Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Elvis Costello - 45

by Jay Allbritton
This is my favorite of Elvis Costello's late era songs. Sadly this clip only lasts 39 seconds, but it doesn't take more than three or four to know this song is a masterpiece.



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JOHN LENNON---MIND GAMES

by Hector Diego


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Monday, October 30, 2006

RAIN

by Hector Diego
I had the 45 single, Paperback Writer/Rain, which I played incessantly. I drove my parents crazy with it, but I drove myself sane.

"I can show you, that whether rain or shine, it's just a state of mind...I can show you..."

Methinks old Lennon is still showing us...



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FIFTH DIMENSION---AGE OF AQUARIUS

by Hector Diego
A few years ago I mentioned to my neighbor, an astrologer, my fondness for the song Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In. Her reply was not encouraging, for by her calculations, there is no basis for the claim that we are entering or have entered the Aquarian age.

I was absolutely astounded by her focus--who cares about the technicality of the lyrics? The message is good--harmony and understanding--and the music is off the scale. I am fascinated by its seamless movement from New Age pop to rocking gospel.

I think Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In represents one of the great musical achievements of the late 60s.





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Music Journalism 101

by Jay Allbritton
Music journalism is often criminally bad. This montage shows lazy journalists being taken to school by a variety of musicians (via Scenestars):

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Paul McCartney Interview 1980.

by Hector Diego

Old Mac plays the drums.

by Hector Diego

Simon and Garfunkle---Mrs. Robinson

by Hector Diego


The very excellent film The Graduate was released before the introduction of the "abbreviation" Ms. to the English language--but what it is an abbreviation of? Anyway, could you imagine those golden pipes singing "And here's to you, Ms. Robinson"? Maybe you could.

I have no idea what the movie is "all about"; I'll leave it's explication to someone who knows more about film, the Station Agent. I could never figure out why Mrs. Robinson doesn't like Dustin Hoffman's character for her daughter--after all, it was the matron who seduced the kid.

I can tell you about the song, though. It's about a woman and her world crumbling all around her, and she really does not understand why it is happening--like the Establishment of the 60s before it rallied with the evangelicals in the late 70s. Not that the Establishment has gotten any wiser.

I think that the lady who stands in New York Harbor means much more than Mrs. Robinson could ever imagine. But Simon and Garfunkle have grokked her and sung it.



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Revolution Number Nine.

by Hector Diego
I once shared an office with a fellow graduate student, from Nepal. He didn't know jack about the Beatles; in fact he barely knew anything about Western civilization, which Gandhi quipped would be a good idea. I figured I had one shot to introduce this guy to the Beatles before he went off to Aardvark University, in Cambridge Massachusetts.

Somehow my muse suggested Revolution Number Nine--the guy was very postmodern, baby, in spite of hailing from the shadow of Mount Everest (he claimed he could see it from his natal backyard). Wow.

So I played it for him, and he was fascinated. Then he went to Aardvark.

I wonder if he has understood the fine natural balance, or the Watusi, or the Twist. Anyway, you become naked. Even then.

But...hold that line, and block that kick.




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THE BEATLES IN SPAIN

by Hector Diego
How's your Castilian?

Of all the Beatles, Paul was the best with languages. Although only fluent in Scouse, he knew a bit more German than the others and is said to know even more Spanish...probably just enough to get him in trouble. Like me with Sanskrit. The translator in this little flick belongs in the same club as Paul and me.

DYLAN THOMAS

by Hector Diego
Listen up, young pups (old dogs like me already know) that don't know why Robert Zimmerman is known as Bob Dylan. He supposedly took the name of his muse Dylan Thomas. I'll admit that's why I know about the Welsh bard. Bob Dylan has downplayed the connection, considered a fact four decades ago, because of stuff Bob Dylan had said. Hmmm....

Here's the lesson. Always, always, always, listen to people like Dylan (both of them) and John Lennon. Just never listen to them is all I'm saying. If you don't understand this instruction, what can I say.



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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Please Don't Rock My Boat...

by Jay Allbritton
Mr. Bob Marley with "Satisfy My Soul" from Top of the Pops in 1978.



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Neil Young---Cowgirl in the Sand

by Hector Diego




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Friday, October 27, 2006

Crowded House---Don't Dream It's Over

by Hector Diego




I used to make fun of this song--I had an unreasonable aversion to it. Perhaps it is because I was accustomed to "hey now" from the Grateful Dead cult, and this seemed silly by comparison. But then I heard it in the Stephen King TV film, The Stand. Well, what do you know--in this situation I realized that Don't Dream It's Over is a very good melody--and you all know my philosophy on melody. It accompanied the scene where normal Frannie and geeky Harold make out in her living room, after most people who are going to die off due to an international superflu (99% of the world's population) have already died, and after she has sown her old man up in a sheet, and with Harold's help, planted him in the yard.

