Sunday, October 31, 2004

Quote & Music of the day - 10/31/04

"Never appeal to a man's 'better nature.' He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage." -- Robert Heinlein

Albert Ayler - Love Cry
Free jazz certainly isn't for everyone. The music of Albert Ayler falls into this category, although some of his music is more accessible than not. I have a few of his albums, and I'd say that this album could possibly be appreciated by a larger audience than many of his other releases.

Ayler's style was truly his own. He was a extremely soulful and free spirited person who let it all out in his performances, each serving as a window into his tumultous soul, letting light shine in on his exuberant love of life or the heavy suffering that often results from such devoted compassion and sensitivity. Love Cry lets us experience a little bit of it all.

Among my favorite compositions on this album would be "Ghosts" and "Bells", songs that are reminiscient of old New Orleans style marching band music, but with the trademark free jazz complexity and adventurousness that Ayler and his band bring to the table. In other words, simple and inspiring tunes that reveal hidden layers of depth that one is often trained to overlook in a world where style trumps substance.

Ayler is wonderful throughout, and critics are true to point to the drumming of Milford Graves as being noteworthy as well. However, I really enjoy Carl Cobbs's contribution on the harpsichord as well; his playing adding zest and occasional haunting sounds to the mix. Great musicians pouring their heart and soul into some great music that has moved many who have had the opportunity to experience it over the years.

Fashion Police = Color Blind Squares

I've noticed a trend on ESPN and that's getting on my nerves. Many ESPN talking heads and writers seem to feel as if they are bona fide members of the fashion police. These folks just can't hold back criticism of certain team uniforms that would apparently be illegal if they were fashion despots.

While there's nothing wrong with voicing one's opinion, I just happen to disagree with every criticism on this subject that I hear or read. Believe it or not, but there are people who would go insane if all athletes dressed as conservatively as the New York Yankees or the Nebraska Cornhusker football team. Here are the uniforms that have been targeted multiple times by the fashion police at ESPN:

University of Oregon's yellow football uniforms (i just love yellow unis in general)
Clemson University's purple football uniforms (purple & orange is better than all orange)
University of Wyoming's football uniforms (brown & yellow are their school colors... deal with it)
Vancouver Canucks retro V-neck uniforms

I think those retro Canucks uniforms are especially badass; much better then what they wear nowadays. They're clever too (V for Vancouver). Shit, I'd gladly wear one of those jerseys even though I'm a Red Wings fan!

Conclusion: Officers of the fashion police are color blind squares who are enemies of individuality and progress.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Sucks to be a Floridian right now

I like college football. I absolutely do not like any of the Florida teams (Florida, Florida St., and Miami). I'm happy to report that all 3 Florida teams lost today. It's the first time that all 3 have lost on the same day since 1978, the year before I was born!

Oh, and Michigan had a trememdous 4th quarter comeback to eventually defeat Michigan St. 45-37 in triple OT. One of the best games I've watched in ages! Considering the fact that I'm a Wolverine fan who actually likes the Spartans, I feel sorry for the green and white despite the wonderful outcome. Classic game.

Quote & Music of the day - 10/30/04

"Today, wanting someone else's money is called 'need,' wanting to keep your own money is called 'greed,' and 'compassion' is when politicians arrange the transfer." -- Joseph Sobran

Pink Floyd - Meddle
This Floyd album doesn't get as much hype as Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, or some of their other albums, but this is probably my fave album of theirs aside from DSOTM (and I don't really care for The Wall at all).

The album gets off to a dramatic start, with the hard rockin' "One of These Days", and ends up going through numerous changes of both tone and lyrical emotion from start to finish. "San Tropez" certainly sticks out for it's cool and playful lounge jazz-type sound, and also stands out as one of the fine points of the album. The last song, however, is a grand finale of epic proportions. "Echoes", one of the finest Floyd songs of all time, is a 23:31 journey through haunting soundscapes that show off the complexity and overall musical talent of these guys, proving that they weren't just another classic rock band. It's also a fine halloween tune to put on late at night, especially considering the sounds that appear at around the middle of the song that resemble the echoes of shrieking ghosts.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 10/29/04

"Satan promised Eve things he didn't have to give or sell. Now governments promise us the same things." -- Paul Knatz

Crack Sabbath - Bar Slut
I hope y'all are in the mood for Crack tonight! This rockin' group has a cult following of sorts in it's homebase of Seattle, but has managed to stir interest among a small group of people elsewhere due to the wonders of live recording, internet downloading, and mail trading of live shows.

Bar Slut is the first studio release by the group consisting of Skerik (sax), Keith Lowe (bass), Ron Weinstein (hammond b3), Mike Stone (drums), and Brad Mowen (vocals). Equal parts jazz, funk, and ghoulishly hard rock makes for a devilish brew of musical delight. Aside from original numbers, the band is also known for it's great covers. A typical live show of theirs includes a cover of the Nirvana song "Breed" as well as a closing tribute to Black Sabbath with a wicked rendition of "War Pigs". While the album doesn't include "War Pigs", "Breed" is present along with covers of songs written by Charles Mingus, James Brown, Neil Hefti, Chester Thompson, and Miles Davis.

