Monday, October 31, 2011

I can has TV webbmasstr Jowb?

I'm not sure what disturbs me more about the state of mass media in these troubled times.

Is it the fixation on bread and circuses, like pointless audience polls
(and please don't ask me about the fascination with Kim Kardashian)? Or is it the unrelenting daily confirmation that many members of the Fourth Estate seemingly teeter on the razor's edge of functional illiteracy?

Sorry, make that Forth e-State. Foreth Eestayte? Fowrthe Estayt?

I would say "bring on the new Dark Ages" . . . but I suspect they're already here.

Or is that "hear"?

Philm ate 11.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

If you sell it. . . .

They're selling the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.

An investment group is buying it. Gonna turn it in to some kind of complex. Charge people a pretty penny, no doubt.

"Is that ironic or what?" went my first though upon reading the play by play in
The New York Times.

The movie so touched a chord that since its 1989 release, hundreds of thousands of fans have come to this corner of Iowa to run the bases, walk in the cornfields and soak up the feel of the place, which looks much as it did in the film. Retired major leaguers like George Brett, Lou Brock, Catfish Hunter and Kirby Puckett have been here. Politicians on the campaign trail have stopped by. Kevin Costner, a star of the film, returned with his band in 2006.

In essence, Universal Studios built it and they came.

But on Sunday, Don and Becky Lansing, the owners of the 193-acre farm that includes the field, are to announce that they are selling their property to an investment group led by a couple from the Chicago area. The group plans to keep the field as it is but also to build a dozen other fields and an indoor center for youth baseball and softball tournaments.

For the Lansings, who have no children, it is a bittersweet transaction. The property has been in the family for more than a century, and Don grew up in the two-bedroom house featured in the movie. The couple tended the grounds, gave tours and sold souvenirs. They spurned offers to commercialize the site and tried to maintain their privacy even as each year 65,000 visitors from around the world pulled into their driveway.

But Don, 68, who retired from his job at John Deere, and Becky, 58, decided that they had done as much as they could. They listed the property in May 2010 for $5.4 million. Some local residents said they were asking too much, given the value of farmland and the weak economy. The Lansings wanted to sell only to someone who would preserve the authenticity of the field, which has been free to visitors.

“We really have been aware all these years that the field has to grow in some capacity,” Becky said. “We have done what we needed to do with the field. We nurtured and protected it and allowed the field to become all it is meant to be.”

"OH, HELL NO, it's not ironic!" went my second thought, after I recalled James Earl Jones' magnificent monologue from the film. No irony here at all -- just a prophecy fulfilled, albeit in a slightly more corporate manner.

"They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack."
I HOPE the new investors lower the price to $14.95. We'll scrounge around in our wallets for a few bills, worrying about whether we can afford it: for it is money we now lack, and peace even more.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Our misspent vacation: Memphis

The Mississippi delta was shining
Like a national guitar
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the civil war
I'm going to Graceland
In Memphis, Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poor boys and pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland
-- Paul Simon

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Capitalism's storm troopers

Me on Oct. 12:
Contrary to the propaganda on the right, the Occupy Wall Street people aren't just a collection of angry Marxists, anarchists and free spirits looking for an excuse to take off their clothes. From what I can see, there are a lot of "normal" people out there, too -- folks who tried to play by the rules and got burned by a system with an ace up its sleeve.

Their dignity is under assault, their checking accounts are depleted, and their options are few amid the Great Recession. It is them I feel for. I feel for the eccentrics, too -- just more in a
"That's just Junior. Don't hurt him -- he's odd, but he's harmless" kind of way.

Now here's what I fear.

Some Angry Marxist Guy -- or maybe some Breitbart vigilante, some self-appointed defender of capitalism and Americanism -- is going to do something stupid. And then some cop is going to do something stupid.

And then some ordinary Joe -- peacefully taking it to the streets because the street is all that's left for the redress of grievances -- is going to be the one killed by the cop's stupidity.

I remember the '60s and how cities burned after just such a scenario. Think of what could happen in this
tinderbox of a country we've built for ourselves, where those at the top have everything to lose and too many down below have nothing left to lose.
AND NOW cops in Oakland, Calif., have fired a tear-gas canister -- point blank -- into the skull of an Iraq War veteran peacefully protesting the thus-successful insurgency by crony capitalists against the principles of social justice and equality under the law.

