Jul. 24, 2013

"... Let's tell them America is open for business."
(President Obama, July 24, 2013 at Knox College, Illinois)

That is somewhat true, but not really.

"We need a longterm plan" he said at Knox College. The American people know that. What we really need is a guy/or gal go to the people murking up the waters and stare them down face-to-face until they blink first. Telling the American public "We need. We Need. We need" is not enough...

Go meet with Boehner and McConnell and actively MAKE them do their jobs. The House of Representatives only has 129 WORKING DAYS THIS YEAR. Unnaceptable. Eric Cantor is a disgrace. McConnell lies on a daily basis. Boehner lies even more. The Democrats are a mess also. They can't stop people like Darrell Issa from creating non-existing scandals (IRS non-scandal).

President Barack Obama has had nothing, but tricky minefields to maneuver his way through since January 20, 2009 when he first took the oath of office for his first term. It was that same night Republicans got together for dinner in Washington D.C. to map THEIR road to obstruction. Newt Gingrich attended that dinner and was a part of the planning.

Needless to say, they failed to defeat him in 2012, which was Mitch McConnell's mission as Senate Minority Leader.

What they have done is make it impossible to govern by mucking up the house with endless attempts to repeal Obama's landmark achievment of The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

On July 24 Mr. Obama took the stage at Knox College to deliver his roadmap for the rest of his term domestically. Obama scolded the House Republicans about the Debt Limit Ceiling and other issues and sequestration: "Washington just hasn't ignored this problem, Washington has just made it worse."

Obama deflected the sequester off on congress for going through with it, despite the fact that he himself had to suggest the possibility during the FIRST Debt Ceiling crisis. He was constitutionally strapped to have to sign the sequester never believing congress would go through with it.

Mr. Obama is in deep waters in this second term. The constant attempts to repeal Obamacare is starting to wear on him. Obama pointed out again that this legislation is actually help the economy.

"This needs to stop" he said regarding the phony scandals and obstructionism. This is important rhetoric, but will have to be backed up with action.

Decent speech, but now Mr. Obama needs to channel his inner "LBJ" and get congress to act, not just endlessly campaign TO the American people. Campaigning is Obama's wheelhouse.

I suggest calling a joint session of congress in an emergency-type of setting before one actually happens. Speak to these people and get them to work with you in front of the American people.

"We can fight back and win," he said.

A president CAN exert his/her will. They just need to have the balls to do it.

Jul. 19, 2013

"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago"
(Barack Obama, July 19, 2013)

President Obama made a surprise appearance in the White House Briefing Room on the Friday afternoon after the Zimmerman verdict. He came to talk about the Trayvon Martin case, but ended up making history as our first African American president. 

He made it personal, describing how he felt as a young man many years ago feeling ostracized and feared by whites. Obama laid it all out there saying how he has felt the glare of white people locking car doors when he walked by or white women clutching their purses in an elevator.

There it is. The Race Card. It was finally played in the context of the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict and the horrible "Stand Your Ground" laws in 21 states.

Mr. Obama noted that this could be a very different outcome had Trayvon Martin been of age and shot George Zimmerman because HE felt threatened. Yes Yes Yes. This is what the country needed to hear from this man.

This was the defining moment of Obama's presidency.

This was the dawning of a new age when America will need to "Wake The Fuck Up" to quote Samuel L. Jackson.

Obama pointed out that young African American males need to feel a sense of value. "How do we bolster and reinforce our young African American boys." Yes Yes Yes. Finally our black president is calling us all out for two centuries of racism overt and not so overt.

What a day.

I feel a lot better about my country and our government.

Let's see if America lines up and starts to change with this huge development.

Jul. 18, 2013

(Rollin' Stone...) Wanna see our pictures on the cover
(Stone...) Wanna buy five copies for our mothers...(Yeah)
(Stone...) Wanna see my smilin face
On the cover of the Rollin' Stone 
(Dr. Hook)

What does it mean to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone Magazine?

While it is true the magazine has always covered cultural issues of the day. We have seen Charles Manson, presidents, foreign leaders AND Justin Bieber and every other significant pop star.

The magazine has great writers like Matt Taibi and had the article that ousted General Stanley McChrystal from his high-ranking position in the Obama administration. There is no doubt, Rolling Stone serves a purpose to put ideas and news stories out there for a willing audience who loves to read the publication.

With all that said, putting a glamorous picture of alleged 19-year-old Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has sparked a journalistic debate. I personally feel the cover is in bad taste, but will concede if you read the article, the picture makes sense. The article is about a likeable and normal-seeming Americanized youth who did a bad thing.

Here is my main issue. I believe it is tasteless and insensitive to glamorize this young man. While he has plead "Not Guilty," there is a lot of evidence stacked up against him and he likely will never see the light of day as a free man ever again.

Rolling Stone wrote a great article, but completely lost a lot of people with the picture of Tsarnaev on the cover. Why not publish a picture of him in handcuffs, or shackles? Would that have sold LESS magazines? Wouldn't THAT image send a message that it is NOT okay to blow up Americans watching a marathon.

You decide. I just wanted to put that out there.

