Tag Archives: politics

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

“. . . the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.”
–Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

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The theater where I saw the Faces—with Ronnie Wood and Stewart hiding behind the amps–, the Birmingham Palladium, no longer exists.

The Grande Ballroom, where I saw the original Fleetwood Mac—the one with Peter Green—is gone.

The Eastown Theater, where I saw Derek and the Dominos, is a memory. As are Derek and the Dominos.

What is important: the building or the memories? One could point out that were it not for the building there wouldn’t be the memories, which is absolutely true. But were I to drive down Grand River and see the sad remains of the Grande (if you’re interested in seeing it, the address if 8952 Grand River, Detroit; Google Maps has an image of the remaining structure), would it make much of a difference with the exception of a brief wave of nostalgia? If the Grande was purchased by some corporation and transformed into some faux-hip venue, would that make my memories any better?

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Two miles southeast of the Grande on Grand River, the Olympia Stadium once existed. There is now an Army National Guard facility on the site and most of the property appears to be a shitty parking lot. Olympia was opened in 1927 (the Grande opened as a dance hall in 1928), closed in 1980 and was torn down in 1987.

I saw the Rolling Stones there. That band apparently continues to exist. I have no interest in seeing the present incarnation of the Stones. That the site where I saw one of the best concerts of my life is now something entirely different doesn’t much matter.

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Right now we are in the midst of a plague. A plague that is burning through our lives, leaving charred and devastated rubble in many cases. Things that we did, places that we went to, activities that we were a part of are in all-too-many instances irrevocably changed. They won’t come back.

The National Independent Venue Association has been established to help save independent music performance centers that are likely to be closed as a result of COVID-19.

In a letter sent to Congress in efforts to get financial assistance for the ~800 operations that are members of NIVA, assistance in the form of loans, tax relief, insurance, and other measures, Dayna Frank, board president and owner of First Avenue & 7th St Entry in Minneapolis, writes, “Our stages give artists like Adele, U2, Keith Urban, Prince, Lizzo, the Eagles, Wu-Tang Clan and Foo Fighters their start. The world could be without the next Lady Gaga, Kenny Chesney, Chance the Rapper or Bruce Springsteen if we cease to exist.”

The letter is addressed to Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Kevin McCarthy, and Mitch McConnell.

Does anyone think McConnell would be convinced by that argument?

To her credit, Frank also points out, “While we are small businesses”—and aren’t the Republicans the bulwarks of small business?—“the estimated direct annual economic impact we bring to our local communities is nearly $10 billion.”

That should raise some sleepy eyelids.

Continue reading Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

In Memoriam: The Iowa Caucus 1972-2020

We’ve now officially begun another election year cycle, a testament to the privileges of our nation, but one that reflects an increasingly polarized climate where many voters have already cashed out on our great American Experiment. The manner in which we nominate Presidential candidates continues to evolve and mirror the reality of our country–for better or worse–while allowing a much needed discussion about the process itself.

Many voices from this self-reflection wonder if having two small and predominately white states (Iowa and New Hampshire) remains the best first-step for this effort, particularly when much of the divide in America is rooted in the lack of tolerance toward one another. Should we continue to allow two states that don’t accurately represent the demographics of our country the privilege of determining a suitable voice for this critically important effort?

Front and center was the 2020 Iowa caucus. The “first in the nation” state proved to be a complete shit show, mired in chaos from the ineptitude of Iowa Democratic Party leadership, the lack of effective training for local party volunteers assigned with the task of running their precincts and the failure of a smart phone reporting app that was rushed-to-launch days before the caucus itself.

When the dust settled and Iowa was still not any closer to providing the rest of the country with results days after the caucus ended, the calls to initiate changes to the process began ringing with more intensity and with greater resolve.

How was Iowa blessed with their first in the nation status? The answer originated in a different time. It was a world in which the backroom deals of our two major political parties created a process of selection that would be obediently followed for decades, without much dispute.

This began to unravel in 2016 when Iowa caucus-goers seemed to split evenly between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The moment our state was unable to declare a candidate’s decisive victory was when those frustrated began to try to learn more about the process, perhaps with the intention to help us dumb yokels provide the results in a manner that was easier to explain and more efficient to report.

