Lifesize, Guest Dan Nielsen, On White Privilege, and On Conspiracy Theories

Welcome to this week’s “zine.”

by Mark M

Below is the first chapbook I did, Lifesize, 1990, spoofing a novel. When someone suggested I do a sequel, it led to a lot of other chapbook spoofs, some quite silly such as an atlas and a phone book.

Back and front cover:

Here is the text:

LIFESIZE

A False Story

by Mark M

The M Press

Racine Racine Racine

LIFESIZE

Copyright © 1990 by Mark M

The M Press
Racine, WI 53403
U. States (of Am.)
Parent Earth

To No One

Acknowledgements

I did this all by myself, so who do you expect me to thank?

Foreword

This is a really short book.

Introduction

It’s really short, I’m telling you.

Preface

Despite having a Foreword, an Introduction, and a Preface, this book is really, really short.

Forward!

Chapter 1

He awoke in the morning. He felt his leg.

Chapter 2

He yelled at his wife, “I’m gonna divorce you!”

Chapter 3

He was getting old. He couldn’t get around so easy anymore.

Chapter 4

Now he was really old.

Chapter 5

He died with clenched teeth. One person cried.

Afterword

Hey, what did I tell ya?

Inside back cover:

Sequels were Herstory and The End.

My favorite chapter in Herstory was:

Chapter 4

[Um, the author couldn’t think of a Chapter 4…

[Sorry.]

Followed, of course, by Chapter 5, with its single sentence: “She got pregnant.”

Here is the “author photo” in The End; it is explaining that the photo is of my late mother, not me, saying an author photo was not available (the photo was from 1978; she is age 49 with Lake Michigan in the background):

Once I was sitting on a bench in the library leafing through something. I was near the new books section which had in it one of these early chapbooks, and I heard a woman say 2-3 times, “Put that back; that’s an adult book,” and I looked up from what I was leafing through to see a boy of about age ten clearly hesitating to put it back because he thought it was suitable for checking out. I kind of thought so too, but I said nothing.

———=———

This week’s guest appearance is Racine native and resident Dan Nielsen whose work over the years has probably appeared in more small press and other places than all of us can count, far beyond what he contributed to the humble zines I did.

The Racine Public Library, in the front area where you check out books, has an ArtRoot Wall Poems of Racine project where Dan’s statement “Can you imagine what it would be like to have no imagination” is the text to a painted mural.

In 1993, Dan and I collaborated on a chapbook he called Nerve Bundles consisting of some experimental writing of his and my art.

A prefatory statement of his read: “Nerve Bundles is my stab at ‘experimental writing.’ I have no idea what ‘experimental writing’ means. Maybe it means having nothing to write about and writing anyway.”

Dan and I made three CDs under the name Inept: Inept is Cool (1995) and We’re Less Popular than Jesus Now (1996). A final CD, in 2003, was called Beyond Zero. These consisted of jams and also actual songs written by Dan.

Also, I assisted Dan, ca. 2000, on a short film he made whose title I unfortunately cannot recall. (VHS only. I cannot find my copy!)

Dan and his partner, Georgia, musically collaborate under the name Sugar Whiskey.

Dan also paints and makes collages some of which grace my walls.

I “appropriated” this artwork by Dan originally appearing as a cover to his Blank Gun Silencer (see Jenny Mauer’s interview of Dan about that here) as a front page to the MayorJune 1994 THTICT:

Dan’s thought of the days:

The Arbitrary Nature

of Existence

Is an Effusion

which Overlaps Function

with Its Flaps

Five questions for Dan:

Q: Keeping in mind that I am not a certified psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist, what was your relationship with your mother?

A: I remember my mother fondly, but not accurately.

Q: Have you ever met anyone famous?

A: On November 8, 1979, at The Palms in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I asked David Johansen why Tony Machine wasn’t playing drums. It seems he had a broken arm.

Q: Any thoughts on why you’re not a global phenomenon?

A: I secretly believe that I am talented enough to be famous but also lazy enough to do nothing about it.

