Johnny Angel Wendell

Republicans are just plain daft, part 2


One of the most prosaic lines in film history is in 1974’s Godfather II. When Vito Corleone (Robert DeNiro) is asked by Peter Clemenza (Bruno Kirby) if he checked out the package of oily guns Clemenza had left him as the NYPD was hauling Clemenza away, Corleone replies coolly that “I’m not interested in things that don’t concern me”.

At that point, we realize that the future Don was not a Republican.

Today’s GOPster clown cultist is obsessed with things that do not concern them. Embryos and fetuses germinating in women they’ve never met. Same sex couples marrying thousands of miles from them. The well-being of the same plutocracy that do not pay them the same mind back in the least.

Conversely, when it is things that do concern them–Gulf oil spills, rising seas, warrantless searches of emails and phone calls, endless wars—oddly indifferent.

When someone prioritizes the irrelevant over the important, what else can one say?

They’re fucking daft.

Ultimate solution


What would happen if all Americans simply paid cash for everything?

Can’t afford it, don’t buy it. And always pay cash for all day to day items so that your purchases do not go into a database.

You say you have had it with a power structure that puts you in debt and tracks your every move? And you don’t wanna go through your life with a hook in your mouth and obligated to remain at a soul-starving day job you despise.

This would do it, wouldn’t it? Of course, if you’re happy being in hock, wage-slaving and a marketer’s dream, carry on, by all means.

Tale of two cities


Interesting piece in the LA Times a few days ago, Our new mayor, Eric Garcetti, wants to bring raves back to Los Angeles. After the death of a 15 year old that snuck into the Electric Daisy Carnival event at the Coliseum, the raves have gone to Vegas, where they’re pulling in 100K in attendance. The mayor sees dollar signs in those numbers, not to mention OT for city employees that have been hurting the last five years from budget cuts. A sensible idea.

It got me to thinking, as these things do, about a more general policy of bringing lucrative businesses and events to LA. After all, downtown business rents are cheaper than New York or Tokyo and there is far more space here as well. The city’s soon to be highest high rise will be a Korean owned hotel, so LA has already demonstrated a cooperation with Asian interests that cannot be matched. Not by New York or any other American city, even those on the West Coast. Like Seattle, Portland or erm, San Francisco.

If Garcetti and the city council decided to offer up better deals for high-tech than exist 390 miles to the Northwest, there is precious little Mayor Lee could do to match. LA has a lot more money and of greater importance, much more space. 49 square miles cannot compete with 480 square miles. And with the Internet making high tech jobs doable anywhere, why wouldn’t tech start ups decide to opt for LA?

Let’s face it, San Francisco has priced itself right off the grid. For all of Mayor Lee’s tax incentives, the city is incredibly expensive to rent or buy in. It is still possible to find a decent 1 BR in Silver Lake or Eagle Rock or Highland Park for under 1200 a month–where is that in SF, Bayview (if at all)? And no 82K parking spaces or multi million dollar Manhattan sized condos either–for 3 million bucks, you can buy a reasonable property in the West Side’s swankest hoods–what does that get you in Pacific Heights?

LA is a very expensive city to live in by dint of car ownership as necessity and driving distances. It’s also nowhere near as pretty as San Francisco is. But as SF approaches Tokyo-like exclusivity, it would take very little to pry high tech firms south–where it’s always warm, the beaches and ski resorts both near and best of all–the entertainment business and its attendant pleasures and power are nearby. 

Let’s face it, SF has screwed up–their biggest business for eons is tourism and that would never change were the city not so insistant on wrecking same with crack downs on clubs and “1984”-like scare tactics. Los Angeles–with its money and power can offer incentives that Mr. Lee and his cromies could only dream of–and with a forward thinker like Garcetti at the wheel, this may be inevitable.




Happy Father’s Day! Be good to your dad (assuming he’s alive/you know who he is) and enjoy your kids (assuming you have any/know who they are).

A remarkable story crossed my monitor this week. From back in the sacred Motherland of Massachusetts. Apparently, a pair of tandem parking spaces were auctioned off behind a toney Commonwealth Ave (Boston) condo for a whopping 560K–they’re shown in the photo. That’s over a half a million dollars in prime real estate yer gazing at.

Bid up from a sort of reasonable 42K and sold to a party that allegedly owns three spaces there already, this is the kind of story that makes one’s eyes glaze over in amazement. As primo as the location is, that tiny and stained bit of asphalt you’re looking at is not worth that price under any circumstances.

