Solo rocker Eddie Money and Ric Ocasek of The Cars, two acts that hit it big the summer of 1978, passed away over the weekend. Oddly, both were born a couple days apart and died a couple days apart; Ocasek: March 23, 1949-September 15, 2019; Money: March 21, 1949-September 13, 2019.
In the summer of 1978 both The Cars and Eddie Money had huge hits that made it a fun summer, as music was fantastic that year and their songs were among the most memorable, and certainly made that summer rock & roll like few others.
My two best friends and I were 15 and about to start high school that summer, and we had the best time of our lives mostly fucking off, smoking pot, and hitting on cute girls everywhere we could. Doug Russell and Chip Johnston, wherever you are, these are tributes to you two and that amazing summer and all its great music. You dudes are the best friends I’ve ever had by a huge margin. What’s great is I’ve been in contact with both the past year and we’ve shared a lot of laughs and memories since those wild times as bad boys 40 years ago.
From left: Chip, Mat, Doug, high school, 1979
RIP, Eddie & Ric, you were both great rock stars from my youth. Your music made life fun and worthwhile and cool.
Just What I Needed – The Cars (Released May 1978)
Two Tickets to Paradise – Eddie Money (Release June 1978)
The Smiths: The band that changed everything. From left: Andy Rourke, Steven Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Mike Joyce.
I was 22 when I first bought the album Hatful of Hollow by the Smiths. I found it at a record shop in Athens, Georgia in the fall of 1985, recommended to me by the weird kid working at the shop, who, after learning I was a devout fan of Athens, Georgia’s proudest sons of the moment, R.E.M., informed me that this album by The Smiths—mostly recorded live in the studio for the John Peel BBC radio show, plus containing new songs not on the band’s eponymous 1984 debut album—was a masterpiece and much better than their first, and, he added emphatically, better than anything by R.E.M., which was almost a sacrilege to utter in that town.
The Smiths was a band about whom, at that moment in 1985, I knew nothing, and luckily this weird kid educated me on this unknown subject. He declared grandiloquently, and with great passion, that Hatful of Hollow would change my life. Bold words by a goofy, odd, and yet wise young man when it came to music, and I was a willing and hungry student, eager for something—anything—new and exciting. So I bought it.
And of course Hatful of Hollow changed my life. From then until when The Smiths broke up in 1987, I was a devoted and fanatical lover of their music and bought every record they released. Since their breakup in 1987 my devotion waxed and waned over the ensuing decades, but every now and then I’ll return to their music if only for the intense nostalgia I felt for that period of my life. But also for the band’s songs, their incredible motherfucking songs, each and every one of them; the Smiths recorded 74 songs in their brief career, and every goddamn one of them is great.
I shall list my 10 favorite songs by The Smiths in descending order. Everyone’s opinion varies on any subjective art form like music, so my favorites may not be your favorites, or anyone else’s for that matter, and if you disagree with mine, so what. It’s just an opinion. My opinion.
10. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now (1984, Hatful of Hollow)
The anthem that I am sure articulates the existential angst felt by all mopey, dorky, sexless boys too afraid to leave their bedrooms. In 1985 I was not among their ranks, as I was a randy and fun-loving US soldier sleeping with every pretty girl I could possibly bed and was as cocky and confident as any annoyingly smart and charming pretty boy, but I appreciated Morrissey’s lamentations on this song. Johnny Marr truly began experimenting more here with his idea of a beautiful guitar sound, a crisp, wonderfully jingley-jangley cacophony of chords and picks that make this song perfect. Morrissey’s prissy, quasi-faggie demeanor and complete lack of testosterone, coupled with the fact he possessed not a molecule of muscle tissue on his body, made him the most curious and yet fascinating pop star, especially since he was capable of articulating his angst with such eloquence and poetic silliness, plus he had the coolest haircut in the 1980s, hands down. He was a far cry from the arena rock gods like Robert Plant or Punk assholes like Johnny Rotten. Morrissey’s Rock & Roll rebellion was to be smarter and more annoying than his peers, and to hold the entire pop world in sneering disdain, and yet to succeed in it despite his dyspeptic view on life. We fans just loved his dark bedroom, navel-gazing rants. He was nothing like me as a man and everything like me as an intellectual.
