Wednesday, March 31, 2010

All Creative Work Is Derivative

by Dick Mac

Copyright is a very important part of our economic existence. Even socialists tend to agree with copyright, and everyone is affected by copyright laws.

It's never as simple as we'd like to think, and it's good to think about your position on the copyright laws.

Question Copyright produced this piece and they explain at

Our second "Minute Meme," illustrating how all creative work builds on what came before. Photographed and animated by Nina Paley. Music by Todd Michaelsen ("Sita's String Theory," a Bonus Track on the soon-to-be-released Sita Sings the Blues soundtrack CD!). Photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Last Homeless Person In Times Square

Photo credit:  Michael Appleton for The New York Timesby Dick Mac

Times Square had a reputation through most of my life as an exciting, edgy place where you could participate in any number of activities from completely legal and safe (play pinball, attend the theater) to completely dangerous and illegal (meet a prostitute, shoot drugs). That was a very colorful Times Square.

Now the color of the area is literal: the neon of Toys'R'Us and ESPNZone, the NASDAQ ticker and the other international chains that have moved in.
Gone are the pimps and sailors, the soulful street singers and the teenage runaways. Gone are the hookers and porno shops, replaced by young comedians hawking tickets to their debut show at a local comedy club and mobile phone shops.

There are arguments for both cultural movements. Some say Times Square has lost its soul, others say it is much more accessible and entertaining now. Whichever position you take, there is no doubting that times have changed in Times Square.

Last Summer there were seven homeless people living in the area. Over the past decade, the city and its charities has worked diligently to find homes for those who made the streets surrounding 42nd & Broadway their home. The work has gone well. Many of those who lived on these streets are now in apartments, or shelters, and some are getting services they need.

Between September and December, 2009, homeless advocates managed to place six of those last 7 homeless people in shelter. The lone straggler is a man called "Heavy."

His story is covered, in part, by the New York Times today: Times Square's Homeless Holdout, Not Budging

Photo credit: Michael Appleton for The New York Times

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Sparrows and Pigeons

Photo from the Laura Kammermeier siteby Dick Mac

In the projects there were two types of birds: sparrows and pigeons. You could see a crow now and then up the hill where there were trees and yards and fields, and starlings had not yet been introduced to the Boston area.

When I was a boy, I thought sparrows were baby pigeons. Imagine my surprise when I learned otherwise.

This morning, some 45 years later I realized I have never seen a baby pigeon.

So, I started looking and I found the Speed Pigeon site, and it shows photographs of the first month of a pigeon's life.

Then I started thinking: How did starlings get to Boston anyhow? I guess that will be a different post some day.

I do know how parrots got to Brooklyn, and I will tell that story another time, too. It is a historical and comical story.

Photo credit: Photo nicked from the Laura Kammermeier site, Birds, Words, & Websites.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Rachel Maddow Takes A Teabagger To Task

by Dick Mac

I was going to post an entry about the unintended benefit of the health care reform battle: there is now a schism between anti-choice Republicans and anti-choice Democrats. Perhaps that movement can implode!

Instead, I have to follow-up on my Rachel Maddow and Scott Brown post from yesterday. The story where Scott Brown has insulted and smeared one of his constituents (Maddow) in an anti-Massachusetts campaign across the nation.

Today, Maddow strikes back by purchasing the following advertisement in Boston newspapers.

"Hi, I'm Rachel Maddow. I host a TV show on MSNBC. I also live in Western Massachusetts, in the beautiful hilltowns of Hampshire County.

"This week, our new U.S. Senator, Scott Brown, sent a fundraising letter that says I'm running against him for Senate when he's up for re-election in 2012.

"I'm not running against Scott Brown. I never said I was running against Scott Brown. The Massachusetts Democratic Party never asked me to run against Scott Brown. It's just not true. Honestly. I swear. No, really.

"Senator Brown never even tried to find out if it was true, before using the made-up threat of me running against him, to try to scare donors into giving him more money. He sent the letter all around the country, to the out-of-state conservative activists who provided so much of the funding for his successful Senate campaign.

"Do you remember when Mitt Romney ran for President after being our Governor and he went around the country insulting Massachusetts, talking about what an awful state we are? To have our new Senator raising money around the country by saying how terrible one of his Massachusetts constituents is, kind of feels the same way to me.

