Sunday, September 30, 2007

Meet the new boss

There are a lot of Springsteen fans who don't like the fact that he's willing to talk and sing politics from the stage. Springsteen, generously, has spoken about them. He accepts and cherishes them, and hopes to change some of their minds.

These fans, sad to say, are that part of America who either doesn't know, or doesn't care enough, to consider anything beyond "hemi powered drones" screaming down the boulevard. These are the dead heads, the parrot heads, the meatheads willing to pay scalpers $500 for good seats, the "fans" who never quite got the Nebraska, Ghost of Tom Joad or Devils and Dust tours.

Springsteen has always written and sung about alienation, resignation, fear and sadness, as well as joy, belonging, bravery and hope. A.O. Scott writes beautifully about it in today's NY Times.

I'm glad to be going to the show in Hartford Tuesday, despite the bad seats. And I'm glad that Bruce is still willing to travel and share his vision of a country which will need to take "a long walk home."

Fuck your war

I'm not allowed to play this one on the radio, but it makes so much sense, that I can't help but want to share it with you.

This guy is local, and active in the peace movement in Northwest CT. Thanks to Spazmo for pointing it out.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ain't they purty...

Wesleyan students are featured in a fashion layout in this Sunday's special "College Edition" of the New York Times Magazine. Extra points if you can guess the location of the shots.

Interesting to see the NYT trying to raise the interest of college students in old-school reading. As if you'd find the Sunday New York Times, battered and well-read in dorm rooms around the country.

We're making a list, checking it twice...

Keith Olbermann and Senator Jim Webb discuss the newly uncovered proof, the Spanish "Downing Street memos," which prove that George Bush intended to attack Iraq long before there was a UN resolution, and long before he admitted to the American people that he would do so.

What's more, Webb, who served in the military in Vietnam and the first Iraq War, gives his opinion of the chickenhawks who are chomping at the bit for war in Iran, and calling military dissenters, "phony soldiers."

Friday, September 28, 2007

I'm not the only one who thought Global Woody sounded like a porno title

So did Tao Rodgriguez Seeger, who wowed the sold-out Green Street Arts Center Auditorium with songs written by his grandfather Pete, songs written by the man of the hour, and Spanish language songs old and new.

Bill, Steve and I walked down to the Arts Center and joined the enthusiastic crowd who thoroughly enjoyed the presentation by Jorge Arévalo Mateus on Woody Guthrie's international influence, with a thought-provoking intro by Wesleyan professor Rob Rosenthal..

It was great to see such an engaged audience pack the venue on a Friday night for the music of America's best-known troubadour.

Concerts of the Week

Tao Rodriguez-Seeger

Global Woody
Friday September 28, 8:00 pm

Green Streets Art Center, Middletown

Not only will Mammals member, and Seeger family scion Tao Rodriguez-Seeger perform, but Wesleyan Ph.d musicology candidate, and Guthrie Archive director Jorge Arévalo Mateus, will speak, show rare Woody Guthrie film footage, and play recently-discovered Guthrie recordings. An interesting and important night of music about America's most significant troubadour.

Richard Shindell
Music for A Change

Saturday, September 29, 7:30 pm
Wilde Auditorium, University of Hartford

Imagine Michael Stipe singing story songs which you could actually understand, and you'd have some idea of what Richard Shindell sounds like. He's an acclaimed songwriter, and while he's an incredible lyricist and melody maker, his most recent album is composed of cover songs, including a strident-free version of Springsteen's Born In the USA.

Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello
Sunday, September 30
Harbor Yard, Bridgeport CT

I'm still wondering why I don't have tickets to this myself. Initially, I thought it was a little more musician self-indulgence than I could stand in an evening. But both are musical heroes, and seeing them in the same venue, on the same evening would be somewhat of a revelation. And lately, I've become re-obsessed with Costello's Motown/Stax influenced Get Happy (from whence comes one of my Costello favorites King Horse).
Harbor Yard, Bridgeport CT

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yes, kids, it's swell, but don't forget...

