Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Last Friday, Willie Nelson was busted for pot in Siera Blanca, Texas. According to news reports, border patrol agents found six ounces of marijuana on Willie's tour bus. Six ounces of the stuff is a felony with a potential minimum of 180 days in a county jail and a maximum of two years, with a $10,000 fine. According to Fox News, the 77-year-old singer will likely do time in jail.

Marijuana is nothing new, of course, and it goes back further than the hippies and the beats and the crazy musicians. This clip is from the 1934 film "Murder at the Vanities."

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Novelist Jonathan Lethem discusses bogus nostalgia for a perfect Brooklyn, whether or not "hipster" is a pejorative term, and how novel writing is like mountain climbing. Yes, he's all over the map. If you've read any of Lethem's novels (and if you haven't, we suggest you begin with "Fortress of Solitude") you'll be familiar with his wide range of interests and quick wit. In this interview he is no different. Less eagle than egret, Lethem lights from tussock to tussock, off-kilter and herky-jerky, an apparently flightless bird poking awkwardly through the reeds, and then surprises us by taking flight on impossibly graceful wings with a fish in his bill. He shouldn't be able to do that, but he pulls it off. His protagonists are a motley crew of disheveled academics, dope peddlers, neurotics, musicians, a boy with magical powers, a detective with Tourettes. They seem hopelessly earthbound at first glance, but Lethem lifts them into the sky.

Here's an excerpt from "Motherless Brooklyn":

Minna's Court Street was the old Brooklyn, a placid ageless surface alive underneath with talk, with deals and casual insults, a neighborhood political machine with pizzeria and butchershop bosses and unwritten rules everywhere. All was talk except for what mattered most, which were unspoken understandings. The barbershop, where he took us for identical haircuts that cost three dollars each, except even that fee was waived for Minna--no one had to wonder why the price of a haircut hadn't gone up since 1966, nor why six old barbers were working, mostly not working, out of the same ancient storefront, where the Barbicide hadn't been changed since the product's invention (in Brooklyn, the jar bragged), where other somewhat younger men passed through constantly to argue sports and wave away offers of haircuts; the barbershop was a retirement home, a social club, and front for a backroom poker game. The barbers were taken care of because this was Brooklyn, where people looked out. Why would the prices go up, when nobody walked in who wasn't part of this conspiracy, this trust?--though if you spoke of it you'd surely meet with confused denials, or laughter and a too-hard cuff on the cheek. Another exemplary mystery was the "arcade," a giant storefront paneled with linoleum, containing three pinball machines, which were in constant use, and six or seven video games, Asteroids, Frogger, Centipede, all pretty much ignored, and a cashier, who'd change dollars to quarters and accept hundred dollar bills folded into lists of numbers, names of horses and football teams. The curb in front of the arcade was lined with Vespas, which had been a vogue a year or two before but now sat permanently parked, without anything more than a bicycle lock for protection, a taunt to vandals. A block away, on Smith, they would have been stripped, but here they were pristine, a curbside Vespa showroom. It didn't need explaining--this was Court Street. And Court Street, where it passed through Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, was the only Brooklyn, really--north was Brooklyn Heights, secretly a part of Manhattan, south was the harbor, and the rest, everything east of the Gowanus Canal (the only body of water in the world, Minna would crack each and every time we drove over it, that was ninety percent guns), apart from small outposts of civilization in Park Slope and Windsor Terrace, was an unspeakable barbarian tumult.

In October, Jonathan Lethem gave the following interview to Big Think:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


"Arctic Blast," that's what they're calling it on TV--I guess it's supposed to sound dangerous and thrilling but it sounds like something you buy at Dairy Queen. "I'll have an Arctic Blast and a Dilly Bar, Please." What it means is fiercely cold weather and snow and ice for the past three days. Everything is shut down, including UW (they rarely close) so work has been called off for the second day in a row. With a windchill factor bringing the temp down to five degrees or so, and with snow on top of sheet of ice, people don't realize how treacherous it is outside. We bundled up and hiked to the store yesterday and it was beautiful and the snow crunched. We've seen a few bent street signs and a few wrecks (including an eighteen-wheeler that was sheared in two) and this video will show you why. Make sure you watch the whole thing because a Metro bus comes sliding through near the end, and you don't want to miss it. Hope it clears up a little for Thanksgiving. In the meantime, we're having hot coffee and pancakes. Snow day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


We're getting awfully close to Thanksgiving and this old bird is getting nervous. Shielded by Bush tax cuts, this upper crust turkey has squeaked by for years untouched--but the crowd has never been this hungry. The peasants are sharpening their axes. Wait, this just in: our dapper turkey has been spared again--this time by Democrats. The old bird is safe, for now. Once again, there will be no axes for the top 2%. In related news, America is buying stockpiles of cranberry jelly.

