Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Interview

Ya know, I once had a job interview for a crap telemarketing job that turned out to be a scam* but which involved a lengthy in-person interview, a written exam and a phone script audition. The whole thing lasted hours. For a minimum wage jerk job in rural Missouri.

This is more time and effort than John McCain spent picking his Vice Presidential running mate.

Nice job, John. I guess that's why you're the "World's Best Boss!"

* We'd call businesses in Chicago, offer a moronic and very expensive 1-800 plan to them that no smart bidnessman would buy, then a second unit would call back a few days later using our call-lists and offer a decent plan at a fair price! Our unit of several dozen callers made about ten sales in the few weeks I stayed there, while the second unit made hundreds. A bunch of bullcrap. Nobody at our end knew it was a scam until the operation folded. I think there was a lawsuit.

Now playing: The Spacious Mind - The Closer You Get To The Sun
via FoxyTunes

Friday, August 29, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

* * * BREAKING NEWS * * *

I only saw the headline, "McCain Chooses Palin," but I couldn't be more excited. In fact, I'm already switching my registration from "Crazy Ass Anarchist" to "Republican - Non-Monocled"!

Who'd a thunk it, really? John McCain picking Monty Python's Michael Palin as his running-mate? Wow - wow - wow!!!

This is groundbreaking, history-making political news. I'm so excited to be living in this new age of American politics when an aging pale British comedy writer and performer may become not just the next Vice President but - given the inevitable heart attack/stroke/brain fever/chilblain/infected carbuncle that's sure to limit McCain's one and only term - next President of the United States of America!

I hope John Cleese is named Secretary of Silly Walks in Palin's Cabinet.

Now playing: Lackloves - Angel Eyes
via FoxyTunes

The End Is So Freakin' Nigh

The kitties are having a grand time, listening to Julian Cope and kittie-boxing (after bear-baiting, the number one local sport) and I'm laughing my ass off. Why?

Because God has abandoned the Republican Party. Now, God don't exist we all know, but the Republicans pretend to believe in Him for political reasons, naturally. And now it's like they've got a Blackberry message from Above - "F@#K Off!"

First, despite their pleas for rain and a washout of Obama's speech last night, the Non-Almighty didn't step up for them. Now, it appears He's threatening New Orleans with destruction again. Bastard. If ever there was a non-existent Sign, this is it. They need to cut and run, give up and hide, flee to the hills, join the Democratic party or something. Jeebus don't love 'em anymore.

But Raptor Jesus do!

(Click on the picture at top to see it embiggened).

Now playing: Copernicus From New York - Feel The Nonexistance
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What If?

It finally happened last night. For the first time in the history of the United States of America, a black man has become the official nominee for President of a major political party.

Damn. Wow. Damn.

I'm actually very emotional about this. We sat and watched the nominating process, and listened to all of the excruciating boosterism from each state, waiting for Illinois. We wanted to see if we could spot a friend of ours in the delegation. Maybe, just maybe, for a second we saw the top of her head. But then Illinois passed on their vote and finally didn't even give it so that Hillary could wind it up.

One thing we did see was a young black man on the convention floor with tears streaming down his face after the nomination was confirmed. His friends were hugging him and he looked torn between a million emotions. There was joy and so much more expressed on his face. Hundreds of years of history. I was hoping that image would be on the front page of every newspaper in the nation today. Probably isn't, but at least I got to see it.

The irony of last night was that it wasn't the Republicans nominating the first black man for President but the Dems. The party of Lincoln should be the party doing this by all rights. This is their true legacy and heritage. It's very sad to me that they are not. And we can all try to say that none of this, this election season, this hunting season, is about race, though I haven't always been saying that, but it really is. And the nastiness about it has just begun.

Today though, I'm personally focusing on the positive. (In my own way). It's the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream speech" and this summer on our Big Trip we went to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Here's the outside of the motel:

I wrote a bit about visiting this before, but I'd like to revisit that memory for a second.

