Monday, July 25, 2016

Living in Concert - Part 5

Because I want to write about something other than politics today,

and there’s not really anything else going on, I figured I’d do up another installment of my old concert life, last addressed in February of 2015.  Back when I was in the record retail business, I used to see a lot of concerts… mostly for free, as a perk of the job.  It was one of the few things that kept me going.

At this point in the narrative, I was working in my company’s home office in Albany NY.

2/16/93 – Bon Jovi/Jeff Healey Band, Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, Crossroads tour. ($22.50 comped)  I’d seen Bon Jovi open for the Scorpions in Toledo back in the 80s, and seen Jeff Healey headline Peabody’s in Cleveland, so their roles were reversed on this night.  Seemed wrong seeing Jeff Healey on a big arena stage.  I felt he belongs in a small grungy club like the Double Deuce.  They could have at least put up some chicken wire in front of the stage.

March 1993 – Queen Ida (headlining Mardi Gras Night), Proctor’s Theater, Schenectady NY.  Went with the wife.  She loved Cajun music.  They made this ornate theater look like the French Quarter of old New Orleans.  They even had people up on the balconies in the atrium throwing down beads.  (And you didn’t have to show off any body parts to get them!)

3/18/93 – Howie Mandel, Proctor’s Theater. ($25.50)  Before he was a talent show judge, Howie was a great standup comedian, with boundless energy and a slew of voices.  My favorite bits were when he’d go into the audience and just riff off of people.

6/1/93 – Norman Nardini, The Metro, Saratoga Springs NY, Breakdown in Paradise tour. (comped)  I wrote extensively about seeing and hanging out with Norm in my “Brushes” series.  Norman Nardini was a guitarist out of Pittsburgh who I first saw playing at our company’s annual convention, and just rocking the place. 

Norm in Greenwich Village, about to rock this guy’s face off.

Went with the wife and two of her friends, my boss, and my other boss.  In between sets, Norm would come and hang out at our table.  This was the first time I saw him work a room full of people who didn’t know who the hell he was, and have them eating out of his hand by the end of the night.

July 1993, Buckwheat Zydeco/Beausoliel, headlining the annual Cajun Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC).  Took the family and wife’s friend’s family.  Picnic out on the grass, with lots of games, beer, and dancing to Cajun music.

7/31/93 – Tina Turner/Chris Isaac, Simply the Best tour, SPAC. ($25.50)  The fourth time seeing Tina Turner, who really hadn’t even aged since I first saw her in 1985.  Third time seeing her at an outdoor pavilion.

8/29/93 – Charlie Daniels Band, Starlite Theater, Albany NY. (22.50)  Third time seeing the CDB, but the first time in 11 years.  You always know what you’re going to get, though.  I don’t listen to much country music, but when I do, I like it shit-kicking, the way these guys play it.

10/31/93 – Joe Satriani at the Hard Rock CafĂ©, NYC, and Norman Nardini at Kenny’s Castaways, Greenwich Village, NY. (Comped)  Came into “The City” with some execs from work, along with the wife and her girlfriend, to see two shows in one night.  The Satriani gig was “invite only,” then we cabbed it across town to the Village to see Norm again.  Details are in the post I linked in the previous Norman listing.  Great night.

November 1993 – Dan Baird/The Poorboys, Folk Songs for the Hearing Impaired tour, Saratoga Winners. (Comped)  Dan Baird was the lead singer of the Georgia Satellites, and on a solo album tour in '93.  Wrote about this one, here, because this was the show where the wife finally became unafraid of the rock stars.  We met Dan Baird and the two of them just started talking like old friends.  (Even though she probably hadn’t heard of him before that night.  Actually, that probably helped.)

11/23/93 – Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell 2 tour, Orpheum Theater, Boston. ($28.50 comped)  This was a wedding present from the guys at the office; tickets to a “warm-up” gig in Boston before Meat embarked on his massive multi-year tour supporting his new comeback album.  (I wrote about this show as well, in the post linked directly above.)  The only opening act was a string quartet, playing Meat Loaf songs, up until the show started and they were literally chased off the stage by the guitarist, unleashing power chords in their faces.