Apr. 27, 2013

“In and Out of the 1980’s Music Mainstream”
      (Marc Platt’s Vinyl Record Collection)

By Marc Platt

This is a project I have wanted to tackle for many years. I have hundreds of 1980’s vinyl LPs and 45 rpm singles from mainstream to indie alternative music. I will try to notate as much as I can and mention personal anecdotes that I have about many of these artists I had personal experience with in that decade.

Usually these trips down memory lane can bore people who have no interest in this subject. This is my own collection so my personal taste cannot suit everyone’s fancy, BUT I do have a lot of songs on samplers from that era, so I will try to mention as many as I can. I have had to re-listen to stuff I haven’t heard in nearly 30 years. It sounds the same, but different as age has taken over.

My trip through the 1980’s actually begins in 1979. Capitol Records released “Get The Knack” with much Beatlesque fanfare and hype. The Los Angeles music scene was beginning to take off for the first time since the Doors and Buffalo Springfield ruled the scene in the late 1960’s. The 1970’s spawned many singer-songwriter acts and The Eagles (from Los Angeles). New York had the Ramones and New York Dolls happening at points throughout the 1970’s. Blondie exploded in 1977-78. The Knack was just one of many L.A. acts navigating through the club scene. Their huge hit “My Sharona” had a similar rhythmic beat to the Plimsouls self-released “Zero Hour.” There was a lot of borrowing in those days and a lot of these bands had a similar sound and Power Pop flavor in the mainstream sound of Elvis Costello, The Police, U2  and The Pretenders.

There were plenty of mainstream acts continuing their dominance of the pop charts. So let me mention Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Madonna’s “Material Girl,” Springsteen’s “Born In The USA,” Tom Petty, Cyndi Lauper, Eurythmics, Blondie, Wham, Don Henley, Thompson Twins, Joan Jett, The Cure, INXS, Simple Minds, Elvis Costello & REM. I have vinyl for most of these artists, but want to focus elsewhere.

Let’s start with the Replacements from Minnesota. Never saw a better (and sometimes) worse live band than the ‘Mats.’ I remember playing pool with bassist Tommy Stinson. He was a lot younger than me, but had already by 1986, had tons more experience as a musician than I ever hoped to have. His late brother Bob was still in the band at the time. That Long Beach show was tremendous. Their records “Let It Be” and “Tim” are the two standouts for me. Love me some Mats anytime still.

The Plimsouls were my favorite LA band and many of my friends felt the same way. I was fortunate enough to become friends with all four original members and Peter Case produced my band in 1985-6. I was a lucky guy, who got to learn from Peter and meet so many famous and successful artists like Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, drummer Jim Keltner, T-Bone Burnett, guitarist James Burton, John Hiatt and Peter’s lovely wife at the time, Victoria Williams. This was the best education a 25-year-old-pain-in-the-ass ‘wanna be’ could ever get. I have tons of stories about these times, but that is for another piece. “Zero Hour” and “Million Miles Away” stand out as Plimsouls songs to listen to, if you haven’t yet done so.

Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Men’s Party,” the Weasels “Beat Her With A Rake,” Surf Punks “My Wave,” Droogs “Ahead Of My Time” & Furys (personal friends of mine) “Say Goodbye To The Blacksheep”  and 20/20’s “Nuclear Boy” stand out as early L.A. Power Pop and New Wave songs to check out. There are many notable live bands from that time like Rubber City Rebels, Carla Olson (friend) & The Textones, Gary Myrick & the Figures, Surf Punks and Weirdos.

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers ascended at this time. I was at the Roxy the night they headlined for the first time and debuted the glow-in-the-dark ‘Cock Socks.” The girls who danced onstage with the Surf Punks were very well endowed. It was actually gross, they were soooo biiiig. Oy veh. I want to forget that.

I used to follow bands around like the Boxboys (who became Cock Robin) and their ska counterpoints (and High school friends of mine) The Untouchables. On any given night you could see two or three legendary acts on the Sunset Strip like X, Blasters, Rank and File, Plimsouls, The Last, Leaving Trains or Los Lobos.

My old band the Real Impossibles opened for Rank and File at The Music Machine. We also opened a show at the same venue for The Dream Syndicate. We rehearsed in the same space as The Bangles, Concrete Blonde (when they were called Dream 6) and our good friends On The Air. We also hung out with great bands like The Cruzados (formerly The Plugz),  The Furys, The Long Ryders, Three O’Clock as well as countless unheralded long-forgotten LA Bands. There were GREAT club acts like The Moberlys, Balancing Act, House of Freaks, The Wigs, Divine Weeks (formerly The Need), Swinging Madisons (formerly the Mumps).

Los Angeles had GREAT girl bands like The Go Gos, my friends The Bangles (formerly the Bangs), On The Air (very underrated pop band), my good friends Wednesday Week  and The Pandoras, who were a grungy 60’s-psychedelic cavewoman act. They were fun and they were my pals also. If we didn’t play shows with these bands, we certainly followed them and were friendly with them. They were all pretty accessible at that time.

