On the Road Today

On the road today, playing in Tomball with Shinyribs.  Show is already sold out, so do not attempt to drive there.  Posting will be slow today. 

New Public Enemy record is out, only available through their website.  I am extremely excited about this.  It is called Man Laughs, God Plans.  If you haven’t heard the saying before, “Declaring one’s intentions is a good way to make God laugh at you.”  (There are other variations of this saying.)

That’s all for now. 

In the future when all is well…

Responses to the Iran Deal

A Point-by-Point Response to the Iran Deal’s Critics

What’s In the Iran Deal?

The Single Most Important Question to Ask About the Nuclear Deal With Iran

Why Republicans Are So Mad About Obama’s Nuclear Deal With Iran

I have been reading a lot of articles about the Iran deal this morning.  Over at The Atlantic alone, a magazine that has a reputation for serious writing and features different political stripes, there are four detailed articles that take a number of stances about the deal, though they come down overall on the side of being favorable of the deal, if cautiously so.  Above are links to the four Atlantic articles.  The third, the one that is most skeptical of the deal, is by Jeffrey Goldberg.  I will admit that I am no fan of Goldberg, as I feel he too often totes the Israeli line.  However, I do think he is an intellectual that is at least coming to the table with serious intent.  I find that when trying to parse what is going on, it is best to try and read a bunch of information, weigh out different opinions, and decide for yourself.  It’s always worth reading people that are on the opposite end of an issue, as long as they seem to be coming to the debate honestly.  However, as always, read, weigh the various facts against each other, think, and decide for yourself.  I personally am in favor of the deal at this point as it seems the best option based on what I have read.  If you know history, even presidents that I would not view favorably overall, such as Reagan and Nixon, negotiated with countries that we were at odds with, and ended up with better outcomes than would have been seen with force.  I think today is a day for celebration, if cautiously so.  However, I acknowledge that I am basing this opinion on my world view, along with the various things I have read today and over the last year as this deal was worked on.  Don’t take my word for it.  Get outside of your propaganda zone and do the heavy lifting yourself.

Powdered Wigs, Syphilis, and Tradition

This post has been getting a bunch of hits lately. I thought I would repost it, something I don’t often do, for those who haven’t seen it yet. I think the subject matter is both interesting and absurdly comic. When encountering any tradition of power you should, as they say, “Trust, but verify!”

Windup Wire

Today I was at a friend’s house watching the new History Channel miniseries about the Revolutionary War.   While we were watching it my friend asked me why people wore wigs back in that time period.  I had to find out and upon doing so found this article:

Why Did People Wear Powdered Wigs?

A sample:

For nearly two centuries, powdered wigs—called perukes—were all the rage. The chic hairpiece would have never become popular, however, if it hadn’t been for a venereal disease, a pair of self-conscious kings, and poor hair hygiene.  

The peruke’s story begins like many others—with syphilis. By 1580, the STD had become the worst epidemic to strike Europe since the Black Death. According to William Clowes, an “infinite multitude” of syphilis patients clogged London’s hospitals, and more filtered in each day. Without antibiotics, victims faced the full brunt of the disease: open sores, nasty rashes, blindness…

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Inside Most Intense Public Enemy Record of the Century – New Record ‘Man Plans, God Laughs’

Inside Most Intense Public Enemy Record of the Century

As I looked quickly at the headlines over at Rolling Stone today, I was shocked and extremely psyched to see that Public Enemy is releasing a new album…this week!  The album is titled Man Plans, God Laughs.  They are one of the greatest groups of all time in any genre, and if they weren’t so intensely political, I believe their profile would be even higher here in the states than it has been in recent years.  Their last two albums, Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear On No Stamps and The Evil Empire of Everything, both released in 2012, were both jaw dropping and worth checking out if you have checked the group out in awhile.  (I would definitely get both records as they both feature different sonic textures, yet compliment each other really well from a musical perspective.  If you love the group or just love exciting and intense music, you can’t go wrong.)  The above video is one of the official singles from Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear On No Stamps.

