10/30/2012 – tales from the clubhouse vol XVIII

The clubhouse survived hurricane Sandy.  We made sure to tie all of the bottles and cans down, and since I’ve been told my carvin amp isn’t worth anything, I just left it to the mercy of the storm. Since it weighs about 600 pounds I’m sorry to report it made it through the deluge unscathed….and as staggeringly loud as ever.

I made the mistake of watching CNN much of the day, and after 8 hours or so that weather guy there had me convinced a plague of locusts and a volcano were also about to crush the spirit of 60 million people. Jeez…..there’s a line between reporting what you think might happen, and gloating about it with bulging eyes and sharpened teeth. Next to this guy, Anderson Cooper playing in the Asbury Park surf (a surf that had reached the boardwalk, mind you) seemed downright elegant.

The boys in the band report only minor inconveniences, thankfully. There’s a lot of exhaling going on around here (if this thing had veered a bit more north I doubt I’d be writing this now)….but our hearts are with those in Jersey and New York and Maryland who were more than inconvenienced. The band has friends and family down there. I know Wiggy lived in Manhattan for a few years.

The band re-convenes to re-learn our songs in time for a show at WVIA studios on November 12th. It’s a live radio simulcast, so there’s no do-overs. I’ve got 2 new songs I wanna do, and Sunday night will be the first time we’ve all been in the same room together in over a month. During that down time I recorded a solo record called “Love and Streets” which I’d really like you to buy when it gets released in November.  Just me and my guitar. Eleven new songs. It’s very un-Shillelagh-like but then again the Shillelaghs record was very un-Flannery-like when it arrived. So at this point I’m alternating between loud and soft noises. But check the record out please. I’m proud of it. I think it’s worth the download. I’m assuming at this point that if you’ve taken the time to read this, you’ve already got your copy of “Teen Angst and the Green Flannel“. If you’re reading this and you haven’t bought the record yet, you are making me sad. So….you know….make me happy and stuff. You know what to do.

According to the latest polls, Romney and Obama are tied with a few days remaining until the election. This despite Romney polling at 0% among black voters and 20% among latino voters. Not sure what his numbers are with women, but taking into consideration his party’s creepy obsession with God’s Will and Legitimate Rapes and legislating the womb, I can’t imagine it’s very high. Maybe Mrs. Ronmey’s bridge club and a handful of Daughters of the Confederacy. What this can only mean is that there is a large contingent of very dumb white men out there…..determined to show that outsider in the White House who’s boss by voting against their own economic self-interests. Only in America.

Republicans caught a huge break with this hurricane. If the blackouts and the destruction keeps people from the polls, as it surely will, we kinda know what this means. And we all know who poor people vote for in large numbers. Republicans are surely going all out. Yesterday I saw, multiple times, 2 political ads on CNN. One warned that not voting Republican meant the United States was going to turn into a Stalinist police state, (and actually used Nazi photos to make its point) and the other was an incredibly racist ad showing a Mao Tse Tung-type, dressed in a futuristic Ahmadinejad-type jacket, in a big brother-type setting gloating over the demise of the US as a global power due to “tax and spend” policies….and then laughing about it as his minions did the same. It looked like something Charles Colson and Pat Buchanan would have put together after a major coke binge.

These fuckers are not subtle. Not only do they count on you being as intelligent as a gerbil, they actually assume it already. Please get off your ass and vote next week. And try to forget that corporate profits have tripled under Obama. Not sure why the money boys want a change. The only way Romney can treat them gentler than Obama is to give them a good reach around on live TV. Whatever…..truth is always stranger than fiction, and if it weren’t for fiction Paul Ryan would be a mute who can’t run a marathon.

Musically I’ve been on an R.E.M. binge and growing more and more sad that they split up. I can remember listening to “Reckoning” on my walkman back in 1985 when I was a freshman in college. I thought I had discovered the band all by myself, and had grown quite territorial. A classmate heard the jangle through the earphones and said, “I love R.E.M. man”. I was crushed. I had to share them. It helped when I learned that by 1985 they were already generating quite a buzz. I’d just missed it because I was too busy walking around with  headphones on. The walkman was miraculous to me. I could avoid people in plain sight now. I had left my copy of “Murmur” in the car and it sorta melted…so for years I listened to “Sitting Still” and “Catapult” at wildly varying tempos. Made R.E.M. sound like the tightest four guys in the world. And finally, something from the south that didn’t sound like it had barbecue sauce spilled all over it. My love affair with Peter Buck and his boys has lasted to this day. The fact that I knew guys myself who could play guitar better than Peter Buck made it all that much cooler. It could be done. Maybe a bit of that was filed away and came out with the Shillelaghs.

And I love their later records as much as their earlier ones….even though by the end they were selling probably as many as the Shillelaghs. To me they remain one of the greatest American rock and roll bands of all time. Their entire body of work is almost peerless. And just because it got overplayed doesn’t mean that “Losing My Religion” wasn’t the greatest pop song of the 1990s. Every once in a while something becomes monstrous because it’s great.

They never released a bad record. Not many can say that.

Ok….so that’s my R.E.M. rant for the day. I love Stipe’s answer when asked why they chose the name. “We like the dots”.

Somebody once told me that the Shillelaghs sounded like “Lifes Rich Pageant”-era R.E.M. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received.

In a bit..



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