Friday, February 28, 2020

Disco Still Rules. Zoom!

I am on Instagram. Some of you are too. I use it mostly for amusement purposes. And for looking at sexy ladies. Don't tell the missus about that last part.

I mostly follow accounts that make me laugh. And I'm not picky about my laughs. I'll take them low-brow or high-brow. I mostly get them low-brow, from accounts like @joemande, @gymfailstories, @miserable_men, @kyledunnigan1, @festivalist, @kookslams, @failvibes, @ryanoflan and many others.

I follow @nickkroll on Instagram. He turned me on to a video that has wormed its way into my earholes and eyeballs in the last few days. It's a disco song/performance called Space Rescue by Zoom. They are Spanish. They perform what can best be described as cocaine-infused interpretations of disco music. Did I suck you in yet? Do you not believe me? Check out that video here. It's so awesome it's mesmerizing.

The choreography of that video blows me away. It seems to be the basis for the dance scene to Machine Gun in Boogie Nights, which is one of my favorite minutes in the history of cinema. Check it out right here!

The Zoom video and music also remind me of the performance part from the all-male synchronized swimming skit from SNL, which I put in my top 10 SNL skits of all time. Harry Shearer is an amazing straight man, Martin Short is at the peak of his warped powers here, and Christopher Guest shows what the next chapter of his career would be.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

1 > 0

Sometimes it's simply lightning in a bottle, never before and never since replicated.

In late 1993, Capitol Records released an album by a relatively unknown Santa Monica act.  Something called Mazzy Star.  A few years prior, the band had put out a single record on Rough Trade -- the label best known for The Smiths.  It was called She Hangs Brightly and was most famous for making Kurt Cobain's list of Nirvana's 50 favorite albums. AllMusic, my go-to review staple for two decades and counting, had this to say: "...the album quickly loses focus, and even the group's solid grasp of atmosphere and texture can't overcome the songs' distinctly unmemorable melodies."
Hope for all of us

I'm listening to it now on Spotify.  A lilting VU-ish opening track, then a very alt-90's grit-guitar cover, and then . . . what he said.

There wasn't a lot of indication that anyone had excessive optimism for So Tonight That I Might See.

Well, surely there was some within the band, especially when the singer's name was Hope.  Hope Sandoval, a slinky, breathy vocalist and lyricist from SoCal was 27. Her creative partner was David Roback, 35, and he handled the guitars, keys, and musical composition.  From photographs taken of Roback around then, I'd say he was the uncomfortable, stay-in-the-background, musical brains of the operation. Circa '93, none of this exuded "chart-topping."

It's such a simple song, the album opener from that sophomore effort. The chords are so simple that I can play it.
A E Bm
A E Bm
A E Bm
A E Bm

A E Bm
A E Bm
A E Bm D
A E Bm

Seriously.  The drummer had to have nearly fallen asleep. Maybe the tambourine kept him awake. The bass is barely audible. The piano is... nice.  But the slide guitar is actually pretty great.

And her voice . . . yes.

Anyway, "Fade Into You" was the first song on So Tonight That I Might See.  It's now called a "fluke hit" or at the very least a "surprise hit." And I didn't even see it coming.  But it's a damn fine song.  And a whole lotta people thought so.

I first heard it on 99.1 WHFS, thanks to DJ's like Rob Timm and Aq and Kath.  Good days of radio in DC. I bought it on CD -- no, not the album, but on a compilation I found in a used bin in CD Cellar or somewhere in Arlington.  It was a Spin Magazine promo item called Spin This V (as in 5), and it had a handful of unsung gems.  I wore it out.

"Fade Into You" was everywhere on MTV, VH-1, and all the channels that used to exist and play videos and now don't exist or don't play videos.  It was on HFS and DC101. Its chill-very-chill nature landed it on some "adult contemporary" stations. Rob's and my roommate The Spoid bought the whole album, and nestled it neatly between his copies of Eat a Peach and "Macarena."  It seemed to be everywhere.

It was a full-fledged hit.

As it turns out, the rest of the album was not exactly head and shoulders above its predecessor. There are what sounds like some throwaway stabs at PJ Harvey and My Bloody Valentine, as well as some proto-Courtney Love.  Alrighty then. Beyond Track 1 on So Tonight That I Might See, you likely never heard it.

