Smart Ass. By Terry Messman.

How America Kicked Ass of Smart Ass John Bird.
By Terry Messman in the US.
Edited & Comments
By Uncle Monty in the UK.
Part-2 of 2.
At the Seattle, USA, founding convention of the
North America Street Newspaper Association
Big Issue representative Ruth Turner told the assembled
street paper editors of “The Big Secret of Big Business.”
"There is so much money, money, money available from
advertising," Turner said with great relish. "It's money for
nothing." It was a revealing self-portrait of an acquisitive
corporation ruled by the profit motives of Big Business.
For although The Big Issue (in the UK) is sold by
homeless people, in truth it is a multinational corporation
that cultivates advertising more than it fosters activism.
As we saw in Los Angeles, it is more likely to emulate the
hostile take-over strategy of big corporations than to
demonstrate the kind of mutual support and solidarity
that must be the hallmarks of the homeless movement.
Founded and funded by the Body Shop corporation, The
Big Issue (in late 1990’s) launched a major bid to take over
the large "market" for street newspapers it perceives in Los
Angeles, arrogantly shouldering aside existing street
paper, “Making Change”, produced by the Jennafer (neé
Waggoner) Yellowhorse, a homeless woman and
dedicated nonviolent activist.

By Jennafer (neé Waggoner) Yellowhorse.
The Big Issue is charged by her with violating the Charter
of the International Network of Street Papers (INSP)
prohibits members from staging hostile or competi-
tive infringements on another street paper's territory.
She wrote to Big Issue Editor/Publisher John Bird: "Does
not your INSP Charter state a member will not invade
the established selling area of an existing charter member?
My paper is a member of NASNA. NASNA is a member
of the INSP. This means "Making Change" is an INSP
member whose territory you are violating. How can
we not see your moves and your motives as hostile?"
By ignoring its own INSP Charter, The Big Issue has
triggered deep resentment in some homeless
advocacy circles. NASNA's Executive Committee met
after Jennafer Yellowhorse’s strong stand and agreed
that it was "unanimously opposed to The Big Issue setting
up in Los Angeles." The NASNA body discussed ways of
"turning up the heat on the Big Issue," including "mobili-
zing allies in the global street paper movement to register
protest, arranging a picket of their London headquarters,
and registering complaints with their major funders." The
Executive Board of the National Coalition for the Homeless
also approved a resolution opposing The Big Issue's actions.
Robert Norse: A Dedicated and Fercious Foe of
The Big Issue Much Like Uncle Monty Now Is ...
The Big Issue Editor Bird wrote to NASNA that he was
"very disturbed" by its opposition to his Los Angeles
venture, and quickly reached for legal muscle to protect
his business interests. Bird wrote: "It would seem that
we have so outraged NASNA that we are now threatened
by you. I am not sure of the legality - or otherwise - of
your threats (to protest the Big Issue), but I shall cer-
tainly be taking legal advice as to whether you are
within the law to make such threats.
"Uh oh! Big Lawyers! Big Trouble! Big Legal Bills! Big
Business As Usual!. The fight between The Big Issue and
its small opponent is hardly a fair one. It is an unseemly
spectacle to have such a large, well-funded company run-
ning roughshod over a homeless woman who puts out a
grass-roots newspaper with next to no funding, no ad-
vertising, and no corporate deep pockets to draw on.
The Big Issue, on the other hand, is a multi-million-
dollar corporation founded and funded by The
Body Shop in London in 1991.
This is not the first time The Big Issue has tried to seize
the market in a U.S. city. It made similar unsettling moves
in San Francisco in 1994 and New York in 1997. Paul Boden,
director of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, told
the London paper in no uncertain terms that he would con-
sider any attempt to set up a Big Issue clone in the Bay Area
an unacceptable attack on the Coalition's STREET SHEET.
In New York, the Big Issue was planning on driving the
"Street News" out of business, an especially cold-blooded
proposition considering that Bird acknowledges getting the
idea for his paper from the New York street paper.
An Ex-Big Issue Vendor Clasps Hands W/Uncle Monty.
NASNA Chair Tim Harris attended the General Assembly
of the International Network of Street Papers in London in
1996. In an article about the conference, Harris reported
the thinking behind the Big Issue's cravingto grab The
Big Apple." Bird claimed that New York's "Street News"
which has inspired The Big Issue and numerous other
papers since it began in 1989, is on the verge of complete
failure because the paper is 'unreadable.' The New York
paper has, in recent years, focused editorially on poverty
issues, but has been racked by internal difficulties. While
no formal announcement was made, several lower-level
Big Issue staff confirmed rumors that The Big Issue
plans to begin a competing paper in New York, probably
before the summer of 1997."
To my ears, this strategy sounds similar to a vulture
carefully keeping a death watch on the weakest animal
in the herd, but in the world ofventure capitalism such
behavior is all too often the norm. Gordon Roddick,
chairman of The Body Shop and co-founder of The Big
Issue, reportedly held talks with Bird about funding a
competing paper in New York in October, 1997, with
moves into Los Angeles and San Francisco to follow.
The New York attempt was thwarted, but the move
into LosAngeles, alas, proceeded. Because of these
repellent machinations, I personally will never again
buy anything from The Body Shop. I join "Street
Sheet" editor Paul Boden'scall for people to refuse on
principle to purchase The Big Issue. The paper and its
corporate backer must be held accountable for this
Machiavellian marketing strategy.

