Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Brendan Calling

I have a new blog open for business. Sometime over the next week or two, i'll be importing everything from BCFTU to mty new digs, Brendan Calling.

I'll take this opportunity to say THANKS! to Chris from Rowhouse Logic and Booman Tribune for giving me space on his server, as well as for designing the site and helping me edit it to my satisfaction.
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As you may imagine, posting here at bcftu will gradually begin to peter out, until I no longer have to give blogger, which sucks, any of my business again. Please bookmark my new niche on the net, and drop by. Today I'm wishing misfortune and flooding on Washington DC, and discussing how I threw a full bottle of beer at someone's head last night.
Fuck with me, will you?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Drinking Liberally!

Act 1. Scene I

SCENE I. An urban place.

Thunder and lightning. Enter three disgruntled Lefties.

First Lefty:
When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Second Lefty:
When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.

Third Lefty:
That will be ere the set of sun.

First Lefty:
Where the place?

Second Lefty
Why, Drinking Liberally of course, Tuesday, at Tangier, corner of 18th and Lombard Streets in Philadelphia PA! From 6:00 PM until the last of us go home. Oh, and free wings for early birds. Drink specials too!

Third Lefty
There to meet with Macbeth. And Atrios. And Upyernoz. And others with clever bloggy nicknames.

First Lefty
I come, Graymalkin!

Third Lefty
SHUT UP! For the last time Bob, I told you I blog anonymously! For crying out loud, get it through your head!

Second Lefty
By the way, did anyone else get marching orders today from Markos?

I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too!

First Lefty (aside)
You're on the wrong sound stage! You want Stage 9.

Witch (aside)
Ooops! My bad. (Exit)

Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air
Of Philadelphia. Bring a friend,
We'll See you there.
(crossposted at Brendan Calling.

Word Press Eludes Me

Brendan Calling is now up, but I haven't blogged there yet because I don't understand wordpress.

As soon as my admin gets in touch with me (Chris, where are you??), I'll be importing everything from blogger, and getting started.

Just an FYI.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More on Amnesty for Insurgents

Today, the GOP rejected this amendment by the Democrats:


(a) Findings.--Congress makes the following findings:

(1) The Armed Forces of the United States and coalition military forces are serving heroically in Iraq to provide all the people of Iraq a better future.

(2) The Armed Forces of the United States and coalition military forces have served bravely in Iraq since the beginning of military operations in March of 2003.

(3) More than 2,500 members of the Armed Forces of the United States and members of coalition military forces have been killed and more than 18,000 injured in operations to bring peace and stability to all the people of Iraq.

(b) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that--

(1) the Government of Iraq should not grant amnesty to persons known to have attacked, killed, or wounded members of the Armed Forces of the United States; and

(2) the President should immediately notify the Government of Iraq that the Government of the United States strongly opposes granting amnesty to persons who have attacked members of the Armed Forces of the United States.

NAYs ---19
Allard (R-CO)
Bond (R-MO)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
DeMint (R-SC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Hagel (R-NE)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
McCain (R-AZ) (the soldiers friend, my eye)
Sessions (R-AL)
Stevens (R-AK)
Thomas (R-WY)
Warner (R-VA)

Got that? The Republicans want to keep the troops in Iraq indefinitely, but has decided it's A-OK if the insurgents (or is the the Iraqi troops themselves?) keep pickin' them off like ducks in a shooting gallery.

Cut-and-run? Not when you're a sit-and-watch Republican.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Britney Spears

I used to hate Britney Spears, and I still have no use for her music. I did however gain a shred or two of respect for the girl when i caught a few seconds of some interview a year or so ago, where she played some piano. Bless her heart, she actually DOES know how to play music, I thought, and made a note. Ever since, I've given her a bit of slack.

No matter how rich you are, it's GOTTA suck to go from this

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to this

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I've got a nice size beer gut of my own brewing (no pun intended), but I was never all that attractive to begin with. I mean seriously, she looks like she lives in a trailer, and not even a double-wide!

Tonight is The Night!

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18th and Lombard, Philadelphia: Drinking Liberally holds its weekly get together starting at Tangier, from 6:00 PM until whenever they throw us out or Duncan starts throwing punches. Come on out and talk some shit about George Bush the Fecal King.

On Gay Marriage

It is always delightful to watch the Christian right's apologists, the Republican Party, rail about gay marriage and the threat it poses to heterosexuals everywhere.

I enjoy this periodic outburst, because it means I get to throw scripture right back in their faces. Like this one from Matthew 7:3: "You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye."

(tip of the chapeau to Susie and the recovering liberal for the link:


Republican County Constable Larry Dale Floyd was arrested on suspicion of soliciting sex with an 8-year old girl. Floyd has repeatedly won elections for Denton County, Texas, constable.

Republican judge Mark Pazuhanich of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania pled no contest to fondling a 10-year old girl and was sentenced to 10 years probation.

Republican Party leader Bobby Stumbo of Floyd County, Kentucky was arrested for having sex with a 5-year old boy.

Republican teacher and former city councilman John Collins of Asbury Park, New Jersey pled guilty to sexually molesting 13 and 14 year old girls.

Republican campaign worker Mark Seidensticker of Nashua, New Hampshire is a convicted child molester.

Republican Mayor Philip Giordano of Waterbury, Connecticut is serving a 37-year sentence in federal prison for sexually abusing 8 and 10-year old girls.

Republican Mayor John Gosek of Oswego, New York was arrested on charges of soliciting sex from two 15-year old girls.

Republican County Commissioner David Swartz of Richland County, Ohio pled guilty to molesting two girls under the age of 11 and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

Republican Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives Edison Misla Aldarondo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping his daughter between the ages of 9 and 17.

Republican Committeeman John R. Curtain of Monroe County, Pennsylvania was charged with molesting a teenage boy and unlawful sexual contact with a minor.

Republican anti-abortion activist Howard Scott Heldreth of Kannapolis, N.C., is a convicted child rapist in Florida.

Republican zoning supervisor, Boy Scout leader and Lutheran church president Dennis L. Rader of Witchita, Kansas pled guilty to performing a sexual act on an 11-year old girl he murdered.

Republican anti-abortion activist Nicholas Morency of Camden, New Jersey pled guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer and offering a bounty to anybody who murders an abortion doctor.

Republican campaign consultant Tom Shortridge of Soputhbay, California was sentenced to three years probation for taking nude photographs of a 15-year old girl.

Republican racist pedophile and United States Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina had sex with a 15-year old black girl which produced a child.

Republican pastor Mike Hintz of Des Moines, Iowa, who George W. Bush commended during the 2004 presidential campaign, surrendered to police after admitting to a sexual affair with a female juvenile.

Republican legislator Peter Dibble of New London, Connecticut pled no contest to having an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

Republican advertising consultant Carey Lee Cramer of Arizona was charged with molesting his 9-year old step daughter after including her in an anti-Gore television commercial.

Republican activist Lawrence E. King, Jr. and Republican lobbyist Craig J. Spence both of Washington, D.C. organized child sex parties at the White House during the 1980s.

Republican Congressman Donald “Buz” Lukens of Columbus, Ohio was found guilty of having sex with a female minor and sentenced to one month in jail.

Republican fundraiser Richard A. Delgaudio of Burke, Virginia was found guilty of child porn charges and paying two teenage girls to pose for sexual photos.

