“It doesn’t take any talent…”

I could never understand why some people have to put down music they don’t enjoy.

Its sorta like putting down food you don’t like.

In the earlier days of rock a lot of Jazz players couldn’t stand Rock, and they let it be known. To pick up a copy of Downbeat was to read about how Clapton, Page etc were all hacks and how they Jazz guitarists could play their stuff in their sleep. Which of course is nonsense.

And blues purists have this thing about rock guitarists, which I get but again, I just don’t see why they have to put blues music out there as superior. There is nothing superior about Muddy Waters over Kanye West or the Rolling Stones. Muddy was an icon for his time, and they are all valid in their fans ears and eyes.

Folk musicians used to be the worst- anything with a drum or electric guitar was considered blasphemous.

Here’s something those naysayers don’t understand: music lovers don’t really care about what music they are listening to. As long as it grabs their attention, and grabs at their heart and soul.

And music creators- the true innovators (not the hacks) know this also. They are the ones who mix Miles with Hendrix (Acid Jazz), or Dylan with the Troggs (which is how a lot of early Punk Rock started), to create something new. Something different than what came before.

Whether your bag is Chet Atkins, Jeff Beck, Larry Coryell, Kurt Cobain or Keith Richards, just enjoy the music, don’t be afraid to mix influences, and stay away from arguments such as “it doesn’t take any talent to play that kind of music.” Its a nonsence argument, and anyway the right question to ask is, what kind of talent do YOU have to create music that people will enjoy for hundreds of years to come?

Five Reasons Why I’m OK (and we all should be OK) with students walking out on Vice President Pence

Five Reasons Why I’m OK (and we all should be) with students walking out on Vice President Pence

It has just been reported that students at Notre Dame worked out on Mike Pence as he was speaking at their commencement ceremony.

I can already picture the “snowflake” and “how dare they disrespect those with different points of view” comments coming from us oldsters

But if you take a step back, there really is nothing wrong with this. They didn’t dis-invite him from speaking. They never told him to be one of the most virulent anti-gay, anti women’s rights and anti-Muslim leaders around.

Here are five reasons why I am fine with students walking out on him.
1) We live in a free country, meaning no one has to bow before despots, bigots or Kings. Pence falls into the first category- just check his record. If people want to protest by walking out when a bigot speaks I have no problem with that.

2) Trump intentionally picked a despicable, mean-spirited example of the radical right to be Vice President. Because he wanted to “shake things up”, or “blow things up” as I keep hearing. By shoving such a radical right wing agenda down America’s throat, k-Boom!.

3) In this country we have this thing called the First Amendment, so even it is disrespectful for people to protest by walking out on a leader when he speaks, its a guaranteed right under our constitution.

4) Pence isn’t just a conservative, he’s a right wing radical who does not have the best interests of millions of Americans of color, of different sexual orientation, or of different moral beliefs as he has. That should mean something to those millions of people whom his agenda is malignant towards.

5) To make a difference, and to be a good citizen in this world and in this country you need to show strength of character. So when you see injustice you need to address it.

IF Pence had his way we would probably go back to the days of poll taxes and literacy tests and other Jim Crow era anti-Black laws. We would likely see those laws expanded to the LBGT community, who would be even more at the mercy of a hostile political environment than the currently are.

People like Pence and ideas like the ideas ALL RADICAL RIGHT WING BIGOTS have should be resisted at all costs.

Walk out on them if you feel that will get your point across. In this day and age no one should have to listen, much less deal with the agenda of, bigots.

Mike Pence is one of those.

#Resist.

For you Trumpsplainers out there- why Russia matters and why 90% of the world can’t be wrong

For you Trumpsplainers who don’t get why the entire world (outside of a few like- minded despots) is aghast at the Comey firing:

1)  Yes Dems were highly critical of Comey and many would have liked to see him reprimanded at least for the way he handled the job.

But he’s the third, count ’em third major figure who had been investigating Trump that he has fired. And he has admitted it was to try to hasten the speed of getting the probe out of the way.

2) You GOPers spent years and years investigating Clintons for everything from half baked 30 year old land deals gone bad to and embassy attack that it concluded there was nothing to prosecute about over and over.

This man has likely committed the treasonous act of colluding with a sworn adversary who conspired to thwart out election and we can bare get one or two congressional probes out of you. Both of which seem more focused on trying to determine who leaked information about the investigation into the collusion than the collusion itself.

3) Trump has rarely, if ever, had a bad word to say about this murderous dictator, who kills his opponents and invade sovereign nations, while insulting almost ever other democratically elected ally of the US around the world.

4) GOP YOU ARE LETTING HIM DESTROY YOUR PARTY. Yes I know thats all caps, because I can’t stress it enough.

