Monthly Archives: August 2014

Cheap Bastards

That’s the upshot here: 

“Every freelancer deals with the stress of worrying that ‘If I ask for this expense to be reimbursed, are they going to stop working with me? Is there someone else out there willing to eat all their own costs and his work is good enough?'”

Peter’s concern that less experienced journalists are willing to report from hostile regions and demand less from budget-conscious news outlets is a very real one, says Smyth, given the shifting media landscape.

“What’s changed is that there is a shared interest between startups and aspiring young journalists to want to get news covered that wouldn’t otherwise be covered,” Smyth said.

“These aspiring freelancers just want to get published … so they can’t go to the outlet and say, ‘I want you to publish me and I want equipment, insurance, and training.’ The outlets will go to someone else.”

If freelancers were just getting shafted by “startups,” I don’t think I’d have as much of an issue as I do (though, if you can’t afford to protect someone in a war zone, you can’t afford to have someone in a war zone). I’ve seen freelancers get hosed by newspapers and magazines that have been around for decades, that have no excuse other than parsimoniousness.

And if you’re owned by Ariana Huffington, for example, you need to goddamn pony up.



SMV: Steve Winwood Live In 2004

Soul Week may be over, but I thought I post this Soundstage appearance by one of the best of the “blue-eyed soul” singers,  Steve Winwood:


Soul Week: Rock My Soul

As a grand finale, I’ve decided to flip this thing on its head. Ouch. I asked for some ideas for a post title on FB but none of them rocked or rolled. So, I settled on the title of an old Elvin Bishop song. So it goes.

Now where the hell was I? Oh yeah,  today it’s time to hear some soul singers sing rock and roll songs. I’ll skip the originals and get down to the nitty gritty with some sweet soul music.

First, Otis Redding kicking some serious ass at the Monterey Pop Festival with a Rolling Stones numbah:

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Weekend Question Thread

What would your dream house look like?

I go back and forth between “fabulous apartment with 360 view of the lake and a giant wine fridge” and “cottage in Ireland in the middle of the mountains with a sheep herd and whatnot.”


Soul Week: I Heard It Through The Grapevine

I originally planned to go more outside the box (a phrase I dislike but find useful) but this is too great a song and story to skip.

 “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966, and made famous by Marvin Gaye in a single released in October 1968 on Motown’s Tamla label.

Originally recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles in 1966, that version was rejected by Motown owner Berry Gordy, who told Whitfield and Strong to make it stronger. After recording the song with Marvin Gaye in 1967, which Gordy also rejected, Whitfield produced a version with Gladys Knight & the Pips, which Gordy agreed to release as a single in September 1967, and which went to number two in the Billboard chart. The Marvin Gaye version was placed on his 1968 album In the Groove, where it gained the attention of radio disc jockeys, and Gordy finally agreed to its release as a single in October 1968, when it went to the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart for seven weeks from December 1968 to January 1969 and became for a time the biggest hit single on the Motown label.

This is the second tune I’ve posted from the songwriting team of Whitfield and Strong this week. I have an easy explanation for this duplication: they were GREAT. In addition to GladysKnight and  Marvin Gaye’s versions, there have been quite a few outstanding rock versions. I’ve picked out two: one of which you’re certainly familiar with and the other not so much.

First, Gladys Knight & the Pips. I had a friend who always called them the pimps. I always wanted him to run into Ms. Knight tell her that and get slapped. It’s not much of a dream but it’s mine:

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Friday Ferretblogging


The magnificent Senorita TinyPet.


Cardinal Columns: Almost… Almost… Almost…

About six months after the Fond du Lac school district implemented a “censor them all, let God sort them out” policy regarding its student media, it appears the board of education has decided to act right.

According to at least two sources, the board met in a “workshop” earlier in the week and agreed in principle to a document that declares the publications of Fond du Lac High School to be public forums. This will essentially provide First Amendment protection to all of the media at the school, including the award-winning Cardinal Columns news magazine and Fondy Today, the school’s broadcast operation.

