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Wow, this summer is really cranking up the crazy along with the heat and humidity! It’s actually pretty stunning watching the steady Chinese water torture implosion of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., with resignation after resignation in the U.K. Pretty weird finding your own conspiracy theories correct: guess I’ve always just assumed folks like Murdoch secretly had the ability and technology to hack people’s cell phones and pay off dishonest policemen in order to get their “stories,” while using the threat of such treatment to keep perceived enemies in line. After all, nobody wants to be crosswise with someone who—as the saying goes—“buys ink by the barrel.” Rumor has it Murdoch is pretty broken up about the whole Milly Dowler affair, even cried after meeting with the family of the murdered young woman whose phone was hacked by his minions. Perhaps he finally had a moment of real remorse. Nine years after the deed was done, but, hey, better late than never. Of course, Mr. Murdoch accepts no personal responsibility for any of these things, done by his (often) hand picked employees.

And the pushback begins: Fox News, CNN’s Piers Morgan—previously employed at Murdoch’s recently shuttered News of the World, and (Murdoch-owned) The Wall Street Journal accuse the “liberal press” and left of piling on poor ol’ Rupert. As if bringing to justice what appears to be deeply corrupt media personnel for seriously egregious offenses is a “political” act. Murdoch’s companies have apparently been using illegal and dishonest means to get an unfair advantage over their competition, while taking market share from news sources that play by the rules, and using that momentum to snowball a handful of media holdings into an internationally powerful organization. The hot, hot summer of 2011 is starting to melt that snowball, exposing its darker, dirty layers and heart of rock and ice.

Going out on a limb here, but I just have to say it: I’m very glad this chicken is hitting the roost, at high velocity. Much of what we who love good journalism decry about modern media can be laid directly at this man’s doorstep. I come from a family of newspapermen. My conservative grandfather ran a paper upstate, taught journalism to students overseas in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Cairo, and, before retiring (passing away soon after) helped start the Legislative Gazette with WAMC’s Alan Chartock, at SUNY New Paltz. And he would be utterly appalled at what has become of the modern news business, dominated with viewpoint, factoid, violence, and salaciousness, geared more toward political pressures (most often from the right) and satisfying the advertisers, over making sure the public is necessarily well-informed. He taught that the news was about facts, truth, and proper historical context; opinions had their own special pages. Seeing the slick Murdochs “I had no knowledge”-ing their way through testimony before the British Parliament makes me miss him greatly. He would surely editorialize, strongly, and without fear.

But I’m gonna try and keep my smile on; with all this crap in the room I just know there has to be a pony somewhere! Well, we’ve got ponies galore for you in this issue, starting with the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, which, from its modest start raising funds for a playground three years ago, has become quite the major event, drawing vocal talent from around the world. Tivoli’s Tangent Theater Company started a few years ago, holding pub readings at the Black Swan, and now has its own downtown theatre space they’ll be breaking in with a two-cast run of Edward Albee’s Zoo Story.

And though most are familiar with her Lovin’ Spoonful husband John, Catherine Sebastian has been a photographic artist for decades (with some delightful contributions to Roll, especially our Pete Seeger cover), recently pushing the digital envelope with her new series to be shown at our good friends’ Woodstock restaurant, Oriole 9. All this plus education, gardening, food and drink, music festivals, and our peerless listings and highlights. Add a tall glass of lemonade, and you’ve everything you need to chill out this August.

Well that, and the steady drip……drip…….drip…….

Ross Rice, Editor

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