Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dick Cheney, won’t you please…slink home…

From the talented MJS at CorrenteWire:

Won’t You Slink Home, Dick Cheney
(sung to the tune Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey)

Won’t you slink home, Dick Cheney, won’t you slink home
I’ve groaned the whole week long
I’ll do the huntin’, honey, I’ll shoot the guests
I even wrote this song

You remember that Sunday talk show
I turned you off…my remote control fingers roam
Yeah, I know you’re insane, but…never to blame
Dick Cheney, won’t you please slink home

Won’t you slink home, Dick Cheney, won’t you slink home
Before they blow you up
I’ll check the mail box, baby, I’ll guard the gate
Let me be your King Kong

You’ve spoken some funny things, sir
I wrote them down, with nothing but a PC loaned
I know you’re insane, now…a lizard brain
Dick Cheney, won’t you please slink home

Won’t you slink home, Dick Cheney, won’t you slink home
I’ve groaned the whole week long
I’ll do the huntin’, honey, I’ll shoot the guests
I even wrote this song

You remember that Sunday talk show
I turned you off…my remote control fingers roam
Yeah, I know you’re insane, but…never to blame
Dick Cheney, won’t you please slink home

Won’t you slink home, Dick Cheney, won’t you slink home
Before they blow you up
I’ll check the mail box, baby, I’ll guard the gate
Let me be your King Kong

You’ve spoken some funny things, sir
I wrote them down, with nothing but a PC loaned
I know you’re insane, now…a lizard brain
Dick Cheney, won’t you please slink home

I said now, hide but you can’t run
Dick Cheney, won’t you please…slink home…


Crossposted at Mortaljive.


Note: Video has nothing to do with the lyrics, it's just very cool.

I love rock'n'roll, put another dime in the jukebox, baby

We report, you decide.

Original version:

Best known version (in color!):

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm gonna sing it to my friends

Because it's just too good to resist, a ten year old Billy Preston on Nat King Cole's show:

note: embedding disallowed. clicking on picture will take you to youtube

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel

My friend Scott Cutler, late of the bands Ednaswap, and Annetenna, is up for an Oscar:

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”
(Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
Music and Lyric by Melissa Etheridge

Listen” from “Dreamgirls”
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger and Scott Cutler
Lyric by Anne Preven

Love You I Do” from “Dreamgirls”
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger
Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Our Town” from “Cars”
(Buena Vista)
Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Patience” from “Dreamgirls”
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger
Lyric by Willie Reale

I hope he wins. But if Melissa's song wins, that's OK too.

But still, I hope Scott wins.

In case you don't remember, Scott and Anne Preven wrote "Torn":

Saturday, February 24, 2007

'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt. 2

In the first installment of:

"Great Guitarists That You Probably Have Forgotten"

I give you Rory Gallagher, live, "Old Grey Whistle Test", 1970:


As darkblack points out, probably '73 or so. Thanks!

it's just a recipe for hate

No matter how hard wingnuts try to play like grownups, they will always poke you in the eye:
No, Joe is a classic liberal – perhaps the last of what used to be called the internationalist wing of the Democratic party. Strong on national defense, friendly to unions, generous to the welfare state, but an overall belief in the goodness of America and a supporter of an activist foreign policy.

They’re mostly gone now. The Humphreys, the Nunns, the Bentsens. Like Lieberman, they shared an abiding faith that America should stand against the bullies, the thugs, and even a nuclear armed superpower to promote freedom around the world. Also like Lieberman, they were courtly in manner, generous to their foes, reasonable in debate, and when push came to shove, supported Republican Presidents when they sent our military into harms way.


Except when Democrats "stand against bullies, the thugs..." as Glenn Greenwald documents here:

GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, speech on the Senate floor October 6, 1993

I supported our original mission, which was humanitarian in nature and limited in scope. I can no longer support a continued United States presence in Somalia because the nature of the mission is now unrealistic...

GOP Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, speech on the Senate floor, October 6, 1993

Mr. President, the mission is accomplished in Somalia. The humanitarian aid has been delivered to those who were starving. The mission is not nation building, which is what now is being foisted upon the American people.

GOP Sen. Jesse Helms, Senate floor speech October 6, 1993:

All of which means that I support the able Senator from West Virginia--who, by the way, was born in North Carolina--Senator Robert C. Byrd, and others in efforts to bring an end to this tragic situation. The United States did its best to deliver aid and assistance to the victims of chaos in Somalia as promised by George Bush last December.

But now we find ourselves involved there in a brutal war, in an urban environment...

Obviously, when Republicans criticize military action and troop deployment, is 'supports the troops' and doesn't 'embolden the enemy'.

And then there's this part:
courtly in manner, generous to their foes, reasonable in debate

Um kay. Like these folks:

Republican Representative Jim Gibbons of Nevada viciously attacked liberals, holding himself out as a true patriot and morally superior to us liberals - with a speech stolen from Republican hate-monger Beth Chapman - at the annual Linclon Day Dinner.

None of the news reports mentions whether or not Mr. Gibbons borrowed the president's wireless earpiece so that an aid could feed him the speech from a backroom.

Here's the news report of the speech by the Elko Daily Free Press:

Gibbons rallies GOP
By DAVE WOODSON - Staff Writer
February 28th, 2005

ELKO - Patriotic spirits soared as Elko's Grand Old Party had a grand old party Friday night at its annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

The fervor was whipped up by a fiery speech by Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., during which he passionately proclaimed his heartfelt support for troops waging the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan and voiced blistering contempt for certain celebrities for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Gibbons said he was dedicating his remarks to the "brave young men and women who are serving on the front lines" in what he termed World War III. ...

He said Lincoln understood better than most that unity and solidarity "best comes from dogged adherence to the Constitution and defense of liberty."...

"We are all here tonight because men and women of the United States military have given their lives for our freedom," Gibbons continued. "We are here tonight not because of Rosie O'Donnell, Martin Sheen, George Clooney, Jane Fonda or Phil Donahue - they never sacrificed their lives for us or for liberty."...

"I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else," Gibbons said to another burst of applause.

Gibbons brought the crowd to near feverish pitch when he hit the hot button issue of abortion.

"I want to know how these very people who are against war because of loss of life can possibly be the same people who are for abortion?" Gibbons said. "They are the same people who are for animal rights, but they are not for the rights of the unborn."

He said that they are the same people who wanted to go to Iraq and become human shields for the enemy.

