Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Final score: Sneaux 63, Louisiana 0

This picture appeared in The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, part of its exhaustive (or perhaps just exhausting) coverage of the Bayou Sneauxpocalypse.

Here, we see Yolanda Powell scraping snow and ice off her car at Louisiana Gaming and Truck Stop in St. Francisville with . . . a magazine. This amuses Yankees, who know that after a few minutes of this, the magazine will be gone but the ice will remain.

Child, you work AT A TRUCK STOP. Go to the kitchen and borrow a spatula, which is close enough to an ice scraper for gummint work.

Winter. It's not brain surgery, people.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Where have all the troubadours gone?

This is not a promising start to the week.

This is a terrible start to the week.

Pete Seeger is dead. God rest him, and God help us, for we are diminished.

From The New York Times today:
Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.

For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.

In his hearty tenor, Mr. Seeger, a beanpole of a man who most often played 12-string guitar or five-string banjo, sang topical songs and children’s songs, humorous tunes and earnest anthems, always encouraging listeners to join in. His agenda paralleled the concerns of the American left: He sang for the labor movement in the 1940s and 1950s, for civil rights marches and anti-Vietnam War rallies in the 1960s, and for environmental and antiwar causes in the 1970s and beyond. “We Shall Overcome,” which Mr. Seeger adapted from old spirituals, became a civil rights anthem.
Mr. Seeger was a prime mover in the folk revival that transformed popular music in the 1950s. As a member of the Weavers, he sang hits including Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” — which reached No. 1 — and “If I Had a Hammer,” which he wrote with the group’s Lee Hays. Another of Mr. Seeger’s songs, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," became an antiwar standard. And in 1965, the Byrds had a No. 1 hit with a folk-rock version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” Mr. Seeger’s setting of a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Mr. Seeger was a mentor to younger folk and topical singers in the ‘50s and ‘60s, among them Bob Dylan, Don McLean and Bernice Johnson Reagon, who founded Sweet Honey in the Rock. Decades later, Bruce Springsteen drew the songs on his 2006 album, “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,” from Mr. Seeger’s repertoire of traditional music about a turbulent American experience, and in 2009 he performed Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” with Mr. Seeger at the Obama inaugural. At a Madison Square Garden concert celebrating Mr. Seeger’s 90th birthday, Mr. Springsteen introduced him as “a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along.”

Although he recorded more than 100 albums, Mr. Seeger distrusted commercialism and was never comfortable with the idea of stardom. He invariably tried to use his celebrity to bring attention and contributions to the causes that moved him, or to the traditional songs he wanted to preserve.

The light of Christ

Cathedral, Omaha,
on a winter's
Saturday evening
after the vigil Mass.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: Music, Magic and Martinis

Remember when radio could set a mood, even when that wasn't its overt aim?

Remember when listening to the radio in the night, in the dark, could transport you across town . . . or across the continent?

Remember the magic? Remember the variety? 

Remember classy music, grown-ups behind the microphone and a world that wasn't quite your own but nevertheless held this mysterious allure, whether you could admit it back in the day or not?

Remember back in the day?

Your Mighty Favog does, for he is old . . . ish. And 3 Chords & the Truth does, too, this week, for we at the Big Show are in a mood.

YES, we love our rock 'n' roll here, and our country, too, but sometimes . . . sometimes we really miss this stuff. In the '60s and '70s, folks my age thought this was "old people's music."

Now, it's kind of like a security blanket, realizing as we do that we are today's "old people." It's also memories, magic and music in the night, wafting through the airwaves from across town or across the country.

You can't put that in an iPod or a smart phone, though, by God, this week 3 Chords & the Truth is gonna try. Being that's the only option we have these days.

MAYBE this episode of the Big Show should be called "Music, Magic and Martinis in the Night." Whatever you call it, just call it a fine listening experience.

Especially with a martini in the night.

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

Share Our Suck

Are you better off now than you were 83 years ago?

The editors of Politico Magazine asked that question recently, wading through the fever swamps of demographics to rank these more-or-less United States from best to worst, with a nod to a similar 1931 effort by H.L. Mencken and
Charles Angoff in the American Mercury.

New Hampshire is tops. Guess which states are at the bottom.

For the last-place state (No. 51 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia), it's the same as it ever was -- Mississippi was the hellhole of the nation way back when, too. And for the first runner-up of national suck, things have changed for the worst since Huey P. Long was governor, free textbooks were a new innovation for Louisiana public schools and there were still more dirt roads than paved ones.

