An Inclusive Litany


"Today" co-host Bryant Gumbel to Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), March 15, 1995:
Perhaps emboldened by November's results and maybe even covered by the public's fascination with the O.J. Simpson trial, Republicans have succeeded in attacking a variety of social programs without much of a public outcry. Are you disappointed that the public seems to—I don't know if "care so little" is the appropriate term—but not seem to care as much as they have in the past?

"Today" substitute host Matt Lauer to political panelists Peggy Noonan and Bob Herbert, March 27, 1995:

If this is, as many Democrats are claiming, a war on the poor and children and the elderly, why haven't we heard more outrage from the general public? Are we too concerned with what's happening in a Los Angeles courtroom to know what's happening in the Congress?


In Williamsport, Pennsylvania, police arrested 23-year-old Eric Christiansen for riding a skateboard while under the influence of alcohol.

Richard Taruskin in the Atlantic Monthly, February 1995:
On February 24, 1975, less than half a year before his death, having listened to a symphony by his former pupil Boris Tishchenko and said little, Shostakovich offered a sort of apology that might be taken as his Aesopian credo.

"I am generally closemouthed. I have neither the wish nor the ability to analyze or discuss the pieces I hear. I just listen to the music people give me to listen to. Either I like it or I don't. That's all."

Well, that's not quite all. There is more here than the doer's quarrel with the talker, more than the artist's familiar insistence on sensory immediacy and pleasure over secondary, rationalized response—though in this overanalytical age of ours that's a hint we might do well to consider at times. There is simply too much in Shostakovich's instrumental music that is strongly marked—too much that resonates, like Beethoven's or Tchaikovsky's music, with characteristic and functional genres, with the conventional iconicity of emotion, with intertextual allusion, with sheer violence—for us to doubt that at bottom he shared his society's faith in the reality of the latent content. Yet unlike the socialist-realist critics who tried to catalogue and thus circumscribe his "imagery" and "intonations," and unlike the more recent biographical paraphrasts (including the one who scandalously appropriates his name), Shostakovich insisted on keeping the latent content latent—and keeping it labile.

After school officials in Billings, Montana, found that they could save $27,000 a year by buying milk from a Wyoming contractor, Montana dairy farmers complained that this was a way to avoid Montana's higher state-controlled milk prices.

Carter Loar, a senior at Park View High School in Sterling, Virginia, was suspended from school for ten days and ordered to attend a three-day substance-abuse treatment program after he freshened his breath with a swig of mouthwash prior to talking to a girl. His parents objected that he was merely practicing cleanliness, but school officials stuck by the rules: no liquid containing alcohol in class.

Citizen activists in Bexley, Ohio, are fighting to save a local adult video store—not because they are overly fond of porno tapes, but because they'd rather have the video store than the establishment that would replace it: a McDonald's.

In defending the $4.4 million bill charged by Rodney King's legal team for his suit against the city of Los Angeles, one of his lawyers commented on the time and effort required to prepare King for talk-show appearances following his arrest with a transvestite hooker. "To go out there and say that King was not some kind of pervert took a lot of technique and craft," he said.

A new casino set to open in Las Vegas will feature save-the-planet slot machines. They feature electronic boards overhead that tick away the acreage of rain forest left in the world. Proceeds of the slot machines will be donated to environmental groups.

Michael Sneed in the Chicago Sun-Times, January 10, 1995:
Over a plate of heart-healthy American cuisine, Hillary Rodham Clinton took full responsibility for the failure of the health-care program she helped design... and said she was "sorry."

  • How do I know? I lunched with the first lady on Monday as one of 11 journalists/columnists from across the country invited to the Yellow Room of the White House.

  • Hillary on health care: "I regret very much that the efforts on health-care reform were badly misunderstood and taken out of context... and then used politically against the administration and the Democrats. I take responsibility for that and am very sorry about that. I think it is in large measure our failure to explain to people what was at stake in simple terms." ...

  • The conversation: lively and spirited.

  • The surprise: Hillary is pretty. Very pretty. And her hairdo of choice Monday was very North Shore.

