HOT OFF THE PRESS oct.6.1999
In this issue: Free Mumia! movement gains strength; Re-routing of Minnesota Highway 55 causes controversy in Native American Community™; Gap announces creepier ad campaign.
Free Mumia! Movement Gains Strength
divisiontwo staff writer
The arm-chair liberal movement to free convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal has been steadily gaining steam in recent months and currently shows no signs of de-steaming. Nearly every college campus across the nation is blanketed with posters advertising protest rallies and meetings that promise "Free Pizza & Free Mumia!" Thanks to the Mumia marketing machine, any student, celebrity, or public official who needs a ready-made cause can slap on a Free Mumia! T-shirt ($15) or button ($5), both manufactured by Mumia Incorporated, the division of PepsiCo which owns the rights to the Free Mumia! slogan and to most of the murderer's merchandising.
Seeing an opportunity to cash in on the junior set, popular toy-maker Hasbro announced on Tuesday plans to release a Mumia Abu-Jamal action figure, complete with growable dreds and a tiny revolver that really fires. The company also outlined plans to release a series of limited-edition Mumia trading cards, which will feature Mumias of different colors and genres that kids can collect and swap with their friends. These genres include "Black Panther Mumia", "Just Published Another Book Claiming I'm Innocent Mumia", and "Help I've Been Shot On The Scene By The Policeman Who Is Now Dead With Two Bullets From My Gun In His Head Mumia". The cards are to be part of a game where children can fight their Mumias and earn points by defeating Mumia's enemies, including eye witnesses, character witnesses, forensic pathologists, and Bruno, the prison guard who roughs him up nightly.
But the Free Mumia! movement isn't all hype and no substance. Mumia's supporters are just as passionate about their cause as they are about ice cream. At a recent Free Mumia! rally held on the campus of the University of Southern California at Berkley, hundreds of students showed up to voice their concerns about the Mumia case. "I think it's just sad that this innocent man is going to be executed in whatever country he's being held in," said Melanie Miller, a Sophomore. Reminded that Mumia Abu-Jamal is currently residing on death row in Pennsylvania, and then told where Pennsylvania is, Melanie's eyes lit up. "He's like our country's Nelson Mandella!" she exclaimed. Indeed, many students consider him to be both an inspiration and an American martyr. Jonathan Ruhland, another Sophomore, voiced his dissatisfaction with a court system he considers to be racially biased. "If a white person had murdered a cop, you know he'd be free in like 24 hours," Ruhland challenged, "but if a black man does it, it's like, 'Let's send him to death row!' That's the sad state of our racist legal system today." Many students nodded in agreement to Ruhland's comments, but they were very, very stoned. The Berkley rally was jointly sponsored by Dr. Pepper and by Collegebooks.com, which offers college textbooks at a guaranteed 15% discount over traditional bookstores.
Few of these rallies are without detractors and counter-protesters, however. Many students at the Berkley rally expressed disappointment over minuscule free samples of Dr. Pepper, as well as Collegebooks.com coupons that require the purchase of three textbooks at regular price in order to be redeemed. "This whole Free Mumia thing is a crock of shit," complained Martin Backus, a Senior. "When Subway sponsored it last year we all got free foot-long subs, and you could take as many as you wanted." Another student chimed in, "And when AT&T held it when I was a Freshman, we all got free 20-minute phone cards."
At many rallies, in fact, students have expressed a difficulty identifying with the Free Mumia! cause. "I went to one of those Mumia rallies a few months ago," laments Muffy Steinway, a Freshman at Macalester College in Minnesota, "and the 'free pizza' it promised was, like, one tiny sliver of cheese. I was like, screw that. Gas him." Muffy's comments may be typical of many students at the school, but there are other Macalester students who feel passionately about freeing Mumia regardless of the food involved. Said Malcom Selesdon, a Senior, "I don't know nothin' about the case, but I ain't about to sit back and watch a Brother get framed for a crime he ain't committed." In a show of support for Mumia, Selesdon grew his hair long and put it in dreds. "It's a political statement," he explained, "and the hizz-oes, they be lovin' it."
Adding fuel to the Free Mumia movement are the two books he has recently published which claim his innocence, just like acquitted murderer O.J. Simpson did in 1996. Many students burn the books for warmth at outdoor winter rallies.
According to Mumia's latest book, "I Didn't Fucking Do It," current defense theory contends that on the night of December 9, 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal saw his younger brother getting roughed up by Philadelphia policeman Daniel Faulkner and came across the street to offer his assistance in the beating. Officer Faulkner, high on meth, pulled his gun and fired at Abu-Jamal, hitting him in the shoulder. At that instant, a clown on a ten-speed bike whizzed by and shot Officer Faulkner in the back. Moments later, a naked Indian Chief rode past on a camel and put a second bullet into Faulkner's face. Only Mumia Abu-Jamal, his younger brother, and four eye-witnesses who claimed Mumia Abu-Jamal was the lone killer, were on the scene when police backup arrived.
A Pennsylvania court recently rejected Mumia's 212th appeal, but the Free Mumia! defense team remains optimistic that lucky 213 will be the one that finally turns things around. In the mean time, it is perhaps an ironic end to the story that the very cop Mumia killed is now dead, while Mumia is growing old and will likely die in a prison, where cops put people who kill them.
