...and dig the following words of wisdom to live by in 2006 & beyond, from the great John Digby:
Patrick Henry Democrats
From John Digby's Hullabaloo, 12/29/05:
As much as I appreciate all these Republicans offering us advice about how we are endangering our political prospects by not supporting illegal NSA spying, I have to wonder if they really have our best interests at heart. I just get a teensy bit suspicious that it might not be sincere.
The truth is that I have no idea where the NSA spying scandal is going and neither do they. The Republicans would like it to go nowhere for obvious reasons and so they are trying to psych out timid Dems. What I do know is that the most important problem Democrats have is not national security; it's that nobody can figure out what we stand for. And when we waffle and whimper about things like this we validate that impression.
In Rick Perlstein's book, "The Stock Ticker and The Super Jumbo" he notes that many Democrats are still reeling from the repudiation of the party by the Reagan Democrats. And while they continue to worry about being too close to African Americans or being too rigid on abortion or too soft on national security, they don't realize that the most vivid impression people have of the Democrats is this:
"I think they lost their focus"
"I think they are a little disorganized right now"
"They need leadership"
"On the sidelines"
The reason people think this is because we are constantly calculating whether our principles are politically sellable (and we do it in front of god and everybody.) We've been having this little public encounter session for well over 20 years now and it's added up to a conclusion that we don't actually believe in anything at all.
Perhaps the NSA scandal is a political loser for Dems. We can't know that now. But it is a winner for us in the long term. We believe in civil liberties and civil rights. With economic fairness, they form the heart of our political philosophy. If this particular issue doesn't play well, that's too bad. People who believe in things sometimes have to be unpopular. Over time, they gain the respect of the people which is something we dearly need.
A party that is described as fumbling, confused and scared is unlikely to win elections even if they endorse the wholesale round-up of hippies and the nuking of Mecca. People will listen to us if we can first convince them that we know who we are and what we believe in.
I'm of the mind to adopt "give me liberty or give me death" as my personal motto. If I have to kowtow to a bunch of childish Republican panic artists who have deluded themselves into believing that fighting radical Islam requires turning America into a police state, then it's just not worth it.
Friday, December 30, 2005
...and dig the following words of wisdom to live by in 2006 & beyond, from the great John Digby:
Posted by steve scariano at 11:52 AM
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Ok folks, here it is, my favorite music of 2005:
Absolute Favorite Album of The Year:
Son Volt---Okemah And The Melody Of Riot
Quite simply the pinnacle of Jay Farrar's recording career. A record that places him shoulder to shoulder as a peer alongside those who have influenced him such as Neil Young, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Joe Strummer, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty etc. Okemah And The Melody Of Riot plays like an unintentional soundtrack to the deep blues of well-intentioned citizens waking up to the horrors of a second Bush term. Jay and new band members deliver the goods in spades, both musically and lyrically, Bush and the war in Iraq the target most often in Jay's piercing lyrical sights. And the record rocks like a motherfucker when it needs to. The melody of riot indeed...
The Rest Of The Pack (In alphabetical order, reissues included. Some inspired blurbs, though those without are still of equal enjoyment value to me):
Terry Adams & Marshall Allen---ten by two
Breathtaking live duets from the NRBQ pianist and the Sun Ra Orchestra saxophonist. Adams' uncanny ability to simultaneously channel the spirits of both Thelonius Monk & Sun Ra is remarkable, and when Allen blows you are reminded that space remains the place. This record is full of interplanetary be-bop & boogie woogie, a dash of rock n' roll, and even a total donk take on "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head".
The Amazing Pilots---Hello My Captor
The Bats---At The National Grid
A bit of a throwback while always looking forward, the most rocking and straight ahead Cale record in a long time. Kind of an updated & modernized version of his classic '70's Island Records era sound.
Cobra Verde---Copycat Killers
Chocolate Genius Inc.---Black Yankee Rock
Marc Anthony Thompson is the black Brian Wilson. Why he's languishing in relative obscurity is beyond me, cause this record is a very deserving accomplishment, full of melodically complex and deeply moving genre-bending songs. Kinda like There's A Riot Goin On, but without the massive amounts of cocaine.
"The American Mott The Hoople" as I've always called them, re-unite and deliver the best unexpected surprise of the year.
Echo & The Bunnymen—Siberia
The Alejandro Escovedo String Quintet---Room Of Songs
The Flamin' Groovies---Shake Some Action (reissue)
The Flamin' Groovies---Now (reissue)
The Flamin' Groovies---Jumpin' In The Night (reissue)
How great it is to finally have the Groovies' Sire era albums so magnificently re-mastered. The brilliance and historical significance of Shake Some Action remains staggering.
Low---The Great Destroyer
Thelonius Monk & John Coltrane—The Thelonius Monk Quartet With John Coltrane At Carnegie Hall
The Morells---Anthology "Live" 101 Songs About Cars, Girls, And Food!!!
The Morells---Think About It
The four disc live anthology is quite simply an amazing motherlode for diehards. And Think About It finds our heroes every bit as strong twenty years later, with some of Donnie Thompson's most jaw-dropping recorded guitar work ever.
Bob Mould---Body Of Song
Though many dispute the call, I happen to think this is the best thing he's ever done. An emotionally moving and groove oriented mountain of rock. And call me crazy, but I totally dig the Cher vocoder vocal thingy used in this rocking context.
