Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The RIGHT Way to Attack

Idiots (Chris Matthews) and morons (Chris Matthews) will tell you that Obama has to get negative and mean and play, oh hell, "hardball" against Clinton to have a chance of winning.

I disagree. I think he can "attack" the policies of Clinton and McCain simply and eloquently and without resorting to the old, divisive school of political tomfoolery that old, divisive political fools (Chris Matthews) think he has to in order to win.

This new ad proves it. Obama doesn't even mention Clinton or McCain by name, but the message is clear - those other guys are not going to help you, they don't care, they are pandering, they will do anything, say anything and lie to you to get your vote, etc, etc. And he gets that point across without acting like a jerk (Chris Matthews).

Vote Obama!

PS - I don't like Chris "Rev. Wright! Rev. Wright! I'm afraid of Rev. Wright!" Matthews. Just want to be clear on this issue.

An Exploded View

Steve Tibbetts - Live at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (12/88) Part 1
Steve Tibbetts - Live at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (12/88) Part 2

I was always wanting some new kind of guitar kick back in the 80s. Still am, honestly. So, everytime I read about an awesome guitarist that I hadn't heard of, say in Forced Exposure or Option or something, down to the record store I went. Bought a lot of crap that way. Piles of crap. Stinky, stinky crap. Steve Vai levels of crap.

But I also got some beautiful things, including a couple of albums by this Steve Tibbetts guy. I found out when I was buying them that he grew up in Madison, so I liked the connection, even if he did run off to that crazy weird Minnesota place.

ECM was and still is the label for Tibbetts. But don't let that label - literally! - fool you. There is nothing fake, phony, lite, new-age or half-ass jazzy about Tibbetts. (I'm talking about current ECM-type-roster musicians, not the greatness that it was in the 70s!)

Tibbetts will take you into deep space, explode a couple suns around and inside your head, toss you into a black hole and jump in gleefully after you, his whole band (all two of them usually) laughing along with him as the g-forces rip all of you into component atoms and spit you out half-way across the Universe when you finally emerge out the quasar at the other end. Or something like that. That's what it felt like when I saw him live, anyways.

And live is how you should experience him if you have qualms about buying anything vaguely new-agey and being laughed at by nerdy record store clerks. There are still a few of them around, right? I saw him at the beautiful Old Music Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, right down by Lake Mendota. Perfect summer night. Lovely conservatory full of public-radio types, all twenty or thirty years older than me and my buddy Larry. I haven't told you about Larry yet. Some other day.

I'm not sure how many of the public-radio types left as soon as they could, but it was more than a handful. They were expecting quiet soothing strains of a vaguely world music kind of variety and instead got supercharged power-trio psychedelia, at Fillmore volume levels! Larry and I laughed through the whole show - it was beautiful!

Anyway, Tibbetts has a great website (dig around and find some of his funny stuff), so you've no excuse not to buy shit!

And the art here is from one Andrew C. Stewart, of whom I know naught but I did steal his picture.

Now playing: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Into My Arms
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The McCrazy Shuck & Jive Report

This is the best examination of McCrazy's "100 years" comment I've seen. A quiet, penetrating x-ray precise exam. Enjoy!

And when you're done watching, you can do some reading. Huffpo's Sam Stein has a scathing piece on McCrazy's memory problem. Evidently, he can't remember anything he says unless it's politically opportune! Funny, huh? No, it's not. Because now he's just lying to us. Shouldn't be a suprise, given his turn to the dark side in the last few years, but it's very sad. Old man sad.

Now playing: The Outsiders - Happyville
via FoxyTunes

Step Up & Do Something, Senator!

There's a brouhaha a-brewin' in West Virginia over the possible disenfranchisement of independent voters. Seems that if you are an independent and go to vote early, you will not be notified that the touch screen you will vote on is not programmed to let you vote for a Presidential candidate! You have to ask for a Democratic or Republican ticket, as an independent, if you want to vote for President in the primary. And the Secretary of State is saying that two words in the legal code make this okay, that these voters don't have to be told this in advance. Read the whole story over here.

Anyway, there's a simple solution to this problem, which won't be fixed by the WV Sec. of State, obviously:

The Obama campaign has to crack open that ol' war chest and spend some of those millions on advertisements - TV, radio, print - informing the independent electorate of the situation. This'll get media coverage of the situation, too, that it may not otherwise get. They can also approach the elected officials of West Virginia and talk all the legal talk they want to about it, but this is a simple outside-the-box solution. And I bet it'll bring thousands of new voters to Obama, grateful that his campaign tok the leadership initiative on this issue. McCain and Clinton won't.

This is a great "leadership moment" for Obama. Let's see if anything happens.

Vote Obama!

Now playing: The Legendary Stardust Cowboy - Shootout On a CB Channel
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 28, 2008

That's When We Reach for OUR Revolvers!

Mission of Burma - Live at MIT on WMBR (2-14-82) Part 1
Mission of Burma - Live at MIT on WMBR (2-14-82) Part 2

Mission of Burma. Jeepers. I came to them through the backdoor. I heard Roger Miller's solo work before I ever heard any MoB. Remember the Maximum Electric Piano! That was incredible stuff, on record definitely but live - simply astounding. Roger was a one-man band on that thing, whether he was jamming "King of the Road" or "Space Is the Place," he'd grab you by the ears and take you along for the ride.

