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The Van Morrison MasterClass: Week 10

Posted by on Mar 17, 2020 in Blog, Essays | 1 comment

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“I write songs.  Then, I record them.  And, later, maybe I perform them on stage.  That’s what I do.  That’s my job.  Simple.”

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THE VAN MORRISON MASTERCLASS:  WEEK 10

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DAY 64: “Caravan” (Live–1976)

Brace yourselves.

You’re about to witness a shy, short, pudgy, balding, funny-talking Irish dude with lamb chop sideburns dressed in a maroon-sequined jumpsuit, mispronouncing the words to his own song, barn-yarding the whole wild scene, kicking it up Saturday Night Live style, and mic-dropping the show in a Martin Scorsese concert movie

It’s a parody, only without the parody. Like the half-drink karaoke guy or the embarrassing uncle at the wedding who doesn’t know everyone’s watching, but also doesn’t give a fuck.

This incredible moment almost never happened.

The Band was set to play a farewell concert on Thanksgiving Day at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. This came to the attention of famed movie director, Martin Scorsese, who was a big fan of Robbie Robertson and The Band’s music. He came in and shot the entire concert, which included guest appearances by Neil Diamond, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, and many others.

Van was a reluctant addition to the all-star lineup. He had been known to withdraw into a shell while onstage, often singing with his eyes shut, not to mention his occasional profanity-laden spats with fans. Asking Van to appear seemed risky. Moreover, Van hadn’t released an album in two years and had essentially disappeared from the pop music scene. No one knew what to expect when Van was scheduled to follow Neil Diamond, then at the height of his popularity and probably the worst possible superstar act to replace in the spotlight. Van was in a horrible spot.

Making matters far worse, Van got hit by a last-minute panic of stage fright, which plagued him sporadically throughout his long career. While waiting off in the wings, Van relayed he didn’t want to go on. As Robbie Robertson and The Band began warming up to Van’s intro, Van’s tour manager had to physically push the befuddled singer onto the stage. Van sheepishly approached the microphone and then somehow morphs into an out-of-body experience. Even members of The Band were shocked to watch Van become increasingly animated during the 5-minute transformation. The song had been unrehearsed, so when Van shouts out, “turn it up!” and “one more time!” the band responds at his command.

While editing several hours of concert footage for what would become The Last Waltz, Scorsese later saw the act and was stunned. Eric Clapton said Van stole the show. Perhaps it was because expectations were so low that Van knocked this one out of the park. Known as a great songwriter, but also a deeply private man, jumpsuits and karate kicks simply weren’t in the singer’s wheelhouse.

“Caravan” was only a modestly-known track off the 1970 Moondance album. It certainly didn’t seem like much of a showstopper. Oddly enough, this guest-appearance stands as perhaps his best-known live performance. Unfortunately, it also set up false expectations for future fans who anticipated seeing the “Caravan” version of Van. Instead, they would get a different Van with each successive year, album, and tour.

This — ladies and gentlemen — is how you strut the effing stage! Talking about running the roost! Nailed it, bitches! What a classic!

“Van the Man!”

Note: This begins a week of the worst Van Morrison performances. While this appearance is perhaps his best, it’s a forebearer so some cringeworthy moments to come, which includes television appearances and interviews. This project intends to provide a comprehensive portrait, which includes some rough edges around the performer.

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DAY 65:  THE WORST PERFORMANCES — “LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN” in 1995 with SINEAD O’CONNOR

This comprehensive examination of Van’s life and career would not be complete without posting some of the disasters, and there have been many.

Perhaps his worst show was the special occasion of Van performing his own song (made famous by Rod Stewart) with fellow Irish free-spirit, Sinead O’Connor. This clip is an embarrassment for Van, who was thought to be drunk during the performance and completely destroys what should have been a memorable duet.

O’Connor grew up idolizing Van, which makes this disaster all the more disappointing. She’s wonderful, as are the musicians — The Chieftains, who backed up Van on numerous albums. However, Van fails to take the occasion seriously, lapsing into a cringe-worthy rendition of one of his most beloved songs.

This fiasco took place in London. David Letterman did a week of shows there and his guests were predominantly British and Irish. Unfortunately, what should have been one of the highlights turned into a musical train wreck.

Oddly enough, though he came out of the 1960s, Van was never known for drug use, nor bouts of addiction, nor even any missed shows. For more than 55 years, Van always shows up on time, sober (usually), and ready to perform. This appears to be a rare exception.

Watch for yourself, one of Van’s worst performances, even though Letterman, perhaps sarcastically announces at the end, “that was great!”

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DAY 66:  “I’ll Be Your Lover, Too” (1970 song on the “Proof of Life” movie soundtrack, from 2000)

You’re watching the closing scene and credits from the 2000 film starring Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe, Proof of Life, which is an espionage thriller set in South Africa. The film was burdened with problems from the start, including financial issues, an avalanche during filming, and trouble on the set. It didn’t fare well at the box office, either and has since been forgotten.