Re-routing of Minnesota Highway 55 Causes Controversy in Native American Community™
There is a heated controversy brewing in the North Midwest, the very womb of Lady America. And judging by all the leaves turning brown and falling off the once florid Minnesota trees, Lady America is not pleased at all.
At the heart of the controversy is the re-routing of Interstate Highway 55, a project which has been in progress for more than two months now. Every weekday, hordes of protesters sabotage road construction equipment, lay down in front of bulldozers, chant catchy slogans and commercial jingles to build solidarity, and hurl bags containing vomit and feces at construction workers. The State has twice delayed the highway re-routing project in the hope that people would forget about the controversy as soon as the summer rerun season had ended, but to no avail. The delays only gave the protesters extra time to defecate and vomit into sandwich bags.
The State of Minnesota's advisory council which proposes and oversees Interstate construction projects came up with the plan to re-route Highway 55 through Minnehaha Park more than 30 years ago. The re-route was billed as a way to keep bands of hippies from congregating in the park for drug-induced sex orgies. Due to budget limitations, the project wasn't able to get underway until this year, but dark clouds soon rolled in which threatened to rain on the re-routing parade, which was held on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis on August 18.
It was first reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and three weeks later in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, that many of the state's Native American™ groups were upset that the proposed re-route of the highway would desecrate sacred land that should be used for building casinos. According to some Native American™ historians and casino employees, ancient folk legends of many tribes suggest that Native Americans™ may have once walked on the very land that is now Minnehaha Park, hence making the land hallowed and pure, as all Native Americans™ are.
The hypothesis was enough to channel repressed feelings of white guilt held by many liberal Minnesotans into political action. Scads of protesters have been calling the state Capitol and voicing their concerns regarding paving over land on which a Native American™ might have walked at one time. Massive emailing campaigns have also been launched aimed at convincing semi-retarded Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura to put a stop to the project. In addition, four separate protest demonstrations have been staged in front of the state Capitol building since the beginning of the project. Governor Ventura addressed the crowd at the largest demonstration, held on September 14th, and took the opportunity to detail his sexual exploits as a teenager, as well as talk about his wife's favorite "love buttons." He then referred to Native Americans as "drunken, gambling Injuns" and called the Virgin Mary "a whore." Political pundits condemned his inflammatory comments as a stunt to promote his next state-funded book tour; meanwhile his job approval rating remained steady at 82%.
State officials say they will look into the claims that a Native American™ might have walked through Minnehaha Park at some point in history, but reiterate that the project will proceed as planned. In a show of sympathy and support for the Native American Community™, however, the state says it plans to name the rerouted highway after well-known Native American™ icon Tonto, of Lone Ranger fame. The Tonto Expressway is scheduled to be opened in June of 2000.
Gap Announces Creepier Ad Campaign
Spurred by the unexpected popularity of sad, attractive twenty-somethings singing campy '70s and '80s pop songs while dressed in avant-garde Gap fashions such as plain T-shirts and khakis, the advertising agency responsible for the television ads, New-York based McReina & Duvall, has announced a "newer, creepier" campaign to air beginning in November.
Details of the new campaign are very confidential, but inside sources say that some ads will involve physically-handicapped children being beaten by thugs dressed in Gap fashions. The new image is supposed to appeal to the "rage, frustration, and dissatisfaction" members of Generation-Y feel towards outdated values such as compassion and political correctness. The ads will be set to acoustic and a-cappella versions of such classic tunes as Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and Sweet's "Little Willy". Another ad, similar in content but aimed at the slightly older rave crowed, will feature a dance remix of Sarah McLaughlin's "Adia."
The new ads are said to focus on a target 21 and younger, members of a generation prone to violence against the handicapped. This generation, sometimes called Pepsi's Generation NeXt, likes campy music such as that by Ricky Martin and the Backstreet Boys, as well as creepy and disturbing images, like clowns at night. They also respond to advertising that flies in the face of traditional community standards and values, and features blinking lights of different colors. This younger generation is statistically shown to be incredibly racist and homophobic, and thus the new ads will also feature shots of cross burnings and the shooting of gay couples.
Some parent groups are up-in-arms about the new ads, which they say corrupt their kids more than That '70s Show, but kids couldn't be more excited. "I can't wait to watch a handicapped kid get beaten up," says divisiontwo Straight Edge writer Raven. "Those cripps always bug the hell out of me, with their sad, puppy-dog eyes I just wanna stomp them to Hell."
Divisiontwo teen advice columnist Armelda Simone agrees. "A lot of the letters I get are from kids asking me how they can fly in the face of community standards and stated values. I tell them to scream rape in the middle of a shopping mall."
But whatever your take on the new ads, they're certain to cause a stir. And on Madison Avenue, where the dreams of young girls who would-be starlets are made and broken, creating a stir is the name of the game. Let's not forget that at in the '80s, showing three men fucking in a commercial for sneakers was considered "debauchery," and now it's merely commonplace. Whatever the ad wizards can dream up tonight, rest assured we'll yawn at it tomorrow.
September 28, 1999: Ground-breaking television to air on Fox; Scandal rocks the herbal supplement industry; Michigan man sentenced to hanging for swearing in front of women.
September 19, 1999: JFK Junior named Man of the Century; Students share their views on returning to Columbine; Scented candles can be dangerous.
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