Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Counter-culture Journals (文革)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Publishing the Public Voice Part 2

This is an excerpt from my latest book: How a left-wing journalist survives the Bible Belt. It is an autobiography on my career as a writer. In 1980 to 1981 I put out this mildly left-wing news paper in Wichita.

Public Voice

With all that tabloid paper experience I got from the Public Notice, it was easy for me to start up my own paper when I moved back to Wichita, in 1980. I organized and put together a tabloid newspaper of my own, which I called The Wichita Public Voice.
Some of the things I learned I would later discard. For example, the attitude at the Public Notice was to focus on local news only. That was suppose to allow us to focus on issues we could actually work on for change.
As for foreign news, I was told that the daily news paper, The Lawrence Journal World (in my home town it would be The Wichita Eagle) carried national news and there was no way we could compete with that. Years later I change my mind. For one thing The Wichita Eagle did not always cover important international news. A good example of that were articles about the Shining Path (Communist Party of Peru or PCP) guerrillas. By the end of the 1980s the Shining Path was winning a people's war effort in Peru. But a lot of mainstream newspapers didn't cover much of it. That was especially true if the articles showed a direct involvement from US troops. The Wichita Eagle didn't cover that war but just 52 miles away was the town of Hutchinson and The Hutchinson News DID. In a news paper I ran almost 10 years later, I reposted what the The Hutchinson News printed in another news paper I was running at the time, the South Hutchinson Post Dispatch.[1] After the 1990s I was getting a lot of information and articles from political parties across the world. I was able to get articles that foreign people and political parties wrote about their own political struggles. So I realized that a news reporter or a journalist/editor/publisher can post articles about foreign affairs that the local mainstream paper doesn't and won't cover. We CAN compete with The Wichita Eagle (as well as Time, Newsweek and others) after all.
As for the politics of the Public Notice, it had a left-wing slant, but was not openly Marxist. It had more of a liberal slant, although some of the supporters and workers on this paper were openly Marxist. I wanted to print articles from a moderate left position. I didn't want the paper to seem far left. I wanted it to look like a homey local news paper, and that is what it looked like.
I typed it on an old Manuel typewriter. I was living at my parents home so I worked in a corner of the basement. As with the Public Notice I also used rub on letters and old pictures from magazines. At first I tried to sell it, but I realized that would hold me back real bad. So I gave it way free, had a subscription list and I sold ads to try and pay for it.
From time to time I had several people work with me, both as reporters and layout people. As with the Public Notice, I focused on some local issues and the first main one was Wichita's "Annexation Boom!"[2] I was following the anti-growth message carried by the Public Notice. One problem I had with that was that a lot of liberal people, I would later get to know and make friends with, all wanted to annex wealthier people, whom they wanted to pay their fair share of city taxes. And many of the people I was allying myself with where actually conservative land owners. I had not written up a comprehensive anti-growth position to explain why I was so against the city expanding itself.

Years later I wrote a short position on the need for a no-growth economy:

Let’s demand a “no growth” economy for all people—everywhere


At times a Marxist must look ahead with some new and modern ideas. One such an idea is in moving away from a growth economy to a maintenance economy. Many political activists call it simply the “no growth economy.”
While intellectuals have heard of it, for many common citizens is totally over their heads. I ran as a local town councilmember and I called for a "controlled growth economy" over the traditional "growth economy." I'm sure that those who read it were scratching their heads and wondering: "WHAT!"
It is time to bring about the debate over a maintenance economy vs. growth. To most people abandoning a growth economy seems insane. Who ever heard of such a thing? How can a local economy be healthy without growth?
And yet this debate rose up during the rise of the Green Party[3] of Germany, in the late 1970s, with discussions on “Sustainable Living.”[4]
The reasons to abandon growth based economies are really simple. Growth requires resources that have to expand, and keep expanding in order to work. That means more power (gasoline, electricity) more land, more building of structures, more water, more sewer, more roads, vehicles and everything else we need to live. It can't remain stable, it has to grow. The problem is that all these resources will run out eventually. And that day is probably sooner than most people realize.
One thing that needs to be looked at is population growth. For many Americans putting the breaks on population is the equivalent to devil worship. Many Christians will quote the Bible; "As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it."[5] In Kansas and other parts of the Bible Belt people take that book seriously and would never hear of challenging it. But for those people who believe that science has a place in our lives, it is time to challenge the idea of unlimited population growth. Once again, we must consider all the resources needed for a growing population, including homes, food and jobs.
There are a few people who will argue that this issue has nothing to do with Marxism. I really don't care if it does. We have to share the world and if we grow beyond our means we will die out as a species, or we will end up in a barbaric war over simple resources. In some ways we see that through today’s imperialism. Much of our so called “terrorism problem” stems from the lack of basic needs[6] of people in less developed third world countries. So I don't care what Karl Marx had to say about this. No growth is what we need. It is a lot like blowing up a balloon. If seeing the balloon get bigger all the time is the point of having it, eventually it will pop. There is no way I can keep putting air in a balloon indefinitely. That idea defies simple scientific logic.
The debate has already begun. For example from Population Matters:[7] 

