Friday, November 17, 2017

Old School Friday

Going further down the rabbit hole of the music we used to listen to back in the mid- to late 70s. . . 

Here's the incomparable Abdullah Ibraham performing one of the many versions of the composition Ishmael he recorded over the years.  If you compare this to the Julius Hemphill - Abdul Wadud compositions we also listened to back at that time, you'll get a good sense of the mystical, minimalist atmospheres we enjoyed late at night circa 1979.  

For the record (no pun intended), that's Cecil McBee on bass and Roy Brooks on drums in addition to Ibraham on piano and saxophone. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

This Nightmare Must End

The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go. In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America. The Nightmare must end!
  • The Nightmare: Immigrants living in terror—their next step could mean detention, deportation, being torn from children and loved ones.

  • The Nightmare: Muslims and refugees demonized, banned, and cast out.

  • The Nightmare: Millions—children, the elderly, the sick, the poor—denied health care, food assistance, the very right to live.

  • The Nightmare: Women objectified, degraded, and denied the basic right to control their own reproduction, with fundamentalist Christian fascism increasingly being made law.

  • The Nightmare: LGBTQ people stigmatized, ostracized, and denied civil rights recently won.

  • The Nightmare: Black and Latino people openly threatened by the President, with maximum sentencing, stop-and-frisk going national, intensified police brutality, and murder of our youth with no holds barred.

  • The Nightmare: People all over the world facing bombings, occupations, war and the threat of nuclear war with Donald Trump’s America First finger on the nuclear trigger.

  • The Nightmare: The truth bludgeoned—lies and more lies—critical thinking being destroyed in education and public discourse.

  • The Nightmare: The whole planet in peril from a regime that denies global warming and shreds all environmental protections.

  • The Nightmare: A regime step by step discarding basic democratic rights, targeting group after group, and suppressing dissent and resistance. A regime unleashing the violence of fascist thugs. This is fascism—a qualitative change in how society is governed. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.
The Nightmare must end. Millions feel this and ache with the question of how to stop this unrelenting horror. The stakes are nothing less than the future of humanity and the planet itself. Who will end this nightmare? 

We will. Only the determined struggle of millions of people acting together with courage and conviction can drive this regime from power.

We will gather in the streets and public squares of cities and towns across this country, at first many thousands declaring that this whole regime is illegitimate and that we will not stop until our single demand is met, that the Nightmare must end and the Trump/Pence regime must go!

Our protest must grow day after day and night after night—thousands becoming hundreds of thousands, and then millions—determined to act to put a stop to the grave danger that the Trump/Pence Regime poses to the world by demanding that this whole regime be removed from power.

Our actions will reflect the values of respect for all of humanity and the world we want—in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence fascist regime.

Our determination to persist and not back down will compel the whole world to take note. Every force and faction in the power structure would be forced to respond to our demand. The cracks and divisions among the powers already evident today will sharpen and widen. As we draw more and more people forward to stand up, all of this could lead to a situation where this illegitimate regime is removed from power.

Spread the word and organize now. Be a part of making history. Don’t let it be said that you stood aside when there was still a chance to stop a regime that imperils humanity and the Earth itself. Join in taking to the streets and the public squares day after day and night after night demonstrating that in the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America!

(This has been a cut-and-paste public-service announcement from the National Affairs desk)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

From The Sports Desk

It's taken me a couple of days to write about this game.  I needed the time to process the emotional pain and also to learn where the Georgia Bulldogs would land in the latest College Football Bowl rankings, released only last night.

Last weekend, the Dogs, entering the game as the Number One ranked team in the nation for the second straight week, got beat by 10th-ranked Auburn.  It wasn't pretty.  It felt like Georgia's team didn't even showed up for the game, except to make a lot of stupid and costly penalties.  It was obvious by the half they were going to lose and by the end of the game, it was a blowout.   

Athens is about an hour east of Atlanta and Auburn is only about two hours southwest of here, so Monday, we Georgia fans had to face all those Auburn fans gloating about their victory, and tolerate their fantasies that they were going to be the National Champions this year.  As if . . . .

The loss knocked Georgia out of the top spot and down to No. 7, one game behind Auburn who leapt up from 10th place to No. 6.  For what it's worth, Miami did their part and destroyed Notre Dame, knocking NFD down to No. 8, one game behind Georgia, and most likely out of contention for the playoffs. With the victory, Miami jumped up to the No. 3 spot, behind Alabama (1) and Clemson (2).  Oklahoma (9-1) and Wisconsin (10-0) are Nos. 4 and 5, respectively.

It's still possible for Georgia to make it to the playoffs, provided it wins its remaining games against Kentucky and Georgia Tech, and gets a few breaks by some teams ranked above them losing a game or two.  That doesn't look like it'll happen this coming Saturday, though, as the higher-ranked teams all have unranked opponents this weekend, most with losing records at that, with the exception of No. 5 Wisconsin playing No. 24 Michigan (8-2).  That's as good as it gets this weekend.  Far from a sure-thing upset to be sure, but Big 10 rivalries can't be ignored.  For the rest of this season, I'll be cheering for Georgia and against Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Auburn (although I was pretty much doing that already), and this Saturday, I'm going to have to swallow my pride, hold my nose, and cheer for the Michigan Wolverines as well.  Wish me luck with that.

No. 6 Auburn still has to play No. 1 Alabama this year in their annual rivalry matchup, the Iron Bowl.  The winner of that game will clinch the SEC West title, so Georgia, who's already clinched the SEC East, will have to play the winner of the Iron Bowl, either Auburn or Alabama, early in December in the SEC Championship game here in Atlanta.  