Republican activist Mark A. Grethen of Colorado Springs. Colorado was convicted on six counts of sex crimes involving children.

Republican activist Randal David Ankeney of El Paso County, Arizona pled guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child.

Republican Congressman Dan Crane of Illinois had sex with a female minor working as a congressional page.

Republican activist and Christian Coalition and South Carolina Republican leader Beverly Russell admitted to an incestuous relationship with his step daughter.

Republican Judge Ronald C. Kline of Orange County, California was placed under house arrest for child molestation and possession of child pornography.

Republican congressman and anti-gay activist Robert Bauman of Maryland was charged with having sex with a 16-year-old boy he picked up at a gay bar.

Republican Committee Chairman and attorney Jeffrey Patti of Sparta, New Jersey was arrested for distributing a video clip of a 5-year-old girl being raped.

Republican activist Marty Glickman of Florida (a.k.a. “Republican Marty”), was taken into custody by Florida police on four counts of unlawful sexual activity with an underage girl and one count of delivering the drug LSD. It was Glickman, interestingly enough, that claimed Bill Clinton came from a low rent state and had torn down all of the standards for the highest office in the land.

Republican legislative aide Howard L. Brooks of Quartz Hill, California was charged with molesting a 12-year old boy and possession of child pornography.

Republican Senate candidate John Hathaway who had relocated to Maine from Huntsville, Alabama after having been accused of having sex with his 12-year old baby sitter and withdrew his candidacy after the allegations were reported in the media.

Republican preacher Stephen White of West Chester, Pennsylvania, who demanded a return to traditional values, was sentenced to jail after offering $20 to a 14-year-old boy for permission to perform oral sex on him.

Republican talk show host Jon Matthews of Houston, Texas pled guilty to exposing his genitals to an 11 year old girl.

Republican anti-gay activist Earl “Butch” Kimmerling of Anderson, Indiana was sentenced to 40 years in prison for molesting an 8-year old girl after he attempted to stop a gay couple from adopting her.

Republican Party leader Paul Ingram of Thurston County, Washington pled guilty to six counts of raping his daughters and served 14 years in federal prison.

Republican election board official Kevin Coan of St. Louis, Missouri was sentenced to two years probation for soliciting sex over the internet from a 14-year old girl.

Republican politician Andrew Buhr, also of St. Louis, was charged with two counts of first degree sodomy with a 13-year old boy.

Republican politician Keith Westmoreland of Kingsport, Tennessee was arrested on seven felony counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition to girls under the age of 16 (i.e. exposing himself to children).

Republican anti-abortion activist John Allen Burt of Pensacola, Florida was found guilty of molesting a 15-year old girl.

Republican County Councilman Keola Childs of Hawaii County, Hawaii pled guilty to molesting a male child.

Republican activist John Butler of Cass County, Illinois was charged with criminal sexual assault on a teenage girl.

Republican candidate Richard Gardner of Clark County, Nevada admitted to molesting his two daughters.

Republican Councilman and former Marine Jack W. Gardner of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was convicted of molesting a 13-year old girl.

Republican County Commissioner Merrill Robert Barter of Boothbay, Maine pled guilty to unlawful sexual contact and assault on a teenage boy.

Republican City Councilman Fred C. Smeltzer, Jr. of Wrightsville Borough, Delaware pled no contest to raping a 15 year-old girl and served 6-months in prison.

Republican activist Parker J. Bena pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography on his home computer and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and fined $18,000.

Republican parole board officer and former Colorado state representative, Larry Jack Schwarz, was fired after child pornography was found in his possession.

Republican strategist and Citadel Military College graduate Robin Vanderwall of Virginia was convicted in Virginia on five counts of soliciting sex from boys and girls over the internet.

Republican city councilman Mark Harris of West Bend, Wisconsin, who has been described as a “good military man” and “church goer,” was convicted of repeatedly having sex with an 11-year-old girl and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Republican businessman Jon Grunseth withdrew his candidacy for Minnesota governor after allegations surfaced that he went swimming in the nude with four underage girls, including his daughter.

Republican director of the “Young Republican Federation” Nicholas Elizondo of Bakersfield, California molested his 6-year old daughter and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Republican president of the New York City Housing Development Corp, Russell Harding, pled guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer.

Republican benefactor of conservative Christian groups, Richard A. Dasen, Sr. of Kalispell, Montana, was found guilty of raping a 15-year old girl. Dasen, 62, who is married with grown children and several grandchildren, has allegedly told police that over the past decade he paid more than $1 million to have sex with a large number of young women.

Republican Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the rape of children in Iraqi prisons in order to humiliate their parents into providing information about the anti-American insurgency.

... so you'll pardon me if I'm not exercised about two adults doing things to each other. At least grown-ups can consent.

And the Chickens Begin to Come Home to Roost

May 24, 2006: "[A] NEWSWEEK investigation shows that, as a means of pre-empting a repeat of 9/11, Bush, along with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft, signed off on a secret system of detention and interrogation that opened the door to such methods. It was an approach that they adopted to sidestep the historical safeguards of the Geneva Conventions, which protect the rights of detainees and prisoners of war. In doing so, they overrode the objections of Secretary of State Colin Powell and America's top military lawyers—and they left underlings to sweat the details of what actually happened to prisoners in these lawless places. While no one deliberately authorized outright torture, these techniques entailed a systematic softening up of prisoners through isolation, privations, insults, threats and humiliation—methods that the Red Cross concluded were "tantamount to torture."

Joe Biden, who supported and continues to support the war (h/t First Draft): [P]rohibitions against torture are intended to "protect my son in the military. That's why we have these treaties. So when Americans are captured, they are not tortured. That's the reason, in case anybody forgets it."

June 20, 2006: Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Muhammed-Jassim, head of operations at Iraqi Ministry of Defense said the soldiers had been "barbarically" killed and that there were traces of torture on their bodies. He offered no further details.

Geneva Conventions, yawn. How quaint.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Not Cool.

I don't like that feeling badly kept me from doing something I'd been looking forward to the past three weeks, something that I'd played no small hand in organizing.

I don't like it at all.

The Cloud's Back

I was expecting to be really depressed yesterday, but I got busy cleaning my house and buying sealant for my deck. I guess I thought I would skate by without incident, but it looks like the Cloud is back, and in a pretty big way. It started moving in around 6:30 this morning as I was thinking about how I have to buy blocks, Duplo Bricks, and other age-appropriate toys for Sam to have around my place, which brought on guilt that I haven't already bought them, which reminded me of how surprised I was when Melissa told me Sam could ride a tricycle, which reminded me how absent I am from his daily life, I mean for fuck's sake how do you not know when your kid learns how to ride a trike which reminded me why I don't have a house filled with toys, and you know the rest of the story, duck and cover, stop drop and roll. Now I'm sitting here feeling hollow, like a babushka doll with the guts thrown away. [Ill wishes, expletives deleted.]
It just doesn't stop hurting. It hurts and hurts and hurts. Anyone read this one in the Times yesterday? I did. Didn't help matters much.

I'm supposed to see Glenn Greenwald tonight, but I believe I'll be skipping out.

Maybe It's Just Me

Maybe my well-known loathing for Hallmark Holidays combined with my well-known depression from being separated from my son to scare off everyone, but the only person who called to wish me a Happy Fathers' Day was my brother.
I mean, I can understand Melissa not giving me a call, since I resolutely stayed away from the phone on Mothers' Day (and actually Melissa DID call, but the new phone doesn't ring very loud and I was out back grilling).
But other than that, no one else.
No emails either.