For some dysfunctional holiday fun, don't miss our rollicking tale of Thanksgiving with the family here. Have a happy holiday!

Monday, November 22, 2010


We've loved impersonations ever since we were kids. There's something miraculous about a good mimic, and over the years we've been enthralled with the magic of Frank Gorshin and Rich Little and Frank Caliendo and Kevin Pollack and Kevin Spacey. Give us enough to drink, and we might baffle you with a half-bad Christopher Walken, or Brando in "On The Waterfront," but we're not kidding ourselves--entertaining a group of inebriated friends is nothing like going on national TV with your impersonations--and singing to boot! Here's a great set from Jimmy Fallon--a musical set with an uncanny impersonation of seventies-era Neil Young singing a Willow song, "Whip My Hair." Neil is joined by an uncanny impersonation of the young Bruce Springsteen--played by Bruce himself. Hilarious.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


This is funny. If language offends you, skip it, but the familiar--no, overly familiar phrase--that pops up again and again will surprise you. Are screenwriters simply relying on hackneyed cliches? Of course. And you love it. That's what they're banking on. You want the familiar, the entertaining, the easy--not some offbeat creative and unpredictable "art house" movie where anything can happen. That's too close to real life! When you pay good money you want exactly the same thing you got last time, whether it's a comforting meal or a trite Hollywood movie, and what's wrong with that?

Nothing. Maybe we're just jaded. We're not snobs but we watch a lot of films, and after a while the patterns, cliches and formulas start cropping up. Sure, dissecting a film can spoil the fun, but after a while you scratch your head and say "haven't we seen this one before?" Well, you have and you haven't. Originality has never been the hallmark of the Hollywood screenwriter, and the hacks seem to crank out the same film over and over since most people enjoy these familiar stories and stock characters and boilerplate plots. While Art may challenge the mind with the unfamiliar, Entertainment gives us exactly what we (think) we want. Over and over. What are screenwriters writing this very minute? Revisions of last year's hits. They're not just playing you for fools, they're relying on proven formulas and you can't blame them because writing is hard. They go for the easy plot-twist, the easy laugh, the easy catch-phrase because it's easy, obviously, and easier than creating something highly original and creative that you probably don't want to see, anyway. Give the people what they want and never give a sucker an even break.

On the other hand, what is wrong with these hacks? Can't they come up with something new? They get millions to deliver this tripe and they should earn those damn Malibu beach houses and those Porsches and those hair-plugs. Regurgitating the same old cud just drives us to foreign films (that, generally-speaking, are more challenging) and literary novels (God forbid) and forces us to abandon the theaters in droves. Honestly, we love going to the movies but there is NOTHING of interest playing: a quick glance turns up a typical romantic-comedy, a children's movie, a slasher remake of a Japanese slasher, and a simplistic testosterone-fueled action picture that would make "Die Hard" look like "Little Dorrit." Forget the hassle! Thank God we have our Netflix and our little Roku box--which we love--or we'd have a hard time finding any good movies. That might sound snobbish, but grab your newspaper and tell us we're wrong. In the meantime, watch this collection of film clips.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


"Nine Pound Hammer," Merle Travis

The great Merle Travis singing his song, "Nine Pound Hammer." Travis was born in 1917 in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, coal country made famous in the John Prine song "Paradise." Travis often wrote songs about the hard life and exploitation of coal miners, and his hits include "Sixteen Tons" and "Dark as a Dungeon," as well as this classic. (Full disclosure: We named this blog after the song.)

"Nine Pound Hammer" is related to "Spike Driver Blues," another hammer-swinging song, recorded in the twenties by Mississippi John Hurt, and loosely based on "John Henry," the mythical steel-driving man. "This is the hammer that killed John Henry," he sings, "but it won't kill me." This is a song of defiance, a song of resistance...and, ultimately, escape. "Take this hammer," he tells his co-worker, another spike driver, "and take it to the captain. Tell him I'm gone."

"Spike Driver Blues" by Mississippi John Hurt

These songs are country folk and blues, people's music, not the stuff that got on the radio, not the candy-coated production numbers that placated the masses and assured them "happy days are here again." These songs told simple secret truths and people played them themselves, with no intermediary business making once red cent off the transaction.

