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Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Mexico's Immigration Problem

A lot has been written about undocumented immigrants from Mexico entering the United States and putting a strain on our health care and other public services while often failing to pay their full share of taxes. Less common is an expose of Americans crossing the Rio Grande to freeload off the Mexican people.

But, a few weeks ago, the Star Tribune provided just such a story. It was a profile of one of my favorite musicians, Martin Zellar of the Gear Daddies. Zellar had been a staple of the local music scene since the early '90s. I have been to many of his shows over the years have never been disappointed. Like many musicians, he is also a standard issue lefty and even did a stint as Chairman of the Mower County Democratic Party.

A few years ago, Zellar went into semi-retirement and moved his family to Mexico - mostly to escape the harsh American winters, but there were other advantages:

"The way the economy works down there is perfect for me. There's no mortgage. Everyone buys their houses with cash. The property taxes are really low. There's no homeowner's insurance because it's all concrete, so nothing burns. Financially, it makes perfect sense for a musician."

That does sound like a leftist musician's dream (except the low property taxes part). But that's not all - there is also the socialized health care! This came in handy when Zellar's wife became pregnant while in Mexico:

"I am self-employed, so that means we're self-insured," said Zellar, who still pays U.S. and Minnesota taxes on his local earnings, by the way. "We would have been bankrupt 100 times over if we had been doing all this in the U.S."

Under Mexico's socialized health care services, Carolyn was able to get the weekly sonograms and numerous other tests required by her high-risk pregnancy for about $75 per visit, Zellar said. The delivery, a C-section with several doctors involved, cost only about $5,000. And Zellar swears the facilities, in the nearby city of Querétaro, were "nicer than what we had when the boys were born in St. Paul," and the doctors "unbelievably great."

Another good thing about Mexico: if there had been complications, they were only a short plane ride away from the world's best regarded health care system (no, not that third world St. Paul health system, I'm referring to Cuba, of course).

But who is paying for this world class socialized medicine? Sure, Mexico doesn't have to finance Maple Grove mansions for their fat-cat health care executives, but I'm assuming that even Mexican doctors and sonogram technicians need some money to live on. Zellar clearly isn't paying - he notes that his "property taxes are really low" and all of his income is generated in the U.S. and thus he pays primarily U.S. taxes.

So, the Zellar family gets its health care subsidized by poor Mexican agave farmers because he is too cheap to spend some of his "Zamboni" song money on health insurance for his family.

If Mexico is smart, it will act quickly to shut its borders to freeloading American musicians. Maybe build a wall or something.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010
Cheap Shots

Updated and Bumped after seeing the commercial.

Audi of America will be airing a Super Bowl ad featuring their A# TDi clean diesel. Their message is a supposed environmental one, that driving an Audi is a friendly environmental choice. Hypocracy aside, the most interesting aspect of Audi's decision is their hiring of Cheap Trick to re-record their hit "Dream Police" to air in the commercial.

Cheap Trick took the lazy way out when re-recording their hit. They changed the name of the song to "Green Police," and merely changed the word "Dream" to "Green" throughout the song, leaving all other lyrics intact.

The result is an Al Gore wet dream, a song about a facist state hunting down those that don't meet the environmental mandates of big liberal government:

The green police, they live inside of my head.
The green police, they come to me in my bed.
The green police, they're coming to arrest me, oh no.

You know that talk is cheap, and those rumors ain't nice.
And when I fall asleep I don't think I'll survive the night, the night.

'Cause they're waiting for me.
They're looking for me.
Ev'ry single night they're driving me insane.
Those men inside my brain.

The green police, they live inside of my head.
(Live inside of my head.)
The green police, they come to me in my bed.
(Come to me in my bed.)
The green police, they're coming to arrest me, oh no.

Well, I can't tell lies, 'cause they're listening to me.
And when I fall asleep, bet they're spying on me tonight, tonight.

'Cause they're waiting for me.
They're looking for me.
Ev'ry single night they're driving me insane.
Those men inside my brain.

I try to sleep, they're wide awake, they won't leave me alone.
They don't get paid to take vacations, or let me alone.
They spy on me, I try to hide, they won't let me alone.
They persecute me, they're the judge and jury all in one.

'Cause they're waiting for me.
They're looking for me.
Ev'ry single night they're driving me insane.
Those men inside my brain.

The green police, they live inside of my head.
The green police, they come to me in my bed.
The green police, they're coming to arrest me.

Nihilist Adds: Over at Nihilist In Golf Pants, I've posted a more thorough rewrite parody of the song.

Update: after viewing the ad, it looks like Audi may actually be mocking the green movement. Here's the video:

Also, unfortunately, the Green Police was the nickname of a Nazi unit sent to move Jews to concentration camps. Definitely a curious advertising choice.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009
How Do You Measure Its Worth?

When my monthly edition of First Thing arrives in the mail, the first section I usually page to is "The Public Square." Previously home to the musings of the late Father Richard John Neuhaus, the witty tidbits that fill "The Public Square" are now ably compiled by Joseph Bottum and they almost always make for an enlightening and entertaining read. But when the current January 2010 issue showed up, two article titles boldly splashed across the cover caught my attention and caused me to immediately read them.

The first was a book review by Ari L. Goldman actually titled Tuesdays With Morbid that the magazine cover labeled "Mitch Albom Is An Idiot":

I would be very surprised if Mitch Albom still sleeps with a teddy bear or saves his money in a piggy bank or believes that the stork delivers babies or does math on his fingers. But of this I am sure: If he exhibited any of these childish behaviors, he wouldn't write a book about it. He has, however, written "Have a Little Faith," a book about religion that is founded on childish ideas, naïveté, religious stereotyping, and downright ­ignorance.

Quite remarkably, he is even proud of all this. The book begins with an "author's note" in which Albom says, "while this is a book about faith, the author can make no claim to being a religion expert."

Religion expert? I would be happy with a modicum of religious literacy, but there is none to be found here. Can you imagine a book about physics or government or medicine or science or history beginning with a similar disclaimer? ("Read my book about X even though I don't know the first thing about X.") Can someone tell me why ignorance is a virtue when it comes to writing about ­religion?

While it might appear harsh to call a former sportswriter trying to write about religion an "idiot," it was part of a pattern for pieces that rated mention on the FT cover and also included Cicero Is A Superstar and Pete Seeger Is A Communist. While I was aware of Seeger's role as a useful idiot for the CPUSA and knew that other folk singers like Woody Guthrie were fellow travelers, I was a bit surprised to see one of the names named in Lauren Weiner's piece:

That part about an "ideological minority" being "celebrated" by somebody had gone over our heads, too: We did not know that the folk boom was a reverberation of an earlier boomlet, a foray into American music roots, many of whose movers and shakers were as Red as a bowl of cherries. Who on our suburban street knew that Woody Guthrie, the hero of Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan, had been a columnist for the "Daily Worker?" Or that the man from whom we heard rollicking sea chanteys, a Briton named Ewan MacColl, was at one point kept from entering the United States as an undesirable alien? Then there was the cuddly-looking guy with the slightly pedantic six-record set and companion volume, "Burl Ives Presents America?s Musical Heritage." If my parents or any of the neighbors were aware that Ives had been summoned, in 1952, to testify before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and had identified Pete Seeger as a communist, they kept the details to themselves.

Burl Ives?

By the 1940s, folk singers had become a ceremonial part of Communist Party meetings. And at nearly all of them, one would find Pete Seeger playing, under the revolutionary pseudonym "Pete Bowers," with the likes of Lee Hays, Millard Lampell, Burl Ives, Josh White, Saul Aarons, Bernie Asbel, Will Geer, and a new arrival on the East Coast musical scene, Woody Guthrie.

Yes, that Burl Ives, a man likely best known to most Americans as the narrator of the beloved television classic "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer" and singer of the more popular songs from the show such as "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Silver and Gold." Some of the material from his CPUSA days doesn't sound quite as catchy.

To achieve the effect they wanted--music that was "national in form and revolutionary in content" in Charles Seeger's conception--they dipped into the past for their material. "Jesse James," "Wayfaring Stranger," "Sweet Betsy from Pike," "Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy," and "On Top of Old Smokey" were brought to urban settings, in some cases for the first time. Topical songs--many written for the Henry Wallace presidential campaign of 1948--were political editorials often set to old hymns and folk tunes: "Capitalistic Boss," "Join the Union Tonight," "Oh, What Congress Done to Me," "Defense Factory Blues," and "Marcantonio for Mayor" (for the Stalinist Vito Marcantonio).

You don't hear too many people walking around humming "Join the Union Tonight" these days, although given its recent actions I could see "Oh, What Congress Done to Me" making a comeback.

Knowing about Ives' past commie connections causes me to reconsider everything I've always thought about "Rudolph, the RED-nosed Reindeer." While some might mock such concerns, you have to wonder about what influence Ives' ideology may have had. Was "Silver and Gold" really a subtle critique of capitalistic excess? Was the intolerant Comet (the reindeer games coach) a representation of a McCarthyite archetype?

Our own Atomizer has already noted the similarities between the Island of Misfit Toys and Cuba while other have also wondered about the discreet messages that RTRNR may be trying to send about class and sexual orientation. How much deeper does this go? Sigh. Sometimes it's better not to know. Maybe I should just see if a can find a copy of "Capitalistic Boss" to download and get my mind right.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Never really thought about it much before hearing the song this morning, but the Tubes' She's A Beauty has to be the most upbeat, feel-good tune about stripping in the pop music catalog. The breezy, Eighties syntho sound just doesn't seem to fit right when you really listen to the lyrics:

Step right up and don't be shy,
because you will not believe your eyes.
She's right here behind the glass
and you're gonna like her,
'cause she's got class.

