Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A night in Columbus

On the morning of my Columbus screening I awoke early to do an interview with Seth Mela of WLKF in Lakeland, FL - the next stop on my tour. As I was on hold with the station waiting to be introduced, I heard a reference to Sean Hannity and realized that I was probably on an extremist program - the sort that does not let facts get in the way of their political message and have no respect for the place that truth in journalism plays in our democracy. Seth was friendly enough at first, but did not allow me to answer his question about my use of the term "axis of evil" in the film's title. Instead of allowing me to respond, ("'tea' represents the sharing of ideas in a genial atmosphere, while 'axis of evil' is a close-minded and demeaning term, which represents a refusal to engage in diplomacy and motivated me to take patriotic action and seek truth in Syria myself") Seth Mela bloviated a lie about having seen footage of Bashar Assad saying that Israel should be pushed into the sea. Meanwhile the station turned off my microphone so no one in the audience could hear me explain my refutation of his ridiculous claim and my questions about what language was Assad supposedly speaking in in the fictitious video.
It was an interesting experience to be inside of one of those lie machines that do such great disservice to our country by propagating divisive lies. Seth Mela and his ilk would love us the be the D.S.A. (Divided States of America). The Polk Theater staffer who had arranged the interview apologized and explained that the interviewer has a nasty habit of turning microphones off and yelling.

After the delightful interview, I partook of the Gates House signature french toast and fresh fruit breakfast and took a walk along the riverbank. There is a beautiful old railway bridge that links Columbus GA to Phoenix City AL, which was known as sin city in the past. Up the river is a dam that is scheduled for removal so the river can be converted to a recreational area in the next year.

Before my screening I stopped at Country's BBQ for a a fried pickle and goober pie. As usual, I was served a straw with my water. If people really cared about the environment and reducing oil dependency straws, balloons and chewing gum would be outlawed.

At the River Center for the Performing Arts, Darlene Kitrell delivered a wonderfully thoughtful introduction to the film. I wish she could come to every screening...she made me want to see TEA again and reminded me why I made it.
There were some officers from Fort Benning in the audience and I had a discussion with one of them during the Q&A about the military's altered mission in Iraq and the potential for TEA to be used as a training tool. After the screening I sold 5 copies of TEA to two of the officers. They thought the film and my lecture could be particularly useful in intelligence and leadership curriculum on certain bases. I was so happy at the thought of contributing to a deeper, happier understanding of Arab culture in the armed forces, that I forgot to write down all of their nice leads.