Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Thomas Friedman on the Daily Show

"After 9/11 I over-reacted."

Over-reacted? The Mustache of Understanding in 2003 explaining the REAL reason he and the rest of the conservatives goaded the country into invading Iraq:

What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, "Which part of this sentence don't you understand?"

You don't think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna to let it grow?

Well, Suck. On. This.


That Charlie was what this war was about. We could've hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.

All those innocent people dead and their lives destroyed, and you over-reacted?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh I'm On Fire

JMM, who I'm coming to feel is more and more in the camp of the Rahm Emmanuel's of the world, whether he will admit to it or not, has posted this:

As you can see in our new feature post, a group of conservative and not-so-conservative Democrats in the senate pushing to use the upcoming need to up the national debt ceiling to insist that a commission be formed -- perhaps on the model of the old base closing commission -- to rein in spending and get the national finances under control. Anyone who looks at the national budget knows that if you start with the assumption that deficits are a critical problem right now that there are two big levers to get them under control -- cutting social insurance programs like Social Security, Medicare and so on or raising taxes. You can make a dent on discretionary spending. But there's just not enough money there. And it's awfully hard to see how you make significant cuts in defense while you're expanding one of two wars the country is fighting.

Amazing how even smart people swallow this bullshit hook, line, and sinker. You could start by killing Blackwater contracts. You could start by cutting back on payouts, welfare, and subsidies to the aerospace and defense industries that run Congress. Or you could take "entitlements" away from poor people who have payed into those programs their whole God-damned lives. The give-aways to defense contractors are simply that, you don't need to cut back on our troops in the field. And that's just your options if you want consider never-ending war and endless freedom bombs.

Fuck the bunch of you. When you get rolled in 2010 or 2012 or whenever it finally comes, you'll know why. Where is the outrage that we're even considering this, never mind letting yet more Capital-C conservatives go even further into the dismantling of the liberal state that is already very-nearly dead and gone?

Even the Tech Pundits are Like the Village (idiots)

It’s not easy to take tech pundits seriously. Aside from the frequent inaccuracy of their various predictions and the bilious snark of their analyses, you often find yourself trying to reckon with some truly stupid people.

Take for instance a review of the Motorla Droid by professional bloviator Stewart Alsop, linked to this morning without any irony by the much-respected John Gruber, emphasis mine:

The process management in the OS stinks. Press on an app icon; maybe it will come up and maybe the phone will just not respond. Who’s to know why? Try pressing on the phone icon at 70 mph and have it not respond. Then try pressing again. And then get a message something like: “Activity Home (in process android.process.acore) is not responding.” Force Quit or Wait. Oops! I just drove into the guy in front of me when he slowed down and now I’m dead!

He goes on to add, “I’m not actually joking,” just so you really get his point.

Seriously? This is about as blindingly brilliant as … as … words fail, really. The OS running on Droid may in fact be very slow to respond, but it’s hard to take advice from someone so stupid as to complain that he isn’t able to use the thing to his diverted satisfaction while driving a 2000 lb bomb some seventy miles an hour around other human beings. I know as well as anybody else that phones tempt one to use them while driving, but last I checked it was something that almost all public policy pundits, wonks and politicians agreed was a very bad, highly fatal idea.

Maybe you accidently turned on the Social Darwinism app, Stewart? It speaks to a level of cluelessness and indifferent contempt for the real world and other people that ought to be damning but is extremely common in all of our public discourse.
From the Boston Globe endorsement of Khazei for Senate, via Daily Kos, comes a ringing endorsement of something I think we ought to become more and more skeptical of, that mythical "progressive" politician who is skillful at building coalitions with "private interest groups" and therefore can get things done by compromising everything in the expediency of business:

It moves away from Reagan-era skepticism about government without relying on traditional government programs to provide all the answers.

How then, pray tell, does it move away from Reagan-era skepticism? Give me a fucking break. These so-called "change" candidates that marry the interests of activists and business are about as real as the mythical single girl sought by straight couples whom they don't actually want to know, but wants to be treated like a prostitute for free.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Is Harry Reid Strong Enough?"

Do monkeys fly out of my butt? Probably not.

A lot of people complain about friendly fire inside the Democratic Party. Fuck those people. If you don't demand electoral accountability on the issues that matter to you with your vote, you're just an idiot, or worse, a servant.


Just check out this post at TPM, Reid's office has "scoffed" at such efforts. Why? Because they don't see their office as accountable to the people they represent. That's not how they want to play this game. They actually have a certain amount of real contempt for democracy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Binyam Mohamed Gets Closer to the Truth

While Mohamed, a British resident, was in American custody, the CIA told British intelligence agents exactly what was done to him... [his] genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, "is very far down the list of things they did," the official said.
So when are the right-wing radio pundits going to have their genitals sliced on air to show that it's not so bad? Inquiring minds want to know.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tell You Whut

If there's a health care bill passed that mandates that everyone has to buy insurance from the vultures, and it doesn't provide a public option, ...

I don't know. Are people just going to take it? I suspect electoral fallout, but no effective push back by the people against Congress to change the law after the fact. I'm not sure people give a fuck.

The real nasty thing is that the whole country, most of the House, and a great many Senate dems are all about the public option. And yet, it's still somehow up in the air, now that it's in the hands of His Royal Majesty Harry Reid.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to Fail at Foreign Policy

This really is a very, very interesting and thoughtful tear down of the argument for threatening Iran with catastrophic bombing to get what "we" (I use the term loosely) want out of them:

And this gets rather to the core of the problems with Herf's approach. He assumes away Iranian domestic constraints, in spite of overwhelming evidence that a) dictatorships face internal constraints based on public pressure on bureaucratic infighting, b) that domestic constraints have unpredictable, and indeed often positive, effects on negotiating stances, and c) that dire military threats often empower the domestic actors in target countries that we're least interested in seeing gain power. He seems to believe that since the regime successfully stole an election and hasn't collapsed in the past three months, that it is free of domestic constraints. Such a position does not, as they say, demonstrate a sophisticated grasp of the way that authoritarian regimes operate; indeed, it would likely get Herf laughed out of an Introduction to Comparative Politics course.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Connection Reset By Beer

This has made the kwality of my life go up, quite a bit more than I suppose it ought to have:

$ cat ~/.ssh/config
ServerAliveInterval 180

C'mon Man, Hook Me UP, I gotta warehouse fulla stickers!

I've never heard of a DMV sticker that was easy to remove from your windshield, but the Empire State has nonetheless achieved such. I have one on my windshield, too. For a little while longer, anyway.

The fine for the thing coming off is $100. VOTE MIKE NYC.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wanker of the Day

John Gruber:
To any American who isn’t happy about our president having won the Nobel Peace Prize: There is something wrong with you.
From Glenn Greenwald, on this topic:

[T]o insist that it's the patriotic obligation of every American to stand and cheer -- and that those who don't are "casting their lot with the Terrorists" -- is creepy and repugnant. It's also a very dangerous game to play.

There is something seriously wrong with people who use the cudgel of nationalism to insist that dissent is illegitimate. Sure, there were some people really freaking the fuck out, and there is something wrong with some of those people. But there are a whole lot of dirty fucking hippies like me who think it's inappropriate to award a peace prize to someone who is "advocating, actively prosecuting and escalating, a major war that is killing large numbers of civilians with no plans to stop, while at the same time building prisons to house people who will have no due process."

Oh well, guess it's time to turn in my citizenship and go back to... where exactly?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I recently had the pleasure of attending the recent All Tomorrow's Parties event in Monticello, NY, with Mr. Forde. One of the things I just didn't expect was that:
  1. I was getting to see Autolux
  2. That it would be one of the best performances I've seen in recent memory
So, here I am, minding my own business, and an Autolux tshirt just arrived for me in the mail, and I figured I should say: hey, check this out!

