This ornery oriole's been crowin' loud and proud ("Denier's Conference," February 1) over the fallout from its revelation that Eric D. Williams, former director of this weekend's 9/11 Accountability Conference in Chandler, is a Grade-A Holocaust denier, with a book to prove it. Williams' The Puzzle of Auschwitz posits that Jews were not systematically murdered by the Nazis during World War II, and Auschwitz was just a forced labor camp, with no killer gas chambers.
Hey, who better to head up a kook congress that asserts 9/11 was an inside job, with controlled demolitions and drone planes instead of hijacked aircraft?
Initially, Williams told this incredulous ibis that he figured fellow 9/11 deniers would be open to his Shoah-shirking ideas. In anticipation of The Bird's column on him, Williams posted a free PDF file of The Puzzle of Auschwitz on his personal Web site.
9/11 Accountability Conference
But the reaction to Williams' tome was swift and negative. His co-organizer Kent "Cow Killer" Knudson, himself a convicted felon for shooting down some poor milk-maker that'd wandered onto his property, tried to distance himself from Williams. Knudson declared Williams was never in charge of the conference, though the conference's site, www.911accountability.org, had listed Williams as Conference Director and Webmaster. Williams also coordinated vendors, having checks made payable to him and sent to his Ohio address. He even owned the Web site itself.
Not long after The Bird's column hit, Williams demoted himself to "Vendor Coordinator." Then he took himself out completely, or appeared to do so. In a statement on his site www.whatreallyisthematrix.com, Williams painted himself as a martyr to free speech, claiming, "The only thing I am guilty of [is] Thought Crime." Williams also pulled the PDF of his book from his Web site and withdrew it from sale via the online vanity press Lulu.com.
The aforementioned 911accountability.org put up a note insisting that Williams was finito and that "The 911 Accountability Conference does not support Holocaust denial." All the same, attendees immediately began finding excuses not to show. First to go: local libertarian radio jock Charles Goyette of KFNX-AM 1100. Goyette said he'd never confirmed to begin with. Nonetheless, the conference had posted his picture and bio online as part of its list of "Confirmed Speakers."
The AZ ACLU's Alessandra Soler Meetze thought she'd be talking about post-9/11 civil liberties. She soon discovered Knudson had signed her up for some wack-assed "Citizens Grand Jury," and she bailed. After doing so, she confided to this chatty chickadee that e-mails to her from Knudson had been copied to Eric Williams, making this warbler wonder whether Williams might still be active behind the scenes.
Following the Goyette and Meetze departures, some of the 9/11 denial movement's chief crackpots took a powder. Dylan Avery, director of the screwy-but-seminal 9/11 flick Loose Change, pulled the plug on his participation, "due to the involvement of Eric D. Williams." Also, Alex Jones, one of the most maniacal of 9/11 moonbats, flaked. (Jones believes, for example, that the world's leaders engage in occult ceremonies at clandestine gatherings.) Perhaps Holocaust denial was too much even for someone as out-there as Jones, or maybe Jones had a hot date that weekend. His reasons were not specified.
Despite the defections and the efforts of conference organizers to disassociate themselves from Williams, the stigma of Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism and general lunacy clings to this symposium. As has been reported in the The Bird's alter ego's blog, Feathered Bastard, one of the conspiracy nuts slated to be on hand is Kevin Barrett, a controversial sometime lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Wisconsin. Though Barrett proclaimed to this heron that he's not a Holocaust-denier, his off-color commentary on the Final Solution was cited by Dylan Avery as one reason he wasn't attending. In an e-mail published on the Web site www.oilempire.us, Barrett said he could not dismiss the propaganda of Holocaust deniers like David Irving and Ernst Zundel, the latter of whom's currently doing five years in a German clink for anti-Semitic agitating.
"Even if the 6-million-deliberately-murdered-for-purely-ethnic-reasons figure is correct which it very well may be," writes Barrett in the e-mail, "I have grown agnostic on that after studying the Big Lies of Zionism, I would still have to characterize the Holocaust as it is taught in the U.S. as a hideously destructive myth."
The daffy don informed this skeptical swallow that for him, a "myth" is a sacred story its users "believe to be true." (You know, like the Tooth Fairy.) Barrett also assured The Bird that he was just jerking the chain of his e-mail's addressee, and that he accepts the Holocaust tale as told by historians. No, really!
Barrett's another example of a thread running through much of the 9/11 denial movement. See, just before The Bird broke the Williams story with the help of Pat Curley of ScrewLooseChange.blogspot.com, CNN's Paula Zahn devoted a whole segment of her show to anti-Semitism in the 9/11 conspiracy crowd, from the malicious rumor that Gotham Jews were warned before 9/11 to stay home to the allegation that agents of the Israeli Mossad organized the attacks. Additionally, anti-Semitic sources are often cited as authorities by 9/11 deniers real creepazoids like conspiracy maven Eric Hufschmid, whose 9/11 site www.erichufschmid.net contends that "Zionists" pull the strings of white supremacist groups.
Half-baked Hufschmid additionally asserts such drivel as "The Jews created anti-Semitism in Germany to drive Jews out of Europe and into Palestine, and to unify Jews, and to bring pity to Jews." Such repulsive opinions aside, Hufschmid's a major source for 9/11 deniers, specifically for the video 9/11 Mysteries, whose director, known only as Sofia, will be present at the conspiracy confab.
Another speaker at the upcoming powwow will be Don Harkins, founder/editor of the Idaho Observer newsletter, which a couple of months ago ran an unsigned editorial defending former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke for attending the Tehran Holocaust deniers' conference in December.
