Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's not a hearing problem, it's a listening problem

So if anyone tells you there's still a lot of support for this war, just tell them it's Rush, Bill, Michelle, Dick, Sean, Ann Joe, everyone at Fox, and five or six other Americans.

The rest of us, well...

Gallery - Jesus Fries

Blood for oil

Ann Wright makes it clear at Truthout.

Blood is thicker than water. But the reasons for war are as transparent as oil. Thanks to Pete T. for the reference.

Raising the barn

It's unfortunate that the only recollection most of us have of barn raising is the scene from Witness, the Harrison Ford movie.

The honorable tradition of helping a neighbor build a barn is still felt in organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

But as musicians attempt to find new models for creating, performing and distributing their songs, the idea of barn raising has been, well, raised. And who better than folk musicians to revive a folk tradition.

Mark Erelli, a gifted Boston singer-songwriter, is preparing to record his next album, and he's giving us all the opportunity to help him build it from the ground up. I'll let him explain the details himself, but it's a simple concept. And maybe when it comes time for you to build your barn, he'll take up the hammer.

Creepy Joe does "the bustling Iraq market walk"

from McLatchy:

Then Lieberman walked in, wearing a pair of sunglasses newly purchased from an Iraqi market that the military had taken him to in southeast Baghdad. He'd been equipped with a helmet and flak vest when he toured the market, which he described as bustling.


Next to him, Spc. Will Hedin, 21, of Chester, Conn., thought about what he was going to say.

"We're not making any progress," Hedin said, as he recalled a comrade who was shot by a sniper last week. "It just seems like we drive around and wait to get shot at."

But as he waited two chairs down from where Lieberman would sit, Hedin said he'd never voice his true feelings to the senator.

"I think I'd be a private if I did," he joked. "It's just more troops, more targets."

Maybe Joe could share some useful information with them, like how he avoided military service when there was a draft by using three deferments.

Or using his Yale credentials, maybe he could share a quote from Shakespeare's Falstaff, from Henry IV, Part 1:

Tut, tut, good enough to toss, food for powder, food for powder; they’ll fill a pit as well as better. Tush, man, mortal men, mortal men.

Concerts of the week

Here in the Northeast, the festival season gets underway in earnest this week, and next week there's a virtual explosion of music.

The Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival
May 31 - June 3
Preston, CT

In its 30th year, this popular festival continues to prove the timeless attraction of this old time music. This year, the schedule is chockablock with exciting young string bands like the Greencards, Cadillac Sky, the Infamous Stringdusters and Chris Thile's Nickel Creek offshoot, How to Grow a Band. In addition there are great acts like the Dry Branch Fire Squad, Rhonda Vincent (that's her in the photo above) and the Gibson Brothers. A good place to fill your ears with grass.

Mike Arnone's Crawfish Fest
June 2-3
Sussex Fairgrounds, Augusta NJ

Truth be known, Mike Arnone shared his jambalaya secrets with me. This man can cook, and he has good taste in music too. This is the first weekend in three (next week it's Blast from the Bayou at Strawberry Park, the week following week it's the Great Connecticut Cajun/Zydeco Music and Arts Festival in Moodus) of great Louisiana music within driving distance. This year Mike brings Dr. John, Geno Delafose, the Pine Leaf Boys, Sonny Landreth, Cowboy Mouth and more to his adopted home in the Northeast.

Get your feet off the computer

So, while Steve Jobs and Apple will introduce the iPhone and iTV, Bill Gates and Microsoft are working on a computer screen in a coffee table. I can see the Apple guy, PC guy ad now.

PC guy carries a bulky, antique coffee table onto a white set where Apple Guy is standing.
APPLE GUY: Moving out of your apartment?
PC GUY: No this is the latest. What do you think?
APPLE GUY: I don't know, I'm more into Bauhaus.
PC GUY: It's great I don't need a TV or computer. It's all right here.
APPLE GUY: (pulling out his iPhone then walking off set) Wanna get a cup of coffee and and catch the game?
PC GUY: (bending over and dragging the table) I'll be right with you. I take two sugars.

All I can think about are those huge color TVs in massive wood consoles that line the curbs of our country on bulk pickup day.

