Saturday, June 30, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The First Show

The first show I ever played was at Mother’s Junction in Kent.  That was 28 years ago.  I had no clue that I would still be playing, much less writing and recording music all these years later.  I think I had a vague idea that I would do “age appropriate” things in 2018, which I assumed to be golf, dinners at chain restaurants, and fiddling around in my "work shop".  As I don’t do any of those things, and had no interest in those things at any point in my life, it’s hard to pinpoint why I thought I would sprout this sudden interest.  Perhaps I felt that the need to dive into woodworking was a natural evolution.  It was something Dads did.  I don’t know.  I had a lot of fucked up ideas then.

Mother’s Junction was the bar upstairs above Ray’s Place in Kent.  I spent many very drunken nights dancing around to The Walking Clampets in that room.  I would even go to the reggae shows there, though at that point I thought all reggae songs sounded exactly the same, which even now is a somewhat debatable point.  First Light and I-tal were the two big bands, and if I really felt like slumming it I would go see Satta.  It was generally acknowledged that of the three regular reggae bands that played Mothers, Satta was definitely #3.  It was just good to hear bands.  I would normally drink 200 beers and strike out with hippie girls.  Hippie girls liked reggae.  They did not like me.

When we got the band going, this was an obvious place for our first gig.  It was one of the only venues where we knew anybody.  We played our first show the week school let out for winter break.  Everyone left town after the semester break.   Everyone.  It was a ghost town.  I think the club had to decide between “jukebox” and “some kids have a weird sounding rockabilly band”.  Even with those options, I think we had to lobby hard to get the show.  We finally got the OK about a month beforehand.  It was set.  We were going to play an actual gig.  To us it was like headlining Coachella.

Allow me to preface that we were painfully green.  I was under the impression that because the other guys in the band had rock and roll clothes and radical haircuts, that they were real pros.  This was not the case.  They were amateurs with rock and roll clothes and radical haircuts.  Still, their appearance gave them an advantage over me in that I had never done this before.  Not only hadn’t I played out before, I had never sung in public.  The closest exception was in 4th grade where I mouthed like I was singing Christmas carols in our school mandated Christmas Pageant.  I was so worried about looking foolish that I wouldn’t dare sing. 

As I recall there were open trials for parts in the play.  As was the way in 4th grade, all the girls tried out and almost none of the boys.  The word in the hallways of Manchester School was that “only fags” were in plays.  A line had been drawn in the sand.  Our teacher caught wind of this widespread agreement amongst the boys and forced all of us into a room where we were A) berated and threatened and then B) forced to audition in front of all of the girls.  Generally the best theater performances are not garnered at gunpoint, though perhaps Japanese POW camps did amazing yet undocumented performances of Othello.  I am not enough of an expert to offer a concrete opinion on that.  What I do know is that I was not very comfortable singing for literally the first time in my life in front of the entire fourth grade.

I did not grow up in a musical household.  The Millers did not burst into song.  I had somehow never even tried to sing before this "audition".  Not even in the shower.  The Millers did not suffer foolishness.  Singing was something done by professional entertainers.  At this time, I was under the impression that a good vocal was accomplished by singing in falsetto.  I am not sure why I thought this.  Perhaps I thought that I was supposed to emulate the Vienna Boys Choir, which was my only real example of a boy my age singing carols.  Maybe I thought that I was supposed to sound like the kids in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.  It’s hard to put it together now.  I do recall with vivid clarity my epic flame out as I struggled to sing falsetto to a crescendo of snickers and my own reddening face.  It went very poorly.  This was not a good time or place to try to figure out how singing worked.  The entire fourth grade was not an empathetic group. 

I was waved off the stage in disgust by the teacher.  After my failure I was relegated to “the chorus”.  This is where all the students without talent went to “participate” in the play.  After this spectacular embarrassing episode, I would not risk sounding foolish again, certainly not in front of the girls to my right and left.  I was very worried about public failure as a kid.  I just wanted to fit in with the crowd.  Standing out in any way was extremely risky.

The teacher made the chorus go boy/girl/boy/girl, either an attempt to prevent the boys from screwing around or to spread the students out that were going to try to sing "O Tannenbaum".  We had a few painful weeks of rehearsals and then performed one night in front of our parents and anyone else that had been forced to watch this debacle.  A girl named Karen leaned in after our first song and whispered "I can tell that you are just pretending to sing."  I denied it with false anger to hide my embarrassment.  The entire thing was torture.

Now all these years later I was going to willingly walk out on a stage and sing.  I still had almost no idea of what I was doing.  I had even written about half of the set.  My goal was to do this once, just to say I had.  I was amazed that I was going to get to play a show on the stage at Mothers, which to me was Carnegie Hall.  I figured it would be something cool to say I had done once.  "Oh, do you know that Greg sang in a rock band once?"  Then we'd all have a nice little laugh.

I don't remember much about that first show.  I remember carrying all the gear up the brutal staircase.  I remember being really nervous, this despite the fact that there were about six people there and I knew four of them.  I think we had eight songs.  I could effectively sing about four of them.  It must have been a painful experience for anyone in that room.  If a video existed of that show, there is no way in hell I could watch it without leaping out of my skin.  I do remember that we did it, and how good it felt afterward just the feeling of having been able to do it.  It was like becoming a member of some type of brotherhood.

All of these years later, I am still excited about being able to do it.  Playing and writing your own rock and roll songs is really fun. I have had so many great and terrible experiences just because I made myself walk out there on that dirty little stage at Mothers to try it once.  The secret of life is really just showing up and trying.  Good things can happen if you just try.  I wish I could pull that scared little fourth grade version of me over and tell him to go out there and not worry about failing.  You can be as good as any of them.  Well, as long as you don't try to sing in falsetto.  That was just a terrible idea.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Nurse the Hate: History of the Whiskey Daredevils Volume 3

For Immediate Release:  Whiskey Daredevils Lost Album To Be Re-released

In celebration of their 2018 European Tour, the Whiskey Daredevils will reissue their seminal 1973 Pye Records LP “The History of the Whiskey Daredevils Volume 3”.  Long forgotten by the existing band members, this record unexpectedly resurfaced in a Parisian flea market only weeks ago.  The cover art was painstakingly re-produced by Brian Willse from what is suspected to be the only remaining copy.  This landmark of recorded music will be available only as a limited edition on Whiskey Daredevils Tour Dates as well as housed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute.

