Oh My

Local authors booted from MySpace

Maybe it was the dirty-looking angels perpetrating various offenses against defenseless humans, including pissing on them. Or maybe it was the frightening red elephants, meant to represent a political party that had sold its soul. Then again, it could have been the "crosstikas," blasphemy depicted in six simple pen strokes.

Most likely it was all of the above plus the accompanying text, which further confronted the innumerable distortions and hypocrisies of the conservative movement.

Whatever the case, MySpace last week abruptly booted the page for Please God Save Us, the new book by Cleveland artist Derek Hess and writer Kent Smith. The book is based on a 2006 Hess exhibit called Please God Save Us From Your Followers, and in his introduction Smith wrote: "Neither the art nor the words claim to be fair and balanced; just factual and correct." The many essays touch on the false pretenses for launching the Iraq war, Halliburton's profiteering, the farcical "debate" over evolution and many other elements of the mutually beneficial 30-year alliance between social and fiscal conservatives.

Smith, who has contacts at MySpace's corporate offices, says that on Friday he was led to believe that the page had been frozen and would be restored. "Then Saturday morning, it was gone," he explains in an e-mail to Scene. "If Derek and I did something wrong, we were not provided with an understandable explanation of what we did to jeopardize our page, and we were certainly not warned to stop doing something before the book's profile was deleted."

Smith adds, "Every time we posted something favorable about Barack Obama, we got 'spam' complaints levied against us."

Another possibility - the skewering of Fox News. In the book, Smith explains how Fox News grew out of the GOP attack machine, and a Hess illustration - titled "Good Dog … or Jihad on the American Aljazeera" - shows the artist's pooch Jose throttling a red fox that has the FOX logo on its belly. (The caption notes drily, "Dogs can sense evil.")

MySpace is owned by Fox Interactive Media. A MySpace spokesperson tells Scene that the page was flagged for "spam" complaints stemming from friend requests and will be restored.

But Smith doesn't understand why no one at MySpace will tell him when. "Interestingly, Chapter 10 is about rock and roll and censorship," writes Smith, "and Derek and I clearly argue the point that censorship does not work in capitalistic nations that have a free press." - Frank Lewis


Scream "Yaaaaah!" at the wrong moment in America and, sadly, you might look a tad too much like a sheepherder to be president. But that same unflinching spirit might just make you one of the best Democratic National Committee chiefs since, well, ever.

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who could only stand by that fateful 2004 as Dem nominee John Kerry drolly debated his Skull and Bones brother in vain, was in Shaker last Thursday, determined not to let another McBush manipulate a path to the throne. A few hundred Obama supporters and volunteers, with fresh orders to collect the signatures of the county's 100,000 still-unregistered voters, heeded their master's call with fevered enthusiasm. "We will!" one lady in a Barry Obama shirt bellowed, then whispered to the side, "And we will."

After running a long-ago campaign for governor, Dr. Dean had his campaign efforts studied and found one group had a miraculously better turnout on election day. That group, he said, had members who knocked on every door in their neighborhood at least three times before the big day. "People are going to trust you before they trust those people on TV," said Dean. So Obama's "Neighbor to Neighbor" program will follow that model, encouraging canvassers to knock on at least 25 doors three times each from now until November.

The campaign's tactic to attract young voters was illustrated best by Dean's choice of escort for his most recent bus tour: Kal Penn, of Harold and Kumar fame. Penn, who had some months free, during the writers' strike, to campaign for Obama during the primaries, was dead serious about his role. He told of a young friend earning minimum wage who approached him more than a year ago with a dilemma: He'd been offered $90,000 to drive a truck in Iraq. In other words, his choices were mounting debt or potential death.

Dean added that much of the world loathes Bush for the oil-slicked conniver he is but showered Obama during recent trips abroad with adoration and the waving of cute little American flags.

