Saturday, April 21, 2018

3 Chords & the Truth: The Now Sound @ 400


It all started in a 5,000-watt radio station in Fresno, California -- a $65 paycheck and a crazy dream.

Now 3 Chords & the Truth has just released its 400th episode, and while the dream is still crazy, the paycheck is down to $5.32. Working in the media is not for sissies.

Or, actually, for people who like to eat.

So, what can I say on this occasion of the 400th program of the Big Show?






















OK, I got something.

This 400th episode of 3 Chords & the Truth is one more than 399. And it's 399 more than episode No. 1 back in January 2008.

Thank you.

Oh . . . and the music's good. Real good.

Is this long  enough to turn in now, teacher?

Is anybody in here?

ECHO! ECHO! (ECHOOOOO! ECHOOOOO!)


It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Louisiana swamp gas . . . or weapons of ass destruction

The Louisiana Legislature's latest round of budget negotiations has prompted the return of what is becoming an annual tug-of-war match between funding TOPS and funding state health care services.

The House Appropriations Committee on Monday advanced its version of a $27 billion state budget to begin July 1 featuring full funding for the popular Taylor Opportunity Program for Students scholarships and deep cuts to safety-net hospitals and other programs that serve the poor and disabled.

"This is a process," House Appropriations Vice Chair Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, said during the committee's hearing on House Bill 1. "There are other steps we'll be going through."

HB1 is scheduled to hit the House floor on Thursday, where it is certain to generate additional debate over where the brunt of nearly $650 million in cuts should land. Lawmakers haven't ruled out the idea of holding yet another special session to try to close all or part of the remaining "fiscal cliff" the state faces when temporary tax measures expire June 30, but they can't take up most revenue-raising measures during the regular session and current budgeting process. . . . 
"In rushing to pass amendments out, the House Appropriations Committee proved what we’ve been saying all along – there simply isn’t a way to fashion a budget that adequately funds our state’s pressing needs," Edwards said in a statement. "TOPS is absolutely a priority and should be fully funded, but so should higher education institutions, health care for our seniors and those with disabilities, funding for medical schools in Shreveport and New Orleans, and our partner hospitals. Now we can see that it’s not possible to do that without replacing more of the revenue that is expiring."

The move to prioritize funding for TOPS, which is wildly popular among middle class and more affluent families, mirrors recent actions from the Appropriations Committee, which gets the first bite at the state budget under state law.

Rep. Gary Carter, D-New Orleans, said he worried about the ripple effect cuts to the state's safety-net hospital partners would have. Several of those operators have already said they will walk away from the agreements, threatening the shuttering of hospitals across the state, if their funding is drastically reduced to the levels that have been proposed.

"We have health care providers in the state of Louisiana making tough decisions," Carter said. "I'm a big believer in both education and health care, but I certainly don't want to risk closing any hospital."

Several Democrats also questioned the plan to fund TOPS while cutting general funding for college and university campuses.

It didn't take jetliners flying into New York skyscrapers.

It certainly didn't take any declaration of war.

All it took was Bashar al-Assad dropping a chlorine (and perhaps sarin) gas bomb onto a Damascus neighborhood and killing 40-odd people in the latest outrageous act of Syria's long and bloody civil war. For that, the combined forces of the United States, France and Great Britain launched 100-something missiles into a country with which we weren't at war, at least not legally.

What, then, shall we do with Louisiana?

I doubt it could be argued that Louisiana politicians have not killed -- and will not kill -- any fewer than a Syrian gas attack every few weeks, if not days, by starving every social safety-net program on the books, all because their constituents have no more interest than Cain in being their brother's keeper. As we know from Genesis, Cain had no interest in being Abel's keeper because he had already killed him.

Artistic tradition pictures the jealous Cain slaying with the jawbone of an ass, as Samson later in scripture did away with the Philistines. In Louisiana, it's asses jawboning who mow down the poor, the disabled and the sick with their votes and their callous neglect. If the House committee's will becomes budgetary law, what little cash the state has on hand will fully fund a popular welfare program that overwhelmingly benefits the adult children of middle-class white people.

The poor and the ill, then, will be left to be their own damned keeper. Should be interesting to see how well Grandma shifts for herself when she's wheeled to the curb after the Medicaid money stops but her nursing-home tab doesn't.

The white children of white parents with ample green will have their tuition to crumbling state universities (which aren't being funded) paid in full with taxpayers' dollars.  The state Department of Health would be starved to the point where virtually every public-private "safety net" hospital closes its doors.

Meantime, medical education virtually would end in Louisiana.
“So of $346-million available, you want to spend $246-million of it for this, leaving $100-million for everything else?” [Rep. Walt] Leger [D-New Orleans] asked. “You believe $246-million is best spent in these ways?”
“I do,” [Rep. Franklin] Foil [R-Baton Rouge] replied. “We had a lot of ground to make up, since the executive budget had zero dollars spent on TOPS.”

