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Review: The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust  By ÜberMike <3-8-01>
Throughout David Bowie's long and illustrious career, he has been at the forefront and vanguard of the hip and chic in music. His knack for musical direction and fashion helped set the trends for music during the 70's and 80's including Glam, Punk, Art, Experimental, and Avant-Garde rock. Born David Jones in Brixton, England, he got into a school-yard fight with one of his friends over a girl, which led to his left eye being permanently dilated. Following his graduation, he served in a number of stints in bands around England, and when the Monkee's David Jones became a superstar, he changed his name to David Bowie. After spending a while in a Scottish Buddhist Monastary, he formed a mime-troup/experimental art company, the Arts Lab. In 1969, his song "Space Oddity" became a remarkable hit in the U.K, convincing him to focus on his musical career. After his albums "The Man Who Sold the World", and "Hunky Dory", Bowie created his most famous onstage character, Ziggy Stardust. Amazingly, in 1 year after the album, Bowie created the album "Aladdin Sane", as well as producing Lou Reed's "Transformer", Iggy Pop and the Stooge's "Raw Power" (apparantly many die-hard fans believe that Bowie did a bad job by hushing and quieting the Stooges loud and obnoxious sound), and Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes". His versatility was demonstrated even more during the 80's and 90's when he delved into American soul music, German Electronica, became an actor, solo musician, artist, and producer. But going back to the album, in 1972 with an interview in "The Melody Maker" in which he openly stated that he was gay, and taking a cue from Marc Bolan and his seminal Glam Rock Band T-Rex, Bowie was able to stir considerable interest about Ziggy Stardust, an androgynous space alien turned Rock star from another planet. After dying his hair orange, paling his skin with globs of make-up, and donning women's clothing, Bowie, along with Mick Ronson, Michael Woodmansey, and Trevor Bolder rounded out the band, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Bowie, T-Rex, and such other Glam Rock provacateurs as Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls transformed the rock & roll experience into a full-fledged stage and theatrical experience. Working out lavish and stylish (women's) clothing, full-fledged props and sets, dark make-up, and envelope-pushing antics, Bowie left an undeniable mark on rock & roll music. Harking back to the heavy-guitar-laden "The Man Who Sold the World", "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders of Mars" is a loose concept album about the alien Ziggy Stardust, and although it doesn't cohesively work as a concept album, it still follows on the same track of a post-apocalyptic world of a decaying and trashy world; the album is influenced much by "A Clockwork Orange", which helps give that paranoid view of doom and gloom. Throughout the album, Ziggy Stardust (Bowie) goes through a range of sounds - from the hard-driving guitar sound of the Velvet Underground to acoustic guitars to wailing vocals reminiscent of the Beatles to string sections and pianos. Another aspect of the album that made it curious and refreshing when it came out is the emotions and melodrama that Ziggy introduces into the vocals that gave the music a theatrical and cinematic feel. To some, it may verge on the line of cheesiness, but then again, what wasn't cheesy about Glam Rock? Some of the best tracks on this album include "Starman", "Hang onto Yourself", "Ziggy Stardust", and "Suffragate City". As stated before, Bowie had an intuition of when things got stale and what would be big, so he didn't stay on Glam Rock long, obviously seeing that it would lead into cliched and tacky antics. Don't believe me - ever heard of a band called Kiss?

Featured song
"Starman" -
Download a sample (You will need Real Audio for this song.)


