Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Have I ever talked about my educational background?  I have what may be called a checkered past, maybe…..(scenes from a zombie’s school background):

  • I never passed an art or industrial arts class with anything less than an A
  • I took 4 1/2 years of math in high school.
  • I only passed college chemistry because I rode the coattails of a guy in the dorm room next to mine.
  • I took way more English than I ever needed in both high school and college, including a literature course in science fiction.
  • I had to request an academic probation in college rather than just abrupt dismissal.
  • In high school, my counselor looked at my transcript and was completely confuzzled, throwing his hands up.  I told him I was already working as a professional draftsman in a local engineering firm, so he said “sounds good to me!” and threw me out.
  • My father insisted I go to college (mainly due to the fact that he declined an opportunity to go himself because of a local antipathy to college boys) and I have thanked him for it ever since, believe me…
  • Because I didn’t plan on going to college, I hadn’t done the preparatory research, taken the good tests, or made applications.  So it was a matter of which colleges had majors that seemed like a good fit, had entry requirements I could meet, and available space (and also, which ones were out of town, so I could move the hell out).  And at that point, Wisconsin still believed in the value of affordable State colleges, so there was one or two that fit that definition (this becomes important almost immediately).
  • After all that, I graduated from SARUP undergrad and grad school, with two separate special studios at the high level of Master’s.
  • I have been invited back to the school as a participant in design efforts, student reviews, and special presentations.

Land Grant Colleges are an important and amazing idea in the history of our country.  They provided high level educational opportunities to people from moderate means across the country, and most of them, especially the University of Wisconsin (which was further supported by the incorporation of the Wisconsin Idea, which pledged the use of the resources of the college campuses to further and develop ideas in support of the public good. In recent years, the Dean of the Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning has been exemplary in using the talent in his school to foster free exchange of fresh ideas and progressive ideas.  It is no random happenstance that since he took Deanership, we have seen Milwaukee out perform the economic development of every other area in Wisconsin, and we have seen things like expansion of public transit, improvement of sustainability, development of spectacular puck amenities like the Children’s Museum, the Calatrava museum addition, expansion of Summerfest, continued development of the Riverwalk, making Milwaukee one of the best bicycle cities in the Midwest, and on and on.

So I find this a bit personal.

Turdwaffle , following on his ALEC-ordered attack on unions with Act 10, followed up by trying to avoid the huge public outcry and do this on the down low:  removing mentions of the Wisconsin Idea from his budget;  obviously the first step to removing it from all public documentation altogether.  This was in 2015.  It was of course, done, because he has a compliant Republican Lege, who fall in line like a bunch of big, stupid dominoes.

So now, Our Governor Fucknuckle has decided that the best thing for one of the highest regarded research and publicly oriented college system in the country now needs to be more oriented toward making it a fancy-pants technical school providing drink workers for the rich and wealthy.

Oh, am I being hyperbolic?  Here:

Walker wants UW campuses to compete for $42.5 million in new funding based on graduation rates, average time to degree, percentage of graduates who get jobs, and how many of them work in high-demand fields in Wisconsin, among other measures.

So these colleges, acclaimed worldwide and also offering amazing opportunities to people who might not otherwise have them, now have to go cutthroat about how many of their students get placed with work farms that are acceptable to the Wisconsin Government Corporate Masters.

So yeah, I feel this is a bit personal.  The existence of the UW system allowed me to go to college in a way that was not high-stress and was still access to an amazing education that opened up my fucking world.  And Turdwaffle says “let’s try to fuck this over!” because he is a dim, small-minded, Republican knee-walking shit-sniffing obsequious complete fucknuckle.

It’s not a Friday, but here you go:

 

Go Fuck Yourself Also Too

Hell No, I ain’t happy

Posted: February 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Hey, how y’all doing?  I say y’all because I saw the Clash of the South, Drive By Truckers, with wife sublime and still hain’t settled down. The hit the stage under the strains of “Know Your Rights”, the keyboardist had a Black Lives Matter banner, and the spent time talking about the stupid airport bans and cheered on JOHN FUCKING LEWIS…this is rebel music, baby, this is the south finding a real voice.

BUT.  Let’s also talk about stupid southern shit. Someone yelled out “Freebird” and the band said FUCK YOU and then included an additional fuck you in the lyrics to the next song.  AND.  No one on stage was wearing a stupid cowboy hat, and nobody had confederate flags.

You know who NEVER avoids the opportunity to wear a big stupid cowboy hat?  You know who loves to ride a horse in the streets that do not really accommodate horses anymore?  You know who likes to have fun decorating his semi-fascist uniform with medals he invents?

