The Democratic Party Internal War

Surrealist vs Realist Progressives
Perhaps as recently as 10 years ago I would have been included in the surrealist faction of the Democratic Party, a place where a vivid imagination meets the bold and visionary determinism to “do good for all” and right all the wrongs in America as quickly as possible. End all racism, sexism, homophobia, and the ugly specter of divisive hate that has poisoned the USA since its inception. Bridge the massive—and growing—income inequality. Provide government-financed health care for all citizens. Protect and uplift all children by providing excellent public schools and government programs to shield them from hunger, extreme poverty, and abuse. Reduce crime by reducing the reasons to engage in criminality in the first place (such as more well-paying jobs). Provide government-financed drug treatment for the millions of addicts across the country. Clean up the environment to provide safe and clean water and air, moreover reduce greatly the pollutants and behaviors that have led the world down the perilous path of increasing global warming and catastrophic climate change. Reduce the massive number of incarcerated citizens, many of whom are charged with drug crimes of simple possession and use, where treatment would have been a better option rather than prison terms. Decrease the Defense budget and stop the USA from engaging in unnecessary military engagements that have nothing to do with national security. Banking and business reform for a business community where superbanks, too big to fail, poison our financial system and commerce, and massive mega-monopolies control our markets. Ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and restrict the sale of guns through better background checks.

All bold, noble, lofty, and yet cogent ideals. All shared by a vast majority of Democrats I am sure. All provable to work too, as most of our Social Democratic European allies have implemented these progressive ideals for decades. One can visit Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Germany, and Spain, for instance, and witness the success of so many of these ideals in practice. It can be costly and these folks pay more taxes than citizens of the USA, but the quality of life in these countries is far better for all citizens than in the USA.

Some would call it Socialism; I call it Social Democracy since Socialism was originally devised to be foisted on the proletariat by revolutions against the ruling class and run by a hierarchical, all-powerful, “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Meanwhile citizens freely choose Social Democracy through free elections, and vote for the government that manages it. It’s huge distinction, one which, of course, the dopes on FOX News and other far-right media outlets fail to make in all their irrational, logical-fallacy-laden blathering.

So why do I call this a “surrealist” viewpoint? Simply because, while I agree with the eventual implementation of all these great ideas and programs—unlike the surrealists who want everything now—I believe, as a realist, that most Social Democratic change can only be truly enacted slowly and incrementally in a country greatly divided not only over political ideology, but also religiously and philosophically. Most importantly, it must be done with the will and assent of a majority of the citizenry with respect to our Constitutional process for passing laws, not through revolutions, coups, or any other shortcut to usurping power from the people.

Nearly half the country doesn’t want most of these things, or at least it doesn’t think it does. It isn’t much of a democracy if we try to force the other side to submit to ideas for which it holds no purchase. Which, in a way, is quite funny, since the country right now is ruled at all levels—national, state, local—by a determined, mostly shamefully gerrymandered, minority political faction who do believe it’s perfectly fine to force their ideology on those who oppose it, and who will assume power by any ruthless means necessary, the Constitution and people be damned. That is the fundamental difference between right-wing ideology and the progressive, Social Democratic left. Democracy matters to the left.

The realists want the same things as the surrealists, at least philosophically. The problem has become that the surrealists have wrapped themselves in an arrogant and self-righteous stance fueled by their so-called belief they are “woke,” and hence more enlightened and certain that their beliefs are more correct and just than the rest of humanity on issues of race, social justice, economics, environmentalism, and public policy. Being “woke” is some sort of divine enlightenment that implies a higher state of consciousness about “what is going on and what needs to be done,” which is, of course, a ridiculously puerile kind of arrogant and often destructive certainty also held by religious fanatics and a vast gaggle of political radicals in the past—fascists, communists, socialists, and anarchists—who did great harm to societies all over the world by trying to shape them into narrow and restrictive, often repressive confines poisoned by their radical certainty and arrogant belief that their way was the only way. It is a destructive mindset regardless of the ideology or belief system guiding it. It is also highly anti-Democratic.

This divide is growing in the Democratic Party and was partially responsible for Hillary losing the 2016 election. A great many of the surrealist followers of Bernie Sanders just couldn’t seem to hold their noses and vote for the realist Hillary Clinton. Moreover, Hillary’s campaign did a poor job convincing the surrealists—and many independent voters alike—that she was on their side. Of course, it didn’t help that she lacked the charisma and mass appeal that should have sold her to her own party and created enough unity within it to carry her to victory as Obama had done in 2008 and 2012. Sadly, Hillary was not Obama, who would have crushed Trump in 2016 as he had done to McCain and Romney in the two previous elections.

It will be interesting to see if one of the current candidates can unify these two biggest factions of Democrats. I think, honestly, Elizabeth Warren has the greatest chance and is a solid, smart, and masterful political leader, but so far she’s polling behind Joe Biden, a centrist and realist, and to me, honestly, an utterly ridiculous choice merely because of his advanced age and the fact he’s always been a bit of a boob and bumbler, not a bad second banana as he proved working as Obama’s Vice President, but being the top leader, the POTUS? No. Biden hardly inspires the surrealist or realist, but he is still a better choice than bumblefuck Trump and most of the other Democratic candidates. That’s not saying enough in my mind. Warren is clearly more capable than Joe on most intellectual levels, but even I acknowledge Uncle Joe has a warmth and inspirational side that makes Trump look like the fat, ignorant child that he is.

Bernie Sanders. Ah, Bernie. On Bernie I am conflicted. He’s too old, he’s too irascible and petty at times, and far too radical for a vast majority of centrist voters. Yet of course—of course!—he has some amazing progressive ideas, and as the only admitted Socialist in the race, he does inspire the left with his promises of health care for all, bridging the income gap, taxing the rich more, attacking global warming with gusto and substantive legislation, providing free university education, and the like. Bravo, Bernie! The man has brass balls and never fears to speak his mind. We all love the bastard for this. Without a doubt all leftist progressives, especially the surrealists, love Bernie. He and Liz Warren are the only candidates capable of articulating a real path to change in this country. I just don’t feature Bernie as the leader of the free world. His job is to keep the Democratic Party inspired to push progressivism as far as is possible with a hostile conservative Congress, even if its the minority on both houses after 2020.

Beto O’Rourke has lots of energy and ebullience, but he often seems awkward at articulating intellectual subjects on the fly, which hardly inspires confidence that he’s got the depth to grasp the big picture. Kamala Harris has an impressive political résumé, but, like Beto, seems awkward at articulating on the fly on deeper subjects, and her policy proposals lack any sense of gravitas compared to Liz Warren, who literally has a good plan for everything. Cory Booker has always had a boatload of ambition, but to me he’s never really shown the moral courage and spine to handle leadership under fire. Mayor Pete seems nice and smart, but he’s also boring and uninspiring, plus, and I hate to say this, a lot of America will not vote for a gay man for President. Maybe in eight years, Mayor Pete. The rest of the field, who the fuck cares, they can’t win.