Review: The Velvet Underground & Nico  By ÜberMike <2-29-00>
I've already gone over some of the history of the Velvet Underground, so I won't go into that now. Since I have listened to this cd (seriously, at least 7 times through without stopping since Mr. E burned the cd for me yesterday), it has quickly become 1 of my favorite cd's in my collection. When Warhol took the reins of managment for VU, he used them as his house band to be the centerpeice of his film, dance and pop-art roadshow, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Most of the material on "VU & Nico" is from their rehearsals and performances for EPI. Greeted by strong resistance, Warhol forced VU to add Nico, a blond bombshell from Germany, who besides being a model and movie actress, would go on to have her own solo career (ironically, with the help of Cale & Reed from VU). Her musical value to the band has often been debated, but on the 3 songs that she sings lead vocals, "Femme Fatal", "I'll be Your Mirror", and "All Tomorrow's Partys", she contributes to some of the best VU songs ever made. Personally, I think that Reed could have taken her vocals and added their true harsher edge to those songs, and she wouldn't be missed at all (but that's just my opinion). If I had to take one cd with me to a desert island, it would either have to be this, or "London Calling" by the Clash, only for the sheer musical quality and diversity of the songs; where the Clash dabble with R&B, Rockabilly, Ska, Reggae, Jazz, and Hard Rock, VU threw together 11 songs ranging from Pop, hard-driving Garage Rock, Proto-Punk, melodic Rock, Blues, and sometimes just loud and reckless guitar noise and feedback. Some of my favorite tracks are "Sunday Morning" (a very morbid song that is set to a dreamy pop sound, but if you pay attention to the lyrics, it tells of the evil and backstabbing world from a paranoid's point of view), "I'm Waiting for My Man" (An anthematic Garage Rock song dealing with the uncertain world of the drug-dealing business), "Femme Fatal", "All Tomorrow's Partys (Reed based this song off of present-day Cinderellas that often flocked around Warhol), "I'll Be Your Mirror", and "Venus In Furs". The music on this album can be summed up nicely when Tom Wilson, producer of their album "White Light/White Heat", called the song, "European Son" as "musical masturbation". That phrase justifies and gives you an idea of the energy and creativity that went into the short but brilliant musical career of VU. It has mythically been said that it took "VU & Nico" a decade to even break 6-digit sales, but without them, the Doors, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Joy Division, R.E.M, Brian Eno (back in the spotlight for co-producing "Beautiful Day" by U2), and Nirvana probably wouldn't be themselves, and the Goth, Glam, Punk, New Wave, and Alternative movements probably wouldn't be the same. The Banana Peel cover of this album has now become a pop icon, and can be found anywhere from t-shirts to the Simpsons to (not suprisingly) porno websites. It's hard for me to decide if I like "White Light/White Heat" or "VU & Nico" better, but pick up both to see the huge musical range between the 2 records, because as John Cale said, "[White Light/White Heat] was a very rabid record. The first one had some gentility, some beauty. The second one was consciously anti-beauty." Ironically "White Light/White Heat"s brand of "screw-you-proto-punk" is just as beautiful as "VU & Nico".

Featured song
"I'm Waiting for my Man" -
Download a sample (This sample is in mp3 format. You will need an mp3 player for this song.)


Review: Earthquake Weather by Joe Strummer  By Roe V. Wade <2-26-00>
"From Camden town station to 44th and 8th" Joe Strummer(real name John Mellor) lead the seminal punk rock foursome The Clash. Formed in 1976 The Clash was Joe Strummer's second band after the 101ers, a well known pub rock band in south and west London. Following the Ramones tour of England in that year, Mick Jones of the heavy metal group London SS along with their manager Bernie Rhodes persuaded Strummer whom they had admired from the crowd for some time to join their new project. After 7 years of extensive touring and the release of 6 studio albums, in the summer of '82 because of drug addiction, drummer since 1977 Topper Headon, was sacked and replaced with original drummer Terry Chimes(Tory Crimes). A year later Mick Jones left the band because of a dispute about money and politics. Strummer tried to continue the band with a group of young musicians but put up his microphone and smashed his guitar once more* after the failure and complete shite that was Cut The Crap(1984). In later years, Topper became a taxi driver in Chiswick and also released a solo album Waking Up. Paul Simonon, bassist, went on to form Havana 3AM and returned to painting and Mick Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite. Strummer had a stint as rythm guitarist for the Pogues in 90/91, wrote the score for Walker Texas Ranger(the movie), has two daughters 15 and 13, and is currently touring with his new band The Mescaleros. In 1989 he teamed up with Latino Rockabilly War to record an album containing songs he had written since the end of the Clash. The album was entitle Earthquake Weather. Why I decided to review this album, considering it is out of print(and has been for about the last 8 years), and the whole point of the "review" is to persuade or dissuade a person from spending money on something(well thats my idea of a review anyway), is unknown to me at the current moment. However 2 ideas do came to mind in the next moment: A) Im bored B) You'll probably never ever hear a song from this album, so there will be no conflicting opinions, and no one TELLING me "what is this crap", this album probably doesn't even exist as far as you will ever know. So here's a short summary of how the album sounds: Gangsterville sounds like something straight out of the Clash days, with a beat like Clampdown and a chorus like Rudie Can't Fail. Strummer sounds as good as ever. If all the songs on this album sounded like this...well then that would just be nice. Just a great rock and roll song. The rest of the album doesn't quite follow suit, but it all flows nicely together. Even though the guitar solos are somewhat annoying with all the effects the guitarist seems to be putting into it, luckily there is only one solo in Gangsterville and it's relatively short. Someone once told me to consider the 1999 Joe Strummer album Rock Art & the X-Ray style the next Clash album after Combat Rock. This one much more aptly fits that title. It's been the same since I don't know when, but I'm going Island Hopping again, the third song is a softer melodic song, and the solo in the middle is much less annoying but only because it's lifted from a traditional song(as far as i can tell). The rythm guitar sounds good on some of these tracks and sounds as punchy and aggressive as the Clash used to sound. However some of the songs are more like very soft background songs that are really hard to enjoy unless you really want to relax, with no audible guitar. Not that these songs are bad, keep in mind that this IS Joe Strummer, I'm sure im just not old/mature enough yet to enjoy it...right. And the 12th song, Ride Your Donkey is a great little ska/reggae number. All of the songs on the CD are great, and i recommend that any fan of the Clash or rock and roll "buy" Earthquake Weather.
* The guitar being smashed on the Cover of London Calling is actually Paul Simonon's



