Tuesday, May 27, 2008

If They Ain't Broke, Don't Shoot 'Em

The Rain Parade - Live at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London, UK (5/19/85) Part 1
The Rain Parade - Live at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London, UK (5/19/85) Part 2

Having one of the worst days of my "real" life today. But. But. I try to do one little thing every day to make at least one other person on this planet feel better (ain't I great!), so this is it today. Hopefully this will make someone else feel good.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Jimmy & Me

Huzzah for the Farmer from Plains!

I've taken a lot of crap over the years for liking Jimmy Carter. But I don't care. He was the first and last decent human being to be President of the United States during my lifetime. A perfect President - no way. No such thing, to be honest. (I don't love all of Obama's policy statements, but he's getting my support and vote).

One thing I've always admired about Jimmy is his courage. It took enormous courage and dedication to bring about peace between Egypt and Isreal. I remember that they pre-empted Battlestar Galactica - the original series (either the premiere or second episode, can't remember which)- for the primetime signing of the Camp David Peace Accords. I was pretty pissed at the time, but I've forgiven Jimmy for it.

And I think today he may have done the most courageous thing of his life. He publicly said that Israel probably has at least 150 nuclear weapons.

Why? The pea-brained pundits are screaming this question but not answering it - just taking this as another opportunity to bash Jimmy Carter, one of their favorite sports.

I think I know why. We'll find out someday and I'd like to get my two bits in right now. I think Jimmy made this rather shocking announcement because he hopes to avoid another pointless war. If the world at large knows that Israel has 150 or so nukes, then it also knows that in a war with Iran or any other power in the Middle East, Israel can take care of itself. It doesn't need it's big and overextended brother, the US of A, taking on Iran to protect it. Little ol' Israel can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, because it's got a wall of nuclear weapons - most of them pointed straight down Iran's gullet.

With the threat of a THIRD WAR looming over us before the election - Bush and Cheney seem to be all but promising this! - former President Jimmy Carter has boldly and courageously put himself on the line to stop it. He's already taking enormous heat for this and it's only going to get worse, but I think he doesn't care. He thought he was doing the right thing. When was the last time Bush did this? Has he ever? Will he ever? (If he vetoes the new GI Bill, he goes down as worst President ever. And he will. He will).

Once again, I am extremely proud of Jimmy Carter. Huzzah for the Farmer from Plains!

Next Stop, Mars!

Sun Ra would've been thrilled if NASA could've timed their new probe's landing just a little better, a few days earlier, but what the heck - it's close enough! I'll take it as a birthday present from space for both of us. Check out the photogallery - pretty damn cool.

One of the best days of my childhood was June 20, 1976. Viking I touched down on the surface of Mars - Mars, dammit! - and I can still feel the Wisconsin State Journal in my hands, as I unfolded it standing in our dining room, almost trembling with excitement, to look at those first beautiful color photos of Mars. A blue sky - Mars has a blue sky!

But it really didn't. The first images weren't color-corrected. But for a day I was wandering around on Mars everywhere I went under a pale blue sky.

The sky may be red or pink or whatever in reality, but I'm still hoping I can someday go there. Or my son can. Earth is not enough, folks - for the sake of our hearts alone, we have to keep going. There's problems to fix on this planet, yes, but there's money and human resources galore to fix them and to go out into space. Those with the power and control of the resources would like us to think otherwise, says the paranoid spaceman in my head, so that they can continue their wars and their petty squabbles and their ignorant hatreds. The rest of us can leave them here to rot, I sometimes think, but I guess that's not fair. That's the angry spaceman talking.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

An End to Patience

I have been trying very hard to be patient and nice regarding the campaign of Hillary Clinton for the last few weeks. I decided I would try and be gracious to her and her supporters as the inevitable truth sunk in to them that she would not be able to win the Democratic nomination. Early indications from the Clinton campaign were that she and they intended to gracefully ride out the rest of the primary season. This would have been fine. Give Clinton her due - she did spend an awful lot of money, time and treasure on this endeavor and she deserved to end it on her own terms.

But. But. But.

For some reason, Hillary Clinton can't accept defeat. Not graciously at least. If anything, the last few weeks have seen some of the bitterest and foulest campaigning from Clinton this entire primary season. From her completely open and boldfaced invitation for America's "hard-working" whites to accept their inner racist to her supposed slip-of-the-tongue last Friday, about Robert Kennedy and his assassination, Hillary Clinton has proven repeatedly that she is the least ready, least qualified candidate for the Presidency.

(Contrary to most of the media, I find nothing admirable in her supposedly courageous "I'm a fighter" mentality. She is pulling the Democratic party apart with it and alienating herself and her supposed base from the real issue in the upcoming general election - keeping McCain from continuing George Bush's failed policies. Truly courageous people, true fighters, know when to bow out rather than tear themselves apart and lose what they are fighting for by destroying it. Clinton doesn't. She is out of control and the DNC should be ashamed of itself for not having the guts to take her on and end this farce by getting the superdelegates to come out for Obama to end this. It's pathetic.)

Hillary Clinton's bold-faced "Audacity of Pandering" is disgusting. As is her willingness to alter reality at the drop of a hat, so long as it suits her ambitions. Every part of her recent remark on June campaigns, for example, is an outright twisting and distortion of historical fact, leaving aside the awful assassination comment. I do not buy any excuse offered by her or her campaign for this remark. She had said something similar in a print interview already. Thus the idea of winning this election through the death of her opponent has obviously crossed Clinton's mind enough so that she can casually allude to the subject without thinking.

Almost worse, her absolute unwillingness to actually apologize for the remark or admit that saying it was a mistake is just too much for me. In her own opinion piece this morning, she goes on at length about how others are to blame for the controversy regarding her statement. She takes no responsibility for it at all. It's "some" nameless others - the media? the Obama campaign? black Americans? who does she mean by this vague "some" reference - who are distorting reality. Not her, not Hillary Clinton.

