Friday, April 30, 2004

The Stupidity of Well-Heeled Businessmen (or, the forty-four cent hyphen)

Last week I searched iTunes for "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys," by Traffic and learned that I could not purchase the song for $.99, I had to purchase the entire album for $9.99.

I was incredulous. Why should I have to pay more for this song than any other song? That was not the deal as I understood iTunes' business plan.

Then I received an email from a friend who said he downloaded it for .99 by searching for the song without the hyphen between 'high' and 'heeled'!

So I tried it, and guess what: You can purchase "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" as a single, but if you want "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" you must buy the album.

The hyphenated version of the song is from the similarly named album, but the un-hyphenated (wow, is un-hyphenated really a hyphenated word?) version of the song is from the Steve Winwood Millennium Collection greatest hits album! Conveniently, they are the exact same version of the song!

I can only assume that because the original "Low Spark" LP included only seven cuts, they will not allow you to purchase all of them for .99 because then you would get the whole album for less than $9.99. iTunes can profit on single song sales from LPs with more than ten cuts, but will potentially lose money if a song has ten cuts or less! With only seven cuts, you could potentially purchase the entire "Low Spark" LP for $6.93; but, by forcing us to purchase the entire LP for $9.99, they are charging us $1.43 per cut.

Now, you might consider this nit-picking, and anyone who knows me knows that I could care less about the difference between $1.43 and .99. I have spent dramatically more money typing about it than it is worth. My point is not that I won't pay the extra .44, it is that iTunes should either sell songs for .99 or not. Don't nickel and dime me for a thirty year-old song. Nobody was going to purchase a single of "Low Spark" (hyphen or none) ever again! The .99 is a windfall for the distributors, publishers and artists!

I will do a little more research to see if other seven-cut LPs are sold in a similar fashion. If you find out, let us all know please.

In the meantime, please consider purchasing the un-hyphenated version of "Low Spark" because it's a great song!


Thursday, April 29, 2004

Al Gore Supports John Kerry

Although he supported Howard Dean in the beginning of the primary election season, Al Gore has come forth with six million dollars in campaign contributions and this statement:

"John will be a great president for all Americans, and I want to do everything I can to help him fight against the outrageous and misleading campaign being waged by the Bush-Cheney campaign," Gore said.

Though not yet an actual endorsement, this is a good thing.

Consider sending a donation to the Kerry Campaign

Here is some Yahoo! about the story

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Dear David Bowie,

When listening to my iTunes library I consider which songs should be added to a new playlist for my daughter as she grows-up. A moment ago, "Helden" came on and it made me smile. This is definitely a song I will add to her playlist!

What a great song. I remember when the "Heroes" LP was released: I was living in Minneapolis and I was the first person in my circle to buy it. The hip record store sold me the German RCA single with the picture sleeve of you looking all pout-y and blond and Germanic in a leather jacket. Was the song originally written in German, or was it written in English then translated? It sounds so German.

Tony Visconti did an excellent job producing it. I read that he placed microphones in a line several feet apart from each other and that's how the big, almost echo-y, sound was created. Is that true? (It's better than Phil Spector's 'wall of sound' productions!)

Brian Eno and Robert Fripp were great additions to your band. You always have such great bands. How do you form them? I never liked Reeves in your bands. He was great in Tin Machine, but I'm glad he's gone from your current line-ups.

I was always a huge Carlos Alomar fan, and I wish he was in your last few bands. Why isn't Carlos in your band anymore?

The mid-seventies was a great time that to be a Bowie fan: all the LPs in a row and the Iggy records and the tours and the television shows: Dinah Shore, Saturday Night Live, Bing Crosby, etc. I was very lucky to have been your fan then. Did you enjoy recording "Heroes" as much as I like listening to it?

Man, I love "Heroes" and "Helden" and so many of the other songs on that LP. Both will deffo go on my daughter's playlist. Thanks for them.

Dick Mac

P.S.: Why are you endorsing Nestle?

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Joke - Stevie Wonder and Tiger Woods

Stevie Wonder and Tiger Woods are in a bar. Woods turns to Wonder and says, "How's business?"

Stevie replies, "Not too bad. How's the golf?"

Woods replies, "Not too bad, I've had some problems with my swing, but I think I've got it going right now."

Stevie says, "I always find that when my swing goes wrong, I need to stop playing for a while and not think about it. Then, the next time I play, it seems to be all right."

Tiger says, "You play golf?"

Wonder says, "Oh, yes, I've been playing for years."

Woods says, "But you're blind! How do you play golf if you can't see?"

Wonder replies, "I get my caddy to stand in the middle of the fairway and call to me. I listen for the sound of his voice and play the ball toward him. Then when I get to where the ball lands, the caddy moves to the green or farther down the fairway and again I play the ball towards his voice."

"How do you putt?" asks Woods.

"Well," says Stevie, "I get my caddy to lean down in front of the hole and call to me with his head on the ground, and I just play the ball towards his voice."

Woods asks, "What's your handicap?"

Stevie says, "Well, I'm a scratch golfer."

Woods, incredulous, says to Stevie, "We've got to play a round sometime."

Wonder replies, "Well, people don't take me seriously, so I only play for money, and never play for less than $10,000 a hole."

Woods thinks about it and says, "OK, I'm game for that, when would you like to play?"

Stevie says, "I don't care, pick a night."

Monday, April 26, 2004

Michigan Law Will Let Doctors Refuse To Treat Homosexuals And Anyone Else They Don't Like

On April 21, 2004, in Lansing, Michigan, the republican-dominated legislature passed (69-35) the so-called "Conscientious Objector Policy Act" which means that health care providers, including doctors who have sworn an oath to heal the sick, can refuse treatment of a patient based on religious beliefs.

This is the most backward, inhumane law ever considered.

A Jew could refuse to treat a Muslim, a nurse could refuse to treat a homosexual, a white doctor could refuse to treat a person of color . . . the list could go on.

The Michigan Catholic Conference was watching from the gallery and had just hosted a lovely legislative day for themselves on the grounds of a public building (in clear violation of the United States Constitution), and have been exerting pressure on Michigan legislatures to pass this wholly unChristian law.

Imagine your gay or lesbian friend or relative calls an ambulance because they are in a medical emergency, the ambulance crew can refuse to help them because they object to homosexuality! Imagine a black teenager is on a stretcher in an emergency room because he's been shot by a cop or in a gangwar, the doctor can refuse to treat him because he thinks blacks are inferior to whites. Imagine a Muslim police officer is injured in the line of duty, a Jewish doctor can refuse to treat him based on religious conflict.

