Liberty island is the brain child of David Bernstein and Adam Bellow, with the help of Jamie Wilson, Abbey Clarke and a team of creators who range from atheist to pagan to Catholic, Libertarian to Tea-Party Conservative. Perhaps the one, sure thing we all have in common is devotion to the ideals of individual initiative, free enterprise and the profit motive, i.e., getting to keep the fruits of our labor and sharing at our own discretion, rather than that of big government.
Adam Bellow, son of *the* Pulitzer winning author Saul Bellow, has been a nonfiction editor for 25 years and vice president/executive editor for Doubleday and HarperCollins. “I noticed that a lot of conservatives–alienated and excluded from mainstream popular culture–were starting to write and publish their own fiction. Not only that, the same thing was happening in popular music and video. Together with a small group of friends we hatched the idea for Liberty Island as a home for the new counterculture. It’s Andrew Breitbart’s revolution!” To learn “How a pedigreed upper west side liberal came out as a conservative warrior,” see http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/rnc/9676/
David S. Bernstein transitioned from an early career in politics to become an entrepreneur and publishing professional. In the 1990s, he founded acclaimed conservative political journal Diversity & Division, which was the first original political voice for Gen-X conservatives. David grew up in Reading, PA and Washington DC before moving to New York City in 1993. David is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, and holds an MBA from New York University.
Abbey Clarke is Liberty Island’s Editorial Assistant, as well as a frequent contributor to SparkNotes. See more of the team at https://www.libertyislandmag.com/creators/list/all.html?s=na&p=2 .
Liberty Island is an online-only magazine(aka “ezine” for people like my sister Lori). The price of subscribing? A voluntary donation to a tip-jar. See a story you like? Leave a tip via PayPal for the author. Interesting marketing concept. I’m curious to see how it will work.
I don’t have a tip jar (my inner German just won’t go there), but I do post book reviews and contest entries. The contest germinated when Maureen Dowd wrote a politically motivated short story that has Tea Party members turning into zombies and destroying the Capitol, and a father sadly telling his son how Conservatives brought down America. “Can you write a better short story than Maureen Dowd?” inspired a wide variety of submissions. Marina Fontaine is turning hers into a novel. I’ve read and loved 15 chapters so far. I think she should employ Sarah Hoyt’s brilliant son to help her turn it into a graphic novel–you never know what could spring from Liberty Island.
My own story involves a mad German scientist with a time machine, but he isn’t entirely sure how it works (yes, think “Wizard of Oz”), and he’s frustrated by its limitations. Like Oskar Schindler, he can only save so many people. He has to know the person died in real time before he dares to travel back in time to save a Jewish child from being gassed in a Concentration Camp or a German child from dying in a bombed building. Then there’s…well, you can read it here, or you can follow the URL to read it at the site.
I can’t resist sharing here some of the photos that inspired the story. Red Shirt (left) was an Oglala Sioux (source: wikipedia). Stephen Mills(right) is CEO and President of AQIWO.
WHEREVER YOU GO by Carol Kean
“I am from the government,” the German says, “and I am here to help.”
Eyes twinkling, knife-edge cheekbones gleaming, he scans our faces as if to make sure everyone gets the joke. From the laughter, I’d say he just outed a hundred Americans as heretics. If the White House gets wind of this, our careers are over.
“They took your guns,” the German loves to remind us. “They took your freedom.”
My head vibrates. That damned titanium stud clunking my tooth again. The only defense mechanism we can wear at all times is inside the mouth, he says. In time of peril, bite down on it. We don’t believe the stuff he claims will happen next, but we of the titanium tongue stud now have a secret way to identify each other.
The German introduces new O.P. members, the first Native Americans to join our club. From Asia or India, people expect success, but from our indigenous people we expect indigence. All these tribes are segregated by choice on reservations, drinking and smoking away their government checks, voting with the 99 percent who just want what’s rightfully coming to them, right? Well, we have a Chumash Indian who sells some kind of ore from the Rez to nuclear power companies, a Chippewa who makes outdoor wireless systems for utility and energy markets, and other Natives who are not only employed, but are employers. CEOs. A deaf Creek Indian tells us hard work, not his disability and minority status, got him to the top of a Climate Control Engineering company. Ha ha! He has us in stitches, that man. So does the Apache who supplies IT and logistics support to the Armed Forces.
“Nothing is impossible if you have the will to make it happen,” the handsome Apache says. “If you really want something, you have to plan, act on your plan, and work hard to make it a reality.” We laugh until we cry.