As that part of Boston is tightly zoned, it isn’t like it was bought to expand a brownstone. Nope, this is conspicuous consumption run completely amok or as a friend of mine back there put it, ”this could only have happened to people for whom money has no meaning”. (I suspect that the purchase was made as a “business expense” for a corporation, more to be revealed).

For 560 grand, you can still buy a modest home in Boston’s most desirable suburbs (all of which have better public schools than Boston and are cleaner and not plagued with unbearable traffic). And the property is but ten minutes on foot from downtown and the business district, cabs and car services are plentiful, therefore, why bother? As a possible long term investment? (Not a great idea as you will see).

This neighborhood, the Back Bay, was the first place I had my own digs. Adjusted for inflation, that apartment should go for about 420.00. It is now a million dollar and up condo and what was it? One gigantic room, likely the dining room of a three story home back in the 1800’s. And I still have friends in that neighborhood. Tellingly, all of them have been there at least 25 years and they could never afford it now.

By pricing all but the top of the top out of what once was an artist friendly neighborhood, the same neighborhood has the ripple effect of driving real estate values in adjacent neighborhoods past reason. Boston and San Francisco–joined at the hip by being the satellite cities to America’s twin powerhouses–are now unaffordable. 

A piece in the same paper that ran this story last year said it all. People aged 35-54 –which used to be an enormous demographic in Boston–no longer live there in large numbers. After university they just up and go because first jobs don’t pay enough to raise the scratch for a down payment. When a slab of concrete not even big enough to be a bedroom in a rooming house goes for 560K, it says that “what the market will bear” is not applicable.

This isn’t “free market capitalism”, it’s “crapitalism”. The laws of supply and demand have been so perverted by so few having so much, they almost don’t apply anymore. And my beautiful hometown–once a funky seaport with the best local music scene outside CB’s/Max’s–is now an overly exclusive playpen for folks that have brought back the Brahmin Age, only on ‘roids. Same as in SF—two small peninsulas whose essential character is being clobbered by venal plutocrats. Crapitalism couldn’t exist without tacit aid from the government–in SF, it’s in the form of tax breaks, in Boston, tax free academia is swallowing their city whole, reducing the amount of living units and artificially raising land value. That isn’t “supply and demand”.

The utlimate irony of this ridiculous transaction is that the Back Bay, like the Marina, is atop a landfill. The Charles River already overflows its banks and floods the basements of these expensive edifices more than it used to–so the parking spaces in question may be useless a fair amount of the time (of course, crapitalism being what it is, MA taxpayers will surely be stuck for the bill of seawalls and the like).

Bailouts, cronyism, loopholes–instead of an economic boom, we have Marie Antoinette style madness in our major cities. Pretty pitiful.


Jerry Garcia Street


This spring, me and the missus brought our kids up to the City from LA for the first time, via Big Sur, Monterey and Santa Cruz. It was our best family trip ever–wild turkeys and great hikes in the Sur, hanging on the boardwalk in Cruz and finally, SF. Stayed a few nights in Japantown, climbed Mt Tam, watched the fog envelope the Golden Gate–touristy stuff (I passed on the cable cars, however–they loved them).

Naturally, we had to show our children where we once lived and as we’d been up to Twin Peaks already, the Haight was nice and easy. Plus, I had to make a stop at Amoeba to consign some music.

Our old neighborhood has changed since the middle 90’s, but mostly in subtle ways. Still a bunch of panhandlers about (carrying banjos and ukes now as opposed to guitars), the wonderful Pork Store and the panhandle itself. The biggest change is the proliferation of parents–I don’t recall many strollers back in the Clinton era, but there was much pram pushing down Haight Street (sorry, Mick) all the same. Saw lots of that in SoMa parks, too–kiddie city.

When I was dropping off the discs at Amoeba, me and the counterman started jawing about the changes underway and he shocked me by saying that a great deal of the shop’s foot traffic was tourist based. People that came up to that neck of the woods solely for the history. And I got to thinking and I wondered–why is there almost nothing named after the area’s most famous export and certainly its magnet, John Jerome “Jerry” Garcia?

The Dead and their compatriots made this little corner of SF the most famous place in the world for a spell and yet very little commemorates the fact. That they carried on for 28 years past the “summer of love” spreading their loping groove around the world means that the rest of the world (a lot of it) comes to SF to try and absorb a little of that long gone good feeling. In other words, more tourism and more business.