Toys: A Threat to Homeland Security?

I personally consider notions of "homeland security" to be within the realm of wishful thinking, to put it politely. The new Department of Homeland Security, a federal monstrosity that'll continue the wonders of government efficacy displayed by fellow federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (snicker...), claims that it's existance is vital to keeping Americans safe and that their actions are of vital importance. Apparently bored with the gigantic task of preventing evildoings that threaten the life and liberty of Americans, the DHS has decided to branch out into the realm of patent enforcement and scaring the bejeebus out of toy store owners.

This new addition to the federal escapade recently called and later paid a visit to a toy store in St. Helens, Oregon in order to oversee the removal of Magic Cubes, which are Rubik's Cube imitations, from store shelves. Why did they go through the trouble to do this?

Did Al Qaeda produce these imitations in order to enter the toy market?
Are these Magic Cubes covered in some sort of white powder?
Are they actually uber-sophisticated tools for jihadic brainwashing?

Nope. These toys are apparently a threat to homeland security because they supposedly violate the patent held by the manufacturers of Rubik's Cube. (by the way, you can read about this blunder here)

It turns out that the patent in question has expired, hence no violations here. The troublesome nature of patent laws notwithstanding, it seems as if the DHS should stick to it's day job, if it can even be trusted to handle that job effectively.

Thanks to for the scoop on this absurdity.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 10/28/04

"To complain that a free economy favors the rich is like complaining that free speech favors the eloquent." -- Joseph Sobran

Mike Dillon - Mike Dillon
This album is a treat to listen to if you happen to be a percussion fan who's itchin' to hear an album full of diversity and quirkiness. Mike Dillon is a Texas-based percussionist who has lent his services to many different bands over the years, including Critters Buggin, Garage A Trois, Hairy Apes BMX, The Black Frames, Malachy Papers, and Les Claypool's Flying Frog Brigade. He certainly doesn't disappoint if you're looking for music incorporating many different percussive elements, as he can be heard playing the following: marimba, timpani, surdo, vibraphone, tabla, drum set, oil drum, electric vibraphone, shakers, berimbau, cuica, handsonic, and boomerang.

The first four tracks comprise what is dubbed as the "Morning Marimba Suite", a beautiful arrangement of music centering around the marimba, although I find the vibraphone work on the third song to be absolute ear candy of the sort that would make me smile at any moment, even if I were concurrently experiencing a swift kick in the nuts.

"Elephant Space" is another highlight of the album; a song featuring T.J. Dovebelly performing what is known as 8 track tape scratching, which sounds a lot like turntable scratching blended with high speed rewinding and fast forwarding. The hip-hop community will have a field day with this once they discover it!

The music in general varies from piece to piece, ranging in sound from mellow percussive bliss, to wacked out exotica, to free jazz, with an occasional groovy electonica vibe thrown in. In other words, it's an instrumental album that is able to massage your mind into a state of serenity before kicking your ass and then injecting you with morphine to help you cope. Well worth it if you ask me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Detroit News tells both Bush & Kerry to get lost!

For those of you who are out of the Detroit loop, the Detroit News is the conservative paper in town. The News has never endorsed a Democrat for President, and has endorsed nobody on only two occasions in it's over 100 years of existance. I have to give them mad props for their Sunday editorial which provides their endorsement for the upcoming election -- NOBODY!

It's especially nice to see a mainstream rag that traditionally gushes over Republican politicians to give such a damning critique of the Bush administration, including this surprising nugget:
In shorting the generals, in allowing political concerns to trump military strategy, in assuming too much cooperation from the Iraqi people, Bush allowed Iraq to become a hotbed of terrorism, the very condition he struck to prevent. The messy result has allowed our enemies to portray the United States as a villain, and use our role as a rallying cry for terrorists elsewhere.

I never thought I'd read such an analysis of the Iraq situation in either Detroit daily, not even the Democrat-friendly Free Press.

The Kerry critique is unique as well since it focuses on Kerry's long record of shafting the big 3 automakers. The News obviously places the interests of the auto industry above virtually all other issues, making an endorsement of Kerry, or any other Democrat, completely unacceptable.

It's too bad they didn't mention Badnarik though.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 10/26/04

“When the word leader, or leadership, returns to current use, it connotes a relapse into barbarism. For a civilized people, it is the most ominous word in any language.” -- Isabel Paterson

Ween - Chocolate and Cheese
Yes, this is the Ween album that arouses almost any man who looks at it. Perhaps the greatest and zaniest album they've put out. Fear the Boognish!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Bogus new rights claim of the day

Reading the Libertarian Jackass blog is what brought my attention to what's going on in San Francisco right now. The story he refers to, found here, is about San Francisco's mayor declaring that all San Franciscans should have access to free wireless internet service. In his own words:
"We will not stop until every San Franciscan has access to free wireless Internet service," he said in his annual state of the city address. "These technologies will connect our residents to the skills and the jobs of the new economy."

