Posts Tagged politics

Whoops, there goes another rubber tree plant…

7 August 2010

I’m freshly returned from my first ever trip to Charlotte, NC.  A business trip.  Was it high on my wish list of travel destinations?  Of course not, but it was a welcome diversion… and perhaps more importantly, it was an ideal next step in expanding my comfort zone.  This was a five-hour flight, after all.

I’ll confess to a certain reticence concerning the South, and spying a large Nascar store in the airport as soon as I walked off the plane didn’t help.  (In fact, I was later to find that a Nascar-branded skyscraper was visible from my hotel room!)  I grabbed a cab and headed towards downtown.  It wasn’t long before I was experiencing first hand the heat and humidity that was to define my whole trip.  Near triple-digit temperatures and the crushing moist air made me wish I had brought my business casual shorts and sandals.  The good news is that I was in air conditioning more often than not during my 3+ days in town.

I don’t mean to sound negative though.  Aside from the weather and the almost comical lack of vegetarian food options (even the upscale Asian place served no tofu nor much of anything else veggie apart from a side of noodles), the trip was really valuable.  Not least because I found it all very inspiring.  Not just the change of scenery but even the general experience of travelling.  It really seems to get the creative juices flowing, or at least it does for me.  I remember my consulting days were rich in that department.

Christ, why don’t I do more travelling on my own time?  It’s exciting, that getting up early on the day of your flight, the nerves as you pack up and leave the house, that walk through the airport parking lot, all leading up to some great unexpected wide open.  It was the same preparing for Ireland as it was for anywhere else.  And then once you’re there,  I mean, my memory/concept of both work travel and vacations is wrapped up in experiences like the ones in Charlotte.  Walking around some neon-heavy outdoor marketplace on a night so hot and humid you can wear shorts.  Walking light because all my stuff is securely in the hotel.  There’s something to the idea of having so few possessions to worry about.  Just being out there without much more than the clothes on your back.  Even the rental car — when there is one — isn’t actually yours.  Somehow it makes you live in the moment more.  Really live.  No strings.  You’re simply there absorbing all the new sights and sounds, taking it all in.  And there’s a feeling of such independence that goes along with that too.  You, dropped into unfamiliar surroundings and left to fend for yourself.  You against the world.  Mano-a-mundo.

Speaking of consulting, that was definitely the vibe of the trip.  Preparing for it was not unlike reliving those old days.  Bringing a laptop, living out of a hotel, wearing my trusty work jacket (and digging out of it two crusty Dramamine vials that expired in 2006)… then keeping receipts for expenses and just remembering all the little details like that.  Well, it was my own white collar version of a washed up gunfighter dusting off his guns and coming out of retirement for one last ride.  Happy and sad at the same time.  I really need to get around to writing my old consulting stories here and just exorcising that once and for all.

I always enjoy catching the local news when I’m travelling, just to try to get a flavor for the place.  Usually I’ll watch the Fox affiliate, because even though their 24 hour cable station’s reputation is understood, the local branches like our own KTVU seem relatively independent.  Charlotte’s?  Not so much.  I’ll spare you the breakdown of every skewed story choice, story angle, and show of incompetence I witnessed.  You’ve got the Daily Show to do that for you at the national level.  Suffice it to say the anchors’ views — or perhaps in some cases the network’s views — were plain as day.  So much for journalistic integrity and unbiased reporting, eh?  Is “news” like that a bad influence on the local public, or is it actually a product of the existing public disposition?  I watched and thought no wonder people here think this way… it’s what they hear every day on T.V.  But I guess they might say the same for the more liberal Bay Area.

Anyhoo, Charlotte was nice.  We all stayed in/near what is kind of like the Metreon of that city.  A movie theater, an outdoor music bandstand, several restaurants.  We met up with a local coworker one night and walked around downtown for the evening.  Highlights included Crave, billed as a “dessert bar.”  Basically it was an embarrassingly trendy bar that also happened to serve food… to the tune of 26 gourmet desserts.  I bought two.  Because I’m a grown-assed man, that’s why!  Don’t question me.  Oh, and when walking near the ball park, we happened across The Breakfast Club: a full time 80’s dance club!  Sounds great, right?  Well, even though it was open on a Tuesday night, all we saw was a bouncer, and empty parking lot, and what looked like a half dozen prostitutes loitering nearby.  We passed.