A subsequent album appeared in 1996 for a tepid minute.  It had a "Fade Into You" soundalike. You likely never heard it.

20 years after So Tonight That I Might See, Sandoval and Roback released one final Mazzy Star record.  You likely never heard it.  The arc of Hope Sandoval, the bright light of 1994, faded like that of her cousin Pablo 20 years later.

David Roback died yesterday at age 61. No cause has been announced.

Mazzy Star inexorably finds itself in the oft-maligned category of "One-Hit Wonders." I'd love to argue differently about their inclusion . . . hell, I'm such a music dork that have a contrarian Spotify playlist entitled Not One-Hit Wonders.  But Mazzy Star isn't in it.

I do contend that such a label shouldn't be a derogatory epithet. The difference between no hits and one hit is way, way, way more than one (1). It's a bazillion. I'm writing and recording songs on my 3rd floor (Les Coole Studios). None will ever be hits and that's not why I'm doing it, but I marvel at the notion that a few folks sat down in some studio somewhere and cranked out something that became as pleasing to the ears of a million or more people as "Fade Into You."

J Mascis was one of those million.

So if an artist can't come back for a second helping of that caliber of success, that's no sin. Sometimes it was simply lightning in a bottle.

And if any of you out there never knew this song, I guess I'd just say . . .

I think it's strange you never knew . . .

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Keeping Pace

Working on some actual content, but 'til then I feel obligated to live up to Coach Whitney's exhortations regarding the volume of our 2020 posts. If we're all gonna die, we're gonna go out working hard at our craft.

And so here's the newest Best Coast single. It's got a Joan Jett vibe. Which is pretty bitchin'.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Gheorghe Explains the 2020 Democratic Primary

It's been a while since Gheorghe explained the election. Here are many hot takes on the 2020 Democratic primary broken down by candidate.


The candidate: Bernie Sanders

His campaign in a sentence: free healthcare, free medicine, free college, free citizenship, and a union card for everyone

His campaign in a GIF:


Liked by: people who don’t have and can’t afford the aforementioned stuff

Disliked by: people who have the aforementioned stuff and don’t want to have to pay for other people to get it

Trump’s nickname if he gets the nomination: Bolshevik Bernie; Bernie Panders

How Trump will beat him: Trump will terrify many people with rants about socialism and communism and how Bernie will destroy the "big beautiful economy" Trump alleges to have built. Trump will run this video again and again and again:

Parenthetically, Bernie Sanders was 46 years old in 1988 yet he looked 78. We should all feel better about ourselves, or at least our appearances relative to middle-aged Bernie.

Trump will also yell words like "Sandinistas" and "Oretega" and "Castro" not only because Bernie backed them, but because it will tie him to Latin America and thus further enrage Trump's xenophobic base. Also, Putin will interfere on Trump’s behalf.


The candidate: Pete Buttigieg

His campaign in a sentence: I am more intelligent and poised than your other options

His campaign in a GIF:


Liked by: people who look at him and are reminded of the aloof but still likable valedictorian of their elite undergraduate university

Disliked by: people who did not go to an elite undergraduate university; people who went to an elite undergraduate university and did not find their aloof valedictorian to be likable

Trump’s nickname if he gets the nomination: Gayor Pete; some bad pun involving “Butt”

How Trump will beat him: This will be ugly. Trump unabashedly ran on racism and xenophobia in 2016. If Buttigieg gets the nomination Trump will expand his platform to include homophobia. Trump will say things like “Can you imagine this guy negotiating with Putin? Vlad would have his way with him! And you know what, Pete would like that!” Or “Kim Jong-Un would have Pete on his knees in seconds [waits a beat] and Pete is probably looking forward to it!” Buttigieg’s military service will carry no weight. GHW Bush, Bob Dole, John Kerry, and John McCain were all decorated combat veterans. All but Bush earned a Purple Heart. They also all lost presidential elections. No one cares about military service anymore. Also, Putin will interfere on Trump’s behalf.