January 1994 – Janet Jackson/Tony Toni Tone, “Janet Jackson” tour, Knickerbocker Arena, Albany. ($40.00)  Until 2008, this was the most I’ve ever paid for a concert ticket and this one hurt because there were four of us going. (Took the wife, her son, and niece.)  Great show, though.  Janet obviously learned how to put on a spectacle from her brother.

One part rang false, when she pulled some slob out of the crowd, sat on his lap and sang to him.  Dude was whimpering like a schoolboy.  I was wondering how they knew he wouldn’t try to do something, like unsnap a piece of clothing…  When I got back to work, I asked my mentor, Vinnie, about that bit.  I said, “Was that guy for real, or was he a plant?

Vinnie said, “Total plant.  She pulled the same guy when I saw the tour in Boston.”

Just goes to show; you can’t trust showbiz.

1/18/94 – Billy Joel, River of Dreams tour, Knickerbocker Arena. ($28.50)  The great thing about a Billy Joel show is that you’ll know every song and they’ll all be hits.

3/7/94 – Melissa Etheridge/Matthew Sweet, Yes I Am tour, Palace Theater. ($35.00)  Took the wife backstage to meet Melissa (second time for me), but unfortunately, we never got individual pictures.  Someone took a group shot, and I did have a copy but lost custody of it in the divorce.  Details on meeting Ms. Etheridge and my getting all clammed up can be found here.

To be continued, the next time I’m out of ideas.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Planks for the Memories

The Republican national convention and dumpster fire starts tonight.  I heard Donald Trump hand-selected Scott Baio to speak one night this week, because, you know… star power.

I don’t know if I’m surprised or not at what’s gone into this year’s Republican national platform.  It’s the most backward, regressive, trying-to-put-the-toothpaste-back-in-the-tube platform they’ve ever constructed.  All I can say is that they must feel really secure in their voter suppression strategies because it appears they’ve learned absolutely nothing from the last two elections.

Remember how they were going to try to be more inclusive?  Right, that’s out the window.  This platform doubles down on well to do angry white straight men and the women who dutifully walk two steps behind them. 

They also reject climate change science and have gone so far as to recommend the burning of “clean coal,” which couldn’t possibly be more oxymoronic.  Just calling the dirtiest fuel source we have “clean” doesn’t make it so.  (If it was, I would have used that logic on my mom when she wanted me to clean my room.)

They attack pornography as a public health “crisis,” as opposed to the tens of thousands of gun-related deaths every year.  And speaking of health crises, (although unrelated to the GOP platform), the Republicans in congress refuse to pass a bill allocating funds to combat the spread of the Zika virus, that does not carry a prohibition of funds for contraception, which just so happens to be the best way to combat the spread of the Zika virus.  Maybe they want to do like they try to do with gays and pray the Zika away.

That’s another thing in the platform: recommending conversion therapy for gays, a process that’s been 100% discredited by all reputable psychologists.  This should be the GOP motto: “It’s not just environmental science we’re ignoring now.”

Obviously ending Obamacare is one of their priorities, because we can’t have all these people with insurance, because… well, sorry, I’m at a loss for the downside.

Trump sure picked the right guy for the VP spot. 

Indiana governor Mike Pence is a True Believer, which is just the thing needed to bolster Trump's recently discovered religious beliefs.  Pence was willing to break his state’s economy over a bill that gave businesses the right to discriminate against gays.  Anyone can talk a good game of repression, Pence has walked the walk.  I bet he uses one of these:

The metaphor I used earlier it true; they’re trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, trying to un-ring the bell, closing the door after the horse is out of the barn.

Have you ever tried to take rights away from the people who have them?  They think gay people are just going to go, “Well, OK, we tried doing the married thing, but we’d really feel more comfortable if we could go back to being second class citizens.”  Do they think poor people are going to go, “You know, I’d feel much better if I could just use the ER as my GP and skip out on the bills.”