The Plimsouls---One Night In America (reissue)
Riddle Of Steel---Got This Feelin'
The Rolling Stones---A Bigger Bang
Kinda like Swervedriver—a good thing!
Patti Smith---Horses/Horses (half reissue/half new live album)
Sun Kil Moon---Tiny Cities
Norway's best rock band deliver another classic full of very intelligent hard rocking melodic pop anthems that simultaneously celebrate the joys and dark sides of Scandinavian hedonism. Imagine a totally glammed-out, Mensa version of the Dictators, but from Norway. And check out the instant sing along classic, "Blow Me Like The Wind"--- the best hard rocking song of the year!
Tom Verlaine---Warm And Cool (reissue)
His 1992 instrumental twang-from-mars masterpiece re-mastered. The big news here is that this reissue includes eight previously unreleased cuts!
Yo La Tengo---Prisoners Of Love-A Smattering Of Scintillating Senescent Songs 1985-2003
Sparks---Live In Stockholm
Favorite Live Shows:
Brian Wilson---Roberts-Orpheum Theater, St. Louis
The dB's---Hideout Block Party & The House Of Blues, Chicago
The Finn Brothers---The Pageant & Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis
Steve Earle & The Dukes---The Pageant, St. Louis
Son Volt---The Pageant, St. Louis
Blowfly---Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis
Har Mar Superstar---Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis
Posted by steve scariano at 10:40 AM
Friday, December 23, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
From Editor & Publisher, 12/21/05:
Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said recently, referring to the spy program controversy, "I think if we're going to be intellectually honest here, this really is the kind of thing that Alexander Hamilton was referring to when impeachment was discussed."
Posted by steve scariano at 10:03 AM
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
Mark your calendars and set the tivos & vcrs for this coming Friday, December 23rd, as the magnificent Darlene Love returns to the Late Show With David Letterman, to recreate the Phil Spector "Wall Of Sound" with Paul Shaffer and an augmented CBS Orchestra. Her annual delivery of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is one of the most amazing musical performances you will see on television in any given year. And what's really amazing is that each new performance of the the song by Love, Shaffer, & company usually tops the performance from the year before. They really pull out all the stops, and it's always quite a sentimentally moving musical spectacle.
Posted by steve scariano at 6:52 AM
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Your government is turning it's back and breaking the promises of help and relief that were made to those who were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Therefore these survivors must still rely heavily on the many charitable organizations out there still trying to help them. So please give whatever you can to the relief organization of your choice, cause these folks still need our help.
The relief organization nearest to my heart is the New Orleans Musician's Relief Fund.
Posted by steve scariano at 7:50 PM
That was a totally psychedelic and totally brilliant Simpsons Christmas show that aired this evening. Screw those who think this show is past it's prime---the Simpsons bar remains high, and they still deliver the goods every week. And oh yeah, Moe's suicide attempts in the final vignette of tonight's show were priceless!
Posted by steve scariano at 7:35 PM
POLITICS: "for the majority of a population, in the majority of dictatorships, it's just easier to live your life"
As they prepare a cell for him in the nearest gulag, all hail The Rude Pundit:
Do We Have To Wait Until Bush Purges 20 Million of Us Before We Can Say He's Like Stalin?
from The Rude Pundit 12/16/2005:
Sometimes, man, it's easy to understand why people just go on with their lives if they're in countries led by a dictator. 'Cause, see, ya got different types of dictators: ya got yer blatantly greedy, "fuck everyone's poverty and hunger as long as my fat belly is full and my big ass is on a gold pillow"-type, like yer House of Saud; ya got yer crazy, seein' shit, killin' everyone in sight, paranoid dictators, like yer Stalins, yer Kim Jong-Ils; ya got yer "as long as you don't fuck with me, we're cool" dictators, like yer Saddam Husseins; and, the most insidious kind, the dictators who pretend they're not dictators, that everything they do is good and right for the majority of the people in the nation, and, really, where do ya wanna start? Mao? No category is hard and fast, for qualities of one kind certainly bleed into the others (and, hey, this ain't a fuckin' textbook here). Besides, every dictator has his or her brutal fetishes, like rape rooms, testicle torture, or scalp-collectin', that inflict themselves on the occasional innocent. But, for the majority of a population, in the majority of dictatorships, it's just easier to live your life and hope that you never run over the dictator's son's pet goat or some such shit.'Cause, like, if you're a citizen in a dictatorship, you can belong to one of a few categories: inner circle, by connection, family, or ethnicity, where the bounty of the dictator is shared with you as long as you keep said dictator happy; enemy group, by politics, ethnicity, or region, in which case you will be fucked with, beaten, and your daughter raped in front of you on a regular basis until you're disappeared, imprisoned, or cleansed; or average person-in-the-street, the men and women who each day walk past the posters of Glorious Leader, listen to the Leader's speeches, work their jobs, fuck their spouses and/or lovers, raise their kids, watch their TVs, and feel a little exhausted and cranky all the time without wanting to admit why. Think of life in a Soviet bloc country back in the day. And average person-in-the-street has to make a decision: to seek to rebel, overthrow that dictator, and try to make a change in the nation (thus turning into a purgeable enemy of the state, you know), or take the safe, easy way out and live that average person life. And who could blame you?In America, we pretend, god, how we pretend, that we're not drifting precipitously into dictatorship, despite a government that clearly behaves as if it has the powers of such tyranny. How else do you explain the Bush administration's blatant violation of criminal law in the President's authorization of spying by the NSA on perhaps thousands of American citizens, a story the "liberal" New York Times sat on for a year at the behest of the White House? Combined with the revelation of the Pentagon database of "potential threats" to the nation that includes war protesters, and