"It's standard now for conservatives to invent scary fake threats to run against -- things like the made-up 'death panels' in health reform, or the fake controversy about the president's birth certificate. Senator Scott Brown's only been in DC seven weeks, but he already seems to be fitting right in with how conservatives operate there.

"I'm running this ad not because I'm running against Scott Brown -- I'm not, he made that up -- but because he's the Senator for all of us, and maybe this will make him think twice the next time he wants to smear one of his constituents to raise money out-of-state.

"My show airs at 9PM Eastern in Massachusetts on MSNBC. So far, Scott Brown refuses to come on. Maybe he'll change his mind -- I hope he does.

I will try to find a link to the actual published ad later today.

Good going, Rachel! Don't stop 'til he gets enough!

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Naked Lies From A Teabagger

Media darling Rachel Maddowby Dick Mac

Senator Scott Brown (T-MA) has started his 2012 fundraising. That's what teabaggers do: collect money, and hate. They keep the former and redistribute the latter.

As a faithful teabagger, Brown is, of course, lying. He is a liar. Always has been. He likes to promote the evils of things he has no power to change, and belittle the things that are his responsibility. He's a good teabagger, all show and no substance. We are getting exactly what I expected we would get from him.

Now he has injected a lie that is humorous.

In a fundraising letter sent to teabaggers across the land (these are America's anti-family criminals, many unemployed, their leaders living on welfare), Scott Brown has done what his ilk do best: highlight the bogeyman. Today, the bogeyman is television commentator Rachel Maddow, a liberal lesbian from Western Massachusetts.

Media darling Scott BrownMs. Maddow and Sen. Brown are both media darlings as you can see by the photos accompanying this article.

So, Brown is telling teabaggers that Rachel Maddow is going to run against him in 2012. This is, of course, like everything else he says: a fabrication, an exaggeration, an untruth, a lie.

When confronted by news agencies about the letter, Senator Brown completely evades the lie and just blathers on about himself.

Here's the letter:


It’s only been a couple of months since I've been in office, and before I've even settled into my new job, the political machine in Massachusetts is looking for someone to run against me. And you’re not going to believe who they are supposedly trying to recruit — liberal MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow.

Rachel lives in western Massachusetts, and recently it was reported that the chairman of the state Democratic Party had apparently tried to reach out to her in an attempt to coax her into a race against me. You can read about it here.

The political season never ends, which is why I need your continued support. While my opponents strategize on how to defeat me in 2012, I'm going to continue to speak out against higher taxes, more spending and greater government control in our lives.

I relish being an independent voice in Washington, one that doesn't march in lockstep with the rest of the Washington crowd. The Democratic Party bosses in Massachusetts disagree. They want a rubberstamp who will vote for their plans to expand government, increase debt and raise taxes. Someone like Rachel Maddow. I’m sure she’s a nice person — I just don’t think America can afford her liberal politics.

Rachel Maddow has a nightly platform to push her far-left agenda. What about you? I’d like to encourage ordinary American citizens concerned about the future of their country to get more involved in our government. I hope you were encouraged by my victory to become more politically active, maybe even become a candidate for office yourself. We can continue to push our movement forward by running for office, joining in rallies and petitions that challenge President Obama and Nancy Pelosi’s healthcare legislation, supporting campaigns against the tax-and-spenders or by donating time and money to office-holders and candidates who will restore the principles of our founders.

I’m grateful you are with me. Thanks again for whatever support you can provide me, and I look forward to joining in further victories with you down the line.


Scott Brown
United States Senator

The entire letter is a complete lie. Nobody contacted Maddow, she has never shown any interest in running for public office, and this is a ruse by a teabagger doing what a teabagger does best: rile up the masses with a bunch of lies for his own benefit. Nobody in Massachusetts has done anything that Scott Brown says, and he has done nothing in Washington.

So, people around the nation will send him money, making him a rich man, while he riles against politicians who are raising money and becoming rich men. He will become part of the Washington elite, enjoying all the benefits while railing against the Washington elite. He is a liar and it is sad that a state with a population as well-educated and sophisticated as Massachusetts could elect this guy to represent them in the most important congressional body in the world.

Stay tuned! It will get better!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"An open letter to conservatives" from AmericanDad

by Dick Mac

Russell King's recent blog post "An open letter to conservatives" appeared at the AmericanDad blog on the Talking Points Memo site.