I wonder, wouldn’t it be something if upper Haight Street–from Divisidero to the terminus at Golden Gate Park (I would say Cala Foods, but that too is gone) be renamed “Jerry Garcia Boulevard?” If Army Street can become Cesar Chavez, why not? 

And please spare me the incoming crapola about “honoring junkies”. Garcia’s personal habits have nothing to do with his work and the idea that he represented the “corruption of youth” gives someone that eschewed being a role model way too much power. 

There’s already a “Joey Ramone Place” in the Bowery in NYC. As there should be. It’s high time (no pun) that San Francisco did the same for the creator of its underground scene as well. 


The Return of the Replacements


Word from somewhere outta the Midwest is that the Replacements–in many ways the quintessential American indie band–are reuniting for a trio of festival shows. In Denver, Chicago and Toronto. Whether or not the band will add more dates is uncertain, as is the band’s lineup. The band’s best known living principals, Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson are on board. Their last lead guitar player, Slim Dunlap suffered a stroke and is unable to play, drummer Chris Mars is now a fine artist and may be unwilling to play (their notorious feuds ended when they recorded tracks to raise cash for Dunlap). 

Their evolution as a band, detailed in Michael Azzerad’s wonderful tome Our Band Could be Your Life is almost the story of Amerindie itself. Beginning on a tiny Minneapolis independant label Twin Tone as a not really hardcore at all band that played the same circuit as their city mates Husker Du, the Replacements 1984 album Let It Be ranks with any of the great classic blues based rock discs ever made–without any hint of the blues. Signing with Warner Brothers in the wake of the masterpiece, they continued to their evolution into more cerebral roots music. Perched between the underground that birthed them and the commercial success that eluded them, they called it a day 22 years ago.

Whether or not their motives for returning are financial (bassist Stinson has made a good living as Duff McKagan’s “replacement” in Guns N Roses) or artistic (they ain’t sayin’), it is unlikely that they will play enormous festivals with the same shambling, shit-faced style that they were notorious for in the 80’s. Prone to being barely vertical, playing whatever songs came to Westerberg’s pickled cerebellum, from bubblegum oldies to metal, their gigs weren’t even uneven, they were almost upside down–unlike most of their fans from that era, I didn’t really dig the drunken stumble-bunny schtick because I loved their songs. 

I hope they’ll stick to them, from all of their discs and I guess I hope they come to California as well (by way of semi-disclaimer, Stinson and I are former bandmates in a short-lived “punk cover band” called Strap On Baster). At their peak, they were the open and honest bards of the dark ages known as the middle 80’s, at their nadir, comatose. Let’s hope for the former and not the latter from these truly American originals.   

Another victory for the champions of the “unborn”


In a grand piece of political theater, Wisconsin Republicans passed a measure 17-15 in their senate that would require an ultrasound prior to an abortion. “Theater” because they had the votes already and because it gave them the chance to grandstand “passionately” about this particularly ridiculous law (the idea being that if the uninformed baby vessel got to see what she was killing, no abortions–like she didn’t know what she was doing and wandered into a clinic looking for a bagel and cream cheese and walked out sans fetus).

Or maybe that the idea being that if you make the already ugly and gruesome abortion procedure into a humiliating, painful, degrading and drawn out marathon of misery, the wimmens will be less likely to “kill their babies”. 

OK. That does make sense in its way. But…….

The male half of these pregnancies don’t seem to have a parallel punishment. Why is that? Why not a law that requires that a physician stick a biopsy needle down the ureter to let the “offending party feel the pain of a baby’s death?”

Makes sense to me.



NSA surveillance scandal goes full tilt clown


The domestic eavesdropping scandal is now entering week three in the news (it’s existed for real a lot longer) and as these things tend to do, the political posturing is headed into Clownland.

Yesterday, Congressman Peter King (R-NY) demanded that UK Guardian journalist (and attorney) Glenn Greenwald be arrested. Not because of anything Greenwald has done, but because Greenwald is threatening to expose CIA assets around the world (Greenwald denies this). Odd that a lawmaker wouldn’t be able to make this distinction and even odder that when a CIA asset was actually exposed in rhe last decade (by an employee of the Bush Administration), King wasn’t this vociferous.Greenwald, fairly consistent on the matter of civil liberties, is a pretty bright guy and snarkily responded that King’s newfound enthusiasm for prosecuting terrorists is somewhat of a joke. King has been a long time supporter of the IRA. You’d think that as a congressman whose Long Island district was impacted hard by 9/11 would be fairly tough on domestic terror, but it hasn’t hurt King electorally at all.