EIGHT SPOTS worth of worst, actually. Louisiana was No. 42 in 1931 -- "Bobby, you're doing a heck of a job!" If the Gret Stet's unrelentingly ambitious Gov. Jindal still wants to do for (to?) America what he did to my home state, I have two words on the campaign manager front: Michael Brown.

One thing in the Gret Stet does remain ever constant, though.  That would be the age-old Louisiana mantra of "Thank God for Mississippi!"
In a three-part series the magazine called “The Worst American State,” the pair compiled dozens of rankings of population data, largely from the 1930 census, determined to anoint the best and worst of the 48 states (and the District of Columbia), according to various measures of wealth, culture, health and public safety. In the end, Mencken and Angoff declared Connecticut and Massachusetts “the most fortunate American States,” and they deemed Mississippi “without a serious rival to the lamentable preëminence of the Worst American State” (diaeresis credit to Mencken, who, it should be noted, was from Maryland, No. 28 on his list). “The results will probably surprise no one,” they wrote. “Most Americans, asked to name the most generally civilized American State, would probably name Massachusetts at once, and nine out of ten would probably nominate Mississippi as the most backward.”
The methodology behind their exercise might not have been airtight, and the presumed definition of what is a “good” and “bad” state was clearly swayed by the writers’ prejudices and the time period; aside from the fact that many of their rankings had only partial data, consider that representation in the “American Men of Science” directory was factored into each state’s rank for culture, and lynchings for public safety. But the pair was onto something when they wrote that there are some aspects of daily life that most Americans can agree on: Education and health are good things, crime is a bad thing and “any civilization which sees an increase in the general wealth is a civilization going up grade, not down.”
 BOBBY JINDAL always did think H.L. Mencken was a commerniss.

Friday, January 17, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: Favog! Favog!

Omaha! Omaha!

That's all we've been hearing lately, thanks to the buzz, the meme and the hype over Peyton Manning's favorite snap-count indicator.

The Broncos' quarterback has started something, and it ain't in "Denver! Denver!"

It's in "Omaha! Omaha!"  The city 3 Chords & the Truth calls Home! Home!

I WONDER whether the Denver chamber of commerce is as Pissed! Pissed! as ours is Pleased! Pleased!

Mr. Berman, we're ready for our close-up.

On its face, this has nothing to do with this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth, which is as good a music show as Archie's baby boy is a pro quarterback. Except. . . .

The Big Show -- especially this week, being we're all rejuvenated after a post-holiday break -- is so bleedin' good, I think it's only reasonable that Peyton (contra "Omaha! Omaha!") ought to be checking to "Favog! Favog!"

YOU SAY I'm an egomaniac. I say I'd be saving the Denver QB two precious syllables every time. That could be the difference between a touchdown and a delay of game penalty. Think about it.

And while you're thinking about the wisdom of my words, why don't you download this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth? I guarantee you'll be just as blown away as the average defensive coordinator trying to figure out how to stop Peyton Manning on a Sunday afternoon.

Tune in to Omaha! Omaha! when it's Music! Music! you love, because that's where you'll find little ol' me and the Big Show.

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

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Death's who's coming for breakfast

Five-year-old Payton Benson was eating breakfast Wednesday morning when a bullet with her name on it exploded through the wall of her north Omaha home and killed her dead.

The cussing ghetto toddler of Omaha viral-video fame fired the shot.

The gang bangers poisoning the young mind of the cussing Omaha toddler fired the shot.

The idiot teenage mother of the cussing Omaha toddler, who thinks "kids cuss" because, no doubt, that's as normal for a 2-year-old as breathing, fired the shot.

The deviant, criminally inclined and now-imprisoned mama of the idiot teenage mother of the cussing Omaha toddler fired the shot.

The no-count baby daddies so quick on the draw and even quicker to split when a hot mama turns into a baby mama fired the shot. Ditto for those young women so frustratingly committed to looking for love in all the wrong places.

The perpetually aggrieved talking heads who condemned the Omaha police union for highlighting the obvious -- whatever its motive at the time -- because to tell an inconvenient truth is somehow self-evidently racist . . . they pulled the trigger, too.

The law-and-order politicians content to "solve" the crime problem by cramming the state's prisons to bursting with the thug children of an underclass anticulture -- and doing it while ignoring grinding poverty, invincible hopelessness and that underclass anticulture thing. . . . 

Pulled the trigger.

No doubt they'll demand the death penalty for everybody except themselves. Because crime.

Because "justice."

ACTUALLY, little Payton Benson died because a bunch of American Frankenstein's monsters a block over -- no doubt once just like the cussing Omaha toddler, poisoned by the same culture of death that hates life and knows no hope -- were shooting it out in the middle of the street. Witnesses mentioned a handgun and a high-powered rifle.

