Sunday, January 28, 2007
THE MOST INCREDIBLE CONCERT EVER
It is hard to decide where to begin when discussing Jonny Lang. The incredible voice; One part Joe South, one part Dave Mason, two parts Stevie Wonder, heavily spiced with Essence of Whiskey and Tobacco.
Or the guitar work; The precision of Clapton, the power of Knoffler, the heart of B. B. King. And at the tender age of 26, already the equal of any of them. And I have seen them all to know.
Saturday night I found myself, at the behest of a friend, traveling
2 1/2 hours to Kalamazoo's historic State theatre to hear Lang's electric blues/rock/soul. I had heard him on the radio a few times, and thought him to be pretty good. Let me tell you, his recordings don't even begin to do him justice. This was the best concert I have ever attended.
Not only is Lang a virtuoso performer, but he has a band every bit worthy of him. Guitarist /singer Reeve Carney is another underage phenom, and also served as Lang's opening act. Keyboardist Charles Jones was fabulous, and played one of the best keyboard solos I have ever heard. Drummer Barry Alexander and Bassist Jim Anton were also phenomenal.
Besides Lang's incredible guitar work, the highlight of the night for me was the cover of Stevie Wonder's JUST ENOUGH FOR THE CITY, which fit Lang's voice and tempo so perfectly you would have sworn Stevie wrote it just for him. There are not enough superlatives to describe Lang's version of this song.
Like everything in life, there was a certain downside. Why is it every time I go to a concert, at some point I come close to getting into a fight? Immediately behind us sat a row of people, obviously over served, who thought it was okay to chat through the opening act. Especially obnoxious was the guy sitting at the end of the row, who seemed to think the whole audience would rather hear him do his comedy routine than listen to the concert. I finally stood up, looked at him, and told him to "shut the fuck up, I paid to listen to a concert, not you." His girlfriend looked at me and said, "you don't have to act like that, we're all adults here." to which I replied "no, obviously you aren't." After a few minute of staring, they turned away and I sat back down. A few minutes later, one of his friends sat down behind them and I heard the guy say, "the big man down there told me to shut the fuck up!" To which his friend replied, "and the operative word is big man."
After that they pretty much shut up and allowed everybody to enjoy the concert. Which is a good thing, because this was a concert worth fighting for!
Friday, January 26, 2007
AMERICAN FASCISTS, and KNEE JERK REACTIONARIES
Any of you who have even occasionally viewed my blog know that I have a certain animous toward the Christian right. You undoubtedly also know that I am an apostate evangelical, having become thoroughly disillusioned with not only evangelicalism, but religion in general. So you can be forgiven for taking my dire warnings with a grain of salt.
But it may be harder to ignore Chris Hedges. Hedges is a Christian, son of a Presbyterian minister, and a seminary graduate. He is also a veteran foreign correspondent who has spent years covering the Balkan wars, and conflicts in Africa and Central America for, among others, the New York Times and National Public Radio.
Hedges new book is titled AMERICAN FASCISTS: THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT AND THE WAR ON AMERICA. It takes dead aim at Dominionism and it's ties to powerful corporations such as Walmart. Hedges arguments are extremely well thought out and documented. After hearing Hedges on TOTN yesterday, I immediately went to Barnes and Noble and purchased his book (along with Jimmy Carter's PEACE NOT APARTHEID) . Even though I was running on 4 hours sleep, I ended up staying up well into the morning hours reading this book. I strongly believe what Hedges has to say is extremely important. If you are not convinced to buy his book, please do me the favor of listening to his interview on Talk Of The Nation. I believe strongly you will be impressed.
Somebody please explain to me how we came to believe that Israel can do no wrong? Why it is that we have this knee jerk reaction to defend Israel no matter how heinous and immoral it's actions?
Jimmy Carter has been demonized over his new book PALESTINE PEACE NOT APARTHEID. Carter, who probably has as much experience with the middle east and it's leaders as any westerner alive, is being castigated for daring to say that much of what is wrong in the middle east is Israel's fault. Issues such as forcing Palestinians off all of the most desirable and profitable land. Establishing settlements with the express purpose of making it more difficult for future leaders to negotiate a return of captured lands to the Palestinians.
