Friday, December 23, 2016

Elvis at Eighty-Two

An auspicious date on the musical calendar arrives January 8th. That's when we celebrate Elvis' eighty-second birthday, otherwise known as Winter Elvis Week. In case you haven't been paying attention, the Elvis business is bigger than ever. Forbes Magazine said that Elvis earned twenty-seven million dollars in 2016, second only to his son-in-law, Michael Jackson, among deceased entertainers. His estate is estimated to be close to four-hundred million dollars. Graceland is gearing up for an influx of visitors with a menu of movies, concerts, and receptions, including one for fan club presidents at the new, posh resort/hotel, The Guest House at Graceland. I have yet to visit, but the photographs look luxurious and my musician friends are raving about the four-hundred sixty-four seat theater and concert hall. Among other activities, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra plays the Cannon Center with celebrated Elvis impressionist Terry Mike Jeffrey. Also, there is an auction of Elvis stuff acquired from third party collectors. Listen, if I can't make it by, will somebody pick me up an authentic "TCB" necklace? I'm starting to think that Elvis is never going to give me one. But, then again, you never know.

It still amazes me that forty years after Elvis' death, the crowds just keep growing. Of course, there are still scores of fans who are convinced that Elvis faked his death for a multitude of reasons, and that he is still with us today. In fact, he's about to come out of the closet, or coffin, as the case may be. According to the Portly Gazette, it began with a mysterious fax sent from Graceland to Time Magazine saying only, "It's time." But I suspect that's one of those fake news sites we've been hearing so much about lately. A more credible source called Empire News reported that a homeless, eighty-year old man with a white beard was found deceased under an overpass in San Diego. The only thing anyone knew about him was his friends called him "Jesse." So a curious coroner ran his DNA through a national data bank and came up with an exact match to the King. The episode received so much press attention that experts were quick to deem it a hoax, which only proves that Elvis is still out there somewhere. He's been sighted so many times in Ottawa, Canada, that a street has been renamed "Elvis Lives Lane." He's been spotted in Kalamazoo, in a grocery store in Vicksburg, Michigan, and fishing on the Salmon River in Idaho. He also made a quick cameo appearance in 1990's "Home Alone" movie. The most probable explanation comes from the FBI, only it's still classified. An unnamed agent claimed that Elvis lost ten million dollars in a property deal connected to the Mafia. Fearing for his life, Elvis gave secret grand-jury testimony against the mob and went into the Witness Protection Program in 1977, living mostly in South America on a farm.

Go ahead and scoff but there's even an "Elvis Presley is Alive" Facebook page with fourteen-thousand followers. The administrator, who prefers anonymity, says they promise "one post per day," leading up to the proof that Elvis staged his own demise, and any person asserting otherwise will be banned from the page. The most recent online frenzy was caused when someone posted a YouTube video of a groundskeeper at Graceland with long, white-hair and beard that was surreptitiously filmed and supposedly of Elvis at eighty. The problem was he looked like a middle-aged man with a pony-tail and a beer gut, wearing a red, "Elvis Week" T-Shirt, a crumpled, blue baseball cap, and baggy jeans with a wallet sagging from the back pocket. That was the dead giveaway. When was the last time Elvis needed to carry a wallet?  He was also doing groundskeeper-like things such as pulling weeds and watering. At one point, a bald man appeared in the scene. Maybe it was Carl Perkins. The Express UK newspaper sent investigators to Memphis and discovered the man's name is Bill Barmer, an employee of Elvis Presley Enterprises and current internet sensation.

The most bizarre YouTube video is called "Elvis Presley- I'm Alive," posted by the Knights of the King's Realm, in which they assert that recordings have emerged with Elvis singing songs from the nineties. When the tapes were unearthed, a "Las Vegas TV special investigative unit," rushed out to run the new tunes through a computer voice print analysis and found an "exact match," to one Elvis A. Presley. Naturally, the songs have been collected in an album you can purchase titled "KINGTINUING," featuring the title tune, "I'm Alive." The track list includes: "Tears in Heaven," "La Vida Loca," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Have I Told You Lately," (which I guess is a remake of his classic 1957 version, unless the King is covering Van Morrison), and "Candle in the Wind," with both the original Marilyn Monroe version and the "Goodbye England's Rose" version. "E" had a thing for Princess Di in the nineties. The singer sounds vaguely like the seventies' Elvis, backed by revolting, nineties, techno music. Possibly the worst of both worlds, but the video has two million views. You think this is going away? I'm not an Elvis impersonator, but I am an Elvis channeler, and being a conduit, the King has asked me to deliver a message regarding the "I'm Alive" phenomenon. Elvis sayeth thus, "Ya'll cut that mess out before I have to come down there from sitting at the left-hand of the Lord and karate-kick some ass Kang Rhee style." 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hey, Mr. Tangerine Man

Did you see that rancid kumquat's recent tweet, "I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." Is the walking Orange Terror Alert admitting the election was rigged? I'm sorry. My blood pressure is at risk. I made a promise to myself to remain calm about this nasty business and concentrate only on what's positive, which is why I've chosen to tell you about my cat. I still can't believe that my country elected a dunk-tank clown as their president. I'm not a "cat person" by tradition. In fact, I come from a family that actively disliked cats. There's a word for it: Ailurophobia. What about those Russian hackers and Ukrainian "Fake news" sites that meddled in our election?  My Grandmother had a skin tag on her little finger that she always told us had come from being scratched by a kitten when she was young. It wasn't until adulthood that I found out she was lying. They plan to privatize Medicare and Social Security.This cat loathing was passed down to my mother, who, in turn, passed it down to my sister and me. I never had any experience being around a cat until college, when I lived with two of them. They didn't like me and I didn't like them, but they came in a package-deal with a young lady who wasn't very conscientious about maintaining the litter-box. When we all parted amicably, that ended my cat fraternization. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III for Attorney General? He has opposed every immigration bill for two decades. Last week he said, "Good people don't smoke marijuana." Kiss legalization goodbye.

We're dog people over here. We have three- two older black dogs and a speckled pup named Nancy. All of them are rescues but Nancy's the only one we got from the shelter. Steve, the oldest, just wandered up one day, and Carney (named after Rodney), is my step-son's dog who became part of the pack after his daddy found an apartment. The Secretary of Defense's nickname is "Mad-dog." So, we can't have visitors unless they have a lot of patience and don't mind enthusiastic barking. Heaven forbid a friend ring the bell without knowing the snarling rage about to erupt on the other side of the door. He has continually brushed-off the president's daily briefing. I don't even know how this happened, but now I share my side of the bed with a puppy who weighs ninety pounds. There's so much hair lying around that you could create an entirely new dog. And we've invested more in dog beds than some poorer countries' GDP. Are we just forgetting the twenty-five million dollar fraud settlement to victims of Trump University? There are now seventy-five open lawsuits against Trump, from unpaid contractors to angry golf club members cheated out of their dues. It's too late for obedience school. These animals don't even let the pizza delivery guy get a foot in the door. Can you imagine how they'd treat a cat?