Van’s original composition is used, which is from the 1970 album His Band and the Street Choir. The track in simple 4/4 time features only four musicians — including Van, with a drummer, bassist, and a guitarist.

“I’ll Be Your Lover, Too” reveals Van at his soulful best. It’s easy to understand why this song was chosen for the final fade-out of a tense movie which concludes with the angst of lost love.

More than likely, you haven’t heard this track before. So, play the short clip and listen. Like so much of Van’s music, it’s the perfect emotional match for the moment.

See if you agree…

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DAY 67:  “Hungry For Your Love” (1978 original release, also on the “An Officer and a Gentleman” movie soundtrack, 1982)

Van Morrison’s “Hungry For Your Love” is a mellow-sounding feelgood song from the 1978 Wavelength album, which enjoyed two brief bouts of radio airplay — once during the initial phase of the album’s release and again when the mega-smash movie An Officer and a Gentlemen produced a pitch-fever of hits off the soundtrack (“Up Where We Belong” by Joe Cocker was the clear standout).

This is one of the favorite songs of many Van aficionados, most notably Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard, who has released multiple alternate cover versions. The song contains some unusual qualities. First, it’s a throwback to Van’s earlier work done nearly a decade earlier, which doesn’t really meld with the more modern sound of Wavelength released at the height of the disco era. The song also contains a rare demonstration of Van playing the electric piano. Musically gifted and instrumentally versatile, nonetheless, it’s one of the few released recordings with Van on the keyboard.

There’s a nice groove to this song. In the movie, it appeared as background in a scene when stars Richard Gere and Debra Winger wake up the next morning after their initial romantic tryst.

 

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DAY 68:  “Irish Heartbeat” (1983)

“Irish Heartbeat” is an original composition by Van Morrison. It has been recorded several times over the years and covered multiple times by other musicians, many from Ireland. The song seems an appropriate choice on this St. Patrick’s Day.

The track debuted on Van’s 1983 studio album, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart. It reappeared on the 1988 album collaboration with the traditional Irish folk group, The Chieftains. Then, 25 years later, it was re-recorded as a duet with Van and Mark Knopfler. This is the version off the 2015 Duets: Reworking the Catalogue album.

Van has demonstrated extraordinary musical ability over his nearly six-decade span as a songwriter and performer. It would be futile to identify a musical icon who has covered more territory and crossed more bridges. He’s not only excelled in rock, blues, and jazz but also commands such a deep knowledge of traditional folklore. Van’s extensive career is packed with live performances of his playing and singing classic Irish songs, far beyond the typical pop music wheelhouse.

“Irish Heartbeat” is a yin and yang of a song, the soulful Van meeting his inner Irish roots halfway. Off putting to his rock fans and those who grew up accustomed to “Brown-Eyed Girl” pop hits, it’s Van reaching deep, looking back, tilling the fertile musical plain. To his credit, Van doesn’t always take us where we want to be, but in directions where we need to go.

Today, we’re all Irish. And when we listen to Van, we’re all lucky.

 

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DAY 69:  A Van Morrison Impression by Sean Cullen (2013)

How exactly does one do an impression of Van Morrison? Well, Sean Cullen absolutely brilliantly nails it!

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DAY 70:  Van Morrison St. Patrick’s Day Impression by Jimmy Fallon (2009)

A few years back, late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon began doing impressions of classic rock stars. Most amazing, he did his own music and sings original material. His impression of Jim Morrison (The Doors) is astounding.

Fallon did Van Morrison on St. Patrick’s Day, having a bit of fun with the drunken stereotype. It’s all in good fun. I’m not sure how many appreciate how good this wild rendition is, but hey — how the hell do you pull off am impersonation of Van Morrison?

Fallon nails it here. Nice compliment on this Irish holiday to the previous posts in the series.

Hope you enjoy.

