Saturday, August 26, 2006

What?? Worldview Blather?!!

I've been delighting over Steven Colbert's White House Press Corps monologue, just a totally balls on presentation, less than 15 feet away from President Bush, with great admiration.

I also saw Ann Coulter get her smarmy 'beguiling' ass handed to her by ANOTHER attractive blonde who decided that Coulter had said something so incredibly stupid, it bordered enough on depraved to ignore her for the rest of a televised interview segment.

Now I've received the following short piece sent to me by my boy, Ralph Carney, and it appears, having been stimulated above and beyond the sports section (a really shitty one in Akron anyway) I thought my response to him worthy of my inflated sense of self, now printing the note he sent, followed by my articulate, timely, and sensitive response:

The Noble Palestinian Savage?
by Acharya S
I've tried to stay out of the neverending mess in the Middle East, as
it just seems so futile and useless to take a stance. Historically
speaking, neither side is right or wrong, so no one has any clear claim
on the territory, which at first glance seems to be at the heart of the
struggle. The fact is that very few countries or nations can claim that
they were not founded using force, slaughtering and displacing the
previous inhabitants, who themselves often had massacred the previous
inhabitants. Hence, the argument that Israel has no right to exist
because it was founded upon violent displacement of previous
inhabitants is as ridiculous as stating that America or Australia, et
al., ad nauseam, have no right to exist because of their similar
foundings. In other words - and I do not say this lightly, because I am
no fan of "Zionism," whatever that term may mean - Israel has as much
right to exist as does any other nation, based purely on the aggressive
state of human history.

Now, I know well that it is quite fashionable in some quarters to
champion the Palestinian cause, as, surprisingly, Jewish-owned or
operated media around the world take the "bleeding heart liberal"
perspective, which finds a ready audience in aging and vocal hippies.
Don't get me wrong - I find all the violence and bloodshed to be
despicable and abhorrent, to the point where, if I really inspected it,
I would blow chow. It has always been my fervent wish that human beings
would just stop fighting - in other words, cut it out already! It is
for this reason that I continually stick my neck out and roundly
criticize and condemn diviseness of religion as so much deleterious
dementia. As far as I am concerned, no religion is "the one and only
truth," and most, in fact, border on retardation. For the purposes of
this essay, however, I will not go into great detail about my
criticisms of religion, as they can be found all over my website, my
blog, my forum, my discussion groups and in my books.

All that having been said, with what I know about the Palestinian
culture, which isn't a great deal but which is significant, I have to
scratch my head at the fervent liberal perspective that demonizes the
Israelis and angelizes the Palestians. In reality, both sides have
behaved badly, and neither should be exonerated - which means that the
Palestinian culture is not without its serious blemishes that need to
be pointed out and condemned. Nay, "blemishes" is much too gentle a
word. Horrors is more applicable, in fact. Well, what on Earth am I
talking about? And why, if I am correct, are not more people bringing
it up in the mainstream media? Why are women's groups in particular not
harshly condemning these horrors? These are good questions that can
only be answered by the fact of the basic human capacity for denial.

Now me -

I've never been a student of this, and have thus fostered what are pretty standard issue opinions of what's going on in the world, specifically for the sake of this diatribe, the middle east. As a pretty secular, "enlightened" Jew, I'd adopted the view that it's a totally unreasonable and ugly position for the Israelis to take that it made all the sense in the world to fight, bleed, kill and die for a homeland, and yet is unreasonable and to be resisted at all costs when The Palestineans look for same.

Now... there are arguments that 'Palestinean' does not describe a tribe of people so very bound together by religion, a region, AND culture for over 5000 years and thus are not so very, very entitled to a sliver of the sliver that is Israel.

I also know that an Israeli, while being intelligent, often quite Western, erudite and sophisticated, sadly, can have all these qualities co-exist with a worldview carved out of living in a place where every country around you and many who live in your very own country, have historically wanted to drive you into the sea and commit genocide upon you as a people, chronically setting off bombs, chopping heads, and killing your family, declaring some sort or another war upon you as a people... this all in the face of a holocaust that proved that the absolute extreme of evil CAN take place.