While I was sitting on the porch one day, a kitten strolled through the bushes and sidled up into my lap. A neighbor yelled, "Do you want that cat? She's been hanging around for weeks." This habitual midnight tweeter actually demanded equal time from a comedy show. His Chief Strategist is an unapologetic white nationalist and anti-Semite. Of course, I had no intention of keeping the cat, which I named Peaches. She's very soft and a ginger color. We gave her food and water and she wouldn't leave the front porch. My wife, Melody, fixed her a basket to sleep in. There ain't gonna be any stupid wall. I visited several times a day because she was so sweet and would bump noses with me when feeling affectionate. One day, two cats were heard fighting and Peaches was gone. A large tomcat was eating her food which we immediately removed, but Peaches didn't return. The Secretary of Education never attended a public school, married the heir to the Amway fortune, believes in for-profit education, and donated 9.5 million to the Trump campaign. Fun fact: her brother, Eric Prince, was the founder of Blackwater USA mercenaries who did such a bang-up job in Iraq. She was gone a month before Melody got a text on her "Nextdoor" App that Peaches was spotted two blocks over living in a cardboard box inside a culvert. When we drove over and called to her, she came out of the ditch and jumped straight into the car. The National Policy Institute, A Neo-nazi front group, celebrated the election in the nation's capitol, with cries of, "Hail Trump," and the Hitler salute.

Peaches' new home was a garage, in which to hunt mice, and a screened-in porch to sun herself. She was afraid of the dogs at first, but after a little catnip, she calmed down. Over four hundred hate crimes have been recorded since the election. I was finding the cat to be fascinating. I watched a Netflix video called, "The Lion in Your Living Room," to help me understand her mannerisms, including the love-bite which I discouraged. Dare I mention the pending rape case? Also, she's very vocal and each "meow" means something different. We got her spayed and chipped and then it got cold. We had no choice but to bring her in and risk what canine hysteria might follow, but to our surprise, the dogs were calm- except Nancy who wants her to play. If Trump claims presidents are exempt from conflict-of-interest statutes and intends to continue involvement in his business, which one will be his day job? Peaches has her own room now and seems content to stay there. She'll come out eventually, but there's no rush. I've begun wondering, have I become a cat person in my dotage? I hear her prowling around at night, but because of my upbringing, I keep thinking she's trying to steal my credit card. Hey, Mr. Tangerine Man play a song for me. In the jingle-jangle morning, I'll come following you.

Monday, October 31, 2016

No Mas

Is it over yet? Somebody please make it stop. Like Popeye the Sailor Man used to say, "That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more." This is the vilest, most repugnant election in recent memory- maybe ever. And if you're still one of those people who think both candidates are equally atrocious, you need to get your news from another source- maybe from one of those mainstream outlets that actually believe in responsible journalism. Hillary may be duplicitous and opportunistic, but Trump leaves a trail of slime behind him wherever he goes, like a garden snail. I know I'm not alone in wishing this ugly torrent of daily disgust would just go away. But reputable sources have said that the new Facebook reality show, "Trump Tower Live," is a stalking horse for a Trump TV network in case he doesn't get the president gig. According to New York Magazine, Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is building a database of 14 million email addresses and credit card numbers, so even when Trump loses the election, we can still enjoy his daily rants and midnight tweets 24/7- or at least until the venture fails like so many other of Trump's skeezy products. The Orange Blossom Special took time out from campaigning last week to drag the press to the grand opening of his new Washington D.C. hotel, where room prices have been slashed by half because no one wants the name "Trump" appearing on their credit cards. His malignant remarks have damaged his brand so badly that a new hotel chain to open next year will not be called Trump anything, but "Scion," which means, "a person born into a rich, famous, or important family." I guess it gives the kids something to do.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has to be the luckiest candidate of all time. Anyone barely sane on the Republican side would have had an excellent chance of winning the White House, but Donnie keeps stepping on his dick. Can I say that after the women accusing Trump of grabbing them by the pussy has risen to twelve? The latest is the former Miss Finland who was publicly humiliated by Trump with a YouTube video to prove it. Trump then traveled to the Gettysburg battlefield to attempt a Lincolnesque speech. But where Lincoln pledged to unite a divided country, Trump promised to file lawsuits against his female accusers after the election. And nobody has a seedier bunch of surrogates than Trump. Chris Christie has exited stage right and will likely be summoned to appear in court to defend against his closest staff accusing him of lying and abuse of power. But Don still has Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich, all serial adulterers with nine wives between them. Trump was being advised by former Fox News head, Roger Ailes, himself the target of multiple lawsuits claiming sexual misconduct before he was bounced from the network. But, even Ailes had to walk away in disgust over Trump's inability to accept anyone's advice but his own.

Hillary's "October surprise" came in a letter to Congress by FBI Director James Comey, stating that new emails had surfaced from a laptop shared by Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, and her estranged husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner, aka "Carlos Danger- Private Dick." Weiner had a separate account for his fetishistic behavior which resulted in an investigation of his allegedly sexting with a fifteen year old girl, but Comey, "in an abundance of caution," said that he had not seen the new emails and that they may, or may not, have any significance to Secretary Clinton. Trump gleefully pounced saying that the FBI had "reopened" the case against Clinton and that this was "the biggest political scandal since Watergate." It's worth pointing out that Comey was a Bush appointee picked by Obama to head the FBI in a gesture of bi-partisanship. Big mistake. Comey was the second highest official in Dubya's justice department, head council for Lockheed Martin- the country's largest defense contractor, a hedge-fund millionaire, and the lawyer who put away Martha Stewart. Last July, in a breach of protocol, after Comey had absolved Clinton of any criminality in the investigation of her emails, he openly castigated her for "carelessness." It was the first time that the FBI publicly disclosed its recommendations to the Justice Department, which advised Comey against sending his letter to Congress. But eleven days before the election, Comey sent the letter anyway, which said in part, "Given that we don't know the significance (of the emails), I don't want to create a misleading impression."

