New SG Interview With Adan Jodorowsky: Why Adanowsky Is Killing Ada
Apr 2014 14

New SG Interview With Adan Jodorowsky: Why Adanowsky Is Killing Ada  

Posted In Blog,Entertainment,Favorites,Interviews,Movies,Music,Tattoos

by Nicole Powers


[Adan Jodorowsky as the Young Fenix in Santa Sangre]

Adan Jodorowsky’s life story reads like a plot from one of his father’s surrealist masterpieces. The son of Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and Mexican actress Valerie Trumblay, Adan was born in France and raised in an exceedingly Bohemian household, where standing on the table and peeing in the soup was considered a legitimate form of expression rather than an act worthy of being sent to your room.

At the tender age of ten, he won the prestigious Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor for his portrayal of the Young Fenix in his father’s 1989 psychedelic horror epic, Santa Sangre. Adan continued on a cinematic path, with a string of roles in front of and behind the camera, while developing a career in parallel as a singer, songwriter, and musician.

Having achieved rock star status in his native France and throughout South America, Adan has recorded his first album in English, which was released in the United States on April 1st. The record, entitled ADA, is a therapeutic endeavor and a homage to a ghost that he finally hopes to lay to rest when the album runs its course.

SuicideGirls recently spoke via Skype to Adan, who was calling in from his home studio in Paris. Surrounded by beloved items from his childhood, such as a mariachi doll and a 4-track tape recorder bought for him by his mother, Adan spoke to us about his past and future from his preferred place –– the present.

Read our exclusive interview with Adan Jodorowsky on SuicideGirls.com.

[Keep Reading...]

Peace, Love, and Pepper Spray
Nov 2013 14

Peace, Love, and Pepper Spray  

Posted In Activism,Blog,Books,Entertainment,Favorites,Politics

by Nicole Powers

Having spent quality time at Occupations in Los Angeles, New York, London and Chicago, about a year ago I received a phone call from my friend – Emmy Award winning former CNN journalist Amber Lyon – asking for help with a book on contemporary protest she was working on.

“Come over for a day and write a few captions,” she said. I didn’t see the light of day for nearly a week. The result of the time served at “Camp Lyon” – as me and my fellow detainee/ PL&PS contributor Dell Cameron jokingly called it – is the just-released coffee table book, Peace, Love, and Pepper Spray.

With a Forward by David Lifton on the history of protest, the book chronicles the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the new wave of protest it inspired. It also vividly shows the state’s all too often brutal response to it, and the increasing militarization of our nation’s police.

Over the course of 12 chapters and 200+ pages, through images and commentary, the book highlights key events, such as the Occupy National Gathering in Philadelphia and the alternative “No Nato” Summit in Chicago, and actions like those conducted to halt the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The work of groups such as the Overpass Light Brigade, Code Pink, and Anonymous is also explored.

In addition, the book features shocking first hand accounts from the frontlines from Lyon (in the Introduction) and journalist John Knefel (My State-Sponsored Assault Courtesy of the NYPD), and an essay on online protest by academic and author Gabriella Coleman (The Ethics of Digital Direct Action).

“One thing’s for sure, protest in America will never be the same,” writes Lyon. “I only hope that the threat of pepper spray will never prevail over the voice of the American people.”

For more information on the book and where to purchase it visit: peaceloveandpepperspray.com/.

**UPDATE**

Watch Amber Lyon talk Peace, Love and Pepper Spray on SG Radio with host Nicole Powers, popular blogger and radio personality Brad Friedman, SG political correspondent David Seaman, and Strike Debt’s Alexis Goldstein.

Julia O’Dwyer – Hacking Politics
Nov 2013 11

Julia O’Dwyer – Hacking Politics  

Posted In Activism,Blog,Books,Entertainment,Favorites,Geek,Internuts,Interviews,Politics

by Nicole Powers

The following interview was conducted in November 2012 for the book Hacking Politics: How Geeks, Progressives, The Tea Party, Gamers, Anarchists and Suits Teamed up to Defeat SOPA and Save the Internet. Compiled by Demand Progress, Hacking Politics is a firsthand account of how a ragtag band of activists and technologists overcame a $90 million lobbying machine to defeat the most serious threat to Internet freedom in memory. It features contributions from Aaron Swartz, Lawrence Lessig, Cory Doctorow, Ron Paul, Kim Dotcom, and many more, and is available now via Tor Books.

Anyone who’s ever posted a link online without thoroughly investigating its providence should be concerned about the fate of a British student who is facing extradition and a ten year prison sentence in America – despite the fact that the crimes US prosecutors allege he is guilty of were not committed on US soil or servers and are not considered by experts to be against the law in the UK.

Richard O’Dwyer, a 24-year old from Chesterfield, England, founded TVShack.net in December 2007 while studying for a degree in computer science at Sheffield Hallam University. The site, which O’Dwyer started as a hobby, was essentially a boutique, entertainment-orientated search engine, which provided users with links to streaming movies, TV shows, documentaries, anime and music. TVShack.net hosted no content on its servers, it merely pointed users in the direction of third party sites that did.

Without warning, on June 30, 2010, the TVShack.net domain was seized by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] and a boilerplate copyright notice was posted on the site. Since Richard wasn’t operating from within the US, he wasn’t alarmed by this setback. Unperturbed, he switched over to TVShack.cc – a Top Level Domain based in the Cocos Islands (an Australian territory) – and soon had the website back up and running.

Richard continued to run TVShack.cc unimpeded, until one day when he got a rather unexpected knock at the door. The very long arm of the law, in the form of two American ICE officers, had come a calling at his university accommodation in the North of England, accompanied by an escort of Her Majesty’s boys in blue. Richard was arrested, but the investigation in the UK was subsequently dropped.

However, the Southern District Court in New York is attempting to prosecute Richard on one count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and one count of criminal infringement of copyright. The application of existing intellectual property law in this way stretches it far beyond the boundaries – and borders – that lawmakers could possibly have originally envisioned. Furthermore, the US Government’s determination to prosecute this test case – at the MPAA’s behest – is chilling when you consider how it may affect the very fabric of the web.

