The Number You Are Trying to Reach ...

The following is a letter I sent to AT and T [can't use the "and" symbol in a blog for some reason ] after I received a crazy phone bill and had an even more insane experience talking to customer service and a supervisor. Enjoy.

To Whom it May Concern:

A complaint.

On 1/30/09 I called AT and T to ask a few questions about my long distance bill. My wife had been told previously that any calls within the 707 area code were free, but I had a phone bill that said differently. As to be seen, we weren’t the only ones confused by this. So were the AT and T employees.

The first customer service woman I talked to (and I have since found out notes have been made on my phone call, so please refer back to them) told me I was mistaken about the area code information. When I asked what calls were free, she told me it had to do with mileage and then quoted me three different mileage rates: 8 miles, 13 miles and 20 miles. Anything outside the mileage rate (which rate was anyone’s guess) would be considered long distance. I told her it was ridiculous for me to figure out the mileage (as if that were even possible) for every call I wanted to make, and she agreed. She then asked how much my “television” bill was. I told her it was less than my phone bill, and then she offered to sell me some bundled packages.

Not appreciated.

Perhaps if I was calling to say how much I loved AT and T, or to actually inquire about services, this would be warranted. Why would I buy bundled services from someone who said my long distance bill was based on mileage? Was she part of your prisoner work program?

I asked to talk to a supervisor. This was one of the rare times I actually regretted that, as the supervisor was even more confused than the customer service employee. You wouldn’t think that was possible but the Peter Principle seems to be alive and well in AT and T land.

The supervisor initially told me the only free calls were calls within my prefix range, then said that all calls in 707 area code were free ... and then went back to the prefix angle. I asked if she could understand how someone could be confused by their plan when they didn’t even seem to know what was free and what wasn’t, and then asked if the 269 prefix was free for me to call. She stated it was not. When I pointed out that the AT and T phone book says differently, she said the phone book was wrong and then advised me to call the FCC. I said I was calling her since this was her company’s bill. She told me if I wanted to know what prefixes I could call, I could consult the website. I asked if she were sure the website would be correct since it also had AT and T’s name on it, and she stated that she couldn’t be sure because “they” (the FCC? AT and T? the web? God?) change prefixes all the time.

That seems to be a problem, and I pointed that out to her. How was I to tell what was a free call if she couldn’t even do it. (I understand it’s probably not her job to be able to understand these plans and explain them.) She offered to read me all the prefixes I could call for free, and I took her up on the offer. Oddly enough, one of the free ones was the 269 prefix, which just minutes before was a toll call. Apparently “they” changed that one, too. When I pointed this out, she admitted she had made a mistake.

And I have to still pay this bill? Are you serious? A loyal customer has to put up with such inept service? Can you direct me to any other companies where this is acceptable? I’d like to avoid them.

After I was told I would not have the charges removed from my bill, I asked the supervisor for the name of a local payment center she hated because I was going to pay the bill with pennies and tell them that she told me to go there. El Pueblo Market was where she advised me to go. So I called them (praying it was one of the free prefixes and wouldn’t be changed mid-call by “them”).

When I told the store manager of El Pueblo that the supervisor listed his place as the store I should pay my bill in hundreds of pennies, he was a bit shocked. (In all fairness, his store is the only local payment center, but I wouldn’t let such facts stand in the way of his puzzlement and anger. After all, nobody at AT and T let the facts come into play at any time during my call, and I wasn’t acting as an AT and T ambassador.) He wanted to know why AT and T would do this, and I told him that I had asked the supervisor for a pay center she hated, and that she gave me his market. He’s probably used to that hatred since his business is like one of two Mexican markets in a predominately white area of CA. I then told him I’d be paying AT and T by check and not to worry, as I wouldn’t burden him with 50 pounds of pennies. He thanked me. Perhaps he’s called you fine folks by now to inquire. If he hasn’t, perhaps he fell for that whole mileage thing and decided you were too far away to call.

So my choices are this: use my cell phone exclusively, go to a new carrier, or keep AT and T and ask that you credit my bill. To help in the decision making process, I’ll fill give you some information you may or may not know about me. I’m a writer.

Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a famous writer like that King character, but my name gets around. Go to your local video store and there’s a good chance you’ll find at least one movie with a quote from me on it. I have a book that reached #8 on the Barnes and Noble best seller list for its category, and my short stories have outsold actor John Lithgow’s. I’ve also written those little essays that appear in DVDs. So, yeah, some people read my work.

