JOE COOL…OUT!

Aquarian Weekly
1/18/17

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

JOE COOL…OUT!
Our Journey From Hope To Change To Trump

Barack Obama is the only major party candidate for president I have ever voted for with gusto. And he shall be the last. That is my gift to him on his way out. The man I dubbed Joe Cool was historic for many reasons, but that is the only one that counts around here. Of course this only applies to 2008, for I went back to my independent ways four years later. Nevertheless it was a monumental vote for me, and one that I shall ultimately remember him by.

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True, I voted for G.W. Bush in 2000, but that’s because I despised Al Gore. I never forgave him for the whole PMRC shenanigans in the 1980s. Still haven’t. And I would do it again, even though I blame Bush for 9/11, which is now all the rage but was considered some kind of treason in 2001. Fuck him and fuck Al Gore.

All of these votes are a matter of record in this space, but it doesn’t do much beyond explaining that since 1980 I have never and will never again vote for a major party candidate beyond the 2008 Barack Obama model. That idea was, is and will always be a completely bullshit either/or decision that is needlessly heaped upon the citizenry, which came to an ugly head this past year when I have now personally spoken to two dozen people who voted for one of the two candidates they were purportedly “forced” to vote for with a measure of growing apathy to outright disdain.

I gladly voted for what would be the 44th president of the United States in 2008 for one main reason, well, two; the first is that damned whiz-bang, hootenanny king-hell mutha of an Iowa Caucus victory speech he delivered on January 3 of that year. It remains the finest political oratory that I have had the pleasure to digest in real-time. I must have played that thing twenty times in a sixteen hour period, like the first time I heard Exile on Main St. or Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” or that part in “Three Babies” when Sinead O’Connor hits the high note. That speech is far better than most any that I have studied and it may be the last time I would actually believe in anything to do with politics again.

For those who dig Obama, I suggest you watch it. It’s on YouTube and it will make you throw up when you consider what transpired from that day forward; how much of the soul of that guy at that time was sucked out by our politics, even upon winning the presidency. That night the bar was set too high for the likes of us or him. But man, that Democratic primary was, along with the Republican one this year, the most fun I had covering this game to power we roll out every four years. I was never concerned by what transpired afterwards, as I’m not now. It reminded me why people who care about such things love politics, think it matters or actually believe it has any true effect on their lives. Listening to that speech transformed me, for the shortest but most enjoyable of weeks, maybe months, but then I went right back to being a cynical jack ass and proud of it.

It is important to point out that what makes the human condition at once so mesmerizingly horrific and beatific is what can be framed in a moment of true sweeping progress and is then easily sullied by the stark light of reality. This is what happens to those who see the utter lack of purity in things and understand fully how fucked the whole concept is and how those who don’t see it and think politics is some kind of elixir to the gaping hole in their faith-centers come to the same rude awakening eventually.

But political speeches come and go; what really matters to me in retrospect is that first run between 2009 and Obama’s re-election in 2012, when there absolutely had to be a shift in viewpoint of the presidency, and not a racial or ideological one, per se, and Lord knows it certainly will never be a political for me. It was ultimately a brief but dramatic generational shift; the second reason I voted for Barack Obama. He is from my generation; the butt-end of the Boomer (but not quite), and too old for X – that “between generation” that was born with the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy Assassination and weaned on Viet Nam and Watergate and was far too young to get high at Woodstock. We did not fight the battle of Civil Rights but watched the potential for an Equal Rights Amendment be crushed by the forever-maddening puritan ethics bullshit which I think now that a playboy TV thug is president we can stop pretending we care a lick about.

Be that as it may, I am proud of that 2008 vote, even though the first Obama term was somewhere between stabilizing and shit. I hated the parade of Clinton cast-offs he dragged in. I wanted everyone in the cabinet to be from my generation as well, not pathetic hold-overs from the ego-addled lunacy of the 1960s through the 1980s. We had just endured two Boomers on both sides of the aisle, both of whom ended final terms in ignominy. But remember, this is a man who took office under by far the worst economic collapse of the Western hemisphere that anyone under 100 years-old could recall. The Dow was somewhere in the six-thousands and soon gasoline would spike to nearly five bucks. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were disappearing.

Historians will rightly or wrongly credit Obama’s presidency with halting this hemorrhage, but that will be the last thing his first term slam-dunked, unless you work in the American automotive industry. But there will always be the Affordable Care Act, which was a half-assed boondoggle that never worked because it cannot function in the human condition explained briefly above. It would be known as Obamacare, a term I did not use, like calling people not from India, Indians. But the president embraced it from good to bad to worse. I, for one, never bought it and neither did the country, as within two years the dismantling of the Democratic Party began.

that Democratic primary was, along with the Republican one this year, the most fun I had covering this game to power we roll out every four years.

That will also be the legacy of Obama; beyond the transformative nature of electing an African American in a mostly racist, back-water, religiously fanatic intellectual sinkhole of a nation. His party was abandoned by him. And this is where the generational thing comes in. Obama didn’t give a shit. He also didn’t give a shit about explaining anything he did well, like finally killing the man who committed the greatest crime against America that didn’t include bankers. He probably should have killed some bankers.

But doubtless and without argument, Obama’s second term, one I did not endorse because up to that point second terms were always a disaster – Viet Nam, Watergate, Iran/Contra/Monika Lewinsky/a hundred things Bush screwed up – was the finest of my lifetime. Granted, the bar was low, but the economy that was in a historic shambles continued to recover, albeit slowly, yet with a record number of months of job growth, because Obama was, and historians will record this too, the first truly “progressive” president; the one that did not fall under the anachronistic tag of liberalism. One that worked in the pragmatic, grown-up-in-the-70s mentality that was ingrained in us.

Be that as it may, the most important event that happened during Obama’s second term is the rightful, legal ratification of marriage equality and he had absolutely nothing to do with it. Trust me, the refusal of a black leader to acknowledge an obvious civil rights abomination against a community of tax-paying citizens is one of the things that made me cringe in 2008, and almost had me run back to the independent candidates, but remember, despite being in my enlightened generation, marriage equality always seemed like a pipe dream, like women voting once was. The very idea that this country could actually twice vote for a progressive black man as president is a nod to that generation and the next; you know, the one that did not buy into another Clinton – but that is another column for another day – certainly kick-started a groundswell for civil rights the likes of which we had not seen in two generations. I am glad to have been alive and be an American for that and then embarrassed for all those who continue to oppose it, because it is sad and bigoted, but entirely understandable. This is the change we were supposed to believe in, but you know what? The president was an innocent bystander. We, the law, the United States Constitution made that happen.

You see, beyond the Iran Deal, which I supported heartily and believe if the Republicans take their collective heads out of their 19th century asses will finally begin to transform the horror-show Middle East through secular economic concerns, and not third-century, voodoo religious nonsense. This is what progress and my generation should believe; at least the free thinking among us. And if the election of Obama’s successor is any indication, the religious right is still very much on life support, and that is the best we can cite for progress.

The rest for Barack Obama is window dressing. But failing a spate of impeachment hearings or ramped up phony wars or secret unconstitutional weapons deals with enemies or Nixonian abuses of power, this was one no-drama-Obama presidential run.

Thanks for allowing my generation a crack at this shit-sandwich.

Now it’s back to a bloviating, narcissistic, media-whorish Boomer again.

Good luck.

Joe Cool…out!

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A SEASONAL WISH

Aquarian Weekly
12/28/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

A SEASONAL WISH
What You Write The Day Before Christmas Eve With A Crushing Deadline

Hold me in your thoughts
Take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes
Keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

-Warren Zevon
“Keep Me In Your Heart”

I remember it vividly.

