Archive by Author

Things We Choose to Care About…

23 May

Been a lot of news to digest lately, almost to the point of “Breaking News” exhaustion, so my apologies for seemingly being behind the curve.

Alton Brown found a really good wing joint in East Aurora. I think that is okay and certainly not worth getting in a dander about. While an attempted take down of him on one of the local stations was funny, I can’t help but wonder: Why do we care? Misery is tangible and real, we don’t need contrived things to bitch about. I wish our griping carried some gravitas.

I care more that Marco Rubio realizes all the sudden that the recent tax bill isn’t benefiting the masses, admitting that the most companies are stuffing the funds back into their pockets instead of any worker relief. If only somebody would have told him about that part. Oh, wait…

The sole pet peeve I have about the White House Correspondents Dinner is that supposedly high level national reporters want an apology to the White House Press Secretary for insults and body shaming. The body shaming didn’t happen, the insults did, but it’s a roast and most troubling is why these reporters are so protective of a press secretary who treats the press to fabrications and contempt. Michelle Wolf did what she was hired to do and was pretty funny. I guess the reporters griping on twitter are worried about losing their access to the daily dumpster fire. Perhaps a remembering of purpose over parties would be a good reminder. There is a lot of news out there after all.

Former Health and Human Service Sec. Price admitted that repealing the individual mandate will raise health coverage costs. It’s clearer than ever the GOP’s closed-door dealings had nothing to do with protecting families and everything to do with carving out giveaways to special interests and donors.

Anybody else troubled that a 71 year old man uses “haters” and “losers” so much? I mean, I know what my daughters are talking about when they say something is “Lit” but I’m smart enough to know how stupid that would sound coming out of my 54 year old mouth.

I watched an interesting two hours of TV that I recommend. I’ve always enjoyed Anthony Bourdain’s programs. Who wouldn’t want to have that gig? His show on West Virginia was really well done. It was an honest assessment of people trying to do their best, with folks of varying color living and working together despite lies from the Trump Campaign in 2016, flat out contempt from the Clinton campaign in the same year. It’s worth checking out to broaden your own perspective as the intolerance everywhere is just disheartened. It’s a very unlikely place to see some hope.

W.Kamau Bell’s show on the Mexican border issue that followed was riveting too. I firmly believe the President couldn’t have a worse view of the border. His wall is something we cannot afford, it won’t work and about the only thing it will inspire will be new confidence in the ladder and boating industries. But guess what, the last six presidents (both sides) had issues too. Wish the current one would explain what his issue is instead of nonsense rally platitudes.

Oliver North thinks the National Rifle Association is a victim now. Um, no. Your congressmen are still bought. The President is back to being afraid of your dollars. It doesn’t sound like much of anything has changed.

Another mass shooting, another round of politicos pretending to care for the duration of the news cycle, another round of sniping at each other pointlessly on social media. Here’s a simple thing. Instead of calling for of all things, “Door Control.” Do this: Register every gun. Conduct a background check on every gun purchase. Hold gun manufacturers liable if their gun is used in a crime. Hold parents criminally liable if their child steals their gun and uses it in a crime. Digitize the ATF’s gun records. Realize horrible will happen given the amount of nothing we’ve done thus far. Realize criminals are going to do criminal things, else we need to call them something else, but I don’t think Gun free zone signs matter to them at all. I don’t want your gun, Mr. and Mrs. Responsible Gun Owner, I’d just like to see it be a little more of an achievement to get one.

We have seriously become Short Attention Span Theater when it comes to any issue and the crime families in Washington know this.  I get a kick out of people blaming a given media for the decline in debate. As the waffling Trump supporter in West Virginia mentioned to Anthony Bourdain correctly noted, “we need to talk with each other not at each other.”

Everybody is podcasting, but nobody is podlistening.

