Sunday, September 28, 2008


Today is my father's birthday, and we all wish him a happy one. He was born seventy-six years ago in Brooklyn, New York.

Frank Sinatra, from "It Happened in Brooklyn."

On the lighter side, Rev. Vinny Cipacella of Brooklyn offers his abridged version of Catholicism.

(Click the arrow even if it says "no longer available")

Saturday, September 27, 2008


It's hard to believe Paul Newman is dead. For my generation, he was more than an actor--he was an icon. We followed him through The Hustler, Hud, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, and Cool Hand Luke. It sounds corny, but he taught us a lot about style, and we goofy kids tried to copy his cool. This clip is the tail end of Cool Hand Luke, a rebel who fought till the end. So long, Paul.

Paul Newman, 1925-2008

As you may know, Paul Newman was a lifelong liberal who actively participated in his world. Along with his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, he was often tarred a Hollywood Liberal by ignorant conservative rubes--you know the type. Newman supported the peace candidate Eugene McCarthy in 1968, and was number nineteen on Richard Nixon's enemies list. This time around, he was a supporter and contributer to the Barack Obama campaign.

He was also a race car driver, and successful business owner who donated all his profits to good causes. Here is a brief history below.


David Letterman riffed on McCain after the Senator canceled his appearance on the Letterman Show to fly back to Washington and take care of the economic crisis. Then Letterman discovered McCain down the hall with Katie Couric at the same time he was supposed to be taping "Late Night," and the sparks flew.

In this wonderful clip, Dave rips him a new one. After years of smarmy sleepwalking and inconsequential patter, Dave has his old fire back.

Friday, September 26, 2008


As you know, the Republicans have been hiding Sarah Palin from interviewers (28 days without a single news conference since her selection), and with good reason: she's dumb as a sack of hammers. After a high profile "meeting with world leaders," which was basically a photo-op with no press allowed, she was prepped in seclusion and jammed with talking points like the Manchurian Candidate, but still managed to sound woefully uninformed in an interview with Charles Gibson.

She sounded even worse in an interview with Katie Couric, which ran Wednesday and Thursday nights. Here's a clip...and yes, I'm rubbing it in. Coming on the heels of the McCain attempt to postpone his debate with Obama--and to bump the Palin/Biden debate completely--it all begins to make sense why they hid Palin from the press for so long.

In the words of today's Los Angeles Times, "if she's lucky, few are listening."

"The Alaska governor defended her puzzling claim that geographic proximity makes her some sort of expert on Russia; went nearly blank when queried about McCain's achievements as a big-business regulator; agreed America 'may find itself' on the road to another Great Depression; and, promoting a troop surge in Afghanistan, casually suggested that it 'will lead us to victory there, as it has proven to have done in Iraq.'" - LA Times, 9/26/08

dumb and dumber?

Here's Palin's confused (and confusing) take on the bailout:

" . . . where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh -- it's got to be all about job creation too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, um, scary thing, but 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We've got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that."

Sure, it's a jumbled mess. The problem is, there are plenty of dumb people out there...and if they link up with the confused, and connect with the folks who are too racist to ever vote for a black man, then Palin and McCain might have a chance of winning. God, I hope not.

For the LA Times article, click HERE.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


joy division

This election is depressing, and when you're depressed there's nothing like joy division. The music is deathly dark, dark as a drum of pitch, and you've already had a couple pints with your mates and these rain-slick streets are slippery sideways and you catch yourself falling but right yourself and laugh but when you close your eyes there are messages, short wave radio transmissions, codes just beyond your understanding, strange signals, squelch, wow and flutter, and this is joy division. Close your eyes and see sparks fly in the darkness. Ian Curtis hangs himself but the band new order carries on without him and this metronomic cold soul clock tick tocks on the midnight bedstand and oh this is chilly stuff this english rain.

new order 1981

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The seasons are changing

Just because. The great Nat King Cole sings "Autumn Leaves."