Along with the Clinton campaign calling foul, dozens of former federal prosecutors signed an open letter critical of Comey. Minority Leader Harry Reid accused him of violating the Hatch Act, which bans the use of a federal government position to influence an election. If I were Barack Obama, I'd fire his ass tomorrow if it wouldn't rile-up the renegades. As it is, Comey should be gone on the ninth of November. So, what else can happen in this brutal election where the rough beast slouches toward Bethlehem to be born? You have an Australian, Julian Assange, holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London with a Wikileaks vendetta against Mrs. Clinton; widespread agreement among cybersecurity experts that Russian government hackers are behind the theft of DNC communications, a candidate that constantly cozies up to Vladimir Putin, and an FBI Director who, purposefully or not, has gravely interfered in a close presidential election. Who does James Comey think he is, J.Edgar Hoover?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Apocalypse Now

There's an old proverb that goes something like: "Be grateful you're only miserable, because some people are horrible." Watching the daily disaster known as Donald Trump is like that proverbial pile-up on the interstate from which you can't turn away. The Trump campaign has turned into a mosh-pit of tweet tantrums and discredited surrogates screaming repugnant falsehoods at full voice. It's all become, frankly, horrible. I did not savor the thought of writing about politics again when there are so many other important things to discuss, like Kim Kardashian being robbed of ten million dollars worth of jewelry at gunpoint in a Paris Hotel. Of all people, she should have known to stay at the Paris Hilton. Or, Lindsay Lohan losing a fingertip in a Turkish boating accident. Fortunately, the piece was found and surgically re-attached, adding to Lohan's cosmetic procedures. Anything would have been more pleasant than delving into the bilge known as Trumpworld. But this carnival continues to grow more bizarre by the day. Despite the best efforts of his handlers to contain him, Trump's post-debate trashing of a former Miss Universe continued for a week . All Hillary Clinton had to do was mention the name Alisha Mechado to send Trump into a stammering frenzy. All he had to do was shut up and no one would have thought twice about it, but he couldn't help himself. Trump's taking to Fox News to say Machado was a "disgusting" person who "gained massive amounts of weight" struck at the heart of every woman who has ever struggled with a diet. But, congratulations Alisha Mechado, Trump has made you Miss Universe again, twenty years after the fact. And Trump proved himself to be something other than a con-artist; he's a mark as well. Hillary hooked him right up.

I don't understand how any woman could vote for him, but Trump is correct in saying there's nothing he could do to shake his supporters. This puts him in league with former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, who once said, "The only way I can lose is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy." Trump's misogyny is fairly easy to trace since he has so diligently documented it through the years. His recent ugly attacks on women merely began with Rosie O'Donnell, but continued with Hillary, who "doesn't have the look to be president," Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly, Huma Abedin, Heidi Cruz, correspondent Katy Tur, columnist Gail Collins, who has "the face of a dog," Arianna Huffington, of whom he tweeted, "..I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man," and "goofy" Elizabeth Warren, who he calls "Pocahontas," not even cognizant of his racist remarks. Trump has promised to attack Bill Clinton's past sexual transgressions and re-litigate the whole Monica Lewinsky affair. Hasn't this poor woman suffered enough? It's hard enough to be known as the world's most famous fellator without having to relive it twenty years later. We know all about Bill Clinton's infidelities from the voluminous Starr Report of 1998, which described in detail everything from intimate sexual acts to the shape of the former president's penis. The author, Kenneth Starr, has recently been ousted as president of Baylor University over a sex scandal involving the football team. Karma's funny that way. If I were coaching Hillary for the next debate and Bill's betrayals are exhumed, I would say, "I have been married to the same man for thirty years. We have had marital problems that played out in public, but we have resolved them in private and emerged with a stronger marriage than ever."

The New York Time's explosive expose of Trump's partial tax records from 1995, declaring a personal loss of nearly a billion dollars, which allows him to avoid paying federal income taxes for eighteen years, was verified by his personal accountant. Fox News immediately declared that the Times was "trying to take Trump down," and castigated all those liberal newspapers that endorsed Hillary, like The Dallas Morning News, The Arizona Star, and USA Today. The Trump campaign countered by saying newspaper endorsements are meaningless because no one reads them anymore, and he's probably right. Logic and reason don't dissuade the Trump army. They're locked in, even though the online fact-checker Snopes declared that in the previous debate, Trump's lies were "unprecedented." Some undecided voters, however, might have been among the millions of TV viewers who watched the season premier of Saturday Night Live. Remember when Al Gore's staff had to force him to sit down and watch Darrell Hammond's brilliant parody of his sighing, pompous debate performance against Dubya in 2000?  If Trump's team forces him to watch SNL, maybe he'll spend this week invoking Alec Baldwin's sexual history.

The tax charade is rapidly falling apart. Trump claim that it's "smart" not to pay taxes just makes him a burden on the middle class. The only comparable tax cheat that comes to mind is Leona Helmsley, who once famously said, "Only the little people pay taxes." It doesn't matter. They don't care. In the ongoing virtual whistle-stop by Twitter, Trump wrote, "Remember, don't believe 'sources said' by the VERY dishonest media. If they don't name the sources, the sources don't exist." Such stunning hypocrisy from someone who prefaces every right-wing conspiracy theory with, "I've heard many people say," or, "I don't know if it's true but a lot people are saying it." This is the laziest journalistic trick in the book. You can say whatever the hell you want if your sources are anonymous, like the time Trump tweeted that "an extremely credible source" told him that Barack Obama's birth certificate was a fraud. I don't care how much you hate Hillary Clinton or think she's a liar, at least she is in control of her mental faculties. The next debate is Oct. 9, plenty of time for Trump to exhibit his more disgusting simian characteristics. There's another old country saying appropriate for this moment that equates watching the nightmarish Trump campaign to having intercourse with a skunk. I didn't get all I could take, but I've had all I can stand.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Star Spangled Outrage

Can we have an adult discussion about the national anthem without everyone getting all pissy about it? I understand that the sight of the stars and bars means different things to different people. Some accept it as a symbol of the United States while others don't get the symbolism and revere a brightly decorated polyester stretch of fabric right up there with the Bible. I was taught in the Boy Scouts that the flag had to receive special treatment. It had to be folded a certain way and if it touched the ground, the proper response was to burn it, which makes the topic of flag-burning more complex. We were also taught from infancy that when the National Anthem was played to remove any head coverings and stand with either one hand over your heart or both by your side. While some people have deeply-held convictions that soldiers bled and died for that flag, others believe just as strongly that soldiers died to protect the freedom to protest, even if it includes the flag. If you love the Second Amendment you have to respect the First. But just let one professional athlete remain seated while the anthem is played and social media explodes in anger and outrage. We have hurricanes, wildfires, zika, and a lunatic running for president, and people are upset because a football player chose not to stand?

The latest in the saga of San Fransisco Forty-Niners' quarterback Colin Kaepernick's objection to standing for the anthem occurred at a pre-season game in San Diego, and who doesn't love a pre-season game? San Diego was celebrating its 28th annual "Salute to the Military," with over two-hundred servicemen and women presenting a "super flag" while color guards from all four branches of the military presented the regular sized one. If that weren't enough jingoism for you, they played the repugnant and nausea producing Lee Greenwood song, "Proud to be an American," with the stadium joining in. Even George M. Cohan thought it was a bit over the top.Then came Kaepernick's gesture and the crowd erupted in rage. Kaepernick was lustily booed louder than an illegal immigrant at a Trump rally. He explained his singular act as a way to protest racial oppression and the near monthly killing of unarmed black men by the police. "I'm not anti-American," Kaepernick said, "I love America...I want to help make (it) better." Something about the public anger reminded me of the days when certain people expressed their patriotism by putting "Love it or leave it" bumper stickers on their trucks and flag decals in their windows. This is not the first time that this nation's patriotic symbols have been appropriated by reactionaries and war hawks. Sometimes, it takes more courage to protest against what you believe to be unjust than to run to join the lynch mob.

