Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays

I still like Christmas, in spite of Fox News’ relentless and ignoble efforts to destroy it.

[Wil Wheaton has written an excellent essay about the effects of Fox News and the conservative radio on all of us. He links to Salon where the entire essay can be read with a day pass.]

Yesterday, the Viscountess and I went to Costco to shop for our annual Christmas party. This years’ was last night. We had all 6 of our children, the boyfriends of the two oldest, and my brother and sister-in-law.

We had a great time. Costco was crowded, but people (for the most part) seemed in good spirits. The checkout line was as long as I’d ever seen it, but it went lightening fast. The checker is a very nice lady in her late 30’s maybe. Southern accent. We’d had her before. The last time we were there, at the end of the transaction I couldn’t find my card. She said, “I gave it to you.” I said, “I can’t seem to find it.” She said, (matter-of-factly, with an absence of annoyance or sarcasm) “Sir, I’m certain that I gave it to you, please look again” and sure enough it was tucked behind another credit card in my wallet. It struck me that she was so nice about it. So many people who work with the public become callous and jaded, and her treatment of me and my mistake was refreshing.

As we were checking out, I said to her, “We both agree you are the best checker here. This line was so long and yet it flew. We’ve had you before and you do a great job.” I went on to tell her the story about the misplaced credit card. She said, “Sir, you made my day. That is all I want for Christmas, is to be appreciated.” Then she said, “You know, I’ve been saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to people, and no one has been offended or anything.” I said, “Yeah, if people say 'Merry Christmas,' 'Happy Holidays,' 'Season’s Greetings,' 'Happy Hanukah,' or whatever they mean well, so why would anyone be offended? The only person who seems to have a problem is Bill O’Reilly.” She laughed and said, “Yeah, he’s a trip, isn’t he?” and we all smiled. I said, “Merry Christmas and Happy New” year and she said “Same to you” and we left.

After we loaded up the Vibe, (we LOVE that car - my wife’s Regal’s transmission self-destructed at 40k and the car had given us trouble in the past so she traded it for an ’05 vibe) I had to return to the cart, and I found myself riding it across the parking lot, like I used to do when I was a kid. It felt so good.

I don’t look or act my age. Lots of people think that about themselves, but it is true with me. Full head of hair. Some sparse flecks of gray. Most of my friends at work are 10 to 15 years younger than I am. I still get into trouble sometimes for laughing too loud.

Doesn’t change that fact that I am 48. Not old, oh no, but, beyond that feeling that “unless I scratch the 8 ball, I got at least another 40 years.” Nope, can’t really say that at this point. They way I said it the other day was, “if I get 80 years, I’m in the middle of my 3rd quarter.” Still, I rode that cart like I was 12. Wind blowing back my hair, feeling the vibration from the wheels on the pavement and a big grin on my face. “This is still fun” I thought as I rode the cart to the corral. I walked back to the car with a little skip in my step.

Later on in the day, I picked up my brother and we went to my favorite wine shop and chatted with the “wine guy” who knows way more about wine than anyone I have ever met. He recommended and we bought a bottle of Bordeaux and a Red Zinfandel. Both were bargains. The Bordeaux was $16.99 and the Red Zin was only $8.99, but when “Robert” tells me to buy something I know I won’t be sorry.

The party started about 6:30. I put some Christmas discs on the changer, Diana Krall's "Christmas Songs,” a generic Christmas CD that we bought some years ago at a supermarket, and two odd things that I got over the years. One is called, “Xmas - The Beatmas” and the other is “A Fab Four Christmas.” Both bands make their livings playing Beatles music. “The Beatmas” are actually The Rubber Band. Both CD’s have the same theme: they rearrange classic Beatle songs and sing Christmas carols to the music.

We had lots of food. A spiral-sliced ham, 7 layer dip and tortilla chips, tiny hot dogs wrapped in bacon, bruschetta, pasta shells in marinara sauce, cheese and crackers, stuffed cabbage, and lots of sweets.