 

Advertisements

Drive – mental mcnuggets from a lengthy commute

3 Apr

When you have a lengthy commute to work as I do, it gives one plenty of time to sort out a myriad of issues that might creep into the cerebral cortex and not leave…

I notice Amazon isn’t taking the bait from the President. I think he is attacking the company because the owner also owns the Washington Post.  The Post covers news. The President is frequently is in same. He doesn’t appear to like that. Maybe he shouldn’t have run. Pretty sure that when a public figure runs down a public traded company that it is a form of securities fraud.

Different towns in Western New York have decidedly different approaches to snow removal. When you cross through a variety of townships, the care and patterns do shift a bit. I guess that is a good thing, keeps me alert during the drive.

Everytime one of our weatherforecasters has said a storm is “nothing we can’t handle,” I see multiple evidence the next morning that we apparently cannot. From spinouts to rollovers, this winter has seen them all.

Is there a right way to protest? That seems to take over debates than the actual matter being debated. A tv show host busts a student advocate about getting rejected from colleges instead being at all concerned that he got shot at. He’s too wrapped up in her and is losing site of his original cause, noble as it was. I say was because it sure looks like nothing is really going to change, except for Stoneman Douglas will take a few elements of high school that are already prominent in many urban schools already.

What should change? Hey, glad you asked. Make all gun transactions the same. Make background checks universal. Let ATF databanks be electronic so they digitally track potential trouble spots so it can be a little more difficult for a whackdoo to be an armed whackdoo. That’s a pretty decent objective, no? The fact that we might never completely eradicate doesn’t mean we need to necessarily not try anything. Responsible gun owners lives don’t change at all. And, oh yeah, let the appropriate agencies full enforce what is already there on the books. That would be good. See, simple, let’s move on.

Good of the guy in graphics to be on top of what we truly need to know.

Last guy to perpetuate such a relentless and pointless press attack was Nixon. That worked out well.

We have become so touchy about issues, especially ones involve political figures or ideology that we don’t necessarily agree with. When Roger Waters and U2 played shows in the region, people groused on Facebook about those acts “turning political.” It makes me wonder what they’ve been listening to as both artists have always had a concern in the political arena.

The restart of “Roseanne” has people talking about politics and of all people, Kareen Abdul-Jabbar has it right. Check out his article on what is really playing out: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kareem-abdul-jabbar-dont-be-fooled-roseanne-is-tvs-anti-trump-show-1099170?utm_source=twitter

If you are taking your cues from a sitcom character, that might be an issue. That’s never been good, be it Roseanne or Archie Bunker. Can they spark debate and thought? Sure, and we can certainly use more of that.

I wonder if more folks are going to the final home Buffalo Sabres’ game for the Dominik Hasek bobblehead than the actual game. They are and always will be my team, but my team is broken.

The Cuban flag dates back into the 1800’s and is not symbolic of Castro and Communism. It needed to be said.

I really liked the NBC production of Jesus Christ Superstar. It had a few flaws but as a whole was pretty great. I enjoyed Alice Cooper as King Herod, but a friend of mine posited how cool it would have been to see what David Bowie could have done with that assignment. That would have been something to see.

This was pretty good, however.

So a local congressman is afraid to meet with students out of fear they might not agree with him? What a world. That’s how you win over voters, by showing up. That’s how a grownup behaves, or do those kids not matter until they are donors?

Social Security and Medicare? We’ve been paying into them all our working lives. Left to their own devices, the programs are self-maintaining. Don’t be fooled when they are talked of as entitlements. It’s a misleading word. These are programs that literally have been funded by taxpayers, our money that is getting mismanaged and is under assault by those who don’t represent us.

I wish the Sabres weren’t so terrible.

Time for a walk.

 

Above the Fold

4 Feb

“The very reason for the First Amendment is to make the people of this country free to think, speak, write and worship as they wish, not as the Government commands.” Justice Hugo Black wrote that and he knew what was up. I found it digging deeper for another quote that was used the movie “The Post.”

