Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Why We’re Not on Facebook

Repost via Lefsetz: “Last night my and my wife _______’s Facebook accounts were hacked into. Low lifes have been calling everyone who’s listed there, posing as us, saying we were robbed in London and need money to get home. We’ve been getting calls from all over the world. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so scary. We can’t get Facebook to terminate the account and as I write this the low lifes are still calling people we know. There should be a fail safe code that allows the owner to terminate the site. Wasted a whole day on this caca! These sites are like the wild west!  Anyone else had this happen you know of?”

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September 16, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Rant | , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Soil & “Pimp” Sessions – Planet Pimp

Punk jazz in the spirit if not the style of the first Lounge Lizards album, a rabbit decked out in earrings and a lot of bling staring impassively from the cover of the new cd by Soil & “Pimp” Sessions. Basically, what this full-throttle collection by the Japanese inventors of what they call “death jazz” most resembles is a high-quality 80s fusion action film soundtrack. Jazz purists will find this hamhanded and monochromatic, but the band’s looking to reach a vastly wider audience. This is subversive stuff.

 

If nothing else, the group gets props for most bizarre band name of the year. Which one’s Soil, and which one’s “Pimp?” Or is soil a verb? And maybe pimp too? And why the parentheses? So as to discourage the yazuka from believing that real prostitution is involved and wanting a piece of the action? Whatever the case, it’s a lot of fun. Right from the cd’s first moments, it’s all drama with a big thunderstorm, Bach’s Toccata in D blasting through a cheap electronic organ patch…and then they’re off to a somewhat rough start with what sounds like a shredding Steve Vai guitar solo (could be a synth player – hard to tell – this band has a good keyboardist). Then things get interesting. It’s a very vivid, cinematic ride, and you can dance to it. A couple of piano-driven latin jazz numbers, what sounds like a big adventure movie theme, a couple of Keystone Kops chase sequences and a brief, barely 90-second Mingus homage whose energy threatens to rip off the roof. One of the latin numbers here is titled Sea of Tranquility, and it’s anything but. But there is a smooth, loungey trip-hop number that you can download for free. The whole cd is also available on itunes.

 

The group actually evolved out of the Japanese disco scene. When a group of promoters imaginatively began interspersing jazz amongst the dull, computerized thuds and blips, they discovered to their delight that audiences loved it. Beginning as the promoters’ house band, S&PS have become big stars in Japan. They’re not in it to wow the critics, they’re just here to bring the party and they do that massively well. For years, the major labels tried to sell computerized music to an American audience because it’s so ridiculously cheap to create, and met with utter failure. But an entire generation of Europeans and Latin Americans grew up, as Black Box Recorder acidly noted, to the sound of the synthesizer. They learned to dance to the beat of electronic drums. S&PS seem to want to change all that. A lot of people forget that not for years but for decades, jazz was the default style of dance and pop music throughout the western world and elsewhere as well. It might be wishful to think that could happen again, but if S&PS get their way, a lot of “celebrity djs” will find themselves unemployed.

March 10, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, Rant, review | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If You See Something, Use Your Brain Before You Say Something

They’re all over the subway: those annoying posters from the MTA, encouraging citizens to get in the frame of mind to spy on each other and take us deeper into the Orwellian nightmare. “If you see something, say something…last year, 3456 people saw something and said something,” it taunts, as if we should all be narcing on our fellow passengers. But now that Bush is out of office, isn’t it about time we turned the page?

Case in point: rush hour, uptown train at Chambers Street, downtown.  A bunch of people get off, I get a seat. A couple of middleschool kids – brothers, from the looks of them – board the train behind me. One sits down across from me, the other stands since there’s what looks like an empty shoebox in a blue plastic bag on the seat next to his brother. Maybe he just doesn’t want to sit – he looks restless, like he’s been cooped up in school all day. I look up at the digital screen in the middle of the ceiling of the car to see what time it is. But the time doesn’t come up. And the train doesn’t move. It just sits in the station.

Waiting on the platform, I’d reflexively looked down the tracks to see if the signal was green, an indication that there hadn’t been a train in awhile. The size of the crowd on the platform had reconfirmed that. And the conductor wasn’t imploring or hollering over the PA to get whoever was holding up the train to get the hell out of the doorway. 

I looked around in frustration. There was an older woman to my right, past the doors. She pointed to the box in the bag. “That’s a suspicious package. Somebody called the conductor, he’s gonna come check it out.”