Plenty of people have covered these songs over the years from Chet Atkins to Marianne Faithful to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and we have a few "new" favorites of these old classics.

The Stable Jammers do a nice loose Hammer--something for Thanksgiving, maybe.

The Stable Jammers are alive and well over at Steam Powered Studio, a listener-sponsored studio you should visit. (Sponsorship costs $20-50 a month). Check it out here.

And here's our p;d pal Laura "Two Beers" Veirs with a sweet slow version of Spike Driver:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


You talking to me? A Thanksgiving vignette from a couple New Yorkers. Now stop busting my balls.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. As previously noted, this is the season of the decorative gourds. The autumn leaves are beautiful gold and brown and floating down from the trees, but that's just window dressing compared to the real psychodrama of the holiday season, the high-stakes, high-stress melange of overeating, heavy drinking, unreal expectations, off-kilter family dynamics and good old weapons-grade nostalgia for a past that never really happened. Don't get me wrong--I love the holidays--but it's good to remember we're bound for the perfect storm and we ought to make sure our vessel is seaworthy. This dinghy has weathered many a holiday and we proudly fly the family flag, but it's time to batten the hatches and maybe scrape off some barnacles before the annual voyage into these familiar and sometimes treacherous waters.

In the past, before the term "dysfunction" became a household word (not to mention a cottage industry), the holiday was a lightning rod for "family fights" over at my cousins' place. Let's call them "The Hatfields." Every year, without fail, fists would fly at The Hatfields'. There would be a knock-down, drag-out wrasslin' match fueled by Four Roses and bad wiring, which the Hatfields had in abundance, and our poor cousins would inevitably drift over to our house with big hollow eyes and empty stomachs, telling us quietly that "Mom and Dad had a fight." Our house was a relatively safe sanctuary where they could lick their wounds before returning home to clean the turkey off the walls and pick their parents off the floor. Our house wasn't perfect, by any means, but it was warm and sustaining, comparatively-speaking. You walked in and the kitchen smells pulled you forward into the holiday.

Mom would start cooking the holiday meal several days in advance, fired by black coffee and zero sleep. Dad would sharpen the knives for the ceremonial turkey carving, his traditional role which no one could do nearly as well. After seventeen hours in the oven, a per-pound equation calculated with a slide-rule, the bird was presented. Dad addressed the turkey, considering it as thoughtfully as a surgeon (Dad is a doctor, but not that kind). After scrubbing down with hot water and soap, he would return in OR scrubs with a razor-sharp chef's knife. He studied the poultry again, with the knife poised above the shiny brown skin. This was no time to crack a joke, but sometimes it was impossible to avoid. If you joked, Dad would start over. Before the incision he might hush the room and utter something like "Will somebody turn that damn music down! I can't hear myself think!" And then, in absolute silence, he would make the first incision.

Pilgrims we were not, but we gladly shared our bounty with others, including my Mom's sister's crew (a different crew than The Hatfields, let's call them "The McCoys") and they would bring a pie or some warm oysters of unknown provenance, but it wasn't about payback. The cornucopia spilled forth without questions, and it didn't matter if cousins brought their current temporary boyfriends and they ate enough for two, or even if they raided the bathroom medicine cabinet for pharmaceutical hors d-oeuvres because it was a holiday, dammit, and it was all about giving thanks. So give some thanks. Now my sisters have grown up and gotten married and they have their own beautiful hungry children, and their own crazy opinions, and all thirty-nine of us cluster around the beautiful dark oak table (and the adjacent rickety card tables and TV trays) and devour the holiday bird and all the trimmings. It's possible someone may comment on the excellent food, or thank Mom, the exhausted chef, but this isn't likely. More likely, the surly anti-social elements will make comments about the giant jocks loaded on anabolic steroids colliding in slow-motion instant replay on TV, or comment on the merits of the wine they brought, or comment about poultry, in specific and general terms, such as the time one brother-in-law insisted turkeys were the smartest animals in the world, a "fact" we all absorbed in stunned silence as we ate our turkey, shocked that somehow chimpanzees and dolphins were out of the running, but one smart-ass at the table offered a clever riposte (not too loudly, for fear of upsetting the proverbial apple cart of the family dynamic) that turkeys must be smart if they stare up into rainclouds until they drown, since suicide is generally considered a moral crime of the larger-brained animals, mostly man. This sailed right over the congregation, but the in-law in question was forced to amend his original assertion with "I'm talking WILD turkeys" as if we were too dumb to understand the subtle distinction, and then, as if to punish us for our stupidity, ate all the potatoes with grim determination.