Even though Richard has committed no crimes that the British legal system is remotely interested in prosecuting, on January 13, 2012, a UK magistrate ruled that Richard could be extradited to America to face charges there. The judge was acting under the auspices of the highly contentious Extradition Act of 2003, a lopsided piece of legislation that was drafted in the wake of 9/11 and was sold to the public as an anti-terrorism measure.

Richard, and his mother Julia, a National Health Service nurse, are currently in the process of appealing this autocratic extradition ruling. As the legal process sluggishly moves towards a seemingly inevitable conclusion – since very few extradition requests from the US are declined – Richard is attempting to keep his head focused on his studies and his e-books. I therefore spoke with Julia, who has been spearheading the fight to keep Richard in the UK, about her son’s situation and the implications it could have for all webmasters and denizens of the net.

Nicole Powers: Were you aware at the time that Richard was doing this website?

Julia O’Dwyer: Well I knew he had a website, but he was at university. He wasn’t actually living at home all the time, so I wouldn’t be seeing him working on it that often because he wasn’t here. He would come home every few weeks or at the end of the university term. I knew he’d got a website. I didn’t really know the details of it…He did the website as a hobby. That’s all it was. One of his mates made a suggestion to him and he said, “Alright, I’ll do that.” So he did it.

NP: Had your son ever been in trouble before?

JD: No, no, never.

NP: When did you first realize something was wrong?

JD: I think it was in the summer of 2010. He was actually at home because it was the college holidays. I remember him saying, “Somebody’s taken down my website.” He was here in the room with me and he was like muttering away [saying], “Well, I’ll fix that.” America had put on this big red banner that is still on the website onto his original domain name, so he just fixed it and got it up and running on a new domain name. I can remember him saying, “America has nothing to do with me.” That was the end of it. He had it fixed and up and running again within a day or two.

NP: I’ve seen the banner. It just looks like one of those standard notices that you see and ignore at the start of a DVD. Aside from that, at the time, did anyone from the US government contact him?

JD: Nobody had contacted him at all. He’d said he’d had a couple of take down requests, which were not correctly formatted, so that meant he couldn’t find the links that they were trying to refer to. He had a take down request to remove a link from a British film company, and he complied with that request. But apart from those, there was no correspondence or communication from anybody in America to Richard about his website. All his mail would come to this address. When he’s at university, because he changes accommodation every year on the course, he always gives his home address as his mailing address. I know that nothing came here because I always open the mail in case there’s anything urgent…So I can safely say that no correspondence came to this address, and they did have this address because his domain was registered in his name with his home address. After they took down his first domain name in July we never heard anything from anybody until the police arrived in November wanting to question him about his website…That very same day he closed down the domain name and any of his email addresses that were associated with that website

NP: So before the police knocked on his door, he had no way of really knowing what he’d done wrong.

JD: I think he just thought, well I’m not in America; I’m not subject to the laws of America. That’s how he would think. That’s why he said, “They’re nothing to do with me, so I’ll fix it.” Which he did. Then they didn’t like that so they came after him.

NP: Where was he when the police arrived?

JD: He was in Sheffield at his student accommodation. It was early in the morning. He was just getting ready to go to classes and some police knocked on his door…There was police from the City of London, and two American agents. We assume it was ICE agents. They weren’t present when Richard was being questioned. I don’t know why they were there, but they didn’t come in on any of the questioning.

NP: So they took him down to the police station.

JD: In Sheffield, yes.

NP: I was watching an interview that Richard did with The Guardian in which he talked about how he asked if he should have a solicitor present and they brushed him off by saying it’d take too long.

JD: Yeah…They said to him it’s going to take a few hours to get one here. Because they said that, and because he had no previous dealings with the police, he didn’t ask for a solicitor. And he wanted to get to his classes. He didn’t want to be late.

NP: What’s your understanding of what was said during the questioning?

JD: Well I have the transcript of the police interview…It wasn’t a long interview. It was about 40 minutes…[They said] they were arresting him under copyright, designs and patents offenses. They said the website is streaming films and TV, and that’s infringing copyright legislation, so therefore the money you’re making is effectively money laundering; it’s the proceeds of your criminal activity.That’s why you’re being arrested. They asked him about the website, when he made it. They asked him did anybody else help him with the website. They asked him about how he managed the website, and if he generated an income from it. They asked him how it technically worked. It was just links on the website, there was no copyrighted content…They asked him how people would go on it, select a link, would be directed to Youtube or some other video sites. They asked him about how it gained popularity…They asked him more technical stuff about the website, where the servers were. No servers were in America. He told them it was all his own work, nobody helped him. He did it as a hobby. That’s about it really…He was actually in tears for most of the interview. I didn’t find that out until I got this transcript. I was a bit annoyed about that.

NP: How old was he at this time?

JD: He was questioned in 2010, so he was 22…The police were also here at my house at the same time questioning me. They probably had this address down for Richard as well you see.

NP: So simultaneously to the police knocking on Richard’s door at his digs they’re knocking on your door?

JD: Yes…Same time, early in the morning. I wasn’t going to work that day because we had the joiners here. They were taking out the staircase and putting new stairs in. They came and I was really worried and thought Richard had been in an accident. That’s the first thing I thought when I saw these police. It was about half 6 or 7 in the morning. It was dark. Anyway, they said they wanted to speak to me about a website that Richard had.

NP: Under what circumstances did Richard finally get released?

JD: When they finished questioning me I just sent him a text telling him to come home or he texted me and said he was coming home, and so he did. Nobody mentioned extradition at this point. That wasn’t even something that entered our minds. So I just said, “Don’t worry about it, Richard. We’ll get a solicitor, we’ll sort it all out.” He was told that he was on bail and that he would have to go back to the City of London Police Station, which is where those police came from, six months later, which he did. We both went there.