For two reasons. One is the obvious one–The IRA’s membership does bear a strong physical resemblance to King’s constituency, ie, both white and not Muslim, ergo, not terrorists. The second is that the IRA doesn’t bomb New York. London, yes, Manhattan, no. In fact, the US has been a source of IRA cash, donated by people that don’t see the group as terrorists.

Roll that over in your head. The US doesn’t meddle in the affairs of Northern Ireland by planting military bases there (there has been a slight flap over the use of Irish airports for US military purposes). Mostly, American involvement has been muted and even handed, especially in the late 90’s. Therefore the IRA has never attacked the US. Which wouldn’t be all that difficult, given the huge number of Irish-Americans and the ease that an IRA asset or two could fit in.

Because the US doesn’t militarily meddle in Ireland’s affairs, The IRA has no interest in America. 

Perhaps if the same philosophy extended to the Middle East, eh? Nah, better that the clown show go into overdrive, right?





One of the more hilarious aspects of the back and forth in “Mr Redmond’s Cyber Playpen” is the inevitable scream from Redmond’s adversaries of “envy” every time Redmond posts anything critical of SF’s moneyed class. Imputing motive into why someone says something as a way of derailing a discussion is old hat as is. Who cares why something is written, it’s there, debate its merits. But the automatic assumption that Redmond’s bitterness over his failure in business leads him to muck-rake isn’t even asinine, it’s borderline demented.

As Redmond (and I) came from a relatively privileged background and yet voluntarily chose a profession where getting rich isn’t part of the reward at all, why would we envy those whose ranks we could easily have joined? Journalism, even when print media was thriving, isn’t lucrative. Neither is music/radio work. I can’t speak for him, but as someone that actually turned down a career in brokerage to play rock and roll, accumulating money didn’t seem anywhere near as gratifying. As Earl Butz pointed out many years ago, there are more important things in life.

An investigative reporter in any major city is gonna find lots and lots of sweetheart deals between City Hall and developers or landlords or any business interest. And would be remiss to not report them. It’s part of the gig they love. And lordy be, giving voice to people that don’t have one is satisfying if not fiscally rewarding. Claiming that Redmond must be envious of people he has nothing in common with is like claiming a gay man would envy the straight guy with the beautiful woman on his arm–she isn’t something he’d ever want, so it would never occur to him to be envious.

No, trollsky’s, the “envy of the rich” doesn’t come from Tim, Marke, Steve or I–but from you. All day every day planted on the lefty website hurling puerile broadsides like a cafeteria food fight–the idea that the rich and their government enablers are skeevy enrages you, because you wish so desperately to be part of a group of people that have no need for you (and recognizing that you’re a peon is too painful to accept). How dare anyone knock the people that are living YOUR dream? 

Hate to say it, but this is classic projection, or in layman’s terms “if you spot it, you got it”. Screaming “you’re jealous” at someone else when the big green globs of same are rolling off your brow like algae-laden sweat. It can be sort of funny in a pitiful manner at first but it’s gotten tedious–the hand that has the finger pointing outward has four pointing back at you. Next time you feel the urge to project, take four quarters off mama’s dresser and buy a lottery ticket. It’s healthier. 

Explaining Osama and 9/11


My oldest son just graduated elemetary school and so my wife and I gave him an IPad as gift. He loves the thing. Unlike his gadget n geegaw loathing father, he takes to that stuff with a vengeance.

As an internet scouring curiosity-laden child, he’s gotta be watched carefully. Sometimes he finds “acceptable” videos on YouTube that scare him, however. Today he saw for the first time the footage of the World Trade Center being hit by plane and collapsing on September 11th, 2001. I was on an errand when his mother called me and told me how upset he’d been, seeing the people jump hand in hand to their deaths. 

When I returned home, I explained to him what had happened. And why New York had been attacked and how it had affected our family directly (his uncle’s boss was flown into the towers killing her). I explained to him that human beings were capable of incredible cold blooded cruelty but also kindness and love. He still wanted to know why Bin Laden had planned and executed the attacks and I replied that the motive may have been to force American troops off the holy Saudi soil or maybe that as a former CIA employee, he’d been stiffed for cash. We don’t really know.