“Isn’t this message giving students false hope, because the full body isn’t likely to maintain this in lieu of funding other programs?” Leger pressed. “You’re okay getting a positive news story today, even if it ultimately will prove to be fake news?”

“My commitment is to students,” Foil answered.

“What about the Department of Health?” Leger asked.

“What about it?” Foil fired back.

“You’re aware that department is taking biggest cuts? And you still believe it is more valuable to fund TOPS?” Leger asked, incredulously.
“Your district includes a substantial constituency that is on Medicaid, doesn’t it, Rep. Foil?” Rep. Pat Smith [D-Baton Rouge] asked. “But you’re willing to fully fund TOPS to benefit a different socio-economic group in your district, instead?”

“I think this helps everyone, in every district,” Foil replied. “We are clearly short on revenue, and even if we were to take all of the money available and give it to the Department of Health, they would still have a shortfall.”
“Yet your amendment fully funds TOPS to the detriment of all the other programs in the state: disabilities waivers, nursing homes, public-private partner hospitals, graduate medical education,” Leger said. “It’s a trap, forcing us Democrats to say we either support TOPS or we don’t. That’s a false choice, and it will really end up being nothing more than a comment about what we would like to do.”

“We are already on notice that the public-private partner hospitals will be closing,” Rep. Gary Carter (D-New Orleans) chimed in. “We say ‘we fund our priorities.’ Your amendment makes TOPS a greater priority than health care.”

“I believe we will find funding as we go through this process,” Foil insisted.

“That’s pie in the sky,” Pat Smith told him, bluntly. “You’re perfectly aware there is no guarantee to raise additional revenue. Some 20 members of this body won’t vote for any new revenue under any circumstances. What this ends up saying is that we only want to fund a program for kids doing well in school, but not the schools they go to, and not the hospitals.”
BREAKING NEWS . . . Louisiana to poor, sick and higher ed: Drop dead.

Breaking news? That's old news. It's also today's news, tomorrow's news, next year's news and your grandkids' news.

In this era of concussive enforcement of the Geneva Conventions and international human-rights charters, here's the news I eagerly await:

As a proportional and just response to unacceptable violations of civilized norms, I await news that sea- and air-launched cruise missiles from the combined armed forces of the United States and sundry NATO allies have sent a message to America's own pariah state. And that the Louisiana Capitol Complex now looks a lot like some of the sadder parts of north Baton Rouge.

Right is right, after all, and rogue regimes must be put on notice that certain red lines must not be crossed. Even in the reddest of states.

We're all in agreement on that, am I right? Am I right?

Hello?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

It's April 15, the wind chill is something like 10 degrees, it's snowing and just west of here, there was a hellacious blizzard.

In other words . . . oh, what the hell.

Enjoy this bit of yuletide the way it sounded in the 1960s -- Christmas Day programming on KFAB-FM in Omaha, circa 1969. Alas, this aircheck of "Cloud Nine Stereo" -- 99.9 on every FM dial -- was recorded on a dual-track mono tape recorder back in the day.

In transferring the recording to the digital realm, I did what I could to get the most out of the audio.
I'm a wizard that way.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

She had us at that patch


Molly the Dog
Dec. 21, 2000 - April 11, 2018
There never will be another Molly.
She was a star from the get-go, as evidenced by her photo shoot (above) for an Omaha World-Herald features article when she was just two months old, shortly after we adopted her from the Nebraska Humane Society.
Tom Cruise might have had Renée Zellweger at "hello," but Molly had Mrs. Favog and me when we saw that patch.
Almost a decade later, Molly had the opportunity to flex her doggie method-acting muscles for a spoof of that infamous Tiger Woods post-scandal Nike ad. (No actual canine pee was deployed for the video -- just tap water. But Mollster really sold it, didn't she?)
TRULY, our little Molly was one of a kind. Our hearts now are broken.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I've seen this movie before. It still sucks


I am a Southerner by birth. I am over 50. I've seen just about everything playing at the Trump Film Festival before . . . back when it was the White Citizens' Film Festival.

The lineup of smutty movies hasn't improved with age. For that matter, neither has America

And the posters in the lobby are still misspelled.

Show me a jackleg American fascist wearing a Make America Great Again baseball cap, and what I see is a self-satisfied Southern fascist, circa 1965, whose sense of his "American" superiority vastly outstripped his facility with the king's "Engliss." Hateful bullies rained stink bombs onto the public square then, and today's thuggish postmillennial retreads do it still.