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PREVIOUS SEGMENTS/SONGS:
  • WEEK 1:  (You’ve Got the Power; Days Like This; Here Comes the Night; Just Like Greta; T.B. Sheets; Domino)
  • WEEK 2:  (I Heard You Paint Houses–The Irishman; Into the Mystic; Wavelength; Bright Side of the Road; Take this Hammer; Queen of the Slipstream; Haunts of Ancient Peace; News– Remembering Joe Smith)
  • WEEK 3:  (Celtic New Year; Cyprus Avenue; Sometimes We Cry; Wild Night; Goin’ Down to Monte Carlo; Enlightenment; Don’t Look Back)
  • Week 4:  (Whenever God Shines His Light; Ordinary People; Gloria; Down to Earth; Golden Autumn Day; On Hyndford Street; Celtic New Year)
  • WEEK 5:  (Your Mind is On Vacation; Naked in the Jungle; Spanish Steps; Tupelo Honey; Fame; The Way Young Lovers Do; Van Morrison Documentary–The Early Years_
  • WEEK 6:  (Go On Home, Baby; Comfortably Numb; These Are the Days; Brand New Day; Bulbs; Rough God Goes Riding; Interviews: 1967 and 2017)
  • WEEK 7:  (Beside You; Little Village; Never Get Out of These Blues; Someone Like You; I’ll Take Care of You; You Gotta’ Make It Through the World; Under Review–Documentary Film)
  • WEEK 8:  (Van Morrison at Montreux; Street Choir; Moondance; Troubadours; Twilight Zone; I Will Be There; Wild Honey)
  • WEEK 9  (No Religion; Allow Me; When I Deliver; The Healing Game; Help Me, And The Healing Has Begun; Linden Arden Stole the Highlights)
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Note:  Follow me on Facebook for the latest editions of the Van Morrison MasterClass, and more.
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Social Media Distancing

Posted by on Mar 17, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 2 comments

 

social media distancing

 

Note:  This was posted to my Facebook page.  I’m sharing it here since many of you likely have the same issue to deal with on Facebook and elsewhere on social media.

 

I am making a change. Effective immediately.

I’m implementing a new policy on Facebook which I will call “social media distancing.”

Just as some people are infected with a virus, others are infected with the toxicity of ignorance. I have no use for either. According, they shall be quarantined. Let me explain.

For many years, I’ve exhibited extraordinary tolerance for the broadest range of opinion. As someone who is naturally curious and has always welcomed an open exchange of ideas (even bad ideas), I hoped my posts/threads/articles might in some small way contribute to bridging differences and fostering greater understanding. I will continue to adhere to this guiding principle.

Unfortunately, the law of large numbers of friends means more trolls and irrational outliers. I hoped discussion and debate might open some minds. Darkness is dark only until the light gets in. However, there are simply some minds which are so shuttered and locked that it’s not worth my time, nor the energy of my friends to waste time trying to do the impossible. Let’s treat the treatable, not the terminally ignorant.

Allow me to provide some examples. In the last week, I’ve cut ties and or blocked the following persons. Names will not be listed. I see no point in embarrassing them or giving them any additional attention:

CASE 1: In a thread about Alex Jones (the hate-spewing conspiracy nut) someone expressed admiration and support for his content. Right then, I made a calculated decision that there is nothing this person can say or write from this point forward that I can trust. I have nothing to learn or gain from someone who thinks Alex Jones, who has called the parents of children murdered in a mass shooting “crisis actors.” Moreover, I do NOT want to know this person. He was blocked. Easy decision.

CASE 2: This one is more complicated. In an exchange about public policy, someone stated President Obama did nothing on domestic infrastructure while in office. I proved otherwise (this was very easy, which took about 5 seconds on Google). The poster doubled down and refused to acknowledge a simple fact which was shown. I decided there was no point in engaging this person any further, since showing him an easily-searchable fact, didn’t trigger the expected reboot to reality. If we can’t agree on simple, undisputed historical facts, I see no reason to waste time or energy in future discussions with this individual. That said, the person is polite and communicates well, so rather than imposing a draconian punishment like blocking, I simply informed the individual I would no long engage him, but he remains free to post and contribute to my threads.

CASE 3: This was a poker-playing friend who I know marginally (met him a few times) but I would not call a friend. I tend to welcome invites from people because it’s a way to connect to new ideas and even learn things. While scrolling down my Facebook home page, I saw this person post. It was a rambling long-winded conspiracy rant about the Coronavirus crisis being a Leftist conspiracy designed to bring down Trump. He pulled every rancid chestnut out of the toxic toolbox, even alluding to 9/11 inside-job stuff. That was eye opening. Once again, this made my decision easy. There is nothing this person can write or post that gives me any faith in their opinion or judgment. None. And so, the persona non grata button was pushed. Poof! He no longer exists. Blocked. My soul is cleansed.

A WORD ABOUT TROLLS:  Finally, there is the wacko category, comprised of trolls. People who contribute nothing to a discussion. Some are even dangerous. My life has been threatened a few times, and one of those had a Facebook home page with photos of lots of guns and hate-filled topics. After he once threatened to come and kill me and my wife, I reported him directly to the FBI (some of you might remember this from a few years ago). These are easy to identify and deserve to be blocked. While I wouldn’t normally tell others what to do, I strongly recommend social quarantine against these types of individuals.

Please note that I rarely block anyone for having ideas different than my own. I have dozens of Trump supporting friends and even more conservative-minded contacts on my social media feed. Virtually all of them are civil and occasionally do post good content. I also will admit to some inconsistency since I allow those people I know very well (no names) tremendous latitude that I wouldn’t normally afford to someone who is anonymous. I try my best, but I’m not perfect in my enforcement of my own rules.

