Thursday, September 30, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 30, 2004

You decide which is sillier:

Having an actor from a popular 1980s sitcom come talk about your candidate’s plan for alternate energy, or reacting to said celeb as if his very presence is an affront to decent people in the state?

John Kerry’s campaign in New Mexico touted a Tuesday appearance in Albuquerque by actor Ted Danson, who played the unrepentant horndog Sam Malone in the old NBC television hit Cheers. According to the press release, Danson came to discus “John Kerry's plan to make America stronger by breaking our dependence on foreign oil, and investing in new technologies and alternative fuels to create high paying jobs and protect our environment.”

Sounds like a tall order for a TV bartender.

Danson, a former Santa Fe resident, was accompanied by state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Secretary Joanna Prukop and state Sen. Richard Romero, D-Albuquerque, who is running for Congress against incumbent Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.

According to one television report, about 100 people showed for the rally. It’s hard to say whether any votes were swayed.

I didn’t go.

I’m waiting for Norm and Cliff to come here to talk about the nation’s trade deficit.

Actually I didn’t pay the Danson visit much mind. But then I got an e-mail on behalf of a Republican legislator who took advantage of the Danson rally to engage in some good old-fashioned celebrity bashing.

“John Kerry thinks the heart and soul of our nation is represented by Hollywood liberals like Ted Danson, but President Bush knows the heart and soul of America is found in places like New Mexico,” said Rep. Brian Moore of Clayton, echoing almost word for word a stump-speech applause line used by Bush himself in various locales, including a speech in Albuquerque last month.

“New Mexicans have done well with President Bush’s tax cuts,” Moore’s statement said. “We don’t need a Hollywood actor to tell us differently.”

Conservatives in recent years seem to take great offense at entertainers getting involved in politics.

Except Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or Charlton Heston. Or Ronald Reagan.

The war on literacy: You’ll have to move quick to see this one for yourself because if the governor’s office reads this first, it’ll be gone, or at least corrected.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, a Sept. 8 press release on Gov. Bill Richardson’s official state Web site ( announced that First Lady Barbara Richardson was declaring that day “International Literacy Day.”

“The facts speak for themselves — poor reading skills translate directly into poor student achievement, higher dropout rates, and lower financial and personal success,” Mrs. Richardson said in the statement.

That’s undoubtedly true.

But the next sentence made a surprising contradiction, quoting the first lady as saying, “Ending literacy will guarantee a more prosperous future for all New Mexicans.”

{Note: The Literacy Day press release in its original form was still on the governor's Web site at 8:30 a.m. today, but before 9:30 a.m. it was gone.}

Monday, September 27, 2004


Sunday, Sept 25, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Now Webcasting:
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays MDT
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Papa Satan Sang Louie by The Cramps
Two Headed Dog by Roky Erikson
I'm Not Down by The Clash
Victoria by The Fall
I'm in Disgrace by The Kinks
Burnin' Hell by The Fleshtones
Dirty Seconds by The Hollis Wake
Johnny Gillete by Simon Stokes

Sins of My Father by Tom Waits
God's Eternal Love by Sally Timms
Strange Fruit by The Twilight Singers
Civil Disobedience by Camper Van Beethoven

I Zimba by The Talking Heads
The Future by Prnce
Cold Bologna by The Isley Brothers
Grown So Ugly by Captain Beefheart
All Hands Against His Own by The Black Keys
Step Aside by Sleater-Kinney
Hang On Sloopy by Lolita #18

Restraining Order Blues by The Eels
Narc by Interpol
Sewers of Bagkok by Brazzaville
Hang Down Your Head by Petty Booka
Song of the Rats Leaving the Sinking Ship by American Music Club
Call on Me by Lou Reed
Venus by Shocking Blue
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, September 25, 2004


The Santa Fe Opry
Friday, September 24, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Now Webcasting:
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays MDT
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
In the Satellite Rides a Star by The Old 97s
Worry Too Much by Buddy Miller
Tramps Rouge by Starlings TN
Drugstore Truck Driving Man by The Byrds
Sinner Man by 16 Horsepower
You Stupid Jerk by Peter Stampfel
Bears in the Woods by Nancy Apple
My Blue Heaven by (unknown home recording artist)

Lonely Street by Ray Price
Family Tree by Loretta Lynn
South Dakota Hairdo by Joe West
Guilty as Sin by Kasey Chambers
River of No Return by Jon Rauhouse with Neko Case
Putin' Out an Old Flame by Johnny Bush
He'll Have to Go by Jim Reeves
Moon River by The Bubbadinos

My Own Kind of Hat by Rosie Flores
The Day John Henry Died by Drive-By Truckers
Hill Country Hot Rod Man by Junior Brown
Something in the Water by Charlie Robison
Out of Control by Dave Alvin
F the CC by Steve Earle
I Know You Are There by The Handsome Family

Another Place I Don't Belong by Big Al Anderson
Murder's Crossed My Mind by Desdemona Finch
Charmers by Richard Buckner
Sammy's Song by David Bromberg
Sweet Savior's Arms by Grey DeLisle
Dark End of the Street by Elvis Costello
Old Friends by Roger Miller, Willie Nelson & Ray Price
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots Radio list

Friday, September 24, 2004


As published in The New Mexican
Sept. 24, 2004

The punk era of the late 1970s was the result of a loose-knit movement in which the prevailing attitude was that there was way too much reverence toward rock stars, that music should be considered disposable, a fleeting joke, something for the moment.

Trouble is, there were some bands that included some serious musicians whose work, in spite of themselves, transcended the self-imposed limits of punk.

On a DVD interview included in the London Calling: 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition by The Clash, Joe Strummer recalls having to deal with “the punk police,” purists who insisted that punk rock had to be three-minute bursts of rage and snottiness and nothing else.

But Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon disagreed. Punk was supposed to represent freedom, Strummer said. And that includes the freedom to incorporate the sounds of funk, rockabilly, dub reggae, jazz, R&B and anything else that wasn’t nailed down. If that means using a horn section on a ska version of “Staggolee” (called “Wrong ‘em Boyo” here) and if they sound a little bit like The Band on “Jimmy Jazz,” it didn’t have to distract from the punk ferocity.

One would like to think that the late Strummer is rolling over in his grave at the thought of this album being the subject of a fancy-schmancy multi-disc 25th Anniversary package (list price $29.98).

But remember, the sainted Strummer still was alive in 2002 when the song “London Calling” was used on a television commercial for Jaguar Motors. So I don’t see Joe getting too upset about this.

And not that he should be.

In addition to the original album (which was re-mastered a couple of years ago), the three-disc set includes “The Vanilla Tapes,“ which consists of a recently uncovered demo and rehearsal sessions including versions of most of the London Calling tunes.

It’s a low-to-no-fi affair. It’s got no-frills early takes on what would become signature Clash tunes (an almost tuneless version of the song “London Calling,” an embryonic instrumental “Guns of Brixton,” called simply “Paul’s Tune,” plus some previously unheard songs, like a hillbilly romp called “Lonesome Me” and a reggae-drenched cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me.”

There’s also a DVD featuring an interesting, if hardly essential, documentary about the making of London Calling, with interviews with all four Clash members, including Strummer. (The most fun part of the DVD though is the black-and-white footage of the album sessions, which are hilarious due to the crazed antics of producer Guy Stevens, a balding hippy who kept the band on edge by tossing chairs and a ladder across the studio and pouring wine on a piano while Strummer was playing it.)

But the main course still is the original album itself, which retains its joyful, dancing-on-the-trash-heap-of history power and its raw, working-class hero bite a quarter century later.

“Brand New Cadillac,” a cover of a song by obscure rockabilly Vince Taylor, makes most of the punked-up rockabilly that followed sound like Happy Days.

Though the comparison isn‘t obvious, “Train in Vain” follows in the tradition of Frank Sinatra, proving tough guys can sing love songs.

On the DVD documentary Strummer downplays the socialist politics of The Clash, making the obvious point that as musicians they didn’t really have the answers to the problems of imperialism, repression and unbridled commercialism.

But he’s selling himself short. Songs like “Clampdown,” “Spanish Bombs” and of course the title track, haven’t lost a trace of their apocalyptic relevance. “Lost in the Supermarket” remains the quintessential anthem of consumerism angst.

The Clash considered London Calling to be “the last rock ‘n’ roll album.” Well, they were wrong. But there haven’t been many albums in the last 25 years as powerful as this.

Also Recommended:
*The Name of This Band is Talking Heads
. To be honest, I stopped keeping track of David Byrne’s solo albums about 10 years ago. I never did like The Tom Tom Club, Tina Weymouth’s and Chris Frantz’s side project, and the one Jerry Harrison solo record I heard was painfully boring.

The depressing post-Talking Heads work of these guys is almost enough to make you forget what a great band the Heads were. But perhaps that adds to the refreshing charm of this double-disc reissue.

For reasons best known to the brain trust at Warner Brothers, The Name of This Band, a collection of live Heads material first released in the pre-CD era of 1982, never was released on compact disc.

It took way too long, but they did it right. The new version of the album is nearly twice as long as the original, spanning the band’s early days -- recorded in front of what sounds like tiny audiences -- to the early ‘80s.

The collection is divided into two eras. Disc One features work from 1977-79, while Disc Two has songs from 1980-81.

Although the group’s signature tune is the too-delightful-to-be-creepy “Psycho Killer” (included twice here, once on each disc), the song that best sums up the spirit of the first disc is “Love √†Building on Fire.” I try to imagine myself in the audience the first time Byrne, in his loopy-loo voice sang, “I’ve got two loves, two loves/And they go tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet like little birds …” to a hopped-up folk-rock groove.