Their album Future Perfect has been out for some time now, and they're new record is supposedly due out in January. FP is beautiful, howling, grooving and deranged pop music, but despite this I didn't expect that during performance the band would be so loud, so powerful, so pounding. From songs I didn't recognize, possibly off the forthcoming LP, to the songs that I did know from FP, it was an astonishing set, with their drummer Carla doing an incredible amount of programming work from behind the kit while crushing out, marching-snare style, one of the tightest sets I've ever seen.

I think Mr. Forde and I fell in love with Carla that evening. Definitely.

In any event: AUTOLUX. Check it out. Watch for the new record. (Trying to get hold of an advance copy now, but I'm not holding my breath!)

Does Not Compute

How many people, at this point, order things on the Internet with their credit card, and then have it sent to some address that is not their billing address?

I'm guessing at this point, it's got to be a lot of people. Many people (like me) can't get reliable delivery of packages at their home. It's really common in cities.

So why is this still a problem with so many merchants, merchant gateways, and credit card companies like Discover? In this case, Discover is the culprit. A credit card company. A credit card company. Not the kind of business of renowned prudence and foresight.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Perhaps I'm Being a Naysayer

But I really don't find the whole Big Apps initiative that interesting because the city data I think is most interesting is transit data, and that won't be included.

And that highlights one of the most retarded things about transit development in NYC - it's controlled by a regional authority, and not the city.

Think about this sentence: NYC does not have control of its own transit system.

You can go on and on about how nice it is to share power with the state, or upstate republicans, or naussau county republicans who insist on driving to work and scuttling the LIRR and Metro North, but who's city is this, anyway?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Fear & Loathing in NYC

If you hadn't already lost all respect for Bono, perhaps this will do it:

Thursday, October 01, 2009


This. kicks. ass. yes.

Eat your heart out, W'burg butches.

Taking these moves to the club

This is the most awesome video ever:


There's something more-lame-than-normal about this:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thrashy Punk, Spastic Funk Freakouts

A really great write-up from Mr. Testa over on the Jersey Beat editor's desk for Ben Franklin's first record:
On their debut self-released full-length, Brooklyn's Ben Franklin mash together some unlikely influences – thrashy punk, spastic funk freakouts, poppy ba-ba-ba choruses – and somehow make it all work. The frantic, technical guitar parts and elastic lead vocals come courtesy of Billy Gray (ex-Meltdowns,) while the bouncy basslines and backup vox belong to Eddie Garza (ex-One & Only Typicals, Imperialists,) with ubiquitous Asbury Park sessionperson Sarah Tomek keeping up with the guys on the frenetic drum parts. Songs like “Tell Me How You Really Feel” and “Drink To Forget” segue from booty-shaking funk workouts to head-bopping Beatlesque bridges, while “Montclair” tones things down a notch for romantic reminiscence. Imagine Cheap Trick jamming with the Minutemen and you might get an idea of Ben Franklin’s potent pop/funk fusion. Turn it up, and get ready to dance.

TMC on the JBP

"I find politics emotionally provocative.... A heart-breaking subject."

The most recent Jersey Beat Podcast features Jim Testa interviewing Mr. Tris McCall, prolific writer and composer extraordinaire (at least, according to me), on topics ranging from Garden State love songs to Paul Simon to national healthcare.

"Nobody wants to hear me on the soapbox," says Tris, but he couldn't be more wrong. Readers of his yearly Pop Music Abstract and Stompbox just eat it up, and I can't wait to hear Let the Night Fall, his forthcoming album.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Frozen Gentlemen - eponymous

I ordered the Frozen Geez's new self-recorded and self-released CD from their website and it arrived while I was in istanbul. So I'm finally spinning it now, and from the launch of the opening track, "Once Had a Problem," I'm dancing in my seat, smacking the table, rocking in my chair, banging my head in rhythm, demanding that my coworkers listen to it over the wireless share, and generally being ostentatious and annoying because I can't help it.

DISCO ROCK FUNK AWESOME. Tight beats, heart-stopping pauses, mad funk style, karate-chopping guitar licks, and bonkers lead and harmony vocals. I'm not sure how else to describe their music. Listening to this debut record is like being at one of their shows, but you can make out every last glorious lyric, some of which are just inevitably lost in a live show. And I can't thrash about quite so much in here.

Holy crap, the fidelity of this record is good! The only thing I find lacking is that I think it could use a little more of the Booty Bass. Go get a copy right now. I don't think you can download it. I think you need to shell out some cash, you wanksta.

Order it from them over here right now.

Euro-trip Jetlag

Is awesome. Sorta. I'm out like a light at 10pm and wide awake at 6am, which means, unlike normally, I actually sleep a full night. Then I get to go to the gym and I finally made that 7am yoga class I'm always missing. Great way to start the day, hoping I can keep it up.

The other side of the jetlag coin is that around 5pm EDT (midnight the next day in Istanbul), I get reeeeeally sluggish, so doing anything useful with myself after work (e.g. writing music, practicing my instrument, etc) is a really tall order. Makes you want to just watch TV and go to bed by 6pm. Which would not be awesome.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oh, God

Sitting down for the first time in weeks to review the detritus I call, "songs in progress." It's looking more like a scrap heat than buried treasure. I guess some things will probably never make it out of the Loose Ideas file. And others, well, it sucks I didn't record that neat hook and set of accompanying parts I'd labored over. All gone now, unless some miracle of memory jogging brings 'em back.

The Location Thing

While I'm picking on people:

I recently picked up some local Brooklyn ad-rag that has the occasional article about local bands. I forget which rag, but what caught my eye was an article about The Jaguar Club, a band I actually auditioned for as a guitar player at some point last year. I should say up front that they're real nice dudes, and they probably thought I was a wanker. Can't say I'd blame them.

In any event, the lede for the article was a quote to the tune of, "we don't want to be known as a Brooklyn band."

That sort of thing makes me want to smack somebody; they are a Brooklyn band. And what does it actually matter, one way or the other?

I understand that people don't want to be lumped together with other people, artists in particular. But if this is what you're going to talk about when asked to talk about your art and your surroundings, you're asking for it.

"Our band is from Brooklyn because that's where we live. Possibly, we even like it here."

Is that so hard?

Everything Goes Blarf

I'm at the sixth track of Vivian Girls' new 13 song album Everything Goes Wrong, and I'm not sure I'll be making it all the way to the end of the album. Track six, "Survival," is so far the best of the lot. Then again, I've never liked Hüsker Dü, so it's probably no surprise I like this about as much as that. Get off my lawn!

Update: yep, not for me. The record does get creative in parts, and there are some interesting turns of pop through out the squall of noise and fast punk beat and dream-y girl-y vocals. But I find it pretty boring, over all, and I don't get the appeal.

Yes, I am returned from Türkiye.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The List of Dumb Things

Paul Graham:

The list of n things is in that respect the cheeseburger of essay forms. If you're eating at a restaurant you suspect is bad, your best bet is to order the cheeseburger.

Wtf? As opposed to, I dunno, leaving? Not going there in the first place? Thinking...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"I'm talking basement show mosh-pit danger style rage"

Zac wrote a really colorful and awesome review of Optimist. Am quite flattered.

I can't tell if it's just laying the ground rules for a one night stand or something a bit more broad, but it's genius, because the whole thing comes crashing down in the second chorus, when the roles are reversed. It's damn near Shakespearian.