So there you have it.  Another wall comes down.  This makes all of the continental United States and possibly even Hawaii “reachable” again.  Pretty exciting stuff.  I may not be that far from a European trip… eventually.

“In the face of such uncertainty, believe in these two things:  you are stronger than you think, and you are not alone.”

— Maya Angelou

King Of The Mountain

1 February 2010

So, I know I’m a week late on this, but did you all watch the state of the union address?  The White House must do its research, because I have to admit, Obama said damn near everything I was thinking (and had in fact spoken at length about just days before while lunching with my folks).  There’s plenty of blame to go around, but my general view is that the Republicans are being the dicks they always are (shame on them), and the Dems have been too stupid to recognize that, accept it, and work around it to actually get something done (shame on them).  I was entertained by how different the comments and angles were as I flipped back and forth between Fox and MSNBC.  Both ridiculous in their own way.  The address itself was good I thought.  It struck me as relatively candid.  The official Republican response was comically empty.  It was delivered with absolutely no charisma, and it said nothing whatsoever.  The only thing I heard of any substance was a rehashing of Obama’s own points as if they were somehow fresh counterpoints.  It was embarrassing.

I was particularly caught by the whole bit about the failure of virtually everyone in Washington to put the good of the people ahead of their career self-preservation and political posturing.  It sums up so much of what’s been wrong (and getting worse) in American government the last few decades.  And it’s not just Republicans.  OK, it’s mostly Republicans.

As I recall, the founding fathers were not career politicians.  They were business men who worked in government out of duty and necessity.  It was a burden, not a reward.  And when the work was done, they wanted to get back to being business men.  I’m reminded of that scene in Gladiator where the emperor Marcus Aurelius offers to make Maximus his successor.  Maximus refuses, and the emperor says, “that is why it must be you.”  In today’s world, every one of those fuckers in Washington gets their position and spends the rest of their career doing what they have to to hold on to it.  It doesn’t matter what’s best for the people and nation that they were hired to serve.  Because it all takes a back seat to their own ambitions.  It’s sickening.

This is not supposed to be “king of the mountain.”  It’s not supposed to be that once you get into power, you just use that power to help yourself.  Getting into office isn’t supposed to be like winning the lottery.  It’s not a reward.  It’s a job.  You were sent there to do a job.  You were sent there to represent me.  I didn’t vote for you and give you that power because I felt like you’re such a swell guy that you deserved to be rich and powerful at my expense.  No, I sent you there to do a job.  If you are unable or unwilling, then step down and make room for someone with the integrity and sense of duty to try to help their country instead of themselves.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

— Greek proverb

UPDATE:  Just after I posted this blog last night, the Colbert Report had something poignant to add — hilariously illustrating the sad fact that many politicians will resist a thing not because they think it’s a bad idea or because it won’t benefit the people… but simply because they don’t want the other side to get the credit or look good.  It’s incomprehensible to me.  What a disservice to those poor people they dupe into following them.  Because those poor souls all think you’re on their side and working for their best interest.  But you’re not, you’re working for yours.

NOTE: As of 2023, this updated link should take you to “The Word” segment from the February 1st, 2010 episode (#669) of “The Colbert Report” I originally had embedded here.

Don’t Let’s Be Silly

20 January 2010

So, I finally saw Avatar last night.  Imagine Dances With Wolves as played out by the offspring of Nightcrawler and Jar Jar.  It’s a cultural event now, you know.  Like The Matrix, it’s one of those things that’s going to be referenced and parodied for years to come.  You kinda have to see it, if for no other reason than to educate yourself in preparation for all the references you’ll see to it in the future.  I hear it won best drama at the Golden Globes.  I admit, it was better than I expected.  But best drama?  Really?


Couple that with the Democrats poised to lose in Massachusetts*, Kraft poised to buy Cadbury, the ongoing Conan vs. Jay saga, and this week’s torrential rains (I hear Deanna’s building an ark)… the world’s gone crazy.  The end of times may be upon us.

* Obviously, I’m pretty liberal.  But holy shit, Dems.  You’ve had this crushing majority for a year, and what have you done with it?  Goose egg.  What’s the excuse?  Trying to reach across the aisle?  How much reaching did the GOP do over the previous eight years?  What a shame you didn’t take this opportunity to exercise your power to effect real change while you had it.

