That’s All For Everyone

December 21, 2012

endworldThere’s been a lot of calamity here on Planet Earth of late. Channel surfing is an exercise in slaloming through the carnage of twenty-four hour news networks.

I stopped on The Learning Channel to, you know, learn something other than how soon we’ll all be jobless, money will be worth nothing and everyone will be using jellybeans for currency.

Instead, I got talking heads and CGI graphics obviously designed to frighten the women and children about the Mayan calendar and this day.

Apparently today is when the Mayans return from the dead to snack on people like it’s The Walking Dead.

(OK, that’s not really what these experts were prognosticating, but, ten minutes into the show, I lost interest and started thinking about toast)

Summoning all my strength, I was ready to engage the remote for something less dire that I could ignore. Unfortunately, I was a split second too slow and I was soon sucked into a commercial for Coca-Cola.

Essentially, the clip acknowledged the trouble times with the assurance that, as long as there was Coke, everything would be fine.

So, it appears that all shall be well. And to think, the Mayans might have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those meddling cola barons.

Here are four songs that we’ll have to save for later…

Chris Cornell – Preaching The End Of The World
from Euphoria Morning (1999)

Soundgarden was a mixed bag for me. Some of it was simply too sludgy. Chris Cornell’s vocals invariably made things worth the price of admission, though.

Following the dissolution of Soundgarden, but prior to his fronting the remainder of Rage Against The Machine under the moniker Audioslave (and the subsequent reunion of the former), Cornell issued several solo albums leading off with the fine Euphoria Morning.

The sparse Preaching The End Of The World is suitably somber and driven home by Cornell’s powerful pipes.

Nina Gordon – The End Of The World
from Tonight And The Rest Of My Life (2000)

Chicago’s Veruca Salt became alternate rock darlings in the mid-’90s with their cleverly-named debut American Thighs before imploding three years later with the follow-up. The band soldiered on, but Gordon exited.

Her solo debut had a more mature and more mainstream vibe to it. I haven’t listened to it in years, but I seem to recall finding most of it ridiculously catchy.

Gordon’s update of Skeeter Davis’ ’60s weeper makes me think that The Bangles would have had a massive hit with the song during their heyday.

U2 – Until The End Of The World
from Achtung Baby (1991)

I first heard U2 with 1983’s Warand bought Live Under A Blood Red Sky on cassette when it was released that autumn. I’ve remained devoted to the band for three decades and they’re one of the few for whom I own the entire catalog.

(even Pop which might have strained the relationship most)

I talked the buyer in the large record store where I worked into selling me a copy of Achtung Baby three or four days before the street date. By the third listen through, I was certain that U2 had made the best record they ever would.

And Achtung Baby‘s finest moment is arguably Until The End Of The World with Bono wailing about Jesus and Judas while Edge plays a droning solo that would serve quite well for an apocalypse. On the album, the song followed One which made for quite a punch.

R.E.M.- It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
from Document (1987)

Of course.

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“Am I the only one around here who gives a @#%! about the rules?”

August 25, 2012

I know that Walter Sobcheck does, indeed, give a @#%! about them. He was willing to send Smokey into “a world of pain” for a foot foul in The Big Lebowski.

Admittedly, Walter was a bit extreme and Smokey – as you know if you’ve seen the movie – had emotional problems besides pacifism.

(but, unlike ‘nam, there are rules in bowling)

I kept thinking about Walter as I drank coffee and watched ESPN’s coverage of Lance Armstrong being stripped of his Tour de France triumphs over doping allegations. I was unsurprised that public opinion revealed a groundswell of vigorous support for the cyclist.

I am not a cyclist, a doctor, or a chemist.

I am a sports fan, so I’ve casually followed Armstrong’s saga and know the basic plot points.

I have no more idea than you likely do as to whether he cheated or not.

I do know that one recurring argument I keep hearing is that, because of his status as a cancer survivor, because of his contributions to cancer research, and because he has provided inspiration and hope to millions, Lance Armstrong should be left alone.

If Armstrong is guilty of what is alleged and he did cheat, he probably did so for the reason that most humans throughout time have cheated – he stood to benefit.

His altruistic efforts are laudable and deserve kudos, but Armstrong has certainly been rewarded for his cycling success and the possibility of that success being ill-gotten is troubling.

Troubling not so much in the context of Armstrong and what he may or may not have done, but troubling in that there seems to be a lot of ends justifying the means going on everywhere.

I’ve observed in the corporate world a willingness to bend the rules that has become pervasive. It’s business, it’s said, and, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.

But there are repercussions to massaging the truth so you or someone higher up on the corporate food chain might have enough scratch and stock options to be able to replace organs or own a back-up yacht.

In the financial world, the numeric voodoo and dishonest culture that seems to be so accepted has left the global economy in shambles and millions in distress.

If Armstrong cheated, I suppose that he could be accused of robbing someone else of the chance to achieve their dreams and to bask in glory. Yes, that would be unfortunate, but not quite on the scale of vaporizing the economy.

So, when all is said and done, I’m not particularly concerned about Lance Armstrong. He seems to have retained a lot of support and, though his world might not be seashells and balloons, he should still be good.

I’m more concerned about Monday morning.