By 1980 Byrne had started hanging out with Brian Eno experimenting with funk and African music. By this point the basic Heads line-up was fortified by outside musicians like guitarist Adrian Belew and keyboardist Bernie Worrell, a Funkadelic alum, as well as background vocalistsm, an extra bassist and a percussionist.

On paper this might sound rather cluttered. But somehow it worked. This album’s version of the insane, pseudo-African workout of “I Zimba” might be the finest track ever recorded by The Talking Heads.

Stop Making Sense was a great live album. But this one’s even better. I wouldn’t mind seeing a movie version of The Name of This Band is Talking Heads.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


A personal note:

If anyone tried to e-mail me last -- Nigerian generals' widows, herbal Viagra merchants, whoever -- there apparantly was some problem with my MSN account. A couple of friends informed me this morning that their mail to me bounced back, plus I e-mailed some stuff from work and only one of two made it, and that was about 12 hours late.

Try again. It seems to be working now.


As published in the Santa Fe New Mexican
September 23, 2004

In case anyone is feeling “poll withdrawal,” there’s a couple of new presidential polls for New Mexico adding a new twist to what still seems like a close race.

The New Mexican-KOB-TV poll published this week showed President Bush barely leading John Kerry in New Mexico. However, two recent polls by other organizations give Kerry the edge — one of them by double digits.

The American Research Group, which has conducted several polls here this year, shows Kerry ahead 49 to 44 percent. That poll was taken about the same time as ours, Sept. 14-16.

In both polls, the difference between the candidates is within the margin of error: plus or minus four percentage points. For our poll, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington D.C. interviewed 625 likely voters. ARG interviewed 600.

Meanwhile, the most recent Zogby poll conducted last week, shows Kerry leading with 54 percent to Bush’s 41 percent, which is outside of their 4.1 percent margin of error. Nader is attracting two percent of the vote in the Zogby poll. Zogby polled 546 New Mexicans.

Unlike Mason-Dixon or ARG, Zogby’s poll is “interactive.” That means they don’t call people on the phone. They do it by e-mail, contacting those registered in the company’s database of voters. Some traditional pollsters belittle Zogby’s “interactive” methods.

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.
Earlier this year this column broke the news that a California-based group called Punx For Dean was coming to town to help out with the Howard Dean campaign. Despite that assistance, Dean managed to lose the New Mexico caucus to Kerry.

But now it seems Kerry is enjoying the support of the all-important punk-rock block. An organization called is coming to New Mexico to put on a concert and film screening in Albuquerque Friday.

The organization, which was started by “Fat Mike” of the band NOFX, is responsible for two volumes of Rock Against Bush CDs.

“To enrage and engage (the) punk community to take action and speak out,” in alliance with the Young Voter Alliance will present a screening of the documentary Unprecedented, a scathing look at the 2000 election. The screening is at 2 p.m. at the Student Union Building Theater at the University of New Mexico. Co-producer Richard Ray Perez will be on hand.

That night five bands — Anti-Flag, The Epoxies, Midtown, Strike Anywhere and Mike Park — will perform at The Sunshine Theatre, 120 Central Ave. S.E. Tickets are $15, $13 with student identification. The show starts at 8 p.m.

“This tour is about motivating Punk Voters to learn more, take action, and make their voices heard” said Anti-Flag’s lead singer Justin Sane in a written statement.

Hey, this isn’t a partisan column. If there’s any Republican punk groups coming to New Mexico, please let me know.

I’m POed and I Vote
It’s not clear whether actual punks have anything to do with this, but state Rep. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, who is running against Republican Greg Bemis in the upcoming District 47 election, got an e-mail from the local chapter of a New York-based group calling itself “The League of Pissed Off Voters.”

The group asked Wirth for his views on a wide range of issues including police brutality, the war in Iraq, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, water, drug laws, rape and domestic abuse, jobs and racism.

The e-mail says the group is “a non-partisan, not for profit collective that is currently putting together a voter guide aimed at young people (Under 35).” The Web site for the national organization says , “Our mission is to engage pissed off 17-35 year olds in the democratic process to build a progressive governing majority in our lifetime.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


According to the poll sponsored by The New Mexican and KOB-TV, George Bush holds a small lead over John Kerry in New Mexico.


Happy Birthday Leonard Cohen, Bill Murray, Larry Hagman, Stephen King and Ricki Lake!

Monday, September 20, 2004


Sunday, Sept 19, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Now Webcasting:
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays MDT
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
September Song by Lou Reed
Clampdown by The Clash
Hey Grandma by Moby Grape
I Want to See The Bright Lights Tonight by Richard Thompson
Jockey Full of Bourbon by Los Lobos
Just Let Go by The Hollis Wake
Everything That Touches You by The Association
My Way by Sid Vicious

Sho Nuff and Yes I Do by Captain Beefheart
The Desparate Man by The Black Keys
Ding Dang by Les Claypool
Evil by Interpol
The Last World of Fire and Trash by Joy Harjo
Since I Fell For You by Big Mama Thornton

The KKK Took My Baby Away by The Ramones
Dirty Action by Texas Terri Bomb
My Generation by Patti Smith
Never Say Never by Romeo Void
Spiders (Kidsmoke) by Wilco
Patootie Pie by Louis Jordan

Saucy Sailor by Steeleye Span
Freedom Park by Marah
Foreign Disaster Days by Brazilville
America Loves the Minstrel Show by American Music Club
Sleep Enough to Dream by Jon Dee Graham
Leader of the Pack by The Shangri-Las
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Sunday, September 19, 2004


The Santa Fe New Mexican and KOB-TV have sponsored a poll on the presidential race and the issues. Somehow it's involved with MSNBC and Knight-Ridder newspapers too.

The results of the presidential poll will be published Tuesday. Today we have results of New Mexicans' opinions on the war in Iraq. CLICK HERE. On Monday we'll publish what we found out on New Mexico's attitudes toward terrorism and security.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


Friday, September 17, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Now Webcasting:
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays MDT
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
I Think I'll Just Sit Here and Drink by Merle Haggard
American Question by Jason Ringenberg
Harm's Way by The Waco Brothers
Salute to a Switchboard by Tom T. Hall
There's a Higher Power by Buddy Miller
The Bridge Washed Out by Junior Brown
If I'm Going to Sink (I Might As Well Go to the Bottom) by Neko Case
As Soon As I Hang Up the Phone by Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty
Mike the Can Man by Joe West

Danko/Manuel by Drive-By Truckers
Country Boy by The Band
Wild as the Wind by Steve Forbert
A Change is Gonna Come by The Band
Diana by Alejandro Escovedo
Weighted Down by Skip Spence

Beautiful Dreamer by Raul Malo
Slumber My Darling by Alison Krauss
Old Black Joe by Van Morrison & Linda Gail Lewis
Swanee River Rock by Ray Charles
Nelly Was a Lady by Alvin Youngblood Hart
Camptown Races by The Bubbadinos
Hard Times Come Again No More by Mavis Staples
Oh Susanna by Ronny Elliott

Little Sister by Elvis Presley
Wake Up Call by Peter Case
Milk and Honey by Nels Andrews
The Bum I Loathe (Is Dead and Gone) by Desdemona Finch
Dear Mother by Acie Cargill
A Chance Counsel by Richard Buckner
So Much Wine by The Handsome Family
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots
Radio list

Friday, September 17, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
September 17, 2004

There’s no doubt that Stephen Foster is one of the greatest songwriters ever to spring from American soil. His songs paint a picture of the mid 19th Century that have become an ingrained part of the way we look at that era.

Making a tribute album to Foster is a long overdue idea. However Beautiful Dreamer: the Songs of Stephen Foster, the recent “various artists” tribute gives an incomplete picture of Foster, and thus an incomplete portrait of his era.

Quick history lesson: Though many of Foster’s best-known songs deal with the antebellum South, Foster was born near Pittsburgh, Pa. In 1826.

He is recognized as America’s first professional songwriter. But despite writing some songs still being sung 150 years later, his final days were spent in poverty, alcoholism and despair. At the age of 37 he committed suicide by slashing his own throat.

So that would make him the Kurt Cobain of his era. But before that, he was Elvis Presley.

Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and those who loved them were drawn to the wild and mysterious music called rhythm & blues and mutated it in a new style called rock ‘n’ roll. Likewise, many white musicians in Foster’s era were drawn to the African-American music of their era, turning it into blackface minstrel music. Beautiful Dreamer’s liner notes describes this music as “the rowdy, racist and first uniquely American form of popular entertainment.”

Several music historians have noted the sociological similarities between rock and minstrelsy.

Foster as a youth ate up the minstrel songs. While his songs were grounded in European styles, the minstrel element is what made Foster’s music unique and powerful.

But despite some fine performances by some respectable artists here, Beautiful Dreamer presents a largely bowdlerized, almost Disneyland version of Stephen Foster.

Sure it’s got the song “Beautiful Dreamer” (sung beautifully by Raul Malo), “Old Kentucky Home” (by native Kentuckian John Prine) and a breezy, funky “Oh Susanna” by Michelle Shocked, on which she is backed up by guitarist Pete Anderson.

And it’s got some pretty versions of lesser known Foster tunes. Grey DeLisle, who normally sings like she’s channeling spirits of the 19th Century, does her strange magic on “Willie We Have Missed You.” And the ever-amazing Allison Krauss will make you weak kneed on “Slumber My Darling.” which she sings with an ensemble including fiddler Mark O’Connor, bassist Edgar Meyer and classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

But what about “Old Black Joe”? What about “Massa’s in De Cold Ground”? Where is Foster’s minstrel side?

Politically incorrect? Why, sure.

But don’t say it can’t be done.

A couple of years ago Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis did a powerful rocking version of “Old Black Joe” that transcended any possible racist overtones. (Foster detractors tend to forget that like most the black people in Foster’s songs, Joe has always been a sympathetic character, not the subject of ridicule.)

