Saturday, November 27, 2004

One glaring omission from the previously posted list of Saddest Songs could be “Alifib” by Robert Wyatt. The first song on the second side of his classic “Rock Bottom” feels like a voyeuristic look at a mythical sea creature, struggling for its last breath of air, or in this case love, drowning in a phosphorescent sea, its gills slashed from a fisherman’s hook, lungs contorting for breaths that wont come. Wyatt coos and awes lyrics that combine fever dreams and “domestic bliss” in a series of touching non-sequiturs that leave you confused and shaken at the same time. Such is love and its many apparitions.

For those who like their sadness sans irony, I give you…

10 More of the Saddest Songs in the World...I'm talkin' real sad here, like fold up your tent and go home sad. Any one of these would make a a fine suicide note.

1. Nick Drake “Which Will”
2. Big Star “Holocaust”
3. Steve Von Till “We All Fall”
4. Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris “Love Hurts”
5. Alexander “Skip” Spence “Diana”
6. Peter Jefferies “On an Unknown Beach”
7. John Prine “Sam Stone”
8. Jandek “First You Think Your Fortune’s Lovely”
9. Kan Mikami “Never Before”
10.The Carter Family “No Depression in Heaven”

Guy Maddin’s screwball melodrama, “The Saddest Music in the World,” raises an interesting question when probing the unfathomable depths of the broken heart: How sad is too sad? When does sadness stop being a real emotion and become a joke? And where does one draw the line between the truly sad and the patently ridiculous? Maddin’s Vaseline swabbed head-squeezer posits that question and answers with a succession of absurd oddballs vying for the top prize of saddest music-maker in the world, and even offers some resolution when all the despair is finally acknowledged, the sadness felt, the good guys redeemed and the evil burned alive. Can’t stand those ambiguous endings, ya know? “Saddest Music in the World” takes its exaggeration into the stratosphere, beyond it and finally back again, only to reveal that the most somber blows are always born in the family. ‘Course, many have taken their own introspective glances at the frail fabric of familiar relations, but no one’s done it as gleefully and with such lucid abandon as Maddin does in this film. See it all costs.

In honor of this singular achievement, now available in the sensible DVD format, in no particular order, I give you...

Ten of the Saddest Songs in the World:

1. Coil “Tainted Love” (from “Scatology” Force and Form CD) – The Soft Cell classic reworked by everyone’s favorite ambitiously gay duo as a dire industrial dirge, complete with Marc Almond himself on uber-sad vocal. An uneasy collision of nightmarish ooze and primitive synth doom informs a track that pulses ever so slowly, and eventually implodes via surging electro swells, sampled choral noises and its own seething discontent. It feels almost like a parody of the original, or is it just a very real attempt at capturing the apocalyptic emotions that accompany any bitter breakup?

2. Roxy Music “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” (from “For Your Pleasure” Virgin CD) – This is the Roxy song that will convert you if you’ve never been converted. As fine an example of proto goth-EEK art rock as you will find, with Brian Ferry recounting an upscale, spiritually vapid existence with grim detail in vampyric croon. The end result is thought-provoking to the chilled bone, sort of like “Citizen Kane” gone glam in its depiction of dead souled mannequins consuming perfectly mixed martinis, rendered with the slow-burn of ominous foreboding which erupts as one of the most thrilling musical catharses in rock. Ferry describes his nightmare cum reality with the voice of a sardonic insider who can’t stop laughing as he spills his beans. “It’s only a song…it’s only a song…it’s only a song…” Or is it?

3. Velvet Underground “All Tomorrow’s Parties” (from “Velvet Underground and Nico” Verve CD) – An early classic buoyed on the minimal piano tinkering of John Cale and Nico’s stern delivery. It tells about a girl who today could be a supermodel or one of those Hilton hookers, consumed by her partying lifestyle, and perhaps losing her soul to the night in the process. It’s tragic for sure, not to mention light-years ahead of its time, but damned funny too and just as addictive as the lifestyle it depicts with its wailing wall of distortion and relentless piano strikes, but never does our narrator condemn the protagonist. She even sympathizes, but always with the junkie’s contempt.

