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the pen is mightier than the sword

Mr. Williams has been a writer, author, critic, et al since 1973

Ed Waldo

The Further Adventures of Ed Waldo, Intrepid Underground Newspaper Reporter  

A weird auctorial time warp:  When first I got to LA in 1976, the Free Press was still a mainstay of Los Angeles life. But by the time I was starting to get published, it was GONE. I would later work (unbeknownst to me) with its former staff, who were imported wholesale into running HUSTLER Magazine. This occurred almost immediately after Flynt bought the "Freep"—as it was affectionately known—and was then shot in early 1978—an attempted assassination in Lawrenceville, Georgia—as he defended himself from yet another overzealous "community standards" District Attorney, like the one in Memphis, Tennessee who had previously failed to convict Harry Reems for being in Deep Throat, etc. etc. 

The Freep was cannibalized after the shooting in order to to staff HUSTLER. But I never got a Free Press credit. (Flynt periodically would talk about bringing out a national Free Press, but he only ever published one issue after buying the paper). There was no paper to write for. Overnight, a mainstay of Los Angeles culture had vanished.

Then  in 2000, as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, I read that the Free Press would be resurrected for FIVE issues. I contacted my old friend, the founder and editor, Art Kunkin, and, quickly, I was reporting on the DNC at the IndyMedia Center, down the street from Staples Center. A strange double-dip: I was both an Oregon Delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and an IMC-credentialed reporter for the LOS ANGELES FREE PRESS—a legendary newspaper that had been dead and buried for more than twenty years!

Moreover, in the Venn Diagram of the thousands of IndyMedia people, and the thousands of Democratic Conention Delegates, I was  the lone, single, solitary overlap: a set of precisely one. (Love that 'New Math.')

Here are some of those pieces. At the time, the surreal police state that Los Angeles was turned into for the convention seemed fascistic; little did I realize that it was merely a harbinger of post 9-11 Amerika. Oy.

What was unthinkable then has become commonplace now.

The pen-name "Ed Waldo" comes from the birth name of Theodore Sturgeon, who was born "Edward Hamilton Waldo." A little in-joke. How he became Theodore Hamilton Sturgeon is, as they say, another story.

But, there was one little problem: The Free Press computers were PCs. The terminals available for writing stories were all Macs. There was no translation protocol. (Remember, this was back in the days that people made a religious thing about what kind of computer they used.) I just needed a typewriter. 

I asked the spiky-mousse-hair'd  techies for a solution. They looked askance at me, past tattoos and piercings. They shrugged. I hit on a solution. It was weirdly tedious, but it worked.

 I had to type the copy into a writers'  Mac. I burned it to a 3.5" disk. I walked the disk over to the to the "internet" area, where I inserted it into another Mac and emailed my story across the room, via, evidently, a donated server in either Seattle or Cuba, but probably the former. And after taking the REALLY long way 'round, the message was routed twenty feet across the room. That was how I filed my reports for the duration of the Democratic National Convention. So it goes.

You might note that I keep saying: DO NOT PRINT. This may seem redundant, but, in actuality, if you don't SPELL IT OUT, some idiot will use your real name, "out" you because they don't give a DAMN, and you are in a world of hurt. So I kept reminding them who the hell I was, and who the hell they should PRINT that I was. Past, sorrowful experience has convinced me of the utter necessity of this redundancy, and, as you will note, it WORKED. So, callooh! callay! Oh frabjous day.

And, weirdly, oddly, strangely, I had traveled back in TIME to get my LA FREE PRESS writing credit. This is one heckuva STRANGE universe, ain't it?

"Ed Waldo"
Eugene, Oregon
April 26, 2005

From: "Seattle-Cuba Sister City Association" <seattlecuba@****>
Date sent: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 08:20:25 -0700
Subject: For Sunday FREEP
To: editor@wwfreepress.com
Copies to: *@hartwilliams*com

Article body: 418 words.