Yes, the librarian glasses and g-string do tend to signify class. And she's also just stripping to make money for law school.

You can say anything you like,
but you can't touch the merchandise.
She'll give you every pennies worth,
but it will cost you a dollar first.

Pure poetry that.

UPDATE: King has more--more than probably ever wanted to know about The Tubes.


Friday, March 06, 2009
A New American Standard

Jazz singer Kathleen Stewart gives voice to the frustration of fiscally prudent Americans with a little ditty called It Ain't Your Money to Spend. My favorite verse is:

It ain't your money to spend.
You're acting like a bunch of jerks.
I'm the one who earned it.
I'm the one who works.
Your income redistribution
Doesn't jibe with the Constitution.
So I got a little message to send:
It ain't your money to spend.


Monday, February 09, 2009
The Stained Glass Wall of Love That I Cannot See Through

Five days until Valentine's Day and you still have no idea what you're going to do? Gulp. Good look getting a reservation at a decent restaurant at this point. What about a movie? While you might want to see "The International" or "Defiance," you know that you'll end up sitting through "Bride Wars" or "Confessions of a Shopaholic."

Instead, you might want to consider stoppin' by Club Underground and dancing the night away to some of the finest in local adult urban contemporary rockabilly.

Fraters own JB Doubtless will be on the stage pickin' and grinnin' as one of the Hillbilly Swing Kings. Rumor has it that a sizable contingent of Fraters faithful will be on hand to enjoy the festivities. You won't be disappointed if your Valentine's Day plans include joining them.

SP ADDS: According to sources, JB will also be sitting in with the headline act, Lazy Ike and the Daredevils. No word on whether that requires him to wear the standard helmet and spandex flight suit. But that does mean you need not concern yourself with arriving late and missing JB. He'll be pickin' and grinnin' until they shut the joint down.


Friday, January 30, 2009
Heartbreaker, Your Time Has Come

If you and your sweetie haven't yet made plans for Valentines Day aught-nine, you might want to consider stoppin' by Club Underground for the finest in Western-swing-traditional-blues-influenced rockabilly. Fraters own JB Doubtless will be on the stage laying down licks as one of the Hillbilly Swing Kings. This is a rare opportunity to see JB playing in the Twin Cities and promises to be an evening to remember.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008
A Fine Line Between Clever & Stupid

An article in yesterday's WSJ looked at whether a recent internet music leak was a case of piracy or promotion (sub req):

When a track from a forthcoming album by hard-rock band Buckcherry leaked onto the Internet a few weeks ago, the Los Angeles quintet was quick to complain in a blog and a press release from their label, Warner Music Group Corp.'s Atlantic Records. Nonetheless, the band quickly released a music video for the song, "Too Drunk. . ."; radio stations around the U.S. began playing it, and within weeks the song entered the top 40 of two rock charts published by Billboard magazine.

Some fans sensed something fishy, however. Now, the main editor of an online filesharing blog called says the leak actually came from a computer affiliated with the band's own manager, Josh Klemme. The TorrentFreak editor, who goes by the name Ernesto Van Der Sar, asserts that the song was leaked online by a computer with an Internet protocol address that is the same as one associated with Mr. Klemme's management company.

A person close to a filesharing Web site unaffiliated with TorrentFreak provided The Wall Street Journal independent information that appears to support Mr. Van Der Sar's claim. This person confirmed the Internet protocol address of the computer that first sent "Too Drunk. . ." to filesharing networks in early July. Emails Mr. Klemme sent to the TorrentFreak blog originated at the same IP address, which in the email's routing information carries the additional identifier "joshlaptop."

Assuming the story is correct, a few points come to mind:

1. This was a brilliant marketing ploy perfectly designed to take advantage of existing conditions in today's music market.

2. Which makes it all the stranger that the same person (or persons) who came up with it could be so incredibly stupid as to not figure out a better way to upload the "leaked" song than using the band manager's laptop.

Great concept, poor execution.


Thursday, July 24, 2008
The Straw Man Strikes Back

For the record, us frat boys have never "hated on" the Scottish indie band The Fratellis on the basis of their politics. Nor have we have we ever criticized their music based upon their perceived political leanings. For that would be the behavior of one of "those" conservatives. You know, close-minded, uptight, old, angry, hairy-backed, swamp developing, etc.

As a matter of fact my review of the only song by the Fratellis I have ever heard was a veritable rave:

Global warming hysteria hypocrisy aside, not bad. For a bunch of Scottish wankers.

It is true, the Fratellis earned a Loon of the Week Award the week of July 7, 2007. That was for their idiotic promotion of ways for people to alleviate global warming. Idiotic ideas given while they were spokesman for the cause, no less.

Generally speaking, idiocy doesn't work in the realm of public policy advocacy. (Preceding sentence subject to future editing based on result of 2008 MN Senate race featuring Al Franken). But often times it is an asset in the realm of popular music, especially for music targeted at adolescents. I recognize that and would never transfer the higher expectations of politics to rock and/or roll.

So, Bogus Doug:

'Yah, I know the Frat Boys hate the Fratellis on the basis of politics. Not too helpful. Most of the best artists of our (probably any) generation endorse sucky politics.

The thing is, the first Fratelli album was freaking awesome! It was all punky yet dancy and introspective, yet only to the extent it made it even better. It was pretty much the perfect album for its genre and its age. Infectious. A bevy of hit singles to choose from. Hitting the right notes for the time.

and Mitch Berg:

What Doug said. If I had to reject all music that didn't agree with me politically, I'd be pretty much down to Ted Nugent, Johnny Ramone (who, drat the luck, never did a solo album), Five for Fighting (if only on foreign policy), maybe Franky Perez, and country-western.

But dammit, I like to rock. And it doesn't bother me that some of my favorite artists--Springsteen, Pete Townsend) have some of the dumbest politics--because I'll care about what musicians think about politics about the time I care what John Kline or Michele Bachmann think about music; interesting trivia, perhaps, but not why I hired any of them.

And so--I loved the first Fratellis album. It was fun. I enjoyed it.

.... you'll be happy to hear, I agree with you. While the type of music played by the Fratellis doesn't interest me in the least, I stand by the principle of not allowing doctrinaire political beliefs to determine one's appreciation of music. Do you think I could be rocking the Ray Conniff Singers every night in my den if I worried about their no doubt radical, destabilizing beliefs?

Now, I know both Doug and Mitch to be uniquely open-minded, hip, quirky, still in touch with the kids, fresh, and exciting conservatives. They're just going to have to find a way besides love of the Fratellis to differentiate themselves from the rest of us.


Thursday, April 03, 2008
Cure for Pain

JB said earlier today:

But why on earth anyone would want to put on a headache song for their entertainment is beyond my understanding.

Can't say I'd go out of my way to listen to Jeff Tweedy's explorations of headaches . But there is a piece of classical music I enjoy which I've always associated with headaches.

From Mahler's 5th, the Adagietto movement. Free version available here.

It starts out sounding like the resigned, mournful mood you get after suffering a dull ache for a couple of hours. Then it transitions into slowly rising, intense crescendos and bounding plateaus of minor key agony. Just when you can't take it any more, they begin to stop short and subtly drop into brief passages of release, of beautiful, gliding ease. The sections of agony and ease then alternate for a bit. It's just like the feeling you get when the pain medication is finally kicking in. One moment the pain is gone entirely, the next it's back as bad as it ever was. Back and forth, with the pain incrementally lessening each time. So the last few times you feel it, even though it still really hurts, you know its going away entirely within a short time so you're happy, excited even. And each bout of relief increasingly feels like heaven, until you finally fall asleep.

Now that's a great headache song.

I'm not aware of anyone else, including Mahler, having this interpretation of this piece. Maybe one of our classical experts can chime in (Manny? Mitch? Osmo?).

All I can say is that it's too bad Mahler died in 1911. He could have made a fortune writing music for Extra Strength Excedrin commercials.

POST SCRIPT: If you're interested in giving yourself a headache, go to that same web site and give "Fratres for Cellos" a listen. E-gad! By name alone, I was considering it for the new Fraters Libertas theme song. For now, looks like we're going to have to stick with Bette Davis Eyes.


Sunday, January 27, 2008
Organ Grinder

Those of you out there among the doofus hipster crowd (like JB and Atomizer) might appreciate giving the Reverand Organ Drum's "Hi-Fi Stereo" a listen. It's basically Jim Heath of Reverand Horton Heat renown along with a drummer and a guy grooving on a Hammond B-3. They lay down some solid beats that harken back to a bygone era. We played selections off the album as bumper music on yesterday's NARN First Team show.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

The wait is over.

The free form, free market music explosion you've been waiting for all your life.

John Hinderaker's wild, shirtless lyrics.

The bong-rattling bass of Scott Johnson.

The competent drum work of Paul Mirengoff.

