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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

LIVE, in Brooklyn

Who: X-Ray Eyeballs, Glittering Prizes, Bosco Delrey, and Micki Pellerano (DJing)

When: Tuesday, February 28= 9:30pm-1:30am

Where: Glasslands Gallery- 289 Kent Ave- Brooklyn, NYC

I was lucky enough, thanks to my friend Bill in Bosco Delrey, to get onto the guest list and avoid the $10 cover. The venue reminded me of one of the college frat lounges from Kenyon, my college. But, it wasn't preppy or stuffy; it was very charmingly dingy, very punk-indie chic! In fact, you would have walked right passed the place because, other than a wooden door with a closed sign over it, you couldn't tell there was anything there from the outside view, except if people were standing outside.
Upon entering, you see the bar to your right and the stage straight ahead. There is seating up the stairs on what looks like a big raised wooden platform. You can see seams, piping, and wood; there is not painting things over or hiding them behind a tarp. Even the bathroom seemed makeshift. I kept expecting Lou Reed to pop out of the wall, the place was that seedy and dowdy (but in a good way). The stage had all of these what looked like feathers or crepe paper festooned over the ceiling and wall. I was told it was coffee filters arranged there by a local artist. It was arrange to look like smoke or a billowing cloud coming out of the stage. Whenever the lights changed color on the stage, so did the coffee filters. It was a very artsy economical, cool effect. Who the hell needs expensive art or giant screens with psychedelics? All you need is stage lights and coffee filters which does the trick quite nicely.
However, I didn't want to write this post solely about the grunge charm of the venue. I wanted to talk about MUSIC. The four bands that played were as different as night and day. First of all, the show started a little later than scheduled because the first band showed up late. Better late than never, I always say. So punk-grunge to not give a damn about time!

Band #1
- So I do not know the name of the first band. It was three guys, and their sound was something raw and hardcore. It reminded me of Husker Du, early Meat Puppets, 1980's Sonic Youth (via 'Bad Moon Rising'). Now, to be honest, this really isn't my thing. It was too loud (no, I'm not too old); my ears were vibrating. Also, though I was bobbing to the beat a little bit, I just didn't care for the set as a whole. They played only 3 or 4 songs, but I really have to be honest here at saying that there is nothing too memorable about this band. Shit, I don't even know their name. Okay, let's move on then, shall we?

Glittering Prizes- This is a band birthed out of Bosco Delrey. The bassist and guitarist do a two-man/woman thing that incorporates some glam/disco/indie/punkish rock. They switched off vocals/keyboard/guitar and I give hats off to being versatile and kinetic. I always thought it was way boring when bands stick with the same instruments. Change it up, like Shakespeare would have in his plays; get up and switch instruments. I really thought that idea was completely genius. I really liked this duo, A LOT! I would say that if they end up releasing tracks on Itunes or eventually, a whole album, I'd get it. The sound is very Blondie (early years), Bird and the Bee, Blur, Luna, Air, and early Human League. It had this funky 70's/80's vibe but mixed it into this cool indie NOW kind of thing. It was surreal and trippy, and you couldn't help but just turn off your brain and let the music seep into your soul, your blood.

Bosco Delrey- They were the belle of the ball in my opinion. I'm not just saying that because I'm friends with the drummer. Seriously, putting on my critic hat (or music gestapo hat), they were amazing.
SIDENOTE: Btw, I was going to say 'music nazi' but for obvious reasons, I wouldn't call myself that. Seriously, though I have such strong opinions on music that I could be another judge on American Idol and make Simon Cowell look like a big ole' pussycat.
So Bosco Delrey were great. I wanted their set to be longer, as they were the gem of the show. They have so many different vibes going on at once that it reminds me of like ten different genres/bands immediately. Yet, they ARE their own thing. Nothing is like their look/sound. First of all the bassist reminds me of a cross of Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth and D'Arcy from Smashing Pumpkins. Stone cold face with killer riffs. The lead singer is like a cross of Mick Jagger, Morrisey, and Jim Morrison; he has this dark hypnotic vibe where if you're watching you cannot take your eyes off of him. He entrances the audience with his vocals and interactions. He knows how to work a crowd for sure. The drummer reminds me of a calmer Keith Moon from The Who, or in fact like Animal from the Muppets. The lead guitarist plays stoically just like Slash or Joe Perry, not upstaging anyone with killer chords.
Their sound merges so much, a big ole' steamin' soup of: Rolling Stones, The Smiths, The Animals, The Doors, Flaming Lips, and Velvet Underground. It is so distinct and yet surreal. I feel that if I were going on a cross country road trip on a motorcycle that this would be my soundtrack. This is the beatnik/Keroac/lost hippie sound of the new era! Bosco Delrey is a band that WILL continue to go places, I'm certain of it. They are one of the rare acts where the band sounds pretty good on recording but even BETTER live! You can say I have drank the kool-aid; I dig their bitchin' sound.

Yes, their music was in an episode of 'Skins' (from season 1). They were also just featured in Sports Illustrated. And, they just returned from a European tour. Yea, this band is going places!

X-Ray Eyeballs
- They were the last band. They were celebrating the new release of their album 'Splendor, Squalor'. I personally like them better on recording; not live. Their music actually made me feel a little violated, a little nauseous. It was too raucous and dissonant. The aspects just didn't really seem to meld together. I didn't care AT ALL for the vocalist. Too jarring! The background instrumentals were great, and if the band was just that, no vocals, I would have enjoyed it thoroughly better. The sound of X-Ray Eyeballs is a little too weird for me. It's a gritty punk/industrial/synth-pop/early grunge sounds. It reminds me of early Misfits, early Nirvana mixed with Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Psychedelic Furs, and Bauhaus. It's that steely, gritty punk/grunge mixed with a new wave/80's underground twist. I really have to say that I like this band a lot better recorded than live. It's not that I don't like them at all! I do, it's just their dissonant grit doesn't translate in person.

The DJ was great, Micki Pellerano (artist/filmographer/musician). He is a bassist in the band Cult of Youth. He has great taste in music. I wanted most of the songs on his playlist for my Itunes. It shifted between post-punk grit to ethereal ambient edgy rock to disco indie pop. Bravo!

I think the funniest part of being at the show is that I didn't feel old at all. I did feel too uncool though. The vibe was totally hipster/scenster/indie rock. The look was asymmetrical haircuts, oversized coats, ankle boots, bright red lipstick, torn t-shirts/tanks and matchstick jeans. Even though I felt a little out of place being so ungrunge and all, I did enjoy the atmosphere. I mean, you can't avoid being surrounded by hippsters in Williamsburg, unless that is, you go to the Jewish frum part of town. Then, I'd be very out of place in a different way. Sadly, I did not see any 'jipsters' (Jewish-Orthodox hipsters). At one point, I saw a guy with a long beard with a girl who had her head covered but I don't think they were frum.

Anyway, I have to thank Bill for making my night by inviting me out to Glasslands Gallery. I felt like I was in a time warp, even though I did feel so un-hipster. In fact, I'm glad no one took me out back to half-shave my head and don me in a leather jacket, eyeliner, cowboy boots, and spaghetti jeans. Phew! Crisis averted, it was an excellent show! Though, I do feel it was a bit of a soggy sandwich, where the opening and closing bands were like wilted, soggy bread and the middle was the good part (meat, tomato, lettuce, etc). A big salute to Bosco Delrey. This band is HOT! Book them on Jimmy Fallon right away!

Peace out,


Monday, February 27, 2012

Are you in the Scissterhood?