>>Dear Free Press Editorial team:>>

>>Hart Williams here. Please accept the necessity of keeping my identity "under cover." Thanks.>>

>>Please print the "note" below in italics. Thanks. Don’t print these comments though. Thanks.>> :-)

*itals* NOTE: So that we can accurately report on goings-on inside the Convention itself, our reporter, a delegate from a Western state, is concealing their identity under the byline of "Ed Waldo."*end itals* 

The Early Bird Gets the Champagne Brunch
by "Ed Waldo*" (*Hart Williams, but DO NOT PRINT)

Sunday. The convention doesn't really begin until tomorrow. But that hasn't stopped a full day of events that are part of the convention, if the "Event Calendar 2000" sent out in our delegates’ information packets is to be believed. Some of the highlights are:

For early birds: "LA Koi Fun Fun Run - 5K-100K run and walk & kiddie K" in Little Tokyo at the corner of First and San Pedro. The event is for delegates and is open to the public, but there is an entry fee. On the other hand, there's the "Latino 2000 Tour of Paramount Studios," for media and Latino delegates, the event is free, but by invitation only to anyone else. It begins at 6:30 a.m.

For those who rise a little later: there is brunch at the Biltmore with "A Presidential Fashion Salute to the Democratic Candidates’ Wives." The soiree is sponsored by Forerunner Entertainment and is by invitation only.

At the Jonathan Club there will be a brunch for Joan Shorenstein, Center on Press Politics and Public Policy. The Jonathan Club is allegedly a highly exclusive private club for power players in Los Angeles. The brunch will last for four hours.

Rounding out the brunches is the "Brunch/Casa Del Mar with Cabinet Secretaries." The event is, of course, by exclusive invitation only and is sponsored by DNC Finance. One presumes that one should get one’s stretch limo to the event early, for what will undoubtedly be a very interesting session of valet parking. 

Delegates may attend: "Gala Luncheon Celebration Honoring Filipino American Leaders," at the Los Angeles Theater Center; or, the UCLA and
Henry Mancini Institute Jazz Concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall, along with "UCLA family"; Alumni and Elected officials. 

In the afternoon, there is a possibly fascinating symposium entitled: "The Freedom Forum—Cyber Political Revolution: 2000 and beyond," at the Hotel Inter-Continental. 

Meantime, I have to get to our delegation's hotel, and hope that everyone arrived without trouble. Tonight, there will be receptions all over Los Angeles for State Delegations. Monday the convention proper will begin. But the exclusive events and the problems of parking so many stretch limousines will undoubtedly continue.

Finally, winding this "non-Convention" day down, there is "Late Night with the Blue Dog Coalition" at the Santa Monica Pier. It is, however, by invitation only.

Ed Waldo (Somewhere in North Hollywood)

NOTE: Hilariously, while the computers in the IndyMedia press room were Macs, the Free Press computer was Wintel machine (IBM clone). Finally, the only way I could write my copy and get it to the Free Press was to compose it on a Mac, write to and pop the disc, walk over and EMAIL it across the room, via the Seattle IndyMedia connection. Ain't technology grand?

From: "Seattle-Cuba Sister City Association" <seattlecuba@****>
To: editorial@wwfreepress.com
Copies to: *@hartwilliams*com
Subject: ed waldo's piece
Date sent: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 15:16:56 PDT

Byline: Ed Waldo
From: Hart Williams
TO: LA Free Press
DATE: August 16, 2000

Please run this NOTE: "Ed Waldo" is a delegate to the Democratic
Convention from a Western State. He is writing under a pseudonym so that he can honestly cover the convention WITHOUT repercussions from The Powers That Be.

Delegate Dissatisfaction Grows
by "Ed Waldo*" (*Hart Williams, but DO NOT PRINT)

After two solid days of being asked to behave like trained monkeys, delegates have begun to openly ask among themselves: "What has gone wrong?"