Roger's a heckuva nice guy, too. Very approachable fellow. Talked to him after every show back in the 80s, about music, about beer, important stuff, bought stuff from him, etc. One Wednesday night he played O'Cayz Corral - stunning as usual! - and Friday night, while I'm sitting at the bar waiting for Salem 66 to play (and nobody freakin' showed up to see them!) in comes Roger and his soundman/accomplice, Russ. They were coming back from Minneapolis and wanted to see their buddies play - that's nice! So we sat like civilized folk and watched a great band and drank and talked a little and a good time was had by all. (To Roger - GAH!)

But this is about 'Burma, not Roger. If you, like me, are worried that old bands reuniting automatically means rotten new albums, cast your fears aside, brothers and sisters! Go, now, and buyeth shit from the mighty Mission of Burma - The Obliterati is probably the best album they've ever made. It will damage you in very good ways. You will ask for another, sir, another.

NOTE: Yes, I have my ripping problems fixed but it's not an elegant fix. Takes me about five times as long to rip a disc now, but at least they are without errors and at 320. For future notice, I have "themes" planned for coming weeks. I hope you like them.

Now playing: Julian Cope And Donald Ross Skinner - In Search of Ancient Astronomies
via FoxyTunes

And Now, the Rest of the Story...

There's a non-story this morning making the rounds about Obama and table-tennis money. (You know, "Big Tennis"!) It's sad, very sad - the media's attempt to spin this, I mean, not the story, which wins the "Stupidest Waste of Time and Energy Trying to Create a Political Scandal" Award without even trying.

What am I upset about regarding this? Well, I'm more convinced every single day that there is only one issue that the media really cares about regarding Obama, but they can't say it aloud - the color of his skin. Any way they can spin any story to the negative, they will. Because they can't come right out and start every story with:

"In case you hadn't heard, there's a BLACK MAN running for President! And now to Suzie with the weather..."

I'm probably just paranoid, but the giant cone of silence which has now descended upon the Rev. Wright story after he shows himself to be a smart, reasonable, caring, decent human being rather than the screaming white-hating racist the media (even the NYTripe) was painting him as, is the final nail in the coffin. It's the proof. If they can't go racist on Obama, they'd rather not touch the story.

This is the state of politics and political reporting in Amerikkka today. Ain't we got fun?!

BTW: That's supposedly Jelly Roll Morton, one of the icons of American music, in blackface in the photo. But I think, if you squint, you can tell it's actually Chris Matthews. The lady is about to kick him where he most needs kicking.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Vote! Baby! Vote!

The Obama campaign is set to announce a 50-state voter registration drive. So what? Who cares? Big deal, right?

Right, it is a big deal. Only a candidate sure of himself and of his ability to gain his party's nomination (not to mention aware of of his RESPONSIBILITY to be as inclusive as possible, to help re-energize the American electorate) would dare to sponsor this kind of initiative. Sure as hell, ol' McCrazy won't be doing this. Clinton? She'll probably call it a smokescreen, a trick, an illusion, more phony rhetoric, etc - but the truth is that she is too frightened to ever do anything like this. The last thing her campaign wants is more new voters coming into play, regardless of which party they support, as it will upset her ever shrinking base, making her fragile and unreal claim to hold the lead in this primary season even more untenable.

BRAVO! Senator Obama - if you do this, it will be the finest and most positive act of your campaign to date and, I hope, a brave indication of things to come. This is the LEADERSHIP we need as Americans. (But, if you say you're going to do it, you'd better do it. This isn't like forgetting to pick up the eggs and butter at the store, man, after you said you would, okay?)


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Please stay tuned, though. I mentioned a few posts back that I'm having ripping problems. Getting lots of diginoise in the rips.

Right now, I'm trying a different drive with a new ripping program and hope to have the problem solved soon. Looks like it'll work, but I'm having difficulty with bitrate quality. Can't get the damn thing to give me the flat 320 bit-rate I want to use and may have to settle for a 320-VBR. Probably no big deal in the end. Most of that extra filesize is just silence taking up way too much space, anyway.

What does this mean for you? Smaller filesize downloads, so you'll like it more than me. I hate change. You've probably noticed that by now.

Now playing: Bill Drummond - Ballad For A Sex God
via FoxyTunes

Weird Reasons to Vote for Obama #3

Lincoln's Birthday!

In 2009, we celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of our finest President, Abraham Lincoln. I'm very biased about this, having a tangled past professional work history with Old Abe, but I don't think you can point to a greater leader at a greater time of national turmoil and upheaval than Lincoln. FDR is second in my book. Sorry, Greatest Generation.

Who better to have as our 44th President than Barack Obama, the living validation of what Lincoln died for. If you don't think Lincoln died for our sins, as a nation, because of slavery, then you're a very bad, very ignorant person and I'd like to ask you to leave this blog immediately. Go on, now, shoo!

