Sunday, December 11, 2005

Why New York is Not All That

I am over New York. I am over the pain in the ass it is to get in and out of the city, whether it’s by car, train or boat. I am over the franchising of Lower Manhattan. I am over the ridiculously overpriced real estate and the lack of affordable housing. I am over the totally confusing subway stations, the card machines that don’t work, the trains that don’t come. I am over the expensive cab rides and rude cabbies who often tell you where you are going. I am over the two football teams that claim to be from New York but haven’t set foot there in over twenty years. (I am over Yankee fans, period, but that’s another story altogether.) I am over the annoying twenty-somethings who seem to have taken over the city. But most of all, more than anything else, I am over the ceaseless bragging about the city by its residents, knowwhadduhmean?

Enough already. I’m tired of hearing about how such-and-such is a great town, “but it’s not New York.” (Duh—like anyplace else is or would want to be.) I am tired of hearing about how it’s the greatest place ever invented, how it’s so open and accepting and freethinking—as though other places are not, and as though there have never been racial incidents in the Big City. I am sick of hearing about how everyplace outside of the city is “the boonies.” Well, once upon a time, the boonies were 72nd Street, so get over it. You guys don’t like us “out-of-towners” coming in and clogging everything up. Well we don’t like you coming to our towns and congesting our roads with your clueless driving—stop and ask for directions if you don’t know where you’re going, otherwise get out of the way.

I am convinced a large part of New Yorkers’ arrogance is that they know that they are paying way too much for way too little—in essence, being screwed—and are resentful because others are not. Life is hard in the Big Apple—you always have to be on the ball because people don’t have a whole lot of patience. It’s crowded, it’s noisy, it’s stressful, and most people live in places the size of matchboxes for which they pay through the nose. There are way too many people living in way too little space, and there is not nearly enough housing to meet demand. And this is the greatest city on earth? Tell me how great it is in the next week or two when there’s a transit strike, ok?

I know there is a lot that is great about Manhattan—I have spent a lot of time and money there myself. But it is far from perfect, and I really wish that New Yorkers would just admit it already. It’s no better than several other American cities I could name, and a lot worse than some comparable Canadian and European ones. So enough. You live there, I don’t. Whether or not that makes you “cooler” than me or just a sucker is your call.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

You Don't Move Me

I just don’t feel it anymore.

The things that once excited me leave me cold. There is no joy, no transcendence, only greed and self-interest and disrespect and competition. They have sucked the life out of this music I once loved so much with their selfishness and self-aggrandizement. I am tired of hearing about who's "in" with the band, how many shows someone went to, where they sat, which obscurity got played this time, which band member they went drinking with, and on and on...

I want to be moved, I want to be transported. And the music itself just doesn’t move me anymore. I keep hearing about how Band X's new record is better than the last, how these latest shows by A Certain HOF Singer/Songwriter are so amazing—and yet the most exciting thing I’ve heard in months is the new Dylan bootleg series release. Christ, that man had it. (Sometimes still does.) There are songs, and then there is “Blowin’ in the Wind.” There are performances, and then there is Dylan spitting nails on “Masters of War.” Calling us to arms on “Chimes of Freedom.” And duetting with Rambling Jack Elliott on “Mr. Tambourine Man,” for my money one of the greatest lyrics ever written by anyone.

I always said I would have this song played at my funeral, now I know which version I want. Here, there is no jangly (and in my opinon trite) accompaniment, there is just the acoustic guitar right up in your face, that piercing harmonica, and that voice :

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand,
Vanished from my hand,
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet,
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship,
My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip,
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin'.
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way,
I promise to go under it.

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Though you might hear laughin', spinnin', swingin' madly across the sun,
It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin'.
And if you hear vague traces of skippin' reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it's just a ragged clown behind,
I wouldn't pay it any mind, it's just a shadow you're
Seein' that he's chasing.

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Copyright © 1964; renewed 1992 Special Rider Music

You can have your Next Big Thing from Philadelphia Currently Performing Sub-Par Material To Embarrassingly Small Audiences. You can have your Future of Rock'n'Roll Whose Fans Desperately Cling to the Past. I'll be at home listening to Bob and waiting for another Maybe Pete show in search of that Indefinable Thing, that Buzz...

"Some people have a hard time explaining rock 'n 'roll.
I don't think anyone can really explain rock 'n' roll.
Maybe Pete Townshend, but that's okay.
Rock 'n' roll is a lifestyle and a way of thinking...
and it's not about money and popularity.
Although some money would be nice.
But it's a voice that says, '' Here I am...
and fuck you if you can't understand me.''
And one of these people is gonna save the world.
And that means that rock 'n' roll can save the world...
all of us together.
And the chicks are great. But what it all comes down to is that thing.
The indefinable thing when people catch something from your music.
What I'm talking about is-- Wait, what am I talking about?
- The buzz. - The buzz."

Monday, October 31, 2005

Yes It's Me

And I’m in love again—no wait, that’s Fats Domino. Man am I glad he’s ok. But I digress (and you certainly don’t want to get me started on that whole New Orleans fiasco again…)

It’s been a long couple of months getting settled in here in coastal New Jersey, but I’m finally back online and ready to rock. The reasons for the long delay are pretty lame, actually—my DSL wasn’t up and running because I had to upgrade my sissified 1999 Dell from Windows 98 to XP. EEEK. Hate giving money to that man. Hate it so much that that’s the primary reason why I hadn’t already upgraded. So a couple hundred smackers and several trips to Circuit City later, I am now in the lovely world of wi-fi DSL. And I must say, it does rock. You can’t beat being able to write whilst sitting on the couch in your sweats with your laptop in your lap (where it belongs).

What have I been doing with myself all this time? Well, getting situated in a new job for one. I am working at Borders again--the one where Bruce shops--though I haven’t seen him yet. (Scarily enough, I actually saw his assistant Terry in there last week, though, and my husband ran into his old sound man in the grocery store. Ah, the perks of living on the Jersey Shore…) This is not the be-all end-all job by any means—I am merely paying bills whilst attempting to ensconce myself in the local journalism scene. I have a couple of good leads, and with any luck, I will be getting paid to write, at least on a freelance basis.

I have been taking lots of walks—it helps to be 10 minutes from the beach—and this has helped me to clear my head and refocus. It’s pretty hard to be to concerned with much of anything when you are sitting and staring at the waves. Ocean Grove is a quaint, if somewhat claustrophobic, little town—full of antique shops, cute restaurants and overpriced grocery stores. The Victorians range from gorgeous, tasteful and imaginatively decorated to completely run down and scary. I live on the first floor of one that is somewhere in between. The cellar flooded a bit during the rains we had a couple weeks back, not because of leaks, but because it has one of those crazy Wizard of Oz storm doors and it’s falling apart. (Must speak to the landlady about that.) We hear the carillon bells from the Methodist church every night at 6, and it reminds me of the National Cathedral bells from my old ‘hood in DC.

We live on the north side of town, right next to Wesley Lake, which is the southernmost border of Asbury Park. We can walk out behind our house and see and hear the redevelopment transpiring on Cookman and Lake Avenues. (If I look to my left, I can see the painted advertisement for Thom McAn shoes on the back of the building that once housed the famous Upstage club. More on that later.) I wish I could say I was happy about the construction, but as usual, it seems the people with the money are the ones without imagination, without soul. They have, sadly, torn down the storied Palace Amusements building instead of finding a way to incorporate this unique, historic building into their plan, and are at present building generic-looking waterfront condos that are already out of my price range. (I find it interesting that real estate speculators have already convinced people that they have to pay New York-style prices in a town that lacks a decent grocery store, or worse, any sort of a business plan for reviving its struggling economy, especially on “the other side of town.”)

