Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jonathan Pie: Reporter gets angry about Matt Damon, David Cameron, Alan ...

"Jonathan Pie" turns out to be British comedian Tom Walker (in the role of, "creator of . . ."). Good job, Tom.

Lee Dorsey - Four Corners (Part 1) - '68 Soul-Funk

An Allan Toussaint production. Nothing cheers me up like an obscure Lee Dorsey cut that I've never heard before and it turns out to be first class all the way. Thanks, world . . . I needed that.

Part I? Part II? There seems to be something wrong with this picture. Every one on YouTube is this cut right here, although some say Part I and some say Part II.  Always room for a bit of mystery, I always say.

The College Point Window On This Election

One Coastal Small Town vs. Red State Mania

There have been wild demographic shifts in the United States over the last seven decades. Some, perhaps many, Americans have shown little or no discomfort over those changes and have moved on with the times; other Americans, perhaps many of them, have dug in their angry heels and now wish to unwind as many of those changes as possible. This election drew a bold line between the two groups.

Once upon a time, I was a boy. The time was the early 1950s; the place was New York City, the Borough of Queens, neighborhood of College Point. Most people, even most New Yorkers, would need a bit of clarification as to the College Point part. Let’s say that it is a part of the greater Flushing area, being north of Flushing proper, on and extending into the East River, on the north shore of Long Island, between La Guardia Airport (across the Flushing River) and the Whitestone Bridge.

College Point does make kind of a “point” of land, but neither the East River nor the Flushing River are real rivers. The East River is actually an estuary of considerable size, and the Flushing River is more or less an inlet about a mile long and culminating in a swamp. So from the geography on up, College Point is ridiculous.

The Whitestone Bridge is actually a bridge. It’s very beautiful. You can Google it.

That long-ago world was what I sometimes call “the white New York.” The city in general was something like 84% white. College Point, when I was a boy, was more like 99% white. That was back when the white folk were firmly in charge, the time for which many white people have grown nostalgic more recently. That College Point was almost entirely white was like an unwritten rule, and it was enforced with considerable prejudice by regular people without prompting from political or religious entities.

Did I say 99%? Let’s see. We were told that there were about 30,000 people in College Point back then. The 2010 census gave it as 24,500. Who knows? Maybe it’s been somewhere in that range for this entire time. The demographics, however, are radically different now than they were then.

Back then, to my knowledge, there were two black people who actually lived in College Point. They were a couple in their fifties; they worked the night shift at, I was informed, Flushing Hospital. I remember the building that they lived in, and I saw them coming and going from time to time. Sometimes getting the bus to go to work at about 5:30 p.m.; sometimes returning home in the early morning. If you saw them in the morning, they’d be carrying grocery bags from the Blue Star Market over in Flushing. Why, you’d think that they were consciously avoiding shopping in College Point, or even being seen on the street! Which was, I’m sure, the case, as ashamed as I am to admit it.

My tailor had an assistant who was a very kindhearted black man, and I know that there were other black workers at various businesses and factories. After hours they returned to their residences somewhere else.

That was the white world, which, as we shall see in a moment, has passed from history’s stage, never to return.

As for Hispanics in College Point, I did know that the mothers of a couple of my friends were Puerto Rican woman who had married local men. There were no Puerto Rican families, though. I didn’t think much about it. By the early 1970s the nice park in College Point had been discovered by Puerto Ricans from Flushing and Corona. They’d come over on Sunday and hang out on blankets, kick around a soccer ball. That made for a bit of tension, but none of them had moved in as yet.

No minorities successfully moved into College Point until after I had graduated from high school. There were stories of a few close calls, but people were scared off. Threats were made.

Of Asians, I only knew of two families. There was the Filipino family of my friend Alan A. In those days, and since, Filipinos are much more likely to be greeted as part of the American family than any other Asians. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe people remember that we fought the Japanese together. I guess there’s more to it, though, because we fought the Japanese together with the Chinese, too. Anyway, Alan’s was only one family. The other Asian family was Chinese, and, in an amazing burst of seeming racism, they owned the, wait for it! The Chinese Laundry. They were very nice and they seemed prosperous. I took my father’s shirts there.

Homosexuals are not, of course, a demographic, but let’s address that issue here as well. If there were any homosexuals at all, men or women, we would have had no way of knowing it. Back in the pre-Stonewall era, homosexuals kept their heads so far down it’s amazing that they could see a curb without tripping over it. And there were good reasons for that, too.  It was open season on homosexuals all year, every year, back then. A guy could get hurt.

Politically, everyone in New York City was a Democrat. Before the mid-1970s, Republicans couldn’t get arrested in New York. When John Lindsey got elected mayor in 1965 or so, he ran on both the Republican and the Liberal Party tickets. He was elected on the Liberal ticket. We were blue-collar, yellow-dog Democrats, with many of the working people being in unions.

Longing for a return to this world is like that short story, “The Monkey’s Paw.” The moral of that story, and all other “three wishes” stories, is, “be careful what you wish for.”  Those longings always cause enormous grief; those stories never end well.

New York, the Modern Era.

Everything has changed by now in such a comprehensive way that it really is a challenge to the understanding, even for people who, like me, embrace diversity.

Here are the stat’s for College Point from that 2010 census:

White:       32%

Asian:        28%

Hispanic:    36%

Black:        3%

By now it seems like New York also tolerates Republicans much better than in the past, while still voting largely Democratic. Hillary won New York, including College Point.

