Friday, February 27, 2009

Things I Have Learned

Blogging, cervical vertigo & zanaflex don't mix. Certainly not with Spanish red wine. Something had to give and that something was blogging.

This has been an edition of "Things I Have Learned."

Thank you.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Political Equivalent of Shooting Yourself In The Face

Stunning. We just watched Bobby Jindal obliterate his Presidential aspirations. Yes, Obama is a hard act to follow. But, Bobbeh blew it big time.

Gov. Jindal reached for ballsy and ended up clutching stupid. That sing-song delivery immediately telegraphed amateur hour. Sure, he didn't know exactly what Obama's speech would contain. But how can you hope to lead your party when you show a remarkable incapacity for anticipating the issues your opponent would raise and how he'd address them?

Before he even opened his mouth Jindal made that one colossal mistake. Slavishly crafting his party's response entirely from weary talking points & thoroughly discredited GOP-fabricated myths rather than by direct, honest challenges to the President's stated positions, revealed Jindal's political immaturity. It was piss-poor strategy.

Someday GOPers will realize strict adherence to the traditional condescending/tone-deaf/out-of-touch/scaremongering Republican modus operandi is a major tactical handicap. Today was not that day. All Bobby could muster was the same tired old story, the same sad old song and dance.

The "substance" of Jindal's speech was painful & embarrassing. Blunders abounded. Jindal's attempt to turn George Bush's (R) Katrina response into a negative for Obama!?!?! Wow, that's plain crazy. Americans can do anything? Hate to tell ya the Prez has claimed that line, sez it better & tonight told us how his administration will facilitate it. Irresponsible Congressional Democratic leaders? With the GOP's recent record I'd ixnay that subject. StimPakTM cash supposedly budgeted for a magnetic Vegas to Disneyland train? Not true, Bobby. It's not in there. It doesn't fucking exist!

Healthcare? Bobby told us the GOP doesn't want anyone to lose it. Duh. Then why refuse to allow everybody to get it? Gas price paranoia? C'mon, you gotta do better. School vouchers over improvingour schools? A mad, terribly expensive posture benefitting a select few. Government ethics? Bobby, you're a politician (R) from LA. I'd get off that topic tout de suite. Transparency? Go to the website, silly.

Obama's gonna dismantle our defenses? You're off your rocker, Bobby. Rejection of the Pentagon's admittedly inflated budget dismantles only waste & greed. The Iraq pull-out, Army & Marine troop increases, an assured end to extravagant, impractical Cold War-style weapons systems (See: F-35 here & here or the hole in the sea we've tossed a billion dollars into AKA "littoral combat ships") and pledges honored to our service men & women -- y'know the ones Bush never kept -- will strengthen both our military and our economy too.

As odd as Gov. Jindal's performance was, I found his party's performance odder still. Republicans dropped this ball completely. Was their self-deception so complete i.e. their belief Bobby was up to the task, they didn't bother to assemble the de rigueur GOP "A" team to prep Jindal? 'Cuz if that was their "experts" at work, they need a new "A" team pronto.

And where was the GOP stagecraft we've become accustomed? It was MIA. Man, I thought these guys were the masters. How could you not bus in some friendly Republican faces for Bobby to speak at? Especially since you billed this as a peek at the new-look GOP full of bold & different ideas. Probably would have helped Jindal's delivery as well.

As a result millions watched Obama address a cheering Congress. In contrast, considerably fewer saw Jindal drone at a deserted state house to a bunch of TV cameras. The out-of-touch, amatuerish, small-time production made Bobby Jindal look small. Very small. Tiny. Rather than Presidential material, he looked more like cannon fodder.

Incredibly, the Governor, the Republican Party & everyone else involved flat-out botched tonight's launch of Bobby Jindal -- "Rising Republican Star." It's a failure made all the more embarrassing coming from the party who not all that long ago sold us George W. Bush.

**Wednesday PM: Edited for clarity. Remember, friends don't let friends post drunk.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Top Army Charity Gets 'F' for "Hoarding"

The Associated Press probed the Army Emergency Relief fund charged with helping our soldiers returning from Iraq & Afghanistan. The results are ugly:

Most charity watchdogs view 1-to-3 years of reserves as prudent, with more than that considered hoarding. Yet the American Institute of Philanthropy says AER holds enough reserves to last about 12 years at its current level of aid.

Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, said that AER collects money "very efficiently. What the shame is, is they're not doing more with it."

We're chest-deep in the worst financial crisis ever to face our nation. It's having a disproportionately negative affect on our veterans. What is the AER doing? Saving up for 2021. Fuck!

Oh and the AP also found coercion, banned incentives, promotions canceled or delayed if AER loans are not repaid and other heavy-handed tactics in play. Now this is not nearly as bad as the deeply embarrassing VA/Walter Reed fandango. But I'm nonetheless sickened the folks we trust to take care of our service men & women let them down once again.


**Update: Here's the AP story.

Politico Is All About The Politico

Steve Benen points us to this Politico story: The Obama Cabinet is a CEO black hole.

Holy shit! Call the cops! Obama hasn't surrounded himself with CEOs!

Ludicrous. If Obama had two CEO’s in his cabinet, Politico would write it's at least two too many. They’d say he's repeating the failed strategies of George Bush.

Politico will write about almost anything as long as they can do so in a way that will keep people talking about Politico. We fall for it every time.


Ron Paul Is A Dope

So are his libertarian/free market pals.

A moment ago I finished watching the latest Real Time with Bill Maher.* Like his cohorts in delusion, Paul maintains we should let the banks go bankrupt. End "corporate" welfare. Prevent passing the bailout/StimPakTM cost onto "future generations." This one I like the best -- exercise even less government oversight & regulation. In brief, blow up our whole economic model.

In a year somehow the US economy will magically right itself. The rest of the world will be either unaffected or greatly changed for the better.

Yeah, right. I won't waste time arguing this dogma's abject stupidity. However, they completely whiff on several assured major repercussions. Not the least of these is the libertarian/free marketeers operate as if forced bankruptcies of Citibank, Bank of America, etc., will be a free ride. They forget about the lil' thing called the FDIC. We've just never had to use it.

Once the banks go bankrupt, taking the money of depositors with them, the Federal Government has insured, has guaranteed, a huge chunk of our cash. FDIC is bound to pay as much as $100,000 for all deposits except retirement accounts i.e. IRAs which are insured up to $250,000. Anything over those amount is gone. Effectively removed from our economy.

Under Ron Paul's criteria is this not another form of "welfare"? Where would the money come from? Does Ron Paul believe this FDIC bill wouldn't be passed on to "future generations"?

Further proof Libertarianism is stupid and a reliably unrealistic posture. There's little or no chance their ideology will ever be employed wholesale. As such it affords them the ultimate out. It's not their fault when "it" doesn't work. When "it" does work they carp on and on about how it would work much better if only we'd only listen to them.

*Standby for a whole heap of They Said It I Repeat Its.

The Silly Cost Of Healthcare

I just received the bill for last months ill-fated hospital stay. The two-day tally for a "private" room alone was $8600. Now I'm fortunate to have health insurance. But $8600?

Yeah, I know I had nurses checking on me. They served meals -- shitty even by hospital standards. (First one was chicken. This after I alerted them I was allergic 6 hours prior). Plenty of people worked hard there and deserved to get paid. Blah Yah Blah Yak.

Still, for $8600 I could spend three weeks at the Waldorf-Astoria in a deluxe 2300 sq. ft. room and have a couple grand left over for cocktails & vittles.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

What Jindal Is Trying To Prove

Jindal's bid to be the GOP's next Presidential candidate faces many obstacles. Not the least of which is Bobbeh must overcome the simple fact he's not a Caucasian cracker like the majority of his party. (See: Pat Buchanan's latest racist rant here).

Jindal has officially rejected $90 million in StimPakTM cash. In doing so he fucked over 25,000 constituents. This goes waaay beyond pure partisan politics.

I've been rattling his strategy around in my head most of the week. There's only one way it makes sense. Closeted Republicans rail against gay rights. Some Jews in WWII covered their tracks by out-Naziing the Nazis. African-Americans who "passed" acted bigoted in the process.