Ah, thanksgiving! To know it is to love it. It is a day to celebrate and give thanks. This year we'll be giving thanks to Tryptophan and hard liquor. God knows none of us are perfect, and when we love someone we forgive them their foibles and try to let go of some of our own issues. Christ said something like that at his last supper, but of course it was his last supper. He might have been less beatific if John had eaten all the potatoes, say, or if Thomas, ever the doubter, had questioned the intelligence of fowl in specific or general terms, or if Judas had scarfed down Christ's Vicodin. Or maybe he would have remained infinitely patient and loving and blessed them all, even the apostles who hadn't brought a thing, and maybe he would have sighed and said, What the hell, I'll just turn more water into wine.

Monday, November 15, 2010


If dreams came true, ahhhh wouldn't that be nice? After years of playing clubs on the Jersey Shore and releasing a couple albums everything changed for the E Street Band with the release of "Born to Run." It was a certified popular hit with Springsteen combining the lyrics of Dylan with the longing of Roy Orbison and some Phil Spector Wall of Sound production. That was the plan, anyway. It was a great album. After that success, everyone expected the next record to a big soul-filling follow-up, but the car spun out of control. The wheels fell off. The gas tank exploded. There was a legal battle over the music, and there was a creative battle to wrestle some music from the wreckage. The record that followed was "Darkness on the Edge of Town."

Darkness on the Edge of Town, 1978

They're still racing out at the Trestles
But that blood it never burned in her veins
Now I hear she's got a house up in Fairview
And a style she's trying to maintain
Well if she wants to see me
You can tell her that I'm easily found
Tell her there's a spot out 'neath Abram's Bridge
And tell her there's a darkness on the edge of town

Hipsters may have never forgiven Springsteen for his mid-eighties popularity (and muscles) and they opted for college radio tunes or outright punk, and the mainstream MTV kids moved on to synthetic haircut bands and the latest pop confections, but before that a man in a snakeskin jacket had to fight his way out of a burning building like Brando in The Fugitive Kind. This music wasn't Top 40. This was dark and brooding and full of demons, not your background soundtrack for clubbing and partying or slam-dancing. Guitars slashed and burned. Hearts burst into flames. Listen to the scorching solo in "Prove it All Night" from the 1978 tour--smack dab in the middle of the darkness this thing cuts through like an acetylene torch. This was more than an album of pop songs about girls and cars, this was about heartache and redemption and loss. Like he said, Mr., I ain't a boy I'm a man. You want it, you take it, you pay the price.

Prove it All Night, 1978

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Ron Charles of the Washington Post discusses the finer points of a fierce competition gripping the nation and hints at the likely winner. No, we're not talking about the goddamn Oregon Ducks. Yes, we know football is great and we're not casting doubts on your manly love for the game--we're just acting snarky about another grueling, muscle-bound, adrenaline-infused competition that somehow slipped under the Great American Radar--the National Book Awards. You might think nobody gives a damn since nobody reads, but you might be wrong. Books are cool. Really. And the awards are heated and full of (implied) violence and aggression. You watched the game, right? Imagine your favorite writers in the same spot with only nine minutes and 25 seconds left in a knockdown, dragout battle. You've had a couple stadium-sized Duck beers, a Duck Dog, and a big greasy order of Duck Nachos but they only gave you a teensy square of wax paper to use as a napkin--but that's okay, your beloved Ducks are up by two. You feel confident. Oregon has had a tremendous run this season--not unlike Jonathan Franzen, author of the much-acclaimed "Freedom" and seen on the cover of Time Magazine, virtually unheard of for a literary figure since the golden age of fiction--and everyone expects a clean sweep. And yet, and yet, just as you sit there on your Ducks pillow with your Ducks blanket over your lap, and your green Ducks carcoat over your shoulders, and your big yellow "O" painted on your forehead--they tell you the top-ranked Oregon Ducks--pride of Eugene and butt-slapping fanboys statewide--aren't even in the running! Your big green web-footed quackers are totally dissed! How can this be??? The injustice! After this charmed season, the emerald fowls of Autzen Stadium have been snubbed! Oh! My! God!