One thing has become clearly obvious to the entire nation in the last few weeks. Hillary Clinton will lie to any person, any group, at any time and on any subject to win this election, because winning it is the only important thing to her. Not her party, not her country. We don't need another President that cannot take responsibility for his or her actions and twists the truth as casually as the rest of us breath. We already have a President that does that, has done that for eight years - I don't want or need another.

Vote Obama!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Superhero Appreciation Week - Sun Ra

Sun Ra - Live at Peabody's, Cleveland, OH (1991) Part 1
Sun Ra - Live at Peabody's, Cleveland, OH (1991) Part 2

Happy Birthday, Sun Ra! Happy Birthday, me! Yesterday was the natal anniversary of the arrival upon Planet Earth of Le Sony'r Ra, Herman "Sonny" Blount, Sun Ra - the intergalactic man of of musical mystery! And today is mine. Yahoo.

It would be trivializing it if I said that Sun Ra changed my life. Because he didn't. He changed my heart and my mind.

Twenty years of Ra and counting now. I first saw Sun Ra in the summer of 1988. June 14th precisely. What better for a sci-fi freak than a musical hero from another planet? Nothing, if you ask me. Nothin' at all.

The place was the wonderful Barrymore in Madison, Wisconsin (talked about a bit in my post on the Mekons - look it up). It was a perfect early Wisconsin summer evening, not too hot or too cold, neither too dry nor too humid. If you haven't had a summer in Wisconsin, you should think about it. It defines summer.

It was a trio that went into the Barrymore - Larry and me and Doug. But I'd split myself in two several times over by the time we left. Dunno about those guys. I'm still looking for some of those parts. I don't know where the hell Doug went after the show - he just disappeared in his mysterious way. Larry and I split up but then found each other again, maybe we'd planned it, I dunno, but we had fun making very big sandwiches in his parent's kitchen sometime in the middle of the night. We didn't eat them, just made them. They were lovely. Around sunrise we finally ended it.

Everything has to end, I guess. Like "Superhero Appreciation Week." Everything except music and friendship. Going to see Larry and his lovely wife (The Fox!) in a few weeks. I'll let ya'all know how hot Memphis is in June.

PS This is a very rare Ra show. I got it directly from the taper in trade a few years ago. Really nice audience recording. I don't have a setlist, though a few tunes are obvious, like "Prelude to a Kiss." Enjoy!

Now playing: Green On Red - No Free Lunch
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Serious Reasons Not to Vote for John McCain #2

The long sought after, by JohnMcCain, endorsement of Rev. John Hagee. 'Nuff said.

Possible alternate title for this post: "That's What HE Said!" Yes, I watch The Office, probably too much. I bet you do, too.

POSTSCRIPT: McCain had to reject the endorsement of Hagee today. Too bad, because I was hoping to see video of the Jew and Catholic-hating Hagee to go viral, online and off. A few weeks of anti-Semitic slant to the McCain campaign would pretty much kill it.

I do have to wonder, though, what price this comes at for McCain. If any. How much behind the scenes work will Hagee, who says he withdrawing from public participation in the campaign, be doing. Quite a lot is my estimate. McCain only rejected this endorsement in words. I think he's still got it in votes.

Now playing: Agincourt - Kind Sir
via FoxyTunes

The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde

The walls are falling in Bush's Jericho! (Hmmm, Jericho, is that in the Middle East?!?)

Evidence? Joe Lieberman's vaguely threatening McCarthy-esque letter to Google about the content of YouTube. Independent Joe demands to know what these Internets folk are going to do about the "terrorist" videos on their site. Total blanket censorship is all he wants - what's so bad about that?

Seriously: Ol' Joe thinks he's more powerful than Google and YouTube. Really. It's funny as hell. Read his letter - Joe is so full of himself and his "power" that it's parody.

And then there is the White House's scathingly insane letter to NBC about their editing (wha?) of an interview with Bush. In which Bush appears as an idiot. The White House should be quite glad that they edited the interview. I've watched cut and uncut versions - he comes off much worse in the original footage. They also want to know why NBC is lying to us about the country being in a "recession" - they shouldn't be using that word, it's deceptive. Think about that for one second. Now, laugh. Then, cry.

What are they trying to do? After years of puppy-dog trotting along behind Bush and whatever crazy thing he says and does, just repeating it verbatim as "news" to the American people, the traditional media has finally remembered it has an independent voice and a responsibility. And that silly Internets company thinks it's better than a United States Senator? Well! (If these two attacks weren't orchestrated by the White House, I'll vote for McCain this fall).

Hallelujah? I dunno. Took 'em freakin' long enough. Don't know whether or not I really should praise them. Maybe money is talking at NBC and MSNBC. When Wonder Woman (aka Rachel Maddow) took over for Olberman last Friday night, talking truth, their ratings went through the roof! One can hear the rust flaking off of long-unused brain cells: "Perhaps there IS something in this honest reporting, after all. Hmmm. Ratings? Money?" Google just doesn't have to care. The corporate internationals have more power than the governments now. Hats off to Philip K. Dick, kids!

But, like the spoiled brats and bullies they are, Bush and Co. cannot take this newly discovered sense of responsibility the media has shown. And they are sending nasty letters about it, be sure! You'll get one, too, Fox News! Oh, wait. Scratch that last sentence.

Superhero Appreciation Week - Johnny Thunders

Johnny Thunders - Live in Geneva, Switzerland (1985)

Johnny, Johnny! Oh, how I miss ya, sweet Johnny boy!

I saw Johnny Thunders live. I wrote a poem about Johnny Thunders. I dreamed Johnny Thunders kissed me on the lips. Three of these three statements are true - but which three?

I think the info is correct on this show. But I've had a notoriously difficult time in the past dating and placing Thunders' gigs that I have. The setlist is probably right. Probably. Johnny don't like to be pinned down, even in death. So like him.

New York Dolls. Heartbreakers. Johnny Thunders. Johnny taught me how to rock. That simple. And like he sang, you can't put your arms around a memory. But sometimes you wanna try.

