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Ed Driscoll

All You Need Is Ears

Lambert and Stamp: The Men Who Made The Who

April 25th, 2015 - 1:43 pm

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In 1979, The Who, at the peak of their career, released the documentary summing up their career at that point, The Kids Are Alright. As veteran rock critic Dave Marsh wrote in his 1983 biography of the group, Before I Get Old, published to coincide with the band’s “first” farewell tour that year:

Kids is one of the most anarchic documentaries ever assembled, running two hours without a shred of narration and with not so much as a subtitle identifying characters or dates. Kids was the perfect cult item, and Who fans flocked to it. Hardly anyone else did, however, so even though it remained a staple of the midnight movie circuit, part of every kid’s introduction to the verities of the Rock of Ages, the film had little impact outside of the Who’s cult. The Kids Are Alright is, nevertheless, one of the great rock and roll movies, capturing all of the Who’s sass and humor and taking the wind out of the band’s pomposity at each and every opportunity.

Naturally, Keith Moon stole The Kids Are Alright, which became a summation of his career as the Who’s anarchic drummer, who passed away nine months before its release, choking on an overdose of the pills he was prescribed to battle his alcoholism.

This year, filmmaker James D. Cooper released Lambert and Stamp, a documentary about the Who’s first managers, a  film that can be thought of as the liner notes to The Kids Are Alright. If you’re a fan of the band, you owe it to yourself to see this film while it’s in the theaters (I saw it last night at a sparsely attended showing at the Camera 3 in San Jose), to get a sense of two men who did so much to shape the group in the 1960s. How much you know about the Who will shape how much you enjoy this new documentary, which is built around a lengthy series of interviews with Chris Stamp (1942-2012), the younger brother of veteran actor Terence Stamp (Superman II, Wall Street, The Limey), who also appears in the film, along with Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Daltrey’s wife Heather, and other Who insiders.

Instant Party

The Who were one of the most unlikeliest of bands; Pete Townshend, art school devotee and later follower of Sufi mystic and guru Meher Baba, was essentially the timekeeper of the group, even though he was the rhythm guitarist. Keith Moon’s anarchic surf-music-inspired drumming provided brilliant percussive colors; but keeping time was not his metier; he was not a man in search of a simple backbeat on the 2 and 4. With his fluid single-note runs, John Entwistle was in many ways the band’s lead guitarist, despite being the bassist. And Daltrey, the founder and nominally the frontman of the group, was forced to fight for attention as singer as his three innovative sidemen roared away alongside him. Somehow it worked — brilliantly — in spite of themselves.

Similarly, Lambert and Stamp were the most unlikeliest of rock managers. They hadn’t really planned to be managers at all. Kit Lambert (1935-1981) was the son of composer/conductor Constant Lambert, who sought to make a name for himself in the shadow of his famous father, who died, as Wikipedia notes, in 1951 “two days short of his forty-sixth birthday, of pneumonia and undiagnosed diabetes complicated by acute alcoholism.”

Britain didn’t legalize homosexuality until 1967; the upper-class Lambert was very much gay during that era. And the handsome, modish Stamp was equally aggressively heterosexual and working class, the son of a tugboat captain. The two originally didn’t want to be managers; after meeting while both were working at Shepperton  Studios in the early 1970s, they were looking for the perfect rock group to feature in a documentary on the exploding British rock scene in the wake of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, when they stumbled into the Railway Hotel in Harrow where the Who were playing Motown songs to an overpacked room crammed mostly with hundreds of young Mod men. As the documentary explains, Lambert and Stamp were instantly convinced they had found the perfect group for their film; the band was instantly convinced they were the authorities, about to close down the gig as a fire hazard. While they did shoot some early footage of the group, Lambert and Stamp decided instead they’d rather be Brian Epstein than filmmakers, and quickly began managing the group.

Keith Moon brilliantly summed up the tone of the two men in the early days in his 1972 Rolling Stone interview:

Kit Lambert came to see us playing at the Railway ‘Otel in ‘Arrow. We had a meeting. We didn’t like each other at first, really. Kit and Chris. They went ’round together. And they were . . . are . . . as incongruous a team as we are. You got Chris on one hand [goes into unintelligible East London cockney]: “Oh well, f**k it, jus, jus whack ‘im in-a ‘ead, ‘it ‘im in ee balls an’ all.” And Kit says [slipping into a proper Oxonian]: “Well, I don’t agree, Chris; the thing is . . . the whole thing needs to be thought out in damned fine detail.” These people were perfect for us, because there’s me, bouncing about, full of pills, full of everything I could get me ‘ands on . . . and there’s Pete, very serious, never laughed, always cool, a grass-’ead. I was working at about ten times the speed Pete was. And Kit and Chris were like the epitome of what we were.

Lambert was a brilliant ideas man; he shaped The Who’s image as sharply-dressed mods, encouraged Townshend and Moon’s guitar and drum smashing, and hired a graphic artist to design The Who’s iconic “Maximum R&B” poster (a copy of which is hanging behind me in my home office as I write this). Lambert also moved Townshend into Lambert’s flat in the posh Belgravia section of London, giving the band a veneer of success far beyond what they were earning as working musicians. Meanwhile Stamp was largely funding the band’s early days via his work as a second assistant director on the Kirk Douglas WWII movie, The Heroes of Telemark.

