The majority of Stone's post-JFK work points to something I didn't initially realize about that one truly great film of his, namely that its frenzied, foaming at the mouth and forgetting to breathe conspiratorial style came from a humanistic fear. Similar to those racialist conspiracies of Atlantis and other myths of ancient white civilizations that are grounded in the fear that non-whites might've advanced technology and world culture, Stone doesn't want to accept that another human being might be so foreign to his own humanistic beliefs as to behave in a manner that would call into question his own humanistic worldview. Thus, he needed to fantasize about the machinations of a Big Other in order to fit the evil that a common man might do and has done into his provincial ontology. This approach de-humanizes evil by making it always one-step removed from its practitioners. As with white racists not having to worry about "savage" technology -- being explained away as the result of their own mythological Aryan ancestors -- humanism is inoculated from evil, since it's always something else causing it, never humanity itself. Instead of looking at how we might be just like them, Oswald, Nixon, Castro, etc. are made to be just like us. Little wonder why Natural Born Killers was so hellbent on blaming the media. A little bit of Saint Augustine's worrying about his dirty thoughts would be good for Stone.
The anthrax attacks came in two waves. The first set were mailed out, as mentioned, one week after 9/11. Letters were mailed to ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Post and AMI (publishers of The National Enquirer). Robert Stevens, an employee of AMI, was the first to die. Following him to their deaths were Thomas Morris Jr, Joseph Curseen, Kathy Nguyen and Ottilie Lundgren. At least 22 were infected with anthrax. The original wave of letters read:
The attempt to make the anthrax-containing letters look like the work of a fanatical Muslim was crude. Few Muslims write the date in the American manner of day/month/Christian Calendar year. In addition, most Muslims say "God is great" if writing in English, not "Allah is great." I'm not suggesting that the anthrax attacks were part of a conspiracy to drum up support for the invasion of Iraq, but they certainly helped win support.
The second wave of letters were dated October 9 and were addressed to Democratic senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy. They were identified by the media as opposed to the Patriot Act over concerns of its violation of civil liberties. The second letters read:
- YOU CAN NOT STOP US.
- WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX.
- YOU DIE NOW.
- ARE YOU AFRAID?
- DEATH TO AMERICA.
- DEATH TO ISRAEL.
- ALLAH IS GREAT.
Ethan Miller is one of the Bay Area's best musicians. He formed the psychedelic/noise, super intense band Comets on Fire in Santa Cruz in 1999. The group has met with much success-- Comets was signed to Sub Pop, has toured all over the world and released four great albums. After relocating to Oakland, around 2004 Ethan brought together another outlet for his creativity, the riff-heavy Howlin' Rain. Howlin' Rain has released two exceptional records and was recently signed to musical luminary Rick Rubin's label American Recordings, which should bring the group's heavy rockin' sound to even higher highs. Check out Howlin' Rain's performance at Amoeba back in March here.
What follows is my recent chat with Ethan about songs that make him cry, his old piano teacher, and why the studio is what really winds his clock.
Miss Ess: Is there someone in particular who recognized and nurtured your musical interest/talent when you were young?