Digital Journal:
Scott Olsen, a two-tour veteran of the Iraq war, suffered a cracked skull during a police crackdown on Oakland Occupy protesters Tuesday. Now, demonstrators are taking that up as a central rallying point, mulling over calling for a Nov. 2 general strike.

An Occupy protester in Oakland carried a sign saying, "Ask Scott Olsen What He Thinks about Homeland Security". The 24-year old Olsen was critically injured Tuesday night when he was hit in the head with a projectile either thrown or shot by police using tear gas to clear protesters. He suffered a fractured skull in the incident.

And although the New York Times reports that Mr. Olsen’s condition is improving, his injury and the symbolism of a Marine who faced enemy fire unscathed only to be attacked at home is resulting in a surge of sympathy, as well as calls for solidarity among the scores of Occupy encampments everywhere. The Iraq Veterans Against the War, of which Olsen is a member, say that Thursday night, camps in some major cities including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia are going to participate in a vigil for Mr. Olsen. The groups director says,
“I think people would have been outraged even had this been a civilian, but the fact that he survived two tours of duty and then to have this happen to him, people are really upset about that.”
WHEN WE make an idol of an economic system -- in this case, capitalism -- it is no surprise when its high priests start offering up human sacrifices to their god. What the Occupy movement is is the realization that the sacrifice is us -- the "99 percent."

Eleven score and 16 years ago, Americans took up arms against those who would sacrifice them to the great mercantile gods of the British Empire. Today, homegrown tyrants in Washington, on Wall Street and in Oakland's city hall dare frustrated, overwhelmed and angry Americans to do the same.

Now we see the corrupt puppet masters who pull the strings of our dysfunctional American empire setting local "internal security forces" even against veterans who survived multiple tours in this nation's disastrous wars fought for specious reasons. May they all -- somehow -- reap exactly what they've sown before a bloodbath begins.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Favog is . . . out

Your regularly scheduled blog will return in about two weeks, give or take.

I'm tired, and we're taking a vacation for the first time in a while.

If you start jonesing or something, go listen to 3 Chords & the Truth. There are several episodes to keep you entertained for a while.

Catch you later. And behave while I'm gone.

Arrest one, instruct 434

The bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., just found out the hard way that holy water won't ward off the cops.

He just got arrested. For the usual, sad reason these days.

NPR posts this story from The Associated Press:

Kansas City's Roman Catholic Bishop is facing a criminal charge for not telling police about child pornography that was found on a priest's computer.

Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese Bishop Robert Finn pleaded not guilty Friday to a misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Finn had "reasonable cause" to suspect a child had been abused after learning of the images, and should have immediately alerted police according to state law.

The fact that this is a misdemeanor "should not diminish the seriousness of the charge," Baker said. "Now that the grand jury investigation has resulted in this indictment, my office will pursue this case vigorously because it is about protecting children. I want to ensure there are no future failures to report resulting in other unsuspecting victims."

Finn has acknowledged that he and other diocese officials knew for five months about hundreds of "disturbing" photos of children on a computer used by the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, but did not take the matter to police. The diocese also faces one count of failing to report suspected child abuse.

Finn has said that St. Patrick's School Principal Julie Hess raised concerns more than a year ago that Ratigan was behaving inappropriately around children, but that he did not read her written report until after Ratigan was charged with three state child pornography counts this spring. Ratigan has pleaded not guilty.

IF HE'S GUILTY, make Finn do time. What we need in instances such as this is a little justice.

In the grand scheme of things, that might be an avenue for mercy for the long-suffering American church. And it might go a long way toward persuading its "shepherds" to actually start acting like such -- and protect the sheep, not the wolves.

The left calls out Obama

This is about to get big. As if it weren't already, this whole Occupy Wall Street thing.

What we have here (above) is a pretty damned effective piece of propaganda -- one with at least a grain of truth to it. It's on a forum and featured on the organization's home page.

In other words, the left is calling out its own man, President Obama, juxtaposing administration rhetoric about the rights of Middle Eastern protesters with footage of New York's finest beating the crap out of peaceful Americans "occupying Wall Street."

AND NOW, later this morning, New York cops aim to evict all the protesters from the park they use as a home base. All hell is going to break loose, barring one side or the other blinking first.

MoveOn has raised the stakes here, giving its de-facto imprimatur to the notion that Cairo's Tahrir Square equals New York's Zuccotti Park.