I have no statistics regarding the gay population, and my guess is that the actual numbers would remain about the same as a percentage of the population. That seems to be the way homosexuality works; it occurs naturally in the human population, and I’ve never seen or heard any speculation as to whether the percentage swings very widely, or at all. I would venture to guess, however, that the gay population is a bit more comfortable these days with identifying as gay. Certain demographics notwithstanding, most of the American people do seem to have grasped the fact that when one considers “homosexuals,” one is considering one’s own beloved family members, friends and co-workers, sports stars, dedicated police and firemen, doctors and nurses, soldiers and sailors, etc. For most people it was a small matter of discovering just who all of those gay people were. Having found out that they knew and loved multiple gay people, most Americans, to their credit, raised their eyebrows and said, “oh!” And that was more or less that.

But this is New York that we’re looking at in detail here. New York is a nice place, in many ways, but it is not America.

I have many friends from College Point that I am still in contact with. Quite a few still live there; the rest are spread out all over the east coast from Florida to Upstate New York, and all points west. Many of the friends who still live in College Point seem to resent the new diversity, and many of those who moved, moved because of it. Even though the area still went Democratic this time, this resentment bodes ill for the future of our politics.

The coastal people of America, including New York, voted for Hillary this time around, with a push, no doubt, from their diverse elements. Other reasons might include the fact that the white coastals are often better educated, more disposed to believe the evidence in scientific matters, less likely to take stories from iron age texts as facts, more able to resist shouted lies and flattery meant to influence their votes, and better able to think for themselves.

As for the diverse elements of the coastal states, the immigrants, minorities, subscribers to novel sexual theories, and others, I believe that all such groups have it rather harder in American society than we, the plain vanilla, and as a result there is a much greater flowering of common sense among them. They live more firmly in the world of reality, and are forced to look at things with greater attention. So Hillary, in this case, was a no-brainer for them. They know mischief when they see it.

The So-Called Fly-Over States

Middle America is a different story. Many of those states out there in what New Yorkers would call the middle of nowhere were almost all white back in the Fifties, and they’re still almost all white now. Those folks were fairly prosperous back then, and the white people like them were in charge all over the country. By now, those jobs and that prosperity are gone, and the coastal regions and the areas around big cities like Chicago seem to be chuck full of diversity. In fact, we’ve had a black president with an African name! How diverse is that! Maybe, the thinking goes, way too diverse.

Is there a certain tension between the fact that those urban and coastal regions have more diversity and the fact that they have more prosperity as well? Well, there might be at that. That could make people resentful. Maybe all of that diversity stole our prosperity!

Something happened in this election. I’m tempted to say that back in the white America of my childhood, or the World War II Era, let’s say, New Yorkers and Montanans, or Arkansans, etc., were racists or xenophobes in more or less the same measure. They would tolerate homosexuals to a very similar degree, each to the other (even if that was close to zero percent). They were Republicans or Democrats in approximately equal measure. They could talk together and get along, at least if the New Yorkers made an effort to speak slowly. (That’s not a dig, by the way; that shit is true.)

The bad news is that the two groups were all kind of racist and xenophobic back then, and they all hated homosexuals, but the point is that they had not yet learned to hate each other. That is the gift of the Modern World, the Modern America. Mutual contempt and hatred even within the white tribe is a recent development.

The worst news is that these “heartlanders” appear only to have gotten more racist and more xenophobic and more fundamentalist and more intolerant of other American demographics than they were in the past. This has happened over the last thirty years as they have watched their prosperity go up in steam. They have further hardened their hearts against those traditionally hated groups, and they have added many types of Americans to their hate lists. All of this while the coasts loosened up a bit.

They hate immigrants; minorities; homosexuals; the ungodly; Liberals; cosmopolitans; the poor (even though many of them are themselves poor); Muslims; culturally tolerant urban whites; Catholics and mainstream Protestants; the educated; anyone receiving government assistance (even though they themselves are very likely to be receiving government assistance); the Washington (and other) elites; Jews; and Democrats in general. They hate the courts; the Federal Government; science; diversity; and education. That is a breathtaking hate list.

Regarding the world, they do seem to tolerate Australia pretty well, and they appear to view Canada with mere suspicion and bemusement, while rejecting the rest of the countries of the world out of hand as either ungodly, socialist, communist, libertine, Muslim, brutish, or some combination of the above.

Now here’s the bit that I’ve been leaving out of all of my commentary until this point: they are empowered to hate all of these things by reference to their particular brand of the Christian faith.

It’s all about the Bible. Science has no validity at all. Many people in this situation believe that the earth itself has only been here for a very limited amount of time. Evolution is some kind of demonic trap for the faithful. White people were created in God’s image; all people of color are not purely white due to some curse directed at them by God. It’s a circus of anti-intellectual conformity out there out there in the plains states, and down south as well. No one in many of these areas is listening to the adults anymore.

These people, these Christian Reconstructionist, white supremacist yokels, are willfully ignorant, anti-intellectual and woefully uninformed. To simply call them “low-information,” or “low-education,” leaves off their most clearly defining characteristic. They are FUNDAMENTALIST Christians. Their minds are closed to debate. They know it all, as it has been shown to them in their revealed literature, and as it has been explained to them by their ministers, their mega-church pastors, their right-wing political echo chamber, and by a long roster of media celebrities from Alex Jones of the Info Wars to Shawn Hannity and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News.

And Here We Are.

