Iowa

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The caucuses are in three days and I'm terrified that John Edwards won't win. That is all for tonight.

Happiest of new years.

Michael Bloomberg

1 comments
An independent run by Bloomberg is looking more and more possible. If Edwards isn't the democratic nominee, there's a very good chance that I'd cast my vote for Bloomberg.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/us/politics/31bloomberg.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

The Four

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oldham

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There Were Two *Great* Records in 2007

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Yes, I've posted my Best of List, but time has told me that there were only two near perfect records released this year. These are records that could compete for a Top 20 All-Time spot.


A Wrap

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Not a whole lot going on as the year comes to a close. I spent the past four days visiting family in Baltimore - great, great time. I'm now back in SF and working through the last stage of my first cold/flu in about two years. I barely listened to any music over the four days in Baltimore, which was odd. I tried to spend most of my time chatting with my mom, stepfather and the rest of the family out there. It was quite nice.

I've made two quick resolutions for 2008: 1) Read two books per month. I realize that 24 books in a year isn't a whole lot, but I've probably been averaging about 5-8 a year the past few years and 2) drop ten lbs.

There are a slew of movies that I want to see before returning to work on Wednesday: "There Will Be Blood", "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead", "Michael Clayton" and a few others.

I'm feeling a bit listless right now, as I'm sure is evident in this writing.

Back to "The Deer Hunter"....

Best Pictures

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I spent well over an hour on IMDB tonight just perusing lists and watching trailers.

I later stumbled upon a complete list of the Best Pictures. Here they are dating back to 1965. If I've seen the film, I've provided my rating, on a ten-point scale.

2006 The Departed 8.8
2005 Crash 4.3
2004 Million Dollar Baby 7.2
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 8.8
2002 Chicago
2001 A Beautiful Mind 8.7
2000 Gladiator
1999 American Beauty 9.5
1998 Shakespeare In Love
1997 Titanic 6.4
1996 The English Patient
1995 Braveheart 7.9
1994 Forrest Gump 9.2
1993 Schindler's List 9.3
1992 Unforgiven
1991 The Silence of the Lambs 9.4
1990 Dances With Wolves 7.8
1989 Driving Miss Daisy
1988 Rain Man 8.7
1987 The Last Emperor
1986 Platoon 9.4
1985 Out of Africa
1984 Amadeus
1983 Terms of Endearment 10.0
1982 Gandhi
1981 Chariots of Fire
1980 Ordinary People 9.7
1979 Kramer vs. Kramer 9.0
1978 The Deer Hunter
1977 Annie Hall 9.2
1976 Rocky 9.5
1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 9.0
1974 The Godfather, Part II 9.1
1973 The Sting
1972 The Godfather 9.8
1971 The French Connection
1970 Patton
1969 Midnight Cowboy 8.8
1968 Oliver!
1967 In the Heat of the Night
1966 A Man For All Seasons
1965 The Sound of Music 9.3

Christmas 2007

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It's only the 23rd and this has already been one of the best Christmas' in recent memory. N and I had a classic day yesterday: exchanged some great great gifts, went out for a sensational dinner (courtesy of The Blouses) and watched about 22 episodes of "Extras". This morning we slept in. Ok, we slept in until I begged her to get up so we could get omelettes. We ran into C Muenz which was a nice surprise as I've been meaning to call him.

I took the above photo while N and I were in Oregon a few months back. My big gift from N was a blown up version on a big piece of wood. It's one of the best gifts I've ever received. It's as much my creation as it is hers. Thank you, N.

2007 has been one of the most memorable years of my life. As those close to me know, I've been able to abandon some things and my will power has even surprised me. But as I said to N today, the reason that this has been such a fulfilling year has little to do with those accomplishments, but rather the realizations that I've come to. And many of these realizations surround the discovery of what's important in my life: my friendships, my family, music, art, good people in general, nature, and so on. I have seen so many things this year that simply escaped me in years past. N opened my eyes to many of these things, and many just came by being more curious.

Just today one of the greatest people/family's in my life left SF for Chicago. In years past, this friend would likely have simply been a "drinking buddy", but this year brought so much more depth to my relationships. The Blouses are now 1500 miles away, but I know my friendship with them will only continue to grow.

So many of you have added joy, support and laughs to my life. Many are here in SF, while many are spread across the country, and even the world. Tonight I received a call from someone I haven't spoken to in about a year. He just wanted to wish me well and send along his best. It was one of the best treats of this Christmas. Thanks, Z.

Tomorrow I head to Baltimore to visit some family. It's been a year since I've seen them and I can't wait.

Beth Orton's on in the background, my apartment's warm and things are good.

Happy holidays to anyone who lands on this page....

The Crocodile Cafe

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Unfortunately, I never made it to the Crocodile, but I know many who did and *loved* this place.

Another sad farewell in the music business:

Seattle's Crocodile Cafe closes

By JOHN MARSHALL
P-I REPORTER

Crocodile Cafe, R.I.P.

Saturday night, the Belltown club was packed once again for sets by Robin Pecknold, J. Tillman and David Bazan, with the usual "Croc" good times under way and the bar doing brisk business. Nothing suggested that those in the crowd were witnesses to the venerable music venue's last waltz.

Owner Stephanie Dorgan, who could not be reached Monday, left voice mail messages with club employees Sunday telling them they should not report for work any longer -- the Crocodile Cafe has been closed because of financial difficulties.

Eli Anderson, the club's current booker, was shocked when he received the brief voice mail from Dorgan on Sunday afternoon. As he said Monday: "We all knew the club has problems with money, but we certainly didn't think it would be closing right now. ... I was booking new shows on Saturday, so I was freaking out when I received Stephanie's voice mail. And the thing is -- band contracts require 50 to 75 percent of full payment if a club cancels their gigs, so she's probably not saving much money by closing."

Word of the closure spread like wildfire Monday through the city's music blogs, with surprised Croc fans mourning the passing of a place that played such a part in Seattle's vibrant club scene in the 1990s.

As one comment on the Three Imaginary Girls blog put it, with a bit of humor: "It really is the Decline and Fall of Northwestern Civilization around here lately." On The Stranger's music blog, another fan noted, "We've got a streetcar to nowhere, aborted mass transit, and now one less club, the best one at that."

Many anguished fans offered reminiscences about fave Croc shows since it opened in 1991, especially remembrances of seeing headliners seldom encountered in such an intimate venue.

Among those who graced the Croc's small stage were such notables as Beck, The Ventures, the Indigo Girls, Death Cab for Cutie, The Presidents of the United States of America, Corinne Bailey Rae, The Beastie Boys, Dinosaur Junior, Michael Stipe and R.E.M., Ann Wilson, Yoko Ono and Sleater-Kinney. A now-legendary Croc double bill, with a $3 ticket, took place Oct. 4, 1992, and featured Mudhoney and Nirvana (billed that night as Pen Cap Chew). A 1996 gig by Cheap Trick included a surprise appearance by Pearl Jam.

The Crocodile's closure did not come as a complete surprise to observers of the city's club scene. Warning signs of a troublesome spiral downward had started to appear with increasing frequency in the city's music-centric alternative press.

In September, Seattle Weekly reported that Dorgan's divorce papers from R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, concluded in February, included her assertion that the club has not made enough money to pay her a salary since 2000. The story was headline: "Confronted With a Perfect Storm of Challenges, Belltown's Legendary Crocodile Cafe Fights for Its Life."

On Dec. 4, The Stranger reported that a staff meeting disagreement between Dorgan and Peter Greenberg, the club's primary booker, led to his abrupt departure.

At first nothing appeared out-of-the-ordinary at the Croc on Monday, since it is usually closed that day. The club's voice-mail system was still operating and the club's Web site listed upcoming shows all the way into May, including a Jan. 26 appearance by the Decemberists -- another gig by the sort of hot group that had long added to the Croc's reputation.

However, eventually employees could be seen being let into the locked club to pick up their personal things. They were told their final paychecks would be available Wednesday.

The Crocodile Cafe & Live Bait Lounge opened April 30, 1991, only a few months before Nirvana's epic debut, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," first alerted the outside world that something new called "grunge" was brewing in Seattle. First to play at the Croc were Love Battery and P.O.T. (members of the Posies).

Those were the days before Belltown had sprouted its current crop of luxe condo towers and trendy eateries. It still retained a seedy, bohemian vibe, which is what attracted Dorgan, who was working as an attorney with a First Amendment specialty at the high-profile firm of Davis Wright Tremaine.

As Dorgan recalled for the Seattle P-I on the club's 10th anniversary: "At the time, I enjoyed putting a little balance into my life by going to weird little bars. I used to play darts at the Frontier Room. And the fact that I was in a suit made it kind of funny."

