October 30, 2010

The Whole "Voting Thing" Redux

Yeah, it's really effed up sometimes to watch a guy on TV and say, "Jeez, I voted for him?!".  Regular readers know that I am not dissatisfied with Obama because I didn't really expect much to begin with (though Guantanamo Bay isn't closed yet, is it?). But really, it's hard to vote, because you tend to feel responsible for the person you voted for, and that never turns out for the better if you have expectations that transcend the venal nature of American culture.

Going up to the '08 election I was blogging heavily on MySpace, and my annoyance with the election is well documented there. I did the "voting/not voting" thing before that election (if you go back to it, make sure to read the comments too), so I'm not going to go into any great detail again, but I will make a few points.

  1. The government in and of itself is never an active force for good.  You have to live a good life and hope that the good filters up.  How you live your life is infinitely more important than who you vote for or even voting at all.
  2. Given the fact that almost all candidates are nothing more than different colors on the same wheel, voting often seems pointless.  And, in many respects, it is.  But then again, so is recycling, and yet we do it.  If there is a chance of any net good in an action, no matter how minuscule, it is worth doing.  
  3. Voting does not make you any more complicit in your elected official's mistakes/bad faith/poor governance/crimes than you already are.  There are almost never any good choices even if there are less bad ones.  Just go for the less bad, and try to live to vote another day.
  4. Apropos #3, you are complicit in the mistakes/bad faith/poor governance/crimes even if you do not vote.  If you buy something, if you hold down a job, if you participate in our culture, then you are part of the system. Not voting does not give you a pass on the system's karma.
We must know, always, that we are striving for good.  We must know, always, that our efforts are doomed to fail.  We must, in the words of Samuel Beckett (via Slavoj Zizek) "try again.  Fail again.  Fail better."

October 26, 2010

A Knife In the Marathon

Stuck in my head, for reasons beyond me, are a couple songs from obscure early 80's Chicago punk band Breaking Circus.  From their first album:

An unidentified third world athlete
was wrestled to the ground by security,
he came up slashing
and was cut down like a dog
they said he had a

knife in the marathon (x8)

and with his gun on his shoulder
he said the only English words he knew:

I'll see you in hell.

And that was followed by:

The Imperial Clawmaster's statement of purpose and intent, PART ONE!
we intend to take the belt and we don't take prisoners
pay attention all you snot-nosed punks, we're gonna go for it
honk if you're horny! we've got a master plan and it GOES LIKE THIS:

______: DEAD!
______: DEAD!
______: DEAD!
______: DEAD!

stupid little zeros with the courage of a roller skate
we represent what YOU MOST FEAR!
7,941 undefeated amateur bouts, AND NOW WE'RE TURNIN' PRO!

______: DEAD!
______: DEAD!
______: DEAD!
______: DEAD!

______: DEAD!
______: DEAD!
______: DEAD!
______: DEAD!

The blanks are all people's names, and mostly unintelligible, but I think the very last line of the song is HEENAN: DEAD! which would refer to seventies pro wrestling bad guy Bobby Heenan, which would make sense since this is a pro wrestling anthem.

Great stuff.

Anyway, this little bastard has been sitting in the "pending" file long enough.  As always, add your playlists to comments.

In rotation:

Blues Control: Puff
Sir Richard Bishop: Knucklehead Freefall
Furlong/Anderson: split 7"
Rangda: False Flag
Anderson: XIII
Caroliner Rainbow Scrambled Egg Taken for a Wife: Banknotes, Dreams, and Signatures
The Residents: Intermission
Sun City Girls: Funeral Mariachi
Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation, A Thousand Leaves
Kurt Vile: Constant Hitmaker
Saint Vitus: Die Healing
DJ Spooky: Creation Rebel
Adeptive Radiation: Live on WNUR
Robert Ashley: Automatic Writing
Exceptor: Black Beach
Black Dice: Repo
Sick City 4: Down With American Drones!
Rolling Stones: playlist
Silver Pines: Forces
Von Bingen: Von Bingen
Various: What We Are Listening To 10/10 mix
Breaking Circus: The Very Long Fuse

October 25, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (1)

Ah, the smell of burning wood (2), the nip in the air (3), leaves crunching under foot, and the fall elections . . .