It is the kind of piece I wish I had the time to research and write.

It is a plea to the wrong-wing to step-up to the plate and become real Americans interested in building a better nation. They are not interested in that, of course, but he makes his case and I am impressed.

Read it here:

An open letter to conservatives by Russell King

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Happens Now?

by Dick Mac

I have cribbed this list from last night's Rachel Maddow show and added my own comments:

Tax credits for small businesses to provide health care to their employees. Many small companies have never been able to afford to do so; and with this reform, they will receive tax credits to help fray the cost of providing this vital benefit to their employees.

Drug cost assistance for seniors. The drug plans that were enacted in the last decade have major flaws that cause incredible financial hardship for elderly people who need to purchase drugs. This reform begins to address that problem, including rebate checks to senior citizens who have already reached the threshold (or the donut-hole, as it is called) of their benefit.

Coverage for pre-existing conditions. Today, and for the past hundred years, if you had an illness (let's say liver disease), and you lost your job, but still had a few bucks in the bank to support yourself, you could not get health insurance in the United States because your illness (however minor) was a pre-existing condition and you were uninsurable. So now, if you have liver disease and you lose your job, there will be a place for you to get insured. That place is called the United States.

All children in the United States will be insured. PERIOD. If mommy and daddy lose their jobs, their children (also known as the future of civilization) will be automatically insured. Yes! American children will get health care. Can you believe it? Have you ever heard of anything so absurd? Can you imagine? We will provide health care to children. Amazing! What year is this?

You cannot lose your insurance when you get sick. Since you have paid and paid and paid into the insurance companies your entire professional life, you are now guaranteed to be covered when you get sick. I know it's hard to believe, but until this bill is signed, it is legal for your insurer to take your money for years and years and years, then dump you when you get sick. Never again.

No lifetime limits. Currently, you can pay ever-increasing premiums to insurers for the forty or fifty years you are in the work force. Then, if you get sick they can say, well, you've already gotten all the health care to which you are entitled. They do this. Yes, they do. (And teabaggers think the government will prevent them from getting health care? Hello, your insurer is already doing that and your government will stop them!)

Children can remain on a family's insurance plan until they are 26. How many kids are really on their feet at 21 and ready to provide their own health insurance? Some, sure. Maybe many. In these days when a child needs to have a Masters Degree to get a decent job, and perhaps even a Doctorate, a child isn't finished with college until they are 24 or older. I'm not sure how allowing families to insure their children is a bad thing.

Now, here's where the questionable government regulation kicks in. This is where pro-business taxpayers who are repeatedly raped by corporate America might experience Stockholm Syndrome and jump to the defense of those who are raping them: The insurance industry must spend 80% of the premiums collected for the provision of health care. Call the ghostbusters! It's the end of the world! NOT! Teabaggers brag that the insurance industry only takes 5% of their income as profit. Well, We've left them 20% to work with. Something tells me that a reduction in 8- and 9-figure salaries for the top 1% of their staff could result in even more profit for shareholders.

Medicare recipients will now receive preventative care. Remember the advent of the HMO in the late-1960s? That movement included the notion that by preventing illness you could save money. The insurance companies in the 90s turned HMOs into a method for limiting access to services (managed care) and dismissed the notion of preventative care. Now, sense prevails and we will provide our sickest with preventative care. Sounds like a good idea.

By 2014 there will be a total ban on pre-existing condition denials.

Health Exchanges for the currently uninsurable. If you don't have an employer and you can't get coverage, you will find insurance at an exchange.

No more annual limits on benefits. If you get really sick, you can get the care you need without fear that it costs too much.

I know that teabaggers and their so-called "conservative" allies will cry foul and insist that this is the end of freedom and America. They are wrong. These same people claimed that Medicare were the end of the world, and they were wrong then, too.

The insurance industry has had a century to make this work and they have failed.

Since the end of WWII we have had 36 years of Republican presidents and 25 years of Democratic presidents. The only time anything has been done about health care has been under the Democratic presidents.

And now the teabaggers are calling us niggers and faggots, and they are brandishing guns at our government, and law enforcement (which is controlled primarily by teabaggers) has done nothing about it.

I love my country. My country is defined in part by my government. My government is by, for, and of the People. The only government like it in the world. I love my government - it is ME!

My government has finally taken steps to protect me instead of protecting big business.

Thank you, America!

And shame on you, teabaggers!