And a couple of years ago Tampa, Fla. Roots rocker Ronny Elliott recorded a version of “Oh Susanna” that included a forgotten verse in which Foster actually used “the N word.”

“I jumped aboard the telegraph/And traveled down the river/The electric fluid magnified/ And killed 500 niggers.”

In his liner notes of his album Poisonville, Elliott wrote, “I restored the dreaded second verse to remind us that maybe society does inch along.” In doing so, Elliott raised serious questions. Is it better to forget these hideous reminders of the ugliness of our past? Should we whitewash -- so to speak -- our heritage, or confront head on ugly reminders of racism in our national heritage?

Beautiful Dreamer answers that question in its timidity.

To be fair, this album is hardly the first time Foster has been smoothed over for contemporary sensibilities. Despite what you learned in elementary school music class, (and despite the words John Prine sings here), in Foster’s original version it wasn’t the “old folks” who are “gay” in “My Old Kentucky Home.” (And as long as we’re cleaning up Foster, isn’t it time to rewrite that whole line?)

I’m not saying Michelle Shocked was obligated to sing “the dreaded second verse” of “Oh Susanna.” But wouldn’t it have been great to hear someone like Chuck D or Michael Frante do their own update of “Massa’s in De Cold Ground”?

As it happens, two of the strongest tunes here are by African-American performers. Mavis Staples does a passionate take on “Hard Times Come Again No More.”

But even better is Alvin Youngblood Hart’s rendition of an obscure Foster song from 1849 called “Nelly Was a Lady.” It’s the lament of a slave for his dead wife. The gruff-voiced bluesman sings the tune with the sad, simple dignity Foster intended.

Despite Foster’s minstrel-show roots and demeaning racial slurs in some of the songs, Foster had the respect of black abolition leader Frederick Douglass, who praised Foster’s empathy for slaves.

And later, W.C. Handy, the “Father of the Blues,” would write, “The well of sorrow from which Negro music is drawn is also a well of mystery....I suspect that Stephen Foster owed something to this well, this mystery, this sorrow.”

Too bad Beautiful Dreamer doesn’t delve deeper into the complex well of Stephen Foster.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 16, 2004

Back in December when North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was campaigning for president in Santa Fe, he spoke fondly of Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who endorsed Edwards early in the game — the most prominent New Mexico politician to do so — and was running his campaign for the New Mexico Democratic caucus.

“Patsy’s our rock star,” Edwards told me.

It’s obvious Edwards holds Madrid in high regard. She stood in for him at a candidate debate in Arizona. And just a couple of months ago at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Edwards — by then the vice presidential nominee — invited Madrid and her husband, Mike Messina, to join the Edwards family in their box seat to watch John Kerry's acceptance speech.

So it’s somewhat surprising when Edwards came to Museum Hill for a campaign stop Monday, the “rock star” was nowhere to be seen.

Not only that, Madrid didn’t make it to Edwards’ previous New Mexico appearance, a rally in Las Cruces last month.

Some have speculated that the conflict between Madrid and Gov. Bill Richardson — who introduced Edwards Monday and stayed on stage for the entire event — might have something to do with Madrid’s absences.

(Richardson seemed sort of like a “rock star” Monday as he took the stage to a loud version of Diana Ross & The Supremes’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”)

In recent months the governor and the attorney general have wrangled over a number of issues — especially Madrid’s opinions that Richardson’s attempt to purchase a plane with state highway funds and his policy of requiring advance undated letters of resignation from board members violate the state constitution.

But the rivalry with Richardson isn't why madrid stayed away, the Madrid camp insists.

“It was just a scheduling conflict,” Madrid spokeswoman Caroline Buerkle said of Monday’s visit.

Something official? “No it was a personal scheduling conflict,” she said.

Another scheduling conflict kept Madrid away from the Las Cruces event, Buerkle said.

“Sen. Edwards called her when he was in Las Cruces,” Buerkle said.

For his part, at Monday’s event Richardson paid a compliment to Madrid — without mentioning her name — saying Edwards had a good organization for last February’s caucus. (Edwards came in a distant fourth in that contest, behind Kerry, Wesley Clark and Howard Dean.)

The governor’s assessment was the opposite of Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, another Madrid rival, who in July told a reporter, “You didn't see much of an (Edwards) organization here, just a few people out front.”

Vanity of vanities: National publicity for the governor has slowed down since the July convention in Boston. But a recent article in about New Mexico as a swing state ended with a discussion of Richardson.

Slate’s associate editor Bryan Curtis quoted an unnamed “Democratic lobbyist” saying that many Democrats view Richardson “with suspicion and dread.”

According to that lobbyist, “He’s not one of us — not a plebe. He’s not from here, wasn’t raised here. [Richardson was born in California and spent part of his childhood in Mexico City.] He came here for one reason: running for office.”

The article states that the governor thinks “he’s destined to be the first minority candidate to run on a national ticket. (When it became obvious Kerry was leaning another way for vice president this summer, Richardson dramatically withdrew his name from consideration.) A Kerry collapse in New Mexico could effectively snuff out Richardson’s big plans ...”

After quoting Richardson spokesman Billy Sparks expressing optimism about Kerry’s chances in New Mexico, the article concludes, “I have no doubt George Bush can beat John Kerry in New Mexico. It’s less clear whether he can overcome Bill Richardson’s vanity.”


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 16, 2004

Nearly two thirds of the 31,000-plus signatures to put Ralph Nader on the state ballot are “defective” and shouldn’t be counted, according to a legal action filed Wednesday by a group of Democrats — and one Green Party maverick — in an attempt to sink Nader’s candidacy in New Mexico.

Filing in state district court in Albuquerque, the anti-Nader group claims Nader isn’t qualified to run as an independent because he is running as the Reform Party presidential candidate in some states and as the standard bearer for other minor parties in other states.

“They’re making a sham of the whole election,” Nader’s New Mexico coordinator Carol Miller said. “If by some horrible desecration of New Mexico law they succeed in keeping Ralph Nader off the ballot, I predict those votes will go to the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and to George W. Bush, not to Kerry. There will be a backlash.”

A spokesman for the state Democratic Party said the case will be heard Friday morning by state District Judge Wendy York.

The suit was filed after more than a week in which Democrats examined the thousands of pages of petition signatures submitted by Nader backers last week.

“As is the case here, when the Republicans hijack a candidacy, as a means to distract from Bush’s record, it takes a lot of effort and energy to bring honesty into the process,” said state Democratic Party spokesman Matt Farrauto.

Democrats claim Republicans are behind Nader’s effort here — a claimed based on the fact that a Republican state senator distributed some Nader petitions, a petition collection company with Republican ties helped gather signatures and because Republicans have aided Nader in other states this year. Miller disputes that claim.

The common wisdom is that Nader takes votes from Democratic John Kerry.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Vanessa Alarid, the executive director of the state Democratic Party; Abe Gutmann — who founded an organization called Greens for Kerry; Moises Griego, chairman of the Democratic Party in Valencia County; and Richard Kirschner and Laura LaFlamme of Albuquerque.

Named as the defendant was Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil Giron, whose office last week certified Nader to be on the ballot. She will be represented in court by the state attorney general’s office.

Miller said lawyers working for Nader will attempt to intervene to make the Nader campaign part of the case.

The suit was filed after ballots for at least six New Mexico counties have been sent to the printer. State Election Bureau director Denise Lamb said this week that absentee ballots have to be sent to New Mexico members of the military by Saturday.

The suit argues claims there are more than 19,000 defective signatures.

According to the suit:
*10,852 names do not appear on the secretary of state’s voter rolls.
*At least 4,598 signatures are identified to addresses for which no voter is registered.
*At least 2,580 signatures are illegible
*At least 850 signatures have been termed “suspect” by a handwriting expert.
*212 people who signed live in different counties than the one listed on top of the petitions they signed.
*At least 78 signatures belong to people who signed more than once.
Nader needs 14,527 valid signatures to get on the ballot.

Miller said she stands by her petitions.

“I predict next week we’ll all be in a room passing pages of signatures around to lawyers, handwriting experts, tea leaf readers and who knows who else,” she said. “Is this what elections have come to?”

Ralph Nader is on the ballot in 33 states plus Washington D.C., according to an online newsletter that keeps track of the progress of minor parties in the country.

According to Ballot Access News, the states that have placed Nader on the ballot are:

Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa. Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

But, the site notes that in several of these, court actions filed against Nader could remove him from the ballot. Those states — all considered battleground states by Democrats and Republicans — are Arkansas, Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Democrats in New Mexico Wednesday filed legal action in an attempt to remove Nader from the ballot.

In addition, there are seven more states in which Nader’s future as a candidate rests with judges. These are Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.

In Florida it’s been topsy-turvy for Nader.

On Wednesday, Circuit Judge P. Kevin Davey ordered that Nader’s name be removed from the November ballot, finding that the Reform Party — which nominated Nader — isn’t a legitimate party under state law. Davey also ordered that four counties that have already mailed absentee ballots listing Nader send out amended ballots without his name.

Davey had issued a temporary order last week keeping Nader off the ballot, but his ruling was suspended Monday after Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood filed an appeal. Davey’s ruling on Wednesday reinstates his original decision.
Florida’s Supreme Court has scheduled a Friday hearing on the appeal.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 14, 2004

When you enter Milner Plaza on Museum Hill, there’s no way you’ll miss the striking 18-foot bronze statue of an Apache mountain-spirit dancer near the entrance of the Museum of American Arts and Culture.

Unless maybe you have campaign workers hold tall political banners to block the view of the huge statue.

That’s what happened Monday morning at the campaign appearance of Democratic Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards.

As Edwards spoke and took questions from crowd, campaign workers held big Kerry-Edwards banners that obscured the view of the 1995 work by San Carlos Apache sculptor Craig Dan Goseyun.