Calling in a bomb threat used to be against the law, but since the early days of the Bush regime it became mandatory behavior. Still, I’d never seen anyone actually be so stupid as to actually do it. I stood up, reached over and gingerly picked up the bag (you never know what kind of disgusting things people will leave behind in a box). It felt light. Obviously the box, one of the kind that has folding flaps to close it, didn’t have anything in it. I pried it open. Nothing.

I put it back on the seat.  The kid sitting there pushed it off and kicked it underneath so his brother could sit down. Then the conductor showed up, bemused expression on his face. Something told me he found this as absurd as I did. He looked around, puzzled. “It’s empty,” I said.

“Well,” he said noncomittally, “You gotta check these things out, I guess, a passenger called it in.”

“Who? What passenger?” I demanded. I knew it was the old lady.

“It was me,” she announced. Proudly.

I felt around for the right words. Obviously, I wasn’t dealing with the sharpest tool in the shed. How could I make my point in a way that would resonate so she wouldn’t do it again? An exercise in futility, I reckoned. Anger got the better of me. “You know, that was really stupid. All these hundreds of people on the train, they want to get home, they have places they have to be and so do I and you just held up the train because of an empty box!”

She muttered something about patience.

I’d been right: there was no use in talking to her. But now I had an audience. I had to redeem myself. “That’s George Bush thinking,” I said. “He wanted to make everybody so afraid of terrorists on the subway so he could fight his stupid war. There are no terrorists on the subway. Now that Barack Obama is President, do you hear anything about terrorists on the subway? No. That’s because he’s smart. You can’t let George Bush ideas make you afraid of everything.” 

It was all I could do to resist the urge to point out that if she’d really been afraid that the empty box had been a bomb, why hadn’t she left her seat, even left the station? Then it hit me a couple of stops later.

Maybe the box was hers.

Some people will do anything for attention.

February 13, 2009 Posted by | Culture, New York City, Rant | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How the Other Half Lives, Pt. 6

Making fun of trendoids again. Yeah, they’re easy targets, but have you ever wondered what all those bands that get reviewed at pitchfork actually sound like? Not that you’re missing anything: we took pitchfork’s top 50 albums of 2008 list and discovered that there were actually a handful of good bands on it (token major-label hiphop acts included). Otherwise, we stick a fork in what the trendoids there would be terrified to discover isn’t actually all that popular:

 

1 Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant EP/Fleet Foxes

Interesting vocal arrangements fail to energize tuneless wannabe anthemic rock with painfully constipated vocals

2 Portishead – Third

Their frontman disowned their one good album, the Live at Roseland cd; this is a return to soporific early 90s synth/drum machine form

3 No Age – Nouns

Guitar/drums duo from LA. Lo-fi like a middle school band: they can barely play their instruments. Strident, declamatory vocals; nonsequiturs for lyrics. In other words, no different from any other trendoid band out there.

4 Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

80s style synth disco, if you liked the Pet Shop Boys 20 years ago you’ll probably love this garbage

5 Deerhunter – Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.

Good band. Weird, disjointed, noisy and often menacing with the guitars, like early Wire. Just when you’re wondering if any kind of tune is ever going to kick in, there it is.

6 TV On The Radio – Dear Science

Little would you know how good a guitarist their drummer is. Arch, affected, tuneless, tenth-rate Radiohead, more minimalist, with more of a stoner feel.

7 Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

What was it that the NY Times reviewer said about them? “The comfortable stench of inherited wealth was everywhere?” Well said. Third-rate white Afrobeat with constipated vocals and stupid lyrics. Somewhere King Sunny Ade is scowling.

 8 M83 – Saturdays=Youth

Awful retro 80s computerwimp pop, sometimes venturing into New Order wannabe territory. By comparison to most of this, Kajagoogoo were ballsy.

9 Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair

Back in the 80s some of us used to call this Rainbow Shops music, after the downscale, youth-oriented discount NYC womenswear chain where they would always blast Kiss FM over the PA. If you’ve never discovered the joys and pleasures of Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam (not), you’d actually prefer them to this cold, contrived commercial crap.

10 DJ/rupture – Uproot

DJ Rupture (let’s 86 the effete forward slash and lowercase, shall we?)  isn’t a musician. This is apparently a mix of loops and computerized percussion.

