Hipsters Against the War

Just as Iraq sees its bloodiest week in over two years -- as the number of American dead approaches 2300 -- "the anti-war movement," as Pitchfork's Kati Llewellyn put it, "just got a whole lot cooler."

Chris Wangro's March 20th benefit concert, "Bring 'Em Home Now," features R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, Peaches, Devendra Banhart, Bright Eyes, Rufus Wainwright, Chuck D, and Fischerspooner. The program also features a speech by Cindy Sheehan and a Margaret Cho fix.

Proceeds will go to Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans For Peace, both of whom are working to end the war and to bring 'em home.

The concert will launch a national peace tour produced by The New Press and featuring the authors of two groundbreaking books, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal by Anthony Arnove with Howard Zinn, and 10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military, an anti-recruitment handbook edited by Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg and including chapters by Cindy Sheehan and nine other anti-recruitment activists, journalists, and veterans. A full tour schedule will be available soon at www.thenewpress.com.

Wangro, producer of the benefit with NY America's Josh Wood and co-producer Ina Howard of The New Press, commented: "From coast to coast, the polls now show that a majority of Americans believe this war was wrong to begin with and even more wrong now." The sentiment is there but the means to activate new segments of the population have been lacking.

Part of success of the 60s, I've always suspected, is simply that revolution was made sexy. The hippest and sexiest artists and activists were on the scene, making it both ethically and aesthetically appealing; sex, music and righteousness is a powerful combination. And the 60s' reluctant mascot Bob Dylan wasn't a hippy so much as a cranky hipster, the object of whose crank was often the Masters of War.

Of Fischerspooner's schtick, Llewellyn asks: "Whether or not performing electroclash songs while dressed up as extras from the musical Cats will bring about such truth remains to be seen." True enough. But while Fischerspooner's demented rendition of Cats and Peaches' Lovertits may not be Blowin' in the Wind, 2006 isn't 1966 and the messages have to change with the times.

"Bring 'Em Home Now" offers the freshest and coolest lineup in a decade. Paired with the courage of Sheehan and the wit of Cho, they've got a powerful chance at getting through to apathetic scene-sters and soccer moms alike...

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