This is the famous “lost” record of the Whiskey Daredevils catalogue, a true Holy Grail for collectors and enthusiasts alike.  Though the quality of the recordings on this record have never been in question, the record has achieved legendary status amongst collectors for not only its rarity but its reputation as a “doomed” release.  “You need to remember that this was released on Pye Records just as the label was folding.  The label had gambled very heavily on a Billy Preston release that had done very poorly in the UK.  They were strapped for cash and had hoped the Preston record “Billy Does Skiffle” would strike a cord with young record buyers.  Alas, they had greatly missed on the “great wave of skiffle” by a good nine years as the youth culture had moved on to The Sweet and T. Rex.  This led Pye to only be able to print 200 copies of the Daredevils record, the vast majority of which sat in a loading dock in Bermondsey unopened.”, noted British music sage John Peel.

Surprisingly, the Daredevils failed to land a domestic deal for the album and it quietly faded from memory.  “Anyone that was in 1973 can tell you, if you can remember 1973, you weren’t there.”, said Whiskey Daredevils front man Greg Miller.  “The great wave of the 60s had broken and washed back, and we thought the party would last forever.  We had spent most of that year touring Europe.  We did the UK with Hawkwind, Germany and France with Uriah Heep and then a quick run of Spanish dates opening for Humble Pie.  Leo was filling in on a run of shows with Gary Glitter, who at that time was still doing a psychedelic act as “Electric Dan and the Current”.  That left me with nothing but time in the UK.  I holed up in a small flat in Bexley working on a rock adaptation of Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor".  I was writing lyrics to it while collaborating with an exciting pipe organist that would later become my second wife.  Ultimately the project would come to nothing, but in that fog of that excitement and the heavy amount of Moroccan hash I was smoking, I just forgot all about “History Volume 3”.  I might have had a child with that woman.  It’s hard to recall.  It was an exciting time of experimentation. ”

The Daredevils visas and luck ran out at the end of that year.  The band was sent home by British officials after drummer Leo P. Love was arrested at a Billy Preston gig in Leeds for stealing one of Preston’s backstage “Old Peculiar” ales.  “Yeah, that was pretty fucked up.  It wasn’t my fault though because no one told me I couldn’t have one of those.  I was just trying to give someone the greatest gift you could ever give someone and then the Bobbies busted me.  I did not know!  I did not know!  Wait…  What the fuck were we just talking about?”, said Love shortly after the incident in an interview in Creem Magazine.

This LP will be lovingly pressed by the German record plant Flight 13 and be available September 21st.  A team of four German audio specialists formerly of Blaupunkt has committed to the project and will work directly with the master tapes acquired by Daredevils sound guru John Smerek.  Smerek noted “it’s fascinating to hear the Whiskey Daredevils at that time, well before I was in the scene.  These are the songs they played as rock and roll went from an underground movement to the big business it became.  You can hear the influence of the gigs at Eel Island with Eric Burden.  One a few of the tracks I could swear it’s John Paul Jones on bass, but the tracking sheets say it’s Sugar.  I know she was ill for a time after eating discounted gas station haggis.  Still, it was a golden time for the band as these recordings will attest.”

For More Information:

Greg Miller

Track listing:

  1. Honest Man
  2. Don’t Talk To Connie
  3. Please Stop Hitting Connie
  4. In That Order
  5. It’s Just Jail
  6. 12XU
  7. 101.1 Gram Man Bracelet
  8. Swim the Lake of Fire
  9. Never Again
  10. Mess On The Floor
  11. Last Train To Berlin
  12. Mojo Twist


Monday, June 25, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The Willie Nelson Tour Date

There is a scene in the movie “Bull Durham” where the main character is riding in a broken-down bus with a crew of minor leaguers.  All of them have the dream of playing in the major leagues, and for almost all of them it is just a pipe dream.  The leap from their modest circumstances to the top of their profession is vast.  They are all talking about what it must be like on that big stage, speculating about how good it must be when the protagonist stops the conversation dead by announcing “I’ve been to The Show”.  A momentary hush falls over the bus.  They begin to pepper him with questions.  What’s it like?  What’s it like?  They are all in rapt silence as he tells them “At The Show, you don’t even touch your own luggage!  They’ve got people to take your bags!”  All the other players are in awe.  This scene played over in my head as I watched our gear get unloaded from the Whiskey Wagon by a small army of men onto the Riverbend Music Center backstage.

I felt just like Crash Davis, a career minor leaguer that got one at bat in the majors.  Here I was, no doubt towards the tail end of my rock career, and I somehow got called up to a 22,000-seat facility.  The bill was an insane stack of vastly more talented musicians than us.  Willie Nelson is an international icon.  Sturgill Simpson is arguably the best live act on the planet right now.  Old Crow Medicine Show won a Grammy for God’s sake.  The other bands had ten tour buses and four semi-trucks surrounding the backstage as I backed our white van into a designated slot.  Dozens of people in black t-shirts and walkie talkies moved purposefully in every direction as our tiny amount of gear was placed next to the mountains of sturdy road cases of the other bands. 

I walked to the Production Office to get our laminates and passed Sturgill Simpson in the hallway.  We gave each other a nod.  “Hello colleague”.  I was pleasantly surprised he didn’t stop me to whisper, “You know how good our band is, right?”.  That would have been demoralizing.  Each band is assigned a dressing room with signs outside noting each one.  Whereas we are used to clubs where there is the possibility of a ratty couch and maybe a cooler of beer, this time we had a large room with ample beer, water, fresh fruit and a (clean) private bathroom.  I could already see myself leaning in to tell the Krank Daddies, “At The Show, you get your own private dressing room right next to guys that won Grammys like you’re one of them!” 

The stage itself at Riverbend is probably larger than a dozen clubs we have played.  We sound checked last after watching Sturgill, Head and the Heart, and Old Crow Medicine Show adeptly go through their prep.  We then had our modest gear rolled out on small risers.  A man grabbed my mic and stand and plugged it in to the massive sound system.  We started to run through line checks.  At the foot of the stage two people with TV cameras dialed in to project the action on the stage onto enormous Jumbotron screens around the facility as I said, “check check check” into the mic. 

One of the words I hate to see in interviews is “surreal” as I think it is overused and often used incorrectly.  For example, an athlete hits a game winning shot and then gets interviewed.  “It was surreal to do that.”  No, you are one of five guys that was on the court for your team, so there was a 20% chance that you would be the guy to take the shot.  There must have been a reasonable expectation that might happen.  You want to know what surreal is?  Try singing a Misfits cover to an empty 20,000 capacity shed for soundcheck as Willie Nelson’s crew and band members stare at you off stage.  That is surreal.  How in God’s name did this happen?