"I say it's just too damn bad we didn't buy them a ticket," Gibbons said.

Laughter rippled through the room, mingled with more applause.

Yep. There's reasonable debate. And remember this guy?

On Tuesday, Cheney, serving in his role as president of the Senate, appeared in the chamber for a photo session. A chance meeting with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, became an argument about Cheney's ties to Halliburton Co., an international energy services corporation, and President Bush's judicial nominees. The exchange ended when Cheney offered some crass advice.

"F*** yourself," said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency.

That's pretty generous.

Hypocritical bastards.

'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings

My good friend Patrick pointed me toward this, and now I see other folks have joined in the laughs:
Welcome to Conservapedia

A conservative encyclopedia you can trust.

Conservapedia has over 3,400 educational, clean and concise entries on historical, scientific, legal, and economic topics, as well as more than 350 lectures and term lists. There have been over 252,000 page views and over 14,800 page edits. Already Conservapedia has become one of the largest user-controlled free encyclopedias on the internet. This site is growing rapidly.

Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. On Wikipedia, many of the dates are provided in the anti-Christian "C.E." instead of "A.D.", which Conservapedia uses. Christianity receives no credit for the great advances and discoveries it inspired, such as those of the Renaissance. Read a list of many Examples of Bias in Wikipedia.
Um, yeah.

Some other friends of ours, like skippy, have taken a few quick and easy shots at it.

But heres' what I find interesting. I did some searches for what I would think were conservatarian icons. Like Pat Buchanan:
There is no page titled "Pat Buchanan". You can create this page.

Wait, it gets better. Here are more responses to searches:
There is no page titled "condaleeza rice". You can create this page.

There is no page titled "george will". You can create this page.

There is no page titled "john ashcroft". You can create this page.

There is no page titled "newt gingrich". You can create this page.

But here's the best part of all:
There is no page titled "george w bush". You can create this page.

Cause, they've been real busy . . . and . . .and...and...I dunno.

In all fairness, there is a George W. Bush page, because case insensitive searches are just tooooo hard, even though at Wikipedia, such searches work all the time, because George W Bush is the same as george w bush.

But here a special treat, searched for in both lower case and first letter caps:
There is no page titled "Donald Rumsfeld". You can create this page.

And just to seal the deal, here's this:
There is no page titled "Bill O'Reilly". You can create this page.
Bwa haa haa!

Friday, February 23, 2007

I read the news today, oh boy

Lots of noise lately about TeeVee news, Fox, and an empty shirt press.

Just for reference, here's what real journalism was like, when Walter Cronkite spoke truth to power:

Update: clip corrected.

Honey you, are my shining star

Sometimes, nothing soothes as much as some old school R'n'B.

Shining Star (the Manhattans):

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I'll show you how to walk the dog

Because great music exists, and stands on its own merit.

Rufus Thomas, "Walking The Dog":

The people in this world are getting organized

I screwed up.

I missed a wonderful opportunity to meet yesterday with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il).

Luckily, other folks did meet with the Senator, and here are some reports:

Mark Kleiman:
Well, it turns out that Durbin still has Rwanda on his conscience. He was told that if we didn't send 5000 troops, there would be genocide. He couldn't persuade Bill Clinton (fresh off his humiliation in Mogadishu and its shameless exploitation by the Republicans, including John McCain) to send the 5000 troops. As a result, 800,000 people died.

Dante Atkins:
Senator Durbin says that the priority of the Senate on Iraq is to come up with a consensus amendment that will get as close to 49 Democratic votes as possible (counting on the fact that Joe Lieberman will never vote for anything having to do with ending Iraq. Durbin also likes Jack Murtha's idea of tying troop deployments to readiness, and he expects that will have the effect of making it look like the Republicans are eager to send ill-equipped troops into combat zones.

Durbin supports the Dodd-Menendez bill to restore habeas corpus, and called those who ramrodded the bankruptcy bill through the Senate "heartless bastards." You read that right. He did seem willing to put together bills that may fail for the purposes of getting vulnerable Republicans on the record about various issues. This is how habeas and bankruptcy may go, trying to throw wedges in to split the Republicans (and certain Democrats as well, on those bills).

Martini Republic:
He says his office has a good relationship with Senator Lieberman’s office, and that they “don’t spend time worrying about” Lieberman.

He also said he would like to see Obama as the nominee, and that whatever happened as a result of his candidacy would be good for the Democratic party. He compared his state’s junior Senator to Bobby Kennedy, “Eugene McCarthy and Howard Dean defined the anti-war movement, but Kennedy widened the circle, and Obama’s like that.”

So, very nice reporting by those folks.

All this supports the contention that the bloggersphere, esp. on the left, is becoming a force, a 'thing' that matters. Otherwise folks like the Senator wouldn't bother.

But by asking to meet with folks, Sen. Durbin doesn't give us credibility, he instead realizes that we are credible commenters on the issues of the day.

Thanks, bloggers, and thanks, Sen. Durbin.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ev'rybody says it's just like rock'n'roll

Sometimes music soothes.

Sometimes music is deep, thoughtful.

Sometimes music is achingly beautiful.

Sometimes music is just plain ol' fun.

Here's Marc Bolan and T. Rex live, in '74, doing "Jeepster...":

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Now, the man on the stand he wants my vote

No one I know takes voting rights more seriously than Brad Friedman, at the BradBlog. He is completely committed to fair voting & vote counting. He working to root out corruption and conflict of interest in those working to push touch-screen and hackable computer systems on us, for their own profit or to support a Right-Wing agenda.

Brad is having a little fund raiser:
Finally back at the anchor desk of The BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters after three (unexpected) weeks taking my dog and pony show on the road. Upon my return: a total of two cash dollars in the Snail Mail PO Box --- for which I am eternally grateful.

But even during the time I was away, we managed to bring you first-hand exclusive eyewitness reporting from the courtroom of the Scooter Libby/CIA Leak Trial in DC by Margie Burns, an important continuing investigative series you'll find nowhere else on the disastrously compromised EAC by Michael Richardson, the latest daily developments in our crumbling Electoral System saga as brought to you by John Gideon, insightful Video Snippets on a number of broader topics by Alan Breslauer, Guest Blogs from important newsmakers, and yes, I did my best to keep up, managing to edit, file my own exclusives, and work behind the scenes on all of the above even while making public appearances around Arizona and California, Guest Hosting radio broadcasts and working the phones endlessly to both dig and try to move mountains while barreling down the highways and byways at 80 mph.

