Friday, November 30, 2007

Red Bull Park -- Could It Really Happen?

For a number of years there has been talk of a soccer-specific stadium (SSS) being built in Harrison, New Jersey. Red Bull New York, the local Major League Soccer franchise, would move from Giants Stadium in The Swamp called The Meadowlands, to this new SSS, leaving behind the slime buckets who run and secure that NFL facility, and snuggling into warm confines and a soccer-friendly environment.

I have told my friends for five years that it was going to be open in two years.

They have been very kind to me and not one of them has laughed in my face. Maybe behind my back, but not to my face!

Well, there is a new announcement and new drawings.

SECAUCUS, NJ -- Red Bull New York on Thursday unveiled the updated design of Red Bull Park, a state-of-the-art soccer-specific facility, to be constructed in Harrison, New Jersey. The stadium's updated design was completed by Rossetti Architects of Los Angeles, CA. Rossetti was the original architect on the project. Red Bull New York also announced the selection of New Jersey-based Hunter Roberts Construction Group, LLC, as the project's construction manager and general contractor. Construction is set to begin in early December 2007 with a yet to be determined completion date in 2009. Red Bull New York took over complete control of the project on November 16, 2007, after purchasing the 50% interests of AEG.

Key to the updated design is a new dynamic form roof - a curving structure that wraps the entire stadium in an elegant metal shell. The unique stadium roof design, which will create a distinguished identity and unique atmosphere for Red Bulls fans, will extend from its leading edge over the entire seating bowl and then curve down to the concourse, creating the dominate architectural statement of power and elegance. The roof will extend 130 feet from the last seat to just over the field's touchlines, with 60 feet of the roof being translucent, letting in natural light. More (including more drawings).

You read it correctly! 2009, which probably means it will be ready for the 2010 season. Hooray!

The New York Times also covered the story, so it must be true!

Dick Mac Recommends:

Playing For Uncle Sam
David Tossell

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Halftime At The Jets Game

The New York Times reported on the behavior of NFL fans at Giants Stadium during a recent Jets game.

I attend soccer matches at Giants Stadium and I know that fans often congregate on the ramps of Gate D to smoke.

I did not know that during Jets games, fans congregate to sexually harass women. Of course, the average NFL fan would likely not see this as harassment, because they are just asking women to show their breasts. Well, they are yelling it and they are drunk. And if the women don't oblige they might be spat upon or have beer tossed at them. But, Joe Average NFL Fan probably wouldn't consider that harassment, now, would he?
When one woman appeared to be on the verge of obliging, the hooting and hollering intensified. But then she walked away, and plastic beer bottles and spit went flying. Boos swept through the crowd of unsatisfied men.

This is just fun, right. I mean, there's no harm meant, and no harm done. I mean, what's a little spit on your wife, sister, daughter or mother?

The sad thing is not the behavior of the men, which is reprehensible; but, the apologists within the security agency, the stadium management, and the New Jersey State Police.

Sgt. Stephen Jones of the State Police was interviewed for the Times article:
Our emphasis is certainly not general security," Jones said. "Something like you’re describing, the stairwell behavior, is a matter that the security would handle. Now if they come up with something where somebody needs to be arrested, the troops will go out there and effect that arrest."

I thought behavior described in the article would qualify as "something where somebody needs to be arrested. . . ." But, Sgt. Jones obviously wouldn't mind if it happened to his wife, sister, mother, or daughter. If spitting on a person, or throwing a beer bottle at a person, is not grounds for arrest, then what is?

The good Sargent's remarks were sought when Greg Aiello, an N.F.L. spokesman, said, he would defer any comment to law enforcement. Just like an NFL spokesman. Nothing is the NFL's fault or responsibility. Blame the taxpayers' police force and stadium authority. The NFL, of course, sees itself as absolved of responsibility. You see, nobody associated with the NFL: President, Chairman, Officer, Owner, Manager, Player, Lessor, Employee, or Fan is responsible for any of this. It's a "law enforcement issue" and somebody should do something about it, but not them, of course.

I'm not a Jets fan. Well, I was a Joe Namath fan as a boy in the 1960s, but I've never cared about the team. So it's easy to vilify the fans who are responsible for this behavior. They are animals. They probably treat their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers the same way.

Of course this wouldn't be a problem if the Times hadn't reported it, so we should probably blame the Times for this.

I would love to see an interview with one of the guys involved. I'd love to hear how this is rationalized. I'd like him to explain it in front of his wife, daughter, sister, and/or mother.

There is no way to justify this, and the police, the NFL, and the Jets should be ashamed of themselves for not taking action to stop it.

The problem is, you got to watch four or five hundred people sometimes in the one particular spiral," said Patrick C. Aramini, New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority’s vice president for security. "What do we do, arrest everybody that starts chanting?"

Well, if they are chanting "show us your tits" to women and girls, then YES . . . that would be a good start; and it would probably put an end to the practice!

In case anyone at the New Jersey State Police has forgotten, it is illegal in New Jersey to ask a minor to participate in a sexual act. Chanting "show us your tits" to a girl under 18 is an actual crime.

If anyone from the New Jersey State Police is reading, just ask what you would do if it was your wife, daughter, sister or mother, that was being accosted in this manner. Then remember that you are paid to protect everyone's wife, daughter, sister, and mother!

Read the Times article here.

Dick Mac Recommends:

The Gospel According to St. Matthew
Pier Paolo Passolini

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mental Illness Humor

Heard on the Internet:

Ralph and Edna were patients in a mental hospital.

One day while they were walking past the hospital swimming pool, Ralph suddenly jumped into the deep end. He sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there. Edna promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom and pulled Ralph out.

When doctors became aware of Edna's heroic act they immediately ordered her to be discharged from the hospital, as she was clearly mentally stable.

When the Head Nurse went to tell Edna the news she said, "Edna, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you're being discharged; since you were able to rationally respond to a crisis by jumping in and saving the life of another patient, I have concluded that your act displays sound mindedness. The bad news is, Ralph, the patient you saved, hung himself with his bathrobe belt in the bathroom. I am so sorry, but he's dead."

Edna replied "He didn't hang himself. I put him there to dry. How soon can I go home?"

Dick Mac Recommends:

Rube Goldberg
Maynard Frank Wolfe

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Horses, Patti Smith

This is the next in a series of the records of my life. I have previously written about Stevie Wonder's Innervisions and the two original New York Dolls albums. Today I honor the high-priestess of punk, politics, and rock 'n' roll, Patti Smith.

Rife with images of, and honorifics for, Arthur Rimbaud, Jim Morrison, cocaine, homosexuality, death, religion, space ships, girls, boys, switchblades, salvation, and stardom, while paying homage to American R&B, Top 40 pop, and English pub music, Patti Smith's Horses is one of the seminal punk records of the mid-1970s, and one of the most important rock 'n' roll records of all time.

In the Winter of 1975 or early 1976 I was laying down at my mother's house, listening to WBCN-FM, the nation's first commercial FM rock station. The lights were low and I was stoned and the cut Land started playing. I had never heard it, and I had never heard anything like this in my life, and I became a Patti Smith fan at that precise moment.

