Aquarian Weekly
Reality Check
Or How Long Before the Terrorist Party Goes All-In  

The Republican Party is owned by Donald Trump and the MAGA cabal. This is hardly debatable anymore. He is poised to represent the party for a third consecutive run for president and has moved it from a conservative, Reagan-esque fiscally responsible, geopolitical faction to a populist vanity project. The idea the party is even faking a primary in 2024 is laughable, as funny as holding a dozen debates without the clear frontrunner. Even his competition is resigned to his victory, which is why none of them can articulate why they should be a viable alternative. Can you blame them? The man has a national polling number safely over 50-percent among likely Republican voters. They’re Republicans, where are they going? But suffice to say, the primaries are happening, and we cover politics here, so here we go.

Let’s start in Iowa. There is zero chance Trump loses there, even though it is likely going to be 15 degrees below zero next week and frontrunners want big turnout, so that might take a minor hit. That means Trump wins by 30 points instead of 40. We’re merely talking the spread now, not candidates. 

There are approximately three-million people in Iowa, of which about a hundred-grand will show up to caucus, and that number will be loaded with Evangelicals. Two-thirds of Iowans identify as such. Trump is killing it with Evangelicals, unlike in early 2016 when his loud-mouth, philandering boorishness handed Iowa to Texas Senator Ted Cruz. But since, Trump put three justices on the Supreme Court specifically to strike down Roe v Wade, which they did, an achievement he recently crowed about in a Des Moines town hall. Now he’s Jesus’s son. Iowa is a done deal. 

What holds the future of this dog-and-pony show beyond Iowa is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The once highly touted fascist has been a shit show on the campaign trail. He has taken over two-million dollars and a 40-percent voter share and turned it into campaign bankruptcy and a nine percent voter share. This is Rick Perry / Jeb Bush levels of crapping the bed. DeSantis sucks at everything – debates, stump speeches, defining his positions; being human or likable is beyond him. He imploded almost immediately and went from bad to worse faster than most people not named Rudy Giuliani, who once spent a million dollars for a single delegate – prompting still one of my favorite political observations: “That’s only one more delegate than me, and I didn’t run.” DeSantis might not get any delegates for twice the cash. Pretty impressive failure by any measurement of futility.

If DeSantis sinks to third place in Iowa, he may drop out. And if he does that, Trump sweeps the primaries. But if he comes in second, even a distant second, and hangs on for another two weeks, things might get interesting during and after the New Hampshire primary. This has less to do with the walking corpse that is Ron DeSantis than the only other barely breathing candidate left in this farce, Nikki Haley. 

The former South Carolina governor has held her head above water simply because she’s been surrounded by a parade of shitty candidates, many of whom are gone now, and one guy who has enough money to pull a Michael Bloomberg self-aggrandizing run until he becomes bored. Right now, the ghost of DeSantis is polling around nine percent in NH. Haley, however, is at 30. Trump is rocking at 41-percent lead there. Solid, but not insurmountable. Mainly because Independents (many of them abhor him) vote in the state, and only one out of four NH voters identify as Evangelical, likely the smallest number of that voting block Trump will see on this trek. But the real story here is former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, who is sitting at 12 percent, just quit the race.

The idea the party is even faking a primary in 2024 is laughable

Christie’s only aim in running for president, as covered in this space months ago, was to hammer Trump. His campaign was Stop Trump “because he’s a fascist lunatic, who will take this country into a darkness rarely seen in many a generation” (his words). His 12-percent shan’t be going to Trump. Maybe, some of them go to DeSantis, but he’s MAGA-lite, and as illustrated above, sucks and is doomed. I’m no math whiz, but let’s say for the sake of argument Haley pulls even ten percent of Christie’s anti-Trump vote, then she’s at 42-percent, and that beats 41-percent.