After dinner, we sat around in a big circle in the living room and just talked. We exchanged gifts with my brother and sister-in-law and the two boyfriends, because they won’t be here on Christmas morning. The adults drank the two bottles of wine, and Robert was right, they were bargains. The Bordeaux drank like a $40 bottle of wine, and the Zin drank like a $20 bottle.

The party was over; the boyfriends and my brother were gone. Those of us that were still awake watched the Dick Cheney / George C. Scott version “A Christmas Carol.” It was great. Made me feel optimistic and happy all over again.

It doesn’t have to be bad. We can’t let a bunch of vocal selfish self-righteous people destroy all that is good about our lives. I love the holidays, and for today, I feel optimistic.

I believe we have turned the corner. It will take time, but things will get better. Remember, everything we do matters. If we choose to do the right thing in every situation, in spite of self-interest, in spite of being surrounded by others who don’t seem to, we do make a difference.

I will be away until New Year’s Eve, with limited access to the internet. Here is wishing all of you Happy Holidays. Life is short – enjoy the good times when you are lucky enough to have them.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

All I Want For Christmas

Cartoon by Ted Rall

So what will it be? "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays?"

It better be "Merry Christmas," or WE are going to get ANGRY!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

These Days

Pictured Above - "The Trim" circa summer of 1978
From left to right back row: M.T. Vanus - Guitar,Keys, Bk vox; Terence "Terpy" Douglas - Guitar and Lead vox / front row: Dave Rigel Five - Drums; Quill "The Nipper" Knip - Lead Guitar, Keys and bk vox; The Viscount - Bass guitar.

It was 1977. Classic rock was about to shot between the eyes in the USA by the second British Invasion, but we didn’t know and didn’t care. We loved Steely Dan and thought it would be cool to have a song in 7/4.

A friend of ours who was in his first year of Medical School decided to marry his college sweetheart. Our friend (let’s call him “Dr. S. Papers,”) was a bit of a lady’s man, and had some issues with fidelity. His college sweetheart, (let’s call her “Sophia”) had a couple of misunderstandings with reality. Her father, who owned his own construction business and (it was rumored) had some “friends” who sat in the back of the restaurant, if you know what I mean. I know, because she was my ex-girlfriend and her parents didn’t want a wannabe rock-star for a son-in-law who (by their standards) came from the other side of the tracks. They wanted at least a Doctor. That’s ok, because I didn’t even want to be a son-in-law. The romance died of natural causes mainly because we really didn’t like each other all that much and I had no Romeo and Juliet illusions.


Dr. Papers and Sophia got married, and the two songwriters in my band made a prediction with this song. Fortunately for the Doc, the predictions were not entirely accurate. He is still alive and well, practicing medicine. Sophia is apparently living off of a very generous divorce settlement.

This was done in a nice studio on an 8 Track machine. We recorded bass, drums and rhythm guitar first and then over-dubbed the rest of the tracks. I had one cassette copy that was damaged, but prior to that I had copied it tape to tape on a compilation. I used that copy to create the MP3, so there is some loss of fidelity and hiss. Still, the song comes through, and it remains one of my favorite tracks that I have been associated with during my long non-career in music.

"These Days"
By M.T. Vanus and Terence Douglas Copyright 1978

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why Aren't They Angry?

When the Democrats are in power, all I hear from the Republican hypocrites is how intrusive is the government. How big is the government. How the government sticks its nose into peoples' personal business. How democrats spend spend and spend. How our foreign policy engages in "nation building" and "foreign intervention."

Now we have a Republican government. All three branches, for all intents and purposes. Now we know what it is really like to have an intrusive government. A big government. A government that sticks its nose into peoples' personal business. A government that is spending us into bankruptcy. A foreign policy that includes pre-emptive war, and forced democracy.

Can you hear the deafening silence from most of them?

Some of them want restrictions on abortion. Looks like they are getting their way.

Some of them want no restrictions on guns. The assault weapons ban has expired.

All of them want lower taxes on the richest people. We know how that one went.

There isn't an ounce of integrity between them. They were all for sale and have been bought and paid for.

I hope they are happy.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Everytime I start writing, I get this overwhelming feeling of futility.

Bill O’Reilly.

Rush Limbaugh.

Ann Coulter.

Sean Hannity.