A local volunteer who helped set up the area for the Edwards stop said someone from the campaign told him that the statue should be hidden behind the signs because people from other parts of the country viewing photos or footage from the rally might think the hulking figure was a “war dancer.”

The items the dancer holds in his hands could be interpreted as weapons, the volunteer said he was told.

“I argued that they should show the statue,” the volunteer said. “This is the Southwest and it’s a beautiful statue.”

But that’s an argument he lost to the campaign higher-ups.

Ruben Pulido, a spokesman for the state Kerry-Edwards campaign, said Monday that he thinks the campaign put the banners in front of the statue because “it’s just good sign placement.”

“I agree it’s a beautiful statue,” Pulido said. “I just think (the campaign) just wanted to frame the shots.”

Dody Fugate, assistant curator for the state’s Archaeological Research Collection, said Monday that the Apache Mountain Spirit is not a warrior, but a healer.
“It’s a spirit from the mountain that produces rain and dances at healing ceremonies, and dances at girls’ puberty rites,” she said.

The tablita the dancer holds in one hand and the bull-roarer held above the dancer’s head represent lightning and thunder, Fugate said. “They’re weapons of healing,” she said.

More coverage of Edwards visit CLICK HERE

Monday, September 13, 2004


Sunday, Sept. 12, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Now Webcasting:
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays MDT

Annual Labor Show

Host: Steve Terrell
Co-host Stanley "Rosebud" Rosen

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
Plenty Tough and Union Made by The Waco Brothers
Joe Hill by Paul Robeson
There is Power in the Union/No More Layoffs/Public Workers Stand Together by
The Solidarity Singers
Then Workin' Man Can't Get Nowhere Today by Peter Case
Workin' Man's Blues by Merle Haggard
Working Man Blues by Louis Armstrong & King Oliver

In Every Street Down With the Police by The Jewish Labor Bund
The Wreck of the Old 97/San Quentin by Johnny Cash
Union Fights the Battle of Freedom/The Memorial Day Massacre by Bucky Halker
King Harvest Has Surely Come by The Band
Bread and Roses by Brooklyn Women's Chorus

Pie in the Sky by Stanley "Rosebud" Rosen
The Unwelcome Guest by Billy Bragg & Wilco
(excerpt from a Howard Zinn speech)
Sad State of Affairs by The Descendents
The Greatest Bulb is Burned Out by Billy Bragg
Rich Man's War by Steve Earle
Corporate Me by Kito Peters
Decolores/We Were There by The Brooklyn Women's Choir

Turn Back the Hands of Time/Trust in Me by Eddie Fischer
Sweetheart on the Barricade by Richard Thompson
If Jimmy Didn't Have to Go by Charlie King & Karen Brandow
Solidarity Forever by The Solidarity Singers
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

Saturday, September 11, 2004


The Santa Fe Opry
Friday, Sept. 10, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
Now Webcasting
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays MDT
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens & The Buckaroos
Cash on the Barrelhead by Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris
The Buck Starts Here by Robbie Fulks
Where's the Money by Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks
Busted by Ray Charles
Black Magic by Betty Dylan
If You've Got the Money, I've Got The Time by Lefty Frizzell
Brother Can You Spare a Dime by Odetta & Dr. John

Nowhereville by Ronny Elliott
Fiesta by The Pogues
Mezcal Road by Joe "King" Carrasco
Una Mas Cerveza by Billy Bacon & The Forbidden Pigs
Tijuana Waltz by Jenny Kerr
Volver Volver by Jon Dee Graham

Hear Jerusalem Moan by Tammy Faye Starlite
You Were Always On My Mind by Eric Ambel
Fall on the Rock by Buddy Miller
Reprimand by Joe West
Home to Houston by Steve Earle
Curly Toes by (unknown)

The Virginian by Neko Case
Where Has All the Money Gone by Junior Brown
Man in Black by Johnny Cash
Sweethearts Together by The Rolling Stones
Goners by Michael Hurley
Liver by Desdemona Finch
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

Steve Terrell is proud to report to the monthly Freeform American Roots
Radio list

Friday, September 10, 2004


Last night was the annual burning of Zozobra, one of the world's most ultra-bitchen community celebrations of all time. I went with my son, which is what I've been doing nearly every year since 1995 when he was three.

For those who don't know, Zozobra is a massive 40-50-foot monster puppet who is ritually burned to symbolically burn our gloom of the past year. Last night was the 80th burning. (CLICK HERE FOR MORE ZOZOBRA INFO)

I'd seen Zozobra a few times before we moved here in 1968. Since then, I've only missed twice.

In 1973 my friends and I got to drunk and didn't make it in time. We arrived at Ft. Marcy Ball right when the lights came on.

Then last year I missed it because of the Democratic Presidential debates in Albuquerque where seven or eight candidates did their best to burn Howard Dean.

What amazes me is how the Zozobra ritual has grown and evolved. When I first saw it I was probably about three. Back then Santa Fe was so small, people drove their cars into the ballpark and watched from right outside the cars.

All I remember is that I was terrified.

But in a good way.

For years the ritual was just one guy (Harold Gans) moaning with a crude drum beat in the background. The Fire Dancer danced, torched Old man Gloom and then the fireworks went off.

Now it's grown into an impressive and elaborate pseudo-Pagan spectacle with several dancers -- The Queen of Gloom and her court -- fancy syncopated drums and eerie music. Still a lot of moaning and fireworks and they still have a Fire Dancer.

This was Katy Lilienthal's first year and she was beautiful. Her dad Chip did it
for 30-plus years. (His mentor Jacques Cartier did it for 30 years or so before that.) Katy got the job only after some controversy. (Check my August archives, Aug. 11 post)

My only disappointment this year was that there was no "Gauntlet of Jesus" afterwards. Usually there's a line of folks the Potter's House with bullhorns berating the crowd and passing out those cool Jack Chick comics where people go to Hell for cussing etc.

A few years ago when that kid got killed on the Plaza in a gang shooting, the shooter's family was up with the Potter's House screaming bloody Christ at the crowd. (It was after that when they moved the burning from Friday to Thursday, which I still feel is a shame. I know many disagree -- especially my police friends -- but I liked it when the crowd was crazier and there was someplace to go after the burning.)

A few years later the Potter's House folk got too pushy with the cops and lots of them ended up getting pepper-sprayed in the face. It was sad how many free-speech liberals applauded what many of them would call "police abuse" if the victims had been different. (I can't believe it: My original story on that incident is still on the web! CLICK HERE)

Sure, the Jesus screamers are annoying but they've become part of the tradition and I missed them. This year they had a band on a traffic island -- I'm pretty sure it was a Jesus rock band -- but no bullhorns and no Chick comics. Now if we all go to Hell for seeing Zozobra without repenting NOBODY WARNED US!

Otherwise, Viva la Fiesta!


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 10, 2004

It’s curious that Billy and the Kid is credited solely to Billy Joe Shaver, considering that most of the vocals and songwriting and virtually all of the guitar work was done by his son Eddy, who was “the Kid” of the title.

It’s ironic because during the years that Eddy Shaver played with his dad, the albums were credited to “Shaver,” a band name that was shorthand for giving the father and the son equal credit.

And as a matter of fact, most the cuts here were originally intended as part of an Eddy Shaver solo album -- a project that was halted when Eddy died of a drug overdose on New Year’s Eve 2000.

In the liner notes Billy Joe writes that he and his son’s musical collaborator Tony Colton finished the album after “visits and instructions from Eddy.” I’ve listen to enough of Billy Joe Shaver’s music to know that this God-fearing Texan is not the type to make such a claim lightly.

While it’s touching that Shaver would do this for his son, the sad truth is that it doesn’t measure up to most of his albums of the past 10-15 years.

First of all, poor Eddy just wasn’t the songwriter his dad is. In truth, few people are. Billy Joe’s tunes on Waylon Jennings’ classic Honky Tonk Heroes (including the title song, “You Asked Me To,“ “Black Rose” and seven others) practically defined the “outlaw” movement of the ‘70s. (And Billy Joe didn’t rest on his laurels. His songwriting in the last 10 years is as strong as ever.)
Secondly, Eddy’s music, a metal-tinged blues/boogey that seems to aim somewhere between Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gv’t. Mule, gets monotonous.

That’s not to say Eddy doesn’t have some good moments on this album. “Baptism of Fire,” a live recording, is a slow burner. With its images of “long legged women in short, short skirts,” and “holy rollers who ride subway trains,” sung to a backdrop of liquidy guitar, shows Eddy at least had the beginnings of an interesting songwriting career.

The same could be said of “Eagle on the Ground,” a demo featuring just Eddy and his guitar. The picking is flashy on this minor-key tune, but the lyrics, which deal with the cost of addiction -- “there were demons in them bottles that tore the angels down and set afire their wings” -- give the song its punch.

But it’s the father, not the kid, who has the best songs on the album.

“Fame,” a lo-fi recording of Billy Joe strumming a guitar, is a simple but moving reflection about loss and failure.

But best of all is the ultra-spooky “Window Rock,” in which Shaver’s fire-and brimstone Christianity melds with Native American mysticism. Over a spacey, psychedelia-dripping guitarscape by Eddy, Billy Joe sings:

“If you take enough peyote, evil ones will soon find you/They will stalk you in the dream world, but Window Rock will see you through/by the light of the Navajo moon.”

I can see why Billy Joe wanted to complete his son’s album. And besides, you can’t argue with “visits and instructions.” But I’m hoping he’s busy right now writing new songs and getting on with his own work.


* Rubber Factory by The Black Keys.
Normally the music snob in me would look askance and hold my nose at a couple of goofy looking white kids from Akron, Ohio making a career of pounding the crap out of cranked up old blues riffs.

That’s exactly what The Black Keys do. And not much more.

