Friday, September 30, 2016

Happy Sad - Pizzicato Five

I miss Pizzicato Five. This is from the 1990s. It all seems like it's a world away by now.

I should ask Professor Google what's up with Maki and Yasaharu these days.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hot Tips for Wi-Fi TV

Okay, here’s a couple of tips for your wi-fi TV viewing pleasure. All up on the YouTube, with good resolution and in their entirety.

1. Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.  This is a W.C. Fields vehicle, in fact I think that it was his last. Very nice hi-resolution viewing. The film features a lot of film-in-film styling; in fact most of it is a visualization of a cold script reading in a Hollywood studio. Tons of great lines.

“You’re as funny as a cry for help.”

“I was in love with a beautiful blonde once. She drove me to drink. That’s the one thing that I am indebted to her for.”

“How could a rock dropping from a thousand feet hurt your head?”

2. Scorpio Rising. (Kenneth Anger)  Oh . . . my . . . God. I missed this one when it was new. I was around that scene, but not of that scene. It’s what we used to call an “underground movie" (made in 1964). I really can’t say what I would have made of this movie back then. I saw quite a few of the undergrounds, but honestly I preferred things like French New Wave; Ingmar Bergman; Japanese cinema in general; and screwball comedies from the 1930s.

I watched Scorpio Rising for the first time just the other night. It looked as though Quentin Tarentino made a combination TV commercial for Harley Davidson Motorcycles and Tom’s of Finland, with gratuitous references to Nazism and Devil worship, featuring a lot of that old time Rock and Roll.

Disclaimer: you will be shocked.

3. Things to Come. 1936. This is such a famous movie that you should already have pictures in your head. It’s never been easy to find, but now it’s way up on the YouTube. Looks good too, very clear.

Super-futuristic; H.G. Wells story; staring Raymond Massey and Ralph Richardson. Great story and special effects. The social commentary hits like an overhand right from Mike Tyson. It was released only a couple of months before World War II started, and the action begins just as “World War II” was starting.

Thank God almighty that the real war did not go on as long as the war in this movie. So at the time it was a cautionary tale about war, but by now it’s a cautionary tale about how things could always have been worse.

Go ahead, check these out. Man, I love wi-fi TV. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lee Dorsey - Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley

It does sound like the Meters in the back-up, doesn't it? (See Below.) Ziggy alert! Right from the get-go.

It seems like this is an Allen Toussaint song, so it's possible that he did it first. (Wow, how about those rim-shots?) Lee Dorsey, man, if he shared a song with anybody at all, they'd better watch out. First, last or in between, Lee's gonna get you.

There are some great live videos of Lee up here on the Intertubes. Look around!

Sailin' Shoes- Hey Julia- Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley: Robert Palmer

I think that Robert Palmer was a very good singer in general, but the album that this is from is really exceptional in every way. Robert himself found a new gear, and the back-up is as good as it gets. There are two drummers on the album, Ziggy Modaliste and Bernard "Pretty" Purdy! It doesn't get any better than that. The band in general is the Meters, with some assists here and there. It's all hits, all the time. I love this album.

But, the cover angle. Robert and the fellows put a new twist on the Little Feat song. I don't play that "better" game, like too many people on YouTube. They're different; I like 'em both.

Good cover of "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley," too. That's a Lee Dorsey song, isn't it? Yeah, I'm pretty sure. Might have been the Meters on his original as well!

Sailing Shoes - Little Feat

It jumped into my head today that I've been neglecting Little Feat. They must hide around some dark corner in my synapses so that I can walk on by without them coming to mind.

They're an all time favorite of mine, though. They were in heavy rotation back at the house for a long time. I saw them play a couple of times. Why, I even took my father to see them at the Roxy in L.A. one time. We had fun. He was the only old man in the room so they were sure that he was a big executive from some parent company in New York and they cleared a space for us and sat us at a table right down front. Best seats that I ever had at the Roxy!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Lookin' Good!

People tell me that I look good. Usually, this comment is phrased as, “you look great for sixty-eight!” I wonder if that’s one of those left-handed compliments, like, “you throw good, for a girl.” But really, I’ll take it, because I am actually sixty-eight-years-old. If I were only fifty-eight, I’m sure that I wouldn’t take it so well.