People are not going to give up their hard-earned rights without a fight.  But the GOP doesn’t care about that, not when they’ve locked up the voting process.  It’s no accident that wherever they’re demanding government IDs in order to vote, they’re ALSO closing and limiting hours of DMV locations that service the poorest neighborhoods.  You know, because of “voter fraud.”

We’re going to hear a lot of crap about both candidates in the next few months and all of it will be irrelevant.  The emails don’t matter.  The wall doesn’t matter.  Speaking fees and designer suits don’t matter.  Trump University doesn’t matter.  Crooked Hillary,  Racist Donald, none of it matters.

The only things that matter are what each party plans to do in Washington.

The Republicans want to:

…roll back civil rights on LGBT folks and stuff them back into the closet where they will be neither seen nor heard. 

…pretend environmental science is a hoax because it costs them money to change business practices.  (Ask Florida’s governor about what happens to tourist trade when your environmental policies lead directly to beaches filled with green crud.)

…end the right to an abortion in combination with eliminating the most effective means to prevent unwanted pregnancies. 

…ensure that nothing prevents the rich from buying politicians and elections.

…continue finding places to send our troops and places to bomb, to keep the flow of tax dollars to the defense industry.

…kick millions of people off of their insurance plans, in place of some kind of voucher system they haven’t yet been able to explain.

…privatize social security, leaving our retirement in the hands of the same people who collapsed our economy in 2008.

…eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, whose only mission is to keep banks from screwing its customers.

…initiate some kind of religious litmus test to apply to those who are legally immigrating, all the while trying to force their own religion into government policy.

…continue to prevent any progress on gun legislation of any kind, regardless of the toll in human lives.

The Democrats want to…

…it doesn’t even matter, because they oppose all the preceding points.

There’s only one thing that we can do to ensure we don’t move our country back into the Dark Ages, and that’s to make every effort to get people registered to vote, NOW, well ahead of time.  Time nullifies GOP voter suppression tactics and we have that at the moment.

If you have elderly parents or college student children, make sure they have the documents necessary to vote.  Some states require original or authorized copies of birth certificates, which can take time to obtain. 

If they’ve registered before, you’d best find out if they’re still registered.  Many red states are aggressively purging voter rolls, with little double-checking and even less oversight.

Start the process now.  By the time October and November roll around, it will be too late.

Moving the country forward is the only way to go.  Once you start taking people’s rights away, (even if they’re not “your people”), it’s an awfully short step away from fascism.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Facebook Follies

Facebook: Where anyone can graphically misrepresent facts to prove an ill-conceived point.

I’ve been having a field day on Facebook lately, collecting memes to disassemble.  I mean, with all the trauma and turmoil going on lately, anger and anxiety are peaking while careful reasoning is at a low.  (OK, that’s not just a recent thing, is it?)

Aside from the fact that the price quote is inflated, (by several thousand dollars), and it was a general stump speech rather than one focused on income inequality, has anyone  EVER, questioned the value of a male candidate’s suit?  This is just one more “standard” being applied to Clinton (or Obama) and to no one else.

I’ve seen a lot of snark aimed at Hillary regarding her (and her husband’s) wealth.  All I have to say is that coming from a party whose last two nominees have been billion-dollar trust fund babies; they are the living embodiment of the pot calling the kettle black.

This is another trick of dishonest timing.  The shooter’s quote was during the event itself.  The Attorney General’s quote was from the immediate aftermath, before investigations and before anyone had a concrete timeline of events.

See, it’s a distinct possibility that the shooter was lying or misdirecting authorities with that and other statements.  His presence on nine or ten other nights there at the club, as well as statements from those who claimed to know him, might lead one to believe that he was gay himself and acting out in a fit of denial.  Coming from a culture that reviles homosexuality even more than ours might make a guy like that prone to overcompensating in an effort to find redemption.

