Pennsylvania Dooms Democrats Again 2008

Aquarian Weekly 4/30/08 REALITY CHECK

KEYSTONE KOP-OUT Why Barack Obama’s Inability To Bury The Clinton Ghost Dooms November

A few weeks before John McCain is sworn in as the next president of the United States, many in the press will likely ask What Happened To Barack Obama?

The majority will use antiquated measuring sticks to speculate on his inability to connect with white men, Catholics, Hispanics, older women, or low-income Reagan Barack ObamaDemocrats. Still others will ponder his first fractured weeks of April ’08, the spring of his discontent, when he had unlimited funds and media power, a groundswell of celebrity fervor, and two opponents both in and out of his party wounded by daunting preconceptions, relative campaign poverty, and the stench of old-time politics about them, but wasted valuable energy grappling with age-old labels of anti-Americanism, elitism and liberal mania. The rest will be left to deconstruct the night he tanked Pennsylvania and they’ll ultimately consider it his national election death knell. The night everyone finally realized that America would not be voting for a black, liberal, northerner, now matter how jazzed all the college kids and cable television hosts had become.

And they will all kick themselves for not seeing the obvious signs anyone with half the experience and none of the access were afforded. How could they not see that time and again all the huge crowds and revolutionary fire burning across the Internet and on the streets of big cities and on large campuses and the increasingly bogus blogoshpere had failed to seal a single absolute?

There are still very large holes in the “unsinkable” good ship Obama, flooded beyond retribution by the unshakably bizarre windmill-tipping masquerade of Hillary Rodham Clinton, spurned prom queen mutated into Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter.

But those paid to dissect this most historic of Democratic presidential primaries continually misread the American voter. Just when it seems the starry-eyed fallacy of youthful grass roots rebellion has all-but convinced the last vestiges of Journalism 101, things fall apart. Yet they continue to hold out the faintest hope for something new and improved, while clutching to a greater vision for big-time political theater. But it is repeatedly squashed by cold, hard facts; vote tallies they constantly push in Obama’s direction, despite all the evidence to the contrary; then real, raw votes push back.

Soon they will write that they did not heed the signs until it was far too late.

Perhaps they were too busy handing over a New Hampshire contest to the dynamic new kid on the block that he did not deliver. Still they paved a yellow brick road of Super Tuesday momentum in California, New York and New Jersey, but he was crushed. They ignored that and ascribed him lofty ambitions in Texas and Ohio after an incredible run of 12 wins in a row, effectively burying his opponent, but leading to his penultimate failure; he could not make Madam Shoo-In go away. They even convinced themselves to put him on the fast track to a single-digit loss in Pennsylvania that they believed would finally implode the old-time politicos to abandon ship and hand the whole caboodle over to a spit-shine orator that gave them all the kind of chills they’d conjured when they picked up the pen and applied for the press cards in the first place.

But it turns out no one has abandoned anything, and nobody with decades of bad road and shit-gorging and the soot and blood and sweat of long years on the stump and in the houses of congress and the backrooms of power are giving up the ghost that easily.

This is not Hollywood. This is not Dreamland. This is not a romantic novel of high expectations and heroic figures with candyland aspirations. This is the deep end of the American experience, the knife-fight, killjoy, air-sucking brass-knuckle jungle, and it is no place for unfurling preconceived notions of bountiful honor.

This is not Hollywood. This is not Dreamland. This is not a romantic novel of high expectations and heroic figures with candyland aspirations. This is the deep end of the American experience, the knife-fight, killjoy, air-sucking brass-knuckle jungle, and it is no place for unfurling preconceived notions of bountiful honor.

This is the black hole no one admits forms at the center of our high-and-mighty republic, a black hole that swallowed the Barack Obama myth in the Keystone State on April 22, 2008.

If Pennsylvania acts as anything but a Democratic Waterloo, it will be nothing short of a miracle. The only maneuver that might save the party from total annihilation is if Obama steals Indiana and snaps the mass hallucination that is the Hillary Clinton campaign on May 6. Then he will be free to provide serviceable fodder for Dick Nixon’s legendary Silent Majority.

But winning in November against a Caucasian gray-haired military Republican is now completely and utterly out of the question.

However, if Obama fails to take Indiana and shake up these rubes that keep handing the Clintons money so they can play candidate fantasy camp, the following scenarios are tabled:

1. The whole sordid ordeal goes all the way to the Denver National Convention with a Goldwater/Rockefeller type party split motivating a frightened gaggle of super delegates to force-feed the combined ticket of a woman/black man, which will lose the national election by a minimum of twenty points.

2. The Clinton Machine tumbles forth into August demanding retribution for Michigan and Florida delegates, prompting a perceived kidnapping of the nomination against overwhelming mathematics (trailing in pledged delegates, popular vote, and overall contests won) and voter will, which would likely incite a mass walkout of over thirty states and lead to a GOP landslide, or even more fatal for Democrats, an Obama secession into a third party that would not only queer any chance the Democrats have in 2008 but obliterate the party’s standing for the all-important redistrict extravaganza of 2010 that currently has them salivating for a national power grab.

3. Obama limps to inevitable victory in late-June with enough mud on him to sink even the most vetted, lily-white southern-crossed governor, let alone a black guy with ten minutes experience.

Not one of these scenarios ends with a Democrat in the White House, in a year that a splintered rake and a stripped ’74 Impala could defeat the Republicans.

What started out as a press geek’s dream has turned into a Fellini nightmare of clowns and tarred nudes and painted mules parading into a big top of smoking mirrors.

At the start of this thing, only three and half short months ago, Barack Obama looked like something we have never seen and would never see again, something almost weirdly pristine. After three months under constant campaigning, truckloads of cash spent, and Clinton Machine muckraking, he is sounding and looking like he might be just another tired Democratic leftist quack with not a chance in the world to cut into America’s very real Puritan/Racial/Cultural/Generational divide.

Perhaps he carries down with him the hope and prospects of an anti-cynical stance for a new generation of voter, who is fast learning what we all learn eventually: This is not a game for high-minded idealism, but a cushy seat in the black hole.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Confession Of An Elitist

Aquarian Weekly 4/23/08 REALITY CHECK


Hi, my name is James Campion, and I’m an elitist.

I’m fairly certain most of the people who have read even a sentence of this column over the past decade-plus have come to this conclusion already. But for those who have been laughing too hard or throwing up too violently to realize this personality trait, it is true.

ElitistNow, this does not mean I think I am necessarily better than anyone. Oh, heaven’s no. It is quite the opposite. You all have it over me. You’ve managed to fool yourself in thinking you matter. This is an enviable talent I do not possess. I have often admitted in print that I should be eradicated. Erased like a horrible mishap of biology. I am a completely useless organism that shamelessly gorges on the very systems I berate. I am a phony and a hypocrite. I need to die, right away, without so much as a hint of remorse. But, alas, I am too lazy and mainly interested in seeing what will happen next to do it myself.

However, I do think I see things clearer than most, in fact, way clearer. I am repeatedly, and in many ways, revoltingly astounded how utterly stupid most people are, and by most people, I mean anyone but me. In fact, I have pretty much figured that the entire human experiment is not only an abject failure, but if there is a God and he or she or it is responsible for this miserable shit, he is the ultimate fucking idiot.

Whew, that felt good.

Okay, so this brings me to the subject of today’s dissertation.

There was a lot of talk this past week out of Pennsylvania (the world’s think-tank) that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is also an elitist, just because he rightly pointed out that most hard-hat, Johnny Lunch pail, beer-gut, fast-food trough fuckers will never vote for “the black guy” because they are bitter, bigoted, gun-toting Neanderthals, who bludgeon the rest of us clear-thinking folk with their Jesus rants and demand those running for high office perform their goofy slack-jawed activities like bowl, fish, hunt, or back-spit at the corner watering hole while blaming all the ills of the world on women, “niggers”, and “those illegals” just to get a sniff of the dullard vote.

Shit, that’s not elitism. Not even close.