For one thing, real discussion and compromise is impossible under these circumstances. Finding a solution to our current, growing problem is going to be very difficult without the ability to discuss differences of opinion or find compromises that are acceptable to all sides.

For another thing, unwinding history is impossible. Those jobs are gone; they’re never coming back. The discussion, if such a thing were possible, would be about new types of jobs, new industries, and better distribution of wealth. (Yeah, I said it. And within the last year alone I’ve read a few thoughtful pieces by ultra-rich tech guys or venture capital guys admitting that if nothing is done through the system, they’ll be hanging from lamp-posts before long.)

And there’s this, none of those minorities, or immigrants, or members of other sub-cultures that you don’t like, they’re not going anywhere. Most, by far, are American citizens. It might be possible to deport some of the undocumented, but that effort would elicit such screams of anguish from the business community that it would be shut down quickly. It might be possible to pull some Green Cards and get rid of a few students or something. We’re married to the rest. Get used to it.

And two things about religion: 1) Keep it to yourself, people. Keep your religion where it belongs, in your head, and in your church; keep it between you and your God; and 2) When it comes to OUR country, keep YOUR religion out of it. Make sensible reality based decisions about your votes, and don’t try to use YOUR right to vote to take OUR rights away. Or else we’ll start to wonder why you’re allowed to vote at all.

In the future, fundamentalist religiosity will be seen as a disabling mental condition. Do not hasten the day.

So now we are about to swear in Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. Reading it like that always looks like something in a movie script.

You could add: unless something happens. There’ll be no discussion of the possibilities here. I’ll wait until after the facts are in and then let the professionals discuss whatever has happened at that time.

No discussion of possible vote tampering, either. The strong tendency in America is always to avoid any discussion that could lead to a loss of faith in the system. So when it does happen, like in the year 2000, it turns quickly into “move along, people; nothing to see here.” We’ll see if anything develops this year.

It would be simplistic of me to blame the entire thing on the snake-handling Rubes. They couldn’t have done it all by themselves, although they were, no doubt, a big part of the victory. The Rubes got a lot of help. There are a great many yellow-dog Republicans these days; they’ll vote for anyone at all who appears on the Republican ticket. Many people have a big difference of opinion with Ms. Clinton’s policies and her style of politics; many people are opposed to globalization and Neo-Liberalism in all of their manifestations. Many people believed all of the lies that they read every day about Ms. Clinton. Many men, and women, just don’t think that the presidency is a suitable job for a woman. Many people just don’t like the woman.

Beyond the question of the results among the people who actually voted, there is the problem of the half of registered voters who didn’t bother to vote. Hillary’s negatives are so high that I’m afraid many of these stayed away rather than soil their hands voting for either candidate. It’s also important that all of the polls, right up to the morning of the election, had Hillary winning by a comfortable margin. This allowed unenthusiastic Hillary voters to just let her win without their having to go to the trouble of voting.

Let’s be serious. Voter turnout in America is always on the low side. It’s almost like many people just don’t care who wins, or who governs them. They’re all the same; the policies come from somewhere else anyway; why bother? That sounds very cynical, but it might be uncomfortably close to the truth.

That might be true in a normal election year, anyway.

2017: the year that normal was thrown straight out the window.

Now we will, unfortunately, see what will happen. Only one thing is for sure: it will all be described as “fantastic!”  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bob Dylan: The Countdown To The Nobel Began In March, 1965.

Certainly I've seen this video many times, and the earliest viewings were somewhere in the dim recesses of the past. But when might I have first seen it? The release date was early 1965, and opportunities to view something like this were few, yeah, let's just say, "few." Maybe on a Scopitone? Remember those? I laid eyes on a Scopitone on only one occasion, at Max's Kansas City, where I was not, repeat, not a regular.

But, without even having begun, I digress.

Bringing It All Back Home was the first of three remarkable albums that were released within a fourteen month period in 1965, '66. It came out on March 22, 1965; Highway 61 Revisited came out only five months later, on August 30, 1965. Blonde on Blonde was released on May 16, 1966. Think about it, that's really FOUR albums within fourteen months.

And they were a revolution at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute. Bob Dylan didn't come up with those new ideas in a vacuum; I wouldn't say that he did. I'm not a real musicologist, so don't expect chapter and verse from me, but I'd bet my tattoo that other artists were also, or even had already been, mixing up the rock and the folk and the attitude and the blues and the Rimbaud poetry and the politics in ways that may even have been similar. But if those people existed, I'll also bet, maybe an eye tooth this time, that they would admit that Bob was doing a fine job of it on his own.

Throw into the mix that in July, 1965, Bob performed that electric set at the Newport Folk Festival, where he received a somewhat civil reception. He played a couple of electric sets in Europe as well, where his reception was decidedly less than civil. It's hard for us to see what was pissing people off from our considerable remove.  By now people might even be forgiven for believing that it was all an obvious step in the first place, undeserving of any particular credit. People in our cynical age will probably figure the whole thing for a purely commercial move. Ahhhhhhhhh . . . no.

I don't think so, mostly because of the furious effort that went in to the changeover. Perhaps some YouTube commenting genius could find hints in Another Side of Bob Dylan that such a change had already begun before 1965. But really, all of those pre-1965 albums were simple, unembellished productions of one guy singing and playing a guitar, with maybe a harmonica, mostly annoying and mostly political, slightly pretentious, and hopelessly folksy. Then, beginning with Subterranean Homesick Blues and accelerating like the shock wave of an atomic bomb, came four LPs worth of something totally new that developed rapidly within the space of fourteen months. That effort has clear indications of compulsion about it.

