Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bad Machine, Droopy Drawers, Speaking Jive To Power

Bad Machine

The Bad Machine tour will come to Luna in Lake Charles, La., on Saturday, Feb. 11. The tour features musicians Scott H. Biram and Lydia Loveless. The publicist for the two was kind enough to send me links for the latest CD of each musician. Let’s take a brief look.

Biram’s Bad Ingredients CD begins with very old school blues, played by acoustic instruments no less. But as things progress, one starts to hear the sort of blues ZZ Topp would have produced had it started as a garage band with its recordings produced by Iggy Pop. There are loads of fuzz and reverb. Along with the blues, the garage sound is the most prevalent sound here. Even when the songs veer to the sort of straightforward electric blues you might hear from, say, George Thorogood, Biram makes it sound quite a bit rougher and nastier.

One slow song with the sinister feel of a Johnny Cash ballad provides a bit of a change-up. On the other hand, “I Want My Mojo Back” adds fuel to the fire with a burlesque sax that actually sounds likes it's screaming at times. Biram's voice, while not really a scream, often becomes a sort of hoarse growl.
If you like wild records, Biram’s got one.

Lydia Loveless’ Indestructible Machine is an uptempo record. The fastest tempos range from thrash to those of The Clash and early Elvis Costello. The songs are driven by loud percussion.
"How Many Women?" is a country ballad and “Learn To Say No” is straightforward country pop. In some songs, Loveless bursts out with a real country twang. And “Crazy” features a fine country violin. Indestructible Machine may be considered a country record. Spin ranked it No. 4 on its Country/Americana charts. If it’s country music, it’s country that’s thoroughly mixed with certain kinds of punk music much of the time.

Certainly, the most interesting lyrics on the records are those for “Steve Earle.” Loveless is either outing Earle as a stalker or laying down some kind of inside joke. “Do Right,” with its ultra-fast bluegrass picking, has lyrics about the singer drinking gasoline. “I’ve been trying,” she sings, “but I just can’t find a good reason to do right.” Interesting stuff.

With both these records, the lyrical content is largely about hard living and the generally unpleasant consequences thereof.

If the recordings are any indication, the show promises to be intense and high-energy. The show starts at 9 pm; cover is $8.

Sonic Adventure

Luna will offer patrons another sonic adventure when New Orleans-based Crowbar plays on Saturday, Feb. 18.

Crowbar plays a kind of metal that’s called doom, or sometimes sludge. Tempo is unusually slow. There’s a lot of layering of guitar with plenty of fuzz and assorted noises. The sound is very percussive. If you’ve heard earth or SunnO))) or early Swans, you know the sound. Based on the cuts I’ve heard, Crowbar has it down. The European press has dubbed Crowbar’s sound “doom-core.”

The singing of Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein ranges from a wild screeching (close to screamo, but more comprehensible) to a somewhat less aggressive ‘90s “alternative rock” style.

Although it has nothing to do with the music, it’s worth noting that the members of Crowbar aren’t trying at all to look photogenic or hip. They look like a bunch of guys who just showed up at the small town wrestling match after an afternoon of PBR.

Finessing L.C.’s Droopy Drawers Law

Well, how about all this big talk about education reform in Louisiana? With stories getting that much play, there’s always the chance that the really important stories will get overlooked.
And that’s what almost happened with the recent story about Caddo Parish Commissioner Michael Williams’ move to make it illegal to wear pajamas outside the home.

Take some time to let that one sink in. As you do, ponder another huge story that almost got overlooked — the story of Lake Charles’ droopy drawers law. It was a revolutionary law. A paradigm shifter, a game changer, a tipping point. Yet how many in the media have reported on it five or six times, as I have?

Now, back to the proposed Caddo Parish pajama-wearin’ ban — just what, exactly, is the problem that is to be outlawed?

"The moral fiber in our community is dwindling," Williams explains. "If not now, when? Because it’s pajama pants today, next it will be underwear tomorrow. I observed a couple of young men in loose fitting PJs on, probably with their private parts about to come out and no underwear.”

Saints a’mighty! That does sound like a disaster waiting to happen, doesn’t it? And I believe Williams. Why? Well, for starters, he’s an original thinker. How do I know? His language is novel. Just look at the phrase, ‘If not now, when?’ Have you ever heard a politician say that? I sure haven’t. (The answer, by the way, is “sometime after you leave office.”)

I’m also swayed by the logic of the “because it’s … next it will be …” argument. Again, I ask you to consider it. Let’s apply the formula. Because it’s jaywalking today, next it will be armed robbery tomorrow. Makes sense!

Williams plans to write an anti-pajama-wearing ordinance and present it to the commission. I hope he writes as convincingly as he talks.

One good thing about these sorts of stories is that when they do get covered, they usually get covered by national media. This story, for instance, was released by NBC National News. NBC ran that nice long colorful quote from commissioner, moral authority and Louisiana public figure Williams right in the middle of its nationally distributed story. You know, you just can’t buy publicity like that. If you could, it’d be pretty cheap.

