Saturday, May 18, 2019

3 Chords & the Truth: A Dacron state of mind


Call me Dacron.

Dacron. Dacron Polyester.

The Big Show this week is in a Dacron state of mind. Very double-knit. Give me some Boone's Farm, and I might get triple-knit to the wind.

That's pretty much where your Mighty Favog -- and 3 Chords & the Truth -- happen to be this week. Stuck in the 1970s. Actually, in retrospect, that's not such an awful place to be.

Especially musically.

HERE'S THE thing: It occurred to me the other day that next week, specifically May 23, marks the 40th anniversary of my graduation from Baton Rouge Magnet High School. And as you'll be able to tell from the show, my mind is still 18.

My body, not so much.

But, damn, the music is so good. Thank you Young Favog.

You're quite welcome, Old Fart Favog.

Now cue the nostalgia . . . along with the usual eclecticism.

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

Friday, May 10, 2019

3 Chords & the Truth: An unapologetic blot


The Big Show is an unapologetic blot on the face of mindless musical conformity.

Do now what you will with that. I don't care.

3 Chords & the Truth is all about the music, exquisite taste and creative programming . . . not dumb preconceptions from the Usual Suspects. And boy, howdy, is this edition of the program an example of that.

You betcha, pally.

That is all. My throat hurts, and my typing fingers are sympathizing.

It's . . . well, you know what it is. Be there. Aloha.


Thursday, May 02, 2019

They get pretty brazen once the holidays are done


Look out the window. See turkeys.

Apparently, that's just how we roll in our neighborhood here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

3 Chords & the Truth: Is this thing (cough) on?


This edition of 3 Chords & the Truth is brought to you by a 60-something-year-old RCA KN-1A pressure microphone . . . and the croaking, hacking crud.

Trust me, the music on this week's edition of the Big Show sounds better than I do. It ain't even close because, of course, the music on the program always sounds great.

And a host who sounds like he's 85 going on eternity at least should benefit from the vintage "golden age of radio" warmth of a cool, old microphone.

Yes, it all started at a 20-watt FM station in Baton Rouge, La. . . .

I KNOW, I know. Knock it off, Ted Baxter!

And stop the radio-gear geekery while you're at it.

Message heard. Now about the music. . . .

Well, we have a little of everything on this 3 Chords & the Truth, spanning much of the 20th and a little of the 21st centuries. That includes a jazz band of future legends led by a dude playing a comb.

We also get our tie dye on, then jam with the Night Tripper a bit later on the show. And we got 78s. More than our share of 78s.

And that's about it. I need to go hack up a lung now.

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


Friday, April 26, 2019

It's one of those flat states in the middle. . . .


I've lived in Omaha for 31 years now, and I have to tell you that it's news to me that Heidi Heitkamp is my former U.S. senator.

Oh . . . wait. She's not. She was a North Dakota senator until January.

Nebraska . . . North Dakota . . . seed caps, John Deere tractors, unbearable winters, old white rustics who wouldn't know a frappuccino from a woke meme. What's the difference?

Am I right?

I mean, if you've seen one part of Flyover Country -- And, really, why would you want to? -- you've seen it all. And now back to our breaking news . . . a gay Black Lives Matters activist is condemning some shit on one coast or the other.

Am I right, Time mag, mag?

Sorry, but as a proud rube out here on the flown-over Great Plains, my "inclusive" media betters out there in D.C. got me on the rag, rag.

And while they're at it, they can take their insults about the queen and shove them up their royal Timese machine.


News flash! Some of us prairie pigf***ers are familiar with Joan Baez.

YOU HAVE to be a lifelong resident of Flyover Country to get how grating it is to be so insignificant that you can have a story actually get onto the effing Time magazine website, and then onto effing Apple News without anyone effing noticing that Heidi Heitkamp is from effing North Dakota and not effing Nebraska. After all the news coverage about how the red-state Democrat would vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court after the Me Too furor over his high-school and college "boofing" (and how her no vote likely cost her re-election), how could you not effing know?

One could let it slide as a simple brain fart if it weren't for a lifetime of observing Coastal America being shocked that, for example, Omaha has goddamn paved streets, decent restaurants and broadband Internet connectivity. And that there are no cattle herds wandering down Dodge Street in search of forage.

This actually is an improvement over New Yorkers -- again, for example -- who've been here and point out what a relative backwater it is. Perhaps, but our house payment here might rent a cardboard box over a steam grate there.


What's sad is that folks in these parts actually are, on some level, desperate for the approval of our cosmopolitan "betters" and always have been. We seek validation from those who scarcely know we exist and, with vanishingly few exceptions, we ain't gonna get it.