Does that make Michael Bloomberg our very own Hosni Mubarak? And what does that make Obama, according to his own erstwhile supporters? Something even worse . . . or just the feckless hypocrite in charge?

TUNE IN in a few hours. The country in which we lay us down to sleep may not be the same one where we wake up in the morning.

Pleasant dreams . . . because our American reality has become nightmare enough.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

3 Chords & the Truth: Boogie till you. . . .

How to describe this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth?

Let us consider how the great philosopher, the late Root Boy Slim, might have viewed what the Big Show has in store for us today:
Put a quarter in the juke
And boogie till you puke
Works for me. And I'll spot you the quarter.

I MEAN, after all, "the party lasts till your brain cells gone." Because we got to boogie.

I think that's in the Bible.


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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Oily rags waiting for a lit match

Violent Marxist Revolution Now Guy, meet Andrew Breitbart and the Water the Tree of Liberty People.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right . . . here I am, stuck in the middle with you. Who knew Gerry Rafferty was a prophet?

Ultimately, all of life is a big version of a college Free Speech Alley. Of course, this is no debating society or bitch session in the sheltered world of the American university.
No, this s*** done got real.

This is the America of soaring unemployment and political warfare. This is the America where dreams go to die and outrage comes to live.

In this Era of Ill Will, where massive consumerist appetites and burgeoning corporate greed face off with minuscule wallets and fading hope for the future, something's gotta give. We don't know just yet what that will be.

But something will.

And some freak show on the fringes -- either one -- is just waiting to throw a lit match into a pile of oily rags.

CONTRARY to the propaganda on the right, the Occupy Wall Street people aren't just a collection of angry Marxists, anarchists and free spirits looking for an excuse to take off their clothes. From what I can see, there are a lot of "normal" people out there, too -- folks who tried to play by the rules and got burned by a system with an ace up its sleeve.

Their dignity is under assault, their checking accounts are depleted, and their options are few amid the Great Recession. It is them I feel for. I feel for the eccentrics, too -- just more in a
"That's just Junior. Don't hurt him -- he's odd, but he's harmless" kind of way.

Now here's what I fear.

Some Angry Marxist Guy -- or maybe some Breitbart vigilante, some self-appointed defender of capitalism and Americanism -- is going to do something stupid. And then some cop is going to do something stupid.

And then some ordinary Joe -- peacefully taking it to the streets because the street is all that's left for the redress of grievances -- is going to be the one killed by the cop's stupidity.

I remember the '60s and how cities burned after just such a scenario. Think of what could happen in this
tinderbox of a country we've built for ourselves, where those at the top have everything to lose and too many down below have nothing left to lose.

DO YOU think that a country in which "terminating" defenseless fetuses is a constitutional right and
"Let him die!" passes for somebody's health-care policy isn't much up for an ideology-driven bloodbath between the able-bodied? You'd better think again. It's in our DNA, both as Americans and members of a woefully fallen human race.

All it takes is 1 percent to start a fire that consumes the other 99.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Copping a feel

Because they're just a bunch of young anti- Americancommunistdirtysmellyweirdoanarcho-socialistdope-smokinghippiepinkofags, we can just do what we want to them, right?

Because, after all, they deserve it and are a threat to the American way of life. (No, look here, not at what's going on in corporate boardrooms. Tattoos! Look! Freak! Un-American!)

They're just a bunch of outside agitators, is what they are! Give the cops that 007 license to kill!

Police brutality good! Liberal wackos bad!

Let them eat cake! Or pepper spray. Whatever.

Corporations now! Corporations tomorrow! Corporations forever!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Before it was retro, this once was me

There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better

Some have gone and some remain
All t
hese places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved the
m all

But of all these friends and lovers
is no one compares with you
these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection

For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose aff
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more

-- The Beatles
(John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

How to be publicly pissed off

You're a head football coach. You have a beef with a member of the fourth estate.

boy howdy are you pissed.

Listen, it's not just that somebody wrote a column you didn't like. It's not even that somebody questioned your manhood in print.

That's just sticks-and-stones stuff. For the smart coach, that's no big whoop.

ON DEC. 1, 2007,
though, Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN erroneously reported that LSU's Les Miles was about to jump ship to his alma mater, Michigan. In hours, Miles and his Tigers were going to play Tennessee for the SEC championship and a slot in the national-championship game.