I'd earmark that as a heartfelt effort, entirely sincere, and artistic in nature.

So thanks, Bob. (If I may call you Bob.) And enjoy your Nobel Prize. You earned it fair and square. Thanks for everything.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Marshall Crenshaw - You're My Favourite Waste Of Time (HQ)

I'm afraid that we all need much more useful wastes of time than life as usual in the good old U. S. of A. right now. Choose art, maybe, or play checkers or something. It's all so up in the air, the politics, etc. Let a few geniuses do a little juggling . . . maybe the rest of us should let shit settle down a bit before we jump on board.

Facebook Vacation Time; Trump Edition

I'm on Facebook vacation.

I've been up on the Facebook since 2008 or something, and I have enjoyed it more often than not. I have reconnected with many people that were friends of mind back in the teen years, and I've met and come to love many people who were neighbors but not friends back in  the past, or who are friends of friends, or who just grew up close to me but too remotely to get to know back then. I'll be back, Facebook, but please, God, give me two or four weeks to catch my breath.

Facebook, let's be honest, helped Donald Trump win this election. All of those bullshit memes about Hillary carried water for Trump.

And were they really bullshit? Or am I just a Libtard? Well yes, I am a Libtard AND they were really bullshit. Like that photo of Florence Henderson playfully grabbing a hot guy's crotch with the heading, "Is this the woman that you want in the White House?" (Ms. Henderson was wearing a pants suit and was photographed from an angle. Her hair style is much like Ms. Clinton's. Their figures are much the same.) Well no, no one wants Florence Henderson in the White House, now that you mention it. THANKS, FACEBOOK!

We live in a zero accountability world. Voting irregularities? Shuuuuuuush!!! We need to maintain faith in the system!!!

So I'm just backing away from the Social Media Failed Experiment right now. I'll stick with the blogging  aspect, partly because I think that there's more substance here and partly because I get more out of writing pieces that take more than a heartbeat to read. Selfish as usual! There's a lot of it going around.

Then He Kissed Me - The Crystals

This was the one, just now, that got me thinking about life, and crying. I listened to this song before "Walking in the Rain." I listened to this song and I became slightly unglued. This is the dream, isn't it? In two and a half minutes, this song is the fucking dream. We find somebody, somebody who has a real family and who is capable of real love, and we fall in love, and we get married, and it all works out. It's harder than it seems. Especially these days. I mean, Al is not married to Tipper anymore. So I listened to "Then He Kissed Me" a second time, being a sentimental fool. At around the halfway point, I just broke down crying. The dream becomes the nightmare, you know? But like the guys in Vietnam used to say, "It don't mean nothing." Or as the Germans still say, "what is that compared to Stalingrad?" Well, it's nothing, that's what it is. One person's little unpleasantness is not one fucking tiny bubble in a glass of champagne. (That's a good line. I'll use it again when more people are reading/listening.) Oh, fuck it. Fuck it all. If they swear this guy in, we can all kiss it goodbye anyway. Life, love, music, art, fuck it all. It was fun while it lasted!


This song always gets to me. With a twist, as it were. My mother was depressed, like so many of us. And she often felt like walking in the rain, late in the evening. She'd take me with her, when I was old enough. She'd never let on what she was thinking about, but we'd be out there, under the umbrella, walking around the neighborhood, her crying softly and me just going along for the ride. By now I listen to this song and I feel her feelings, because by now, I'm feeling them too. Great song, though. I love the Ronettes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Adrian Belew and David Bowie - Pretty Pink Rose

Early 1990s or thereabouts. David Bowie always did have a good ear for guitar players. I remember an interview with Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music where he said that he loved to have fun with making guitars sound as little like guitars as possible. It seems to me that Adrian Belew took that concept to a whole new level. I've put in a lot of hours playing guitars myself, and when I listen to Adrian I frequently find myself saying, "wait . . . what? What did he just do? How did he do that?" Good song, too.

Songs for Drella - Style It Takes

Imagine, for a moment, that we once lived in a world with such people. Back in the pre-POST-everything world. It's all gone now, of course. At least we, some of us, can remember a world of art and style that meant something. A world where a government based on compromise solutions to the nation's problems was not only possible, but the norm. Andy and Lou are dead already, and Mr. Cale and I will join them soon. Join them in nothingness. It might not be a moment too soon, when it comes.

Monday, November 21, 2016

President Trump: How & Why...

I've never heard of Jonathan Pie, but he's got a way with words, that's for sure. He's got a great handle on these ideas as well, and he puts them forward in a breathless kind of high-energy style. He's right, throughout. So, the facts are available. Jonathan and many others get it, and are exasperated with the failure of the conventional left to understand anything at all. Where are we going with this thing? Donald Trump has just won the White House.

Adventures In Proctoring (With A bonus Track About Politics)

I’m a lecturer at a very big government university here in South East Asia. Five times every year I do a stint of proctoring tests. I just finished up my scheduled ten days after the first semester. It’s always interesting, and this time was no exception.

We hand out and collect the tests, keep an eye out for cheating, and check IDs while the students sign in. Did I say interesting? Sometimes it’s downright fascinating.