YMMV. Everyone can make up their rules. I have decided that my time is way to valuable to be wasting it on (Case 1) overt haters, (Case 2) people who do not listen to facts, and (Case 3) conspiracy nuts.

Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting my amateur attempt at exchanging ideas. I recognize my posts are often inflammatory and off-putting in language and content. I do remain a work in progress, flexible to many topics, tones, and tactics. If someone is offended, I suggest they unfollow me. It’s that simple.

Over and out.

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Yes, You Can Still Go Out and Have Fun and Here’s How (Surviving Las Vegas During the Coronavirus Crisis)

Posted by on Mar 16, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Personal, Travel | 2 comments

 

marieta dalla

 

I don’t know when it will come but at some point during this “social distancing” thing, many of us are going to go stir crazy.

This is especially true if you live in Las Vegas, like me.

We’re used to going out and having fun.  We’re accustomed to casinos, and restaurants, and world-class entertainment within a short drive.  We’re spoiled by instant gratification.

Let me be very clear:  I fully support and encourage following every recommendation and guideline put out by any authority — at least those put out by people not named Donald Trump and Mike Pence.  The draconian measures of social distancing, and in some cases “self-quarantining” are sure to save many lives.  I beg everyone:  Please follow them.

But let’s also be realistic.  Many of us are going to go outdoors.  We will leave our homes and drive places.  Some destinations — such as grocery stores and medical facilities — are mandatory.  Others, such as amusements are optional.

Fortunately, Las Vegas is blessed to have some really cool places closeby.  Everything about these spots is positive.  I think many readers might enjoy them if they can get outside and are willing to try an adventure.

In recent years, I’ve discovered a few amazing places that I want to share.  Each destination is easy to reach from Las Vegas.  So, if you are a local resident, or visiting, these are very doable.  Best of all they are safe and cost next to nothing!

 

OPTION 1:  TAKE A HIKE AT RED ROCK CANYON

Distance from Las Vegas:  5 miles

Time Required:  A few hours (or more is optional)

Don’t be put off by the word “hike.”  I promise — it’s not that difficult.  There are many leisurely walks through the Red Rock Canyon National Park.  Some take no more than an hour.  Others are more challenging and can take up to a full day.  The option is yours.

The main thing is — the views our here are magnificent.  More like breathtaking.  And, since it’s March, the weather should be great this time of year.  The same goes for April and May.  So, even if this health crisis continues for months, Red Rock Canyon will be there waiting to welcome us.

The many times I’ve been to Red Rock Canyon, it’s never been crowded, like a city attraction.  Sure, several hundred people might be at the canyon at one time.  But they are spread out of many miles.  So, there’s virtually no threat going out and doing something that’s fun and good for you — walking and hiking.

Here’s my report of an amazing hike I did a few years ago with a friend, Nick Christenson.  Nick knows these trails very well, so I was glad to have him as my guide.  If you’re interested in learning more, please read this column, and if you really want to find out where to go, share the discussion on Facebook.  Either Nick or I will be glad to address it.  Read:  TAKING A HIKE:  THE OTHER SIDE OF LAS VEGAS

 

OPTION 2:  DRIVE AND VISIT VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK

Distance from Las Vegas:  50 miles

Time Required:  4 to 5 hours (can be done in a half-day)

Valley of Fire is about an hour-long drive to the northeast, about halfway to the Utah border.  It’s a pristine setting with lots of rock formations and natural beauty.

There’s no urban development out here, meaning no hotels or gas stations.  The natural splendor is what makes Valley of Fire so attractive.  The park is located next to an Indian reservation, which has a tobacco shop as the main cut off from the highway onto a single-lane road, which takes another 10 miles, or so.

I’ve visited this park many times, usually with family or out-of-town guests.  Everyone I’ve gone with enjoys the quiet solitude combined with the beauty of the unusual landscape.

Unfortunately, I have not written about the Valley of Fire in the past.  So, instead, I will provide this link to their OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

 

OPTION 3:  DRIVE AND VISIT DEATH VALLEY (DANTE’S VIEW)

Distance from Las Vegas:  120 miles

Time Required:  8-10 hours (full-day)

People hear “Death Valley” and they think of unbearable heat and barren desert.  But it’s not that way, at all.  Or, I should say, it’s much more than that.

One of the park’s best-kept secrets is an amazing landmark that overlooks the vast natural treasure, which is about a two-hour drive from Las Vegas.  This is one of the best day-trips you will ever take from this city.  For reasons inexplicable, I’ve met very few Las Vegas residents (or anyone else) who has done this wonderful mini-vacation.  Don’t be like them!  Do it!