I was walking up 14th Street across from Union Square Park staring up at the Barnes & Noble where I last saw Hunter Thompson alive – the place we spoke for one of those short spurts I would get with him. Within a few months he would put a bullet through his brain. And I remember the June sun on my face and being thankful that everyone I loved was alive and more or less healthy. And I was momentarily pleased by this. It seemed right.

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I’m remembering this with only a week left in 2016 because it has been a tough one for a lot of us. Many of my friends and loved ones have had a rough go, like my dad dealing with health problems and my sister-in-law battling cancer, and still others who are gone now. This year, in particular, I lost my beloved mother-in-law, Mary Lou Moore. She was a uniquely gifted artist, and more importantly, loved this column and loved to laugh at its weekly impertinence and to be honest my general impertinence. And that always touched me; how such a sweet, creative, loving soul could get a genuine kick out of this mess.

She died in late June, almost two years to the day that I had my 14th Street epiphany. My wife and I were on our annual anniversary weekend sojourn in downtown NYC and Mary was at my mountain home hanging with our then six year-old daughter, Scarlet, who soon would be eight and find herself without her maternal grandmother.

Later in the year two good friends would lose their parents. This will be their first holiday season without them. My dad had a scare this year; quadruple bypass surgery. He’s had a couple of lousy health years. And the whole thing gets me thinking again of my 14th Street epiphany and I wonder if somehow I’m a jinx.

Or if I was trying to tell myself something that I’m now acutely aware seeing time pass over these two years and how everything that transpired did so in such a shockingly rapid manner that it all seems like a dream.

My dear Uncle Johnny – who has the distinction of two mentions in as many weeks in this space – was not well that summer. I had visited him in a hospital for patients with dementia down in Florida the previous February, and since his dad, my maternal grandfather, had suffered from the same malady, and I seemed to have acquired quite a few of their genes, I only assumed I would be going nuts soon or at least willing to admit I’ve been clinically nuts and not just symbolically so for some time. And I also wondered how long he could last living that way. I got my answer. He died that autumn. And then I pondered how long any of us have and I was just glad that for that fleering moment, just a few steps across from Union Square, that everyone was okay and maybe they would be for a little while longer.

But a little while was not long enough. It never is. Is it?

And I guess in some ham-fisted way I wish that we would all have a 14th Street moment more often and realize how finite all this is and all the bitching and moaning about things we cannot control are merely distractions to those things we actually can, like being kinder to each other and maybe making a phone call or offering a hand or a compliment or a reminder to those we care about to let them know how fortunate we are that they’re in our lives and that they have their health and their right mind for another one of these seasons.

“Hold me in your thoughts, Take me to your dreams…”

You see, when I was younger (Man, you know things have crept well past sentimental into maudlin-ville when someone writes, “When I was younger…”, but I pointed it out, so that exempts me and so shall I proceed), I would fraction life out in summers – like how many summers do I have with these friends of mine, or how many summers will I be carefree and single and penniless and not give a shit until it becomes sad or pathetic? How many summers could a relationship survive or a job or a book project or some other activity that appeared at the time to have an infinite shelf-life?

Now, maybe, I think of this season, this “holiday season”; the one I usually “endure”, and wonder how many more of these Christmas mornings will be left for the kid digging on Santa or how many more will I have with my dad or how many more with my friends that I think will somehow age but not get closer to not having another summer or season?

Okay, so last year I wrote a screed defending Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge and now I’m bringing people down with “loved ones are not going to be here forever, so start acting like it” nonsense that no one needs to hear.

Well, I think that’s bullshit. We do need to hear it. I certainly needed to hear it last year when we still had Mary and never in our wildest dreams did we consider not having her, and maybe that is silly hindsight that humans play with in order to ease their minds that you cannot spend every “season” wondering who will be here next year to share it.

Shit, there’s probably no other reason to bring any of this up except to point out that I work too much and cannot enjoy enough of what its brought me because I’m not sure I’m four or five or less “seasons” from losing my mind or that someone else might not be here that I need to tell how much they mean to me.

Time to rectify that.

Right?

Right.

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IN PRAISE OF THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK)

Aquarian Weekly
12/21/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

IN PRAISE OF THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK)
An Oral History of the Golden Age of 21st Century American Satire

I have never actually missed a TV show. The concept seems silly to me. Sure, I wish certain shows I dig would have kept going in-perpetuity, but usually when I look back, I figure it was probably a good idea it stopped. I think Showtime’s Shameless is going bye-bye after seven seasons. That sucks. It is currently the best show on TV for my money. But, I get it, its time. But when The Daily Show lost Jon Stewart – effectively going off the air (for me) – it was a bummer, but, you know, okay…I get it.

But, man, do I miss The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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And I don’t think it actually hit me until I received a copy of film-maker, Chris Smith’s wonderfully compiled The Daily Show (The Book) – An Oral History in the mail and haven’t been able to put it down. And weirdly, I think when I’m done in a few more pages I’m going to – for all intents and purposes – finally put away this particular icon and try and understand why it was so damn important to me.

For me The Daily Show was, of course, very entertaining. Some might say; right up my alley. Or at least it was playing in the same alley.

In 1999, when Jon Stewart took stewardship of Comedy Central’s then half-hour social-commentary joke-fest, I began getting emails about it from readers of this space, specifically an old radical friend of my Uncle Johnny, who I had never met but I guess started reading my stuff and then tried to get me onto Stewart’s jag. I was never a fan of “fake news” satire – the HBO series Not Necessarily the News or even the early Weekend Updates on SNL. It took me a few years, really, maybe just before 9/11 or so, to begin to catch on to the insurrection that was The Daily Show.

Occasionally I would flick it on and get more than a chuckle, and then, and I’m not sure when or what story they were lampooning or what level of satire they were playing at, it suddenly struck me as damned important work. My guess is I probably became an avid viewer and began setting the DVR sometime before the 2004 presidential campaign and found myself getting at first influenced by the track of the show and then trying like hell not to cover similar ground – as if anyone would notice or care for that matter. But I would. It is a thin alley we were working in. You do not want to bump into anyone for fear you are merely echoing the angst or bile. I have plenty of both already.

And, you see, that’s where Smith’s book really put me on notice this past week. It reminded me how much of the free-thinking public, and okay…college burn-outs and shut-ins and the fringe-class…were satiated by watching The Daily Show make a difference, whether to drive a bill through congress to assist first-responders, or affect the free-expression brigade in Egypt, or merely expose those who needed exposing from the War in Iraq to the banking crisis to the general absolutists that make this country a strange and wonderful mixture of the horrible and fantastic.

The Daily Show (The Book) – An Oral History … illuminates the aim and effectiveness of true satire and the skewering of our most cherished institutions as an art form

Certainly if you are a fan of the show you must read The Daily Show (The Book) – An Oral History, because although I wish it had more “inside baseball stuff” – writing room stories or inner turmoil or other things (and it has it, but not as much I crave from these oral histories) – it is a sincere blast to relive its finest moments and understand how it was achieved and more importantly remember how much it was a major part of the democratic process and how much it began to force politicians and social leaders and writers and scientists and authors and even celebrities hawking whatever to “be real” and give them either a forum to express or a place where they could…not…hide.

And I don’t think necessarily, as has been argued, that the power and scope of The Daily Show would have meant a hill-o-beans in this past presidential election cycle, I do think it would have helped to frame it in its most peculiar terms, something we have striven for here since 1997, two years before Stewart sat in the chair and began to shift the narrative of American comedy, much like the usual suspects, Twain and Bruce and The Simpsons…you know the roll call.