The policy is a one-year trial, with a few strings that could be problematic. Although the board did not include contingencies for the principal or any other administrator to approve of content prior to publication, it put in place a similar approval contingency on the adviser:

“Consistent with applicable law, the advisor may refuse to publish, display or post material that in his/her professional judgement (sic) is obscene, vulgar, profane, libelous, inconsistent with the educational goals of the District, is reasonably forecasted (sic) to disrupt the educational environment, advocates the use of drugs or alcohol, violates the District’s non-discrimination or other policies, violates the rights of others, violates any applicable state or federal law, or is unsuitable for its potential audience.”

It’s one of those things that could be horribly applied if the wrong person is placed in this role. That said, the read I get of the current adviser (Matt Smith) tells me the publication won’t have to worry much about the potential for adviser overreach. Still, keeping that one little spot in there could create legal liability for the district if something goes south on a published piece. That said, it’s a heck of a lot better than it was.

The board still has to approve the policy at an upcoming meeting, but their general meetings tend to be coronations and blessings more than actual public debate. This leads me to remain hopeful that this policy is on final approach to approval and that the kids will get what they have fought so hard for: The right to do good work in a censorship-free environment.

The bigger thing is that with a one-year trial, here are two concerns that need to be clearly highlighted:

First, knowing you are under the hammer tends to lead to a chilling effect. If you know you only have one shot to prove yourself, you’re going to be on your best behavior, sure, but you’re also going to be a little gun-shy. This is why it’s a lot easier to be yourself after 40 years of marriage than after 40 minutes of a first date. It’s that sense of trying to be more perfect than you actually are.

I have a sense that the kids are going to continue to do good work, but if there’s a story, a topic, a headline or whatever that looks a tad suspect, they might decide, “Hey, tie goes to the runner. Let’s let this be for now.” My hope is that they won’t and that they will remain just as fearless as they have been to get themselves to this point in the first place. However, I know my own behavior is representative of the same kind of chilling: When a cop pulls me over for going too fast, I spend the next six months going about 0.1 miles under the speed limit everywhere. Just in case.

Second, the board has to have faith. Several members have publicly expressed their concerns about the publication, how the kids aren’t “real journalists” and how they need “adult oversight.” I won’t bother to rehash all of these petty arguments, but I will say that they need to let go of this and let the kids figure things out as they go. If you want to give them a chance to learn, you can’t freak out every time something happens and try to grab control back. If they live in fear that you’re going to drop a hammer on them the instant you don’t like something, they’re going to make ten times more mistakes than if you left them alone. Don’t look at every iffy headline or controversial topic as a chance to freak out. Let the stuff run its course and see where it really goes.

Overall, however, this appears to be a really good step in the best possible direction. It took guts for this board to do this, as everyone was watching and there’s always a fear that if the board “gives in,” it could pave a path to hell. Still, as the board is watching the kids, everyone will be watching the board.

It should make for a very interesting school year.

Friday Guest Catblogging: Gonzo Is Watching

Meet Gonzo. She runs the show on Annunciation Street, and keeps a careful watch on her cat guardians Greg and Christy. Now she’s got her eyes on you:


Journalistic Passive Voice Part the 1,000th

Politico pretends to be stupider than they are, which is funny considering, you know, where the starting line is: 

The president’s aim was clearly to defuse building expectations that U.S. military strikes in Syria were imminent as part of a broadening drive to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. But his awkward choice of words to describe a policymaking process still in midstream seems likely to haunt him for some time.

“We absolutely know what is going on here, but we’re going to pretend we don’t, so that we can gossip like jealous little assholes, because that’s easier than working.”

The inartful phrase quickly went viral among right-leaning media outlets and Republican figures, pushing the White House into damage control mode.

DAMAGE CONTROL MODE ENGAGED. Virality! White House aides versus Republican “figures,” whatever the fuck those are.

White House aides immediately went online and on TV to argue that he was simply pointing out that he had yet to settle on new military options for a broader assault on ISIL that has already led to more than 100 airstrikes on the group’s positions in Iraq.

