Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Allman Brothers Band - Statesboro Blues

It's forty-five years ago today that Dwayne Allman died. That old lack of impulse control caught up with him. Motorcycle accident.

Very bad timing, too, as though the timing in such matters could ever be said to be good. Live at the Filmore East was way up the charts, finally putting the band on the map of rock and roll. They'd had a great year, and the first real money was hitting home. Three months later, Eat a Peach was released.

Losing Dwayne was a terrible thing. He had a spark in him. Just when it was looking like his reach had outstripped his grasp, musically, he'd take a firm hold of wherever it was that he was going and shake the shit out of it. He wasn't so lucky that night on the bike (was it a Triumph? I should look that up).

I still miss him, and I don't think that I'm the only one.

RIP, Dwayne.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The speech I would like to hear from Donald Trump

Wow. What color is the sky on that planet?

The speech, of course, is from the movie The Great Dictator, delivered by auteur Charlie Chaplin. It's a great speech, for sure.

I recently commented on the Chaplin original that was posted on the Facebook. I suggested that the sentiments expressed were among those that we could all agree with. BUT . . . these days those words, liberty; tyranny; decency; democracy; help; freedom; greed; hatred; mankind; victims; progress; unnatural men; all of these words have very different meanings to different people.

We Americans have taken two sides opposite each other across a brightly colored line. One man's tyranny is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama; the other man's tyranny is Paul Ryan, and Rudolph Giuliani, and Newt Gingrich (Newt! I still can't get over that name!), and Chris Christie (or has he retired from the field?).  Within our representative government, neither side can even talk to one another. They no longer speak the same language. One side, the Democrats, does at least still give lip service to our constitutional values of cooperation and compromise. The other side, the Republicans, looks to the constitution and finds only the authority to stonewall opposition and destroy our rights and our democratic institutions. Why, the Republicans are now actively talking about destroying the Supreme Court. Who needs it! The Constitution created it, but the Cato Institute says that we can destroy it if we want to! Who are you gonna believe!?!!

Both sides, ultimately, are working for the large corporations and the super-rich, so this whole weird drama is a distraction while the lives of almost everybody go to hell in a big fucking hurry. No one at all works for the bottom 99% of us. And yeah, it might even get worse, because while most of us are losing ground in bits and pieces the entire earth could be preparing a sudden, catastrophic environmental collapse. Science, which many people don't even believe in anymore, might just kill most of us on its own motion within the next hundred years or so. Won't that be fun!

Not to worry, though. That top one percent will end up safe in orbit or something, with some robots and a few slaves to tend to their every need. Slave! Blow me! Robot! Whip me up some coc au vin! And a martini! Extra dirty! The ne plus ultra of life on earth. Who needs culture anyway?

But go ahead on, people. Vote for Donald Trump. Hell, vote for that fool Gary Johnson. Or Jill Stein. Go ahead! Protest with your vote! "They're all corrupt," I can hear many of you say, "I'm voting for Trump! At least he'll shake things up!" Or even better, "I'm voting for Trump," say some, "because at least with him in office the collapse of the entire system will come more quickly." Yes, my friends, anarchy has suddenly become popular with people who very recently had a much better grasp of reality. What kind of logic is that? Brexit logic, I call it. Please recall how fast the regret set in when the cousins voted to Brexit.

The world hasn't quite gotten to hell just yet, but from where we stand now, Joe DiMaggio could throw a baseball into hell without any trouble at all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

Uncommon Family Names

Some of us have family names that you just don’t see very often. And then there are some of us who have family names that you would never see at all unless you were looking. I have one of the later.

My name is Ceely. It’s not a common name however it is spelled, and spelled my way it becomes very, very rare. In fact, there are only three hundred and twelve (312) of us in the world right now.

Cool Website Alert!!! Forebearers.io   All information in this post is from this site. It’s interesting and enjoyable, and it’s easy to use. I have to go back and look up Smith, or Jones. It would also be fun to look for names that seemed common but weren’t, or vice versa.

The site also gives you a ranking of your name on the list of most common names. So, I’m thinking that Smith would be about number ten, or in the top twenty anyway. Ceely comes in at number 659,592.

There’s also a breakdown by country showing where the people with your last name live. I was somewhat surprised to discover that there are one hundred and fifty eight (158) in America. It has never seemed like that many to me. I became a lawyer in 1991, and I looked up lawyers named Ceely in the big directory. There was only one; she worked and lived in Florida. I brought the total to two.