It took a few months for me to actually get the LP, but when I put the stylus to the vinyl, I heard opening words as famous as "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," or "Call me Ishmael."

Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine.


Now, I am a lyrics cripple. I mis-hear lyrics all the time and this record leaves me more befuddled than most, as I have admitted here.

Gloria (in exclesis deo) is Patti Smith's reworking of Them's classic pub-rock hit, "Gloria" (you know: "G-L-O-R-I-A, Gloooooooriaaaaa!"). As was the fashion of the times, she does not bother to change her position as the song's singer and it remains a love song to a girl, this time sung by a girl.

I go to this here party and I just get bored
until I look out the window, see a sweet young thing
humpin' on a parking meter, leanin' on a parking meter
oh, she looks so good, oh, she looks so fine
and I got this crazy feeling that I'm gonna
uh-uh make her mine

She then sings about being a rock star:
Playing at the stadium
Some ten thousand girls reach out to me
Marie, Ruth, but to tell you the truth
I didn't hear them I didn't see
I let my eyes rise to the big tower clock
and I heard those bells chiming in my heart
going ding dong ding dong ding dong ding dong.

And the refrain throughout the song is Van Morrison's simple well-known chorus, one of the most famous refrains in pop music, more famous than The Kinks' "L-O-L-A Lola," The Beatles' "Goo goo g'joob," and The Stones' "Hey, hey, You, you, get offa my cloud," the driving:
G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria
G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria G-L-O-R-I-A Gloria

The band builds to a remarkable crescendo after five-plus minutes of ebbing and flowing through the remarkable lyrical roller coaster that is Patti Smith's singing. They slow to a break, and the opening line is repeated
Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine.

and the band kicks back into the refrain and the song fades just short of six minutes.

There are few better examples of a remarkable first cut on the first side of a first album anywhere in the annals of popular music. Nobody sits still through this song, whether listing to a recording or seeing it live.

The second cut picks-up in the love department right where the opening cut left off. A love song about a girl, by a girl. On a bootleg recording of a Patti Smith concert, she begins the song Redondo Beach by chanting: "Redondo Beach is a beach where women love other women."

With a quasi-reggae sound, probably as reggae sounding as this ultra-white band could muster, Redondo Beach is a song about learning that your lover is dead, a victim of a sweet suicide. This cut is a hint of Lenny Kaye's versatility, his mastery of pop music, and his ability to create any sound on demand.

This is a simple love song, really, with a punk-y twist of seedy motels and death. It starts with the vocal being almost cheerful:
Late afternoon, cheap motel,
We just had a quarrel and I sent you away.
I went looking for you, and you were gone.

And the singing becomes more desperate as the search continues:
Desk clerk told me
A girl's been washed-up
A smiling angel, with apple-blonde hair now
I went looking for you, and you were gone.

And it ends with the stark observation that true love is truly lost:
Down by the ocean it was so dismal.
I was just standing with shock on my face.
The hearse pulled away, and the girl in the tide, it was you.
You'll never return into my arms 'cause you are gone.

Birdland is a punk-jazz fusion of lyrics chanted, moaned, and read as a poem as much as sung atop the band's sparsely-produced music very much underneath the text. The poem tells the story of a young man whose father dies and the boy begs for his return, or to be taken "up" with him.

Though I have never spoken or read French, I became a fan of Arthur Rimbaud's poetry shortly before I found Patti Smith, and this piece reeks of the symbolism stylings which make Rimbaud the best-known, most-famous of the French Impressionist poets.

Birdland evokes images of hearses, ravens, glaring eyes shining like opals, mothers and sons, black bouquets, and images of death that make it seem almost appealing.

Like other songs on the record, Birdland starts very soft, builds to an insane pace that must be difficult for a band to maintain, only to land gracefully, this time to strains of American doo-wop music:
Where there were eyes there were just two white opals
And he looked up and the rays shot
And he saw a raven coming in
And he crawled on his back and he went up
Up up up up up up
Sha da do wop, da sha na do why,
Sha da do wop, da sha na do why, (Repeating)
We like birdland.

Smith's songs often touch on one political theme or another. Free Money is about . . . well . . . money. It's a sort of anarchistic adoration of cold hard cash (of which she sings she has none) and a love song. If she had a lot of money, no matter how she got it, she would buy you everything.
Every night before I rest my head
See those dollar bills go swirling 'round my bed.
I know they're stolen, but I don't feel bad.
I take that money, buy you things you never had.

Again, the song starts soft and melodic, with Smith's non-singer voice singing sweetly while the band builds steadily. This is the fourth song in a row (the entirety of Side One) that follows this pedestrian paradigm; but, instead of seeming tedious or trite, she manages to nail each of the songs.

I attended a thirtieth anniversary performance of Horses at BAM a couple years ago. The band played the album all the way through, note for note (with some of the lyrics changed, skipped or mutilated, of course, because how could anybody know, never mind remember that many words for eight songs). At the end of Free Money she joked coyly: "Now we flip over the record."

A faux-reggae back-beat and simple singing open "Kimerly," a beautiful song about her sister. Filled with Rimbaud-like symbolism, it starts slow and builds, but not to a break-neck speed like the songs on Side One.

Never have I thought of the death of Joan of Arc in sexual terms, but this certainly makes me think it:
The sea rushes up my knees like flame
And I feel like just some misplaced Joan Of Arc

Whoa! Wow! OK, if you say so. I was floored by this line when I first heard it. It is spiritual and sexual and political all at once. The implications of the imagery are endless. This is, indeed, poetry.

And the impressionism continues:
So I ran through the fields as the bats with their baby faces
Burst from the barn and the flames in a violent violet sky,
And I fell on my knees and pressed you against me.
Your soul was like a network of spittle,
Like glass balls moving in like cold streams of logic.
And I prayed as the lightning attacked.
Some will make it go crack, some will make it go crack,
Some will make it go crack, some will make it go crack.
While palm trees fall into the sea,
It doesn't matter much to me,
as long as you're safe, Kimberly,
And I can gaze deep into your starry eyes, baby.

On Break It Up the band is tight, the music is excellent, the poetic imagery is on par with the rest of the record. Lenny Kaye's lead guitar work is sublime. And it has to be left in the back if it is to be successful. To bring the lead guitar forward would betray the poetry -- the entire drive of the album as a body of work. This is a good song, that is well performed, well produced, well written and perfectly entertaining. It just has the misfortune of being placed between the lovely Kimberly and the impossibly intricate and ground-breaking Land.