It’s Warren or Biden, I’m afraid. I hope that’s enough.

While I disagree with the surrealists because of their often myopic and ridiculously arrogant approach to public discourse, where they often shout down even those with whom they are mostly in agreement on what must be done to fix this country, I do agree heartily with what they believe on most issues. And while many issues do require a greater sense of urgency—the environment comes to mind—democracy isn’t about always getting your way, it is about two sides of an issue agreeing to compromise in the best interest of all citizens. Surrealists, much like far-right and religious fanatics, fail to grasp this. Yet I do not hold any malice or hatred toward surrealist progressives like I do the far right and religious fanatics in this country. I realize the surrealists are of course my brothers and sisters, and I love and cherish their deterministic values and passionate desire to change this country for the betterment of all people. I only dislike their tendency toward intellectual myopia, hysteria, and excessive certainty.

The surrealists’ destructive approach to public discourse often turns off the great mass of people in this country who just do not even begin to understand what they truly need. These largely indifferent and/or ignorant people need to be respected even in their indifference and/or ignorance, not berated or condescend upon, nor should they be talked over in the national discourse as if they are children or incapable of making rational choices. This great mass of indifferent and/or ignorant voters is the key to winning back our democracy if we progressives can state our case to them in a rational, respectful, and convincing manner. Shouting at ignorant and/or indifferent people, calling them pejoratives like “racist” or “redneck” or “moron” or “deplorables” won’t win their vote. Treating them, not as unenlightened enemies, but instead as potential allies who just need to hear our views without treating them as inconsequential—but instead extremely vital—is the key to trouncing Trump.

A great communicator can do this, as Obama proved so effectively. Obama, however, probably failed to implement as much progressive ideology as he could have, and that was why many surrealists came to embrace Bernie Sanders in 2016. They felt that Obama fell short of their lofty expectations, and to be honest, they were not wrong. Obama was too much a realist and centrist and not enough surrealist progressive. His ultimate failure was not doing enough when he had the chance, when he held the power to make significant changes. Had Obama done this, there never would have been the need for a Bernie Sanders to voice the frustration of so many progressives as we witnessed in the 2016 Democratic primaries.

A realist always understands the amazing power of reason, logic, and rational discourse. Passion is great, sure, but only if it’s wrapped in the above principles. Passion without reason, logic, and rational discourse is fanaticism. And it’s destructive. What we truly need is a leadership that embraces progressive idealism, but also can communicate a sane, rational, and realistic path by which we can implement these great ideals. Moreover, this leadership needs to convince the tens of millions out there who are, ideologically, on the fence, and win them back to where they will be championed by people who not only believe in what is right for them, but can convince them of this without insulting them.

I don’t see a Democratic Presidential candidate who is doing this very well. Trump is very successful at roiling up the ugly, mean, and divisive hate that so many people who follow him feel inside themselves; that they are mad is justifiable, but what’s wrong is Trump makes them mad at everything–Mexicans, Muslims, Chinese, etc. etc.—except why they should really be mad. We need someone who can reach these mad and frustrated people and help enlighten them on why they are being screwed, not make them angrier like Trump does over false boogiemen and phony red herrings. Let the facts convince the masses. Just present them better and with more clarity. It’s a tough task given the angry and divisive era in which we live, but it can be done.

Trump doesn’t give two shits about helping or uplifting these people at his rallies, he just wants their votes, and he says the things that appeal to their uglier irrational sides, not their reason. Demagoguery always wins in a vacuum. If it’s countered with a positive and rational set of progressive Democratic arguments that also appeals to the same masses who respond to the demagoguery, then Trump can be defeated. Hillary lost because she always sounded shrill and condescending to the very people she needed to convince to vote for her, while Trump stirred them up by appealing to their worst selves. Millions of people voted for Trump as a “fuck you” to the elites who so often talk down to them or treat them as inconsequential. So let’s start treating these fellow citizens as how they should be treated, as our allies who we need to convince about our cause, not ignorant children for whom we think we know better.

We need surrealists and we need realists in the Democratic Party. But what we need most is to win, not to always be right and just and “woke.” We need to focus on what we can do realistically, and meanwhile how we can convince millions of our fellow citizens that we are on their side and they are on ours, not how pure and righteous and just our cause is, to that they are stupid and wrong because they fall outside our lofty expectations. That never wins converts. That never wins elections. That never wins power in a democracy.

Let’s be smart and try to win this time.

The Standards

I was born in 1963, and my fondest childhood memories in the 60s were of riding with my large brood of siblings and my parents in our station wagon as we headed to our favorite quaint little family resort called Turkey Hallow, run by our dear friends the Verschor family. It was a small lake with a beach and camping grounds, and most of its members were friends of my parents or older siblings. During that hour-long ride from our house in Rock Island, IL to the lake located to the southwest of the city, we’d have the radio blaring all the hits of that magical era, and we’d all sing along, usually badly and without knowing all the lyrics, but who cared, we were together, happy, and life was fun.

My childhood coincided with the golden era of Rock & Roll, which began with the Beatles and Stones and the rest of the British Invasion, and lasted until the late 70s when Punk tore it all down. It was a musical era of bold experiments and brilliant pop, of larger-than-life superstars and brilliant singer-songwriters who turned the simple chords and beats of Rock & Roll into art. It saw the rise of the massively wide appeal of its brightest stars and their sold-out stadium tours, and also of the abject depravity of the decadence surrounding these wild tours. Within all this madness came the music. Oh, man, the music! It defined my generation, and its greatest anthems, even now, forty and fifty years later, echo with amazing potency to our future generations

It would be difficult to list ten of my all-time favorite Rock & Roll anthems, as there were hundreds of amazing songs from my youth that would be worthy of such high praise. However, there are a few that, as a 56-year-old, still resonate in my memories like a brilliantly-bright star that refuses to collapse. I will list them from 10 to 1, the anthems that ruled my life for so much of it. I could easily list 100 others of almost equal potency, but I like to think these are the most cherished by me.

10. Cinnamon Girl – Neil Young with Crazy Horse (1969)
Young was—is—a moody, irascible, restless artist who would change musical direction with each song he wrote, never comfortable as a pop star, though of course he was one of the biggest of his generation. His voice could be shrill and annoying, and he wasn’t the deftest guitar player, and yet the man wrote so many songs of lasting brilliance and popular appeal. What Neil had was a depth of feeling that translated perfectly to his music, and at his best he could captivate the listener with songs written in simple chord progressions and even simpler beats, and yet within that narrow confine lay something of sublime sonic beauty. I smoked a ton of pot listening to Neil Young in my teens, often at night in my bedroom with my headphones on, and during this song I dreamt of a gorgeous girl, a classmate in junior and senior high of mine I adored, unrequited, for many years, and I was sure Neil had written about her specifically in this superb song. Powered by a simple but catchy guitar chord progression and Neil’s winsomely subtle vocal harmonies with the rest of Crazy Horse, this song captures the romantic vision of the type of girl like my youthful obsession, a free-spirited, mysterious, tight-jeans-clad, ethereal beauty who left me breathless with desire. I wish you all could have known her; I felt honored just to be able to be in her majestic presence despite the fact she barely noticed me. Later, as adults, we got together in Las Vegas in 2010 and I confessed my undying teenage adoration of her. She was like, dude, you should have talked me, you were cute and I so would have dated you. Whatever, c’est la vie. My Cinnamon Girl was too good for my teenage version of myself in my insecure mind.