I plan on writing about the troubling racial issues in this area at great length—it is a subject with which I continue to be deeply concerned. And I will write about some of the positive things happening in this area too, especially the resurgent local music scene. There are some great things happening, some exciting bands to watch, including my current favorite, the hard-working Maybe Pete. For now, though, I have a lot of catching up to do. It’s Halloween night, and there are little kids knocking on my door in all sorts of costumes. It’s different here, and it’s going to take some adjustment (as much as I have continued to deride it—I really miss my Washington Post!), but damn, it’s good to be back.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hell No We Ain't Alright

“Hell No We Ain’t Alright” by Chuck D

New Orleans in the morning, afternoon, and night
Hell No We Ain’t Alright
Now all these press conferences breaking news alerts
This just in while your government looks for a war to win
Flames from the blame game, names? Where do I begin?
Walls closing in get some help to my kin
Who cares? While the rest of the Bushnation stares
As the drama unfolds as we the people under the stairs
50% of this Son of a Bush nation
Is like hatin’ on Haiti
And setting up assassinations
Ask Pat Robertson- quiz him.... smells like terrorism.
Racism in the news/ still one-sided news
Saying whites find food/
prey for the national guard ready to shoot
‘Cause them blacks loot
New Orleans in the morning, afternoon, and night
Hell No We Ain’t Alright
Fires, earthquakes, tsunamis
I don’t mean to scare/ Wasn’t this written somewhere?
Disgraces all I see is black faces moved out to all these places
Emergency state, corpses, alligators and snakes
Big difference between this haze and them diamonds on the VMA’s
We better look/ what’s really important
Under this sun especially if you over 21
This ain’t no TV show/ this ain’t no video
This is really real/ beyond them same ole “keep it real”
Quotes from them TV stars drivin’ big rim cars
'Streets be floodin,’ B/ no matter where you at, no gas
Driving is a luxury
State of emergency
Shows somebody’s government
Is far from reality....
New Orleans in the morning, afternoon, and night
Hell No We Ain’t Alright
I see here we be the new faces of refugees
Who ain’t even overseas but here on our knees
Forget the plasma TV-ain’t no electricity
New worlds upside down-and out of order
Shelter? Food? Wasssup, wheres the water?
No answers from disaster/ them masses hurtin’
So who the f**k we call?--Halliburton?
Son of a Bush, how you gonna trust that cat?
To fix s**t when help is stuck in Iraq?
Making war plans takin’ more stands
In Afghanistan 2000 soldiers dyin’ in the sand
But that’s over there, right?
Now what's over here is a noise so loud
That some can’t hear but on TV I can see
Bunches of people lookin’ just like me

[Courtesy of]

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Survival of the Fittest is Not a Policy

That is the homemade sign presently located on the bumper of my car. Because I truly feel New Orleans' pain. I live in a city of approximately the same size, with approximately the same racial makeup and an African American mayor. I know what it is like to be mocked, scorned, ignored, powerless. We have lived for hundreds of years under the auspices of the federal government with very little stake in our own future because we lacked the power and authority, both budgetary and legal, to do anything for ourselves.

Now, belatedly, we see the federal government attempting to step in in New Orleans because "the locals" (i.e. Crackers, African Americans, Latinos) couldn't do it. How familiar, and how heartwrenching. As though the mayor and the governor didn't plead for money and supplies and assistance BEFORE the disaster even hit. And as though the real reason for the government stepping in at this late hour ISN'T to cover their asses, keep the media out, etc. Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett was quoted as saying something to the effect of "the US government stands ready to protect the citizens of New Orleans." This would be laughable if it weren't so tragic. These people are so hopelessly out of touch they might as well be living on the moon.

The three greatest potential disasters that were feared by the feds were: 1) a flood in New Orleans 2) attacks on the World Trade Center and 3) major earthquakes in California. If I lived in the Golden State, I'd be seriously considering my options right about now.

As for the impotent rage I, like so many others, feel right now, well I am not going to stand quietly by. I am donating what I can locally (DC is set to receive several thousand victims in the next day or two), and will be traveling with a group of Springsteen fans to New Orleans at Thanksgiving in order to help with the relief efforts through Second Harvest Food Bank. This is not bragging--I know that people of conscience are already doing what they can. People are handling this tragedy in their own ways, and not everyone is in a position to drop everything and help. But Americans are fundamentally good, giving people, and I know they will help their desperate brothers and sisters to the extent that they can.

As for the Bush administration, there is not a sorrier group of people on the face of the earth. They are all truly sociopathic, and I have nothing but pity for them. Well, pity and disgust.

At times like this, it's hard to believe we're living in America. What has happened to us? Is this how we care for our weak, our infirm, "the least of our brothers?" And what must the foreign press be saying right now? (Sure would be nice to have the help of Germany, France, Spain, now wouldn't it? Too bad we've already alienated most of our allies with this ridiculous war of aggression...) The whole world is watching and judging, and what they will have to say will most definitely not be pleasant...

"Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ta-Ta For Now

I'll be posting less frequently for a bit whilst I am in the process of moving and other life changes...see yas down the road apiece...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cindy Sheehan Rocks

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
---Margaret Mead

Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son Casey last year in Iraq, is taking it to the Bushies on their home turf. She's turned a visit to Dallas last week into an international media event in Crawford. And while the mainstream media struggle to catch up, the blogosphere is going crazy, and others are fashioning similar protests in support. What's her beef? Well, seems she can't get a straight answer out of our beloved Commander in Chief as to why her son died. Sounds like a reasonable request to me, yet now she is being dismissed as "dishonoring" her own son by such great minds as Bill O'Reilly and Matt Drudge. The arrogance of such an assertion by media pundits--how can anyone else know her suffering except other families of those killed?--is staggering.

Sometimes the simplest acts are the most powerful: one of the lessons of Gandhi. So rock on, sister Cindy--we are with you!


For the latest on Cindy, please visit Gold Star Families for Peace, After Downing Street and, where the ever vigilant Mr. Moore has given her some blogspace. Also see The Lone Star Iconoclast online for some great photos and a timeline of last Saturday's events. Finally, there is a new site called Meet With Cindy that provides details about how you can help Cindy by donating money and supplies, contacting media, etc.

Update: William Pitt from Progressive Democrats of America is on site and blogging. Check it out here.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Land of the Free?

According to this quiz on the ACLU website, I most likely have an FBI file. Whilst I consider this a badge of honor (MLK and John Lennon both had files), I find it more than a little disturbing that my government is spending my tax money spying on me. Welcome to the Third Reich...

Things I Like Vol. 28

Ten People/Places/Things That Rock My World

1) "Prisoners of Paradise" - Jesse Malin (brand new 'n' unreleased)
2) CBGB - 'nuff said
3) Little Steven Van Zandt, the coolest man on the planet
4) Frankie, Lizzy and Keith, my new rock star boyfriends
5) The Continental NYC - $2.50 shots and all the punk rock you can handle
6) The Dirtbombs - garage rock at its finest
7) Sami Yaffa, bassist extraordinaire and all around cool guy
8) Six Feet Under - keepin' it real on HBO
9) "Trick on Love" - Marah (unreleased live version)
10) Debbie Harry - just 'cause

Hero of the Week: Steven Van Zandt - the living embodiment of rock'n'roll

Villain of the Week: George W. Bush - for the recess appointment of John Bolton, for promoting creationism in our public schools, and for taking a five-week vacation while Rome burns

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Spare Parts

Did you ever feel like your life was just one big mess, that no matter what you did or how hard you tried, that everything would still end up turning out wrong? That some people were just blessed with good fortune, and that you were not destined to be one of those people?

Life deals different decks of cards to different people. You try and get philosophical about it, tell yourself you don‘t get what you can’t handle, you learn from your mistakes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But why is it that for some, things just seem to fall their way—the perfect boyfriend (girlfriend), job, home. Perfect kids—a boy and a girl (of course) with perfect straight teeth (well maybe one front tooth missing for the cuteness factor) who do perfect things, and the grandparents just love everything they do and all is rosy in this perfect world that stays free from error and sin and darkness and harm.

