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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.

 

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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.

 

This Old Geek

19 Jul

Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, Geeks got to explore. There is stuff that geeks gotta do. There are some worthy rambles to be taken.  That’s doesn’t immediately mean Comic-Con (not that there is anything wrong with that), but there other worlds to conquer.

There is a vast world of geekihood out there, that calls out to step away from your screens, and come look at ours. One of the things that music geeks (you know who you are, current downloaders, former gawkers at Carly Simon album covers while you listened to Zep or AC/DC over the record store sound system, thrift store rummagers,  the t shirts in your wardrobe that aren’t superhero laden) and make the pilgrimage to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

I mean the place is literally calling to one’s inner and outer geek. We are all collectors in some fashion, be it comics, dvds, blue rays, what have you and if you schlep around the first few floors of the Hall of Fame, you can’t help but think you got in on somebody else’s treasures. You did.

Journey forth and be one with the music geeks, some of us, hell most of us are playing in these multiple dimensions. Okay, so you might not be a Springsteen acolyte, a Deadhead, but as that seer, sage, soothsayer Ice Cube notes: “Rock and Roll is a spirit.” There is so much to move the spirit inside these walls, even beyond the gift shop.(Photo: Author)

Regardless of your dispensation, part of your record collection is lurking in there, along the way, you will find some things that ought to be. You might a few bands that made you change the radio dial with manic like lightspeed, but there is also bands that you stayed in the car waiting for their song to finish on the radio. This was my second spin through the Hall, and just like rummaging through found comics or album covers, there is good stuff waiting to be checked out.

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Prince wore this ensemble when he literally made his guitar gently weep in a tribute to George Harrison some years ago.

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Elvis’ chopper, presumably for leaving the building

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This is the B-3 organ that Gregg Allman played on stage for many years with the Allman Brothers.

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Springsteen, a longtime presence for me.

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This piece of history literally speaks for itself(Photo: Author)

This is a pretty awesome site to see. Most of the artifacts can be found on the first two levels, the next two are lot of video and audio offerings including the Sirius Radio home and numerous theaters, all worth checking out. The main theater was dedicated to “The Power of Rock” an exhibit that runs into the fall. That show was a compilation of the best bits from performances of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction dinner, but there are some amazing legends to that voodoo we love em to do. The featured exhibit does change with some frequency so it is worth heading to the Hall’s site to have some heads up knowledge ahead of time (and to buy tickets ahead of time).

(Photo: Author)

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Lest you think geek worlds don’t collide, as my son and I walked passed the AC/DC exhibit, a young voice yelled out “Hey, the Iron Man song.” No, it didn’t come from either of us.

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Gotta go, I mean, what other museum will have action figures….Go, now.

Shenanigans

1 Dec

Can’t swing the proverbial dead cat without hitting some.

-The President Elect didn’t save jobs from Carrier. The state bribed them with tax breaks to not take them all. This is a strategy that worked out really well for Carrier in New York State where the only thing still functioning with the name Carrier on it is the dome.

-Saying you are “Draining the swamp” doesn’t preclude from the fact that you might just fool around and refill it.

-Coal jobs aren’t coming back. With wind and solar getting to be cheaper, it’s one of those industries that won’t dominate as it once did and for somebody to magically promise, without substantiation that the jobs are coming back is both exploitive and sad. But then again, so is believing that somebody.

-Did anybody ever take a more pained dinnertime photo than Mitt Romney? Whoever lit that table was editorializing in their own way. You can almost watch his soul leave.

-New York Times contributor Paul Krugman noted on Twitter that “Another metric: Trump would have to do one Carrier-sized deal a week for 30 years to save as many jobs as Obama’s auto bailout.”

-So the NFL decided to bust the Bills’ Offensive Lineman Seantrel Henderson for using medical marijuana…to treat Crohn’s Disease. First, just legalize it already. Look at the revenue that Colorado is reaping. Second, NFL? Really? Seriously? It’s not a performance enhancing drug, it’s a medical regimen. Good thing he isn’t beating anybody up. Oh, wait, you’re cool with that.