you've got some good ol' Soviet-style paranoia going on. If the government feels it has to monitor and/or control the speech and gatherings of its citizens, well, shit, may as well break out the ball vices, put up the posters of Bush standing on top of the corpses of traitors, and call it totalitarianism.But the occasional good work is a nice distraction from the excesses of a dictatorship. It's what makes it easier for that average citizen to sit back and be an object, acted upon, instead of a subject with that awful agency that forces one to act. Stalin knew that if he built a mighty dam, many people in the nation would overlook the death and misery he had wrought as his press praised him endlessly for his vision in making that mighty dam. So it is that the White House announced the request for an additional $1.5 billion to help reconstruct the levees in New Orleans (which takes care of an effect, but not the disease of environmental degradation).And anyone who thinks that Bush actually "gave in" to John McCain on the torture amenement is either an idiot or an idolater (and, really, it's hard to tell one from the other these days). We know, from funding for African AIDS programs to the use of poor people and the military as props, that Bush doesn't give a shit what he agrees to, what oaths he vows, what promises he makes: he's gonna do what he wants. Alberto Gonzales has already figured out a way around the McCain amendment, to be sure. And we'll find out about that in another couple of years. The agreement, like the promise to fund the levees, is hocus-pocus, sleight of hand, so you can't see the real fakery of the magic. It's like Stalin promising defectors that nothing would happen if they returned back home. Oh, what glorious bloodletting occurred because of that lie. Oh, how nice and peaceful that lie sounded.The failure of most Democrats to capitalize on these makes it seem like when Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton show up on some Sunday talk show, it's only because the powers-that-be allow them to speak. It's why when something happens like Russ Feingold getting some nutzoid, paranoid right wing Senators to go along with him on a possible filibuster of the Patriot Act, it is an extraordinary act of courage, when it should only be common sense.But dictatorships, even demi-dictatorships masked as democracies, don't operate under such convenient notions like "common sense" or "laws." And while the ghost of Hitler, which always haunts these kinds of writings, hasn't been dragged out yet here, let's end by saying this: for the dictatorship, there is only the will to power, and whatever manipulations and machinations it takes, that power will be maintained and the dictator will get whatever the dictator wants.(By the way, the Rude Pundit is not naive enough to think that spying on Americans hasn't occurred in the past, but, shit, at least COINTELPRO was part of the FBI.)
Posted by steve scariano at 6:52 PM
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Bush should be impeached, and here's why.
As you mingle through the holiday season with friends, family, co-workers, etc., casually slip this into conversations if and when you can. Don't rely on the mainstream media to do the job for you, cause they won't. Besides, the more folks hear it out of the mouths of people they know, the better the chances they might actually be convinced into agreement. It's all about humanizing and putting this information into plain english. Bush is illegally spying on Americans, and his reasons for doing so are bullshit. Now who could possibly still be down with that, once they know the facts?
Posted by steve scariano at 10:04 AM
Friday, December 16, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
From Reuters/Hollywood Reporter:
Showtime may rescue Arrested Development
Wed Dec 14, 2005 3:47 AM ET
By Nellie Andreeva
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Will the pay-TV environs of Showtime be a friendlier place for the Emmy-winning comedy Arrested Development, which just got canceled by Fox?
Word around town this week is that Showtime is in talks to pick up the comedy about a chaotic family. Sources stressed that the talks are still exploratory and that it would be a big financial commitment on Showtime's part to pick up the show in its current form with a large ensemble cast that includes Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Portia de Rossi, Jessica Walter and Will Arnett.
Arrested was an instant hit with critics following its debut on Fox in late 2003, but the show never pulled in much of a crowd, even after it won the Emmy for best comedy series in 2004. Last month, Fox threw in the towel, cutting its episode order for Arrested's third season from its initial 22-episode ticket to 13.
Representatives for Showtime, and the series' producers 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV declined comment late Tuesday.
Posted by steve scariano at 3:56 PM
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Golden Globes announced their nominations today. Three of my BIG faves; Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), Entourage (HBO), & Weeds (Showtime), all received nominations in the BEST TELEVISION SERIES - MUSICAL OR COMEDY category. All three are VERY deserving, especially Weeds---the best show on television this side of Arrested Development that no one is watching. And speaking of Arrested Development---not a single nomination! Insult added to the unjust injury of this show's slow and painfully sad demise...
What's really great though is that Weeds starring actresses Mary-Louise Parker and Elizabeth Perkins were also recognized with nominations. Parker is nominated in the BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES - MUSICAL OR COMEDY category for her very convincing portrayal of the suburban pot-dealing widowed mother of two trying to make ends meet. But actually winning the award looks to be a longshot for her, as she's going up against the four bitches from Desperate Housewives. Perkins is nominated in the BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION category. Her stunning performance as a real desperate housewife on the edge was hands down the best performance by a woman on all of television this year!
The god-like genius of Entourage's Jeremy Piven gets nominated again in the BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION category. Looks bleak for him though, he's up against Paul Newman & Donald Sutherland fer chrissakes! Man that guy just can't catch a break. But at least he was nominated, which is more than can be said for Curb Your Enthusiam's subtly brilliant Jeff Garlin, who was totally robbed. Where would that show be without him?
