Tuesday, May 29, 2012

By The Books

One of my favorite 1960s sitcoms was GET SMART---a comedy along the line of the "James Bond infuence" type of TV shows.
However, unlike THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. or I SPY or THE WILD WILD WEST it was a parody of the genre.

Among my favorite segments among the many episodes are those involving "the code of silence", a huge plastic dome which was lowered onto Max and the Chief (of C.O.N.T.R.O.L., the spy agency they worked for) whenever they needed to discuss anything either "top secret" or of a "sensitive" nature, which had the worst acoustics imaginable---no-one could hardly hear what the other was saying and they wound up shouting everything they were saying at the top of their lungs so the other could hear...defeating the purpose of the cone, naturally.

I remember, in one episode, Max and the Chief had to discuss something of vital importance and Max asks the Chief: "This IS 'top secret' isn't it?" The Chief responds: "Well, yes it is." "Then shouldn't we use 'the cone of silence'?" "Do we really HAVE to?" "You know the rules...reguation #**** states 'When discussing matters that are top secret the cone-of-silence shall always be on'..." "I know all about the rules, Max." "Well, shouldn't we activate it then?" "Max, must you ALWAYS follow the rules?" "It says in the code book, page **, paragraph *: 'All rules must be followed at all times'." "Alright...Agent **" "Yes, chief?" "Activate the 'cone of silence'." "Yes, Chief."

What was most amusing about the "cone of silence" segments was it's subtle underlying bashing of bureaucracism-in-general.  Whether mocking the absolutist "things-can-only-be-done-one-way" stipulations or the "one-size-fits-all" style broad-based definitions so ambiguious they could fit any one of a thousand scenarios or factors.

...And quite fitting as a metaphor for real-life situations they are:
---Like the way MEDICARE and MEDICAID will cover the cost of a lot of major operations, some costing along the lines of $30,000 to $40,000...yet they still refuse to cover the cost of certain dental procedures, like for example: a restorative crown for a tooth on which a root canal was performed which would prevent the now-fragile tooth from fracturing from the pressures of chewing---the cost: $400 to $500.
---And what about the "three strikes and you're out" laws?  Anyone who's been convicted of two felonies or more face a mandatory life sentence if arrested again for any reason.  So, this person gets a traffic ticket and fails to pay it---an arrest warrant is issued for them...they get picked up and jailed...and: VIOLA! life in the penitentiary on account of a $150 fine.  Trash a person's life over $150? ("Max, must you ALWAYS follow the rules?")
---And when filling out forms for subsidized housing they ask all sorts of "one-size-fits-all" type of questions.
Among them: asking about e-mail addresses; cell phone numbers; questions about property investments and certificate-of-deposits and IRAs.
I mean I understand some people who were doing okay in life might suddenly find themselves in dire straights, but still...I'm sure the majority of those in need of "housing assistance", in all probability are those who most likely can't afford such social perks as cell phones and a lot of such people might not even have a computer or any extra money tucked away somewhere.
I mean, isn't the idea of being "hard-up" the notion that there are certain people for whom life didn't turn out "normally" or "properly"?  That most things in their lives usually happened "weird"---and THAT'S why they haven't quite been successful at achieving a lot of the things most people come by easily without half-trying?...and why they also need help with just living as well?

More (Myopic) Musings

Things should only malfunction when they're in the hands of the overprivileged and well-respected...
...NEVER when they're in the hands of the "blameworthy"...
Because the more privileged are the ones who have the right to complain about things and are less likely to be held responsible if something breaks down while they're using it.
If something screws up while in the hands of a "blameworthy" type, the poor sap has to endure the ever-condescending "Well, what did you DO to it?"---like if something messes up when they have their hands on it then somehow they must be responsible for whatever went wrong.
Yes I DO have a hissy-fit when things screw up while I'm using them, if only because I'm so methodical about how I go about doing what I do
...self-concocted procedures and methods I come up with based on ways I've had to figure my way around past disasters and mishaps---methods and procedures I've figured out that work best for me in avoiding further mishaps.
When I'm doing things the way I've "always done them ten-thousand times before without incident" and suddenly things start "going wrong" I have this narcissistic tendency to, sort of, "not blame myself" for whatever happened.
And I don't like it when someone acts like I'm the one with the problem.
I'm like the really cautious driver who always obeys the speed limits, signals when turning or changing lanes, yields to pedestrians in the crosswalks, never attempts to multitask when driving (i.e.: cell phones; blaring stereos; texting)
---but the first time he has to swerve to avoid getting hit by a reckless driver and winds up hitting a telephone pole all the police can think to do is write him a citation for "reckless driving".
I know when I'm being sabotaged, even if it's not by somebody but by fate itself.
And I DON'T appreciate harsh judgment by those who "don't want to understand", whom I probably would have asked for help if not for the fact that they're so standoffish and never around when you need their "services".