One common deceitful aspect of human nature is a willingness to misrepresent ourselves as something we are not to get ahead (or at least to stay pat). In the animal kingdom, it's a pervasive survival mechanism. For humans it can be an innocuous strategy to get a date with the green-eyed beauty at the end of the bar. Or it can be an insidious, cynical power-ploy.

Here Jindal is trying to prove he can out-cracker the crackers. He wants to show he can out-cracker the competition too.

Naked, unbridled ambition is an ugly thing. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is positively dripping with it.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Mr. John Legend Applies The Smack Down

Ol' Rupe is the recipient:

Dear Editor:

I'm trying to understand what possible motivation you may have had for publishing that vile cartoon depicting the shooting of the chimpanzee that went crazy. I guess you thought it would be funny to suggest that whomever was responsible for writing the Economic Recovery legislation must have the intelligence and judgment of a deranged, violent chimpanzee, and should be shot to protect the larger community. Really?

Did it occur to you that this suggestion would imply a connection between President Barack Obama and the deranged chimpanzee? Did it occur to you that our president has been receiving death threats since early in his candidacy? Did it occur to you that blacks have historically been compared to various apes as a way of racist insult and mockery? Did you intend to invoke these painful themes when you printed the cartoon?

If that's not what you intended, then it was stupid and willfully ignorant of you not to connect these easily connectable dots. If it is what you intended, then you obviously wanted to be grossly provocative, racist and offensive to the sensibilities of most reasonable Americans. Either way, you should not have printed this cartoon, and the fact that you did is truly reprehensible. I can't imagine what possible justification you have for this. I've read your lame statement in response to the outrage you provoked. Shame on you for dodging the real issue and then using the letter as an opportunity to attack the Rev. Sharpton. This is not about Sharpton. It's about the cartoon being blatantly racist and offensive.

I believe in freedom of speech, and you have every right to print what you want. But freedom of speech still comes with responsibilities and consequences. You are responsible for printing this cartoon, and I hope you experience some real consequences for it. I'm personally boycotting your paper and won't do any interviews with any of your reporters, and I encourage all of my colleagues in the entertainment business to do so as well. I implore your advertisers to seriously reconsider their business relationships with you as well.

You should print an apology in your paper acknowledging that this cartoon was ignorant, offensive and racist and should not have been printed.

I'm well aware of our country's history of racism and violence, but I truly believe we are better than this filth. As we attempt to rise above our difficult past and look toward a better future, we don't need the New York Post to resurrect the images of Jim Crow to deride the new administration and put black folks in our place. Please feel free to criticize and honestly evaluate our new president, but do so without the incendiary images and rhetoric.


John Legend
He's not just musically talented and easy on the eyes, ladies and gentlemen, he's damn eloquent too.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

From The "What Have We Done?" Dept...

Michael Steele Thinks He's Hanging with Snoop

I'm pretty sure Michael Steele doesn't know hip from hop. Still, how long before this kinda talk starts freaking out the GOP faithful?


As If We Needed Any More Proof

Michelle Bachmann is bat shit crazy.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wow! (Part Deux)

It was pointed out to me that my shitty little blog has confounded, enraged and delighted over 15000 visitors. I do solemnly swear to do more of the first two and less of the last.


Gwen Ifill

Well-know Democratic shill.


Pure Partisanship Is Most Important

Now that it's passed, look who loves dem dat StimPak.TM

GOP governors should take a cue from their more experienced Congressional counterparts.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rising GOP Star Bobby Jindal's Mouth

Writes check his ass will will regret. This would have been a true test of Bobby Jindal's mettle. Sadly for him, he's painted himself into a corner with no good way out.

If he rejects StimPack cash, Jindal will garner praise from GOP hard-line fiscal conservative types nation-wide. However, the clash of naked Presidential ambition vs. his resposibility as governor of Louisiana will open him wide up to attacks from all other sides.

How on earth does Bobby-Boy gonna justify turning down StimPack monies? LA was already struggling mightily before our national economic crisis. So if/when he caves and accepts that sweet, sweet StimPack cash, Jindal will look like a flat-out pussy. Whatever his decision, you can count on it being used against him in the 2012 GOP Presidential debates.

A more seasoned politico would have waited to get a better read on the lay of the land before spouting off. Once he was picked to respond to Obama's address, Jindal just couldn't keep his trap shut.