This is the same Democratic town committee who supported Creepy Joe Lieberman over Ned Lamont. So while any condemnation, even symbolic, of the Bush administration is welcome, this is as non-binding as it comes. Time to send Gerry Daley ( an email to encourage him to bring the same resolution before the town's Common Council. And if you're so inclined, to register to vote in November's election.

But thanks for paying attention.

And that's Representative Jellyfish over there

There was some solace in the fact that Chris Dodd not only did not vote on the Senate resolution condemning MoveOn's "Petraeus/Betray Us" ad. Outmaneuvered by the Republican minority again.

But now the House passed a similar resolution, which is disgusting in it's absolute kowtowing to the administration and the Pentagon, and all of our anti-war, liberal, Democratic representatives voted in favor of it. Yes, Delauro, Courtney, Larson and Murphy.

Time to hit the phones and ask, "WTF!"

Thanks to myleftnutmeg, for pointing this out.

Hillary's cackle

Or one more reason not to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Last night, Mike Gravel, whose status as loose cannon was preserved, asked Hillary how she could have voted with Creepy Joe Lieberman on a resolution which names the Revolutionary Guard in Iran as a terrorist group, and thereby liable to be addressed with military action.

Hillary laughed lustily in response. It's not funny, Hillary. Just like it wasn't funny when you voted on the Iraq war resolution with only the flimsiest evidence. It may have worked with Chris Wallace but it is distasteful when lives are at stake.

Can the cackle Clinton.

BTW, the so-called "evidence" that Iran is supplying Iraqui insurgents has never been made available for public examination. So if you're old enough to remember the words "weapons of mass destruction" then you're old enough to know that this administration has never let the truth get in the way of a good war. Bush and minions have been trying to implicate Iran since last year, and Creepy Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyl are simply shills for the men who want to drop the bombs.

Mayor, you were reading our minds

Many of us in the community have thought it a bizarre conflict of interest that the town staff roles of planning, conservation and economic development are under the same roof, with one, very powerful director. These functions, of course, are separate, and sometimes at odds with one another.

As the mayor pointed out at a meeting of the Middletown Arts Commission last evening, the town used to have separate directors of economic development, planning and conservation, and that these directors often went head-to-head on issues. Now, if the department in question want to push development through, all it has to do is convince itself.

And while I understood Mayor Sebastian Giuliano to be opposed to the current set-up, I've never head him say so until last evening when he said, "You want to talk about conflicting activities under one roof, well there you go."

Unfortunately, he also talked about the fact that reorganization of town departments takes a double vote by a super-majority of the town council. Something that is not likely to happen with a Republican mayor and a Democratic council.

Sorry about the blurry phone photo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Shooting the hecklers

Pay attention America. When militaristic leaders don't like what they hear, they get rid of the most dangerous threats - buddhist monks and comedians. Watch your back John Stewart.

And how do military juntas grab power? They frighten the populace into believing that there is an imminent threat, and that the only protection we have is to surrender our liberties and to put in powerful military governments.

Yesterday, the Senate folded once again, and passed the Lieberman-Kohl resolution which urges the President (as if he needed a push) to name Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist group. This, as you may guess, is the first step in allowing the US to mount military strikes against Iran. Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton voted for the resolution, while Dodd and Biden voted against, and Obama was absent.

Where is the Democratic leadership? Cooking up excuses as to why they cannot find the strength to stand up to a morally bankrupt administration.

A speed bump for Creepy Joe's war machine

Harry Reid, the marshmallow-spined Senate leader mustered up enough crust to put a temporary stop to Creepy Joe Lieberman's saber rattling call for war with Iran.

While it didn't bring the resolution to a dead stop, it slowed and weakened it. We'll see if Reid has the guts to let it die on the vine.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Guess he better stick with My Pet Goat

You can see the strain in his face when he gets to these points in the speeches. He's got to think and talk at the same time, and it's really, really hard for him.

I wonder if they phonetically spell out n00-kyoo-luhr?

Some monks just won't listen

Burmese monks continue to resist their government, and their leadership by marching in the streets to protest the military government.

There's a lesson to be learned, but I'm not sure whether it's about spending some of your life as a monk, embracing Buddhism, or convincing the most unlikely group to get out on the street to shout down the government.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A moment of...noise?