They also read my blog.

Guess what company is going to be making an appearance on said blog? That’s right. AT&T. You can find it at http://cancerouszeitgeist.com. If it isn’t on the main page by the time you get to it, just enter AT and T into the search engine. I think you’ll find it. I’m also willing to publish the outcome. That ball, as they say, is in your court.

This entire situation was uncalled for. I don’t believe my wife heard the AT and T representative incorrectly when turning off our long distance. The customer “service” I received shows that it is your workers who are confused about the services they are selling. Either that, or they are purposely misleading. Neither one bodes well for the company. Look at it this way. More and more people are getting rid of their land lines. Don’t you think you should be going out of your way to keep customers?

And I still have to pay this bill?

I paid so not to be delinquent. I made the calls. I admit that. There may be more on my next bill. I made them with a false impression of my service, however, but I still made them, and so I am paying for them. You may also know that as “taking the high road.” Will AT and T do the same? Will my blog readers end up having some faith in the company? Or will some bored news agency pick up the story for one of those slightly humorous “can you believe this, folks” type pieces they love to do?

Oh yeah, I’ve written press releases, too.

How will we resolve this? A credit? A continued campaign to bring attention to the totally insane customer service I received? Do tell. I’m curious.


Voodoo Needs Money

It is official. Voodoo Rhythm needs donations fast. Here is the original e-mail I received. It came from Slow Boat Films.


Hello, this might be a bit of a strange E-Mail. I have treated bands very fairly since I've started Voodoo Rhythm and have given them their records for cost price so that they could make a solid profit when selling their records on tour (we all know payouts are lousy nowadays). I did approach the SUISA (Copyright Company, musicians' union) and informed them of the nature of my agreement with the bands. Unfortunately I never put it in writing.

Now that is exactly the problem: The SUISA demands payback of a total of 42.500 Swiss Franks (roughly 38.000 US $). Basically they want money for productions that had long been settled. The bitter irony is that bands of course prefer free copies of their album, yet the Suisa is oblivious to this fact and demand the money within 30 days. If we cannot meet their demands we might have to shut down business, since it is completely impossible to for us to raise that kind of money. Therefore we kindly ask for your support. Even if we can pay we will not be able to offer the bands the same deal as before, in spite of the fact that they would much rather get free copies from us as opposed to Suisa money (especially American bands since they don't get any Suisa money at all).

We hope you can help us. We don't want to quit, we want to resume or work and our journey. Plea se transfer funds to the following account and forward this message.


Reverend Beat-Man


There was no account listed there, so I e-mailed to see how it could be done. Here's what I received back from Slow Boat:

the site is: wwwv.voodoorhythm.com

it has all the info on the start page.

here the paypal:



You can go to www.voodoorhythm.com to learn more. I just got slammed with a phone bill, but I think I may be able to donate some. This is a great label, and it needs to stay afloat. Thanks.
Voodoo is in trouble. More info to come. Check voodoo web page in the meantime.


I Could Taste Nothing But Victory

Just when you think you got a handle on the shit, God punches you in the gut and on your way down, does a nice uppercut to your jaw to see if he can loosen a few teeth. That is the way of the world.

A shit night is the best way to sum it up. Sliding deeper into a depression as I put away pieces of my past life. I thought I could make myself feel better by putting on the soundtrack to "The Devil's Rejects." I think it's a perfect movie, and things I consider to be that high of an art (like "Lone Wolf and Cub," "Preacher" and the two "Kill Bill" films) I respect. They also depress me because I don't believe I can ever top them. Here's the kicker, though, for those who haven't seen the film: The movie is violent, but the music is so damn sad (just like the film's ending).

So I slip and I slide, and I try. I try to get back up, and I do, but each time a little further down. I want my old life back. I want my daughter to be happy again. I don't buy the shit that kids get over things. They do, but it sticks. "Things just ain't the same" that song "To Be Treated Right" (also on the soundtrack) goes. They ain't. They never will be.

One foot forward as the rotted limbs of life attempt to pull you back. We all got our battles, our addictions. We either overcome or drown. Worse yet, we just float. How's that go? We all float down here? Yeah, something like that.

I hate feeling this way. I'd rather feel violent. It's a feeling I'm familiar with. Hurt doesn't do well with me. Being closer to forty than thirty and typing with my eyes clouded with tears makes me feel dumb and little. It makes me feel less than what I am. It makes me feel human, and I can't stand that.