**Update 02/18/09: More GOP govs whining whining over the prospect of receiving StimPakTM cash.

I'm Here

Went to Boston for mom-in-law's 87th B-Day. What a great lady.

Was going to blog today but woke up with a great fictional story idea that had to be put to paper - gotta love those trazodone dreams.

Belated thanks to VastLeft for the plug. Now if only the Correntians would grant me the power to comment at their site.


Friday, February 13, 2009

So What If A Song "Sounds" Great

It doesn't make it a great song.

In "Why That Shitty Song Sounds Good Anyway" "Auto-Tune: Why Pop Music Sounds Perfect", Time magazine discovers the evil that is Auto-Tune. Biz Markie* aside, no one wants to hear a singer massacre a great song by warbling out of tune. However, the injudicious use of Auto-Tune has literally given careers to "singers" who have no business being singers.

There's another huge reason why I'm down on Auto-Tune and similar studio gimmicktry: Imperfections or mistakes can make an OK song good, a good song great or a great song greater.

I’ve experienced this in the recording studio with bands. I’ve watched or asked musicians to do take after take of a song. Sure, by the 23rd (or 63rd) take the guitar player may have perfected his solo. Yet for some reason it frequently didn't sound nearly as good as the sloppy lead he laid down on take 3. The “perfect” take just didn’t have the same vibe. Crummy guitar solo, take 3 wound up on wax and the album was far better for it.

In pop music hits, such errors can be so subtle as to be almost subliminal. Sometimes they are in-your-face wrong. I'm not talking about the so-bad-someone-thinks-it's-kinda-good song. (See Biz Markie, Doctor Demento, etc.).

Well, you say, then what the hell are you talking about?

Off the top of my head here's these examples: "Louie Louie" wouldn't have proved nearly as inspirational to garage bands everywhere (or as interesting to everyone else) had the singer started the last verse on time instead of jumping the gun. The Mamas and The Papas “I Saw Her Again” does more or less the same thing. Hmm...too obtuse or too obscure?

OK, how’s ‘bout the backwards singing bit on The Beatles' "Rain" and that glorious opening note of "I Feel Fine"? Kurt Cobain's I-don’t-give-a-fuck-that-I’m-recording-I-feel-sick cough during "Serve The Servants"’ lead break? The majorly out-of-sync guitar intro to Dave Edmunds "I Hear You Knocking"? Whoops!

Every Picture Tells A Story”'s Rod Stewart premature vocalization? Michael Stipe’s total cock-up in REM's "Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight" vocal? (Not a great one for remembering words, I've seen Stipe sing lyrics off a music stand more than once). Parts of almost every song on Todd Rundgren’s tour de force Something/Anything? LP?** Need I say more?

Brilliant mistakes all -- definitely not what the creator(s) originally intended.***

Perhaps such timely blunders make these songs stand out simply by confounding listeners' expectations. Or it could the power of je ne sais quois. (Underestimate JNSQ at your peril). Maybe it’s some other factor your smartass writer has missed.

Regardless of the mechanism, imperfections humanize songs. For art isn't meant to be perfect. Perfect is for machines.

In our Pro Tools/Auto-Tune perfection-oriented musical world, we risk sucking the humanity out of popular music. No, Auto-Tune wouldn’t have corrected the aforementioned gaffes. (On the other hand, Pro Tools & digital technology could and probably would have). But Auto-Tune might’ve scrubbed the urgency out of Levi Stubb's classic Four Tops vocals. Damn it, there'd be no Billy Bragg!!!

I'm exaggerating. This technological leap isn’t all bad. (And there will always be Billy Braggs). Pro Tools in particular has allowed many thousands of artists to roughly simulate big time studio recordings made in their bedrooms. The problem arises when these would-be pop stars ape their heroes and suffocate the crap out of their music thru technological perfection.

That's today's style. I predict that sooner or later the trend will swing back with a vengeance. There will a backlash against Pro Tools and Auto-Tune technology. There will be music fans starving for music that sounds and feels "real." The irony about the most popular musicians to lead this charge? Some of them will be the exact same ones who early on embraced this self-same technology. (Hello U2).