From a songwriter's point of view, the National Anthem just isn't that great of a song. First, Francis Scott Key merely wrote a poem in 1814 called the "Defense of Fort McHenry," while captive on a British ship watching the bombardment of Baltimore. Only later was the poem conjoined with a British drinking ditty called, "The Anacreontic Song," whose last verse offered a toast, "with the myrtle of Venus with Bacchus' vine." It wasn't declared the National Anthem until the Hoover administration in 1931. You've seen those ads that say, "Send us your poem and for a nominal fee, we'll put it to music." I knew guys in Nashville that ran that scam for years and it never produced a single good song. If F.S. Key had sent his poem to Nashville, it might have been difficult to put a peppy melody to his third verse, which reads in part, "Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution/No refuge could save the hireling and the slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave." Historians agree that Key, a slave-owner himself, was expressing his revenge over the deaths of freed slaves who fought with the British. We usually skip that verse.

I never understood why they play the National Anthem before sporting events in the first place. And why do different sports get to pick and choose who plays it. Football, baseball, and basketball all do, but you've never heard the anthem before tee-off time in professional golf. At Churchill Downs they sing "My Old Kentucky Home." At the Preakness they sing "Maryland, my Maryland," and at the Belmont Stakes they belt out Sinatra singing "New York, New York." During the recent Rio Olympics, after the first ten medal ceremonies, I started to mute the "Star Spangled Banner." I mean, how many times can you hear the same song in a row? I like "Uptown Funk," but I don't want to hear it played fifteen consecutive times. Is muting the National Anthem worse than sitting for it? I'll bet all the incensed trolls who stormed social media were sitting on their asses too. Just because you're in the Barcalounger in your underwear, why shouldn't you stand for the anthem? These days, the "Star Spangled Banner" has merely become a vehicle for aspiring pop stars to demonstrate their vocal pyrotechnics and attitude. (See Christina Aguilera). The three greatest versions of the song are by Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, and Marvin Gaye. In fact, YouTube "Marvin Gaye, 1983 NBA All-Star game." Since I respect freedom of expression, I stand with Kaepernick sitting. "America the Beautiful" should be the National Anthem anyway. If you lovers of tradition want something to really get mad about, be upset that the uber-patriotic "God Bless America," has replaced "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Nixon's Ghost

Hello Millennials. Are you sick to death of that moniker yet? Are you weary of being lumped into a group of millions of people with whom you share little in common, yet are stamped with the same stereotypes as the Kardashians? If you were born between 1983-2001, that makes you a Millennial- a pseudo-scientific name made up by a couple of guys who wrote a book to describe the generation between Gen X and Gen Z, which I never understood in the first place. If every generation needs a stupid nickname, welcome to my world. Since birth, I've been referred to as a Baby Boomer, a childish and silly term first appearing in a newspaper article. We were the spawn of soldiers returning from WWII, who wasted no time in being fruitful and multiplying. Now, they're calling you "echo boomers" or Son of Boomer, and studies have attributed certain characteristics to your demographic.  You are "digitally native," you have a sense of entitlement, you're narcissistic and disinterested in world affairs, you're "selfie" absorbed and lack social skills because you text instead of talk. You're attached to your devices. You are the trophy generation, where no one wins or loses and everyone gets an award just for participating. You're driven by wealth but you won't save money. You eat out every night or order pizza. You have disdain for anything and everything that came before you. You won't buy a car and you live in your parents' basement. Aside from the tech stuff, many of the same things were said of my rebellious generation.

A Boomer sounds like someone who comes from Oklahoma. We were born between 1946-1964, ancient history to you. If you dropped a telephone back then, you could break your foot. We're all between fifty and seventy now and although deeply divided on everything from politics to pot, we too were smacked with that same giant paintbrush as a studied and analyzed group. We were called the first consumer generation. Everything was handed to us. We were spoiled and self-indulgent. We rejected traditional values and resented authority. We were too idealistic and we thought we were special. Anything in there sound familiar? Maybe we have more in common than you have been led to believe. So even though I've read that Millennials both abhor and ignore the past, please indulge your old Uncle Randy and let me tell you a story about a poet-politician named Eugene McCarthy. The Minnesota senator had come out early and vociferously against the Vietnam war and in the election year of 1968, he was the first to challenge the president. Young people who opposed the war or were vulnerable to the draft flocked to his cause. His slogan was, "Get clean for Gene," which translated into thousands of hippies getting shaves and haircuts so as not to frighten the proletariat when they knocked on their doors with campaign literature. Considering 1968 was the same year that the musical "Hair" opened on Broadway, this was a noble sacrifice. McCarthy was the guy who made LBJ drop out of the race and caused Robert Kennedy to jump in. We all know how that ended, but when convention time came around, "Clean Gene" lost the nomination to the establishment candidate,  Vice President Hubert Horatio Humphrey, who had never entered the primaries. The convention ended in chaos and bloodshed and the Chicago cops, in what was later deemed a "police riot," gleefully cracked boomer skulls in the street and got some hippie payback. And you thought Trump rallies were bad.

My generation betrayed you. We didn't get our preferred candidate, so instead of going to the polls and voting for second best, we stayed home. The result was that Humphrey lost by one percentage point and we gave you Richard Nixon, a loathsome and venal slug of a man who extended the war by four pointless years. His psychiatrist said that Nixon ordered bombing raids just to impress his friends. He was severely neurotic, viciously anti-Semitic, and racially insensitive so, of course, he was re-elected. Late in his second term, beset by scandal and skullduggery, Nixon took to the bottle. Late at night, he drunk-called his friends and wandered the halls of the White House talking to the portraits of presidents past. His behavior became so erratic that the Secretary of Defense sent out a general command stating that any order coming from the liquor-ridden Commander-in-Chief had to be cleared by him first. Imagine how different the world would look if my generation had just voted. We were so upset about not getting our anti-war candidate, we overlooked the fact that Humphrey had been a champion of civil rights since 1948 and was the main author of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the end, the nefarious Nixon won the election with 43.4 percent to Humphrey's 42.7 percent. We gave you a mentally unstable president, subject to bouts of mood swings, who was either ego-maniacal or a petulant, thin-skinned sociopath bent on revenge against his critics. If all this sounds familiar, it should.