Another take on "Autumn Leaves" by Miles Davis in 1964.

Miles Davis - trumpet
Wayne Shorter - tenor sax
Herbie Hancock - piano
Ron Carter - bass
Tony Williams - drums

Monday, September 22, 2008


In honor of the seven hundred billion dollar bail-out, otherwise known as welfare for the rich, we present the greatest punk rock band The Clash performing BANK ROBBER.

'Nuff said. Freddie Mac and Fannie May

Sunday, September 21, 2008


What happened to the economy?

Commenting on recent economic events,
Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, argues with Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic, and chats with Bill Maher on Real Time.

In The Shock Doctrine, journalist Klein focuses on the Bush administration and the neocons who profit from disaster, whether natural (Hurricane Katrina) or man-made (9-11; the Iraq War), by privatizing reconstruction and cashing in on calamity. Meticulously researched, Klein's book provides a convincing alternate history of capitalism run amok, and helps explain the current mess we're in. Impossible to dismiss as mere anti-corporate ranting, well worth reading. For more on the book, click HERE.

An earlier interview by Charlie Rose, in which Klein discusses The Shock Doctrine.


Karl Rove and the Republicans really care about women, to hear them tell it. Ask Sarah Palin. In fact, they're downright feminists--when it's convenient, that is. For a group that stresses "values" every chance they get, these "ethics" seem pretty situational. Bullshit, in other words.

Have you ever walked in a cow pasture? Then you already know the smell, so you'll be ready when the Republicans tell you it's chocolate ice cream.

In this clip, funny man Jon Stewart holds their feet to the fire.

Political fantasy: propaganda guru Karl Rove gets what he deserves in a just world

For a real, old school, dyed-in-the-wool feminist perspective, Gloria Steinem wrote a great piece on Sarah Palin in the Los Angeles Times, "Palin: Wrong Woman, Wrong Message." You can read it HERE.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Good job, Alaska! Over a thousand Alaskans protested Sarah Palin in Anchorage, making us believe that not everyone in that far northern state is a dumb religious fundamentalist who thinks one women is interchangeable with the next. Sure, there are plenty of American Taliban types dragging their knuckles and slouching toward the voting booth, but it's nice to know not everyone in the Great White North is fooled by the faux-folksy Palin manipulation.

Read a report HERE.

Meanwhile, Alaska lawmakers voted Friday to subpoena Gov. Sarah Palin's husband, and several aides and phone records in their investigation into Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner, setting up what one senator called a "branch-versus-branch smackdown." Her husband is refusing to testify.

The McCain campaign is resorting to desperate measures to block the legislative inquiry, even though it predates Palin's veep selection. Predictibly, McCain says the charges are "politically motivated." Must be the damn liberals, I guess, and they must have access to a time machine.

How dumb are we?

Meanwhile, Jimi Hendrix plays live in a Stockholm television studio in 1967. I admit this has nothing to do with Sarah Palin, but it helps to get that horrible Republican aftertaste out of my mouth. Besides, it's my blog and I can be non-linear if I want to! Play on, Jimi!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The recent stock market nosedive has people feeling uneasy, so here is something that worked the last time this happened: pure escapist entertainment! Down about the market? Try this cheery little ditty called "We're in the Money!"

People are saying this is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and that the Great American Empire is in its last days, but cheer up! Enough stinkin' thinkin.' What do you want, a government hand out? You only get those if you happen to be named Fannie May or Freddie Mac! (Or a few other massive corporations). Don't expect to be "bailed out" at the gas pump, loser! Don't expect a helping hand in the "ten items or less" grocery line!

Sure, times are tough. Use your imagination. Pretend you're a CEO with a golden parachute! Pretend you're a bailed-out big business! Pretend you own an oil company! What are we paying these lobbyists for?