For one night only, LIVE in concert at Ruby Begonia's in Stillwater:

Friday - November 9, 2007



Tuesday, September 18, 2007
You'll Know It's True That You Are Blessed And Lucky

The scene near the Lake Harriet band shell on Sunday afternoon was so perfect it was almost absurd. The skies were blue. There was a slight breeze giving just a hint of brisk autumn air. In the playground, children romped joyously on the slides and swings under the watchful eye of their parents. On the grassy hill, people sat in their portable chairs or laid on blankets reading, eating, talking, and drinking, many with dogs by their side. A continuous stream of joggers, walkers, and bikers filed past on their path around the lake, some stopping for a snack, a drink, or just a pause. In the In the distance, the sun brilliantly shimmered off the deep blue waters of Lake Harriet as sailboats whisked by. From the band shell itself, sounds of classical music--occasionally interrupted by the clackety-clack of the old trolley shuffling past--filled the surroundings as the internationally renowned Minnesota Orchestra belted out a series of familiar favorites.

I told my wife afterward that if someone were shooting the scene as a commercial touting the quality of life in the Twin Cities, no one would have believed it was wasn't all being staged for that purpose. It was that perfect a picture. These are the days.


Monday, March 26, 2007
Greatest Live Band...Ever

Enjoy The Beat Farmers.

God rest your soul, Country Dick.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Number One with a Bullet

Esteemed classicist Victor Davis Hanson on the American public education system and the ability of its graduates to put in perspective events such as Mark Foley emails and North Korean nuclear tests:

Or is the nuttiness because most Americans below 30 are now so poorly educated that they don't know, or care to know, the difference between Pyongyang and poontang?

If this line ever makes it into one of his scholarly tomes, I suspect the footnote would look something like this:

Nugent, Ted; "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" (Cat Scratch Fever, Epic/Legacy; 1977).

It has been a while since Ted Nugent had a song on the charts. And for the man who wrote the following timeless, universal lyrics:

Kiss my ass - Janet Reno
Kiss my ass - C'mon Billary
Kiss my ass - Callin' on Jesse Jackson
Kiss my ass - United Nations
Kiss my ass - All those Liberals

I don't think charges of jingoism, political opportunism, or basic idiocy will dissuade him from throwing his guitar into the works of current political events either. With that in mind I submit to Ted the following update of his romantic classic:

Wang Dang Sweet Pyongyang

That Kim Jong il, what a nuclear fiend
He ain't looking so clean, especially near the DMZ,
what I don't like

He come to town, he be foolin' around
and putting us down like a UN-sanctioned clown
It's all right

Wang Dang Sweet Pyongyang

Wang Dang what a sweet Pyongyang
a shakin our six party thang as a rang-a-dang-dang in the bell

It'll be so sweet when we yank on their teat (and shut off their wheat)
Down on the street you know we can't be beat
What the hell

Wang Dang Sweet Pyongyang

Thank you. Please, please sit down. We don't deserve the adulation. Really, we wrote this music for the children. It's all about them, not us.

(FYI - All forthcoming royalties should be distributed to VD Hanson and SP Ward. And watch out for our next song writing endeavor: It's Hard out Here for a Phalangite.)


Friday, September 22, 2006
Whatever Makes You Happy

Today's Wall Street Journal features the story of local rock legend Paul Westerberg's latest project(subscription required):

Paul Westerberg, leader of the legendary rock band the Replacements, isn't a household name -- except in homes where the kids are dressed in vintage punk T-shirts and Mohawk hairdos. He gained notoriety and influence in the 1980s with songs such as "Treatment Bound," "Dope Smokin' Moron" and "Bastards of Young." But when contemporaries such as U2 and R.E.M. soared to commercial prosperity, the Replacements ran their career into a ditch.

Now Mr. Westerberg is set to receive a jolt of mainstream exposure -- thanks, improbably, to a big-budget animated children's movie for which he wrote a clutch of songs and the cinematic score. "Open Season" is the debut feature from Sony Pictures Entertainment's new Sony Pictures Animation division. It features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher, and concerns a bear (Mr. Lawrence) who has lived his whole life in comfortable captivity. Circumstances force him to try living in the wilderness, where he must choose between his old life of ease and the rigors of the forest.

For the 46-year-old Mr. Westerberg, whose career could be characterized as a series of near-misses with big-time success, Hollywood represented both a gilded cage and a fearsome wilderness. It's a land of plenty: He was paid handsomely (he won't say how much) for his work on "Open Season" and recorded with bigger budgets and more musicians than he ever had before. Yet he also was put through the Hollywood wringer -- the studio even hired another singer to record a showpiece song Mr. Westerberg wrote for the film (though both versions appear in the movie and CD.) He now jokes about accepting the movie gig as "community service after my last arrest."

I'm sure that some of Westerberg's hardcore fans, still desperately clinging to the long past glory days of teen angst and rebellion, will denounce this effort and brand Westerberg with the dreaded scarlet "S" as in sellout. Personally, I applaud his decision to dip his toe into the pond of mainstream entertainment and introduce his skilled songwriting to a whole new generation. Rather than continuing the Quixote pursuit of "breaking through" and bringing "my music" to the masses, as so many would-be rock stars do well past the age when they should know better, Westerberg is taking a realistic approach and recognizing that while this may not be exactly the future he dreamed of back in the heyday of the Minneapolis music scene, it ain't a bad way to make a living.

Long-suffering Replacements fans may get something out of it, too. They have waited more than 15 years to see the band, or even just some of its members, reunite for a live performance. That finally is set to happen at the film's premiere in Los Angeles on Monday night, when Mr. Westerberg is to be joined by Replacements bass player Tommy Stinson to play two songs. It's an appropriately bizarre twist for rock's most lovable losers.

"We get back together to open up for a cartoon, in front of a bunch of people who never heard of us," Mr. Westerberg says. "That's fitting."

If this mini-reunion warms the hearts of diehard Replacement fans, I'm happy for them. I don't count myself among them, for while I appreciate the music the Replacements made, I consider them to be perhaps the most over-hyped band of all time, especially on a local level. Like Paul Wellstone, the legend that has emerged after their demise does not match the reality of what they actually did.

UPDATE-- I should have put an over/under on how long it would take to receive the first e-mail like this one submitted by Jim:

I take it you weren't in the Uptown, Cabooze, Duffy's, or the 7th Street Entry to see it first hand.

Never before, never since, on any level; local or national, have I experienced a rock n roll show like the one The Replacements could put on.

I don't really blame you. You can't hear it in the record if you haven't seen it live. It was a bloodletting release of hostility, anger, angst. It was a comic aside. It was yawn at the world outside the club. It was a nod to 60s and 70s pop, 70s metal, and a thumbing of the nose at anyone and anything of authority.

And for the record, I stopped liking anything they did after 1988 or so.

For the record, no, I do not claim to have seen The Replacements first hand, which makes me unique for someone of my age cohort who grew up in the Twin Cities. It's not unique not to have actually seen them, but it is unique not to have claimed to have seen them back in the "day." Seriously, if as many people who now say they went to see The Replacements at The Entry actually did, the band would have broken through to mainstream success.

I don't mean to diminish Jim's affinity for The Replacements in any way, but I wonder how much of his adulation is based on an objective appraisal of the band and how much is simply fuzzy nostalgia for the simple-minded rebellion of youth. I know, I know. That's what rock and roll is supposed to be all about. Flipping off authority, expressing your frustration, alienation and all that. But was it really The Replacements being that good or was it just that they came along at a particular point in time in their fans' lives where they filled an emotional hole? I don't know if the question can be answered with any authority, but I think it's worth considering.


Monday, July 10, 2006
Get Along Kid Charlemagne

I saw Soul Asylum on Saturday night. Mainly because it was free, partly because I used to like the band quite a bit back in high skrool and college. The event was general admission--a ticket policy I usually avoid at all costs--but this was Rochester and people generally behave like adults in this area even at concerts.

As I stood in the crowd I felt foolish. What am I doing here? Looking around it was much more of a MPLS crowd than I anticipated. People were fighting their way to the front of the stage the old First Avenue Way--sharp elbows, grim determination and zero concern (bordering on the pathological) for your fellow concert goers. Some people who looked like they should know better fired up some weed. I rolled my eyes and waited for the music to begin.

There's Dan Murphy. He looks like he did in 1991. He's still wearing thrift store clothing and the ubiquitous Chuck Taylors. Does he dress this way every day? I think he does. That isn't a stage outfit. The man is in his forties and he's still making some kind of statement with his duds. Sigh. He doesn't seem to be very happy to be playing tonight. There's Pirner. Talented guy, no doubt and he's thankfully lost the dreads from years back, but I wonder if it feels odd at all to be still singing songs of angst and depression and frustration--teenage themes--when you're over 40.

I guess if you subscribe so heavily to an alternative culture as a yout, it's hard to find something to take it's place when you actually become an adult. So how long can somebody keep trudging out these adversarial culture songs and still mean it? Maybe it's time to make peace with the jocks and get on with things. Remains to be seen I guess, but judging from these two guys it looks like they are going to keep it going for a while.


Friday, April 28, 2006
Tin Soldiers and Pyscmeistr's Coming

There's a nice Neil Young parody here.

Seems the ratty old fool has released a venomously hateful song about Bush that includes many of the stale cliches of the vapid left.

Let's impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

Poor Neil. Time has passed him by. His brain blown by years of years of foolish living, he is incapable of coherent thought. Another product of the Destructive Generation crying his pathetic swan song.

Moonbat lies, look in your eyes
glazed over red and you look half dead..
Livin in a 60s fog brought on by LSD
Relevance--passed you by
Clinging to the same ol' lie
You can run but you cannot hide
You ain't foolin' me!

Read the whole thing as they say on Powerline!


Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Who's Drinking And What For?

Last night I had the great pleasure of seeing The Rolling Stones perform at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. I'll spare you the concert review as I personally find reading such summaries tedious, somewhat self-indulgent and utterly pointless.