The candidate: Mike Bloomberg

His campaign in a sentence: I can beat Trump because I’m a New Yorker; also, I have $61 billion with which to bludgeon you into voting for me

His campaign in a GIF:


Liked by: people who have been bludgeoned into submission by $61 billion worth of advertising; people from the New York area who work in the financial services industry; people who think it takes a thief to catch a thief

Disliked by: people who don’t want to see another egomaniacal New York billionaire with no real party affiliation buy the presidency; people who look at Bloomberg’s record of mistreating minorities and women and see a bizarro Trump

Trump’s nickname if he gets the nomination: Stop N Frisk Mike; Mikey NDA

How Trump will beat him: Trump will gaslight voters (again) into thinking that Bloomberg will be “a disaster” for minorities and women, while Trump will be their champion. Also, Putin will interfere on Trump’s behalf.


The candidate: Joe Biden

His campaign in a sentence: I was Barack Obama’s VP!

His campaign in a GIF:


Liked by: people with little imagination

Disliked by: people who look at Biden and see a very old man who may be in cognitive decline

Trump’s nickname if he gets the nomination: Dopey Joe, Slidin’ Biden

How Trump will beat him: Trump will gaslight voters (again) into thinking that Obama (and thus Biden) destroyed the economy while Trump unleashed it like the Kraken. Then he will sit back while Biden says and does stupid shit and shoots himself in the foot. Also, Putin will interfere on Trump’s behalf.


The candidate: Amy Klobuchar

Her campaign in a sentence: I'm a nice midwesterner with a record of centrism and electability so you should like me, please please like me

Her campaign in a GIF:


Liked by: Does anyone really affirmatively like her?

Disliked by: Does anyone really affirmatively dislike her?

Trump’s nickname if she gets the nomination: Shaky Amy

How Trump will beat her:
In an early debate zdaughter turned to me and asked about Klobuchar "Why is she so shaky?" It's a good question. Maybe she's nervous, maybe she has a neurological issue, maybe she uses too much hairspray. All I know is it's a weakness so apparent my 5-year-old saw it so Trump will pounce on it and exploit it for all it's worth. He will say a bunch of misogynistic stuff too. Also, Putin will interfere on Trump’s behalf.


The candidate: Elizabeth Warren

Her campaign in a sentence: I have a pompous lecture for every issue

Her campaign in a GIF:


Liked by: people who enjoy pompous lectures

Disliked by: people who don’t like to be lectured

Trump’s nickname if she gets the nomination: Pocahontas, Lyin' Lizzie

How Trump will beat her: His answer to every debate question will be “She lied about her race to get ahead!” or he’ll just yell “Pocahontas!” over and over. Candidly I have no idea how Warren has skated on this issue for so long. I think it’s an egregious misrepresentation. Also, Putin will interfere on Trump’s behalf.


You know who the best candidate was on paper?

The candidate: Cory Booker

What his campaign should have been in a sentence: I have an Ivy League degree and a Rhodes scholarship like Pete, mayoral experience like Pete and Mike and Bernie, senatorial experience like Joe and Bernie and Amy and Liz, a progressive record on guns and the environment, a pro-business record when it comes to the economy, a realistic healthcare plan, and I know how to relate to minority voters because I really am a minority; also, I played Pac-10 football, I'm dating Rosario Dawson, and Trump can't pull his "I'm more manly than you" bully bullshit with me because I'm bigger and stronger and much younger than him and I would absolutely fuck him up if he stepped to me.

What his campaign should have been in a GIF:


Liked by: apparently no one

Disliked by: I don't know anyone who affirmatively dislikes him

Trump’s nickname if he gets the nomination: Cory Crooker in an attempt to tie him to corruption in Newark

How Trump will beat him: He already did.


Ultimately I really truly believe that Trump will lose in November no matter his opponent. Despite all my foregoing snark, I think that voters will be highly motivated in PA, WI, OH, and MI (which appear to be the only states that matter because they are the only ones that could go either way) and I have to imagine that they are picking up what the Democrats are putting down, namely lots of free stuff, income equality, a return to sanity and normalcy, etc. Trump ran on populism but it isn't clear to me that these four states are any better off than they were in 2016, and Bloomberg and Steyer will hopefully dip deeply into their fortunes to get the vote out. So keep your chins up!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Dopplegang Gang

When last we checked in on the Teej's manifold personalities, he'd just released a new album. Talented, that dude. (I'd link to that post, but I can't find it. Bygones.)

This week brings news of another noteworthy achievement by our Doofus Overlord, in which he's become an overlord of a different sort. From Carlow Live near Dublin:

"Farmhand has appointed Carlow man TJ Doyle to its board of directors.