In their discovery, they began to learn about the informality of our caucuses. Our process lacked real transparency in terms of how delegates were appointed and it was filled with antiquated methods like raw vote counts and coin tosses. The entire event was hard to understand and even harder to explain among the journalists and reporters who flocked to our state with barely hidden resentment at having to spend the winter with a bunch of hayseeds, flipping quarters between Bernie and Hillary.

It was the Sanders camp that first approached the Democratic National Committee with their apprehension about the Iowa caucuses. The DNC then met with Iowa State Democratic leadership to introduce their concerns and request the first real meaningful changes to our process since 1972. Iowa responded positively to these suggestions, even telling our national party leadership of an aggressive initiative to transition our antiquated caucus process into a digital platform that allowed party members to vote from their smart phones.

When questions about the access and security of such a reporting method arose, state leaders backpedaled and considered a more measured solution. Iowa would implement a paper process for their candidate selection, but enable precincts to report the results of their caucus through a phone app. This app would help calculate the raw votes into appropriate delegate numbers while providing the state party with immediate, real-time results. The paper trail would provide a way to audit and verify the results if there was any uncertainty.

Continue reading In Memoriam: The Iowa Caucus 1972-2020

New Janelle Monae video: Screwed

Video: Janelle Monáe -- “Screwed” (ft. Zoe Kravitz)

Janelle Monáe - Screwed (feat. Zoë Kravitz) [Official Video]

From Dirty Computer, out now on Bad Boy/Atlantic.

I believe it when Janelle Monae says, “I lost my mind to rock and roll.” She’s one of the most exciting things happening in music today. She’ll be headlining Coachella and Glastonbury this summer, which has ruffled some old school rockers’ delicate plumage, but what do they know? Like her mentor Prince, she’s a free-ass motherfucker.

I like how “Screwed” is overtly political without sacrificing any of its party jam fun. Apparently written in the wake of the 2016 election, Manae expressed what everybody was thinking: We’re all screwed. But then she optimistically flips the sentiment on its head:

Let’s get screwed
I don’t care
You fucked the world up now
We’ll fuck it all back down

Let’s hope so. Janelle Monae for President in 2020. She’s got my vote.

Janelle Monae: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Vote Blue!

After the election of 2016 we made a conscious decision to keep Glorious Noise focused on sharing good new music with our readers. Everybody involved with this site is still engaged politically, and you can always follow @poljunk, our national affairs desk, but it’s important to be able to step away from the constant stream of outrageous shit going on in the world and enjoy a modicum of peace and happiness.

We’ve shared a cool new video or an interesting article just about every weekday since then.

But now’s the time for action.

Today’s Republican Party is a disgrace to the ideals this country was founded on. The United States of America needs you to elect Democrats to keep the current administration in check. That’s the only way to temper this insanity.

I’ve heard people I respect say this is the most important election of our lifetime. That might be true, although we wouldn’t be in this wretched mess if voters hadn’t been so fucking stupid last time.

After 2016, who’s to say Americans even deserve democracy?

Nevertheless, here we are. The ballots are set. If you don’t love the Democrats on your ballot, tough shit. Work harder in the primaries next time and help your perfect candidate win the nomination. Elections are no place for naive idealism. American politics are a numbers game and majority rules.

Elect Dems or else the bad guys win. Hyperbole? Barely. Republicans are perpetrating some genuinely evil stuff lately. Like overt racism, blatant corruption, and literally locking children in cages.

If you care about healthcare, the environment, gun violence, equal rights for everybody, facts, not locking children in cages, fair elections, justice, and the general welfare of the population, you need to get out and vote for Democrats.

Do it! Vote.

Cover image: “The American Dream” by Tom Benton, 1968.

50 Years Ago: A Letter to My Teenage Son

Audio: Victor Lundberg -- “An Open Letter to My Teenage Son”

Victor Lundberg - AN OPEN LETTER TO MY TEENAGE SON

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the 50th anniversary of the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine, dated November 9, 1967. The interviews and reviews of early Stone are rightly celebrated, but I like flipping through for the ads and weird news items.

The second issue came out two weeks later and featured Tina Turner on the cover. It was 20 pages long, with 3 full-page ads, and featured an interview with Donovan and a big Jon Landau piece on Aretha Franklin. The thing that caught my eye, however, was an article on page 8 by Bob O’Lear titled, “USA’s Hottest New 45 RPM: Letter to a Teenage Son.”