So, if all this can explain why the Israelis, as a people, might be aggresive and less than warm and fuzzy as they face their paranoia and occasional leanings towards psychosis, this profile of a people something we can't process, well... I looked to my friend Daria, an Israeli of priveledge, an army vet like everyone there, who's lived in NYC for years and years, one of a few trusted to use that alchemic mix of artistry and chemistry to restore priceless art works. So lets assume a bit of refinement. She tells me she thinks that what's going on in Lebanon was stupid, and simply someone in power in Israel finally just getting a little too pissed off and acting without Israel's characteristic strategic prudence and precision, a recipe for disaster. Her husband, my business partner, a New England educated American actually sees it as someone in power justifiably saying "Enough!" to a constant stream of violent and heartbreaking deaths perpetrated by... and here I'll yield to my lack of education and follow through in this area... 'people' who simply need to be stopped, or at the very least, forcibly made to pause and reflect on the consequences of these actions.

Looking at things in broad brush strokes, if dieing means nothing (or conversely, a positive 'everything') to these people, then why not just wipe them all out? Fact is, living means a lot to many of them, so this wholesale attack, the killing of all sorts of 'civilians,' a murky definition unto itself, should yield some sort of internal pressure from those who want to live out their lives peacefully placed on those who are wearing plastic explosive vests. Looking at it that way, of course, makes the 'normal' folks softies, and the suicide warriors the bullies, thus the dominant force, making the big bombings and killing perpetrated by Israel pretty much useless.

Then there was Jimmy Carter who spoke to the Muslims in the Middle East in the only way he could, or should have, as a compassionate, intelligent rational person.
This was perceived by his adversaries (the people holding the hostages) as weakness.Where all this leads me, the simpleton, is in the direction of the old school of isolationism. I think we need to understand, particularly now, given the effective might of the U.S (that was written facetiously, btw), that in 2006 we are no longer capable of effectively being the world's police force, probably never having been really, as we always face the conundrum of 'enforcing laws' that are arrived at case by case, subjectively, by a random group of policy makers, with a variety of motives, and clearly, a really limited understanding of the cultures we're dealing with.

And if we DO understand the cultures we're dealing with , we should already know that what we're trying to accomplish is simply not possible. But it's hard breaking the habit of being an Imperialist.

So should we continue to support Israel who will get into skirmishes doing things we would generally consider 'reprehensable' yet in the face of other aggressors who operate even moreso with the 'gloves off?'

So easy to just say, "They're all nuts. Let 'em kill each other off and be done with it!"

But that would be wrong.

The Empire, 'tis crumbling.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Aging Out

Just got an e-mail from a rock writer pal who was responding to birthday wishes. Along with everything else he wrote:

Thanks man. Yeah, I guess I'm older -- I used to love the Dead Boys, now I can barely listen to 'em (blasphemy, I know) unless I'm in the right mood. Just not that pissed off anymore.

I then went on a ‘deep thoughts’ exposition, and, just in case it’s actually entertaining to some of you, I’ll share:

When I play a punk (or any really, really aggressive) tune, I still get carried off, intense, and flooded with (often smug-flavored) testosterone.

Notwithstanding my ability to froth, sneer and revel at my advanced vintage, I really believe that there are types of music that along with everything else they do, appeal to, or trigger something in people of an age where hormones are still raging, or at least flowing down the rapids in plentiful supply... which biologicaly links with another theory, one generational, that may have been explored by bigger thinkers, and better writers than I, but since they didn't do so on THIS blog:

When you're flat out unhappy with yourself about something, you are most likely to be in your worst mood, and meanest to those who care about you, aka those with whom you can GET AWAY WITH NASTY SHIT most easily. Point here, is that many to most young people while certainly formed enough to be aware of it, are still not yet certain of the security of their present or future. Frustrated by not already knowing they want to be doctors or lawyers, or worse, WANTING to be something that they are, at this point, uncertain they'll be able to accomplish becoming, trading almost exclusively in futures, which are, by definition very uncertain, these younguns dwell in extremely unsettling territory on pretty much a 24/7 basis.