Seriously, Brad is that good, and that important. He's doing work no one else seems to be doing, and his work is increasingly getting more and more notice from TV & radio pundits.

If you can, show him a little love each month. We did.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Gimme the prize, just gimme the prize

Be it known:

For misleading us in to War;

For mistreating our country's resources;

For abusing our country's military personnel;

For rewarding the wealthy beyond their wildest dreams;

And finally, for never saying he is sorry.

Be it hereby resolved, that George W. Bush is today's winner of the Golden Douche Award:

Graphic by the lovely and talented DarkBlack

They're coming to take me away, ha ha

I use Statcounter to monitor 'hits' and to see what deviants are actually reading my blog. This one seems pretty appropriate (note the ISP [Internet Service Provider]):

Magnify User (SteveAudio) 19th February 2007

Referring Link
Host Name
IP Address
Country United Kingdom
Region England
City London
ISP Institute Of Psychiatry
Returning Visits 3
Visit Length 0 seconds
Browser MSIE 6.0
Operating System Windows 2000
Resolution 1280x1024
Javascript Enabled
Oh, and thanks, John (C&L), for sending the folks in white coats after me.

one thing you can't hide, is when you're crippled inside

In Presidential medical news today:
Two moles President Bush had removed from his face Friday were benign, White House spokesman Alex Conant said Saturday.

And in zoo-political medical news from Raw Story via Sailor @ VidiotSpeak (not to be confused with the faux-erudite racist creep Sailer @

Moles Say Bush Is Not Benign

After outing CIA undercover Iran WMD expert Valerie Plame, CIA moles fear that Bush will also have them removed for political payback!

Indeed. No word if there's been a successful removal of the finger from the nose yet. Early reports are not encouraging.

Update: To all visitors from Crooks and Liars, thanks for stopping by, and please, hit the "Home" button below to see some of my other posts.



Have I said too much?

There's a new award show coming this season, not long after the Academy Awards:
The Golden Douchebag Awards.

One of the nominees is my favorite whipping boy Rick Moran, who starts off, as usual with the bait:
Yes she has a gazillion dollars. And yes she’s one of the most famous people on the planet. But from what I can tell of Britney Spears, she is also a human being in great pain and in danger of falling down a deep, dark hole from which it is very difficult to see the light.

. . . Despite what Drudge and others are referring to as a “cry for help,” I can tell you that Spears’ actions are no such thing. I have been in the dark place that Spears now finds herself. I have been where she is – looking up the huge mountain she must climb to get her life back from addiction and saying to yourself, “I can’t do it. It’s too hard.”

Wow! How empathic, how sensitive, how bleeding heart liberal...

But No! For there must be a political point to everything, no matter how perverted te process to manufacture. Witness this switch:

We are drenched in celebrity, drunk with it really. And the louder we complain about it, the more obsessed we become. This is what drives the “weevils” of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff – the writhing mass of photographers and reporters who hung on every word and with popping bulbs and clicking cameras, catalogued every action of the Mercury astronauts for the American public.

And their handsome, photogenic boss – President John F. Kennedy – did nothing to discourage the weevils from giving he and his family the same treatment. If the celebrity culture has a granddaddy, it was JFK who rightly believed he could capture the American people’s obsession with Hollywood stars and graft it on to the White House, using it to his own political advantage.

Right. It's all JFK's fault. And no right-winger ever used the press, no Nixon, no William Randolph Hearst, no Rupert Murdoch.

And no tragedy ever occurs, that is not the fault of Liberals.

Dude, that's not logic. That's OCD. That's not sympathy, that's an agenda to lash out and hurt and inflict harm, using someone else's pain.

Please, seek treatment. Now.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I'm looking through you

While the Republican candidates for President on '08 mill around trying to establish an identity, there's one who already has one, and is proud to share it with Fox News:
The House OKs its non-binding resolution opposing the president's Iraq War plan. Now what?

We will speak with Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House

In cas anyone has forgotten, that's this Newt (from wikipedia):
As a co-author of the 1994 Contract with America, Gingrich was in the forefront of the Republican Party's dramatic success in the 1994 Congressional elections and subsequently was elected Speaker. Gingrich's leadership in Congress was marked by opposition to many of the policies of the Clinton Administration, culminating in the impeachment of President Clinton shortly after Gingrich resigned as Speaker (the House was technically leaderless at this time, as Gingrich's chosen successor Robert Livingston of Louisiana also stepped down before he could be elected Speaker). After resigning his seat under pressure from several sides, Gingrich has maintained a career as a political analyst and consultant and continues to write works related to government and other subjects, such as historical fiction. He has expressed interest in being a candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination for the Presidency.

Sounds OK so far. Let's dig a little deeper. Why, as mentioned above, did he resign as Speaker?

The Republicans expected big gains from the 1998 Congressional elections. In fact, Gingrich predicted a 30-seat Republican pickup.[citation needed] Instead, the Republicans lost five seats, the poorest results in 64 years for any party not in control of the White House in a midterm election. Having led the GOP to focus on the impeachment project as a principal strategy, Gingrich took most of the blame for the defeat. Facing a rebellion in the Republican caucus, he announced on November 6 that he would not only stand down as Speaker, but would leave the House as well. He had been elected to an 11th term in that election, but declined to take his seat. According to Newsweek, he had lost control over his caucus long before the election, and it was possible that he would not have been reelected as Speaker in any case.[14]

Gingrich's role as master GOP strategist ended with his departure from the House, but his legacy in Republican leadership remains.

That last sentence says a great deal. A fallen master GOP strategist, yet a Republican leader. "There's no success like failure". He put all his eggs in the impeachment basket, when polling at the time said the American public was against that. Sound familiar, George?

Here's Newt's background on family values:
It was the third marriage for Gingrich, 57, and the first for his 34-year-old bride. Gingrich was divorced from his second wife, Marianne, in December 1999 after 18 years of marriage. He divorced his first wife, Jackie, his high school geometry teacher, after 19 years.