So, yeah, listening to that soundtrack was a bummer. Having my girl choose to spend the night elsewhere sucked. Hearing that Voodoo Rhythm Records may go under saddened me. Trying to eat and not being able to keep food down made me think of the money I just wasted.

Here's to all the things I hate. Here's a toast to all those things that make me feel human. Those damned emotions that like to tease and never please. Kind of like that girl in high school. The one who made you so glad you were a guy, but so pissed you couldn't show her. I salute thee. You fucking won tonight. You win nearly every night. I don't know who I am anymore. I don't know how I get through a day. I don't remember conversations. I think I don't look the same. I know I don't feel the same. I go through the motions. I fake it, but even friends are starting to see the real me peeking through the seams.

I think it scares some of them. Not for their personal safety, but for mine.

A cry for a help in a world gone mad. Wasn't that Agent Orange? God, I bet this is filled with mistakes. I don't care to read over it. This is fueled by emotion. Not communication. I don't care to hear what the world has to say today. I think I've heard all I care to.

One more punch, God? You got it in you? I know I can take it. In fact, I welcome it. One more. Right in the face. As hard as you can. Let's tempt fate, you sick fantasy. Let's dance one more time. Let's see if you can push as hard as I can. Even you got to get tired sometime. How's those knuckles feel? That my blood or yours?

So I smile at you through a mouth full of broken teeth, bloody gums, and one lip hanging off my face like a piece of mozzarella cheese dipped in runny tomato sauce. And you know what? I look damn good. My eyes have swelled shut. They're purple now. By the morning they'll be black. The vessels in my right eye have burst. A doctor says I may never see again. "Got you good," he states. Can't move my jaw right. Not even to smile. It comes out funny. Stroke-like. Something broke in there. Not sure they can fix that. My scalp got cut somewhere along the line. Blood cakes the side of my face and mats my hair. Thick enough you can smell it. I let it go long enough and the flies will find their way to it. If I move my head fast (and I can't because it hurts) a flap of skin will flip over, exposing some skull. Hard to tell under all that blood, though.

I kind of like this look. Reminds me of what it's like to bleed. You ever wonder why all those girls cut themselves? It's to let the pain out, to feel human. Ever wonder why guys hit? The exact opposite.

Ever dread the phone ringing? Ever fear waking up to see what's at your door? That's every fucking minute. "Lord help me/I can't change." "Free Bird" Soundtrack again. Maybe I should turn this off. I kind of like the push, though.

I think I should set up a poll. Who says he needs therapy? Vote now!

Yeah, well, tomorrow is another day. Another way to rip your body over the broken glass and call it good. That sun comes up and just burns. Hell awaits your next meal. Here's to the good guys winning one for once. Here's to old friends and fuck buddies. Here's to fast cars and hand guns. Here's to woman who look good no matter what they weigh and to arsonists. Here's to a thousand points of light to denote burning souls. Here's to one last go before the police send us home. Here's to faded memories of that first kiss and to poison stars. Here's to the one that got away and the one that never was. Here's to dead parents and the words you never got out. Here's to life's funny little moments that leave you dying in the street as onlookers dial 911. Here's to hoping the ambulance is stuck in traffic.

Here's too good times. May you always return. May you always bear gifts.

This machine eats souls. It's empty. Good night.

A Brief Interlude of Violence

The possible news of Voodoo Rhythm Records’ demise got me thinking. Depressed me, too. It’s the little things, right? The little things that send you over the edge. It’s not the big disasters. It’s the thousand tiny ones, with one eventually pushing that button.

I sent a query out to “Blender” some months ago. As is typical, I did not get a response. All I wanted to know was whether or not the magazine or website would be interested in running my review of Lightning Beat-Man and His No Talent’s “Wrestling Rock ‘N’ Roll.” I even wrote a rough draft of the review specifically tailored to “Blender.” Since the magazine states that it “discusses cutting-edge trends across several music genres,” I figured I would have a chance at getting the review published and making some scratch. At the very least I figured I’d get a simple rejection.


So here’s the rough run of the review. Why let it go to waste?

In 1994 Reverend Beat-Man, founder of Switzerland’s incredible Voodoo Rhythm Records, released Lightning Beat-Man and His No Talent’s Wrestling Rock ‘n’ Roll as a 10” record. Now Voodoo Rhythm Records has rereleased it on LP and CD for all those who missed it the first time around and added three bonus tracks to keep the fans happy.

