists on subjecting the audience to another run-through of “Freedom”, this time with all of the other stars taking part and thereby endorsing its insipid neoconservative messaging. “I want to see everyone joining in this time,” McCartney commands, intending that those who sing along will become complicit in the sanction of war and have an emotional investment in the project. Amusingly, McCartney wears a firefighter’s T-shirt that says “Chinatown Dragon Fighters” – as apt a label as any for a charlatan energizing a nation to wage a war against a foe that only exists in a culture’s imagination.

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Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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Buzz Aldrin with Mickey Rooney

In 2002, Buzz Aldrin made the news again when he punched moon landing skeptic Bart Sibrel in front of Café Rodeo at the Luxe Hotel in Beverly Hills. Sibrel, making a nuisance of himself, had planted himself in Aldrin’s path and demanded that the astronaut swear on a Bible that he had landed on the moon in 1969. Aldrin’s reaction was that of a self-important and temperamental actor rather than that of a disciplined man of science. Aldrin discusses the episode in his 2009 autobiography, Magnificent Desolation.

Like most Americans, I’m quite skeptical about conspiracy theories. I’m someone who has dealt with the exact science of space rendezvous and orbital mechanics, so to have someone approach me and seriously suggest that Neil, Mike, and I never actually went to the moon – that the entire trip had been staged in a sound studio someplace – has to rank among the most ludicrous ideas I’ve ever heard. Yet somehow the media has given credence to some of the kooky people espousing such theories, and my fellow astronauts and I have had to put up with the consequences.1

Hollywood, indeed, alluded to the possibility of a faked lunar landing as early as the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, and the 1977 thriller Capricorn One concerns the cover-up of a faked Mars mission.

The media treated Aldrin like a hero again, however, after assaulting conspiracy theorist Sibrel – and it is interesting to note that the story received news coverage coinciding with the first anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Here is Aldrin’s account of the “Blow Heard ‘Round the World” in his book Magnificent Desolation:

Because of the publicity the hoax theorists have garnered, occasionally even in a serious interview a reporter will broach the subject. One September morning in 2002, I was in Beverly Hills at the Luxe Hotel, filming a television interview for a Far Eastern TV network, when the interview began going in a direction that I knew was out of bounds. At first I tried to be cordial, adroitly answering the question, assuming the interviewer would recognize my reluctance to talk about inanity, and bring the focus back to a bona fide space subject. Instead the interviewer began playing a television segment that had aired in the United States on the subject of hoaxes, including a section suggesting that the Apollo 11 moon landing never happened. I was aware of the piece and had been livid when it originally aired. I did not appreciate the interviewer’s attempts to lure me into commenting on it. Lisa [Cannon, Aldrin’s stepdaughter] had accompanied me to the interview following her early morning triathlon training in the Santa Monica Bay, and she immediately recognized that this was a flagrant violation of our willingness to conduct the interview in good faith, so she called a halt to the production. We weren’t belligerent, but we did not linger long over our good-byes, either.

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Lisa Cannon

We left the hotel room and walked down the hall to catch the elevator, only a matter of seconds away. I pressed the button for the ground level, and Lisa and I looked at each other and smiled. It had been a strange morning already. When the elevator doors opened on the ground level, it got worse.

As we stepped out into the hotel foyer, a large man who looked to be in his mid-thirties approached me, attempting to engage me in conversation. “Hey, Buzz, how are you?” He had his own film crew along, with the camera already rolling to document the encounter.

I greeted him briefly, acknowledging his presence, and kept moving – standard procedure for life in Hollywood. As Lisa and I walked through the foyer toward the front door of the hotel, however, the man kept getting in my way, peppering me with questions, none of which I answered. Lisa took my arm and glared at the man. “That’s enough,” she said, as I could feel her pressure on my arm guiding me toward the door. “Please let us alone; we’re leaving now.”

We stepped outside under the hotel awning, and the film crew continued right along with us. Lisa’s car was parked across the street on Rodeo Drive, but there was no crosswalk nearby, and the traffic was brisk.

Meanwhile, the “interviewer” had taken out a very large Bible and was shaking it in my face, his voice becoming more animated. “Will you swear on this Bible that you really walked on the moon?”