Most of the people who tell me this are Thai, which discounts it somewhat. Thais are unfailingly friendly and polite, and if they can think of something nice to say, they’ll say it. Sometimes they tell me, “you have a nice nose!” Back home it would be different. Americans would be more likely to think that my nose was rather too big. But big noses are popular in Thailand, so that works in my favor.

I am also bald headed, which is okay with me. I make sure that what is left of my hair is kept very short and neat with frequent haircuts. A bald uncle told me when I was a boy that frequent haircuts were a must for a bald man, or else it all looks very messy. I had teased him about saving money on haircuts. Now I also know that the opposite is true.

It is likely that I do look okay for sixty-eight. More importantly, I feel okay. My blood pressure is on the high side, but not high enough to worry the doc’s. (I was at the hospital the other day for a blood test. My reading was 143/78. I was so relieved that I almost lit up a cigarette on the spot.) I have an enlarged prostate, but what sixty-eight-year-old can say that he does not? I have a gall stone with the remarkable diameter of one centimeter, but I am assured that many people make it through life with those things and never experience any discomfort at all. I’ve always been lucky, so I’ll take my chances.

I try to think about my cholesterol as little as possible.

Being born is such a crap-shoot. I’d be surprised if many people would take the chance if the decision were theirs. “Okay, here’s the deal,” says the somebody, “either you can choose not to be born, and nothing good or bad will ever happen to you, and you’ll never know the difference,” the somebody gives a knowing smile, “or you can be born, and it might work out okay or you may be subjected to a life of confusion, pain and suffering the likes of which only God can imagine, to no purpose at all, and then die horribly and alone.”

Thank you sir, but I’ll take never-having-been-born.

But that’s just me. 

Clyde McPhatter - Chinatown - MERCURY LP 20902

Here's your daily dose of gratuitous racism.

Ching, chang, a chingalingalang!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Night Is Still Young - Pizzicato Five

Oh, excuse me. Have I shown you this one already? Well prepare yourselves mentally, because it won't be eighteen months and I'll be showing it to you again.

Great combination of a great song, great production, great video, great (and beautiful) singer. This the heaven, right here.

Brian Eno - The True Wheel

This is a cut from the album "Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy." It's a great example of Brian Eno's incredible work in the 1970s.

It starts off sounding almost like a pop song. It's pretty normal until about 2:15. After that the ground starts to shift and things start to shudder. By 3:08 things have started to fall off of shelves. At 3:55 the whole "pop" song becomes airborne. Those staccato drums remind me of my old Honda Nova Dash. Like the Dash, they sound like a steel drum band attending the wake of an exploding fireworks factory.

This album was completely remarkable in its day, and it remains completely remarkable to this very day.

Duelist [2005] • Korea

Here's a clip from the below "reviewed" movie. Pretty swirly, eh?

This clip doesn't do it justice. There's a lot more night, more snow, more blade weapons. And I'm pretty sure that the dialog is snappy. If there are any Korean readers out there, perhaps you could tell me about that. I've only seen the movie in Korean with Thai subtitles, and I read Thai much to slowly to keep up with subtitles.

Spin Easy Time!: Movie Review: The Duelist (Korean, 2007?)

I'm pretty sure that this is the best movie "review" that I've ever written. I just came across it by accident, and I just had to share it again.

Spin Easy Time!: Movie Review: The Duelist (Korean, 2007?): Lee Myung -Se; Director, Producer, Production Designer, Writer. Cool movie alert! We stylin ’ now, baby. Think of Francis Ford Coppola’...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Down in Mexico by The Coasters

It is possible to like or to dislike Quentin Tarantino as a director, but whatever you think about his movies, the man has a good ear for that old time Rock and Roll.

hide and rosanna - white waves(Rare Japanese-Brazilian Fusion 'n Soul Gr...

I love Japanese music; I love Brazilian music; I know that there are many Japanese in Brazil. So it was natural to Google "japanese brazilian music."

This just came up. This act has been defunct for over forty years, and they were always pretty obscure. Isn't it amazing the stuff you can listen to, and find out about, on our modern Intertubes?

Rosanna Zambon is Italian. She made it to Japan as a singer in the late 1960s. She hooked up with Hide Demon as a duet and they made records like this in the early 1970s. They also got married and had two children. Thereupon Hide died, on the young side.

