BUNDY RANCH SOLUTION: FREE-FOR-ALL IN NEVADA

Aquarian Weekly
4/30/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion              


BUNDY RANCH SOLUTION: FREE-FOR-ALL IN NEVADA

The key to organizing an alternative society is to organize people around what they can do, and more importantly, what they want to do.

– Abbie Hoffman
Yeeee-haaa!

I love this blithering asshole, Cliven Bundy. He is a dumb hick bigot dipshit and he is my hero. Soon I will take his advice and begin a life (or at least write about) a life of blessed anarchy where it belongs…The Bundy Ranch.Bundy

Right now this scofflaw has been sitting on miles of my land; American taxpayer…I. That’s right. Squatter. Freeloader. Welfare King. And I figure, just like my daily visits to the Bank of America when I was a reluctant but proud shareholder of that corrupt institution, which included me shouting about turning up the air-conditioning and demanding to hear Daniel Johnston tunes in the lobby, I will have plenty to impart in the area of wisdom and well wishes.

It’s obvious this nation’s defense has been compromised since 9/11, what with all the torture chambers and six-hour waits at the airport. Otherwise there would be no good explanation why this good-for-nothing shit-stain rancher would not pay me and my taxpaying brethren the over one million bucks he owes in back taxes for 20 years of fraud and not be taken down like road kill.

Where is George Washington when you need him? Hell, you might ask those poor bastards the federal army plowed under over some barrels of whiskey in the wee months of this republic, forcing the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the federal government to ostensibly represent our interests with appropriations culled for being a citizen.

But George is gone, and ever since Nixon decided it might be a good idea to murder children at Kent State, people tend to frown on armed denizens of the nation “cleaning house”, so to speak. Take out the trash, like we say here in New Jersey. Here in Jersey we like our civic representation to use us as fodder, especially at rush hour and then deny it ever happened – then when busted apologize and whitewash the thing with “internal investigations” – in other words good, old time politics; something between a hockey fight and the human centipede concept.

But never mind us; this Bundy Stand-Off nonsense is about ripping stuff off and calling it rebellion. And I am all for that. I was a fan of the Rodney King riots, but this is way better. Despite Mr. Bundy’s inability to parse four words in the King’s English without his brain going sideways and the odd white supremacist rant, he possesses something of a genius strand. It is vague, but it is there. Of course suckering FOXNEWS in getting behind anti-American causes and calling it American causes these days is like running over the Branch Davidians at Waco.

I was a fan of the Rodney King riots, but this is way better. Despite Mr. Bundy’s inability to parse four words in the King’s English without his brain going sideways and the odd white supremacist rant, he possesses something of a genius strand.

Shit, Janet Reno knew what she was doing; tanks rolling over a burning arsenal is as American as a deadbeat rancher, and I salute any idiot who refuses to recognize the American government and its representation, namely me, and still rides around on a horse waving the goddamn flag. Like those moron TEA Party jack-offs and their “Keep The Government Out Of My Medicaid” signs.

We’re getting off track here. Way off. We need to plan this out. How can we take advantage of this Bundy character’s new philosophy: Whatever you can get away with you can own, or Finder Keeper’s, which works great among prepubescents or people with an IQ just north of flat-line.

Sign me up.

I say fuck the government or the FBI or whatever gets these goobers all militia-ed up and put together a small army of our own; North Eastern Rebel Force 12 (why twelve? I love Joe Namath and I was married on the twelfth and it’s none of your goddamn business, tyrant!). Then march down to this old fart and plow under his land, (His land? There is no “ownership” in Bundy World) turn it into a rock festival; jam godless music at deafening volumes and take long, painful shits all over his property, festoon the joint with used condoms, beer cans and syringes, and find out where Bundy sleeps and have ten-deep orgies before organizing a group puke all over his bedroom. In fact, turn his house into the center of a giant tribute bonfire.

That is the way Cliven Bundy rolls.

And thus….we roll.

Like Frank and his brother Jesse James, who knew what is was like to flout convention, take on a new philosophy of lawlessness, which blazed a trail of land-rape and gun justice that would make these high school dropouts and their cousin-wives down in Nevada look like the Webelos.

Now, my friends, that is true anarchy.

Then when it’s over, we’ll erect a statue to Grampy Cliven, godfather of Do What You Like And Damn The Torpedoes; a renewed sense of American tradition, where you just steal what you wish and call it a cause.

Yeeeeeee-haaaaaa!

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ERIC HUTCHINSON’S PURE FICTION

Aquarian Weekly
4/16/14
Cover Piece

 

ERIC HUTCHINSON’S PURE FICTION
Pop Singer/Songwriter Gets Back to Basics; Rhythm + Melody = Hit

It was one of those brutal New York City winter nights this past January when april-16-2014-eric-hutchinson_small
I met up with Eric Hutchinson at the Monkey Bar in midtown. He was sitting alone in a booth towards the front across from the bar dressed in a high-collar, blue zippered sweater and jeans, his hair a little longer, his face a little thinner. He looked relaxed, confident; as if he had shed the excess from his life and work. Ella Fitzgerald played softly on the jukebox. An elderly couple chatted at the far corner. Hutchinson ordered a Scotch, neat. I had my obligatory Hendricks and tonic, two limes, lots of ice. I had come to find out what was behind the songs I had lived with for two weeks on a first mix of his new album, which he would title, Pure Fiction.

“It’s called Pure Fiction, because when I finished writing the songs that would end up on this album and started looking them over, I noticed that none of them were about me,” Hutchinson began. “When I took myself out of the way, I wrote about something else. But then I thought anything that comes from me on some level is about me. I still wrote it, I still made it; it came from somewhere, and I think on this album I tried not to get in the way of that as much. If I wrote a lyric, maybe at some time earlier I would have thought this is too cheesy or this is too simple, but this time I said, ‘I wrote it for a reason and I don’t want to get in the way of what I’m writing it for.’ I tried really hard this time around to not screw with stuff more than it needed to be. And I enjoyed that process.”

Hutchinson’s first two studio albums brimmed with the kind of hooks, choruses and clever lyrics an ascendant star needs to make on his way to the firmament, but he was now without a label for the first time in years. He recently released a set of live songs from his last tour, Almost Solo in NYC, which featured his deftly humorous storytelling as much his considerable musical talents, but decided it was time to trim the whole thing way down, get back to what put him in the discussion with the industry’s hottest new talent in the first place.

“You get a lot of good things from being involved with a major label system like exposure I never would have gotten,” says Hutchinson. “But the other side of it is it’s almost never on my time-line. The last album took a long time, partially it was me, but partially because once it was done there was a lot of stuff out of my control. My mantra on this album was ‘I want to make it, I want to put it out, and I don’t want anything to be between that.’ I wanted that control.”

“My mantra on this album was ‘I want to make it, I want to put it out, and I don’t want anything to be between that.’ I wanted that control.”

Released from music-biz trappings, the 33 year-old singer/songwriter returned to his roots; back to his apartment, back to the guitar, and reconnected with his adoration for the well-constructed song – tearing it down and building it back up, one note at a time.

“I sat at in my home studio asking, ‘Can I play this song on the guitar? Can I make this song work?’ recalls Hutchinson. “Because it’s not about hiding behind tricks, it’s about ‘Is this a song when it’s broken down to its bare basics – is it a song or not? Is it tangible?’ I would be at the piano or guitar and just play it as hard as I could and just sort of sing and leave the recorder going and for twenty minutes maybe bang on the piano as hard as I could, smash the guitar, totally sing guttural. Then, leave it alone. Go back the next day and see what jumps out from that, what works.”