I loved British acts like the Waterboys and Katrina & The Waves, Joe Jackson and World Party. I bought their records and went to their shows. I saw dozens of Costello shows all over the southland. I saw The Replacements, Plimsouls and REM at Al’s Bar downtown L.A. I saw REM at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. I hung out with Elvis Costello at sound check for the Pogues at the Palace Theatre. His then-wife Caitlin O’Reardon was the bass player for that fabulous band. Elvis took a liking to me and invited me the NEXT DAY to Sunset Sound Studio.

I show up after work around 3:00pm the next day and Elvis sits me in the big chair right in the middle of the room and puts on “Little Palaces,” a beautiful song from “King of America” with just a mandolin and his voice: “Marc, what do you think of that mandolin?” I told him I loved the track and the mandolin. He said “Well I’ll leave it if you like it that much, despite the fact that I played it and I think it is MISERABLE.” I had many more experiences like that in the next 3 years. Like I said, a great education for an L.A. kid with a lot of music heroes.

I loved other great acts like Paul Collins Beat, Clash, Jam, The English Beat, The Pop, The Walking Wounded, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Lone Justice. I walked out on Guns N Roses at the Music Machine. I even walked out on my old pals Los Lobos one time during the Mariachi portion of their set.

There were some great New York acts like The Fleshtones and my friends The Dancing Hoods, who I would come to know and love over time.

I hung out a bit with Peter Buck from REM. I have a story about a party up at Peter Case’s Laurel Canyon house after Buck played “Million Miles Away” at Club Lingerie with Case’s band that night. I had been playing mandolin in a civil war band called the Horse Soldiers. I was boring the crap out of Buck telling him how great my new instrument was. Buck totally gave me a line…”It’s all about guitars, Marc. Rock and Roll is loud grungy guitars.” A few years later Buck would go on to win a Grammy Award for his mandolin-laced “Losing My Religion.” The next time I saw Buck and reminded him, he said “I guess I found religion in the mandolin.”

The Minutemen, Divynyls, Joan Jett, Missing Persons, Berlin, Rain Parade, Green On Red, Let’s Active, Williams Brothers, Guadalcanal Diary, The Feelies, Television and The Flamin Groovies all made an impact in the 80’s. Fear, Black Flag and The Circle Jerks (who we played an acoustic show with once….It is true..At the Lhasa Club. Phast Phreddie and thee Precisions, Trotsky Icepick, Rave Ups, Kimm Rogers, Patti Smith, Immitation Life, Danny Wilde, Semitwang, Walkabouts, Social Distortion, BoDeans, Wake, Point, Wedge and Atlanta’s Drivin’ and Cryin’.

I loved the Violent Femmes. Saw them twice. The Motels were great with Martha Davis. Their drummer Brian Glasscock was my band The Real Impossibles final drummer.

I loved rootsy bands like Boston’s Del Fuegos (Dan and Warren Zanes), The Lyres (also from Boston).  BUT my favorite roots band was The Blasters. These guys had the spirit of Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley in them. They were fantastic live. X was great live and on record.

My final anecdote concerns The Unforgiven (Spagetti Western twang sounding outfit). Gods gift to guitars (4 guitar players lined up on the stage). There was a bidding war in Los Angeles that started in late 1985. I knew a lot of the players at the labels. One night at the Music Machine, no less than 7 major labels showed up to see the band showcase. Elektra Records were the big Unforgiven sweepstakes winners. The record tanked, the hype machine in L.A. was never the same after that fiasco and the band quickly disappeared.

The music scene in Los Angeles was a main focal point for the labels when the Knack hit with “My Sharona.” They quickly signed most bands in L.A. in 1980, whether they were developed at all or not. The excesses of the 70’s with corporate rock were taking its toll on the business and CDs were overpriced and contained mostly crap songs to go with the single. The bell started chiming and now we have a non-existent machine to push music into the public eye. The consumers are on our own now and maybe that is for the better. Someday soon I hope we will figure out how to make a living from music and get people excited about what is out there.


Apr. 19, 2013

I go back to Clifton to see my old friends
The best people I could ever have met
Skin up a fat one, hide from the Feds
Something is changing, changing, changing
(Jake Bugg "Two Fingers")

England is producing right now. The Strypes are on the way via Elton John's management company, Adele is already here and now so is Jake Bugg.

Bugg, 19, comes from working class (father is a nurse, mother is in sales) and his background shines through in his music.

His nasel voice will take some getting used to by American audiences, but the influences really carry beautiful melodies and some gritty lyrics. I really love his attitude and simplicity. This is NOT a new form of music. It is rooted in folk/rockabilly and pop rock.

I truly believe Jake Bugg is about explode in the states and the world. He speaks to his generation. His generation needs a spokesman. Why NOT Jake Bugg? 

Check out "Slide." This is a beautiful ballad full of desperation and hope all wrapped up in one tidy statement "I've got autumn leaves and heartbreak dreams locked up inside/Cuz you and me on this frozen sea/We slide, slide." This is GREAT writing. The melody is equally beautiful Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_26R-YvogQ

Jake Bugg is the real deal. He will catch on here in America. Remember last December when I first told you about Bugg and the Strypes? Bugg is first. Please check the kid out.