Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Too Wiki by half: This seems just a little too clever.
What is allows political party members -- the voters
themselves -- to determine the agenda or platform
of a political party, establishing a non-binding form of democracy at the issue
or plank
level rather than simply at the candidate level.

Who can

During the testing phase (which is now), only registered voters in
California are allowed to use

How do I

There are two primary ways to participate: (I) review the planks
that have been suggested for inclusion in your political party's platform and
take a position -- ratify, oppose, or abstain -- on these planks; (II) propose
new planks for your party's platform.

There's more to read, but it doesn't look like there's any participation yet. And that's probably a good thing. Can you imagine the violence that could ensue in trying to pass any plank in the Libertarian Party platform?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day Movies: I caught parts of some excellent war movies this past weekend, including a couple I hadn't seen yet. In "honor" of Memorial Day then, here are my top 7 (too lazy for 10) war movies/series (not in order of preference -- hard to compare apples to oranges in some instances):

1. A Bridge Too Far -- what a cast; great realism; displays Operation Market Garden from various perspectives and shows the good guys losing, which was a nice touch, artistically speaking.

2. A Band of Brothers -- HBO mini-series that moved me to tears. Based on the Stephen Ambrose book, this series takes us from training camp for a bunch of new Army paratroopers (Easy Company), through D-Day, Battle of the Bulge and ultimately through Berchtesgarten, and then peace. Really engrossing, and told at a nice pace due to its multi-episode sequencing. Bonus is the extra episode involving interviews with some of the real soldiers involved, including the beloved Major Winters. Bonus for me: I met two of the soldiers who live in the Philadelphia area.

3. The Great Escape: It's the anti-Bridge Too Far -- cartoonish, coy, with some god-awful stereotyping, but what fun to watch! The music was outstanding, and while it bordered on Hogan's Heroes at points, you were always interested in what would happen next. A classic.

4. The Caine Mutiny: Great movie that nearly lived up to the book's promise. Interesting tidbit on IMDB about how the movie wasn't going to be endorsed by the Navy, which would have made the movie nigh-impossible, so a compromise was reached -- the film would start by noting that no actual mutiny has been recorded in the U.S. Navy's history. Anyway, it's all about the psychology of leadership and when to challenge that leadership. Bogie at his finest.

5. Das Boot: The anti-war movie to end all anti-war movies. Dark, claustrophobic, paranoid -- these are just a few adjectives to get you going. Nowhere is a captain more independent than on a submarine -- or more isolated. The Nazi party-line is not so strict when you're being depth-charged for the 20th time. Wonderful direction.

6. All Quiet on the Western Front: Released in 1930, this was the first truly "cinematic" war movie -- and a more horrible subject could not be envisioned at the time. WWI was well known for the atrocities of the trench, and this movie does not spare the audience. Parts of it seem dated, while others seem like they could be part of any "big" movie today. We don't see much on WWI (with bookends like the Civil War and WWII, one can imagine why), but this is worth a view.

7. Platoon: I'm sure many will howl over this selection, but say what you will about Oliver Stone, in this film, his "trust no one" attitude is well served. Charlie Sheen actually showed some promise as a young actor - sad to see that promise turn into ridicule, but a great score and some unflinching camera work sucks you in. If it's on, I'm watching it.

Honorable Mentions: Patton (just not a huge fan of Scott, but it's a great bit of acting no doubt); Schindler's List (less of a war movie really, but unflinching and a film that needed to be made); MASH (for obvious reasons); Lifeboat (a Hitchcock gem -- another psychological examination of humans under the stresses of war, both political and personal).