Anyway, before this holiday season gets away from us, I wanted to put a few words together for Smith’s exhaustive work. I rarely get the chance to laud books here. I read so many damn books and some are definitely worth writing about and some…not so much. I do my bi-annual Rock Reads thing for the paper and that seems to suffice. I am not a critic and have no interest in faking it, but I think the readers of this column would get a kick out of The Daily Show (The Book) – An Oral History because it illuminates the aim and effectiveness of true satire and the skewering of our most cherished institutions as an art form I believe is the last vestige of reality (ironically) in a world that is replete with fabricated nonsense passing for righteous outrage and political expediency.

But mostly the book has made me miss the show and miss Stewart and all the great correspondents and writers and that nice exhale at the end of each day when it is eleven and we can laugh at our goofy human experiment and then nod off to sleep.

But at least we have this as a memento.

Bravo, Mr. Smith.

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NEXT UP – OUST CHRISTIE

Aquarian Weekly
12/14/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

NEXT UP – OUST CHRISTIE
Freeing the Garden State of Assholes since November, 2016

Feeling good.

Still high on our rousing victory over the scum that is Scott Garrett. That’s right, Garrett, you’ve got a few more weeks to bring the full force of the United States Congress down on me, then it’s off to the funny farm to protest stuff you’re afraid of or make a boatload lobbying for economic national socialism.

So we now turn our attention to our governor, Mista Christie, who has been more or less a political dead man now for months. We began to smell the familiar stank of decay on him around February when he dropped his charade of becoming president and became Citizen Trump’s bellhop. Turns out standing behind a candidate trying to appear relevant during campaign rallies netted him a whole lot of nothing, as he was summarily dropped from the fancy transition team minutes after the president-elect’s stunning upset victory on November 8, and has now been tossed from the shortlist of boot-lickers the new administration has lined up to duly ignore or explain or no-doubt apologize for what is sure to be high and wild times on Pennsylvania Avenue over the next four years.

I just want to point out that this is the Trump Administration that Chrisitie cannot get a sniff in. “Apes Tossing Feces at Each Other” is the employable motto over there. Pretty much anyone who supported Trump and can suck air for five minutes without keeling over and can kind of put two sentences together with verbs and stuff is being given prime gigs. Shit, Trump’s Atlantic City pit-boss will be heading the Department of the Interior. Pretty soon Sarah Palin, whose IQ is a tick north of 70, will probably be running something important. The guy in charge of National Security thinks the religion of Islam is a front for terrorism while a rabid anti-Zionist is pulling the strings. And I’m sure I have the wording wrong, but I think Dr. Ben Carson is in charge of the Department of Jesus or something or other. But Chris Christie? He’s out.

This is akin to having Motley Crue kick you off the tour for being “a little drug-happy”.

It’s bad is what I am saying.

This is not surprising, since the governor of New Jersey has now set a record-low in approval ratings. We’re now at 19 percent, folks; the most pathetic in two decades around here. If this was a normal state run with a history of somewhat competent civil servants you’d likely have to reach back a century or so for that kind of futility. But this is New Jersey. Usually, if you can spell cat after being spotted the “C” and the “T” and stay out of jail, you can get 40 percent. Our bar is low and we expect lunacy. Of course, Christie can always say he’s no worse off than Sam Brownback, who has turned Kansas into the Hunger Games without the attractive young people.

Bad is my point here.

The latest Quinnipiac poll, which is mostly a Republican bitch, stated in its summation that “Everyone hates Chris Christie.” This is a direct quote. That is not opinion; it is what the data tells them. Water boils at 212 degrees, a whale is a mammal, and Chris Christie sucks ass. According to a parsing of the raw statistics, every possible group despises the man.

In a strangely Darwinian way, Mista Christie has managed to become the most non-partisan of concepts. He has brought the state together like nothing else could. He is indeed a “uniter”. We all think he is very, very bad.

This, however, in political parlance, makes him toast.

Now we begin to see if we can get him to quit. This is our goal here.

Then we can get around to legalizing pot, reverse this onerous gas tax, and stop bear hunts. Get this state rolling, jack.

Water boils at 212 degrees, a whale is a mammal, and Chris Christie sucks ass.

I am appalled that only 4,200 or so people have signed Petition 3908 thus far. It is a memo to congress to send Christie out on a rail. I have mostly ignored it, because petitions to congress are stupid, but also because the Tar & Feathering rider has been summarily removed. Hell, I figure with Trump in charge we can bring back some of the things that truly made this country great. Like rolling fat useless government slags in scolding tar and heave large pillows of feathers over them while children sing “God Bless America” and we fire cannons at the Irish.

But I digress.

Chris Christie is a horror show and he must go and he will go, it is merely a matter of time, but humiliation must also be part of the procedure. This is why despite my repeated calls to Trump Tower to beg the Human Grenade to give Christie some kind of job just to get him out of here; valet, new pit boss in Atlantic City, or throw him a spade and have him break ground on the already paid-for Mexican wall; I have decided the best thing is threat of incarceration. I have it on good authority that he cannot merely be shamed from office. Although, to be fair, I did not need iron-clad sources on this; have you seen what this guy looks like? He goes out looking like that and actually appears on TV. What could you possibly do that would shame the man?

For this project I will employ my new buddy, Congressman Josh Gottheimer. He owes me big time. It is not every century a Democrat runs my district, and it isn’t every political season that a loon like yours truly gets to lean on a congressman for pay-backs.

First Garrett, now Christie.

Last chance to drag New Jersey in the twenty-first century.

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THE BALLAD OF DISTRICT FIVE

Aquarian Weekly
12/7/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE BALLAD OF DISTRICT FIVE
How Acting Like a Total Jack Ass Helps Flip the Tide of Politics

Victory is mine.

At least that is how I choose to frame it. When you get a column someday, then can you crow. This is my moment and I’m taking it.

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Sure Democrat Josh Gottheimer now represents New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District, my district, after what was a highly contentious and some say patently ugly battle over the past months. But that is merely a sidelight around here. What really happened is I got involved. For the first time. And I kicked ass.

I’m not entirely sure what the hell Gottmeier’s got going, but I know he is not his opponent and our current Congressman Scott Garrett. This was an opposition front from the get-go. Topple the horrid and deal with the terrible. Old time politics. Gory. Brutal. Music for the masses and sweet demolishment for the wicked.

Fuck Donald Trump. I’m a bigger asshole and I can prove it. My victory is even more unlikely.

2016! Assholes are in!

Let me just point out that my throwing this thing into turmoil helped to flip a district that has not elected a Democrat in 85 years. That’s right, long before my parents were on the planet. Eight decades plus. Nearly a century. Not one Democrat.

Then I got pissed.

And I wish to be clear; I was not necessarily politically pissed. It matters little that Garrett was a Republican. He is scum. And he had to be sent packing.

At first I was merely inconvenienced, then mildly annoying, then increasingly angered. It was around flat-out pissed that I got involved in the race.

If you think about it, the entire history of civilization is summed up in the above sentence.

American Revolution is Inconvenience – Annoyance – Pissed.

It all began for me with simply researching what the hell my representative was about. I suggest you do so, as soon as you are done reading this. I don’t care what you stand for, but when everything the person representing you in congress stands for makes you want to violently retch, it is time to get warmed up.

As soon as Scott Garrett’s record revealed itself to be a tsunami of bigotry, spite and overall dumbness, taking this thing into the realm of the asinine suddenly appeared worthy of my angst-in-motion.