Is this "playing the race card"? I dunno. Not the way Bill Clinton has been and then been denying that he has been. Or the way the Republicans (with the silent consent of the Clinton campaign) are now doing in North Carolina. What it is, simply, is a statement of fact: Barack Obama will be the first black President of the United States of America, a nation once torn apart in bloodiest war over the enslavement of African-Americans. (And if you are a neo-Confederate who thinks the Civil War was NOT about slavery, follow that swinging door, please. You're neither wanted nor welcome here, I'm afraid.)

I'm looking forward with great pleasure and anticipation to the speech President Obama will give, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial one would hope, on that morning of February 12, 2009. If you think he's given us some good words so far, just wait. In fact, I may start making my travel plans now. I think my family and I need to be there on that day.

Vote Obama!

Now playing: Magazine - Motorcade
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Clinton Loses Again

No matter how you spin it (I'm circling so fast right now, I'll probably vomit before I'm done posting), Clinton lost Pennsylvania last night.


Allow me to explain...bowing...twirling mustache...

Not too long ago, though already conveniently forgotten by the traditional media, Clinton was expected to wipe the floor with Obama in PA - 20 percentage point win! Huzzah for the white woman!

And yet, and yet, after six weeks of constant negative attacks by her against Obama and the spurious Rev. Wright and "bitter" controversies, he actually closed that percentage gap by ten points. Freakin' amazing, I'd say.

The media moronocracy is saying how incredible her win is, given that fact that Obama outspent her by so many millions, etc. But it's not incredible, it's not even a positive for her. She lost ten percent of her perceived base in PA. That's the story. And the numbers people say that Obama picked them up, from OH to PA, that his support in this area has increased. (That's them bitter white, older and rural voters who are supposed to love Clinton).

The infuriating aspect of this money argument is that it paints Clinton as the underdog. "Oh, she only spent such-and-such! But big bad Barack Obama spent millions more and still couldn't beat her! See what a better candidate she'd be?" This is an insulting position. If Clinton had had the money, she would have spent it. She didn't, because she's run a poor campaign and hasn't been able to garner the kind of financial support Obama has. Another reason why she is losing overall and why she lost PA last night.

And this morning, who gets another superdelegate? Hmmm. I wonder.

Vote Obama!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spare a Penny, Guv'? Ha'penny?

This guy's not an elitist? This guy cares about the working class? This guy thinks he can fool us?

Don't even bother wondering why the traditional media has yet to seriously go after McCain on any issue. It's not in their best interests to do so. A strong McCain in the fall against Obama (not gonna happen, Clinton!) means a more heated election and more opportunity for them to spin and pontificate and play their reindeer games. So they'll let McCrazy go for now, regardless of how many gaffes he makes, how many inconsistencies in his policies are exposed, no matter how great the evidence of his past political pandering to lobbyists is - doesn't matter. They're not going to touch him unless he publicly cuts his own - or someone else's - throat. Then they will descend.

Note: I meant the above quite literally. McCrazy will have to be caught, on tape, actually killing someone or himself, for the media to pay attention. I was not being figurative.

Now playing: Chico Freeman - No Time Left
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 21, 2008

Don't Worry About the Government (Our Founding Fathers, Fifth in a Series)

Talking Heads - Live at Max's Kansas City, NYC (10-9-76)

August, 1984. Driving on some unknown highway, in the middle of nowhere Connecticut, trying to find fabulous Willimantic to visit my favorite bookseller in the world (and good buddy), Mark Zeising, my best friend Dan in the car with me after we'd dropped our other friend Mark off at MIT for his freshman year - Dan of the motorcyle, Mark of Camper Van, you may recall - and the only good things about being lost were the gorgeous green and black patterns of sun and shadow we were driving through in this oddly forested Eastern state and the Talking Heads. My boombox was on the back seat and we were cranking the first album. Nothing like "Psycho Killer" to keep you focused! Whether you want to be or not.

On the eve of the Pennsylvania primary (hey, we drove through PA twice on that trip, getting lost in scary Pennsylvania "Deliverance"-country at one point thanks to major-smartman Mark's deficient map-reading skills), this post goes out to the two hottest political talking heads on TV - Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow! If only you guys would marry, mate or somehow protoplasmically merge and give us a million little Chuckdows or Madtodds to make the world a better place. Yet, somehow, I'm thinking that ain't gonna happen. Anyway, there is nothing more refreshing than to hear the clear, intelligent voices of Todd and Maddow cut through the baloney and explain the reality of the unreal, of politics. Thank you both!

Buy shit!


May I Have a Scarf, Please?

Nikki Sudden - Live on WMFU, NYC (1/18/02) Part 1
Nikki Sudden - Live on WMFU, NYC (1/18/02) Part 2

Oh, Nikki. I did cry, when I read you were gone. No more Nikki Sudden in the world, ever again, except for the songs left behind. I'm a sad romantic at heart and I'd like nothing more than a radio station that plays hopelessly romantic real music, like Johnny Thunders' and Nikki's and Jonathan Richman's (yeah - Jonathan!) all day, every day. These guys can break my heart, tear me apart and put me back together again in one song. Fuck Dylan.