"No San Franciscan should be without a computer and a broadband connection."

First of all, his refernce to the "new economy" is laughable. Secondly, this is yet another example of a bogus rights claim that should not be taken seriously. It seems as if Newsom feels that such a claim will do wonders for his chances at reelection down the road.

The only rights claims that should be taken seriously are natural rights. I certainly didn't have an inalienable right to free wireless internet access when I was born; there wasn't even an internet at that time!

By the way, I happen to still lag behind in the world of dial-up internet connections. Would I like to upgrade to broadband? Sure. Would I ever ask the government to provide it for me? Never! I don't see how my life, liberty, and property is going to suffer if my internet activities continue to crawl at 56k speed.

Quote & Music of the day -- 10/25/04

"When the government's boot is on your throat, whether it is a left boot or a right boot is of no consequence." -- Gary Lloyd

Carlos Santana - Divine Light: Reconstructions and Mix Translation by Bill Laswell
This is quite simply one of the most beautiful albums that I've ever had the pleasure to listen to. It contains songs from two albums that involved collaboration between Santana and various jazz artists back in the 1970s: Love Devotion Surrender, with John McLaughlin, and Illuminations, with Alice Coltrane. The music has been selected, reconstructed, and lovingly given new life by master producer Bill Laswell. He gives this particular work of art a resolutely Eastern flavor, including tabla beats at one point. It works out extremely well, especially considering the spiritual nature of the music and the fact that Santana's collaborators for this music were both heavily influenced by Eastern music and spirituality.

Laswell has also produced similar albums containing the works of both Miles Davis and Bob Marley. Given the divine results of this project, I'll definitely be checking out those other two projects sooner or later.

Fox News or Faux News? Stop... you're both right!

The name "faux news", in reference to Fox News, is often used amongst people who aren't partisan-minded Republicans, including Democrats, lefties, and even some libertarians. While it is true that Fox News does seem to be nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Bush administration, I don't find that the "faux news" label is entirely justified.

What follows is my listing of the pros and cons of I'm looking at the website as opposed to the television network since I never watch television news. I consider television news to be worse for the brain than crack cocaine. I'll start with the cons for no reason other than I want to.

* Their general news content, which definitely paints the Bush adminstration and Republican politicians in a unjustly positive light. This is especially apparent when it comes to foreign policy issues in the post-9/11 era. It's true that no mainstream outlet is without it's own particular bias, but that just gives me a good reason to criticize all of them, including Fox News.
* Bill O'Reilly: this guy is no better in print than he probably is on his program. Do I really need to explain why this guy is nothing but a hack whose "no spin zone" is actually ripe with spin?
* The fact that they devote a regular column to the neoconservative friendly Heritage Foundation.
* Steven Milloy's "Junk Science" column: I never know what to expect from this guy. Sometimes his columns bring up good points, and other times his writing looks at a particular issue too simplistically and rejects certain opposition viewpoints without effectively acknowleging and refuting them. There are other times where it seems as if he's nothing but a paid shill for the likes of Monsanto, a company that has anything but the public interest at heart.

* Radley Balko's "Straight Talk" column: It's great to see a regular column written by a principled libertarian in a mainstream outlet. His articles are well written, thought provoking, and take aim at BOTH establishment parties, not just Democrats. It was especially refreshing to read his most recent column, since it's a rare sight to see such criticism of the Bush administration that is actualy affiliated with Fox News. Balko lets people know that it isn't just "liberals" and lefties who are opposed to Bush's warmongering.
* Wendy McElroy's iFeminists column: Another good column that appears regularly on the site. McElroy is another quality libertarian writer who lets the smug conservative crowd know that not all feminists are power hungry statists who want to subjugate men.
* The regular column devoted to commentary from the CATO Institute. While I may not always agree with what comes out of this particular beltway think tank, it's always good to see regular commentary from a libertarian perspective within the mainstream media.
* The Tongue Tied (PC Police) column: This column always seems to relay some humorous stories in addition to disturbing stories that all have to do with the rise of "political correctness" in our society. I may not always agree with what I read here, but it's always an enjoyable read. It's also good in general to question instances of PC overkill, and such overkill happens often.

Taking all of that into consideration, I would conclude that is certainly a valuable site in terms of providing a mainstream outlet for certain unpopular and fringe ideas of the libertarian persuasion. What it's not good for is a one-stop site for all the latest news, although there really is no such thing as a good one-stop site for news. And as with all other mainstream outlets, Fox News is certainy guilty of being far too statist for the good of mankind, despite the web space devoted to certain libertarian columnists.