A slug from one of those guns missed whomever its intended target was, flew down the block and down the block and down the block some more but still had enough juice to penetrate the walls of 3328 N. 45th St., and then the little body of a little girl who never saw death coming. Says the Omaha World-Herald:
The mother, Tabatha Manning, ran out screaming, a relative said.

Payton was Omaha's first homicide of the new year.

“Bullets know no boundaries, they know no target, they are going to land where they land,”
[Police Chief Todd] Schmaderer said during a press conference Wednesday evening.

“Enough of the gang violence, and enough with the random shootings.”

Schmaderer and
[Omaha Mayor Jean] Stothert promised to find the person who killed an innocent girl. Both leaders expressed their sympathy for Payton's family members.

“I promise this family and I promise this community that my homicide investigators, my gang investigators, will work around the clock, leaving no stone unturned to solve this homicide,” Schmaderer said.

Shell casings indicated that gunfire broke out at the intersection of 44th Avenue and Emmet Street, a block from Payton's house. Multiple people exchanged gunfire, Schmaderer said.

Police were looking for three black men who fled in a black Jeep Commander. Initial 911 reports described one as having a handgun, one armed with a high-powered rifle and the third wearing a bandanna.

Police found a Jeep matching that description at St. James Manor Apartments, 3102 N. 60th St., but they had not determined whether the vehicle was involved.
The chief said he had a message for the assailants: “You know who you are, and law enforcement will find out who you are. It may not have been your bullet that struck this little girl. So do the right thing and do yourself a favor in the process. Come down and talk to law enforcement and tell us what you know.”

Massey Allen III, 33, who identified himself as a relative of Payton, said he was stopped at 45th Street and Bedford Avenue when he heard gunfire and ducked under his steering wheel.

Allen estimated that about 20 shots were fired. Several neighbors called 911, and officers patrolling the neighborhood heard the gunshots and responded, Schmaderer said. Payton was pronounced dead at Creighton University Medical Center.

Allen said Manning, 31, had recently moved to Omaha from Chicago. She wanted to earn a nursing degree, he said.

SEE WHAT trying to better yourself gets you in the 'hood? Your kid killed at the breakfast table by the unintended consequence of unintended consequences. That's the underclass anticulture for you. How very racist of me to mention that, despite it not being just a black thing.

Today, the police chief is outraged, the mayor is outraged and the whole city is outraged. We've been outraged before; we'll be outraged again. We Omahans -- we Americans -- are goddamned good at outrage, but not so much at actually doing something about that which outrages us again and again and again and again and again.

We're working on it, though. Results are preliminary, but we're pretty sure the solution has something to do with giving teachers concealed weapons, blaming big government (or institutionalized racism . . . one or the other), lowering taxes (or raising taxes on the rich), moving farther out in the suburbs, moving to a dee-luxe apartment in the downtown sky, cutting food stamps because . . . well, look at Those People . . . and going shopping.

The shopping part, we've got nailed.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Because Satan never sleeps

This is horrible.

This is sick.

This is so not safe for work.

This is so, so very wrong -- depraved. No, depraved doesn't quite cover it. There are no words strong enough to denounce what's been done here.

But it is what it is. The Omaha Police Officers Association has reposted a Facebook video from a local "thug" that basically shows how to raise your kid to be a gangsta. This is part of a grand racist plot by the Man to keep the people down and portray every black male as a public menace -- obviously!  

Somebody cap they ass!

RACISM. Hate. That must be it. What else could it be? Snark Upper Middle-Class White Hipsters Like Gawker said. And so did some African-American pundits and groups, finding that condemning some Omaha cops who illuminated the cultural cancer at the heart of the black underclass -- specifically, the criminal black underclass -- was a much better use of their time and energy than actually doing something about the cultural cancer at the heart of the black underclass.

This is because it would be hasty to assume that a diaper-clad toddler who is called a bitch, a "ho" and a pussy, is told "Fuck you!" and "Suck my dick!" then learns to parrot the same for the camera -- with an extra added middle-finger gesture thrown in -- will grow up to be highly dysfunctional, and probably criminally so. It's always hasty to assume the obvious.

Just because you're raised to be a foul-mouthed, moronic thug is no indicator that you might turn out to be a foul-mouthed, moronic thug. The "logical outcome" is a racist construct unjustly propagated by the Omaha Police Officers Association to keep the black man down.

Oh, no! We must not insist that two plus two equals four! For shame!