When mentioning my perception of the what responsibility is, I should state that I think everything is akin to taking care of a small child or having a pet
...even if you're single and never had children or owned any pets.
Take, for example, living on your own and having to fix your own meals:
Well, that also involves cleaning up and keeping your kitchen in order...
...if you don't wash your dishes, cups, glasses, pots and pans after using them then you won't have anything to cook your next meal in or to eat or drink out of next time you're hungry.
Everything has to be "nurtured" and constantly "tended to"...
...your own body...when you shave or cut your finger nails, toe nails, or hair, it's not indefinite---they never "stay trimmed"...you're always going to have to repeatedly retrim and reshave because nails and hair keep growing back.
Like with personal hygiene: you have to shower and shampoo over and over again constantly, because one's body will just not stay clean and perspiration-free---you're always sweating and being exposed to dirt and filth, even in your home environment.  And oral hygiene---same thing.  You floss and brush your teeth---only to have-to-eat again a few hours later...then repeat.
Even home appliances---you have to press the right buttons and switches, don't expose to the wrong elements or handle-too-roughly (no matter how stressed-out you are).  You have to be gentle with gadgets just like they were little babies.
Everything needs some kind of oversight and secondary stewardship from their owners (or from whoever's in charge of them).
You have be there to guide them and nurture them and to keep them from "going astray"...same as one does for a child or a pet (appliances and gadgets DO malfunction, you know---and some DO have their glitches).
That, essentially, is the gist of the concept of "responsibility".
That's really what it is in a nutshell.

I make no secret of the fact that I'm a bit dubious of authority figures.
Not that I'd ever advocate anarchy or lawlessness by any means
...but sometimes it seems we're merely settling for "the lesser of the two evils".
The problem is with my impression of most authority figures:  they remind me of all the mean teachers I had in grade school. The ones who always mocked and humiliated the "slow learners" and were Draconian towards those with behavioral problems and favored certain students over everyone else.
And a lot of the overprivileged "social leeches" and "career victims" who are always leaning on the police to solve even the most benign interpersonal conflicts remind me of the "goody-goody" teacher's pets as well as the meddling "tattle-tales" who were always trying to catch as many of their "fellow students" in compromising situations as they could simply so they could squeal on them and get them in trouble for the purpose of reveling in their humiliation and misery---all while maintaining a demeanor of "honorability".
It's the idea of grown adults still carrying on similar charades and engaging in the same type of perverse social politics while still presenting themselves as being rational and legitimate that bothers me, I guess.

Memorial Day

...the day to honor all foot soldiers who had to endure serving on the front lines, being shot at and shelled incessantly with murderous intent by total strangers
...who had to witness the gruesome demises of intimate buddies and new-found friends
...with their own lives on-the-line constantly
...only to end up being pissed-off at finding out later that a lot of the medals and ribbons they received for their "valor" were also awarded to non-combatants who were stationed far away from the areas of conflict---or even "stateside".

It makes sense...one person makes a supreme sacrifice---a sacrifice costing them at least their sanity if not a limb or two...
they deserve proper recognition
...But they later find out someone else receives the same type of "recognition" as some kind of an ego booster to them feel somehow "on the same level" as this person who made extreme sacrifices when what that other person contributed was nowhere near the same as what this person had to put out and endure.

Sort of along the same line as the modern-day business climate of the past few years.
You have all these major companies and those who own and run them making millions upon millions of dollars
...yet they're laying off knowledgable and talented employees and "downsizing" their operations.
In short, these companies and their owners are doing nothing to enhance or contribute anything to society or to the world itself, yet they're still being rewarded and adulated by their respective governments via tax breaks (and various other sorts of "special favors").

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Mark Of The Beast

"...and no person shall be able to buy or sell without the 'mark'...on the palm of their hands or on their foreheads..."

Ideal fodder for the fanatical or obsessive religious zealots.  All convinced that it pertains to the "end times" (or something along that line).

Actually the "beast" is a metaphor for civilization and, in particular, the resulting societies that develop from it as well as the social, political, and commercial patterns associated with them.

All societies are "beasts" in that they are man-made Frankensteins, and, although not actually alive, they still have namesakes, personalities and personnas as if they were living entities, with a will of their own---"fed" and kept "alive" by their images and namesakes and cultural "personalities" as well as whatever reputations they attain via their social and political climates.

A society is LIKE a living entity in spite of being an artificial creation concocted by the minds of men.
A society "lives" as a result of the imagerisms it projects about itself.

And the part about "buy-and-sell"?
...the "mark" referred to is that of whatever designated mode-of-exchange is authorized by whatever government one happens to be living in/under.
For the fur traders it was the quality of the animal skins they were exchanging for essentials and amusements. The buyer would hold the fur in "the palm of his hand" and peruse it with his eyes---which are located in "one's forehead" to determine if what was being offered to them was worthy of exchange.
Later it was gold and silver coins ingrained with the image of either a picture of the leader (or one of the former leaders) of said country, or of some emblem pertaining to said culture...later this would also include paper currency as well.

These days we're REALLY into "the mark of the Beast(s)" with our photo I.D.s, credit cards, debit cards, and also the miniature electronic gadgets like cellphones, I-phones, digital cameras and such.

So this "mark of the Beast" is actually a metaphor for the necessity of any highly-sophisticated society to have a regimented system of commercial, political, and social exchange---often using symbols and designated mass-produced objects as authorized means of either identification of persons or institutions, or as legally recognized objects of commercial exchange which in turn can also be exchnged by those who recieve them for whatever they so need or desire.

So-o-o-o...those who are concerned with "the coming of the 'Beast'"---they're already 6000-plus years too late.
"Beasts" have been coming and going repeatedly for centuries and millenniums now---ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, Crete, the ancient Incas, etc.
...and all---as well as the current-day "Beasts"---continue to have the same "mark" as well to this day.

It's probably just a matter of time before we'll finally do away with all the photo I.D.s, the currency, the credit cards, the social security cards and all other forms of documentations
...and transact everything via fingerprint identification or handprints---or even lasers which "read" the individual patterns of the eyes of any one given person.

