Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shocking New Jackson Family Allegations!

CNN: "Katherine and Joe Jackson a unique team" I'll say they are!

Until now, 1600 has stayed out of this controversy, but we can ignore it no longer. Yes, because you may not have been getting enough coverage of the untimely death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, some news sources are going out of their way to make absolutely certain that no stone is unturned, no angle is not analyzed exhaustively, no unsupported hearsay, unsubstantiated rumor, or tidbit of gossip is too meager or scandalous to be pursued by their crack team of journalistic sleuths!

As Stephen Colbert put it, "I'll never forget where I was the first ten times I heard Michael Jackson had died." I feel your pain, Steve. And now this, the latest twist in a the Jackson saga, following Janet's story that she had staged "an intervention" but her brother instructed his bodyguards not to let his family on the premises, and Toyota's subsequent (and unsubstantiated) claim that he was murdered by one of his entourage. Jermaine on Larry King, swearing he had no clues that anything was out of the ordinary. Joe on seemingly every channel, talking about how he was responsible for his childrens' success. CNN even tracked down Bubbles for his reaction! Is it any wonder the chimp refused to comment?

Bubbles: "My alibi is airtight, copper!"

Then the toxicology results reveled high-octane sedatives in his system, the revelation that Michael took ten Xanex each night. The doctor, the last person to see Michael alive, fled, now under indictment for his complicity. Rumors of track marks, addiction, hair loss (was that famous pompadour really a wig?), a collapsed face from an overindulgence in plastic surgery, the often-sordid legal battles. The autopsy results withheld.

Yes, he was a cottage industry gone wild, keeping the tabloids ever busy with mortifying accusations, and a team of doctors, lawyers, spin-specialists, servants, and handlers employed around the clock keeping him on everyone's radar, expectantly anticipating his next word or gesture, and out of trouble.

"It burns! IT BURNS!!!!"

BUT since the mainstream media has totally dropped the ball yet again on their ubiquitous "All Michael, All The Time" coverage, we're stepping in!

As the picture at the top of this column recently unearthed by the diligent 1600 research investigative team graphically demonstrates, long before his life started spiraling out of control like a dream-catcher on meth, Michael's folks, Katherine and Joe Jackson, were "Stepping Out!" Yes, you heard it hear first, after years of watching his children in the Jackson 5, and later in their solo careers, grabbing Grammys and headlines, the patriarch of the Jackson clan went to the UK, donned a skinny tie, and began his own musical voyage, from power pop to classical and jazz, even covering classics such as "What's The Use of Getting Sober" and Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well." This is the kind of bitter jealousy that led poor Mike to estrange himself from his dear old dad, trying to steal his thunder on Billboard, and cater to a crowd of angry punkers and new wave poseurs "His Weirdness" never could reach. But as the years wore on, and his Al Jolson make-up wore off, Michael began to resemble Joe more and more, his skin approaching a translucent, ivory shade usually reserved for albinos, Republicans and vampires.

So, now the custody battle has begun, maybe someone who is borderline normal can take care of little Paris, Prince Michael and "Blanket" (Blanket? are you f***in' kidding me?! This guy had the nerve to name his kid after the rag Linus used to carry around for security? Good thing he didn't have any more kids, as he was clearly running out of other celebrities and inanimate objects for names...) Mom appears to have won the first round, but the court is now considering appointing a guardian ad litem to represent the childrens' interests, which may be contrary to Mrs. Jackson's. Really? People, can I get a "DUH?"

So where was Grandma when Michael was doing this?

Now some Aussie is planning the mega-tribute show, so we can all relive the high points, hysteria, and subsequent horror of his life and untimely death. And the Jacksons are now united in saying "waitaminnit, put on the breaks, here- we're not sure if we're ready to start making a deal." The circling vultures crow back: "If we can't get this signed five minutes ago, it could spoil the public's insatiable need for more dirt, speculation and innuendo on his last hours," etc. Right- we really need another VH1 special on "the heartbreak behind the hits." Not a dry eye in the house!!

Are you still there? Do I hear snoring! What's the matter with you? Have you maxed out on Michael already? C'mon- he hasn't even been dead two months yet! What are you going to do next year if the US recognizes June 18th as "Michael Jackson Memorial Day?" Do you support Congresswoman Sheila Jackson (no relation) Lee, who famously offered:

"Resolved, That the House of Representatives

(1) recognizes Michael Jackson as a global humanitarian and a noted leader in the fight against worldwide hunger and medical crises; and
(2) celebrates Michael Jackson as an accomplished contributor to the worlds of arts and entertainment, scientific advances in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, and global food security."