RIP, Johnny. Buy shit, for a memory.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Black Eagle Flies at Midnight!

You know people whose entire home decor is based on Native American/Indian themes. Admit it. Livin' in the heartland, I sure do.

What do you see when you go over to their house? Rugs and wall hangings, vases, statuettes of white wolves, buffalo, Indian princesses, lots of leather and wood furniture and - of course - eagle feathers or feathers meant to look like eagle feathers. And some sage hanging in a bunch on the wall.

Not my first choice in home decor. It's a look that can be exquisite or kitschy or just plain ugly. But it's telling about how, in our America, people - usually white - feel disconnected from their own culture and adopt themselves into another. To feel more like an American and feel more connected to the Earth, what's a white boy or girl gonna do? Be an Indian.*

Now Obama is an Indian. For real. He has been adopted by the Crow and his new name is Barack Black Eagle! Though the story isn't specific about the how, he is also named "One Who Helps People Throughout the Land."

What's really cool about this is not the name, though that's admittedly pretty cool. It's the reaching out to a set of voters that have been totally ignored, for decades, by Democrats and Republicans alike. This is the new kind of political map Obama is drawing, pushing the lines in completely different directions. Screw Blue and Red states and even Purple. His campaign is about changing all of that. That's why he's won so big in states that don't normally go Democratic. That's what Clinton doesn't get (or does but is afraid to admit). Clinton and McCain want to play by the Old Rules but Obama has decided to throw them out the window. He's rewriting the rules as he goes, based on an extremely well thought out plan.

The lesson for today: Do not underestimate the Black Eagle!

* I don't think the term "Indian" is derogatory. One of my best friends as a boy was an Indian. (Hi, Craig!) I know some Indians call themselves such and think that "Native American" is actually the pejorative as it delegates them to some kind of revered but inconsequential status. It's a blow off, in other words. Correct me if you think I'm wrong. (Hey - it ain't called the "American Native American Movement," is it?)

Note: I had to use the Crying Indian picture, a child of my times as I am, even though he was really Italian.

'Nother Note: Regarding home decor. I contrast two different homes in my head when I think of this style. One was a neighbor. If it had an Indian theme and could be bought at a dollar store, it was in their home. I didn't care for it, but it was their home. We get bug-eyed glances when people come into our house, I can assure you. (Not too many people have a framed movie poster for Soylent Green in their living room. And the books! How people stare at the books!) The other was my buddy Mike's place. I call it "Native Minimalist" - it was lovely. White walls and simple touches of Indian art or artifacts, combined with other historical "things" and usually at least one beautiful guitar. That I liked. Plus, the beer was always cold. And the grill was always just a splash of gasoline from ready.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Superhero Appreciation Week - Jonathan Richman

Jonathan Richman - Live at The Schauberg, Bremen, Germany (6/3/85) Part 1
Jonathan Richman - Live at The Schauberg, Bremen, Germany (6/3/85) Part 2

Jonathan is one of my heroes. From the first second of the first Modern Lovers' song that I heard, I was in love, in awe, a devotee for life. Jonathan gave me a way of understanding the world, an ethical pathway, that helped me negotiate the horrors of high school while retaining my sanity. "Girlfriend" and "I'm Straight" and every damn song he sang was like church music to me. He taught me it was okay to be a romantic in an unromantic world, a man with a soft heart in a world that valued hardness, a guy who really does like to have a girl or a woman as a friend. Because of all this, and for literal decades of pleasure from his music, Jonathan is one of my superheroes this week.

This is a cool boot, too. I think it's two distinct sets from the same evening. A couple songs get repeated in set two, but that don't matter. Jonathan doesn't bore. My wife and I saw him at the long-gone O'Cayz Corral, back in '89 or '90, and by the last song of the night, the only thing you could hear in that jam-packed bar was his perfect voice and guitar. Not a mutter from the crowd, not a glass tinkling. The song was "Girlfriend" and it was perfect - hundreds of people holding their collective breath to catch every syllable - until the drunk next to me started yelling along to the chorus. I nearly killed a man, that night. But Jonathan wouldn't have liked that.

And, for a hero, buy shit!

Now playing: dB's, The - Ups and Downs
via FoxyTunes

Weird Reaons to Vote for Obama # 5

It ain't the 1960s anymore, baby!

Yeah, I may love a lot of the music and literature and style of the sixties, and admire quite a bit of the political activism of the era, but - dammit, Boomers! - the Sixties are over!

We don't need another political campaign centered on re-hashing forty year-old college arguments of Left v. Right. Vietnam is over - we have a new war to deal with! Focus on this one. We don't need another "War at Home" because we got plenty of wars already.

What's got my goat about Boomers? Besides their overbearing sense of entitlement, their arrogance, their know-it-all and know-better-than-you attitudes, their shame-on-you finger wagging, their resource-draining lifestyles and their seeming inability to just die already and let the rest of us run our lives for the first time ever? I dunno. Not much, really.

Okay - much of the above is sheer hyperbole. Meant to get a rise, a reaction. But here's just one example that's ticking me off - the NARAL endorsement of Obama. I think they did the perfect thing at the perfect time by endorsing him now. Wait a month and their endorsement would be lost in the flood that's gonna pour out after June 3rd. It's the best chance they have to come out strong and attract new, younger women to their cause. Good for NARAL, I say.

But if you've read any articles about this, then you've read the comments from Clinton's 50+ women supporters who are outraged at NARAL. They are screaming of betrayal and simply cannot understand why this organization they worked so hard for in their youth would kick them and their candidate in the posterior now. Some of the online comments are quite nasty.

NARAL and the women who support it are end products of the 1960s. Without the incredible struggles of women against cultural and legal restrictions that the feminist movement fostered, the political and social rights of women today would be as limited and stultifying as they were in the 1950s. I have nothing but admiration for these courageous women, but...they need to take a step back and disengage themselves from the past for a few moments. Clinton supporters of this era, if their blog posts and remarks to the media are any indication, are running on nostalgia and anger right now, a weird and blinding cocktail. Like those they struggled against in the 60s and 70s, they have set up blinders against the future.

What I'm hearing is an oddly ageless tirade: "If we yell loud enough and long enough, everyone will shut up and see that we are right and they'll stop all this silly nonsense and things'll go back to being they way they're supposed to be, the way we want them to be!" Sound familiar? It's the song of the past, of the doomed.

PS Isn't Obama kicking in this picture? That's the President I want to see getting off of Air Force One, man!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Serious Reasons Not to Vote for McCain #1

Lame Duck President. From Day One.

McCain, if elected, will in all probability face a Congress completely controlled by the Democrats. Not a single legislative proposal from his desk will be passed, at least for two years. And those first two years are pretty crucial. It's usually the only time a first-term President does any real work. The last two are for term-two campaigning. Though, maybe, McCain may not think he's got a chance at a second term and decided to bulldoze his way along until the end. It'd be his only chance of getting any legislation passed, assuming a change in the Congressional makeup in 2010, which Pat Buchanan (!!!!) was wildly predicting on MSNBC this morning. But has that ever happened?

McCain is right now promising the stars to his rather weak base, spinning tales of the bright and happy future his mere election will result in for the nation (sounds kinda like the "Kool-Aid dreams" that Obama supporters are accused of indulging in, if you ask me). But those stars are falling as he speaks, I'm afraid. He knows it. If you watched his big, grand speech (meant, again, to echo Obama's style I think), there's not a lot of passion in his performance. Much like Clinton's after last Tuesday. The fire is out.

Addendum: This post was prompted by an exchange with a regular visitor to the 'Disease in the comments section yesterday. Mr. Nomad, a great blogger, got me thinking about how I should be approaching issues here. I have to thank him for the kick in the ass and I hope he'll leave a note or two. Hint, hint? Anyone else interested, please comment too. Let's talk - we're not enemies, we're Americans. We do that.

Friday, May 16, 2008

How Does It Feel To Feel?

The Lime Spiders - Live at the Royal Antler Hotel, Narrabeen, Sydney, Australia (11/11/83) Part 1
The Lime Spiders - Live at the Royal Antler Hotel, Narrabeen, Sydney, Australia (11/11/83) Part 2

The Lime Spiders - Live at the Dee Why Hotel, Sydney, Australia (4/4/85) Part 1
The Lime Spiders - Live at the Dee Why Hotel, Sydney, Australia (4/4/85) Part 2

I could never find any of the 'Spiders albums way back when, in those pre-digi-Dark Ages of yore. But I did have a cassette copy of The Cave Comes Alive with that wretched Charles Manson album dubbed on the flipside. My buddy Chet gave it to me. Chet was a great drummer and we both lost appreciable amounts of our hearing in his buddy Randy's (aka Red) soundproofed basement jam room. Or at least we thought it was soundproofed. The neighbors begged to differ, I understand.

Anyway, the 'Spiders were always more legendary thus in my mind since being so rare. Nowadays, thanks to the Intertubes, we can find their music with ease. Right? Not so right. But check out their website anyway, because - It's THE RETURN OF THE LIME SPIDERS! (That's reason enough for two shows, right?)

Many thanks to Andrew who provided the setlists for these two shows. The kindness of strangers is wonderful! (Andrew is open for trades, so check out his site!)

And buy shit!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Mind is BLOWN! (by Chris Matthews?)

Two, count 'em, two nights in a row - Chris Matthews is my hero! Damn.

First, he stands up to Pat Buchanan's racist meltdown Wednesday night with an honest and simple but bombshell effective response. And, now, tonight, he rips down the historically-challenged right-wing radio nutjob Kevin James with simple facts and reality. Damn.

If you missed either, check these out:

What's happened? Did Matthews get a new sense of ethics in the mail? Size twelve? With an extra hard steel-coated toe?

I dunno, I dunno, but I hope he keeps it up. Probably all that time with Rachel Maddow is finally having a positive effect on him. But keep it up, Chris, keep it up.

For those interested in knowing about the REAL Nazi sympathizers in our history, check out this bit at Daily Kos and then follow the link to the full story. Bush should be ashamed of himself. Should be, but ain't. And we'll be lucky if even one major media organization dares to run with this story.

What We Are Striving For

Here's Rep. Henry Waxman today, from his endorsement of Barack Obama:

"The moment President Obama takes office, we'll send a powerful message to the world that America is back and ready to lead again--that we haven't abandoned the values that made us the light of the world, and neither should anyone else."

Kudos, Waxy! And I dig that crazy lipcover, too, man - it's totally you!

Seriously, though, Rep. Waxman, you nailed one of the reasons I'm voting for Obama. The America I love is an inspirational leader, not a bully. The America I love is a beacon of enlightenment, not a bonfire of enemies. The America I love is the America that Barack Obama loves and wants to restore.

Vote Obama!

Now playing: E.I.E.I.O. - Blue Mountaintop
via FoxyTunes

Cool Cover of the Week #1

Nope, not cover songs - book covers! We're fairly obsessive bibliophiles, my wife and I, me way more than she, and - gosh! - we do love a good cover illustration. So, I'm going to start going through our collection, in no particular order, and throw you all a little eye candy, hopefully once a week. (Click on the pic for a bigger version).

The April Robin Murders
by Craig Rice and Ed McBain
Dell Books, August 1959

Great cover, eh? You want to read this now, right? My guess is that while you may know Ed McBain (hugely bestselling author of the 87th Precinct series of police procedurals for, oh, DECADES!), you're probably scratching your fuzzy chin about this Rice fella, eh?

Scratch no more! Craig Rice was once upon a time the much better-known name of these two authors. Hence McBain taking second billing here. Rice wrote at least two dozen novels, all of them worth reading - nay, worth savoring! One of them has the greatest book title ever. Don't you just drool at the idea of reading a mystery called The Big Midget Murders? Huh, huh - don'cha just! Go read the Wikipedia entry and find out the truth behind the name, too. Craig weren't no Craig at all.