Lambert fueled Townshend’s composing skills, convincing him to link together several short, incomplete songs into one nine minute number in 1966 called “A Quick One,” which the two called “their mini-opera,” and which Townshend credits for inspiring some of the ideas on Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles’ landmark concept album the following year. That album would go on to inspire the Who’s double album “rock opera,” Tommy, released in 1969.

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RIP; getting caught up in the swirl of Beatlemania and being married to an admittedly-abusive husband led to a difficult life for the original Mrs. Lennon:

Cynthia Lennon, then Cynthia Powell, met John Lennon in the early ’60s in college. In 1962, the two married when she became pregnant with Julian Lennon. They eventually divorced in 1968. Cynthia Lennon remarried several times.

John Lennon memorably went on to marry Yoko Ono, and Ono remained his wife until he was murdered by a crazed fan in 1980.

Julian Lennon told FOX411 last year, ahead of the Beatles’ 50th anniversary, that he grew up living with his mom as his father traveled the world as a member of the Fab Four.

“Anyone must remember that dad left when I was 3 years old,” Julian Lennon said. “Mom and I lived out of the limelight. We lived a totally different life.”

In her autobiography, Cynthia Lennon described being mistreated by her famous ex at times. But in a 2005 interview with “Good Morning America” she recalled his charisma as well.

“You couldn’t resist being around him,” she said. “You couldn’t resist watching what he was up to. I mean, he was a total rebel. Everybody was amazed by him.”

In other news from pop culture, Joni Mitchell’s Website posted yesterday evening that the 71-year old singer-songwriter “was found unconscious in her home this afternoon. She regained consciousness on the ambulance ride to an L.A. area hospital” after a 911 call. This news shouldn’t be much of a shock to those who read articles on Mitchell’s difficult health issues and fraught mental state last fall:

‘Morgellons is constantly morphing. There are times when it’s directly attacking the nervous system, as if you’re being bitten by fleas and lice. It’s all in the tissue and it’s not a hallucination. It was eating me alive, sucking the juices out. I’ve been sick all my life’.

Mitchell broke off friendships feeling she was wasting her time with some people she calls ‘deadwood’.

She lost her drive and doesn’t follow projects through to conclusion. She’s forgetful and can’t remember what she just said, Marom writes.

If she’s out walking and has a thought she wants to remember but no notebook, she won’t remember when she gets home.

‘There’s a lot of lethargy with my illness. I’m fatigued’, she laments. And the medicines she was taking gave her brain fog, adding: ‘My creative energy went into survival and into furnishing the interior of the house [in British Columbia]‘.

While “currently in intensive care undergoing tests,” fortunately, the New York Times reported early this morning that “Mitchell is  and is awake and in good spirits.”

Kathy Shaidle spots the comment of the day regarding her treatment:

 

Eric Clapton Turns 70

March 30th, 2015 - 6:33 pm

Monster guitarist; at times problematic life driven by a few monstrous demons. Given his transformation from blues guitarist to pop and country-twinged singer by the mid-1970s, it may be difficult for younger readers to fathom how influential a guitar player he was at the start of his career, when a then-unknown New York-based musician named Jimi Hendrix, enticed to launch his solo career in London, asked in reply if he’d get to meet Clapton in the process.

Keating Five, Eagles Zero

March 30th, 2015 - 2:25 pm

Over the weekend late at night, I watched the 27-hour long History of the Eagles documentary on Netflix. (I may be exaggerating the length slightly. But not by much.) I never followed the band in the ‘70s, because at the time, my motto when it came to rock was that if it’s not British, it’s crrrrrapppp, to paraphrase Mike Myers. (Ex-pats such as Jimi Hendrix and Chrissie Hynde were the exceptions that proved the rule.) So I didn’t know what specifically ended the group. I had no idea this trivial spat was the coke straw that broke the band:

On July 31, 1980, in Long Beach, California, tempers boiled over into what has been described as the “Long Night at Wrong Beach.” The animosity between Felder and Frey boiled over before the show began, when Felder said, “You’re welcome – I guess” to California Senator Alan Cranston’s wife as the politician was thanking the band backstage for performing a benefit for his reelection. Frey and Felder spent the entire show telling each other about the beating each planned to administer backstage. “Only three more songs until I kick your ass, pal”, Frey recalls Felder telling him near the end of the band’s set. Felder recalls Frey telling him during “Best of My Love”, “I’m gonna kick your ass when we get off the stage.”

Cranston looked a bit like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons. Beyond being a boilerplate malaise-era Dem, just a reminder of who he was:

Cranston was reprimanded by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics for “improper conduct” on November 20, 1991 after Lincoln Savings head Charles Keating’s companies contributed $850,000 to voter registration groups closely affiliated with the senator. Keating had wanted federal regulators to stop “hounding” his savings and loan association. Although the committee found that “no evidence was presented to the Committee that Senator Cranston ever agreed to help Mr. Keating in return for a contribution,” the committee deemed Cranston’s misconduct the worst among the Keating Five.