Well, you get the idea. The literary equivalent of just such a thunderous challenge and subsequent humiliation has occurred in the National Book Awards this year, and book critic Ron Charles will tell you about it with manly wit and vigor.


Thursday, November 11, 2010


Sadly, it sounds as if the Obama Administration will cave in on the Bush tax cuts. We're greatly disappointed. Bush gave the richest of the rich the sweetest deal, and we'd like them to pay their fair share, as radical as that might sound, especially now that the country is going broke. Frightening data shows the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer at an unprecedented rate. The divide is greater than it has been since The Great Depression. A recent study on taxes in Washington State showed that the rich pay 2.6 percent in taxes, while the poor pay a whopping 17 percent. We're not advocating Class War--not yet, anyway--we'd just like to see something a hair closer to economic justice. In that spirit, we present the decadence of the Ruling Class in this hilarious remix of Federico Fellini's classic, "La Dolce Vita."

It's never easy being rich: endless tax avoidance, the Sisyphean search for reliable domestic staff, the never-ending burden of surly stares from the Great Sea of the Unwashed as one goes about one's rightful business. Toughest of all is simply keeping track of everything one owns. There's so much of it. And personal possessions are just the beginning.

You must keep a gimlet eye, too, on the myriad people and institutions that safeguard your gilded status: politicians, newspapers, financial instruments, branches of government. They all belong to you. But staying on top of what they're up to is a full time job. What's an overstretched gazillionaire to do?

Good question! The film remix was part of the publicity for the publication of "Rich People Things" by Chris Lehmann. The quotations are from the book. As our pal Tom Frank, author of "The Wrecking Crew," blurbs: "What a delight it is to have--finally!--an entire book in which Chris Lehmann gives the mountebanks and plutocrats of this world the drubbing they deserve--in delicious detail and at satisfying length. His scoffing is a tonic."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


William F. Buckley vs. Noam Chomsky, 1969

Ego. It's the greatest word of our time. We fight to defend it and no one can back down. If asked to name the greatest fights of the century you might name Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, or Max Baer vs. Joe Louis, or Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Rocky Graziano--great fights by professional boxers--but few would come up with these intellectual pugilists throwing the verbal equivalent of punches, jabs and hooks, crosses and uppercuts. Sometimes they fall back against the ropes and take a pummeling. Some are fast on their feet, and some plod like flatfooted drunks in the late rounds. Some fights are won by decision, others by knockout. Here are a few classic matches by two-fisted intellectuals.

William F. Buckley vs. Gore Vidal, August 1968

They call boxing the "sweet science," and the pros make it a sport but some nut in a bar has no science whatsoever--and the same is so with these intellectuals. They have style in abundance, they drip style, but too easily they lose their cool and start telegraphing punches and swinging for the rafters. Or playing to the crowd. Ego again. A boxing coach might tell you to cut the fancy stuff and use a straight punch against an unskilled opponent, some barroom brawler throwing haymakers. Avoid the fancy footwork and the short-range punches like hooks and uppercuts, and most of all don't start hurling insults which only make matters worse. If you must fight, win the argument with as little force as necessary, relying on facts not ad hominem attacks. Better yet, don't fight. After all, most people won't change their opinions because of your wonderful skills. Besides, it's like wrestling with a pig--you end up covered in muck and the pig likes it.

Gore Vidal vs. Norman Mailer, 1971

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine

Steely Dan occupy a precarious shelf in the pop music pantheon, clinging to a ledge between California rock and coke-fueled jazz (they started with rock and drifted to jazz on later albums) zoned somewhere between the seventies and the eighties, a technically sophisticated band with slick production values that could easily have become dated if not for their patent weirdness. And they were weird. Formed around the dark nucleus of two feverish miscreants, Fagen and Becker, and named for an infamous sex toy in a William Burroughs novel (that should be a clue), the band was filled out with crack session musicians who provided a solid sound base while the bandleaders told tales of junkies and players, paranoids, dreamers, Cubans, pro ballplayers, bookkeepers, snipers, gauchos and the odd acid chemist. In another world they might have been just another Boz Scaggs, and their sheen might fit in perfectly with the schematic chrome and leather Scandinavian furniture in the Scagg soundscape, those giant eighties quadraphonic speakers in the corners and the glasses of expensive Scotch and lines of Bolivian marching powder--but slick as it may seem this is not that world, this is not Scaggs, and this band leaves the silk degrees of his sub-zero disco behind like the telltale granules sparkling on the running boards of Owsley's technicolor motor-home. This is Steely Dan, damnit! This is the day of the expanding man. The sound triggers a mid-seventies memory-burn but in different ways than the blues-based rock bands we listened to at the time, those heavy holdovers from the sixties, but this was probably playing in the background when we transitioned from keggers to cocktails while trying to keep our (imagined) outlaw edge. This music was adult, suddenly, as far as we could tell, and that was something we were desperately trying to figure out, something we figured everyone else had down cold, and we studied these clues as if they were travel brochures from an undiscovered country where everything was cool and sexy and soundtracked with languid jazzy solos. We would drink Scotch whiskey all night long and die behind the wheel. That was the deal. Too late to get your money back now, big guy. Chill. And pump up the quad mega-speakers to eleven.