The gates opened at 4p and we went on at 430.  We played that portion of the show when people are filling in and are wondering “who the hell is this?”.  I would imagine that if you shelled out the $100 or so to see this bill and were confronted with middle aged cowboys singing about plastic jugs of urine, bad haircuts, and poor decisions that you would likely question your own decisions regarding the entertainment choice you had made.  However, people seemed to like it OK.  We just went up there and did what we do.  We had done this so many times in conditions so shoddy that to have a pristine stage and great sound mix made it surprisingly comfortable.  In fact, Leo was so comfortable that he took off his shirt.  He even stayed on his riser as the crew wheeled off his kit, waving like a homecoming queen.  Leo clearly was enjoying himself.

After the set the army of guys moved our gear off and loaded it in our van.  “In The Show you don’t even load your own van!”  It was most likely the fastest load out I will ever experience in rock and roll.  I normally spend twice that much time trying to find Leo in the hopes of convincing him to tear down.  Without any further responsibility, I went upstairs to our dressing room and passed the Old Crow Medicine Show main singer guy who gave me the “rockin’ set” lip service.  Now I know that he didn’t listen to us, and he probably knew that I knew that too, but I appreciated the neighborly gesture.  People from the South are very polite.  If he had said “bless your heart”, that would have indicated that we really sucked, so we must have sounded reasonably proficient through the concrete walls of their dressing room.  I can say that while watching Old Crow play that any one random band member from them has more musical chops than the Daredevils combined.  They are quite good.  

The problem with playing a set that ends at 455p is that there is now 6 hours to kill until you can settle the show.  We ran out of beer and Sugar walked over to the Head and Heart’s dressing room and asked if she could have a Stella from them.  The only reason I know this is that she sidled up to me as I was sitting by the river with their road manager when she said “I think I caused an incident.  We ran out of beer and I asked those guys for one.  They gave it to me but then shut the door.  I think they’re mad.”  She had clearly forgotten the fact that “At The Show, they’ll always give you more beer!”.  If members of the Head and Heart organization are reading this, please note we will reimburse you one (1) Stella Artois the next time you are in the Greater Cleveland Area.    

I spent a great deal of time talking to members of Willie Nelson’s crew.  That entire tour is like a big pirate ship.  It’s a traveling circus that some of them have been on for 35+ years.  Truck drivers and lighting techs and sound guys and road managers all woven in to their own little world with its own distinct set of standards and rules.  I was a guest in their world.  The last thing I wanted to do was The Wrong Thing.  It quickly became evident that as long as I had that “artist” laminate on I could do almost anything except climb on Willie’s bus.  I stood on the side of the stage to watch Sturgill Simpson completely destroy.  He has combined country and a Stax sound with a simple four piece band in a fresh and interesting way.  I had no idea he was that big of a monster on guitar.  To give you an idea of how well he went over, he had sold every single piece of merch when it was time for settlement.  All of it.  I guess people liked his set…

Willie Nelson’s bus rolled in about an hour before the show.  I will level with you.  At no point did it ever enter the realm of possibility that we would be playing cards and a-pickin-and-a-grinnin' on the bus with Willie.  Willie is an 85 year old man.  Most people that I have known that are 85 are focused on wondering when Wheel of Fortune is on.  Willie is knocking out an hour set every night to capacity crowds.  It seems like the crew does everything they can to make it as easy as possible.  His bus rumbles up as close as possible to the stage entrance to minimize his walk.  They clear the backstage area and he ambles on up.  It's a well oiled machine. 

Willie was in strong voice, unlike when I had seen him last.  We walked up front of the stage with our magic laminates and watched most of his set.  Then I decided to see if I could get a jump on the settlement.  It turned out I had to walk all the way back to the production office to fill out some paperwork for the merch guys.  I walked back and forth and then headed back to the backstage area to wait for Willie's show to end.  When I had spoken with a member of Willie's crew earlier, he mentioned that the show was 65 minutes on the dot.  I looked down at my watch and realized that it was going to time out that I was going to walk past Willie's bus and enter the hallway at that exact moment.  Sure enough, as I walked back in the facility Willie Nelson walked past me to his bus.  I played it cool like it was no big deal to walk past Willie Nelson, and in fact walked past iconic figures on an almost daily basis.  "Good evening Mr. Nelson.  Nice night tonight."

Willie entered the bus and it roared to life.  It headed out almost immediately.  Mr. Nelson has left the building.  The semi trucks started to pull out as well, as the people left were all those settling on merchandise.  The way it works is that everything gets inventoried in from all the bands.  As all the money goes into one big pot regardless of what band's shirt is sold, everything must then be counted once again to figure out the distribution of money.  If the count is off, the whole process starts again.  It takes much longer than you want it to, especially when you've been done playing for 6.5 hours.

Sugar was stuck waiting for me by the van.  As she didn't have the van keys, she had to sit in a folding chair and wait.  And wait.  And wait.  The following text exchange happened...

Sugar:  OMG.  I'm so bored!  Where's the office?!?

Me:  Back by the entrance.  He's finishing the count now.

Me:  It's slow going in here.

Me:  I'm never getting out of here.

17 minutes passes

Sugar:  I'm coming to find you.  Is the door closed to this "office"?

Me:  Yes
Me:  You'll never find it.  Seriously.

12 more minutes pass

Sugar:  O.M.G.  I am going to walk into the river and die.  I can't wait any longer.

Me:  I think I will be out of here in 20 seconds

Sugar:  I will be dead in 20 seconds

I walked back to the van to discover Sugar did not walk into the river as threatened.  We jumped in the van and motored out of the facility.  Would we ever get to play that type of gig again?  Who knows.  I hope so.  But if we don't, I will tell you this.  I was in The Show for one day once - the greatest day of my life. You know, you never handle your luggage in The Show, somebody else carries your bags. It was great. You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and brains...  Well...  That was movie dialogue but somebody carried our gear and sold our t-shirts and a guy gave me my own monitor mix. 

Yeah...  I been to The Show...

Friday, June 22, 2018

Nurse the Hate: God's Plan

The man seated across from me had an unusual serenity to him.  It was unusual not that in it was unsettling in some way, but rather so rare.  I felt oddly relaxed and comfortable speaking to this man.  There was a weight lifted off me.  It reminded me of that moment on a vacation when it suddenly occurs to you something is different, and that difference is that you have imperceptibly slipped back into your natural state of being.  He had such a sense of calm that it enveloped the sphere around him.  He was somehow able to control the pace of things around him.