How to categorize this one is the only reason I haven't posted it before. Nikki's star rose during the 80s and beyond, but this is by far the most recent recording I've posted. But it's the only live Nikki I have that plays. Got a few more earlier ones but they are screwed up and I can't share them. Welcome, again, to the world of bootlegs. I've got dozens of shows I've wanted to share with you, but the damn CDR medium is a fickle storage fiend and my archive is deteriorating as it sits in its little boxes and booklets and nooks and crannies. Or maybe they play fine on a stereo but won't rip without digi-noise regardless of software used. I went through ten shows last night and wasn't able to find one that didn't have flaws now.

Fortunately, this one came out great. Nikki sounds fantastic! The only drawback is the demented, infatuated DJ. You'll want to find some way, some horrible and drastic way, to keep her from talking by the end of the broadcast, trust me. After a couple of listens to this, I'm pretty sure Nikki wanted to as well, as much of a gentleman as he tried to be with her.

This one's for my brother Mike, who turned me onto Nikki and The Swell Maps and The Jacobites and a helluva lot more. Thanks, Mike!

If you don't own, if you've never heard (!) Robespierre's Velvet Basement, then immediately buy shit!

Now playing: Robyn Hitchcock And The Egyptians - Never Stop Bleeding
via FoxyTunes

Friday, April 18, 2008

From Nunn, To You

The following is from an Obama campaign press release about the two newest endorsements he has received, from former Senators Sam Nunn and David Boren, highly recognized foreign policy experts in the Democratic fold.

* * *

Former Senator Sam Nunn said, "America remains the strongest nation in the world, but we can only be successful in tackling our toughest problems if we gain cooperation at home and abroad. Our next president - working across party and economic lines - must restore and strengthen our national purpose, our credibility, our competence and our spirit.

· We have developed a habit of avoiding the tough decisions and seemingly lost our ability to build consensus to tackle head-on our biggest challenges.

· Demonizing the opposition, oversimplifying the issues, and dumbing down the political debate prevent our country from coming together to make tough decisions and tackle our biggest challenges.

· Solving America's problems will require difficult choices and sacrifices and leaders capable of considering new ideas from both political parties.

· On foreign policy and security policy, we must recognize that we are not limited to a choice between belligerency and isolation and that we must listen to lead successfully on the key issues facing America and the world.

· Our next president must also recognize that the battle against violent terrorists, while requiring a prudent use of military power, is also a long-term contest of psychology and ideas.

* * *

Imagine this kind of President, this kind of Presidency. Imagine the American people taking back the reins of control of our government by the simple act of voting this November.

This election has gone far beyond getting rid of Bush and Company. It's become about re-imagining American reality. That takes effort, hard work - but the ideas and visions about the new possible America that Senator Obama wants us to share with him are already starting to work. You can say that Nunn and Boren are being typical old-school pols, sucking up to the next center of power via their endorsements, but I think the above says differently. I think it says that they - or Nunn, at least - have looked deeply at the difficulties and problems we are facing and decided to put their names and their experience and their energies toward solving these difficulties and problems. Bravo, guys, bravo!

Vote Obama!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Weird Reasons to Vote for Obama #2

Kids in the White House!

Yeah! How wonderful it'll be to have a couple of little girls running around the White House - maybe they'll want a goat to play with like Tad and Willie Lincoln did! (They also wanted a cannon, but that's another story).

I just watched one of Obama's Pennsylvania ads and was touched by the footage of him with his wife and girls on the bus. It's just a brief second or two, but the obvious love in this family shines through. Yesterday I read a blogger who wrote about Obama making a building full of Very Important People (ie, jerks) wait while he called home to say goodnight to his daughters. That's a good Dad, people.

Finally, as a teacher and a parent, I'm certain that education will be an important issue to the parent of two grade-school girls. I know that, as parents, it's one of the most frequent conversation topics between my wife and I - and I bet it is in the Obama household, too. It's a conversation I'd really like to have with him. If he wins, maybe we all can.

Vote Obama!

Now playing: Laika & The Cosmonauts - C'Mon Do The Laika!
via FoxyTunes

Down from the Mountain!

Green On Red - Live at CBGB's, New York, NY (12/10/83) Part 1
Green On Red - Live at CBGB's, New York, NY (12/10/83) Part 2

Green On Red - Live at Glastonbury, UK (6/21/85) Part 1
Green On Red - Live at Glastonbury, UK (6/21/85) Part 2

I'm too nice to you guys. Charlton Heston is dead and I can't think of anything better to do than give you damn dirty apes TWO Green On Red shows in one day? What would Moses do!?!

It must be the grief. You'll have to excuse me. Shit.

Personal Musical History Endnote: First live band I ever saw was a bunch of grade school kids playing 50s rock 'n' roll covers in the local elementary school gym - "Splish splash I was taking a bath!" I wasn't even five years old. They were all dressed in perfect homemade replica costumes, down to the masks, of the gorilla soldiers from Planet of the Apes. I think I was permanently screwed from that moment on. Could a concert ever be better?