Neil Boortz.

When will we hold them accountable?


This week’s Top 10.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Wild-Eyed Lunatic

His name is Howard Dean. He has been accused of treason. He has been vilified by his opponents and members of his own party. He has been depicted as wild-eyed and insane.

He must be doing something right.

I linked to “In Defense of Howard Dean” from The New Republic by John B. Judis article yesterday, but I think Dean’s comments deserve to be repeated.

From the article:

February 2003. After Secretary of State Colin Powell made his case for war at the United Nations, most other leading Democrats applauded. Senator Joe Biden called Powell's case "very powerful and, I think, irrefutable." Senator John Kerry called it "compelling." Only Dean dissented. "I heard little today that leads me to believe that there is an imminent threat warranting unilateral military action by the United States against Iraq," he said.

Later that month, Dean warned that the Bush administration was preparing to invade Iraq unilaterally. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay charged that Dean "either doesn't know what he's talking about ... or he's seriously uninformed, or he's just misleading the American people and his party."

April 2003. Senator Joe Lieberman declared that the capture of Baghdad and the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime vindicated his support for the invasion. "The vindication that I feel is the confidence that with Saddam gone, America's going to be a lot safer than it otherwise would have been," Lieberman said. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt said that "it's a continuation of a historic, long-term trend that we stand on the right side." Once again the dissenter, Dean said, "All these folks who are crowing about their vote and the outcome are going to learn that the occupation will be very difficult." He added, "I'm not a pacifist. We've removed a horrible dictator, but the price we're going to pay is down the road."

June 2003. As reports began to surface that the Bush administration might have misled the country about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, many leading Democrats were hesitant to question the administration's probity. Republicans dismissed any doubts. Senator George Allen asserted, "It's not a question." But Dean said, "We need a thorough look at what really happened going into Iraq. It appears to me that what the president did was make a decision to go into Iraq sometime in early 2002, or maybe even late 2001, and then try to get the justification afterward."

December 2003-January 2004. After Saddam Hussein was captured on December 14, Dean appeared to go out on the farthest of limbs. "[T]he capture of Saddam has not made America safer," Dean said. "The Iraq war diverted critical intelligence and military resources, undermined diplomatic support for our fight against terror, and created a new rallying cry for terrorist recruits." Gephardt termed Dean's statement "ludicrous." Kerry took it as "more proof that all the advisors in the world can't give Howard Dean the military and foreign-policy experience, leadership skills, or diplomatic temperament necessary to lead this country through dangerous times." Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said, "It's baffling that anyone could possibly think life under a brutal dictator who routinely tortured, raped, and imprisoned his own people is better than the freedom and democracy taking root in Iraq today."

[Last week] "The idea that we're going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is just plain wrong.” “What we see today is very much like what was going on in Watergate.”

[End of excerpts]

While I’m at it, let’s take a look at some of the other ravings from this "wild-eyed lunatic."

“Tom DeLay is corrupt. No question about it. This is a guy who shouldn’t be in Congress and maybe ought to be serving in jail.”

“I don't hate Republicans as individuals. But I hate what the Republicans are doing to this country. I really do.”

“I supported the war in Afghanistan because 3000 of our people were murdered and I thought we had a right to defend the people of the United States.”

“I think most people... would be glad to pay the same taxes they paid when Bill Clinton was president, if only they could have the same economy they had when Bill Clinton was president.”

“I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy. Democrats have strong moral values. Frankly, my moral values are offended by some of the things I hear on programs like ‘Rush Limbaugh,’ and we don't have to put up with that.”

“I'm a committed Christian. I worship in my own way. That's my business. That's not the business of the pharisees who are going to preach to me about what I do and then do something else.”

“The issue is not abortion. The issue is whether women can make up their own mind instead of some right-wing pastor, some right-wing politician telling them what to do.”

“The way we're going to win elections in this country is not to become Republican lite. The way we're going to win elections in this country is to stand up for what we believe in.”

“What the propagandists on the right have done is make people afraid to say they are Democrats."

"We have got to stop having the campaigns run in this country based on abortion, guns, God and gays..”