What I do figure, I explained to him, is that Bin Laden had a history of being part of suckering Western powers into unwinnable wars. By knocking down the World Trade Center, America would be dragged into a bloody morass like the Red Army was and we’d collapse like the USSR did. And then something hit me that I’d never thought of.

When Bin Laden was laying out this grand scheme of destruction, how come no one ever said anything like “well, it’s true that the Americans are infidels, dude–but this retaliation of theirs that you’re hoping for? That’s gonna be thousands and thousands of our people that get snuffed in a war that really doesn’t have to take place. Like, they may be imperialistic whatevers, man, but this provocation means lots of dead civilians, kids. That’s not really a great idea–got anything else?”

Of course that never happened and not because of Islamofascism or whatever other completely human trait is laid on one group of people as opposed to all of them. It never seems to keep the Bin Laden’s of the world up at night that they’re responsible for death and carnage nor does anyone ever tell them that this isn’t heroism or martyrdom but murder. 

So I explained this to my boy and he nodded by way of “OK, dad–cool”. I dunno if it sank in but if I ever get word back that he walked away from a fight because he knew it never leads to anything but pain, that’s a job well done.


Distance and racism


Right now, I’m approximately 116 miles from the Mexican border.

When I was growing up, I was 1600 miles from the same border. I was in Boston–I had a discussion today with some musicians from Boston that are “alarmed” at “the end of America” because of “amnesty”. When I pointed out that in the last 24 years, LA had become more “Latino” (I sussed out that the issue wasn’t illegal immigration as it never really is, when they started in with “press 2 for English”) and that crime and pollution was down and land values up–might as have been talking to my toenails.

I think it’s the same syndrome that crazy white folks in gated communities have about “the end of our way of life”–the further removed they are from the actual human beings that terrify them the more terrified they are.

Why do you think Coeur D’Alene, in Idaho’s northern tip was the capital of white power, hundreds of miles away from non whites?

It’s race.

There’s gonna be a morning after (pill)


The Obama adminstration has decided not to block the over the counter availability of “morning after contraceptives”. Simply put, any woman or girl (or man, assuming he’s either motivated or very confused) can buy a medication that prevents pregnancy up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse.

Naturally, the mainstream media is claiming that this move is fraught with negative implications for Obama, but as this polls well with one of the president’s truest bases, single women, where might this be? In reality, this is not just a no-brainer among the supposedly “enlightened” progressives but should be very popular among the strong anti-abortion opposition of same–after all, no pregnancy, no abortions.

Of course it isn’t. The “morning after pill” is considered an “abortifacient”, even though its purpose is to prevent the very beginning of pregnancy. Plus, that the pill is available to young women without parental notification, this supposedly “encourages promiscuity” (much in the same way that a clean glass would encourage alcoholism, right?). As such, it removes more power from the parent and is a very easily attainable contraceptive which by fiat means acknowledgement of pre-marital sex. Yeah, I know it isn’t the 1950’s for the rest of us, but…..

What no one dares say, well, what the hell, I will: The real reason they oppose this availability is that is may render abortions obsolete. You’d think that as sanctity of life types they would applaud this. They don’t–abortion opposition is a major industry and fund raising tool. After the 2010 midterms, the new Tea Party favorites in Congress introduced bill after bill limiting abortions (that they knew had no chance of passing the Senate). It’s a game to them–fact is, with “pro life” President Bush/Speaker Hastert/Maj.leader Frist in power for 4 years and a weak opposition–the best they could do was a “partial birth abortion” limitation, a procedure that accounts for less than 1% of all abortions.

This terrifies the Planned Parenthood phobes to the core of their bones. No abortions mean no contributions. Means a new scourge is gonna have to be found fast and they don’t have one.

Too effin’ bad. 

Stop meddling


The mega flap over the National Security Administration’s electronic surveillance rages on this week. The chief leaker, Edward Snowden is hied away in Hong Kong, President Obama has assured the American people that he’s “only do this to protect the people”, which is apparently how most Americans see it. Civil libertarians are outraged, the Republican “gotcha” media overjoyed and as there has been relative peace post 9/11 on the homefront (plus the realization that “online privacy” is mythical in and of itself), this too shall pass.

Too bad that it will. Not just because government snooping (and its corporate twin) are an ugly intrusion but really because the underlying story–also the story of 9/11 itself–will fade. The actual cause of Middle Eastern nationalism and the terrorism that comes with it isn’t that “Muslims are crazy” or “they don’t know how to be free and we must show them” but is actually the ceaseless meddling in the affairs of these nations that has characterized US and the UK’s dealings with same for 100 years.