For some people there is nothing but struggle and heartache and misfortune and self-doubt and fear and anger and contempt and disgust and worst of all, that absolute terror that nothing that you do, nothing that you have ever done or will ever do, will be of any great consequence. You are sad and shapeless and insignificant, and when you go there will be nothing left behind you, not a trace of who you were or what you did except those mistakes, left behind for the whole world to see as monuments to your misfortune.

"She sighed Ma sometimes my whole life feels like one big mistake..."
from "Spare Parts," Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Things I Like Vol. 27

Ten People/Places/Things That Rock My World

1) The Saint, Asbury Park NJ - it's all in the family
2) "Black-Haired Girl" - Jesse Malin (brand new 'n' unreleased)
3) "Beautiful Day" - ditto
4) Maybe Pete - New Jersey's best unsigned band
5) Team America, dir. by Trey Parker - the best laugh I've had in ages
6) Chat and Nibble Restaurant, Asbury Park NJ
7) "Ball of Confusion" - The Temptations
8) Major League Soccer - bringing the beautiful game to the US
9) IOTA Cafe, Arlington VA - come for the food, stay for the music
10) United For Peace & Justice - see you in September

Hero of the Week: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), for finally introducing the long-awaited Resolution of Inquiry with respect to the Downing Street Memos

Villain of the Week: Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)--this nut job wants to send the US back to the 18th century (apparently the 19th wasn't good enough)!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

He's Just a Man

When did it become not about the music but about the star power? Why, when you have the honor and the privilege of witnessing performances that often border on genius, when you are given the chance to truly connect with one of the most warm, generous, human artists of this or any other era—why is it more important to simply bask in his presence, to be physically close to him, to maul each other like a pack of starving wolves for a look, a glance, a touch?

I saw and heard a particularly solid and moving performance by Bruce Springsteen on Saturday night, the kind that you never want to end, never want the spell to be broken. It used to be that it all continued after the show was over, that even when the lights did come back up, there was a high, a magic that continued for hours afterward. A warm glow almost like a drug–you wanted to relive each moment with those who had witnessed it with you, to go over each detail, each nuance. It was a special bond that existed in few fan communities. We all felt a part of something special, something we didn’t have to defend or explain; it was just understood.

But something’s changed. When the lights come up now, you just want to run before the inevitable behavior continues. You can ignore it when the show is in progress, but when the lights come on, you have to look into their eyes and see the madness, the greed, the jealousy and selfishness that have infected these seemingly intelligent, sensitive people. They are sad and they are desperate. The music isn’t enough—the need to be close to The Man, the Jesus figure that they think will change their lives overwhelms them. One look from him, one touch will not suffice. They measure and compare how close they were to him, count how many times they made eye contact, whether or not he reached out and touched them. And they compete against each other, it’s some mad game out of a movie, this obsession not with a person but with a persona. If they could only embrace this presence somehow, this contact would give their shallow, empty lives meaning.

It must be so startling, so disconcerting, so depressing, to look down from that stage and want to really reach people, to really connect, and instead to see the same manic faces desperately clawing to get closer, knowing that you can’t give them what it is they want, no one can, it must come from inside themselves. He knows this, knows it better than anyone, for it used to be that, like them, he needed these performances to remain sane because he had nothing else. Those four-hour shows of yore were literally his means of survival. Happily, he finally allowed himself to see that the emptiness inside him wasn’t right, that things were out of balance, that there was more to him, more to life. That he was worth something without a guitar in his hand. It took years of hard work, and it is clearly still an ongoing process. But he saw it, continues to see it, and is at last, a whole person.

Paradoxically, though, as he has found and embraced his true self, he increasingly seems to draw empty, sad people who come to him for precisely the reasons he used to come to them—sustenance and meaning and self-worth. And he can’t give that to them—never could—he can only give them grace and power and uplift, give them the knowledge that they are and always have been worthwhile, that the respect and dignity that they crave like a drug must come from within. And they would know this, if only they would listen, really listen, to the music. But they can’t, or they won’t, and so they continue to demand from him what he can’t give, what they can only get from themselves. It is a desperate, unfulfilled yearning that will never be satisfied, and it is a terrifying, depressing thing to watch.

Part of being a performer is a basic human need, a craving to connect, to communicate because you can’t do it any other way. What must it be like to realize that with your core audience, there is no true connection, only sycophancy and desperation and need that sucks you dry? How must it feel night after night to be the trained monkey onstage evoking these same predictable emotions from these same sad people no matter what you do, how great or terrible your performance was? Do they even listen to the songs, do they even understand what it is you’re trying to do? They say they love you, but really, do they even know you?

When that realization finally hits you, it hits hard, and you had better be ready, better be strong, better know who you are and what you’re about and have that strong foundation of self-awareness and self-love, because if you don’t, you are lost. And even if you do, sometimes it’s still too much to ask of a person. After all, the only person in this world that you are responsible for—the only one you can ever really save—is yourself. You are not responsible for the happiness of others.

No wonder John Lennon retreated, resigned, hid. Who wants to be Jesus when all you really are is a man?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Rove Must Go

Sick of the lies and sleaze? Send the "Turd Blossom" his walking papers. There, now, doesn't Karl look pretty in pink?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rove Declassified?

July 13, 2005

Congressman Tierney Calls For Suspension of Rove’s Security Clearance and Access to Classified Information

Washington, DC - All Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) today joined Congressman John F. Tierney (D-MA), the only New England Member of HPSCI, to call on President George Bush to revoke White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove’s security clearances and access to classified information. In a letter to the President, all nine Democrats on the Committee urged him to take immediate action.

Somebody pinch me please. Can it be that the Democrats on Capitol Hill (aside from the Conyers posse and a few other select individuals) are finally doing their jobs? Geez, next thing you know they'll be, like, filibustering a Supreme Court nominee or somethin'...

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Up the Establishment

Why do we work so hard?

It can all be taken away. So don't think about who might laugh at you, or tell you you can't, or you shouldn't, or it costs too much or is too risky or you must behave responsibly because you never know what might happen.

That's true, you never do know what might happen, it can all be gone tomorrow. No one ever lay on a deathbead agonizing about whether or not more time should have been spent working. So play. Take that risk.

And when that person looks at you, looks through you, when you have made that connection and it is deep and it shakes you to the core, scares you so you want to run--don't. Because although it is terrifying to open oneself up, it is infinitely more terrifying to not know what might have been.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Baseball (in DC) is Life

Almost forgotten amongst all the furor about the attacks in London today, they played baseball in the Nation's Capital this afternoon. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, we haven't had baseball here in 33 years, and the love affair with our brand new team is on.

The Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos) weren't given any chance of doing anything this year, and yet, at the All-Star Break, my hometown team has the second best record in baseball. That's right, the team everyone laughed at, the team with one of the smallest payrolls in the major leagues, the team that has sent player after player to the disabled list, continues to find ways to win. For once, the nice guys are finishing first.

And the city of Washington, the butt of so many jokes, the city that everyone says is bland and boring, lacking in culture and fashion and fun--the city that is divided by so many things--is being brought together by this improbable bunch of misfits and rejects, and we are having the last laugh. Attendance has far exceeded expectations and shows no signs of slowing down (today's game was yet another sellout). And the team is responding in kind, refusing to give up, pulling out game after game in all sorts of gutsy ways.

Today, having just sent yet another one of their best hitters to the DL, the Nats gave it their best shot (as always), and held their own into extra innings before being bested by (in this homestand anyway) a superior bullpen. And in the end, it didn't really matter, because we were all there together-kids seeing their first big league game, fathers and sons, moms and daughters, businessmen (and lobbyists) playing hookey, African-American, Latino, Asian, white, urban, suburban, young, old--we were all there together, and everyone was having a great time.

