Wednesday, December 24, 2008
What I do have a problem with is Bruce Springsteen getting in bed with a notorious corporation like Wal-Mart. I try to keep the art/music separate from the artist and his personal life and politics. But since Bruce has always been one to speak out on the socio-economical injustices in America and the world, he's opened himself up to some sort of scrutiny. While I don't begrudge him trying to make an extra buck or million, even through repacking old products and making mainstream TV appearances to maximize his exposure, I'm still a bit shocked that he would allow himself to be associated with Wal-Mart.
As many of you may already know, Wal-Mart has a notorious reputation as a company with serious blemishes on it's record relating to worker's rights and compensation, discrimination against women and minorities, the environment, and health care.
If you know me, you know that I've been a big Bruce fan since I was about 13 years old. I love his music, his legendary concerts always live up to the hype, and his willingness to speak out on social and political issues was almost always a little icing on the musical cake for those of us who agreed with him. But now this. Is it possible that Bruce's record company cut this deal and Bruce had no choice or control to stop it? Maybe. But I doubt it.
Shame on you Bruce. Yea, there's bigger fish to fry in this world... if you can still afford seafood in the present economy. And sure, I'm a hypocrite cuz there's several things in my house made in China and I've inadvertently given money to companies with sketchy labor practices. But unlike myself, Bruce Springsteen is one of the few people in the world who has the money, power, and platform to not only say no to corporations like Wal-Mart, but could speak out against them.
Please visit the following sites for more information about Wal-Mart:
Wake Up WalMart
Facts from the documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely
THE RUNNER UPS (OR IS IT RUNNERS UP?)
Stephen Malkmus – Real Emotional Trash
Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creations Dark
THE BEST EP OF THE YEAR
One Day as a Lion – One Day as a Lion
THE REMAINING TOP 20
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig! Lazarus Dig!
Felice Brothers – Felice Brothers
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis – Two Guys With the Blues
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
Metallica – Death Magnetic
The Roots – Rising Down
Beck – Modern Guilt
KRS-One – Maximum Strength
Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals – Cardinology
Nas – the untitled album formerly known as Nigger
TV on the Radio – Dear Science
Kings of Leon – Only By the Night
Black Keys – Attack and Release
Mike Doughty – Golden Delicious
Bob Mould – District Line
Old 97s – Blame It on Gravity
Dr. Dog – Fate
THE ONE THAT DESERVES ITS OWN CATEGORY
Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs
THE BEST REMASTER/REISSUES
The Replacements – Tim and Pleased to Meet Me
U2 – Boy
Whiskeytown – Strangers Alamanac
THE '07 ALBUMS PLAYED A LOT IN '08 AS NEW TO ME
Public Enemy how you sell soul to soulless people who sold their soul
Magnolia Electric Company (Sojourner box... and all their stuff)
Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raising Sand
Jason Isbell – Sirens of the Ditch
Radiohead – In Rainbows
They Might Be Giants – Here Come the ABC's
As always (if possible), don’t buy any of this stuff at BestBuy, Target or on Amazon. Support your local independent record store (while it still exists) and buy from them.
OK, I’ve ranted about horrible and pointless office Christmas “gifts” before. It was probably a bit crass and unappreciative. But this is just… wow…
I come in to work this morning and there’s a red envelope/card on my desk with a light blue rectangular tin with snowmen on it. OK. I’m thinking it might be those really good sugared pecans that some people give out.
Nope. I open it up and this is what’s inside:
A little pad of note paper that says “Let it Snow!”
A pack of Certs mints (ok, insert joke about it being some hint that I need them, but apparently everyone received this same awesome gift)
A bunch of small and large paper clips of various colors (Thanks! Paper clips! I only have 40,000 of them in my desk already!)
And…… a large nail file. What the fuck? A NAIL FILE?? Thanks.
So… we have a tin can partially filled with absolute crap that no one needs or wants. What did she do, empty out her desk? Paper clips and a nail file? Are these seasonal items or some tradition that I’m unaware of? Surprised I didn’t get some old pennies and a gum wrapper. Or some lint....
Friday, December 12, 2008
If it sounds like an Axl Rose solo album dressing up as a Guns’n’Roses album for Halloween… it’s cuz that’s pretty much what it is. It's not the first band to have one person keep the name and use it, but yea, this is an Axl & Friends album obviously. And honestly this album woulda been just as weak 15-16 years ago. So it’s not that I’m “disappointed after the long wait” cuz I was never waiting for it and never much of a Guns'n'Roses fan anyway.
The incomparable Chuck Klosterman started his review this way:
Reviewing Chinese Democracy is not like reviewing music. It's more like reviewing a unicorn. Should I primarily be blown away that it exists at all? Am I supposed to compare it to conventional horses? To a rhinoceros? Does its pre-existing mythology impact its actual value, or must it be examined inside a cultural vacuum, as if this creature is no more (or less) special than the remainder of the animal kingdom? I've been thinking about this record for 15 years; during that span, I've thought about this record more than I've thought about China, and maybe as much as I've thought about the principles of democracy.
If you read his whole review, he’s actually quite generous and seems to actually like the album. My review goes like this: Part boring, part horrendous.... mostly forgettable soulless schlock rock. Okay Axl, go away for another 15 years thanks.
But Klosterman sums it up better:
Sometimes it seems like Axl believes every single Guns N' Roses song needs to employ every single thing that Guns N' Roses has the capacity to do—there needs to be a soft part, a hard part, a falsetto stretch, some piano plinking, some R&B bullshit, a little Judas Priest, subhuman sound effects, a few Robert Plant yowls, dolphin squeaks, wind, overt sentimentality, and a caustic modernization of the blues.
Of course Rolling Stone magazine has it in the top 10 of their Best Albums of the Year list, which makes sense for a magazine that puts Britney Spears and the Jonas Brothers on the cover.
But really, in the end it’s just hard to respect a guy who wants to be treated like a genius but cant even bother to show up for work. From TheAge.com:
Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose has been missing for two months.
The eccentric rocker has infuriated bosses at record label Geffen after disappearing without promoting the band's long-awaited Chinese Democracy album, which was released last week 15 years after the last Guns N' Roses LP.
A source told Britain's The Sun newspaper: People have been trying to contact Axl for two months and he's completely AWOL. It is frustrating because the album would have had a much better chance of going to number one if he had only been prepared to show his face.
You would have thought after spending all those years on an album you might do a few weeks of promotion.
Chinese Democracy was beaten to the number one spot in the UK album charts by The Killers' Day and Age, which sold 200,000 copies nearly twice as many as Axl's record, which is rumoured to have cost $13 million, making it the most expensive ever album.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
From the Associated Press: "Angry environmentalists launched an online campaign Wednesday urging President-elect Barack Obama to undo a federal rule that clarifies when coal companies can dump mining waste in streams, calling it a long-awaited 'parting gift' from the Bush administration.
"North Carolina-based Appalachian Voices and others blasted Tuesday's Environmental Protection Agency decision to endorse the mining rule as the death of freshwater streams and the likely start of a new surge in mountaintop removal surface mining across Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky."
Juliet Eilperin wrote in yesterday's Washington Post: "The regulation got signoffs from the Office of Management and Budget and the Environmental Protection Agency this week and will go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The change is intended to resolve a nearly five-year-old fight over how companies can dispose of the vast amounts of rubble and sludge created when they blow the tops off mountains to get to the coal buried below, although the incoming Obama administration could revisit the issue."
In the New York Times, Robert Pear and Felicity Barringer write: "The rule is one of the most contentious of all the regulations emerging from the White House in President Bush's last weeks in office. Mr. Bush has boasted of his efforts to cooperate with President-elect Barack Obama to ensure a smooth transition, but the administration is rushing to complete work on regulations to which Mr. Obama and his advisers object. The rules deal with air pollution, auto safety, abortion and workers' exposure to toxic chemicals, among other issues. The coal industry could be the largest beneficiary of last-minute environmental rules."