In London, Mr. Darren Miles is suing McDonald's for breach of contract and compensation for a burn he received on his arm when unexpectedly hot filling squirted from an apple pie that he had bitten.

Actress Jane Fonda, noted for her strong feminist views, told an interviewer that when traveling overseas, she finds she can get what she wants by crying. "If you're ever in a situation where you're not getting served or you can't get what you need, just cry," she said, noting that the technique worked during a visit to Moscow when she could not get served in a restaurant.

A Reuters report from London:
They're small, but mighty.

Termite flatulence is to blame for as much as one-fifth of the world's methane, one of the "greenhouse gases" causing global warming, scientists said Thursday.

The termites produce about 88 million tons of methane a year as they munch their way through decayed trees and other forest soil, Paul Eggleton of Britain's Natural Environment Research Council said.

"It's a lot of methane but there are a lot of termites," Eggleton said in a telephone interview. There are more than 3,000 species of termite in the tropics.

Eggleton said it was not the termites that destroy houses that were to blame. "It's the ones that actually feed in the soil that produce methane," he said.

Eggleton, a termite biologist, and colleagues were taking part in a five-year project to find out how many termites there are and how much methane they produce.

The Vancouver Sun, January 7, 1995:
It's hard to believe the sex symbol for an entire generation—and then some—is pushing 60. According to the latest edition of Who's Who, the man who wrote Me and Bobby McGee and gave it to his then-lover Janis Joplin to record, will turn 59 this June 22.

But Kristofferson seems to just get better with age.

"The more I learn, the more I feel the obligation to do more. If you know the truth, or a truth and you don't speak it, then you are part of the lie," he says, blue eyes atwinkle behind his slightly tinted lenses.

And what truths would Kris Kristofferson want you to know?

First, he'd like you to know that Indian activist Peltier, convicted of killing two FBI agents at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in 1976, is innocent.

He'd like you to know that the FBI and the CIA "killed them all"—meaning every political activist working for positive change in the '60s and '70s—to establish a strangle-hold on the American political system, with their victims including the Kennedys and Martin Luther King.

He'd like you to know that the Declaration of Independence was written by white male land-owners, "because they were the only ones who could vote."

He'd also like you to know that he has no illusions about what his outspoken beliefs may have cost him.

"I haven't had a significant role in a motion picture since Heaven's Gate," he says.

[Ed.: Heaven's Gate, a 1980 film in which Kristofferson starred and which cost $36 million to make, recovered only 3 percent of what it would have taken for it to break even, making it Hollywood's biggest box-office fiasco ever.]

Former Smithsonian Museum of Natural History employee Gary T. Brown won $400,000 in a human rights lawsuit after his boss repeatedly referred to him as an "old fart."

Columnist Florence King relates a strange complaint made against the makers of a televised laxative advertisement. The commercial features a full roll of unused toilet paper, along with a sign reading "Day 1 ... Day 2 ... Day 3 ... Day 4 ..." After the laxative is shown and extolled, the roll is shown unrolling at top speed, proof that the laxative works. Feminists complained that the ad addressed constipated men—thus implying that constipated women were not only unimportant, but invisible.

Dade County, Florida, installed an $18,500 ramp to make it easier for disabled people to bathe in the nude on the half-mile "clothing-optional" strip of Haulover Beach. Activists demanded the ramp after the 1990 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and, under the law, county officials had to comply.

According to the Associated Press, Dade County also spent $1,700 to buy two "beach wheelchairs" and is planning to spend an additional $30,000 to build special parking spaces that are closer to the beach. Fred Shotz, a disabled man who was interviewed while wearing no clothes, told the AP that he was "really pleased that it's here, obviously."

Thomas D. Wallace, a black man from Oklahoma, is suing the manufacturer and retailer of a CD-ROM encyclopedia he'd bought because it turned up references to the word "nigger"—mostly in the titles of books and articles such as Joseph Conrad's novel The Nigger of Narcissus. Wallace had been searching for references to the Niger River but mistyped, leading, he says, to $40 million in emotional distress.

At the University of Pennsylvania, a black female student has filed a grievance with the Office of Affirmative Action after being denied entrance to a meeting of a campus political group, White Women Against Racism. Explaining the no-blacks-allowed policy of White Women Against Racism, a representative said, "We believe racism is a white problem."