It began with the bus arriving two hours late on Monday. We were told that the Secret Service had intercepted anarchists who were descending on our hotel in Westwood with "squirt guns filled with urine." Many Midwestern  delegates expressed satisfaction that the LAPD was "protecting us so well."  They, having never been to the Land of El Gringo Fascisto, are still  utterly unaware of what the Reaganistas have been up to. Most of the  insanely overdone security measures are never seen by we delegates. We are carefully shuttled (much as '68 delegates to the Chicago convention were driven by painted plywood panels masking urban blight of unimaginable  desolation) along a route that only barely indicates the grave class  disparities in the City of Angels.

Surely the troops in potentially hostile Kosovo do not have as secure a perimeter as the LAPD has thrown up. Underneath the I-10 overpass, sheriff's deputies play Jedi Knight duelists with riot shotguns. As we drove in  yesterday, our bus ended up behind 18 LAPD motorcycle cops in formation. Twenty-six LAPD black & whites took off in front of us in perfect formation,  lights blazing, as we passed Riordan's Pantry Restaurant at 9th and  Figueroa. Friday, when I had eaten there with an old cameraman friend, a waiter confided to us that Riordan had bullet-proof glass installed just prior to the convention.

Why don't I feel safer?

Increasingly, the delegates—often the cream of their respective states, proud mayors and legislators, congressmen, attorneys general, and activists  of all stripes—feel that we are free extras in a not-very-entertaining political extravaganza entitled "Demos Do Donahue."

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry was heard to remark this morning that  something is wrong here. Well and good, Senator Kerry. We just don't know what to do. Our sign of the moment is lugged out onto the floor by what  appear to be school crossing guards, and, as the appropriate moment in the speech arrives, we wave the signs. Only a bare handful of actual, genuine signs have appeared, usually from delegates who, like myself, had the  forethought to bring our own Magic Markers—of them, there is a severe shortage in the hall.

There is something disquieting in the statement by the party's floor whip that we are NOT to sign petitions (so that there would be no minority report  on the platform or rules). And that we would accept by voice vote. As a delegate, I have the "honor" of casting THREE voice votes at this convention, and two we missed because our bus was held up for two hours by the Secret Service protecting us from urine-gunning anarchists.

We are subjected to bag searches and metal detectors. If one fails the metal 
detector, one has to stand, cruciform, while being swept by an Officer (the  bag and mag is done by security contractees, many working at minimum wage). 

After being elected to this convention (which is, legally, the governing body of the Democratic Party, the DNC only being a provisional administration between conventions), I certainly enjoy being treated like, first, a potential terrorist, and, then, like a trained monkey.

A big-shot mainstream journalist walking the floor complimented us on our use of the signs, and wondered how we knew which one to hold up. I explained  that they only gave us one sign at a time. "Oh," he said. Oh.

As near as I can tell, the Democratic National Convention is an opportunity,  every four years, to be mooned by the national media, who either are  blocking our view of the speaker, or who are upstairs in the broadcast  booths with their backs to us.

Finally, I can recognize Dan Rather by his ass. Welcome to monumental Democracy.


From: "Seattle-Cuba Sister City Association" <seattlecuba@****>
To: editorial@wwfreepress.com

NOTE: Please run this note: 'Ed Waldo' is a delegate from a western state. He is writing under a nom de plume in order to report honestly without fear of coercion or reprisal from the Powers That Be.

The Real Enemy
by "Ed Waldo*" (*Hart Williams, but DO NOT PRINT)

Jerry Springer was on the floor in front of me, sporting a "PRESS" pass. That's right, that paragon of Social Conscience, that former Congressman, former mayor of "Censor-natti" (as the First Amendment lawyers  call it), now is considered a 'journalist.'

As a Democratic delegate, I am, of course, appalled that this yahoo, this buffoon, this walking insult to  civility and civilization, this poster boy for the "I will do ANYthing for money" philosophy is allowed on  the floor, but, as has so often occurred at this surreal Gestapo Disneyland of a production ("Think of it as a  pageant" quoth the DeNiro character in "Wag The Dog") I am utterly wrong.