Black (and Orange) Sabbath

Many towns across America, especially ones where Christianity has a strong foothold, are apparently upset over the fact that Halloween falls on a Sunday this year. There is actually controversy in these towns as to whether or not trick-or-treating should be moved to Saturday. You can read about this here.

Hmmm... I smell hypocrisy! I bet many of these Christians can go on and on condemning Islamic nations for legislating Islamic beliefs, such as mandating women to cover their faces, but fail to see similar actions at work when they attempt to have government meddle with the lives of homosexuals, or meddle with the beloved holiday known as Halloween.

Haven't these people ever heard of the separation of church and state? There are plenty of Americans who don't give a damn about what the Bible says, and this is not a Christian country, contrary to the claims of those who wish to establish a theocratic state here in America.

If you don't like the fact that Halloween, and the hordes of children dressed as ghosts, goblins, demons, and French maids that ensue, happens to fall on the day of Sabbath this year, then don't participate. Millions of Americans don't participate in Christmas, which is a good thing if you happen to enjoy Chinese food. These Christians should take a page from the non-Christian credo for once and just make October 31st just another Sunday, and make it clear to neighbors that kids won't be recieving candy if they knock on your door.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Who is this Antibalas?

I finally got a chance to see these guys in concert last night, and they sure didn't disappoint!

This is a large group, I counted 10 people on stage, a small stage within a small venue. I was wondering how they would all fit and, well, they managed to do so by just cramming real close to each other. At one point, they even had a guest sax player onstage, an original member of the group who is now a member of a local group named Nomo.

Man did these guys jam! They were pretty much great from start to finish, although my sister-in-law Amanda thought that the song "Who is this America?" went on a bit too long. I'd have to agree and it's not surprising since that I find the studio version of the song to be the same way.

The highlight of the show was definitely the song "Indictment", which had a definitively harder-edged sound live than the studio version. Stuart Bogie began yelling out the usual indictments of the Bush administration, then let audience members yell out names of others who should be indicted. He was astute enough to point out that we didn't want to engage in double jeopardy when an audience member yelled Donald Rumsfeld's name after Stuart had already indicted him. At least I thought that was funny. During this tune was also when a band member jumped into the crowd to engage in a brief bit of crowd surfing.

It's pretty safe to say that everyone who was there worked up a good sweat since dancing was plentiful throughtout. The mirrors in the club were all steamed up, an obvious effect of such a large mass of people groovin' to a delightful set of music within the small club known as the Blind Pig. A good time indeed; one that is not to be missed out on if Antibalas rolls through your berg anytime soon.

Quote & Music of the day 10/24/04

"Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac." -- George Orwell

Fela Ransome-Kuti & The Africa '70 w/Ginger Baker - Live!
Continuing with the Afrobeat kick which was further catapulted by the Antibalas show I attended last night, Fela Kuti is the natural choice to keep things going. The master of Afrobeat himself is joined on this stellar live album by Ginger Baker, whom classic rock fans will remember as the drummer for the group Cream. This album hasn't even been in my collection very long, but it's already one of my favorite albums. One of the Amazon reviewers ragged on Baker's contribution, but I beg to differ since I happen to enjoy Baker's work on the album. What sucks though is that I have an older release of the album which doesn't contain the Ginger Baker and Tony Allen drum solo that the release available on Amazon apparently has.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 10/22/04

"War prosperity is like the prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings. The earthquake means good business for construction workers, and cholera improves the business of physicians, pharmacists, and undertakers; but no one has for that reason yet sought to celebrate earthquakes and cholera as stimulators of the productive forces in the general interest." -- Ludwig von Mises

Antibalas - Who Is This America?
If you're a fan of Fela Kuti and Afrobeat music in general, this is a group that you must check out. Lush and seductive percussion work, funky keyboard grooves, and a fiery and infectious horn section are what this group is all about. I'm sure that many would find their music to be as addictive as any choice narcotic, as I have a hard time going even a few days without wanting yet another fix of these guys.

While the instumentation is fabulous, the vocals provided by lead singer Amayo are also catchy and reminiscient of Fela's style. Many of the lyrics are steeped with political and social commentary, some of which seems too left-oriented despite some great criticisms of both war and corporatism. The third song on the album, "Indictment", is probably my favorite, combining indictments of the Bush administration with some of the most gloriously taint horn work I've ever heard. Cheers to University of Michigan alum Stuart Bogie for writing such a fine piece!

As great as this album is, I keep hearing about how amazing their live shows are. I'll finally get to experience their musical love first hand tomorrow night when I see them at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Vote or else!

Is it just me or is this little bit of info reported by Sports Illustrated on Campus just a bit disturbing? (Scoll down to the part about Miami(Ohio) football) Can a football coach really force all of his players to register and vote? Even if so, who would want to play for a coach who mandates that you take part in a form of statolatry that you may not approve of?