9. Ventura Highway – America (1972)
Yes, yes, they were a knockoff of Crosby, Still, and Nash, blah, blah, blah, but in 1972-1973 I was a monumentally-depressed boy watching his father slowly die of a brain tumor, and the older brother of my best friend murdered, during that horrible awful painful fucking two years, and music was my only respite from the horror show, especially America’s sweet, simple, folksy, extremely catchy pop songs that kept me afloat as I slowly drowned in sorrow. It was the life preserver around my neck. Dewey, Dan, and Gerry captured magic in a bottle on some of their best songs, and this was reflected in the high pop chart positions this bottled magic yielded as millions (fuck the critics!) hummed along to them as they played on radios or hi-fi stereo systems all across America and beyond. For years after my Dad died, I couldn’t listen to this song without bawling, so I avoided any memory that took me back to that horrible place, even if it had been something that kept me from slashing my wrists or jumping off our roof as I contemplated so many times. I owe music my life. It kept me sane even in my darkest moments. This beautiful little tune was my drug of choice to keep me alive. I am forever grateful.

8. Madman Across the Water – Elton John (1971)
See #9 for reasons for Mat Scheck to live, the 1972-73 edition of my life. While America’s songs were the drug that kept me sane, Elton’s best songs were the pacemaker that kept my heart beating. I have no happy memories from those years, not a single fucking one. I hated the world and I wanted to die. But here I am 46 years later, living, breathing, thriving. Thank you, Elton and Bernie. You lads wrote some amazing tunes. I owe you both more than I could ever repay.

7. Sitting Still – R.E.M. (1983)
My Army buddy Jim Torey rushed into my barracks room with a record album under his arm, and he was nearly hyperventilating with excitement as he manically described what he was sure was the best fucking album he’d ever bought. Jim was a deep, nutty, and brilliant guy, ergo this declaration had to be taken seriously, so we we spent a few hours listening to R.E.M.’s album Murmur that day, and, damn, Jim was right, it was the best fucking record I’d ever heard in my life. There was nothing like it. NOTHING. The music was somewhere between the jingle-jangle rock of The Byrds and the Do It Yourself fuzzbox cool of Punk, moreover you couldn’t understand a lick of what the singer was inarticulating, but the sound was so crisply cool, so moving and magical, and so utterly original, that Jim and I were immediately enthralled. It changed our lives in 1983. Music would never be the same to us. R.E.M. opened up whole new sounds and styles and forms on this record. Strong words, I know, and a bold declaration, but you had to be there at Fort Benning that day and feel the immense vibes created by this amazing music by this band from Georgia that captured our love in that moment. Thirty-six years later I still have no idea what Michael Stipe was singing, and I still don’t give a fuck. I still love this song as much today as I did then. It still moves me to almost indescribable bliss.

6. What Difference Does It Make? – The Smiths (1983 Peel Sessions Version)
Hatful of Hollow was the first album by The Smiths I bought, and by the second song on Side One I knew—KNEW—this would be my favorite band. The brilliant level of musicianship and lyrical eloquence grabbed my sensibilities almost violently, almost painfully. This song in particular, played live in the studio for John Peel’s BBC show, just spoke to me in ways I couldn’t even explain back in 1985 when I bought this album. It just worked for me. It had the anger and energy of Punk, but it wasn’t Punk, it was amazing guitar rock with a driving sound and the nuttiest fucking lead singer ever. This lead singer had a funny high baritone timbre and he sounded like a prissy, persnickety sissy with nutty homoerotic obsessions, but goddamn was he also smart and funny and utterly fucking relevant to me, moreover the guitar player was freak-of-nature great, wildly inventive and superbly sublime, and, finally, goddamnit, as if to add insult to the happy violent injury in my already elated brain, the bass and drums were just plain perfect. This was a great fucking band. I was smitten, floored, and forever enthralled with this weirdly wonderful and highly original Rock & Roll band from Manchester, UK. Oh fuck yes.

5. Ten Years Gone – Led Zeppelin (1975)
Like so many American teenagers from the 1970s, I had a few years where Led Zeppelin was my favorite Rock & Roll band; how many nights did I lie in bed listening to all their amazing songs? Untold. I could name ten songs by this great band that could make this list, but this subtle, sad lament about past love has always been my favorite Zeppelin song. You can feel Robert Plant’s remorse not only for his lost love from days gone by, but also for the fact his vocal range will never be what it once was from his younger years, and there’s a sadness to that fact. He was still a great singer, but he’d never hit the high notes again as he had back in 1969. That made me sad in 1975. By 1978 Zeppelin fell hard from my favorites as I moved on to other bands and newer sounds, and for years afterward I never really gave their records a whirl. But in the mid 70s the band’s music defined so much of my life.

4. Bad – U2 (1984)
I saw U2 live in Paris on July 4, 1987 with my then girlfriend, a beautiful German girl from Zweibrücken named Tanya, who bought the tickets for my 24th birthday. Tanya was a tall, lithe, and super-sexy ginger with mesmerizing eyes who looked like the actress Scarlett Johansson, and she was by far the singular love of my life; no woman has ever loved me with such passion and intensity as this gorgeous German girl with a violent temper and almost destructive intensity. Our romance was tumultuous as fuck as she never fully trusted me, mainly because I was a philandering fool who never gave her good reason to earn her trust; it all ended a few months later when she caught me with another girl. She was the only woman I had ever even imagined making babies with, and holy fuck would she and I have made some beautiful ones. To say I fucked up here is an understatement, the greatest romantic tragedy in a life filled with such toxic disasters.

We drove to the show from Martinshöhe, Germany, where I lived, in my 1980 Pontiac Firebird, an exotic American muscle car few French people had ever seen, so when we parked it became a popular oddity for so many of the show’s denizens who parked near us. The show was of course magnificent, as U2 never fails to deliver live, but on this song, while high on hashish and crowd energy, and just weeks after the worst imaginable experience of my military career, The USS Stark Incident where I played a key role in recovering and identifying the dead sailors from that horrible tragedy, I broke down in tears like a child. Tanya had been my rock during the horrible aftermath of my USS Stark experience where I often needed a tremendous push just to get out of bed every day, and she immediately grasped the magnitude of the psychic pain I was releasing in my tears as U2 played this fucking powerfully beautiful song that night in Paris. It didn’t fully heal me, but it did get easier each day afterward to get out of bed and get back to the fun of living again. When Tanya left me in September 1987 I thought I could find another like her, but 32 years have passed and no one has ever come close to her. How many women have I fucked since her while I imaged it was her? All of them.

