Monday, January 31, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • January, 2022

On January 14th, Elvis Costello released his 32nd studio album, The Boy Named If. Costello, born Declan Patrick MacManus, (August 25, 1954) is 67 years old and was part of the 'New Wave' genre that began in the late 1970's and into the 80's. As I was putting together the playlist this month, I came across new singles (for upcoming albums) from fellow 80's music stars, the Tears For Fears duo, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith (both 60 years old), and Colin Hay (68) who was the band leader of Men At Work. 

Now when I reached 60 years old and had retired from my teaching career, I received a letter from the AARP welcoming me to the club. F*** that! I had no interest in retirement other than getting a monthly check while not driving to a school parking lot five days a week. Around my 65th birthday, it dawned on me that I had in fact entered the same club called, "senior citizen" as my mother, who still is 20 years older than me! 

So, 1980's rock 'n' rollers who forty years ago were the 'new wave' are now probably seen by young people in their 20's as the same gray group of rock 'n' rollers who created music in the 1960's. Oh well, I guess that's the circle of things.

From the gray side of both sides now, music has always had young stars not only following their heroes who were 10-20 years older, but with their talent, equally shared the big stage at the same time. I just love the mix of younger artists like Madison Cunningham and older artists like Colin Hay releasing records and streams in the 21st century. Who knows, maybe someday they'll do a song together.

The gray haired musicians, no matter their age, are an inspiration to us all, to keep creating, to keep making stuff. It doesn't matter if you create something in your garage, on your dining room table, at a computer, or in a studio... never stop.

In looking for new music releases every month, I always come across singles or albums that passed me by the first time around. So as a bonus this month, I'm going to include Colin Hay's entire 2021 album, I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself. I just found this album last week and love Colin's voice and his versions of these classic covers. His new album, Now And The Evermore is coming out in March and I won't miss that one. Rock on Colin Hay!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • January, 1972

The future hides and the past just slides, England lies between
Floating in a silver mist, so cold and so clean
California's shaking like an angry child will
Who has asked for love and is unanswered still
from Something Fine by Jackson Browne

The California sound is evolving in January, 1972. The terms 'folk rock' and 'country rock' are promoted by record companies and radio stations riding the next wave. The artists themselves hate these sub-genre terms as the money vise works to squeeze them into neat AM/FM formats and the integration of my childhood 60's pop – the mixed airplay of rock 'n' roll, country, blues and R&B moves into separate silos across the radio dial.

Now as a teenager, all the record companies have mostly moved to Los Angeles as movies and music begin to merge into mega-media corporations. The end of my rock 'n' roll innocence is not yet realized at the time. 

More folk-country-rock musicians like Jackson Browne continue to emerge on the national stage and continue the trend of singer-songwriters making their own hit records. With the release of his first album, Jackson Browne as an LA native and known to many within the music business for his songwriting (since he was 16), instantly joins the top-tier class of singer-songwriters in Los Angeles. January 1972, also gives us Paul Simon's wonderful debut solo album and my record collection starts to grow – funded by doing a variety of janitorial jobs around town. 

Linda Ronstadt releases her self-titled third solo album and is just about a year away from hitting the big time herself as she will start working with James Taylor's producer/manager, and former Peter & Gordon 60's pop star, Peter Asher.  

LA is a beacon for music and I'm in a sleepy town just 2 1/2 hours north that's ready to wake up with a new crop of teenagers anxious to hear the blend of acoustic and electric guitars on records and in concerts.

I'm a junior in January '72, starting to see the light at the end of the high school tunnel. I've been doing a part-time janitorial job at a heavy-duty diesel truck repair shop for about a year now. I clean a place where thick grease is manufactured by the minute, traveling from the trucks to the shop's cement floors to work boots, and then to tile floors in the offices and lunchroom. I still have a vivid image of cleaning and mopping the lunch room tile floor just to walk back by that room five minutes later to see a fresh trail of black grease Vibram® soles tracks leading to and from the vending machines. Who in God's name puts white linoleum tile in a diesel truck repair shop?