Listening to: Jobriath – “Lonely Planet Boy

[amtap amazon:asin=B0002ZYDJC]

Coming Soon: Civil War II

21 August 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: lazy lazy

I had the T.V. on while eating dinner earlier tonight (Friday night alone… rock star!), and just as an experiment, I turned it to Fox News.  I figure, every once in a while, it’s probably good to see what the other side is saying.  Especially with all the madness going on with healthcare town halls and such.

Holy shitake!  I couldn’t last five minutes.  These people are nuts.  Granted, I watch a lot of Daily Show, but when I do, I know that it’s a comedy show.  It’s fake news.  But watching Fox News, it was like I was seeing the exact opposite and extreme view point, only it wasn’t funny, and it wasn’t presented as fake news.  It was presented as “fair and balanced” real news.  It’s no wonder the people glued to that channel are bat shit crazy.  At least the Daily Show occasionally pokes fun at the Left.  I would argue that Fox News is significantly more one-sided in its presentation.

And while their views and reasoning are… incomprehensible to me… I am trying to remind myself that they must all feel the same way about my views.  I want to say that time and progress will be on my side, and that history will look back on them and judge them ridiculous just as it does those who fought for slavery, against civil rights, against women’s suffrage, etc.  People that stubbornly stand in the way of progress, however they try to rationalize, justify, and spin it.  And I think I’m right.  But we gotta survive as a country long enough for that history to be written.  There are a lot of nuts out there, and there’s a lot of money being spent towards keeping them riled up.  Rome didn’t last forever.  Neither will we.

And on that happy note…

I’ve been on another kick of trying to organize my literally thousands of lines of notes I’ve been keeping for a decade… also known as my “to do” list.  It includes little things like this that I’ve jotted down over the years.  The quote of the week comes from a conversation I had with Jared once… from context it must have been 2003, but I don’t remember what Gore had done that spurred this conversation.  I like it just because it’s such a Jared reaction.

Benjamin: “If Gore were that animated three years ago, he would have won.”
Jared: “HE DID WIN!  Oh, you mean he would have won more.  He would have been the winner-er.”

Self esteem is bad for the economy.

23 April 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  intense

Folks, I’m pleased to report that The Legendary Shack Shakers are coming back to town!  They’ll be at the Red Devil Lounge on June 9th, and that’s exactly where I’m gonna be.  The next night, they’ll be at The Blue Lamp in Sacto (is this like their TCB tour?), and the night before they’ll be at the VooDoo Lounge in SJ.  To my SF and San Jose friends, you don’t want to miss them.  This band will rock your ass to pieces with an energy on stage that puts so many of our local bands to shame.  I was skeptical too before seeing them last year, but 30 seconds of that show changed my mind.  Damn, so many good shows coming up over the next few months!

I sold another guitar, bitches!  A fancy one, too… the 12-string Ric!  That just leaves three left in this first round of thinning the herd:

OK, so I did finally join Facebook.  My first impressions are that it’s slow, and that it gives you way too many way too many messages, IMs, walls, notification emails, all flying out of every corner of the screen. After just a few minutes of being on there, I wanted to scream and jump out the window!  I’m definitely keeping it bare bones in there, but it has let me connect with a few people I’d been meaning to.  So yay for that.  But MySpace sucks up enough of my life as it is… I can’t be keeping up with every little happening on Facebook too.  This is my home, and this is where you’re gonna have the easiest time reaching me.

Our boy Gavin Newsom (who will of course one day be played by Matthew McConaughey in his biopic) is now officially running for governor.  Based on what I know about him so far, I like him.  I’ve heard some comments locally that he’s not liberal enough.  And yes, I recognize that he’s kind of a slick-talking guy.  But I’ve always liked him.  I thought his gay marriage “whether you like it or not” comment was perfect.  Sounds like something I would have said.  And he cares about his hair, and that’s important to me.  We’ll see what we learn about him as the campaign gets going.

And actually, if I can get political for a minute, I have a couple of things to soapbox about.  First, it is now clear to me that the right is batshit crazy.  I know we haven’t exactly seen eye to eye over the years, but we’ve had Obama now for what, three months?  Already the right has jumped to calling him a tyrant, a fascist, they’re dumping tea in the streets and calling for revolution… and now Texas is hinting at secession?  Are you kidding me?  Three months, dude.  We all just lived through eight agonizing years of what is likely the worst president this nation has ever had, and you’re calling for revolution after three months?  If you’ll pardon the expression… Suck it up, pussies!  (The Daily Show has been doing such an amazing job of chronicling this ridonkulousness… seriously, WATCH THIS.)