Has someone done “Politico bullshit jargon bingo” yet? If not, can y’all get on that please?


Soul Week: I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down


It was Declan MacManus aka Elvis Costello’s 60th birthday the other day. I remember when he was an enfant terrible who resembled Buddy Holly. Now he’s an elder statesman who looks like a rabbi. Anyway, here’s a belated get happy birthday to EC.

Back to soul week. I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down was written by Homer Banks and Allen Jones. It was first recorded in 1967 as a mid-tempo soul torch song by Sam and Dave. Elvis Costello and the Attractions really rocked it up when it popped up on-you guessed it-Get Happy in 1980. It’s always been one of my favorite early EC tunes. As lagniappe, I’ve posted EC and the Boss singing I Can’t Stand Up…on the former’s former Sundance chat show, Spectacle.

First, the Soul Men:

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Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Liar’s Office

From Album 5

To Protect and Self-Serve

In light of the murder of Michael Brown, the murder of Victor White is at long last receiving additional scrutiny, though the blue wall is still firmly in place…with an explanation that would be laughably absurd if not for the fact that a young man is dead.

Parish officials, including the coroner, insist that White, after being searched, charged with possession, handcuffed with his hands behind his back, and seat belted into the back of a police cruiser, somehow managed to produce an undetected handgun…and shoot himself.The autopsy, recently released, contradicts the initial police report that White shot himself in the back. It also notes abrasions consistent with being beaten. But…it still lists the cause of death as suicide.

Oh, by the way, otherwise unrelated (but not really unrelated), here’s a photo of Charles Beck in handcuffs. Beck, a film executive/producer, was falsely accused of participating in a Los Angeles robbery last week, and held for hours before officers got the bright idea to compare his appearance to that of the suspect on an HD security video. I dunno, but it sure doesn’t look like his handcuffed hands could do much of anything…

I suppose you could say we’ve advanced somewhat: if I remember, the killers of Emmett Till didn’t even bother to lie. But that’s a damn small step in a half century and hardly any comfort to the victims or their families. 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Suddenly


Frank Sinatra was on fire when he made Suddenly. He was hot off his Oscar winning performance in From Here To Eternity. Suddenly is an odd pulpy noir with Sinatra as the villain and Sterling Hayden as a small town Sheriff. Sterling rarely played cops except for crooked ones like Captain McCluskey in The Godfather. Btw, one thing that made me such a film noir fan was first seeing Hayden and Richard Conte in One and then in so many little gems from the Fifties on the teevee machine. All roads in my life that do not lead to The Sopranos lead to The Godfather. Where have you gone, Johnny Fontane?

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Soul Week: For The Love Of Money

For The Love Of Money is the song that Donald Trump uses as the theme song for his stupid teevee show, The Apprentice. It’s time to take this great Gamble-Huff-Jackson song back from Malaka Bad Hair. We’ll start off with the O’Jays burning down the house on Soul Train:

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Malaka Of The Week: ESPN

Those kooky kids at ESPN have been obsessed with the Michael Sam story. It *is* a helluva story but there’s a particular sub-plot that they cannot get enough of:

During a segment on “SportsCenter,” Anderson was asked how St. Louis Rams rookie defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, was “fitting in” with his teammates.

The reporter then relayed some observations from an anonymous Rams player, who said that Sam might be steering clear of the showers to avoid making his teammates uncomfortable. Langford and Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree, Anderson noted, said they hadn’t paid attention to Sam’s shower routine.

But another Rams defensive player told me that quote Sam is respecting our space and that from his perspective, he seems to think that Michael Sam is waiting to kind of take a shower as not to make his teammates feel uncomfortable while Langford and linebacker Alec Ogletree told me that they didn’t know that specifically and also weren’t tracking that. Now while Langford told me, ‘Listen, I have not been in the shower at the same time as Michael Sam,’ he said that there definitely could be a million reasons as to why that is. He said he could be doing extra work on the practice field, he could be riding his bike, he could be doing extra cardio, but overall Langford said he seems to be adjusting to the life in the NFL and the speed of the game.