I've heard several friends talk about how much they love fall, and admittedly, there is a fuzzy, livable analog quality to a nice autumn day, like a good vintage tube-driven guitar amplifier, nice and clean and clear but with a warm singing edge.  But then . . . there is this election nonsense.  There's nothing more depressing than being reminded that you are surrounded by idiots. (4)

We must, as always, soldier on.

*          *          *          *          *

There is, as always, the hand wringing over negative campaign advertising that surfaces this time of year.  And always, there follows the media analysis piece that informs us that, as much as we may claim to hate negative campaign advertising, it is by far the most effective form of political ad.

Okay, yes, we get it.  Or, wait . . . no we don't.

You see, negative campaigning is not the problem.  On one hand, just think if advertising became a dual of fools hugging their wives (husbands) and kids (pets) superimposed over gently waving American flags: no better, is it?  Think of all the ads you've seen for judgeships, which (theoretically, at least) aren't supposed to take any public positions.  Can you imagine a bigger waste of the airwaves?

Let's look at one particular "negative attack" ad that is running here, in Kentucky's 3rd.  Our beloved Chamber of Commerce (5) is running an ad against incumbent John Yarmuth, one of those cheap ads with stills of Yarmuth and Nancy Pelosi in gray scale zooming in from the background, over all kinds of damning text, the primary point (in HUGE RED BLOCK LETTERS) that Yarmuth votes with the evil witch Pelosi 91% OF THE TIME!  

An attack ad?  Sure it is.  The whole strategy of the Republican establishment this year is to paint everyone with the Pelosi/Obama brush (6).  But really, assuming the percentages are correct (I haven't done the math, but there's no reason to doubt it), it is a completely fair "attack".  Yarmuth is forthright about his support and and admiration of Pelosi.  The ad, though simplistic and jingoistic, is not inaccurate or misleading (7).  If you've got a beef, you don't have a beef with the Chamber, you've got a beef with the whole Obama/Pelosi mush-mouth syndrome.

Negative campaigning is essential when establishing a politician in the public eye. Judicious negative campaigning, combined with a positive agenda for governance, is more than okay, it is essential.  How else does one differentiate oneself?

On the other hand, there is a wrong way to do it.  For that, let's turn to Tea Party Wunderkind Rand Paul and . . . no, wait, it's not Rand Paul being the idiot here, it's his opponent Jack Conway.  Over the course of the campaign, Conway has run ads

  • harping on Paul's idea that Medicare needs a $2000 deductible, which is a perfectly legitimate attack on Paul;
  • claiming that Paul wants a 23% sales tax, which is most likely accurate, but then conveniently leaves out the fact that Paul wants this to replace income tax, so it is not exactly an added tax burden (8);
  • chiding Paul for his non-Kentucky roots, which smells of hillbilly xenophobia;
  • exploiting an anonymous and undocumented (but believable) rumor of a prank from his college years in which he supposedly abducted a woman and made here worship the "aqua buddha", which, true or not, is a totally irrelevant and bullshit move.
There is so much that Paul could be attacked on, yet Conway decided to make like the cartoon politician and drag out the most ridiculous dirt he could lay his hands on (9).  I've known right wing rich boys like Paul, and I would bet my next paycheck that he was a sanctimonious dope smoking douchebag . . . hell, I'm not so sure I didn't go to school with a couple fistfulls of his doppelgangers . . . but the idea that somehow all this equates to the idea that Rand Paul was involved in "alternative religion" (nope - he was too vacuous to even imagine it on that level) or that he was critiquing Christianity (nope - he's too cowardly, unlike his namesake) is completely ridiculous.  And, on top of that, dealing with such blatant character assassination (accurate or not) simply puts Paul into the role of victim-writ-large, which is exactly how the "dispossessed" white people that make up the Tea Party feel.

