Vote Blue 2020

Vote Blue 2020

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Three Trillion Dollar War (and still counting!)

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize winning economist tells us, via the Australian (US newspapers just can't be bothered?) that the Iraq War has cost us Three Trillion dollars - so far. I suppose it's all just funny money, but it's not all that funny. And as the business dudes always ask, "what's the ROI?"

Well, you've got death, destruction, detention, pain, maiming, hatred, physical and psychological distress, crushed lives, dead children, massive collateral damage...

The people who dreamed up this little adventure have lots of "splaining" to do. "Staying until we finish the job." Madness of the highest order!

UPDATE: And some people take this dude seriously. He's been in the Senate a long really starts to wonder about the Senate!

UPDATE #2: I think this ad from the H. Clinton campaign is supremely silly. I know they are scratching their heads trying to come with an angle to stop the Obamamentum, but this ain't it! Who will answer the call at 3:00 a.m.? Sheesh!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Alien Invasion

I've been working on another little project that will see the light of day tomorrow. It's a play, or performance piece, or an experiment called, "The Flaming Eyeball." It's Black Forest's latest work. I wrote the text, but the realization of the thing is thanks to Davey J. our set designer, and the Lovely Carla, our creative dynamo, and our wonderful actors and co-collaborators Masha (from the great, mind-blowing Elefant Foot), Natasha wind sprite and gymnast, and Heather comedienne and improv goddess.

So it's a work from many minds and hands. Not sure how it all will translate to the stage and then filter into the minds of "the public." Our run-through last night was sort of painful. There's always one time (at least) during rehearsals when I hate a show. Last night was that time. But still, I think it's pretty good, and it's different, and with the great limber, fearless cast we have, we are exploring a wild physicality like never before.

So, it's kind of about my obsession with outer space, and what's a life, and well, there are three galactic space cadets that conjure a flaming eyeball hurtling through space and it's got aliens and Elvis and well, what else is there?

It starts with this little video, (the backing track is one of my favorite Sigur Ros songs) which I posted on YouTube. This version is cool, but it's pretty dark, which I like, but it doesn't really work on a big screen, so I'm gonna have to lighten it up for the run. So this is the internet only version! It's called "Alien Invasion." Like all the wildest shit, it's all true. Check it out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WWSP Live in Chicago

WWSP's fabulous bass player, Sara, parked a video camera in the audience at our Puppet Bike show last Friday. She captured our performance and posted some video over on YouTube. I snagged my two favorites and post them here for your enjoyment. Both clips feature Sara on bass, Carla on vocals (see also furry boots), and me on guitar, (check out the silly hat).

WWSP is fortunate to have a great fan and collaborator Charles Smith who also makes an appearance (steals the show?). Check out Charles' amazing, super-kinetic interpretive dance performance. Charles is an exotic soul who has fallen in love with our band. He comes to most shows and we really love having him perform with us too.

I thought we were kind of ragged, but I think this sounds pretty good. Not the same polished performances as on our digital download, (check out "This Car Available" on iTunes!), but a nice raw energy if I don't say so myself. I think Sara and I are really starting to get a nice alchemy of energy going to back up the constantly inspiring Miss Carla.

Here's "Dead Pecker Bench" (watch Sara do a knee bend and kick her legs in the air at the end - it's cool):

And here's our closer, "Salty Son." I think by this time Charles was getting a little winded, but still, he is amazing! I wish I could do that!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Death Match

I'm still a shareholder in a company where I no longer work. The people that currently run the company totally detest me. I mean, if I wanted to get a dose of pure hatred, disrespect and invalidation, well, I'd just make a visit. I did last Friday morning. It was a shareholder's meeting, and according to a letter I received, I was "cordially invited." Of course, the letter was a lie!

I walked into the little "den of thieves" that I knew so well. It was amazing to me, that over a year had passed since I'd last been through those doors, and it was like time had stood still, the same four twisted ego-maniacs sat around a conference table with a speaker phone and a couple other shareholders were on the line.

You should of seen the stunned look on the faces as I walked in bearing a hot chocolate and a smile. It was all bravado on my part, the chocolate to sooth my nerves, the smile to hide the pure contempt for these folks that raged in my soul. See, I must confess, I too have strong feelings for these creeps, I was treated badly by these guys and I haven't forgotten. Which is not a good thing. I know.

