Sunday, 28 February 2021

Arts & Life

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In the book The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader, author Peter L. Bergen extends his personal interviews of bin Laden with interviews of over 50 other people from a spectrum of society, all of whom have known bin Laden at various times in his life. The result is a verbal documentary of the Islamic terrorist's life.

 


Given the ongoing failures of American military intelligence, this is probably the best biographical data extant on bin Laden. This becomes more evident when the reader studies Bergen's qualifications as an Islamist, a journalist and an academic; he is probably as, or more, qualified than any CIA staff member.


Bin Laden's changes throughout the book are interesting, though not unexpected if considered from a Muslim standpoint.


He is a quiet reticent bland religious youth, a rich kid who refuses to be spoiled by family wealth. At first, he runs the family business when he has to, including construction of a road in the Tora Bora Mountains of Afghanistan. Later, he goes to Afghanistan to work in refugee relief, then to combat the Russian invasion, as a religious duty, somewhat in an Islamic version of "Onward, Christian Soldiers."


His wealth empowers him to raise his own fighting unit, much as well-to-do Americans used to enroll their own militia units. His combat experience emboldens him. He insists on keeping his unit together as a fighting force small in number though large in publicity. He commits them to audacious but militarily inconsequential battles. As a result, he is regarded as a showoff with little military talent. He draws no backing from Pakistani or American covert operators.


Nevertheless, emerging from the battle against the Russians with a reputation among Muslims as a warrior for his faith gives him the standing to consolidate his brand new organization with other Islamic terrorist organizations. He loses his native Saudi citizenship, is disowned by his family and moves to the Sudan. While there he sponsors the attack against American Army Rangers depicted in Black Hawk Down. His subsequent move back to Afghanistan, and his jihad against the United States, are well known.


This is an anvil of a book, heavy with fact and jargon. It also references a whole library of supporting information that appears to elucidate almost every facet of the interviews.


This reader emerged with some insights that are dismaying, and don't bode well for America. I present them in no particular order.


The Middle Eastern concept of citizenship is a much more fluid one than ours. A man is a Muslim first, a Lebanese or Iraqi or Saudi second. As a result, Muslim citizens seem to travel throughout the Arab world relatively easily.


Muslim ideology also spreads easily. Al Qaeda's ideological roots are as much Egyptian as Saudi or Yemeni.


Our intervention to free Kuwait is a major cause of bin Laden's anger against our country. He believed that Muslims should have freed Kuwait, and that the American presence in Saudi Arabia is an abomination.


Bin Laden hated Saddam Hussein. He claimed that because Saddam was a socialist, he was a traitor to Islam.


Our present invasion of Iraq is considered to be an advantage for al Qaeda. It eliminated a dictator opposed to them, supplies combat training for its fighters and stirs up such discontent it serves as a recruiting tool for their cause.


Israel is regarded by Muslim militants as virtually an American colony. Only its extinction will satisfy al Qaeda and its ilk.


There is probably much much more than this to be gleaned from this book. Certainly, anyone who wants to grapple with the realities of our war in Iraq can benefit from reading it.


E-mail George Dorner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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CLEARLAKE Lake County's inaugural International Women's Day, organized by county poet laureate Sandra Wade, gathered writers and artists at Redbud Library March 8.


Wade opened the event with a brief reading of poetry, then welcomed several local writers: Janet Riehl, Fran Ransley, Torrie Quintero, Joyce Anderson, JoAnn Sacccato, Carol Batho, Laurelee Roark and Linda Drew.


They read from both their own works and writings by admired poets, and presented historic background on women's wisdom.


Wade ended the evening with a poem in Spanish and English by Claribel Alegria, a moving childhood experience by Mary Tall Mountain and notes for a poem on women's experiences in the military based on a radio interview she did that morning with Sgt. Ellie Painted Crow.


Artist Mary Schossler showed recent paintings and drawings, and a collection of back issues of Ms. magazine and the British feminist journal Spare Rib were offered free.


An exhibit of newspaper articles and posters featured Native American women, Muslim women in Afghanistan, Iran and Somalia; herbalist Juliette de Bairacli-Levy, and local twin sisters Madge Johnson and Foddy Rowland, who celebrated their 97 th birthday last year.


Writers Mary McMillan and Chris Kirkwood attended. Hiram Johnson videotaped the event for airing on PEG channel 8 at a later date.


"Next year, we hope high school and college students will want to join in this joyful day to mark the creativity, courage and perseverance of women through the ages," Wade said.


