Category Archives: real life

Two One’s To Know By

On the night of January 20th, there is a very real possibility that there will be hip hop at the Inaugural Ball and that those attending could be getting their swerve on to some thick beats. If it happens, it would be the first time that the party in the White House is bumping the same soundtrack that is heard all over the rest of D. C.. Just think of it, the music that has served as voice for those who don’t have one, will finally be heard on Pennsylvania Avenue.

For the last eight years it has been difficult to conceive of the President as a man who has the future in mind, but one look at Barack’s two beautiful daughters assures us that the new guy is going to be different. Although perilous circumstances provided the context for his ascension to power, it will be comforting to know that those kids are there to affect the decisions he makes.

I am absolutely certain that we can trust President Obama to act on the behalf of his children and not his parent. The responsibility of raising kids is both humbling and empowering at the same time, much like the presidency, and small actions can be magnified exponentially. It can safely be assumed that Mr. Obama, an obviously bright individual, has considered this as a parent, and now as he prepares to move into the Oval Office.

When we don’t use vision to look forward with hope, toward the outcome of our choices, the results often turn out poorly. It’s a new dawn folks and for the first time in years people are encouraged to take on their bad circumstances with a genuine belief that things stand a chance of being different later. We hoped for change and now it is here, and because of it we are all obliged to look beyond the obvious, toward conquering the impossible. Good luck Mr. President.

Do As I Say

Today the Pentagon announced that it was dropping war crimes charges against five detainees at Guantanamo Bay after the prosecutor who was to try them resigned, and accused the military of withholding evidence that could clear the men. Of course, because our government is making up the rules for the war on terror as it goes along, with little regard for the human rights we supposedly esteem, new trial teams have been appointed for the men while, according to published reports, the military reassert their case. It is likely that the men will be charged later and forced to face the kangaroo court that the current administration refers to as a military tribunal.

Jose Padilla is an American citizen who was declared an enemy combatant after being arrested on U. S. soil. He was held without any charges being brought against him for over three years. After being convicted by a Florida jury he was given a seventeen year prison sentence. When he was eventually charged in a civilian court, none of the accusations leveled against him were related to the alleged, domestic dirty bomb plot he had initially been detained for.

When I visited Gitmo many years ago before the first Gulf War I looked beyond the wire fence that surrounds the U.S. Naval Air Station, and I saw a barren panorama spread out before me. Today there is prison where I stood and looked out through the wire, and the men held captive there are predetermined as enemies of the state.  Like the naked land that stretches out beyond that fence, the future for those being held there is as bleak as the landscape.

In the directive issued March 28th, 2003, that details the Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, it specifies that captors should “not relate terrorism to Islam”, and that “it is inappropriate to equate any religion to such heinous activity”. After the Abu Ghraib abuses in Iraq that came after it, the directive has the appearance of being mere lip service despite the fact that Cuba is a long way from the Middle East.

At Republican rallies, back here in the United States; the Democratic rival is announced derisively as Barack Hussein Obama, his middle name making the implicit connection to TERROR. In television ads that are running infrequently due to the McCain campaign’s depleted war chest, republicans continue to infer a link between Senator Obama and domestic insecurity, sticking with dogged determinism to the strategy that got them into such a mess. I guess you dance with the one that brought you.

Believe it or not, all human’s are created equal and are entitled to a speedy and fair trial, and we are all still welcome to exist regardless of what we believe is God. These things aren’t solely an American birthright though, everyone who lives should share these entitlements, and more, simply because we are human. America cannot hold the World up to a standard that values human rights if we think that our citizens have more of a right than people in other countries. Either all men are created equal or not, and if we cannot match our actions with our words then maybe we should be saying something different.

Dark days are ahead if we do not get a handle on the systemic hypocrisy that plagues us after the last eight years of Bush. We could wind up with even more troubles than we already have. No one wants to live in a world where government employees eavesdrop on private phone conversations, and then joke about the strangers personal lives while on a coffee break.