And then this:
A source has told ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit that barring any unforeseen circumstances, Michigan will announce early next week it has reached an agreement with LSU coach Les Miles to be its next head football coach.

Herbstreit is also reporting that Miles will make Georgia Tech defensive coordinator and interim head coach Jon Tenuta part of his staff at Michigan.

Miles, who played at Michigan and served two stints as an assistant under the late Bo Schembechler, will succeed Lloyd Carr, who stepped down after the Wolverines' loss to Ohio State last month.

Miles has been head coach at LSU since 2005. LSU is 32-6 with Miles at the helm, including 22 wins in his first 26 games as coach, and won 11 games in 2005 and 2006. The No. 7 Tigers (10-2), whose two losses this season both came in triple overtime, will play Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

Miles also coached at Oklahoma State, posting a 28-21 record between 2001 and 2004, and was tight ends coach for the Dallas Cowboys between 1998 and 2000.

Miles has a 60-27 overall record in seven seasons as a head coach.
A STORY like that, on a day like that, just might blow up everything.

One can imagine exactly how furious Miles must have been. The man also had to be the next best thing to panic-stricken.

And it was absolutely imperative that he talk to the press right then. The coach barely had the luxury of counting to 10 before opening his mouth.

Look at the video. If you're totally pissed off, but go before the assembled sports press you must . . . that is how you do it.

THE THING about Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini's petulant performance Saturday night after beating Ohio State was that his moment of crisis had passed. He had won the game. He ought to have been ecstatic.

Instead, he chose a very public venue to take very public shots at an Omaha World-Herald columnist who had the gall to have an opinion Pelini didn't like. About a column that, in light of Nebraska's win and its quarterback's second-half play, had just become a moot point.

IN 2007, Bo Pelini was Les Miles' defensive coordinator. The man learned nothing.

I wonder how long he'd keep around a player that willfully dense.

Joy. Eight dolla, cheap!

Being 50 is a lot like being 18.

Except that you might be a little smarter and a lot wiser. Also, your knees are creaky, your gut is larger, and you find that joy is a lot more a matter of the heart than of the wallet.

No, being 50 is nothing like 18 at all. Forget I said anything.

If you are lucky, when you are 50, your mind merely still thinks it's 18. You just wish you could remember where the hell . . . uh . . . well. . . .

You just wish you could remember what the hell you were trying to remember.

OK. BEING 50 is a lot like being 18 in that you find you still can take unfettered, fist-pumping, sing-along joy in a record album you just brought home.

Of course, real 18-year-olds -- as opposed to the mental kind -- probably know not what a record album is, except that it's something old people talk about a lot. And the store you just left with your musical treasure wasn't Muslcland . . . or Sam Goody . . . or Leisure Landing . . . or any one of a bazillion corner record stores, because none of these things exist anymore.

No, the store you just left is an antique store. Or Goodwill. Or maybe the vinyl bin at the used-CD place.

YOU, sir, are old.

But your spirit is young.

And you believe in magic.

You also still giggle a little over Kama Sutra Records, but let's not get into that in front of the young'uns.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

If looks could kill. . . .

Go to 4:45 in the video for the fireworks

You watched the press conference. You figure it out, huh? What do you think?

Well, Bo Pelini, I'll tell you. You seemed really angry at the Omaha World-Herald's Dirk Chatelain over what he's written about you and your quarterback, Taylor Martinez, the past week. If looks could kill, Coach, you'd be in jail right now.

But that's what the man gets paid to do, Bo. The state's biggest newspaper sends him out there to cover the Huskers -- and you (!!!) -- and then share his analysis with readers.

Sometimes you won't like that. Neither will Martinez. On the other hand, if the University of Nebraska-Lincoln wants to pay me about $2.775 million a year to take s*** from sportswriters when life hits a speed bump, I would not only take it like a man, I would write the columns for him.

After all, nobody knows what a true f***-up you are better than you, right?

Actually, I take that back. If NU only
would pay me $2.775 million to take s*** from Dirk Chatelain, I would have my wife write the columns for him. I'm sure there would be some really good stuff in there.

Meantime, Dirk and I would be eating onion rings and knocking back a few cold ones at Lazlo's.

COACH, times are tough. Some professors at the university have lost their jobs due to budget cuts. I'll bet most of them were damned good at what they do . . . uh, did.

