conversations

Tonight, I went to a Conversations at the Hammer with Oliver Stone and David Corn. Yes, that’s Oliver Stone as in JFK, Platoon, and even Alexander. And David Corn, commentator for the left on the occasional TV show, and investigative reporter for The Nation.

This was not a debate. This was just a conversation, because they were both on the same side of the issue. Which, was, of course, The War In Iraq.

Let me just add that I absolutely love living in a city which has events like this. Being able to sit in on a conversation between two of America’s best known liberal thinkers is amazing. And it was in a beautiful space, the open air atrium of the Hammer Museum at UCLA. There must have been a thousand people there, listening intently, on a soft summer night in Westwood.

I took notes, on my Blackberry, because I’m a huge nerd. But some of you might be interested, because they had a lot to say on media and public perception, on reporting and news and the War In Iraq. Here’s the notes I took, typos and all:


Corn begins by drawing a parallel between the cops and firefighters and Valerie Plame as a woman protecting us from the world. He describes them as the true patriots. He asks if the public servants are not getting shafted out of their due as Americans.

Stone brings up the damage that is done to people who go to war and how it comes back into our society.

Corn cites Platoon, and says that the current administration had no idea what to do post invasion. He says that notg only did they forget to think about Iraq, but about the effects on America and that it will take years to recover.

Stone replies that he thought we had learned from the 60s, and that it is shocking to Vietnam vets. This is worse than Vietnam because it is a civil war. Perception of American awesomeness factor. Contrast Alexander, who adapted to the East rather than stay imperialist, looting Westerner. He left alliances, treaties , peace. Alexander stays with enemies, would not send others + let Osama get away.

Discussion of Alexander. Plug.

Stone asks what the future is for investagative journalism.

Corn says good journalism is investigative. He is pessimistic about media. In past, fewer streams meant more impact, hard to avoid news. Good reporting now is hard to bypass. Makes it easy for administration to ignore things. Much material of Corn’s book is drawn from mainstream media. The untruth is the story itself – less investigative. If Americans believe in cynicism, when stories come along that are outrageous, they disappear. Media culture chews things up so fast, short shelf life for good stories. In old days, stories could galvanize, but now they are lost in shuffle.

Stone Cites My Lai.

Corn tells story of vet who gets home, hears of that, takes the spotlight. Contributed to anger and opposition to the war. First anti John Wayne image. Says that Bush administration is in denial.

Stone lists the wars of this century which have not been well covered and the things that have not been brought to the attention it should be.

Corn says that media is too biased iin favor of official agenda in order to avoid conflict. Non embedded reporters have different perspective on reporting. There are only 3 Time magazine reporters in Iraq. Some reprters are doing well, but cutback on foreign reporting makes it difficult. Also, news and entertaiinment blended now.

Stone replies that since news is now for profit, will only report popular stories. Power and money – Corn calls it the profitization of America.

Both agree that movies are too much about money and that they try to enforce one line of thought.

Corn talks about The Nation, and how he’s needed to provide entertainment on FOX. He suggested that there were alternatives to the war, and the conservatives used emotional tangents in debate.

It was a really interesting discussion – even if, when I asked, they didn’t quite believe in the blood for oil theory.

I planned to go from there to a show at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, but I made the mistake of taking Santa Monica crosstown. I should have cut up to Sunset, or else over to La Brea and up via Highland, because it just took forever to get through WeHo. My friend Jonathan had spoken very highly of the artist, Ian Moore, so I was disappointed that I didn’t get there in time.

I could have, instead, gone to one of two events within a few blocks of Hotel Cafe, on the Hollywood strip. The Inter-Division Captain’s Meeting was tonight, and I could have joined some of the kickball crew down at Big Wang’s. Or I could have gone to the event I was on the list for, which was one of the guys from VHS or Beta (who are actually really good, in a Hot Hot Heat way) at Mood.

But no, I was tired, so I came home, and managed to lose an hour trying to get my BlackBerry to work with the Internet (it doesn’t because it’s hacked from T-Mobile to Cingular, courtesy of Big Scary Mike), so now I’m short sleep again. Does not bode well for getting things done tomorrow. Sigh.

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