I'll remember that.

We're Moving!

In the next few days (weeks?) the staff and offices of Brendan Calling From the Underground, INC, LTD, LLC, is packing up and moving out of blogger. As you may know, we've been unhappy with blogger and its frequent freakouts and foibles for quite sometime, and last week's outage was the final straw. We've found some free space on a different server, and pretty soon, you'll be able to find us at Brendan Calling. Please make a note of our new url. We'll be sending out a grand opening announcement soon.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Stoneman Family - Surf Bluegrass Instrumental

This is my first youtube blog. Here's hoping it comes through, because this is some hella bluegrass. That is some WICKED mandolin playing.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Coming to a Bad End

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I know. I'm going to hell. But good God, old testicle chin's expression is just creepy!

LTE, Philadelphia Daily News

On June 16, 2006 the House of Representatives, led by the Republican Majority, voted on a nonbinding resolution rejecting a timetable for our brave troops to come home, expressing the sense that an "arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" would be bad for the nation. Or, as President Bush so forcefully put it, "As Iraqis stand up, American troops will stand down."

Yet on June 15, 2006, Republican Senate members, including Ted Stevens, Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell, Jon Cornyn, and Saxby Chambliss among others, spoke in glowing terms of Prime Minister Maliki's plan to give amnesty to the insurgents who have been killing our troops steadily for the past 3 years. Alexander compared the move to Nelson Mandela's struggle for peace in South Africa. McConnell suggested a resolution praising the Iraqi government for offering amnesty to people that have been repeatedly characterized as terrorists, Saddam loyalists, and Al Qaeda sympathizers.

So let me get this straight: the Republicans are telling Americans that our troops are going to stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future, while telling the Iraq government in effect that there will be no consequences for killing our soldiers.

This is insane. The Republicans in Congress need to make up their minds and stop talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Brendan Skwire

Out of Line on Nick Berg: Letter to John Grogan, Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist

"Thank you would have been a good start."

Poppycock, Mr.Grogan. Poppycock.

Let's work backwards.
Why was Nick Berg in Iraq? He was seeking to build cell-phone infrastructure as part of what was to be a proftable US occupation and reconstruction effort.

Why was there to be a profitable occupation? Because Mr. Bush and his administration chose to start a war in Iraq, telling us that the Iraqis would meet us with rosewater and candies. The oil revenue would pay for everything. Opportunities for American businesses!

If Mr. Bush hadn't started a war of choice in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11, Nick Berg would never have been in Iraq to begin with.

Had Nick Berg not been in Iraq, he would likely have not been beheaded.

Your suggestion is akin to saying the Peter family owes a "Thank you" to Susanna Goihman for putting flowers on their daughter's grave or for donating money to MADD.

Furthermore, although I am no fan of Mr. Zarqawi, or fundamentalists of any stripe, or his tactics it is entirely accurate to call people fighting against an occupying army "resistance fighters." You may not agree with their cause, but that is exactly what they are doing. The majority of the guerillas in Iraq are Iraqis: they are resisting occupation, the same way their ancestors resisted the British last century.

Mr. Bush's decision to start a war is inextricably linked to Berg's death. To suggest that Michael Berg owes the instigators of this war, which we now know was started under completely false premises, any gratitude at all is outrageous. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Stick to writing about your dog.

Brendan Skwire

Anywhere But Home

I just got back from the Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival, four days of pickin' and partyin' with the The Grillbillies, of which I am a humble "member", in quotes because membership is so easy to come by, just ask Matty!

After my doctor's appointment on thursday, which went a lot longer than it should have, I loaded up the van and we set off up the Schuylkill Expressway for Wind Gap at about 4:00 PM. Traffic was lousy, as usual: it's my firm belief that if someone threatned Philadelphia with terrorism, our city would be royally fucked. The highways in and out of town are totally obsolete, and barely up for the task of carrying 3:00 AM traffic withut incidents. I don't know if it's true or not, but legend has it that the original design for the highway was based on building on the east bank of the river. When the Fairmount Park Commission objected, the planners just stuck it on the west bank, with no major adjustments. When you add the completely foreseeable explosion in automobile ownership to a highway designed in the early 1950s, you have the dictionary definition of a clusterfuck. or to put it more clearly: there are no merge lanes on the expressway. None. Every on-ramp is the site of a traffic jam or an accident.

Thus, the "hour and a half" that Mapquest estimates it should take to get to Wind Gap is actually more like two and a half hours. In reality, it was more like four hours because the directions at the festival site are vague, and the directions at Mapquest are bad. The forecast called for rain, and we hit it just south of Allentown. It came down in buckets, with such force that at times I could barely see the road in front of me. By the time we got to the festival however, the rain was gone. Still, we arrived with plenty of time to set up the massive tent I got last year and to see a little of Thursday's entertainers. Even better, the campground had put in some improvements, including a drainage ditch that prevented the floods that the Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival is known for. I stayed up until almost 2:00 AM that evening, and would have gotten a bit more sleep except for the jerkoffs in the rv parked next to us, who turned on their generator at 7:00 AM.

A joke: What do you call someone who pays $85.00 to stand in a muddy field and listen to him/her self play guitar?

The answer is, of course, "A bluegrass fan".

Out of four days of bands, I really only saw two or three. I never miss Dan Paisley and the Southern Grass: they're the definition of bluegrass, if you ask me. I made a point of catching the Hunger Mountain Boys, an old time revival trio. Fantastic music, and great singing: their bass player also plays for my former band, Jim and Jennie and the Pinetops. Hell of a nice guy too, and I convinced him to pick up some Super-Nils (more on those later). I saw five minutes of Junior Barber and Bear Tracks before leaving. Barber is a hotshot dobro player, a real champ on the instrument. Unfortunately, the music he and his band play is just really really REALLY boring. I caught half of the Lewis Family's set, but without others to balance out Little Roy's antics, it quickly becomes the "Little Roy Goes Freakin' Bananas and Insults Everybody Especially the Women" show.

No, instead of watching bluegrass all day, these festivals are an opportunity to unwind among like-minded friends and PICK bluegrass. They are also an opportunity to cook. Steaks on the grill; chicken on the grill; burgers; and a huge buffet dinner courtesy my grillbillying colleagues. Izzy Zaidman came out; Jack Ward came out; Banjo Eric was there, and so was Larry Maltz. It was Christina's first bluegrass festival, and I think we have a new addict. I can't even begin to name all the folks at the festival, people I only see during these few weekends in summer: the Marceras were there: Chris, his dad Rick, his mom Linda, and his sister whose name I can never remember (that's OK, she barely knows my name anyway). Abbi, who is great, and Rhiannon and the rest of the Napolis, who are also great. No-Way Dave and I had some good conversations over coffee on Saturday. Matt, the man who brings it all together, was in fine form, keeping us awake until dawn. Jesus, I could go on for hours about Matt, a true superhero of the bluegrass community.