Land is a three-part song that leaves me (to this day) awe-struck. Every artist has a Johnny, a boy they sing about. Sometimes Johnny is autobiographic, sometimes he is not. Patti Smith's Johnny is introduced in Land. He is sipping a glass a tea in the hallway and at the other end of the hallway the rhythm is generating. Johnny meets a boy who doesn't treat him very well, but Johnny seems to like it.
The boy looked at Johnny, Johnny wanted to run,
but the movie kept moving as planned
The boy took Johnny, he pushed him against the locker,
He drove it in, he drove it home, he drove it deep in Johnny

So, Johnny has had something stuck inside him. Is it a switchblade or is it a cock? Is this sex or violence? Is it both? The song has a sexual rhythm to it, and the imagery is not entirely violent. Is it a song about two boys having sex or fighting? Or are these two things the same thing for Johnny?

Smith then pays tribute to Wilson Pickett by including his Land of 1,000 Dances in this triptych. Co-written by Fats Domino, this sixties dance hit deserves to be enshrined in history and Smith's homage is sincere and complete.
Do you know how to pony like Bony Maroney
Do you know how to twist, well it goes like this, it goes like this
Baby mash potato, do the alligator, do the alligator

The song moves into La Mer and Smith plays with words:
Up there there is a sea, seas of possibilities
There is no land but the land
There is no sea but the sea
There is no keeper of the key
Except for one who sees the possibilities
One who seizes possibilities.

"Sees the possibilities," "seize the possibilities," and "seas of possibilities" are interwoven perfectly and she dives right back into her Rimbaud-style impressionism:
The waves were coming in like Arabian stallions
Gradually lapping into sea horses
He picked up the blade and he pressed it against his
smooth throat
And let it dip in
Dip in to the sea, to the sea of possibilities
It started hardening
Dip in to the sea, to the sea of possibilities
It started hardening in my hand
And I felt the arrows of desire

Back to the violence and sex, and a direct command for her punk-poet-hero to visit the Land of 1,000 Dances:
I put my hand inside his cranium,
we had such a brainiac-amour
But no more, no more.
Go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud,
And go Johnny go, and do the watusi,
Yeah do the watusi, do the watusi

The song continues to build to crescendo, then she references back to the opening song of the record
saw this sweet young thing humping on the parking meter, leaning on the parking meter

and it slowly fades out like a simple rock and roll song.

Anyone paying attention to this ten minute extravaganza of a song should be either exhausted or so stimulated that they want more. On many occasions I simply lifted the stylus and returned to the beginning of the cut and listened over and over and over again, never really certain of the lyrics and never caring if I was understanding it correctly.

The lovely Elegie follows Land and ends the record. It's sort of like a cigarette in bed after an athletic sexual experience. It is a simple poem over a simple track written by Smith and Allen Lanier:
I just don't know what to do tonight,
My head is aching as I drink and breathe
Memory falls like cream in my bones, moving on my own.

There must be something I can dream tonight,
The air is filled with the moves of you,
All the fire is frozen yet still I have the will, ooh, ah.

Trumpets, violins, I hear them in the distance
And my skin emits a ray, but I think it's sad, it's much too bad
That our friends can't be with us today.

The record ends too soon.

Horses peaked at #47 on the Billboard charts, and Rolling Stone (and every other rock media) includes it in their list of the most important records of all-time.

For covers of these songs, I highly recommend Morrissey's live recording of Redondo Beach from his Live at Earls Court CD. He does it beautifully.

Most of Patti Smith's cover photos (records and books) were done by the late Robert Mapplethorpe. This cover is no exception.

Track List:

Side One
1. Gloria - 5:56
- In Excelsis Deo (Patti Smith)
- Gloria (version) (Van Morrison)
2. Redondo Beach (Smith, Richard Sohl, Lenny Kaye) – 3:26
3. Birdland (Smith, Sohl, Kaye, Ivan Kral) – 9:15
4. Free Money (Smith, Kaye) – 3:51

Side two
1. Kimberly (Smith, Allen Lanier, Kral) – 4:26
2. Break It Up (Smith, Tom Verlaine) – 4:04
3. Land – 9:25
- Horses (Smith)
- Land of a Thousand Dances (Chris Kenner, Antoine Domino)
- La Mer(de) (Smith)
4. Elegie (Smith, Lanier) – 2:56

Total Playing Time: 43:10

Produced by John Cale

Recorded at Electric Lady Studios, New York, 1975

Date of release: November 1975

Label: Arista Records

Patti Smith – guitar, vocals
Richard Sohl – piano
Lenny Kaye – lead guitar
Ivan Kral – guitar, bass, vocals on track 8
Jay Dee Daugherty – drums, musical consultant
Tom Verlaine – guitars on "Break It Up"
Allen Lanier – guitars on "Elegie"

Dick Mac Recommends:

Patti Smith

or the 30th Anniversary edition that includes the entire record performed live:

Patti Smith

Monday, November 26, 2007


The Thanksgiving Holiday has come to an end.

The Macs are about to embark on a 200-mile road trip.

Regular posting will resume.

Coming tomorrow: Horses, Patti Smith, continues the records of my life series.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Patti Smith

Monday, November 19, 2007

Vacation's All I Ever Wanted

Dick Mac (alive!) will be on vacation for the next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Don't forget to be grateful every day.

Dick Mac

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oh, And By The Way . . . Roy Pearson Lost His Job

I have been remiss in reporting that Roy L. Pearson, the Washington, D.C. administrative law judge who sued his local dry cleaner for losing his pants, has not only lost that case, but also lost his job.

In a response to a Freedom Of Information Act request by Associated Press, Lisa Coleman, the District of Columbia's general counsel, wrote last week that Pearson's term as an administrative law judge expired on May 2, 2007, and that the Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges voted not to reappoint him.

So, there is someone paying attention in the District of Columbia!

Pearson showed a real lack of judgment -- in fact he proved himself to be an ass -- by filing a $67,000,000 lawsuit against his local dry cleaners because they lost his pants and breached the contract implied by the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign hanging in the establishment. His lawsuit refused to acknowledge that they found his pants and returned them to him.

Pearson was mildly ridiculed by the judge at the trial, too mildly for my liking, and has been dragged through the press much more gingerly than he deserved.

Justice, however, has been served, and it will be amusing, sadly amusing, to watch this man's career take the downturn it so richly deserves. Disbarment is too good for him, and we can only hope that he will never be involved in any job that requires him to help turn the wheels of jurisprudence.

But I hold out no hope.

After all, Clarence Thomas made it to the Supreme Court having never argued any case at any time in any courtroom in all of his career, so there might be hope for Roy Pearson. Maybe he can take the black seat on the Supreme Court when Thomas dies, resigns, or is impeached for stupidity. They're sort of peas in a pod, the two! Stupid men of color wielding power they never deserved and were unqualified to possess.

Here's the AP story at Yahoo.

Dick Mac Recommends:

A People's History of the United States
Howard Zinn

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How's That Health Care System Working For Ya?

Sometimes remarkable things happen in the American health care system. Sometimes Americans actually have health care insurance, and then sometimes that health care insurance actually pays for health care, and sometimes it even covers the medicine that is needed AND the hospitalization that might be required when someone is really sick.

Often a health insurer will reject claims for medical care. Some high-school dropout with a script in a cubicle will simply reject claims for treatment. The more claims the person rejects, the bigger his or her Christmas bonus. If the person rejects enough claims and saves the insurer enough money, they will eventually become a manager and their bonuses will increase exponentially.