The chart showed one Ceely living in Thailand. That would probably be me, although maybe I should check. Maybe try Facebook, “ceely Thailand.” That might work.

Further Amazement

My first wife had an unusual family name as well, Supp*. I ran Supp* through the name search and sure enough, only a total of four hundred and sixty eight (468) in the world, with two hundred and thirty one (231) in America.

So, I wondered, how many Ceelys have ever married Supp*s? That would push the coincidence way up into the stratosphere. We have two sons, and I’d have to guess that the number of people currently living on the earth whose parents consist of one Ceely and one Supp* must be very low. Would “under ten” even begin to cover it? Maybe our sons are the only ones.

Fascinating!


(And thanks, Ed, for the link to forebearers.io.) 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Who ~ Summertime Blues

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you cover a great song.

No disparagement to Eddie Cochran, none intended or even possible. Eddie's original version was state-of-the-art back in the day. Eddie could really play, and he could really sing, and he performed great songs. The Who were of an age when the general level had risen in every way, and in every way that took place on the stage, live, they were the best.

Eddie Cochran - Summertime Blues (1959) - BETTER QUALITY

The sound is not great, to say the least, but this video at least shows Eddie Cochran performing the song live. He was the real deal.

Died young, and it's a shame.

A New Kind Of Hanging Out

I copied this out of an article that was shared on Facebook: 20th Century Photos of People Holding Record Albums or something. This one spoke to me.

This was almost certainly taken in Vietnam in the late 1960s. I was in the service myself at the time, the U.S. Navy. Nothing fancy, just a deck-ape driving a pickup truck. These fellows look like they know each other pretty well, and they get along. Just knocking back a few Pabst's and Bud's, and listening to a little Brother Jack McDuff. This was pretty new stuff for the times. I don't have any pictures of myself, but I was in this situation many times.

I can tell you, a lot of black guys were surprised to find white guys that had interests in common with them and wanted to hang out. And a lot of white guys were surprised to find out that it was so easy to hang out with the black guys. A lot had changed after WWII, and it took some catching up with. It all seemed very natural to me, and these guys seem to have taken to it like ducks take to water. We might have been the first generation that could manage it so easily. Some of us, maybe many of us, but not all of us. I took some flack from the more reactionary white fellows, and guess who stood up for me? That's right. I remember everything, and I still appreciate it.

It's been a few steps forward and a couple of steps back since the 1960s, and I don't know if it's really any better now as far as race relations goes. Maybe a little bit better. I hope so. It's not so hard, you know. We all put our pants on one leg at a time (read: we all have jobs; families; friends; interests; bills to pay; troubles; successes). As Rodney King said so eloquently, "why can't we just get along?"

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rock Me on the Water

I was highly critical of Jackson Browne in the 1970s, and I can fall into that pattern even to this day, on occasion. Sometimes it just seems like his heart wasn't in it. Maybe . . . to me . . . I apologize if I'm asking too much.

But on so many occasions he really hit the ball so far out of the park that it was almost miraculous.

This Land is Mine

A very cute video offering a breezy version of the story of the most violently disputed territory on the earth. They're still at it, too. ISIS, anyone?

It's also true that God is usually involved in these conflicts. That's enough reason right there to just dump the whole concept of God immediately.

Words by Pat Boone! WTF!

Monday, October 17, 2016

We're Coming Out - The Replacements

This cut is more direct evidence of just whom was heavily influenced by this band.

Like I say, no criticism intended. Everybody is influenced in life, there are very few true originals, maybe only a precious few in each century. (So rest easy Kurt. You and your band did it better anyway, so your conscience is clear.)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Death Cab For Cutie - "Million Dollar Loan" [Official Video]

A very nice comment on our presidential election. Wealth and money are different things. Wealth is better.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn Extended Version

The original was the theme song for a detective TV show in 1958. This is an extended version from a retrospective LP that came out in the mid-1970s. It's a good one. It's still in my collection, somewhere.

"Baby Elephant Walk!" There are a lot of great cuts in the Mancini catalog.

I was about to descend into a spasm of self-aggrandizement, but I'll forgo the pleasure. We can share a coffee someday and I'll explain to you just how cool my friends were in the later 1970s. And by inference, of course, how cool I was. But I was overtaken by events, like all of the other young hipsters of history, and all that remains is the shadow of a man that stands before you, sharing memories.

