Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Avoidance Therapy: The Inaugural Session

Eddie Izzard's delicious Cake or Death bit--via Lego animation.

This morning, Mr. Litbrit was thoroughly engrossed in watching the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona--only seven more hours worth of exhausted drivers trying to stay awake and manage their seriously compromised race-cars while going in circles with the odd engine fire just to keep things interesting!--and I was puttering around the place in my Not-from-Wal-mart pajamas, indulging in the customary vat of coffee and gathering up stray tea-plates and buttered toast crusts. Mostly I was trying to stay away from any manifestation whatsoever of the dread Sunday news--the shows and the periodicals--all the while amusing myself (and horrifying the children) by singing:
Mother doesn't go out anymore--
Just sits at home and rolls her spastic eyes;
But every weekend through the door
Come words of wisdom from the world outside.

If you wanna know about the bishop and the actress;
If you wanna know how to be a star;
If you wanna know about the stains on the mattress--
You can read it in the Sunday papers, Sunday papers...
Suddenly it occurred to me: there are probably quite a few of us out here doing likewise--that is, engaging in one form or another of this very behavior. And thus a recurring blog bit was born: Sunday Avoidance Therapy. If you're interested in escaping the frustrating political domain for a blessed hour or two--or simply looking for a bit of time-suckage so you can put off doing the laundry while simultaneously convincing yourself that broadening the mind and having a laugh or two are more important than having clean socks--this post's for you.

In the spirit of camaraderie, then, I'll share a few of the bits and pieces I found while taking a Sunday spin around the 'Tubes, only one of which is (tangentially) related to politics and the mainstream media, but hey, it is by Matt Taibbi--here you go--who rips David Brooks a well-deserved new one, which, come to think of it, begs the question as to exactly how many new ones a single human can endure having ripped before he becomes more orifice than substance and thus simply evaporates?

So then...let's go: First, to sunny Barbados, land of my grammar-school years, where Prince Harry--the irreverent, naughty prince, and definitely the one with whom I'd want to be stranded on a desert island--told the audience at a recent Haiti fundraiser that if they were able to raise BBD$5,000 (about USD$2,500) in the next 25 minutes, he would get up and dance for them. They did, and he did. See? We're not all stiff-upper-lip sorts.

Next, we'll go back in time a few months, to Hallowe'en, and alight in England just in time to see Christopher Walken's reading of Lady Gaga's Poker Face for the Jonathan Ross show on BBC1 (if you haven't seen this yet, and you're as big a Walken fan as I, be sure to click through.)

Onward to yesterday's time plane, where yet more Lady Gaga action was taking place back in America, land of Miss America (and what I wouldn't give to see a contestant sing the theme song to Team America, World Police in the talent portion, but I digress). As you may have heard, one of the celebrity judges for this year's pageant was Rush Limbaugh. As you may not have heard, Rush got up and danced. And shook his groove thing and pumped his fist, kinda-sorta in time with the music, so help me.

You're welcome.

And now, here's some real rhythm-making goodness: check out Terry Bozzio's roadies setting up what is easily the biggest drum kit I've ever seen.

Finally, in the interests of science, we'll wind things up in Ecuador, where field researchers continue to discover new species; my personal favorite, the adorably tiny scaly-eyed gecko, is shown perching his half-inch-long bad self on the tip of a pencil-eraser.

Got any fabulous and fascinating links you'd like to share? Mi comment section es su comment section, estimados amigos.

Friday, January 29, 2010

It's Friday evening; you know what that means: Montrachet Time. B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton & Jimmy Vaughan play Rock Me, Baby

Okay, so they're not sporting six-packs and sprayed-on leather jeans. Nor are they leaping around the stage or dodging airborne panties. So what. That's a whole lot of legend sitting on those chairs up there, passing sweet and well-seasoned blues licks back and forth like a plateful of the best Southeastern barbecue.