"'This is unmistakably a fire sale of epic size for coal and the entire fossil fuel industry, with flagrant disregard for human health, the environment or the rule of law,' said Vickie Patton, deputy general counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund."
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."--John F. Kennedy, 1960
Monday, November 24, 2008
Take the 15 traditional (oldest) bowls. Go ahead a slap a sponsor name on each one if that’s what has to be done to keep The Powers That Be happy about The Money, but keep the old name as part of it. Those 15 are the BTS. The rest of the Johnny-Come-Lately.com bowls that no one cares about could still exist in a non-tournament setup, so the 6-5 and 7-4 schools can experience a bowl and get a little money. Those bowls can be played whenever, filling in the December calendar with a couple getting played before/after the Final Four double header on January 1. But the BTS would consist of the following traditional bowls; note that you get a few in Florida, California, AZ, Texas, Lousiana, even one in Memphis.
HOLIDAY BOWL AT SAN DIEGO CA
LIBERTY BOWL AT MEMPHIS TN
ALAMO BOWL AT SAN ANTONIO TX
COPPER BOWL AT TEMPE AZ
INDEPENDENCE BOWL AT SHREVEPORT LA
SUN BOWL AT EL PASO TX
TANGERINE (now Capital One) BOWL AT ORLANDO FL
COTTON BOWL AT DALLAS TX
GATOR BOWL AT JACKSONVILLE FL
PEACH (now Chick-Fila) BOWL AT ORLANDO FL
ROSE BOWL AT PASADENA CA
SUGAR BOWL AT NEW ORLEANS LA
FIESTA BOWL AT GLENDALE AZ
ORANGE BOWL AT MIAMI FL
BTS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AT SITE TBD (maybe just rotate it around nice weather cities with big stadiums like the Super Bowl or whatever)
Perhaps you'd alternate/rotate the 4 Big (currently BCS) Bowls so that one year Fiesta and Orange would be the final four, another year it could be Sugar and Rose.
Then you take the Top 16 teams, which would likely have to be determined by something similar to voter polls and computers like the BCS, but maybe tweaked yet again... but either way, 2007's final standings would have produced these matchups last year:
1. Ohio State 11-1 vs. 16. Tennessee 9-4
3. Virginia Tech 11-2 vs. 14. Boston College 10-3
5. Georgia 10-2 vs. 12. Florida 9-3
7. USC 10-2 vs. 10. Hawaii 12-0
8. Kansas 11-1 vs. 9. West Virginia 10-2
6. Missouri 11-2 vs. 11. Arizona State 10-2
4. Oklahoma 11-2 vs. 13. Illinois 9-3
2. LSU 11-2 vs. 15. Clemson 9-3
Some matchups are better than others. Some are rematches. But that doesn't matter, maybe put in rules for seeding to avoid first-round rematches, or not. Also, try to get the regular season more even: either have all conferences play a champ game, or none. Maybe have everyone play only 11-12 games, not 13. For instance, in 2007 Ohio State was done Nov 17, but WVU had 2 different bye weeks and played through 12/1. So make it all uniform: everyone plays only 11 or 12 games, including Conference Championship games for all conferences, or none in any conference. As long as it’s all the same.
Based on this year's calendar:
Sat. Dec 13 first round
Sat. Dec 20 second round
Jan. 1 Final Four double-header
Mon. Jan. 5 Championship Game
(Another option could be Dec, 20, 27, Jan 1, then Jan.12. This might have to change depending on how the calendar looks each year.)
I mean, if they can have 30 or so bowls played throughout December (and weekly Wednesday and Thursday night games all season) and not "interfere with academics or exams," I'm sure they can do this. Only 8 teams would play more than one playoff game anyway....
As far as the money/payouts attached to the bowls: for the non-playoff crappy bowls, they can stay the same. For the playoffs, perhaps all the interest and increased ad revenue as well as the original payout amounts could go into one large pool and each team gets awarded a certain amount for reaching the playoffs but losing first round, winning one, two, three games, and one final large payout for the winner. So the Big Conference BCS Bowl Big Boy Money could still stay relatively in tact. If a Hawaii or a Boise St isn't worthy, then they'll lose in the first round anyway, right?
Attendance is a major hurdle. Even if you reward the 1-8 seeds with a first-round home game, it would be hard to make that congruent with these being the “traditional bowls.” And it would be hard to sell first (or second) round tickets for neutral sites on short notice.
Of course, making this only 8 teams (which most people seem to suggest anyway) would help alleviate some of the scheduling and attendance issues.
I know, I’m a genius. Use the Comments feature below to let me know how much you agree.
Just got an email from our good friends and rockers extraordinaire Girl Loves Distortion. You may remember we reviewed the CD HERE. Now comes word of their new video:
Greetings Earth Beings,
We have just posted our first-ever video for the song Enraged. Our great friend Josh Bolton (Drawing Lines) was kind enough to fly up from Florida this past Halloween Weekend and film the band performing live at the Artery 717 in Alexandria, VA. Most of the footage is from that night. We will also have more videos coming very soon including one for the song Luminance. Enjoy.
Each of the 8 players gets one NFL Division and can field his team from any players in that division. So the guy with the NFC East could start Eli Manning at QB, Clinton Portis and Brian Westbrook at RB’s, Santana Moss and T.O. at WR’s, Jason Whitten at TE and then choose an NFC East kicker and defense depending on matchups.
It would sort of take the fun out of the draft, since there’d only be one round, but the guy with the first pick still has to strategize… does he take the AFC West so he has L.T., or take the AFC South just to get Peyton Manning? And of course you'd still have week to week strategy of who to start/play.
Besides semi-killing the draft element, another stumbling block is the bye week. Usually the NFL schedule has most or all teams from one division on a bye at the same time. If one division does NOT have several teams on bye the same week, then that team would have an advantage. BUT, what if you had an active/inactive roster, so you could keep most of your top players active, but still leave plenty of “free agents” for other divisions to use one-time only when their division is on bye? Maybe you’d have to leave X number of QB’s available…. Maybe each week you could move players to/from inactive list.
So I have the NFC east, and they're all on bye except Dallas. Maybe I start the best of the Dallas players and then fill in with the unprotected QB's and other players from the other divisions. Maybe force everyone to leave 1-2 QB's from their division on the inactive list so the talent pool was decent....
Not sure if this format would work in head-to-head style of play, or more suitable to a “rotisserie” format where you don’t play against anyone, just accumulate points each week. Maybe it could be done either way.
Not sure how this idea could make money. Unless you could have a website where people could play for $10 and just spread the word around until it’s really popular. Not sure if you could copyright the concept so you could cash in if ESPN and CBSsportsline wanted to start offering this. Probably not, who knows. But consider this date/time-stamped blog entry as my official claim on the idea; feel free to contact me with big-money offers.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Sad news yesterday... the passing of legendary drummer Mitch Mitchell, most famous for his work with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Mitchell was one of my favorite drummers of all time. He taught me that you can be jazzy and still rock out really hard, that you can respond/react to the other musicians you play with and push each other to new places, and that you can do anything and everything you want on a small drumkit. If Hendrix took electric blues and rock guitar to another level, perhaps it could be said that Mitchell proved that a drumset could be played like a lead guitar. Not sure if that makes sense as an accurate analogy, but it's as if Mitchell took the influence of great jazz drummers like Elvin Jones and Max Roach and somehow fused it with the innovation of Jimi's playing and stumbled upon something thunderous and other-worldly. RIP.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
So on the day that George W. Bush welcomed President-elect Barack Obama for a White House visit... I'll leave it to Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald to sum up just some of what has happened in this country:
As the Bush administration comes to a close, one overarching question is this: how were the transgressions and abuses of the last eight years allowed to be unleashed with so little backlash and resistance? Just consider -- with no hyperbole -- what our Government, our country, has done. We systematically tortured people in our custody using techniques approved at the highest levels, many of whom died as a result. We created secret prisons -- "black site" gulags -- beyond the reach of international monitoring groups. We abducted and imprisoned even U.S. citizens and legal residents without any trial, holding them incommunicado and without even the right to access lawyers for years, while we tortured them to the point of insanity. We disappeared innocent people off the streets, sent them to countries where we knew they'd be tortured, and then closed off our courts to them once it was clear they had done nothing wrong. We adopted the very policies and techniques long considered to be the very definition of "war crimes".