Review: The Doors (self-titled)  By ÜberMike <2-25-00>
The Doors formed in Laurel County, in California in 1965. After seeing the Velvet Underground in Los Angeles (hippie capital of the nation, and "heart of the enemy" for VU), Jim Morrison decided to take the extreme and envelope-pushing on-stage theatrics of VU and incorporate it into his band with UCLA film student, Ray Manzarek (keyboards, organs), John Densmore (drums), and Robby Krieger (guitars). Born in a hippie community, but never really a part of the "Love Generation", Jim Morrison, like VU, explored the dark and disturbing aspects of our minds and lives. However, unlike VU, the Doors would go on to achieve major success in the music business for their songs filled with frank sexuality and tales of the psychdelic experience. Musically, the Doors played a new sound of Rock & Roll, Blues, and Eastern music, with Manzarek's trademark electric organ. The public greeted and worshipped Morisson as a great American poet. On stage, Morisson assumed the persona of "The Lizard King", something he had picked up from seeing Julian Beck's "Living Theater". He was willing to confront the audience and get them "whipped up into insanity" over what he saw as "apathy" among the crowd at rock concerts. (The confrontational rock star would later be championed by Iggy Pop, who stage-dived into crowds, cut himself with glass & performed other masochist activities, stripped onstage, danced impromptu while on the influence of drugs, attacked the audience with the microphone, and performed while smeared with blood or peanut-butter while Marilyn Manson was but a child.) In 1969, in Dade County, Florida, Morrison and the Doors were arrested for indecent exposure and for inciting a riot. This marked the end of the Doors as a live band, and Jim turned into a recluse while working on new material for the band. He was found in Paris in 1971, dead from an apparant drug-overdose. Today, the Doors are still found in pop-culture, with many kids listening to the Doors, countless bios of Morrison, and even a movie about them made in 1991. The self-titled debut from the Doors is a very good one, and thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. While (the shortened version that I don't think is as good as the full one of) "Light My Fire" may have been their trademark song, many other anthems of the Doors such as "Break on Through (To The Other Side)", "Twentieth Century Fox", and "Take It as It Comes" are also great. "Crystal Ship", "End of the Night", and "The End" are haunting melodically, and mysterious lyrically. One of my favorite songs is "The End", 11 minutes of sonic noise of an oedipal journey that reminds me of "Sister Ray" by VU. The energy that the band performs with is uncanny, and Morrison effortlessly drifts from a soft whisper to a raucous yell throughout the cd (or even in the same song). I've heard from many people that while they produced a lot of great material after this, no other album after the self-titled effort would ever come close to matching it.