I can’t recall ever meeting someone with such spirituality.  I consciously avoid using the word “religious” as even though he mentioned how active he was in his church, he wasn’t trying to sell anything.  When I hear the word “religious”, it immediately puts me on edge thinking of the words I associate with it like “intolerance” and “judgemental”. There was something about him that made you feel that you could tell him your greatest fear or shame, and it would be OK.  I asked him a deliberately open ended question.  Tell me your story.

The story was mundane.  His life was filled with small successes and minor challenges.  He recalled his life to that point with a quiet humility.  He came to a crossroad in his life where a major decision had to be made, probably the largest he had ever been faced.  It was then he said something interesting.  When I questioned him on why he had made the choice he had made, he replied almost with surprise.  “I am on God’s path.  I trusted in him.”  He then serenely smiled.

It was at this point that I wanted to stand up from the table and demand “What do you mean?  You are on God’s path?  Does that mean you didn’t decide anything?  Does that mean you just discarded reason and preference and hoped it would work out?  Or does that mean you made a decision and then convinced yourself an All Knowing Being approved it with a rubber stamp, because if you were in motion doing it, it must mean that He approved?  Wouldn’t it suggest that if you did anything at all that you were on God’s path?  If you have faith in that God has a game plan mapped out for you, all you need to do is look for the signs?  How do you know if you are interpreting the signs correctly?  What if you make the wrong decision because you have misread the clues?  Or are you saying that it is pointless to even worry about decisions at all as they have already been made in some sort of pre-destined order and you are like a train clicking down the tracks unable to turn?  Even if you change your direction midstream, can’t you just have revisionist history and say it was The Plan all along?”  

As these questions raced through my mind I noticed how absolutely calm and certain he lived.  Did this make him blissfully unaware or had he found some type of secret I would never know?  Or was being blissfully unaware the secret itself?  There was no debating that he had a quality of life that exceeded almost anyone I have ever met.  It doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive in comparison to having that type of calm certainty in all your waking moments.  I would gladly drive a 1991 Buick Skylark if I could breeze through rooms with that Zen grooviness. 

We finished up our conversation and made plans to have a follow up meeting.  There was business to conduct and I would need to prepare a quote for him, an idea to which he eagerly agreed.  At the date of our next meeting I drove to meet him at his office.  Right before arriving he had one of his employees call to sheepishly cancel.  I then spent the next ten days trying unsuccessfully to reschedule.  It became obvious that he was not going to call me back. 

I couldn’t make sense of it as this evasive behavior did not match up at all to the enthusiasm of our first meeting, much less to the personal character I thought he had displayed.  I couldn’t figure it out.  What had changed?  The entire incident put me in a bit of a funk.  I was used to business rejection, but this felt different somehow.  Then I realized I shouldn’t take it personally.  I needed to stop expending so much energy trying to understand why business had taken such a radical 180 degree turn.  This had nothing to do with me.  It was clear.

It was God’s Plan.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Grateful Dead

I am going to see The Dead tomorrow.  I say this without the whiff of an excuse, regardless of what sort of “indie cred” I might lose to part of our reactionary fan base.  I have been into the Grateful Dead forever, since a random placement at the Kent State Housing Authority placed me in a small apartment with a Deadhead and his tapes.  At any given moment an obscure Grateful Dead show, lovingly recorded and then duplicated by another fan, could be playing on the Sony Boombox, which served as the small apartment’s sound system.  I was not down with it at this time.  I was a punk rock guy.  The Dead was all just noodley noise to me, senseless hippie chaos without point or order.  This would change at the Akron Rubber Bowl in 1986.

Now I was already into Bob Dylan, who was on tour with Tom Petty.  The Heartbreakers were Dylan’s backup band, and I was psyched to see that.  There was great hope that Dylan was emerging from a particularly fallow period in the mid 80s.  This was about the time when Bob was wearing leather pants and dangly earrings and doing mountains of coke.  There are some painful artistic missteps from that time.  Trust me, you don’t have to go back and listen.  Headlining the show was the Grateful Dead, who I thought of as the noodley hippie band that did the one song I liked called “Ripple” which they never played live.  Whatever.  I would watch them since I paid for the ticket.

As soon as we arrived in the parking lot, someone walked by our car and breathed out the word “sheeeeeetsssss”.  I was so clueless I had no idea he was selling acid.  “Well, that’s certainly odd that this young long haired fella is selling bedding at a rock and roll show…  That doesn’t seem to be a great idea…”  I was a bit of a square (as opposed to the worldly swashbuckler you see before you today, he said unconvincingly).  It was extremely hot that day.  It was a wild scene in the stadium.  I remember a naked man walking down from the top deck of the Rubber Bowl as the crowd cheered.  Petty was good.  Dylan sorta sucked.  Then the entire vibe changed.  It seemed like everyone knew something I didn’t.  There was a long mellow set change. Then Jerry walked out with that sparkling grin and the band started.

There is a term amongst Deadheads that when you “get” the band, you “hear the music play”.  Well, I heard the music play.  It was like being a kid and the light bulb went off to understand basic algebra.  Bing!  Oh!  Now I get it!  They are just combining American roots music, jazz, blues, and everything else into one thing where the sum is greater than its parts.  Whoa.  I should point out that I was not under the influence of acid when I “got” the band, though that would have sped things up precipitously. 

I think the biggest problem people have/had with the Dead was the inability to get past the hippie trappings of the fan base.  In the country punk scene it is expected to genuflect to The Byrds “Sweethearts of the Rodeo” and the Flying Burrito Brothers, both of whom couldn’t have hoped to have made a record as good as the Grateful Dead’s “American Beauty” or “Workingman’s Dead”.  Yet, the Dead is waved off by many as “a jam band”.  This is a mistake.

Those two records are the entry point for anyone into “roots”.  If you have an interest in psych rock, you will need to check out “Live Dead” and “Aoxomoxoa”.  There’s plenty of great stuff there.  The point is, I think it is necessary not to let an existing prejudice of a band’s fan base to allow entry into the material.  Yes, it is really annoying that hippies always ride around in a van with a dog and someone’s name is “Sky” or “Cassidy”.  Yes there is reason to feel sorry for the poorly groomed stoned girl in the sundress and bare feet, but just because she hasn’t yet called her parents to send her a first class United Airlines ticket home back to their enormous house in the gated community outside of DC.  Those kids will be OK.  They’re all boarding school experiential summer vacation hippies.  They’ll be fine.  The scene can be a bit much.   