Our Government turned the NSA apparatus inward -- something that was never supposed to happen -- spying on our conversations in secret and without warrants or oversight, all in violation of the law, and then, once revealed, acted to immunize the private-sector lawbreakers. And that's to say nothing about the hundreds of thousands of people we killed and the millions more we displaced with a war launched on false pretense. And on and on and on.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
For so much of this campaign, while we’ve certainly acknowledged the “historic nature” of it, so many have tried to downplay race, the Obama campaign included. Sure, most of us are voting for him based on the content of his character and because we think he’s the best person for the job. But while we’ve been told that Obama is “Post-Racial” (whatever that means), I think it’s okay to not only acknowledge the magnitude of this milestone, but to celebrate it. Not just black folks. But us white folks should be able to be proud too. You don’t have to be black to feel some of these emotions… My mom used to tell me, “It’s okay to cry.” At the time I think she meant it about sad stuff, even if it was just a movie (like Brian’s Song). But I think it can apply to happy stuff too… and maybe that’s why I felt myself welling up just slightly in that voting booth while I stared at my selection for “Sen. Barack Obama (Democrat, Illinois).”
Assuming he wins, we should be happy that this country is taking a step in the right direction just from a purely political and ideological standpoint, even if it’s only a small step and the road ahead is very long and still littered with the atrocities of the Bush years. But on top of that, we should also let ourselves pause and smile (or cry with joy) about finally starting to fulfill Dr. King’s dream. It might not seem appropriate to quote Ronald Reagan here, but maybe now it finally really is “morning in America.”
This was all summed up a bit more eloquently in this past Sunday’s Washington Post by Donna Britt:
For one shining moment, let's call a halt to our red-blue bickering and predicting. Rather than glancing back at our racist past or peering into our uncertain future, we'll allow ourselves a brief celebration of now. We'll be brave and reckless enough to be happily surprised by one undeniable change:
Against all sensible odds and reasoned predictions, untold numbers of Americans of every persuasion have opened their hearts, minds and souls to the possibility that a black man is the best choice to lead them. Whatever happens, an immeasurable amount of light has illuminated our darkness. Once such doors have been pried open, it's hard shutting them as tightly as before.
That's a change worth believing in.
Friday, October 31, 2008
The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.Oh, so when they want to push this stuff through (or the Patriot Act, or the war, or the bailout) it’s all about urgency to act with no time for honest debate. But if the next president wants to undo any of it, of course it MUST include “lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.”
The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.
Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.
Once such rules take effect, they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.
"They want these rules to continue to have an impact long after they leave office," said Matthew Madia, a regulatory expert at OMB Watch, a nonprofit group critical of what it calls the Bush administration's penchant for deregulating in areas where industry wants more freedom. He called the coming deluge "a last-minute assault on the public . . . happening on multiple fronts."
Gee, none of this sounds good. And as I read on, it didn’t get much better:
The burst of activity has made this a busy period for lobbyists who fear that industry views will hold less sway after the elections. The doors at the New Executive Office Building have been whirling with corporate officials and advisers pleading for relief or, in many cases, for hastened decision making.The Bush Administration ladies and gentlemen!!!
According to the Office of Management and Budget's regulatory calendar, National Mining Association officials came in two weeks ago making the case for easing rules meant to keep coal slurry waste out of Appalachian streams.
Many of the rules that could be issued over the next few weeks would ease environmental regulations, according to sources familiar with administration deliberations. Lee Crockett of the Pew Charitable Trusts' Environment Group said the administration has received 194,000 public comments on the rules and protests from 80 members of Congress as well as 160 conservation groups. "This is fatally flawed" as well as "wildly unpopular," Crockett said.
Two other rules nearing completion would ease limits on pollution from power plants, a major energy industry goal for the past eight years that is strenuously opposed by Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups.
One rule, being pursued over some opposition within the Environmental Protection Agency, would allow current emissions at a power plant to match the highest levels produced by that plant, overturning a rule that more strictly limits such emission increases.
According to the EPA's estimate, it would allow millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, worsening global warming.
A related regulation would ease limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants near national parks. A third rule would allow increased emissions from oil refineries, chemical factories and other industrial plants with complex manufacturing operations.
These rules "will force Americans to choke on dirtier air for years to come, unless Congress or the new administration reverses these eleventh-hour abuses," said lawyer John Walke of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.Exactly, Mr. Critic. You got one thing right!
(okay, turns out this is actually a bit at the end of the cartoon movie Ratatouille...)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
It must include the word PROLIFIC, as well as pastiche, antics, Gram Parsons, editor, enfant terrible and/or “bad boy,” Grateful Dead, focus, quality/quantity, and something about dating actresses or whatever...
Perusing 18 different published reviews of Ryan Adams and The Cardinals new Cardinology CD, I was amazed and amused at what I found. Sure, there’s was the usual varying of opinions (some loved it, some sorta liked it, some found it predictable and boring), but that’s to be expected with any album. Reading the reviews, apparently someone must have invented that “Ryan Adams Album Review Generator” software, cuz it’s obviously been put to some use.
Among these 18 reviews, the word “prolific” is used 12 times (including two mentions of “prolificacy” and one time Adams is even called “insanely prolific”). It is the very first word of one review, the second word of another, and it appears in the first sentence of five other reviews and in the second sentence of yet another two. One review claims that “he became obsessive-compulsive about recording anything that rhymed.”
The Grateful Dead is mentioned six times, Gram Parsons four times, and Neil Young three times. In what must be a software glitch, U2 and/or Bono is mentioned an astounding 11 times (more on that later). Variations on “quantity vs. quality” come up at least six times in addition to three references to “edit” or “editing,” and four mentions of “focus.”
With all the talk about being “prolific,” and in attempt to illustrate the “quantity/quality” point, we eventually reach the fuzzy math portion of these reviews. According to some direct quotes:
*Ryan Adams has been making music at an insane pace for more than 10 years.
*Focused on just the one LP this year (he put out three in 12 months not too long ago)
*He recorded three albums in 2005 alone (Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights and 29), and he hasn't missed a year since before this decade began.
*He's released 10 albums in nine years
*While it might be a short time between albums for many modern-day artists, 16 months is a long time in the world of Ryan Adams, who released three albums in 2005
*Their fourth album in as many years
*Ryan Adams returns with what seems like his millionth album,
*His first release in a year — notable for a guy who put out three full-lengths in 2005
*Five-year period starting in 1997 that spanned two bands and five exquisitely realized albums.
*Cardinology is Adams' fifth full-length album released in the last three years (not to mention the 2007 EP, Follow the Lights).
Ignoring the varying inaccuracies of some of these statements, the guy’s job is to make records. So he's made about 11 records over 9 years? (This includes Demolition, assembled from demos from unreleased albums to capitalize on the success of Gold, and the 7-song EP Follow the Lights with only 3 new songs.) Is that REALLY too much? Sure, it's a bit more than the usual 2-3-year wait between records to maximize hype that the Music Business Formerly Known as the Record Industry might prefer. But some of these reviews make it sound like he does 3 records every single year. It's actually really an average of close to one each year. As it should be.
The strangest thing I’ve found is that, all of a sudden, the Cardinals are often being compared to U2. Huh? U2? Other than perhaps his 2003 single “So Alive,” I don’t think Ryan Adams has ever sounded like U2 or even close enough to warrant comparison (including on this new album). I can maybe hear how, in “Go Easy,” when he sings "if only just to say this to you now..." the melody and delivery is kinda/sorty dripping with syrupy Bononess, but only slightly. And I don’t know if I ever would have thought of that if U2 wasn't mentioned in so many Cardinology reviews.