So? Well, consider this:
Gingrich has been married three times. In 1962, Gingrich married, Jackie Battley, with whom he had two daughters. He left Battley in the spring of 1980; moreover, he finalized the divorce details while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery in the fall of 1980. Gingrich married his second wife, Marianne Ginther, in the fall of 1981. [4] They divorced in 1999 amid rumors Gingrich was having an affair. A year later, he married the alleged subject of his affair, a House aide 23 years his junior [5] named Callista Bisek. [6]

Nice. So on top of failed strategist, we have a heartless bastard (IMHO).

Here's more on his ethics:

Gingrich was accused of hypocrisy and unethical behavior when he accepted a $4.5 million advance as part of a book deal, in light of his previous role in the investigation of Jim Wright. Following the accusations, Gingrich returned the advance.

Including charges related to the book deal, Democrats filed 84 ethics charges against Speaker Gingrich during his term, including claiming tax-exempt status for a college course run for political purposes and using the GOPAC political action committee as a slush fund; see Joseph Gaylord. All charges were eventually dropped following an investigation by the Republican-led House Ethics Committee. However, Gingrich admitted to unintentionally giving inaccurate information to the House Ethics Committee during the course of the investigation. The committee did not indict him on charges of intentional perjury.[11] The matter was settled when he agreed to reimburse the Committee $300,000 for the cost of prolonging the investigation. The payment was described as a "cost assessment" and not a fine by the Committee.[12] He also agreed to not "spin" the story in the media, but admit publicly to his transgressions.

Heck, just go read the whole wikipedia, and all the cites at the bottom. And then wonder at a Party that considers Newt a viable leader.

Oh wait: Nixon. Kissinger. GWBush.

Never mind.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dear Mr. President, you'd never take a walk with me, would you?

Let me be the first to wish you a happy President's Day.

I sure wish we had one.

One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch girl

My friend Eric has a new band:
We are One Bad Apple, spoiling bunches of crowds gathered in peacable assemblage to enjoy some unique and catchy kick ass tunes. One Bad Apple is a rock band originally from Los Angeles, but now touring the known universe. Accepting bookings for the unknown universe. Check out the calendar for upcoming gigs, and go to our official website to catch an almost freakin free copy of our CD. That's right. Almost. Freakin. Free.

Cool. Thing is, they use this logo of a fruit. No, not that kind of fruit. The kind that you can eat. No, wait, what I meant to say is, the kind of fruit that grows on trees:

And I think I've seen something like that before, from some two-bit music publishing company in the UK.

But never fear, Eric's band sounds great, and they'll be international superstars in no time. You heard it here first.

In fact, here's a slide show of them at a gig in L.A.:

Give me down to there hair

From KABC Channel 7, L.A.'s ABC affiliate:
Britney Spears is back in the U.S., and she's sporting a brand new look.

As Pam says, "It's not good when idiots reproduce".

Friday, February 16, 2007

And the ones that run this land, will help the poor and common man

Borrowed from Devilstower at DailyKos, printed in its entirety, because it's just that good:

Otto considered moving his family from Europe as early as 1938, but he didn't get serious until the spring of 1941. That's when Otto began working every angle he could -- contacting officials, friends, and relatives -- looking with increasing frustration and fear for some place his family could go. But things had changed by 1941, and leaving Europe was much more difficult. Otto kept trying, writing letters right up until Germany declared war on the United States. Less than a year later Otto, his wife Edith, and his two young daughters were forced into hiding.

The desperation of Otto's search for escape was recently revealed in letters that turned up in an archive in New York. The heartbreaking documents show that he had even managed to secure a single visa -- for Cuba -- before the German government closed the door. But perhaps the most sobering aspect of these letters is that it wasn't just a tale of vicious Nazis holding in those they intended to exterminate. By 1941, it wasn't just the Germans who had restricted travel. The U.S. had also placed limits on immigration from Europe.

But immigration rules were changing under the Nazi regime and in the U.S. There were nearly 300,000 people on a waiting list for a U.S. immigration visa.

What was going on in America? Fear. With the economy still struggling back from the depths of the Great Depression, and stirrings of possible war on two fronts, fear was at the center of American policy. Fear of outsiders. Of the other. And a president we all respect for his leadership both at home and in war was at the center of these restrictions.

Due in part to anti-Semitism, isolationism, the Depression, and xenophobia; the immigration policy of the Roosevelt Administration made it very difficult for refugees to obtain entry visas.

With congress still unwilling to make any serious attempt at blocking the escalation in Iraq, the next great issue to hit the floor is likely to be immigration. Just as in 1941, the United States faces its own fears when it talks of immigration: fear that outsiders will come in to steal our jobs, fear that a flood of people from Central and South America will alter the makeup and nature of American culture, fear that among those who cross our borders are those who want to do us harm.

At the far right of this issue are organizations like the "Minutemen" and congressmen like Republican presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo who want to slam shut the gates. They want to impose draconian measures against illegal immigration, and at the same time drastically reduce legal immigration. A good part of this is plain and simple racism. Yes, it can be couched in economic terms, but bigotry is always posed as protecting the status quo -- our families, our "traditions," our jobs -- against some menace. No matter how you draw it, it's ugly. These people are thrilled by a drop in border crossings achieved by patrolling the southern border with National Guard troops and building triple fences. They're thrilled to see the United States ringed by motion sensors, cameras, razor wire, and helicopter patrols. Of course, they'd be more thrilled if, as Tancredo and his fellow conservatives insist, millions of immigrants already in the country were rounded up and marched to the other side of those shiny new fences.

In a position supposedly more moderate is George W. Bush, who has frequently called for a program of guest workers to allow immigrants access to jobs in the U.S., but not allow them to become citizens.

This program would match willing foreign workers with willing American employers for jobs Americans are not doing.

Those final words in the statement are the lynchpin of the "guest worker" argument. In every discussion, it quickly comes down to "we must have these workers, because there are jobs Americans are not willing to do." Sadly, a number of Democratic senators and congressmen seem to be in support of this idea.

There were plenty of Big Lies being sold in 1941. If there is a Big Lie at the heart of immigration debate in 2007, this is it. There are no jobs Americans are unwilling to do. Americans go down into underground mines day after long dark day. Americans work ankle deep in the blood in slaughterhouses, and waist-deep in the effluvia of sewers. They sweat on road crews and in tobacco fields. There is no job too hard for an American worker. The guest worker argument is merely a means to extend what's already happening: the misuse and mistreatment of immigrant workers as a way of reducing the average wage paid to Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder. While companies are skimping on what they pay out, these labor savings are not being passed on in lower prices.