Moreover, Christie smartly got out two weeks before voting, so there is time for polls to reflect her bump, and if there is a sniff that she might dent Trump, New Hampshire, one of the most vacillating contrarian states in the Union, would be happy to oblige. This is especially prevalent in a year in which there is no Democratic Primary to speak of, therefore the entire Independent anti-Trump attention will be focused on the GOP. However, if DeSantis decides to succumb to reality and suspends his “campaign,” then much of his nine percent might be enough for Trump to hold Haley off.

One interesting twist is Christie went out swinging at the remaining field, spatting, “Any candidate who doesn’t admit that Trump is unfit for office, then they themselves are unfit for office.” So, it is unlikely he endorses Haley outright, but again, this matters little – his 12-percent is less Christie-based than anti-Trump based. They will look at what is left and go for who’s closest, and that’s Haley. Giving your vote to DeSantis at this point is pot-pissing.

Let’s extrapolate this out, shall we? If this is a three-way race and Haley wins in NH. Then, even though she has no shot in her home state of South Carolina, where Trump is around 60-percent, at least he loses something for the first time since November, 2020. And, if you recall, that went well. Just as he did when he coughed up Iowa in 2016, he will say it was rigged. He says everything is rigged unless he wins. Convictions. Loses. The USFL. Atlantic City. 2020 general election. Everything he botches is someone else’s fuck-up. He will most definitely whine for a month between NH and SC and bring up all that bad mojo of election denialism that has torpedoed the GOP in every election cycle since he slunk out of D.C. with his tail between his legs. Could that boost Haley in SC? Could that remind those who may be under-motivated for Joe Biden in the general to remember what kind of loose cannon jack-ass Trump is when he’s running for office?

If nothing else, previous news-cycle primary shifts have taught us that narrative matters. It mattered for Trump in early 2016 when he was only winning primaries with 28-percent of the vote and everyone was convinced he was just trying to boost his NBC contract, yet he kept gobbling up delegates and winner-take-all contests. Bill Clinton in 1992, George Bush in 2000, and Barack Obama in 2008 all gained momentum from early surprise victories or even serviceable second-place finishes. A narrative bump for Haley against a thin-skinned psycho twit like Trump taking to social media and giving disjointed press conferences to bitch about the New Hampshire primary being stolen might make things look a little less cushy for him. 

Trump is going to be the Republican nominee and try and take down America from jail eventually, but there’s no reason this can’t be fun until then.

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Aquarian Weekly
Reality Check
This is the Year We Decide Who We Are – Democratic or Fascist

Three years on, the horrific events of January 6 remain vivid. Everyone, from the right-wing extremists who enacted it and its opposition, purportedly the rest of the nation, keeps its memory alive. The instigator / orchestrator, as then sitting president, Donald Trump brings it up constantly. This is despite advisors and media apologists attempting to spin that day away from him and the damaged Republican Party, As he pursues finishing the job of bringing his brat-king fantasy in perpetuity, Trump promises vengeance for those who were prosecuted and “persecuted” for its crimes – crimes, by the way that happened on video streamed across the world in real-time. The Republican Speaker of the House recently boasted a scheme to protect the remaining fugitives from justice.

By the time the fourth anniversary of 1/6/21 comes up the man and the party responsible for its domestic terrorism will either be elected president again, heralding his defiance of law and order, or rejected outright, ending the fascistic violence he stands for. America has a choice. It will be an interesting year indeed.

Meanwhile, the fallout of January 6 is a fluid endeavor.

Donald Trump and his attorneys are trying anything possible to stall his D.C criminal trial, as in Georgia where his elaborate fake electors’ plot is in similar legal jeopardy. Much of the evidence for both indictments having been revealed in the congressional investigation on the attempted insurrection and a deeper Justice Department and FBI sweep – the largest in U.S. history – into his mob’s looting, assault on officers of the law, and finally murder. It could have been far worse had the heavily armed hordes gotten to lawmakers running for their lives inside the Capitol that day or the undetonated pipe bombs left in front of the Democratic and Republican committee offices.