Yeah, it is Fox News favorite wingnut black guy insane sheriff who was elected by white suburbanites, since he was one of the ‘Good ones’.  Yes, it is Sheriff David Clarke, poster boy for the beard color product.

Here’s the thing about Clarke.  He rode into office on the Scott Walker Racism wave, and he was One Of The Good Ones.  He was installed as Milwaukee County Sheriff, which is a very limited office.  That was not to his aggrandized opinion of himself, so he started to decorate his uniform with ridiculous and made-up medals and awards.  And then he started coloring his stupid wingnut face mullet….

Let’s keep in view that as County Sheriff in Milwaukee, he has not so many duties.  He has to oversee the freeways in the county, and the jail that puts people on ice until they get sent otherwhere.  That’s pretty much it.

So, yea, cutting to the chase. The overseeing of this asshole, and at least four people died included a fetus ARE YOU CLAIMING TO BE PRO LIFE, SHITWIPE?

Since then, he has not only used county officers to harass a person that just give him MILD shit about wearing Cowboys gear on a Packers flight, but ASSHOLE followed up with threats on official venues.

So, when fuckface is not spending time on Fox News talking shit about black people, and being bitter that his angling for being the token black lunatic on the Trump Circus Car, he has been watching that even the Walker-sucking Journal-Sentinel has said his polling for re-election is Not Likely, against any person that does not have felony convictions.

So, he decides that his only Wingnut Gravy Train os to move up to the fucking Congress.  And so, since Plastic Man RonJon is an automatically reliable vote for every horrible thing the Republicans ever dream, he imagines the only target is Tammy Baldwin.  And they launch the run by having third party insane fuckers attack her for her sexuality.

Let me tell you how stupid that is.  Her prior elections,lacal and statewide, she came out and has been openly gay for years.  She has been so effective as a legislator, that my parents, who prior to their deaths were vocally not comfortable with gays or minorities, still voted for her in state offices and national offices.

Stupid ass Fake Cowboy Clarke is an idiot and a hateful bully. He is trying to build off of Fox Not-news because his job is otherwise gong to result in his ouster.  But he is trying to move into a senate spot because he’s hoping racists in the out-state Wisconsin will vote for a black racist in favor of a white woman lesbian with a great track record.

Perhaps he can get a job as a cowboy.  He has the hats.

 

Lovers In A Dangerous Time

Posted: January 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

I grew up as stupid suburban white boy metal head.  But then, since we were adjacent to a city with a good radio station, I learned about punk and new wave, and I learned the lessons well, yes I did.

And I took those lessons to land-grant college, and immediately alienated my roommate roulette person, but found some people in an adjacent dorm. I continued to learn about punk an new wave, yes I did.

I lived in a house that was once of the only places that played the first REM album.

Later, I moved to Milwaukee and tried to culminate my professional degree. But in that time, I worked much with local music people and worked with Bruce Cockburn on one of his tours, and he was so nice to me, as I was just holding a ladder while they sound checked.  What a lovely guy.

I am not sure how much music can make a difference, in the coming hard rain.

But I know a couple of things:  the fascists have no music.

And they have no artists.

And if you don’t have music, and you don’t have artists, then honey YOU DON’T HAVE PEOPLE

 

 

It’s a World of Love and Hope

Posted: January 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

OK, I know that sounds all wrong for the Empire.  I would add a “fuck” in there, but it would make the joke not work.

Extra introduction.  I left a teaser back in the last Year of Hell, and this is just easing me in.  My music posts have always been easier than my political posts; talking about things I love is much easier than about the things I hate; unless I just went on an unrestrained primal scream of FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK…. (yes, I realize, I did that as well).  But I recently had a reason to dredge up the beginnings of the proto-Empire, and it was the constant horror of the Cheney Regime that made me start doing that. So I am thinking that  I will likely go to rage, horror, mockery and incessant zombie apocalypse jokes in Our New Reich (I promise to never refer to Orange Hands MicroPenis as “President”).  Heavy on the mockery, because that is what gets him the most irate.  In the interim, I am easing myself, and you, Dear Reader(s) into that with a music post…..

Here’s the source, a new album by Chicago Musician’s Band, The Flat Five.

Word of warning, it is music that will make you wonder if I took a blow to the head, as it is jazzy, poppy, unabashedly retro, and pretty much nothing that I normally like.  ZOMBIES, THEY DO THE UNEXPECTED!

But really, the band – Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough, Alex Hall, Kelly Hogan, and Nora O’Connor- do hit me in two of my sweet spots; first, a bunch of musicians who truly love to do what they do, and second, an amazingly adept mix of stupendously talented singers making your hindbrain tingle with their harmonies.  They are a band that has been performing around Chicago for ten years (!) and this was the first time they played Milwaukee….

