Why We Need Independent Media
"The music that we hear,
the culture that we get,
the news that is reported,
it's all a fiction."
Why We Need Independent Media
"The music that we hear,
the culture that we get,
the news that is reported,
it's all a fiction."
New American Dream Interview
GEOV PARRISH, 49, lives in Seattle.
He is a newspaper and radio journalist. He has written for the Seattle Weekly and been a commentator on KEXP and KBCS.
He has also written for WorkingForChange, In These Times, and Eat the State!
He is also currently Executive Director of Peace Action of Washington.
Geov is also a punk/folk musician.
He has also lived in Washington, D.C., Houston and Japan.
He earned a master's degree in Political Science and East Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
By Geov Parrish:
The New American Dream Trivia Question:
To win a round button that says, "Bush Is Lying About What He Knew," be the first one to correctly answer the following.
Geov Parrish would rather be ....
a. Catching fish with his bare hands on Pike Place
b. Sitting in a tree, broadcasting for Cascadia
c. Coffee critic for the Post-Intelligencer
d. Grungy, yet somehow refreshed
e. Reading in a comfortable chair, unnoticed, next to a fireplace at Elliot Bay Bookstore
f. Doing something at Safeco, or maybe high atop the Space Needle, for some odd reason
NAD: Geov, hello, thank you for taking the time for this.
Where are you from?
Geov. Is that pronounced Jeff?
Is it British? Not that there's anything wrong with it.
I grew up all over: Virginia, Connecticut, L.A., South Carolina, Detroit, Chicago, Memphis.
Then I left home while I was still a minor.
It's pronounced Jahv. Unlike my birth name, it has no ethnicity at all, though the roots are (like some of my family) French Canadian. I changed my name when I was 18.
NAD: What did you start out wanting to be?
Is there still time?
NAD: "First became politically active through domestic violence work and as a public Selective Service non-registrant when that system was reintroduced in 1980."
How did that all work out for you?
It's intense, right?
I grew up in a home that was alcoholic, abusive, and transient, and I left young.
All I was doing with the DV work was, essentially, what we'd now call co-counselling with other teens who'd been through similar things, and who (like me) trusted peers more than adults.
It's not intense if it's all you know, and at the time that was the world I knew. Only later did I realize that was also extremely political work.
About 200 of us were public non-registrants when Carter re-introduced draft registration in 1980, as an "outraged" response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
(Which, we now know, Carter — who, as president, was no human rights champion — goaded the Soviets into doing. It was neither a surprise nor an outrage.)
About a dozen of us got prosecuted.
The rest of us, including me, were ignored by the Powers That Be.
It worked out fine.
I got a very early education in the good and bad aspects of organizing.
Good was learning public speaking & touring, standing up for my beliefs, and learning from more experienced folks.
Bad was the Vietnam-era holdovers who patronized us younger folks, bickered among themselves, and made our supposedly anti-registration group a stand-in for all the other issues they cared about more.
It was enough to alienate me from activism for several years.
NAD: Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?
I don't ask this to make fun. I ask because I really seek the answers.
— Are UFOs real?
— Did we land on the moon in 1968?
— Did Bush knock down the towers?
— Was Paul Wellstone's death an accident?
— The Oklahoma City bombing? Wasn't that just another U.S. government terrorist exercise? Or not.
No. Unless you count the fact that the perps were trained and encouraged to kill by our gov't, i.e. they were once in the military.
— Waco. We burned kids, right? You can see flames shooting out of the tanks. Or not.
"We" didn't. But the U.S. government did. There's a difference.
— Is Bigfoot real?
— Is there a God?
And for the same reason I'm highly skeptical of most so-called conspiracy theories.
To me they're another form of religion — the need to believe that somehow, somewhere, there's a higher force orchestrating what we see, that it all means more than six billion or so humans randomly bumping into each other like so many single-celled creatures.
Unfortunately, I see very little evidence for the former and a whole lot for the latter.
That doesn't mean conspiracies don't happen — just that, humans being humans, really massive ones can't be executed perfectly and can't be kept secret, and most so-called theories require both, and many also require a whole lot more improbabilities that make a lot less sense than the age-old explanation for everything: Shit Happens.
NAD: Do you have hope in Obama?
Yes and no.
Yes, because he's extremely intelligent and relatively able to step outside ideological rigidities, both of which are welcome changes. And the people he's appointed are mostly — but not always — upgrades on the Bush crew, which, while a low bar — some of Obama's picks are better but still atrocious — is better than what McCain would have done.
But at heart Obama is a corporate centrist wed to the paradigm of American Empire.
Our best hope is that circumstances force him to step away from those tendencies in order to be effective, which I think is really his ultimate goal. We're starting to see a little of that.
But he'll never have this much popularity or political capital again, so I think we'll ultimately wind up with substantially less than half a loaf.
NAD: "While convalescing in the mid-90s from a series of health problems, including two organ transplants and a stroke, he founded the local community non-profit newspaper Eat the State."
Two transplants?! Can you tell us about that in four lines or less? Five?
Then-experimental (1994) double organ transplant — kidney & pancreas — after having End Stage Renal Disease, i.e., kidney failure.
I went through three comas before the transplants, which insurance fought every step of the way (a very long story), and I've had a stroke, collapsed lung, and three types of cancer since then, along with a suppressed immune system for the last 15 years.
But I'm still here. I'm stubborn.
NAD: And then you start a newspaper while flat on your back, right? And it's still going. How did you manage that?
Actually, the idea for the paper came in 1994, a few months before the transplants, but it started out as a weekly newsletter — essentially, a blog before there were blogs — and I didn't want to launch it til my health was stable enough for the weekly commitment, which wasn't 'til '96.