Overthrowing popular regimes hostile to American interests like Iran, 1953 or propping up the Shah, Mubarak, Saddam (a former “ally”) or Assad has created legions of pissed off Middle Easterners (that at various points admired the US as the #1 nation in the world). High unemployment among the young plus ceaseless anti-American propaganda from their state run media’s is part of it, but were it not for a few incontrovertible facts–The US’ automatic backing of Israel in all matters as well as fealty to the Saudi royal family’s autocracy has convinced millions of people that America is no friend to them at all. 

Drone bombing ain’t helping, either.

It isn’t like they don’t know why, either. Protecting the interests of petroleum companies has been priority #1–used to be called “protecting the oil supply” (the “Carter Doctrine”), but at this point, that is a major league load of bovine poop. The US gets less than 13% of the oil it uses from the Persian Gulf and is now a net exporter of petroleum. Therefore, the protection in question isn’t for the US consumer or its security, but for oil company’s revenues and profits–all subsidized by (you guessed it) American taxpayers.

Stop fucking meddling. Stop fucking meddling in their affairs–remove the US military from the Gulf (let the oil companies create their own security minus the military that’s paid from our taxes), stop the bowing and scraping to Al Qaeda backing Saudis, stop reflexively assuming “Israel good, Arabs, bad” and acting accordingly and guess what? Out of sight, out of mind—the notion that “Muslims hate our way of life and want to wage a holy war against us” is belied by the simple fact that the world’s largest Muslim nation has so far ignored most things American. “Live and let live” is the sanest philosophy one can embrace in one’s personal life, why not in one’s political life as well? 

Poor Scott Walker–the sun ain’t gonna shine anymore


Anyone that believes that merit and achievement in governing mean anything at all should stay away from Wisconsin.

The Badger state, cheesehead central, home to the Packers, Brewers, Bucks and Violent Femmes. Also home to perhaps the most dismal head of state in the US, Scott Walker.

(To any music fan, the image conjured up by “Scott Walker” is that of the legendarily reclusive, Jaques Brel-like vocalist. But I digress).

Having won the governor’s seat in that state without having said anything about busting up public employee unions, that’s what Mr. Walker aimed to do. And set off massive protests in Madison and escaped recall by the hair of his chinny chin chin. Walker’s claim is that unburdening the state of the pensions and bloated salaries would set off an economic wave of growth–and did it?

No. The state plummeted in job growth and real wages declined at twice the national level. 87,000 Wisconsins have been heaved off the state’s massively successful BadgerCare program, presumably to join all the other unemployed Wisconsins that were gainfully employed before Walker took office. 

One would think that given the state’s atrocious fiscal performance that Walker’s ambition to ascend would be over. Wrong again–he is considered a viable presidential candidate in 2016. How can this be?

It’s simple: To win over the Republican base, the most important quality a candidate can have is a gleeful sadism when it comes to people of modest means plus a directly proportionate propensity to salad toss the very wealthy (Walker was pranked figuratively doing same to the nation’s big bankroller of lunacy). Even though the vast majority of said base are people of modest means themselves. 

A few weeks ago, I noted polling that showed the Republican party at 59% disapproval, a record high. Recent polls have shown the GOP getting annihilated in 2016 by the AntiChrist herself, the only Republican that polls decently is perhaps their last sane figurehead. Which makes sense–if what turns your base on is pointless cruelty, then you really have become a “crazy clown cult”. Venerating a complete failure is exhibit A, case closed. 


A tale of two signings: Kluwe and Tebow


Two very disparate signings in pro football in the last month. First, punter and outspoken gay rights advocate Chris Kluwe has signed with the Raiders (after being let go by the Vikings). The former UCLA star has been a pro ball player eight years, the Raiders are his third team. Whether or not his views on same sex marriage had anything to do with Minnesota letting him go is not clear (The Vikings MVP running back Adrian Peterson is not an equality advocate) . Maybe they didn’t like his band. Who knows?

Of far more note and unlikely pairing is the newest member of the New England Patriots, Tim Tebow. Signed as a possible third string quarterback (or possible halfback or replacement for the Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski), the poster boy for the pro-life movement and the “libertine” present QB Tom Brady would seem to be an odd couple. Given that Tebow’s last coach was a foot fetishist and wife swapper, I think Brady’s activities will seem mild by comparison.