The movie resonated with me not because it is a great film, but of a message that seems be losing sight these days. Nixon seemed to want to control the story. And now so many years later, people seem to seek out information to suit the narrative they want as opposed to seeking information to form an opinion. Here’s what I believe and if it can’t be confirmed, it must be fake news.

“In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.” The justice knew what’s up.

The current thin skinned administration seems to not want to acknowledge that, spending an inordinate amount of time whining about press coverage instead of governing. The obsession about about when something is going to get printed or broadcast seems to permeate social media feeds. If dear leader or the press mouth piece are so concerned about how this outlet or that outlet was going to report on something, perhaps another career choice would have been better for those fragile egos.

I read a few posters complaining of the democrats being disrespectful to the president during the state of the union. These folks forgot that the republicans did a lot of sitting on their hands during the previous adminstration. The national debate should consist of more than “well, what about (fill in no longer relevant villian here).”

There isn’t a perfect outlet. Retractions are taught in journalism school. You mess up, you fix it. It’s not only a journalistic principle, it’s a good human one too. Blind faith in anything is pretty dangerous. When the President talks of fake news, I take that as things he’d just assume not hear. That sort of goes with the territory. You’re in the most public of jobs, chances are people aren’t going to agree with you…on pretty much everything. There will always be dissent and there isn’t anything wrong with that. But he seems to have awoken, or given a louder voice to folks who want to have their version by the version of events. There are cases where they might not be incorrect, but to just scream “It ain’t so” because of who said it seems wrong. Still we have folks who will maintain that because “____ said this, so it has got to be wrong/right/bullshit.”

First amendment is just as important as the second maybe more so. People are smelling conspiracies in things they haven’t read and are seemingly can’t be bothered to look for. Everybody has a relative in their family line that you are just a little closer to, a deeper connection and for me that was my grandfather on my dad’s side. He was a newspaperman, managing editor of a daily and we would trade letters. I remember him giving me gentle criticism to refine my writing style…when I was in forth grade and wrote an article on a field trip for my grade school news letter. He was the first guy I know who actively spoke of reading multiple papers, explaining the value of multiple points of view. My folks espouse this to this day, but Grandpa Murray, too, knew what’s up.

I fully get that breaking news has been coming at a dizzying clip, the past year has been like dog years in terms of news cycles. All the keyboard ninjas are out espousing opinions from their preferred sights. I think given the level of information and disinformation that is out there, it would be good to go back to collecting info and forming your belief from that collection as opposed the other way around.

That never worked out well.

 

Fractious times

20 Oct

A Facebook post from a friend of mine got me thinking. Social media has been part of my professional life for over a decade now and it gives one pause to watch its effect on  the level of debate in the world, but especially that realm.

There have always been agenda bias. Cronkite was lefty, whatever. Growing up, my folks watched John Chancellor because he never got to excited in case they needed news naps (with five kids that was often) and wanted to know about the world through sleep osmosis. Well rested and informed is a good package.

The point of the post was to highlight how much information has become devalued, that we have become a nation that talks like we are all posting comments in a feedback thread. I can’t disagree at all. He’s correct. We have become a nation of ADHD when it comes to gossip. We aren’t informed as much as we are cast adrift in sea of scuttlebutt. Technology has made it possible for any potential information flood to come from any number of directions and at all times. The President came out against freedom of the press because he doesn’t like what they say about him. I guess he didn’t think about that part of the job.

As more and more avenues for potential information have appeared, the more lazy and scared we’ve gotten. Instead of seeking out information, we are looking more for what we want to hear, not what we need to know. It’s more than a little concerning that that is the primary goal of our executive branch.

We need to do more than that. Double standards are becoming wrote.  A favorite singer of mine once opined before starting a song that “Blind Faith in anything will get you killed.”

There is an awful lot of truth that as intolerance and ignorance grow.

There is an often repeated piece of video from Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” that speaks in a little Capra-esque way about the decline and it centers on how “we were informed.” We weren’t catered to, we were informed.

