Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Too Much On The Magic Bus

Who saw this coming? Turns out a Lousiana state trooper noticed a strong smell of marijuana when Willie Nelson's tour bus was pulled over on a traffic stop. Giving new meaning to the term Farm Aid, the cop finds almost 2 pounds of pot on the bus, as well as a copious amount of magic mushrooms. You get the feeling Willie wasn't there on no research project, to paraphrase David Bromberg in his most excellent cover version of Mr. Bojangles. What I found most interesting was that the 73-year-old Willie wasn't even the oldest person given a ticket for possession; that, ahem, doobie-ous designation goes to Willie's sister, 75-year-old Bobbie Nelson. And the youngest dude clocked in at 50. Not that there's anything wrong with that. This is a reality series waiting to happen. Word has it that there's a long line of roadies volunteering to work gratis for the next leg of the tour...

Five years ago at around this time, The NY Times started publishing A Nation Challenged: Portraits of Grief , their special section devoted to coverage of the terrorist attacks and their aftermath. I remember the days following 9/11, reading those capsulated memorials of the victims' lives made me break out in tears almost every time over the senseless loss of life. Now imagine the thousands of American soldiers lost in the march of folly that is the Iraq war, and the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian killed by our hands. It seems life has become a little less precious somehow and a lot more fleeting...

So much for truth in journalism. It seems some joker won like $600,000 on game show Deal or No Deal, hosted by sometimes funny but now suddenly disturbingly omnipresent Howie Mandel. I watched about 10 minutes of the show last season -- 10 minutes of my life, as the kids say, that I will never get back -- but today's Daily News had a story on the Staten Island truck driver, charitably calling him a Ralph Kramden look-alike. But what had me chuckling was when they described this fat fuck as "beefy"! Webster's dictionary defines beefy as "muscular in build, or brawny." No, my friends, calling this obese slob beefy is like saying Moby-Dick is just a big fish. Decide for yourself, folks. Oh yeah, now the fucking guy wants his own show and is referring to himself in the third person: "Matty wants to be on TV." I guess when your stomach qualifies for its own census tract, you can sometimes lose track of yourself. http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/453811p-381867c.html

Last week while fooling around on the Mac I use here at LT, I found out that whoever sat at the desk where I sit now could almost pass for my musical doppelganger. They laid off the fulltime proofers here in mid-June, hence my presence as a freelancer, but left behind were over 20 GB's of iTunes, or 4,440 songs, enuf apparently to last for 12.8 days. I am thankful for this timeless gift and legacy of good taste. I guess proofreaders really do it better. Now all I need to do is save up for an iPod and, presto, I can fill it up with downloads of songs by Dylan, Neil Young, Morphine, Johnny Cash, Beck, Moby, Beth Orton, Tom Waits, Coldplay, Lucinda, the Stones, CCR, Black Sabbath, White Stripes, Peter Tosh, Cypress Hill, Son House, Elvis Costello, Pixies, Pavement, the Smiths, Lightnin' Hopkins, Jesus & Mary Chain, Robyn Hitchcock, Radiohead, Velvet Underground, Warren Zevon, even William Burroughs, Cat Power, Mazzy Star, Bright Eyes, Stephen Malkmus ... on and on it goes. There's also more than a little (too much) Mozart, Debussy, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, even the ever-popular Gregorian chants...

...Now that I think of it, I kind of did the same thing in my last days at the Transcript. I had just gotten a new Dell computer, and I downloaded about 30 or 40 great CDs I brought from home onto my hard drive, great stuff if I do say so myself like the Clash, Vulgar Boatmen, Steel Pulse, Louis XIV, the Shins, Hot Tuna, Marley, Dylan... so some lucky person who inherited my work space can enjoy their great good fortune for having digitally crossed my path. So it goes. For now I will listen & learn & enjoy my own serendipitous good fortune.

Speaking of serendipity, last week on Jeopardy the Final Jeopardy category was "A 1950s POEM." As soon as I saw the clue, I knew the answer was gonna be Allen Ginsberg's Howl, because really how many poems from that decade, or any decade, are etched into popular culture enuf to warrant such a mention. Maybe Robert Frost, or Carl Sandburg. Sure enuf, Alex came back after the commercial interlude and recited a few of the more obscure verses, not the opening line -- I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness -- which would have been a giveaway, but there was a reference to a mental institution, if I remember correctly. Only one contestant was hip enuf to get the answer, or the question, as the case may be, but it was enuf to propel her to well-deserved victory. You could tell she was very happy that knowing such relative arcana literally paid off for her.

Caught a few minutes of Bush's unhinged press conference on the News Hour last Friday, following the Senate's bitch slap of his proposed Cover My Ass, None Dare Call It Torture legislation. Apparently the basic precepts of the Geneva Conventions still are unclear to him, because he was seen asking the musical question, "What does that mean, 'outrages against human dignity'? It's very vague." I don't know, call me naive, but maybe Abu Ghraib taught us that it is outrageous to lead a prisoner around by a leash, attach electrodes to someone's genitals, sic wild dogs on people, to waterboard someone, little things like that, in addition to the deplorable behavior by some of our fratboy troops which have not only outraged but also enraged large numbers of people around the world who now wish to do us even more harm than before 9/11. Let's not forget the goodwill this administration squandered back in 2001, when the world was all but united in grief and empathy toward us following the attacks. The sentiment was wholly shared by yours truly, a former punk rocker and self-styled anarchist in the best sense of the word, who wore a Fuck the Draft button during the freaking Carter Administration (until my mom summarily confiscated it lest my old-school Korean War veteran father catch sight of it), and who shocked my friends by wearing an American flag button for weeks after 9/11, who supported the invasion of Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and who wanted to just kill somebody or something for causing such death and destruction to my beloved City. But on Friday here was President Nutjob jabbing his finger like a crazy person at the assembed press corps, who were seen cowering in the face of his jittery bellicosity. The performance should have frightened any sane person, but after his 2004 debate meltdowns, especially the shocking incompetence Bush displayed in the first one, you have to ask if the nation has become inured to such behavior on the part of this belligerent bully. We have become an object of scorn for people around the world because of this lying megalomaniac , and I'm sick about it. Our long national nightmare indeed.

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