I know it sounds cynical, but this is actually how health insurance works in the the United States.

Since our health care insurance system is an actuarial system and not a social system, then it is most important, no imperative that profit be guaranteed. So, we have a system that guarantees not health care but profit.

This has impacted not just a consumer's ability to be treated, but also a health care provider's ability to deliver care. Budgets in hospitals are slashed, and every procedure's necessity is reduced to a bottom line of its profitability, not its benefits.

Yes, the hospitals are suffering as much as the patients.

But, this is what the American people want. This is what the last seven presidential terms have brought us. Seven terms of administrations hell-bent on turning the citizenry over to a corporate structure instead of a social structure. There is no value in humanity beyond the ability to exploit it for profit.

So, hospitals are no longer places for the administration of medicine, they are factories for profiteering at the expense of medicine.

How's this working-out for your family. I sincerely hope it is working well. Fortunately, I am able to provide some semblance of health care for my family, but I know my employer spends as much money trying to decrease that benefit as they are willing to spend to increase it. That's what America said it wanted when they elected Reagan twice and followed that with electing fiscal lunatics who have left us mired in this mess.

At the beginning of this health care crisis, we were struck with the AIDS epidemic. Sadly, the Reagan administration saw no reason to address this health care crisis and the Clinton administration was left, ten years later, with a mess. Clinton's team did a commendable job addressing the crisis.

Unfortunately, the American people decided it was best to turn the nation back over to corporate fundamentalists, that Clinton's totally pro-business economic agenda didn't go far enough in exploiting humanity for all it's worth.

The current administration has succeeded in dismantling the health care system even further and there is actually an increase in AIDS cases since the current American president took office. This is what happens when the nation is run by religious zealots who think condoms are ineffective and abstinence is a viable plan.

It gets worse, of course. In Chicago recently, four patients who received transplants were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C.

That's right. We are not even able to monitor our organ banks anymore.

It had been over a decade since a transplant or transfusion patient was infected with HIV. The difference in those ten years? Corporate fundamentalists, cloaked in the Christus, dismantling what is left of the social fiber of our government and economy. All with the blessing of the voters.

Read about the incident in Chicago here.

When are you going to do something about the health care crisis in America? Will you wait until someone you know is killed by this mess?

Those of us who refuse to vote for progressive candidates doom ourselves to a future bleaker than my cynicism. Any vote for a Bush or Clinton or Obama or McCain is a vote for the status quo.

Work for change.

Dick Mac Recommends:

America Alone
Stefan Halper, Jonathan Clarke

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ebbsfleet United Football Club Saved From Insolvency By Fans

The British take their soccer very seriously, especially the English. I take English soccer very seriously, too; probably more seriously than I should!

English soccer is made up of many leagues. At the top is the Premier League and the leagues continue down all the way to various regional conferences.

Unlike the socialist nature of American sports, teams in English soccer (well, in soccer leagues throughout the world) must earn their spot in their league.

I have previously written about the promotion - relegation paradigm in this article; but, in a nutshell, it goes like this:

At the end of the season, the Premier League teams in 18th, 19th and 20th places are demoted to the lower Coca-Cola Championship league, and the top three teams from the Championship are promoted to the Premier League. And this continues all the way down the leagues, into the conferences, so that a team that is started by a bunch of amateurs today could make their way through promotion to the top league in the country in a matter of ten years, or so. And, vice-versa! A team that is top of the heap today could tumble down through the leagues until they have no value and no fans.

Leeds United was in the top-flight a few years ago and now, due to mismanagement and a lack of proper funding, fights to stay in League One (which is the third-tier league) and could continue tumbling down and out of existence. See the Leeds history at Wikipedia.

Quite the opposite is happening for Ebbsfleet United, a Conference team who was on the verge of insolvency. The Conference is the fifth-tier of soccer clubs, just shy of being a legitimate League team.

Formerly known as Gravesend and Northfleet, the team's name was changed to take advantage of an economic upswing in the region. Still, the team struggled to make ends meet.

The team was saved from insolvency and dissolution when 20,000 members of soccer website MyFootballClub each put up thirty-five pounds to raise £700,000 (over US $1,400,000) to purchase the team!

That's right. Twenty thousand soccer fans are now the owners of the team. And the best part is that the team will be run very democratically with decisions being made by votes of all members via the website!

Should Ebbsfleet United win promotion this year, they would be promoted to League Two.

Could you imagine Major League Baseball allowing fans to save the Montreal Expos, or the National Football League allowing fans in a city to purchase the team before it was moved to Indianapolis or Phoenix? The billionaires who control American sports are too interested in protecting their guaranteed profits and tax-subsidies than in allowing a truly free marketplace.

This is amazing!

Read this article about it at the BBC site!

The Ebbsfleet United website.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Playing For Uncle Sam
David Tossell

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Bad Day at Hallmark

This is one of those emails that gets forwarded from a dozen friends. It made me laugh!

Ever wondered what happens when Hallmark writers are having a bad day?

My tire was thumping.
I thought it was flat
When I looked at the tire,
I noticed your cat.

Heard your wife left you,
How upset you must be.
But don't fret about it,
She moved in with me.

Looking back over the years
that we've been together,
I can't help but wonder
"What the hell was I thinking?"

Congratulations on your wedding day!
Too bad no one likes your husband.

How could two people
as beautiful as you
have such an ugly baby?

I've always wanted to have
someone to hold,
someone to love.
After having met you,
I've changed my mind.

I must admit, you brought Religion into my life.
I never believed in Hell until I met you.

As the days go by, I think of how lucky I am
that you're not here to ruin it for me.

Congratulations on your promotion!
Before you go,
would you take this knife out of my back?
You'll probably need it again.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Dad!
(Available in Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia & New Hampshire)

Happy Birthday!
You look great for your age.
Almost Lifelike!

When we were together,
you always said you'd die for me.
Now that we've broken up,
I think it's time you kept your promise.

We have been friends
for a very long time;
let's say we stop?

I'm so miserable without you
it's almost like you're here.

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy.
Did you ever find out who the father was?

Your friends and I wanted to do
something special for your birthday.
So we're having you put to sleep.

So your daughter's a hooker,
and it spoiled your day.
Look at the bright side,
it's really good pay

Dick Mac Recommends:

Best Lawyer Jokes Ever

Monday, November 12, 2007

Judge Mukasey Is Approved By Senate

The current president of the United States needs a new Attorney General. He put forth the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey, of New York, a jurist who does not think that water-boarding a prisoner is a form of torture.

Water-boarding is an interrogation technique that simulates drowning. It is banned as torture by the Geneva Conventions.

The Geneva Conventions are the rules for treatment of prisoners by which civilized nations abide.

Since the current president of the United States is neither a civilized person nor sees value in civilization, preferring religious doctrine and the ultimate rapture as definitions of a successful species, there is no reason for the United States to pay any attention to the Geneva Conventions (most of which was authored by American jurists).