The picture above is from the July 5, 1965, edition of the Baton Rouge, La., State-Times. On Independence Day, the bowels of hell retched up a "We the People" rally of self-styled "conservatives" at the Louisiana State Capitol, about a quarter mile due south of where I came into this world 4½ years before.You'll see much the same today -- "We the (White) People" festivals of the aggrieved, just with stupider headwear.  Today's Golden Calf is an orange ass (Donald Trump), and the banner of the Civil War's second-place team flies defiantly over the proceedings.

Still.



Click on photos for large versions

The array of targets -- the breadth of humanity deemed The Other -- has grown these past 53 years. The capacity for spelling basic English words by angry and aggrieved white people still belies any pretensions of actual supremacy.

George Wallace, on the other hand, was a lot better stump speaker than Donald of Orange.

Yeah, I've seen this movie before.


THIS STORY (and these photos) from the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate that summer day-after in 1965 ought to be familiar to those who've picked up a newspaper from time to time the past couple of years.

Really familiar.




NO DOUBT about it, when a country -- or a state, or a region -- goes full fascist, The Other suffers badly. But as a white man born into a fascist system in a fascist state -- and Jim Crow was a fascist system, and Louisiana was (and still largely is) a fascist state -- I can tell you that as bad as the suffering inflicted upon the persecuted is, the persecutors' spiritual and cultural self-disfigurement may well be the greater of the horrors.

"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Jesus said that; it's in Matthew. "Good Christian people" had trouble with that one in 1965 . . . and they have trouble with it now. See "Trump, Donald -- evangelical support for."

If you don't believe me, look at these pictures from my childhood long ago and far away. Look at the faces. It's all there, and the worst speller in the world couldn't make it any less clear.


Saturday, April 07, 2018

3 Chords & the Truth: The sound of green


Let's play a game.

Chuck, Chuck bo-buck, banana fanna fo f . . . .

Uh, let's play another game. Let's play Psych-Out here on the Big Show and try to identify the sound of green. This should be a blast, man.

How we play Psych-Out is we play a bunch of far-out music, man, and we try to figure out what sounds like green . . . man. Come on, dude. This should be groovy.

We'll start you off with a mellow one, in three . . . two . . . one . . . .

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Maaaaan.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Back to the future with President Stupid


Well, ladies and germs, it would appear that President Stupid is about to get us all into a real, honest-to-God trade war of the Smoot-Hawley variety.

Those never end well.

I fear the chill'uns are about to get a lesson on what it was like when their grandparents -- folks my age -- were teenagers and college students. The cool stuff you really wanted was really expensive, and you seriously had to save up for it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trump-administration-targets-chinese-electronics-aerospace-and-machinery-goods-with-50-billion-in-tariffs/2018/04/03/9be42e5e-3786-11e8-9c0a-85d477d9a226_story.html?utm_term=.06d82e62a1d6In 1980, I was working about 20 hours a week at minimum wage -- then $3 an hour. Today, that would work out to $9.22. And being a total gear head, I really wanted a cool new stereo receiver.

To get one, I had to save for months. The Yamaha receiver I bought cost just shy of $400, or around $1,100 in 2018 dollars. That was serious money then, and it's even more serious today, as wages haven't come close to keeping pace with inflation the past four decades.

Later, I decided I wanted a color TV, a nice one, for my bedroom.  So I got a "Sony of my owny," to borrow the phraseology of the era's advertisements for the brand. It was a 12-inch Trinitron color set with push-button tuning. I also could tell you the model, but that would just bore you and out me as a total anorak, which is a particularly geeky way to say "nerd."

My Sony cost a mere $369.95 ($1,086.25 today).

GOOD LUCK doing that now as a student making minimum wage at a part-time job. For one thing . . . your wages have been depressed.

For another thing, your depressed wages in 2018 go toward lots of stuff we didn't have in the late 1970s and early 1980s -- like monthly cellphone bills.

And monthly cable-TV bills to watch programs and sporting events that were on free, over-the-air TV in 1980.

And then there's Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime Video so you can watch the popular shows that aren't on cable.

Oh, yeah. There's your monthly broadband-Internet bill, too.

Then there's college tuition. In 1979, my old man shelled out $295 in tuition and fees for me to attend Louisiana State University full time for the fall semester ($995.29 in 2018, about a $2,000-a-semester discount over one of today's "reasonably priced" state universities). Back then, state legislatures tended to think public universities were, well . . . public.

By the standards of today's Republican Party, we all were pinko-communist, socialist radicals living in a thoroughly collectivized country . . . and we liked it. We particularly liked not being bankrupted by student-loan debt which, of course, can't be erased by bankruptcy.

And I saw Bruce Springsteen in 1980 for the princely sum of $8 a ticket ($23.30 today). The Who cost $12. I had great seats.