Dorgan and two partners -- who later had a falling out -- remodeled and soundproofed the Second and Blanchard storefront and backrooms that had been the home of the Athens Cafe, a Greek eatery and club. Much of the decor came from other closed restaurants, including an infusion of South Seas atmospherics from Trader Vic's, a once-legendary outpost of the Seattle establishment where the stylings of Hawaiian legend Don Ho was probably as hard as the music ever got.

The Croc soon became a hub of the city's rock scene. And it continued to hold that spot after other one-time competitors fell by the wayside and closed their doors, including RKCNDY, the Off Ramp and Moe's.

The Croc's storied history included a film role. Portions of "Georgia," a 1995 indie film starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, were shot in the club.

Leigh even prepped for her role as a punk rocker with an appearance on the Croc's stage, her first ever singing in public. As she later recalled in an interview with P-I film critic William Arnold, "John Doe (the L.A. rock star, who played a supporting role in the film) called me up on stage, and there I was. And I took a breath and did it. And it was just bitchin'. I loved it. What a rush. Everyone applauded, too, though they were just being polite. I don't really have a voice, and I'm sure I wasn't any good."

Anderson, the Crocodile's current booker, had been working hard to compile an impressive list of upcoming shows in hopes of, as he put it, "leaving the club in better condition than I found it." His efforts seemed to be paying dividends, at least in the view of one well-known audience member at Saturday evening's final show.

That praise for Anderson's bookings came from Ben Gibbard, lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie.

Following The Des Moines Register & The Boston Globe

1 comments
I'd like to endorse my candidate. Since I simply don't understand the right, I can only endorse a democratic candidate. After looking long and hard at all of the candidates, and watching almost every debate, I will be voting for:



When this all got started, Edwards was my guy. And after about six months of paying close attention, he remains my choice. Barack Obama certainly moved up my list, but I still find him to be a bit inexperienced. And I don't mean that in terms of years of service, etc.; he just doesn't seem ready and his performances in the debates have proven this.

I'm fairly certain that, if elected, Hillary Clinton would make a fine president, but she's just too immersed in the tank to get my support. I want something new. I want someone with passion. Someone who's fired up to turn this country around. Someone who's not afraid to stick to the issues that matter to him/her. Someone who sees the big picture and isn't afraid to speak up. And most importantly (for me), someone who will grab my spirit and make me proud to be an American again.

This person is John Edwards.

Thank You, New Jersey

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My home state does good:

(CNN) -- New Jersey lawmakers have voted to abolish the death penalty in the state, sending the governor a bill he has already said he will sign. The measure will make New Jersey the first state in more than 40 years to outlaw capital punishment.
art.corzine.file.pool.jpg

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, in a file photo, has said he'll sign the bill abolishing the death penalty.

The bill will make life in prison the most severe penalty for convicted murderers in the state, including the eight men currently on the state's death row. New Jersey has not put anyone to death since 1963, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The state Assembly approved the measure 44-36 Thursday, following up Monday's 21-16 approval in the state Senate.

A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine said the bill probably will be signed into law within a few days, after the exact text is reviewed closely.

"The governor has said for quite some time that he supports the bill," said spokesman Jim Gardner.

Source: Amnesty International

The bill was introduced in November, after a state commission concluded capital punishment does not prevent violent crime, and could lead to innocent people being executed.

Some Republicans had argued police killers and terrorists should still be eligible for execution, but Democrats, who control both houses, backed the change.

"This vote marks a new chapter in our nation's 30-year experiment with capital punishment," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes executions.

"New Jersey lawmakers are demonstrating sound judgment in abandoning capital punishment after learning of its costs, the pain it causes victims' families, and the risks the death penalty poses to innocent lives."

The Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, and nearly 1,100 people have since been put to death. Capital punishment is used by 37 states, most using lethal injection of chemicals. Electrocution, the gas chamber, hanging, and the firing squad are still on the books in some states.

* Florida court ruling puts executions back on calendar
* Execution stayed amid injection concerns

The most recent execution in the United States took place September 25 in Texas.

A de facto moratorium has been in place since the Supreme Court decided to review lethal injection procedures used on the majority of capital defendants. Oral arguments in the case will be held January 7 and, depending on how the high court rules, executions could be postponed indefinitely.

The last states to ban the death penalty were West Virginia and Iowa in 1965.

Among those on death row in New Jersey is Jesse Timmendequas, whose murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994 led to reforms in tracking sex offenders. The state's Megan's Law requires local law enforcement agencies to give notification when convicted sex offenders live or work in neighborhoods.

The Mitchell Report

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It's released tomorrow. Rumor is that there will be former MVPs and Cy Young Award winners among the names. When all the names are released and many of us see some of our favorites on there, we must remember the real culprits in this fiasco: Bud Selig and Donald Fehr. Yes, the players who pumped this crap into their veins need to be held accountable, but we all must remember that Selig and Fehr knew that this was going on and turned a blind eye. They saw record revenues around the McGwire, Sosa and Bonds years and didn't want to reveal what was behind it all. Had Selig and Fehr blown the whistle earlier, many players wouldn't have felt compelled to join in. But when the commissioner and the union head say nothing, and more athletes turn to the juice, it's *somewhat* understandable that some players would pick up a needle in order to stay competitive.

Bud Selig has done so much to tarnish this wonderful game. Tomorrow will be his lasting legacy.

Don't Think Twice..

The 72-Hour Mark

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I'm told that after 72 hours, nicotine has completely left the bloodstream, and things should get better. I'm about 90 minutes from 72 hours and things have NOT gotten any better.

The past three days have been a mix of manic tirades, nausea (mostly day three), throat pain, severe irritability, unbelievable urges/cravings and overall, just an inability to sit still. Today I randomly did 25 push-ups in the middle of the workday just to take my mind off of smoking. I try to read yet I can't get past page three. I take baths but can't lay down for more than five minutes. I wake up in the middle of the night and stuff my face with whatever drink/food is within reach. It used to seem like no one smoked, now that I'm done, EVERYONE seems to smoke. I see a cigarette at every turn. It's taunting me.

How do I defeat it? Every time I consider buckling, I think the following: 1) I've now been a smoker for 18 years! EIGHTEEN YEARS! This is no longer a hobby, 2) I think of the suits in the sweet offices at RJ Reynolds. These scum are making money off of my slow suicide. No more......! 3) Cancer.

I think I'm in the homestretch. Tomorrow HAS to be easier. And if not, the weekend should be easier. Or next week. It has to happen soon.

Who Killed the Record Business?

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Let's start with these chaps:

Mitch Bainwol/RIAA



Doug Morris/UMG



Andy Lack/SonyBMG



We'll get to the folks at LiveNation, Ticketmaster, EMI, WMG and elsewhere later on. But the three fellas above sure played a nice part in leading to the demise.

A new era is upon us. The era of the artist.

Clean Air

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I can vividly remember the first time I bought a pack of cigarettes. I was seventeen years old and I was driving on Route 17 in Paramus, NJ. I stopped at Exxon for gas and pondered the purchase. I figured I'd just buy one pack. I mean, I clearly wasn't going to get hooked after one pack. I thought and thought. And I made the purchase. Camel Lights. This was 1990.

Today I quit. Last night I had my last smoke at about 1115pm. I quit once before for about seven months, but I started again. This time I am done.

When I woke up this morning the stress was immediate. Oddly enough, I felt ok up until about 2pm. The past four hours have been pretty close to unbearable. The cravings come about every two minutes and they come with a fury. When I sit through them, I get dizzy, or I begin to sweat. I can't sit still. I just want to put an end to this desire. But I won't.

RJ Reynolds can KISS MY ASS. You had a grip on me for 17 years but it's over. You will never see another penny of my money.

I hate tobacco companies. But I don't really blame them for my addiction. I was 17 years old and old enough to make the right decision. I made the wrong one. And I've now been hooked for half of my life. But I did visit the RJ Reynolds website tonight. Ya see, I need fuel to keep strong.

I found their job opportunities section quite amusing:

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (R.J. Reynolds) faces challenges that are unique compared to most other consumer-product companies, and we recognize that some people do not wish to pursue career opportunities in the tobacco industry.

For those who might consider our company, however, it is important to know that we emphasize finding innovative ways to operate within the framework of a principled approach to product development, manufacturing, marketing and selling. To learn more see the company's Guiding Principles and Beliefs.

R.J. Reynolds offers a level of challenge, responsibility and creativity for motivated employees that stands apart from the crowd. Our company has always had an extremely low turnover rate among our employees.

Again, I don't blame the tobacco companies, but I do think that they have *some* responsibility here. Who in the WORLD could work for such scum? I guess it's the same folks who walk the halls of Exxon or the White House.

Ok, I got that all out. For the moment, the cravings have drifted. But they'll be back and they'll be strong. But only for a few days or weeks. Either way, it doesn't matter - I'm done. For good.