So let me get this straight: throughout the documentary, a running leitmotif is that the band was desperate to add some decent rock under their soaring harmony vocals. The band fires British superstar engineer-producer Glyn Johns (whose previous resume included the Stones, the Who, the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin’s first album) because he emphasized their harmonies and country sound. In response, they bring in Joe Walsh to rock out. And finally, when their other guitarist does something that’s actually rock and roll and utters a punk rock-style sneer to corrupt power, the entire band implodes?

Perfect.

The Two Minutes Hate at Lincoln Center

March 28th, 2015 - 12:01 pm

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Thursday night, “the New York Philharmonic premiered a work by John Adams. Adams is probably the most famous and important composer in the world (classical composer). His new work is Scheherazade.2, a ‘dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra,’” Jay Nordlinger, who attended the performance writes at the Corner. But first, Adams took time out to instruct his audience to insult an AM radio host:

Before the performance, Adams himself took a microphone and spoke to the audience about the work. He described how it came about. He had seen an exhibition in Paris about Scheherazade. Then he read Arabian Nights, and was appalled by the “casual brutality toward women” depicted therein. At the same time, he was reading of brutality toward women around the world: in Egypt, Afghanistan, and India, for example.

But we were not to think we Americans were exempt from this brutality. For example, you can “find it on Rush Limbaugh.” (Rush equals the Taliban or the Muslim Brotherhood, you see.)

To this remark, the audience responded with sustained and robust applause. In 1984, Orwell writes of the two-minute hate. The applause in Avery Fisher Hall did not last for two minutes, but it went on long enough.

Obviously, John Adams knows nothing about Rush Limbaugh. It’s a good bet he has never listened to Rush’s show or read an article by him. The same must be true of the audience members who applauded. But Rush is a hate figure on the left, a bogeyman. His name has almost magical power. And Adams must have known that if he invoked it, in the way he did, he would get agreement and applause from a New York audience.

This is a sick and twisted culture. It features that toxic combination of ignorance and hate.

Rush himself is amused at becoming “the official bogey man of the left:”

[Nordlinger and I] had a little back-and-forth exchange today, and I told him, I said, “No, this stuff? I long ago ceased being bothered by this.  In fact, I’ve had to learn how to take this as a measure and sign of success,” and it clearly is.  So, anyway, that’s what I was talking about at the open of the program as being the one who inspires the most hate among people on the left who are already engaged in hate.

One of his listeners, who attended the performance estimates that there was about a thousand people in the audience:

CALLER:  It was packed and the majority of people clapping were in the front and whooping it up.  I don’t believe that Jay heard me, but I was outraged.  It ruined my entire evening.

RUSH:  I think you and –

CALLER:  I was just stunned. I’m sorry to interrupt you.  I was just so stunned, and I’m still very upset about it.  It was completely inappropriate and completely out of context.

RUSH:  Well, I appreciate your sentiments.  I really do.  You and Jay must have been the only two people in there.

CALLER:  Well, my friend Trish was with me, and she absolutely was outraged as well.  The reason that I called you is I just wanted to let you know that someone in addition to Jay and my friend Trish in Manhattan, in the land of leftist loons, has your back.

RUSH:  Well, I appreciate that more than you know.  I really… I don’t know how to thank you for that, because there’s no way I can tell people how much that means.  It’s just no way I can convey that to people.

CALLER:  Rush, I heard you come and speak in New York City.  I’m a huge fan and a huge listener, and you are right on, everything you say and everything that you do for us conservatives.  You can be anything in New York City.  You can be a murderer, a thief, a liar, but don’t you dare be a conservative.

As Rush responds:

My name epitomizes and encapsulates all of their hatred for conservatism.  But, see, the point is this guy’s standing up there, and he realizes what he’s doing.  He’s telling people that his inspiration… He has been inspired to write this piece on the basis he was so appalled at the way women are treated in various parts of the world.

But then, as a good liberal, he had to say something to let everybody know that America’s no better.  So he says, “And, by the way, you can find it here on Rush Limbaugh,” and that’s when the audience started their nearly two-minute applause.  None of ‘em listen to the program like you, Melanie.  None of them have the slightest idea what happens here.  It doesn’t matter.  They know what happens here because they watch The Daily Show or because they ready Media Matters or basically whatever sewer on Twitter they happen to visit. That’s how they know what happens on this program.  They wouldn’t dare tune in here like you do.

As we noted a week and a half ago, during Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz’s heavy-handed attempt to pour a toxic blend of racialism into his company’s products, Nordlinger has noted in several posts and articles over the years since Mr. Obama came to power, the number of politics-free “safe zones” is continually shrinking in America. Classical music used to be one such zone, but as with Germany in the first half of the 20th century, apparently that’s no longer the case.

On the flip-side, listening to classic rock on FM can be a riot in the Bay Area, if only for the commercials. It’s always fun to hear a “go green” PSA hectoring the listener to scale back his lifestyle, followed by an ad for a detox center, followed by a song from the 1970s performed by a drug and booze-addled band that toured in a private jet and raced (and crashed) Ferraris while their fleets of tractor-trailers filled with 50,000 watts of lighting and amplification drove between giant concrete hockey arenas.