"On 19 April, an audience gathered in the House of Commons for the launch event of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Limits to Growth.
Speaking first, Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion and chair of the new APPG, discussed the group’s aim of bringing discussion of limits on economic growth into the political mainstream by hosting debates, generating new policy ideas for a post-growth economy, and commissioning new secondary research.
In essence, this is meant to be an insurgent think tank within Westminster.
Ms. Lucas emphasized the political challenge of convincing other politicians, and the public, who are so accustomed to promises of growth, that we as a society have enough already.  Beyond a certain level of prosperity, economic growth does not lead to greater societal or personal wellbeing. Moreover, economic growth is becoming uneconomic on its own terms, she argued, in that the cost of repairing its social and environmental side-effects, such as climate change, is greater than the primary value growth delivers.
Ms. Lucas argued that efficiency improvements alone will not be sufficient to cope with increasing consumption alongside a growing population; the economy needs to stabilize and maybe even contract."

So the idea is getting around. It is still in the discussion stage. “No growth” is among the many ideas that the capitalist system, and all of its industrial leaders, politicians and pundits are working hard to suppress. An example of that is the present day capitalist thinkers the Koch Brothers, David and Charles. They funded a massive climate denial machine[8] to help keep them and other industrialists from having to spend their money on changing the way they do business. Surely as educated as they are they realize that climate change is real. But, as I have often heard people say; "Why worry about that? You will be dead long before that becomes a problem." And there is a clear connection between a no growth economy and cleaning up the environment. Both issues include painfully needed changes in the way the economy works. Both may lead to smaller profits in the short run. However, without changes our economy eventually implodes and humanity is doomed. And some of us do care what happens to the people who live hundreds of years into the future after we are gone.
As long as we adopt a sustainable world, let’s adopt a fair one. Let’s not have $billionaires and wealthy people getting everything they want in and above abundance while others settle for a few crumbs or even less that what they need. There is no excuse of the US, the wealthiest country in the world, using its empire to make sure its people have all the best, and yet we have people going without health care and dying from that.
We need a FAIR sustainable future for all of humanity.[9]

I had another article on that subject, DEVELOPERS: Go WEST.
Also in that issue we had an article about a self help clinic, a letter about human rights, an article about Martin Luther King and an article about the Wichita Wings, a soccer team in Wichita. The issue included a cartoon of the Rev. Dr. Cabbage, an ongoing cartoon serious about a religious right character that I came up with, based on the Dr. Carroll from the movie Reefer Madness.[10] In that movie Josef Forte plays Dr. Alfred Carroll, a fire and brimstone character who narrates much of the film. There was also some humor as in an ad for "Bonzo's School of Commercial Broadcasters." It featured a picture of Ronald Reagan and the slogan "no talent or acting ability necessary -you too can be president."
There was also a picture of a man with a cartoon balloon: "I read Public Voice," and another of a catfish that said; "Me Too."

Religion & State

The new right in this country is raising the issue of state functions being contained by religious ideas.. The union of church doctoring and US laws violates the separation of Church and state which the founding fathers of this country set up. Laws of basic decency are closely aligned with basic church doctrine, but the US is made up of many religious sects with diversified beliefs. The constitution allows for freedom of religion to protect any group from laws which would restrict the group fro practicing their beliefs.
Jerry Falwell and the "Moral Majority" are the leaders of this religious movement in this country and feel that church and state can work together. History does no bear this out. Iran is the classic example of the problems with church run government. The Ayatollah Khomeini is a hard -line religious leader , and he advocates no tolerance of those how do not prescribe to his religious rule. The Church of England was born out of a dispute between the head of state and the head of church. This dispute favored neither party, and probably hurt both sides. This country we founded by people fleeing religious intolerance in Europe.
The designed split in the church and state relations was set up to protect not the majority, moral or otherwise, but the minority of religious groups whose beliefs would be restricted by laws set up according to Christian doctrine.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution, and the rights of the individual is what the separation of church and state was set up to protect.[11]  


The second addition had some adds in it. I was able to sell a few. We covered the local elections for city commission, 1981.[12] In that article we struggled to find issues. The real issue of that election and those that follow up until today is that these elections are really just a routine practice by the local real estate and land developers to choose THEIR candidate for office. Also covered in this issue was the closing of the Dubuque beef industry plant. We covered the Bel Aire election since it was a new town, we covered a group calling itself the Commission on the Status of Women. We wrote against a fire works ban, we wrote about cameras in the court room and blasted the US government for lifting of controls on the CIA. I did a review of The Russian Anarchists, by Paul Avrich. We did a humor column called "Who Shot Andy Cap."