The Rachel Maddow Show

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform

by Dick Mac

I have problems with the Health Care reform passed by the House last night; but I accept that we have made progress.

Oddly, we now have a law that requires citizens to purchase a service form a private corporation. I believe the solution is that the government should do the business directly with the insurers and provide that service directly to the citizenry. That is the "public option" that upset everyone so much.

Nonetheless, health care reform has been enacted and it is an amazing feat in post-Reagan America. For this, I am grateful and proud of my country.

An interesting angle is presented by Michael Moore: even those who oppose this legislation will benefit from it.

To My Fellow Citizens, the Republicans:

Thanks to last night's vote, that child of yours who has had asthma since birth will now be covered after suffering for her first nine years as an American child with a pre-existing condition.

Thanks to last night's vote, that 23-year-old of yours who will be hit one day by a drunk driver and spend six months recovering in the hospital will now not go bankrupt because you will be able to keep him on your insurance policy.

Thanks to last night's vote, after your cancer returns for the third time -- racking up another $200,000 in costs to keep you alive -- your insurance company will have to commit a criminal act if they even think of dropping you from their rolls.

Yes, my Republican friends, even though you have opposed this health care bill, we've made sure it is going to cover you, too, in your time of need. I know you're upset right now. I know you probably think that if you did get wiped out by an illness, or thrown out of your home because of a medical bankruptcy, that you would somehow pull yourself up by your bootstraps and survive. I know that's a comforting story to tell yourself, and if John Wayne were still alive I'm sure he could make that into a movie for you.

But the reality is that these health insurance companies have only one mission: To take as much money from you as they can -- and then work like demons to deny you whatever coverage and help they can should you get sick.

So, when you find yourself suddenly broadsided by a life-threatening illness someday, perhaps you'll thank those pinko-socialist, Canadian-loving Democrats and independents for what they did Sunday evening.

If it's any consolation, the thieves who run the health insurance companies will still get to deny coverage to adults with pre-existing conditions for the next four years. They'll also get to cap an individual's annual health care reimbursements for the next four years. And if they break the pre-existing ban that was passed last night, they'll only be fined $100 a day! And, the best part? The law will require all citizens who aren't poor or old to write a check to a private insurance company. It's truly a banner day for these corporations.

So don't feel too bad. We're a long way from universal health care. Over 15 million Americans will still be uncovered -- and that means about 15,000 will still lose their lives each year because they won't be able to afford to see a doctor or get an operation. But another 30,000 will live. I hope that's ok with you.

If you don't mind, we're now going to get busy trying to improve upon this bill so that all Americans are covered and so the grubby health insurance companies will be put out of business -- because when it comes to helping the sick, no one should ever be allowed to ask the question, "How much money can we save by making this poor bastard suffer?"

Please, my Republican friends, if you can, take a quiet moment away from your AM radio and cable news network this morning and be happy for your country. We're doing better. And we're doing it for you, too.

Michael Moore

The Great Thing About the Health Care Law That Has Passed? It Will Save Republican Lives, Too (An Open Letter to Republicans from Michael Moore)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Alex Chilton In Words and Music

by Dick Mac

I am still shocked and awed by the death of Alex Chilton.

He once said it would be great if you could be amazingly rich and successful while remaining relatively anonymous. Alex managed his career in a way that brought him privacy and freedom to move around the world simply, he never enjoyed a huge fortune, but he did have a dedicated and adoring following that included some of the most famous and up-and-coming artists of our times.

Please enjoy the following videos that either feature or pay homage to Alex.

Alex Chilton on 120 Minutes (1985):

The Box Tops perform "The Letter":

The Box Tops perform "The Letter" live
at the World Trade Center, New York, NY, (2001):

Alex Chilton and Yo La Tengo perform "Femme Fatale" (2007):

Congressman Cohen Commemorates the Life of Alex Chilton:

Alex Chilton performs "The Letter" in Norway (2008):

Paul Westerberg sings his song "Alex Chilton"
(originally recorded by The Replacements):

in Northampton, MA (2002):

in New York, NY (1996):

Story about Big Star on NPR (audio only):

Alex Chilton

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Remembering Alex Chilton

by Dick Mac

Alex Chilton died yesterday. He was 59.