Rosanna went on to host a Japanese TV show about Italian food.

If I had never heard this song, I wouldn't really miss it. But there's enough life affirmation in that story to make the entire enterprise worthwhile.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

John Waters - No Smoking

Looking around on YouTube for something to watch tonight . . . found something to share instead.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Road To Happiness

Man does not live by bread alone. Food is certainly a critical need, as is sleep, but that’s not enough. Rather than merely existing, man lives also by entertainment, intoxication and sex. It’s a very rare man that does not require at least two of those three things on a regular basis to be happy. Which of the three, or all of them, varies from man to man. This is true for the male half of mankind anyway. I don’t know any more about women than does the average man, which is to say, almost nothing.

Individual men may require additional things in order to be truly contented. I don’t think that I could have been as happy as I was without the opportunity to raise children. I say, “as happy as I was . . .” All men experience happiness in different measure. Was I successful? That jury is still out. I did the best that I could. Raising children made it all seem worthwhile, the whole life-on-earth thing. That was a big help.

Some men have interests that absorb them completely, interests that may seem strange to other men. Several men that I have met were all up in a fever about railroad trains. Some men feel compelled to collect tens of thousands of a particular item. These may be record albums or old books of matches; the list of things that men will collect is endless. The people who are subject to these compulsions are usually men. Women seem to be more practical about things in general.

One exception would be religion. Many men, and many women, are seized by religion with a vigor that seems almost dangerous. I’m not sure that I have ever noticed that seizure to produce any genuine happiness. Often it produces the opposite effect.

I think that it is best to try to avoid the overwhelming need to own certain things, or to understand certain arcane subjects, or to be loved by certain Gods. Those complications just make life harder than it already is.

Stick to the basics, that’s my advice.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rocket From the Tombs - 30 Seconds Over Tokyo

All you youngsters out there, take note. If you want to grow your hair long and plug in your guitars, chose your influences wisely.

There are definite echos of this song in Nirvana's music, twenty years later. Definite echos. And that's a good thing. All music is derivative to some point. It's most important that you are influenced by great music and that you add something great to it. All musicians steal; great musicians push the material to a new level.

I'm not one to criticize or compare, I'll leave that to all of the geniuses up on the YouTube constantly declaring their opinions about who did what better or first. I love Rocket From the Tombs, and I've loved Pere Ubu from the beginning, and I love Nirvana as well. God bless all of them, and God speed. I hope all of those involved are making a living. Music is a tough business.

Fresh Garbage - Spirit

The one not-so-great thing about the Sixties and Seventies was that to actually like something, you had to hear it and you had to know about it. To like it, to want to buy it, you had to hear it on the radio or have a friend that had the album and/or was into the band. I saw that Spirit was around, but I'd never heard anything by them. I'd never even read a review. I had only the vague impression that they were serious and worth listening to. There were plenty of records that I knew about, though, and that I wanted to spend money on, and I purchased them instead. So that was that, no Spirit for me.

There are only so many dollars in the world, and when you have spent them, they are gone.

By now we can listen to anything at all and decide for ourselves if we like it. That's a great advantage in life. Not to mention that we don't even have to buy the album to listen to it as many times as we like. We can even download it, free, if we are clever.

(Insert random sentimental comment about the original Napster, gone but not forgotten.)

Good for us now; bad for Spirit then. And probably now, too. The music business has gotten even tougher in the Twenty-First-Century.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Til' The End Of The Day (Rare BBC)

Live on the BBC! A very nice version and a very creditable live effort.

The Kinks were the real deal.

Shin Godzilla, aka Godzilla Resurgence

I managed to locate a theater that was showing this movie in the original Japanese soundtrack version, with subtitles in English, Thai and Chinese, of all things. Many scenes also had a banner describing the location or the nature of the meeting that was taking place. Sometimes the screen was so crowded that it looked like CNN.

The theater was not easy to get to, and it was expensive, but it was all worth it. The projection was perfect. And Shin Godzilla, aka Godzilla Resurgence, is a great movie.

This is a big budget Godzilla movie. The special effects are a big leap beyond any previous movie in the Toho franchise. There’s a lot of CGI, for one thing, with most of the action taking place in actual cityscapes, in broad daylight. The effects, to my untrained but very experienced eye, looked better than those in the recent Hollywood Godzilla movie, itself a very good looking, high quality effort. Much of the action in the Hollywood movie takes place at night, and sometimes the perspectives got dodgy. But those are small criticisms; I love the Hollywood movie, too.