W.S.U. Paper Denied


You won't find the Public Voice on any news stand at W.S.U. The Public Voice requested permission to distribute our  paper in the Campus Activities Center. We received a letter from Bill Smith, the director of the W.S.U. Campus Activity Center, stating that they had decided not to permit the distribution of our paper. The letter gave no reason whatsoever. When we called his office for an explanation, he said he simply did not want to mess with anymore newspapers.
I have toured WSU several times in the past year and have noticed a virtual vacuum of political literature and periodicals. There are not political newspapers of any kind outside of the Sunflower, the campus newspaper. The political selection of the Campus Bookstore has a few carefully elected books. I can't see how a political science major there could possibly get a well rounded view of politics with the selection of books available in that bookstore. For instance, since third world politics are playing an increasingly important role in foreign policies everywhere, why is there virtually no literature on the subject.
It is easy to see that our newspaper is political .With our small size we have to be. A university is suppose to have a place where people can freely exchange ideas. It should be a place for people to debate and disuses ideas freely. Although this policy is obviously in effect on other campuses, it appears that the administration of W.S.U. want their students to go through with blinders on. Their priority seems to be: "Learn but don't think. There's no place in our society for freethinking individuals."
I certainly hope the students at W.S.U. are smart enough to realize that the nation and the world is certainly more diverse than the quaint pictures painted by W.S.U. Students should wise up and demand not just our paper, but other papers from around the country and even the world. A university is a place to learn but it should also encourage people to think. We at the Public Voice do not believe the old cliché that "ignorance is bliss."[13]


C.I.A. back again

As if our recent foreign policy isn't causing enough criticism from around the world, of President Reagan's conservative friends are actually considering lifting some of the controls on the C.I.A.
Yes they want to strengthen the most violent and suppressive organization the U.S. government has ever produced. The C.I.A. has a long record of invading citizens legal rights of privacy. With its experiments with L.S.D. the C.I.A. ruined the lives of the people they used as guinea pigs.
In other countries the C.I.A. has murdered, tortured and generally terrorized the people in the  worlds most suppressive rightwing dictatorships.
The controls on the C.I.A. were the result of suppressive acts against US citizens. If given the chance the C.I.A. would probably do these things over again.
The Public Voice is opposed to lifting any controls on the C.I.A.[14]


By our third issue, we had focused on a leftwing liberal organization within the local Democratic Party called the Progressive Democratic Quorum.[15] It was a group that focused on liberal issues. It was a fun group. I took part in many discussions on politics as well as writing up what we did in the meetings. The meetings were held at a Machinist (Union) Hall, in south Wichita.
We had some local Democrat Party officials from various offices they held in the Kansas Legislature. A lot of the discussions were on the rights of working people and how those rights were being trampled on by our elected Republican Party officials. It is not a surprise that Republicans back then were as nasty to working people as they are now.
We also covered some other topics including a Consumer Coalition for Health. We had an article on nuclear power, the harassment of a student at a Goddard Kansas School for wearing his hair long. We had a humorous look at ecology movement we called "The New Ecology." The joke was that instead of protecting disappearing species, we wanted to protect lawn meters and telephone poles. We also had classified ads.    
Our forth addition had another article about Wichita's urban sprawl, "City Moves Out West."[16] We also had a large article on Local Wichita Attorney Jim Johnston, who spoke at the Progressive Democratic Quorum. Johnston made rhetorical attacks on then President Ronald Reagan. We also had an article on the National Organization for Women.
We started volume 2 in August of 1981. Again we focused on the City of Wichita and its expansion west. We also included an article on WomenFair, WomenArt, an even held at Century II that included lots of events put on by local feminist groups. Booths were allowed in the hallways, so that artists and political groups could set up tables and promote their various causes. That year we had a presentation called "Renaissance Women—1981" emphasizing a spirit of renewal, rebirth and re-dedication during this long battle for equality.[17] Also in that issue was an article on a Coalition for Health, another article on NOW, an article on Kansans for Peace and Justice and an article about the Mojahedin of Iran, a left-wing Muslim group that opposed the Islamic Republic. The last was an example of an article we received from some Iranian students, from Wichita State University. This is an example of articles a local paper can get that is relevant and it is different from what the city newspaper prints, which in this case was The Wichita Eagle. We also printed some poems by the Palestinian poet, Mahmood Darweesh. We had an article condemning a city-wide ban on fireworks. Because I hinted at the idea of making our own fireworks, I used the pen name, Mark Milhouse. I used that pen name later, mostly when writing for the People's Daily World, during the cold war years. We carried another article of satire, on economics, by my brother Chris Otto, "the New Economics: more for less."  We posted a review of a concert of Jefferson Starship. I had posted an article called "Left" Religion's" which carried on the topic of separation of church and state, but this article defended left-wing religious tendencies that would come under the topic of Liberation Theology. For much of my early life I had some leanings towards Liberation Theology, so this article was somewhat important to me at the time. I later changed my mind and gave up entirely on Christianity.
The last paragraph of that article articulated my beliefs at that time:

"Members of the religious new right tend to make the claim that "God is on their side," but, as I am reminded by an old song by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, "I was told the very same thing so you know somebody's lying."[18]  

That issue we had a letter by a topples dancer, who called herself Strawberry, who opposed the City of Wichita's latest attempts at banning topless dancing in the city limits. This was an occasional issue that The Public Voice took up.  