It's a matter, (not worth going into), all wrapped up in words like honor and integrity, and success, and power and failure, and well, I mean you can spend a lifetime wrestling with those shadows! And what did I do? I actually threw a bomb into the space. I submitted a list of questions (not so innocent) for the board of directors to address. It was an act of audacity, of provocation. I mean, I saw a hornet's nest and what did I do, I took a stick and starting whacking it with all my might.

Maybe not so smart. But there it is. After the meeting, I was escorted out. I was called "a loser" (coming from the man who said this to me, it doesn't sting, in fact, I'd call it a compliment!). I felt good. Liberated in a way. I mean there's something about blowing shit up that's exhilarating. Two days later, I have sort of a weird karmic hangover - if you wrestle with slime-balls you get slimed! Instead of just walking away from a bad scene, I kept the game alive. And to what end? Good question.

Ultimately I see this as a dumps/sunny death match. The real conflict is inside me. And of course, both sides are equally matched and there's no final resolution, except maybe when I reach the final resolution, which may not really resolve anything, if you know what I mean...

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Puppet Bike

Hey I have to say a few words about the Puppet Bike Extravaganza. The puppet bike is the brain-child of the extraordinary Jason, a master of many trades. The puppet bike has been showing up around town entertaining the public for 5 years. It's cool, kitschy, especially if you know the artistic souls who bring it all together. So there was a 5 day celebration (wow two days longer than Woodstock!), and we performed on Friday night.

WWSP did a raw and ragged set (the lovely Carla was battling a cold), but with a full house, it turned out to be one of our best outings, our enthusiastic and limber bass player, Sara ,did a deep knee bend during "Dead Pecker Bench." It was exquisite.

Then Black Forest did a little preview of "The Flaming Eyeball." It's a total whack piece. Three galactic space cadets traveling on the outer fringes of the universe. It's kind of like Beckett on acid. Or something like that. The audience was suitably baffled.

Finally, late in the night, when the audience was down to the most wasted hardcore, the Telepaths ripped off a quick set. The Boyz in the Band all wanted to go home, I was chomping at the bit to play. My motto, "any time, any place." We did a loud, combustible set, the disco ball was twirling, when the Jason turned the lights down during "I'm So Tired" I lost my place on the fret board and played all the wrong notes!

It's amazing to watch a night go completely off the rails. I experienced it all stone cold sober. By the wee hours, the drug energy - the booze, the cannabis, the whatever, kind of took over the room. I watched it all spin out of control. It was wacky, dangerous, cool too. So that's it. A good time was had by all!

Here's the Puppet Bike by the light of day:

Friday, February 22, 2008

"Everybody's in show biz, everybody's a star..." - R. Davies

I love this one.

According to the latest New Yorker, Ray Davies former front man of the Kinks, is in NY kicking off a new album and tour. Here's Ray telling a little story to the New Yorker writer Nick Paumgarten: "The Kinks did a gig here in the early seventies and somebody spiked my drink before I went on and I lasted about three songs before I passed out. We got through the show somehow. And afterwards I walked around the city all night, crying, because I'd let everybody down. My manager took me to Elaine's to cheer me up, but I was inconsolable. And I ended up at Howard Johnson's in Times Square. I was sitting there, it was like eight in the morning, and a guy next to me said, 'You've been up all night - who do you think you are?' It was this big black guy sitting next to me, and I said, 'Who are you?' And he said, 'My name is Joe Frazier and I'm the heavyweight champion of the world.'"

Here's Davies singing one of his best, "Waterloo Sunset...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oh Yeah!

We stood out in the stark naked freezing cold last night staring up at the moon with a small crowd of people. It was a full moon and a lunar eclipse which doesn't happen very often. See more about how it all works here: Lunar Eclipse for Dummies!

It was all so surreal. Looking up into the vast black night sky, dotted with stars and planets, makes you feel sort of monkey-like. Objects spinning in space, vast distances, large bodies, and there we are shivering, stamping our feet, looking up into that vast immensity. It's all so incomprehensible, even though everyone looks up and has no problem explaining it all for you.

"The earth's shadow is passing over the moon."