Does all this seem just a little bit over the top??? Um, with two wars going on, an economy still reeling from years of excess and avarice and health care out of control, do ya think the House of Representatives might have more important things on their plate than proposing more meaningless gestures toward someone who has created so much ambivalence over the last twenty years of his career?

Why couldn't they just say no?

Seriously, enough already. The guys' dead, OK? Just let him go.

"Michael Jackson in Disneyland
Don't have to share it with nobody else
Lock the gates, Goofy, take my hand
And lead me through the World of Self
Splendid Isolation,

I don't need no one
Splendid Isolation"

Warren Zevon

Sunday, July 12, 2009

National Health Care Debate, Goldman Sucks, Palin Resigns, Billy Mays, the Sotomayor Confirmation, Glenn Beck in decline, & Sen. Stuart Smalley?

After about eight straight entries on music, it's time to catch up on what's happening in the world around us. Faster and furiouser, trying to keep up with it all, I find myself dizzy from the information overload, accompanied by more spin than my bed in college after a two day Bloody Mary binge. But as far as I can tell, here's the scorecard:

The fight for National Health Care rages on. The right attack it as socialized medicine, citing the countless horrors from marginal medical treatment in Canada and the UK. Best line so far: Investor's Business Daily warned of end-of-life counseling asserting that people like Stephen Hawking "wouldn't have a chance" under socialized medical care. The irony (doubtless lost on these tools) being that not only is Hawking an English citizen (where all this allegedly shoddy nationalized healthcare has been in place for decades) but that after this bold claim was made, Hawking himself claimed that he wouldn't have survived without it.

Stephen Hawking: No complaints about socialized medicine from him.

As for Sarah Palin's unsupported allegations about the proposed plan creating "death panels" for senior citizens and the handicapped, "the Anchorage Daily News reported this last July, the situation in the state's Medicare- and Medicaid-funded in-home elder care program became so bad that the federal government had to step in and force Alaska to make necessary improvements."
"In one 2 1/2 year stretch, 227 adults already getting services died while waiting for a nurse to reassess their needs. Another 27 died waiting for their initial assessment, to see if they qualified for help."
The feds had been tipped off to the systemic problems "by doctors and other health care providers, who found the state unresponsive when confronted with their incompetence. No other state faced comparable problems." What a shock, Sarah the know-it-all allowing citizens of her state to die because of the incompetence of her administration? Oh, that's right, she hasn't been there to do her job for the last year or so while she was running for an office way beyond her limited grasp, or courting corporate sponsors. Can't wait for the Fox talk show to begin, to run against Oprah. Sorry, Sarah, but "The View" (apparently not of the eastern frontier of the Soviet Union!) is already taken. "Say it isn't so?" "You bet'cha!"

And here's some more statistics to undercut the insurance and pharmaceutical industries blatant scare tactics and appalling LIES about the "true cost" of health care: "The GAO estimates that a comprehensive national health plan would cost roughly $1Trillion over ten years. This is not unusual considering the size of US budget; we blow through about a trillion on the military every two years, and their computer systems are still obsolete by the time they get them. Anyway, if we kept our current system unchanged, normal costs--as they are now--would end up as $35 Trillion (yes, that's "trillion" with a "T", Dr. Evil!) over ten years, most of this being paid by the government anyway, so, you know, the "conservative" option looks like a national health service." (Many thanks to my pal Shane for the spot-on statistics that put this ridiculous argument in black and white terms that even the moron from Crawford should be able to get.)

Speaking of Sarah Palin: Another victim of the vast left wing conspiracy to deprive sub-morons from future occupation of the White House, Saucy Sarah announced that she was calling it quits, but she still can't keep out of the limelight in her desperate attempt to control the destiny of the Grand Oil Party. After blaming the "frivolous complaints" brought against her for charging the State of Alaska for staying at home in Wasilla; spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on wardrobe and personal items for herself, the "First Dude," and their litter of kids; having the state pay for their personal travel expenses as well as those of the esteemed Governor; dragging the name of teenager Levi Johnson, the unwed father of Ms. Palin's grandson and Crystal's ex through the mud after their acrimonious break up, and shilling for the oil companies in Alaska to try to derail a transition to a green energy policy, now SarahPAC, her campaign committee to back a run for the higher office she apparently believes she deserves, is now under investigation for bookkeeping issues and donating more money to campaigns of friendly candidates than is legally permitted. Ms. Palin, let me speak loud and clear for the 98% of non-drooling America when I say: "Don't let the door hit you in the ass."