Q: You write FIVES. Could you give us five examples? 

A:

(1)

I am a self-described

White Mediocratist

I believe that God

intended the white race

to be mediocre

(2)

I don’t have

a lot of gall

but what little

I have

is unmitigated

(3)

I’d sooner

destroy

the planet

than

carpool

(4)

I packed up all

my cares and woes

which left no room

for shoes

or clothes

(5)

you’d be great

at catching birds

said the cat

no interest

said the squirrel

Q: Do you have any controversial ideas?

A: The Bible and the Constitution are useless artifacts. Don’t burn or ban, but most definitely do not use these as self-help books or guides in decision making.

The United States has three distinct political ideologies, left, center, and right. Let’s accept this and use it for the good of everyone. I propose three parties. (Name them whatever you like.) Three candidates the voter ranks one, two, or three. If no direct winner, a coalition is formed (like in the civilized world!). Everyone 18 and over votes, and if a child shows interest, he, she, or they can be much younger and vote. And everyone votes on everything all the time. And everyone gets a free portable voting machine.

Bonus question:  Do you have a podcast?

YES! Dan Nielsen with FIVE Minutes

Thanks for listening!

(c) Dan Nielsen

———=———

Back to Mark M:

“White Privilege”

I would like to make some remarks about the term “white privilege.”

What the term seeks to name is utterly real, but I think the word “privilege” is problematic as it puts a white person on the defensive right off the bat.

If one wants to “sell” someone on an idea, it doesn’t help to immediately put them on the defensive.

So few people feel privileged (even if they are), and if one wants to “win friends and influence people,” putting them on the defensive is hardly a best first step.

And the term usually needs to be explained in order for people to accept it:

“…when that feminist told me I had ‘white privilege,’ I told her that my white skin didn’t do shit to prevent me from experiencing poverty.”

Above is from:

Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person by Gina Crosley-Corcoran.

And often we are actually talking about rights not privileges, such as the right of anyone with a license to drive in whatever neighborhood he/she likes no matter one’s race.

What term would be better? Hard to say.

Maybe “white advantage”?

The word “advantage” often comes up when defining the privilege part of the term “white privilege.”

Finally, when a black person learns that Native Americans are killed by police at even higher rates than blacks, are they supposed to feel a bit a privilege relative to Native Americans?

I, for one, would hardly expect them to.

———=———

(Now, what would Oliver Stone do?)

On conspiracy theories

“Now, I’m not into conspiracy theories, except the ones that are true…”

–Michael Moore, Dude, Where’s My Country? (2003)

It seems like some people will believe in a conspiracy theory simply because it’s a conspiracy theory and others won’t believe in any conspiracy theory.

I’m with Michael Moore; I feel some discernment is in order.

Some conspiracy theories are simply preposterous, such as the QAnon ones, and others are easy to refute.

(Re QAnon, people with a right wing authoritarian personality, such as people who dig Trump, have difficulty judging evidence, they tend to hold stubbornly to their beliefs even when presented with evidence that suggests their beliefs are wrong. This is particularly true concerning beliefs that underpin the identity of the group. If anything, when confronted with contradictory evidence, their beliefs are often reinforced. And the ideas in authoritarians’ minds are poorly integrated. They tend to hold contradictory beliefs in their minds to a degree far greater than what is normal for people. High-RWAs simply absorb ideas from their peers without thinking about how they fit together.)

Take the idea that the U.S. never actually made it to the moon as an easy-to-refute conspiracy theory.

With six moon landings, that means six times they needed to fake us all out.

And it was a stroke of conspiratorial brilliance to include a failed mission, Apollo 13, and even astronaut deaths with Apollo 1 during a prelaunch test.

OK, are any conspiracy theories true?

Some appear to better explain the known facts than the standard story.

I think these are true conspiracy theories:

The assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, RFK and 9-11.

With JFK, if Oswald acted entirely alone, what’s with the continued withholding of documents on the part of the CIA? These documents should support the standard story, that of the Warren Report. So release them already and help prove the lone-gunman theory, right? It’s only been nearly 60 years.