Again, actual quotes from the reviews:
*“Fix It” even dares to blossom into the type of stadium-filling chorus that U2’s Bono would be proud to call his own.
*U2 knock-offs “Go Easy” and “Cobwebs”
*“Cobwebs” …boasts one of the best choruses on the LP (and another that seems to be taking its cues from the U2 style of epic songwriting).
*“Magick” and “Cobwebs” cringe-worthy horrors that would shame even Bono.
*[In concert the band was] producing a hybrid that echoed Neil Young, the Byrds, Gram Parsons, U2 and the Grateful Dead.”
*…a couple of tunes veer close to overblown U2 territory.
*when he sings "Cobwebs," his voice ascends to Bono-like melodramatic heights.
*"Magick" echoes like prime U2
*…the slinkier "Fix It" (and its almost U2 moments -- ditto "Go Easy" on the Bono thing), etc.
*Cardinology is a classic-rock record to the bone, nodding to influences that Adams has conjured before but never so well: the country rock of the Grateful Dead and Gram Parsons, the arena anthems of U2.
*“Fix It” … with a soaring Bono-style chorus…
But wait, maybe it doesn’t sound like U2, since one reviewer declares “Those looking for anthemic rock will be better served by U2.”
That’s not the only contradiction these reviews are inevitably filled with. For example, after saying he's best known for quantity over quality, one reviewer then says: “Last year's Easy Tiger, billed as a return to form, was the sound of Adams trying too hard to edit himself. By making a concerted effort to rein in his self-indulgence, Adams also leeched away some of the recklessness and spontaneity that makes him so fascinating.” Very similar sentiment has also been applied to the new album in this and other reviews. They all cry (and have complained in past reviews) that he needs an editor and he's reckless and too prolific and unfocused. So he tones it down and “edits” himself, puts out a “focused” record (just ONE this year!) and then they bitch that he’s “leeched away some of the recklessness and spontaneity that makes him so fascinating.”
Another typical contradiction is that many of these same rock critics were the ones hailing him as a genius or The New Dylan following his solo debut Heartbreaker and then championing his inevitable rockstar breakout upon the release of its follow up, Gold. But now some of these same clowns write “Adams needed someone to sit him down and explain that he actually wasn't the musical messiah we'd all been waiting for.” Gee, wherever did he get that idea? At least none of them mentioned actresses...
By the way, I think the album is good but maybe not quite the mind-blower I’d hoped for. As a fan, I’m a tad disappointed that it is not as rockin and jammy as their great live shows. But the sound, courtesy of Producer Tom Schick, is very warm and organic. (Number of times Schick is mentioned in the 19 reviews I read: zero.) The songs are good; it’s a solid album that I can already feel growing on me…. And that’s all it needs to be. (UPDATE: After several more listens, perhaps this album is much better and deeper than I initially thought. It's actually, well, beautiful and very brave. And it sounds great. Keep the faith and stick with it.)
As always (if possible), don’t buy Cardinology at BestBuy, Target or on Amazon. Support your local independent record store (while it still exists) and buy Cardinology from them.
NOTE: The reviews discussed in this post came from: Wall Street Journal, New Music Express, Stereogum, Rolling Stone, Paste, Indielondon.co.uk, Buzzsugar.com, Inthenews.co.uk, Buffalonews.com, Entertainment.ie (Ireland), Entertainment Weekly, Courier-Journal (Louisville), AVclub.com, Allmusic.com, The Observer (UK), and student newspaper websites from Penn State, University of Maryland and even University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
But now election day is getting really close, and I just cant be bothered to comment on the trivialities like the $150,000 spent on wardrobes for Sarah Palin (how small-town regular fiscally conservative gal of her!) or whatever else is passing as news these days. I’ve fallen in to a bit of a silent hopeful pregnant pause… a calm before the storm. I’m hoping that storm is a landslide victory for Obama, but still cautious that it could be the dark clouds of a looming McCain administration…
I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to Bob Dylan’s excellent new collection Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8, Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006. Some spectacular modern-era stuff on these discs from the legend who could dedicate earlier classics like “Masters of War” to McCain and “The Times They Are Changin’” to Obama.
So as we’re speeding toward the election (or are we creeping?), the economy is crumbling before our eyes and amid our financial worries there’s also very real concerns about voter suppression tactics by the Republicans (examined here) that could help ensure a McCain victory.
In the background I hear Dylan singing “Time is pilin' up, we struggle and we scrape / We're all boxed in, nowhere to escape” and “Take a deep breath, feel like you're chokin' / Everything is broken.”
And yet I’m excited at the thought of Obama winning and ushering in a new era of… of…. everything: to live in a country with real, intelligent, and inspiring leadership. I know nothing will get better over night, and that this economy will take a while to bounce back, so it’s a cautious optimism for sure.
In the background Dylan is singing “Most of the time, I'm clear focused all around / Most of the time, I can keep both feet on the ground…”
Of course, these last few weeks and likely the next two, the McCain campaign and all the pundits on The Right have been downright ugly. Trying to scare us into these ridiculous notions that Obama is a Socialist and a terrorist sympathizer. By the way, haven’t we always had a progressive tax code? Has McCain proposed a (non-socialist) flat tax? If so, I must have missed it. And while we’re all distracted by the 15 minutes of fame for Joe the Plumber, the McCain campaign continues to drop hints about who’s “pro-America” and just how radical-liberal-socialist and anti-American Obama is. Meanwhile, they downplay Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama as a "black thing," claiming in various ways that Powell only endorsed him 'cuz he's black. Funny, I dont remember anyone saying Joe Lieberman only endorsed McCain 'cuz he's white...
In the background Dylan is singing “Have you seen dignity?”
And yet somehow…. After the 2000 and 2004 elections, after living through the atrocious Bush administration years…. With all the impending economic doom and gloom…. Amid my worrying and skepticism, I’m excited.
In the background Dylan is singing “Things should start to get interesting right about now” and “The air burns and I'm trying to think straight / And I don't know how much longer I can wait.”
My wife did hear one guy with his wife/kids remark with some contempt in his voice, "that guy had an Obama shirt on.... It said Obama on it" and he kept looking back at us. And afterward, when we returned to our car, we found that someone had turned our Obama magnet upside-down.
Other than that, it was all positive with a few "Yay Obama!" comments as well as a "nice shirt!" from a guy in another Obama shirt. Even a bearded guy who looked a bit like what some might call a redneck said "I like your shirt! Obama!"
At the gate, a lady probably in her 50's said "You think he's gonna win?"
I said "I hope so...."
"Me too" she said.
I said "But, I'm trying not to get too excited....."
There was a 10-15 second pause as we stood there and I waited for the line to move ahead.
Then I said, "but I am."
"Me too," she said.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
If the rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is so despicable and so full of hate (and it is), and if meeting with him or another of Iran’s leaders would in some sense validate him (and his hate speech) and in turn actually give those reckless words an international platform…. Then why does John McCain insist on repeating all of his worst lines about “wiping Israel off the map” and calling Judaism a “stinking corpse”?? He’s a candidate for President of the United States, and in a debate televised across every network in America and replayed all over the world, there he is delivering Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic talking points for him. Sure, he’s denouncing those words, but he’s also constantly repeating them on TV and amplifying them through campaign rally microphones and giving them the largest platform possible by hurling them on to the Presidential political stage. And since we all agree that talking about wiping Israel off the map and calling Judaism a stinking corpse is reprehensible and disgusting maybe John McCain should stop doing it.
I’m getting the sense that people are starting to feel sorry for John McCain. I started to think that way (just a bit) last night. He's not some horrible evil guy obviously, but it seems like he's turning into this uncomfortable liar who's gritting his teeth and grinning uncomfortably cuz in his heart he knows he just can’t give his old patented Straight Talk anymore. He's not allowed. And that bums him out so he's trying to do the best job he can at being this Rovian Bush-figurehead thing that he's not really down with. He probably doesn’t condone the personal attacks about Obama “palling around with terrorists” and all the guilt-by-association rumor-mongering smear’n’fear tactics his campaign has indulged in, but he doesn’t have a choice. Not sure if that illustrates a lack of intangible leadership or if it’s simply that he’s just not really the one in charge of this campaign.