I am not on the jam band train.  I hate almost all of those fucking bands.  The problem there is that most of the bands spend their time trying to recreate a version of The Grateful Dead, and you just can’t do it without one piece.  You gotta have Jerry.  Jerry Garcia is the key to the magic of the Grateful Dead.  His complete understanding and joy of all of these American music forms was the engine of the Dead.  He is the voice and conscious of that band.  Yes, Phil is a beast and all the guys can play (even Bobby), but it was all about Jerry.  This is the conundrum for me as I have gone to see many of these Dead re-groupings sans Jerry and been left cold.  It turned out that I was a Jerry Garcia fan more so than a Grateful Dead fan.   

Tomorrow I am going to head on out to the local music shed and watch John Mayer try to do the Jerry part.  What the hell.  Why not?  I will undoubtedly be critical.  The one good thing is I won’t be like my roommate at that Akron Rubber Bowl show in 1986 who went on an acid trip where he was convinced that Jerry was just a replaceable guy with a fake beard, and he was the one who would have to be Jerry at the show in Buffalo the next day.  This is with him not knowing how to play guitar, which is really going to be tough in front of thousands of people.  And when the band band kicked into Truckin with the line “…truckin, up to Buffalo”, let me tell you…  His mind was blown.  Don’t even get me started about when he started screaming about how “it’s my birthday tomorrow and I don’t even understand what time is man!”.  Well, it was quite a situation…

Monday, June 18, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The Trouble With History

The problem with being relatively well read is having a grasp of history.  Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, which makes life temporarily more stress free for everyone watching reality TV shows right now.  As the nation slides further into authoritarianism, most of the population is willfully disengaged.  This is maybe best illustrated by our government deciding on a policy to take children away from their parents, placing them in detention centers and stripping these children of their sense of safety.  This is, in effect, torturing children.  Regardless of how you feel about immigration policy, snatching away the kids from someone desperate enough to try and cross the border is plainly wrong. 

Why there aren’t angry mobs of torch wielding citizens outside of their representatives’ homes is primarily because most of the population can’t be bothered to engage with the scenario.  If a truckload of cops took kids from Upper Middle Class Elementary, put them in a cage, and didn’t allow their parents access to them, that would likely get their attention.  However, as these are faceless brown people, that allows deep seeded racism to lurk below the surface of the “law and order” façade.  “Well if they didn’t break the law, then...” just doesn’t cut it to permit torture of children.  There is no scenario in which this is right. 

It seems impossible that we are allowing this to happen.  A minority voted in this dictator and the Congress is complicit in allowing behavior that directly crosses what we pretended were our shared values.  We have always had the self-perception of being The Good Guys.  Yet, here we are.  This is a scene that is reminiscent of Nazi Germany, the great “Darth Vader” of modern history.  While maybe six months ago making comparisons to National Socialism was considered reactionary, we have firmly stepped into this neighborhood.  There is a line that has been crossed and it won’t be easy to go back.  It’s who we are now and it must be owned.

When history turns its unforgiving eye back on these years, I don’t want to be part of the “I didn’t speak up for the immigrant children because I was not an immigrant child” crowd.  Maybe we no longer live in a country that has any empathy.  The values or lack thereof being demonstrated in all our names has no connection to my belief system.  I can't seem to change anything, so I'm along for the ride right now.  Maybe we can change this with a vote this Fall.  Or maybe not.  Maybe there is too much momentum in the wrong direction.  History does tend to repeat itself.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Hate the World Cup

The World Cup starts today and I couldn’t be happier.  It is not because I am a slave to following the glories on the pitch.  In fact, I’m not even sure of what that last sentence I just typed out meant.  I have a very flimsy working knowledge of “football”.  This is in spite of the fact of my recently discovered English heritage.  I would suspect that my blood runs deep with the DNA to go full hooligan and drink 718 pints, sing terrible songs, and beat a stranger senseless because he is wearing the wrong shirt.  It just hasn’t flickered on yet.  I’m still coming to grips with my love for the Queen, calling cookies”biscuits”, driving on the wrong side of the road, the recorded catalogue of Herman’s Hermits, and substituting the word “mate” where “dude” used to be.  It has not been easy.  I can’t seem to muster much enthusiasm for the English Premier League and my personal relationships with the English people can be categorized thus far as “disasterous”.

My happiness for the World Cup is not because I’m an Ameri-English bloke.  No, it’s much more basic than even DNA.  The World Cup is so exciting because it combines blatant nationalism with the potential for reckless workday gambling.  I ask you, what could be better than sitting in a cubicle sweating out a match in which you are dangerously leveraged despite having no real working knowledge for the rationale of your bet?  It’s a sporting event that allows sweeping stereotypes be the guide for confidently gambling on games where you don't know a goddamn thing.  “Hmmm…  Russia versus Saudi Arabia?  That’s easy.  Russia will kill them.  They’re always super tough villains in movies and TV shows.  There’s no way a bunch of guys smoking hookahs in flowing robes will be able to beat enormous emotionless Russian super robots.  Give me $500 on Russia.”  It’s really that easy.

No before the first match starts I will need to lay some action down on the winner of the Cup itself.  This is where I can really let my prejudices and personal feelings run wild.  A quick scan down the list of countries allows me to quickly dismiss almost all of them.  Costa Rica isn’t going to win anything.  Those people are very friendly and warm, but the population of the place is 17, and they can’t afford to keep a field landscaped much less train a winner.  Japan at 250-1 would be a wonderful story, but they’ll be lucky to tie a match.  They will play a precise and measured game that will make me feel sad for them when they lose 5-0 to get eliminated by someone like Belgium.  An Asian country isn’t winning this thing.  It’s Europe or South America.

I’m tempted to bet on Brazil after their horrible humiliation to Germany four years ago.  Losing 7-1 on your home field with the entire nation weeping blood is tough to get over.  During that broadcast, whenever they did a crowd reaction shot, the expression on people’s faces was like their dog has just been shot in front of them.  This World Cup has to be the only thing that the nation of Brazil has thought about for these last four years.  They’ll be there at the end in all likelihood.  However, it appears I will be on European shores during the World Cup final, so I am going to have to throw in with a European nation. 

I briefly thought about embracing England.  After all, these are “my people”.  I do know two things about soccer, I mean “football”.  1.  There isn’t much scoring.  2.  England always flames out in embarrassing fashion on the soccer (I mean “football”) world stage.  I always feel sad when I see my brethren with sad little pasty faces when they trudge out of the stadium after inexplicably losing to someone like Senegal.  I know that those poor guys on the team will be savaged in the British press for months.  They will still be writing terrible things about the coach by the time I get over to London this winter.  They love to put giant unflattering pictures of the targeted person on the front page with wild misleading headlines like “Coach Fondles Teen?”.  I see the English team steaming into this tournament on the Titanic.  Chin up boys.  Man the lifeboats.