When you are done reading this missive, the hope against hope is your speed-addled, television-mangled dumb ass will be able to differentiate its author from Barack Obama, who is merely one of those intellectuals with a Faulty Edit-Meter.

For those of you with your face in a Blackberry, a Blue-Tooth in your ear and a thumb up your shoot, Faulty Edit-Meters are a dime a dozen in places like Harvard. Many of these overly nurtured and appallingly sheltered brain mutants are not allowed to roam through society, so they sequester themselves in academia in some form or other. Unlike us elitists, who get an endless kick out studying the damaged human animal, they fear every aspect of civilization. This is why many of them never leave higher education at all, safely walling themselves in with the other shuddering eggheads, who find a measure of pride in loathing the rest of us for jacking off to pro football and Project Runway reruns.

Obama is an intellectual that managed to escape the pod, that’s all.

Enlightenment keeps us from playing along with your knuckle dragging, drool-slobbered lifestyles and superstitions. In other words, most of what you cherish and enjoy about breathing for seventy or eighty odd years we honestly believe is not only petty and banal, but a dangerous self-mutilation of the precious gift of reason.

But people fear intellectuals like the plague. Many among us think the very concept of reading, debating, general discovery, the sciences, literature, high art, and subtle and not-so subtle forms of cultural rebellion is the plague, and these mindless thugs have been trying to halt it ever since they sent Galileo packing 375 long years ago. But he was the lucky one. Intellectuals have been summarily stoned, crucified, beheaded, tarred-and-feathered, burned at the stake, and other sordid pleasantries for centuries.

This is why faux historians and bored high school teachers still try to sell Adolf Hitler, a barely-educated hack painter bereft of an original thought in his badly styled head, as some kind of mad super-genius. He wasn’t a genius. He was a fraud. This is different than intellectual or elitist. Other frauds include religious conman Pat Robertson, social parasite Al Sharpton, baseball commissioner Bud Selig, and whatever steaming sack of vermin feces is the CEO of Guitar Center, to name just a few.

Elitist is merely a term the threatened hordes of mediocrity use to make the freethinking and open-minded feel like they’re diseased. True elitists call this Enlightenment. We adore this affliction. We worship it like you worship money, strip clubs, and invisible godheads. Enlightenment keeps us from playing along with your knuckle dragging, drool-slobbered lifestyles and superstitions. In other words, most of what you cherish and enjoy about breathing for seventy or eighty odd years we honestly believe is not only petty and banal, but a dangerous self-mutilation of the precious gift of reason.

I’ve said it before in various ways, so what’s one more: There is no point to you. You are sucking up vital minerals and resources this planet needs to keep nobler beasts and essential plant life going. It is you who are the virus. Humanity is nothing more than evolution’s fart in the wind. We suck, so we distract ourselves in a constant stream of meaningless activity and pointless belief systems to avoid the truth. But that’s fine, nothing, not even an amoeba wants to suck. But the good news is we’ll be gone someday and everything will return to normal.

Also, if I may, portraying someone as bitter because they were drawn into a fixed system like moths to a flame with fairytales of the American Dream – work hard, study hard and you will be king of the world – and end up being cold-cocked by the realities of life is not the least bit elitist. It is judgmental. Hell, some may say, and I may be one of them, fairly observant, actually. But everyone judges. This is part of the virus of humanity. Those trees and animals you’re killing through your futile existence don’t judge. The real Jesus guy alluded to something like that, not the crazy Euro-Christ mannequin you cling to, the guy whose basic tenets you ignore in order to better populate your fancy social clubs dressed up as churches.

Oh, and saying someone “clings” to something like the fight over gun rights or the pro-life issue is not an insult. I cling to the idea that if one more asinine politician tries to perpetuate a civil rights abuse on us again, like denying gay marriage, I’m not only going to not vote for them, I am going to spend many of my waking hours making sure they are exposed as the stone-cold fascists they really are.

So call Barack Obama a liberal or an amateur, say he is in over his head and a big-government tax fiend, but he is not “out of touch”. He’s “in touch”. He might be too “in touch” to be president. Those types tend to be badly articulated car salesmen with a buddy complex.

Now, if you want a true elitist to run things, look no further.

I’m your man.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Iraq – The New Iran

Aquarian Weekly 4/16/08 REALITY CHECK

IRAQ – THE NEW IRAN General Petraeus Hands Baby Bush A Tehran Surprise

Go find the young men never to fight again Bring up the banners from the days gone by Sweet moderation Heart of this nation Desert us not, we are Between the wars. – Billy Bragg

Happy TogetherI’ve been thinking about Billy Bragg lately, his song about the cycle of international chess the Big Boys play, and how after five years of this military abortion in Iraq we are no closer to anything resembling an end; and don’t think for ten seconds there will be one – whatever Bible-swearing caretaker is in charge – or how many speeches or hearings or investigations we’re inundated with. It is all downtime to the next fisticuffs, really. Always was, is, and will be. Change the names and faces, and here we go again, mista.

This week, General Petraeus, current commander of U.S. troops in Iraq and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker spoke for nine long hours before congress. There was a great deal of publicity about their recommendations to halt the planned troop reduction this summer and loads of commentary on their assessment of The Surge’s “continued success”, whatever in the wide world that could mean. But the most important phrase uttered by either man was simply “malign influence”, which both used when describing neighboring Evil Axis member, Iran’s place in this increasing theater of the absurd our nifty State Department boobs have designed.

Ah, Iran. Where have we heard that bauble before?

Here, for one.

Rifling through The Desk’s archives, we stumbled on this gem from a column entitled, “Manifest Destiny Made Easier Through Modern Chemistry”, dated late-December, 2004:

The American government is being duped by Iran, which now all but controls the fate of the coming January election. Not even what is left of the CIA can stop it. Any clear-thinking person without agenda or chemical dependency in the know understands this. Soon the Shiites will be in charge. They will take orders from Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and ask the Americans to leave, thank you very much. And all of Saddam Hussein’s nightmares will come true. He will be tried by the western infidels while the very same Iranians the United States paid him to keep at bay will run amok in his charred palaces, toasting his jailing.

People paid good money to practice journalism still possess the stones to ask why the hell Hussein kept refusing to reveal he had no weapons, even with the threat of U.S. aggression. The answer is simple: Either lie to the UN or risk letting the Iranians know he was a paper tiger and take him out. Americans seem to care about women and children and hospitals and taking prisoners. This is of little concern to Iranians. It was a fair trade off. Hussein knew, as did the CIA, that if it were the Iranians pouring over the border, the Grand Poobah’s head would have been on a spike, instead of getting a lice exam on CNN.

Eight and one half months of a lame duck wartime president and his gaggle of nation-builders ruminating over the chessboard.

Now the politicos, or whatever they call themselves in Tehran these days, see daylight with this hamstrung election next month, and soon the bloody paws of the American president will be asked to shake hands with the men who will plot 9/11 Part Deux and the United States will have to convince the rest of the planet how we have to gut the whole goddamned thing again.

And this will all be done legally through an election.

At least that is how it will appear. Elections are funny things. Sometimes they’re on the up and up, and sometimes the dead walk and pistols are brandished. Sometimes candidates bug offices and other times their soup is poisoned. Sometimes there is The Night of Long Knives and things go awry.

I see what is transpiring in Iraq right now, and although it resembles no real Euro-historical perspective outside the homogenized white-man’s Bible being peddled in Alabama currently or the drive-by that offed Francis Ferdinand, I am reminded of old-time politics. Not Richard Daley strong-arm street-whipping kind of politics. I’m talking Aaron Burr unloading a fatal pistol shot into Alexander Hamilton to decide the fate of New York kind of politics. Old time, real hard, skull-cracking, back-door fighting, western world type of politics: George Bush’s kind of politics. That is what will decide Iraq.