Beyond that, it wasn't something "I" managed; ETS! expanded out into becoming a community newspaper that dozens of volunteers help write for, edit, lay out, proofread, print, and distribute each issue.
A lot of people are responsible for its success.
NAD: Does your favorite coffee cup have words on it? What are they?
I despise coffee.
My sweetie, however, drinks enough for both of us.
NAD: What did you absolutely have to get done by noon today?
I always feel like crap physically until about noon.
My best hours are late evenings.
NAD: How about by Christmas 2009?
Everything else is gravy.
NAD: What else would you like to add? What else should I have asked?
Obviously, my health would be a great excuse for not being more engaged in the community and the world.
But I have a strong belief in giving toward the common good — I'm also involved in a number of other things we haven't touched on here.
And long before the health stuff came up, really even as a teenager, I've always known that the world I'd really like to see won't happen in my lifetime; it would just be too radical a shift to happen that quickly.
So I do what I can to pull it in that direction and improve the lives of people around me, as folks before me did and as the generations following me will continue to do.
So I've always thought of my work as a long-term struggle, and never gotten too excited over the victories nor discouraged by the setbacks.
That's why I've never burned out.
I'm in it for the long haul.
And as my health stuff attests, I'm really, really stubborn.
What that means is that I've been doing community organizing, activism, and agitation for over 30 years, and in that time I've seen some really amazing victories as well as slow but important changes.
I think we as activists continually underestimate sthe impact we have, both in terms of political and cultural efficacy and in terms of the effect we have on the people around us.
Nonviolent revolution really does happen one person at a time, and we have a lot more power than we think we do.
THE New American Dream Feature Interviews
If you search the archives below, you will find, in a sort of order [last to first], interviews with:
Bill Polonsky, Yukon 9/11 Truth
Daphne Webb, Denver writer, activist, green wedding planner
Michael Boldin, a populist blooms in L.A.
Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher magazine
Will Braun, editor of Geez Magazine,
Ben Heine, political artist in Belgium
Matt Sullivan, editor of The Rock Creek Free Press
Sam Smith, editor of The Progressive Review
Jarek Kupsc, 9/11 Truth filmmaker, "The Reflecting Pool"
Bill O'Driscoll, arts editor, Pittsburgh City Paper
Gerry McCarthy, editor of The Social Edge
Jim Cullen, editor of The Progressive Populist magazine
Bartcop, old-school blogger from Tulsa
Lee Rayburn, radio show host from Madison, Wisconsin
Aimee England, bookseller in Michigan
Al Markowitz, poet for the working woman & man
Timbre Wolf, a Tulsa peace minstrel goes to Hawaii
Steven Stothard, a radical grows in Indiana
Dale Clark, an artist in the desert
Jacqui Devenuau, Green Party organizer in Maine
Don Harkins, co-editor of The Idaho Observer
Stewart Bradley, independent film producer
Rick Smith, Cleveland area radio host
William P. Meyers, independent book publisher, political activist
Ian Woods, Canadian publisher, 9/11 Truth activist
Richard D. Brinkman, Edmonton, Canada 9/11 Truth
Lynn Berg, New York City actor
Alejandro Rojas, of MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network
Brian Kasoro, publisher of The Liberator magazine
Brother Raymond, walked from Denver to D.C., for truth
Korey Rowe, one of the producers of Loose Change
Dave Zweifel, editor of The Madison Capital Times
Cathleen Howard, expatriate, from Tucson to Mexico, to pursue her dreams
Sander Hicks, Brooklyn radical entrepreneur, writer, publisher
Joe Bageant, America's blue-collar author
Frida Berrigan, a lifetime of faith, hope and love
Denise Diaz, brewing up a revolution, at The Ritual Cafe in Des Moines
Deanna Taylor, Green Party activist, teacher, in Salt Lake City
Rossie Indira-Vltchek, writer, filmmaker in Jarkarta, Indonesia
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Pacifica reporter in Gaza
Delaney Bruce, Friends of Peltier
Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs
Michael Sprong, South Dakota Catholic Worker
Brian Terrell, Des Moines Catholic Worker
Bob Graf, One of the Milwaukee 14
Loren Coleman, Bigfoot researcher
Monty Borror, Sci-Fi artist from Virginia
David Ray, Great American Poet
Jack Blood, radio show host, in Austin, Texas
Danny Schechter, A Real Reporter
Bob Kincaid, host, Head-On Radio Show
Tony Packes, Animal Farm Radio Host, Keeping An Eye on Big Brother
Richard Flamer, Working With the Poor in Chiapas
David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Truth activist author
Barry Crimmins, U.S. comedian, author, social activist
Bret Hayworth, political reporter for the Sioux City [IA] Journal
Lisa Casey, publisher of website All Hat No Cattle
Joe & Elaine Mayer, activist couple in Rochester, Minnesota
Fr. Darrell Rupiper, U.S. priest revolutionary
Whitney Trettien, MIT student, Green Party activist
Meria Heller, radio show host
Phil Hey, professor, poet
John Crawford, book publisher
Steve Moon, Iowa Bigfoot researcher
Carol Brouillet, California social activist, 9/11 Truth
Russell Brutsche, Santa Cruz artist
Kevin Barrett, professor, radio show host, 9/11 Truth activist
A'Jamal Rashad Byndon, social activist in Omaha
Chris Rooney, Vancouver, Canada Catholic Worker, website publisher
Marc Estrin, political novelist, from the left
Peter Dale Scott, poet, professor, author, activist
Anthony Rayson, anarchist zine publisher, works with prisoners
Alice Cherbonnier, editor of The Baltimore Chronicle, an independent newspaper