11 Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III

Time for a token black. Looks like the head trendoids sent the intern down to the mall to see which hip-hop is popular these days. The guy’s got some talent, but wasn’t this the most downloaded cd of the year or something? They couldn’t spend a few minutes to find something a little less formulaic?

12 Lindstrom – Where You Go I Go Too

This is just a remix of synth loops over a drum machine. Drugs – not the kind you should ever think of doing –  may have something to do with this.

13 Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)

Another token black: real daring, guys! Despite the title and the packaging, there’s nothing remotely political, intelligent or interesting about this generically poppy “R&B” garbage.

14 Air France – No Way Down

“Love. Burger. At your dreams.” That’s the lyrics to one of these Swedish computerwimps’ tuneless songs, repeating over and over and over. Sissy music.

15 Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles

Arch, affected, effete vocals over computerized disco percussion and lots of posing.

16 Vivian Girls – Vivian Girls

Good, imaginative, fun stuff: a little 60s garage, a little dreampop, a bit of surf and some real sweet harmonies over a skittish beat.

17 Fucked Up – The Chemistry of Common Life

“Experimental hardcore,” i.e. Good Charlotte for trendoids

18 The Mae Shi – HLLLYH

Any band who rip off Baba O’Reilly and then add a drum machine over it, like these El Lay disco sissies, should be castrated. Woops, looks like somebody’s already done that.

19 The Walkmen – You & Me

Not very exciting but not painful either, until the vocals kick in: the yuppie puppy who fronts what’s left of the Walkmen is one of the most annoying performers you could ever see

20 Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing

Not music. It’s a computer. This is your brain on…what? Too much oxycontin? Ecstasy? Prozac?

 21 Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak

My, funny how much indie pop and disco there is on the pitchfork list, but not a single indie hip-hop artist? Maybe because pitchfork doesn’t know such a thing exists?

22 Santogold – Santogold

Corporate “R&B” posing as dancehall reggae, ranging from forgettable to downright awful

23 Hot Chip – Made in the Dark

More Rainbow Shops music: tedious, soporific computerized, 80s style corporate disco

24 Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dymphna

Even more Rainbow Shops music.

25 Titus Andronicus – The Airing of Grievances

Strokes wannabes: make-believe anger channeled over poppy, cloying guitar melodies, this time with a little dreampop feel.

26 Atlas Sound – Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel

Wherein Bradford Cox of Deerhunter does a lame Eels imitation. A waste – these outtakes have none of the offhand menace of his regular band.

27 Max Tundra – Parallax Error Beheads You

Absolutely hilarious: tedious, soporific computerized, 80s style corporate disco as played in odd time signatures by Yes.

28 Flying Lotus – Los Angeles

This isn’t music: it’s a computer. Strictly for people who get so stoned that they can’t remember whether the stereo is on or not

29 The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

Good rhythm section: the drummer has a serious Keith Moon thing going on. Kinda pathetic that the fat old bald guy who talks over the band – he doesn’t sing, maybe a wise choice – writes like he’s 13, girl-crazy but scared to death of anything in a skirt.

30 Los Campesinos! – Hold on Now, Youngster…

G-rated, smiley-faced, extremely grating UK band in love with all things American and stupid: trendoid rock, twee and Disney pop.

31 Fennesz – Black Sea

A “laptop conceptualist.” Good grief. As boring and self-indulgent as you would imagine.  How much you wanna bet the pitchfork boys googled “laptop conceptualist” and picked this since it was the first thing that came up?

32 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

Here’s the token old guy. Good album, in fact in many ways a great album – we only left it off the Lucid Culture top 50 cds list so we could make room for someone equally deserving and more obscure

33 Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight

Melodramatic Scottish band: echoes of U2, the Frames. All this fuss over nothing at all.

34 Arthur Russell – Love Is Overtaking Me

Dead gay guy who played the cello and made unpopular disco albums, recently resurrected via indie biopic. That’s all you really need to know.

35 Girl Talk – Feed the Animals

This is a guy, not a band, and he’s not a musician. He makes mashup cds on his computer, just like you and me. Nothing wrong with that. But does it make us anything special? Apparently so. Memo to self: burn cd, mail to pitchfork, pseudonymously.

36 Wale – The Mixtape About Nothing

Hip-hop concept album about Sienfeld. No joke. Supposedly it samples Michael Richards’ notorious racist tirade from a few years ago (none of us are fans, some being a little young for Seinfeld). Not to rain on this guy’s parade, but the real diehard Seinfeld fans are your parents’ age, right? Isn’t hip-hop kind of after their time?