As I've mentioned before, it's possible that Georgia may have to beat Alabama not once but twice to win the National Championship, and if Auburn somehow manages to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl and clinch the SEC West title, Georgia may have to play Auburn two more times on top of last weekend's game to win the National Championship.  First, they'll have to beat Auburn in the SEC Championship game.  Georgia will have home-state advantage in that game, given that the SEC Championship will be here in Atlanta, plus they'll have a very strong revenge motive to win.  But even if they do, it's still entirely possible that both Georgia and Auburn will end up among the top four ranked teams and both qualify for the national playoffs, and then Georgia may find themselves having to play Auburn a third time in a best-two-out-of-three contest. 

Granted, there's a lot of "ifs" in that scenario, as there is for any scenario that has Georgia becoming the National Champ.  But it's still possible - anything's possible.  So, all we can say for now, is "Go Dogs!" and "Let's Go Blue" (damn, that feels weird!).   

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Paranoia In America

What with all of the stress of the trial last week and its demands on my time and attention, I went another week of cold turkey and didn't play any video games from a week ago Saturday until last Saturday.  I finally got some free time last Sunday and opened Wolfenstein 2 - The New Colossus and in just a few hours I managed to finally complete the game.  I was told it was a quick play-through. Even after the plot's been resolved and the main missions are complete, though, there's still gameplay to be had wrapping up some side missions, taking out various Nazi ubercommanders across the country, and competing in the shooting gallery/obstacle course.

Of course, as soon as I completed the game, Bethesda, the developer, comes out with some new DLC additions to the game, as well as a schedule for future DLCs (DLC = "downloadable content" or additional content for the game).  So I should be busy killing American Nazis for the foreseeable future, although as soon as I catch up on the current DLC and have some quality time to play (like the upcoming four-day Thanksgiving weekend), I look forward on going back to medieval times and starting the game The Witcher.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Eulogy for Louis C.K.

There's a bad man in everyone
No matter who we are.
There's a rapist and a nazi living in our tiny hearts,
Child pornographers and cannibals and politicians too,
There's someone in your head waiting to fucking strangle you.

Those are lines from the song People II: The Reckoning by the folk-punk band Andrew Jackson Jihad, now known simply as "AJJ." I don't think the band had Louis C.K. or any of the current crop of pussy grabbers in mind when they wrote the song, as it's from their 2007 album People Who Eat People Are The Luckiest People In the World (hat's off to Barbra Streisand for the title). Despite it's age, however, the lyrics of the song fit our current situation so well, they sound almost prophetic today.

AJJ was scheduled to play People in its entirety at Atlanta's The Masquerade tonight to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the album, but the show was cancelled. A shooting last night at the downtown music venue left two people dead and two more wounded. Apparently, there was some rap show Sunday night and some idiots reportedly tried to get on stage in between the acts, and then some even bigger idiot in the audience took exception to their actions. So he shot them.

Two dead, and two wounded by incidental gunfire.  As The Masquerade's still part of a crime-scene investigation tonight (they haven't caught the shooter yet), tonight's shows (it's a multi-stage venue) were cancelled.

Fatal shootings at a downtown rap show.  It's tempting to say, as some already have, that's why we can't have nice things in Atlanta.

But I don't blame rap music for the violence.  Rap, even gangster rap, doesn't incite violence, it's merely reporting on it, just like the the rise of sex and drugs in the 60s wasn't caused by rock music - the musicians were merely acting as sentinels chronicling an emerging scene.  No, rap doesn't cause violence, it's an unfair and unjust system of economic and racial inequality that results in violence, and rappers are just telling people what life is like for many people on the streets.

Systematic prejudice, racial inequality, gentrification and displacement - that's why we can't have nice things, Atlanta.    

So here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, you live in an unforgiving place.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Luna At Terminal West, Atlanta, 11-11-2017


The adored indie rock band Luna performed last night at Atlanta's Terminal West.  We were there and so was Eleanor Friedberger, who performed the opening set.

Eleanor Friedberger is the sister part of the brother-sister band Fiery Furnaces, and while the Furnaces are pretty hard to categorize, Eleanor's solo work would most correctly be categorized as "singer-songwriter."   But while that category often brings to mind images of faux-sincere acoustic folk artists, Eleanor is a rocker and played her set solo (no band) but on electric guitar.  To be sure, on a few songs, she played a recording of the backing music and sang the vocals karaoke style, holding the mic while singing and dancing on stage.  We think that takes a lot of self-confidence, but then again, she rocks the best bangs in rock 'n' roll.

Here's one of her older songs (from 2011) but she covered it in her set last night, so we think it's fair to include it in this post.   

Following the 1991 break-up of the band Galaxie 500, dream pop/indie pop band Luna was formed by singer/guitarist Dean Wareham.  The band recruited bassist Britta Phillips in 2000 and eventually broke apart in 2005. Wareham and Phillips got married in 2007 and toured occasionally as Dean & Britta and as the Dean Wareham Band.  

Luna had a devoted, near fanatical, fan base, and after they got back together in 2015, we were lucky enough to have been among the audience for the reunion tour's first set, also held at Atlanta's Terminal West. Last night's audience seemed no less devout than at the 2015 set, if a little less beside themselves for the opportunity to hear the legendary band perform once again.

Luna opened the set with the instrumental GTX3 from their new EP, A Place of Greater Safety.

Since we got there early to see Eleanor Friedberger, we were one row back from the stage for Luna's set.

Britta was adorable as always, and showed everyone how to rock a jumpsuit.

The set was near perfect, and the interplay of the two guitars often created near hypnotic passages of pitch-perfect indie guitar rock.  Luna's set lasted for well over 60 minutes and although a peek at the set list (one of the perks of being at the front of the stage) showed they only planned to perform two songs for their encore, they played a third solely at the request of one person in the audience. 

Added old-fogie bonus points for getting home before 11:00 p.m.