Once upon a time, I was an ambitious young foreign correspondent for the New York Times. Disillusioned by the paper’s support for starting wars, I resigned to start a Balkan Summer of Love. Needless to say, this didn’t go as planned. A tragi-comic caper ensued, as this memoir records. It probably didn’t help making business deals with gangsters, but it seemed to make sense at the time. The experience taught me how not to change the world, and why getting high was not the same as being enlightened.
What Barack Obama might have said to deserve the Nobel Prize: we're closing all overseas bases, ending the world's biggest arms trade, and spending the savings on weaning America off fossil fuels. As this censored speech explained: "No longer will we need foreign outposts to protect resources, or the shipping lanes and pipelines that ferry them. We can leave that work to regional powers, and resume our rightful place in our own backyard." If Obama really channeled Martin Luther King, he might have wound up getting shot.
Inspired by The Yes Men, I printed a fake Financial Times. Its satire had serious messages. Working for Reuters and the New York Times, I saw how governments and big business skew the news. Journalistic objectivity is a myth. Unless reporters set agendas themselves, they serve someone else’s. It’s “objective” to take dictation from officials, but disputing what they say is seen as “biased”. This limits how we think about alternatives. If they're framed as they look to those who run the world, not much changes.
Four days of music, on four stages. The headline act was Sonic Youth, with support from Burning Spear, Morcheeba and DJs playing techno, reggae, funk and drum and bass. As I told a reporter: "No one ever sees anything coming out of this region apart from miserable stories about war, corruption and drug trafficking. I thought if we could have something really alive in the centre of the city in a beautiful location, it could be a catalyst, it could give people new influences and inspiration." It sort of worked...