So, the current president of the United States has found a jurist who backs his plan to torture prisoners.

Not a problem, you say, surely a Democratic Senate will refuse to approve the nomination and the search will continue.

Not so fast, buster!

On Friday, the Democratic-controlled United States Senate, in a vote for the continued torture of detainees, approved the nomination of Mukasey.

The success of the nomination was managed by the cooperation of eleven Democrats, including both Senators from the great state of New York (Clinton and Schumer). Schumer voted "Yea" and Clinton did not vote, but we can assume that as a staunch supporter of the War in Iraq, a supporter of the current president's decisions, and her ongoing silence in the debate about torture, that Senator Clinton would have voted "Yea," had she fulfilled her duties to the citizens of the State of New York.

Democrats Bayh, Carper, Feinstein, Landrieu, Nelson and Schumer, along with former Democrat Lieberman, all voted along Republican lines to support the pro-torture judge. Remember the names when you go to the polls next election.

Democrats Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and Obama failed to cast votes. Looking at the list it is easy to see that they did not vote because they did not want to be seen supporting torture, because I am certain that all four would have voted "Yea." Including the darling of liberals, Obama, who is not the kind of liberal any liberal should really want representing liberals.

It's nice to see the Democrats are taking strong positions against the President's campaign of murderous war and torture. Approving an Attorney General who thinks water-boarding is not torture is hardly an Attorney General that represents the United States Constitution and the once-great American people.

See a summary of the vote here.

New York Times article.

Nice job, Democrats!

Our elected officials continue to fail America, the Constitution, and the basic tenets of civilization.

Dick Mac Recommends:

America Alone
Stefan Halper, Jonathan Clarke

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mugshot Oddity

Many people are arrested. Sometimes for bogus reasons, sometimes for marginal reasons, sometimes for good reason. When famous people are arrested, we hear all about it. Senators in toilets, movie stars blowing transvestites, Rolling Stones peeing on a wall, the list goes on. Sometimes there are mugshots, sometimes not. The mugshot usually shows the famous person at their absolute worst: dishevelled or inebriated or wounded or bloated.

On occasion a person looks spectacular in their mugshot.

A case in point.

Thanks to Celia for sending this along.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Diamond Dogs - 30th Anniversary Edition
David Bowie

Thursday, November 08, 2007

No Matter How Bad American Sports Get . . .

Being a sports fan is harder and harder each year. The billionaire owners take steps to destroy the game(s) in their pursuit of a buck, and constantly talk about "integrity" and "commitment" while players whine about their multi-million dollar salaries and complain about working conditions. Neither party assumes any responsibility for nurturing their industries, and they eventually rely on the stupidity of consumers.

All of this is very effective from a profiteering point-of-view, but makes for a miserable entertainment experience.

A fan can always rely on a ticket, a very expensive ticket, guaranteeing one thing: the right to cheer for your team, and boo and verbally harass the opposition.

Well, except in the NBA where Ron Artest and his posse will be in the stands to beat the ever-loving shit out of you when you react to his bad behavior. Oh, and in MLS where Clint Mathis rushed into the stands to confront a member of the supporters club. So, I guess that guarantee is not 100% fool-proof; but I always cheer for my team and boo the other team, even when the other team is a team I kinda like.

When the L.A. Galaxy came to New York to play my New York Red Bulls, I cheered David Beckham when he appeared on the field before the match, then I booed him and called him names during the match, then I gave him and all the players a standing-ovation at the end of the match. It was a perfect night: my team won as I cheered them on, and I booed and verbally harassed the opposition as best I could.

So, in the United States, it seems that the majority of players, coaches, owners and the media still accept the notion that my ticket allows me to be "verbally abusive."

Step forward, now, Sir Alex Ferguson (whom I prefer to call Sir Asshole Fullofshit), manager of Manchester United Football Club, in England (more commonly known on this blog as ManUre).

In an away match against Arsenal, at Emirates Stadium in North London, the home team managed to tie the match at the very end, denying Sir Fullofshit's team a victory. He, of course, blames the officiating, as we all do when games don't go our way.

Then he goes that privileged step further, that step that makes sports so impossible to enjoy, that step where he thinks that his salary is somehow paid by manna that magically appears from heaven. He blames the fans. The people who have bought (in the case of English soccer) very, VERY expensive tickets to sit close enough that the delicate Sir Fullofshit actually hears their remarks:

There is a lack of security. It is absolutely disgraceful the abuse you and your staff take. All sorts of things are being shouted and screamed at you and there is an absolute danger here.

Sir, your sense of danger is rather odd. You are in a public place, on television, surrounded by security in a stadium filthy with closed-circuit security cameras. You are in no danger. In England, a fan cannot even bring a beer to his seat so you can't even get beer poured on you (which, for those of you unfamiliar with American fandom, is a staple of expressing your dissatisfaction at an American sporting event). Sir, these people were yelling at you, not battering you. Sir, you are not in any danger at Emirates Stadium. Sir, it's men like you (well, liars like you) that make sport not very sporting. Did you think your opponent's fans should just sit quietly and demurely so as to not offend your delicate sensibilities?

Men like Ferguson should be removed from the game. They are an embarrassment to athleticism, sport for profit, and plain old fun!

Read more in this BBC article:

Man Utd probing Arsenal 'abuse'

Ferguson said the home crowd had shouted insults

Manchester United are compiling a security dossier after claims that their manager Sir Alex Ferguson was verbally abused by Arsenal fans.

The incident is alleged to have taken place at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday during United's 2-2 draw with the Gunners.

"Our security people are compiling a report on it - the incident was behind us," said Ferguson.

"But I'm sure that Arsenal, with their CCTV cameras, will have picked it up."

Ferguson was unhappy with the refereeing performance of Howard Webb on Saturday, but he said the hostile atmosphere inside the stadium had been a contributing factor.

"It is very difficult for the referee," he said on Saturday.

"On our bench, we were getting terrible abuse from people two or three feet away from us. Read more . . .

So, no matter how bad American sports get, with our corporate-sponsored stadia, bad television contracts, spoiled stars, piss-poor broadcasts, and bad marketing ploys, etc., at least we don't have our athletes and coaches whining that the fans are too mean to them and they fell like they are in danger. Thank goodness!

Dick Mac Recommends:

David Beckham

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Evangelists Want To Re-Write Biblical Laws On Divorce

Evangelists tend to be politically conservative. I have no statistical proof, but I don't think I am taking a big leap with that conclusion. You don't see a lot of evangelists on the campaign trail for liberal candidates, or promoting liberal causes, or even being kind to liberals and liberalism; you pretty much see evangelists promoting a conservative agenda rooted in "biblical" teachings centered on hurting those who are least able to defend themselves.

Conservatives use the bible to proclaim the evil of homosexuality and the danger of science and medicine. They use the bible to prove we should kill those that conservatives don't like and then to prove that we should save those they deem it expedient to save (like the unborn who cannot be saved because they do not exist). Conservatives use the bible for everything except the promotion of love, acceptance and progress.