Walking up to the motel, now the Civil Rights Museum, I was almost scared. I'd seen that hotel a thousand times before in pictures, my whole life. And I'd especially seen that balcony with its weird squared design and that innocuous white motel room door. I think of King and I always think of him standing there. I think of the potential America and the world lost there. I can't help myself, but I always cry. Not for the first time on this blog, I'm doing that again. So much energy was wasted in a split second, so much taken away. This is burned in my heart, the loss of that one moment.

I've always felt that a vast sea change in American politics and life was subverted on that day and that we've been floundering in the foam and muck and detritus of it ever since. It's probably asinine, at best, to play this kind of game with history, but I can't help it. The historian and the science fictioneer in me are at war a lot of the time, but one question they both ask is "What if?"

I'm asking myself that today. "What if...?" There's a lot of questions that can be hung on the end of those two words. I'll leave that for you.

Have a good day, people, a very good day.

Now playing: The Long Ryders - I Don't Care What's Right, I Don't Care What's Wrong
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Explode Into Space

The Feelies - Live at CBGB's, New York, NY (6/24/77)
The Feelies - Live at the Whisky, Los Angeles, CA (2/24/81)

Last week I was idly turning pages in one of my CD folders, saw "Feelies" scrawled in Sharpie on a couple of them and thought "Wait a minute, I've got all my Feelies shows in a different folder - what the hell are these?" Then I saw the dates - 1981? 1977?! Wha???

I threw the surprise discs in to give 'em a listen. And that's all I've been listening to for a week now, folks. I think you'll do the same when you get them. This is magic, this is manna, this is sacred cow fertility rite totem pole smoke lodge kiva-this kiva-that spectacular crap. It's craptacular, truly.

According to the best Feelies resource, these are two of the earliest shows floating around as boots. The '77 show is the very earliest available. You're gonna listen to it and at first say "THIS is the Feelies?" but shortly you'll be saying "This IS the Feelies!" And the '81 West Coast show is nothing short of a total guitar-raveup of cosmic dimensions. If the energy of this show could only be turned into raw power, we could give up foreign oil today, forever! And have enough left over to get us to Mars.

The '81 show reminds me of the first time I heard The Good Earth. Came home to the apartment I shared with my oldest brother after a long night out, ears ringing, blood pumping, probably still a bit too much beer in the system even after all the dancing, and my brother was "Listening to music." This means he was enjoying his own music with his own beer, only at home. He didn't like the crowded, smokey nightlife. I can't blame him. Anyway, for a change he actually invited me and my friend Mark to join him. (Not the artist Mark - didn't know him yet - but MIT Mark). Of course, we had to sit perfectly still and not move a muscle because he was playing his newest cache of LPs, not yet transferred to tape and there was no way he was gonna have us bumpy creatures jump around and maybe make the needle skip and scratch his brand new vinyl. So we sat carefully down in the corner like drunken mice. And he put on an album. And we all went to heaven.

Well, almost. By the closing track of side one, I'd almost left my body. I felt my individual atoms vibrate faster and faster and faster and I knew that if the song went on just one more freakin' second I was gonna blow! I'd either leave my corporeal existence and fly the cosmos like the Silver Surfer or I'd obliterate half of Madison's West Side!

Fortunately for Madison, maybe not for me, the song had to end. Older Brother moved to put on side two, but we begged mental delirium and asked him not to. It was too much, I tells ya, too damn much. I felt a lot like that listening to this '81 show, folks. Hope you do too.

A Note to the Listener: There are one or two or so strange moments of silence in the '77 show. I can't tell if they are digi-errors or came from the original source. I swear I hear what sounds like the "clunk" of a Record button getting pushed...

And, brothers and sisters - Buy SHIT! (Someone let me know if Twin Tone's "custom" CD thing really works. Costs twenty bucks per disc and the artist is supposed to get a flat five from that in royalties, but the only one I want is four songs long and at a Lincoln a tune...well, I'm cheap.)