Wow, what a class act. This qualifies her to be on tool calendars in garages around the country! But will that also make her an expert on engine repair?

Goldman Sucks: Yeah, mere months after they swindle American taxpayers out of $180 billion dollars, and paid back about 5% of our loan to them, these Wall Street fat cats have ratcheted up their salaries by an average of 33%, and recorded RECORD PROFITS for last quarter. In the mean time the national unemployment rate has surpassed ten percent, with five states registering over 15%! What the...? Bernancke (nominated to a second term by President Obama) and the Fed are so busy congratulating themselves that they've turned the economy around that they've completely failed to regulate those conditions which brought it about in the first place, and according to Paul Krugman, among other authorities, "Washington has done nothing to protect us from a new crisis, and, in fact, has made another crisis more likely." And now the risks they take are covered not just by speculative investors, but by all taxpayers, who will likely never recoup the money we paid to bail these thieves out in the first place, much less our share of the "profits" they make so long as they can dump that into hefty bonuses for themselves...
for more, read Paul Krugman's various essays in the New York Times about how these swindlers have kept people distracted and managed to amass more of our tax dollars to keep them rolling in dough while the rest of the country holds bake sales. And a tip o' the 1600 lid to Bill and Ray for following this story, and contributing to this post...

Billy Mays: Everybody was broken up over this guys death, which temporarily eclipsed even the passing of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson (more on that later). Am I the only one in the world that had no idea who this guy was? When an infomercial comes on, I reflexively change channels. He was an advertising pitchman, for crying out loud! AND HIS ANNOYING, MONOTONOUS 120 DECIBEL DELIVERY! IT'S THE SAME WHETHER HE'S SELLING COOKING UTENSILS OR KEYCHAINS! Couldn't he hear? Or did he have to sound like LIKE HE WAS TRYING TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH A BULLHORN? MAYBE THE COKE AFFECTED HIS HEARING? You decide. Still, he would have made a great play by play announcer for ESPN if anything ever happened to Chris Berman, because it always sounds like he's ready to narrate the highlight reel at any second...HE. COULD. GO. ALL. THE. WAY. Wait, I guess he already did.

Speaking of marginally talented newsmakers, Dick Cheney's out of the bunker and on the road with his "I'm Not Apologizing for Anything" tour: perhaps the longest running show off Broadway in 2009! Dead Eye Dick is on every politics show this side of MSNBC, writing letters to the editor, and out stumping for torture, spying, and the unAmerican Way. Even as reports from the State Department and the CIA have rebuked his claim that the use of waterboarding, dogs, and fire ants, threatening the families and children of prisoners, and warrantless wiretaps on American yielded any valuable information, Dick maintains that he and George Bush have personally kept every man, woman and child in this country safe for 8 years....except for that one really bad day they had in 2001 eight months after taking office and ignoring any intel generated by the previous administration. Now Dick is cryin that this is politically motivated. OK, Bunker Boy, I have 2 words for ya: "Valerie Plame." Now that Novak's dead, we'll never get to the bottom of that, but if you don't think that outing a covert CIA agent and endangering the lives of her contacts (at least a couple of whom were killed after that fiasco) wasn't politically motivated, if not outright TREASON, than gargle some more of the purple Kool Aid, and pray at the altar of Newt Gingrich for a new Contract on America. And thanks for the Act of Non-Contrition, Dick- see you at the Hague.

Hello, any intelligence in there? Mc Fly? Bueller? Helloooooo?

Oh, yeah: Not only does the report find there is no proof that the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" led to ANY valuable information, in fact, these policies may have even impeded the process of learning about planned attacks and other details from the detainees.

Now, finally, in spite of resistance from the Obama Administration, Attorney General Eric Holder has finally nominated Special Prosecutor John Durham to conduct a "preliminary investigation" of the CIA's practices. But some see this as only a lukewarm endorsement by Holder to examine the record, as Durham is not empowered to prosecute any crimes that are revealed during the inquiry. Time will tell....

Methinks he protests too much. "Heckuva job, Dicky."

More sour grapes dep't.: And what of poor Glenn Beck, with his advertisers becoming scarce as siberian tigers, and pulling out of his show (and some, the whole FauxNews network) with tremendous abandon usually executed by rats on sinking ships? Maybe not everyone thinks that calling the President a racist and stoking your viewers to arm themselves and commit acts of treason isn't a wise move. Over 36 companies, including AT&T, Sprint, Geico, UPS, Proctor & Gamble, and even the ultraconservative Wal Mart have removed their ads from Beck's show. Do ya think this might be putting a dent in the bloated Murdoch disinformation empire? One can only hope. But boy, the letters and boycotts of Faux News advertisers sure seem to be taking their toll on this troll! And what of his cohorts like propaganda-spewing Sean Hannity? Take note: you're next, bub.