NP: What happened when you went down to London six months later in May of 2011?

JD: It was just to go to the police station to answer to the bail. Richard by now had got a solicitor who also knew nothing about extradition. He got us somebody to meet Richard at the police station…He went in with Richard, and then quickly came out and said the criminal investigation in the UK had been dropped. I felt an immediate sigh of relief, but then in the next sentence he said, but we’ve got this extradition warrant instead, and we have to go straight to the courts. That happened quickly. Richard was put straight into a police car and taken to the court. I had to go and find my way to the court, and that’s the first we heard about the mention of extradition.

NP: So with no warning, all of a sudden you’re in a UK court fighting extradition.

JD: Yes. Richard was put straight into a cell at the police station. He was locked up. I had to make my way there and the lawyer said that a barrister would meet me there…I had to be there for 2 and I don’t think the barrister came ‘til about 4. Richard was locked up all this time so I couldn’t have any contact with him.

NP: I’m guessing your lawyer would have had to scrabble around to find a barrister because he didn’t even know he was going to need one.

JD: Exactly, yes. While Richard was locked up and I was waiting to go to into this court, loads of people were there waiting for the same purpose, not to go America but to Europe…I went into the court to wait Richard’s turn. They just keep coming in, one after the other…they were all just being processed through…And I was just thinking, oh my God, this is going to happen to Richard next. We didn’t get any information. Nobody gave us a leaflet about what happens if you’re given an extradition warrant. I only knew what I could see going on there. The fact was everybody was getting their extradition requests rubber-stamped.

When Richard came into the court there was a prosecutor there for America and this barrister that we had. Of course, she knew nothing either. Nobody knew about the case because we didn’t know there was a case. The prosecutors wanted Richard to be kept in prison, so they were arguing for that. It was really terrifying because they were so nasty. Because Richard had got exams the following week, and we’d told all this to the barrister woman. She managed to get bail for Richard, but he had to go in prison overnight because they wanted his passport. We didn’t go to London with a passport, it was here at home, and they wanted some cash as well. Then it was 5 o’clock, and the court was closing. We couldn’t physically get the money and get the passport by 5 o’ clock when we didn’t even go into the court until 4, so Richard had to go to Wandsworth Prison. Luckily my sister lives in London so I was able to give her a call. I went to her house and then the next day we got the money and I phoned home and got my partner to get the passport. None of it was straightforward.

NP: I can imagine; Chesterfield’s 150 miles away from London.

JD: You have to take the passport to a local police station, and they have to contact the prison. But the trouble is I was trying to do this at 5 o’ clock after Richard had gone off to Wandsworth Prison. They make them sit in a van for hours outside, they take hours to process them into the prison, and until they’re actually processed into the prison and moved onto their computer system, they wouldn’t accept the passport. My partner…he was in Worksop [a town 16 miles from Chesterfield] at the time, and the police were like, “We don’t know how to do this. We can’t take your passport.” It was just hopeless, the whole thing. But by the next day, we got that sorted, and he was able to come out in the afternoon.

The other thing was they didn’t know what bail conditions to impose on him. The judge was like, “We’ve got the money, we’ve got the passport, what else can we do to him?” The barrister said we could say that he mustn’t access the internet, but then the judge was saying he’s got exams the next week, he’s at university, so we can’t do that, can we? And how could we police that anyway, he could just go in an internet café. So Richard had to tap on the glass, because he was behind this glass wall in the court, to get somebody to come over so that he could make suggestions to them about his bail. He just said, “You could tell me not to access the TV Shack website” – which he’d already taken down anyway – and “You could tell me not to buy any new domain names.” So he chose his own bail restrictions because they didn’t know what to do. It was funny. Well it would have been funny if it hadn’t been so frightening.

NP: So now he’s back studying at university and you’re fighting extradition, which is just a ridiculous thing because he’s not committed any crime that anyone’s interested in prosecuting him for in the UK, and it’s arguable that he’s committed no crime at all.

JD: Yes, that’s right. He never went to America. America is claiming jurisdiction over somebody who has never set foot in their country. They don’t allow it to happen to their own citizens. We can’t do it to them. I have a freedom of information request which shows that not one American has ever been extradited to the UK for something that they’d done in America. And the UK has never asked for an extradition of an American for something that they’ve done in America. So it’s mad.

NP: What’s the process to fight the extradition? And where are you at with it right now?

JD: Well we’ve just received a date for the appeal in December…The main argument is that Richard’s website operated in the same way as the TV Links website…and the TV Links case was thrown out of court. It was dismissed…It was thrown out because they said that linking to any content is not a crime basically.

NP: As I understand it, they were claiming the difference with Richard’s case was that he was curating content?

JD: No, they didn’t say that actually. In fact it was quite a cock up at the court…We had a few hearings where we presented the arguments through October and November of 2011…In order to be extradited the alleged crime must be a crime in both countries. We were trying to prove that it is not a crime in the UK. If we had won that argument, then Richard couldn’t be extradited. At that court hearing the judge was saying yes, you’ve got a good, strong argument. And so was the prosecutor. We had another hearing booked, because there’s other arguments that you put forward like human rights…

The next court appearance, the night before we were going to London we got a late submission from the other side. When you get a document through, you have to read it and you’re meant to rebut it, provide a response. But it came to us at something like 7 o’ clock at night; we were going to get on a train at 5 in the morning. Normally we would look at these documents for a week or so and with the solicitor write a response. I was really cross about this…I just sent a bit of a ranty email saying, “Why are we getting this crap? It’s full of inaccuracies. The prosecution clearly don’t have the technical knowledge to understand what it’s all about.”