Carter defended himself in an excellent interview on Morning Edition yesterday morning. You can listen to or read the text of the interview HERE.
So why is it we are willing to believe only good about Israel? I believe it is partly do to our Christian beliefs and the apopcalyptic end times. For the end of times prophecy to be fulfilled, there must be a viable Jewish state. Therefore, Christians (and remember the vast majority of Americans claim to be so) will defend anything that Israel does, and demonize anything or anybody that they deem a threat to the Jewish state.
Doesn't it seem odd to you that very little of the criticism of Carter is coming from the Jewish community in America? If Carter's book was really that biased or inaccurate, wouldn't they be the logical people to be protesting?
Monday, January 22, 2007
JUSTA FEW THOUGHTS
1. This Super Bowl should be special. Not because of the fact that there will be two black coaches running the teams (there has never even been one black head coach in the game before). But because these are two of the nicest, classiest men around. It will be a joy to see how they handle themselves and their teams the next two weeks.
2. Is Manning/Brady the best quarterback rivalry since Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr? I think this is even better than Montana/Marino.
3. Busting the myth: So if Japanese cars are so superior to American cars, how is it that Toyota currently has more cars under recall than they sold world wide last year? And do you know which car company's vehicles are #1 in initial quality (according to J.D. Powers AND Car and Driver ) for the second year in a row? NOT Toyota, NOT Honda, NOT Nissan. Nope... GENERAL MOTORS! So before you plunk down money for that Camry or Tundra, go check out a Chevy HHR or Silverado!
4. Will anybody bother to watch Dubya's SOU speech tomorrow night? I don't ever remember a SOU speech with less buzz than this one.
5. My latest electoral theory. Obama and Clinton will bash each others brains in to the point nobody wants either one of them, and Al (can you say Oscar buzz) Gore will step in as the unity candidate. I realize bash and smash is not Obama's style, but he'll have Move On and Howard Dean to do that for him.
Meanwhile, the Republicans will have just as much trouble settling on a candidate. Brownback too radical, Giuliani to liberal, McCain to old and crazy, Romney too Mormon. Stepping into the breach? Look for Newt to present himself as the compromise candidate.
Okay, rambled enough! Time for bed!
Thursday, January 11, 2007
GOD MOVES TO LA plus THE DEVIL'S IN THE DETAILS plus ALPHABET MEME
It's official. God is moving to LA. After all, you still see all those T-shirts in Manchester that declare BECKHAM IS GOD.
Yes, David Beckham just signed a five year / $250mil contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Wife Posh Spice just put down payment on a Beverly Hills mansion.
So God now resides in LA. Heaven help us all.
Meanwhile, the Devil is still firmly entrenched in Washington DC.
I am so conflicted. On one hand, I think we have to make one last effort to undo all the horrible harm we have done there. But I also know a lot of kids are gonna die, and in the end, the back up plan will be to turn Iraq into Bosnia, and seperate all the different sectarian groups into their own areas. I guess I think we should just do that now and spare all those kids. But then again, ethnic cleansing is such an ugly thing. It has all the overtones of Nazi Germany.
ALPHABET MEME (from Nic's Place)
A - Available/Single or Taken? Single, not lookikng
B - Best Friend? Carol W. only person I can tell absolutely everything and anything with no repercussions
C - Cake or pie? Pie. Cherry, apple, pecan.
D - Drink Of Choice? Red beers, Iced tea.
E – Essential Item You Use Everyday? Cell Phone
F - Favourite Color? Blue
G - Gummy Bears Or Worms? Neither.
H - Hometown? Pontiac, MI
I - Indulgence? cheeesecake
J - January Or February? february... closer to spring
K - Kids & Their Names? three - Sean, Steven, Shelley
L - Life Is Incomplete Without? grandkids
M - Marriage date? Dude, I am SOOOOOOOOO past that
N - Number Of Siblings? One - Barb
O - Oranges Or Apples? Apples - Jonathans
P - Phobias/Fears? relationships
Q - Favourite Quote? Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life on THIS planet!