The debate reaction will no doubt include commentary on McCain abrasively referring to Obama as “that one,” and trivial analysis of whether McCain avoided shaking Obama’s hand afterward (I didn’t notice, but I’ve seen it mentioned a lot today). But the real story for me, is that I felt a "Fuckit I'm gonna lose and I think I'm okay with that" sorta vibe from McCain last night.
I excuse McCain's physical appearance and stiff mobility for the obvious reasons. But he seemed uncomfortable. Not just physically, but generally just really fish-outta-water uncomfortable. To his credit, he kept trying to show confidence (“I’ve BEEN there, I know how to DO this stuff!”) and at the end of each of his speaking segments he'd drop the mic from one hand down to the other, like "nailed it!" but he never really nailed it.
He said his hero was Ronald Reagan. Later he said his hero was Teddy Roosevelt. And the "We don’t have to prioritize! We can do it all at once! We're AMERICANS, we're the BEST and we can do ANYTHING!" seemed to ring hollow. Same with "I'll get Osama bin Laden, my friends. I'll get him. I know how to get him. I'll get him no matter what and I know how to do it."
Really? He knows how to get him? Why hasn't he shared this info with anyone? Does he hate America? (Sorry, I tried to get thru this without sarcasm… couldn’t do it.) Speaking of the elusive Mr. Bin Laden (anyone checked the closet or under the bed?), it was interesting that Obama also “played the 9/11 card” if I can put it that way. It almost seemed as if he was using something from the opposition's playbook, like “hey, I can bring up 9/11 outta the blue too!” but I think he did have a fair point: he talked about 9/12, 9/13 and the next few weeks. How all of us REAL regular people actually felt. Like, man, things are different. I'm gonna smile to my fellow man and help someone out and feel a connection with other citizens for no reason other than it's the right thing to do. That feeling evaporated quickly and Obama seemed to call for that spirit to return in these equally daunting times.
But finally, toward the end, the formerly Honorable Sen. John McCain finally spoke the truth and I finally agreed with him: “That requires a cool hand at the tiller,” and again later: “I'll also tell you, when times are tough, we need a steady hand at the tiller.” Indeed. I think we all know which one of these guys is more steady-handed and cool-headed: “that one.”
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
"For me, the heels are on, the gloves are off," she announced Monday to a group of Republican donors at the Naples Beach Club. "I'm sending the message back to John McCain also: Tomorrow night in his debate, might as well take the gloves off."
"Okay, so, Florida, you know that you're going to have to hang on to your hats," she said at a morning rally in Clearwater, "because from now until Election Day, it may get kind of rough."
She went on to insist that Senator Obama "is not a man who sees America like you and I see America," whatever that means. Later, in Carson, CA, she said "Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country." This is in reference to the fact the Barack Obama once sat on the board of an educational charity with Bill Ayers who was part of a radical anti-American group 40 years ago. It’s quite a stretch to imply that Obama is “palling around with terrorists,” but it stokes the unfounded fears about Obama, especially when Palin doesn’t mind taking the stage at one of her appearances Monday after being introduced by Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott who said: "On Nov. 4, let's leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened."
Hussein!! Hey everybody, Obama might be wearing a flag pin these days, but he’s still the boogey man!!
Speaking of boogey men and sleazy politics, McCain had previously said that attacks related to Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are off limits. In regard to introducing Wright into the campaign, McCain had said "there's no place for that kind of campaigning, the American people don't want it, period." But Palin told New York Times columnist Bill Kristol in an interview published Monday: "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more."
Umm... Governor Palin? Where were you earlier this year when we got what seemed like two straight months of All Rev. Wright All The Time coverage from the so-called "liberal media"?? Which of the “all of ‘em, y’know, any of ‘em, vast various sources” of news media were you reading and watching that didn’t discuss Rev. Wright enough?
Aw heck, maybe you’re right doggone it. You betcha, let’s deal with some associations that should be “discussed more.”
We’ve already chronicled Palin's association with the Pray Away the Gay! church event that hoped to convert homosexuals into Normal Straight Christ-Loving Patriotic Americans… so let’s move on.
Pastor Thomas Muthee, an alleged Witchdoctor of sorts, visited the Wasilla Assembly of God church in October, 2005. Video shows Muthee put his hands on Sarah Palin's back and say, "make a way for Sarah, even in the political arena. Make a way, my God. Bring finances her way, even if for the campaign, in the name of Jesus... Every form of witchcraft, it will be rebuked in the name of Jesus. Father, make her way now." So it’s okay to have some kook hit Jesus up for some campaign money, as long as he doesn’t spout anything anti-America. But wait, there’s another association for that angle…
Palin recorded a speech for the Alaskan Independence Party’s convention just last March, and her husband remained a registered member of it until 2002, even though it was founded by a man named Joe Vogler who not only wanted Alaska to secede from the United States but also said:
"The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government, and I won't be buried under their damn flag," and: "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions." One more for good measure, this is what he thinks of President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “I speak pretty frankly, I call him the dirty rotten son-of-a-bitch communist traitor, because he had involved us in that war that we had no business in.”
From a great piece by David Talbot:
Vogler's greatest moment of glory was to be his appearance before the United Nations to denounce United States "tyranny" before the entire world and to demand Alaska's freedom. The Alaska secessionist had persuaded the government of Iran to sponsor his anti-American harangue.
Imagine the uproar if Michelle Obama was revealed to have joined a black nationalist party whose founder preached armed secession from the United States and who enlisted the government of Iran in his cause? The Obama campaign would probably not have survived such an explosive revelation. Particularly if Barack Obama himself was videotaped giving the anti-American secessionists his wholehearted support just months ago.
Where's the outrage, Sarah Palin has been asking this week, in her attacks on Obama's fuzzy ties to Ayers? The question is more appropriate when applied to her own disturbing associations.
Then there’s Ed Kalnins, the pastor at Wasilla Assembly of God where Palin was a member. During the 2004 election, he praised President Bush over John Kerry before warning, “I'm not going tell you who to vote for, but if you vote for this particular person, I question your salvation. I'm sorry... If every Christian will vote righteously, it would be a landslide every time.”
The following year, in reference to criticism of President Bush and the federal government's handling of Hurricane Katrina, he said, “I hate criticisms towards the President, because it's like criticisms towards the pastor -- it's almost like, it's not going to get you anywhere, you know, except for hell. That's what it'll get you.”
And of course it’s been well-publicized that John McCain has sought and accepted the support of preachers like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee who say that Katrina was God punishing New Orleans for having a Gay Pride Parade, Catholicism is the "great whore," the Holocaust was God’s will, and other nonsense. In his 2000 campaign, McCain denounced these types as “agent of intolerance” but the 2008 version of McCain just smirks it off and cashes their checks.
For more detailed lists and explanations of the vast various sketchy associates of McCain/Palin, click HERE and HERE.
- Illegal Immigration: "Learn to Speak Spanish";
- Terrorist Threat to America: "Learn to Speak Arabic";
- Reparations to Black Community: Opposes before Election Day and supports after Election Day;
- Freedom of Religion: Mandatory Black Liberation Theology courses taught in all churches;
- Homosexual Marriage: Coddle sexual perverts. Give tax breaks for NAMBLA [North American Man-Boy Love Association] membership;
- Drug Crisis: Raise taxes for free drugs for Obama's inner-city political base;
- The White House: Hire rapper Ludacris to "paint it black."
Again, this garbage is not from some hatemongering blogger… it’s from the McCain campaign chair in Buchanan County, VA, and correspondence secretary for the Buchanan County Republican Party.