Letter from a dancer-

I am a dancer and I feel that my opinion of the laws passed on us are unfair in more than one way. I've been dancing for some time and have worked in many places in the United States.
First, we are having a good sized problem with our business. Both the intake of sales for the bar, and especially us girls. Ever since the case went to court a few weeks ago our business slacked, but every since the last week and then the finalization of our rules, it has been the worst. Yesterday had had maybe a total of ten people come into the bar on my shift (12-6). I didn't even have to get up and dance until 2:00--NO CUSTOMERS! It has been this way since last Thursday. A lot of the bars are doing about the same.
Second, we are being deprived of our rights. The people who come here, we don't rope in off the streets. They come because they want to. Do you realize that we're now required to wear more than the girls at the local pool, local grocery store, and person walking down the street? Many other states are dancing in G-strings and such and pasties. The businesses are doing fine and have caused no unusual problems. I don't see as to where someone who has a good job as a professional in any area has the right to limit another professional's art. Some girls honestly can't dance, but what of us who have taken this entertainment as a career? I personally am having a rough time on making ends half-way meet and, I've worked on perfection of my art for 11 years in different forms. Personally I feel we've been screwed!
KLB  



Jefferson Starship in Wichita

The Jefferson Starship concert here in Wichita last month was a perhaps one of the more refreshing concerts in quite some time. Rock an roll has hardly seen such a comeback in many years. Of course only two of the original members of the old Airplane or Starship remain; That is Grace Slick and Paul Kantner. Both have been a major influence on the history of rock music going back clear to the sixties. They have proven that old wave music is far from dead. The concert featured many songs off their new album such as Stairway to Cleveland. They also played Somebody to Love. They also played some the more recent tunes such as Girl With Hungry Eyes. Among the songs they played for the encore was Volunteers, an old Jefferson Airplane classic. Mickey Thomas sang lead vocals. Others in the band include: Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Pete Sears, Craig Chaquico, Aynsley Dunbar  and David Freiberg.[19]

I also included an article by a friend and writer I got to know, Tim Pouncey. His article was called:

Warp Factor

Trying to understand Reaganomics is a hobby of mine —
like making long shot bets on second-rate foot ball teams or dating slender blonde girls who fathers carry shotguns —
all three can be dangerous to a man's mental health and at least one will probably be responsible for violent, ugly and permanent damage to my emotional stability.
Ah, but the notions persist. This is no season for comprehending anything that oozes out of the Washington Information Network. It is hard enough to keep any kind of lame act running at all with inflation cutting the guts out of my already low standard of living. In the Reaganomics Circus only the High Rollers and multiple felons prosper.
So paranoia make good sense  these days. If you're not scared, you're not informed. Unemployment is a record high, new lay-offs at Dold and BeechCraft, no good news from Cessna. bad slumps in the housing industry, no work no where. When you get into severe economic problems at this level, you can be absolutely sure They Are out to get you.
What we need now is less double talk and more action. There are millions of things that the unemployed could do in Government service. Franklin Roosevelt proved this during the last great depression. There is an incredible glut of skilled labor being wasted. We will only find economic recover through imagination, we are limited by the Washington Circus's inability to figure out how to use a skilled but unemployed work force. [20]

For the next addition, Vol. 2 No. 2, I had a front page story called "Where Wildlife Roamed."[21] I managed to get a picture of an area being developed that I mistakenly though belong to a place where they advertized "Where the wildlife roam." Even though I got the land that matched the sign wrong, the intent was the samebuilding homes on sterile ground where all wildlife had been run off. There was none to be foundanywhere. I was threatened with a law suite and I had to print a retraction. But the developers were decimating the land for places for people to move to. It is sad just how much of that land has been ruined by developers—over developing. We also had an article called "Solidarity Day," where unions around the country planned to march in favor of union rights. The NAACP was taking part in this march. It was all in response to the Ronald Reagan Administrations attacks on the PATCO union, representing the air traffic controllers. We also had an article from the Kansans for Peace and Justice. 
By the time I got to the next addition, Vol. 2 No. 3, I was beginning to get involved in the issue of Central America. There were revolutionary movements making gains in Guatemala and El Salvador. At the same time Reagan was beginning to go after the Sandinista government with the use of CIA directed Contra (short for counter-revolutionary) guerrillas. I went to hear Paul McKay, a developmental aid worker, through Bethel College, talked about the assassination of some congressmen in Guatemala.[22] This was the first time my paper had covered events taking place in Central America.
Another issue I focused on back then was the newly-formed Solidarity Coalition. The group was composed of progressive organizations from the Wichita are. They included the NAACP, NOW, The Gray Panthers, PATCO, the ACLU, the Iron Workers Union and Kansas for Peace and Justice. It seemed like a great idea at the time. By combining all these groups together at once we had a chance to take on the local political right. But after a few months we found the limits to such a coalition. A group concerned with the rights of some young people shot at a local park by police cause some of the members to balk at who should join in. Slowly the coalition unraveled and it disappeared before many more months.  
We also ran "Kidafi: The Crazed Killer" to satirize the coverage of the Muammar Gaddafi regime, in Libya, by US pundits, including Jack Anderson. We tried to make the article look ridiculous and we succeeded. Unfortunately most people who read it didn't realize it was meant as a joke. We ended up writing a second article, a retraction. But the later was written in a way to make fun of the fact that we have so much sensational news, people couldn't tell it was a joke.