But then, the same thing is true of the world of journalism, which still profess fealty to the boozy visages of Lou Grant, Mencken, and the hard-drinking boys in the newsroom of Ben Hecht’s The Front Page, but as James Lileks wrote a decade ago, “My God, if I pulled a bottle of scotch out of my desk and screwed a cigar in my mug they’d take me to a conference room for an intervention.”

Mark Steyn, during his interview with Hugh Hewitt yesterday, explores how ISIS’ snuff films attract disaffected westerners:

HH: This is so horrific, I don’t know even how to approach it. The Islamic state has kidnapped as many as 350 Assyrian Christians – women, children, and they’ve taken them away in the night. Meanwhile, we’re learning about Jihad Johnny. And it seems like on this side of the Atlantic, and this side of the world, the only thing the Obama administration can get upset about is Benjamin Netanyahu coming here.

MS: Yeah.

HH: What is, you know, not Valerie Jarrett, but Susan Rice said it’s damaging to the relationship that the Prime Minister, destructive was her word, her exact word. What do you think of this?

MS: No, I think it’s an extremely weird obsession. We are losing to an explicitly genocidal and apocalyptic movement that controls substantial amounts of territory, and as we discussed last week, is incredibly attractive to educated citizens in the Western world. When you were talking, you said they kidnapped all these Christians in the middle of the night. I would doubt they actually did that. You know, that’s the way the old school guys, your Nazis and fascists and communists used to do it. They were furtively, at some level, they knew, they were ashamed of their evil, and they didn’t want it to get out. These guys use evil as their calling card. They use evil in their campaign ads. They use evil in their movie promotions. And it’s very, and it’s horribly seductive to all these thousands of people who are supposed to be nominally citizens of Western nations, not just this Jihad John guy from London, but there’s Americans from Minnesota and elsewhere, there’s Canadians, Australians. There’s all kinds of people for whom the evil, the evil of ISIS, is its principle selling point.

HH: Let me ask you about this, because I asked Jeb Bush this yesterday in an interview with him. What’s the tap root? And he had dismissed Marie Harf’s joblessness claim, as we all do. It’s just absurd and silly and moronic. And I asked him about it, and he fumbled around, and he came up with sort of civilizational alienation. What do you think it is, Mark Steyn?

MS: Yeah, I think there’s a measure of truth in that. I think at the heart of the, at the heart of most modern Western societies is a big hole where young people’s sense of identity is. And some of it, you know, you saw a lot of that at the Oscars. They fill it with sexual politics, with all this LGBTQWERTY. I mean, I don’t even know what the last 17 initials. I know, I haven’t a clue what it is they’re meant to be, these evermore recherché sexual identity politics. Or they said it was climate change. They want to feel they’re saving the planet. And maybe that’s enough for some people. But for other people, it isn’t. And it’s not first-generation Muslims. It’s not second-generation Muslims. It’s the young third-generation Muslims in the Western world who have no attachment to the societies they owe their nominal allegiance to. This gives them an identity that the modern, Western, multicultural state, in its late civilizational decline, does not give them that identity.

How much is today’s nihilistic pop culture to blame for ISIS? During the cultural upheaval of 1966 and ’67, when the American left abandoned LBJ’s Great Society and turned against his efforts at fighting communism in Vietnam, the Beatles tossed away their collarless matching Pierre Cardin suits for kaftans, began following the Maharishi, sang “All You Need is Love,” and millions of middle class teenage kids in America, England and Europe aped their gestures, launching the hippie movement. Today though, if you’re an impressionable young middle class follower of contemporary “gangsta rap” music (a phrase so prevalent, I just noticed that Firefox’s spell checker no longer points it out as a typo), then Sug Knight’s alleged homicide(s) seem like small beer, when you can really play Public Enemy on the world’s stage. Why play “the knockout game,” uploading your violent clips to approving Websites such as “WorldStarHipHop,” when you can upload far worse violence to YouTube? Why bother working your way through one of Marie Harf’s dullsville jobs programs, when you can really get an exciting entry level position?

Besides, as one Daily Beast headline claims, “ISIS: Christians Worse Than Murderers.” There are lots of people on the cultural left who’d agree.

Update: As Steyn told Hewitt, “There’s all kinds of people for whom the evil, the evil of ISIS, is its principle selling point:”

The terror group uploaded a video Thursday of men smashing statues, pulling artifacts from walls and attacking Mosul antiquities with sledgehammers and power tools. To justify their violence, ISIS classified all these representations of man and beast as idols. Some of the irreplaceable works date back to the 7th century B.C.

Why so physical, when there are browser apps today for tossing unwanted cultural and linguistic artifacts down the memory hole?

“Alan Parsons Rejects Roger Waters’ Anti-Israel Riff,” Paul Miller writes at Big Hollywood:

Lana Melman, Director of the Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), arranged an exclusive interview with Parsons and his band’s Israeli bassist, Guy Erez. The conversation, right before their Tel-Aviv performance, challenged Waters’ motives and took the BDS movement to task for “censorship.”

