H/t reader squodgy:
“There isn’t much more to be said about this other than how refreshing it is that his son has compassion.
Rick Berman is a classic example of what we know is the unacceptable face of corporate greed and unregulated capitalism…”
A top US political consultant, dubbed “Dr. Evil”, has been caught on tape at an industry conference, advising oil and gas execs to regard public policy as “endless war” and to play on people’s fear and greed to lobby their interests.
Richard Berman’s speech, which he gave in June in Colorado Springs, was leaked to The New York Times by one of the participant’s at the conference who said: “It just left a bad taste in my mouth”. The whistleblower asked for their identity not to be revealed.
– Silver Jews reveal cause of split: ‘My father is a despicable man … a human molestor’ (Guardian, Jan 26, 2009):
Frontman David Berman explains that he is breaking up his band so that he can undo the wrongs wrought by his father – a rightwing spin doctor dubbed ‘Dr Evil’ by the US media
The Silver Jews have announced that they are packing up their guitars, tidying away their lyric books and cancelling a forthcoming tour. The reason, according to founder David Berman, isn’t a dwindling of inspiration or the clash of personalities, it’s not the spectre of drugs or because of sickness. No, it’s because the evils of the world are too vast, too persistent, too severe – and his lobbyist father is too much of a “motherfucking son of a bitch”.
“Now that the Joos are over I can tell you my gravest secret,” Berman wrote on the Silver Jews messageboard. “Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction: My father.” David Berman’s dad is Richard Berman, a Washington lawyer and lobbyist who has led campaigns against animal rights, trade unions, and even opposed anti-drink-driving groups. 60 Minutes called Richard Berman “Dr Evil”, but for his son even this is an understatement. He is “a despicable man … [a] human molestor … an exploiter … a scoundrel”.
“A couple of years ago I demanded he stop his work. Close down his company or I would sever our relationship. He refused. He has just gotten worse. More evil. More powerful. We’ve been ‘estranged’ for over three years … Previously I thought that through songs and poems and drawings I could find and build a refuge away from his world. But there is the matter of Justice. And I’ll tell you it’s not just a metaphor. The desire for it actually burns. It hurts. There needs to be something more. I’ll see what that might be.”
Berman has called off the Silver Jews’ forthcoming tour and declared the band’s saga to be coming to a close. “I guess I am moving over to another category,” he wrote. “Screenwriting or Muckraking … I’m 42 and I know what to do. I’m a writer, see?”
Berman founded the Silver Jews in 1989, together with Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, who later formed Pavement. The band’s ragged, wry country-rock won a devoted following, particularly on the strength of Berman’s lyrics. In the years following the publication of his first book of poetry, Actual Air, in 1999, Berman developed a substance abuse problem. He fell off the musical map and attempted suicide by taking an overdose in 2003. But with the help of his wife, Cassie, Berman bounced back, stayed sober, and relaunched the Silver Jews – now with Cassie playing bass. In 2005 – five albums into their career – the band announced their first-ever tour.
It’s Cassie, Berman said, who “is taking it the hardest. She’s a fan and a player but she sees how happy I am with the decision. I always said we would stop before we got bad. If I continue to record I might accidentally write the answer song to [REM’s] Shiny Happy People”.
To borrow the title of a recent Silver Jews song, it’s still difficult to tell if this decision is a Strange Victory or a Strange Defeat. As admirable as it is to quit while you are ahead – and as much as we look forward to new non-musical works from the main Silver Jew – it does make us sad. “This winter I decided that the SJs were too small of a force to ever come close to undoing a millionth of all the harm [my father] has caused,” David Berman wrote. But he’s wrong.