4. Brian Eno “Some of Them are Old” (from “Here Come the Warm Jets” EG CD) – I question whether Mr. Eno himself even knows what this one’s about, but as does all of his material from this period, the song lands squarely in the realm where the surreal comes to shed its tears and the rest of us look on in giddy wonder. Eno charges the everyday with a kind of otherworldly communion where the long dead still converse, flatter and annoy the still living. How to describe this song, other than it opens on a near religious note, segues into a hillbilly wake and then explodes like the sun breaking through the clouds with its final chorale—a kind of sadness engulfed in aural epiphany.

5. Beach Boys “Surf’s Up” (from “Surf’s Up” Capital CD) – Another ambiguous moment of divine intervention, it works on a similar level as “Some of them are Old,” opening with a sad piano/vocal lament, Brian Wilson intoning cryptic word strings that border on Zen lunacy. Then all that’s left is our mighty hero, paddling in an oceanic expanse where he confronts his Maker and a million, billion stars. The multi-harmony outro is both purifying and sadly nostalgic—a memorial for something lost, but what? God only knows…

6. Flamin’ Groovies “Teenage Confidential” (from “Shake Some Action” Aim CD) – Later Groovies at their finest in a tear-streaked waltz of musical pathos. The protagonist begs and pleads with his lover not to fold to the lure of gossip and reject his devotion as a result. Yes, this may very well be the very first emo song, but more importantly it’s a mind-blowing rush of pure power pop that both reveals the dire reality of teenage love affairs and the absurd hyper-real drama of it all. Are the ‘Groovies really letting it all hang out in an ace slab of vintage pop heartbreak, or are they just a goofing on all those silly 60s breakup anthems…maybe both?

7. Nick Drake “Been Smokin’ Too Long” (from “Time of No Reply” Rykomusic CD) – This early gem from the prince of lonely hearts captures him in a rare moment of what could be considered self inflicted cheekiness. It’s a gorgeous down-tempo blues with Drake riffing on his sensitive stoned hipster persona so perfectly realized on “Five Leaves Left” less than a year later. The narrator blasts his love of smoke and substance and resultant bad karma, ultimately damning himself, “ain’t nothin’ gone right with me/ must be I been smokin’ too long.” Granted, it’s an obsession with this kind of self imposed existential doom that would dog Drake to his end, but here he's giving us a wink and saying, “It’s OK to grin and sing along.”

8. T. Rex “The Slider” (from “The Slider” Polygram CD) – Quintessential Bolan combines his vintage boogy-psych grooviness with obtuse lyrics that, actually, make sense, detailing the bummer life can be and the resultant “slides” that come with, ultimately confirming that nothing nips a bummer in the bud like some good old fashioned chemical rebalancing. Bolan and his band unleash a raw descending blues stomp beat, all manner of voodoo shakers and acid drenched soul harmonies before a beautiful fade of mind-enveloping strings bliss. Sad bliss, though.

9. Vashti Bunyan “17 Pink Sugar Elephants” (from Ptolemaic Terrascope compilation #? CD) – The golden corded chanteuse recounts the sad scene of the titular goodies, frozen in manufactured complacence--so pretty to see, so vacant to know--in a downcast blues gem that decimates the fragile senses in just under two minutes, and climaxes with the depressing realization that one of the little fellows is merely, “a factory made pink sugar elephant given to children for treats after tea.” Sounds trite, don’t it? It’s more than that though. Bunyan’s mastery of vocal inflection, rhythm and imagery here is about as poetically subversive as any folk poppy ditty from the last 50 years.