Famed mime Marcel Marceau had died, and while his popularity spawned the horrific scourge of street mimes in the seventies, and the forgettable Shields and Yarnel, he will be remembered as a true artist of the wordless art. He'll also be remembered for being the only character who spoke in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie when he said, "No."

I'm searchin' for the man who killed my pa

Interesting that there are at least two politicians in Washington working to correct the images of their dads.

One has killed thousands of people. One is killing some trees.

George Bush invaded a country on his father's account. And Chris Dodd has written a book.

Cut from the same cloth

While there's been a sense that Bush's nominee to replace Al Gonzales, Michael Mukasey, may be a candidate who could win approval, it seems he may be as much of an autocrat as his those he's succeeding.

I hope that the Democratic Congress can see this approval process as an opportunity to air Republican dirty laundry, and to forced the Bush administration to shed some light on the dirty secrets of the Gonzales era.

Now that I have your attention

I was strangely gratified to find my mugshot on the Wesleying blog, forgetting that students spend much more time surfing than my contemporaries.

I've had precious little meaningful contact with Wesleyan students.

Some of it pleasant - finding a great babysitter for our identical twin boys, who became a friend over her years in Middletown; and, as we walk through campus, the usual greeting "oh look, are they twins?" which leads me to wonder about the admittance standards.

Some of it, less so - shouting "Shut the fuck up, we're trying to sleep" to students returning from a weekend (Wed-Sun) excursion downtown and returning drunk and obstreperous as they wander down my street after closing hour.

But from a polite distance, I've observed students to be smart, radical, funny, creative and interesting. Okay, you're not brats, exactly.

So, I have some questions:

Are students concerned about the amount of space given over to parking lots on campus? How about preservation of historic buildings?

I've seen notices posted for establishing an SDS chapter on campus. Is there a big anti-war, anti-Bush movement on campus?

Where do students listen to live music, or, do students listen to live music?

Does anyone listen to WESU?

Are there any students interested in local politics?

Was the tree that fell on college row a prank? And if a tree falls at Wesleyan on a Saturday night, does anyone hear it?

Just wondering.

BTW, Wesleying is great. It reminds me of the alternative student newspapers that used to get published "when I was in school."

Also, for those Wes readers wanting to sample Caterwaul radio, I won't be on Wednesday morning, I'll be in Philadelphia for the day.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dear Mr. President

It's an old argument of mine that the protest music of the sixties, some of which was "commercialized" and played, uncensored, on the popular radio stations of the day, was an inspiration to a movement bent on moving civil rights forward, ending an unjust war, and unseating a criminal president.

From "Blowing In the Wind" and (yes) "Eve of Destruction" to "For What It's Worth" and "Ohio" a spirit of righteous dissent had an appropriate soundtrack.

Where are those songs today? They're out there, but a little harder to find. My nominations for the best in the current struggle: Pink's "Dear Mr. President," (which moved me to tears just last evening) Eminem's "Mosh," Dan Bern's "After the Parade," Bruce Springsteen's "Devils and Dust," Pete Seeger's "Bring Them Home," Eliza Gilkyson's "Man of God" and Mark Erelli's "Volunteers."

Some will move you to tears. Some will move you to call your representatives in Washington. Some will move you to get out on the street in the next protest march.

Unfortunately, these days, few are heard on commercial radio. Fortunately, there's the internets.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tomorrow, ask your pastor when was the last time he or she marched against injustice

In Burma, the amazing fact that monks may turn the tide against a corrupt military regime is shocking the world. Hadn't heard about it on the local news, have you?

Would that the American clergy could rise up against war, violence, poverty and injustice. Jesus might just come around to finding a spot in heaven for them if they did.

Murder Inc.

Last night on Keith Olbermann's Countdown, Jeremy Scahill, who has written a book on Blackwater called Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, claimed that there are 180,000 contracted private security forces fighting a parallel war in Iraq next to the 170,000 troops. This is a significantly higher number than the 20,000-30,000 previously reported.