Your newest member  By Jonus Pitts <2-22-00>
Hello, I am Jonus Pitts. Newest member of the Commoner's. First of I should say that everything I say should be taken with a light heart, and an open mind. I am 26 years old, thus making me the oldest of the Commoner's. I graduated from The University Of Richmond four years ago. I currently live in Hartford Ct. I would like to start some new projects here. My first idea is sort of news commentary show. Second I will be writing a guide to astral prjection, and lucid dreaming. Also, like my friend Greg, I will be writing some math, and science articles. Mostly stuff ive found, or some more complex stuff which may be dificult to grasp at first. Stick with it. Believe me. Theres a good chance it took me a while to get. Later Folks.


Review: Closer by Joy Division  By ÜberMike <2-22-00>
"This is the way - step inside" into Ian Curtis' tormented and etherreal mind. "Atrocity Exhibition" continues along with "You'll see the horrors of a faraway place/ Meet the architects of law face to face/See mass murder on a scale you've never seen And all the ones who try hard to succeed/This is the way - step inside." Lyrics such as these characterize the bleakness and melancholy of Joy Division, as well as of Ian Curtis, the nihilistic soul of the band. Joy Division formed in 1977, after Bernard Albrecht (guitars), Peter Hook (bass), Steve Brotherdale (drums), and Ian Curtis (vocals) saw the Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks play in Manchester. By the time they formed, only 1 year after the Sex Pistols, Punk was already considered dead. They would keep the punk spirit, but go in there own direction, forging ahead in the New Wave and Gothic Movement (who was the 1st goth band? I don't know. Siouxie & the Banshees? Joy Division? Bauhaus?) They were first named Stiff Kittens, before changing their name to Warsaw (after the song "Warszawa" by David Bowie), before changing their name once again to Joy Division so as not to cause confusion between them and the band Warsaw Pakt. The name Joy Division comes from a reference in "The House of Dolls" by Karol Cetinsky to "Joy Division", units in Nazi camps where women were forced to be prostitutes for Nazi soldiers. They started playing around England, gaining some success through John Peel and his "The Peel Sessions" on the BBC. While touring, Ian Curtis was well-known for his on-stage thematics, in which he would jerk and move around as if he were having an epilleptic seizure. The irony was that he was epilleptic, and it was often difficult to distinguish between his on-stage antics and real seizures. They were steadily gaining popularity with "Unknown Pleasures", but two days before they were set to tour America, Curtis committed suicide by hanging himself in a hotel room while listening to "The Idiot" by Iggy Pop. It's not clear as to why he killed himself (could be his failing marriage, anxiety of touring the U.S., the mix of depression from his epillepsy and his drugs to treat it, or all of them), but JD had earlier decided that they would disband if any member ever left the group. They kept their word, and formed the more New Wave and Techno-oriented New Order later on. "Closer" was released shortly after Curtis' suicide and many see it as his suicide note through the final JD album. And that's probably true, judging from the morose and dark lyrics of this album. I see JD as the dark romantics of music; much like Hawthorne or Melville or Poe, JD journeyed into the deep, intense, and paranoid world of our minds. Curtis said that JD's lyrics were very subjective, and they can be taken any way perceived. But instead of focusing on anger and energy of Punks before them, the band perfected their blend of Goth with mood and substance. If you ever read some of JD's lyrics, it is disturbing yet calming poetry. It is easy to see how the lyrics and melodies can pertain to Curtis' own tormented and troubled life. In such songs as "Atrocity Exhibition", "Passover", "Colony", and "The Eternal", JD paints a portrait of a cold and unforgiving world of pain and loss. As further claim that this was Curtis' parting masterpiece, he may have been speaking of himself when he sang: "Asylums with doors open wide/Where people could pay to see inside/For entertainment they watch his body twist/Behind his eyes he says I still exist/This is the way - step inside."

Featured song
"The Eternal" -
Download a sample (You need Real Audio for this sample).


Valentine's Day By Mr E <2-14-01>
Valentine's Day originated from the Roman holiday of Lupercal. Some of you may think that Valentine's Day is crap, seeing as i'm assuming that most of you aren't seeing anybody. Even if you are seeing somebody, you might think it's crap, probably especially if you're a guy. The guys buy stuff for the girls, but I didn't see any girls giving anything, except maybe a little candy, but the guys spend boat loads of money. All the restaurants are filled, except maybe McDonald's. Everyone that is a couple goes out and it makes the single people sick and depressed. I assume that depressed people get even more depressed thinking no one loves them and then go out and commit suicide. So in conclusion, I think that Valentine's Day causes large number of suicides, which should make the day be outlawed since it endangers many depressed people's lives. Valentine's Day kills people, and wastes guys' money.  Crap. Crap. Crap. Oh. This website is freaky... go to it, and don't forget about Pee Wee Herman.