Remember, during this period, we want to be cognizant of social distancing.  Well, a visit to Death Valley is about as socially isolated as it gets.  The closest you will come to other people might be cars on the other side of the highway.

This article I wrote about Dante’s View will give you some idea of what awaits those to make the drive.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  And, once you are there, it’s a nice spot to get out and spend a few hours.  The view never gets old.

Be Warned:  There is no food or services out here, so please make sure you are well-fed and stocked up before heading out.  Oh, the area is totally safe.  You just need to make certain you have plenty of gas and don’t leave hungry.  Because you won’t find a fast-food place around for 50 miles.  And that’s what makes it so wonderful.

Try Dante’s View.  This is an amazing experience.  Read more:  DANTE’S VIEW:  A GREAT LAS VEGAS GETAWAY

 

There are more places to visit than just these.  Utah has some astonishing parks within a reasonable distance.  Of course, it’s also okay just to go outside and take a walk.

I understand these are unusual times.  For everyone.  We’ve never been in a spot like this before.  I encourage those I know and those I haven’t had the opportunity to meet yet to stay safe.  But also — please volunteer and help when and where they can.

Just as important….I also think it’s vital to live a little and enjoy life.

Visiting one of the parks within driving distance is a breath of fresh air and a very responsible way to take advantage of this disruption of our normal lives.

The best way to appreciate Las Vegas right now might be to leave it, if for only a few hours or a day.

Please share with me if you decide to follow any of these recommendations.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Join the Facebook discussion on this topic HERE

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If You Can’t Do a Lot, Then Let’s All Try to Do A Little

Posted by on Mar 15, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 0 comments

 

nolan dalla charity

 

Every little bit helps.

We don’t need superheroes. What we need are more people to do small things. Ordinary people like you and me.

Even a seemingly small act of kindness can make a difference. Just ask the beneficiary of anyone on the receiving end of a generous act.

No one can lift a ton. But many people in an organized effort can not only lift a ton, but move mountains. It’s the basis of my fundamental belief in cooperation instead of competition.

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from a grocery store that will remain anonymous because what they are doing isn’t allowed by the company. For about three years, Marieta (she deserves the credit) took “old” produce that was going to be discarded and shared it with some charitable organizations working with the needy. We made more than 100 deliveries, usually 5-10 boxes at a time, about once a week. Unfortunately, the produce manager left that store and we were not able to do anything after September of last year.

Sure enough, yesterday this person called and is now working at another location. In light of the current crisis, he asked if we wanted several boxes of fruits and vegetables. Of course, we jumped at the chance to get back involved. We gave this shipment to a local church group that is doing good work. Just to be clear, I don’t do nearly enough good deeds.  Marieta is more involved in charity work and motivates me to get off the sofa and so something.

I have spoken with many people about what’s going on and how it’s going to impact our lives. Not all of us have money, food, transportation, and the means to get to food and things we need. I strongly suggest you find just ONE PERSON, maybe a neighbor or a senior or someone you normally would not reach out to and make the effort to see if they need anything. Just knock on a door and introduce yourself and ask if you can help.

And, if you don’t find a person to help, then — I beg of you — by all means, help an animal. Many animals are desperately in need when there is a crisis. I’ve seen this firsthand at The Animal Foundation, which has way too many cats and dogs that we have homes for. If you hear a dog barking at unusual times and something doesn’t seem right, then please go and check it out. We might be okay. But not all people and animals are able to get what they need in times of shortages. Help those people. And help the animals.

One good deed might even save a life.

Please, do what you can.

No act is too small.

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Don’t Politicize This?

Posted by on Mar 14, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments

 

Trump coronavirus

 

Don’t politicize this?

Really?

Yeah, nothing says “let’s don’t politicize this” like wearing a USA TRUMP 45 campaign hat during an official White House press conference on the coronavirus while threatening to fire the Federal Reserve chairman.

20 minutes of nauseating self-congratulation.

We’re willing to be rational about this. Note that no one goes after Anthony Fauci and others, because they stay on message and provide (as best they can) accurate information to the American people.

Even though they’re appointed by President Biohazard, we understand the need for bipartisanship. But man, that’s really tough to do when every single mic appearance by Trump is laced with campaign-style narcissism.

Oh, and in the presser that’s continuing as I type this, Ben Carson, who doesn’t believe in evolution, is now talking about how “we’ve gotten away from God,” and praising Trump’s “National Day of Prayer.”

Now, ladies and gentlemen, any more questions about WHO are the instigators of politicizing this crisis?