I'm presently undecided as to which is worse: this incident or attempts made by college coaches in the past to force players to stand during the national anthem and salute the flag. While some good can at least come out of voting depending on how you view the government and the electoral system, it does involve having to register with the state. Forcing players to salute the flag doesn't involve such action.

Quote & Music of the day -- 10/21/04

"All political movements are basically anti-creative -- since a political movement is a form of war." -- William S. Burroughs

Digable Planets - Reachin' (A New Refutaion of Time & Space)
Now these are some jazzy hip hop catz that I have mad love for. My first exposure to them was in 8th grade during a class trip to D.C. and their only hit song, "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)", was dominating the radio playlists both there and in my familar confines of metro Detroit. You won't hear any rappin' about bitches and hoes, bling bling this and dat, or anything else negative with the Planets; these catz are straight up poetic with positive vibes and sizzlin' jazz and funk beats. It's not too often in the hip hop world where references to thugs are replaced with references to philosophers, unless you travel outside the mainstream and venture into the underground.

This album is truly a hip hop classic that I never get tired of, especially the sweet rhymes of Ladybug.

FYI: Doodlebug, now known as Cee Knowledge, has been chillin' with a group called The Cosmic Funk Orchestra. If you ever hear of them performing in your neck of the woods, check 'em out.

Greetings from the "reality based community"

Greetings readers... welcome to reality!

If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to read Justin Raimondo's most recent column on about this recent turn of events. It seems as if a senior advisor to Bush is disappointed at all of us anti-war folks for having opinions that are based in... reality! Raimondo comments on detail about the delusions of the neocons based on this bit of info that appears in a Ron Suskind article appearing in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. According to Suskind:
"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"

Wow. Admission of our government being an empire, talk of creating their own reality, and dismissing us anti-war folks as being rooted in reality as opposed to their conveniently manufactured "reality". These guys are truly nuts!

As Raimondo noted and as I have discovered myself while perusing the blog world the past couple of days, many people are unsurprisingly adopting this role as being representative of the "reality based community". It clearly makes sense when you consider that us war dissenters have considered ourselves to be members of such a community from day one, but it means something to get administration's acknowledgement that we are indeed representing reality, as opposed to their fuzzy, delusional "reality" that more appropriatly belongs in a video game or movie.

Thanks to Glen Whitman, he has created a logo for us reality dwellers to proudly display on our blogs and websites. You'll notice one of these logos in my sidebar in between the archives and the links.

Be sure to tune in later for more insight from reality.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 10/20/04

"Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority." -- Thomas H. Huxley

Frank Zappa's Over-Nite Sensation
A classic amongst the 60+ albums that Zappa released during his brilliant lifetime. The song "I'm the Slime" can be found on this album, a song that critcizes television content and refers to the slime box as being a propagandizing tool of both government and industry. The music kicks ass too; you'll be hard pressed to find a rock album with such crisp and complex instrumentation. The work of drummer Ralph Humphries is simply impeccable throughout and forced me to take notice of this album and seek out more Zappa material. Yes, this was the album that turned me on to the wonderful world of Frank Zappa.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Jazz: Is it dead, still churning, or does it just smell funny?

While commenting on the music of Jenny Schneiman a couple of days ago, I mentioned how I feel about music genres and attempts at categorizing certain kinds of music. There are many problems that I have with such a practice. Some music is just beyond classification, and attempts to force it into some sort of box does the music a disservice and can even discourage certain people from checking it out, based on whatever genre label is slapped onto it.

Another issue is that genre names mean different things to different people. Jazz is certainly a label that evokes different reactions amongst everyone who confronts the term. Some people instinctively think of that smooth jazz muzak, the kind of uncreative, life deprived music that people like Kenny G produce. Others instinctively think of swing or big band music. Still others think of bebop and other similar forms of music, the type made famous by the likes of Miles Davis.

When most young people today hear the word jazz, they usually have one of two generalized preconceptions in mind. The first is that jazz is dead. What usually goes along with this sentiment is that jazz fans are either old, dead, or smart in the sense that intelligence is frowned upon in today's dumbed down world where bad is good and smart is dumb (that is if you want to be, like, cool or something). The other thing that may come to mind is that jazz is lame-o elevator music for soccer moms (think smooth jazz muzak here).

With this in mind, a problem arises if I want to talk to fellow young people about the music that I love. While I enjoy plenty of yesterday's jazz, including bebop, hard bop, west coast jazz, free/avant-garde jazz, and jazz fusion, I also spend much of my time listening to newer artists who are reviving jazz and improvisational music and taking it into new and uncharted territories. How do I spark potential interest in these new artists among young people who fall prey to those preconceptions that I mentioned above?

