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Out Now


My first book of poetry available through Amazon and other online booksellers

Thursday, January 29, 2015


The dreaded second record – For many musical groups and artists, it is a very hard choice and a very hard task to pull off - whether to  replicate the sound of the first record or take the next step in musical growth.  In recent years this seems to be especially hard for two man or woman synth pop groups.

La Roux – Their self-debut debut was maybe the best recent record that was retro synthpop inspired.  Fun and extremely catchy.  Songs like “I’m Not Your Toy” and “Bulletproof” really swing and are given full reading by talented frontperson Elly Jackson.  Sadly, on their second album, TROUBLE IN PARADISE, the hooks are watered down, much of it fails to grab me – It doesn’t help that the three best songs are at the end of the record   (Tropical Chancer, Silent Partner, Let Me Down Gently) .

Little Boots – Boots debut, HANDS, had a cheeky power with an attitude that never pushed out the music and plenty of danceable choruses.  Like La Roux, she took a few years between her first and second records.  The songs on her second release NOCTURNE while still displaying much attitude fail to deliver the hooks and the end result while not completely terrible is forgettable mostly.

Quadron – Danish duo Quadron ‘s first self-titled record was funky but also extremely edgy held at the mercy of jagged strings and unexpected vocalizing – A haunting record.  The second record AVALANCHE took an R&B connection further perhaps too far allowing the synthetic watering down of today’s black music to eat at their own sound.  The singer Coco O was now trying to sing with an exaggerated inner city accent and the inclusion of a rapper and a few other hip hop elements doesn’t help. 

However, there have been two examples where the second album has worked for these type of artists.  I offer in response to the above....

The Beauty Room – The beautiful debut from the duo of Kirk Degiorgio and Janadu featured strings so warm and all encompassing that one could tie them from a tree like a hammock and lay inside them.  Their second record VOL 2 kept this up along with the gorgeous effortless vocals and adding in little bits of technology and more guitar and keyboard for an album that is equally brilliant.

Electric Wire Hustle – These soulful New Zealand guys improve on the sound of their first self-titled record on their second LOVE CAN PREVAIL.   Vocalist Mara TK’s resemblance to Marvin Gaye is even stronger here and the creative electronic backing tracks bring out the music even more.  Among the tunes, Loveless in particular stands out as an ultra soulful representative of the rest of the record.  A second album that is actually better than the first.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Desperate Journalist’s debut record is the first great music release I’ve heard in 2015.  Working from a Britpop era template wherein guitars are played rather than programmed, battered instead of delicately flicked at, and each song rises to moments of high drama as carefully prepared as to be the focus of the song rather than a brief interruption from the usual verse-chorus  dynamic.

Jo Bevan’s voice finds a middle point between the removed but shouting style of The Organ’s Katie Sketch and emotional but shouting style of Echobelly’s Sonya Madan.  She is a commanding presence as a singer.

The Editors’ 2005 debut record is the closest thing to a recent record comparative to this but I think Desperate Journalist has an even better grasp of melody ( and I like The Editors).  Post- Shoegaze as part of a greater pop rock landscape where guitar storms are balanced against a driving rhythm section and understandable vocals.

Every song is good here but my two favorites are the rocking single Control and the emotional high point Distance in which the volume of the guitars is turned down slightly before the usual exploding dramatic middle.

The Smiths are the true spiritual father of this type of music but it’s been filtered through enough different scenes since their time that it’s not so apparent.  However, lyrics like “He who hesitates is lost but I’ll keep my fingers crossed” should leave no doubt who the influence is.

There should be more records like this one – Wherein older sounds, a tradition, are added to and made better hopefully leaving it to other bands to pick up and run with in the future. 

Friday, January 23, 2015


Two records I’ve been listening to lately....