Japanese viewers seem to love Shin Godzilla. The franchise can always count on fans coming out in the first couple of weeks, but this movie has legs, as they say. That means that word-of-mouth is bringing more people into the theaters. The last movie in the franchise was Godzilla, Final Wars. That one brought in between two and three billion yen in domestic box office sales. Shin Godzilla is already over six billion yen. People like it.

I like it myself. I admit that I’m a fanboy and a Godzilla completist. I’ve seen every one of the Toho movies multiple times, and I have many of them on DVD. Often multiple DVDs of the same movie. I might have the Japanese version and the dubbed version, and then I see a letterboxed version in Japanese and I’ll buy it immediately. Some are great; some are cheesy; several are awful. I love them all. But I do prefer a good story and good human characters. Shin Godzilla has those things, in spades.

Most of the movie is taken up with the government’s response to the crisis, and its treatment of this aspect of the story is not typical. The usual thing is to put some government officials and a couple of generals in the movie to look heroic and concerned, but usually this is not done in a naturalistic manner. In Shin Godzilla the human action of the big shots is extremely realistic. It could just as easily be scenes from a “serious” movie about the Fukushima earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis a few years ago, and in fact some reviewers have mentioned that as an obvious intention of the movie.

The inevitable human conflicts are delicately handled. The conflicts between rival politicians; between rival agencies; between the letter of the law and raw necessity; between Japan and the U.S.; between Japan and the United Nations; all are addressed in a way that is always believable and enjoyable to watch. Oh, and it’s a very impressive Godzilla that’s stomping around as well.

This Godzilla is terrifying. In my opinion, that has only happened in two previous movies, the original 1954 Godzilla, and the ridiculously titled Godzilla, Mothra, King Gidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack. This one tops them all. Not just the look of the monster. The creature is an issue of first impression in this movie, and that should be terrifying enough. The scariest thing is the fear of the human characters when, over halfway through the movie and after we know them all pretty well, they discover that Godzilla has the potential to wipe out human life on earth. Their fear amplifies our concern. That’s good story-telling.

I’d recommend Shin Godzilla to anyone at all. You don’t need to be a fan to enjoy it, and you needn’t have seen any of the previous movies. You could watch it just for the depiction of a high-level government response to a huge, unanticipated crisis. It’s a great movie. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Viola Lee Blues - Grateful Dead

(Disclaimer: this one takes a while to get rolling. If the beginning is too dull, just zoom climb out about half way.)

My God, how a little age changes things. I actually purchased this LP in 1967, but I never connected with it. We were on different wavelengths. I saw them play in 1968. Jeff Beck was on the under card, and I went to see his band. I was a big fan. That was the Rod Stewart/Mickey Waller/ and, what's his name? the Rolling Stone? oh, yeah, Ron Wood (of the Birds!). At that show, I thought that the Grateful Dead were dull-witted. Their sound system was hundreds of Fender Champs, those little sixteen watt, one twelve inch speaker amps. I just thought that that shit was stupid, and that the music went nowhere, in a hurry, and stayed there.

I'm pretty sure that it was the French writer Alfred Jarre ("Pere Ubu") that said, "when the expression of an artist collides with the mind of the beholder, and produces a dull thud, it remains to be established to which of the two belongs the fault."

I'm not sure, but I think that, maybe, back then the fault was mine, with very little fault attributable to the Grateful Dead. By now, I tolerate them very well. I really like the LP, Anthem to the Sun.

Only took fifty-plus-years!

Small Faces - All or Nothing 1966

Sounds like a set-up-and-play situation, too. Nicely done, lads.

Reading about the Small Faces, you'll hear that one of the reasons for their demise was not being able to recreate Ogden's Nut Gone Flake on stage. But, as this vid suggests, they were a creditable stage band, so I still think it was just the lack of money that doomed them. They were great, for many years, but the money just didn't flow.

I've seen allusions to management not wanting them to tour behind Ogden's by playing the whole thing live. Money is the great Satan, but artist management is Satan's number one agent.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Rehersing nigerian high life

Who knew? But it seems like people are still playing Highlife.