My bottom line: Perfection is overrated. Embrace your mistakes. Mistakes can lead to greatness. If nothing else, they’re a helluva more interesting than processed perfection.

Vive l'erreur!


*For the life of me tha Bizter's one I'll never understand.
**Fer chrissakes, Radiohead's "Creep" was a colossal mistake.
***Not to be confused with "mistakes" certain groups now add to songs purely to make them seem cool. If you listen closely and/or know the artist well enough, you should be able to tell the difference.

Don't Bury Me 'Cuz I'm Not Dead Yet

I just feel like death. Back with a post on the evils of Auto-tune in a few hours.

Stay tuned...


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sick of It All

Sick. Sick. Sick. Been under the weather for the past few days. I'll get back to blogging tomorrow with some belated Grammy & early Obama stuff. 'Til then, NYHC heroes Sick of It All rip thru "Stepdown."


Saturday, February 7, 2009

My New Favorite Website

Simple but effective.

(My friends worked closely with them & say they are great guys. I just don't get it).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sign O' The Times

I kid you not. Come April, Blackwater will offer firearms training to professional atheletes.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Your Mind Is On Vacation..

And Your Mouth Is Working Overtime by Mose Allison.

I clipped this song to title a prior post describing Republican antics last week. Mose Allison is 81 and still touring. He's been on "The List" for years.

"The List" requires some explanation. My start in the music industry came before I got my driver's license. 30 years later I've easily been to over 1,000 gigs/shows/musical performances.

Believe you me. It's not all fun & games. Understand when you work in the "industry," you are required to endure any number of acts whether you like it or not. Certain bands, usually those you work with directly and their tour mates, you hear over & over & over again. You begin to hear them in your sleep.

After the Foresters went thru a terrible 3 years (car accident, TBI, lost bigstupidmusicbiz job, seizures , 9/11 WTC collapse (rocked our building), hospital merry-go-round et al), we fully grasped life's transitory nature. A pact was made: We'd make an extra effort to catch select musical greats for our first time before they either died or dissolved the band. iants, for some reason or other, we've just never seen live.

"The List" was born.
(All-time #1 lister Bo Diddley post w/more "List"specs)

Currently Mose Allison tops the "List". Mose first came to my attention thru The Who's ferocious, stone-cold classic cover of "Young Man Blues" off Live At Leeds. (The Who here & The Foos there). Few years later I stumbled across "Your Mind Is On Vacation." I was hooked.

I'm in good company. Mose's music influenced artists from The Rolling Stones, John Mayall, Eric Clapton, J.J. Cale, Jeff Beck & even The Pixies who paid tribute via "Allison" on Bossanova. The true tale of the tape is told by culling through Allison tunes as done by dozens of devotees...

The Yardbirds, and The Misunderstood interpreted "I'm Not Talking". The Clash laid down "Look Here" for Sandinista!). Leon Russell got "Smashed!". Elvis Costello hit "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy" (Kojak Variety) & "Your Mind Is On Vacation" (King of America Rhino re-issue bonus disc). Van Morrison released an entire album(!) Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison.

One of his songs in particular, "Parchman Farm", inspired scads of versions. As a result it's Mose's best known track. Parchman Farm, the infamous Mississippi prison, located in the county adjacent to Allison's birthplace. It looms so large in regional culture as to require elaboration.

Those once incarcerated at Parchman Farm include Elvis' dad, Stokely Carmichael, dozens of Freedom Riders. BBC doc subject Edward Earl Johnson was executed there. William Faulkner, August Wilson & John Grisham's works prominently feature the former plantation. Delta blues titans Son House (shot a guy in the leg), Bukka White (murder) and a passel of lesser bluesmen were jailed there too. White was recorded there by Alan Lomax in '39 and wrote "Parchman Farm Blues" upon his release.

For his Parchman Farm", Moses Allison's taps into his inner Faulkner. It's a chilling prisoner's story told first-person POV style . It's compelled covers by Blue Cheer, The Blues Image (of "Ride Captain Ride" fame), Blues Project, Cactus, folkster Michael Chapman, Chris Spedding, Hot Tuna, Ray Condo, Rick Derringer, Georgie Fame, The Kingston Trio, John Mayall, Johnny Winter, Bobby Gentry and others.