Didn't See: So I don't get totally reamed, I did not see, and therefore cannot comment on such notables as: Paths of Glory (Kubrick); Stalag 17; Breaker Morant; or Lawrence of Arabia (I know, I know....)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Speaking of . . . our neighbors to the south, I think I've spouted off on immigration here before, so I won't do the whole song and dance (i.e., let labor cross borders just like capital). I'll just say this about Vicente Fox: he embodies the notion of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" wonderfully. Remember when his election caused a wave of optimism, that finally the corrupt old PRI was swept out of office, and a new generation would take over Mexico, build an economy, and stop using the porous US border as an economic crutch? Well, it's business as usual again.
Kicking off a three-day, three-state tour, Mexican President Vicente Fox on Tuesday stressed the need for greater cooperation between his country and the U.S. on such things as trade, energy and security. Left unmentioned was the hot topic of illegal immigration.
That's right, Sr. Fox managed to skip the topic that's giving America convulsions now. Mostly because we're about to hand him a sweet, sweet deal to make millions of his citizens our citizens. He's caught on to all the old tricks of his predecessors, selling US-Mexican "cooperation" that saves him the trouble of doing all that reforming he talked about.

Like I said, I'm all for well-regulated immigration, even lots of it. I'd like to see the Mexican border run like the Canadian border (only with fewer Canadians), with a relatively free flow of people and investment. But we can never truly have that kind of relationship as long as Mexico pushes off the troublesome sacrifices (like giving up blatant, wholesale graft at all levels of government) that building a real economy would require.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The economics of immigration: And why Razor is a "hotheaded, conservative populist." Oh, okay, not really. I admit there's a worthwhile distinction between illegal and legal immigration, which seems to be Razor's gripe. Do it legally and we've got no problem, sneak in and skirt the law and taxes, and woe betide all ye dusky heathen. But Larry Kudlow at NRO makes a good argument that a lot of people need to cool down on the immigration debate.
Wage differentials between Mexico and the U.S. are huge — largely because of Mexico’s failure to liberalize its economy. So, as long as American job opportunities and higher wages beckon, immigrants in search of a better life will stream northward into the U.S. — fence or no fence. This has always been the heart of the problem.


Due to the demographic shift being caused by the baby boomers, the ratio of working-age persons in the U.S. to retirees aged 65 and over will drop like a stone from the current 4.7:1 ratio to 3.5:1 by 2030, and 2.6:1 by 2040. With the Social Security and Medicare trust funds going bankrupt, how will we manage with so few workers per retiree? Will we let our whole economy stagnate like France, Germany, Italy, or even Japan? All of these countries suffer from shrinking workforces and top-heavy government taxation.

Well, the U.S. could maintain a 4:1 ratio of workers to retirees by admitting an additional 57.5 million workers over the next nineteen years, according to analyst William Kucewicz. This would result in an average annual population increase of less than 1 percent and a total of only 16.4 percent more than the 350 million projected by the Census Bureau for 2025.

I've got a couple points, although I generally agree with his viewpoint. One, these immigrants need to be legal in order for us to collect the taxes needed to make the math work. Two, doesn't this say a lot about the hole we've dug ourselves in the arena of entitlement spending?

Immigration policy needs serious reform, and I don't think fences and guard troops are the way to go, but if it's helps set the stage for making legal immigration more efficient, then it's a tolerable step.

Lastly, it's tough being stuck between smart guys like Robert Samuelson and Larry Kudlow, especially since it's not very often they disagree. Maybe I just side with Kudlow because he's the better dresser.

NOLA mayor election: Will Collier has a good take on the re-election of Mayor Ray Nagin. I don't know quite what I think, except that I saw a debate on MSNBC between the two candidates either Thursday or Friday night and Mitch Landrieu's entire pitch consisted of "Vote for me, I'm connected." Which in the bayou means nothing good, so I'm glad they rejected his cynical, stupid plea.

Nagin was elected as a reformer, a no nonsense business oriented Democrat who spoke the plain truth. I probably would have voted for him the first time, at least if my other option was Marc Morial, the former mayor. But there's a difference between being plain spoken and showing your ass on national tv, when the last thing that was needed was heated tempers. And his ensuing re-election campaign consisted of some pretty undignified race baiting, since he knew he'd need the black vote to have any chance. I think he would have gotten the black vote anyway, being the only black candidate (remember, the first time he won it was against the also-black Morial).

With two bad candidates to choose from, maybe New Orleans took the least bad path. But I don't think it's going to make recovery any easier or more complete, either physically or socially.

Friday, May 19, 2006

New Yorker cartoon: Via Radley.

