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Keep The Internet FREE and OPEN

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http://www.google.com/takeaction

Center for Digital Democracy: http://www.democraticmedia.org
Common Cause: http://www.commoncause.org/telecom
Consumers Union: http://www.hearusnow.org/internet/whatsatstake/openaccessandcontent/
Free Press: http://www.freepress.net/deadend/=neutrality
Public Knowledge: http://www.publicknowledge.org

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Uncle Tupelo

uncle-tupelo
http://www.thisisnotascene.com/2014/uncle-tupelo-depression-legacy-edition/

I’m sitting here listening to Uncle Tupelo’s landmark album “No Depression” for the thousandth odd time–and I wanted to take a minute to thank Brian R. who introduced me to the band in it’s dying days back–oh–about 20 years ago. It took some urging–I thought Uncle Tupelo was a silly name and didn’t exactly rush out to the store, though I’m very, very glad that I finally did manage to pick up a used copy of No Depression down at the now defunct Paul’s Records on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield, Pittsburgh’s “Little Italy”, in 1994 (Paul’s  lives on today as Sound Cat Recods, the coolest music store in the coolest city in the USA.)  Uncle Tupelo has since become one of the prime makers of the soundtrack of my life–I’ve got a couple of teenagers who, through no fault of their own, can sing along with I belt out “Give Back The Keys To My Heart” in the truck.

Scan11109Brian, I don’t think it’s possible to adequately thank you–those were a couple of good years, though….

Well, back on point, what I actually have my hands on here is the “legacy edition” of this album, which features 17 extra cuts–demos, alternate versions, and goodies like that.  The only thing that could be better is if I had a chocolate malted milkshake while I listen and type this.  For those not familiar with Uncle Tupelo, they were one of the best indie bands from the late 1980s uncle-tupelo-no-depression-legacy-editionand early 1990s.  A little country, a little punk rock, and a whole lot brilliant, they were gone before the mainstream could find them, leaving behind four absolutely genius albums and planting many of the seeds that grew into the wildly popular alt.country genre.  One of the reasons the band was so great was that it featured two fantastically gifted songwriters–Jeff Tweedy and Jay Fararr–and there just was just not enough room for both of them to fully express their different, though complimentary visions.  Tweedy went on to found the band Wilco, while Fararr led Son Volt, in one of those rare instances in which the parts turned out to be so nearly close to the whole that both bands flourished.

Here’s an historic video:

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Hot City Sidewalks

 

before she knew

all fifty states

her father beat his fist

steady as a heartbeat

on an old screen door down the block

it was May, I think

some time for shorts

 

she squirmed in the background

a poster child of name-calling

one knee scabbed, one just plain old skinny

“your son did this” he called from the

bottom of the concrete stair

 

she looked down on us in a

nightgown on a Monday

and simply said “no”

for the boy who’d failed

the first grade three times

 

he hid, or maybe not

in his bedroom, trains and crayons

while she kicked garbage

on a hot sidewalk

 

but she was there, she held her aching scalp

from all the pulling on the

only time in history she had braids

past her shoulder blades

 

to this day

fragments of a

girl too small for

things like politics

and death

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A world of contrasts

I was surprised–not that surprised, mind you–to find a familiar image in a blog post I visited, that took me back a decade and a half, and over 3000 miles, to the Finley National Wildlife Preserve, just north of the town of Monroe, Oregon where my wife and I lived for several years in the mid 1990′s. We spent many sweet mornings and afternoons strolling the nature center and admiring the sometimes tens of thousands of migratory waterfowl. Hawks and Bald Eagles were common, too, but the best sight we ever saw was a beautiful white owl, in late 2007. I took many of my own pictures of this particular barn, none as subtle as this.

Here’s a couple of mine, scanned from 35mm, circa 1997:

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The ancient eavesdropper

A world of contrasts

Cabell Barn at Finley National Wildlife Refuge near Corvallis, Oregon

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The President Needs a Make-Over

While I was devoting considerable energies into not nodding off during the State of The Union Address last night, Mrs. Junk remarked on how odd it was to see President Obama’s suddenly graying hair.  As a guy who has seen Obama Grayhis own hair take a sudden flight towards white–I’ll be in Santa country by the time I’m 55–I have to say he carries it well.  He’s a handsome guy, after all, and he’s got a lot on his mind.  Not only that, he’s certainly in good company. Until my own hair changed from brown to salt & pepper to–uh–just plain salty (like my personality, I guess), I have to admit that I suspected s conspiracy of Presidents.  As candidates, it goes to figure, Clinton Graypotential leaders want to appear youthful, energetic, virile, powerful and vigorous; so it goes without saying that coloring one’s hair is a simple part of a campaign not unlike wearing good suits and attractive ties.  Once in office, however, the cultivated image of choice shifts to one of wisdom, maturity, and leadership–candidates are cast as agents of change, but Presidents are leaders.  The are diplomats who set the tone for george-w-bush-58e91e6f1fa9866bnational discourse and international relations.  Even the simplest of men, those who bore leadership as if it was no greater burden than a sack of children’s toys, have aged under the weight of responsibility and the pressure of constant scrutiny.  Was I wrong to suspect that Presidents in office intentionally let their hair go gray?  That some possibly even hasten the process via artificial means?  I suspect I’m on to something–but I also think that these guys are missing the boat.  Ronald Reagan, that canny old player, appeared to RonaldReaganmoisten his hair with waxy black shoe polish right up to his last days in office, even as he muttered “I do not recall” to inquiry after inquiry into the despicable conduct that took place on his watch–and people loved him for it.  Why did folks love Reagan?  Not because he denied any problems America faced with the same fervor he denied knowledge of the FonzIran-Contra Arms For Hostages deals, and not because he reminded many of us of our doddering old grandfathers.  Reagan was beloved because he had the same hair as The Fonz.  When Reagan was elected, who was the reigning cultural icon?  It Arthur “Fonzi” Fonzarelli.  When Reagan won reelection in 1984, American was sadly saying goodbye to that same shark-jumping icon when a wave of nostalgia carried the incumbent back for another four-year term.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