I looked back at the man and gave him a look as if to say, Will you swear on that Bible that you are an idiot? The man was becoming more virulent, inflammatory, and personally accusatory in his outbursts. I tried not to pay any attention, but he was saying things like, “Your life is a complete lie! And here you are making money by giving interviews about things you never did!”

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Mardi Gras will never be the same after this.

Lisa approached the cameraman and insisted, “Please turn off that camera! We’re just trying to get across the street to our car.”

I’m a patient man, but this situation was silly. “You conspiracy people don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said.

Lisa spied a break in the traffic, so she grabbed me by the arm again, and said, “Buzz, let’s go.” We started walking across the street, but the large man kept getting right out in front of us, standing in the middle of Rodeo Drive, blocking our path as his cameraman kept rolling film. Lisa seemed nervous about trying to go around him, while searching for her keys to unlock the car with the man in such close proximity, so we turned around and walked back to the bellman’s station outside the hotel.

“Okay, this is ridiculous,” I said to Lisa and to the bellman. “Call the police. This guy is not letting us get to our car.”

I was under the awning, and Lisa turned away from me to approach the cameraman again. “Please turn that camera off,” she said. Meanwhile the large man was nearly screaming at me, “You’re a coward, Buzz Aldrin! You’re a liar; you’re a thief!”

Maybe it was the West Point cadet in me, or perhaps it was the Air Force fighter pilot, or maybe I’d just had enough of his belligerent character assassination, but whatever it was, as the man continued to excoriate me, I suddenly let loose with a right hook that would have made George Foreman proud. WHAAP! I belted the guy squarely in the jaw.

While I prided myself on staying in relatively good shape, it was doubtful that my septuagenarian punch did much damage to the follow, except perhaps to his ego. But he was not at all concerned about the punch, anyhow. It was obvious that he had been goading me in that direction, and he seemed ecstatically happy that I had finally grown exasperated and hit him.

“Hey, did you catch that on tape?” he called out to his cameraman. That was all he cared about.

Lisa turned around and walked back to me. She cocked her head slightly, looked up at me, and asked quietly, “Buzz, what happened?”

I looked back at my stepdaughter rather sheepishly, and said, “I punched the guy.”

“You what?” Lisa’s hand instinctively flew to her mouth in disbelief, as though already postulating in her mind any potential legal ramifications.

The film crew and “interviewer” hastily packed up and headed for their vehicle. They had gotten what they were hoping for – and more. Before the night was over, the film of me punching the guy was on the news and all over the Internet. The interviewer went to the police, threatening to file assault charges against me.

In the meantime, Lisa contacted our legal representative, Robert O’Brien, and told him everything that had happened. Robert suggested that we hire a criminal lawyer, just in case the encounter actually led to charges.

On the following Tonight Show, Jay Leno included the incident in his standup routine, cheering, “Way to go, Buzz!” They doctored up the video of my punch, and edited it to make it appear as though I had given the guy about twenty rapid-fire punches instead of the one.

David Letterman also came to my defense in his opening remarks for The Late Show, and threw in a double feature on the story the next night, since they had “dug up” some old archival footage of a reporter accosting Christopher Columbus, accusing him, “You didn’t really cross the ocean and land in the New World. You’re a liar!” And of course, Columbus decked the guy.

By then, television networks and evening entertainment news programs were calling, suddenly wanting me to appear on their shows. Ordinarily I would have been delighted, but our legal advisers said, “No interviews.” Eventually the matter died down. The city of Beverly Hills did not bring charges against me, and there were witnesses to the harassing behavior that provoked my response. It still cost me money to hire a lawyer to defend myself, and the hoax advocate received the publicity he sought, so I suppose, in the end, he won. But the punch provided me with some satisfaction, at least, and I was gratified by the calls and notes of support. CNN Crossfire commentator Paul Begala gave me a thumbs-up, and many others sent encouraging messages. Ironically, some of the most supportive words came from my fellow astronauts, to the effect of, “Hey, Buzz, I wish I’d punched the guy! Finally, somebody has responded to these hoax theory perpetrators.” More than my knowledge of rendezvous techniques, more than my actions under pressure during the initial lunar landing, more than anything in my career as an astronaut – it seemed as if nothing elevated me more in their estimation than “the punch.” From that day on, I was a hero to them.2