34

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It's pretty amazing how much one can mature in such a short period of time. I've made so many changes in my life over the past year that it even shocks me. The majority of them have clearly been positive moves, while others remain a bit hazy, meaning that I'm growing comfortable with them, but the end result is still a bit uncertain.

I don't particularly know why, but 2007 has been a major year of reflection and internal discovery. It almost feels as if everything up to this point was practice. I've learned more about myself this year than I probably have all years prior combined. And through it all, so many things just seem better. Music has more of an impact. Friendships and family have taken on a new, much deeper, meaning. The things around me are much more visible. Things that I once essentially ignored, trees, the sky, the wind, now appear to be ever-present. Sometimes I feel as if I'm opening my eyes for the first time.

Life just holds much more meaning. This meaning was always there, but for some reason, I didn't completely see it. I do now. And I can only imagine that I'll see more and more of it in the coming days. It's a pretty great feeling. And I wouldn't be here without the wonderful people in my life. Some of you I connect with daily, yet others are more infrequent, yet just as important.

It's a good time.

Album of the Day

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The Major Labels' Spiral

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It's astounding the mistakes that the majors continue to make. This bulletin was sent out by artist signed to Universal.

Hey everyone...bad news. Due to circumstances beyond my control I have to swap the songs out on my page for 90 second versions instead of full length versions. In fact some of the songs have already been swapped as I write this.

Every artist signed to a Universal label has to comply immediately.

You can listen to full versions of some of my songs on my personal webpage www.ifidontsellamillionrecordsiwillbedropped.com (that site is obviously made up). I will make sure that the songs that were available here are available there as soon as possible.

I apologize to everyone for the inconvenience especially those that use my songs for personal profiles. Hopefully the politics involved here gets worked out soon and we can return to full length songs as soon as possible. Thank you everyone for your continued support!!

A Nuclear Era

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Republicans Debate

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I turned this on for one minute and the following is what I heard:

Fred Thompson: "I think our #1 priority should be overturning Roe v. Wade". This should be the country's #1 PRIORITY?!?!? Who listens to this garbage and does not find such a statement completely absurd?

I am turning this crap off right now.

The Future (Sure) Is Unwritten

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and will be playing for the rest of the week: The Clash and everything related to Joe Strummer and Mick Jones. I just watched "The Future is Unwritten" and I plan on dedicating the next few days to Strummer's music. There's nothing I can say about Strummer that hasn't already been said, but man could this country/world use his presence right now. Where are the artists/writers who need to speak out about what's going on this world? I know of very few out there. Joe spoke loudly. And people gave a shit.

My Interview with Josh Ritter

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http://www.jambase.com/Articles/Story.aspx?StoryID=11918

For those too lazy to copy a link:

JOSH RITTER'S CONQUESTS

When I first heard Josh Ritter's new record The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (released August 21 by Sony) I was left nearly speechless. It was the first record in probably a decade that nailed me at the core. It was part Bob Dylan circa Highway 61 Revisited, part Brian Wilson and part Nick Drake, yet it was completely fresh and original - sprawling, loud, angry, despondent, depressing, uplifting, heartfelt and just about every other emotion. I had the same feeling in my gut the first time I heard Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run and Richard Buckner's Devotion & Doubt.

After a few months of absorbing this masterpiece, nothing has changed. Every time I listen, I find something new - an outstanding line, a startling musical progression. One song proves impossible not to sing while walking down the street, while another causes me to pause and ponder something existential. I can't remember the last time I experienced a piece of art – be it music, literature or film - that elicited so much in me. I fully realize this may sound like hyperbole but after months of letting this record seep into me I can say with certainty that this feeling isn't going away anytime soon.

On a beautiful San Francisco day in late October, JamBase had the opportunity to sit down with Ritter prior to his performance at Bimbo's 365 Club. As the band got ready inside, Ritter and I sat on his tour bus to talk. His demeanor immediately put me at ease, and his sense of humor and appreciation for his fans only enhanced my appreciation for his art.

Let's hear your thoughts on the new record.

I had it in my head that when I made The Animal Years that I'd want to make a totally different record after that. That was partially because a record you make that has a specific motive in your own mind you can't really do it over again. You don't want to make that same record by mistake. So, when it came time to make Conquest I had to take my hands off the wheel and make a record that was fun. It wasn't about explaining anything to myself. As it turns out, I [usually] look back and say, "This is something that I could've held onto a little harder." Like I didn't hold onto the idea hard enough. This was the first record where I felt like everything was set up - from working with Sam [Kassirer, producer and keyboardist on Conquest], to the place we recorded, to the situation I was in at the time - to make a record that was my own idea. It was all mine.

And you were in-between labels at the time, right?

I was in-between labels. I felt like I had nothing to prove. I had written as complex as I wanted to do on The Animal Years. I felt like I could just go and write.

Would you call this a concept album?

I try and stay away from concept albums. In a lot of ways, they harness a song to an idea rather than an idea to a song. I feel like, well, this is my country record, but maybe it would've been something else if you hadn't forced it into that situation. On each record, themes pop up that surprise me. Each record has images that come to the front. On Hello Starling, it was all windows. The last record [The Animal Years] was Southern Illinois. This record, I think about those pictures of the fool on tarot cards. He's kind of walking along the edge of a cliff. He's reaching for something. You don't know if he's at the edge of the cliff, if he's walking along it or if he's just going to careen. I think a lot of the stuff on this record is that moment [where] a fight's about to start, you're about to fall in love, you're about to press the button. It's the immediacy that I really wanted to have. It's not so much a concept [as] some symbols that came out, like a political record. Records don't have to be political consciously to be about the politics of the time. We write about what we see, what's happening around us.

I read that you mentioned writers such as Paul Auster and Raymond Carver, as well as Christopher Hitchens and Thomas Ricks as influences. How do writers of fiction versus writers of current events influence you?

Every idea we put in our head influences us. I don't think I've picked up a book in ten years without hoping that it wouldn't push me towards a song. If you're pouring in ingredients you're going to make something. Sitting down and writing a song about [Thomas E.] Ricks' Fiasco [The American Military Adventure in Iraq] would be kind of backwards for me. You have to pour it out and mix that in with whatever else. It works best if you don't lend yourself into a specific style or genre. You move all over and all those things mix up.

Switching gears, I saw you on YouTube at the Springsteen tribute. I then read that you met Springsteen that night. Was this the first time that you met?

Yeah. It was right as I was about to go on and someone put their hand on my shoulder. I was freaking because Patti Smith was about to go on. And Carnegie Hall was amazing. It was just a pleasure to meet him. I really don't feel like I have to meet any of the people I love like that. How do you like the new Springsteen record?

I'm mixed. I love "Terry's Song" but I need to listen to the album more.

He's certainly never made himself into a coffee table gig.

Exactly. He still does right by his fans. I actually first heard Springsteen when I was about five. That's what led me into this industry.

My dad bought my mom Sgt. Pepper's when I was ten. The record came out four days before my parents got married.

What about the covers you're playing? What made you choose Springsteen's "The River?"

Well, I played that at the Springsteen tribute. It's kind of about the changes that happen in your life. It's kind of like the sublime moment where you know something's happening and you have no power. You're the witness to your own part in it [and] you have no power to change it and you know it's going to affect you. It's the power to see the immediate future. That's what Springsteen's songs are about to me. It's just a killer. "Body tan down at the reservoir." All of The River is an amazing record, that and "Stolen Car." I feel like "The River" is the ultimate for me.

What about playing solo versus with the band?

Both are necessary, I think. I started playing solo. The energy's very different. With a solo show, you have a cable that connects you and the audience. They're really pushing you forward into the audience and back. It's much more amorphous. I really enjoy it. Playing with a band, I can create a whole new set of emotions that I couldn't do on my own. But nothing gets you sharper than playing solo. At the same time, you can't even approach the highs you get playing with a band.

What about the references to the band in the song "Rumors?"

I was mostly listening to hip-hop when making the record - Biggie, Lupe Fiasco and Jay-Z. There's violence in it but there's always a wink behind it all. There's some funny stuff in there. It's very dark and strange but it's also super creative. I like that cohesive unit of someone in a band, like me and my friends are going to fuck you up. But, there's always a total wink behind it. I like that feeling of capturing a whole different sound and song. It's like you climbed a fence and you're in a whole new pasture that's all your own. It feels like someone's handing you a balloon.

Like on "Mind's Eye" it sounds like you're pissed.

There is [anger] but you can't tie yourself totally to a character. It's more fun than being yourself, and a lot of the time, much more satisfying artistically. It's not so much anger as getting into the feeling. Okay, yes it is anger [laughs]. It's never satisfying staying that mad for that long.

What about "The Temptation of Adam?"