37 Grouper – Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill

Lazy inept guitar noodling. Ostensibly this is Art.

38 The Bug – London Zoo

Dub with a predictable zeros techie feel. It’s not bad if you’re new to this but there’s more imaginative stuff out there. For those who think King Tubby is too intense.

39 Times New Viking – Rip It Off

More token oldsters. This band includes the guy from the Clean plus that woman from the Fall. Noisy dreampop. Not awful.

40 The Very Best – Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit are the Very Best

Supposedly this is “jungle.” Computer blips and bleeps.

41 David Byrne and Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

More token old people. The guy from the Talking Heads and the guy who was once in Roxy Music, then produced a bunch of people and made a bunch of snoozy ambient albums. This just sounds like bad Talking Heads pop, cloying and annoying.

42 Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Lie Down in the Light

One of the original trendoids, a trust fund kid pretending to be a hick from the sticks.

43 Shearwater – Rook

Pleasantly pretty, glimmering Radiohead outtakes released under another bandname. Oh, this is originals?  Well, hardly original, right down to the faux Thom Yorke vocals, but if you’re going to rip somebody off you could do a whole lot worse than Radiohead.

44 Marnie Stern – This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That

A female guitar wanker! Wretched excess reaches a new level. Grotesquely self-indulgent, million-notes-a-minute, Steve Vai style shredding.

45 Lykke Li – Youth Novels

“For you I keep my legs apart,” she coos, this Swedish disco singer who likens herself to “Jane Birkin with no top on.” Somewhere Serge Gainsbourg is grimacing.

46 Beach House – Devotion

The American Stereolab.  Not bad, if it’s pretty sleepy.

47 The Tallest Man on Earth – Shallow Grave

Swedish fingerstyle acoustic guitarist. He’d make a great lead player in somebody else’s oldtimey band. But keep him away from the mic unless he’s singing in his native tongue. 

48 High Places – High Places

Sounds like they REALLY want to be the Cocteau Twins, minus the talent and the vocals

49 Crystal Stilts – Alight Of Night

Interpol wannabes, a year or three late and a dollar short.

50 Ponytail – Ice Cream Spiritual

Loud, chaotic Sonic Youth wannabe rock with gleeful whoops and hollers in Japanese and a drummer who can’t keep time

December 28, 2008 Posted by | Music, Rant | Leave a comment

An Open Letter to President Obama

First of all, congratulations. You had the truly extraordinary courage to run in the first place, even while all the blowdried blowhards on the small screen were predicting your demise via sniper’s bullet. Even your main competitor for the nomination couldn’t help but wish publicly that you’d be assassinated. What’s become clear throughout this race is that you’re one smart guy, and the way the country has gone in the last several years – going back long before Cheney took power in the 2000 coup d’etat – we’re going to need it. In one small stroke, this country is poised to reclaim a real leadership role in the world, one that may even transcend the beautiful and literally paradigm-shifting moment when we elected you. In so doing, many of us were voting to put an end to racism once and for all, not only rejoicing in the possibility that you would even have won the nomination, but looking forward to the point where an Arab could be President of France or a Jew could be chief executive in Germany. Laughable as these ideas may have been a scant few months ago, they’re not laughable now.

While I don’t want to spoil the party, assuredly you realize that you weren’t elected because the American public wanted you as President. This past election was a referendum on the Bush regime and its failed policies that your Republican rival failed to repudiate. Because he failed to do so, he lost the election. While I’d rather have you in the White House than, say, Donald Duck, Donald Duck could have won this election had he been the Democratic candidate.

 

And what have you won? A conspiracy theorist would be quick to say that Karl Rove is the man behind the curtain here, selecting a Vice-Presidential candidate so repulsive that she’d alienate even the most diehard McCain supporters. Taking the theory to its logical extreme, the Bushites are counting that in four years the economy will be in such tatters that we’ll long for a messianic figure to appear, no matter how much sinister baggage that messiah may bring with him or what far rightwing corner he comes from. You have your work cut out for you, and the sharks are already circling, particularly all the hangers-on from the Clinton administration hungry for another go-round of partying on the Georgetown circuit. And everyone who threw money at you – and god knows, pretty much everyone did – is waiting for their pound of flesh. I don’t think there’s a soul alive who envies you right now.