With such a system things like identity theft would be rendered impossible and security clearances would be rendered unnecessary as all information on any one person would be brought up via this bio-pattern recognition.
Bank transactions would be a "no-brainer".  You alone would be the only person who could access your own account(s) (with the exception of any officially authorized "second party" also given access to your account(s)) without the fear of having any of your financial assets being "hi-jacked" by unauthorized parties impersonating you---since only YOUR biological patterns would be recognized as those matching your assigned number(s).
Of course this would include all of your official records on all things---including medical records, police records (yes, those too), your work history and income history.  The whole works.

"Wouldn't that be a violation of individual privacy?" you ask.
Probably...but aren't we forced to divulge a lot of our "personal" information already ANYWAY?
...like when we're looking for employment or a place to live, be it another apartment or taking out a home loan.
...or if we need certain social services: unemployment, disability insurance, or any of the other public assistance services.
...or looking to finance a business or take out a bank loan.
Do those people or do they not ask for proof of not only your personal identity, but also of your current situations---financial, domestic, social, professional/occupational...as well as proof of your credibility?
Doesn't it involve submitting a lot of documents pertaining to your personal life.
Not to mention authorizing any of these people to "check on you"---including checking for police records, verifying your educational status, your professional standing, your financial assets.  Validating whatever you present to them as being legitimate.

Of course you and I are entitled to refuse to submit this information to these people on the grounds of "protecting our privacy" and of our right to guard ourselves against any kind of self-incrimination
...and of course they, in turn, are entitled to refuse to allow us to do business with their establishments, firms, and services.

The way I look at it, since you and I are ALREADY sort of "extorted" into revealing critical aspects of the social, business, academic, and legal parts of our lives anyway they might as well initiate some kind of foolproof system of interpersonal interactive functionalitism to make doing what we're already doing anyway that much easier.

Am I "the Devil's advocate" for offering my ideas on how to better enhance "the Beast" or what?


Who can forget the "easy-listening" FM radio stations of the past?
...the format existed since the beginning of radio itself all the way until the late 1980s---or even the early 1990s.

A lot of people made fun of this format, but actually it was quite a barometer of "credibility" in terms of pop music success.
The very existence of an orchestrated instrumental version of a song indicated that particular song "made the grade"---that it was "worthy enough of being legitimately recognized as a credible song classic"
...in other words, while a lot of singers, groups, and song-writers might of taken offense at hearing an orchestrated instrumental version of one of their songs---it could also be taken to be quite a compliment that one's song or "hit record" would be worthy enough to receive recognition by those of the "stuffy-shirt elitist" ilk, as while this pop-music sub-genre was still in it's heyday of popularity it was clearly the bastion of "the well-off and over-privileged"
...hence, tantamount to "being accepted by those considered to be 'important'".

I remember, back in the early '80s, hearing an instrumental version of the Queen song WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS and being amused at the idea that even "glam-rockers" like them could still have a song that would "make-the-grade" enough among the "stuffy-shirt" crowd that they would consider doing an orchestrated version of it.

You have to remember most "easy-listening" style instrumentals are versions of "old standards" from the '30s, 40s, 50s, 60s---etc.
...so it DOES "make-a-statement" any time something from the '70s, 80s, and 90s get "remade" in this style.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The grim reaper strikes again...

The grim reaper's celebritial obsession continues...

Robin Gibb...dead.  This time it's not just another coma.  He's gone for good now...leaving behind quite a legacy, though.

Peter Jones, drummer for the 1980s group Crowded House.  Dead from brain cancer at 45.

Is it just me, or am I sensing some divine premonition of a fast-approaching end of a long-standing "grand era", not only in terms of overall "popular culture", but also of civilization-as-we've-always-known-it-up-until-now?
All the cultural legends are dying off one after another.  All of society's and the world's normal social, domestic, and business practices have been replaced by little-by-little with unorhtodox and second-rate ones.

What kind of an "era" is replacing all of this---everything we've known all our lives? 
Even during some of history's darkest moments, like the great depression and World War II with all the various atrocities-against-mankind being committed by the German and Japanese governments, there was still an overall and overriding sense of ideals and principles the world abided by if only as a matter of tradition and an ongoing collective belief system.
But, just like our religions, we seem to be sacrificing them as if antiquated and no longer relevant, even after centuries of unquestioned general collective acceptance.  This is creating a strange new world with strange new rules.
And if any of these new rules rub you wrong and don't meet your personal approval...it's too bad.
We're all still stuck with these new weird set-of-standards.
I don't think I like this "strange new world".  It's priorities don't set very well with me.

Enough of this depressing subject for now...
We have another celebrity birthday to report:

Cher turned 66 yesterday:
She was born Cherilyn LaPierre on May 20 1946 in El Centro California
Her partner, songwriter/record-producer-turned-singer Sonny Bono was actually quite a great songwriter.  He wrote some real gems like LITTLE MAN, YOU'D BETTER SIT DOWN KIDS, as well as co-writing such "pre-Sonny and Cher" nuggets as NEEDLES AND PINS (co-written with Jack Nitzsche).
Although I didn't take Sonny and Cher very seriously during their heyday (when I was growing up), in retrospect I now think they were quite underrated (especially Sonny Bono).

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Weren't those the opening lines to the 1960s television medical drama BEN CASEY?

Anyway, a good theme for those of us into the pop/rock scene of the '60s and 70s as the grim reaper seems to be "celebrity-obsessed" come lately:

                    "DROPPING LIKE FLIES"---recently deceased:
Levon Helms: drummer/lead vocalist for The Band (the ultimate namesake for a band, no?)
Donald "Duck" Dunn (Booker T. & the M.G.s/Mar-Keys)
Donna Summer
...those are the "death" and "infinity" ones...