I'd say that's a bit generous. But still, it's interesting to see what people get out of something.

Friday, September 11, 2009


One of the more creative band mailing list posts I've seen, pretty damn funny, especially if you know the characters involved. They have a pretty excellent music scene brewing in Montclair.

Garden of Binary Love

Hiroshi Kumagai's new show that opened at 58 Gallery last night, called "Garden of Binary Love", is awesome, in the fullest sense of the word. I'm very glad I went. The works will be up until Sept 27th.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I See What You're Saying

Something Occurs, Perhaps a Little Late

In my previous project, my band mates and I spent a considerable amount of effort (an expense, in the end, of time, stress, and money) trying to get our music reviewed, to get some decent press to help us reach more people, and to play better shows. We thought we needed to do PR, we thought that that's what hard-working bands do to get somewhere.

Now, before I go any further, I want to say that my goal with music has never been to Make It, Man, the point for me is to have the music reach people who might appreciate it, and to have really great performances with, hopefully, a good crowd! That's what makes me extremely happy, what "completes" a piece for me as an artist. And it always seemed to me, and my mates, that if you really wanted to get good gigs etc., you needed to get reviewed.

Back when I had a subscription to Razorcake, I'd comb through all the reviews and I'd see bands I knew and enjoyed like The Measure SA (or whomever) being reviewed numerous times in one issue. I'd see my friends' bands getting some press here and there and getting a boost. I allowed this to reinforce my views, when really these characters were getting ahead because people who knew and liked them were taking the time to spread the word.

Anyway, we'd compile lists of publications, blogs, review sites, etc. And we'd send them our record with a nice letter about us, a one sheet, all that. Almost never did we hear back from anyone. We'd scour the Internets for blogs that we thought weren't "too cool" to review us, we looked far and wide for anybody who might actually look at what you sent them. When I think now of the deluge of garbage these folks must get, I'm astounded that I thought this was a good plan.

You can behold the fruits of that labor for yourself. Not very fruitful. Only three of those reviews were by people with whom we were unacquainted, and of them only two were really published. Razorcake, according to an email inquiry, didn't have room in their print edition for Alvarado's good review and it ended up in their site archive to rot like so many other unused bits, waiting for a hard drive to die.

All the good press we did get, all the good shows we got, everything that didn't suck that happened to us was on account of people who'd seen or heard us, possibly knew us, and already knew they liked us.

That's it. That's the whole story. There's nothing else to do but make your art and show it to the people who care. No one else does, and we shouldn't waste our time bothering them. It's no different from that guy standing outside the subway platform handing out CD-Rs to people who are never going to give the thing a listen. In fact, it's probably dumber.

Despite this, every now and then I get to thinking, out of the old habit, that I ought to sit down and start mailing out the new record. But then I look at these things, that took me some two days to screen print, and I think to myself, "what am I talking about?"

Screen Printing the Record

So I've resolved not to mail the Ben Franklin record to anybody who doesn't actually want it. I'm not emailing or writing publications I don't know, I'm not begging people I don't know for reviews. If the music is good enough, it will get around because we play out and people like us when they see us.

PR always has been and always will be complete bullshit, and it's just not even our place to engage in it as artists. I'm never doing it again. It was extremely stupid of me to engage in the activity in the first place.

Monday, September 07, 2009



... "change" didn't mean I could take a vacation from holding politicians accountable?

When was there ever a time, ever, when we could feel so safe and secure in our political leadership that we'd have the ... the lack of clarity to continue holding them accountable?

You never get to take such a vacation. Ever. That's why we have the system that we have, or rather, that's now being trashed and dismantled. Because it enabled accountability.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

New record is out today

Yep, today's the today! My band Ben Franklin releases our new (and first) record Optimist.

It's available for free download, you can throw up a couple of bucks for fancy-pants lossless files, or you can come to the CD release show tonight at Pianos and grab a copy for free. Silk-screened artwork and all that. Took a while. I still have to powerwash the screeens.

Tomorrow, tomorrow.

Okay, back to the day's work. See you soon!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Edge of Heaven

Kinda random, but kinda not:

Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven in the US) by Fatih Akin is one of the greatest movies I've ever seen. Head On was also fucking amazing. The guy is just an amazing director and writer.

Somewhat related/ not really:

The new Turkish food joint, Döner, on Bedford ave in Northside is excellent, and the price can't be beat. Get a lamb döner sandwich and the red lentil soup, and you'll find yourself well fed and feeling pretty damn good about it, too. And lord knows we all need to feel good.

Me, too

Steve Benen on Dick Cheney's record and his feelings:

I seem to recall the Bush/Cheney era a little differently. Cheney thinks it was a sterling success when it came to national security and counter-terrorism. Perhaps there's something to this. After all, except for the catastrophic events of 9/11, and the anthrax attacks against Americans, and terrorist attacks against U.S. allies, and the terrorist attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Bush's inability to capture those responsible for 9/11, and waging an unnecessary war that inspired more terrorists, and the success terrorists had in exploiting Bush's international unpopularity, the Bush/Cheney record on counter-terrorism was awesome.

After the previous administration established a record like that, President Obama didn't ask Cheney for tips? The nerve.

I am curious about something, though. Terrorists first attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, early on in President Clinton's first year in office. Six people were killed, hundreds more were injured. The Clinton administration caught those responsible, subjected them to the U.S. criminal justice system, and foreign terrorists did not strike again on U.S. soil during Clinton's terms in office.

So, at any point in 2001, did the Bush White House turn to Bill Clinton and Al Gore and ask, "How did you do it? What were the keys to keeping this country safe over that period of time?" I think we can probably guess the answer.

I've got hurt feelings, I've got hurt feeeeelinnnnngs:

"I'm feeling like a prized asshole, no one even MENTIONS my casserole!"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's like a Murakami novel for me

I caught this radio show last night on the long drive home from rehearsal on the shore. I dare you to listen to it and not fall in love with the DJ's voice! It was a long drive, she had me wrapped around her finger.

Also? Great jams all over that show. I love that WFMU lists everything they play in the archives and offers the m3us. Invaluable for someone like me who always needs new jams but never knows where to look and doesn't like to ask around.

Whatcha Gonna Do, Brotherrr?

Hunter on Kos, emphasis mine:

So it should have been transparently obvious from the outset that the only response our glorious and wizened Senate could come up with, when facing a failed healthcare system that has been steadily bankrupting the country, its businesses and its citizens for decades, would be to invent a solution in which the companies most responsible for the problem would be given cash hand over fist. And indeed, that seems to be the "solution" that is closer to fruition than any of the others.

The premise in this case is a mandate in which every American shall be forced to buy private insurance. Apparently that is uncontroversial, to our leaders, but the notion of providing a government-backed plan for those who do not want their health and welfare tied to the same companies that have been screwing them over for decades, now that is a bridge too far.

Let me be clear. To me, such a plan represents the very pinnacle of corruption, of corporate toadyism, and of the complete dissolution of effective government into merely being a legal framework for corporations to most efficiently extract wealth from the nation. And the day such a plan passes, I will no longer be a Democrat

Well said (although I'm pretty sure I'm not a registered Dem, but sometimes they trick you into these things when you register to vote, err not vote in some cases).