This is the new track by Scissor Sisters with (SUPPOSEDLY?) Azealia Banks (aka. Krystal Pepsy). Banks is American, from Harlem, and laid down her debut track a couple of months ago, '212' with Lazy Jay. joined with Scissor Sisters for their new track.

However, I read further that Azealia Banks is NOT behind this track. Instead, it 'Krystal Pepsy' is the name of the DJ duo creation of Jake Shears and Jeremy Lingvall.*


I still am left wondering who Krystal Pepsy is, but one thing is for sure: this track is HOT! I can't stop dancing to and humming it wherever I am. I hope that soon it will be available on I-tunes for download. I am also wondering if this means a new CD by the Scissor Sisters is in the works. Or, this side single project presents an opportunity for the Scissor Sisters to collaborate with artists in other genres and break even more barriers.

I have to say that the Scissor Sisters are my FAVORITE new rock/pop/funk/dance band around. I first picked up their debut CD at a Newbury Comics in Boston (on a whim, might I add) back in the fall of 2004 (I have that moment etched to my memory). Who would have ever guessed that my whim would lead to an 8 year courting relationship. Usually, bands are fickle in my world. They release a great song or two. Maybe if they're lucky I fall in love with a whole entire album, not just a few tracks. But, three CD's later, and I'm still smitten. The Scissor Sisters not only make great music, but their videos are insane!

I am also a sucker for great graphics and killer music videos. I am the MTV generation, so I expect a great video for every song. Just playing instruments with lame graphics is not enough anymore. Videos HAVE to tell a story or at least give you unforgettable visuals and soulful biography behind the music. Some of the greatest in my opinion are: 'November Rain' by Guns n' Roses, '; 'Runaway Train' by Soul Asylum, 'No Rain' by Blind Melon, 'Heart-Shaped Box' by Nirvana, 'Like a Prayer' by Madonna, 'We Didn't Start the Fire' by Billy Joel, and even 'Paparazzi' by Lady GaGa. These videos sear images into my memory.

The Scissor Sisters are MASTERS of an amazing music video. They are one of the FEW bands that can make a video make a song even more powerful and sensational. In their videos, the words match perfectly to the rhythm and visuals. It's like a circus for your senses. Also, their videos are strange and unusual and like Wynonna Ryder says as Lydia Deats in the 1988 film, 'Beetlejuice': 'Live people ignore the strange and unusual. I myself am strange and unusual.' I'm sure Tim Burton himself would appreciate the outlandish and brilliantly bizarre videos of the Scissor Sisters.

Even their 'Fire with Fire', where they sing on top of a moving platform stage down Manhattan's streets at night, is incredible and fits the song. Not many bands can get away with just playing their instruments like in some bad 80's hair band video. Every single video I watch by the Scissor Sisters is just mesmerizing.

I am very lucky to say that I've had the chance to see the Scissor Sisters live in concert. And, it was one of the top ten concerts I've ever been to; these guys put on an amazing show! Keep in mind that I've seen Dylan, The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Matisyahu, Idan Raichel Project, the list goes on and on. I've even seen a few festivals like Ozzfest, Bonnaroo, Warp Tour. Hi, my name is Rafi and I'm a concert junkie. I love a good live show!

When I saw Scissor Sisters back in 2010 at Terminal 5 in NYC, I walked away energized. The band is made up of Jake Shears (Sellards), Babydaddy (Scott Hoffman), Ana Matronic (Ana Lynch), Del Marquis (Derek Gruen), Paddy Boom (Patrick Seacor), and Randy Real (Randy Schrager). They have a huge GLBTQ following (but I'm straight..and don't care). In fact, when I saw them live, I felt like I was in a gay club. Though, what I notice about this band is that not only do they cross genres but they also do so in sub-culture. Since I've been to so many shows, I usually see a 'type' of crowd: punk, hip-hop, hippie, fratboy, yuppy, etc. However, the fans of Scissor Sisters aren't too this or too that. They just are!

I know all the words to the majority of their songs. When I bought 'Tah-Dah' it was playing on repeat on my car stereo for months. They are the only band that has had a hit with all three albums (in my opinion). I am a little scared, therefore, for them to come out with a fourth album because it might sour my already full throttle love affair with the band. But then, I think of videos/songs like 'Invisible Light' which I didn't really care for at first, but then boom, I loved it.

What other band could go through such metamorphosis of sounds and still have the Midas Touch. Literally, all music they touch turns to gold. They released their debut self-titled album in 2004. The album didn't have any definitive genre; yes, it was rock/pop but also so much more. Right away you think David Bowie and Freddy Mercury's love child. The songs are so different though; each one has its own flavor. You have high and low energy, ironic and sincere lyrics. It had great songs like 'Take Your Mama', 'Tits on the Radio', 'Filthy/Gorgeous', and a wonderful cover of Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb' (I didn't even know it was a cover at first and I am a huge fan of Pink Floyd.) Then in 2006 we get 'Tah-Dah' an entirely different sound that reminds me of 1920's/ragtime mixed with high energy punk disco. With songs like 'Land of a Thousand Words', 'I Can't Decide', 'Kiss You Off' (my fave), 'I Don't Feel Like Dancin', and 'Might Tell You Tonight' you get a balance of yin and yang. Then in 2009, we get 'Night Work' which is very 80's with an urban glam rock twist. Songs like 'Any Which Way', 'Invisible Light', 'Night Work', 'Skin Tight', and 'Sex and Violence' put some 80's movie montages right into my brain immediately. I seriously love every single album, every single song!

I have a feeling that the Scissor Sisters are on their way to major stardom, if they haven't gotten there already. After all, last spring they opened up for Lady GaGa and have collaborated with Elton John. However, this is a band that I can truly say I knew about before ANYONE did. I was always saying 'these guys will be big, I just know it.' They have been kindred, loyal friends who were there with me through major turning points in my life. I imagine our friendship will stay strong, and who knows, maybe I'll get to meet them all (and present my scissor pendant hemp necklaces). I have a thing where I make and present hemp necklaces to artists who majorly inspire me to be my best self.

Well here's to you Scissor Sisters. I am proud to be part of the Scissterhood and encourage others to join our ranks. You truly help your fans fight 'fire with fire'. Their lyrics/music is poetry for my soul!

'We knew all the answers
And we shouted them like anthems
Anxious and suspicious
That God knew how much we cheated.'
-'It Can't Come Quickly Enough' from Scissor Sisters

Eternal music lover,


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Music IS the food of love!

Brand Spankin' New Musack, Some Bitchin' Tunes


This a new band I just found out about, New Look. They are Canadian but moved/live in New York City. They have such a nice blend of retro and new. They fuse the sound of the late 80's/early 90's R&B/synth-pop into a blend of electronica/dance/indie underground. It sounds like something we may have heard before but only as an echo. This is something fresh! The vocalist, Sarah Ruba, is a former model but even her looks don't match the beauty of her haunting, melodic voice. This band fits right into the indie scene, yet they are not pure rock or pop. They blend genres unabashedly; though they are big in the UK, and the Brits are brilliant at choosing great music! I mean, one of these songs could fit into an episode of Skins UK (which always has great, new music to sample).

ALBUMS: New Look (2011)

'The Ballad': The song opens and you don't know if it will be upbeat or slow. Then comes the haunting evocative voice and lyrics of Sarah Ruba. The video matches up perfectly. You see a car driving through a rainy fog. Lyrics: 'Although this is hard for me to say. It's breaking my heart to, but hear it anyway. This is the part where we embrace. Come out of the dark and into the day.' At first, it sounds like some kind of passionate break-up song. However, at second glance it seems that it's a song about helping a friend coming to terms with the truth of something painful, perhaps addiction (ie. drugs) or one's sexuality. The lyrics: 'And all I want is to reach out and give you a hand to hold...And all I want is for you to know that you're not alone.' As 'you're not alone' repeats in the distance it really seems to be a song about advice and unconditional love. The friend could be addicted to drugs or faced with coming out. Whatever the case may be, the truth is hard; 'coming out of the dark' is never easy. When a person is faced with addiction and pain, they only wish for that one friend to rely on. This seems to be an anthem to friendship and soulfully so.