The next morning, we got to London, I was still mad about this, because we had to do a very quick response to it. The barrister came and he said, “Oh, I’ve sent your email to the prosecution barrister, and he’s decided not to submit that document.” It was rubbish anyway. We weren’t afraid for him to submit it, just annoyed that it was sent so late. But he’d decided not to [submit it]. Because of that, the barrister said let’s leave it now as we left it last time, which is when the judge said we’ve got a good strong argument. We still had some other material to send in, but he said let’s leave it. I didn’t want to leave it. I wanted to carry on because I wanted it done good and proper, so that they wouldn’t be able to come back. But because he felt that the judge and the prosecutor were agreeing that we had a good argument, he thought we would win it, so we didn’t then submit this extra stuff…But then it all changed. Six weeks later the judge changed his mind. So we have to appeal against that decision, and this is the date that we’re waiting for, the appeal.

NP: I presume this is all costing an incredible amount of time and money…

JD: Well Richard has legal aid, because he’s a student, so we don’t have to pay legal costs. We’ve had to pay for a couple of things, like we had a video made to explain to the judge how linking works. Because you get judges who are not technically literate…There’s been the costs associated with traveling up and down to London quite a lot. That’s expensive.

NP: And I understand that you had to temporarily give up work.

JD: Yes, I was off work for about six months as soon as this started happening.

NP: This is so chilling, because what Richard’s done, putting links on a website, if America is successful in this case, the way it could be extrapolated will mean that virtually anyone that’s ever put a website up could be extradited and/or subject to similar prosecution.

JD: I’ve checked the American Department of Justice website, I’ve checked ICE’s website, I’ve checked the British Home Office website, they all have links on, and what do they say? We are not responsible for any content on any third party links…which is what Richard said on his website. Because when you go to a link on somebody’s website, you leave that website and go to elsewhere – don’t you? You don’t stay on that website. The content that you link to isn’t on your website. It’s like if you have an email that somebody sends you with a link on, if you click on the link, you get sent somewhere else. It’s not lodging on your email is it? So yes, it’s worrying, isn’t it, certainly?

NP: Do you have a sense that what you’re fighting isn’t just for Richard? It’s for thousands of people just like Richard, and also for sanity to reign on the internet.

JD: I’ve had to educate myself more about the internet and about extradition law as well. In the course of that I found out all about SOPA and PIPA and all that. So, yes, it is a very important issue isn’t it? And I think you’re right by saying if this is allowed to happen, then there are implications for many others worldwide, and for the internet. So yeah, it’s very important, but obviously I do have to put Richard first. He’s only a little fish really. I’m sure they’ve got bigger fish to fry than a little lad from Derbyshire.

NP: The US Government has virtually unlimited resources, so to drag a 22-year student through the courts like this, it feels like they’re choosing a test case that they thought would be easy pickings.

JD: Well this happened when they were doing this big clamp down called “Operation in our Sites” in America. I only know this now, afterwards…They seized several domain names on that same day, the 29th of November, 2010. After this had all happened, after the police came here, we received through the post documents about the domain name seizure. It wasn’t just a document about Richard’s website, it was a big document where all these other websites were listed as well. It was like a group thing, and it showed the addresses of the owners of all the websites. Richard’s was the only one that had his name and address at the side of it. All of the others had post office box numbers. So in that group, he was easy because they had his name and address, whereas the others, they didn’t. Because Richard did it as a hobby, he wasn’t thinking he needed to conceal anything….If it was criminal, he wouldn’t put his name and address on it would he?

NP: It’s also chilling that the website was seized first and questions were asked later. It was seized and shut down without any due process. They wouldn’t do that to a terrestrial business.

JD: Well he wasn’t running it as a business. It was a hobby. He did make money out of it, but he didn’t set out to make money from it. The ad companies approached him. He didn’t go looking to make money. When the advertising companies, who by the way were American, approached him, he just thought, “Yeah, that will be all right. It will pay for my servers and stuff.” He didn’t think it was going to grow into this massively popular website – that just happened by the fact of how the Internet works and how things spread. He never set out to make money from it at all. So yes, they did, they seized the domain with no due process.

NP: Basically it would be the equivalent of seizing a shop and all its contents and closing it down without so much as a court hearing, or even a formal mailed warning.

JD: No warning, no take down notice. I mean when these documents came…eventually, we got one saying if you want to show any interest in this domain name you’ll have to come over here. He just signed to say he wasn’t interested in it because we obviously didn’t want to go over there. But yes, no warnings, no takedown, just that banner slapped on his domain…No correspondence, no communication about takedowns or anything.

NP: Again, this is worrying for anyone who run a website anywhere in the world. If you apply the precedent America is attempting to set, other countries could start doing the same with the various other national domains, and any online business that falls in the sights of a government agency can just be taken down without any due process and people’s livelihoods ruined.

JD: Yes, I mean they have been doing that, haven’t they? I know they have. I’ve been watching. There have been lots of domain seizures and I’ve seen people having to go to court to get their domains back.

NP: How let down do you feel by the UK government? Because they don’t seem to be standing by their own citizen – which is unconscionable when you consider Richard hasn’t done any crime that any English court is remotely interested in prosecuting.

JD: Very let down. But I’m not the only one in that position. They’re just following the law that the previous government created. That’s what I’m doing as well, campaigning for that law to be changed…I thought extradition was for fugitives, people who had gone to America, committed a crime, and then ran away. That’s what a fugitive is. Not to go and get somebody who’s never set foot in America, which is what they’re doing. America can do that because the British side of the extradition law allows them to. They protect their own citizens in America; the UK does not. If an American was to be requested to be extradited to this country, they would have the right to a proper hearing and bit of a trial beforehand…The government, they’ve done nothing…There’s a few good MP’s who are fighting for reform, and they have been very good. But, historically, nobody wins this fight because the British government and the judiciary have got an obligation to stand by their extradition arrangements with America.

NP: Which are one-sided.

JD: Which are lopsided, yes.

NP: How can people help Richard?

JD: Well we’ve really had loads of support. Richard keeps out of the way mostly. I just wanted him to make sure that he continued his university courses and that that wasn’t going to be disrupted. He is doing that; he’s on his final year now.

