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Dark Cloud Tsunami Relief Fund

Give me $100, and a portion might go to help someone!! My God, I'm a Hero!

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, February 02, 2005.

I, Dark Cloud, selfless martyr of God's cloth, hereby announce the emergence of Dark Cloud's Tsunami Relief Fund. For every hundred dollars you send me, you'll receive a sort of bracelet made from melted plastic beer holders, saying either Narragansett or Duff, depending. Raise the awareness of your friends and neighbors to this ignored and unknown tragedy and keep it before the world until something finally is done! Also, a digital picture of myself, clothed this time, will be sent to your email address. And I'll burn an incense stick in your name. And you'll get a five percent off coupon towards the purchase of a second copy of the Complete Works of Dark Cloud, 1968-2004.

Just one hundred dollars, you heartless bastards! I'm struggling to save lives, here!

After a slow start, the world has discovered Tidal Waves and the damage they can do and the potentially vast public relations that can emerge from attaching their hypocritical faces and unknown names to a well known event that, if you tally separate press issues, probably doesn’t need the money anymore.

Or may not need the money. Really, how much has been raised for the tsunami victims? How much, dare I ask, is too much when it begins to hurt other, smaller, but more chronic and just as awful tragedies? Darfur, for example. Of course, there are a thousand worthy charities in Africa alone. You have the feeling that nobody wants to talk about a financial goal – and some logic suggests an upper end might already have been long achieved - because it benefits so many to milk this tragedy regardless of where the money goes.

How much is too much? Especially when all the money going to tsunami relief isn’t going to central Africa. Do we want to pay for the rebuilding of infrastructure in Indonesia, a very wealthy but corrupt nation? Do we want to benefit one side or another in these religious wars? Can’t we simply give to Oxfam till there is enough food to feed the starving and homeless in the Sahara as well as the starving and homeless in Sumatra?

In any case, the gougers are out. You can buy a tsunami-relief bracelet for only two dollars, but only half heads towards the victims of the tsunami. Buy it at AwarenessDepot.com and only ten percent goes there. Timothy Noah of Slate Magazine has a piece up about this and other Awareness Bracelets that are supposed to inflict ‘awareness’ upon the public about a cause that needs public attention. I agree with Noah’s disdain, but really it’s worse than that.

This all started during the Vietnam War, when wearing POW/MIA bracelets supposedly kept public attention on those who were missing, or had deserted, or were killed and not found. Given the genuine horrors that many POW’s suffered in Vietnam, this ancillary cause could hardly be argued with. At least, here in the United States. Those who suffered the rather pointless bombing of Hanoi and elsewhere might not agree.

But as reality and many visits to a puzzled Vietnam have shown, there weren’t any more POWs in Vietnam, and what the hubbub was about was to keep attention on Vietnam Vets here. That may be a good thing, but it is always hypocritical to use the bodies of the fallen or missing to benefit one's self that mere association by uniform may not deserve. In that, the generally conservative military types have much in common with the generally liberal show biz Hollywood types who do much the same thing, including blanket condemnation of each other.

Each day another poet, musician, performance artist is dedicating the proceeds from a new CD, video, pamphlet, or installation to the Victims of the Asian Tsunami. Nobody in their right mind thinks that these efforts will produce, in aggregate, more than $4.67 in total income. And in the case of those who only set aside a portion of the proceeds, far, far less will wend its way west to the beginnings of the East. And really? What this comes down to is people are throwing their saddles across the greatest natural disaster in recent history for not only their own potential profit but for their public esteem.

It’s one thing when a good hearted fourth grader, prodded by a mother who once wanted to be in television, is shown to hold a bake sale for victims. It’s another when the mother hogs the air time of a cooperating news team. It’s one thing to give half of every performance to charity, as Harry Chapin did mostly in silence, and another for flailing careers attempting comebacks to announce they are in solidarity with Sumatra and you should buy the ticket because of it. Some of it will go to the deserving, after all.

Favors and charity are not accompanied by press releases. Those are just business deals, is all. Money for publicity.