Joe Biden said something I agree with, that growing up in his neighborhood; if you had a problem with someone you said it to their face. I would go the Vice Presidential nominee one further and say, don’t feed me a line of crap and glad hand me to my face, if you know that you are going to turn around and do the exact opposite. Because of America’s diminished standing and influence around the world after the last few years, I hope that everyone feels exactly like me on November 4th when they go out and vote.

Peace.

That’s Crazy Talking

During last night’s debate, John McCain continued to define his status as a maverick who stands apart, by sounding the alarm and warning us not a moment to soon, that the very fabric of democracy was in danger of being torn apart. Because of voter apathy, our democracy is not what it could be,surely though it is strong enough to resist the stress that tests. It is not in danger of being destroyed, least of all by a small band of rogues.

En route to becoming an overnight sensation and some sort of symbol, a guy called “Joe the Plumber” was mentioned by Mr. McCain more than twenty times. Today we found out that his name is actually Samuel Wurzelbacher and that, though he isn’t recognized as a plumber by the union or licensed as a plumber by the state, he does happen to work for a plumbing company. In the wake of Governor Palin’s nomination, no one accuses the McCain camapign overly vetting the people it chooses to represent them.

Things truly took a desperate turn when Senator McCain turned reports of  outbursts at his own rallies around on the Democratic Presidential nominee, and damanded that Obama “repudiate“, recent “hurtful” comments, by Senator John Lewis. McCain went on to claim that both candidates need to “absolutely not stand the kinds of things that have been going on”, forgetting how things had gone on at his own events, while he just stood there and winced.

The Arizona Senator came across like curmudgeonly Grandpa Simpson in response to a question about Joe Biden.  He praised Biden and condemned him, before the  solidifying his own image as an angry old man by using the word “cockamamie“. Intrigued my McCain’s use of a term that sounds nothing but ironic when uttered by anyone under seventy, I discovered it’s origin is in the word word decalomania, which was an art form that was popular in the United States during the late 1800’s. Cockamamie, the slang term that derived, last saw wide usage in this country about forty years ago during the 1960’s.

The pariotism of John McCain remains unchallenged because he endured more than five years in a cell during the Vietnam War at the hands of merciless captors. For his service to this country we all owe Mr. McCain a debt of gratitude. The time he spent in that cell, though it could be used as an explanation for Mr. McCain’s unwillingness to adopt any viewpoint other the his own, even for perspective, is a testament to Mr. McCains immovable courage and sense of duty to his country. John McCain’s time as a POW is also one of the reasons that he does not have either the temperament or the decision making skills to be the President of the United States during a time when this country needs someone who comes across as steady, even handed and rational.

Everything New Wave Is Old

Here’s a  bunch of  New Wave videos from the late seventies through the eighties that caught my attention when I was putting together something else. Each one has something going on and I just had to point them out. I have also taken the time to sprinkle goodies throughout this thing so have fun unearthing the many gems.

Electronic –  A  so called “super group” that included  Bernard Sumner from Joy Division and  New Order, along with Neil Tennant from The Pet Shop Boys, and the legendary Johnny Marr doing a song by the original super group, Blind Faith. This one is only audio.

Generation X -Kiss Me Deadly with great shots of the band before fame them turned them into assholes.

Generation X -A grimy, glam version of  Valley of The Dolls.  At this point they thought they were too cool.

The Damned – I Just Can’t Be Happy Today performed with ferocity, confidence, and vigor before a Finnish crowd in 1981.

The Damned – Disco Man

The DamnedGrimly Fiendish

Simple Minds -Sanctify Yourself at Wembley Stadium ’88. Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela!!!

Thompson Twins – A bubbly In The Name Of Love closes this 1983 Liverpool show.

FGTH -Two Tribes full length video.  Listen to the voice saying follow me.

FGTHWar. Wicked.

Wire Train –  A Bay Area “almost was”  performing their big hit which stands the test of time better than the VHS tape it was recorded on.

Wire Train – Live in Zurich 1986 performing Bowie‘s Rebel Rebel. This is some really random footage.

Please Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself

Growing up in The Bay Area, The Tubes were one of my favorite bands, and long before I ever became one myself, their song White Punks On Dope was anthemic for me. Back in the day, it wasn’t their over the top stage show which included; gigantic pills with legs, soft core porno cheerleaders, platform boots so high that KISS wouldn’t go near them, and a maniacal ring master who called himself Quay Lude, that compelled my adoration.

