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Thursday, July 26, 2012

America Drives the Olympics

One thing I find amusing during these big-box, large scale, upscale international sports competitions is that a large group of the people that the athletes wearing USA shirts are competing against are also USA athletic products themselves.

How many of these swimmers marching under the flag of their dear nation have actually spent the better part of the last 4 years swimming for American universities like Auburn, USC, UCLA and Stanford? I'd say plenty. And under full athletic scholarship no less.  Brazil's 400 IM entrant, Thiago Pereira, swims for USC, and New Zealand's Lauran Boyle swims for Cal-Berkeley. These "schools" I'm mentioning are all major Division 1 powerhouse programs with national competition schedules.

Ditto for track and field. Many of the Jamaicans, just to name a country, have been running here in the U.S. for American colleges since the 1970's.

Have I mentioned the Kenyans? They get recruited for collegiate cross country track and appear regularly in the national CC championships as well as plying their trade on the the American road running circuit. Even the Chinese beach volleyball teams actually moved to California to train full time in their sincere attempt to claim glory for the motherland.

Then there are the soccer and hockey players from all over the world playing in American collegiate and professional leagues who head back to make their national squads for the Games. Spain's basketball starting 5 all play in the NBA as do players on the teams from China and Australia to name a few.

I will hazard a guess that with the exception of Cuba and some of the Eastern European block, a majority of the worlds swimmers, figure skaters, gymnasts and runners train, and not just a little bit, in the good 'ol US of A. This is where the coaching is (or where they've defected), this is where the competition is and most important, this is where the scholarship and endorsement money is.

Many of these athletes never cite their U.S. university affiliations in their Olympic bios.

Just prior to the 1998 Olympics I remember seeing the world-class skater and future Olympic Champion Ilia Kulik of Russia skate at a charity event at Harvard University right here in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I mentioned to one of the organizers of the event how I thought that it was quite  a coup to get him to come to this event and was told it was no sweat at all since he had been training up in Westboro, MA for the last half year. Well what do you know? That's right up the road less than 20 miles away! I'll tell you where he wasn't training...Russia!

The U.S. also invents most of the new sports for other nations to blindly throw themselves at like: BMX, Mountain Biking, Beach Volleball and Snowboarding. Ok, so for this we should be apologizing to the parents of the world also. And thank God we didn't invent Synchronized Swimming! At least I don't think we did. Lord, I hope we didn't! And Rhythmic Gymnastics, what the hell is that all about?


So many of the world's elite athletes have matured in the American sports system where they were fed, clothed, housed, coached and maybe even educated so that they can head back home to "win one for my country!". I guess that's better than saying "I wanted to win but my country really had no resources to make that happen so I came to the United States". I don't think that would play well back home, where ever that is.

So while you're rooting for the nation of your choice in the newest big-money-production games just look again because the name of the place on the athlete's shirt hasn't been as important as where he or she chose to learn to play the game for a long time now and if a nation, any nation, China, Russia and even the United States included, really needs to place it's national worth on how many medals "their" athletes win, they're not fooling anybody but themselves.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Condoleezza Rice For Vice President!

I have been in love with “Condi” since I first laid eyes on her when that phony-baloney GW Bush was running for the presidency. I've always had a thing for brainy chics and Condoleezza is the real deal.

She’s brilliant! She speaks a half dozen languages fluently, is an expert on Russia and Eastern Europe, a classically trained pianist and she’s beautiful!
She is the perfect choice for Vice President for that fence walking Mitt Romney. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.  What a smart move this would be.

Oh and she would SO go out with me! 
Ok, we don’t have a whole lot in common, she’s got Ph.D and was a Provost at Stanford University for six years and I went to night school for seven years to get my Associate’s. She plays classical piano and I play bass guitar. I suppose it would be a plus if I played classical guitar but I could never get the hang of that.  I’m more of a campfire strummer.