Lightning Beat-Man and His No Talent bridges the gap between Beat-Man’s other acts, The Monsters and Reverend Beat-Man. It takes the lo-fi rawness of Reverend Beat-Man and mixes it with the straightforward rock of The Monsters ... and throws in the visual of Mexican wrestling for good measure. Broken down to its purest form, the release is a love letter to Hasil Adkins, and you really couldn’t ask for anything better.

With 19 tracks, including “Wild Baby Wow,” “I Wanna Be Your Pussycat” and “Wrestling With Satan,” you can only imagine what the live shows must have been like. One can easily picture lots of beer, distortion and sweat -- all that is right and proper with primitive rock ‘n’ roll. It actually makes you wonder how the rest of the underground music scene could have gone so wrong.

Lightning Beat-Man and His No Talent is early American rock done right. Recorded in “almost stereo,” it deserves a place in the collections of those who purposely ignore the beaten path in order to find a more spiritually pure form of music. Those in the know (and their numbers are growing every day) have found that musical nirvana with just about everything Voodoo Rhythm has done, and it continues here. Those who were unaware have no excuse anymore, though. This is real. This is history. This is essential.


I received an e-mail today from Slow Boat Films (I assume it was director M.A. Littler) stating that Voodoo Rhythm Records was in financial trouble and possibly going under. It then asked for donations to be sent to an account (which I couldn't find listed).

I don't know if this is a scam done by some e-mail virus. (I know Slow Boat wouldn't do this as a scam, but its e-mail could have been hijacked.) I have sent an e-mail out to Slow Boat to find out more, and I will keep you all posted. If it is real, I'm going to post the e-mail here. Voodoo is too important to music to go under. If I weren't going through a financial mess myself, I'd be sending it whatever money I had. I still may send some.

Voodoo Rhythm Records is the last label that matters. If it stops putting out music, the world will have lost some incredible bands that may have not have gotten heard any other way.


Death at 190 MPH

"Kinetica" is one of those PS2 games I had been hunting for for years. I had played a demo of this futuristic racing game (picture that cycle scene from "Tron," but going up walls and launching out of tubes and the like),but could never find it at a price I liked. The demo wasn't great, but I figured it would be a good $15 game. You can't really go wrong with games at that price. At the very least you can resell them on eBay to some shut-in collector from Nebraska.

Around the holidays, Gamestop.com (a store where being a dunce is a prerequiste for employment) had a PS2 holiday sale. Lo and behold, a used copy of Kinetica, sans original box and instruction booklet, was there for around $5.00. After fighting off seemingly endless hordes of Spanish speaking children, I grabbed the box and took it to the counter for the ever-important disc inspection. I bought it promptly thereafter.

Kinetica, as some may know,is also the name of one of Sony's game engines. It is the engine that powers "God of War," probably one of the most famous games using the engine. Of course, it also powers "Kinetica." Is that important? No, but you probably didn't know that before today.

As an arcade racer goes, this is standard, if not sub-standard stuff. Little customization, few tracks, and a difficulty that ranges from easy to maddening, often in the same season. There are racers and tracks to unlock, but nothing that is worth the effort (though some of the tracks are nifty). So what makes this game appealing?

"Kinetica" gets its strength from the concept. Racing up walls in a futuristic body suit or along glass tubes over a city is kind of cool no matter how you look at it. Launching off ramps and doing stunts has its appeal, too, but it's the concept and visuals that make this worth spending $5.00 on. (If you have 5.1 surround sound it'll sound pretty good, too ... at least before you start racing.)

The controls are easy to figure out. (Like I mentioned, I didn't even get an instruction booklet.) On the downside, the racer you choose doesn't seem to make a difference, either. At least the game is set up so that you have to figure out all the different aspects to racing (stunts, boost, proper brake use) in order to advance, but that can be frustrating as none of it seems all that polished. Winning a race actually seems more like luck over skill.

There will probably never be a sequel to this. If there is, I never heard of it and don't really want to. For a five spot, however, this is worth the time. Once I finish it, though, some kid from Nebraska is going to be one slightly happy camper.


Obama Mania

There is little in the way of Obama coverage that surprises me. I don't know when I will get around to posting this (I'm writing it while camped out on the couch battling depression), but as of this draft it is 1/22/09. He's been in control for all of two days, so I wonder how much of what I write will hold up when this is actually posted.

I've covered the nomination of Obama in previous posts. I felt as if it had an almost fascistic air to it, and definitely reeked of propaganda. Even some of my friends who are Obama supporters are beginning to find the continuing coverage a little ... creepy. He's got the whole world in his hands, indeed.