Angry, aggressive music provides a very real way to channel a lot of frustration and anger, a profound need filler for people who are at a time of their life where those emotions are inherently going to be in abundance. This then, would also help to explain the incendiary appeal of Gangsta and the popularity of thrashing along to Metal.
So while we always hate to experience the passing of our youth, this is one where I think it not only a cultural passing, but also a physiological one, an actual flow of the chronological fabric of our lives... one, of course, that takes a while to define itself. After all, it's been suggested my generation of males rejects the idea of aging past 19 well into our 30s. I suspect I carried some of that notion past 40, and am currently thinking about how I've managed to come to this point where I feel like a much less flexible but really spry 50 something.

But 50 is NOT the new 30, unless you're a 30 year old chronically experiencing the morning after spending the day carrying around your car on your back. But otherwise... Kick Out the Jams, Motherfuckers!!

Speaking of Dead Boys: I have a friend who went back to his school as a guest Prof., probably going bacj 15 years or so, who decided to be edgy and cool and impress his students by referencing one Jello Biafra. He was met with dead stares causing his hair to come out in clumps and a serious craving for an Early Bird Special Liver and Onions with applesauce. The interesting thing is that this anecdote is probably being met by the blog-reading equivalent of a dead stare by many of you right now. Well you’re on the internet, right? Google ‘Dead Kennedys’ K?

Monday, August 14, 2006

No time! No time! No time!

Let’s see… last post over a month ago. What happened?? Or should I ask “Wuz been happenin’??” Let’s see:

Well, first there was nothing to really write about, then we (Half Cleveland) were rehearsing and playing these gigs in NY and NJ(report on these shows published now at

I stayed in NY for a couple more days to help out Comrade Chris with his shoulder surgery.

Came home, for one day, then headed out for a long weekend to Chicago to celebrate my granddaughter Ellie’s 2nd Berfday.

Came home and prepped for turning our house into a recording studio as friend, engineer/producer Bruce Hensel came up from Florida and along with fellow Half Cleveland… um… ers Bob Ethington and Debbie Smith, with an assist from Black Key Dan Auerbach, recorded most of three new tracks.

Major thanks to equipment contributors Chris Butler, Michael Aylward, David Stevenson, and Roxanne from Audio Technica!!!

Major thanks to Bruce for his truly gifted ears and sensibility, and giving me the opportunity to record in the most comfortable of places.

Major thanks to my Premium rhythm section and smart folk Debbie and Bob for their wonderful playing, encouragement, clearing their calendars for me, and being talented and smart enough that I could trust looking to them for thumbs up and thumbs down.

Oh, and again, major thanks to Dolli for exhuming me from my musical burial ground lo those many years ago, and then Ralph Carney for exhuming Tin Huey.

Which brings us to this weekend… Happy Birthday Dolli!!

All the above while paying bills, and doing stuff for Gold Teleproductions in NY, aka the day job aka my allowance.

So while a profound thought here and there may have come and gone, there’s been no time to really deal.


I kept saying that I needed to record my song Lazy Boy, as I think it’s pretty good and didn’t want to keel over (which happens to men my age with a sort of bothersome frequency) without having something close to a definitive version of it recorded.

So with the exception of ‘keeper’ vocals, maybe a redone loop track more in tune, and a mix, it seems we did so between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning,

So Friday, of course, I wake up at 4-4:30 AM, go pee (a good pee), take a sip of water and roll back into a sweet sleep. Just before 5AM I am pulled out of my slumber by a horrible gripping pain that blooms right where my left kidney is supposed to dwell. This is a bad pain, an absolutely unrelenting pain, something I’ve not experienced in years, and NEVER without a reasonable explanation or warning of any nature.