You, on the other hand, get to toil away in the sandbox of higher education, you get paid about 40 or 50 times better that those profs do --
did -- and you get a multiyear contract with annual raises as the cherry atop the ice-cream sundae of life.

If Dirk Chatelain gets really furious at you . . . and if he does his job really, really well and harnesses the full arsenal of his persuasive weaponry . . . and if Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne picks up the World-Herald and -- upon reading Chatelain's vicious, Pulitzer-winning column about how you're the biggest putz ever to stumble out of Youngstown, Ohio, and quoting Bob Stoops as saying he always thought you were an idiot and a girlie man -- thinks "You know, Dirk's right! I've been a fool!" . . . and if T.O. then calls you into his palatial office and fires your sorry ass, triggering a bunch of boosters to buy out your contract . . . and if you've been living halfway frugally . . . you get to retire long before you hit the big 5-0.

You will find that you're pretty much set for life, and that's before you hire on as an outraged sports-talk radio host, where you actually
will be paid reasonably well to be a gigantic d*** to people. Right now, you're doing that on the side, gratis.

Bo, for a man who likes to accuse sportswriters of having no perspective, you seem to have precious little yourself. You can't see that you're like the proverbial chef who can't stand the heat of the kitchen. You're a poor, angry millionaire whining that you're being repressed by an evil cabal of five-digit thousandaires.

You want to legitimately complain about all the pressure on your 21-year-old quarterback? Then kick him off the team, get him kicked out of school, hand him a crapload of student-loan debt, a wife and three kids, and then tell him to have a nice life as he scrambles right into the maw of the Great Recession.

Perhaps you can get GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain to heckle him, telling the kid it's his own damned fault that he's not rich yet.

ALTERNATIVELY, Coach, you could just lose the glare, lose the 'tude, shut your mouth and get a clue.

Assuming you wish to continue as a college head football coach, someday you'll have to learn there's no percentage in being an a-hole. Not with the press, not with anybody.

See, nobody's perfect. Everybody screws up. At some point in life -- or at many points -- the bag of tricks comes up empty, the heavy artillery is firing blanks, the Answer Man just shrugs his shoulders, and we're forced to throw ourselves on the mercy of the court.

For you, Bo, that moment almost came Saturday night against a not-that-good Ohio State team. (You do realize your team won 34-27, right? Right?)

Soon enough, though, you'll be singing a tune different from your usual Johnny Rotten karaoke. You'll fake your best "Hey . . . GUYYYYS!" smile as you plead your case in the court of public opinion . . . presided over by the folks you've just spent years abusing.

And you'll pray the verdict -- that of folks just like Dirk Chatelain -- doesn't come back "No future, no future, no future for you."

Good luck with that.

P.S.: Don't think I don't understand a little bit about the Nebraska football coach. My wife probably is going to laugh really hard after reading this post.

3 Chords & the Truth: Gather 'round the iFi

One night of spin is what I'm praying for.

Wait . . . that doesn't sound quite right.

Or does it sound completely right? One night of spinning your favorite records on a machine so pretty that I'll bet the late Steve Jobs was envious of it. Yeah . . . sounds good. Sounds right.

I guess what 3 Chords & the Truth is all about is bridging realities, past and present. It's about putting a bunch of music together from yesterday and today, then mashing it all together as we try to translate the tactile, personal aesthetic of music and radio yesterday to the digital world of iWhatever today.

THIS, I suppose, is done in hope of a better tomorrow.

Or something.

That's the executive summary of what the Big Show is all about and what this episode of the Big Show is about. It's about bringing things together -- people together.

It's about bringing all kinds of music together, because there basically are only two kinds. Good and bad. The bad, we don't mess with. I've said that before and, no doubt, will say it again. And again.

So drop in, grab a cold one and grab a chair over here next to the hi-fi. There's a record party going on. We call it 3 Chords & the Truth . . . or the Big Show.

Either one.

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Pop a top with top o' the pops. Again.

It's late at night in the middle of the week.

You're drinking beer and playing this stuff -- the original half-century-old 45 RPM vinyl records, a ritual extending the full breadth of your recollection -- and you're contemplating life and this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth.

In that moment of being lost in yourself, in your memories, in the music (and perhaps in the beer), you are keenly aware of two things.

ONE. You were blessed with -- by accident of time, place and class -- an amazingly good foundation in popular music.