Photos of the president adjusting his tie are described as “remarkable.” Pundits are saying he has changed the way black and white people are dealing with each other. Any moment I expect CNN to describe him as “the next Jesus.” Why is this? What is the fascination? I can only think of two things. History and Bush.

I think many journalists got so caught up in Obama-fever that they really couldn't criticize the man ... especially when other journalists were happily describing him as our next “ruler.” Sure, these various medias are trying to keep a sense of fairness, but look at NBC. That network has been selling an Obama DVD, with commercials for it during the nightly news. CNN makes the prideful boast that it is keeping the new administration honest, but the next commercial is for a CNN election day t-shirt (pro Obama). Am I the only one who finds irony here? It's kind of right on the nose. It's our first black president. Fine. We all can understand the historical impact of that (and that is nothing to be dismissed out of hand), but does that mean he and his administration are above serious examination and criticism? I don't think so, but it seems that Anderson Cooper does.

And then there's Bush. After close to a decade of that bumbling idiot's practically suicidal administration doing its best to run this country into the ground, Obama does seem like the Second Coming personified. He's everything Bush was not. Articulate. Intelligent. Well liked by people of his own country and leaders of other countries. Charming. Unfortunately, there are similarities, too. Both are shrewd men who aren't above throwing their friends to the lions (Obama even moreso), and both picked cabinets that are more than a little suspect. You won't find many in the mainstream media pointing this out.

McCain has become a footnote. Truth be told, however, I trusted him more. I wouldn't vote for him (my political leanings mean I don't really vote for leaders), but I did believe his words over Obama's. (Though toward the end of the campaign it was obvious McCain was listening to all the wrong people.) McCain may have been a bit of a racist, a hawk, and eventually easily manipulated, but he also spoke his mind for the most part. I'd rather hear things I don't agree with as opposed to rhetoric meant to draw a cheer and little in the way of thought.

The mainstream media truly dropped the ball when it came to the Bush years. It bought the lies and refused to ask the tough questions. And that is from a media that seemed to seriously dislike the man. When it comes to a media darling, does anyone seriously expect the mainstream media to deal with him with anything resembling tough questions? No. Like the feminists remaining quiet during Clinton's cigar fucking, the mainstream media will ignore that which takes more than a sound bite.

As I finish this up, I am watching Anderson Cooper's CNN show. Photos from the inauguration day are being described as “remarkable,” “incredible” and are compared to the footage of the plane that went down in the water. (One of those “incredible” pictures shows the First Lady putting a shoe on her daughter. I mean, that really is pretty damn fucking cool when you think about it. How many other parents do things like that? Not many, that's for sure.) Yeah, CNN can be trusted all right. It can be trusted not to delve into anything resembling truth (something that has been a problem for the network ever since it fired those journalists for doing their job). It can be trusted to not ask the tough questions regardless of what its commercials assure us. This is the network that shows footage of Obama ordering food on Air Force and describes it as “extraordinary.”

We have lost all sense of scope in this Obama-mania. Photos of the president with his eyes closed are now given the same consideration as photos of new galaxies forming. A dinner order is handled with the same seriousness as Hurricane Katrina. The “tough” questions asked are like this one, which was heard on CNN, “Can the president exercise on board [Air Force One]?” Granted, this was some from National Geographic special, but CNN ran it several times as news.

Those really are some tough questions. Somewhere in there I must have missed the one about why Obama broke his campaign contribution promise. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but when a guy who wants to be president breaks a promise that was one of the backbones of his campaign, I think that says something about character. But what do I know?

So let's compare this, written on 1/22/09, compared to the day you are reading it. Have my words held up? Is he still being treated like a god, or has the media and the rest of America come to its senses? I think I know ... but I hope I'm wrong.


They Shoot Protesters Don't They?

"The Economist" June 28-July 4 issue. Bill Gates dominates the cover. "The Economist" isn't as important as the "Wall Street Journal" used to be, but it is read by business and world leaders, which means the magazine has to tell it like it is. It can't be Fox or CNN.

This particular issue has a piece in the Leaders section on Robert Mugabe. You may recognize him as the brutal leader of Zimbabwe. He has opposition, and their children, executed in some creative ways. "The Economist" doesn't like him, and it is calling on other countries (and Africa) to oust him. It says his leadership has weakened and that he needs to step aside for the good of the country. There is no mention of neoliberalism or any of the other usual stuff you would expect from "The Economist." That was refreshing on its own, but it was the last sentence in the article that really caught my eye.