But oh! What memories they are!

Maybe The Old Way Was Best

This year’s presidential election would challenge the patience of Job, or Saint Anthony, or even God himself, if God there be. It has certainly challenged my meager store of patience, challenged it and overmastered it, I’m afraid. It’s enough to make one rend one’s clothes. A good question is: how did we get to this point? Something has obviously gone wrong, but what was it? I got a clue recently.

I have been cursing the primary system for decades already, but in a very unfocused way. I had a feeling that the primary system was giving the Democrats candidates like Walter Mondale and Mike Dukakis, candidates that were unelectable in a general election with a strong opponent. Back in July I read an article that put it all into a nice perspective for me. It was “How American Politics Went Insane,” by Jonathan Rauch for The Atlantic Magazine.

It turns out that it’s not just the primary system; it’s a whole catalog of rules and procedures that add up to a whole new way of doing things in American politics, for everything from primaries to governing. Before the mid-1970s there was an Old Way that had been in place for over one hundred years. Then everything rapidly changed. It was all well intentioned, and if you are reminded of that old saying about the road to hell, you are very close to the truth.

The Old Way

The Old Way took place in smoke-filled rooms. There was zero transparency. The power brokers were mostly unelected. They were “middle men,” greasing the wheels of cooperation between the political parties and the houses of congress. They included:

1. Party organizations, both Federal and state;

2. Congressional committees and sub-committees in Washington; and

3. Convention delegates and bundlers.

Party organizations sought out electable candidates directly. They looked for people who would be cooperative in general and who would do as they were told. Mostly, they had to be electable.

These individuals were put forward in a party-dominated nominating process.

If they were elected, to congress, let’s say, everything that happened there went according to the same kind of smoke-filled-room process. If they played ball, they received soft money from their party; congressional seniority assured that the most cooperative members of congress became committee chairmen; playing ball would get a younger congressman appointed to a high-profile sub-committee; closed door negotiations were the norm, so there were no pesky public votes to upset the voters back home; cooperative senators and congressmen were rewarded with pork-barrel spending.

The Old Way favored electable politicians who were team players. There were compromises after a free discussion of differences. Parties could help members with personal alliances, financial contributions, promotions, political perks and endorsements. It made the politicians dependent on the parties, and it made it virtually impossible to succeed as a maverick or a rogue.

This system was eventually held to be reprehensible, but in retrospect it was a system that featured remarkable levels of cooperation. Members benefited from loyalty and got along with each other. Things got done.

“Parties, machines and hacks may not have been pretty, but they did their job—so well that the country forgot why it needed them.” (Rauch) Their job was insuring stability, centrism and compromise.

The New Way

Then came the big reform movements of the 1970s.

The old party-driven nominating process was replaced by primaries.

Congressional seniority and the committee system were simplified and made more transparent.

Soft-money was eliminated and campaign finance rules caused the money in politics to become privatized and chaotic.

Budget appropriations became more transparent and pork-barrel spending was almost eliminated.

By now we have more mavericks and rogues in American politics than we have of team players. Parties can’t help members anymore, and members no longer benefit from loyalty. Most of the members of our present congress are incapable of cooperating even with members of their own parties, and many of them are afraid of primary challenges from their own party. Cooperation is impossible, and compromise is a dirty word. Where compromise had been necessary for career purposes, by now it is just the opposite. All sides have thoroughly demonized the others, and any compromise with demons will get you unelected in a hurry.

This year we have seen two individuals wade into the nominating process unbidden and unwelcomed. This was the nominating process for the presidency, no less. Each of the major parties suffered such an intrusion. One was a very experienced politician who suddenly became a Democrat for the purpose of running in the primaries. That would be Senator Bernie Sanders, a once and future independent, who did well enough in the primaries against Hillary Clinton to put the Democratic National Committee into something of a panic.

The other one wasn’t a politician at all. That would be Donald Trump, who actually defeated a field of about twenty Republican candidates. The losers were themselves mavericks and rogues, with maybe one team player among them. (Governor Kasich, very far down in the field.)