Two. You, by God, are a Southern boy, through and through. Even if, at present, you do a passable imitation of a middle-aged Midwesterner.

In the cold light of day, other thoughts worm their way into the keyboard and onto the blog. In particular, what is the equivalent for those a generation or two younger than a fool such as I?

What today, musically or otherwise, sets in stone one's sense of place, of culture, of identity? When does it happen -- mine happened at about the age of three, I reckon -- and what does it mean in these postmodern times?

What are the things -- the sounds -- that bypass the mind of the millennial and head straight for the soul? Do they understand identity and culture in the same way as their forebears? Indeed, does a young person in Omaha understand who and what he is in anything resembling that of a 50-year-old in Baton Rouge? Or a 20-year-old in Pascagoula?

Who am I? Of what am I? What do I hold dear? Hold sacred?

Eternal questions. I suspect how we answer them only has the whole world riding on it.

Welcome to the intersection of Culture and Everything.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Skippyjon schools tots in Mayhem 101

It's celebrity story time at the library.

The guest of honor is a popular literary cat with an oversized head.

The room is full of little kids.

What could go wrong?

The downtown branch of the Omaha Public Library was about to find out, says the Omaha World Herald's Josefina Loza:

Children love Skippyjon Jones because he's adventurous and has a knack for getting in and out of trouble. And at the library, Skippyjon lived up to his reputation, giving a few dozen children an unforgettable eyeful.

Parents, teachers and nannies guided children to a carpeted area on the fourth floor of the library. They anxiously awaited the grayish-brown kitten's arrival.

Minutes before story time, Skippyjon finally walked out of a back room to greet the kids.

Many of the little boys and girls inched closer to the costumed cat, who sat near a librarian who was reading one of his books. In between readings, Skippyjon gave hugs and handshakes.

As Omahan Joanna Ziemba, a downtown child care instructor, stepped closer to the cat, she noticed something was wrong. His oversized eyeball had started to dangle from its socket.

Another child care provider tried to warn Skippyjon about his droopy eye.

"Oh, no, Skippy," she said. "Your eye is about to fall out.

Here, let me put it back in."

READ the whole thing to find out what happened next.

I ain't telling you any more because, frankly, I don't want you spewing your damn coffee all over my perfectly clean blog.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

They were expendable

This about covers the entire category of America Today.

It has brought me to my Jeremiah Wright moment.

If this posting doesn't hit you where you live. . . .

A few days ago, my mother was told she was going to be laid off. She’s a receptionist at a medical office. She’s been there for 16 years.

It was out of the blue, and as she sat on my couch in shock and sobbing, and as I sat there in the rare reversed role of comforter, I began to realize what she was most upset about was not how she would pay her bills, though that is big concern, but rather, how hurt she was.

She saw them as her family. New doctors, multiple office managers, ever-changing policies, she had been there through it all—not for the money—but because she cared.

She may not look as important on paper as a doctor or a nurse or a medical assistant, but she knew the name of every patient and drug rep who came through that door.

She wasn’t just a receptionist, she was an advocate.

She was the one who fit you into a jammed schedule when you were too sick to wait, the one who got you the paperwork you needed, the one who got you in with the specialist during the scariest moment of your life, the one who saw you struggling with a newborn baby in a waiting room full of illness and shuffled you into a room, no questions asked.

And she came home that day with the very hard realization that the very people she loved and devoted 16 years of her life to saw her as disposable. It broke her heart.

It got me thinking about my parent’s generation. I come from an honest-to-goodness blue-collar family, my father working for the Ohio Turnpike for over 30 years. Come December, he too, will be laid off, replaced by a machine that takes quarters through a slot over a smile and a hello.
IF THIS is the totality of our future as a country . . . may we not have one as a country. If this is how we roll, if this is how expendable we consider ourselves and others, then may God damn America.

In that eventuality, may God damn America, because America will have become an empire of things -- rank utilitarianism . . . societal objectification . . . callousness . . . dehumanization -- not a country of free men and women, one nation under God, indivisible,
yadda yadda yadda.

Once upon a time, we fought wars against empires kind of like us, that thought kind of like what now is in vogue here.

Enough is enough, and humans are not things -- no matter how hard we try to make them so. Occupy Wall Street.

And K Street.

And Main Street.

Sic transit gloria mundi

Steve Jobs is dead.

He died today at 56, about 35½ years after he co-founded Apple -- the company from which our capitalist society derives the worth and breadth of his existence.