I will say, however, that as enjoyable as the show was, it will be the last Stones show I'll ever attend regardless of whether or not the boys continue rocking into their early nineties. It's not that they don't put on a great show. The entire evening was, in fact, a gas. It's just that the boys have lost a lot of what made me into one of their biggest fans well over two decades ago.

Perhaps the best illustration of what I mean comes from a conversation I overheard at the arena bar shortly before The Stones took the stage. A guy standing in front of me in line to buy an outrageously overpriced beer noticed the sign behind the bar that read "All Alcohol Sales Will End At 9:00PM". The puzzled patron asked the bartender what the purpose of this incredibly Draconian measure was. The bartender replied "As soon as The Stones hit the stage, all booze sales end. It was at the request of the band."

No booze for the entirety of a Stones show. The Glimmer Twins certainly have come a long, long way.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Make Minnesota Alabama

Speaking of classic rock parodies, here's our latest effort.

Make Minnesota Alabama
(Sung to the tune of Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd)

Wing nuts keep on turnin'
Our noise machine creates a din
Bloggers want to make Minnesota
Into Alabamy on a whim
And I think it's a win, yes

Well, I heard City Pages whine about 'em
Well, I heard the Strib put 'em down
Well, I hope these rags will remember
New media man don't need 'em around anyhow

Make Minnesota Alabama
Where the taxes are so few
Make Minnesota Alabama
We don't care 'bout burnin schools

In St. Paul we praised the governor
And it's true we raised a few
Slashing budgets does not bother me
Long as Tim provides the brew
Funny 'cause it's true!

Make Minnesota Alabama
Where the taxes are so few
Make Minnesota Alabama
Shut up granny, eat your dog food!

Now Stillwater has got the convicts
Boo, boo, boo
And they can clean the highways too
Unions workers makin' way too much
To be pickin' up after me and you
Tell the truth

Make Minnesota Alabama
Where the taxes are so few
Make Minnesota Alabama
Ain't willing to pay for a better you


Saturday, November 06, 2004
How You Goin' Keep 'Em Down On The Farm?

Dave from Indianapolis e-mails to give credit to the cultivators of the earth:

"Farm Aid" founders Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and John Mellencamp campaigned against President Bush. They released anti-Bush songs and videos. Two of them performed at Whoopie Fest.

The farmers of America voted like the salt of the earth they are. One can see this by looking at the final map broken down by county. Farmers had to simply be shaking their heads during the campaign season when they saw how several of their "Farm Aid" icons were behaving.

Family farms were direct benefits of the tax cuts. Inheritance taxes have a direct impact on the family farm. The Senate, sitting on the energy plan, cost the family farmers every time they pump diesel, pump gas, or pay to ship their products to market. Farmers are close families and attend church.

I would love to know the thought of the three "Farm Aid" founders. They have to be disappointed.

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Friday, October 22, 2004
Floatin' Like The Heavens Above

You ever get a song in you head for no particular reason at all? You know, a song that you haven't heard in years, then BAM one day it breaks in to your conscious and loops endlessly. Usually it's an annoying little ditty that you never liked much in the first place. But now you just can't stop thinking about it. You catch yourself humming it throughout the day, and have to fight the urge to openly break into song.

Well, for some strange reason I'm currently being afflicted by the song "Muskrat Love", a song that no self-respecting man wants any part of. There's really no explanation for it. Out of the clear blue it seeped in and no amount of wishful purging can remove it. Odd, isn't it?

I've always associated the song with The Captain & Tennille, that edgy pop duo from the 70's (who actually have recorded an album as recently as 2002). I did not realize that the song was originally recorded by the melodic musicians of America:

The choice for the album's lead track and first single was "Muskrat Love," written by Oklahoma singer/songwriter Willis Alan Ramsey. "The idea was: each of us was working on three songs, and then we'd agree on a cover tune," Beckley says. "David Dickey had played us Willis Allen Ramsey's album on Shelter, and it had 'Muskrat Love (Muskrat Candlelight)' on it, as it was titled. And to us it sounded like a very bluesy, quirky tune. We just felt it was quirky and commercial, and we worked it up." Warner Bros. was less than enthusiastic about the song, and as a single it made it only to #67. But the "Muskrat" refused to die--Captain & Tennille released their own version in 1976 and scored a #4 hit. "You know that movie Multiplicity with Michael Keaton, where you make a copy of a copy of a copy? Well, I think 'Muskrat Love' is a fine example of where the closer you go back to the original seed, the nicer it is. Ours was once removed, and the Captain & Tennille's was even more removed. They got their version from us--they assumed it was our song."

On a completely unrelated note, don't forget to tune in tonight to catch the Northern Alliance Radio Network filling in for Hugh Hewitt. 5pm-8pm CST. Since we've got more hosts than mikes, I believe that Saint Paul will be on the air starting at 6pm, while I'll join the fun at 6:30pm. If you feel the urge to participate, give us a call at 1-800-520-1234.


Monday, August 16, 2004
Classic Punk Gold

The Kerry Christmas in Cambodia story seems ripe for a song parody. But Man from Silver Mountain writes in to tell us, it's already been done. By the Dead Kennedys, back in 1980. From the album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, the snotty, anti-establishment classic, Holiday in Cambodia.

Not all of the lyrics apply to John Kerry, but some of them come awful close. Imagine, if you will, the officious, Senatitis suffering voice of John Kerry reading these lines:

It's a holiday in Cambodia
It's tough kid, but it's life
It's a holiday in Cambodia
Don't forget to pack a wife

Your a star-belly sneech you suck like a leech
You want everyone to act like you
Kiss ass while you bitch so you can get rich
But your boss gets richer on you

We're still checking Lexis/Nexis to confirm if this was actually in his 1986 Senator Floor statement. Please bear with us in the mean time. Given the Pioneer Press standard, we may need a week or two to nail this one down.

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Monday, August 09, 2004
Some Claim To Cultural Importance/The Real Genius Of Wilco

Wilco is music for people who care more about what it means to own a Wilco CD than what is actually on the CD itself. Wilco (or fill in about any other hipster band) is not about melody, or musicianship. It's about what they're not--melodic or musical and that makes them sophisticated and adds to a certain type of person's cultural pedigree.

I found this on Slate and while the guy is so deeply immersed in hipsterism that I had a hard time understanding the piece, he makes a couple of good points (sorry, no time for the link find it yaself, please):

Some consumers, of course, still need to feel as though the music they buy merits, if not exactly landmark status, some claim to cultural importance. Wilco is the band for such consumers; and to help them along, critics have provided the word "deconstruction." Deconstruction is now rock-press shorthand for the crumbling of the traditional Intro Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Bridge Solo Verse Chorus song structure. But its real significance has gone unnoticed. Deconstruction is currently doing for Wilco (and Radiohead before it) what it did for literary studies in the '70s and '80s: providing a sense of pomp and excitement during a period of near-total marginalization.

In other words, the music blows, but it's a different kind of bad and that kind of bad is better than the kind of bad on pop radio so it must be good!

It's like having 100 different Wal-Mart-type stores in your town. All of them offering inexpensive merchandise and good service at convenient locations. Most people are content with these stores for their basic day-to-day needs. Then a different kind of store opens.

They tell everyone that they aren't Wal-Mart, man, and will never be. Their selection sucks, their prices are high, but they have positioned themselves as the "intelligent shoppers" choice and the canvas bags they rent you for bringing your goods home are seen as a status symbol in certain circles.

The funny thing is, there IS a market for a metaphorical store like this in the music world. It is almost entirely about positioning yourself properly and counting on the mass confusion that is the hipster/sophistico world.

You can completely suck like Wilco and sell 400,000 copies of your record.

And I have to say there is a certain genius to that.


Friday, August 06, 2004

Based on reader feedback, last week we had to remove Sammy Haggar from the "Dissenters to Be Crushed" list we've been asked to compile for John Ashcroft every week. Contrary to initial reports, it appears likely Sammy is a Bush-Cheney supporter. This week's revision may have to be done for John Fogerty. He was characterized as a "dirty old hippie" by Chris from Omaha yesterday. But now Bill Tuomala, (of Rocks Off and the New York Times) writes in with this:

Just had to take exception with your Omaha reader on John Fogerty.

Like or dislike his politics or songs, John Fogerty is not and never was a hippie. Creedence Clearwater Revival was a working-class band that crafted music in the tradition, sound, and spirit of the classic Sun records recordings. While the whole hippie acid trip thing was blossoming/festering in San Francisco; CCR - from El Cerrito, an Oakland suburb across the bay from San Francisco and Haight/Ashbury - simply made great, timeless rock 'n' roll singles, one after the other. As far as Fogerty being dirty, I dunno. He looks pretty clean cut to me, though in the rockabilly vein he may be greasy.

Oh, and you may be interested in this book, Kill Your Idols. Jim Walsh read his chapter at the Ruminator last week . Very twisted, dark (and great) stuff.

Staying on the hygiene theme, the Golden Girl wrote in to comment on Serena Williams's remarks (quoted yesterday) about her awful, horrendous, miserable, horrible working day:

Poor Serena. Boo hoo. She needs to follow me around sometime to see what "awful" truly can be. I'm a podiatrist, and most days are pretty good, believe it or not. I see runners, little kids, generally healthy folks, and nobody dies (yet, knock on wood). But when it's bad, awful can't begin to describe it.