Way to go, Jack.  Make it even easier for the shouts of "Barabbas!" to rock the heavens.

See, the problem is not "negative campaigning", the problem is with manipulation, lies and distortion.  It is a very important distinction to make: we don't need a politics of politeness, where everyone avoids the obvious problems in favor of asserting that "I'm a nice guy (gal) and true American!" . . . but we do need a politics that holds politicians accountable for their words and actions and the interactions between the two.

Ah, accountability . . .

Here in the real world, the phrase "lesser of two evils" unfortunately has a disheartening relevance to it.  And so: vote for a lying asshole or vote for Rand Paul. That is the predicament in which we here in the Commonwealth find ourselves.

Oh well . . . won't be the first time I vote for an idiot, and it probably won't be the last.

Next time: your humble author STEPS to Juan Williams, to find out if he crosses to the other side of the street when he sees me coming in my Hoosier garb.
(1)  I'm being all ironical and shit.  But, since I'm not a good enough writer to convey irony without the aid of an emoticon, and since I'll only use emoticons WHEN I'M DEAD, I'll just have to resort to footnotes.  Are ironic hyperlinks too esoteric?  ; )
(2)  Fort Knox is on fire.  I've heard it was someone is Muslim garb.
(3)  It was over 80 degrees today.  The 24th of October, and it was over 80 degrees.  And there was a hot wind.  Hot winds are rare enough around here during the summer, but October?  F@#k this shit, man.  And Fort Knox is on fire.  There are ashes falling down here.  It burns my throat.  And I've got a fever and a f@#king chest cold.  Just so you know (or miss my Facebook updates).
(4)  Not all of you, of course.  There are many human people.  But there are also the idiots.  Many, many, many, many, idiots.
(5)  Irony.  I don't love them.
(6)  Let's see, white woman, black man . . .
(7)  Actually, the Chamber really seems to be phoning it in on this one.  If you're going to pony up for a TV ad, make it stick . . . Yarmuth, though he votes along with the Democratic majority most of the time, is a fair pace to the left of the "liberal" Congressional Democrats.  It seems that the Chamber could have come up with an ad that announces in red block letters "EVEN MORE LIBERAL THAN OBAMA AND PELOSI!" and have plenty of sound bites to back it up.  And sure, Kentucky 3 is Louisville & Jefferson County, the only even remotely liberal area in Kentucky, but Republican toady Anne Northup managed to hold the seat for ten years before Yarmuth, so the seat is far from unassailable.
(8)  A sales tax is a big problem for the working class, but that's another discussion that has yet to take place & is a bit nuanced for a 30 second campaign spot.
(9)  Is it just me, or is that mainly a Southern thing?

October 21, 2010

How to Fix Football

Easy: no helmets, no pads.  Play American football in rugby gear.  If defensive players can feel the pain, they won't be able to turn themselves into human missiles. Lots more bruises, lots more contusions, infinitely fewer concussions, fewer ruined careers and lives.

I love football, but had I any children, I would probably forbid them from playing it. You are perhaps not as likely to die as you are in, say, auto racing, but it is becoming more and more likely that you will be sacrificing your brain and overall wellbeing to the sport.

October 10, 2010

Fall Festival


today summer broke
wave receding from the shore
Labor Day weekend
scouring summer's beach for what's left

clear friendly day
weightless day
you can breathe the air
and walk the sidewalks
          of Germantown uncluttered
          by shimmering waves
          and translucent

night settles in
beer & drinks on the porch
shyly, sound travels better now

re-tune to G
approaching clarity of age, nostalgia,
loss - but for now
welcome September


fall comes in a rabid jackal
hot winds sweeping
across foreshortened day

up Dixie Highway from Radcliff
in the armpit of Fort Knox
up past the fort itself
          limestone mass
          from scorched grass
          perimeters visible & invisible
          you can't sneak up on it
not for all the gold . . .