LISTEN, Omaha cops' hands aren't clean in the world of local race relations. That's been well documented over the years. Nevertheless, a battalion of Bull Connors could not oppress African-Americans as effectively as the toxic culture that's turned inner cities into war zones, too many men into monsters, too many fathers into vanishing acts and too many mothers into "baby mamas."

And the critical mass of deformed human beings produced by that culture already has cast aspersions upon every black male in America -- already has stereotyped a whole race long before the Omaha police union supposedly got around to it. Ignoring the asteroid that just wiped out the 'hood won't undo the smoking crater in the middle of town.

The black underclass won't magically turn into the black middle class if we just avert our gaze. You can't treat an illness if you cannot acknowledge its existence. You cannot address a problem which must not be named.

Sometimes, the obvious is what it is. And sometimes, that what we can't acknowledge is a problem may or may not ultimately be white people's historical fault is, at this point, rather beside the point.

Besides, toxic cultures aren't race-specific. If we ignore this "canary in the coal mine," we all will achieve the perfect equality that exists in oblivion.

UPDATE: Child Protective Services found the kid, found the human excrement "raising" him . . . and came down like a ton of bricks. They've taken the toddler and three other children into protective custody. 

Obviously, this is because Nebraskans are racist hicks unable to embrace the proper theology, geometry and ideology of their moral betters at Gawker Media.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Rammer jammer crazy hammer,
psychotic break, Alabama!

The world would be a better place if we could take all the Alabama fans and lock them in a domed stadium with, say, all the Texas fans for a football game, then let Darwin take his course.

With emphasis on "lock them in." 

UPDATE: It's just as awesome with the raw sound! As one YouTube commenter said before going off the rails (Hey! It's the YouTube comments section!), "Gumps gonna be Gumps!"

I'll do my crying in the rain

From the day I was old enough to put a 45 onto a phonograph platter and a needle into a record groove, the Everly Brothers have been part of the soundtrack of my life.

Some years before that, the siblings -- who first hit the airwaves on KMA radio in Shenandoah, Iowa, about 70 miles down the road from where I write -- made themselves a linchpin not just of rock 'n' roll, but also of something culturally more expansive. From the Los Angeles Times obituary:
Phil Everly, who with his brother, Don, made up the most revered vocal duo of the rock-music era, their exquisite harmonies profoundly influencing the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Byrds and countless younger-generation rock, folk and country singers, has died. He was 74.

Everly died Friday at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his wife, Patti Everly, told The Times.

"We are absolutely heartbroken," she said, noting that the disease was the result of a lifetime of cigarette smoking. "He fought long and hard."
During the height of their popularity in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Everly Brothers charted nearly three dozen hits on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, among them "Cathy's Clown," "Wake Up Little Susie," "Bye Bye Love," "When Will I Be Loved" and "All I Have to Do Is Dream." They were among the first 10 performers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when it got off the ground in 1986.

"They had that sibling sound," said Linda Ronstadt, who scored one of the biggest hits of her career in 1975 with her recording of "When Will I Be Loved," which Phil Everly wrote. "The information of your DNA is carried in your voice, and you can get a sound [with family] that you never get with someone who's not blood related to you. And they were both such good singers — they were one of the foundations, one of the cornerstones of the new rock 'n' roll sound."

Robert Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, said Friday, "When you talk about harmony singing in the popular music of the postwar period, the first place you start is the Everly Brothers.... You could say they were the vocal link between all the 1950s great doo-wop groups and what would come in the 1960s with the Beach Boys and the Beatles. They showed the Beach Boys and the Beatles how to sing harmony and incorporate that into a pop music form that was irresistible."
Vince Gill, the 20-time Grammy-winning country singer and guitarist, said in an interview with The Times on Friday: "I honestly believe I've spent the last 40 years, on every record I've been part of for somebody else, trying to be an Everly. On every harmony part I've sung, I was trying to make it as seamless as Phil did when he sang with Don. They had an unfair advantage — they were brothers — but I've spent my whole life chasing that beautiful, beautiful blend."

AND WHEN YOU have that kind of impact on those who follow -- when you can transcend mere celebrity and touch something so deep inside so many -- something happens that leaves the word "profound" wildly insufficient as an adjective.

When you connect on that level . . . first with an individual and then another, and another, and another, and then scores upon scores more . . . and then you work your way into the conversation that is culture . . . and then those whose souls you first touched begin to reach out. . . .

THEN you live forever, even though you someday die.

Phil Everly is dead. Long live Phil Everly.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The face-off

The New Year's Eve face-off.

Molly the Dog isn't quite sure what to make of Britney the Cat. Britney the Cat wants no part of Molly the Dog.

So there you go.