There’s a few other people in the same position, and people that have been extradited and come back. We’re all working together lobbying the MP’s and getting plenty of stories into the media. A friend has launched a fighting fund recently, we’re just trying to get some money together…I have had lots of offers through Twitter from American lawyers who have said don’t worry, there’s loads of people here who would take this case for free. I’m not worried about that, but I am worried about other costs that might appear if we have to go there.

If you get extradited, you are put straight into a Federal prison in America, because they consider that you’re a flight risk – even though they take your passport. You are taken straight to a Federal prison and you have to fight then to get bail. And if you haven’t got an address in America, somewhere to live, then you’re not going to get bail. And if you don’t get bail, they leave you there to stew in until they are ready for a trial. Part of the rationale for doing that…Well firstly, they’re not ready for a trial, and secondly, they leave you in prison until you get so fed up and want to go home that you agree to a plea bargain. That’s how they resolve 97 percent of their cases in America. Also, if they did grant him bail, they’d want a load of money. So it’s going to be costly enough going to America, because if Richard goes to America I’m going to be going there…I’m just trying to anticipate and plan ahead really…If you fail your appeal, they don’t give you long before they take you. You can be gone within two weeks.

NP: I cannot imagine what you’ve been through and how much of a shock this must be.

JD: It was terrifying at the beginning…I’ve got a bit used to it now because I’ve spent the last six months of my life on the internet finding out more, finding out about copyright law in America, about copyright law in the UK, finding out about the extradition law.

NP: It’s just staggering, the fact that lobbying by bodies such as the RIAA and MPAA have turned something that would otherwise be a civil matter into a criminal one.

JD: Yes. They buy what they want, don’t they, from the government, from the law enforcement agencies by lobbying and stuff. It’s legalized bribery, isn’t it? And they have got people working for them that used to work for the Department of Justice and vice-versa. It’s all a bit incestuous that relationship between America’s law enforcement agencies and the MPAA. I’m not saying that people should commit copyright infringement, but that organization, those industries need to move with the times…Richard in one of his Guardian interviews said there’s nothing better than watching a movie at the cinema. He has always been a big cinemagoer. He still is. He was there yesterday. He goes there as often as he can. He loves movies. Yes, he’ll watch movies on his computer, but if he wants to see a movie proper, he’ll go out to cinema like everybody else does.

NP: People may think that this is never going to affect them, that this is some arcane copyright infringement case. But if they can go after Richard. they can go after anyone with a WordPress blog. No one is safe.

JD: That’s right. I mean, what is Richard to them? He’s just a little nobody in England. He’s nothing really. Why pick on him? He’s small fry…It’s not even clear that Richard has broken a law in America. It’s questionable whether he’s broken one in the UK. But you see you just get shipped over there and you have to fight that in a court.

NP: In effect, it’s guilty until proven innocent.

JD: That’s the way he’s being treated. Because extradition is another punishment, which is given to you before you’ve even had a chance to go into a court to defend yourself. Putting you and your family through this whole process, and then taking you to America and putting you in jail when you haven’t even been found guilty of anything…And just for something like this. He’s not a murderer or a rapist or terrorist or anything.

A month after this interview was conducted, in December 2012, Richard O’Dwyer’s ordeal came to an end when a settlement deal was reached. O’Dwyer traveled to the U.S. voluntarily to appear in a New York court and signed a deferred prosecution agreement. Under its terms, he agreed not to break any U.S. laws and was ordered to pay a £20,000 fine. As long as he complies with this agreement, the extradition request will be dropped.

<b>Alex Gibney: The Armstrong Lie</b>
Nov 2013 06

Alex Gibney: The Armstrong Lie  

Posted In Blog,Entertainment,Favorites,Interviews,Movies

by Nicole Powers

“The beautiful lie was much more profitable than the ugly truth.”
~ Alex Gibney

Lance Armstrong was a man with an incredible and inspiring narrative. He beat testicular cancer and fought his way back to health and to victory in a record breaking seven successive Tour de France races (1998-2005). “It’s just this mythic, perfect story, and it wasn’t true,” Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey in a televised mea culpa first broadcast in January, 2013.

Armstrong had not only dodged rumors and accusations of doping throughout his racing career, he’d viciously attacked those whose stories didn’t lineup with his own. Following the 2005 Tour de France, in which he’d set the fastest pace in the history of the challenging and mountainous race, he announced his retirement. It’s likely he now wishes he’d quit for good while he was ahead.

However, in 2009 he returned to the sport for what he hoped would be a victory lap. As he was preparing for his big comeback, Armstrong invited Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney along for the ride. However, the story Gibney’s cameras would ultimately capture was far different from the one that anyone concerned had anticipated.

Armstrong failed to win his comeback Tour, though he placed a respectable third. Despite, or maybe because of his inability to recapture his former glory, the doping allegations intensified. Following a second ill-fated comeback attempt in 2010, Armstrong announced his retirement in 2011, but the charges of cheating didn’t end with his pro-cycling career. In August 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced that Armstrong had chosen not to contest a litany of evidence compiled against him. The agency stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him from the sport for life.

Over the course of three years, Armstrong’s story had gone from too good to be true to that of one massive and highly orchestrated lie. Instead of capturing the truth on film, as might normally be the goal of a documentarian, Gibney had watched a lie remarkable in its scope and brazenness unfold.

Gibney was forced to shelve his original film, but was able to revisit the project after Armstrong agreed to a final interview in which he promised to come clean. The resulting documentary is a winning piece of action filmmaking and a compelling example of storytelling. In it we see the fascinating anatomy of a lie, and witness Armstrong frame and re-frame his truth.

We spoke with Gibney – whose previous credits include Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, and Taxi to the Dark Side – about his film, which might not chronicle a Tour de France triumph but is nevertheless a tour de force.

Nicole Powers: I have to say, I thought this was a really strong documentary. The way that you paced the race scenes, even though I knew who’s going to win, you still had me on the edge of my seat in the way I might be if it were a fictional movie.