More than 1,200 people have been charged with federal crimes for the events of January 6, ranging from misdemeanor offenses (trespassing) to felonies (assaulting police officers and seditious conspiracy). Over 170 have been convicted of at least one charge at a trial decided by a judge or a jury, while north of 700 have pled guilty to charges. Of the 750 sentenced, two-thirds have received jail time. Prison sentences have ranged from a few days of intermittent confinement to 22 years in prison – the longest sentence handed down to Enrique Tarrio, the former Proud Boys national chairman who was convicted of seditious conspiracy in a plot to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

“The peaceful transfer of power” is one of the most sacred tenets of the American experiment begun when George Washington, only the second general cum ruler in civilized history to abdicate power peacefully and legally after winning a revolution, insisted on there being a term limit for presidents while admonishing the monarch ideals of the fallen British overlords on the way out. Since the spring of 1797, this has been more than an American tradition. This hallowed ritual, the very underlining principle of our republic, stems from one of the first lessons we teach our children; learn to lose gracefully, uphold the spirit of competition, and adhere to the rules laid out before them. Consider the greater good of the institution and less about your temporarily bruised ego. The infantile petulance of the foot-stomping, red-faced sore loser crying foul when things do not go his way is anathema to the very core of America. 

Until Trump, we mostly lived under the idea of democracy as an agreed upon collective deciding our leaders at the ballot box, and despite some consternation in past presidential elections, most recently in 1960 and 2000, concession speeches and general adherence to decorum won out. This was appallingly missing in the words and actions of the former president. He chose a different path, to disenfranchise 81-million votes cast for Joseph Biden Jr. and use every lever of his office’s power to stop the will of the people. 

January 6 should not be a date to recall as mere history, it is a reminder…

Lest we forget, mucking up the “peaceful tranfer of power” was the aim and ultimate purpose of January 6, 2021 – the very day that would ratify the 59th American election of our president. Regardless of the skewered reasoning by Trump and his allies (rigged election, questionable voting machines, massive Democratic conspiracy), this was the goal. Period. After exhausting the false claims of the election fraud through the media, then being beaten in over 60 court cases, failed schemes to jam fake electors in at least four states, Trump tried in vain to convince Vice President Mike Pence to deny the ratification of the electoral college tally that day in congress. Not wanting to commit a crime he advised Trump not to pursue, the president ignored Pence and took one final shot to deny democracy by using a rally he set up and promoted on social media across from the Capitol as a call to arms – urging the amped up crowd to “fight” for their country, or more to the point his wishes and illusions. Joined by many of his cronies using similar violent rhetoric, much of it aimed at Pence, Trump then directed everyone present to march to the Capitol. What happened next, we all know. It is a matter of history, no matter what crazy shit passes for a revisionist one. 

Now, in 2024, just three years hence, we face the very same man that wants to be president forever. He has stated and shown quite effectively through his actions that he has no intention of continuing the American experiment as it is presently constructed. But ultimately, whether Trump believes in elections or not, this is not up to him. It is up to us. We have a decision to make as a nation this year – beyond the economy, border security, abortion rights, and a host of other issues that hang in the balance in November: Do we allow Donald Trump the most powerful post in the world after what transpired when he lost a free and fair election in 2020 or move on with the American experiment?

Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice, that’s on us. 

It is as simple as that.

I do not believe a court or protests or third-party candidates or bitching about President Joe Biden’s age is going to keep Donald Trump from the White House. Voting for Biden, the only other viable candidate, is going to prevent autocracy in our times. The ballot box is our best weapon, otherwise we become, as Friedrich Nietzsche once warned, the monster we wish to defeat.  

January 6 should not be a date to recall as mere history, it is a reminder, like Pearl Harbor Day or 9/11 of what transpires when we shirk the responsibility to fight for the freedoms bestowed upon us in this rare but fragile framework. Know this, regardless of rationalizations to do so, a vote for Donald Trump this year is a vote for fascism and the repulsion of America as a concept and a democratic foundation.

