Friday, November 29, 2019

Chuck Brown - Saturday Night Fish Fry

At least we can comfort ourselves with the labors of thousands of great musicians, some who remain alive and many who have already made the journey. 

Turning A Corner In 2020

There are still about twenty people running for president as Democrats, and as of today there are no Republicans in either the House or the Senate who have come out as being willing to vote for the impeachment of Donald Trump. It's safe to say, therefore, that all of our politicians, in both parties, have suffered breaks with reality, choosing instead to live in Cloud-Coo-Coo-Land.

None of those twenty Democrats are even asking the right questions. They're spinning their wheels on off-screen issues, throwing shade at each other, and confusing Democratic voters. The already-elected Democrats are busy chasing impeachment rainbows. It appears that their plan is to win in the House, which they can do, and then defy the Republicans to vote against impeachment. That's a bad plan. Winning in the House of Representatives only gets you in the door, it only allows you to force the Senate to have a trial on the Articles of Impeachment as they are filed. Then there are rules that must be followed, and there will be prosecutors from the House Democrats, and the President will be represented by counsel, and Chief Justice Roberts, a reliable Republican, will preside as the judge of the matter. Then there will be a vote, and if all of the Republicans in the Senate vote against impeaching the President, that's it. It's over. It's like nothing ever happened. Trump remains the President, screaming about “total exoneration!” and no one's mind has been changed either way.

The Democrats seem to believe that putting us all through this horrible experience will expose all of the reasons why Donald Trump is unfit to be president. They seem to think that calling attention to his shortcomings might help them beat him in 2020. They might even believe that they can convince a few Republicans to vote with them, which would result in the President being impeached. For one thing, no one in either party is suffering any doubts at all about Trump's bad character, or his unsuitability for the presidency. Also, the question for Democrats is not, “can we convince a few Republicans to vote with us?” That's a non-starter. The question is, “can we convince the Republicans that they would be helping themselves by joining in a bipartisan impeachment of that creature in the White House?”

The Democrats should have sorted out that last question before they started this whole mess. Then they all could have proceeded with bipartisan support. That would have been smart. Not proceeding without bipartisan support would also have been pretty smart, but it's too late now.

The Republicans should be asking themselves, “would we be in a better position to win the White House in 2020 with a nominee who was NOT Donald Trump?” Think about it. They get rid of Trump, they can either ignore Pence, or send him away, or just put him in a primary with an attractive candidate who will beat him. That's assuming that they could find a candidate who would actually appeal to the voters of America, voters from both parties and independents too. If they could do that, they would have a great chance at beating anyone the Democrats are likely to nominate.

No one seems to be thinking things through. No one seems to be asking the right questions. For example, although days hardly go by without some speculation as to whether Donald Trump will ever leave the White House, I have not heard anyone ask, “if Trump just refuses to leave the White House and the presidency, what can we do to force him out?”

They'd better start thinking about it.

If Trump is impeached, he'll claim that the process was unconstitutional, and he'll file a case in a sympathetic Federal court to get the result thrown out. “Sympathetic” being one of the many Federal courts now manned by unqualified hacks appointed by Trump. That will get the impeachment overturned. Then comes the appeal to the Supreme Court. Count the Republican political hacks up there now and we see where this is going. It's too late to start the impeachment all over again, and here comes the 2020 election. Trump overturning the impeachment would be the greatest recruitment tool imaginable, driving even more lunatics to his side.

If a miracle happens, and the Democrats can even agree on a nominee, and the nominee happens to win the election, Trump just claims that it was all very irregular and refuses to recognize the results. Multiple law suits are filed in multiple sympathetic Federal courts. Trump wins there, and it goes to the Supreme Court. While all of that is happening, the entire executive branch, all of the agencies, the entire military, etc., is in turmoil. Everyone remains in place while the appeal is in progress. It's total chaos, with people in the streets on all sides of all of the issues. People will get hurt, and all of the idiots now talking about a new civil war will say, “I told you so!”

Even after eight years Trump will not want to leave. Why should he? He's the President! He has a mandate! He has the power to declare emergencies of all kinds! That's when the real fun would begin. More sympathetic judges, more hacks on the Supreme Court, more militarized Federal police wandering around, more lunatic Trump fans screaming about Demon-Rats and Libtards.

What could be done to get rid of him? This question will be answered more easily sooner rather than later.

America will be turning a corner in 2020. The real question is: “will we be turning onto the on-ramp to the highway to the future, or will we be running it into a ditch?”

Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards at the Stockholm Tap Festival

Miss Dormeshia is starting to show up all over the place. The New York Times ran a big piece raving about her last week. I'm not up on my Broadway/ Dance World news, so it's all news to me. But I'll tell the world, this lady is great.

Tap dancing, at it's finest, is music. It's more than setting and staying in a time signature, the dancer must also improvise music in all of its manifestations. Not only rhythm, but also melody and harmony. Tap dancing with a band, the dancer is as much a musician as a kit-drummer or a conga player. Dormeshia can do all of this, and she makes it look easy. 

If there is one thing that tap dancing at this level is not, that's easy. It's very, very difficult.

Sunday, November 24, 2019


The P5 Official Site re-posted this a couple of weeks ago. Friends and neighbors, this shit is boss! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Seriously, This Is The Best That We Can Do?

I look around, you look around, we are all wondering the same thing. Is this the best that we can do? Ten or fifteen thousand years of observable history, with plenty of valuable clues that are even older than that, all providing insight into our natures, all readily discoverable. At least six thousand years of WRITTEN history, which should have allowed us to learn from our mistakes. After all of that doing, and recording, and learning, after all of that innovation and progress, this, our modern world, is the best that we can show for our Herculean efforts? Well, I guess it is. There are no other entries in this contest. Upon this hot mess we will be judged. And we will be judged harshly. We have failed miserably.

Human kind has made some small successes in the realms of art and literature, that is true. There are those among us who can take one of our clumsy languages and turn out something that is truly wonderful. A Bernini comes along once in a great while, a human being, just like the rest of us in most ways, who can take a piece of solid matter and extract from it a figure of miraculous beauty. We, humanity, have left in our wake some truly magnificent buildings. Impressive not only in size and scope, but in form, shape, and line. Beyond these limited successes, our legacy is a runny mess of corruption, filth, and blood. Our children are more likely fearful, crying wretches; far fewer are the happy, smiling faces. This last charge remains true as I type these despairing lines, much against our credit. It remains true in spite of the fact that there is now a sufficiency of knowledge, talent, and money to render the world a clean, safe place in which children would be allowed to thrive in peace. But, no. It's pathetic.

If all of miserable humanity were one miserable person in our midst, that person would be declared incompetent to manage their own affairs. A conservator of the person would be appointed by a court. The law would declare that allowing that person to control their own assets would result in waste, indeed, was resulting in waste. Waste benefits no one.

That, however, is exactly what we are doing. We are laying waste to every valuable thing that nature and history have handed to us. In the areas of management and administration, we are doing every single thing wrong.

Notice, if you will, that the stakes are much higher at this moment in history than they have ever been before. There are more of us; the rate at which our assets are being wasted is accelerating; our stupid management errors are destroying the very house in which we all live. My friends, we are shitting where we eat, and that is supposed to be the textbook definition of a bad idea.

As I write, yet another terrifying presidential election year is about to begin. Do any of you, dear readers, see anyone that is asking the right questions? Do you believe anyone is closing in on a workable plan for achieving a way out of our predicament? Or do you, like me, see mostly a minefield full of candidates, news-readers, pundits real and phony, oligarchs and wannabes, all stumbling around setting off bombs that injure us all. At the pinnacle of this pyramid of idiocy is a president whose sole job is to distract us while a fascist coup is taking place barely below the surface of American life.

And that's only our once great country! Looking around the world, you could count on your own fingers the number of countries that are not under immediate existential threat, or at least on the horns of some colossal dilemma or other. Me, I find it all very discouraging.

Which brings us to my point: I haven't been writing much on the blog lately. I don't need to add to the chorus of Debbie Downers that fill the media daily. I find that I am very busy just trying to quiet myself down, you know, try not to be driven over the edge by all of this amazing bullshit. So I read a novel, try to be a good partner, listen to some music, do my job, watch Netflix (in foreign languages! Those are double-distractions!). In the past, this blog has gone into high-gear for presidential election years. I don't think I'll have the energy to do that again. It's all too depressing this time.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Kevin Ayers "Shouting in a Bucket Blues"

A notable song for many reasons, but mostly, I think, as a temple dedicated to a forgotten guitar genius, Ollie Halsall. Great LP in general. 

Okay, Boomer, back in the box. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Depression Update

One of my Facebook friends good-heartedly posted something about being more aware of, and more tolerant of, our depressed comrades in life. My Comment went like this:

My advised opinion is that sufferers should grin and bear it. Getting an ounce of compassion out of anyone is almost impossible, and if you do manage to get one it will be withdrawn almost immediately and replaced with a grudge against you for requiring it in the first place. Never expect anyone who is not deeply depressed to even begin to imagine what you are going through. The psychiatric profession is useless, and their drugs are counterproductive. All you can do is hang on as long as you can, resting in the certain knowledge that death will come soon enough to relieve you of your burden. There's no need to rush it along. Good luck, sufferers! There are many people that you may not know who love you and understand your plight. We wish you the best. Self-medicate if you must, and don't pay any attention to those know-nothings who criticize you for it. It's your life, such as it is.”

I apologize if that sounds a bit rough, but it's not half as rough as being deeply depressed.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Chris Kenner - packin up

I don't feel like doing any research right now, but I've got a powerful notion to go ahead and guess that this is the follow up to "Sick and Tired," which is my favorite song. (It's official. The YouTube algorithm has figured out that I like Chris Kenner.) 

Teacher, I Have A Question!

Help me out here. I'm serious. I look around, I'm on Facebook, I read the papers (well, one “paper,” the New York Times on the Internet) and the news aggregator sites. I visit Breitbart and the Daily Caller sometimes to step out of my echo chamber. I read the good magazines for more details. The reports from every continent are uniformly terrible. Most of the people in the overwhelming majority of countries around the world are behaving very, very badly, and the behavior of almost all of the people in authority is only encouraging them to greater heights of idiocy. My question, my puzzlement, my conundrum, is: what the fuck is going on?

I accept that the world has always been substantially fucked up, but I believe, and I think that most people will agree, that it has generally been different countries taking turns being really, really fucked up. What we are looking at now is a world gone mad. This is not a World War II situation, where a couple of countries, a handful, really, went terribly wrong and started some serious cross-border wrongdoing, which initiated a general melee involving the wrongdoers being put in their place by a coalition of unwilling but surprisingly competent murderers. Oh, excuse me, the wrongdoers were not murdered, they were “killed.” Murder is a crime. Killings accomplished in wars of self-defense are privileged, they are mere homicides. Whatever. The point is that WWII was initiated by a relatively small number of people in a relatively small number of countries. The rest of the world, almost all of it, was dragged in somehow. Today we see most of the world's nations simultaneously poking around seeking to make trouble in their own countries, and in neighboring countries, and in some cases all over the place. I believe that this is an aberration unique in human history.

I would suggest a reason for all of this, but your guess is as good as mine, and in fact, your guess is almost certainly the same as mine. So let's just cant our heads to one side, raise our eyebrows, and nod gently in agreement. The most terrible aspect of all of this is that we all know what the problems are, and we all know that the problems are irremediable. We all, like a bunch of Sarah Connors, clearly see the end in the not-so-distant future, but we, like poor Sarah, can only wait for it to happen. This acceptance of mortality is considered a normal part of a long and happy life, because we can all see where life will take us, and pretty quickly too. Seeing the mortality of our entire way of life is not normal. We may even be sensing the mortality of our very species, and that would not be normal at all. These are not normal times.

So what the fuck is going on? There is nothing unique about my quandary. I wouldn't bring it up if I thought that it was only me. We can all see it panning out before us in real-time. We now have access to numerous public opinion polls masquerading as social media on a daily basis. We have hundreds, in some cases thousands, of “friends” or “followers” on one or more of the many social media platforms. Our Facebook Friends probably include some mix of family members, real long-term friends, old or new acquaintances, and current or former work-mates. The list will be expanded along the way by friends-of-friends, and in my case by a few friends-of-friends-of-friends. These last are like people that we met at a party and got along with well enough to keep in touch. These individuals, through their comments and their shares, are our windows onto the pulse of American culture. (If you are lucky, you have friends from other countries where the people are not reticent to share their true feelings in the spotlight glare of Facebook. I myself am so blessed, but I also have many friends from countries where people are forbidden by tradition or current laws from sharing their true feelings about anything at all.) These digital contacts, along with what we get of the news itself, betray the nature and extent of the problems that face us. These problems are daunting.

There are, of course, many reasonable people on social media, and they say reasonable things daily. I would say that the reasonable people have been mostly polite about it, although by now many of the reasonable people have become strident due to the growing proportions of the emergencies that we face. Some have become shrill, even, as the terror grows.