This new way of electing our public officials has its worst effect on the congress at the Federal level. The Senate and the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., can no longer function in any meaningful way. Republicans in both houses have spent the last eight years with only one desperate goal: to obstruct and block anything that the elected president tries to do. That’s it in a nutshell. Nothing else is important, no wish-list, not wanting to help anyone in particular (unless you count corporations and the super-rich). Just make the president look bad. Those are the kind of people that the New Way has given us. 

I’d give serious thought to returning to the Old Way as soon as possible, if it were possible, that is. History can’t be unwound like an electric motor. But something must be done to restore our ability to get things done, politically and economically. Whatever forms that restoration should take, we should look closely at the way things were done back when compromise was desirable, loyalty was rewarded, and the business of the people came first in the minds of politicians (more or less).

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Franz Ferdinand - Leaving My Old Life Behind (Late Night Tales Cover Ver...

When life is long, we have time to fill in a lot of blanks, time to discover some of the things that we missed the first time around.

This is a Franz Ferdinand cover of a Jonathan Halper song from the 1960s. I never heard the original back then. The video content is from a Kenneth Anger movie, Puce Moment, made in 1949. The original soundtrack was by Verdi; the Halper song was substituted in 1968.

You should all go and watch the entire movie with the Halper soundtrack, I mean it's only six minutes of your time. Kenneth Anger is pretty remarkable. Scorpio Rising is a jaw-dropping reminder that Quentin Tarantino didn't just rise out of the ocean fully formed on a seashell. I'll be working my way through the Anger catalog (I do like the sound of that, and yes, Anger is a gig name).  

The Best of Sacred Steel TV - April 15, 2016

I'm dedicating this one to the late, great king of Thailand, King Bumibol (boo-mee-pon). He reigned for seventy years, and he did a great job, too. He was a good man, a good father, a great king and a hard worker. He helped a lot of people, and he was always modest and dignified about it.

He died today after a long, vague illness. I miss him already.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

X The Hungry Wolf

I just saw that someone had shared some bullshit wolf song on their, my, Facebook feed.

This one by X, I think, has some real wolf in it. Maybe the 1980s weren't as bad as I usually believe them to be.


Monday, October 10, 2016

THE REPLACEMENTS - I Will Dare

I missed these guys entirely in the early 1980s. Too bad, really, they're a great band. This is from the LP "Let It Be," which is front to back just damn entertaining.

In retrospective mode, these guys were very influential. There are echos of it in this song, and a lot more on the Let It Be album. Have some fun! Give it all a listen and see what you come up with.

All music comes from somewhere. As I have said many times, the only secret is borrowing from good sources and adding your own fascinating twist to it. Do that and your conscience is clear. Steal away!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Jam - In The City

The below raises the issue of the "Who copy band." Many British bands in the later 1960s and 1970s took a lot of the spirit and substance of the Who as the core of their own sounds. Some of those bands were terrific in their own right.

Like the Jam, for instance. This song is a classic example of the Jam channeling the Who.

LES FLEUR DE LYS - Circles

Also British; also 1966. Very interesting cover of a good Who song.

Comment-leavers of the "better than" school suggest that the guitar player hereon cuts Pete, but all of that judgmentizing is silly. This is a very nice, respectful cover, plain and simple. An interesting take on a good song. A credit to both bands!

Circles (Instant Party) - The Who

Searching this song on YouTube is a bit of a challenge. There are many different performances by the Who, live and studio, various lengths, two different names. This one sounds good.

It's the Who at the height of their powers, early on, 1965 or 1966.

I think there's a better version out there. My own records are not handy anymore, and will probably never be again, so I can't check the original mono LPs and 45s.

Anyway, it's here as an original/cover pair.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Last Boat Ride

My passport is expiring soon, and today I had an appointment to go to the American Embassy to renew it. All of the available appointments are early, so there’s no opportunity to schedule one in times of less traffic congestion. This can be a source of anxiety for Bangkok residents.

My appointment was for 8:45 am. They’ll let you in if you arrive within a half hour of the appointment time. Before that, you must stand outside. There is no comfortable alternative. The Embassy is located in central Bangkok, and I live on the other side of the nightmare eye of the traffic hurricane that surrounds us every day. No, that’s not a good metaphor; the eye of a hurricane is calm. The “eye” of this nightmare is gridlocked.

I gave a lot of thought to my travel plans. There’s no way to accurately predict travel time, so I tried to build in a pause for coffee when I was almost there. I decided to leave by 7:00 am to beat the worst of the traffic.