By the way, there was an historic reunion of Gates and Jobs at the D conference yesterday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Colin gets it right

Colin McEnroe has been on the top of his game the past hour of his show. He began by talking about the booing of Miss USA in Mexico, then segued to "we are the country who tortures people, after all."

When challenged by Gary from South Glastonbury (so perverse a rhyme it deserves a song), who was clinging to the delusion that our torture is not sanctioned in writing, as that of al-Qaida's. Colin blasted him with a dozen examples of why what he was saying was ridiculous, and was kind, firm and not apologetic in the process. It was masterful, though the koolaid drinker on the phone was never convinced.

This is liberal talk radio at its best. Colin McEnroe at his best.

I'm usually listening when he's in the horrible Sports A Trois segment, or deconstructing the latest episode of The Sopranos. Neither of which I can bear. I was glad I was out in my car listening just now.

Explicating the great liberal conspiracy

I know, it's a sickness. But I was in my car during the conservative a.m. hours and listening to Shout Down/Hang Up Connecticut on WTIC AM. Buddy V and a guest, Evan Maloney were talking about Evan's new documentary film, Indoctrinate U. It deals with the perceived loss of freedom of expression on college campuses due to what the directors of the film feel is an autocratic liberal cabal in America's university classroom and administrative offices.

I haven't seen the film, but will, but in their discussion, I've come to a few conclusions:

1. The film directors equate criticism of conservative thought, arguments against conservative thought and protests against conservative thought as repression. In fact, it's the opposite of repression, it's free speech.
2. The film directors feel that student who are afraid to speak their mind in classes are being repressed. The fear of being challenged is simple a fear of being unprepared to defend their thoughts.
3. I have no doubt that universities are filled with liberal professors and administrators. It's the kind of folks you expect to find in education - willing to give up a huge paycheck to educate others, and to live the life of the mind. To me, it means that really smart people are likely to come to the conclusion that liberal ideas make sense. One could also say that the upper ranks of corporations and the military are filled with conservative thinkers, and that in those organizations liberal ideas are suppressed. It's a specious argument either way.
4. There are more than 4,000 colleges in the U.S. I'd love to see the statistical breakdown that proves this liberal conspiracy exists. Likely it doesn't.

In the process of this discussion, the two geniuses also quacked about how liberal Hollywood was making it difficult to get distribution of this film.

Only goes to show that creative industries are more likely filled with liberal thinkers too. Who would have guessed.

Strawberry Park Forever - Radio Contest

Strawberry Park Blast from The Bayou

Congratulations to Steve from Hartford who won the day passes to the festival. Two more sets of passes will be available. One on Pine Grove Blues, tomorrow morning from 6-9 a.m. and one on Monday's Conscious Evolution, 6-9 a.m. Pete and Jim will decide how to give those tix away, and it won't be through this blog.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The swallows of St. Sebastian

Good friends Sue and Steve Allison came by for dinner last evening, and Lucy fixed some of her great gorgonzola pesto. Just before we ate a rhubarb pie that the boys and I made from rhubarb grown from a root I inherited from my Mom, we got to talking about the swallows who return to our neighborhood in Middletown, CT for a few weeks each year.

When the weather gets warm, and the light doesn't completely drain from the sky until almost 9, the sky above my house fills with the collective, tommy-gun chirping of several hundred swallows. It begins at about 8:30 with a swallow or two, and within four or five minutes the sky is alive with crescents on the wing, as the swallows dip and soar at alarming speed, through the indigo dusk. What begins as a counterclockwise eddy of hellbent parentheses, soon becomes a full-fledged whirlpool of careening feathers, with the chimney of St. Sebastian's church as the centerpoint of the vortex. Then after another eight or ten minutes of this dizzying, song-filled celebration, the birds begin to dip, one at a time, then in groups of three, five and ten down into the narrow chimney, with a slight flutter of wings to parry the plummet. In thirty seconds, only a few stragglers remain, and they soon find the flue, and disappear for the night. The evening is quiet once again, save for the roar of hot gases through an illegal straight pipe on a passing Harley. And the stars fight bravely to be seen above the glare of Main Street lights.

The show over, mosquito-bitten we ate rhubarb pie, and wondered if this amazing dance wasn't a metaphor for our own repetitive patterns.