You might assume that the plentiful supply of low-wage illegal workers would translate into significantly lower prices for the goods and services they produce. In fact, their impact on consumer prices — call it the "illegal-worker discount" — is surprisingly small.

Where construction companies are able to staff their work force with illegal immigrants, the wages paid to construction workers are lower -- but not home prices. The low wages that go to farm workers do not mean lower prices at the grocery, even on items where labor costs are the highest. The argument that without these low cost workers prices would soar, is a lie promulgated by those employers dodging wages, benefits, and the law.

The current system between illegal immigrants and the companies that hire them is not unlike that on an antebellum plantation. Workers can't complain for fear of punishment and expulsion. Employers can extract toil without worry of how they treat or pay their employees. Adding a guest worker program might change the current system from slavery to share-cropping, but that is not an admirable goal and shouldn't be desired by any but those who seek a way to continue their exploitation while ending their legal risk.

If there are truly more jobs available than Americans to fill them, there is only one solution -- make more Americans. Raise the limits on immigration. Ease the paperwork needed to get into the country. Eliminate the family prisons where even those applying for political asylum are held. Don't expend America's energy worrying about how to keep people out. Expend it making sure that immigrants get in, and that they get jobs with the protections and pay they deserve as American citizens.

In 1941, the doors of America were closed by fear. If they had not been, then Otto Franks's daughter, Anne Frank, might be a 77-year old woman living in America today. Her skill with words might have made her an honored author now approaching the end of a long, successful career. She could have been a beacon for America's openness, rather than a poignant lesson on what happens when nations are run by fear. Who knows how many such talents are being held out of our country today?

The price we pay for apples at the store may not reflect the low wages paid out to immigrant workers, but the price we pay as a nation for our xenophobia is incalculable.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why do birds sing so gay

I've written here before about talent, how it's an endowment that can be honed, but it's not something that can be taught.

And I've also written that talent requires a kind of confidence that can sometimes seem naive, but yet crystal clear; the kind of confidence that makes one sure one must follow one's muse.

Last week, while looking for videos to memorialize the great Frankie Laine's passing, I came across this video. It's Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers bantering with Franlie Laine on his TYV show, then lip synching "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?".

As you watch it, realize this was 1956, and the young Frankie was 13 freakin' years old!

The group was probably the first racially mixed group to make it in the unexplored territories of the new world of rock'n'roll.

And also realize how screwed up things were back then, in the wonderful '50s that seem so nostalgic to revisionist conservatives (from the wikipedia):
On a July 19, 1957 episode of Freed's live ABC TV show The Big Beat, Lymon began dancing with a white teenage girl while performing. His actions caused a scandal, particularly among Southern TV station owners, and The Big Beat was subsequently canceled.

Sing me songs, make me laugh, entertain me, but don't touch my daughter.


Killing me softly with his song

From the "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" department of faulty logic:

I say to you that whether you believe this war to be moral or immoral, the actions of the Democratic leadership in deliberately drawing out our withdrawal because they lack the political courage to take a stand on what they believe and cut off all funding for the Iraq War to bring the troops home now constitutes a towering act of moral cowardice rarely seen in Congress. Perhaps the debates over the Dyers Anti-Lynching Bill of 1918 would find an echo in today’s craven attempts by Democrats at avoiding responsibility for the moral consequences of their loudly proclaimed position on the war.

Instead of leadership, we get glitz and smoke and mirrors. Instead of a sober, serious approach to this issue of life and death, war and peace, we get the circus of a meaningless, degrading resolution that states opposition to sending more troops. And instead of bold, clear cut, up or down votes on whether we should stay or go, it appears we are going to get the tactics of the saboteur and assassin; cowardly end runs that seek to undermine the military in ways that even an enemy of this country could only dream

Right, Rick.

So we're cowards because we didn't support your masturbatory fantasy of war, in Iraq.

Yet we're cowards because we don't immediately bring the troops home.

And if we did immediately bring the troops home we would be traitors.

You're an idiot.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

We got to get outa this place

John Kerry does something really smart:

Dorian Gray, just for a day...

From the Sailor and the gang of Vidiots over at VidiotSpeak, we hear that they have 2 new writers on staff:
Please note that VidiotSpeak has 2 new authors. We are very proud to announce that our life, politics and international correspondent is oscar wilde and our life, politics and veteran's affairs correspondent is Bill Arnett.

While we have no knowledge of Mr Arnett, we assume that he is articulate, erudite, and full'o'hell.

However, we had no idea that mr. wilde was still writing, his absence from the world stage since 1900 had us lulled into thinking that he was deceased. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that he was still writing great works. Perhaps he'll tell us more about his friend Earnest.

Monday, February 12, 2007

They say time heals everything, but I'm still waiting

Well, the Grammys are over, and some folks I have worked with won some gold, including Gnarls Barkley and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But some folks I haven't worked with won big time: The Dixie Chicks. John Amato at Crooks & Liars has this:

Congratulations to the Dixie Chicks for winning the Grammy for Record of the Year. Good to see Joan Baez up there…


video_wmv Download (529) | Play (400) video_mov Download (365) | Play (231)

And this from the AP via Huffington Post:
I, for the first time in my life, am speechless," said Maines, who became a controversial figure in 2003 after making critical comments about President Bush. "Not Ready to Make Nice" was a response to the controversy; after Maines' comments, the Chicks' songs were pulled from a number of country music stations and the group was pilloried by former fans.

The Chicks have won three awards. They also won best country performance by a duo or group with vocal and, after the song of the year award, were honored with best country album for "Taking the Long Way."

Indeed. Thing is, there were some pretty ugly comments at both places, about process and conclusion, including a few of the following:
I pay entertainers to entertain, not to spout political views, either right or wrong, oops, I mean left.

My suggestion: don't listen.

And this:
Let's be real here: They beat Justin Timberlake! The Grammys are a joke they mostly promote popular crap music. They waited 30 years to give an award Bob Dylan, for god's sake! And they'd give an award to U2 even if they released an album of farts.

As for the Dixie Chicks. They are relatively good considering the country genre is the most pathetic along with rap.

Let's be honest, the Grammy's are kind of a joke. The Black Eyed Peas won for "My Humps". Come on!
They haven't meant much for a long time! If they were truly rewarding artistry, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, etc. would be winning every year they have an album out.

I have to comment, since this is something I know a little about.