It was clear-headed long-term thinking, well reasoned and stated without trepidation. It sings, papa, like Bragg at the Royal Albert Hall circa 1984, but I have to admit; I don’t recall writing any of it. It seems like a dream now, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, the blurred years of occupation dressed up as war with all of our tax money (and the junk-loads lent by China) funneled east to rebuild, protect, and integrate a foreign nation ablaze in civil war. Our boy commander-in-chief as President of Iraq in bed with religious fanatics sold to the world as democracy.

General Petraeus continued to reiterate his concerns over “Iranian-supported Special Groups” manipulating violent outbursts in a phalanx of cable news interviews following the congressional hearing, wherein he painted a gory picture of not only Iranian influence on the ground in Iraq, and behind the slaughter of American soldiers, but also a very real and present danger within the barely-cobbled Iraqi government.

You might not believe the good general. The press might not believe him. The Iraqis might even be skeptical. But the only one who counts, George W. Bush, does. And so Captain Shoo-In took little time to announce to the world that he is on board with the whole deal, no shock to anyone who has paid attention to even the broadest details of this occupation for these five long years.

And that means anything is possible now: Attacks on Iran? More spitfire rhetoric? A January surprise before the purveyors of this ill-conceived roustabout hit the road for good?

It’s all on the table.

Eight and one half months of a lame duck wartime president and his gaggle of nation-builders ruminating over the chessboard.

Rook takes Pawn.

Your move.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Hillary Clinton’s Last Stand – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 4/9/08 REALITY CHECK

Behind The Scenes Of Madam Shoo-In’s Last Stand

Justice is the end of government. – Alexander Hamilton

Dynamic Duo Circa 1976When you do this for money and turn it over in print, you end up on the e-mail list for all kinds of promotional drek and various levels of campaign palaver from county comptroller to president of the United States. Privy to this stream of information and access to the individuals who compile and send it along is a unique perspective, especially as times careen into desperation. And desperate are the times for the doomed Hillary For President campaign and its grab-bag staff, many of whom have been hammering me to tell the story of their wounded candidate being bullied by party officials and stuffy “male” elders, who wish to steal the will of the people and hand it over to backroom Democratic moguls that would crush their champion of the underdog.

For a sizable fee I would take on such a task, a ringing endorsement, a defense worthy of William Kunstler. You would walk from these words a changed human, crying out into the wilderness that Clinton is Virgin Mother to us all, elixir to our economic ills, commander of our fate, and spiritual center of the American Dream. But there is no fee forthcoming, so there will be no unabashed defense of a multi-million dollar political celebrity, whose surname has unleashed havoc through Democratic Party circles for decades, and who, before the shock and awe of Super Tuesday Part One, February 5, was the overwhelming favorite to nail down an early nomination and set sights on the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

“Weep not for the big and strong that take it in the groin, bend over, and wail that they have been wronged.”

Benjamin Disraeli said that.

It was either he or a rug salesman I met in Jerusalem.

But one thing is certain; a funny thing happened on the way to the ball, Cinderella became a washwoman, and her coach a rolling vegetable, and those on board became feral and unhinged. They quit, they bickered; pointing fingers and cursing at each other like townie drunks on conference calls to the national press. Many who had been pulling down big paychecks suddenly realized there had been no plan past mid-February and that Barack Obama was not only failing to go away quietly, he was repeatedly beating their candidate, state after state, like a military drum.

That’s when the e-mails and calls started to become more and more bizarre, crazy claims of having won primaries that didn’t exist, making certain state votes more equal than others, playing every half-baked card from race to gender to silly claims of media bias.

That’s when campaign bullhorn Howard Wolfson began to admit that he wasn’t as smart and as tough as he thought he was, that his candidate was grating and ill-prepared for battle, that most people cringe at the sight of her and others become violently ill at the prospect that she might reopen the Lincoln Bedroom to scores of drug dealers, Hollywood creeps, and Southern real estate rapists.

It was Wolfson’s idea to create the Clinton Myth that she had any chance of winning anything after Obama made mincemeat of the math on February 19 in Wisconsin, that his candidate should go on national television and say the Republican nominee was a better leader than her Democratic opponent. It was Wolfson, not the beleaguered and now emasculated strategist Mark Penn, who commanded a Red Bull swilling Wall Street actuary to claim his candidate had a de facto Electoral College number lead over the soaring Obama, or that somehow, as the final votes were counted in Texas last week and the opponent had won, that “momentum should will out”.

Let both parties crumble under the weight of a brutal truth: The two-party system has wrought this groaning creature, not Clinton or Obama. They are merely its symptoms.

But no one listens to Wolfson anymore, least of all Hillary Clinton. Her husband has convinced her to decry the weasels that silenced him when he had this baby on the run back in South Carolina, calling Barack Obama “Jesse Jackson-Lite”. Now he’s back, imploring The Party he used to have in his back pocket to calm down. But they’re too busy running for the hills to listen. Calm is the last emotion political animals express when they see an inevitable November stomp turning into a John McCain Comeback.

Every poll imaginable has the Republican candidate leading both Democrats in this election year of endless war, economic disaster, and Ulysses S. Grant approval ratings. So the Party is through being the Clinton’s bitch and has begun to fight back, privately and publicly. The groundswell is palpable and overwrought with feeble dealmakers. None of them appreciate the Hillary Machine mocking their un-democratic rules, riling up spurned delegatations from Michigan and Florida, accusing caucuses of being fixed, calling The Party a strong-armed fascist regime, and shitting all over its frontrunner at every turn.

Since the aforementioned Super Tuesday last gasp, Obama has gained 53 all-important Super Delegates and Clinton has lost a net of five. These include insiders who have been carrying the Clinton’s water for over a decade, not the least of which is the opportunistic Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico and former presidential candidate, as clever as any vermin abandoning a sinking skiff. Richardson, a former Clinton lackey, is just the biggest name to go public. More are coming.

They were promised big futures, free rides, and a bask in victory, not this tedious wallowing in the sad fumes of yesteryear and an endless mop-up after a series of bogus claims the candidate makes about bartering peace in Ireland, taking on pharmaceutical companies, and dodging sniper fire in Bosnia. Only the stupid ones remain. The ones who apparently missed out on Monica Lewinsky and Vince Foster and Whitewater and Marc Rich and the other incredible piles of feces left by the rancid trail of Clintonmania.

It is over for them and the Democrats, who had their chance to change the country and maybe the world, but will now be relegated to a blue dot query in Trivial Pursuit.

But that’s too fucking bad.

If the Clintons want to battle on, they should, and have every right. No party insider, also-ran candidate, bleating pundit, Super Delegate, or voting public should decide. Obama can’t get the magic number of pledged delegates anyway. If it goes onto the Denver National Convention and ignites the mass suicide of old liberals, let it. If Obama or Clinton can’t win, then let the party die.

Let both parties crumble under the weight of a brutal truth: The two-party system has wrought this groaning creature, not Clinton or Obama. They are merely its symptoms.

This is something of a media tour for the Clintons now, a farewell march akin to Douglas MacArthur those last few months in 1952 when he still thought everyone would ignore his insanity and hand him a nomination for president. He was merely a ghost then, as Hillary is now and has been since Obama emerged victorious on February 19 in Wisconsin, two weeks after the Waterloo of Super Tuesday and fifty long days on the morning these paragraphs hit the newsstands.

The Clintons have been around. They are no strangers to this Party nonsense. Primaries are not about democracy. They are about a team choosing its best player. Since February 5 that player has been Barack Obama.

But, hey, maybe the DNC should consider handing this whole thing over to the Clintons. Apparently to be president now is to be embroiled in a meaningless unachievable goal and pretend its wine and roses.

Madam president, your surge is working.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

Read More

Adam Duritz Out Of The Abyss

Aquarian Weekly 3/26/08BUZZ

Counting Crows Front Man Battles Identity Crisis and Serious Mental Illness to Emerge with a Powerful New Two-Act Record

Counting CrowsSaturday Nights & Sunday Mornings will be the last Counting Crows record.

Not because they’re breaking up, but because who makes records in this ghostly digital world anymore?

