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

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"The mother, the father, the serpent, the priest. The foreman, the woman, the widow, the beast. "
One for Peter "Chainsaw" Hoffman, Mike Szombathy, and Freddy "Boom Boom" Washington
eventually technology and the internet catches up with what we do here

Not too sure about the foozeball, but he's right about the bass player

"smoking on a night train, chewing on a Jellyroll"
let's hear it for pasty-faced white boys like Mark McKinney and Danny Ackroyd

"I never heard anybody up on murder charge try to pin it on Pete Seeger"

I was thinking about a guy from my old stomping grounds in Port Dover named Doug Feaver aka the Grim City Cowboy. Those who know him that watch this will understand why.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Some like it hot

I don't.

I grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, north of the Great Lakes, in a grassy subdivision where everyone had a lawn and most people didn't have or need air conditioning. A hot day meant it was 75 or 80 degrees F - though it did occasionally get hotter in late August. Later when we moved to southern Ontario, the slightly hotter, more humid weather was mitigated by the fact that we had a pool in the backyard and central air. Even so, a hot, sticky summer in the Golden Cresent was not always pleasant.

After ten years in Tokyo, I vow never to complain about summer heat in Canada ever again, not even if the earth moves closer to the sun and global warming turns the tundra into the tropics.

Have a look at today's weather in Tokyo here. It was 32C when I got up this morning at 7:30 with the humidity running at about 60%, which meant it felt like it was 39C - it was 36C by noon
and the humidity had dropped to about 50%, relatively dry for Tokyo in August, which meant it felt 41 C. It may go up to 40C over the weekend, with higher humidity making it feel like you've been dipped in kerosene and set alight in the shower room at the gym.
The weather forecast for the next few days is as follows:
Friday: Hot as a $3 pistol and swamplike
Saturday: Scorching and saunalike
Sunday: Sweet, sweaty Jesus, it's #$&*#ing hot.
Monday: Hot enough you'll want to die and go to Hell so you can cool off
Tuesday: "Kill me, kill me now, please" with scattered spontaneous human combustion in the business district.
and so on, and so on, until about the end of September.
And you can't really appreciate what that's like until you've ridden home on the rush hour train, packed in like pressurized sardines with a carriage-load of corpulent office drones who took a hot bath last night before they went to bed, got up and put on a three piece suit and long sleeved polyester dress shirt and tie, smoked until brown traces of nicotine started to ooze from their pores and ate fish and garlic for lunch, topped with a half a dozen doubtlessly much needed beers after work that, since they lack a particular bit of DNA that allows them to process alcohol, have caused them to turn the color of a ripe cherry and sweat like a frat boy whose girlfriend is week late. Fragrant doesn't even start to cover it.
I don't know how people lived here a hundred, two hundred, three hundred years ago without air conditioning and artificial refrigeration. I know the heat island effect and all the concrete drive the temperature in Tokyo up a few degrees and on going global warming blah blah blah, but Tokyo's always been hot and probably used to be more humid, and have open sewers. And it was a city of million people by the 1600s. No wonder the samuri used to have licence to go around hacking the heads off of anyone from the lower classes who looked at them sideway. I'd have been in pissy mood too. Besides, if you were a manual labourer in old Edo in August and coolest thing around was stagnat well water, you'd probably think of violent beheading as sweet release.
While the dress code in our office doesn't require neckties, praise Allah, coming to work in a loincloth made of two bags of ice cubes and duct tape would probably be frowned upon.
I'm six feet tall, weigh in at 120 kilos and am somewhat hirstute. (I know, I know -- you're getting turn on just seeing that description on your computer monitor) I have a body like Sylvester Stallone--in Copland. I look like Schwartzenggar would look if he had quit pumping iron fifteen years ago, drank a dozen beer a day and developed a cheeseburger addiction. I generally keep my shirt on at the beach - some are born modest, some have modesty thrust upon them and some are issued with restraining orders against going shirtless by the United Nations' High Commissioner for Good Taste. Nobody needs to see me naked, but if this heat keeps up, before long I'll be going around in nothing but a tube sock with a five pound block of ice strapped on top of my head.
You want to talk about climate change -- I'm all for it. Screw Al Gore and the so-called scientists, screw spending money on AIDS in Africa or paving the Middle East from the air to kill the bad people or feeding and educating our own population -- I want Gates and Soros and Murdoch and the rest of the billionaires to concentrate on finding a way to control the weather. I'm not talking about getting rid of hurricanes or making it rain in the Sahara, just lower the freakin' thermostat a few notch, cantcha? They used to warn us that another ice age was going to come someday, lets see what we can do to make that happen ASAP. Bring on the glaciers! I'm happy to put on a sweater, throw an extra blanket on the bed, wrassle polar bears while snowshoeing to work -- whatever. Just stop with the heat already!