First, I am, and have been, a voting member of the Recording Academy for many years. Yes, the awards tend to be conservative, but that's because of the process. And it's based on who shows up at nominating meetings at various Chapters of the Academy.

Periodically, during the year, a group of insiders in every Chapter meet and "spin some wax" as the kidz used to say. It's a chance for people to share new music with peers. And people don't tout their own productions, that is really not cool. So they get together at a studio, and play tracks from CDs that they think other people haven't heard yet. Why? Because this year, everyone heard the Mary J. Blige CD. And everyone heard the John Mayer CDs. But far fewer folks heard Imogen Heap.

Yes, the radio playlist system is corrupt, there's nothing new there. Like all forms of political corruption, it will stop the minute people take it seriously.

Most of the folks I know deeply involved with the Recording Academy are indeed pretty conservative musically, and thus tend to recommend and vote for conservative artists. Partially, I think, this is because the less conservative musicians feel they might not make a difference, or that they're "too hip" to be bothered. But this year, The Dixie Chicks played spoilers. I haven't talked with many other music business insiders, but for me, the decision to vote for them was 20% political, 80% artistic.

They're just that good.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

It's the time of the season

From the Let's Stop Beating Around The Bush Department, in Newsweek today, we have Anna Quindlen's editorial:
Tomorrow. That's when the United States should begin to bring combat forces home from Iraq. Today would be a better option, but already it's tomorrow in Baghdad, in the Green Zone fortress Americans have built in the center of the city, out in the streets where IEDs are lying in wait for passing soldiers and every marketplace may be the endgame for a suicide bomber.

The course of this war has been a consistent scene of carnage with ever-changing underpinnings. Uncover weapons of mass destruction, lay hands on Saddam Hussein, oversee elections, teach the Iraqis to police themselves. Bring stability to the region. The last has been an illusion. Over the last year many Americans have finally realized how thoroughly they were sold a bill of goods. The picture of the peaceable kingdom painted by the Bush administration nearly four years ago was that of a country, riven by religious and ethnic violence for centuries, suddenly turned into the equivalent of a Connecticut suburb: town meetings, friendly neighbors, a common purpose, perhaps a shopping mall.

Nearly four years of photographs and footage of dusty corpses, cinderblock barriers, shredded cars and bereaved families, and the absurdity of that view is absolute.

No one tries to sell that snake oil anymore. Now the party line is that American forces will get out, but they cannot get out now. They cannot get out now because Iraq would become a place of civil war, of untrammeled violence, of complete chaos.

Iraq has been a place of civil war, untrammeled violence, complete chaos for a long time now. American intervention has not made that better. It has made it worse.

Get out now. Provide plenty of consultants to organize police forces and help with reconstruction. Persuade the Iraqi government, such as it is, to ask for peacekeeping assistance from other nations. Put the arm on allies in the Middle East to participate for the sake of stability in the region. Recognize that much of this is about access to oil, and negotiate accordingly while trying to persuade Americans to go to rehab for their fossil-fuel addiction.

She has more to say, go read the rest.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Let me tell you bout hard work

In what seems like a good ol' Amurican sense of decency, Mark Krikorian writes at The Corner:
According to a congressman's wife who attended a Republican women's luncheon yesterday, Karl Rove explained the rationale behind the president's amnesty/open-borders proposal this way: "I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas."

There should be no need to explain why this is an obscene statement coming from a leader in the party that promotes the virtues of hard work, thrift, and sobriety, a party whose demi-god actually split fence rails as a young man, a party where "respectable Republican cloth coat" once actually meant something. But it does seem to be necessary to explain.

Aw, how sweet, how earnest. how . . . full of crap.

First, I'm not sure who the demi-god is, couldn't be Lincoln. The Republic'n Party today is 180º out of phase with the party of the 1860's, so get off it.

Second, today's party "promotes the virtues of hard work, thrift, and sobriety"? As a shining paragon of all 3 values, I present the current demi-god, GWBush. That's right, sit down and shut up.

If they cared about hard work, there would be some attempt to help, you know, workers. And thrift in the form of booming national debt and tax cuts for The Donald hardly seem thrifty. And sobriety? Well, if they're not talking about drinking, the sober assessment of the Iraq invasion doesn't stand too much scrutiny.

And in re: workers, Mark Kleiman has this gem:

I'm with Brad DeLong: dissing people who do tough, low-wage jobs is rude. He's right to say that if GM and Nationwide think that doing so is a good way to appeal to Super Bowl watchers, we're way too far down the road to the Second Gilded Age. With any luck, we'll get to look back on the elections of 2006 and 2008 as the moment when the country decided to switch course.

But to be fair, it's not only big corporations that add insult to injury by making fun of the people in MimimumWageLand and the essential jobs they do. How many speeches have we all heard, and how many columns have we all read, deploring the economic trends that replace good jobs with "dead-end, burger-flipping" "McJobs" paying "chump change"?

If you had to flip burgers for a living, how would those speeches make you feel? And if you were a recent high-school dropout deciding between McDonald's and one or another street hustle, how would the image of McDonald's workers as losers — as carried in your own mind and in the minds of those around you — influence that choice?

So let's watch what we say, all right?


one, two, three strikes you're out at the old, ball game.

My first baseball glove, when I was 11, was a Hank Bauer model.

From the AP:
NEW YORK - Hank Bauer, the hard-nosed ex-Marine who returned to baseball after being wounded during World War II and went on to become a cornerstone of the New York Yankees dynasty of the 1950s, died Friday. He was 84.

Bauer died of cancer in Shawnee Mission, Kan., said the Baltimore Orioles. Bauer managed the 1966 Orioles to their first World Series title.

A three-time All-Star outfielder, Bauer played on Yankees teams that won nine American League pennants and seven World Series in 10 years. He set the Series record with a 17-game hitting streak, a mark that still stands.

Run, run, Rudolph

Barbara at Crooks & Liars has this about America's Mayor wanker Rudy Giuliani:

Here are a few things America really needs to know about Rudy Giuliani:

Had Rudy Giuliani been mayor of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, no one would be talking about what a great leader Giuliani is today.

I was in lower Manhattan on 9/11, and as I was working in Manhattan I spent most of my time there in the days and weeks after. So you can take my word on this: Rudy’s post-9/11 “leadership” amounted almost entirely of the mayor appearing on television. He did a fine job of appearing on television, and he managed to set the right tone and say the right things — abilities Hizzoner did not always draw upon in the past. I give him credit for his performance. But that performance did not constitute “leadership.” It was all public relations. It was all about Rudy.