OK. Yeah, that explains it. Then there's all those other questions swirling around in your little noggin. Left unsaid.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Career Attention Deficit Disorder

I've had many jobs in my life. My career trajectory has been more like a strange zig-zag-like pattern. It turns out my favorite jobs were two of the worst paying, but in some way they were totally liberating: bike messenger (try doing that for a year in Chicago - hot and humid summers, frigid winters), and guitar tuner (this was a dream job for an aspiring musician - tune guitars all day long, listen to Steve Dahl's "Breakfast Club" on the radio). I've also been a movie extra, you can see glimpses of me in Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers," (I'm a prison guard, a dead prison guard and a dead prisoner too - nice big shotgun wound in my chest - don't worry, all that blood is actually karo syrup!). I've also been an election judge, worked in factories, warehouses, and I've been an account rep for a bunch of technology firms - think upscale Willie Loman - shoeshine, smile, cell phone, laptop - and a lot of talk!

Anyway, I'm up early, doing the account rep, accomplished bizman thing today, big meeting out in the suburbs. I rented a car, spiffed up my suit, it's time to play aspiring man about town. Of course, all the stuff I like to do most I haven't figured out how to turn into a job: (maybe that's a good thing?) theater mogul, actor, writer, director, musician. Could it be I just have career attention deficit disorder (ADD)?

So, how about these guys? Some might think they are way too old to be still jumping around on stage, and how about the movie director behind the camera? A case could be made that both of these creative titans (band and director) did all their best work decades ago, but you know what, the work they did stands the test of time, (at least my time! Think "Sticky Fingers," "Raging Bull," "Exile on Main Street," "Taxi-Driver," "Let it Bleed," "Good Fellas," "Beggars Banquet," "Mean Streets" "Aftermath" "Casino"), and I'm glad they are all still doing what they do. The Stones look like they've been to hell and back a couple of times (that's what being on the road for 4 decades or more can do to you), but there ain't no sin against growing old - relax it's natural! At least these guys are willing to just let it all hang out. And you have to give them credit for pure consistency. These guys have all had the same job for decades. More power to them! I'm looking forward to the flick (can't afford going to an actual concert!). Rock on boys!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Just Enough

I'm a little toasty today. Stuck doing a paid writing gig about steam meters, which I've been procrastinating on doing. It's not exactly riveting reading, or writing, but there's nothing like the do re mi. So, no great insights today, just plodding along, glad to be alive. Sometimes that's just enough.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"An unregulated global marketplace is now firmly ensconced in the role of the sole superpower." - John Robb

John Robb over at Global Guerillas tosses off verbal bombs that open new holes in the firmament as easily as someone else tosses a salad. The real superpower today, is not Fortress America (we've hocked our future building stuff that blows shit up and shipped off our industrial might over to China), it's the UNREGULATED GLOBAL MARKETPLACE. Makes everything so much more understandable.

The idea that America would thrive in this global marketplace was a fairy tale. Especially since we've been spending so much time and effort building the mightiest military state in the known universe. We can't kill them all, can't blow up enough shit to make the rest of the world like us. They may fear our rain of bombs, but without allies, we are ultimately a big bully that no one else really respects.

It's kind of like we've been playing two games simultaneously, Risk and Monopoly. We concentrated on Risk and borrowed against our Monopoly funny money to build up our armies on the Risk board. So we have become this enormous military beast, but we find ourselves in hock up to our eyeballs. And the Monopoly game has gotten bigger, more complex and interconnected. And no one can keep track of the rules anymore. Soon we might not be able to feed ourselves, but at least we have Britney!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sunday morning. The alarm goes off. It's raining outside, it's still dark. We both lay in bed. Time passes. We wrap our arms around each other. Still, silent. Finally...

sunnyjimmy: well i guess it's time to get up and make the coffee.
lovely carla: why get up?
sunnyjimmy: we gotta get up!
lovely carla: oh god.
sunnyjimmy: we gotta get up so we can worry.
lovely carla: i worry when i sleep too.
sunnyjimmy: well, we gotta get up to do some vertical worrying.
lovely carla: hmmm.
sunnyjimmy: you want spice island, or mexican zacateca?
lovely carla: just make it with love.
sunnyjimmy: you got it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dead in the Water

We live in a fear factory. There's a political machine and a corporate industry that seems dedicated to keeping us in a state of fear. I propose it's beneficial to the military industrial complex, and it's probably explains why we are such mad consumers. Maybe all of our stuff will save us?

These are some of the things we are supposed to fear: gays, socialized medicine, liberals, taxes, immigrants (legal or illegal), brown people, black people, really any people with too much pigment in their skin, islamic militants, crazed jihadis, do-gooders, you get the drift.