-The Affordable Care Act is a noble idea, but a flawed law. I think Congress wasted all those votes on repeal because they didn’t have to actually deal with the consequences of “what’s next?” Well, guess what, time to shine, obstructionists!

-Cutting Social Security and Medicaid, this confuses me a little, as they are things that we pay into, why would payouts need reduced? Oh yeah, because that pot of money keeps getting borrowed for other things.

-I’m not certain that Bernie Sanders would have won, but I’m glad the grumpy old man isn’t going gently into the good night.

-The recount efforts won’t change anything, but there is no harm in letting the process play out. I mean, unless you think it might not go your way, then panic on twitter.

-Nobody, and I mean, nobody ever gets everything they want or promise done once they get into office. That said, despite not being the most natural campaigner, Secretary Clinton was a pretty capable Senator.

-It would be good for our current President to take some action on Standing Rock, any action. And place his nominee on the court as a recess appointment. The court would be fully stocked for a year, while the obstructionists in congress publicly obfuscate, squirm and talking point their way around a nominee who actually meets their criteria.

-Steven Colbert was right, we are overpoliticked with the election. One of the worst mediums ever is the public comment sections of newspaper and tv websites. Laden with digital ninjas whose sole human contact is their moms yelling from upstairs to come up for breakfast, that style of uninformed, meme-posting, if you don’t agree with me, you must be a moron discourse is all over social media. I suppose this essay falls into that category, but it’s okay to disagree with me and I don’t live with mom.

-That said, everybody’s history has some poison in it. Every race, creed, color has a list of do-overs and we haven’t always come to grips with that. The naysayers who have issues with Black Lives Matter miss the point. All lives do matter and should matter, but the central point to me is that some lives haven’t mattered as much and correcting that takes time, time and recognition that a lengthy history of abuses, misconceptions and prejudice affects all involved and doesn’t magically go away. So, standing up for that is a good thing and that reminder very good.

So, another transition.

-The Buffalo Bills have me concerned. They had trouble with the 2-8 Jaguars at home and are going to play the Raiders, in Oakland, and the Raiders are pretty good again.

-It’s great that Jack is back, but should one guy….

It’s that time of the year where we act, mostly, like we should all year long. Let’s strive for less idiocy and realize that differing views don’t make the opposing parties morons. We can learn beyond facebook bickering.

 

 

Dear Boss, (book 3)

4 Dec

While I wait for Amazon to deliver me the one treat I’m allowing myself this tough year (“The Ties that Bind”), I was happily greeted with the news that the celebratory tour is coming my way toward the end of February, the 25th to be exact.

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Thank you for that.

The original release of the River and that tour fully brought me into the fold. I was 16 at the time and my musical notions were maturing somewhat. It’s a great record and I loved the whole thing, without the aid of the internet, newsgroups, trolls bitching about band players, leaked videos or anything. You got an E Street show over double vinyl.

I actually still have the recording I made when 97 Rock in Buffalo played the whole thing over the air, only to get myself to National Record Mart to pick up the copy that I would tape, eventually wear out, tape again as best buds would do (my buddy had a boom box but no turntable).

When the original Buffalo date was announced, you and the gang were set to play the old Buffalo Aud. My pal and I sorted what monies we had. Between the two of us, we had the princely sum of $24.50. That was enough to cover the cost of two tickets in the building. We’d figure out how to get there later (I had it bad). Inconveniently, on the day and time the tickets were going on sale, our history teacher scheduled a test.  He was sympathetic to our plight, but not so much that he rescheduled. My mom came to our rescue and took our modest fortune and cued up for two Bruce tickets while we were being good students.  Two front row lower bowl seats….yep, coolest mom ever.