Just because it falls out of our your mouth, Jim, doesn't mean it's the truth

Nor do sources like the Washington Times, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Swiftvets, Sean Hannity, the New York Post or Powerline add a scintilla of credibility to your flights of fancy.

Vicevich, continuing in the neo-con tradition of repeating lies until they sound like the truth, spewed, again, this morning, the myth that Nancy Pelosi demanded, and indeed, uses, a private jet to travel to her home district.

Never fear the truth Jim, it shall set you free...of your delusions.

There's a lot for which you can criticize Nancy Pelosi, buddy, this isn't one of them.

I'll sleep when I'm dead

This book is fabulous, and irresistible. Warren Zevon was a certifiable tortured artist. As a rock and roller, his work smashed cliches. His ex-wife, Crystal, has assembled a set of interlocking interviews (because I edit video, I understand just how difficult it is to create a cohesive story from volumes of interview transcripts), which is in turns, compelling, hilarious, tragic and ultimately, uplifting. You can understand how easy it was to have a love/hate relationship with Warren Zevon, and, in the end, how the "love" portion of the equation outweighed the hate, when Zevon is lost, finally, to the "bad luck," he so sought to avoid. This is one of the best music biographies I've read.

Ironies abound

In speeches on Memorial Day weekend, the President, at Arlington, and the Vice President, at West Point, hoist themselves on their own petards.

Bush, standing amidst rows of white crosses actually said: "This is our country's calling. It's our country's destiny."

Earlier in the speech he noted, without considering Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, illegal wiretapping, free-speech zones, or national security letters: "The greatest memorial to our fallen troops cannot be found in the words we say or the places we gather. The more lasting tribute is all around us -- a country where citizens have the right to worship as they want, to march for what they believe, and to say what they think."

At West Point, Cheney guilelessly admitted the incompetence of the administration: "It is rare in West Point history for a class to join during wartime, and to graduate in the midst of that same war." And then rehashed the old mantra of "9/11 and Saddam Hussein":"We're fighting a war on terror because the enemy attacked us first, and hit us hard."

In describing "the enemy" he only seemed to be drawing a self-portrait: "These are men who glorify murder... Their cruelty is not rebuked by human suffering, only fed by it. They have given themselves to an ideology that rejects tolerance, denies freedom of conscience, and demands that women be pushed to the margins of society...(they are) defined entirely by their hatreds...(they) know what they want and they will stop at nothing to get it. By force and intimidation, they seek to impose a dictatorship of fear, under which every man, woman, and child lives in total obedience to their ideology...They view the world as a battlefield and ...And now they have chosen to make Iraq the central front in their war against civilization.

And, as has been noted, once again diminishes some of the most important agreements in our democracy: "As Army officers on duty in the war on terror, you will now face enemies who oppose and despise everything you know to be right, every notion of upright conduct and character, and every belief you consider worth fighting for and living for. Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States. Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away. "

The full text of the speeches are here and here.

The party of the ass

Memorial Day has gotten me thinking about the Democratic failure to put an end to the war in Iraq (if not the entire Bush administration). While the electoral polls showed a widespread dissatisfaction with the the way the war is being executed, and the current polls amplify that decision, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans seem to be listening. While it's difficult to understanding the intractability of the Bush administration, we have come to expect the indignant stubbornness of the worst president ever. Why the Republican party continues to follow their ridiculous leader is beyond comprehension. Why the Democrats have not mounted a more robust resistance strikes a far more sinister note.

Cities and states across the country have called for impeachment, yet the Democratic leadership in Washington makes excuses about how impeachment is not good for the country (read, not good for my re-election).

My own cynical view is that despite the dire consequences of death, mutilation and destruction, the Democrats are actually savoring the war as "Bush's war" and the "Republican war," because it ensures a Democratic majority in congress in a way that no TV commercial campaign could.

Late on Monday I read this moving, thought-provoking piece in the Washington post by veteran and columnist Andrew Bacevich. (Thanks to Michael Gill for sending it along) His conclusion is even more depressing. The war is with us for the worst of reasons - the influence of money, and the usual way our brokedown democracy functions.

