December 13th, 2004

If This Were a Movie. . .

. . . Then the story of this reporter's apparent suicide would look a little too simple to be true:
Webb's 1996 series in the Mercury News alleged that Nicaraguan drug traffickers had sold tons of crack cocaine in Los Angeles and funneled millions of dollars in profits to the CIA-supported Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980s.

The articles did not accuse the CIA of directly aiding drug dealers to raise money for the Contras, but implied that the agency was aware of the activity.

Major parts of Webb's reporting were later discredited by other newspaper investigations. An investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department found no evidence of a connection between the CIA and the drug traffickers.

In 1997, then-Mercury News executive editor Jerry Ceppos backed away from the series, saying "we fell short at every step of our process." Webb was transferred to one of the paper's suburban bureaus.

"This is just harassment," Webb said after his demotion. "This isn't the first time that a reporter went after the CIA and lost his job over it."

After quitting the newspaper in December 1997, Webb continued to defend his reporting with his 1999 book "Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion."
In the end, we'd learn that his quote should really have read, "This isn't the first time a reporter went after the CIA and lost his life over it." Peter Dale Scott, how did you manage to live so long?
  • Current Music
    Riders On The Strorm (Merengue) - Señor Coconut And His Orchestra - Fiesta Songs

In the Corners

I'm absent-mindedly watching a Harold Lloyd silent film about college life on Turner Classic Movies as I work on the laptop. The font for the intertitles is a thing of beauty. Why is it that I can read 1920s-era typefaces, serif or sans-serif, so much better than contemporary ones? At any rate, I wanted to express again, for the record, how compelling I find pictures from this time period. I don't care what's happening in the foreground, for the most part. I just want to peer into the corners of each frame to catch a glimpse of a windowpane or coat or bottle of milk that expresses its time better than the plot ever could. I suppose I'm also attracted to this film in particular because my mother's father, the grandparent I never knew, went to college at roughly the same time it was made. He went on to get a Master's at Harvard too. Hard to believe that, when David Hawkes began teaching at Lehigh, he actually met someone who remembered my grandfather. Harold Lloyd is wearing a great argyle sweater right now. I'm starting to recall my attraction to scratchy wool garments. Better call it a night.
  • Current Music
    Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis - Neko Case

Participatory Domesticity

Every year it seems that the end-of-semester furor makes me too busy and stressed out to participate fully in our family's holiday festivities. This time, though, I'm trying to change that. I just sat with Kim doing the Christmas card addressing and stamping. I spent a lot of time on our co-authored holiday letter. And I helped substantively with the tree-decorating for the first time since we lived in California. It's making me happy.

Our tree, by the way, is superb. Bean picked the perfect size and shape noble fir. With all three of us hanging ornaments, it's just packed with pleasure:

I could stare at it for hours. Last night, I did. Time for pannettone!
  • Current Music
    Batti, Batti, O Bel Masetto - Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus And Bartoli, Cecilia - Cecilia Bartoli -