Fact is this: If Kluwe is an upgrade on the generally dreadful Raiders and Tebow is the missing ingredient for the NFL’s recent champions of the “near miss”, what they think or stand for off the field is irrelevant. Raiders fans are among the most devoted in the world (among other things) and the last few years have been brutal in Oakland. The Patriots collapse in the last AFC championship game (and the crap out against the Giants twice) has re-ignited that old sorrow from the bleak, pre-Brady era. As a QB is by nature more significant than a punter, Tebow will be under massive scrutiny. But he has the best coach in the world and New England sports fans (that hated him a week ago) loving him now (kind of).

Training camp for both teams did get a whole lot more interesting though!


San Onofre, RIP (no more nukes)


“No news is good news” went right out the window last Friday. San Onofre’s nuclear power plant has announced it will close permanently.

After failed and costly equipment swaps and steam generator failures, So Cal Edison threw in the towel. A half billion in unpaid bills is its legacy.

To say that this is incredibly great for the people of LA, Orange County and San Diego is an understatement of enormous proportions. As the residents of Fukushima, Chernobyl or Three Mile Island might tell you, a nuclear power plant is not conducive to the well being of anyone. The former nuke plant was, like Onofre, proximitous to a fault line and as the disaster in Japan unfolded, surely the people of Carlsbad and Oceanside could feel their guts tighten–well, no more.

Nuclear power–for all of its “bang for the buck”–is yet another taxpayer subsidized disaster. And even Edison admits that with moderate conservation, the plant’s customers may make it through summer as they seek an alternative.

Not to pound the too obvious drum, but as Onofre already has generator infrastructure and is adjacent to uninhabited and bare field and hills, why not do what the Antelope Valley is doing? Cover the giant bubble in panels and kick out the sunny jams. Cover those barren hillsides in same. Given that the cost of solar has plummeted and liability insurance at about nil, it’s about time.

SoCal Edison is loathe to do this, as it does usher in their eventual demise. But the future is headed that way no matter what they think. And with San Onofre down, the trad surfers, the fisherman, the beach lovers–can all return. We won!

The “L” word


Friend of mine sent me a great piece from the (I hope this isn’t verboten) SFGate about the gentrification of South Boston, the section of Boston once ruled by the iron fist of Jim “Whitey” Bulger. Landmarks that were once the alleged mobster’s HQ’s now turned wineries, the death of the local Irish pub, all the elements you’ve seen in a million stories about ethnic enclaves turned “Starbucks Nation”. 

Pretty good read as things tend to be (I lived in Boston for 12 years and rarely spent any time in Southie), but one quote stood out like a sore thumb: “The liberals came in and started to buy real estate. They realized how beautiful it is and they started throwing money at it.” This from a “Jamie Donnelan”, a 41 year old electrician. 

What’s that you say, Jamie? “Liberals?” Why, by gosh almighty, I’d a thought “liberals” never worked and were lazy and all on welfare (as that’s the meme one sees all over the Net and radio and cable news). Now, it seems that these sloth-like parasites are driving up land and property values–a strange thing occurs to me here. It isn’t possible, Jamie my lad, that “liberals” are two polar opposites of each other. Either they’re a drain on the hard working people of (name any place) or they’re the scourge of “the working class” (a critical distinction) by being successful in business and pricing them out of their homes. (South Boston is a hop, skip and jump over the channel to the business district).

So, which one is it?

I doubt that Mr. Donnelan could answer that one. Because the word “liberal” is now the “L-word”. Just as there’s an “N-word” and an “S-word” and a “K-word” for the “hated others”, “liberal” has become the all purpose epithet of choice for every resentment-addled reactionary, coast to coast. And it isn’t that “liberal = bad”, it is, astonishingly, “bad = liberal”. All bad things are not only the result of liberalism, they ARE liberalism. By making a political point of view (and a vague one at that)synonymous with evil, “liberal” no longer means anything.

After all, the “liberal media” is the one that tells us things we don’t want to hear. “Liberal academics” brainwash children (Liberty University and others like it, nah). And were it not for “liberals in the church”, none of the pedophile scandals would have happened (yes, they actually believe this!!!!).

All that’s wrong with the world = liberal, all good, conservative. Never mind that the rich yuppies that are pricing Southie’s long time residents out are doing so because of financial deregulations implemented by, erm……….Nope, that can never be it. Never and ever.