DIANA AND MARVIN by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye

This is a collaboration record between Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. I recall reading in one of Gaye’s biographies a few anecdotes about the recording of this record. Neither Ross nor Gaye wanted to do this album as both were at the peak of their solo popularity in the early 1970’s but had their arms twisted by Motown. They also didn’t get along well (The cover photo is them facing away from each other LOL) – The first day they were to record, Ross (who was pregnant at the time) walked into the studio to find Gaye smoking reefer. She refused to record unless he stopped. Also Ross did not like some of the songs Gaye had chosen to record and told him so. Gaye basically stopped speaking to her. They ended up recording all their parts separately when the other wasn’t around due to this and their touring schedules and Ross’s pregnancy. Still, it’s a very enjoyable record. These aren’t really duets more like two great singers going toe to toe, coming at each other like boxers, most of the accompanying music is not stodgy and overdone but urgent and fresh sounding with truly fine string arrangements....And Ross was wrong about the songs. My personal favorites are the two lifted from Philadelphia Soul sound architect Thom Bell “You Are Everything” and “Stop, Look, Listen”(To Your Heart) . “Everything” in particular is turned into a pumping exercise of wills with a slightly speeded up arrangement (compared to The Stylistics original). Other great tunes – You’re a Special Part of Me, Just Say, Just Say, My Mistake (Was to Love You) (really powerful back and forth from Ross and Gaye on that last one) also the four extra tunes added to the CD reissue are all quality – Too bad they weren’t on the original vinyl.

FOR WOMEN ONLY by Bergen White 

Bergen White primarily worked as an arranger and producer but he made this one full length record in 1969 and what a record it is!  Really huge sunshine pop orchestral arrangements, dramatic strings galore, harpsichords and fingerpicked guitars, multitracked effortless vocals - so beautiful it is hard to take in at once.  White’s viewpoint is that of an observer of romance and women, one who is witnessing not participating which lends this record an unearthly aura like Scott Walker (White is a much better singer though).  This is really one of the great (largely) unknown masterpieces of modern music.    


“Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.”

President Obama's comments on Russia in the State of the Union were rude, dishonest, and dumb. Also they were inaccurate - Russia just signed a landmark oil/gas deal (in December) with India, is working to finalize a 30 year 400 billion dollar gas deal with China, and has lately strengthened relations with many Central and South American nations - Russia is hardly "isolated".

Schoolyard taunts and insults like that which President Obama directed at Vladimir Putin’s Russia in the State of the Union are beneath the dignity of the office of the president.  All presidents do this a bit but Obama always feels really forced when he does it as if he is trying too hard to blunt the criticism of right wing Republicans by playing the strong guy role.

No mention in the speech what the US has done executing a coup against the democratically elected leader of the Ukraine and replacing him with a corrupt oligarch empowered by a street army of neo-nazis (Real Nazis! not just Nazis used as a pejorative)....The long term ramifications are going to be ugly and negative (just as they are going to be in many other parts of the world from the Middle East to Africa to Honduras to Israel) and Obama will be remembered as a largely terrible foreign policy president - Equal to or not much better than Bush.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


It’s always nice to get into a band or musician you missed the first time around. When the Libertines appeared, I listened to their debut album but it just seemed like disorganized noise.  Last night, I was reading an article about their reunion and listened to a couple of their tunes in Spotify and found it to be good – My original dislike might have been caused by crappy downloaded music copy or crappy headphones I had at the time.  What sounded like noise to me before now sounds like cleverly controlled chaos also their drummer is amazing.  Some good tunes – Death on the Stairs, What a Waster, The Ha Ha Wall, Whatever Became of the Likely Lads?

The Libertines really combine a lot of great influences – The Clash’s two guitar contrast (Pete Doherty’s roughly strummed rhythm guitar against Carl Barat’s smoother lead lines), The Buzzcock’s combination of the catchy and the fast, and the out of order verse-chorus structure of The Smiths not to mention the lyricism of Morrissey and also Jarvis Cocker of Pulp who both Doherty and Barat sound like at times.

