Sunday, February 17, 2019

Monday, December 17, 2018


                                       Image result for springsteen on broadway

The long awaited "Springsteen on Broadway" concert film is now showing on Netflix for the price of a subscription, or free if you are on a limited trial. It is the bargain of the year, as the film is a wonderful recreation of the live experience of being at the show.

The original Broadway engagement, with its famously pricey tickets, also happened to be the bargain of the year for his die-hard fans, of which I am one. I was fortunate to get a ticket last January through the byzantine TicketMaster "Verified Fan" distribution setup. Even that was, in retrospect, well worth it.

The show I saw back in January was, as I described in my most certainly biased way, was absolutely transcendent. It was achingly intimate, with a connection between performer and audience that was beyond raw. It was an emotional joining between Bruce and his fans that was impossibly ramped up from the already intense bond with his audience he has always achieved during his "regular" arena shows.

The film has received great reviews, and deservedly so. I have an annoyingly critical eye, so the one or two jarring edits are probably imperceptible to most people, and except that I have mentioned them, are not worth mentioning(!).

Even as an old guy now, with my rock show days mostly in my rear view mirror, the film brought me back, with nostalgia and pathos, to those halcyon days when the road ahead was mostly an unknown. As Bruce tells it, at this stage of the game, and with more pieces of the puzzle in hand, looking back at the examined life is well worth the pain. And the tears.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Jello Pudding Pops and Tic Tacs


Sexual predators have certain defining characteristics. Often they have economic power over their prey. They isolate their victims when they strike. The scenario too often becomes a "he said, she said" affair. Humiliatingly enough, the victims are often blamed as the instigators, or their stories are simply not believed.

Bill Cosby is on trial now for raping a one-time protege of his. Apparently, his behavior goes back decades, as a string of victims has come forth with eerily identical stories of Cosby's methods of sexual abuse.  Trump's methods were caught on tape during his Presidential campaign, as he bragged about his style of victimizing women.

In Cosby's case, the accuser is a woman, and her story is being picked apart by high priced lawyers. The outcome of the case is still to be determined, but Cosby is now and will forever be known as a serial sexual abuser.

Trump's accuser, curiously enough is a man, James Comey, ex-head of the FBI. While not a case of sexual abuse, the methodology is strikingly familiar. In seeking to obstruct an investigation into his one-time  National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, Trump sought to isolate and intimidate Comey into doing his bidding.

Comey was savvy enough to document Trump's attempts to thwart justice and being fortunate enough to be a man, his story will carry a great deal more weight than if he were a woman. Such is the sorry state of our culture that a victim's gender would determine how their account of their victimization would be received.

Oddly enough, during testimony from Comey today, Senator Diane Feinstein wondered of Comey, "Why didn't you tell anybody about this?" She sounded just like a male police officer admonishing a female rape victim that her skirt was too short.

I guess you haven't come a long way, baby. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Things Unneeded


Marketers have been trying to sell unneeded things to gullible consumers for years.


Believe it or not, people buy the oddest things.


Why do people buy such unnecessary things?


Sometimes it's just a dumb fad.

Image result for todaytix

Sometimes it's just a con job.

TodayTix, the mobile app that caters to millennials that don't know how to buy Broadway theater tickets, now, after raising their fees, offers to sell tickets to shows up to thirty days in advance. That's a remarkable development in the same way that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Who knew that a service that offers LESS than the primary ticketing platforms could trumpet the fact that their services are, without exception, duplicative and unnecessary, yet spin them as innovative and novel?


I guess it's just all in the marketing.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Swamp Thing

                                        Scam Alert Cash Up Front

There's a scam that homeowners are warned about every now and then. Crews working neighborhoods ring bells and offer to do some sort of work, yard work, plumbing, anything like it. They will say that they have a special deal, but that it's a one day special, that they need to close the deal quickly so the work can begin.

As you may guess, when the job is paid upfront, the work may not ever get done. Or, more cash will be required because of unexpected difficulties in the job. Senior citizens are most often targeted for this con, but it can happen to anybody that will fall for it.

During his campaign for the Presidency, a signature issue for Donald Trump was that he'd build a wall on the southern border and "Mexico would pay for it".