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I didn't know Ted Nugent moved to Crawford, Texas in 2003 and changed his handle from "Hunka Ted" to "Uncle Ted." But now that I've made my latest visit to www.tednugent.com and picked up some new Ted Lore, I'm still left wondering how he plans to run for governor of Michigan now?


And Ted's recent fling at Texas Governor Rick "Good Hair" Perry's second inaugural has landed him – Hunka or Uncle – in some deep doo doo.


The man who one Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America member says "(blew) me away with his commitment, the fire in his eyes, the sincerity in his voice,” courted another sort of commitment when he performed in a Stars & Bars T-Shirt while brandishing some sort of double barreled machine gun or its near facsimile.


Of course, this is the same guy who sells "Blood Brother Sniper Rifles" and "Nugent Gold Tipped Arrows" on his Web site.


All offerings, "Ted tested, Ted approved,” as Hunka likes to put it.


Hunka is what the kids at Ted's Kids Kamp call him. Uncle is what I, for one, call Lou Reed.


Ted also promotes something called "hunters for the hungry" likely involving feeding either road kill or

Ted kill to the hungry, I suppose.


And, "in a recent survey conducted by North American Hunter Magazine, readers were asked what partner they would choose for a 'Dream Hunt Adventure ... the votes are in, it's Ted Nugent by a landslide!"


Now come with us to a day of yesteryear and re-read this article, "How Ted Nugent Changed My Life" written only one year after "everything changed."


Kelseyville The last time I saw Ted Nugent live he was wearing a fox tail and playing "Cat Scratch Fever" in Milwaukee.


It was November 1975 and I was backstage watching the VU meters go into the red as Ted struck his first chord. I think they stayed there long after he finished but, in any case, I know my hearing has never

been the same.


"Too many Ted Nugent concerts" I cheerfully tell anyone who complains about it.


When my son was a baby he had a case of Cat Scratch Fever. It's not just a passionate response, as in

Ted's tune, but a disease resulting from the scratch of a kitten. My son has long since recovered and now has his own band, Goat Cheese Rodeo.


In the 80s and early 90s I wrote a column for the Illinois Entertainer and it often appeared on the same

page as "Ask Ma Nugent," a heavy metal advice column written by Ted's late mother.


So The Nuge really has changed my life though I'm neither a fan nor a follower.


Uncle Ted's Web site, www.tednugent.com is a hoot and a holler a minute with its "How Ted Nugent Changed My Life" essays by kids who have attended the Nuge's Kamp for Kids, which helps them learn "to safely shot a .22 rifle or bow and arrow."


As Ted puts it: "I rock and roll six months per year and hunt six months per year."


He's on the board of directors of the NRA making him the Charlton Heston of rock and the author, with his wife Shermane, of the "Kill It And Grill It Cookbook."


Read Ted's magazine, "Adventure Outdoors." It comes with membership in "Tribe Nuge." Read Ted's bio:


"Born in Detroit, 1948, middle finger first. Began hunting in 1953; guitar in 1956."


Find out about Ted's feud with the Osbournes.


Hunka called the Osbournes "a pathetic brain wreck" and Kelly Osbourne parried with "he's just a jealous mofo who stays in a big cabin and kills animals."


Whatever you think of him, the man's a gas. He may even change your life as he has those of many of his fans like police officer and Club Nuge member, Rob Kukola, who wrote this online testimonial:


"There have been five things in my life that have brought tears to my eyes – the birth of my son in '88,

the death of my father in '93, the birth of my daughter in '94, the first deer I shot in '97, and watching Ted Nugent play."


E-mail Gary Peterson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Some performers come into our lives and we listen to them, seemingly forever. They become superstars and put out box sets.


Take David Crosby. Great voice; he was the horse's ass on the cover of the Byrds' "Notorious Byrds Brothers." Sang with some guys called Stills and Nash and (Sometimes Y and Young). Good group. Right outside my place singing "My House" right now.


Crosby wrote some good songs; put out an unforgettable LP I've been trying to forget for years. But it just came out as a box set. He could not even remember his name in either version.


Fathered two kids for Melissa Etheridge's wife and got a new liver, the 21st Century everybody who's anybody has to have one trend fast replacing multiple rehab.


I don't mean to pick on Crosby. I still listen to the Byrds and even saw Crosby, Stills and Nash (with

Sometimes Y and Young) once. They were pretty good but not as good as the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys literally raised off the roof on the former now newly rebuilt rebuilt County Stadium in Milwaukee.