At its core, this election is between one candidate who's sane and one who is not. There is one candidate with knowledge and experience and one who is delusional and thinks he's Captain America. The choice is pretty simple. Even though Millennials think the hippies were ridiculous and their parents are trapped in an analogue world, there is a lesson to be learned here. Don't take anything for granted. Your side has to get more votes than the snarling, snapping mad-dogs on the other side. This includes the "Bernie or Bust" people who are the modern day equivalent of the die-hard McCarthyites, who sat out one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime. Don't make the same drastic mistake the Boomers made. You know, we're that Beatle worshiping, consumeristic, all-knowing "me generation." Don't listen to us on other matters. Your knowledge is superior to ours on most things. But if  Millennials fail to learn the lesson from this egregious Boomer blunder and decide that taking Facebook "who were you in a past life" quizzes are more important than the ballot box, we could turn around and find a lunatic in the White House. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Trump Talks

Wow. Unbelievable. Who else draws crowds like Trump? These are my people. There are just a couple of days left until the convention and I'm doing very, very well in the polls folks- even though the system is rigged, as I've said all along. But when we get to Cleveland on July 18th, we're going to have the classiest, biggest, most spectacular political convention this nation- or any nation for that matter- has ever seen. There will be live music from Kid Rock and Ted Nugent and we're gonna have the most exiting group of speakers since the Nuremberg rallies, that I can tell you. We haven't yet firmed up the list, but we scored a coup in getting Scott Walker, the disgraced Wisconsin governor, speaking on how best to use Koch Brothers money to survive a recall election. Other than Chris Christie and the other losers kissing my ass to be Vice President, Walker is one of the few elected officials who agreed to speak. It's so unfair folks, so unfair. But we'll have a celebrity all-star line-up that you will absolutely love, and I mean real Americans like Mike Ditka, the always inspiring Coach Bobby Knight, Willie Robertson, Hulk Hogan, Charlie Sheen, Dennis Rodman, and Mike Tyson. We're gonna play the woman card right back in Crooked Hillary's face and give a spot to the old pig castrator herself, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. That ought to make them squeal. Oh, I almost forgot Omarosa Manigault, the woman caught lying on camera during the first season of The Apprentice. I'll tell you who won't be speaking; that coward John McCain, any of the Bushes (because they went into Iraq when I told them not to), Little Marco, and that loser Mitt Romney, who choked a dog during the last election. And if John Kasich doesn't want to attend, even though he's the Governor of Ohio. well, that's just a disgrace folks. Believe me.

This room is so full of love. Are the evangelicals here? The evangelicals have been so good to me.  I've received the blessings of Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr. despite my three marriages, allegations of inappropriate conduct with various women over the years, and accusations of spousal rape that appeared in my first wife Ivana's book, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump. But she was just upset, like women get, but she has since retracted that remark at no small expense to me. You're not hearing a lot from Marla Maples much these days either, are you? But I'm going to protect your religious liberty folks, okay? We're going to start saying "Merry Christmas" again at Wal-Mart, because, don't forget, my favorite book after The Art of the Deal, is what? That's right- the Bi-ble. I haven't read the whole thing yet but I saw The Passion of the Christ, and Mel Gibson did a hell of a job. All this "Happy Holidays"stuff? It ain't gonna happen anymore folks, because this is a Christian nation. And since there is so much unrest and turmoil in Israel, I, Donald J. Trump, hereby call for a complete ban of Jews coming into this country until we figure out what the hell is going on. Wait, did I say that out loud? I meant a ban on Muslims, or Mexicans, or Muslim Mexicans. Or anyone from Scotland. Forget that Jew thing. We love our Jews, don't we?

Is that a sign that says, "Latinos for Trump?" I love you darlin'. I know the Latinos are supporting Trump because I have hired thousands of them to work in my hotels and casinos. Of course, we had to separate the men from the women because someone was doing all that raping, that I can tell you. So, we're gonna build a major wall, and who's gonna pay for it? I can't hear you. That's right, Mexico. Because we want to keep out people like that Mexican judge presiding over my Trump University fraud lawsuit. If we hadn't let his parents in, that anchor baby wouldn't be harassing me today. But we're going to bring our manufacturing jobs back from Mexico and Chi-Na as soon as I can eliminate the minimum wage, because wages are too high folks. And we're going to rebuild our depleted military, even though the U.S. spends close to what the entire rest of the world spends in defense. We're going to be so tough and so vicious, that no one is going to mess with us. And we're going to take care of our vets when they come home maimed, that I can tell you. I will be a great Commander-In-Chief, although I didn't serve myself. I was never in Vietnam but I went to military school, which is basically the same thing. I know more about ISIS than all the generals, okay? And I learned about foreign policy from watching the Sunday shows hosted by members of the corrupt and dishonest liberal media. I'm a quick learner and have a very good brain. I went to the Wharton School, you know. I've been informed that really smart people don't need to go around telling everyone else that they're smart, but why not just be honest? Political correctness is killing us.

So, we're going to Make America Great Again, even though that was Ronald Reagan's campaign slogan back in 1980. We're gonna take our country back from Radical Islamic Terrorism (copyright). And in the Muslim neighborhoods and mosques that I plan to surveille, people are going to have to start turning people in if they think something's going on. You know, like in the fifties. Same thing with the Black Lives Matter movement. Hey, is that my African-American over there? That could have been a quote from Thomas Jefferson, but stand up so the people can see you. I love the blacks. I feel connected to you since orange is the new black. But we're going to start making great deals again folks, and if we get overextended, I'll just renegotiate for pennies on the dollar. And we're gonna start winning again. You're gonna get so sick of winning, you'll puke. You'll be so proud of your President and Vice President Ann Coulter. In conclusion, I would like to assure the American people that I have a spectacular penis. There's nothing wrong in that area, I can assure you, except Melania locks the Viagra in the cabinet just in case I come home angry. Here's the story. During the primaries, I, Donald J. Trump, got more votes than the great Richard Nixon did in 1968, and I have heard many, many people say, "What this nation needs is another dick in the White House." Okay? Okay.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Home-Grown Terror

Another mass killing? Oh well. Isn't there a game on tonight or something? I figured that a society that can stomach the thought of a murderous lunatic, armed with a Bushmaster XM15, forcing his way into a kindergarten and slaughtering twenty children and six staff members without a massive public outcry is pretty much hopeless. Or the delusional Batman fan who caused eighty-two causalities, including twelve people murdered in their seats by a Smith & Wesson M&P-15 assault rifle with a hundred round drum magazine, in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Just months before, the shooter, who was described as "severely mentally ill," legally purchased his weapons of mass destruction in a local gun store. The two radicalized Muslims, described as "homegrown violent extremists" by the FBI, who murdered fourteen and injured twenty-two in a rampage last December in San Bernardino, CA, used two AR-15 type rifles and two 9mm semi-automatic pistols, purchased legally by a third conspirator. And now, a self-proclaimed ISIS devotee who was on the terrorist watch list and twice investigated by the FBI, managed to become an accredited security guard and legally purchased the assault rifle used to kill fifty souls and wound fifty-three others in a gay night club in Orlando. The deranged domestic terrorist shot 103 different people with a semi-automatic rifle bought in the last twelve days. No one, outside a theater of war, should possess such firepower. Does there seem to be a theme emerging?