Posted by steve scariano at 4:32 PM
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I watched about 2 hours of the new Guided By Voices dvd, The Electrifying Conclusion. The dvd is the complete chronicle of the band's farewell show last New Year's Eve at the Metro in Chicago. It's four hours long! Like I said, I only watched a couple hours of it, skipping around to the tunes I wanted to hear most, as well as the two lengthy encore sets, and geez, gotta say it wore me out! If you're a fan, you've no doubt seen them do better shows, and you've also probably seen them worse shows, but probably not one as all-encompassing of their history.
It's an amazing 63 song set list! Whew! The "farewell show" sentimentality that runs throughout is indeed very touching. Several ex-band members and friends of the band make cameo appearances onstage, which is very nice to see. And lead guitarist Doug Gillard's magnificence is once and for all cemented visually on this dvd---the guy who always kept the circus together. Where the hell would Pollard have ever been without him these past several years?
And of course there is the drinking. The weird thing about watching this is you actually feel Pollard getting more and more wasted as the show carries on. The last third or so of the show he is clearly DEEP into the bag, staggering around & slurring the song introductions, his singing voice increasingly weaker with each new number, but damn if that inexplicable phenomenon within his particular mind and body was still at work, cause even up to the very end the guy never missed a single lyric! Always an amazing thing to see in action at any GBV show.
In 1994 GBV rekindled my faith in rock and roll, and for that I will always be thankful and carry the torch for them. The Electrifying Conclusion is a nice little, uh, make that massive document of them going out on a very "high" note. Cheers to anyone who can make it straight through all four hours in one sitting, maybe some day I'll be strong enough to pull that off.
Posted by steve scariano at 9:38 AM
Saturday, December 10, 2005
As a kid growing up in the '60's, Richard Pryor and Eugene McCarthy were two of the greatest teachers I ever had. Both men matched balls with intellect, and were genuine heroes because of it. Both were also men of peace. Four more American soldiers were senselessly killed in Iraq today. The work of Pryor & McCarthy is far from finished, as we are again in desperate need of leaders of their caliber...
Posted by steve scariano at 6:27 PM
Me and a few good friends, current & former co-workers, all share our thoughts on U2's first visit to St. Louis 25 years ago, in the following article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, written by another good friend, Dan Durchholz. And big props to my good buddy Tom Lunt for giving big props to the magnificent yet criminally ignored Magazine, truly one of the greatest English rock bands of all-time. The uninitiated can check them out here.
Posted by steve scariano at 10:19 AM
Friday, December 09, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
"I am not going to let oppressive, totalitarian, anti-Christian forces in this country diminish and denigrate the holiday and the celebration. I am not going to let it happen. I'm gonna use all the power that I have on radio and television to bring horror into the world of people who are trying to do that. And we have succeeded. You know we've succeeded. They are on the run in corporations, in the media, everywhere. They are on the run, because I will put their face and their name on television, and I will talk about them on the radio if they do it. There is no reason on this earth that all of us cannot celebrate a public holiday devoted to generosity, peace, and love together. There is no reason on the earth that we can't do that. So we are going to do it. And anyone who tries to stop us from doing it is gonna face me."---Bill O'Reilly, from The Radio Factor With Bill O'Reilly, December 2nd, 2005.
And the jokes just write themselves. By all means feel free to leave any in the comments section, I'm sure we could all probably use a little HOLIDAY cheer...
Posted by steve scariano at 9:30 AM
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
You bet that was Tom Verlaine, adding subtly brilliant trademark guitar lines to the Patti Smith Group's performance of "Redondo Beach" last night on Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Verlaine was a little hard to recognize as he performed seated in front of his amp wearing big black sunglasses and a hoodie pulled way up covering his head, looking more like a member of Fifty Cent's crew than the boho guitar legend that he is. But it was definitely him.
Posted by steve scariano at 7:47 AM
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Families Of The Fallen For Change is a new, two-week old organization that is seeking a bi-partisan solution to the war in Iraq. It's members have lost family members and loved ones in the war. I don't agree with everything they are calling for, but I do sincerely wish them the best of luck in their efforts. I think they've earned the right to maybe be heard a little louder than others over the din. You can check out their website here.
Posted by steve scariano at 9:57 PM
Don't get me wrong, I hate New York Times columnist David Brooks and his unapologetic shilling for the Bush administration just as much as the next guy, but check out this response Brooks gave to a question during his appearance on the Imus In The Morning show today. As per usual, Imus lulled his guest into a comfort zone free of agenda and schtick long enough to speak freely:
Imus: "Donald Rumsfeld yesterday said that things are better in Iraq than is being portrayed by the media, and I don't know what that means because we talk to people everyday and they are part of the media, but, and it's not my job to defend them, but I, some of the reporters we talk to actually I think are fairly legitimate and don't have an agenda. They work for neither CBS nor CNN, ha, ha and it doesn't appear to be that way. But I don't know, what's your view, is he right or partly right?"