I didn't write that in the studio. That was a lucky one that came into my head. It felt like a play or a short story. I wrote about eight drafts, all the symbols that are there. It's supposed to be a song about regular people. The situation is fantastical, like the Garden of Eden or fish in an aquarium, but it's just a couple people falling in love, but realizing that real life is creeping in.

How is it now being on a major label?

I think these guys [Sony BMG] are doing a kick ass job. I talked to a lot of people but I figured why not? I wanted the record to come out this year. I wanted people who know how to sell a lot of records, but I wanted someone to leave the art side to me, and they're letting me do that. Whether you're on a tiny label or a big label, you pay to play. They haven't tried to direct me. I think it's hard these days for a record label to start a new act. You have to work with a label. You have to do a lot of legwork. It's so easy to blame the majors but at the end of the day you're the person in charge of your career. Not to say that they're saints but the people I'm working with are doing an amazing job.

Last night I was writing these questions and listening to "Empty Hearts" and there was a moment where I got choked up. What is it like knowing you can impact your fans that much?

It feels like a fairly new thing. When I first started selling my records and doing open mics, if I could sell a couple I was over the moon. I really needed the money. When somebody bought a record that was money in my pocket. I never really thought that they'd listen to the record. I mostly thought they were being nice. People who actually go out and buy records still, that's incredible because you don't have to anymore. The thing that you hope to do is have something be accepted in the spirit that it's offered. You kind of have to write to yourself, saying the things that you need to hear for yourself. And you try to write it in a generous enough way that other people can see themselves in that same situation. Leonard Cohen said that you shouldn't be the one declaiming it. People shouldn't be thinking about you but the poem. If people are influenced or involved in the songs it's because I was lucky enough to say something the right way for myself. Then when I'm onstage, I really want to influence people. I want people to feel things when they come to a show. But, when I'm writing I try to say things for myself the way I would want them said to me.

JamBase | Idaho
Go See Live Music!

My E-Mail to DNC Chair, Howard Dean

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Dear Governor Dean,

I have been a long-time supporter of the Democratic Party (although only 34 years old), and despite my objections with the lackluster efforts since we took back Congress in 2006, I remain aligned with the Democrats.

I quit my job in late 2003 to volunteer for the Kerry campaign (well before any of the primaries) and worked for his campaign (gratis) for about eight months. When my money ran out, I had to return to work. However, this election was too important for me to sit on the sidelines. Although I'm making this very simplistic, I firmly believe that if Senator Kerry took on the Swift Boaters he'd be in the White House right now. I digress.

My reason for writing revolves around my grave concern about the upcoming presidential election. As I'm sure you're keenly aware, this is an absolutely critical election. Both 2000 and 2004 were extremely important to the future of this great nation, and we've all witnessed the horrific results of losing those elections.

I will get to the point. We *must* have a candidate who can win nationally. And as much as I believe in many of her causes, Senator Clinton is NOT the answer. If we choose her as the nominee, the possibility of yet *another* defeat (in a year that should be fairly easy for the dems to win) is too much of a risk.

Many say that Barack Obama is the alternative. After watching every democratic debate, I disagree. I like Senator Obama, but he is not seasoned enough and the debates have proven this.

The answer is Senator John Edwards. He is passionate. He is strong. He is from the South. He *will* win the general election. I realize that you have much greater knowledge of this than I do, but my gut and my research keep leading me back to Edwards. I implore you to give this serious consideration.

Oh, and if you're looking for any folks in the Bay Area to join the cause, I am more that simply interested. I firmly believe that I can help your party.

I appreciate your time, Governor Dean.

All the best,
Mr. Bandwagon

Nathan Moore's "In His Own Worlds"

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I knew I jumped the gun when I posted my Top Ten of '07 before Thanksgiving. Over the past few days, I have absolutely fallen in love with Nathan Moore's "In His Own Worlds".

Until last week, I had never heard a note by Moore. A good friend of mine had been pushing his music on me for weeks, but I was too caught up in Dylan, Joe Henry and, of course, Ritter. I finally got around to buying Moore's new record a few days ago. Floored. I'm still listening, but I would gather that this would probably be my #2 for the year, behind Ritter. It's that good. "So Close To Dreams" would also easily have made my 2007 Mix.

Buy this record. It's available at CD Baby or eMusic. I went ahead and also bought "Sad Songs Make Me Happy". I will report on that one later.

Thanks, Fred.

Abridged Bandwagon Address

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If I'm not bookmarked, you can now access my crap blog by simply typing in www.ccsbandwagon.com.

I'm also going to spend some time making it look nicer or not nicer, depending on your taste.

In the meantime, listen to Nathan Moore's new record.

I'm Not There

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Todd Haynes doing a Dylan biopic did not sound like a great idea to me. For one, I'm not a big fan of Haynes at all. Although critically adored, I thought "Far From Heaven" was absolutely dreadful. "Safe" was pretty good, but to my eyes, that was about all that he'd done worth anything.

I suppose there are many angles and approaches to Dylan, but two of the greatest rock n' roll movies ever done were about him ("Don't Look Back" and "No Direction Home"). This only added to my feelings that this was likely going to be a bomb.

Nope. This movie moved me on so many levels. First off, the music is fantastic, mixing Bob's recordings with new takes by many of today's most important artists. And then there were the stories. The Woody Guthrie/Dylan character was wonderful. The porch scene with little Bob, Richie Havens and another fella doing "Tombstone Blues" sent shivers up and down my spine. The scene with Bob doing "Pressing On" (sung by John Doe) was another moment that elicited chills. I loved Richard Gere's little story. And Cate Blanchett playing a disgruntled Dylan and shedding light on that side of Bob that intrigues many of us the most: who he is/was, what drives him, how he explains it all, even when he's explaining nothing.

I saw "No Country For Old Men" on Friday and walked out disappointed. I caught "I'm Not There" Saturday night and I've spent most of the day today listening to Dylan, especially this fantastic soundtrack.

There is so much depth to this movie. I need to see it again. And again. "I'm Not There" - the best movie I've seen in 2007.

"Tombstone Blues"

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Top Albums 1990 - 2007

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I'm doing this solely based on the data in iTunes.

07 - JOSH RITTER / THE HISTORICAL CONQUESTS OF JOSH RITTER
06 - BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN / WE SHALL OVERCOME: THE SEEGER SESSIONS
05 - AIMEE MANN / THE FORGOTTEN ARM
04 - ARCADE FIRE / FUNERAL
03 - THE WRENS / THE MEADOWLANDS
02 - WILCO / YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT
01 - BOB DYLAN / LOVE & THEFT
00 - ELLIOTT SMITH / FIGURE 8
99 - WILCO / SUMMERTEETH
98 - SON VOLT / WIDE SWING TREMOLO
97 - RICHARD BUCKNER / DEVOTION & DOUBT
96 - WILCO / BEING THERE
95 - SON VOLT / TRACE
94 - JOHNNY CASH / AMERICAN RECORDINGS
93 - UNCLE TUPELO / ANODYNE
92 - JOE HENRY / SHORT MAN'S ROOM
91 - UNCLE TUPELO / STILL FEEL GONE
90 - YO LA TENGO / FAKEBOOK

Top 10 Albums of 2007

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It's early, but I'm ready to get this one out of the way. I've already shared my 2007 Mix and later I'll post a miscellaneous best of list, but let's get the best records out of the way. As always with my Best of Albums, this is subject to change the second that I publish it.

1 JOSH RITTER - THE HISTORICAL CONQUESTS OF JOSH RITTER
2 OKKERVIL RIVER - THE STAGE NAMES
3 JOE HENRY - CIVILIANS
4 WILCO - SKY BLUE SKY
5 THE ARCADE FIRE - NEON BIBLE
6 LIZ PAPPADEMAS - 11 SONGS
7 SOLAL - THE MOONSHINE SESSIONS
8 SCOTT MILLER & THE COMMONWEALTH - RECONSTRUCTION
9 MARK OLSON - THE SALVATION BLUES
10 JOSH ROUSE - COUNTRY MOUSE, CITY HOUSE

Almost: The National/Boxer, Band of Horses/Cease To Begin, Explosions In the Sky/All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, Nathan Moore/In His Own Words, John Doe/A Year In the Wilderness, The Gourds/Noble Creatures, Flight of the Conchords/The Distant Future (EP), Elliott Smith/New Moon, Deerhoof/Friend Opportunity

The End of America?

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Just as I say that I'm turning a corner, I stumble upon this: http://www.alternet.org/rights/68399/

Thanksgiving

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I have recently made a pledge to myself to do my best to steer clear of all of things that bring me down. For example, watching ANY network news, getting frustrated over the corruption that is my insurance carrier (Blue Shield), the growing crime in my home city and countless other things.

Tomorrow I will spend Thanksgiving here in SF with my girlfriend and a few close friends, and three cats.

This may be corny, but I need to write down some of the things that I feel grateful for this past year.