What makes it even more difficult is when I come across jazz promotions that revolve around contemporary artists who are living in the past, such as Wynton Marsalis. The reason why I'm writing this particular post is because I just learned of the grand opening of Jazz at Lincoln Center. As long as jazz is being promoted as being about music made decades ago by people who are dead, and being commemorated by members of the living who play the same type of music, it is going to get a bad rap amongst youngsters who aren't interested in anything that is old. Along with the Lincoln Center news, I just learned of a new jazz club in New York City called Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, which promoters are referring to as being "NYC's hippest new jazz club". Hip? Maybe for grey haired suits and folks who are looking for a bit of nostalgia from an era long since past. I also can't seem to think of the last time that something truly hip had such a blatantly corporate name.

While I've never been to NYC, I have numerous recordings of fresh, lively, and most importantly, new music that is regularly being churned out of truly hip places such as Tonic, The Knitting Factory, and even The Mercury Lounge, despite the fact that you can find plenty of different types of music there.

I've always thought that jazz music was supposed to be music steeped in the foundation of improvisation and constant evolution, music that changes over time and reflects the greater societal changes that we experience as we navigate through life. For so many people though, jazz is dead. Period. I suppose that I should get over this, especially since jazz is just another label that has been altered, worn out, and should ultimately be put to rest. The label is about as useless nowadays as political labels like "liberal" and "conservative". Even though such terms are all but useless, I still catch myself using them from time and time, even though I shouldn't use them anymore.

Aside from the reason I stated earlier about the state of contemporary jazz promotion, one could point to mainstream radio as another reason why so many view jazz as being dead. If you flip on the radio around here (or almost anywhere in the US these days), the stations all seem to follow specific scientific formulas handed down from corporate headquarters. The types of music one can find includes: R&B, hip-hop, country, classic rock, mainstream rock in general, top 40, and smooth jazz. Public radio stations may play various forms of good ol' jazz, but there are no stations that cater to new artists who specialize in improvisational music that some would call jazz. Lack of exposure creates lack of knowledge about these artists, and further exacerbates the preconceptions about jazz that young people have. This is unfortunate since there are plenty of young folks out there who would otherwise be able to share my enthusiasm for the likes of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, The Bad Plus, Critters Buggin, Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet, and many others.

Ya know, I just can't come to terms with jazz being dead, and it's hard to convince people that it's still going strong with memorial services regularly taking place at venues like the Lincoln Center and Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. Maybe I'll just steal a line from someone who was greatly influenced by jazz but was perhaps wise enough to distance himself from it enough to retain a sense of coolness. Frank Zappa once proclaimed that "Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny."

Monday, October 18, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 10/18/04

Today's quote comes from Lao Tzu:
"Law after law breeds
A multitude of thieves.
Therefore a sensible man says:
If I keep from meddling with people,
they take care of themselves;
If I keep from commanding people,
they behave themselves;
If I keep from preaching at people,
they improve themselves;
If I keep from imposing on people,
they become themselves."

Today's music: Siamese - Ancients of Days
Great musicianship from a band that blows away any previous preconceptions of what drum & bass music is all about, especially considering that this is live d-n-b with instrumentation rather than purely electronics. Drummer Kevin Sawka is truly amazing and his mind boggling drumming is worth the price of the disc alone. I'd love to see him perform in person one day.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Quote & Music of the day -- 10/17/04

The quote:
"One who uses coercion is guilty of deliberate violence. Coercion is inhuman."
-- Gandhi

The music:
John Coltrane's A Love Supreme
I felt the need to pop this disc in since it's been months since I've done so. This album is an absolute masterpiece. Love is something that the world needs a lot more of, and tapping in to your own conception of what constitutes as love in supreme form is a fine start, for your sake and for those around you. This album is one of the many reasons why Coltrane is one of my all time favorite artists.

The Brownshirting of America

Kudos to Paul Craig Roberts for having the cajoles to bring up an issue that I've been noticing myself for quite some time now. In his most recent column, "The Brownshirting of America", Roberts dissects the degenerative discourse skills that plague many of those Americans who fit the label of die-hard Bush supporters. As Roberts states himself within this fine piece:
Bush’s conservative supporters want no debate. They want no facts, no analysis. They want to denounce and to demonize the enemies that the Hannitys, Limbaughs, and Savages of talk radio assure them are everywhere at work destroying their great and noble country.

I remember when conservatives favored restraint in foreign policy and wished to limit government power in order to protect civil liberties. Today’s young conservatives are Jacobins determined to use government power to impose their will at home and abroad.

Later on, in reference to a book by David Brock, Roberts goes on to say:
Nevertheless, Brock makes a credible case that today’s conservatives are driven by ideology, not by fact. He argues that their stock in trade is denunciation, not debate. Conservatives don’t assess opponents’ arguments, they demonize opponents. Truth and falsity are out of the picture; the criteria are: who’s good, who’s evil, who’s patriotic, who’s unpatriotic.

These are the traits of brownshirts. Brownshirts know they are right. They know their opponents are wrong and regard them as enemies who must be silenced if not exterminated.