The Big Issue identified the largest market where they
perceived some weakness in an existing street paper,
and went after it in a nill-disguised takeover bid. New
York City was the largest market with a seemingly
weak paper. But the prediction of the impending demise
of the New York "Street News" was premature. The Big
Issue ran headlong into the steadfast fighting spirit of
"Street News" editor Indio Washington. The result?
"Street News" is still going strong, so Bird took the
traveling, colonizing roadshow to the West Coast, where
Los Angeles beckoned with the second largest media mar-
ket in the country, and only atiny street paper edited
by Jennafer Yellowhorse in the way. A push-over.
Coming Soon: Uncle Monty's "So How Did John Bird
Enter The US With A Criminal Record?" Good Question!
But Jennafer Yellowhorse is a dedicated activist who stands
up for the human rights of homeless people, and has been
arrested for her principled acts of civil disobedience, most
recently for occupying the vacant Flamingo Motel. Her
paper, “Making Change”, is born out of the struggles of
homeless people in Santa Monica and Los Angeles. The Big
Issue is born out of a London-based corporation's grandiose
ambitions to colonize new territories to further the expan-
sionist drive of a paper "empire." Yellowhorse’s paper,
and her entire activist life, is based on advancing the
human rights of homeless people and conducting the
kind of hard-hitting reporting on justice issues practiced
by most North American homeless advocacy papers.
The Big Issue, on the other hand, is a paper that, as Bird
himself wrote in a letter to NASNA , has "an editorial balance
of 20% social matters and 80% general interest." This means
that by his own estimate, The Big Issue consists dispro-
portionately of entertainment fluff, rock star bios and
celebrity coverage. Add in all the column inches devoted
to advertising, and a true picture emerges of where
The Big Issue's heart is - and isn't. They concocted their
"editorial balance" as shrewdly as they crafted their move
into Los Angeles. Infotainment sells, and bland editorial
content doesn't offend advertisers or challenge the public
with too much hard-hitting reporting about "difficult"
A Manipulative Big Issue Badged Vendor
Cajoles Celebrity To Give Him More of
What She's Already Given him ...
USA Today and People Magazine also feature entertain-
ment journalism and eschew outspoken political advocacy,
but they do not promote themselves as a street newspaper,
nor do they compete with grass-roots homeless papers, nor
try to knock them out of business. In his article about the
INSP conference, Harris reported that Bird said he was
committed to spreading his paper's model of "general interest
entertainment journalism and corporate support," and that
the major function of street newspapers is to be a "business."
"The Big Issue is not a homeless paper," Bird said. "It never
has and never will be. It is a paper sold by homeless people.
While we have a ghetto in the paper for the homeless called
'Streetlights,' we want to break people out of that." It is in-
sufferably demeaning for Bird to dismiss the one part of his
paper where homeless people express themselves as a
"ghetto" that they must break out of - presumably so they
can write about more commercial subjects such as Mad-
onna, Oasis, or people addicted to playing The Lottery.
There is an urgent need for the kind of passionate,
politically committed journalism practiced by "Making
Change" and many North American street papers. The
real threat posed by The Big Issue is that with its big
budget and big corporate backing, it will engulf and
devour smaller papers and replace their crusading re-
porting with its dumbed-down entertainment journal-
ism (and its 20% reporting on what Bird blandly
calls "social matters").
The most important goal of homeless newspapers is not
to attract more advertising revenue but to fearlessly
tell the truth about the injustices suffered by poor people
and to build a movement to safeguard basic human rights.
A street paper with a conscience must join in solidarity
struggles with the homeless community and promote
activist campaigns to win decent housing, jobs, welfare
entitlements, health care and disability rights. In his
letter to NASNA , Bird also wrote: "Many of your
members will no doubt see The Big Issue as a piece
of fluff, too slick by half. I would be very surprised
if it were different. Their vision of a street paper is
totally opposite to that of The Big Issue as it is
represented in its UK incarnation."
"A piece of fluff, too slick by half." Finally we can
agree on something. And don’t forget: THE BIG
- F I N I S -
John Bird's magazine was a revolutionary and profitable
antidote to homelessness. But an LA launch has gone awry,
there are problems in London and, a former editor argues,
even its founding aims are open to question.
By Joanne Mallabar.
TBI's Los Angeles launch has thrown up accusations that
the company is operating like some acquisitive multi-national.
"If it were just about selling a product, we could have vendors
out there shifting toothpaste or detergent," says Jennifer
Waggoner, of the LA-based street paper "Making Change."
"Which is more important: sales or social justice?" One
way forward would be for TBI to re-radicalise itself: get
to grips with lobbying and campaigning; uncover the
voices and trends in street culture before they appear in
print elsewhere. Surely TBI is about providing a voice for
all the people - not just the visibly disenfranchised - who
by choice or circumstance find themselves outside
mainstream society. Unless it changes, TBI's future may
be uncertain. John Bird's sheer force of will has held to-
gether an organisation full of contradictions. If it is to
survive beyond its founding father, then TBI must con-
sider radical alternatives, beginning perhaps with a
re-examination of its aims. No one ever said it would
be easy "helping the homeless to help themselves".
Joanne Mallabar is a former editor and acting
director of The Big Issue, where she worked
for five years from 1992.
John Bird Doesn't Give A Damn What
Folkz & Hard-Hitting Critics Think or
Say About Him. All He Does Is Run To
The Bank Laughing At Them Every Day ...
Pop Goes The Weasel. By Uncle Monty.
The Cork Street Open Exhibition refers to John
Bird as “Sir John Bird, Founder of the Big Issue,
Art Enthusiast & Artist” But Bird is NOT knighted
and hopefully never will be. Therefore, he should
not be referred to as “Sir John Bird.” True, he