(Ed. note: I wish people loved me..... :(  Anyways, I believe Yin is wrong about people not being at McDonalds. Both Robby and the Centaurion refer to it as being a "Baller on a budget" & that his date is getting a "happy meal". Oh yea, that "Bert Is Evil Website" is hilarious and also won a Webby award in Cali earlier when it debuted. Many parodies have popped up, but this is the original. Great laughs with the picture section, and be sure to read the Dahmer/Bert e-mails....sure to gross you out. Also, who can forget Pee Wee Herman, the public masturbator. Check out the mug shot of Jesus at mugshots.org. It's pretty funny.) 


Great Experiences at WHS By ÜberMike <2-8-01>
Now is the time where I would like to share some of my most beloved anecdotes of Walton since I've been here as a freshman (someone pick up on the sarcasm please. It doesn't work well over the internet). Anyways, this is just some of the funny stuff that has happened to me here and I'll think of some more to list later on. But if you go to Walton, send us your tales of horror at Walton at thecommoners@lycos.com. (Also for fellow Commoners reading this, email me some of your experiences.)

1) Getting a zero on a quiz: This was in Chemistry last semester, but fortunately the quiz was only out of 20 points. It was over polyatomic ions and their charges, and I completely forgot about it, and consqequently missed all 20 questions regarding them. I was cursing the whole time I got it back, but now that I think about it, it was pretty funny.

2) Doing chemistry labs: Just recently, I did a chem lab on boiling water and placing a sinker in it & finding the heat capacity and whatnot of the sinker. 1 of the questions on the lab worksheet was to find the percent error of the Specific Heat Value I did for Lead, and the correct Specific Heat value. When I plugged in the equation, it turns out I had a 4,905% error on my calculations. Maybe if I had put a decimal spot where that comma is my teacher wouldn't have noticed.....

3) Getting lectured on how to walk: I walk to school every day and it gets pretty cold. But that's besides the point; anyways, I was walking to school one day and I crossed the street when the crossing guard let me and I crossed over to Walton where the buses come in. One day while I was walking, a bus came pulling up & honked at me because I was about to be run over. So I cross over, then some lady comes out of nowhere & gives me a lecture on walking and how the front office hired her to watch me for the past week and if I do that again I'll be sent to the front office. I thought that was funny, because they've been "keeping an eye on me" for a while now and they single me out when every other person who walks to school does the exact same thing (albeit no one else has almost gotten run over). So now I'm forced to cross the street at a certain place while everyone else does the same thing that I did that day.

4) Seeing sacrilegious activities Part 1: In Algebra II last year, there was a kid in my class named David. Everyday he would eat a page out of the New Testament for lunch. I saw it with my own eyes and even before the semester was over, he had eaten the whole thing. He said something about it tasting good with ketchup. I heard from someone else later on that he got sick because the bible he decided to chew on was old and dusty, but I don't know this for a fact.

Part 2: My friend, who's name is Dave, (would have us believe he) is a satanist; besides that, he is also a neo-hippie, a goth, & pretends to be gay, along with a couple of other people, just to bug Friedman in computer programming. Anyways, most days he bashes Christianity or other religions, reads vampiric novels, plays the pen & paper "Vampire: The Masquerade", or lets me listen to some of his satanic death metal, which isn't as all outrageous as it may seem...

Part 3: Just kidding. There aren't that many screwed-up kids at Walton.

Getting poked by a red, plastic pitchfork: Yes, this actually happened to me in the hall-ways a while ago. I was walking by Ms. Martin's room where the intersection allows you to go either down the B, E, or C Hall. As usual, they were congested, and some kid in the middle who was causing the traffic problem with his friends starting poking me with a red, plastic pitchfork. I kept batting it away, but he kept poking me in the shoulder. When I finally got out of reach of him, he turned to start poking other people in the hallways.

