An ongoing discussion of politics, law, pop culture, and fine draperies.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Music History 101

I think it's as good a time as any to break from the politics and other nonsense that I've so far used this blog space to spew forth.

I'll tread into background on another day, but for now, it will suffice to say that live music played a pretty important role in my life for many moons. I saw many great bands at many great venues, mostly during the mid 1990s, and those experiences many pretty seminal despite my burgeoning elderhood.

The Cumberland County Civic Center: A not-so-great venue

So, I've discovered that this, here, internet thing provides many venues through which a person situated such as I am can locate folks who own recorded copies of many of the shows that I attended. Most of these sites appear to be sanctioned by the artists themselves, including the Live Music Archive and the ETREE traders database.

D.C.'s The 9:30 Club: A Great Venue

The former provided a window through which I have been able to acquire some fine live music a la mp3, but a mite bit of which came from the list of shows I actually attended. And many of those few were
Grateful Dead shows, which sorta cuts into any attempt to broaden the horizons. Roll away … the dew, if you will ….

So, for whatever it's worth, I plan to recall many of the shows I have attended, and where possible, provide some kind of media to paint some colors that might better describe the event than any words might do.

Bear with me. I'll try to get the first concert-specific post up soon.

The Orpheum Theatre: A Great Venue

Yes, indeed.

Oxford Plains Speedway: based on GD fans and metal/Monsters of Rock fans, circa' 88 reports – not a Great venue.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Good News Tuesday

Jiminney Christmas ...
this story makes you feel all warm and cozy about things, doesn't it?

Portland Press Herald reported today about a report issued by the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine that documents the wealth of fine chemicals we Mainers are able to accumulate merely by frolicking within our state's natural splendor:
On paper, the high school senior, the Republican state senator and the operating room nurse appear to have little in common.
But test their hair, urine and blood, and a potentially toxic bond begins to emerge, according to a study of 13 Mainers being released today.
All harbor a surprising array of chemicals from household and personal care products that may seem innocuous but could have the capacity to cause problems such as cancer and damage to the reproductive system, says the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, a coalition of organizations concerned about the environment.
"People in Maine are not immune to chemical exposures even though we think we have a pristine and healthy environment," said Dr. Rick Donahue, a visiting scientist with the Harvard School of Public Health who collaborated with the University of Southern Maine on the study.
The study stresses that toxins are everywhere, from the televisions we watch to the shampoo we use to the foods we eat. Donahue said two participants with the highest levels of mercury, a neurotoxin that builds up in fish, were regular sushi eaters. The person with the most arsenic had built a garden using pressure-treated wood, which leached arsenic into the soil.
The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine is a coalition of other organizations including the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which posted a press release about the study here.

In a related story, The Onion reports that "Seven-Year-Old Enjoys Fun Toxic-Spill Evacuation":
Lucky second-grader Donny White, 7, enjoyed the thrill of a lifetime Monday, when a full-scale emergency evacuation of his small southern Ohio town was ordered following what EPA officials are calling one of the most disastrous toxic-chemical spills in U.S. history.

White, who reportedly giggled and clapped his hands with glee during his big adventure, was relocated along with 15,000 other Pleasant residents after a transport train derailed while pulling into the loading dock of a Global Tetrahedron chemical plant near the town's perimeter, colliding with the facility. The impact ruptured three of the building's five massive storage tanks, releasing an estimated 3.5 million cubic feet of concentrated Zardozichlorate-3 gas into the surrounding countryside.

"It was so fun!" the wide-eyed White said of his potentially fatal exposure to the toxic substance, which killed nearly $200 million in crops and livestock in a 20-mile-wide area downwind of the accident site. "We got to get out of school, and there was helicopters, and then we got to ride in an Army truck to go see Mommy and Daddy!"

Quoth Mr. Reed: "And the colored girls sing...


Monday, June 04, 2007

Being Tempted

Bear with me here. This might be a slipshod re-entry into the blogosphere, but I need to put something up here. For America, and for common decency. Especially, as it appears that the Al Gore train is moving again, despite the former vice president's assertions to the contrary.

So, it's June 2007 – nearly a year before the two major parties will formally announce their standard bearers for the 2008 Presidential election. Nonetheless, the news coverage of New Hampshire debates and candidacy travails would have the casual observer think that the general election will take place in five months, rather than 17.

And yet, one looming story remains so vitrious that the horse race commentators will not formally annoit a frontrunner – either for the Democrats alone, or between the two parties.

Time Magazine, whose website I too-often forget to check, captured whatever the few solid points that exist for this story in its
May 16 cover story titled, "The Last Temptation of Al Gore."

