Chicago

One of the Best Rock Albums Ever Recorded (head vs. wall)

the service, 'head vs. wall' (Pravda Records, 1990)Once upon a time my brother wanted to show off just a little. We stopped by a booth at the county fair where a local radio station was giving away records. Most of it was understandable; they just didn’t play Top 40, for instance. My brother had made friends, though, with one of the DJs, and wanted me to see him hanging out and looking cool with cool music people. There were, of course, some gems in there, and I still wonder if they had other copies of head vs. wall, by Chicago band The Service, because what I walked away with that day is one of the best rock albums ever recorded.

I probably owe my brother thanks for that, after all these years. It’s funny, I don’t think he’s ever sat down and listened to the album, even though one of two copies I’ve owned over the years has resided in his vinyl collection for over a decade.

What is it, a bit over forty minutes? Forty-four, or so? It really is worth the time. (more…)

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The Donald Trump National Convention (Movin’ Right Along)

Melania Trump delivers a speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, 18 July 2016. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It’s worth noting that the New York Times headline, “Melania Trump’s Speech Bears Striking Similarities to Michelle Obama’s in 2008”, is rather quite generous.

Melania Trump earned praise for her speech on Monday at the opening night of the Republican National Convention, but her remarks almost immediately came under scrutiny when striking similarities were discovered between her speech and one delivered by Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention in 2008.

The phrases in question came when Ms. Trump―who told NBC News earlier Monday that she had written her speech herself―was discussing her upbringing in Slovenia and her parents.

(Haberman, Rappeport, and Healy)

On the upside, though, apparently Mrs. Trump’s dress was something of a hit; Bruna Nessif of E! reports that the $2,190 Roksanda “Margot” dress sold out in under an hour: “Now that’s how you make a fashion and political statement.”

Yeah, it’s a fabulous dress, and all, and a bunch of people apparently really did shell out nearly twenty-two hundred dollars per. And that’s the good news. All of it.

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Image note: Melania Trump delivers a speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, 18 July 2016. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Haberman, Maggie, Alan Rappeport, and Patrick Healy. “Melania Trump’s Speech Bears Striking Similarities to Michelle Obama’s in 2008”. The New York Times. 19 July 2016.

Nessif, Bruna. “Melania Trump’s Dress Sells Out Less Than an Hour After Her Republican Convention Speech”. E! 18 July 2016.

FOX News and Fear

Megyn Kelly of FOX News, left; career traitor and moron Morten Storm, right.  (Credit: FOX News via Salon.com)

It is a prediction both grim and petty. FOX News calls in a career gangbanger to predict terrorism:

Not that Fox News is committed to providing fuel for elderly white people’s nightmares or anything, but on “The Kelly File” last night, host [Megyn] Kelly spoke to a former al Qaeda terrorist who said that a terror attack on United States soil is immanent — likely within the next two weeks.

“The people who are on the run at the moment from ISIS in Europe are very desperate, and they know their time’s up, and they will need to do as much damage as possible,” ex-terrorist and CIA double-agent Morten Storm told Kelly.

“I believe that copycats in America will do their best to do what their brothers have done in Europe,” he added. “I believe that within the next two weeks, we will have an attack.”

“In these people’s mind,” Kelly said, “America is the real trophy.”

(Kaufman)

Note the essential lack of any useful detail. Here’s the thing: Certes, an attack in the next two weeks is possible; this is an easy suggestion to make when your job is fearmongering.

But what is the standard? To the one, we might look ahead eight days to Thanksgiving, acknowledge a long weekend, and pray―if one is inclined to prayer―for Chicago, where the Labor Day weekend saw nine dead and forty-six wounded, Independence Day weekend racked up another nine bodies and fifty-three wounded, and the Memorial day weekend counted twelve dead and forty-four injured. We certainly have reason to wonder what misery the Windy City will find while giving thanks. By Storm’s standard, if even one of the shooters decides to claim Daa’ish affiliation he is right and FOX News gets another feather in their cap.

To the other, we might consider Chicago and the basic idea of regular, terrifying violence. True, it’s not specifically relevant to Storm’s prediction, but the question demands: If we are so worried that Daa’ish can strike even one American in the homeland, why are we not coordinating a massive societal response to the terror and death of more traditional American violence?

Or is that the point? That guns and pride and murder are traditional American values?

Statistically speaking, in my lifetime, the people who are most dangerous to me are white Christian males.

Nor am I unique, or even unusual.