R - Reason to Smile? Granddaughters
S - Season? Spring or Fall? Spring - beginning of baseball and canoeing
T - Tag 3 or 4 people? you're it, you're it, you're it
U - Unknown Fact About Me? I hide my introversion behind a wall of extroversion
V - Vegetable you don’t like? Hell, I can't think of one I DO like
W - Worst Habit? Procrastination
X - X-rays You’ve Had? Teeth, sinuses, lungs, feet/ankles (multiple times)
Y - Your Favorite Food? BBQ
Z – Zodiac sign? Leo (July 31)
Friday, January 05, 2007
SOME OF THE BEST OF 2006
1. Computer Launches Terrorist Attack On Unwitting Fisherman: While on a fishing trip in Nevada, Thomas Forqueran stashes his Dell laptop in the cab of his truck. Unfortunately, this laptop was equipped with one of the infamous Sony spontaneously combustible batteries. Worse still, also stored in the cab were several boxes of ammunition. Just as he and his pal were returning to the truck, they noticed smoke coming from the cab. At which point bullets started spraying, and the gas tank blew, sending the truck a spectacular 20 yds in the air. Forqueran and his buddy emerged from cover about the time the fire dept. arrived. Fortunately, no one was injured. The same can't be said for Sony's reputation.
2. CNN Anchor Broadcasts From The Loo: Kyra Phillips decides to use the restroom during President Bush's Hurricane Katrina anniversary speech. Unfortunately she forgets to turn off her microphone. The result ... All of America learns that her husband is a "handsome, genuinely loving, passionate, compassionate man with no ego." Also that she has to protect her brother from her sister-in-law, who is "just a control freak". Actually, it was much more interesting than Dubyas's speach. And much more honest!
3. Drunken Man Wins $2000 Bet By cutting Off Penis: On July 17, a drunken man in Riva, Latvia, bet his comrades that he would cut off his penis for two grand. He won the bet! Surgeons at the Latvian Centre for Microsurgery and Plastic Surgery reattached the member successfully. It may even become functional with the help of prosthetics. Gives a whole new meaning to "dick in hand".
4. The Perils of Hot Naked Women: In Moscow, three women in an SUV pull into to the Balashakh Beach parking lot. They walk down to the waters edge, and proceed to strip naked. They cavort and romp and even wash each other in front of the cheering crowd of onlookers. By the time they calmly dress and drive off, fifteen minutes later, their accomplices have stripped ten cars in the parking lot, and stolen the four most valuable. To quote that famous one eyed sailor: "Women, they is nuttin' but troubles!"
MY TOP 10 ALBUMS FOR 2006
10. Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit - Scottish Band drops chamber pop sound for harder edge and results are spectacular. Easily their best album.
9. Soul Asylum: The Silver Lining - Minneapolis blues rockers have great album with particularly strong cuts STAND UP AND BE STRONG, LATELY, and CRAZY, MIXED UP WORLD
8. Tom Waits: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards - slightly softer edged than most Waits. Really enjoyed it.
7. The Shins: Wincing The Night Away - Good solid Indie pop.
6. The Decemberists: The Crane Wife - Indie pop with great lyrics and slightly hard edge. Really enjoyed this one!
5. Ray Davies: Other People's Lives - Kinks' frontman's first album in 7 years. Great, semi autobiographical songs, and Davies is in fine voice.
4. Little Willies: Little Willies - Nora Jones, Richard Julian et. al. make outstanding country/rock/swing album, especially love the song Baltimore
3. Pink: I'm Not Dead - This album really surprised me. A terrific album with smart lyrics. Collaborates with her father, and the Indigo Girls. Pink has a much greater vocal range than I gave her credit for. This is an outstanding album!
2. Bob Dylan: Modern Times - Bob goes Delta Blues and Texas Swing. A fabulous album.
1. Willie Nelson: You Don't Know Me: The Songs Of Cindy Walker - Cindy Walker wrote hit songs for the likes of Bob Wills, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Ray Charles, Mel Tillis, and many more. Willie's interpretations are just incredible. And he is backed up by a fabulous band featuring the legendary fiddler Johnny Gimble. Just hearing Willie sing YOU DON'T KNOW ME is worth the price of this fabulous album. But ALL the songs are fabulous. This is easily the best album of the year in any genre.