I first met Alex in the mid-nineties. Although this phase of Chilton's career is not discussed very much, overshadowed by Big Star and The Box Tops, this band embraced a very sophisticated array of sounds from Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" and The Supremes' "No Matter What Sign You Are" to "April In Paris," "Volare" "Lipstick Traces," and scores of other songs that seemed to have no logical thread that I could follow.

In 1999, that band released the album "Loose Shoes and Tight Pussies," which Alex explained to me was a quote from the dreadful Governor Lester Maddox, of Georgia, and was best quote the man ever proffered. In the United States, of course, you can't release a record with that title, so it was released here with the bland and generic title "Set." If you have not heard it, I recommend it. Pay attention to the drums on the cut "Never Found A Girl," they are sublime.

This band was a trio: Alex on guitar and vocals, Richard Dworkin, an incredibly talented and unassuming New York City drummer with an impressive resume, and Ron Easley on bass, backing vocals, and the band's dancer, providing an entertaining moonwalk behind Alex while the others played Jackson's "Rock With You."

When my wife and I returned from the trip to Paris during which we became engaged, we attended an Alex Chilton show at Coney Island High. Afterwards we talked to Alex about our wedding plans and the conversation turned to him playing the event. He was happy to consider the gig, humbly questioned if he was the right choice for the entertainment, and warned that the only other wedding he played was a reception at The Rainbow Room, in 1968, for a wedding that ended in a messy divorce. We laughed, chatted about my marriage proposal at The Louvre, the band's current schedule, the release of the new CD, and events of the day.

March Madness was upon us, and Alex wouldn't be on the road until after the NCAA tournament concluded. We talked on the phone a number of times during the tournament, but never during a game. Alex was a huge fan, and would suffer no foolishness when it was time to tune-in. If I remember correctly, Kentucky the reigning champ, and was playing its opening games in New Orleans. We both thought they stood a chance to repeat. Neither Tulane, his local favorite, nor Memphis, the hometown team that had his heart, were in the tournament, and I don't remember him having a specific team he supported. He just loved the entire event and wouldn't miss a single game that was broadcast.

Ostensibly, I was calling him to discuss the wedding, but we seemed to spend very little time talking about it. We talked politics. He was a liberal and performed during Clinton's presidential campaign. We talked about drugs and the impact they had on the body as we aged. He didn't like doctors that much and played his hand close to his chest. We talked about girls and sex. I never thought he would get married! He was a very humble and funny guy. I really liked him.

We eventually talked about the wedding during one of the calls, and we determined that he wasn't really the right guy for the gig. Our budget would cover his fee, but would he really be the right guy to play dance music late into the night? No. If Alex came to play the wedding, we would still need to hire another band to play after him for the hours and hours of dancing that my family and friends expect at a wedding. Two bands were not in our budget, so that plan was scrapped.

When Katrina struck New Orleans, Alex was missing. Everyone feared the worst, of course. He had decided to sit out the storm on the second floor of his house with a gun for protection. He'd sent off his friends who had begged him to leave with them. The legend goes like this: someone called Bill Clinton, who called someone in the Navy, who called someone in New Orleans, who sent a boat to Alex's house to get him out of there. Alex survived Katrina.

Last night I read the news, told the wife, felt sad, made a phone call to his drummer, and wondered what I'd write about him. Nothing came to mind except his wry smile, charming demeanor, and gentle ways.

Godspeed, Alex!

Alex Chilton, Rock Musician, Dies

Memphis music loses Big Star — singer, songwriter Alex Chilton dies at 59

Alex Chilton, rock musician, dies in New Orleans at age 59

Current articles about Alex Chilton from Google Trends

Alex Chilton

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Luck Of The Irish, by John Lennon & Yoko Ono

by Dick Mac

The Luck Of The Irish

If you had the luck of the Irish
You'd be sorry and wish you were dead
You should have the luck of the Irish
And you'd wish you was English instead!

A thousand years of torture and hunger
Drove the people away from their land
A land full of beauty and wonder
Was raped by the British brigands! Goddamn! Goddamn!

If you could keep voices like flowers
There'd be shamrock all over the world
If you could drink dreams like Irish streams
Then the world would be high as the mountain of morn

In the 'Pool they told us the story
How the English divided the land
Of the pain, the death and the glory
And the poets of auld Eireland

If we could make chains with the morning dew
The world would be like Galway Bay
Let's walk over rainbows like leprechauns
The world would be one big Blarney stone

Why the hell are the English there anyway?
As they kill with God on their side
Blame it all on the kids the IRA
As the bastards commit genocide! Aye! Aye! Genocide!