My Enron Prediction: I have spent not a small amount of time familiarizing myself with the Enron debacle. I've read two books, including the excellently researched, although not tremendously written "Conspiracy of Fools", read the opening statements and the closing arguments of both the prosecution and the defense, plus a litany of actual and summarized testimony. I've tried to stay away from the talking heads as much as possible, except for those attorneys critiquing the performance of the lawyers (professional curiosity and all). After all this, I have several general opinions as to both the rise and fall of Enron, as well as the persons of Lay and Skilling:

1. Enron was a tremendous energy trading and facilitating company;

2. That went too far afield in trying to expand its business into untested and unfamiliar areas such as broadband;

3. Ken Lay was once a very innovative and creative businessman, who started Enron onto its road to success;

4. Who ultimately became more interested in the trappings of being an "ambassador" for Enron who met with politicians of various nations, and left the day-to-day operations to people like;

5. Jeff Skilling. He was a brilliant idea man, who pushed the envelope, finding new ways to say yes, rather than no. He engendered tremendous loyalty and picked smart people to help develop new business models for an energy company.

6. However, Skilling was ill-suited to the CEO role. He did not have a good nose for business-qua-business. He didn't want to worry so much about how to book revenue, value assets or worry over taxation, except to the extent that it was helpful in doing more deals.

7. The shift from hard assets and pure trading to deal-making (buying, selling, merging) ultimately led to Enron into a death spiral as it had to come up with new deals to make earnings (as it booked the entire value of a long-term deal immediately, rather than pro-rating it over time) --- this lead to tremendous end-of-year pressure to "creatively" find ways to keep beating the numbers.

8. Enron was a culture of me-first careerists, who were ranked on a punishing merit chart, which mandated that only 1/5 of the employees could be considered "the best" -- basically, failure for many was pre-ordained. Moreover, people were afraid, ultimately, to say no, even though Skilling didn't think that was the case.

9. Enron was failed by its accountants and lawyers who rather than advising caution at times, chose to value their income stream over prudent counseling. It's not clear that they encouraged fraud, but rather, they failed to often consider the long-term effects of their short-term advice.

10. Fastow, Kopper et ux. robbed the place blind, but not without a degree of head-in-the-sand attitude from those above and around them. The "Special Purpose Entities" were ultimately pie-in-the-sky fictions that no one at Enron cared to look at too closely for fear of what they might find.

11. Skilling and Lay both loved Enron and its employees, and the proof is that both kept the vast majority of their liquid wealth in Enron stock even until the end.

12. That said, they both were coy and at times quite misleading as to the financial truth of Enron as an objective observer would have seen things, not as an insider, who was drinking the Kool-Aid, was seeing things. They downplayed the major losses, and over-promoted the minor or phantom gains.

13. The company failed in part due to absolute lack of market confidence, the spectre of SEC and DOJ indictments, and credit downgrade. The rest was self-inflicted in one form or the other.

My Best Guess: Lay walks, Skilling gets indicted on a handful of counts (the indictment, by the way, is woefully inaccurate, overreaching, and inartfully drafted). There seems to be very little directly linking Lay to any willful or "blind eye" fraudulent acts. He mostly relied on others to tell him what the picture was and then to report it. He made some very hard decisions at the end to expose many of the losses, even when he had the chance to keep them hidden. He had 90% of his wealth in Enron stock -- hardly the acts of a master criminal intent on getting out rich. Skilling was more hands-on, he helped create many of the questionable practices at Enron, and although I sincerely believe that he sincerely believed in the health and righteousness of Enron, he by that time, was lost to the siren call of more deals, more power, more, more, more.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

How do you tell people to stay away?: I mean sure, if you're Eno, you just stop showering for a couple of days. That, when combined with his usual chipper demeanor is enough for most instances.

But what if you're warning people 5,000 years into the future to stay away from a place where you've buried radioactive waste, which is going to be deadly for another 5,000 years from even then? What sort of message do you want to convey, and how do you communicate it?

Well, fortunately some smart people are considering this idea. This panel of smart people came up with the following general themes they wanted to get across:

This place is a message… and part of a system of messages… pay attention to it!

Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

This place is not a place of honor…no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here.

What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.

The danger is in a particular location… it increases toward a center… the center of danger is here… of a particular size and shape, and below us.

The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.

The danger is to the body, and it can kill.

The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.

The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

Read the article to see how they're considering going about doing it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On toxicity and dosage: Feed a mouse an Apple that was grown with chemical fertilizers and he'll be just fine. Maybe he'll be 0.7% more likely to develop a brain tumor in the next 20 years, but it's a pretty tough sell.

Feed a mouse enough Alar to simulate eating about 100 of those apples a day and he's gonna develop some nasty conditions. And Meryl Streep will never leave us alone.

The toxicity is relative to the dosage, whether its chemicals, twinkies, video games, taxes or...wait for it...immigration.

Bruce Bartlett argues similarly at NRO today, using salt in his analogy instead of apple juice, and its a worthwhile point, even if, intelectually, everyone already gets it. After all, noone is proposing we cut off immigration entirely, or that illegal immigration can be eliminated (although I haven't listened to Pat Buchanan lately), or that we should let 2/3 of Mexico just move right in and get comfy. We all know that there is a middle ground, but there's a hell of a lot of difference on where that spot is. Tom Tancredo and George W. Bush are quite a ways apart, as are, probably, Nancy Pelosi and Bush (although, to be fair, I can't tell where right and left start and stop on this issue, so maybe Pelosi wrote half of Bush's speech Monday). And I don't see anything wrong with spirited negotiation on where that ground is and how to bes achieve it. That's how this is supposed to work, right.

But I am vexed, and I suspect Bartlett is at least partially moved to make his case by, the level of discourse in some arguments on both sides. It's tough to treat this issue dispassionately, but at the end of the day it's all about the costs incurred at various immigration levels, both legal and not. And there are economic costs either way, to be sure. Robert Samuelson points out some of those costs today. Bartlett points out others, like the cost of lettuce going up to the point where we're keeping the rabbits out with IUDs. Who wants that?

But imbuing any of those costs with a certain morality or fairness is no help at all. We should set the levels of immigration, and enforcement, where they will help to minimize costs and maximize benfits on either side. In short, I don't mind if domestic workers take the shaft a little bit if turning a blind eye to SOME illegal immigration is overall better for us. I'm sure the border patrol is understaffed, but I'm not okay with giving them a blank check or with sending a bunch of guard troops to Texas to stop every Jose sixpack from coming across the border. It's expensive, dangerous and I think makes us look weak. Israel needed a wall because Palestinians were coming in three a day to have a slice of pizza and blow themselves up for dessert. We don't need a wall to keep out illegal immigrants who want to cut our grass because the costs, while very real, are not that great or are offset by gains elsewhere that we'd lose.

Or maybe I'm wrong about that, but if you want me to change my mind don't asinine arguments about compassion or fairness. I am a big rock when it comes to policy and it takes big numbers to move me.

A Deck Chair Speaks ... Then Weeps: Tony Snow gave his first official conference (not to be confused with the May 12 "gaggle") and he proved once and for all that he's a much better actor than McClellan or Ari ever were.

And no, I don't mean his pretending the NSA is not spying on American citizens. No, it was his emotional crying fit at the end when mentioning his health and remembering his mother's death from colon cancer. Puh-lease, Ton-loc, is this the start of a trend for you? Ari had his death stare, McClellan, the deer-in-the-headlights freeze, now Tony, crying for mercy? Not buying it.

Props for the Muskie comment however.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Speaking of good bloggers: Speak of the devil, and he shall appear.

Really, no more blogging. I mean it, I can quit anytime.

The blogosphere is dead, long live the blogosphere: Yeah, you're right. Except I think in a few weeks it'll start being kinda cool again, like in a retro way, ya know. Like trucker caps and Phish. So why don't we get ahead of it and blog like mad so that a few days later we can say, "Feh, blogging, that's so, like, June. I'm way into Podbarfing now. You can download my vomit as a ringtone, dude."