Much of this primal, stripped down style is clearly evident in each track of Pure Fiction; a truly masterful presentation of Hutchinson’s acute pop sensibilities. In fact, Pure Fiction is Hutchinson’s elegy to pop music, his raison d’être, a place to fit all those melodies that are so comforting in their immediate hook you’d swear you’ve heard them before. The album’s first single, “Tell The World” is a wonderfully crafted sing-along and a striking prologue to the album’s underlying theme – holding onto our moments and shamelessly shouting it from a mountain top.ERIC_HUTCHINSON14291_Web_25

“I found myself in the worst place a writer can be, which was happy,” he chuckled to himself. “I live in New York, I’m married, I’ve got a dog – I’ve got a nice life…and when I sat down to write this time I didn’t feel like emptying the chest all over again and having to dig out my problems. And I became aware midway through that there’s a lot of that in there anyway, but I kind of felt it was thematically working and I didn’t try and go away from it when it was clear I wanted to keep saying it. It’s also a little bit about ‘I’m in a great place, but doesn’t everyone always hate you when you’re in a great place?’”

To hear Hutchinson explain it “Tell The World” is less joyous romp than social commentary on how everything that ends up on Facebook and Instagram reflects only our best moments in life, however there is a great joy in the song, especially the vocal, which is as infectious as anything he has committed to a track. His experience with achieving a measure of stardom and accepting his good fortune without trepidation infuse Pure Fiction with a feel-good vibe, something he found while traveling the country on tour and experiencing life outside the bubble of New York, where he lives, but mostly seeing the world for leisure.

“I put up this inspiration board right in front of me at my workspace when I was playing piano or guitar and singing into the mic,” effuses Hutchinson. “I was actually thinking about what I am looking at when I’m working. This method took me back to Barcelona, when I went to visit the Joan Miró museum and I was in heaven. The whole city is amazing. It’s so beautiful. And his stuff was so beautiful I immediately thought, ‘Should I be looking at something that pleases me when I’m writing; would it bring something out?’”

“I guess the more places you go, the more you realize the same things matter to everybody.”

The “inspiration wall” can be heard in the nearest Hutchinson has come to a ballad, “Sun Goes Down”; his “Dock of the Bay” moment, mixing a haunting melody with striking lyrical imagery. “I got this postcard and just described what was on it,” says Hutchinson; the postcard as metaphor for the captured moments of Pure Fiction: “On the front a desert sky orange, red and brown/ She wrote will you think of me/When the sun goes down.”

“I guess the more places you go, the more you realize the same things matter to everybody,” he says, smiling.

We ordered another round as the room began to fill and the background banter reverberated. Hutchinson made sure I understood the spiritual center of Pure Fiction which is infused in tracks like “Love Like You”, an achingly infectious song with a tension that draws the listener to the lyric through an almost hypnotic vocal performance, mixing Beatles bop with the velvet strains of Al Green. But it is in the juxtaposition of subtle duplicitous lines like “This is a crash landing, we’re living a dream”, which hint at Hutchinson’s playful seduction of how much happiness is the result of blind chance.

But it was anything but blind chance when Hutchinson entered the studio last summer, where he constructed the songs meticulously, showcasing an array of rhythms for flavor – South African, bosa nova, four-on-the-floor rock and slap-back funk – giving personality to dance numbers like “I Got The Feelin’ Now”, “A Little More” and “I Don’t Love U”. Wrapping the tracks in airtight tempo allowed his dexterous vocal lifts and twists to breathe inside percussion. “I tried really hard to not get in the way of these songs,” says Hutchinson. “I usually agonize over a certain chord progression or lyric, but this time I just let it happen. I stopped wondering what it was or where any of it came from.”hutch

To complete the cycle back to basics, Hutchinson worked on Pure Fiction in L.A. at the late Elliott Smith’s humble studio on Van Nuys Boulevard where he recorded his debut, Sounds Like This in 2008. Under the tutelage of two producers, Jerrod Bettis, (Adele, Better Than Ezra, Backstreet Boys) who played much of the accompanying instruments, and Aben Eubanks (Kelly Clarkson) he opened his mind to new recording techniques , but remained dedicated to my description of him when we first met in 2006; songsmith.

“It’s that attention to detail all the way across, where every single thing matters, which could also be the unraveling as you get close to the end of the album,” Hutchinson says, laughing. “In the old days you get the whole band together and figure out later what the hell that sounded like – did the bass player play the right thing or not – but to me that’s the whole thing; we get the drums down, and then I get the acoustic guitar, and I make sure the acoustic guitar works and then Jarred picks up the bass and I say, ‘Well, that’s great, but that part could have gone there.’ It’s the only way I know how to make music.”

New found professional freedom, a comfort in knowing his place in the music biz and a masterfully crafted pop album has Eric Hutchinson right where he wants to be. “I’ve been doing this for how many years, but whenever anyone asks me, ‘What kind of music do you play?’ it’s like the first time it’s ever been asked. I never have an answer, you know? And on the last album I was chasing this thing that I’m a soul artist and the show reflected that on some level, but I think after making this album, I can answer people; I make pop music. This is pop music, and I think this show will reflect that a little more. The last show was little more like a soul review and I think this will be a little more pop, whatever that is? I guess we’ll figure that out. Yeah, these songs are pop. I’m a pop artist.”

“Yeah, these songs are pop. I’m a pop artist.”

Perhaps the strongest musical statement on Pure Fiction is “Forever”, a collaboration with The 88’s Keith Slettedahl, a first. It is a master’s course in dynamic ranges; from the massaged acoustic open to the lilting lead vocal as prologue to chest-caving bass drum kicks, all of it bedding the wash of harmonies that appear as if a choir. It evokes the best of the British New Romantics period seeped in a New York club milieu. “I was trying to get out of my head space, and for me, that meant co-writing with someone else for the very first time,” says Hutchinson. “For the first time I can listen and kind of say it’s not mine. I can appreciate all that he contributed to it. Talk about getting out of your own way, I was completely out of it, because it was his thing, and I came to love it more than anything I could come up with.”

When we parted, well over an hour of coming to grips with this crossroads album of his, and where it will lead him, he assured me that just speaking aloud its intentions brought to light all the hard work it took to realize Pure Fiction. But doubtless it will be more well-defined this time around.

“My manager (Dave Morris) is obsessed with the idea of how many artists finally figure it out by their third album; Springsteen, Billy Joel, their first albums are not the ones people talk about, they don’t have the hits on them,” says Hutchinson. “But to me, I think, the third album was about figuring it out. The first one was just gut level, raw, had to get it out there, the second album was over-thinking it all, and this one is me tinkering and learning from those two and changing it up a little bit.”