And then there were the Super-Nils, aka, my new bass strings. It's no secret that in Philadelphia, I play far more guitar than bass. This is because most of the bluegrass pickers in this town are rank amateurs, and it's a lot easier to show a musician how to play acceptable bluegrass bass than it is to teach them acceptable bluegrass guitar (they ALWAYS go for the rock-n-roll chords and solos, which just don't work very well). Because it sat neglected for so long, my upright's G-string corroded a bit and was near breaking. The problem is that new steel- or nickel-wound strings cost upwards of $125.00 for a set, and besides steel-wound strings put an aching on the fingers. When strung, the tension is very high, making it difficult to get good volume without getting blisters. The Super-Nils went for $70.00, and Dan Paisley told me I'll get a year out of them. The G and D strings are nylon, while the E and the A are wrapped with steel wire (as opposed to ribbon). The result is a very soft string that doesn't have to be wound anywhere near as tight on the tuning machine as steel strings. They're a pleasure to play and they are louder than hell.

I always try to avoid political discussions of any kind when I got to a bluegrass festival. As my friend, the hard right-wing retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel Bill Knowlton is fond of saying, "One of my best friends is the former president of NY state's National Organization for Women We've become so close because we each decided the other was a hopeless case politically, and now we talk about things we can both agree upon." He's right: anything else, when it comes to bluegrass, gets in the way. When I'm out in a field enjoying the sun, the beer, and the pickin', the last thing I want to think about are those troglodytes in Washington DC, intent on bringing out country to its knees, selling us all out to the almighty dollar and their corporate cronies, and killing our children and wasting our money in Iraq and tax cuts for the already wealthy. Yet it comes up occasionally, although I am never the instigator. There were two instances this weekend, each which said far more about the instigators than about me.

The first night we arrived, a young woman in her early 20s from Brooklyn, roped Christina and me into a discussion about the "illegal immigration problem", which if you ask me is a crock of shit. It's very easy to solve the problem: pass and enforce laws requiring corporations and plantations to pay illegal immigrants the same wage they pay citizens. Ta-da: profit margin disappears, incentive to hire illegals disappears. Not that anyone in Washington or any state legislature will pass anything like this: it is, after all, the bottom line and ONLY the bottom line that matters.

Christina is one of the most agreeable people I've ever met. When we first started dating, I remember mentioning to my dad that the one problem I was having with the relationship was that she wouldn't bicker and argue with me. Pop had a good laugh out of that one. "Oh, so she's pretty, smart, goes to an Ivy league college and she won't argue with you? Gee, that sounds like a real problem. You should dump her, and maybe I can start dating her instead." But damned if during the course of the debate with the mixed-race, Brooklyn xenophobe, Christina didn't smilingly burst each vacuous bubble that came out of the girl's mouth.

"They refuse to learn English!"

"Yes, but new immigrants learn English in only two generations these days, not five or six like our grandparents." POP!

"They're taking over our jobs!"

"yes, but they're jobs that most Americans won;t take for that kind of low pay. If we passed and enforced laws that protected American workers.." POP!

... and so on. The girl didn't speak to either of us for the rest of the festival, except to shoot us dirty looks.

The second incident involved Peter, an enormous man of about 50 with the worst dye job I've ever seen. His hair looked looked like Harpo's wig, but in that weird orange color produced by hydrogen peroxide. Last year at Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival, the topic of the war came up, and as I was about to lambaste The Decider, Pete looked up and with an ugly look in his eye stated, "There's NOTHING wrong with George W. Bush." The conversation was over before it had even begun.

At Wind Gap, Pete and Christina hit it off fairly well (I'm sure he had no idea abouther politics), and at the Grillbiliies' campsite he remarked to me how lucky I was to have her. He then launched into an astrological discussion.

"You're a Libra, right? I am too. Do you ever have trouble making up your mind about things?"

"Actually, no," I replied. I'm not really into astrology. "But that may be because I'm on the cusp of Scorpio." The conversation went on for a few more minutes about how Libras and Tauruses get along, rising signs, cusps, and all that other gobbledygook.

"You know, it's nice to see you've gotten a bit more conservative," Pete added, as we walked toward the campfire. "Because last year, you were a screaming liberal." I stopped in my tracks. Other than the previous years' amputated conversation about the war, in which I'd contributed not even a complete sentence, Pete knows nothing about me. Like most self-described "conservatives", he jumps to conclusions about people, seeing everything in obsolete and inadequate shades of black and white. Democrat=Liberal. Liberal=Bad. Republican=Conservative. Conservative=Good. As if there's anything conservative about paying for tax cuts ot the wealthy by borrowing from future generations, starting wars based on lies and then mismanaging them, squandering even MORE of the national treasury, illegally spying on Americans, and trying to amend the Constitution, for purely political reasons, to ban same-sex marriage and flag-burning. "Conservative"? "Radical" is more like it, wild-eyed, foaming-at-the-mouth, shrieking radicals.

"No, my politics are the same," I said. "And I'm actually not a liberal. Liberals are all talk, but once it affects them, maybe not so much, like bussing. That's why Phil Ochs wrote Love Me, I'm a Liberal. I'm not a liberal. I'm a LEFTIST. So let's start there.

"And I have to tell you, I never used to understand Republican complaints about Democrats until I moved to Philadelphia and got a real taste of how corrupt the Democratic machine is in the city, because there are some real dirtbags. Mariano. Corey Kemp. Pay-to-Play." Pete nodded approvingly. "But I also have to tell you, I have seen Republican corruption up close too. What about Speaker Perzel's promise, after he took over the Philadelphia Parking Authority (in violation of our home rule charter) that he was going to use the increased fines to benefit Philadelphia public schools? He welched on the deal. We never saw a cent."

Pete rubbed his forehead and sighed. "Look, as far as the school district is concerned, it's not money that's going to fix that. I know, because I used to teach. You know what it's going to take to solve the problem of Philadelphia's schools?" He sighed, as if he was talking to a very small, and perhaps retarded child, then fixed me with an intense stare.

"You have to get rid of the blacks. They have a culture of ignorance. If one of them gets good grades, he gets beat up for being like 'Whitey'. If you got rid of the blacks, took 'em out of the system, the schools would be a lot better." It was all I could do not to say "I'm glad you're not a teacher anymore." It was disgusting really, the image of this openly prejudiced man telling me he used to teach children, telling me in essence that the moment he entered a classroom, he wrote off his African American students immediately as hopeless. I didn't know what to say, and luckily a jam session began and I had an excuse to walk away.

Outside of those two incidents, Wind Gap was enormously fulfilling and relaxing. It looks like I've got a second festival to go to at the end of the month, volunteering at Out Among The Stars, in Benton PA.

See you there!

Need to Wash.

I just dropped by Will Bunch's attytood site, which I dropped from my blogroll a month or two ago. I paid a brief visit to the comments section to see if anything's changed.

Ugh... nothing's changed. If anything it's gotten worse. I am SO glad I left.
Will, control your baboons!

Tonight: True Story, Names Changed

"You can't hit a girl," Andy was saying out in the parking lot, "you just can NOT hit a girl. Not only," he slurred (we'd all been drinking), "Not only is it inexcusable, even if she deserved it as much as any guy, you can't do it. There's no winning." We nodded our heads in agreement.

"Seriously," Murph piped in. "Women can get away with a lot more than guys sometimes, just because normal guys won't hit a woman. She can needle and needle and drive you nuts, but the minute you hit her... you know, stuff that no one would care about with a guy, you just can't do when it's a woman. And that's totally cool by me. It's just wrong, hitting a woman I mean. It's scummy."

"The best thing to do," Andy went on, "is to walk away. "Just get out of the house, go to a titty bar or something. Anything. Just get out til she calms down. Listen," he said, "I'll tell you a story.