I've been fortunate to see all but Eric Clapton in live performance. And I recently watched Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy play together in the HBO Hall of Fame special, which in turn led me to dream of an evening wherein Beck and Eric Sardinas joined forces with Guy, King, Clapton, Vaughan, and friend of this blog Minstrel Boy to put on a once-in-a-lifetime (but intimate!) show at one of St. Petersburg's many small and very fabulous nightclubs.

Should that awesomeness ever come to be, I'll let you know--and I'll be sure to save us all a big table up front.

Bon Weekend, everyone.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

We shall miss their voices, even as their words live on

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame
of killing innocent people.
-- Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection,
and on his own terms, not anyone else's.
-- J. D. Salinger, 1919-2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

For President Obama: This mother's words

Good evening, President Obama:

If, by some infinitesimally tiny chance, the blogs Cogitamus or litbrit are on someone's feed--and that someone happens to be nearby as you prepare to speak--I want you to know something:

I've supported your candidacy for President since you were a twinkle in Harry Reid's eye. Before that, probably--a friend gave me Dreams From My Father well before the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and she said, simply: Watch this guy. He's something special. I read; I agreed. I still agree.

Over the course of your campaign, I donated. I call-banked. Last November, I walked around a neighborhood full of cranky retired Republicans in rainy weather and got to hear the clichéd phrase Get off my lawn! for real. Like millions of others, I was thrilled to have the privilege of being able to do my part to help elect a leader who'd put America on the right path--the path to justice; the people's path--at long last.

Yesterday, I stood on a street corner in the middle of my hometown, in Florida, and held aloft a big red sign emblazoned with the words:
The group with whom I was demonstrating--we were outside the office of our Congressman, C.W. Bill Young--was promptly set upon by some pretty nasty characters, Mr. President; some of them were wearing combat fatigues and t-shirts with your face on them. Your face and a swastika underneath it. One of these creatures carried a sign with a delightful water-color painting of Speaker Pelosi--she was depicted undressed, with exaggeratedly saggy and unattractive body parts, and the text read: Obamacare can't fix THIS!

You'd have been proud, though, because I did the Barack thing: I remained calm and just smiled my own considerably toothy smile at those charming interlopers.

And then I put my British reserve in my back pocket and shouted at the top of my lungs: Hey, hey, ho, ho, Big Insurance has got to go! as well as What do we want? HEALTHCARE! When do we want it? NOW!, and I kept it up as my friends joined in the cheers and cars beeped their horns as they passed.

I even got invited upstairs to speak with Congressman Young's aide. I expressed my wishes for my family, for my country: universal and affordable health care. Medicare for All. I don't mind what you call it or how it's branded, really I don't (and it's not often you'll hear me say that, word-wonk that I am).

Anyway, Mr. President, I know you're well aware that people are hurting. The cost of health care is destroying our citizenry at a time when people have already lost their savings, their retirement funds, and all too often, the very homes in which they've lived and built their families.

I'm only a little bit older than you are--ten months, to be exact--but I figured out long ago that the whole reaching-across-the-aisle thing was never going to work. It doesn't work in my own extended family, it doesn't work in the circles of other parents with whom I must sometimes interact--both of which groups of people, unlike you and Congress, are in a position to simply avoid talking politics--and it most certainly doesn't work in Washington. I know you get this. How could you not?

They want you to fail. They want your party disemboweled and they want you gone from Washington.

But America needs you. And tonight, when you speak to the country in your first State of the Union Address, we need you to get very, very tough, and--yes--very, very partisan. We want you to lead: it's why we all worked so hard, and gave of our lives, our time, our money, our words, and our love.

We want you to lead.

You are the President. Your detractors and political enemies are licking their chops, waiting for healthcare reform to die on the vine because they know that failure begets more failure; gridlock begets frustration and disillusion; and disillusion itself will beget a catastrophic disaster for progressive hopes come November.

As Ezra says today: you have the ball. And as I say--pardon my French--We're perilously close to Game Over, here: time to put your muscle and skill behind that motherfucker and go for the win.