Anyway, I don't think there are any Rice books back in print these days, but they are worth scouring the used bookstores and library sales for. We didn't even know we had this title on our shelves until two weeks ago! It had gotten stuck in with the McBain books years ago, before we discovered Rice, and forgotten about. It's little surprises like this that make life so sweet.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Worst Band Name Ever

Echo & the Bunnymen - Live at the Arena, Rotterdam, Holland (3/18/83) Part 1
Echo & the Bunnymen - Live at the Arena, Rotterdam, Holland (3/18/83) Part 2

Yup. I couldn't get into 'the Bunnymen in the 80s because of the name. I used to get all embarrassed at the idea of buying and owning an album by a band with such a name.

My loss. In retrospect, an incredible band and a stupid move on my part. I lost years of happy joy ear fun time. But I'm making up for it now.

I have about a half-dozen shows but this is my favorite. I like the way the guitars go "clankity-clank" on this one.


Now playing: Julian Cope - Christmas Mourning
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Julian Cope - Love L.U.V.
via FoxyTunes

Noise of the Now

Wolfgang's Vault has become my default radio station at work. When I don't know what I want to listen to, I just click around in their list of artists and try something. Live Music Archive, the same, but it's interface is much more tedious and you don't always know if every show will stream and I'm basically a very, very lazy man. A lazy sod.

So I've stuck a widget at the bottom of the sidebar for an awesome Roky Erickson tune. Click on the link and hear the whole show for free. I think you have to register, but that's free, too. I'll change the tunes every once in a while, but it'll be some time before I'm tired of hearing Roky.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Posing for Pictures

13th Floor Elevators & Roky Erickson Photos - For Sale

I've been a member of the TexasPsych discussion list for ten or so years now, and they've been responsible for unleashing dozens of otherwise unavailable live recordings of the 13th Floor Elevators and Roky Erickson upon the world, all for free, all for the love of the music. They also helped put thousands of dollars in Roky's pocket at a time when he most needed it.

Now, the list moderator has arranged a deal to present the fans with one of the coolest offers in rock memorabilia history - exclusive limited edition prints of rare 'Elevators and Roky photos from the 60s!

Here's what the photographer, William Warner has to say about these photos:

For a number of reasons, mostly interpersonal with the usual suspects and also professional and temperamental, these pictures have remained under wraps and unseen, for the most part, for over forty years. The only examples that have been published are the few pictures that once appeared in Mother Magazine, way back when, and a small set that were derived from some prints that I loaned to a friend, who then gave them out without my permission, leading to them be endlessly ripped off and used on bootleg CDs and so forth. The rest remained something for Indiana Jones to get ahold of.

Unlike most of the people who took photos of the Elevators back in 1967-68, who were, for the most part, just taking snapshots at the time, I was working hard, even though just a teenager, at my goal of producing pictures just like my role models at the time, the photographers of Life Magazine. People like W. Eugene Smith, Alfred Eisenstadt, and so forth. I was also, at the age of fifteen, out of school and at liberty to do what I wanted and go where I wanted, with a pretty much bottomless supply of film. So, I met the Elevators in February 1967 and then began hanging with them and photographing almost their every appearance in Houston, right up through the time the group disintegrated, after Easter Everywhere.

As a result, my work was not only in depth, but I was "on a mission" to do good quality portraits and coverage of the bands back then. My negatives and slides were also well organized and kept in order for all the years after, so nothing was lost or misplaced. I also worked as the backstage photographer for KILT and concert promoters back then, and so got up close and personal pics of Hendrix, Jim Morrison, The Stones, and many others.

Wow, is all I can say. They are taking pre-orders now and have to reach a minimum number of only 25 sets in order to make this a reality, for a measly $199.97 + $24.97 Shipping to US Addresses!

I don't intend to shill stuff here like this very often if ever again, but I wanted some hardcore music lovers to know about this. And that's you folks!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Great Edwardian Air Raid

Paul Roland - Live at Siena, Italy (1987)

Oooh, weirdo British songwriter time - I love weirdo British songwriters! This week we'll have some non-US artists in the spotlight at the 'Disease, starting with Paul Roland.

Burnt Orchids was the first Roland album I bought, because the clerk at the record store (B-Side on State Street in Madison - still there!) had put a sticker on it that read "Featuring Robyn Hitchcock!" Kind of a lie. I think Robyn is on maybe one song. And honestly, though I liked the songwriting, I thought the arrangements and production stunk. I was ready to file Roland under "Been There, Done That" and go on with my life.

But then he put out another album, Danse Macabre. First - great title. Second - cool cover. Third - awesome song titles. See the title of this post for evidence. I shilled out my cash and scuttled home.

And I was absolutely delighted! To my ears, Roland had reinvented himself as a strange baroquely pop psychedelic songster of the nth degree. Words like "enchanting" and "lovely" drifted through my mind. Danse Macabre is a beautiful little booklike collection, a bunch of tiny stories, delicate and weird and hypnotically entrancing, a complete gem. (Dig around in the old 'Disease to hear it.)

Enjoy this rockin' little set from Roland, doing a few songs from Danse Macabre but mainly tunes from Duel. It's short but fun and worth your time.

Oh, did I mention - buy shit!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

File Under: Huh? Wha?

I've written before about racism in this primary season, but I've been flummoxed this week by the Clinton campaign's recent statements about "hard-working whites" or whatever the exact phrase was. Honestly, I'm so equally astonished and pissed off by it that I can't bring myself to look it up again and get the quote right. I don't want to read it again.

What in the name of Larry "Bud" Melman (whitest guy I can immediately think of) was she thinking? This is the sound of the Universe falling in on her - that's the only explanation I can come up with. Clinton is assuring herself a place in the history books this week, if only as the candidate of the most openly racist presidential campaign of the last three decades.

I never thought I'd feel sorry at all for Hillary Clinton, but I kinda do today. Yet I still feel more anger than pity. Her political career, now, I hope, is in the toilet. After this I hope never to see her or her husband play a crucial role in American politics ever again. They have debased themselves and the Democratic party and insulted the American electorate.