"This was like 8 years ago, I was living with this girl, living with her, it was at leat a year, I loved her, when we got a call from an old girlfriend from high school who I hadn't seen in like a decade, but was in town for the weekend. So we make plans to all go out to dinner together, the three of us.

"That week, I get my wisdom teeth, which were totally impacted, pulled out," Andy went on, rubbing his jaw in memory. "That shit hurt like hell. It was oral surgery, my mouth was all swollen and stitched up. So there I am, all stoned out on percocets on the sofa recovering when my girl slams in the door around one in the after noon.

"WHERE IS SHE she starts shriekin' and yellin', WHERE THE FUCK IS SHE I KNOW YOU BEEN FUCKING HER! Meanwhile, I'm lying on the sofa with my tongue hanging out of my mouth half retarded. huh? Wha...? Guys, I never even slept with this girl, you know? I hadn't seen her since fuckin' high school and she knew I lived with my girlfriend.

"So I pull myself up from the sofa saying "I just don't wanna get into it, I'll come home when you calm down," and start to head for the door, but we have this weird lock that you can lock from the inside, which she does then she grabs my keys and throws 'em out the window. Now I can't fuckin' leave. She slaps me across the face, and the stitches come ripping out. Blood starts gushing into my mouth and she slaps at me again, but this time I put my hand straight out to hold her back. It's like the Three Stooges or something, where I'm holding her at arm's length and she's flailing away uselessly. And you know I hadn't even done anything to deserve this. I loved her!

"So anyway, I kinda smirk because I'm holding her off, and that's when she leaned back and kicked me square in the nuts. I went down and she began kicking me, and more of the stitches ripped out, all I could taste was blood. So finally, just as she's about to kick me in the face, I just hauled back and swung, and bang, right in the eye, which immediately goes all purple as if I'd really given her a full-on punch.

"And then I jumped out the window, a second story window, and I fuckin' ran. I just ran, got the fuck out of there before she could catch me, I was so scared. I wound up in the park, I sat on a bench in the fog and took the rest of my percocets and fell asleep. I woke up around it musta been 6:30 am, like some kinda bum, and my face was in a pool of blood, kinda pasted to the bench. I had dried blood stuck to my face. My whole lower jaw was swollen like a fuckin' watermelon and I could barely open my mouth.

"So I go walking up the street toward home, and everyone I see says to me Man, I saw Kathy, who the fuck do you think you are beating her, you son of a bitch!

"Dude, that chick coulda killed me. Seriously, I was terrified.

"Walk away. Go the titty bar or something, but walk away."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Sound You Hear Is Me, Going Insane

1, 2, 3...

You know, it's actually the case that the way to deal with an insurgency is with a political, not a military, process, but I really don't know how Republicans seamlessly slip from kill'em all to hug'em all.

From the DSCC:

This afternoon on the Senate floor, several Senate Republicans are DEFENDING the proposal to give amnesty to terrorists who have killed or wounded American troops. Here is a quick compilation:

TED STEVENS - “IF THAT’S AMNESTY, I’M FOR IT:” “I really believe we ought to try to find some way to encourage that country to demonstrate to those people who have been opposed to what we're trying to do, that it's worthwhile for them and their children to come forward and support this democracy. And if that's amnesty, I'm for it. I'd be for it. And if those people who are, come forward… if they bore arms against our people, what's the difference between those people that bore arms against the Union in the War between the States? What’s the difference between the Germans and Japanese and all the people we’ve forgiven?” – Sen. Ted Stevens

MCCONNELL SUGGESTED A RESOLUTION COMMENDING IRAQIS FOR GIVING TERRORISTS AMNESTY. “…might it not just be as useful an exercise to be trying to pass a resolution commending the Iraqi government for the position that they’ve taken today with regard to this discussion of Amnesty?” – Sen. Mitch McConnell

ALEXANDER COMPARED IRAQI AMNESTY FOR TERRORISTS TO NELSON MANDELA’S PEACE EFFORTS. “Is it not true that Nelson Mandela's courage and his ability to create a process of reconciliation and forgiveness was a major factor in what has been a political miracle in Africa…Did not Nelson Mandela, win a - the co-winner of - a noble Nobel Peace Prize just for this sort of gesture?” – Sen. Lamar Alexander

CORNYN: IRAQI AMNESTY DEBATE IS “A DISTRACTION.” “It makes no sense for the United States Senate to shake its finger at the new government of Iraq and to criticize them… it really is a distraction from the debate that I think the American people would want us to have.” - Sen. John Cornyn

CHAMBLISS: AMNESTY IS OK FOR EX-INSURGENTS AS LONG AS THEY ARE ON OUR SIDE NOW. “Is it not true today that we have Iraqis who are fighting the war against the insurgents, who at one time fought against American troops and other coalition troops as they were marching to Baghdad, who have now come over to our side and are doing one heck of a job of fighting along, side by side, with Americans and coalition forces, attacking and killing insurgents on a daily basis?” - Sen. Saxby Chambliss

What the fuck? This is just so fucking offensive, I don't even know what to say. Nauseating.

Ray has more on the hypocrisy of Republicans endorsing amnesty for people who, by their own words do not "...wear distinctive uniforms and conduct military operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war" and thus do not qualify for "sme protections granted to prisoners belonging to regular armies or security forces " because they are "captured terrorists, including al Qaeda and suspected terrorists."

I will add that despite Ray's erroneous references to amnesty for the Japanese and the American Civil War, that in both cases HAD the United States government chosen to extend amnesty, it would have been a gracious, magnanimous gesture from the conquering power to the abjectly defeated. The Iraqi insurgency is hardly defeated: the Republicans' statements are expressions of weakness. Far from a comparison to Nelson Mandela, this is a bull crying Uncle!

Pathetic. We have the most powerful, most well-equipped army in the world, and the Republicans have not only squandered that power, they've lost faith.

And they say Democrats are weak in the knees?

Gratuitous Lucy Parsons Post

Lucy E. Parsons, "To Tramps," Alarm, October 4, 1884. Also printed and distributed as a leaflet by the International Working People's Association.

The Unemployed, the Disinherited, and Miserable.

