The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Hangin' With The Granola Crowd

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: The woman sitting cross-legged on the rug said her way of protesting war had been to abstain from paying her taxes. "Yeah, eventually they caught up with me," she smiled. She had long hair with some grey in it, and she looked like she'd been protesting injustice and wrong-headed policies for a lot of years. "But then I was able to negotiate what they said I owed to about half." She said she also had to agree to pay her taxes for five years. "But as soon as the five years is over, I'm going to stop paying," she laughed. We were both at a housewarming — after moving from Tucson to Santa Rosa, my friend had invited many of the people she knew in the Bay Area. Some, like the woman who didn't pay her taxes, she had only met recently. Others she'd known since the early '80s — my musician friend with the ponytail sitting on the couch, his wife, and myself among them. The granola crowd, some might call them, but to me the 20 or so folks hangin' out in her new place (including four or five kids who were rolling around on the floor) just seemed like real people. Concerned people who try to think about the impact of their actions. The tax-resistance story arose as we discussed the president-elect's interest in destroying the environment (specifically in Alaska, where he wants to drill for oil) — it was the woman's approach to dealing with a government that doesn't represent her values. I look at it differently — I feel if you choose to live in this country you need to play by the rules, even if you don't agree with them. An acquaintance of mine recently implied that he'd cheated on his taxes in years past. Everyone does it, he said, as if for him life was about getting away with whatever you can get away with. No, I thought to myself, everyone doesn't do it. There are many ways to rationalize something you know is wrong but want to do anyway, but even when you get away with something wrong, you can't get away from yourself. I wonder how my acquaintance — who has lived his entire life in America, who has driven on American roads and benefited from police and firemen, who attended public schools — rationalizes cheating on his taxes. He didn't say anything about protesting war. Some people don't seem to think about the consequences of their actions; for them, it's all about "me." Others let their values slowly erode until they've lost any self-respect. I believe the woman who didn't pay her taxes did so for the right reasons; sometimes extreme actions are required. Sitting with us was another woman; she leads a weekly meditation group. She wasn't buying into the tax-protest approach, but she thought that some kind of nonviolent protest could help with the Alaska problem. Certainly there was a time when Americans could influence a president by staging nonviolent protests — the Vietnam War ended after years of loud protesting. But I'm don't know how much effect they'll have on Bush. Destroying Alaska is just one entry on Bush's hit list — suggesting a right-wing fanatic such as John Ashcroft for Attorney General is another example of how he ignores the will of Americans, a majority of whom did not vote him into office. Sitting on the couch, my musician friend suggested it might take more than nonviolent protest. "I've still got all my guns," he said — deadpan, so you couldn't tell if he was serious or just joking.

Datastream: 764-HERO singer John Atkins and Black Heart Procession drummer Joe Plummer are collaborating on a project called Magic Magicians. The duo's debut album, Girls, will be released Feb. 20 on Seattle's cool Suicide Squeeze label (they've released singles by Elliott Smith, Aisler's Set and others). According to a trusted source who's heard it, Girls has a Beatles-style pop-rock sound... Henry Rollins has a spoken-word album, A Rollins in the Wry, recorded in the Spring of 1999 at L. A.'s Café Luna. Rollins made a series of nine weekly appearances at the club; the album's material is drawn from two of the shows. The album will be out on Quarterstick, also Feb. 20... You probably missed Kathryn Williams' Little Black Numbers, since it was only released in England last year on the small Caw Records label. It's a lovely, gentle folk-rock album; at times it has a jazzy feel, at others the kind of drawing-room classical touches that might remind you of Astral Weeks.

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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