The Censure

What kind of crazy, fucked-up country do we live in where Republicans can’t even admit Trump’s tweets were racist?

One in which the right is functioning like a Mafia family, where it’s not about right or wrong, but protecting its members. This is like asking a parent or sibling to turn in a family member for criminal behavior. The Unabomber’s brother turned Ted Kaczynski in, but I don’t think you’re gonna see that altruistic behavior these days.

And today Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died. 99, that’s a pretty good ride. But despite being labeled a liberal, Stevens said he was consistently a conservative, he didn’t move left, the country moved right. By today’s standards, Nixon was a Democrat, and Clinton verged on being a Republican.

And there will be a day of reckoning. You don’t want a formal record of egregious behavior. Today everything’s tracked, there’s evidence everywhere, so heinous choices will surface, to your detriment. You know the old saying, “It wasn’t my fault, the boss made me do it!” And the truth is today many bosses do require shady behavior, or else you get fired, but if you’re a Congressperson aren’t you held to a higher standard? Shouldn’t you be guided by morality?

Oh, you right wingers, don’t parse the language, that’s what’s wrong with our nation, Bill Clinton saying he didn’t have sex with that woman. He should have just admitted it and gone on. Hell, that’s Trump style, and it’s been working for him, but it seems he finally stepped over the line.

How do I know this?

His tweets are headline news on Fox and the “Wall Street Journal.” Most of the time Trump’s bad behavior is buried in these right wing outlets, if it appears at all, but this is too big a story to ignore.

Then again, if you’re racist, you take Trump’s side.

Meanwhile, the above news is eclipsed by the efforts of Al Green.

No, not the singer/preacher, rather a House member, who filed articles of impeachment Tuesday night.

Who do we blame? NANCY PELOSI! Because she’s lost control of the narrative. I don’t see how we impeach Trump for his racist tweets, but this is what happens when you don’t impeach him for his law-breaking evidenced in the Mueller Report.

Oh, don’t get your knickers in a twist you righties, don’t you know the left isn’t listening to you? Well, that’s not completely true, the left is AFRAID of Republicans, that’s why Pelosi has held back on the “I” word. Supposedly if Trump’s impeached, the Democrats will lose all elections going forward. But that’s a misreading of the tea leaves, one thing’s for sure, the left’s base wants action, ergo the high flying campaigns of Sanders, Warren and Harris. You win through action, not inaction. Defense is important, but only with a good offense can you emerge victorious.

Pelosi’s been in D.C. for so long that she’s become myopic, she’s got no idea how the rank and file feel. She’s a good politician, her heart is in the right place, it’s just that she’s rolling like it’s the last century, and it’s not.

Pelosi needed to lead, keep her constituents in line. But she waffled so much on impeachment, she lost control of the narrative.

And as far as hating on the Squad with Maureen Dowd, this is like Connie Chung telling Newt Gingrich’s mother that it was just between the two of them, even though the whole country was watching on television. Pelosi thought she was playing inside baseball and no one was watching, but today every statement is parsed, and if it’s got an edge, the ball is batted back and forth online, in a virtual pinball machine.

That’s the problem with Pelosi. She knows Congress, but she doesn’t know Twitter, she doesn’t know online, which Trump has used to great effect and the Squad has too. Nancy thought she could keep the Squad in line by saying no one else was on their side, she was too old and out of it to realize she was starting a Twitter war. And those with high profiles rarely do this, you end up blowing up the opinion of your opponent. Yup, the story has been about the Squad, not Pelosi.

She doesn’t know how to play in the modern world.

The pace of the Mueller investigation is so slow, it feels like “Heaven’s Gate,” which failed at the box office. Expectations were high, but the film was so caught up in the look it sacrificed story.

You can’t let Trump continue willy-nilly, saying we’ll get our chance in 2020. No, this gives the executive branch too much power, Stevens feared that. He said no one was above the law.

But somehow Trump is.

He’s as crazy as his buddy Kim Jong Un.

Meanwhile, Trump’s base is lovin’ it, his poll numbers have gone up!

And the Dems just keep complaining to no effect.

It’s not about convincing Trump’s base not to be racist, it’s about seizing control and taking action. Trump keeps saying his team can’t testify. And almost no one has. They’re afraid of being blown up if they do.

So what do the Democrats do? They just yell. That someone took their ball away and won’t give it back.

We can argue all day whether Trump is a racist.

But one thing’s for sure, those were racist tweets. Anybody who denies this doesn’t understand English.

But so far, this is just another instance where Trump controls the debate and the Democrats end up on the losing side. They keep saying their hearts are in the right place, but that doesn’t deliver any change.

