Sorry, We're Closed

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

To celebrate the day, please enjoy "Vampire Husband," a classic from the Boston, MA Sterling Records song-poem factory.

This one is credited to Shelley Stuart and the Five Stars. The lovely Shelley delivers the lyrics, with her husband Lew Tobin playing the swingin' piano fills and (probably) Norm Burns kicking in a swinging drumbeat.

This hot little rocker sounds like it dates from the early or mid 1960s. It should be no surprise, therefore, to anyone familiar with song-poems that it dates from 1972.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sorry, but I've had it

Enough with the smears, the ugliness, the race-baiting, the endless cycle of outright lies from the cynical, the racist, and the terrified.

Sure, I have doubts about Barack Obama. He's a bit centrist for my liking, and I'm not overjoyed that he's not serving out his Senate term; I voted for him to be a Senator, not run for President.

But the notion of John McCain being President (and Sarah Palin being within 3,000 miles of the Presidency) not only scares me but makes me literally sick to my stomach.

What is wrong with these people? Why are they so intent on destroying everything good about this country--its diversity, its freedom of speech, its natural beauty, its middle class?

America is not a rehearsal for the end times, or for any other pseudo-Christian strategy. If God is so great, she doesn't need our help to move the end of the world along. Leave the rest of us who don't believe in the end times out of your death wish.

It is not written in stone that rich people should be bailed out by the rest of us.

America is not a Monarchy where the President gets to decide what is legal and what isn't.

It is not a police state where Americans should be scared to voice their opinions lest they be castigated as "Anti-Americans."

America does not arrest reporters and protestors without cause. America does not keep people in prisons without cause. America does not adopt the human rights policies of fascists.

Barack Obama is not a Marxist, and you all know he isn't. Lowering taxes on the working poor and raising them on the rich is NOT Marxism, and you all know it isn't. If you say it is, you're either misinformed or you're not telling the truth.

America should not use tax money from populous cities to prop up rural areas if country residents want to spend their time haranguing we city folk about our evil culture and our lost souls.

This is not a country in which those of us living in integrated areas will be lectured about race and racial matters by hypocrites who live in all-white suburbs and small towns where the only black people are on painted lawn decorations. What would you know about it?

America does not need to be "saved" by selfish, insecure God-botherers.

This is not a country where a shrill minority of ignorant, mean-spirited morons have the right to deny Constitutional rights to gay people.

America is a great country. But it's great not because of, but in spite of the people who are running it. America is a great country because of the freedoms to ALL promised in our great documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

This is not about "politics." I could give a damn about politics. This is about how you see the world.

The left wing didn't declare this culture war, but hell if I'll live in a country where I am condemned for believing in the principles set out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

You want to go back to back-alley abortions? You want further military aggression and torture? You want dead American soldiers and a growing deficit for a war enabled by a curtain of lies? More Wall Street corruption? No way. We've had enough.

This is a fight, all right. It's a fight between the optimism of the future-no matter how naïve it may be-versus the cynicism, fear, mistrust, greed, racism, class warfare, and bitter, pinched-face hatred represented by ignorant conspiracy theorists, white-power mental midgets, blowhard radio hosts, and do-nothing losers looking for someone to blame for their own self-created problems.

Now that I’ve gone through this rant, it’s time for the obvious truth: Peace is the only solution.

All of us need to find peace in our hearts. And I put myself at the top of the list. Those of us on the left who are angry at this crap need to find ways to process our anger without hurting others or ourselves. For me, one way I do this is by writing. And I feel that sharing these words is honest. Maybe it doesn’t make me look very good, but it’s real and here it is.

Most of us just want to be allowed to live our lives without someone we don’t even know lecturing us, yelling at us, cheating us, lying to us…why is that so much to ask? Why is it so much to ask that people in power play honestly, that people try to move past their greed or their racist fears, that people try to put themselves in the shoes of those less fortunate?

Decision time is coming. What kind of country do we live in?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Even More Non-Beatles Beatles

Here's a charming 45 in the early Beatles mode by United Nations, a completely obscure group most likely hailing either from Illinois or Indiana. I'm guessing that this record, released on the Chicago area Cha Cha label, dates from 1966.

"In My Dreams" has a melody similar to that of a certain McCartney composition from side one of Rubber Soul, but the arrangement, using nylon-stringed guitar, bass, and drums, is just as reminiscent of Beatles For Sale.

This is spare but affecting. I dig the wavering harmony vocals on the chorus, and the sparse backing lends a bit more of a chill to the already grim lyrics. The rhyming of "forest," "chorus," and "porous" is a genius moment.

You might notice, on playing this, that the recording is in stereo, which in this case is extremely strange. Rarely were singles released in stereo before 1969, and small labels rarely put them out in stereo at all.