A word to the 35,000 now tramping the streets of this great city, with hands in pockets, gazing listlessly about you at the evidence of wealth and pleasure of which you own no part, not sufficient even to purchase yourself a bit of food with which to appease the pangs of hunger now knawing at your vitals. It is with you and the hundreds of thousands of others similarly situated in this great land of plenty, that I wish to have a word.
Have you not worked hard all your life, since you were old enough for your labor to be of use in the production of wealth? Have you not toiled long, hard and laboriously in producing wealth? And in all those years of drudgery do you not know you have produced thousand upon thousands of dollars' worth of wealth, which you did not then, do not now, and unless you ACT, never will, own any part in? Do you not know that when you were harnessed to a machine and that machine harnessed to steam, and thus you toiled your 10, 12 and 16 hours in the 24, that during this time in all these years you received only enough of your labor product to furnish yourself the bare, coarse necessaries of life, and that when you wished to purchase anything for yourself and family it always had to be of the cheapest quality? If you wanted to go anywhere you had to wait until Sunday, so little did you receive for your unremitting toil that you dare not stop for a moment, as it were? And do you not know that with all your squeezing, pinching and economizing you never were enabled to keep but a few days ahead of the wolves of want? And that at last when the caprice of your employer saw fit to create an artificial famine by limiting production, that the fires in the furnace were extinguished, the iron horse to which you had been harnessed was stilled; the factory door locked up, you turned upon the highway a tramp, with hunger in your stomach and rags upon your back?
Yet your employer told you that it was overproduction which made him close up. Who cared for the bitter tears and heart-pangs of your loving wife and helpless children, when you bid them a loving "God bless you" and turned upon the tramper's road to seek employment elsewhere? I say, who cared for those heartaches and pains? You were only a tramp now, to be execrated and denounced as a "worthless tramp and a vagrant" by that very class who had been engaged all those years in robbing you and yours. Then can you not see that the "good boss" or the "bad boss" cuts no figure whatever? that you are the common prey of both, and that their mission is simply robbery? Can you not see that it is the INDUSTRIAL SYSTEM and not the "boss" which must be changed?
Now, when all these bright summer and autumn days are going by and you have no employment, and consequently can save up nothing, and when the winter's blast sweeps down from the north and all the earth is wrapped in a shroud of ice, hearken not to the voice of the hyprocrite who will tell you that it was ordained of God that "the poor ye have always"; or to the arrogant robber who will say to you that you "drank up all your wages last summer when you had work, and that is the reason why you have nothing now, and the workhouse or the workyard is too good for you; that you ought to be shot." And shoot you they will if you present your petitions in too emphatic a manner. So hearken not to them, but list! Next winter when the cold blasts are creeping through the rents in your seedy garments, when the frost is biting your feet through the holes in your worn-out shoes, and when all wretchedness seems to have centered in and upon you, when misery has marked you for her own and life has become a burden and existence a mockery, when you have walked the streets by day and slept upon hard boards by night, and at last determine by your own hand to take your life, - for you would rather go out into utter nothingness than to longer endure an existence which has become such a burden - so, perchance, you determine to dash yourself into the cold embrace of the lake rather than longer suffer thus. But halt, before you commit this last tragic act in the drama of your simple existence. Stop! Is there nothing you can do to insure those whom you are about to orphan, against a like fate? The waves will only dash over you in mockery of your rash act; but stroll you down the avenues of the rich and look through the magnificent plate windows into their voluptuous homes, and here you will discover the very identical robbers who have despoiled you and yours. Then let your tragedy be enacted here! Awaken them from their wanton sport at your expense! Send forth your petition and let them read it by the red glare of destruction. Thus when you cast "one long lingering look behind" you can be assured that you have spoken to these robbers in the only language which they have ever been able to understand, for they have never yet deigned to notice any petition from their slaves that they were not compelled to read by the red glare bursting from the cannon's mouths, or that was not handed to them upon the point of the sword. You need no organization when you make up your mind to present this kind of petition. In fact, an organization would be a detriment to you; but each of you hungry tramps who read these lines, avail yourselves of those little methods of warfare which Science has placed in the hands of the poor man, and you will become a power in this or any other land.
Learn the use of explosives!

Dedicated to the tramps by Lucy E. Parsons.

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New Blogroll Addition

Of Rats and Men is a new addition to the blogroll. Good stuff, and some great pictures of abandoned infrastructure. Just the thing to tickle my eyeball bone.
Pay a visit, you won't be disappointed.


This is for nyone who's been following this week's truly creepy "let's all get buried together" series:

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And for your edification, the original (this section crossposted in the comments at Comics Curmudgeon):

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Odd, isn't it, how adamant Elly is that her parents' remains be separated? What's going on here?
Dr. Brendan suggests that it might be linked to some deeper psychological issues going on with creator Lynn Johnston, who bases the strip on her own life.

Johnston: I was very unhappy at home. You think about child abuse and you think of a father viciously attacking a daughter or a son, but in my family it was my mother. My mother, I would say, was a ...very brutal disciplinarian. She was brought up with a "spare the rod and spoil the child" philosophy, and she was raised by a father who brutalized her. He didn't want daughters. He wanted sons. He had no time for daughters. He refused to educate his daughters. It was a waste of his money.

And they all left home as soon as they possibly could. Some of them ran away from home, some left to join the armed forces. That's what my mother did. And my father was the first person she'd met who treated her kindly. She was terrified of men, and she married a very meek, kind, dear man. And she had the upper hand. She ruled the roost. My father was beaten as a child. His philosophy became, "I refuse to lay a hand on my children."

Heintjes: That's the opposite approach of most abused children.

Johnston: Right. But my mother's philosophy was, the harder you beat them, the more they'll realize that what they've done is wrong. She would hit me until she was exhausted. She would use brushes, broomsticks, anything she could wield. I could look at the different bruises and tell what she had hit me with. If it was a black bruise with a red stripe down the middle, it was a piece of kindling. If it was a brown bruise with a certain shape to it, it was a hairbrush. If it was perfectly round, it was a wooden spoon. I used to go to school with bruises from the middle of my back to my heels.

Deep issues. DEEP.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

We're Back! (But not for long)

Well, a bunch of phone calls and emails later, Brendan Calling is back online at blogger.com.
But not for long: this latest outage is the straw that broke the camel's back and I'm taking up a friend's offer of free server space and registering a new domain.

In the meantime, I'll be registering a formal complaint against blogger's customer service team, which you may recall didn't see fit to respond to a single request for help when this happened last time. The behavior was the same this time, and it tooka long distance phone call to Google's HQ in California to get the ball rolling.

I will also add that when I went to the Google group that blogger links to for self-help, the main complaint voiced by participants was that blogger's customer support team never responds to emails. It's not just me: the company has no respect for its users and has therefore lost my business.

I'll let you know where the new site is as soon as I've got it up. In the meantime, which domain would you prefer: brendanskwire.com or brendancalling.com?

Oh, and blogger.com can suck my balls.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tonight's the Night!

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I have a new volunteer gig as co-host, along with Tattered Coat Matt, of Philadelphia Drinking Liberally.

We get together every Tuesday evening, from 6:00 PM until the last holdout heads home, at Tangier, a bar and grill located at the corner of 18th and Lombard Streets. Free wings for early birds and drink specials as well. As you may know, 15 or 20 of the top 50 most influential lefty bloggers live in Philadelphia, including Chris Bowers, Mr. Black, Susie Madrak, The All Spin Zone team, and many many more.

Tonight's going to be a lot of fun, so if you're in the neighborhood, come join us!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Some Final Photos

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Notice my fine, fine ass behind him. And if you think that's scary...

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here's my old man. Behold, the ravages of AGE!

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Tree Hugger

National Day of SLAYER

It's finally here: National Day of Slayer.

Learn the sacred words of Praise Hail Satan!
Reign in Blood is playing right now.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Crybaby Diaperpants and the Whiney Ass Titty Babies

I've played bass for a number of bands since moving to Philadelphia, all with different degrees of success.

I moved here with Jim and Jennie and the Pinetops, a band that has since gone on to tour Europe, Canada, the United States, and has been picked up by Bloodshot Records, perhaps the pre-eminent insurgent country label in the nation if not the world. Jennie was difficult, but incredibly rewarding, to work for. An incredibly intense and driven young woman, her demands went beyond my role in the band but also into those aspects of my personailty she didn't like. For the most part, I tried to oblige: the band was a lot of fun, we were playing to tons of people, and I was getting paid AND laid (not by Jennie, but by the hotties that would come and see us). When I left the band in June 2001, it was with deep regret, and if I could have changed myself to suit Jennie's personality I would have. Unfortunately, some people mix like oil and water, and I had to go.