Here’s the crazy shit. I had been aware of Kelly Hogan for a bit of time, and when she did a show in the Pabst Theater (bar) Good Friend Rory and I went , and it was SUBLIME indeed, friends and guinea pigs, yes it was…and in the after, going to the merch table, I realized I had seen this amazing talent once before:

just out of college, in my first professional job I was delegated with one other guy to go down to Atlanta to a CAD convention try and find the best system for our operation.  And after a day or so of doing so, we went to what looked like a coolish pub to get food and drink.  And a band started playing, The Jody Grind.  I loved it.

And I recognized that she was the amazing vocalist that sang for that band, and she remembered the bar we saw her in.  She is a flat-out fucking ASTONISHING vocalist, and she is currently singing with the Decemberists, Alejandro Escovedo, and Mavis Staples.   But really, that is the story of all of the people in this band; they are the kind of band that other musicians say is the best band they’ve seen.  And THAT, is, of course, my ultimate sweet spot.

So yeah, Wife Sublime and I braved the fucking cold to see them on Saturday (not far from ZombieHome and directly next to one of my projects, yea!) with about 150 other people (in a venue that had insufficient toilets for that number of people, LOL, that’s what I notice)

The sticker on the band’s vinyl says “Chicago’s underground twisted sunshine pop vocal band” and while that sounds like adjective mania, it’s not bad.  The played all the songs off their new album, which are mostly jazz-pop (play them quiet, and they are easy listening) but an amazing array of covers; ranging from Beach Boys, to Phish, to Nilsson, to somebody they found on YouTube.

The thing about this band is that as a group and as individuals, they are all embarrassingly talented. they trade instruments, while Hogan mocks their inability to get their shit together.

And at one point, Hogan admits they have been playing together for ten years (What the FUCK Chicago; are you keeping them secret, as bitter retribution for your sports teams?  And now, with a World Series, you let us see them? I will need to see documents) and that a few years back, they decided they wanted to focus on, more positive, sunnier songs.  DAMN!  There goes my hope of seeing a stupendous version of the Magnetic Fields’ genius song “Papa Was A Rodeo”….

One of my favorite songs of all….

So anyway, here’s the thing.  The band admits this is dark times.  We all do.  And there is nothing wrong with that, recognition of Darkness On The Edge Of Town is an important element in being able to approach and deal with that fucking orange darkness… but I know my readers are not hopeless. Not lacking hope, I mean.  And even if you are feeling a bit down, then this band and their album is like a sweet sunshine ray of hope from the 60s and 70s to help you out.  The band, themselves, who have individually and together explored all kinds of musical genres (including gospel music that doesn’t mention Jesus. “short set list”, they say) said that they made the conscious decision a few years back to concentrate on music that has positive connotations.  Without being overly chirpy, you understand…

As you all two may know, I say that I think music is one of the most noble ways of making people better.  And after watching the Flat Five assault me with positive pop perfection, am I better?  Well, fuck me I am more cheerful and I treat that gassy orange dog better.  YOU TELL ME

The band played two sets, and Hogan said that as the daughter of a police officer, she knew she was playing with fire by playing overtime, but they felt like they had ignored Milwaukee for far too long (and you HAVE, Hogan, you have).  To our pleased amusement, Wife Sublime recognized one of the songs (Bird of Paradise) although she mis-identified it as a Phish song although it is a Joe South song (THANKS STEVE JOBS).

It was a helluva night, yes it was.  The band was as good as anyone could ever expect, and better than they have any right to be.  The songs were fun and varied and rendered with amazing versatility by wonderfully talented musicians.

And to circle back, they help me find a focus for the Empire going forward. As I have hinted, I feel like I have to re-invigorate the shit out of this damn ugly blog, and was looking at the worst days of horror, rage, spit, and breaking shit but I started to realize something…. the thing that aggravates the Idiot Bigot Brigades the most, is the fact that not only do we not knuckle under to their Reich, but we continue to NOT take them seriously, we continue to fight for our goals and our ideals, and continue to argue that they are objectively wrong.  They feel like they won, so we should perforce be obligated to acknowledge they are right.

Well, they’re not.  

THEY REMAIN WRONG.  THERE ARE FOUR FUCKING LIGHTS!

