Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday on my Mind

Hello Friday, hello two more obituaries in the music world - what can you do? I'm getting old... Fats Domino was one of the big ones - popular and fantastic, helping establish what rock and roll was, and thrilling in his own right. Here he is on Sullivan....

And Ain't that a Shame:

And this week also saw George Young's demise. Another one who had a neat career on his own, with the Easybeats and Flash N the Pan - though the little brothers rather surpassed him.

Nothing else that bugs me more than working for the rich man.. You bet! Friday on my mind:

And later, Young and Harry Vanda recorded as Flash N the Pan, new wave almost before new wave existed. (Complete with making fun of the younger Young sibs...) Done my time in hell...

Sunday, October 22, 2017

World Series

This is a great relief, the Astros winning the American League Championship. They did it in style - the back end of their rotation teaming up to throw a shut out, Altuve hitting another bomb, Brian McCann driving in two runs on the Yankee's dime. This is the matchup people were hoping for in the middle of the summer, when the Astros were lapping the field offensively and the Dodgers were overwhelmingly good on the mound. Both teams sort of took the foot of the gas, the Indians got hot, and people started paying more attention to the Red Sox and Yankees, involved in that strange anachronism known as a pennant race. But Astros and Dodgers were pretty much the best all year, and they have both returned to form in the playoffs, so - we should get a nice series.

One thing I want to mention, that I alluded to Friday, is this. I see lots of stories and comments about how now the Yankees are done, but they have the makings of a dynasty there - I can't argue with that. They have Judge and Sanchez; they have Hicks and Bird and Torreyes, who could be pretty good themselves; they have Gregorius and Castro and the like; they have Severino and Montgomery and so on - young and good, and likely to spend the money to keep them there.

ut that's the Red Sox, too - and the Dodgers - and the Astros, if they are willing to spend the money, and the Indians, and the Cubs - even the Nats, Diamondbacks, even the Twins (if they were willing to spend the money.) Call Judge and Sanchez the stars - and compare them to Betts and Benintendi (and Bogaert and Devers); to Seager and Bellinger; to Altuve, Correa, Springer and Bregman; to Lindor and Ramirez; to Bryant and Russell and Baez and Schwarber (and Rizzo, something of a veteran). Bryce Harper and Trea Turner (and Rendon and Michael Taylor) - and don't forget that Harper hasn't turned 25 yet. Even the Twins, who are kind of an afterthought in this, have Sano and Rosario and Buxton and Kepler and Polanco, starting to come into their own - all 25 and under. This is what made this post-seaosn kind of an especially fun one - the Rockies and Diamondbacks were the only teams without one or tow (or more) major stars under the age of 25. And they both feature players in their mid-late 20s. It's fun to watch. Now, obviously, some of these guys will regress - some of them will get hurt - some of these teams will be unwilling to pay to retain them when they get expensive - a lot of these teams have much shakier and less promising pitching (though here the Rockies fit in again: 4 starters with 10 wins or more, all under 25 years old. Colorado is a terrible place to pitch, but, that gives them a chance.)

It loks like we're coming into a pretty neat time to be a baseball fan.

And remember, for all the talent in the post-season, the best player in the game, by a still significant margin, wasn't in the playoffs, and is 25 years old. You do have to hope the Angels get their act together sometime - it is quite noticeable that they are NOT built around good young talent, even when they have the best...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Sport and Music

I want to check in briefly, long enough to say something about baseball, which seems to be approaching the eldritch apocalypse of a Yankees Dodgers world series. I don't want to be too quick to write of the Astros - they can win two in a row from the Yanks if they have to - but...

I dread Yankees and Dodgers in the series. The AND is important - I don't particularly dread either the Yankees or the Dodgers. They are, to be sure, franchises I loathe (loyal New Englander that I am), but the Dodgers have long been an afterthought, almost enough to make you feel sorry for them. One never feels sorry for the Yankees of course... And more than that, their current collection of players are both rather likable. It's hard not to like Aaron Judge or Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Gary Sanchez - as a pure, neutral baseball fan. in that sense, it's been hard to find teams to hate int his post-season: almost all of them are young, up and coming squads - at least full of young, exciting players - even teams that got there by buying up stars mix it with their own good young players - there aren't any teams to cheer against, as collections of ball players. Just those franchises, and even that is mostly the combination - Yankees vs Cubs or Nats would not have been terrible. Someone to cheer for, someone to here against, and a villain who, if they win, would be rather entertaining doing it. Same with the Dodgers, against any of the AL teams besides the Yanks.

But this combo: ugh. So go Justin Verlander! put the in their place! win two ore, Astros, and save us the indignity of 1977 reborn!

Though 1977 was a way better year than 2017 on principal, so....

Anyway on a very different subject - where I was last week: Feelies, still at it after 40 odd years. Not the first time I've seen them...

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday 13th for America

Another Friday has come, and despite this being a Friday 13, no famous or interesting artists have died - it's almost confusing.

As for Friday 13th - this whole year has been one long Friday 13th. I thought last year sucked - but this one has just gone from worse to worse. Trump has more or less delivered on his promises to make everything worse - not by doing a lot, since he and the Republicans can't seem to pass much, the old fashioned way - but he has authority as president that he can use for evil (and not use for good), and my god, he won't shut up! He has certainly enabled the worst elements of our fair republic - I doubt there are any more racists and Nazis and confederates around now than before, but they are a lot louder about it. Granted - this is making it easier for people to repudiate them - and there are, in fact, a lot more of us than them - but it makes it hard to get through the day.