Anyway, I fee your pain (well, not Razor's - I still think I'm damned interesting). I think blogging works when there's an event, like and election or hurricane, that can hold your attention for a few weeks and merits daily attention. Other than those times, there's not many people who produce enough worthwhile content to merit the effort needed to stay current. Often the level of discourse is about that of a sports radio call-in show, with a lot of screaming and not much substance.

There are noteworthy exceptions, including writers like Michael Totten, Radley Balko, who also does research many of his posts and has carved out a couple of niche issues to focus on mostly, and scholars like Becker/Posner. Notably, I think the best bloggers are the ones who'd be doing the same thing without the blogoshpere, in academic, think-tank, journalism roles.

The medium has ceased to be cool, like Eno's CB, but it's still in a relatively early stage of development. As the cool factor fades away, hopefully the best writers will stick around, and maybe even make a go at it economically, as some have been trying. The others, they'll move one to something else. And it'll be cool for few years, too.

Friday, May 12, 2006

That Smell: Actually, it's not the cheese. (The cheese is supposed to smell like that. It's French.) It's the scent of a rotting carcass -- in this case the rotting carcass of the blogosphere. You know what? I bet it's been two years since I told anyone I had a blog. I'm embarrassed by it these days. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I wanted very badly to have a CB radio. And there you have the equation: Blog = CB + internet.

I'll admit that I enjoyed blogging for a while, and some of the stuff I wrote for FauxPolitik is the most lucid prose I've written since I started working for the government. (To be fair to myself, though, they paid me for the bad prose. Being lucid was just a hobby.) And now it's 2006 and everybody has a blog. You knew it was getting bad when the MSM began to blog; things took a nose dive, though, was when major political campaigns decided to blog -- in the form of unpaid interns formulating nauseating politi-jive on a campaign website. Then there was Howard Dean's million-blog army -- the one that couldn't even win him a f*cking primary. Finally, John Kerry started to post with the bedwetters at Kos, in effect knocking down the fourth wall of the blogulo-political complex.

It was something of a jump-the-shark moment, given that Kerry had just had his ass kicked by the man the left regards as the dumbest human being in recorded history. And you can't really go out and say that "the people" were too stupid to choose wisely, right? At least not when you're called the Democratic party, right? I mean, not without exposing the party for what it is, namely a populist/crypto-socialist enterprise that actually does believe that Americans are too dumb to make their own dietary choices, let alone their choose own president, right? Nah, they said it anyway, and nobody blinked.

A circuitous route to my point, I hear you saying. True. I'll be brief. If I write something for FauxPolitik these days, it's generally not about politics -- as you may have noticed. Perhaps I'm just more cynical than usual these days (the major parties will do that top you), but it truly seems that political commentary so saturates all media that about the only worthwhile comment I can make is not to comment.

Perhaps it's a passing thing, but it does seem to have coincidentally struck our dear Razor . . .

By the way: Somebody really needs to dust around here. And I think Eno left the cheese out last week. It's taken on a smell that's beyond words.
From the department of "duh": Ever wondered why rock 'n roll concerts rarely start on time. Via Radley, here's someone who's uncovered the truth.
But, Witts explains, then "there is a curious, ill-defined period between the
moment the technicians have finished their on-stage preparations and the moment
of the band's arrival."
He contends that "it seems to be implicitly accepted
by management and the audience that there may be a pause of up to 20 minutes
following the end of the roadie cabaret."

Seriously, the causes for delay are pretty predicatable, including band members filling various needs, be they chemical, sexual or pshychological. It's not like they'e all superheros who may have to battle aliens or other arch-villians while the opening act warms up the crowd.

At least they're not all lost backstage.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Assimilate or suffer the consequences: So I've never been a big fan of roller coasters. And I'm comfortable with that fact.

But when the 10 year old girl in front of you in line to ride the Borg Assimilator asks if you're gonna be okay, the old machismo takes a bit of a wallop. And then, you either suck in your gut and laugh in her face or you wilt and ask if anyone's ever died on this ride.

Shut up, I did too choose the first tactic.

There's not a good picture of the ride, I guess 'cause even static photography of this beast has been known to induce vomiting, but here's the blurb on the Paramount Carowinds site:

The Carolinas' first flying coaster is also the tallest roller coaster in the
park. It soars riders through eight inversions, most while flying facedown,
zooming toward the ground and turning skyward just in time for the next
inversion. The unique rider position offers breathtaking and virtually
unobstructed views of the park.
They're able to make "inversions" sound like an almost routine, even pleasant experience. Sure, let me come over to your house and "invert" you for three minutes. See how you like it. And the "breathtaking and virtually unobstructed views of the park" go like this.
Sky, ground, big metal support beam, first 12 years of your life, parking lot,
sky, water, ground, hands clenching the safety harness, next 20 years of your
life, sky, inside of eyelids. Stop. Girlfriend.

I've got a unique rider position for the asshat that designed that thing.

After we got off and walked out they were closing the ride down. Not for safety reasons, apparently, just that it was 9:00 and the park was closing. Darn, can't ride it again till.....oh, let's say never.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rock and Roll Radio: Continuing my near-total avoidance of political blogging, this Will Collier post caught my eye. It's about a radio station from his youth.
But that wasn't what was really great about the station. TK had a personality, and it was unpredictable. The station was programmed by the in-house jocks, and you really never knew what you were going to hear next, particularly in the first half of the '80's. TK picked up on new acts in a hurry, and even played stuff like Cyndi Lauper and Duran Duran long before they were unavoidable on Top 40 stations (and like them or hate them, at that time they were still new and very different from the automated pop of the day). It was a station that could effortlessly go from Judas Priest to Bruce Cockburn to an old Journey tune, and then roll into an obscure live U2 track one of the jocks found on the back of a vinyl EP.
Worth reading the whole. I'll wait.


I know I sound like a fogey of the first water when I get into the "Back in my day . . ." groove, but so what. I had the pleasure to grow up under the influence of the storied WNEW in New York. The names are almost meaningless now: Ken Dashow, Scott Muni, Pete Fornatale, the departed Nightbird, Vin Scelsa -- and Dave Herman. I was painting houses across Northern New Jersey, and only Dave Herman's morning show kept me going. You knew that your shot of "Bruce Juice" in the morning would not be "Tenth Avenue Freezeout" or "Born to Run." More likely it would be a non-single, like "The E Street Shuffle" or the album cut of "Jungleland" (a ten-minute extravaganza that any normal station would fire a jock for playing), or something quirky like "Does this Bus Stop at 82nd Street?"

The format was undeniably classic rock, but not "Classic Rock." In one sitting, you might hear an oddball oldie like Del Shannon's "Hats off to Larry," a Beatles B-side like "I'm Down" or "Rain," live cuts, a new song by Los Lobos, a top-name in-studio guest, Black Sabbath, and "Things from England."

Things declined, as they do. In 1988, WNEW was sold to Westinghouse. Before long, the jocks had either left (like Vin Scelsa), found other outlets (like Richard Neer), or settled into an embarrassing irrelevancy (like when Scottso had his show cut down to a single hour). The program became musty, and the playlist became one stale "hit" after another. Forget "Jungleland" -- even something like "Hey, Jude" didn't fit the format anymore.

It was right about this time that I was fired from the small station where I was working, ostensibly for playing the entirety of Side A of Shirley McLaine's "Best of Broadway" album. But really, it was for playing things like Rush, Yes, Cream, AC/DC, Traffic, War, Jeff Beck, The Kinks, Zappa, Vanilla Fudge. Their heavy rotation bin included things like REM, 10,000 Maniacs, the Smiths, and other groups that were played on every one of the other shows the station had, except for the jazz show and the country show. And Nirvana. Man, I never got Nirvana.

The jocks that spun REM said that classic rock was stale and corporate. But REM was stale and corporate pretty quickly, too. ("Everybody Hurts," anyone?) Plus, they were throwing out the baby with the bathwater simply because no station would venture much further than "Stairway to Heaven."

Radio's best feature was always its variety, its mystery, the surprise of hearing a long-lost gem or something new and different. Alternative radio did this briefly, but soon the alternative stations all played the same songs, too. (And, honestly, how much Morrisey do you really want in your life?) A jock from a small local station admitted to me recently that his hands are tied. He doesn't get to pick anything, and prerecords a lot of his intro/outro work. And this is the local alternative/worldbeat/alt-country/singer-songwriter station that brags about being "different." God help you if you're at the Clear Channel affiliate.