Like the fellow who filled in the entire answer sheet of a multiple choice test with the answer sheet turned upside down. He was reading the test questions right side up, so it wasn’t some strange kind of dyslexia. He engaged with the test, too, he worked through it at about the usual pace, and the resulting sheet did not betray the patterns that indicate guessing. But for the whole two hours, all 120 questions, he had the answer sheet turned 180 degrees around and was filling in all of the little circles that way. North was facing south. My only guess as to why he would do that was that it was a personal superstition. Maybe he tried it that way once and got an “A.”

There was another young woman who also had a personalized way of filling in the answer sheet. She went through the entire test putting only a small dot in the middle of the chosen circle. She was very precise about the location and the tone of the dot. After she had finished all 120 questions, she went through the test again, this time darkening only the outer ring of the circles with dots in them. I had supposed that she was going to read the questions over again before darkening the entire circle, but that wasn’t the case. Finally, she went through the entire test for a third time, filling in the remainder of all of the chosen circles. On the last go round she leaned into her pencil so hard that the resulting answer sheet could have been read as braille. This could be another superstition, but it could also be a case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’m no doctor.

As I say, we proctors collect the tests for our individual row. One morning the test for my row ended at 12:00 noon, and at noon there was only one young woman still working on her test. The head proctor called time, so I approached her with my hand out. She formed a protective circle around her test and continued writing furiously. I smiled and said, in the local language, time’s over, hand me the test. She ignored me. Then I gave her a short countdown and tried to take the paper. I mean, the boss proctors are already wondering why the foreigner is letting her keep writing. She clutched the paper desperately to her breast and continued writing. That was it for me; I wasn’t going to start a fight with the girl. I went up front and told the ladies near my station what was going on and asked one of them to please go and get the test. One of the native speaking men overheard me, laughed a little, walked over to the girl and got the test. Maybe she had completed her thought and was ready to hand it in.

There was a crazy lady in my area one day. Not my row, thank God. She was dressed in all white and she was carrying a large white tote bag. In the other hand she carried one of those clear plastic document envelopes. The document case was thick with papers of some kind, and she would wave it meaningfully in the face of anyone who got too close. She was very thin, at least fifty-five-years-old, a bit unkempt, and she was mumbling the entire time. She mumbled throughout the test period and was still mumbling when she walked out the door after a couple of hours. She drew attention from the head proctors immediately and they paid her a visit at her desk. She must have had the required documents, and her name must have been on the list for that row, and she must have had appropriate ID, because they let her stay. The mumbling got to some of her neighbors though, so before long the head proctors were back trying to get her to shut up. She started gesturing with the document pack again. The proctors moved the complaining students to other seats, and the rest of us just had to listen to her.

I looked over the crazy woman’s shoulder a couple of times to see what her test booklet looked like. Hers was a longhand test, essay questions. She wrote in a large, circular script and it appeared that she barely laid the pen on the paper. It was large enough that two adjacent lines would overlap. I could not guarantee that they were real words and sentences. It looked more like drawings of clouds. She would cover two or three lines in this manner and then skip a few lines and start again. She filled two test booklets.

And so, another session of proctoring is accomplished and done with. Lessons have been learned; fun has been had; my feet, which had become rather sore, have already settled down. After nine years, this job remains well up the range on the interesting scale, and it continues to climb on a regular basis into the zone of fascination.

Gratuitous Political Addendum:

I am grateful to have these pleasant things to distract me from certain events taking place nine to twelve time zones away in my own miserable country. Things there have unfortunately gone from bad to worse, with everyone participating in the tragedy, and no one seeming to particularly give a shit that it’s all going to hell. Well, what can one man do but stand and watch? Write a bit on a blog? Talk a bit? One man? It’s a joke.

It’s a shame, too. The United States of America was a wonderful idea when it was proposed, and after 160 years and many fits and starts it looked for a while there like we would make it. The odds of success have fallen rather dramatically in the last fifty years. I was glad to see it at its apogee, and I’ll probably be dead before the perigee comes. Good luck to all of you who find yourselves living out your lives in the United States of Orwellian Horror. Blame it on that prick Reagan, if you ask me. He was the last one with a chance to stop it from happening. He chose, instead, to accelerate the downfall. More fool us! Ashes, ashes, you know. As the Romans said, morituri te salutant! (“We who are about to die, salute you!”) 

ROCKPILE - 1980 - "If Sugar Was As Sweet As You"

I love these guys. Dave Edmonds' "Girls Talk" is a classic album, and this Rockpile material is pretty great too. Nick Lowe? Thanks for the memories. I would say that they sometimes neglected the hooks in these songs, or put in some weak ones. That hurt them at the bank. The bands that really made it hammered those hooks home like their lives depended on it, and I guess they did depend on those hooks. Songs like this are great stuff though, nevertheless. There's more to life than news, weather and sports.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Danny Gatton "Sleepwalk" Melody & Solo .mov

Here's good old Danny Gatton, in not, perhaps, his most musical mood, no, rather in a playful mood, doing just any old thing that comes to his mind, at the speed of thought itself, and having a grand old time. I guess that I've heard that Danny was a player's player, and it's certainly true that genuine fame and the big money eluded him. But wow, that boy could play. I watch videos like this and I just laugh out loud; I exclaim; I cry out to God for mercy, or at least an explanation. That's Danny Gatton. Mystifying guitarists and entertaining the people throughout his life, and probably damn near forever, through the miracle of recorded sound.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Billy Preston - Nothing From Nothing (1974)

Just throw this one in, you know, because it's great.

Billy Preston - Will It Go Round In Circles (1973)

Ain't this us? You think? Let the bad guy win once in a while? Let it go round in circles? Just let it all fly? And when it all lands, well, fuck all. It'll all work out, won't it? I guess we can all hope so.