Music starts working its magic at your ear hole and if it doesn’t happen there, then all of the fake blood, and laser lights, and satin spandex in the world isn’t going to turn things around.  To this day, the bands that I really love make it happen with sound, and when they can add some wild theatrics to the mix, that’s just gravy.

By the time  I returned to the West Coast in the early nineties my buddies from high school had discovered The Grateful Dead. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the traveling circus that the Dead had become by that point, it is difficult to convey with words what these shows were like. The best way I can describe it is that they took rock and roll as far as it can go each and every night, and that those of us who were  lucky enough to have been there for the ride relished every damned minute of it.

At the Dead shows the audience wore the costumes and acted like fools, while onstage the boys in the band took the crowd on a ride that felt like sex on a roller coaster. Not only was everyone high at the shows, we were all high on the same batch of drugs. Jerry eventually died of a heart attack in a rehab center while trying to cure himself of his heroin addiction, but at those shows he played that music as though charged by God himself with the task.

Eventually I lost my mind and my innocence all in the same night at one of those shows. Knowledge is a tricky business, and I have spent the majority of my adult life yearning for the ignorance of my youth. Once something is known, it can never become unknown to you again and on one fateful night I learned that the old adage is true, you really cannot ever go back again.

Humans are stubborn, and as one, I have proved to be quite tenacious when desire wells up within me. It is not surprising that I continue to refer to  the blissfully mindless days of my youth as good old ones.  Thanks to you tube, nostalgic dalliance is right at our fingertips and wasting the day away remembering the moments that were has become an international pastime.

I suspect it would be a strange feeling to randomly encounter myself in a video of an event from my past that has long since been forgotten.  I know that it was pretty wild when my brother’s face filled my computer screen unexpectedly not long ago, causing me to leap excitedly up from my chair like a maniac before I called everyone in my family to validate the reach of our brave new world.

It turns out that Grateful Dead Parking Lot was filmed by a couple of guys named Chris Corsello, and Mike Patterson who lived on the same floor in the dorms over at Cal State Sacramento as my brother. Bill isn’t even the same guy anymore as the one who appears at 4:54 in the video wearing a tye dyed “Space Your Face” tee shirt that I had bought just prior to melting down, and that he inherited from me.

He has kids, and is a business man, and he likes guns and expensive tequila, and he is not going to be stoked about this post. Back then it was all duuuuuude, and sweeeet, and totally maaan. Nowadays the guy is all business and that’s the way it has to be when you have three kids and a mortgage.

Somebody said something about the penalty for not recollecting the past is that you are forced to repeat it over again.  Thanks to technology we are able to relive history on demand regardless of whether or not we can remember it, and sometimes those images from the past don’t jibe with what we have become.  We have created a situation where our past can return unannounced and sometimes the version that returns to us is the one that we wanted to forget.

,

The Only Thing They Have Is Fear Itself

“When you feel you have had it up to here, cause you mad enough to scream, and you sad enough to tear.” -from the song Rock Bottom by Eminem

Who didn’t see it coming? John McCain, a cagey twenty-six year veteran of Washington D.C. , is not afraid to go low. Last night he proved that, like an old school brawler who senses the end if he cannot catch his breath, he is a win at all cost kind of guy.

Short gasps audible through the microphone punctuated what Senator McCain had to say throughout the night, including when he tersely dismissed  Senator Obama as “that one”. Mr. Obama’s expression was a combination of offense, forgiveness, and a complete lack of surprise, exactly the way I imagine Jesus would look in the same situation.

Down talking to someone is a tricky business, but when an old white man is codescending toward a  bright, young black man, while being nationally televised on all three networks and the cable news channels, the going can prove especially perilous. A million years ago when McCain started his Washington career,  it may have been the norm to  polarize people along racial divides, but these days it does not fly in most places.