Now playing: Only Ones, The - From Here To Eternity
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Giving Back

I grew up, as anyone who's read more than one of my posts may know, around Madison, Wisconsin. In the 1970s. If you know your recent American history, you know that Madison was a hotbed of anti-Vietnam activity in the 60s and early 70s. Quite a radical student population and even a fairly radicalized general population, too. They elected a young firebrand named Paul Soglin their Mayor in 1972 - who became the first US Mayor to meet with Fidel Castro. I remember my older brothers cheering as the election results came in. Opposite this news, The Wizard of Oz was playing. Fitting, eh? (They kept flipping channels, really pissing me off. Right in the middle of the flying monkey scene, too!)

Anyway, this anti-war sentiment attracted me quite a bit even as I bummed through grade school in surplus army jackets. And while I eventually grew to loathe all the hairy, smelly old hippies clogging up the town - part of what attracted me to the punk scene in Madison was the anti-hippie attitude - that anti-war bias never left me. (I can forgive the hippies now, even tolerate them. They made some decent music and had extraordinary - wonder why? - ideas on graphic design.)

But I never did understand that attitude of some anti-war protesters, to blame the soldiers. I've never thought it as widespread as some do, but it existed. The soldiers then didn't choose to make war in Vietnam, just like our soldiers today didn't choose their war. It was the leaders, the politicians making these choices. And it's the leaders we have to critically examine, castigate, berate, bother and vote out of office if we don't care for their leadership in times of both war and peace.

One of our potential leaders and our current one are currently choosing to deny their responsibility to our serving troops. Neither McCain nor Bush are backing the new and improved GI Bill, which will give these men and women greater opportunities to create the kind of American Dream lives for themselves and their families that they are supposedly fighting to preserve. We did this after World War II (which our current war is often sadly equated with) and the entire country benefited from it. Not as many soldiers are serving now as then, but the obvious benefits to our soldiers have made more than fifty Senators from both parties endorse this bill. But not McCain. And Bush may use that ol' VETO stamp again.

Why? What possible reason has McCain for not endorsing? Evidently he hasn't had time to read the bill yet. No biggie. He'll get around to it someday. After all, if he's elected we've got another 100 years of war in Iraq to look forward too. Plenty of time then.

And Bush? Why, he can't support the bill because it would encourage soldiers to leave the Army and not re-enlist. He'd prefer that they not have any better options in life than perpetual military service. If we are to start making non-Army life look even a little bit better than Army life, there won't be anyone left to fight his wars! Such logic is unimpeachable. Like Bush, evidently.

What can we do? Call, email or write your Senator. Tell him or her your position on the new GI Bill. And maybe give Big John's office a call too and let him know what you think. Don't bother with Bush. He's not taking any calls from the American public. Never has, never will.

Now playing: John Coltrane - Dealin' [Take 2]
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weird Reasons to Vote for Obama #1

Obama makes mistakes.

And then he admits that he's done so, honestly. No hiding behind obfuscations and lies and distortions of reality.

He says - "Hey, I made a mistake. I'm sorry. Let's talk about it and see what we can all learn from this." Have you ever heard a politician say this before - and on the campaign trail? Where one must be perfect all of the time? I never have.

I like this about Obama because this is also one of my classroom rules - a rule for me, not for my students. If I make a mistake, I admit it. Then I apologize and make amends. Real people screw up and when they do, they take responsibility and do what they can to fix it.

Only liars and fools never make mistakes.

Now playing: John Coltrane - How Deep Is the Ocean?
via FoxyTunes

Our Founding Fathers, Fourth in a Series

Devo - Live at The Old Waldorf, San Francisco, CA (11/20/78) Part 1
Devo - Live at The Old Waldorf, San Francisco, CA (11/20/78) Part 2

Would you please tell the court your whereabouts on the night of October the 14th, 1978? You do remember where you where on the night of October the 14th, 1978, don't you? You do remember precisely where you were, with whom you were being, and your state of naked or non-nakedness when you first saw Devo on Saturday Night Live on the night of October the 14th, 1978? Don't you? Don't you!

Of course you do, we all do. That was the night we all Devolved, wasn't it, second only to the 1865 Ascension of Abraham Lincoln, Vampyre President, in the annals of Amerikan History. (Remember when they got rid of the "C" in Amerika, after the Kaiser's coronation in New Berlin, formerly New York, in 1920? Why'd we never change it back? I mean, we kicked out the Huns in the Uprising of '28, but we never changed the name back? What's with that.)

The New Disease team and I have been working hard all this past fortnight to bring you this rare arkival Eye-Footage (TM) and Ear-Melodiousness (TM) of our Devolved Lords in action. The remaining unconverted will be converted...NOW...they will Devolve!

(Shit). (& shit).

Friday, April 11, 2008

All Hail...the Queen?

I've been scanning lots of blogs about the recent Mark Penn situation in the Clinton campaign. The comments, pro and con, for Clinton or for Obama, are as interesting and rancorous as usual. But now Senator Obama has come out and said that he would have fired Mark Penn if in Senator Clinton's position. This is of course hindsight and political talking-pointism (did I invent a word!?) at work, but I think he's telling the truth.