Just to follow up: This is why we should get rid of the Senate as an institution altogether -- it's resistance to representative government enables what Hunter is talking about here:

Max Baucus is a crook. There, I said it outright. Ben Nelson? A crook. Grassley, Boehner, McConnell, Hoyer and the others? Crooks. Not "conservative", not "fiscal watchdogs", not "representing their own peculiar constituents", none of that hogwash and drivel that churns up our airwaves on a daily basis. They join the long line of leaders that rake in more cash from health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and the like than you or I are likely to see in our lifetimes, and in exchange for that they are the unquestioned _kingmakers_ of reform, and all the nation must bow down to them and to those that have paid them more cash than any of their own constituents have been able to shell out. With regularity, every industry under the American spotlight will turn to "friendly" senators and representatives, where friendly means nothing more than plied with cash, and in them they will find regulatory salvation for a relative pittance. It does not represent corruption under our system of government simply because we have carefully designed our government to freely allow it. Corporations are people, after all, and people have freedom of speech, and dollars represent speech, and therefore the person with the most dollars is entitled to the most representation.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dum da dum dum

I've posted two fairly different ads for the same thing on craigslist recently. Basically, I need to find someone to play drums for us on a more full-time basis (Sarah, who rules, is already full-time involved with Cavalier Rose).

Neither post to the musicians section on craigslist ny has generated even a single response.

I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I don't have any lame, bogus, bullshit emails in my inbox, which is good. I'm also not finding anybody anytime soon.

Wait, wait, wait

We don't have enough money in the MTA to run a full, 8-car train on the ONLY Brooklyn-Queens crosstown line, the G train. And it also has scaled back (the worst) service in the entire NYC subway, also to save money.

Despite this, Mayor Bloomberg is proposing to champion the middle class and FIGHT for us by bringing light-rail and trollies to Brooklyn?

What the fuck is wrong with this guy? He can't even keep the trains running, but he wants to build an inferior light rail system?

Sounds like desperate electioneering.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Compassion is for dirty fucking hippies... and Scots

This is incredible, the BBC video in which the Scottish justice explains his decision to release the Lockerbie bomber. Whether you agree with the decision or not, the man's statement is eloquent, courageous, and a testament to his people (tho they be criminals all of 'em! =p)

This commentary from Josh Marshall is sad but true:

While we share a common legal tradition with the UK, our own legal system increasingly seems like a moribund vestige of our common history, rather than a self-sustaining creation which we continue to ratify and renew. On a gloomy day, it's hard for me to envision the U.S. adopting the Anglo-American system today if we were starting from scratch. As it is, our legal system labors under enormous tension between who [we] are now and the values we once idealized. MacAskill's statement, regardless of how you view his decision, is a living, breathing example of those legal traditions being carried forward in practice, not merely as totems from another time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Anything better than nothing?

DougJ writes over on

I also tend to think that almost any bill will be better than what we have now. I’m for a public option—actually, I’m for single payer—but just about any bill, within reason, will be a tremendous political accomplishment. To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised things gotten as far as they have.

Dude, get the fuck out of here. Smokescreens, corporate give aways and the same old bullshit do not count as tremendous political accomplishments.

Any bill, in particular one where we pay billions of subsidies to giant companies that don't need them when we don't have to, is arguably as bad or WORSE than what we have now. Not only will you really be giving away tax payer money for no other reason than solidifying your political power with BigInsurance's and Big Pharma's dollars, but there's no incentive for improvement, no check on the system, NOTHING.


Any bill is worse than No Bill. With NO BILL the score is clear, and people will continue to recognize that we need real reform. Yes, Obama will have egg on his face if there's no bill. This is what accountability is all about, this is what CHANGE and REFORM are about.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Let's Be Clear

I, too, would like to see the Senate go the way of the street car. That is, I'd also like to see it railroaded out of history, forcibly, and unfairly:

If we don't get a good health care bill, yes, Obama deserves garbage-pelting. But let's be clear: we have a legislative system that is undemocratic, dysfunctional, and flat-out ridiculous. The only thing it will actually DO as far as spending goes is authorize stupid wars.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tase 'em, Dano

I for one have never believed that police should be allowed to use tasers at all. Maybe there's something wrong with me, but I've always held that one should be convicted before one is electrocuted by the state.

Did you know that The Troops are forbidden to carry tasers because they violate the Geneva Conventions? Fuck that shit!

Great article on tasers by Digby, who is guest blogging for Glennzilla.

Friday, August 07, 2009

They Hate Us For Our Freedom

WaPo opinion writer declares Republicans "political terrorists." Coulda told you that back in 2000, and then again in 2001, and ever since then....

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Chuck It

I had to read this twice to make sure I was reading it right. What kind of twisted jackass throws something out of a car at a biker?

Is it really that surprising? It's been done to me at least three times in my life, and I don't ride to work every day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

One More Rant Before I Go

Bunch of goddamn batteries powering Goldamn, Sachs' yacths and leer jets,
Bunch of goddamn wait staff working in one giant amusement park for the smartest thieves.



Just to mention something that is obvious, but hopefully not overlooked, i.e., if this country cannot pass a bill which insures that every citizen has access to medical care, which every developed country has managed to do (and got done many many years ago), there is something very fundamentally and structurally wrong with this country.
Such an event, in my mind, would confirm that we live with a completely corrupt and dysfunctional form of government. Forty nine states, each with bicameral legislative bodies, some of which have distinguished themselves recently with unabashed levels of incompetency and cluelessness. Then, graft a federal government over that, which is also bicameral, the non-representative portion of it being filled with officials who are certifiable morons and/or who are bought and sold like whores by wealthy contributors.

Talk about a Waterloo.

This is a defining moment in our history. Do we fulfill our supposed status as a "shining city on a hill" or continue our long slow decline into a second rate oligarchy?

I am not one prone to hyperbole.

I believe this to the depths of my soul.

I think my countrymen have a unique knack for shooting themselves in the foot. We can just give billions of dollars away to pure criminals as a reward for ripping us off, we can spend billions blowing up people who never did a damn thing to us, but GOD FORBID we spend any money making sure that everybody's healthcare is paid for up front. Much better to let it get even more expensive, make the profiteers even richer, and those of us in the middleclass can continue to pay for all the uninsured when they do get sick as they always do, and do get care at the hospital because you can't in good conscience let them die.

Bunch of goddamn assholes.

People in Europe work some 350 hours less a year than we do in this country. Even the Japanese work 150 hours less. We're starting to look more and more backwater and second rate as the time goes on. This is the legacy of our corporatist system.

Alright, enough ranting, gotta get the brownbag together for lunch and head to work.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sen. Menendez D-NJ Gives Us An Example

There was a lot of talk at #futureruby last week about George Orwell's essay, "Politics & The English Language," and how it is important to resist the vacuousness of modern English because it allows politicians and public figures to quite literally get away with murder:

If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

Well, a friend of mine just received the e-mail from his senator, Robert Menendez (D-NJ):

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for prosecuting officials involved in cases of detainee torture under the Bush Administration. Your opinion is very important to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to you on this vital issue.

I believe that protecting the American people is Congress' most sacred responsibility. In doing so, however, we must not compromise the values and virtues of our nation and our constitution. These values were broken under the Bush Administration with policies such as indefinitely detaining individuals while subjecting them to cruel and inhumane interrogation tactics, damaging our reputation around the world, and putting our own soldiers at increased risk.

In order to remedy these affronts to American values, some in Congress have proposed creating a special commission to investigate the harsh interrogation methods that the Bush administration approved for terrorism suspects. However, there is division among the current Administration and these congressional leaders as President Obama has expressed a need to wait for the results of an investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The President has already moved to reassure the agency that the C.I.A. operatives involved would not be prosecuted and desires to protect those officials that followed the legal advice in good faith from punishment. The question of how best to deal with the decisions of the previous Administration has been, and continues to be, widely debated in Washington and across the country.

