It's a conspiracy
On the rubbish Labour Weekend just gone, Vinny Eastwood was standing on a skinny road divider at a big intersection in Hamilton. He had a megaphone and a video camera and a message. He's a star in the conspiracy movement and the organisers of the chemtrail protest invited him here.
Good choice. He's easily the most energised. The camera shows the action from his perspective. A nonstop tumble of words avalanche out from behind it, down precarious perches to slippery roads and over the blank faces of locals tucked up in their cars. There are maybe five helpers in the messy sleet, wearing face masks and carrying banners. A policeman comes for a look and Vinny videos him. The cop appears to be about 16. Vinny tells him about the protest and then, in the urgent kind of segue that is common among this crowd (the conspiracies are many, time is short) starts informing on the offences of fluoride. The cop's young except for his eyes. They look 40 and then bored as he realises there's no crime here, or, maybe, not one small enough for him to be able to stop.
The case is a difficult one. The chemtrails idea is that the contrails from many jets are not water vapour or wing-tip vortices but instead chemicals. Sprayed for some unknown purpose by persons unknown. The evidence appears to be, primarily, that jet "contrails" last a lot longer these days, often stretching from horizon to horizon and eventually spreading out to cover the sky. "Researchers" say soil testing has shown dangerously elevated levels of aluminum and barium under the trails. Debunkers have answers - contrails are the same as always, the testing is badly flawed and misrepresented.
There are videos online from both sides. Maybe thousands. The best open with slow-motion shots of high-flying jets contrailing. At extreme zoom, this is a spooky, ethereal sight, often made more so by a discordant conspiracy-music soundtrack.
But even forgetting which scientist says what, it has two big problems. Five thousand people, minimum, would have to keep their mouths shut. And its indiscriminate nature means the people behind it would also be breathing its poison. Vinny bats the excuses away. Those involved with filling and spraying would be working in compartments, not being able to recognise their little job is part of a big-picture operation. Those involved in organising it higher up would be complicit and bound by penalty clauses. To him the elites subject to the spray are no longer human or rational in a way that we would recognise. A class of suited, Lamborghini-driving psychopaths driven mad by limitless money and leisure and specially protected by their access to way better healthcare.
Eastwood has a remarkably open and free personality. Born in Mt Albert and raised on Waiheke Island, he was 19 when he was arrested in 2004 with 13 grams of bud at his student flat in Dunedin. He got 300 hours of community service and an education. "I took two lessons from that: The police lie and the legal system doesn't make sense." Those lessons percolated for a couple of years. Radicalisation, he observes, often happens after some trauma. He still became a salesman, where he learned to talk and manipulate and sway people. He was pretty good at it, but there was a problem. "I realised I was the only one with a conscience. I was sabotaged." In 2008, the company offered him $6000 if he would leave within the next five minutes.
When the money ran out, the financial pressure came on and he got depressed. He developed what he describes as "employer phobia" - a fear of being employed. This raises eyebrows, but he insists it's a real thing. "It was a panic attack. I went for an interview and had shortness of breath and my legs started coming out from under me. I was sweating and very uncomfortable.
"I knew I didn't want to work for someone else, I wanted to work with people," he says. He had intuited that both being under arrest and working for someone else was a form of slavery.
Just recently there were very hard times. His girlfriend - who leaves early in the morning for work - told him he had to get a job. He arranged an interview but suffered a panic attack the night before.
Just in time things got better. Through the protesting network he'd got spots on Radio Waatea and produced his own YouTube channel. It was spotted by the producers of a thing called American Freedom Radio, who recruited him about six months ago. He does a show, two hours five days a week, 5-7pm US Central time, 11am to 1pm in New Zealand. Live radio and a simultaneous video feed on a webcast. It leaves him with about $50 to spend after it pays the rent on the basement flat the couple share in Glen Eden. People give him stuff - cigarettes and food and computers. He's looking for more, though. "I couldn't have done it without my girlfriend." He wants to be able to support them so she doesn't have to work.
His show is subtitled The Lighter Side of Genocide. It's a good rhyme and a good concept. Almost everyone flirts with a conspiracy theory, though usually just one. People with jobs, responsibility and families will tell you in conversational tones that parts of 9/11 may have been caused by missiles and that there might be something suspicious on the far side of the moon. It's like Trade Me for conspiracies. Vinny and AFR can be intensely interesting to all of the people some of the time. And he likes a laugh.
"I may be getting exterminated, but it doesn't mean I can't have a sense of humour about it."
There are radical fora on Triangle TV and other webcasts, but they're not for him. "They have the host and the false Left and false Right guest." Vinny thinks they are just different heads of the same hydra. "They will never invite me on." Freedom Radio thinks it has 100,000 listeners a day at some point. There is a rolling bar on the AFR site showing who has come online in the last five minutes. Thirty-five have shown up in the last segment. It shows addresses from all around the world. Someone is hearing this in Lower Hutt.
Vinny starts his intro, the show beaming live from the "Sunny slave South Pacific".
Today's guest on the phone is Richard "Rick" Miller, a former trainer of navy Seals.
Except he's not there. Vinny has to riff for a full seven minutes while the producers track Rick down. This is hard, but not for Vinny. With no warning, he fills the air (the conspiracies are legion and provide endless talk).