They are a “link” band appearing between the end of the 90’s Britpop scene and the rise of the Arctic Monkeys who sound like a tighter, cleaner, more innocent version of The Libertines much like The Stone Roses were a link between 80’s British New Wave and the start of 90’s Britpop

Expanding on my new found love of The Libertines, I listened to some of the post-Libertines music of Carl Barat and Pete Doherty – A few select tracks of Dirty Pretty Things and Babyshambles as well as their solo albums. What I find was a crystallization of their individual strengths and weaknesses which are the opposite of one another.  For Barat – I liked some of Dirty Pretty Things music, the guitar, the speedy momentum but overall a bit too clean in places. For Doherty – It’s clear he has a lot to say, a lot of passion but the music was I heard was far too sloppy, sounds like he made it up on the spot.  I am really looking forward to The Libertines long awaited third album which is supposed to be out later this year because it’s clear they work best together. They cancel out each other’s weaknesses and reinforce each other’s strengths.  Very Lennon/McCartney in that regard.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


I have thought from the very beginning that the Je Suis Charlie movement, meme etc. was complete and utter nonsense.  This is partly due to Charlie Hebdo magazine being the worst sort of neoliberal rag churning out deeply racist cartoons of hook nosed Arabs and pregnant “welfare queen” black teenagers while advancing anti-immigrant positions more commonly associated with European fascist groups.  It’s true they made fun of other groups like Catholics in the distant past but that seemed to change after 09/11 when they switched to anti-Islam all the time and backed neoconservative/neoliberal causes such as the Iraq War.

But the bigger reason I think Je Suis Charlie is complete and utter garbage is France’s hypocritical, selective double standard application of hate crime laws specifically hate speech laws.  The prosecution of Dieudonne in 2003 whose troubles all originally stem from a sketch he did where he compared Israeli settlers to Nazis (Well within the scope of civilized debate and which I agree with) is just wrong.  It is also troubling when you consider France treats its Jewish citizens in a much different more privileged way than it does those who belong to other faiths.

There have been numerous other examples -  Banning the Burka (but not banning dress associated with other religions), not investigating hate crimes against Muslims (The murder of Said Bourarach for example) but sending in the SWAT team every time someone spraypaints a swastika on a wall, running cartoons that mock Islam but cancelling those that make fun of the Last Supper and Catholicism in general as well as anything mimicking the Jewish faith. Personally I don’t believe in hate speech laws as I think they endanger real free speech but if you are going to have them they must be enforced on behalf of every group otherwise it creates resentments and things like Anti-Semitism.

In particular, laws that criminalize Holocaust denial are part of this inconsistency.  I believe it should be legal to question any historical event (and for the record I am NOT a Holocaust denier).  However, laws like this are often used to muffle those who stick up for Palestinian causes.  France remains the only country in Europe to actually cancel pro Palestinian protests after Israel’s genocidal spree in Gaza last spring.

And there you have it – Neoliberalism is defined as western imperialism and empire building and tainted with the racist supremist philosophy of Zionism while trying to pass itself off as a free society.  What people in America perhaps might not get is the liberal xenophobe, the cultural neoliberal.  In America if one hates foreigners, he is  also likely to embrace other beliefs perhaps he or she would be homophobic, against government spending on social programs, pro life etc. In Europe, this is not the case (and I speak from experience having met Europeans who think this way).  One can meet a European with very liberal social beliefs about abortion, women, taxes and social programs, homosexuality but who will turn around and talk about “smelly” “uncivilized” foreigners and clamping down on immigration and invading and bombing countries.  They often couch such statements in rejection of Islam but scratch an anti-Islam proponent a lot of the time and you’ll often find not just an Islamophobe but a racist and xenophobe as well.  Unfortunately, I think there is a strain of this thinking growing in America (See Bill Maher or Sam Harris) which has its roots in Clinton neoliberalism which is one of the main reasons why I’m not a Democrat and remain an independent.

Feeding these beliefs is the conspiracy theory of Eurabia in Europe or Creeping Sharia  which has been pushed by right wing Christian groups in the USA which is that Muslims are going to take over their countries.  Ridiculous McCarthyism with no basis in reality other than population demographics which could be interpreted in many different ways based on individual prejudices – By itself it’s just data.  My advice to those non-Muslims in Europe worried about too many Muslims?  Have more babies!