brush the river
girls! girls! girls!
Rivergirls, Red Door, Syn Den
south end strippers
one lone chopper out front
and the heat banging on -

             in the end
what wears you down, as much as heat,
is the roar of wind & machines
           to cut the heat


today was shorter than yesterday
tomorrow will be shorter than today
and it will be that way
for a little while

once again in heat
that requires three digit explanation
the expansion of dark
doesn't dawn on consciousness
just looking to breathe free

but already
at the back of my mind
longing for the lengthening day
for another spot on the wheel
St. Paddy's Day, Easter
pitchers and catchers report
Thunder, Derby

dreaming of the last snow
before the first flakes fly

October 9, 2010

Olympia Snowe, Right Wing Operative

"Can't we all just get along?"

Olympia Snowe is cast by the Right as the archetypal RINO - Republican in name only.  Yet, it's people like Snowe, and DINOs like Evan Bayh, the supposedly "sensible center", that are really cementing the gains made by the Right since the days of Ronald Reagan.

At issue is not Snowe's various political stances, and she should be commended for at least appearing to buck the party lines when she thinks it's necessary.  No, the real issue is the idea - found anywhere from Sam Waterston's Unity08 movement to the petty excuses blubbering from Bayh's lips to even The Daily Show - that somehow the polarization in American politics can be blamed on the Left as well as the Right . . . or, as Senator Snowe puts it, "the red states are getting redder and the blue states are getting bluer". 

That is simply not the case.  America is a right wing nation.

I'm not going to get into the machinations of Mitch McConnell here: politics is politics, and Mitch is a master manipulator.  The swing to the right is about more than politics, it's about culture.  McConnell represents a specific set of political skills, Rand Paul represents a world view.  And that world view is right wing.

If there really were the Right/Left equivalence in American politics suggested by the "sensible center", then where are the left-wing analogues of Paul, Palin, Angle, O'Donnell, Bachman, et. al.?  Don't talk to me about Barney Frank, Dennis Kucinich, Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, Russ Feingold, or any of the Congressional Left.  If we want true counterparts to the Tea Party patriots, then we need to be running people who not only think that "big government" has a purpose, who may even go so far as to support national health care (Kucinich; anyone else?), we need candidates who question the very value of private property and the individual versus the collective, among other things.  We need candidates who aren't afraid to quote Marx and Lenin.  We need people we can point to and say "you think Obama is a commie?  Obama's not even really a liberal; now there's a communist!"

And it's not the polarization that's killing the American dialogue.  It's not even the vitriol.  It's the stupidity.

I have theoretical problems with Libertarians, but I have very concrete problems with those who claim to be Libertarians but still want the government all up in someone else's business, just not theirs . . . for example, you can be a Libertarian and a social conservative, but you must know that any laws codifying social conservatism are anti-libertarian (Ron Paul revealed his own Libertarianism as a lie when he caved on the gay marriage issue*).  And hey, if you are hating on the bailout and stimulus package from the laissez-faire capitalist angle, then shut the hell up about the unemployment rate.  That's just the system cleaning itself out.

I could (and often do) go on.  But, even if I am arguing the point from an obvious political position, the argument I'm making is not a directly political one.

The point is that our very speech has been bent into uselessness.  Our words and phrases mean nothing because they have no fidelity to a real idea: they are masks designed to slot into public conversations in a specific way to affect a specific reaction.  Our words and phrases do not reveal, they obfuscate.  If we are getting dumber (and I believe we are), it is because language is at the core of thought, and our language has been beaten into a dull, rusty blade.

Here, again, is that anathema to thought we call "common sense": Snowe's contention that the polarization of the right and left is to blame for the devolution of discourse in this country is common, but not true.  Any phrase or masked idea becomes common simply from repetition.  At some point, depending on who's driving the train, it moves from simply being common to common sense . . . Große Lüge, Hitler's "Big Lie", or, per Goebbels, "one should lie big and stick with it", which we can modify to read  "say anything often enough and loud enough, sooner or later it becomes commonly accepted as fact."  Common sense is like that.