But forget all that, I believe we were made for each other and the fact that I’m an underachiever should not stand in our way. Well, my way I guess since she doesn’t know I’m alive but this is nothing that can’t be overcome!
I can see it all now… me lounging on the couch on a Winter’s evening reading some new comic book I bought and she playing a love sonata on piano. We’d talk about each other’s day and then later in the evening while lying in bed she can whisper her innermost thoughts to me in Russian. Ok, I wouldn’t know what it is she’d be saying exactly but how lovely it would be!

Can you imagine Condoleezza Rice in a debate with that imbecile Joe Biden? He doesn’t even know where Russia is! He’d have to call up Sarah Palin for directions. All he would know is that Sarah said she could see it from her house but then Biden would also have to know where Alaska is. That would be too much for him. The liberal press would have to fake a national television blackout or something to avoid showing that debacle. “You wouldn’t believe it, folks, all the satellite trucks lost power at once!”
Hell, have Condi debate Obama. She’d kick his ass. The guy can’t go five minutes without spouting some bizarre and meaningless campaign platitude like: “We’re almost there, help me get there with you.” Now if “there” means the bottom of a financial hole that we as a nation won’t crawl out of for 15 years, he’d be right on the money!  

And the last thing the President would want to do is debate his foreign relations record with a former Secretary of State and member of the National Security Council. Go Condoleezza!
But ultimately I believe that Condi and I will be reunited. Ok, I’ve never met her but if we were to ever meet, I’m sure she’ll fall head over heels for me.  So until then, as Vice President she'll be back at the forfront of American politics I can again worship her from afar.

Ok, so perhaps Mitt would be better off with a true conservative rather than a holdover from the Bush era but this time my heart trumps my head.

Condi Rice for VP!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Loners Shoot People

That’s the way it is. These people go off in our society for one reason or another and do something heinous. Why? I don’t know. Say its pressure to succeed. Say its dreams drummed into one’s head since childhood that they can be anything they want in life and then not being able to do it.
But for whatever the reason for cracking, these people walk among us and often there is little that we can do to stop them when they do decide to inflict their damages upon society.

Now a Liberal can blame the gun for these recent murders and the Conservative can blame the shooter but that doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot if it’s your kid lying dead overnight at Columbine High School or in that Colorado movie theater.
I find the slightest thought of attempting to make political hay out of this wholesale slaughter offensive.

It disgusts me to hear any accusation that there was a political motivation or particular group affiliation to this act and the ones to utter them are worse than the dregs of our society despite their high incomes and daily media vehicles. They are merely manifestations of blind obedience, as evil in intent as the killer.
But our society has lost a step or two on the way to moral high ground and one of the chief loses in this land is justice. There can be no justice without the death penalty. There is nothing we do now that any criminal mind can respect. There is nothing that we can do to console the victim or the victim’s family that they will respect either. Justice in the U.S. is almost always a disappointment to both sides.

This man should hang for what he has done and hang before his 30th birthday. Nobody believes that will ever happen.
But life is for the living and life will go on for the rest of us. There will be the memorials and the remembrances but this too will fad only to be replaced by another such atrocity somewhere down the road someplace else and we all will again be in shock.

And it'll be too bad then too.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Obama Comes Clean, Declares War on Success

Not that this is a surprise to anyone by now but the resentment that radiates from President Obama and his adherents toward anyone successful in this country is reaching new and scary levels.

It’s not a matter of ethnic origin. No matter what “color” you are, if you want to do something with yourself, you’ve got this man and his government standing in your way.
That’s not to say that past governments haven’t gotten in your way and they certainly have but no president that I can ever recall hearing or reading about has so steadfastly and declaratively stood up in front of the American people and said that it is the State that has made you a success, not YOU making yourself a success.

I have heard this argument many times from the American Left.  It is your lower waged workers that have made you a success, it is the infrastructure put in place by the State that allows you to get your goods to market, that it is the government underwriting low interest loans that got your business off the ground.
And this is all said to undermine YOU, your DRIVE to succeed, your original ideas and your ultimate success. If you are a Hispanic businessman, a Black businessman or a White businessman, you don’t count in the equation of success.