Nor do we treat Christians as so many Americans would have us treat Muslims.

And, you know, what the hell is the deal, here? How does being a career moron and traitor qualify Morton Storm as a terror expert? And what about his FOX News analysis isn’t lowering the bar for expertise?

Two weeks? This better be a hell of a spectacle.

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Image note: FOX News host Megyn Kelly, left; career traitor and terrorist washout Morten Storm, right. (Image: FOX News via Salon)

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “Be very, very afraid: Megyn Kelly talks to former terrorist who predicts attack on US soil within two weeks”. Salon. 18 November 2015.

The Donald Trump Show (The Brim Horizon)

Donald Trump announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in New York City, New York, 16 June 2015. (Photo: Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency)

Steve Benen raises an interesting question:

… if Trump can rocket to the front of the Republican pack without the backing of a real national campaign, what happens when the GOP candidate starts trying?

We’re about to find out. Iowa’s Sam Clovis, a prominent Republican activist and media figure in Iowa, had served for months as the state chairman of Rick Perry’s presidential campaign, until this week, when Clovis gave up on the former Texas governor and joined Team Trump.

The problem with the Donald Trump Show is that it really does know how to get attention.

(more…)

My Own Incoherent Distress

Michelle Obama addresses the graduating class at King College Prep High School in Chicago on Tuesday, 10 June 2015. (Photo: Christian K Lee/Associated Press)

“That’s a burden that President Obama and I proudly carry every single day in the White House, because we know that everything we do and say can either confirm the myths about folks like us―or it can change those myths.”

Michelle Obama

This is not, technically speaking, fair.

Then again, such is life. Michelle Obama stood before the graduating class of King College Prep High school in Chicago, yesterday, and delivered remarks that some have taken as a suggestion that the First Lady has officially entered the fight:

At a time of roiling debate over the issues of race and opportunity, punctuated by the events of Ferguson, Mo.; Staten Island; and Baltimore, the nation’s first African-American first lady has added her voice. It is not a new message for her, but one that has taken on special resonance and one delivered with bracing candor in recent speeches. Along the way, Mrs. Obama has opened a window into her own life, not just in Chicago but also in the White House.

By her telling, even living at the world’s most prominent address has not erased the sting of racial misunderstanding. In recent weeks, Mrs. Obama has talked of “insults and slights” directed at her husband and caricatures that have pained her. It all “used to really get to me,” she said, adding that she “had a lot of sleepless nights” until learning to ignore it. But she said she realized that she and her husband had a responsibility to rewrite the narrative for African-Americans.

“That’s a burden that President Obama and I proudly carry every single day in the White House,” she told the graduating seniors of King College Prep High School on Tuesday, “because we know that everything we do and say can either confirm the myths about folks like us―or it can change those myths.”

(Baker)

Some of us might be pessimistic. After all, what signs have we that President Obama and the First Lady have changed any perceptions about dark skin? Indeed, if we measure by the headlines, we might suggest they have somehow managed to exacerbate race relations.

Then again, that would be a misperception, and this is the important part.

(more…)

Not Surprising

Screengrab of BET.com, 28 October 2014, showing something about the odd contrast between grave news and pop-culture advertising.

Sometimes, well, it just isn’t surprising. To wit, we are not surprised

• … that a small-time Republican state legislator in New Hampshire plagiarized a speech against marriage equality two years ago.

• … that a small-time Republican state legislator now running for Secretary of State is a Birther, and now she doesn’t want to talk about it.

The lovable Jennifer Rubin just hates  President Obama.• … Jennifer Rubin will take the word of the Iranian government if it means she can criticize President Obama by doing so.

• … the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer was “leaked”.

• … that more people are dead after another shooting.

• … or that Seattle has nothing on Chicago when it comes to deadly violence.

And we might also mention that we are not in the least surprised at the amount of unrelated various video websites want us to watch when we click in to read a news story. What’s that? An important news story? Here, we’ll autoplay “Chris Spencer’s Top 5”. Obviously, we’re out of the loop: Who is Chris Spencer? (Wait, wait, don’t tell me. Please.) Why do I care? (Again, I don’t.) And you’re seriously telling me there’s a show called Real Husbands of Hollywood? (Just stop already.) And, no, we’re not really singling out BET; this just happened to be the stark contrast at hand.

To the other, neither will we be surprised if we don’t try a “Not Surprising” list again in the future. These things just should not be thrown together on a moment’s notice.