It is still unbelievable to me that after so many years of waiting, hoping, praying, of having hopes crushed again and again, that on a humid July afternoon, I could get on the subway, ride a half hour down to funky old RFK stadium (where I have seen so many amazing times), and buy a $15 seat behind home plate to watch baseball. How long we have waited here in Washington, and how disheartening the wait has been! And yet, here we are, in 2005, watching America's Pastime in the Nation's Capital.

I have been to several games since opening day, and still I pinch myself each time I walk down the long approach to that venerable old sports facility on East Capitol Street. And today, on a day when I really needed to get away, to escape from the latest horror stories abroad and here at home in Washington, to forget about the personal baggage that often seems more than I can bear, baseball saved me.

The Nats' improbable luck may continue, and then again, it may not. After all, that's baseball, and indeed, that's life. But in the end, that's not what's important. In the end, baseball is back in Washington to stay, and that is all that matters.

And the Beat Goes On

In Iraq, they call events like this "Tuesday."
---William Rivers Pitt, Truthout editorial

Is anybody really surprised that today's bombings in London took place? Given the horrendous mismanagement of our foreign affairs since 9/11 and the shoddy state of security here in the US, the only real surprise is that the attacks didn't take place here, and that they didn't happen sooner.

We failed to go after Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and they have now set up training grounds in Iraq, where there were none before. (Bin Laden is still at large, and no doubt enjoying every minute of this latest chaos.) And let's not even talk about the complete lack of any kind of security at most of our rail stations, ports, and most terrifying of all, nuclear power plants. I ask you, is that bomb sniffing dog I saw today as I entered the subway here in DC really going to save me? (Actually, here in the Nation's Capital, the real terror is the drug and gun culture fostered by urban neglect. But I digress...)

The reality is that funding for emergency services has been cut--that's right, cut--in almost every major city including Washington and New York. (And right here in DC, there is laughably little coordination between our local government and the feds, as evidenced by the recent incident with the passenger plane invading our airspace. Doesn't bode well, does it?) So let's not kid ourselves that we're safe, and let's not make this a partisan issue--let's deal with the problem like adults before something happens again. Now that would be a surprise.


Further reading: Check out this great piece on Americablog.

And this from the Center for American Progress.

Scary stuff.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Things I Like Vol. 26

Ten People/Places/Things That Rock My World

1) Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes
2) Fins Tropicali Grill, Bradley Beach NJ
3) Cherry-flavored Slurpees
4) The Windmill, Ocean Grove NJ-best burgers on the Jersey Shore and a really cool mural
5) Ice cold margaritas with salt
6) Chilled Corona and lime
7) 4th of July, Asbury Park-A History of the Promised Land - Daniel Wolff
8) "Holidays in the Sun" - Sex Pistols
9) - the truth will out
10) Howard Dean-DNC Chair and fly in the ointment

Hero of the Week: John Conyers (who else?), Drum Major for Justice

Villain of the Week: Karl Rove (ditto). How does he sleep at night?

Deep Breath, Count to Ten

"American politics has become a game with no rules and no referee. Play by the old rules--fairness, honesty, good faith--and face political extinction."
---Eric Alterman in The Nation

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) ought to get a medal. Only in this administration, one receives such things for gross incompetence, (L. Paul Bremer III), more gross incompetence (Tommy R. Franks), and still more gross incompetence (George J. Tenet). Tomorrow, the gentleman from Michigan and his brethren will send yet another letter to the White House, this time demanding that Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove explain his central role in the Plame affair, a circumstance that is now officially documented. But alas, this White House doesn't have any honor, and it sure doesn't play by the rules. Good luck getting Mr. Rove to admit to much of anything except being a "patriot."

Oh, and expansion is underway at Arlington National Cemetery. Could this have anything to do with the above referenced incompetence? Just asking.

Go Nats

Any questions?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Ain't That America

I didn't watch the fireworks yesterday. And this is not because there were none to be had, or that viewing them would be difficult. Though (with any luck) I will soon be a permanent resident of Gotham City, I am still a Washington DC homie, and could have watched the fireworks on the National Mall from my bedroom window if I had wanted to. But I didn't.

For the last year or two--hell, since the inception of this "war" we are currently engaged in--I have not felt particularly patriotic, at least in the "rah rah wave the flag sing 'God Bless America'" sort of way. It's a little hard for me to wear the red, white and blue given the values which my beloved country is currently espousing and for which countless young Americans and Iraqis are being maimed and killed.

The America Dr. King believed in--the country I (still) believe in--stands for something different than torture and lawlessness and greed and arrogance, for lying and cheating and subterfuge. It stands for Equal Justice Under Law, for government of the People by the People for the People; for accountability, transparency and fairness.

It is extremely difficult to maintain one's belief in "the system" when it seems corrupted beyond repair; when no one seems to care, when we all seem to be looking after only ourselves. However, it is in circumstances like these, when things are at their most dire, that we need to dig deeper and keep fighting every day for the America that was promised to us, the America (as Mr. Springsteen so eloquently put it) we carry in our hearts. So because I believe in these things, I will not give up.

There will come a day when this country will be forced to awaken from its greedy, solipsistic slumber (and I fear that it will be a rude awakening). But until then, I will not watch the fireworks, I will not wear red, white and blue, I will not sing "God Bless America," I will not wave the flag. Because though I still love my country (despite all its flaws), to do these things would be a betrayal of everything in which I believe. Because I just don't feel it. And because you just don't lie about patriotism.

Monday, July 04, 2005

4th of July, DC

So here I am back in the Nation's Capital after a stellar weekend of music in the Garden State. Stellar, that is, except for the attendance, which was nonexistent. Where was everyone? Home watching Live 8 on MTV? Good God, I hope not, for your sakes.

'Cause you missed the following:

--Author Daniel Wolff signing copies of his amazing new book, 4th of July, Asbury Park at Antic Hay books in AP. Great guy, fascinating and well-researched book, not just about Springsteen's adopted hometown, but about America. Not to be missed.

--John Eddie cranking out an amazing version of "Dead Flowers" after a ridiculously sloppy show before a bunch of drunken hooligans on the South Jersey shore...

--Soozie Tyrell's transcendent smile. Not the best set I've ever seen by her, but she always looks like she's having fun, and isn't that what it's all about?

--Southside Johnny at the Stone Pony. His element. Everything the Jersey Shore music scene is supposed to be about: soul and community...and the music. Not who has the best tan, coolest iPod selection or best Bruce tickets...but the goddamn music. Southside doesn't care who you are or where you come from or what you look like or how you are dressed or where you live or how much money you have or how cool you think you are. The only thing he cares about--has ever cared about--is whether or not you have SOUL. He plays the music of the downtrodden, the unhip, the forgotten, the lonely...and makes it fun and real and inspirational every single night.

So you can take all your "patriotism" and your yellow ribbon magnets on your SUVs and your red white and blue flag t-shirts from Old Navy and stick 'em...'cause if you don't love Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at the Stone Pony on the Fourth of July Weekend., just ain't American...

Friday, July 01, 2005

Conyers Rules

My hero Rep. Conyers is at it again. Perhaps in honor of the Independence Day holiday, the relentless representative from Michigan has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State for materials relating to the Downing Street Minutes and the lead up to the Iraq war. With 52 percent of the American public now saying they believe that the president misled us about Iraq and a resounding 42 percent saying they would support impeachment proceedings if this is found to be true (this is without most of them even being aware of the Downing Street Memos' existence), this is just another sign that the tide has turned.

As we move into the holiday weekend--and the 142nd anniversary another of this nation's turning points--let us remember what this country really stands for, and demand that our government, the institution that works for us, uphold the standards laid out in its Constitution. It is our country, and we should expect nothing less.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
November 19, 1863

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Beyond the Palace

In the better late than never category, I am hereby announcing the arrival of a new website devoted to the history of the storied Palace Amusements complex at the south end of the boardwalk in Asbury Park, N.J. (The site actually launched a little over a month ago, but I am just now getting around to promoting it. My humblest apologies to Bob Crane and his crew at Save Tillie, the initiators of the project).