Then came news that Cindy Sheehan is resigning from the Democratic party and the peace movement in disgust with the Democrats' bait and switch campaign.

It's time to ask our elected leaders to do more than worry about their own skins, though is seems hopeless, since this is at the core of how they operate.

Where have you gone Ralph Nader, a nation turns it's lonely eyes to you.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Something George W won't read

The Sunday New York Times editorial section was particularly instructive reading for Memorial Day, from Maureen Dowd's assesment of the Bush war tautology, to Frank Rich on the U.S. abandonment of Iraqui war refugees, to the editorial board's indictment of the rooster-in-chief.

Timidity won't bring peace

Reflecting backwards, as one is wont to do on Memorial Day, you can wonder what made John Kerry so afraid to be a true anti-war candidate. And you might wonder, in reading this, how different a song John Edwards now sings.

A real Republican?

Presidential candidate Ron Paul calls himself the only true conservative in Congress.

After the Parade

After the Parade
Dan Bern
from the album My Country II

I shot two men in a military car
On a road in a country I can't pronounce
I saw their eyes when I pulled the trigger
Then checked the back seat for the body count
I know I'm lucky, I could have been
The one beneath the clover
But who do you think will push my chair
After the parade is over

A three star general at my back
And another one up at the microphone
They call me a hero
And sing 'say can you see'
To the pole where the flag is flown
Everyone stands when my name is called
I alone must sit in the god damn sun, and
Who do you think will push my chair
After the parade is done

Maybe I'll go to college
GI bill
GI bill
Maybe I'll go into politics
Yes I will
Yes I will

I'm glad for the disability benefits
I'm glad for the medals and the ribbons and the songs
I hope the blisters on my fingers
Turn into calluses before too long
I'm glad my mother could be here today
I'm glad somebody drove her
And maybe she will push my chair
After the parade is over
Maybe she will push my chair
After the parade is over

Saturday, May 26, 2007

At least they learned something at UMASS

The students play the trump card.

I heard a right wing zealot on WTIC AM

I know it's not unusual. You can turn in most any time of day or night and hear folks who have lost the use of reason like Rush Limbaugh, Jim Vicevich, Ray Dunaway, Sean Hannity. But it was during afternoon drive time, and Colin McEnroe, who is normally the only voice of sanity on a station which seems to be lost in an infinite regress of conservative double talk, was absent because of an appearance in "Singin' In the Rain" at the Goodspeed. It was Chris Healy, head of the Connecticut Republicans, who, I think, has appeared on the air with Colin - but in Colin's absence, this replacement announcer decided to pull a Bill O'Reilly. (By the way, Colin's insistence that letting others who disagree with him be allowed to sit next to him and share a mic demonstrates a fairness totally absent with the Limbaughs and the Viceviches of the world).

I had just finished listening to Warren Zevon sing "Lawyers, Guns and Money" and I flipped on WTIC for the last few minutes of the ride home, and I hear this voice talking about how the Democrats who voted against the war funding bill got it wrong, and how we were fighting a war between civilizations, and that liberals better understand the threat of terrorists, and I began shouting at the radio.

Colin, please keep bringing these opposing voices to your show. But don't leave them alone with the microphone.

He didn't like Valley Folk, but he likes to honor liars

UMASS chancellor John Lombardi does exactly what he pleases, whether it's the sanctioning of the cancellation of a long-running and popular folk music show from the University station's airwaves, or awarding a war criminal an honorary degree.

Friday, May 25, 2007

But it's not funny...

Yes I laughed, but I wanted to puke.

Those calls helped

Rosa Delauro, Chris Murphy and Joe Courtney apparently anguished over their votes for war funding. Why? Did they really expect there to be something in the bill that would warrant their support? Or did they stand, finger in the wind, to see which way the political breeze was blowing? In the case of the latter, the calls we all made ("pelted" is the descriptive used in the Courant), had an effect.

I wish, however, that Delauro, and especially Murphy who owes so much of his election success to the fact that he was as anti-war as Nancy Johnson was pro-war, would have had the courage of John Larson and Chris Dodd, and have come out early, hard and strong against a bill that is a capitulation to a deceitful administration.

But they are politicians, aren't they. I guess I shouldn't expect them to act like statesmen and stateswomen.

