8 years of suffering under Obama

Teri Carter's Library

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3C54DC7D00000578-4140672-Barack_Obama_waves_as_he_boards_Marine_One_and_departs_the_Capit-a-77_1484945371469 Photo credit: The Associated Press

The sentence I hear most from well-meaning, conservative friends since President Trump’s election is this: “We suffered 8 years under Barack Obama.”

Fair enough. Let’s take a look.

The day Obama took office, the Dow closed at 7,949 points. Eight years later, the Dow had almost tripled, closing at 21,414.

General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy, with Ford not far behind, and their failure, along with their supply chains, would have meant the loss of millions of jobs. Obama pushed through a controversial, $8o billion bailout to save the car industry. The U.S. car industry survived, started making money again, and the entire $80 billion was paid back, with interest.

While we remain vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed a mass attack here since 9/11.

Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

He…

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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.

Five Myths About Music and the Biz of Music

Five Myths about music that musicians need to get over.

We musicians tend to be a very philosophical and optimistic bunch. “Music can change the world!” “Music is love!” “Music is the breath of life!”

Its been a long time since the 1960s. Trust me, I’ve been around, and been in the biz pretty much the entire time since then.

Mindless pablum was very much in vogue during those crazy, dark, happy faced times. But harmless pablum is not harmless, in fact, it can be detrimental, even fatal (to a fatalist at least).

Here then are five myths about music and the music biz in general that you just have to stop believing.

1) Looks don’t matter. Sure, a great song will trump looks, but face it, many stars would never have made it out of the local scene if they hadn’t had the extra special something, even some physical quirk that made their look memorable. Even though that has nothing to do with music.

2) Musicians whom you support should support you back. Get real. The music biz is a capitalist enterprise. You want people to come to see you make great music. If you like others music that’s great but never ever expect them to return the favor, because it was never a favor to begin with.

3) Music is a universal language. That is the biggest nonsense you and I will ever hear. True nearly everyone likes some kind of music but no one likes all music, not even someone as learned and eclectic as I. Country Music fans might hate rap. Metal Fans might hate Folk. Everyone hates easy listening (maybe because that’s what they use when they are drilling your teeth?). So no its not a universal language.

4) Music artists should be judged on certain standards. More nonsense. The only standard is will people like your music enough to listen to it. Forget about technique (as long as you have enough for your particular genre) forget about stage presence (some of the biggest selling artists are actually quite statuesque when performing), forget about poise and all that. Just make irresistibly great music (and keep developing that part) and you’ll do fine.

5) The music biz will chew you up and spit you out. No it won’t. The music biz is just a biz, like any other biz. A game like any other game. Learn the game and you’ll do fine.

And the number one rule of the game? Stay out of your own way. You know what I mean. Drugs, drinking, irresponsibility, be a jerk to others.

Just be nice, don’t develop bad habits that will get in your way and immerse yourself in your craft.

And remember, even if no one ever shows up at your gigs you will always have at least one fan, so make sure you enjoy yourself and be grateful you have talent to share.

Along with the brains to know reality from mythology.

That Small Strip Of Land

Written after the 32 year reunion of my Neptune Sr High School Class in 2008.

A tribute and remembrance of a great little town to grow up in, through good times and bad.

-Al-Vis October 2016

That Small Strip Of Land

We were born into the age of Sputnik, Kruschev, Leave It To Beaver, “I Like Ike” and the demon of rock and roll who was going to ruin us all, Elvis.
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The 5 stages of Diva

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The 5 stages of Diva, evident from booking my “Al-Vis and Friends” show:

1) “Al-Vis I would love to play at your showcase, pls check out my stuff. Thanks!”
2) “Al-Vis thanks so much for having me at your showcase and for all you do!”
3) from Al-Vis: “Hi _____ would you like to perform at my showcase, featured act? We pay! The old gang would love to see you!”
response: “Sorry Al-Vis I’m a little busy, but let me get back to you…”
4)from Al-Vis: “Hi _____ would you like to perform at my showcase, featured act? We pay! The old gang would love to see you!”
response: “(tumbleweeds…)”
5) “Hey Al-Vis, long time! Would love to play at your showcase some time!”

Guitarists????

Jeff Beck in a couple of short years with the Yardbirds and his first few solo albums- Jimmy Page on the first Led Zep album, Hendrix on Are You Experienced? Clapton on everything up to Derek and the Dominos, Duane Allman before his 27th birthday, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Chet Atkins.

Here is my question. To you guitarists.

What contributions have ANY of you made to the art form that is innovative and new? That people have latched onto and said “Hey I never heard anything like this before!”

And that is my problem with today’s guitarists, especially on a local level. True, I am not of their caliber but I have always tried to be creative, musical and put my heart and soul into it.

Too many of you don’t even do that. You sit there and fluff scales, or just repeat licks we’ve hear a million times. And do it almost robotic-ally, not a hint of passion.

Listen to my solo on “Don’t Stop The Dreamin'” by Big Danny.

Listen to my lead work on my CD Road Construction:

My work with Andrew James Hughes:

You can also hear me on my YouTube channel Alvis1515.