We got that needed ride to my first arena sized E Street Experience and it was one of “those” shows, one of those forever burnt in your memory without the aid of youtube, you are in the moment without overpriced concessions, every detail bullying its way into your cerebral cortex shows.

35 years later and I can still picture the house lights on, the sax solo to “Jungleland” making my sternum hum and you on top of Danny’s organ set up punching the sky. The cadillac walk in “Cadillac Ranch” was fresh and new and “Out in the Street” was definitely the place to be.

So, it’s definitely worthy of some celebrating to be sure. Ironic that that set and tour announcements come 35 years to the day of the big occasion. That really isn’t much of a true milestone, but I’ll take what I can get. I’m looking forward to the original album songs, the outtakes, whatever the hell else you feel might fit. I am a little confused about the naysayers. Since the announcement of the shows, people have whined about the tour name (?), the dates all being put on sale at the same time, it’s a short run, people will show up when the time comes. I’ll drink the kool-aid again and enjoy the show. In the meantime, the blue rays will tide me over.

It all comes around when I can use the boost to be sure. You’ve had that unintended timing all along.

Looking forward to taking another ride.

Vicious Circles

19 Nov

For me, the tv show “The Newsroom” was a bit of a mess, but it had its moments. Perhaps the one most shared around the internets was the speech Jeff Daniels give at the beginning of the first episode. It’s a great monologue, but one line jumped to the fore for me. “Because we were informed.” We seem to be a little more than content for political memes to be our policy statements whether they are accurate or not. The events in Paris have demonstrated that. Everybody is posting from the gut, regardless if the gut has shit for brains.

The hysteria gripping most folks facebook news feeds is borderline overwhelming. Everybody is in either “share if you agree” mode or trying to get folks to research a little more before bloviating. I came across some good words to bear in mind:

“I think it really comes down to terminology. Refugees we see fleeing Syria and standing against chain link fences on European borders are NOT automatically eligible for refugee status as defined by American immigration standards. They are refugees in the broadest global sense. That is not all that is required to receive refugee status for entrance to the United States.

Out of the 700,000+ refugees given that status and taken in to the US since 9/11, not one single refugee has been arrested because of or linked to domestic terrorism. Some would say the Boston bombers were refugees because they left their war-torn country to come here. They were asked why they were visiting our country and stated “tourism”. They came here on tourist visas and did not get anywhere near the vetting process that people claiming refugee status get. It was only after those visas expired that they applied for asylum (an even less involved process than refugee status).

The 10,000 (not 100,000) Syrian refugees will be investigated by their port country before being investigated thoroughly by Interpol, DHS, the FBI, and 4 other govt agencies and cross checked with multiple international terrorist databases. The process is the most lengthy, involved, and secure way to get into the US legally and puts applicants under more scrutiny than any other group of foreigners coming to our shores. They will be more thoroughly investigated than any other prospective citizen.

There is a budget for refugees and there always has been. This is not an instance where we just decided to incur extra expenses. No food is being taken out of your mouths. No veteran is being denied shelter because of these refugees. It’s not an either/or scenario. We CAN and SHOULD help both our veterans AND other members of the human race that want the American Dream. Especially the ones fleeing a country which is currently being bombed by three different nation’s air forces, terrorized by Islamic extremists, AND is suffering one of the most brutal civil wars in this century while being ruled by a sadistic dictator.

Stop allowing fear to permeate every aspect of what it means to be a citizen of the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

This was posted by a good dude name Josh Fielder and it does the neat trick of making sense, eloquently shutting down the refugees not vets posters.

If all the governors who are attempting to shut down their borders would stop and realize that they are not the governors of the people who agree with them. With attention spans at what seems like an all time low, fear mongering seems to be all the rage these days with righteous indignation not too far behind. The GOP Presidential campaigns are spouting all things worthy of school yard fights with the President and how certain religions aren’t welcome in the land of the free since “He will close down” mosques, which is wrong on any number of levels including constitution-wise. I mean if we are a christian nation and “give us your tired, your poor, yearning to breathe free” actually means something, we should walk the walk.