But somehow, they make it work. In fact the new album by The Keys, for the most part is just as brash and unabashed -- and just as simple -- as their previous two.

But singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach seems to be singing with more confidence. And Patrick Carney tears into his drum set as if he’s trying to summon the wicked spirit of Keith Moon. The music bounces and flows.

Most the songs are raw garage blues rampages. But there are a couple of spots where the Keys dare to get pretty. “The Lengths” is a minimalist soul ballad, with Auerbach making a lap steel scream for joy.

All but two of the songs are original (O.K., “Stack Shot Billy” is a rewrite of “Stagolee”). But their choice of covers shows The Keys have fine tastes.

“Act Nice And Gentle” is an old Kinks song. Auerbach and Carney perform it like a tougher version of Mungo Jerry. (And the lap steel gets a great workout here.)

The other cover is bluesman Robert Pete Williams’ ode to self-loathing, “Grown So Ugly,” previously covered (37 years ago) by Capt. Beefheart. The Keys were undoubtedly influenced by Beefheart’s version, but theirs is even more primitive.

The Black Keys will be in Santa Fe 10 p.m. Tuesday. They’re playing at The Paramount. They’re the official “after party” for Neko Case and The Handsome Family, who are playing earlier at The Lensic. Tickets for the Black Keys are $12, but if you have a Neko ticket stub they’re only $5.

Big Barn Dance: Taos singer Michael Hearne presents his second annual Big Barn Dance this weekend at The Old Blinking Light and Casa de Caballos Barn in Taos. The acts this year include Terri Hendrix with Lloyd Maines, Bill & Bonnie Hearne, The Buckarettes, Manzanares, Syd Masters & The Swing Riders, Shake Russell & Dana Cooper, Luke Reed, Mentor Williams, The Rifters and of course Michael Hearne & South by Southwest.

Ticket prices range from $25 to $50. For a complete schedule CLICK HERE


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 10, 2004

The state Bureau of Elections on Thursday certified independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader to be on New Mexico’s general-election ballot. But the chairman of the state Democratic Party said his party is likely to file legal action to derail Nader, possibly as early as today.

“Ralph Nader is not a legitimate independent candidate," Democratic chairman John Wertheim said Thursday. “We doubt this Republican-backed petition drive is sufficient. It’s very likely we’ll challenge it.”

But time is quickly running out. Earlier this week state elections director Denise Lamb said her office will have to mail absentee ballots to New Mexico voters who are in the military and/or overseas by the end of next week.

Carol Miller, Nader’s New Mexico coordinator, said that Wertheim’s threat of a lawsuit “shows disrespect to the courts and to the people of the state.”

Although the Nader campaign this week submitted petitions with more than 31,000 signatures — more than twice the number needed — Wertheim said Democrats checking the petitions found “a bunch” of signatures of people not registered to vote. He declined to give an exact number.

But another argument Democrats might make in court is that Nader isn’t truly an independent candidate because he’s been endorsed by several minor parties, including the Reform Party, the Peace and Justice Party, the Populist Party and the Independent Party of Delaware.

Last month a panel of three judges in Pennsylvania ruled that Nader shouldn’t be on the ballot as an independent in that state because he is the Reform Party’s nominee.

It isn’t clear whether New Mexico election law has the same provision that knocked out Nader in Pennsylvania.

In this state an independent candidate is defined as a “candidate without party affiliation.” It would be up to a court to determine whether Nader is affiliated with parties in other states that endorse him.

In Florida this week, a court ruled that Nader couldn’t be on the ballot as the Reform Party candidate because that party — started by Texas billionaire Ross Perot who ran for president twice in the 1990s — is not a legitimate national party and did not follow Florida law in giving Nader its nomination.

Miller predicted a court will quickly throw out any Democratic lawsuit in New Mexico.
“I can’t imagine any lawsuit against us getting any votes for John Kerry,” she said. “I think there could be a backlash against them.”

Democrats nationwide are afraid that Nader will pull votes away from Democrat Kerry and perhaps throw the election to President Bush.

Some New Mexico Republicans — including state Sen. Rod Adair of Roswell — advocated that Republicans sign Nader’s petitions.

In New Mexico four years ago, Democrat Al Gore beat Bush by only 366 votes. Nader, at that time running as the Green Party candidate, received 21,251 votes.

Few political observers expect Nader to do that well this year. An Albuquerque Journal poll this week showed Nader at only 1 percent — about a quarter of his 2000 total.

Despite his setback in Florida, Nader received some good news Thursday when an Oregon judge ruled that Nader’s name should appear on Oregon’s ballot — overturning a decision by the state’s Democratic secretary of state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Thursday, September 09, 2004


While the national board of the Log Cabin Republicans -- an organization of gay and lesbian members of the GOP -- announced this week that they would not endorse President Bush for re-election, New Mexico's Log Cabin leader reassured state Republicans that he's still on board with Bush.

"As you know, while echoing Vice President Cheney in respectfully disagreeing with the Federal Marriage Amendment issue, I have continued to be a vocal and financial supporter of President George W. Bush and of Bush-Cheney '04," Pat Killen of Albuquerque wrote in a letter to state Republican honchos.

Cheney, who is the father of a lesbian, recently said, "People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to."

Killen, 24, said he has given a total of $330 to the Bush campaigns this year and in 2000, plus $250 in "soft money" to the Republican Party at a Bush event four years ago.

He was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in New York last week.

Killen said the bylaws of the national Log Cabin Republicans specify that state and local chapters don't get involved in federal races. "I strongly believe that President Bush must continue to provide his steady leadership of our nation in these times of change and challenge, especially in the areas of protecting our homeland, fighting the war on terror and strengthening our economy," Killen wrote.

But support by Bush -- and the Republican convention -- for the proposed constitutional amendment that would outlaw same-sex marriages is the main reason the national Log Cabins decided to withhold support for Bush's re-election.

The organization also objected to a section of the Republican platform that Killen says condemns "any and all legal recognition of gay and lesbian families, including domestic partnerships or civil unions."

Killen said another reason for the Log Cabins not endorsing Bush was the GOP Platform Committee's refusal to adopt a "unity plank" that had been endorsed by their group as well as abortion-rights groups called Republicans for Choice and the Republican Youth Majority.

State Sen. Joe Carraro, R-Albuquerque, who was on the platform committee, said Wednesday that after discussions with the various groups, the committee approved a slightly different version of the "unity plank," which said, "As the party of the open door, while steadfast in our commitment to our ideals, we respect and accept that members of our party can have deeply held and sometimes differing views. This diversity is a source of strength, not a sign of weakness, and so we welcome into our ranks all who may hold differing positions."

Carraro said the Platform Committee believed that the main focus of the platform should be the big issues -- the war on terrorism and the economy. The committee decided to go along with Bush's wishes -- without a great deal of discussion -- on other issues such as gay rights and abortion, Carraro said.

"This was the platform the president wanted," Carraro said.

The Log Cabin Republicans, who endorsed Bush and paid for television commercials for him in 2000, say exit polls indicate that more than a million gays and lesbians voted for the GOP ticket that year -- including nearly 50,000 in Florida.

In his letter to the state GOP, Killen stressed that the national Log Cabin group is not endorsing John Kerry. He pointed to the official statement of the board that applauds Bush for his foreign and economic policies.

He didn't mention the part of the statement that said, "Log Cabin's decision was made in response to the White House's strategic political decision to pursue a re-election strategy catered to the radical right."

But in that statement, the gay Republicans also said, "Log Cabin also denounces the continued flip-flops on gay and lesbian issues from Democratic nominee John Kerry. Senator Kerry has repeatedly made clear his opposition to civil-marriage equality and has supported discriminatory constitutional amendments in Massachusetts and Missouri."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 8, 2004

Unless Democrats can disqualify more than half the 31,000-plus petition signatures submitted Tuesday for independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, the controversial consumer advocate will be on November’s general-election ballot in New Mexico.

Carol Miller, Nader’s New Mexico coordinator, submitted the petitions to the Secretary of State’s office Tuesday.

Miller said the petition drive was successful despite “organized and well-funded malicious attacks” by Democrats, who fear Nader will draw enough votes from their candidate, John Kerry, to tip the state to President Bush.

Although the state has only five electoral votes, New Mexico is a battleground state in what most pundits think will be a close election.

Miller said Nader petition gatherers had been harassed and intimidated by Democrats. “We’re just lucky we had some strong people,” she said.

“I’m calling on the New Mexico Democratic Party to take the high ground,” Miller said. “I’d encourage the Democrats not to divert their energy on Ralph Nader and concentrate on getting out the vote for John Kerry.”

State Election Director Denise Lamb said she expects to certify Nader’s name for the ballot this week. Nader needs valid signatures of 14,527 registered voters.

Lamb said her office only checks whether signatures are legible and contain a name and address. She said her office doesn’t check voter-registration lists to determine if each signature on a Nader petition is valid. Instead, the office checks to see if names are legible and include addresses.

However, a private group — such as the Democratic Party — could file a lawsuit to challenge the validity of petition signatures. Matt Furtado, a state Democratic party spokesman, said Tuesday that Democrats might do just that.

“Given Ralph Nader’s submission of insufficient signatures in Virginia, Missouri, Arizona and Pennsylvania, we will be reviewing those (New Mexico signatures) very carefully.”

Any lawsuit would have to be filed quickly because voting for overseas military begins Sept. 18. Absentee voting for other New Mexico voters begins Oct. 5.

The president of an anti-Nader group that purchased television commercials in New Mexico last month said Tuesday that it looks as if Nader will be on New Mexico’s ballot.

David Jones of The Nader Factor said his group will concentrate on trying to convince potential Nader voters that “the only way to stop the Bush agenda is to unify with the Democrats. Issues they care about — job outsourcing, health care, consumer rights, the environment — are all being undermined by the Bush presidency.”