Scary stuff we're dealing with these days, huh? I have noticed many people who meet this type of description simply within the confines of the interweb and talk radio, the latter being the breeding ground of much of this madness. I luckily haven't experienced much hostility out in the real world yet, although I did recieve a few evil looks on Friday night from people who apprarently didn't appreciate the t-shirt I was wearing, which has the Arabic term for "liberty" on it.

Reason # 921 why public education is noxious

I just saw a commercial on the boob tube that brought me close to spitting out the beer I was consuming at the moment. The commercial was made on behalf of some students attending Lahser High School in suburban Detroit and attempted to draw parallels that I find objectionable. It begins by rehashing the horrendous events of 9/11/01, complete with video footage and comments on the death toll and whatnot. It then switched the subject to alcohol by stating that there were 8,000 deaths related to alcohol in that same month. The second parallel involves gut reactions: our government responded to the terrorist attacks by starting a war on terrorism, but why hasn't our government responded to the alchohol problem by declaring war on alcohol?

War on alcohol? Have school history textbooks been watered down and degraded to the point that the prohibition era is no longer covered? Maybe these kids are just taking certain sadistic tendencies a wee bit too far by hoping to extend them into the realm of future legislation. As awful and unfortunate as drunken driving and other alcohol-related deaths are, do we really need to revert to dangerous public policy blunders such as prohibition?

I can think of plenty of other things that have similar levels of lethal potential as alcohol. I wonder if these kids would support a war on aspirin (which is also linked to 1000s of deaths), or a war on cars (which are even more lethal with mixed with booze), or a war on water (people drown, ya know?).

I think I have a solution to these students who clearly need a lesson in not only history, but the effects of supposedly benevolent government legislation. Let's round these kids up for a field trip, a short little drive from their shielded suburbia to some random drug infested neighborhood in Detroit, complete with gang warfare being waged to protect their turf, i.e. marketplace. Inform the youngsters that this is what happens when the government decides to declare war on certain substances. Having gangs like the Crips and Bloods peddling drugs, thanks to our government, is bad enough; do you really want to reincarnate the likes of Al Capone as well?

*Freeman now cracks open yet another brew, a potential act of civil disobedience if some of these intellectually delinquent kiddies of today turn into tomorrow's legislators and lobbyists.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Quote and Music of the day 10/16/04

This is the first of my daily installments of two things: a quote of the day and a select musical choice of the day. Why? Because I wanna.

Quote of the day:
"I'll show you politics in America; here it is, right here: I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs! I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking! Hey wait a minute, there's one guy holding up both puppets! Shut up! Go back to bed America, your government is in control.. here's Love Connection; watch this and get fat and stupid! By the way, keep drinking beer, you fucking morons!"
- Bill Hicks

Music of the day:
Jenny Scheinman's Shalagaster

I saw her perform the music of this album last night in Ann Arbor as part of the annual Edgefest and was hooked by this wonderful music that I guess you could call folk-jazz with a bit of a Jewish flavor. Don't take that as a sort of genre definition though since I'm generally anti-genre, especially when dealing with instrumental music that pushes boundaries and seems to hold traditional notions of classification in contempt.

The group that performed last night wasn't quite the same as the one on the album. Aside from Scheinman (violin) and Myra Melford (piano & harmonium) who are on the album, the lineup included Ron Miles on trumpet, Todd Sickafoose on bass, and Mark Ferber on drums. I was familiar with Sickafoose from his great work with musicians I dig such as Scott Amendola and Nels Cline, but I was really impressed by Ferber who I hadn't listened to before prior to last night. While I'm normally not fond of the trumpet, Miles certainly was a positive addition to the group and it just seemed appropriate for there to be a trumpet involved with the type of music that they were playing. Scheinman and Melford were of course great on their respective instruments.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Wasting my vote??

It seems as if the likes of Vin Suprynowicz and Gary North would agree with me that voting for third parties is most certainly not a waste. They both have fresh new articles on today that should be checked out. I've decided to include some thought-provoking excerpts from each. From Vin's article:
Pretend with me that you’re an old German on your deathbed today. Would you rather tell your grandchildren, "I voted for the Nazis because they seemed better than the Communists and no other party could win"? Wouldn’t you rather be able to rise up and say, "I publicly denounced the Nazis and the Communists. We were a minority – 1 or 2 percent – but we stood up for the truth and we were right! We proved not all Germans were mindless torchbearers for tyranny! We were ridiculed, we were beaten and jailed, but we saved this nation’s soul. Now children, go and live your lives in a way to make me proud"?

And from Gary's article:
National Presidential elections are rigged. They invariably are a race between Council on Foreign Relations Team A vs. Council on Foreign Relations Team B. Susan Huck pointed this out thirty years ago. The only possible exception to this rule was Calvin Coolidge's defeat in 1924 of CFR founding member and Wall Street lawyer John W. Davis. That was because the CFR was founded in 1921, and Coolidge came in as President when Harding died in 1923. When you vote for a major party's Presidential candidate, you are voting for the CFR. If this is what you mean by "not throwing away my vote," then you have a strange definition of "throwing away."