For the non-anti-Semites out there, the Chandler meeting also features regular ol' fruit loops like Webster Tarpley, erstwhile devotee of Lyndon LaRouche (the walleyed wackjob who accused Queen Elizabeth of being behind the world drug trade), and Barbara Honegger, a former policy wonk for Ronald Reagan with a master's degree in parapsychology who's said a voice in her head urged her to work for the Gipper.
With such attendees, the Chandler 9/11 shindig promises to be a veritable Planter's Cocktail Mix of Looney Tunes, crypto-anti-Semites, and folks who want to convince us all that al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden are "myths." You know, just like the Holocaust.
Gather 'round, birdies, and listen to the tale of Slim Smith, the folksy East Valley Tribune columnist, who's headed to the slammer Monday, February 26, for being blotto behind the wheel one too many times. Sure, this thirsty pterodactyl feels for a fellow boozer, but three DUIs in four years?!
That's almost better than former Saturday Night Live (now 30 Rock) comedian Tracy Morgan's record. Someone should've introduced the scribbler to the concept of drinking at home, or at least catching a cab when you're sloshed.
The fact that Smith, 47, got popped repeatedly doesn't really grate this grackle's beak. Rather, it's how he and the Trib mishandled the sorry mess. See, Smith, who typically writes three columns a week on the Trib's high-profile third page, revealed to his bosses on February 5 that he was two weeks away from possibly getting sentenced in a Gilbert courtroom to four months in prison. Instead of taking one on the chin in print, Smith and the Trib opted for some self-serving damage control, if you can call it that.
On February 7, Trib readers were graced with a sniveling Smith column and a blow-job piece by court reporter Gary Grado. Smith informed Grado he was fighting the charge and was in "full control of his faculties" when stopped.
"I understand drinking and driving is a serious issue, but what separates this country from totalitarian regimes is we're not punished for things we might do," Smith's quoted as saying. "The simple fact is I didn't hurt anyone."
It's a miracle the booze-hound didn't, or didn't pull a Patrick Kennedy and crash his car. The Gilbert police report from Smith's February 19, 2006, DUI showed Smith to have been seriously snockered. A Gilbert cop wrote that Smith was swerving, waited three to four seconds after the light turned green at Baseline and Cooper roads, then made a left and drove for 40 feet on the wrong side of the road. DUI experts The Bird consulted refer to this as the Nicole Richie maneuver.
Once stopped, Smith bluffed the cop that he'd knocked back but two scotches. The plastered penman later blew a .09. He may have been truthful in one respect, though. When the cop asked Smith if he'd have gone to work in his condition, Smith replied, "Yeah, sure." Well, at least he didn't start ranting about the Jews like a P-town Mel Gibson.
Maybe Smith was hammered when he wrote his February 7 column. He claimed he was innocent of the DUI charge and that his failed marriage caused his previous DUI convictions. Most embarrassingly, he gushed that he'd gotten an "assessment done by experts" and "mercifully, I am not afflicted by alcoholism." Yeah, it's probably more a labor of love. Like Dudley Moore's "affliction" in Arthur.
Of course, Smith doesn't mention in his column that he was arrested, cited and released in Gilbert seven months after that February 2006 DUI stop for driving on a suspended license. Smith spent 48 hours in jail and paid more than $800 in fines for the September 2006 citation.
Back in 2003, when Smith was stopped by Mesa po-po for weaving and speeding, the cop told Smith he reeked of booze and should come clean.
"Smith insisted that he did not drink any alcohol and only drank cranberry juice," wrote the cop. The blood test showed Smith's blood-alcohol content was .139. Now that's some high-octane cranberry juice! Smith, who was then the Trib's sports editor, broke down during the arrest, bawling like a baby, whining that he'd already been arrested "one year ago for DUI and would be fired."
The arrest he was referring to was in 2002, in Apache Junction. Pulled over for speeding, Smith just couldn't make the cop believe he'd only had two beers. Ultimately, he blew a .114 and .115 on two breath tests.
He served a day in jail for the 2002 arrest and 30 days in jail under a work furlough program for the 2003 arrest. Yet in an April 30, 2006, column headlined, "Who woulda thunk it I'm an elitist!" Smith smarmed, "Up until now, my highest aspiration involved staying out of jail." Wags are now calling the truth-challenged columnist the real Slim Shady.
On February 13, Smith announced in his column that he'll plead guilty on Monday and be taken into immediate custody for his prison sentence. The Trib's suspending him for six months, at which point his bosses will decide whether to keep him. Jeez, what does this cornpone Dave Barry have to do to get fired? Kill somebody? Come to think of it, that would give Smith something to write about.
Adieu, Chez Nous
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And yet another piece of authentic PHX cool makes way for a frickin' supermarket. That's the story behind the demise of one of the feathered fiend's favorite watering holes Chez Nous, a smoky oasis of urbanity and Jackie Brown-style chic in a megalopolis way too full of chain eateries and prepackaged "atmosphere."
Owner Amina Uben has fought the good fight, buying the bar in 2001 with Osco breathing down her neck, hot to turn Chez Nous' lot into one more drugstore. Somehow, Chez Nous survived, even as the ownership of the property where it sits (on the southeast corner of Indian School and Seventh Avenue) changed hands in 2006, the rent doubling with it.
Now market forces, with the help of current proprietor Red Mountain Retail Group and prospective owner Tesco, the British grocery giant, are ready to gobble up the little saloon that could, with its ink-dark interior, vintage wallpaper, and 40-plus years of memories.
Uben tells this tweeter that the last blowout will be Monday, February 26. And she's still hopeful she'll be able to relocate the chill spot to more hospitable environs. First Stacy Phipps' soul-food restaurant (on East Jefferson near downtown) and now Chez Nous! Is there nothing sacred in P-town?