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Alice's Restaurant

Sunday, January 25, 2004 by Dave Winer.

I know it's late Permalink to I know it's late

Many apologies for having written so few DaveNets in the last few months. It's January 25th, and I'm only now writing the first piece of 2004. It's been a long time.

During the Christmas holiday I stopped in to see John Brockman and Katinka Matson at their farm in Connecticut (we East Coast people do things like that, believe it or not) and they asked what happened to DaveNet. I said I got tired of writing it. They asked again. And again, as if they had forgotten they had asked. I know the truth though, they hoped that I would forget that I was tired of it, and would start writing again.

Truth be told, I wrote a new content management system, and didn't feel like adapting the email code. I've been writing, more than ever, but doing it on Scripting News. But now I want to try writing for email again, so I'm going to convert the email code and send out some essays.

Why email? Permalink to Why email?

I think the people who tune in through email are different from the people on the Web.

We'll find out.

Catching up Permalink to Catching up

In the last few months, I've been to New Hampshire a bunch of times to see presidential candidate campaigns. Southern New Hampshire is very close to Boston, driving there is like driving to San Francisco from San Jose.

I've gotten acclimated to incredibly cold weather. It's three degrees farenheit now, with a wind-chill below minus twenty. Bundle up, go out for a walk. No problem. Amazing.

In October we had a fantastic blogging conference at Harvard Law School. And last week I was at Dean Headquarters in Burlington, VT on the night of The Great Dean Scream.

That's where we pick up the story. There are a lot of bits missing. The archive is on the Web. If you care to read it, it's all there.

Vetting Tim Russert Permalink to Vetting Tim Russert

Watching Tim Russert interview Wesley Clark this morning, it occurred to me how dysfunctional the system has become. I saw The Scream another dozen times. I heard the chief of the Democratic Party asked if he thought it was the end of the Dean campaign and he said the obvious -- it wasn't, and it should't be. Then they asked if Clark had screwed up by letting Michael Moore call the President a deserter. Later Russert repeatedly asked Clark to denounce Moore for saying that, but he wouldn't. The system is so perverse that Clark just danced instead of coming out and saying the obvious, yes, he's President, and yes, he got elected without his character getting the kind of examination the Democrats are getting.

"So Tim, let's turn it around," Clark might have said, "Why didn't you grill Bush on that during the 2000 election? How did he become President without that getting vetted?" I might go further and wonder how he got the nomination without his military service being fully examined.

And then to nail it, ask Tim to play the Dean Scream a few more times (we're starting to like it). If the Republicans cry bloody murder, let's go back and figure out who painted Dean with "angry" label. Yeah, it was the Republicans, in case you were wondering.

Net-net, Clark could've scored a bunch of points by asking Tim to ease up on his fellow candidate Dean, and go do his homework on Bush.

A wasted nomination? Permalink to A wasted nomination?

The Democratic field this year is incredible. They're all good candidates. If you forget the labels the Republicans, the Clintons and the press have pinned on Dean, he'd be a good leader, a good commander in chief. We probably would get a good health care system, finally. His wife Judy would be a fantastic First Lady. I like the fact that she's more comfortable in sneakers and jeans than in fancy ball gowns. But Kerry is good, so is Edwards, and Clark, even Sharpton and Kucinich are interesting. Lieberman, well, he's more of a Republican, imho. Anyway, it seems a shame to waste a nomination on Dubya.

Alice's Restaurant Permalink to Alice's Restaurant

In 1966, Arlo Guthrie suggested we all walk into the draft office singing the chorus from Alice's Restaurant. He figured that would be enough to get us a deferment for mental incompetence.

But if enough people did it, that would be the end of the war because there wouldn't be anyone to fight it. It would be a movement, a solution, an end, a great thing.

These days we call this a smart mob or a social network, but the idea is the same, and it would work to revolutionize television, radio and newspapers, which desperately need to find a proper place in the age of an informed electorate, which despite what you've heard, is the real impact of the Internet on the American political system.

Since the candidates have to avoid saying anything on TV, or showing any human qualities, they might as well go all the way and act crazy too. The challenge wouldn't be (only) to sound presidential or seem avuncular, or friendly, or dignified, or whatever it is the press values in a presidential candidate, but to mock the system so the voters know to go to your website to find out what you really think, what you really have to say. If all the candidates do it, or all the candidates who get votes, we've then reclaimed our political system. Could it really be that simple? Is it really such a wacky idea? Any wackier than the world we live in today?

So Dear Mr or Ms Candidate, when Tim Russert asks why you won't denounce someone or something, or admit to this or that, here's what you say.

"You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant. You can get anything you want. At Alice's Restaurant. Walk right in it's around the back, just a half a mile from the railroad track. And you can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant."

Excepting Alice. ;->


PS: This was fun. I want to do more.

PPS: I have a new laptop, an IBM ThinkPad. Lovely keyboard. Totally screwed up company. Set a new record last year at filing patents. They're gumming up the works. Don't buy their products. Heh. Sorry.

PPPS: It would make my day, week, month, year, life if they sang a chorus of Alice's Restaurant at a Dean rally tomorrow in New Hampshire. I would feel so damned powerful. Jim Moore, if you see this, what do you think?

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."