9. Bigmouth Strikes Again (1986, The Queen is Dead)
Hell hath no fury like that of a prissy sissy, and on this rolling rocker Mozz thumbs his nose at his critics while the band rollicks through a pretty kick-ass tune, especially Johnny Marr’s brilliant wall of guitars, so gleefully recorded over god-knows-how-many overdubs, and sounds wildly majestic and overwhelmingly alluring here, moreover Andy Rourke’s pulsing bass lines and Mike Joyce’s steady drumming resonate with frenetic pace and feeling, and meanwhile Mozz sneeringly mocks everyone who mocks him, wiggling his bum triumphantly as he figuratively compares himself to Joan of Arc being burned at the stake for the way he’s lambasted in the press; it all works because the song fucking rocks by a pretty damn good Rock & Roll band. It’s silly, yes, but silly is Morrissey’s strong suit and why he so endeared himself to his fans as the sad, brilliant, witty clown, the mopey, sneering smart-aleck with the heart of gold. We all wish we could articulate such an annoyingly funny “fuck you” at our own critics backed by such cool music. Yeah. The Queen is Dead is an album of a great band maturing into the best one of its era, hands down. Most of my Army friends fell for The Smiths because of this song or Boy with the Thorn in His Side, or simply because I played the fuck out of this album the fall of 1986.
8. How Soon is Now? (1984, Hatful of Hollow)
Most people rate this song higher than I do in compiling their Smiths greatest hits list, and I can understand why, yet I do not agree that it’s top-5 worthy great compared to other songs by the band. But of course I love it, cherish it, and thought it was wonderful from my first listen onward. Johnny Marr’s wall of guitars sound is incredible, and of course Morrissey’s whiny, self-absorbed plea for social acceptance is both poignant and yet annoying as only he can exude so gloriously eloquent, and obnoxiously so. It’s a great song, rocking, and should be on everyone’s playlist for the band.
7. Handsome Devil (1984, Hatful of Hollow)
Here we have The Smiths as Punks, although smart ones who could deftly play their respective instruments better than most Punks, and fronted by an almost anti-Punk singer who sounds like a gayer and smarter version of Roy Orbison in the throes of a horny hissy fit over someone obviously oblivious to Steven’s desires. Mozz was an admitted celibate (or so he claimed), so all his sexual longing was theoretical and creepy like in all involuntary celibates, and even when he became a huge pop icon in England he vehemently clung to his celibacy as a weird badge of honor, as if shagging other people would ruin his intellectual purity. It was obvious he was gay, not that we fans cared, as homophobia was not only stupid but also just plain wrong, and I think we all collectively wished he’d just get his fuck on at some point with some muscular football hooligan bloke with good hair, though we loved his musings on the subject of forced sexlessness. This is a fucking rocking tune, The Smiths doing Jumping Jack Flash or I Wanna Be Your Dog in their own wonderful way. Rolling Stones and Iggy and the Stooges, meet Steven Morrissey, sissy crooner and well-coifed pop star wannabe, backed by his kick-ass band.
6. Stop Me if You Think You’ve Heard This One Before (1987, Strangeways, Here We Come)
By the time we got this one from the record store, the band was no more. This is, in effect, their swan song. And what a tune! Morrissey and Marr could no longer agree on the band’s sound or musical direction, yet when they did collaborate it was fucking beautiful, like here. Morrissey’s had a decent solo career, but none of his post-Smiths songs sounded this great. Without Johnny Marr, Morrissey’s just a weird-looking singer with a slightly annoying voice and some clever wordplay, but never as good as he was in this great band. I have never really dug Morrissey’s solo work, and, in fact, since his first solo record, I’ve ignored him completely. Now that’s he’s super old and still prancing around the stage singing his songs of youthful sexless celibate angst to crowds of dorks living in the long-gone Smiths past, I find it sad and weird and boring. I was even happier when Morrissey was forced in court to dole out part of his wealth to brilliant drummer Mike Joyce, whom Steven fucked out of royalties since day one. This wasn’t a one-man band nor was Mozz the sole genius in the band. Marr was equally brilliant in creating the band’s sound, and Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke certainly played a massive part in making the band’s music amazing.
5. This Charming Man (1984, Hatful of Hollow, Peel Session Version)
This version is hugely better than the original single that put the band on the UK pop charts for the first time. It’s got a cheeky ebullience lacking in the original, and Johnny’s guitars sound better, with more jingle-jangle for the buck, so to speak. And Andy Rourke’s bass sounds utterly perfect. On the original version, Johnny’s guitars sound annoyingly like an 8-bit telephone ring tone, while here the stereo mix by John Peel’s amazing engineer/producer Roger Pusey sounds fabulously warm and utterly inviting. The version produced by John Porter annoys me. In fact I have never liked the first album by The Smiths because Porter’s production makes the band sound tinny and hollow and gross, while on Hatful, the songs, especially the Peel Session versions, all sound fantastic. It’s why Hatful made me love the band and luckily I didn’t hear their debut first.