If you haven’t seen it, here ya go.

Now we deride and are derided. There are people who are okay with “Fake News” as a label for information they don’t like. Instead of fully resolving, we have become whining “what about-s?’ The current leadership has practically made that attention deficit policy. What we want to hear is drowning out what we need to hear.

The aforementioned Sorkin both enlightened and annoys me, but he does have a way with a phrase.

“I say these are fractious times, professionally, personally and socially…It seems to me that more and more we’ve come to expect less and less from each other and I want us to start bucking that trend. We need each other badly. ”

Bullet the Blue Sky

6 Oct

I still like heading out for live music. As I’ve gotten older, I prefer the smaller circumstances, but occasionally a big spectacle is a good thing. I was able to forget all that was bugging at me during a big U2 show a few weeks ago. There is a joy there that you can’t capture in many other places.

The horror of gun violence in Las Vegas had ruined that release for  countless number of people forever. The scope of it has all of us thinking more than just twice as any gathering is more and more clamped down. In recent days, news that the shooter was selecting what music festival to commit his actions is even more unsettling. I’m sure there is a stronger terminology for that, but it escapes me currently. All I know is that 58 music fans aren’t coming home from what was supposed to be a fun night out and countless others will never be the same.

Could anything have stopped that person once he got everything stuffed into that hotel room? Doubtful. I don’t blame the guns as it was the person doing the shooting, but to leave it at that alone seems irresponsible, especially with 58 dead and over 500 injured. It was terrorism, horrible, tragic and stomach churning all at once. That has to bother people in power if they have any kind of conscious at all.

Air Force One departs Las Vegas past the broken windows on the Mandalay Bay hotel, where shooter Stephen Paddock conducted his mass shooting along the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake – RC1585FEE8C0

No one is ever coming for your gun. I don’t want it. The last adminstration was accused of coming for your guns. They never were. Congress never was. I was shown around guns by folks who did have them and treated them with respect and care. I respect them enough to know that the one one I need is a super soaker. inaction on the part of our leaders just continues a cycle whose numbers are horrible tallies with no real end in sight.

Total bans aren’t likely to occur, but there are some workable notions out there that might reduce potential incidents. Can you completely eradicate? Again, probably not, but that doesn’t mean you don’t try to take some steps forward. The only risk is the NRA doesn’t contribute to your election coffers as much.

Courtesy of an actual thoughtful facebook discussion (there are such things, however rare, here are some actual notions that could help the cause

1) universal background checks.

2) close gun show loophole.

3) Allow the ATF to keep electronic records and study gun crime. They can’t make a database to track people who are buying lots of weapons. They have to work on paper and the chances of nipping a trouble spot or even seeing it disappear when you have to surf through reams of paper.

4) Quit gutting the ATF budget so that they can actually enforce the gun laws on the books.

5) Ban assault-style rifles.

6) Ban stock repeaters.

7) Increase mental health funding (instead of trying to gut it through all the failed repeal and replace votes and the new tax ‘reform’)

8) Reinstate the mental health checks for gun purchasing. You know, the one that Trump just repealed.

9.) Let the ATF enforce the laws on the books already.

These are all small steps that won’t really impact anybody in the populace and will keep most guns right where they currently reside. What they might do is slow down the possibility, make it a little harder for someone off their rocker individual to go picking off citizens. If they have to work a little harder, perhaps something evil can be averted.

It isn’t perfect, but it is something. When the only thing happening is the pointless assigning of blame, it’s a start.


A Good Walk Unspoiled

1 Oct

A late summer day after the tourist season has closed can renew you, especially if you pick the right spot. For me, it was a hike across Goat Island in Niagara Falls. It is a lovely area and takes a lot of guff that it doesn’t deserve because of comparisons to all the building across the border, but I like it as is. Maybe its me

The walk on the three sisters island removes you from all the hub bub.

 

and It was refreshing too.