Maybe the best thing we can all do now is what the Obama campaign has begun to do - ignore her. Screen all calls and mark her emails as spam. Don't let her play any reindeer games.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lost & Found

Lost-In-Tyme is lost no more!

Return to the psychedelic (or the garage or whatever you prefer) because the ultimate resource for out-of-print music has returned. Praised by artists and fans alike, celebrate the new and improved LOST-IN-TYME (heavy reverb-b-b-b-b-b!!!).

I've already started posting, btw. There's a Last Exit album up right now that you can enjoy and I've got a handful more ready to go.

The fun begins - again!

Now playing: Charalambides - You In You
via FoxyTunes

Brass Tacks and Back Taxes

Cindy McCain, wife of John McCain, current Republican frontrunner in the campaign for the Presidency (can't call him the nominee because officially he ain't), won't release her tax information. Not ever. No never. Nuh-huh, ain't gonna happen.

This points directly at the heart of my opposition to McCain as a candidate. He has completely endorsed the Bush idea of non-accountability. Doesn't matter if other candidates and their spouses release their tax info - doesn't matter if that opens a clearer path of communication between candidate and voter - doesn't matter at all - because McCain can and will do what McCain wants regardless of how it will be perceived. (Perception is 99 percent of the political game, ya know).

Two things here. First, the above mentioned embrace of non-accountability. He just shrugs, throws off a folksily Reaganesque "My dear friends" and slides away from the question. It's do what I say, not what I do, and don't expect me to fess up to doing or saying anything no matter how it conflicts with the confirmed record. The new flap over his voting or not-voting for Bush in 2000 is an excellent example. I wonder if that explains the strange look on McCain's face in the picture above? Is he trying to keep from hemorrhaging from his ears? Seriously, that's an odd expression.

Second, the press covering his campaign freakin' love him. After every event, they all crowd around Big John in his leather chair in the back of the bus and he talks and talks and talks about absolutely nothing at all until their wee lil' minds are so full they cannot take any more and the engines blow! What a guy, what a great guy! That's what they all say. When's the next BBQ, John? is the only substantive question any of them are likely to ask.

It's sad. Because until they can stopper their ears and keep the Pied Piper from seducing them, they won't be able to do their jobs. Thankfully, there's plenty of people who don't get to sit on Unka John's knee while he tells them stories, people outside the bus, outside the traditional media, who can't hear the beguiling tones or smell the barbeque sauce.

Hail to the bloggers! Saviors of democracy!

I just wish some of them would spell check more frekuently.

POSTCRIPT: Notice please that I am no longer referencing the Republican frontrunner as McCrazy. I decided to give him more respect than he's showing to the nation. Characterize him as arrogant and condescending by calling him "Big John" and "Unka John" I will probably continue to do. Depends on how pissed I am.

Now playing: Luna - Into the Fold
via FoxyTunes

America, Do You Remember?

James Blood Ulmer - Live in Warsaw, Poland (6-19-98) Part 1
James Blood Ulmer - Live in Warsaw, Poland (6-19-98) Part 2

I think I mentioned in a long-ago post a compilation tape my oldest brother made for me one Christmas, a hodgepodge of "crap" he thought I'd like, as I had no discernible taste in his eyes. Best present ever.

Side two opened my eyes, ears and heart to the wonder of the electric guitar. Mixed up with The Stooges and The Nomads was this...thing...like no other thing I'd ever heard. It was an alien broadcast, maybe, from another star or maybe another dimension, raw bass and drums and skittering, jumping, unsettling bursts of guitar notes, all distorted and low and dirty and sexy, sexy, sexy.

Who was that guitarist? Wow, that couldn't be true, could it? James "Blood" Ulmer? But it was, it was. Grubbing around in a cut-out bin a year later I finally found a cassette copy of the album that song was from - Freelancing. I was afraid to play it, afraid that that one song, the title track, would be the only good song on the album, but I needn't have been afraid. Freelancing is simply one of the greatest guitar albums ever made, in rock/jazz/blues/funk - whatever the genre you want to stuff it into. Doesn't matter because it transcends them all. And it's influence is unknowable.

I wish this was an 80s show to share with you, closer to the gnarly jazz-rock-funk of that time, but this is a great gig nonetheless. You get to hear a bit of Ulmer's bluesier recent work here, too, which is total ear-candy. Bucky Pope, guitarist for the Tar Babies, once told me that Ulmer and Ornette were the two greatest influences on his playing. I believe him, too. You can still find some Tar Babies over at my old site and one of these days I'm gonna put up a live show or two here.

Until then, you know the routine, buy shit!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Weird Reasons to Vote for Obama #4

Because we can.

There is a thing much talked about in this country, given faint praise by the powers that be, but never truly practiced - grass roots democracy. This year, in 2008, 232 years after the founding of our republic, we the freakin' people are actually going to decide who we want to be President, with our sweat, our time, our words, our actions and our money.

Pretty cool, huh? I've been waiting my whole adult life for something like this to happen. I honestly never thought it would. I didn't think any candidate would ever have the courage to try and play politics in America by truly appealing to and connecting with the people rather than the monied interests.

I know this is incredibly offensive, frightening and/or totally incomprehensible to so many people, especially supporters of candidates that cannot embrace the new and the will of the people, but it looks like for the first time in our history we may actually have a true candidate of the people running for President of the United States.

I'll be buying a bottle of cheap domestic champaign to celebrate come election night, you can count on that! (American made hootch! With a flag pin stuck in the cork!)

Vote Obama!

NOTE: The above rare historical photo is the only known image of Lincoln at Gettysburg. If you squint, you can make him out. Thankfully, he was slightly taller than the average 19th century man. There is no known explanation for the anachronistic appearance of Kermit the Frog in this image. It does not appear on the negative, only on prints. This phenomena has been observed in hundreds of photos from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Scientists are baffled.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What She Said

Rachel Maddow was right last night and everybody else was wrong. As usual.