Light bulbs, birth defects and sin


Try though I may, I cannot understand the American right in 2013.

Thumbing through the news this morning, I came across two stories that are absolutely mind-boggling. The first is a sad commentary on the kind of mindset that is damaging and pervasive to and among the people that have it. The second is simply incredible.

The first was a study done on the benefits of CFL bulbs–those are the ones that last longer and are cheaper than incandescent ones. When not labeled as per “good for the environment”, conservatives and liberals alike preferred these, but when labeled “green” or environmentally friendly, right wingers were far less likely to want them.

Roll that over in your mind. A cheaper alternative that lasts longer is less desirable because as an added feature, it’s better for the only planet we now inhabit. What next? Right wingers declining cancer meds that are biodegradable? What this says to me is that they’re so vested in their ridiculous ideology, they’re willing to pay more and suffer more to prove a point that even they can’t articulate.

The second is even more astounding. E.W. Jackson is running for Lt. Governor in Virginia (Republican) and even though he has unleashed some whoppers before (yoga is satanic, Planned Parenthood is worse for African Americans than the KKK), apparently in 2008, this minister wrote that birth defects are caused by sin.

Organic and genetic causes, nah. You were nice to a gay guy once. You rubbed one out to nudies. You and your partner rooted around unmarried and on contraceptives–that’s why your baby has Down’s. As even line-toeing hardcore rightists have children with birth defects, this is not a winning electoral strategy.

Virginia is a large state. It is in the US in 2013. That anyone anywhere would espouse these ludicrous ideas and be anywhere near the levers of any power is mind boggling. And yet, the GOP’s candidate for governor hasn’t disavowed Jackson–and why?

Because when you’re marketed to shut in cable and radio junkies, you end up with them. The GOP’s base is now the dregs, the pits, the most pathetic of pathetic–what used to be fringe and laughed off is now what shows up at conventions and nominates idiots.

Until such time as their moneyed elite swallow their pride and heave these half-wits out, this will continue. This is the bed they’ve made, lie in it. 

Pride weekend in LA



It appears that I have pissed off more than a few people as per my opinions on the issue of “Pride Weekend.” To clarify then:

 Anyone anywhere that regards gay, lesbian, transgendered or bisexual people as second class citizens in any way is an idiot than can fuck off this page immediately. I have no use for you–any relationship I can be in legally, so can everyone. That this is even an issue is asinine.

That said “Pride Weekend” is no different to me than St. Paddy’s Day, Memorial Day or any other social event than began as one commemoration (and a gutsy one) and became another one as soon it became fiscally lucrative (and acceptable in the mainstream) to do so. When the HIV virus was destroying gay communities in the 80’s, Pride parades were, no pun intended, ballsy.

Now? Great that it’s a get together for friends and even as a hook up deal–fine. But I know damned well that its present relationship for way too many people is to gay rights as Christmas is to the teachings of Christ–lots of businesses need this weekend to get into the black for the year. And they do.

If that offends you and enrages you, such is life. I’m just glad that the nonsense tends to be in LA’s OTHER gay enclave West Hollywood and not here in the “Swish Alps” of Silver Lake (yes, that’s what it was called back in the 1950’s, when “City of Night” was inspired) . We’re OK with the big bucks bonanza being where it is, bridge and tunnel types are an issue here in Hipsterville every other weekend of the year already. And I am assuming that lots of San Franciscans feel that way as well (think of how the natives feel in New Orleans during Mardi Gras) Have fun!


Arturo Vega, RIP


Arturo Vega, creative designer and lights operator for the de facto inventors of punk rock the Ramones, died this morning. He was 65.

Vega, a Mexican national who emigrated to New York in the ’70s, was the designer of the “Hey Ho Let’s Go” eagle/baseball bat/band member’s name logo that adorned their shirts for 20 plus years. He was also the band’s virtual lifeline in their formative years, providing a home for bassist Dee Dee and singer Joey in his Bowery loft. 

He was a gentleman and a warm hearted, soft spoken genial man with a dry wit. He was also a champion of punk rock and its bands–when my first group (Thrills) first started playing CBGB and Hurrah, Arturo would store our gear for us at the Ramones loft and when off the road, always cheer us on–his approval meant a lot, because if Arturo thought you were OK, you were OK.

Later in his life, he became a fitness fanatic and chronicler of all things Ramone. Was always a joy to hear from him.

Like it was 1979 forever. We’ll miss you, Artie.