Anyone in any business, from the laundromat owner, the carwash owner, the corner store in ANY neighborhood up to the multi-site doughnut empire magnet, you should take pause with what President Obama is implying.
You’re ok with him just as long as you don’t try to get anywhere in life.

Or maybe you’re just not hearing it the way I am.
Either the President doesn’t know or doesn’t care that the infrastructure you use to move your goods was in fact paid for by the taxes your business and other businesses like yours generated. Or that your paid staff who work for you either wouldn’t be working or doing the same thing somewhere else if YOU didn’t give them a job. And those loans would still be available and most likely at a comparable rate if the government wasn’t subsidizing them with taxpayer money.

But the bottom line is that Mr. Obama has nothing else to talk about. He’s all in with his us against them class warfare hate the privileged working class play to the lowest common denominator road show. It is now all about the destruction of every means of success that America has left to offer. Nobody will escape, nobody will be unaffected. The only unknown in all of this is how violent this will get come November. 
Nothing Obama has done to this point will stand. Obama's bloated expansion of the Federal Government is already starting to collapse under its own weight. The shortages of medicinal drugs has already begun to show itself and if your doctor retires, you will be hard pressed to find another one.  The state unions the Stimulus money has held up for the last three years is running out and the debts are pouring in with no resources to pay for them and for the first time the city unions are starting to feel the impact. Many are starting to see their pension plans frozen and are being told to  to go to a 401k. Many are seeing their $5.00 medical co-pay become $25.00.
And I say to them, “Welcome to the real world.” Now live the life we in the private sector have been living with we've watched our tax money paying for other people's kids to go to college while we take on massive debt for our own. This is what happens when you pay people not to work and live in section 8 housing instead of paying them for a full days work. 

Bad policy takes a long time to kill a system of government. Since the 1960s the Feds have been looking for places to put a bridge instead of just putting a bridge where one is needed. We didn't need a massive School Lunch Program, we didn't need a massive Correctional Infrastucture and we didn't need an ever expanding Military Machine that in spit of being in a state of perpetual war, never seems to win any of them. Why kill the job? And we thing it's only Eqypt where the military runs things.

But alas, these are the shortages and debt that will be coming to your State, your Town and your Street. This is what a Marxist State looks like.
So how do you like it?  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Boston Rock Clubs of the 1980s: Chet's Last Call

There were two clubs we really called “home” during Cool McCool’s stay on the Boston original music circuit roughly from 1983 to 1989. First was Green St. Station in Jamaica Plain and the other was the first place to give us a show: Chet’s Last Call. Chet’s was located on Lancaster Street in the North End of Boston right across the street from the old Boston Garden and which sat right above the Penalty Box bar.

Legend told of how, sometime around 1982, Chet, a short and somewhat heavyset but not overly so guy who always wore a sweater and a beret,  leased this former Discotheque that had been shut down since the mid-1970s, with its tacky shiny orangey colored contact paper, it’s elevated dance floor with iron railings, mirrored walls and a big ol' mirror ball hanging from the drop ceiling and decided NOT TO CHANGE A THING. He just trucked in a sound system and mixing board and called it a rock club! Chet's booked 3 bands a night,Wednesday through Sunday.

Although many bands playing Boston in those days played Chets like Throwing Muses, The Bags, Treat Her Right etc. there were also bands I never saw anywhere else play there. Strange and intriguing bands like Sleep Chamber with their b&w flyers always featuring women in leather bondage gear, The Flys, The Pajama Slave Dancers, The Bent Men, The Bosstones (before they were “Mighty Mighty”) and one of my favorite bands in town, The Wandells with their Punkabilly sound and songs like “Basket-Case Boogie” and “Who Cares Anyway?” There was a real underground atmosphere at Chet's.

Don’t know what the “Vomit Bunny” stickers were all about but they were discretely placed and featuring a cute little white rabbit spewing a copious amount of red liquid. Who thinks of this stuff and why did they make a sticker out of it? I didn't even know if they were a band.