Yesterday I read the story about how Clinton, when asked about the required number of delegates needed to cinch the nomination, said she thought it was "2209" -- a few numbers off the actual number of 2028 that the DNC claims are needed. Why did she say this?

I thought then and so did Rachel, who tried valiantly to convince all the smarter-than-thou white (and one black) males on MSNBC last night, that this was a throw-down, a gauntlet from the Clinton hand, the message being: "I'm taking this to Denver. I'm not dropping out!"

But as much as it pains me, I have to disagree with one part of Rachel's analysis. This was said in the afternoon when she and her people all fully expected a sizeable win in Indiana - not the "squeaker" she got. That and the hoped-for miracle of either besting or coming very close to Obama in North Carolina would have "closed the deal" for Clinton and left staying in the race a no-brainer.

Today, she has no hopes of getting the needed delegates, even if she somehow forces the acceptance of Michigan and Florida by the DNC, the money will by drying up, superdelegates will come out for Obama even more handily and the popular vote is against her (again). The only metric she can use is that she is more electable. And that one only works from the peculiar side of the looking glass the Clinton campaign has been peering dimly through for the last few months.

But she still ain't gonna quit. She may not last to the convention, but I think she's still gonna try and bleed every possible delegate and vote she can from Obama in the remaining few weeks. I don't even like to think about the why of this anymore, but I'll be amazed if she doesn't. Rachel was right.

Now playing: Wooden Shjips - We Ask You To Ride
via FoxyTunes

The Ghost is Clear

Sonny Sharrock - Live at the Jazz Festival, Zurich, Switzerland (10/31/87) Part 1
Sonny Sharrock - Live at the Jazz Festival, Zurich, Switzerland (10/31/87) Part 2

Sonny Sharrock is dead! Long live Sonny Sharrock!

Continuing with the "jazz" theme this week - told you there would be themes - this is an awesome set by an awesome player - cosmic Coltrane-esque jazz guitar at its finest! Last Exit, Machine Gun, his solo work - it's all worth your serious ear-time. Especially the near-perfect Ask the Ages with Pharoah Sanders. I had some Machine Gun already, but this is the album that completely made me a drooling psychotic Sharrock fanboy the instant I cranked it up on my little sister's admittedly superior stereo one night right after it came out. I nearly passed out from the bliss! It was his last released album before his death in 1994, too. Get yourself a copy of this - I don't know if it's in print anymore - and Sonny's earlier, more metallic and slightly dated-sounding Seize the Rainbow (the production does not serve it well). You'll be a happier person.

Maybe you only know Sonny's sound from the original opening theme of the Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast show. That's okay, that's cool, that's fine. Shows you got good taste if it's true. Space Ghost rules! But download this one and give it a listen, learn a lesson. Jazz guitar ain't all wimpiness by any means. Along with John Zorn and Laswell, Sonny was a natural progression from punk to jazz for me and probably lots of others like me. Sonny took me there, let me ride along, and I'm eternally grateful for that. Grateful to the dead.

And buy shit! (Yeah, I just checked and there are some few things still in-print. And I remembered that you can hear the great Guitar album on my old blog. Just search for it.)

Now playing: Six Organs of Admittance - Awaken
via FoxyTunes

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chortle Time

Isn't Chortle a Pokemon? "Chortle, chortle, chortle!"

PS Perhaps McCrazy IS a Pokemon? Perhaps he's evolving? Warchortle, anyone? (Do you have to be the parent of a child aged 5-15 to think this is funny?)

Now playing: The Embarassment - Sex Drive
via FoxyTunes

It's a City - And it's Naked!

John Zorn's Naked City - Live at the Berlin Jazz Festival, Berlin, Germany (11/8/88) Part 1
John Zorn's Naked City - Live at the Berlin Jazz Festival, Berlin, Germany (11/8/88) Part 2

It's confession time. Back in the 80s, like many of my peers, I experimented. Yeah, I was curious, I had a certain kind of itch, I wanted to know what the other side was like. I wasn't sure I'd like it, but I felt I had to try it. Just once, that's all, that'd be enough I was sure. Curiosity is healthy, right? Couldn't hurt, right? But I couldn't stop. Once I'd put my toe in the water, I had to dive in completely. I became...bi-musical!

C'mon, it's the 21st century - admit it! You love punk rock...and jazz! Wow - wasn't that liberating? You feel better now, right? I sure do. Weight off my shoulders, you know, coming out like this. Phew!

And what better way to come out than with a big honkin' screechin' blast of John Zorn and Naked City. Exactly the kind of punky-rockist-jazz-weirdo-crossover music that opened the door for so many of us. I mean, hey, yeah, some call it jazz, but ya know that Zorn, he's really just a punk like me, really...right? (Sometimes, the less we know, the better).

Throw on that black beret, snap those fingers, light a clove cigarette and dig the craziness, man, dig it! And buy shit!

Raise Your Voices...Oh, Damn!

In the age of wonders we now live in, it should be the easiest thing to participate in our Democracy. Want to express yourself to an elected representative? Send him or her an email. Wow - it doesn't get any easier than this, right?!

Wrong. Because unless you live in the district represented by an elected member of Congress, you can't email them! I don't know when it happened, within the last year I'm thinking, but now if you go to the home page of your local U.S. Senator or Representative and want to email him or her, you have to give proof via your ZIP code that you live within their bailiwick. Otherwise, go screw yourself, they don't care what you think.

Can you lie and type in a phony ZIP? Sure, why not. Except that to do so would begin your conversation with this elected official with a lie. And if they realize you are lying, they have no reason to regard your message as anything but junk and spam. In the Trash it goes!

It hasn't always been like this. Last year, on several occasions, I emailed Representatives and Senators in other states about issues I felt were important enough to express my opinions upon. I felt it was my duty as a citizen. Now I'm told that my opinion no longer matters, unless I voted for them.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen! You have successfully thwarted the voice of the people once again! Be proud. (Would you like me to send you a box with my severed fingers and torn-out tongue for Christmas? I won't be needing them anymore...)