                                         ...now the "birth" and "life":

Bob Dylan will be turning 71 this next Thursday (can you believe that?)
He was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24 1941 in Duluth (that's across the river from Superior Wisconsin)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Modern Society: Infatuated With All Things Ugly

What is it with everything and everyone these days?
---motor vehicles...cars, SUVs, pick-up trucks...they all look the same, every make and model.
No style, no unique designs. And they're all just ugly-looking at that.
---the way people dress: frumpy-dumpy baggy shorts; hoodies; raggedy shirts and skirts; tennis shoes; sandals and open-toe shoes; mismatched colors and designs. Rag-tag looking, and some of these are "trendy" styles, sold for high-dollar at major department stores.
---and the eyeglasses people wear now: those thick disproportionate plastic frames and stems...they look like goggles or welders glasses...making even the prettiest faces look robotic, like alien invaders from some grade-B sci-fi horror flick.
---The latest popular music: whether rock, rap, R&B, country...a bunch of rambling bland-ass redundant two-note/two-chord jingles overwhelmed by overpowering 2/4-tempo overamplified drum machines. Every song sounds alike and each one drones on-and-on 5 minutes plus and are guaranteed "unlistenable".
---the television shows: cheesy simple-minded plots any 5-year-old kid could have easily concocted off the top of their heads, with "adult content" merely implying the presence of "sexual content" (which itself is handled with the wisdom and maturity of the average 6-year-old).  And the comedies are just a bunch of "penis jokes" or celebrity slanders or cliche "political" humor...guaranteed to be a hit with most any clueless deranged 15-year-old living a sheltered life controlled by despotic domineering parents.
---the personality of most people you run across: the guys all snarl when they speak and talk and behave like gangsters and offspring of mafia chiefs and act so petulant and cocky. The women act "eternally frigid", either civilian monarch femme fatales or hysterical "trailer park" psycho-bitches. And they're always so paranoid (especially of "strange men") one is always left wondering how they manage to always have friends and lovers.
---and then there's all this conspiracy being commited by everyone against each other: identity theft; on-line hacking; and all other sorts of subversive activities being perpetrated by otherwise "normal" individuals.
---and the way the cultural climate is ruled over by the "drug culture", the gangs, the "hip-hoppers", the "metal heads", the meth-heads.
---and what's up with these tattoos? And these nose-rings and body-piercing and wearing ornaments all over themselves? What's so special about transforming oneself into a "walking museum piece"?
Damn! We're now just a society of gypsies, bikers, and merchant marines. 
"Yes, lady, that's quite a work-of-art on your thigh there...quite impressive.  However, you should know...if you're still around 30 or 40 years from now you'll undoubtedly have your fair share of varicose veins.  That'll mess up your picture there...no-one will be able to tell which lines are part of the picture and which ones are acts-of-nature."

Overall, there seems to be "a war on all things aesthetical": anything appealing, enticing, alluring, illustrious, captivating, engaging---anything of merit or substance.
...there is some kind of "movement" out to phase-out and eventually obliterate all that was ever worthwhile about this turbulant world.
All the good and decent aspects and amenities---what made it all worth putting up with the "crap stuff"--- are being gradually and incrementally eliminated
...while the worst aspects of the world---all things we've learned to "love to hate"---are being more-and-more embraced and emulated and multiplied. They want to make sure only the "crap stuff" is left when it's all over.
If it's beautiful---make it vile and obscene.  If it's peaceful and serene---RABBLE-ROUSERS UNITE! Start a riot, make a scene...there must be perpetual turmoil and drama.  If it's structured and formatted---turn it into capricious scatterbrained chaos.  If it's clever, witty, or creative---replace it with sophomoric, banal, crude, and childish fluff.  If it's melodic, sophisticated and intricate---replace it with simple two-chord notes and basic 2/4-tempo rhythm and redundant Gregorian verses repeated dozens of times over.
The objective, I surmise, is to make life itself so unlivable that population control comes about by way of mass suicides.
...I don't know.

Sure---there are still lots of beauty and splender left in this world...
...a lot of natural beauty left yet
---all the magnificent mountains...all the lingeringly pristine lakes and rivers whose untouched waters are still pure and so clear one can still drink safely right from them.

But, sooner or later, they'll notice: "We can't allow these mountains to continue existing. They're too visually aesthetically-appealing. We got to get rid of them...Yes! NUKE the mother-fuckers!"
"Dump all of our sewage, nuclear waste, and oil spills into the lakes and rivers. And, hey! Aren't there oil or natural gas reserves under those river beds? Let's start drilling away, man!"
"And cut all those trees down already. No-one's allowed in the forests anymore anyway due to all the underground terrorism activities which used to take place in them. Clear out all the trees and we'll have some nice flat terrain to race our ATVs on."

Ugly!...Desolate!...that's our future!

There was a time when some people were concerned that the world was going to end around the year 1999 or 2000.
But we entered the 21st century without incident.
...But now I'm wondering if that was such a good thing.

"Schadenfreude" revisited

One day I was talking to an acquaintance about how, when doing my laundry at the washateria, I have to check the insides of the machines before I put my clothes in them for garbage, loose and sharp items...and how, when I'm using the dryers, I keep touching the door every few minutes to make sure the heat is working.
...to which he chuckled "You don't trust the machines there?".  He then stated he's "never had a problem when he's done his wash there".
I guess because it's one of the better laundromats in the city, if I've had any bad experiences there myself I just must be prone to bad luck---or, maybe, it must be something I did...I don't know.