It was indeed my pleasure to be of some small assistance in bringing this site to its fruition, and I thank Bob and friends for the opportunity to contribute, and for all the work they have done to keep the history of Asbury alive.


In related news, Daniel Wolff (author of an excellent biography of soul legend Sam Cooke) chronicles the history of the city in his new release, 4th of July, Asbury Park--A History of the Promised Land, now available at the Backstreets online store or at an independent retailer near you.

Loose Ends

There are certain songs that just take us back to a particular time and place in our lives, songs we can't listen to without feeling we are there again. I try to avoid hearing "Loose Ends" for this reason. Can't even listen to the clip on the Springsteen website. The longing and heartbreak come over me like a tidal wave and I can't bear it.

It was 1984, I was in L.A. following the Born In the U.S.A. tour with a college friend when I met him. He was a tall California blond, younger than me by a couple years, soft-spoken and naive and easily pursuaded. We talked him and his friend into lot of things--an ill-fated trip to Disneyland, a movie in Westwood. But the main thing we talked him into was driving across the desert to Arizona to see Bruce one last time.

He was young, and he was cute, and I had been cooped up in a women's college for four years. I was 22, and full of adventure and curiousity and lust, and Bruce's nightly lovefest had awakened something new and strange within me.

I made many mistakes on that misadventure, and one of them was falling for him. I had a tape someone had given me -- a collection of unreleased songs including a startling track I had never heard before called "Loose Ends." It was full of romance and longing and wistfulness, and I couldn't stop listening to it. It fascinated and saddened me, made me long for things I couldn't explain and behave in ways I had never dreamed I could. I made a play for him, and was shocked when I found that I had gotten him. I couldn't believe I had that kind of power, had possessed it all along--that song did something to me, gave me strength and belief in myself I didn't know I had.

But the song's emotional truth is not joyful abandon and newfound love, it is loss and longing and heartbreak, and that's what I ended up with when I returned home. For a few short weeks, I had run frantically through slumbering city streets, slept on sidewalks, kissed boys in darkened cars...I had risked everything. This music and this song had opened up this wildness in me...And then I had to let it all go.

So I can't hear this song, can't bear to even think of it. 'Cause I think of him, and those wild, carefree times when anything seemed possible, and it's all too much...

I saw him years later at a Springsteen show in New Jersey. It was short and awkward and strange, and I left wishing I hadn't talked to him, had walked on by and kept walking. You can't go can't and yet something inside you makes you try.

We are left with memories and that is all. And I am left with this song that breaks my heart again and again...


Loose Ends
Words and Music by Bruce Springsteen

We met out on open streets when we had no place to go
I remember how my heart beat when you said I love you so
Then little by little we choked out all the life that our love could hold
Oh no

It's like we had a noose and baby without check
We pulled until it grew tighter around our necks
Each one waiting for the other, darlin', to say when
Well baby you can meet me tonight on the loose end

We didn't count tomorrows, we took what we could and baby we ran
There was no time for sorrow, every place we went I held your hand
And when the night closed in I was sure your kisses told me all I had to know
But oh no


Our love has fallen around us like we said it never could
We saw it happen to all the others but to us it never would
Well how could something so bad, darling, come from something that was so good
I don't know


Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bruce Needs a Shave

I had nothing to do with this...Check out this blog if you don't believe me!

Return of the 'Pod People

Ok, after all the furor my previous post about iPods raised, I have some clarifications to make:

1) Radio still rules. Without it there would be no call-in shows. Radio is interactive. Podcasting is not--I don't care how cool it is (and it is cool)--it is by its very nature isolating, not unifying. (That is, until people start getting together and throwing podcast parties...Can't you just see it? "Hey, let's get a keg and download that last Randi Rhodes show!")

2) I don't care how much my friends think they know about music, history, and life, DJs like Kid Leo, Wolfman Jack, B.B. King (that's right he was a DJ) and Little Steven know infinitely more. And were/are just cooler than you and me. There is no substitute for a great DJ. (And while that includes club DJs, theirs is a different species altogether.) Same thing goes for talk show hosts. There is a reason why some of these people never got on the air. Just cos they can podcast doesn't necessarily make them good.

3) The promo art on albums/CDs/posters/whatever RULES, and is an integral part of this music. If you don't believe me, witness the uproar over Nike's co-opting of Minor Threat's artwork, and some music fans' reactions. Until they come up with a way to beam the artwork into my brain whilst I'm listening to the new Madonna track, it just won't be the same.

4) All this iPod crap is just too damn time-consuming. Uploading, downloading, synching, finding quote one of my favorite characters in Barry Levinson's classic film, Diner: "Who gives a shit? I just wanna hear the music." Make it easier or you won't get my money.

There endeth the lesson.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Ballad of Emmett Till

Today, thanks to the wonderful folks at the Center for American Progress here in Washington, I viewed the moving documentary, The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till (produced and directed by Keith Beauchamp) for the second time.

In 2004, I first saw this stunning work on PBS as part of a special series on civil rights in America. The director, a young African American from Louisiana, became obsessed with the infamous 1955 case after viewing the dead boy's photo in Jet magazine as a child. He dug deeper, using his prodigious skills both as a filmmaker and as an investigative journalist, and found significant new evidence, as well as several key witnesses who had never been questioned. Getting their amazing stories on film and getting the film shown has opened the floodgates; the Justice Department reopened both the Till case, and the case of the 1964 "Freedom Summer" triple murder in Philadelphia, Miss., recently garnering a long overdue conviction in the latter. What once seemed impossible now seems unstoppable--in the words of Dr. King, justice flowing like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Slowly but surely, justice is indeed being done, and a new generation is learning about a dark past which some of us remember all too clearly, a past which is not really that long gone. And it is easy to spout platitudes and feel as though we have moved on from those bad times, that we are somehow "better than that" now. The sad truth is that we are not. Separate but equal is alive and well in the United States if you look closely enough. So are hate and fear and torture and death.

Is it 2005 or 1955? How far have we really come in this country? In Laramie, Wyo., in Jasper, Tex., in Detroit, Mich.--even in New York City--how far have we really come?

The Death of Emmett Till
Words and Music by Bob Dylan

Twas down in Mississippi no so long ago,
When a young boy from Chicago town stepped through a Southern door.
This boy's dreadful tragedy I can still remember well,
The color of his skin was black and his name was Emmett Till.

Some men they dragged him to a barn and there they beat him up.
They said they had a reason, but I can't remember what.
They tortured him and did some evil things too evil to repeat.
There was screaming sounds inside the barn, there was laughing sounds out on the street.

Then they rolled his body down a gulf amidst a bloody red rain
And they threw him in the waters wide to cease his screaming pain.
The reason that they killed him there, and I'm sure it ain't no lie,
Was just for the fun of killin' him and to watch him slowly die.

And then to stop the United States of yelling for a trial,
Two brothers they confessed that they had killed poor Emmett Till.
But on the jury there were men who helped the brothers commit this awful crime,
And so this trial was a mockery, but nobody seemed to mind.

I saw the morning papers but I could not bear to see
The smiling brothers walkin' down the courthouse stairs.
For the jury found them innocent and the brothers they went free,
While Emmett's body floats the foam of a Jim Crow southern sea.

If you can't speak out against this kind of thing, a crime that's so unjust,
Your eyes are filled with dead men's dirt, your mind is filled with dust.
Your arms and legs they must be in shackles and chains, and your blood it must refuse to flow,
For you let this human race fall down so God-awful low!

This song is just a reminder to remind your fellow man
That this kind of thing still lives today in that ghost-robed Ku Klux Klan.
But if all of us folks that thinks alike, if we gave all we could give,
We could make this great land of ours a greater place to live.

Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

Monday, June 27, 2005

In the Grip

How do they find out that my life is total chaos? Who sends them swooping in from the blue to pick me up and shake me and make me feel strange and unsettled and nervous and happy all at once?

I am busy picking up the pieces and moving on in a new place and the last thing I need is to be getting that look from across the room. You know the one, where they look at you then see you looking then look away and look back when they think you won't see them but you do. And this goes on for a while until one of you goes up to the other and stares at the floor, looks at anything but that person who sees right through you who is standing right in front of you consuming you with his eyes.

You feel this tension, it is real and it is palpable and it is scary. You have connected and it is thrilling and terrifying because you no longer have any secrets. You are open and vulnerable and your insides are visible like one of those anatomy class models from grade school. You are angry and sad and hot and cold and shy and overbearing -- and you are frightened of how intense it all has become so fast from nowhere.

I don't need this now, I don't want it and didn't ask for it and it came and landed on my shoulder not like a butterfly but like a vulture with desperate, clingy claws that will not let go.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Chicks Wanna Rock

Chicks dig boys who rock.

This is one of the oldest truisms in rock’n’roll music, and yet it is still so hard for guys to understand. I mean, there they are up on stage wailing their guts out in those tight jeans, the sweat running down their chests making their t-shirts cling suggestively, eyes closed, cradling those guitars like they were women…

I mean, c’mon. To separate sex from rock’n’roll…hell, what do you think the word means? So why is it that I can’t love the music and the musicians without accusations of hormonal lunacy? I am a 40-something year-old woman—dammit, I am a hormonally-charged lunatic! And what, might I ask, is wrong with that? Have you ever seen a teenage boy’s bedroom (or the files/photos he has secretly saved on his PC)? Really, now, the hypocrisy.

This is not to say I don’t appreciate the musicianship, the craft, the lyrics, the style. I love Paul Westerberg for his mind as much as his body—after all, it’s the mind that came up with those amazing words and melodies that haunt my soul. So don’t ever deign to question my seriousness about this music and what it means to me. But, that being said…

I once wrote about boys with guitars, and I stand by my story. Removing sex from music is like removing the engine from a car—all machinery and no power…So gimme a break, will ya, fellas? ‘Cos it’s only boys and rock’n’roll…and I like it.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Hypocrisy 101

I wanna know:

-why is it ok for men to chase women, but not for women to chase men?

-why is it ok for older men to be with younger women, but not ok for older women to be with younger men?

-why it is that when men have strong opinions it's considered intellectual, but when women have them it's considered bitchy?

-who made the rule that if women don't have children they are "unfulfilled"?

-who made the rule that women aren't supposed to understand cars, sports, math or politics

-who made the rule that women who are over 40 are disposable?

If I chase guys, look at younger men, have strong opinions, am childless, drive a stick shift and know how to check the oil, understand soccer, football, baseball, hockey and basketball, enjoy algebra and can talk politics with the best of them and AM STILL HERE...

What am I? Cause I sure as hell can't be a woman...

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Bill of Rights

Because we all need to read it once in a while. And because our "elected" officials at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue seem to have forgotten what it says:

Amendment. 1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment. 11. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment. 111. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment. 1V. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affi rmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment. V. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same off ence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment.V1. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment. V11. In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment. V111. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment. 1X. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment. X. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

It's our country people. Remember that on July 4th when you wave (burn) that flag...

'Pod People

I am one of those people who don’t own an iPod, part of a shrinking majority, I’m afraid. Why don’t I have one? Well, part of it is my innate tendency to go against the grain, to do the opposite of what everyone else does “just because.” The more people say how great something is, the more I want to run for the hills. Just part of my makeup, I guess.

Part of it is laziness, too—do I really want to spend hours uploading every one of the literally hundreds of CDs that I own and then loading them onto that pesky little device? And do I want to eat up my computer’s memory (and yes, I know all about external hard drives and such) with all these damn music files?

But there are two really good fundamental reasons why I don’t have one yet. One: do I really need to carry my entire CD collection around with me wherever I go? Do I need music 24/7? And two: when, where and how will I hear new music if I am constantly plugged into a little gadget that feeds me stuff I already know about?

Let’s take the first question first. Why on earth do I—does anyone—need his or her entire music collection on their person at all times? Are you planning on being trapped on a desert island in the near future? There is such thing as too much of a good thing, after all. And furthermore, speaking for myself, I find that it detracts from my daily experience to be shut off from the aural world when I’m out and about. I rather enjoy looking at people, soaking up the sounds of the city, hearing parts of conversations (well sometimes), birds singing, babies crying, etc. I don’t like to be cut off from the world by my CD collection. Yes, there are times when you need to be cut off, but all the time? It’s part of a writer’s job to observe the world, and it’s hard to do that with the Sex Pistols throbbing in your brain. Besides which, I think it’s kind of dangerous to not be able to hear what’s going on around you when you’re out walking, especially if you’re a woman. But maybe that’s just my urban paranoia.

Second (and more important in my humble opinion), how am I going to hear new music (not to mention talk radio!) if I am constantly plugged into my own CD collection? After all, iPods can only carry music we already own; as of yet they have no radio function. So, gone are the moments of amazing discovery—the times when you get that jolt of electricity from hearing something really cool, and knowing that others are getting that same jolt at exactly the same time. Music is a much more diversified, private, specialized thing now, and that’s too bad. I wanna hear that great AC/DC song for the first time on my car radio at full blast with the wind blowing in my hair and the sun shining on my face while I’m driving by myself on the first day of summer, knowing that somewhere out there, there are other kids who are annoying their parents by turning the volume up to eleven, and maybe somewhere there is a sad kid who doesn’t feel so alone now...I don’t want a sonic blast from Down Under when I’m sitting in my boring little apartment downloading at 2 a.m. in a dark, lonely room. Music is to be shared, and file sharing does that. But it’s just not the same. Besides, I don’t have time to sift through all that music—er, files—and figure out what I need to hear. That’s what good DJs do—they share the music they love with us, and more importantly, they give it context and meaning. They are our best friends; they educate us about life.

I know I am not alone when I say I miss radio the way it used to be. The growth of satellite networks Sirius and XM tells me I am not alone. Yes, there are stations on these networks that cater to very specialized audiences—you know, the people who need to hear Dark Side of the Moon for the umpteenth time—but I believe that there are just as many (if not more) people who want to be challenged by music. Because human beings, though they crave the security of the known, also crave the mystery of the unknown. And that’s what is truly great about radio at its best.

So until those pesky people at Apple include a subscription to Sirius in their little ‘Pods (something about that name always reminds me of Invasion of the Body Snatchers), I’m out. Cos I need that jolt to stay alive…

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Downing Street Revisited

Missed the C-SPAN coverage? Get your DVD copy of the Downing Street forum at's yours for a $20 donation.

I watched the entire three hour, ten minute forum and found it absolutely riveting. We have them running scared now, folks--they are arguing the meaning of the word "fixed," and charging the journalist who released the original document with forgery. No one--repeat--NO ONE--has come forward from the British side to challenge these Downing Street papers, and the Bushies know it.

Keep the heat on: visit and stay informed!

Things I Like Vol. 25

Ten People/Places/Things That Rock My World

1) The Stephanie Miller Show - coming to you on the Jones and Sirius Satellite Radio Networks
2) "Float Away With the Friday Night Gods" - Marah (live 2005 version)
3) Corona and lime - one is not enough
4) Margaritas, frozen or on the rocks - Patron or Cuervo only, baby!
5) CBGB, New York NY - save this historic landmark now!
6) The congressional "Out of Iraq" Caucus - it's about time!
7) My Depression - A Picture Book - Elizabeth Swados
8) Glaceau vitamin water - any flavor
9) Municipal Stadium, Hagerstown MD - the way baseball should be
10) The Washington Nationals, burning up the NL East!