Dude, this is so strange. I just did a Google search to confirm that the guy's name who puts the moves on Molly Ringwald's character Frannie was Harold, and from a review of The Stand I found this:

"I will end with a totally random observation. The best moment of this miniseries is one of its most quiet. The plague has ended and two survivors -- Fran and Harold -- listen to an LP of that Crowded House "Don't Dream It's Over". As the song plays, numerous scenes are shown, giving a terrific impression of the stillness after death, and the small hope that remains. This is the human race, signing off..."



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MASTERPIECE IN A MINOR---I WANT YOU

by Hector Diego




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EARLY GEORGE--I'M HAPPY JUST TO DANCE WITH YOU

by Hector Diego


Gerry and the Pacemakers---Ferry Cross The Mersey

by Hector Diego




The Beatles were very good friends with Gerry Marsden of the Pacemakers, another Liverpool band managed by Brian Epstein. They immortalized their town in this minor classic, Ferry Cross The Mersey, the river as familiar to the Beatles as anyone's backyard. Liverpool is a very important city in Britain's economy and world trade, but many people in America--self-absorbed as always--had never heard of it until the Beatles conquered the Colonies in 1964. If I ever visit England I would rather see Liverpool than London. Now that's what I call reflected glory--derived from the charisma of the Beatles.

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Hawkins--Religious Politics Would "Horrify" Founding Fathers

by Jay Allbritton
Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins, author of the new book, The God Delusion, has been getting a lot of attention lately.

He has a piece on Huffington Post called, "Why There almost Certainly is No God":
America, founded in secularism as a beacon of eighteenth century enlightenment, is becoming the victim of religious politics, a circumstance that would have horrified the Founding Fathers. The political ascendancy today values embryonic cells over adult people. It obsesses about gay marriage, ahead of genuinely important issues that actually make a difference to the world. It gains crucial electoral support from a religious constituency whose grip on reality is so tenuous that they expect to be 'raptured' up to heaven, leaving their clothes as empty as their minds. More extreme specimens actually long for a world war, which they identify as the 'Armageddon' that is to presage the Second Coming. Sam Harris, in his new short book, Letter to a Christian Nation, hits the bull's-eye as usual:
It is, therefore, not an exaggeration to say that if the city of New York were suddenly replaced by a ball of fire, some significant percentage of the American population would see a silver-lining in the subsequent mushroom cloud, as it would suggest to them that the best thing that is ever going to happen was about to happen: the return of Christ . . .Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U.S. government actually believed that the world was about to end and that its ending would be glorious. The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this, purely on the basis of religious dogma, should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency.
Does Bush check the Rapture Index daily, as Reagan did his stars? We don't know, but would anyone be surprised?
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ASTEROID SOLUTION MISGUIDED---HINDU SAGES OFFER BETTER SOLUTION

by Hector Diego


Let's not waste our valuable human life in trying to make this world perfect, or avoiding inevitable death by comet, asteroid, disease, etc. Out of millions of species of life, only the human form is fit to ask, "Why am I here? Where am I going?" After leaving our present bodies, who knows how many incarnations we must suffer through before we get another human form? Factually, the chain of birth and death is a prison for the soul. Why bend over backwards to fix up our prison cell, when getting a pardon is a better option?

For more information on Easy Journey to Other Planets, click here.

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The Blow

by Jay Allbritton
The Blow opened for Jenny Lewis last weekend in Orlando. I like her a lot.

This is not from that show:



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Thursday, October 26, 2006

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE, EVERYDAY PEOPLE

by Hector Diego
Old Sly was the craziest man in showbiz. This guy would put blotter acid from an eyedropper onto his eyes, and then walk out on stage. He has been known to accept payment for a concert and not show up. He was always in some kind of trouble. Yet his performance at Woodstock is one of the best. And he lived his "can't we all get along" philosophy, apparently--his band was multiracial. You might say he took James Brown to the next level--not that Brown needs to go there. And that fro. The man kicked out the jams, as they say.

James Brown---It's A Man's World

by Hector Diego

This song is not PC...or is it?

The Beatles were big fans of Brown's work. Here's The Godfather of Soul.


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Will 2880 Asteroid Stay the Course?

by Jay Allbritton
A little Apocalyptic news from across the universe...

From ITAR-TASS:
MOSCOW, October 24 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia is capable of building machinery to fight the asteroid hazard, Federal Space Agency deputy head Viktor Remishevsky said on Tuesday.

“The Russian missile industry is capable of manufacturing anti-asteroid systems if necessary,” he said. “So far, there are no techniques to use the existent space machinery for fighting asteroids.”

The asteroid danger is not on the Federal Space Agency program. “If a method of suppressing this danger with space machinery is found, we will make such systems. Anyway, the missile industry can do that,” he said.

Asteroids are a problem to be tackled through international cooperation, Remishevsky said. “Research satellites, telescopes and land-based infrastructure of the Russian Academy of Sciences must supply information about the asteroid danger,” he said.

The Applied Astronomy Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences has identified about 400 asteroids and over 30 comets that may endanger the Earth in the future. Asteroid 2907, which has over one kilometer in diameter, is the largest concern. Experts believe that this asteroid may ram the Earth on December 16, 2880.