David Brooks: "He may be partly right, but if Rumsfeld hadn't been saying the same damn thing for four years he'd have a little more credibility saying it now. If just once he said 'Hey, this is really bad, here, here's why it's really bad but we're going to work through it', he'd have a lot more credibility. One of the things I, you know, if you've got 15 minutes, go to the internet, look up the FDR fireside chats during World War II in '42 and '43, he had one in '42, I think in February, and he told Americans, hey, lay out a map. Here's the Pacific, here's this island, we're losing there. Here's that island, we're actually doing ok there. Here's this island we haven't lost there, but we probably will. Here's the plane we're going to use. Here's the advantages of this plane and here's the disadvantages of this plane. Here's another weapon we have, here's the advantages, here's the disadvantages. It was like he was talking to you like you were an adult and you're going to stick this thing through and they were just better speeches than anything Bush has given. So you know, those speeches were fantastic because he treated people like adults and he was pretty honest and granted he had a united country. But you know, it's just a model of how to talk to people during a war."
Talking to us like adults so we can then have an honest dialogue---what a concept. Now isn't that exactly what I heard Barack Obama calling for in a speech a couple of weeks ago, as well as many on the left echoing the same sentiments since? Of course we'll never be treated with anything close to such simple respect from Bush & Cheney & crew, even when the likes of strident supporters such as Brooks are calling for it.
Posted by steve scariano at 9:17 PM
Sunday, December 04, 2005
I know I'm in the minority among fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm for thinking this, but in my opinion the just concluded Season 5 may have been the best season of the show yet. It certainly was the most over the top and the sickest. It felt like Larry David and Jeff Garlin wanted to see just how far they could take the show this year, and I think they succeeded, cause they sure let loose with some crazy, crazy shit. And now that Arrested Development finds it's days of existence on Fox sadly numbered, I guess CYE will soon be all alone as the funniest show on tv.
Posted by steve scariano at 11:02 PM
Friday, December 02, 2005
The best thing about the White Stripes' appearance on The Daily Show last night, by the way the first music act to ever appear on the show, was Stephen Colbert's quip about the Stooges & the MC5. Colbert then countering with Rick Springfield on The Colbert Report was pretty hilarious, as was his bit on the death penalty. The Colbert Report has finally come into it's own of late, and is definitely worthy of it's heavy lead-in from The Daily Show. Both shows are must see tv.
And here's hoping that Stewart will continue to have music acts on his show, as I'm sure a Daily Show appearance will shoot to the top of the prestige list of shows to appear on. As for the wretched White Stripes, I stand by what I've said about them from day one: Jon Spencer, call your lawyers!
Posted by steve scariano at 7:51 AM
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Looks like HBO is going to make us wait until June for the return of the mighty Deadwood.
WHAT THE &@#&!: Deadwood fans are going to have to wait a little longer for their Al Swearengen fix. HBO has opted to push the show's third-season premiere to June. It was originally slated to launch in March, in conjunction with the new season of The Sopranos. The new polygamy drama Big Love takes that plum slot instead.
Posted by steve scariano at 4:29 PM
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Three of St. Louis' finest, yet greatly under-appreciated bands are playing Frederick's Music Lounge this weekend. Tinhorn plays Friday, December 2nd, then there's Waterloo and The Wormwood Scrubs on Saturday, December 3rd. You should definitely check out all three bands if you can.
Since these are two rocks shows I would love to see, of course Murphy's Law has kicked in and I will have to miss them both, as I will be away in Champaign this weekend for mixing of the Finn's Motel album Escape Velocity with Adam Schmitt. As they say, that's show biz...
Posted by steve scariano at 9:01 PM
In case you missed it, or don't want to pay the New York Times' ridiculous online cover charge, here's Frank Rich's MUST READ column from last Sunday's edition:
Dishonest, Reprehensible, Corrupt ... By Frank Rich
The New York Times
Sunday 27 November 2005
George W. Bush is so desperate for allies that his hapless Asian tour took him to Ulan Bator, a first for an American president, so he could mingle with the yaks and give personal thanks for Mongolia's contribution of some 160 soldiers to "the coalition of the willing." Dick Cheney, whose honest-and-ethical poll number hit 29 percent in Newsweek's latest survey, is so radioactive that he vanished into his bunker for weeks at a time during the storms Katrina and Scootergate.
The whole world can see that both men are on the run. Just how much so became clear in the brace of nasty broadsides each delivered this month about Iraq. Neither man engaged the national debate ignited by John Murtha about how our troops might be best redeployed in a recalibrated battle against Islamic radicalism. Neither offered a plan for "victory." Instead, both impugned their critics' patriotism and retreated into the past to defend the origins of the war. In a seasonally appropriate impersonation of the misanthropic Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life," the vice president went so far as to label critics of the administration's prewar smoke screen both "dishonest and reprehensible" and "corrupt and shameless." He sounded but one epithet away from a defibrillator.
The Washington line has it that the motivation for the Bush-Cheney rage is the need to push back against opponents who have bloodied the White House in the polls. But, Mr. Murtha notwithstanding, the Democrats are too feeble to merit that strong a response. There is more going on here than politics.
Much more: each day brings slam-dunk evidence that the doomsday threats marshaled by the administration to sell the war weren't, in Cheney-speak, just dishonest and reprehensible but also corrupt and shameless. The more the president and vice president tell us that their mistakes were merely innocent byproducts of the same bad intelligence seen by everyone else in the world, the more we learn that this was not so. The web of half-truths and falsehoods used to sell the war did not happen by accident; it was woven by design and then foisted on the public by a P.R. operation built expressly for that purpose in the White House. The real point of the Bush-Cheney verbal fisticuffs this month, like the earlier campaign to take down Joseph Wilson, is less to smite Democrats than to cover up wrongdoing in the executive branch between 9/11 and shock and awe.
The cover-up is failing, however. No matter how much the president and vice president raise their decibel levels, the truth keeps roaring out. A nearly 7,000-word investigation in last Sunday's Los Angeles Times found that Mr. Bush and his aides had "issued increasingly dire warnings" about Iraq's mobile biological weapons labs long after U.S. intelligence authorities were told by Germany's Federal Intelligence Service that the principal source for these warnings, an Iraqi defector in German custody code-named Curveball, "never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so." The five senior German intelligence officials who spoke to The Times said they were aghast that such long-discredited misinformation from a suspected fabricator turned up in Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations and in the president's 2003 State of the Union address (where it shared billing with the equally bogus 16 words about Saddam's fictitious African uranium).
Right after the L.A. Times scoop, Murray Waas filled in another piece of the prewar propaganda puzzle. He reported in the nonpartisan National Journal that 10 days after 9/11, "President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda."
The information was delivered in the President's Daily Brief, a C.I.A. assessment also given to the vice president and other top administration officials. Nonetheless Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney repeatedly pounded in an implicit (and at times specific) link between Saddam and Al Qaeda until Americans even started to believe that the 9/11 attacks had been carried out by Iraqis. More damning still, Mr. Waas finds that the "few credible reports" of Iraq-Al Qaeda contacts actually involved efforts by Saddam to monitor or infiltrate Islamic terrorist groups, which he regarded as adversaries of his secular regime. Thus Saddam's antipathy to Islamic radicals was the same in 2001 as it had been in 1983, when Donald Rumsfeld, then a Reagan administration emissary, embraced the dictator as a secular fascist ally in the American struggle against the theocratic fascist rulers in Iran.
What these revelations also tell us is that Mr. Bush was wrong when he said in his Veterans Day speech that more than 100 Congressional Democrats who voted for the Iraqi war resolution "had access to the same intelligence" he did. They didn't have access to the President's Daily Brief that Mr. Waas uncovered. They didn't have access to the information that German intelligence officials spoke about to The Los Angeles Times. Nor did they have access to material from a Defense Intelligence Agency report, released by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan this month, which as early as February 2002 demolished the reliability of another major source that the administration had persistently used for its false claims about Iraqi-Al Qaeda collaboration.
The more we learn about the road to Iraq, the more we realize that it's a losing game to ask what lies the White House told along the way. A simpler question might be: What was not a lie? The situation recalls Mary McCarthy's explanation to Dick Cavett about why she thought Lillian Hellman was a dishonest writer: "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.' "
If Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney believe they were truthful in the run-up to the war, it's easy for them to make their case. Instead of falsely claiming that they've been exonerated by two commissions that looked into prewar intelligence - neither of which addressed possible White House misuse and mischaracterization of that intelligence - they should just release the rest of the President's Daily Briefs and other prewar documents that are now trickling out. Instead, incriminatingly enough, they are fighting the release of any such information, including unclassified documents found in post-invasion Iraq requested from the Pentagon by the pro-war, neocon Weekly Standard. As Scott Shane reported in The New York Times last month, Vietnam documents are now off limits, too: the National Security Agency won't make public a 2001 historical report on how American officials distorted intelligence in 1964 about the Gulf of Tonkin incident for fear it might "prompt uncomfortable comparisons" between the games White Houses played then and now to gin up wars.
Sooner or later - probably sooner, given the accelerating pace of recent revelations - this embarrassing information will leak out anyway. But the administration's deliberate efforts to suppress or ignore intelligence that contradicted its Iraq crusade are only part of the prewar story. There were other shadowy stations on the disinformation assembly line. Among them were the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, a two-man Pentagon operation specifically created to cherry-pick intelligence for Mr. Cheney's apocalyptic Iraqi scenarios, and the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), in which Karl Rove, Karen Hughes and the Cheney hands Lewis Libby and Mary Matalin, among others, plotted to mainline this propaganda into the veins of the press and public. These murky aspects of the narrative - like the role played by a private P.R. contractor, the Rendon Group, examined by James Bamford in the current Rolling Stone - have yet to be recounted in full.
No debate about the past, of course, can undo the mess that the administration made in Iraq. But the past remains important because it is a road map to both the present and the future. Leaders who dissembled then are still doing so. Indeed, they do so even in the same speeches in which they vehemently deny having misled us then - witness Mr. Bush's false claims about what prewar intelligence was seen by Congress and Mr. Cheney's effort last Monday to again conflate the terrorists of 9/11 with those "making a stand in Iraq." (Maj. Gen. Douglas Lute, director of operations for Centcom, says the Iraqi insurgency is 90 percent homegrown.) These days Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney routinely exaggerate the readiness of Iraqi troops, much as they once inflated Saddam's W.M.D.'s.
"We're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," the vice president said of his critics. "We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them." But according to a Harris poll released by The Wall Street Journal last Wednesday, 64 percent of Americans now believe that the Bush administration "generally misleads the American public on current issues to achieve its own ends." That's why it's Mr. Cheney's and the president's own words that are being thrown back now - not to rewrite history but to reveal it for the first time to an angry country that has learned the hard way that it can no longer afford to be without the truth.
Posted by steve scariano at 5:22 PM
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Hey Duke-Stir, enough with the tears already. In the immortal words of Chris Rock, "YOU DONE GOT CAUGHT!" So turn off the bullshit waterworks and take it like the bribe taking, thieving magpie that you are. You get no sympathy from me.