When the history of this is written the books will tell, quite honestly, about how so many Republicans blindedly let him lie and lie and lie to the American people, threaten our press, threaten Comey and change his story about why he was fired several times.

5) Those people in the intelligence community are NOT going to let this go. The first bit of dirt they are able to leak the press will start with a drizzle then turn into a firehouse, and eventually Trump will be so beat up by all the revelations who might be forced to resign, even if he is not impeached.

6) And by the way, impeachment does not mean removal from office. It means a TRIAL to remove the president from office.

So even if he is not removed, enough information could come out (including him perjuring himself) so that he could be criminally indicted. That is one of the reasons Nixon never let it get that far, he knew if he did there would be no telling would come out.

7) It doesn’t matter how gerrymandered your distracts are- because of Trump congress and the senate are definitely up for grabs in the next elections. And if the dems get even close to having a majority impeachment is a certainty.

8) This presidency is the biggest threat to America since WW2. Even though the threat is from within, the threat is very serious. He is undermining our free press, our law enforcement community and agencies and our very faith in the ability of Americans to govern themselves.

So don’t tell us to “Get over it”. We will never be “over it”. Until this evil resigns or is taken out of office we will resist, promote transparency and continue to call the GOP to task for their blanked endorsement of this stain on American democracy and values.

And we will never forget that it is YOU GOP, who failed to stop him from the very beginning. You sold your soul to this orange devil and history will be swift and merciless when it comes to collect.

Five phrases we all can do without in 2017

 

These phrases are either offensive, meaningless or just plain incorrect. Can we make it one of our New Years resolutions to get rid of them?

1) Snowflake

Usually said in regards to Millennials.

Its offensive and not accurate. Millennials are simply the younger generation. They fight our wars, work minimum wage jobs and take on massive debt to put themselves through college, and will be our doctors, lawyers and leaders in a few years if they aren’t already.

Give them some respect.

2) Terrorist

This word is meaningless. Or rather, it means different things to different bigots.

To some it only refers to those of Middle East origin who commit acts of mass murder, kidnapping etc. To others it includes anyone from anywhere who commits these acts. Including white Christians.

Why can’t we just refer to them as who they are? If the are murderers call them that. If they are kidnappers call them that. If they are radical right wingers call them that.

The word terrorist means nothing and only incites more bigotry.

3) Alt-right

Can we just call them right-wing nutcase bigots at this point? What else are they?

4) All lives matter

This is the biggest piece of horse poop I have heard in decades.

If all lives mattered then why are all those bones swinging from swamps in the southern bayous not of white people? What white people were kidnapped and sold like livestock (other than the Irish, but that still does not add up to “All”) for hundreds of years?

What white people struggled for 400 years to be treated as equals in our society?

And I realize other ethnic groups have been treated horribly by this country, from the Indians to Mexicans to the Chinese.

But what does that have to do with the fact that Black lives matter?

There is a reason for the Black Lives Matter movement. If you don’t believe me ask a black person.

5) American Exceptionalism

Unless you mean the exceptionally cruel and criminal way we slaughtered Native Americans and took over their land, brutalized the black and Chinese races, raped and plundered the earth and paved it over as if no other species needed to exist.

And interfered with other countries in other parts of the world to the point to where we now are considered the world’s police force.

The world does not need the United States, who just elected one of the most bigoted, sexist creatures to ever crawl the Earth, to show them how to govern. Now or ever.

Disagree? You are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own hate. Please keep it civil if you wish to comment.

A Look at American Life In the 1950s through The Blob

In college my minor was American History.

One of my profs was a scholar of cultural history, Dr. Warren Susman.

I took his course “A Cultural History Of the US through Film”. The main premise being that you could learn much of the history of America in the 20th century by studying how films related to and mirrored the American experience at the time. For example, you could tell a lot about how America was in the 1920s by studying the films of Chaplin and Keaton, or the 1960s by studying films such as The Good The Bad and The Ugly or MASH.

To see how this works lets take a look at the US in the 1950s, through a typical 50s film, 1958’s “The Blob”.

blob-movie-poster

The 2nd world war had been over many years but the menace of communism and nuclear war hung over America’s head.

Soldiers assimilated back into society, only to find, in their dismay, that the children they were raising were rebellious, even criminal at times. The “JD”, or “Juvenile Delinquent” was an iconic representative of youth culture in the 1950s.

annex-brando-marlon-wild-one-the_14

“What are you rebelling against?” “What’dya got?”

And so two of the main threads running through American life during this time were

1) Out of control youth. Explicit comic books, rock and roll, drive-ins, street gangs etc etc were all evidence that somehow America was going wrong, and our future was in doubt.
2) The communist menace, with its threat of nuclear war

Atomic Bomb dropped in Nagasaki

Now lets see how “The Blob” figures into these.
Steve Andrews is your typical 50s teen. Neither a role model or a bad person, he’s a bit of a “Richie Cunningham” type.

