Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Saturday, March 20, 2010

HCR Buzzerbeater

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that health care reform will pass tomorrow (Sunday). I suspect that Pelosi has some votes in her pocket, a decent # of reps who don't want to put themselves in peril--and so have yet to declare--but will if called. They will get called. The tea-party bigots who shouted "nigger" at John Lewis and "faggot" at Barney Frank today will lose. America will win.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Nothing in Weeks

I know. I am an awful blogger.

Friday, March 05, 2010

2009 Musical Review

Last year was a monumental year in our clan. We lost my grandmother, the original Tenacious McD, and then welcomed young Bay to help carry on her legacy of spunk (if hopefully not her politics, which was heavy on Rush and Glenn; she considered most of her loved ones "socialists," although only one actually was, her brother, who despite being crippled somehow garnered more than 12% of the vote for US Senate in VA in 1946, almost beating the Republican for second place!). I spent much of the year trying to keep up with two girls at home while parrying turf battles at work. So I listened to less music than usual, and what I listened to was generally old school. Not that I've ever had very cutting edge tastes, but I've definitely steered to comfort zone music this year. Overall, I'd say it was a mediocre year. There was nothing that really blew me away, although that may be more because of me than the tunes. So, without further ado, here's my top 10. As always, the rankings are metaphysically perfect.

1) Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, The Live Anthology. OK, this is cheating, since it's a four CD live set with hits, covers, and hidden gems from four decades. Still great, especially CD #4, which includes brilliant takes on "Square One," "Crawling Back To You," "Southern Accents," "The Waiting," and "I Won't Back Down" plus a few mega-hits that need no plug here. If there's ever been a better Dixie garage band I don't know who it is.

2) Wilco, Wilco: the Album

3) the Avett Brothers, I and Love and You. Did you ever wonder what a Billy Joel and Pure Prairie League mash up would sound like? Me neither. Harmony drenched, alt country piano ballads with mad hooks that stick in your brain for days. My only "new" band discovery this year.

4) Monsters of Folk, Monsters of Folk. Technically, not a new band but a "supergroup," merging Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, and M. Ward. Everyone calls them the indie rock Traveling Wilburys. Who am I to argue?

5) U2, No Line on the Horizon

6) Elvis Costello, Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane. Not necessarily one of his classics, yet still quite good: his Nashville bluegrass record. "Sulphur to Sugarcane" is one of his funniest and filthiest tunes ever.

7) Levon Helm, Electric Dirt. Oldest guy on an old guy list. Formerly of the Band. Lang loves dancing around the house to his cover of the Dead's "Tennessee Jed."

8) M. Ward, Hold Time. They used him in a Budweiser ad. Cool. Odd.

9) Neko Case, Middle Cyclone. Not as good as Fox Confessor, but that's a high bar.

10) Dave Rawlings Machine, Friend of a Friend.

Honorable mentions this year to Bruce and to Phoenix. The latter put out a great record that's just not my natural brew: happy techno-punk. Here's my quibble with Springsteen's record, which is eminently enjoyable, if not quite the #2 record of the year Rolling Stone named it to be. The title, Working on a Dream, sucks. You don't "work" on "dreams." They come over you, envelop you, consume you on an unconscious level, etc. You do not get out your tools and manufacture them. I know, he's using "dream" in the sense of a "project" based in hope and aspiration, not the sleep variety. It's still a mismatched gerund phrase.

So that's 2009. Now I'm well into 2010. Listening to the new Spoon record a lot, and it's pretty good, but they always are. "Trouble Come Running," and "Writing in Reverse" are stand outs. I'm also hoping that this year is calmer than the last, although our house move seems to be working against that. Also, a big shout out to old friend, groomsman, and DKos-blogger extraordinaire, CSK, who has just awaken from two and a half weeks of medically induced coma. Sounds like all signs are positive. Welcome back, bro.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Question of the Week

I guess Mitt Romney has a book coming out today. That raises an interesting question: Who reads books written by politicians? And by "written by," I mean, purportedly written by politicians. And I mean books "written" as campaign documents, not books written for other purposes. Thus, Dreams from My Father doesn't count, but Audacity of Hope does. (Btw, I haven't read either.)

So the question is, have you ever read a (campaign) book written by a pol (and ghost writer)? If so, what?

Monday, March 01, 2010

They're Re-Making The Rockford Files?

Link. Impossible. Not only is the show essentially 42ish minutes of James Garner's persona, with some plot, in most episodes . . . but have you watched the show in the last 20 years? I have. On Retro teevee. And let me say, that this show ran for four (?) seasons in the Carter era . . . tells me that perhaps there was an American decline.

That's not to say that the show itself wasn't GREAT. But Jim Rockford is a sad sack PI, with friends like a disbarred lawyer, handling low level cases. The man lives in a trailer, for God's sake. (A trailer on the beach, so not too bad, I guess.)

It's telling that, moving into the Reagan "resurgent" period of American life, we get a new show by the same producer--Magnum P.I. Now that is morning in America, at least, Hawaii. If that still counts as America.

No More American Decline

I am too lazy to link to David Ignatius's ludicrous column in yesterday's WaPo, but let me just say that if I ran an op-ed page, I'd have a "no more American decline" rule. Here's worst paragraph:

It's usually a mistake to bet against America, as financier Warren Buffet likes to say, given our flexible economy and adaptive political system. The American system seemed at an impasse in the years before the Civil War, and again during the presidency of Herbert Hoover, and once again during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. But it survived these crises and went on to prosper as never before.

Now, I would hesitate to say that we currently have "an adaptive political system." Sure, it adapts quite well to universal, suspicion-less surveillance by the NSA, and to justification of torture, but the current "impasses" over health care, climate, the deficit, etc., suggests some limits.

But the weird thing to me is to compare three "crises"--Ignatius's word! The years before the Civil War, maybe an impasse, but something more serious. The Great Depression, not really an impasse. Hoover didn't propose sweeping changes, his party lost the midterms and then he wasn't reelected. That's how the system is supposed to work, actually.

And . . . I have no idea how 1977-1981 is on the same level, in anyone's mind, with 1856-1860, or 1929-1933, as a time of national crisis. Sure there was disco, but that problem was largely solved. Kidding aside, the talk of American decline then was largely a product of the right-wing noise machine, a focus on looming Soviet military superiority--how did that work out? The economy was bad, but in many respects it's worse now. I just don't get it.

So Civil War, Great Depression, and Jimmy Carter--if we survived those "crises," I guess we can get through this!

Keep in mind that Ignatius is one of the least bad Post columnists.