If these guys talk like this in public, they’ll disappear. We’re running scared. How does the German find us, and how many weeks in a row does he think we can get away with beer and pizza in the hidden underground of our favorite pub? The Other Place, better known as the O.P., dates back to the 20th Century, its plaster walls adorned with snapshots of political candidates who’d dined here, back when Americans voted in elections. Hidden in the cellar, the German has a montage of vintage advertisements aimed at voters, something people found so annoying, they agreed to make our Current Occupant (he whose very name makes us wince in shame) President for Life. No more ads, no more burden of casting a ballot. America–what a country!
With our beer, the German serves machinima videos, aka his “fictional” time-travel documentaries. We don’t know what his time machine looks like or how it works, and neither does he, it seems. If I had a time machine, I’d find Hitler, kill him, and hurry home–but then I might not exist. Quantum complications mean the German can only save people who already died in real time. His animated videos show a mad scientist who travels to WWII Europe and rescues blue-eyed blondes from buildings about to be bombed, plus some Jewish kids from gas chambers. He’s always in a life or death hurry, always wishing he could save more people, but he can only take so many at a time. Off to the 17th Century they go, to a cliff dwelling in the Rockies, where children salvaged from an ill-fated past are raised to adulthood. Legions of them will be zapped into a future of skyscrapers, electric cars, ration cards for toilet paper and bread, and students in olive drab, pledging allegiance to a flag where the stars have been replaced by the face of our Current Occupant for Life.
The mathematics of it eludes me. My business is ethanol production, not the physics of time travel or the art of war. By myself, I have no way to topple a regime.
Today the German shows us scenes from a future Ice Age. “It’s the big one!” he says, arms spreading, voice trembling with energy. “Bigger than the one thirteen thousand years ago, and coming soon to a theater near you.” Pausing, he seems to deflate a little. “Ach, the numbers. I could save the world if the numbers would line up for me.” His body re-inflates, arms rising, eyes shining. “No matter! When the big wind blows, you know where to turn.”
“Not the government!” we say in unison.
We leave in pairs or small groups, to avoid suspicion, through a tunnel system that used to be part of a brewery. We’re all orphaned, single and childless, all ready to start over again in a new world if this one can’t be saved.
The handsome Apache falls into step with me. Our cell phones light a path on the old brick floor, past doors that no longer open. I hug my arms, shivering in the damp, dark underground until we find the door that leads into a busy food court in the mall.
We walk together through the revolving glass doors to the sidewalk. A crowd has gathered around the giant vid screen that feeds us updates from the White House. Instead of the usual photos of the Occupant’s latest family vacation or cocktail party with celebrities, or his wife’s reminders to conserve energy, eat less and walk more, we see an Orange Alert. A man’s face emerges on the screen. Those knife-edge cheekbones. The twinkling eyes. He looks more fit and fierce than the Russian dictator who’s poised to relieve us of our own inept Current Occupant for Life. Trouble is, the Russian would take away more than our guns. The 99 percent worship him.
I grab the Apache’s arm. The German walks past us, right there on the sidewalk, in his trademark greenish-brown suit with elbow patches, gold wire glasses and hat, his curved wooden cane tapping the cobblestones. On the street he’s one of a thousand cute little old men who look underfed, now that Social Security is dead and food rations go to young women and children first. He tips his hat to us and hurries on.
Old? How did he trick us into imagining that?
“Treason!” the President reads from his teleprompter. “This mad man goes by various names and appears harmless, but we believe he is a master manipulator created by the Tea Party.”
I manage not to share a smile with the Apache, nor turn my head toward the vanishing German.
“He wants to bleed America’s resources, undermine our negotiations with Russia and destroy the World Union to come.” The voice sounds hurt, like a little boy. “He spreads fear and loathing. His latest act of terror is a machinima video so terrifying, it’s had seven million hits in the past hour. Pay no attention to these lies. The biggest threat we face is Global Warming, and only you can stop it. Personal sacrifice…”
Big, white flakes of snow drift down, down, in front of the vid screen and to the ground. Sheer coincidence, I’m sure. Screaming, the crowd scatters.
Three men in black leather, riding big high-tech motorcycles, glide to a stop on the bricks of the Ped Mall and face us. We pretend to be riveted to the White House news but my heart pounds so hard, they’ll surely hear it with some electronic surveillance trick.
“O.P.,” the tallest one shouts, pointing at me.
“Best pizza in town.” I shrug, trying to look casual. All three men tromp the snowy sidewalk and tower over us.
“O.P.,” the man hisses. “One Percent. We know what you really are. And you know…the German.”
