Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why We Shot Down That Satellite: One Citizen's Conjecture

I am most impressed with the successful action taken by our U. S. Navy in shooting down the recent renegade spy satellite. There has been an appropriate amount of international intrigue and consternation regarding the reasons our government has been so adamant about destroying this spacecraft. Our official policy seems to have been the potential danger of its re-entry into our atmosphere and the possibility of this school bus-sized machine landing in some habited place, exploding and spewing its bizarre and toxic fuel into the ether. On the other hand, those nations that hold America in constant and bitter contempt contend that there was data collected in that capsule critical to the balance of power on this planet. Now that this satellite has been obliterated and this mission is accomplished there are few who really know the answer. 
I have been reflecting upon the information that may have been collected on the hard drives of that extremely high-tech machine. This, of course, is simply conjecture and most of it likely untrue. However, I offer herein a reasonable estimation of its contents:

Lyrics to ‘Louie, Louie’
Map to final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa
Photo of sock that matches the one you saw in a gutter this morning
Speech from an honest politician
Osama bin Laden’s address
Vatican bank statements
Ingredients in Spam
Identity of item Billy Joe MacAllister threw off Tallahatchie Bridge
Reasons Jim Bakker still has television show
Secret of Wayne Newton’s appeal
Proof of Paul McCartney’s untimely death in 1966, identity of The Walrus and disturbing translation of ‘goo-goo-ga-joo’
Directions to cave in which country music is hidden
Pamphlet describing why Larry King is so beloved
Jack Ruby’s mail
Mystery of 666 unveiled
Final resolution of pi
Location of half-pack of Marlboros you know is in your house or car that you couldn’t find the last time you tried to quit smoking
Unabridged explanation of ‘Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands’
Military service records of U. S. Congress
Good film starring Kevin Costner other than ‘No Way Out’
Positive 8x10 color prints of The Shroud of Turin
Blueprint for human kindness
Dick Cheney’s deposit slips
Analysis of relationship between Loch Ness Monster and scotch
Absolute interpretation of The Revelation of St. John
List of names, addresses and home phone numbers of everyone who has ever worked for a tele-marketer
What happened to Enoch
List of Best Places to Get a Great Martini on Atlantis
Identity of person who let the dogs out

If you are aware of more data please add a comment or send me a list via the CONTACT page. I’ll add them as I am able.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Got To Revolution

Are you wealthy, never-had-a-job, aristocratic, born-to-rule, out-of-touch, well-dressed-for-any-occasion, arrogant, above-it-all, a well financed and well groomed empty suit? Welcome to the U. S. Congress!
I’d love to be able to proclaim: ‘It is high time we get back to our Revolutionary roots!’ But, alas, I’m afraid it’s always been this way. We fool ourselves to believe that America has ever been governed ‘by the people.’ Even prior to our independence the aristocrats, intellectuals and wealthy laid down the laws and created the strategies while ‘the people’ bore the muskets and died in the ditches. The tables and chairs habited in Philadelphia and Trenton during the Continental Congress were not filled with cobblers and carpenters; the learned, the lawyers and the landowners occupied them. So it has been and so it continues: those who ‘represent us’ neither resemble nor reflect us. 
Our government has continued to be populated and reconstituted by those whom arrogantly presume to exist above the muck and mire of real American life. They attempt to stretch us to the right or to the left – too terribly far on both sides. We the People, for the most part, live in the Middle. Trust no politician who tells you he or she is for the average guy. Few of them ever lived in the middle and none of them perceives themselves as average. 
What America needs are real people serving for brief periods of time: A steel worker, a shoemaker, a school teacher, a farmer, a CPA, a lawyer, a restaurant owner, an entrepreneur, a real estate agent, an architect, a web designer, a banker and more. If you doubt the intellect of a steelworker or a schoolteacher then stop referring to them as the salt of the earth on your stump and ask them if they would allow their household to owe the equivalent of $10,000,000,000,000 in debt. 
Who will take it from them? We will!  
And who are we?   We are Volunteers of America!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Singer/Songwriter: The Sub-Categories