And lest anyone forget, here's some, repeat, only some of the stuff Cunningham has admitted to accepting in exchange for his votes. That $7200 toilet he was given must be one hell of a shitter! Yes folks, The Duke-Stir has set the bar pretty high for corruption in a member of Congress, but I am confident that Tom Delay will soon be proven to have easily topped Cunningham in the brazen thievery department, when the shit hits his particular fan.
Posted by steve scariano at 9:32 PM
Monday, November 28, 2005
Despite it's many flaws and frustrations, I happen to think the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is something that should definitely exist. Today they announced their inductees for 2006:
The Sex Pistols: About fucking time!
Blondie: Looking back, I think a lot of of us who loved them during their day didn't even realize then at the time how important they were, so it's very good to see them get in. Their first four albums are all bonafide classics.
Miles Davis: Well, duh!
Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss: It's easy to forget what a nice little major label A&M was, once upon a time back in the day. And their faith in great English bands like The Move, Free, Humble Pie, & Procol Harum is worthy enough for entrace into The Hall for Alpert & Moss.
Black Sabbath: Sure, why not.
Lynyrd Skynyrd: I am forever proud that I walked out to the lobby as fast as I could halfway through the first song of their set opening for the Who on the Quadrophenia tour in 1973. And believe me, I never looked back at them again throughout the rest of their career---what a bunch of horrible rubbish! It certainly comes as no surprise then to see what's passing for the band these days shilling for Bush/Cheney. Fuck 'em then and fuck 'em now!
And yet another year goes by with no induction for Iggy/and or The Stooges! His/their omission from The Hall is criminally embarrassing at this point, and now borders on the comical, it's so glaring. I'll stand by my long-running theory as to why: Iggy's various ups & downs & "mis-adventures" throughout his career wound up costing a lot of schmoes in the record industry fair amounts of unrecoupable money. And if there's one thing that you can count on, it's these motherfuckers never forgetting when someone has cost them a dime or two. So undoubtedly a lot of industry weasels who vote on Hall Of Fame inductees still have it out for poor old Iggy. What a bunch of horseshit.
But since Iggy's exclusion is something that has come to be expected, the real surprise this year is that in their first year of eligibility, REM failed to get in. What the fuck, could there have been a more obvious choice? Weird...
Posted by steve scariano at 10:38 PM
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Burt Bacharach's new album At This Time is clearly one for the Burt fanatics. This particular fanatic found equal pleasures and frustrations throughout, often in the context of the same song. The big to do about this record is that at the age of 77, Bacharach is pissed at the state of the political climate of the country and therefore has been moved to write lyrics for the first time in his legendary career. Of course his lyrics aren't very good, but I'm certainly not going to take issue with the obvious sincere musings of a very old man worried about the type of world he'll be leaving to his very young children. Thankfully they're pretty easy to ignore, as they come off more as snippets of overheard conversations one might hear at one of Burt's exclusive cocktail parties at his Malibu beach house rather than actual lyrics.
So then it's on to why any Burt fanatic is listening in the first place: the melodies as only he can write them, and how he chooses to orchestrate and arrange them. The good news is there are plenty of those great melodies throughout, all very similar in shape and feel to those from the record Burt made a few years ago with Elvis Costello. Where the album runs into it's difficulties is it's split between classic complex Bacharach orchestrations and arrangements, and borderline smooth jazz. Granted, no one is probably going to do borderline smooth jazz better than Burt, but...
And there there's the singing. Burt sing-speaks here and there, coming off like a really awful version of the Blue Nile's Paul Buchanan. Ironic in that the Dr. Dre provided drum loops on some of the cuts combined with Bacharach's orchestration result in tracks very reminiscent of the Blue Nile, leaving one longing to hear Buchanan sing this entire album, which he probably would've in a heartbeat if he had been asked. Instead we're stuck with Elvis Costello, who should be taken out back and shot for his yelping on "Who Are These People?". Costello's limited vocal range has found him in way over his head with Bacharach material before, but never more than on this one, where he simply drowns in it. Rufus Wainwright fares better with his guest vocal spot on "Go Ask Shakespeare", but in the end offers nothing special to the song other than a hey--- it's Rufus and he's singing a Burt melody.
Like I said, this album's for the fanatics, but there are pleasures to be found within if you are one. It's perfectly good background music for a drive through the country or for reading Frank Rich's column in the Sunday New York Times on the deck of your Malibu beach house...
Posted by steve scariano at 6:50 PM
Boy do I love The Rude Pundit. Here's Reason 3507 as to why. Enjoy...