10. Daniel Johnston “Tuna Ketchup” (From “The Early Recordings Vol. 1” Dualtone 2CD) – A later track from DJ’s first self-release captures the sadness of unrequited love with first person recollections of seeing the object of his affections in a parking lot, at a park in the summer; he even goes so far as to “let her walk all over me and insult me too…because I like her.” Ahh, the trials and tribulations we suffer for love. Of course you can’t help but wonder if Daniel ever had the nerve to even talk to her in the first place, and just what does “Tuna Ketchup” have to do with anything?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Got a big pile of things that've been piling up for weeks or longer to get at least some mention of in here, but in the meantime, The Curtains "Vehicles of Travel" just arrived in the mail, and this is precisely what I need at this point in the year: a warm, weird art pop racket that could be compared to Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart, even the Clean, but the first track is a dead ringer for a more lo-fi Jim O'Rourke. In other words, I love it.

Also, just got this in my inbox...little over a month after Instal, check out the lineup at this year's Kill Your Timid Notion. AMM, Mirror and Thuja on the same stage on the same night? Fuckin' 'ell.

AMM+ Malcolm Le Grice
Mirror w/ a film by Bill Morrison
Thuja + Keith Evans
Perlonex + Ulrike Flaig
Text of Light [lee ranaldo, alan licht, uli krieger, tim barnes]
Tower Recordings
La Cellule d'Intervention Metamkine
Tabula Smaragdina: Jürgen Reble + Thomas Köner
Sachiko M + Anthony McCall

Monday, November 15, 2004

RIP John Balance.

Too tragic to bear:
Sin City, Texas...

Just above Austin, there's a place called Sun City. I've never been there, but hope to get there one day, or at least get a picture of myself beaming cross-eyed and jovial like an American monument in front of that big green exit sign. Of course the Sun City Girls, the band, originated in Sun City, Arizona over 20 years ago, and currently reside in that gray mecca of coffee and tears, Seattle, WA. These Sun City Girls (who are actually three GUYS--two brothers named Bishop and an older one name of Charles Gocher, shares a birthday with, what's his name? Manson--Charles Manson, and that day just happens to coincide with the same day of a rock show in Austin, TX, November 12th. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!). Lot had happened since the Girls' last Texas visit. A certain shrub had taken to flight. Two big towers were destroyed. A lot of people everywhere died. Some of it was broadcast. And the Girls had taken on such varied endeavors as clearing out their massive archives with the Carnival Folklore Resurrection series (now at something like 13 releases); the masters of noise and psych over at Eclipse Records had taken it upon themselves to reissue the first 20 (or so) Sun City Girls albums in thick black double vinyl editions. And then comes word of this mysterious Sublime Frequencies entity, a label devoted to compilations of world music that the Bishop brothers had obtained through field recordings and other questionable means over the last 20 years. A label that has already taken off im some circles with chronicles of street and radio music from Bali, Syria, Libya, India and much more delivered as alien radio transmissions and brain scrambled aural collages. I strongly suggest further investigation if ya wanna know the what-fer in terms of world dance parties and spiritual possessions. I guess this all suggests that the Girls' presence in the underground is vast and constantly evolving to the point that it's a self consuming ouroborus of aural enlightenment the likes of which the world has never really known before. Just how does one describe the full frontal assault that is the Sun City Girls, anyway? Carefully, and possibly while not in a cogent state of mind. The Sun City Girls are a trio that derives its sound from bombed out, stumbling garage rock; the free jazz rumble and clatter of Sun Ra; the twisted jazz punk of Captain Beefheart, along with tons of ethnic music embellishments from Europe, the Middle and Far East, but as with any great mysterious cult group (Residents, early Eno, Velvet Underground, Negativland and the Bonzo Dog Band among them), a healthy sense of irreverence dominates the proceedings. The Frogs, who SCG's shared a split single with, are another touchstone. It should also be noted the brothers Bishop were in a band that featured Mo Tucker in the early 80s called Paris 1942. In other words they're firmly ensconced in the American underground substrate, and have never really come up for air. No buzz bin videos in their past. No fluke hits. Respectable, but the resultant brain damage due to this continuous lack of oxygen has left its debilitating mark. Given the relative subversiveness of their live shows and album covers (such as a photo of the trio in full terror regalia holding instruments as their trusted weapons), that's probably a good thing. To fully appreciate what the Sun City Girls have to offer requires stepping back a bit from the lunacy of it all and viewing their procession of strange sounds (and images) through a panethnic filter where Monty Python's brand of sardonicism has the firmest grasp of our world understanding. In other words, don't take shit so seriously and you'll be fine.