But that's not the half of the flyover equation. I grew up in Louisiana. No, there were no alligators in my back yard. Yes, we did have indoor plumbing. Many folks can read, write and cipher some.

And you are one Category 5 hurricane in the wrong place from freezing in the dark, America.

LET'S BE honest here. The only damned reason Time magazine gives a good goddamn about former U.S. Sen Heidi Heitkamp of Nebraska . . . North Dakota . . . whatever . . . is that Donald Trump is president of the United States, lots of Forgotten America like Nebraska and Louisiana voted for him, and he's turned out to be a fascist nightmare.

There's nothing like the political equivalent of a global thermonuclear exchange to finally get your attention. Am I right?

Maybe, ultimately, that was the point of his election. After all, the alt-right may be on the upswing, but it's not an Electoral College majority. Plenty of reasonable, decent Americans in Flyover Country were content to throw a bomb into America's entire rigged, classist political and social infrastructure. Oops.

I'm just spitballin' here, but perhaps there was an element of "You can ignore us, but we can kill you" in there as well. Just like the "yellow vests" in France, who largely hail from the forgotten périphérique of the country, flyover folk know who couldn't care less about them -- and they have less and less to lose by blowing the whole damned thing the hell up.

And they also well know the limits of Woke America's inclusivity.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

King of Kooks, Lord of Losers

The Passion of Steve King (Wikipedia photo)
I'm just gonna leave this right here. Because there is no bottom anymore.
U.S. Rep. Steve King invoked the story of Jesus Christ at a town hall in Cherokee, Iowa, on Tuesday, comparing his experience of being called out for racist remarks in the House of Representatives to Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.

“When I have to step down to the floor of the House of Representatives, and look up at those 400-and-some accusers — you know we just passed through Easter and Christ’s passion — and I have better insight into what He went through for us partly because of that experience,” the Iowa Republican said, referring to the biblical story of Jesus’ trek to Calvary and execution on a cross in Jerusalem.

King told the roughly 30 constituents at the town hall Tuesday that the prayers he has received from others have helped him through the tough time and given him a “certain peace,” the Sioux City Journal reported.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

3 Chords & the Truth: Chasing electrons under the covers


If you're asking me what the hell I mean about "chasing electrons under the covers," you're asking the wrong sleep-deprived guy.

You have your electrons, and you have your covers. There you go. There may be chasing involved, though I'm unsure how you find and catch the exact ones you're seeking.

Thus, my friend, is the central mystery of 3 Chords & the Truth, where playing great music means never having to say . . . things that make any damned sense.

We do, however, have a set of mighty fine cover songs on the program this week, which is as close as we come to being comprehensible right now. And I have to tell you, there is nothing -- nothing -- more 1972 than Steve Lawrence covering Bobby Sherman . . . or Cass Elliott if that's how one prefers to roll.

Are we there yet?

Well, we are now.

It's the Big Show, pally. Be there. Aloha.


Friday, April 05, 2019

3 Chords & the Truth: Ghost tunes for mellow moods


My hobby is dead people's music.

OK, maybe not all of them are dead. Some just have moved into nursing homes or senior apartments.

And, to be fair, some of the music I fixate upon probably was their kids', left decades ago at Mom and Dad's place. But what we're talking about today definitely was Mom and Dad's music . . . which, alas, they couldn't take with them. Wherever.

A fair amount of what you hear on 3 Chords & the Truth falls into that category -- especially on this episode. After all, when there's only two kinds of music in the world -- good and bad, and the bad, you don't mess with -- you tend to mix and match.

A lot.

BUT GRANDPA'S LOSS is your gain on the Big Show. My parents' generation, as it turns out, had much better taste than I gave it credit for four decades ago. Once again, the old folks' have the last laugh, even if it might be from the Great Beyond.

I've been grabbing music -- much of it long out of print -- at estate sales for a long time now. At first, the main attraction of the "grown-up music" from back when I wasn't yet one was one of sheer irony. It was a hoot. Turning the tables on oneself, and one's misspent youth, for kicks and giggles.

The other attraction of "the velvet sounds" was that, back in the day, it was actually owned by grown-ups. Grown-ups took care of their records, generally. Their kids . . . my generation . . . didn't, due to being teenagers, who are well-known idiots. (I have long, very personal experience with this from four decades and change ago.)

Thus, when I find "my" music at estate sales, good luck finding good rock LPs and 45s that haven't been beat to hell. So you grab Mom and Dad's stuff that hasn't.