Well, Donnie Boy wound up winning and he's trying to get something accomplished as the first one hundred days of his Presidency are coming to an end. Since Mexico has stated, in no uncertain terms, that they will most definitely not pay for Trump's Wall, the Donald is trying to have billions of dollars appropriated from a finance bill that is necessary to keep the government from running out of money. Trump wants American taxpayers to front the money for his wall, and he'll somehow get Mexico to pay us back down the line.

Once a con man, always a con man. How is this any different from the home repair scam? Convincing folks that they need work done and squeezing more and more money out of them to get the project done is a known and typical fraud. Looking at his record, it's clear to see that Trump is just as much of a fraud. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Looking Out for Number One


"How can Trump be in bed with the Russians when he just called them out for their ties to Syria? It doesn't make sense! He himself has called the relationship with Russia to be as bad as at the height of the cold war!"

You might think these were logical questions and statements that put the investigations into Trump's campaign ties to Russia and the sentiment of U.S. intelligence services conclusion that Russia did interfere in the U.S. Presidential elections into a whole new and skeptical light.

Well. logic be damned. Let's look at the facts.

Donald Trump has a long checkered and documented past of self-dealing in every way imaginable. From stiffing private contractors to abusive use of lawsuits, Trump is a known devious and dishonest manipulator. Just because the Russians may have helped him or simply preferred him to Hillary Clinton doesn't mean that when the chaos and ineptitude of Trump's still less than one hundred days old and derailing administration  that a nifty turn to military action in Syria and diplomatic name calling of the Russians wouldn't be just the tonic for the embattled Trump Administration.

Even now as he pushes out his buddy Steve Bannon, Trump will do what he must to survive. Skip out on payments to small businesses in Atlantic City? Check. Declare bankruptcy multiple times, leaving co-investors holding the bag? Check. Even throw your Russian patrons under the bus, in spite of having the election tilt your way with their help? No problemo.

It's just about the Donald, and it doesn't matter who he betrays when the going gets tough. And besides, the Russians may be crafty, but that doesn't make them smart. Getting in bed with the Trumpster may have felt good at the time, but now that Donnie-boy has shown a propensity for launching cruise missiles without the lawful assent of Congress, maybe Vladimir might be starting to have a bit of buyer's remorse right about now.

Just like a wistful bride with her hunky but abusive husband, maybe Vlad thought he could change him. We know how that scenario tends to play out, don't we?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fool Me Once

Image result for Fool Me once

Donald Trump has nominated for the Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch is a Federal Judge pre-approved by the radical conservative special interests that Trump was pandering to during his presidential campaign. Gorsuch is nominated for the slot that Senate Republicans denied to Merrick Garland, an Obama nominee, that resulted from the death of Antonin Scalia. The Supreme Court has been working short-handed for over a year.

It is in this toxic situation that Republicans hope to secure for themselves the "Conservative slot" of Scalia on the Court for themselves, by way of Gorsuch.

First off, this is a fiction wrapped in a lie. There is no such thing as a "Conservative slot", and the unconstitutional actions of the Republican majority were an embarrassment to this country. The Republican majority denied Judge Garland a hearing and a vote, and now, with the prospect of a Democratic filibuster to prevent Gorsuch the 60 votes needed for confirmation, there is talk of the "nuclear option". That would be a change in the Senate rules that would negate the right to filibuster by the minority and allow approval of a Supreme Court nomination with a simple majority.

The Republican majority can do this. They can change the rules. The Democrats did this when Republicans blocked all of President Obama's nominations for all manner of positions. The Democrats left in place only the sixty vote requirement for the Supreme Court.

With Democrats now a powerless minority, they have no way to prevent the Republicans from simply changing the rules on the Gorsuch nomination. Some are counseling the Democrats to hold off on the filibuster on the Gorsuch nomination. The rationale is that Gorsuch isn't so bad, that it's just a replacement for a "Conservative slot" on the court. They should save their filibuster for when Trump gets the opportunity to replace a liberal judge.

No, No, and NO!!!

Yes, it's true that the Democrats can't stop the Republicans from putting Gorsuch on the bench. But who in their right mind thinks that come some future situation, perhaps when the elderly and not in great health Judge Ginsburg retires or dies, that the Republicans won't use their majority to set rules that would allow yet another corporatist Conservative onto the court? Who in their right mind believes that the wretches that comprise the Republican majority in the Senate wouldn't gladly take Democrat acquiescence now and strong arm another horrendous Conservative cretinous nominee into the "Liberal slot" down the line?