On this, as with any issue, there are many different views on how to address the behavior of these government officials. Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind as I work with colleagues to provide the tools to defend America from our enemies, while never ceding our standing as a nation of freedom and justice.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. This issue is very important to me, and I appreciate your support. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of concern. I also invite you to visit my website to learn more about my work in the United States Senate.

Throughout five paragraphs and 354 words, Menendez manages to avoid saying anything at all, and not once does he use the word torture.

If you want to help push accountability for torture, this is the place to start.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I Ain't Scurred

Reminder from Tim F.:

As I wrote about four days after Obama won, when it comes to the Constitution there is no such thing as partly pregnant. The President’s oath of office obligates him to fully respect the Constitution of the United States (or at least make a believable show of doing so, which most Presidents treat as the same thing). Disrespecting that oath represents a fundamental and often criminal failure by the President to carry out his duties.

George Bush left the next administration with a clever Sophie’s Choice in that the only way to stop pissing all over the U.S. Constitution is to upset the mother of all apple carts. Necessary steps would include, at a minimum, releasing the prisoners whom we can’t prosecute because we tortured them and then prosecuting the torturers.

Obama doesn’t like upsetting apple carts. He was (by far) the best option that Spaghetti Monster offered to American voters that year, but nonetheless we had every reason to think that we would wait a long time before he brought down the flaming sword of Justice on Bush-era criminals. One could hope that Obama would let facts leak out until public pressure ‘forces’ him to do the right thing but nope, Obama seems pretty determined to keep the truth from leaking out as well.

The simple fact is that Obama doesn’t have a multifaceted decision to make. Doing the right thing (one could call that ‘respecting his oath of office’) will bring on a political shitstorm as every Republican down to the student government level declares that the government has gone commiefascist and starts digging bunkers in their back yard. If Obama doesn’t want that fight then he has to keep innocent people in cages and tell the courts and the international community to go f*ck themselves.

Let them dig their bunkers, let them demand that they can imprison anyone they want for as long as they want without trial. We know who the real fascists are, and if you're afraid of them, well... then you concede your world to them.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Here's a shocker

Newsflash, Republicans don't support national health care:

Proponents say the option of a public plan in the marketplace would put a brake on costs and check the power of insurers. But Republicans, insurers and many business leaders say a government plan could drive private insurance companies out of business.

Okay, raise your hand if you give a shit. And that's coming from somebody who's all about private enterprise.

It is encouraging to see Schumer getting behind the public option, albeit meekly.

Shifting Phase

Been a while since I used my e-bow. Or my bi-phase. and then used it all with delay, too.

Feels good.

The Opposition

It's not enough to have voted last November. If you want health-care to change (particularly if you, like me, think the public options is necessary to achieving actual reform and many other goals, including saving money in the long run), you need to speak up and call your senators.

If you don't want anything to change, looks like you're all set, with the GOP and a good number of congressional Dems all lined up against a plurality of the country:

And yes, I mean Democratic senators. The Republicans, with a few possible exceptions, have decided to do all they can to make the Obama administration a failure. Their role in the health care debate is purely that of spoilers who keep shouting the old slogans — Government-run health care! Socialism! Europe! — hoping that someone still cares.

The polls suggest that hardly anyone does. Voters, it seems, strongly favor a universal guarantee of coverage, and they mostly accept the idea that higher taxes may be needed to achieve that guarantee. What’s more, they overwhelmingly favor precisely the feature of Democratic plans that Republicans denounce most fiercely as “socialized medicine” — the creation of a public health insurance option that competes with private insurers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ron Paul is a Liberal and a Pussy

For sure:

I rise in reluctant opposition to H Res 560, which condemns the Iranian government for its recent actions during the unrest in that country. While I never condone violence, much less the violence that governments are only too willing to mete out to their own citizens, I am always very cautious about "condemning" the actions of governments overseas. As an elected member of the United States House of Representatives, I have always questioned our constitutional authority to sit in judgment of the actions of foreign governments of which we are not representatives. I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little. And we know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran.

Of course I do not support attempts by foreign governments to suppress the democratic aspirations of their people, but when is the last time we condemned Saudi Arabia or Egypt or the many other countries where unlike in Iran there is no opportunity to exercise any substantial vote on political leadership? It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made. I have admired President Obama's cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.

I adhere to the foreign policy of our Founders, who advised that we not interfere in the internal affairs of countries overseas. I believe that is the best policy for the United States, for our national security and for our prosperity. I urge my colleagues to reject this and all similar meddling resolutions.

The Real Swine Flu

WaPo Haz It:

To be a real establishment journalist (objective), you're not allowed to say when one side is lying -- even when they are. All you're allowed to do is repeat what both sides say and leave it at that (Colbert: "The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home"). Froomkin -- unlike David Gregory -- believes that reporters should actually point out when the Government is lying. That's what he did. That's why, to The Post, he wasn't a real reporter but, rather, an "ideologue." That's the sickness of American journalism in a nutshell.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Your Merit-Based Society

Promotions For the Pure at Heart:
From the start, the rendition team suspected that his case was one of mistaken identity. But the C.I.A. officer in charge at Langley—the agency asked that the officer’s name be withheld—insisted that Masri be further interrogated. “She just looked in her crystal ball and it said that he was bad,” a colleague recalls. Masri says that he was chained in a freezing cell with no bed, and given water so putrid that he could smell it across the room. He was threatened and stripped, and could hear other detainees crying all around him. After several weeks, the C.I.A. officer in charge learned that Masri’s German passport was not a forgery, as was originally suspected, and that he was not the terror suspect the agency thought he was. (The names were similar.) Even so, the officer in charge refused to release him. Eventually, Masri went on a hunger strike, losing sixty pounds. Skeptics in the agency went directly over the officer’s head to Tenet, who realized that his agency had been brutalizing an innocent man. Masri was released after a hundred and forty-nine days. But the officer in charge was not disciplined; in fact, a former colleague says, “she’s been promoted—twice.” Masri, meanwhile, has been unable to sue the U.S. government for either an apology or damages, because the courts consider the very existence of rendition a state secret—a position that the Obama Justice Department has so far supported.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ben Franklin gets written up

You know what doesn't suck? Getting a good review!

From last week's show at Europa, which really was just a surprisingly great time.

Monday, June 08, 2009

NYC's Parking Clusterfuck

There was an interesting segment on the Brian Lehrer show this morning on the notion of a Residential Parking Permit program for NYC. The comments thread is quite interesting, if a tad reactionary, but I enjoyed participating a little bit and reading the other comments.

I would say that RPP is a bullshit solution to the wrong problem. People are going to have cars, for some people mass transit isn't a good option (think old people and stair cases and long walks late at night in the winter), and some people will always drive no matter what because that's just how they are.

I don't think we should punish people in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens who own cars any more than we already do. It really sucks to own a car here. I've personally been reducing NYC's debt burden with street cleaning fines. I never use the damn thing, I love mass transit, and I love my bike and walking. I'm relatively young (for now) and spry, what can I say.

But, why are we actually talking about ways of reducing commuter travel by car to the city when we're reducing MTA service at the same time? You can't keeping cutting back service on the G line and expect people to not drive from Brooklyn to Park Slope. How the hell are you supposed to get around? MTA service in Brooklyn sucks, entirely, and it's getting worse. That's why people have the cars to begin with.

WWDC Predicitions

  • Vanity
  • Posturing by John Gruber
  • More limitations and lockdowns
  • No Steve Jobs
  • Pimping of the idiotic Push Notification Service

We Need a Better Senator

Charles Schumer will give head for money:
Mr. Sheils estimated that only 12 million people with private coverage would migrate to a public plan if Congress provided protections for insurers, along principles suggested by Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. Seeking to broker a deal that might attract Republican support, Mr. Schumer is promoting many of Mr. Nichols’s proposals, including that a public plan be subject to the same regulations as private plans and that it pay providers at higher levels than Medicare.
Just to be clear, what Chuck is proposing is gutting the public plan so that it won't do the good thing we'd want it to do: use our awesome bargaining power to drive better rates.