“Hypocrisy is a value that I think has been embraced by the Republican Party. We get lectured by people all day long about moral values by people who have their own moral shortcomings.”

Howard Dean is never going to be President, and his days as chairman of the Democratic party are likely numbered.

Too bad. I guess old H.L. Mencken was right when he said:

"The men American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try and tell them the truth."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

US Blues

[Sigh.] This is getting more and more difficult by the minute...

You know, I couldn't give two shits for Tookie Williams, but they shouldn’t have killed him. We’re never going to get there by government sanctioned killing. No way. No how. It is disgusting and despicable.

And spare me the “What he did was disgusting and despicable.”

No shit.

I hate criminals. Lock their asses up and never let them out to do it again. If they write books and produce DVDs to help kids avoid making similar mistakes, good on them, but that doesn’t undo the pain and suffering they’ve caused.

But government organized killing in cold blood does no one any good either. The more violence you have, the more you have. Less is better.

In the meantime…

Record deficits, tax-cuts for the richest people.
Jobs leaving and never coming back.
Wanton disregard and destruction of the ecosystem.
Record profits for the oil companies with gas prices soaring.
Heating oil and natural gas prices sky-rocketing.
Rampant corruption in the Republican controlled congress.
Lies and more lies being told.
Homeland security unable to cope with a hurricane, never mind terrorists.
A few people getting richer and richer.
A bunch of people getting poorer and poorer.

And a War. Not an unavoidable “you shouldn’t a oughta done that you godamn Nazis” war, but a “we’re gonna scare the shit outa you and lie to you and make shit up so you’ll support a war” war.

What can I do? I can’t tell if it is permanent or not, but I am left more or less speechless. The country is in a shambles, but what is the point of talking about it? I mean, all of it is in plain sight now, isn’t it? Do you need to tell someone who is watching their house burn down in the middle of the night that their house is on fire? What if they turn to you and say, “My house isn’t on fire, you’re just a bleeding heart liberal who hates my house, so why should I listen to you?”

You know what I think did it? The stupid “War on Christmas,” and all the other non-issues that get trotted out and hyped in the MSM as if they were something important. It is a device that is used over and over and over again. Dixie Chicks. The French. The 10 Commandments in Alabama. Calling people like Howard Dean treasonous for telling the truth. [Note: If you google "In Defense of Howard Dean" a link comes up that bypasses the free registration to read the linked article. Definitely worth the read.] And now we got a potential front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, co-sponsoring a bill to make flag-burning a crime. I mean, flag-burning? Hillary? C’mon, have a little mercy on us! Jesus Christ on a motorcycle with Mary in the sidecar!Even she doesn’t notice the house is in flames? What a waste of time.

[Time for a mini-rant: Down here in the 'burbs of Atlanta, I'm surrounded by patriots who get all fired up at the prospect of some no-good liberal-pansy-assed-yankee burning up old glory in an anti-war protest march nevermind that most of 'em never ever witnessed that not even on TV but in the meantime they adorn their Hummers, McMansions, mailboxes, even their torsos with old glory and they leave them out 24 /7 , with no light shining upon them in the dark of night, exposed to the elements until they are torn and frayed, but that's ok, that's just fine, but if someone has become outraged at the mess these fools have made of our country and wants to express that outrage by burning a flag, these "patriots" want to take away their freedom and put 'em in jail, freedom that they are always yammering on about, "that's why we're over there you damn commie!"]

I agree with George Clooney.

This song comes to mind, but I don’t know why. Maybe I’ll see if I can get my band to play it.

U.S. Blues
Music by Jerry Garcia / Words by Robert Hunter

Red and white/blue suede shoes
I'm Uncle Sam /how do you do?
Gimme five/I'm still alive
Ain't no luck/I learned to duck

Check my pulse/it don't change
Stay seventy two/come shine or rain
Wave the flag/pop the bag
Rock the boat/skin the goat

Wave that flag
Wave it wide and high
Done come and gone
My oh my

I'm Uncle Sam /that's who I am
Been hidin' out/in a rock and roll band
Shake the hand that shook the hand
Of P.T. Barnum/and Charlie Chan