Now . . . this will never happen to a black person or a religious minority, because this law is designed to marginalized homosexuals. Since the church can't call for outright extermination of homosexuals, they have decided to take the next best approach: refusal of medical treatment.

In New York City, St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Center and Hospital was, and is, one of the country's leading institutions in the fight against AIDS. Would the Catholic Church have St. Vincent's stop this most-Christlike work?

If the Catholic Church does not want homosexuals in its buildings, it should close its doors; but it should keep their hands off our laws.

How any Catholic can sleep at night knowing that their money is being used for this unChristian work is beyond me.

If you are Catholic, please call your local priest and ask him if he knows about this and what he thinks of it.

If you are a health care professional, please contact your professional association inquire about their position, and demand they work to stop this.

If you are a Michigan resident, please contact your elected officials and tell them you object to this law.

Here are some links:

First Amendment Center Article Article

Send feedback to the American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs

If you are in Michigan, this is the Opinion form for the Michigan governor

Friday, April 23, 2004

Favorite Songs

We all have favorite songs. As of right now, these are mine:

  1. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Tears Of A Clown

  2. David Bowie - "Heroes"

  3. Barbara Lewis - Baby I'm Yours

  4. Lulu - To Sir With Love

  5. Freda Payne - Band Of Gold

  6. Billie Holiday - God Bless The Child

  7. Diana Ross & The Supremes - Love Child

  8. The Temptations - (It's Just My) Imagination

  9. Lou Reed - Walk On The Wild Side

  10. Aretha Franklin - Respect

  11. John Lennon Plastic Ono Band - Power To The People

  12. Diana Ross & The Supremes - Someday We'll Be Together

  13. Blondie - X-Offender

  14. Iggy Pop - Lust For Life

  15. The Kinks - Lola

  16. Bruce Springsteen - Incident On 57th Street

  17. Sex Pistols - Pretty Vacant

  18. New York Dolls - Lonely Planet Boy

  19. David Bowie - Rebel, Rebel

  20. T.Rex - Bang-A-Gong (Get It On)

  21. Iggy Pop - China Girl

  22. Diana Ross & The Supremes - Back In My Arms Again

  23. Roxy Music - Virginia Plain

  24. Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

  25. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Blank Generation

  26. Four Tops - Bernadette

  27. Ella Fitzgerald - Summertime

  28. Brian Eno - Baby's On Fire

  29. The Kingsmen - Louie, Louie

  30. The Ronettes - Be My Baby

  31. David Bowie - Changes

  32. Sly & The Family Stone - I Wanna Take You Higher

  33. Dead Boys - Sonic Reducer

  34. Rolling Stones - Bitch

  35. New York Doll - Mystery Girls

  36. Patti Smith Group - Gloria (in excelsis deo)

  37. The Jackson Five - The Love You Save

  38. Rolling Stones - You Can't Always Get What You Want

  39. James Brown - I Got The Feeling

  40. Dionne Warwick - Do You Know The Way To San Jose

  41. The Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated

  42. David Bowie - Space Oddity

  43. Derek & The Dominoes - Layla

  44. Lou Reed - Street Hassle

  45. Roxy Music - Do The Strand

  46. New York Dolls - Personality Crisis

  47. Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart

  48. Human Sexual Response - Jackie Onassis

  49. Rolling Stones - Memo From Turner

  50. Big Brother - Little Girl Blue

  51. The Box Tops - The Letter

  52. The Dictators - (I Live For) Cars And Girls

  53. David Bowie - Panic In Detroit

  54. David Johannsen Group - Funky But Chic

  55. Dead Kennedys - Holiday In Cambodia

  56. Michael Jackson - Thriller

  57. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Crosstown Traffic

  58. David Bowie - Young Americans

  59. Iggy Pop - Sister Midnight

  60. Dionne Warwick - I'll Never Fall In Love Again

  61. Was (Not Was) - Out Come The Freaks

  62. The Specials - Stupid Marriage

  63. Rolling Stones - Shattered

  64. Style Council - My Ever Changing Moods

  65. Johnny Thunders - Stay With Me

  66. James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good)

  67. David Johannsen Group - Frenchette

  68. The Cure - Let's Go To Bed

  69. Black Sabbath - Fairies Wear Boots

  70. Carly Simon - You're So Vain

  71. Devo - Jocko Homo

  72. Tin Machine - Amazing

  73. Echo & The Bunnymen - Bring On The Dancing Horses

  74. Rancid - Time Bomb

  75. Van Morrison - Jackie Wilson Said

  76. Rolling Stones - Symapthy For The Devil

  77. 10cc - I'm Not In Love

  78. Bruce Springsteen - Rosalita

  79. Roberta Flack - Reverend Lee

  80. Nick Lowe - Cruel To Be Kind

  81. The Who - Substitute

  82. New Order - Blue Monday

  83. Bob Marley & The Wailers - I Shot The Sheriff

  84. Television - See No Evil

  85. Grandmaster Flash - White Lines

  86. Elvis Costello - Alison

  87. The Beatles - Happiness Is A Warm Gun

  88. Bob Marley & The Wailers - No Woman, No Cry

  89. Traffic - Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys

  90. Velvet Underground - Pale Blue Eyes

  91. Squeeze - Cool For Cats

  92. ? and The Mysterians - 96 Tears

  93. Garland Jeffreys - Christine

  94. Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds

  95. Mission of Burma - Academy Fight Song

  96. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Little Wing

  97. The Who - My Generation

  98. Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive

  99. Jackson Five - ABC

  100. Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On

  101. Sly & The Family Stone - Everyday People

  102. Friends Of Distinction - Grazing In The Grass

  103. Carl Douglas - Kung-Fu Fighting

  104. Them - Gloria

  105. Big Brother & The Holding Company - Piece Of My Heart

  106. Lou Rawls - On Broadway

  107. Prince - Little Red Corvette

  108. Bauhaus - Bella Lagosi's Dead

  109. Bobbie Gentry - Ode To Billie Joe

  110. The Seekers - Georgy Girl

  111. Derek & The Dominoes - Bell Bottom Blues

  112. Vickie Sue Robinson - Turn The Beat Around

  113. Velvet Underground - Heroin

  114. Todd Rundgren - Real Man

  115. The Jam - Going Underground

  116. Madonna - Holiday

My list changes by the day. Does yours?


Thursday, April 22, 2004


How do you store your music collection? I don't mean in drawers or on shelves, I mean: in what order?

Do you sort by genre? Alphabetically? Is it unsorted?