Update: Apparently my complaint is well founded- this day was the hottest day in Japan ever.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Steely Dan do it again for opening

Kevin Wood / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
To mark the opening of the their chain of clubs, the bookers for Billboard have scored something of a coup: a series of club dates by Steely Dan. The original hypercool jazzy rockers have already sold out their opening week at the Tokyo venue and tickets for their multinight stands in Osaka and Fukuoka are going fast as Daniacs rush to take advantage of the chance to revel in the smooth, sharp sounds of Steely Dan in such an intimate setting.
The 2007 Heavy Rollers tour--the band's most extensive ever--features Steely Dan's original creative locus of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen backed by a 10-piece band, including a full horn section. Set lists on the tour thus far have reportedly leaned on material from their best-known album, 1977's Aja, and its 1980 follow-up, Gaucho, with a smattering of earlier hits and songs from their most recent two albums.
Reports from the road have it that Fagen is in excellent voice and is performing early hits, such as "Chain Lighting" and "Bad Sneakers," with polish and verve. Becker has shouldered the bulk of the guitar duties, with the aid of the formidable Everything Must Go and Two Against Nature contributor Jon Hernington. Uncharacteristically, Becker also has been seen singing often on the tour.
In their original heyday in the 1970s, Steely Dan rarely played live. The technology available at the time simply could not do the band justice in a live setting and Becker and Fagen were more interested in practicing their studio wizardry than performing in front of an audience. Nor was Steely Dan a band in the traditional sense. The lineup of performers varied widely after the first few years, not only from album to album, but from song to song.
Keyboard player and later singer Fagen and bassist/guitarist Becker, the creative bright lights around which the original band clustered, had originally met in 1967 at Bard College in New York. United by their love of black humor and soul music, the two played in various pickup bands in New York before joining established mainstream pop band Jay and the Americans in 1970. Their brief tenure with the band, which had scored a few hits in the early '60s but were clearly on their way out, resulted in a job as contract songwriters for ABC records.
Becker and Fagen saved their best songs for themselves, rehearsing the original band in their office after working hours. Naming themselves after a sexual prosthesis from William Burroughs' controversial novel Naked Lunch, their 1972 debut Can't Buy A Thrill established the band's reputation for top-notch musicianship, subversive sardonic humor and intelligent jazz-tinged rock.
Breaking up the original group after 1974, Becker and Fagen parked themselves in the studio for the rest of the decade, earning a reputation for being incredibly choosy about sound and performances. They were notorious for trying out as many as 20 guitar players from among the cream of the crop of Los Angeles' studio jazz and rock aces for a single guitar solo and recording over 50 snare drum sounds before settling on one for a single track. They also pioneered the use of digital technology in recording.
Their discerning perseverance paid off with seven platinum albums between 1972 and 1980. After a 10-year hiatus in the '80s, sound technology had caught up, and Becker and Fagan assembled a touring company that circled the globe repeatedly in the '90s. Inspired and creatively reinvigorated by the the live experience, they returned to the studio late in the decade, eventually emerging with 2000's Two Against Nature, that year's Grammy winner for album of the year. Their 2003 follow up Everything Must Go also earned critical praise.
(Aug. 11, 2007)

Note - just found out today that there will be room for me on the guest list after all. It's a good thing I'm such a jaded, cynical old journalist now or I'd be jumping around the newsroom screaming like a schoolgirl.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Head rat to leave sinking ship
The man alternately known as Bush's Brain and Turd Blossom (and who says it wouldn't be the same thing) announces his resignation. This could make for an entertaining final year in office for Dubya, since he doesn't know how to wipe his own backside without advice from the man they named a really digusting sex act after. (don't click the link if you have ever been grossed out by a Kevin Smith movie or fecal matter) I hope they check to make sure the silverwear is all there after he leaves. Anyone want to offer me odds on how often his name comes up in the upcoming Gonzales impeachment?

Betcha didn't know he had his dirty little paws in the Watergate debacle too. Yep, he was head of the College Republicans at the time and something of an apprentice to convicted felon and professional dirty trickster Donald Segretti.

Hat tip to News Sophisticate for the video clip, and Dan Rather for the crackerjack reportage.