'Nap on the Bow': This song is a slow dance song but could also serve as background music to any great wine and cheese shindig. It is sophisticated and sexy, yet alluringly hip. You hear the perfect blend of synth-pop and R&B here. It is trippy and sobering at the same time. This is the perfect song to crank on your Ipod as you cruise the streets of NYC. For some reason I picture a woman, alone, in a trench coat walking the streets of any urban jungle. She looks behind her every now and again to make sure no one is following her as she makes her trek to her lover's apartment to spend some alone time with her secret beau. She is trapped between a relationship she despises and one she desires. The lyrics: 'I’m forever in the memory, all about you and me. I’m alone in the dark it's only us on this ark.' It's a love song but not in a mushy, dopey puppy way. The woman dreams of the day that she can escape her current relationship and only be in the arms of her lover. They can plan an escape. The lyrics: 'You and I on an island'. The woman and her lover are now in a boat, escaping to freedom; this is the woman's fantasy, a dream. She wakes up. Lyrics: 'Trying so hard to keep it away. We come, always the sunlight.' The song seems to suggest the pull of reality and fantasy. The dreamy vocals contrast to the rhythm and bass.

Other resources: ~ (official band site)
~ week-new-look/
(article on the band in Vogue)
~ (review on BBC)
(article on The Guardian)


This band is one of my favorites now. They are British (go figure) but blend this 80's synth/underground rock into a new era. The band is from Ealing, London. The members of the band include: Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave, and Jack Lawrence-Brown. They very much sound like whisperings of Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, and Ultravox. I LOVE THEIR SOUND! It cuts into your soul like razors into skin. The vocals bleed onto the instrumentals and you are left feeling hollow inside. Not only that, but the songs are catchy and smart. It isn't dribble, and you know this band can produce great art; you can count on them to NOT let you down. Usually, I HATE synthesized music, but since both this and New Look use them smartly, I think I have an addendum to make. Synthesizer is fine as long as you use it correctly and not use it as boring filler or unnecessary fluff. If it helps paint your picture, then by all means, it is okay.

ALBUMS: To Lose My Life (2009) and Ritual (2011)

'Unfinished Business': The lyrics of this song are really catchy once you listen to it for a few go's. However then you find yourself walking down the street singing 'just put down those scissors baby on this single bed' or 'you've got blood on your hands and I know it's mine'. Then people look at you like you're nuts (yes, I've had this happen before). The opening melodic synthesizer is like a funeral dirge. You know something strange is about to happen. I imagine that this song is something about a lover's quarrel possibly. It seems that the woman that is being sung to has just killed her lover. What else would she be doing with scissors? Also, why would the singer not see his reflection, have cold skin, and not be seen by his lover. Lyrics: 'A voice beckoned gently now it's time to go. A requiem played as you begged for forgiveness.' I have teetered between thinking that the man was murdered in front of or by his lover. I go with the latter though, as it seems that this woman in the song is guilty of the blood on her hands. But then again, maybe it is a murder. Whatever the case, the man is definitely dead and moving 'into the light'. Lyrics: 'There's a light in the distance waiting for me, I will wait for you.' It is a very romantic song in a Shakespearean tragedy kind of way.

'Bigger Than Us':

The video for this song is brilliant. This is a little more rock n' roll and less sleepy than the other songs by Whites Lies, though no less haunting. The video seems to tell the story of a scene reminiscent from those 80's alien flicks like 'ET' or 'Flight of the Navigator'. A boy is hooked up to medical equipment surrounded by doctors and nurses. Then, the strangest part of all, a little girl is rescued out of a large candy bar that says 'Bigger Than Us'. Then, the girl is carried/walks into a crowd of concerned onlookers and police. She is pursued by the boy. At her finding a billboard of herself with the candy bar, the boy grabs her and kisses her passionately. I don't really get it, but I'm not sure we're supposed to get it. The lyrics tell the story of a woman who seems lost and out of reach. Her lover is disconnected and cannot find her. Lyrics: 'You took the tunnel route home. You've never taken that way with me before. Did you feel the need for change? However, it seems to be not only a story of longing and loss but also of fate. There are some things in life that are too large for even love to conquer. Lyrics: 'I feel like I'm breaking up and I wanted to stay...this is bigger than us.' I'm not sure if the girl is abducted, or if the man suddenly dies. Perhaps the 'lights on the hillside' are aliens and he is taken away on a spaceship. Whatever the case might be, we are to assume there is a tragic loss; the lovers are separated forever. Not a song/band to play on your first date!

Other resources:
~ (official band site)
~ (bio on music emissions)


I'm sure by now you're like, damn, this kid must only pay attention to rock/pop charts in The UK. Well, yes, this band, though not directly from the UK, is a big deal there (I first heard their music in an episode of 'Misfits'.) . I can't help it! There are so many awesome bands/artists coming out of the England/UK music scene. I also watch tons of British shows. Don't worry, I have some suggestions of artists purely/mostly unknown in England, at the end of this blog. The Cults, however, hail from Manhattan, NY. Brian Oblivion (real name?) and Madeline Follin formed their band while they were at The New School Anyway, Cults seems to fuse some 50's/60's retro doo-wop pop with 80's synth-pop and some indie upbeat rock. It is so upbeat, that the lyrics don't seem to match the meaning of the lyrics to the songs. It reminds me of Leslie Gore's 'Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows' where something sinister seems to lurk in the background. Is everyone really this happy? Hell no!

ALBUMS: Cults (2011)

'Go Outside': The video starts with vintage video news footage of the Jonestown massacre. Right away, you know what's coming (that is if you know the background of this issue). The song starts very upbeat and seemingly carefree with a xylophone over a loop of Jim Jones speaking. CREEPY! Yet also poignant. The lyric, 'I really want to go outside and stop to see your day And of course, we get footage of Jones's followers dancing and writhing in his church. They look full of good cheer and glee. We then see footage of Jim Jones's cult/commune in Guyana. The most disturbing image of all is the children's choir (you know their cyanide Kool-Aid fate awaits). The song shows the need to get out and see the world and not be tied to another individual. Lyrics: 'You really want to stay inside and sleep the light away.' There is a warning: don't let another persons negativity drag you down or define you. Lyrics: I think that you should wake up. I think I want to live my life and you're just in my way.' If only the members of Jones's cult knew this information. The video doesn't show the massacre and carnage that unfolded. However, at reporters visiting Jonestown, they tried to get the truth about these people and if they wanted to leave. Jim Jones used bullying and threats of violence to scare his followers into submission. So it was never clear whether most of Jones's followers were using free will or were brainwashed. Moral of the story is, think for yourself and don't let others define you.