On the other hand, there are some really kind of scary things going on. For instance global warming, peak oil, the Military State, unfettered government surveillance, torture, indefinite detention.

As Americans we are now basically known for shopping, and blowing shit up. Not exactly a positive prescription for world dominance.

But this is the kind of shit that really scares me, because it seems so plausible. Our way of life, our mad quest to harvest every last resource has probably brought us to a tipping point. How about dead zones in the ocean? Areas of no oxygen, areas where everything dies? Probably a result of global warming. Now we're just discovering this stuff. We don't really understand the process, and it's probably real complicated and there are many culprits, and maybe it's all been set in motion and there ain't no going back?

It's gonna take a long time before we really even think about doing anything about it. I mean first we have to run through all those Al Gore jokes, and then, what will we do, and when? And is it plausible that by that time vast areas of our oceans will be dead? What happens when the watery planet becomes a planet of dead water?

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Kick in the Balls...That's Entertainment

I always loved this Jam song. This acoustic version with Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher is sublime. You can't go wrong with two Brits weilding guitars. So, yes, the world is falling down around our ears. Everyone I know seems to think that we've reached the end of something. We're watching the world we know slowly melt before our eyes. Maybe we're just too sensitive? Maybe it's our love of drama? Maybe the universe is here to simply entertain us? What was that phrase from Howard the Duck: alive in a world we never made. Or alternatively, are we making it up moment by moment?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Audacity of Atrocity!

John McCain may be a war hero, he was a prisoner of war who was tortured by the Viet Cong, (you'd think he'd be solidly against torturing anyone), but when he starts pandering to the pro-torture crowd in the neanderthal Republican base, his shiny medals start to acquire a little tarnish. It's been an amazing little dance to see Mr. Straight Talk Express try to convince the base that yes, he certainly can kiss George Bush's totalitarian ass, and at the same time try to prove to the Independents (who are they?) that he's not just another well-heeled ass-kisser, who basically has no principles, at least not any that would lose him votes with the base. One suspects that the Republican party's rhetoric in the months leading to November will not reflect well on a this fractured land. Our audacity of hope is gonna have to withstand an avalanche of atrocity!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Zoot Allures on TV!

I got sidetracked yesterday, chasing dreams of Eldorado. I know there's a golden city out there somewhere with a street with my name on it. Or maybe it's a broken boulevard, or could it be the jimmydumps cul de sac?

Anyway, as part of my series on guitar players, I found this old video of Frank Zappa on the Mike Douglas show. This is like finding something from another world, long lost, and far away. Did it really ever exist?

Not exactly like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls, but when Zappa plugs in and blisters the TV stage with some choice licks, it almost makes you want to get down on your knees and send hallelujahs up to the great freakster in the sky!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Like Hope, But Different

Hey, there's gonna be an election in November. And one of the contenders will probably be this crazy old coot. Seriously. Anyway, to get prepared you must watch this video!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Do I have to have an opinion about everything?

Unfortunately, dear reader, the answer is "Yes!" Even opinions about things I know little or nothing. Which covers a lot of territory. For instance, Heath Ledger. What really can I add of substance or gravity? Well, I'm still flabbergasted (it's not an uncommon state) that a young 28 year old man, sensitive and talented, (I never saw "Brokeback Mountain," but I did see "Cassanova" and I thought he was very good), dies in bed, with 6 different prescription drugs in his system. Proof positive that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Seems you mix these drugs together and you get a very unfortunate result.

The brand names are so friendly-sounding: Oxycontin, Ambien, Valium, Vicodin, Xanax, Restoril, plus an over the counter "sleeping pill." Yes, well there is sleep and then there's the "Big Sleep." The actual ingredients sound a little more ominous: oxycodene, hydrocodene, diazepam, alpraszolam, temazepam, doxylamine. Now all of these were prescribed by a doctor or doctors, and well, is there a witch doctor in there somewhere? Maybe this talented, sensitive dude was a little "over-prescribed?"

I do believe our pharmaceutical industry is a multi-billion dollar snake-oil biz. And the doctors who prescribe this shit are basically "drug-pushers," pushing shit that has short and long term consequences that no one really knows. Most of this crap is most assuredly worthless. If someone has anxiety or can't sleep, maybe putting a drug into them isn't the best medicine?