The War Room’s Gabriel Winant: “When McCain asks, ‘Who is the real Barack Obama,’ and later says, ‘You need to know who you're putting in the White House -- where the candidate came from and what he or she believes,’ he appears to be attempting to use the scurrilous rumors and fears about Obama for his own political advantage. To underscore the point, [in video footage] of the remarks, when McCain asks, ‘Who is the real Barack Obama,’ one member of the crowd shouts, ‘Terrorist!’”
Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald: “And as these flames engulf America's foundations, what is the Right doing -- the movement that brought us all of this through their virtually absolute control of our Government for the last eight years? They're spending all their time chattering with each other about an aging 1960s radical and giddily cheering the increasingly repellent Sarah Palin as she skips around the country in front of rambunctiously booing right-wing crowds accusing Barack Obama of palling around with The Terrorists and pointing out that he doesn't see America the way all the Normal, Good Americans do. The behavior of the last couple of weeks isn't unconventional; it's unstable, and increasingly quite ugly, even by the standards of GOP campaigning tactics.”
After a paragraph detailing the real important issues and crises facing America, the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson observes:
But John McCain wants us to talk about Barack Obama's acquaintances. He and Sarah Palin are going to try their best to make us talk about anything but the big issues facing our country, because most Americans think Obama's solutions are better than McCain's.
We all understand that the strategy of the McCain campaign is one of distraction -- his campaign aides have acknowledged that they want to shift the focus from the economy to character, which means personal attacks against Obama. Lacking any fresh mud to sling, the McCain people are trying to exhume guilt-by-association charges that were exhaustively examined months ago during the primaries. This is pure mudslinging and nothing but a cynical campaign tactic, but that doesn't matter to the McCain campaign. What matters is that we're writing and talking about this extraneous stuff -- and not about the issues that polls say voters really care about. The McCain campaign has made clear that it wants to change the subject. We can, and should, change it back.
A New York Times editorial: “Mr. McCain made clear on Monday that he wanted to make the final month of the race a referendum on Mr. Obama's character, background and leadership -- a polite way of saying he intends to attack him on all fronts and create or reinforce doubts about him among as many voters as possible.”
The Boston Globe said Obama was “facing a broad new assault on his character from rival John McCain and the Republican Party.”
USA Today: "As they prepared Monday for Tuesday night's presidential debate, John McCain attacked Barack Obama's credibility. But some of McCain's fellow Republicans say the aggressive tack may not offset the damage to his candidacy from the sinking economy."
Former McCain strategist Mike Murphy, in his blog for Time magazine, writes: "Meanwhile the McCain campaign retains its lamentable focus on press tactics at the expense of a real strategy... Over the top negative attacks and a campaign message that too often seems to be little more than sarcasm and suppressed anger has damaged McCain's priceless and hard earned 'brand' as a different kind of Republican. McCain's best option now is to ditch the chainsaw and offer a scared and angry country what it badly wants; hope and leadership. And Palin should drop the braying attacks on Obama's aging hippie radical pals…”
And finally, from American Prospect's Ezra Klein: "If his campaign's final assault is defeated, it will be read as a repudiation of these politics. It will be understood as firm proof that you can no longer purposefully shatter this country's uneasy sense of tolerance and consensus and be assured that your pieces will be bigger . . . McCain, a man who once fashioned himself as among the country's most decent leaders, will have to live with the knowledge that history will remember him as having been unable to stand against bigotry and fear when they presented a political opportunity."
THE TONE is ominous, the shadings dark. "Who is Barack Obama?" asks the latest campaign advertisement from Sen. John McCain. "He says our troops in Afghanistan are 'just air-raiding villages and killing civilians' . . . How dishonorable. . . How dangerous. . . . Too risky for America."
Here's what Mr. Obama actually said about Afghanistan in August 2007: "We've got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there." The gap between that reality and the McCain ad -- not quite a lie, yet not a fair representation, either -- is where the campaigns seem to be heading with four weeks to go until the election.
But the relevance of character can't excuse an anything-goes assault. Mr. Obama's use of the word "just" in his statement on Afghanistan was inartful. But Mr. McCain knows perfectly well that Mr. Obama doesn't believe U.S. troops are killing only civilians. He also knows perfectly well that the problem Mr. Obama described -- the alienation of Afghan civilians by military tactics that lead to too many civilian deaths -- is real and demands a rethinking of strategy. What's dishonorable in this case is the McCain ad, not the Obama statement.
This John McCain ad blatantly distorts Barack Obama's words in an effort to paint him as callous about the role of the U.S. military. His meaning was the opposite of what is portrayed in this spot.
How many members of McCain/Bush/Schmidt/Rove campaign does it take to change a light bulb?
1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;
2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;
3. One to blame American Voters for burning out the light bulb;
4. One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs;
5. One to give a One Trillion dollars to Wall Street for the new light bulb;
6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner: Light Bulb Change Accomplished;
7. One campaign insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how McCain/Bush/Schmit/Rove was literally in the dark and out of touch with the American Voter
8. One to viciously smear #7;
9. Sarah Palin to campaign on TV and at rallies on how John McCain has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along;
10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.
Monday, October 6, 2008
To attempt an analogy, it’s almost like getting so caught up in the salaries, scandals, steroids, stadium-naming rights for corporations, merchandise marketing, and TV ratings that swirl around professional sports that it’s easy to forget that these are just games that we all played ourselves as kids and could simply go outside and play again right now with other people (if we still played outside and interacted with other live humans).
Somehow we’ve all managed to lose sight of the fact that music is…. MUSIC. It’s not product, though it certainly has been marketed and sold as such. Music is not a popularity contest, despite what millions of American Idol fans have been programmed to believe. Karaoke is not music. Guitar Hero is not music. Your myspace page and your iPod playlist may contain music, but it, itself, is not music.
Music is Girl Love's Distortion's debut CD, Earth Beings on Exhibit (Etxe Records). I say that because it’s not pretentious. Sure, they look cool in the photos and they made damn sure that the CD sounds great, but they aren’t trying to look cool or sound marketable or capitalize on a niche or do anything but just… play… music. So it’s aptly titled: Earth Beings on Exhibit…. This is us, this is our art. It is rock music, and like it or not, it is real.
And that’s what’s so rare. GLD is a band of actual people making artistic alternative guitar rock. As if that’s not a horrible and generic enough label, I’ll try to categorize it and “tell you what it sounds like,” even though that’s also part of what’s gone wrong. I hear a strong Sonic Youth influence even if it doesn’t actually sound like SY per se. But the elements are there: the guitar prowess, the feedback, the dissonance, the artsy factor, the presence of both male and female voices, the unconventional song structures juxtaposed among flashes of catchy pop (like the houseful of shaggy-looking weirdos living on the same block as the clean-cut Normal American Family).
While it’s great that technology and access has enabled millions of people to “start a band” and made it easier for existing bands to distribute and promote their music in creative new ways (and often without the “help” of Traditional Record Companies), it’s also spawned a whole new generation of amateurs posing as pros. And if they have the coolest clothes, the right haircuts, and a little bit of money behind them, you might not notice that they suck.
Well Girl Loves Distortion doesn’t suck (how’s that for a glowing endorsement?). They have serious chops to go along with their creative eyes and ears. Lead guitarist and bassist Steve Rubin manages to harness the fury of Crazy-Horse-era Neil Young guitar freakouts and filter them through the tasteful simple/unique approach of someone like The Edge. Guitarist/bassist Chris Goett compliments Rubin perfectly as a songwriter and player and manages to give his own songs a classic Lou Reed/David Bowie baritone that offsets Rubin’s imperfect inner Thom Yorke. Drummer Jenn Thomas isn’t afraid to let all of the creative voices in her head sing out loud, and it’s always refreshing to see and hear a drummer who plays a creative role within the song and makes the drums a real instrument. She doesn’t try to be Neal Peart but still manages to do more than just play along and keep a beat.
GLD’s Earth Beings on Exhibit CD is proof that real people still make real music and, in treating it like a serious art form while not taking themselves too seriously, the result is real good.