Cool McCool actually made money at Chet’s meaning over $125.00 as a band on weekends. It was a popular joint and there were nights it was just elbow to elbow. The first time we headlined a weekend night I remember turning around during set up and being totally surprised to see a room full of people looking back! It wasn’t something I was used to seeing that much at the time, ha, but it’s one of those feelings that you never want to let go of.

We also lived every band’s nightmare at Chet’s when the band I’ll Never Name as Long as I Live managed to clear the room of everybody but the people who worked there when they opened for us one night for the first and last time.

Since the trains stopped running at midnight in those days (early for a modern city, right?) the soundman at Chet’s would set up the board for the last act and then literally run out the door for the train.

Chet was a pretty funny guy and would have some great lineups. One year on the anniversary of Woodstock, Chet had “Chetstock” which the posters displayed a Woodstock parody picture of a buzzard sitting on the neck of a guitar. That night had an unbelievable array of acts from The Condo Pygmies (I don't wanna live in a nuclear apartment!), Scruffy the Cat, The Turbines to The Flys and a rare appearance by Valdez the Sinner and climaxed when the Dogmatics ripped what was left of the ceiling over the stage down. Classic.

So three of the best shows I’ve ever seen at Chet’s were: The Wandells who like I mentioned were a great Punkabilly Trio and I tried not to miss any of their shows. I never knew the lead singers name but he was a "born to be" rock & roller with a brown leather jacket, jeans and dark hair so long in the front that you couldn’t see his eyes EVER. It was just hair with a cigarette sticking out of it and he talked so fast that even though I was born in Boston and lived here all my life I couldn’t understand hardly a word he said. I don’t think they ever recorded an album so their music is lost to the world. Don’t know whatever happened to any of them but they were the BALLS!

 The Bent Men, Bill Desmond’s band, featuring Reeves Gabrels on guitar who I believe went on to tour with David Bowie in Tin Machine in the 1990s had a reputation for putting on a theater of the absurd. They were Pink Floyd-ish in sound but visually and content wise they were astounding and they drew big crowds where ever they played. There was a “mime” seated near the stage and he would visibly tremble every time Des would come near him. The show was dedicated to a certain controversial incident happening in Boston at the time. Des still owns The Sound Museum, a rehearsal and recording facility he opened later in the South End of Boston.

But the best show I ever saw there, or anywhere really, was The Pajama Slave Dancers where the house was packed and people were so fucking loud. They were Punk, they were Surf and they were hysterical. They would apologize after some of their songs and sometime even before. Songs like “Homo Truck Driving Man”, “Defreeze Walt Disney” with the immortal line: “Walt was a great old geezer, will someone please take him out of the freezer.”, the instrumental “Fast Cars, Girls in Bikinis” and my favorite “Farm Rap”. People were physically pushing these guys around while they were playing and at one point one of the guitar players (Steve) runs backwards over the railing and is caught and thrown back onto the stage by people in the crowd. That was a real leap of faith because if they decided to dodge him, he would’ve busted his fool neck. But he didn’t and it was great.

Chet’s, for all the awesome rock, was also a heroin den. Chet and most of his staff were reportedly also addicts. The dead giveaway could have been the excessively sweating patrons spacing out at a table or the bartender leaving the bar and going through the door marked "No Admitance" to get a nose-full or every now and then there would be someone who mistakenly tried to go out the back entrance and was caught between the self-locking door and the locked security gate and would have to beg for someone to go upstairs and tell them they were there so they could let them out. They were always three sheets to the wind. I had heard that Chet got clean quite awhile ago now and I hope he’s doing well.

Chet's was always a hard sell to our crowd. "Call me when you play someplace nice." was a familiar refrain. But the area Chet's was located had a certain air of uncertainty about it after nightfall and there were a couple of times after a show when the patrons had gone where I felt more than a twinge of concern being out on the street on my own but that's showbusiness.