But I hate that...when I've been snared by some glitchy crap stuff and afterwards have to be cautious and self-conscious about every move I make and everything I do---while everyone else around me is so carefree and nonchalant, like they've never had any problems with everything.
I start wondering: "Is there something about ME that causes all my mishaps?"..."Is it ME? Am I missing something? Or, maybe, I'm cursed or something?"

I don't like that feeling...that everyone around me can just "skate through life" without the need for "second thoughts"---while I'm stumbling through even the simplest of tasks...and answering for any oversights I may commit.
I tend to become resentful---to the point of losing all reverence and sensitivities toward others.

But, most of all, the notion that "it must have been something I did"...like, somehow, when I have a bout of bad luck it's my fault.
How would they like it if I returned that attitude toward them?
Like, when someone's telling me about their serious health problems I reply:
"It's probably a lifetime of junk food and lack-of-exercise and drinking all the time. Can't go blaming God and the world for YOUR bad habits and laziness"
...or, say some woman comes stumbling into a restaurant I'm patronizing at the time, all bruised up and everything, crying to one of her friends about her boyfriend beating her up again---and I would reply: "Maybe he had a reason to beat the crap out of you...maybe you're just a bitch and he just gets fed up with you.  Or, if he really IS such an asshole, then maybe you just have a knack for bad judgment when it comes to choosing lovers.  After all, we've only heard YOUR side of the story, not his. We STILL don't know the whole story behind this now, do we?"

Put it on THE OTHER GUY for a change.
...I'm tired of everything being "my fault" all the time.
It's like I'm just a dolt and all-around "fuck-up" while everyone else is so graceful and intelligent.
Time to throw some of THEIR foibles back in their faces...they're ASKING for it!

Caribou Coffee music

Have you ever been in a Caribou Coffee shop?
...and, if so, have you ever noticed that "fake rock" and "fake pop" stuff they play?
I don't ever recognize any of the songs
...and who ARE those groups and performers anyway? They don't sound like anyone I would be familiar with.

"Hey, Alice, listen...
generic 'power pop'...SOUNDS like a mix of Boston, Foreigner, Journey...
Wow! Now it's generic 'folk rock'...nasal-tone singer...imitation 'Bob Dylan'...or 'Arlo Guthrie'...
NOW it's generic 'alternative rock'...that's probably NOT Edie Brickell...
...now it's generic 'singer/songwriter' fluff...
OH MY!!! NOW it's generic 'country'
...generic 'lounge pop' now...
OH MY! Hear THAT Alice? 'Generic BLUES!'"

I have a theory about what "Caribou Coffee music" is:
These days all of the universities and colleges offer courses in pop music culture
...like "Song Structure", "Jazz Structure and Composition", "Advanced Songwriting", and all other such "popular music" and "theory of rock and roll" type of courses. (Your fundamental "101" fare).
All genres of popular music are "branded", pigeonholed, formulaically dissected and analyzed technically and literally
...and with all this literal analysis the music itself becomes "material". It loses all of it's spirit and all of it's nuances---all the "invisible elements"---the elements which REALLY give it it's "life". The ones you DON'T see merely viewing it in the academic and materialistic sense.

So you have all these music students graduating after taking these courses embarking on at least a part-time career as singers and instrumentalists
...they're good enough at what they do---but most of them lack creativity and originality.  The best they can do is either play "cover versions" or imitate other people's styles.
They'd probably be good enough to play the local clubs---if nowadays the clubs haven't been taken over by the "DJs" (DJs now are completely different from the ones of 30 years ago---they don't simply play records anymore. They do what's called "scratching")

So where are all these sub-mediocre singers and players to go with all their training?
In comes a corporate coffee store who wants to provide their customers with the usual "background music", but are obviously quite "skinflint" when it comes to the matter of "copyright fees"
...so: apparently these guys build their own sound studios, hunt down a few desperate down-on-their-luck singers and musicians of "so-so" aptitude and, for a one-time fee, hire them to write and record a few of their own original compositions.
And since work is so hard to come by most of them will probably say "Yes" ...extra money in their pocket.

Anyway that's MY (as-of-yet unproven) hypothesis on what-the-hell this "Caribou Coffee music" must be
...and who-the-hell these people are who perform it.

Caribou Coffee:
Their own satellite radio network---featuring their own programming, their own "original music" played by their own corporate headquarter in-house bands and singers.
Their motto: "If you recognize any of the songs or any of the performers, then we must be doing something wrong".
"If you know it we won't play it." 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Profile of "Prejudice"

                                                Why did ancient Rome persecute the Christians?
                                         Because there was no "black population" in ancient Rome
                           ...and SOMEONE had to "take responsibility for" their culture's social ills                   
                 ...and be the scapegoats and "fall guys" for all that was wrong with the social climate.

The point is, of course, that there'll always be SOME form of discrimination, anytime, anywhere, and in some form or fashion---judgment based on perceptions based on how select individuals or groups are imageristically pigeon-holed.

Even in, for example, an all-white (or all-black) classroom you'll still have certain types of individuals ostracized and persecuted and conspired against
...the "odd-balls", the social misfits, the "slow learners", the geniuses who don't "fit in" because they don't go-along-with all the latest current trends because they see them as being too banal and superficial (or what-have-you).