 

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DESPERATE DEMOCRATS LOWBALL STRATEGY 2014

Aquarian Weekly
4/23/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion


DESPERATE DEMOCRATS LOWBALL STRATEGY 2014

Karl Rove once told me that the only thing that matters when you are looking at miles of bad road is what you do to shorten it. I remember he let the “shhh” just roll through his teeth; “shhhhorten it”. They were gritted like a challenged pit bull. His eyes seemed weird, unfocused, as if he were thinking of six things at once. But his words rang true.Debbie-Wasserman-Schultz

That was in the summer of 2000 just outside of Orlando, Florida. I remembered it a few months later when his candidate eviscerated a blindsided John McCain in South Carolina with scurrilous rumors of a “Negro love child” and “Rabid atheism”. And I remembered it when Rove openly told reporters those last desperate weeks in the late-summer of 2004 that he was going to “rile the base with anti-gay” legislation. And his candidate won re-election.

I can’t recall who or what Rove elected both times. Another Bush? Perhaps it worked out. Maybe not. One thing is for certain, his arch enemies, the Democrats have decided that the projected ass-kicking they are looking at come this November – and it is going to be severe and cost them the senate and completely neuter this president – will not come at a price for the Republican Party.

Since the Democrats owned the store in 2010 with the passing for the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans have made a mockery of “statement votes” in the House, most pointedly the 281 or so times they attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Now the Democrats announce something called the Paycheck Fairness Act, a desperate attempt at useless legislation that has no chance of becoming law, but will make Republicans, who will certainly piss on it, appear anti-woman.

Women, especially single women, are a boon to Democrats, coming out nearly 3-1 for Barack Obama in 2012. Much of this was aided by brutish Republican candidates waxing poetic about “levels of rape” and more than hinting that women’s contraception was a euphemism for whore.

This shameless attempt to fire up the women’s vote with political window dressing was launched out of the White House, which floated out a bogus figure of women in the workplace making 77 percent of what a man earns. Statistics from several studies including Bureau of Labor Statistics report it closer to 83 percent or in other studies closer to 88 percent, still others by profession average at 91 percent. Of course, these studies like most studies of a fluid and variant subject tend to fluctuate, but is nearly, if not completely impossible, to legislate.

But it is a moot point, since this is a political ploy by House Democrats who are merely using this as an election year stunt. It is pandering, like Rove did with the Religious Right and your garden-variety bigotry in 2000 and again in ’04.

Shhhhorten it.

Now the Democrats announce something called the Paycheck Fairness Act, a desperate attempt at useless legislation that has no chance of becoming law, but will make Republicans, who will certainly piss on it, appear anti-woman.

Speaking of which, you may have noticed a bit more talk in the past week about the covert racism of the Republican Party due to the race of the president. What was once innuendo has become blatant accusations, which, of course, are difficult to substantiate. And even though there is truth to how people are motivated by politics, it is not a real debate. Saying a political party or a member of government is racist for disagreeing with a sitting president is as specious as a government who labeled you as siding with terrorists or un-American if you protested the Iraq War. We’ve been down that slippery slope for decades. It is not politics, it is human nature, and to whitewash an entire opposition party with racism or anti-American rhetoric is fabricated, self-serving and reeks of desperation.

Shhhhhorten it.

On a similar note, pay attention to how things roll out after the Republicans take the senate. There will be a concerted effort on the part of the establishment to push for a comprehensive immigration bill during the final two years before the 2016 presidential election, to begin the healing process between the Republican Party and the Latino/Hispanic vote, which is toxic to its national election hopes thanks to such stellar ideas as “Voluntary Deportation” and building giant walls on the border. They’ve already rolled Jeb Bush out to pour honey on this turd. Believe me, it’s coming.

Another Bush?

Shhhhhorten it.

But fear not, this transparent dance with demographics can’t work, right? Because all one has to do is look at 2006, when Democratic candidates ran on the promise to end the Iraq War. It was one of the great slaughters in mid-term history leading to a whole lot of nothing. Well, not nothing; the Affordable Care Act.

But fear not, Republicans, you have your own pile of feces called Voter ID Laws enacted in 30 states for only one reason; politics. If there is one thing that does not need government overreach it is voter fraud, which is less than half of one percent of millions of votes cast each year in all 50 states, but there they are just the same.

Shhhhorten it.

But the Dems have it this season. The party is pulling out all the stops to halt what is an inevitable transfer of power in the legislative branch and a two-thirds majority in the federal government. Two years of Republican majority is plenty of time to strengthen the already invincible electorate waiting for our next president, Hilary Rodham Clinton.

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MONEY, CORRUPTION & THE FREE THINKER PRINCIPLE

Aquarian Weekly
4/16/14
REALITY CHECK
 

James Campion

 

MONEY, CORRUPTION & THE FREE THINKER PRINCIPLE
Some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship power, some worship God, & over these ideals they dispute & cannot unite–but they all worship money.
– Mark Twain

 Believe none of what you hear and half of what you believe.
– Something Benjamin Franklin heard in a French whorehouse and repeated at a Philadelphia beer garden
This week the Supreme Court further removed the shackles for wealthy donors to
contribute as much as they wish for political candidates, building on the momentum of the Citizens United ruling of 2007. The decision was 5-4 right down the line of political ideology, five conservative to four liberal judges, which is telling since this has been an issue for high-profile Republican donors like the Koch brothers that have turned quid pro quo cash deals into an art form. However, the dissent by liberal judges is disingenuous since Labor Unions routinely make up the preponderance of big money donations across the country in outrageous sums, and have been long before the Koch brothers knew how lucrative buying congressman could be.koch-brothers

Be that as it may, the following sentiments will not be going down the ideological slippery slope of hypocrisy wherein you have the Right whining about liberal media and the Left bitching about FOXNEWS. This is indeed about the First Amendment and the right to support any candidate of your choice with how you choose to do it. It is also about the realities of this republic, which was colonized, founded and manipulated since day one by money.

Firstly, taking the freedom of speech angle, it is unconstitutional to put limits on a citizen’s voice in the political process. For corporations, big money donors or whatever the fuck Citizens United is, this is the avenue in which they can impart said voice. If this were a true democracy, which it is not, never has been, and was never considered as such by our mostly rich framers, then, of course, there would be an issue with the rest of us (or at least those of you without a weekly column) that have no real voice beyond the ballot box. This is why, despite my abject mockery of TEA Party rallies and the 99-percent protests, there is a real desire for the rest of us to “be involved” without having a boatload of money to invest in our civic interests.

But that does not change the fact that if you have dough, you should be able to spend it how you like, within legal boundaries, which, as stated, should not preclude the First Amendment.

Of course money corrupts the system, just like bad journalism, idiot pundits and kowtowing to the lowest common denominator, which is by far the very essence of this nation’s lasting legacy.

Those opposed to this argument will shout that the system is circumvented by a collected few, which is as American as your mom’s apple pie and steroid abuse. From the shipyard of Boston Harbor to the railroads moguls of the Midwest and the pile of feces printed daily by Randolph Hearst and the tentacle reach of Big Oil, the influence of cash is our heritage. It kicked the English out, eviscerated the natives, ripped off the French, Dutch, Spanish and Mexicans, burned the South to the ground and ended slavery, smacked the Kaiser, toppled Hitler and eventually bankrupted the Soviet Union. It is what got us into Viet Nam and Iraq, elected a Kennedy and bribed Florida judges to put G.W. in office. It is our political pedigree.

Arguing about this now is like suggesting that red, white and blue is not quite right for the flag.

And don’t talk about corruption, which is where all this capping of donations started in 1974 when Dick Nixon blew up the entirety of the executive branch. Like the sallow ruins of 9/11 and whatever crazy shit happened thereafter from illegal jailing and wiretapping, covert wars and the vice president shooting a man in the face over quail meat, Watergate unleashed a torrent of silly overreactions that put a lean on our Bill of Rights that I strongly believe the Supreme Court corrected, whatever its political motivation.