Jones said he didn’t have the state-by-state breakdown for money spent trying to stop Nader, so he couldn’t say how much The Nader Factor has spent in New Mexico. The organization — which is a 527 political group — has spent about $300,000 nationwide, he said.

That figure doesn’t include the legal costs for the Democratic parties of various states fighting Nader in courts. According to Ballot Access News — a newsletter dedicated to minor political parties — the Nader campaign has pending legal battles in seven states.

Furtado repeated state Democratic claims that Republicans in the state are using Nader’s campaign to hurt Kerry. He pointed to state Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, who circulated Nader petitions via e-mail.

Adair said Tuesday he only gathered “a couple of thousand” signatures for Nader.

But Miller said she didn’t accept any of Adair’s petitions. “I said all along that we didn’t need Rod Adair’s help,” she said.

However, Lamb said, “I don’t know if they’re from Rod Adair, but there sure are a lot of signatures from Chaves County.” Chaves is Adair’s county.

Adair has agreed that Nader’s name on the ballot helps Republicans. But he’s countered that the Libertarian Party, whose candidate Michael Badnarik is on this state’s ballot, draws votes away from the GOP.

Also on the New Mexico presidential ballot are the Green Party’s David Cobb and The Constitution Party’s Michael Peroutka.

“Voters want choice,” Adair said. “It’s part of democracy, despite what the Democrats want.”

In 2000 Democrat Al Gore beat Bush in New Mexico by 366 votes statewide. In that election, Nader, who was running as the Green Party candidate, got 21,251 votes, which was about 4 percent.

Most observers don’t expect Nader to get nearly that much support here this year. An Albuquerque Journal poll on Sunday showed Nader with only about 1 percent.

Nader had good news and bad news in other states Tuesday.

In Wisconsin — another battleground state — Nader supporters turned in twice the number of signatures he needs to get on the ballot there. Only 2,000 valid signatures are required in Wisconsin.

More on Nader Here

Monday, September 06, 2004


Sunday, Sept. 5, 2004
KSFR, Santa Fe, N.M.
Now Webcasting:
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays MDT
Host: Steve Terrell

OPENING THEME: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
On Broadway by Neil Young
Romeo Had Juliette by Lou Reed
NYC by Steve Earle
The Man From Harlem by Cab Calloway
Forty Deuce by Black 47
Uptown by Loudon Wainwright III
New York City Cops by The Strokes

Good Guys/Bad Guys Cheer by Country Joe & The Fish
Empty Sky by Bruce Springsteen
53rd & 3rd by The Ramones
Hard Times in New York Town by Bob Dylan
New York City by They Might Be Giants
New York, New York by Tiny Tim & Brave Combo
I Gotcha by Joe Tex
Big Brother by Mose Allison
Don't Hang Up by The Orlons

Just Couldn't Tie Me Down by The Black Keys
The Wheel by Dinosaur Jr.
Lost in Music by The Fall
I Have Been to Heaven and Back by The Mekons
The Slow Drug by P.J. Harvey
Walk Idiot Walk by The Hives
Let it Be Me by Magic Elephant Orchestra

Patriot's Heart by American Music Club
Automatic Blues by Chuck Prophet
Dreaming Awake by Bing
Falling by Julee Cruise
World So Full by Jon Dee Graham
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

(The above photo, featuring my pals Dedemona, Doug and Chuck, was taken Thursday night at the photo booth at The Lakeside Lounge in New York City.)

Saturday, September 04, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
September 3, 2004

Remember how in the early ’90s some music-marketing geniuses tried to promote Johnny Cash and Tony Bennett as “alternative-rock” stars? It wasn’t a totally wrongheaded ploy in either case — mainly because both artists kept true to their respective art.

Today there’s a hot “new” star from the days of yesteryear for the electronica crowd: Lawrence Welk. I’m not kidding.

Upstairs at Larry’s: Lawrence Welk Uncorked is a compilation of DJ/techno/dance/electronica remixes of favorite (well, somebody’s favorite) Lawrence Welk tunes.

In case you never got hip to the Lawrence trip, Welk was a North Dakota-born band leader who died in 1992 at the age of 89. The son of Alsatian immigrants, Welk didn’t speak English until he was 21 years old. His dense German accent and smiling countenance became ingrained in the popular consciousness beginning in the mid-1950s when his weekly television show debuted. The show aired on ABC until 1971, then went to syndication until the early ’80s.

The Lawrence Welk Orchestra’s basic sound was soft, safe and sanitized — lots of clarinet, accordion and syrupy, young-Caucasian vocals. Saxophones with no trace of Charlie Parker grit. And if Lawrence approved of a performance, he’d respond at the end of the song with a hearty “wunnerful, wunnerful, wunnerful!”

Welk was known as a puritan. He once fired a female singer for showing “too much knee” on TV. But Welk’s sound had a hedonistic side. Just like the Grateful Dead will always be linked with LSD, and Bob Marley’s music is synonymous with ganja, Welk’s music is forever associated with a certain intoxicant: champagne.

Welk’s heirs own Vanguard, that respected folk-music label, which normally doesn’t release stuff sounding remotely like techno — or Lawrence Welk, for that matter. And I’m a huge fan of neither techno nor Welk. I’m completely unfamiliar with the remix artists who mutated the champagne music. But this album is so surreal and so much goofy fun, it won me over.

My favorites here are “You Can Dance,” done by Q-Burns Abstract Message. I’m not sure who the vocalist is — one of the Lennon Sisters perhaps? — whose line, “You can dance with any girl at all,” is repeated robotically throughout the tune.

“Let it Be Me” — yes, the ballad recorded by Jerry Butler and Betty Everett, the Everly Brothers and many others — is made into something dark and sinister by Magic Elephant Orchestra.

But perhaps best of all is the remix of “You Are My Sunshine” by Joy & the Spider. It sounds like a love song for androids. I’m not sure if the late Gov. Jimmy Davis would recognize this version of his signature song, but with its sped-up vocals (one singer sounds like Bryan Ferry), it’s a creepy joy.

Some minor complaints: there didn’t have to be two versions of essentially the same song, “Baby Elephant Walk,” a Henry Mancini ditty from the soundtrack of Hatari, an early-’60s John Wayne movie. I’m not sure which version I prefer here, the one by Monkey Bars or the one by DJ Keri and DJ 43, which they’ve tweaked to call “Baby Elephant Safari.”

Also, David Lynch was so successful in filling the song “Blue Velvet” with dread and horror in his 1986 movie of the same name — sung there by actress Isabella Rossellini without the benefit of technological tricks of a DJ remix — that Smitty’s best efforts were doomed to sound second-rate.

Though it’s a novelty album to be sure, Upstairs at Larry’s is a bubbly pleasure. All in all, it’s wunnerful, wunnerful, wunnerful.

Also recommended

Ride This by Los Lobos.
I was pretty disappointed with Los Lobos’ most recent proper album, The Ride. I felt it was one of those overrun-by-guest-stars affairs; it had too many remakes of old Lobos tunes, and a good number of those remakes were less than impressive.

But now, just a couple of months later, the band comes out with this fine little seven-song EP in which they cover songs by some of those guest stars on The Ride.

They bring out the just-beneath-the-surface Latin overtones of Tom Waits’ “Jockey Full of Bourbon,” while maintaining the knowing-hipster attitude of the “Rain Dogs” tune. Cesar Rosas sounds like he was born at Stax Studio on Bobby Womack’s “More Than I Can Stand.”

Their version of “Shoot Out the Lights” sounds similar to Bob Mould’s take on the song in the early ’90s, with screaming guitars and knuckle-sandwich drums. It’s as tough as Louie Perez’s singing on Rub√©n Blades’ “Patria” is beautiful.

With the roller-rinky organ and jazzy guitars of Thee Midnighters’ “It’ll Never Be Over For Me,” Los Lobos captures the rock sound of East L.A. in the ’60s. They do the same thing for the L.A. roots-rock scene of the early ’80s — the scene that launched Los Lobos — with their cover of the Blasters’ “Marie Marie.”

But perhaps the thing that makes Ride This more satisfying than The Ride is that Los Lobos, especially singer David Hidalgo, does Elvis Costello’s “Uncomplicated” so much better here than Elvis Costello did Los Lobos’ “Matter of Time” on The Ride. They do the song as a slow-burning, growling-guitar boogie, and Hidalgo sings it with understated soul.

Friday, September 03, 2004


I'll be back in Santa Fe tomorrow, but not in time to do The Santa Fe Opry. I've left that in the capable hands of Tom Knoblauch and Laurell Reynolds.

I'll be there for Terrell's Sound World on Sunday night. Hope you'll be there too.

I'll be posting this week's Terrell's Tune-up hopefully Saturday morning. And, oh yes, at some point this weekend I intend to clean up these convention posts from New York -- zap some of the late-night, rush-job typos, add links, bold, italics, etc. For some reason I can't do much of that from this silly laptop.

And if you're up early Saturday -- about 7:30 a.m. -- I've agreed to be interviewed for a CSPAN program about battleground state politics. Hopefully I'll have time to get a couple of cups of coffee in me.


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 3, 2004

NEW YORK _ Just a few blocks south of Madison Square Garden on Seventh Avenue, there’s a building with a huge banner reading “Save America. Defeat Bush.”

And on the 15th floor of the building is a complex of offices filled with 30-50 people -- both paid staff and volunteers -- dedicated to the idea expressed on that banner.

Welcome to the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee’s Convention Response Team, spearheading the Democrats’ fight to keep their message and their candidate John Kerry from getting buried by the overwhelming amount of GOP-related news during the week of the Republican convention.

The idea isn’t new. Republicans had a similar operation in Boston when the Democrats met in convention.