Why Ann Coulter Is a Cunt, Part 3507
from The Rude Pundit 11/25/2005:
When the Rude Pundit was a freshman in college, he had a roommate who was an asshole frat guy and the kind of Deadhead who loved the band for the drugs, but was hard-pressed to name a real album by Jerry and the boys beyond Greatest Hits. The Rude Pundit had one request, a simple one, he felt: no dope smoking in the dorm room. It wasn't for any bullshit reasons of morality or fear of the Man; the Rude Pundit, who was not lackin' fer mind-alteration, just didn't want his clothes to smell like pot smoke all day long. The roommate, who regularly dropped acid and snorted coke sittin' on his loft bed or at his desk, though he never attained the state of overdose that would have given the Rude Pundit a private room, could not abide this simple request. Each time it happened, the Rude Pundit would tell him again, a little more angrily, "Dude, c'mon."Then one day the Rude Pundit walked in after a particularly hard Statistics exam to find the stoned roomie laying on the floor and ashes and roaches all over the Rude Pundit's bed. The Rude Pundit snapped, and he dragged the roommate up and started beating the fuck out of him, tossin' him around like a rag doll, slappin' him in his mohawked head. He was a limp, babbling noodle, tryin' to explain why he'd fucked up the Rude Pundit's bed, but the explanations didn't matter as foot was put to ass: the bed was fucked up and the clothes stunk. It was a pathetic fight, not much of one at all, with the roomie barely able to put up his hands to stop the blows, but you know what? It felt soooo fuckin' good, man, like the first cold beer in a bar in Little Five Points after walkin' through the hot streets of Atlanta on an August day. And it was easy. Just like, well, shit, just like critiquing an Ann Coulter "column." So, c'mon over to the barrel and let's start shootin'.For in her latest "column" (if by "column," you mean "the blood blots of self-mutilated flesh from a loathsome, foamingly rabid she-wolf on shredded toilet paper"), Coulter packs in so much bullshit about Iraq that you can see the turds slipping through the cracks. It's useless to take on her "argument" that much good has been done through the war because one can't see where the spin and lies stop and the delusion begins.She even drags out the corpse of the dead connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda and Niger uranium: "As we now know, Saddam Hussein was working with al-Qaida and was trying to acquire long-range missiles from North Korea and enriched uranium from Niger." You may do a double take and think, "Um, forged documents? No real contact?" But you'd be caught then in the web of inference and bugfuck nuttery that is the cuntistry of Ann Coulter. However, shit, since Coulter is the same kind of whoredog for the Bush administration as Bob Woodward and Judith Miller (it's a question of presentation, not degree), here's Donald Rumsfeld to Wolf Blitzer's question about the alleged nexus of swarthy eeevil: "Zarqawi was physically in Baghdad." It's like saying that because you have a toothbrush at your girlfriend's place, you wanna move in. In other words, really, and, c'mon, is that the best you got?But Coulter's bizarre rah-rahing, like the cheerleader of the damned, continues. She shakes her little pom-poms for all the elections and, in general, behaves as if Iraq is just a car bomb or two away from gettin' all that nasty resistance out of its lil' ol' system.Then she gets to the real blood and meat of her "argument," that those who advocate for withdrawal, immediate or otherwise, are traitors: "It is simply a fact that Democrats like Murtha are encouraging the Iraqi insurgents when they say the war is going badly and it's time to bring the troops home." So, like, these'd be the same insurgents that Iraqi leaders just declared a legitmate resistance and that U.S. soldiers are legitimate targets? Fuck, encouragement is havin' something to shoot at and blow up. And how does Coulter know that dissent in America gives comfort to the enemy? Why, 'cause former North Vietnamese soldiers, who, you know, would have no reason to sow conflict in the U.S., said that war protesters during the Vietnam War gave them the warm fuzzies.But once Ann Coulter gets somethin' in her craw, she ain't done with it until she's masticated that fucker with all ten sets of her viperous teeth: "The Democrats are giving aid and comfort to the enemy for no purpose other than giving aid and comfort to the enemy. There is no plausible explanation for the Democrats' behavior other than that they long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated, and driven from the field of battle." And, most bizarre, she holds Democrats in contempt for voting down the un-debated House Republican stunt bill on immediate withdrawal from Iraq: "They fill the airwaves with treason, but when called to vote on withdrawing troops, disavow their own public statements. These people are not only traitors, they are gutless traitors." Well, fuck it. Take it to its logical conclusion. Round us up and waterboard us, bitch, 'cause we're part of this country, too.You can dismiss Coulter's mad brain as a belfry filled with those flying rats, but she is the seething evil id of the right, daring others to cross her line. It's sad, too, really, how hard she works to show she's got the biggest balls in the room. For the only thing that pleases the monsters in Ann Coulter's brain, the ones that press her to go further, be more wicked, press more buttons, is more dead, more blood, more bodies, and it doesn't matter whose they are as long as they provide sweet sustenance.
Posted by steve scariano at 11:45 AM
Saturday, November 26, 2005
So I'm watching VH1 Classic, and on comes a video of the reformed Raspberries doing a live version of "Go All The Way" from their reunion tour. The band sounds absolutely great. Looks though, not so much. Eric Carmen looks like he should be on The Sopranos as a guy who owns a suburban Jersey gallery selling, ahem, "fine art" to Carmella, Rosalie, and the rest of the wives. See for yourself from these photos from the Rapberries website .
Posted by steve scariano at 4:23 PM
"My Generation: We had dreams...we had dreams, man. And we fucking created George Bush!
New Generations: Rise up! Rise up! Take the streets. The world is yours...change it. CHANGE IT!"
---Patti Smith, "My Generation", June 25, 2005, Royal Festival Hall, London
Need a better reason to run out and buy Patti Smith's new Horses/Horses The Legacy Edition than the above rant from her live version of "My Genreation" from it? Then how about the great resmastering job they did to the classic album. And then how about the bonus disc of Patti's live recreation of Horses from last summer's Meltdown Festival in London, featuring Tom Verlaine and Flea augmenting her terrific band. She and band deliver breathtaking performances resulting in what is easily one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. Yes folks, I said one of the greatest live albums ever recorded...
Posted by steve scariano at 11:27 AM