ESPN clearly believes there is a cocksucking imperative among gay men. They cannot control themselves when seeing manly bodies and their packages. This is part and parcel of all the gay rape jokes out there. You know the ones I mean: don’t bend over in the shower, prisoners, or you’ll get buggered. Rush Limbaugh is fond of talking about anal rape, which is the clearest indication that it’s not funny.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Here’s the deal. It is a completely valid story to inquire as to how well Michael Sam is getting on with his team mates and if they’re accepting him. Discussing whether they shower together is, quite simply, adolescent malakatude. It’s especially disheartening because Ms. Anderson is African-American as you can see in the segment video:

Remember the stereotype about black men being beasts who cannot keep it in their pants? This indirectly feeds into that. If they don’t knock this shit off, they’ll inquire as to whether he’s a top or a bottom. This is not the first time that ESPN has shown a prurient interest in Sam’s hygenic habits, they even ran a story in their magazine about locker room showering. I shit you not. It reminds me of the bad joke Greek-American kids tell at school when they’re 13: “I’m going to malaka.” There are other variations but this is the worst one, which is what this pitiful story deserves.

ESPN needs to grow up and stop beating off over this story. Here’s hoping Keith Olbermann tears his network a new one. He hasn’t been nearly fired since returning.

This just in: ESPN is no longer sticking by the story and has apologized. They should have knocked it off to begin with, and that is why ESPN is malaka of the week.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Garcia


I’ve been going through another Dead phase of late. Anyone surprised? I thought not. I decided to write a bit about Jerry Garcia’s eponymous 1972 solo LP. It’s his first solo outing and his best, featuring a George Raft of songs played live by the little combo he spent most of his time on the road with. Jerry played most of the instruments himself and very well indeed. It was the fad at that point since Macca had just done the same on his own eponymous debut album. Woo.

Bob Seidemann’s cover is an exercise in hippie surrealism. I’m particularly fond of the 4-fingered hand, which is, of course, Jerry’s. The cards are a bow to the poker themed songs Deal and Loser. I don’t think I’d want to play poker with lyricist Robert Hunter: I bet he has an ace or two up his sleeve.

Here’s the album. Yeah, I know, you’re seeing double. What can I say?

Finally, here’s Dave Alvin’s interpretation of Loser from West Of The West,  his album  of songs about California or by California songwriters:

Controversial Artwork

Good for illustrator Mary Engelbreit: 

With Brown’s mother in mind, she created the picture of an African American mom holding her young son in her lap. His hands are raised in the familiar gesture of surrender as the two gaze at a newspaper headline that says, “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot.”

There’s a single tear falling from the mother’s eye. Running down the side of the illustration are the words, “No one should have to teach their children this in the USA.”

That, apparently, is a divisive sentiment. IF YOU’RE A FUCKING ASSHOLE:

She posted the information on Facebook and her Web siteThen the onslaught of comments began. “I was shocked by how ugly the comments were,” Engelbreit said. People threatened to boycott her products. Some demanded she give equal time to create an illustration favoring law enforcement. Others resorted to name-calling and epithets.

Because that’s the balance.

Black children and law enforcement are equal opposites.

She should give some space in her artwork to both of those sides.

After all, you can’t care about cops unless you agree that an unarmed black teenager should be shot by one without any outcry whatsoever.

Those are two weights on the scales. Black children, and police officers. Can’t love one without hating the other. I mean Jesus Meyer Lemon Christ.

I always thought Mary Engelbreit’s target market (as distinct from her work) was ladies who get their political news from their hairdressers, so I can’t say I’m surprised by the viciously racist reaction to this mildest of sentiments, this statement that perhaps we shouldn’t have to teach children to surrender before they can talk. Here’s one of the saner responses:

I cannot believe this! I’ve been a fan of ME for so many many years! Love the merrily merrily items — Hence my name! This, unfortunately really rubs me the wrong way! I probably will have to say bye bye ME!