There’s a television studio and a radio studio used for recording Democratic spokesmen responding to convention speeches. There’s an office where people arrange for Democratic leaders to appear on t.v. and radio news shows.

There are offices dedicated to organizing press conferences and events around the city during the convention.

And there’s even workers there who are engaged in what could be described as “psychological warfare” against Republican delegates.

Kevin Wardally, the New York campaign director for the response team, said he intended to put campaign posters -- ones with the slogans “Mission Not Accomplished” and “America Can Do Better” on lampposts around delegate hotels.

When police nixed that idea, Wardally said his workers called every Democratic and independent voter in the surrounding neighborhoods to put signs with the Kerry slogans in their windows.

Wardally also organizes Kerry supporters wearing T-shirts with those slogans to show up at live televised programs such as morning news shows that take place outside.

But the real nerve center of the operation is “The War Room,” in which about a dozen researchers sit at tables with their laptops monitoring news on seven television sets.

On the walls in the windowless room are common Democratic messages to be stressed: “Lost 1.8 million private sector jobs.” “Family income down by $1,400.”

There also are unflattering photos of convention speakers such as Vice President Cheney and Sen. Zell Miller, D- Georgia.

When they hear something they consider inaccurate or contradictory from a Republican, the laptop warriors research it, write up press releases and zap it to reporters around the land.

But one thing the response team -- which will pull up stakes in New York today because the convention is over -- isn’t responsible for. The “Defeat Bush” banner actually is the work of a labor group called UNITE!, which is headquartered in the building.

A word from the “real people.”

A New Mexico woman was part of a Thursday press conference organized by the response team.

Loretta Grund, a retired Veterans Administration nurse from Albuquerque was one of several “real people” (as opposed to “political hacks,” one supposes) who were flown to New York for just one day in order to tell reporters why they don’t support President Bush’s reelection.

Grund, who retired in December after 24 years with the VA hospital said while there are 600 new patients being treated, there are fewer doctors and physicians assistants to help them.

She said she volunteered for the Kerry campaign in the New Mexico caucus early this year because she likes Kerry’s record on the environment.

Where’s Bill?

One Democrat not heard from during the Republican convention is Gov. Bill Richardson.

Earlier this week the governor’s office released a statement that out of his deep respect for political parties to have conventions without criticism, he would make a huge sacrifice, at least for someone who loves the national limelight.

“Gov. Bill Richardson today announced that he would not accept any national media requests during the Republican National convention and that he would honor the convention period by not criticizing the Bush Administration during the four days the Republicans are gathered in New York City,” the statement said.

“The governor went on to say that he wishes the New Mexico Republican delegates well at the New York City Convention and urges them to proudly promote the state at every opportunity in concert with the New Mexico Department of Tourism,” the statement said.

Although Richardson was avoiding the national news, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish was interviewed by phone Thursday for Battleground, a show on ABC Now, ABC’s new 24-hour digital television channel.

He probably already knew

New Mexico delegate Darren White -- the sheriff of Bernalillo County -- was one of 10 delegates selected to officially inform President Bush Thursday that he’d been nominated for President.

White said the honorary duty is left over from the wild old days of politics when conventions were full of floor fights and back-room wheeling and dealing, so candidates often weren’t sure if they’d won the nomination.


As published in the Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 3, 2004

NEW YORK _ For New Mexico’s delegates at the Republican National Convention, it’s been a week of rousing speeches, meeting other Republicans from across the country and generally getting fired up for President Bush.

But how do the delegates use that enthusiasm to their candidate’s advantage when they get home to New Mexico, a “battleground” state that Bush lost by less than 400 votes four years ago?

“It’s the job of all the delegates to carry back that enthusiasm and energize our people,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, who also is his county’s GOP county chairman.

While the state party has gone through bitter leadership battles in the past year, the delegation in New York seems to have put those old battles behind them, at least for the next two months.

They will be up against a largely united Democratic Party, led by Gov. Bill Richardson, whose prestige in the national party adds pressure on him to delver the state’s five electoral votes to John Kerry.

But GOP delegates interviewed Thursday seemed up for the fight.

“In the next two weeks you’ll see with a new voter registration program, recruiting more volunteers and preparing for a massive get-out-the vote effort,” White said.

White said New Mexico Republicans will be targeting the small group of undecided voters, who could end up determining who gets New Mexico’s undecided vote.

Former Congressman and secretary of interior Manuel Lujan said Thursday he thinks the Republican effort in New Mexico will be helped next week when Vice Presdident Cheney visits Roswell.

“I’m sure (Biush will) be back to the state again before the election, Lujan said. “And I’m sure other Republican luminaries will be here too.”

“The rest of us will just have to talk to voters and get them to vote,” Lujan said. He said to expect large direct mail and telephone bank effort in the state.

“But you can’t talk to everyone,” Lujan said. “There will be lots of t.v., radio and newspaper ads drawing the comparison between John Kerry and the president.”

Lujan said a new organization called the Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute should help the GOP with the Hispanic vote -- which normally goes to Democrats by a large margin in New Mexico.

“They’ve got a data base of 8 million Hispanic voters nationwide,” he said. The institute will be conducting mail and phone campaigns for Bush, Lujan said. He didn’t know the group’s budget for New Mexico.

Delegate Jesse Dompreh, an Albuquerque insurance agent, said he believes the GOP must “intensify our outreach to minorities.”

Dompreh, who is an African-Amercan said if the party makes a real effort to appeal to minorities, “it’ll pull strength away from the Democrats.

He said he’s been talking with party leaders and state officials with the Bush-Cheney campaign. “We have a plan,” he said.

Jonathan Collard, 25, of Albuquerque is the delegation’s youngest member. Collard, who is a national committeeman for the Young Republicans, says it’s his job to get his organization to get the Bush message out to young people.

He said his organization -- which he said numbers in the hundreds -- will be involved in a voter registration program aimed at young voters.

State Rep. Joe Thompson of Albuquerque, who is an alternate delegate, said he doesn’t think the party should “pander” to any ethnic or age group.

Thompson said he attended a workshop this week with Bush’s political advisor Karl Rove and other leading GOP strategists.

“What they said was that the Republican Party sells concepts,” Thompson said. “We talk about the role of government and the role of individual responsibility instead of the old-style politics of `What’s in this for me?’”

Thompson said that this year, instead of depending on early and absentee ballots -- a traditional Republican strength -- the Bush campaign is going to have to have a major final countdown effort.

“We’ll have to do an intensive last 72-hours effort to turn out the vote,” he said. “We’ll have to have a magnificent ground game. This is no time for gimmicks and trick plays.”

Thursday, September 02, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 2, 2004

NEW YORK _ I report. You decide.

And on Wednesday Fox News decided they weren't going to let me in if I was going to report.

Members of New Mexico's delegation to the Republican National Convention had scheduled a tour of the "Fair and Balanced" news network headquarters on the Avenue of the Americas at 49th Street. I'd arranged with state Sen. Joe Carraro of Albuquerque -- a convention delegate -- to tag along.

I arrived early and had a nice chat with members of the state's delegation in the lobby of the conservatives' favorite news organization.

The delegates all had printed name tags. I was told by the receptionist that I'd have to wait for the tour guide, a young woman named Dana, to get the o.k.

When Dana arrived, she looked at me skeptically. "You're just here like the others, to take the tour? You're not going to write about it?"

I had an idea what was coming. Like a politician, I gave an evasive answer. "I'm just here because Im curious," I said.

Dana persisted. "So you agree that everything you see is off the record?"

I couldn't agree to that.

She said she was sorry, but if I was there to report, I would have had to have made arrangements last week.

"I'm sorry," she said. "It's because of security concerns."

So by not agreeing to keep what I saw of the Fox News tour off the record, I'd suddenly risen to the level of a security threat.

The delegation members I'd been talking to vouched for me, but it was to no avail.

As I began to leave, Carraro arrived. He went to bat for me too. "My political career is on the line here," he joked. But not even a senior Republican state senator from New Mexico could get the tour guide to change her mind.

Security is a very serious issue. It was obvious that this reporter was not going to be allowed anywhere near the No Spin Zone.

So I was 86ed from Fox. But they did it in a fair and balanced way.


At the Democrats' convention in Boston there were countless places selling funny anti-Bush buttons, T-shirts and other paraphernalia. While only official, "positive" Kerry/Edwards merchandise could be found inside the convention hall itself, there were tables hawking anti-Bush souvenirs on the streets and even in some of the delegate hotels.

It seemed only logical that at the GOP the shoe would be on the other foot, and there would be an avalanche of funny anti-Kerry novelties.

But no.

For the first couple of days, the only sign of an anti-Kerry button I saw was one being worn by a young person roaming near the media center next to Madison Square Garden. It said, "I Believe the Swifties," apparently referring to the swift boat veterans who question John Kerry's military record.

On Wednesday I came across a souvenir shop on Broadway called Grand Slam. Inside was a table, which had several Bush and Kerry buttons -- both pro and anti for both candidates.

And on the floor by that table were some plastic sandals on which was printed changes in some of Kerry's positions.

You guessed it. These were called "Kerry Flip Flops." They sell for $19.95.

My Place in the Stands

If you watch the convention on CNN and you see Wolf Blitzer or Larry King or Anderson Cooper or Judy Woodruff, chances are this reporter is about 10 yards away, in front of the host just off to his or her right.

As was the case for the Democratic Convention, my assigned work area seat is stage right, several rows above the stage. But in Boston, my assigned place was right by the house band. Looking up and seeing Bob Dole or Pat Buchanan being interviewed a few feet away on CNN isn't nearly as distracting as having a band break out into "Soul Man" or "Respect" every few minutes to introduce a speaker.


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 2, 2004

NEW YORK _ Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to demonstrate against the Republican National Convention this weekend. More than a thousand protesters were arrested for acts of civil disobedience earlier this week.