AND THE funny thing is, well, it's not bad. Actually, it's damned good. The "elevator music" of one's youth, it seems, has been sullied by both your youthful prejudice and its (shall we say) leaden presentation on the radio back in the day.

Let's just say some of those easy-listening FM stations may have developed rigor mortis decades before their listeners did. That was a damn shame.

So here we go on this edition of the Big Show, which once again sees us in something of a mood. We're mixing and matching and re-contextualizing that at which we scoffed, snot-nosed punks that we used to be.

Now sit back, tune in, turn on and open your musical mind. And if you can't manage to do that . . . get the hell off my lawn.

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


Destination . . . suffocate, bake or freeze as your blood boils

If 1950s album-cover artists had been in charge of the Space Race (not to mention science education in the Space Age) . . . things would not have ended well.

At all.

This Ames Brothers LP would have driven Dr. Sheldon Cooper mad.

On the other hand, this being a post-factual world, we can say with Trumpian confidence that Ed Ames is the only surviving Ames brother because the sound of lunar windmills gave all his siblings cancer, and they died upon their return to earth.
Bazinga.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Life . . . passing by at 33⅓ RPM

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels through the town
And they tell him,
Take your time, it won't be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
-- Joni Mitchell

Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you got till you've gone. Homer's sold you LPs, and you took home somebody's life.

Me, I thought it was just an exceptionally eclectic bit of birthday shopping at the Old Market record store -- everything from Oingo Boingo to Paul Mauriat, with some Louis Prima and Keely Smith in between. Oh . . . and a 1968 album by The Vogues.

Just a while ago, I was taking the old record out of the old jacket, and out fell a piece of somebody's life, a picture of a pretty young girl. Maybe a high school picture, maybe just the Kodak paper evidence of splurging on a trip to the photographer's studio.

I do know this, though. It looks like my long-lost, teenage journey through the last half of the 1970s. I remember that hair, and that blouse rings a bell. Definitely the last half of, if not the Age of Aquarius, certainly the Age of Dacron Polyester.
A 40-YEAR-OLD portrait stuck inside a 50-year-old LP for safekeeping. And then somebody sold the hiding place to the record store, kind of like the kinfolk giving Goodwill the mattress that hid Grandpa's life savings.

The mattress full of Benjamins is just sprung springs, spent stuffing and some clandestine cash. This picture right here, though -- that's somebody's youth. Somebody's lost youth that's been gone about the same number of years as mine.

I remember that youth. Not as well as I once did but, like the flipped curls and summer blouse of a beautiful young woman, it rings a bell.

Who is she? Where is she now?

Have, for her, the years between Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump been as long and strange a trip as they have for . . . well . . . me? How many joys and how many tragedies has she counted off between the vast plain of a life yet to come and the bittersweet reflections in the rear-view mirror as we of a certain age cruise toward eternity?

Regrets, I've had a few. I hope that young woman -- the one forever gazing toward a Kodachrome future that now lies largely in the past -- has had fewer.

Once, like the song on that Vogues album, she was somebody's special angel. I hope she still is.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Does it get any more 1960s than this?

Does it get any more '60s than this 1967 Paul Mauriat LP cover? Inquiring minds, etc., and so on.

My gut reaction is probably not . . . which opens up all kinds of possibilities, being that this is an easy-listening album, not to mention visions of middle-aged Hef wannabes sporting ascots and wildly age-inappropriate garb. Which, of course, argues strongly for this being the most '60s thing ever.

On the other hand, I was 6, my parents had not progressed past 1955, and they made me get a crew cut. Complete with Butch wax.

So my opinion on this might be completely worthless. Alas.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

3 Chords & the Truth: #NebraskaStrong

Dear World,

Here in Nebraska, after the flood, we're down. But we're not out.

In fact, we're #NebraskaStrong. And we shall, as W.H. Auden wrote, "stagger onward rejoicing."

Consider this edition of 3 Chords & the Truth one hell of a stagger. Rejoicing. With the music.

We go on.

We go onward.

Rejoicing.

It's the Big Show, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Calling Jake and Elwood: The Iowa Nazi edition

Truth in politics?
Rep. Steve King, National Socialist-Iowa, is at it again. No doubt, our national appetite for wallowing in political pig poop is fathomless.

The Washington Post is there with a shovel, as usual.

"We go to a place like New Orleans, and everybody’s looking around saying, ‘Who’s going to help me? Who’s going to help me?’” King said, recounting what he said officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, had told him about the relief effort, in which he said he had participated. Yet, he was also one of 11 members of Congress to oppose a bill providing federal aid to Katrina victims in 2005.