The differences are that the private troops, who are truly mercenaries, are paid better then the regular troops, they operate outside of all laws and regulations, they murder with impunity, and now they are being investigated for smuggling weapons onto the black market in Iraq, some of which may have ended up in the hands of officially identified terrorist groups.

Who wants to guess what these hired goons are going to do when they get home?

What would Woody do?

Woody Guthrie archive director Jorge Arévalo Mateus will conduct an interest presentation about the influence of our foremost American singer-songwriter and travelling troubador.

Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Pete Seeger's grandson, and leader of the new-folk band, The Mammals, will perform.

Creepy Joe Lieberman's bloodlust

On Thursday, it seems, while the Senate was wrestling with bills to end the war in Iraq, Creepy Joe Lieberman and his armchair warrior colleague, Jon Kyl of Arizona were introducing a resolution to up the ante in Iran.

If you're from Connecticut and you hold any illusions that Creepy Joe represents you, I hope this will dissuade you from ever voting for this warmonger again. I don't know what the equivalent of anti-semite is when considering the Muslim world, but I'm beginning to think that Creepy Joe cannot escape his Zionist tendencies when he's considering legislation, even if it means making bad policy and making war.

Unfortunately, there's no way to impeach a Senator.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Speaking of the strange, mysterious and wonderful world of Wesleyan

I found this while blogging about.

Interesting to have an insider's view of what's going on.

Particularly interesting is the story about using fire drills to inspect students rooms. Isn't this a violation of civil rights?

Time to start chalking again brats.

Getting cars off campus

The Zipcar has come to Smith and now to Yale. It's a new commercial concept wherein cars are shared by a set of customers with some kind of affinity.

Why not Wesleyan, where pouring blacktop seems like some kind of extracurricular activity?

Thanks to Johns Elmore and Schilke for the news.

"A pissy, juvenile blast.." was never so sweetly described

If only removing a president from office were as easy as removing a diseased appendix, Keith Olbermann would not have to verbally excoriate the president again and again.

However, we would not enjoy the edutainment of Olbermann's brilliant commentary.

This one is worth passing to everyone you know.

Concert of the Week

Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles
Saturday September 22, 7 pm

Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton MA

She's from Boston with an asterisk. That's how most of the descriptions of this amazing honky tonk hollering singer from Mass, begin. Then they get down to the real issue. She sings Southern, she sings rockabilly, she sings vintage country and blues like she was born to them. A great voice, a lovely face and a smoking band. How can I get to the Iron Horse on Saturday?

Hooray for Gerry Daley

When a prominent Democratic Councilman in Middletown calls for the impeachment of President Bush, I can offer nothing but appreciation.

Gerry Daley put forward an unofficial resolution to impeach Bush and Cheney, and the Democratic town committee passed it. Makes me glad, for at least a moment, that I'm a Democrat in Middletown. Now we must urge Daley to propose it as a resolution that the City Council will vote on. Send him an email and suggest it (

But we must remember, that it was this same committee which endorsed Creepy Joe Lieberman over the official Democratic candidate Ned Lamont. That may have been politically expedient, but if these Dems are sincere now, then it was morally dishonest. They can call Creepy Joe Lieberman every name in the book now. But they are an important part of the reason he is where he is.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

That's Senator Shit-for-brains to you

It's beyond the pale that a Congress with an 11% approval rating can waste their time condemning an ad that is morally and factually correct. All the while failing to do what the majority of voters have asked them to do - end the goddamned war!

It's a relier that one of Connecticut's senators, Chris Dodd, assailed his colleagues on his website.

As one-time Hartford resident Mark Twain once said: "Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

All live, all day

WWUH's celebration of live broadcasting began at 6 a.m. today with music by the Mayocks, followed by the Joint Chiefs and Amy Gallatin and Stillwaters.

Music and public affairs programming will continue today, without any recorded annoucements or music until 6 pm.

To check out It's All Live, visit the WWUH website.

Republicans betray the troops, journalism betrays us

I don't watch much on television but Keith Olbermann's Countdown and John Stewart's Daily show. With Olbermann out and recovering from an emergency appendectomy, and very appealing and competent replacement Alison Stewart in his seat, producers decided that fully half of the hour long show should be given over to OJ Simpson's arrest and arraignment. Meanwhile the Webb Amendment, which would have assured that troops receive proper rest after combat stints, was blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate.