 Again, no specific beef with Olympia Snowe, given that even John Stewart makes concessions to the "polarization" conceit**, but it is exactly at this point where the Right has had its biggest cultural success since 1980.  In that sense, Olympia Snowe is a much more effective champion of the right than Rand Paul ever will be.

He could have dodged the whole issue by saying that the government has no business endorsing any kind of marriage, hetero or homo, but he didn't.  He came out squarely against gay marriage.  I think at some point he tossed out some "states rights" bullshit, but decentralized government is not the same as small government (just look at California).  Libertarianism betrays itself if it cannot protect its citizens against the tyranny of the majority.  Of course, at the core of the issue is what Libertarianism can do . . . and the most convincing argument is that a Libertarian government can't do anything, and that's the way its supposed to be.  Do you think all the American Right, with all of its current angry demands, wants a government that does nothing?  Of course not.  They want a government that keeps out illegal aliens, restricts abortion, is tough on crime, keeps us safe from terrorists, cleans up our (whoops!  the petrochemical companies') spills, keeps Muslims from building, etc.  These people aren't Libertarians, they don't want small government, they want government to do what they want it to do and nothing else.
**  When trying to set a polarized equivalence, Stewart always seems to resort to 9/11 conspiracy theory for his example of left-wing extremism.  I think if he were called on it, he would probably say that 9/11 conspiracy is not a right or a left issue in the same way that Illuminati/Trilateral conspiracy is not a left or a right issue, and he would be right.  It's just a bit frustrating that he concedes to this fake parallelism when I don't think he really buys into it.

October 8, 2010

The Tea Party's Economic Recovery (Already in Progress)

Good news, teabagger!  Your perfect economic recovery is already underway! 

According to the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the September job numbers show a net loss of 95,000 non-farm jobs for September, with the jobless rate holding steady at 9.6%.  How is this good news, you say? 

Well, the private sector actually added 64,000 jobs, while the public sector lost 159,000 jobs . . . which means the number of those suckling the government teat is shrinking, while those bootstrappers out there humpin' it for the good of pure capital is actually growing.  Let's let out a war whoop of celebration!* 

This is so perfect for the Tea Party that Karl Rove couldn't have designed it better if he tried.  In addition to the continued shrinkage of the hated public sector, in addition to the expansion of the private sector (however modest), the unemployment rate remains at a high level . . . all that the average American hears is that the unemployment rate is 9.6%, and the discussion's over.  The economy sucks, and the guy in charge is doing a lousy job.

The right doesn't have to worry about anyone giving credit to Obama for the expansion of jobs in the private sector, because even the people who would parse the more subtle points of the numbers are going to either be upset about the public sector job loss and blame Obama, or they will be happy about the public sector job loss but never be willing to give Obama credit on anything to begin with.

Meanwhile, expert after expert continues to point out that corporate liquidity is growing in the US, but job growth is not keeping pace.  In other words, everyone is lamenting the weak labor market, but not really calling out the people who have the means to fix it (that would be corporate America, in case you're missing the point).  There is money in the economy, it's just under the asses of corporations, who are "sitting on it", as they say.

I will once again repeat that I believe presidents/administrations get too much credit and/or blame when it comes to the economy.  I also don't fully blame corporations who sit on their money in uncertain economic times, although it's really starting to take on a "if you don't do things my way, I'm gonna take my ball and go home" sort of feel to it. I'm not even joining in the "can't we all just get along" choruses of moderate public discourse . . . all I'm asking is a bit of principled ideology and rhetoric in the public sphere.

Apparently, that is much too much to expect.

*          *          *          *          *

In related news, the Dow Jones Industrial index rose 57.90 points (.5%) to close above the 11,000 level (11,006.48) for the first time since May.  All other major stock indices finished up for the day as well.

