"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, May 26, 2006

39 going on five
Take a trip down memory lane at the Canadian Expat Blog with the Friendly Giant.

I loved this show, along with Mr. Dressup, as a kid. And the funniest thing I've ever heard on radio is Radio Free Vestibule's expose on Casey and Rusty the Rooster. And screw the guys at Canadian Expat, the rocking chair is MINE!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

No one is above the law
Not even Dennis "the Menace" Hastert. Apparently the Speaker of the House of Representatives has his panties in a twist over the FBI searching the congressional offices of Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson. He and Newt Gingrich and house majority leader John Boehnert are calling it an "invasion of the legislative branch" for some reason.

This is the first time in U.S. history the feds have searched a lawmakers office, but as far as I know there is no legal grounds for preventing them from doing so. A lawmaker's office should be no different from any other premises when it comes to the police having the right to search it. If a judge grants a warrant on the grounds of probable cause - and I think videotape of the congressman accepting a $100,000 bribe is sufficient cause to think a crime may have been committed - there is no reason I can think of for the FBI not to search the man's office.

The Republicans often defend the president's illegal wiretapping program by saying that Americans who are not dealing with terrorists have nothing to fear from the intrusion into their privacy and violation of their civil liberties, because if they are innocent, then they have nothing to hide, right? Well, that sort of logic cuts both ways --- what do Hastert and Boehnert have to hide?

I understand how there would be reluctance to give the executive branch carte blanche to use law enforcement agencies to investigate political opponents, which is a fine old American tradition dating back to Tammany Hall and carried on by such luminaries as Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover, but I don't think this is a case of the White House going after Jefferson for political reasons -- from what we have seen of the case so far, the guy has some major explaining to do. ("No really, I keep $90,000 in my freezer because I like to pay all my bills in "cold, hard cash" get it?)

In some countries, elected officials are immune from prosecution while in office. The reason given is to prevent them from being locked up on trumped up charges by their political opponents or an autocratic national leader. Has it really come to that in Amerika?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Man of Bronze
When I was a kid, I loved superheroes. I collected comic books, watched all the superhero tv shows -I even had a crush on Lynda Carter. I often told myself that this was the summer I was going to do it, I was going to train, train, train until I had superhuman powers. If I had found this programs back then, who knows what evildoers I might have triumphed over by now?

Monday, May 22, 2006

constitution, schmonstitution
The man who is supposed to be the top legal authority in the United States seems to think that the first amendment, like the fourth, can simply be ignored when it gets in the administration's way:

"Mr. Gonzales said that the administration promoted and respected the right of the press that is protected under the First Amendment.
"But it can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity," he said. "And so those two principles have to be accommodated."
Mr. Gonzales sidestepped a question concerning whether the administration had been reviewing reporters' telephone records in an effort to identify their confidential sources."

Sunday, May 21, 2006



We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

Sony Music Entertainment, 2,835 yen

Fans of Bruce Springsteen's full-bore rock 'n' roll from the '70s and '80s--songs like "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run"--may be a bit shocked to hear the Boss singing "Froggie Went a Courtin'" on his latest album, and folk purists may decry his newfangled arrangements of old favorites, but those who recognize good music can safely ignore such closed-minded nattering and embrace We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.

It was while recording a version of the titular song for a Pete Seeger tribute album in 1997 that the notion of doing a folk album first took root with Springsteen. The idea grew slowly and it wasn't until eight years later that he brought the same group of musicians together again for a pair of daylong recording sessions at his New Jersey farmhouse.

The Seeger Sessions is a bit of misnomer in that none of the songs on the album were actually written by Seeger, though they are certainly all in his vast repertoire and he is responsible for popularizing some of them.

While Springsteen may have been slow to act on the initial idea, he threw himself into the 2005 recording sessions with a sizable amount of enthusiasm. We Shall Overcome is a bighearted, rollicking spree of a record. The accompanying video of the recording sessions makes the whole thing look like a boozy musical house party with guitars, a banjo, fiddles and drums jamming in the living room and a horn section out in the hall.

Filling out the string band simplicity of the guitar, banjo and fiddle with a New Orleans-style brass section and zydeco accordion turns the old spiritual "Oh Mary, Don't You Weep" into a revival tent meeting that fairly storms along and "Pay Me My Money Down" into a drunken levy camp romp.

The less lighthearted numbers, like the antiwar Irish ballad "Mrs. McGrath," are no less passionate. Springsteen has rarely been in better voice, belting out "John Henry" with a gutbucket urgency and crooning "Shenandoah" with sincere warmth. We Shall Overcome overflows with good humor, spontaneity, high spirits and heart.

The Boss has put the hoot back in hootenanny.


Move by Yourself

Universal International, 2,200 yen

Maybe it's the luxuriant locks and mustache, maybe it's the Marvin Gaye grooves but singer, songwriter, guitarist and pro surfer Donavon Frankenreiter seems stuck in the '70s.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. The '70s may have been the decade of disco, but it also was the pinnacle of the Motown funk and soul sound, a vein Frankenreiter mines to considerable advantage on his sophomore album, Move By Yourself.

While his first effort on surfing pal Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records was a bright slice of rootsy Southern Californian folk, Move By Yourself is a sunny chunk of blue-eyed feel-good funk. The same comfortable grooves are here, but this time backed with basslines that owe more to James Jamerson than James Taylor. Echoes of his earlier, mellower incarnation can still be heard in the pretty acoustic ballad "Beautiful Day."

Frankenreiter is no slouch as a guitarist either, showing off his chops on "That's Too Bad" and teaming up with guest G. Love on the bluesy "Girl Like You." His real talent seems to be his ability to build great old-school soul songs around catchy guitar and keyboard riffs.

(May. 20, 2006)