The Current Occupant’s two-story-high face looms over us. “This is only a video!” he shouts. Instead of the usual flag in the background, the German’s machinima plays unstoppably. Ha! Good for him. What nightmarish images. Like woolly mammoths suddenly frozen in ice, the Russian dictator and his jack-booted thugs halt in a march to the White House, their feet iced to the pavement. Citizens in olive drab petrify beside the cherry trees. A wild white wind swirls around the Capitol and turns it into a giant vanilla cone. Oddly, the shape reminds me of the Kremlin.
The Current Occupant looks away from his teleprompter. “Would somebody just shut the damn thing off already?” Blink, blink. “Well, try harder!”
A north wind gusts into the Ped Mall. In unison, the men in black turn from the vid screen and point their red laser-light guns at us.
“Freeze!” As if the irony of that command is beyond the men in black.
The end wasn’t supposed to be so near. I’m not dressed for this. My coat of many pockets, my hiking boots, Oskar and Schindler, my cats–the German can’t promise he’ll able to send us our pets! We’ll be lucky if we end up in exactly the time and place he programmed into these titanium studs. My employees–
The Apache squeezes my hand. Lean and brown, he feels solid as a mountain. Far-seeing and wise, like all those old Native photos, his eyes are calming. The press of his flesh against mine fortifies me.
“One more move, and we obliterate you!”
They won’t. Not until they’ve tortured us for information.
The Apache knows me only as The Virginian. His steady gaze locks mine. “Aaron,” he whispers.
“Ruth,” I confess. Suddenly, I like my name. “Wherever you go, I shall go.”
“To the new New World?”
The German’s Promised Land, even though he can’t make promises, but in him we trust. Not the government.
Aaron smiles, and I glimpse a flash of titanium. Hands tightly held together, we bite.
# # # #
NOTE: My second contest entry, “Comrade Cruises,” brings The German back for more time-traveling and some child-rescuing.
HELEIGH BOSTWICK – NOV 2010 writes: As the original inhabitants of our country, Native Americans have played a significant, yet often unrecognized role in shaping our country. In celebration of Native American Heritage Month this November, we decided to highlight five of our favorite entrepreneurs—who just happen to be Native Americans too.
1. Dave Anderson, Founder of Famous Dave’s Barbeque Franchise
Dave Anderson, member of the Choctaw/Chippewa Indian tribes and Founder of Famous Dave’s Barbeque franchise, is a classic entrepreneur with a string of failures and one huge success—an entrepreneur whose spirit and determination finally paid off. Voted the “Hottest Restaurant Concept in America” by Nation’s Restaurant News, Famous Dave’s has over 170 restaurants in operation, and Anderson, through various business ventures, is responsible for creating more than 200,000 jobs over the years. Anderson is also an enrolled member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Lake Superior Band of Ojibwa of northwest Wisconsin. (Source:www.famousdaves.com)
2. Stephen Mills, CEO and President AQIWO
Stephen Mills, CEO and President of AQIWO, never forgets his American Indian heritage—not even when naming his company, AQIWO, which is not an acronym as one might suspect, but rather the Chumash word for “shooting star” or “light.” The Arlington, Virginia, based information securities company pulled in revenues of $2.6 million in 2009. Mills gives back to his community as well, spending time mentoring American Indian youths and business owners who are interested in learning about government contracting. “I am very proud of my heritage and give back in the way of mentoring other Native American entrepreneurs,” he says. “I serve as an example and am always happy to speak with those interested in doing it themselves.” (Source: www.inc.com)
3. Henry Red Cloud, Founder, Lakota Solar Enterprises
Hailing from South Dakota, Henry Red Cloud is a direct descendent of Sioux chief Red Cloud, famous for his Red Cloud’s War (1866–1868) when he fought the U.S. Army for control over parts of Montana and Wyoming. But that was then and this is now and Henry Red Cloud is making his own name for himself as founder of Lakota Solar Enterprises, a company that manufactures residential solar heaters, and alternative energy and conservation devices. An attorney with graduate degrees in sociology and cultural ecology, Red Cloud started the business in 2004 as a partnership with the Colorado-based non-profit group, Trees, Water and People. Lakota Solar Enterprises is believed to be the only renewable energy business fully owned and operated by Native Americans in the United States. (Source: www.cleanenergypioneers.com)
4. T. David Petite, Inventor of Smart Meter Technology
T. David Petite holds more than 30 patents relating to networking, remote control, activation, and monitoring of wireless-enabled devices associated with wireless ad-hoc networks. Petite is perhaps best known for inventing “Smart Meter” technology, which his company, StatSignal Systems, Inc., patented in the late 1990s. Petite owns several companies, including Intus IQ where he is a partner, that licenses the technology to other industries such as utilities and health care. This year, Petite was honored by the Georgia State Senate in recognition for his innovations in wireless technology and his engineering and inventing career. Petite is a member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe and in 2009 founded the Native American Inventors Association. (Source: nativeamericaninventor.com)
5. Evans Craig, Internet Technology Services
Evans Craig is a man with a mission: “To get all Natives on the high-speed Internet, by providing affordable, yet quality technological services to my people.” Craig, a Navaho who also celebrates his Scottish heritage by wearing a kilt on occasion, has a number of entrepreneurial ventures in the works, including conducting Technology Assessments on Native American Schools and Tribes, and assisting Native Tribes and businesses with online marketing. Among his many accomplishments are designing a National Network to connect up 49 Tribal Nations for the Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT). (Source: www.evanscraig.com)
Yes, there’s a woman in the mix, http://www.inc.com/ss/2011-inc-5000-top-10-american-indian-entrepreneurs#8, Janice Guy, President, P3I, Hopkinton, Mass.