Tight Rope / Leon Russell

I have always loved Leon. He's one of my collection of "non-singers." You know, like Brian Eno, or Chet Baker, guys that are definitely not technically accomplished singers, but who can sell a song so fucking hard that they can make you cry. I just had a cry myself. A friend of mine died last night, kind of in her sleep. She was only sixty years old or something, no lifestyle issues. Shit happens, you know? Wife/mother/friend/beloved teacher. RIP, Khun Pikun.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mose Allison,,,Your Mind Is on Vacation

I couldn't justify calling myself a big fan of Mose Allison, but I've always been an admirer. I had a Best of album, and I played it sometimes. He has died, and mostly I feel like hoping that his life was good and that he died easy like. RIP, Mose.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

buffalo daughter - "new rock"

Okay. Let's see what this looks like on the blog.

Looks fine. It was text-only in the dialog box on YT.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Are The Democrats Serious About Winning The Presidency?

I have blogged about this before in other contexts, but this post is an attempt to set out the evidence. I’m not convinced that the Democratic Party has been serious about wanting to win the presidency since the 1960s.

Below you will find the rough details of the Democratic nominating process for the last twelve presidential elections. Take a look, if you will, and see for yourself.

But first, some venting.

Question Number One: How many of these Democratic nominees would you say were obviously the result of a serious process designed to find the strongest possible candidate and mount the strongest possible campaign?

Question Number Two: How many of them appear in retrospect to have been throw-away candidates, predestined to lose?

The only Democrats to win election since 1964 have been Jimmy Carter (once); and Bill Clinton and Barak Obama (twice each). Now be honest, do any of those three seem like obvious, strong choices? If you’re old enough to recall Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton, did any of them make you think, oh yeah, the Democrats have this one in the bank? All three seemed like dubious propositions to me.

I’m giving George McGovern a pass. He was much more likeable than Nixon (who wouldn’t be?), and they might have thought that public sentiment against the war would carry him in.

Even of the winners, all three must be seen to have been weak candidates. The peanut farmer? The draft-dodging hippie redneck from Arkansas? The (gasp!) black African guy? I’m willing to bet that a lot of Democrats were bloody surprised when they won. After President Obama was elected, the Democrats in congress didn’t seem to know how to react themselves, and they never seemed to be strongly supporting his efforts as president.

Of the remainder, does anyone actually think that either Walter Mondale or Michael Dukakis had a snowball’s chance in hell of even coming close? I don’t think so, and I don’t think that anyone thought so at the time either.

Al Gore had a leg-up after eight years as Vice-President, and, to be fair, he actually did win the popular vote, and probably the Electoral College vote as well. If it weren’t for that (redacted; seven words) Ralph Nader, Al Gore would have had a sufficient margin to beat even those cheaters who stole it from him. Absent that stint as Vice-President, though, he’d have been an unforgivably weak candidate himself.

Well, that leaves us with Hillary. On balance, I like Hillary, but not many people agree with me. Even I have my reservations. Choosing her over her Republican opponent seemed to me to be a no-brainer. At least you could be sure that Hillary would not crash the entire world; she would continue Obama’s success with reducing the deficit and addressing that climate thing. She might even have done some good in the areas of taxation and regulation. At least you could never seriously propose that Hillary was an existential threat to the United States. No, but she is less than likeable, and only a decent public speaker, and she does seem to make a lot of people just plum angry. So yeah, the thinking obviously went, we hate Hillary, so let’s all vote for the real existential threat. Let’s roll the dice!

Hillary lost to Donald J. Trump. Let that sink in a minute.

Wouldn’t it have been advisable to wait for a woman candidate who wasn’t widely disrespected, disliked, and disapproved of? You think? Give it a shot in another four or eight years? No, let’s go with Hillary. How did that work out for you Democrats-in-charge?

I’m not convinced that Bernie Sanders could have won many of the states that went to Trump, but had he been embraced and presented correctly he would probably have done as well as Hillary did. And that’s a seventy-four-year-old Jewish socialist from Brooklyn that we’re talking about! Where were the strong, electable candidates?

Do the Democrats even care about winning?  

The Primaries:

Democratic primaries beginning with 1972 (because 1968 was just too horrible to think about):

1. 1972

Potential Nominees: George McGovern; Hubert Humphrey; George Wallace; Edmund Muskie; Henry Jackson.

Nominee: George McGovern.

McGovern was a true war hero; he was a much decorated bomber pilot who completed his tour of missions over Europe in World War II. He was also a Senator, with previous service in the House of Representatives. He was a quiet man who didn’t like to brag about his battle experience, so it was, and still is, a well-kept secret. He was seen as weak due to his reluctance to continue the Vietnam War and his willingness to entertain amnesty for draft-dodgers.

Result: lost to Richard Nixon

2. 1976

Potential Nominees: Jimmy Carter (2,200 delegates); Mo Udall (330); Jerry Brown (301).

Nominee: Jimmy Carter.

Jimmy Carter was the unknown governor of a southern state. He had an excellent and honorable service record, having been the executive officer and engineering officer of a nuclear submarine for many years. He was also seen as weak, due to his general modesty.

Result: Won over Gerald Ford, who had served out the previous term as President after being appointed Vice-President after the disastrous resignations of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

3. 1980

Potential Nominees: Jimmy Carter (10,043,000 popular votes); Ted Kennedy (7,381,000).