Me vs. the Vending Machines Part 1: Some people may remember a while back when some kids stuck trash and junk in the coin slots in the school vending machines. The administration threatened to take away our priveleges to them if this kept up, and it stopped. But before it did, one day I went to the vending machines to get a coke. I put in my change and pressed the button for a Cherry Coke. Unfortunately nothing happened and I didn't realize I had been played for an idiot until a message appeared that said "Enter change". I tried sticking my fingers in the coin slot, which was an act of futility. Then I thought about tipping the machine over to get my money out and maybe a free prize of a couple of cokes, but decided not to due to the fact that I wouldn't be able to get the machine back up. But I vowed revenge one day.

Part 2: At lunch one day I decided to get some Chex Mix. I went to the vending machine near the pizza counter. After I put my money in, I pressed the correct combo for Chex Mix, but the coil that moves the package out didn't move far enough & my bag was stuck in the very front, about to fall off. I decided to rock the machine back & forth which was kind of working at the time, but the teacher on lunch duty that day told me to stop before I break the infernal machine and she got some other teacher to get the bag out of it for me. I am eternally grateful for that.


Chatter Galore Made by Commoner's <2-2-01>
More chats with the Commoner's crew - this is one of those rambling and pointless chats that are the greatest. Chatter Away


The Natural Response Theorized by David Friedman <1-28-01>
Friedman created this theory in Computer Programming a while back. Basically, it states that you can reply to virtually any statement or question with the phrase "naturally". Ex. "Did you see the Super Bowl yesterday?!" "Naturally", or "Ray Lewis was the best player last night!" "Naturally", or "Did you read the homework last night?" "Naturally". Of course it doesn't work with some questions like "What's your name?" or "What's 2+2?" But it works for a majority of sentences and questions, so try it yourself by answering the next 5 questions that someone asks you with the phrase "naturally".



Kill These Words   By ÜberMike <3-17-01>
Well, since Mr. E has been banned from Napster for having the song "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison, my music supply has fallen a bit short. Now, I will have to wait for Yin to use Scour, which should be up at the end of the month. I guess this means I have to stop my Extreme Music Listening event, and turn back to articles about real stuff (as asked by Mr. Er). I could talk about the NCAA Tourney, but I'm going to do that later, so I've decided to turn to a subject that I've been following for the past couple of weeks. When I first heard about the Taliban's orders to destroy all statues including 2 ancient, enormous Buddhist Statues in Afghanistan, I reluctantly waited to lash out against them, because maybe they would realize the grevious mistake they were commiting. But they have carried out their plans and completely destroyed the giant statues, and have now expelled a BBC Correspondent for "biased journalism" criticizing their actions. Ironically, "Taliban" translates to "seekers of knowledge", yet with their Religiously skew views, and extremist philosophy, the Taliban has set the world back in an age of progress. The Taliban destroyed the statues because they said it was "un-Islamic", and they might be worshipped as idols. However, many Muslims around the world have attacked the Taliban for actions that they call are "un-Islamic". Many see the Taliban's actions as extremist, and in contradiction with the Islamic concepts of acceptance and tolerance. World outcry has erupted in the UN, Europe, Asia, America, and the U.K. Even Afghanistan's closest ally, Pakistan, could not dissuade them from destroying these statues, believed to be some of the oldest and tallest Buddhist statues in the world. The U.S., Iran, and Japan have all offered to take the statues off of the Taliban's hands if they wanted, but the Taliban went through with dynamiting the statues. More actions have been taken, such as the UN withdrawal of aid to Afghanistan, but apparantly these hints have gone unheeded. The sad unwillingness of the Taliban to negotiate will probably further polarize and isolate them from the rest of the world. True to Buddhist thought, Buddhists mourn the loss of these statues, but realize that everything on Earth is fleeting and transitory. However, these statues are worth much more than we can imagine, and are part of Afghanistan's culture before the arrival of Islam, as well as a cultural peice of the whole world. If Afghan extremism continues, maybe everything "un-Islamic" will be destroyed, as well as ethnic cleansing to rid Afghanistan of non-Islamics. I hope that maybe the destruction of these statues is just a small price to pay for the Taliban to open their eyes and realize the damage socially and culturally that they have caused.