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Here's a look at the big bad rock, which proabably won't hit us anyway. Plus, we'll all be dead. Or our consciousness will be downloaded into "sleeves":



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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Peter, Paul, and Mary---If I Had A Hammer

by Hector Diego



I think that Peter, Paul, and Mary's big hit If I Had A Hammer makes a wholesome soundtrack for a childhood. They had me singing along in grade school. You gotta love them.

AUSTRALIAN JURY RETURNS VERDICT OF JUSTICE: BEATLES KICK ROLLING STONE BUTT

by Hector Diego
An Australian television show debates the merits of Beatles vs Stones. The Stone's case is foolish, the Beatles case airtight. The Stones are not as bad as their counsel, in fact they are not bad, they are great. But their greatness is only as a candle to the moon of the Beatles.

Just let Hector get the goods for you, baby, here at The Walrus Speaks.



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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ringo Starr---I Call Your Name.

by Hector Diego


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John and George memorial.

by Hector Diego
Love was featured on Lennon's very excellent debut album, John Lennon--Plastic Ono Band.

Kingston Trio---500 Miles.

by Hector Diego


Some people might think I'm strange because I like the Kingston Trio. I'm here to tell you that the Trio are real artists. Here's a photo of them in San Francisco, the ultimate home of all good leftists.



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SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL---YOU'RE TO BLAME

by Hector Diego




No man, contrary to the lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel, is an island. We collectively make a world, are part of its problems, and solutions. "I shouted out 'who killed the Kennedys?'...when after all, it was you and me", cried Mick Jagger.

Sympathy For The Devil must be the Rolling Stones' most socially significant song. They say the Stones were performing it when that guy (who was brandishing a gun) got stabbed and stomped to death at Altamont--but that has been disputed. Anyway, that's what you get when you hire the Hell's Angels as security. Of course, the Angels have their side of the story, too.

By Jagger's suggestion, I suppose "we" were around when the blitzkrieg raged, and the bodies stank.

The question is, what do we do now?



Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
Ive been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man's soul and faith
And I was round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the Czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a generals rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
Who killed the Kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me
Let me please introduce myself
Im a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But whats confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
'Cause Im in need of some restraint
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or Ill lay your soul to waste, um yeah
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down
Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!
Tell me baby, what's my name?
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name?
Tell me baby, whats my name?
I tell you one time, you're to blame
Ooo, who
Ooo, who

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Fox Searchlight Dumps Idiocracy

by Jay Allbritton
Mike Judge is the gold standard of contemporary comedy. He never misses. His resume includes hits Beavis and Butthead, Beavis and Butthead Do America, King of the Hill and Office Space.



Okay, King of the Hill is pretty pointless, but Office Space was so good that it makes up for it.



Anyway, Judge has been totally shafted by Fox--who refuse to promote or give a national release to Judge's new satire Idiocracy.

From Time.Com:
Movies aren't banished straight to video because they're bad. A reasonably smart marketing exec with a splicing machine and a decent song can make a huge profit out of bad. If some guy at home could cut together that YouTube trailer where The Shining is a touching father-son comedy, then the Fox marketing division can make Date Movie look good in a 30-sec. TV spot. That's why studio marketers are better at hoodwinking the customer than those two guys Huck and Jim picked up on the river. The biggest sin a director can commit isn't making a bad movie, it's making one that doesn't make a good ad.

That helps explain the strange fate of Idiocracy, a sci-fi comedy starring Luke Wilson and directed and co-written by Mike Judge, the guy whose spotless track record includes Beavis and Butt-head, King of the Hill and Office Space. Idiocracy may not be a bad movie, but every ad and trailer the studio put together for it tested atrociously. After sitting around finished for almost a year, the movie opened two weeks ago--sort of. Fox released it in a few theaters in seven cities (not including New York City), with no trailers, no ads, no official poster and no screenings for critics.

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Leave it to Fox.

Here's a review, since no trailer is available.

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Paul's best song in John's opinion.

by Hector Diego


John thought Here, There, and Everywhere was Paul's finest composition. I'm not sure I agree with that completely. But it's an opinion we should take seriously.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stanley Jordan Playing Eleanor Rigby

by Jay Allbritton
I'm not a big fan of virtuoso instrumentals, but this really is quite something.



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THE WATSON TWINS

by Hector Diego


I just saw Chandra and Leigh Watson in Either/Orlando Florida with Jenny Lewis, and I'm pretty jazzed about them. Statuesque they are, as the man said. But their greatest attribute is their voices. Look and listen for the rise of the Watson Twins, just now hitting their stride.

Click here for three of their songs.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chuck Berry---Johnny B. Goode

by Hector Diego

Old Berry often sings like he's calling the cows. He has been a much studied guitarist though disarmingly simple. A big influence on George Harrison and so many others.

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ARLO GUTHRIE---CITY OF NEW ORLEANS

by Hector Diego


This song is about love of country, the passing of a way of life (not the Republican agenda!), and the passing of life itself. Guthrie seems to be straining not to weep in the last part of the song, for that would ruin the effect: the idea is to make the audience weep. The best music is cathartic.