"You can't make peace with others unless others see that you're someone with moral authority," said Dean. "We need a president to make us proud again all over the world … Having the high ground makes a difference." That's right: Yaaaaaaah! - Dan Harkins


Nineteen-year-old Cleveland boxer Raynell Williams went to the Olympics looking for gold and was hailed as a likely medal contender by sources including Sports Illustrated. After one victory, his run ended. The southpaw lost a controversial 9-7 decision to French dude Khedafi Djelkhir. The fight's first round ended with scoring tied. Djelkhir had a 4-1 lead after the second. Known best for his counterpunching, Williams gained ground in the third. In the fourth and final round, Cleveland's hope chased Djelkhir around the ring, but the Frenchman eluded him and took the decision.

In the 2008 Olympics, scoring boxing is literally a hot-button issue. The fight was scored under a new system, in which five judges are supposed to press a button every time a point is scored. For a point to count, three of the judges must react at the same time. In the previous system, two corrupt judges could scuttle the results of a fight; the new method requires three bad scorekeepers.

Before the fight, the head boxing judge called an odd press conference to tell reporters he felt fairly confident that his judges were qualified and not corrupt.

The path from Hough to Beijing was a dizzying one: Williams defeated Djelkhir in October 2007's AIBA World Championships. Earlier that year, to earn his ticket to that tournament, Williams defeated Hylon Williams - to whom he'd lost in the National Golden Gloves featherweight finals, which served as a qualifier for the Olympic Trials.

The Washington Post reported that Williams' coach, Dan Campbell, called the decision an "expletive" - we're guessing it was "bullshit." Closer to home, Williams' former coach agreed, but he was more reserved in his word choice. "I think he shoulda won," says Donyelle "Coach D" Bell, a Salvation Army Boxing Academy coach who trained Williams for his victory in the Williams-Williams rematch. "But it's in the judges' hands. All he could do is do what he did. He performed real good. I didn't think the guy beat him; I think [Raynelle] outpointed the guy, and he should have got the decision … He's a disciplined kid. He trains hard every time he's in the gym. He's an excellent kid, a pleasure to work with." - D.X. Ferris


Congratulations to The Plain Dealer for finally working up the courage to report on both the stench surrounding the county's odd decision to build the new juvenile justice center on once-contaminated land and how a Forest City subsidiary pocketed about $2 million from the deal. Free Times (which merged with Scene last month) laid it all out almost two years ago.

But of course, the PD "broke" the story in its usual hyper-cautious fashion. The headline described the deal as a "series of missed chances," suggesting mere incompetence. And the article, though lengthy, never mentions that, as Free Times reported in October 2006, "The purchase price was contingent on an appraisal that assumed the toxic chemical spill had been properly cleaned up. An independent study conducted for Forest City in 1999 had revealed the existence of PCBs in the soil, but the appraisal company was not furnished with a copy of that report."

Also: "A review of property assessments conducted at the request of the Board of County Commissioners reveals the extent of the environmental damage that still existed when the land was purchased from Forest City. Soil samples showed high concentrations of chemicals that could harm workers hired to clean up the site, including benzene, toluene, lead and thallium. Nickel and arsenic were discovered in groundwater samples." "Missed chances" indeed.

On WCPN last year, PD editor Susan Goldberg said, "I think you're going to find stories in the Free Times that you'll never find in The Plain Dealer." She was being snide, of course, but that's precisely why we love repeating the line every chance we get. - Lewis


Oh. My. God.

On eBay. Right now. People are bidding for the chance to play live onstage with Michael effing Stanley and the mother-effing Resonators (proceeds to benefit the Cleveland Animal Protective League). You heard me. The Bearded One himself, he who sold out Blossom three days in a row, is allowing a single lucky SOB to step inside the protective and loving halo of his rocking awesomeness for the duration of one face-melting song. I must have this.

You don't understand. I have every Michael Stanley Band album, even the weird one they put out in 1977 after a trip to Tibet, which is basically just tonal poems set against the sound of Michael Stanley pounding a conch shell against the backside of a yak. I keep a list of every 7-Song Classic Rock Block ever spun by Michael Stanley's calloused hands. I have every PM Magazine on Beta.

But at press time, the bidding was already up to $1,175. I don't have that kind of disposable cash (ironically, I just spent it all on a rare Michael Stanley 8-track). So I'm looking for a sponsor.

Sam Miller, I swear to God: If you make this happen, I will never write about that dirty juvenile court deal again.

The auction closes August 22. Visit www.rockyourdreams.com for more info. - James Renner

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