In the wake of the carnage in Orlando, it was almost overlooked that the Los Angeles police arrested a man on his way to the gay pride parade with a cache of weapons, including three assault rifles with high capacity magazines and a five-gallon bucket of explosive materials. His Indiana license plate had an NRA sticker attached with the words "Teaching Freedom" below. Though described as bi-sexual by a friend, the All-American Terrorist's Facebook page said, "Anti-Islam, Anti-Gay, and Anti-Racism," oddly enough. He also claimed that political correctness is stifling freedom of speech and that 9/11 was an inside job. If a neighbor had not called police about a prowler, we could have suffered dual massacres on the same day. And the target, in both cases, was the most vulnerable minority group- the LBGT community. It would seem that hatred and violence knows no denomination. Since Obama was elected, he has addressed the nation on fifteen separate occasions after each atrocity involving multiple deaths. He has pleaded, tried to reason, been angered and even wept. What's left for him to say? Since the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 was allowed to expire during the Bush era, random shootings have spiked. A joint- letter to Congress from Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan in support of banning "semi-automatic assault guns" has been ignored by today's Tea Party obstructionists. Quoting statistics, Clinton said, "Half of all mass killings in the U.S. occurred since 2005- half of all in the history of the country." The Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2005. Maybe there's a connection here. After Newtown, the AWB was re-introduced, but failed in the GOP controlled Senate by a vote of forty to sixty.

The human septic-tank known as Trump was the first to politicize the tragedy. Obama and Hillary each made statements of outrage and condolence and avoided further comment. Trump went on a Twitter frenzy, first saying, "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism. I don't want congrats. I want toughness and vigilance. We must be smart!" Trump is fond of the exclamation point. But his GOP allies in Congress blocked a bill the day after the San Bernardino slaughter which would have denied people on the terrorist watch list the ability to buy a gun. Bowing to NRA pressure, the Republicans reasoned that Americans who are wrongly on the list should be afforded their constitutional rights. They can't fly, but buying a gun is fine. Trump then called for Obama to be removed from office for refusing to use the term, "radical Islamic terrorism," and Fox News hammered that message all night. Obama has repeatedly explained, "the term 'radical Islam' grants them a religious legitimacy they don't deserve. We are not at war with Islam, we are at war with people who have perverted Islam." George W. Bush said much the same thing, only he wasn't a secret Kenyan Muslim.

As expected, the trolls were out on social media saying the same predictable things. "Arm yourselves before they kill us all." The hatred boiled over for Muslims the world over, even though the same people were praising Muhammad Ali just a day before. The Orlando jihadist's ex-wife said he wanted to be a policeman. She also said he beat her and isolated her from others until she was rescued by her family. A co-worker said, "I complained multiple times that he didn't like blacks, women, lesbians, and Jews." The wannabe ISIS fighter said he wished he could kill all black people, hardly inspired by Islam. "You meet bigots, " the co-worker continued, "but he was above and beyond." The NRA apologists continue to say, "enforce the laws already on the books," but obviously they're not effective. "Don't blame the weapon, it's just a tool." The Assault Weapons Ban may not have done much to put a dent in gun crime, but it would have prevented this slaughter. And Aurora. And San Bernardino. And Sandy Hook. There is a theory going around in some right-wing circles that Sandy Hook was a hoax perpetrated by the government in order to begin confiscating firearms. Maybe if the Newtown crime scene photos of children blown to pieces were released, the country might be shocked back into reality. Or maybe not, but has anyone noticed that in eight years, Obama hasn't confiscated a single gun? After this gruesome bloodbath, thoughts and prayers aren't enough. Maybe we need to try stricter laws and regulations instead.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Of Million Dollar Quartets

It's beginning to look like I'm not going to get the call to appear in the new television series, "The Million Dollar Quartet," currently filming in Memphis. Actually, we did get a call from a set designer who had heard that we had some period furniture that might fit the production. Since half of my home is still furnished in Mid-Century Parents' House Modern, I thought we might make the cut. But after my wife told him we'd be glad to rent him some stuff but we weren't going to give it away, he never called back. These Hollywood types. In reality, these folks are Nashville sho-biz types who are filming an eight-part mini-series based on the Toni award winning musical of the same name to air in November on the CMT Network. An open casting call was held in February for local talent to show their stuff. I was in the process of brushing my blue-suedes when I noticed that the only character over thirty-five was Colonel Tom Parker- an obese, avaricious poltroon- so it would demand method acting. My hopes for trying out for Uncle Vester were dashed when I heard most of the action takes place in the studio. Not the Sun Studio, mind you, but a look-a-like soundstage similar to the one used in the Jerry Lee Lewis "mockumentary," Great Balls of Fire." We can't interrupt those bus tours here at the start of the season.

The CA's Bob Mehr reported that the film score and other recordings are to be done in Nashville with Nashville musicians. Not to denigrate the excellent musicians of Music City, but that plan seems a little counter-intuitive considering that you're documenting an event that never could have happened in regimented Nashville. Only in "real gone" Memphis could such a confluence of talent assemble in one place, a recording studio no less, to basically goof-off. We have world-class musicians and recording studios here, so why spend the extra gas? Back in 1966, the Lovin' Spoonful sang "There's thirteen-hundred and fifty-two guitar-pickers in Nashville." I'll bet there's 100,000 by now. The executive producer of the series is Leslie Grief, who actually is a Hollywood type, whose credits include the vastly entertaining mini-series, "The Hatfields and McCoys," which won several Emmy awards, and "Gene Simmons' Family Jewels," because a brother's got to make a buck. However, he also produced "Meet Wally Sparks," with Rodney Dangerfield, which makes him a hero in my eyes.

I'm reasonably familiar with the tale of the Million Dollar Quartet, first, because I was a Sun artist only a decade removed and a mile east of the actual event, and secondly, I was employed as a tour guide at Sun Studio for a time until they fired me because my tours went too long. It was my fault. I was always thinking of one more tidbit to tell the tourists and I was gumming up the works. The boss said I just wasn't fitting in with their "formula." But before I was relieved of my duties, the management treated the staff to a viewing of the "Million Dollar Quartet" musical at the Orpheum, for which I am grateful. The story is loosely based on a historic gathering at Sun Studio, December 4, 1956. Carl Perkins was recording his hit song "Matchbox" with new artist Jerry Lee Lewis on piano, when Elvis strolled in, flush with the first success of his meteoric rise to superstardom and escorting a Las Vegas showgirl named Marilyn Evans.The accepted story has Johnny Cash arriving from an afternoon of Christmas shopping although Cash denied it. "I was the first to arrive and the last to leave," Cash wrote in his autobiography. "I was there to watch Carl record." Whatever the sequence, when the group gathered around the piano, Sam Phillips immediately called a newspaper columnist and a photographer while his engineer, Jack "Cowboy" Clement pushed "record." The result was an indelible photograph and a spontaneous jam session that included snippets of nearly fifty songs and studio conversations that weren't released in their entirety until 1990.