Vinny's not trained in radio and it shows. He fluffs and mumbles, he's indistinct and too loud by turns. But there is a raw energy and showmanship that, cleaned up and disciplined, could make him conspiracy radio's Martin Devlin.
He tells a joke. "Paradox? I thought that was a half-bird, half oxen created by Monsanto" It is a joke and not a conspiracy theory. But you wonder if some who are listening get that.
Richard Miller turns up and the conversation starts.
It turns out that Miller thinks some things that many would consider strange.
-Four-foot dandelions grow in Hawaii and people are getting sick from the (suppressed) spread of radiation from Japan's stricken reactors.
- Caesium in San Francisco's milk is 100 per cent above Environmental Protection Authority levels.
- He made particles go faster than the speed of light (if I'm hearing that correctly) in his junior year in high school.
- The US detonated a nuclear weapon on Mars in 1967.
- Followed by a manned mission in 1968.
- The prime directive of the New World Order is that there are too many people and half of us have to die.
- He has proved that 9/11 was a US government-run operation.
But he also thinks some interesting things:
- That gardening should be a competitive sport.
And other things that make a good point:
- That food should not be monetised.
The idea that financial speculation on food stocks is both immoral and dangerous is a real issue discussed by serious people in the real world - so much so that such crazed radicals as Germany's Deutsche Bank say they're not going to do it any more.
This is not suppressed, but it is not discussed widely in the Mainstream Media (MSM in conspiracy-speak). The reasons are probably banal, but Vinny and many others think we hide stuff. Vinny's producer, Mitch Santell, turns up and opens a beer. The Californian has been here five years. He says the MSM won't tell you things they will - for instance, that vaccines are dangerous. He doesn't vaccinate his kids. Mitch says chemtrails began in New Zealand not long after he got here in 2008. He has noticed definite changes in the weather. He says alternative media will eventually replace the MSM. This could be his best theory.
Putting aside the content of the show, there are things going on in Vinny's home that could probably only happen in a semiprofessional and fully ideologically committed media. The flat is the same as 200 others in this suburb. A poster condemning the current prime minister, a Swiss ball, the modesty of old couches covered by feminine coverlets. There's unknown art on the wall and worn flatware on its third life. A scene unchanged for most cool young Westie couples since the 1970s. The two beautiful and monster-sized silver Macs in the flat are the only thing different and they are revolutionary. They mean, with the addition of a $100 Repco garage light, that from nowhere central Vinny can broadcast what is essentially a TV show to a potential audience of everyone in the world.
Vinny and his guest talk to callers on a multichannel Skype feed for an hour after the show. He writes and videos and records and then puts it all on one page. His business model involves donations and subscriptions as well as paid ads. A lot has been said in polished corporate boardrooms about this being the future for media. But it's the part-time skint guy in bare feet with no media training (who believes the sky is falling) who is doing it right now. The medium might be the show's biggest message.
Mitch is the product of an old Hollywood family, brought up on showbiz and its politics. He's an experienced radio hand and talks assuredly about the ins and outs of who's going where in US conspiracy radio and why that's a mistake. Exposing the inner workings of the world is, a little ironically, big business.
The top dog worldwide is probably Infowar's Alex Jones, whose viewers and listeners and watchers across his multimedia empire stretch into the tens of millions. George Noory posts similar numbers with his older, more radio-focused audience. The "truthers", as Mitch calls them, also claim madcap Russian TV host Max Keiser (seen here on Sky), who regularly talks to people on shaky internet connections from the basements of occupied Amerikkka. There's a question I know the pair will not be able to answer. A beautiful post-modern killer app that will warp their twisted minds straight. Why am I, a sucker on the Fairfax tentacle of the MSM octopus, sitting here now saying this? Why am I providing them the air of publicity? Shouldn't I be busy maintaining the necessary illusions that keep the sheep tame? Vinny says he checked me out (someone actually has been ringing around) and - in summary - I brook no controls over my wandering. A wild thing, hunting in the jungle of lies for the truth that is my only sustenance. Which is a nice thing to say and proves he was a good salesman, but more aspirational than accurate. I get an insight, too - a conspiracy theory (as opposed to an actual conspiracy or the harmful reaction to a supposed conspiracy) is a lot of fun. Like telling a ghost story. Especially if you are supposed to be on the inside of it. The temptation to stir the pot and encourage with false evidence is almost overwhelming. The truth is, however, that everyone up and down the MSM control apparatus is very interested in what he is about.
Vinny doesn't believe every conspiracy theory: the fluoride thing, yes, because he's seen the science. But a caller accused him of causing a tornado on the North Shore by not accepting Jesus as his saviour. He doesn't believe that. He does think all conspiracies - his word - tie into each other somehow. Thus the JFK shooting is related to the fluoride issue in some way currently unclear. But all in the family are not equal. It has its black sheep. "Conspiracy theorists can become very lonely. Some withdraw from society after they try to convince their family and friends and get rejected. Some become nuts and believe all they hear," says Vinny. The pair don't roll that way. They snort derision at the dude who seriously claims actress Tina Fey, politician Sarah Palin and a third woman are actually the same person. Based on measurements of their ear lobes.
Ridiculous and we all laugh together, at last. "That guy's f. . .king crazy," says Vinny.
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