CCFP: Alan, you mentioned bringing people together. And as you for sure know now, there’s the cultural boycott movement which basically wants two main things: to prevent international artists like you [Alan] from coming to Israel and to prevent Israeli artists like you [Guy] from performing abroad. Do you guys see this as a form of censorship at all? And do you think it can have any particular impact on the artistic community?

Parsons: It’s totally censorship, yeah. I mean, people who follow it would be considered succumbing to censorship. But we didn’t. We said we want to do this.

CCFP: You had a lot of pressure. And not even just from activists but also from your fellow musician Roger Waters. How did it feel to be getting that pressure onto yourself and why was it important for you to not listen and to come here?

Parsons: Well, Guy would have killed me to start with.

Erez: If he doesn’t come and visit my country, we have a problem.

Parsons: No, the language of music has nothing to do with the language of politics. I don’t think…  I have no aspiration towards political statements, contrary to what certain musicians do. I don’t think any of the band does, particularly.

Erez, a native Israeli who was discriminated against in the past at an undisclosed European venue, questioned Waters’ motives.

“Instead of saying don’t go here and there and play, if Roger Waters really wanted to be a peaceful person, why won’t you take a group of Israeli kids and Palestinian kids and make a camp of making music together. Use the power of music to put people together. But don’t just say ‘I’m taking a side, don’t share music with the Israeli people,” Erez said. “Why do the Israeli people or any other people have to get punished even though let’s say you disagree with their government? It’s just something I don’t understand how he even puts it together.”

Really? I don’t think Waters’ motives are all that hard to ascertain. But big kudos to Parsons and his bassist for pushing back against them.

Incidentally, I have a review of Alan Parsons’ new book The Art & Science of Music Recording at the PJ Lifestyle blog. If you’re into home music recording, it’s chock-a-block full of valuable tips from a man whose salad days were spent engineering for Pink Floyd and The Beatles.

Alternative headline: Fox News’ selfie-obsessed crazy leftwing uncle in the attic actually says something true:

“Hip-hop has done more damage to black and brown people than racism in the last 10 years,” [Rivera tells the Huffington Post]:

When you find a youngster — a Puerto Rican from the South Bronx or a black kid from Harlem who has succeeded in life other than being the one-tenth of one-tenth of one percent that make it in the music business — that’s been a success in life walking around with his pants around his ass and with visible tattoos.

He continued, taking hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons to task:

I love Russell Simmons, he’s a dear friend of mine. I admire his business acumen. At some point, those guys have to cop to the fact that by encouraging this distinctive culture that is removed from the mainstream, they have encouraged people to be so different from the mainstream that they can’t participate other than, you know, the racks in the garment center and those entry-level jobs.

“I lament it. I really do. I think that it has been very destructive culturally,” Rivera finished.

Not to mention rather outdated — the Last Poets invented the genre in the late 1960s, which was nearly a half century ago, the equivalent today of listening to 1920s crooner Rudy Vallée in 1969.

How Does It Feel?

January 31st, 2015 - 5:28 pm

After discovering a cache of heretofore long-thought lost Bob Dylan acetate recordings from the dawn of his recording career, Jeff Gold of a Website called Record Mecca discovers Michael Crichton’s “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” for himself. Gold writes:

I assumed this would be a big story in the Dylan collecting community, but was astounded at the overwhelming reaction from the mainstream media.  Before writing about the acetates here, I spent a few months documenting and transferring the music with the help of two friends.  When I finally wrote about the discovery in June, I was incredulous when the very next day it showed up on the front page of RollingStone.com.  Even more surprising is that the Rolling Stone writer hadn’t reached out to me, but instead simply paraphrased my blog post.  I know some of the writers there, and it would have been extremely easy for them to have contacted me.  In the past, at the very least Rolling Stone would have a fact checker call to verify all the information.  But in today’s instant media age, they just went with it.  Everybody wants to be the first on a story.

* * * * * * *

A few weeks after the media frenzy died down, it dawned on me–I could have made this whole thing up, and nobody would have been the wiser.  Of course I didn’t; the whole thing is true.  But probably 100 newspapers, websites and magazines for the most part just went with a story on a blog that sounded true.  It does go to show, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet–or in a newspaper.  (Happily, though, you can believe everything you read here.)

As the late Michael Crichton wrote:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Wait’ll Gold discovers the kind of stuff that Rolling Stone really just makes up, assuming nobody will be the wiser.

(Via Small Dead Animals.)

“Founder of German electronic pop group Tangerine Dream which provided soundtracks for Hollywood films and Grand Theft Auto computer games dies aged 70,” the London Daily Mail reports:

Edgar Froese, who founded the pioneering German electronic rock group Tangerine Dream in 1967, has died at 70.

The band said Froese died unexpectedly from the effects of a pulmonary embolism in Vienna on Tuesday.

* * * * * *

The band went on to release more than 100 albums and soundtracks over the years.

It also produced music for Hollywood hits including Tom Cruise’s ‘Risky Business’ as well as the video game ‘Grand Theft Auto V’.

The soundtrack to the 1980 film Thief, which put Michael Mann on the map as a director and served as the prototype for the iconic look and sound of Mann’s Miami Vice TV series a few years later was pretty awesome. In some ways, it was years ahead of its time, as synth rock would go on to became one of the genres of ’80s pop music, as the technology became more advanced, more user-friendly, and more affordable.