Speculation about the gains centers around today's announced job numbers: it seems they were bad enough that Wall Street expects the Fed to intervene and continue to sweeten the pot, but not bad enough that unemployment will do any real damage to the economy, which is recovering much less slowly for those at the top of the economic scale than it is for those at the bottom.

This is all so wrong I don't know where to start . . . so I won't.  Not now, at least.
Fun fact that you may have forgotten: many of the participants in the original Boston Tea Party disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians.  In case you were wondering, this was not a tribute to the integrity and free spirit of the American Indian.

October 3, 2010

Summertime Blues

Whee haw! The new Blogger editor will allow the typographic stunts in my poems! Below are some more poems from the summer we just closed out.


your trumpet loop refuses to fade
an annoying bit of immortality
twisting lopsided
into the dark beyond the window -

one hears of tropical violence
violence in shimmering white concrete jungles
or on the banks of brackish creeks
  run low and dry
machetes hacking limbs
nines & AKs hosing down old storefronts
shotguns and shovels
loamy soil back in the pines -

the trumpet clicks on in the dark
the projector's broken
the film's skipping it's sprockets

          - but the present will not be
by a broken trumpet
and misaligned shards of memory


"old rust" breathes cold with
   a shudder and a roar
mariachi & electrical pop

it's a rockabilly night
a knife blade
shakin' down
horns & yodels at cross purpose
          define the dark
                    other side of streaked glass
           air conditioned night,
        mare -

sure, it's a retreat
sometimes you gotta cocoon
         without expecting to turn
you live
to another brown day

a blade rattles against the neck
steel drift fade out vaporizes


this summer's been tuned to E
but played slow, broken, & incomplete
verses can't latch onto choruses
choruses drift off into nothing
   split through with
   metallic tastes and cramped styles

broken, sprung
wrong in ways definite & imprecise both
just wrong -

a dream of gray-green fever
which burns, leaden,
but doesn't consume
& all the air conditioners
rusty and toiling
won't take the edge off this
broken tango
this three part invention in E
which never lives, never blooms into its nature
but will not quit


it's good to get out of the heat
cold windy sun
clouds sprint by the opposite bank
as clear, clearer than day

giants walk the earth
clouds the beards of
         weather systems
things larger than
   specks human
   politics forgotten
a weather system wipes you out
brushes you off the globe
you may care, like the spider crushed cares

hunker down, sun's down now
water foam waves
branches spearing leaves white against the wind
tucked down just out of the wind
close, but safe


hello, then!
the grass grows thinner, browns out
sandy, sandy pine
gone white
clarity in the air

who knows
what runs in the clear pines
"Take to the mountains," he said,
"if the government is a problem.
Make them come get you
& then shoot down on them
from high rocks."
          not the same, perhaps
but mixed oak, maple, birch
provide cover

white nation, white nation
curtain drawn, it's here
it's down the street
"no one gets my gun"


hey peacekeeper!
what'cha packin'?
           Ford F-250!
           big-ass knobby tires!
keeping America
for bumper stickers and petulance

behind every bush these days
"it's not you, it's
          the bosses"
but at what point
is imperialism? at what point
blood sacrifice
to a V-8
and the right to
live life unexamined

semper fi,
blade of capital -
when do you take the blame?

October 1, 2010

Avoiding the Politicians and Exploring the Depths

Yeah, I'm bored. Let's pull out some old records. These are all from my teen years:

Got this when it first came out. I got 2112 first. At the time, it was a choice between this and Song Remains the Same. Rush and Led Zeppelin were two of my favorite bands. Zep was my absolute favorite, but for some reason, I bought All the Worlds a Stage first. I'm glad I did - I still infinitely prefer this to Song Remains the Same.

This is one noisy sucker. This record has a raw edge you wouldn't expect of the band that first hit with "Tom Sawyer" . . . Geddy Lee yelping breathlessly over sheets of Alex Lifeson guitar noise. Neil Peart? In the back, where he belongs.