If I had written this song (composed by Steve Goodman), I believe I could die in peace.

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The historical consciousness of a white boy.

by Hector Diego
We mark time by major changes in society. For instance, there was the pre-Beatles era and the post-Beatles era.

Another major marker was the shift in attitudes about Native Americans ( I know that most Native Americans would prefer to be called Indians for some reason, but to me an Indian is someone from India). When I was eight years old, I thought that Junipero Serra, the Catholic priest who missionized the Native Americans of California, was a great man. You can't go anywhere in California without seeing his name. Five years later I knew that he was merely a product of his culture, which sought to eliminate all others. I lost my respect for Serra.

This change in attitude had much to do with the 60s interest in civil rights and other cultures in general. Without doubt, the "hippies" had a more favorable attitude towards America's native population than the other way around, but that's to be expected. In fact, the Haight Ashbury generation put the Native Americans on a pedestal. Although not translated into real terms--such as getting their lands back--the trend towards honoring instead of dishonoring Native Americans through lip service has continued without cessation since the 60s. I guess lip service is better than no service.

In my father's day, it was not cool to have Indian blood. Now it is. Except in Mexico.



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KANSAS---DUST IN THE WIND

by Hector Diego


How about a little philosophy lite, scarecrow? No matter what you believe, we--our bodies, at least--go back to from where they came, dust. Stardust, to be more precise. It doesn't matter whether one believes in God, a soul, an afterlife, a moral order, etc., or not. We're just dust in the wind.



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BUSTED - The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters

by Jay Allbritton
This is the description of a video on YouTube called "BUSTED - The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters":
Created by Flex Your Rights and narrated by retired ACLU director Ira Glasser, BUSTED realistically depicts the pressure and confusion of common police encounters. In an entertaining and revealing manner, BUSTED illustrates the right and wrong ways to handle different police encounters and pays special attention to demonstrating how you, the viewer, can courteously and confidently refuse police searches.


This video was brought to our attention by the good people at StopTheDrugwar.Org.

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Beatles nonsense.

by Hector Diego
If you find yourself in a silly mood, try this one.



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MAYBE I'M AMAZED

by Hector Diego
Have I posted this one already? I can't remember. Maybe I'm Amazed was McCartney's first post-Beatles hit, from his album McCartney. Paul is doing all of the instruments. It's just a love song, dudes and dudettes. You either like it or you don't. I think it's a great composition--Paul doing Elton John.



Here's a live version.



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ANDRES SEGOVIA---ASTURIAS

by Hector Diego


The recent post by guest blogger Seamus O'Rourke on John Fahey's excellent guitar inspired this one. Andres Segovia's fame is rightly deserved. When I was a teenager there was a kid who lived down the street who could play a mean guitar. In his presence I would praise the leading guitarists of the day--most of them already featured here on The Walrus Speaks--but Danny always insisted that the real guitar king was the Spaniard, Segovia.



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BOB MARLEY---REDEMPTION SONG

by Hector Diego


Marley must surely be counted as one of the all time composing geniuses. Some people just know what to do with a few chords, while others know everything about music but never come up with a tune you would remember. Hail Marley!



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Saturday, October 21, 2006

JOHN FAHEY - BEVERLY (MEDLEY)

by Jay Allbritton
by Seamus O'Rourke
Word on the Street


My dear lord, I can rest so peacefully this evening. John Fahey exists beyond the grave. My friend this is the first time I've seen him perform and it is simple and everything and more of what I could have ever expected. Someone posted this, I'm so happy, words are escaping me. He plays a medley of tunes because he's beyond simple tunes live. You'd think it was one song. Watch this simple genius live. I'm finished. I can die now.



Crossposted at Space Station Tango

Check out Seamus' "Re-birth of Film" series at Palingenesia Films.

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NBC Cuts Madonna Cross Routine

by Jay Allbritton
According to NBC, you can't deal with this. It's too much for you. And what we would we tell the children?



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I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER

by Hector Diego


I could never forget seeing A Hard Day's Night at the Linda Vista Theater in San Diego for 50 cents in the summer of 1964. The girls screamed as if it had been a live performance. I should have known better.



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Shree Maa glorifies Kali Ma.

by Hector Diego
The recent interest in goddess religion in the West has produced novel interpretations of Hindu goddesses, concerned to eviscerate patriarchy or at least balance it with matriarchal concepts, images, experiences, etc. Traditional forms of Hinduism, by contrast, are unconcerned with the preoccupations of the feminist West. That is not to deny that in modern India there are plenty of feminists who remain Hindu, and what to speak of non-feminist Hindu women who worship in the traditional way.

I don't know enough about our featured singer, Shree Ma, to comment upon her philosophical orientation, but the beauty of her voice and her devotion to the goddess Kali speaks for itself. Here she is interpreting a composition by the great 18th century Kali devotee, Ramprasad Sen.

