Monday, January 25, 2021

You Don't 'Gotta Hand It to Them'

One of the mainstays of 'Weird Twitter' is a wag going by the handle Dril, who regularly tweets out satirical, sometimes surreal missives. A few years ago, he wrote a satirical tweet regarding one of our nation's current enemies: In this light, I present Josh Hawley's teenage paean to domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh, a letter in a local paper: "Many of the people populating these movements are not radical, right-wing, pro-assault weapons freaks as they were originally stereotyped. Dismissed by the media and treated with disdain by their elected leaders, these citizens come together and form groups that often draw more media fire as anti-government hate gatherings. Feeling alienated from their government and the rest of society, they often become disenchanted and slip into talks of 'conspiracy theories' about how the federal government is out to get them." Mr Hawley's youthful musings on accusations of racism being a function of 'political correctness' is also just as bad as you can imagine. The warning signs were there... Hawley's radical right-wing views were apparent even when he was a teenager, and his stints at Stanford and Yale did nothing to de-radicalize him. A look into his background should have rendered him too politically toxic to succeed in electoral races on any level, but the GOP has become a farrago of conspiracy theorists, seditionists, and fundamentalists... all too comfortable with political violence. He has to be removed from power, his probable role in the January 6th insurrection makes him unfit to serve in Congress.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Ya Know, I Dunno Yano

 I figured that I needed a break from politics and plague today, so I'd put up a music post.  The genesis of this post is the upsetting news that Bastard fave Ryuichi Sakamoto has been diagnosed with his second bout with cancer.  Me being me, this inspired me to listen to a lot of Sakamoto-san's music- solo experimental stuff, soundtrack work,  and his extensive body of work with Yellow Magic Orchestra.  While poking around, I found a cute video of Sakamoto playing a piano duet of Tong Poo (interspersed with a concert performance of the song) with then-wife and YMO bandmate Akiko Yano:


 I'm primarily familiar, by which I mean solely familiar, with Akiko Yano's work with YMO:


 I paused, said to myself, "Ya know, you dunno Yano." Then I decided to rectify this inexcusable gap in my musical knowledge in the best possible way, by starting with her first record... 

Tokyo-born Akiko Yano learned to play the piano at the age of ten and became a jazz pianist and session museum. In 1976, she recorded her first album, Japanese Girl, with the first side being recorded in the US with Little Feat as her backing band. It's a fantastic album, recently released internationally for the first time, a jazz-rock fusion masterpiece with inflections of Japanese folk music, and in the track Tsugaru tsuā, perhaps a touch of Jamaican music (I'm hearing a hint of Monty Alexander in Ms Yano's piano) :


 Here's Funamachi uta Part II, from the first side of the album, with Little Feat backing:


 Oddly enough, Funamachi uta Part I is on the second side of the album, recorded in Japan and featuring more traditional Japanese elements, with backing by musicians including future YMO bandmate Haruomi Hosono on bass:


 The entire album is terrific, a bravura performance by an artist who displayed technical and creative brilliance at the age of twenty-one. 

I've also worked my way through her second album, Iroha Ni Konpeitou, which incorporates more electronic elements in parts, but for the sake of brevity, I will keep this post focused on the first album. There's a wealth of material from Akiko Yano to explore, material for future blog posts. I'm somewhat chagrined that I wasn't familiar with this music, which never made it to the alternative music stations that played YMO, but I've forgiven myself, even congratulated myself for having this musical exploration to look forward to.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

1/6 Was an Inside Job!!!!

The scariest thing I've read all year (which is significant in this second plague year) is the Washington Post item about the Capitol invasion having been planned in advance to a great degree.  Most of the story is, in the vernacular, a no-brainer... groups such as the Oath Keepers and Three-Percenters have long fantasized and 'trained' to fight against government institutions on the local, state, and federal levels.  The true horror of it all hits home when one reads that the invaders had help from 'unspecified' individuals with inside knowledge:

In charging papers, the FBI said that during the Capitol riot, Caldwell received Facebook messages from unspecified senders updating him of the location of lawmakers. When he posted a one-word message, “Inside,” he received exhortations and directions describing tunnels, doors and hallways, the FBI said.

Some messages, according to the FBI, included, “Tom all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3floors down,” and “Go through back house chamber doors facing N left down hallway down steps.” Another message read: “All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas,” the FBI added.

 I'm  not going to publicly speculate about the identity(ies) of these unspecified senders, but I have my suspicions.  I'm sure the DoJ and FBI have the information they need in order to bring these persons to justice.  I will say, though, that I would not be surprised if a handful of Republican members of Congress are going to be in, expressed in formal legal terms, Deep Doo Doo.  If they aren't charged with sedition and removed from office, the whole country will be in Deep Doo Doo.

Post title taken from this soon-to-be-twenty-year-old trope.

Friday, January 22, 2021

COVID Comes Close

Today has been... let's say it's not been ideal.  I received a text message from a good friend, a former landlord/housemate from back in the day when I lived in a 'beach house without an ocean' twenty years ago.  He's also the captain of our bar trivia team, from the Before Times.  He tested positive for COVID earlier this week.  I'm not too worried, he's the kind of guy who's run numerous marathons, so his base level of health and fitness is extraordinary.

Soon after, my upstairs neighbor informed me that she and the kids tested positive.  Again, she's run marathons and triathlons, so I think she'll be okay. Likewise, the kids are athletic.  

Thankfully,  my friends have been able to do their grocery shopping online, so they are well-provisioned.  I offered to run errands for them if needed.  In the meantime, I think I might have to go full hermit mode.  I spoke to my mom earlier this week, and she told me that she called her county health department in northern Virginia and that, even at the age of 79, she will probably have to wait until June for a vaccine.  That doesn't give me confidence that I will be eligible for a good, long time.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Impeach Sleepy Joe!!!

