Sunday, January 6, 2008

My thoughts after watching the New Hampshire Debates and then reading public response posts on Facebook

I'm going to try to keep this short and bitter. America, wake the fuck up! When are you going to learn that the real threat to our happiness and security does not come from militant Islamic extremists with unpronounceable names. No, the real evil-doers live right here, lying poolside at their mansions, jetting around in their private planes and treating politicians to gift baskets, cocktails and golf vacations to make sure that bills in their favor get lubed down and slide right through the house and senate quicker than you can say "tax break" (or "tax evasion" -- take your pick). Are we really that dumb? Have we all lost our fucking minds? Would we rather elect someone spouting some nonsense about "Keeping America the biggest and baddest nation on the planet" or someone who will actually tangibly improve our quality of life by providing: 1) universal health care 2) an affordable college education 3) improved public school education 4) more jobs 5) less dependence on oil (foreign AND domestic) 6) laws to slow the effects of global warming.

Nope, guess not. We'd rather have the bigger guns and the bigger egos whilst we flush away our civil liberties and our paychecks on high interest rates, health care costs and ridiculous college tuition fees. Well done, America!

That said, VOTE EDWARDS! He may not be a dazzling orator like Obama or a git-r-done bulldozer like Hilary, but his populist heart is in the right place and he's the Frodo Baggins of the bunch -- the least likely to cave to the corrupting lure of the corporations and their big dollar donations. When he said that, as president, he was going to ban corporate lobbyists from the White House, I got absolutely giddy with hope. YES! Now that's a man after my own socialist heart.

And ABC, shame on you for making up rules that excluded Dennis Kucinich from the discourse. His voice was sorely missed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Top 5 Movies with Ominous Rabbits

5. Bunnicula

4. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

3. Sexy Beast

2. Donnie Darko

1. Monty Python’s Holy Grail

After a shamefully long absence, this is all I have to offer you.

My apologies.

The ginormous rabbit pictured here is 100% real, by the way.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Digging a Pony with St. Vincent

Everyone knows that I'm currently in love with Annie Clark (a.k.a St. Vincent), so it shouldn't surprise you that I'm posting this Black Cab Sessions video of her performing a cover of the Beatles' "Dig a Pony." For those of you unfamiliar with these sessions, these folks get artists/bands to perform songs while sitting in the back of a moving London taxicab.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ritter & Rhine

Two recent (and interesting) artist interviews to report: Over the Rhine & Josh Ritter.

Over the Rhine is a husband and wife duo who I interviewed backstage at Hollywood's Knitting Factory. Hadn't heard much of their music beforehand, but I have to say that I found their latest effort, The Trumpet Child, an impressive array of tunes. The record moves deftly from country to folk to jazz--a delightful sampling of wholesome Americana goodness. And Karen Berqhuist's voice is absolutely divine. The podcast interview will be available to stream in the near future on

Josh Ritter (not to be confused with Josh Rouse or John Ritter) is a pretty damn good acoustic guitar-toting, folk-pop singer/songwriter who (in my mind, at least) somehow manages to stick out among the endless sea of them at the minute. I talked to Josh via phone and below is an excerpt. Of course, I had to engage him in a conversation about books because, well, I'm geeky that way:

You toured with Joan Baez, who then recorded your song “Wings.” How did it feel to have someone like her pay you such a compliment?
It’s always the ultimate compliment when anybody covers your song, no matter who it is. It just means so much that they commit your work to tape, you know? I know how that is because when I cover somebody’s song in a show it’s a compliment to their songwriting and I think it’s a really big compliment. So I take it as a huge one when somebody else does it (with my songs), especially someone like her who’s seen it all and done it all. It went a long ways towards convincing my parents that I could do this for a living (laughs). They’re the biggest record label, your family.

Wow. So that’s what it took to convince them that you could quit your day job?

I think it allayed their fears a little bit. They’ve always been really supportive, but I can imagine if my kid was out doing this I’d be freaked out too.