If you had the luck of the Irish
You'd be sorry and wish you was dead
You should have the luck of the Irish
And you'd wish you was English instead!
Yes you'd wish you was English instead!

I note that they censor themselves in this broadcast by eliminating the word "bastards."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Gardner

My mother would walk from our apartment in the projects (X) to the Gardnerby Dick Mac

I have been visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, in Boston, since 1958.

The museum is very near the Mission Hill Main housing projects, and my mother would stick me in the stroller, leave our apartment on Oregon Court, walk down McGreevey Way, cross Huntington Avenue to Palace Road, and walk to The Fens, often with a visit to the Gardner.

According to stories my mother told me, the courtyard was open to the public in those days and she and I would sit there, under the massive skylights, relaxing while I had a bottle and she a snack. She felt a little awkward, she told me, because all the other visitors appeared to be wealthy and well-educated, and she was just a girl from Mission Hill; but she loved the space and the art and the peace of it all. The guards and staff were always very nice to her and encouraged her to visit as often as she liked. Things were different in 1958.

The Gardner has always been a special place for me. As a teenager I started going by myself, and it wasn't until the mid-70s that they started charging admission.

I was always impressed that the museum featured a Rembrandt self-portrait. A friend told me in 1976 that it was a fake, but I had no reason to believe him.

I brought many potential lovers to the museum, sharing tidbits of information I had gathered over the years, rumors, anniversaries, facts and plain-old lies, to impress them with my knowledge of the collection, building, and benefactor. It worked very well as a tool of seduction. Museums are like that.

In 1990, the museum was the site of the largest art-heist in history. Thieves removed Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet paintings. Yes, Mrs. Gardner owned a Vermeer: The painting "The Concert" hung in her galleries.

The Vermeer! They took the Vermeer! The guy painted only few dozen paintings and his work is some of the most valuable in the world. Never would I see it again.

Left behind, of course, was the Rembrandt self-portrait that my former friend had claimed was a fake. Was this proof? Another Rembrandt was taken, but the self-portrait was left behind. Why? It's probably a fake. The crooks removed it from the wall, but left it behind. If it was real, it would have been taken.

As we approach the twentieth anniversary of the heist, the event is back in the news.

There remains a five million dollar, no-questions-asked reward, and the U.S. attorney's office is offering immunity to anyone who will come forward with information.

Do you know where the paintings are?

Boston art heist rattles investigators 20 years on

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

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Monday, March 15, 2010

"So That Means You Love Each Other!"

by Dick Mac

This from New York Magazine:

"This video has been charming people on the Internet all week. In the clip, a little boy named Calen spends part of Thanksgiving working out what exactly it means that the two men in front of him are married to one another. "You're both husbands? You married each other? That's funny," he cackles. "So that means you love each other!" We think we're going to start using the term "much alike" to describe gay couples from now on."

So That Means You Love Each Other

Friday, March 12, 2010

Finacial Struggles As Athletic Feats

by Dick Mac

I know many people who have struggled financially, many (including myself) who have made some bad financial decisions mixed in with a certain amount of prudence, and some who just don't get it.

You know the ones: there isn't any money in savings but there's a five dollar coffee in their hand, all the time. There isn't any college fund, but there are plans for a trip to Disney. The mortgage has the home owner in over his head and he's behind on payments, so instead of starting an austerity program, he re-writes his mortgage to a 40-year, interest-only loan and buys a new car with the proceeds. People who declare bankruptcy every few years and constantly game the system leaving them with no financial future for their children and a road of failed debt behind them.

I often sympathize with these folks (but sometimes not), because they are often working schmucks who really don't know any better. Sometimes they are psychologically unable to see the root of their problem.

Then there are the other ones. You know, the gazillionaires who haven't a clue, and don't use their fortune to purchase a clue. They just go merrily along making one bad decision over another.