By contrast, Stills, when he used the restroom, had more bodyguards to do it for him than County Stadium has johns.


Which brings us to Karen Dalton, sadly dead lo these many years. Kind of like Miles Davis was when you finally heard him.


I won't go on and talk about Phil Lesh, another liver transplant and the only member of the Grateful Dead to blackball Dylan's joining the group.


I once saw the Blind Pew of rock 'n' roll going into the Mill Valley Film Fest and, let me tell you, he was going into the Mill Valley Film Festival like only a member of the Grateful Dead, who hasn't had his liver transplant yet, could.


Jerry, I don't think ever had one. But he is jamming with Karen Dalton way up there in the real Rock 'N'

Roll Hall of Fame, the one without so many rehab repeaters and Cabo Wabbo guys.


Speaking of jamming. There's a photo of Bob Dylan, Fred Neil and Karen Dalton jamming at the Cafe Wha? in 1961, years before the Summer of Love and its many anniversaries - god(des) willin' and the creek don't rise full of claw toed African killer frogs who can only be kept in check by crocodiles and magic mud drying machines).


Dylan, in "Chronicles, Vol. 1" which I'm sure Usher, who didn't know his name was Bob when he gave him his Album of the Year Award in 1997, has never read, nor have all the members of Van Halen both in and out of rehab said: "My favorite singer ...was Karen Dalton. She was a tall white blues singer and guitar player, funky, lanky and sultry ... Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday's and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed and went all the way with it ..."


There's a picture of Mr. Dylan and Fred Neil and Karen Dalton on her second reissued CD, "It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You Best." On that one a true legend not a legend in Eddie Money's "mind"? has it that Fred Neil tricked the notoriously shy Karen into coming to one of his recording sessions and bringing her instruments along.


There, Nic Venet (Capitol Records, Beatles, Beach Boys, need I say more), who had been pursuing Karen Dalton for several years, turned on a tape recorder and another Karen Dalton CD is now available for less than the price of the box sets of "I Can't Even Remember My Name" and "Cabo Wabbo Gone Wild," combined.


Sticking with the first CD, produced by the bassist's bassist, Harvey Brooks, which you will likely not stop playing until you wear it out, I will only say a few more things.


In Nick Cave's liner notes, "The Understanding of Sorrow," Cave, the "grocer of despair" of Australia

says he listened to this CD, "In My Own Time" during most of the three years he traveled with it in his

suitcase at all times, all through Brazil. The other thing he listened to in that triumvirate of time was

Samba music.


I will just challenge you to read "The Understanding of Sorrow," Lenny Kaye's "In Her Own Time," or

Devendra Banhart's "A Stream Outside of Time," the other liner notes on this CD and not lose it, as in

losing it.


When I first heard and re-heard "Katy Cruel," with Karen Dalton on banjo, I was totally incapable of

getting up and walking around the room for a great deal of time.


Nick Cave says he listened to Karen's version of Dino Valenti's "Something On Your Mind" for most of his three years in Brazil.


You could try Richard Manuel's "In A Station" or Paul Butterfield's "In My Own Dream" or anything else on here.


Next thing you know you'll be trading in all your CDs on www.lala.com for $1, 75 cents shipping and something else you really want or need even if you don't know it yet.


There's a third Karen Dalton, a five song live set. I'm not even sure you can get.


But you can try. "How Sweet It Is."


P.S. "Katy Cruel" is available as a free download on www.lightintheattic.net.


E-mail Gary Peterson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Local author Meredith Lahmann has re-imagined the Knights of the Round Table in her novel "Sir Gawain's Challenge."


Many of us may have dim memories of distant cardboard knights galloping across musty pages or late-night screen.


Lahmann has refreshed and reinvigorated this ancient myth in her book. Her Gawain is a complex man of strong spirituality, bearing his self-chosen burden of service to his king as well as the involuntary burden of single fatherhood.


Gawain, Lancelot, and other knights are humanized, with their quirks and foibles, their secret fears and public shortcomings.


A notable feature of her book is an appreciation of military equipment, training, strategy, and tactics of the time. The logic underlying knighthood is woven artfully into the story.


The ending of the book shifts into a higher dramatic gear and really takes off. I found myself thinking that Gawain's pursuit of the psychopathic sadist Viscount De Longe could have been expanded into a book in itself. I liked the insight into the villain that Meredith imported from modern psychology.


"Sir Gawain's Challenge" is available from Catfish Books in the Willowtree Shopping Center in Lakeport. I was fortunate enough to buy a signed copy.