3. L.A. Woman – The Doors (1971)
When I was at Burning Man in 2000, I related to the group who sat with me around the bonfire about the story of my brief friendship in 1983 with a nefarious and motley group of bikers and outlaws I met through my stripper girlfriend, who I met at a club on the outskirts of Fort Benning. They lived in a rural campground out in the nowhere of Southwestern Georgia near the Chattahoochee River, a gaggle of redneck gypsies and hardcore bikers and their old ladies who consumed drugs and alcohol in such copious quantities that I, an Army medic, stared in wonderment that they weren’t all dead from overdose. The men were all roughnecks and the women both beautiful and yet feral; the men got by selling dope and fixing cars and cycles while the gals all danced at the clubs for Benning’s endless supply of horny soldiers with fistfuls of payday cash.

My crazy new friends lived free and on their own terms in campers and tents, and didn’t give a fuck if tomorrow ever came as long as tonight was epic. Every night they’d build a huge bonfire and blast music, and the campground turned into an insane orgy of dancing, illicit substance abuse, and sexual perversity that would have made the Romans of old embarrassed. Fast forward to Burning Man in 2000. I said to the so-called “rebels and outcasts” and whatever these dippy kids thought they were, you have no idea what it means to be a crazy outcast until you met this wild crew I met in the summer of 1983 is Southwestern Georgia out in the swampy woodlands near Fort Benning. These motherfuckers were crazy, free, and insane like no one I ever met again; they really didn’t give a fuck. I was so terrified by this freedom I ran away from it after a few weeks when I dumped my crazy stripper girlfriend who dragged me to this encampment of nihilistic insanity and licentious self-destruction. I would guess most were dead by 2000. I asked, can we play L.A. Woman by The Doors and dance around the fire like I did back in ’83 with my insane outlaw pals? The Burning Man gang, eager for “alternative” authenticity, of course agreed. And off we went. Still, it wasn’t much like my experience with my stripper baby and her insane gang. But the memories sure felt good. You wanna get your hippie dance on, motherfuckers, like my crazy redneck gypsy biker friends and their stripper old ladies in Southwestern Georgia who embraced my straight-laced Army ass that summer of 1983, well, put this fucking awesome song on your music player and TURN IT THE FUCK UP.

2. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones (1969)
I was six in 1969. Men walked on the Moon. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated the year before. There seemed to be almost nightly reports of horrific race riots in every major American city. The fucking 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a violent shit show as Chicago cops beat the fuck out of hippies while CBS News videotaped it all. The Vietnam War raged on and we watched the casualty lists daily to see if another relative or neighborhood boy serving over there died. And the horrors in ‘Nam never seemed to end: Khe Sanh, The Tet Offensive, Hamburger Hill, etc. I am sure there was plenty of free love and peace in America, but it was a lie to say things were good. Things were not good. We were a country divided, mortally wounded, and angry. These pale British Rock & Roll superstars put out a song that captured all this psychic angst in one bold, powerful, beautiful song that captured the airwaves as 1969 turned into 1970. Goodbye, hippie love fest, hello reality, motherfuckers. Reality was a police nightstick smashing a black face as buildings burned in the background and the Viet Cong killed Billy down the street who joined the 101st Airborne after high school. We were in pain and this was the anthem. Unity in America died in 1969 and it’s never come back.

1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen (1976)
We were driving from our new home in Indiana to our old one in Illinois to visit friends and family, I recall it was a cold, shitty day in 1976, when this nutty song came on the radio. I was sitting in the back seat with my sisters Jeanne and Maggie, and when this played we looked at each other, both puzzled and yet we could not help but fall in love with this crazy, weird, wonderful song. When it was over we looked at each other and were too confused by what we heard to speak. And then, about 20 minutes later on another radio station, we heard it again. On that 5-hour car trip were heard it about six times. By the sixth it was our favorite song and we knew all the words and sang along like idiots. Queen had pushed the limits of Rock & Roll way beyond what anyone thought was the outer boundary, and this insanely brilliant song is testimony to the band’s hubris and genius. It’s silly, sure, but also has powerful moments and kicks ass; it fucking ROCKS. It’s easily the most memorable Rock & Roll song of my lifetime. It’s Metal; it’s Pop; it’s Opera; it’s Rock & Roll! I dare Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga or Beyonce or some other shitty pop star from today to come close this kind of brilliance. I double-dog dare you.

Hewson Family Rockers

Bono, aka Paul Hewson, and his band U2 crashed the party with this kick-ass debut hit song that showed these four lads from Dublin had listened to Punk but were going to forge a new sound for the new decade, the 1980s, which of course U2 pretty much owned as a band. This video is a reminder of just how fucking great U2 was back in the day. And this song can’t touch New Year’s Day or anything from Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby, two of rock’s greatest albums. But it was an amazing debut.

Fast forward nearly 40 years and Bono’s son Eli Hewson and his band Inhaler have made a huge splash of their own. You can hear echoes of U2, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Duran Duran from the 80s, along with The Killers, Bloc Party, and The Kooks from a decade ago. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in the Hewson family. Plus Eli’s beautiful face will moisten the panties of girls worldwide. Good stuff all around. Rock isn’t dead yet.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

U2 – I Will Follow (1980)

Inhaler – My Honest Face (2019)

Fear of Trump? Ah, No…

Cleopatra’s dumpy sister with the $1 million boob jobs, ass-plasty, and countless facelifts and labia reconstructions. It’s all creepy but she’s richer and more famous, ergo she MUST be the better person than little old Mat the loser.

The USA is a goofy, fucked-up country.

Exhibit A: There’s a massive gaggle of chicks who worship that awful Kardashian monstrosity, she of the 10,000 plastic surgeries for I don’t even know what the fuck for, and after all of them she’s still a gargantuan-assed poop sack who wears fifty layers of grotesque makeup, the most expensive clothes on this planet, and yet she remains a horrible-looking circus freak, more silicon than human tissue, moreover she’s creepily icky to boot—and of course half-witted and vapid. Having said that, she and her siblings are also gazillionaires with a huge legion of worshipers. Bravo for her family’s massive success and fame, sure, but WHAT THE FUCK?

Like I said, this country of ours is fucking nuts. I have no idea why that family is famous, nor do I spend any time pondering it, but it’s there and obvious even for those, like me, who try to avoid knowing anything about it all. All I can say is, what rampant fever damaged the brains of so many millions? Why don’t I get it? Am I the crazy one for not understanding this madness? She looks like a blowup doll of Elizabeth Taylor during her fat phase with some of the air taken out and the plastic shorn and shaped to make her look thinner. It’s fucking weird and hideous.

And here I am the anonymous loser lamenting it all with my reason intact and my senses keen, a canary in the coal mine, so to speak, asking a simple question: What the fuck, America, WHAT THE FUCK?