Like this one:

Mike Tyson

The king of them all is boxer Mike Tyson, who squandered a $350 million to $400 million dollar fortune. So what did “Iron” Mike spend his fortune on? Everything. He dropped half a million dollars on a 420-horsepower Bentley Continental SC with lamb’s wool rugs, a phone and a removable glass roof. It is one of only 73 Bentley Continental SCs ever built. The sad part is that’s not even the only Bentley that Tyson owned! He spent over $4.5 million dollars on cars alone. Throw in a $2 million dollar bathtub and $140,000 for two Bengal tigers and you can see why Tyson’s fortune is down for the count. He filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

Read about some of his peers in the world of lost sports fortunes: Seven costly pro athlete screw-ups

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oh No! Glenn Beck Has Hunted Me Down

by Dick Mac

Over the years I have wondered: "What will I do when they start rounding-up the leftists?" Then I laugh and realize that it won't happen in America.

Then I watch clips of Glenn Beck and I am not so sure.

Look out! Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you!

Watch the video above, or follow this link to see it.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Brilliance Of America

by Dick Mac

Sarah Palin's adoring massess assemble from coast-to-coast on a regular basis, here at a book signing. She attracts an amazing number of people who all come for one reason, to admire Governor Palin for her . . . well . . . you know . . . she's for the workingman . . and some other things, too . . . and she would make a great president because her policies are um . . . well, you know . . . she's against taxes and . . . um . . . she's for the family . . . and um . . . well . . . you know . . .

Monday, March 08, 2010

Whores of Babylon or Life Imitating Art?

Pope Benedict - a pimp's main prophet and profitby Al Falafal

News out of the Vatican brings the "shocking" expose of a huge male prostitution ring being operated by top aides to the highest holy homophobe, Pope Ratzinger Benedict. The only thing shocking, really, is that it actually made the news. Did anyone actually expect that Ratzinger, the aging unreformed brownshirt, would rely on common Italian pimps to secure his boy sex slaves?

Where do I get these images that come to mind of wild Papal orgies involving sex, blood and torture in splendiferous settings - right under the nose of Michelangelo's magnificent paintings and sculptures, between the Bernini Columns involving Powerful Nazi perverts?

Oh yeah! Right out of the great Pier Paolo Pasolini's final oeuvre, "SALO: 120 Days of Sodom."

Perhaps the best, most accurate review of the "Ratzinger Sex Fantasy Film" comes from the Cinema Snob and is worth a look today...

Friday, March 05, 2010

You Had Better Do What You Are Told . . . Listen to the Radio

by Dick Mac

In the 1960s I found AM rock radio to be a little slice of heaven. The soundtrack for hot summer days in the projects was often WRKO-AM's Top 40 music, and it was exciting!

Then in the early 70s my world was changed by WBCN-FM, the first commercial rock FM radio station in the world was right in my hometown. As that decade grew to a close, FM radio became a vast wasteland of pablum, mediocrity, and commercialism. I realized that I would rather listen to the same scratchy 45-RPM single over and over again than listen to ego-bloated FM jocks, newly-minted shock jocks, and the boring middle-of-the-road so-called rock music that they played.

In the early 1980s I found WBUR and NPR.

Now I listen to WNYC, and I am so happy I have it.

Public radio requires listener support. The so-called 'moderates' and 'conservatives' (which, by the way is the same thing in America) will tell you that there should be no public funding for NPR and the other programs that make-up public radio.

In reality, government funding is only 7% of funding for public radio, and I am willing to hazard a guess that the 7% is dramatically lower than all the tax breaks given to commercial radio stations, which means I believe public radio costs the taxpayer less than commercial radio.

Because I prefer NPR programming and don't like to listen to commercials for booze, condoms, and douche bags, I have to pay a little money.

Today is the last day of WNYC's Winter Fundraiser. I made my contribution. Have you?

Support your local public radio station.

WNYC Support Page

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Presidential Reunion - Humor

by Dick Mac

In the late 1960s and early 70s, David Frye raised the bar of presidential humor with his send-ups of Richard Nixon. He released comedy records that were funny and sophisticated. The American public loved it, and Frye become a bit of a superstar in television and radio lands.

Nobody was ever able to approach his level until Saturday Night Live.

Over the past thirty years, the various casts of SNL have done amazing comedy sketches about our commanders-in-chief. Whether it was Dana Carvey's Bush I, Darrell Hammond's Clinton, Will Ferrell's Bush 2, or Fred Armisen's Obama, they never seem to miss the mark.

In this video, Ron Howard directs an impressive TV cast in a send-up of our most recent Presidents.