A girl that I knew back in California posted an video of some dudes who call themselves The Obama Youth on her facebook page, and declared that it was one of the most frightening things she had ever seen online.  In it some young black fellows, dressed in camoflage pants and matching navy blue tee shirts stomp/march into the room chanting “Alpha/Omega” before arranging themselves into an orderly line. One after another they declare that because of Obama they are inspired to be the next “doctor, lawyer, automotive technician,  chef, architect, engineer,” etc., you get the jist. At the end they all do a little yes we can cheer, combined with some synchronized movement, then a little cheer about health care, then it’s over.

Out on the campaign trail right now the GOP candidate and his running mate are whipping their conservative supporters up into a frenzy accusing Senator Obama of being a socialist who, “doesn’t see America”, as you and I do.  Over on Wall Street the market is sinking like a zeppelin made of lead and  Republican  champions of small government cannot print the money, to prop the economy up, fast enough.

Fear is a sublime motivator, but fear can also be misplaced and exploited, so that reality becomes less important than the preconceived notions that create our frame of reference. When we deny our fears it creates a mindset where hope can begin to take root and grow. Though fear has the ability to make people jump suddenly, hope can provide the motivation to endure the unspeakable.

Never in my lifetime has the choice been so clearly defined as we head into the polls. On the one hand I can vote because I am afraid of what will happen. On the other hand I can vote because of what I hope will happen.

Obamer!!!!

A. K. A. Lamont Cranston

I’ve got headaches and toothaches and bad times too, but on the upside I have life, for what it’s worth. Yesterday over ten thousand people in China had their existence cut short by a cataclysmic earthquake that took lives and buried the dead in one fell swoop. A little over a week ago, the nation of Burma was devastated by a cyclone that washed more than one hundred thousand lives out to sea with the tide. Ken McDunn had it right when, after the accident onboard the ship he got a tattoo that says; “The Shadow of Death, A Fact Of Life”.

 

Mc Dunn is one of a kind and we met in boot camp years ago.  He got there a day before I did and we served our entire enlistment together, assigned to the same school, and later the same ship. McDunn was skinny and pale and a real life skin head, whose buddies were all on trial for murder. On Sundays, the one day that we were allowed to look at a newspaper, he would point out the articles that recounted the trial of his fellow skinheads who eventually wound up in prison. When we met, Ken had no tats, but by the time we had served our two year enlistment with the USN, his upper body was nearly covered with ink.

 

Like myself, Ken was not happy with his decision to enlist and chafed at the lunacy that is characteristic within the armed forces. We were in a drill company in boot camp and as a result tobacco was forbidden. Ken’s parents would send him chewing tobacco in the bottom of a Pringles can that they had removed all the chips from before replacing them and resealing the can. We would volunteer for the overnight watches so that we could indulge our nicotine craving while everyone else was sleeping.

 

The store on base was restricted for recruits that were still in boot camp, but McDunn didn’t care and would strut right in there like he belonged and buy cigarettes for the both of us that we secretly smoked at any chance we could get. It was big risk for him to break the rules and it could have resulted in an extra week in boot camp, but Ken was a genuine iconoclast who believes that authority exists only to be challenged and usurped.

 

When we graduated from boot camp Ken and I had one mission; like many freshly minted recruits in the armed services, we struck out to find some whores. The working girls that we came upon were supremely sketchy and he took the fat one, while I got the skinny one. They took us back to their filthy, one bedroom apartment and Ken and his girl went into the back bedroom while my gum cracking wraith and I took our place on the fold out couch. I’ll never forget the bored expression that she looked up at me with while my pale, skinny ass bounced up and down like an over revved piston. All the while she kept popping her gum and saying, “Are you finished yet”. It turned out that the experience did not match our expectations that had been eight weeks in the making.

 

When the ship was out at sea Ken would do something that, to this day, I find hilarious. Being assigned to a ship meant that when we were away from port we were on duty 24/7 and there was no way to escape, but Ken found a way to get time off even when the ship was in the middle of the ocean. Periodically he would collect up some snacks and soda pop and a book and then he would vanish into one of the ships many vacant crawl spaces for days at a time.