As soon as Joe Biden been sworn in as President of the United States, one of the looniest of the Republican newcomers in the House of Representatives has filed articles of impeachment based on, get this, his actions as President Obama's Vice President, over eight years ago:

“President Joe Biden is unfit to hold the office of the Presidency. His pattern of abuse of power as President Obama’s Vice President is lengthy and disturbing.  President Biden residing in the White House is a threat to national security and he must be immediately impeached.”

The Republicans being a minority in the House, her articles of impeachment are a non-starter.   Marjorie Taylor Greene (R- QAnon) knows that Biden won't be impeached, so this stunt seems like clout chasing among the Trump dead-enders.  The articles aren't even part of a genuine impeachment effort, merely a performative trick.

The best thing about Greene's statement regarding her articles of impeachment is her set of accusations against Hunter Biden, who I don't recall being an elected official.  These are particularly humorous in light of Trump naming his daughter and son-in-law as advisors:

Dragging the president's children into an impeachment proceeding doesn't seem to be a smart move while Trump's impeachment is ongoing.  If Greene were really smart, she would impeach Hunter Biden's massive dong, basically playing the GOP's greatest hits.  Every generation of Republicans needs a Democratic penis to threaten it, and Marjorie Taylor Greene is just the Republican to take the mantle from Ken Starr.  If she demands that Sleepy Joe drop his drawers to show what he's packing, we might have to change his moniker to Mighty Joe Hung.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Sleepy Joe's a Dream

 I'm a judo player, and our platonic ideal is to use the energy of our opponents' attacks against them in order to defeat them.  It is in this spirit that I have wholeheartedly embraced the 'Sleepy Joe' moniker for President Joe Biden... we will all be sleeping better with an adult in charge of the executive branch.  

I was all-in for Elizabeth Warren in the primary, seeing Joe Biden as too much of a centrist for me, but I think today's Joe Biden is a better man than 1980 Joe Biden or even 2012 Joe Biden.  To crib a line from the Good Professor, Joe Biden has suffered incredible bereavement throughout his life... His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom.  I believe that the Joe Biden who swore the oath of office today is wiser than those previous incarnations.

Joe Biden's ascent to the Presidency is an ascent to country wracked by the American Carnage that his ignominious predecessor spoke of, and subsequently created.  Even before he was sworn in, Biden's attendance at a COVID-19 memorial service signaled his empathy and capacity for compassion.  He will be burdened with the national pandemic response, a disaster that he inherits from an incompetent, corrupt scoundrel, and I personally don't see a turnaround in the bad situation for another six months or so... but he WILL respond.

Watching the inauguration ceremony, I was relieved to see that people with normal human emotions, empathy and camaraderie, had replaced an individual motivated purely by greed and grievance.  Kamala Harris, a transformative figure as the first female, African-American, and Asian-American Vice President, radiated joy.  Joe Biden himself delivered a much-needed call for unity (I expect that he will task his underlings in the DoJ to do the requisite ass-kicking):

But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us.
On "We the People" who seek a more perfect Union. This is a great nation and we are a good people.
Over the centuries through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we have come so far. But we still have far to go.  We will press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility. Much to repair. Much to restore. Much to heal. Much to build. And much to gain. 
Even more importantly, President Biden is demonstrating his commitment to a progressive agenda with his executive orders rejoining the Paris climate accords, aggressively responding to the COVID pandemic, rejoining the World Health Organization, extending moratoria on evictions and foreclosures, reversing the travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, reining in oil and gas extraction at national monuments, working for racial equity in federal programs, committing to giving the 'Dreamers' a pathway to citizenship, and other policies that appeal to the more progressive members of the Democratic Party.  Today's Biden looks to me to be a changed man, much more liberal than the senator from business-friendly Delaware.

It's up to us to keep the pressure on the Democrats, to better reflect values of the progressive electorate that put them in the seats of power.  We need to force Sleepy Joe to be a dream for us, even if it means he is a nightmare to others... such as these creeps.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Last Days of Dicko

We're in the home stretch as a nation, with Vulgarmort passing his last night in the White House, and CNN reports that he is bitter and aggrieved... well, moreso than usual.  Trump has been in a state of rage ever since the failed coup at the Capitol on January 6th, as his staff deserted him.  As a final rebuke, apparently, nobody wants to attend his farewell ceremony tomorrow morning... why would anyone want to see a traitor and, in Trump parlance, a loser, take his final Walk of Shame?

It's clear that Trump has been the worst president in US history (a year ago, I would have said that Dubya was worse, having started unnecessary wars that killed millions), but 2020 saw the nadir of American presidentin', marked by mass death, authoritarian proclamations, and a mob attack on the bedrock of our democratic institutions.   

In his farewell speech, Trump listed a bunch of fake accomplishments, but his true legacy will be a half-million dead Americans and a failed coup by a bunch of racist whackaloons.  Even Trump's vaunted economic accomplishments are BS, as the unemployment rate rose dramatically because of his incompetent pandemic response.

I always pictured Trump's last days in office like the ending of Werner Herzog's gorgeous horror film Aguirre: The Wrath of God, with  Trump playing the role of a bloated, partially melted Klaus Kinski (Trump even calls to mind the incest subtext of the film).  The private meltdowns must be rather grotesque.  It's the last days of dicko, and all that's left now is for him to dance off into a senescence marked by derision and despond:



Post title taken from this dramedy, which I confess I've never seen.