For those who may not be aware, the images below of Kali and Shakti as Durga, Sarasvati, and Laksmi are considered to be one and the same goddess. She simply has different moods. Before you reject the goddess in her fierce Kali aspect, ask yourself this: have you ever seen your own mother in an angry mood? Did it make you love her any less? And what did you do to make her angry?

The goddess is the mother of us all. Thank God and Goddess for that.







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JIM MORRISON IN THE DESERT

by Hector Diego


Or, Jim Morrison in the dessert, as it says on My Space.



Scroll through 51 minutes of Jim wandering the deserts of California, with very little dialogue, some soliloquy and music, mostly images of the rebel in his lonely sojourn towards his grave in the celebrated "Poet's Corner" at the Pere Lachaise cemetary in hetero Paris.

I included this "dusty jewel" here at The Walrus Speaks for the love of California. Many times I wandered those deserts alone. I also experienced LA as a vast urban desert. Did you know that before the Doors, Morrison had studied film at UCLA? Perhaps I should have labeled this somewhat esoteric post For Hard Core Jim Morrison Fans Only. They would know about his interest in film.

Whatever one thinks of Morrison, he does provoke. He sure is antinomian as all hell. He seems to believe in a soul. But does he believe in God? In the Devil? He sure ain't God, but his Devil persona is a bit convincing...

I also included this video because he has been considered by many females to be some kind of dessert. And what the hell--I have thrown in some Doors music, too.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

MICHELLE

by Hector Diego




Although his French is hardly French--so I'm told by Francophones--Paul McCartney displayed his tremendous versatility in his 1965 composition Michelle, which takes the listener to a sunny Parisian sidewalk table set with wine and bread and pretty girl on the other side of it. Paul is trying to communicate in his bad French to this girl, "trying to find a way." It's so simple, yet endearing. Very Paul. If you don't like his sentimental side, don't listen to this song.

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My Slumbering Heart

by Jay Allbritton
RK videos are coming out of the woodwork. This is pretty good quality. Likely from 2003 tour.



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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rowan and Martin's Laugh In

by Hector Diego
You don't go from 0 to 100 and skip 2, 3, 4...97,98, 99, and you don't go from Jack Benny (not that he wasn't a genius, but that's another story) to MAD TV and SNL without passing through Lenny Bruce and Rowan and Martin's Laugh In (1968-73). Let's just say that Laugh In broke new ground in comedic political and social commentary lite. You bet your sweet bippy. Here's what never made it onto Laugh In.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

God, Hector Diego's Wiki-Debut, and Jenny Lewis

by Hector Diego


I feel like the cat that ate the canary---I posted something on a Wikipedia discussion, complaining about the inappropriateness of a short passage claiming Jenny Lewis was an atheist---and they actually removed it. Well what do you know...

Whoever wrote the original article had listened to Lewis' Rilo Kiley song, The Absence of God, and concluded that JL was an atheist apparently because of the title. The lyrics are ambiguous, as are her many references to God, spirituality, etc. in her solo album Rabbit Fur Coat and her work with Rilo Kiley. Seeing the Station Agent's post below, I couldn't help throwing in my two cents.

Here's something to meditate on. Whether there is a God or not, we will all wind up as



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Selling Atheism--Conservative Christian Backlash hits Bookstores

by Jay Allbritton
Crossposted at Ice Station Tango.

A slew of books on the subject of religion are hitting the shelves in the coming months. Of course these books are intended to resonate the current political zeitgeist in America, so Eastern religions will get very little play here.

From Yahoo News:

"Religion is fragmenting the human community," said Sam Harris, author of "Letter to a Christian Nation," No. 11 on the New York Times nonfiction list on October 15.

There is a "huge visibility and political empowerment of religion. President George W. Bush uses his first veto to deny funding for stem cell research and scientists everywhere are horrified," he said in an interview.

Religious polarization is part of many world conflicts, he said, including those involving Israel and Iran, "but it's never discussed. I consider it the story of our time, what religion is doing to us. But there are very few people calling a spade a spade."

His "Letter," a blunt 96-page pocket-sized book condensing arguments against belief in quick-fire volleys, appeared on the Times list just ahead of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, a scientist at Oxford University and long-time atheist.

In addition, Harris' "The End of Faith," a 2004 work which prompted his "Letter" as a response to critics, is holding the No. 13 Times spot among nonfiction paperbacks.

Publishers Weekly said the business has seen "a striking number of impassioned critiques of religion -- any religion, but Christianity in particular," a probably inevitable development given "the super-soaking of American politics and culture with religion in recent years."

Paul Kurtz, founder of the Council for Secular Humanism and publisher of Free Inquiry magazine, said, "The American public is really disturbed about the role of religion in U.S. government policy, particularly with the Bush administration and the breakdown of church-state separation, and secondly with the conflict in the Mideast."

They are turning to free thought and secular humanism and publishers have recognized a taste for that, he added.

"I've published 45 books, many critical of religion," Kurtz said. "I think in America we have this notion of tolerance ... it was considered bad taste to criticize religion. But I think now there are profound questions about age-old hatreds."

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By the way something, being Wiccan in the military... not easy.