'Abducted': This song is just as creepy as 'Go Outside'. Again, the beginning sounds upbeat but then you hear the lyric 'I knew right then I'd been abducted.' Yikes! The video is even more terrifying, depicting a woman dressed in a thin nightgown tied up in the middle of a desolate winter road. The reel plays backwards, and we learn that she was dumped out of a trunk of a vintage muscle car. The song brilliantly switches between male and female vocals, presumably the victim and victimized. The song is raw and dangerous. The melody starts slow but crescendos into rock n' roll fervor. It seems to match what the song is saying, that in many relationships one person gives/loves more than the other. Lyrics: 'I knew right then that I would be taking her heart. I knew right then that I'd never love her.' Sometimes love can leave us feeling 'abducted' as if we get too deep into a relationship, a person can become obsessed and pour all emotion into another person. When that person is a void and doesn't reciprocate love, it leaves a person 'scarred'. Lyric" 'He tore me apart because I really loved him. He took my heart away and left me to bleed out.' The video shows what many victims of hapless circumstances dream about, being able to inflict their pain on the person who caused it. All too often though, the 'abducted' is left as bereft and hollowed out as their 'kidnapper'.

Other resources:
~ (band site)

Some other bands/artists to check out:

A) Cameron Stenger: a nice blend of folk/90's alternative. Ray LaMontagne meets Smashing Pumpkins (the earlier days).
albums are 'Fool's Day', 'Where You Are' and *'Lovers' *(release due in April 2012)

B) Doran Danoff: blend of blues/funk/ragtime/barber shop/country roots. I really have nothing to compare it to; it stands on its own.
-albums are 'The Icarus Suite' and 'The Ghost and the Scratch'

C) Cuddle Magic: definitely well versed on the hipster scene but a good folky/indie/acoustic. They remind me of bands like The Peaches or Department of Eagles. Smart and ironic lyrics!
-albums are 'Cuddle Magic', 'Picture' and (soon to be released) 'Info Nympho'

D) Bosco Delrey: A rock n' roll/synth-pop fusion and haberdashery of wild sounds (60s, 90s, now); have been compared to Beck and The The. I think they sound like bands like Papercuts or Black Lips (on acid). YEA!
-albums are 'Evil Lives/Wild One', 'Space Junky/My My Racecar', and 'Everybody Wah'

All of the artists at the bottom of this post are bands/artists who I have personal connections with, and I am friends with! I hope they all find success and personal satisfaction in their music! They are all majorly talented and I wish them the best!

Keep on rockin' in the free world!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Babe loves bacon!

Normally, I wouldn't post things from 'The View' but their 'hot topics' are always interesting (especially when Whoopi Goldberg opens her mouth..she's amazing!). Also, I found this on Youtube at trying to find a song a friend of mine wrote about Rick Santorum and his views on feminism. As you know, he had gotten heat lately because he said that modern working women who are also feminists have pushed all women to work. However, we also know that today's definition of feminism is very different from when Betty Friedan wrote 'The Feminine Mystique' or when NOW was started up by her and later presided over by Patricia Ireland. Nowadays, feminism tries to include women of all parts of society: rich and poor, black and white, gay and straight, working and non, etc. However, a large percentage of women favor Rick Santorum and his backwards views on womanhood and what their role in our society is and should be.

The reason I am so alarmed, obviously, is because 2012 is a VERY big year for politics. This time around there is a lot on the line, too much if you ask me. The economy is in the shitter, we are facing an environmental crisis, countries like Syria, Iran, and N. Korea are more toxic than ever, marriage equality and abortion issues are on the table, and many Americans are fed up with the status quo.

So, now more than ever, it is crucial for people to be informed and get out there to vote. However, the choices we have for the presidency really scare me. I'm not talking about me or many of my friends (because I know who they and I will vote for..that doesn't worry me). What worries me is that many people will make choices either based on ignorance, blindness, or sheer stupidity (or all three).

Now, I'm not advocating for an intellectual elite to only have the right to vote, although that is very tempting. What I would hope is that people would read read read, and look at multiple sources. However, in the days of technology (if you read my last entry) we know that people have become lazier than ever. Also, in the 'Google Age', information is fast and furious (but often inaccurate). However, there are many people (more adults than children) who do not know how to sift through the information they receive online.

Many Americans tune into Fox News as a sole source, but I'm not going to sit here and just bash them. There are liberal and conservative sources that are guilty of playing the blame game and taking one side. They paint the other side as the 'evil' ones. This isn't much different than what natives did to colonists when discovering new lands. The indigenous people often told the European explorers that the people on the other side of the island were 'barbarians' and 'cannibals'. However, you would find that the other islanders would say the same thing about the first group of natives as well. Who was right? Ask the unlucky colonist sitting in a roasted human stew.

The same is true today in the world of politics, right? Hindsight is only ever 50/50. Maybe we're damned to vote for Democrats or Republicans. However, I know one thing, and that is we are definitely damned under the leadership of any GOP candidate. Actually, let's refer to them as 'GOP(igs)'.

I mean let's look at the list of losers (both recent past and present).

1) 'Bat Shit Crazy' Michele 'Pray Away' Bachmann
2) Herman 'Don Juan' Cain 'The Insane'
4) 'Greedy Beady Seedy' Newt 'Nuthouse' Gingrich
5) 'Slick Rick' Mitt 'The Masshole' Romney
6) 'Shit for Brains' Rick 'Google it' Santorum
7) Jon 'too honest and blunt' Huntsman

The last choice here is the least insane, but sadly, he was too normal for anyone to pay any attention to. That, and many of his views made some kind of sense. What I really do not understand is women who vote for any of these crazy idiots (aside from Michelle least you'd have the excuse of being in the 'Ya-Ya' sisterhood together). Most of the others, however, treat women like disposable contact lenses. You use them for the day, and throw them away when you're finished.

We know about Herman Cain and his womanizing ways. That's what ousted him from the race. Gingrich, however, left TWO wives (who were both sick) for someone more healthy (ie. attractive). He is a slimeball. When you look up greedy fat Republican pig in the dictionary, you see his little oink oink face. Let's just say I'm not a big fan of his. However, he doesn't really seem to have much of a chance these days. He is too busy talking about moon missions and taking away unemployment benefits. Because, seriously, people who are unemployed should just get off their lazy ass and stop getting money for doing nothing all day.

Then there's Rick Santorum. Where should I begin? He wants all women in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, fixing a five course meal. For some reason, though, he has gained numbers among women namely because of his views on abortion, birth control, and neonatal care. *1 So, women should have their babies (regardless of the situation) and not only that but the government should not get involved. Okay, so what about the millions of women who are uninsured. What about them?

Well, I guess something makes him a hit with Republican women, as his numbers have gone up 13 points since January and he has 57% of women backing him as a candidate. Scary, huh? What I don't get is how these women don't see through him and his clear craziness. Susan B. Anthony and the women of Seneca Falls are rolling in their grave as we speak; what did they fight for, after all?

As you may know, Santorum believes that birth control use among women leads to adulterous behavior (however, Viagra doesn't do this). Also, the government should not pay for the screening of infants at conception because when women learn of there being serious health problems, then they choose to abort. What the hell is wrong with this man? He advocates 'life' and 'family', but has he had to deal with a child with serious health/mental issues? Has he ever been raped? What about the 98% of Catholic women who have use or currently use birth control? *1

I mean, I think I speak for the majority of humans when I say that most people: 1) do not want 17 children, 2) are ill-equipped to deal with the consequences of life threatening/altering health ailments (for mother or child) and 3) rape and incest are not 'normative' circumstances. 'A child is not a choice', okay, but how can you say you stand for life and then contradict yourself? So every baby should be born regardless of the situation. Then who pays for it all? Not everyone lives a life where insurance flips the bill for most procedures.

If you ask me, Rick Santorum is a major PIG! He is totally out of touch with reality. I just really do not understand at all why any woman, Republican or not would agree with this clown.