And we don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Right Bob?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

So you never watched the Flintstones?

The Creation Museum is open soon for you geniuses who are still denying evolution. It's in Kentucky. Don't fall off the edge of the earth on your drive there.

The House will be Crowded

Advance sale tickets for the Crowded House reunion tour just went on sale for the Calvin Theater in Northampton. You've got to join up at the Iron Horse website to be eligible to purchase. Then they send you an email.

They play the Calvin on August 4. They play at one of the casinos the day before.

One of my favorite pop bands ever. Terrific in concert. A reason to smile on this grim earth.

Songs for memorial day

You'll hear a lot of the Star Spangled Banner, and some Souza marches if you go to the parades. And likely the radio will be playing some patriotic country crap.

If you want some moving music, that will motivate you to work against the need to celebrate Memorial Day (without war we wouldn't need it), check these out.

Pete Seeger

Bring 'Em Home
Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

Jason Isbell (formerly of Drive-by Truckers)
Dress Blues

Richard Thompson
'Dad's Gonna Kill Me

Dan Bern
After the Parade Is Over

The Pogues/Eric Bogle
The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Eric Bogle
Green Fields of France

Mark Erelli

Bruce Springsteen

Devils and Dust

Phil Ochs/Black 47/Richard Thompson
I Ain't Marchin' Anymore

Buffy Ste. Marie
Universal Soldier

Roy Zimmerman


Eliza Gilkyson
Highway 9

Iris Dement
There's A Wall In Washington

Michael Jerling
Long Black Wall

Remind them who they represent

Call your Congressional reps today and tell them to vote against war funding. And if they don't, shout nasty things at them during Memorial Day parades.

I called Rosa Delauro's office two days running and spoke to some mumbling assistant who, when I asked about Rosa's stance on war funding, I was told, "You'll find out soon enough." I couldn't believe it either.

Rosa Delauro(undecided): 202-225-3661
Chris Murphy(undecided): 202-225-4476
John Larson (against war funding): 202-225-2265
Joe Courtney: 202-225-2076
Chris Shays (for war funding):202-225-5541

Chris Dodd (against war funding) 202-224-2823
Joe Lieberman (lost cause)

Remember, every call from a constituent resounds like a thousand voices.

Senate Majority leader, Judas Iscariot

Keith Olbermann was as pissed as I was yesterday. Only he was more eloquent.

Is a speech really news?

Bush was in Connecticut yesterday. In so far as a presidential visit warrants coverage, particularly when he was greeted by 1,000 anti-war protestors (I use "greeted" loosely as he made sure his route never crossed their path), then it's news.

But, for years I've wondered how newsworthy a political speech is, unless the facts therein are vetted and analyzed by the press.

This morning's coverage of the speech by The Hartford Courant did a bit of analysis:

His speech bound the Iraq war and al-Qaida into a noxious matrimony. Without mentioning that there was no al-Qaida in Iraq until the U.S. invasion, he focused on the two being inseparable.

But Bush trotted out his list of "prevented attacks," a list he has used before, and it was filled with impossible to prove tales of Osama bin Laden trying to establish an al- Qaida outpost in Iraq from which to attack the U.S. and other targets. He failed to mention that al-Qaida didn't exist in Iraq until we got there and created the perfect fertile soil in which it could bloom.

So, along with the cute photo on page 1, should the Courant have printed a complete list of speech inaccuracies? Otherwise, it's the same as printing a White House press release verbatim.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I protest

In early reporting from protests in New London today during Bush's appearance at the Coast Guard graduation, the AP (via The Hartford Courant) indicated in the lead that "Hundreds of anti-war demonstrators and war supporters lined the road to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday," giving the impression that there were as many on both sides of the issue.

When you read deeper into the article you realize that there were a handful of pro-Bush, pro-war supporters, and perhaps a thousand anti-war demonstrators. Further frustrating is the video which accompanies the AP report which is shot from the pro-war supporters viewpoint, and which features only one interview, with a supporter of the president. Watching the video closely, you can see the disparity. A small cluster of pro-war folks looks across the street at a large group of anti-war protesters.