Shine your shoes/light your fuse
Can you use/them ol' U.S. Blues?
I'll drink your health/share your wealth
Run your life/steal your wife

Wave that flag
Wave it wide and high
Summertime done
Come and gone
My oh my

Back to back/chicken shack
Son of a gun/better change your act
We're all confused/what's to lose?
You can call this song/the United States Blues

Wave that flag
Wave it wide and high
Summertime done come and gone
My oh My
Summertime done come and gone
My oh My

Don't forget this week's Top 10.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The War On Reason

The War on Christmas is already old news. The fact that people actually discuss it doesn’t surprise me anymore, but it only adds to my post-outrage fatigue. How is that people in this 21st century, living in the wealthiest nation on earth, with access to instant information can be so willfully ignorant? How many people know that Constantine and The Church decided to merge the winter pagan celebration and other European customs with the birth of Jesus for political reasons? How many Christians have ever even heard of Yule?

The very idea that mega-corporations are bowing to pressure from “secularists” because their advertisements say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” should be classed as satire. Does anyone who truly understand the teachings of Jesus Christ actually believe that he would condone the way our culture celebrates his “birthday?” That he would prefer that the corporations who, in order to increase their wealth by appealing to the greed in his potential disciples use the term “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”? That he would turn a blind-eye to the suffering of so many at the hands of so few and actually promote the corporate agenda whose only purpose in life is to generate wealth through exploitation? That the actions of our president and our government and our corporations and all of us are perfectly acceptable but the words “Happy Holidays” are offensive?


Thursday, December 08, 2005

December 8th, 1980

I was checking out a club with the singer songwriter of my band. We wanted to see if it was a good place for us to play.

We got in the car, and all the rock stations were playing The Beatles.

Announcer: “John Lennon has been shot outside of his home at the Dakota Building.”

Announcer: “… at least one bullet.”

Announcer: “… at least two bullets.”

Announcer: ”… at least three bullets

Announcer: “… four bullets.”

Announcer “… John Lennon is dead.”

Heard on the train the next day: “Good for his ass. He was a commie.”

Heard at my friend's house from his dad: “I don’t understand the big deal. This didn’t happen when Bing Crosby died.”

Heard at my office: “Don’t worry Al, there’ll be another John Lennon.”

The Late Great Johnny Ace
By Paul Simon

I was reading a magazine
And thinking of a rock and roll song
The year was 1954
And I hadn’t been playing that long
When a man came on the radio
And this is what he said
He said I hate to break it
To his fans
But Johnny Ace is dead

Well, I really wasn’t
Such a Johnny Ace fan
But I felt bad all the same
So I sent away for his photograph
And I waited till it came
It came all the way from Texas
With a sad and simple face
And they signed it on the bottom
From the Late Great Johnny Ace

It was the year of the Beatles
It was the year of the Stones
It was 1964
I was living in London
With the girl from the summer before
It was the year of the Beatles
It was the year of the Stones
A year after J.F.K.
We were staying up all night
And giving the days away
And the music was flowing
And blowing my way

On a cold December evening
I was walking through the Christmas tide
When a stranger came up and asked me
If I’d heard John Lennon had died
And the two of us
Went to this bar
And we stayed to close the place
And every song we played
Was for the Late Great Johnny Ace

Empty Garden
By Elton John and Bernie Taupin

What happened here
As the New York sunset disappeared
I found an empty garden among the flagstones there
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And now it all looks strange
It's funny how one insect can damage so much grain

And what's it for
This little empty garden by the brownstone door
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And we are so amazed we're crippled and we're dazed
A gardener like that one no one can replace

And I've been knocking but no one answers
And I've been knocking most all the day
Oh and I've been calling oh hey hey Johnny
Can't you come out to play

And through their tears
Some say he farmed his best in younger years
But he'd have said that roots grow stronger if only he could hear
Who lived there
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls
We hear, we hear your name

Johnny can't you come out to play in your empty garden

Blaze of Glory
By Joe Jackson

Johnny was a young boy
with nothing much except a certain kind of look in his eye
He was discovered one day - you see he had a certain kind of appeal
for a certain kind of guy
Who gave him some advice on what to wear
and sent him out to make the young girls cry
And all the young boys who'd just been dumb and restless
now they could identify