 

Since you’ve doubtlessly already felt how many knowing nudges in one direction or another, I thought I’d put together my own list. This isn’t a personal wish list. If it was, I’d be asking for more government support of the arts, a shorter work week, free college tuition for those who’ve attained the proper prerequisites, forgiveness of college debt for those enslaved by what the government’s lent them and legalization of recreational drugs. Important as all those ideas are, they can wait. We have far more serious issues to deal with. I can’t say I’ve been thinking about this for a long time so far as it applies to you, because frankly I underestimated the intelligence of the American public: I didn’t think you were going to win. Then again I didn’t think I’d ever live to see the Boston Red Sox win a World Series, or to see Radio Birdman live in concert. So here’s what I’ve come up with, a program for your first hundred days in office:

 

1. Let’s get out of Iraq, now. Bill Richardson style. Let’s bring the troops home before any more American kids get blown up by those nasty oversize grenades the Bush regime euphemistically calls I.E.D.’s. No country has ever had the resources to fight a war while simultaneously tackling the kind of economic crises we face at the moment. Let’s focus our resources where they can actually do some good, here at home. And remember that America still has first dibs on Iraqi oil. You can thank your predecessor for that.

 

2. Speaking of oil, let’s initiate a massive electrification process, the likes of which will make rural electrification back in the 20s and 30s look puny by comparison. America can be 100% energy-independent in ten years if we do it right. GM, Chrysler and Ford on the ropes because nobody’s buying their cars? Don’t forget that virtually every municipality in this country, from Lenox, Massachusetts to Birmingham, Alabama had its own electric light rail system before GM put them out of business. Let’s turn history on its tail and help the Big Three – and local entrepreneurs – retool this country for light rail and public transporation. It can be done because we did it before, without one tenth of the energy-saving technology we have now. And we can do it without nuclear power. Just ask T. Boone Pickens, who’s suddenly seen the light and apparently wants to redeem himself after a lifetime spent as a corporate raider putting people out of work.

 

2A. Then let’s export this technology. You want a Marshall plan for Iraq, or Afghanistan? How about a Marshall plan for the whole world!

 

3. Outlaw speculation. Did you know that in the United States, it’s illegal to speculate in onions? That’s right. Now, quick, name the administration that signed that bill into law: A) FDR. B) Truman. C) Kennedy. D) Teddy Roosevelt. If you answered any of the above, you’re wrong. It was the conservative Eisenhower administration who realized that to allow Wall Street gamblers to drive up the price of onions just so they could afford a few more mansions and private islands is profoundly anti-American. Likewise, allowing Wall Street to rig the price of ANY essential resource, oil, foodstuffs or anything else purely for profit has profound and drastic consequences for average Americans who can’t understand why they can’t afford to buy groceries, heat their homes or take their kids to school anymore. Abolish the toothless Securities and Exchange Commission and replace it with a new Federal office with subpoena and arrest powers. Any of those poor speculators who can’t find work can get a real job. Like picking onions, for example.

 

4. Completely revamp the bank bailout plan. Drawn up and passed under extraordinary pressure from the multimillionaire corporate elite who understood it – none of whom supported you – and ordinary Americans who didn’t, what it essentially does is take all the profits of risky speculation private while taking the losses public. Meaning that taxpayers will be left to pick up the pieces while the speculators who created the mess walk away scot free with every cent they managed to squirrel away before the shit hit the fan. All profits earned by the corporate elite should go to paying down any debt owed by the government for the bailout. Let’s also not forget that the ultimate owner of all that bad mortgage debt is the government: taken to the logical extreme, this means Federal sheriffs will be going around foreclosing in a neighborhood near you. While we shouldn’t issue a blank check to those who took advantage of lax fiduciary oversight to speculate in real estate, we should very seriously consider amnesty for anyone threatened with the loss of a family residence who was swindled by the mortgage lenders.

 

5. Resist the urge to include Clintonistas in your administration. Putting Podesta in charge was a big mistake – unless you’re thinking of pinning the first disaster on him and throwing him to the wolves. My, you’re smarter than we ever thought. Please keep in mind that many of the evils of the Bush regime would not have been possible without precedents created by the Clinton administration, including but not limited to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act (which would have prevented the entire current financial crisis); the GATT treaty that gave Swiss lawyers sovereignty over American citizens, the NAFTA treaty that created that giant sucking sound of jobs being swept overseas, and the welfare bill that made slavery legal again on American soil. All of those were Clinton creations. Clinton beat Bush I by being more of a Republican than he was. Invoking the magic of the Clinton years – what a party, huh? – won’t cut it, policy-wise. It’ll just drive you into the arms of the extreme right who think Clinton was a liberal. And remember: the Clintons are profoundly evil people. Hillary Clinton let her lust for power get the better of her to the point that she wished openly that someone would assassinate you.