-Phone calls from my mother
-Every time N laughs
-My amazing friendships all over, but in the past year, the number of great friendships that have developed here in SF
-Josh Ritter
-My trip to Oregon a few months ago
-Witnessing my sister and Thurm getting married (not to each other)
-Boppa
-Live music
-My music collection
-The New Yorker
-The cows that I saw in some field in Oregon
-All the times that N makes me smile
-Thurm's trip out here
-Causes
-Slint & Daniel Johnston @ Bimbo's
-Being able to afford my rent
-Mountains
-Ping Pong
-Looking to 1/09
-The cat that's always in my backyard
-Good people
-Bidding farewell to some things
-Today
-Pictures
-Dogs
-Jeff Tweedy
-Russ Feingold
-Blouse
-Laughs

New Discoveries

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It's just endless.

www.percyboyd.com

2007 Mix

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As always, my Best of 2007 mix contains 17 songs. This is the first installment of what will be many Best of lists for this year, including Top Ten Records, Best Shows and some other shit.

"The Academy of Trust" / Solal
"Freedom's a Stranger" / Scott Miller & The Commonwealth
"John Allyn Smith Sails" / Okkervil River
"Nice To Fit In" / Josh Rouse
"Start a War" / The National
"Window Blues" / Band of Horses
"Mind's Eye" / Josh Ritter
"Intervention" / The Arcade Fire
"The Golden State" / John Doe
"Our Song" / Joe Henry
"Side With the Seeds" / Wilco
"Loma Prieta" / Liz Pappademas
"The Temptation of Adam" / Josh Ritter
"You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" / Spoon
"Simple Twist of Fate" / Jeff Tweedy
"More Lights" / Georgie James
"Great Atomic Power" / Charlie Louvin

Next Stop

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I often mull where I'll move to next, if/when I decide to leave San Francisco. I don't see this happening any time soon as I've grown to like this city quite a bit, but I'm guessing that I'll feel the urge at some point. Maybe. Lately I've thought about some possibilities: Portland/OR, Spain, Iceland, New Zealand, Stockholm, Melbourne, Croatia, Vancouver.

Tonight I stumbled upon Mercer Human Resource Consulting's list of the Top 100 Most Livable Cities "based on 39 key quality-of-life issues. They include political stability, currency-exchange regulations, political and media censorship, school quality, housing, the environment and public safety."

Here's the Top 20:
1 Zurich, Switzerland
2 Geneva, Switzerland
3 Vancouver, Canada
4 Vienna, Austria
5 Auckland, New Zealand
6 Dusseldorf, Germany
7 Frankfurt, Germany
8 Munich, Germany
9 Bern, Switzerland
9 Sydney, Australia
11 Copenhagen, Denmark
12 Wellington, New Zealand
13 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
14 Brussels, Belgium
15 Toronto, Canada
16 Berlin, Germany
17 Melbourne, Australia
18 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
18 Ottawa, Canada
20 Stockholm, Sweden

Do Switzerland and Germany really rule this much?

Oh, and SF checks in at #29 (second in the US to Honolulu, HI at #27).

My lucky number is 17. Melbourne?

John Lennon's "God"

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God is a Concept by which
we measure our pain
I'll say it again
God is a Concept by which
we measure our pain
I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in Kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me
Yoko and me
That's reality

The dream is over
What can I say?
the Dream is Over
Yesterday
I was the Dreamweaver
But now I'm reborn
I was the Walrus
But now I'm John
and so dear friends
you'll just have to carry on
The Dream is over

Radio Mix

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My company just launched this new mix tape thing. See if you like the product, and more importantly, listen to my tunes.

Guest List: Me

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The one area of Pitchfork that I still read is the Guest List section. Although I find some of their questions to be budget, I still like to read what some of my favorite artists are listening to, etc. I've invited myself to their Guest List.

>>Favorite New Songs From the Past Year

Josh Ritter "The Temptation of Adam". This songs sums up a lot of the emotions I've been feeling given the current administration. I mean, there's this message that love seems to override anything, even the eventual apocalypse. There's this notion that connecting with people is quite possibly the most important human activity that exists.

Liz Pappademas "Loma Prieta". Absolutely stunning. The fear that takes hold of a child during a time of chaos, and that child's need for parental love and calming. Just beautiful.

>>Favorite Older Songs at the Moment

It's not that old, but Bonnie "Prince" Billy's "Hard Life" has been a favorite this year. Aside from his new record, basically every songs that Will Oldham touches is amazing. I've also been all over Slint's "Good Morning, Captain" after seeing their amazing show at Bimbo's a few months back. And then there's Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You in the End". I suppose we're all on that search. And then there's "These Days" by both Jackson Browne and Nico.

>>Favorite New Band

Flight of the Conchords. Or maybe Grizzly Bear. And Absentee.

>>Favorite Song Ever

This is f'n impossible. But if I had to pick one, just one, it would probably be Springsteen's "Thunder Road". I've probably heard this song just shy of 10,000 times in my life and it still sounds brand new. For me, it represents personal freedom and the desire to explore, get out, break out.

>>Last Great Film I Saw

"Jonestown". I will confess: I knew close to nothing about the Jonestown massacres. This probably made this movie better. Either way, it was a fantastic documentary.

>>Last Great Book I Read

Probably Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". I realize it's an obvious choice, and I don't think it lived up to the hype, but it was really good.

>>Favorite Piece of Musical Equipment

The flute/recorder I played in second grade.

>>Favorite Record Shop

Currently, I suppose I'll go with Amoeba here in SF. It really has just about everything, except for the Scud Mountain Boys record I've been seeking out and the first Jayhawks record. All time? Probably Holy Cow in Brooklyn. I lived right around the corner and man did I love stopping in there every weekend.

>>Best Purchase of the Past Year

Josh Ritter's "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter". Or maybe the ipod nano that I bought for my girlfriend just because she loves it so much.

>>Best Thing I Did This Year

Quit drinking. And taking the trip to Oregon with my girlfriend.

>>Favorite Music Venue

Here in SF it would have to be Bimbo's - the sound is just fantastic. Nationwide...I'm not sure if it's still great, but an old-time favorite was The Paradise in Boston - what a great, cozy, intimate room. And I miss The Bowery Ballroom in NYC.

>>Favorite TV Show at the Moment

"Tell Me You Love Me" on HBO. If you can get past the first two or so episodes, you'll find a real treasure.

>>Favorite Video Game at the Moment

I haven't played a video game since Vectrex or Colecovision. Ok, I used to play some hoops games on Nintendo at a friend's apartment in NYC, but I haven't played a video game in years.

>>Favorite Radio Show

I listen to NPR online sometimes, but that's about it. The radio in my car hasn't been turned on since I bought the car in early 2005.

>>My Ringtone

I detest ringtones. I'm actually starting to detest cell phones in general because folks seem to have taken the liberty to talk at top volumes no matter where they are. But I need it for work. I have a standard ringer. I also like vibrate because it's hot.

The Majors: 360 Deals

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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/arts/music/11leed.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=music

I don't know enough about these deals to really comment, but I do have an immediate reaction (which could shift as I learn more about them). After years of feeling that the major labels have taken SERIOUS advantage of artists and their fans, I'm extremely skeptical of this new model. To combat my disdain for the majors, instead of focusing on buying my favorite bands' new recordings, I've tried to get my money direct to the artists. I have done this by going to shows, picking up a t-shirt at almost every show and trying to get my expendable "music cash" direct to the artists.

With majors now looking to take increase artists' share of cd/digital sales (something they should have done decades ago), I find it somewhat deplorable that they're looking to milk the artists of their true direct revenue sources: live shows and merchandise. If this takes hold, and the bands I love fall into this apparent trap, I really won't know how to financially support the artist's I love. If the majors will now grab 30% of concert tickets and merchandise, I can only imagine that I won't be spending NEARLY as much money on these things. Which is a damn shame. I love going to see live music, and I love to pick up a new t-shirt knowing that a good portion of that $15-$20 is going direct to the band.

This sounds like the same old song and dance from the major record labels. After shutting down the original Napster and doing everything imaginable to destroy unique and creative business models, I am extremely skeptical about this. As the majors try to make it appear as if they're changing their tune, they continue to push the RIAA to sue those who truly love music.

Again, I need to learn more about this model. But if it's what it sounds like, I can't urge artists enough to avoid the majors. Go with an indie label that would truly develop your career and treat you fairly. Or find a great manager, booking agent and publicity company and go it alone.

Fans desperately want to be able to support the artists that they love. Fans no longer want these huge, greedy corporations in the way. We want you to continue to deliver your art and we want to support YOU. Let us do that.