With all this and more in mind, my friend and I hit Emos early that cold Friday night with high hopes, but the place was empty. A worried guitarist in the noise/psych unit Rubbles is fearful of a weak turnout. My friend and I decide to head over to a place called Lovejoys and drink coffee and baileys and other alcohollically tinged concoctions to keep our itchy throats warm. He notices the fluctuating timbers of the constant drone of the crowd noise, a kind of mass verbal improv that everyone's noticed at one point or another, and suggests I record it next time I'm in town. Smart guy. We then spend 15 mins discussing the best place to put the mic, settling on a high book shelf not too far from the front door. We hit Emos just in time to catch the beginning of Rubbles, sadly and surprisingly missed Weird Weeds. Rubbles are pretty incendiary though, with members of Tex psych punk luminaries the Butthole Surfers, Ash Castles and the proprietor of Emperor Jones Records among its ranks. They make a throbbing clamor that's a pure aural bombardment for a good 40 mins or so. Mid 80s Sonic Youth, Primordial Undermind, even the Swans come to mind. Painful to behold at extreme volumes, yet Rubbles are capable of instantly transforming the entire club into a canted framed, strobed out, acid zombie freakout. The disorienting light show compliments the messiness of it all. They play their set behind a white sheet as various images are projected onto it.

During the Rubbles set I say hola to Alan Bishop, who suggests we're in for a good show. And we are. The SCG's have covered an absurd amount of ground in their 23 years. Their albums range from trashed out cover records to extended acid streaked journeys through Dante's Inferno (centered around the the husky demonic croon of Gocher), Malaysian sound collages, art-farty punk, free jazz, ethnic surf rock and more. Things start with Rick Bishop molesting his guitar at obtuse angles, fingers climbing up and down the neck like a double jointed spider as various skewed notes trail from amps in spherical ribbons of fully malformed jazz. Then enter Alan and Charles on bass and drums, their timing down to the millisecond as the trio jumps, whoops and jerks with a cohesion reserved for single body masses. It's not really possible to list album titles, but a lot of stuff from the Carnival Folklore series (some of which was reworked/rereleased versions of older material) was in there. Throughout Alan Bishop would assume any number of characters and cast all sorts of demonic incantations in the form of "angry Arabic street vendor" or a "possessed Balinese witchdoctor" that proved feverish, spontaneous and perfectly choreographed. In between the more typical ethno punk clatter, the trio would fall back in on themselves in warped lounge jazz cuts, during which Gocher would come out from behind his kit and don his twisted lounge singer persona. Later on, during a particularly evil sounding collision of downtuned Sabbathian sludge and Arabic chanting, Bishop reveals that he's wearing a tee with everyone's favorite world terrorist threat on the cover, but my favorite part might just be later in the show, when all three began cursing and yelling, each in his own nonlinear babble-verse where at various points familiar SCG characters and demons would materialize, but I was mostly lost in the layered effect the three mad men held together... Hilarious and fucked up, they all may as well have been shouting "Yes, we are weird" in multiple languages, some of which were probably invented on the spot. If anything really surprised me it was the fierceness of their attack. There was pretty much no let up during their almost two hour set, but I was never less than enthralled at any time. My Sun City cherry hath officially been decimated. I do not mean to suggest that the SCG's lampoon other ethnic cultures, more that they have a deep fascination with and empathy for these so called primitive religions and use this in their performance as a kind of theater of the absurd and a serious spiritual comment on the world today, which they might liken to the Kali Yuga of Hindu lore in spiritual terms.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A John Peel video interview from two years ago that can be viewed with real player. The Datsuns were supposed to moderate, but showed up realy late or not at all. An informative visit with the man and the myth, including a reference to disembowling George Dubya Bush, "the most dangerous man on the planet."