Glenn Beck: Talk Show Host of the Damned?

1600 also sends its belated congratulations to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, on her confirmation by a 68-31 vote, in spite of partisan bickering and claims that her "liberal activism" will lead to decisions that don't follow established precedent. At least a few of your colleagues need a reality check, and we're betting you're just the tough, self- reliant woman that can give them one- in a New York minute!

And last but not least, to the new (and improved) Senator Al: Stuart Smalley goes to Washington. 'Bout f*ckin' time! Coleman's not a sore loser, just like Jim Vitter, Sanford and Ensign are all upstanding, ethical, family values guys... Mr. Senator, you can do a lot of good here- be the leader we all know ya are, and don't cave to the special interests that some of your cowering colleagues let dictate their decisions. We fully expect that you will continue in the proud populist tradition of Eugene McCarthy, Hubert H. Humphrey and Paul Wellstone. Your state and your country will thank you.

You can call him Senator Al, Rush.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's Sunday, This Must Be The Church

Well, after catching my breath from Friday night's show, we turned back up at the State Theater Sunday evening for a raging display of guitar from criminally under-appreciated Australian progressive rock vets, The Church. I had eagerly anticipated this show since the last time I saw them at the Birchmere, and they filled the State Theater to near capacity, an odd mix of youngsters and oldsters, each very intent on hearing their latest work as well as a few old gems. We would not be disappointed, for the modest price of admission, we were ushered into sonic heaven.

At least, I hope that heaven sounds this good! Celebrating their thirtieth anniversary, and the recent release of another typically elegant new collection, lead singer/bassist Steve Kilbey, guitarists Marty Willson- Piper and Peter Koppes, and drummer Tim Powles (still the new kid on the block with fifteen years as half of the band's solid bottom end), they served up haunting melodies with amazing fluidity for a two hour set that spanned their remarkable songbook.

From "A Month of Sundays," off of their 1984 Release, Remote Luxury, to several brand new compositions from their latest recording, the music was pure, vintage Church. "After Everything," the title cut from the 2002 album, was a highlight, as was "You Took," off The Blurred Crusade. The band wove one trippy, hypnotic groove into the next, featuring early compositions beside fresh tunes from the new record. Untitled # 23 was well represented with lavish readings of "Operetta," "Pangaea," "Space Saviour," "Happenstance," and "Dead Man's Hand," all precisely orchestrated, powerful, and full of emotion. The band closed its regular set on a climactic high note, with "Under The Milky Way" followed by "Reptile" from their 1986 masterpiece, Starfish. And they pulled out another old chestnut with "Hotel Womb," serving as the final song of their encore. Sheer sonic bliss!

Don't even ask, just go get a copy. NOW!

These four guys kick out an amazing amount of sound: in one minute, subtle and delicate, the next a well-orchestrated cacophony, drenched in feedback but not a discordant note or a stray sound. One of my favorite moments had to be when Marty broke a string, and while he was replacing it, the rest of the guys broke into an impromptu rendition of "Girl From Ipanema," complete with Steve doing an appropriately- breathy vocal. To quote Getz and Gilberto, we all said "aaaahhhhhhhh."

Say "Ahhhh."

A typically excellent performance, once again underscoring their staying power: fans of the band will tell you that they only get better as time passes. Like few of their predecessors or contemporaries, this band had commercial success early in the 80's ("Under The Milky Way" and "Metropolis" were ubiquitous hits in heavy rotation) and then went on to perform critically acclaimed material. Kilbey, Koppes and Willson-Piper each pursued solo careers and side projects, still continuing to perform together, and demonstrating the mature musicianship and songwriting that has earned them an intensely devoted following.

But the really good news is, the band was recording that night, so those who missed it may even wind up hearing this someday! They have never put out an official live release (apart from the Jammed CDs, culled from some of the band's improvisations and practices), and it's LONG overdue. This is another prolific band that has remained under the radar too long; maybe thirty years into their career, they'll finally achieve the breakout success they deserve. The latest record (I can call it a record because actually picked up a vinyl version of the release) is only another compelling argument from a prolific and distinguished band for more people to rediscover their music and get back to the Church.