No need for suspense; I got there on time.

I walked out to the soi at about 6:45 am and I was lucky enough to get a taxi right away. If you want to go into the deep traffic, you are expected to ask the taxi driver if he feels like going there. The first fellow that passed by was gracious enough to say yes.

All the way to the Embassy was too much to ask, so I took the cab to the closest stop on the Sky Train. The traffic was heavy, but we got there within a half hour. I took the Sky Train for five stops and arrived at the head of the Embassy’s street at 7:45 am. The trains were crowded enough to remind me of the old Lexington Avenue line at rush hour in New York. Like the Lex, I had to wait until the third train that reached the station before I could actually board it, and the train itself was densely packed. It had only taken an hour to get to my planned coffee stop, and there was a nice place handy to take a break in. Twenty minutes of calm. When the time came, I walked around the corner and took a taxi motorcycle down to the Embassy.

The Embassy in Bangkok is interesting. Everyone seems to be very nice; they even seem to be in a good mood almost all of the time. Things usually go well, and they went very well today. It was smiles all around. I was out by 9:00 am.

My first idea was to try to get a taxi to take me all the way home. When they heard the destination, however, three cab drivers in a row just made a face and said, no way, too much traffic jam. I flagged a taxi motorcycle and asked him to take me back to the Sky Train station. Along the way we had a lovely shouted conversation in Thai and he advised me to take the boat. “No traffic jam.” He could take me to the boat, too, for only double the usual fare. (One dollar instead of fifty cents.) I gave him a small tip and he took off his surgical mask so that he could smile at me and say thanks. That’s Thailand.

The boat was a lot more of an adventure than I had remembered. I’ve ridden the canal taxis many times, but it’s been three years since the last time. Two fellows that were also waiting had a great time teasing me about this and that. They were friendly about it, though, making sure that I knew where I was going and which direction to take the boat. (The boats going in either direction stop at the same pier, which may be on one side of the canal or the other.)

The first boat stopped, well no, it didn’t really stop. Usually they stop and a boatman jumps off with a rope and ties the boat against the pier at the front. Then the driver reverses the engines, which drives the back of the boat into the pier against the pull of the rope. This guy today just idled the boat along for about fifteen feet, about a foot from the pier. The other two men jumped on, but that was more Jackie Chan that I have in me. I waited for the next boat.

I got on the next one with some awkwardness but no real danger. That boat made a more conventional stop. I took a seat and paid my sixteen baht (forty-five cents). The ride lasted about twenty-five minutes, and the levels of vibration and noxious fumes were incredible. I mean that literally, as in, “hard to believe.” I thought that I would lose a filling. These are very long, narrow boats that are driven by big, mostly Volvo marine diesel engines. The vibration was so great that my entire skull was in a sympathetic vibration. Due to the shaking, my eyes would not focus properly.  When I got off at the stop closest to my condo I said a silent prayer.

The last part of the journey was a longish walk, back a ways to the nearest bridge, then up the other side of the canal, and then up into my neighborhood. I was in enough of a lather when I got home that I stood in a cool shower for ten minutes. By this three part route, I got home in about one hour.

I’m not complaining, mind you, well maybe about the boat’s vibrations. We are in our rainy season, and it didn’t rain a drop through the entire adventure. Rain makes everything exponentially worse, and if there are flash floods from the tropical rain you can sit in essentially the same place for hours. I always try to recognize and appreciate good luck.

A last word on American Embassies in foreign countries: they’re not all the same, either in tone or in execution. The only other one that I had occasion to deal with was the Embassy in Singapore. Singapore is not a friendly place to begin with, and the Embassy felt like spending a weekend at Gestapo headquarters. I needed help, too, and boy, did I not get it. And I was in the Peace Corps at the time, which made me an employee of the Federal Government of the United States, with a GS rating and two ID cards and everything. It’s a long story, so I won’t tell it here, but I was very glad that day to be the lucky man that I am. I managed to extricate myself from a shaky situation by reason and good fortune, with hardly a dollar left in my pocket. No thanks to the American Embassy in Singapore. I laugh when they try to push Singapore as a travel destination. Why anyone would want to go to that mean-spirited police state is beyond me. The employees at the Embassy there, both local hires and American citizens, are way into the mean-spirited thing, too.

Adventure CAN be fun; returning home is ALWAYS fun. 

Ah! It’s starting to rain!