VIDEO: Jenny Lewis - Born Secular

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George Harrison---My Sweet Lord

by Hector Diego


Here's a nice picture of Harrison's sweet lord. Hindus believe that a picture of divinity, as an aide to meditation, could be a window on the spiritual world. In this picture, the figure on the left within the lotus flower is Krishna (Krsna) in the spiritual world, which is 3/4 of all existence. He is standing with the Goddess Radha. In the lower right hand corner is the material world, 1/4 of existence, which appears as a small cloud in the sky of the spiritual world.

Don't try to figure this stuff out logically. It can only be understood intuitively by the trained mind in meditation. Harrison recommended it.




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CARS---JUST WHAT I NEEDED

by Hector Diego



Here's the Cars from 1978. I'm not a huge fan of their genre, but I can't resist this song. It was featured in the cult film, Over the Edge. You must see this film!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

20 Forthlin Road.

by Hector Diego


It's where the young Beatles would hang out. Aunt Mimi had no use for Paul and even less for George, but the boys had to get together somewhere to compose and practice, and just be boys. The McCartney residence at 20 Forthlin Road had a piano, and Jim McCartney, Paul's dad, had been a band leader in his youth. He encouraged the Beatles, as did George's parents.

Apparently, the Forthlin Road crib is where Paul McCartney, looking through the years, wrote When I'm Sixty-Four. Hoo!






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THE SOUND OF MUSIC

by Hector Diego
It's corny, sappy, and probably cheesy (that's not a term from my day and I'm still not sure I know what it means). And that haircut...

But Julie Andrews is a truly gifted singer. A voice like that is not made, it is born. The woman has been known to shatter glass with her voice.

The Sound of Music played at the Loma Theater, in San Diego, California---one of the places in which I grew up---for over two and a half years.

Now that's music.



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BOB DYLAN'S GOSPEL, REVISITED

by Hector Diego
Dylan was booed during his gospel period. Harrison had been through that a few years previously, and I think their experience will always be a warning to stars that "get religion" and want to share it with their audience. Yet this video shows that Dylan was a master of gospel. It stands the test of time. Isn't that Aaron Neville singing Dylan's gospel music?



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Mother

by Hector Diego
In 1970 my friend Leo could not stand McCartney's debut solo album, McCartney. I liked it, but I liked Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band ten times more. Apparently, it is the Lennon album most Lennon fans like the best. http://www.bagism.com/album_ratings.html
Lennon did not have the instrumental command that McCartney did, nor was he as facile with melody in his post-Beatle phase. But his melodies were good and his spirit, superb. The spartan treatment he gave John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was apropos to his material. Some people couldn't understand his angst, and that's their right. But listen carefully to songs like Mother and God, and you know you are getting the real Lennon. No doubt about it.

And you gotta love him.




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Jenny Lewis on Pancake Mountain

by Jay Allbritton
Hector and I are going to see Jenny Lewis this weekend and until we do, I intend to be very Jenny-centric about my posts here.

In that vein, here's Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins on the kids show Pancake Mountain doing "Fernando":



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Monday, October 16, 2006

On Tour Now--Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

by Jay Allbritton
Jenny Lewis played a church in Toronto on October 7, here's a write up from Chart Attack:
At first glance, Jenny Lewis appeared to be taking her ecclesiastical surroundings at Toronto's Trinity-St. Paul's Church to heart. Clad in an elegant black dress, the petite redhead sombrely walked down the centre aisle crooning "Run Devil Run," an a cappella number from her solo debut, Rabbit Fur Coat. The statuesque Watson Twins, also in matching black, joined in the churchly procession.

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more)
Ms. Lewis also played NPR on Sunday and Conan on Friday, here's a look at that:


Make sure you make it out to one of these shows.

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Monica Guerra has grown up---TAXMAN

by Hector Diego
For those of you who don't know, Monica Guerra is a YouTuber who makes videos featuring herself, set to the music of the Beatles. I love her soundtrack, but I don't get the point of Guerra's posturing. Anyway, this young woman has finally matured and made a video of substance.

In my book, it is not so much a question of the size of government (a brilliant propaganda fixation of conservatives, but a red herring in reality) or the rate of taxation---it has more to do with what the government does, who is taxed fairly or unfairly, and where the tax money goes. The last bit here on Guerra's video of Bush talking to a journalist is classic Bush.



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Blitzkrieg Bop.

by Hector Diego
I agree with the Station Agent---let's get the rage out. I suppose I could pretend that I have some rage to get out, just so I won't be considered hopelessly un-angry. Here's the Ramones.



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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Get That Rage Out, America

by Hector Diego
This weekend my favorite college football team lost a game and it really bothered me, even though I know it's just a game.

Here are some people, at the UM vs FIU game, who think this shit is important. Someone should draft these guys, but it's not the NFL.



This clip was taken by a fan from inside the stadium at the same game. It shows the fans losing their minds. Fun and games.



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ACT NATURALLY

by Hector Diego
Click here for Ringo and the Beatles doing Act Naturally. You'll also get Ticket to Ride.