And almost everywhere one walks in this city there’s someone carrying an anti-Bush or anti-GOP sign -- and sometimes haranguing convention-goers.

At a reception at the Haier Building on Broadway for western state delegates Wednesday, a lone demonstrator in a T-shirt that said “Fuck Bush” yelled obscenities at guests standing in the line going in.

“Republicans go home,” he bellowed. “Pick someone else’s tragedy to exploit,” he said, apparently referring to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which has been a constant theme at the convention.

However members of New Mexico’s delegation said Wednesday that they’ve had few if any encounters with demonstrators this week.

“I think the police are doing an excellent job keeping the protesters away from us,” said Sherolyn Smith DeSantis of Albuquerque.

John Gonzales of San Ildefonso Pueblo said the closest thing to protesters he’s seen is a group of bicyclists riding down the street yelling at pedestrians to vote.

“They weren’t saying anything anti-Bush or anti-Republican,” Gonzales said.

And in a city with a 5-to-1 Democratic registration advantage, New Mexico’s delegates said they’ve had mainly positive interactions with the locals.

Rick Lopez of Santa Fe said the only protesters he’s come across were near the Majestic Theatre Sunday when he and other New Mexico delegates went to see a performance of The Phantom of the Opera.

“On the way over to the theater, we discussed it with the delegates from Oklahoma and other states that if we came across any we’d only engage in positive conversation with them,” Lopez said.

On Tuesday night he got to put that into practice. “When we were strolling over to have our pictures taken, a woman whispered in my ear, `How can you support Bush when he hasn’t done anything for Native Americans?’”

Lopez, who is state director of the farm Service Agency for the federal Department of Agriculture, said he told the woman about specific programs aimed at American Indians, specifically the Navajo tribe.

Though the conversation started out on a hostile note, it ended up friendly, Lopez said.

Lopez said he and other New Mexico delegates did volunteer work Tuesday -- reading to children and distributing bags of food to neighborhood residents at the Latino Pastoral Action Center in the Bronx. The center is a Pentecostal group that has several social programs.

Lopez, who was wearing a Bush T-shirt said several people in the neighborhood and on the subway back to his hotel asked him why he was supporting Bush. But the conversation, he said, was civil.

“A lot of people asked how things are going at the convention,” he said.

However, DeSantis said she had an unpleasant conversation with a New York taxi driver earlier this week.

“He was telling me his views on President Bush,” she said. “And he raised his voice

DeSantis said at first she tried to ignore the driver. “I knew he wasn’t going to change my mind and I wasn’t going to change his,” she said.

But she felt compelled to stand up for Bush when the driver referred to the President as a “criminal.”

At the end of the ride, she said, she gave the driver a tip despite the political argument.

“He was extremely surprised,” DeSantis said. “He said, `You left me a good tip.’ I said, `It’s a free country. You’re entitled to your opinion.’ "

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 1, 2004

NEW YORK _ There are states in red and states in blue. And now there's a battle over which can lay claim to the memory of the Man in Black.

Hundreds of demonstrators, a big percentage of whom wore the color favored by the late country singer Johnny Cash, gathered in front of Sotheby's auction house in uptown Manhattan Tuesday.

They were there to protest a reception for the U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and the Tennessee delegation to the Republican National Convention, sponsored by the American Gas Association.

The event was billed as a tribute to Johnny Cash.

And this riled Cash fans on the left, who argued that Cash was known for singing songs for America's underdogs.

"I'm a Johnny Cash fan and I think he's a symbol for the working people and the downtrodden," said Heidi Diehl, 23, of Brooklyn. "I don't think the Republicans are helping people who are down and out. For them to have a tribute to Johnny Cash is ironic."

"Johnny Cash was neither a Republican nor a Democrat," said Rine Siegal, Brooklyn photographer who organized the demonstration.

Siegal said she became a Johnny Cash devotee only three or four years ago. "I first became a fan listening to him in my grandpa's station wagon. When he sings, it's from the bottom of his heart.

"It's offensive that they would try to exploit his memory," she said. "He was a great uniter, not someone that one party can exploit. "

I Walk the Sign.

While the demonstration was nonviolent, protesters booed delegates and other guests who entered Southeby's. Some followed and shouted at delegates, who had to walk a path behind police barriers to enter the building. "You're the same people who put Johnny Cash in jail," one youth screamed at a party guest.

(Cash spent a night in the El Paso jail on a drug charge in the 1960s.)

Instead of singing classic protest chestnuts like "Give Peace a Chance," several demonstrators who brought guitars serenaded the rally with Cash tunes like "Ring of Fire," "I Walk the Line" and "Folsom Prison Blues."

Ever so often they sang a refrain in the Cash style, "Those Republicans they got me rollin' in my grave."

Many of the signs at the rally were based on lyrics from Cash songs.

I Walk the Line for Kerry

Send Bush to Folsom

Take Back America One Piece at a Time.

And one, referencing a relatively obscure Cash tune, apparently was aimed at Republicans. "Egg Sucking Dogs," it said.

One sign referred to a country music act hired to play at the convention: "You Can Keep Your Brooks & Dunn, But Johnny Cash Belongs to Everyone."

Another sign had no words -- just the infamous photo of a young Cash giving an obscene finger gesture to a photographer.

What Would Johnny Do?

While protesters insisted that Cash never would have condoned the Republicans paying tribute to him, one Nashville Democrat said Tuesday that this might not be the case.

A spokesman for a Nashville organization called Music Row Democrats said his group isn't concerned about the Southeby's reception.

"From our conversation with Johnny's son, John Carter Cash, the event is for Sen. Lamar Alexander, who was very close to Johnny," said Ed Pettersen, a singer/songwriter and music producer, in a phone interview Tuesday.

"If this is in conjunction with a reception for Lamar Alexander, I have no problem with it," Pettersen said. "But if it goes beyond that and the Republicans start proselytizing using Johnny Cash, I have a big problem with it."

Republicans Love Johnny Too

Attempts to get comments from the guests at the GOP Cash tribute was difficult. I was told at the door that only invited guests could enter.

Because of the large crowd of jeering demonstrators, delegates virtually ran in and out of Sotheby's.

One who stopped and talked was William Hilleary, a delegate from Tennessee.

"These are a bunch of nuts," he said of the protesters. "They never accomplish anything. "

Asked if he was a Cash fan, Hilleary said, "I sure am. I'm from Tennessee."


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Sept. 1, 2004

NEW YORK _ A white-bearded man with a flute played a slow, sad version of "Amazing Grace," while just up the sidewalk by a subway entrance, an Asian man bowing a one-stringed instrument played a whimsical "Oh! Susanna." An angry woman marched up and down the sidewalk chanting, "Bush and the CIA attacked America," provoking a man in a Bush-Cheney hat to walk up to her and tell her to "shut up."

A short man in a NYPD T-shirt was selling photo albums titled Remember the Heroes with pictures of the World Trade Center before, after and during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "It's still deeply embedded in New Yorkers," said vendor David Sterton, pointing to his heart. "It's like it happened yesterday."

Just like the photo albums Sterton was selling for $6, the program the night before at the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden was designed to evoke memories of Sept. 11.

As the Democrats did at their convention in Boston in July, there was an emotional musical tribute featuring the song "Amazing Grace." There was testimony by family members of those who died in the attack. And the night was capped off by a speech by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who became known as "America's mayor" for the way he handled the aftermath of Sept. 11.

The message was reflected in the local headlines Tuesday "It's9/11,"creamed the headline of The New York Post above a large photo of Giuliani.

It's obvious that both major parties will be trying to use Sept. 11 for their own political advantage.

Speaking with those who gathered towers had been Tuesday morning -- tourists, convention delegates and even a few locals -- it became apparent that people are split on the implications of Sept. 11.

"I think the politicians are using 9/11 as a political stepping stone," said Sterten, the photo album man. "Especially (John) Kerry. I'm not sure about him with all his off and on. I would rather have Bush running the country."

Jamie Walker, 44, of Seattle agreed.

"I think Sept. 11 is a legitimate political issue,' said Walker, who said he was making a "pilgrimage" to Ground Zero.

Considering that it's the biggest attack ever on American soil it is right for us as a nation to make this a political issue," Walker said.

But Kim and Mary Lou Ratz of Minneapolis, who were in the city on a business trip said they don't like how Bush has used Sept. 11.

"I kind of wish politicians would focus on domestic issues," Mary Lou Ratz said.

Specifically, they said, they don't believe Bush is correct in using the attack on the World Trade Center to justify the war in Iraq.

"I don't think war is the right way to fight terrorism," Mary Lou Ratz said.

The Ratzes said they are backing John Kerry for president.

So is Connie Demidio, a New York interior decorator who was at Ground Zero with her sister, Petra Gleich of Germany.

"I think George Bush is wrapping himself in a blanket of Sept. 11, which I think is wrong," Demidio said.

Eliine Bagshau, 74, of Sydney, Australia, said she believes both Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard use the image of Sept. 11 to "keep people more afraid." And both leaders used the threat of terrorism as a reason to invade Iraq, she said.

"I think it's starting to backfire against our prime minister," she said. "It certainly had nothing to do with terrorism. It was all about oil."

A convention delegate from Florida, Bob Waechter of Sarasota visited Ground Zero with his wife and another couple.

Not surprisingly, he said Bush is right to stress Sept. 11 in the campaign. "It's an irrefutable issue since it's the most significant thing to happen in the last 10 years.

But Waechter had a personal reason for being there. He's a retired New York City firefighters.

"I was here three weeks after it happened," he said. "I volunteered to help out a little."

Waechter said this is the first time he’s been back to the scene since the fall of 2001.

"The main thing I notice is that it looks so much smaller," he said. "Before, when it was a big pile of rubble it was just overwhelming. It seems so much smaller now."


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