So I've made my peace with radio. I listen mostly to talk, now. If I want music, I'll play a disc or occasionally scan stations. I looked at satellite, but my reaction was the same as Will's: "Where's the station that plays everything?" If the legalities ever get straightened out, eclectica podcasts might fill the niche. But the record companies seem to get more committed every day to the principle of locking music away.

Maybe it's too much to ask, but I want the A-Z history of rock and roll, from doo-wop to heavy metal . . . on shuffle.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Well, if that's your definition of "pop": Then I nominate Cole Porter:

My story is much too sad to be told,
but practically everything
leaves me totally cold.
The only exception i know is the case,
when i'm out on a quiet spree,
fighting vainly the old ennui
and i suddenly turn and see,
your fabulous face.

I get no kick from Champagne
Mere alchohol doesn't thrill me at all
so tell me why should it be true
that i get a kick
out of you

Some get a kick from cocaine
i'm sure that if i took even one sniff
that would bore me terrif-icly too
yet i get a kick out of you

I mean, rhyming "spree" with "ennui" -- come on!
We could be next: Umm, anybody know what's happened to our friend Stephen?
Who Put the "Pop" in Pop Music? I appreciate the valid criticism of invoking mumblers and misanthropes like Waits. (Costello, however, is surely pop music, even if he has lately wandered awfully avant garde.) Pop is notoriously tricky to pin down. Hoagy Carmichael was pop -- in his day:
Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely nights
Dreaming of a song
That melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
Ah, but that was long ago
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song
And so was Antonio Jobim:
How insensitive I must have seemed when she told me that she loved me
How unmoved and cold I must have seemed when she told me so sincerely
Why, she must have asked, did I just turn and stare in icy silence?
What was I to say? What can you say when a love affair is over?
But Robert Johnson never was
Now six and two is eight
Eight and two is ten
Friend-boy she trick you one time
She sure gonna do it again
even though a bunch of white British guys made a mint running his songs up and down the pop charts.
Pop lyric: If it's gotta be pop, here's my pick.
Were all alone in a villa on the rivera

Thats in france on the south side In case
u cared

Out of all yo friends I wanna be the closest

Thats why I tell u things So
ull be the mostest

When it comes 2 life, 2 be this mans wife

U got 2 be well
educated on the subject of fights

I mean prevention of

In other words - its
r.e.a.l meaning of this thing called love

Are u up on this? If so, then u can get
up off hug and a kiss

Come here baby, yeah

U sexy motherfucker

If we're allowed misanthropes, Eno's stolen a little thunder from me. At risk of being a me too-er, here's my Costello pick (at least the first one I thought of):
When Sunday morning dandruff turns out to be confetti

And the cost of living in sin would make a poor man out of Paul Getty

The girl in your dreams would have you up on an under age charge

And the man of the moment is the lifer at large

If you've got something to hide, if you've got something to sell

If you've got somebody's pride she might kiss and tell

Or wind up with a fight fan in the Hammersmith Hotel

You better speak up now if you want your piece

You better speak up now

It won't mean a thing later

Yesterday's news is
tomorrow's fish and chip paper

And Lou Reed:
And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming

He's found a book on Magic
in a garbage can

He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling

the count of 3" he says, "I hope I can disappear"

And fly fly away, from
this dirty boulevard

I want to fly, from dirty boulevard

I want to fly, from
dirty boulevard

I want to fly, fly, fly, fly, from dirty boulevard

But this is all very cursory. If I think of anyting better I'll let you know.
Truthiness at the Correspondents' Dinner: All the networks are showing W and his impersonator for some midly, but mostly lame, jokes. Of course the real sturm and drang was Colbert and his extremely subtle jibes at the Admin via his "Colbert Report" character. Some are thanking him for his efforts. It's worth watching the whole bit.

By the middle, however, W is hardly amused and Laura is downright pissed. Silly to imply Bush wasn't fully clothed....