Detroit Tigers Win American League Pennant - After threatening to be the worst team in the history of baseball just two years earlier, the Tigers go to the World Series led by a chain smoking, old school grandfather, a 42 year old pitcher with a history of anger management problems, a pitcher who once lost 20 game in a season, and a fireballing rookie composed well beyond his years. The feel good story of the year.
Indiana Paddler's Rendevous - 150 canoeists gather in Lafayette for 3 days of food, beer, camaraderie, and paddling. A great event with lots of new friends made.
Michigan Destroys #2 Notre Dame in South Bend - Nothing better than having braggin' rights in the home town of the enemy! If football is #1 in South Bend, then being a Michigan ex-pat in South Bend makes this just extra sweet.
Dems Sweep Congressional Elections - take control of both houses of Congress. Nuff' said.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
HE'S AT IT AGAIN!
God is always talking to Robertson. Someone more cynical than myself might conclude that God doesn't seem to be particularly reliable. But my personal theory is that Robertson is playing Charlie Brown to God's Lucy. God keeps taunting Robertson with that football, and gullible old Pat just can't resist trying to kick it!
here are just a few of the things that God has whispered in Pat's ear previously:
1. Russia to invade Israel in 1982. I don't recall seeing any soldiers wearing rabbit skin hats goose stepping their way through Jerusalem narrow streets. I think I would remember that!
2. World wide economic collapse in 1985. Hmphh. Don't recall that happening either.
3. Jay Rockefeller to be elected president in 1996. 1996 was well after my dazed and confused decade. I am almost positive this didn't come to pass.
4. 2005 to be extraordinary year of prosperity. According to Robertson, "the American stock market is going to surge upward, if I heard from the Lord." The stock market finished down for 2005.
5. George Bush will have spectacularly successful 2005. The Gospel according to Pat: "Well, the Lord has some very encouraging news for George Bush ... What I heard is that Bush is now positioned to have victory after victory and that his second term is going to be one of triumph, which is pretty strong stuff. ... He'll have Social Security reform passed..." LOL, I am pretty sure George will tell you that 2005 wasn't exactly a spectacular success. Social Security reform? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
6. God also told Pat that 2005 would see massive numbers of Muslims converting to Christianity. Seems to have missed that one too!
7. 2006: Tsunami to hit US coast. Ya know, you'd think Pat would quit listening after while.
But Pat IS listening again. And this time God is telling him of a massive attack, possibly nuclear, that will affect millions of Americans and possibly numerous cities. It is to happen sometime after September.
The thing that amazes and saddens me is how many seemingly normal, intelligent people buy into this shit. After all the years of Pat putting his foot in his mouth, his show still remains one of the most popular on daytime TV. And I will guarantee you that thousands of people all over the country are suddenly frantically updating their emergency foodstuffs, fuel, batteries and checking out those gas masks. But haven't we all seen this behavior before, sometimes in folks we love and have always respected?
Back in the mid 80's, a couple we had been close to for many years moved to Florida. We didn't hear much from them for a couple of years, then all at once we started getting frantic letters and phone calls from them begging me (never my wife, hmmm...) to get my life right with the Lord. They knew a NASA scientist, Edgar Whisenuat who had figured out mathematically the exact time of Christ's return. And they would feel so awful if I got left behind. Well, I assured them I was touched by their concern, but was pretty well satisfied with my life, and would take my chances.
So, on Oct. 11, 1988, my friends sat on a damp, rainy Florida beach, along with thousands of other true believers, waiting for a Christ who would never show up. I can't tell you how badly I felt for them. But, amazingly, they came through the experience their faith fully in tact, as if the whole thing never happened. It was like their minds denied that it ever happened.
I am always amazed at the minds ability to deny the perfectly obvious, and believe when all evidence points to the contrary. I guess that's how Bush manages to believe we aren't losing in Iraq.