Also enjoyable is that the label lists the song's time as "2:30." It actually lasts 3:41. Sometimes record companies would intentionally shorten the timing of a song to increase the chances of airplay, but I'd be surprised if this record was ever played on any station existing outside the group's immediate neighborhood, or indeed its collective imagination.

The flip side is nothing, but that's no surprise; an awful lot of groups only have one good song. The writers of "In My Dreams" and its b-side are two folks named Economous and Archbold.

Or so it seems. Doing some research today I decided to "misspell" Archbold ho! I got some results!

Turns out that a Bob Economous and a Bill Archibald (note the spelling) were in bands (The Palace Combo, The Tornados) on the south shore of Chicago in the 60s. Economous, who was said to be a great guitar player, has apparently passed away from lung cancer.

I salute thee, United Nations. Hope someone who knows more about these guys than I checks in!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Early Non-Beatles Beatles #2

Hello again everybody. Here's another lovely hunk of American faux-Merseybeat, post-65 division.

Many of you pop fans know something written and recorded by the Merry-Go-Round, even if you don't know the band. Maybe you've clamped your ears to "Live," which the Bangles covered on their first album, or "Time Will Show the Wiser," recorded by Fairport Convention.

The four-piece M-G-R, featuring singer/songwriter/guitarist Emitt Rhodes, had two #1s in their native Los Angeles in 1966 ("Live" and "You're a Very Lovely Woman"), necessities both to a well-rounded mid-60s American pop-rock collection.

Unfortunately despite matinee-idol looks, TV appearances, and decent distribution from A&M Records, the band couldn't follow up their initial two-hit punch, and soon fragmented, leaving Rhodes, still a teenager, to embark on an abortive (but good) solo career and 40 years of obscurity.

Rev-ola released the Merry-Go-Round's entire output on one CD a couple of years ago. It's a Don't Miss, as they used to say.

Here's a more obscure track, "Missing You," from one of the band's later, unsuccessful 45s. Hard to tell here if Emitt Rhodes is more effectively channeling Lennon or McCartney; he's sort of in the middle. The treated piano and chugging chorus tempo are right out of the Fabs' 1966 program, while the lovely melody is sweeter than fresh apples.

I hope you enjoy. More info here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Early Non-Beatles Beatles

A few weeks ago I wrote about non-Beatles Beatles songs, those lovely creations of Fab worshippers/bandwagon jumpers of all stripes. I thought I'd go a bit more in-depth and examine three early faux-Beatles records in some length.

The Chartbusters were, according to Billboard, a Washington D.C.-area combo. Their sole top 40 hit, indeed busting the charts beginning in July 1964, was this aggressive slice of Mersey Lite (or, rather, Mersey Heavy) entitled "She's the One."

Sure, there are some great Fabish moments (the "whoos" are especially funny) here, but also nice, slightly plangent harmonies and a rock-solid guitar attack that owes as much to early rock and roll and even the harsher tones of The Kingsmen or Dick Dale. I believe, but can't confirm, this was the first American hit record to openly steal stylistically from the Fabs.

Apparently this group, whose lead guitarist went on to play with Roy Clark (!) for a long period, was an inspiration for the fictional garage band in the film "That Thing You Do!" starring Tom Hanks.

For those of you familiar with Hit records (a label that released 39-cent 45s of current hits done by studio musicians), "She's the One" reminds me of their productions of early Beatles material. And that is high praise in my book.

Another one tomorrow! Dig.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Public Service

In honor of the McCain/Palin campaign's frequent use of distortion, lies, cynical fear-mongering, and overall mean-spirited bullshit, I'd like to show you a current photograph of Sarah Palin before seeing her handlers and makeup people.

Truly as gorgeous outside as she is in.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

My New Single!

Here's my new single, "Let It Be Hard." This is the third piece in a series, all posted on this blog (the first two were "The New Monkees Single" and "Rubber Solo").

Enjoy. List of sources, etc. on request! Peace.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Well, now that the White Sox have perfectly executed a full gainer into the empty swimming pool, it's time to consider who of the Pale Hose won't be around when spring training 2009 starts whatever municipality the Sox are scamming into building them a new training camp these days...Tucson? Surprise? Las Cruces? Petaluma?

We can start with left-handed reliever Boone Logan and right-handed reliever Mike MacDougal, both of whom departed Tampa in a huff before game one of the ALDS after being informed that they were left off the playoff roster. I think the right term for the speed of their departures will be "like shit through a goose."

Next let's consider the veteran free agents. Orlando Cabrera, he of the unearned "I'm a leader" tagline and the mediocre .334 OBP in the leadoff spot, won't be back; Alexei Ramirez will most likely move to shortstop, with either prospect Chris Getz or a low-priced veteran (Tadahito Iguchi?) filling in at second.

Ken Griffey, Jr., who several years ago was a good baseball player, shouldn't be re-signed and won't be. The Sox will search for a full-time center fielder this off-season, which would leave Brian Anderson and DeWayne Wise as fill-ins.