I don't claim to understand economics, but maybe this downturn has something to do with "the good old days" of flimsy home loans and mindless deregulation (thanks, Reagan) when the almighty dollar was good for a few robber barons, er, I mean entrepreneurs, at the expense of the rest of us working stiffs. It's a grand old Republican tradition and a small price to pay to keep the wealthy corporate cronies rolling in dough, so buck up! Tighten up those belts and stop your bitching, do what you're told and there might be pie in the sky when you die.

click to enlarge

By the way, when the government "bails out" a corporation, YOU will pay for it. Each American family will chip in hundreds if not thousands of dollars for these "gifts" to beleaguered businesses. Funny, but I don't remember sharing in their profits when times were good.

In the meantime, here's Sheryl Crow performing that old depression hit, "No Depression."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Richard Wright
, keyboard player and founding member of Pink Floyd, has died at 65 after a bout with cancer.

Wright formed the band with Roger Waters, Nick Mason, and Syd Barrett in 1965. Later on they were joined by David Gilmour and the band pulsed and mutated, osmosed, and swelled to porcine proportions. They became a huge mainstream hit, even with the squares and fratboys, without ever abandoning their avant garde weirdness. They say "Dark Side of the Moon" sold as many records as there are molecules in the red sands of Mars, and I'm not surprised.

1965: Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Syd Barrett, and Richard Wright

Their experimental sounds and Orwellian excursions might rate a dismissive smile from lazy journos who would tweezer them from the petri dish of sixties tumult and subculture and examine them in a vacuum with 20/20 hindsight. You know the drill. It's a standard editor's ploy: write a eulogy that secretly harbors a judgment, the whiff of sulfur, the chill of old ghosts, the terrible and lurid excesses of the day--and give it some sex and drugs and funny hairstyles. There's a template: File photo, End of an Era. Film at eleven.

Don't get me wrong. I won't be joining boorish boomers weeping over their beers and conjuring up past shows like veterans of St. Crispen's Day. I have my tales, sure, but I won't be pissing them away at parties. Some things are best kept private--even for bloggers. God knows, my uncensored Floydian reminiscences might alert the Thought Police, or at the very least ruin my chances for a future presidential bid.

1972: Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Dave Gilmour and Richard Wright

So I'll keep my mouth shut about Pink Floyd. I might wince on the inside when I hear drive time radio jocks jabbering in Cheech and Chong voices about how rad the Floyd were--Dude, they were like totally awesome--but I'll reserve the right to sing along to their music, alone, in my car. If you were there, you know what I mean. We saw something special. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

Richard Wright, RIP

The clip at the top of the post: Pink Floyd reunited in the summer of 2005- for the first time in 24 years - for the Live 8 concert in London's Hyde Park. Below, Pink Floyd live at Pompeii, Italy, 1972.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


David Foster Wallace (1) was found dead (2) in Los Angeles, California (3) in an apparent suicide. (4). A shining light of his generation, often linked to Pynchon and DeLillo for his pyrotechnics and post-post-modern sensibility, he was best known for Infinite Jest (5) and a mock-academic style that often included numerous footnotes and endnotes.(6)

[Wallace] "used his prodigious gifts as a writer — his manic, exuberant prose; his ferocious powers of observation, his ability to fuse avant garde techniques with old-fashioned moral seriousness — to create a series of strobe-lit portraits of a millennial America overdosing on the drugs of entertainment and self-gratification, and to capture, in the words of the musician Robert Plant, the myriad 'deep and meaningless' facets of contemporary life." (7)

"Wallace is to literature what Robin Williams or perhaps Jim Carrey is to live comedy: a creator so maniacally energetic and amused with himself that he often follows his riffs out into the stratosphere, where he orbits all alone." (8)

LA Times book editor David Ulin was in New York City for a National Book Critics Circle Board meeting Saturday. "What was a party is now a wake," David Ulin said as the news of Wallace's death circulated. "People were speechless and just blown away."(9)

