The Major Labels' Spiral

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 (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


Republicans Debate

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

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


For those too lazy to copy a link:


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

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"


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

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

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

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"


Top Albums 1990 - 2007

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


Top 10 Albums of 2007

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.


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?

Just as I say that I'm turning a corner, I stumble upon this:


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)
-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
-Slint & Daniel Johnston @ Bimbo's
-Being able to afford my rent
-Ping Pong
-Looking to 1/09
-The cat that's always in my backyard
-Good people
-Bidding farewell to some things
-Jeff Tweedy
-Russ Feingold

New Discoveries

It's just endless.

2007 Mix

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

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"

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
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

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

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


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

This is what I want:

The Political Life

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 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

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%

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

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

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

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