Sunday, March 18, 2018

Poem for St. Patrick

Odd isn't, we celebrate St. Patrick on the day of his death: March 17, 461.

To be fair, nobody knows his birthday. Back then you couldn't Google "Maewyn Succat" and get all his public records, including a scan of his driver's license, medical forms and voter registration.

The limerick below? I know, a day late. Well, I couldn't really concentrate yesterday because the asshole upstairs was honoring St. Patrick's Day by having a bunch of bellicose bellowers over, and scraping furniture all day long (what, a carpet rule, never mind THAT). It's always NICE when somebody else's rudness must be tolerated, and things YOU want to do have to be abandoned. Like, writing.

So today it's back to writing...and letting the mind wander and write stuff on its own.

The Limerick is credited to the town in Ireland, the father of the limerick is Edward Lear (of the U.K.) and the patron saint of funny verse is Spike Milligan.


We all must admire Saint Patrick
(It’s true even if you’re not cat’lic)
He said “On your knees,
Look what comes in threes!”
THREE miracles, wow what a hat trick!

As long as you're here, how about the parrot? It was drawn by...EDWARD LEAR in 1830, some 16 years before he published his book of limericks. Lear was quite a fascinating fellow. He was the last of 21 children, and ended up being raised by an older sister, old enough to be his mother. He first found acclaim with a book that illustrated varieties of parrots. Unlike most artists of the time, he did not work from dead parrots. Or dead animals in general. He was fortunate enough to have access to an aviary.

Unlike the Minister of Silly Walks, Edward's physical problems were real, and not funny. He was tormented by epilepsy. Fortunately, he seemed to be able to sense when a seizure was coming on, and find some privacy. Despite this, and other health woes, Lear was a world traveler. A lifelong bachelor, this owl never did find his pussycat, and aside from proposing to one woman twice, only to get a pair of Oh No's, his main interest was a male who simply was not interested.

The limericks Lear published were illustrated in a comic style far different from the lifelike one he used for his nature studies. While it's the limericks that brought him enduring fame, he thought of himself as a painter, and hoped that his watercolors and oil paintings would be critically acclaimed (which they were), and placed in museums (some are), and put his name in prominent art books (well...)

Comedian Mike McDonald was 63

You saw Mike McDonald dozens of times. Chances are, you just don't remember the name. After all, it's way too common. If you Google "Mike McDonald" to see a photo of him, you'll get all kinds of people making faces and posturing, and about 50 pictures of a 28 year-old poker player by that name, but it'll take a while to find...

Now it rings a bell, or buzzes the eyeballs.

Mike died yesterday, March 17th, St. Patrick's Day, at 63.

Mike was a bit like my late friend Richard Jeni (who didn't make it into his 60's because his bipolar issues were much more severe than Mike's). Both Richard and Mike could do a killer 8 minutes on a late night talk show, and few would remember it the next day. Unlike Kinison or Emo or some of the others of that late 80's fraternity, Mike looked and acted "normal." Like Richard Jeni, who was always desperately looking for a hook (Richard tried to hang something on being dubbed "The Boy from New York City") Mike, the guy from Canada, looked and acted too normal. He was just...funny.

Yes, I probably quoted a McDonald joke or two in RAVE. After all, Mike was doing well enough to get his own SHOWTIME specials (and also specials aired on Canada's CBC). But frankly even I don't remember his shot at a sitcom in 1989, "Mosquito Lake." Let's say he didn't exactly graduate from stand-up to sitcom in the same way as fairly ordinary looking contemporaries Tim Allen and Jerry Seinfeld did.

Mike continued on, journeyman comedian and actor, till he ran into health problems with Hep C in 2011. Health coverage in America being what it is, he talked about selling his California home and moving back to health-insurance-friendly Canada.

While waiting for a liver transplant, friends and fans were raising money for his health care needs. He did get his operation in 2013, and though thinner and looking a bit like James Whitmore, was back on stage making people laugh.

What can you say? The laughs last There's no last laugh...when you can still see a comedian perform via DVD, CD or YouTube. But it would be nice to know you could maybe email the website or snail mail the star and say, "I just saw..." and "I loved the bit when..." But Mike can't hear the laughter now, and his wife is missing him a million times more than we are today.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Vinyl is like Jesus - NOT COMING BACK

Among the phrases I hate...which includes:

"Thanks for SHARING 2gb of music on WeTransfer," and "music should be free" and "We at the RIAA care," is: "vinyl is coming back!"

