David Sternbach

  • Johnson and “Johnson”

    ON NOVEMBER 7, 1991 AIDS finally became national news. Despite the massive efforts of AIDS activists for over a decade to educate the public and the media, only a few stories had broken through. The deaths of Rock Hudson and Liberace were treated largely as circulation-boosting scandals by the tabloids; the death of Ryan White was a tragic human-interest story, not unlike the fate of a child fallen into a well. But during an afternoon press conference—called just as the Thomas-Hill affair began to lose its urgency, just as neo-Nazi David Duke was achieving legitimacy with appearances on Donohue

  • Missile Accuracy, At Rocket Prices

    IT WAS LIKE A FIRST encounter with pornography. “I just want to read one of the articles,” I said apologetically to the librarian, “I don’t usually look at these magazines.” But when I got to the first two-page full-color spread I did look—and looked again. I glanced over my shoulder, fascinated and ashamed. But it wasn’t the Pet of the Month, it was an advertisement for a deadly, multimillion-dollar missile system in a 1990 issue of Armada International, a “defense” journal published in Switzerland, home of Heidi and the Geneva conventions.


  • Blue Planet, Green Dollars

    SOMEDAY, THE HYMNS TO environmental “friendliness” sponsored by corporate polluters will be greeted with the ridicule they deserve. Like an ad in the personals from a serial killer (“dedicated, likes children and animals, quiet places”), these “green” puff jobs sound OK unless you know who wrote them. But they should be received with the same alarm that greeted the U.S. military claim that in Vietnam “we had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

    Key to understanding the grim illogic of the military in the Vietnam War was that “it,” the thing to be saved, was not the village but the system

  • the Trials of Men

    Suddenly, the people outside took the form of frightening animals which he felt were intent on destroying him, attacking him and harming him.

    —Dr. Basil Jackson, Jim Bakker’s psychiatrist

    1) The hysterical symptom is the memory-symbol of the operation of certain (traumatic) impressions and experiences.

    2) The hysterical symptom is a substitute . . . for the reactivation of these traumatic experiences by association.

    —Dr. Sigmund Freud, “Hysterical Phantasies”, 1908

    FOR FERDINAND MARCOS it probably began early in 1986, when his legendary heroism as an anti-Japanese resistance fighter was revealed

  • Rap

    WHEN THE WHITE CITIZEN'S COUNCIL in Birmingham, Alabama, failed in its attempts to ban rock ’n’ roll in 1956, some of its members instead went to a Nat King Cole concert, dragged him off the stage, and beat him. The White Citizen’s Council was in an uproar about “nigger music” and its corrosive influence on white youth. It’s probably nitpicking to point out that Cole did not play rock ’n’ roll. After all, he was black.

    The North had its own antirock campaigns, equally racist in their rhetoric. Boston’s Norman Furman decried the “jungle rhythms,” and concerts were canceled throughout the Northeast