Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Amy Farris, RIP

Any of us who saw Dave Alvin touring this summer with his Guilty Women tour were likely as impressed by the band as we were by Dave.

Sad news today, then, that fiddler, songwriter and wonderful musician Amy Farris has died. I met her in Los Angeles at a gig with I See Hawks In LA, and she was as charming and nice as she was musically talented.

Here's what her family posted on FB:

AMY FARRIS (violin, viola and harmony vocals for Dave Alvin & The Guilty
Women) passed away Saturday, Sept 26th after battling a long illness. A native
of Austin, Texas, Amy started playing violin at age ten. She is a vet of the
Austin music scene, playing with artists such as Ray Price, Alejandro
Escovedo, Kelly Willis, Bruce Robison and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Amy moved to
Los Angeles when Dave offered to produce her first solo CD Anyway, released
by Yep Roc in 2004. Along with Dave Alvin and Kelly Willis, Miss Farris has
also performed and/or recorded with Brian Wilson, John Doe, Exene Cervenka,
Stan Ridgway, Greg Dulli, Peter Case, and many others.

In leui of flowers, the family encourages you to send a donation in her
honor to Hungry For Music, Inc, a nonprofit effort to provide free musical
instruments to underprivileged children with a hunger to play.

Or send checks to:
Hungry for Music
6 Grant Ave. Suite 3
Takoma Park, MD 20912

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tweaking the laws for the sake of the bottom line

I found this essay by Russell Mokhiber via Susan Campbell's website at about the same time I finished reading Nick Reding's amazing book Methland, which describes how the crank epidemic has ravaged the country.

Mokhiber asks why a non-profit organization like ACORN is being punished for the wrongdoing of a few bad employees, and why major corporations with legions of rogue employees are left unharmed.

Interestingly, filmaker James O'Keefe who made the now infamous ACORN pimp/whore videos, has apparently lied about his "investigation."

Reding posits that America's meth epidemic was abetted by huge agricultural companies which bought small meatpacking and agricultural firms, cut wages drastically, and knowingly employed illegal aliens, and large pharmaceutical companies which fought the DEA to salvage the production of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, the main component of meth.

In both cases the power of corporate money, and the need to make a profit, twisted the laws for its own, bottom line, purposes.

The golden rule, rules. He who has the gold makes the rules.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good thing she's not a country singer

Sarah Palin went to a Hong Kong and bashed the president. When the Dixie Chicks did this to W, they got death threats and were blacklisted from radio stations and concert venues. The wingnut bloviators went ballistic (How dare she criticize the commander-in-chief at at time of war?) Don't hold your breath waiting for the right-wing commenters to slam their very own centerfold.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Some damned good reasons to call the teabaggers, "racist."

It shouldn't be a charge one cascades as a facile rejoinder to every wrong the lunkheaded rightwingers unleash.

But there's plenty of evidence, specific evidence, that racism is at the heart of a good many of the attacks on Barack Obama.

So when conservative shoutcasters, like our local watt-sucker, Jim Vicevich, express outrage at being called "racist," one merely has to point out how. Last week Vicevich was in the middle of a rant, during which he saw himself and his listeners ("my little mobsters" he calls them) as victims of a false charge of bigotry. In the same sentence he decried the charge, and implicated himself.

"Is it racist to challenge the policies of the 'young president," he screamed into the mic.

The "young president," is it? Once again, Jim Bob, you may as well call Obama, "boy."

He's black, and he's president. And he's a grown man. And for some people that just doesn't add up, does it, Jim?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jim Vicevich: one angry teabagger

The Hartford Courant today printed an editorial about several incidents which indicate a loss of civility in the public discourse. Say the editors:

The health care issue has seen incivility raised to a tactic — premeditated rudeness — in town hall meetings across the country, driven by hate radio and vituperate bloggers.

Local crackpot broadcaster, WTIC-AM's Jim Vicevich took that sentence personally, excoriating editors for not including a list of uncivil incidents during the Bush administration.

I, for one, am glad that Vicevich self-identifed with "hate radio," because the first step in recovery is recognizing that you have a problem.

Now Jim, if we could only convince you to admit that your undergrad degree in economics does not put you on par with Paul Krugman. Your 15 watt notion of the free-market is nothing more than a rehashing of the cribbed talking points of think-tanks, bloggers, pundits and lobbyists for the corporate giants who need nincompoops like you to do their bidding.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Teabaggers: great patriots, defenders of the Constitution, and brilliant spelers

Hey Vicevich. We'll stop calling you a teabagger when you stop calling it, "the Democrat Party" and stop calling him "the young president." (By the way, do you take one lump, or two?)

A march on Washington as pure, and white, as the driven snow.

The irrepressible Max Blumenthal with another object lesson.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Creep's "wrongness" unmasked

Thank you Keith Olbermann.


Your first impression about South Carolina Joe Wilson was correct. He's an opportunistic creep. His outburst during Obama's speech now seems more planned and premeditated than ever. Get this.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Sorry" was easy, but it ain't good enough

The boors are winning.

At the town hall meetings mob rule has prevented meaningful discussion and debate on health care.

And now, South Carolina's representative Joe Wilson decided to shout down President Barack Obama with a angry, "You lie."

So much for Southern gentility.

Where was Wilson when George Bush was standing in the same place and actually lying. Oh, that's right, George Bush isn't black.

Wilson has apologized to the President. And the President has wisely, graciously, if unsatisfyingly, accepted Wilson's apology, and wants to move on.

I feel as incomplete as Inigo Montoya (from the Princess Bride). As incomplete as when Obama allowed Creepy Joe™ Lieberman back into the fold.