Janice Guyregrets the distance between her work in Massachusetts and her beloved home of Hawaii, but she is used to the separation. Guy’s father was a Marine, so growing up, Guy spent much of her childhood moving within the continental United States. During this time, her mother made every effort to ensure her daughter understood her Hawaiian heritage. She later followed in her father’s footsteps, joining the Marines after college. “The discipline from my military background, coupled with my strong ohana [“family spirit,” in Hawaiian] are deeply ingrained in the values of P3I.”
Brad Scott, President and CEO, Cetan Corp., Chesapeake, Va.
When Brad Scott decided to start his own IT solutions company, he felt very strongly that the name serve his company’s goals, but also honor his heritage. Scott, of both Chickasaw and Scottish descent, decided upon the name “Cetan,” based on Chetan ‘the Hawk’ from Native American mythology, the great messenger and observer. “It echoes the guiding principles of the company: speed, dedication, and strong vision,” says Scott. “I am a product of my family’s history and my company, Cetan Corp, is my way of paying tribute to my family and my heritage.”
Jim S. Williamson, CEO, New West Technologies, Greenwood Village, Colo.
New West Technologies, which provides various energy and IT solutions and services for local, state, and federal agencies, was originally Jim Williamson’s way of serving his own Native American community, the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe of North Dakota. In fact, from 1996 to 2002, the vast majority of New West’s clientele consisted of Native Americans. But now, Williamson prefers to keep his philanthropy private. “My support of Indian peoples is more anonymously through donations, primarily for educational scholarships and activities related to improving education achievement,” he says.
Noah Leask, President and CEO, Ishpi, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
“Ishpi,” in the Anishinaabe or Chippewa language, means to move forward, or to persevere; CEO Noah Leask does his best to instill this winning attitude into his employees, who are responsible for helping our Armed Forces dominate the information battlefield with IT and logistics support. “Nothing is impossible if you have the will to make it happen,” he says. “If you really want something, you have to plan, act on your plan, and work hard to make it a reality.”
Ken Novotny, President and CEO, CSI, Oklahoma City
A “proud member” of the Choctaw nation, Ken Novotny was raised in the minuscule town of Pocasset, Okahoma. “The entire town was three blocks wide and four blocks long,” he says. From journeying to Oklahoma State University to forming CSI, which provides network and IT support within the federal government, Novotny has held onto the lessons from living in such a tiny community. “In a small town business setting, you’re only as good as your name,” he says. “I apply that and try to do the right thing 100 percent of the time.”
Paul Lombardi grew up learning the importance of hard work. His mother, aunts, uncles, and grandparents all lived in an extremely impoverished packing district in Oklahoma, populated by many other members of his Choctaw tribe. “The lessons [my mother] learned were imposed on me and provided me with an ethic of diligence and hard work,” Lombardi says. He espouses these same principles at TeraThink, his IT management consulting firm. “This culmination of ethics and diligence have enabled us to effectively serve our customers.”
Brandon Clark, President and CEO
Brandon Clark, a descendant of the Choctaw tribe, gets most of his business savvy from his parents, who have spent the last 35 years owning and operating Oklahoma’s largest weekly newspaper, The Friday Newspaper. Clark’s parents constantly took responsibility for whatever the newspaper published, so when Clark launched his company RFIP, which designs and constructs outdoor wireless systems for utility and energy markets, Clark decided he would trust his employees to take responsibility for their business decisions. “We’ve got such talented people, and they understand the problems we’re facing,” he says. “As a result, the company as a whole is very nimble in how we adapt to the different markets and changes in the economy.”