I still believe the best drugs are illegal ones. Some are less bad (I'll take pot and mushrooms over cigarettes or alcohol any day!), and the bad ones are known to be bad, and people take them knowing they are bad. At least someone smoking crack or shooting heroin isn't deluding themselves into thinking that taking the drug is good for them and is gonna cure them!

So yes, we are a drug culture and even pop culture itself sometimes seems like a drug. Some of our best music is also a history of drug intake (rock & roll and amphetamines, booze and blues, downers and heavy metal, ecstasy and rave, crack and hip hop, coke and disco, LSD and psychedelic rock, heroin and well the all star heroin roster is endless think: Charlie Parker, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Keith Richards, Jim Morrison, Miles Davis, etc.)

Drugs are us. It's a human thing, but this medicalization of drug use is a total scam! I think I'll brew up another pot of coffee. I mean there's nothing more forlorn than a caffeine freak with an empty cup! Another cup and I'm sure I can come up with another topic I can bloviate about.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Jury Pool

It's kind of like one of those George Romero movies, the zombies line up quietly, go to their seats, sit and wait. Snooze, read, watch TV. It's just a dead zone, even if there's some live wires in the crowd, they all turn down the after-burners. It's one of those situations where you become part of a faceless crowd. No joy, no beauty, no love. That's the beauty of the thing. A docile crowd. Just point us to our seats, tell us when we can go to lunch, when we need to be back, listen for our number, wait until we get our check, give us permission to go home. I think our sheep-like instincts come out. There's comfort in the herd.

This is your constitutional right! A jury of your peers! What a sweet lot!

My number was never called, so I sat and read a book. I read "Crosstown Traffic" a really great little book about Jimi Hendrix and the world he came from, and a history lesson about the blues, gospel, r&b, soul, jazz and rock & roll. The pages are filled with people who were total live wires, with the after-burners turned all the way up, it's a story of joy, beauty, love and sweat, pain, hardship, betrayals, early death, lost opportunities. Did you know that Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix were talking about working together?! Now in some counter-factual universe those two great musical beings are jamming and making some incredible challenging sounds. You sit quietly, you can almost hear the great, beautiful music they created together.

So, I almost finished the book in one sitting. I collected my check for $17.20. I guess it's not bad pay for playing a zombie for a day!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Not all games are fun!

My number finally came up. There are some things from which you just cannot wriggle free: death, taxes, jury duty. I received my second summons for jury duty, and I cannot avoid my fate. The first summons came and went, I just made a mental note of it and then promptly forgot. If I'm asked why I missed the first round, do I tell the truth?

Question: "Sir, why did you not come when you were first summoned?"
Answer: "Judge, I just did not give a god-damned!"

No, honesty is probably not advisable. The second summons, in big, black, bold type tells me if I blow this one off I'm liable to be punished! The last remaining, barely flickering embers of my Catholic upbringing tells me that I deserve to be punished. One wonders if living through a Chicago winter is punishment enough. Punishment or not, jury duty is my civic duty!

So, I'm up at the crack of dawn, (who am I kidding, dawn ain't on the schedule for hours), although, since the Lovely Carla has a photo shoot today, we're both up, me making the coffee, she getting ready to be high-powered Fashion Maven.

So, I will go to the bowels of the R.J. Daley Center, and queue up (one thinks of Kafka!) with all the other unlucky ones, but for me it will be with a heavy heart. I mean, I do not buy into the whole judgement thing. I cannot be an impartial judge of my fellow man. I mean, "dumps" tells me that everyone is GUILTY! And "sunny" tells me everyone is INNOCENT. That leaves me supremely confused, strongly ambivalent, and basically recalcitrant.

War criminals occupy the highest office in the land, the Titans of Capital are crooks and flim-flam men, the hypocritical, totally misguided war on drugs is imprisoning a generation of poor suckers trying to hustle a buck, Scooter Libby scooted, innocent men are sitting on death row (those on death row are really there because they had the absolute shittiest lawyers in the land!), justice is a game, and really now, we know it's a game that's rigged and corrupt and as Woody Guthrie says "some rob you with a six-gun and some with a fountain pen."

Or as Dylan asks us in "Hurricane:" How can the life of such a man/Be in the palm of some fool's hand?/To see him obviously framed/Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land/Where justice is a game.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Joke

I suppose I don't have to remind the transplanted Arizonians I know, or the transplanted LA Angels out there somewhere in the blogosphere that living in Chicago in the winter is sort of like living in a freezer, or meat locker. The sun is just a dim bulb that rarely makes a visit. We've had some good snowstorms lately, ice storms, freezing rain. OK, ok, I know the weather is boring. I hate weather stories myself. I usually immediately switch the channel when some dude with a map of isobars pops up, but sometimes the weather wants to be heard!