The hottest record in the country — not the Monkees, not “Incense and Peppermint,” not the “San Francisco Sound” nor even the Beatles — is a non-musical offering by two middle-aged advertising executives from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The song, if you haven’t heard it, is a slice of the reactionary doublespeak for which my hometown of Grand Rapids is notorious (Amway, Betsy Devos, et al). “Some of my generation judges people by their race, their belief, or the color of their skin and this is no more right than saying all teenagers are drunken dope addicts or glue sniffers.” Of course, by the end, the narrator threatens to disown his son if he refuses to fight in the Vietnam war. “Your mother will love you no matter what you do because she is a woman.”

Fifty years later it’s kind of hilarious, but still pretty sad because it’s based on an actual letter the dude wrote to his 17-year-old son. This was the state of the world in 1967. Imagine having to make that choice as a teenager. “If you decide to burn your draft card, then burn your birth certificate at the same time.”

O’Lear plays it straight. No moralizing, barely any condescension, just straight reporting. He interviews the songwriters, the record label, and a radio program director, and he quotes a big chunk of the narration. This is O’Lear’s only byline in the Stone.

A little googling uncovered a “promotion man” named Bob O’Lear who worked for labels affiliated with Liberty Records in 1967. So was this article essentially a press release? Native advertising? Had Jann Wenner already sold out by the second issue? Or was he just willing to publish whatever content he could get?

“An Open Letter to My Teenage Son” spent six weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at #10.

Continue reading 50 Years Ago: A Letter to My Teenage Son

New Pussy Riot video: Police State

Video: Pussy Riot -- “Police State”

Pussy Riot - Police State

From the Nice Life Winter ’18 playlist, out December 8 on Nice Life.

The always subtle Pussy Riot is back with another video denouncing the police state. It’s a cute pop song with a catchy chorus and sarcastic lyrics. Chloe Sevigny plays a law-enforcement officer in the video and forces children to watch videos of Trump and Putin while smashing their toys with her riot control baton.

No problems in paradise, we locked them up
We all have to sacrifice, it won’t be long
Shut the borders, perfect order, sons and daughters
Drink the Kool Aid, it’s the new way, do what I say

In case you miss the point, Pussy Riot released a big statement (below).

Pussy Riot: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Pussy Riot video: Police State

Is Past Prologue?

For the past several years rock and roll has become profoundly apolitical, particularly vis-à-vis the 1960s when, largely because the war in Vietnam, there was considerable engagement of performers.

There were two signal albums of that period, one that came out in 1969 and the other in 1970, and both have Paul Kantner in common.

In 1970, Kantner formed Jefferson Starship. And at this point I can imagine a sufficient number of eyerolls among all of you reading this such that the centrifugal force could spin an LP.

But before there was “Find Your Way Back” and “Jane” and “Count on Me” and Grace Slick-as-Kim Cattrall in the Mannequin “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,”* there was the original Jefferson Starship, which was arguably what came to be known as a “supergroup.”

Joining Kantner and Slick there were Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Cassady, plus Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and David Freiberg.

They came together and created Blows Against the Empire. The Empire in question was pre-Darth Vader. While the album does have a science fiction theme, the whole idea behind it was that the American Empire was something that needed to be escaped from.

But just before that album, Jefferson Airplane released Volunteers, an album that, in effect, was calling out for volunteers not that would join the military and go to Southeast Asia (it is hard to conceive of the fact today that your best friend or your uncle or your boss or your father or yourself could get drafted and sent thousands of miles away to a jungle hell where death was not an unusual consequence), but to get out in the streets. The marches that occurred in Washington and around the world on January 21 were far more common back then. Volunteers were needed frequently to protest against the war.

Continue reading Is Past Prologue?

What Do They Know?

One of the things that often happens when a performer—be it an actor or a musician—makes a political point is that there is a degree of dismissiveness among some—even among that person’s fans—, a reaction that has it, in effect, “Oh, she’s just an actress, what does she know?” (Or, as our President put it about Meryl Streep, “one of the most-overrated actresses.”)

We can allow these people to move us in their performances, but somehow that has nothing to do with their intelligence or capability or thoughtfulness. They are “just” playing or singing or acting. What do they know?