I’m deliberately trying to be creative- and deliberately trying to pull your string, to move you. But again this is not about me. I’m asking YOU.

I’m not trying to build myself by posting this- I am seriously posing this question as someone who loves GREAT guitar playing.

And don’t point me to some fusion player who confuses musical diarrhea with great skill. Steve Cropper uses pretty much the same half dozen notes on his solo on Otis Redding’s “Rock Me” over and over and its a fine solo:

I’ve heard blues harp players, sax players, keyboard players, drummers even who blew me away with their creativity and passion.

Almost never do I hear any of this from guitar players. Very few and far between.

So with such inspiration as I’ve outlined above- what gives?

On Robin Williams

He was OUR Charlie Chaplin, OUR WC Fields, OUR Laurel and Hardy.

He was the comic for OUR age. Coming into the post-Watergate scene from the planet Ork, he transformed our expections of what comedy and even drama had been before. He showed us in movies such as Mrs Doubtfire and Good Morning Viet Nam that they were often one and the same.

Yes we laughed when Mrs Doubtfire’s mask started to melt, but we also cried. In one scene in Patch Adams he put on that rubber nose and joked with terminally ill children. No other comic since Chaplin had done that so brilliantly.

He even danced- in The Birdcage and through his characterization made the world see that gays had the same fears, heartaches and ultimately capability to love as straight people. Yes we should have known that, but his performance SHOWED US that. The world has come a long way since that movie, proof of the effect of efforts such as this.

And so we saw the world as events of the next 30+ years unfolded thru HIS eyes and heart. The trauma of Viet Nam we all remembered all too well in Good Morning Viet Nam. The heart break of divorce in Mrs Doubtfire. The cruelty of terminal illness, especially when happening to children, in Patch Adams. He helped us make sense of it all, and through the insanity of his humor we were able to make just a little more sense of the larger and more horrific insanity of the world around us.

He will be lionized, cannonized, mourned, paid tribute to in the months and years to follow. No celebrity in OUR time, I think, was more beloved.

But we should never ever lose sight of the fact that, though he is gone, he was with us for a time. Few people have left the world a better place (and certainly very few celebrities).

Robin Williams left the world a better place. Mork came down from Ork and gave us some 35 years of relief and badly needed perspective from a world we needed relief and perspective from. 35 some years later we are forever transformed and our expectations will never be the same. We have seen and enjoyed the power of humor and the dramatic arts thanks to this man, and though there will be many more I am sure, we won’t want to settle for anything less than the brilliance, inspiration and brilliant perspective on our lives that was Robin Williams humor.

Here is Dick Van Dyke’s eulogy for Stan Laurel, a comic of HIS age (and for many ages to come), to sum things up.

RIP Mrs Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Armand Goldman. May God give you the comfort you failed to find with us, and may you make the heavens resound with laughter as you did on earth for us all these years.

“God bless all clowns.
Give them a long, good life.
Make bright their way.
They’re a race apart.
All comest most
Who turn their heart’s pain
Into a dazzling jest
To lift the hearts.
God bless all clowns.” ‘ A Clowns Prayer, as recited at the funeral of Stan Laurel by Dick Van Dyke

Time Is Limited, Life Is Brief – Get Out And Do Something

Jill Cagney’s blog about her 7 day open mic challenge, which was way up there as a highlight of my summer since I got to see her twice in one week! You can catch her back at Molly Maguire’s in a few weeks as featured act at Carol and Bobby D’s Open Mic- and you should if at all possible.

jillcagney

1613950_726124950742676_152982606_nOne thing I never want to find myself saying is “I used to play music”.  Sometimes when I am tired, overwhelmed with work or family or just feeling funky I think about how much easier things would be if I did not write songs or have to book gigs and go out a lot. Then I think about the alternative.  Would life be better if I sat on my couch more, met fewer people and heard and saw less art?  It seems like an easy answer but for those other artists reading this blog – you know of what I speak: the temptation to just be can appear deceivingly comforting. But there is no real comfort in giving up – and honestly after the experiences of this past week I think comfort is overrated.

mollys

8 open mics in 7 days, 9 performances in 8 days. Murphy’s Open Mic at Scotty’s

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2fer Tuesday – The Jersey Shore Scene Holds My Heart

One of the great songstresses of our time tells of her adventures on the North Jersey Coast leg of her annual open mic tour. And picking up some well-deserved laudits along the way.

jillcagney

mollys me 2

Some might say it was ambitious to do two open mics in one day but I chose my venues carefully.  You see, a year ago I was doing my best to break in to the group of amazing musicians that perform and support each other down the shore and a year later I am in!  So even though it was a long day – it was like coming home – playing for many people who already know and love my music.

The day started at Espresso Joe’s

ed and gorillabob

On the left is The Gorillabob – who generously gives of his time and talent to run the open mic.  It is a very laid back and supportive environment where people listen intently and support fiercely.  On the right is Ed who is the proprietor of Espresso Joe’s.  The thing you need to know about Ed is that he is one of…

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