Yesterday was just ridiculous. We trudged through wind, ice, snow, slush. We were dressed like Eskimos. We were dressed ridiculously. Big, funny-looking hats, oversize mittens, big clunky boots. I mean, we looked stupid. Like big cartoon versions of characters with no fashion sense. Makes you want to laugh. I think living here ups the levity factor. Except, of course, if you get so damn depressed you just up and off yourself. But, even that seems just so stupid and ridiculous. No way we can take anything that seriously. It's all just so dark, and cold, and messy. Makes you want to laugh until the tears start dribbling down your cheeks! But of course, they'd instead just freeze in place!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


"Be the change that you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Ghandi

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I'm Pulling the Lever (do they still have levers?) for Barack Obama!

It's Super Tuesday, primaries all over the country. We get to vote today in Illinois. I'm voting for Barack Obama. I'm not voting against Hillary Clinton. I think each of the Democratic candidates are excellent candidates and I will of course vote for either of them in November. My mom voted absentee for Hillary. I'm not sure, but I think the Lovely Carla is voting for her too. According to Paul Krugman Hillary's Health Care proposal is better than Obama's.

The key for me is THE IRAQ WAR. This is from Wikipedia:

Obama was an early critic of Bush administration policies on Iraq. On October 2, 2002, the day Bush and Congress agreed on a joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War, Obama addressed the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq War rally in Federal Plaza, saying: "I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars."

On March 17, 2003, the day Bush issued his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Obama addressed the largest Chicago anti-Iraq War rally to date in Daley Plaza and told the crowd "It's not too late" to stop the war, though many demonstrators conceded that war appeared inevitable. Obama sought to make his early public opposition to the Iraq War before it started a major issue, to distinguish himself from his Democratic primary rivals in his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign who supported the resolution authorizing the Iraq War, and in his 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign to distinguish himself from four Democratic primary rivals who voted for the resolution authorizing the Iraq War (Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Joe Biden, Sen. Chris Dodd, and former Sen. John Edwards).

By the way, in 2002, these Senators voted AGAINST AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAQ: 23 Senators voted NO: Alaska (D-HI), Bingaman (D-NM), Boxer (D-CA), Byrd (D-WV), Chafee (R-RI), Conrad (D-ND), Corzine (D-NJ), Dayton (D-MN), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Graham (D-FL), Inouye (D-HI), Jeffords (I-VT), Kennedy (D-MA), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Sarbanes (D-MD), Stabenow (D-MI), Wellstone (D-MN), Wyden (D-OR).

I know we are not voting for a Psychic, we are voting for a President, but I think it's important to reward Barack Obama for being right on Iraq. The day Barack Obama is sworn in as President will be a complete unambiguous rebuke to the war and it's supporters. Those Senators in 2002 that gave Bush the power to use force against Iraq bear some of the responsibility for the horrors that were unleashed and are still unwinding even today.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Always Take the Points!

Yesterday was the day of the UNDERDOG! I'm a betting man, but I confine my betting to the ponies. Somehow I know in my dark heart, that if I started betting sports, I'd end up "in a van, down by the river," probably doing crack, trying my best to come up with a scheme to out-smart the point spread conjured in the bowels of the Vegas brain trust.

So I can't claim any great winnings today, but yes, I was rooting for the underdog, and I must say, I am so pleased that the NY Giants brought down the mighty, undefeated New England Patriots (my brother reminded me that Tom Brady, the New England QB is a Bush fan - so fuck him!). It was truly an upset of epic proportions. And to me anytime a lowly, under-regarded opponent, does the improbable, it warms my heart. It affirms that sometimes, against all odds, the little guy can pull it off. As Jimmy Cliff once said, "the harder they come, the harder they and all."

I also thought it was so cool to see Tom Petty and Mike Campbell up onstage, in front of billions and billions of eyes, doing their classic rock and roll thing. They are two grizzled old dudes, (I loved the beards!), they looked fine in their shiny suits, loved their tight little set of r&r gems. The Heartbreakers are kind of a rock and roll underdog outfit, they've had their share of hits, but hey, they look like improbable rock and roll heroes. Put them in some raggedy t-shirts and hoodies and they'd fit in with the crowd at Maywood on a cold Friday night, betting the buggies, scouring the floor, looking for discarded winning tickets or cigarette butts.