I also did other jobs around the shop basically located in an open field that was farming land just a few years prior. Anyway, I had to often clear weeds around the property. My friend, Paul Hobbs who lived nearby would sometimes see me working outside as he rode his bike over the US 101 freeway overpass. Paul and I would talk until I got skittish about my boss seeing us talking and I would suddenly tell him he had to leave. C'mon Doug?

I remember my boss unloading a huge but old rototiller for me to clear a section of weeds to add some plant landscaping. Everything was going fine until the rototiller started smoking something fierce and suddenly froze and died. I had one of the mechanics come out to see what was wrong, and he started laughing when he discovered our boss had failed to add oil and ruined the motor! That was a good one for him to tell the crew in the shop and make fun of the boss. The shop of mechanics were good ol' boys where no one was spared the butt-end of a joke or prank. I learned a few things in my time there... and yes, to always check the oil level in my future cars. On one occasion, the men closed the shop early one Friday and I was invited as a special guest to watch my first porn film on a 16mm reel to reel projector and screen in the back of the Parts Department with the guys. 

At some point in my junior year, I got another janitorial job by a guy at my church to work at his cleaning business. I remember cleaning a data processing building that had rooms filled with large rectangular metal machines with windows of reel to reel tape. At the time, I didn't even know these were early computer storage systems. I would later have a long career as an educational technology teacher in San Diego.

Now these cleaning jobs were boring as hell and I would often invite friends to tag along as a talking buddy. I started inviting a friend from my church, Jeff McGill to come and kill time with me at John Deere and the Toyota dealership on West Main. Unbeknownst to me, my boss was tailing me and warned me if I kept bringing friends along, he would fire me. I think I was at the Toyota dealership with Jeff, when in comes my boss and fires me on the spot. Jeff felt bad, but he did me a big favor as I hated that job.

A year later as a senior in high school, my friend Bill DeVoe and I got a janitorial/gardening contract to clean and maintain our church, Grace Baptist Church on West Alvin and Lincoln in Santa Maria. I remember we made a presentation to the Board of Deacons at the church and beat out an adult church member who just happened to be, my former boss with the cleaning business. Oh lordy lordy that was a bit of Instant Karma and Oh Happy Day!

Monday, January 17, 2022

List Your FAV FIVE: Beatles Songs

Over the last couple of years, I've got my readership to participate in LIST Your FAV FIVE: (whatever)This year, I'm going to continue the series starting off 2022 with you simply listing your favorite five Beatle songs in the Comments section at the end of the blog post below. 

Why only five? Because my wife gave me a great tip to start this series when she said, "If you want reader participation on anything, limit the lists to five." Sounded like a plan to me.

So to begin, let's start at the end. The big idea is for all of us to create a Monday Monday Music™ Readers: Beatles Songs Playlist.

I'll start the playlist with my favorite five Beatles songs (at the moment) and then, as readers leave me their five in the Comments section below, we will grow the playlist, as a Come Together of Beatles fans. 

I was going to explain why I picked each song, then thought well I don't want somebody writing a lengthy comment about how they had their first kiss listening to, Helter Skelter. So here's my FAV FIVE Beatles songs without a back story. 
  1. Penny Lane
  2. I Should Have Know Better
  3. Revolution (the single version)
  4. Back in The U.S.S.R.
  5. All You Need Is Love
Now if you want a little help in making your list, here are several list resources.
 Here's a little instructional aid for doing the Comments section below.
  1. Number and name you Beatles songs 1-5.
  2. Comment as: If you're logged into your computer, tablet or smartphone with a Gmail (Google) account, pick the first selection. I would recommend using the Chrome browser.
    Or, pick Name/URL, write your name and leave URL blank,
    Or, if you pick Anonymous, just write your first and last name in the Comments box itself.
  3. Hit the Publish button, and I'll list your five songs in the post here (if you provided your first and last name), and then I will mix your list in the Youtube playlist.
  4. One last thing, if someone else has picked one of your favorite 5 already, still include it in your list. It may reveal a clear winner that in the end needs to sit at the top of the playlist.
Thanks in advance for playing along and come back later in the week to listen to OUR growing playlist!