Okay, let’s recap; A few weeks ago I became embroiled…okay, I embroiled directly…in a very public tete-a-tete with Garrett, whom I openly challenged to a fist fight in print. I felt, and rightfully so, that everyone needs a beating once in awhile in their life. I took them. Many times. They are good for the soul. They teach you that ideologies and debate are all well and good, but a direct hit to the temple can wake a man, give him needed perspective. Garret was way overdue for this, and I took up my patriotic duty to administer it, with extreme prejudice.

This was not my initial plan. I was having the time of my life covering what was the most absurd of presidential campaigns run by two giant assholes and generally making glib of all-things as usual here. Then I started getting inundated with robo-calls from the Garrett campaign. One or two a week became five or six and then it was every evening, right around eight or so. Sometimes, as I shared with my readers, it interrupted key dancing time with my eight year-old daughter. We dig punk and we dig it loud and the incessant phone ringing and then some automated falderal being read in a sub-mental drone could not be obliged.

To be frank, I was already at a boiling point with Garrett’s bi-annual digital town halls that would call my home and then for close to twenty minutes, if I dared answered or my machine picked up, would not allow me to remove it from my line. My phone connection was literally hijacked by this nonsense.

And so I began badgering Garrett’s campaign to cut the shit. They did not comply. I could have reported the whole operation to the FCC or some such, but I despise “proper channels”. I like to get ugly. Not to mention, I have this nifty forum and it seemed right to use it in the most vicious way.

American Revolution is Inconvenience – Annoyance – Pissed.

As you might have read in the now infamous series of Garrett bashing (“Scott Garrett Needs an Ass Kicking” and “Scott Garret’s Intimidation Machine Versus Me”), which resulted in the aforementioned challenge to brawl, I could not have been more blatantly satirical. Yet, I thought it my journalistic duty to gather a comment from him. Several professionally placed calls to his campaign came up empty. The campaign then decided this would be a good time to accuse me of harassment (ironically what started all this was their harassment of my home phone) and got local police involved.

All of this back-and-forth, of course, was published here and on the fancy Internet and that is when things got interesting.

It started with calls from the Gottheimer Campaign. They had been spending way too much time trying to answer for me, and the seriousness of first my challenge and then the cops being brought into the fray. They asked if it was okay to send newspapers and online blogs my way and even requested I address a rally for their candidate, for which I answered the same way I have for nearly twenty years of this; “I don’t do rallies.”

It wasn’t until Politico contacted me that I realized this had gone national and it was directly affecting the race. Some off-the-record comments, which I can now reveal, since Gottheimer is the congressman-elect, from his people were telling me the negative feedback from voters to the petty and feckless over-reaction from Garrett was putting a strain on his campaign. They were actually answering questions on whether they understood the concept of satire and whether Garrett was afraid of a 54 year-old writer who is a little over five foot and 125 pounds soaking wet with a bag of nickels in his pocket. Even the cops who were calling me laughed at the whole thing.

And then I found out there were tapes of my calls to the Garrett Campaign, not only archived, but sent to the authorities. I was able to obtain them through a journalist whose name shall not be revealed, because I wouldn’t want mine revealed, not so much to protect sources.

I cherish those tapes now- every syllable dripping with sarcasm and rage. They will be my legacy here.

For all the crap I have stirred up over the past nineteen years of this cannot compare to acting like a complete idiot and having it result in a victory.

Now I know how Donald Trump feels.

Fuck him. I’m a bigger asshole.

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PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP – AN EXPLANATION IN TWO PARTS

Aquarian Weekly
11/16/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP – AN EXPLANATION IN TWO PARTS

Editor’s Note: The following are two brief explanations on how a reality TV star is now president of the United States by first jc and then his old colleague, former Conservatively Speaking columnist, Bill Roberts.

I have to be honest; I’ve got nothing.

Really, what right do I have to pontificate when I was spectacularly wrong about this entire thing? And not only the results of the election, but long dissertations on demographics and gender gaps and the shifting generational pull away from the kind of throw-back populist falderal pitched by the new president elect, Citizen Donald J. Trump.

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First off, data took a big nosedive here – in fact, everything in the realm of modernity was cast aside for at least one election cycle; global trade, progressive socials issues, the realities of a 21st century cyber-based economic model, international diplomacy and geo-political military intervention. And really, that is the nut here; in the end Hillary Rodham Clinton would have been president if she held fast to the reliable Rust Belt. She did not. Big league. As her opponent may put it. Pennsylvania (not Republican since 1988), Michigan and Wisconsin (not Republican since 1984) and even Minnesota, as of the time of this writing still being counted, which was the only state the Democrats won in ’84.

What all this tells me is this result had less to do with corruption and emails and untrustworthiness and the FBI than it did with raw, blue-collar economics, which used to be solidly Democratic, or at least when Ronald Reagan wasn’t on the ballot. This was about a changing world that scares the shit out of the low-educated white man, the overwhelming support of which shifted these states into Trump’s column and turned him from punch line TV clown into the president of the United States. But it is also about anger. Anger sometimes wins the day. This time it surely did.

Turns out, Trump was wiped out by Hispanic/Latino vote, skimmed a little off of the Obama African American vote, lost out on the college-educated white vote (somehow he was not sunk by women), but not by the margins that could stem the tidal wave of lower middle-class people expecting a messiah to bring the 1950s back.

Good luck with that.

We know less about Donald Trump than any human who has achieved this station. He is vaguely erratic, sometimes unhinged and always recalcitrant. I have no idea what he stands for or what he will do. But now being on the other side of the Trump phenomenon, since I was one of the few journalists who seemed to grasp his significance in the primaries but whiffed on the general, it must be stated that this is the greatest political upset in our nation’s history. Period. Trump was an eight-to-one underdog and he swept the table he needed to sweep. American history was written on November 8, 2016, for good or ill.

So maybe he can deport 11 million people and build a multi-trillion dollar wall on the Mexican border and most importantly force American companies back from abroad. I highly doubt it. But then again, I highly doubted this.

jc

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Okay, here is my morning after “Inside Baseball” explanation over why I was so sure Trump would win despite being told otherwise by so many other people. This is a bit long and may be boring, unless you are a political geek, so buyer be warned.

This wasn’t difficult to see if you knew what you were looking for. First off, this was a repudiation of the GOP and the NeverTrump crowd. The base didn’t believe the Establishment any longer and if you opened your ears and eyes you would have felt the outrage building. The ascension of Trump is of the GOP’s making and it was clear to see. The NeverTrumpers sadly have to make a choice. The party is no longer yours. The door is still open to you and you can come home. We welcome you home ,but just know the people now own the GOP.

Trump had a populist message that was resonating with folks who watched their factories close and their jobs move away in the name of progress. Those folks were in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and they truly wanted change, yet after the politicians spoke, change was all they had left when their jobs and paychecks left town in the name of NAFTA. The shattering of the Blue Wall was astounding to see in real time.

to sum it up, prognosticating Trump’s win was not hope or faith. It was looking at real numbers and listening to real Americans.

As for the hidden, shy Trump voter, this was an easy one to see. If you had listened back in the primaries, instead of just screaming about who was a real conservative, you would have seen the GOP set a record for new voter registrations. They weren’t there for McCain and they weren’t there for Romney…they showed up for Trump, so it wasn’t a stretch or a leap to believe they were coming out for Trump. Now, the polls would never capture them because they hadn’t voted in 2012, so they were never going to show up on a pollsters call list, but they were there. I studied the polls and saw they sampled Democrats too high and didn’t adjust to what I felt to be a correct sampling number, which was about a GOP plus-five. This formula held true in PA, MI, OH and WI. What was shocking was how well the Panhandle in Florida performed in blunting Broward, Dade and Palm Beach’s Democratic onslaught. I admit, I always believed Trump would win in Florida, but the way it occurred even shocked me.

