Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rock 'N' Roll

My ex just bought tickets for Coldplay at the Riverport amphitheater. She’s taking our kids for their birthdays. A $20.00 handling fee plus mandatory paid parking were added to the already ridiculous charges. The handling fee is for each ticket! The folks that always hated rock and roll have subverted it from within. Live Nation/Ticket Masters are the enemy.

Valerie and I went there to see Radiohead. It was terrible. It was like being in the temple of moneychangers. I wanted to throw them all out and it’s not just my Jesus complex.

I know with the free exchange of digital music live shows are the only way bands can make money but this is ridiculous. It’s become totally corrupt.

You pay $8.00 for a beer and rent chairs for lawn seating. You used to bring coolers and whatever else you wanted to places like the Mississippi River Festival at SIUE. There was a strong sense of underground community. This community would change the world.

My first concert was Joan Baez at the River Festival. Everyone was great. I must have been 11. I kept wondering what that strange smell was. I probably got a contact high.

But the man wanted control. I think control really is the issue. “Just imagine if sex and drugs got so out of hand that society collapsed. We’d be living in caves. We’ll have to put a lid on this and squeeze every dime out of it while we’re at it.”

I guess the kids grew up and became the establishment. It must be the path of least resistance.

This is our fault. My kids both have every kind of guitar and amp imaginable. We used to just fantasize about them. I think the strenuous pursuit of your dreams is very important and I feel guilty that my kids will never know that hunger.

Kim and I took the kids to the Point birthday party at the Family Arena in St. Charles. I couldn’t believe the flag waving gratuitous tributes to our troops from every band. Buck Cherry even performed To Drunk to F#ck by the Dead Kennedys. Is Jello Biafra hip to this? What a bunch of republicans! Where’s the outrage? What are we teaching our kids? Rock ‘N’ Roll has turned into a cartoon.

There are venues for oldsters like us. Smaller acts at local clubs and places like The Pageant. Open drug use is a thing of the past except you can still catch a whiff at the teen events. I wish I could see Radiohead at a smaller venue. I wish the big acts would boycott places like Ticket Master. I wish there was reason.

Pic is The Mississippi River Festival. It seems like I saw a hundred acts there.

Friday, February 20, 2009


An issue that seems to polarize a lot of my friends is the legalization of drugs. I think all drugs, no matter how dangerous, should be legal. Our approach should be education not criminalization.

Legalization would end a lot of the criminal activities associated with drugs. I was listening to a woman on the radio a few weeks ago talking about the possible legalization of marijuana. She said public acceptance was no excuse for legalization. I know mob opinion isn’t necessarily justice but this is ridiculous.

We live in an incredibly puritan society. In heroin treatment centers we have junkies trade that addiction for an addiction to methadone. “The addiction’s fine as long as there’s no fun.” People do die from methadone withdrawal.

I’m not sure where the analogy lies but a few of my republican friends tie it in with gun control. The conversation will start with something along the lines of, “Do you believe in a right to bear arms?” I’ll say something like, “I know a lot of people cling to their guns who get their ya yas off shooting at animals in the woods,” Some of them think you’re not being a responsible parent if you don’t have a gun in the house to protect your family from intruders. In spite of the fact that statistics prove most gun fatalities in the home are accidental. I know they’ll never change and we just have to accept it.

But, I argue, we should have licensing and limits on the kinds of weapons people have. For instance assault weapons that can kill several people at once or if you take the argument to the extreme, what about nuclear weapons?

A friend of mine actually countered my argument. “Okay then, legalize marijuana but not heroin.” He was drawing an analogy between assault weapons and harder drugs. The problem with that argument is harder drugs still only affect the single user. “But what about crime committed by desperate junkies?” There are already laws against these crimes.

Crack cocaine was epidemic in this country into the mid 80s. Once it became clear what a life destroyer it is usage dropped dramatically. This is an example of public education. It took a while because the problems had to become obvious enough for the masses.

I heard an interest theory though. Roe V Wade made it possible for women to stop having unwanted babies. Unwanted babies grow into the biggest crack demographic.

Good parenting isn’t available for everyone unfortunately. I for one feel safer knowing my kids are aware that not all drugs are equal. There are drugs that benefit people as well as bad legal ones. They can make their own informed assessment of each of them.

Throwing drug abusers in jail just creates a market for criminals.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Group Think

As more of us get plugged in to the internet we have less excuse for ignorance when it comes to issues. I’m not saying there isn’t bad information on the web but with a little research you can usually find some truth.

I wish people were predisposed not to vote when they don’t really understand an issue. We’re constantly told “if you don’t vote, don’t bitch!” People tend to get behind people they trust. Unfortunately so do the people they trust. Everyone’s led down the garden path of ignorance.

Here are statistics I’ve gathered at FactCheck. You can verify them elsewhere if you like.

  • 25.6 percent of those who earned too little to have seen any tax increase under Obama's plan nevertheless believed that he intended to "increase your own federal income taxes," accepting McCain's repeated claims that "painful" tax hikes were being proposed on "families."
  • 39.8 percent thought McCain had said he would keep troops in combat in Iraq for up to 100 years, though he’d actually spoken of a peacetime presence such as that in Japan or South Korea.
  • 31 percent believed claims that Obama would give Social Security or health care benefits to illegal immigrants, when in fact he would do neither. (This one kills me. Why do we hate outsiders so much?)
  • Republicans were 4.4 times more likely than Democrats to believe that Obama would raise taxes on most small businesses, and Democrats were 3.2 times more likely than Republicans to believe that McCain would cut Medicare benefits.
  • 31 percent think Congress or the president, not the Supreme Court, have the final call on whether laws are constitutional.
  • Despite all evidence, 46 percent believe that Saddam Hussein played a role in the attacks of September 11. Dick Cheney kept saying this. Recently I heard an interview with him and he finally changed his story. He said it was their belief that Hussein had WMDs not his involvement in 911.

The separate camps spend millions on disinformation but I’m seeing new emphasis on fact checking. It’s a lot easier now with the web but you have to wade through a sea of lies sometimes.

I really do believe we get what we deserve.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


We’re getting another wave of revisionism. Republicans are saying, “F.D.R. didn’t get us out of The Depression, the war did.”

Roosevelt was inaugurated in 1933- the worst year of the depression. His New Deal led to 8% growth every year of his administration. Things were so bad it did take the huge spending of the war to do enough but F.D.R.’s programs did as much as was humanly possible barring a war.

Is the argument that war is good?

We went off the gold standard in 1933 too. Countries that stayed experienced at least 15% decline every year after while the countries that went off the standard grew. For a better view of this check out

The republicans keep saying cutting taxes is the stimulus we need. Not only has the last 8 years disproved this but from the end of W.W.II until 1970 we had the highest corporate taxes and the strongest economic engine ever as a nation. This is easily borne out by a little research online.

The senate finally compromised on a bill for the stimulus yesterday. Needles to say the things they threw out blow my mind. Electronic medical infrastructure has been cut. This would save us millions. It would make medical records available instantly anywhere.

I have a feeling deaths caused by doctors’ poor penmanship when writing prescriptions might disappear too. It might be a little off topic but I’ve always thought they should be held accountable if they’re arrogant enough not to care about their own handwriting.

They also threw out money for a general fund for education. Fortunately they held on to the Pell money. Education has always been a good investment.