So before jumping to the conclusion that the religious right was dying to hear, the AG admitted that the investigation was ongoing… like it should be, regardless of how badly the 24-hour news cycle wished otherwise.  We’re Americans… we prefer our news wrong but now, rather than correct and later.

This one is just a mishmash of nonsense. 

Muslims maintain those rigid societal standards because they run theocracies.  That’s their religion and the religion runs the state.  There’s your first paragraph.

Muslims may think they should be “allowed to tell us we should change our laws and customs” because that’s human nature, it’s protected by the First Amendment, and it’s the exact same thing we think about them.  That’s a far reach to actually accommodating them, which I’ve never heard from anyone, ever.  Show me one Democrat who says we should change our laws and customs to accommodate Muslims?

I expect the response might be regarding immigration and resettlement of Syrian refugees, but that’s really an "apples to oranges" comparison.  That’s a matter of immigration law and not banning pork chops.

On the contrary, starting with “Church” is the end of a nation.

For a country that’s so afraid of theocracies, we sure sound like a nation that wishes to become one.

Moving on...

Personally, I wouldn’t share this because I would be too embarrassed to post a lily-white, blue-eyed Jesus wearing a Jedi robe.  Are you sure that isn’t Ewan MacGregor?

It’s funny how some people want to take the Bible so literally, but then do a complete make-over on the star of the New Testament.  Obviously, He would be a proponent of concealed carry, too.

Another jewel from the tiny-brained.

To “clean up one’s community and get rid of the criminal element” would take millions of dollars in jobs and infrastructure development, as well as a serious commitment to education.  People have been trying to do just this for years.

On the other hand, getting a bunch of people together to march in the street to protest their loved ones being killed by police can be done in a heartbeat.  You don’t even have to leave your house.

To compare the two in terms of simplicity is asinine.

I’m not sure if this is meant to ask why the story isn’t getting enough attention, or to commend white people for not rioting.  Either way, there is an obvious (and non-racist) explanation.

This is a case where the details are not fully known.  The cops say it was a classic “suicide by cop,” wherein the driver refused to show his hands while continuing to approach the officer, despite repeated warnings.  The family says that’s not the kind of thing he’d ever do.  It’s hard to generate a protest when no one knows what’s going on (unless this kind of thing happens every day). 

People get shot by the police all the time.  Most deserve it.  It just so happens that the ones who don’t are most often black.

Simply put, for a white guy who is not posing a legitimate threat, getting shot by the cops, is a rarity. 

In raw numbers, more white are people shot by cops than black people.  However, and this is statistically important, white people make up 62% or our population; black people make up 13%.  Yet black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be shot by a cop.

This is the linchpin of where the All Lives Matter movement falls apart.  All lives aren’t under siege; black ones are.  When such a time comes that 62% of people shot by cops are white and 13% of them are black, then we can sing Kumbaya about all lives mattering.  Until then, it’s a stacked deck.

On a semi-related topic, I was at the Orioles game last Friday night at the same time there was a planned demonstration.  I got a bit of a jolt when I looked up and saw a plume of smoke with a helicopter circling the area.

Last April, fans at the game got “locked in” when the protests broke out in violence.  My brother and his family were at that game; I thought this was going to be my turn.  But it turned out to be nothing but an apartment fire about 6 blocks north.

Facebook wasn’t ALL doomsday and grade school-level thinking last week… This cracked me right the hell up.

“Nature’s toothbrush for your colon!”

All I can say is the look on the guy’s face is really something.  I’m dying to know if that was a real ad from yesteryear.  It looks like something The Onion might do.  Either way, I’ll have to make sure I always get the celery with my hot wings.

But speaking of colon health, I I noticed something during my daily walk to the office.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Whitewater 2 Through 10

I saw today that after the highly publicized interview between the FBI and Hillary Clinton, the Feds recommended that no charges be filed.  The FBI director said, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” 

That doesn’t mean the Justice Department can’t still file charges, but the US Attorney General had previously said the department will take its cues from the FBI investigation.