The phrase/term singer/songwriter is over/used, in/accurate and/utterly bull/shit. It’s time someone speaks up about this. I/think I/ shall. 
There have been very few artists in my generation who deserve to be deemed singer/songwriter and many of them barely qualify in both categories. In my humble opinion here are some artists who make the list: Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Lennon & McCartney, Dolly Parton, Roger Miller, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Janis Ian, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, John Prine – and yes, I am leaving many off the list – probably your favorites. Even within this list of stellar artists many of you will question my choices. Perhaps you can’t stomach the sound of Dylan’s voice – especially in recent years when it sounds as if people dragged a jagged rake over his vocal chords and washed them off with a mixture of coal dust, cheap whiskey and burley tobacco. Well, you are certainly welcome to disagree. 
I suppose at least two questions regarding my thesis are merited: how does one truly define a singer/songwriter and who gave me the license/authority to act as judge/jury? Well, since I started this, let me try to explain my logic.
I’ll answer the second question first. No one gave me this authority; it’s just that I have this web site and I’m free to fill it with my own brand of madness. I’ve also sat with a guitar in my lap and a tablet and pencil on my kitchen table for the past 35 years and have managed, with some great effort, to keep my family fed, clothed and sheltered by making up songs. Along the way I have had the good sense to do everything in my power to keep the moniker ‘singer/songwriter’ detached from my name. I find the term to be both shallow/arrogant and I don’t like it – never have. I do not sing well and my modest success as a person who writes songs arrived ‘on a train bound for nowhere*’ along with carloads full of hard work, heavenly blessings and luck. So, if I had to give myself one of those defining ‘slash phrases’ like singer/songwriter I’d go with something like ‘not a good singer/has written songs.’ 
Now, on to the other question. Singers, I think, should possess, at least, one of two qualities: an exquisite ability to sing or a vocal personality that is compelling. A rare few have both. For example - Every local, oh-so-hip-rag of a free newspaper in every almost-a-city in this wonderful country of ours sells advertisements based primarily on the fact that young people want to know where the music is or need a roommate. Punk had its moment, as did glam-rock, new wave, head-slammer, disco, folk-rock, psychedelic, etc. And now, in the endless cycle of popular music there seems to be great benefit to be considered a singer/songwriter; at least, the large percentage of musical offerings listed in the ‘What and Where To Hear It’ columns in these local rags are of the singer/songwriter category. When photos of these performers are included they tend to have that distant look of torture, confusion, contemplation, surprise, constipation and hopelessness. Very appealing. From what I have heard in recent years, the music these artists offer is reflected in their photos. 
I am of the opinion that the term singer/songwriter needs sub-categories: new, ‘defining titles’ to be given to this host of artists based on their music, persona and performances. Here are some suggestions: 
singer/potential ax murderer
boring/really boring
sings sharp/incapable of using a hammer
lesbian/really pissed off
terrible singer/really bad songwriter
can’t play/can’t sing
amelodic/without a soul
born too late/born too soon
thinks he’s the shit/awful
darkly good-looking/vacuous chamber
potential ax murderer/songwriter
the next Bob Dylan/junkie
oh so hip/idiot
as cool as it gets/never had a job
self involved/unoriginal