holds the MBE medal, but that’s about it. The Cork
Street Open Exhibtion needs to correct such mis-
information regarding Bird’s non-existant British
knighthood. Elsewhere, he is also referred to as
“Dr. John Bird,” but I don’t know how he comes to
hold such a title. Curiously, no date of birth is
given at the online bio of the soon-to-be 65 year
old Bird come next year and who was born, we
are told, at London’s Notting Hill of poor Irish
parents in 1946 and in the same year as
Bill Clinton’s birth at Hope, Arkansas.
As for John Bird's attempted invasion of
America, I am curious as to why his opponents
there never raised the serious issue of how Bird
first entered the US with that criminal record of
his. Had they done so, they may well have brought
things to a faster close at an investigation by the
then US Immigration & Naturalization Service
(INS) against Bird himself. I'll shortly have a
piece of mine about that serious issue of Bird
entering the US with his British criminal record
that usually bars such foreigners from being
granted a US visa in the first place. More
about such coming soon ...
Plus, next "The Falcon Connection" is all about
Colorado's latest scam called "In Trust Domains"
under a bogus "Arthur Simmons," whose at the
same home territory as America's poisonous cunt
of Loveland. The cunt in question is the vicious
creep and ally of The Big Issue sods Peter & John
Bird. More about "Arthur" and "The Cunt" is on
the way ... Stay turned to read all about Falcon!!
Perhaps next the Feds will be knocking quietly
on someone's door for all we know. If they do,
I shall let you all know ... for sure. They're good
themselves at kicking ass, too, are those
FBI agents! Right, cunt? And, how about you,
Arthur? I hear you also hang around Colorado
Springs much like the cunt. Yep? U bet!
Gladly written, Uncle Monty.
+20th Sunday after Trinity, 2010.
Feedback & Comments
Also: "Doing Dvořák." By Uncle Monty.
{ To Enlarge Any Image, Just Click on it! }


VIC. said...

Sirs: Dont ask me to buy The Big
Issue again after reading what I have here of the goings on across
the pond. I believed my purchases
helped the homeless. I was wrong.
It helps it seems the fat cats and
feeding birds more than the duffers
on the street. Mr. Bird should be
ashamed of his offensive tactics in
the states to push out the homeless
newspapers there. I really think it is like greedy/pushy Tesco is Big Issue. It is profits over people, you see! The philosopy should be of course homeless people over profits. Mr. Bird is now a disgrace to the homeless. Dont ask me to make any more profits for him. I will not give
a penny more to his con game
called "The Big Issue".
I'm Vic.

Timothy Onoff. said...

This is for you, and for you to share with your wife,
your children, everyone you know.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do :
The elbow is the strongest point
on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!
2. Learned this from a tourist guide. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you.
Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse.
3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you, but everybody else will.
This has saved lives.
4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit
(doing their chequebook, or making a list, etc. DON'T DO THIS!)
The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in
on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.

If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF,
Repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. A.) Be aware: look around you,
look into your car, at the passenger side floor ,
and in the back seat.
B.) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims
by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
C.) Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle,
and the passenger side... If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out.
IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)
ALWAYS take the elevator
instead of the stairs.

Anonymous said...

mate monty its me again
how are you doing.
them at tbi still got nothing
to say but bad agains t you.
whats this about 25000 quid you
got from that rich lady who gave
it to you not tbi. spare some
for me mate mont when i see
you around
got to go. email me soon.
tell me w here we can get to
meet. later //////

YouTube Dan. said...

Hello there Monty =
The story you wrote disappeared
on me. I went to print it out
about Bird getting to the States
with his criminal record. I looked
all over your blog. Still couldn't
find it again. What happened, Monty? Was the story aborted?
If you still have it, send it
to me offline. Guess you went
off to Ireland for the weekend.
For a while I lived in Dublin. Have a good one! See you when
you get back. YouTube Dan.