In the “Red State” parts of the country, where the creepy, redneck Jesus-freak morons are the majority, and where I don’t know why any rational human being would want to live, they have created a nutso-wacko culture where science is denied over leaps of idiotic faith in religions so stupid and irrational that even your average dog or cat or sewer rat would reject them as silly. I think all religions are stupid, but in the USA we’ve created some real doozies that defy even the lowest common denominator of stupid in a country where we’ve been illuminated by the brilliant light of the Age of Enlightenment for over 300 years, in fact we were the first nation-state to embrace its most fundamental tenets, you know, freedom and liberty for its citizenry, free speech, due process, freedom from religious domination, we elect our leaders instead of letting some king or duke or pope or dictator rule us, et al. And yet, despite this and later the brilliant leap forward in the 20th Century in science, education, and progressive thinking, tens of millions of Americans wallow in superstition, religious ignorance, and willful stupidity. Not only that, but they are mean, cruel, and intolerant fanatics who do cling to their guns and nutty religion appallingly. Lovely people other than that. Sure. My fellow Americans. E pluribus unum and all. Maybe not.

I sure sound like a snob, right? I would be the first person to openly state that, in the USA, our citizens can live and think and worship and fuck others (consenting adults only) however they see fit. Of course I do! I believe we all have the right to be whatever the fuck we want, and fuck anyone who says otherwise. But—and let me be clear about this—it doesn’t mean people are above criticism for being morons who leave a wake of destruction in their path, or that anyone is above castigation for their actions and behavior when it treads on my personal space or tries to force a religious belief into my life by law to which I don’t subscribe. So if I call people bad names and mock their stupidity and freaky value system, that too is my right as a citizen of the USA.

I respect your right to worship how or who you want, but not for a moment do I have to respect your religion or faith. Fuck no. And I will not. Nor am I required to give you a free pass if you’re a loudmouth fucking idiot expressing your nonsense publicly. I will use logic, reason, and facts to bury your stupid expressions and arguments, and gladly. Moreover I am not required to be nice or polite about it. I relish the idea of offending idiots. I feel the USA is overrun with them any more.

Trump is nothing more than the gigantic, puss-filled ass boil that was created in this poisonous, illiterate, and bafflingly stupid era. Fear him? Hell no, he’s the biggest source of comedy in the modern history of the world. Fat, stupid, and vaingloriously pompous, Trump is what you get when 40% of the USA’s citizens have lost their fucking minds and helped elect a twit as their “champion.” Look at his ridiculous political rallies, filled with tubby and half-witted white morons who couldn’t name five elements on the Periodic Chart, and whose grasp of history is that Caesar is an inferior salad dressing to ranch and Napoleon was that weird and squirrelly kid in that stupid movie. Dude, you know people have lost their minds when they adore Trump as their savior and champion, this flabby spoiled child who is an even bigger dumbass and fuckwit than his worshipers. But only by a little. He’s used his inherited wealth and fame to convince his fellow travelers of stupidity and nitwittedness that he’s a great man. And people bought it because they are, in fact, stupid nitwits. Madness. Sheer madness! I am not mean for saying this, I am just 100% honest. The emperor has no clothes and his followers have lost their minds.

As long as science is ignored and even the simplest facts that a pinhead could understand clearly are seen as “fake news,” and millions of dingbats with childish and irrational value systems elect such a creep like Trump, the only fear is that we’ve become a nation of the saddest, stupidest, and most pathetically self-immolating dunderheads in the supposedly “enlightened” West—although Brexit Britain is not far behind! People seem to want to destroy their democracy along with themselves because, why, exactly? They hate Liberals? Mexicans? Homos and dykes? Fair wages and social safety nets? Do they really hate all the social change from the last 150 years that uplifted hundreds of millions of Americans and created the prosperous, fair, and benevolent society we enjoyed in the 20th Century, not perfect but better than now in so many ways? Apparently so, and they cannot dismantle it fast enough even if they themselves sink even lower than they’ve already sunk since the dismantling began under Reagan some 37 years ago.

Sure, idiots, destroy democracy and allow dictators and fat, stupid bullies like Trump to rule over you. Or chinless, hyper-creepy douchebags like Mitch McConnell, who makes Cardinal Richelieu look like a saint, and who cannot wait to fellate the ultra-rich and dismantle democracy in their favor like the servile dog he is. Or the even creepier Pastor Fred Triplechins who wish to turn us into a zombie Christian theocratic cult. That will fix things in Fartsicle, Alabama, yessiree, Joe Bob and Myrtle Nitwit. Oy vey. I don’t fear the dictators and feudal lords who will rise from this madness, I fear the madness where people would even consider this as an alternative. It’s democratic iconoclasm for idiots. Make America Great Again by destroying America and handing all power to the rich. Brilliant.

Yeah, Joe Bob, once you’ve watched the republic dismantled, that old Colt .45 on your waistband will protect you for about 5 seconds when the alternative assumes power of which you have no purchase or choice. When Pastor Warlord Fred Triplechin decrees that maybe all Christian weirdo cults are not, in fact, equal, especially your cult compared to his, so yours has to go and he’s a got a well-armed army of fanatics to heed to his will and nothing to check his power, which may mean not only does your cult have to go, but you and Myrtle and that queer who lives down the road will be burned as heretics. Or El Creepo Corporation decides your little chicken farm belongs to them and just takes it, no due process, and have Myrtle close the barn door as you head to tent city with all the other refugees. And don’t drink the water, Joe Bob, it’s all poisoned because no one will give a fuck if water is potable in Fartsicle County any more.

Read some history, Joe Bob, where human societies before our Constitution were often run by the powerful and rich while everyone else kneeled obsequiously and obediently before their Lords and Ladies and Bishops, ate dogshit, and had no rights. I know you don’t think that’s why you voted for a shitstain like Trump or your Republican representatives who cannot wait to give power away to the filthy rich. I am sure you just hate blacks and Mexicans and white liberal hipsters and people who don’t bow to Jesus. Heck, I am not fond of a lot of people in this country myself, but I don’t want to damn them all to hell, I fight for them and their rights even if they won’t fight for themselves and blindly hand whatever purchase they have left in this democracy, maybe out of spite or just plain ignorance, to the rich and powerful. But it’s true, buddy, that you’re destroying yourself voting for Trump and those vile Republican assholes. I wouldn’t leave Mitch McConnell alone with my dogs or houseplants, let alone vote for him.

So I’m worried about Trump? He’s so far down on the list of my grievances against the utter irrational lunacy and abject stupidity in which my country is mired, hell, way down that list, that he doesn’t even make my top 100 of that list. Rejection of science, religious fanaticism, environmental destruction, white supremacy ideology, denigration and subjugation of women, rampant cruelty and intolerance, insanely fascist political correctness by my so-called “allies” on the left, and, of course, the worship at the altar of fat-assed, vapid, and reconstructed-vaginaed shit sacks like the hideous Kardashians; my friends, the list is endless and horrifying in its entirety. The canary in the coal mine watching our culture and society emit all this poisonous filth is choking to death.