Rock "By-tor & the Snow Dog" to feel the power.

Great, great Neon Park cover. Vastly underrated album.

This was the last blast of the great original Mothers lineup, and was actually released after the lineup was dissolved. Taken with companion volume Burnt Weeny Sandwich, it's like a clarified distillation of Uncle Meat, my favorite Zappa album. Modern composition runs headlong into free jazz which runs into R & B which runs into early Zappa satire which is topped off by straight up noise . . . top notch stuff, friends.

By the next album, Chunga's Revenge, the decline was already well under way. With Flo & Eddie from the Turtles on board to notch up the obnoxious musical comedy quotient of the routine, Zappa was on a slide that would end up with such atrocities as Man from Utopia and Thing Fish. And yeah, I know that sprechstimme is a hoity-toity musical form exercised by tony folk such as Arnold Schoenberg, but it sucks when Zappa does it. The seventies jazz fusion I can live with, but that's about it.

"My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama" is a popular number from this album, as is swank instrumental "Orange County Lumber Truck", but the album as a whole is a gas.

Can I even tell you anything about this album? Hasn't this already been cemented into your DNA, rocker?

Band of Gypsys is not anybody's entry into Hendrix, not with all those great early songs (he gets credit for changing the sound of guitar, but he should get more credit for changing the sound of radio), but if you're really paying attention, this is where you end up. Most all of the proper album releases from Hendrix range from incredible to staggering, with Electric Ladyland being another personal favorite, but it's this album that still remains the strongest, even with its (relatively speaking) throwaway B-side.

As a matter of fact, I don't think recorded music gets much better than the sustained intensity of "Who Knows" and "Machine Gun", the latter being the pinnacle of Hendrix's work, in my opinion. The depth of musicality and the exploratory reach in these two songs will always stand as signposts to what could have been.

Oddly enough, this album, originally released on Capitol, was meant to be nothing more than the old "contractual obligation" filler: Hendrix had signed a contract which had been forgotten until his success with Warner Brothers, and while Hendrix was sensitive to the quality of anything coming out under his name, he also didn't want to spend much time with it, nor did he want to give away too many of his new songs. This concert was at the Filmore East around New Years 69/70, and it was the debut of this lineup (featuring Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums). In spite of the quality of the album and the place of "Machine Gun" in the Hendrix cannon, this record has always been the redheaded stepchild of his discography, and has had a spotty release history as a result. It has since been replaced by 1999's Live at the Filmore East though, if memory serves, the version of "Who Knows" is replaced by a shorter version from another show.

I have spelunked bootlegs of the complete Fillmore shows, and there is a lot of great stuff there, along with a bit more filler than I expected. You have to remember, though, it was a new band. And that band is responsible for possibly the greatest 20 or so minutes in rock history.

Oh yeah, I'll put this up against trendy junkie-rock like the New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders any day. Not that those guys had the bad taste to do something as heinous as a remake of "Big Ten Inch Record", but neither could they develop the ferocity and velocity to do something like "Sweet Emotion" or the title track. Rawk!

You ever see that early video of the James Gang doing "Walk Away" live? No? Well, here it is:

Freaking incredible. I saw this first in the early days of MTV, when it was mostly silly mini-movies or lip-synced live performances. Really tells you all you need to know about the James Gang.

As lame as Joe Walsh's solo career has been, and as much as an atrocity as the Eagles are, it's easy to forget what a badass he once was.

* * * * *

Well, you pretty much get the idea. Pretty standard fare for a Midwestern teenager in the seventies. There was a lot of other stuff, like The Who, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, Pink Floyd, etc., along with stuff I still listen to a bunch, like the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Rory Gallagher, Captain Beefheart, and so on. Just so you don't think I've completely fallen into a well of nostalgia, I have posted a review of a brand new record on this site.

Until next time, stay safe, think for yourself, and remember: everybody is wrong about everything.