Yup, it’s gonna be one interesting year. 

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Aquarian Weekly
Reality Check
How a Compromised Supreme Court Will Save Donald Trump

The current Supreme Court is at best the most shamelessly conservative ever or at worst a political arm of the Republican Party’s agenda. The striking down of several tenets of the 1964 Voting Act and its siding with corporations over citizens and of course its most egregious crime, the stripping of women’s reproductive rights, has come to a head. Thanks to the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to strike the domestic terrorist, Donald Trump from its ballot come 2024, the Court must weigh in. There are several reasons why they should overturn this decision, not the least of which Trump having yet to be convicted of anything despite a mountain of glaring evidence, but many more on why they could uphold it: Specifically, the principles of states’ rights and local election laws that conservatives of every bent have flown up several flagpoles for a century or more. Or the Court can simply throw their master a lifeline and once again act as the legal arm of the Grand Old Party.

Juicy stuff.

Let’s unpack by starting with Originalism, shall we?

For decades now, conservative judges, most infamously led by late right-wing lion Justice Anthony Scalia, have held an unflinching belief in the primacy of Originalism, a stringent method of constitutional and statutory interpretation that asserts all legal text should be construed based on the original understanding at the time of adoption. And so, if this is to be understood as sacrosanct, then the Colorado Court’s interpretation of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted as one of the Reconstruction Amendments in the summer of 1868, is airtight. Any attempt by an individual or individuals to disrupt or topple the democratic construct of the nation must be disqualified from running for or holding office. This is the very definition of Trump’s attempted coup d’état. From using the nation’s most powerful pulpit to spread blatant lies and unsubstantiated claims about a fixed election – dozens of which had already been defeated in recounts and court cases – to the fake elector schemes that have him currently in legal jeopardy in Georgia and D.C., and culminating with that mess he started by inviting an angered mob to the Capitol to stop the ratifying of a fair and legal election on January 6, 2021.

Conservatives should cum when they read the Fourteenth Amendment. It’s in that pocket Constitution they always wave at the Woke. Rightfully considered one of the most consequential amendments adopted after the bloody massacre known as the Civil War, it addresses citizenship rights and equal protection under the law for formerly enslaved Americans. But it also provides protection against what they constantly harp on as the “evils of federal government.” Mostly, it should be a favorite for nothing else but forming the basis for the landmark Supreme Court decision declaring George W. Bush president in 2000. But, as all laws, the Fourteenth Amendment swings both ways, as unpopular anticonservative rulings such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). And it was the reasoning behind the Roe v Wade decision in 1973, which this hack Court conveniently wiped out to placate religious loons and fascists.

It’s a malleable amendment that you can choose to suit your needs, thus making it certain that his Court gets Trump back on the Colorado ballot tout suite, and at the time of this writing, the Maine ballot, as their courts have disqualified Trump’s 2024 presidential bid there.

Any attempt by an individual or individuals to disrupt or topple the democratic construct of the nation must be disqualified from running for or holding office.

To say this is whole thing is rare is an understatement. Section 3 of the Amendment was previously only used once, to block Socialist Party of America member Victor L. Berger of Wisconsin from assuming his seat in the House of Representatives in 1919 and 1920. Berger was convicted of a crime; violating the Espionage Act for opposing U.S. entry into World War I. But, let’s face it, that’s a fart in the wind when put up against the former president’s crime spree for those crucial months after we was waxed in the 2020 election.

And then we have States’ Rights – the political porn of conservative “values.” It is States’ Rights that was used to prop up slavery – something apparently former South Carolina (yeah, the state that started the Civil War), Governor Nikki Haley is unfamiliar with. It was also the hammer used in attempts to stop the Civil Rights and Voting Rights bills in 1964 and ’65. And it was States’ Rights that currently enslaves women with the Dobbs decision in 2022.