It's not just a matter of race or ancestral background
...people can be contemptuously judged by any kind of criteria...
---discrimination against the homeless
---how hard it is to find employment or a nice place to live if, for example, you have a police record
---gender discrimination is certainly no "trade secret" THESE DAYS.  Why ELSE would there be "feminism"?
---all the religious conflicts through the ages

I think what it is is this:
There are a lot of problems in the world and also within cultures themselves that work their way into the lives of individuals, who themselves also have their own personal issues
...and that these problems are not only invasive in nature, but often overwhelming and insoluble.
It's that feeling of being "violated" combined with feelings of "helplessness" that create enough frustration over a long enough period of time to transform into intense inner rage
---sooner or later one needs some kind of "relief" from all that inner emotional pressure
...they MUST lash out at and assault SOMETHING---or SOMEONE---either overtly or metaphorically.
Also, such chronic emotional pressure causes the sufferer to become more critical of the flaws and iniquities of both the world around them as well as of others around them
---hence, stereotyping and "demonizing" become an easy way of "unloading" one's personal baggage.

That's one of the more unfortunate aspects of human nature:
people are just "wired" with the propensity for passing critical and contemptuous judgments against anyone who's "ways" are different from their own
---especially when in need of "attacking life itself" without the actual means or opportunity of doing so.

There are always things in life the individual has no control over:

---your ancestry---the physical traits you inherit from your parents and grandparents
...including your physique---the biogeometrical aspect of your own physical body:
your jaw is too long...or you're tall and lanky and "awkward-looking"---or it's obvious, even at a young age, that you're condemned to go throughlife overweight---or your voice is "too deep", or "too tinny".  Having to go through life with a body that you feel "doesn't represent you the way you would wish to be self-represented" and thus you feel condemned to a lifetime of being self-misrepresented.

---all the world events and social trends you wish you could be impervious to, but instead always have to "force themselves on you" in some way.
Society just won't let you escape it's bull-shit and leave you alone to just "live your own life" and just be "in your own world".

---your own mortality...how vulnerable you are to the potential of accidents, illnesses, as well as your dependency on physical resources from the food you have to eat to survive to the necessity of interacting with your environment (including other people)
...being an integral part of "everything else" and not always being able to act on your own.

---the limitations of your own personal resources: your aptitudes, your level of intelligence and knowledge, the extent of your own emotional stability
...the fact that you can't do everything on your own or by yourself.  That, no matter how you feel about the world in general or about other people in general, you'll still have to rely on some kind of outside sources to be able to get all your needs and desires met.

You can see life is one humiliating and frustrating endeavor
...and it's near-impossible to be emotionally strong enough to endure what it does to you constantly all-the-time.
...and it's all those pressures and humiliations that'll subvert people---especially the emotionally weak-minded types
...and among the subversions is the tendency to stereotype and judge others in a demographically-based manner. 


...if you REALLY wish to put "the rock and roll era" into proper perspective simply obtain copies of Joel Whitburn's TOP 100 (pop) HITS and write down every title and recording artist (including as many "bubble unders" as you can) ...preferably the years 1954 through 1989
...then find a copy of each and every song on the list
...and, somehow, make a recorded collection of ALL of them---doesn't matter what format you put the series in...be it cassette tapes, CD-Rs, or MP3 format
...and, upon completion of said collective audio series, let this be your only source of listening pleasure.

As far as I'm concerned the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME reeks too much of mediatory politics coupled with popular current-day stereotypical musical demographic imagerisms.

Add to that the fact that the term "Rock and Roll" is too much of a "brand name"
---what should matter is the music itself, not the labels given to it.

Seriously, "rock and roll" came about by accident anyway
...the term itself was one frequently used in the black subculture of the 1940s and 1950s to mean either "party 'till you can't go on anymore"---as well as to "go all the way" when making out with your lover. It was an expression comprising a double-entendre.

...AND one often used as a catch-phrase by those considered "hip" and "with it" at the time.
Hence, it makes sense that a popular radio disc jockey trying to "win over" a young audience would use an expression of this nature to "get in good" with his listeners.

And what was being promoted as "the latest sound" at the time was a hybrid type of music comprising elements of every other popular music style both past and present to create an idiosyncratic "mix" sound/style of it's own.

That the casual use of a popular vernacular as a catchphrase would end up going on to become the "official term" of a derivative-based style of pop music was one of those unexplainable happenstances that seem to "just happen" from time-to-time.

That's why the idea of "rock-and-roll" as both a "brand name" as well as an official musical category seems like such a misgiven
...because "rock-and-roll" is to popular music what the English language is to languages in general:
Just as the English language invented itself by way of stealing words from all the other then-existing European and Mediterranean languages
...so too did "rock and roll" come about by stealing and using elements from all then-existing forms of popular music
...themselves derivative of everything from Stephen Foster to Mozart to Celtic music to gospel to ragtime to folk---and so on...and so on...

"FaceBook Co-founder" Revisited

I admit the way I lashed out at Eduardo Saverin the other day was a bit harsh
...one should never be so contemptuous towards someone they've never met before in their life and know nothing about.

Plus the fact that Mr. Saverin didn't actually violate any laws or anything like that
...even though what he's doing has obvious undertones of ulterior motivation, still---it IS his money, and however one feels about the manner in which he earned it, it's not like he embezzled any of it or made it on any black market.

However, even though technically one can't speak ill of his exorbitant earnings, there's STILL something about this whole affair that "doesn't feel right" to me for some inexplicably ambiguous reason.

Maybe it's just the idea of it:
Someone immigrates to this country (just for the record, he did do so legally---he went through all the proper channels and everything)
...they make a fortune while still a citizen of this country
...then they relinquish said citizenship for one of another land AFTER making their sizable fortune---to avoid "having to pay 'too much' in taxes" to the country in which they made their fortune.

Is it just me
...or does this concept reek of unethical elements?

Friday, May 11, 2012

FaceBook co-founder snob snub

FACEBOOK co-founder Eduardo Saverin wants to "renounce his U.S. citizenship" after becoming a multi-billionaire via co-founding an interactive internet site espousing and nurturing the "virtues" of some of the most baser aspects of human nature---i.e.: hedonism; egotism; social bigotry; narcissism; blasphemy; the "gossip mentality"?
(His estimated worth?  $3.84 billion.)