Now playing: Vibracathedral Orchestra - Your Head Shone Like A Stone
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Podium By Any Other Name

One of the weirder and naturally hateful anti-Obama and Dem memes, if it's meant seriously, is that the planned speech in the Denver Stadium is fascistic or worse, Nazi-like. Yet I encourage you to check out the planned podium set-up for the Republican convention, above. I think it appears they are being a bit defensive, like the burly guy with a lisp who hates gays gets defensive, ya know. I look at this and the first thing I think of is Nuremburg. And not the happy-feel good Nuremberg of the war crimes trials. This sucker looks like a lost page from Speer's sketchbook. Jeebus, but it gives me the creeps.

Now playing: Naked Prey - Billy The Kid II
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weird Reasons to Vote for Obama #7

He's got one heckuva smartypants campaign team.

Maybe you're one of the presumed millions waiting for that text message from Obama about his VP choice. I'm not - I only got a cell phone a few months ago and have to ask The Boy to reply to any text messages I get. Me thumb too big and dumb.

But there is an incredibly smart, freakin' wickedly smart campaign move at the bottom of this text message silliness. Money. With hundreds of thousands to potentially millions of cell phone users giving the Obama campaign their otherwise unlisted numbers, the Obama camp now has a massive database of brand new potential donors to tap. These people have not been getting called before now, folks, they are fresh meat. And Obama's gettin' the grill hot for them!

I can only applaud this. It's audacious. It's smart as hell. It makes the McCain people cry themselves to sleep at night. I can hear the weeping now, so sweet, so sad. Go Team Obama!

Now playing: Died Pretty - Life To Go (Landsakes)
via FoxyTunes

Getting Some Tongue

Yo La Tengo - Live at Binghamton Univ., NY (5/8/92) Part 1
Yo La Tengo - Live at Binghamton Univ., NY (5/8/92) Part 2

I used to think that the "Tengo" in "Yo La Tengo" had something to do with a "tongue." I dunno why. Stuppid? Probably. Monolingual? Pretty much.

I don't have much to say about YLT. Love 'em. Never seen 'em live. Wish I could. Great guitars, great songs. Remember how excited my oldest brother was with the first album. He taunted me for ages with it, always keeping it just out of earshot. I think I waited a year to finally hear it. Family games.

Enjoy and buy shit!

Pat the (Crazy-Ass) Bunny

So, according to - yes, really - Pat Buchanan:

"If the Russia-Georgia war proves nothing else, it is the insanity of giving erratic hotheads in volatile nations the power to drag the United States into war."

That includes us, right? Right, Pat?

The above is from the right-wing lunatic-fringe email newsletter of Human Events. Subscribing to it is one of the things I do so that you don't have to.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Serious Reasons Not to Vote for John McCain...I've Lost Track Now, There Are So Many

The entire world knows John McCain is an American hero. But please read this articulate piece on why that has no bearing on his possible Presidency. And how it may even be a disadvantage.

Who wrote it? A Naval Academy classmate and good friend of John McCain, who also was a POW during the Vietnam War - for years longer than McCain. Dr. Butler is also, like McCain, a highly decorated veteran. In fact, he's received more military accolades than Senator McCain for his service. This is no left-wing blogger hit job. This is truth speaking. Listen.

And, if you can ever get to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, please go. It is beautiful and reserved and moving and the single most appropriate public response to war we have in this country.

Vote Obama!

Porchtar I - The Mystery

I'm inviting you all to check out my new post on Porchwood. I need help solving a real Scooby-style mystery. Thanks!

Friday, August 15, 2008


I have had an intimate relationship this summer with our front porch. So much so that I feel compelled to commemorate and celebrate my new love with a blog of its own.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...PORCHWOOD.

We're big fans of Dr. Who and it's spinoff Torchwood; damn good happy fun TV time and even fairly decent science fiction at times. I'm not saying this because the new blog is gonna be about TV shows or science fiction any more than this one is, but it won't be about music. I think. Yeah, I'll keep that here. And probably no politics on the newbie.