So to sum it up, prognosticating Trump’s win was not hope or faith. It was looking at real numbers and listening to real Americans. Had the media done that as I did, they wouldn’t be sitting there with egg on their face looking all stupid this morning.

Speaking of the media, you guys are done. You are through, you cast your lot as an active combatant and now you will pay the price. People will no longer place any value in your reporting and the ridicule you will receive is well-earned and you must endure it as it is a self inflicted wound.

Finally, here is why Trump will be one of the greatest President’s in our nation’s history. He knows we voted for his message and his ideas not necessarily him the man. He knows if he lets us down, we will fire his ass in four years. He is the right man for the job and I am proud to call him “My President”.

Bill Roberts
Conservatively Speaking

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EVOLUTION OF A YOUNG WOMAN AS AN ARTIST

10/5/16
Aquarian Weekly
BUZZ

EVOLUTION OF A YOUNG WOMAN AS AN ARTIST
Songstress Gina Royale Takes The Big Leap

By James Campion

She stands before the microphone the picture of unwavering confidence, sinuously fitted into a scarlet dress; her hair turned from wispy chestnut to a pin-straight, deep black. Gina Royale on stage at New York City’s famous Duplex downtown cabaret for two separate shows over two crucial months of her burgeoning career; one in the relative chill of an early-April, Manhattan night, the other in the steaming bustle of late June. During the first, she introduces her new band, bassist Graham Orbe, Liam Kerekes on drums, and musical partner, Emily Case on guitar and vocals. The second, once again with the same band – this time a few months of shows tighter – is Royale’s CD launch party for her newest collection of songs titled, Brain Waves.gr_1005_03

Royale giggles between numbers, introducing each with short anecdotes of their origins, then looks to the band for a count-in, and it is there; pure and strong, effortlessly filling the room; her emotive, chilling voice takes over. It lifts and tumbles through songs about hurt and confusion, joy and loss. She owns these songs; they are like morsels of her psyche and the voice leads us through her journey. The audience takes a moment following the codas to exhale. Then there is a hoot or a whispered, “Wow’, followed by rousing applause; as the morsels are released back to her. And she giggles again; her smile as infectious as her natural instrument.

The maturation of Royale and her combo is stark. A year or so ago she was a determined but soft-spoken high school kid with big ideas and a handful of catchy songs co-produced by her dad and manager, Andrew Rajeckas, a fine songwriter and pianist in his own right. Back then she talked about school plays, petty jealousies, and snide nods to ex-boyfriends. Now, a year into her studies in the Pop Music Program at William Patterson University, having received praise for a music video for her stirring ballad, “Walk Without Gravity” that increased interest from record companies, and a series of seminal gigs both solo and with the band, she is beginning to ease into tell-tale traces of defiance, a razor-sharp directive, and an appreciation for all that the music has afforded her.

Only moments before, backstage, the members of the band, excruciatingly young with just enough green to allow for snickering and feigned shyness, flop on couches and make passing remarks on the size of the crowd and the minor troubles with the sound check. In the middle of it all, like a port in a storm, is Royale, petite and cautiously energetic. Despite a modicum of brashness and a wry sensuality, she calmly addresses the whirlwind of the past few months.

“I was definitely more comfortable in the studio this time around,” she says, acutely aware of her band mates leaning in to hear. “And I like my music a little more this time too, not that I didn’t like the songs on my first record, Heir, but I think Brain Waves has more personal meaning to me.”

How so? I must ask.

“I’m a pretty passive person mostly, so the last time I sat back and allowed my producer, (Rob Freeman) and my dad to come up with ideas and direction, which was the right thing to do because all I had were the songs and my piano. I had no experience arranging or producing. So, in the end, it sounded little too poppy for my personal taste. Don’t get me wrong, they did a great job, but this time around I was more engaged and had discussions on the sound and direction of the songs.”

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This means being more comfortable in the themes of her songs, which, according to Royale has sparked some maternal concern. “My mom wishes I’d write happier songs,” she smiles. “But I’m confident in facing the sadder themes, because I know I’m not a depressed person normally, I’m just inspired lyrically to express the sadder side of myself. I think if I attempted a happy song it would just come out cheesy.”

There is nothing “cheesy” about Brain Waves, and yet even with Royale’s protestations, there is still a palpable pop sensibility to all the “sadder themes”. The title track, played delicately on ukulele, is an adorable paean to loyalty, in love and friendship. “You’re still here…” she sings sweetly, “You’re still here…” as she dreams of what that means by song’s end; “There’s a masterpiece in your complexity now.” On the other side of the emotional spectrum are the aforementioned “darker” songs like “You Don’t Want Me” or the aptly titled, “Mean Song” with its dire warning, “…look for the clues/‘Cause they all point to you.”

I’m confident in facing the sadder themes, because I know I’m not a depressed person normally, I’m just inspired lyrically to express the sadder side of myself.

The collection’s strongest songs are “Battle Cry” and “Let’s Just Kiss”, the former a powerfully combative rocker that snarls with the best of them; “I’m breaking through the boundaries/You haven’t seen the last of me,” she sings with a wink at empowerment and a fist-pump of vengeance. “And this is my battle cry/And it is war tonight.” The epic resonance of the latter, a wonderfully arranged and emotionally-charged ballad, far exceeds the years of experience for such a young performer who now insists on writing a song about physical intimacy that mocks our limited language and ham-fisted gestures. It resounds as personal confession and social commentary. “Let’s just kiss/Just two lips/A kiss does all the talking, when you’re clueless/Let’s just kiss/Savor the bliss/Before I say something that takes away from this.”

When Royale and the band played this song in early April, the room was stone silent; the players deeply focused on their instruments – the singer, eyes closed and hands sweeping adroitly over the keys, throwing her every fiber into the phrasing. The applause was effusive, as if the crowd was suddenly released from the lyrical plot she cleverly devised to share. And in many ways, the band too could feel the release.

“If you listen to the record and then you listen to the band play these songs, it’s completely different,” guitarist, Emily Case told me backstage in June. “We get to put our own spin on everything; Graham has put his own thing into the bass part and Liam has added quote a bit to the live drum parts. It works!”

“Since I predominately play jazz, I’ve been able to add a jazzy edge to the songs,” cites Liam Kerekes, as bassist, Graham Orbe, who calls himself, “a jazz nerd”, adds, “I think the mutual experience of being in the same music program has created a bond between us.”

“I like everything they bring to the table, because I know them personally,” Gina adds. “I trust their instincts because I know they’ve taken the time and effort to put their flavors into a song.”

gr_1005_02It is clearly evident that Royale revels in the camaraderie of her fellow musicians and remains humble with a keen understanding of the road that lies ahead, but there is a tone to her answers these days that transcends the goal-orientated teenaged dreamer I spoke to in the studio as she recorded her debut in the autumn of 2014. Slowly, but surely, this is now a seasoned professional poised to lead a band through a forty-five minute set of her songs on a renowned Greenwich Village stage.

When she finally does take the stage on that steamy June night there is a polish to Royale’s performance that was absent last year, or even in April. Supported ably by like-minded artists, she works the crowd during songs, where before she would keep a steady eye on her fingers as they crossed the piano keys. She strikes a seductive sideways glance and interacts with her band mates, crucially bringing the audience in when needed.