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Pandemic and Crying Wolf

Posted by on Mar 11, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 0 comments

1918 spanish flu

 

Fueled by toxic right-wing media, complacency, and in some cases, plain old dirt-dumb willful ignorance — many otherwise intelligent people are succumbing to a dangerous mindset that the COVID-19 pandemic is:

Fill in the blank……

— an exaggeration
— a media-driven panic
— just another type of flu
— a hoax
— a plot to hurt Trump

Virtually all these “opinions” are expressed by people with absolutely no background in science. Certainly, none of the people posting idiotic memes and spewing senseless perspectives on social media tainted by warped political and selfish economic interests have any academic or practical experience in viruses and pandemics whatsoever. Let me put it another way: They don’t know shit.

I have little knowledge or understanding of science and even less ability in viruses. It’s true. I don’t know shit, either. Hence, I chose to rely on the good people who do know this stuff, who are virtually unanimous in their warnings and recommendations that this threat is very, very serious. What knowledge and understanding I do have is in politics and history, and to get a broad picture of what things could be like, all we must do is look at what happened a hundred years ago.

Neither of the possible outcomes is comforting. Either the virus does terrible damage over some unknown period — not just medically, but economically and socially, as well. Or, the alternative is a false confirmation of anti-intellectual bias, a wedge between ignorance from sanity.

There does exist the very real possibility that experts will deliver us from this peril, that the virus will be contained, and the outbreak will not be as bad as it might have been. In this far more palatable scenario, it will inevitably follow that critics and cynics will insist the virus was never a big deal at all, that COVID 19 was — an exaggeration, a media-driven panic, just another type of flu, a hoax, and a plot to hurt Trump.

Science will have won the medical battle but then lost the war of truth. In essence, even if the pandemic gradually subsides thanks to scientists and public health officials, some/many will point to the dissipating storm that inexplicably took a detour and missed destroying the village, and then mock those who warned us.

A crisis brings out the very best in people, and the very worst in people. We may be damned if the virus spreads, but just as damned if it doesn’t.

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Here’s Why I’m Donating to the Trump Campaign (and You Should, Too)

Posted by on Mar 8, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 75 comments

 

 

I urge readers to follow my lead and gum up the Trump campaign machine with a real contribution that will help make America great again.

 

Today, I’m writing a check to the Trump re-election campaign.

I’m making this check out to “Donald J. Trump for President” and signing my real name.

Then, I’ll stick an envelope in the mail and send it to Trump’s re-election headquarters in New York.

No, I haven’t lost my mind.

No, I haven’t flipped over to the dark side.

No, I’m not supporting Trump.

But I do want to make a contribution, in my own way.  I intend to make sure the Trump campaign and countless affiliated Republican political organizations will latch on to my “generosity,” waste vast sums of money mailing me free stuff, sending me bogus political questionnaires, and sapping up their reserves to beg me to donate more.

You see, I’m sending the 2020 Trump re-election campaign a check in the amount of “$.01.”  That’s right.  One cent.

 

Let’s Do the Math

 

This an act of cold calculation, my friends. It’s dubiously designed to invest a tiny amount of money in order to make the evil beast bleed far more in funds.

My investment in this project amounts to 55 cents — the cost of one USPS stamp — plus 1 cent for the donation.  Then, there’s the expense of a personal check and a simple envelope.

What do I expect for my 56 cents and an envelope?  I know exactly what to expect because — believe it or not — I once worked in Republican Party fundraising, years ago.  I know how their game is played.  I know the score.

 

The Name of the Game is “Caging”

 

It’s called “caging.”  What an appropriate term applied to the Trump Administration.

What happens is this — my envelope gets opened by a third-party processor which collects checks and then enters the names of all campaign donors into a computer database.  What — you think there are paid staffers on the 15th Floor at Trump Tower doing data entry?  Think again.  Bulk mail gets trucked someplace much cheaper and then processed.  That’s the way it works with large political operations.  The checks and information are caged.

So, my name eventually gets recorded, which is required by federal law.  Someone working for close to minimum wager for the contractor spends no more than a few seconds adding me to the vast Trump army of deplorables.  Then, another office flunky down the assembly line will process my check.  Oh, my check will get cashed — for sure.

Bingo!  Success.  Mission accomplished.

Now, I’m on the inside.  I’m officially a Trump donor!

 

So, What Happens Next?

 

Sometime later, my name ends up on every Republican hit list.  Elections come with postal bombardment.  When Trump gets the party nomination — I’ll get mail.  During the campaign — I’ll get more mail.  Later, every Republican candidate who buys the “Trump donor list” will blow even more money trying to squeeze blood out of this Socialist turnip.  They’ll be hounding me for more money until the end of democracy.

This is certain.  I know, because I already get bombarded with Trump trash.  Why not make them spend even more.

Doing the math, what this means is that in the coming years, Trump and the Republican Party will likely invest 100-times more money than I initially donated to their evil cause.  My modest investment-donation will cost them far more than they will ever receive.  It’s a simple, but effective means of protest.