Some have alleged that the scene was staged and cite, for instance, the fact that Aldrin and Sibrel went on to collaborate on the 2004 documentary Astronauts Gone Wild. It is strange, too, to note that Sibrel, in publicizing a theory that ought to hinge on forensic examination and logic, instead decides to interject religion into the showdown, obnoxiously brandishing his Bible and thereby setting himself up for ridicule by progressives. The cameraman is also careful to get a clear shot of the restaurant’s sign and street address, which – if, indeed, this confrontation was a hoax – might have been a condition set by the Luxe Hotel for permission to use the Café Rodeo as a location. Begala’s response, not the typical one for commentary on an assault, was to give the “thumbs-up”, the gesture made synonymous with film criticism by Siskel and Ebert. Lisa Cannon, the woman seen with Aldrin in the video, has been credited with a “significant role” in “developing Buzz Aldrin’s brand”.

Regardless of whether the “Blow Heard ‘Round the World” was a planned event, it served as an object lesson for the public during the politically crucial period following 9/11. As Aldrin’s account makes clear, the media treated him like a hero for punching Sibrel. Aldrin also makes a very deliberate reference to his military service in describing his thought process leading to the moment of violence. The takeaway for the audience is that hitting “conspiracy people” is the laudable thing to do in these turbulent times following the destruction of the World Trade Center. Laugh at them if possible, but punch them if they become too insistent. This was before the advent of YouTube, when critical analysis of the 9/11 matrix was in its comparative infancy. Connecting “conspiracy people” with superstition, socially awkward behavior, and lack of patriotic reverence would pay off in preconditioned public responses as inconvenient scrutiny of these events would become much more common over the years.

apollo

Destination Moon

Notwithstanding his touchiness about the reality of the Apollo mission, Aldrin is eager to emphasize his connection with the entertainment industry, and one of the chapters in Magnificent Desolation is titled “Pop Goes Space Culture”. He boasts of his friendship with science-fiction illusionists like James Cameron, the director of The Terminator, Aliens, and The Abyss. “For several years, Lois and I had been spending a lot of time driving up to L.A. on business and to attend a variety of Hollywood events in the evenings,” he writes, adding that they eventually moved into “a luxury high-rise condo along the Wilshire Corridor of Los Angeles, just west of Beverly Hills, because so much of our business was now connected to the entertainment industry.”3

“A little-known Hollywood fact is that my name had already been firmly ensconced in Hollywood lore long before Lois and I moved there,” he continues. “On the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, at the corners of Hollywood and Vine, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and I have not one star but four, one on each corner of the intersection. Actually, our ‘stars’ are in the shape of moons.”4 Recognition on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame is a rather unexpected tribute for a veteran of NASA’s Apollo 11 program – either that or a tellingly fitting one.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Endnotes

  1. Aldrin, Buzz; and Ken Abraham. Magnificent Desolation. New York, NY: Harmony Books, 2009, p. 281.
  2. Ibid., pp. 282-285.
  3. Ibid., p. 256.
  4. Ibid.
No One Lives Forever BCI

Grab it while supplies last … or not!

Included in the ten-feature action film collection No One Lives … Forever!, released in 2002 by the now-defunct BCI Eclipse DVD label, is an obscure 1999 Israeli oddity, Full Circle, directed by one Bernard McWilliams. The story concerns Boaz Golan, a Mossad agent sent to New York City in 1990 with the task of preventing a shipment of arms from reaching Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Golan is psychically scarred by the dual traumas of seeing his mother raped when he was a child and the adult experience of gory warfare in Lebanon (which, the movie deems it necessary to note, caused the hero to soil his pants). An early scene in Full Circle has Golan fantasizing about raping his female analyst, to whom he tells the blackly comedic war anecdote of discovering the bodies of a couple who had been unceremoniously killed in the middle of a blowjob.