So je ne suis pas Charlie, Je suis Deudione!  Yes, I am picking sides.  Real free speech not that which is pre-approved by imperialist neoliberal tyrants!

Thursday, January 8, 2015


(Since this post deals as much as with history as with a review I am putting it here instead of on my film blog )

Saw SELMA and it was even worse than I thought from reading about its numerous inaccuracies.  Many of the scenes (all of the ones with LBJ) are complete fiction.  It’s a dishonest, lazy, shoddy piece of filmmaking that twists real events to no good end as the real story is much more powerful and meaningful.  The director has admitted he doesn’t care about history only about story.  What an asshole!  I hope LBJ’s family sues him for slander....In particular....

1.) Wiretaps on MLK started during JFK’s administration not during LBJ’s which is the movie’s version.  The FBI under the maniacal racist Hoover during this time operated on its own authority and continued bugging MLK even after JFK’s death.  When LBJ found about the extent of what Hoover did, he ended this.

2.) The decision to send MLK’s wife a tape of him with another woman was not LBJ’S.  That was pure Hoover and there’s no proof LBJ ever heard or knew of this recording.  That is just an ugly mistruth presented on screen – Inexcusable.  JFK got a kick out of listening to it though supposedly

3.) Telephone transcripts show Johnson pushing the voting Rights Act and in perfect agreement with King much of the time.  In fact, LBJ sound more like the radical urging King to keep the pressure on through demonstration on while he applies pressure at his end through Congress and even on business leaders.   

4.) There is no proof Johnson wanted to put off the Voting Rights Act in order to deal with the War on Poverty – A major contention of the film.  He was not a weak president like Obama and could have easily handled both (and did).  No one associated with the Johnson administration backs up this fiction.

5.) Johnson considered the Voting Rights Act one of his greatest achievements.  You wouldn’t get that feeling from this movie.  The LBJ in the movie is weak and indecisive and panicky nothing like the real Johnson who was incredibly full of himself as every biography and everyone who knew him points out.
6.) The legal decision by a judge that paved the way for the third and most successful Selma march was not a result of pressure by the civil rights movement.  It was the Johnson Administration that made the final push for this (In the film you are led to believe MLK was completely responsible for this)

7.) In general, MLK and LBJ had a decent relationship which the taped telephone calls show.  Their relationship was well documented.  The movie is nothing like the reality.  Johnson threatening King is laughable.

8.) In addition to LBJ, the film gets a few kicks in at Malcom X’s expense as well.  I understand the MLK vs. Malcolm X thing.  Guess I’m more of a Malcolm X guy as he had a global view of the struggle for justice.  King took longer to grasp that.

9.) The film seems to be saying that MK never had any extramarital sexual relationships.  Better not to discuss the issue at all then to lie.  Even his closest aides like Joseph Lowery have said he hooked up with women.  It doesn’t diminish his legacy but lying about it in a movie does.

Overall, this is like a glossy made for TV movie.  An Oprah Winfrey vanity project (She produced it and appears in a reoccurring role, a fictional character, as a woman attempting to vote).  Like everything else she touches, it’s garbage.

The scenes of violence, crowd scenes are competently handled and there is an attempt to link stopping black people from voting and police violence to ongoing issues today.  I think that was the director’s intent.  I just wished he hadn’t twisted history to do it as it ruins the whole film

And let me state again, the treatment of LBJ is shameful.

Also the actor who plays MLK looks nothing like him and Tim Roth as George Wallace? Hahahahahahah - One of the worst miscastings in history.



 Regarding the Paris shooting, I have six questions.

Before I ask those six questions, I’d like to state where I am coming from.  A False Flag operation is defined as a covert military or paramilitary operations designed to deceive in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by entities, groups, or nations other than those who actually planned and executed them.

Many countries throughout history have conducted false flag operations to push an unwitting populace towards an end goal whether it be simply hating a particular enemy or actually building support for an armed conflict.