(Beware, this one’s kinda touchy.)  And second, I read comments all the time (the most recent having to do with Moz’s little freak out at Coachella) where people say to vegetarians something along the lines of “don’t tell me how to live… I’ll eat what I want, you eat what you want” and so on.  I can’t speak for all vegetarians, but for me it’s an ethical issue.  I take the “meat is murder” stance.  When I see a steak, I think “there’s an animal that didn’t need to die.”  It doesn’t matter if I’m eating it or someone else is… it still affects me.  Recently, an animal rights activist was added to the FBI’s top ten most wanted list.  It reminded me of another example… I may not agree with the opinions of anti-abortion activists, and I certainly don’t agree with them committing terrorism by bombing clinics and all that.  But I also know that to them this isn’t just a mild issue of they prefer a lifestyle that doesn’t suit everyone.  In their mind, they see it as the sanctioned murder of babies.  Think about that.  Now, if you thought kids were being murdered, wouldn’t you feel compelled to go to great lengths to stop it?  I don’t agree with the tactics or the philosophy, but I understand it.  To someone who holds that belief, you can’t use an argument like “don’t tell me how to live… I won’t dictate if you can kill your babies… so don’t dictate if I can kill mine.”  I know that’s really graphic, but do you see what I’m getting at?  It’s as absurd as saying “well that’s fine if you’re against slavery… you don’t have to own slaves… but don’t tell me I can’t.”  My main point here is simply that ethical vegetarianism is not a “to each their own” kind of issue… to at least one side of the argument, there’s a real victim in the equation.  Now I’m not about to go committing acts of terrorism myself, but again, I understand why some vegetarians don’t just keep quiet.  Anyway, hope that made sense rather than made me sound batshit crazy myself.

“A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.”

Oscar Wilde

I trust the views of certain people I know.

16 March 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  uncomfortable

Anyone else see Jim Cramer get nailed to the wall by Jon Stewart the other night?  Dear God, it was horrifying.  I’m trying to cling to the signs of hope here and there.  A short run of positive Dow days.  Experts predicting the beginning of the turn around before the end of 2009.  But holy shit, folks.  The economy’s sucking air, in case you didn’t know.

And on the subject of other things that you probably already knew, I’m apparently a raging liberal, according to this test Aaroncito sent me.  I scored a 281… well off the chart of averages for all the demographics I belong to, based on the summary of results at the end.

It’s been a busy few weeks.  The shows in Sacramento and Fresno were a lot of fun.  Some old friends showed up each night, and we even made some new friends.  That first Smiths album has a few tunes that aren’t so live-show-friendly.  Let me tell you, nothing grinds the evening’s momentum to a screeching halt quite like a trudge through something like “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.”  So if you ever had an interest in hearing us do that one… well, I hope you were at one of those shows.  I made it through both shows relatively peacefully, but by the time I got home, my voice was gone, and I was well on my way to being sick.  Even missed a few days of work over it.  But fret not, I’m right as rain now.  Let’s see, what else?  Cliff Notes: Louder Than Bombs was good this last weekend.  I’ve been guitar shopping lately, against my better judgment.  I went into a Good Vibrations for the first time maybe ever.  I managed to finally break (in half) my old Ikea couch from the Jared/Mission days, so I’m in the market for a new one if anyone’s got suggestions.

And this Friday, TCB is having yet another specially themed show.  We’ll be in San Jose at the Blank, playing two sets of classics as usual… but the first set will be unusual in that it will cover all of the rockabilly songs in the Smiths and Morrissey’s respective canons.  Really… all of them, you ask?  Yes.  We considered every song they recorded and picked up everything that was remotely rockabilly in nature.  Rusholme Ruffians?  Of course.  Sing Your Life?  Duh.  Pregnant For The Last Time?  You’ll hear it for the first time… this Friday at the Blank.  Don’t miss it!

Some random entertainment for you… if you’re looking for a way to kill 15 minutes, check out this list of one-hit wonders of the 1990’s.  There were so many I’d forgotten, and talk about bringing back memories.  They say that smell is our oldest sense and the most closely tied to memory.  You know how a scent you haven’t come across in years can instantly bring you back to a time and place, right?  Well, I’m convinced our pop music sense must be the next in line.  Reading through this list, it was like middle school all over again.

