Monday, March 31, 2008

Proud Flesh

Dumptruck - Live at the Metro, Chicago, IL (11/20/87) Part 1
Dumptruck - Live at the Metro, Chicago, IL (11/20/87) Part 2

Guitars. That's all we need. Soothe our broken hearts. Mend our failing minds. Prop our tired elbows. Tie our neglected laces. Just throw in some achingly sweet low-key melodies and kinda off-key vocals, madly enigmatic lyrics, a country-twang or two and you got yourself Dumptruck.

Never got to see these boys live, a real shame. But I listened the hell outta my tape of For the Country with D is for Dumptruck on the flip side.

If any song titles are wrong, it's as usual all my fault. I haven't talked about that yet, but quite often in the bootleg trading/collecting world you get handfuls of shows that you've got less than nothing on. I've got dozens of "Unknown venue/Unknown date" shows. And even if you know the where and when, the what can be pretty elusive. Some of these damn bands have the gall to sing songs with titles that reflect neither the lyrics nor the catchy choruses! What's a guy to do? Damn them. Dumptruck was one of those kind. Hours of work, no joke, trying to identify the songs through intensive lyrical correspondence techniques developed by the secret Tibetan Third Eye Satellite Tracking Corps (Quincy Division) during the Fourth World War in the 70s. And the help of Seth Tiven of Dumptruck, who gave me a setlist for this years ago but which precious thing I have lost. He also gave me another show just as good as this one that I'll post someday.

Meantime, we can all feel lucky because those precious Dumptruck albums have been remastered and re-released! So, shit!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rise Like Lions! Shake Your Chains!

What did we do this weekend? We had our heads and hearts blasted with pure human music. We saw the Mekons.

They have just about finished or maybe are already done with a very scant 30th Anniversary Tour. We caught them at the Barrymore in Madison, Wisconsin. The Barrymore is one of our old stomping grounds, a revived old movie theater with sparkling lights in the ceiling and stray bits and pieces of its old beauty still raggedly shining through. Not unlike the Mekons. They've gotten older, grayer, filthier (or at least their stage banter has, to great effect) but have still managed to retain their essential Mekon-ness. They are tough, honest, literate, unafraid to look at reality even when they skewer its oh so precious givens, like capitalism and what passes for democracy these days. And their ragged voices have never been needed more nor sounded better.

The Mekons have a new album out now, Natural, that you must own. (Shit!) And you must own all of their previous albums too. Few things you can purchase in this world will actually improve the condition and quality of your life. With the exception of a Mekons album. They are many and we are too! (That's a joke, a misquote, a funny bit, but you gotta know the song to get it).

I'd share some live Mekons with you, but off the top of my scraggly head, I think every show I have is already available over at the Live Music Archive, so just pop on over there and sample some wares. The Mekons don't mind. In fact, they encourage it.

PS Only regret: Sally didn't sing "Secrets" and no "Robin Hood." But they did do a dark and scary "Ghosts of American Astronauts," a stunning "Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem" and the ultimate Mekons sing-a-long, "Wild and Blue." But it would've been quite a treat to hear this:

"Listen to the voices drifting through the windows
of the grand old villas of Bonn
all the town's dark secrets
float through the Rhine lands river mists

the wives of bankers reminisce in whispers
debiliated by horrors, half heard, half remembered
all the town's dark secrets
unstable and dangerous, fearful and feared

the lights went out all over Europe
and in the darkness of space
the stars are blinking with our hope
as a rocket roars out of the Cape"

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Kind of God's Children

Swans - Live at Errols, Gothenburg, Sweden (8/21/87)

Children of God opened up my head with Clive Barkeresque precision and made me hear things that I'd never heard before. For this, I thank the Swans. Still kinda hurts, but thanks.

Why is that man in his underwear?


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Those Krazy Kossaks!

Way to go, Daily Kos! I've been waiting to see which way they'd go, and today Daily Kos and three other prominent liberal blogsites have gone for Obama. I only wonder what took them so long.