What about first base? With Jim Thome set to return to the DH slot, either Paul Konerko or Nick Swisher will probably have to go. Neither player is at top value; both played badly in 2008. Swisher is more versatile, is even at this level a better player, and has the advantages of being much cheaper and four years younger...but Konerko is signed through 2010 and his contract would be a lot harder to move. Plus, if cutie pie Paulie were traded, a full-on Trixie Revolt would ensue, leaving GM Kenny Williams with his eyeballs scratched out.

Third base is a trouble spot. Joe Crede is probably finished due to back problems, but he could get a courtesy deal. Juan Uribe filled in admirably at third when Crede went down, and might earn a new contract if he'll accept a utility role. (But only if he gets rid of that ugly-ass goatee.) With Josh Fields appearing unready in his brief trial, the White Sox are in the market for a full-timer at the position.

The pitching staff needs a bit of work. Besides Logan and MacDougal, we're likely to wave goodbye to free-agent relievers D.J. Carrasco and Horacio Ramirez. Right-handed starter Javier Vazquez is signed through 2010, but he has quite obviously worn out his welcome with Ozzie Guillen. It should be interesting to see what Kenny Williams can get in trade for the talented Vazquez, who has plenty of ability but neither the consistent command nor the killer instinct that great pitchers possess.

Could be a fascinating winter, if anyone cares about the Sox or Cubs anymore...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

They Gone. He Gone! He Gone!! HE Gone!!...

Sitting in the stands during Thursday night's interminable NLDS Game Two 10-3 loss to the visiting Dodgers, I did a little exercise. Thought it might be interesting to predict who, of the current Cubs, won't be on the team in 2009. Here is my list, in order of probability of their departure.

Ronny Cedeno: contract up
Bobby Howry: contract up
Jon Lieber: contract up
Felix Pie: contract up
Michael Wuertz: contract up
Neal Cotts: contract up
Ryan Dempster: contract up
Jim Edmonds: contract up
Derrek Lee: signed through 2010
Kosuke Fukudome: signed through infinity
Kerry Wood: contract up

Cedeno's departure is a near certainty, as is that of Howry, unless the superannuated reliever wants to sign a Triple-A contract for $1.25 and a box of Carr's Water Crackers. Lieber is fat, old, and in the way.

Pie won't ever be a regular for Lou Piniella, and GM Jim Hendry just might elect to dump him while he still has a smidgen of trade value. Wuertz has never been one of Piniella's favorites, even though he has that fine slider; he just can't control his fastball.

Cotts, despite occasional strong performances, isn't any sure thing; I'd expect to see the team upgrade. Dempster, a free agent, might simply ask for too much, and his poor playoff performance will leave a bad taste all winter. If I were the Cubs, I'd weigh the decision to bring him back for three or four years--at top dollar--very heavily.

D-Lee, you say? D-Lee? How could they dump him? Well, let's look at the record. He has hit 22 and 20 homers over the last two years, which ain't enough for a first baseman in Wrigley Field. He hit .317 in 2007, but fell to .291 this year. His .823 OPS is okay, but not great for a first baseman. And he's 33.

Several teams are looking for quality first sackers this winter, and the Cubs' best hitting prospect right now is Micah Hoffpauir, who plays the outfield like a blind warthog in ballet slippers. I'm just sayin' that trading Lee this winter wouldn't surprise me.

Also unsurprising to me is the notion of letting Jim Edmonds walk, but I don't think Jim Hendry will have the guts to do it. Sometimes veteran players come to a new team and give them a boost, a sort of last flicker of the flame, and Edmonds--as well as he hit at times in 2008--seems like the Gary Gaetti of this current Cubs team. For God's sake don't repeat the Cubs' mistake of keeping Gaetti in 1994...if you must keep Edmonds, reduce his workload; he hit very poorly after early August.

As much as most of us would like to see Kosuke Fukudome hung by his thumbs from the tallest flagpole at Wrigley, he probably can't be moved this winter, because he has three years and $36 million left on his contract. What's in store for him? A trip to AAA to sample Des Moines' finest food? Another shot at claiming a full-time job?

I fear that despite the deals to acquire Aramis Ramirez, D-Lee, Harden, etc., Jim Hendry's GM tenure in Chicago may ultimately be judged by the crippling, unnecessary long-term deals he gave to Fukudome, certified mediocrity Jason Marquis, and highly overrated Alfonso Soriano.

Finally, there's Woody. As much as I admire the guy for coming back from his injuries, he really wasn't the best reliever the Cubs had in 2008. Not even close. Will the Cubs pursue Wood and keep Carlos Marmol as a setup guy? And if I were Kerry Wood, would I come back to the team if I wasn't guaranteed the top bullpen job?

Feedback, head is still spinning.