But Nixon gave corruption a bad name. His ravenous paranoia stripped us of our right to have to actually see past the fantasy campaign ads and Super Pack machinations and realize that Citizens United is made-up shit concocted by the dickless to feel important, and do our due diligence as citizens, like ignoring Tipper Gore’s dream of having society parent our children by putting a goddamn sticker on everything. As if a record called “Kill The Cops” needs a warning. Or even merits one, since it is not actually killing cops, just singing about it. And all that awful crap about not being able to burn a piece of cloth because it happens to be designed as an American Flag. Next you’re going to have people suggest Bill O’Reilly shouldn’t be allowed to go on the Today Show and demand every American kid be force-fed Judeo-Christian principles without being smacked with a rubber mallet.

Of course money corrupts the system, just like bad journalism, idiot pundits and kowtowing to the lowest common denominator, which is by far the very essence of this nation’s lasting legacy. Everything can corrupt given the proper circumstances, and sometimes it is welcomed corruption. Lord knows George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Bob Dylan, Salvador Dali, Alice Cooper, Woody Allen, Mark Twain, H.L Mencken, Hunter S. Thompson, Edward Hopper corrupted me, and I am a better man for it.

It’s called free thinking. Try it sometime. Turn off the radio and podcasts and politically manipulated television stations and put down the signs and toss away the cute slogans and corrupt yourself.

Then maybe you won’t be so threatened by everyone else’s corruption.

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RELIGIOUS NONSENSE & THE LAW

Aquarian Weekly
4/2/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion             

RELIGIOUS NONSENSE & THE LAW

I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.
– Muhammad Ali

This week religion has jammed its hefty portion of silly into the ways of reality. Again. Why not? Humans are proficient at propping up fantasy to avoid obeying the law. Lord knows I do.

Firstly, we have the Supreme Court case of Sebelius v Hobby Lobby or some company against the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain, claims that it not only sells knick knacks but stands for Christian values and therefore refuses to adhere to the ACA mandate that it provide contraception to its employees as part of its health plan.

Good one.hobby

Although I admire this craziness, it has no grounds. Religious freedom is not a free pass to discriminate or ignore laws. This was the point of obliterating the egregious Jim Crow horror show which originated in churches in the South and was propagated by Christian organizations like the Klu Klux Klan. It expanded to owners of diners, hotels, gas station etc, all of whom decided that they did not care for civil rights because it jibed with their interpretation of Christian ethics.

The other proposed opposition to the law is contentious objector status, which was broached during President Barack Obama’s visit to the Vatican this week.

This bit of fluff theater was a nifty time to bring up three very political notions expressed by the popular Pope Francis over the past year. One is income inequality, a biggie in the First Century Jesus movement but mostly ignored by the preponderance of Christians worldwide, especially in this country. Two was the call for tolerance of all gender, creed, race and sexual orientation. The last one had many conservatives in the Vatican running for cover assuring the intolerant across the globe that the Holy Church still has their back. And finally, the aforementioned conscientious objector option for those who adhere to church dogma that preaches contraceptive use is equal to abortion and should be banned.

Whew, a lot to get to, so let’s start with conscientious objector.

Claiming conscientious objector status was famously tried in the Supreme Court in 1971 when boxing champion and social activist, Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted by the United States Army during the Viet Nam War on religious grounds. However, although the court ruled in Ali’s favor it did not cite his “conscientious objector” defense, but rather that the United States government had failed to properly specify why Ali’s application had been denied, thereby requiring the conviction to be overturned. In other words, it was an easy unanimous vote due to a technicality, and quite frankly because popular opinion had swung significantly in Ali’s defense due to the abject disaster that was the Viet Nam War, which had heightened considerably since the time Ali was stripped of his title and banned from boxing in 1968.

Shit, there are plenty of religions that believe blood transfusions are against protocol, others cite the evil of surgery, and still others believe photographs steal your soul and leeches are the way to go. But forget religion. That’s small potatoes. Can you imagine if some giant chemical concern decides it wants to break even more laws than it currently does? You think your drinking water is poisoned now?

You see, unlike Hobby Lobby, Ali manned up and took the unfair stripping of his title and languished for years to stand by his principles. He broke the law and paid the price, something this company is trying to avoid.

Hey, no more a sympathetic companion could Hobby Lobby find than this space, but on the grounds that they can pick and choose what laws they want to obey is not realistic, not to mention its lawyer began opening arguments trying to conflate a corporation with the rights of an individual under the constitution. The Civil Rights Act is enough precedent to halt Hobby Lobby denying health care coverage to its workers, specifically women, who have several health-related reasons for needing contraception beyond sexual activity.

But there is no need to bring up religion and sex in the same sentence in this or any lifetime.
Shit, there are plenty of religions that believe blood transfusions are against protocol, others cite the evil of surgery, and still others believe photographs steal your soul and leeches are the way to go. But forget religion. That’s small potatoes. Can you imagine if some giant chemical concern decides it wants to break even more laws than it currently does? You think your drinking water is poisoned now?

Now the idea of income equality is a cute aside, but for the Catholic Church it is a joke. It may be a noble cause espoused by Jesus, who was by for all intents and purposes an egalitarian, which is a fancy philosophical term for socialist, but have you seen the friggin’ Vatican? Bling on bling piled on bling. It’s like Ted Nugent preaching gun control. Please.

When the Vatican strips its jewels and gold and sells it to feed the poor, I’m on board.

Quick question: What Would Jesus Do? Short Answer: Strip the Vatican bare and give everything to the poor.
Never mind the marriage equality thing. No one is asking the Christians to be gung ho, and no one should care. Using religion to discriminate is as old and as dirt. We’ll leave this one alone.

Finally, the most appalling aspect of the week is that Barack Obama met with the leaders of an organization that has perpetuated a century-plus of unchecked and unprosecuted pedophilia; more to the point aided and abetted these acts by shamelessly covering up. A more disgusting display by a president is hard to imagine. Who wants their tax dollars going to this immoral sham?

Come to think of it, maybe it would be a boon if Hobby Lobby won this case, pushing religion into the public sector, then we can start taxing religious freeloaders and get on with the twenty-first century.


Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author

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CRIMEA: THE RUSSIAN SHEEP THEOREM

Aquarian Weekly
3/26/13
REALITY CHECK
James Campion

CRIMEA: THE RUSSIAN SHEEP THEOREM

Take a moment and thank your preferred deity or talisman that John McCain didn’t become president in 2008. Regardless of what you think of this current model, McCain is certifiably insane with aggression and has urged this country to embroil itself in every skirmish, revolution, uprising, civil war and invasion across this globe for the past five plus years. If there were a president McCain, we’d be bloodied, broke and stuck in 14 desperate places on this planet.