But I can't say there won't be lots of cat crap.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sanity (Non-Single Malt Variety)

Lots of crap comes off the ol' Intertubes daily, but this one has a sweet smell and a glossy shine to it. Just have to share.

Judge Says UC Can Deny Religous Course Credit

Wow. A judge, basing a legal decision on concepts like "critical thinking" and "history" (who told this bastard that was allowed!) has rejected the claims of the religious right that their faith-based science is a legitimate educational tool. I could cry. If Jesus hadn't stolen my tears to cure cancer.

Don't worry, though, the Godlings will appeal this. Hell, even John McCain thinks this is a Christian nation. I guess that private elitist school he went to didn't teach him too good, did it?

All hail Raptor Jesus!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Personal Kicker of Elves

Mark is one of my best friends. In the world. He's really family, a brother, to me. And he's one of my favorite artists in the world, too. We hit it off pretty much instantly the first time he walked through my door, which is now pushing twenty years ago, when I was looking for a new roommate and he showed up. I remember Twin Peaks was on and I think I offered him tea. He was such a cute little elf of a guy. Still is. I just want to tug on his graying goatee!

It's the Year of the Rat now and the pic above is the one he did to celebrate. I love it. I've watched him go through a lot of artistic permutations and tried hard to be Colonel Parker to his Elvis, but he's thankfully stubbornly resisted my probably misguided attempts to make him a big, big star. I'm just full of ideas. Ideas and crap. They get mixed together a lot.

Mark's got a second child on the way now and since we're both older graying guys I wish him all the best with that. Lucky kid to have him for a dad, just like the lucky boy he's already got. Personally, I've never recovered from the those first three years of fatherhood and intense sleep deprivation. I was once able to remember more than my name and phone number without help. No longer.

But check out Mark's awesome little online store. This is beautiful old school style print making, nothing digital. Mark's a craftsman and a perfectionist and super great human being. I bought a couple of beautiful pieces a few months ago from him, including a small oil of a mother and son, which is a lovely update of and a companion piece to the "Madonna and Child" painting Mark gave us when we were expecting The Boy so long ago.

Cool fact: Thanks to his website, I just found out what his middle name is. I've never known it. Never knew he had one. Some friend I am.

Monday, August 11, 2008

All They've Got Left to Play

This is the state of McCain's campaign. Sarcasm. It's one thing for stupid, petty bloggers (yeah - that's me! he's talking about me, I mean, himself, I mean, us, what?) to resort to this, but for a presidential campaign? Wow, it's a sorry, sad day. For McCain. Goodbye, Maverick, goodbye!

I've Got Eyes In the Back of My Head!

The Bevis Frond - Live at Speaking In Tongues, Cleveland, OH (10-16-99) Part 1
The Bevis Frond - Live at Speaking In Tongues, Cleveland, OH (10-16-99) Part 2

Do the Frond, kids! Wave them arms, twitchilate that torso, boogy that balloon! This is an ultra-rare Bevis Frond show that I got directly from the taper a few years ago. I've only listened to it once before. But it's great and you will love it.

I first heard Mr. Nick Salomon so long ago that I don't remember how or where or when or what I was wearing. Probably something in blue jeans and flannel over a white t-shirt. Or the same pants and t-shirt with a blue rayon bowling shirt. That was about all I wore outside of work from 1984-1990. I had the flannel flying way before anyone else.

But those first three 'Frond albums, especially the CD versions with the million bonus tunes, were templates to me of what is possible for one person to achieve inside their mind with lo-fi production and sometimes sloppy musicality. Face it, except on guitar, Nick's no musical genuis. But he's one of the great weirdos and songwriters and wild-men of guitar of all time.

Regarding the title of this post, I used to play this song for The Boy when he was very young and tell him it was about me and that all parents have multiple sets of eyes only kids can't see them, so he'd better behave. Perhaps that was sick and wrong of me. But it used to make him laugh.