I guess that leaves Mitt Romney, but you know what? Even though he was a bad word in the state of Massachusetts while I lived there for three years, he is more feasible than Santorum or Gingrich. BY A LONG SHOT! I'm not saying Romney would win against Barak Obama (actually I'm hoping any GOP doesn't). I just know that the security and safety of the future does not lie in the hands of any of the GOP (great oppressive pigs) running for the presidency.

I will leave you with a clip from one of my good friends ( this post is dedicated to her), who is singing a little ditty on her ukulele about Rick Santorum and feminists (Zooey Deschanel, eat your heart out!)


Peace out,



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paranoid Android

"By the time SkyNet became self-aware it had spread into millions of computer servers all across the planet. Ordinary computers in office buildings, dorm rooms, everywhere. It was software, in cyberspace. There was no system core. It could not be shut down. The attack began at 6:18 P.M. just as he said it would. Judgment Day. The day the human race was nearly destroyed by the weapons they built to protect themselves. I should have realized our destiny was never to stop Judgment Day; it was merely to survive it. Together. The Terminator knew. He tried to tell us, but I didn't want to hear it. Maybe the future has been written. I don't know. All I know is what the Terminator taught me. Never stop fighting. And I never will. The battle has just begun."
-'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines'

Don't worry, I'm not going to have a whole post about the apocalypse yet AGAIN. Although, this beginning monologue from T3 hooks perfectly onto the end of my last post and connects right into the subject of this one: technology and its many pitfalls and warnings. Have we become slaves to technology? Is it already too late to reverse the damning effects?

Before I get into a negative tangent on what nightmarish consequences that technology brings, I first want to go back in time to the 1980's during my childhood to frame a context. I did not grow up with texting, Ipads/phones, cell phones, computers, e-mail, mp3s/Ipods/Itunes, or even Internet. When I was a child, VCRs were brand new. I still remember the days pre-Blockbuster and Hollywood video when there were still mom n' pop video rental places. It was a novelty to go down to the corner video store and rent videos to watch on our VCR. Often, I would watch taped versions of Saturday morning cartoons and movies like 'Harry and the Hendersons', 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off', and 'Uncle Buck'. This was the cheap or lazy man's version of having movies ready to watch. I still go back to watch some of these videos, if only to see the now hilarious commercials and see the horrible haridos and outfits that were en vogue back then.

I lived in an age of microwaves, dust busters, Atari, casette tapes, and Walkmans (as big as your hand). My dad actually did have a CD player, but it was a heavy, metallic piece of fine machinery. I couldn't touch it unless I was supervised. He had a small collection of CD's, so I grew up listening to The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle, and The Moody Blues in surround sound. Our speakers were as big as a camp latch trunk. There were three metallic boxes stacked on top of one another: one where you put the CD in; one where you adjusted volume, bass, etc; and the other where the sound bars showed. It was serious! Every time you pressed on, the panel by the controls went in and made a little 'zzzz zrrt' noise. I mean, kids nowadays would think technology like this is Fred Flinstone stuff. Though the music at the time definitely reflected this new wave of computer byte technology.

I mean, I still remember rotary phones and the long rectangular cases that went with CD's when the technology first came out. You could only listen to the CD's at home though. You were consider lucky to have a tape deck in your car. Nowadays, I don't even know anyone that sells tapes. CD's are now becoming obsolete as well. At least vinyl hasn't gone out of style. I have both a record player and a fine collection of LPs, many of which I got from my college radio station (they would have been thrown out otherwise).

Technology has made a very fast growth in my lifetime, and I just turned 30. When you stop to think about it, it's sort of scary and intimidating. The first time I went on the Internet was freshman year of high school which is also around the same time I opened my first e-mail account on Hotmail. One of my computer savvy friends help me set it up. This same friend also used to sell hard disks of porn. This was back in the days before porn was easily accessed over the computer. I look back on the days of my youth like they were centuries ago. In fact, a student once asked me if 'I remember when you had to ask an operator for a telephone number' (funny). I'm too young for this, but I do remember when I first saw a DVD in a video store, around the age of 15, and thought to myself 'this will NEVER catch on!'. The joke's on me.

In elementary school, I can still remember learning about computers on the old Apple II, with the green screen. I learned how to type in commands and move a little turtle around, and store information on floppy disks (which were actually floppy) which was so cool at the time. Because my mom was in law school, I got to type many of my essays in 4th and 5th grade, a luxury few had. This was way before Microsoft Word and automatic spell check. Actually, the first essay I ever typed, I think it was in 3rd grade, I used a typewriter. Let me tell you that this was hell. You had to get everything right the first time, or use a lot of white out. Either way, it wasn't too fun!

Now, everything is so easy. Instead of kids using Encyclopedias or going to the library, the go online and do a search in Google. Many kids first stop is Wikipedia for information (which I also use but cringe at because anyone can change and fudge information). I have to admit that even though I like and embrace new technology that I'm pretty old school. I still use paper appointment books and address books. I like keeping information in notebooks and having paper calanders. I do not use a roledex, as my parents' was a messy and uncontrollable hodge podge of numbers (often out of date). We all use Google anytime we want to look something up. The printed word is also going out of style. Newspapers, magazines, books are often read either online or on machines like Kindles or Nooks. I refuse to get an e-reader because I still like the smell of new books and the atmosphere of book stores even more.

What I ask, however, is if we've become a slave to the technology we've created. Is the cautionary tale from movies series like The Terminator true? Are we, in fact, robots? Have we turned into the 'monster' we have created?

I would argue that many of the pitfalls about the Internet and developing technology can be frightening. We all know about 'trolls', the impish and immoral lame brained idiots who feel they can say anything on the Internet. Right now, they have freedom to harass and bully whomever they do not agree with. A few years ago, a mother from outside St. Louis, where I grew up, went on trial for posing as a fake teenager on MySpace and going after her daughter's peer because there were teenage issues over a boy (I think it was). Well, the mother, creating a fake identity, harassed this poor 14 year old girl and eventually the girl committed suicide. Disgusting if you ask me! However, this type of behavior is common nowadays. People can hide behind a computer and mask their emotion or lash out by posting, tweeting, or blogging anything at all.

Even celebrities and artists get attacked. Recently, when Lana Del Ray was on Saturday Night Live, her performance was panned by many SNL fans and other viewers of the show. Her twitter account was overrun with negative criticism. Thank goodness SNL fought back by having Kristin Wig portray Lana Del Ray and make fun of those ridiculous critics and naysayers. What the hell do these peons know? Now that anyone can write on the Internet, and seemingly gain their 15 minutes, everyone has an opinion on anything. I mean, how many people could perform on SNL period? Plus the fact that I stand up for Lana Del Ray. Not only do I think that her performance was fine, but I think she is a great artist. Her voice is like something between Kate Bush and Mazzy Starr. However, I diverge.

I know that I am sitting here sharing my own opinion, so in a way, it makes me a hypocrite. However, my friends, family, and acquaintances know that I am VERY opinionated on a great many topics and have been since I have been able to form words. I would share my opinions whether I was doing it on a blog or not.

I think technology has a great many advantages, don't get me wrong. We are more connected as a global society, health and our very livelihood has been improved, and in a sense we have loads of information at our fingertips. You can learn guitar online, learn to speak Chinese, learn how to cook Cajun food, or learn how to sew a dress. Just go on Youtube!

However, if we aren't careful, we could turn into mindless drones who hook in and tune out. We should still leave opportunity to take out the earbuds and look up from our Ipad to see the world around us. Smell a flower, look at the clouds, take a walk in the woods. I think we have become overstimulated and lose focus on the important things. We have become emotionally sterile and void of compassion for one another. We have lost certain skill sets and in time, can forget language and many other skills necessary for self-sufficiency.