TJ has been appointed as technical director of Farmhand, the family-owned importer of Krone, Amazone, Quicke, Zuidberg and APV.

The Carlow native joined the company in 2008 as an area service manager and later became overall service manager where he has been instrumental in Farmhand's after sales professionalism."

Farmhand, for those not in the know, is a leading Irish distributor of heavy equipment used in, well, farming.

The news itself is worth celebrating. More so for our purposes, the glamour shot of our man Doyle:

I mean, this shit writes itself, no? Long lost...self?

Congrats, Teej. We're super proud of you. Hoping for some sweet combine action for my back 40.

Friday, February 21, 2020

High... Plains... Drifter

Play this while reading:

Now read:

The setting is Lago, a crappy little town filled with the worst kinds of people you could conjure. As the Boys would say, it's a nice place to visit but a better place to rob.

So you see, the greedy, me-first townspeople found out that the local marshal had made a tragic discovery. The nearby mine -- the town's solitary livelihood generator -- was actually on government property. Ruh-roh.

Cash flow gettin' low so they had to pull a job

Not just any job. Murder.

So basically, in order to tell the government and the outside world in general to perform the physical act of love on itself, and in order to keep this source of money that they had no inherent claim to . . . they will stoop to incredible depths to preserve their selfish goals.

Here's the thing. These gutless wonders didn't have the sand or sack to do it themselves. They hired the lowest slime on the planet to take care of the dirty business and preserve their crappy little lives. Sometimes people do that.  You do what you think you have to do and you hold your nose when it comes to the moral implications.

Good luck with that.

So into this dusty, depraved town rides a Stranger. Not the kind of stranger you'd find in the works of Camus or Smith, Joel or Kipling, Seger, Salinger, Starship, or Supertramp, not in cautionary tales or onanistic deviance. This Stranger is Clint Eastwood.  Clint 'twixt Dirty Harry and William Munny.  Clint closer to Josey Wales. Clint, very bad man.

I feel that I'm getting pushed 
Whitney and Rob, 1883
Don't step to me 'cause you could be gettin' mushed 

The Stranger is not the hero Lago deserves, but the one it needs right now. He's not even a hero. He's not even an antihero. He's evil.  He's the devil. He's a vengeful spectre. He's a murderous rapist. And he's more than kind of a dick. Although he did appoint a tiny dictator.

When Jack said, "This town needs an enema," Lago needs one more than Gotham ever did, and The Stranger is that rectal bulb syringe.

So this fella pulls a Number 6 on Lago. You know, Number 6. He comes a-ridin' into town, a whoppin' and whumpin' every livin' thing that moves within an inch of its life. Except the women folks, of course.  Wait, he does them, too.

You don't mind him when he's like this.
Here's the wrinkle. After the townsfolk hired the slime to kill the marshal, they turned 'em in.  But... whoops-a-daisy... someone up high pardoned 'em or commuted their sentences or what have you.  And guess what?  The dirtballs in question are now free, and chances are good that they won't exact their revenge on the people of Lago by tweeting hysterical hyperbole.

Pulled over to the river, to take a rest 
Pulled out a pair of pliers pulled a bullet out of my chest

You'd better run when he looks like this. 
So the Stranger and the evil dimwit hired guns are set at odds.  The thing is, there's more collateral damage than at a Steven King pie-eating contest.  The real losers are, of course, the people of Lago.  Not that they weren't losers to begin with, but yikes.  This sucks even more than living in a remote western American town in eighteen-sump'n-sump'n already sucks.
You wind up finding exactly where these folks find themselves living.

So, herein lies the question for the ages.  Did the arrival of the Stranger commence the final ruination of the already morally shaky place?  Was he the lesson that fighting fire with fire will result in everyone and everything being charred remains?

Or... did he give the town its necessary enema, eradicating evil up and down and leaving Lago ready to rebuild anew on a better promise for tomorrow?  They couldn't have gotten rid of the resident evil without him.  They simply could not.  And he did.

You tell me, gentle viewers.

The linkage is thinly veiled. I'm all for nominating the most moral and effective leader to run against Trump. In theory.  Nominating another Walter Mondale or George McGovern-style historical footnote will allow everyone to hold their heads high for a brief, brief moment... before DJT disembowels the people and the planet for another 4 long ones.