Here's Ringo with the late Buck Owens (1929--2006), again doing Act Naturally. George Harrison may have been Owens' biggest fan, for he studied Owens' guitar playing down to the last note. It's ironic and sad that the teacher outlived his younger student. You have to admit, old Ringo is a cute little guy, isn't he? All he has to do is act naturally...



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SPRINGSTEEN---THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND

by Hector Diego
I guess I couldn't resist posting this one, too.



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HECTOR DIEGO REPLIES TO SHENKMAN

by Hector Diego

One of the first American flags. Intuitively, we all know what it means.


The Station Agent posted something from MSN News with this dude Shenkman saying the country has gone conservative. To me this is so nonsensical that I have decided to post my response right here.

Shenkman says the whole thing is confusing---referring to the current distinction between liberals and conservatives. In my opinion, the whole country is confused, including Shenkman.

This country did not "turn conservative" as Shenkman said, after the 60s. Instead, by a series of bad luck events for the Democrats, Reagan came to power and used his influence to inflame conservatism, which hates liberalism and liberals.

This conservatism was always there in about the same numerical strength that it always had. To think that it became bigger in numbers because of the advances made in the 60s is about as absurd as thinking the 60s represented a chance to change all of creation, that was blown.

No. The 60s were a fluke. The real truth is that the two strands of our national life--conservative and liberal--go back to the beginning of the Republic and beyond, to intellectual events in European history. And these strands are so intricately interwoven that it is often difficult to disentangle them. At times one or another seems prominent due to historical events that favor one or another, but here's my take on what is happening.

The conservative trend we have witnessed in government since the 80s is also a fluke. It represents the reins of power but not what people are feeling. It also represents the opportunism of the Republican party, that, since the late 70s, has used the social conservatism of evangelical Christians to its advantage. But is has been an uneasy partnership, and we are all wondering with bated breath about what will come next. For those of you who are too young to remember, it was the Democratic National Convention that became a circus for the American left in 1968, not the Republican. What this tells us is that only recently has there been a major split between the parties on social issues. Before the 70s, it was all about fiscal matters.

But let's get back to the current situation and Shenkman's delusional comments. Look at it this way. Nowadays women in America and around the world have more agency than at any time in recorded history. There are even women conservative politicians, and this was not significant when I was a kid. Now it is.

Progress is about two steps forward and one step backward. We are going to make it to the promised land. And when we do we'll find Martin Luther King's legacy there to greet us.

What liberals should do is "accuse" people of being conservative. This will alienate no one who would actually vote for them. Infuriating the conservatives is always good policy for liberals, but often they don't have the guts to do it.

Me? I'm a real centrist, not a phony one--as Shenkman has correctly described--who is actually a liberal and too afraid to admit it.

We need more of that original Revolutionary spirit.


Here's Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land, featuring Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, and notable others.

JOHN 1.1: "IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD...

by Hector Diego


...and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John, 1.1)

Say the word and you'll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I'm thinking of
Have you heard, the word is love?
It's so fine, It's sunshine
It's the word, love
In the beginning I misunderstood
But now I've got it, the word is good

Spread the word and you'll be free
Spread the word and be like me
Spread the word I'm thinking of
Have you heard the word is love?
It's so fine, it's sunshine
It's the word, love
Everywhere I go I hear it said
In the good and the bad books that I have read

Say the word and you'll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I'm thinking of
Have you heard the word is love?
It's so fine, it's sunshine
It's the word, love
Now that I know what I feel must be right
I'm here to show everybody the light

Give the word a chance to say
That the word is just the way
It's the word I'm thinking of
And the only word is love
It's so fine, it's sunshine
It's the word, love

Say the word, love

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Station Agent and Muhammed Yunus' Microcredit

by Hector Diego

Mohammed Yunus


The following is an email thread I had going with my good friend the Station Agent. I had seen a news article about Muhammed Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in offering small loans at extremely low rates to poor folks around the world. His loans would do nothing in an economic environment like the United States, but in places like Bangladesh (he's the first person from that country to win the Nobel award), where hard-bitten entrepreneurs know what to do with them, these loans have lifted many out of soul-crushing, grinding poverty. Impressed with Yunus' doctrine of "development from below", but interested to hear what my friend had to say, the following thread was initiated. I have reversed the usual order to make it convenient for the reader.


Station Agent,

I think Muhammed Yunus has a relly great idea. But I think socialists would not like his idea, because it takes the sting out of capitalism and keeps it viable for longer. In fact it extends the capitalist system with these loans, for it makes new capitalists out of poor people. Most of these loans go, I believe, to small (very small) businesses. Comments?


Hector,

Eh, I don't think it's a bad idea. I'm a socialist in an ideal world. I'm a progressive in this world. I'm about realist incremental gains and this is good stuff.


Station Agent,

I see your point about living in the world we're in. Would an ideal socialist world make sure everyone gets properly paired off? If poverty is the source of all ills, then we have to see that there are different kinds of poverty. There's money poverty, moral poverty, mental poverty, sexual poverty, spiritual poverty, musical poverty, etc. I guess I have two gripes with socialism so far as I have heard. No religion too, and economics is the only consideration. It feels like a straight-jacket, my friend.