Your songs are filled with numerous literary, Biblical & historical allusions. You must be an avid reader.

What’s the last book you read?
I just read The Most Famous Man in America which is the biography of Henry Ward Beecher (a 19th century preacher). It just won the Pulitzer Prize and it’s about one of America’s great entertainment industries, which are preachers (laughs). And it’s basically about the roots of Evangelical Christianity and the real, kind of, rock ‘n’ roll preachers from (Beecher) all the way down the line to Billy Graham and some of those new guys who are coming. It’s kind of the melding of the Bible and the dollar. It’s pretty interesting. He was a major force in the abolition of slavery. Really interesting guy.

Do you think there’s a lot that a musician can learn from preachers?

It’s really interesting. There are so many corollaries, you know, because at that point there was sort of a vaudeville sort of scene. And that was just starting up in New York and in a lot of ways the large, organized entertainment industry relies on transportation. At that point, the steamboat was giving way to the railroad and that was a major turning point—that somebody could go on a tour. The first real world tour of entertainment was Mark Twain in the late 1890s and it was only because there were all these different transportation forms that allowed them to go to all these places. There was also a media that was burgeoning. Like telegraph and good printing presses that could work fast so that you could have newspapers and fast traveling news. That’s all stuff that we see repercussions of now. So, yeah, there’s a lot that you can learn from all sorts of stuff. I always think it’s weird how people always just ask about…They ask about influences, you know, I do get influenced by music but I’d say far more by other stuff. It’s cool to just pick up a book and find out something that you just wouldn’t have thought of.

For the entire interview, visit

My McWedding

Believe the rumors. Yes, Dane and I tied the knot, and true to our characters, the event was surrounded by as little hoopla as possible. In fact, we never even left the car.

For a detailed account of our Las Vegas drive-thru ceremony, check out the article I wrote for

Friday, September 21, 2007

Smell this marriage and tell me if it’s gone bad

Thank heaven for maverick politicians in office! Those rabble-rousers who challenge staid ideas and majority opinion based upon moldy, antiquated values.

Enter sexy Gabriele Pauli (pictured here), Germany’s latex clad politician who is petitioning that marriages should not necessarily last "til death do couples part"-- but that the union should be issued an expiration date. According to Pauli “The basic approach [to marriage] is wrong…many marriages last just because people believe they are safe…My suggestion is that marriages expire after seven years." After said amount of time (when the so-called "7 Year itch" might begin to creep under the couple's skin) Pauli suggests that the husband and wife can choose to either terminate the union or petition for an extension.

Of course, the idea has elicited outrage from Germany’s right wing Christian Social Union (CSU) who say that Pauli (herself a Christian) is “diametrically contradicting our Christian, ethical values."

Pauli stands behind her suggestion and claims that it is “about bringing ideas into the CSU and starting a discussion." God forbid that any new ideas be brought into a tried and true forum presided over by dogmatic tradition!

More power to you Pauli! But of course if it were up to me, the government nor the public would have any place within the romantic union of two people—and neither laws nor society should favor a “government-blessed” union over one that hasn’t been made legal and filed away in Uncle Sam’s dusty cabinet.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Divine Deadbeat

Just for the hell of it, let’s briefly attribute the characteristics of the Judeo Christian “Heavenly Father” to a hypothetical earthly father and examine how his parenting skills might stand up against society’s generally agreed upon expectations of fatherhood.

I’ll put the literal characteristics of omnipotence and omniscience aside, since I’m only concerned with the aspects pertaining to the personal relationship this fictional dad would share with his children. In the place of the two “omnis,” let’s just say that this dad is recognized worldwide as both an intellectual, moral and virile giant. Suppose you were the child of such a man who was known and admired on a large scale and approached daily by a vast number of supplicants hoping that he share with them just a little bit of his wisdom. You’d probably be awed, proud and fortunate to have been “chosen” by fate as one of his progeny—having expended no real effort of your own to be one of the chosen.