It’s death by a thousand paper cuts.  It’s playing dirty but legal.  It’s how big corporations kill lawsuits by smaller businesses — paperwork them to death.  Exhaust their resources.  It’s not a pretty way to win, but it’s still a win.  And you might not win, but you cause enough damage to the evil system (h/T Patrick Day).

 

Gumming Up the Trump Works

 

Now, imagine thousands of good Americans doing the same thing.  Sending tiny donations of just a cent or two.  Call it “gumming up the works.”

I urge all anti-Trumpers to do exactly the same.  Donate a small amount and mail them a check.  Even if 1,000 good citizens do this, that means Trump raises perhaps $10.  After all, 1,000 pennies is just ten bucks.  But the Trump campaign and subsequent Republican candidates who buy the sucker list will blow tens of thousands of dollars on wasted solicitations that will get tossed straight into the wastebasket.  There’s another bonus:  I find Republican campaign literature to be the perfect cat box liner.

I know, this isn’t the most environmentally-friendly means of protest.  It’s wasteful.  But the time for scorched-earth activism has arrived.  Protest.  Resist.  By any means necessary.  Do something.

 

Make Your Contribution, Now!

 

I urge readers to follow my lead and gum up the Trump campaign machine with a real contribution to making America great again.  Make them blow both time and money.  Sure, they’ve already raised millions in donations.  A few dollars might not seem like much.  But every single small act leads to an avalanche.  Great causes are victorious not by giant events, but by one small act at a time.

For those rightly concerned, note that making a tiny donation will NOT be reported to federal authorities (reporting requirements apply only to donations over $200).  However, all the names of those who donate are indeed recorded.  Republicans consider these lists worth their weight in gold.  Trump and the party will certainly comingle all donors and blow campaign funds on future solicitations.  And the best way to fight them is by throwing their garbage away, or better yet, sending a blank donation envelope back in their return postage-paid envelopes (which are often supplied).  That really stings.  Making them pay — double, triple, and quadruple!

If you’d like to read more about what happens when you make a political donation to a national campaign, here’s a guide.

Make your donation to the Trump campaign now!  And write CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION on the outside of the envelope.  That way it gets to the right place.

Here’s the mailing address:

Donald J. Trump for President

Trump Tower

725 Fifth Avenue

15th Floor

New York, NY 10022-2519

 

Note that the online option at the OFFICIAL WEBSITE has a minimum contribution of $25.  Why do you think they don’t want to bother with donations less than $25?  Answer:  Because it ends up costing them money!  So, contribute the old fashioned way by check, instead.

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Announcing — #iVoted

Posted by on Mar 6, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 0 comments

 

#iVoted Initiative to Break All Records with Election Night Virtual Concerts

 

The Non-Partisan Effort To Get Out the Vote Projects Over 1,000 Acts Performing Via Webcast

 

(New York) August 6, 2020 Emily White, founding partner of Collective Entertainment and co-founder of #iVoted, which she established along with Mike Luba and Wilco’s Pat Sansone for the 2018 election, is proud to announce their November 3, 2020 Election Night digital concerts. The goal is simple – to get out the vote, particularly for millennials and x and y Gen voters. The list of performers is growing daily with over 225 committed thus far with many notable artists and another 700-900 more acts to be confirmed, making this the largest single night digital concert ever. The list to date can be found at iVotedconcerts.com.

Politics are set aside for this non-partisan initiative. All voters have to do is RSVP with a selfie taken outside their polling place or at home holding their blank voting ballot for access to all the free entertainment they can squeeze into one night. “We don’t know people’s political beliefs – and don’t want to – we just want people civically engaged in the democratic process,” according to White. Fans under 18 can RSVP with a video, letting #iVoted know what election they will be 18 for, and why they’re excited to vote. International fans can RSVP simply to enjoy the talent.

The acts invited to perform were largely determined by statistics provided by Chartmetric’s data, pinpointing the favorite artists of key geographic areas that are vital in the polling process, from swing states to those that reflected low voting numbers for this demographic in the last elections.

#iVoted has attracted a dynamic all-volunteer team from all facets of the entertainment community. Kevin Lyman, founder of the Warped Tour and numerous other mega- successful festivals and tours, is one of the impressive members of the burgeoning non-profit’s board along with Lawrence Peryer ( Lyte, formerly Amazon, Warner Music Group), attorney Joyce Dollinger, Kennita Hickman (Imagine Milwaukee’s Director of Artist Outreach), Kevin Ray (Walk the Moon), Rebecca Kennedy (WNYC), MIT tenured economist Jon Gruber, Kyle Frenette (ex-Bon Iver, 46 for 46 Founder), veteran booking agent Steve Ferguson, and analytics strategist Talia Borodin.