Kidafi: The Crazed Killer

The madman of Africa is at it again. The crowned saint of Satanism, the most terrifying man in he world, is itching for a fight and we gave it to him. Libya lost tow planes--we lost zero. But I wonder how many people realize just how crazy this maniac is.
Of Course, We are referring to General Muammer
___________________
Jack Understone
___________________

Kadafy. Habba Dabba, an expert on Mideast affairs and a math professor in Saudi Arabia, calls him the most dangerous man in the world. Fred Fenhouser, a bartender in Toledo, Ohio, calls him an absolute madman.
One of his most notorious traits is his funding of nearly every major terrorist group in the world. He supports the Popular Movement to Liberate Palestine. He also openly supports the Irish Republican Army. He denies giving them material aid, claiming the he gives them only moral support. But recent documents uncovered by the CIA provide evidence that Gadafy supplied the IRA with 16 tons of arms, last month, consisting of large shipments of rocks, Molotov cocktails, matches ad cans of spray-paint. 
Khadaffy also supports such desperate groups as the American Indians and is suspected of supporting the Red Brigades and the Red Army Faction, and may even be responsible for the recent riots in Miami.
Qadafy has been known to send hit men out to censor his opposition, which means I had to hire an extra bodyguard since writing this article.
Qaddafy is a devout Muslim who has banned drinking and pork from his country. He naturally doe not drink and on days when he's not busy torturing flies he goes out to the country to meditate.
He sites in his little tent out in the desert and dreams up wild , crazy terrorist attacks to be carried out against innocent women and kids. His eyes turn to fire and his nostrils breathe smoke as he envisions his next act of insanity.[23]


I wrote the name of Gaddafi different each time since it was rarely written the same way by other writers in the news media. Strangely enough, some African students got made because they saw him as a hero. 

Confusion and Kadafi

In our last untimely issue we ran a story on Mohamer Kadafi that caused some confusion and drew a few complaints. It seems that the article and author, Jack Understone were taken seriously. Actually Jack Understone was an intended satire of every body's favorite correspondent Jack Anderson.
We attempted to parody the cheap sensationalism of our news media. It seems we were to subtle in our attempts. It also seems that even when an article borders on the absurd people still assume it is meant o be taken seriously. Perhaps this is a reflection of people's perception of the news media and the columnists who claim to be informing us. Perhaps we succeeded too well in our parody.
Of course there is no Jack Understone on the staff of the Public Voice. We haven't hired any body guards as of yet. Just to be on the safe side we will send a copy of this article to Kadafi. If we were on his hit list maybe we will be spared. Surely ol' Mohamer can date a joke, can't you Mohamer?[24]

This was the second to the last issue of the Public Voice. It had an article on IRBs called "IRB's Rich Get Richer." There was another column on "WSU censorship." There was an article on the ERA, which was closing in as an issue that Wichita feminist could not win.
There was on more article on the PDQ and DSOC ( Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee  the original name for DSA). By now Democratic Socialists of America were an established organization in Wichita and many of us really thought there could finally be an alternative to the Democratic Party's status quo. In time I realized that was a pipe dream. But in 1982 I believed otherwise.
We had one more issue of the Public Voice, in May 1982. We covered a May Day rally, one of the first May Day celebrations in decades. We rallied around the labor union under attack by the Dold Company of Wichita. There was a strike and the Dold company was out to destroy the union. This was a direct action against the Reagan policy of pushing unions to the point of a strike and then destroying the unions using various union busting measures.
This issue had an article on the events of Herman Hill, where the third anniversary of the riot that took place in that park, only served to ensure that people in the grouping would not forget the tragic events of that day.[25] It was a really good issue and it was our last. The bi-monthly newspaper got a lot of publicity for its time. Those of us in it, were going to try and  make the best of it. It was as good paper and it had a good run. But after that issue it was over and that was that.


[1] I published a few articles about Shining Path/Communist Party of Peru, Steve Otto, "Some Countries Overlooked," South Hutchinson Post Dispatch, June 1990, Vol. 2, No 6, p. 3 and Steve Otto, "Commentary- Drugs And War," South Hutchinson Post Dispatch, October 1989, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 3.
[2] "Annexation Boom," The Wichita Public Voice, February 1981, Vol. 1 No. 1 p. 1,3.
[3] Green Party, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_party
[4] Sustainable living, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_living
[5] Bible hub, Genesis 9:7, http://biblehub.com/genesis/1-28.htm

[6] Paul Shrivastava and Ian I. Mitroff, "The Ecological Roots of Terrorism," Bucknell University, https://www.bucknell.edu/newsevents/for-the-media/op-ed-columns/archives/roots-of-terrorism.html

[7] Population Matters, http://www.populationmatters.org/30283-2/ 
[8] "Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine," Greenpeace, http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/global-warming/climate-deniers/koch-industries/

[9] Let’s demand a “no growth” economy for all people—everywhere, Otto's War Room, April 27, 2016

http://ottoswarroom.blogspot.com/2016/04/lets-demand-no-growth-economy-for-all.html