I know it is par for the course for Republicans to espouse a “strength in military action” foreign policy, excepting for the fiscally conservative isolationists like my friend Pat Buchanan or the ramblin’ Paul’s (Ron and son Rand) and some of the TEA Party contingent whose sole purpose for breathing is to piss on Obamacare. Even when Ted Cruz comments on Barack Obama’s international weakness, things eventually get around to Obamacare bankrupting the republic. It’s akin to cramming my healthy obsession with Marriage Equality into every argument – “A-Rod was railroaded by the tyrannical Bud Selig machine, not unlike gay Americans….”putin_75

Be that as it may, this latest McCain and his ilk jones to have us stained with Russia’s problems as some kind of “message” to its sociopathic President Vladimir Putin, is once again misguided. I merely refer to Mr. Putin’s mental state based on CIA evaluations which reveal “sociopathic tendencies” as in acute narcissism, fragmented delusions, eating disorders, and what is described in one memo as an uncontrolled urge to perform anal sex with sheep. Putin is obviously not centered, and there have been leaks from inside by incarcerated journalists that Putin has been basing his domestic agenda on telepathic “signs” from an alien god-head/father figure he is convinced raped his mother in late 1951.

At least McCain’s excuse for his brain bubbles is being beaten crippled for five years in a Vietnamese prison during a senseless “police action” that gutted a generation, but now our elected commander-in-chief has been tempted by this goofy backlash to unleash sanctions on Putin for trying to annex neighboring Crimea in response to the Eastern rim of Ukraine going up in flames. Russia’s puppet government in a shambles and the resultant uprising should be no concern of the United States. If Western Europe would like to ante up to protect its interests (oil), or if Putin has arguments over national security (ego), then bully for them.

It is hypocritical for this nation, which has annexed land and propped up puppet regimes and diddled in everyone else’s elected governments for centuries, to be pussyfooting around with the likes of Putin or the mess that is Russia, which is more or less now divided by its own headaches in Syria. Secondly, what is going on in Crimea (along with the nifty shoved-through “special election” that has an occupied province vote to legally join the state of Russia) is perfectly within the parameters of a 21-year agreement passed by the Russian parliament.

A binding 1993 resolution declared the Crimean port of Sevastopol, a Russian city, and by implication Crimea, a Russian province. This is known in the parlance of the damned as “irredentism”, advocacy of the restoration to a country of any territory formerly belonging to it. Britain used this argument in 1812 to disastrous results for its crumbling empire and Saddam Hussein had similar notions in 1990 when he told the world in no uncertain terms that just because a bunch of decrepit Anglos decided to draw lines in the sand to better rape the Middle East, did not mean that Kuwait didn’t still “belong” to the sovereignty of Iraq.

Interestingly, Hussein had a similar taste for farm animals, as did British Prime Minister Lord Liverpool (although historians quibble over what species and gender), and neither ultimately got what they wanted. Although President James Madison, Liverpool’s combatant in 1812, whose deviant proclivities tended towards the abuse of Jimsonweed (it is widely agreed upon by most accounts that Madison was “altered” by it for the original drafting of the Federalist Papers) did make a bold attempt to annex Canada as part of the continuing unchecked slaughter of Native Americans.

None of these damaging historical fuck-ups seemed to bother George H. Bush when he got all McCained up and kicked Hussein out of Kuwait directly leading to the bombings in Ryadh and Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996 respectively, and the al Queda attacks on the Kenyan and Tanzania embassies in 1998, the U.S.S Cole in October of 2000 and eventually the horrors of 9/11/01 in New York City and Washington DC. And, of course, inevitably his son’s senseless “vengeance” war in Iraq in 2003.

That is over an estimated 9,300 U.S. deaths (including the ceaseless Afghani war totals) over a line in the sand.

His country is broke and he fucks sheep. Let the French deal with this crap.

But I digress. Or maybe not. The key here is irredentism, to which the U.S. owes a debt of gratitude for our ripping off California, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Colorado from our neighbors, Mexico (not to mention the bloody fray that got us the vast wasteland of reason called Texas). Lest we forget Alaska, a nifty bit of land grabbing that still pisses many Russian hardliners to this day.

And that brings us full circle back to the evil, horrible, strong-willed Russia and its sheep-fucking tyrant, Putin. Or the leader apparently some wish our befuddled president resembled, which is odd, because I have often wondered if neo-con theorists tended to lean towards bestiality.

But let us not conjure the ghastly image of George W. Bush keeping his little black Scottish Terrier, Barney away from Dick Cheney’s office and concentrate on the difference between being morally offended by the actions of another nation tending to the ugly business of doing what nation’s do and “getting involved”.

Quick Note: Other amateur historians such as myself may be motivated to stupidly argue that this dance with irredentism has an ugly partner called Adolf Hitler (who could not screw farm animals due to his chronic impotence from wetting his pants for most of WWI). Hitler’s claim to most of Eastern Europe as “Germania” was simply made up as an excuse to murder more Jews. Not even a syphilis-ravaged mind as his could have actually believed this bullshit.

Lest we forget the most important point, we suck at war. We’re good at getting into them, but we haven’t done a damn thing worth a shit since D-Day and it’s time we stop acting as if we did. We’ll just do what we always do and outspend everyone in nuclear tonnage and jack around every so often in someone else’s backyard in the guise of “freedom” or “human rights”; even though we ignore the civil rights of gay Americans as we speak. (Take that, Cruz) But lord knows no one wants another decade of this miserable shit.

Putin is weak. He needed to keep Ukraine in line and stop Syria from going sideways, and his Olympics was an abject embarrassment. His country is broke and he fucks sheep. Let the French deal with this crap.

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MY FRIEND…THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK?

Aquarian Weekly
3/12/13
James Campion
REALITY CHECK

MY FRIEND…THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK?

While being a professional colleague of mine for nearly twenty years, during which he has displayed nothing but an enviable commitment to ethics in all forms, Rob Astorino has managed to succeed at the impossible; competing in two vocations replete with soulless bottom-feeding degenerates; journalism and politics, while maintaining an unwavering comportment that is impervious to corruption. Despite this reporter’s repulsive dereliction of scruples and frightening lack of integrity, he has called me friend; as I, him. And as I gracelessly careen towards the half century mark, it is not a term I dare use loosely. Robert is indeed a friend; a true bedrock warrior in the infinite roll call we all must cherish when the karma winds shift in weirdly unpredictable directions.

– Rob Astorino in The Land Of Scum, Reality Check: 10/29/09

My dear friend, Rob Astorino is running for governor of New York State.

No shit.

It’s crazy. He isn’t just a passing professional acquaintance. I’m the godfather to his first born son, Sean. And now, after four years and re-election as Westchester County Executive, he is set to truly become a national political figure.

Not sure how I feel about that.rob_Astorino_75

I have known Rob Astorino since 1991. We were sports reporters in Westchester, New York and thrown together to broadcast local High School sports, mainly men’s football and basketball. We became semi-famous for this. We traveled quite a bit, shared hotel rooms and chatted up all-things. We both hosted sports shows and found ourselves in the employ of snipers, who used our talents for meager pay in trade to get access to Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, etc. Later we would host a pretty peppy sports-talk show on WFAS Radio out of White Plains, where we drove the NY sporting press insane with our flights of fancy in the press box and locker rooms.

These are stories for a book, not a 900-word screed.

Throughout this time, aside from the occasional remark, we did not discuss politics.

Good for him. He steered fairly clear of my acute cocktail of radicalism and spite.

One day, somewhere around 2006, maybe 2007, whilst producing ESPN’S Michael Kay radio show, as we lunched in mid-town Manhattan, he confided in me his wishes to enter politics.

“You’re fucking kidding, I’m sure,” I said, chunks of masticated sandwich tumbling from my gaping maw.