Nominee: Jimmy Carter, the sitting President.

Jimmy Carter was tough minded and brilliant, but he was seen as weak and unsure of himself in particular, and the country in general.

Result:  Lost to Ronald Reagan, due in some part to Reagan’s illegal conspiracy with Iran to delay the release of American hostages in exchange for weapons sales.

4. 1984

Potential Nominees: Walter Mondale (1,600 delegates); and Gary Hart (1,100).

Nominee: Walter Mondale.

Walter Mondale was Jimmy Carter’s Vice-President and a former Senator. He had zero charisma and little to recommend him for the job of leading the country in the midst of a persistent recession and high inflation. Mondale was way behind in the polls from the beginning, so as a desperate Hail-Mary play he chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. 

Result: Lost to sitting President Ronald Reagan.

5. 1988

Potential Nominees: Michael Dukakis (1,792 delegates); Jesse Jackson (1,023 delegates[!!!]); Al Gore (374).

Nominee: Michael Dukakis.

Michael Dukakis, another man with zero charisma, was the unknown governor of Massachusetts. He appeared way out of his depth on the national stage.

Result: Lost to sitting Vice-President George H.W. Bush.

6. 1992

Potential Nominees: William Jefferson Clinton (3,372 delegates); Jerry Brown (596); Paul Tsongas (289); also in the race, Tom Harkin and Bob Kerrey.

Nominee: Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton was the unknown governor of a small state. He was a decent public speaker, a former Rhodes Scholar, and a graduate of Yale Law School. He was also an obvious redneck Bubba. He did, though, have charisma.

Result: Won over sitting President George H.W. Bush.

7. 1996

Potential Nominees: Bill Clinton; Lyndon LaRouche (who won no state primaries).

Nominee: Bill Clinton.

Result: Won over Republican nominee, Senator Bob Dole.

8. 2000

Potential Nominees: Al Gore (3,000 delegates); Bill Bradley (522).

Nominee: Al Gore.

Al Gore was the sitting Vice-President. He was seen as a nerd and he was a poor public speaker. Little or no charisma.

Result: Lost to George W. Bush. (This result should have an asterisk.)

9. 2004

Potential Nominees: John Kerry (2,500 delegates); John Edwards (559); Howard Dean (167).

Nominee: John Kerry

John Kerry was a Senator with a good record of service in the Vietnam War. He was also a plodding, pompous public speaker who was completely unlikeable. He was easily attacked for his post-service history as a high-visibility anti-war protestor. He was seen as a dilatant and JFK wannabe. 
Result: Lost to George W. Bush.

10. 2008

Potential Nominees: Barak Hussein Obama (2,270 delegates; 17,584,692 popular votes); Hillary Clinton (1,978; 17,857,501).

Nominee: Barak Hussein Obama.

Barak Obama was a first term Senator from Illinois. His national exposure had consisted mostly of delivering the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. He was, and remains, a wonderful public speaker with considerable personal charisma. He also was, and remains, a youthful black American with an African name.

Result: Won over Senator John McCain.

11. 2012

Potential Nominees: Barak Obama.

Nominee: Barak Obama.

President Obama had immediately been greeted with a 100% stonewalling agenda by the Republican Party. There was zero cooperation with the President from day one. The obvious strategy was to prevent Obama from accomplishing anything at all and beat him with a stronger candidate in 2012.

Result: Won over Willard Romney (aka, “Mitt”).

12. 2016

Potential Nominees: Hillary Clinton (2,842 delegates); Bernie Sanders (1,865).

Nominee: Hillary Clinton.

After serving as First Lady during her husband’s two terms in the Whitehouse, Hillary Clinton went on to serve as Senator from New York and Secretary of State. She is a fair public speaker. Her charisma is subject to review by individual observers. She came to the election with high negatives and she was subjected to ruthless, vicious campaigning by her opponent and others that was generally based on false information. She is usually viewed as unlikeable and a mediocre campaigner.

Result: Lost to Donald J. Trump. 

It's The Jubilee Year Of The Dada Movement

Dada came into existence in Zurich, Switzerland in 1916. (With a nod to the earlier anti-art movement in New York.) A small number of like-minded young people with artistic temperaments found each other in the safe haven of Zurich and it became the Cabaret Voltaire. They came from numerous countries and they were running away from, and reacting to, the horrors of World War I. You can look around for the details; it’s all very interesting.

They were anti-war and anti-bourgeois. They reacted to the insanity of the world with art that was wild, simple, often nonsensical and generally non-reflective. They were, among many others: Hugo Ball; Emmy Hemmings; Hans Arp; Francis Picabia; and Max Ernst. They were writers, poets and artists.

Here’s an example of a “Dada sentence,” by Max Ernst:

“Thanks to an ancient, closely guarded monastic secret, even the aged can learn to play the piano with no trouble at all.”

Because everything sounds better in German, here is the sentence in the original:

“Nach uraltem, aengstlich behuetetem Klostergeheimnis lernen selbst Greise Muehelos Klavier spielen.” (I can’t get the umlauts together, sorry.)