Some might say the media is trying to be balanced. Ha. Those more cynical, myself included, might say that the AP is trying to portray a pro-war movement that is as strong as the anti-war sentiment. If they did something as simple as read the polls, they'd know it isn't reflecting the truth - especially here in Connecticut.

The good news is that a lot of anti-war feeling was demonstrated. The bad news - Bush trotted out the same old fairy tales, with the same old boogie man. He even had the nerve to repeat the tall tale about the planned attack on the LA library tower. Hello, is anyone in the media paying attention?

Do you want to know a secret?

George W declassified information just yesterday so he could scare bejesus out of the gullible American public today. My grandmother had clairvoyant tendencies - she could see the future in her dreams. I only dreamed about a long dreary trip to Australia last night, but here are my clairvoyant thoughts about the declassified material:

1. It's so secret that it won't be verifiable, because that's a secret too
2. It'll show that Osama and the gang are only steps behind us, waiting with a giant club
3. It won't tell us where Osama is, though it will tell us what he's thinking
4. It will be definitive proof that we need to stay and fight in Iraq
5. It will be the lastest, brazen lie in the series that this president has foisted on a public and a press devoid of curiousity
6. It will show us that there are evil people out there who hate us and our freedom
7. It will be designed to get the cadets at the Coast Guard Academy, and their families, cheering. Since none of them will ever ship out to Iraq.
8. Though this top secret was easy to declassify because it bolsters some Rovian plot, the Justice Department emails that would clear up the attorney-general imbroglio will remain redacted to protect us from the truth.

I get 5 points for a correct prediction. Three points for a partial. And no points for a wrong guess. If I score 20 or below, I will buy little Georgie a plate of Oysters in Perkins Cove this summer.

Concert of the week

Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem

Thursday, May 24, 7 pm, Russell Library Courtyard, Broad St. Middletown

With a great new album about to hit the racks, Rani and the band play a hometown gig in a venue so small that you'd better show up plenty early. It will be crowded. But at least it's free.


When a secondary novelist, musician or film director produces, respectively a bad book, album or film, criticism of the failed attempt is almost unnecessary. However, if Updike, Springsteen or Scorcese produces a bomb, the contempt for the failed work should be significant.

Such is the case with the Democratic congress. After a much ballyhooed "standoff" with the White House about funding the war in Iraq; after a single presidential veto, this body has capitulated by indicating that it will produce a bill for funding a war without a call for deadlines for withdrawal, or even substantive goals for progress in Iraq. The Democratic congress has capitulated, allowing Bush to "get away with it" once again. Time to change the symbol of the Democratic party from the ass to the squid.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The liar sleeps

Uh-huh. Another in the line of successful songs based on the original hit "Mbube" by Solomon Linda and the Evening birds of South Africa.

Impeach cobbler

Impeachment is such a rare occurance that it's still hard to believe that Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a blow job. Harder still to believe that Clinton was only the second president ever impeached (Andrew Johnson was the first). Both presidents were acquitted by the Senate.

Impeachment is a two-step process. When articles of impeachment are passed by the House of Representatives, a government official, so named, is considered impeached. In order to be removed from office, an official has to be convicted by the Senate.

As rare an act as impeachment is, one has to be amazed at how often it's mentioned in regards to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales these days.

That being said, the President is addressing the graduating class of the Coast Guard academy in New London on Wednesday, and a large-scale anti-war, pro-impeachment rally is planned beginning in downtown New London at 9 a.m. and concluding with a march to the gates of the Coast Guard academy. Will the President pay any notice. Likely not, but the press, and the rest of the country will. Mark your calendar.

The family business

Bois Sec Ardoin died at 91 in Eunice Louisiana last Wednesday. He was playing music almost to the end, and young musicians continued to visit him in his final years, hoping to learn the ins and outs (no pun intended) of Creole accordion. I saw him play several times, and feel honored to have, when fiddler Canray Fontenot was still alive. They were a link to the ancient creole sounds they learned from their own parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Bois Sec was cousin to the most renowned Creole musician, Amede´ Ardoin. Maybe the most interesting aspect of the whole story is that Bois Sec's sons, and grandsons have been successful musicians. This sense of family tradition in Louisiana music is one of the things that makes it most interesting. A great old performance here.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

If You Gave Jerry Falwell an Enema He Could be Buried in a Matchbox

This comment by the maddeningly brilliant Christopher Hitchens on the laughably balanced Hannity and Colmes made my weekend. Thanks to Susan Forbes Hansen for forwarding it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A politician is an arse upon which everyone has sat except a man

Just when you thought that a Democratic house might be better than a Republican house. The uppermost thought in every politician's mind, is him or herself.