Shark Jumped

January 16th, 2015 - 11:30 am

Behold the international healing power of bad ’70s folk music.

“Kerry Brings James Taylor to Serenade French With ‘You’ve Got a Friend,’” the Weekly Standard’s Michael Warren reports. No, I’m not kidding:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Paris Friday in what was billed as a show of solidarity with the French people after terrorists attacked last week. The former Massachusetts senator brought fellow Bay Stater and singer-songwriter James Taylor to sing a slightly off-key rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend” to a Parisian audience. Watch the video below:

No. And you can’t make me. If the New Republic can write film reviews without actually watching the movie, I can snark about this without risking the video of James Taylor singing “a slightly off-key rendition of ‘You’ve Got a Friend’” being seered — seeered! — into my brain.

Picture this: Tom Wolfe is working on his next satiric novel, set in the White House. A French magazine has just had a dozen staffers murdered by Islamic terrorists. The president, who was dubbed by his critics “The World’s Biggest Celebrity” after his 2008 speech to pick up the badly needed electoral college votes of Germany, can’t be bothered to attend the enormous protest rally in Paris in memorial to the slain writers. His Francophile secretary of state can’t be bothered to attend. A week later, the 71 year old Washington lifer whose mind and haircut are trapped in his halcyon youth of Vietnam and the Beatles arrives to pay his respects.

With a folk singer in tow.

Critics would howl that Wolfe has gone senile — that this would never happen in real life. No administration is this cartoonish. Even George Bush, known for his “cowboy diplomacy” wouldn’t have brought a country & western singer armed with a Martin guitar to France.

Of course — it could have been worse. Kerry could have brought Cat Stevens, aka Yusuf Islam, to sing “Peace Train.” Or Jimmy Page and Robert Plant to play “Stairway to Heaven” on acoustic. I wonder if they were Kerry’s first choices?

In his Third Law of Politics, historian Robert Conquest posits that “The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.” This administration, which began with handing out an iPod of Obama’s speeches to the Queen of England and a Staples-style “Reset Button” to Putin really does seem to be the living embodiment of how a conservative would satirize a far left White House, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, look on the bright side. “With this the Boomer era is officially over, making today a wonderful day,” Allahpundit writes.

And speaking of aging boomers — if Lorne Michaels doesn’t jump on this tomorrow night on Saturday Night Live, we’ll know that…no wait, that shark was jumped decades ago. But this sketch does write itself, doesn’t it?

Update: Naturally, Twitter is having loads of fun with Kerry’s stunt:


Plus Senator Blutarsky offers his thoughts on the musical stylings of his esteemed Bay State colleagues.

Nihilism on the Edge of Town

November 21st, 2014 - 1:08 pm

“The temptation is to laugh at Bruce Springsteen and his admirers,” Ryan Cole writes in the Weekly Standard, in “Born to Rant:”

Springsteen embraced the imagery, iconography, and gestures of the genre. He threw on a leather jacket, sculpted his sideburns, and posed broodingly in Corvettes and Cadillacs. Then he name-checked John Steinbeck and Flannery O’Connor, sang of American decay and inequality, and rebuffed Ronald Reagan, whose reelection campaign had the nerve to assume that “Born in the USA”—a gloomy song about a homeless Vietnam veteran dolled up with a misleadingly anthemic chorus and sold with imagery of Springsteen draped in Old Glory—was actually a statement of patriotism. Which is not to say that Sprinssteen isn’t a patriot. It’s just that he articulates progressivism’s brand of national pride: America is noble in theory, nightmarish in reality; cool around the edges, but rotten to the core.

James Wolcott, writing in Vanity Fair, once quipped that it was almost as if Springsteen was “built to rock-critic specifications.” Others, such as Fred Goodman in Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, and Springsteen and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce (1997), have suggested that his career since partnering with Landau has been one long and meticulously plotted public relations exercise to present the Boss as a rock ’n’ roll holy man.

If that’s the case, it has worked: Springsteen has sold and continues to sell millions of albums, and his shtick is catnip to baby boomers. In fact, a standard component of Springsteen hagiography is the breathless recollection of that moment, long ago, when the author, young and searching for truth, first stumbled across the Boss’s magic. For David Brooks, it was February 1975, when he caught a live performance on WMMR in Philadelphia. For David Remnick, it was November 1976, from his perch on the balcony of New York City’s late Palladium. It was heady stuff, no doubt—and it forged four decades of adoration, which often gives the impression that some writers view Bruce Springsteen the same way young boys do, say, Superman.

And yet, despite the comparisons to Elvis Presley, as well as to Chuck Berry, both of whom created music that was an amalgamation of prior American styles, Springsteen’s work is strikingly inorganic. With its fist-pumping chord changes, cluttered arrangements full of guitars, runaway xylophones, and honking saxophones, layered behind his maudlin, over-emoting voice, with its affected “heartland” accent, Springsteen’s music is meticulously processed and choreographed, akin to ersatz rock show tunes conceived by a committee of rock critics and Broadway producers.