In his home state, he said, residents looked after one another without government handouts. Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has declared a disaster in more than half of Iowa’s 99 counties because of severe flooding and is seeking a federal declaration that would free up funds from Washington.

“We go to a place like Iowa, and we go see, knock on the door at, say, I make up a name, John’s place, and say, ‘John, you got water in your basement, we can write you a check, we can help you,'" King said. “And John will say, ‘Well, wait a minute, let me get my boots. It’s Joe that needs help. Let’s go down to his place and help him.’”
THE NORMAL human response -- or what one would hope is the normal human response -- to the question "Who's going to help me?" is "I am."

King seems to admit as much by lauding Iowans' willingness to help their neighbors without hesitation. So, I suppose the only thing he finds offensive is that people would ask for help -- particularly from, one supposes, the federal government. Particularly the majority-black population of New Orleans.

Something tells me the right dishonorable white nationalist from Kiron will not be pressing FEMA to withhold aid from those of his constituents affected by flooding on grounds of "We can take care of this shit ourselves." This leaves us with the explanation that's left for what King said Thursday.

Steve King is a racist piece of that in which we've been wallowing since 2016.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

How did they sleep?

We should have seen the end coming a half century ago.
It was as plain as a patchwork plague, courtesy of your haberdasher from hell. Which in this case was the 1969 Sears Wish Book.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Holy Hash Pipe, Batman!
One thing never changes, however -- copy editors are always required but never in adequate supply. I'm reasonably certain that the headline above the Red Menace display at left should have read "Family Nightmare."

Monday, March 18, 2019

Omaha. Monday.

Click on map for full size
The trip from downtown Omaha to the town of Valley, in far western Douglas County, usually takes about 40 or 50 minutes, depending on traffic.

Correction. It usually took 40 or so minutes to make the trip across Omaha and across the Elkhorn River to the suburban town. Today, it took a KETV, Channel 7 news crew almost 4 hours in a backroads trek across a fair swath of the dry(ish) parts of northeastern Nebraska.

Then authorities reopened Highway 36, allowing motorists to make it to Valley -- probably in about an hour -- by following a State Patrol guide vehicle on the last leg of the journey.

West Dodge Road at 228th Street (courtesy Douglas County)
THIS IS the new normal. As water recedes on the major westbound routes out of Omaha, we're finding that what was multi-lane highway is now fractured, undermined and occasionally completely washed-away.

Or, as they say in New England,
"Ayah, ya can't get thayah from heayah."

Nebraska. Sunday.

Nebraska State Patrol
I think this photo taken by the Nebraska State Patrol near Columbus pretty much sums up the suffering of my state these past few days.

It is not yet done. The Missouri River continues to rise to historic levels just south of Omaha. Fremont, Neb., is a virtual island. You could make the 30-minute trip there from Omaha this afternoon -- finally -- in just under 3 hours, if you knew which back roads were dry and had a police escort.
That's how a convoy of food and fuel made it in tonight. Before that, people and relief supplies were being ferried in from Omaha by volunteer pilots.
From north-central Nebraska to the Missouri River bottom land in the far southeast, people have lost everything and small towns have been all but scoured from the fertile plains. Across the region, at least two are dead and several more missing.
Its well fields swallowed by the Platte River, the city of Lincoln has mandated restrictions on water usage. We haven't even started talking about how bad the damage to agriculture is.
YET, IT'S just been the past day or so that the national media has acknowledged that something might be catastrophically wrong in "flyover country." It's not the first time we've been ignored by the "coastal elites," many of whom seem to think cattle roam the streets of Omaha and Conestoga wagons still rumble down the Oregon Trail.

We're all rubes to them. Yet they wonder why so many in these forgotten lands might vote for such a monster as Donald Trump.
Well, I wouldn't -- and didn't -- vote for the political equivalent of the Ebola virus. Many folks I know wouldn't, and didn't. Of course, it's perfectly clear to these same learned and oh-so-sophisticated folks why people in far-off lands might blow themselves up on crowded far-away streets.
Perhaps "Fuck you," is a message most clearly read from a great distance.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

3 Chords & the Truth: The fault, dear Brutus. . . .



Sometimes, amid the exceptional music, we also have to acknowledge the societal elephants in the room here on the Big Show.

This week, we have some elephants we cannot ignore. It's been an ugly week, made that way by ugly people and our ugly society.

And for that, the fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars . . . or in the Mexicans or the Muslims. It lies within the heart of our sick "Western civilization" -- the one white nationalists (and America's white-nationalist president) keep telling us is about to be overrun by those who are a darker shade than pale.