Hector,

Poverty is not the source of all ills, it's one of the worst by-products of those ills and it fuels things like disease and terrorism. Ending poverty makes Democratic processes more efficient.

Why can't there be religion in socialism? Economics is the only concern in socialism because socialism is a bedrock ideology. It has no advanced form. Capitalism only implies a foreign policy and attitude toward religion because it has spread globally and we see how it works and mutates. European Socialism is starting to imply a very democratic foreign policy, and I think that sort of thing only bodes well for religious freedom.

Marx spoke out against religion at a time when the most ruthless, bloodthirsty power players were using religion--Christianity--as a hammer to smash the people.

Between then and now religion has become secondary--the driving force of oppression now is the corporate unconscious. The ability of a collective entity to exist in a nebulous political state not grounded in any way to the interests of the people. That is a form of socialism in and of itself, but it's utterly malignant because it's totally self interested and alienated from the nation-state.

Comment from Hector Diego: I think the Station Agent is a pretty smart guy. "The corporate unconscious", that kills me. You too.



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Rilo Kiley Concert--L.A. 2003

by Jay Allbritton
Some kind soul is slowly but surely downloading a great RK show from 2003.

Part one (Execution of All Things, It's a Hit)


Part two (Pictures of Success)


Part three (Portions for Foxes, Hail to whatever...)


Part four (More Adventurous, Don't Deconstruct, Capturing Moods)


Part five (Rest of my life, I Never, Paint's Peeling)


Part six (Love and War, Does He Love You,


Part seven (Ripchord, It Just Is, Better Son/Daughter)


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Friday, October 13, 2006

JENNY WREN

by Hector Diego


Everyone knows that the composer of When I'm Sixty-four now is 64. It's a song Paul wrote as a teenager, and resurrected several years later. Why mention it in connection with his recent work, Jenny Wren?

Jenny Wren might be the best thing the old Mac has done in years. At first I didn't care for it, but decided to give it another listen. We owe it to artists to go along with them at least partly, for their art is them.

To me, Jenny Wren represents a very human side of the man who, with his mates, changed history. He's now an old man, and this song shows it. He's not one of those vocalists whose voice remains strong to the end, inflected here and there with endearing hooks fashioned by age. No. Paul McCartney's beautiful voice is deteriorating in the more common way. But it is still endearing, and Jenny Wren is a good melody. In spite of the ravages of time, Paul sings this song in the best voice suited to it, the voice of Blackbird. I feel it is about sadness tinged with hope. As Lennon said a few days before he went to the other side, "Where there's life, there's hope."

It's sad that we all grow old and die, and that's what Jenny Wren reminds me of. If you think there might be beauty in sadness, listen to Jenny Wren with an open heart.

I believe that Paul McCartney, son of England, has done it one more time.



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No One is Liberal Anymore

by Jay Allbritton
Allison Stewart of MSNBC looks at the history of the word liberal.



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THE FOOL ON THE HILL

by Hector Diego


Many have suggested that The Fool On The Hill is about Jesus. Well, maybe. It's McCartney at the top of his form, with great lyrics, great melody, and great vocals.



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THE FUTURE OF HARD CORE...

by Hector Diego
...or the hard core of the future?




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I LEFT MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO

by Hector Diego

I dedicate this one to my beautiful wife.

Good Day Sunshine

by Jay Allbritton
This is a pretty brilliant anti-war clip from YouTuber Mattaros (h/t Jump to the Left of The Unruly Mob)



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Thursday, October 12, 2006

JENNY LEWIS---YOU ARE WHAT YOU LOVE

by Hector Diego





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Blake Sennett on the Beatles--Paul Writes Better Chords...

by Jay Allbritton
Blake Sennett of the Elected and Rilo Kiley spoke to Platform Magazine in June. One of the topics was the infinite debate over Paul vs. John.

Here's Blake's take:
ROY : Who's your favorite Beatle?
BS: Probably Sir Paul.
ROY : Why?

BS: I think he was the best song-writer, I think his structures were the best, I think his voice was the best. I think John Lennon was the most clever but Paul he writes better chords and I think his melodies are more interesting and I don't know... If you're gonna say bad things about people, I think Paul McCartney is fairly impressed with himself. I've heard it said that it's very easy to be friends with Paul McCartney, all you have to do is speak to him about Paul McCartney. But John Lennon, apparently, what I've heard, what I've read... was kind of a dick, y'know? You weren't allowed to meet John if you were playing a show with John. John was the one guy who wouldn't come and greet you, you weren't even allowed to talk to John. He cheated on his wife pretty constantly... um... which doesn't mean anything about his music. Truth is, I just prefer Paul's songs, I love some John's songs, some of my favourite Beatles' songs are John's songs but more of my favourite Beatles' songs are Paul's songs. I love Beatles For Sale', I think it's a great album.

The Elected is on tour this Fall, you must go see them.

MP3 - Elected - Not Me

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