Monday, January 10, 2022

Gimme Some Truth

The January 6th insurrection anniversary got me thinking, how would protest songs of the 1960's and 70's relate to these times? I thought about John Lennon and his song Gimme Some Truth

I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics 
All I want is the truth 
Just gimme some truth

I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth 
Just gimme some truth

The lyrics fit well into these times because it's easy to switch out the parallel characteristics of Richard Nixon with Donald Trump.

With Nixon we had the Vietnam War, the Government and the white establishment working to maintain their power and self interests. 

With Trump you can just switch out the Vietnam War and cultural wars of the 60's with the current cultural war he sparked in 2015, and the real threat his movement aims to accomplish – torching fair vote elections and democracy as we know it. 

In the 1960's and 70's, liberals were going up against the Government, FBI, and white establishment for civil rights, social change and to protest the Vietnam War. "Hey hippies, love it or leave it!"

In the 21st century, Trump's conservatives are going up against the Government, FBI, and a more diverse establishment to roll the clock back to the 1950's. "Hey red hats, love it or leave it!"

Trump's BIG LIE that the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen continues to stick with millions of Americans who have completely lost their grip on reality. 

Truth has been taken hostage. It started with the far-right side of the political spectrum, which much like the far-left, are both places where bird-brained conspiracy theories nest. But now, that thinking has spread to the core center of the Republican Party where currently 65% of Republicans believe Joe Biden was NOT legitimately elected President.

If 65% of Republicans believe that Joe Biden stole the 2020 election, a sucker is indeed born every minute, and it would appear lives in the fantasyland known as the Republican Party. How smart was Hitler, Mussolini? Is Trump in their league? It's amazing, but I don't think a NATO country of citizens have been manipulated into this level of propaganda since the rise of fascism in the 1930's in Germany and Italy. Trump's dangerous game is brilliantly simple – just continually repeat a double-down lie that is 180 degrees opposite of a basic truth or cultural understanding, goose-step forward and make that bullshit stick to his follower's souls. Then, call the actual truth, "fake news."

The protest song has been around since people formed languages and put words with rhythm. A protest song's purpose is to spear a lie and roast it on an open fire. The great 1960's folk singer Phil Ochs said, "A protest song is a song that's so specific that you cannot mistake it for BS." Wikipedia

From Gimme Some Truth, I then thought of several other protest or socially conscious songs from back in the day that still ring that bell of truth for today's cultural wars, social justice, and a woman's perspective. 

So in making the playlist this week, I designed a club sandwich. The bread being John Lennon songs in their time as the beginning, middle, and end. Then adding other 20th century songwriter's mindful songs, with several performed by artists in let's say, "their graying years." And then, a few newer mindful songs and even a little parody thrown in. Let's call this sandwich from the democracy deli, "Gimme Some Truth" on rye, and as Biden would say, "hold the malarkey."

Monday, January 03, 2022

1/6/21: Insurrection, The 1 Year Anniversary

by Doug McIntosh and Paul Hobbs

Moment the West Front of the Capitol is flanked and breached by Trump supporters.
insurrection, an organized and usually violent act of revolt or rebellion against an established government or governing authority of a nation-state or other political entity by a group of its citizens or subjects; also, any act of engaging in such a revolt. An insurrection may facilitate or bring about a revolution, which is a radical change in the form of government or political system of a state, and it may be initiated or provoked by an act of sedition, which is an incitement to revolt or rebellion.

It's now one year later, and at least a simple majority of Americans still can't believe what we saw. Something that was so unthinkable, unbelievable, something that could never happen to OUR democracy, in our lifetime.

The January 6th act of insurrection is the culminating event in the cascade of troubling events of Donald Trump's presidency. 