“Nope,” he said, and proceeded to regale me with his wishes to “make a difference” and “protect my family”, the usual nonsense similar lunatics have blurted in a torrent of rationale. But instead of being queered by it, I was truly moved. I figure this poor bastard’s in for it, but for whatever reason, it all made sense. He appeared unerringly sincere. It was one of the few moments in my adult life where I was immediately convinced of someone’s sense of purpose. This happened all the time when I was a kid. Kids believe in stuff. Rob believed.

Despite serious trepidations, I did what I could to assist his campaign for Westchester County Executive, at one point there were serious talks about covering it for a book, but my schedule and his harried existence made it tough. I did manage to crank out a couple of scathing attacks on his opponent, Andrew Spano, a bent curmudgeon of a man, whose main contribution to that 2009 campaign was to spew the bile of the doomed. And, indeed, he was doomed, for on November, 3, at 42 years-old, Astorino was elected.

He served a controversial term taking on the usual union noise, straining to cut budgets and stemming the inevitable tide of rising taxes, all the while making his way within the environs of the schizophrenic Republican Party – its infiltrations, loons, machinations, ups-and-downs – running and winning another term this past November.

But now it’s the big time.

Back around Christmas, as he met with advisors and sent an exploratory crew that deals with the usual pabulum of putting together an endeavor of this size, we spoke in length about his chances, his mental capacity to handle what amounts to two campaigns in as many years (and the mental capacity of his poor family, all of whom wince and writhe, cheer and beam with every step) – one as a favored incumbent, and now once again as the underdog.

“I have this all figured,” he said, as confidently as that first fateful day over regurgitated sandwiches. “Get my head handed to me, and I finish my term as planned, then go back to the private sector, maybe get back into broadcasting, work within the party. I come close, give it a real fight, and maybe build myself as someone who can play on the bigger stage, then weigh my options, or, maybe, just maybe, I will be the next governor of New York.”

It was a big deal to be hearing this, in his kitchen, with our children running around, a few miles from where we broadcasted our first game together decades ago: Rob Astorino, my friend, running for governor of New York.

After four years and re-election as Westchester County Executive, he is set to truly become a national political figure.

I have gotten to know many politicians and musicians, actors, and artists on the grand stage, but there is no one I have known for longer or have been closer to than Rob. And I know, and he knows, where he is headed, and the depths and heights he will travail on both sides of the political aisle. This is a place that I know all too well. Both aisles are rancid.

And so, I’m sure there will be a column or two in there along the way. But without apologizing, it will not be objective – as if anything in reporting or politics ever really is.

Hell, if nothing else, it would be advantageous to my outlaw existence – most of it taking place in NYC – to have a pardon in my back pocket.

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A Songwriter’s Cyber Showcase

Aquarian Weekly
3/12/14

BUZZ Feature

by James Campion

 

A SONGWRITER’S CYBER SHOWCASE
Welcome One & All To Dan Bern’s Cyber Showcase
                              

If you put me in a box, make sure it’s a big box. – Dan Bern “Jerusalem”

“If I was to stage a theme show of my songs, say, around girl’s names; what would you put in there?” Dan Bern asked over Indian buffet near lower Lexington Avenue last September. He had been staying in New York for longer than usual and we made haphazard plans to get together and chat on-and-off the record, take in a film, walk the streets, smoke cigars, and, as Dan likes to say, throw a few back. I did not hesitate to make suggestions from his vast catalogue of material: Of course, “Marylyn” from the first record, Fleeting Days’ “Jane”, “Monica” (about Seles, not Lewinsky), “Sister” – not really a girls’ name, but a beautiful one about his only sibling from 1998’s Fifty Eggs, the stirring, “Estelle”, and suddenly we were off and running.

“Exactly,” he smiled.db

Later, as a collection of unreleased tunes for a planned album filled out the street sounds penetrating his modest suite at a downtown hotel that was framed by crudely beautiful renderings on the walls painted by his four year-old daughter, Lulu, Bern began to build on the idea. “I could see maybe renting out space off-off-Broadway and putting on shows based on song themes; a different one every night.”

There was no arguing that he, more than anyone this side of Randy Newman, could pull it off. For over 20 years now, Dan Bern has been writing songs (along with books, poems, and kid’s stories) with a reckless abandon – some of them even composed on demand for fans to help defray the costs to get this bulging phalanx of tunes out to the public and still others for the films Walk Hard, Get Him To The Greek and friend, Jonathan Demme’s Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains. Pressed to count them all, Bern will first insist he cannot, but will eventually acquiesce with a sighing, “Okay, over a thousand.”

Yup, Bern writes songs like most of us read the paper or peruse the Internet. It is almost a daily routine. He breathes, plays tennis, enjoys a bike ride, loves his family, and writes songs. Since 1997, this prolificacy has resulted in 14 studio albums, two live, five EP’s, a collaborative song-cycle adapted from the letters, essays and poems of the Western folk legend Everett Ruessand, and a collection of children’s songs; the second volume is already done and is brilliant and another country-flavored record is poised.

Suddenly, here was Bern imagining, even scheming a place for this disparate group of melodic brothers and sisters, heroes and despots, celebrations and protestations to go – one place, as if, well, as if a Theme Park.

Bern brought the “theme” idea up again a few weeks before leaving for the West Coast in early December, citing several reoccurring slices-of-life to his canon; pop culture, politics, history, literature, family, tennis, baseball, travel, etc., along with the obvious subjects available to any songwriter; love, loss, protest, and inner revelation.

“My first thought was, ‘That fucking Campion! That’s not in the rules!’ Then I thought,’ Eh, I’ll do it.’”

Once back in L.A., he was inspired by an online concert his friend and sometime collaborator, Mike Viola had hosted on the web site, stageit.com, wherein artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Indigo Girls, Plain White T’s, Jason Mraz, Jimmy Buffet, Sara Barreilles Better Than Ezra, and Ingrid Michaelson, among many others create backstage, in-house podcasts to interact directly with fans. It seemed Stage-It was the perfect vehicle for the “theme” idea, and it did not take Bern long to begin fashioning a one-man show around not only his moving, hilarious and poignantly striking music, but sprinkled with his razor-sharp wit, and officially call it “Theme Park”.

“All of my song subjects are so far afield, and with my songbooks here, I can pretty much pull from everything I’ve ever written and come up with set-lists,” Bern said from his L.A. abode over the phone in mid-February after he had a couple of Theme Park shows under his belt – the first theme, Football, broadcast the week before the Super Bowl included such luminary musical numbers as “Namath, Mantle & Me” (written when he shared a similar knee injury to the ailing stars), “Who Gets Serena?” (an imagined double-date between the Manning brothers and the Williams sisters) and “O.J. Simpson” (you know) and the second, Love, for Valentine’s Day featuring his unique sentimentalities displayed in “Love Makes All the Other Worlds Go Round”, “My Love is Not For Sale” and “I Need You” among others.

“I’m doin’ stuff I wrote this fall mixed with stuff I wrote 20 years ago mixed with stuff people know from the records, and its focused and it feels like a new thing.” Bern says, as he excitedly previewed a third one coming up for President’s Day.

So without much prompting, I had to “tune in” or more to the point, login to see it.