[10] Reefer Madness, 1936, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reefer_Madness
[11] "Religion & State," The Wichita Public Voice, February 1981, Vol. 1 No. 1 p. 4.
[12] Steve Otto, "Election Time," The Wichita Public Voice, March 1981, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 1,2,6, 8.
[13] Steve Otto "W.S.U. Paper Denied," Public Voice, March 1981, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 5,6.
[14] "C.I.A. back again," The Wichita Public Voice, March 1981, Vol. 1 No. 2, p. 4.
[15] Steve Otto, "Progressive Democratic Quorum," The Wichita Public Voice, May 1981, Vo1. 1 No. 3, PP. 1, 3, 6.
[16] Steve Otto, "City Moves Out West," The Wichita Public Voice, June 1981, Vol. 1 No. 4, pp. 1, 3.
[17] "WomanFair- WomanArt," The Wichita Public Voice, August 1981, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 1,7.
[18] Steve Otto "Left" Religion's," The Wichita Public Voice, August 1981, Vol. 2 No. 1, p. 5.
[19] Steve Otto "Jefferson Starship in Wichita," Public Voice, August 1981, Vol. 2 No. 1, p. 7.
[20] Tim Pouncey, "Warped Factor," The Wichita Public Voice, May 1982, Vol. 3 No. 1, p 5.
[21] Steve Otto, "where wildlife roamed," The Wichita Public Voice, September 1981, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 1,3.
[22] Steve Otto, "Guatemala, McKay speaks out against oppression," The Wichita Public Voice, December 1981, Vol. 2 No. 3, 1-2.
[23] Jack Understone, "Kidafi: The Crazed Killer," The Wichita Public Voice, December 1981, Vol. 2 No. 3, p. 4.
[24] "Confusion and Kadafi," The Wichita Public Voice, February 1981, Vol. 2 No. 4, p. 2.
[25] "Herman Hill," The Wichita Public Voice, May 1982, Vol. 3 No. 1, p. 1.

Monday, August 08, 2016

New Ghost Busters- a theatre of the absurd

By SJ Otto
I really enjoyed the new Ghost Busters (2016). It was hard to follow at times and it moved really fast. The women spew out so much psychobabble that it is often hard to keep up. I just watched it. It was funny. At one point someone described them as some women who read "Eat, Pray, Love and they just ran with it."
It was full of cameos from the last 2  movies. It even had the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man with the evil look on his face until they just almost zapped him. Then his famous evil smile went into a round "oh no" look.
The Ghost Busters are made up of Abby Yates (Mellissa McCarthy), Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), Jullian Holtzmann, (Kate McKinnon) and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). They hire Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) as a receptionist because he looks good and no one else has applied for the job. He is terrible at his job, not even able to answer the phone.
It has a kind of theatre of the absurd quality about it. Some of it moves like a Monty Python script. At one point Jullian is standing next to a city official who tells her "you've broke all kinds of laws."
"How many, one?" she said.
"No."
"Two?"
"No."
"One?"
The whole film just moves that way. There is some satire, but mostly is it just funny to watch. It's well worth seeing.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Why Colorado’s beer-loving Gov. Hickenlooper is toasting the wine industry

We travel the nation to find good articles about good beer, wine, marijuana and many other forms of entertainment. I just happen to be in Denver, Colorado the other day and I came across this fine article on Gov. John Hickenlooper and I just had to share it with our readers. -SJ Otto


From The Denver Post:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has been closely aligned with thestate’s craft beer industry for decades — and for an excellent reason.
The brewpub Hickenlooper co-founded in 1998, Wynkoop Brewing Co., was not only the state’s first, it helped usher in Lower Downtown’s revitalization and sat on the leading edge of the national craft beer movement.

Colorado now ranks third in the nation for craft beer production, with 1,775,831 barrels per year, and counts 7.3 craft breweries for every 100,000 people aged 21-and-up — more than any other state except Vermont and Oregon, according to the Brewers Association.
So why is our beer-loving governor lending his name and reputation to the state’s wine industry?

For the rest click here.




John Hickenlooper poses with some of the different brews from the Wynkoop Brewery in 1991.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Ab Fab the movie- did not let me down

By SJ Otto
I was surprised at the Absolutely Fabulous Movie. They have always had some satire of the fashion industry, but this movie has a lot more than their old show.
The show was very popular, but I had to wonder what the movie would do to top it. To my surprise, they really did top it.
Not only do they satirize the fashion scene, they satirise the news media and all the over the top sensational stories that don't really deserve such attention. In the film Edina "Eddy" Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders), one of the main characters and a PR hack, runs up to Kate Moss, to sign her up to her PR firm when she bumps here and she falls into the Thames River.
Police and news moguls believe she downs and Eddy becomes an instant pariah through the news media. And for those who watched the movie, a pariah is not a fish. Her home is surrounded by angry Kate Moss fans. So she, her side kick Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) and her grand daughter (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness).  
Eddy's ex-husband stops sending money so he can get a sex change operation, which leaves the girls broke. So the three of them leave the country to find some one rich to marry and escape all the media hype.
A lot of the film deals with the women realizing how much older they are, and they meat a lot of other jet setters who don't seem to have noticed how time has really left them behind, despite all their money and fame.
It's a great movie. I loved the laughs and the digs and jabs at celebrityism.  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

HOW TO MAKE PUNCH


FARM TO DRINK: HANDCRAFTED PUNCHES
Learn to make delicious and fresh punches for your next party with these recipes and tips from master mixologist and Liquor.com contributor Charlotte Voisey. For the article, click here.