Highlife was the (mostly) before the Nigerian Civil War (Biafra War, late '60s) popular music of Nigeria. I came across a stash of Highlife records in 1975 at a friend's house (a cousin had been in the Peace Corps). I made copies, and I wore that CD out. Pretty catchy stuff, eh?

And people are still playing it! Good deal.

This Last Week

It’s been a wonderful week. I had a pizza, and it was a pretty good one. I had several nice lunches. I could pay all of my bills, and do all of my work. I had sex a couple of times; I read an interesting book. I saw a terrific movie (Things to Come, 1936). There was a lot to recommend this week just past.

There were, or course, the disappointments, and the nightmares, both sleeping and waking, and the usual generalized anxiety, but it was, on balance, a wonderful week. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Funkees- Break Through

Now that's a mystery. How did this Atomic Rooster song makes its way to Nigeria to be covered by the Funkees? One for the ages, man. Proof positive that the world has been small for a long time now.

Good cover, too. The 1960s and 1970s were an amazingly fertile period for Nigerian music. Highlife led to Afrobeat, with Fela and the rest. Just remarkable.

Atomic Rooster - Breaktrough (1971)

The original.

I saw Atomic Rooster once at the Action House on Long Island. They did a great show; my friends and I were favorably impressed. But man, my ears rang for days! It was the single loudest show that I've ever seen/heard. And that's saying something. Not many bands can say, "yeah, we're much louder than Blue Cheer." Sometimes I'm amazed that I can still hear at all.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Almost Seeing The New Godzilla

Those footfalls, that roar, the original music . . . they get me every time.

I've read a bit about this new entry in the series and it really sounds great. All of the actors are new to the Godzilla canon; none of the usual suspects were invited this time around. The movie is a fresh start: it's modern day Tokyo and Godzilla is an issue of first impression. There are no other monsters to distract the viewer from the story. The real story is the reactions of the population, the government and the military to this fantastic new threat, reactions of horror, confusion and desperation.

It appears to be a serious entry, totally lacking in camp, heroics or love interests. Some reviewers are saying that it is a comment on the similar reactions to the recent earthquake and tsunami, with elements of realism and satire. So, a great Godzilla movie.

It opened in Bangkok on September 8th, and on September 9th I was excited to be a my local Mall Bangkapi to get a look at it. There was a problem, though. The mall was only showing the movie dubbed in Thai. I can speak Thai well enough for ordinary conversation, but my vocabulary is deficient and understanding long exposition in spoken Thai is well beyond my abilities. Since the movie's serious side takes up most of the screen time, I decided to pass.

For a more typical Godzilla movie, this would not have been a problem. The stories are usually simple enough, and the action and the story are very easy to follow. I watch these movies in Japanese all the time, and generally it's a simple matter to put English words to the dialog. What they're saying is usually obvious. This time I thought, no, I'll wait for a hoped-for DVD, either dubbed in English or with English subtitles. Or both! Multiple copies of Godzilla movies is nothing new for me.

I'm pretty sure that that day will come. It's getting a limited release in the U.S. As disappointments go, this is a minor setback. We fans have waited ten years for this new installment. Another couple of months won't kill me.

Japanese Donald Trump Commercialトランプ2016

This speaks for itself. I could not  possibly add to its perfection.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Spin Easy Time!: A Future That We Can Live With

I love my music fans, but I love my serious readers, too. The other day I made the mistake of burying this down in the column by putting a half dozen songs on top of it. That was a mistake, so here it is. Right on top. Let's see what happens.

Spin Easy Time!: A Future That We Can Live With: Ladies and Gentlemen of the United States, we need to start thinking about the future. Okay, sure, the global climate change thing is impor...

WTF Moment

What just happened with the below post? I think that happened once, long ago, but what on earth would cause that white blocking to show up?

Maybe I'll see when I hit "post" on this one.

YouTube Troll Smackdown

So I was just up on the YouTube, checking out some Lee Moses, after reading about him in the Oxford American (dot org . . . the New Yorker of the South!). Then I looked around some more. And you know, if I'm in a bad mood, and I am frequently in bad moods, the comments on YouTube really twist my nipples.

Just who the fuck do people think they are? It's a fair question. They snark around. They throw shade. They just flat out jump in people's shit. You know, from the safety of some secure location somewhere and hiding behind some kind of stupid gig name.