I can understand why, after making such great contributions to mankind obviously enhancing the betterment of humanity as a whole, Mr. Saverin would just pick up and take roots elsewhere.

Let's review:
Eduardo Saverin, an upper-middle-class-born-and-bred native of Brazil, attends the elitist Harvard University (U.S.A.) in the early 1990s and, along with an American-born upper-middle-class-born-and-bred native, creates a web site guaranteed to be sucessful due to catering to the desires of the collective lowest-common-denominator aspects of human nature.

...becomes a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1998 to further nurture and pursue his budding success and eventual career...

...and now, with his greatest dreams fulfilled beyond anyone's wildest imaginations
---he decides he "no longer wants to be an 'American citizen'".
---and, already a resident of Singapore, decides THAT'S where he wants to live out the rest of his life.

Wow! What a snob
...and a snubber as well.

I have a suggestion:
How about if the world "renounces Eduardo Saverin"?
I already have a "head start" on this:
MY FaceBook account has been "deactivated" for some time now and as of yet I STILL have no intention of ever reactivating it
...even MORE SO now after reading about this shit.

All you the world over have to do is simply...
...collectively deactivate your FaceBook accounts---permanently!
It's a somewhat useless site ANYWAY!

Singapore, huh?
Hey, like I can understand why you'd want to live somewhere like that
...I mean, hey!---everyone knows that, generally speaking, Asian women are among the world's best-looking
...and you're still a young man Mr. Saverin with "money-to-burn" on top of that.

Enjoy your wealth now Mr. Saverin
...while all of us users and former users of your product are subsisting on "peanuts" because we're forced to stay in a country without enough of a tax base left to adequately take care of it's own people or resources.

More Belated Celebrity Birthday Celebrations

Tommy Roe:  He turned 70 on Wednesday.
Born May 9 1942 in Atlanta.
He's best known for:
...of course there are a-dozen-or-so more songs where those came from
---less-than-minor hits and regional-but-not-national ones as well.

Speaking of belated birthdates, a couple OTHERS I missed:
Debbie Reynolds
Born Mary Reynolds on April 1 1932 in El Paso
The singer/actress is now 80-years-old
Carrie Fisher is her daughter.

Willie Nelson
Born April 30 1933 in Ft. Worth
He's now 79-years-old.

Of course the REAL "birthday celebrationals" will come June 19 with Paul McCartney turning 70.
All "Sir Paul" has to do is simply keep from being rendered deceased prior to his next (upcoming) birthday and all of us rock-and-roll and pop-music fans will have something truly special to celebrate.
So, Paul---keep yourself alive at least THAT much longer and the world will have itself a lot of "happy campers".


...that they'd ever come up with "vitamin-enriched" cookies?

Who needs to bother with eating REAL foods when you can get all your "nutritional requirements" met by simply snacking all the time.

Amazing what modern-day science can do!

Now when the honeybees become extinct and all the fruits and vegetables die out along with them due to lack of pollination, no problem:
Mankind will simply survive on a diet of breads and pastries containing Vitamin C and niacin and all other such essential nutrients.

Just like the legendary Marie Antoinette said back in the 18th century:
                                            "Let 'em eat cake!"

Not just ANY kind of cake
...vitamin-enriched cake
...Dutch chocolate---the vitamin-C and vitamin-B12 "immune system nurturing" formula. 

Guiltless? (Or Just Too Comfortable With Life?)

I had an Algebra teacher when I was in high school who, when I mentioned how hard it is for me to fall asleep (while explaining why I was "always so tired in class"), told me (unequivocally) that "all I have to do is just lay my head down on my pillow and I'm out, just like that".
Apparrently she's never had any sleep-related problems.

To this day I'm still plagued with the inability to get to sleep right away (no matter how tired I am) and to sleep the whole night (or morning) through.

These days I wouldn't so much be jealous of someone like my 10th grade Algebra teacher as I would be annoyed or disgusted.

Are they really THAT comfortable with life that they could relax and be serene enough to just unwind at will and relax "without a care"?

In my (myopic) opinion NO-ONE should ever have the right to be that "relaxed with life"
...not in a world like this with all it's prejudices and conspiracies and double standards.

I figure that anyone who isn't paranoid and chronically "on edge" to the point of risking  permanent insanity---not to mention the physical maladies that come with being irreparably wrecked emotionally and spiritually---is just...ultimately delusional.

In this world whoever isn't out-to-get-you thinks you're out-to-get-them.
It's the kind of world where you get robbed one moment and arrested for theft the next
...NO-ONE's on your side.

The way I figure it people who have no trouble falling asleep (and staying asleep) are those who are either overconfident and "always-in-control" of their affairs
...or maybe they've just lived a clean and conservative uncorrupted lifestyle and it's their clear conscience that enables them to "be at peace with themselves".

I should mention that my 10th grade Algebra teacher was single and happily "living her own life" (at a time when marriage and divorce were still the predominant norm)---and was a domineering and strong-willed type individual
...that may explain her aptitude for nocturnal self-control.

Liberties and Rights

I'm not that big on that notion of the importance of "individual rights" or of "respecting the rights of others".