Yesterday I walked into a room to see a new patient. She was 90-something, demented and recently admitted to a nursing home where it occurred to someone to take off her socks. The poor woman hadn't had her toenails cut since, oh, probably, the Carter Administration. Think Gail Devers fingernails attached to the feet of a woman who looks like Sméagol and swears like Whoopi. Can we get her out of the wheel chair? No. Ok, sure, I'll sit on the floor (why do I ever wear a skirt to work?). 45 minutes and $28 from Medicare later (no, wait, it'll actually take me 4 months to collect my $28 from Medicare) I'm done.

Now, I'm sure tennis camp was tough, but I have a bachelors degree, masters degree, doctor of podiatric medicine degree, and three years of residency behind me, and I'm sitting in a pile of fungus dust for 28 bucks. Which after I pay my overhead, adds up to me owing about $300 for the last 45 minutes. I'm not looking too smart right about now. (And Kerry wants to raise my taxes because I'm not one of the "working people of America".) Awful, horrendous, miserable, horrible, thy name is NOT tennis.

I probably should have warned you not to read that if you're just sitting down to lunch. Oh well, at least you can feel slightly better about what ever awaits you upon clocking back in this afternoon.

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Not Proud to Be an American

The Minnesota Zoo out in Apple Valley has the only amphitheater in town for outdoor concerts. It's a great spot, out in the woods, right by a scenic little lake, and there's like 10 beer stands, for a venue that holds 1,500 souls, so there's never any waiting. On a beautiful summer night, with the right band, there's not a better place to be in the Twin Cities. And I dare say there's no other venue in town where you can hear music interspersed with the occasional grunt of a musk ox or screech of a chimpanzee in the background.

Last night Steve Earle came to town, and brought some grunting and screeching of his own to the stage:

Outspoken even when it's not an election year, the Nashville rebel played many of his most socialistic songs and built up to two seething new tunes from his upcoming album, "Revolution Starts Now." He saved one of them for an exclamation-point of an encore, telling the FCC, FBI and CIA to stick it: "I can say anything ... because I live in the [expletive] U.S.A."

Well, at least he's not claiming to be a victim of censorship.

I find it hard to believe he whipped up much socialist revolutionary discontent in that beautiful, well-oiled venue, on one of the most beautiful nights of the year. No doubt, happiness abounded. Besides, most local socialists couldn't afford the $39 ticket price.

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Warm Smell Of The Boo Birds Rising Up Through The Air

It appears that Don Henley has now joined the growing list of outspoken performers to be bludgeoned by the realization that people just ain't paying pampered pop stars to preach.

The on-line version of the July 31 Orange County Register (registration required) reports that:

Singer Don Henley drew a chorus of boos from fans at the Pacific Amphitheatre after he made several political comments between songs during his concert Thursday night, becoming the latest performer to elicit such a negative reaction.

Two weeks ago, Linda Ronstadt touched off a disturbance at a show in Las Vegas when she dedicated a song to filmmaker Michael Moore. Fans at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino booed, threw drinks and ripped down posters in the lobby, prompting the management to escort the singer from the premises and bar her from performing there again.

Henley, referring to that incident Thursday night, began a sentence with, "Given what my good friend Linda Ronstadt," but was silenced as the amphitheatre erupted in boos. He responded: "Whoops--Orange County," adding, "We used to be able to have civil debate in this country. Not anymore." (emphasis mine)

In the real world, a "civil debate" typically consists of two equally matched sides discussing a mutually agreed upon issue. In Don Henley's tie-dyed fantasy world, a debate apparently consists of one washed up 70's soft-rock star with a microphone connected to some colon-splittingly loud amplifiers shouting out tired leftist political platitudes to 16,000 fans who each paid upwards of $40 to hear "The Boys Of Summer" for the 873rd time.

At least the Vote For Change crowd has the decency to inform their audience that they're buying a ticket to a political rally. Give it a rest, Donny, and the next time you feel like going all leftie on your fans, don't do it in Orange County.

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Thursday, August 05, 2004
Rock and Roll Rundown

Regarding the Rock For Change Tour, Michael from Omaha, NE sends in a motivational analysis of the participating artists. Apparently Omaha is the home town of Connor Oberst, who apparently is or has Bright Eyes (turn around), and many of Michael's friends went to high school with Bright Eyes, so we'll consider this an insider's view:

Pearl Jam - Apparently Nader is less of a candidate in their eyes in 2004. They flip-flop almost as well as Kerry.

Death Cab for Cutie - I really like this band, but have a hard time listening to an anti-war stance from a band with "Death" in their name.

Bruce Springsteen - Bruce is the Boss. He could actually back terrorism and I wouldn't care.

REM - Of course they're pissed, Bush is the only thing standing in Stipe's way from wearing his Vera Wang wedding dress.

John Fogerty - Gotta' love the dirty old hippie trying to cash in again on old political songs. Should be a step up from his County Fair gigs.

Bright Eyes - Finally, a legitimate voice of change. His privileged, middle-class background serves as great authority on his position.

DMB - Anyone with lyrics like "Hike up your dress a little more and show your world to me" is a Democrat by default, so I can't blame them.

Jurassic 5 - More like Jurassic Yesterday. When they give their act back to the Roots, maybe I'll care.

My Morning Jacket - There goes 137 swing votes.

Dixie Chicks - Their god awful rendition of "Landslide" should be reasonenough to ALWAYS vote exactly the opposite. Plus, they suck.

(SP NOTE: I really like the Dixie Chicks, especially the voice of Natalie Maines. And for some sick reason her petulant sass appeals to me too. Plus, their version of Landslide is beautiful and the only listenable rendition ever recorded of that song. Now back to the derision...)

James Taylor - Another democrat with an ugly kid - BIG surprise.

Jackson Browne - How happy do you think he is that he won the coin-flip against James Taylor for co-headliners?

Bonnie Raitt - I have no qualms against her stance. After all, she is a founding member of the Democratic party.

Keb 'Mo - Who in Des Moines WOULDN'T listen to Keb' Mo'? I'd say only the 400,000 people that live there and are asking "Who's Keb'Mo?"

Johnny Cougar - I've personally never been to a bad show that the Coug' has put on. But apparently, there's a first for everything.

Babyface - Couldn't be more obviously bandwagon if he tried. Don't know about you, but I always think of his social awareness when listening to "Whip Appeal". What better way to jumpstart a dead career than to take full advantage of the democratic process.

Admittedly, Kerry's backers are way more hip than those that make up my preferred party. And don't get me wrong, as much as I love Toby Keith, REM opening for Bruce just might be a better concert. Let's just hope our next President, whoever that may be, isn't simply elected because Keb' Mo's got his back. And lets just also hope that each of these artists remember that Saddam and Osama want to see them dead too.

UPDATE: I have been informed that Michael from Omaha, NE did not write the above analysis, he was merely the conduit. The author was none other than Chris from Omaha, NE. Please update your scorecards accordingly.

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Friday, July 30, 2004
That's What Dreams Are Made Of

Brooklyn blogger Ken Wheaton discovers the invisible hand of Sammy Haggar once again manipulating the Presidential election like a puppet master:

God Bless Druge ... For making this audio available of DNC Convention Director Don Mishcer using--GASP!--the F word in reference to a lack of balloons. Holy F*CK! Is that funny or what?

But here's the million dollar question. That's Van Halen playing in the background, right? Does the DNC realize that Sammy Haggar contributed to Bush/Cheney?

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Shuddup and eat your pine cone

On Monday of this week, the Star Tribune reported on "Camp Wellstone":

As the Democratic National Convention opens today in Boston, Camp Wellstone is capitalizing on the new political energy on the left. As delegates and hordes of media and lobbyists began overtaking the city Sunday, Camp Wellstone concluded its 34th camp in a downtown hotel, seeking to shape a new generation of politicians and citizen-activists.

Since the camp went national last year, nearly 4,000 people have graduated, including about 50 who, like Pulkrabek, are running for office this year. The camps often have waiting lists, as was the case in Boston.

"We weren't sure if there was going to be a huge demand or market outside of Minnesota," said Jeff Blodgett, Wellstone's former campaign manager and now the executive director of Wellstone Action, which puts on the camps. "We thought it was the right thing to do, and the right way to pay tribute to Paul, but it turns out there was a huge market for this."

Funded by:

Students pay $50 ($35 for those with low incomes) to attend the three-day training camps.

Blodgett said 15 of the camps have been underwritten by America Coming Together (ACT), a pro-Democrat group that's working to defeat President Bush in 17 battleground states. Wellstone Action received $372,500 from ACT and organized camps in several swing states, including Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Around these parts it is not uncommon to see cars sporting bumper stickers asking "What Would Wellstone Do?". The answer apparently is run Camp Wellstone:

He said the camps are not about "worshipping Wellstone," but rather advancing the model of political action that Wellstone taught and practiced.

"I also feel like this is what he would want us to do," he said.

It is impossible for me to read this story and not think of The Simpson's Kamp Krusty. Especially the Kamp Krusty song.

Hail to thee, Kamp Krusty,
By the shores of Big Snake Lake.
Though your swings are rusty,
We know they'll never break.

From your gleaming mess hall,
To our hallowed baseball field,
Your spic-and-span infirmary,
Where all our wounds are healed.

Hail to thee, Kamp Krusty,
Below Mount Avalanche.
We will always love Kamp Krusty,
A registered trademark of the Krusty Corporation,
All rights reserved!

And since we all know how much the Wellstone crowd loves songs, I figured I'd work up one for Camp Wellstone based on the Kamp Krusty ditty:

Hail to thee, Kamp Wellstone,
By the shores of High Tax Lake.
Though Paul's ashes are sown,
The Green Bus has no brake.