By October of that year, I played as a touring bass player for the Essex Green, an established psych-pop band on Merge Records. I toured England and visited Amsterdam, all on the label's dime. I got a per diem. The band was fun. The shows were big. Even the small shows were big. I got paid AND laid, AND I got to go to Europe for free.

UncleFucker, from New York, was perhaps the best band I ever played with. The band was an over-the-top performance piece, featuring costumes, onstage skits, and a troupe of dancing girls called The Fuckerettes. We never made much money, but every single show we played was memorable, in large rooms packed to the rafters. We paid a boatload of money to go on tour with Mindless Self Indulgence, touring the US. Courtney Love opened up for US in New York City. I don't remember if I got laid: I don't think so because I had a girlfriend for most of my career with the band. But I could have gotten laid had I been single.

I was speaking to Izzy Zaidman, UncleFucker's bandleader the other night about music, and we agreed there are two reasons to play live music. Reason one is that you're an artiste.
"Those jazz guys, man, they're like fuckin' monks," Izzy opined. "They are so into what they're doing it doesn't matter if anyone shows up. In fact, the better a jazz musician you are, the fewer people will show up at all, because the music you play is SO heady and removed from what the ordinary listener thinks of as 'music', nothing but atonal squawks and bleats.

"Then there are people like us," he continued. "We're in it for the entertainment. You go onstage to rock out and have a good time, so the people in the audience will rock out and have a good time. That's our job: it's not this intellectual exercise, you're there to entertain."

He's 100% correct.

I have an admission to make. As some of my readers may know, I tend toward the darker side of things. Between my student loans and child support payments, I am nearly always almost broke. There are precious few things in my life that truly make me happy: my girlfriend is one. Homeownership is another. Seeing my son is always the highpoint of every other month. Usually however, I am utterly miserable. At my lowest, I have joked about stepping in front of the subway, and that's only half a joke.
But when I am on stage, rocking, I am in a completely different place. It doesn't matter whether it's country music or bluegrass or rock or metal: when the rock is flowing, when the energy is zipping through my veins a mile a minute and people are clapping and listening and loving the music as much as I love playing it, it's like the best cocaine in the whole world, and you never want it to stop. It doesn't even have to be a packed house: as long as I am having a good time, and I've become one with the rock, feeling the power of the rock, the night is usually worth it. I will go so far to say that I like rocking more than I like fucking. Way more.

That's why on Saturday night, June 3, I quit, at long last, Paul Edelman and the Jangling Sparrows, just packed up my gear and walked out of the downstairs auditorium at the World Cafe Live, in the middle of Mad Dragon's release party for "Unleashed 2" a compilation cd on which we're featured. The man made it impossible to rock, and then made it impossible to continue to work for him and have any dignity.

There are so many reasons why it's come to this that I literally have no idea where to begin. This entry may be a little messy and rambling.

For the past few months, Paul, whose moods have always been mercurial, has gotten worse than ever. I don't know if it's a self-esteem issue or what, but Paul decided some time ago that everything he does is doomed to failure: and so it would go for his band. It's destiny. I didn't realize he was actually going to go out of his way to make that happen, making every gig a joyless unpleasant chore from start to finish.

Paul, like a lot of musicians, has never really enjoyed self-promotion. Unfortunately, to make it in the business, promotion is the name of the game. If you're not proud of your band and the music you make, if you're not willing to spread the news and invite people to your shows, people won't come. That's why each gig has become less and less fun, with lower and lower turnout: Paul doesn't even try to promote himself. It's beneath him. Promotion is whoring to his mind, and he has said as much. Trying to get Paul to mention his cds and upcoming shows onstage has been like pulling teeth from day one. What he excels in is self-sabotage.

Another reason he's had problems winning over hearts and minds is his lousy attitude. Last year, for example, he pulled one of the dumbest, and most self-destructive moves I have ever seen a musician do: in retrospect, perhaps I should have left then, but I believed in the project. We'd played some good gigs at the World Cafe Live (ironically enough considering the circumstances of my departure), and Paul was invited by a publicist working part-time at the venue to perform solo at a private party she was hosting at Fergie's, an Irish bar in downtown Philly. The party guests were every other publicist in town, and Paul was going to be the only performer. Seems like a good deal, right? You have the captive attention of the very people who can help you attain the kind of buzz that maybe allows you to quit your day job and just play music. God knows if I got an offer to do that, I would be there with bells on, with business cards, free copies of my cd, anything and everything to help my career. Hell, I'd dress up in a pink gorilla suit for the occasion if that's what it took to make a good impression.

Not Pauly the misunderstood genius. Not only did our hero cancel his appearance at the last minute, he then showed up at the gig, during the party, to drink at the bar in full view of the guests and the woman who'd set the whole thing up. Way to go! Way to piss off every single publicist in Philadelphia, which I will add is one tough town in which to be a musician. Tell me again, why don't we get written up in the newspaper and the indie press?

Long ago, Paul delegated promotion and media relations to our manager Tim and to me. Between the two of us, we got Paul a website (I worked for weeks with his sister on the design); set up a myspace account; managed his email list; wrote press releases about shows; and booked tours when possible.

I have spent about $700.00 of my own money on this band, because I believed strongly in Paul and his music. When Paul's amplifier died last year because of a blown speaker, I jerry-rigged an extension speaker for him, and ultimately paid for the necessary repair. I have gotten his amp retubed. When we went on a brief tour to New England in January 2005, I not only did all the booking, I personally rented and drove the van. I got him a live appearance on 88.5 WMBR Cambridge in support of the Boston leg of the tour. This spring when he needed to borrow a credit card to rent a car for a solo tour to Ohio, I loaned him mine, and without asking me he paid for the car on my card. I have provided practice space for almost the entire three years we've played together. When our drummer Craig needed a month off to get married, it was I who found a substitute. When Paul spent the $250.00 we owed the drummer for his services on a guitar for himself, it was I who paid the drummer out of my own pocket.

Last weekend, we did a cd release for the new solo acoustic cd, Nest of X's, Sky of Y's. Craig recorded the whole thing, spending time and energy racing the clock to finish the disk. Did Paul credit him? Not until Craig complained.

Paul booked the cd release for Sunday May 28, Memorial Day Weekend. When someone suggested to him that this wasn't the best night for a gig since everyone in Philadelphia is down on the Jersey shore for the first weekend of summer, Paul responded that people would show up because no one had to go to work Monday.

While turnout was low, it was still a lot better than anyone expected. Anyone that is, except for Paul, who sank into a sullen sulk backstage, pounding whiskey. "This sucks," he grumbled. "I can't get play in this city. No one comes to see me, no matter what I do, and I've done everything I could", he griped, which explained why he was backstage sulking instead of working the room with his fans out in the front and selling cds. When we finally got on stage, he was drunk off his ass and shirtless. The night was sloppy. Like so many other gigs over the past 6 months, neither Craig nor I got paid.

One of the few standout successes of our efforts has been the myspace account we set up: myspace.com/janglingsparrows. Click the link and check out the songs. They're good, aren't they. Look at those downloads: 3187 total plays, almost 700 plays of "Lonestar Mile" alone. Invites for gigs in the comments section. Craig and Tim worked hard to convert the cd tracks to mp3s and to post them at the site. However, Paul doesn't quite grasp the idea of the internet. I'll go further than that: when Paul doesn't understand something, it becomes "stupid", "worthless", and "useless." He rarely goes online, and to the best of my knowledge has never even looked at his myspace site. He said as much to Craig and me on Friday evening as we prepared for the Saturday show. He couldn't believe so many people had been listening to his stuff.