To me liberties are like money or any other resource:
Just as sure as any time you run into any individual or groups who have an abundance of excessive wealth you don't have to look far before running into someone who's excessively impoverished.
...likewise, where there's the presence of those who get to live freely and are allowed to do as they please without having to "answer to" anyone for anything---never in need or in want of anything---you can bet there is SOMEONE also living in the same neighborhood who's eternally ostracized, socially deprived and oppressed and "taking the blame" for it's social ills and is always "under suspicion"
...as is the case with money or any other resource there's "only so much to go around"
---and liberties "only go so far" as well.

Any time there's an element of inequitableness---where one party or one group have an excess of something---it always denotes a "hijacking" of resources by whoever has the most of those resources.

People have "liberties" and "rights" more as a result of favoritism and social clout than by the ethos of any written Constitutional clauses.


Recently I read a news article about a woman who was fired from her job at a WELLS FARGO branch (after having worked there for five years straight) when it was discovered that she had a conviction for shoplifting.

The statement given by the management of the branch where she worked was that "financial institutions are prohibited by federal law to have in their employment anyone who's been convicted in a court-of-law of any offenses involving any kind of 'breach-of-trust'".

One thing:  she only had this one offense on her record
...and it's from 1972!!!!

I don't know about you, but I think in this particular case it's a way bit overkill.
Not that I advocate the circumvention of law by an institution bound by federal regulations, but surely there must be SOME sort of statute-of-limitations regarding a 40-year-old offense
...especially if it never culminated in any repeat offenses or escalated into more serious ones.

I don't think she deserved to be just merely "tossed out" after having worked there for 5 years straight without incidence. 

There seems to be a tendency of those who are successful in life and who have always managed to elude accountability for whatever misdeeds or mistakes they might have made in the course of their lifetime to become hubristically haughty
...to start feeling like they're "special" or, maybe, even infallible---not prone to the same frailties and foibles attributed to the "hoi pol loi".  Like they're somehow among the "special breeds" of humanity---those who are "smarter", more "knowledgable", who "have more common sense than most", who "have a better sense of ethics and etiquette/culture than the 'ill-bred majority'", who "are wiser and not foolish like most people", "more cautious and not-easily-taken-advantage-of", "of sound judgment as opposed to being impulsive and capricious like most people"
...somehow invulnerable and impervious to even their own emotional weaknesses as well as to the vices of the world.

With a mindset like this it's easy for such people, when face-to-face with those whose lives didn't turn out quite so well as theirs have, to just figure that somehow that other person's primarily to blame for their predicaments and life's circumstances
...that if someone's been victimized by extenuating circumstances (like the economy, social environment, corruption, prejudices, and the like) it's only because they're either gullible and easy-to-take-advantage-of, or because they lack intelligence or insight needed to outmanipulate the adversities-of-life.

My personal response to people like this is to engage in various forms of vicarious imaginings of happenstances of divine chagrining (i.e.: Just once, life should "show THEM up" for a change).

...like, for instance:
---The next time the police bust a meth lab operation may it end up being one operated by either a best friend or a close relative.
---One of these nights have "one-too-many-double-shots" at one of those highfalutin clubs you always frequent and, this time around, DON'T make it home
...either get arrested for DUI or cause a wreck and kill someone else as "important" as you---wherein the authorities have no choice: they'll HAVE to charge you with a felony.
...Bye-bye self-righteousness along with your reputation, dignity, and credibility.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More Myopic Musings

Two dates that have gone down in infamy:
May 3 1999:  F-5 tornado devestates the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.
May 4 1970:  Ohio National Guard troops fire live ammunition on a group of anti-war protesters on the Kent State University campus killing four students
...at least two of the victims were not even involved in the protests---they were simply heading from one class to another.

I don't know about this "Bicycle Culture" trend that's pretty much "taken over" American society.
It's certainly not doing anything for me
...of course my opinion of it is going to be biased as I'm one of those oddball types who's "never learned to ride a bicycle". Even growing up I "didn't know how to ride a bike like all the other kids do".
Hence, being a full-time pedestrian (and part-time bus rider) I just see this prevalent omni-cluster of bicycles as being "just one more obstacle I have to 'look out for'" when walking around. Like it's not enough I have to "be on guard" for motor vehicles every time I cross the street or walk by an alley or parking lot, I also have to "look out" when I'm anywhere on the sidewalk itself, as at any given moment some clown can just fly-around-the-corner "out-of-nowhere" and slam into me with their two-wheel mobile gadget---or at least force me to jump on the grass or even into a sign post or telephone pole.
I think they should enact speed limits for bicycles---no more than 10-MPH on public sidewalks.
...and strictly enforce them, with citations, fines, the whole works---just like any other traffic ticket.

For some reason I can't quite get so "excited" about this warm weather the way most people do
...for one thing, it always brings with it some really hellacious storms.  "Whoopie!", huh?
...and personal hygene becomes impossible to maintain, even with a daily shower and deodorant.
But also due to the fact that any kind of even "mild weather" seems to be a "greaser magnet".
...for whatever reason, any kind of "nice weather" seems to bring forth into the public realm some of the rudest, most aggressive, and ill-mannered, uncultured, ignorant types of people.
It's like---you can't just "go out" and "enjoy the nice weather" because you're always going to have all these "buzzkill" ass-holes spoiling it for you
...I guess apparently "it's their world and not mine"---or something along that line.

More Belated "Happy Birthdays"

Judy Collins ...73-years-old on Tuesday
...born May 1 1939 in Seattle

She's the same age as Neil Sedaka, who turned 73 in March (the 13th)

...and speaking of former "teen idols":
Bobby Vee turned 69 on Monday
...he was born on April 30 1943 in Fargo.
I read recently that he's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease
...isn't 69 rather young for that particular disease?
...one always thinks of someone in their 80s or so when they think of Alzheimer's.