From your smoke-free co-op,
To our hallowed children's school,
We follow Paul's true mission,
One world under socialist rule.

Hail to thee, Kamp Wellstone,
Below Mount Airplane Crash.
We will always love Kamp Wellstone,
A never-ending fantasy of the Democratic Party,
Unhinged from reality!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Finishing What I Started

More evidence continues to pour in that the Van Halen concert last Thursday in St. Paul was not overly influenced by Democratic party politics. First, Scott writes in from Oklahoma:

Saw the mighty VH in Oklahoma City just three days ago.  Same story.  No left-leaning backdrops in the land of oil wells and JC Watts.  I too only witnessed "Carnal Knowledge" era pics from the Right Now video.  It helps to remember that Sammy Hagar was an outspoken proponent of the original Gulf War and told that leftist MTV reporter Kurt Loder that he was a Reagan Republican in a 1991 interview.

As for the show...  Dry Run kicked ass!

Well, Scott always has been a sucker for a good tambourine and ululating song. Next, Jim Styczinski has been checking the donor databases and reports:

Intrigued by the Van Halen controversy, I went to my second favorite web site, Political Money Line, and ran through the members of Van Halen. The only hit is Sammy Hagar:

7/11/2003 $2,000.00
NOVATO, CA 94948
F.W.O. INC./ENTERTAINER -[Contribution]

Finally, the irrefutable proof. Star Tribune music critic Chris Riemenschneider hated the show and the kind of people that showed up to watch it. Excerpts of his review:
Turns out, an eight-year hiatus was the best thing that ever happened to the Sammy Hagar-fronted Van Halen. It made them a little bit dumber.

Thursday's two-hour concert by the '80s guitar-god band at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center was such a macho, fist-pumping, nostalgia-riding affair, it mooted all the endless debate over how Hagar compares to original VH singer David Lee Roth. The 14,722 fans on hand were excited enough -- and in many cases, intoxicated enough -- to be happy with either version of the California-reared group.

The fun almost seemed forced in parts. Once feuding, the band mates did so many bear-hugs, hiney-kicks and hand-holding gestures, their beefier, ball cap-wearing fans could've feared something less than manly was going on.

When a reporter resorts to whiny, gratuitous stereotyping like this, you know it offended his liberal sensibilities.


Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Best of Both Worlds

Yesterday I passed along a reader's account of the Van Halen concert in St. Paul last week, specifically regarding some perceived anti-Bush shenanigans by the band.  Today I got this conflicting account, from Steve S:

As an avid reader of Fraters, I was a bit stunned to read the piece you posted yesterday regarding the VH concert and the guy's friend who witnessed Pro-Left Bush Bashing by one of the greatest rock bands of all time.  I don't know where he got the 'shrooms he was doing, but I was at the Xcel Energy Center last Thursday, and it never happened.  During the song "Right Now," there was a video playing during the song.  Most of it was the original video shot when the 'For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge' album came out some 12 years ago.  A few pieces were new, and it included bits of soldiers and helicopters and, yes, even of Bush and Cheney.

But the message was clear to those of us drug-free and sober enough to remember:  support the troops.  That's it.  No stance left OR right.  It's incredibly disappointing that some jackrat would go purposefully looking for something like that at a concert.  It's one thing if an entertainer hangs themselves, see Pearl Jam, Dixie Chicks, etc., it's another make-up something that never happened.  Note to this Dave guy:  next time actually go to the concert and lay off the drugs/booze when you do go.  At the very least, get your facts straight from somebody that WAS there.

Whom to believe?  The third hand account yesterday or this second hand story today?  I'll let you decide, but it wouldn't surprise me if there are elements of truth in each.  Perceptions can be tricky things.  Tune in later today for the debate on whether or not the group that opened for Van Halen on Thursday was a 14 man Syrian band called Dry Run.

This whole debate does emphasize the importance of first hand observations when reporting the news.  (Becaue I trust no one's biases like I trust my own.)   Something our friend Ed Morrissey is going to be providing in late August.  That's right, Captain Ed, live from Madison Square Garden!  He's been credentialed as a blogging journalist for the Republican convention and we look forward to his reports on Captain's Quarters and on Northern Alliance Radio.  Congratulations Ed.


Monday, July 26, 2004
And The Beat Goes On...

The beat of musicians straying into left wing political causes that is: is co-sponsoring an album featuring powerful and political songs -- most of them unreleased until now -- from some of the best artists around. It's called the "Future Soundtrack for America."

For a donation to MoveOn PAC of $25 or more, we'll make sure you get the album before it hits the record stores. These donations will make a real impact, allowing the PAC to run ads that counter the Bush campaign's negative attacks on Kerry and present a vision for how our country ought to be.

The album features a pretty amazing line up of artists: Blink-182, Bright Eyes, David Byrne, Laura Cantrell, Clem Snide, Death Cab for Cutie, Mike Doughty, The Flaming Lips, Fountains of Wayne, Jimmy Eat World, Ben Kweller, The Long Winters, Nada Surf, OK Go, Old 97's, R.E.M., Sleater-Kinney, They Might Be Giants, Tom Waits, of The Black Eyed Peas, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are all featured. In addition, the family of Elliott Smith contributed a mix of "A Distorted Reality Is Now A Necessity To Be Free," a song from Smith's as-yet-unreleased last record, and the first release of new material since his death in late 2003.

Together, the songs present a passionate rallying cry for all of us to take our country back. Mike Doughty's song "Move On" hones in on the passion that drives all of our activism, singing "I love my country so much, like an exasperating friend." Tom Waits' contribution is a heartbreaking song about a letter home from a soldier in Iraq. R.E.M. takes on Bush and the war in Iraq, and They Might Be Giants (whose John Flansburgh pulled the project together) revisit a campaign song from the Presidential campaign of 1840.

The album is a joint project between and the good folks at Music for America and Barsuk Records. MoveOn PAC has purchased a large quantity of CDs from Barsuk Records to give away to PAC contributors.

Country music's starting to sound better and better...

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Et Tu, Eddie?

Derek from Freedom Dogs provides us with another account of dissent not being crushed. This time at the Van Halen concert in St. Paul last week:

I had 3 friends attend the Van Hagar concert in St Paul on Thursday night.  I said before he went, 'Dave, let me know if they pull a stupid stunt like Ozzy or Rondstat.  It seems every one thinks they must jump on the lefty bandwagon.'

Sure enough, my friend Dave reports that on the very last song they had on the big screen a montage of flashing imagery with "Imagine Peace", pictures of war, and pictures of Bush/Ashcroft and "no more lies", "peace, not war", etc.  Yawn.  

Dave said he, along with about 50% of the audience, stopped clapping and there was very little effort to get them to come back for the predictable and planned encore.  Another pitiful member of the conformists who think they are non-conformists.

Of course, these artists have a right to say whatever they wish.  But for Van Halen to compromise the artistic integrity of "Hot for Teacher" for political posturing is profoundly disturbing.

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Raging For the Machine

Last week our rock and roll correspondent, Chad O, reported his chagrin at discovering the First Avenue concert billed as "Rock for Democracy" was actually a dedicated fundraiser for the John F. Kerry campaign.

He bought his ticket before finding this out. But like a good rock and roll soldier, Chad went anyway, and files this report from the front lines:

Sorry for the delay on the review of "Rock for Democracy". Busy work week and just trying to get my thoughts together on an altogether less than spectacular evening of music are to blame.

For the most part, the people in the crowd were only paying attention to the stage when a band was playing so I'm guessing the majority of the crowd was there not because it was a fundraiser for MN DFL and John Kerry but rather because they wanted to see some music. Probably 20% were sporting a button or t-shirt espousing the typically profound thoughts of liberals. One shirt had mention of Haliburton on it, I wasn't able to catch the smaller print. One said "F*ck Coleman", (without the asterisk) ... very classy. I was going to ask her if her shirt was meant for Norm or Nick but I don't think she would have gotten the joke.
(Saint Paul's note - unless it was Laura Billings wearing that shirt. She definitely gets the joke - she's married to it).

Of the 20% in the audience for political purposes and not music, the world would have benefited if they had chosen to put their ticket money towards shampoo and/or deodorant. A little soap never hurt anyone.

The musicians in general stayed away from the political statements. I got to the show about 9pm (doors opened at 7pm) and left by 11:30 pm. The sound was horrible, whenever someone was on stage just talking, you couldn't understand a word they were saying. They had a video screen up that showed a Wellstone video. I think it may be time for them to on the whole Wellstone thing, but that's just me.

Here are two reviews of the show ... one with photos, including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak stage diving.

(SP - Apparently Rybak's position is 'yes' to stage diving, but smoking is far too dangerous an activity for bars. Speaking of dangerous, Rybak may wish to heed the advice given by the reviewer next time he leaps off a stage head first: Next time you may want to flip over on your back to protect, the uh, giblets, you know.).

In the review it mentions that Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum said that "we need to vote that Bush motherf*cker out of office". (SP - and the reviewer's comments: "it felt like a relief, like laughter finally come after grief. Amen, brother Dave, Amen." Somebody dropped the MF bomb, phhhhhew, that feels better.)

What's truly unfortunate is that of all the talented bands in the Twin Cities during the 90's, Soul Asylum was the one that made it big. All in all, it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. At least none of the bands I actually enjoy said anything that would cause me to stop enjoying their music. The left can have the Honeydogs and Soul Asylum as far as I'm concerned, I never liked them anyway.