BTW, that's a carving by Clark Ashton Smith up there, of one of them crazy-ass ol' Elder Gods he and Lovecraft and their gang were always going on about. Any Smith fans out there?

Friday, August 8, 2008

We Often Dream of Trains (Seriously, We Do)

Robyn Hitchcock - Live at Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA (7/28/88) Part 1
Robyn Hitchcock - Live at Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA (7/28/88) Part 2

Harry Rag, Harry Rag, Harry Rag - he's the man. Really. Not just a song lyric anymore. Harry's been the most consistently awesome DJ in Madison, Wisconsin for at least three thousand years. Or maybe thirty. If it weren't for Harry I'd probably still be wearing my Kiss Army patch and crying over their farewell tour. (You wouldn't believe how much excitement that caused here in the Cornbelt. It was the defining moment for a generation of skanky, unwashed, long-haired, balding, fat, skinny, 18-50 year old white males in faded concert t-shirts. Listening to them talk in the used record stores was revelatory. A sub-culture I didn't even know existed was revealed. I felt like a dirty Margaret Mead.)

What the hell was I writing about? Ah, Harry. Back in the very late 70s and first half of the 80s, every Saturday afternoon it was mandatory to tune in to Harry's show and hear the latest and the hottest in new and underground American and British music, filtered through Harry's impeccably honed earmachines, which had been trained by many years of listening to the best of 60s and 70s music, especially psychedelia. Harry could spot the real deal at 100 paces. He introduced me to everything that was hip and cool in music, including Robyn Hitchcock.

Of course, it was actually The Soft Boys then, but it was pretty obvious who the guy in charge was. I was a word junkie then, too, and Robyn was my Dylan. I shit thee not, he was that important to me. (You don't say someone is your "Dylan" and not mean it, man). I had other Dylans in the years to come - Westerberg, Mould, Boon, Stuart, Chesnutt, Gelb, Dylan and so on - but Robyn was my first. He took my Dylan-Cherry.

And like any first love, Robyn's been with me ever since, a constant part of my musical life. He's still making beautiful albums and I'm still buying them. My wife took some Robyn in the car with her just this week as she went off on a work trip. We bought the box set that came out last year of remastered 80s albums - you have to buy this, they sound wonderful! - and I've already pre-purchased the next box. But don't tell my wife; I'd hoped it would be out before her birthday, but that's tomorrow, so don't look like it. I hope she doesn't read this post.

Also, just moments ago, I bought us tickets to see Robyn perform I Often Dream of Trains at the Old School of Folk Music in Chicago in November. Don't look, but I think I've soiled myself. It's been my dream to take our son to see Robyn and it can't get better than this. Hope some of ya'll out there get a chance to see this show. It's pretty damn near sold out, though there are a handful of other show scheduled for the US.

Harry's still there, too, still enlightning (nod to Sun Ra) the cosmos. He alternates every second and third Friday night now from 8-11PM. Check Harry out!

And, of course, buy shit!

NOTE: I should change the name of this blog to the title of this post. We get 150 or so trains per day through our town. The night rings with their horns. Sometimes, if you are far enough away from the tracks, it's very mysterious and musical, especially if you have two or more going at once. The echoes are intense. But usually it just sucks.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Going to the Goblin Market

The Church - Live in Turin, Italy (1985)

I was very excited one chilly and wet fall night in 1984. I was on my way to pick up my buddy Doug and we were going to Bunky's to see The Church! I've already chronicled the severe disappointment that followed. Big sigh still today about that. (Years after that night I befriended Eric, an elfin record store clerk and multi-instrumentalist of great talent who was also the biggest Church fan in Madison. He liked to go on and on about how incredible that show was. I could've killed him).

I found this one in the vaults yesterday, half a mile beneath the prairie grass and protected from nuclear blasts, prairie voles (if such exist) and owner stupidity. I'm only allowed in when well caffeinated. I don't remember getting it in trade or ever listening to it, so it's new to all of us. Soundwise, not bad but could be better. And I have much worse. May even be from a radio broadcast. I couldn't find a setlist and it's not listed on any Church gigography I could find.