CBS News and

Jobs also set the company on the path to becoming a consumer-electronics powerhouse, creating and improving products such as the iPod, iTunes, and later, the iPhone and iPad. Apple is the most valuable technology company in the world, and has a market capitalization second to only ExxonMobil, which Apple surpassed multiple times this past August.

He did so in his own fashion, imposing his ideas and beliefs on his employees and their products in ways that left many a career in tatters. Jobs enforced a culture of secrecy at Apple and was an extremely demanding leader, terrorizing Apple employees when he returned to the company in the late 1990s with summary firings if he didn't like the answers they gave when questioned.

Jobs was an intensely private person. That quality put him and Apple at odds with government regulators and stockholders who demanded to know details about his ongoing health problems and his prognosis as the leader and alter ego of his company. It spurred a 2009 SEC probe into whether Apple's board had made misleading statements about his health.

In the years before he fell ill in 2008, Jobs seemed to soften a bit, perhaps due to his bout with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004.

In 2005, his remarks to Stanford graduates included this line: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."

Later, in 2007, he appeared onstage at the D: All Things Digital conference for a lengthy interview with bitter rival Bill Gates, exchanging mutual praise and prophetically quoting the Beatles: "You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead."

Jobs leaves behind his wife, four children, two sisters, and 49,000 Apple employees.

THAT IS our measure of this just-departed man. Late was the day that even Jobs himself started to seriously question the limits we placed upon his worth . . . and upon the true meaning of his life.

Sic transit gloria mundi is a concept that bedevils us. Always has, always will as we scratch and claw here in a desert land well east of Eden.

UPDATE: My old 1993 Mac. Started right up last summer after a decade in the closet. Despite the point of the above posting, you gotta give the man, and the company he founded, their technological props.

Thought I'd just throw this up here

I don't know why. . . .

Simply '70s: Jerry Vale's World

In 1972, Jerry Vale was the kind of guy who got played on your parents' favorite radio station.

My generation did not willingly listen to these stations in 1972, nor did we willingly watch the Jerry Vale's World special on TV that year.

Don't think that stuff didn't have an impact, though.

It had an impact on the creative forces behind SCTV in the late '70s and early '80s, and it had an impact on those of us who howled with laughter because we got the joke.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Apparently, the Germans are decades overdue

G*ddamn Krauts.

A few centuries of religious wars, Karl Marx, the Franco-Prussian War, World War I, Adolf Hitler, World War II and the Berlin Wall apparently weren't enough for Everybody's Favorite Troublemakers.

No, that wasn't enough, because they largely left out the dogs. Until now. Until Gunther and Georg decided that multinational conglomerates need to start targeting ads at our pets, not just our kids.

If there's anything I don't need, it's Molly and Scout watching their favorite shows on television, and then pestering me after every Beneful commercial just like I did my parents for Great Shakes, G.I. Joe and a Gilbert American Flyer train set.

But no. It's not enough that me and the missus drag our sorry asses to Hy-Vee every week to get dog food by the sackful for the two simple-minded loafers getting dog hair all over our couch while we're out of the house.

Now we have to have the little bastards reminding us that it's either a sack of Beneful atop the fridge or a puddle of piss on the dining-room floor.

you know that, according to Reuters, the people destined to throw the world into chaos every generation or three, those g*ddamn Krauts, are behind the whole doggone thing:

Nestle, one of the world's biggest makers of pet food, said on Friday it had launched the first television commercial designed especially for dogs, using a high-frequency tone to grab their attention.

"Dogs' hearing is twice as sharp as humans. They can pick up frequencies which are beyond our range and they are better at differentiating sounds," said Georg Sanders, a nutrition expert at Nestle Purina PetCare in Germany.

Nestle asked experts in pet behavior in the United States to research what would appeal to dogs and used the results to create the 23-second commercial for its Beneful dog food brand.

The advert, to be screened on Austrian television this week, features a tone similar to a dog whistle, which humans can barely hear, as well as an audible "squeak" like the sound dogs' toys make and a high-pitched "ping."

"So delicious, so healthy, so happy," ends the commercial in German, which features a dog pricking up his ears.

"The television commercial aims to reach both the pet and the owner, supporting the special one-to-one relationship between them," said Xavier Perez, Brand Manager of Beneful for Europe.