When you especially consider that the differences between the two mainstream parties these days are pretty trivial when you consider the similarities between the two on major, fundamental issues, then I just can't justify voting for either of them. Knowing what I know, it would bring bad karma.

Reducing poverty by reducing government

Watching the political infomerical otherwise known as the Presidential debate tonight reminded me of an excellent essay that I read earlier today on Kerry was asked about the minimum wage, and Kerry replied by advocating a rise in the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7. He used an emotional appeal to do so by referring to, I believe, 9 million women who would be better equipped to support themselves and their children if the minimum wage went up. Is that right? It seems to me that many of those women may end up unemployed, or paying higher prices for certain goods at the very least, if Kerry had his way.

Going back to that article I referred to, it was written by George Reisman and is titled Reducing Poverty by Reducing Government. Check it out... it's a worthwhile read and is handy for pointing out the flaws in statist interventionist policies, like the minimum wage and licensing legislation.

By the way, I currently make $.25 less than Kerry's vision for the minimum wage. Not all people who earn so little appreciate what Kerry is proposing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Dog poop revisited

While one can certainly say that statist intervention in the economy or whereever else stinks, I also happen to notice an increasingly foul stench emanating from Atlanta, GA, more specifically from the domain of one Neal Boortz. Bootz is a fine example of one of these conservatives who constantly rails against the left while conveniently ignoring similar faults amongst Republicans. Consider what he had to say about the complaint coming from Democrats concerning the anti-Kerry piece that the Sinclair broadcasting group wishes to air on it's networks. Here is a link. Here is an excerpt:
To state it in the plainest possible terms, the Democrats are asking the Imperial Federal Government to use its monopoly on the use of force to prevent a private corporation from airing programming Democrats don't like. Censorship is the only word that really applies.

If the DNC can prevent these television stations from running this programming, why can't they similarly move to stop talk radio hosts from talking about their trick Poodle?

The left is interested in freedom of speech...until they don't agree with it. At that point, they want to use the power of the Imperial Federal Government to crush any dissenting views.

Hmm... didn't some conservatives also attempt to get the "Imperial Federal Government" involved with certain forms of speech they didn't approve of. What comes to my mind is Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911. I'm sure there may be other examples as well. So Mr. Boortz, maybe you should alter your comments a bit. Instead of referring to censorship attempts via the "Imperial Federal Government" to being the domain of "The left", maybe you should include some of your conservative pals as well. I say "conservative" in reference to Boortz's pals since it's an increasingly pathetic joke for him to label himself as a libertarian. He gives principled libertarians who rail aganist government largesse and abuse from all sides a bad name, not to mention those who believe in things like non-aggression and non-interventionism abroad.

You can expect to read more from me concerning Boortz in the future since this guy deserves to be exposed for his hypocrisy and his failure to live up to his self proclaimed title as "libertarian". Anyone can call themselves something, but it doesn't mean that they actually are what they claim. George Costanza can call himself an architect, but that doesn't make it so. I could claim that I'd be a better goaltender than anyone that the St. Louis Blues currently have, despite the fact that I've never even put on a pair of ice skates. I mean, how can a "libertarian" support the PATRIOT Act for crying out loud?!?

Dog poop and the poor state of conservatism

I was perusing the "Liberty and Power" group blog on the History News Network site, and noticed a remark made recently by Gus Dizerega (found here ) that is deserving of my applause. He stated that:
"I have less and less sympathy for those who find time to direct most of their intellectual fire at the left, which is out of power completely, while ignoring the Right, which is making a travesty of everything this country stood for that was worthwhile. Rather like shooing off the neighbor's dog for pooping in your lawn while your house burns down."

This is something that has irked me for some time now. While "liberals" and lefties in general are certainly deserving of criticism for many of the things that they advocate, they aren't the ones who are in power right now! I place far more value on criticising the group that is power at the moment, and I think we all know that the Bush administration is not Democratic. Even more annoying is when conservatives accuse fellow conservatives or libertarians of being "liberal" or being in love with the likes of Bill Clinton for doing nothing more than criticizing Bush and company.

I may spend most of my time these days criticizing the Bush administration, but you can be sure that my focus will shift to Kerry if he wins in November. And by the way, I'm sure that all of the conservatives and libertarians spent plenty of time ripping into Clinton throughtout the 90s, but were those who reject any and all Bush criticism paying attention back then? Talk about intellectual laziness.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Well, I finally have one of these blog thingies.

I'll be using this space for random musings by yours truly. Topics may include: politics, current events, music, and anything else that pops into my brain somehow.

I don't really feel like adding anything else right now, so I'll just provide a link to some [quality political commentary appearing on the hip and eclectic Enjoy!