NOTE: This post is based on my own informal survey of approximately 20 home web pages of Senators and Representatives currently serving in Congress, from at least 10 different states. If you can find any contrary information, please let me know.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Damn You, Tom Hanks, Damn You!

For reasons remote and misty in time, Tom Hanks has long been my personal nemesis. I once floated the idea of an alternate World War II memorial in Washington consisting of only a vintage Jeep and Tom Hanks encased in a block of lucite where the engine once sat, illuminated day and night by powerful floodlights beneath his naked, forever screaming form. Why? Seemed like a perfectly logical idea at the time.

And now he has the unmitigated gall to come out and support Barack Obama today. Eloquently, to boot! That bastard!

I won't be able to sleep for weeks, this will be like bitter poison in my mouth! My hair will fall out on my pillow and my gums will bleed from the pressure of my grinding teeth! Mysterious sores will open on my body and little winged men will fly from them, screaming his name in high-pitched voices as they circle my weakened body, just out of reach of my flailing hands. I will pray for death before it is over, I will.

Footnote: I'm appraised by my friend and former colleague, the Mysterious Mr. M, that the esteemed historian Stephen Ambrose was to be encased in lucite with Mr. Hanks in the original idea. The gravitas Mr. Ambrose would have brought to the project surely would have closed the deal.

Now playing: Pharoah Sanders - Love Is Everywhere
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 2, 2008

No Tears Tonight

Eugene Chadbourne & The Chadbournes, Live at Kent State University, Kent, OH (5/7/81) Part 1
Eugene Chadbourne & The Chadbournes, Live at Kent State University, Kent, OH (5/7/81) Part 2

This is a typical, which means when applied against a concert by any other performer, totally atypical, show by Eugene Chadbourne. There's nothing like a Chadbourne gig except another Chadbourne gig and then only because the common denominator is Eugene Chadbourne. There's complicated algebraic proofs hidden somewhere in there, I'm certain. John Zorn, Tom Cora, David Licht and the then still "Mark" Kramer with Eugene on this one, as "The Chadbournes"! So, this is kinda proto-Shockabilly going on here, but less psycho-billy-garage than we'd hear in the next few years. More avant-country-blues-rock-jazz-lounge-schmaltzadelica. Got it? Good. I have no setlist because I attempted to create a setlist for a Eugene show in the past and nearly lost my mind in the attempt. Help me, please, but I love this music so much, so very much.

Saw Eugene multiple times but never enough in the 80s and caught him for the first time with my wife a few years back, bugging out of a wedding to run 'cross town and see him. We were not in our current home town that night, I can assure you, but hundreds of miles away. And Eugene was as wonderful, as weird, as exciting as ever that night. Nice, too, once you get him going. Always found him hard to talk to and very hard to crack a joke with. Made him sign many albums I hauled along with me, though he was stubborn and wouldn't sign them where I wanted him to. Of course. Because he's Eugene.

Mr. Chadbourne is, I think, a great American hero, an iconoclast and genuis to the ten millionth degree. His far-left politics are as beautiful as his music. He's the only man alive that could stop a roundhouse kick from Chuck Norris with a single note from his guitar. I hope you enjoy.

And buy shit, dammit, buy shit!!!

Now playing: Wolfgang Dauner - Golden Green
via FoxyTunes

Things Going Zap In My Head

Rather than go insane the other day, I started a new series of posts, on our Secret American History. I hope you'll enjoy them. I can't say that they will come on a regular basis, as I expect they will be triggered by my head-on collisions with political unreality more than desire to create.

That said, I have to talk politics a bit today. I'd like to point you here, for a nicely done examination of the "third" reason why Obama hasn't "closed the deal" yet. I hate that phrase, "close the deal," but I'm making myself type it to reduce it's sick hold on me. Maybe I won't punch the flat screen tonight when it is inevitably uttered.

I'm also trying to be less negative overall today. When I started the political postings, it was with a positive attitude, but the hyper-abrasive media bombage (new word?) of the last couple months has soured my heart more than a bit. I'm going to see if I can lighten up a bit, okay? Okay.

That's all. Nothing more. But there will be some music today. In just a few minutes. Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Secret American History, Part I

Last known photo of Abraham Lincoln, inside his Atomic Regeneration Chamber (c. 1927)

Lincoln never died. He faked his death and up until the Chinese Robot Invasion of 1959, secretly ran the nation from his fortified bunker deep inside of Mount Carmel.

It was Old Abe that ordered the execution of Adolph Hitler in 1948, that used his laserbeam eyes to carve the lines at Nazca (they spell a secret warning to potential alien invaders that's basically "Hands off, bug eyes!"), that inadvertently caused the Great Depression by buying high and selling low (his worst idea ever, really) and was behind every real moment of goodness and decency in American politics until his sudden disappearance after he defeated the robotic Moaist hordes in single-handed combat, the way only a heroic vampyre President could.

Where Lincoln went to and why he went away remain a mystery to this day. But the faithful believe that he will someday return, that he is only napping like any old man. And when he wakes up, those kids better get off of his lawn.

It's Like a Buffet - Nobody Eats the Salad

I've been digging around in the ol' numbers barrel and I can tell that you folks like certain things more than others. Numbers don't lie, unlike Hillary Clinton. But what do you like the most?

You have downloaded the most:

Television, Julian Cope, The Feelies, Green On Red and Opal. After that it kinda devolves, though there are a lot of Rain Parade junkies out there.

And the least:

Camper Van Beethoven.

Why? I know that some blame them for ruining punk rock, for creating that whole indie band sound and bull, but they were a great band, especially live. If you like Television and The Feelies and the VU and any great guitar band of the last 40 years that doesn't come from south of the Mason-Dixon line (or pretend to), then you should check out CVB. It won't kill you! Will it?

Now playing: Six Organs Of Admittance - Spirits Abandoned
via FoxyTunes