I have to really decide between Spain, France and Germany.  I was in Spain a week after they won the World Cup.  As soon as I got off the plane in Madrid I was handed three cold beers and engaged in sexual intercourse with very beautiful women that had been partying for the week prior to my arrival.  My memory is a little foggy so in full transparency that might have been a movie I saw on Cinemax once and not my own personal experience, but I do remember how excited the people still were.  I’m not going to Spain anytime soon though, so I am going to have to eliminate them from contention.  

This leaves France and Germany.  The press seems to have anointed France the “sleeper” team.  I like the idea of watching the World Cup Final in Paris being fully vested in “Le Bleau”.  I have a distinct vision of myself crammed into a terrible sports bar in the Latin Quarter where a man next to me will yell in my ear " Pourquoi applaudissez-vous pour le français vous sale américain?" to which I will reply, "Yes, it's very exciting!". It would be fun to be in Paris if they won the World Cup, but I'm concerned. In any sports gambling, when a narrative begins to take hold that "so-and-so is a real sleeper", this is the kiss of death. As far as I know, the French are absolutely loaded with talent. I don't care. There is too much misinformation trying to get me to bet on them. They're out.

I am placing my dollars on the cold calculated German team.  They methodically destroyed teams in the last World Cup with what was essentially Bayern Munich, their version of the Golden State Warriors.  I have to assume they will logically and mercilessly go about their work once again.  Even more importantly, I have a German National jersey which I purchased on a drunken whim while in Munch some years back.  This will show the indifferent American sports bar patrons that I have "always" been on board with Deutchland.  It's like talking about how you saw Nirvana play live in a punk rock squat 7 years before they got famous if someone puts a Nirvana song on the jukebox.  "Yeah... I've always been into these guys."

As I have said before and I will say again, Wir werden dich mit Präzision zerstören und dann werden wir viele Biere auf deinem Grab trinken. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Return To Burgundy

I have become unusually focused on my return to Burgundy, France.  "Return" isn't really the right word.  No, I suppose my "grand entrance" to Burgundy after the humiliation of being denied entry into the EU by a 26 year old chubby very British airline employee with aggressive red lipstick.  She did not fit the profile of most worthy adversaries.  As I was currently standing in the EU while denied entry into the EU, it was perhaps the most embarrassing and confusing part of the entire thing.  Oh weary traveler, let me offer you this advice.  Do not try to fly from a regional English airport to Lyon on an American passport with 74 days left until expiration.  You must have at least 90 days before expiration to be admitted into the EU, this despite the fact that you might be already in the EU at the time of this discovery. 

Now you would think that a passport would expire when it passes the “expiration date”.  The EU, excepting the UK, decided that they would need it to be “expiration date minus 90 days”.  I don’t know what advantage that creates for the good citizens of The Old World, but I can say with great authority that 26 year old plump aggressively lipsticked airline employees are not going to provide the type of wiggle room a man like myself would require.  I prefer to live in the margins.  This is not a good match for European Union policy.  I could have attempted to secure some type of waiver from the American Embassy all the way back in downtown London, but I cannot even imagine what type of bureaucratic hell that would have been.  Assuming it would have shot the day, it would have created an impossible itinerary for me to accomplish my Burgundian mission.

One of my associates, a Dr. Sonnentag, aka “The Land Sailor”, is in full agreement with my focus on maintaining “a very tight schedule”.  I believe this quality of mine is what has allowed me to enjoy a cordial and friendly relationship with the People of Germany, a people that have an unusual fixation on scheduling.  For example, if a club in Germany says they want you on at 9pm, this means 9pm exactly.  To step on that stage at 9:02 is “impossible”.  Being set to commence the set at 9pm is “absolutely perfect”.  There is no discussion of options.  The plan has been made and must be executed exactly as formulated.  Anything else is complete disaster.  It was with this mindset that I knew I must catapult out of the UK, lick my wounds, and plan my next assault.

Within days of my exile from The Old World, I secured an updated passport.  In my photograph you can see how mad I still am at the whole incident.  The only time I want to have to go to an American Embassy is when I need to plead for an ambassador to spring Leo from a local prison for whatever violation he has unwittingly made.  The Jackal likes to glide across international borders while hiding in plain site, this even though The Jackal is often wearing a cowboy hat while walking around with three degenerates carrying guitar cases.  Krusty, a true genius at being anonymous, has blended into crowds so effectively that I have lost him at cafés while standing only 10 feet away.  It was easier to hide in plain site with Krusty in the band as he morphed into some type of Euro chameleon in blocky glasses and clunky black shoes.  He became part of the backdrop, just another pensive man quietly sipping coffee.  He would have probably slipped onto that flight to France without anyone even noticing.

I am completely committed now to my mission.   This will be a Burgundian Blitzkrieg, though I will likely keep my mission code name to myself.  Those feisty Germans don’t have a good history in the region.  Utilizing airline points I will go Cleveland to New York, New York to Paris, jump on a train to Reims in the Champagne region.  After this suicide run I will secure my place at a champagne bar near the cathedral and demand to open a vintage Pol Roger with the nearest champagne saber.  I am certain that airline officials will not permit me to arrive in the champagne region while confidently brandishing my own saber.  Thus I will be forced to use some type of "house saber".  This will obviously deter from everyone’s shared experience as I will be overtired and using an unfamiliar saber as I attempt to open the Pol Roger.  Slicing off a waiter’s hand is considered to be in poor taste in Reims, as it is in most of France as I am told.  I will need to use the utmost care and attention to detail.

From Reims, I have already secured a dangerous German sports car, one which will offer plenty of thrills as I ignore French traffic laws and push the car to the limit.  I will roar into Epernay, where after delicate negotiations, will engage in two tastings at leading champagne producers that do not normally allow in “the public”.  This is where my current title and foggy future plans in the wine trade have paid off.  While I might have been intentionally vague about my qualifications and job title, I think once I arrive and begin to toss out terminology and recite back history of The House, everything will be fine.  Well, as long as there are not too many questions, in which case I may well be escorted to the door or beaten with batons.  The Champagnoise will turn on you like angry jackals if they smell fear.