During a debate on gutting parts of the Voting Rights Act, which this Court has done flippantly, Republicans like Senator John Thune of South Dakota, cried, “Make no mistake about it, that is what we are talking about: federalizing elections in this country; usurping, preempting states, where elections have been administered and regulated since the inception of this country.” The aptly named Republican Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho chimed in with “This was a power grab that circumvented and federalized our entire elections process, stripping states of their constitutional authorities.”

Yeah, so if Colorado doesn’t want an insurrectionist on their ballot, then how liberal is it to have the federal government force it to do so?

Hmmm… I’ll give you a minute.

Now, remember, the only reason this Court exists as it does is Republicans refused to honor a vote on Barrack Obama’s SCOTUS nominee with ten months to go before an election because of that election’s import in 2016. Then when faced with a more pressing nominee from Trump in late 2020, only weeks before the election, they rammed an anti-abortion candidate through the Senate. Now, the very same Court will ignore States’ Rights and Colorado’s state-run laws of governing their election aid a criminal in running there.

Hypocrisy is baked in.

Now, I have been writing here for years that true conservatism is dead. It was already a flimsy reed of an ideology before Trump turned the Republican Party into a nationalistic populist sinkhole, but if this fixed Court rules against Colorado, which I expect it to do, then it is truly and finally finished.

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Scattershot – Life, Music, Elton & Me – Bernie Taupin (2023)

More than anyone in my youth, Bernie Taupin’s lyrics for Elton John’s brilliant run in the 1970s made me want to be a writer. The evocative expressions, three-dimensional characters, and conflicted stories covering the gamut of tragedy to comedy was a masterclass for an impressionable mind. It led me to want to discover more songs and artists that tread similar paths, so when I’d heard Taupin had a memoir in the works, I was more than excited.

Scattershot is not merely a memoir. In fact, it is less about Taupin as lyricist, co-songwriter, silent talent behind the pop throne, and more about his exploits navigating a strive for fame and his incredible run achieving and enduring it. The book details the ups and downs through his experiences in love and loss, laughter and tears, the exquisite fun of excess into terrible bouts with drugs, alcohol, lost loves, and, finally, survival and redemption.

At first, this disappointed me. I wanted to know more “behind the songs” stuff – you know, the process and craft that I am sure no one else would care to read (hence Scattershot). However, Taupin does provide (between all the hijinks and adventures in L.A., England, France, Mexico, the Caribbean, etc.) the odd bauble. Like, um, there is a fourth verse to “Daniel” that explains the whole thing? But then I realized, the real-life encounters, exotic locales, and hard-to-believe unfolding dramas reflect much of what made me love Bernie in the first place: his writing. The man is an observer, a social reporter of the mind and emotions of the human condition. He places these experiences, these outsized personalities inside his songs.     

Scattershot is aptly named as he finds a center in a whirlwind life and beautifully describes each layer. And that is the true payoff of this book – it is as stunningly written as a fan of his songwriting would hope. Funny. Sad. Insightful. A lasting memory of his travels within and without. 

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60 Songs That Explain the ‘90s – Rob Harvilla (2023)

I adored this book. 60 Songs That Explain the ‘90s is – to say the very least – a comprehensive ride through the 1990s musical landscape, which the author reminds us on its cover handles commentary for the over 60 songs promised. Rob Harvilla, whose work has appeared in Spin, The Village Voice, and more recently the pop culture online zine the Ringer, pours his heart into the time that framed him as a young man, a journalist, a husband, and a dad. The joyous expression of his love and even minor disdain for the songs that defined his generation make for compelling reading. His passion for this period is infectious and recalls many of its most important musical and cultural expressions.

The book flows quickly through styles and periods, genres and images from chaos-agents to sell-outs, influential women rockers to adversaries, flukes, comebacks, myths, and more. Through each, the songs and the artists behind them come alive as Harvilla deconstructs the very essence of what made them crucial to a decade that careened from one fad to another with tongue-cheek ease. 

