Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Random Ten (slight rant return)

Over at Welcome To Pottersville there's a post about this article from Rolling Stone on the "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time."

Ok. Fine. I have my favorites, thing is they tend to change. It depends on my mood, the surrounding events, the company, it depends on life. Own your own favorites. Don't let a bunch of wankers sitting around a magazine tell you what's good. If it makes your hips wiggle and your face smile, it's good. My own personal favorite of me playing is something I used to do during my punkish phase in the eighties. I would take one of my tricked out self-built Strats, turn everything all the way the fuck up and play "Maleguena." Then, when I was done and my ears quit bleeding I'd say "That was 'Shake Your Booty Macho Man Maleguena Uber Alles'." I also have a fondness for listening to old jazz records and stealing trumpet, sax, and clarinet licks. When I'm feeling a little disruptive I like to play along with another guy's solo and watch his face fall when he realizes I've been matching him lick for lick using a bottleneck.

So, phooey. If it moves you, it's great. That's the only real measure of music. If it moves you in an important way once, and then has the power to take you back to that moment, that afternoon or night with her, when you're sitting in your cubicle or driving in traffic, that's even better.

Here's the morning soundtrack, courtesy of "shuffle."

Ramblin' With That Woman - - - Bumble Bee
One Way Ticket To Nowhere - - - David Allen Coe
Tout Les Jours Mon Couer Est Bleu - - - Clifton Chenier
Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound - - - Nancy Griffith
Marry Me - - - Dolly Parton (live bootleg, me on 5 string banjo, finish on fiddle getting completely run over by the amazing Vassar Clemens, dude took off and I couldn't hang, finished the song standing there stupid and grinning in amazement but that was how the rest of the band, including Dolly were)
The Dirty Dozens #2 - - - Red Rooster
Co'dine - - - Buffy Sainte Marie
Bertha - - - Phil Lesh
Cal'donia - - - Son House
Grande Waltz Brilliante in Eb - - - Frederic Chopin (played by the incomperable Horowitz)

Bonus track (what's playing right now)

Grinder Man Blues - - - Memphis Slim

I got to go pack for a beach weekend. Should take about all of fifteen minutes. Minstrel's rule for beach packing is this:

Take half as many clothes and twice as much money.

Works every fucking time. Blogging will be light for the next few, after the beach I'm heading up to Laurel Canyon to hang with one of my favorite music ladies and help her get some arranging done for her next album.

Just for the hell of it, because it's so fucking great and just started a bonus bonus

Uncle Penn - - - Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys

What's your soundtrack?

UPDATE: The luminously beautiful April just showed up and said I should also include my standard reply when people ask me "What's your favorite kind of music?"

I always say:

What ever they're paying me for tonight."


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Scotty McClellen is a Lying Sack of Shit

I'd rather hang out on the porch and watch the birds.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Utah Phillips Dead

Adios mi amigo. I rode with you. I got no complaints.

big brass blog

I Sometimes Hate to Be Right

Back in November I wrote a post about The National Pretend Crisis about immigration, and the negative impacts the Homeland Security Department has been having on the economy and culture of the border down here.

One of the things I predicted was:

The laws that have made crossing the border more difficult have not even begun to stem this human tide. They have enriched the coyotes (pronounced COY-oh-tay) who smuggle them. Fees for being guided across have gone up over 300% in the last two years. The first effect of further clamping down border access will be to make these vile and vicious criminals far richer. They will also be certain to spend some of this new found wealth on bribing Customs and Border Patrol Agents. That's what the drug smugglers did, that's what the rum runners did during prohibition.

I did not feel proud, or the least bit vindicated to read this in today's New York Times.

An excerpt from the article:

When the Homeland Security Department was created in 2003, the internal affairs unit was dissolved and its functions spread among other agencies. Since the unit was reborn last year, it has grown from five investigators to a projected 200 by the end of the year.

So, they first transfered an entire department into a newly created cabinet department (the largest expansion in the size and scope of government in the history of the United States) and one of the first things they did was to dissolve the internal affairs division. In a very Stalinesque way that makes sense. If you're worried about the adverse publicity that is brought on by cases of corruption the simple fix is to not bring any cases of corruption into the light. Just like Uncle Joe said all those years ago, "Problem person? One bullet, one grave, no problem."

Sadly, it not only the brand new officers that have been sloppily recruited and rushed into service that are falling prey to the enticements of the smugglers. It is officers with 15, 16, even 25 years of service.

The increases in border security have brought about many changes. Just not any of the ones that were intended.

Heck of a job Chertoff! You Skeletor Looking Motherfucker.


Monday, May 26, 2008

I Got Nothing


by: Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

PILE the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

I've been trying to put together a post, something that somehow ties in the way wartime experience runs through your life like a thread. A thread that sometimes helps with the body of the cloth, sometimes it's a detriment, but it remains always there.

I got nothing. Everything I've tried to write for the last week or so has turned out to be nothing but suck. Major suck.

An old friend, it may seem strange that a dedicated skeptic like myself would number a career Navy Chaplin, among his friends, but I do. My friend, who we derisively called "Chaplin Charlie" even though his name was Jim, is very ill. He has been developing blood clots in his legs and it seems every time they do a procedure to repair the problem, things get worse. Jim was a good and decent man who found himself in a place that was in very short supply of goodness and decency. While we were talking during a visit I made last week he remembered what he says was the most significant encounter he and I had in Viet Nam. At the least most important encounter that didn't involve a poker game. That's where we spent most of our time together. We were at a point in an action with the enemy where ammunition and men fit for action were in short supply. I saw Jim, toting a rifle and wearing a helmet with his white cross insignia taking a place on the line with the rest of us. I went over to him and suggested that he would be more effective assisting the horribly overburdened medics. I told him that he was better in providing comfort and allowing us to inflict the damage. I had his rifle and I held it up and told him that in his hands the rifle was a good man making a noble gesture, but in my hands it was a list of enemy casualties. I said "You're a good man Commander, but kindness and decency aren't what we need here. Besides, the fastest reload is another weapon. Thanks." Then I went about my business and he went to go see the medics.

We probably would not have been able to withstand another assault for more than a few minutes. Luck, and a squad of Cobras turned the day. When the assaulting troops realized that the central command structure had recovered enough to begin supporting the outer bases they broke off and went back to ground like good guerrilla fighters always do. The next time I saw Jim he was at the helo pad helping to load off supplies and load in casualties, of which there were a great many. I went over to him and tried to salute to show my profound respect. We ended up hugging instead.

We've stayed in touch over the years. He and his wife retired to La Jolla and that made it very easy. I've never gotten religion, but I've been glad to have such a good man as my friend. I've played the harp when ever he's asked me for it. Two weddings of two daughters, and next week, the wedding of a granddaughter. He wanted to go over the song list for his funeral that last visit and I told him if he dies on me I'm picking the fucking songs and to expect stuff like "Louie, Louie."

The second guy on my mind is Larry, the Sergeant Major, now deployed in Afghanistan. I fear for him, for his family. When I hear John McCain talking about a hundred years of military presence I think of folks who wear the uniforms in the service of fools. A hundred years? Alexander had one of the greatest armies in history, and they were only able to sustain a continuous combat footing for ten years. McCain ain't no Alexander.

So, this Memorial Day, I don't intend to be all patriotic and shit. There won't be any public displays from me. I'm going to be thinking about my friends, probably call a couple of them and we'll try and convince each other that shit really meant something and that God's in his fucking heaven and all's right with the goddamned world.

We know better, but refuse to say it out loud.