Some examples of false flag operations committed by the US that have been confirmed and are a matter of historical record – Operations Northwoods and Operation Gladio (also involving NATO) as well as numerous other smaller operations in Cuba and Latin America as well as Vietnam and the Middle East.

An example of a false flag operation committed by Israel – The Lavon Affair.

Many historians also believe the 1933 Nazi Reichstag Fire and the Russian Apartment building bombing of 1999 were also false flag operations.

I have an open mind which is why I am asking these questions but my initial impression is this was a paramilitary operation conducted by a foreign power (The MO matches the Mossad) for the purpose of further pushing the idea of Islamic terrorism as the number one threat of the day.

Here are my six questions....

1.) This was a well-organized operation.  They even scheduled it for the time of day when there was less traffic in that area.  Who trained them and where did they get this training?

2.) France has strict weapons laws.  Where did they get the guns?

3.) According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen knew who they were looking for.  That partially makes sense as some of the cartoonists were somewhat celebrities but some of the others they targeted in the magazine’s offices were not.  How log had they been conducting surveillance?  Was there someone inside the office helping them (they also apparently knew where everyone sat)?

4.)  A witness has stated that the gunmen announced they were with AL Qaeda.  There is an unconfirmed report one of more of the gunmen was also affiliated with ISIS.   These two groups do not work together and that makes no sense.  In addition, one of the suspected gunmen spent some time in prison for sending weapons to Iraq .  Which is correct?  If in fact the answer is ISIS is itself a Western construct and then that begs even more questions going back to my question #1  

5.) Supposedly, one of the gunmen dropped his wallet carrying his ID inside a car they used.  Does anyone really believe that?    

6.) What is the meaning of the cryptic last tweet before the shooting from the Charlie Hebdo office wishing the leader of ISIS good health?  Were they hacked?  Looking at the cartoon, it seems sincere????

What I would like to see happen is at least a couple of days of investigation before the media takes over.  Even during 09/11, it was a day or two before Osama bin Laden was definitely fingered.  I even read a story going round on CNN and other places the first 24 hours that Serbian groups were responsible for 09/11 due to the bombing of Belgrade and that was investigated and ruled out.  Here the story has already been written it seems.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for these answers.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Always nice to find a lost treasure to listen to on Spotify or Grooveshark.   Today, I found a real gem  - Beagle’s SOUND ON SOUND.

Beagle, who were from Sweden, were an early 90’s Beatles influenced pop group.  I would call them power pop but their sound is far too gentle.  There are delicate Rickenbacker guitars, lots of acoustic guitar too, and three part harmonies but also plenty of strings and some keyboards and even a banjo or too.  Definitely more 68 or 69 Beatles than 63 or 64 Beatles.

Other bands/musicians similar to Beagle – Squeeze, Raspberries, Owsley, Jellyfish

I was turned on to them by a guy I worked with in 1992 who taped their debut record SOUND ON SOUND for me.  After that I left that job and the cassette get munched as they often do,  I thought about buying a CD when E-Bay started up but by this point it had become a collector’s item and was commanding more than $100 for a copy.

There’s nothing revolutionary about these guy’s music.  They just do what they do very well.  There is not one bad song on this record (although I notice the slow songs are more memorable than the fast ones).  Favorite track if forced to pick would be This Time.

I watched a documentary on the power pop scene and they had a section about power pop in other countries with a brief section on Sweden and Beagle was mentioned as the influence for a lot of the other Swedish guitar pop bands that followed.  Sort of Sweden’s Big Star.

Another found treasure – I had no idea that Beagle made a second album but they did.  I just finished listening to WITHIN which was made a year or so after SOUND ON SOUND.  It’s almost as good as SOUND with jangle-y guitars more in the forefront.

Friday, January 2, 2015


America has an overpolicing problem.  That is to say there are too many police around concentrating on small infractions and on non-violent crimes.  This is done to increase revenue through the issuing of tickets but also done to enforce “order”.  Order is defined as what benefits the wealthiest keeps them happy and also an eye towards the future when in fact there may be full scale insurrection in America and the police are already preparing for a burgeoning police state in response.