Since 2015, beginning with the Trump Tower golden escalator ride that announced his candidacy (accompanied by the unauthorized use of Neil Young’s, Rockin’ in the Free World), Trump started his run at the Whitehouse with, race-baiting. 

In that kickoff speech, Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The wannabe king used textbook fear mongering to create a divide and conquer game plan. Trump got instant credibility with a substantial core of racist citizens who have been lying in wait for a leader like Trump, to bring them back into the light of day. In Trump they got the born liar they needed to create a movement of hate as he proved amazingly effective starting with his 2011"birther" campaign against Barack Obama. Back then, we thought that was a pretty 'big lie' with the charge that President Obama had been born in Kenya, not Hawaii. Trump was just getting warmed up.

He cleverly used old political 'dirty tricks' that people of color=trouble. This strategy was used to re-energize a working class/middle class base of right-wing Americans who in their hearts of hearts, wanted to 'Make America White Again.' This is lock-step (or goose-step) with their narrow vision of what America serves to be for them, still at the front of the line.

January 6, 2021 was built on a mountain of lies that galvanized his followers into a mobilized mob. As Trump patriots, they traveled in organized groups to our nation's Capitol to fulfill Trump's biggest lie, that the 2020 Presidential Election had been stolen from him, and them. 

At the incitement speech pep rally preceding their march to the Capitol, Trump said,

"And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.

Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun. My fellow Americans, for our movement, for our children, and for our beloved country.

And I say this despite all that's happened. The best is yet to come.

So we're going to, we're going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we're going to the Capitol, and we're going to try and give.

The Democrats are hopeless — they never vote for anything. Not even one vote. But we're going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don't need any of our help. We're going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.

So let's walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.

I want to thank you all. God bless you and God Bless America.

Thank you all for being here. This is incredible. Thank you very much. Thank you."

Last week, Paul sent me an audio track of a song he had written about the insurrection titled, Can't Believe What I saw. Paul says, "In this song I reflected on the images of these angry people, many dressed in costumes, firing each other up and violently smashing their way into the Capitol building through policemen, glass and wood. I reflected on the effect it had on those of us watching it unfold. Innocent bystanders who can only watch the horror of the day shown over and over, so we can never forget. And we should never forget."

Then, we worked together on making this YouTube video of Paul's song that we would like to share with you now.


In the year following the attack on the Capitol (to stop the certification process of President Biden's election victory), many lies and blatant denials of the attack continue to shape Trump's subservient Republican Party. My father's Republican Party is in fact dead. It's now solely Trump's party with a host of sycophant Republicans destroying all remnants of the 'compassionate conservative' GOP (Grand Old Party). My new name for the GOP is, Trump’s OFF (Old Fart Fascists).
Trump's OFF Republicans have abandoned any bipartisan efforts to investigate the events of January 6th, much less focus on our nation's critical issues such as: Covid-19, infrastructure, climate change, health care, abortion, immigration, and voting rights, just to name a few. 

Trump has done his unbalanced best to divide us as a nation of diverse free thinking Americans. He has successfully unbalanced the Supreme Court to support conservative-christian causes and manipulated many faith-based Americans. Being raised in a conservative Baptist household, it is particularly interesting to me to see how the Christian right so easily admires Trump's (and Putin's) 'one way' authoritarian brand of government to further their own ideological causes. The far right has long mastered the political art of converging issues such as anti-abortion with second amendment gun culture, and now, vaccinations and masks with their perceived loss of liberty. It's actually crazy... smart, as a means to an end, but I don't remember an anti-polio-vaxxed Jesus packing a Thompson machine gun in my Sunday school classes in the 1960's.

Turning back the clock to the 1950's – before progressive civil rights, social, and environmental movements – is Trump's long game. He gives the conservative and Christian right-wing their pet project issues in exchange for their complete support as to when and how he can form a totalitarian government to consolidate his power. It's still truly amazing that millions of Christians support this well-documented amoral creature who are so complicit in their complete admiration of this malignant narcissist. It's just another red flag in a sea of red flags that our democracy is much more fragile and in serious peril than anyone would have imagined before the 2016 election. 