Apparently the Counting Crows do, and their singer, primary songwriter, lyricist, and spiritual center, Adam Duritz demands, “If the music business is falling apart and no one is buying records anymore, and if this the last record anybody makes, we’re going out with a bang!”

Fifteen years ago, in the band’s debut single, “Mr. Jones”, Duritz pleaded from the edge of oblivion; “I want to be someone who believes.” And now, after nearly two decades of walking what he describes as a tightrope of fame and fortune while teetering on the edge of a serious mental disorder, the same voice laments in “Sundays”, “I don’t believe in anything at all”.

For the better part of the past two years Duritz was debilitated from a psychosis called Dissociative Disorder, causing him to retreat into isolation and gain an alarming amount of weight. He stopped reading, a purgatory for a Lit Major from Cal Berkley, and worst of all, stopped writing songs and performing, what he describes as his “touchstone” to the world.

It was a culmination of what Duritz says was “one long downhill slide” from which he has emerged after entering a program and receiving the correct medication. He is eating healthier, dropping the weight while writing and recording the gripping Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, which he describes as songs about “dissolution and disintegration and climbing out of the hole”.

“Every chorus of ‘Mr. Jones’ ends with ‘When everybody loves me I’ll never be lonely”, which you know is not true,” Duritz argues today. “Winning a popularity contest cannot fix your life. You’re supposed to see through that in the song. The guy has a dream, and it’s a great dream; you should have it – go ahead and want to be a rock and roll star – but that dream is not going to fix your life. I knew that even then. Before it happened to me.”

It has been a long, strange trip from evangelical to agnostic; most of it’s details bleeds from every track on what may be the final collective yawp from his band, the Counting Crows; the canvas for his journey from endless night to a new morning. One Duritz is not afraid to share in song or on the cover of another rock and roll weekly.

There appears to be a concerted effort to push the Saturday Nights part of the record in your face, electric guitars, edgier lyrics, and then unfurl the second half as a mellower, reflective collection of songs.

If you’re an artist, you owe the truth. Period. That’s all you really owe. People can make judgments whether they like it or not. For me, it’s exactly how I felt. Maybe my style’s over-raw.

There was no concept to it. The songs define it, and then you make it work; but once it’s there, there is no compromising. There were people who told me to take several songs off this record, “1492”, for instance. “It’s says ugly things about yourself like you can’t count on me. It’s embarrassing, so get it off! Pick a more positive song!” So, it says really ugly things about me? “On a Tuesday In Amsterdam Long Ago” is embarrassingly raw too. I admit it. It’s ugly to them, but to me, its kind of the point of it all, like it or not. Maybe they’re all embarrassing. Maybe “Tuesdays” is over-raw. Who knows? But it can’t be over-raw if it’s exactly how I felt. If it’s over-raw then that’s who I am, so either way is true. If you’re an artist, you owe the truth. Period. That’s all you really owe. People can make judgments whether they like it or not. For me, it’s exactly how I felt. Maybe my style’s over-raw.

Could there be a song that you’ve written that would never be released because it’s too close to the bone?

No, I don’t think so. Too close to the bone would be the reason for releasing it. That would be the point. You want to get as close to the bone as you can.

What about the second part of the record, Sunday Mornings?

As my life changed, we were finishing up what you would now call Saturday Nights. I started writing other songs, and I could see this other kind of record as a companion piece. So we started expanding on that while we were recording the second set of sessions and at the same time learning how to record and arrange what became Sunday Mornings. It was this one album that gave birth to something else it is now.

We had this great idea, it was cool, and it told a different kind of story than it would if it were a shuffle selection of easy listening songs. We were looking to do something different. Definitely by the time we were recording Sunday Mornings we were aiming at what we eventually ended up with.

You mentioned your life changed. You’ve been pretty candid about the period you’ve gone through in the last year and half to two years, your bout with mental illness and depression; and going through it in your work. Is there any fear among artists that without a constant harangue or that constant inner conflict, you can’t create, or is that complete bullshit?

I think it is. I couldn’t write when I was at the worst. I didn’t write for years. It’s not really depression, though. It’s a different thing entirely; it’s a Dissociative Disorder. The world literally seems like an hallucination. The world just doesn’t seem real. Imagine living for twenty years as if you were having an acid flashback. That’s what’s been going on in my head. And it will never stop. It’s not going to go away. The challenge is to learn to live with it, to not panic.

The depression or anxiety comes when the world seems like an hallucination. You tend to get a little fat and worried, because, you know, it sucks.

The truth is in the past year and a half I became complete debilitated to the point where I could not function at all, but it was a long decline. It’s part of the reason I’ve had trouble all of my life.

Adam DuritzBut as far as creativity goes; if you’re a writer, you write. I write when I feel things. Sometimes I can be very happy and it can remind me of things in the past that are gone. I wrote “On a Tuesday In Amsterdam Long Ago” a few days after “Accidentally In Love” (Shrek II soundtrack/nominated for 2004 Academy Award). They’re both about the same thing. “Tuesdays” is about this idea that while I’m completely in love right now, which is incredibly beautiful, what if it’s just a post card, what if I’m looking at this moment in my life like a snapshot of something that was and now isn’t a long time from now. It’s a very sad song, as opposed to “Accidentally In Love, which is a completely ebullient song about unabashedly falling in love. I don’t know which of the two I like better. It’s harder to write about something that’s happy, maybe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. It just means you need to be a good writer.

To write about those things is a lot harder, because it’s harder to be happy…for me. At a certain point you get tired of trading your life for song. I’ve done it for a long time now, under this impression that my life wasn’t anywhere near as important as being an artist. I’m not sure that’s a very good decision to be continuing to make.

The song “Washington Square” reminds me of the Henry James novel of the same name, mainly because it seems to describe this struggle with identify and self-doubt in a world of wealth and privilege.

Well, it’s definitely about a loss of self, and it’s about losing your mind. It begins with a complete loss of sense of who you are. I hadn’t read Washington Square; so I can’t really say it relates to that, but yes, the first part of this record is definitely about completely losing all sense of your self, and the second part is how do you put your life together when you don’t have a sense of self. How do you go get it if you completely let go of your life while trying to live it again? You don’t know how to do it, so you’ll mostly fail. But that’s okay. Life isn’t always about succeeding in everything. Half of success is in the doing.

I notice a theme of your work is to use cities as a metaphor for whatever you are getting at, whether it appears as the name of a song, “Omaha” or “Miami” or in the case of this record, where city names appear in almost every song and some titles.

I suppose so. I don’t use cities as metaphors so much as I tend to write detail. I think I read once of Hemmingway that you begin with one true thing and then you go from there. You don’t want to say; “I love you” as much as you want to say; “All at once you look across a crowded room and see the way the light attaches to a girl.” The details of what’s going on in the room, the books on your shelf, communicate something about the way you feel. If you just say, “I feel this way” it actually doesn’t communicate real feelings, because it’s just the words that stand for something rather than mean something. So I believe in writing details and cities are where things take place. “I wandered the highways from Dublin to Berkeley” from “Washington Square” has to do with the two cities I left behind and ending up in New York City and then having to leave there again.

You’re living in Manhattan now, and were there for most of the time you wrote and recorded some of these songs. So seeing how cities are part of your canvas, how did living in New York City influence these songs?

Imagine living for twenty years as if you were having an acid flashback. That’s what’s been going on in my head. And it will never stop. It’s not going to go away. The challenge is to learn to live with it, to not panic.

I suppose New York effects me because I write about my life, so any place you are will be a different tone than another place. They all have an effect on me. I don’t know where I can metaphorically interpret how New York fits in. I definitely wanted to record Saturday Nights here and Sunday Mornings in Berkley. But a lot of it had to do with not wanting to leave home to record. New York City has an affect on me, but it was also nice to go home and record Sunday Mornings too. There’s something about the tone of Berkley.