As Spoon (this gives me a good excuse to post this great video) tells it, "you've got no fear of the underdog, that's why you will not survive." Sweet!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Schlepping to Satisfaction Quotient

So, as Dave Thomas of Pere Ubu once remarked, "rock and roll is about moving big black boxes from one part of town to another." There's a lot of schlepping playing music. You've got amps, P.A. systems, cords, mics, and if you go with the full band there's all those assorted drums and cymbals, and well, I guess it's one way to make sure your biceps don't atrophy.

I've come up with a new measure for any possible gig. It's the "schlepping to satisfaction quotient." It came out of hard experience over the last two years. Any show requires schlepping, it's inevitable like acid rain. The same is true in theater but if you're putting on a theatrical production most of the schlepping is done beforehand. Once your production opens the heavy lifting is basically over, and well, you have your "run" and then you just have the show itself to grapple with.

One thing I noticed is that the music gigs where the schlepping factor was low, the satisfaction factor has usually been high. This weekend was the perfect illustration. We played the Flatiron on Friday and it was basically my beat up old guitar, Carla's tambourine and magic egg, one vocal mic, a cord and well, since my brother provided that amps, we plugged in, and the rest was our shining personalities and boundless (not really) energy. We took public transportation, (the train, the bus - hey, there's Pat McD with his little Epiphone amp, sitting in the back of the bus pretending to be one of George Romero's Zombies!) and all went without a hitch, without straining a muscle.

Same thing on Saturday. There was an open mic at our local coffeehouse and we walked a block, plugged in and burned the house down with a little three song mini-set. Low schlepp/Maximum Satisfaction! Plus I got a great hot chocolate in the bargain. Now that's what I call life on the road!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

KSM the Mayor of the Flatiron!

My brother KSM is the unofficial Mayor of the third floor (my brother has an artist studio there) of the Flatiron building in Wicker Park. The Flatiron is where an odd assortment of artists live, work and hang out, carrying on a hard-edged bohemian existence in this little island in the heart of a now very "gentrified" neighborhood. Maybe that John Cusak movie had something to do with the crazy, explosive growth and the strange wanna be coolness factor?

Anyway, the last two years there's been a whole nother thing going on, it kind of sprouted out of the "rock opera" I was working on for my theater company. The rock opera spawned a bunch of songs and the Lovely Carla, Pat MCD of the Telepaths and I would go to the Flatiron at my brother's invitation and play in the third floor hallway, just kind of working out our sound. We would do this every once in awhile on the first Friday of the month. Over time we started to build a little fan base, mainly artists and other hangers on, looking for illicit substances, the free booze and pizza that floated around. It's a very cool scene and we've had some of our best gigs in the hallway, the building is so resonant it's almost like you you're not playing an instrument, you're playing the building.

Well, at one of the sessions I encouraged my brother to join in on harmonica. He hadn't played for many years, but the first time playing together really sparked something inside him, and now he's playing and singing, and well, he ended up starting his own band with some players that were drawn to the scene. They're called the Banana Street Band, and they have a really cool sound, a melding of my brother's blues sensibility (his favorite musician is Leadbelly) along with Yako's exquisite Polish Gypsy guitar playing, topped off by guy named Jeff who provides a steady, mecurial beat on a pair of big bongo type drums. Anyway it a really unique sound and they are wild and combustible and you can hear them on Thursday nights jamming and rehearsing.

My brother has a little digital recorder and over the last year he recorded a number of performers who stumbled through the hallways and laid down some tracks. Last night was the CD release party, (the cover image is one of my brother's paintings) and it was a real joyous night. WWSP played first with Pat MCD as our special guest, and we were in fine form. Then I just sat back and watched the carnival. It was marvelous! The disc is great too. Only a limited run. I'm sure it will be a collector's item. And my brother, well, he's the Mayor and last night everyone in his little domain was happy with the world and the world can sometimes be a place where you play and sing and watch others play and sing and there ain't no bullshit, no competition, just a mosaic or rainbow of vibration and it's a beautiful thing.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Lonely Hoe to Row!

The Lovely Carla laid into me last night, "you are not a team player." I suppose she's right. I don't really want to be a member of any team that would have me as a member. And the teams that wouldn't have me as a member, well, "fuck em!"

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