Of course, when it comes to the campaigning part of politics, it is all good to have the actors and musicians to come on stage with the candidates to lend support, be they Gary Busey or George Clooney, Wayne Newton or Bruce Springsteen. (Yes, I’ve made loaded choices of supporters of the candidates in the last presidential, but they are no less true.)

When Madonna says “Yes, I have thought an awful lot of blowing up the White House, but I know that this won’t change anything,” you’d think that the 58-year-old performer was going to be in charge of life-altering policies for literally hundreds of millions of people; when a presidential candidate says in a speech of his opponent, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know,” it gets pretty much treated as though, “Oh, it’s just him being him.”

Actors or musicians, the thinking seems to be, really don’t know more than their crafts. Lawyers and real estate developers—they know lots about everything.

Don’t they?

Continue reading What Do They Know?

Hillary Clinton is Not the Lesser of Two Evils: She is GOOD

I consider myself a connoisseur of reality television. I realize that many smart people dismiss the genre in favor of make-believe stories, and I get it. There is a lot of really terrible reality tv. Of course, there is also a lot terrible scripted tv. Sturgeon’s revelation, yo. At its best, reality tv features all the hallmarks of any good narrative: interesting character development, unexpected plot twists, a reflection of a societal value.

The Apprentice was never great television. But it was entertaining for a while. I watched most of the first twelve seasons of The Apprentice/Celebrity Apprentice. I enjoyed the premise of contestants working together on teams to complete a mission each week with one person from the losing team being eliminated. Celebrity Apprentice often exposed a different side of famous people than what is typically showcased in official publicity campaigns. You could find out who was actually smart (Joan Rivers, Arsenio Hall, Bret Michaels), and who was as dumb as you’d thought they would be (Gene Simmons, Rod Blagojevich).

The host, Donald Trump, fell into the latter class. On the show, he came across as a self-important buffoon. In the “boardroom” at the end of each episode where Trump decides who gets fired, he would ask the contestants and his advisors for their opinions on who should be “fired” and why. Revealing the attention span of a toddler, Trump would frequently cut short these discussions and make a brash decision based on something stupid that had nothing directly to do with the challenge. One week somebody would get fired for not defending themselves strongly enough in the boardroom; the next week another person would get fired for being too argumentative and abrasive. It was arbitrary. After the contestants left the boardroom, Trump inevitably would say to his advisors, “That was the right decision, don’t you agree?”

It was hilarious. His insecurity was so obvious. He’s so blatantly the “tough guy” with no real backbone. He’s Francis from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. This was all completely clear when you watched the show. And it was funny.

But it’s not funny anymore.

Because now instead of his ill-informed decisions sending Khloé Kardashian packing her bags, his decisions could determine who is sitting on the Supreme Court, and whether or not the United States will honor its treaties with NATO.

Even before he called Mexicans rapists, incited political violence, encouraged racism and religious discrimination, he proved himself unfit for the presidency by just being such a clown.

Continue reading Hillary Clinton is Not the Lesser of Two Evils: She is GOOD

Three Hundred Things People Are Saying About #TrumpDoc

trumpdoc

A lot of people are saying things about this photo. Not us, but a lot of people. Some very smart people; the best people.

I updated my Facebook picture with his smirking mug and added a couple comments. That got people talking…a lot of them.

Here are 300+ things people are saying about #TrumpDoc (of the 570, and counting).

  1. Can’t stop telling you about the time he met Donald Fagan at a boat show.
  2. Ends every question during a physical with, “If you know what I mean…”
  3. Signs your high school physical form on sight, asks if your mom’s dating.
  4. Asks if you’ve ever ridden in a convertible, casually dangles Sebring keys.
  5. Won’t stop asking if you’ve signed up for his band’s mailing list.
  6. Has a secret stash of Zima on his boat, Breakin’ Wind.
  7. Says Michael McDonald is “the voice of my generation!”
  8. Thinks AOL is the Internet. Concurrently somehow still has a NetZero account.
  9. Invites you over to see his margarita glass signed by Jimmy Buffett after he “saved his f*ckin’ life from a ‘gator the size of a goddamn Buick” in a parking lot in the Keys
  10. His favorite coffee mug is a badly stained, circa 1985 plastic one with a barely legible racist joke on it. It leaks, so he wraps it in a bandanna. Continue reading Three Hundred Things People Are Saying About #TrumpDoc