On a strictly numerical basis, most of the posts on Facebook are unreasonable. These range from the simple “do-nothing Democrats” posts, to the “violent liberal anti-Christian, anti-democracy” posts, up through the “traitorous Demon-Rats” posts, and reaching hyperbolic pathology with expressions of the “Godly-Trump” mythology. All of these examples of unreasonable posts are based on lies. Damned lies, actually, many of which are potentially libelous. Personally, I'm getting sick and tired of being accused of “hating America” by friends that I have known since we were teenagers. Or accused of “hating” them, because they say “Merry Christmas!” These dream-world inventions now suggest that half of America, the “Demon-Rat” half, one would guess, now believe that it is wrong to call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree, mandating in their legislatures that it now be called, “a Holiday tree.” These things are foolish on their face, of course. No one has ever called a Christmas tree a Holiday tree.

It only gets worse if I try to point out that I don't hate them, I love them! And how could anyone come to the conclusion that I hate America? I also love America, which would be obvious to anyone who knew the first thing about me, or had spoken with me for seven minutes, or had spent an hour or two reading this blog's back-catalog of over three thousand posts. But no. I post one actual news article from an actual newspaper describing how Bill Barr is traveling the globe trying to coerce various governments from Italy to Australia to work with him and Trump to discredit America's own intelligence community in the service of Trump's anti-impeachment efforts and all of a sudden I hate America. If I try to defend myself, my erstwhile friends bring out their trump-card, my status as an ex-pat. “If you love America so much, why don't you live here?”

Where I live has nothing to do with my feelings for my country. It has nothing to do with politics. I don't live in America because I can't afford it. It's as simple as that.

More disturbing even than those unreasonable voices on social media are the reasonable people who remain silent on any issue that could be considered remotely controversial. I enjoy their company, and the photos of their new grandchildren, really I do, and I very much enjoy the occasional “like” for a reasonable political post of mine. I respect what they are doing by remaining quiet in the current political wars. It's fine with me. I even have some friends who are now almost invisible on Facebook. They are staying away entirely, or limiting their involvement to reading only. They couldn't take all of the drama, all of the hateful rhetoric. I'm saying that I love them and I understand their position, but I did use the word, “disturbing.” Their reticence is disturbing because it renders the discourse one-sided. Facebook is top-heavy with false warnings of the Democratic Party's intentions to arrest and imprison Christians or conservatives, or put Christians in insane asylums, or maybe concentration camps. FEMA camps! There are warnings of an impending civil war, started by liberals killing conservatives and assassinating Republican leaders. This stuff is largely unanswered, and the people who believe all of it are becoming dangerously agitated. I have begun to notice that comments on my gentle political Facebook shares and posts are becoming increasingly personal and angry. Those ridiculous posts about murderous liberal scum are pure agitprop. (Agitation propaganda: false and hyperbolic images and rhetoric that is meant to stir-up the mostly uneducated or under-educated of society against a particular person or group.) That kind of thing has historically been very effective, where it has been allowed, and it is having the desired effect now.

I say, “where it has been allowed,” advisedly. That is part of the key to our futures, dear reader. We don't have to allow it. Twitter has already banned the worst kinds of untrue, inflammatory political posts. Facebook has so far insisted that it allows such things on Constitutional grounds, calling it a Free Speech issue, which is more than a little bit stupid and deeply disingenuous. Facebook is paid to run a lot of those untrue, inflammatory posts, paid a fortune. If Facebook has a financial interest that is at odds with the good of the country, one which it refuses to give up voluntarily, wouldn't it make sense for our government to force them to give it up? I'd be on the “yes” side of that argument. Free Speech my ass.

Hey, teacher! Give us a hand here! What the fuck is going on?

Well, Freddy, please try to control your language. This is not a baseball game at the park. What we are seeing now is very clearly the end of society as we have known it. Technological advances have altered the very fabric of society, even that of human life itself. Do not mourn what is past, for it is gone as completely as the dinosaurs. Do not struggle against the change, because the one thing in the world that is truly irresistible is modernity. If modernity wishes to destroy all life on earth for some reason, or for no reason at all, our role in that great drama will be small. The universe turns by the force of wheels much greater than we can begin to imagine, and for reasons that we are laughably ill equipped to appreciate. Leave the machinery of fate to its own devices, Freddy. To consider such things only brings unhappiness.”