The band works effortlessly through the split between both of her albums, as if she is acutely aware of the building blocks of these mini-dramas she has put to music, how she grew up and into them, and how they are there to keep her steady. And as they venture boldly into the new material, as promised, it sounds rawer than the disc I was sent a few weeks before its release. There are chugging, distorted guitar rhythms from Case crossing over the steadily whimsical piano accompaniment from Royale, balanced on the jazzy backbeat of Kerigas and a tasteful bottom end from Warby.

Through maturation of experience and the amity of a like-minded musical ensemble, Gina Royale is off and running into the next phase of her career. The evolution of the young woman as an artist has begun.

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VIEWS FROM THE ROAD: THE ADAM DURITZ INTERVIEW

Buzz Feature
8/9/16

James Campion

VIEWS FROM THE ROAD: THE ADAM DURITZ INTERVIEW
Counting Crows Frontman Reveals the Band’s Unique Performing Secrets, His Love of Creative Spontaneity, and Remembers David Bowie and Prince

Over the past eight years now Adam Duritz and I have spent some quality time just talking; much of it has ended up in this paper. Each time Counting Crows comes into town, which is quite a bit, we chat. And each time it is engaging, informative, intimate, and analytical. In all my years doing this I have rarely found a more insightfully honest subject.

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This time is no different, as the band readies another swing around the U.S. this summer; a perfect opportunity for Duritz to share his views on his organically emotional live performances, playing with Springsteen, the passing of David Bowie and Prince, and “normal” life versus that of “the road”.

jc:A Counting Crows show always features unique versions of your songs, as the band often follows your lead on stage, which always appears to be extemporaneous. You get into an emotional state and you take a song into different directions, which is remarkable when considering how many musicians you work with.

AD: Oh, yeah. That’s exactly how it happens. The first time you try something it might not be all that good, but as you work it through more and more you get better at finding your way. But they’re good. It would be impossible if we weren’t. Listening is really everything for us. It’s a big thing in our band. It’s like they say about jazz and soul music, it’s more important what you don’t play than what you do play. I would probably phrase that more like, “It’s more important how you listen on stage than what you play on stage,” because no matter how good you are as a player, if you’re not listening to the other guys, it’s a train wreck, especially in a band like ours, where there’s so much improvisation. It’s not like solo improvisation, more like necessary group improvisation. You really have to listen and that’s the thing we really kind of beat into each other’s heads for a long time.

jc:I always get the feeling that you are kind of leading the band down the proverbial rabbit hole, and once the song gets in there, now it can go anywhere.

AD: Yes. It makes it a little dangerous to not listen for me too because people will do things and on top of it, it’s messy. That’s the one thing in our band that everyone will call you out on, just not paying attention. Also a lot of things that may seem like me leading down the rabbit hole, might have been me hearing something cool someone else did that was a small thing, maybe too simple for anyone else to have heard or for the audience to have noticed it, but that might have given me an idea. It’s not like I’m the one coming up with the ideas every time. It probably sounds like it is, but probably a lot of times; it’s someone else doing something kind of cool that I hear and then I start something different and then that’s the part you hear, or the audience hears because it’s a little more obvious when the vocal does it. I suppose I’m the one making the decisions to take everyone down the rabbit hole with me, but I’m often inspired by just something little someone else did – or not so little. Little is the wrong word. Just something cool that someone else did.

jc:That reminds me of your putting “Thunder Road” in the middle of “Rain King,” and I remember you doing it back in ’97 in Jersey and I thought, “This is perfect. It’s a homage to Springsteen.” But then it became part of what you did with the song, and after we did our first interview in 2008 you played that Apple show downtown in Soho and you did it again, but this time it was a different way of utilizing it. When you include a verse or even a chorus of one song, maybe yours, maybe another’s, how predetermined or organic is that idea?

AD: Could be a little of both. It could be an idea that comes while I’m on stage. The “Thunder Road” thing is a perfect example. I just started doing it one day, and granted, “Thunder Road” is one of those songs that without thinking about it we kind of know it from start to finish. It’s so dynamic in the way it builds that you kind of know most of the words. Even if you didn’t bother to learn them, they’re in your head. I was never really in cover bands very much. I never played “Thunder Road” in a band, but I started singing it that day. The first time I did it I only got about a third of the way through. No matter how well you know “Thunder Road” I’m singing it to the music of “Rain King” and that can get confusing.

jc:(Laughs) Right.

AD: You know? The next night I got a little further through it and eventually I put almost the whole thing in there. But it took a few days to do that. And sometimes you just get an idea while you’re singing something, like just a melody from another song will seem really cool in there, but the first time you do it you might not have the focus or the wherewithal to think of that melody in the context of the different song and also remember the words. The funny thing is a lot of times when we remember songs we remember them because of their melodies too, so when you try to sing them over a different song it can make your head spin around a little bit.

jc: How much post mortem do you guys do on that? Do you guys get together after a show and say, “Oh, that one part of ‘fill in the blank’ we went there and I could see it going there”? Is there any way you can verbalize it?

AD: We talk about it a lot, especially in the middle of a show. If I hear something that we keep doing wrong or something, I’ll go to the mike at the back of the stage where I can talk to my monitor guys and my stage manager and I’ll often just give them a note, like, “Can you just tell Charlie this later or tell Immer this about ‘Good Night Elizabeth’?” I will make quick notes, so I don’t forget. We’ll also talk a little bit about it the next night at soundcheck and work on it.

A good example is the Teenage Fanclub song, “Start Again”. We really love playing it and we didn’t stop working on it even two years after the record (Underwater Sunshine – 2007) was already out. I still kept feeling like it didn’t work right. It starts with just an acoustic guitar and then it’s an acoustic guitar and a mandolin, and there’s some piano that comes in and then more vocals and then the twelve string comes in at one point, but all that’s about two thirds of the way through the song, and for the last third of the song I really felt like it was a song we established through dynamics by slowly building things, but nothing happened for the last third of the song. Then we came up with an idea, I guess it was the last chorus of the double-chorus, to drop all the instruments out and have it just be vocals. I think it happened because someone forgot to play something in one show and one of us noticed it and we talked about it the next day and sort of then tried to do it on purpose. So eventually we then kind of came up with a way of doing it where everybody dropped out except the twelve string, which kept playing.

I really wish we had that when we recorded it, but we didn’t. Even though the recorded version is the ultimate version to me, it’s great if you can come up with all that stuff. But sometimes you just don’t, so why not make the song better if you can?

jc: And the happy accidents only happen if you keep playing. There is no way to get a happy accident or something that’s organic like that unless you’re playing all the time and constantly listening, as you say.

AD: And also being willing to see something as not just a mistake, but possibly an improvement; seeing a happy accident as happy as opposed to just an accident. Because the fact is that music is that way, so people do things because of some gut instinct and often that seems like a mistake and it is a mistake, but the jazz of playing together is that you can hear something and it just gives you a different way to look at the song.

Just the same way that my being in a different mood on any given night might cause me to take a song in a different direction, it’s the subtle stuff that takes it to another level. We’re playing every night for twenty-five years, so, like I say, why not keep getting songs better?

It’s more important how you listen on stage than what you play on stage

jc: The last time we spoke it was probably the day after or two days after Robin Williams committed suicide and then I think that when we first spoke about Somewhere Under Wonderland, Lou Reed had passed while you guys were recording it. And since then David Bowie and now Prince have passed. I’m just wondering if you had some thoughts about Bowie’s passing and certainly Prince’s, who is a little bit closer to our generation.