Monday, November 08, 2004

"Journey to the Center of the Eye"
(Dream Nebula/Eclectic)

This issue of “Journey to the Center of the Eye” is possibly a shameless attempt at squeezing a few more dollars out of the Krautrock revival circuit. It features a kooky SACD 5.2 Surround Remix layer, meaning that you can throw this on any SACD ready DVD player (probably not as hard as it sounds) and listen in surround sound. Of course I don’t have surround sound, but my square friend down the road sure does, and the price is more than fair. It’s comparable to when the Flaming Lips’ “Zaireeka” came out, and you always had to plan a big Zaireeka freakout hours in advance, complete with 4 different stereos to get the full quadraphonic effect going. Nektar isn’t even German in the first place, but it’s a common misconception. These English had been jamming about in the same scene that originally bore the Beatles, and after them the Monks and you know the rest. All the psychedelic cross cultural pollination (including meeting and playing with the one and only Vangelis) nourished the combo’s psych bombast in a complimentary way as their music became increasingly more demented.

There is a “Prelude” as their often is with any righteous prog classic. It segues into the fantastic “Astronaut’s Nightmare,” a barrage of archaic organ and building percussion that blasts off as feral psych jamming in the Amon Duul II/ early King Crimson vein. Taff Freeman’s organ throughout is phenomenal in battle with Roye Allbrighton’s metallic/acid guitar squalls. There’s even a “21 Century Schizoid Man” styled fuzz box on the vocal. This gives way to the ethereal melotron-laced instrumental “Countenance,” erupting with charging guitar trills at the finale. Next up are a couple more instrumentals which deftly combine familiar psych traits and pure head ringing in a production that’s about as lysergically charged as anything I’ve heard from 1971.

Throughout this album there is cohesion, from the loose theme of a larger concept to its classical suite-like structure. It all flows together to tell some larger cosmic adventure exploring the looming question of nuclear war and more—not such a far cry from what you Black Sabbath and Necronomicon’s were singing about ‘round then. But there is often a pop appeal too, summed up nicely in the bonus inclusion here of the first Nektar single, “1-2-3-4” b/w “Do You Believe in Magic?” (not the Lovin’ Spoonful song). The former is a funky slice of prog pop with “do-do-do” harmonies, and the latter easily achieves singalong, toe-tapper status, which they would explore more incessantly on later albums, such as the underrated “Down to Earth.” No real surprise then that this debut comes highly recommended to those who can’t get enough of first wave krautrock and acid tainted Brit invasion lunacy. It’s basically what one might expect from a British band formed in Germany in 1969, and that’s anything but predictability. I’ll have to get back re that whole Dolby Surround thing.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Rock of Ages

Homestead and Wolfe
"Our Times: The Gold Star Tapes 1973-75"
(Anopheles Records)
Mom once suggested I should try meeting a girl at church. Not surprisingly, I responded with something like, “No way, I’m cool! I need to meet girls at record stores or on college campuses.” But I also knew that she was onto something. There is a certain caliber of individual found among the hallowed halls of religion: gals with their heads on straight and their hearts in the right place. Yet choosing the right one can be so damn hard. It’s not as easy as picking a new world leader. You might pull the mother of God. You might snag a frigid schoolmarm with designs of bringing the final judgment down on your ass. Something like “Our Times” swings the pendulum back towards the sanctity of (good ol’) homespun American church values with its breath of warm air and soulful, cascading melodies.