And a single-payer system is off the table, too. God forbid everybody has to pay in to a health insurance plan. These folks like to rant and rave about how it's wrong to force people to pay for it, but they still expect someone to take them to the hospital if they get sick or hurt, and they expect to be treated even if they can't afford it.

They have no problem paying taxes to kill people in other countries, but heaven forfend paying a tithe to insure you can get decent medical care. A tithe too many people already pay too much into, to support everyone else, to little good effect.

I wonder how our "Universal" health care system is really going to turn out. Sounds like the big companies see a similar opportunity to "change the rules" in this historic moment for a long time to come.

Fucking assholes. Fuck you, Chuck.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Who Counts?

The nay-sayers:

77 members in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. They support a single payer health care plan. 51 Blue Dogs. They don't. Who is on your teevee? In your news weekly?

"Not on the table."

Friday, June 05, 2009

Fuck Yeah, Europa!

Last night? That's why I play music. Gigs like that.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Team Work

A new demo:

Looking forward to fleshing this out with the other Bens Franklin. I think it's good enough for me to play at the two solo/acoustic gigs I have coming up, but ideally I want way more rocking and electricity and a better chorus.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Good Question

Over on TPM Muckraker:
But the emerging evidence that "Maqsood" aggressively targeted these men, and may have convinced them to participate in the plot only by offering them money and gifts, raises a different question: is pursuing "plots" that may well never have existed in the first place were it not for the work of a government informant, really the most effective way for the federal government to spend its finite terror-fighting resources?

Monday, May 18, 2009

We're Back On the Airwaves! And the intarwubs.

Sort of. Jim Testa, after a year hiatus, has resumed the Jersey Beat Podcast with episode number 58. We're not on the track listing, but if you got to 28:48, you'll hear Jim talking up Ben Franklin, as he spins our jam "Tell Us How You Really Feel," right between Kevin Divine, and The Volunteers.

Holy crap, that Kevin Divine song rocks my face off.

This weekend I managed to get a start on a website for us. Not much there just yet, a player, some basic info on who we are. Needs work. But it was within my capabilities. I like the little jQuery slideshow.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gonna Make Ya Sweat

Ben Franklin
So we got to the Iron Monkey's Automata Chino a bit early last night, me and Eddie. Ben Franklin was playing the last slot of the evening. And if you had told us while we were shivering on the roof deck eating our fish and chips that we'd be dying of the heat later on that night, we'd have laughed at you.

But the air conditioner broke (along with the house bass head) before anybody really even got started, so it was some sweaty madness as the night went on. 

So, before anything got started, Sweat Level: 2 (out of a possible 10)

First up was Frozen Gentlemen, who I'd asked to join Ben Franklin on the bill. These guys get better and better every time I see them. Real pros on stage, they gave an incredibly animated performance despite the fact that all four of them plus keyboards were crammed up on that small riser. These guys are just bad ass disco rock, straight up. At first you couldn't quite hear the vocals so everybody turned it down a tweak and it was all aces from there. Frozen Geez are infectious.

Sweat Level: 4

Next up was Caterwaul from Kingston, NY. These are the kinda guys who drag half stacks on stage in a tiny club and punch each other in the face between songs. Quite a riot, even if they seemed like they felt a bit out of their element. They were playing, IMHO, way too loud for the space, which to be fair is not hard to do. So I stuck some plugs in my ear and went up front. Most people didn't do this. It was a rough set for them. They didn't play badly, but the guitars were drowning out the drummer, and the vocals were really difficult to hear at all.

Sweat Level: 6

More and more people were filtering in at this point, and by the time Caterwaul got off the stage you couldn't move around freely anymore. Kilsy seems to have a really loyal, fun following that showed up en masse to support and shake their shit. I have to say, they really won me over, too. I didn't much care for the recordings on their MySpace, but maybe it's just the recordings - I loved the very same songs live, it was just a great performance, great music. The band was very much in control of their sound, a kind of new-wavey post punk dance rock, bass with chorus on it, keyboards, texture guitars, pretty hot drums.

By the time Kilsy was done doing her thing, it was Sweat Level: 10. Place was packed and hot. Sweat Level went up to 11 as we were setting up on stage. 

This was one of those evenings where your equipment seems determined to thwart you. I lost guitar in the middle of the first song, and had to just sing, dance, and clap and point my way through it until the end, whereupon we found out that the stage power strip somehow got turned off.

There was a monitor in front of me, but it was unplugged. All I could personally hear was guitar louder than everything (which it wasn't, but I was just standing next to it), and I couldn't hear myself singing at all. This resulted in me belting as hard as I could to be heard, so much so that by the end of our set I was literally suffering-out-of-breath, and dying from the heat! Like Eddie says, "everything's fine as long as you don't puke!" But it's really hard to keep smiling, staying in the music, and entertaining the people when your gear is shorting out sitting in beer and you're dying of overheating and not breathing!

Still, we persevered! There was a really supportive group of folks from JC who came out or who stuck around after Kilsy, and those smiling faces really keep you going. We pretty much nailed everything we played and by all accounts it was an excellent show! Especially for only our second proper gig, the three of us together.

So take off all your clothes

Friday, May 15, 2009

These Are the Most Delicate Songs

Well I've posted it all over the rest of the Internets, might as well finish the job.

Ben Franklin has a preview of the new record up. It's just three songs, and we'll be giving it out on a CD-R this Saturday night, and it's titled These Are the Most Delicate Songs. We're not making it available for download just yet, but you can have a listen over on our MySpace page.

I'm pretty excited about how it sounds, the recording quality seems really quite good, at least to my non-expert ears. Daniel Schlett who has been engineering and mixing our stuff has done a great job, and he's getting to use fantastic equipment over at the Pigeon Club. He's also adamant about using hardware compressors and pre-amps, many of them with transistors and tubes hanging out the back, instead of protools plugins, and I think that's part of the reason it all sounds so great so far. You can beat that old Spectre Sonics 610 for mixing a bass guitar signal! Ooh lookit i'm name dropping equipment. DOOOORK.

It's a little weird to listen to your own voice. I guess that will never change. But this is the first time I've ever had good recordings like this of songs I've written or been party to writing. Singing live on stage at a rock and roll show seems like old hat to me, but in the studio you see how much room for improvement you've got. I have a lot of that. A whole lot. But still, this is a good start.

One of the oddest things I had to get over was that my voice doesn't sound the way I'd like it to, it sounds the way it does. I know that sounds pretty elemental and stupid, but if you ever try this yourself you'll know you'll want to sound awesome, or rocking, or passionate, or like Tom Waits or Brit Daniel or take your pick. I sound like an 18 year old. That's how it's gonna be, that's what I've got to work with. So it goes!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Via Glenzilla:

Jesse Ventura was on CNN with Larry King on Monday night and this exchange occurred, illustrating how simple, clear and definitively non-partisan is the case for investigations and prosecutions for those who ordered torture (video below):

VENTURA: I don't watch much TV. This year's reading, I covered Bush's life. I covered Guantanamo and a few other subjects. And I'm very disturbed about it. I'm bothered over Guantanamo because it seems we've created our own Hanoi Hilton. We can live with that? I have a problem. I will criticize President Obama on this level; it's a good thing I'm not president because I would prosecute every person that was involved in that torture. I would prosecute the people that did it. I would prosecute the people that ordered it. Because torture is against the law. KING: You were a Navy SEAL. VENTURA: That's right. I was water boarded, so I know -- at SERE School, Survival Escape Resistance Evasion. It was a required school you had to go to prior to going into the combat zone, which in my era was Vietnam. All of us had to go there. We were all, in essence -- every one of us was waterboarded. It is torture. KING: What was it like? VENTURA: It's drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you -- I'll put it to you this way, you give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Titles for songs

What if genocide is good for housing prices?

Deep Thought

One day we're all going to look back on all this and laugh.

Nothing to do but scratch words in the dirt

Tomorrow, Ben Franklin returns to the Hudson County Pigeon Club in Hoboken to start vocal tracking and mixing of our record. I can't wait to show "everyone" [all ten people who sorta care] what we've been working on, and how great I think it is [also a dubious prospect, but we live in hope, yes?] I couldn't be more excited. It's actually a problem. I shouldn't practice any more singing, I shouldn't post any new notices about our show this coming Saturday until I get home really late tomorrow night with the early mixes we're going to put up and make available at the show....

So I guess I'm going running, then.

When I run, my mind wanders, it goes blank; I think of the past, I think of my breathing, I don't think of anything. Sometimes my mind wanders to very embarrassing old memories, the kind that will spur you to run faster, just to move on from the spectre, even though the mental and physical acts involved are pretty disparate. But I wouldn't say it's a problem I have with running, just something that happens sometimes. Sometimes my knees hurt, sometimes it's hard to breathe, it's the same thing, really.

Off we go, then.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

OMG Bobblespeak

This fella over here is providing "translations" of the political bullshit shows like Hardball and Meet The Press. Here's a snippet of David Gregory interviewing Hamid Karzai earlier today:

Karzai: ah i recall when the international community came to us in 2001

Gregory: the invasion?

Karzai: ah yes

Gregory: so it is too late?

Karzai: ah yes your Bush is quite a fuck-up

Gregory: since Obama became President i just became concerned about civilian casualties

Karzai: ah yes I noticed that

Gregory: so

Karzai: please stop bombing our villages thank you

Gregory: why is it that this issue bothers you so much?

Karzai: the dead children - ah well that's just the people you know how they are

Gregory: is your country pathetic and fucked?

Karzai: no not all we have many students studying abroad
One of the funnier things I've read in a little while.

Okay, back to programming with a dull hang-over.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


I was reading "An 'Uncontrollable': Protest to the Libertarians", a document that is from the Spanish Civil War. Really interesting to look into this basically hardcore anarcho-leftist business. Serious anti-fascist anarchists, dude, no fucking around. They weren't even down with communists (USSR was apparently helping to fund the fascists in order to stomp them out).

Anyway, it's super-melodramatic material, and perhaps appropriately so.

Certain nights, the dark nights in which -- weapon in arm and ear on the look-out -- I would strive to penetrate into the depths of the surrounding country, and also into the mystery of things, I would not find any other remedy, as in a nightmare, than standing up straight, unsheltered, and this not so as to relieve the numbness of my limbs, which would be steely because they were passed through the crucible of pain, but to grip my weapon with more bad temper, feeling keenly the desire to fire, not only upon the enemy who hides at least 100 meters from me, but also upon the other enemy, against the one whom I cannot see, against the one who hides at my side, and is still there at the moment, who calls me comrade while he basely fails me, since there is no failure more cowardly than the man who indulges in betrayal. And I experienced desires to cry and to laugh, and to run across the fields crying and wringing necks with my fingers of iron, as when I broke between my hands the neck of the vile "leader," and to blow up -- until only ruins remain -- this miserable world, in which it is so difficult to find loving hands that wipe away your sweat and staunch the flow of blood from your wounds when, tired and injured, you return from battle.

He choked a mother fucker! Damn.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Making it happen

Optimist album cover / poster, originally uploaded by Pintado.

A potential record cover / poster

Social Contract? I didn't sign anything...

Matt Taibbi digs in his heels to support "populist anger", or rather to point out that it's not as dangerous as the Elite Media declaim, in fact it's just about toothless here in the U.S.:

And this isn't about vengeance, it's about policy: if the "consequence" for blowing a $4 trillion hole in the economy is seeing masses of government officials line up to hurl billions of taxpayer dollars at you, that doesn't provide much of an incentive to fix your behavior....

The social contract has to be considered broken when some dumb schmuck can go to jail for five real years for selling a bag of weed while a guy who went to Harvard and Wharton and had all possible advantages gets nothing but a bailout and a temporarily lowered bonus regime for destroying billions of dollars of public wealth.
As for the credit card companies, fuck them.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ben Franklin - tracking for Optimist

Ben Franklin went into Hudson County Pigeon Club last Saturday to record with Daniel Schlett. We managed to do all the tracking for 12 songs (sans vocals) live in just under 8 hours of recording. We spent about 3 hours setting up drum mics, amp sounds, fucking with pedals and weird old gear. We went home with an hour to spare; Eddie and I were holding onto the poles on the PATH train for support, our dawgs were dropping dead.

I tried out a ton of amps in the studio, and a nineteen-seventy-something Telecaster Deluxe, yellow, and used it to record the first track, "Drink to Forget," before I put the thing down and didn't use it again for the rest of the session. It's a great instrument, The Boss guitar, but it just didn't sound as good as my black beauty, even with all its flaws.

My custom tele with its floating bridge and three humbuckers is one of those problem models. I had it adjusted the other day and my guitar guy gave me the scoop. But you know what? It plays really well and it sounds really god damn good, so fuck it. It's just too easy to work with when it's in tip-top shape and it's just been set up by a tech who knows what he's doing. It ended up sounding great. Always best to work with gear you know. It's not like we were in a position to record one instrument track 14 different times until we found the right sound and then do it again for a 15th time.

Enough gear nonsense. We were all in the room together, singing into scratch mics, we had headphones on. Sarah was set up in front of me and Eddie, our pedals were at our feet, axes to the ready, and our amps were in two isolation rooms nearby, so we had to hear ourselves through our headphones.

On the one hand, this meant no sticking your bass in front of the speaker for insta-screech. And you had to really focus on what you were doing and what you sounded like, listening probably more closely than you would with everyone turned up in one room like a practice space.

And that's AWESOME for recording! You actually nail it. Well, it seemed to help. Rehearsal room sessions are always an epic mess and this went down pretty clutch. Also, having everybody doing it together, it's like kicking it live, because you are. You have to nail it together, and you get excited together, you vibe off each other. Sure, you can punch in a blooper thanks to the iso rooms, but there's no click track, and we swore on no over-dubs, no double guitar solos, etc. That meant we had to be pretty creative with how we worked out the rock n roll improv, which for people like us usually involve no small amount of Awesome and Neat noises. I guess the finished product will tell.

It's a balancing act, we traded in a lot of flexibility, but gained what we wanted in the process -- real improvisation, real live passion. I think it worked out. We looked like kids at Christmas when it was all done. Okay, we also looked dead tired, but we were really happy with how everything came out that day.

The song that we all thought would be the hardest to lay down ended up being the one and only first-take song. That felt good. I don't think anything went beyond five takes. None of them struck me as particularly fail-inducing, so I guess the rehearsals paid off. We had maybe a total of five rehearsals for this session, not including the time we'd spent together before on about half the material, and my sessions hanging out and singing with Eddie in his basement.

I'm really proud, but the job's not done yet. Vocals, mixing, a teaser EP for the show next week, gotta get some imagery going, figure out things like artwork, posters, stickers, and fuck me running I have a lot to do.

Chomping at the bit to start aggressively booking, but up until now we've only had crap music to post, and you're better off not having anything up. I cleared our MySpace of all the crummy demos except "Montclair" because Sarah suggested we keep that one up.

Need to figure out a release date and show as well. Probably won't be until the end of June.

Deep Thought

WTF happened to Facebook and it's great interface designers?

A few months back, maybe more than that, there was a *new* facebook layout and it was mad good. Huge usability improvements, all kinds of features and capabilities were easily accessible (perhaps dauntingly so?), but it was really pretty rocking.

Now we've got this newer design, a big pile of crap with rounded corners that seems hell-bent on mimicking twitter, where I have trouble just finding the goddamn events module to see who's coming to that show I posted a week ago (*hint* just go to events.php and save yourself the trouble).

It rained last night. Accordingly, Time Warner Cable of NY is shitting itself. Dying slowly in a pool of rain water and rat turds in a Manhattan basement somewhere.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

We Hunt People For Jesus

For real:

The Al Jazeera report also shows Lt. Col. Gary Hensley, the chief of the US military chaplains in Afghanistan, telling a congregation of U.S. servicemembers that their job as Christian is to “hunt people for Jesus.” “That’s what we do, that’s our business,” he said. Watch it...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

They Frankly Own the Place

And everybody is just noticing this now?:

Sen. Dick Durbin, on a local Chicago radio station this week, blurted out an obvious truth about Congress that, despite being blindingly obvious, is rarely spoken: "And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A good question


just what will inspire people to pay 75 cents (or whatever) for this pile of paper every day? In an overwhelmingly Democratic city, it ain't Rick Santorum columns.

It's kind of amazing to me how often people approach business without having any kind of pretense at supplying some demand.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pig Death, NYC

WNYC has put together some info on the outbreak of Pig Death in Queens, NY.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

DIY Lives

I finally, finally got around to actually reviewing one of the shows I've been to, last night's Screaming Females record release.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Service Inadequacies

Service Inadequacies, originally uploaded by Pintado.

Photo says it all.

Demo: Ben Franklin - Drink to Forget

Nothing says "Rock and Roll" like boxed wine. This is a somewhat personal tune. Aren't they all? Wokka wokka wokka. It's a little messy, to be sure, but it makes me smile:

I've been kicking around a song called Smile since Meltdowns days, and Eddie always called it "Drink to Forget," which was funny since that song wasn't about drinking at all, but it was made to sound like a drinking song. Anyway, I decided to write such a song just for Eddie, and it started out as a joke, but then it got pretty serious.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Optimist and the Monkey

We three that are Ben Franklin were asked to play at IM Automata Chino, Iron Monkey's new rock venue in Jersey City. Jim Testa has been trying to get me to see a show with him there for the last two months and I haven't yet made it, so I guess I'll finally get to see what it looks like on the inside! The show will be Sat, May 16th and it's 21+, that much I know.

We've got a working title for our record: Optimist. We're recording it on Sat May 2nd with Daniel Schlett on the boards. We've got a lot of new material, and if you make it out to the Monkey, you'll basically be hearing us perform Optimist, although I don't think we'll be able to cram all 12 tracks into a 45 minute set. Depends on the bill that night. [I'm also taking quite a leap in assuming that we'll definitely nail all 12 tracks in one day, but if the Minutemen can do it, I think we damn well can do it!] We should have some kind of single/CD-R at the show, but I think we're going to take our time releasing the actual record.

On a tangent: The Press are playing Automata Chino this Saturday night, they are always a really good show, highly recommended.


It's really great to be a NY-er. Those corrupt politicians know how to throw things at the wall and make them stick, we can at least say that much about them.

I'm seriously considering working for any anti-Bloomberg campaign.

Call Me Crazy

But this is what I've been thinking (and saying) for a long time:

A collective refusal to prosecute the grotesque war crimes that we know our Government committed is to indict all of us in those crimes, to make us complict in their commission.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


I think you can put me firmly in the distrust camp. Actions mean a lot more than words.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Face of Proposition 8 - demo

Scrapped together the vocal parts for this song, finally. It's not sung very strongly, but I was figuring out how it should be sung, kinda happy with how it came out, I think it's very funny.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Heaven Is A Place

Me: When they say, "she's gone up to heaven, she's with the angels now, giving them a hard time," do they really believe there is a Heaven and that we all go there?

Gönül: yeah, they really do believe that. Every word of it.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work we go

This morning's reading comes from Matt Taibbi, yet again, in response to Jake DeSantis' childish Op-Ed in the NYTimes:

I mean, half of Wall Street is unemployed right now. There are plenty of unemployed traders out there whose resumes don't include such entries as "Worked for years at small unit of AIG that helped destroy the universe; throughout that time was completely ignorant of burgeoning global disaster unfolding 5 feet from my desk."

[ ... ]

Hey Jake, it's not like you were curing cancer. You were a fucking commodities trader. Thanks to a completely insane, horribly skewed set of societal values that puts a premium on greed and severely undervalues selflessness, communal spirit and intellectualism -- values that make millionaires out of people like you and leave teachers and nurses, the people who raise your kids and clean your parents' bedpans, comparatively penniless -- you made a lot of money.

Good for you. Consider yourself lucky. But your company went belly-up and broke, almost certainly thanks in part to you, and now you don't get your bonus.

So be a man and deal with it. The rest of us do, when we get bad breaks, and we've had a lot more of them than you. And stop whining. Jesus Christ.

Also: Fuck them.

Monday, April 06, 2009

for the record

I couldn't be more disinterested.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Ghosts and Stuff

So I've got a love song, it's called Ghosts.

Just a quick demo to sound it all out and firm up the order of things. Has one line in there I meant to change because it's a bit cliche, but will have to fix later.

I've got this other one, it's called Tell Us How You Really Feel, which is basically about the memory drama that seems to ensue for me whenever I have a big falling out with anybody in my life.

Monday, March 23, 2009

full length track list

full length track list, originally uploaded by Pintado.

bomb mean that the song is political. star means that it totally rocks. heart is where we get all emo.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Clearly, the world is going to end soon

I just may have managed to write a love song that doesn't suck.

Weird. This does not happen.

Because Fuck Them

Did I mention "fuck them", yet? Because, fuck them:

These bonuses, Dubya’s speaking fees, Paris Hilton’s diamond-encrusted dashboard are rounding errors on the $10+ trillion economic clusterfuck, and poor Paris really didn’t help cause it. The Point is that these situations exemplify, for a great many regular people, a fundamental unfairness in American life, which is that the rich get over on everybody else. When times are good, the rich benefit disproportionally. When times are bad, and it’s entirely their fault, they get bailed out by the rest of us. So it goes.

I’m a liberal. I don’t believe in Fairness. Some people are luckier than others, the powerful will get what they want (that’s a fair definition of “power”), none of these asymmetries ever seem to work out in my favor, and I’m pretty sure I’m getting a cold sore. That said, there are degrees of economic inequality, and the last ten years has seen this inequality deliberately exacerbated. It is past time for a pushback. If the AIG outrage is where it starts, then I guess it can start there. I’m not getting bogged down in the details.

Also, fuck them:

But it’s not clear to me why a couple, both of whom work in the financial services industry [for a company which the taxpayers are bailing out -ed.], and make $150,000 each should essentially have their entire bonuses taken back in taxes.

Are you on acid?

Because they didn’t earn it, maybe? Because if they were working for any other industry where they’d fucked the collective dog to the extent the financial services industry has, they wouldn’t even have a job? Because while 40-odd million Americans have no health care, these folks get $300,000/year plus bennies plus a bonus? Because fuck them?