Harvilla’s paragraphs on the imprint and import of Kurt Cobain and unabashed esteem of Céline Dion alone are worth the price of admission. These are just two of the polar aspects of the music covered in 60 Songs That Explain the ‘90s that enhance the trek with humor and pathos aplenty, for it is his voice that carries the day. You never feel as though he is not in there swinging with each comment, artist and tune. A true heart-on-the-sleeve effort that I always appreciate with this type of project.  

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Got to Be Something Here: The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound – Andrea Swensson (2017)

Another full disclosure: I have gotten to know author, journalist, broadcaster Andrea Swensson rather well in the past year (as I am currently writing a book about Prince and the Revolution). Andrea is one of the preeminent Prince scholars – she even spent time at Paisley Park with the man – and found time between writing liner notes for yet another Prince legacy box set to whisk me around Minneapolis this past summer touring all the most important places that created one of the great artists of the latter half of the twentieth century. But first, for me, there was Got to Be Something Here: The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound – the most important and comprehensive study of the music, culture, and import of the thriving and influential Minneapolis scene, which stakes a high place in the pantheon of popular music.

Swensson, also a music journalist, radio host, and podcaster, is a proud native of the Twin Cities and leads the reader on a similar tour through the neighborhoods, inside the clubs, and, most importantly, out on the streets of a growing American city through a long journey from jazz, blues, funk, soul, and rock. Lost figures – Black and white – bind together to form a distinctive sound and style that sets the world aflame in the 1980s, but has its deepest roots in each phase of its evolution.

However, it is in the city’s cultural history, specifically its Black and Jewish lower middle-class neighborhoods, where the true art blossomed and pulsed with revolution and extermination, fighting systemic racism, a lack of exposure, and a schizophrenic amalgam of musical aspirations clashing and inspiring a movement. Swensson sets the scenes, puts us in the middle of times that exploded myths and forged new paths.

Got to Be Something Here brims with atmosphere, and there was and is indeed something there worth exploring and celebrating.  

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Silhouettes and Shadows: The Secret History of David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) – Adam Steiner (2023)

Secret history? Sign me up. Silhouettes and Shadows: The Secret History of David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) delivers. Adam Steiner provides historical, political, sexual, and cultural context to one of David Bowie’s most underrated and forgotten albums. Crammed between his experimental Berlin triptych (“Heroes,” LowStation to Station) and his pop sensation coming out (Sell out?), Let’s DanceScary Monsters is Bowie’s grand pivot, the gift to and harangue of the emerging New Romantics period he had helped create and influence like no other.

Entering the 1980s out of his most prolific and shape-shifting era of the 1970s, Bowie is on-point in his lyrical and aural commentary, as Steiner illustrates with each track – the concept of hyper-change, fears, and regrets of wasted youth and uncertain future bursts from every beat and note. Splitting up the author’s deeply nuanced narratives are creative, poetic companion pieces and revealing quotations that add to the uncovering mystery.

Silhouettes and Shadows stands as a needed reflection point in the growing catalog of Bowie books, especially since his death in 2016. It bridges the gaps of his many personas with a portrait of an artist in constant flux who knows where he has been and where he might go.

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Parachute Women – Marianne Faithful, Marsha Hunt, Bianca Jagger Anita Pallenberg, and the Women Behind the Rolling Stones – Elizabeth Winder(2023)

First and foremost, Parachute Women is a gorgeously written work; every paragraph brims with boldly worded visual descriptions of hippy fashion, psychedelic comportment, and underground psychological expression with pure rock and roll spirit. Author Elizabeth Winder’s wonderfully evocative travelog through the hoary subculture and glitzy celebrity romps of the long-haired, drug-addled nouveau riche and the 1960s into the seventies youth movements simultaneously flips its macho machinations on its head. This is a story of not the women behind the Rolling Stones in their most prolific and powerfully influential period, but leaders in their behavior, brand, and image.