I began to dissect some of the new songs and noticed epilogues or at the least hints of reprised lyrics from earlier songs; more directly; “Now I’m the king of everything, and I’m the king of nothing” from “1492”, harkening back to “Rain King” from the first record. “Dreaming Of Michelangelo” from the second record. “This dizzy life” from “Hanging Tree” reminded me of This Desert Life, the title of your third record. “The girl on the wire” from “On a Tuesday In Amsterdam Long Ago” and “I walked out into the air” from “Washington Square” repainted the picture from “Round Here”, again, on the first album. Were you thinking in terms of looking back, encapsulating the last twenty years of your life and paying homage to the band’s legacy, or am I reaching here?

I don’t really write in a calculating way like that. I don’t think things through. But then there is “Michelangelo”, which was begun twenty years ago. I had this idea of Michelangelo lying on his back painting the Creation: God reaching out to Adam, and in my mind not being able to quite reach God. Obviously it’s the opposite, God has just touched Adam and he is alive. This is what’s happening, but in my mind it was always he reaching out and not quite touching God. But I couldn’t flesh this out. So the idea crops up in “Angels Of The Silences”, but as I changed, experienced more, and understood what the song was going to be about; it became about the constant struggle of the artist to reach for something divine, to create something out of nothing, which is the original divine act; there was a void and let there be light, making something out of nothing. Anything! Build a chair, make a song, make a jump shot, but always try and reach for something different. But to me I would never, ever be able to reach an understanding, a feeling of satisfaction in it. Finally, what the song is really about for me is that while you’re spending your whole life stretching out from something you can’t touch, you forget to touch everything else around you, and that I had become so divorced from the world through this disorder that the only thing I ever focused on was the music and it was the only touchstone I had on earth, and I had lost touch with everything else, and that is what that song was about, and now I knew how to write it.

I will say the use of “Come on, come on,” in “Cowboys comes from the nadir. He’s lost his mind entirely. He can’t feel anything, and he can only touch the world through acts of violence, and he’s trying to get something to come into him and come out of him, something to pull his life out of his numbness, and he’s screaming, “Come on, come on, come on, come on!” But, again, it’s a very different feeling than the celebratory “Come on, come on, come on, come on!” in “Accidentally In Love.

I wrote “Cowboys” all in one night and I certainly wasn’t thinking of “Accidentally In Love at that point of my life because I was completely out of my mind and I certainly was not in love.

Having gone through all you described, your disorder and identity crisis, writing and singing about it, putting it together in art, is there a sense that you’ve come through and the record reflects the failures and successes as you described them?

Well, I’m no doctor and there is no exact science for psychosis; but it’s scary. It’s a difficult thing. You have to be careful every day to ground yourself.

Take it day by day.

Yeah, but I’m thinking a lot further forward these days.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

Read More

“The Speech”: Barack Obama On Race – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 3/26/08 REALITY CHECK

THE SPEECH Inside Barack Obama’s Bold Sonnet To Our Bitter Demons & Better Angels For 37 minutes on the18th day of March 2008, Barack Obama, junior senator from Illinois and leading Democratic candidate for president of the United States, delivered as brutally candid a speech about race, human nature, and the forces for change that lie between them as intellectually possible. It was the first time in the history of this nation, a candidate for high office, or any office for that matter, addressed the hard truth about its deepest, most festering wound; a self-inflicted lesion so profoundly absurd and odious it stands to this day as the greatest failure in America’s boldly infinite quest for equality.

Barack ObamaObama, son of a black Kenyan man and white mother from Kansas, not only addressed the realities of cultural divides in the most direct of terms, but ripped open wide the scabs that we’ve been less-than gently picking at for decades of riots, marches, assassinations and defiantly booming rhetoric, but also let slip from our subconscious at dining room tables and private parties.

It may have been political suicide. It may have been transparently self-serving. But it was without valid refute brilliantly honest and long overdue.

It had to be said, and it had to be said by him, the first truly legitimate African American presidential candidate.

It also had to be written and spoken as eloquently and forcefully as it was, and it had to be done now.

It had to be done on the heels of one solid week, hour after hour, of rip-roaring lunacy from another religious/politico psycho by the conspicuous name of Jeremiah Wright, former pastor from something called the Trinity United Church of Christ. The man who married Obama, baptized his kids, and originally hailed from the church the candidate has clung to like a life preserver as he was accused from every corner of being a Muslim, as if it were the crime of all crimes, on 60 Minutes, the Internet wilderness, and by his smarmy opponent.

A Muslim? Imagine the horrors of that?

What a crock it all is, this grab-ass cloak of religious righteousness we demand from our public servants, who are forced to lip-service our superstitions and by association are abducted by the cauldron of separatist hate-speech and fire and brimstone diatribes aimed at everything not falling in line.

It is a sick and terrible world we enter in these Houses of the Lord, closed-door meetings of the flock, who look to the pulpit for atavistic pandering submentals to spew personal angst against whatever you’ve got.

So here was Barack Obama, standing in the birthplace of liberty, draped in racist innuendo and religious madness, evoking the words of Thomas Jefferson and William Faulkner, referencing the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the Katrina disaster, deconstructing the social and cultural ramifications of Affirmative Action and Jim Crow, using the widest array of colloquialisms and slang from “gangbanging” to “the laziness of welfare”.

This was history. Real history. Not this fabricated televised nonsense we’re force-fed like lab rats. It was revolution in words. Striking words. Distinct words. No surrender in them. Powerful stuff.

Fucking amazing is what it was. Shockingly, mind-numbingly crazed. I literally laughed out loud during it. Chills and laughter; these are my tenets; the bare essentials of why I wandered into writing about this miserable shit in the first place.

This was history. Real history. Not this fabricated televised nonsense we’re force-fed like lab rats. It was revolution in words. Striking words. Distinct words. No surrender in them. Powerful stuff.

This was a man not only running for president, a black man no less, but a frontrunner down by nearly 20 points in a crucial primary state, peering out into the glare of lights, poised microphones, scribbling pads, and the one-eyed monster that had been tearing pieces from him for seven long days, delivering the goods. This was not a cultural leader like Martin Luther King or a radical voice of a fringe movement like Malcolm X. This was not a professorial university discussion or a stand-up routine by Chris Rock.

This was a minority candidate for president of the United States, and he was not running for cover, offering up rhetorical apologies or lame excuses. He was not rising above the issue like Jackie Robinson or dancing around it like James Brown. Instead, Barack Obama dove headfirst without a hint of remorse, embracing his race while deftly looking beyond it, as his campaign has claimed to strive for since its inception.

It is not even fair to pull quotes from the thing without missing its nuances. It would be like playing you 40 seconds of Miles Davis’ “So What” and pulling the plug or offering up “When I’m Sixty Four” and claiming it captures Sgt. Pepper’s. Fuck that noise. Listen to it. Read it. Watch it. It’s all over the net. If you haven’t seen it all the way through and do not emerge at least in awe of the type of person who dares to provide a tangible, concrete opinion on a passionate, divisive subject while also trying to sucker you out of a vote, then I’m sorry, we’re not watching the same game.

What Obama was able to do for what basically constituted 29 out of 37 minutes (the other eight or nine minutes were admittedly jammed with pandering populist stuff) was box Pastor Wright and everyone who clings to old grudges as some kind of badge of courage, and told them it is time to let go. Change for real. No more of the same anger Baby Boomers harbor for the Left and the Right; the old guard, the has-beens, the jesters on radio and brooding curmudgeons at the typewriters and the creaky bones using up space on Capitol Hill. They all have axes to grind. They all have a point, black and white. Everyone is mad with envy, disdain, fear, and posturing, but Obama says, for his part – and it has steadily become a very significant part in all of this – that he will abstain, thank you very much.

And here is where the purported Candidate of Change officially crosses the generational divide. Here is where if found yourself supporting what has heretofore been a showcase of progressive goofiness, you can begin to believe this guy may actually mean it.

Look, there was always very little chance a black man would ever be elected president of a country forty years removed from his race being denied access to eateries, public bathrooms or hotel accommodations. It is a nothing short of a miracle and a testament to this great nation’s force of progress he stands before a crowd of predominately white middleclass journalists in the city of our birthing and pitches his domestic or international policies much less how and why we are pandemically incapable of looking beyond a person’s skin or gender or religious affiliation in these infant years of the 21st century.