From Epernay I will then strike the village of Chablis, a personal favorite wine of mine.  It turns out that two of my favorite producers do not speak any English.  I cannot speak French.  Furthermore, even if I try to pretend I speak French, like if I make French sounding noises, it does not sound believable.  This is a hurdle.  I am hoping to gain an audience with these producers, so I have written them very flattering letters requesting a visit to taste their wines in their caves.  My fear is that my correspondence translated from Google will not say things like “I am a great admirer of your wines and hoped to arrange a visit” but instead say “Wine great to the most admire I will come to your house and hope”.  Cranky French farmers will likely not warmly greet an illiterate American caveman rocketing into their village in an overpowered death machine.  This will require some finesse.

After a night in Chablis, where I hope to win over the locals and get inducted into whatever their local secret wine society is called, it’s a straight shot down to Beaune.  That is a three night stay to not only tour the Cote d’Or, but insert myself into places where I can’t possibly afford the wine.  I have already mobilized my shadowy network of contacts in the trade to nudge open doors from high end producers that don’t let anyone in to taste their wines.  They make such small quantities of these wines, with the demand so great, they don’t have to work to sell them.  Their task is to try to placate the fierce demand with the tiny drops of allocations they sprinkle out.  I don’t know what lies will need to be told, or who I am going to have to pretend to be, but if any questions get too uncomfortable, I will pretend I can’t understand their accent.  This old trick has been done to me a number of times by Chinese restaurant owners, who suddenly can’t understand English when I have come to collect the money for their advertising schedules.  Two weeks ago the guy was a Man of Letters.  Now he is a poor peasant that cannot understand your complex words.  Smart play.  Now the student will become the teacher…

After wearing out my welcome in the Cote D’Or, I will really press my luck and do a drive through in the Macon and Beaujolais.  I have come all this way, so I have to at least see what it looks like, right?  Perhaps I will have a photo taken by a nervous local as I stand in my El Mysterioso mask next to a windmill or crumbling cathedral.  I will  obviously need proof that I was there.  This is when it will be imperative to adhere to the “very tight schedule”.  The car must be returned, fines paid, but with enough time remaining to grab the bullet train back to Paris.  By my calculations, I cannot have even the smallest delay if I want to make the return flight.  A railway strike or mechanical issue will prevent my timely return and then necessitate a lengthy story as to why I have not returned to my cubicle to once again make tremendous amounts of money for strangers sitting on the corporate board.  The move will be to speak very rapidly with a strange French accent as if I have gone completely local.  “Yes but you do not understand!  The railway strike has shut down everything!  Everything!  There is nothing left to do but wait…  I am certain you understand.  Au revoir.  (click)”

This scenario is the only way I can see to make things right from what is commonly called “The Disaster in Gatwick” last year.  I need to go totally German on this thing.  Rigid schedules.  Perfect paperwork.  Aggressive travel without remorse.  It will be “absolutely perfect”.  Like a modern day somewhat twisted General Douglas McArthur, I will return.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Anthony Bourdain

I was genuinely saddened by the death of Anthony Bourdain.  It appears I wasn’t the only one as the amount of outpouring over his suicide was on a much larger scale than I, or I would think Bourdain himself, would have guessed.  That was probably part of his appeal though, thinking that his television shows and books were a sort of hip secret.  He just seemed like the coolest guy at the party.  He had a way of presenting what some would call “radical free thinking” ideas, warts and all, that made it easy to forget that these were allegedly travel/food shows on mainstream media platforms.  I suppose I found out that if I thought Bourdain’s work was some kind of indie rock band that was under the radar, it turned out that almost everyone I knew was as passionate about the band as I was.

His travel shows were so well done, not only for the voyeuristic ability to see places you knew in your heart you would never set foot in, but to be able to get a sense of what he personally felt about them.  He always felt genuine and honest.  The shows weren’t really about food or travel at all.  They were just an excuse for a curious man to see what a place was like, what made it tick.  Amidst a landscape of media reports about how unspeakable danger lurks around every corner, Bourdain managed to convey a human connection even in places that have been painted as evil.  If nice people in Iran are sharing meat on a stick with him, maybe we can work out our differences.  He painted in grays while almost all those around him are armed with only black and white.

I think it came as such a shock that he had killed himself in that he appeared to be happy.  He had found love with his new girlfriend, seemed more comfortable and less grouchy on camera than he had in years, and was definitely engaged in fighting for social causes.  Things are not always what they appear.  Severe depression is not visible like other diseases.  The overwhelming weight of hopelessness leads to a tunnel vision where the only escape is death.  All the pain can just stop with one simple action.  I had read where he had grappled with the feeling of “wanting to get off this crazy roller coaster” in the past.  Why now?  We will never know. 

There will be a cultural gap in the space he occupied.  I know that he impacted how I look at the world.  He provided an example of how a man can be more compassionate and curious about strangers, but at the same time be a cranky wiseass.  He took artistic chances and wasn’t afraid to fail.  I loved how he was openly accepting of different cultures, yet fiercely judgmental of other things within his own.  He was some sort of weird blend of late 70s CBGBs, Hunter Thompson, James Salter, and art house movies. 

I will miss him.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The Sarah Heller Situation

I receive this daily email from “Drinks Business”.  I must have been looped in via the WSET wine program as it is a British based alcohol industry tip sheet that has almost no relevance to my life.  I generally look at it, even though I don’t always understand the context of these posts.  It’s always things like “Hogsbreath On Green Launches UK Gin Championships” or “Turnbull’s Announces .5 Euro Increase”.  Sometimes I will click on the article when I think “What or where is Hogsbreath On Green?” only to discover that it is a one location restaurant with 14 tables that is going to have 8 blokes judging gin.  I like to imagine how very tight ass and English the event must have been.  Hey, we all have our internet vices.

Yesterday I clicked on an item that announced that a woman named Sarah Heller MW has been appointed to run something called Vinitaly International Academy in Hong Kong.  The woman in the picture looked 21.  I clicked on the story to discover that this woman was actually 29, the youngest MW in history.  She is also perhaps the most competent person in history.  From the article…  “After graduating from Yale University, Heller began working in the wine trades in New York and Hong Kong, also wineries in Italy and France, is an expert in e-commerce, wine branding, design, and communication.” 

So then I’m almost pissed off.  Who the hell does she think she is?  I was excited to put out a 7 inch single on Estrus Records when I was 29, and she is an MW?  Then I made the mistake of clicking on her website.  She has educational wine videos with 3 million students.  She has a boutique design agency and is collaborating with Lucaris Crystal.  She was going to graduate Yale 6 months early with a fine arts degree, and then decided to become a chef.  She secured a stage in Italy (of course), where after mastering that, she decided to get into wine in Piedmont.  She had an accident there, had to "convalesce in Hong Kong" where in that down time launched a seemingly wildly successful consultation firm.  She speaks English, German, Italian, and French “with some proficiency in Chinese and Spanish.  Her goal in 2018 is to tackle Korean.”  She is attractive.  She just had her first child with her undoubtedly fabulous husband.  I'm certain he's wealthy, handsome, smart as a whip, and plays a great game of squash.  She doesn’t note it on her bio, but I suspect she always smells like jasmine and cotton candy, is a world class banjo player, and is spectacular in bed.