So, clearly what President Obama needs is a celebrity make-over, and the perfect celebrity has never been more clear–we need someone who is highly intelligent and articulate, someone who works as hard as Obama, and we need someone cool–if the truth is to be told, Obama needs a little help here: he’s a bit of a policy geek, and those cigarettes don’t make him seem any cooler, despite what years of Marlboro ads have said to the contrary. He gets points for playing basketball, but not enough to compensate for his wonkishness.  On the subject of his rumored, rabid fanaticism for Star Trek I plead the fifth amendment and the right to not risk self-incrimination.

I’ve found a guy who is smart, articulate, wildly talented, supremely hard-working, and unquestionably cool.  His name is ?uestLove and President Obama should assume his style immediately. questlove

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“Hey, Questlove–I need an update–who’s your stylist?”

Not only would it be a serious upgrade in terms of both style and cool, but there would be added tactical advantages in dealing with the primarily southern, lilly-white conservative seed at the heart of Republican stubbornness, for example–that tall and proud hair is going to scare the bejesus out the closet crackers who let their backwardsassed racism foul progress.  On the international circuit, do we really think a bully like Vladamir “Mad Vlad” Putin is going to give a giant like Questlove–easily 7 feet tall with the hair factored in–and backtalk whatsoever?  I don’t think so–and Obama is another tall guy, so all he needs to do it thicken up, add 150 pounds, and voila….

If I was any good at computer graphics, I’d mock up a cut and paste job of Questlove’s hair on Obama, but I’m afraid we’re just going to have to wait for the inevitable since, now that I’ve loosed this cat from it’s sack, there’s no way this isn’t going to happen.  In the mean time, please enjoy the video link.

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Commentary

The State of the Union is COLD

Mrs. Junk and I watched President Obama deliver yet another State of the Union address last night, though I did so with mixed emotions due to the President’s inconsiderate preemption of one of the three hours of television I most enjoy each week–Person of Interest. I’m interested in politics and have very strong opinions that do not easily fit either the liberal or conservative labels, but in the end I’m much more excited about the latest adventures of Howard Finch, The Man In The Suit, Ms. Shaw, Root, and the gang than I am about the combination of boasting and wishful thinking that invariably fills this annual festival of Beltway Make-Believe.  I mean, Finch and The Man In The Suit routinely get the job done in less than an hour–at the most, they would need one of those sweeps-season 3-part arcs to get this country back on it’s feet.  Obama and that Ship of Fools we call Congress can’t manage a damn thing.

Perhaps, if the President walked out to the podium, nodded to the cameras, and said something like, “The state of the Union is better, but it still sucks, and not a little bit either.”  That would get my attention.

But this isn’t a tantrum about politics–we all know the score: nothing gets done until the last minute, until the conservatives resist long enough to satisfy their corporate leash-holders and quench the demands of the dwindling, but still influential, righteous ecclesiastics–or, more specifically, the cynical operators who manipulate the legitimate spiritual beliefs of generally good religious people in a sledgehammer of division and distraction.  That’s the function of conservatives in our political system–to fight tooth and nail against forward momentum of any sort, to resist any disruption of the status quo and, finally, to be dragged–always kicking and screaming–into the future as if any movement at all could be their very last, and the very last for our blessed, holy nation.

Liberals, of course, come with their own particularly annoying tendencies–wussy thin-skinned hypersensitivity, arrogance, a glowering disdain for tradition, blind reliance on government as an engine for social change, wildly unrealistic idealism and the will to impose that idealism by force–for our own good, if necessary–and the list goes on.  As I most closely identify with the left, my criticisms against that side are both more numerous and more nuanced.  I look at politics like looking at a bunch of children who’ve made a mess of things–some I just dismiss as “bad,” but the ones I know, the ones who are mine, are “disappointing”–they’re not just guilty of breaking the rules, they’ve broken my heart a little.

I’m tired of caring about the whole wagon train–we know the drill: angry Indians, soulless bandits, desperate river-crossings, betrayal at the hands of a trusted compatriot, disease, a snowstorm just before sudden and teh sacrifice of a hero leads to unexpected survival and a happy ever after.  The sad thing is, one of these days the bandits are going to kill that hero in the early going–or maybe s/he’ll drown in the river–and the hole damned adventure takes a turn towards Donner Party country.  That’s my worry about the good ol’ USA–one of these days, there will be no hero to save us in the final moments of the movie.

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Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like

Blondie Roundabout

Blondie Roundabout

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Bonnie and Clyde….

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Okay, I’m in.

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Alsea Falls, Oregon

just click the link, and the pretty picture will make you smile.

Alsea Falls, Oregon.

Found this nice photo–very near where I used to live.  Thanks!

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Cowboy Junkies 32.20 ; After All These Years

It’s hard to believe it has been almost 28 years since I bought a record, having no idea what the music inside would sound like, took it back to my drafty college apartment, placed it on the turntable and dropped the needle, and fell in love.  This is magnificent.