Parachute Women is a revelation to those of us, namely me, who have been fed a filtered version of these well-worn tales over the years – even if powerful female figures like the enigmatic train-wreck sexual firebrand of Anita Pallenberg bursts from previous volumes on the band’s history. The author deftly eschews rehashing the usual stories of drug busts and bad-boy behavior to recast previously celebrated rebel figures of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger as cultural neophytes groping for radical fulcrums for which to build their outlaw bona fides.

Pallenberg rightly gets top billing as she radically altered the Stones paradigm while bedding three of its key members, introducing drugs, fashion, and a worldly witchy countenance to their otherwise middle-class attitudes, which Winder reminds us never really faded throughout their reign as “the greatest rock and roll band in the world.” Although, it is in the fragile yet indefatigable Marianne Faithful that the strands of this tale find its pathos. She gets a fair review as a genuine alter ego of Jagger in their “it couple” period bounding around Swinging London, in which her impish teenage freestyling reflects badly on the posturing of her ego-driven man.

This is a must read for those of us who gorge on Rolling Stones ephemera with a true exploration of strong women who endured their oppressive if not brilliantly devised ascent as a major force in rock’s firmament.   

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Lou Reed – The King of New York – Will Hermes (2023)

For my money, Will Hermes penned one of the finest books written about music, Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, which I reviewed here in 2012, and by far the finest one on New York’s rich late seventies influence on modern popular music. So, it makes sense he would tackle the oracle of New York in Lou Reed, and as imagined, he hit it out of the park.

First off, full disclosure, I knew Hermes had been working on this book for a while. Years ago, he’d reached out for contacts of insiders I had interviewed that dovetailed with Reed’s studio history, so from that point on I was busting to read this. Hermes ability to mine research and bring interviews to life is unparalleled, but what makes Lou Reed – The King of New York sing is his ability to describe and deconstruct Reed’s eclectic artistry, his mercurial nature, and his surly, spastic, intensely passionate life within and beyond the music. 

Having written my own book on a difficult subject in Warren Zevon, my heart goes out to Hermes, who agilely tightropes very delicate subjects here, from mental illness, drug addiction, sexual identity, domestic violence, art versus commerce, and music business ugliness that found Reed at every turn. His work on the Velvet Underground period is a completist’s dream, as many nuggets are uncovered and still many others explained – including wonderfully painful but insightful commentary from the band’s drummer, Moe Tucker. It is within the solo years that much of what Reed did in addition to his music – interest in film, painting, his foray into poetry and theater – along with his forgotten but seminal tours are portrayed and analyzed. Reed’s music – his hits and misses – leap from the page and profoundly illustrate what made him a great, as well as oft-misunderstood, celebrated, harangued, and imitated artist.

Lou Reed – The King of New York may be the final word on Reed’s life (and the final weeks before his death) as it is a biography that reads as dangerously close to the bone as its subject investigated in his best work.

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Aquarian Weekly
Reality Check
Mike Johnson Tells It Like It Is – Ignore his Warning at America’s Peril

I have extremely low expectations for humanity. I presume more times than not to be disappointed by us. Over the past four to five years, what has sunk even lower in my pathetically low bar is the Republican Party. I am not sure how much deeper they can sink to spike my abhorrence, but the great thing about penning this column each week is it brings new opportunities to mine the depths of depravity. This week we had a doozy from the new Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson, a heretofore little know religious loon from Louisiana, who helped facilitate the attempted coup de tat on America in 2020/21. Upon the proposed release of extended January 6 footage, he said this week, in public, as a matter of decorum and philosophical pride, “We have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in the events of that day because we don’t want them to be retaliated against and to be charged by the DOJ and to have other concerns and problems.”

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, a man two heartbeats from the White House, who has sworn on his precious Holy Bible to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States, and currently guides the nation’s law body, called the press together and said, once again I state, out loud, that he means to protect criminals who sought to violently overthrow a free and fair election, beat and eventually kill capitol police, and destroy the people’s property. 