4. The Boy with the Thorn in His Side (1986, The Queen Is Dead)
Easily the best pure pop song by The Smiths, almost AOR-radio-friendly, and for most of my friends it was the first Smiths song that truly pricked their ears. Johnny Marr again shines with a layered symphony of guitar sounds so sublime it feels like you’re listening to pure heroin. I also think it’s Steven’s finest vocal performance of his recorded career, as he sounds completely sincere in his expression of his angst and isolation. Say what you want about the guy, but he was a proper pop star at this point, working perfectly with his excellent band to make songs on The Queen is Dead that put The Smiths on the top tier of English Rock & Roll greatness with The Beatles, Kinks, Stones, Who, Zeppelin, Sabbath, and Clash (and later Stone Roses, Oasis, Blur, and Radiohead). Really. That good. And on my list we’ve yet to get to the best song on that great album.
3. What Difference Does It Make? (1984, Hatful of Hollow, Peel Session Version)
Again, this is a vastly superior version of the song than the one on the band’s eponymous debut record. That version is very good, sure, even great, but this version is magical. Mozz later slagged this song, but, dude, we fell in love with your band because of songs like this, shut the fuck up, you silly wanker. This has the anger and energy and brilliant wordplay that made you a star and endeared your band to its most ardent supporters. What makes this song swing is Andy Rourke’s bass line, coupled with Marr’s angry guitar attack, like the band is assaulting a hill in wartime, led by that prissy sissy singer all filled with vim and sneering vitriol. Punk never sounded this good except on the occasional Clash song. This is, to me, the song that sold me on The Smiths as a great Rock & Roll band and not just a silly novelty act of a bitchy, weird, sissy-boy lead singer.
2. There Is a Light That Never Goes Out (1986, The Queen Is Dead)
In many ways The Smiths’ defining song, of course beginning with Johnny Marr’s brilliantly layered guitars, but also because Morrissey’s lyrics—sad, ironic, wistful, tragic, and yet beautiful—convey everything that made him a brilliant voice of his generation. He manages to sound sincere and not the least bit cheesy or phony. He was who he claimed he was, a mad genius trapped in the walls of his angst and frustration at dealing with the humanity around him. On this album the band figured out what made them great and finally produced a recording worthy of their greatness. Is it any wonder most critics call this the best album of the 1980s? And most fans agree? This just sounds perfect. I cannot describe how many late nights in 1986 I listened to The Queen is Dead over and over. It’s one of my favorite albums in my long life of music fandom, right up there with London Calling by The Clash; Remain in the Light by Talking Heads; The Bends and OK Computer by Radiohead; Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth; Doolittle by Pixies; Nevermind by Nirvana; Murmur by R.E.M.; and of course the greatest: Pet Sounds, Sergeant Peppers, Let it Bleed, Ziggy Stardust, Paranoid, Who’s Next, Physical Graffiti, and Dark Side of the Moon.
1. Well I Wonder (1985, Meat Is Murder)
Oh my fucking god. What a song! In the fall of 1985 I split with a girl I adored but didn’t really love, and immediately began missing her when I saw her with another guy I considered a huge step down from me, so I felt sad for her and even sadder for me as I missed her but could never admit it to her—or even me for that matter. And then I heard this fucking song and it penetrated my cold exterior into my heart like a searing hot dagger made of a welding high-intensity arc used to cut titanium. Oh, Steven, you created the ultimate depressing, mope-friendly, hide-from-humanity classic. Jesus, has ever a song evoked such heartache like this? “Gasping, dying, but somehow still alive, this is the final stand of all I am.” Fucking hell, that’s brilliant. Everything about this song is great, from the sublime guitars to the slow, rolling feel as the tune wanders through that rainstorm and Steven bleeds out his heart with such earnest candor. This, my friends, is all the proof you need of this band’s true greatness. This is a magical song, sad, yes, but sadness is an integral part of human feeling. Mozz spent much time in the dark pondering his own sadness, then penned this classic song for all of us to view his dark psychological depth along with him. Love him or hate him, he had a gift. Hand this to Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, or some Country star, and it’s a pop hit these days.
Do NOT RIP, David Koch. I hope your last days, months, and years were horrific and you died miserably.