TWO-HIT FIG PUNCH

INGREDIENTS:

12 Fresh figs, halved
12 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
6 oz Fresh navel orange juice
12 oz Fresh lemon juice
24 oz Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
24 oz Hudson Baby Bourbon
Garnish: Lime wheels and nutmeg
PREPARATION:
In a small bowl, muddle the figs well and add the simple syrup. Place a large block of ice in a punch bowl and add the fig mixture and the remaining ingredients. Garnish with thinly cut lime wheels and freshly grated nutmeg.

SPARKLING HOLIDAY PUNCH

INGREDIENTS:

Peels from 2 navel oranges
2 oz Sugar
12 oz Fresh lemon juice
12 oz Fig-Infused Tea Syrup*
12 oz Stoli White Pomegranik Vodka
12 oz Stoli Blueberi Vodka
12 oz Sparkling wine
6 oz Water, chilled
Garnish: Lemon wheels and fig slices
PREPARATION:
In a large bowl, muddle the orange peels and sugar to form a paste. Add the lemon juice, syrup and both vodkas, and stir to combine. Place a large block of ice in a punch bowl and add the vodka mixture. Top with the sparkling wine and water. Stir, and garnish with thinly cut lemon wheels and thin slices of fig.

*FIG-INFUSED TEA SYRUP

INGREDIENTS:

24 oz Double-strength cold-brewed English breakfast tea
12 Fresh figs, chopped
24 oz Sugar
PREPARATION:
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, remove from the heat and let stand until completely cool. Strain.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Publishing the Public Voice Part 1

This is the fist part in a series on my old alternative newspaper, The Wichita Public Voice. This is the paper I put out in Wichita, Kansas.The is an excerpt from my new book; How a left-wing journalist survives the Bible Belt. It is an autobiography on my career as a writer. 

By SJ Otto
With all that tabloid paper experience I got from the Public Notice, the paper I worked for in Lawrence, KS,  it was easy for me to start up my own paper when I moved back to Wichita, KS in 1980. I organized and put together a tabloid newspaper of my own, which I called The Wichita Public Voice.
Some of the things I learned I would later discard. For example, the attitude at the Public Notice was to focus on local news only. That was suppose to allow us to focus on issues we could actually work on for change.
As for foreign news, I was told that the daily news paper, The Lawrence Journal World (in my home town it would be The Wichita Eagle) carried national news and there was no way we could compete with that. Years later I change my mind. For one thing The Wichita Eagle did not always cover important international news. A good example of that were articles about the Shining Path (Communist Party of Peru or PCP) guerrillas. By the end of the 1980s the Shining Path was winning a people's war effort in Peru. But a lot of mainstream newspapers didn't cover much of it. That was especially true if the articles showed a direct involvement from US troops. The Wichita Eagle didn't cover that war but just 52 miles away was the town of Hutchinson and The Hutchinson News DID print articles about Peru. In a later news paper I ran almost 10 years later, I reposted what the The Hutchinson News printed in a news paper I was running at the time, the South Hutchinson Post Dispatch.[1] After the 1990s I was getting a lot of information and articles from political parties across the world. I was able to get articles that foreign people and political parties wrote about their own political struggles. So I realized that a news reporter or a journalist/editor/publisher can post articles about foreign affairs that the local mainstream paper doesn't and won't cover. We CAN compete with The Wichita Eagle (as well as Time, Newsweek and others) after all.
As for the politics of the Public Notice, it had a left-wing slant, but was not openly Marxist. It had more of a liberal slant, although some of the supporters and workers on this paper were openly Marxist. I wanted to print articles from a moderate left position. I didn't want the paper to seem far left. I wanted it to look like a homey local news paper, and that is what it looked like.
I typed it on an old Manuel typewriter. I was living at my parents home so I worked in a corner of the basement. As with the Public Notice I also used rub on letters and old pictures from magazines. At first I tried to sell it at first, but I realized that would hold me back real bad. So I gave it way free, had a subscription list and I sold ads to try and pay for it.
From time to time I had several people work with me, both as reporters and layout people. As with the Public Notice, I focused on some local issues and the first main one was Wichita's "Annexation Boom!"[2] I was following the anti-growth message carried by the Public Voice. One problem I had with that was that a lot of liberal people, I would later get to know and make friends with, all wanted to annex wealthier people, whom they wanted to pay their fair share of city taxes. And many of the people I was allying myself with where actually conservative land owners. I had not written up a comprehensive anti-growth position to explain why I was so against the city expanding itself.