Obama Frees Dozens of Nonviolent Drug Offenders

Obama Frees Dozens of Nonviolent Drug Offenders

File this under good news:  Obama has granted freedom to dozens of nonviolent drug offenders.  This is only a small step for good in our ridiculous drug war.  Why dozens should be freed when untold numbers are being punished is a good question, but lets hope this is a beginning and not an end.  Not only are the punishments for nonviolent drug offenses often absurd, but the aftermath is even more troubling.  One time I was arrested for a DUI, which was thrown out of court it was so laughable.  (I passed my breathalyzer and blood test.  I was stupid enough to admit honestly to police that I had two drinks earlier in the night.  Rule one when confronting police, as told to me by my lawyer, is never never be honest.  You will never face stiffer penalties for not admitting to something, but you can very well face trouble for admitting to something.)  I was still turned down for an education job that I applied for on the basis of that arrest, before I started making my living in the music business, despite doing nothing illegal.  I can only imagine the trouble that nonviolent offenders of drug laws face when trying to find meaningful employment.  There is a Morrissey quote that goes: “Life is hard enough when you belong here.”  Life is hard enough in general even when you don’t have this kind of burden following you around, as most people not born with a silver spoon in their mouth can attest to.  Even for those born with all advantages, life is no picnic.  To live is partly to suffer.  These people are our neighbors, our family, our brothers and sisters in the human race.  We should not only not impose draconian sentences on people that have done nothing violent, but should give them a real chance at rebuilding their lives.

Rod Stewart – Love Is

I can already imagine the endless grief I will get for posting this from certain band mates and some camps that think themselves too hip for Stewart’s charms.  But I fucking love his shit anyway.  There’s no doubt that the early solo years and Faces period can never be equaled.  (Those years set a bar that most musicians, period, will never equal.  And pretty much every musician I know loves this era of records.)  But as long as Rod is singing something that has a hint of rock n roll in it, something that makes you cry in your drink, or that you can imagine him kicking a soccer ball to in a stadium, I am in.  Really, except for his American Songbook dreck, and his other recent covers albums, I pretty much like everything.  (The American Songbook stuff is one of the few times even I will say he went a bridge too far.)  It’s not only his voice, but the fact that he seemingly throws himself in with total enthusiasm, even to things that other musicians wouldn’t try, and possibly shouldn’t.  But I feel he can get away with it, as he has an exuberance that is equaled by few.  This song would be filed under his quasi-celtic soccer stadium anthems, but it’s good fun, and most of all emotional sounding.  At the end of the day the first rule of music should be that it is emotional.  Rod rarely fails to deliver on those terms, no matter how overly professional his backing band sounds.  About eleven or twelve years ago I went to see him live and I was sure I was going to be witnessing a cash grab, but he ended up having the entire audience, all ages, on their feet for the entire night.  Not only is he a first-rate interpreter, he is also a really underrated songwriter when he decides to pick up the guitar and pen.  Too often his celebrity has overshadowed his very real talents, and his best song lyrics display a great wit, that is equal at conveying sadness and humor.  At this stage Never a Dull Moment is probably my favorite record of his.  If you doubt Stewart’s talents, but love rock n roll in the slightest, check it out.  There are many reasons that I love many kinds of music, but rarely has someone made me smile as much as Rod Stewart.  For that reason alone I would feel ashamed of myself for not sticking with him.  So there:  I love Rod Stewart.  What are you going to do about it?

More Thoughts On Get in the Van by Henry Rollins

I am watching Sons of Anarchy tonight and I just came across the episode where musician and actor Henry Rollins enters playing a white supremacist.  One of my favorite reads of recent years is Rollins’s Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag.  Now many of you might assume that I love this book because it documents touring and music, because I am a touring musician.  However, trust me, one of the last things I would want to read while being in a van for eight hours is a book on touring in a van.  There is a darkly comic, vulgar insanity to the prose.  It was written as diary entries, that at least seem to be written without publishing in mind.  Many of the things said in the book are the kinds of things people think, but would never admit to the outside world.  Because of this there is also a strange truth to the book, even if it is not an enlightening one.  In the Leonard Cohen song Going Home, Cohen sings what is a great description of the endgame of art :

I want to write a love song
An anthem of forgiving
A manual for living with defeat

At the time I was reading Rollins’s book I was going through a slightly dark period.  I loved Rollins’s ability to keep moving forward even in the face of constant defeats.  Rollins goes on horribly crushing tours, only to spend his time between them living in a shed with no AC, with only spiders as his company.  Yet despite this he still keeps going further and further out into the wilderness of the self, writing and self-realizing.  It’s like a self help book written by a complete masochist.  I don’t know if the book is inspiring or a darkly absurd comedy, but that its true charm, the straddling of seemingly disparate genres.