Hero of the Week (tie): Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), organizer of the Downing Street Memo forum, Cindy Sheehan, Founder of Gold Star Mothers Against the War, Attorney Joseph Bonifaz of AND Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson -- the truth will not be silenced!

Villain of the Week: Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) - the spineless wonder of Capitol Hill

Blogcritics in the House

Just a brief note to announce that, the site where I edit the politics section, has been selected to be among the inaugural AlwaysOn and Technorati "Open Media 100" - the "power list" of bloggers, social networkers, tool smiths, and investors leading the "Open Media Revolution." This is apparently a pretty big deal as these things go.

See link below for story. (Not that I had anything to do with it...) makes the AlwaysOn and Technorati "Open Media 100"

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Philadelphia Story

Today in Philadelphia, Miss., a great wrong was rectified--somewhat. Though Klansmen Edgar Ray Killen was only convicted on a manslaughter charge and not the more appropriate charge of first degree murder (which in this case was applicable under Mississippi law), the families of slain civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, Mickey Schwerner and James Chaney may now gain some measure of satisfaction that both the state of Mississippi and the country at large have finally acknowledged their complicity in the racial terrorism of the past.

The sins of the past can never be erased, however; we can't bring those young men back, nor can we compensate their families for all the pain and suffering which their deaths caused. We can, however, seek to bring about the more just society toward which they were working. While we worry about foreign terrorist threats that seem to exist only in the imaginations of opportunistic fear-mongers, there is real terror happening in this country: the terror of hunger and homelessness and disease that exists both in our inner cities and rural hamlets, on the streets and behind closed doors. Poverty is real, unemployment and hopelessness and despair are real. There is physical and emotional violence being done to the weakest and most needy of our society every single day. The true terrorist threat is not from a bomb or a virus; it is the harm we as a country do to ourselves when we look the other way.

So let the souls of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney rest in peace tonight, but let us not give up their fight for the beloved community of which Dr. King dreamed. We owe them that as surely as we owed them today's verdict.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity..
-----Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fuck and Run

And now ladies and gentlemen, just 'cause that's how I feel right now, some Liz Phair for you:

Fuck and Run

I woke up alarmed
I didn't know where I was at first
Just that I woke up in your arms
And almost immediately I felt sorry
'Cause I didn't think this would happen again
No matter what I could do or say
Just that I didn't think this would happen again
With or without my best intentions, and
What ever happened to a boyfriend
The kind of guy who tries to win you over, and
What ever happened to a boyfriend
The kind of guy who makes love cause he's in it, and

I want a boyfriend
I want a boyfriend
I want all that stupid old shit
Like letters and sodas
Letters and sodas

You got up out of bed
You said you had a lot of work to do
But I heard the rest in your head
And almost immediately I felt sorry
'Cause I didn't think this would happen again
No matter what I could do or say
Just that I didn't think this would happen again
With or without my best intentions, and

I want a boyfriend
I want a boyfriend
I want all that stupid old shit
Like letters and sodas
Letters and sodas

I can feel it in my bones
I'm gonna spend another year alone
It's fuck and run
Fuck and run
Even when I was seventeen
Fuck and run
Fuck and run
Even when I was twelve

You almost felt bad
You said that I should call you up but
I knew much better than that
And almost immediately I felt sorry
'Cause I didn't think this would happen again
No matter what I could do or say
Just that I didn't think this would happen again
With or without my best intentions

And I can feel it in my bones
I'm gonna spend my whole life alone
It's fuck and run
Fuck and run
Even when I was seventeen
Fuck and run
Fuck and run
Even when I was twelve

Copyright Liz Phair, 1993

Aw fuck it, sometimes I just wish I was a guy.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Downing St. Rally

This man is my hero. After a long day of emotional testimony in a cramped basement room, he came to rally the troops. Rock on, Brother John!

Sisters are doin' it for themselves...Rep. Maxine Waters and friends in full effect!

Photos courtesy

Don't forget to watch the replay of yesterday's forum on C-SPAN 2 at 8 p.m.


Let America Be America Again

Today, in honor of the upcoming Juneteenth holiday, and in tribute to the heroic John Conyers, I am turning things over to poetry. Mr. Hughes, are you out there?

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Tipping Point - 6/16/05

"This date [June 16, 2005] is a turning point in history."
---Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder, Code Pink

Today we reached the tipping point.

Today, when we rallied for peace and justice and accountability in the shadow of the White House, when the fearless Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) knocked on its door to deliver his petition--a petition demanding an explanation of the facts surrounding the Downing Street Memo (and one that has been signed by over 560,000 people), when he held a forum on that same memo in a shabby little room because the majority party childishly denied him use of House property (property that we the taxpayers pay for and which belongs to us), when representatives of a growing movement stood across from the White House in the brilliant sunshine of Lafayette Park and demanded accountability from the Bush administration--today we have tipped the balance.

There on the lawn, as a stiff breeze rustled through the trees and buffeted the flags atop the White House, we celebrated the beginning of the end of the Bush era. It was hard not to get goosebumps; sometimes you just know when something big is afoot, when the tide has turned. Today, you could feel it in your bones.

There is blood in the water now. When high ranking State Department officials resign their positions in protest, when both Democrats and Republicans sign a resolution demanding a time frame for troop withdrawal from Iraq, when 42 angry congresspeople led by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) form a "Get Out of Iraq" Caucus, when the parents of servicepeople killed in Iraq form an antiwar organization, when the president receives a letter signed by 89 members of congress asking whether the allegations of the infamous British memo are true--when Tom Hayden shows up--well, it is safe to say something deep and profound and powerful has changed.

An overjoyed Cindy Sheehan, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, told us this afternoon that justice for the dead and maimed (and for us all) was finally coming. As she stood there relating to us how this was the happiest day of her life since her son Casey had been killed in Iraq over a year ago, a knot of press buzzed around the White House gate, jockeying for position so they could witness Rep. Conyers and his delegation as they strode proudly toward them to deliver his historic petition to the Executive Mansion. It was a goosebump moment, and it was unforgettable.

You don't always get to be there when history happens, and even when you do, you don't always recognize it when you see it. But today, as representatives of a diverse coalition of both activists and ordinary people gathered to hold the Bush White House accountable for its criminal lies and subterfuge, and for trampling our very Constitution, the feeling was unmistakable. It was the Beginning of the End of the Bush Era, and we were there. We the people had spoken truth to power, and we weren't just witnessing history, we were making it.



Please visit Rep. Waters' website for further information on the "Out of Iraq" Caucus as it becomes available. And be sure and thank the 42 members (and counting) of the caucus for standing up to the Bush administration's Big Lie. They did something unprecedented today, and they deserve our support.

Also deserving of our moral and financial support are the following organizations which represent just a fraction of the hundreds that comprise the After Downing Street coalition. They are on the front lines doing the people's work every day, and for that we thank them:

Code Pink
Gold Star Families for Peace
Military Families Against the War
Progressive Democrats of America
Veterans for Peace

The Conyers forum was carried on C-SPAN 3 today after an outraged public demanded media coverage. It will be rebroadcast on C-SPAN 2 tomorrow (Friday June 17) at 8 p.m., and can also be viewed at a variety of Internet sources including C-SPAN online.

I Want Them Back

Sometimes you just get angry. There are things that happen in your life that you can't control, both bad and good, that's a given. But some days I just feel like I have been robbed, like things have been taken from me and I am impotent with rage and I want them back.

I want that year back, the one I spent being sick with cancer and having surgery twice and I was in a scary car accident. The one in which I had endless tests and frightening after effects and multiple other health ailments and moved to a new state and couldn't find a job and was treated cruelly by my boyfriend's parents and ended up with a job that I hated.

I want the time back from all those other crappy jobs I took after that because I was sad and scared and I hated myself.