In terms of performance, this is great - the band is at their peak with some of the most chiming and soaring psychedelic guitar I've ever heard from tthem, pulled off in inestimable Church fashion. So don't let the sound turn you off. Turn on, tune in, etc, whatever. (Anyone out there have any better sounding early performances you wanna share? I'll be happy to host it here if you do).

And buy shit!

PS I dunno why, but The Church always spins skeins of Pre-Raphaelite imagery through my head. Perhaps they are the aural equivalent of the Rossettis? I'm also reminded again of Thomas Disch, who wrote - with his longtime partner Charles Naylor - the beautiful Neighboring Lives, a luscious novel about a small neighborhood in London and the people who lived there and wrote there and made some of the most beautiful art in the world there during the 19th century. From Thomas Carlyle to Christina Rossetti, they are all between the pages. I doubt it's in print anymore but look for it. It's worth it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Serious Reasons Not to Vote for John McCain #5 (or is it #6?)

Because we don't want to see this kind of reaction happen to a traveling American President ever again. And it will, with McCain.

Vote Obama!

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Personally, I think the Electoral College is an unnecessary holdover from the early days of the Republic. Possibly useful at the time, but today it's the vestigial tail of American politics. It has no real purpose and when it swings itself around the true spirit of American democracy gets hit by a face full of crap. It's gotta go.

But the interesting story this morning is that the media is slinging crap in our faces about John McCain and how he is crapping out in a number of independent evaluations and polls of electoral votes, by an average of 104 votes. And this when the traditional media reports nothing but a dead heat. If we get nothing else from this, it's that we cannot rely upon old-school media to tell us the truth. Unless it's about how much cleaner and whiter our teeth can be and how much more sexy we'll be if we wax our mustaches. Do they still run mustache wax ads?

Vote Obama!

Monday, August 4, 2008

What They Did Before TV

I'm an archaeology buff. Think I've mentioned it before. This story is my favorite of the last couple of weeks, because I'm nutso for megalithic art. I bet Julian Cope is wetting his way too tight leather pants right now. What a lovely image.

Seriously, if you haven't seen any of Julian's work on the megalithic cultures of Britain and Europe, you're in for a treat. Great big beautiful books with some of the best megalithic photography I've ever seen, plus fascinating essays. I highly recommend them.

[Two posts in one day? What can I say but I'm feeling perky. Only one more coat of paint on the porch floor to go!]

Yeah. Right.

By now you've probably seen that last doozey of a McCain ad. The one calling Obama "The One" - a sentiment I heartily endorse. But what do they mean? What "One" are they talking about? (Sorry but I'm not wasting my blog space on replaying this one if you haven't see it; ain't worth it).

My take: This is more McCode. First they call him "arrogant" and "uppity" - yes, the cranky, tired old white males are calling the bursting with vitality younger black male "uppity"! Oldies but goodies, eh? Second, they call him "The One"! This is very interesting, very Bush/Rove, because it speaks in code to white evangelicals, one of the toughest of the Republican bases for McCain to crack. He just hasn't been speaking their language, until now.

In crazy Christian code, "The One" equals "The Anti-Christ." I've been getting forwarded anti-Obama hate emails for months saying this about him and I've been wondering how long it would take for this bit of religious bigotry to percolate up from the slime vats. Sooner than I thought, actually. I guessed post-convention.

The good side of this ad is that it shows how incredibly desperate and scared the McCain campaign is. The bad side is that, like their recent racist attacks, it means they will go as low as they need to during this contest. Pardon me while I vomit.

[Here's a pretty tame blog about Obama and Christianity. I cannot understand how any person that calls themselves Christian, especially if you are a Fundamentalist, would not believe that Obama is such when he declares himself to be one. To say he his lying is to say that you and every other person of faith who makes a public declaration of their belief in Christ is also lying. Basically, it says Christianity is a joke, a false religion. Maybe I should be glad that they are finally admitting it?]