Personally I've never had a problem with musicians or actors using their fame to offer their opinions on the issues of the day. Why not?
As a longtime Bruce Springsteen fan, and a current Barack Obama supporter, I'm certainly glad to see Bruce making a few acoustic appearances at rallies and voter-registration drives in key swingstates.
Here are the comments he made from the stage in Philadelphia on Saturday, October 4:
I am glad to be here today for this voter registration drive and for Barack Obama, the next President of the United States.
I've spent 35 years writing about America, its people, and the meaning of the American Promise. The Promise that was handed down to us, right here in this city from our founding fathers, with one instruction: Do your best to make these things real. Opportunity, equality, social and economic justice, a fair shake for all of our citizens, the American idea, as a positive influence, around the world for a more just and peaceful existence. These are the things that give our lives hope, shape, and meaning. They are the ties that bind us together and give us faith in our contract with one another.
I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. For many Americans, who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities. The distance between that promise and that reality has never been greater or more painful.
I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe he understands, in his heart, the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning. After the disastrous administration of the past 8 years, we need someone to lead us in an American reclamation project. In my job, I travel the world, and occasionally play big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I've continued to find, wherever I go, America remains a repository of people's hopes, possibilities, and desires, and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain, for many, a house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.
They will, however, be leaving office, dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, looted, and left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care; it needs saving, it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs strong arms, hearts, and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama's understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness, and faith, to help us rebuild our house once again. But most importantly, it needs us. You and me. To build that house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. That is where our future lies. We will rise or fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don't know about you, but I want that dream back, I want my America back, I want my country back.
So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising.
Video of his 42-minute set at the Philadelphia rally is available here.
01. The Promised Land
02. Ghost of Tom Joad
03. Thunder Road
04. No Surrender
05. Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street
06. The Rising
07. This Land is Your Land
Friday, October 3, 2008
If the rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is so despicable and so full of hate (and it is), and if meeting with him or another of Iran’s leaders would in some sense validate him (and his hate speech) and in turn actually give those reckless words an international platform…. Then why does Sarah Palin insist on repeating all of his worst lines about “wiping Israel off the map” and calling Judaism a “stinking corpse”?? She’s a candidate for Vice-President of the United States, and in a debate televised across every network in America and replayed all over the world, there she is delivering Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic talking points for him. Sure, she’s denouncing those words, but she’s also constantly repeating them on TV and amplifying them through campaign rally microphones and giving them the largest platform possible by hurling them on to the Presidential political stage. And since we all agree that talking about wiping Israel off the map and calling Judaism a stinking corpse is reprehensible and disgusting maybe Sarah Palin should stop doing it.
Never mind that Barack Obama never actually said that he himself would meet with Ahmadinejad himself; and never mind that everyone from Henry Kissinger and James Baker to Madeline Albright, Condaleeza Rice and others all agree that we should have some diplomatic relations and engage in conversations with Iran and other adversaries, as Obama has suggested. Facts matter little to Gov. Palin. She sang the praises of diplomacy and promised that she and John McCain would engage in diplomacy… but at the same time accused Barack Obama of naivety for wanting to engage in… diplomacy. Huh? I guess it’s possible that she doesn’t know what the word diplomacy means, but I think she does. She’s not as profoundly dumb as she appeared in her few TV interviews. But diplomacy doesn’t sell tickets or boost ratings. She would rather spout fear, and then of course figure out a way to pivot back to talking about oil. And along the way, if she happens to slip in a simplistic, misleading, and disrespectful soundbite like “Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq,” well then that’s okay too, and also you betcha.
Speaking of fear, when asked specifically about the economic crisis and the bailout plan she instead put on her Hockey-Mom sweatshirt and her Joe Sixpack hat and said in her very first response of the night that you can go to a kid's soccer game on Saturday and ask parents how they feel, and "I'll betcha you're going to hear some fear." Fear, fear, fear.
Palin said things like “Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people and too many parts of our planet” and “We would never allow another Holocaust” and “Darn right it was the predator lenders… There was deception there, and there was greed and there is corruption on Wall Street” and that mortgage lenders were "rearing that head of abuse." She used the word "energy" 29 times.
She didn’t want to fully admit that global warming and climate change is man made. ("I'm not one to attribute every man -- activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man's activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.") She dismissed the causes as unimportant ("there are real changes going on in our climate and I don't want to argue about the causes"), but then claimed to want do something about it. Memo to Governor Palin: it’s a good idea to know what’s causing a problem if you truly want to actually fix it.
She complained about “the mainstream media filter” and wished that she could just talk to the American people…. Well who was or is preventing her from going on Meet the Press or any other news show and sitting down and talking to the American people? And was it the “media filter” who couldn’t even name one other Supreme Court case beyond Roe v. Wade? Was it the “media filter” who, when asked what newspapers or magazines she reads, answered “Oh, uh, y’know, all of ‘em, or any of ‘em… a vast variety of sources….”?
Back to the debate, when they tried to delve further into economic issues and Biden started getting into some specifics about bankruptcy laws and mortgages, Palin’s response? “I want to talk about, again, my record on energy versus your ticket's energy ticket, also,” because her state has oil and, y’know, and also she’s just a Washington outsider and also a maverick. And while the real real regular Americans are worried about losing their homes, and while moderator Gwen Ifill and Sen. Joe Biden want to talk about the nitty-gritty specifics of these very real concerns, the Governor who plays a regular American on TV actually admitted that “I may not answer the questions the way the moderator wants me to” and instead seemed proud of herself for correcting Biden by explaining that the chant of her mindless followers is “Drill, baby, drill!” and not “Drill, drill, drill” as Biden alluded to earlier.
Oil. Fear. Oil. Soundbites. Oil. Folksy. Oil. Remind you of anyone currently holding the title of President?
So, just to clarify since some people didn’t seem to get it the first time: the Bush/Cheney administration is the pig; the McCain/Palin campaign is the lipstick.
The Washington Post’s Harold Meyerson said, “She responded to any question that required real-time thinking by ignoring it and dredging up a canned answer from the McCain campaign’s canned-answer pool. She had memorized her answers, even if they weren’t the answers to the questions Gwen Ifill posed. Her performance was dissociated, jumbled, and at times completely contradictory, with soundbites appearing and reappearing almost at random.”
Some other reaction, starting with the New York Times:
She succeeded by not failing in any obvious way. She mostly reverted to and repeated talking points, like referring to Mr. McCain as a “maverick” and the Republican ticket as a “team of mavericks,” while not necessarily quelling doubts among voters about her depth of knowledge.
Although Ms. Palin name-dropped several times, presumably to show fluency in foreign affairs, she did not always drop the right name. At one point, she referred to the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, as "McClellan.”
Ms. Palin also tended to seize on a single point or phrase of Mr. Biden or the moderator and veer off on her own direction in her 90-second answer. Asked whether the poor economy would cause Mr. McCain to cut his spending plans, Ms. Palin picked up on Mr. Biden’s discussion of energy to criticize Mr. Obama’s positions on energy and talk about her fights against oil companies in Alaska.
In response to a question about her views on an exit strategy in Iraq, Ms. Palin championed Mr. McCain’s support for the “surge” of American troops there; hailed “a great American hero,” Gen. David H. Petraeus; and attacked Mr. Obama’s Senate votes.
After that, Mr. Biden turned to the moderator and said, “Gwen, with all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan.”
Eugene Robinson wrote in the Washington Post: “I thought Sarah Palin made one huge, central mistake -- and I expect it to be reflected in surveys asking voters who won (as it is already, indeed, reflected in a CBS snap poll of uncommitted voters indicating that they saw Joe Biden as the winner). Her error was that she hardly talked at all about policy solutions, except when the debate got onto the subject of energy and offshore drilling. But on everything else -- the financial crisis, the economy in general, health care, the war on terror -- she gave little more than promises of reform and ‘maverick’-y governance.”