But then isn’t it ever more shocking when you consider America currently fights and dies halfway across the globe in a desert where the kind of religious, racial and cultural chasm has grown as a cancer for centuries, while we are less than two centuries removed from our own bloody Civil War.

Glory, glory, Halleluiah. Indeed.


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Democrats Are Burning – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 3/19/08 REALITY CHECK

THE DEMOCRATS ARE BURNING Same Ol' ShowThe unabated immolation of the Democratic Party, ceremoniously sparked with extreme prejudice by the Clinton Machine two weeks ago, has now officially become a raging firestorm. From prostitution rings to racist blather and return salvos of “monster”, the flames of remorse will soon swallow up everything in its path. Before the first cherry blossoms bloom in Washington DC, whatever is left of this rancid collection of rogues, creeps, felons, and dumb asses will likely be the better part of cinder.

Ah, poor Eliot Spitzer. He needs it rough, and not just hair-pulling, ass-slapping rough. It’s games the governor needs. Adult games, chaired by professionals utilizing tools of the trade, the varied sort one cannot transport on a post-9/11 flight anymore. And the girls are harder to come by these days too. The really discreet ones with the bravest hearts have to be purchased and shuffled across state lines via railway on the tax-payer tab, laundered from several bogus companies and check-listed by text-message.

It is high times for a man of lawful pursuits, full of zest to clean things up and set right the ways of the universe. Vices don’t come cheap for crusaders.

We have come a long way from the honorable Horatio Seymour or Samuel J. Tilden, who likely entertained fantasies of being tied up in baby bonnets and slapped around like the dirty little maggots they truly were, but apparently were fortunate enough not to be cursed with the Dipshit Gene. It is a nasty affliction spawned by power and hubris, something we have seen all-too prevalently in our elected officials as of late, perhaps to the point of prompting a telethon to combat it.

Wake up Jerry Lewis, we have a problem.

The Dipshit Gene, an endemic side effect of political theater for centuries, has recently wreaked its havoc on the former governor of New Jersey, who enjoyed the odd Israeli boy between illegal land grabs and backroom pay-offs. It has also claimed a Republican Idaho senator, who found a sliver of wiggle room in his anti-gay pogrom to troll insatiable delights from airport men’s room stalls. Then there was the Florida congressman, who could not help but solicit the lurid notations of teenaged boys. And who could forget the senator from Louisiana taking time from his moral outrage to accrue a hefty escort service bill of his own.

All the names are well documented, and their tales, all-too familiar, and, sadly, their wives all-too compliant to the obligatory press conference frown.

Oh, the Dipshit Gene has its collateral damage victims aplenty. Time after agonizing time we see these wounded heroines standing beside their shamed men with solemn expression and a curious but unyielding determination; an excellent example to all the young girls out there just waiting to get their talons into a rich and influential up-and-comer, only to be publicly humiliated as the useless prop they will become.

Oh Lord, how many more of these educated, ambitious young women will be felled by this endless parade of slobbering cretins? How many more of them will set the bar lower for a limping women’s movement left to defend college basketball players at the mercy of evil radio geeks?

Watching the mortal remains of Silda Spitzer, a proud graduate of Harvard Law and mother of the disgraced governor’s children, covered from head-to-toe with heaps of Dipshit run-off, one had to be reminded of Hillary Rodham Clinton postulating weird Right Wing Conspiracy theories on the Today Show circa 1998 in defense of her husband’s chronic misogyny.

Oh Lord, how many more of these educated, ambitious young women will be felled by this endless parade of slobbering cretins? How many more of them will set the bar lower for a limping women’s movement left to defend college basketball players at the mercy of evil radio geeks?

The questions abound. And perhaps it was the sting and tenor of those questions that rendered mad the furious nonsense tumbling from the maw of former Democratic VP nominee and now former Clinton fundraiser, Geraldine Ferraro. In a coincidental mental fart worthy of Grandpa Simpson, Ferraro made it clear on three straight speaking engagements from a podium, on the radio, and then to something called the Daily Breeze that Barack Obama is the cheap bi-product of an African-American bamboozle.

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” a reportedly drug-free Ferraro told the Torrance, California paper. “And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”

It was soon after this beer-spit idiocy hit pavement that Ferraro completely lost whatever is left of her atrophied mind and claimed she was somehow misinterpreted. Of course, never in her neck-wrenching backtrack did she explain what else she could have meant; maybe it was that Obama “wears black” or prefers “black automobiles” or that the knuckle-dragging mutant who claimed Bill Clinton was “the first black president” has rendered Hillary black by association. Hey, it could have transpired during all those crucial years of alleged experience she compiled while cleaning out the White House vases.

But the news wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Clintons, who have stumbled four ways to Sunday to deny, eulogize or duck their association with Spitzer and Ferraro. Ferraro is chump change. It was Spitzer; a soon-to-be subtracted Super Delegate in the Clinton Camp, whose insane suggestion that New York State issue licenses to criminals a few months back transformed the Unsinkable Madam Shoo-In into the last-chance kamikaze pilot she is now forced to be.

Mere days before the Spitzer revelations and the Ferraro meltdown, an Obama foreign policy aid and campaign big-shot, Samantha Power unforgivably forgot that journalists print conversations in newspapers and told one of these types that Ms. Hillary was “a monster”, putting the Clinton Machine into combat mode and throat-jumped that thing down all of our gizzards for close to a week.

This was the clearest evidence there are cracks in the Teflon Master Barack and the faintest hope that stealing this nomination is still alive and well for April 22, a mind-screwing six weeks away.

Meanwhile, as the Republican Party chants “Burn baby burn!” with every match added to the already spreading wildfires, the tanned and rested John McCain collects his fundraising checks, smoothes the Conservative wounds, and plans a diplomatic cross-globe trek, which will cement any question he is a man of experience and sober ideals.

And to think, we have re-votes in Michigan and Florida to come.

Florida? It’s tough enough for these people to vote correctly the first time.

Burn baby burn.


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Hillary Is New Factory Girl – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 3/12/08 REALITY CHECK

Smoke, Mirrors & The Madam Shoo-In Shuck Jive Express

I’m just getting warmed up. – Hillary Rodham Clinton 2/27/08

There is only one book ever written worth a damn on the subject of politics, The Shining. It is a gritty tale detailing the illusion of controlling one’s environment and trading on addiction to make the malleable concept of reality your bitch. It is also a deep study in survival at any cost and a grim warning that whatever beautiful temptress emerges from the bathtub of Room 237, it will always turn into a wretched hag oozing with boils.

Dragon Lady RevivedIt is a book every wide-eyed young voter and late-arriving cheerleader for change must read before studying what will now be a brutal dismantling of their fragile sense of hope in the meat-grinding cesspool of real American democracy. It is a book The Clintons know well. It has defined their celebrity, put them in the game, and help them turn mere elections into Stephen King’s drunken metaphoric contradiction; Jack Torrence stumbling down the hallway wielding a mallet and screaming about love.

The jig is up, kids. No more Apple Pie for the stupid and naive. The gremlins are in charge of your precious CHANGE mantra now. How do you like your groundswell, grass roots good times replaced by the fumes of recidivist device, shady accusation, and a cadre of lawyers poised to challenge everything you claim to hold dear after two months of falling head over heals for The Process.

Don’t ask Howard Dean, chairman of the now tattered and reeking Democratic National Committee, who harbored silly dreams of nailing down a meteoric candidate filled with glitter and purpose, speeding like a silver bullet into the heart of a Republican stranglehold on national presidential politics.

Dean had two shots; this summer with the ceremonious crowning of Queen Hillary and one lousy week ago when Barack Obama appeared as unstoppable a young and brash candidate as any of us has ever seen. But now he sports the look of a San Francisco cabbie coming to grips with the horror of faulty brakes. And he is in no mood to tell you about it. Believe me, I tried more than once. He ain’t talking, and neither are the rest of the poor suckers rooting to cash in on the choking fumes of George W. Bush.