Jimmy Breslin wrote,

He was a nobody as a mayor and in one day he became a hero. This sudden career, this door opening to a room of gold, all started for Rudolph Giuliani when his indestructible bunker in World Trade Center building blew up. He had personally selected it, high in the sky, and with tons of diesel fuel to give emergency power.

And Giuliani walks on. He walks from his bunker, up Barclay Street and went on television. Went on and announced his heroism and then came back every hour or so until he became a star, a great figure, a national hero, the mayor who saved New York.

Most of this comes from these dazed Pekingese of the Press. … Giuliani was a hero with these news people. He did not pick up a piece of steel or help carry one of the injured off. [Jimmy Breslin, “He Molests the Dead,” New York Newsday, March 7, 2004]

The fact is that Giuliani did little to “lead” rescue or recovery efforts. While Rudy was prancing around on television, a hodge-podge of city agencies loosely — very loosely — coordinated by the Office of Emergency Management went to work deconstructing the remains of the World Trade Center with little input or direction from the Mayor.

Consider also that the World Trade Center was yards away from Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. Unlike Mayor Nagin of New Orleans, Mayor Giuliani did not have to beg for help getting the debris cleared and electricity hooked up so that the financial district was up and running again as quickly as possible. New York’s business leadership saw to that.

Rooms to let, 50 ¢.

This is really funny, yet very sad. Beneath the wry humor lies the tragedy of the GWBush regime. It looks, even now, like the deserted farms of the Oklahoma dust bowl, the tenants already gone, to find a life elsewhere.

Yet still, GWBush still has dreams. And it looks like they include an Apocalyptic assault on another Middle Eastern country. But enough on that for now.

Here's his legacy in Crawford, TX:

CRAWFORD, Texas— Near the lone stoplight on Main Street, a for-sale sign hangs from a dusty window where a souvenir shop used to sell cufflinks, cowboy boots and denim shirts emblazoned “The Western White House.”

Another gift store across the street is shuttered too, though a sign says it will reopen elsewhere. And the biggest souvenir shop in Crawford is reporting a drop in sales.

The Washington professionals have their polls, their focus groups and their newspaper editorials. But Crawford, the 700-person town where President Bush’s ranch is located, has its trinket stores, and they have fallen on hard times, in what some say reflects the president’s sinking popularity over the war in Iraq and a daunting influx of anti-war protesters.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Oh, time is on my side, yes it is

Our friend Jane from Firedoglake, with Swopa of Needlenose, discuss the ongoing Libby self-immolation:

Keep them doggies movin' Rawhide!

I am so lucky to have lived through the '50s, when pop and rock'n'roll were stumbling over each other, in an amazing game of 'tag, you're it', each trying to create the Next Art Form.

In retrospect, many of the artists who came up in the '50s and veered toward the 'pop' arena would have been rockers had they started out more recently.

Case in point: Frankie Laine. Sadly, from his website today:
We are saddened to announce the passing of Frankie Laine, musician, father, husband and friend. He died at 9:15 this morning from cardiovascular disease at age 93 in San Diego, surrounded by his loved ones.

Frankie led a long, exuberant life and contributed greatly to many causes near to his heart. He donated his time and talent to many San Diego charities and homeless shelters, as well as the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul Village. He was also an emeritus member of the board of directors for the Mercy Hospital Foundation.

Born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio on March 30, 1913, he was one of the most successful American singers of the twentieth century. He charted more than 70 records – 21 of them gold – and achieved worldwide sales of more than 250 million discs. He will be forever remembered for the beautiful music he brought into this world, his wit and sense of humor, along with the love he shared with so many.

Indeed. Here is a promo about his career:

Go to this part of his website, there are Real Audio links to several of his songs.

Here is something from his wikipedia:
Laine was the first and biggest of a new breed of black-influenced singers who rose to prominence in the post-WWII era. This new, raw, emotionally charged style seemed at the time to signal the end of the previous era's singing styles; and was, indeed, a harbinger of the rock 'n' roll music that was to come. As music historian Jonny Whiteside wrote:
In the Hollywood clubs, a new breed of black-influenced white performers laid down a baffling hip array of new sounds ... Most important of all these, though, was Frankie Laine, a big white lad with 'steel tonsils' who belted out torch blues while stomping his size twelve foot in joints like Billy Berg's, Club Hangover and the Bandbox. ... Laine's intense vocal style owed nothing to Crosby, Sinatra or Dick Haymes. Instead he drew from Billy Eckstine, Joe Turner, Jimmy Rushing, and with it Laine had sown the seeds from which an entire new perception and audience would grow. ... Frank Sinatra represented perhaps the highest flowering of a quarter century tradition of crooning but suddenly found himself an anachronism. First Frankie Laine, then Tony Bennett, and now Johnnie (Ray), dubbed 'the Belters' and 'the Exciters,' came along with a brash vibrance and vulgar beat that made the old bandstand routine which Frank meticulously perfected seem almost invalid.

Again, indeed.

Not sure who he is, or was? Let me refresh your memory. Anyone remember the TV show Rawhide? Or the movie Blazing Saddles? He sang the themes to both.

But here's some more interesting info from wikipedia:

Along with opening the door for many R&B performers, Laine played a significant role in the equal rights movements of the 1950s and 60s. When Nat King Cole's television show was unable to get a sponsor, Laine crossed the color line, becoming the first white artist to appear as a guest (foregoing his usual salary of $10,000.00 as Cole's show only paid scale). Many other top white singers followed suit, including Tony Bennett and Rosemary Clooney, but Cole's show still couldn't get enough sponsors to continue.

In the following decade, Frankie Laine joined several African American artists who gave a free concert for Martin Luther King's supporters during their Selma to Montgomery marches on Washington DC.

Laine has also been active in many charities as well, including Meals on Wheels and The Salvation Army. Among his charitable works are a series of local benefit concerts and his having organized a nationwide drive to provide "Shoes for the Homeless."

Frankie Laine, who had a strong liking to African-American music, went so far as to include recording at least two songs that have being black as their subject matter, "Shine" and Fats Waller's "Black and Blue".