You fight fire with fire. When they go low, you go low. Michelle Obama might have a best-selling book, but she knows little about today’s politics, Hillary either. Hillary thought no one was paying attention, when the aforementioned digital record means that you’re liable for everything you ever said or did in your life, big or small. It’s war.

And the DNC killed Bernie Sanders, saying he was too far left and unelectable. But Bernie is singing the song of the public. The rank and file. Who believe their elected officials don’t understand them and don’t deliver for them, despite their impassioned pleas.

Bernie may be too old.

But he certainly knows what he’s talking about.

Medicare for all? Until you’re on Medicare, you don’t realize how great it is. As for the cost…we always hear about this from the right, which keeps giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy and increase the national debt, but when they’re not in power they complain about it.

That’s right, up is down and down is up.

And I’m not writing this for Republicans. They’re part of the family. They’re not gonna change their minds. And they think if they just work the refs I’ll change my mind.

But that ain’t never gonna happen.
I’m speaking to the Democrats, all Democrats, in Congress and on the street. Unless we articulate our positions, unless we explain them, unless we stop fighting with each other while we’re busy protecting every individual, we will lose sight of the big issues and lose the next election.

The big issue right now is not the racist tweets, but impeachment.

It’s your ball Nancy.

Beginnings-Song of the Day

Beginnings – Spotify

Beginnings – YouTube

I was driving on Mulholland Drive after my SiriusXM show. The highway is a strange combination of inspiration and creepiness. After all, this is where those reporters found the discarded Manson murder clothing. That’s right, long after the killings they read the reports and timed how long they thought it would take to change clothes and they re-enacted the route, stopped the car, climbed down the cliff, AND THERE THEY WERE!

Did you read about the new Manson book, saying Bugliosi’s theory was wrong? I guess it’s like the Kennedy assassination, now that Charlie is dead, there are those with more questions than answers, who don’t buy the party line.

And speaking of questions, that’s the song that follows “Beginnings” on Chicago Transit Authority’s debut double album, a package you had to buy to hear.

1969 was before AOR. We had underground FM which specialized in playing the new and different and lengthy. And CTA’s songs were certainly lengthy, but after the breakthrough of the David Clayton Thomas incarnation of Blood, Sweat & Tears this sound seemed too mainstream. And eventually Chicago would go mainstream, but that wasn’t until the second LP, with “Make Me Smile” and “25 or 6 to 4,” and then the band became known for wimpy ballads and was discarded by hipsters, but…there was that 1974 track, “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long,” which started slowly and quietly, and then transitioned to a horn flourish, evidencing the humanity lost in today’s machine music, and then a sing-songy vocal that’s somewhat endearing…

Then the track starts to march.

And it slows down a bit and goes back into the verse.

Yet, then, more than halfway through, the track starts to gallop, it accelerates and…

For an answer

And suddenly it’s an anthem! With even a guitar solo, but what truly pulls it over the transom and jets it into the stratosphere is the backup vocals. And then it quietly exits and…you can’t wait to hear it again. This was the pre-Napster era, you had limited cash, did you really want to drop it on this double album, “Chicago VII”?

But this isn’t about that era.

This is when the band was finding its way, thrilled just to have a deal, which was gotten by James William Guercio, a legend who got no respect back then and is completely forgotten today. Have you listened to those Buckinghams hits recently? Especially “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” which also featured brass figures, maybe an inspiration for Guercio’s work with Chicago. (And never forget, Guercio ultimately directed a film, “Electra Glide In Blue,” which could possibly be Robert Blake’s best work and was almost great, better than the work of any other person who tried to switch sides from music to movies.)

The initial double album was a special deal, less than a dollar more than a single LP, not the cost of two records. And it grew slowly in the marketplace, via word of mouth, real word of mouth, not the internet kind, and real word of mouth moves much more slowly.

And there was a nearly eight minute cover of the Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m A Man,” written by Steve Winwood and producer Jimmy Miller, another forgotten man, he was there when the Stones did their best album work.

So you could dig into CTA, and it delivered. Some people consider it to be the best debut album ever, that’s what callers into my radio show said.

But I hadn’t listened to it in so so long.

And then I heard “Beginnings” on the radio.

It’s bright and sunny, but not so sunny as to be saccharine.

And one thing’s for sure, the band is functioning on all cylinders, it’s plowing ahead confidently, you cannot help but get on the train.

And I’m twisting and turning through the curves, nodding my head and singing along.

And “Beginnings” is nearly eight minutes long, closer to classical music than pop fodder. It goes through movements. Sure, the horns are prominent, but then there’s Terry Kath’s guitar, a man who would be revered as one of the best if his career wasn’t cut short by a game of Russian roulette.