Concerts of the Week

April Verch - Friday May 18
East Hartford Cultural Center

Verch is a virtuoso Canadian fiddler and stepdancer who can put a torch to a traditional number, and inject new life into a contemporary cover. While you're at the website, check out all the great concerts booked at this venue.

Kris Delmhorst and Ana Egge, Friday May 18

Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton Mass

Two talented female singer-songwriters on a single bill.

Cowboy Junkies and Teddy Thompson, Sunday May 20
Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton MA

Lovely and lethargic Canadian folk-rock from the legends of roots meditative music, and folk-pop from the son of Richard and Linda, from whom he has inheirited the best of both worlds.

Night Rally

I love musicians, because I love music, and you can't have one without the other. But I'm one of those who has always been bothered by musicians who have "sold out" to corporate advertisers. Whether it's the Clash selling jeans for Levi's, Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison selling allergy medicine, Led Zep selling Caddy's or the Rolling Stones selling whatever anyone with enough bucks wants them to sell. So I was sorely disappointed to find that the only way I could buy a ticket on the latest Elvis Costello tour was to own a Visa card. And then Mr. Costello himself is featured prominently in a Visa advertising campaign. Maybe he's hard up for cash. Maybe Diana Krall insists on a certain lifestyle. Maybe he's not angry anymore.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bully in the beltway

It's occured to me that the Bush administration is filled with people who could be described as bullies. I think this extends to the entire set of punditry who defend and enable this lot of thugs. So I went to a website which describes bullying activity in school-age children, and while it's not a one-to-one ratio or characteristics. It sure is analogous. (from: "Bullying At School" by Dan Olweus).

Here's the list, and the interlinear translation for the Bush crew and minions.

Have a relatively positive view of themselves
- The Bushies never apologize for anything

Reasonably popular at school, with decreasing popularity through junior high
- Elected twice, with plummeting approval polls

Physically stronger than classmates and victims
- A huge defense budget, and not afraid to blow through it

Physically effective in play activities, sports and fights (applies particularly to boys)
- Except when it comes to hunting, and routing out real terrorists

Have strong needs to dominate and subdue other students
- Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo

Are hot-tempered, easily angered, impulsive, with low frustration tolerance
- I'm the decider

Have difficulty conforming to rules and tolerating adversities or delays
- Have difficulty conforming to the Constitution

May try to gain advantage by cheating
- WMD's, Haliburton, Abramoff, Florida

Are generally oppositional, defiant, and aggressive towards adults and may be frightening also to adults
- Collateral damage

Are seen as tough, hardened and show little empathy with students who are victimized
- Collateral damage,

Are NOT anxious, insecure
- Attaboy Brownie!

Are at increased risk, long-term, for criminal behavior, alcoholism and drug abuse
- Some boys never grow up

Bullies are not "soft inside" and "hard outside". They are aggressive, self-confident and mean
- Do the names Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Rove, Ashcroft ring a bell?

These are men who have encouraged others to spill their blood for home, country and patriotism, but whom, with few exceptions, have never done their part. These are men who are afraid to appear in forums where their views might be questioned. Hell, the president has been afraid to throw out the first ball of the season for the past two openers of Major League Baseball. Finally, these are men, and they are generally men, who never see themselves as capable of mistakes, and are willing to point the finger of blame at whomever is closest.