Is this not completely and utterly insane behavior? 

Or is this the new norm? 

I believe the latter now more than ever, even though I have written so for years, and especially after January 6, but the cat is out of the bag. The Republican Party is a proudly devised and systemically bolstered domestic terrorist organization. What adversary conclusion can one glean from this? Its titular head is shouting from the rooftops that he will aid the obstruction of justice for enemies of the state. In essence, what Johnson is saying is the Republican Party is aligned with domestic terrorists. Not some nut like Tucker Carlson or those dweebs on OAN or the Proud Boys or the tin-foil hat brigade on the Internet waiting for JFK Jr. to join Donald Trump, the new Christ, as VP, but the Speaker of the House! 

Initially, in the waning hours and days after the horrors of January 6, the entire gory episode was on Donald Trump and his cronies, many of whom are in jail or have plea-bargained to take him down. The whole “Come to the Capitol Mall, it’s going to be wild” tweets, the rally, the violent rhetoric, and the armed insurrections were his and his alone. But then, slowly but surely, those who initially decried Trump and underlined his crimes on the floor of Congress like former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, seemed to take a left turn and kowtowed to the criminal underground. And now the voters, nearly 90-percent of Republicans, join them. They are about to send the architect of this mayhem, still screaming about our elections being fraudulent back into the fray as their 2024 nominee for president.

To be fair to Johnson, the man didn’t even want to be Speaker. This was the idea of the fascist wing of the party who couldn’t abide McCarthy getting the people’s business done by working across party lines. They ousted him and ended up with a man who clearly disdains the American experiment and its people. His design is a theocracy, a Christian Sharia Law doctrine that jails pregnant women and queers, as he stated before the Supreme Court in a 2003 amicus brief about how “deviant same-sex intercourse should be a crime.” Johnson, who calls our Bill of Rights separation of church and state a “misnomer,” is on the record framing America as a “Biblical Republic,” boldy hanging a Christian Nationalists’ “Appeal to Heaven” flag outside his office that he wishes will replace the stars and stripes as if imagining a Handmaid’s Tale dystopia. The aim of this theocracy is laid out in one simple edict: “God has called Christians to exercise dominion over all areas of American society”.

Believe Johnson when he says this stuff. He doesn’t see the January 6 rioters and insurrectionists as criminals, they are persecuted Christian Warriors sent to overthrow this secular nation for a one-religion government like Iran or Saudi Arabia. Stripping women of their reproductive rights was just the start for this sect, and it is being fronted and supported by the Republican Party. Not maybe or tomorrow or if things go badly, RIGHT NOW. Not just Trump and some crazies from the hinterlands, but the federal government. And not phony conspiracy theorists, but a ruling party. One of only two that we got, folks.

The Republican Party is a proudly devised and systemically bolstered domestic terrorist organization.

The other day, after Ohio rightfully codified women’s rights into their state constitution, which Republicans there are trying to override as I write this, former Republican presidential contender and talking head from some half-baked Right Wing internet media conglomerate, Rick Santorum said, once again, out loud, that “pure democracies are not the way to run a country.” People guffawed. “What a dipshit,” they laughed. Yeah, he is a dipshit, but you know who also espouses this nonsense, Mike fucking Johnson, who has said on more than one occasion, “America is not a democracy.” He believes it, and now he is in a position of immense power. And if Trump wins and Republicans gain full power again, make no mistake, he’s coming for your freedom and replacing it with Christian falderal as law.

They’re banning books and threatening our kids’ curriculum to strike history and revisit it with god-fearing jingoism. It is happening, not as a science fiction harbinger like War of the Worlds, it’s the Republican Party today. So, when Mike Johnson says, “We have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in the events of that day because we don’t want them to be retaliated against and to be charged by the DOJ and to have other concerns and problems.” We need to hear loud and clear his defense of those who want to transform America into a theocracy. Because he means it. 

Listen and heed him.

Or else. 

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