It is also available directly from the publisher, Authorhouse, over the Internet, at www.authorhouse.com.


E-mail George Dorner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Watching public television the other night I caught part of the documentary, "Best Of The Beatles," the story of the Fab Four, Five, Six or Seven's first drummer or, more correctly, before Ringo and whatever that other guy's name was, the one who played drums for the Silver Beatles before Pete did.


Pete, called "the best drummer in Liverpool" by more than a few, got a call from Paul McCartney in 1960, the same Sir Paul who would later have his face airbrushed off the first Beatles Anthology. Pete played drums on that one, on 10 cuts, and did nearly 1,200 shows, including the legendary ones in Hamburg, with the renamed Beatles.


Then one day, just after recording the original "Love Me Do" at Abbey Road, Brian Epstein informed him he had been replaced by Ringo Starr. No reason that holds water was ever given. Some say Best was too popular with the ladies, making Paul and John jealous. Did the same guy who hired him, fire him? No one seems to know but apparently John Lennon did say, towards the end of his life: "We were cowards; the way we treated Pete."


Read on and see what you think. But first consider this: neither Britney Spears nor the late (I think?) Anna Nicole Smith or even that crazy diapered astronaut lady ever slept between Paul McCartney and John Lennon in an unheated van with a broken windshield on a tour of France. Nor did any of them witness George Harrison losing his virginity in a Liverpool brothel.


But, Pete Best did.


It was five years ago and a couple of months that I began to see signs all over Clearlake advertising a "Best of the Beatles" concert with the Pete Best Band at Granzellas's, a club filled with what might be the stuffed victims of Ted Nugent's earlier visit to Middletown. Ted had friends there and stayed on after a Clearlake concert to lessen the local wildlife population.


So I took a 12 hour "vacation" to Williams. This is what I found:


In another time, in a parallel universe, it might have been George, John, Paul and Pete who took the world by storm and became the Fab Four. Or however many there were if you don't count the late Stu Sutcliffe, that first drummer guy and Bill "Murray The K" (See "The Rutles). Or "Clarence," who Eddie Murphy claimed "taught those boys everything they know."


My former colleague, Fran Kotas,founder and CEO of the Ringo For President Fan Club, might have been pushing Pete instead. And one of Best's daughters would now be drumming for the Who, instead of Zak, Ringo's son.


But it was not to be, for whatever reason. It certainly wasn't Best's drumming. Kasim Sulton, MeatLoaf's musical director and a former member of Todd Rundgren's Utopia,said this: "It is generally acknowledged, among musicians, that Pete was the best drummer on the Liverpool scene."


Klaus Voorman, yet another extra Beatle, who was their mate in Hamburg, played on a few of their albums and did the "Revolver" cover, complimented Pete's musicianship in the "Best of The Beatles" documentary as well.


After being summarily sacked by someone on June 6, 1962, Pete formed the Pete Best Combo, went on tour with Roy Orbison, and even opened a few times for those other Fab guys.


The Combo had a go at it, but, by 1968, Pete had hung up his drum sticks to work, first, as a baker and then spent 20 years as a now retired civil servant.


In 1988, he tried his hand at "a one off at a Beatles convention." One thing led to another and soon he was playing a whole lotta Beatles conventions.


The Pete Best Band has been touring the world ever since and now play the Casbah Club, the place where the Beatles got their start in Liverpool in 1959 and which Pete and his brothers now own. One brother, Roeg Best, is the other drummer in the Best Band. You know, like the Grateful Dead.


The ex-Beatle and his fellow Liverpudlians landed at Granzella's Sports Bar after a gig in New Orleans

followed by three other California shows.


Looking like it was designed by members of Hunka Ted's Club Nugent, the many charms of Granzella's include a 1,100 pound stuffed polar bear in a glass case. It's somewhat smaller mate looms above the bar, making this a family place.


About 200 customers turned out for the evening concert. But first, there was the arrival at noon with a CHP escort and a 1955 Ford Fairlane containing the band. It was hot and the promoter was uptight and not feeling all right.


"There will be no contact between the (dreaded) press and Pete Best at the hotel," he loudly announced, to the gathered reporters he had earlier urged to come early to greet the band.


I bear the distinction of being the first scribe kicked out of the air-conditioned Granzella's Inn, followed by Chris Macias of the Sacramento Bee and several TV crews.