The Williams quotation was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, which used it in a Jan. 19 article titled “Why Not Wear Pajamas All Day?” WSJ prefaced Williams’ words with this statement: “As with a lot of teen behavior, some adults are annoyed.”

The article states that many fashion-conscious youths, and teenagers in particular, are using pajamas as part of a carefully designed loungewear look they wear everywhere. Such big companies as Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale are running marketing campaigns designed around the look. And we all know the question that’s used to gauge every fashion marketing campaign everywhere: Sure, it plays in Manhattan; but will it play in Shreveport?

Speak Jive To Power

It would be rude to say that politicians sometimes say dumb things. Besides, is a thing really dumb if it’s brown-nosing?

See what you think. Right after the recent swearing-in, state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, who had earlier sought the post of state Senate president, introduced new Senate President John Alario with these words: “He has a way of rubbing your face in the dirt and making you thank him for it.”

No. No, he doesn’t. Whatever he has, he doesn’t have that. All the times I’ve had my face rubbed in the dirt, I never once felt like I ought to be giving thanks to somebody.

Like a good politician, Martiny is telegraphing that he’s willing to get his face rubbed in the dirt if that’s what it takes to make Alario forgive and forget. I’m guessing the over-the-top flattery will be enough to get the job done.

Speak Power To ‘Imbeciles’

In an open letter to President Barack Obama, written on Nov. 28, 2011, Leon Cooperman, a former CEO of Goldman Sachs, wrote, “[The 1 Percent] are not the scourge that they are too often made out to be" and are not "a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot." (BTW, Goldman Sachs was the No. 2 contributor to Obama's 2008 campaign, putting a click more than $1 million in the kitty.)

At a December, 2011, investors conference in New York City, Home-Depot co-founder and billionaire Bernard Marcus made it clear he was not unfeeling when he responded to an audience question about his reaction to the Occupy movement. "Who gives a crap about some imbecile?” he said. “Are you kidding me?"

Note the feeling in those words. It’s the feeling of sympathy; of gentle concern. It’s the heartfelt expression of a humanitarian who’s eager to understand, to reach out, to bridge the differences and build the dialogue. The words pulse to the beat of a heart full of love for a struggling humanity. Unfeeling? Nay. It is feeling at its most exquisite. It is feeling of most delicate empathy given voice.
In an interview with Bloomberg conducted at the time of the conference, billionaire Tom Golisano founder of Paychex, said, "If I hear a politician use the term 'paying your fair share' one more time, I'm going to vomit." Now, what did Cooperman say? He said the 1 Percent are accused of being selfish and unfeeling. Well, that certainly doesn’t apply to the words “I’m going to vomit.” A fellow who’d say that isn’t selfish; he’s just abdominally challenged.

And why are his intestines in such a turmoil? He’s stressing himself out by trying too hard to be productive! Don’t believe me? Well, just check out what John Allison, former CEO of BB&T Bank, said when he had lunch with a Bloomberg reporter during the conference: "Instead of an attack on the 1 Percent, let's call it an attack on the very productive."

Now, I may think I’m productive or I may not. But suppose I tell you to your face that I’m not just productive, but very productive. What sort of fellow do you think I am? Well, I’ll guess you’ll probably think I’m humble, unassuming and self-deprecating. You’ll probably think I’m a doer and not a talker, and that I’m the kind of guy you’d really like to hang out with and listen to. And because you’d know I was being really sincere, you’d believe I was very productive: so productive, in fact, that I was a great deal more productive than you and therefore worthy of a much higher salary than you.

So, why would some people think these fellows are unfeeling? I think I know. Let’s look at some unfeeling stuff a guy in the 1 Percent wrote in a Dec. 1 Bloomberg editorial. Nick Hanauer, known to be worth at least $6 billion, wrote, "Rich businessmen like me don't create jobs. Let's tax the rich like we once did and use that money to spur growth."

I think this is what Cooperman was getting at with the word “unfeeling.” When a guy says “tax the rich,” isn’t he being pretty unfeeling to rich people? I should say so. That’s what they call a no-brainer.
Another BTW — just what is the 1 Percent? If you're taking home $350,000 or more per year, you're part of the club.

Person In The News

At a recent press conference, Brad Goins announced that he had formed a new group called the Board Membership Advocacy Board. The group, said Goins, will promote membership in boards of directors.
“It’s not that people who sit on boards meet a pressing public need,” said Goins. “No. People who sit on boards have the opportunity to put on business suits after work and go hang out with other people who put on business suits after work and are the members of lots of boards. I’m a member of 13 boards myself. That’s how I’ve gotten where I am today.”

Goins is presently a member of the following boards: the International Board of Directors, the Directors’ Board, the Comprehensive Board, the Board of Directors of No Particular Sort, the Board of Boardship, the All-Purpose Board, the Board of Last Resort, the Board Member Search Board, the Board of Game Boards, the Board of Ambitious Young People, the Board of Disappointed Middle-Aged People, the Board of Red Ties and the Board of It’s Not The Heat It’s The Humidity.

He stated that his present public service objective was to become a member of more boards. “It’s my way of giving back to the community,” he said.