If they talked to people like that in the old days, the face to face days, you'd better hurry up and knew that they would have been so smacked around that they would never have forgetten it. And they'd be more careful next time, too.

Listening to one of the versions of "Ain't Got No," by Nina Simone, the comments got to me, and I added this comment to the mess:

"All of you geniuses that know something about a song and bother other posters about their "ignorance," check that shit at the door. All of you grammar police out there who want to bother people about the English in their posts, get a life, bro. English is hard. Check that shit at the door. And while I'm at it, all of you musicologists out there who want to make value judgments about the relative merit of this version or that version, by this one or that one, dig yourself. Your opinion doesn't mean anything. Check that shit at the door."

That song has thirteen million hits, which is great. Over a thousand "thumbs down," which bodes ill for our entire culture, but still. With so many hits, maybe a few of the offenders will get the message in their e-mails.

Or not. Far be it for me to understand how these things work.

Lee moses - Bad Girl Part 1 and 2

I must admit that I didn't hear the message back when this came out. Missed a lot of other great bits, too. Mea culpa, guys. Some of y'all were doing great work.

Interestingly, I learned a good lesson this week. "When you write a nice, serious post," said the voice in my head, "don't bury it down in the column below a half a dozen songs."

So after this one, I'm re-posing A Future That We Can Live With. Let's see if it can attract a little readership.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

John Lee Hooker - I'm Bad Like Jesse James

I could look up the release date for this one, but if memory serves I picked it up probably in 1968. It's a good LP.

This song is about a man who is serious. You can feel the anger in it. Music like this is . . . serious. We all listened to Michael Jackson sing, "I'm Bad," and we kind of giggled, you know, because please, Michael Jackson wasn't bad at all. Maybe he turned out to be evil, but he didn't scare you in a conventional way. John Lee, on the other hand, makes you want to be careful about offending the wrong guy. John Lee sounds like he is the wrong guy. He's serious!

I Can't Let Go The Hollies

Brother, I love Evie Sands AND I love the Hollies. I consider the Hollies to be one of the really great cover bands. This song is a perfect example. They found it; they took it; and they knocked it right out of the park.

But I don't mind if you think the Evie version is "better." That whole "better" thing is so prevalent on YouTube, and I find the whole thing distasteful. The comments are full of "oh, so and so's version is the best . . ." Usually, and especially in this comparison, both versions are very, very good. As Rodney King said, why can't we all just get along?


I love Evie Sands. Very underrated singer. It was some kind of failure of marketing or something, but several of her records languished way down the charts for her but went on to great success as covers by other acts.

She actually referred to herself as "the greatest demo singer in history," or something to that effect.

Manfred Mann - Doo Wah Diddy Diddy

These 1960s English Invasion bands made a lot of covers of American hits, near hits, or misses. They did a very good job of it, too.

I'd give the Exciters the edge on this one, but the Manfreds version isn't bad by any means. You can judge for yourself.

The Exciters - Do Wah Diddy

Here's the original of this song. The Exciters were a great outfit, known best for their 1963 hit,"He's Got the Power."

A Future That We Can Live With

Ladies and Gentlemen of the United States, we need to start thinking about the future. Okay, sure, the global climate change thing is important, but the basic challenge that we urgently face right now is returning to some kind of normalcy in the realm of politics.

We’d all like to think that there is a future for American politics. A good future, I mean, a future in which we have climbed out of the hole that we are currently stuck in, a time when things are working more smoothly. You can’t just stumble along, not in life and not in politics. There needs to be a goal, that’s the “vision thing.”  But what might such a future even look like? And where is the door that we may pass through to get there? That last part might be the real stumbling block. We need to work out what kind of political future we want, but maybe seeing the future itself is easier than the process of getting there.

What about envisioning the desirable future in the first place? I have read that Mr. Nostradamus used an ancient technique to divine the future. It might work not only for seeing the actual future, but also for imaging a livable future. He carefully prepared a darkened room, hanging a large, angled mirror above eye level. Maybe he lit a feint candle; maybe there was a source of smoke. It is said that he would sit looking into the dark mirror, trying to detect the movement of the spheres. Depending on whom you ask, he had considerable success in the prediction business. Seeing where politics is leading us might be a good first step. I believe that what we saw would be so terrible that it would lead to desperate measures to avoid it.