I became a member of Stage-It the day of the show, which was simple using Paypal, and since Bern mentioned more than twice I could “set the price, and in my case, it’s a dime”, I did, but went for broke at an outlandish $2.50. He informed me of the opportunity to “tip” the performer, as if he were playing in a downtown subway.  “I started offering these little perks for top tipper,” said Bern. “For the Super Bowl one I signed a football jersey, and for the Valentine’s one I gave away Henry Miller’s Wisdom of the Heart, and for the Presidents Day show, I painted three presidents, (Lincoln, Nixon, and LBJ) and in honor of the Winter Olympics, I’ll give them to the top three.”

db-2At 9:00 PM Eastern, there was Bern, captured by his MAC camera, nattily attired in a suit and tie (very presidential) and welcoming his audience with a very theme-y Theme Park theme song. Then he immediately launched into a toe-tapping ditty called “Weird Little Thing”, which playfully recites the bizarre coincidences between Lincoln and Kennedy’s time in office (not the least of which both were initially elected 100 years apart, to which Bern lyrically warns whoever is elected in 2060 better keep on his toes).

The humble USB mic did the trick, as the intimacy and immediacy of the performance was striking. I have seen Dan and hundreds of musicians ply their trade in every possible venue, from cramped clubs to upstairs lofts, garages to Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall (including Bern), but this is far different;  personal and interactive. As Bern played, viewers started messaging, the comments floating up on a stream to his right. Interspersing pithy comments, one spot-on imprecision of LBJ, and displaying his original paintings auctioned off to the “top tipper”, Bern was in his element and the fans loved it.

It was during a brief introduction to the next song as having been written as something of a dare that I realized my own request would make the show. As is my tradition, when invited to such ad hoc events, and knowing Bern’s ambitions run deep, I emailed him earlier that day to pen a song about William Henry Harrison, who infamously died 32 days into office from pneumonia thanks to his refusing to wear a coat on a bitterly cold and rainy Inauguration Day. “That kind of story is ripe for a folk song,” I wrote, unsure if even he could pull it off.

Sure enough, he did.

“Hey, a challenge is a challenge,” Bern said when I called to thank him the next morning. “My first thought was, ‘That fucking Campion! That’s not in the rules!’ Then I thought,’ Eh, I’ll do it.’”

Bern rounded out the 50 minute set (it was only scheduled for a half hour) with nine more songs, his haunting introspection of Lee Harvey Oswald in “Marine and Me”, a couple of verses of Tom Waits, “On The Nickel” (“…even Thomas Jefferson is on the nickel over there”), and his 2004 call for candidacy in “President” were the highlights.

Then, just as quickly as he popped up, he was gone.

“It’s weird for me, because when I do this show online, although I’m home and not in a club, I still feel that post-show glaze,” says Bern. “It could really grow into a bi-weekly thing for me, but it’s really the gravy, because if I finish touring and then come home and go a week or two without a show, it’s like arrrrrrrr. And to have something like this to focus me – getting the set together for that show’s theme and then doing the thing, and it’s only seven o’clock and your done – its kinda great.”

The experience, which began percolating in New York a few months back as a kind of local cabaret act, became a reality on the other side of the continent and has suddenly gone global. Some members of the audience were from Greece and all points abroad.

“The theme idea along with wanting to stay focused for 50 minutes of playing has allowed me to get 11 to 15 songs into each show, and by getting my paintings in there and being able to play more often to a larger audience beyond touring, it’s just a cool way to do all the things I like to do, and never leave my house.”

But one wonders when Bern does go back on the road, which he will this spring with dates already set to begin here on the East Coast in March and crisscross back to Los Angeles, before heading to Holland in April and returning for another week of gigs around New York in May, will Theme Park live on?

“Oh, I’m gonna keep doin’ ‘em,” Bern insists. “I can do a Theme Show anywhere, the hotel room or I’ll come out to your place and we’ll do it.”

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THEOLOGY OF SCIENCE‏

Aquarian Weekly
2/26/14
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THEOLOGY OF SCIENCE

To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.
– Charles Darwin

The “what should be” never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no “what should be”, there is only “what is”
– Lenny Bruce

A feral cat is slowly making its way across the frozen tundra of what was once my backyard; its painful strides sucked into a mass of ice and snow becomes a strange ballet. The light gray coat of its hair contrasts drastically against the infinite expanse of white. I cannot turn away from its struggle. It is mesmerizing.

The weather has been brutal here for weeks, maybe months; causing us to become shut-ins at the Clemens Estate. We chose not to brave the elements ala the cat; whose survival I wager is at best a coin flip. Although it has maintained its stride across two hurricanes over the past two years, weird rain squalls and high-shifts of wind, spastic temperature spikes and radical dips. It’s been something of a bizarre ride; certainly odd enough to admit, without any scientific proof, that some weird shit is going down.

Science or fact has a way of nudging the belief factor into oblivion, which believers must avert.

Yet there is a preponderance of facts available on climate change or global warming or inconvenient truths, and while I do not profess to agree or disagree with it, as if one can agree or disagree with two-plus-to-two-equals-four or that gravity exists or that Peyton Manning is most likely to suck in a post season football game, there is something afoot. It is interesting that despite overwhelming scientific data there continues to be a debate on whether humans have or will continue to fuck up the environment.noah

Of course we do.

This is the point of human existence. Like every living organism, we are acutely aware of our environment and possess an insatiable urge to manipulate it for our needs. But unlike other creatures, we see no need to preserve it. We possess a denial chip in our psyches that obliterates what should be an intrinsic sense that our resources are finite and the abuse of them bear consequences. It is not unlike Hitler in the bunker ordering armies that didn’t exist to fend off the Russians.

Because even if we gave a flying fart that we’re destroying the environment, are we really equipped to do anything about it? Or, more to the point; is the will there? Perhaps we do nothing because it’s scary and it seems icky to admit that by simply “being” we are skunking our own playground.

The cat is well on its way to the top of what looks to be a rather large mound of snow – a precarious march; only the frigid temperatures keep the poor thing from sinking into a quagmire of slush.

Speaking of which, I saw a report the other day on an upcoming film on the Biblical story of Noah. According to the commentators, this opus appeared “too dark”, although neither of them had seen it. This got me wondering what part of the Noah story is not dark. Is there something I’m missing – omniscient godhead gets pissed at its creations, hatches a plan to drown them all, and to hedge the bet, gives a head’s up to one of them and tells him just to be safe; “Hey, why not keep two of every species, so they can repopulate the place after this catastrophic hissy fit?”

It’s bedtime material, really.

The same people presupposing this nightmare as some kind of heartwarming episode in human history would likely decry it as a blasphemous harangue on the Almighty if it happened to come out of J.R. Tolkien’s head.

This is the same principle applied to Creationism, which using the same denial concept as ignoring our place in fucking up the planet, has a fairly enormous following among humans – defiantly ignoring decades of applied science and factoids presented to the contrary. This is an interesting balancing act; the concept of believing in something, as opposed to knowing it.

For instance, take racism. Racism is nothing more than a religion or a belief system, a strong conviction in the face of reality. Maybe people a century ago could kind of get away with this nonsense, like many centuries ago people believing the sun revolved around the earth – an earth that is only 6,000 years old due to dogmatic teaching – but now?

We are forced to confront racism simply because we cater to the rationale of the simpleton, like those who still maintain that the worth of a woman in the workplace or her standing in society is a teeny bit less than that of the man or that somehow homosexuals should not be afforded the same rights as those of us who choose to wed the opposite sex. It’s, you know, selective belief with no tangible evidence to back it but conviction.