 

The first couple of times that  he did this it caused quite a stir, inspiring man over board drills and panic within the ship’s hierarchy, but after a few days Ken would reappear, rested and ready resume his duties, albeit in a lackluster fashion. Of course he would be punished for his unauthorized absence, but he didn’t care, and I knew that he would do it again regardless. They always came to find me when Ken pulled one of his disappearing acts and I would always assure them that he was still onboard and would come back when he was ready, he just needed a little time off to get lost in a book.

 

Authority can always be countermanded so long as there is a will that contends, but the power of nature is undeniable. When the earth shakes so mercilessly that humans are crushed under their own toppled creations, or the ocean encroaches upon the land to drag the living into its abyss there is little resistance that can be offered. There is nowhere to hide when the shadow of death stretches its pall across a landscape.

 

So long as we are the living we can continue to escape the things that displease us and avoid situations that are unpleasant. Eventually though, a bony, outstretched finger will tap every single one of us on the shoulder with a summons, and there will be nowhere to run. Until then, enjoy what you still have; life.

 

Down For The Keebler Kind

When I turned the T.V. on at six a.m. last Monday morning the screen was filled with the dramatic live images of a multi home fire that transcended spectacular. Three homes on the so called “Street of Dreams” had been completely consumed by the magnificent flames that roared into the sky, a fourth was nearly gutted and the fifth failed to ignite, leaving a wealth of evidence for the ATF and FBI boys to cull through. Immediately I knew that the Northwest’s #1 homegrown eco-terror group the Earth Liberation Front had struck again.

Their name is a misnomer. Really they should call themselves the Arson Liberation Front, because the only thing set free by their actions are some wicked flames. Fires that are rivaled only by the ones that supposedly burn down in Hell’s incendiary pit. If in fact these guys really want to liberate the Earth from human oppression they need to take up arms and start killing people. No joke, ELF should grow a pair and make it happen for real. There are many whose actions and decisions, Nature herself might consider as a personal effrontery. Get with it ELF.

Arson is a passive aggressive crime. Arsonists sneak in during the night to avoid confrontation and any rational challenge to their flawed reasoning. Setting a home gloriously ablaze makes for great television, but is hardly the way to rally the public behind a cause. Of course overly zealous cops/prosecutors/judges, along with Patriot Act style lawmaking is really all of the reason needed to avoid getting snatched up by the mechanical claw of the Federal Judiciary System.

ELF members are even more illogical and self righteous than the typical, run of the mill, granola types who clutter up the Northwest. Unlike many who believe that their worldview is morally superior and who aggressively push their ideology, ELF members have determined that the path to societal change is not by challenging the status quo with logic and reason, instead they create stupendous burning effigies of the culture that they revile.

Down in Portland right now there is a 34 year old ELF member named Tre Arrow who is facing life in prison for torching a bunch of cement mixers. Such heavy handed prosecution could only come about in the post 9/11 world. This guy foolishly placed himself in the crosshairs of an overly zealous legal system with his stupid, stupid actions. Now any opportunity that he might have had to make the world a better place is slipping away, along with his freedom.

Burn down hundred’s of homes with sleeping families in them in a suburb somewhere and then I will begin to think about being impressed by the beautiful flames that the ELF creates. That day will never arrive, because The Earth Liberation Front is the kind of faux terrorist group would never be willing to stage an actual legitimate attack against the American culture. ELF members need to remind themselves that making war against people is how you quash ideas that are unacceptable, and that if you make war by burning empty, model homes, it seems to indicate displeasure with some aspect of real estate, perhaps a hatred for the actual homes themselves.

Just think what could actually be accomplished if America wakes to the headline “Thousands Gone In Overnight Fire Bombings, L.A. Suburbs On High Alert”. Crawls on CNN and MSNBC would announce: “President To Address Nation About Fire Bombings” and “Country On High Alert Against Eco Terror Threat”. If things went really well the cause might get its own special eco terror, color coded, threat level thermometer. It is up to ELF members, the so called renegades against the American dreams and ideals to really jiggle America’s Fear/Change Throttle. So much can be accomplished when people think you are as serious as a murder and if they know that you are as serious as a mass murder it could really help change their minds about respecting the environment.