This sort of strategy is exactly how the Democrats have allowed the gerrymandering of the country and created the sort of culture of losing that has long vexed the party.

The Democrats MUST stand united in resistance and defiance to any and all attempts by the Trump administration to hack away at the very foundations of our American values and culture. Have they learned nothing from the Republican debacle in their idiotic attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare? The Republicans are a party not at all interested in governing, and the Democrats must stand against their entire program. Democrats must use the Republicans own ineptitude against them.

If the Republicans want to ram through Gorsuch, let them. The Democrats can not be a part of the political appeasement of Trump or his minions.

As the country becomes aware of the results of Trump's platform, as it is implemented, there are two ways things may go. The country will either continue its descent into chaos, or there will be a new awakening to what has been taken from us. The rising up of the real majority, no longer in its comfortable stupor, will take back this country and restore its true greatness.

Sadly, the first option is set into motion so far. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Now It's In Public


Now we know what's been going on behind closed doors in the Trump Organization all these years. Lies and duplicity, disloyalty and all manner of slimy behavior. The stories about Trump and his business dealings are legion, and now that he is President, all of his worst machinations are on display for the country, and the world, to see.

The business world is run in a dog eat dog, Machiavellian way. No news there. The fact that Trump has operated his business through multiple bankruptcies, the stiffing of private contractors, and the bullying use of lawsuits has worked well for him in the private realm, clearly has no analogous method in the realm of governance.

All that's left, after a mere two-plus months into his tenure is the ragged and pervasive stench of failure with more than a pinch of corruption and treason. And instead of behind closed boardroom doors, it's all out in public view.    

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ebony and Ivory


For years, radical conservatives have described the drug problem in this country in terms of race. Minorities that used illegal drugs were considered less than human, unable to be productive members of society. Minorities lacked "family values" the conservatives said. Divorces, single mother led families, high crime rates, and joblessness were all the proof these conservatives needed to justify their racist beliefs.

Odd how now, nearly four decades into the "Reagan Revolution" and the near total collapse and destruction of the middle class, we are finding these same destructive social problems in white communities all across the midwest.

A news article today highlights the incredible drug overdose rate in West Virginia, of all places, a whiter state you'd have a hard time finding. With the advent of crystal meth, a cheap and powerful drug, deaths from drug overdoses are skyrocketing. A fund for aid to indigents funeral services has run out of cash because of the high rate of drug deaths. Funny, there is no talk of moral failings of these white communities that are now suffering from the same afflictions that minority communities have suffered from for decades.

Obviously, it is not and never has been a racial problem. It has always been a matter of economics. When minority families are oppressed by high rates of joblessness and suffer from the despair of no hope for better prospects, the very fabric of society frays and comes apart. Now that white communities across the country are facing the same conditions, the bonds of their communities are disintegrating and the results are remarkably similar. High divorce rates, poor education, joblessness and drug abuse are the scourge of whites, just as they have always been to minorities.

People are horrified when America is described as a racist society. Given what we've seen and now know to be true, it's time to accept the facts as they are. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Living the Lesson


Like many Asian industrial powers, South Korea has had great success in taking good ideas and making them better. In the consumer electronics realm, South Korean companies have made great strides in improving products with each new product cycle.

Politically, these economic powerhouses have used the blueprint of American democracy to enhance their standing in the world and to provide a secure economic environment for their well educated and upwardly mobile middle classes.

Now it is time for the student to instruct the teacher.

South Korea has impeached and removed from office their head of state. Corruption and political malfeasance justified the move and new elections will be held. There are defenders of the deposed President, but the mature populace has not resorted to violence. It is a textbook example of modern political maturity.

The United States has a similar situation. A democratically elected President is enmeshed in corrupt practices and foreign intrigue. His cabal of fascist advisors is enabling the crippling of the nation economically and politically. For the good of the country, the only logical solution is the impeachment and removal of President Trump.

Will this country live up to its principles and promises, or does this administration mark the unstoppable slide to oblivion of the great American experiment?

Stay tuned.