You also realize that you are one of many children, and though he claims to love you (his statement of love was indirect—you’ve heard it told that he loves "all his children"), you’ve never actual met the man yourself, as he’d left you long before you were born in order to continue with his humanitarian work (adopting more children of course). So although he cannot enfold you in his arms (or chooses not to, perhaps to avoid spoiling you or showing you any special favor) like you’d wish for him to, he instead efficiently sends off a mass email to his children—the only tangible child support he provides. This email, not even written with his own hand but dictated to one of his many office assistants, supposedly contains all the love and guidance you should possibly need in order to grow into a thoughtful, caring human being modeled after none other than he himself—and perfectly equipped to withstand all temptation to become anything less.

As to be expected, you might become lonely or rebel out of sheer frustration at having been given pages of strange, ambiguous commands, figurative promises, poetic verses and symbolic tales (the meanings of which none of your siblings can agree upon, causing strife among your own family)—instead of enjoying a physically present father who you can count on to assure you at your most vulnerable moments: “Don’t you worry. I’m here and I’m real and I’m taking care of you.”

You might even doubt his existence at all, or if he does exist, whether he really cares about you. I mean, he’s never around and it always takes a great deal of effort on your part to imagine let alone invoke his non-physical presence whenever you need encouragement or comforting in times of pain. When you hear a voice in your head that you think might be his, you wonder whether this is actually the voice of your own selfish desires masquerading as his. Doubt leads to guilt which leads to frustration and/or disobedience—and the “backsliding” guilt cycle begins anew.

So what keeps you believing in him? Well, you are constantly reminded of his Great Sacrifice for starters, and you don’t want to appear ungrateful. The great sacrifice being that before you were even born, he’d saved you from a life of unbearable torture by sacrificing his first born son—who was an exact replica of himself, and therefore his favorite. Never mind figuring out the mechanics of how he gave up his son in order to save you and the rest of his progeny from suffering. For the sake of sustaining this analogy, let’s just say that this is the case: He allowed his favorite son—a being more superior and righteous than your sorry ass could ever hope to be—die in your stead. In fact, this son died willingly in your place! This, I’m sure caused your father a huge amount of pain and this was reason enough to love him “with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind” as well as his first born son who, strangely enough, is not your brother but another manifestation of your father. You find this concept extremely difficult to grasp, but you accept it on no other evidence save your father’s word. Because—as the classic inarguable proof goes—he told you so.

Also, there are the consequences to consider. It turns out that his mass email also happened to be a meeting request that you are required to respond to, as you haven’t yet fully dodged the bullet from which your father’s first born son (your father in another form) saved you from. Nope, in order to do so you must actually meet with the son (in spirit, of course) and acknowledge his sacrifice. The son’s desire for recognition doesn’t exactly strike you as being the noblest of qualities, but oh well. Who are you to pass judgement? You didn’t die for anyone.

So…do you (A) accept the invitation and therefore acknowledge the gift of his sacrificed son and, in doing so, accept on faith that your father does in fact love you based upon that sacrifice? (B) Do you read the email and, out of apathy, laziness or indecision do nothing, which, according to your father’s logic is worse than not having known about its contents at all. Or, (C) do you reject the invitation out of rebellion or sheer disbelief? Any other action besides (A) would not only separate you from your father’s presence entirely, but require him to “lovingly” send you to a torture chamber where you will spend the rest of your life enduring unspeakable suffering!

What it all comes down to is the following. Could you love a man who brought you into a cruel world without your consent; left you physically alone to fend for yourself; never told you directly that he loves you; leaves you a long message of questionable accuracy that describes a grand sacrifice made on your behalf; asks you to accept him of your own “free will,” though there really isn’t a choice to speak of, as the alternative (hellfire and damnation) ain’t so great; and who, ultimately, requires from you an inordinate level of suspended disbelief, faith in the unseen, reliance on emotion over reason, and that you pledge him an unwavering devotion just so that one day you may finally, FINALLY be able to earn the right to be in his presence?