How perfect is it that in this jubilee year we have elected Donald Trump president! That was a piece of elegant nonsense right there. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What Donald Trump Knew

November 13, 2016

President DJT saw one thing that most of us are still missing. There is a huge demographic in America that consists of more-or-less rural, kind of uneducated, predominantly white people, out in the stix somewhere, who correctly feel that no one gives a shit about them. Their jobs have been gone for a while; their social safety net has been shrinking; their education was insufficient (and the education being offered to their children IS insufficient); their towns are shrinking; their police have become predatory; their medical care is inadequate; and their politicians mostly ignore them. At the Federal level, both Republican and Democratic politicians have been ignoring them for decades. In many of the towns in states that went with Donald Trump, the biggest businesses are McDonald’s and the thrift store that sells used clothes. If that was your family in that situation, imagine how you would feel. That’s right, be honest. You’d be seeing red, red, red.

Those people are angry, and their anger is righteous. Their anger, predictably, has spread far and wide in the absence of a clear target. That was way in advance of the entry of Donald Trump into the political arena. I don’t want to list some of the groups that they have subjected to undeserved obloquy (they know who they are, and you do too), but the anger of this forgotten demographic has been simmering just below a boil for some time now.

Mr. President Donald J. Trump, most exalted ruler (please don’t fucking sue me), saw this anger and did the math. For a man whose usual manner of speaking marks him for an uneducated Rube himself, he did a wonderful job of analyzing the situation. And then, on a shoe-string, and almost alone, he set himself the task of getting elected president of the United States. And then, poof! Like in a Harry Potter movie, there he was. Unless somebody now figures out that the Russians hacked the voting machines, he will be our president on January 21, 2017.

Of all of the candidates in this election, and there were two dozen, only Trump looked this demographic in the eye and said: no one gives a shit about you except me! I’m listening! I’ll change all of this! I’ll give you your country (i.e., your lives) back! And his math was correct: there were enough of them to give him the win in enough low-electoral-vote states to win the whole prize.

Most of we coastals view the Trump voters as a bunch of overweight Walmart shoppers who spend a lot of time either tweeking or nodding out on Oxy. A bunch of cartoon hillbillies that wouldn’t move out of the Bible-tornado-alley-belt even if they could afford to. In the heat of my own anger at Trump’s election, I myself formulated the term, “The Honey Boo Boo vote.” My head is cooler now, and I apologize for that awful characterization. It is completely unfair to describe them all as low-functioning (that’s the politically correct term!). If they had to get Donald Trump elected president to make their voices heard, well, it worked. We have heard them. What we clearly need to do now is get their lives squared away so that they can rejoin the society that has for so long rejected them so that they will stop voting for any opportunistic propagandist that panders to their base instincts.

The terrible truth is that Trump said a lot of terrible things along the way to endear himself to the voters that he was courting. It wasn’t even the more usual “dog whistle politics.” That kind of statement is when you don’t really say something at all, but people hear it anyway. No, Trump came right out and said things. And many things that he has done were widely publicized, things that would prevent me from even getting some little job somewhere. Nothing seemed to hurt him, though. He spoke directly to his target voters and they heard him, and they desperately wanted to believe him because they desperately needed the help.

It’s worth noting that not all Trump voters are racist xenophobes who hate that laundry list of people that are often referred to as “the other.” Not all of them are uneducated. Although by now it’s obvious that the KKK, various neo-Nazi elements, hysterically anti-homosexual and anti-abortion religious fanatics, the Russians, and yes, the Goddamned FBI, seem to all be firmly in Trump’s corner, many of his voters were of a more reasonable type. I know many of them; many of them were teenage friends of mine. I know them to be otherwise reasonable people of above average intelligence. No, they're not all racist xenophobes, although they do all seem to tolerate that stuff very well. 

Somehow, though, they all had a sense that something had gone terribly wrong with America, and that only Donald Trump could set it right. It may have been a sense of being ignored; or a sense that something had been taken from them; or it may have been the appearance of a world that they no longer recognized. Maybe things are changing too fast for people to keep up with it all. DJT is certainly a reactionary figure; maybe Trump voters just wanted to take a Mulligan on the last fifty or seventy years.

The sad thing is that many Trump voters genuinely believe that he will do what he was talking about, at least to the extent that we could understand the vague sentences that he uttered. They seem to believe that he’s going to help them. “Thank God for President Donald Trump!” they comment on Facebook. Of course he will not help them. We know what his program will be. The Paul Ryans and the Mitch McConnels of the world make no secret of their program for the United States, and Trump has repeatedly expressed the same sentiments. It has been the same program since that prick Reagan was elected. The “drown the Federal Government in a bathtub” program. As Yogi Berra said so eloquently, “it’s déjà vu all over again.” The same old voo-doo economics, and the same old "small government/states' rights" bullshit. It didn’t work for Reagan/H.W. Bush, and it didn’t work for W. Bush, and it’s not going to work now. Watch out for those 401k’s people! Heads-up, world economy! We’ll be lucky if this crowd doesn’t wreck the dollar while they’re at it.

And when it happens, again, the Republicans, the new Trump-Republican-Axis-Of-Evil, will exploit the fact that their voters are very, very easy to fool. They will blame their failures on President Obama, or those ineffectual semi-idiotic Democrats in Congress, or “Libtards,” or the “mainstream media,” or God knows what all. And there is a disturbing probability that this year’s Trump voters are such a credulous bunch that they will believe whatever spew the Republicans and Trump throw at them, and vote for them again.

These Trump voters (I almost said, “these yokels”) will be the gift that keeps on giving. Mark my words. Our only hope is to bring them back into the fold and return them to some kind of secure prosperity so that they calm the fuck down. Is that going to happen? Why no, it’s not! And I’m afraid that many more Americans will be dragged down into Honey-Boo-Boo-Land before this is over.