Flashbacks: September 29, 2006

The Boston Phoenix has been covering the trends and events that shape our times since 1966.
By PHOENIX FLASHBACKS  |  September 27, 2006

Bad information | 5 years ago | September 28, 2001 | Dan Kennedy questioned whether the US gave the Taliban $43 million.
“In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, a little-noticed decision by the Bush administration last May has emerged as a powerful symbol of US fecklessness.

“According to commentators of all ideological stripes — from the Nation’s Christopher Hitchens on the left to the New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg in the center to the Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly on the right — the US gave $43 million to Afghanistan’s Taliban government as a reward for its efforts to stamp out opium-poppy cultivation. That would have been a shockingly inappropriate gift to a government that had been sanctioned by the United Nations for its refusal to hand over international terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

“Would have been, that is, if it had really happened. It didn’t.

“The truth is contained in a transcript of a briefing given by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who on May 17 announced the $43 million grant; it was aimed at alleviating a famine that threatened the lives of four million Afghans. Far from handing money over to the Taliban, Powell went out of his way to criticize them, and to explain the steps the United States was taking to keep money out of their hands.”

City of ghosts | 10 years ago | September 27, 1996 | Ellen Barry explored the auras hidden in familiar Boston cityscapes.
“Once upon a time, there was harmony in this place. From four sides, energy flowed into Copley Square, collecting into a reservoir of prosperity and growth. The earth’s good power rose up from the grass; the flow of water brought life force; on four street corners, tall buildings served as protection from evil forces. Pedestrians felt a deep sense of security. The city grew.

“And then, an edge of malevolence cut through the square. It reared up suddenly and fell like a cleaver, slicing everything in its way, flashing evil in three directions. There was no escaping the Hancock Tower; the stalwarts cringed, unable to do battle with the razor-sharp interloper. A shadow slipped over this small community, and slowly — so slowly that it took years for anyone to notice — Trinity Church began sinking into the earth.

“There is a story going on in Copley Square, and Eva Wong, feng-shui master, shudders visibly as she tells it. Make no mistake: there are good buildings and evil buildings here, and war has long since been declared. This is not apparent to the financial analyst dashing out for a sun-dried-tomato bagel, or the pimply truants on their skateboards, or the tourists, sweating through their shorts and talking about Paul Revere. But Eva Wong, native of Hong Kong, sees it as clearly as she sees the drunks on the bench opposite. Above the lawn where she is sitting, the air is full of daggers.”

Macho men | 15 years ago | September 27, 1991 | Johnny Angel reviewed the Chili Peppers’ new album Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
“Guns N’ Roses may be wowing the world with the two-volume Use Your Illusion, but if you want to take a look at real musical/cultural influence, glance past GNR’s tattoo’d boogie to their poor LA cousins the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose new Blood Sugar Sex Magik (Warner Bros.) hit the stores this week.

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