There are men and women dying in Iraq, and the top story is some sad joke of an athlete involved in a ridiculous crime about sports memoribilia?

If this is what we the people are asking for, then this is what we deserve.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Did I hear you shouting "Support our troops?"

John Warner defected, and has betrayed the troops, as have all the Republican Senators who voted against allowing troops to spend as much time at home, as they do in active combat duty. I say let 'em filibuster to see what they have to say, and then spread it like lime on their political carcases.

Mom, can I join the rally squad?

Hey boys and girls, want to help out your country and your president. Want to be known as the most patriotic on the block. Great! You can be part of the local, official White House rally squad.

It's easy. It's simple. It's fun. And you can meet boys and girls who think that it's great to be an American.

How can you join? Glad you asked. Just show up at the next Presidential rally in your town, and be prepared to smother the nasty pessimism of dirty hippies, withered pinkos, and disaffected veterans with patriotism and love. If you can shout "U-S-A" and mean it, you can be an official member of the rally squad.

Think of the career possibilities - CIA, FBI, Blackwater. The potential is endless.

Just study the attached manual, and be ready to take a urine test! And don't forget your brown shirt.

The formation of “rally squads” is a common way to prepare for demonstrators by countering their message. This tactic involves utilizing small groups of volunteers to spread favorable messages using large hand held signs, placards, or perhaps a long sheet banner, and placing them in strategic areas around the site.

These squads should be instructed always to look for demonstrators. The rally squad's task is to use their signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform. If the demonstrators are yelling, rally squads can begin and lead supportive chants to drown out the protestors (USA!,USA!,USA!). As a last resort, security should remove the demonstrators form the event site. The rally squads can include, but are not limited to, college/young republican organizations, local athletic teams, and fraternities/sororities.

For larger rallies, the squads should be broken up into groups of approximately 15-25 people. A squad should be placed immediately in front of the stage, immediately in forgot of the main camera platform, close to the cut platform, immediately behind the stage area (if people are being used as the backdrop), and at least one squad should be 'roaming' throughout the perimeter of the event to look for potential problems.

(Thanks to the mysterious Jon Shado for sharing this.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Joe Friday approach

At tonight's meeting of Middletown's Redevelopment Agency, agency member Shannon Brown made the revolutionary request of asking for something exotic called "useful information."

Brown who is an advocate for openness and transparency in government and the decisions made by government has worked for two months to create a complete, and thorough form for developers to use to report progress and financial issues. Brown has been working with city staffer Michiel Wackers to create the form, and Wackers has not made the improved form available because his "hard drive crashed" (that, of course, is the new version of, "my dog ate my homework."

Brown doggedly argued the benefits of the form which is now set to put in place within the next two meetings.

Addendum to going over the barricades

Thanks to Michael for pointing out this great first person account of the day.

Land of the free, home of the brave

Someone's got to ask the tough questions. Even ones John Kerry would rather not answer. A University of Florida journalism student named Andrew Meyer does and gets tasered and arrested as a result.

I can't decide what is most shocking about this story and video, the abridgement of free speech or the inexplicable timidity of John Kerry to control the situation. Watch the video, if you can stomach it, and listen to Kerry drone on through the entire event.

Also, watch this more poorly shot version just to hear the question that set the incident off.

Drinking the koolaid made from Blackwater

Perhaps for the first time in this long war, the American public will see how the Bush administration and the Pentagon are really fighting - with a mercenary army.

This firefight is an example of the progress made during the surge?

When the Roman Empire ruled, the German mercenary armies revolted, and helped create a 40 year decline which eventually destroyed the reach and power of the Romans.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Not a distraction, a kernel of truth framed well

Every conservative pundit worth his weight in bile scolded and the Democratic party for the "General Petraeus or General Betray-us" ad.

What was disheartening was when Frank Rich called it a distraction.

Lakoff explains how Rich got it wrong.