Homestead & Wolfe is comprised of members of a church congregation, and their sole album, recorded from '73-75 and privately released in '75, is not your typical Holy Roller choral affair. It’s the music of a rock band, and, yes, a pop band. There are hints of folk and country in there too, as well as other influences. Formed by Ernie Bringas (onetime member of early '60s singing duo The Rip Chords, then youth minister of the Good Samaritan United Methodist Church in Cupertino, California, located at the intersection of Homestead and Wolfe), this ensemble is that rarest of blessings—a hobby band that’s also an exercise in melodic song craft of the highest order. The nine songs that comprise the original release of this hidden treasure are remarkably accomplished, literate slices of wry social observation and haunting musical eloquence cast as homespun folk pop.

The truth is this is not amateurish at all. This is not the Langley Church Project. Bringas had connections and realized that his “band” was more than just a weekend gig, so he took them to Gold Star Recording studios in Hollywood, the same place where the Beach Boys and tons of others, including a younger Bringas, had recorded many a sweet soulful melody. He took full advantage of the opportunity and used seasoned session players, though they were always performing songs that the band had written along with their own harmonies, based on the vivid arrangements of Joanne Avery. The mastery displayed here is largely thanks to the depth of Avery’s voice and vision, but this is also the work of a unified, capable musical ensemble, informed by experienced leadership and a sense of exploration that is practically dead in mainstream pop music today. I wasn’t so sure of all of the above till I listened to the first half of this album a good seven times all the way through without interruption.

“Slow Down” is a timeless bit of AM pop perfection where every instrument is given full room to breathe and interact. Janice Gundy’s resonant lead vocal is simply a joy to behold over a melody that’s familiar and neatly arranged, yet always maintains a warmth indicative of productions of the era. The guitar, bass, percussion, organ and harmonies of this track could not be more perfectly induced, while Jay Dee Maness’s constant, ethereal presence on pedal steel perfectly straddles the tightrope between maudlin excess and haunted tonal poetry. “Love Comes Through My Door” features another rush of heart-wrenching pedal steel and heaven sent harmonies to powerful effect. These songs are timeless, and the performances are pretty much flawless. Same goes for the bouncy “King of the Mountain,” a more obviously religiously themed piece, but never do these folks leave the realm of artistic expression behind to push forward some agenda. It seems the overriding themes of Homestead & Wolfe are love, tolerance, inclusion, devotion, and even a healthy sense of cynicism—the obvious result of trying to live the good life in America circa 1974. The gut-wrenching “If I Never Show” is a fine illustration. Over a bed of dripping pedal steel, finger picked acoustic guitars and no percussion, Avery sings, “the drums now are silent / the prophets are few / the streets all are empty / where marchers came through” as the opening to a painful letter to a lover lost to combat. Sandy Denny could not have done it any better. “See the Children Die” on the other hand is recounting of Wounded Knee told with tense emotion and unflinching honesty, performed with real eloquence. The piece builds with a lone tom and shaker, the pulse of Native tribalism. Over this, guitar and electric piano mimic a surreal cavalry call. Janice Gundy’s slightly deeper alto perfectly conveys the grim details with a depth that has me once more reaching for Sandy Denny and Karen Carpenter for comparisons.

Nestled alongside all these more obvious traits is a general datedness that could feed a tendency to mock or dismiss such a seemingly square ensemble. For reasons outlined above, that would be a detriment, but without question there are a few moments that could and maybe even should arouse a chuckle or two. Take the springy chorus harmonies on “Your Freedom’s in Question.” I know what you’re thinking, it’s a song about the ongoing struggle for the soul of man, and it is! But it’s also a fierce indictment against Nixon and the Watergate era wrapped up as equal parts roots country pop and flailing post Who psych pop. It’s an amazing piece of work by any stretch of the imagination. And “Beat of the Drum” is a blatant bit of mid/late 60s garage psych archeology that has to be heard to be believed. Closer “Mary Jane,” about the lure of pot and other illegal substances, rightly combines a sense of stoned bliss with cautionary lyrics about the grim junkie lifestyle.