"But most of all it needs its African neighbours to tell the tyrant unambiguously to go -- and to snuff him out if he refuses. It can be done."

I never thought I'd see "The Economist" call for assassination. It seems kind of bold. I don't disagree with it or anything even like that. I'm just surprised that would actually see print. It makes me want to reread all the Bush articles it has done.

Kudos to "The Economist." The call for Mugabe's removal had a wonderfully wicked tone to it at the end (almost as if written by a 1930s anarchist), and it made me smile. Now where are those Bush articles?


Delete The Elite

I am the proud owner (one of only a handful of people, I'm sure) of the original "Delete the Elite" compilation CD from Eerie Materials. It's a hybrid release that came in this incredible box package with all sorts of goodies. It's one of those releases you can't put in the CD rack, and is really more of work of art than your standard CD.

The songs are great. They question capitalism, consumerism, commercial radio, eating meat and so on. When it came out it was a case of preaching to the converted, but that didn't really matter. Sometimes the converted need to have some moral support, and that's where projects like this one come in handy. Heck, MDC is on there. You gotta love that.

Eerie Materials was always a fringe label, even as fringe labels go. When I was following it, it achieved little more than a cult following here. Its bands were just too strange for the punk crowd, and too punk for the art crowd. The Japanese, on the other hand, loved it. They ate the LPs and tapes up by the handful. The label even put out little booklets on how to worm tapes and the like.

Eerie felt like it was subversive in everything it did. You never knew what to expect, and you couldn't be sure you'd like it, but you knew it wouldn't be boring.

I have no idea what has happened to the label. For all I know it still exists in some form or another. (My guess would be that it was doing MP3s before they became big.) In its heyday, though, it ruled the odd, experimental music scene. It made listeners feel as if anything could happen ... and it often did.

Hand painted record covers. Strange clip art. Obscure samples. A passion for musicial chaos. These were the hallmarks of Eerie Materials. "Delete the Elite" was the shining tower. It was a serious product about serious topics. For all those who thought its music was just noise, this CD changed that. There was a mission there with the other releases, but only the more astute caught it. This laid it on the table, though, and what a glorious mission it was.

Sadly, the elite won. Music really is a commodity these days more than ever. When I pop that CD into the player, though, I get that old glean in the eye, and a spring in my step. It makes me want to reuse postage stamps and jam the lock of a fur coat store again.

I suppose if you look online you can find some songs or something. There was one tape compilation (I believe it was called "How to Kill Frank Sinatra") that had a series of excellent prank calls on it. If you can find that, I highly recommend it. And remember, if you hate the stuff ... well, that's pretty much expected. It is, after all, just noise.


Where There Is Hope ...

I missed Obama taking the oath. I was busy working. My daughter got to see it, and was thrilled by it. She's four, and I thought that was pretty neat. She and I watched the news coverage up until the moment I had to leave for work. She took the opportunity to tell me that people sometimes treat people with brown skin badly, and that there is no real reason for that because it shouldn't matter what color skin you have.

I'm often proud of her. She's a smart kid. Wise beyond the four years she's spent on this planet. I was very proud of her then. She wanted to be part of history. I didn't spoil it by talking about my views. She knows them. This was her moment to take in something that she knew was special.

A lot of other people felt the same way.

My feelings on presidents, including this one, are well known. Seeing all those people that excited about politics, change, and the sense of history made me smile, though. Even if they forget about things like neoliberalism, NAFTA, Haliburton and so on tomorrow, today they were aware that politics could be more than just something you read about. It could be (and is) something you actively participate in. Granted, all they were doing was showing up, but in this country, that actually means something.

The news was full of the usual nonsense. Who made the First Lady's dress? Obama likes Spider-Man comic books. What kind of dog should they get? How can they make life normal for the kids? Fluff is easier to digest. We all know that. The mainstream media lost any sense of newsworthiness once their corporate owners started to get smarter.

But today that was okay. Those streets were packed. People were crying. They were stopping what they were doing. They were in awe. They were watching history unfold, and they were proud. If just ten percent of them become more politically aware (even if they don't agree with me on the issues -- and they won't), then that will be better for us all. An informed citizen is a dangerous citizen, and a dangerous citizen is my kind of people.