Because we all know this much about the healthcare game: victory for the people will translate to megawattage on the scoreboard--and that brilliant, much-welcomed light will surely slice up the fog hanging in the air between now and this November.

Yes you bloody well can!

Monday, January 18, 2010

From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Three dreams, in color

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

right delayed is a right denied.

President Obama--are you listening?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Satan writes to Pat Robertson

Satan apparently got wind of Pat Robertson's recent foul remarks about Haiti and was none too pleased. So he did what any good blogger/citizen journalist would do: he whipped up a terrifically scathing bit of snark. And then fired off his complaint to the letters section of a major newspaper, in this case the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Dear Pat Robertson,

I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating.

I may be evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth -- glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake.

Haven't you seen "Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox -- that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it -- I'm just saying: Not how I roll.

You're doing great work, Pat, and I don't want to clip your wings -- just, come on, you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.

(With thanks to Ms. L. Coyle of Minneapolis, who somehow, er, intercepted the sulphurous transmission* and was kind enough to share it with the world.)

* Line-breaks and italics mine, as they did not appear online.

Friday forecast: Dazed and Confused

I don't know about you, but when I think about what has already happened in the first two weeks of this strange, frustrating, and deeply unsettling year, my prevailing instinct is to want to pound on things. Hard. In this video of the Led Zeppelin classic Dazed and Confused (live in Denmark, 1969) the late John Bonham, one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock 'n roll, gives thrilling shape and sound to what's going through my mind.


So, readers, what music says it all for you this weekend?

(H/T Tom Hagerty)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A song for beautiful, tragic Haiti--please help

Yellow Bird, sung here by The Mills Brothers, is a traditional Haitian tune based on a French berceuse, or cradle song. The lyrics were originally a poem, written in 1883--in Creole--by legendary Haitian poet and politician Oswald Durand, who'd been imprisoned for criticizing local political leaders. (Ahem.) The song was originally titled Choucoune, the nickname of a young woman named Marie-Noël Bélizaire who'd captured Durand's imagination and could inspire him to dream of sunlight and birds and the freedom of open skies--even in his darkest hours.

Times are tough and things are bad all over the country, all over the world; I know.

Right now, though, things are extraordinarily bad for the citizens of beautiful, tragic Haiti. If you possibly can, please consider donating to relief efforts--you can visit the Red Cross, of course, who've set up an easy way to donate quickly by texting, or, if you prefer to give to smaller, more community-based aid agencies, Laura Freschi at AidWatch has compiled a helpful list of NGO's and CBO's (non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations) who are already gearing up to transport food, water, medicine, and relief workers to Haiti (via Andrew Sullivan).

And here is the donation page for Doctors Without Borders.

Thank you, as ever, dear readers.

Yellow Bird
Up high in banana tree;
Yellow Bird
You sit all alone like me.
Did your lady friend
Leave your nest again?
This is very sad--
Makes me feel so bad.
You can fly away
In the sky away;
You're more lucky than me...

-- Oswald Durand

Friday, January 01, 2010

Song for the New Year: Bob Marley; So Much Trouble in The World; the final recording session, Miami 1980

This rare and wonderful footage, shot at Criteria Studios in Miami Florida in the fall of 1980, reportedly depicts the last rehearsal session Bob Marley recorded. Maestro Marley appears shortly after the 2-minute point.

Some thirty years later, and four hours northwest of Miami, the sky is shadow-gray with cold; damp winds whip the Spanish moss to and fro, to and fro.

And there is indeed so much trouble in the world.

I have great hopes for this brand new year, just the same. This year of mine. This year of yours.

May our next spin around the sun be filled with creative pleasures, good company, and as many thrilling discoveries--and new challenges to dare yourself with--as you're up for.


So much trouble in the world
So much trouble in the world

Bless my eyes this morning
Jah sun is on the rise once again
The way earthly thin's are goin'
Anything can happen.