Niagara Falls has some fun parts, just have to look as there is nothing like a sudden 90 degree day to make the hurricane deck  at the Cave in the Winds feel forcefully invigorating, a truly fun day off.

You won’t even mind the flip flops.

I Will Follow

5 Sep

So, a few buddhas of my youth have been touring on their laurels a bit. Both Bruce Springsteen and U2 celebrated or are celebrating albums from 30+ years ago. Initially I was of mixed emotions about this. Both are quite capable of putting out worthy brand new music and have new records in the can, but chose victory laps for highly regarded records from sometime in their past.

While initially I was in the “but the new record…” camp in both places, I’m shutting up. If a band can play like they mean it, I guess we should sit back and enjoy that. If the passion is there, it remains a sight to be seen. It’s our classical music. I mean nobody is upset that there isn’t any new Beethoven floating around.

When Bruce announced a tour to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the release of “The River,” I thought fine. The companion album of outtakes from one of the prolific periods of Bruce and E Street Band was a nice treasure and musically the band hasn’t lost a step. The steeple chasing spectaculars are definitely a bygone era for understandable reasons but these cats can play. The show wound up being a top to bottom playing of the River, an introductory outake and a mix of other stuff. I was fine with that. They were great. Treated myself to another show, and it was more historical as Springsteen released his autobiography. It’s a good book and again, hearing songs that don’t get much airplay get well played was great.

But….you get a little further away from new music.

I guess that is okay, as the group owes its fans nothing, having given their all for decades. Bruce’s upcoming Broadway (and likely West End) solo offering makes you think the end is in site, but you know he’s got more to say. The selfish fan hates to admit it, witness everybody calling into E Street radio to grouse. You hate to see the fear that the mass audience of the 80s might not be there be the reason. As the man himself said “what’s to be afraid about playing the new stuff? They’re not going to clap as much?”

I remember thinking, watching a show in Pittsburgh on this tour as Bruce and the band started “Incident on 57th Street,” that there was a noticeable increase in beer aisle activity. I thought if those philistines leave during “Incident” to get overpriced beer, they deserve to be stuck in line for the “Rosalita” that followed.

Stevie Nicks was quoted in Rolling Stone as not being interested in making a new Fleetwood Mac record because she is afraid nobody would buy it. I say if you have the muse, turn it loose.

This brings me to U2. I first saw them in 1983 on their tour for the “War” album. I “blame” their current tour on the success of the River tour. They are also celebrating a record I’ve purchased in many formats with “The Joshua Tree.” It is a great work. There is part of me that wants to go see them just so I can hear “One Tree Hill,” a long time favorite song of mine. They have always taken a long time between albums, so it was a little maddening that this victory lap was undertaken, but ever was it thus. A new record is coming. While I’m still deciding what I think of “The Blackout,” I’m happy they got a new record ready and when it is released, I’m sure I’ll snag a copy.

When Bruce puts out any of the finished records fans have heard about, I’d snarf that up as well.

People talk of nostalgia or greatest hits shows like they are bad things and I guess the shows shouldn’t be seen that way. Billy Joel tours regularly but hasn’t put out a new record in 20 years. Because he has such a vast catalog and plays like he means it, folks go to the show and have a grand time. I guess that would kind of be the point, wouldn’t it.

It’s our classical music to be sure. The seemingly endless supply of music related deaths over the past year or so makes a rock fan feel his mortality a little bit, that some of things that have always been there from when you first started looking in the racks at Twin Fair, National Record Mart, Cavages and the mighty Record Theatre are always going to be there in the mass quantities that they were. Even the music stores are going by the way side.

You feel your own musical mortality a bit as a rock fan when one of your heroes takes up a 12 week Broadway residency so he can go home each night. I can’t blame him. I just hope we meet again along E Street as Broadway is a little too pricey for this working stiff.

So hopefully U2 has a great show tomorrow, I’ll look forward to the bootleg, er, the download.

%d bloggers like this: