Much bittersweet tonight, with what Larry Kirwan said from stage ” the last time Black 47 will ever play Milwaukee”

But a bit of glorious shambolic Irish-American-punk-folk party at pretty much the largest Irish festival in America.  Irish Fest covers most of the Summerfest grounds for four days, and has become an annual stop for many  Irish heritage bands from America, Ireland, and Canada.  Walking up to the gates, the announcements are in English and Gaelic…

Oddly, the white racists gobs never say that these folks should be giving up on their ancestral culture or languages.  Gosh, I wonder what could the difference be?

Anyway, I got my picture took with Larry Kirwan after the show, and got a CD signed for Zelmo, who was elsewhere attending to a new babby in the fambly-adjacent.

And following B47, we had a date for the Irishfest headlining gig of local zombie faves Whiskey Of The Damned.  We have been watching Eoin (pronounced Owen?) play sweaty punky drinky songs since he was helping out the DIY Refugee Stage at Summerfest. He used to play some Pogues covers with pick-up musicians there.  But  eventually he put together a band of his own, and what a goddam band.  He has partnered with Gina on violin, and I like to joke that the other three members of the band look like BOC roadies from 1975.  But they all play like motherfuckers, and trust me friends and guinea pigs, but I have to tell you that tonight they played an old classic “Streams Of Whiskey”, which had also been previously defined by the Pogues.  But tonight, o yes tonight, they re-defined that song; gloriously fast, and the Pogues version is now in second place and sorry Shane.


Eoin McCarthy’s father is Finbar McCarthy, another Irish musician who immigrated to Milwaukee because the nickname was Brew City.  Finbar played before WOTD on the stage, so it was quite a family affair.

I remember when Black 47 played Irish Fest for the first time.  Many of the older attendees were distressed about the emphasis on guitar and the addition of hip-hop rhythms and rapping vocals by Chris Byrne.  The overt populism and political bent was off putting to a crowd that had largely found that the best way to get along was to not talk about the politics.  Larry Kirwan says that “to be Irish is to BE political!” and tonight the crowd roared.  The anthem “James Connelly” was greeted with screams and cheers, and the crowd held fists aloft to this populist, working class and union hero.

On the drive home, we mused about the bands I tried to remember when I first discovered Black 47.  It struck me that it was due to an interview with some guitar hack from some small-time band  who ridiculously called himself “Edge”, who referred to this punky New York Irish Hip-hop band, that made me curious enough to search out their independent first release (which Wife Sublime famously hated; of course, now she loves them).  I am pretty damn sure that I saw them the first time they played Milwaukee after that, and after that they instantly were escalated to the Zombie Pantheon.

They once did an entire album based on letters they had received from soldiers stationed in Iraq.  Called , of course, Iraq.  With the history of Irish fighters in the homeland, and in American wars, how could they not?

On stage, Kirwan reminisced about starting the band with Chris Byrne, when they talked in a bar about the demise of the Clash and the death of Bob Marley, and there was a gap for political bands.

Amidst the musical gumbo of NY avant-garde, hip-hop, old school New Wave and Irish Heritage, I have always been in love with the political content.  Populist songs like James Connelley and the Big Fellah enthralled me; at the same time stories of working class desperation in Livin’ In America, Losin’ It,, and Danny Boy sing about the travails of real working class people.

Speaking of the travails of real people, one of the fellow travelers among some of the Usual Suspect Blogs, jurassicpork,  has been in rough times lately, but has persevered, putting together what looks like a fine book, and has been shopping it.  He has been shopping it and is getting close to a publishing deal; but in the interim has the standard Modern American Economy shitstorm need to keep life and limb and hope together and as such, is stepping up a financing effort.

He has a great setup of incentives (and a mordantly sarcastic account of why he won’t do it through Kickstarter.  Mainly revolving around potato salad).  The book looks great and I encourage you to go there and throw a couple of dollars in the jar.  More, if you want to participate.

Look, most of y’all know that I have been skint as fuck for quite a few years (it tracks pretty closely to the activity in construction Weird huh?).  It’s been a very tough several years for me, and it now seems to be loosening up — just a bit!- and although I am not taking anything for granted, I am also finding it possible to help others out.  I don’t know if I believe in Karma, and the idea of “pay it forward” is treacly bullshit.  But I DO believe in paying for music and art and writing that I enjoy.  So I punted some money his way, and you should too. 

If you ain’t familiar with the dude, check out his writing.  He’s pretty good, and he says fuck a reasonable amount.  Not as much as I do, typically, but then for me it’s a crutch.  TAlks a lot about politics, more focused than I do; We disagree on a fair bit, but I disagree with most of you as well, but you’re still basically good people. As is JP, so help him the fuck out, ‘K?

Added emphasis.  JP needs every few clinks in the internarfles jar that he can get.  It’s not just the booksicles, but there are living expenses and mediacal shit that they need help for.  I know there are a few of you that read this from time to time who have been in similar straits, and are now less skint; so open up your empathy and spare change to send him a dollar or two, willya?  Don’t be dicks.

On stage, Larry reminisced about starting Black 47 as an overtly political band.  They blistered a trail that went far afield from that, of course; but when he talked about disbanding after 25 years, that there needed to be a political band to step back into that void.

There is an argument to be made that political bands make little difference. I think it’s a weak argument, because musicians can both write political songs and be politically active; its easy to point to bands that have done both.

It’s bittersweet that yet another of my favorite bands ever have called it quits, and we will be painting the town 40 shades of blue, indeed.  But even that song ends in exultant anthemic charging fervor.  Black 47 has never been about depression, but always about fighting against the bad shit, kicking against the pricks.

Black 47 has retired, and clearly put out a call for someone to step up into the void.  They stepped up from Marley and the Clash; 25 years on, what a fine fine tradition they can claim, and I am so so happy that I have been able to be part of it all.  BUT  as Larry and Chris said in those long ago days, where is there a political band?  Black 47 and RATM are long gone, who will step up?

Who can sing. Guthrie level, you don’t have to be able to sing so well.  Springsteen and Bono tell us that singing is only OK, but passion is most.  Where is there some passion?


What do you know, there’s this guitar in the corner….

Title is a shout-out to mikey, a song from the new Gaslight Anthem album.  One listen in, they seem to have been going whole hog down the classic round sound, much Journey and Foghat soundishness.  But I may revise that idea.

Some Wisconsin Content:

“They announced the Summerfest schedule!  We should go every day.”  I have said that.  I may say it again.

mikey and I got into the tall weeds about Boston albums in a faceHell thread about Robin Williams’ suicide.  We all deal with loss and terror different ways, and mikey and I started arguing about shovels and overproduced arena rock.

I was shocked by the news about Williams’ suicide.  As I have said in several locations, if the wealthy and successful who have access to the best in drugs and treatment can’t deal with the lying motherfucker that is depression, what hope do we normal fucking people have?

Here’s what mikey turns to:

Here are some of mine:

and, of course:


So, to keep RLJ’s FaceHell from getting too weird, here’s a place to talk about how you deal with brilliant people who take themselves from us, or how you you deal with depression and death, or how you want to hire me to design your multi-million dollar residence.

Friend of Zombie and former blogger (not to mention newly re-employed) Von posted on FaceHell about being verbally harassed and body-shamed by a bunch of idiot male idiots outside of a movie theater recently, and it made me think of lots of stuff.  Lots of stuff that is one sided on my part, as a white hetero dude, who has probably been on the giving side of that harassment equation when I was younger more than I would like to admit.

As another former Blogger of the Bloggerhood said “Who knows. I do know though, that as a female, you’re open to commentary from day one, no matter the decade.”  Which is what Futrelle has been documenting destroying over at We Hunted The Mammoth (formerly ManBoobz) for quite some time.  The privilege demonstrated by men who do this shit in order to make themselves feel more important through manipulating and harassing and molesting a person that they are fairly sure won’t fight back.

I mentioned on FaceHell that I was helping out with my TKD instructor’s self-defense class last night.  She teaches a class to defend against muggings, assaults, and rape; for the final class, she enlists the aid of a few of us male black belts to gear up in Mad Max looking gear and attack these students as they walk through an abandoned school (she figures that a black belt is suitably able to defend themselves against the basic techniques).

There is an amazing video floating around, of women talking about their harassments and assaults in public areas maybe you’ve seen it but if not:

After watching that video, I reflected on several of the techniques taught in the class, simple but allow for making these assaulting assholes think twice, or at least wiping that “whattaya gonna do about it girlie?” smirks off their misogynistic and ugly faces.

But what it made me think of more than anything else are a couple of the game-played attacks.  For the final one, us attackers were tiring and sweaty, so we convinced the instructor to let us ‘invade’ the gymnasium where the final two women were waiting, with an unannounced kamikaze attack.  The responded with the most natural panic we had been able to elicit from anyone all night.  Taken completely unawares, visibly and audibly terrified, they still managed to remember some of the techniques they had been taught, and successfully fended off 2-on-one attackers until the rest of the class could come down and help them.

But the one that will stick with me is one of the solo attacks.  I lunged out at the victim from an alcove, grabbed her arms, then pushed her back into the alcove.  Her face changed; she started to realize one of her worst nightmares- the big guy pushing her into an enclosed space.  And then the terror melted from her face as she remembered her techniques; she clawed at my arms, stamped on my shins and feet, and clubbed me on the back of my head with a hammerfist.  I let go, there was no choice, and she ran down the hall.

I was a little sore last night, and my legs and feet were stiff this morning.  But after watching this video, and reading Von’s post, I felt like that is nothing compared to the constant and unrelenting harassments that women receive; largely because they are perceived as powerless.  And the response is that I want to give them power.

Oh yeah, title song and I will give a trigger warning for assault and noise.  This song is amazing and tough to listen to even as a male.

I have been remiss in my workouts, with professional life kicking my ass seven ways to Sunday and back again; but this effort is something I feel even more strongly about.  It’s not about some misguided notion that women should be physical equals to men, but that women should know that there are several easy to learn techniques that, if they don’t level the playing field, Do allow for freedom and flight.

It should be mentioned that one of the women that had been through this class, was accosted late at night by an Asshole With A Gun (which will now and forever be acronymized on this blog as AWAG.  Expect a LOT of that usage) and she yelled, blocked his gun hand, kicked him, de-gunned him, and then ran off into the night screaming for help.

My wife has a couple of stories about assault.  Her best friend has them.  I GUARANTEE that if you are in a room with two women, there are assault stories.

Guys, we have to do better.  We have to tell our fellow fellas that this shit will not stand.  We have to stand up for people like Von who don’t feel like they will be defended.  We have to insist that our fellow dickswinging shitheads are not able to behave that way.  We have to not only tell our spawn but DEMONSTRATE to them that respect for everyone and every race includes respect for every gender.

and YES, this does perforce and obviously include transgender.  Don’t make me come down there and kick your ass, jerkwads.


I’m so busy, even my dream-puppets are exhausted.  So a viddy is all you get.

Talk amongst yourselves.  Start a fight in the comments or something.

Link to title reference.  Jon Langford and an AMAZING roster of fellow travelers banded together to create albums that funded the efforts to suspend the death penalty in Illinois, and it worked.  The gubblemint is not killing people in Illinois anymore.

Yeah; there’s still work to be done.  The recent horrid appalling torturous executions by experimental drug concoctions are pointing out how inhumane and yes, cruel this whole idea is.  Drug companies have refused to make the drugs that are used in executions; American companies don’t do it because they are appalled and there’s no money in it, because it’s low volume especially when compared to the market for boner pills.  Overseas companies are just appalled, and refuse to make the drugs because it is an atrocity that they refuse to be part of.  And so, the states that like to kill people are forced to use strange mixes of street drugs that may or may not kill the subject, like a downmarket cable channel version of Breaking Bad except there’s no good acting and actual real people are tortured and killed.

But after all, I agree with this judge.  Although he supports State Killin’, he says that we should go ahead and allow firing squads, blood brains and all. The drug cocktail death penalty methods were enacted because the other methods were ugly and horrific; but I maintain that state-sponsored murder IS ugly and horrific and if some states are going to do it, make it just as blatantly horrible as it is. In fact, if I were writing laws, I would require states that want to murder people to have the wronged person kill the dude personally.  strangulation, breaking his neck, or smashing his skull with a tire iron. It’s ugly at it’s base; how would those approaches be any more terrible that what happened in Arizona?

john Oliver recently pointed out that America’s prison grift is inherently fucked up.  We imprison WAY more people than any other industrialized nation, and we have actually surpassed China

….Wait.  WHAT THE FUCK?  America, the Lighted Lamp Of Personal Freedom, is imprisoning more people than China, the supposed epitome of authoritarian crackdown?

Well, for those of us who pay attention to news sources other than Fox (News), we know that we have several contributing factors; the racist laws and racist enforcement, the extraordinarily destructive sentencing laws, and the  stupidity of for-profit management of prisons.  We kill the (supposedly) violent offenders, and fill the backend with non-violent and low-level drug offenders.


You know, once upon a time Christians were opposed to killing other people at any level.  Somehow, that has changed to the Vocal Christian Assholes are now the most vocal pushers of the idea that murder of other people somehow does not contradict the whole “thou shalt not kill”

As a former Lutheran, now atheist, I find conformance to the “thou shalt not kill” directive to be not only worthwhile but also an impelling moral directive.  And I am perplexed by the supposed followers of Christ who want to do things like deport helpless and desperate children, and remove health care from millions of fellow citizens, not to mention thrilling when the State murders on of our fellow citizens.

It’s fucking wrong.   every other developed nation in the world has abolished the death penalty.  America used to be considered the Shining City On The Hill; an ideal, that other people could aspire to.  Now we are becoming a horrible, violent, regressive nation that can’t support its own infrastructure.  But GUNS!


I am inherently an optimist, and that is part of why I would up in the profession I did.  I am predisposed to working toward progress and solving problems, and I have done that in my career.

But fuck me, I see developments on the worldwide stage that spend tremendous efforts toward green development that makes our meager efforts toward energy efficiency seem crazy.  I want to incorporate all of that into the work I do, and it is resisted by developers and bankers at aver level. In fact I will now commit to introducing solar and other elements will be included in our developments, and it will all be cut out.

But here is the point.  The death penalty is savage and wrong and irreversible.  It is something that America should not allow, if we claim to be a civilized nation. It’s savage and ugly.  The recent travesties point out how wrong and twisted it is.

Between the racism in the front end, and the savagery at the back end, there’s no way it can be considered just, or justice. It makes me barf.

It can’t be considered justice.  It’s not considerate and if you watch the videos, it’s  hardly even humane.  We should not be doing it.  It’s not justice.  At best, it’s vengeance.  And it it is disgusting and appalling and we have to stop it.

We really need to stop murdering people.

Hah.  I did that screaming sideways post about the permanence of the artistic impulse, and PUNCTUATED it with a the 10cc video.  And then bright and early on Monday Morning, Steve Simels posted a link to an acoustic set done by Graham Gouldman and the batch of dudes he is touring with.

For those of you who don’t know; Graham Gouldman has written more of your favorite songs than you ever realized.  Do you know he wrote Cream’s biggest hit?

I was turned on to 10cc by a friend I worked with when I was in high school.

it is weird to admit, but Kell was older than I and had a deformed hand due to the drugs being fed to his mother.  Regardless, he was a sporto and was considered for the Phillies farm team.  He introduced me to old-school Genesis, as well as 10cc; and also insisted that I also upgrade my standards both for alcohol and pot.

It is very weird to look back, but I was mostly into hard rock and metal , as a suburban mush-head teenager.  But Kell helped me move beyond that (admittedly, I had made some strides already, with my affection for Queen).

And after all these years and miles, I still smile when one of those songs come up on iTunes.  Gouldman and the others in the band are so unbelievably talented, that you can’t help bu be converted by their songs.

This is where I usually exhort you to go and pay the fucking musician; but I suspect Gouldman has oodles of royalties.  But I exhort you on the other side of it, if you like tremendous and superb music, go and download this thing.

what the fuck, it includes a version of Dreadlock Holiday.  And he is an Artist of the First Caliber, so pay fucking attention.  And if you love his work, go our and see a live band or pay somebody for music.

Because that is how it works.

But on a personal note, my personal favorite is One Two Five:


Yeah, the things we do for love.  That’s good.  But here’s the things: we do some things because we love them, right.  But at some point we (everybody) needs to get paid for doing them.  And the Goofle (not being EVIL) and the Spotify  are not actually paying artists at any meaningful level.

What I learned from 10cc is the ability to be good and great and intelligent, while working within the standard.  Conforming while screwing with the status quo.  A love song that is JUST THAT BIT weird.


You want to support musician in this environment of savage race to the bottom lifestyle?  two ways: go to their web site and buy something.  OR: go to a show and buy something.  Or, if you want to be zombie about it, sit your ass down and learn how to play a fucking instrument.  Not only will that give you some idea about how tough it i is to actually play music publicly, it will give you maybe-worthwhile skill when the entire system comes crashing down.


Good Morning Judge, indeed.