From Salon’s Joan Walsh:
She lost the debate when Biden choked up over losing his wife and child in a car accident in which his sons were critically injured -- and she went straight back into “John McCain is a maverick.” I truly expected her to express human sympathy with Biden, and her failure to do so showed me something deeply wrong with her.
She made other mistakes that others have already caught: She called the top commander in Afghanistan General McClellan; his name is McKiernan. She said the troop levels in Iraq are down to pre-surge levels; they're not. She simply didn't answer a lot of the questions. Moderator Gwen Ifill tried to pull her back, but Palin is stubborn; she had her talking points, and she stuck to them.
John Nichols wrote in The Nation: “Let's be clear that Palin did not crash and burn as her most ardent detractors anticipated – or, at the least, hoped – she would. Yes, the governor rambled at times, and she had no comebacks at those moments when Biden directly challenged the validity of her over-the-top claims about Obama's Senate voting record. But Palin gave Republican spin doctors enough material – mainly in the form of folksy one-liners -- so that they could cheer her ‘success’ without sounding entirely ridiculous.”
In a Slate article titled “So Palin spoke in complete sentences; She still knows nothing about foreign policy,” Fred Kaplan writes:
When Palin repeated her charge that Obama was "beyond naive" in calling for negotiating with adversaries "without preconditions," Biden explained what the phrase meant, then noted that it was supported not just by the five former secretaries of state who recently co-authored an endorsement of the idea but by our allies, with whom Palin had just said we needed to work together.
When Palin recited McCain's line about applying the principles of the Iraqi surge to Afghanistan, Biden (correctly) noted that the U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan has said the surge wouldn't work there.
Finally, when Biden said the Bush administration's foreign policy has been an "abject failure," and proceeded to list the many ways in which that was so, Palin's only reply was to smile and say, "Enough playing the blame game." If Obama and Biden talk so much about change, she added (as if this were really a clever point), why do they spend so much time looking backward?
To which Biden replied, with uncharacteristic pith, "Past is prologue." And so it is. At another point, he noted, "Facts matter." And so they do.
More to the point, he noted that McCain has never explained how his policies would differ from Bush's on Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, or Iraq. In other words, even if Palin is right that 2009 is Year Zero, what would she and her No. 1 do differently? She didn't answer the question, any more than McCain ever has, perhaps because there is no answer.
When Biden was asked what line he would draw in deciding whether to intervene in other countries militarily, he cited two criteria: whether we had the capacity to make a difference and whether the countries in question were committing genocide or harboring terrorists—in which case, he said, they would have forfeited the rights of sovereignty.
Palin replied merely by hailing John McCain as a man "who knows how to win a war, who's been there." (McCain has said this about himself as well several times, though, with all due respect for his military record, where's the proof of this claim? What wars has he won, and what did he do there?)
MODERATOR: Let's talk conventional wisdom for a moment. The conventional wisdom, Governor Palin with you, is that your Achilles heel is that you lack experience. What is it really for you, Governor Palin?
PALIN: My experience as an executive will be put to good use as a mayor and business owner and oil and gas regulator and then as governor of a huge state, a huge energy producing state that is accounting for much progress towards getting our nation energy independence and that's extremely important.
But it wasn't just that experience tapped into, it was my connection to the heartland of America. Being a mom, one very concerned about a son in the war, about a special needs child, about kids heading off to college, how are we going to pay those tuition bills? About times and Todd and our marriage in our past where we didn't have health insurance and we know what other Americans are going through as they sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how are they going to pay out-of-pocket for health care? We've been there also so that connection was important.
But even more important is that world view that I share with John McCain. That world view that says that America is a nation of exceptionalism. And we are to be that shining city on a hill, as President Reagan so beautifully said, that we are a beacon of hope and that we are unapologetic here. We are not perfect as a nation. But together, we represent a perfect ideal. And that is democracy and tolerance and freedom and equal rights. Those things that we stand for that can be put to good use as a force for good in this world.
John McCain and I share that. You combine all that with being a team with the only track record of making a really, a difference in where we've been and reforming, that's a good team, it's a good ticket.
Friday, September 26, 2008
He said he was “suspending” his presidential campaign to go back to Washington to deal with the economic crisis and the bailout discussions. But after lying to David Letterman, cancelling his appearance cuz he just had to hop on a plane and head to DC (but then staying in NY and sitting down for an interview with Katie Couric), his campaign changed their story and said he cancelled because “this is not a time for comedy.”
Oh, spare me the drama. Sure the economic crisis is very serious, but “this is not a time for comedy”??? This isn’t Sept.12… and oh by the way, I guess it was okay for The Formerly Honorable Sen. McCain to appear on the Conan O’Brien show on August 29, 2005 after celebrating his birthday with President Bush… that same day Katrina and breached levies were drowning an American city. Was that a “time for comedy”?
By most accounts, McCain’s announcement that he was bringing the presidential campaign circus to Capitol Hill actually served to inject partisanship into the negotiations and kill what everyone thought was a deal on the bailout. Heckuva job there Johnny!
If all this wasn’t bad enough… he didn’t actually suspend his campaign. His advertisements were still running in key swingstates. His campaign offices were still open and running. His surrogates were still all over TV talking him up. And, despite McCain's stated campaigning hiatus, his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, paid a highly visible visit to memorials in lower Manhattan to those killed on Sept. 11.
Ohh, okay. Suspend the campaign.... but go ahead with the 9/11 photo op. Stay classy McCain/Palin!!
And then there’s this ridiculous stunt about wanting to cancel/postpone the first debate. The rest of us regular working Americans are somehow capable of taking care of our kids in the morning, going to work and attending important meetings during the day, and then doing something else in the evening. To paraphrase Obama, sometimes the President has to handle more than one thing at a time. Come on, Uncle John, just show up to the debate.... after all, it is only against some naive inexperienced celebrity community organizer, right? How hard could it be?
When asked about the debate on the CBS Evening News, McCain responded: "I understand how important this debate is and I'm very hopeful, but I also have to put the country first." Is anyone buying this horseshit? This is the guy who has missed more Senate votes than anyone. When the latest G.I. Bill was voted on, he put Campaign First and blew off the vote to appear at a high-price fundraising dinner. But now all of a sudden he wants to make this all about him (despite his Country First talk), as if Congress cant function without him. As if the first debate in this crucial Presidential contest is somehow not important to the country.
Back to the bailout negotiations, from the Washington Post’s late Thursday afternoon update by Michael D. Shear and Lori Montgomery:
Sen. John McCain returned to Washington on Thursday after declaring that he has suspended his campaign, but he appeared largely detached from the flurry of negotiations on a $700 billion economic rescue package that appeared to be headed to a successful conclusion.So he doesn’t land until after noon…. Then goes and dicks around the Senate with his boy Joe Lieberman, and then he goes out for lunch? But he doesn’t have the time or inclination to go before the American people and debate Barack Obama and show and tell us why we should trust him to be the leader of the free world?
McCain's "Straight Talk Air" landed at National Airport just after noon, and McCain's motorcade sped toward the Senate. But by then, senior Democrats and Republicans were already announcing that a deal in principle had been reached.
"This is the presidential campaign of John McCain undermining what Hank Paulson tells us is essential for the country," said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. "This is McCain at the last minute getting House Republicans to undermine the Paulson approach."
The White House meeting was in part the result of McCain's stunning pronouncement Wednesday that he would stop campaigning to return to Washington, where he had urged Bush to convene a summit to address the crisis.
… for most of the afternoon, McCain has not visibly been part of the action on the issue. He was not present when House and Senate negotiators emerged from a two-hour meeting to declare success. That announcement was made by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Robert F. Bennett (Utah) and Frank.
McCain, by contrast, spent some time in his office with several Republican colleagues, briefly stopped at Boehner's office, then left for lunch at the Capitol's Mansfield Room before returning to his office in the Russell Senate Office Building.
McCain's not putting Country First. He's not showing leadership. He's just a stuntman in a political theater.