Aside from benign secrets, such as planning a surprise birthday party, secrets indicate guilt or shame.

A number of people who gave testimony to the Warren Commission, when they saw their testimony in print, said “I didn’t tell them that!”

When a person changes their story, suspicion is justifiably aroused. Which story, if either, is the true one? When a commission alters peoples’ testimony, that is directly indicative of cover-up, that truth-telling is not the purpose of the commission.

Also, a good number of people didn’t even come forward until years later because they saw things that didn’t fit the standard story and were afraid to come forward.

So, the Warren Commission report is, at best, incomplete.

Everyone forgets that the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 found “probable conspiracy.” And the committee was up against a time limit; to get off the hook, the CIA simply stonewalled until the clock ran out.

But the HSCA had other flaws besides incompleteness. It had the majority of primary documents sealed for 50 years under congressional rules.

That is a device to protect the guilty, to keep their secrets until after they’re quite dead and, by definition, then entirely out of reach of the law.

The book JFK and the Unspeakable by James W. Douglass has a great deal of explosive information and I heartily recommend it. Here are some items:

Oswald told his wife and friends he liked and admired Kennedy.

Once defector Oswald returned to the U.S. from the U.S.S.R., the Soviets (presumably the KGB) weren’t going to be played for fools; they kept tabs on him.

They could see what apparently he could not: he was being set up as the patsy to a JFK assassination, and they were concerned that they were going to be saddled with the blame for it.

They hired an agent (named in the book) to confront Oswald and if Oswald did not cease, to kill him.

The agent confronted Oswald who was evasive but did not kill him.

The agent now was in danger from the Soviets for not killing Oswald. He figured his best bet was to do what he did next:

He went to a bank, shot at the wall up by the ceiling, went to his car, and waited to be arrested figuring the safest place for him to be would be prison.

There were two arrests at the Texas Theatre that day; one arrestee was walked out the front door where most of the people gathered, and one arrestee was walked out the back door where at least one witness went due to the throngs at the front.

The man who ran the theater’s concessions (named in the book) was asked by Douglass if there were two arrests, and he replied, “You know, no one ever asked me that before.” He went on to say there were two look-alike individuals arrested in the theater.

An Air Force man (named in the book), seeking to return from Washington to his home in Colorado, sought a ride on an Air Force plane going that way and was put on a flight. During the flight an emotionless voice came over the PA announcing Kennedy had been shot.

The plane took a detour, landing on a dirt runway near a river outside of Dallas, and two men boarded.

Later, when the Air Force man saw TV footage of arrested Oswald, he thought, “That’s one of the guys who got on the plane outside of Dallas!”

The book The Devil’s Chessboard by David Talbot reports that “suspicions of a conspiracy were particularly strong in France, where President de Gaulle himself had been the target of CIA machinations and had survived a barrage of gunfire on his own limousine.”

De Gaulle said, “What happened to Kennedy is what nearly happened to me. His story is the same as mine. … It looks like a cowboy story, but it’s only an OAS [Secret Army Organization] story. The security forces were in cahoots with the extremists….”

De Gaulle also said, “[The Americans] don’t want to know. They don’t want to find out. They won’t allow themselves to find out.”

When Kwame Nkrumah [of Ghana and overthrown by a CIA-backed coup] was shown a copy of the Warren Report, he turned to the title page. He then pointed to the name of Allen Dulles [CIA head that JFK had fired]. He returned it to the American ambassador and simply said, “Whitewash.”

These next three are linked to more info:

Malcolm X. New evidence points to the New York Police Dept., the District Attorney, the FBI…

MLK. The King family doesn’t think James Earl Ray killed MLK, and for good reason.

RFK. More shots were fired than fit into Sirhan’s gun. This woman was there according to several witnesses and was earlier seen in the company of Sirhan. As the woman was running to the fire exit along with a man, she turned to witness Sandra Serrano, laughing, and said. “We shot him! We shot him.” Astonished, Serrano asked “who did you shoot?” and she replied “Senator Kennedy!”