 

6. Watch your back. More than ever, now is the time to keep one eye over your shoulder. Keep in mind that the Bush regime completely gutted many offices of government including the CIA and Secret Service, replacing lifelong, patriotic civil servants with Bush sympathizers and apologists. The person who’s watching your back might be the last person you want in that job.

7. Close Guantanamo. Now. Free the innocent bystanders there who had the bad fortune to be out and about while the bounty hunters were rounding up bodies, eager for a handful of American taxpayer dollars that the Bush regime was only too glad to hand over.

 

8. And while we’re at it, how about more government support of the arts, a shorter work week, free college tuition for those who’ve attained the proper prerequisites, forgiveness of college debt for those enslaved by what the government’s lent them, legalization of recreational drugs, and doubling the budget of the Library of Congress? If we got out of the war we could do all that and more.

 

As much as many readers may find this list completely unachievable, remember, that’s what everybody said when Barack Obama first announced his candidacy. If we don’t ask for a mile, we won’t get an inch.

 

Thank you for listening. Now back to the music.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Rant | Leave a comment

Who Would Have Thought

DId anybody notice how clear the streets were last night? Coming home from Lakeside, down Avenue A, there wasn’t a Humvee limo to be seen anywhere. For that matter there were no limos whatsoever. The omnipresent gaggle of well-dressed, nervous New Jersey tourists blabbing on their cell phones at the corner of Essex and “Hewston” were nowhere in sight. By the time we reached Stanton, there were only a handful of tourists, and the steady parade of yellow cabs was also conspicuously absent. It was almost enough to warrant a detour and a stop by Max Fish for a drink (haven’t done that in awhile, have you? It’s been months, maybe years for us).

Does this mean we’re getting our city back? Instead of this being the worst possible time to be in New York, maybe it’s the best. Could this be the start of something really good…or just wishful thinking?

October 18, 2008 Posted by | New York City, Rant | 1 Comment

Comedy Review: Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, 10/2/08

Trembling, fidgeting, her face a rictus of anxiety and contempt for the very people she needs to vote for her, Sarah Palin was clearly scared shitless. It was almost enough to humanize her. But not quite. Last night she came across about as authentic as a Chinatown Rolex. Not that Joe Biden seemed like anything other than the Washington insider that he is and has been for many years. Relaxed and confident in his alpha-male role, he pretty much phoned in his lines, although that was sufficient. Conventional wisdom was that if he could avoid condescending to Palin’s vacuousness, this would be an easy victory, and for once the conventional wisdom was right on the money.

 

“I may not answer the questions as the moderator wants to hear,” she rebuffed Gwen Ifill, sticking to her script like a talking Barbie doll, changing the subject on a jarring note whenever she didn’t feel like responding. But Ifill got even. When the gay marriage question came up and Palin made the gaffe of trying to disown her own homophobic disingenuousness, Ifill cut her off. “So the two of you agree!” she told the candidates. Biden kept a poker face.

 

When Biden let slip that he supports using taxpayer money to bail out the hedge funds and the speculators, Palin could have creamed him – just like McCain, she’d played faux-populist on-and-off all night – but totally missed her cue. Apparently it wasn’t in her script. Biden’s lone silly moment was referring to Bosnians as “Bozniaks.” Palin said “nucular” five times, referred to“eye-rack” over and over again (although she did get “Ahmedinejad” right twice) and announced that “more and more revelation, made aware to Americans.” The way she brushed off the failures of the Bush regime was just plain transparent: “There have been huge blunders as there have been throughout every administration.” Otherwise, the debate was a real letdown, at least as far as comedy is concerned.

 

Palin finally got on the scoreboard late in the debate by pointing out that Biden, like every other chickenshit mainstream Dem, had voted for the Iraq war and also for the Patriot Act. She also took him to task by quoting some of the snide things he’d said about Obama during the millisecond before Biden’s presidential campaign ran out of gas. Biden’s lone moment of real courage was when responding to the issue of expanding Vice Presidential power. Reaffirming his commitment to letting Obama run the Executive branch, he noted that “Cheney’s been the most dangerous Vice President in US history.” The crowd watching the debate had been told not to applaud, but his observation drew a clearly audible murmur of approval.