The Roman Empire fell because its people became lazy, stupid, apathetic, and incapable of recognizing Rome’s cultural slide into wanton and self-destructive peril. They became easy pickings for the half-witted but determined barbarians who overran the great empire like cutting through melting butter. And then there was a thousand years of darkness, chaos, and misery if one wasn’t an earl, baron, or bishop. All because a great people failed to see how fucked up and effete they had become.

So please with this fear of Trump bullshit. He can be President and do great harm, sure, but we’re really as a country just harming ourselves so badly that he’s only adding a small rash on a much bigger, crippling disease that began long before he was elected; he’s not the problem at all. Nor are spineless weasel politicians like Mitch McConnell who gladly hand all power and wealth to the already powerful and wealthy. Or the Pastor Fred Triplechins who wish to turn America into a creepy Christian theocracy. No, they are not the problem. We are the problem for allowing these lunatics to take everything away from us that matters. We, the citizens. E pluribus unum. From many, one. One gigantic shit pile, sure, and every day we add more and more to the shit pile while deluding ourselves it’s all okie-dokie, that we’re okie dokie. It’s not, you fucking idiots, okie dokie right now.

 

Cool Ladies of the 80s

As an ardent feminist raised by my widowed mother and six older sisters, I learned almost from birth the vast superiority of women over men in nearly every human quality that matters most, such as compassion, empathy, altruism, wisdom, and, most importantly, love. My mother, Tess Bernat Scheck, was simply the smartest, wisest, and most capable human being I’ve ever known, moreover her capacity to love was the single greatest gift she bestowed on her nine children. I was her last baby and she spoiled me rotten. Plus my sisters doted on me, and in fact still do well into my 57th year of life. I think one of the reasons I have eschewed monogamy is because I cannot love just one woman, which sounds like a sleazy cop-out, but I swear it’s true. I not only prefer the company of women, I pretty much loathe most men around me.

In the 1980s women began to take over Rock & Roll thanks to brilliant pioneers like Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Joni Mitchell, Suzi Quatro, Stevie Nicks, Heart’s Wilson sisters Ann & Nancy, Pat Benatar, and of course the amazing Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin. I could name many more.

In the 1980s women stepped out front to lead so many great bands, or stood alone as solo artists of great power, depth, and feeling. In my opinion some of the best music of that era was female dominated, and here are a few examples to back my rather bold argument.

Missing Persons – Mental Hopscotch (1982)

 

Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang (1982)

 

Eurythmics – Who’s That Girl? (1983)

 

The Motels – Only the Lonely (1982)

 

Quarterflash – Take Me to Heart (1983)

 

Kim Wilde – Kids in America (1982)

 

Madonna – Physical Attraction (1983)

 

 Bananarama – Cruel Summer (1984)

 

Janet Jackson – Control (1986)

 

Throwing Muses – Call Me (1986)

 

Book of Love – Modigliani (Lost in Your Eyes) (1986)

 

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1987)

 

Sonic Youth – The Sprawl (1987)

 

Sinead O’Connor – Mandinka (1987)

 

 

I’m 56 and I Like It

My life has followed my own unique path that began when I was 19 when I dropped out of college to enlist in the Army, the first step to living “my way” instead of what was expected of my generation. I threw the rulebook out the window and thumbed my nose at convention. Since then I’ve never wavered in my dedication to following my own path and fulfilling my own vision of how life should unfold. At 56 I feel as young as ever and I strive every day, mightily, to keep educated and wise, fit, healthy, and strong. I am not ready to get old.

I’ve neither married nor fathered children and don’t feel my lack of either has affected me negatively. I live well below my means by design, hell, I don’t even own a car and my income can afford me whatever I want should I desire one. But I don’t. I am happy riding my bicycle and walking everywhere. I live downtown in a huge city, with everything I need close to me, so I keep things simple and easy.

As I grow older I feel I’ve lost a great deal of the radical liberal idealism of my younger years, but I’m still a strong advocate of a European-styled social democracy, which, in these strange times in America, seems a distant dream as Middle America becomes more and more radicalized to right-wing, white supremacist madness and ultra-religious intolerance.

I have never believed in god nor do I think the white race holds any great advantage over any other, which probably puts me at odds with a large majority of white people in my country these days. I’ve quite often found far too many people to be irrational and petty—call me an intellectual elitist if that helps—but it certainly doesn’t make me wrong. Those who reject science due to religious or political beliefs that are contrary to scientific fact irritate the fuck out of me. And in the USA, far too many citizens reject science due to their nutty and irrational belief system.

Having said all this, I spend little time worrying about the state of global, national, and local politics or American culture. Nor do I think we live in times that are better or worse than any other era in my lifetime. The good old days were often bad, and the current times are often good but also bad. What I seek is a balance in my personal life but also with the world around me. It’s a difficult process to feel balanced in a world that is in constant turmoil, but at a personal level I can control my own life despite what’s going on around me, which is actually the best I can do. I can control my health and fitness and how I interact with my fellow citizens and the rest of humanity. That’s about it.

Old age brings wisdom but no more certainty than when I was younger. I still have grave doubts about everything around me. I remain skeptical of human intentions and the ambitions of others who wish to tread on my personal space. I remain an eternally optimistic person with a joy for living, my strongest quality and most cherished basis for all else about me. I still read voraciously and have a great curiosity to learn more today than what I knew yesterday. I work hard at keeping healthy and feeling younger than my years, indeed, I am 56 going on much younger.

Life is good.

INCEL Knights™ of the World, Unite!

The Involuntary Celibate Knight™

All rise to hail a new generation of brave warriors, the lords of abject stupidity and pathetic hate and malice, the Involuntary Celibate (INCEL) Knights™!

Whether strapping on a suicide vest and blowing himself up in a crowd of innocents, or brandishing a military-grade assault rifle while mowing down lovely and vital folks in churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, or public squares, the key attribute of this cowardly, homicidal ass clown is his sad and furiously frustrating inability to put his penis into the vaginas of the women for whom he lusts after.

Oh, the humiliating agony of being categorically rejected by the fairer sex due to the fact all of these raging psychopathic assholes have zero skills at wooing the women they desire, moreover most are as ugly and physically misshapen as an anal wart. I am sure even bestiality is denied to INCEL Knights as cats and dogs and ferrets reject them with the same gusto as women. No, my dear, crazy, virgin INCEL Knight, even a copious dabbing of peanut butter on your cock won’t entice Mr. Whiskers or Rover to lick it. Getting rejected by women is humiliating enough; getting rejected by your cat must invoke a rage-filled insanity in your pathetic, low-IQ brains of an unimaginable magnitude. The horror!