So tell me who'll take the blame
for the way things turned out

Well six long months passed and Johnny was the biggest thing alive
And we loved Johnny and we owned Johnny
and no one knew how Johnny felt inside
And Johnny was so beautiful, he was like a god
and we all went along for the ride
And the ride started to go too fast
and Johnny just conveniently died

And he went up in flames
He did what he had to do

And they say it's a tragic story
he just wasn't there one day
but he went out in a Blaze of Glory
and you and I - you and I just fade away

Well nowadays there's a lot of guys like Johnny
they got it all worked out - like working 9 to 5
But they're all just cartoons - all think they're Superman
but they can't even fly
And they say that Johnny's ghost walks 'round in Memphis
when the moon is full and high
And I wonder if he sees these jokers
and I wonder if he laughs or if he cries

Now he's an angel in flames
But what about you and me

And they say it's a tragic story
he just wasn't there one day
but he went out in a Blaze of Glory
and you and I - you and I just fade away


"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."

"My role in society, or any artist's or poet's role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all. "

"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I'm liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it. "

"Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted. "

"It's fear of the unknown. The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that--it's all illusion. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it's unknown and it's plain sailing. Everything is unknown--then you're ahead of the game. That's what it is. Right?"

"Listen, if anything happens to Yoko and me,
it was not an accident."

- John Lennon


25 Years, and I'm still angry and I'm still not over it...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Late In The Evening

As some may have noticed, I haven’t been very prolific lately. Part of it is writer’s block, or better yet, “bloggers block,” because I don’t qualify as a writer. Hermann Hesse was a writer. “The Glass Bead Game” and “Siddhartha” is what I would want to write if I was a writer.

Also I have been busy as it happens toward the end of the year.

One thing I was thinking is that Bobby Lightfoot is one influential cat. I tossed a couple posts away because I found myself riffing on his blogging style and I can’t cut it.

But it isn’t just that. It is the way he sees it and the way he says it and the way he lives it.

I come to find out that Kevin Wolf felt the same way and posted about it.

Music has always been special in my life. One of my earliest memories is my mother putting on “The Nutcracker Suite” to keep me busy while she cleaned the house. I was maybe three. I remember picturing the pliers-style nutcracker that we had dancing to the music. I was so little that I was still naturally in a state of Zen. I didn’t consider why someone would make music about a nutcracker. Someone did, and I liked it.

This reminded me of a great and often over-looked song by Paul Simon. I should say right now that I’m not a big fan of his solo work; I much prefer the music he did with Artie. Still, I love this tune, lyrically and musically.

Late in the Evening
by Paul Simon

The first thing I remember
I was lying in my bed
I couldn’t of been no more
Than one or two
I remember there’s a radio
Comin’ from the room next door
And my mother laughed
The way some ladies do
When it’s late in the evening
And the music’s seeping through

The next thing I remember
I am walking down the street
I’m feeling all right
I’m with my boys
I’m with my troops, yeah
And down along the avenue
Some guys were shootin’ pool
And I heard the sound of a cappella groups, yeah
Singing late in the evening
And all the girls out on the stoops, yeah

Then I learned to play some lead guitar
I was underage in this funky bar
And I stepped outside to smoke myself a “J”
And when I came back to the room
Everybody just seemed to move
And I turned my amp up loud and began to play
And it was late in the evening
And I blew that room away

The first thing I remember
When you came into my life
I said I’m gonna get that girl
No matter what I do
Well I guess I’d been in love before
And once or twice been on the floor
But I never loved no one
The way I loved you
And it was late in the evening
And all the music seeping through”

From "One Trick Pony."


I’m going to come clean right now and say that I am not a great musician. I have some talent, but it doesn’t come easy. I can’t just pick up the bass and go. I have to learn the song and feel my way around a part and play it for a while before it is nailed. The end result is often an effective bass part that I am proud of, but it doesn’t just pour out of me.

And I can’t sing a note.