Coming of age in the pre-Beatles era in which critics began to treat rock music as Serious High Art, Presley and Chuck Berry viewed themselves as performers. A very different role than the strange working class yet cult-like figure that Bruce proffers, more so to adoring critics, than his fans, the majority of whom simply want to boogie and luxuriate in the hits and those golden memories of seedy small town New Jersey, circa 1975. And as Cole writes, Springsteen offers up endless portraits of working class losers, but little opportunity for transcendence, despite Springsteen’s own staggering achievements:

Springsteen’s songs, in fact, often overlook how dynamic this land truly is: In his telling, untouchable corporations, cruel lawmen, and lawless leaders inevitably block the working folks’ access to the American Dream. You need not turn a blind eye to America’s deficiencies to see how incomplete this picture is, as summed up by “The River,” the title track from Springsteen’s 1980 album. Its young protagonist takes his love down to the aforementioned river and impregnates her. Then comes the shotgun wedding and the union card (I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company / But lately there ain’t been much work on the account of the economy). As Springsteen sings, Man, that was all she wrote. But isn’t the Boss’s success and fortune—he is, after all, the son of a working-class father, as his admirers never tire of pointing out—evidence against the inevitability of his own narrative?

But if Springsteen’s characters pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made something of their lives, they’d be (a) off the dole, (b) America wouldn’t be the 3000 mile-wide hellhole that Springsteen (and Landau’s) ideology demands that it to be and (c) they’d be less likely to vote for whichever Democrat political candidate Springsteen and Landau are plumping for that year. So instead, Bruce is born to run — on a golden treadmill to nowhere. Too bad; those albums from The Wild, The Innocent through Burn in the USA before Springsteen became as, Paul Shaffer’s Don Kirshner would say, “a viable commercial product,” were pretty awesome.

Related: “Despite highest poverty numbers in 50 years, Obama okays illegals to compete for jobs in US.” Sounds like the underpinnings of a great Springsteen song on the plight of the American working man, if only the Boss weren’t completely in the tank for Barry and whatever his political whims are this week.

Plutocrat Millionaires Insult Military Veterans

November 13th, 2014 - 10:07 am

Glenn Reynolds writes:

The thing is, I love Creedence Clearwater Revival, but even in its original form the song Fortunate Son is a big steaming pile of hypocritical horseshit. John Fogerty wrote it after doing one-weekend-a-month Army Reserve duty designed to keep him away from Vietnam. It was the sort of deal a lot of people got, not just “Senator’s sons,” and his bandmate Doug “Cosmo” Clifford – the most underrated drummer of rock’s ascendancy – swung a similar Coast Guard gig.

Meanwhile, Fogerty says he wrote the song as “my confrontation with Richard Nixon,” but in fact Nixon refused the military exemption he was entitled to as a Quaker and served in the Pacific during World War Two.

Basically, whenever lefties go all moralistic, you can be pretty sure they’re being hypocritical. Because that’s just how they rock and roll.

Not to mention that the song is 45 years old, the equivalent of singing Rudy Vallee tunes from the 1920s at Woodstock, or Spanish-American War songs during World War II. But then Rolling Stone morphed into AARP Magazine so slowly, I hardly even noticed.

And while Spingsteen, who sang “Fortunate Son” at the Concert for Valor in DC on Tuesday came from hardscrabble lower-middle class postwar roots, he’s definitely in the One Percent now; as his predilection for $850,000 show horses illustrates.

And where does the aging Democrat Operative with a Shure-58 microphone stand on the actions against ISIS by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning presidential candidate he supported?

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

November 5th, 2014 - 6:56 pm

“AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd on New Zealand murder plot charge,” the BBC reports, in a short, cryptic article:

Mr Rudd, who was born in Australia, will also face charges of possessing the drugs methamphetamine and cannabis, and of threatening to kill.

The musician’s house in Taraunga, on New Zealand’s North Island, was raided on Thursday morning.

AC/DC is due to release a new album later this year.

The band’s [rhythm] guitarist, Malcolm Young, was recently diagnosed with dementia.

The New Zealand-based Website Stuff adds that “According to the charges laid by police, Rudd had tried to get two men killed — their names and that of the intended hitman were all suppressed by the judge.”

Rudd “entered no plea to the charges and will reappear in court in three weeks,” according to Stuff, which notes that “AC/DC has a new album, Rock or Bust, due out on December 2.” With Malcolm and now possibly Rudd on the sidelines, no word yet how that will impact the road warrior group’s tour plans.

Update (11/6/14): “AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd’s charge of attempting to procure murder has been withdrawn,” Stuff is reporting today, though the charges involving possession of methamphetamine and pot remain, along with the change of “threatening to kill,” the Website adds.

“New footage reveals how camera-woman was left stranded on bridge and killed by oncoming train in chaotic scenes ‘after being told to film on tracks without permission,’” the London Daily Mail reports, along with a frightening video taken from inside the locomotive that struck the camerawoman:

These are the shocking final moments before a 27-year-old camera assistant was killed by a freight train on the set of the biographical film ‘Midnight Rider’.

The footage, captured on a camera mounted inside the CSX locomotive, shows Sarah Jones and other crew members trying to flee from the railroad bridge they were filming at in southeast Georgia.