Where there is hope, there is fire. The advocates of cannibalistic capitalism, racism, anti-intellectualism, jingoism and hegemony should take note. The people watching that oath, the ones who took off work, the ones with tears in their eyes, they are the ones who believe that one word on Shepard's poster.


At some point it may strike them that not only is the status quo corrupt, but that they can change it. It may suddenly make sense to them why some people riot when cops shoot unarmed men in the back. It may make them want to pick up a brick, or write a letter, or call a radio show, or vote outside the party lines. Obama's rhetoric, as inspirational as it may seem to be, may actually lead to his undoing ... and the undoing of this whole cancer-ridden system.

If all those people in the streets today said "no more," they could not be stoppped.

Here's to hope ...


News From Me and Voodoo

Regular readers may notice something new in the next few days here. I am going to start accepting ads on the blog (if I can figure out how to make them work). Cry "sell out" if you will, but I am in dire need of extra cash. And since I don't want to move back to PA (which would solve the cash problem, but destroy me mentally), I'm accepting ads. If you don't like them, don't click on them. I'm hoping the keyword feature will be smart enough to only put up cool stuff, but I'm not counting on it.

Here's the latest Voodoo news I received (copied from the press release with a little editing):

ANDY DALE PETTY (Voodoo Rhythm records) and MISS-IPI ( Voodoo Rhythm

Hey... we try to set a tour together for Andy Dale Petty (the First time in
Europe) and Miss-ipi from Italy.

Both are One Man (Girl) Acts and play that sort of Folk and Blues that you
go nuts for. Please try to book them in your club bar or whatever...
church restaurant. They are incredible !!!!!

ANDY DALE PETTY from USA/ Alabama, poor man's blues artist, guitarist,
singer, following trails of Bob Dylan, John Fahey , while discovering old
time country folk traditionals.

He is young, he is good looking and he is on Voodoo Rhythm!

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/andydalepetty

Current album/reviews : http://www.voodoorhythm.com/VR1249.htm

Voodoo rhythm page http://www.voodoorhythm.com/ANDY-DALE-PETTY.html

MISS-IPI from Torino/ Italy, one-lady-blues-artist, sexy as Robert Johnson,
hot as Billie Holiday, demented as Betty Boop. She could be Memphis Minnie
and Jessie Mae Hemphill's white little sister.

She is young, she is wild aaaaaand recording for Voodoo Rhythm!

Myspace: www.myspace.com/missipi

And this amazing FolkBlues Vodooo Rhythm Showcase need gigs in MARCH:

Mo 16 - CH

Di 17 - CH

Mi 18 - CH/ Germany

Do 19 - Germany

Fr 20 - Germany

Sa 21 - Germany/ Belgium

So 22 - Belgium (or France)??

Mo 23 - Belgium (or France)??

Di 24 - Holland

Mi 25 - Holland/ Amsterdam

Please contact Nicole for booking


Voodoo Rhythm Records

Wankdorffeldstrasse 92

3014 Bern



So, readers in the foreign lands, if you got a space, look into booking these acts. I wouldn't put the press release on here if I thought it was crap.


Obama is Coming ... The Werewolves Are Here!

It's just days away ... history. Racists everywhere are downing Schlitz and lamenting the death of America. Liberals look to their copy of the "Hope" propaganda poster (for shame, Sheppard) and pray that all will be different.

Don't misunderstand me. I realize the importance of Obama's presidency, and I know what it will do for our image throughout the world. At this point, however, even electing Jack from Jack in the Box would help our world standing. I don't think, however, that much will change here in America.

As I write this, I am listening to the "Free the West Memphis 3" benefit CD. We should all know the story. Three teens charged with murder by a jury that couldn't tell its collective ass from a hole in the ground in a state where lynching is just something to do on a Sunday. It seems that the three are innocent, but the South was never very good at letting facts get in the way. The music community, among others, have rallied to the men's defense. People still think, however, that if you wear black you worship the devil. (Priest and Raiders fans excluded, of course.)

And that's why I don't think things will change with Obama.

Our stupidity is deeply rooted in a history of hypocritical morals and a superior sense of self. That sort of thing can't be overcome with grand speeches and basketball courts. It takes the equivalent of a cultural inferno to wipe that off the map. Hell, there are still people out there who seriously think black and white people shouldn't marry each other. Obama is not going to change any minds. He'll be a "credit" to his "race," that's for sure, but let's face it -- many people will never accept the fact that a black man holds the highest office in the land.