As for me and 3 Chords & the Truth, we call bullshit. It had to be done, though I usually am loath to go all Howard Beale on you and take time away from tasty tunes.

THAT SAID, we do have our usual compliment of great music on the program, eclectically presented. I think you'll find it mighty nice.

I go on during the show -- at least for a bit -- so I shall not do it here . . . though I did reiterate it in a blog post a little bit ago. So to the music we go.

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


The suicide blames everyone but himself


This week on 3 Chords & the Truth, the first song is ‘A’ Train’s “Time Stops.” Interesting title . . . if only it did stop.

If only we could stop time long enough to figure out how to put the brakes on this runaway train that no doubt will end in our self-destruction.

Our self-destruction. The ongoing self-destruction of whatever we like to think of as “Western civilization” in our present age of everything falling apart.
 

You’ve seen the news — our president going to the wall for his border wall. Our president threatening his political opponent with violence by what he sees as his military and law enforcement . . . and his motorcycle gang. The massacre of Muslims at prayer on the other side of the world.

We got problems. But any problem we have, and by “we” I mean white folk like myself, cannot be blamed on an “invasion” of brown-skinned people across the southern border of the United States or by Muslim immigration.


If western culture, such as it is, is being subsumed by other cultures, and if those of European stock are being “replaced,” so to speak, by “invaders” whose skin is too brown for the tastes of some — it is because “Westerners” gave up on their culture and their future long ago. They not only quit having children, but also quit building up social capital and believing in the concept of commonweal.

If you don’t know what that is, look it up. You’re already online, Google it.

My weekly struggle with doing a music show that’s informed by what’s going on around us is not to be inundated by it to the point of being tendentious . . . or steeping all of life in partisan ideology. It comes down to deciding which elephants in the room to engage with or blow by.

But the elephant in the room this week is our impending ruin, thanks to our own prejudice, spite and self-pity. The elephant in the room every damn week is the demagogues we put in high places and how every damn day they give license to the greater demons of our fallen nature.

Thursday in this country — Friday in New Zealand — a white-supremacist spouting off about outsiders and “invaders” and the overwhelming of Western civilization by the unwashed hordes went on a shooting spree in Christchurch. Forty-nine Muslim worshipers were gunned down as they prayed in their houses of worship.



MUCH OF the rhetoric the gunman posted in an online manifesto was virtually identical to that of the president of the United States — the one as arguing for building a wall on the Mexican border and banning Muslim immigration to this country. The terrorist in New Zealand wasn’t the first to rail against invaders and “animals” — Donald Trump beat him to it.
 

Trump likes to demonize. He likes to put dehumanizing language and memes out there like armies sow the battlefield with land mines — you don’t know who is going to be blown up, but you damn well know somebody will eventually.

Let’s get our mind around this thing: The elected president of the United States — the former great hope for democracy and liberty in this world — gleefully and constantly eggs on the hateful and the unstable, both here and abroad, to turn their wrath on The Other as a means of aggrandizing himself and augmenting his political power.

Because of what he says and does, people undoubtedly have died. He has taken what used to be on the far margins of Western civilization and brought it into the mainstream. He has given courage to cowards and agency to aggrieved racists and bigots.

Get familiar with the term stochastic terrorism. It’s the governing ethos of our federal government . . . as represented by the 45th president of the United States.

Remember Anwar al-Awlaki? His primary job with al-Qaida was propagandizing ordinary Muslims into a radical state . . . and then they might join al-Qaida, or they might just blow up stuff and kill people as freelancers. It didn’t much matter to him, and he didn’t much know who would do what or where.

But he pretty much knew somebody would do something.

He stopped doing that one day in Yemen, when an American drone shot a few Hellfire missiles up his rear end. A few years later, Americans elected their own Anwar al-Awlaki as president.

Who swore to us Friday that right-wing terrorism wasn’t a big problem. Well, at least not for him.

Well, may God have mercy on us all, because it will not end well for a people that refuses to recognize the simple fact that God made us all and loves us just the same.

In Galatians, the apostle Paul told us:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.”
WE GOOD Christians — at least the ones so ready to beat brown people to death with their Trump-autographed Bibles — forget that those slaughtered Muslims in Christchurch knew a little about Abraham themselves. As did the slaughtered Jews in Pittsburgh last year.

As do the Latino Catholics at our southern border.

Perhaps the best all of us who the president has again threatened with violence by "his" cops, "his" military and "his" Bikers for Trump can hope for is that this present darkness is merely the prelude to dawn.