From the secret rule book for Los Solidos Nation, a Hartford, Connecticut, street gang that police allege is involved in drug production and dealing, prostitution, extortion, and murder. According to an introductory note, the book is "never to be touched by hands that are dirty" and should be "read and studied" by each gang member "at least twice a week." The gang, which was established in 1991, is Hartford's largest; police estimates of its membership range from five hundred to two thousand. Eighteen Solidos were indicted in October 1994 for racketeering and are awaiting trial.


Every member of Los Solidos Nation will have a folder at Headquarters containing his photo, contact, address, phone number, position, age, etc. The photo is for identification purposes. The contract is required for your safety as well as the Family's. It gives us your 100 percent pledge to do your duties for the L.S.N. Any violation of this contract will result in termination, beat down, or even death, depending on the seriousness of the violation.

A signed contract also means that the Family is obligated to provide money, clothes, backup, lawyers, bondsmen, and so forth in your times of need. A contract also means that you say nothing about the L.S.N. to anyone outside the Family. Doing so will be a Class A violation.


A van will pick up our scientists and take them to the main laboratory for the making of our products.

A. Upon entering the lab you will be required to sign in.

B. Each package will be composed, weighed, and stamped at the lab. Then the packages will be dropped off for the clockers [dealers].

C. Any lab worker can be subjected to a search at any time. Females will be searched by a head female and males will be searched by a head male.

D. Workers will be paid on a weekly scale. If overtime is necessary, a bonus will be paid.

E. There will be no phone calls and no half days at the lab. Full time only!

F. Security plays a vital role in our success, and we will not tolerate anyone speaking about our business or bragging to anyone outside the Family.

G. Absolutely no lab worker is to use the product being processed.


The collector's job consists of picking up all proceeds for all jobs nightly.

A. There will be a time set nightly for the collector's arrival so that the proceeds will be ready.

B. Collectors will be held responsible for all money in their possession between pickup and arrival.

C. After the last pickup is made, the collectors must notify the accountant and wait for his arrival. He will count all the proceeds before they are locked away.

D. The accountant will notify Headquarters of the amount from each division and the total amount taken in.


After Hours is designed as a club-type area for people looking for a party-type atmosphere.

A. Brothers and Sisters will be working as bartenders and waitresses. Enforcers will be present to keep peace within After Hours and to throw out those who can't control themselves.

B. Everyone entering After Hours must leave all weapons outside. People entering will be patted down for weapons.

C. Brothers will be posted outside to watch for the police and to keep the area calm.

D. A few brothers will also be assigned to After Hours to sell their product.


Roughly once a month there will be a gathering of all Solidos and their families. The gathering is held to strengthen Family ties and to give us a chance to meet Brothers and Sisters from across the state. It shall be a day for celebrating our love for one another. Cookouts, sports, games, and music will all be provided.

A. Members of the L.S.N. are entitled to bring the whole family—mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and so forth—as long as they are not affiliated with any other Family.

B. We guarantee a safe environment for everyone who attends. We will provide the necessary security. No weapons will be tolerated at the gathering.

C. Transportation will be provided for those who need it.


As a Nation of Solid Brothers, our plans for the future are to have a chain of stores, have Brothers as lawyers, doctors, and politicians, and have our families be well-off. But we have to start slowly and climb this ladder of success and fortune gradually.

Our main objective at this point is to expand our Family into the mainstream of society. Therefore it will be good for you to bring your cousins, uncles, brothers, and friends into the Family so we can secure the backbone of our empire. In the process, we will be cleaning up our communities by making them into one big Family and giving our children a safer environment to grow up in.

The family and friends you grew up with are now addicted to drugs. Don't turn your back on them. Look out for them, put them in rehab, and give them a reason to better themselves. Show them there is someone who cares for them and a family they can belong to if they straighten themselves out. The majority of young males in our communities today don't have any family. That's why they're out running around and acting all crazy and foolish. But if you give them an opportunity to be part of a family, they will always be grateful to you and look up to you. They will be the kind of Brothers who will always be loyal to you and to the Family.