Ta-Nehisi Coates Getting Rave Reviews

Ta-nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates – Between the World and Me

I have been a longtime reader of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s blog over at The Atlantic.  Although I occasionally think Coates’s blog is too narrow in scope, there is no doubt Coates is an unusually gifted writer.  (Andrew Sullivan, who wrote alongside Coates at The Atlantic for awhile, was not only able to be an uncompromising advocate for marriage equality, but was also seemingly able to cover an unbelievably wide scope of topics.  I found that having a sense of how Sullivan viewed the wider world actually strengthened his arguments for justice.  Anyway, this is splitting hairs and is a topic for another day.  I would feel amiss if I didn’t say anything, but this is really an argument about format and outcome, and not quality of writing.)  Coates has a curious mind and without a doubt is someone that is always reaching for truth.  Before I found myself reading a lot about the Civil War, Coates own research and exploration of that time period was extremely fascinating.  I am happy to see that his new book, Between the World and Me, is getting rave reviews.  The above piece is not only about the book, but also a look at Coates as a man and writer in general.  It is a well written and interesting piece worth your time.  Also, if you are someone that reads several blogs a day, I would definitely add his blog to your list.

Samhain, Mystery, Imagination

I’m a big fan of the early 80’s punk/post punk/hardcore scene.  The Misfits were always one of my favorite punk bands.  Samhain, the band that Glenn Danzig formed between The Misfits and Danzig (Which I also like), is a really interesting band.  They are neither quite punk, nor metal.  The playing is much more primitive than what would come, but is more experimental and strange than the horror punk of The Misfits.  It has a gothic ambience to it, despite the underlying aggression which has always been a part of Danzig’s sound.

I have been listening to the first Samhain album Initium.  I love it, especially the closing track Archangel.  I think what is interesting about it, even if you aren’t into this band or even particular style of music, is how well it has aged, especially the fact that the recording is very lo-fi and primitive even for its time.  In fact I would argue that the lack of fidelity ads to this records appeal.  It creates a sense of mystery, like you are hearing something that you weren’t supposed to.  It allows the imagination to fill in the missing gaps.  Nothing is more important to a piece of work than the imagination of the listener, viewer, observer, or whatever, depending on the form of art that is being taken in.  When you read a book the imagination is creating the images, which are just words on a page, and that is very powerful.  One of the reason old recordings form the 50’s and 60’s have stayed relevant, and not just because they feature great musicianship and performance, is because the technology of the time made a certain amount of mystery inherent in the work.  When you listen to a Phil Spector produced record, there are so many instruments being recorded, that it is hard to tell exactly what is in the room.  So you have the musicians and what they are performing, but then you have an added element of mystery, of there being something other present, when those recordings play.  Whether the mystery inherent in the above Samhain recording was intentional or the result of having no budget, I would bet on a little of both, it has that unexplainable quality to it, where it is a puzzle that can never be completely deciphered.  The fact that Glenn Danzig was trying to create a horror vibe in his music is enhanced by this mysteriousness.  Think about when you watch a horror movie; Often you are more creeped out before you see the monster, when you are still imagining how horrible it could be.  Sometimes modern horror movies will use grainy footage of something to add to their terror.  I think this is for the same purpose.  As all things more and more towards high definition and sonic clarity, realize that perfection of image and sound can also cause something to be lost along the way.  The best filmmakers, musicians, artists, will find ways to adapt, to use new technology to get the same emotional quality as the old, but I think realizing that mystery is an important quality in art is an important step.