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Sunday, July 18, 2004
I Can Bitch, I Can Bitch

Reginald Dwight has become the latest pampered pop star to whine about his inability to...whine.

In an interview for New York magazine, Sir Reggie claims that:

...stars are scared to speak out against war in Iraq because of "bullying tactics" used by the US government to hinder free speech.
He, true to form, offers no specific examples of these tactics but instead goes on to show his incredible ignorance with statements like this:

"As of this spring, there have been virtually no anti-war concerts--or anti-war songs that catch on, for that matter," he said.

Note that he's not complaining about the lack of anti-war songs just that no such songs have caught on.  Which of the U.S. government's "bullying tactics" are we to believe is responsible for this? 

Reg goes on to say:

"On the one hand, you have someone like Toby Keith, who has come out and been very supportive of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq ...on the other hand, the Dixie Chicks got shot down in flames last year for criticising the president. They were treated like they were being un-American, when in fact they have every right to say whatever they want about him because he's freely elected, and therefore accountable."

Apparently, while Bush must be held accountable for his actions (and rightly so) wankers like Reginald must have free reign to say any hateful thing they wish without fear of that message being rejected by the American people.  It ain't censorship, Reg.  It's called good taste.
The article concludes with this statement:
Sir Elton is currently in New York playing a series of concerts.
At these concerts (on American soil, mind you) Sir Reggie will have a captive audience of several thousand fans to whom he can spout any sort of nonsense he wishes.  Sure sounds like censorship to me. 

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Sweet Dream Are Not Made Of These

It's not easy to make a pompous celebrity blowhard like Sting come across as a voice of reason on political matters, but Annie Lennox manages to do just that in this interview with the singers who are touring together:

Sting, your record also had a lot of political commentary after 9/11. There was a lot of uncertainty that you expressed. Any thoughts about the political climate right now? It's an election year in America.

Sting: I think it's an election year in the world. I think with America being the predominant power in the world, it's really that the power in America affects all of us, whether you live there or not. Personally, I think foreign policy at the moment is a complete mess. I'd like to see that dealt with in a much more inclusive way than it has been, and that's being polite.

Polite and reasonable. You may not agree with Sting, but at least sounds like he's dealing with reality. Unlike Annie Lennox:

Annie, how about your political sense? You continue to help out Amnesty International and Greenpeace.

Lennox: We donated our income on our last [Eurythmics] tour to Amnesty and to Greenpeace. These are two incredibly important causes, and it was an opportunity to do that and to bring awareness to them. . . . I was very concerned when I came to America the last time, because I felt that everything was becoming increasingly censorial in the media. And that was very interesting because I thought, "Wow, America is supposed to be the land of the free." But I felt that was no longer the case when certain artists spoke out and gave their views and were absolutely lambasted for it.

Are you talking about the Dixie Chicks, for example?

Lennox: Yes, I am. It was interesting to watch, but it made you realize that it was no longer a place where one can really speak one's mind.

"No longer a place where one can really speak one's mind"? Pssst...Annie. There's a "documentary" movie that came out a couple of weeks. You might have heard about it. The entire movie is really nothing more than a demented rant against the Bush administation and its policies. Can you please explain how this jives with your silly claim that America is "no longer a place where one can really speak one's mind"?

To borrow a phrase from Laura Ingraham, please just shut up and sing.

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Friday, July 16, 2004
Sing A Song

Clay Calhoun believes that he's found a song just for me. Obviously he's never heard me attempt to carry a tune. This may be a job for The Man From Silver Mountain.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2004
First Avenue Freeze Out

Local rock fan and Fraters reader Chad O. has been duped. By John Kerry and local rock shrine First Avenue no less. Here's his report on an upcoming, deceptively titled show:

On July 18th, there is a show at First Avenue being billed as "Rock For Democracy".  The Flops, Iffy, The Honeydogs, Golden Smog, The Jayhawks, etc. are expected to play.  My friends and I go to a lot of local music shows so seeing this many good local bands in one place was an appealing opportunity.  Now comes the rub, what was being billed as "Rock For Democracy" is actually a fundraiser for John Kerry. 

Unfortunately, they already got my $60 for tickets so I am planning to go, drink a couple of beers and having a few laughs.  One of my friends says he still wants to go, but only if he can wear his Bush Cheney 2004 t-shirt.  I don't really believe that the $60 I paid is going to help JK win the election, but I am really not looking forward to the constant droning of how we were lied to, how anyone but Bush would be better, and so on.

I just wish they had accurately described the show as a fundraiser for Kerry.  I feel as though they misled people in an effort to raise some money for the guy.
Here are two links, first to First Avenue where on the 18th you'll see no mention of John Kerry. The second to Rolling Stone magazine, with a story regarding the show.

Following Chad O's links, I have to laugh. The first line of the Rolling Stone article, describing the show First Avenue promotes as "Rock for Democracy":

Singer-songwriter David Poe is organizing a pair of concerts to benefit Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry's campaign.

Young Chad is learning the hard way the first rule of any politically-oriented music event. It's marinated to its marrow in liberalism. Liberalism of the most naive, least informed, pseudo-rebellious, and impudent sort. All stemming from either the hatred the artists have for their parents (despite the fact most of the guys are in their late 40's), or their hatred toward a society that hasn't appreciated their "genius" enough to allow them to quit their day jobs.

If you go to concerts at any of the hip rooms in this town, you will have to get used to inane, insolent, inarticulate stage pronouncements from the alleged talent. That's been true for years. It's part of the conservative's sacrifice for appreciating local music. But I can understand Chad's particular chagrin in knowing his entire ticket price is going to a candidate he wouldn't donate a dime to under other circumstances. For Chad's sake, let's just hope the show doesn't suck. But with that tired line up (the Flops, Golden Smog), the odds are no better than 50-50.

For future reference please note, any rock event using "democracy" in its title should cause the same red warning lights to flash and sirens to go off as when you casually notice a country in the Almanac whose official name includes "Democratic People's Republic". That's trouble mister.

If I were you Chad O., and I had already bought the ticket, I'd go too. $60 are indeed righteous bucks. But as a way to amuse yourself, let me suggest you listen carefully to the between song comments, write them down and report it all back here to Fraters Libertas. Let's find out exactly which local artists are the most inarticulate, superficial, and/or most under the influence of controlled substances. I have no doubt the competition will be intense.


Friday, July 09, 2004
Adjectives On A Typewriter

Former Viking running back Robert Smith has a book coming out:

If Robert Smith had his way, no one would care why he abruptly quit professional football three years ago. In his world view, people would focus on more critical issues than why a 28-year-old superstar gave up $40 million with no explanation.

Smith, who rarely gives interviews, spoke with a reporter Thursday to promote his autobiography. The former Vikings running back said society has gone too far in elevating athletes to celebrity status. It is a central theme of his book, "The Rest of the Iceberg: An Insider's View on the World of Sport and Celebrity," and it represents a large portion of a complicated explanation for his departure from sports and public life.

Viking fans might be interested in his explanation for running out of bounds in the fourth quarter of 1999 NFC title game against the Falcons while the Vikings were trying to drain time off the clock. Not that I'm bitter about it or anything.

He's not the only new author with a local connection:

Jacob Slichter has been in this boat before, getting rave reviews from not-so-little rags such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, talking about advances and publicists, and browsing the bins at his local stores to make sure his new release is stocked.

No, there isn't a new Semisonic album out. The drummer for Minneapolis' favorite power-pop band has a new book, "So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful of Record Executives and Other True Tales from a Drummer's Life", which is all about Semisonic's less-than-enviable jaunt in the major-label marathon.

Both sound like great reads. That is, if anyone is even reading anymore.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004
The Way They Are

This weekend Barbara Streisand attempted to get into the novelty song business, parodying her own lyrics to "People" with this attempt at sticking it to George W. Bush. A sampling:

I MEAN G - O - P - EOPLE -


I don't think Weird Al or Ray Stevens has anything to worry about. Although I would like to see what Streisand could do with the Stevens classic A-Hab the A-Rab.

Jennifer from Eagan writes in with her own parody of Streisand's "The Way We Were":

Activism--turns on the bulb of my tiny mind.
I don't think Bush caused 9/11 --but they say "that's the way things were."

Scattered pictures of Kerry at the communion rail. Sees no contradiction being Catholic and pro-choice. Wants to propose abortions by mail.

Can it be that I'm such a simpleton?
Fundraising for John Kerry who supports men marrying men? If we have the chance to vote for Dukakis again tell me, would we, could we?

Memories of beheadings on the internet.
911, torture, and terrorists--we simply choose to forget.

So it's the laughter, the belief in God and heaven. Whenever we remember our world before 911. I wish we could go back to being "The Way We Were".

That's great stuff. I'm sure it would be even better if I knew the melody to that sappy song, but I'll trust Jennifer nailed the meter exactly. For more on Streisand and more song parodies, check out Tim Blair and his commenters. Tim Blair and the Commenters, now that's a band I'd pay to see.

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Friday, June 11, 2004
Soul Music

By the way, if you listened to the stirring renditions of Battle Hymn of the Republic, Amazing Grace, and Ode to Joy at the state funeral today and were not touched in some way emotionally, you are not human. The funeral program is available here.

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Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Radio, Someone Still Loves You

Springsteen is over.

(......I'll pause to accomodate your gasps and shrieks of protest....)

(ahem...) Saying again, Springsteen is over. Yes, he'll continue to be very popular and prominent nationally, he'll continue to sell lots of records to his fan base, and hell continue to pack arenas and concert halls for his live appearnaces. However, as these statements can also be applied to the comedy stylings of Gallager they alone are not evidence of worth.