The problem is not Wilson's accusation. If we were to ask ever elected official in the room last night to stand and clap if they had ever offered a political lie to the public, we would have witnessed a standing ovation. Politicians lie. All politicians lie. (In fact, we all lie, Joe.)

And, for me, it's not about the loss of protocol. I, for one, would have been happy if one spineless Democrat had occasionally stood up to George Bush or Dick Cheney.

No, Wilson could have shouted, "you're ugly" or "you're a socialist" or "you were born in Kenya," and they all would have had the same effect. Guys like Wilson seem to think it's okay to shout at President Barack Obama because he's considered an impostor. To them, he's a black man in a white man's office. And a lot of folks don't give him the respect that they've given other men, in the same office, who deserved far less respect.

What Wilson did was send a signal to the racists, and the gun nuts, and the whack jobs, and the crack pots, and the birthers, and the deathers, that the man sitting in the President's chair is doing so illegitimately.

What Wilson did is give these creeps one more reason to believe that Barack Obama is somehow not their president.

"He must be a liar," they repeat. "Joe Wilson said so, and he's a Congressman."

Right here in Connecticut this morning, WTIC wingnut radio host Jim Vicevich, who hilariously called himself "the voice of moderation" today, played the Wilson accusation 6 or 7 times in the short time I was listening. And then he argued himself that the president was not being truthful, but was using "weasel words." And then he entertained at least three callers who called Barack Obama a liar, and each time he amplified the accusation by "proving" that the President was not being completely upfront about the proposed health care bill (Vicevich claims he has had some really "smart people" with "advanced degrees" who read and really understand the bill - a former Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Vicevich's sister, and the RadioVice blogmaster Steve McGough, who happens to work for health insurance giant UnitedHealthcare).

ASIDE: Just for the record, Vicevich hung up on two people who disagreed with him and, then, only after they were safely off the phone, he spent two or three minutes berating them. Bully=coward. The "voice of moderation" indeed.

The echo is deafening, and the crackpots are soaking it up. Listen to them repeat the chants "liar, socialist, nazi, racist (yes, can you believe? "racist")." Vicevich is leading the chorus of malcontents, and goes so far as to continue to remind them of their constitutional right to bear arms. I think any broadcaster with an ounce of sense and responsibility has to understand that lighting a match while standing in a puddle of gasoline, is not a good or gracious or democratic idea.

BTW, Jim, lay off the "young president" bit unless you really want to commit to the racist intent of calling him "boy."

Tonight, Jim Vicevich is the "guest of honor" at a fundraiser for Republican candidates for mayor and common council in my hometown of Middletown CT. I can only say, that any of those candidates who attend the fundraiser have lost my respect, and likely my vote.

As for Wilson, "sorry" is just not good enough.

And perhaps the only satisfaction is knowing that his Democratic opponent for the seat raised more than $300,000 for his campaign in the hours after Wilson's outburst.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In our classrooms, any president but this one

Thank you Michael Wolff for confirming my suspicions.

Reports of my traffic gridlock have been greatly exaggerated

For weeks I've been hearing the ads. Rudy Giuliano bragging (what else is new?) about his "friends" like Colin Powell and Laura Bush and Joe Montana coming to Hartford to electrify, for $19.95 you during this terrible recession.

My years of watching late-night infomercials nudged my bullshit detector to the "on" position.

Well, it turns out that the only way these folks are coming to Hartford is "via Satellite." So, you are one of the great unwashed who has shelled out $19.95 to be in the same room with the motivators only to find you'll be watching them on a big TV screen.

But don't worry, because you'll also be able to enjoy the traffic gridlock that the promoters are predicting.

But my bullshit detectors are humming again, and I think that every editor in Hartford has switched theirs off, preferring to believe the press release that gridlock could actually happen in our lovely little Insurance City.

I think it's hype. Just the promoters trying to get a little more attention for their claim that the event has sold out.

I smell sell-out, all right. It's just of a different brand.

By the way, just who is Tamara Lowe?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Could it be nicer: the view from the stage

The lovely late-summer weather drove a huge crowd to the gates of the Rhythm and Roots Festival on Friday and Saturday. It seems as if today promises more of the same.

I've been emceeing, as I have all of the twelve years the festival has been held here, and the music is as good as it's ever been.

Highlights: The Lee Brothers and the Travellin' McCoury's doing a gospel jam to end Friday night's festivities. Member of the Frank family jamming in the workshop tent. Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole on the main stage, and Keith Frank insisting with his irresistible music that the crowd dance and sweat.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Morans abound

I don't know which has made me laugh more in the past two days, Jonathan Ligon's Facebook collection of Morons With Signs (Facebook membership required) or the discovery (thanks to Pete Lehndorff), of Awkward Family Photos.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Saved by the music

When I rolled out of bed at 4 AM this morning in preparation for the radio show I had some dark thoughts. Am I too old to be doing this? Couldn't I use the extra few hours of sleep? Was I really excited about getting back to spinning the music?

These thoughts haunted me the entire ride to the radio station, and I thought, really thought, maybe it's the time to retire.

When I arrived, after two weeks of vacation, there were at least 80 new CDs waiting to be logged in. I was able to manage doing the data base log-in for forty of them, which means printing 40 labels, and affixing all of them, plus at least two other stickers, to the CDs and cases. That's well over 120 stickers.

Out of necessity, some of this busy work leaked over into the beginning of the show, so I decided to spin new music until I got the job done.

It took me 40 minutes, and in that time, my dark mood was blown clear out of the studio by the quality of music by groups and musicians I had never heard before - Elliott Brood, Cara Dillon, Madison Violet, Allen Thompson and The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank.

I was smiling, and filled with the hope that only new music can generate.

I won't be retiring soon. I want to spin more of these songs.