NO. It is NOT. As much as Barnes & Noble wishes it was so, it is NOT. They're desperate, and they don't want to close more stores, but selling "collector" vinyl in shops OR online is not going to keep their boat afloat. They are like France, hoping Hitler won't invade. Make that Mussolini, aka Jeff Bezos. Sorry, THIS is NOT going to HELP:

Idiots point to nonsense like this and say, "Vinyl is coming back!" People who say this are even loopier than the assholes who keep saying, "UFO's are real. There are sightings most EVERY night!" To the UFO jerks, Don Henley pointedly sang, "They're not here, they're not coming." And if he didn't give up years ago when he groused about Internet piracy and then didn't follow through, he'd sing the same thing about vinyl. "IT'S NOT COMING BACK."

Why not? Piracy. It's been acknowledged that most major retailers don't stock CD's. If they do, they devote very little space to them, and only offer the absolute best sellers, preferably the expensive box sets sold as gifts. Piracy is several generations growing up knowing how to GOOGLE the "free" music, and use GOOGLE's Blogspot to get just about any back-catalog item they want. If takedowns on the latest releases stop the latest Adele or Sam Smith or Taylor Swift item, the "lovers of free" know which private forums, which Croatian and Russian blogs, and which torrents to go to, so that "the MAN' doesn't "ruin the FUN."

These days, DVDs and CDs sometimes come with a download code, so that the consumer can also have a digital version for the all-important cellphone or laptop.

These novelty releases on vinyl may be flashy, but they appeal to a very small audience of hipsters (make that pseudo-hipsters) and arrogant audiophiles (make that pseudo-audiophiles) who like to show off their BOSE shit and pretend they appreciate fine sound while munching their Fritos. Most people can't afford the connoisseur's brand of turntable and cartridge, and frankly, people who have always had a turntable and are past 40, or 50, prefer the convenience of mp3 or CDs rather than flipping vinyl every 20 minutes, being annoyed by scratches and ticks, and having to change cartridges and needles.

Most people aren't impressed by the weight of new vinyl, and are disgusted by the inflated price. Most people are rather sophisticated now, and don't really give a damn for "record store day" items on funny-colored vinyl. The "picture disc" was a novelty what, 40 years ago? Today you can go on eBay, or go to a thrift shop, and find more than enough great vinyl in great condition. And nobody's doing it.

The disrespect of music has reached epidemic proportions. People who should know better, seem to think that piracy is a good thing, and that it only hurts the evil "record labels." No, the more people get FREE the less they buy. When entire discographies and box sets are tossed around in shoutboxes and torrents, and everyone has a 2TB drive loaded with stuff they'll NEVER get around to hearing, why buy something? Most anything you can buy is being given away for a "nice comment" or two by some conspirator who pretends to "love music" and "support the artist." Yeah, you see the backhand remark, "If you like it buy it," right next to the Paypal "tip jar" to thank the uploader for his "hard work."

Tell me the "evil record label" is more disgusting than the blogger who is making money by using Rapidgator and other premium cloud services, and getting paid for every download and every banner ad. People often say "thanks for sharing" to smug parasites who are doing it for the ROYALTIES they get, and shrugging that Taylor Swift doesn't need the money...and neither does her record label, the secretaries and janitors working in the office, or anyone else. The parasites also say, regarding old vinyl, "I'm giving it away because it's not on CD." Well, no, not when you're giving it away. I've worked for CD re-issue labels, writing album notes, and that's a dying field because these companies go under so often. They can't sell 500 or 1000 copies, even, when the album is all over the Internet. If they spend the time to re-master, and add bonus tracks, ha ha ho ho hee hee, the pirates instantly offer it in FLAC. A big "Fuck You, Sundazed," "Fuck you Rhino," and "Fuck You Bear Family." You people don't deserve to be in business preserving music in is most pristine form.

The answer to all this is for the RIAA, IFPI, GEMA and the rest to take piracy a lot more seriously, use interns if necessary to keep pressure on problem bloggers and forums, and lobby for better protection and higher penalties from rogue websites, especially ones in Putinville. Yes, Putin LOVES the way idiot bloggers give away American and British music, crippling the industry. The record industry should be thinking about the strategy for making sure that sites in Putinville are blocked and the money trail choked. There should be NO way that Rapidgator and similar sites can do business and send money to pirates via Paypal or a Google wallet.