And there are dynamics and…

You’re listening, and fifty year old music should sound dated, like a period piece, good only for nostalgia, but the truth is “Beginnings” was still fresh.

But somehow horns got a bad name, and got replicated by synthesizers, and instead of having big bands acts play to hard drive, and the inner mounting flame, the sheer joy and exuberance of music, has been lost along the way.

But unlike the lost civilizations of Mexico, this music is hiding in plain sight, waiting to be rediscovered and inspire.

The Emmy Nominations

It’s a race to quality, driven by technology, why haven’t we had a concomitant race in music?

Music is far ahead of television technologically, the disruption has already happened and you can get the history of recorded music at a number of outlets, i.e. Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Deezer…

But the music being purveyed is absolutely dreadful. It hasn’t been this bad since before the Beatles. And now we know what it was like before the Fab Four…music was just another industry, necessary, but not exciting. Why is this?

If you study the Emmy nominations, you’ll be confronted by one thing…the networks were almost completely cut out. That’s right, despite crowing to advertising agencies that they’re the best place to reach the largest audience, however small, the shows on the networks garner little attention and are not respected. They’re middle of the road and not edgy. They’re ignored in the cultural conversation. Some people might actually watch them, but no one talks about them.

But they talk about “Game of Thrones,” the biggest cultural event of the year.

Sure, a lot of people watched “Game of Thrones,” but everybody was talking about it! And they were not talking about the penumbra, but the essence, the show itself. When people talk about today’s music, it’s mostly about the feuds and the money.

And the money is what it comes down to.

You see the various TV outlets are fighting for eyeballs. They’re playing a game of musical chairs. How many services will you ultimately pay for?

Now we had this excitement in music back at the turn of the century, they called it Napster, when not only could you acquire all those hits for free, but a ton of stuff that was never commercially available.

Needless to say, the majors and the antique artists tried to tamp down file-trading to preserve the past, fearing the future.

And one thing was for sure, money was drying up in recorded music.

That’s what is driving the television revolution, money. Netflix is spending billions on shows, running in the red so it can win in the end, at least hopefully. AT&T purchased Time Warner and it’s injecting cash to play too. Hell, Richard Plepler, HBO’s guru, departed because the new owner wanted more production!

And the producers?

They’re living in a fantasyland. There’s cash for almost every project, especially if you’re a star. That script in your drawer, your passion project, you can find a sponsor for that now.

But in recorded music, the cash went the other way, half the revenue was lost, and therefore investment is low and so are the offerings. The majors sign less and invest less, and they’re not searching for quality, but cash, right away.

But the live business is burgeoning, that’s where all the investment in music is today. We have a slew of festivals, actually too many, this replicates the TV streaming wars. The customer is eager. He or she who comes up with something different can tour forever, whereas the hit dependent…are hit dependent.

So it’s not a complete loss.

But we’ve still got that quality issue in music.

Jimmy Fallon has great ratings, is constantly discussed in the media, but he got no nominations, whereas competitors like Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, John Oliver and James Corden did. Even Jimmy Kimmel got one, never mind the ratings leader Stephen Colbert. Turns out safe is sorry. Today people want edgy, limit-testing, but we don’t see that in popular music.

And if you’re new and different and good, you gain attention. Almost no one talks to me about Amazon shows, but they do about “Mrs. Maisel,” which is a juggernaut. It’s unique, and not even that great, but when it resonates…like the episodes in the Catskills, you feel all warm inside, you can’t get this anywhere else.

And “Ozark” was nominated. I could watch “Ozark” every day, even if it slipped a bit this season. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are so good, they’re a marvel to look at, as well as Julia Garner who plays Ruth.

And “Killing Eve” and “Fleabag,” actually another Amazon show, are constantly talked about, and have traction, when was the last time you found yourself discussing a record?

And I still can’t figure out the end of “Russian Doll,” but I’m watching it.

So where is our golden age of music?

In the last century.

We’re shooting low.

And it’s all about the Benjamins. You hear about sponsorships, tie-ins, proving that acts gravitate to the cash.

And those without money can’t stop bitching they don’t have it.

Maybe a TV show about the industry would be better than the music, the haves versus the have-nots. And the heroes? They would be those going their own way, according to their own mind, not playing by the rules.

This is how every great triumphed in the music world. It wasn’t just songs, but arrangements thereof, instrumentation, the sound… From the Beatles to Dylan to Jimi Hendrix to Led Zeppelin to Yes to Culture Club to…

To what?

P.S. Julia Garner is a bigger breakout star than anybody in music. Because she radiates talent. Remember talent?

Emmy nominations

The Act You’ve Seen The Most Times Live

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