Clinton supporters are trying to sell the idea that she was never aware of Penn's relationship with Colombia and that he wasn't "in line" with her on this issue. On the contrary, I think Penn was entirely "in line" with the campaign and Clinton. I'm certain Clinton was completely aware of his relationship with Colombia. She is on record as being against the trade deal only on human rights issues, not because she thinks it will hurt American workers - the opposite of her newfound stance on NAFTA. That Penn hasn't been fired is indicative of how close their relationship remains and will remain if she - magic ring & pixie dust time!!! - gets back into the White House.

What about us, though - how does this relate to Joe and Jolene Voter?* We need to think not just about the candidates we are standing by as voters but about the people these candidates have chosen to have stand by them. If you can still say "I'm with Hillary" after you've done this, then good luck to you and to the country - because we're all going to need it! Remember that these are the people she'll be bringing with her into the White House. Does Penn on Pennsylvania Ave sound good?

If Clinton wins, be prepared for another presidential term (please! - not terms!) of corruption, denial, swindling, lying, incompetence and political malfeasance taken to gross extremes. You can bet that Clinton has been watching Bush expand the "Imperial Presidency" very closely, taking notes about what she could and would do with the kind of powers Bush has invented and invested himself with.

Empress Hillary the First, anyone?

* Stupid, eh? But it made me chortle. Yes, I chortle.

Now playing: Fairport Convention - Night In The City
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Welcome to the Mushroom Hill

Plasticland - Live in Chicago, IL (1984)

Come one, come all, children of all ages, humped and plain, straight and crooked, broken and reborn! The Mushroom Hill is open to all! None are refused!

Here's the post I've been waiting for, the first of many. I hope you all enjoy this because I'm just plain tickled to share it with you.

First Plasticland song I heard was "Euphoric Trap Door Shoes" on Mike Rock's Friday afternoon show on WORT-FM. We were on our concrete patio outside of the kitchen, perfect Wisconsin summer afternoon, shade and sun in exactly equal proportions (odd, eh?), cats and kittens running all over the place (it was a farm, eh, and we had lots of cats, ya know). I think we were taking a break from bailing hay, which if I have to explain means you didn't grown up on a farm with hungry livestock.

Have you seen That 70s Show? The Forman family has a set of white metal patio furniture with distinctively retro yellow, white and green seat cushions - we had that set! Hauled it up from the basement every year, cleaned it off and enjoyed its plasticy, scrunchy goodness all summer long. We'd sometimes bring the little b&w kitchen TV outside on an extension cord at night and watch our sitcoms in the cool of the yard.

I was sitting in one of those chairs when I first heard Plasticland. Kinda fitting. Maybe it was meant to be.


Wha? In 24-hours, only six downloads of this show! I guess I didn't do my job right, making the assumption that for you, as for me, Plasticland is a household name-band. My apologies. I get carried away by my enthusiasms sometimes.

(You can find three OOP albums and an EP by Plasticland for your tasting pleasure at my old blog. And Twilight Zone has the first album, though this is actually in print again through the band. But they don't have a website right now. Working on that, really.)

Here's a blatant copyright-infringable addition, the All Music bio on Plasticland by Steve Huey (additions and corrections by me in brackets):

Plasticland's acid-drenched neo-psychedelic sound bore some resemblance to L.A.'s concurrent paisley underground scene, but instead of drawing their chief inspiration from the Velvet Underground, the Milwaukee quartet had a greater affinity for vintage garage rock and British mind-benders like Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and the Pretty Things. Formed in 1980 out of the ashes of prog [kraut] rockers Arousing Polaris, Plasticland included vocalist/guitarist/organist Glenn Rehse, guitarist Dan Mullen, bassist John Frankovic, and drummer Vic Demechei, who debuted that summer with the "Mink Dress" single on Scadillac. Several more singles and EPs followed, including 1982's Pop! Op Drops (whose material later became part of the band's first album); there were also several personnel shifts, as Demechei was replaced first by Bob DuBlon, then Rob McCuen. (Several tracks with the Violent Femmes' Brian Ritchie on guitar were also recorded during this era. [Included on the Mink Dress compilation])

Plasticland's first full-length, Color Appreciation, was issued on the French Lolita label in 1984; a year later, it was re-released in America by Pink Dust with two different tracks, titled simply Plasticland. The follow-up, Wonder Wonderful Wonderland, was released before the end of 1985 [pseudo-produced by Paul Cutler of The Dream Syndicate], and featured Mellotron and bouzouki, among other vintage psychedelic accoutrements. By the time of 1987's Salon, Demechei had returned to the fold. Plasticland subsequently resurfaced on the Midnight label with a pair of live albums: 1989's You Need a Fairy Godmother featured onetime Pink Fairies/Pretty Things drummer Twink [really just the band backing one of their heroes, not any kind of proper collaboration], and 1990's Confetti. In the late '80s, a German fan commissioned an album, Dapper Snappings, for his Repulsion label. The album was eventually released in 1994. Some of the band's early recordings were collected on Mink Dress and Other Cats, while a career-spanning collection [Make Yourself a Happening Machine - shit now!] was issued in 2006.

Now playing: Phantom Tollbooth - Landing is Gear
via FoxyTunes

Monday, April 7, 2008

When Mars Attacks - We'll Be Ready!