Today, with her comment about seeing what the next three months will bring, Senator Clinton has evidently decided that ripping the Democratic party apart and allowing Senator McCrazy (sorry, but I can't think of him any other way - he scares the bejeezus out of me!) months of free crazy running around is better than consolidating current strengths of the party behind one clear frontrunner.

Clinton cannot win the nomination without destroying the Democratic party. It's become that simple. And today she made it very clear that this is her intention. She has only one goal - getting the nomination regardless of the cost to her party and the nation. Unless something drastic happens to her campaign or the party leaders say "Enough!" then we can look forward to another Republican presidency and - at least! - four more years of war. Probably more, because McCrazy has big, nasty war plans that just don't stop.

Who Sleeps Where? What Did You Say?

Butthole Surfers - Live at First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN (4/20/87) Part 1
Butthole Surfers - Live at First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN (4/20/87) Part 1

I went from an ear-smashingly loud early evening of basement jamming to my favorite club, O'Cayz Corral, one spring night many years ago. It was just me and the new bartender that early. Even the band hadn't shown up for their soundcheck. Don't ask me what band because I don't remember and that's not the point of the story.

I got my pitcher (yes, in Wisconsin it is perfectly acceptable for one person to both order and to drink, by one's lonesome, a whole pitcher of beer...or several) and tried to sooth my aching ears. But a noise kept intruding, kept insinuating itself into my head.

"What are you listening to?" I asked the bartender. "It's the new Butthole Surfers! Isn't it great!" she yelled back at me. That's when I knew I'd really damaged my ears. She was yelling over the music but it wasn't that loud, or so my ears thought.

"Yeah, it's awesome" I said or something like that and the conversation went on for a while about how much she liked the Buttholes and which album I should buy first and so on. We've all had this conversation. About a thousand times. It's a good one.

Next day I went to my favorite record store, B-Side, on State Street. And I bought Live PCP-PEP. That was the only one I could remember her telling me about. Cool lime-green cover, I thought. I like lime-green.

And when I put it on the turntable - holy shit. This wasn't like anything I'd heard or imagined I was hearing the night before. How could a human being make noises like that with his throat? What kind of guitars from what other dimension made those sounds? I'd stepped into the Twilight Zone the instant that needle dropped!

Side one over, I flipped it. SHAZAM! It hit me like a lightning bolt - I'd been playing it at the wrong speed! The damn thing looks like it should be 33 1/3 but it's really a 45. (Insert Charlie Brown-style scream of anguish here).

I played side one again. Still good. Very good. And so was side two. And the other albums I rushed out to buy. (I think they only had two others out at the time). But nothing ever sounded as good as side one of PCP-PEP at 33 1/3. Scariest music ever unintentionally made. I ripped my LP a few years ago for easier listening. At both speeds.

Goeth! Buyeth! Shitteth!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And Then the Rain

True West - Live at CBGB's, New York, NY (12-8-83)

My best friend in high school, Dan, got himself a motorcycle - with a tape deck! One night I particularly remember, out of the many nights of aimless wandering around indulged in by teens which for us always ended at our local Perkins to sit and drink coffee in their orange booths for hours, we cruised downtown Madison on that thing listening to my tape of the brand new volume two of Battle of the Garages.

I don't know if Dan really liked any of the tunes on that tape, though "Green Slime" always made him laugh. My favorite songs were Plasticland's "Sipping the Bitterness" and True West's "And Then the Rain." The latter was perfect for the night in memory. The streets of downtown were pitch black and sometimes mirror-like from rain. At one point we went through the UW Arboretum, though it was closed, and the thick smell of wet grasses and trees is still in my nostrils when I think of that night.

Wet grass and green slime, bitterness and rain, black streets and a black Honda. Me and Dan are still friends, don't get to see each other often at all, and I still got True West too. I hear Dan's thinking of another bike.

You, too, buy shit.

Note: I forgot, but I've got a post of True West (first two albums, from one CD) up on my old, sadly neglected, decrepit and ruinous blog. This was not the best transfer to digital ever, I'll say. My old LPs and PVC cassettes sound better than this disc. Hopefully the new Atavistic reissue sounds good.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

It's Déjà Vu All Over Again

We were living in Missouri in 1993, the summer of the Great Flood, and we're here this weekend visiting our in-laws...surrounded by rising flood waters. Can you say flashback?