Watching the 1973 clip from "Midnight Special," a network TV show (there were ONLY network shows back then) brings back a time. The second clip is just a couple years ago, but they're still chilly as Scotch on the rocks.

It seems like only yesterday
I gazed through the glass
At ramblers
Wild gamblers
That's all in the past...

Friday, November 5, 2010


There's a great new album by Elton John and Leon Russell, two piano-playing geezers from yesteryear. It's amazing. Now that the midterm elections are over (and Patty Murray finally beat Dino Rossi in an agonizingly slow vote count) we can put politics aside for a moment and celebrate with some good music. Besides, it's the weekend. Rolling Stone magazine gave the new album five stars, which is extremely rare, but once you fall into its grooves you'll know why. This is the best thing either fellow has done in thirty years. Check it out. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2010 - Maybe We Can't - Election Results
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

So you woke up this morning and felt like you had the worst tequila hangover in history where the pain is right behind your eyeballs and your entire skull is throbbing, but it wasn't booze that did this; call it the midterm elections. The night before you watched the dismal returns roll in, and it seemed that every mouth-breathing ignorant redneck who could manage to utter a couple talking points and keep his pecker in his pants had defeated every halfway decent Democrat from sea to shining sea. Don't get me wrong--the Democrats can be terrible do-nothings and we're furious at them for their lack of fight--but these hate-filled teabags really took the cake--and the country--in a bad dream where naked self-interest paraded as righteous indignation, anger was touted as a virtue, and fear of foreigners and socialism and a black leader got them off their recliner chairs and into the streets to support the privatization of damn near everything, an end of taxing the ultra-rich, and praise for everything "business-friendly" with a holy "Jay-sus!" For these newly-awakened cretins, things started turning south once the slaves were freed and women got the vote (the Jezebels!) and children started speaking at the table. After that, it was all downhill, the bible was out the window, gays were in the military, smoking became a bad habit, and a half-black Muslim terrorist whose middle name was Joseph Stalin became President of the USA! Jay-sus! Liberal Democrats won an election somewhere in there, but that was during the Big Sleep, and they woke up with the help of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and various other wealthy professional pundits posing as average people. Next thing you know the corporations that had layed these folks off started flooding money into their cornpone campaigns, with strings attached, of course, somehow indoctrinating these folks to deregulate this and that and make it easier for them to lay people off, outsource jobs, and make more money. That's the American way, by gum, by golly--and the result is a lot of cranky people blaming this Knee-grow President for not saving us all from the terrible mess we're in. Remember the mess George Bush Junior left us? Blame the black guy, it's an old trick that generally works among simple white folk. Turns out there weren't no dang WMDs after all, and no magic bullets to cut taxes without going bust--there was only a big ol' mountain of horse manure that caught fire on the porch just before George W and his smirk retired to his ranch in Dumbass, Texas. Now W is taking it easy, hunting quail with Dick Cheney and his Haliburton cronies, and we're in a real fix. Turns out these assholes didn't know what the hell they were talking about! Turns out they cut our funding and turned a record surplus into the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression. Turns out these teabaggers hate government so much they ran for office, and now they're going to be blocking every good idea that isn't pre-approved by bible-thumpers and fat cat CEOs. Turns out we're fucked. Let the gridlock begin! See? You got the hangover and didn't even get the tequila.

Next time, we get the tequila.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Back in the day, people fought for the right to vote. Some even died. The Good Old Boy system prevailed and big decisions were made behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms. Poor people didn't have a chance, women were excluded, and blacks were subjected to intimidation and special "tests" restricting their access to the polling booths. Throughout the rural South, blacks and whites organized voters during "Freedom Summer"--some were beaten and some payed the ultimate price. Think about that when you vote.