Wednesday, November 30, 2005

LIVE MUSIC: Great Rock At Fred's This Weekend

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...

POLITICS: Get Rich For Free

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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

POLITICS: There's No Crying In Congress

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.

Monday, November 28, 2005

MUSIC: Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Class Of 2006

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...

POLITICS/MUSIC: Not The Boss Of Frist

GOP pettiness. They just never give it a rest.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

MUSIC: Walk On Burt

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...

POLITICS: And I Love Him So...

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.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

MUSIC: Elder Berries

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 .

MUSIC: "Hope I LIVE because of it!"

"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...

Yes, it's another blog...

...ranting and raving about the usual stuff, as well as the latest on my musical endeavors. But first meet the family: There's boy dog Boomer, and then there's me with his sister, Soda Can.