Oh, I shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, you say? This cocksucker doesn’t get that kind of magnanimous treatment.
Just read Jane Mayer’s excellent New Yorker piece on the Koch Brothers from 2010. The Koch Brothers have done more harm to the world’s environment and America’s democracy than any two individuals ever. They deserve a fate worst than death. Prostate cancer wasn’t horrible enough for David Koch. A good old public Medieval disemboweling, castration, hanging, and quartering would have been better.
He died being worth over $42 billion. How many billions of humans will suffer from the environmental calamities that this bastard and his even more vile older brother Charles helped to create by spending a good part of their fortune to block even the mention of the word “Global Warming,” let alone how many politicians they bought to keep our government from acting even the least bit sensible and proactive? How many poor American children will starve or go without adequate health care because of this so-called “libertarian” tax cut advocate? And your legacy will be that you were a gigantic, vile, evil, useless piece of shit exiting the asshole of hell. Yeah, you’re worth all that money and your asshole still rotted out, you fucking creep.
Fuck you, David Koch. I hope your asshole brother, Charles, dies even more horribly, perhaps by some Biblical malady like being eaten from the inside out by huge maggots while being gang raped by a pack of rabid and syphilitic wolverines. OK, if I ever read the Bible, and I haven’t, that would be how I would hope someone evil died in days of yore.
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.
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.
Tame Impala – Borderline This breezy, stoner-friendly tune was released in April but is a perfect tune for chilling one’s self in the summer beach heat. There’s a feeling of floating through a chilly mist as this song happily prances along with a simple, bass-and-synth roll over a steady 2-step beat as singer Kevin Parker’s groovy falsetto mellows the mood even further. Whether chilling while blazed on a couch or cuddling naked with your loved one on a sweat-covered bed as the ceiling fan cools everything down, this is a great little tune for 2019’s summer heat.
Jai Wolf (Featuring Mr. Gabriel) – Lose My Mind
Here we have the first Indie pop star of Bangladeshi origin, Sajeeb Saha, who goes by Jai Wolfe, and on this sweet, catchy little tune our fine Bengali brother shows an incredible dream pop sense, with a superb bass line, an utterly enjoyable groove, and a chorus that gave me chills the first few runs through the song. Another great way to chill in the summer heat with this blasting through your bluetooth headset. Pure cool, sweet, utterly enjoyable pop magic.
MorMor – Outside
Holy fuck is this a gorgeous piece of modern pop, sweet and haunting, creating a lovely, yet sad dreamscape with Seth Nyquist’s dreamy vocal delivery carried along the heavens by swaths of otherworldly synth orchestral maneuvers and a feather-lightly-strummed acoustic guitar. This is truly beautiful pop music at its very best. I hope tens of thousands of lovers embrace to this absolutely perfect piece of romantic and heartfelt awesomeness. I’m seeing my own summer 2019 accompanied by a gorgeous lover or two cuddled next to me as this plays. Goddamn, life is best lived when you live it right: good music, love, sex, romance, with fans blowing across two entwined bodies in the sweltering heat. Come join me if you dare.
Jowell & Randy X Manuel Turizo – Dile Le Verdad
A medida que vivo más y más de mi vida en el mundo de habla hispana, mi gusto musical también requiere música en español, y aquí tengo una súper canción de Puerto Rico para mantener mis habilidades en español perfeccionadas. ¡Celebra el lenguaje y la cultura!
Inhaler – There’s No Other Place
Eli Hewson has one major advantage over his superstar father in that he possesses none of Bono’s annoyingly preening pretension, the one quality we all kind of hated about U2’s otherwise brilliant frontman. Bono was easily the greatest rock star of my generation, sure, but he always came across as a little insincere. Eli seems to have had that pretentious gene recessed, as there’s a genuine warmth to his persona that gives him a vulnerability and sensitivity that his old man never really had. Nepotism gives this kid a huge leg up, sure, but one still has to deliver the goods even when the door is opened wide and the climb upwards is given a huge boost. This kid has the goods.
Clairo – Bags
She’s like Cheryl Crow but on better drugs and with a lovelier, ultra-feminine side that exudes breathless sensuality and the desire to make you want to love her madly; I’m sickly fucking jealous of whoever gets to kiss this lovely girl. Great pop shouldn’t be difficult or complex or even virtuoso; it should just be good, catchy, and stir emotions deep within one’s heart, soul, and libido. Clairo’s tune does all three with an amazing ease that’s a major turn-on for this pop music fanatic.
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.
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.
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)
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.