But while they and stars, including William Hurt and Wyatt Russell, were running for their lives, the metal bed that was being used as a prop in the movie was still lying across the track.

Seconds later, the bed was struck by the train, killing Miss Jones, who was in her first day of shooting on the film about the Allman Brothers Band singer, Gregg Allman. Six other workers were injured.

* * * * * * * * *

Others could be seen holding their hands over their ears to block out the deafening sound, while some were captured desperately clinging on to the sides of the bridge.

Three seconds on, the train smashed into the bed, which workers had not been able to move off the track in time, turning it into a ‘deadly weapon’ that ‘pushed’ Miss Jones into the vehicle.

Speaking to the program, hairstylist Joyce Gilliard, who suffered an arm injury in the crash, said those involved in the shoot had been told that if a train comes, ‘you have 60 seconds to get off the track’.

Scroll down the article for a photo of the email that a CSX representative sent the film crew denying the railroad’s permission to shoot on their property, and suggesting they contact a nearby shortline railroad instead. “Miss Gilliard, who is also suing Miller and others involved in the shooting added: ‘They wanted to get the shot, so whatever it took to get the shot is what they did,” the Daily Mail adds on the incident, which eerily echoes the death of veteran actor Vic Morrow on the set of the 1983Twilight Zone movie.

This is your official warning: make certain you are not in the process of consuming any beverage before clicking on the link below. For Halloween, Mark Steyn crosses the streams and sings Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever,” in swingin’ Sinatra style.

No, really.

The Sex Pistols’ Christmas Party!

October 25th, 2014 - 1:05 pm

Yesterday we linked to this train wreck:

But the real life Sex Pistols’ Christmas Party sounds like much more fun:

On Christmas Day, 1977, the Pistols quietly organized a benefit gig for the Fire Brigade Union. This was done as surreptitiously as possible, for if the council discovered the Pistols were playing (especially on the Lord’s birthday), the venue would be closed immediately. Two shows were arranged at Ivanhoe’s club: the first was a matinee for the children, at which cake, food, presents were distributed by the band, as John Lydon later said:

”Huddersfield I remember very fondly. Two concerts, a matinee with children throwing pies at me, and later on that night, striking union members. It was heaven. There was a lot of love in the house. It was great that day, everything about it. Just wonderful.”

While drummer Paul Cook recalled:

”It was like our Christmas party really. We remember everyone being really relaxed that day, everyone was getting on really well, everyone was in such a great mood because it was a benefit for the kids of firemen who were on strike at that time, who had been on strike for a long time.”

No word yet if the Pistols took Martha Stewart’s advice and served “Spinach Ricotta Skulls (a classically punk motif) alongside a bowl of Spinach, Bacon, and Onion Dip (for ‘noshing’).” British punkers were notorious for “gobbing” — did they nosh as well?

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

Somewhere, Sid Vicious Weeps

October 24th, 2014 - 3:40 pm

But who will bring the heroin, social diseases and the infections from DIY piercings?

Ultimate hell: a Martha Stewart-planned Microsoft Windows Installation Party, unless careful editing is applied:

Hypocrisy Never Sleeps

October 14th, 2014 - 7:23 pm

“Neil Young: Forget ISIS, Fight Climate Change Instead,” as spotted by  Joel Pollak at Big Hollywood:

YOUNG: The things that we don’t know, you know, we can do little things to fight climate change. And yet our army and our armed forces are the biggest CO2 providers into the world, they just…it’s amazing. And yet we are fighting what? ISIS…

HOWARD STERN: What do you think about that?

YOUNG: …al-Qaeda. And we are fighting these wars against these organizations and their carbon footprint has got to be like 1% of our huge army and our navy and all of this stuff that have with all our big machines. We’re doing more damage to the earth with our wars.

If “we can do little things to fight climate change,” here’s a great place to start:

Neil has his own private P.A and a Yamaha mixer. He has a separate microphone that’s not connected to the house for each amp, and he can mix these to any level he wants. He mainly hears Deluxe, a lot of Baldwin, and very little Magnatone. Out front and on record, you can hear mostly Deluxe and Magnatone. Inside the big speaker cabinet to the audience’s right are 2 two-way Maryland Sound P.A. cabinets with 2 15s and a horn apiece. These cabinets have 2000 watts of biamped power, and gets turned excruciatingly loud. It just kills me to go out there-I just about get knocked over. And that’s what Neils hearing. This produces the feedback, and if we didn’t have that on, the sound wouldn’t be the same.

If the situation is so dire that it’s necessary to fight the weather rather than Islamofascist headchoppers, doesn’t Neil need to set the pace, retire from touring and shrink his own carbon footprint down to the smallest number possible? Perhaps order his record company to voluntarily stop printing his CDs, and withdrawing his mp3s from Amazon.com and iTunes? I would be more inclined to believe global warming is a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start to act like it’s a crisis themselves, to coin an Insta-phrase.

Besides, didn’t we all see this movie before, a decade ago? “It’s a peculiar thing that as the threat of global terrorism reaches a crescendo, so apparently does the threat of global warming — at least that’s what some would have us believe…”