Whether your name is John, Mohammed, Mortimer, Adolf or whatever, and regardless of your race, religion, national origin, or even your political ideology, what sets you apart, INCEL Knight, is the fact you’re a vicious, anti-social creep who can’t get laid. This leads, apparently, to a madness that somehow compels you, with your ineptly puerile and misguided minds, to lash out at humanity with malevolently murderous violence. Jacking off to Internet porn cannot even for a moment suppress the rage inside you. No shrink can guide you to the light. No pill alleviates the self-hatred. Moreover, apparently, hiring a hooker is beneath your lordly, lofty, and ridiculously holy self-image; in your sick fucking mind, women reject you because they are evil and not that you’re a toxic little vermin of a man, which you are.

Your urge to kill innocents randomly is what sets you apart from the peaceful gaggle of dorks who can’t get laid either. They just attend Marvel superhero movies and comic book conventions, or play online computer games, or engage in goofy cosplay, to ease all those endlessly sleepless, sexless nights. Only a select few psychopaths like you decide to take out your rage on others.

I appeal to every fucked-up shitheel like you, INCEL Knight, to consider something before you lock-and-load your AR-15 or strap on your suicide vest: JUST KILL YOURSELF if you get the urge to harm others because your dick can’t get sucked or fucked. Kill yourself with extreme prejudice, you pathetic can’t-get-laid fucknuts of a human being. Not a single soul deserves the fate you decide for them when you act out your self-hating malice with such wanton and mindless violence. Only you do. So off yourself, you creepy piece of shit. Leave the rest of humanity alone.

That’s all I have to say on this subject.

Ten Great Post-Punk Songs (Revised, April 2019)

After the demise of Britain’s Punk explosion in 1976-77, bands who were influenced by Punk, or had started out as Punk bands, began making music that was more intelligent, experimental, and musically sophisticated than Punk. They successfully incorporated traditional rock music structures with a wide variety of underground sounds that were emerging in the British music scene of that era, creating music that was atmospheric, darker than “classic” rock, and highly introspective and introverted, but without sounding too experimental or obscure. Most Post-Punk bands experimented with sounds and lyrical structures but never lost their pop sense, so their music is extremely listenable, but at the same time there’s a veritable feast of amazingly new and cool elements to their music that set them apart from the rock & roll that came before them.

It was an exciting era for rock music, and while most of the best Post-Punk bands did not enjoy wide appeal or huge commercial success, their music was massively influential for what would be later known as “Alternative” rock.

Update 4-26-2019: Some record companies block embedding YouTube videos of their product, so fuck them, no free promotion here, as if obscure bands didn’t need more promotion, especially free promotion. Idiots. So a couple of links I had here were changed, goodbye The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen, hello Bauhuas and Pink Turns Blue, two bands who certainly deserve recognition as Post-Punk legends while the other two are still controlled by retarded record companies who have no idea how these here “Internets” work some 25 years into its creation.

1. The Chameleons – Up the Down Escalator (1983)
A really hot Army girl stationed with me in ’84, who had just returned from a tour in Germany, used to play the album Script of the Bridge while we fucked. It was majestic music, anthemic and bold, somewhere between the change-the-world ambition of U2  and the darker direction taken by Joy Division. I borrowed her album and burned it to a cassette that I played the fuck out of for many years afterwards. When I hear this I still think of her lying naked on my barracks room floor, a shit-ton of lit candles surrounding her like an ancient religious fertility rite, and Script of the Bridge blaring out my speakers. She always left deep scratches on my back, that one. I hear this and it evokes a good fucking memory of a great girl. The song Second Skin from the same album is also brilliant, but I can only chose one on this list from each band.


2. The Sound – Skeletons (1981)
The best band of the 1980s that no one has ever heard. Fuck me as to why this happened. Front man Adrian Borland was the Jim Morrison of his generation, a brilliant songwriter, singer, and producer, and his sparse but hugely danceable arrangements became mainstays at “Goth” clubs all over Europe in the 80s. You wanted a dark, creepy mood along with great dance chops? Play The Sound. This song in particular is about as fucking great as any song from that dark, exciting, beautiful era. Like Joy Division, The Sound could take a dark mood and make it bright with an thrilling cacophony of pulsing bass lines and kick-ass beats. And, sadly, like Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, Borland took his own life at far too young an age.


3. Joy Division – Shadowplay (1979)
Dark, sparse, moody, cool, utterly brilliant. While Punk was quite often working-class stupidness, especially American Hardcore, what emerged after Punk died in the UK in 1978 was amazing. I loved The Clash, who got better when they transitioned from Punk to more diverse rock sounds on London Calling and beyond, but I think, in retrospect, Joy Division was the greatest band to emerge from the ashes of Punk, even if we only have two albums by the band to measure its greatness. Ian Curtis was Rimbaud to Joe Strummer’s Lord Byron, when you think about it. Joe was a hopeless romantic with many socio-political axes to grind, and we loved him because he gave a fuck so passionately, with anger and rebellion in his heart like any romantic. Ian, on the other hand, was a massively depressed nihilist who veered too close to the dark side and fell victim to his own worst tendencies, and his music reflected this abjectly morose excursion into madness and gloomy introspection. Plus, holy fuck, Peter Hook was an amazing bassist who could carry a song by his sheer athleticism on the instrument. When Ian died the remaining members created a whole new band, New Order, with a completely different sound; without Ian Curtis, there was no going back for Hookey, Bernie, and Stephen, but there was certainly a future for the three surviving lads. They did quite well as New Order, a great band with many outstanding records, but never at the magnitude of greatness like Joy Division’s work. That would have been impossible, as Ian Curtis was the brilliantly powerful magnetic force that drove Joy Division’s Rock & Roll engine.


4. Comsat Angels – Independence Day (1980)
Another amazing but sadly obscure band from an exciting era in musical experimentalism and “dare to be different” Post-Punk cool. Joy Division opened the door for all these young bands to express their darker thoughts and feelings, and while only The Cure and Bauhaus are well remembered today, there were other fine bands from that period who made great music. This is one of them. Like all great Post-Punk bands, the C-S Angels delved into the darker regions of consciousness, with pounding beats and a minimalist sound that was equally beautiful and dark, and of course one could dance to the band’s songs with great gusto. This is Post-Punk magic bottled into one great record.


5. Killing Joke – Wardance (1980)
These motherfuckers were crazy, I mean batshit crazy, but in a good way. Nihilists, sure, and doomsday believers of the nuttiest sort, but they put down on record all these insane thoughts and ideas with some powerful and crushing music, which was foot-stomping hard rock without the silly macho posing of the Heavy Metal boys in Metallica or Iron Maiden, who explored the same dark themes, with the only difference being that Killing Joke was essentially a Punk band and not Metal. But Killing Joke rocked like one, and Metallica paid homage by covering one of their songs, The Wait. Wardance is, to me, a scary, superbly powerful, driving anthem of unequaled greatness, and the louder you play it, the better it gets. Doomsday never had a better theme song. Fed Astaire cheerfully dancing on the casualties of nuclear Armageddon? Best cover art ever, if you ask me. Fuck yeah, this is Rock & Roll at its darkest, creepiest, angriest, nihilistic best. Put on your Doc Martens and stomp dance like a psycho as we blow ourselves to smithereens, motherfuckers. Armageddon is coming? Let’s dance.