A million here, a million there and suddenly it adds up to a bloodbath

Some frighteningly large numbers have emerged from a new survey done by a British group which offers proof that the bloodbath the Bush administration predicts upon a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, is already upon us.

Of course, if your the kind who only reads the statistics of death when it applies to American bodies, there have been 3781 military deaths and 27,848 wounded.

Harder to play politics, be it Democratic, Republican, conservative or liberal, with those numbers rolling around in your head.

The case for Peter Case

Peter Case
Mon. October 15
Live In Concert
Buttonwood Tree
605 Main Street, Middletown CT
Tickets $20 to Benefit Gilead Community Services
TIX: 860-344-9674

Since I've moved into town, I've been itching to bring some of my favorite musicians here, and to begin to create another wrinkle in the town's music scene.

Our first concert with Michael Fracasso was a great success, and a lot of fun, so when the opportunity to host Peter Case became available, I jumped on it.

I've know Peter Case's music since his hit video/single A Million Miles Away, when he was fronting a band called the Plimsouls (who reunited for some West Coast gigs last year). A few years later he released a solo album which demonstrated that he was a young musician who could make an acoustic guitar rock, and who understood that rock and roll was born in the blues. The albums which followed were all notable, in particular The Man With the Blue Post-Modern Fragmented Neo-Traditionalist Guitar. The album's title may have spelt it's doom, but it is truly one of the great albums of the last twenty years, and as a result, out-of-print, for nearly a dozen years. Vanguard Records, which was discovering talented songwriters again, picked up on Peter and he created half a dozen fine albums for them, including a wonderous tribute to acoustic bluesman Mississippi John Hurt, called Avalon Blues for which Case was the executive producer. His latest, Let Us Know Praise Sleepy John, is not a set of blues covers, but a set of modern blues and laments by a man who has seen the world and knows its troubles well.

The Buttonwood Tree is a great and intimate way to see an artist up close. The money raised is split between the artist, the charity (Gilead Community Services - a mental health organization which serves Middlesex County), and the venue. Lucy and I take nothing from the gate but the joy of bringing this great music to town.

Join us, and help a good cause.

Creepy Joe's a front door man

I was wrong. Creepy Joe Lieberman arrived at his "Health Care Forum" this morning at the front door of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. The hastily called war protesters, assembled across the street began shouting immediately. Lieberman waved, smiled then entered the building to a chant of "No War."

When the group decided to enter the room where the forum was being held, we were informed that a "pre-registration" was required.

Incensed that Lieberman was using a public room, and the CTN network, West Hartford State Representative Dave McCluskey, got on the phone and raised hell until the group was given clearance to enter.

Gidget gets gagged

Sally Field, no stranger to controversy at awards ceremonies, was censored by the Fox Network when she began a short anti-war statement with the word, "goddamned."

Fox claims it was being sensitive to FCC rulings. Fox News claims it is fair and balanced.

All of this at an awards ceremony where a murderous mob clan is the subject of the show which received the most awards.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rich with meaning

Frank Rich of the New York Times has been on target for most of the Bush presidency, and though he has saved most of his venom for the man at the top, he certainly is not afraid to skewer the so-called "leaders" of the Democratic party when deserved.

This Sunday he is so on the money (though I think his ire with is misplaced), and well worth reading.

Going over the barricades

It was a moderate protest, to be sure, but a significant one for good reason. The protesters have decided to be a bit less polite.

It's been my contention that until protesters are willing to defy authority and move outside of the proscribed protest pens created for them by law enforcement agents, that no one will pay attention. So 150, peaceful protesters were arrested after Cindy Sheehan encouraged them to lay there bodies down and to be more agressive in their protests. And the story was printed nationwide. The press is more than willing to print whatever el presidente says, without question or comment, but it's been impossible to get them to pay attention to protest.

It's at the essence of civil disobedience to be willing to be arrested for the sake of a moral cause. It's what Thoreau wrote, and what Martin Luther King and Ghandi practiced.

I say this as a moral coward myself. I've not lain my body down for the cause, but watching the actions of Code Pink activists, and those who protested in Washington yesterday, is an inspiration.