Alex Gibney: I appreciate that. Honestly, we tried really hard. We did have some resources in this film. When we shot the Tour, we had 10 cameras, so we were able to shoot it like an action movie – and I feel like we delivered on that.

NP: You absolutely did. The whole circumstances surrounding this movie are so bizarre. I understand that originally Lance had approached you to produce a movie about his comeback. Why do you think he chose you, because you’re not the kind of person that’s going to make a puff piece on him?

AG: Well, it’s not quite accurate to say that he approached me. My producers Frank Marshall and Matthew Tolmach – Tolmach at the time, when we started way back when, was an executive at Sony – they had been thinking about doing a fiction film based on Lance Armstrong’s book, It’s Not About the Bike, for some time. They had Matt Damon, who I believe was going to star, and they kept writing scripts but they couldn’t get satisfied with the scripts. So when Lance told them that he was going to be doing his comeback in 2008, they went to him and said, we’d like to shoot it, and Lance agreed. Then they went looking for a director and found me…I asked them the same question that you asked, which is, look guys, I just did Taxi to the Dark Side, why do you want me for this? They said, well, we think you’re a good storyteller, but are you interested in this story? I said, yes. I said I was interested in will – his will. Both the best part of it, this inspirational idea that someone on the edge of death can come back and be better than they were before; but also the darker side of it, the idea that winning at any cost is okay so long as you win.

NP: Subsequent to you shooting the first round of material for this film, the big lie came out. Where you were in production on the original film when things started to unravel?

AG: We were finished. We had mixed the film. Matt Damon had narrated it. We were done. Basically things started to come out and we started to add a few cards at the end of the movie. But the first movie was not absent of doping. From the very beginning, I asked Matt and Frank if I could deal with this issue – because I thought it might have been one of the reasons that Lance decided to come back, to put all those questions to rest. So the first film did have an element of it. It was a rather small element, but it was there. But then we kept putting cards at the end of the film. At some point we realized we were going to have to have about 20 pages of cards at the end of the film and we’re probably going to have to go back in and redo it. So we just put the film aside until some of the bigger storylines played themselves out like the federal investigation.

NP: As an interviewer, one of my jobs is always to try and sense when someone’s telling a lie and challenge them on it. When you were chatting to Lance the first time around, how much did you think that he was bullshitting you? Or was he looking at you so straight in the eye that you were sold on his lie?

AG: I would say it was a combo platter. There were times when he did fool me and there were times when I knew that he was bullshitting me. One of them I put into the film. My style often is not to challenge somebody directly when they’re telling me a lie, but maybe to redirect or ask again. Because I want them to tell it to me the way they want it to be, and then when I get into the cutting room, let’s just say I can add perspective. So the lie that I put into the film that was the easiest and simplest example was one where I was in the car when he hatched his wacky plan to have [his former teammate and rival] Frankie Andreu be the one who had to come interview in the tour. He was howling with laughter as he hatched that plan. Then, of course, I asked him on camera, “Was there any mischief involved in this decision?” He said, “Oh absolutely not.” Like a politician. Like Bill Clinton might have said, “I did not have sex with that woman.” It was evidently a lie. At the time, I didn’t stamp my feet and say, this is outrageous, you’re lying to me. I just moved on.

NP: How much do you think this was about Lance being a pathological liar and how much do you think he was lying for his job like James Clapper?

AG: I think it’s a little bit of both. Lance would say, look, I had no choice but to lie. But, what that leaves out is — first of all, that’s not true. Lance could’ve said every step along the way, I’ve never tested positive, which actually would’ve had the virtue of being true. But instead he said, how dare you say that I as a cancer survivor would ever use performance enhancing drugs. He made his lie enormous, which is something he didn’t have to do, but I think, over time, he felt he had the license to do. So that was more than keeping his job. That was a way of him burnishing his myth in a way that ultimately became very profitable for him. Then, when people challenged that enormous lie, he went after them, and went after them rather viciously for actually trying to tell the truth, which is the thing I think that most people don’t forgive. The job part is almost understandable. That is to say, he lived in a world in which almost everybody was doping. What is not so easy to forgive in fact is this idea that he made the lie so enormous and made so many people complicit in that lie, and then the way he attacked people that tried to tell the truth.

NP: I know that you investigated the sport’s governing body. How complicit and corrupt do you feel they were?

AG: I think they were complicit and corrupt…Sometimes in ways that may have been organic almost. They were never able, at least in my reporting, to go in and order people to destroy positive samples. That’s never how it worked. It was always much more of a wink and a nod. As Lance says in the film, they would say, geez, you’re getting a little close to the sun here. You’re pretty close to testing positive. Which is a way of saying, we know you’re cheating, but just don’t cheat too much. Of course the whole aspect of the Vrijman Report is really an interesting example of how they were so deeply invested in the cover up. Lance was so important to cycling from a financial perspective that it was greatly in cycling’s interest to try to make sure that any report done on possible doping would be positive to Lance. So, yeah, I think the UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale] was deeply complicit. I think sponsors were complicit. Nobody really wanted to know the truth about what was going on, even though there were a lot of allegations early on about Lance doping. But did anybody ask the tough questions? No, because the beautiful lie was much more profitable than the ugly truth.

NP: In this age, do you think it’s even practical to try and get drugs out of sports? Do you think that’s an attainable goal? Should there be more pragmatic rules governing sport?

AG: Well, let me put it to you a different way, do we think that investment banks are ever going to stop cheating? No. Do we think that we should abandon any attempt to regulate those banks? I would argue, no. You have to try even though you know the cheating is going to continue. Even though you know that, because they’re smart and being paid a lot of money, they’re liable to be one step ahead of the regulators. I think we have an investment in sport to see that it’s not all pro-wrestling. You don’t want the winner or the loser of every sport to be determined by the size of your pocketbook and the quality of the drugs that you can provide. You want to believe that a lot of it is talent and hard work.

NP: Do you think that’s the beautiful lie though? That all you need is talent and hard work.