There is a floor we should not sink beneath in the valiant pursuit of eviction, but the question is whether Bloomberg is below it.  Right now I'm leaning toward The Stranger to clean some fucking house. He didn't do well the other night, but he may be our version of The Stranger.
Sarah Belding: Be careful. You're a man who makes people afraid, and that's dangerous.
The Stranger: Well, it's what people know about themselves inside that makes 'em afraid.
'Cause I'm the high... plains... drifter, and I'm the drifter 
The high... plains... drifter, and I'm the drifter 

May God have mercy on our souls.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Better Angels > Shittier Devils

Courtesy of our man in the Outer Banks, a dose of optimism at a time where that particular emotion comes in short supply. It's a nice thought, in any case.

We live in turbulent times. The Big Cantaloupe in the White House shreds norms daily and governs to feed his ego and his wallet. Income inequality grows. Divisions abound. One major political party has chosen power over principle. The other regularly sticks screwdrivers into electrical outlets. Of course, it all may be moot, as a disease that sounds like a euphemism for a hangover may thin the herd considerably.

But I bring encouraging words. Not from me. My life advice pretty much consists of: be kind; stretch and hydrate; get some sleep. No, these are from Jon Meacham, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian. He wrote a book a couple of years back titled The Soul of America, and sub-titled The Battle For Our Better Angels – a nod to Lincoln’s remarks about “the better angels of our nature.” It’s a more eloquent way of saying, “Folks, if you think it’s bad now, we’ve had it worse and somehow made it through.”

Or to put it in Meacham’s words, the book is “a portrait of hours in which the politics of fear were prevalent – a reminder that periods of public dispiritedness are not new and a reassurance that they are survivable.”

Meacham examines different periods of our nation’s existence in the past 160 years: Reconstruction and the rise of the Lost Cause narrative; the decades-long fight for women’s suffrage; the re-emergence of the Ku Klux Klan and Red Scare in the 1920s; the Great Depression; McCarthyism and the Communist scare of the 1950s; the struggle for Civil Rights in the 1950s and ‘60s. The book grew out of an essay that Meacham was asked to write for Time mag in the aftermath of the white supremacist/neo-Nazi assembly in Charlottesville in 2017 in which a woman named Heather Heyer was killed, and President “Very Fine People on Both Sides” made a hash of the entire ordeal.

The book isn’t as imposing as it appears, at least in hardcover. It’s 400-plus pages, but 130 of them are footnotes and attribution. He refers often to the speeches and writings of former presidents. Brief observation: dear lord, even if you didn’t agree with their politics, nearly all of them, or their speechwriters, were remarkably eloquent.

Presidents at times acted nobly during challenging periods, but also reacted to social movement from below. Though opposed to slavery, Lincoln grappled with what to do once it ended, including sending black people back to Africa. Woodrow Wilson was disinterested in, if not downright dismissive of, the women’s voting movement early in his presidency before signing off on it later. Franklin Roosevelt came from a privileged background, but became a champion of the working man and steered the country away from the nationalist fervor that took hold in Europe and produced the likes of Hitler and Mussolini. Harry Truman descended from slaveowners and was openly racist early in adult life, but desegregated the military and the government workforce because he felt for both the underdog and those who fought for the country. Lyndon Johnson came from a segregationist upbringing to push through sweeping Civil Rights legislation because he believed it the right thing to do.

Few believe our current president capable of acting beyond his own self-interest. His own party has shown little inclination to hold him accountable. Which brings us to the end of Meacham’s book, where he offers advice. Among his recommendations: enter the arena, which is to say, pay attention and vote; resist tribalism, as little is accomplished or endures by one group acting alone; respect facts and deploy reason, which seems self-explanatory, but is becoming increasingly difficult; find a critical balance. By that, he means, “Being informed is more than knowing details and arguments. It also entails being humble enough to recognize that only on the rarest of occasions does any single camp have a monopoly on virtue or wisdom.” His last recommendation is, keep history in mind, as it provides, if not a guide, at least perspective beyond the here and now.

Meacham concluded: “For all our darker impulses, for all of our shortcomings, and for all the dreams denied and deferred, the experiment begun so long ago, carried out so imperfectly, is worth the fight. There is, in fact, no struggle more important, and none nobler, than the one we wage in the service of those better angels who, however besieged, are always ready for battle.”