Mussolini and Trump
Trump's demonstration of that power is his famous 2016 statement, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters." If you don't recognize that Mussolini-like puff of the chest and turn of the head metaphor, you haven't been paying attention to his out in the open fascist movement, cloaked in the American flag. Paul says, "Trump is the architect of the whole demoralizing journey our democracy has embarked upon. We can’t forget him. We owe it all to him. He has opened the Pandora’s box that now haunts our dreams."

Peter Stager, is accused of beating a
Capitol police officer with an American flag.
Just one year ago, thousands of Trump supporters tried to overthrow our democracy, in the name of democracy. In the irony of all ironies, a Trump supporter is captured on video beating a police officer with an American flag attached to a flagpole.

The events of January 6, 2021 will not be swept under the carpet by Trump's political cronies, or his enraged Americans thinking their liberty is being taken from them by people of color, liberals, atheists, vaccinations, whoever or whatever.

As we start this new year and move to the 2022 mid-term elections, the next iteration of the insurrection is already happening leading to the 2024 general election. However, this next phase is going to be non-violent in what election experts are calling, a 'slow-motion insurrection.' Trump's GOP is evolving, its fascist focus now turns towards controlling local, county, and state election boards starting in the battleground States that Biden won in 2020. But make no mistake, the long game to dismantle our democracy will be a national effort to control elections in all fifty States. If you are reading this and saying, "that will never happen in America," please be mindful and alert no matter your political stripes. 

The very people who attacked the Capitol last year are represented and backed by millions of people in this country who are fed up with our democracy because they feel it no longer works for them. The large  social/political chip on their shoulder has progressed for many into rage. Trump's supporters separate themselves from our Union, calling only his followers, "patriots" and claim the American flag as their own. With Trump's presidency they are emboldened. They feel they have an 'us vs them' large window of opportunity to smash through – to create a new nationalist government that looks after America's traditional Christian majority interests and beliefs as their nation, under their God. 

All this comes as the Republican Party has become more aligned behind Trump, who has made denial of the 2020 results a litmus test for his support. Trump has praised the Jan. 6 rioters and backed primaries aimed at purging lawmakers who have crossed him. Sixteen GOP governors have signed laws making it more difficult to vote. An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll showed that two-thirds of Republicans do not believe Democrat Joe Biden was legitimately elected as president.

The result, experts say, is that another baseless challenge to an election has become more likely, not less.

“It’s not clear that the Republican Party is willing to accept defeat anymore,” said Steven Levitsky, a Harvard political scientist and co-author of the book “How Democracies Die.” “The party itself has become an anti-democratic force.”

American democracy has been flawed and manipulated by both parties since its inception. Millions of Americans — Black people, women, Native Americans and others — have been excluded from the process. Both Republicans and Democrats have written laws rigging the rules in their favor.

This time, experts argue, is different: Never in the country’s modern history has a a major party sought to turn the administration of elections into an explicitly partisan act.
Nicholas Riccardi, AP News

Now, when you have time this week, Paul and I would encourage you to watch the following 40 minute video below, Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol. This video was written and edited by a group of New York Times reporters who spent six months putting together the chronological order of the events of January 6th. It is important to note that most of the video taken on 1/6/21 was shot by Trump supporters themselves. This footage is all real. There are no Antifa actors borrowed from the fake moon landing Hollywood movie set. We can never forget what happened on that day, or be suckered by Trump's political hacks that this was just a normal "tourist" day at the Capitol. We believe what we saw.

Also, heed a Trump supporter's comment at the end of this video to a group of police officers on the line on January 6th, "The patriots are coming back y'all. Hopefully y'all be on our side when that happens."

Note - For some reason, the NY Times starts their video somewhere in the
8:00 mark (in the Chrome Browser).
 Just slide the play bar back left to 0:00 to start.