Now conservatives want to re-interpret the bible's writings about divorce. (See, An Evangelical Rethink on Divorce?, Time Magazine). They want to make it less controversial to dump your wife when you are through with her.

As the statistics show, American divorce is dramatically more prevalent in bible-belt states than in liberal states. The Northeast states (notoriously filled with intellectuals) hold the positions of the five states with the lowest divorce rate, while Wyoming, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Nevada (notoriously right-wing, conservative, "christian" states) have divorce rates more than double their liberal counterparts!

Rank - Region - Divorces - Rate

United States - 1,191,000 - 4.6

51 - Massachusetts - 14,530 - 2.4
50 - Connecticut - 9,095 - 2.8
49 - New Jersey - 23,899 - 3.0
48 - Rhode Island - 3,231 - 3.2
47 - New York - 59,195 - 3.3

05 - Wyoming - 3,071 - 6.5
04 - Tennessee - 34,167 - 6.6
03 - Oklahoma - 21,855 - 6.7
02 - Arkansas - 17,458 - 7.1
01 - Nevada - 13,061 - 9.0

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics

So, it is no wonder that conservatives want to re-write the bible's rules about divorce.


Dick Mac Recommends:

The New York Dolls
In Too Much Too Soon
MP3 Download

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Induct Brian Epstein Into The Hall Of Fame

Brian Epstein (1934 - 1967) managed The Beatles to the top of the charts and into popular legend.

Epstein is not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Many think he should be. Do you?

If you do not know about Epstein, then check out his entry at Wikipedia.

Then decide if you want to sign the petition to induct him into the hall of fame.

A Brian Epstein site.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Sometime in New York City
John Lennon, Yoko Ono, The Mothers

Monday, November 05, 2007

New York Dolls, "New York Dolls" and "New York Dolls in Too Much Too Soon"

This is the second in my series of the records of my life. I previously wrote about Stevie Wonder's Innervisions. Today it's The New York Dolls.

I am discussing two records in this article, which is the complete original discography of the New York Dolls, before they broke-up (or were broken up) while being managed by rookie-svengali Malcolm McLaren.

The roots of punk music are firmly planted in glam rock, and these are two of the key records that led to the birth of the New York punk scene of the mid-1970s. Both have production pedigree that bands of the time could not hope for: New York Dolls was produced by a barely-known Todd Rundgren, and in Too Much Too Soon was produced by the amazing Shadow Morton.

New York Dolls

When a music aficionado wants to insist that punk music originated in England, you need to ask them if they have ever heard of the New York Dolls. Many British punks (including some founding members of the Sex Pistols) will refer to David Bowie and Roxy Music as the roots of their experience as punks, it is important to know that David Bowie was referencing the New York Dolls, whom he met in England and during his first tour of the United States, while Johnny Lydon was attending secondary school. So, as David Bowie is often referred to as the godfather of punk, he owes a wealth of that reputation to the Dolls. Then ask these pro-British punk-roots aficionados if they have listed to the two Dolls records followed by Never Mind The Bollocks. . . . If they have listened to all three records in one sitting, they will admit that many of the cuts on the seminal British punk record are direct copies of Dolls songs. For starters, just compare the Pistols' Liar to the Dolls' Puss 'n' Boots, then get back to me.

As big cheeses on the New York music scene that centered around Max's Kansas City (where they were the house band), the Dolls were the darlings of record executives and producers, fashion icons in their own right, and IN Andy Warhol's social circle.

So, when time came for a New York Dolls record to be produced, it seemed obvious that somebody from the New York scene, especially the Max's circle, would produce the effort.

Known as the singer of a couple of top forty pop hits and the boyfriend of then-little-known poet Patti Smith, the eccentric, immensely talented and future production genius, Todd Rundgren was tapped as producer. His first ever effort at producing. The groundwork was lain for the eponymous Dolls release.

The album cover was the perfect blend of glam and punk with the guys all dolled-up in drag, or gender-fuck as it was sometimes referred to in the seventies, with a can of Schlitz beer on the floor near Johnny Thunders' platform shoes. The album cover still works and the songs still work.

The screaming, rocking "Personality Crisis," a send-up of rock poseurs crippled by narcissism-induced schizophrenia, opens the record. You can hear a keyboard that might have a pretty sophisticated line trying to "sing" along with Johnny Thunders' fantastic lead guitar but straining to be heard through the cymbals. Sadly, the piano is buried deep, deep down at the bottom of the muddled recording.

Your mirror gets jammed-up with all your friends.
With personality everything is starting to blend.
When your mind starts to bend.
Your personality's
Pressing on a friend, of a friend, of a friend, of a friend, of a friend.
Aw personality
Wondering how celebrities ever met.
(Looking fine on television)"

The song is an excellent kick-off to an album that peaks early and has no low points!

Johnny Thunders was a girl-groups aficionado and a tribute to the Shangri-Las' hit single Give Him A Great Big Kiss is the second cut. "Looking For A Kiss" is a hard-ass drug-addled sexy-punk answer to the Shangri-Las bad girl anthem (with which it was often coupled in concert). The song celebrates the marriage of sex and drugs that defined the seventies, and opens with the Shangri-Las classic spoken line: "When I say I'm in love, you best believe I mean love L-U-V!"
When everyone's going to your house to shoot up in your room
Most of them are beautiful, but so obsessed with gloom.
I aint gonna be here, when they all get home
They're always looking at me, they wont leave me alone!
I didnt come here, lookin for no fix (uh-uh no).
I been prowling the streets all night in the rain baby
Just looking for a kiss

"Vietnamese Baby" (which was my buddy Chuck's fave cut) seems to be an attempt at a political statement, or a celebration of rock's often apolitical lifestyle. It opens with faux-Chinese chords that are repeated more successfully on the Doll's second album. Again the music sounds like it should really rock, but is so poorly produced that all you hear is a thrashing grind of garage musicianship with Johnny's amazing lead guitar work underneath David's shouted lyrics:
what's wrong today is what's wrong with you

Love song "Lonely Planet Boy" is a crooners delight. Sung in breathy tones atop a cock-rock lead guitar and my favorite song on the record. Listen to it often!

"Frankenstein" is not the same song as the Top 40 hit by the Edgar Winter Group of the same era. This Frankenstein is social commentary about love with someone who may not be the loveliest specimen. Clocking-in at a lengthy six minutes, the song chases like a horror film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It always seems to be just about to take off, then as it ends you realize you have been rocked the entire length of the movie. The lyrics display a sensitivity that Johansen often hides behind songs about drugs and sex.
I'm asking you as a person
Is it a crime, is it a crime
For you to fall in love in with Frankenstein"

"Trash" could be a pop cult hit if the music was discernible and didn't sound like a pool of mud upon which Johansen's lyrics rest uneasily. Infused with Sylvain Sylvain's pop sensibility, it should sound as pure and clean as a Carpenters' single. This simple song might be the clearest example of Rundgren's failed production efforts.