1) American novelist, essayist, and short story writer (February 21, 1962-September 12, 2008)
2) He was discovered by his wife
3) Actually, he was found at his home Claremont, California, according to Jackie Morales of the Claremont Police. Morales is a records clerk and received the call from Wallace's wife at 9:30 PM, Friday evening
4) Wallace apparently hanged himself
5) published in 1996, Infinite Jest is a sprawling, non-linear, post-modern novel loosely based on Wallace's own youth as a talented tennis player
6) Infinite Jest includes over 400 endnotes, some a dozen pages long
7) Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, September 14th, 2008
8) Frank Bruni, n a 1996 profile in the New York Times Magazine
9) Los Angeles Times, September 14th, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008


By now, you've probably heard the new Bob Dylan song.

It's actually an outtake from the not so distant past (to be released on the upcoming official "bootleg" series, vol. 8, on October 7th). Still, we like it. The song is good, and the music video is also pretty cool, with indie character actor Harry Dean Stanton roaming the countryside as a purveyor of Dylan bootlegs.

Imagine that.

Anyway, dig this tiny movie--and have a great weekend!


Here is a clip from "Performance" (1970), a strange film by Nicholas Roeg starring Mick Jagger and James Fox. Fox is a thug on the lam hiding out with a dissolute rock star named Turner, played by Mick in extremis. Identities shift in this X-shaped plot, and a drug-addled Fox loses his mind and starts to believe he's Turner, while Turner tries out the thug life. Here, a gangster of wealth and taste gives Fox the news. A memo from Turner.

A head trip in classic sixties style, with slide guitar played by Ry Cooder. Rent the movie.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


The Righteous Brothers perform their smash hit "You've Lost that Loving Feeling."

Brother acts have been around since Cain and Abel. The Jonas Brothers, the Everly Brothers, the Stanley Brothers*, the Louvin Brothers, the Statler Brothers, the Ames Brothers, the Blues Brothers, the James Gang--not to mention the countless Baldwin brothers, each a dimmer version then the last.

*81-year old legend Ralph Stanley (pictured here) just endorsed Barack Obama for president. Good for him. Stanley and his brother, Carter, formed the Stanley Brothers and their Clinch Mountain Boys way back in 1946, and helped create "bluegrass" music. Story HERE.

My favorite brother act has always been the Karamazov Brothers. The Flying Karamazov Brothers, that is.

Only loosely based on their literary counterparts, these master jugglers have seen worldwide success Fyodor Dostoevsky could only dream of. Here, they perform in Bologna, Italy.

The Flying Karamazov website is HERE.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


"No End in Sight" is an excellent documentary about the Iraq War. If you haven't seen it, by all means watch it. Here is the film in its entirety.

This is no cheerleading propaganda film for the war effort, so if you support the Bush war in Iraq without question, or want to continue on the same course with McCain and Palin at the helm, this film may challenge your opinions.

"Although Bush and the war continue to sink in the polls, I know from some readers that they still support both. That is their right. And if they are so sure they are right, let more young men and women die or be maimed. I doubt if they will be willing to see this film, which further documents an administration playing its private war games."
--Roger Ebert, from his review of "No End in Sight"

Send this link to any undecided voters you may know. Send it to your congressperson, your senator, and any other politician not beholden to the military-industrial complex. The makers of this film are keeping the film available for free streaming until the presidential election.

No End in Sight. The website is HERE.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


John McCain was a POW, but you probably knew that since it seems to be the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Some would even say he exploits that experience. While he may be a war hero, the question remains whether his wartime experiences qualify him to run the country. This interview with a former POW caught my attention.

Dr. Phillip Butler is a 1961 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a former light-attack carrier pilot. In 1965 he was shot down over North Vietnam where he spent eight years as a prisoner of war.

Butler says John McCain is "not cut out to be President."

Friday, September 5, 2008


Sometimes, you have to return to the titans, the behemoths, the Godzillas of Classic Rock to find a fighting rebel spirit when fey indie pop won't get the job done. Here are two numbers for the politicians.