Then there would be the getting there part. Moving forward in our present political and economic climate is going to be difficult. There are many important people today that will tell you that the system is working just fine, while even a blind donkey could see that it is not. These Champagne Charlies are raising hell and spreading ruin and insecurity, but they don’t care, because they themselves are making money.

The number of people raising hell and painting pretty pictures far outnumbers the precious few that may have a sincere wish to move America towards the good. There are probably more than a few, but it seems like only Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have the courage to stand up and speak out.

I read recently that the century between 1870 and 1970 saw the greatest advance in human living standards in all of history. I substantially agree with that assessment. Most Americans can look to their own family histories for evidence that it is true. The Industrial Revolution, unionization, the New Deal, and World War II brought Americans to a high state of prosperity and security. (Most Americans, anyway. All generalizations are, in a sense, lies.) The great part was that the prosperity and security were shared; all classes saw big upticks in living standards across the board. Maybe the century ending in the 1970s saw such progress because some of our leaders recognized that sharing as a priority. They created a strong middle class and raised the really, really poor by quite a measure as well. The rich were not apparently hurt in all of that raising up; in fact they got richer themselves. The decades since 1970 have also seen huge increases in productivity and prosperity, but all of the new prosperity has gone to the one percent, the very top class of wealthy families. Our leaders, beginning particularly around the election of Ronald Reagan and continuing to our own day, lost the vision and the will to share America’s prosperity and help people in general to lead more productive, secure lives. This is substantially true for both political parties. By now, it’s easy to see that the old prosperity has evaporated, and that the strong, secure middle class is a receding memory.

What went wrong? Now is the time on Sprockets when we make lists!

Was it the fiat money that was created in the 1960s? Workmen’s wages began to suffer immediately, and the rich started to pile it on. Was it the afore mentioned Ronald Reagan? He started the anti-Washington establishment crusade and the culture war against the poor, and he invented “trickle down” economics, which is still with us. (Not to mention all of this “personal responsibility” bullshit.) Was it Vietnam and Watergate? They certainly did hurt America’s self-confidence. Was it computers? They have allowed the financial sector to rush ahead at light speed with the process of making money from nothing. Did the John Birch Society just convince everyone that they were right? Their ideas sounded crazy to everyone in the 1960s, even to conservative politicians, but by now their ideas have become mainstream. It was something, that’s for sure.

Or maybe it was only a case of too much, too soon. Prosperity is a pendulum that swings, especially if people are not careful.  

I hope that someone is working on the problem that is our future. Working on the vision of the future that we wish for ourselves and working on a plan for getting there. Looking at the globe, however, I somehow doubt it. It’s not the fashion among today’s political elite. How many failed states are there in the world already? Huge swaths of land, which include many countries, seem to have gone spontaneously insane. The number of failed states grows by the year. 

The terrible truth of the matter is that this is happening at a time when mankind has all of the tools, and all of the money, that it would need to substantially solve every one of the world’s problems within a relatively short span of time. This could be done simply by exercising self-control and cooperating with each other. Greed, competition, revenge, corruption, religious exclusivity and war are certainly not the way to run a planet, but I don’t see anyone in authority proposing any different ways to proceed. Maybe they’ve given up.

And so, we Americans find ourselves in a country that, being in the northern hemisphere, is whirling rapidly clockwise down the drain of time. Will there be any lovely countries in the future at all? And, if so, will America be one of them? If current trends continue, I doubt if anyone will even find anything about America particularly interesting with a couple of hundred years. America may become just another failed experiment in the dustbin of history.

Although some may remember American music fondly.  

Friday, September 2, 2016

Run Baby Run - The Newbeats - HD STEREO

Back in the way, way back, Bread and Butter was the only song that I heard from the Newbeats, and I was not a fan. Earlier this year I was listening to Brian Poole and the Tremolos and sure enough, they covered a song called Run Baby Run. My ears shot up . . . wow, that's a good song. I'd never heard it before, but I knew that it wasn't an original for them. They were a pretty good cover band, which includes two key skills: 1) picking great songs; and 2) producing a great version.

Looking for the original, I found these guys. Still not a fan, but who cares what I think. This particular recording/version/production is about the best that I've heard by the Newbeats. It's a good song. More people should do it!