In fact, what if our technological network went down for a day, a week, longer. What would happen if we couldn't use our cell phones, use the Internet, or even access the ATM? Would technology as we know it crash. How many of us know how to grow our own food, distill our own germ free water, or even start a fire. These are all skills that we NEED to know and they do not require the push of a button. We know so much because of computers, yet we know very little. I hope we stop to think what could happen if we don't read the warnings on the wall.

The next step as I see it is having chips implanted in our heads or hands that has all of our crucial information (banking, medical, etc) stored. After this happens, we become one step away from become slaves (to whom time will tell). People already use their phones to make credit card payments or store important records. In fact, my wife's aunt, who works for the IRS, saw a woman open a door with her hand. This idea of microchip technology is fascinating but it scares the SHIT out of me!

Imagine stores where you go into a dressing room trying on a red t-shirt. In the mirror, which is really a computer, you get suggestions for matching accessories or other clothing items in your size. A step further would be personalized advice for fitness and health advice because the mirror computer notices you have gained some weight. Then, there are options that appear in your phone/on a screen of places to eat that have healthy options for lunch (don't worry, your calorie count is also stored so you won't over eat). When you decide to go to the grocery store, you can scan some vegetables and see the farm they came from and get information about recipes. When you go to checkout, there is no human; a computer guides you through the process of using your phone/hand scan to make your payment. This scenario is nightmarish and horrific!

I will end with an eloquent e-mail from one of my good friends, Eli, who posed many critical questions about technology. It is ironic that he works in IT, but he is definitely thinking along the right wavelength:

"Societal cohesion has in the past been held together by common goals, common culture, and common faiths. The inner knowledge that something greater than you is watching and guiding your movements at all times helped mold and shape civilization through religion. As cultures continue their mixture in this ever shrinking world, we have lost all three of these commonalities, and thus lost our societal backbone. Since the mid 1800's man has increasingly turned away from classical religions and embraced technology as its new guiding light. Technology was new and could cross cultural boundaries relaying on common languages of math and science. It is only natural then that through technology man has tried to regain that ever presence that religion previously provided in order to hold society together. Perhaps without any conscious decision on the part of any individual, we have turned to technology for the feeling of safety that a close relationship with religion previously provided. We turn to the state to enforce civility and law and we turn to surveillance cameras to provide the all knowing eye of judgement we as humans seem to need to behave in a civil manner. We walk blissfully into a police state because we are desperately seeking some form of state, any form of state, to provide that feeling of oneness and cohesion we previously felt. The problem with technology as a religion however, is that it has no moral compass to guide it. We are building a Frakenstien's monster of laws and privacy violating systems without any soul to guide its use and limits. Is it possible to function as a people held together by constructs of law and wire rather than the three pillars of goals, culture, and faith? Only time will tell. We speak of the world changing and becoming colder, more impersonal, with the government and corporations given the ability to track our every move and yet we allow this to happen because there is a void that we need filled in our societal framework! Don't think that we as a people are more enlightened or advanced than our forefathers. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is the same game we are playing as they did, only with different labels. Only when man has the ability to think for themselves and make educated choices can this change. A healthy, well informed, critical thinking citizen that doesn't listen to news bites that are fed to them rather seeking out their own truths is the nightmare of the technological theocracy we have created. Is it any wonder that we are guided to becoming fatter, dumber, and fanatacisized over simple divisive topics that have little to no bearing on the real problems our society is currently facing? In a melting pot of cultures and histories can mankind turn to anything else besides its own creations to hold it together? We as a people need to start educating ourselves and having real dialogue with one other no matter how fun it is to put on your teams hat and vilify the 'other'. We need to find more meaningful ways to fill the societal void left in the collective and the individual when no philosophical truths can be agreed upon. I have no answers to this situation, only illumination and warnings." -Eli Houchins

While we are still in control of our own faculties and preside over technology, let's use it for good. As I write this, flying cars and cars that drive themselves are being developed as well as ways to get information easily downloaded into our very craniums. The latter is fiction as far as I know, but I'm sure it will be passe sooner than we think.

Signing out,


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Why DOES the sun go on shining? Don't they know...?

So, I just read a couple of articles this evening about Pope Benedict XVI being really sick and the Cardinals in Rome beginning the proceedings to elect a new pope. In fact, 22 new church clergymen have been admitted into the circle of Cardinals, including Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of NYC (formerly of St. Louis). Dolan, and the other 125 Cardinals under the age of 80, are all qualified to become the next pope. However, would any man want this positions, as it is seemingly etched in blood (whose I'm not sure). Why is this so interesting to a Jew, like myself? Well, I have read and have been told about the idea that the pope after the current one will be the 'anti-Christ' and usher in an age of terror and darkness. Supposedly, under this next pope, and THE LAST, the Vatican will fall and Catholicism will be doomed.*


-The Vatican/Rome will fall ('the town of seven hills will be destroyed')
-a man referred to as 'Peter the Roman' will lead this 'final persecution'
-Peter the Roman will usher in 'the end of days'..boom!

I also have been reading about the supposed Bible Code and Prophecies of St. Malachy lining up with every single Pope dating back all the way to the 10th century or so. The prediction called The Prophecies of St. Malachy, were written by a priest and Kabbalist from medieval times. While visiting Pope Innocent II in Rome during the year 1129, Malachy had a vision where he saw the succession of popes until the LAST ONE. Each pope has a 'nickname' of sorts that has to do with his origins, coat of arms, name, etc. Some of the coincidences are more than that, though some connections are a bit of a stretch.

Some examples: Pope Urban VIII was called 'Lillium et Rosa'. He was from Florence, whose arms have a fleur-de-lis. Also, there were bees on Urban's own coat of arms which connects to flowers as well, I guess. Or, take Pope Paul VI, whose coat of arms had three lilies; his nickname in the prophecy is 'Flos Florum'. Then, John Paul II, whose nickname was 'De laboris solis'; he was born during a solar eclipse. Coincidence?? You can even check out this list of names for St. Malachy's prophecy on Wikipedia!*


Now enough about popes and Catholicism! I'm a Jew; so what should it matter about all this business? Well, I find it fascinating that this news of Benedict XVI being sick comes at a time where our culture is obsessed with the apocalypse. We have countless books, movies, and television shows on the very subject. Even the History Channel seems to be jam packed with episodes on Bible Code/prophecy and how humans will be obliterated: earthquake, flood, disease, etc.

Obviously, this is also a big year, 2012. We all know about the theory of the Mayan calender that predicts that the world will end on December 21/22 2012 (the winter solstice). Now, I have to be honest that I do not buy into the world ending. Part of it is hoax and part of it is our culture of fear. If we are afraid, then we are more likely to act in ways that are self-serving and materialistic. I mean, the world might end but how do we know when? None of us knows the answer to that.

So, I say live your life everyday like it's the last. There is too much negativity and evil in the world nowadays. I mean, you could act upon urges of greed, lust, ego, hate but I really don't see a point. With the end of the world aside, we're all human and must die at some point. So, why not try to do as many good deeds and what my religion calls, mitzvot, in order to best serve the world. Do random acts of kindness and help people when they least expect it.

This should especially be true in today's society where many people don't have jobs, are down on their luck, are homeless, and/or dig through the garbage for tomorrow's meal. We need to help one another now more than ever. I don't want to get preachy though. However, my religion espouses the idea of tikkun olam, literally healing/fixing the world. Personally, I want to add to the greater good of humanity (and not because I believe it will get me into heaven or get me wealth and fame).