Oswald Spengler noted that one of the signs of a state descending into authoritarianism (fascism although he didn’t call it that) was a police force that no longer served the people, had very little oversight, was overly militarized viewing citizens as combatants, and eventually became personal armies  of warring elites in power.  America is not far from that. 

I remover when I lived in the US the feeling that there were police far out of proportion with the threat posed by crime – Crime rates declining after all.  Particularly I lived in the bedroom community of Camarillo, California in Ventura County north of Los Angeles and literally there were cops everywhere despite the crime rate being next to nothing.

A few more thoughts

1.) One thing that the USA claims separates them from many third world countries is while US police are often brutal and racist, more interested in the protection of private property and the maintaining of “order” than actual crime prevention and enforcement, and police did collaborate with those opposed to civil rights in the 1960’s and earlier (including complicity in murder)  as well as complicity in violence against labor unions earlier last century as well, they are still directly accountable to the people.  The thuggish behavior of New York City Police the last couple of days is scary because it seems very undemocratic.  Police work for the taxpayers – not just wealthy tax payers, not just white tax payers.  The people in New York City voted for Bill DeBlasio as mayor, not for police to thumb their nose at him.  This is not a South American dictatorship where the police are a law unto themselves (although America in the past has supported those and some such as Rudy Guliani  would support that in the USA I imagine) .   Any rational person can see that it’s quite possible to be opposed to police brutality and also the murder of policemen.  This is just clouding the issue on their part.  I do think demonstrators need to start targeting the other part of the problem – The courts.  It is clear police cannot be trusted to police themselves when there is an incident of criminal brutality and prosecutors and the courts help shield them.  The prosecutor in the Michael Brown case is openly admitting now that he deliberately put perjurers on the stand who gave unchallenged false testimony about Brown during the shooting that made him look more like the aggressor.  As I’ve said numerous times before, they should create a special division of the Justice Department that just investigates police misconduct, there’s too much going on these days to leave it as part of the Civil Rights Division.
2.)There is no comparison between right wing exhortations to violence and actual right wing violence and the nuanced carefully scripted mild rebuke to out of control police officers and the shooting of two police officers in NYC.  Prior to Rep. Gabby Giffords shooting, Sarah Palin put out a picture that had gun sights superimposed on the faces of Democratic politicians “Take them out” .  Prior to the Oklahoma City Bombing, Newt Gingrich and others talked openly about shooting ATF agents “one in the chest, two in the head”.  Can’t see how that compares to President Obama’s prudent (too prudent IMO) statement on police misconduct or when Mayor Di Blasio gave a moving speech about how he had to warn his own mixed race son about cops.  This false comparison is a distraction to get away from the real subject of overly militarized, shoot first ask questions later, out of control police as well as the greater questions of racism and wealth inequality that this also brings up.

3.) I hope finally it can be said that the “Broken Windows” theory of criminology and policing leads only to fascism and a police state. For a number of reasons 1.) Criminalizing poverty, homelessness, mental illness, etc. without establishing corresponding social programs to deal with the fall-out creates hopelessness, fear, and even more societal disorder.  Also people grow to hate cops even more than they already do. 2.) It gives the police too much power to make decisions about when to hassle people.  It creates an overbearing police presence that does very little to stop real crime. 3.) By having cops focus on things like pan handling and squeegee men, you distract them, minimize their time in investigating real crimes like murder, rape, etc. 4.) A broken windows mentality in police will eventually have the effect of forcing out many poor people.  The thuggish atmosphere only adds to the problem in a high crime neighborhood.  This creates class resentment as well as gentrification when rich people come in and buy all the recently vacated properties ( as seen in areas of Brooklyn among others).    Also Rudy Guliani is a racist piece of sh*t – This is the man who spread false rumors about Amadou Diallo an innocent immigrant executed  by policethugs.  I’m not sure why he’s considered an expert about anything (except how to use 09/11 to advance your political career)