AD: Well, Bowie was really big for me, because I came to Lou Reed probably through Bowie. I think I got to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground and all that music through the experience of Bowie, to Transformer and then backwards to the Velvets, probably with a big dose of R.E.M. covering Velvet songs to push me into that too. I mean, I had probably heard “Walk on The Wild Side” when I was a kid, but I don’t think I really understood Lou Reed until I had really gotten into Bowie. He is really the thing that draws all that together; what a song like “Palisades Park” is especially rooted in. It comes from Bowie and Mick Ronson. I obsessed over Bowie bootlegs when I was younger.

That was hard. That was really weird and upsetting. It seemed so sudden too. You’re not part of their lives, so you don’t realize that they’re sick or something. You don’t really know about it. So it seems like there’s someone you have been with your whole life, and then all of a sudden, it’s just on the news that they’re dead and that’s it. It’s hard to digest that in that way because you don’t really get prepared for it. It’s almost like when people die in accidents. It just happens very suddenly and there’s no prep for it because even though this isn’t that, weren’t not living with the lives of our idols, no matter who they are we don’t really know them that well, so when they do pass away it’s, for us at least, without warning, which is strange.

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jc: When Hunter Thompson died or Kurt Vonnegut died, I looked at it in terms of how many more years do I have left to ply my craft? It put my own mortality into perspective. I don’t know if the same happens to you when an influential musician dies.

AD: The interesting thing for me with Prince, because, you know, when I was a little kid my first concert was Jackson 5, and soul music was a huge part of the American rock and roll experience for white and black people. There was no real division there. But sometime in the ‘70s, and especially in the early ‘80s, it separated again. It was like there was R&B music that black people listened to and some white people, and then there was rock and roll that white people listened to and it wasn’t like when there were bands like Sly and the Family Stone or the Jackson 5 or whoever, where there were just black people who played rock and roll and it was funky and it was still rock and roll. There seemed to be a real racial divide in music. The only person crossing over it was when Michael Jackson put out Thriller, but even that was a little later. I really remember pretty vividly Dirty Mind. The first thing I heard about him was that the Stones were going on a tour and this guy Prince was opening for them.

jc: They threw shit at him and booed him off the stage.

AD: Yeah. That’s what I mean about there being a real separation between white and black music. He got booed off the stage! But I remember hearing “When You Were Mine” and some of the other stuff on Dirty Mind, and thinking, “No man, this is the Ramones. This is like punk music. It’s new wave music.” In the same way in the midst of all the dinosaur progressive rock music that people were playing in the 70s’ the Ramones came along and just put guitars and basses on and played very simple chord patterns and melodies. “When You Were Mine” is just like that. It’s a little cleaner, but it’s just a black guy playing a very melodic rock and roll guitar to a very straight drumbeat and a great melody. That could be a Motown song. It could be a Ramones’ song.

And I remember hearing the rest of the album and how vulgar some of it was and thinking it was kind of cool. I didn’t really start to love him until the next record Controversy, which is way funkier than Dirty Mind. Controversy’s got all these long funky jams on it and it really reminded me of like some of the Earth Wind and Fire, Commodores stuff when I was younger, but with this whole other edge to it, and also was still the new wave stuff like “Ronnie, Talk to Russia.” And I remember thinking at the time, “This guy is Sly Stone. There is no color here. He is a black guy playing music for everybody that draws from everything and he is really different.”

jc: You’ve been off the road for a few months now. How are you feeling about getting back out there again?

AD: I think it will be good to get back on the road. I think this much time at home isn’t really all that healthy for me, honestly. It took me about three or four months to realize I was just sitting around. Not talking to people. Not seeing people. I was so relieved to get home in a way that all I did was sit here in my room. Then I started going to the gym again, started working out, and started talking to people and getting out of the house. But I get in such bad habits when I get home after awhile. I’ve been trying to like cure myself of them recently, but it will be good to be on the road again. Not so much for the touring but just because it’s a real community. It’s a family. You’re forced to be social every day, because you’re simply around people every day and that’s good for me.

jc: So you’re going to Europe first and then you come back here?

AD: Yeah. Between the European tours last year I went over to Europe with our tour manager and our manager and I called up a bunch of promoters and we asked to meet with promoters in different countries and apparently no one had ever done this with them before, because the agent comes and talks to them and people talk to their agents, but no one had ever traveled around talking to different promoters. I went to all these promoters in all these different countries and I said, “Look. I really like coming here and I understand that you only get us like once in a while and it’s kind of like whenever we’re coming, and so it may or may not be a good time for you, but do we build Counting Crows in Italy or how do we build Counting Crows in Holland? I really liked Claudio, the promoter over in Italy. He was talking and said, “I’ve got some ideas for gigs, but would also be good is you should open for Springsteen.” And I said, “Well, Claudio, Springsteen doesn’t have openers.” He goes, “I know, but he did it for me once over here. I think he would do it for me again for you.” I was like, “Okay, well…whatever; that doesn’t sound like the most promising idea I’ve ever heard.” But then Claudio called and he said, “I got Springsteen touring in Italy this summer. I want you to play with him at the Circus Maximus.” You know, the big Ben-Hur arena in Rome?

jc: Sure.

AD: So we got a gig with Springsteen in Rome. So we put some other gigs around it, but that’s what happened. Claudio came through.

jc: First time you’re playing with him?

AD: Yeah. At a Springsteen show. I never even heard of him having an opener before quite honestly. It should be cool.

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FINAL THOUGHTS ON ELECTION 2016

Aquarian Weekly
11/9/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

FINAL THOUGHTS ON ELECTION 2016
Rogues, Insults, Sexual Assault, FBI Investigations & Treason

There are a lot of people on both sides of the political aisle who are celebrating the end to this tumultuously outrageous bedlam that has been the 2016 presidential campaign. I am not one of them. In fact, I am bummed. Truly and completely.

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For a political junkie, and someone who has either obsessed over and/or covered these things for decades, the past 19 months have been a glorious ride. The very core of our nation’s grand experiment has been revealed and it is all the things it should be – ugly, petty, furious, passionate, covered in bullshit and innuendo and propped up by shameless greed and the kind of illusions and denial that make this nation the finest example of the human condition known to civilization.

No matter what you say about or think of Citizen Donald J. Trump, he has revealed us. Since the first horde of European land-grabbers stormed the Eastern shores of what would come to be known as North America under the flimsy guise of religious freedom, no one, at least in my lifetime, has embodied our spirit more. What beats inside us is the essence of horror. Its black, soulless innards transformed a minor colonial invasion into a world power, and it bubbles inside the very foundation of a Trump candidacy. He is our Columbus, our John Smith, our genocide and our Manifest Destiny. He is confederacy and Oklahoma City.

And no matter where you fall on the side of Hillary Rodham Clinton, she has revealed our system as a gorging monolith of corruption and hubris. She has shown us, well, Wikileaks, the Russian government and the NY Times has shown us that there are indeed two Americas, and a great many of us are not privy to the more affluent, powerful and sustainable one. The one we inhabit has never known a candidate. This candidate does not exist on this side of the tracks. We are led to believe it does, but it is a fantasy and we live in that fantasy as any J.R. Tolkien character.

It is this ghastly kind of pure, honest beauty that I will miss when everything more or less settles back in and the money takes over and the machine of government grinds again undeterred by what transpired here.

But this has been some ride, huh?

Right now we choose the leader of the free world from a sexual predator with a shadowy business past and the most incoherent ideology possible and a lifer politician with more secrets and shenanigans up her sleeve than even the most rancid of her kind. There have been worse candidates, only, I dare say, no more blatantly flawed ones on Election Day.