But what they hate most of all, we continue to tilt against the Knights of Ni, laughing at their idiocy and mocking their shrubberies.  We continue to laugh at their ridiculous concepts, their laughable logic and imaginary science, their small hands and tiny weeping swords.  As Molly Ivins, a liberal in Texas, said, this is a fight that you can only take on with laughter in your heart.  We will lose battles.  Things will get horrible.  And I am not saying we belittle the losses of other Americans we care about who will be damaged and, yes, killed.  But, like vampires who shrivel in daylight, the Right is allergic to two things:  Facts.  And humor.

So, going forward, while I will not lie to anyone by saying that the Empire will not devolve into anger, Fuck You Fridays, and screaming Diz-Buster fits of pinwheel rage; I think my major effort will be to take Molly’s lead (Chthulhu grant me the blessing of a modicum of her talent) to make mock of them.  Make much mock of them.  Mock mock mock.

Jebus.  Lucifer, the Orange, Leaky Ass Dog Who Has Been Less Leaky Ass Of Late, is now leaky ass again.  I’m not looking forward to getting older….

The Shape Of Things To Come

Posted: November 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

Watch this space….

I brung this over from Facebook, because it became apparent that I would go long on this.

http://web.musicaficionado.com/main.html#!/article/The_Classic_Rock_Band_Current_Lineup_Scorecard_by_craigrosen?campaign=fbbandscpc

This is an interesting digression. Because, as we all get older, the people in the bands we love tend to die. Now, loss of Kurt Cobain obviously meant Nirvana was no more, as he was singer and principal songwriter. But for a band like the Mekons, every song is credited to Mekons and they are legendary for mixing and matching band members not only over time, but over a year. (They leave themselves an out, in that all people who have performed with the band are Mekons or Deputy Mekons, forever and anon and, as Jon Langford once said “The only way out of the Mekons is in a box”. Maybe not so funny now that people are actually taking that exit…)

But here’s where it gets to the nub for me. Because, you know, before you knew the band they changed members. Pretty regularly. It is, in fact, very rare that bands maintain any kind of band roster, even after they get a recording contract. For instance, many people will not know that Steve Perry was not an original member of Journey.

Also, as far as I am concerned, kicking Dennis DeYoung out of Styx was simply a reasonable use of a fortuitous occurrence to being able to play on stage without wearing robot costumes EVER AGAIN….

The examples are Numerous.  The Who went on without Keith Moon, but some would say they were never the same.  I have personally seen Springsteen with and without the Big Man, and the show without was better (although not because of the change, admittedly).  REM soldiered on without Bill Berry, but the spark seemed missing.  Pink Floyd are a completely singular case, as they seem to need to discard primary members on a regular basis…

Elvis Costello and ELO had a singular driving personality, but they benefitted from band consistency, but it did not turn out to be crucial  Red Hot Chili Peppers had to deal with rotating drug use/ guitarist flaking, but they seemed to go on just fine; the time I saw them was post-Hillel and they were pretty fucking awesome.  The Pretenders stopped pretending and just have a band backing up Chrissie at this point.

The English Beat are one of the worst, with Dave Wakeling leading a band of much younger people through the songs he wrote and sang when he was much younger.  But you know what?  The songs are the same….

And that, to me is where the dividing line happens. When the band has new members, do they move on and try to move into new music, or is it a simple desire to recapture past glory and serve the nostalgic impulses that people will pay money for?  Because, like I said, bands change members all the time while they are building audience and writing material.  So, after they get famous, what is wrong with them continuing to do so?  Except, of course, for the fact than no one comes out to their shows to hear new music.  Mick Jagger once said in an interview that “No one wants to hear your new songs”.  To which, David Bowie SHOULD have replied “Well, maybe they don’t want to hear YOUR new songs”…

A long-lived band has that tough row to hoe.  I can see how it is much easier to just go into the nostalgia circuit (hell, I just went to see X play from their first four albums.  I saw Matthew Sweet do Girlfriend.  I am Guilty).

So I am going to talk about two bands I am most familiar with and you know who I am going to say. Blue Oyster Cult and Mekons.  Come on, you knew where this was going.

Blue Oyster Cult was existing in a couple of different incarnation in the late 60s and early 70s, mainly revolving around Buck Dharma and the Bouchard brothers. Their early stuff was more psychedelia filtered through garage rock; but adding Menacing presence (although oddly short) Eric Bloom and sharing songwriting with Sandy Pearlman took them in a darker tone.  Yes, they spent the 70s with a single lineup.  But when band members started dying, Bloom and Buck kept on, tapping some great musicians and continuing to record albums resulting in great songs that you never heard like “Dance On Stilts” and “Harvest Moon” which should have been hits.

Look, here is a timeline of band members:

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That is what every band’s life looks like.

At this point I will not even get into the Mekons band life, which is twisted even by that standard.  So here’s what I have to say.