For those of you not familiar with myspace, it is an EXCELLENT tool for an independent musician. When you sign up your friends, you automatically have access to your friends' friends. Thus, when you post a bulletin about a performance or a new song, not only do your friends hear about it, but their friends hear about it too. It's an easy, and free, way to network with other bands and to be heard by promoters, club owners, etc.

Sample comments from people I've never met at the jangling sparrows myspace:
6/3/2006 1:31 PM

Hey Paul and band...great stuff, we have very similar influences and love the music here. Hope to run into you somewhere on the journey, let me know if you are coming towards Toronto. Always love hearing new stuff and meeting musicians.

Jason Paul Johnston
6/1/2006 9:26 AM

wow...it's not often that a random friend request from a band results in me saying "fuck, these guys are good." Dig it.
6/1/2006 4:00 PM

Love it. Fucking...love it. If you're in eastern Iowa/western Illinois, drop us a line!

I called Paul up the afternoon of June 3 to remind him to bring cds to the World Cafe Live show, and added "By the way, today alone you've had about 30 listens to your songs."

When I got to the World Cafe Live, Paul was already in a snit: it was evident from his body language, the expression on his face, and the way he grunted instead of talking. great, I thought, another fun gig with Angry Paul.

As the three of us sat at the bar, Paul set off on a classic rant: the uselessness of the gig, his desire to stop playing music, Philadelphia's failure to embrace him. It was nauseating, and after offering hima tissue to dry his eyes, I went downstairs to watch the other bands set up. Realizing I'd left my pants at home, and that I had a couple of hours to kill before playing, I went on a quick jaunt to my house and hung out with my housemates. When I returned to the venue, it was about 8:00. We were due on at 11:15, which Paul was upset about because "everyone will be gone by then". Or something. Honestly, if he had an earlier slot he would have complained about that too.

I was backstage in the green room waiting for one of the acts to finish up so I could get my bass and tune it up before we got on stage when Paul walked in and began munching on carrots.

"I've got a great idea," he said. "What say tonight I go onstage drunk off my ass on whiskey, shirtless and shoeless?"

"Uhh, didn't you do that last week?" I asked.

"Ah, but last week, I wore shoes," he smirked. "God this show is such bullshit," he continued. "I don't even know if I want to do this anymore, it's not like I can sell here in Philadelphia. This town fucking sucks..."

"Well look," I said, "If you're going to make this the last gig, you might as well go out with a bang. None of this 'shirtless' crap. Go all the way and perform buck naked. Maybe even piss on the stage." He scowled at me.

"Or better yet, get a pistol and begin shooting into the audience. They're the ones you hate anyway, right?"

"Yeah that's what I'll do," he scoffed. "Like I'd want to waste my life in jai--"

"Well you're the one saying that it all sucks and it's useless. Why even play at all?" I replied.

He turned to me, his face beet red. "Oh and another thing?" His voice went up a few registers, and he sounded exactly like a five year old singing "nyaah nyaah".

"'Myspace is doing SOOO well! I'm getting lots of hits, people are doooownloading my songs. Myspace myspace myspace.' Dude: it's a waste of TIME, it's USELESS, it's fucking STUPID," he spat. His face was pinched up like someone was twisting his nose. "I have half a mind to shut the whole fucking thing down."

It was like he punched me in the face. His voice said it all: he didn't appreciate any efforts in his behalf. In fact he held those efforts, and by extension everyone who had tried to help him thereby, in utter contempt. Three years of work together, tours I'd booked for him, money I'd spent, material aid, and I wasn't even worth a goddamned iota of respect, just his scorn.

I looked up at him from the sofa and said, "I'll go take that into consideration" and I left the room. It was the same sort of eye-of-the-storm calm I experienced when my fiancee left me for another man. Should I go back and punch him in the face? No, he'd hit me back. But I'm definitely not playing tonight. Should I tell him I'm leaving? No, because he might punch ME in the face. No, I think I'll just leave. Nobody talks to me like that, nobody.

I walked through the auditorium to the side of the stage opposite the green room, heading out the stage door for my van. As soon as I turned on the ignition, I flew into a fit of cursing that would make the worst Tourette's sufferer quiver in fear and disgust. "YOU FUCKING MOTHERFUCKER, YOU FUCKING FUCK!", I yelled at no one. "YOU THINK YOU CAN TALK TO ME LIKE THAT? YOU THINK YOU HAVE ANY FUCKING RIGHT TO TALK TO ME LIKE THAT AFTER EVERYTHING I'VE DONE FOR YOU? No. No. NO, you FUCKING PILE of FUCKING SHIT. I'm gone, outtie, YOU FUCKING DOUCHEBAG FUCKING FUCK."

I backed the van around to the stage door, so angry I was shaking, muttering "Nobody talks to ME like that motherfucker, nobody talks to me like that." The technicians were setting up for the next band as I calmly unplugged my amplifier and lugged it out to the van. "Motherfucker, nobody but nobody..." I went back in and got my bass. Then I walked into the audience and found Craig, who was owed an explanation. We stepped out back and after a quick rundown of the past 10 minutes' events, I got into the van saying "It's not your fault Craig. We did the best we could. But I can't take this anymore, and I won't be disrespected by someone for whom I've done so much. He can fuck himself. Good luck." And with that I drove off. When I arrived home, I sent Paul the following email:

After everything I've done for this band, because I
believed in you and your music, you had no right to
speak to me the way you did.
Go fuck yourself.

Nobody talks to me like that, and that is especially true for someone I have given so much of my time, energy, and financial support for so long. Nobody.

The saddest part of this story is the sheer waste of it all. Paul's a really good songwriter and his guitar playing is incredible. I don't even like alt-country music, and I stayed with this project for over three years. Songs like "Five Gear Memory" and "Lone Star Mile" are sleeper hits, waiting to be discovered. But like he sang in "The Highway Song", "I know you think you're lookin' at another coulda-been".

Exactly: coulda, shoulda, woulda.

I'm done. Anyone need a bass player?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Photobucket Should Change Its name to Photo-SUCK IT.

Photobucket is really running at its shittiest today. I have about 70 shots of Sam to upload, and it's refusing to upload more than one at a time. It's taking fucking forever.

I understand blogger's in the toilet today too.

Photoblog: Sam's May Visit

We'll start with some beach photos. These are from Strathmere, a lovely stretch of beach near Ocean City. No life guards, no beach passes, and not a lot of people. Sheer bliss. Warning: Contains Pictures of Shirtless Brendan. Not for the Weak of Stomach.

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Driving to the beach.

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Path to Strathmere, through the dunes.

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I love how this photo caught him mid-air.

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Cold Water!!

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I really like this shot, classic!

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That's about it for the beach. here are some shots from out on my dad's boat.

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OK, these three all look the pretty muh the same. So what, it's my fucking blog!

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Anyway, onto the deck that we're still not quite done with (it's just een too freakin' hot to mix and pour concrete).

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Oh, here's the deck. Sam took this one:

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I'll post more on Monday. Photo-suckit is really pissing me off, refusing to upload more than one photo at a time and uploading at speeds comparable to dial-up. Stupid slow technology.