He and his friends get into typical troubles that small town 50s kids get into- drag racing, for example.

And his parent, the police and his teachers are frustrated that all these kids think about is making trouble.

Suddenly, a mysterious creature from outer space appears, and starts killing people. AKA “The Blob”.

Since Steve can’t get the police (or any authority figures) to believe him when he sees this blob-like creature murder someone right in front of his eyes, he takes matters into his own hands.

He pokes around the town after hours and comes across this monster finally in a store. Since the police won’t believe him or his friends, he decides to set off sirens and car horns in front of the store, calling on his supposed “JD” friends to help him out.

At this point, the town starts to believe him, and they all come together. The Blob is defeated.

What does this have to do with the 1950s?

Well substitute “The Blob” for the Red Scare and you can see how the country came together, young and old, united against this shared threat.

Note the color of the “The Blob”, red. Note the cop who fought “in the war”. Note the mistrust between the police, the parents and the kids.

The 1950s were a time of intense paranoia, as the world was trying to come to terms not only with the fear of communist domination, but also a nuclear holocaust that we could not possibly survive.

By showing how, no matter how divided a nation we were in the 1950s, we could come together to face a common threat, “The Blob” does an excellent job of identifying the major concerns of the 1950s, and helps us understand how people acted and felt at that time.

And that, my friends, is what Cultural History is.

Warren I. Susman Obit

New Jim Crow Blues by Al-Vis

alvisnjc

New Jim Crow Blues by Al-Vis

Liner Notes and Lyrics

www.ArtistGroupMusic.com

New Jim Crow Blues Video
All guitars: Al-Vis
All vocals: Al-Vis
Bass guitar: Al-Vis
Percussion: Andrew James Hughes
Written by Al-Vis
Produced and Engineered by Andrew James Hughes
(c)2016 Artist Group Music All rights reserved

Narrative: The song follows a family through three generations, from the Jim Crow South to the current unrest with the Flint Water Crisis, Black Lives Matter movement, voter disenfranchisement, funding for inner city schools and on and on.

After it all, the protagonist asks- is it time to run once again from this New Jim Crow or stay and fight?

My name is Nathan Justice
And I come into this life
Two Score and seven years ago
On a dark Michigan night

And I have been through poverty
And I have been through pain
All the things I fought against
Seems like they’re back again

And I wonder what its coming to can a man ever be free?
When he opens up his eyes without knowing he sees

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Just Around The Corner-A Prophesy Fulfilled

During the month of January dozens of acts will perform in multiple venues in and around the Asbury Park area.

This is the annual Light Of Day event, for a great cause. Newspapers will report on what a great event it is- people will come from all over to attend.

Acts are chomping at the bit to perform at great rooms like the Stone Pony, Wonder Bar, McCloone’s.

I have a question though.

Whom out of all of these involved in this event gets paid and makes money?

– Security/extra police
– The venue owners
– The venue staff
– The liquor distributors
– The food distributors
– The periodicals that run ads
– Sound men and other stage staff
– The electricians and construction workers who built and maintain the venues
– The city of Asbury Park, through parking fees and taxes
– Utilities such as gas, electric
– Local hotels and motels
– Taxis and Uber drivers

The answer of course is all of them. In most, if not all, cases, full price.

Now who doesn’t get paid (for the most part, excluding any stipends to headliners or national acts)?

– The musicians

“When redevelopment comes, you musicians better be prepared. The powers that be certainly will be. They will be out to take all they can get, and that means from YOU.

If we don’t organize now, and have some way of fighting back, its all going to be about the takers, and all of you will be the taken. These people know how to make money and they’ll do it any way they can, so you better be ready to make sure you are properly compensated.”

– Margaret Potter, President- Society Of Associated Performers 1992

The “Evils” of Liberalism

Since the death of the moderate wing of the GOP, its sole political platform (besides the neocons trying to rush us into wars) has been liberal-bashing. The word “liberal” has been used as an epithet over and over again, as if it’s some nefarious force designed to destroy America from the inside.

In truth, its the words of these politicians that have been dividing us. Most of us want the same things for ourselves, for our families and for our country. Continue reading

Twenty Five Favorite Films

A colorful Hollywood sign celebrates the new millenium on Dec. 31, 1999.

Not the greatest films ever made necessarily- the ones I enjoy watching the most.

All talkies, I will do a separate list for silents later.

And not in order.

What are some of you faves? Leave a comment!
1) A four-way tie for the Coen Bros: No Country For Old Me, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski and O Brother Where Art Thou. Sorry too hard to pick one!

“I’ll show YOU the life of the mind!” Mad Mutt

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