We are well past the point where we have to acknowledge that Trump himself is a simple, and open, Fascist. Authoritarian - racist and xenophobic - addicted to the aesthetics of politics (even if his aesthetic models are crappy game shows and reality TV - and Vegas whorehouse decor, I suppose) - nationalist, in that simplistic jingoistic sense - embracing political violence - it's all there. He's nearly open in his support of the white nationalists; consistently attacking any sign of dissent - attacking free speech, attacking the press, attacking civil society - attacking the rule of law. A deadlocked congress helps him - makes it easier to rule by fiat, to rule without law - that's how Hitler did it; Trump's working toward it just as surely.

I wish I were more optimistic - but I think the problem is more than Trump. It's built into the country. The Constitution is admirable in many ways, but it is a very old document, a kind of beta test for Constitutions - they didn't have a lot of models. They worried about a lot of things that didn't prove to be problems; they worked off assumptions that were already eroding, and should have been dumped. They were worried about democracy - what if were subverted? Turned into a tyranny of the majority? So they built in checks and balances, they built in barriers to protect the minority, to exaggerate the power of the minority. Which worked, more or less, as long as all parties agreed with the underlying assumptions of society, and all participated in good faith,accepting defeat knowing they could win the next election. But this broke down when underlying assumptions changed, and when minority groups, used to power, realized they could not win elections honestly. And then - the constitution becomes a level that shrinking constituencies could use against the majority.

That is what happened in the 1840s and 50s - slavery became increasingly regional, votes grew faster in the north than the south (partly because the north was more democratic, though mostly because it had more people), and the slave-holding south was in danger of becoming a permanent minority bloc. So they sabotaged good government - held the country hostage; manipulated the system to keep themselves in control, even as they were shrinking - and finally tried to burn it all down...

That's close to what is happening now. Has been happening for about 25 years, probably. The Republicans transformed themselves from the money party into the money and white nationalism party, all the way back in the 1960s. They took over all the dixiecrats when the Democrats finally decided to treat African Americans as human - they took over the old confederacy, without really changing much except the letter by the name of all those old racists. The world kept on turning - it's easy to forget, given how bad things are, but the country has gotten better in a lot of ways in the last 50 years. Blacks do have rights and protections they did not have in 1960; women have rights and protections; gays have rights and protections. Many things that were - maybe not accepted in 1960, but deliberately and systematically hidden - are now, still hidden, but the systems are weaker. (Ask Harvey Weinstein. When he whines about growing up in a different era, he means, he expected the system to protect him from accusers, not that what he did was once acceptable and now is not. It was always wrong, everyone knew it was wrong, but men were protected. Still are, or this would have happened 25 years ago.) But as the world kept turning, the Republicans doubled down on their new identity - maybe they started out playing to the racists to get their votes (to govern like plutocrats), but as their constituencies shrank, and their social and cultural ideas became less popular, they have turned to more and more open effectual racism. They identified more and more as the party of white supremacy. And with it, the party of authoritarianism, suppressing the vote, suppressing speech, the party of amateur (as well as professional) political violence and so on.

And the party of using the constitution against itself. Refusing the act in good faith - there is nothing more egregious that the Senate's refusal to hold a vote on Merrick Garland - that in itself constitutes something close to a coup. They manipulate the vote - using gerrymandering to give themselves an unfair advantage; suppressing the vote outright when they can; working to make voting as difficult and unpleasant as they can. And as a permanent minority party out to control government, they work very hard to break down the system of government itself. They have always attacked government in principal (though are very quick to use its capacity for violence for their own ends), directly and indirectly. Directly - government is evil! keep your government off my medicare! and indirectly - it doesn't matter who I vote for; there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the parties; government can't do anything right, we should leave it to the market. And of course, buying votes...

Enough. I don't know how we get out of this mess. We vote, I suppose - but the Republicans have been doing everything they can to make your vote not count; to make voting difficult and ineffectual; to convince the public that voting doesn't matter. The constitution was written to protect minority interests - and probably even more explicitly, the interests of the agrarian south. That is certainly how this has played out - the agrarian south, the slave-owning south, then the racist south, has always been the party to take advantage of the constitution's anti-democratic features. From the electoral college (explicitly designed to favor slave states) to the Senate to - etc. All of which adds up to the fact that for voters to save the country, we have to get 60-70% of the vote, to overcome the built in resistance to democracy.

Or maybe evil white men just die off, and - it's not comforting: if decent people can see that history is bending their way, so can the villains, and they will just act, more aggressively to protect themselves. There's more of that going on than I'd like - people like Trump, like all the neo-Nazi and neo-confederte marchers, the pro-treason crowd, the people yelling about football player exercising their political rights - are becoming more aggressive, more active, in no small part because they are losing. They know they are losing, and know they have to cheat to stop it. So they cheat. It doesn't bode well.

So happy Friday the 13th.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Tom Petty

I still try to get in here ad post a music post,if nothing else, every week. Unfortunately they all seem to turn out to be obituaries. This week it is Tom Petty. I like Tom Petty - I remember hearing Breakdown, way back when, and thinking, that's such a cool song... Then Refugee came out, which is when he started to get a lot of airplay - that was all over the radio, Refugee, I'm the Night Watchman - that might have been just about the best music you were likely to hear on the radio in 1979.... And he kept on going, and was always solid, and sometimes fantastic. Sometimes, maybe, in the 80s, he seemed to fade into the background - duets with Stevie Nicks, nice pop songs on the radio... But unlike most 70s rockers trying to be relevant in the 80s, he didn't really embarrass himself. "Don't Come Around Here No More" makes some gestures toward fashion, with its drum machine sounds and Dave Stewart cameos - but it's still a solid Tom Petty song, and mostly he just kept on going, doing what he was good at and letting people come to him.

Breakdown, live in 1978:

Refugee, same show:

don't Come Around here no more, as 80s as he got, I suppose:

Free Fallin'