I hang in like the mensch I am for about 5 minutes, then wake Dolli up to tell her I may be in trouble. I sit on the toilet, I get on my knees, I try to lay down, I stand up and lean. While I go through this, Dolli is looking up my symptoms on Web MD. She tells me I might have cold sweats (which I do, but assume it’s because I’m panicking). She tells me I might throw up (which I do, but assume it’s because I’m panicking). The symptoms apparently are for a kidney stone, something they can’t really do much about, but then again, it’s only a web site.

I try to wait it out and watch it pass, but it doesn’t. It feels like I have a rotting kidney, an impacted bowel and a urinary tract infection all at once. I take a couple little brown pills (that turn your pee orange) for urinary tract stuff and we both begin to dress because, as almost an hour has passed and there’s been no relief, it seems like I should go to the hospital now.

As Dolli gets ready, I take the pups out to do their thing as we know not how long Dolli might be at the hospital with me. As they romp and do their biz, I think two things:

1) So this is it. My time has come and this is the painful ass form it’s taking. How about that?

1a) I look up and, oddly, DON’T pray for help, but simply offer up a thanks for everything, and think...
1b) ... never should have recorded that goddamned song, and

2) There will now be holes and tubes in me, holes that were never before in my body. How depressing is that?

Walking back to the house with the dogs hurt more than I had thus far this fine morning. We wrote a note to producer Bruce, who was staying at the house, took all the phone numbers we’d need, as Dolli crated the pups I removed the house key from my ring to leave for Bruce, then, deciding which car to take (mine), we closed up and left for the hospital.

As we drove I began to notice that I was a little less uncomfortable and wondered, to both Dolli’s and my amusement, if it was like a little kid in a car, the vibrating soothing my infant beast. I also wondered if physically NOT focusing on only one thing was simply helping with pain management.

We stopped and got some gas (of course) at the BP in the valley, then continued on our journey to my sad, sad ER destiny. After driving maybe a mile or so further on Merriman Road, it dawned on me that I seemed to no longer be hurting. As I have been a strong proponent of the theory that humans get themselves into trouble by adapting and assimilating to a fault, I was dubious, so I asked Dolli to pull the car over. I got out, stretched, walked, bent, moved around, and got back in the car with the profound and grateful declaration:

“Let’s go home.”

So we did.

Chapter 2: Chagrin

I alit from the car, as did Dolli, and as we approached the slumbering house it dawned… no key!! Dolli had thought the key on the counter belonged to our house sitter, Stephanie. We had only taken my keys because that was the car we drove. We were locked out. So… the guy that just minutes before was destined to go into shock and die in the waiting room at Akron City Hospital’s Emergency Room got up (euphorically, may I note) on one of those little green plastic lawn tables and, contorting himself, of course, squeezed through the smallish kitchen window, unlocked the back door and took his wife back to bed.


9AM Dolli gets up and makes an appointment with the Doc for 1:45. Harv gets up, Bruce gets up, we start recording, Harvey telling his newest anecdote to anyone who will listen. My doc tells me it might have been that stone Dolli read about, but it was highly unusual for the episode to last that short a time. Debbie suggested it was the Evelyn Wood method of passing a stone. Maybe a back spasm. Urine samples were taken, things were said, promises made – maybe the stone had moved into my bladder, to be passed at a later date.

“What happens then?”
“You pass it.”
"What do I do when that happens?”
“You pass it.”
“So in other words I scream, try to not faint and pass it, right?”
“I’ll be on call this weekend.”

So I guess there’s been plenty of activity, and I have a vague recollection of profound things striking me in the gaps, but they’re ghosts at the moment. I go to NY on Tuesday, come back Wednesday and think it’s just going to keep going for a while, so it may be a while yet here before another update.

I just got a call from the Doc saying that my urinalysis came out negative. Great. Still... can't wait for 'nothing' to happen to me again, y'know?