And then there was a murder on Lancaster St. (Chet's was on the corner of Lancaster and Causway St.)two nights before one of our shows and our people wouldn’t go anymore. Chet started having troubles to the point where the name of the club on the wall outside was painted over. Chet was still booking bands but the place closed shortly thereafter in the late 80s.

Chet’s has passed into Boston Rock Folklore and rightfully so. Some good bands got to see the light of day at Chet’s Last Call. Chet gave bands a chance to play and for this I am forever grateful.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Economic Double Talk

How tiresome is all this ‘wink wink” media spin on what is good news and what is bad news on the US economy? Spin it anyway you want to, we all know its bad news.

If everybody knows that people dropping out of the work force are not being tallied in the national unemployment figures then why is anybody even talking about them? It makes no sense yet this totally useless unemployment “statistic” is reported every month even though it has no meaning.  

One media outlet will say “less people applied for unemployment benefits this month”, Good news, Good President! Another says “more jobs were lost than created this month”. Bad news, Bad President! Who watches Television News anymore?

Then there is this "job creation” myth. A government can only create a job in abstract since it can either get in the way or out of the way of a private citizens ability to make their own way in the world. In that respect, one can reason, a government can create a job. The government can declare something “illegal” and create an industry like our public sector multi-billion dollar Corrections Industry that keeps more people locked up than any other nation in the world. It’s ok though folks, they’re all criminals!

Or the government can declare you can’t throw certain items in the trash and create a recycling industry. And then the government can decide an industry is needed like the new Green Energy industry the present administration is breaking the bank over.

The hard distinction for people to contemplate is that these “industries” are artificial. They can't stand alone and they lose money. Many times lots of money. And since they are publicly funded ie: taxpayer supported “businesses” the shortfall is made up from public funds. These government organizations operate at a deficit and never can go out of business or become bankrupt since taxes are always taken to shore up the loses. 

We see these people in our community, good people, like us almost, who want to do a good job and raise their kids and have a home etc. But they aren't like us because we in the private sector pay their salaries and they are often higher than our own. How does that work for you?

You see them working and you think the government has created these jobs but they haven’t. What you DON”T see is the jobs and industries that ARE NOT created because the government has taken resources out of the economy to insure that their programs are funded. The money has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is the private sector because the private sector is the only group in ANY nation that actually produces something and creates jobs and wealth. Governments do not create wealth, the money they use comes from the people; taxpayers.

In other words: The Government Sucks…resources from us to transfer it to THEIR idea of what industries this nation should have and, as we have seen, has created a hell of a voting block to boot. It’s not about doing things better or more efficiently, it’s about control and when the government takes too much, private business and private citizens suffer the consequences. And here we are.

Spending tax money to the point of massive deficits does not create jobs. Increasing the public’s tax burden is not going to create jobs. Giving away resources for free isn't going to create JOBS. Not real jobs anyway that last beyond the government's ability to prop them up. If the public has less money in their pockets or are afraid to spend what they do have, no business that isn't selling an absolute necessity is going to survive. All other industries will be in for a hard ride. 

And if you think American citizens are so soft, so spoiled and so obsessed that they couldn't stop buying stupid stuff like the Salad Shooter or go without a pedicure or cable Television, think again. The tougher the economy and the tougher the tax burden the more people will change their behavior and the less they will spend.

And here lies the great unsolvable dilemma of a Socialist state. Try as it might, it can't pick a "right" industry. And as the State grows, it causes other aspects of society to shrink. Like a Cancer. Without the means of production and process of consumption, the jobs decrease and the taxes decrease and the system will fall. It is the unsolvable dilemma of Socialism.

So the Federal Reserve can continue to lower borrowing rates and the government can continue to borrow to hold up it’s public sector house of cards but one has to keep in mind that it’s all borrowed money and there is less and less of the private sector every day to pay it back.

Call it anything you want but this is not a design for a successful nation but more so a design for calculated failure.

And we’re closer to that today than we were yesterday.