The Political Life - Follow-Up

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This is what I want:

The Political Life

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As any reader of my blog knows, I am extremely passionate about politics. I long to find leaders to believe in. I see faults in our presidential candidates and our current members of Congress, but I somehow stay engaged and try to believe. But lately I've come to realize that I'm running out of steam. Perhaps it's just a phase. I mean, it's somehow ingrained in me to fight for truth, justice, equality and understanding. I write government officials when I disagree with them. I've fought insurance companies but have almost always come out on the losing end. Corporate greed makes me ill, and I often write e-mails to the most corrupt corporations out there.

But again, I feel like I'm running out of gas. Plain and simple, I'm becoming exhausted by the fight. No matter how hard I try, nothing seems to change. Sure, there are tiny wins, like when the dems took over the Congress in '06, but their pathetic tenure just furthers my desire to move towards apathy.

I mean, wouldn't I be happier if I just ceased paying attention? Sure, that's throwing in the towel, but I've come to realize that it's just too exhausting to try and effect change. Our government and the corporations that watch us all from above are almost impossible to reach. They have too much power. And a little guy like me just isn't heard.

This is all very saddening to me. But instead of spending my time writing letters that go nowhere, speaking up to anyone who will listen, and volunteering for causes that I believe in, maybe it's just time to step away. Maybe I should get back to the things that give me joy: music, literature, film, nature, my girlfriend, my family, my amazing friendships. Maybe I should stop looking so big picture and simply immerse myself in the small world that puts a smile on my face. I've been thinking about this for weeks, and I think it might be time. No more network news, no more checking blogs numerous times a day, no more refreshing nytimes.com countless times a day. Maybe I should check out for a while.

I want a better world, but perhaps I should sit on the sidelines for a while and just cross my fingers. I hate to even be considering this route, but I think it's necessary right now. I need less disappointment and more fulfillment. And I know I can find the latter right around me.

Dead Kennedys Vocalist on US Politics

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I can't say that I know their music that well, but this is pretty classic.

In Jello Biafra we trust


Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra has spent his career railing against the religious right and the idle rich. In the run up to the US election Tony Naylor hears his manifesto for change

Saturday November 3, 2007
The Guardian

Scan the potential US presidential candidates, both Republican and Democrat, and what do you see? Idiots, automatons, religious nutters, corporate lackeys, war mongers and, worst of all, career politicians.

But there is an alternative: Jello Biafra, lead ranter of hardcore punks, the Dead Kennedys. The 49-year-old Biafra once stood for election as mayor of San Francisco - he came fourth out of 10 candidates, winning 3.5% of the vote, with a platform including a proposal to force all businessmen to wear clown suits to the office. Then, in 2000, he briefly ran for the US Green Party's presidential nomination.

Article continues
Since Dead Kennedys split in 1986, Biafra has kept up a hectic schedule of spoken-word albums and gigs (he tours Britain this month), political activism and music projects. He's not always right. Hell, he's not always on the right planet. But this one-man war against complacency asks awkward questions, and isn't afraid of radical solutions. Last year, he even offered to tour with Britney Spears if it would "stop the war and bring down the Bush dictatorship".

As for the current crop of "coin-operated" candidates jockeying for the top job? "Fuck them all," says Jello, and that includes Barack Obama. "All the energy we're putting into this we could be putting into getting the troops out of Iraq and preventing escalation of the war into Iran."

Which begs the question: what would Jello do differently? When America finally sees sense and makes him president, what can the world expect?

Troops out of Iraq

"It's very colonial of us to assume that Iraq can't get its shit together unless there's a bunch of white people occupying the country. That's obscene. The closest thing to a workable proposal was put forward by the 57-country Islamic Conference Organisation. Six of them offered to pony up enough soldiers so that all the Americans and British, the coalition of the killing, could go home. Colin Powell, that noted pacifist, dismissed it because the ICO wanted their troops under UN command, not American."

Engage Chavez

"I like some things about [Venezuela president, Hugo] Chavez, but the more he cracks down on freedom of speech, the more he scares me. I'd try and be engage him rather than getting hostile. His UN speech about Bush leaving the stench of sulphur on the podium was hilarious. But that plays into the hands of the media who love to portray him as the modern Idi Amin."

Law and disorder

"Much as we hate hard drugs, a percentage of our population is going to be addicted. It's nature, it happens in the animal kingdom: even elephants get wasted and rampage from time-to-time. If people must do drugs they should be able to obtain them free from a government centre. They don't have to rob and kill to pay the mob's prices, so crime goes down. It's a very law and order position. I learned the hard way to be careful with [drugs], only do them a few times, learn what you can and move on. I figure if I'm going to speak on drugs, I should try them all but I've never been eager to smoke crack, and I hated heroin."

Make US cops stand for election

"US cops are like a biker gang. They don't obey the law and their main interest is in protecting their own power. Make all officers stand for election. That way they'd have to live in the neighbourhoods they patrol and meet people, rather than hiding in their cars and only jumping out when they want to beat the crap out of somebody."

Pay celebs maximum wage

"Maybe $200,000, then we get payback. Finally America would have the money to build a proper rail system, free healthcare, free education. People who get obsessed with making more and more money are like crack heads. Wealth addiction dwarfs the damage done by drug addiction. But if people like Tiger Woods, David Beckham and Paris Hilton were put through rehab, through a maximum wage, I bet even they could someday do good."

State subsidaries for bands

"People say, 'get government off our backs'. Do you want corporations instead? You shouldn't have to sign with Sony in order to make music. We've had terrible trouble at [Biafra's label] Alternative Tentacles with bands breaking up because they have classes to attend or student loans to pay back or jobs they hate but can't leave because it's the only way to pay skyrocketing rents. A case in point: the Phantom Limbs, one of the most unique bands to come out of the hardcore scene in years, like a punk Gilbert & Sullivan gone drastically wrong. The punk crowd went wild for them, but they pulled the plug after two albums."

Vote for the Pope

"If you don't like any candidates you vote None Of The Above and if NOTA wins, the election is rerun with new candidates. Think of all the megalomaniacs we could get rid of. Although, another way is to follow the example of a world leader I truly admire, Pope John Paul I. He reached the pinnacle and died 30 days later. Maybe that's what we should do with the office of president. 'OK, you can be president, but 30 days later you croak'."

Vandalise SUVs

"In Maine, some people made counterfeit traffic tickets and ran around writing-up SUV owners as 'Earth criminals'. Then, in Santa Cruz, someone spray-painted dozens of SUVs in one night. The corporate media presented this as some terrible affront to civilisation, which was hilarious. We need a new law that owners of SUVs are automatically in the military reserve. Then they can go get their own goddamn oil."

Clinton 46% Giuliani 45%

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Those are the current numbers if these two win their respective nominations. A friend also told me that evidently 55% of married men in the US will not vote for Clinton under any conditions.

Given the Bush presidency, how can the democrats have a 1% lead right now? The answer is simple: Hillary Clinton. Too many people in this country detest her and I don't see that changing. That said, Howard Dean needs to round up the troops and walk away from Clinton. Now! They can't afford to wait longer, continue to pour money into her campaign, and then let the floodgates open for the attacks. Remember her immigration waffling in last week's debate? The republicans are going to play that OVER AND OVER and we're going to see another John Kerry.

Nearly all polls suggest that this country wants major change. Hillary Clinton is not the answer to that desire.

I see two people that will handily take back the White House for the democrats: Al Gore or John Edwards. Since Gore has yet to enter (and most say that he won't), the democratic party should put all of their ammunition behind John Edwards. He's a Southerner, he has strong positions and convictions. He was the first to put out a comprehensive health care program. He is the change that this country wants. Is he perfect? No, but he's the guy we need.

Barack Obama? I think he could be a future president but not in the next year. He's too inexperienced and the right-wing attack dogs will likely bury him.

John Edwards has been through a presidential campaign, he knows how to fight and he's ready to lead this country. Even after an outstanding performance in last week's debate, he is still at around 11%. I don't know how this is possible, other than the feeling that no one's paying attention. Well, I'm paying attention. The democratic party should be as well.

Schumer and Feinstein

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Once again, the democrats kick and scream and then cave. If you haven't heard, Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein voted Yes in the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of Michael Mukasey as the next Attorney General. Yup, this is a guy who isn't sure if waterboarding is torture. With their votes, Mukasey is almost certain to become our next Attorney General, following the glowing legacies of Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft.

I ask once again: Where is my party? Oh right, they've been gone for years. The excitement we felt when they took over the House and Senate in '06 has resulting in one disappointment after another. They should just come out and admit that they fear Bush. They're terrified of *really* taking him to task and this is downright laughable.

I have a hard time calling myself a democrat anymore. And that's because the leaders of my "party" are not democrats.

Bryan's Song - Volume 1

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I promised my buddy Bryan three mix cds for finishing up a big project at work. I finished up the first set tonight.

