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Buy one of the following Michael Moore books from amazon.com:

'Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American' (1997)

'Adventures in a TV Nation' (1998)

'Stupid White Men... and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!' (2002)

'Dude, Where's My Country?' (2003)

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Photograph by Stephen Laufer

Banana Slugs: Pets or Meat?: At a press conference before his Santa Cruz appearances, Michael Moore promised to read something that would piss off his otherwise adoring Santa Cruz audiences.

Nüz

More Moore

Academy Award winner Michael Moore lived up to his reputation for being notoriously late, showing up 60 minutes in arrears for both his sold-out shows at the Civic Auditorium last Sunday.

Not to be outdone by John Travolta's Slug T-shirt and the Rev. Jesse Jackson's slug tie, Moore's trademark baseball cap was adorned with the UCSC Banana Slugs logo, a fitting plug given that his talk opened UCSC's 2003 Arts & Lectures series.

The famed rabble-rouser shared the stage with cardboard cutouts of Osama and Saddam (purportedly acquired from a frat house), joking that both were "hiding out in Santa Cruz" before launching into his famous telephone stunts--in this case unsuccessfully trying to reach Arnold Schwarzenegger before connecting with the Republican husband of a woman in the almost uniformly Democratic audience. At the second show, he momentarily stunned the entire audience into silence when he almost got access to a voice mailbox at MSNBC ("What law did we just break?" he asked afterward) and had the crowd going nuts when he left a payback message for Jay Leno.

In between playing games like 'Stump the Yank" in which the "dumbest Canadian" defeated three straight-A Americans, none of whom knew the name of the Canadian prime minister (It's Jean ChrÉtien, duh!) or the Canadian capital city (Ottawa, eh?) and mocking Americans' geographic ignorance (two-thirds of Americans should have to pass a written test on the whereabouts of any country before they invade it, he joked), Moore waxed serious by encouraging people not to jump in bed with any of the Democratic presidential candidates--yet, although he did admit to being in the "Anyone but Lieberman" camp.

"If we leave the job of removing Bush to the Democratic Party and the hacks, we are doomed ... If we get down with [any of the candidates] right now, why do they have to change?"

Intimating that if the primary were tomorrow, he'd endorse Dennis Kucinich, he then gave the vegan ventriloquist hell for being "personally opposed to abortion," a statement Moore said he never wanted to hear from any man.

Pouncing on leftie criticism of Wesley Clark for having voted for Reagan, Moore shot back, "So did the rest of America ... We have to be welcoming to those who voted for Reagan and voted for war, but now realize they made a mistake. Clark couldn't get his story straight--which is where the majority of Americans are."

Moore also gave Howard Dean a verbal dressing down for being arrogant--"He says he's antiwar, so how's he going to win? Most Americans weren't antiwar"--and suggested the Vermont governor find a better way to talk because no one wants "a version of Gray Davis."

From Left Field

Though both shows (and even the press conference beforehand!) were mostly a huge Michael Moore lovefest, Moore did come under attack a few times from the leftist crowd during his first visit to the Cruz.

Yes, despite his advice that the left lighten up and be "less pure," audience members gave him hell when he read from his new book Dude, Where's My County? his contention that "Mumia probably killed that guy"--and by the way, folks, Moore only did it because the journalists at the press conference double-dared him to.

But the biggest confrontation of the night occurred when a woman audience member asked, "Why do you hate Israel?"

Moore grabbed that bull by the horns, recalling how he'd once demonstrated when Reagan laid wreaths on the graves of SS officers, and that an anti-Semitic joke in Roger and Me was intended to show that such racism "is alive and well," not support it. He also revealed that he had refused to have a film included in the Jerusalem Film Festival, because it did not provide Arabic subtitles--a policy that was then reversed, thanks to Moore's protest.

"I will never allow what happened to the Jewish people to happen again, but I have no integrity if I am not willing to do the same for my Palestinian friends," he said to thunderous applause.

Noting the applause level for his Palestinian support was stronger than for his Israeli support, Moore continued, "She doesn't believe us. That's why it's so fucked up. Because Israelis are so crazy. Because they think the whole world's against them, they've made all the wrong decisions ... but there's room for everyone, for Israel and Palestine."

Fuzzy White Men

With Moore's last book, Stupid White Men, still at No. 19 on the New York Times bestseller list while Dude, Where's My Country? debuts at No. 1 on the same list this week, Moore could be forgiven for gloating over his phenomenal success. But Moore's face wasn't the only thing fuzzy when asked about his book sales policy. Bookshop Santa Cruz'S Ryan Coonerty explained to Nüz that The New York Times partnered with Barnes & Nobles over book sales and this, "plus the fact that it's not a particularly scientific list," has led independent booksellers to form their own list called Booksense.

"It's my understanding that Moore's in a contract that gets him more money for every week he's on the New York Times bestseller list, so he doesn't allow bookstores which don't report to that list to sell his books during events," Coonerty claimed.

When asked about this policy at his press conference, Moore said he didn't know much about the technical aspects of his book tour.

Still, Coonerty noted that things "worked out OK, because Capitola Book Cafe, which is independent but does still report to the NYT list, handled the sales ... We like almost everything Michael Moore says, but we wish there was more connect between what he says and what he does."


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From the October 22-29, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.




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