Entertainment meets revolution

Silja J.A. Talvi

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I'm surrounded, right here in downtown Seattle, by the sight of frantic holiday shoppers grabbing up Old Navy sweaters, Nike shoes, and Sharper Image massagers. It's a holiday-shopping frenzy that makes my stomach queasy; people look half-crazed while they're doin' it, and everybody's meaner than usual. (Holiday spirit? Hrrumph.)This time of the year tires me out; it makes me want to hide in a closet until the whole confluence of commercialism and pseudo-Christian celebration is over and done with. I don't have a problem with religious holidays. I just have a problem with what happens with capitalism gift wraps those holidays and sends you the bill.Don't get me wrong: I understand gift giving. A lovingly, carefully chosen gift is a wonderful thing to bestow on a friend. Toward that end, I've got two 'ab fab' recommendations for you--a CD and DVD which were among my personal favorites in 2005.Check it out:* Another World is Possible, a wonderful CD compilation released by the progressive European label, Uncivilized World. This album received virtually no mainstream music mag exposure, despite innovative and well laid-out packaging and a fantastic 15-track collection of cuts from the likes of Manu Chao, Asian Dub Foundation (one of my all-time favorites doing a live version of The Clash's "Police on My Back"), The Skatalites, Lee Scratch Perry, and Massive Attack. The CD itself comes with a 47-page built-in booklet with sharp contributions from Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Subcommandante Marcos.Profits go to ATTAC, "an international organization that is trying to create an alternative to the type of globalization that puts profit [over] people." ATTAC stands for Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens.* My other recommendation is for a ground-breaking DVD, With God on Our Side: George W. Bush and the Rise of the Religious Right in America, a documentary film (with plenty of DVD extras) by Calvin Skaggs, David Van Taylor and Ali Pomeroy. If you're one of millions of Americans still scratching your head about how, exactly, someone like George W. Bush got into power--and what makes him tick--this is essential viewing. Instructive, illuminating, and inspiring in its own right. A documentary this well-researched and (wholly non-dogmatic, at that) deserves a very, very wide audience.

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Silja J.A. Talvi, a senior editor at In These Times, is an investigative journalist and essayist with credits in many dozens of newspapers and magazines nationwide, including The Nation, Salon, Santa Fe Reporter, Utne, and the Christian Science Monitor.
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