I want that time back, the semester in college when I suffered incapacitating depression and could barely get out of bed for six months. I want all those months of all those other depressions back, too.

I want that year back, the one in high school when I was angry and miserable and facing the ugly, bitter dissolution of my parents' marriage virtually alone.

I want those two years back, the time in middle school when my father had life-threatening surgery and was in a rehab hospital because that surgery went awry, and my mother traveled to out of town to visit him every other weekend, and I had to babysit my younger sister and brother.

I want that time back that I spent hating myself and settling for less and ending up with nothing.

I want those children I never had even if I probably shouldn't have had them for several very good reasons.

I want all of it back. We all want stuff back. But just because you are suddenly middle aged and you think you have somehow deserved better than life has given you--that you are now owed a second chance because you can't go back and fix things--that doesn't mean you will get one. The bad decisions you make and then have to live with, the random shit that just happens--that stuff is immutable. All you can do is keep looking relentlessly forward, push the past out of your mind and move on and do the best you can. It may not always be good enough, but you have to try.

It could be worse; hell, it could always be worse. I should be happy I'm still here, I guess, happy with what I have and what I have been given and what I have learned from it all, and with the friends and family that I am fortunate to have around me.

But some days I can't help it; I see the time I have wasted, the opportunities I have squandered, the mistakes I have made--and I look and I see all the things that have been taken from me without asking, and I want them all back.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Path to War, Iraq Style

Anyone who has had difficulty following the ongoing story of the release of a series of astounding official documents from the British government regarding the buildup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq should check out this amazing timeline brought to us by the always excellent staff of The Raw Story. (For those of you not familiar with this website/gift from God, it is what Matt Drudge would be doing if he were a) a liberal and b) a real journalist. But back to the topic at hand.)

This is staggering stuff. That this kind of brazen manipulation and subterfuge is going on does not surprise me in the slightest--after all, I am a child of the Watergate era. What does surprise me is the utter complicity of the so-called mainstream media, and the failure of even one Republican in either the House or Senate to admit that the Emperor Has No Clothes. Hell, during Watergate, many of the guys running the show (Sen. Howard Baker, for example) were members of the same party as the president whose administration they were investigating. How ridiculous does this have to get before someone does something about all this up there on that Hill? How many more Iraqis and Americans have to die needlessly? When will someone, anyone finally be held accountable for this mess?

I shudder to think.


In the meantime, get informed and get involved:
After Downing Street
Code Pink - Women for Peace
International Answer
United for Peace & Justice


Today I'm going to talk about sex, otherwise known as the National Obsession. I mean, after all, we are all waiting with bated breath whilst the verdict in the Michael Jackson trial is being decided. To say that America has sex on the brain is not hyperbole, it is fact.

An interesting thing happens to us female types when we reach a Certain Age; we hit our so-called sexual peak. After years of being mystified by men's sexual monomania, this mania suddenly overtakes us, too. Out of nowhere, we become like fourteen-year-old boys; thinking about it all the time, obsessing, looking lustfully at the opposite sex like we never have before.

Pathetic thing is, of course, that men our age are generally not interested; they are busy dealing with their own mid-life crises, as well as career and personal issues. They generally are looking to the sweet young things for satisfaction of a physical nature, in desperate attempts to recapture lost youth. Turnabout being fair play, however, we Women of a Certain Age also look to the twenty-somethings for satisfaction, and often find them quite amenable to suddenly finding a Mrs. Robinson in their lives.

Where does all this lead? Certainly not to emotional satisfaction; that is an entirely different matter for both genders. Generally speaking, we both need to make an intellectual connection for the emotions to be involved. Which brings me to my situation. Being the open and chatty sort, I pretty much tell people as much about me as they can stand to hear without any consideration of the effect it may have, or of the potential consequences. That tends to be pretty scary to some people, even overwhelming. But that's how I am--all or nothing. Can't help it. Combine this with the circumstances described above and you have a pretty big mess on your hands. To say that I am frustrated, starved, obsessed, maniacal is just plain understating the case.

So when they look, I look back. When they come up to chat, I listen. When they offer to buy me drinks and hear my story, I am drawn in. But though I am "attractive" and "enticing," I am also intense, smothering, overwhelming. I am Too Much To Handle. Great to look at, fun to be with, but Impossible. Don't come too close or you will be sucked into the vortex. (Must be a sign hanging over my head.)

So...I have lots of "friends," and nothing else. Passion is too scary for most people; it involves both emotional and physical connection, and ultimately, commitment. I have felt that passion of late, however, and I burn with it yet. It is hot, it is intense, and it is unsatisfied.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

On the Road Again

Sometimes being on the road, playing the role of troubadour or itinerant journalist or wandering traveler isn’t running away; sometimes it’s who you are.

Ask Bob Dylan. He’s been on the road virtually non-stop for years, yet no one dares to ask him who or what he’s running from, or even if he’s running at all. (Well, almost no one.) Everything he does is unquestioned, unquestionable. That’s just Bob, that’s who he is. Yes, he is playing some odd venues with some unusual cohorts. But when you think about it, what else should he be doing with himself? And why should we even care?

There is a great piece by Bill Wyman in today’s New York Times in which he attempts to place Dylan in the tradition of his heroes Big Joe Williams, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and Lightnin' Hopkins: people who refused to give their audiences what they wanted to hear, who challenged, upset the balance, who laid it on the line every night because it was both their job and their calling; it was who they were. Similarly, Wyman tells us that Dylan sees live performance as his mode of expression, his art. He prods and cajoles fellow artists who don’t see things the same way, famously telling Patti Smith to get her butt back on the road after 16 years. “He told me I should share what I do with the people,” as Smith is quoted in the piece. Dylan biographer Jonathan Cott puts it best later in the article: "I've thought about it, and I know it's a cliché, but I think he finds himself on the road - 'finds' in both senses of the word. I think for him the goal is the road."

What, indeed, is wrong with that? Perhaps there are some people whose minds just work differently, people who are never truly at peace, who constantly need to move on, see new things, confront new challenges. For them, it is the standing still that does not compute; it is the failure to question, to dig deeper, to move that seems like running away. To them, the people who settle down are, in a sense, hibernating, wrapping themselves in cocoons so as to not face things.

So there are, in essence, two types of people: those who restlessly travel life’s highways, and those who find peace in its quiet corners. And fundamentally, neither of these is the “right” way to be. What’s important, ultimately, is the connections one makes throughout life: friends, family, lovers…

Only connect, said Forster, only connect…

Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

----Bob Dylan, “Mr. Tambourine Man” Copyright © 1964; renewed 1992 Special Rider Music

Saturday, June 11, 2005


But I've left behind the man I used to be
Everything he believed and all that belonged to me…

Now I don't know who to trust and I don't know what I can believe
They say they want to help me but with the stuff they keep on sayin'
I think those guys just wanna keep on playin'
Roulette with my life….

From "Roulette" Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

What do you do when everything and everybody lets you down? Where do you go? In whom do you put your trust? These are hard questions to answer, especially when everyone has his or her own separate agendas. How do you see that? How do you see who is trustworthy, and who is just out to take what can be taken? It’s hard being that solitary figure in the darkness on the edge of town, stripped of everything that was once important, but knowing that there are certain things that you will never ever give up on no matter what, that no one and nothing can take away from you no matter how hard they try. Where do you turn?

The answer is you turn to yourself, you rely on no one but yourself because you are the only one who looks out for you and no one else. You can never really know another person, never know what is going on inside someone else’s head. You can know someone for years and this person can commit the worst sort of heinous acts against you seemingly from nowhere. It’s hard not to trust people, especially when your nature is to trust. It’s hard not to be open and honest and forthright; you want to trust other people because that’s how human relationships are formed. But in the end, you can’t. And that’s too bad. Because it's a hard, cruel world out there, and even harder to live in it alone.