 

Looking forward to January 20, 2009.

October 3, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Rant | , , , | 2 Comments

The Debate As Ballgame

Early innings:

McCain comes out swinging. Obama can’t find his rhythm, can’t get loose. Everything he throws is hittable. McCain has obvious holes in his swing but Obama can’t find them and McCain takes him deep, again and again. The elephant in the room is the war issue, which instead of coming in and rescuing Obama, sits on the bench and waits. The umpiring (closeted rightwing operative Jim Lehrer) is atrocious: McCain gets every call but not Obama. McCain 6, Obama 0.

 

Middle innings:

“The surge is working.” Yeah, right. Households around the country sneer derisively. McCain has the chance to distance himself from Bush but doesn’t. Obama is still stiff but he’s making sense, chipping away until the score is tied.

 

Eighth inning:

McCain, tiring, can’t keep up on the economy. Obama finally launches one deep into the bleachers. Then another, and another. Can he hold on? Obama 10, McCain 6.

 

Top of the ninth:

Obama finally brings up the war, but only in passing and won’t come up again. McCain, throwing junk, still manages to induce weak swings from Obama, who leaves them loaded.

 

Bottom of the ninth:

A couple of questionable calls from the umpire set up a big inning, but Obama doesn’t help himself and can’t/won’t make the big pitch. The war issue rests in the bullpen, watching and waiting. Final score: McCain 11, Obama 10. Shaky McCain goes the distance on the phony populist tip; Obama comes across as every bit the aloof Harvard grad that he may very well actually be, and whom McCain desperately wants you to believe he is.

 

By the time we get a second debate, the depression will really be in full swing. Will McCain stick to the script? Will Obama finally take the bat off his shoulder? Stay tuned.

September 27, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Rant | Leave a comment

Memo to the Fed: Lend Me Some Money!

Jello Biafra once joked that the Reagan administration wanted to fund Social Security through sports betting. Now that the Federal Reserve wants to loan money direct to Lehman Brothers and other investment banks so that they can continue speculating, the time has come to open up the Fed to the rest of us. Consider: today the Yankees play a twinbill with this year’s Cinderella team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Tampa is hungry to lock up the AL East championship, while the Yankees are playing out the string and may not finish .500 this year. Let the Fed lend us gambling addicts some ducats so we can put some serious cash on Tampa Bay, both games! Let’s open a Federal Reserve window at OTB! And while we’re at it, let’s make the cost of lottery tickets tax-deductible. Oh yeah…most people who play the lottery don’t make enough money to pay any taxes.

 

And by the way, here’s Sarah Palin doing a sportscast on Alaskan tv back in the 80s. She can read a teleprompter – sort of.  

September 13, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Rant | Leave a comment

New Rules for New Orleans

As Ray Nagin said, we’ve learned a lot from Katrina. Here’s what residents of that poor city have to look forward to this time around:

 

Only Halliburton employees, or employees of other corporate mercenary firms, will be allowed to participate in looting.

 

Anyone who gets on the bad side of Halliburton personnel or other mercenaries may be summarily executed. Those not executed will be sentenced indefinitely to Angola State Prison without trial.  This includes New Orleans police, fire and emergency services personnel and National Guard soldiers as well as survivors awaiting rescue.

 

The Superdome will not be open this time around: anyone seeking shelter inside may be summarily executed.

 

Any homeowners or displaced persons unwilling to be fingerprinted and processed through the criminal justice system will not be allowed to receive any government aid after the storm, no matter how dire the circumstance.

 

Real estate speculators are encouraged to visit and bid on destroyed property after the storm recedes. The same applies to casino and upscale resort proprietors.

 

Louisiana state residents can look forward to a tax increase to pay the profits made by Halliburton or other mercenary companies occupying New Orleans after the hurricane.

 

No private citizens, other than employees of Halliburton or other corporate mercenary firms, will be allowed near the movie set built for the visit from President Bush after the storm, created to give the illusion that the city isn’t a waterlogged wasteland.

 

Only employees of Goldman, Sachs & Co. (whose former CEO is now Treasury Secretary) will be allowed to sell short any stock that could be adversely affected by the hurricane.

 

For the second time in three years, New Orleans will serve as a test case to see how American citizens react when Constitutional law is suspended and law enforcement is put into the hands of for-profit corporations. 

August 31, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Rant | Leave a comment