Where we are, in Eureka, we are slowly being cut off from the world. The only north-south highway (109) is closed both directions from us. The main east-west highway (44) is probably going to be shut down within hours, for perhaps twenty-four hours. That's 44 in the picture. We slowly crawled by that intersection yesterday (90 minutes to go about five miles) as they put up concrete barriers and sandbags along the road to keep out the rising Meramac.

If I can, I'll post you all some music later today. I'm not going anywhere. I have a notion to go volunteer with the sandbagging, but they say they've got too many volunteers - they wanted 50 and 1000 showed up! People are good. We shouldn't forget that.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Yeah, I Don't Go Out Much Anymore

Rank & File - Live in Dayton, OH (11/8/80)

I have some vaguely interesting things I could say about Rank & File and how cool I thought they were way back when. But I won't. I should, instead, talk about this recording.

Bootlegs are magical things. You never know what the sound quality will be like when you play one for the first time. You usually don't know what songs will be played, though makes that easier now. Maybe the band was really on that night or maybe they were so drunk they couldn't remember which instruments to play. Maybe the crowd was in love with them, maybe it was full of assholes. You just don't know.

This is one of the really odd ones, the "Wow, what's going on here?" kind of sound artifact. I'll just tell you a couple of things. One, the sound quality is pretty darn good, for a twenty-seven year-old recording. Two, the original tape started at the end of the first set and then contains what is probably the whole second set. So you hear the same song/s twice since it looks like the sets were identical. Third, these guys were just fuckin' great! I've had so much fun listening to this for the last few days. Hope you do too.

Go get it, now. And buy shit!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Fall of Moondust (1917-2008)

Arthur C. Clarke is dead. He was one of the last great voices of science fiction's Golden Age (1950s). It's quite likely you've never read anything by him unless you're a real SF geek, though he wrote dozens of books and hundreds of stories. But you've been influenced by him. Thank Stanley Kubrick - also dead - for that.

Maybe you know him from Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World television series, one of my favorites as a teenager. Arthur would introduce a strange and mysterious topic in each episode from his Sri Lankan home and then off you'd go with a wonderfully pretentious narrator who made every little thing sound so mysterious and exciting. Fun stuff.

Only a few weeks ago I picked up a Clarke book for the first time in, well, decades - the great Tales from the White Hart (1957), a collection of very short stories set in the White Hart pub, populated with scientists and science fictioneers always willing to tell or hear a strange tale. Good stuff, very good stuff.

If you haven't read it, get yourself to your local library and grab a copy of Childhood's End (1953). If you like that, try Rendezvous With Rama (1972) and The Fountains of Paradise (1979) (I am head over heels in love with the idea of giant elevators to space thanks to this book!). Great stuff.

Arthur had that sense of wonder we science fiction readers love, in spades. I'm sure there's many a NASA tech, JPL wunderkind, science teacher, ditch digger and garbageman out there who owes Arthur a huge debt. I do.

Thanks, Arthur.

Monday, March 17, 2008

You Have Nothing...

I'm sitting here again, in my living room, having a beer, thinking and wondering.

I'm thinking about what Barack Obama might say tomorrow. I'm wondering if it will be strong enough, pure enough, true enough to halt the arrows of hate that are about to be let loose in this country.

I'm thinking about the true meaning of patriotism. I'm wondering if to truly be a patriot, one has to be strong enough to condemn one's country for its wrongs while still loving it for its good.

I'm thinking about the meaning of prophecy. I'm wondering what an atheist like myself is doing thinking about prophecy; I can't help but wonder (here we go again) if Obama's words tomorrow might not be some kind of prophecy for this country.

Where do we go from here? What is the future of America? What price, what tolls, what pains are we willing to pay, to endure, for this country of ours?

Me? I dunno. I want so much for this country and for my fellow Americans (I feel like Nixon now!), so much that it hurts me inside. I want us to rise up from the mire of our current political crisis and I want us to show the world the true good heart of America, but I'm desperately afraid. Afraid that we can't do it. Afraid that our own fears will rise up against us. Afraid of fear itself.

What was it FDR said again?

Postcript: It's afternoon now and Obama gave his speech this morning. I've read it but I haven't watched it yet.

Was it a good speech, was it good enough? Yes, I think so. He surprised me several times with the direction he went in, pushing my estimation of his intelligence and sincerity up several levels. Obama looked more closely and directly at the problems and issues of race in America than any elected politician has ever done, I believe. At least in a public speech.

It took courage and it took fortitude for Obama to make this address. Some were predicting that the best thing he could do would be to wait this campaign crisis out and hope it would blow over. But Obama realized that this is not merely a crisis of his campaign - it is a crisis of the nation. And he stepped up to the podium and took charge, offering a new way for us to think and talk about race as Americans. Think about this for one moment. Isn't this the kind of man we want as our President? It's what I want, I know.

The more I read or hear Obama's "words," the more I realize why I'm attracted to his campaign. Obama is a punk. A smart, tough, DIY-punk - honest, caring and smart as hell like all the best punks I've ever met. And ready and willing do what needs to be done to open eyes and minds. He probably doesn't have any New York Dolls or Stooges or VU or Sex Pistols on his I-Pod, but he's got 'em in his heart.

Vote Punk - Vote Obama!

An Opal Has Many Colors

Opal - Live at the I-Beam, San Francisco, CA (12/14/87) Part 1
Opal - Live at the I-Beam, San Francisco, CA (12/14/87) Part 2

One of my first posts was a Clay Allison show, supposedly their first. I promised then a live Opal show. I keep my promises, folks!

Fantasy: I'm walking down the street and I bump into someone by accident. Apologizing, I do a double-take - it's Kendra Smith! What's she doing here in _____!? "Why," says she, "I'm about to play an un-announced concert of all new songs. And though we've never met and I don't even know if you have any musical ability at all, would you like to sit in because my (guitar/bass/sitar/trumpet/any damned instrument at all) player couldn't make it?" Duh. Sure.

Repeat fantasy. Forever.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What? Ho? You Don't Say? My Word!

I'm weary of the "Where's the substance to Obama?" question. Those who ask it claim he has no record, has accomplished nothing. And they'd like people to think this despite the fact that it is patently untrue. Anyone reading this right now can easily check Obama's voting record in the Senate, for instance. Or Clinton's. Or McCain's. It took me literally less than 20 seconds (I timed myself) to find this information.

And another 20 seconds of Googling (as a verb, I'm still not sure if this should be capitalized or lowercase - is it a "proper verb"?) and I found this great, thoughtful piece comparing legislation introduced or sponsored by Obama and Clinton. I'm not surprised at the conclusion the author draws, but you should check it out for yourself.

If you trust Wikipedia, check out Obama's Senate record. You can always compare it to his official site.

The point here is that this information is all widely and freely available, folks. Anyone lame-ass enough to say "Where's the beef?" about Obama (or Clinton or McCain) is simply trying to score propaganda points and should be looked at with a dubious, pitying expression. If you are reading these words, then you can find this info for yourself.

To paraphrase Iggy Pop: "Look out, honey, 'cuz we're using technology!"

Welcome to the future.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hilliebman? Lieberton? Huh?

It's a long-held belief in our house that Bill Clinton was the best Republican President they never elected. Read all about Senator Hillary Clinton (R-NY) here. Quite funny, really, when it's not scary. Kind of like this picture.

Our Founding Fathers, Third in a Series

Buzzcocks - Live at The Longhorn, Minneapolis, MN (9/10/79) Part 1
Buzzcocks - Live at The Longhorn, Minneapolis, MN (9/10/79) Part 2

I'm not a Democrat. But I am an athiest. And an anarchist. And some kind of whacked out old punk rocker, too, probably. And...what else? Husband, father...teacher.

Okay, I've said it, I'm a teacher. Hide your young from the subversive weirdo under the bridge with a ruler in one hand and Das Kapital in the other!* Or maybe that's a copy of Never Mind the Bollocks? Stoop yer head, get a closer look, but watch the teeth.

What's the point of all this sharing? Why, that punk rock can change the world, of course. If it weren't for the Buzzcocks, I never would have made an important connection with a new student - a girl all pissed and scared and defensive as hell, using her punk rawk persona to try and intimidate the new teacher and keep the world away from her. But noting the Buzzcocks button on her lapel, I just said "You like the Buzzcocks? Me too. I've seen them live - twice." And, lo, the clouds did part! After she picked her jaw up off the floor, I mean.

There is, of course, some (read as "a great deal of") exaggeration and inference in the above. I can't really know how this girl felt, I can only surmise. She may just have been nervous about the first day in a new school, not pissed at all. But the reality is that the world changed slightly for the better for her in all of two seconds when she found an adult who could connect with her. That's probably all she wanted. She turned into one of the best students I've ever had. I don't know where she is now, but I wish her the best and this one is for Angel.


*Probably should be The Collected Works of Emma Goldman, but that doesn't have the same zing, does it? Me, I blame Monty Python. If it weren't for Michael Palin's cryptically seductive line "We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune," I'd probably be a Republican. Mothers, never let your children watch public television is the moral here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

That's What She Said!

Note: The image for this post has been changed. In my anger, I had my artistic way with a photo of Geraldine Ferraro, which while funny in a juvenile way left me very uncomfortable. I have substituted a photo of a real hero, John Lewis, civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman for Georgia. I deeply admire Rep. Lewis and am proud to have had the opportunity to meet him, talk with him and shake his hand. Regardless of what Geraldine Ferraro has to say about him

Original Post: I'm a white collar education worker these days though I grew up in rural Wisconsin and live and work in a small Midwestern city ravaged by NAFTA plant-closings and a steady population decline, but not too long ago while an older, graying college student, I worked night-shift stocking groceries. Most of my fellow workers (the white ones mainly but probably even some of the black ones) would have bought Geraldine's race-baiting lines whole. And the one's Bill threw out in South Carolina. And I wouldn't blame them for doing so.

These folks are the working poor, badly served by our educational system, shat upon by our government except when it needs warm bodies for foreign wars, working multiple jobs just to stay even if they are lucky, and anyone who throws them a line on who to blame and hate for their current position in life is going to be listened to.

Everyone tries to manipulate and use these people and they know it. This goes for white and black, American and foreign born. And they are not stupid. They are hurt and angry. They see millionaires on TV crying because the paparazzi won't leave them alone, politicians spending 80,000 dollars on hookers, gasoline prices going up every day and they feel pissed and helpless - not a good combination. I ache for them. I work with their children and I see the hard effects of their lives staring me in the face every day. It's a goddamned hard world if you're not a rich bastard and these people know it.

As for Geraldine and Hillary, well, I think the Clinton campaign has been very systemic but none too subtle about playing the race angle. In fact, I think they veered away from subtlety on purpose, going for the gut reactions that would sway some of their perceived base away from Obama. Goebbels would be very proud of the Clinton campaign. They've learned well.

Note: I am scared to post this. It's really hard to say some of these things and I expect there may be a reaction from some quarters, but I am so very angry and I need to vent or I will explode. You should see what I edited out of this post...

Postcript: I really enjoyed my stocking job. It was hard, back- and knee-breaking work and the hours were rotten for crap pay, but the people were good to be with, even though I was the total odd-ball as usual. I waited two months before I cracked my first joke, but it was so nasty and dirty when it came out that it instantly ended my "initiation" period. The guy I was working with ran yelling through the store to repeat it to everyone else on shift. If you've never worked hard physical work with a bunch of guys, and been the odd one out in the group, you've probably never gone through it but believe me that you gotta prove yourself. We had about a dozen on shift, ten guys and two of the better sex, from 18-72 years of age. Yeah, a 72 year-old man had to get a second job to support his family! It happens, it happens. He was the best worker there, too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Not So Dumb Waiters

The Psychedelic Furs - Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK (10/10/82) Part 1
The Psychedelic Furs - Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK (10/10/82) Part 2

Well, how far away from Texas can we go? To wherever the hell it is the 'Furs came from, I guess. Seriously, what planet spawned them? Who told them that every song should have that weird-ass guitar sound and the scary hypno-vocals? How was it possible for them to write such great songs but not be gods?

I dunno, I just dunno. I do know that I loved "President Gas" and they don't play it here in what is otherwise a stunning performance with great sound. You do get a lot of other stuff though. I found myself spinning this about four times in a row yesterday. It's still in my head and that's a good thing. Check out the great 'Furs fansite and, natch, buy shit!

Take That, Steamboat Willie!

Watch that goat!

Earliest known piece of animation ever created is what they are saying about this. It's so lovely I could cry. The strength and beauty in this 5,000 or so year old drawing is an affirmation of the power of human imagination. I'm just in awe and I hope you are too. This is why I love archaeology. I wish I was digging up some flint knappings or maybe even a burin or two right now. Burins are cool.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In a Fight Between Jesus and Buffy, Who'd Win?

A favorite show in our house is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A teenage girl kicking vampire butt while dealing with the everyday horrors of high school and eternal questions of good versus evil, of sin and salvation - it doesn't get any better. It's like Scooby Doo written by Harlan Ellison.

And a while ago I found this great quote from Buffy's creator, Joss Whedon, on the question: "What do you have against being a Christian?"

Joss Whedon: "I don't actually have anything against anybody, unless their belief precludes everybody else's. I am an atheist and an absurdist and have been for many, many years. I've actually taken a huge amount of flak for that. People who have faith tend to think that people who don't don't have a belief system and they don't care if they make fun of them. It's actually very difficult: Atheists are as a group not really recognized by the American public as people to be taken seriously."

Gomonkeygo: I'm interrupting here because the above struck me as very true. A while ago I met with a young friend who was deeply confused and upset. She was trying to become involved as a volunteer in our community, but found the process frustrating. Why? Because every community group she approached was religious-based or run and didn't care that she wanted to contribute and help - they were only interested in talking about Christianity and religion with her. She was ready to give up.

Well, we talked for a while and I convinced her to give it another try, suggesting a few organizations that I thought would be more interested in help than holiness. She did try again. And she did find something, but the journey was made unnecessarily difficult for her because of her status as a non-believer. She felt ostracized, even discriminated against. I've had the same problem, felt the same way, and I'm sure there are millions like us out there but we are usually too timid to raise our voices for fear of backlash.

Back to Joss Whedon: "This does not mean that I rail against religion; however the meaning of life and the meaning of what we do with our lives is something that is extremely important to me. I have included characters from many different religions, particularly in Firefly, but also in the other shows as well, because I'm interested in the concept. I think faith is an extraordinary thing. I'd like to have some, but I don't and that's just how that works.... There's one other thing I would mention, which is from Angel actually: One of the few times I really got to sort of say exactly what I think about the world was in the second season of Angel, episode 16 ['Epiphany'] when he'd gone all dark, because he does that, and that he was getting better, and he basically decided -- he'd been told: 'The world is meaningless, nothing matters.' And he said: 'Well then, this is my statement: Nothing matters, so [the] only thing that matters is what we do.' Which is what I believe: I believe the only reality is how we treat each other. The morality comes from the absense of any grander scheme, not from the presense of any grander scheme.... So the answer is: 'Nothing, unless you've got something against me.'"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Download Quickly, Translate Slowly

The Reivers - Live at Liberty Lunch, Austin, TX (3/5/88)

A lot of Texas bands, Austin bands more specifically, used to cruise through the Midwest in the 80s on tour. I've probably forgotten some of the ones I saw, but I remember the True Believers, Glass Eye, Wild Seeds, Doctors Mob and of course, Zeitgeist/The Reivers. I saw the subject of this post twice that I can remember, under each name. (If you don't know the tale, there was a new-age group only remembered now as the band that threatened legal action against the true Zeitgeist, who made them change their name to The Reivers, itself stolen from a Faulkner novel and meaning, literally, "thieves").

Regardless of the name, the music was excellent. Heartfelt, pop-driven guitar-rock (as opposed to guitar-driven pop-rock!) full of chime and chunk and soaring vocal/instrumental leads. Beautiful music, simply beautiful. If you like this one, I've got one or two more to share.

There are some recent album reissues still available, shit! (And please visit this excellent fan-site for The Reivers, too).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I Yam What I Yam (Apologies to Popeye)

Believe it or not, I'm not a Democrat.

If you've been reading this blog occasionally, hopping in to grab a live show or two, you've seen my political rantings and ravings. Maybe read one or two. And thank you for taking the time if you did.

But you may have left with the mistaken impression that I'm a Big-Capital-Freaking-D "Democrat." Which I ain't.

In my deep, raging heart, I am an anarchist. Of the worst kind. I despise all rules, all order, all structure that seeks to contain and restrain the human heart, mind and imagination - whatever you like to call that motivating energy that makes us human.

Please note that I choose not to mention soul or spirit here because I do not enjoy the religious connotations each word is subject to. As an atheist, I do not believe in any kind of everlasting immortal non-corporeal element to the human condition. We are born - we die - and in-between we tend to suffer a lot. That's it, folks. Nothing more. And that's precisely why we have to do all we can while we are alive to make this beautiful but nasty world a better place to live in, for us and for all who come after us. Anything else is pure dirt mean selfishness.

Given the above, I am still placing myself squarely in support of a Democratic Presidential candidate this year. And only one. Barack Obama can help us change the world. And it needs changing. He can't do it alone and his supporters know this. Regardless of how right-wing pundits and other Democratic candidates disparage him and us, we understand that his "inspiring words" really are just words - until we make them more, until we use them to change the world. I for one am looking forward to that. There's a whole lot that needs a-changin'.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Do As I Say...Or Else

Many stories in the last few weeks have shown how bitterly divided Senator Clinton's own campaign staff is, how willing to resort to in-fighting, back-stabbing and just plain nastiness they are. As example, just this morning The Washington Post ran a story about attempts by Clinton campaign staffers to steal the credit for recent Clinton wins from Mark Penn or at best downplay his role in such.

Since the Senator has prided herself as being an able manager during the campaign, stressing these managerial qualities as necessary for the Presidency (that for some obscure reasons her opponent lacks, reasons not specified by Senator Clinton), it is very telling that she cannot control or manage her own campaign or campaign staff with anything near the effectiveness of her opponent.

One thing we can easily derive from this is that, to Senator Clinton, this type of staff behavior is obviously either perfectly acceptable (perhaps this is the Washington norm she is used to) or completely beyond the scope of her professed managerial skills to cope with. Either conclusion is disturbing.

Even worse, actually frightening, is the idea that many of these campaign staffers would probably end up in the White House, on her Presidential staff, if she were to somehow magically win both the nomination and the election. Internal rancor and in-fighting would reign in a new Clinton White House from Day One if this happens.

The big question, with the easy answer: DO WE WANT THIS?

PS I have to send you away for a moment, for an excellent examination of the failed logic behind Senator Clinton's "But I can win the Big States!" mantra.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What Goes Around

The Long Ryders - Live at Liberty Lunch, Austin, TX (4/3/86) Part 1
The Long Ryders - Live at Liberty Lunch, Austin, TX (4/3/86) Part 2

Contagion strikes The New Disease this week. I'm a walking vector, an agent of infection, a secret carrier sickening all I meet. And on top of that, I've got the flu!

You all seemed to enjoy the last Long Ryders show and this one is great too. Big difference a couple of years of recording and touring makes in their sound, I think. This show again came from the taper directly and I think it's pretty excellent. No energy to say more, I'm afraid.

Enjoy and buy shit!

Monday, March 3, 2008

If Men Were Angels

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."

- James Madison, The Federalist #51

X - Live at the Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA (10/26/82) Part 1

X - Live at the Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA (10/26/82) Part 2
X - Live at the Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA (10/26/82) Part 3
X - Live at the Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA (10/26/82) Part 4

I had free tickets to see X in 1982 but I didn't go. That's all. Still too sad to write more.

Buy shit.