 The TV series expands upon the musical, featuring the greatest hit songs you'd expect, plus Memphis characters like Dewey Phillips, B.B. King, and Ike Turner. There is one more prominent character that should be in the film. Before the historians and the discographers descended on Sam Phillips, he was an approachable man who loved sitting behind his big desk reflecting on his glorious career. I once asked him who was the most exciting artist he ever recorded and without hesitation, he replied, "The Howlin' Wolf." He said that Jerry Lee and Charlie Rich may have had the most talent, but the Wolf had a presence in the studio that you could feel. Mr. Phillips said, "his band knew not to mess up or the Wolf would give them a look that put the fear of God into them." I never knew any of those guys in that famous photo. I'm content in knowing I was a tiny part of it. That's why I hope this series can capture the essence of these now legendary characters. In 2000, the A&E Network premiered their documentary, "Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll," at the Cannon Center. There was a meet-and-greet beforehand and I waited my turn while former Sun luminaries surrounded the great man. Finally, I was able to say, "Congratulations Mr. Phillips. This is really exciting." He looked at me askance and asked, "Randy, how long have we been knowing each other?" I did some quick math and said, "I guess about thirty-five years." He smiled and said, "Don't you think you could call me Sam?" I instinctively replied, "Sure, Mr. Phillips." I trust this mini-series will treat him with the same due respect.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Hot Fun In The Summertime

People under forty are in for a treat this summer. A new reality show combining the very best of "Survivor," "Jackass," "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," and "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," will begin July 18th and run through the 21st. It promises to be the television event of the year, and you don't even need cable. The macabre spectacle known as the Republican National Convention will be held in Cleveland earlier than usual this year so as not to step on the TV ratings for the 2016 Olympics. The Democrats follow suit a week later in Philadelphia, so everybody can jet off to Rio de Janeiro and bring back the zika virus. The GOP's soiree will take place in the Quicken Loans Arena, which seems a bit insensitive, considering their quadrennial gala will be held in a sports arena owned by a mortgage company that was sued by the government for "knowingly violating underwriting practices (and) issuing hundreds of defective loans." But it all makes sense when you discover the arena is owned by Cleveland Cavaliers owner and heavy Republican donor, Dan Gilbert, a billionaire businessman and Chairman of Quicken Loans who accepted a government bailout for his mendacious operation. So that's a good start on what will be the billionaires' political convention.

Several pundits are predicting that the cyclone that's about to devour Cleveland will be comparable to the 1968 bloody Democratic Convention in Chicago. The greatest similarity is that we get to sit on the couch with our popcorn and watch the implosion of a major political party. The differences, however, are many. The national mood leading up to Chicago can best be described as incendiary. LBJ announced he would not run for re-election in March. Dr. King was assassinated in April, followed by the murder of Robert Kennedy in June. The best hope for peace was Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy, who came to the convention with the most delegates. Every manner of protester flooded into Chicago- radicals, moderates, anti-war activists, hippies, Yippies, and the Black Panther Party. Mayor Richard J. Daley was the law, mobilizing the National Guard and the Chicago police with orders to "shoot to kill" arsonists, and "shoot to maim" looters. This emboldened the cops, mainly Korean War vets and high-school drop-outs, to commit sanctioned brutality against the loathed, long-haired intruders. For the next three days, while the Democratic Party was disintegrating inside the hall, blue helmeted riot police removed their badges and went on a rampage, wading into the protestors with sadistic zeal, cracking skulls and bloodying campaign volunteers, both men and women. In the end, party bosses chose Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who had not entered a single primary, as the nominee. Because their candidate was crushed underfoot, a whole generation took their ball and went home, sitting out the election and enabling the reign of Richard Nixon, setting off another five years of bitter anti-war protests. Like Mick Jagger said, "You can't always get what you want."

This year it's the Republicans who are in chaos. With tempers boiling, talk of a brokered convention and an insider "Stop Trump" movement, there's every potential for violence. Only this time, the violence will be inside the convention. While a delegate might mention the word "riot" under his breath, Trump just comes right out and predicts it. When Donald Trump speculated that if he doesn't get the nomination, "I think you'd have riots. I'm representing...millions of people," he virtually invited every Tea Party yahoo, Klansman, white supremacist, and open-carry gun neurotic to come to Cleveland. For certain, protesters will descend righteously into the city where twelve year-old Tamir Rice was murdered by a policeman who was previously declared "emotionally unstable," for brandishing a toy, Airsoft rifle in a public park. Black Lives Matter will be in force. So should the many groups publicly denigrated by Trump: Mexicans, African-Americans, Asians, war heroes, women, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, the disabled, and the poor. This time, however, law enforcement will be overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service, if we can keep them away from the prostitutes, and not the trigger-happy Cleveland Police.

So buckle up, this is going to be ugly. So far, it looks like the only people who will speak on behalf of  Trump are Dennis Rodman, Sarah Palin, Mike Tyson, Chris Christie, and Omarosa. Maybe they could get the Cliven Bundy militia to pre-record a message of support which will then be introduced by Phil Robertson. The strange thing is the rules committee is not bound by rules, so they can make it up as they go along. There are two scenarios here: Trump loses the nomination and begins rampaging around the land like Cloverfield- or Trump wins the nomination but the GOP announces a third party candidate so as not to let the country fall into the hands of a sociopath who once said, "It really doesn't matter what (the media) write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass." Who can argue with logic like that? Except, imagine for a second if that quote came out of the mouth of Barack Obama. Rednecks would be locking up their daughters. No matter how repulsive Trump is regarded by his fellow candidates, everyone of them, without fail, pledged to support the party's nominee. Go ahead and nominate his ass. We'll renew his hate-filled reality show for twelve more weeks, then the voters can cancel him for good- and maybe the Republican Party also.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Road Rage

Last night I was indulging in one of my favorite pastimes, watching compilations of road rage fights on YouTube. It used to be that in a traffic related fight, two guys would get out, maybe with a pipe or
a bat, and duke it out. Now these guys go straight for the gun. It's horrifying to see some punk getting a well-deserved pounding from an outraged driver and instead of manning up, they dive straight for the glove compartment. Now if you find yourself in a road rage incident, they'll just shoot your ass. I must confess that I've been afflicted with road rage for about thirty years or so, and there ain't no cure for those boulevard blues. It begins during the daily obstacle course on the city streets that someone set up just for you. Here's a guy trying to make a left from the center lane. Here comes some fool barreling out of a fast food joint and pulling too far into the street where you have to swerve quickly and pray someone's not in the other lane. Here's a tiny lady who can barely see over the steering wheel driving 25 mph during rush hour. And that guy that speeds past you, cuts over three lanes, and ends up at the same red light as you. They're all just playing their parts assigned for that day to make driving a harrowing experience.

You would not believe the words that come out of my mouth that could never be used in any other setting. It usually begins as an irritant from observing another drivers' behavior. When something crucially stupid happens, I begin by saying, "You banking blank. Idiot blankerblanker. Wake the blank up and drive, you blanking blankhole." From their it only gets worse. Once I was driving east on Peabody and as I drew near S. Cooper St. where the road dead ends and splits either left or right, some knucklehead in front of me couldn't pick a lane. I thought I'd help him by laying on the horn, but he flipped me a particularly vulgar looking bird. Infuriated, I did the old trick of moving my hand in a back and forth motion near my mouth and poking my cheek out with my tongue. Certain that my gesture was far more disgusting than his, he went south and I went north. I stopped in the old record store in the Poplar Plaza and while I was perusing the CDs, this scrawny looking guy in overalls comes up to me and says, "You're the guy that just told me to "blank a blank" in the street out there. Not wishing to disrupt anyone's business, I took the gentlemanly approach and apologized. I told him that something inexplicable comes over me when I get behind the wheel of a car, but I'm really not that person. He seemed to accept my atonement and left. It was either that or throw down in the middle of the Rhythm and Blues racks. That's how I learned to keep my vulgarities and hand gestures more discreet.