Civil War - Joe Henry
PCH One - Pernice Brothers
Blame It On the Tetons - Josh Ritter
Go Walking Down There - Chris Isaak
No Regrets - The V-Roys
More Troubles - Absentee
The Golden State - John Doe
There She Goes - The La's
One of These Things First - Nick Drake
We Dance - Pavement
Oklahoma, USA - Yo La Tengo
Start a War - The National
Just Like a Woman - Bob Dylan
Feel Free - Jay Farrar
Grievances - Daniel Johnston
Michigan - Josh Rouse
Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks

Bob Dylan in Disguise

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Bob Dylan appearing in a Cadillac Escalade ad? This can't be Dylan. It just can't be.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/automobiles/04DYLAN.html/partner/rssnyt?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

John Edwards & Joe Biden

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With Al Gore seemingly out of this presidential race, after watching numerous debates and following the democratic field for some time now, I will now only be pleased if either John Edwards or Joseph Biden win the nomination and land in the White House. Both are longshots at this point, with Biden's chances being extremely slim at best, however, these are the only candidates that I have faith in.

I watched Hillary and Barack last night and TRIED to believe in one of them, but they virtually did nothing for me. Once Hillary voted in favor of the Iran resolution, and then waffled endlessly about immigration last night, I've completely lost faith in her. Obama? There are things I like about him, but he's WAY too unseasoned. Most of his answers seem overly rehearsed, and when caught off-guard, he seems to just jump around in hopes of landing on a position. All told, I don't really understand the Obama hype. He hasn't impressed me at all.

Anyone who knows me knows quite well how disgusted I am with the state of American politics. Many agree that the current administration will likely go down as the worst administration in US history (you're soon to be off the hook James Buchanan), but I'm amazed at how little is being offered in 2008. At such a critical time in the history of America and the World, the best the democrats can offer is Hillary Clinton? I loved Bill, but Hillary? I may side with her on some issues, but she's a pandering politician just like many of the buffons running on the other side.

Will this country take a CLOSE LOOK at these candidates and not just jump on the Obama or Clinton bandwagon. John Edwards and Joe Biden are the only answers. These guys aren't perfect, but for the most part they stand up for what they believe in. They speak openly and take risks. Up until recently, I was firmly set on John Edwards, but I think I'm starting to lead towards Biden.

Given a potential job change in the near future, I've had to think about places outside of SF that I'd consider living. And ya know what, there's only one answer that I've come up with: Outside of the United States. If Rudy or Mitt land on Penn Ave., I really think that I'm gone. If It's Hillary, I may take the same road.

I'm tired. I'm tired of it all. I'm sick of insurance companies. I'm disgusted by corporate greed. Fear tactics make me want to vomit. Discrimination makes me embarassed to be an American. The thirst for blood in the souls of the current administration makes me angry beyond words.

We need more. I barely recognize this country anymore. And if things don't change, I may not have to.

"Tell Me You Love Me"

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HBO remains the sole reason why I won't cancel cable. Ok, and maybe Animal Planet.

I watched the first episode of "Tell Me You Love Me" about a month ago and found that the gratuitous sex scenes were a bit absurd. I liked the character development, but the over-the-top sex scenes seemed to be a cheap way try and lure in viewers. About a week later, I decided to give it one more shot. And now I'm hooked. I just finished watching episode 9 and I can barely wait for the season finale. This is the best show about the highs lows and in-betweens of relationships that I've seen in ages.

As anyone who knows me knows, I am sucker for media with character development. Whether it be the writing of Paul Auster or Haruki Murakami, films such as "Ordinary People" or "You Can Count On Me, or the lyrics of Jeff Tweedy or Bruce Springsteen, I am always roped in by art that involves deep character analysis and development. "Tell Me You Love Me" is probably the best example of this on television right now. As we all know too well, relationships are complex, rewarding, saddening, troubling and a million other adjectives. I've always found human interaction, love, friendship and so forth to be extremely compelling. This show has all of it.

Next week is the final episode of the season. Given that I've heard literally nothing about this show, I can only guess that the ratings aren't great. That said, I truly hope that HBO holds onto this one. There's so much meaning and discovery and it's a show that captures the reality of connections in similar ways as the best art out there.

Alex Rodriguez Opts-Out

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As a lifelong Yankees fan, I am happy to see the A-Rod era end. His tenure with the Yankees was way too much of a distraction. There was so much focus on A-Rod and this hampered the Yankees' ability to create cohesive units as they did in the late 90s. Rodriguez never truly fit in in New York, and although he claimed to "love" New York, as has always been the case with Alex, it's about the money. The Yankees were willing to offer him approximately $27M per year, yet he wouldn't even meet with them to discuss. So long, A-Rod. Be prepared to be the most hated former-Yankee ever.

The Best (or Worst) Music Video Ever

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Ok, it's certainly not the worst...

Album of the Year/Decade

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There's no more need for discussion. Josh Ritter's "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter" is HANDS DOWN the best record released this year. Actually, I can't think of a better record since maybe Richard Buckner's "Devotion & Doubt" in 1997.

This is Bob Dylan meets Springsteen meets The Beach Boys meets Josh Ritter. Lyrically, musically and spirit-wise, this is a remarkable piece of art. It's the first five-star record of the 2000s.

"What's it take to make the time drop, all these kids who think they're quick on the draw"

FEMAs Fake Press Conference

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How do these assholes get away with this? And the White House scolds them? Hilarious. I know I'm speaking the obvoius, but we need this administration to end NOW. NOW. NOW.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21490838/

I Have Seen the Future of Rock n' Roll and Its Name...

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Off of the top of my head, I can think of a few shows that really changed things for me. These were shows that brought rock n' roll or some emotion(s) into me and wouldn't let go. It's why music drives me. It's why music has always meant so much to me. There was Marah in '98, Apollo Sunshine at SXSW '05, Slobberbone at SXSW '99, Wilco at Irving Plaza '97 and of course, all of those Springsteen shows.

Last night it happened again. I never really knew much about Josh Ritter until a friend kept pushing him on me. At first, "The Animal Years" didn't hit me that much. And with the plethora of music out there, for some reason, I didn't return that often. Then came "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter". Wow. This record has BLOWN ME AWAY. I hear early Springsteen, The Beach Boys, Highway 61 Dylan. Ritter's new record might be the best record I've heard in ten years.

Last night I got to see him perform live for the first time. I had high expectations and those expectation were FAR exceeded. The range of emotions onstage was beyond words. First off, Ritter is ecstatic while performing. Almost every song is met with a huge smile at some point. I've never seen a musician look so thrilled to be performing. At the same time, when he's belting out the lyrics to say "Mind's Eye" you can see the anger and fury. Maybe it's politics or the state of the world, or maybe it's something else. But Ritter let's it all out. He shares it all with audience.

As any fan of rock n' roll knows, in the early 70s, then Rolling Stone writer Jon Landau left a show in Cambridge, Mass. and proclaimed, "I've seen the future of rock n' roll, and it's name is Bruce Springsteen." I can't properly put into words what I saw last night, but that quote kept coming to mind.

Nice Surprises

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I walk into the office this morning and lying on my desk is a vinyl copy of M.I.A.'s "Arular". I have no clue how this got here, but what a nice damn treat. I LOVE this record and have had a vinyl copy in my hand numerous times at Amoeba.

Should I try and locate the sender (it wasn't even in a package), or just let the kind gesture by someone sit? Eh, who cares, I'm pumped.

Thurs - Sun

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THURS
-I arrive at the airport to see N on line, but looking a bit tense (which she rarely looks). Turns out she forgot the dresses for the two weddings and will need to catch a quick cab home and return to the airport. We make the flight by about two minutes.
-We arrive in Charleston and my suitcase doesn't follow.

FRI
-Still no suitcase.
-Confession: Due to a major time constraint and ZERO clothes, I stopped into Wal-Mart. I bought packages of t-shirts, boxers, socks and pack of smokes for a grand total of $26. I still can't believe that I went to Wal-Mart.
-Sister gets married. I see a lot of my father's side of the family but keep cautious distance. We had a fun time. It was great to meet my now brother-in-law who seems like a pretty class guy.
-Still no suitcase.


SAT
-Negative on the suitcase (oh, the airline was US Air).
-Drive from Myrtle Beach to Charleston to catch wedding #2.
-Attend the wedding of a friend I've known since about the age of six. Wonderful wedding and a great time.
-Get to hotel at 1130pm and set alarm for 4am.

SUN
-Get to airport at 5am.
-Suitcase arrives at Charleston airport. I pick it up.
-Stand in line at AirTran check-in for over an hour. We're then notified (along with about 40 other passengers) that they couldn't hold the flight. Everyone on the line was waiting for just THIS flight, but they had only one person at the check-in.
-We're informed that we can take an 1140am flight to Philly, wait 3.5 hours and then get to SF at 730pm (we were scheduled to arrive at 1215pm). We agree.
-N and I go through security and I get singled out. Pretty smooth check although I had to wait about 15 minutes.
-Nice guy on line informs me that AirTran refunded his fare for the inconvenience. I haul ass back through security and request the same deal. They put in the request.
-I go through security and they pick me out AGAIN. My patience runs thin and I'm a bit unnerved. I get through without ending up in cuffs.
-We arrive at SF at 710pm.