Often at his baddest best when singing raunchy songs in a raunchy tone, "Bad Girl" is Johansen's ode to a New York hooker. Replete with lyrics about "twenty dollar bills and you can keep the change" and "all you gotta do is get down in my range," Bad Girl is a celebration of that side of New York City that none of the powerful admit they miss: the Times Square of the 1970s, the burlesque of the 1920s, the edginess that made New York different from every other city in America. That New York is gone, of course, but it lives on in rock 'n' roll!

I love when pop culture references itself. "Subway Train" is a song about a railroad (the New York City subway system) as an alternative to driving ("All of your friends are feeling-up my car). There are two pop culture references:

"You're so busy reading Suzy Sez that you can't look down" is a reference to the New York gossip columnist; and "Ya can hear the captain shouting" and "Dinah blow your horn, etc." are direct lifts from the song "I've Been Working On The Railroad." Both references work perfectly, and somehow the song really sounds like a song about a railroad. A punk anthem to sing all the live-long day!

Subway Train is probably the best-produced song on the record. You can hear each instrument and the vocal mixing sounds as though an actual professional was hired to record an actual song!

"Pills" is the only remake on the record. Originally recorded by Bo Diddley, the Dolls pay homage by playing a straight fifties rock number with a howling harmonica, lead guitar and strong drums. Rundgren's failed production tricks are abandoned or easily-ignored, and this homage to a sexy nurse administering intravenous drugs bops along.

The opening bass and guitar riffs of "Private World" are infectious. Johansen's vocal style really works here. The guitars continue to shine and Rundgren manages to give us a hint of percussion and piano.

"Jet Boy" is a Johnny Thunders song that he continued to perform as a solo artist before his death in New Orleans. I think Thunders should have done the vocal on this recording, but he was the guitar player, not the singer. The song pops and bops and includes hand-claps along with a hard-rocking guitar, it epitomizes the Dolls' blending and clashing of masculine thrashing and feminine sensibility. The lyrics are sensitive, almost pleading. On the one hand the song says that "Jet Boy stole my pretty baby," and then "Jet Boy's flying around New York City so high like he was my baby." So is Jet Boy the love interest or is he the heartbreaker who stole the love interest? It's never clear and it is successful in its ambiguity, like so many hard-rock songs of that era.

The songs are great, but the production is so bad that it is difficult to discern the brilliance of the individual musicians, and only the vocals stand-out (for better or worse).

Yes, this is a classic rock record, but I always understand when someone tells me it is unlistenable. As much as I am a fan of Todd Rundgren, it is his production of this record that fails the listener, the band, the record company, and rock history.

New York Dolls statistics:

Track List:
"Personality Crisis" (Johansen, Thunders) – 3:43
"Looking for a Kiss" (Johansen, Thunders) – 3:20
"Vietnamese Baby" (Johansen) – 3:39
"Lonely Planet Boy" (Johansen, Thunders) – 4:10
"Frankenstein" (Johansen, Sylvain) – 6:00
"Trash" (Johansen, Sylvain) – 3:09
"Bad Girl" (Johansen, Thunders) – 3:05
"Subway Train" (Johansen, Thunders) – 4:22
"Pills" (Bo Diddley) – 2:49
"Private World" (Johansen, Arthur Kane) – 3:40
"Jet Boy" (Johansen, Thunders) – 4:40

Total Playing Time: 42:44

Produced by Todd Rundgren

Date of release: November 30, 1972

Label: Mercury

David Johansen – harmonica, gong, vocals
Sylvain Sylvain – rhythm guitar, piano, vocals
Killer Kane – bass
Jerry Nolan – drums
Johnny Thunders – guitar, vocals
Todd Rundgren – piano, keyboards, Moog synthesizer
Buddy Bowser – saxophone
Alex Spyropoulos – piano

Dick Mac Recommends:

New York Dolls
New York Dolls

New York Dolls In Too Much Too Soon

Titled like a movie, the prescient title did nothing to help the band avoid their pending self-destruction. One might argue that once they wound-up in the hands of Malcolm McLaren there was no stopping the inevitable implosion.

Where the production values of their first record made it possibly the worst-produced major-label record of the decade, Shadow Morton (a veteran of New York's Brill Building music revolution) took the rag-tag transvestite punks into the studios and made a big rock record. The problem with this sequence of events is that the band's best songs and rawest enthusiasm had been spent on the first record, and Morton was left with the rest of their now-dwindling catalog and an abundance of cover versions.

Four remakes are included, two of which are early-rock-era gimmick songs that should have been treated as throwaways to fill a live performance: Stranded In The Jungle and Bad Detective are both concept songs that fit perfectly in the notion of a rock album packaged as a movie soundtrack. The pickaninny racism and chop-suey xenophobia of these songs, however, may have been amusing in the early-1960s, but they really had no place on a rock record in 1973. Only Morton's superb production and Johansen's showmanship save these from being offensive displays of corporate ignorance. Classic R&B standards "Showdown" and "Don't Start Me Talkin'" are much more worthy of being re-made, and the band pays homage to all four tracks with a reverence that I wouldn't expect from a punk band; which proves how good these guys really were.

The professionalism and skills of the band really show on this record, and if anyone understood the future historic significance of the first record, they would have had Morton re-record it and release both as a double album.

"Babylon" is a roller coaster of a song that Johansen continued performing in his soon-to-be successful solo career. There's a great live version of The David Johansen Group (which incluced Syl Sylvain) doing it live at The Bottom Line with Johnny Thunders as a guest performer on lead guitar.

Originally recorded by The Jayhawks and a hit single for The Cadets in 1956 (as well as a cover by Frank Zappa a few years later), "Stranded in the Jungle" is the story of a man losing his love in two locations: the jungles of Africa and the jungles of urban America. The vocal effects and sound effects Morton weaves in and out of the song make it sound like the big Hollywood movie the Dolls always deserved and never received. Morton and Johansen should have continued collaborating.

"Who Are the Mystery Girls?" defined the punk movement for many girls I knew in the late 70s and early 80s. Like David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" of the same era, you can find many who will argue passionately if it is a song about boys or girls. Like English singers of the era, it's almost impossible to discern Johansen's lyrics. You can find various versions of the lyrics on the web; but who will ever know what is real and what is imaginary.

I remember two women in Boston who had a rock gossip radio show titled "The Mystery Girls" on WERS during the punk era. They were girls, and they kept the song in the soptlight by using it as the show's theme.

"(There's Gonna Be A) Showdown" is a song about dance competition, in the vein of The Capitols' Cool Jerk, that I remembered as a song by Archie Bell & The Drells.
I've got ten notches on my shoes
When it comes to dancing, I just can't lose
They call me the top cat in this man's town
So I want you to meet me before the sun goes down
There's gonna be a showdown

Shadow Morton uses his classic sixties production skills to create a perfect celebration of this R&B hit. It's crystal clear and easy to listen to.