Vote Obama!

UPDATE: I didn't see this article yesterday, or I probably wouldn't have bothered with my own. But confirmation that one is not the only crazy in the world kinda feels good. And, in the OMFG Category, the next upcoming Obama smear is...INFANTICIDE! Go Team McCain! It must be easy, once you've abandoned your principles like McCain has. to say "Hey, I think calling Obama the Anti-Christ and a baby-killer would be Jim Dandy - or is that Jim Crow?"

SECOND UPDATE: I'm not paranoid. I'm not crazy. I just wish I was. Read this. It's almost hard to believe. Though I do have to give the bastards credit - it's a good joke and a decent graphic they've invented. What bothers me is the willful blindness and hypocrisy. I need many beers.

THIRD UPDATE: It's hit the mainstream media now, too. Rest assured, though, this won't even be a dent for McCain. He'll be given a pass on this as well. I wonder when before, if ever in American history, a rival candidate for the Presidency was publicly labeled as The Anti-Christ by his opponent? Maybe McCain scored a first. Way to go, jerk! ("Hello, jerks," by the way, is how McCain ritually greets his covey of personal reporters. What a guy.)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Póg Mo Thóin - By Request

The Pogues - Live in Tokyo, Japan (11-30-88) Part 1
The Pogues - Live in Tokyo, Japan (11-30-88) Part 2

"One summer evening drunk to hell" I heard The Pogues for the very first time. What happened to your heart when you first heard "A Pair of Brown Eyes"? Mine stopped. I didn't know there could be such raw beauty in the world. I was crawling on the kitchen floor, pounding my hands against the linoleum in time and weeping. That's how I recall it, anyway.

This one's for the kitchen floor (and raindogzilla, who wanted some Pogues).

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wal-Mart Wants You - To Be Scared!

Wal-Mart has joined the Republican ranks, encouraging - to use a nice word for it - its managers to vote Republican. Why? Because the scary Democrats will only support the nasty bad unions and make everybody lose their jobs!

Back in 1998 we got a brand new grocery store in our town, part of a big Midwestern chain. We already had one store in the chain at the opposite side of the city, but this one would be representative of their newest look and services. Everybody was pretty excited, actually, because it meant new jobs and that at least one large company thought our ever-shrinking city worthy of investment.

I needed a part-time job and applied before it even opened for a third-shift shelf stocking position. And I got it. At a whole $5.50 an hour - twenty-five cents bonus over regular wage-slaves because of the inconvenience of the shift!

My "favorite" memory is of the orientation meeting, conducted by the personnel director for the entire chain. She stood on a small platform, introduced herself, thanked us for becoming part of this wonderful "employee-owned" store - yeah, right - and then she said: "You may hear some talk about unions. We're not anti-union, but you should know the truth. Unions will only cost you money and make you lose your job. Oh, and don't steal because we're watching you. Thanks! Have a nice day!"

That was her entire speech, pretty much verbatim. Though not as good as that I got from the president of the bookstore I used to work at during my interview for a new management position, about ten or so years earlier. When I told him that I felt very experienced at the store location after three years and that I knew both the staff and the customers very well, he said: "A good manager doesn't need to know those things because a good manager already knows them."

I knew I didn't have the job then just like I knew I wouldn't be working at the grocery store very long. I did tough it out for a year because we needed the paltry monies so badly, but the corporate attitude was demeaning to say the least. I had to shave off my beard to stock groceries because I was "handling food" - food in cans and bottles and boxes and bags! A month after I left, they changed their facial hair policy. Now even the butchers have beards.

Corporate Amerikkka is a nasty place. It tends to reflect the worst aspects of our culture. The stupid and the cruel and the incompetent have no problem rising to the top in this world because they haven't internal ethical compasses. I'm not over-generalizing here. I've years of experience working for asses like this. The bottom-line is the only guideline they follow and if scaring their employees helps with that, then that's fine and dandy. After all, that's how the President runs the country, right?