NO, IT'S NOT enough that Molly yaps and yaps and yaps at me when it gets within two hours of meal time, and that the elderly Scout attaches his creaky little body to my leg like a furry tumor. Now it's going to start in the middle of Rin Tin Tin reruns whenever the Beneful commercial comes on.

"DAD! DAD! DAD! Beneful! Now! Get Beneful! Food! Food! Get Beneful! Now! We'll pee!"

Just. F***ing. Great.

G*ddamn Krauts.

Wir fahrn, fahrn, fahrn auf der Superbahn

What this country needs is a good, old-fashioned socialist revolution that's not on behalf of investment banks, multinational corporations or professional sports franchises.

We've had enough of the other socialist revolution -- the one that brought us accountability-free Wall Street bailouts, the military-industrial complex and states fighting over corporations like whores fighting over a john with a big . . . wallet. The one that ushered in the members-only welfare state. The one that treats corporations like people and people like trash. The one that socializes risk and privatizes reward.

You can have that socialist revolution. No . . . wait.
I want that socialist revolution. I'll bet you would enjoy it, too.

But if you promise not to blab it all over, I'd probably settle for something as simple as the American Dream . . . which we all thought well within reach back when we still dared to dream.

OK, here's my bottom line, which still might be a bridge too far in this age of country-club kleptomaniacs and the best government campaign donations can buy: Is it too much to ask that if taxpayers are going to shell out major dollars for giant public-works projects, that government at least maintains the
pretense the work was on the public's behalf?

Take sports arenas and stadiums, for example.
Remember when you could remember their names?

Plastichrome- Superdome  sign 1975

REMEMBER when you could remember which ballpark was in which city?

Remember when you could remember what the one you helped pay for is being called this week?

In this age of steel-and-concrete commercials for corporate interests, we were down to just a handful of stadiums you could figure out. One was the Louisiana Superdome.

The Superdome opened in 1975, when I was in ninth grade. Building it was a stretch for a poor state like Louisiana, and we still didn't have too much we could hang our civic-pride hats on even after the Dome opened. But, by God, we had that.

And what a "that" we had.

It was a marvel in 1975 -- about the only thing you could say was world-class about the Gret Stet back then, other than the food and the music -- and it's a marvel today. And still, it's about the only thing you can say is world-class about the Gret Stet, other than the food and the music.

And it was the LOUISIANA Superdome.
Take that, Mississippi. And did you know you could fit the Houston Astrodome inside the thing?

Take that, Texas.

But the Houston Astrodome is now the vacant and dilapidated Reliant Astrodome.

And the Louisiana Superdome -- the pride of a state, the landmark whose ground was hallowed by great suffering during Katrina and which rose from the muck like a swamp phoenix -- is about to become the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Take that, Louisiana. At least you can take small comfort in knowing that German money will be paying billionaire Tom Benson to keep the Saints in New Orleans, and not the cash-strapped state government.

WHAT I WANT to know is this: If a German car company will pay the New Orleans Saints craploads of money to rename the domed stadium built by the people of the Gret Stet of Louisiana, thus keeping the NFL team fat, happy and in town . . .
what else could we get the world's corporate titans to pay for?

For instance, New Orleans is a mess. If any city in America needs a bailout, a makeover and a little domestic nation-building, it's New Orleans. Well, Detroit, too . . . but that's not important now.

Trouble is, Louisiana is still a poor state. And one not particularly inclined, or able, to pull off an urban-renewal project of that magnitude -- especially since Katrina trashed the place.
So, what if we sold naming rights to it?

I don't know about you, but I think Exxon-Mobil, La., has a certain
je ne sais quoi. You think the advertising value is worth, say, $10 billion for 10 years?

C'mon down! And don't forget to visit the Exxon Extra French Quarter and put a tiger in your tank!

Or how about Apple? The hip factor alone should make Crescent City naming rights attractive to the ubercool tech colossus.
Apple, La. Short . . . sweet . . . has pizazz.

Wait! Wait! Three words:
The Drunken Apple. Now, that's a good 30-percent funner than the Big Apple.

PERHAPS I could get used to this selling-your-soul thing.

Maybe Corporate America
even could be persuaded to help out Louisiana with its finances. I think that if we could come up with the perfect naming-rights deal, it just might give the ol' coffers quite the stimulus package.

By jove . . .
I think I've got it!

The Trojan Magnum State Capitol