My wife, Melody, has refused to drive with me for several years now. I don't mind if she wishes to drive, but I'm not that great of a passenger either. I enjoy explaining the psychology of traffic. If she passes some massive SUV,  I tell her to just watch. Psychologically, the other driver resents being passed by a smaller car and will invariably speed up. She also hates it when I stomp on the passenger's side brakes. I have noticed, however, that she'll occasionally cut loose with a tirade that could peel paint from a dry wall. I have to remind her that we don't go for the "blue" language. Still, the horror is unending. The interstates have become endless ribbons of aggravation. Believe it or not, there was a time when long-haul truckers were considered the most courteous drivers on the road. They moved over to allow you to pass and if you made a pulling motion with your arm, they might even let you hear a little airhorn. No longer. Since the petroleum industry lobbyists have stopped all railway progress in this country, the highways are choked with big rigs and the old Eisenhower expressway is too obsolete to handle it. That's why I try not to complain when the old 5:15 rolls through the center of town. I know that every boxcar is one less truck on the highway. Today's truckers pass you at eighty miles an hour, and blow your car off the road. There was also a time when you could hitchhike on the interstate and invariably a trucker would pick you up. I thought nothing of being dropped off at an exit ramp in Nashville and thumbing it to Knoxville. Even women once trusted truckers enough to hitchhike. I knew this musician who was around 5'4", thinner than a dime, with long blonde hair flowing down his back. Once, he was hitching with his thumb out and his back to oncoming traffic when an 18-wheeler pulled over. My friend jumped into the cab revealing his mustache and sternum-length beard and said, "I bet you thought I was a girl." The trucker answered, "Don't matter. Imma fuck you anyway."

If I were your president, I would begin building 21st century super-highways exclusively for automobiles and leave the old interstate to the truckers. What would it take- four more lanes? We need some auto friendly roads and not these corkscrew flyovers that claim a life a week. And the next Congress should make Drivers' Ed mandatory. That would thin the herd from some of these damn fools out there, and you know who you are. Just today, I saw some monster truck pull to a sudden stop behind me at a red light and when I looked into the rear view mirror, some slob was eating something out of a bowl with a spoon. I thought it must be ice cream but he was eating it much too fast to avoid brain freeze. I assumed it was either ramen noodles or soup and said loudly to no one, "You idiot blankblanker." Sometimes I just wish I had a giant yellow backhoe to cruise down the road, so when I saw someone driving like a selfish idiot bastard I could just crush in their roofs and push them to the curb. Oh yeah, I saw that on YouTube too.

Monday, January 25, 2016

New Years Revolution

If Bernie Sanders can somehow win the Democratic nomination and Donald Trump is chosen as the GOP presidential "Apprentice" reality show contestant, it will be interesting to see an election between a Socialist and a Fascist. Of course, most voters don't know the difference between a Social Democrat and a Marxist, but I give extra points to anyone who knows who Marx is, and I don't mean Groucho. Since the term "Socialism" is often associated with the Soviet Union, or those evil European countries where they just give away their healthcare like that, any candidate running under that label already has two strikes against them right away. Sort of like being born with a name like Barack Hussein Obama. Socialism means major industries are owned by the government rather than by corporations or individuals. Social Democrat means someone really liberal who may soon be the frontrunner of a major political party that is scared guano-less to use that term.

Discerning readers know that the United States began using socialism as soon as they set up the Pony Express. All governmental functions used for the public good are socialistic, except for all that free stuff the Democrats give away at election time like Obamaphones and abortions. I guess nothing's ironic any longer, but on the Republican side, Marco Rubio is giving away calculators, and Jeb Bush is sending out to a "select universe of influencers, donors, and core supporters," digital video players with a fifteen minute film called, "The Jeb Story." Actually, the slickly produced videos were shipped out by Bush's Super-Pac, Right to Rise USA, which sounds more like a Cialis commercial than the name of a slush fund. But that's not socialistic, that's just tiny bribes to the billionaire seraphim of the GOP. Every time I hear an update on the gangsta cowboy vigilantes up in Oregon, I'm reminded of socialism. These armed protectors of the Constitution and their nitwit anti-bird militia don't like government? Cut the power, the water and WiFi, so they can't upload any more pleas for Mountain Dew, then block the access roads and wait for the next blizzard. They even have the gall to ask that snacks and underwear be sent through the U.S. Mail. Let them sit there through February and they'll be begging for a little socialism.

Fascism is defined as an authoritarian, right-wing system of government, led by a despot, an autocracy, or a "strong man," and characterized by racism, xenophobia, and ultra nationalism. Speaking of Donald Trump, he trotted out the Vampira of the tea party, Sarah Palin, to endorse his candidacy during a campaign rally and give a long, incoherent soliloquy that was so bizarre, it brought Tina Fey back for an encore. After listening to twenty minutes of brain droppings, Trump's expression said, "Wrap that shit up, G," but his mouth said, "She's really a special person." After the Vaudeville show concluded, Trump said he would "love" to put Palin in his cabinet if elected. That should disqualify him on the spot, but nothing slows the Trump Blitzkrieg- not even the shrieking witch from Wasilla. The unemployed, half-term governor is like herpes. It's always there just under the surface, and just when you think its gone, it comes back with a vengeance. In this case, her vengeance was directed at the GOP "establishment" who mocked her last time around. Trump then announced to another rabid mob that his minions were so loyal, "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters." For a second, I thought this might be the equivalent of John Lennon's "We're more popular than Jesus" quote. It could have been worse. He might have said, "If Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her."

I'm having a heart vs. head dilemma this election. I agree with most of Bernie Sanders' positions but I know in advance that he'll be compared to Mao Zedong. I think Hillary is electable, but I've come down with a severe relapse of Clinton Fatigue. I knew it when she was slipping in the polls and brought out the Clinton attack machine. Even Chelsea was schlepped out of her new 10.4 million dollar Manhattan apartment to tell lies about Sanders' proposals and explain how he would be horrible for the working man. Suddenly, I remembered Bob Dylan's lyrics, "What price do you have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice?" I want my country back too- the one promised by LBJ, Martin Luther King and the Great Society. The country that once declared war on poverty instead of drugs. I want a country that passes legislation like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, where voting is encouraged rather than suppressed. We're just one election and two Supreme Court Justices away, and I'm beginning to "feel the Bern." Call him whatever you want, Sanders would be the most revolutionary president since FDR. If you really wanted to shake up our broken political system, who better than an elderly, Jewish Socialist? You could do worse.