AG: No, clearly we know that we have to be smarter than that. Our eyes have to be open. We can’t pretend that doping doesn’t go on in sports. But I also don’t think that that means we should just say, well, since we’re going to have doping anyway, bring it on. Do whatever you need to do and that will be the contest. I just don’t think that’s what we want. Because ultimately that takes us down a slope that’s too slippery and too possibly dangerous…I mean, you’re right, it’s a beautiful lie. I agree with you. I think it is a beautiful lie to think that you can eradicate doping from sports. But I think that you can do a better job of keeping that doping in check and also changing the culture to some extent so that winning at any cost isn’t the paramount ethic.

NP: Sports should be about sportsmanship.

AG: Yeah…It’s not a level playing field. After all, some people are taller than others, people are faster than others, there are natural advantages. That’s always going to be present in sport. But it’s about reckoning on the rules of the road so you can agree. Even war has rules, right? And you think in some ways, well, why should war have rules? The idea is to win. But…I thought about it in the context of a film I was doing about torture. I thought, you hire solders to kill other people, that’s what you hire them to do. So why should there be rules about interrogations once a soldier has been captured? What sense does that make? Just beat the shit out of them and leave it at that. But two things happen: First of all, you don’t get very good information. And second of all, there’s something very powerful and appealing about the idea that when you get a solider under your control, and you have ultimate power over that person, it’s very important that you institute what is the military equivalent of the golden rule. To say, you and I are both human beings, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Because there is a peculiar kind of moral persuasion that takes place in that kind of context. So much so with doping. If Lance Armstrong can feel, look, I’m delivering a feel-good myth to people and – not only that – I’m raising lots of money for cancer, I should be able to dope as much as I want. Fuck them. I don’t find it a compelling rationale. I guess I don’t believe in laissez-faire in either capitalism or sports. I think rules are good.

NP: So you eventually circled back around to the film and got the last big interview from Lance. How did that come about? And how much persuasion did it take for him to sit down again with you?

AG: It took a lot of persuasion to get his lawyers onside. That took more persuasion than Lance. Lance said he would do it and he ultimately made good on his word. I think he realized that he had screwed us up big time and he owed us an explanation. And ultimately, he delivered on that, but it was a bitter pill to swallow. Both when he came out and finally told the truth, even though he had been lying to us forthrightly for a long time, but then also, at one time, he promised us the opportunity to have the interview where he would come clean. He didn’t make good on that promise either. So he owed us and I think he also he wanted to be able to influence his story.

NP: In his “come clean” interview, was there anything that you didn’t buy?

AG: Well, I think you see it in the film. I find the idea that he was clean in 2009 extremely hard to believe. I gave Lance the opportunity to give his rationale, but I find it hard to believe.

NP: Was there anything that we don’t see on camera, any questions that you asked that he evaded?

AG: The one question that I never could get him to answer straight was: what and when was the first time you doped? He was always vague on that issue and that always disappointed me. I wanted to know the very first time he took a performance enhancing drug. The truth is, there may be some mystery there and I still want to know the answer. But it’s also possible that the moment I was looking for, which was a kind of Rubicon that was crossed, the idea that, oh, gosh, I’m going to have to take drugs now. But I think Lance is actually being pretty honest when, in response to a question I asked him about why he took drugs, he said, I didn’t lose much sleep over it. In other words, for him, it was very practical.

NP: When you put it in the context of someone who’s been through chemotherapy and taken lots of drugs that are extremely harmful to the body, that line has to be a lot softer because he’s already someone that wouldn’t be on the planet but for drugs.

AG: Correct. I think also in the sport of cycling, particularly in Europe, there’s a very macho culture and Lance was a very macho guy. There was a very macho culture which embraced the use, and sometimes overuse, of drugs. It was just part of the manning up that you needed to do in order to be able to get across the finish line.

NP: Watching the film, that’s the one question that’s in the back of your mind the whole time that you never get answered. I wonder if that’s because he’s protecting someone?

AG: That’s the question. I don’t know. Is he protecting somebody? That’s why it was galling to me that he would never come clean on the hospital room. Is it because he’s protecting somebody or he just can’t stand to lose to Betsy Andreu…I don’t know which one it is.

NP: The hospital room thing, I’m conflicted on. Because you have a right to privacy with regards to what happens between you and your doctors. I’m actually appalled that his former friends would make public what was said under such circumstances. If that had been something that had come out outside of that room in the corridor, all well and good, but not in a consulting room with a doctor.

AG: You’re right. I take your point. On the other hand, that information first came out under subpoena, not by somebody going to the press and saying, hey do I have a scoop for you. It was in a legal context under subpoena that that information first came out. But, what I’m more interested in, is that, as a practical matter, Lance admitted on Oprah and also in the interview with me, that he was using drugs as early as ’94 – that is to say, well before the hospital room, right? So, if we already know he’s using drugs as early as ’94, what difference does the hospital room make? And that’s what leads you to wonder, what is that about? Is it about protecting somebody else? Did doctors lie for him? Or can he just not stand after all these years to lose.

NP: I guess that goes back to the question of how much is pathological lying, how much is lying for pride’s sake, and how much is lying to protect other people.

AG: Correct. And I think all these things got jumbled together in Lance’s mind. I think there’s a moral force sometimes that he’s able to exhibit when he’s lying, which is scary, but I think a lot of good liars do that. They exhibit what the police call “noble cause corruption.”

NP: It reminds me of Jimmy Savile and the child molesting case in the UK. No one wanted to poke around too much because Jimmy raised lots of money for Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

AG: I just did a film on childhood sex abuse in the Catholic Church and it reminded me of exactly the same thing. The church always used to come out and say, why do you keep attacking us on this? We do so much good. And people would back off. How dare you say it’s a priest? A priest! Impossible.

NP: What do you think is in Armstrong’s future? This is something that’s hard to move past. Can you see him coming back to public life in an Eliot Spitzer kind of way?