Sponsorships and endorsements are being spearheaded by Kate Truscott, General Manager of the Kevin Lyman Group and Lisa Tenner, President of Tenner & Associates. In fact, 100% of the executive volunteer staff are women and 70% of the diverse #iVoted team are women and non-binary.

White and her co-founders have a long-range view of this project. They began for the 2018 midterm elections for which they provided more than 150 live concerts in 37 states with acts including Billie Eilish and Good Charlotte. The initiative began in swing states and expanded exponentially from there. The digital concerts this year will enable greater national impact. White says, “We want to do this every national election day from now on.”

ivotedconcerts.org ● ivotedconcerts.com ● https://facebook.com/ivotedconcerts ● twitter.com/ivotedconcerts ● instagram.com/ivotedconcerts

Media contacts:

Jo-Ann Geffen/Samantha Waranch, JAG PR (818) 905-5511

jgeffen@jagpr.comsamanthaw@jagpr.com

Sarah Curtiss, Rock Paper Scissors PR

sarah@rockpaperscissors.biz

Sponsorships/Endorsements:

Kate Truscott kate@klgroup.agency (303) 807-2969

Lisa Tenner ltenner@aol.com (702) 496-3286

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Thirty Years Ago Tonight

Posted by on Mar 6, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 1 comment

 

Nolan Dalla and Marieta Dalla 1990 Bucharest Romania

 

Today marks an anniversary, of sorts.

Thirty years ago tonight, March 6, 1990, I went on my very first date with Marieta.

I went on a blind date with a Romanian girl named Marieta Petre. She lived across the street from the national soccer stadium in central Bucharest. I picked her up at 6.

The instant I laid eyes on her, I thought I stood no chance. There was no way this was happening. She was too beautiful. I suppose it was that sense of having nothing to lose that made me relax and somehow carry on a dinner conversation that was good enough to keep her interested, leading to a second date.

Our first date was at Pescarus (which is still in business). But, thinking my chances of developing a serious relationship were at best a longshot, our second date wasn’t until after Easter, in late April.

The most interesting thing about our unusual courtship was that it all took place just as Eastern Europe’s Iron curtain was falling and the future was uncertain. Bucharest was in chaos for six months after the revolution, with marches, protests, and sporadic outbreaks of violence.

We “dated” almost every day. I got off work at the Embassy around 5. Marieta, who worked for the nearby office at Manufacturers Hanover, got off about the same time. We met up at the daily protests at University Square, which were filled with 5,000-10,000 people every single day.

One afternoon, the provisional government which was fragile and struggling to hold power, tried to break up the protests and sent in the Army. Thousands of troops tried to clear the streets. That caused the crowd to riot, torching vehicles and breaking lots of windows.

Someone took this photo of us during one of the riots. It’s our first photo together.

After the riots, that just made the protests grow larger. Crowds were so large that it was often difficult to find Marieta. So, we made a pact that we’d meet at the burned-out Army truck each day at 5;30. I think this burned Army truck sat in the streets for three months.

I have lots more fun stories to share and the old photos are fun to go back and look at — and remember. I’ll share a few more over the next few months.

Thirty years ago tonight — our first date.

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A Message to the Bernie Bashers

Posted by on Mar 5, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 2 comments

 

 

Though Bernie Sanders is correct on virtually all the issues of this election, his presidential aspirations now appear to be fading over the horizon,  His ideals are a setting sun of hopes and dreams.

But before Democrats and Biden supporters and Bernie haters in the tens of millions rejoice and pile on about Sanders’ shortcomings (and they are many), it’s worth just a moment — no, make that TWO MINUTES of your time — to remember exactly who has been there for progressive causes for nearly SIXTY FUCKING YEARS.

Yeah, I’m pissed. I’m pissed because piling on about Bernie Sanders is disgraceful.

Evidence: Watch this clip.

 

Do you think ANY OTHER CANDIDATE would stand up and take on flagrant bigotry like this?

Virtually everyone in political office was a bigot, or a fraud, or a gutless coward 25 to 35 years ago. All of them.  Certainly every Republican, and most Democrats, too. NO ONE defended gays or took on unpopular social causes. Not Biden. Not Clinton. No one.

Except for Bernie Sanders, who has been there in the trenches. Since the early 1960s. While other candidates were fellating so-called “traditional values” and cowering to hate, SANDERS has been on the front lines making enemies. Fighting the fight.

When it comes to certain issues of human rights, let me say this as clearly as I can — fuck your mainstream moderate politics.

Now — do I want Sanders to continue battling for the nomination once it’s apparent he can’t win?

No.

But a little FUCKING RESPECT during this primary process would be nice.

I guaran-damn-tee you there are ZERO clips os Biden or others in the race who stood up for things that weren’t popular 30 years ago. ZERO. NONE. NOTHING.

So, think about that next time you tear Sanders from his flesh on social media for being “too ideological” or “too extreme.”

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