The first--appropriately enough--is "Politician" performed by supergroup Cream at Royal Albert Hall, London, 1968. Yup, that's Eric Clapton, along with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.

The second clip, equally classic and appropriate, is "Won't Get Fooled Again" performed by the Who. Roger Daltrey swings the Divine Hammer, and guitar player Pete Townshend dances a little jig between windmilling power chords.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


According the Associated Press, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters "stretched the truth" when they attacked Obama, and praised Palin's credentials to be vice president. There are plenty of great examples in the story (link below) but here are a couple of my favorites:

PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

I swear!

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."

THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

For the entire story, with plenty more Republican "untruths" from the convention, click HERE.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The Clash, the greatest punk rock band of all time, sings about the Clampdown. London, 1980. They turned righteous rage into music that mattered. It still does. We just saw the brilliant documentary, The Future is Unwritten, about Joe Strummer. See it, by all means.

The voices in your head are calling
Stop wasting your time, there's nothing coming
Only a fool would think someone could save you
The men at the factory are old and cunning
You don't owe nothing, so boy get runnin'
It's the best years of your life they want to steal

But, you grow up and you calm down and
You're working for the clampdown
You start wearing the blue and brown and
You're working for the clampdown
So you got someone to boss around
It makes you feel big now
You drift until you brutalize
You made your first kill now

--from The Clampdown, by The Clash


This is an excerpt from "Bush's War," an excellent documentary that aired earlier this year on Frontline. This segment concerns itself with the pretext to war, and how it was pitched to the American public. This should be required viewing for all voters--especially the undecided.

As we watch the Republicans rewrite history in their pro-McCain convention speeches, and give their candidate credit for supporting Bush's war from the start, and continuously, it's good to remind ourselves what really happened back then.

The rest of the documentary is available here.


raw footage of the Amy Goodman's arrest

While the party hacks and ward heelers fawn over themselves at the Republican National Convention, there is protest on the streets outside the hall that doesn't make it onto the convention Jumbotron--or into your living room.

Amy Goodman
, award-winning journalist and host of "Democracy Now!" was arrested by the Minneapolis Police Department Monday, the opening day of the convention. Goodman was asking police about the whereabouts of two of her arrested colleagues, and wearing credentials that clearly identified her as a journalist.

Protesters detained by police outside the 2008 Republican National Convention

A crackdown on protest (and journalists covering the protests) resulted in 280 arrests in St. Paul opening day. In a free society, of course, dissent should be encouraged. Obviously, in this locked down convention town, "democracy" is well-rehearsed and choreographed with tele-prompted speeches and balloons and flags. Meanwhile, real democracy gets busted, and protesters (even credentialed journalists) run the risk of arrest and getting their faces smashed into the ground. It doesn't even make the official news. Imagine if this scenario "leaked" out of some foreign country, Iran say, and how the spin doctors would be tripping all over themselves to support the brave dissenters. Here, it gets a ho hum shrug. We're well trained.

Goodman interviewed about the arrest

For an updated story, see the Democracy Now! website HERE.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Bob Dylan is still writing brilliant songs, and this is one of them. Dylan fans love to hearken back to days of yore, convinced his best work is well in the past. Geezers mumble about the folk stuff, or Highway 61, or Blonde on Blonde, or Blood on the Tracks. Those were great albums, but things have changed.

Some people hate him for those very songs. The hits. They're too cool, and for them music is about bragging rights--what obscure, rare, impossibly indie act have I discovered that you know nothing about?

The irony is that often the folks who hate Dylan love musicians who have been highly influenced by him. Countless bands cop his style, water him down, steal his lyrics, secretly "discover" him and mine his ore with pick and shovel. People make an entire career out of imitating just one phase of his creative output. Americana, rock, indie, freak-folk, hip hop, and pop all owe him a debt. Toss out the Juno soundtrack and do your homework.

"Things Have Changed" is as good as anything the man has written. Listen to the words.