The flip side of all this is that he is still part of the status quo. He's a slimy politician who got to where he is by being shrewd (with a dose of backstabbing). You can say Baby Bush stole the election the first time around, but Obama manipulated this one from day one. He is politics as usual, and his cabinet proves it.

But isn't a little better better than no better at all?

I've never been one to believe in voting for the lesser of two evils. I can't give in like that. I can say this, though. Obama was the less scary of the two men if only for foreign policy. I'll grant him that. And the fact that he scares certain segments of the public makes me giggle. But hope? I have none. He didn't come out of left field to wow the public. He trapped people and set the stage for the masses several years ago with an incredible speech at the Democratic Convention ... one that assured he'd be looked at by the left and middle.

Kudos to you, Obama. Where Baby Bush is as subtle as a hand grenade, you proved you are as slick as poison in the well.

Oh, and unless the economy really tanks, I think you have fooled the public well enough to enjoy another four years.

You know who our first black president should have been? One who would have really stirred shit up? Huey P. Newton. Still think Obama is that progressive? I didn't think so.


New Year, Same Shit

2009 came in like a drug-fueled home invasion. Nothing subtle. Very flashy. Lacking any depth. The best thing I saw was while watching CNN. Anderson Cooper, the most masculine man in the country, and Kathy Griffith, a comedian I can't stand, were hosting the festivities. As usual when it comes to these sort of things, there's nothing to report unless a bomb goes off. Cameras keep cutting back to morons celebrating in another part of the world or New York ("It's a new day soon! Woo-hoo! Look, mom, I'm drunker than normal!"). Griffith, and I'm not even sure if that's how you spell her last name (and I'm not researching it), gets bored and when Cooper holds his calloused hand to his weathered ear and announces he is getting word of something, she says, "Ryan Seacrest has been shot."

"Ryan Seacrest has been shot." That was on live television. That was, unfortunately, a lie. Brilliant. Cooper, always a credit to his gender and profession, kept it together. You could tell he was uncomfortable, though, and really wanted a Budweiser.

On New Year's Eve I learned that a co-worker died a horrible death on Christmas, leaving her two children without a mother. It was a car accident, and her vehicle was mangled beyond belief.

I didn't really like the lady, but I understood where she was coming from and had a few pleasant conversations before they turned weird (and I don't use that word loosely). She was not a good worker, but she loved her kids dearly, and I can't help but think of how torn apart they are. She was proud of them and what they had become, and I know she was eager to see what they would be like as adults. She raised them to be independent thinkers and intelligent, and from all accounts it worked.

The news bummed me out. She wasn't an enemy, so I wasn't glad she died (like I was when Reagan finally went back to the Hell that spawned him). I felt like my stomach had dropped out of me, and I kept thinking of the kids. I was glad they weren't with her, but I wonder if it wouldn't have been better. Their lives, their Christmas celebrations, will never be the same. I doubt they'll even be celebrations, which will affect any kids they may have.

There comes a time when every kid becomes an adult. It's not when they turn 18 or lose their virginity. It's when they realize how random and scary life is. It's when they realize that every thing they hold dear and secure can be taken at any moment and turned against them. It's when they realize they aren't properly capable of handling the shit thrown their way.

At midnight I heard the fireworks go off and the gun shots sound. Some people beeped their car horns. All seemed happy to partake in some silly tradition where the only purpose seems to be to say, "I, too, know it's a new year." Some make a resolution to make things better. Some just hope to survive another 365 days of misery. Some wonder what they would be doing if their mom was still around.

Me? I don't really care that it's 2009. It's the same shit. The same blood-soaked path that ends at a cliff. It's one year closer to death. I wasn't firing off M-80s or a shotgun. I wasn't giving it much thought because I was kind of ill. Stress has been doing a number on me, and while I'm not happy to admit it, I believe it's going to get much worse. That said, here's what I wish for the New Year.

More bank robberies. With the economy in the can, you have to go where the money is.

Less violence against innocent people, and more against the people who put us in this position. Politicians. Bankers. Wall Street sharks. Hang them with their own intestines and call it even.

The return of art theft on a grand scale. Art is one of the few things that maintains its value, and it's such a sexy fucking crime. Let's bring it back in force. I've always said the best thing you can do with art is steal it.

Real political debate and discussion making it onto the airwaves. Get on the radio and TV and stir shit up.

More pranks. Good ones. Big ones. Ryan Seacrest was shot type ones.

Let's speed up the inevitable. Again, burn the fuse.