Spy vs. Spy   By ÜberMike <3-11-01>
The recent discovery of the traitorous actions of Robert Phillip Hanssen (maybe the worst case in 15 years) has shocked the American public, and proven that we are not far from the Cold War era of the stalemate spy vs.spy game that we play with the rest of the world. After the fall of the U.S.S.R, Yeltsin cut back on the number of U.S. spies, as did the U.S. for Russia to show goodwill towards each other. Anyone with common sense can tell you that the gesture was pure b.s. - a meaningless facade that both sides knew would mean nothing in a few years. Once again, with U.S. tensions mounting between us and Iraq and the Balkans, and the brutal massacres of Chechnya, the U.S. has regressed to wondering, "Does Russia supply Iraq or Osama Bin Laden with weapons", and perhaps for Russia, "Is the U.S.A helping and supplying weapons to the rebels in Chechnya?" or the general question that both sides ask, "What technologies does the other side possess or have in the process of developing that we can steal?" With rumors that Hanssen may have given away a secret tunnel built under the Kremlin to eavesdrop from, FBI Director Louis Freeh said that Hanssen's actions have put the U.S.A in a grave situation, and depending on how much Hanssen may have given away in his 16 year on-and-off connection to the Russians, the U.S. may have to build an entirely new foundation for their Russia operations. It is said that he earned $600,000 in cash, 3 diamonds, and $800,000 in a Moscow account ("spymaster's fiction" he scoffs) for the numerous classified documents that he traded with the Russians, only known to them as "B", "Ramon Garcia", or "Jim Baker". However, Hanssen, in his personal life, is a very conservative, religiously devout, closed-mouthed man who lives in a modest house in a modest Virginia neighborhood with a wife and 6 kids - basically, a typical suburban dad. He hasn't spent a lot of the money he has earned for selling U.S. secrets (which would rise suspicions from "back room" investigators), so he must have had ulterior motives. Maybe it's the fact that he was often abused professionally, had a low-paying and unappreciative job of being an FBI operative, which all lead to being disillusioned of a degenerative American society, or that ever since a teenager he wanted to be infamous British mole, Kim Philby. And while Hanssen is now being held in a detention center and may face the trial of a lifetime, no doubt the FBI back room is still looking for more moles who are helping foreign enemies. Ironically, a Russian counter-intelligence agent helped rat out Hanssen, and that just demonstrates that the spy situation is obviously self-perpetuating. No doubt the Russians are looking for the mole who gave away one of their most valuable assets, as the Americans will be when they find out who gave away their man who gave away Hanssen. Other operations will be foiled, other secrets will be given away, and more moles uncovered; The U.S. condemns Hanssen for his treachery and selling out of the American ideals, yet hypocritically, we ask our own citizens to do it to our enemies and even friends. Some may point out that there are still many evils across the world and it's best to keep tabs on your enemies - because who knows when Bin Laden plans on nuking us to Hell? But maybe instead of clandestine operations and undercover recon missions, we could learn to *gasp* work things out in the open; or maybe that line of thinking is too utopian (naive even) to work. The boys up in Washington aren't cynical though - they're doing a good job of "protecting" the "best interests and security" of you and me, right?


Er's Letter   By Er <3-9-01>
Dear staff,

When the Commoner's debuted on the 'net back in November 2000, the newsletter was viewed and utilized as a creative outlet and art and expression were common. The Commoner's thrived as a center of literary craft to which students voyaged to seek their emotions and define their beliefs. But the influence of the mainstream media has eroded this idea and has turned the Commoners into a filthy representation of popular culture and a vulgar depiction of the society of the spectacle. The over-emphasis of the media on award shows, the president, holidays and other such drivel has driven the Commoner's staff to thoughtlessly follow along in their glorification of the celebrity lifestyle and the hollywood version of love, life, and liberty. Übermike and Roe V. Wade embrace cliche consumerism with their hopelessly unhelpful reviews of albums from 20 years ago and their childish fascination with billion dollar film pictures. This bourgeois journalism, a parasite on greed and boredom, has interrputed the once flowing and virtuous creative world of the Commoners and turned it into predictable tediousness. It is imperative for the sake of manssas that you take The Common and News out of The Commoner's Newsletter