Remember the original Captain Shoo-In? Sure you do. He’s still in charge thanks to the Ohio Voter, who ushered him back into office despite four years of painfully obvious damage. The Ohio Voter can make things happen. “As goes Ohio, so goes…” The Ohio Voter historically regurgitates every festering gargoyle to hold the highest office. The Ohio Voter has spoken: Madam Shoo-In lives to fight, and fight she will, to the ultimate detriment of every possible equation her constituency strives for; unseating the Republicans from the White House and restructuring what has been for half a century a corrupt and ill-run Democratic Party.

That is all over now; trampled under the boot of laughably myopic television ads depicting a comforting mother hen keeping your children from certain death, cherry-picked mudslinging from Canadian interoffice memos, and cleverly disguised discussions on the horrors of Islam. It is all over because whatever pie-in-the-sky notion the Democrats were scheming to sell as a Movement or an Independent Force will be on trial for three agonizing months of P.T. Barnum’s Parade of Oddities.

This is the raw, ugly, and violent world of politics I’ve come to know, and in some sick twist of ignominious fate, love. Not all this goofy appeal to the masses about generational progress and the evolution of thought. It is cheap body blows lobbed from smiling harpies on late-night variety shows changing masks on the fly: Queen Of Inevitability, Weeping Damsel, Sleeve-Rolling Actuary, Wounded Media Victim, Lunch-Pail Factory Girl.

This Democratic Party nomination process, whatever comes of it, is no longer about choosing a candidate that can achieve victory in the national campaign. It is about entitlement and anger and chaos and creating a vacuum of delusion to allow a flawed retread candidate to gain the high ground. It is Karl Rove’s wet dream — Change the dialogue, ignore reason, and circle the wagons. It is also his puppet-boy, Baby Bush’s fanatical idea of warfare illustrated with imbecilic glory in The Surge; claim victory in the face of a rudderless strategy ad infinitum.

Two weeks ago there was some discussion, much of it in this space, that Hillary Clinton had two ways to go: A) Succumb to the immutable truth of math and realize she could never achieve the allotted pledged delegates needed to overtake Obama, and recede into the humbled statesman her deranged husband could never be, uniting the party and forging a bright political future as the most powerful legislator in the American landscape. B) Abandon all decorum to rip and shred her opponent, raising doubt and remolding the way-of-the waves to her own cirque-due-soleil in the feint hope she could circumvent the system and forcibly abduct her prize.

She chose B. Overwhelmingly so. And, apparently by some queer force of mind-bending fortune, to the tune of a two-to-one late arriving undecided vote in both Ohio and Texas, which after 20 debates and as many months of campaigning is so off-the-charts asinine it bears study.

Mostly, she chose Fear, Dirt, Guilt, and Doubt, the core instincts of the American Vote manifested in the heart of the Ohio Voter and now spread like wild fire all over what can now officially be described as the final bell for the collective scam of Momentum and Inevitability.

That ship has sailed for the Democrats. This is going all the way to Pennsylvania, seven more tormented weeks of nasty backbiting, lower blows and bellowing headlines of hidden tax records, questionable liaisons, voter fraud, stump cheating, and the dangerous weakening of both doomed hopefuls. To April 22 and beyond, all the way to the convention in late August; pecking and spitting and kicking and whining, and, dread of all dreads; pathetic court battles or an inevitable costly re-vote in Michigan and Florida; vital national election swing states utilized as political torture chambers.

How this helps either Clinton or Obama is anyone’s guess. Some say it strengthens the candidates. Some also say the earth is flat and Oswald acted alone. Some people are still looking for hairy bipedal humanoid creatures inhabiting the greater northwest, but they are dumb and in need of care or chemistry. Three months of this spastic horseshit will help only one candidate; John Sidney McCain III. He sits pretty, running the first unopposed national campaign; unquestioned, undeterred, and earning money — not spending it wildly across the Pocono Mountains grinding mincemeat out of whatever unlucky sap might survive it.

So now that we have video of Madam Shoo-In saying only she and the Republican nominee can lead the free world, the earth has returned to its familiar axis. We can all get down to picking another Democratic runner-up in the grand tradition of McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry. This is the raw, ugly, and violent world of politics I’ve come to know, and in some sick twist of ignominious fate, love. Not all this goofy appeal to the masses about generational progress and the evolution of thought. It is cheap body blows lobbed from smiling harpies on late-night variety shows changing masks on the fly: Queen Of Inevitability, Weeping Damsel, Sleeve-Rolling Actuary, Wounded Media Victim, Lunch-Pail Factory Girl.

The now infamous Billary “Kitchen Sink” policy of dragging the lofty, spit-shine Master Barack Show into the quagmire of old-time political theater is in full swing. Get on board or get the fuck out.

Know this, you people who cherish the flimsy ideals of The Vote; The Clinton Machine didn’t just muddy the waters in Ohio and Texas, but commandeered the delicately structured Peace Train that might have written a far different manifesto against a rubber-stamp war fiend like John McCain and drove it into a ditch. Let’s all say it together; Here’s Johnny!

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

Read More

Inpendence Rules – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 2/27/08 REALITY CHECK


I have a dream of a new American language. – Dan Bern

Mere seconds after the Associated Press had called the Wisconsin primary for Barack Obama, a surprisingly early projection, nestled as it was within a lead paragraph describing his once unbeatable opponent’s campaign as “fading”, the young senator stood at center stage grinning from ear to ear. He waved his outstretched arms aloft in the vain attempt to silence 20,000 screaming revelers, who had crammed into a Houston arena for what was described on the program as a rally, but had long mutated into something more. The eruption of sound signified a sudden awareness that this was now the opening stride to a symbolic victory lap.

Obama In HoustonBy this time every cable news network had cut from what was the latest in an agonizing series of plodding stump speeches by Hillary Clinton, during which the beaten candidate had refused for a month of primary and caucus whippings, ten consecutive in all, to congratulate its winner. A week removed from first place and looking more like the boondoggled heroine of a Rod Sterling script, Madam Shoo-In was being unceremoniously bumped from primetime to make way for the speeding bullet from Illinois, the closest politics has come to producing a phenomenon in any a lifetime.

A black man, cheered as a conquering hero, a few giant leaps closer to becoming the president of the United States, in a city named for a slave owner who traded Native Americans like cattle and pilfered land from Mexico.

The sound of his voice booming from the television filled my outer room as I sat furiously banging on this keyboard, trying like hell to come to grips with the very real feeling that this might actually happen; that the system will be yanked from its moorings and sent packing with yesteryear’s hokum — the cynicism still beating strong in my heart, but the chills bolting up through my spine and into the weary frontal lobe.

What the hell is happening here?

I was moved to write that Wisconsin, a blue-collar state bloated with old-world Democrats, entrenched Reagonites, and far less than ten percent of its populace comprised of African Americans, had finally put the dirt on the Clinton Campaign.

But I did not. Not yet. Not now.


The numbers supported it. Obama had claimed a stake in every possible voting block, taking what the pundits described for days as a “no-excuse” prize; meaning it was not one handed on a platter of race, youth, independents and a GOP mass exodus that spinners at the rival campaign could downplay as just another fluke.

A black man, cheered as a conquering hero, a few giant leaps closer to becoming the president of the United States, in a city named for a slave owner who traded Native Americans like cattle and pilfered land from Mexico.

Ah, but if you spend enough hours hanging around the subject of big-time politics, and are forced to unfurl random thoughts under a byline, you had best be prepared to dismiss the looming danger of “real feelings”. That’s when instinct kicks in, what I call “the reporter’s wince”; you’re left calmly conjuring too many false alarms, too many bad prognostications, and far too many failed stabs at giddy prophecy.

Step back and exhale, remember that the blood and guts of the Arkansas Mafia is thick with dark history and the skeletons in the Democratic Party will rattle when you least expect it. Gary Hart, Bill Bradley, Hubert Humphrey, Ralph Nader were all its blindside victims.