I will commute to work and spend the week walking a tightrope. The more honest I am with clients, the more I’m at a disadvantage which well might be my undoing because, apparently, only Walter Sobcheck gives a @#%! about the rules.

Walter also said, “@#%! it, Dude, let’s go bowling.”

Here are four songs that appeared in The Big Lebowski

Townes Van Zandt – Dead Flowers
from The Big Lebowski soundtrack (1998)

Songwriter friends I have known revere the catalog of Townes Van Zandt and I’ve dug the little of the late Texan’s work that I know. The Big Lebowski made use of a live recording of Van Zandt’s cover of The Rolling Stone’s Dead Flowers.

Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
from The Big Lebowski soundtrack (1998)

Kenny Rogers cracks me up, but Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) is pretty groovy and surprised me the first time that I heard it.

The Gipsy Kings – Hotel California
from The Big Lebowski soundtrack (1998)

The Dude had strong feelings regarding The Eagles and, needless to say, he wasn’t going to go bowling with Frey and Henley. Perhaps he was more of a fan of The Gipsy Kings flamenco-styled take on one of The Eagles’ classics.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Run Through the Jungle
from Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits (1976)

The Dude lost his Creedence tapes, along with his briefcase and some business papers, when his car was stolen. Fortunately – and despite the pessimism of the officers handling his case – he did get his car and his Creedence tapes back.

Run Through The Jungle was among CCR’s impressive string of brilliant singles that the band seemed to churn out at will during a three-year stretch in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

In the ’80s, with lead singer John Fogerty having a successful return to music with Centerfield, it was Run Through The Jungle that Fogerty was accused of plagiarizing for his The Old Man Down The Road by his former label president.


Andrew Burt – Or Someone Else – In 2012

June 14, 2012

The candidates have not yet formally been nominated and I am already fatigued by the quadrennial excercise in slapstick that is the presidential election.

Ihe source of this indifference is not the coverage and pontificating pundits parsing a never-ending election cycle.

It’s the vacuum left by honest, intelligent discourse that has been filled by – at best – a din of white noise and – at worst – very ugly and ignorant rancor.

The older I get, the more people like Noam Chomsky and Bill Hicks make sense to me.

I’ve been considering writing in Willie Nelson this November and – damn it – I still might if for no other reason than so that I might honestly tell people that I wrote in Willie Nelson for president.

(and how cool would it be to have the Red Headed Stranger in office?)

Let’s spare ourselves the coming months of nonsense and pick a name out of a hat.

Seriously.

We could take the hundreds of millions of dollars – or more – that will be spent carpet bombing us with soundbites and, instead, make a giant hat into which interested citizens would put their name.

Your name is chosen, you serve a year as the leader of the free world.

Hold the drawing at halftime of the Super Bowl.

The construction of the giant hat would put innumerable people to work.

It would be a lottery where the winner would get a good-paying gig and nice package of retirement perks.

It would all be over in ten minutes, we all get on with life and it’s only slightly less silly than a mostly uninformed electorate using color-codes to choose their candidate.

(which is how Garanimals wanted us kids of the ’70s to dress)

As I don’t have luxury of a giant hat and a pool of applicants, I entered “random” into google, scanned the results for a first name, then for a last name and got Andrew Burt.

Under my proposed system, our next president might be one of several physicians from California, a marshall from Utah, a science fiction writer, or some fellow arrested for a DUI.

Sadly, with the self-serving, petty, visionless group of squabbling suits who serve our country, I’m beginning to doubt that it matters which Andrew Burt actually leads them.

Here are four somewhat random songs that caused my ears to prick up…

Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark (12-inch “Blaster Mix”)

So perhaps the protagonist of Dancing In The Dark is suffering some existential angst, but it’s also an anthemic call to action. Or that’s how the song was imprinted onto my DNA as a sixteen-year old kid when it arrived with the first weeks of summer in 1984.

I was surprised to realize that I have a copy of Arthur Baker’s 12-mix of the song. I suppose the song mortified Springsteen purists, but I heard it a lot that summer.

(I kind of dug it)

Hearing it for the first time in who knows, I still kind of dig it.

John Stewart (with Stevie Nicks) – Gold
from Bombs Away Dream Babies (1982)

Stewart, the man who wrote Daydream Believer, was joined by Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on the timeless-sounding Gold. It’s a pretty perfect pop song.

I always pictured this song taking place on some dusty, desolate stretch of road in Arizona, so if Paloma and I ever open up a bait shop in the Southwest, I’d insist this song be on the jukebox.

Sparks and Jane Wiedlin – Cool Places
from In Outer Space (1983)

My buddy Streuss introduced us to Sparks in high school, but the duo has had little commercial success in the States aside from their collaboration with Go-Gos guitarist Jane Weidlin.

Cool Places is typically quirky Sparks and the song actually became a minor hit during the summer of ’83 when it seemed like they appeared on Solid Gold every other week to perform it.

Lick The Tins – Can’t Help Falling In Love
from Some Kind Of Wonderful soundtrack (1987)

Director John Hughes made music an intrinsic part of the fabric of his films. For the close of Some Kind Of Wonderful, he opted to have the two social misfits walk off together to the energetic, playful take on Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love by the Celtic rock band Lick The Tins.