It is a scary thought to think that we may be on the brink of extinction. However, we cannot control what will happen. The only thing we CAN control is our own actions and words. I truly believe that with Hashem's (G-d's) help, we take our destiny in our hands and can either help shape a better tomorrow for all or just for ourselves.

Yes, in a way, these times do seem very imminent of some sort of major shift. There are books, movies, and tv shows that describe environmental catastrophe, alien invasion, major world war, lack of resources and overpopulation, or super strength plague. Some of these describe a zombie plague being our demise: shows like 'The Walking Dead' and movies like 28 Days Later, but also books like World War Z or Zone One. Our culture has become zombie obsessed. However, we also have books like The Road by Cormac McCarthy where people end up eating each other, as there's a shortage of food and resources. There's also 'The Day After Tomorrow', '2012', 'War of the Worlds', 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers', 'Donnie Darko', even 'Independence Day', and the still popular book and tv movieThe Stand.

Despite how Hollywood or over-the-top some of these shows/books/movies might be, anything is possible. One cannot deny the major environmental shifts that our world is going through now. While some places freeze, others have major drought or monsoon rain (where there was previously another weather pattern for centuries). Our world is already at a staggering 7 billion people. Resources are becoming more scarce and diseases are getting more widespread. And, it's all connected. The more people, the more consumption. The change of weather patterns alters how crops grow and can cause people to become environmental refugees. Wars and unrest are springing up in many cultures and countries. You tune into the news, and it just seems to be too much.

So, return to my previous thought. Why worry? We can only control what we each do in this world. So why not do as much good as you can. Yes, we might be headed for a population purge of sorts. You can spend your time worrying about it or you can act. By choosing to act, you hopefully choose to promote peace, healing, positivity, and general comfort. I may sound hippie dippy, but it's either be a light in the darkness or go blind and get lost in the darkness. I choose the former. And you?

Until tomorrow,


Thursday, February 16, 2012

I am Woman, Hear me ROAR!

So it has come to my attention that in today's music world, there are many female artists who can hold a tune decently and put on a good show, but don't have what it takes to be in the unofficial female rock/pop hall of fame. Can you name five female artists who are currently performing and living and who also still sound like they did when their career began? I definitely can!

I guess what started me to think about this topic was Whitney Houston's recent death as well as that of Etta James and Amy Whinehouse. All three had amazing, incredible voices and each had very hard lives filled with drugs, abuse, alcohol, and tragedy. And, I can name a lot more female artists with incredible voices whose lives were defined by tragic circumstances: Janis Joplin, Mama Cass Elliot, Karen Carpenter, Selina. Maybe that's the key to a great artist, especially a female artist, a person who suffers greatly. There is the thought that great artists suffer for their art. It is the pain and suffering, after all, that makes lyrics to a song more powerful and deep.

I certainly don't like superficial musicians who sing about things they don't care about or things that are truly mundane. But, we're not talking about merely great artists, we're talking about great FEMALE musical artists. By definition, females (no matter the genre) have to battle against the 'pink glass ceiling'. They are in a world dominated and controlled by men. Though things have changed in that department, I can sit here and think of top record companies not being able to name any females who are running said record companies. I mean, there might be females who started/control some independent/indie labels but I cannot think of any major label that is run by a female.

In fact, according to an article on the UK Guardian, 66% of the industry is controlled by men and 77% of it is male dominated when it comes to promotions and major management positions. Even though this is the truth across the pond, I'm sure it is a similar story here in the US. In fact, within the UK, Andria Vidler is the first female in the history of the UK to have a top position in the music industry, as the EMI label president for the UK and Ireland. (1) Shocking?

That being said of women in the field of music executives, think about women musicians. Women, as musicians have to prove, even more so than men, that they are worthy of winning a Grammy or selling out a concert. If the artist in question dresses too provocatively, she's a 'whore'. If she doesn't sing like the women who blazed a path before her, than she's 'no-talent whore'. Female artists have a mystique and a persona that makes them extra-ordinary. They have to rise above the world of men and objectification. A good voice, a winning smile just isn't enough. So I ask again, who do you think of as the top female (living) vocalists of all time?

Did you say Joan Baez? That's who comes to my mind. Anyway, I had the pleasure of seeing (and meeting) Joan Baez back in November 2005. She was playing at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was a rainy cold night, but when I sat down to see Baez perform, she warmed the entire room. Not only was she candid and personal, reading from some of her political poetry, but she sounded EXACTLY like her albums. I was so enamored of her that afterwards, one of my good friends joked that I was going to become the next Mr. Baez.

I have to admit that I did put her signed CD in a special frame along with an 8x10 photograph of her performing on stage. I may have also put a bunch of 4x6 photos of her performing on my wall. But, c'mon it's JOAN BAEZ! She started the whole political music scene with Bob Dylan in the early sixties playing at dank, dark coffee houses in Greenwich Village. And, she is still authentic and sounds incredible.

However, unlike many of her peers, Joan Baez has stayed away from hard drugs and alcohol (at least to my knowledge). I can't really imagine her doing lines of coke or taking shots of Jager. She seems like more of a green tea and vegan oatmeal cookie type of gal.

So, in terms of great female vocalists and rockers, who else was, is, and continues to be amazing? There's Dolly Parton. She seems to also be as authentic and true grit as a Country Western song itself. I mean, yes she has had plastic surgery, but c'mon she still sounds and look incredible. I'm sure she takes care of herself in other ways than just botox. According to Jancee Dunn (an editor for Rolling Stone since 1989), Dolly Parton is as real as real can get and "does not need any extra 'color'" (139). Dunn wrote a memoir, 'But Enough About Me: How a Small-Town Girl went from Shag Carpet to the Red Carpet' which is an expose about her life growing up in New Jersey and then rubbing elbows with famous celebrities.

What's interesting is that Dunn's description of Dolly Parton is exactly what one would expect:

"Her voice made itself known first-she was signing the old hymn 'Peace in the
Valley' as she tapped over in her five-inch stiletto heels. She stopped to greet
me, put her hand jauntily on her hip, and patiently allowed me to gawk. She was
wearing a spectacular platinum wig, clingy black velvet two-piece pantsuit, big
silver earrings, multiple shades of purple eye shadow, and shiny, bubble-gum pink
lip gloss. 'Well, hello' she said with a big grin. Who is like her, in all the
world? Who is her successor? That mind-bogglingly small waist! Those glorious
knockers! This glitzy getup was-hand to God-all for her trip to the chiropractor
later in the afternoon. She cheerfully explained that most people would be
frightened to look 'this cheap and whorey' but not her" (140).

Then Dunn goes on to say that she wants to test if what she has read about Dolly Parton is really true; does she like to snack on Velveeta cheese? Dolly Parton doesn't avoid the question or blush, she just gets up to grab a whole block of Velveeta: "There was a bomb shelter's worth of tinned SPAM, cans of corned-beef hash, loaves upon loaves of delightfully spongy white bread, and a giant brick of Velveeta" (142). Do you know many rock stars who would be this authentic and unabashedly frank. Dolly Parton doesn't give a care; she is a glitzy Southern barbie doll who likes to eat Spam and Velveeta. And, you have to admit that her voice still sounds incredible. She is on my top ten list of top female artists as well as musicians I would die to meet in person. I would just love to meet her; you know, for a sit n' chat. *2

I mean don't get me wrong, when you look around there is some incredible female talent: Lady GaGa, Adele, Feist, Norah Jones, Cat Power, Carrie Underwood. But, are any of them INCREDIBLE to the point of being like, 'damn, I really want to meet her'? Joan Baez and Dolly Parton are. I mean, I have met the former and she is not only nice and authentic, but she respects and admires her fans as much as they do her. So maybe that's it, that female artists have to not only have a grand persona but present a veneer thin enough that she doesn't become 'a frosty bitch'. Great female artists are not only talented, but they are women who you would want to gather at your dining room table and break bread with.