The story carries on for many pages, but the basic theme is erected upon the foundation so obvious to anyone who might be reading that it's almost not worth reading. Rolling Stone published the same story in January here, under the less guised headline
Why Al Gore Should run and How He Can Win. Even still, play along with me and the Time reporter anyway:
Let's say you were dreaming up the perfect stealth candidate for 2008, a Democrat who could step into the presidential race when the party confronts its inevitable doubts about the front-runners. You would want a candidate with the grassroots appeal of Barack Obama—someone with a message that transcends politics, someone who spoke out loud and clear and early against the war in Iraq. But you would also want a candidate with the operational toughness of Hillary Clinton—someone with experience and credibility on the world stage.

In other words, you would want someone like Al Gore—the improbably charismatic, Academy Award–winning, Nobel Prize–nominated environmental prophet with an army of followers and huge reserves of political and cultural capital at his command. There's only one problem. The former Vice President just doesn't seem interested. He says he has "fallen out of love with politics," which is shorthand for both his general disgust with the process and the pain he still feels over the hard blow of the 2000 election, when he became only the fourth man in U.S. history to win the popular vote but lose a presidential election. In the face of wrenching disappointment, he showed enormous discipline—waking up every day knowing he came so close, believing the Supreme Court was dead wrong to shut down the Florida recount but never talking about it publicly because he didn't want Americans to lose faith in their system. That changes a man forever.

And yet, the Time reporter does pinpoint the one piece of news that keeps the Gore candidacy story current today, in June 2007. The former veep has published a book
entitled "The Assault on Reason." The New York Times has
a review here. The Times' piece observes of the book:
But Mr. Gore writes not just as a former vice president and the man who won the popular vote in the 2000 election, but also as a possible future candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 race for the White House, and the vehemence of his language and his arguments make statements about the Bush administration by already announced candidates like Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton seem polite and mild-mannered in contrast.

The tenor of the discussion would suggest that a Gore candidacy is inevitable and, generally speaking, welcomed with exuberance. First, Mr. Gore remains front and center in the limelight of the "global" global warming conversation, playing a latter day Bob Geldof for the Live Earth benefit concerts scheduled for July 7.

Washington Post's Eugene Robinson seems to agree, if by means of
veiled and backhanded support. He urges voters to "go out and get ourselves the smartest president we can find. We need a brainiac president, a regular Mister or Miss Smarty-Pants. We need to elect the kid you hated in high school, the teacher's pet with perfect grades."

And in his absence, several websites, led by two –
Draft Gore and Al Gore 2008 – are soliciting support for his candidacy in spite of his apparent reluctance to declare for 2008.

The inevitability, moreover, seems supported by history. I've long thought that a Gore ascendancy would mirror the rebound of Richard Nixon in 1968, but some are beginning to hint to another historical analogy – including, perhaps, the former veep in his book himself.
At least, that's according to the Time reporter's view:
Gore often compares the climate crisis to the gathering storm of fascism in the 1930s, and he quotes Winston Churchill's warning that "the era of procrastination" is giving way to "a period of consequences." To his followers, Gore is Churchill—the leader who sounds the alarm. And if no declared candidate steps up to lead on this issue, many of them believe he will have a "moral obligation"—you hear the phrase over and over—to jump in.
By my read, the logical comparison need not be made to a former leader of another country, but to the American who stepped up against the Fascist tide.

Today won't be another backrub for historian
Stephen Skowronek, such as which I was guilty here and

But I get the sense that a President Gore from 2008-2016 could be another FDR. There I said it.
More pressingly, if he doesn't get the Democratic nod, the GOP will win with its version of Jimmy Carter – a loosely affiliated party member who generally takes stands that oppose the mainstream of his party but who can take the November contest by virtue of his promises to tinker with the failing mechanisms of his own party. For what it's worth, a recent poll indicates that Gore beats the Republican Jimmy Carter in a heads-up contest:
Former Vice President Al Gore, who has not declared his candidacy for the 2008 presidential nomination, runs better in Pennsylvania than any Democrat against the Republican front runner, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Gore has 45 percent to Giuliani's 44 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Giuliani leads New York Sen. Hillary Clinton 47 - 43 percent and tops Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 45 - 40 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds.
So there you have it – it's either draft Gore, and usher in the next wave of American Constitutional ascendancy, or get stuck with Guiliani or McCain and their descent into the abyss of trying to revive Reagan-Bush New Federalism as it goes into cardiac arrest.

Seems like an easy enough choice by my read.

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