It is hard to believe that Madam Shoo-In has survived two FBI probes, possible treasonous secret servers that could well have compromised national security and a weird conflict of interest between her state department and a private multi-million dollar foundation in her name. Then again, her opponent has bragged about and been accused of sexual assault over a dozen times, has treasonous ties to the Russian government that has hacked into our political system, not to mention openly questioning the structural integrity of our democracy while simultaneously undermining a crucial strategic battle conducted in Iraq led by U.S. troops by erroneously pointing out the country he hopes to lead is losing and stupid and wrong.

All the while the Democratic National Committee systemically swayed the primary vote away from what they deemed an unelectable elderly socialist Jew, leading to the firing of its chairman and formidable accusations of rigging. The Trump campaign has fired two of its managers, one for assaulting a woman reporter and the other for his ties to the aforementioned hostile Russian despot that the candidate not only heralds but repeatedly denies national security findings of wrongdoing in influencing the election in his favor.

Trump says Clinton is being secretive, but, despite telling us how much of an economic wizard he is, refuses to release his tax returns. Clinton accuses Trump of being unfit for the presidency, when she could easily be impeached within her first 100 days. Trump calls Clinton corrupt, while he is being sued for two wildly fraudulent “foundations” and some sham university that have all been run like a racketeering mob front. Meanwhile Clinton, whose cash-rich machine hammers her opponent relentlessly in a phalanx of TV ads painting Trump as a negative hate monger. Trump calls Clinton a liar, when nearly everything he says is at best an unintelligible falsehood and worse still, blatant lies.

It is this ghastly kind of pure, honest beauty that I will miss when everything more or less settles back in and the money takes over and the machine of government grinds again undeterred by what transpired here.

Former Democratic Bill Clinton has called his party’s Affordable Care Act “the craziest thing” and one-third of the Republican Party, including many of its most powerful players, has called Trump everything from a con artist to a mentally unstable megalomaniac.

The press had gone off the rails. Cable news networks have turned into de facto fronts for both campaigns – MSNBC airs stories on whatever Clinton needs to win, as in lately the barrage of anti-African American concerns about voter suppression and the dismissal of Black Lives Matters by Trump, and FOX News continues to be an absolute joke with one of its night-time hosts directly advising the Trump behind the scenes while transforming an hour of news time every evening into infomercials. CNN has gone complete nuts hiring former aides to both campaigns and putting half-mad debris you’ve never heard of to literally scream at each other about jailing opponents and having the others deported.

How am I not going to miss this?

I’ll trade this in for threats to shut down the government over some nonsense you can barely pinpoint and veiled attempts to curry the favor of the Latino vote with bad plans on overhauling immigration?

Could we just let both of these lunatics lead us into the 21st century?

Please.

We promise to eat our vegetables, burn our books, salute some cloth and continue to believe we have a damn say in any of it.

But please don’t let this end.

Please.

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SCOTT GARRETT’S INTIMIDATION MACHINE VERSUS ME

Aquarian Weekly
11/2/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

SCOTT GARRETT’S INTIMIDATION MACHINE VERSUS ME
Humorless NJ Congressman Sics Local Police on Lil’ Ol’ Journalist

After last week’s column, the Scott Garrett campaign has waged war on the Reality Check News & Information Desk.

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Its candidate, a humorless shit-heel, has not only ducked my challenge to a fair fight, he has stooped to having his surrogates contact the poor, overworked Newton Police Department, so they can take valuable protect-and-serve time leaning on me. To be fair, the cops were only doing their due-diligence and I do not blame them. In fact, I know they would never say it, in order to appear objective, but I got the distinct feeling from the conversation that they thought the entire ordeal shear madness.

And so, for the record, since this pussy is shaking in his booties and considers my good work “harassment’, I hereby humbly rescind my challenge.

I am sorry Little Scotty. I promise to no longer “harass” you in print or on the phone or in emails or any other place journalism is practiced. You get a free ride to ply your bigotry unhindered.

However, this space shall not now or ever be intimidated by the likes of you or anyone in this government.

As stated last week, pal; you are messing with the wrong scribe.

First off, it would seem the congressman of New Jersey’s Fifth District, my district, is not only a shameless bigot, but he is unfamiliar with satire, which seems odd for someone so rich in characteristics to satirize. He also displays a complete misunderstanding of the concept of the First Amendment. I would venture to say from his actions this week that he is a vehement opponent of this nation’s most sacred rights granted to us by the creator God and the United States Constitution.

To wit: After my selfless volunteering in print last week to administer Mr. Garrett’s long-overdue ass kicking, I took it upon myself to follow up with several emails to his campaign office in Newton, New Jersey. Since the challenge was done with tongue firmly set in cheek – as if I have to make mention of that after nearly two decades of this – I thought it incumbent on me to seek comment from the candidate.

Journalism 101.

Come on.

Alas, there was no comment forthcoming, so I let it go until the piece hit the streets and speak for itself.

If you have not read SCOTT GARRETT NEEDS AN ASS KICKING, I suggest you do so, and unless your brain is made of guacamole, under five years-old, unfamiliar with the English language as a form of communication, or Scott Garrett, then maybe it offends or even shocks you. For the rest of us, it is business as usual here at The Desk; where our souls are hearty and voices lift us higher against the injustices of blah-blah-blah, bullshit-bullshit-bullshit.

Listen, whatever nonsense was in that column, it was written about a public figure, a political public figure who by the way is MY congressman and I presume wants MY vote. And, for that matter, one who has been in this arena for many years. How he has gotten this far with this thin a skin is anybody’s guess, but I think I might be right to question his ability to handle the rigors of this gig or really any gig in the public arena if he cannot take some ribbing from an alt-weekly columnist.

This is especially galling when said columnist not only reached out to confront his subject of derision – unlike most gutless swine who display their rage at rallies by shouting out horrible shit or making signs with horrible shit to lift in crowds or whip off tweets and blogs under assumed names. I am indeed willing to face the music any time any place. Not to mention my putting all of my vitriol under my byline, posted forthwith with pride as a member in good standing of the Fourth Estate. And, to be fair, I do print here monthly the most heinous attacks on my personage in Reader Responses without fail.

Consistency and guts, Mr. Garrett, this is how we do things here in the Fifth District.

Whiners need not apply.

And even if any of what I wrote last week was remotely serious, I was challenging to fight this idiot, not break into his house and beat him senseless. All he had to do is decline. To me. Directly. Like a man. Hiding behind “harassment” and wasting the police’s time trying to frighten me is as petty a response as possible.

How he has gotten this far with this thin a skin is anybody’s guess…

At least in the late ‘90s when I went toe-to-toe with Rage Against the Machine those bastards had the guts to hit me straight on. It would be an honor to go another ten rounds with them right now.

To be certain Garrett understood my aim here, I called his campaign offices, a public establishment, mind you, in Newton, NJ this week to formally make my plea. NOT a private residence, like my home, which the Garrett Campaign calls incessantly without retribution. Until last week, of course. During said phone call, I cordially offered to have the congressman pick the arena – a school gymnasium, open field or a back alley – for our controlled and officiated donnybrook. I also offered to have Channel 12 televise it and sell tickets to give the proceeds to Gay Rights or Planned Parenthood.

But Garrett chose to call the cops and threatened to press charges for “harassment”.

One phone call to make a simple request of my representative is harassment now?

May I offer; this is what is wrong with this country and its congress, with its 12 percent approval ratings. Can’t one man challenge the other to bare-knuckled justice anymore? What manner of man not only ducks this, but then sics the police on another?

Come on, man. Grow a pair and get a joke.

Maybe it’s time to get back into the reality of the private sector, sir.

Yeah, I think that’s it.

Hope these sinking poll numbers are correct.

Time to go, Scott Garrett.

You can’t handle this.

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