I've just finished reading The Martian War by Gabriel Mesta (pseudonym for Kevin J. Anderson). It's an amusing piece of Victorian speculative whimsy about the "real" adventures of Herbert George Wells, fighting the good fight for the Empire against the real Martian invaders. Nicely done overall. I liked the inclusion of Thomas Huxley as a main character in particular. One can't say too much about the book without giving things away, but Anderson weaves threads of our Wells' fictional creations throughout his narrative. Should you run out and get it right now? No. But if you like Steampunk or Wells or Anderson (first novel I've read by him), then you may like this.

(If you want to read a really good book with a somewhat parallel premise, search out The Space Machine by Christopher Priest. This novel may have a hint of the 60s New Wave to it, by association more than anything, which puts some folks off, but it's one of my favorite Priest novels. Of course, if you think "New Wave" only refers to late 70s/early 80s pop music, this reference is going to really confuse you, ain't it?)

The point of this post is actually to link you into this neat new world I found - the world of Victorian Science Fiction as acted out with homemade and storebought miniatures! Tiny things are really neat already, but tiny little ironclad tanks battling tiny little Martians in people's basements is so cool! Model railroading has nothing on this. I'd much rather paint a tiny lead figurine called "Masked Minion with Diabolical Weapon" than the caboose of a train!

A Correction, Decades Late:

Mr. Christopher Priest was kind enough to check out my blog today and his response to my categorization of The Space Machine as New Wave is thus:

"I've never heard anyone say that before!...I always thought of Space Machine as a sort of personal revolt against the dogma of the new wave, then current. I wrote it in the early 1970s, at a time when the main proponents of the new wave (Moorcock et al) had become decadent, orthodox and self-gratifying. I never did have much to do with it, although it was huge at the time I started writing. I could understand why you might say that about a couple of the novels that preceded it, but not The Space Machine..."

And he's right. I was writing about the book through the distorted lens of teenage perceptions, lumping it in with all the "dangerous" New Wave I was reading at the time, hence the continuing taint it has suffered in my sorry brain ever since. My younger self can't apologize, but I can. Sorry, Mr. Priest! And thank you for helping me to see my younger self in a new light. It was very interesting and refreshing.

Now playing: Teenage Fanclub - Neil Jung (Alternate Version)
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Fairport Convention - If It Feels Good, You Know
via FoxyTunes


Camper Van Beethoven - Live at CBGB's, New York, NY (3/21/86) Part 1
Camper Van Beethoven - Live at CBGB's, New York, NY (3/21/86) Part 2

WORT, 89.9 on your FM dial, Madison's "Listener Sponsored Radio" - I owe them a huge debt. After my older brothers, they introduced me to so much music over so many years. Mike Rock and the extraordinary Harry Rag hit me right between the ears so many times my brain is permanently bruised. Thanks, guys!

Anyway, for a year or two way back when, every weekday afternoon at 3pm, whichever DJ was currently on-air would play one side of a new LP, the next side the following day. Whenever possible, I was sitting alone somewhere with my battered old Panasonic radio (an early 70s relic, with a very rare built-in cassette recorder/player!) to wrap myself around some new sounds. Sometimes, if I had a blank tape, I'd try and record. (I've still got one tape somewhere of an afternoon WORT show from 1983 or '84. If I can find it, maybe I'll put it up here).

One day the DJ sounded pretty confused. Had no idea what to say about the new album, couldn't describe it, had trouble with the name of the band and the album, but played Side One anyway. You've probably guessed now, but I was in love before "Lassie Went to the Moon" was over. I'd never heard anything like it before. (Was there anything like it before?) My head was spinning and I couldn't wait to hear side two. Maybe I went downtown that same day or had to wait anxiously until the weekend, but I finally got to Paradise Records, my then favorite store, and found this beautiful thing, Telephone Free Landslide Victory by Camper Van Beethoven.

If you've seen the original LP, you know I really mean beautiful. A letter-press edition by Bruce Licher of Independent Project Press, it's high-order psychedelic eye-candy. Maybe the best album cover of the 1980s? I was afraid to touch it, but I had to have it. (This was my first exposure to the world of letterpress editions in any format, an art I've grown to love. As a bibliophile I'm always looking for letterpress...sounds like a song, eh?)

I saw Camper Van the next summer at O'Cayz Corral, with my friend Mark who was back from his first year at MIT (smartest fellow I've ever met - full ride to MIT - quite a guy!). We balanced precariously on the bench against the wall to see better, trying not to fall down as the crowd surged around us. It was a night of great feedback and great beauty. Mark grinned ear to ear the whole show. Mark wasn't the world's biggest grinner, so I knew it was good.

This one's for Mark.


NOTE: (You can also get this show and others at the Live Music Archive. I had it ripped and upped before I thought to check.)