As a vital, creative artist, making contributions to the conversation of the mass culture, Springsteen is done. As a continuing benchmark for people to measure the significance of their own lives, he's through. And as a conduit for which people can make new memories, it's all over, and it has been for decades.

I attended the concert on Tuesday night at the Excel arena, and while it was a good show (and by that I mean I didn't have to wait in line for beer or at the men's room) the event and "happening" itself was seriously flawed. A few observations will serve to prove (and expose) my vague reasoning.

1) Any artist that compels forty year old men, with graying hair, owlish eye glasses, and soft underbellies, to dance about clumsily, with wild abandon, is doing a disservice to our culture. Physical signs of age, especially on men, should generally be considered a badge of honor. They mean that you have faced the challenges life inevitably puts in front of you and that you have endured. So you should get respect. But, when witnessing these individuals jumping around like Scotsmen at a pay toilet and shouting "woo hoo" like wild Mdewankaton Sioux on dividend disbursement day, all gravitas earned by 45 years of living immediately and irrevocably disappears. Those that witness this display lose respect for them and I would surmise these individuals lose a certain level of respect for themselves.

I'm sure most of these men are reasonable citizens, they hold responsible jobs and are raising children with the requisite amount of self esteem. Yet, out of context from the rest of their lives and historic stations in life, they choose to behave, in public, like inebriated adoloscents when listening to songs from decades ago. Needless to say, there was no celebrating during the dirge-like selections from "The Rising"--except perhaps when Patty Scalfia stopped bellowing during her throaty and coarse, Linda McCartney-like vocal solos. Most people seemed bored during all of these new songs and reacted as if they were a temporary (and over-long) respite between the nostalgia they came to hear. Which brings up another point.

2) For all practical purposes, Springsteen is nothing more than a nostalgia act. Yet the fawning media and his fans regard this music (and themselves) as something much higher and more significant. From my observations, people are really only there to wake up the echoes of songs they heard in high school or community college and to dredge up the memories of booting in the Met Center parking lot back in '87. There were explosions of acclimation whenever a classic hit cranked up. Yet the mood was sleepy and suffocating during the new songs (and no, that's not because people were acting intentionally solemn based on the substance of the songs themselves, they were intentionally zoned out and biding their time for the next opportunity to move spasmodically with their arms and legs akimbo). And there's absolutely nothing wrong with this. But, this limited appeal, as defined by his own fans, makes Springsteen no different than say Jimmy Buffet or Steve Miller. And not that much different from Creedence Clearwater Revisited and Joey Mullond's Badfinger. Yet these acts are treated with indifference and outright disdain by rock journalists and by the Springsteen fans, who no doubt fancy themselves much more hip and cutting edge than that.

3) Finally, very few of the fans seem to appreciate the anti-establishment and anti-American subtext of the entire Springsteen catalog. Since most of those in attendance are the establishment, it furthers leads to a disconnect between what the scruffy millionaire on stage is saying and how the soccer dads and office gals with attitude in the audience are reacting. The clearest example of this was Bruce's prelude to "Born in the USA"--which was the final song of the night. As anyone who's paying attention realizes, the song is nothing more than a muddled rant and a laundry list of complaints about being poorly educated and low skilled and the lifestyle that leads to in an advanced, information based economy. Oh yes, it also has a big, empowering chorus that's intended as an ironic condemnation of the land of the free. But, as is usually the case, irony is lost on the masses, and most people reasonably accept the chorus for what the words actually say, out of context from the rest of the song. (This misperception may have been exacerbated by the Reagan Administration's brilliant co-opting of the song during the 1984 presidential campaign, but I suspect that didn't have much of a lasting affect.).

So before the fist few keyboard notes were hi, to kick off said song, Bruce engaged in a little anti-war rhetoric. Nothing specific or substantive of course. Rather, he merely resorted to the general and vauge "questionning" of our government's motives, that is so much in vogue among elected politicians of the Democratic party. Just like them, I guess Bruce wants to be re-elected too (that is sell more records and tickets) so he won't come out and give us any counter argument to the one proposed by the President. Bruce warned us not to go rushing into anything because "all war is real, real bad" (or something to that affect, with a similar working class affected intonation on his part). This drew shrieks of agreement and applause from about half the crowd (the other half was checking their watches, no doubt wondering if they'd get home in time before the babysitter's rate kicked into overtime).

But then an odd thing happened. The song started and those very people applauding Bruce's rhetoric and principled non-stance started waving American flags and singing along with the chorus with pride and determination. It's almost as if they weren't paying attention to anything at all, besides the monologues going on in their own heads.


Friday, September 13, 2002
Juke Box Heroics

Last night at the Groveland Tap, between games of pool (the series of which I ultimately reigned victorious over my overmatched opponent the Bird) I was perusing the juke box selection, looking for just the right 3-song mix to ease my fevered and over served mind. Per usual, I was looking for obscure gems that would gain mass acceptance, get the room cooking to a low simmer, and yet still establish my superior knowledge and appreciation of music to all who were paying attention. A challenge at any venue, but particularly so in an ersatz college sports bar in midtown St. Paul. As I internally debated the merits of Oasis' Wonderwall vs. the Band's The Weight as my opening salvo, I was interrupted by the soft, breathy, and audibly playful query "Exactly what is a 'Boz Scaggs' anyway?"

Turning towards my questioner, and much to my pleasant surprise, I identified her as the beautiful, long-brown-haired, long-legged, plaid skirt wearing young woman who was playing pool at the table immediately next to ours. In response, and also in a rather soft and breathy manner (as her unexpected presence and attention literally knocked the wind from me) I replied with a note of mock incredulity ,"You don't know who Boz Scaggs is? You've never heard of the finest blue-eyed soul funksmith to come out of the greater Madison Wisconsin area in the past 30 years?" (I guess that's opposed to Otis Redding, the finest soul artist to go INTO Madison, Wisconsin in the last 30 years ). She smiled and laughed and acknowledged her ignorance. I told her I would take the pleasure of introducing the two of them to each other and she responded with a cheerful "all right!" We engaged in few minutes of Jane Austen-style comedy of manners repartee, and as I finally got around to punching in the 4 digit code for "Lido" a large, thick and ordinary presence entered my peripheral vision, followed by a dull, oafish voice saying "Hey, what are you gunna to do, play some music or somethin'?"

Between his locked on, lifeless gaze and baseball cap covered sloping forehead, it became immediately apparent that this was the boyfriend or at least that night's date and he was there to put an end to any shenanigans he suspected was up. And he succeeded. She told him "no, we're just talking about music" and then she demurely thanked me for the Boz Scaggs info and excused herself to go back and play pool. It was a fleeting couple of minutes and I was disappointed to see her go so soon, but I also knew that things weren't quite ending just there. I would have the entirety of "Lido" and the magic of Boz Scaggs to keep those moments lingering on. Whether or not she would choose to acknowledge it, I knew I'd still possess at least some of her consciousness during that song, such was the positive vibe that emanated from our brief discussion. And I also realized that if I were to choose wisely with my other two songs, well then, I'd have her on the hook for up to 10 full minutes. And if it all ended there, after an energized, bittersweet, regretful but beautiful journey through the best AOR to rock of the 70s, 80's, and today, well then it may just rank in my top five relationships of all time.

And it didn't take me long to find the other two songs. A few button flips over from Boz was a collection of Prince hits, any number of which would have worked for my purposes. But near the bottom of the list was the ideal selection. As I clearly caught a glimpse of the flame of intelligence in her eyes and therefore could assume an appreciation of irony, I dialed in the code for the rollicking, subtly poignant and sadly beautiful "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man." This song would keep the up tempo vibe of "Lido", it would communicate my appreciation for the genius of old school Prince, and most importantly, it would state as Prince intended, 'of course, I could take the place of your man, but it's simply not going to happen.'

This bittersweet message would allow me to transition to a slightly more downbeat tone for the final number, one that had to communicate regret and longing and the beauty of a love untold. As there was no Westerberg in the juke, I turned to an older master, David Bowie and the song "The Man Who Sold the World." A song not specifically about the matters at hand, but clearly focusing on coming to terms with the poor choices one makes in life, and about looking back in anger and sadness and wondering how else it might have all turned out. I suspected she'd eventually recognize the song from the Cobain version of a few years ago--she was that young. But the thin, reedy, space oddity voice of Bowie would add to the intended affect of momentarily rising above one's limitations--both those self imposed and those enforced from the broader social context.

3 songs--that's all a dollar buys you and just maybe it was enough. I returned to finish kicking the Bird's arse at pool, while keeping an eye on Miss Plaid Skirt for her reactions. And, by God, my plan seemed to work. She smiled and playfully nodded her head back and forth to Lido and at the end of the song turned to me and winked (gulp). Too perfectly and impossibly, she sang along to the Prince song and danced about just a little bit (which contrasted to her boyfriend's perpetual Easter Island statue impersonation). And during Bowie she slowly, almost wistfully rocked back and forth and at all the right moments, stared off into the distance and almost imperceptibly sighed. (Of course all of these moments occurred in between her setting up 3 corner bank shots and dropping her sledge hammer break on the various racks of balls--but allow me some poetic license here). Soon after the droning, plaintive wailing of the Bowie song ended, she and her man left the room and that indeed was that. But it was ten minutes of light and beauty on a dark Thursday night and I think I've rarely spent a better dollar.


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