In a conversation with Jamie the other day, I managed to work the word “homonymous” in, as there was some confusion about if we were talking about Mac makeup or Mac computers.  But since I can’t remember the exact phrasing of my stunning display of lexical majesty, the quote of the week instead goes to her, who said this regarding me walking out the door without my wallet for the first time in years:

“You must have forgotten to take your memory pills.”

Bad news on the doorstep…

2 February 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  quiet

A little after midnight tonight will mark the 50th anniversary of the tragic Iowa plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper.  Talk about some amazing careers cut short.  There was a lot of music left in those fellas, no doubt.

But to add a little levity here, did you all see the new Moz single sleeve?  Totally unexpected, and yet somehow it fits.  I guess he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve yet.  But before you even ask, don’t expect that pose from TCB on any upcoming flyers.  (Send your complaints via comment to the TCB MySpace.)

I actually had a pretty good weekend, myself.  Saturday night I dropped by that benefit show in Brisbane.  The music was alright, got to see some friends I don’t see too often, and meet some new ones.  Nick, Charlene, and Amy have all documented the night in pictures.  I liked the place too, so hopefully there’ll be an opportunity to go back sometime.  And then as much as I uh… wanted to catch the Superbowl… somehow I managed to skip it completely, and spend the afternoon comparing Smiths riffs with Peter.  It was one of the more rewarding Superbowl Sundays I can remember having, frankly.

Can I just make a quick mention of what is admittedly an easy target?  WTF is with Rod Blagojevich’s hair?  It’s somewhere between Anton Chigurh and Dan White, and that’s not cool even in an ironically hip way (though I’m waiting for this haircut trend to hit the Mission).  Why is it guys like that — and Donald Trump comes to mind too — who have the most ridiculous hair are also the ones who are so protective and fussy about it?  In all seriousness, I don’t trust anyone whose perception is that far off of reality.  If you are that defiantly guarded in the face of overwhelming evidence that you look absurd, well then… I don’t know what to do with you.  Kind of sounds a bit like some of Blagojevich’s other problems recently, eh?

“You’re so square — baby, I don’t care.”

This is my United States of Whatever.

20 January 2009

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:  sore

Well actually it’s Obama’s United States of Whatever now.  It’s hard to believe that the last eight years are finally over.  I think it’ll take some time to sink in, but wow… it’s a whole different feeling when you’re proud of your government.  I had forgotten what that feels like.

You’ll have to forgive me that I’m not doing cartwheels, however.  As I type this, I’m achy and suspecting that I’m getting sick again.  WTF?  I just got over a cold.  Now what is it?  This whole day has been weird though.  I fell asleep way early last night, then woke this morning from one of the most horrible nightmares I can ever remember having (which we will not be discussing), and then rolled out of bed and directly onto the phone with a guitar shop in the U.K.  I don’t know how many of you have woken up to an Englishman speaking into your ear, but… well, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant.

The weekend was pretty lax, aside from a packed house at the Cash’d Out show at the Blank.  They were pretty good, but it’s never fun to be in a club crowd that dense.  People were putting their hands on me left and right, squeezing by to and from the bar.  Not generally my idea of fun.  But Nick and Charlene were there though, along with some of their fairer friends.  Never a dull moment, and well worth the trip out to SJ.

And now, for no reason whatsoever…

Polar bears and dogs playing

This last weekend was also the winter NAMM show in Anaheim, which I believe is the largest tradeshow of instrument makers in the U.S., maybe the world?  It’s basically the time when Gibson, Gretsch, Boss, Fender, and all my other favorite companies unveil their latest products and some of their plans for the upcoming year.  Booths set up with all the latest and greatest, on display for the first time.  Usually this means I see a bunch of new toys to drool over, but this year nothing really rocked my socks.  This is based on what I’m seeing online of course.  I wasn’t there.  It’s not open to the public (and even if it were… it’s in Anaheim).  However a certain girl I know was able to get in.  And she owes me pictures!  As it always does, the start of the year means price hikes for all the big manufacturers, which puts a fire under me to make an irresponsible purchase.  But the last thing I need is another guitar, right?  (Right???)  The economy’s in the shitter, and I might need that money this year to, you know, eat and stuff.

Anyway, it’s time to down some NyQuil and hit the hay.  The quote of the week comes from this shirt:

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself… and spiders.”

THANK GOD: My Election Day Rundown Blog

4 November 2008

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:


29 October 2008

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood:

Next Page »