Sucks to be you, kids. There's a reason so many of you live with Mom and Dad till you're 30. 

SUCKS TO BE us old farts, too. When prices go through the roof, the economy craters and our 401(k) retirement accounts come to naught, we'll probably die at age 80 . . . shivering in an unheated hovel, eating cat food and wallowing in our own shit.

On the bright side, maybe Donald Trump will just get us nuked instead, and we'll never know what hit us.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

3 Chords & the Truth: Time to just . . . be


As we sit here in the thick of Holy Week, we sit here in darkness.

We dread what is to come, yet we know this present darkness will give way to a great light.

This week on 3 Chords & the Truth, we find ourselves in something like limbo. We need to just . . . be. We need to contemplate some things.

Not to put too fine a point on it, we need to chill.

NOT TO put too fine a point on it, that's exactly what the Big Show is all about this week -- this holiest and most solemn of weeks on the Christian calendar. This week, the music asks us what time it is.

The music invites us to sit, to think . . . to just be.

And we will. We are. We invite you to, too.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Robert E. who?


Way down yonder in New Orleans, Mr. Mardi Gras thinks it would be a fine idea to rename the former Lee Circle (as in Robert E.) as Mardi Gras Circle . . . in the name of unity and fraternity.
 
Especially, no doubt, fraternity.
As New Orleans celebrates its tricentennial, it is worth noting that Mardi Gras has been an essential part of the city’s history for more than half these 300 years. Street masking and private balls occurred in the late-1700s. In 1857, the Mistick Krewe of Comus presented the first organized Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.

In 1874, 10 years before the Robert E. Lee statue was erected in New Orleans, Rex paraded past the area, then known as Tivoli Circle. For 142 years, families have gathered in harmony to enjoy hundreds of Mardi Gras parades that have passed the site. For decades, the city erected official parade-reviewing stands at the circle. Today, all 34 New Orleans parades roll past this location.

The name Mardi Gras Circle would not invite the public controversy that naming the landmark after an individual surely will: “Why Tom Benson Circle and not Fats Domino? Allen Toussaint and not Leah Chase? Andrew Higgins and not Pete Fountain?”

Finally, Mardi Gras Circle would fill a long-standing need for a monument in downtown New Orleans that commemorates the city’s oldest and largest local festival and world-class tourist attraction. Visitors to the city are amazed that as important as Mardi Gras is to our image and our economy, there exists no monument to it other than a fountain on the lakefront, four miles from downtown where the parades roll. Mardi Gras Circle could itself become a tourist attraction.
METHINKS Arthur Hardy and the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Committee are on to something big. Real big.

That is all.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

3 Chords & the Truth: 57 candles, and there's somethin' on


Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel.

Christe eleison, it's my birthday.

Kyrie eleison, I am freakin' old.

Lord have mercy, if I have to turn what I'm turning, the Big Show is gonna party like it's 1979. Or 1980.

Perhaps, 1985.

WHATEVER. No matter the particular year, this edition of 3 Chords & the Truth is going to rock.

Hard.

Christ have mercy, the old farts will rock. Yes we will. And so will you, Cap.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

A canary in the @#$&*! coal mine doth protest too much


Well, this was extraordinary . . . even for Louisiana.


You might think that was a wild overreaction by Sen. Conrad Appel, but you have to remember he's a Republican who represents Metairie, and that's what one has to do to hold on to one's job in David Dukeland.

People think Donald Trump is America's national disease. He is not.


What Trump is, is a particularly devastating symptom of an even more devastating disease (as evidenced by this display from our national canary in the coal mine, Louisiana).

Buckle up, America. The fun is just beginning.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

3 Chords & the Truth: Never trust a Trumplator


The president is said to be branching out from Fox & Friends, and that means all media -- for easy comprehension -- are being required to employ Trumplators. This program is no exception.

We at 3 Chords & the Truth have learned, and learned the hard way, that Trumplation can be a fraught affair. And during the course of this rather jazz-centric edition of the show, some quick conclusions may be drawn about Trumplators and their inherent biases, ideologies and -- alas -- not-so-benign agendas.

To wit:

1. Never trust a Trumplator.

2. Never trust a Trumplator.

3. The Trumplator is not worthy of your trust.

4. Bad things will happen if you trust the Trumplator.

5. Do not assume that the Trumplator is translating for the president what you actually are saying.

6. Something ain't right in this whole deal.

7. I do not believe that Trumplators particularly like America or "decadent" American music.

8. Everybody in this whole Trumplation thing is up to something.

9. It is possible to do an excellent edition of the Big Showsky . . . uh . . . Big Show despite the mandated Trumplator causing all hell to break loose.

10. DO NOT trust the Trumplator, comrade.

That's about it.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.