I am a fan of the alphabetical method, and it all seemed very clear to me when I kept my own collection in order. Then last year, Mrs. Mac hired a decorator who came in to help her re-do and sort-out the entire apartment. It was money well-spent. All the windows were re-done and the entire art collection was re-hung, some furniture was moved about, and the entertainment center was re-organized.

I had my reservations about another person alphabetizing my CDs, but I decided to keep my reservations to myself. I was pleasantly surprised by a few things and miffed about another.

It all got me thinking about the many ways to sort the CDs:

Do the individual members of a band get sorted in with the band? Does John Lennon get sorted in with The Beatles? Does Sting get sorted in with The Police? Does Tin Machine go under David Bowie or after The Time? And what about the numerals? Does the band 999 get placed numerically before the letter A, or within the letter N? Do the CDs then get sorted chronologically or alphabetically within each artist? Then there are the singles! What about singles? In the analog days of vinyl, the singles and the LPs were always filed separately because they were different sizes, now in the digital age they are the same size. I always filed my 12" singles separately from the LPs because they were often "dance" mixes that I wanted all together when doing the mixed dance segues. So, do the singles get sorted in with the full-length releases? What about classical music and operas? Are they sorted separately? Do they get sorted by composer or performer or vocalist? Where do compilations go? And the big argument: Does Iggy Pop get filed under I or P?

How do you sort your collection?

I was impressed by Mrs. Mac's man. He sorted Tin Machine in with David Bowie, and he sorted The Police in with Sting. John Lennon was NOT with The Beatles. But Iggy Pop was under P and I always filed Iggy under I. The operas and symphonies were sorted by composer. Singles were sorted in with the artists' full-length releases. There was no sorting within the artist. It was a big job, and he did it well.

So my collection is sorted from Ace to Zappa, with the compilations after that, and the holiday music at the end. I have left Iggy mis-filed under Pop, but I know that will change one day!


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

It's Not The Side-Effects Of Her Cooking . . .

My love for songs has focused more on the words of songs and not the music of songs. I'm a word person who can't play any instrument. (I can't even tap my hands or feet to keep time to a song.)

There are many modern instrumental releases I like, even though I prefer lyrics. The first instrumental record I owned was probably "Wipeout" and then began an odd fascination with the songs of The Ventures. My first Ventures LP was an orange gatefold package with a picture of a blonde girl in a striped bikini. Although my first exposure to instrumental songs was in the surf-music genre, I never took much to surf songs. There are few genres with lyrics as insipid as that of Southern California surfer-boy songs.

Focusing more on the words of songs rather than the overall sound of songs has led me to a fan of singers as diverse as Karen Carpenter and David Bowie (though some might say that is not a big leap) and songwriters generations apart like Rodgers & Hart and Holland, Dozier & Holland.

I like songs that tell stories, which means I generally like songs with lots of words. I think David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen write these kinds of songs much better than anyone else of their generation. Long songs with storylines and plots and themes and music that changes dramatically within five or six or ten minutes.

I was surprised to learn that The Beatles' "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" LP was the first album to include a lyric sheet! Prior to that, you bought a copy of the sheet music if you were unable to discern the words to your favorite new song. In the sixties, I started buying magazines that re-printed the lyrics to all the top hits of the day (they were not always accurate). I have been scorned for not knowing the correct words to a song. It is most embarrassing when I mistake the lyrics of an artist whose work I know and adore.

In 1977, I was sitting at a garden cafe on Castro Street in San Francisco with a bunch of other teenagers and twenty-somethings, singing along to the music playing over the loudspeakers. The sun was shining, the double lattes were flowing, the reefer was passed about, and suddenly David Bowie's "Station To Station" began playing. We all knew all the words and we sang along . . . and then it happened . . . everyone was holding their coffee cups in the air singing: "Drink, drink, drain your glass, raise your glass high . . . " The rhythm of the music changed for the next line and everyone sang "It's not the side-effects of the cocaine . . . "

Except me! I sang "It's not the side-effects of her cooking . . . "

Everyone first went silent and then burst out laughing about my gaffe.

I had been singing this song incorrectly for the two years I had known it! Sometimes when singing along to the song while alone at home, I still make the same mistake.

Please post what lyrics you have misheard!


A great website about misheard lyrics is Kiss This Guy

Here are the lyrics to "Station To Station" at the Teenage Wildlife site

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Fair Is Fair

In the early-seventies, my musical taste really started to broaden. I added a host of non-Detroit acts to my record-player repertoire. Songs loaded with sexual innuendo or sexual ambiguity were high on my list: The Kinks' "Lola," Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side," David Bowie's "Sweet Thing," T.Rex's "Girl."

Then Bruce Springsteen's "Incident On 57th Street" and its references to "barefoot street boys" and "gold-heeled fairies in a real bitch fight pulling .38s," and Traffic's "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" where a businessman is killed, but "it wasn't the bullet that laid him to rest was the low spark of high-heeled boys," added that edge of violence to cross-gender, mixed-up sexuality that appealed to me.

It was my memory of Traffic's "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" that has prompted me to write about music publishing and fairness.

I have never been a fan of bootleg music, it's just always seemed wrong to me, and my friends will tell you how strongly I feel about it. Simply put: I am not a fan of stealing, so I don't steal. If I want something, I buy it; if I cannot afford it, I save for it or forget about it.

When file-swapping came to the internet, I never participated. Napster and Kazaa didn't appeal to me because it was stealing. Almost everyone I know participated, and I have no problem with that. If you want to steal, it is none of my business and it is unlikely that I will think any more or less of you because you steal Eminem songs (well, I might think less of you for liking Eminem, but that's a different blog). So, I was not moved when Napster was shut-down. File-swapping is not fair.

I don't think the RIAA's campaign against file-swapping is a noble one! I think the RIAA is scum. Let's be really clear about the truth of artist royalties and file-swapping and the RIAA: artists lost very little when Napster was going strong, because artists get very little from the sale and airplay of their records. The RIAA is protecting the corporations that publish the songs you love and they do very little to guarantee that artists get money for their labor. Anything you read from the RIAA should be summarily dismissed, because although it might be legally accurate, it is spun to make you believe they are helping the little guy and the RIAA has never met a little guy to whom they would not condescend and then squash!

See my Christmas Day 2003 article for further discussion and more links about the scum at the RIAA.

When I was a member of an online rock-star fansite, the star himself was always happy to receive bootleg copies of his concerts. This star, who is a BIG rock star, was not threatened by bootlegging or file-swapping or the trading of his concerts by fans. While a member of this fansite, I received a number of bootleg CDs from other members, and I am comfortable owning them because I know the star himself also owns (or can own) them, does not object to his fans trading them, and it is not preventing him from making money on the live concert recordings he is selling.

But . . . back to my fascination with songs about transvestites, violence, and male sexuality . . . or not . . .

I don't own an iPod, because I stopped needing to cut myself off from the world a few years ago. I used to say that I used a 'walkman' to listen to music I loved, and avoid the conversations of those around me. The spiritual bankruptcy of my position helped me realize that the noise around me is the world in which I live, and even if I don't like what I hear, it is wise to know the world in which I live. So, I stopped using a 'walkman/discman' over ten years ago. The invention of the iPod is not important to me.

iTunes, on the other hand, is a brilliant invention that I adore. I used RealONE as a PC-jukebox, but iTunes raised the stakes by offering online shopping for individual songs and albums! Through iTunes, I can download a song for ninety-nine cents! Though I have only purchased forty-six songs, I know I will purchase more. This is fair!

iTunes, Real, and the new Napster have succeeded at undermining the file-swapping industry by offering individual songs at a low price. I don't necessarily want to purchase an entire album from my youth on CD. I want one song, not 12, and I love the notion of paying ninety-nine cents for the song I want.

Last week I searched for "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" and when I tried to "Add Song" the button only said "View Album." When I clicked to proceed, the song was listed as "Album Only"! I cannot purchase the song I want for .99, I must buy all seven songs for $9.99, which means that each song now costs $1.43. Now, that is not a lot of money, but it is not the deal iTunes put forth. This is not fair.

Why do I have to pay more for "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" than I have to pay for "Sweet Thing" or "Lola" or "Incident on 57th Street"? This is a big mistake. Whoever made this decision should be terminated from their job. Leave it to the corporate world to put forth a great product, then undermine it with avaricious details.

I do not have "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" on my PC today; but I will have it on my PC soon. I can search through my box of tapes and find an old copy of it, then rip it to MP3 and I will have the song I want. I can ask a friend to rip an MP3 for me and then put it on my PC. Sure, it might not be perfect digital sound, but I hate perfect digital sound. I like the sound of vinyl music. My point being that I am happy to purchase the song using the iTunes paradigm, but you are changing the rules in the middle of the game by trying to force me to purchase the entire thirty-year-old album, and this is not fair!

More importantly though, the artist doesn't get to sell me his song. I will not buy the entire "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" album just to get a digital version of "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" song. I want to give Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi the money they deserve in this new music paradigm, but now they can't have it.

To hell corporate music anyhow! I'm going back to my Jimmy Haig Experience CD, NN Maddox "Long Island Baby", and to working on my own release. Who needs the RIAA and iTunes? Make your own CDs and enjoy yourself!


Monday, April 19, 2004

Friday Night Dances

I love songs. Throughout my childhood, my mother sang songs. Nobody in my family can carry a tune in a bucket, but we love songs. I am not an audiophile, I can't tell surround-sound from quadrophonics from Dolby and, honestly, I don't know what most of it means. I just like songs.

I got my love of songs from my mother. Whenever a new word was mentioned, my mother would define it, explain it to us, and she usually knew a song that included the word, so it was always a combination vocabulary lesson, grammar lesson, and pop culture moment. I think she knew a song for every state in the United States and every major city in the world.

My love of songs translated to a love of the music industry. I started buying records young. The first single I bought was "Glad All Over," by the Dave Clark Five. I bought it for sixty-nine cents at Sears Roebuck on Park Drive in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, which was walking distance from the projects where we lived. Whenever my friends and I would go there, I would insist that we take the elevator to the seventh floor where the electric guitars were on display.

My friends never wanted to make that journey to the musical instruments floor, because we were always dismissed by the sales staff and chased back onto the elevator. They knew the kids form the projects had no money to buy guitars, and we got in the way of those who might better afford that baby blue Fender. Now and then, though, I could convince someone to join me and I would gaze in awe at the guitars and organs and drum sets.

I loved the idea of music companies and factories pressing records and radio stations and recording studios; and although I never pursued it as a career, the music industry remains a hobby of mine. I like to meet rock stars, but I prefer to meet producers. I like to meet singers, but I prefer to meet songwriters. I love to listen to a lead vocal that leaves me in awe, but I prefer to find a sophisticated background vocal nobody else has noticed. This all came from my mother.

My mother's fascination with music sparked her to take on the task of chaperoning the Friday night dances at Building 19, in the projects. (This Building 19 was a community hall that bears no relation to the chain of retail stores that appeared some years later.) This task meant organizing, setting-up, running, chaperoning, breaking-down, and cleaning-up. It was a big job. My mother was a member of the local community council that received funding from various agencies and charities, mostly through Lyndon Johnson's poverty programs and Harvard University's School of Public Health And Ever-Expanding Medical Centers. This money was used to fund activities to keep kids from stabbing each other to death. It mostly worked, and the Friday night dances were one way to keep the teenagers off the streets for a few hours.

What these dances meant for me was not only a chance to stay out really late on a Friday night, not only a chance to do the Madison and the Monkey and the Cool Jerk and the Pony with the local teenage girls, not only a chance to sit near the leather-jacket-clad teenage boys who talked about broads and booze and cars and knives and sex, it gave me 24-hour access to the record collection played at the dances! Not only did I have access to my mother's record collection that included Bizet's "Carmen" and Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite" and a load of George Shearing and Billie Holiday and Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland and The Beatles, and my meager collection of singles by the Dave Clark Five and the Rolling Stones and James Brown and Wilson Pickett and The Esquires and The Supremes, but there was an entire box of 45s at my disposal. It seemed like thousands of records were in that box, but I am certain it was only a hundred or so.

Most of the 45s were promo copies donated by music distributors and radio stations, so they had the same song on both sides (one side mono and one stereo); but every now and then the guys would add their own singles or pool their money to buy a particular record for the dance, and I would listen to the B-side of each one.

For the life of me, I can't remember a single song right now. I guess the flip side of "96 Tears" made no impression on me, nor did the flip side of "Funky Broadway"! That is neither here nor there. I guess it's just fun to remember that huge public hall filled with a hundred teenagers lined up doing the Madison, everyone in step, hands all clapping at exactly the same time, feet stomping or skipping at the same moment. Girls giggling and smoking and boys trying to look hard. Great haircuts and tight skirts. Being out of breath from dancing too fast to "Wipeout"!

In 1968, the dances were cancelled halfway through the summer. Although the dances made it through the previous summer unaffected by the urban violence and race riots that ripped through every major American city, we weren't so lucky in 1968.

The racial divide in the projects was palpable. As more Southern blacks migrated North and moved into the already over-crowded housing projects, white families fled to the out-lying neighborhoods like Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury or the nearby-suburbs of Quincy, Braintree and Milton. During the Summer of 1968 I saw teenage boys stab each other because they were black or white. I saw the police beat the crap out of teenagers of any stripe. I learned about the Tactical Police Force and K-9 Units and tear gas. I saw the National Guard with military weapons on the streets. I heard horror stories about black men hanged in the playground and white women raped on their way home from work.

I listened to "I Wish It Would Rain" as all my friends moved away. I listened to "I Say A Little Prayer" and I heard my mother's whispered conversations with the few remaining friends about how to get out of the projects. I listened to "Get On Up" and heard the grown-ups talk about Nixon's threats to slash funding for public housing and welfare assistance (promises he kept). I watched the maintenance men refuse to come to work because they were robbed and beaten by those now inhabiting the projects, many of whom were not legal residents, and I listened to "Forever Came Today." I watched the fences come down and the lawns turn brown and the trees and shrubs get sick and die and I listened to "Jumpin' Jack Flash." I watched the incinerators stop functioning and the garbage begin to pile-up like mountains and I listened to "Tracks Of My Tears." I listened to "Love Child" and my uncle Joe begged my mother to get us out of the projects before it was too late.

We were one of the last white families to leave the projects. I didn't want to go. It was what I knew and I was listening to "Bernadette." We moved to Forest Hills. It seemed safe. I got Roberta Flack "Chapter Two" and T.Rex "Electric Warrior" and everything started to change. Freda Payne sang "Band Of Gold" and "Bring The Boys Home." The Supremes sang "Stoned Love" and the world seemed really different.

Much has happened since 1970, and there are always songs.

I look at my watch it says 9:25 and I think "Oh God I'm still alive"

Friday, April 16, 2004

Sleep Deprivation

Do you remember those first few times you stayed awake later than you were supposed to? Like all night!

The first time I stayed up all night I watched the WCVB-TV Channel 5, Boston, broadcast of "Five All Night" starring George Fennel. Uncle George, as he came to be known, was a hero to underage stoners, third-shift workers, and adult insomniacs throughout metropolitan Boston. This was the first all-night broadcast of television in the Boston market.

Uncle George would sit in a high director's chair, backlit, in a cowboy hat, so all you saw was a silhouette. He chatted about this and that and gossiped about the movie being shown, and he spoke in that early-70s FM radio voice: very controlled and serious, but ironic and fun-loving at the same time (I recall Tommy Hadjis at WBCN-FM). The broadcast was mostly old movies, and I saw more Charlie Chan movies watching Five All Night than I thought existed.

Later in life the all-nighters were usually connected to a long road-trip or a party. Rarely did I watch television. Then came the professional commitments when a crisis could require a thirty-hour day. Until yesterday, my last all-nighter fell into this category: trying to get a newly-installed computer network in Warsaw, Poland, to function properly. It was just as fruitful as an all-night party, without the benefit of the drugs and drunk English girls.

The night before last began the newest chapter in my life: the arrival of an infant daughter. No previous experiences with staying up all night prepared me for this. Sure, those earlier all-nighters included this same double-vision and this feeling that the inside of my face is sandpaper; but, I never had sleep deprivation bring me so much joy.

There is nothing better than being awoken by the sound of a tiny infant calling for you.

Ooops . . . there she is now . . .


Thursday, April 15, 2004

Bush Loves Fundamentalists, Even Jews!

Fundamentalism isn't really terribly popular with American Jews. Even with the dramatic increase in Jewish republicans the last thirty years (guess they never heard about any twentieth century right-wing movements), most Jews in the United States remain rather secular and not terribly entrenched in issues of their religion being better than anyone else's.

I guess the most obvious display of Jewish fundamentalism is the promotion of Zionism in the Middle East as evidenced by the ever-expanding state of Israel. Although you'll see and hear a lot of posturing about Israel in the United States, Jewish fundamentalism is not as obviously dangerous to the American citizenry as born-again christian fundamentalism. Actually, right after the Taliban, you are unlikely to find any more dangerous group of religious fanatics than American christian fundamentalists. The focus of Jewish fundamentalism is really outside of the United States.

As a leftist, I find the issues of the Israel/Palestine conflict to be very difficult. I do not oppose a homeland for Jews, but I am an anti-theocrat, so a Zionist government is not really acceptable to me (especially at the expense of an entire population of people whose homeland has been given to a bunch of Europeans).

(Come to think of it: is there a big difference between what Europeans did in North America in the 17th century and what Europeans are doing in the Middle East today? Maybe not!)

I do believe it is impossible for a Zionist government in the Middle East to make room for non-Jews, and this is intrinsically bad.

I think all stripes of government based on religion are dangerous. Sadly, fundamentalists will often say that if you are anti-Zionist, you are anti-Jewish. This is patently absurd. Saying anti-Zionist is the same as anti-Jewish is like saying you support abortion because you do not object to it. This is illogical, of course; but nobody ever accused fundamentalists or Zionists of being logical. After all, these are people who think the beautiful writings and teachings of the bible and Koran are actual history and law!

The current leader of American christian fundamentalism is also the current American president. I would not like to hear what he thinks about Jews. I think it might anger me. I suspect he is not a fan; but, I am willing to be wrong about this. Fundamentalist Jews probably think very highly of the current American president (most fundamentalists do).

Yesterday the current American president told Israel they could keep all the Arab land they have acquired through military force since 1967.

"In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." Ariel Sharon was standing right next to him. So, it is now official American policy that Israel can keep as much land as they like. Do you think they will stop here? Do fundamentalists ever stop when they have been given what they want? No! They push harder and further with more vengeance and hate than ever before.

I am certain that Mr. Sharon will encourage American Jews to re-elect such a great pro-Zionist president. Sadly, a huge number of Jews will vote to re-elect the current American president, irrespective of the anti-Jewish positions of American christian fundamentalists. If the current fundamentalist movement in America continues as it has, they will attempt to make Christianity the official religion of the United States? I really think they will try this. If they succeed, where will that leave all the republican Jews?

Enjoy your "tax cuts" while you can.

Here's a little Yahoo! about the president's remarks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

A Sensible Remark About The Quagmire That Is Iraq

"We need to set a new course in Iraq. We need to internationalize the effort and put an end to the American occupation. We need to open up the reconstruction of Iraq to other countries. We need a real transfer of political power to the U.N."
- Senator John Kerry (D-MA)

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


I awoke this morning remembering my trip to Florence in September, 2001.

Mrs. Mac and I were wrapping-up our assignments in London, expecting to fly back to New York in mid-September, so we took a five day trip to Milan and Florence as a farewell to Europe.

All of my life, my mother had made such a big deal of Michelangelo's David that we had originally planned for her to come to London so the three of us could go to Florence and see David. Sadly, my mother died on the Ides of March 2001, and left this world not seeing the only statue she ever wanted to view.

The only thing higher on her list had been seeing the Grand Canyon, which she did. Throughout my childhood, my mother would play a record of "Grand Canyon Suite" and I can still hear the lazy, sun-drenched melodies on the tiny record player, complete with the scratchiness that makes vinyl so much better than CDs. For her fiftieth birthday, we sent her off to the Grand Canyon for a week-long tour. She came home with all the perfect tourist items: cowboy boots and pictures of herself shooting the rapids, and trinkets, and a sunburn. She had a wonderful time and it made me very happy to see her so happy.

So it is with a certain amount of melancholy that I recall my trip to Florence without her. I saw David without her. I stood in the gallery and wept quietly thinking of how it might have been different if my mother was standing with me.

David is amazing. Florence is amazing. I recommend seeing both. The original statue of David lives in Florence at the Galleria dell'Accademia and a copy is in Piazza Signoria, and can be viewed 24-hours a day.

I am glad my mother loved Michelangelo's David, because it prompted my trip to Florence. If your mother asks to see something, take her to see it before you can not.


A virtual tour of David

Monday, April 12, 2004

The Cost of A Gallon Of Gas

When war strikes, all economies (including that of the aggressor) are stressed. There is hardly a time in modern-day capitalism that a nation has had a boom economy during wartime.

We are fighting our current war over the control of oil fields in Southern Iraq. (In case you haven't figured it out yet: Iraq has never been a terrorist threat.) There are a lot of oil fields in Iraq. Control of those fields means lots of money for the economy of the nation that controls them! Any decent person would surmise that our acquisition of more oil will drive down the price here in America, because American businessmen will control it.

Sadly, with gas prices reaching $1.90 a gallon (still the cheapest in the Western world), and Reagan-era deregulation in full swing, we are paying higher prices for gasoline than we have ever paid before, and we are funding this immoral war for its acquisition with our tax dollars.

I learned today that the highest gas prices are in San Diego and Southern California. There is something eerily satisfying about gas prices being highest in the part of the country that is the most right-wing and proffers the strongest support for the current American president and the rise of fundamentalism in America. Hell, Orange County makes Texas look liberal!

Back to deregulation! Deregulation promised us that more competition would drive prices down, and deregulation industries would mean more companies providing the deregulated commodity or service. Sadly, this has never happened. Every deregulated industry has conglomerated and prices have gone through the roof!

Industry is always regulated. What Reagan and his followers have done is taken regulation away from the government, who had successfully used regulation to protect consumers, and given that regulatory power to the industry leaders, whose only interest is raising profits and increasing the salaries of those sitting at the top of the management chain and their friends (often former presidents and senators) sitting on the boards of directors.

What this means is that deregulation has been a total failure, but we continue electing officials who promote deregulation.

It is not illogical to think that American control of the oil in Iraq (which control is funded by our taxes) will help drive down the cost of gas. It is incorrect to think this, because the deregulated energy industry will continue to raise the cost while lying to us that the problem is taxes.

So, we have sent our children to die and kill and Iraq. We are paying a fortune to acquire oil that will be processed into gasoline and sold back to us at ridiculously inflated prices.

In closing, I offer once again the fact that the fundamentalists currently controlling the federal administration are oil men. They have every intention of using patriotism, homophobia, racism, abortion, and new-fangled christianity to scare people into voting for them. Please don't vote for them!


Friday, April 09, 2004

More Odd Bedfellows: Howard Stern and Clear Channel

Or maybe not so odd, really!

Today there is a schism between two Republican superstars. Howard Stern, the dullest person ever to grace the airwaves and a self-declared Republican throughout his rise to power, and Clear Channel, the corporation trying to make American entertainment duller than fundamentalist Islam, are mad at each other!

Stern said some 'dirty' stuff on the radio and Clear Channel was fined for airing it. Clear Channel doesn't really worry about the money, but Stern isn't really presenting an image that Clear Channel thinks is good for America.

I want to take Stern's side. I really do. By default, I do take Stern's side, but I do it begrudgingly. I deplore all censorship. I don't like Howard Stern and I hope he suffers terribly from this, because he promotes the mentality that has got him into this quagmire. I wish HE was forced to pay the bogus half-million dollar fine!

Stern has spent his rise to power as a so-called "shock-jock" promoting neo-conservativism while dressing it up with tit-jokes and a sophomoric fascination with lesbianism. I never understood how his dreary homophobia, insensitivity and self-serving deprecation of those around him became so popular. All the time, he bragged about being a Republican.

His wildly popular, if totally boring, radio show attracted a primarily young audience. So, the people giggling at his tit jokes and fag jokes were too young to vote or had recently come of voting age. Stern's presentation of himself as "hip" and "cool" because he was some kind of a bad boy earning millions by talking about women's breasts made him a hero to this group of young men.

What was his advice? Was it "enjoy sex"? Was it "accept sexuality as a good part of the human experience"? Was his message a message of hope for children who felt out of the mainstream? No! He never presented a positive message. His message was that liberals were whiners and that people should vote Republican and he likes tits.

Thankfully, that has backfired. Because Howard Stern has now learned the lesson that others will learn. Republicans want conformity. Republicans want everyone to be white, and white-bread, and corporate, and christian, and quiet.

Stern wanted it both ways, but can't have it. He can't be a tit-giggle-radical and a neo-conservative. There is no real community of tit-giggle-radicals, and the neo-conservative community will have no part of scum like Stern.

Let's take this a step further, to what my friends like to call my over-simplification of our culture's dangerous trend towards total conservatism:

Gay republicans should beware! The neo-cons will take your money and your votes, but the door will be slammed in your face as soon as you want to enjoy the same benefits that heterosexual republicans enjoy: like the Constitution!

Jewish republicans beware! The neo-cons will take your money and your votes, but once you finish helping them make Christianity the official religion of the United States, the door will be slammed in your face.

Black republicans beware! The neo-cons will take your money and your votes, but the door will be slammed in your face as soon as you want the same things white Republicans enjoy: good schools, for example, or a fair shot at keeping your sons off the front lines of military offensives.

Female republicans beware! The neo-cons will take your money and your votes, but the door will be slammed shut in your face as soon as you are unable or unwilling to remain barefoot and pregnant.

Catholic republicans beware! The neo-cons will take your money and your votes, but once you finish helping them pass new abortion laws and laws against homosexuals, the door will be slammed shut in your face.

The neo-conservative movement wants Jews, women, blacks, homosexuals, and Catholics to do their bidding; but if you are not a white, male, heterosexual born-again christian fundamentalist, I don't think the future looks to rosy for you within the Republican party.

So what does all of this have to do with Stern and Clear Channel? Well they have both been promoting neo-conservatism for quite some time now. It's working-out very well for Clear Channel. For Stern? Not so well.

Maybe Stern has nothing to be blamed for here, maybe I should be deploring his victimization; but I can't. He has helped establish this culture of corporate greed and insensitivity, and now he wants to cry "do-over, do-over, do-over" because he has been betrayed by the neo-conservatives he has helped empower.

I hope Stern tosses and turns at night trying to convince himself that proclaiming his republicanism (neo-conservatism) over the years has helped turn an entire generation of young white men into the newest class of hateful Republicans furthering the same neo-conservative movement that is trying to silence Stern himself today.

Howard Stern, SCREW! Go away! Don't come around proclaiming yourself a Democrat or a liberal or an independent now that your plan has backfired. Go hang with Condasleezebag and George W and Jerry Falwell and all the other slime you have been empowering these past years. I hope you never work again not because you are bad, but because you are dull!

Here's a Yahoo article about this situation

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Homeland Security For Pittsburgh

After the devastating events of 9/11, the current American president promised to take care of New York. Money would be made available, he said. One of the lesser scumbags, Rudolph Giuliani, was on television and radio proclaiming we would get the perpetrators, and his friends in Washington were going to take care of us.

Well, as a resident of New York I must say that the current American president has done a pitiful job getting funds to New York. The Homeland Security budget was increased $1.4 billion to fund anti-terrorism security programs in America's so-called "high-risk cities." Jack Newfield writes in this week's issue of the The Nation: " . . . fifty cities are still designated as high risk, so New York's share is only $94 million--a fraction of what is needed. On a per capita basis, New York State ranks forty-ninth among the states in antiterrorist funding, far below rural, sparsely populated Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. According to the New York Daily News, New York is also forty-ninth in per capita funding among cities: $5.87 per person. Compare that with $35.80 for Pittsburgh. But then, Tom Ridge was governor of Pennsylvania. Or look at Florida, where Jeb Bush is governor. Miami gets $52.82 per person. Orlando gets $47.14--as if Disney World is a bigger terrorist target than the New York subway system, the United Nations, the Stock Exchange, Times Square, JFK Airport, Yankee Stadium on opening day, or our reservoirs and water system. What's the biggest recipient of any US city, at $77.92 per person? New Haven, Connecticut."

FORTY-NINTH! That's second from the bottom! The city that lost the most during the events that precipitated creation of the office of homeland security gets the least amount of funding to enhance security!

Pittsburgh requires more money per capita than New York City for anti-terrorism security programs?

Sadly, I think Bush knows he doesn't have to care about New York City. The people who live in the city (that is, the people most impacted by the crimes of September 11, 2001) are unlikely to vote for him anyhow! Most of the rest of the residents of the State of New York HAVE TO vote Republican because Bill Clinton got a blow job from a twenty-something college student one day, or the Democrats won't take care of Iraq, or abortion is a sin. It's absurd-sounding, I know, but when I talk to Republican New Yorkers (many of whom lie and call themselves independents), their arguments are even less sensible that THAT! The idea that abortion, oral sex, and an immiral war are the only basis for re-electing this dunder-head is frightening!

In the end, the current American president can say "screw you" to New York City, and still carry the State of New York in the next election!

Now add to this the insulting campaign ads the current American president has produced using footage from the 9/11 rescue efforts. Who is paying attention? Who is protecting New York? Where is George Pataki? Where is Rudolph Giuliani? Why aren't they screaming about this? Giuliani blathered on about how he was going to stay involved with New York's recovery from 9/11, even though he was no longer mayor. Where are you Giuliani? If the current president was a Democrat pulling this load of crap on New York, Pataki and Giuliani would be all over the media proclaiming their shock and outrage. In their silence, this formerly dynamic duo make the all Democrats seem like the greatest philanthropists and statesmen of our time.

What about it Governor? Rudi? How's your buddy in Washington doing? Has he done you any favors lately? Do you plan to speak-up about Washington screwing over the city? Why are you so silent about this?

I think I know why they are silent: they can't personally make any money from this, so why get their hands dirty. It's a lost cause, and they aren't going to get sullied by it. Typically unPatriotic! Typically unAmerican! Typically Republican!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

What is going on in Iraq?

OK, I'm digging this. Air America Radio is (though not without its quirkiness) an excellent radio station! I tune in all the time and I am listening right now.

When I listen to people discuss Iraq without the right-wing distortions offered by Time-Life, Fox, CBS, and other voices of christian fundamentalism, I realize just how badly things are going over there.

I still don't know why we are in Iraq.

Iraq was not, and is not, a hub of terrorism anymore than New Jersey was when they arrested the cleric allegedly responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing. That's right, New Jersey was the residence of the guys who tried to destroy the WTC the first time! Why haven't we attacked New Jersey? It's obviously filthy with terrorists that are being harbored by America!

When I suggest that we are fighting in Iraq only to grab their oil, the argument is dismissed as too simplistic. Why does the reason have to be sophisticated? Since when do militarists have sophisticated reasons for killing their neighbors? I think we ARE there for the oil. The guys running the American government are all oil guys.

The Iraqi people seem pretty irritated about us right now. There doesn't seem to be a strong movement within that country for embracing American servicemen and women. Seems very similar to a war I remember from my childhood.

I heard on NPR this morning that our military has shutdown a newspaper run by a cleric and his family. Now, I am no fan of clerics running governments or publishing newspapers or broadcasting on television or radio; but, freedom and democracy mean that everyone gets to express themselves.

My government is telling me that we are there to fight terrorism, but I don't know of any terrorists working out of Iraq. Terrorists work out of big cities all through Europe and North America, not shit-hole towns in the middle of the desert. So, this can't really be an anti-terrorist campaign.

My government is telling me that we are there to install democracy, but we seem to be shutting down newspapers and quieting the voices of those who disagree with us.

My government is telling me that my opposition to war is unpatriotic; but, they are constantly abridging the Bill of Rights while cloaking themselves in patriotism which is the most unpatriotic notion I can imagine.

Why do you think the USA is at war in Iraq?


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Joke - Well Isn't That Nice

Two delicate flowers of Southern womanhood, one from Georgia and the other from Alabama, were conversing on the porch swing of a large white-pillared mansion.

The Georgia peach said, "When my first child was born, my husband built this beautiful mansion for me." The lady from Alabama commented, "Well, isn't that nice??"

The first woman continued "When my second child was born, my husband bought me that fine Cadillac you see parked in the drive." Again, the belle from Alabama commented, "Well, isn't that nice??"

The first woman boasted, "Then, when my third child was born, my husband bought me this exquisite diamond bracelet." Again, the second lady commented, "Well, isn't that nice??"

The first woman then asked her companion, "What did your husband buy for you when you had your first child?"

"My husband sent me to charm school," declared the 'Bama belle.

"Charm school!" the first woman cried. "Land's sakes, child, what on Earth for?"

The Alabamian responded, "So that instead of saying, "Who gives a shit!?" I learned to say, 'Well, isn't that nice?"

Monday, April 05, 2004

Another Boring NeoCon Conversation

I suffered through an hour long conversation with a so-called new conservative on Saturday. This man called himself compassionate, which means (I guess) that he doesn't actually kill other people with his own hands but thinks killing is the solution for his unassuaged anger and frustration.

He had all these clever O'Reilley Youth catch-phrases for liberals and Arabs, and was quick to condemn Islamic fundamentalism, but sees no problem whatsoever with Christian fundamentalism.

Like all people who vote republican, he doesn't see that the fundamentalists who have taken over his party and his country are destroying his nation by waving the flag of patriotism while defunding programs to fix roads, build schools, feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and giving that money to the rich (who don't really need it).

Sadly, this man is an educator. This man is employed to teach our children and his argument FOR George Bush was rooted in a caffeine-induced diatribe demanding that I tell him what John Kerry is going to do about Iraq if he is elected. "On June 2, 2005, what is John Kerry going to do about Iraq?" He demanded from me.

This is a man with bizarre priorities! Iraq? Who cares what the next president will do about Iraq! Let's hope and pray that the next president abandons Iraq and brings our children home and out of harm's way.

There are much more important questions about the next presidential administration:

What is the next president going to do about the deregulated communications industry that has given our airwaves to ClearChannel?

What is the next president going to do about bank deregulation that has created a culture of debt so vulgar it should make Donald Trump blush?

What is the next president going to do about the deregulated energy business that has raised the costs of electricity to embarrassing prices and whose officials continue to walk away with millions while the rest of us are left trying to budget for heat?

Who cares what the next president is going to do about Iraq! What is the next president going to do about the United States?!?!?!?


Friday, April 02, 2004

Odd Bedfellows: Prince and George Michael

The distribution of electronic music and the proliferation of online fanclubs have made the internet an audiophile's dream. Most popular artists have an online presence and some do it better than others.

In the past few weeks I have learned about two interesting new events:

George Michael has announced that he has made plenty of money and working with record companies has become so tedious that his future releases will be available to download online for free.

Prince is opening his own online music download site where listeners can buy individual cuts for ninety-nine cents and entire albums for $9.99. These are rather standard prices and match what users pay at iTunes and Napster. The difference at the Prince Musicology Store is the availability of live and unreleased material. Also, a $25.00 lifetime membership to his online fanclub provides fans unlimited downloads of this material!

These two events fly in the face of mainstream, middle-of-the-road fan sites that extort a monthly fee for nominal content, no free downloads, access to full-fee Ticketmaster atrocities, and little or no participation by the artist. These sites take your credit card number and begin charging you a monthly, quarterly or annual fee for the privilege of spending more money at their online store, and not much else! See The Rolling Stones site (and other Ultrastar portals) for an example of sites that fit this anti-fan paradigm!

I belonged to a fan website for sixty bucks a year, and it doesn't even include a discography of the artist's work! You had to leave the site and go to a site built by a fan to get information about the artist's music!

Prince's idea of twenty-five bucks for a lifetime membership is a remarkably good deal, and I think he is onto something here. Rewarding your dedicated fanbase with access to tickets and unlimited musical downloads for a nominal one-time membership fee will attract new fans. If I was a Prince fan, I would be sending $25.00 immediately. I might sign-up anyhow, just to support the idea!

George Michael's idea is too good to be true, and I find it hard to believe that he will really give away his music from this point forward. (I might actually listen to one of his songs now!) Time will tell, and if he succeeds, if he remains famous and rich while distributing his art for free, he could have an actual impact on the industry.

It will be important to ignore the press releases that management companies will write to discredit Michael. Ignore the lies from press sluts hired by the likes of Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, and Metallica. If we could support ideas like George Michael's, there might be a shift in the market and the music industry might actually return to being owned by people interested in music!

I applaud Prince and George Michael.


Prince news story

George Michael news story

Prince's website

Michael's website

Thursday, April 01, 2004

"Fallujah is the graveyard of Americans"

It was difficult to watch the Associated Press footage of non-Iraqis killed and dragged through the streets of Fallujah on Wednesday; but, I watched it. The United States government says that those killed were civilian contractors. I find that hard to believe, especially since one of the attackers displayed dog tags removed from one of the victims.

I know a fair number of contractors, some of whom were in the military, and none of them wear dog tags as jewelry.

What were these civilian contractors doing? Selling freedom? Installing democracy? Raping the Iraqis of their natural resources?

On Thursday there was another attack, but the US government would not confirm it.

So I did a Google search on Fallujah, Iraq, and hundreds of hits were returned. Though our removal of Sadaam can be proclaimed a victory, this city is the center of our failures, and a representation of our future in Iraq.

Reading about Fallujah makes this immoral acquisition of oil sound and feel more and more like VietNam. We have forced ourselves on this people, pretending they needed our help to keep the world safe, and now we expect them to fall into line as we remove their natural resources from them while distributing press releases that proclaims they are now a free people! They may be free, but they won't own any oil when we're done with them!

For me, Fallujah is the beginning of our entrenchment in a nation that does not want us. As our intention to steal their natural resources becomes clearer to all Iraqis we will be all alone in the middle of a country that doesn't want us.

This is a bad situation getting worse.

I found the Wednesday footage at this link

I found the Thursday article here