"It's Too Late" might be the most sophisticated example of Johansen using a circular pop-culture reference, a song whose underlying reference simply feeds off itself.
Cause I saw you last night darling
On that midnight flight to the stars
But you spent most your time in the powder room
Where you chit-chat with Diana Dors

Diana Dors was a glamorous English blonde-bombshell singer-actress who never quite made it to the top of the heap. Singing about Dors keeps the band's glam posture intact. The circular reference is to her 1964 single titled "It's Too Late." So the singer sings a song about a singer who had a song of the same name.

Shadow Morton produces with crystal-clear precision, and with a real punk sensibility, as if The Ramones were recorded by Sir George Martin at DisneyWorld.

As I mentioned earlier, "Puss 'N' Boots" is the song the Sex Pistols copied to make their song "Liar." The lyrics remind me of Johansen's "Funky But Chic" which was to be on the third Dolls album that was never made. In the later song, Johansen sings about 'a pair of jeans that somebody gave him, his mother thinks he looks pretty fruity, but in the jeans he feels rocking.' In Puss 'N' Boots, the protagonist has a pair of boots that he loves, but nobody else likes them and they are keeping him out of the running and out of the action:
. . . all the boys and girls think
you're too easy game.
Don't you know the shoes
are making him lame.
"Shine them up, boys, and keep the change."
Just like Puss 'n' Boots
I hope you don't get shot for trying.

Johnny Thunders sometimes referred to "Chatterbox" as "Milkman" for a reason I will never know, and he continued to perform the song in his solo performances. This is the only cut on the record not sung by David Johansen. Clocking-in at less than two-and-a-half minutes, Chatterbox is a real punk song from the New York school defined by the Dolls.

"Bad Detective" is a Coasters song about 1940s film character Charlie Chan, recorded in 1963. Shadow Morton gives the Dolls' version a faux-Manchu sound with gongs and guitar licks. It is beautifully produced and has a real Hollywood feel, which keeps the soundtrack notion alive as the album draws near its end.

Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me Talkin'" is the final re-make on the record. Like "Showdown," it is done in a classic R&B style. No frills, no silliness, and Morton's production might be almost too good for the song's own good. Johansen's vocal style readily lends itself to R&B songs and he does a superb job on this cut.

"Human Being" is the final cut on the album and is one of the Dolls' greatest songs. It's a song about getting dumped, and I've always wondered if it (along with Johansen's solo masterpiece "Flamingo Road") is about the end of his relationship with Cyrinda Foxe, who left him for Steven Tyler, of Aerosmith.

Now is as good a time as any to talk about my gossip-y theory of that triumvirate. Cyrinda Foxe helped the Dolls dress-up as drag queens for their act. When the Dolls were losing their gloss, Foxe and Tyler began an affair. Suddenly, Aerosmith was dressing-up onstage. They were not in drag, per se, but they certainly were not dressing like "men," either. I have always believed that it was Foxe's influence, the same sensibility that influenced Johansen, Thunders & the rest of the Dolls, that gave Tyler & Co their rock 'n' roll personae. And there is, of course, another Steven Tyler connection in this story. Cyrinda Foxe's friend, Bebe Buell dated Tyler before she hooked-up with Todd Rundgren. Buell discovered she was pregnant and Rundgren stepped-up as a decent man would, supporting his new family and never keeping it a secret from their child that her father was Steven Tyler. So, the seventies rock scene centered in New York City was rather small and incestuous.

Back to Human Being . . .

Another roller coaster of a song, the album ends with Human Being the same way as it began with Babylon. Human Being leaves the station at break-neck speed and never slows. Another anti-love song, it is riddled with hostile lyrics second only to Elvis Costello's later diatribes against girls:
Now what you need is
A plastic doll with a fresh coat of paint,
Who's gonna sit through the madness
And always acts so quaint,
Saying yeah yeah yeah!
With your new friend
You're really making a scene
And I see you bouncing around
From machine to machine

The band is joined halfway through by a very convincing uncredited saxophone. It could be Buddy Bowser, who is credited with saxophone on the first album. The production harkens back to the muddiness of the earlier Rundgren work, which makes me suspect that it might actually be a remixed out-take from those original sessions; but I don't really know.

This is one of the Dolls' best ever songs. I have included it on many mixed tapes, including as the opening cut on a break-up tape. Next time you're dumped by a girl, play Human Being at maximum volume.

Remember that if I am acting like a queen, well, I'm a human being!

The New York Dolls in Too Much Too Soon statistics:

Track List:
"Babylon" (Johansen, Thunders) – 3:31
"Stranded in the Jungle" (James Johnson, Ernestine Smith) – 3:49
"Who Are the Mystery Girls?" (Johansen, Thunders) – 3:07
"(There's Gonna Be A) Showdown" (Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff) – 3:37
"It's Too Late" (Johansen, Thunders) – 4:35
"Puss 'N' Boots" (Johansen, Sylvain) – 3:06
"Chatterbox" (Thunders) – 2:26
"Bad Detective" (K. Lewis) – 3:37
"Don't Start Me Talkin'" (Sonny Boy Williamson II) – 3:12
"Human Being" (Johansen, Thunders) – 5:44

Total Playing Time 36:44

Produced by Shadow Morton

Date of release 1974

Label: Mercury

David Johansen – gong, vocals
Arthur "Killer" Kane – bass
Jerry Nolan – drums, percussion
Sylvain Sylvain – bass, guitar, piano
Johnny Thunders – guitar, vocals
Peter Jordan – bass
Alex Spyropoulos – piano

Dick Mac Recommends:

The New York Dolls
In Too Much Too Soon

Or Download the MP3s:

New York Dolls
New York Dolls

Or Download the MP3s:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Richard Gere's Sexuality (Again). This just in . . .

Alan Coren (27 June 1938 – 18 October 2007) was an English humourist, writer and satirist who was well known as a regular panellist on the BBC radio quiz The News Quiz and a team captain on BBC television's Call My Bluff. Coren was also a journalist, and for nine years was the editor of Punch magazine. (Source: Wikipedia)

According to popbitch, Radio 4's tribute to Coren included a story about meeting Michael Caine during the time when Richard Gere's sexuality was fodder for the media, and Caine was next-door neighbor to Gere and Cindy Crawford.

The following conversation is alleged to have ensued:
So," Coren asked. "You must know the answer to the big question, Michael. Is Richard Gere gay?"

"I don't know if he is actually gay," came the reply. "But he would probably help out if they were short handed."

Who cares about the truth? The stories about Gere's sexual proclivities are wonderfully entertaining!

Dick Mac Recommends:

The Celluloid Closet
Vito Russo

Thursday, November 01, 2007

How To Handle Irritating Nieghbors Anywhere, Including on an Airplane, Bus, or Train

Have you ever sat on a plane, in a cafe, in a library, or any public place next to an irritating person who keeps talking to you, snooping at everything you read, and generally butting-in?

Next time follow these instructions:

Quietly and calmly open up your laptop case.

Remove your laptop, and open it.

Start it up.

Make sure the annoying person can see the screen.

Close your eyes and tilt your head up to the sky. Take a very deep breath.

Then open this link and sigh

Thanks to Dave for sending this along.

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America Alone
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