AG: It’s hard to know. In the short term, no. In the long term, it will depend. The problem is, he’s caught between a kind of Scylla and Charybdis of the legal courts and the courts of public opinion. If he ever comes completely clean, he’ll finally satisfy the court of public opinion, but he’ll put himself at huge legal jeopardy. And if he plays the legal game, he’ll never make anybody satisfied because they all want to hear the whole truth and nothing but the truth at this point. So until the legal cases are over…Also Lance’s own psychology, now that he’s in fighting mode he’s in no mood or he’s incapable of reckoning with what it is that he did off the bike. So in the short term, I don’t see a future. In the long term, we’ll have to see.

NP: What’s in your future? I know you’re probably already on to your next documentary, if not your next three. What have you got in the works?

AG: A couple of investigative things, which I probably won’t talk about, and I’m just finishing up a music documentary about the African musician Fela Kuti.

NP: That’s a change of pace for you.

AG: Yeah, it will be good. It will be fun.

NP: Well, thank you so much. It’s an absolute pleasure to chat with you. I loved the movie. Like you say, it played like a feature film. Even though I knew he was a liar, I wanted him to win. I guess that’s again part of the beautiful lie; Even watching this movie, I knew he was a liar and a cheat, but I sat on the edge of my seat wanting him to win.

AG: Hoping he would win. I agree. That’s ultimately why I decided to be complicit in the story and to put myself at the heart of it, as if to say, this is how it works.

The Armstrong Lie opens in Los Angeles and New York on Friday, November 8.

Related Posts:

SG Interview: Alex Gibney – Casino Jack and the United States of Money

<b>An Open Letter To My Male Friends</b>
Nov 2013 04

An Open Letter To My Male Friends  

Posted In Blog,Favorites,Love,Relationships,Sex

by Nicole Powers

To The Wonderful Guys That I Consider To Be My Friends,

I appreciate that from time to time you may need to disappear from my life. I understand that sometimes having female friends can put a strain on romantic relationships – especially when they are vulnerable and/or new.

I get that even the most amazing women can feel jealous and insecure at times – and never want to be responsible for anyone feeling like that. I want you to be happy in your love life, even if that means that our friendship has to take a backseat.

However, please man up and let me know what’s going on instead of just disappearing on me. I won’t judge you or your partner. Relationships are tricky even at the best of times.

But when you stop retuning calls, emails and/or texts without explanation, it leaves me confused, hurt, and wondering if I’ve inadvertently done something wrong (even when the rational part of my mind knows I haven’t).

So next time you feel the need to go AWOL, know that you can do so with my blessing – as long as you just don’t leave me in the dark.

With Thanks,

Someone Who Has Had One Too Many Men Randomly Appear, Disappear, Appear, Disappear, Appear, Disappear (etc., etc.) From Her Life Without The Courtesy Of An Explanation And Is Sick Of That Shit

Ps. Let me make things super easy for you, in future please just use this form text:

New GF / Back with GF. Got 2 go AWOL. KTHXBAI

<b>NEW SG Interview: Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots</b>
Oct 2013 30

NEW SG Interview: Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots  

Posted In Blog,Entertainment,Favorites,Interviews,Music

by Nicole Powers

On October 8th, Stone Temple Pilots released the five-song High Rise EP, which featured the band’s first post-Scott Weiland recordings. With Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington now fronting STP, the remaining original members, Eric Kretz and brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo, hope to breathe new life into the band.

We caught up with Bennington (whose other band Linkin Park have just released their Recharged album) to talk about the epic collaboration, and the music that’s more than worthy of STP’s legacy that it’s already spawned.

Read our exclusive interview with Chester Bennington on SuicideGIrls.com

Stone Temple Pilots’ High Rise EP and Linkin Park’s new album, Recharged (featuring the single “A Light That Never Comes” with Steve Aoki), are available now. Stone Temple Pilots have a string of new tour dates starting November 1st, visit their website for more details.

Photo: Chapman Baehler.

Clive Barker: Hellraiser and Artful Weaver of Worlds
Oct 2013 25

Clive Barker: Hellraiser and Artful Weaver of Worlds  

Posted In Blog,Books,Comics,Entertainment,Favorites,Interviews,Movies

by Nicole Powers

It’s impossible to pin down Clive Barker, the man who created the iconic Pinhead character. The multi-faceted and irrepressible filmmaker, video game designer, artist, and author travels through different mediums and genres with the kind of ease that a shapeshifter might exchange forms. Take, for example, his current diverse slate of creative output. He’s recently released anniversary editions of two of his most popular novels: Weaveworld and Cabal, which respectively reside towards opposite ends of the fantasy/horror spectrum (something that Barker envisions as a boundaryless continuum). Meanwhile he’s writing his next adult novel and applying paint to canvas for two more installments of his popular Abarat all ages adventure, which is told in words and pictures. A new comic series, New Testament, came out earlier this year, which Barker produced with Mark Miller, who also serves as his editor and the Vice President of his production company, Seraphim. And Barker is currently presenting an art exhibition at Culver City’s Century Guild in association with the gallery’s founder and owner Thomas Negovan. Entitled Grand-Guignol, the group show will feature Barker’s paintings alongside other works he’s curated with Negovan. In addition, on Saturday the Beyond Fest will present a special screening at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater of the Cabal Cut of Night Breed, which sees Barker’s cult classic film restored to a form that more closely resembles his original vision and the book upon which it was based.

On a recent edition of SuicideGirls Radio, the British born and internationally acclaimed master of multiple light and dark arts joined us by phone from his Beverly Hills home to talk about the varied proverbial irons he’s keeping warm with his creative fire.

Read the transcript of our 30 minute conversation with Clive Barker on SuicideGirls.com.

[Miller and Negovan also joined us in-studio - you can view the full two-hour show here.]

The director’s Cabal Cut of Night Breed, which features over 45 minutes of long lost additional footage, will be screened at the closing night gala of the Beyond Fest at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA on October 26.