6. PiL – Public Image (1979)
John Lydon left the Pistols and had a little Punk left in him with this kick-ass song and its Jah Wobble killer bass line and Keith Levene’s simple yet powerful guitar licks. Meanwhile Mr. Rotten gets to purge all his angst and anger with his usual sneeringly accusatory excellence, deriding his old band and all his detractors with a barrage of fuck you, spittle-spewing eloquence as only Johnny can muster. This is, simply put, a great fucking Punk tune. Johnny was a villainous cunt, sure, but we loved joining the bad guys when their message was right. He would cease being this cool in the years to follow, but from ’76-’80 Rotten was a goddamn sage. No one today is rebelling with such beautiful bile and cogently precise articulation. Bottom line: your rebellion had better fucking rock, mate. And this tune rocks. Anarchy indeed, in’nit?


7. Bauhaus – The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1981)
Stylish Brit boys who combined Punk sensibilities with their fascination with Creature Feature horror films. Goth was born here, for better or worse. Peter Murphy was Ziggy Stardust meets Dracula, and it was kind of cool in the brief moments Bauhaus made great music somewhere in the Bowie-and-Eno-Berlin-era vein, though I think they underperformed mostly, and yet their influence was immense. Having said that, this is a brilliant work of Post-Punk art, with its minimalist instrumentation combined with a driving beat, and Mr. Murphy’s haunting vocal delivery always hit the mark. Creepy cool. Gothic chic, if you will.


8. Pink Turns Blue – Your Master is Calling (1986)
“Dark Wave” bands like The Mission and Sisters of Mercy churned out tunes like this in droves, but this obscure German band may have created the best of the lot here, obviously influenced by Joy Division and The Mission, and yet, damn, it’s just a great song. I heard it in a club in Germany in 1988 and sprinted to the DJ to find out who it was, and to my surprise it was a German band, not an English one. All I can say is that at Club Gloria Palast in Saarbrücken, Germany in 1988, this song echoed like a haunting call to Dionysian debauchery, and the girls responded on the dance floor with some schmutziges tanzen—dirty dancingGoth style. I loved Goth girls back in the day because they were usually the most perverted ones with the most exciting sexual pathologies. Ergo I dug their music because it put them in the mood for further debauched naughtiness. Silly me. This band was relegated mostly to minor fame in Germany, but this song is legendary Post-Punk coolness.


9. Sad Lovers & Giants – Imagination (1981)
Another sadly obscure band that made vital and cool music, only to be buried beneath the deluge of more pop-influenced New Wave and Synth Pop that engulfed England in the early 80s. Sure, Gary Numan, Spandau Ballet, Japan, and the like were fun and cool, but so was this darker, more sinister branch of what came after Punk. Again, this is fantastic Post-Punk music along with which to dance, sure, especially when you’re feeling gloomy and doomy and life sucks ass, but you still want to flail around with your ass wiggling like a bloody fool. Bliss, mates.


10. The Damned – Life Goes On (1983)
These old original Punks reformed and kept making good music, and despite Captain Sensible’s strange run as a UK pop star in the early 80s, with his old Punk band he still had a few great tunes left in him, such as here, a song with a bass line and chord progression that’s been copied not once, but TWICE, first in Killing Joke’s song Eighties, and then Nirvana’s epic Come as You Are. The Captain was in form here, no doubt about it, writing a truly sad and brilliant song about how to live life after losing a loved one. Hard to imagine this was the same band that made New Rose, a nihilistically joyful Punk anthem if ever there was one, and yet, here they are, still fucking great, going all “Goth” in their later years. All hail the real Punks of old. This is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest songs from the 1980s, obscure, yes, but so sublime and touching, so goddamn good I wish everyone gave it one listen to find out why I champion it with such gusto. Of course I have weird and shitty taste in this strange mélange of borrowed and stolen styles, but that’s me, Mr. Pastiche, lover of goofy, often obscure shit that apparently only appealed to me.

How Fucking Weird is America?

Game of Thrones is one of the most violent television shows ever aired, with insanely macabre and hyper-violent depictions of murder, torture, rape, and mutilation. The blood and guts and body parts fly around on this show in such great amounts that its audience has become desensitized to all this horrific and inhuman carnage.

But many in America have expressed extreme outrage when the 22-year-old English actress Maisie Williams, who plays the character Arya Stark, got a little naked in a love scene in the latest episode. Williams was originally cast when she was 11 but has literally grown up on the show. She’s no child and freely allowed herself to be filmed in the buff. Apparently the outraged fans considered this to be borderline pedophilia, as her character should be around 17 years old or so in the show’s timeline. It’s called acting, folks. Maisie is an adult in real life.

You’re fine with heads and extremities getting chopped off with almost flippant abandon, but a young woman’s titts being exposed is too much to bear.

What a fucking weird country we are, truly. Violence is okie dokie, yet a little flash of nudity is a cause for hysterical overreaction. Get it?

Bloody hell.

On the Mueller Report and Trump

A brilliant anti-Trump effigy on display during the 2019 Las Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain, March 16, 2019. The artist was a little to generous on the genital size, but oh well. Photo ©2019 Matthew C. Scheck

Was there a criminal conspiracy? Probably, but more like a clown car being driven by someone too drunk to drive.

Was there collusion—a term that actually has little  or no specific legal context—between the Trump campaign and Russia? Sure, but apparently there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove it in a way that could bring treason charges against Trump and this idiotic minions.

My take on all this is simply that we have an insane, overgrown child as our POTUS, a raging idiot of a narcissist who proves the danger of inherited wealth, that even a complete moron like this man, backed by the money he inherited from his daddy, can rise to spectacular heights without being particularly successful at anything but self-promotion, of course facilitated by the pile of wealth daddy left in his trust fund.

Trump is a gigantic shit stain on our democracy. That is a given. The millions of morons who voted for this festering ass boil of a human being are as reprehensible as the man they champion.

Stupidity is obviously in abundance in the good old USA. Nothing shocking there, right?

But that’s America, folks. As rich, powerful and amazing as our great nation has been, we’re also peopled with tens of millions of idiotic, half-literate dingbats who seem to wander around destructively and stupidly, destroying not only the self-interest of those they hate, but their own too. It’s a self-immolating madness that I suspect every successful civilization suffers from in the history of humankind. We just cannot behave with too much reason and common sense, we humans. We’re the agents of our own destruction. No one can destroy us but ourselves.

Some day in the future we’ll look back on this era and maybe have a laugh. Despite the fact we’ve got this bloated, bloviating, bigoted psychopathic turd of a man as our POTUS, America is just fine, thank you very much. Tens of millions of Americans show up for work every day, tend to their families, and work hard to make their communities amazing places to live. We’ll survive just fine.

Take a deep breath and vote this idiot out of office in 2020. That, my friends, is what makes democracy so great. We the people can right a horrible wrong, even if some 46% of us have lost their fucking minds.