Chris and I, holding dangerous pens and notebooks while thinking we were maybe being asked to leave the group, amusedly reviewed the proceedings and interviewed CHP Officer Pettigrew instead.


"I've been on vacation and I just got back this morning," he said. "There was an e-mail waiting for me. 'Escort ex-Beatle to Williams,' it said."


Pettigrew was having fun. He recalled how his parents had sold his 1962 VW van. He still mourns it.


Next came another CHP led ride to Maxwell for the press conference at the promoter's house.


Everyone got a shot at questions. I was tempted to ask Best "what he called his hair?" and "how he found America?" (by land or by sea?) but I bit my tongue and asked if he'd had any contact with the other ex-Beatles since 1962 instead?


"No," was the answer. "I played on the same bill with them, but have had no contact."


The soft-spoken and humorous drummer commented on Sir Paul's removal of his head from the front cover of "Beatles' Anthology I" for which he received $8 million for "previous services rendered."


"It didn't really worry me, to be honest," Best said. "I might be the headless wonder; you never know?"


He had this to say about Hamburg, from which he and John and Paul were once deported after being accused of arson.


"Germany was a hell of a time. We were young guys and didn't realize we were going to the biggest red light district in the world at the time. Twenty-four hour bars, strip joints, prostitutes; we just enjoyed ourselves. We were doing six to seven hours a night in 45-minute sets."


When four TV crews took over the questioning it was time to talk to some other members of the band.


Roeg Best was nursing a hangover.


"There were too many Hurricanes (a powerful drink with a decidedly delayed effect) in New Orleans," he said. "We played the Howlin' Wolf. I think I had seven. I didn't know."


Roeg, a most affable man, has the distinction of having played with another ex-Beatle, George Harrison.


"I was over at his house having a go at the drums," he said. "George came in and we just started jamming."


Chris Cavanagh had been the band's lead singer for five years.


"One of Roeg's friends heard me and I've been with them since I was 21," Cavanagh said. "Pete's a great guy, holds no grudge against anyone and doesn't put himself above anyone else."


I asked him how many were in the band?


"It's a six-piece," he replied, leading into some typical Liverpool humor. "We were thinking of making it a five-piece, but Pete doesn't want to leave!"


The other members are guitarists Mark Hay and Phil Melia and bassist Dave Deevey.


Outside the building where the press conference was held the neighborhood drummers were practicing. All brought drumsticks to be, hopefully, signed.


Alden Denny started playing last year. Alonzo "Beatle" Chavez plays the trumpet and got his nickname from his haircut. Trombonist Jaime Rodriquez and his pal, Julian Vasquez, just wanted an autograph.


One of the TV guys, who's a drummer, gave them lessons in the driveway until Best came out and signed their drumsticks.


"This is the biggest thing in Maxwell since that Oakland Raider, who used to live here, moved away,"

one of them said.


Back in Williams at the formerly (No Room At The) Inn, there was a reception, cheerled by the promoter. We were all to rise, put our hands over our hearts and sing "God Save The Queen." But, just in the nick of time, Best arrived and things generally chilled out though the press was under strict orders to ask no questions during the reception.


Some of us were bad.


When the Best Band finally took the sort of stage – a cleared out corner of the beastiary that is Granzella's – they began with "Slow Down" and the wild and crazy dancers started in.


Amazingly they didn't sing in Liverpudlian on rave up versions of "My Bonnie" and "Besame Mucho," both sounding better than the 60s recordings, also with Best, of course.


This was much more than a Beatles' Tribute Band. After all, as Monty Python might say: "it's got a Beatle in it."


There were lots of "Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs," scads of Beatles lore, courtesy of Best who owns one of the largest Beatles memorabilia collections in the world, and an old McCartney move, this time by Chris Cavanagh.


"Paul used to go out in the audience every night and sing personally to a female fan," he said.


Cavanagh chose a woman who had sat in a wheelchair with her cane all night and got a kiss and a hug for his efforts.


I approached her after the two hour show.


"I'm just an old lady who lives here," Dolores Perkins said. "I saw the Beatles in Oakland when they first came to America and I had the thrill of my life tonight. He made me cry."


Best is now 60 but he signed autographs after the show and shook hands all around.


Once a Beatle, always a Beatle," he'd said earlier in the day.


Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.


(Several months later I was informed by the same promoter who'd kicked me out of the sacred hotel lobby that Roeg Best had told him Pete liked this article so much it is now embossed and hanging on the wall at the Casbah Club.


I'm pretty proud of that.


E-mail Gary Peterson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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