Now I contrast this with what I have going on.  I am sitting in a bleak cubicle looking out at rainy Midtown Cleveland.  I was having difficulty reading the article on the computer monitor without pain.  This is because right before waking, I was having a dream.  I was in that spot shortly before you wake up, when you are still deep in dreams, but at the same time you realize you are dreaming.  I was doing both at once.  I was dreaming but I knew I was dreaming.  In the dream I was scuba diving.  I was thirty feet down under the boat in clear warm waters.  At this point, I had a conversation going in my head.  “I need to get back to the boat.  Hmm.  I’m going to have to wake up for work soon.  It must be almost six.  Wow, that coral reef is beautiful.”  In the dream I knew I had to make a sharp turn to arch back to the boat.  It was at this point I pulled a muscle in my neck because I must have actually tried to turn towards the boat.  Not in my dream.  In bed.  I woke up because it hurt so fucking badly.  I must have flexed my relaxed muscle so hard, so quickly, that I strained it.  The dream had become reality.  At first I couldn’t move.  I thought I was paralyzed.  “Well, this is how it ends.”, I thought. 

I slowly and painfully eased myself from bed.  I went to work, doing that thing where it became necessary to turn my entire shoulders towards a conversation like I was Frankenstein.  It was impossible to find a comfortable position in a chair.  Every angle hurt.  I would like to once again stress, this is due to an injury suffered while sleeping.  Absolutely pathetic.  I had sunk to a sorry state of affairs.  This is when I began to debate with a client on the phone about the relative worth of running commercials on “Live With Kelly” as opposed to “Pickler and Ben”.  We were going back and forth like it was nuclear negotiations.  It hit me like hammer to the face that while I was locked in a life-or-death struggle regarding the merits of a daytime talk show, Sarah Heller MW was busy “tackling Korean”.  What kind of life was I leading here?  She was an MW at 29 and I'm thinking about shuffling to the vending machine for a power bar.

I need three things.  1.  Intensive massotherapy from a team of experts.  2.  Try to pick up the pieces and forge ahead.  3.  Never again click on a story on the Drinks Business newsletter that isn’t about some cheeky Brit mixing cocktails at London Gin Week or having something to do with a restaurant that sounds like something from a fucking Harry Potter book.  It will only make me feel badly about myself.  It’s much better to live in a self delusion where it seems like I’ve accomplished something.  Call my people.  Have them bring me muscle relaxers and a pint.  Get Sarah Heller MW on the phone.  I want to hear some Korean.                

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Nurse the Hate: God Bless The King

I had given myself a time out from listening to anything that Donald Trump said.  This proved to be a decent strategy as he was driving me insane.  Even glancing at his Twitter feed makes me lose all faith in the population of the United States.  I have spent my entire professional life in advertising where one axiom has proven to be true.  No matter how stupid you think the general population is at any given time, they are actually even dumber than you think.  It’s not that most people don’t understand anything, it’s that they don’t want to understand.  Trump’s one great genius is that he grasps that you can say anything you want, and if you repeat it loud and long enough, about half the people will buy in.  It doesn’t have to be true.  In fact, truth is largely irrelevant.

This idea is being taken to the furthest edges right now.  As this special council investigation trudges onward, Trump has stuck with his game plan of ignoring the facts and creating his own universe.  This has to be better than the truth in this case as there exists multiple extremely damaging videos of him essentially testifying against himself in regards to obstruction of justice.  The banter back and forth about “will he or won’t he testify?” is absurd.  He lies so often about everything, there is no possible way he would be able to tell the truth in court.  He has no idea what the truth is at this point.  The lies even contradict each other.

The general public has to have become bored with this by now.  What Trump understands that law enforcement doesn’t is that as long as he maintains a counter narrative about the system being rigged and it’s a witch hunt, this will undercut the actual facts that most of his inner circle has been forced to plead guilty or are awaiting trial.  It’s not that the administration is guilty of crimes, it’s just a question of how many can be proven without a shadow of a doubt.  “I fired Comey over this Russia thing” is about as self incriminating as you can get regarding obstructing justice.  Clinton got impeached because he didn’t want to admit getting a blowjob from an intern.  This current situation is a tad more serious.  Anyone with a shred of common sense can see all kinds of smoke billowing out of the White House and recognize a fire.

With few options left, Trump is tossing out ideas that his power in office is that of a King (or more ominously, a dictator).  Even though a much larger slice of America has revealed itself to be in favor of a racist police state than would have been thought possible, it is still shocking that no one seems to be that concerned that our current president, who is under investigation for colluding with an adversarial foreign power, is suggesting that his power is all encompassing and he can pardon himself for colluding with that foreign power…  But he didn’t collude so stop looking into it…  Though if he did, he hearby declares it wasn’t a crime.  And that wasn’t obstructing justice because it is a WITCH HUNT even though his entire former inner circle is pleading guilty but even if they do he can pardon them with his vast powers as King…  The mind explodes. 

Trump and Guliani are suggesting that once elected, a president can literally do anything and is no longer tied to the laws.  “Today the President pardoned himself for the murders of citizens via his formed Freedom Squads of armed goons that executed political rivals in key voting blocks.”  Meanwhile the sheep of the population send out photos of themselves on social media with dog-ears.  OMIGOD!  That’s sooooooo funny!!!

The Congress has shown that they cannot be trusted to do what is right for the rest of us.  They are exclusively protecting their own personal best interests.  There is no help coming from those slugs.  While we slide into a dictatorship, they are concerned about “their base”.  There are going to be good roles in future movies for smarmy character actors to portray a variety of these “public servants”.  Well, assuming that history doesn’t become dictated by Fox History Channel, in which case some handsome leading man will portray Super Patriot Mitch McConnell.

I’m not sure how this is going to shake out.  I’m probably going to end up in a re-education camp in the woods of Kentucky.  Enormous statues of Trump will be erected in all public squares as people are led by gunpoint to attend the “Freedom Rallies” to christen these public works of art.  Yet, I don’t know how many people will even notice that things changed.  As long as Target is open and we can drive big SUVs to Taco Bell after the Freedom Rally, it’s all OK.   

Man, I gotta stop reading the news.  It’s better to stop paying attention.