Once he arrives in the United States, women find it difficult to resist Golan’s Hebraic charms, and a neighbor woman enthusiastically throws herself at him, enjoying a sex session on top of a table. Hilariously, the woman grabs a handful of what appears to be tapioca pudding and smears it across the Israeli’s ass in the heat of passion. Also true to the movie’s ethnic origin is a perverted scene in which the woman’s daughter discovers the mother’s vibrator and uses it as a toy airplane.

Full Circle Yuval Ovadia

Israeli superspy Boaz Golan in Full Circle (1999)

Being a spy and a Jewish one at that, Golan thinks nothing of lying to people to get whatever he wants. “I may be moving to New York to study engineering,” he gives as his reason for coming to America. He is also eager to demonize Saddam Hussein and to champion Israel as the ally of the U.S. “Saddam Hussein is crazy. He’s capable of doing anything,” Golan claims. “You know, if the Israelis hadn’t bombed his atom shell, he’d be using it right now against the United States.”

The action is stupidly pedestrian, with Golan depicted as a superhuman who is able to swing on a rope like Tarzan and have a fistfight even after being shot in the abdomen. A goofy scene of a dweeby Mossad asset being mowed down by a woman with a machine gun hidden in a baby carriage earns the movie some extra unintentional humor points, however.

The dull presence of singer-songwriter Richie Havens in a supporting role does nothing to enliven Full Circle, although his sassy girlfriend is an entertaining character, an anti-Semite who can smell an Israeli. In another scene indicative of Israeli attitudes toward American gentiles, Golan warms himself by a bum’s barrel fire, but becomes unnerved and flees when a vagrant approaches and giggles with a maniacal look on his face. This, no doubt, is intended as some sort of evocation of the eternal specter of the Shoah that hovers above all Jews.

The dialogue, typically Judaic, is filthy, with characters calling each other insulting names like “dickless piece of shit” and saying repugnant things along the lines of, “Wake up and smell my asshole.” Also quintessentially Israeli are soulless scenes of sleazy sex, meanness, and torture.

Whether or not Full Circle was designed primarily for American consumption is difficult to say. If so, the decision to leave more than one scene of this otherwise English-language film in untranslated Hebrew was poorly considered. Ludicrously, the end credits are interspersed with disingenuous anti-war messages like, “Instead of fighting one another we should fight those who make us fight.” A “special thanks” credit acknowledges the Broadcast Services of the Israeli Consulate for assistance in producing the film.

Yuval Ovadia

IDF veteran and Full Circle producer Yuval Ovadia

So far as this writer has been able to ascertain, the film has no listing at the Internet Movie Database, but the America-Israel Cultural Foundation website’s biography of one of its producers, Yuval Ovadia, gives information about a film titled Orphan of War which also seems to describe Full Circle:

Yuval Ovadia was born in Tel Aviv, Israel in October 31, 1965.

After serving 3 years in the Israeli army he flew to New York, planning to study filmmaking and acting in the best schools he could find.

In NY he studied at Lee Strasburg [sic] Institute, where he studied acting, singing and dancing. Later on he continued his studies at HB Studio, where he spent a long time under the late, famous Herbert Berghof and Bill Hickey. Then he studied all aspects of filmmaking at NYU Film School.

By the years 1996-1998 Yuval worked on a feature film called “Orphan Of War” – a 90 min, 35 mm Action/Drama, co-starring the legendary singer from Woodstock “Richie Havens” [who actually has only a tiny role]. In addition to co-producing this film, Yuval had starred in it, co-wrote the screenplay, edited, and came up with a music album called “Peaceful Circle” – based on songs from the film, which he produced together with Mr. Richie Havens.

[…] Yuval decided to go back to his roots and in 1999 he moved back from New York to Israel, were he got married and is having now 4 beautiful kids.

Full Circle, in short, seems to be as elusive as those notorious “Dancing Israelis” (creepily, Ovadia’s email address is listed as visual911911@gmail.com). The fact that the film is devoted to vilifying the Iraqi government, which would be overthrown by the Jew-puppeteered Bush administration in 2003 with September 11th utilized as the fraudulent pretext – in combination with the circumstance that the doomed Twin Towers make an appearance in the film along with a deck of tarot cards – adds up to Full Circle being a rather unsavory home theater experience. It may be worthwhile, however, for those with an interest in shitty action movies.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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