"Oh, short-sighted businessmen," Joni Mitchell sang. Yes, it's preferable to ignore or to dream. Pretend that Spotify, notorious for NOT paying good royalties, is the answer. Pretend that YouTube, which also gives out a few pennies per thousands of downloads, is a way for musicians to thrive. And yes, pretend that VINYL IS COMING BACK...when it is NOT.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Like Spike Jones did to Hitler

Who knows.

It could work.

Every time the KGB stooge shows his face, he gets razzed, spit on, or called "Silly Pooty."

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking was thinking about the End of the World

Towards the end of his life, Stephen Hawking seemed to be less involved in theorizing about the universe, than thinking about how soon life would become extinct on this violent, polluted planet.

Reports from him were, "Hawking on how the world will end..." and "Scientist on which catastrophe will be fatal to human survival," etc.

As he deteriorated, so did the planet. Let's remember that Lou Cherig's Disease (ALS) was unknown until the 20th Century. Look in any old book for Parkinsons, Alzheimers, CMT, IBD and AIDS and the rest of it...not there. Those terms are as new as "climate change" and "mass shootings in schools" and ISIS and Boko Haram.

Into symbolism?

Then these two pix of Stephen Hawking represent the quality of life on this planet in 1968 and in 2018.

On the lighter side, you have to laugh at how that pretentious asshole Neil DeAsshole Tyson chose to acknowledge the passing of Hawking.

Rest in Peace? Hell no. Way too simple. Try THIS for eloquence.

Damn, that's JUST what I was going to say....

Monday, March 12, 2018

A long way from Zapruder or, "Do you have a picture of the pain?"

One of the joys of the Internet, Twitter, Instagram, and everyone owning a cellphone, is that curiosity over a hideous tragedy can be instantly seen...and sated.

Years ago, a fellow named Zapruder was one of the few who was able to afford an 8mm camera and a roll of 50 foot film. And so, unfortunately, his grainy footage of the JFK assassination, some of it obscured by a billboard sign, is all we have.

Phil Ochs wrote a song called "Crucifixion" about the death of the President, and about the world spinning madly, and at one point he sings:

"How did it happen? I hope his suffering was small.
Tell me every detail, I've got to know it all,
And do you have a picture of the pain?

Now, we usually do. Last night, when a sight-seeing helicopter landed in the East River, somebody had the cellphone footage on Twitter almost instantly.

The people inside the helicopter? The ones who died? One of the five took a moment to post a happy thumbs-up to Instagram.

I did one of these helicopter deals. It was a birthday celebration. I sort of dared end my life on my birthday, just to get a bird's eye view of the Hudson River and the city. This was pre-Instagram and Twitter and uploading every detail of one's life as it happens.

These days, even the most obscure victim, and the most obscure maniac who suddenly went berserk in a homicidal rage...can be instantly identified because they both (altogether now) HAVE FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS. Their photos in the gruesome newspaper article bear the byline: FACEBOOK.

Reporters don't have to go running around asking next of kin for a photo. Reporters don't even have to do research beyond checking what's been posted for everyone's amusement on Twitter or other social media sites. Somebody dies? Quote the Tweets.

And then? Forget about it. "Do you have a picture of the pain?" is not even asked, because it's almost a given. Yes, you WILL see a picture of the pain. And it's been a long, long time since 1963, when newspapers, magazines and TV networks refused to run the Zapruder film or frames from it, because it was too gruesome. Now, the picture of the pain is being given to people who are already numb from seeing so much pain. The image merely satisfies idle curiosity, and most of each day's atrocities aren't even given a blink. "Oh, car crash, acid attack, bomb explosion...seen that." Fortunately not "been there." Just "seen that."

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Daylight Savings Time

When I was a naive teenager, I wrote to my ELECTED OFFICIALS and asked why we don't abolish Daylight Savings Time.

I wrote, "Instead of moving clocks around and playing tricks, why don't we move ourselves? If people want more daylight, then they can simply change their office hours. They can state, "As of March 10th, our hours will be 8 to 4 instead of 9 to 5."

Those businesses and stores that want to keep their normal hours can do so. Government buildings and schools can switch if they choose. It's about choice in a Democracy. Isn't it?

I think this was the first time I recognized crapathy-speak. As in, "Thank you, Mr. Smith, for your interesting suggestion. I will take it under consideration." And/or, "I appreciated hearing your views, and I will take the appropriate action."