All of this comes courtesy of Anopheles Records out of San Francisco, a label that till now was mainly known for fucked up garage psych and an excellent live album by Australian art punks, Venom P. Stinger. Homestead & Wolfe seem to stick out like a sore thumb in such a roster, but in truth they are a band who played for themselves, for the love of a good song, and they didn’t really care what anyone else thought but maybe their friends and family. So, if you like the names mentioned above, and Gram Parsons, or the Byrds, or Nagisa Ni Te, give “Our Times” a spin or three.--from a forthcoming update of Foxy Digitalis.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I'm pretty bummed currently. I'm not really a very politically motivated sort of guy. Can't stand know-it-all lunkheads on either side of the aisle, but lately, it's been impossible not to have some opinions, hopes and fears about this country and the world. Kerry was not really my knight in shining armor, but in the end he struck me as a good enough guy, a real enough person, right down to his somewhat screwball approach on the campaign trail. What lacked in flare or so-called scruples was made up for with passion, integrity and intensity. And his wacko wife would've made the coolest first lady in decades. He was finally emerging from his self-spun cocoon of mega rich career politicking as someone who could actually be a world leader, but it was too late. Maybe he never did have a real chance. Maybe the idea of real choice in America today is mostly an illusion. One starts to think, when someone like Eminem floats a fast ball like "Mosh" right over the plate and P-Diddy's coercing da mutha fuckin yooth vote on MTV, maybe a little compassion can prevail on a world scale. Maybe some reverberations can be felt right here in our communities, and our own fucked up inner cities.

In the end the same production values that make something like MTV such a cultural force to be reckoned with came back to bite its favorite political party on the ass. This year, it was all about the Republicans. Their machine was bigger, their support broader, their drama more dramatic, their hearts apparently deeper(?). Since when is the party of your father and other oil tycoons the party of the heart? It's what the US media says, with images of Dubya standing strong, shoulders wide, nostrils flared like John Wayne in "Stagecoach" as he spurns on his bold warriors. And there's talk of "the glow" that apparently comes with meeting the man. I never did, so I can't confirm or deny. Thing I'm getting at is this: Apparently everyone's favorite dumbass (which is actually a carefully orchestrated persona that has made Dubya a highly accessible and electable man to yr typical bumfucked JimBobs of the world--ie those who elected the man) has a real knack for making people feel a kind of awed reverence when he meets them. He is literally John Wayne with a direct link to God. And people blindly trust it. They trust a man who continually invokes the name of God, missing the point that he's exploiting a deity to justify his own agenda, just as certain suicide bombers are doing halfway around the world. It's OK for him to do it though. He's invoking the name of our God. I'll never fully comprehend the duplicity of asking God to bless a people as you order one group to go slaughter another. Why bring His name into it at all? God bless those who live a life without ever having to take another. God help those who don't. Never more than now have I been so ashamed of my country's obsession with image, facade, violence and greed.

Yet, as any right leaning financial conservative will tell you, America--leader of the "free world"--must come first at a time of such peril. People must die, hopefully just not on our soil. I'm surrounded by republicans of every stripe where I live, and I actually welcome it. The bombardment of skewed opinion and good old fashioned hate keeps me on my toes. 'Course there are democrats like that too, fools bent so far to the left they come back spinning around on the right.

What became really important following March of 2003, and why something as obviously biased and quasi-fictional as "Fahrenheit 9/11" is an essential blip on the national consciousness, is we need to be critical of our leaders. We have to scrutinize their every action and denounce scumbags like Bill O'reilly and those of his ilk every chance we get. We need to realize that every piece of information received is contextual and biased, for obvious and human reasons. Al Jazeera does not support the violent overthrow of our society, but it does pray we leave their homeland, and it even goes so far as to air opinions by those who wish to see America destroyed. It's free press, the American constitution in action. Love it or hate it, deal with it. In the coming years these scattered, "radical" opinions will only multiply and converge as our military might in the region becomes stronger. "Wiping them all out" will not solve the problem. History has taught us the best way to overthrow a nation is not with force, but with the media and subtle mind control in the guise of the looming specter of FEAR on the horizon. It worked in America, I'm sure it could work in Iraq.