Editor's Note


It's weird, I am in a café in Paris, the CD is on the blink, “Purple Haze” comes on, two notes at a time, with 30 second segues. Then the song kicks in for real - full throttle. And everybody has their “Hendrix” memory/moment. Mine is driving to Boulder to buy some sombreros for a Mexican party I was giving for graduation from High School, with like 12 other people. The party was, inspiringly, called “La Fiesta Grande.” Now that's loaded.


La Fiesta Grande: Bush has got his “fiesta grande” going, big guns, big war, no matter the consequence. I am aghast that the American administration has brought us to the unifyingly terrible forefront of, to paraphrase Rumsfeld, the Nuclear Option. As an American, concerned about my personal safety, I have never felt more compromised. My/Our government is doing nothing to communicate on the world diplomacy table, thus making our safety questionable. My/our economic future, one we are blindly acquiescing to, through the policies of a government questionably elected, is based on the machinations of the same crew that has re-established the national deficit, much less world economic depression. Word to the Democrats, Yo, “The economy, stupid.”


I'm watching German MTV. Every time there is a commercial break, two intermittent things alternate the viewing waves. First: A number of, man on the street type, public service announcements. My German language skills are pretty bad, but you can't help but miss the anti-war/American sentiment they exude. Then in English, black type face floating on white ground, and a silent soundtrack, the message, “War is not the answer.” Then the second fecund series of images, the regular commercials begin, not having anything to do with MTV, except the pay roll. What's being hawked, graphic logos, it seems, that you can buy for your cell phone - instant message logo 2D art work. I can't help but think of some low tech secret picture messages the FBI will soon find themselves decoding. Another public service announcement, again a fortuitous group of young people, all different ethnicities. All again in certain agreement, pleading their case to their contemporaries in America. Through the German a few broken English words, most significantly among them, “George Bush.” Somehow another Hendrix moment.


Though the Vietnam War is a memory distant for some, what I do remember, does seem eerily reminiscent of current political crises. Then billed as a US policing mission, the tactical military operation was based on the spread of Communism. The current police mission - to remove the “Axis of Evil” is moving, not so coincidentally, into the position of colonizing, and we've done an excellent job of that in Afghanistan. In Vietnam we faced a guerrilla enemy with minimal knowledge of their history, culture, language, and religion, and ultimately, we were not able to make the world safe, or safer for Democracy. Now we face the same prospect of war against an equally intangible enemy: the terrorist. Let's not unlearn the hard truths that symbolically are measured only by the names engraved on the Vietnam Memorial (concept and design by Maya Lin). Rather, let us engage and communicate within the more mature statelike stance known as diplomacy, historically a better tool for colonization.


Another Hendrix moment, back on the German MTV. Justin Timberlake, the uber boy icon of mass youth culture and Pop media manipulation proselytizing, dubbed in German, and not unlike those '60s icons, “War is not the answer.” Unlike the Vietnam War Memorial of Lin, let us embrace the universal wall of the Libeskind proposal for the WTC site, the wall that held back the Hudson and protected lower New York from colossal flooding. Purple Haze (Hendrix), Purple Rain (Prince), Purple Hearts (Victims of the WTC) but not the Purple Cloud of war destroy the prism known as the Bill of Rights, a rainbow of color where all people are created equal.


Devon Dikeou
New York, New York
2003