Yes. This is truly a bridge too far. To state, without much rancor, that black children don’t deserve to grow up as if they are de facto enemies of the establishment, that’s what rubs this lady the wrong way. If this is too extreme for her, I wonder where she goes next. What’s the next level down? Did Thomas Kinkade ever advocate for fair housing? What about the Precious Moments kids? Are Beanie Babies apolitical? Or is that stuffed frog up to something?


The Libertarian Second

Earlier this month, the New York Times Magazine ran a piece by Robert Draper positing that the Libertarian moment may have arrived. I was skeptical when I heard of the article, more skeptical when I read it, and my skepticism was confirmed when I read about this Pew poll: 

“Libertarian” conjures anti-interventionism in foreign policy and absolutism in civil liberties. Think of Paul’s now-famous filibuster of the nomination of CIA director John Brennan over the possibility of military drones being used on U.S. soil.

But Pew’s research showed striking departures from the expected party line. Libertarians were more likely than the general U.S. population to say that it is better for the United States to have an active role in world affairs, according to the Center.

They even favored stop-and-frisk — the controversial policing tactic — a touch more than the average American, despite civil rights supposedly being one of the cornerstones of the libertarian movement.

Pew dug further into the numbers by looking back at its political typology report from June. Tellingly, out of the seven typologies that Pew identified within U.S. politics, “none closely resembled libertarians, and, in fact, self-described libertarians can be found in all seven,” Kiley wrote. In some of the early versions of the report, there was a group that looked like libertarians. They made up about 5 percent of the U.S. population.

I think the press has confused the Paulites (Paultards in impolite company) with the common garden variety person that calls themselves libertarian. My experience is that most self-described libertarians are really conservatives who are uncomfortable with the religious right and the batshit crazy  teanut wing of the GOP. They may be socially moderate and fiscally conservative but they tend to be as the headline on  Jim Newell’s post on the Pew poll at Salon pointed out:

Libertarians’ true identity revealed: rich conservatives OK with gay people, basically.

That’s a far cry from swallowing Senator Aqua Buddha’s brogressive agenda. That’s a word Charlie Pierce has pasted on the Junior Senator from Kentucky, and I like it because it’s as nebulous as Paul’s own beliefs. He hates big guvmint except when it involves abortion rights and then he likes it. He has already crawfished on some of the statements he made when the streets of Ferguson, MO were hazy with tear gas. Aqua Buddha is just another conventional politician pretending to be a conviction politician. He’s not going to lure minority voters to the GOP just by speaking at Howard and hanging out with Corey Booker.

I have long experience dealing with educated people who are embarrassed to be associated with the GOP’s knuckledraggers and biblethumpers.  They call themselves libertarians when, in fact, they’re conservatives who live in the 21st Century. As a veteran of the 1980’s political scene, I’m getting a kick out of conservativism becoming a toxic label. The same thing happened to the word liberal in the Reagan era, which is why the term progressive was revived. I’m still not crazy about it since some early 20th Century progressives were xenophobic racists who thought eugenics was swell. That’s why I’ve always called myself a liberal, which reminds me of  this speech that Laurence O’Donnell never tires of reminding us that he wrote for Jimmy Smits:

As you can tell, I don’t believe for a second that the Libertarian moment has arrived. I think the folks who insist on calling themselves that need a new term. How about Sane Conservatives?

Soul Week: Just My Imagination


I decided to ditch last night’s long title in favor of concision. I’m not known for being concise but I though I’d try it out to keep y’all off balance. Just My Imagination was one of the Temptations best songs and biggest hits. It was written by the crack team of Whitfield and Strong and was produced by Norman Whitfield. He was better known for  his hard edged, funky production on tracks like Cloud Nine and Ball Of Confusion but a light touch was required for this wistful and lyrical song. The rock cover is by-who else?- the Rolling Stones. It’s not so much a cover as a re-interpretation, which the best cover versions always are. I threw in a swell Jazz take on this Motown classic by Dianne Reeves just for the hell of it.

First, the Temptations featuring Eddie Kendricks with the main vocal and Paul Williams singing the bridge:

The picture on the video is of an earlier version of the Temps but I wanted the studio version. What can I tell ya?

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