Naturally, there was an instant hissy fit on the part of the Republicans, who have been beating this particular drum for years now.  I found this circulating from the right-wingnut Breitbart group within minutes of the announcement.

I’m guessing they already had this one loaded in the chamber.

It’s obvious that they don’t like it when an investigation doesn’t form a conclusion until after it’s done investigating.  They’re used to doing it the other way around.

See, the Republicans have to carry on like this.  They’ve spent years now working the Benghazi angle… nine Congressional investigations now, right?  And they’ve come up with nothing except this.  Private email servers.

Granted, they’ve gotten an impeachment with far less and they know it.  They’re doing to Hillary Clinton exactly what they did to her husband.  Remember the Whitewater hearings?  They spent a fortune in taxpayer money in the 90s to investigate what they claimed to be a shady real estate deal which benefitted the Clintons.  They didn’t find jack shit that they could use… until it leaked that the president got a hummer from some intern.

Then it became all about the sanctity of the presidency.  (Obviously, they stopped being concerned about presidential image around January of 2009.)  They managed to gin up enough dewy-eyed outrage to pass some articles of impeachment.  Not that it made any real difference, mind you.  Bill Clinton remained the president, but they were able to tie up the administration in depositions and red tape until they couldn’t accomplish anything else.  Which was exactly what the Republicans wanted.

Now they’re doing the exact same thing to Hillary.  I’ve never once heard a plausible reason why the incident at Benghazi was so different from the dozen or so fatal attacks on US embassies and consulates under the Bush administration.  Other than there being a Democrat in office, of course.

Taking the shot at Obama wasn’t even the point, though.  This was the chance to put some pre-emptive stink on the presumptive Democratic front-runner for 2016, so every time their “investigation” didn’t turn up anything tangible, they just started another one.  The goal was purely and simply to keep the words “Clinton” and “scandal” in the same headline.  (Usually a Fox “News” headline.  Respectable news organizations didn’t give this story much oxygen and declined to participate in the charade.)

These investigations were 100% political in nature.  One of their own people even admitted it, in an accidental fit of honesty.  House majority leader Kevin McCarthey shot his mouth off on Fox “News,” saying the committee had achieved its goal of damaging Clinton’s poll numbers.  Fox anchors themselves admitted to the political nature of the investigations, with the alibi that every investigation is political. 

They’re really in a win/win situation here.  If all the investigations came back with something, that’s their campaign material for the election.  Now that there was no relevant finding, they cry “fix,” and insinuate corruption.  Either way, it keeps a Democratic “scandal” in the headlines.

Personally, I think the scandal was when prior to the Benghazi attack, the Republicans twice refused requests for more funds to bolster embassy security.  Somehow that didn’t make it into the Republican report.  Go figure.

I didn’t care about the first Clinton scandal and I don’t care about this one.  No one can show me any damage done to the country over either.  Regarding the Clinton administration, if a president can produce an economy that purrs along enough to create a surplus, flush with jobs, then hummers should be a perk of the job.  I honestly don’t care about politicians’ personal lives until they affect the rest of the country.

As for the emails, yeah, it wasn’t the best information management procedure.  Secret information was at risk.  But ultimately, what happened?  Nothing.

If I had a history with political rivals like the Clintons do, I wouldn’t want my personal emails on a public server either.  We have information security procedures where I work too.  If I did what she did, I doubt I’d be fired… not unless critical information fell into rival hands.  I’d probably get written up and admonished not to do it again

That’s what’s probably going to happen to Hillary.  She got reprimanded and now she won’t do that again.  It wasn’t the best judgment, but I understand it. 

If they want to attack her tenure as Secretary of State, then focus on something tangible.  I suspect if there was anything there to attack, they’d be doing it.  So instead, they dwell on minutia, because that’s what one does when unable to argue legitimate issues on merit.

And anyone who supports Donald Trump should not be allowed to call anyone else a liar, ever, not until they call out their guy first.

And these aren’t even the recent ones.  This graphic is from March. 

I’m over it, as should everyone be who wants to see something accomplished in this country, for the benefit of the 99%.