Excitable Boy

It's a bit of a resurrection for Warren Zevon. The gifted and demented singer and songwriter died a public death with his final recording session being filmed by VH1. Now it seems like the springtime is blooming Zevon. Three of his albums have been remastered and released with addition cuts by Rhino. His long-suffering ex Crystal has released a biography, and New West just issued Preludes, a collection of Zevon rarities. For a Zevon fan like me, it's an opportunity to re-examine his genius and to dig out the old tunes. You'll be hearing a bit of Zevon over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Chickenhawk on Memorial Day

No one can argue that local Connecticut conservative (I don't buy the self-proclaimed libertarian label)talk show host Jim Vicevich, isn't vocal about his support for the troops, and his support of support for the troops. So it's puzzling that he spent 10 minutes this morning haranguing Democratic presidential nominee John Edwards for encouraging his supporters to support the troops during the Memorial Day weekend and beyond. Of course, Edwards urges his constituency to show their support of the troops by asking for an end to the war. This, I think, boils the gizzard of any true chickenhawk. Vicevich was so incensed that he accused Edwards of exploiting the troops for political reasons because Edwards was asking folks to send packages of food and gifts to the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe Vicevich is right. But then he would have to admit, that he, himself, is an exploiter of the troops. He would have to acknowledge that all his rah-rah for the "mission" in Iraq, all his public handwringing about letting the troops do their job, all his jingoistic flag-waving histrionics are about developing an audience. It's about getting ratings. It's about winning advertisers. It's about getting a paycheck. Now that's what I call exploitation. Braaaaaaawk.

Creepy Joe Strikes Again

This from my cousin (really!) Chris Cillizza at the WPost.

The real cost of the war

A most interesting (depressing) analysis of the real cost of the war in Iraq done by Bill Moyer's for his Bill Moyers' Journal. You can find it with transcript at

Swamp 'n' Roll

Just finished watching the latest TV installments of Swamp 'n' Roll, the great Cajun and Zydeco music TV show hosted by Todd Ortego and his sidekick Dr. Feelgood. One of the shows was filmed live at the Dewey Balfa Heritage Week at Chicot State Park, just North of Ville Platte Louisiana. It features the Pine Leaf Boys and Wilson Savoy in a passable imitation of Paul Daigle. So I called Todd at his workplace KBON-FM where he hosts a weekly radio show, and is also chief ad salesman. Come to find out, you can watch Swamp 'n' Roll live on KDCG, and listen to Todd's radio show on KBON. And while you're on the KDCG website you'll find you can also tune into some other interesting shows like Bayou Boogie with Herman Fuselier, the weekly simulcast of Rendezvous Des Cajuns, and a zydeco show called Squeezebox hosted by Alex Guillory and Dustin Cravins. BTW, Todd is also proprietor of The Music Machine, in Eunice, Louisiana. One of the last places in South Central Louisiana where you can find local music CDs.

As for the Pine Leaf Boys new album Blues De Musicien, it's wild and raw and wonderful and a complete reflection of what these boys sound like live. It's filled with two-steps, waltzes and blues, some ancient and some original by a group of young musicians who get it. Get it? Good.

Monday, May 14, 2007

La renaissance acadian

Today, I received two snailmail packages. One from Arhoolie Records , containing the brand new Pine Leaf Boys album, and the other, from my good friend Todd Ortego from Eunice Louisiana, host of an amazing cable show in Louisiana which features local musicians. In this case, it's two shows. One featuring, The Pine Leaf Boys . Another featuring Geno Delafose. Such serendipity leads me to warn you. The next generation of amazing Cajun and Creole musicians is already causing a stir in the prairies and swamplands of South Louisiana. Bands and musicians like the Pine Leaf Boys, Feufollet, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, Corey Ledet and Cedric Watson, the Red Stick Ramblers and more. In some cases these are sons and daughters of renowned musicians like those in the Savoy and Michot families. In other cases they are simply young, talented and enthusiastic practitioners of this music that is as ancient as it is new. The scene centers on the "world famous" Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette, where the young, attractive and ready-to-dance gather to these raucous revivalists. A good sampling of these musicians will be through these parts this summer at festivals and clubs. Miss them at your peril because they are filled with a youthful vibrance that's irresistable.

Strawberry Park Blast From the Bayou

June 7-10
with Pine Leaf Boys, Corey Ledet, Travis Matte

Iron Horse, Northampton Mass
Wed June 6
The Pine Leaf Boys

Rhythm and Roots, Ninigret RI
Aug. 31 - Sept 2
The Red Stick Ramblers
Corey Ledet
The Pine Leaf Boys

BTW, a short review of the video and CD to follow.