The only other woman I can say has an amazing presence and talent in terms of rock history is Pat Benetar. That woman is tough as nails. Plus, she started out singing blues/jazz in cabaret clubs. She was trained in classical and theatrical singing too. WHAT? She didn't make a natural transition like Debbie Harry (aka Blondie) from punk to new wave. Pat Benetar was singing Ella Fitzgerald and then transitioned over to rock. Not only does she have some amazing hits and set fashion trends for the early/mid eighties, but she still rocks out and looks really hot too (BTW, she has a fan club site: I actually found out that she's playing at Irving Plaza in March. She is definitely on my list of artists who I would pay good money to see and possibly meet. I just like how she has a persona of 'you f- with me and I'll cut your nads off, mister'. She doesn't mess around. And, maybe the key is just that. As a woman in the music world, you have to have thick skin.

Think back to the female artists who are no longer with us and the circumstances of their lives. Maybe a big reason for the burning out of stars so bright is the great pressure. Trying to look good and sing well; it's a lot of pressure for any person. Madonna became more spiritual and got into Kabbalah (or at least her version of it anyway). Some singers don't smoke or drink, and others eat (or don't) certain foods and stay on regimented diets that sound weird to the rest of us. Female musicians have a lot they have to think about so if raw food and yoga does the trick, then more power to that person.

I dedicate this entry to the women rockers and musicians. They dare to step into a man's world and define music by their own set of rules! ROCK ON, ladies!




*2 Dunn, Jancee. 'But Enough about Me: How a Small-Town Girl Went from Shag Carpet to the Red Carpet.' New York: Harper Entertainment, 2006.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Sham

Really, what is the big f-ing deal about Valentine's Day? It is another day where commercialization and consumerism make us into zombies. blergh.

So, here's a novel idea. Why don't we tell our loved ones how much we love them EVERY day of the freakin' year? Why don't we learn to live each day like it's Valentine's Day, like it's our or our loved one's last. A little depressing and sad? Yes, but we all are mortal, right?

So why do most of us get caught in that web of mania on V-day and go (LADY) gaga looking for the perfect card, the perfect gift. Then, next year you will outdo your gift from last year. I mean, why not buy jewelry tomorrow to tell your wife you love her? Why not get some champagne this weekend to show your boyfriend how much you care? Take your loved one out to dinner on some other day of the year. For F#$@'S sake, give an IOU for a foot or back rub on a day of the recipient's choosing.

I mean, really, isn't this day a clever ploy made up by Hallmark or some other big corporation like 1-800 Flowers or Godiva. C'mon people!!

Does anyone even know the origins of the damn holiday. Or has it become like Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, even Cinco de Mayo, AND Christmas, where all origins and religious ties have mostly been broken.

I spared you the hard work, and I did some research, reading articles on both NPR and The History Channel, I edimicated myself on Valentine's Day. According to the NPR article, the Romans were very keen on observing the Feast of Lupercalia, which is thought to be some form of an origin of our Valentine's Day. (1)

The Romans observed this feast from February 13th to th 15th by killing and sacrificing dogs and goats. The best part, however, is when the men celebrating would beat the women with the hides of the animals that were killed for the sacrifice. Brilliant, right? It gets better. The women were willing particpants (and they were naked); they believed that being beaten with dead animal hide would increase their chances of getting pregnant and having children. Women and men were also paired off together and copulated for the duration of the festival. Sounds like a hootinany, huh? Well the sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll couldn't have lasted forever. Later, Pope Gelasius I combined St. Valentine's Day with the pagan Feast of Lupercalia in an attempt to discourage people from practicing pagan rituals. (1) I think he was just an old prude! Who doesn't like a good orgy, anyway?

Where does 'valentine' come from? Well, glad you asked. Supposedly, according to the NPR article, Claudius II, a Roman emperor, had two men killed who were both (ironically) named Valentine on two separate occasions. (1) Why were the men killed? It is thought that one of the Valentines was a priest who was banned from performing marriages because Claudius II thought that single men made better soldiers than men who were married with kids. I guess they were more focused? More energized? Why couldn't he have just given them Red Bull? I guess Claudius didn't want his men to start weeping at the thought of never seeing their dearest loves ever again if. If they were loners and losers, then they'd fight better, right? Well, Valentine countinued to perform marriages against Cladius's decree and 'off with his head'. (2)

It is also possible that one of the Valentines helped break Christians out of Roman jails. It was fashionable back when Christianity wasn't so popular administer torture and abuse to Christians. Then when, Christianity became more popular, they returned the favor by torturing and abusing non-Christians. Persecution is the gift that keeps on giving. Anyway, so it is also thought by some that Valentine, himself, was put into prison and fell in love with a girl who may have been his imprisoner's daughter. He apparently wrote her 'the first valentine', but sources are very unclear about this. (2) If you ask me, it sounds like a horeshit kind of story.

And the card thing? Shakespeare and Chaucer mentioned it in their writing, and the art of sonnets and card making became the vogue thing to do in the Middle Ages. Then during the Industrial Revolution, card making took up speed in America. Hallmark started to churn out cards by the hundreds in 1913, and so you can blame them for all those sappy Cathy, Ziggy, and cute cat/dog Valentine's cards. In 2010, this country spent 17.6 billion buckaroos on this damn holiday.(1) Now we have our current Valentine's holiday of pink, red, and white puke-o-rama. Can't you tell I love it! Actually, in high school I used to paint my nails black, dress in all black, and go around the hallways quoting Edgar Allan Poe. How ROMANTIC!!

I guess I should end this entry by listing some great tunes/videos to listen to on this day of February 14th. I'll leave it as a top 10 list of great V-day songs (no particular order of best to worst..just a list). Some are covers, some are songs you've never heard of or may not associate with valentine shmalentine..well I don't give a f-! Deal with it!

10. Harry Nilsson- 'Without You' (especially the visual from the movie 'The Rules of Attraction':THE FOLLOWING IS GRAPHIC AND NOT SUITABLE FOR 18-
9. Stabbing Westward- 'Shame'
8. Cameron Stenger- 'Wicked Game' (original by Chris Isaak)
7. Portishead- 'Sour Times' (this was my MS anthem)
6. Eddi Reader- 'Nobody Lives Without Love'
5. Miles Davis Quartet- 'My Funny Valentine' (the Chet Baker version is great, but it's overdone)
4. Nirvana- 'Heart-Shaped Box' (the video is BRILLIANT)
3. Nine Inch Nails-'The Perfect Drug'(again, the video is BRILLIANT)
2. Radiohead- 'Exit Music (for a Film)'
1. Stevie Wonder- 'Part-time Lover'

There ya go folks. Happy Valentine's Day however you choose to spend it (or not spend it). I will end with something one of my friends said on Facebook on Valentine's Day:

"Feb 14 is just another day....a day we should use to tell the people we care about that we care about them. Husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, siblings, parents, family, children, students, people we work with.... Etc etc....doesn't need tone written in chocolate or rose petals.... Doesn't need to be on a card.... Just a smile as you walk by.... Stopping to sincerely ask how someone... is doing or a good laugh in your office. I personally like a special day in the middle of a dreary month that focuses on the positives of being human... Our remarkable ability to cherish the people around us. And if you choose you can just treat it like any other day....."
(Thanks, Kristyl)

All the best for a peaceful existence!

Yours truly,