I am now home. What a whirlwind of a weekend. It was great to see the weddings of my sister and a lifelong friend. But man, that travel experience was straight out of a horrible Ben Stiller movie.

Thank you N for persisting through it all. All in all, it was a very nice long weekend, despite sleeping a total of about five hours.

Good night.

Emptying eMusic

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With a short trip on the horizon, I had to use up the rest of my eMusic tracks before the month's downloads expired. A nice little mix here:

Various Artists - The Complete Stax, Volume 2, 1968-1971
Red House Painters - Red House Painters
Otis Redding - Good To Me: Live at the Whiskey a Go Go, Volume 2
Echo and the Bunnymen - Siberia
Scott Walker - And Who Shall Go....

0 downloads remaining....until next month

Last.fm Top 20

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I've now been on Last.fm for over two years. If you discount vinyl, cds in my car and cds on my cd player, the following are the artists I've listened to most (along with plays):

Wilco 1,094
Bruce Springsteen 998
Josh Rouse 926
Bob Dylan 831
M. Ward 650
Richard Buckner 612
Okkervil River 594
Eels 574
Elliott Smith 548
Bonnie "Prince" Billy 539
Uncle Tupelo 512
Damien Jurado 483
Nick Drake 442
Josh Ritter 436
Spoon 423
Aimee Mann 389
Centro-matic 389
Neil Young 377
Son Volt 358
Iron & Wine 342

The New Yorker: How Indie Rock Lost Its Soul

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I disagree with a lot of what she has to say, but nonetheless: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/musical/2007/10/22/071022crmu_music_frerejones

The Arcade Fire Joins Springsteen

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Wow!

From Bruce's fan site, backstreets.com:

October 14 / Ottawa, ON / Scotiabank Place
Notes: Four more tour premieres tonight, including "Tougher Than the Rest" (an audible, in the "Heartbreak"/"Brilliant" slot on the setlist) and "Backstreets." But when the spot-on debut of "Backstreets" isn't the big story of the night, you know something unusual happened. Yep, in the six-song encore, Bruce and the E Streeters were joined by members of Arcade Fire, husband-and-wife band co-founders Win Butler and RĂ©gine Chassagne. First up was "State Trooper," a song Arcade Fire has been known to cover, and which the E Street Band hasn't played live since the Born in the U.S.A. tour. After that, they all went into "Keep the Car Running," a hard-hitting track from Arcade Fire's magnificent Neon Bible. [Stream the album version here.] We're always hoping for more covers in the set, any chance this one stays in? No? Well, the chances weren't good that it'd get played in the first place, either... so we can dream. In any case, quite a curveball in the indie band's homeland, and a cross-generational mingling of talent on par with the R.E.M. team-up of 2004.

Falling In Love

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How often do we get to experience this? Whether it be with a girlfriend/boyfriend or something else, I'd say that it's pretty rare. Maybe it's a band or a movie, or perhaps your home or a vacation spot. How often do we find something that really captures us, buries itself within us and seems to touch our soul? I can only assume that for most, it doesn't happen often.

And how many of us can say this for their JOB? Yes, a job. The majority of us work to pay the bills, to buy food, to provide shelter, but the actual job itself holds little personal meaning. But some of us get lucky. And I was one of those people.

When I graduated college in 1996 I was considering but two career choices: 1) The music business or 2) pursuing a phD in Sociology. Due to financial constraints, I chose the former. It's been a good ride, but it took me about a decade to find the job that I'd waited for. I'd ALWAYS wanted to land in a role where I was working to help musicians and independent record labels. Why? Well, it drove me crazy that the truly great artists of any time period were often paid little heed. I mean, how could a band as good as The Jayhawks get virtually NO attention? Why did it take 30 years after his death for Nick Drake to get noticed? How did Richard Buckner get dropped from A&M after releasing "Devotion & Doubt" and "Since"? I mean, these were BRILLIANT records. Obviously the label did virtually nothing to push his art. And that's a damn shame.

In late-2005 I landed the job I'd been waiting for my entire life. I walked in the doors on my first day thinking that I could finally play a part. Although it may be a small part, I thought I could play a role in changing things. I could expose the truly great artists. I could offer them tools to reach a wider audience. I could hear what they wanted and needed and try to institute those needs.

For those who know where I'm employed (yes, I'm still there), we took a major hit this past week. More than half of our staff was let go, and a good portion of these people were incredibly hard-working, passionate and in it for the same reasons as I was. I didn't even lose my job, yet I was in tears numerous times this past week. Sure, the company made some good decisions and some bad ones, but for the most part, we really tried to carry out this vision. It was an incredibly wonderful place to work. I made friendships that will likely last a lifetime (both inside the company and out). I learned more from some of my mentors than I learned in the previous nine years in this industry.

I was lucky. Very lucky. I can't thank AR enough for believing in me and bringing me on board. Who knows what will happen over the next few weeks/months, but this experience has changed me. I can only dream of finding something so rewarding again. The team that I managed was comprised of two of the most driven and passionate people in the business. They're so talented that I know they'll be fine. But the chances of us working together as we did are likely slim. And pardon the emotion, but that breaks my heart.

We'll see what the future brings. Whatever it does, my time at this company will never be forgotten. Ever.

Why I May Leave the Democratic Party

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Oh, there are so many reasons, but the following comments by Nancy Pelosi really sum it up:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in a determinedly good mood when she sat down to lunch with reporters yesterday. She entered the room beaming and, over the course of an hour, smiled no fewer than 31 times and got off at least 23 laughs.

But her spirits soured instantly when somebody asked about the anger of the Democratic "base" over her failure to end the war in Iraq.

"Look," she said, the chicken breast on her plate untouched. "I had, for five months, people sitting outside my home, going into my garden in San Francisco, angering neighbors, hanging their clothes from trees, building all kinds of things -- Buddhas? I don't know what they were -- couches, sofas, chairs, permanent living facilities on my front sidewalk."

Unsmilingly, she continued: "If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering, but because they have 'Impeach Bush' across their chest, it's the First Amendment."

Though opposed to the war herself, Pelosi has for months been a target of an antiwar movement that believes she hasn't done enough. Cindy Sheehan has announced a symbolic challenge to Pelosi in California's 8th Congressional District. And the speaker is seething.

"We have to make responsible decisions in the Congress that are not driven by the dissatisfaction of anybody who wants the war to end tomorrow," Pelosi told the gathering at the Sofitel, arranged by the Christian Science Monitor. Though crediting activists for their "passion," Pelosi called it "a waste of time" for them to target Democrats. "They are advocates," she said. "We are leaders."

NY Yankees & Joe Torre

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It looks like tonight will be the end of an era, of sorts. This Yankee run, which began in 1995 (despite losing to the Mariners), was one hell of a run. Many of the heroes have since left or retired, most notably Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams and Scott Brosius. But there were also many others who contributed to this amazing run: Jimmy Key, Darryl Strawberry, Charlie Hayes, Wade Boggs, David Wells, David Cone, Jim Leyritz, Tino Martinez, El Duque, John Wetteland, Joe Girardi, Jeff Nelson, Tim Raines and the list goes on.

There are but a few remaining from the core of this run. Derek Jeter. Jorge Posada. Mariano Rivera. And, of course, Joe Torre. Joe Torre brought such class and balance to the team, its fans and to the city of New York. He has been beloved by New York for over a decade.

All that said, it does feel like it's time for a change. Not because of Torre, but rather just because of time. He guided the ship for many of the most exciting years in New York Yankees history. Without his leadership, I highly doubt that the Yankees would have won four World Series titles and made the playoffs year-in and year-out.

When spring rolls around, the Yankees will see a new skipper calling the shots. But there will never be another Joe Torre, and there will never be another Joe Torre era. It was special. The #6 should be put to rest for good, right smack in between Joe D. and The Mick.

Reunion Weekend

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At the age of 33, there are three friends from grammar school that I still remain in contact with. This past weekend, two of them came out to SF for a bachelor party. Well, it wasn't a bachelor party in the traditional sense of the term. We basically just hung out, had some good meals, listened to a TON of music and jumped around the city. I first met these two guys in about 1979 in Allendale, NJ. We now live in different parts of the country, yet this weekend it was basically the same as its been our entire lives - out of control laughter, tons of memories shared, new memories made and a connection that we've had for almost thirty years.

I'll see them both (as well as the best man who was with us all weekend) in about two weeks for the wedding.

"Some things never change" has never sounded so good.