Now playing: Giant Sand - Change Is Now
via FoxyTunes

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Meatballs Were Excellent

The Rain Parade - Live at Bunky's, Madison, WI (11/8/84) Part 1

The Rain Parade - Live at Bunky's, Madison, WI (11/8/84) Part 2

My family celebrated my twelfth birthday with dinner at Pino's, an Italian basement restaurant in downtown Madison. Considering my Dad hated everything Italian, foodwise, it was pretty cool we got to go there. I'm sure he had a steak. (He knew the owner, I remember, but he knew lots of people. Madison was a pretty small city when he was growing up in it and by the late 70s he'd been a businessman in it for a quarter of a century. You get to know people that way.)

Upstairs of Pino's was Bunky's, which is what Pino's used to be called. If you want to be less confused, read about it here. Anyway, Bunky's was now a "nightclub" - a term always a little too glamorous for Madison, I think. Especially in the 70s. I remember looking up the stairs to the club and wondering what it was like, what kind of stuff happened in a "nightclub"?

A few years later I found out, when Bunky's started to host punk shows. I saw quite a few there - it was a good venue. Big and open with a low, large stage and an excellent real dance floor (vestiges of nightclub glory, one supposes). I saw Mojo Nixon (right after his second album came out I think - first was best). I saw The Mekons. I saw a lot I can't remember. I saw dozens of local bands.

But I didn't see this show. Damn.

NOTE: Another show I missed, that same fall, was The Church. My buddy Doug and I actually made it to the door - it would have been my first show at Bunky's - but the cover was ten bucks. Ten bucks! for a punk show! in 1984! That was all we had between us. We were disappointed kids that night.

I've been told The Church were also taped. Wouldn't be surprised if by the same person. I talked to a guy who was at the show and he remembers another guy with a taping unit. If anyone has it...please?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Best Bush Quote Ever

"[H]istory takes a long time for us to reach.”

— George W. Bush,
Feb 10, 2008

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Back to the Future, First in a Series

Skullflower - Live at The Garage, London, UK (6/15/95)

I feel compelled to prove to you all that I neither live in the past nor wallow in nostalgia for the 80s. Except for the music, the 80s stunk. Okay, there were some damn good books too. And a handful of decent films. Other than that...!

Musically, in the 90s, I began to delve into heavier, droning, sometimes psychedelic instrumental rock. And jazz, especially Sun Ra. I gave up on songs and songwriters for almost a decade. I barely heard a song I thought had been worth the writing let alone the recording, except for the work of Vic Chesnutt. Go see him live if you ever get the chance. It's worth days of driving, nights without sleep. Trust me!

One band that really tripped my trigger was Skullflower. Hard to find but worth the effort. This is the only boot I've got and it's just one nearly 40-minute dronefest of a piece. Beautiful! I think this is only part of the show, though. Another piece from the same gig, much shorter, is on the Transformer album.

This is the first of a new series, projecting into the future from the 80s. Hope ya like it.

They also got new shit out!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oh, How He Hated to Shave!

THE BIG QUESTION: Do we need a Commander in Chief with military experience?

There's an awful lot of folks these days thinking that the only kind of leadership experience a President of the United States needs is military. Just scan the comments sections in political blogs. You'll find it, I guarantee.

But is there any truth to this idea? Let's look at one former President - Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln is, I think unarguably, our finest President. Tall, funny, smart, ruggedly handsome (stretching the definition of handsome a bit), politically acute and a military hero. Helluva guy!

Wait, I mis-wrote. Abe was never a military hero. I must've been thinking of Hillary.

So what was the ultimate War President's military record? Well, during the Black Hawk War, Lincoln was the elected Captain of a militia band that never really saw any heat, any action. More like a bunch of drunks with guns in reality (except for Abe, who was always the odd-man out when it came to drinking in the 19th century). What kind of experience did this give him to lead the country during its darkest hour? Lincoln experienced an incredible insight, that he could inspire and command the respect of his peers. It was an eye-opening revelation for the aspiring young Abe. Personally, I think this is the kind of experience a leader can gain in almost any situation. Obama's work on Chicago's south side as a community organizer is as good if not better than Lincoln's military record when it comes to standards of leadership.

An interesting corollary to this question of military service: Can one only serve one's country by serving in the military? If this is again to be a benchmark for the Presidency, then I think it's time to change the Constitution. Henceforward, only veterans can run for or be elected to the Office of President of the United States of America. Hallelujah - we're all saved!

Sound good? No, of course it doesn't. Pretty damn stupid. McCain has a lot of medals and has served honorably in the military. Bush supposedly had some kind of military experience. Bill Clinton sure as heck didn't. Hillary doesn't. Neither does Obama. How many medals would qualify as "military experience"? How many years? Does getting shot in the face by a sitting Vice President count?* Does the Coast Guard?

Jokes aside, if we look at the non-military records of the candidates, I have to say that each one has met or exceeded the "service to one's country" Presidential benchmark. All have served, in many ways, to do what they have thought best for this nation and its people. I don't agree with a lot of the things two of them have done, but that's beside the point right now. And the example of Lincoln is enough to teach us all that military experience doesn't count for squat. Leadership counts. Inspiring others to do and be their best counts. I think there's only one candidate right now that meets these benchmarks.

Vote Obama!

* BTW, our current VP has absolutely no military experience. In fact, he went out of his way to get deferment after deferment. Class act all the way, our Cheney, class act.