But then I was moved to turn away from this infernal word-machine and glance over at the tube to see that, incredibly, the man kept smiling and the crowd kept cheering.

What the hell is happening?

Wait, I told myself, inching closer to midnight on what had clearly morphed into Victory Lap Tuesday; this was no time to deal in absolutes.

Not now. Not yet.

At least not on the Democratic side.

The Republicans have come to different conclusions. Whatever Mike Huckabee is doing, it has little to do with 2008 or presidential politics. He is working emptier rooms in the hopes of making a case for speech time at the convention, a place on the ticket, or bigger checks on the lecture circuit. For weeks now this has been about John McCain, even if until this past Tuesday he was reticent to say it out loud.

All of that changed after his own convincing Wisconsin triumph, where the embattled Arizona senator pulled an even 45-45 percentage tie in conservative voters, a pertinent factoid for a Right Wing punching bag in a critical fall swing state.

It was enough motivation for him to launch into the first of what will be hundreds of national election speeches aimed at identifying himself as the protector/anti-tax warrior/experienced candidate in the face of a mind-numbing socio-political sprint the likes of which has not been hinted at in the checkered history of this great nation.

It was a rusty presentation, appearing to be more a test-model for the big time than any tangible platform, but it was nonetheless a fair glimpse into the difficult task before the Republicans this summer; make people ignore the sweeping radiance of Master Barack and a groundswell of two-to-one voting for Democrats. He will most certainly need to do better than piss-raining on everyone’s Hope Parade by couching this momentum-charged press frenzy as “an eloquent, but empty call for change.”

This has been a losing strategy for what is left of the Billary Charge, which was on display two nights later in the Austin debates. More of the same “solutions” and “readiness” mantras garnished with a smatter of insults and accusations, couched in last-minute semi-passionate and “human moments”. Pulled in all directions, her camp in fighting on whether to mud-wrestle or take the highest road to a political future beyond this speed bump campaign, she was uneven in one of the last televised chances to stop the steam train, and drew no real blood.

Some of my colleagues went as far as calling it a conciliatory performance, her final sentiments a valedictorian moment.

But perhaps the smarter of the Clintons has seen the writing on the wall, much of it on the front page of the NY Times, which in a desperate grapple to stop the rapid decline of subscriptions has turned into the London Mirror by plastering salacious innuendo about the Republican frontrunner and a sexy lobbyist running wild in 2000 on its historic front page. This caused every last one of his Republican “enemies” to reunite against the evil liberal monolith, just as they will against the other one; CLINTON.

What the hell is going on here?

Hillary knows.

And this is why the man keeps smiling.


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More

Inpendence Rules – (2008)

Aquarian Weekly 2/20/08 REALITY CHECK


Injustice in the end produces independence. – Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire

At the risk of beating the dearly departed equine, we submit for the public record one last time — with the caveat that it is not only worth repeating, but will be the deciding factor in what is shaping up as a seminal moment in American presidential history — Independence rules.

Obama RallyAfter weeks of following the voting trends in the Democratic and Republican primaries/caucuses, The Desk’s dedicated moles have returned time and again to this key element: Despite exit polling of stark contrasts in conservative vs. moderate vs. Evangelical voting blocks on the Right and women, black/Latino, and an economic range voting block on the Left, nothing has crossed the divide of this polarized nation than the quickly emerging, highly influential, and increasingly mighty Independent vote.

For almost two months now Independents have wreaked havoc on the nomination process, causing the kind of bizarre results that have rocked the very foundation of party power brokers and sent talk radio into paroxysms of fear. And these fears, such as they are, can now be considered well founded, or as Dick Nixon used to say, “It ain’t paranoia if they’re after you.”

To wit: On Christmas Eve a discussion group of politicos set strong betting odds on the frontrunners for both parties: They were solidly, as they had been all summer, Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton; powerful national figures with name recognition and celebrity appeal — heretofore critical prerequisites for chief executive. The most likely runner’s-up, or the candidates that could cause the most trouble for both, were John Edwards and Mitt Romney; middle-aged, white, populace mongers — also key skill sets for centuries of presidential timber. The idea that Barack Obama (youthful, unknown black junior senator) and John McCain (much older, hanger-on, Washington maverick) would be the presumptive nominees of their respective parties by mid-February was not only laughable it was patently insane.

So how did we get here?

The easy breakdown is that on the Democratic wing, Madam Shoo-in has been an interesting cocktail of grating and arrogant, her husband has suddenly become stump poison, and she is now bouncing her head against an already low ceiling of likeability while battling overall abhorrence within the party. On the Republican side, the defense of McCain’s ascent from completely bankrupt/yesterday’s news to “most electable” can be laid on the stupidity of Giuliani to ignore six state elections before competing, Fred Thompson’s flaccid attempt at campaigning, and the general assumption Romney cannot help but lie about everything under the sun.

There is also the ethereally lazy assumption that somehow Obama has tapped into some kind of spiritual meteor while McCain has warmed our hearts.

The worst kept political secret is out: Independents are deciding the candidates for the 2008 presidential election, and pretty soon they will decide the national contest; and the quicker the press, the party big guns, and perhaps the Clinton Campaign digests this, the sooner they can get on with the business of dismantling it.

However, for the record, I now submit an eye-opening Gallup poll published in the 6/13 publication of this column entitled, “Independence ’08”, which canvassed registered voters across the fruited plains, the results of which looked like this: Republicans, 27 percent; Democrats, 34 percent; Independents, 38 percent. And although everyone but desperate news organizations have roundly discredited the very concept of polls, this baby has come home to roost — big time.

The two-party system, which has halved the ideological soul of this nation for over a decade, has now reached its breaking point. The special interest fobs and extremist twits who have monopolized the national discourse for decades are being swept under by a tidal wave of independent voting. Republicans and Democrats are crossing lines. Fiscal conservatives fed up with social fascists, liberal lions pissed at whining granola heads, war hawks and peaceniks, activists and casual observers are jumping around like never before.

This is why Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer and the entire FOX NEWS goon squad appear as if they’ve never covered an election before. All of their stale propaganda and has-been punditry is being trampled with every passing vote.

Where is the Union vote?

Where are the anti-gay voices?

Where is the gun lobby?

Where is the entitlement threat?

Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.

The pollsters are inert. They no longer know what queries to pose. The columnists are dumbfounded, clawing for trends and trying to appeal to anything that still resembles a one-dimensional audience. Robert Novak has been relegated to trying his hand at Hip Hop poetry and Lanny Davis has started a Jane Austin book club. Entrenched government dealmakers have no idea where to turn to kiss ass, grease wheels or, heaven for fend, endorse. Congress is so confused its wasting hours on Capital Hill wondering if Roger Clemens doped up or the Patriots videotaped their way to Super Bowl titles.

God help the insiders who suddenly find themselves outside. Washington is normally a vapid tunnel of innuendo and gross misconduct, but when this primary season is over it will look like something chaired by Tina Turner in a wacky eighties jumpsuit crying, “Two man enter, one man leave!”

The worst kept political secret is out: Independents are deciding the candidates for the 2008 presidential election, and pretty soon they will decide the national contest; and the quicker the press, the party big guns, and perhaps the Clinton Campaign digests this, the sooner they can get on with the business of dismantling it.

And don’t worry, fans, you know that’s coming.

There is only one way for the Billary Brigade to save their inevitable conquest; and its not to demean their opponent as a cheap Jesse Jackson forgery or sack half their campaign staff, or send Big Bill to the nearest glory hole to shut him up, it is to rally the old-guard base. Failing that, she can start wooing Independents, but that’s too cheap a ploy even for a Clinton.

And as sad as it might seem to these faux conservative barkers that have seen fit to usher this nomination over to McCain with their tired blustery nonsense and name-calling, they too need to begin pandering to the party lifers or get off the tracks, for as the political sage Voodoo Madam Sissy Meechum once said, “The train be comin'”.


Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Read More