Still, my love of music and small amount of talent mixed with an ambition and ethic has gotten me to a point where I can play, and I get a lot of enjoyment from it. I am currently working on an original project with some ex-band mates and Soundsurfr, but the going is very slow, and I really miss performing music.

Reading Bobby made me want to join a band again, play some Stones, Beatles, Elvis Presely and some 70’s stuff too. There are a lot of people out there who want to go to a pub on Friday or Saturday night and hear that music played competently, and that I can do.

I answered an add on Craigslist and am now in a start-up cover band. Should be more fun than it is, but it is coming with a cost. The drummer is a great guy, and he is one of the founding members. He is in his early 40’s and has been playing drums since he was a kid, but never in a band. He recently joined his church band and it gave him the confidence to join a cover band. He is very enthusiastic and calls me and emails me frequently about the project. The rhythm-guitarist / singer is in his later 40’s. He had played in cover bands before he got married and had kids to. He is very good at his role and is a great guy. When I first joined the band they had a female lead vocalist, but she wanted to make it big so she left. She had a fine voice but otherwise was not a good fit.

My experience was very attractive to the two founding members. I know how to run a rehearsal. I know how to make a band sound tight. The problem is that the drummer is a few beats shy of adequate. He really can’t cut it. I am angry with myself because I knew it from day one, but I told myself that "it would be ok. It is just a small cover band."

Except it isn’t ok. He can’t keep a steady beat. There are other problems, but there isn’t any point in mentioning them. It would be like saying, “The lead singer is off-key, AND she doesn’t remember the words.” This is making me feel awful, because I don’t want to be the one to burst his bubble. I wanted this to be fun, and the last thing I want to do is tell some nice guy that he can’t play. He is a decent man and he wants this to work out so badly. I thought this sort of thing was behind me, but it isn’t.

I don't want to waste my time in a band that can never be good, and with the current drummer, we can't be.

I have raised this issue with the guitarist, and we are going to record the next session so he can listen back and see if he agrees. Not sure what we will do after that. I might just have to quit.


I thought I would start posting some of the music I’ve done over the years.

This was the first track original song I ever played bass on. It was done New Years Eve 1976. I was 19. At the time we were blown away by the sound of it, as most of us had never set foot in a recording studio. Made me think, “We could do this. We really could.” I can hear the flaws now, but I’m still glad we went for it.

“He Sits in His Chair.”

Pictured above and featured in the song “Late in the Evening” is Steve Gadd.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Worst President Ever

But we knew that...

From the article:

"He has taken the country into an unwinnable war and alienated friend and foe alike in the process;

He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich;

He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state;

He has repeatedly "misled," to use a kind word, the American people on affairs domestic and foreign;

He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign ( Iraq and the battle against al-Qaida);

He has sacrificed American employment (including the toleration of pension and benefit elimination) to increase overall productivity;

He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress;

He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime."

Don’t forget this week’s Top 10.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Mark Twain - Infidel

"There has been only one Christian. They caught him and crucified him--early."

"I have a religion--but you will call it blasphemy. It is that there is a God for the rich man but none for the poor.....Perhaps your religion will sustain you,will feed you--I place no dependence in mine. Our religions are alike, though, in one respect-neither can make a man happy when he is out of luck."

"If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be -- a Christian."

"The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive...but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born."

" To lodge all power in one party and keep it there is to insure bad government and the sure and gradual deterioration of the public morals. "

"Satan hasn't a single salaried helper; the Opposition employ a million."

"...the swindle of life and the treachery of a God that can create disease and misery and crime--create things that men would be condemned for creating-that men would be ashamed to create."

" The gods offer no rewards for intellect. There was never one yet that showed any interest in it..."

" This is a Christian country. Why, so is hell. Inasmuch as "Strait is the way and narrow is the gate, and few-few-are they that enter in thereat" has had the natural effect of making hell the only really prominent Christian community in any of the worlds; but we don't brag of this and certainly it is not proper to brag and boast that America is a Christian country when we all know that certainly five-sixths of our population could not enter in at the narrow gate. "

" ...a God who could make good children as easily a bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave is angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell, mouths mercy, and invented hell, mouths Golden Rules and foregiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him! "

Mark Twain