And now we come to 9-11.

First, please be aware that the standard story is a conspiracy on the part of the hijackers.

So, with 9-11, it’s a matter of choose your conspiracy theory.

Few people know that a 3rd Manhattan building collapsed that day, WTC Building 7, which was not hit by a plane. How did the hijackers do that?

The Empire State Building was hit by a B-25 bomber in 1945 with attendant fire and it didn’t collapse.

Indeed, until 9-11, no other steel-framed skyscraper was ever felled by fire though many burned hotter and longer than the 3 WTC buildings.

And yet within hardly 12 hours on 9-11, three such buildings fell supposedly due to fires.

The BBC reported the collapse of WTC 7 before it collapsed; who gave them that news item to report?

Lookit what these two dummies had to say about 9-11:

“David Ray Griffin has done admirable and painstaking research in reviewing the mysteries surrounding the 9-11 attacks. It is the most persuasive argument I have seen for further investigation of the Bush administration’s relationship to that historic and troubling event.”

Howard Zinn blurb for Griffin’s The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions

And from the same book:

“We have no a priori basis, accordingly, for assuming that the Bush administration would not have intentionally killed thousands on 9/11 [in order to make us hate Muslims and then “justify” wars –Mark]. This position has been endorsed by Daniel Ellsberg, who knows something about what U.S. administrations would do. Asked whether an administration would be “capable, humanly … of engineering such, a provocation,” Ellsberg, who served in the administration of  Lyndon Johnson, replied: “Yes, … I worked for such an administration myself,” referring to the fact that Johnson “put destroyers in harm’s way in the Tonkin Gulf … several times, . . . hoping that it would lead to a confrontation.” With regard to the evidence that 9/11 was engineered by the Bush administration, Ellsberg said: “I find… parts of it quite solid and there’s no question in my mind that there’s enough evidence there to justify a very comprehensive and hard-hitting investigation of a kind that we’ve not seen, with subpoenas, general questioning of people, and raising the release of a lot of documents.”

Intersecting Facts and Theories on 9-11” is an excellent summary comparing the standard 9-11 story to a conspiracy, a conspiracy that appears to have been a dusted-off version of the JFK-era “Operation Northwoods,” which was a proposed conspiracy concerning creating a pretext to invade Cuba that JFK, sensibly, did not allow to be carried out.

Why were these Israelis caught celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers with their view of the Manhattan skyline on 9-11? The police were called and they were arrested and eventually simply released to Israel where one of them said on television that they were in New York that day, “To document the event.” Foreknowledge.

Finally, few know that the Lincoln assassination involved a conspiracy for which a number of people were hanged.

Booth succeeded in his role as we all well know.

The attendant conspiratorial goals involving others killing the Vice President and the Secretary of State failed.

And what’s with the January 6 investigation if all conspiracy theories are false? On Wednesday, July 7, 2022, I received a postal mailing from Common Cause concerning January 6. It reads in part, “We must investigate and prosecute the politicians behind this criminal conspiracy to ensure justice is served.”

Don’t let the descriptor “conspiracy theory” stop thought as it has at least ever since 1963.

Postscript:

Two “conspiracy” films pointing out that what you put into your mouth, chew, swallow, and digest can have an enormous environmental impact far greater than not eating flesh (links below are to their respective facts pages):

Cowspiracy

Seaspiracy

The End.

Next-week preview (subject to change): “Poem,” Observations and Thinkings, Guest Filmmaker Tony Ramos, “Fighting Words,” Nonviolent Communication

Boilerplate: As part of my community project as Racine Writer in Residence, I hereby invite Racine-area people to send me prose or poems of 250 words or less for me to consider for inclusion in my posts as a “guest appearance.” I don’t know as I write this if this will cause a flood of responses or hardly any responses at all. If a “flood,” I will obviously have to pick and choose. If you want, also send a photo and a very short “bio.” You will retain the copyright for the material you submit. Send to m.mk at att.net with “Racine WiR” in the subject line. Thank you.

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