I really respect bands who continue to work past their supposed “high point” by working hard and writing new music (Hello, Cheap Trick!”)  and I am the guy out there cheering for your new songs, because new music is the fuel I use to keep moving….

But there are bands that helped make us the people we are today, and sometimes the best you can do is to see them in some weird modern incarnation.  I mean, for me, seeing the Beach Boys without Brian Wilson would be meaningless, but many people like it.  Of course, none of them want to hear any new songs, but want to hear a greatest hits compilation .  This is where I should badmouth them, but I saw the Police reunion tour (and Elvis Costello, opening, with vital new music, was SO MUCH BETTER but that is me).

I have seen Styx several times, and I think they are better without Dennis DeYoung.  I saw Blue Oyster Cult in various levels of original members, and with one notable exception, they were always great. I have never seen Cheap Trick in a any way not be fantastic. But there are tribute bands, that are working the circuit to compensate for bands that no longer perform.  I have been a great fan of Chicago’s Think Floyd, who I have seen prefer an entire Wall show.  Toronto’s Musical Box performs full theatrical performances of Genesis, true to their performances in the 70s including costumes. I have seen them do Lamb Lies Down on Broadway three times.

Sometimes bands pull it together for a cash-in.  The Violent Femmes are way guilty of this (although once they did it in a Tsunami benefit; for which we have a signed band-aid poster).

Because here: it’s about the music.  Its about what it means to you.  The music happened, once upon a time.  Sometimes, people perform it for you.  Some of them may have been part of the original band, some may have not.  If you love classical music, no one involved is still alive… But enjoy it or not, based on the skill of the musicians involved….and then, at the end, say wasn’t that the best?

Across The Universe

Posted: August 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

It may come as little surprise to you folks that I was a bitt odd as a teenager.  I loved heavy metal, but I was also bookish.  I was heavily involved in arts classes, science classes, English classes, and shop classes.  My assigned counselor took a look at my class history, and that I had As and Bs in everything besides athletics, and threw up his hands.  When I told him I already had and after school job in an engineering firms’s drafting department, he said “sounds good to me!”  Thanks, guy!

The company was kind of hi-tech for the time, creating scientific and medical scanners.  The drafting department was one of the first to incorporate serious CAD equipment, to the extent they had to have a climate controlled room for the mainframe.  the rest, of course was done by hand; some by pencil and some using line-tape on mylar.

Although I only spent a few hours  daily, I soon proved my worth and moved up from basic filing and such and started doing real drafting remarks and such.  I was pretty good at it and it was a damn sight better than other work I had available.  One of the other draftsman, Kell, took me under his wing or maybe he just liked that I could be effective; although older than me, we became friends.  At a company picnic, when another employee got me shit-faced on Yukon Jack, Kell made sure I got home safe.

Kell was a great guy.  His mother had been treated wth Thalidomide when she was pregnant, and he was ‘fortunate’ in that he was ‘only’ born with the lack of two vertebrae in his neck.  he had to turn his upper body to look at you….but he was an awesome athlete and even made the Pittsburgh farm team.  But he decided he needed a career.

He introduced me to lots of great music.  Genesis.  And he also introduced me to good pot.  And he introduced me to 10cc….

I linked on Facebook to a This Day In Music post. And I have been on a 10CC kick since….may not stop for a few days.  If any blog readers would actually stop by our party, it might be a 10cc/related loudness….

I don’t know what it was that clicked for me with this band.  Previously, I was much into metal and loud rock.  They are hardly that.  They have an amazing background in music, and also were in school for graphic arts (like the Mekons!).

They are gifted songwriters, as you are likely to know because you all have heard their hits.  But they are also sarcastic and sardonic and snarky.  Kell introduced me  by playing “Good Morning Judge”.  “I’m Not In Love” is a vicious break up sex song.  FFS they wrote a prison riot song called “Rubber Bullets”.  AND IT WAS A FUCKING HIT.

“The Dean And I” was about screwing the Dean’s daughter. “Clockwork Creep” was about a guy who planted  a bomb.

They are fucking hilarious, and they are such great musicians.  They once did a prog rock masterpiece called “Feel The Benefit” and made it fucking FUNNY….

And on top of that, they invented a guitar effect, called the Gizmo, and used it to create one of the most intense prog-rock-concept album masterpieces called Consequences.  I actually have the full release vinyl version of it. Smut Clyde can be jealous…

At the time I was a huge Queen fan, so I was very open to varied musical influences and histrionic effects.

I will say, however that 10cc had a huge impact on me and I still love them and all the musicians who have been part of them.

And their cover of this song made me buy the Beatles album, but fuck you, I think this is the right way to play this song…