But I get it. I do. Science or fact has a way of nudging the belief factor into oblivion, which believers must avert. This was the tough crowd Galileo and Darwin had to play.

The other day I sustained a serious head injury and found myself glued to the Bill O’Reilly show. In it, he unfurled a heavily-worded argument about something with not a shred of statistical or empirical evidence to back it up. His reasoning was, I think; “This is what I believe, and the opposite is silly and wrong, period.” Then my head cleared and I turned this idiot off.

You do realize that Pro-Life advocates point to the advancements in technology and science (ultra-sound) to dispel previous theories on human life not existing in some form far earlier than anyone had “believed” even 20 years ago. However, these same types flip the fact-switch to oppose the biological data accrued over the same period, which unequivocally proves that homosexuality is a trait of certain humans, like eye color, and not some kind of choice, as in wearing white after Labor Day.

Ah, that cat is well on its way now; under a tree, breathing hard and staying the course. Wherever it’s going, it looks like it will get there…this time. But what about tomorrow?

Which brings this thing full circle – back to this horror show winter and its massive storms and Western droughts and people stuck in cars for days on an Atlanta byway eating their young.

I am fairly sure we’ve irreparably fucked this planet pretty good and we ain’t gonna stop.

We’re humans. We fuck things up.

This would explain the whole Noah thing.

You’re welcome.

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BUBBA, WASTE MANAGEMENT & PROGENY OF THE WALRUS

Aquarian Weekly
2/19/13
REALITY CHECK

James Campion

Guest Columnist: Tiddal McStevens

BUBBA, WASTE MANAGEMENT & PROGENY OF THE WALRUS

Editor’s Note: After a spate of fruitless haggling, the following was sent to The Reality Check News & Information Desk on the early morning hours of the ninth day of February, 2014. An angry directive from Mr. Campion to “Send to press anything that lunatic McStevens can muster” was soon followed by what appeared to be an onerous series of indecipherable texts purportedly from a golf course out west. Two separate editors then tried to coax Mr. McStevens to “Clean up the text by deadline or a carefully placed call to the Scottsdale Sheriff’s Department would produce the Draconian hellscape that befalls those with brownish skin in Arizona.”

Posting: 2/8/2014

It was two degrees when I booked this trip. A high of twelve was predicted for the following week. That’s Fahrenheit; in case these words are reaching our neighbors to the north. An escape from the cold and a vague promise of badly needed sex excreted me from relatively comfortable inertia.

The promise fizzled, predictably, so you, gentle reader, are left with this: A poorly planned, poorly executed filing for the Reality Check Sports Desk, and a chance for El Capitan to get a week off from abusing the public with his acid pen, and back to quaffing absinthe and screaming at geese.

The entire ordeal was an insult to the word planning. Gary Busey has a better outline for a toddler’s birthday party. Consequently, a few texts smeared on smart phones, and I had suddenly become a cub reporter.

With the remainder of my clothes covered in road salt and desperation, I showed up at the Waste Management Phoenix Open smartly dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and tassel loafers; the décor of choice for the sporting press.stadler40

For those who have better-focused lives, this PGA event in Scottsdale, AZ is the sole affair of the season wherein a modicum of emotion is allowed to be expressed by fans. Normally, these shindigs have all the pallor of a post-medication afternoon bridge match.

I had settled in the vaunted 16th hole, the MMA Octagon of golf, where pudgy retirees holding up “Quiet Please” paddles near the tee box are mostly ignored. Here, attendees are expected to do The Wave. Cheap trinkets are hefted into the stands. My feet were twice flattened by a wheelchair-bound fan clamoring for a set of fake mustaches. Bad shots are loudly booed, even if you are the leader, such as our protagonist Bubba Watson. Hell, a bad Wave is loudly booed. Suddenly, amidst the mayhem, one brave player went all Richard Sherman and exhorted the crowd to turn up the volume. Then he backed it up with what is known in the parlance of the damned as a “birdie”!

Pandemonium!

A white guy shot under par!

With noise!

It’s a bit difficult to attach grittiness to golf professionals. Gleaming Mercedes Benz motorcars are on display at the tournament grounds. Placards next to them proudly announce their usage as courtesy cars for these jocular Brahmins. That’s right: Whilst your salt-covered shitbox is making sounds like it wants to eat its own motor, dozens of bored athletes are oozing about the beauty of the southwest in unctuous Germanic splendor.

Waste Management is a fitting sponsor for this shindig when you consider Arizona has something on their books called the Super Extreme DUI. Pulling over drunks is good sport for the troopers out here; something to consider, as the desert sun pierces your pink, boozy flesh and the tournament grinds to a close.

It was at this point I discovered that not only was I assigned to this “piece”, but I had acquired something called an “editor”. Barely 18 goddamn minutes into “the assignment”, I received three unhinged rantings about “a deadline”, along with veiled threats of physical harm. Suspicions grew that the “editor” was unhealthily enjoying having the tables turned.

There is not much else to discuss in depth on the tournament or regarding the purported leader of it, other than his name is Bubba. But that’s not to say the man isn’t talented. Just a few short years ago, he knocked the sport’s proverbial socks off by winning golf’s Super Bowl, The Masters. And he did so with a shot a major league pitcher might not have been able to throw, much less being hit with a little metal stick.

Such talent was not on display today. Bubba was succeeding about as well me: Great hopes for expectation, failure in execution.
In a reminder of the cruelty of this ruthless game, Bubba threw his 16th tee shot into a sand bunker, made a middling escape of said trap, and did not complete his putt for par. This set up a three-way tie; normally exciting stuff. But by this time I was soused and badly in need of a cheeseburger to stave off a Turbo Mega Ultra charge from the jack-booted thugs waiting for me on the 101 loop.

Normally, these shindigs have all the pallor of a post-medication afternoon bridge match.

The leader rode out of the 16th on a thunderous wave of jeers, as the stands emptied and I wandered among the dumpsters and Benzes wondering what kind of wine I should get after the TSA confiscated my bottle opener, and should I follow the crowd to the next tee box?

So the match was tied, and I was Reality Check’s Man on the Beat. But while pondering my options, Bubba dropped the tournament about ten-feet away, having made a poor approach shot to the 18th hole. Clumsy efforts to record the goings on were shouted down by purple-shirted security staff. The end of the tournament didn’t slow them much, as they kept after me long after the last putt dropped.

Truth is Bubba followed up his gaff with an indifferent putt, which handed the tournament to the Christie-esque Kevin Stadler, resplendent in slimming hot orange and the school boy glee of his first professional win. The portly Stadler is the son of former Masters winner, Craig Stradler, who himself has the well-earned nickname of The Walrus. The third man left behind in this melee? Someone named DeLaet, also itching for his first win. Of course, due to the din of the clamoring fans and ditching security, I was almost too drunk to remember any of it, and was left with nary the energy for a cheap shot against Canadians.

Oh wait: Mayor of Toronto!

McStevens for the win!

So how then did Scottsdale become the Wrestlemania of golf? My guess is the locals tired of making turquoise tchotchkes and burning VWs in the desert whilst calling them “Festivals”. All I know is that I’m in a dusty parking lot staring at the Sonoran moonscape trying to remember what I rented.

I think it was gray.

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