I had another article on that subject, DEVELOPERS: Go WEST.
Also in that issue we had an article about a self help clinic, a letter about human rights, an article about Martin Luther King and an article about the Wichita Wings, a soccer team in Wichita. The issue included a cartoon of the Rev. Dr. Cabbage, an ongoing cartoon serious about a religious right character that I came up with, based on the Dr. Carroll from the movie Reefer Madness.[3] In that movie Josef Forte plays Dr. Alfred Carroll, a fire and brimstone character who narrates much of the film. There Was also some humor as in an ad for "Bonzo's School of commercial broadcasters." It featured a picture of Ronald Reagan and the slogan "no talent or acting ability necessary you too can be president."
There was also a picture of a man with a cartoon balloon: "I read Public Voice, and another of a catfish that said; "Me Too."

The second addition had some adds in it. I was able to sell a few. We covered the local elections for city commission, 1981.[4] In that article we struggled to find issues. The real issue of that election and those that follow up until today is that these elections are really just a routine practice by the local real estate and land developers to chose THEIR candidate for office. Also covered in this issue was the closing of the Dubuque beef industry plant. We covered the Bel Aire election since it was a new town, we covered a group calling itself the Commission on the Status of Women. We wrote against a fire works ban, we wrote about cameras in the court room and blasted the US government for lifting of controls on the CIA. I did a review of The Russian Anarchists, by Paul Avrich. We did a humor column called "Who Shot Andy Cap."

By our third issue, we had focused on a leftwing liberal organization within the local Democratic Party called the Progressive Democratic Quorum.[5] It was a group that focused on liberal issues. It was a fun group. I took part in many discussions on politics as well as writing up what we did in the meetings. The meetings were held at a Machinist (Union) Hall, in south Wichita.
We had some local Democrat Party officials from various offices they held in the Kansas Legislature. A lot of the discussions were on the rights of working people and how those rights were being trampled on by our elected Republican Party officials. It is not a surprise that Republicans back then were as nasty to working people as they are now.
We also covered some other topics including a Consumer Coalition for Health. We had an article on nuclear power, the harassment of a student at a Goddard Kansas School for wearing his hair long. We had a humorous look at ecology movement we called "The New Ecology." The joke was that instead of protecting disappearing species, we wanted to protect lawn meters and telephone poles. We also had classified ads.   
Our forth addition had another article about Wichita's urban sprawl, "City Moves Out West."[6] We also had a large article on Local Wichita Attorney Jim Johnston, who spoke at the Progressive Democratic Quorum. Johnston made rhetorical attacks on then President Ronald Reagan. We also had an article on the National Organization for Women.
We started volume 2 in August of 1981. Again we focused on the City of Wichita and its expansion west. We also included an article on WomenFair, WomenArt, an even held at Century II that included lots of events put on by local feminist groups. Booths were allowed in the hallways, so that artists and political groups could set up tables and promote their various causes. That year we had a presentation called "Renaissance Women--1981" emphasizing a spirit of renewal, rebirth and re--dedication during this long battle for equality.[7] Also in that issue was an article on a Coalition for Health, another article on NOW, an article on Kansans for Peace and Justice and an article about the Mojahedin of Iran, a left-wing Muslim group that opposed the Islamic Republic. The last was an example of an article we received from some Iranian students, from Wichita State University. This is an example of articles a local paper can get that is relevant and it is different from what the city newspaper, which in this case was The Wichita Eagle. We also printed some poems by the Palestinian poet, Mahmood Darweesh. We had an article condemning a city-wide ban on fireworks. Because I hinted at the idea of making our own fireworks, I used the pen name, Mark Milhouse. I used that pen name later, mostly when writing for the People's Daily World, during the cold war years. We carried another article of satire, on economics, by my brother Chris Otto, "the New Economics: more for less."  We posted a review of a concert of Jefferson Starship. I had posted an article called "Left" Religion's" which carried on the topic of separation of church and state, but this article defended left-wing religious tendencies that would come under the topic of Liberation Theology. For much of my early life I had some leanings towards Liberation Theology, so this article was somewhat important to me at the time. I later changed my mind and gave up entirely on Christianity.
The last paragraph of that article articulated my beliefs at that time:
"Members of the religious new right tend to make the claim that "God is on their side," but, as I am reminded by an old song by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, "I was told the very same thing so you know somebody's lying."[8] 




[1] I published a few articles about Shining Path/Communist Party of Peru, Steve Otto, "Some Countries Overlooked," South Hutchinson Post Dispatch, June 1990, Vol. 2, No 6, p. 3 and Steve Otto, "Commentary- Drugs And War," South Hutchinson Post Dispatch, October 1989, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 3.
[2] "Annexation Boom," The Wichita Public Voice, February 1981, Vol. 1 No. 1 p. 1,3.
[3] Reefer Madness, 1936, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reefer_Madness
[4] Steve Otto, "Election Time," The Wichita Public Voice, March 1981, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 1,2,6, 8.
[5] Steve Otto, "Progressive Democratic Quorum," The Wichita Public Voice, May 1981, Vo1. 1 No. 3, PP. 1, 3, 6.
[6] Steve Otto, "City Moves Out West," The Wichita Public Voice, June 1981, Vol. 1 No. 4, pp. 1, 3.
[7] "WomanFair- WomanArt," The Wichita Public Voice, August 1981, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 1,7.
[8] Steve Otto "Left" Religion's," The Wichita Public Voice, August 1981, Vol. 2 No. 1, p. 5.