I just learned 81 year-old Mose Allison plays The Jazz Standard in NYC March 13, 14, 15 & 16 -- two shows each night!!!

I can't wait.

*Late Atlantic Records' producer Jerry Wexler called Mose Allison "The William Faukner of Southern Blues.""

Sunday, February 1, 2009

They Said It. I Repeat It.

"I’m sort of the Sarah Palin of orchestrators."
-Rufus Wainwright/Spectacle: Elvis Costello with...

Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... is not only the best new music show I've seen in years, it's the best new show period. It's airing now on The Sundance Channel.

I know. I know. You don't believe I can be objective re: anything Elvis. Trust me. Spectacle is really, really good.

Age, Diana Krall* and twins have mellowed Elvis Costello. It comes as no surprise Elvis is a skillful interviewer, a good listener, and well-prepped. However, what's shocked this veteran Elvis Costello watcher is E's become playful (see: A Colbert X-Mas) and **gasp** goddamn charming!

Dig Spectacle's guest list: Lou Reed, Julian Schnabel, Bill Clinton, James Taylor, Tony Bennett, The Police, Rufus Wainwright, Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash, Norah Jones, John Mellencamp, Renée Fleming, Herbie Hancock, She & Him, Jenny Lewis, Jakob Dylan, Diana Krall and Smokey Robinson!

The sole downer? Spectacle lasts a mere 13 episodes.


I'm So Bitchy About Working For Hillary

Reportedly The Rodster Gets Way Freaky At Parties.

"Non-partisan" State Dept. vet, David Rodearmel, is suing to revoke Hillary Clinton's Sec. of State appointment. He sez he can't be "forced" to work for Sec. Clinton because of a "fix" used to sidestep an archaic part of the Constitution.

What's predictably, nearly hilariously funny (at least to me) about this "fix"...drum roll please...

The Republicans Invented It!

Mad irony this. The very nub of Rod's suit, the Saxbe fix, was devised by GOP Prez. William Taft in 1909. Republicans have used it 4x: Once each by Taft (Sec. of State Philander C. Knox), Harding (Judge William S. Kenyon), Nixon (Atty. Gen. William Saxbe's post-Saturday Night Massacre nod) & Poppa Bush (Treas. Sec. Lloyd Bentsen for Bill Clinton). 1980 saw Carter tap Sec. State Ed Muskie to technically become the only Dem to hit the fix until this year.

It doesn't take a poly-sci degree to pinpoint the true motivation behind D-Rod's lawsuit. However, his cover story may originate with Reagan. Back before George W. Bush, the Judicial and the Executive Branches of our government were separate. When St. Reagan (R-Heaven) sought to appoint Orrin Hatch to The Supreme Court, Ronnie consulted the Justice Dept. Justice nixed the fix. Their opinion was "rollbacks" wouldn't appease the Ineligibility clause

On this singular point St. Ronnie (R-Heaven) seemed to effectively proclaim: "Republicans Shall Not Fuck with The Constitution!" Looks like "Rowdy" Rodearmel was the only one listening. This Reagan Justice Dept. ruling offers him the slimmest & only possible "non-partisan" pretense to contest Hillary Clinton's gig.

Just one thing doesn't quite make sense. If "Hot" Rodearmel was convinced the Saxbe manuever posed an imminent danger to our republic, why didn't he raise an objection to George Sr.'s 1993 "favor" to Bill Clinton? Inquiring minds want to know.

What you're really dying to ask is exactly where has this sexy bit of man candy been all your life? I've pitched all the boring stuff to give you the bullet points. The Rodman's State Dept. career started w/Pres. George H.W. Bush's administration. His years in the military include a USAF Academy Asst. Professor post. A Newsmeat search of his campaign contributions revealed a $250 contribution to the Swift Boaters. Perhaps worst of all, Roddy's a flat-out bald-faced liar.

Bankrolled by right wing sugardaddy Richard Mellon Scaife , it's brazenly disingenuous of Rodearmel to claim his suit is "non-partisan." The Rodster's sponsor, Judicial Watch, has waged an almost 17-year war against the Clintons filing 18 lawsuits against Pres. Bill Clinton and his peeps.

That says it all.

*Re-edited for clarity.