I’m all for civil discourse and opposing points of view because done right, that’s how you learn things and maybe become better informed with a greater grasp of what is truly unfolding, while the bad guys get bombed and not in a fun way.

I’m not sure when exactly we got so scared over what we don’t know. 9/11 isn’t the answer because refugee issues going back to World War II weren’t popular notions, despite all the US pomp and circumstance. I guess everybody is entitled to opinions to be sure, but for all those who worried about people getting their information from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, more folks than ever are picking up their data from memes.

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Even when there are some truth to them.

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It’s a complex issue and I’m just thinking outloud, but it goes beyond a “share if you agree.” Congress just passed a more stringent code for screening, which if nothing is remarkable in that they actually did sometime, so that should be “celebrated.”

In the meantime, things remain vicious and a circle.

 

 

Golden Slumbers

21 Oct

It is thrilling that Western New York has been racking up major event level concerts at an increasing rate in recent months. I don’t know if it is the stability of the ownership at our major arena, but it is a good thing, as you can never have too much music. Paul McCartney and his great band are coming to Buffalo for the first time and I believe those who are going are in for a thrill.

I mean, pick your metaphor, Shakespeare the way the author intended, etc. When musical history walks among you or at least drives itself nearby, it would behoove you to do what you can to see the show. I took that in 2010 the last time Sir Paul was near this parts and it was worth the effort of schlepping up to Toronto to see him, at the surprisingly reasonably priced Air Canada Center, excuse me, Centre.

When some body of work has been part of your personal soundtrack for so long, and the guy who created it still has the goods to deliver, it is a pretty amazing experience, enough so that “Let ’em In” was a thrill to hear, and I didn’t think that was possible. He has a great band working with him, so I’m sure attendees are in for a treat as he has made music with this group longer than any other, including those chaps in the 60s.

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You are going to get that picture, proof you were there, something to remember by, something to brag from. I get it and obviously, I am guilty of that too, but stow the phone and savor the moment. The Eagles took some flack for on their recent tour having a no-phone policy, to the point of Glenn Frey even teasing a song introduction with “there is a story about this song, and I’ll tell it as soon as this guy down front finishing texting.” While jerky, he did have a point. It was a good reminder to savor the moment. The memory of hearing songs you’ve heard all your life come to life by the guy who created them will be more long lasting than any crappy video you want to share on youtube.  The above is the one picture worth taking from McCartney’s first night in Toronto in August 2010.

The band was in fine form and for a gentleman with some miles on him, Sir Paul was in fine voice. There were Beatles numbers, Wings tunes, and various McCartney solo hits that gave the audience a nice cross section from an impressive career, something even non-fans have to admit.

My son has a respect for a lot of old school British rock and it meant the world for me to bring him to his first major rock show and have it be a Beatle, I mean, a friggen Beatle. It’s pretty hard to top that. But here’s probably the best souvenir I will ever take away from a show and I’ve been to a bunch.

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He’s a lot taller and I’m a little grayer, but he still talks of the experience and unlike a lot of shows, I still remember it like it happened yesterday. I don’t have any other images, no bootlegs or crappy video. I got a pin and my boy got his first concert shirt. Part of that was the event, part of that was the idea of the event. Much was made when the show was announced for here how fast the tickets disappeared. Concert tickets for as long as I can remember have had a tough battle finding their way to fans. The screams for legislation on ticket distribution were pretty laughable to me. When you got that body of work and amazingly have never been here, there will be some demand.

I watched as a woman nearby stopped to film a few precious moments of the Eagles recent stop in her phone, complete with flash on fullbore. Why risk getting tossed out when the moment is there to enjoy.

McCartney’s appearance at the First Niagara Center is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime appearance.

Enjoy the show. Be in that moment.

 

 

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