If this embeded version is disabled, go to the Funny or Die site to view it: Funny or Die's Presidential Reunion

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

How Do We Get The Children To School?

by Dick Mac

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) continues to hold public hearings on their plan to eliminate free transit cards for students to and from school. These are not college students, these are children: high school and junior high school students.

When I was in high school, I got a transit pass that allowed me to take a subway train to a bus miles and miles to my school. This made good sense. The number of school buses on the streets was kept to a minimum, the public infrastructure was being used, and tax dollars were being spent to advance society and civilization. Which old-fashioned me thinks is one of the points of taxation.

The decade following my graduation from high school, it was decided that government should not run like a government, it should run like a business. I'd like you to show me one single solitary business in the United States that operates effectively to benefit shareholders and civilization and the tax-payers who constantly cut it breaks. There isn't one. There is not a single American company that I think the government should emulate. The government should function as a government and it should provide transportation to minor students (children) getting to and from school. The education of these students is the future of our civilization. Not, as I like to say, that civilization means anything to most Americans.

If the City of New York is required to put more school buses on the streets to move students to and from school, the streets will be a disaster. Add to the additional school buses the number of families who will begin driving their children to school because it is cheaper than buying a subway card. Nobody will get anywhere and commerce will be brought to a stand-still.

We should use the public transit system to move urban students to and from school, and the government should find a way to make it happen.

New York City can't rely on Albany to do anything. New York has not had an effective governor since Mario Cuomo, and the buffoons currently in the Executive and Legislative branches have no interest in civilization, they are only interested in themselves and keeping their prisons full of men of color from the city who are busted on drug charges.

So what's a municipality to do? Demand that the program be retained, take it off the negotiating table, and get back to addressing other problems.

Mike Bloomberg, you have been a terrible mayor. Do this one thing for your citizens. Do this. Make the MTA stop this foolishness.

Monday, March 01, 2010

That's What He Gets For Being Poor . . .

Curtis Mitchell's wife Sharon Edge outside thier home.  Photo from AP.. . . if he lived in a better neighborhood, he would have gotten an ambulance.

by Dick Mac

Curtis Mitchell lived in the Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh. His common-law wife, Sharon Edge, called for an ambulance in the early hours of February 6, 2010, during a snowstorm. Mitchell got his ambulance thirty hours later. He was dead.

Pittsburgh officials admit the following shortcomings:

• Details of Mitchell's calls weren't passed on from one 911 operator to another as shifts changed, so each call was treated as a new incident.

• Twice, ambulances were as close as a quarter-mile from Mitchell's home but drivers said deep snow prevented the vehicles from crossing a small bridge over railroad tracks to reach him. Mitchell was told each time he'd have to walk through the snow to the ambulances; in neither case did paramedics walk to get him.

• Once, an ambulance made it across the bridge and was at the opposite end of the block on the narrow street where the couple lived — a little more than a football field's length. Again, paramedics didn't try to walk.

The most amazing part of this story is that the couple was told three times that the sick man would have to walk through the snow to the ambulance; never did the paramedics get out of their ambulances and walk to him. AND, each time they were unable to walk through the snow, their call was cancelled!

I wonder how many white, middle-class people in Pittsburgh died after 30 hours of abdominal pain during the snowstorm of February 6th?

I know in Reagan's America I am not allowed to suggest that racism was at play here. "Conservatives" will tell us it would have happened to a white person living in that part of town, too. Of course, "those" parts of town are rarely home to white people.

So, my argument is reduced to an economic one that is faced with the notions that it was his own fault that he was poor; this is America and he had his chance to get rich and he failed, so this is just the by-product of a successful market-based economy and society. The government, of course, should not actually be responsible for making certain that poor people have access to health care, or even municipal services such as ambulances and paramedics.

When "conservatives" get their way, the government won't be providing ANY ambulances or paramedics, they will be private services that you can call for: like pizza or a taxi. If you have the money to pay for it. If not, well then tough luck.

And that's what Curtis Mitchell had: tough luck. Too bad your job was lost when your steel mill moved their jobs off-shore. Too bad you didn't have money to sink into the stock market when times were good. Too bad, Curtis Mitchell; what do you want from us?

There is no scandal in this story: this is the story of America. If you can't afford it, then you don't deserve it.

A civilized people would not have let Curtis Mitchell die. We are not a civilized people, we are a market. Civilization is expensive and Americans have no interest in paying for it.

Pa. man dies during storm when 911 calls unheeded