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Debt

At this moment the current US Debt is 9,242,500,118,205. (You may check this site if you don’t believe me but it will be higher than this by the time you look because it goes up about 1.5 billion dollars a day.) This number surpasses trillions. What’s next? Quadrillions. You, my dear taxpaying American friend, are part owner of over 9 quadrillion dollars in debt. To put this in some understandable perspective, if you earn 1 million dollars a year you will have to work another 9 million years to pay off these loans. If you earn $100,000 a year you will work 92 million years to pay them off. Then again, if you are a member of the average American household, expect to work 185 million years to pay it off. Well, not pay it off really - that’s just the principal. 
And you’re worried about your credit cards? Yes, of course you are. There are 2 reasons you are worried about your credit cards…and your mortgage and gas for your car and health insurance costs and college tuition: one, you are a decent person trying to do things right and two, a significant portion of every dollar you spend is helping to pay for this absurd and obscene burden our politicians have saddled us with. Please become outraged. Please become outraged.
I have voted in every election since 1972. Rightly or wrongly I have leaned to the right – typically casting my lot with Republicans. I am not a member of The Grand Old Party but they’ve always made more sense to me economically and from the perspective of national security. I don’t remember all the particulars of my decisions. There was simply a sense of trust in the guys that looked and talked like my dad. 
In more recent years I have listened more closely. Frankly, I’ve got no big issue with taxes. As a matter of fact, if the federal government could do the math to get us out of debt I would do my best to write a check for my portion. The math, sadly, is incomprehensible. It’s certainly not as simplistic as the division I’ve presented above – or so they would have us believe; they being every congressman, senator and president that presided during my lifetime – all parties included – and their so-called economists.
The Debt is The Thing. To hell with everything else. Immigration? Terrorism? Oil? Iraq? Abortion? Gay marriage? Global warming (oh, please?) The Debt is the thing! It will kill us – unravel us – make us second tier and third world to the fourth generation.
Now, Bill Clinton got the debt under control and I’m happy to admit it even though I can’t stand the son-of-a-bitch. The Great Republican Suspicion is that Reagan’s Design was Clinton’s Reward. I don’t know – I’m not that smart. But something good happened, economically speaking, during his tenure. What I have witnessed is that the little crowned prince for whom I voted in the past 2 elections (2000 and 2004) has been a complete failure – on most fronts – especially The Debt. I regret my votes. However, you other guys could have thrown something better in front of our eyes as an alternative: Al Gore, who couldn’t win his home state – my state - but won the first-ever Nobel Prize for a science fiction film – and John Kerry – (don’t get me started.)
Enough already. What shall we do about it? Here’s the good news (sort of) – if each American citizen wrote a check for about $30,000 we will be out of debt. Will you do this –regardless of the sins of the past? Of course you won’t do this. And the other thing is – most Americans couldn’t do this even if they wanted to. So, I’m thinking that a ‘Patriotic Tithe’ is in order. Do you have $150 in the bank? Do you have $150,000,000 in stocks and bonds? Why not write a check for 10% of what you have whether you’re just starting out or you’re already retired and living on Social Security? Get rid of this debt. Tomorrow, if I can get some support –I’ll begin the process by writing a check the amount of which will be a reasonably accurate calculation equal to 10% of my financial assets. Not the value of my home or cars or anything else – just cash on hand including that which you have in your oh-so-precious retirement accounts which we will allow you to draw upon with zero tax consequences. 
Of course, you don’t know if I have $150 or $150,000,000 in the bank so how much of a sacrifice am I really making? Well, I’m sacrificing 10% of what I have and I’m asking you to do the same. Unlike other federal requirements there are no loopholes here – just honesty. And it’s also voluntary. (I realize you fat cats will lie about what you're worth; this is nothing new. Keep your money and send more jobs overseas to support slave labor. And you oh-so-kind-hearted citizens will reject this idea because the poor shouldn’t have to pay. 10% of nothing is nothing.) This is an appeal to the 80% of us who live in the middle – yes friends, the good old middle class. We’re getting stuck with it anyway so let’s do what we do in our own households – let’s sit down at the kitchen table and figure it out. 
Will you join me in this Patriotic Tithe and then, more importantly, begin to rein in the bastards who got us here? It is utterly outrageous and they will not stop on their own. We’ll become the biggest lobby that ever existed in America and we can pay them off.  This they understand. 

Limbaugh, Hannity & Coulter

I’ve never liked any of these people. Not that it matters; lots of folks do and this ‘Peter, Paul & Mary’ of the so-called conservative base has been printing money due to the success of their hateful, over-the-top, right-slanted and mean-spirited freak shows for far too long a time. That any of these three pompous, anti-intellectual and arrogant celebrities has the license to be the mouthpiece that defines conservatism in America is a testament to how far we have fallen. God bless us all. 
Recently, Fatboy, Fratboy and Olive Oil have declared their support for Hillary Clinton should John McCain become the Republican candidate for president. I can’t tell you how terribly much I want this to happen. After decades of hearing their tirades, innuendo and attacks against Hillary’s ultra-liberal politics it would be most fitting for these three vacuous windbags to turn and jump on her wagon. It will prove, finally, how empty their minds and hearts really are.
I’ll be frank: I voted for George W. Bush twice. In retrospect, I certainly regret the second of those two votes. His presidential tenure is an absolute and repulsive disaster. Oh that I had written in an alternative conservative candidate - like my Uncle Walter, for instance. (Certainly I couldn’t have pushed a lever for Mr. Iceberg or Mr. Heinz.) But I confess herein the sin of my actions and bare an appropriate amount of guilt and humiliation…and debt. But not so this stubborn and stiff-necked trio; they continue to spew their tired invective sans a trace of humility. They remain remorseless, relentless and very, very wrong.
But one senses their power slipping. The sudden and widespread rejection of their monopoly on mindlessness is palpable. The people are turning away – at long last. Only a liar would suggest that John McCain would govern more liberally than Hillary Clinton. Only a fool would support an America that would install Hillary Clinton as Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces. Only an idiot would embrace the possibility of Bill Clinton living, once again, on Pennsylvania Avenue. The people know this and they are turning away. So, I offer this brief and final farewell to the liar, the fool and the idiot. 
And I urge Mr. McCain to assess their recent babblings for what they are: unfunny, inaccurate, argumentative, book-selling bile. And I would urge Peter, Paul and Mary to ponder this: ‘How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?’