The ABC Radio fellow alone seems worthy of our admiration. He has to carry his own equipment, and,  while we have sat and occasionally jumped up to play our part as trained monkeys, shaking our signs with  artifice and hamming it up for the cameras, HE has had to stand for the same period of time. He is  unheralded, patient and polite, and, after four straight days on his feet, he is probably bone-weary.

As for the rest ... well, Jerry Springer actually raises the level of overall professionalism. Let's begin with the following proposition, offered without apologies: meaningful campaign finance reform  will NOT occur until and unless we actually cease paying the media bastards for the use of our own airwaves, which we gave them all but free of charge. In my state, the local media pick and choose which commercials they will air, effectively controlling not only all interpretation of events political, but also the only political speech that has become meaningful, the 30-second commercial.

In the last presidential election cycle we spent (collectively) close to half a billion dollars on political  advertisements, with the vast majority going for TV and radio ads. Little actually went to the radio budget  comparatively. In other words, we raised half a billion dollars to give to the media for the privilege of using  our own airwaves.

So is it any wonder that our Lords and Ladies of Media see us as the peasants we are? On Wednesday, I and a few other brave souls take the front row in an attempt to retake one of our assigned rows of seats—perhaps the most important—that the media have arrogated as a flop spot, an equipment storage dump, and  a schmooze spot. They don't so much as bother to ask, these modern princes of the pixel: they do what they  do. The leadership is so busy kissing their ass that they quiver at the very thought of asking that we might  have our rows back. We ask politely at first, but civility is wasted on barbarians. An effective tactic on the  men, for me (who am not petite in any wise) is to say this: "You've got a nice ass. Now get it out of my face." Whether through homophobic fear, or just because the statement indicates that I am crazy and therefore dangerous, it works like a charm.

No media types laugh though. They are so busy posturing that story after story passes them by. 

Meantime, Jerry Springer won't leave. EVERYBODY wants their picture taken with him. More important  than any politician, Springer is a TV STAR!!! The deep conclusion to be drawn here is obvious. And, as  was admitted by Senator Joe Biden in a talk to our delegation: this is a TV Show.

And so, on Thursday Night, with everyone approaching exhaustion, with the final speech underway, and  the Important Monkeys of our Hairless Killer Ape delegation having noted our reconquest of the front row,  and having plopped their pompous asses into said seats—the better to be seen in TeeVee for (one, our  token "youth"—a rural boob stage-managed by her grasping mother, is neatly French-braided with red- white-and-blue pompoms in her hair—don't laugh, Oprah had a crew doing a story on her for a day. She  may be an airhead, but she is a TOKEN, and tokenism counts for a lot at this convention. Witness the CNN  producer pointing his cameraman at the yarmulke-wearing orthodox Jew in the Ohio convention during the  Lieberman speech: "OK, he's going to talk about Jews!")

And a CNN pass'd couple stepped in front of our former state chair, and our petite African-American  legislative Representative, and they asked the CNN couple to move.

The CNN fellow (who isn't a techie, and isn't a reporter, so who KNOWS what his excuse for a floor pass  is: perhaps he knows Jerry Springer) turned with extreme disgust and said, "You ought to ask a little more  politely." The former state chair and the legislator replied: "We PAID to be here. You GET paid to be here.  You're a GUEST here."

The CNN woman (holding hands with the "journalist," so perhaps she was a rental) grimaced in that well-known manner of the barefoot person who has just realized they've stepped in fresh dog poop. The CNN  man began sidling away, but turned to sneer: "You are a disgrace to your party!" (That is a verbatim quote,  CNN).

And then I realized that we had been protesting the wrong bastards all along. 







since 1996


since 1996













note: some few materials have been borrowed from elsewhere. To the best of our knowledge, all are either in public domain, or else constitute fair use

Jerry Springer and Ed Waldo, LA 2000
or, they'll clearly let ANYone into this convention.