The YouTube selections for Frankie are somewhat limited, but here's one that's, well, sort of lame:

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

So much for Hagel's and Warner's resolute fight against the war in Iraq. From the NYTimes:
Republicans on Monday blocked Senate debate on a bipartisan resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, leaving in doubt whether the Senate would render a judgment on what lawmakers of both parties described as the paramount issue of the day.

. . . But their show of unity, with war critics including Mr. Warner of Virginia and Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, siding with the leadership, lent some credibility to Republican claims that Democrats were being unfair. “I am confident that somehow this matter will be worked out,” Mr. Warner said.

But Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said that “time was tenuous” and that he would not guarantee that Democrats would try again to bring up the resolution. He did promise that there would be more clashes over Iraq policy as the Senate turned to measures like the president’s request for $100 billion in emergency Iraq spending.

“You can run but you can’t hide,” Mr. Reid told his Republican colleagues on the floor. “We are going to debate Iraq.”

So much for loyal opposition, guys. When the Party comes calling, down come the trousers.


Catch me if you can

Christy at FireDogLake put up a post today, using this famous picture of the great Willie Mays making "The Catch":

(For the non-baseball fans in the audience, this may be the most amazing catch in history. Willie Mays. 1954 World Series. Game One. Enough said.)

While we agree that is a wonderful moment in baseball, and that Willie is pretty special, we offer some alternatives to "most amazing catch in history".

First, Jim Edmonds of the Angels in '97:

Not just running and looking over his shoulder, but diving at full speed. And yes, he caught the ball clean.

Second, Jim Edmonds, now with the St. Louis Cards, in 2004:

Pam's beloved "Jimmy E." does this kind of stuff everyday, before breakfast.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsaked

The Orange County Register newspaper claims to be Libertarian. To me, they always seemed willing to support Right Wing authoritarianism and quick to criticize Liberal or Democratic politics just because.

But today, they have an editorial condemning "rendition":
How would we feel if clandestine operatives of the government of Germany – or Great Britain, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Israel, China or Japan, for that matter – kidnapped a U.S. citizen, took him to a secret prison, questioned him unremittingly, perhaps including physical abuse, and then dropped him off on a hillside in Mexico after deciding that he wasn't the fellow they wanted after all? Would we be upset?

That's pretty close to what American CIA operatives allegedly did to Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent.

His story, which German authorities at first refused to believe, describes what the CIA calls "extraordinary rendition." It happens when U.S. operatives take somebody suspected of being involved with a terrorist group or a hostile power to some country that has few scruples and fewer laws about torture and either question the subject "aggressively" or hand the job over to the local secret police.

Nice, so far. Glad to see a true conservatarian position on government tyranny. And this:
If we abandon our devotion to liberty, due process and respect for the rights of individuals then, as the cliché goes, the terrorists indeed will have won. We will have become what our adversaries claim we are, an oppressive international bully.

But sadly, no mention of Maher Arar, perhaps the most famous victim of US cruelty:

Maher Arar (Arabic: ماهر عرار‎; born 1970 in Syria) is a Canadian software engineer. On September 26, 2002, during a stopover in New York en route from Tunis to Montreal, Arar was detained by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service who may have been acting upon false and misleading information supplied by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).[1] Despite carrying a Canadian passport, he was forcibly removed to Syria. Although Canadian (initially) and American officials characterized his removal to Syria as a deportation, there is no record that Arar's removal was ordered by a court or senior DHS official. Hence his removal's characterization as administrative removal or extraordinary rendition. Arar was held in solitary confinement in a Syrian prison where he was regularly tortured for almost a year, until his eventual release and return to Canada in October 2003.[2] Syria concluded that he had no terrorist links.[3]

As usual, freedom is on the march.

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin' about half past dead

My friend John Amato over at Crooks & Liars put up a Late Night Music Club piece about The Band tonight, which reminded me of a couple of stories about the master tapes for Music From Big Pink.

While I worked at Capitol Studios, we were asked to transfer the master 1" 8 track tapes to a modern digital format for an MTV show. I can't remember the title, but it was artists, producers etc., playing tracks, then showing how the music was constructed: "Well here on track 17, we put the ocarina solo..." sort of stuff.

They wanted Robbie Robertson to do his bit on the west coast at The Village Studios in West L.A. where he has had a room for several years. And Levon Helm would do his part in a studio in N.Y.C.

But the word soon came back from both Capitol's west coast and east coast library facilities that no multitrack masters for Big Pink could be found. Other albums, but not Big Pink. People were starting to worry, no one likes to lose assets like these.

One day a Capitol staff engineer mentioned the problem to Don Hahn, a veteran engineer who started out at Phil Ramone's A & R Recording in NYC in the '60s. Donnie said "Damn, I worked on that record at A & R! But they weren't called The Band yet, they called themselves . . .The Crackers!" Armed with this new information, the 1" 8 track multitrack master tapes for Big Pink were located.

A few days later, I was in Studio B at Capitol with a couple of boxes of tape, a 1" 8 track machine, and a 48 trackk digital tape machine ready to do the transfer. After I carefully aligned both machines, I patched them together as well as brought the outputs of both machines onto the console for monitoring and comparison purposes. I hit Record on the 48 tk and Play on the 8 tk, and started listening. And was I shocked!

First on "The Weight", the entire song by the entire group is on tracks 1-4. Push those faders up to the '0' (Zero) mark, and there's the song. As I soloed each track I could hear every voice and instrument, but condensed onto only 4 tracks. It was clear the song was recorded live, because on each track I could hear multiple sounds. One track had Levon's vocal along with drums, and some keyboards, another had Rick's vocal with other instruments. Everything leaked into every microphone to some extent, yet it was clearly a perfect performance.

Tracks 5 through 8 were, if I remember correctly, extra overdubbed background vocals and horns in the "dum, dum, dum, dum, dum da dumdum" part between the end of each chorus and the beginning of each verse. But they were not used as is mentioned in the Don Hahn link above. What a refreshing surprise, that even in the beginning days of massive amounts of overdubs and modern studio technique, that the band just played the song, and Don and Shelly recorded is. How perfect is that?

And still one more surprise remained. On the song "Up On Cripple Creek", everybody knows the break between each chorus and verse is a Jaw Harp (Jew's Harp), right? Closer listening to the soloed track on the multitrack revealed that it was a Hohner Clavinet (think the riff in Stevie's "Superstition"), just distorting an amp. Not a Jaw Harp after all.

What a great look into the history of great recording. I have been really lucky to have had such opportunities. Here's a great site that has Band discography info: