Friday, February 8, 2019

Watch Out for Neo-Liberal Democrats

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 
(D-Calif.) remained seated 
but was spotted applauding 
when Trump said the 
United States would not be 
a "socialist country." 

Anyone else want to throw up?

I know lots of people love Pelosi and Biden, but I don't. I consider them part of the problem. (Reckoner's Note: Many sources, online and off, took Pelosi's clapping for Trump as a sarcastic gesture, not an approving one. )They are bought and sold, same as Republicans. Biden even once told millennials to "stop complaining".  

When I am shown pictures of 70 year Baby Boomers and told 70 is the new 50. I think way to go with silencing younger people.  That's another way they are silencing the needs of younger people too. I guess Generation X will never get a voice until we are in the nursing home ourselves and then it may be too late.

Neo-liberals in the Democratic party basically are yesterday's Republicans, both parties have moved further to the right. When you vote make sure you are voting for real liberals as much as possible instead of mega-corporate wolves in sheep's clothing. 

Now that there are some voices like AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and Bernie coming to the forefront to stand against this and try to make real changes, understand within the Democratic party there's going to be a battle. The neo-liberals had long enough to destroy people's lives and sell out to the Republican party. I blame them for empowering the likes of Trump and the rest. --The Squawker

Dystopian Future or Progress?

Hey, Libertarians, how's the every man for himself edicts working out for you? Being disabled, I was automatically cut from their circles being a disabled "governmental mooch". Sadly their beliefs have spread in the Republican party. 

Years ago I drew a cartoon where the libertarians had produced a Mad Max world, where one had to arm up to get groceries and pay a toll to go down every road. One could do drugs to your heart's content but get sick, and it was game over.

I wish a new word beyond "Socialist" could be used as the Republican bots go on about Communists, ignoring the success of societies like Finland for the misery of Venezuela. It's obvious Western Europe on many fronts has progressed beyond America as we are left behind in the dust, and that America canard "self-reliance" is used to impoverish people further. 

It's not mystery to me why the Republican party has joined hand in hand with the mythos of right-wing religion and now seeks to discredit science.  Dark Ages or Progress? Rich greedy jerks usually choose dark ages, because it means more money for them. This country is at a crossroads. The two futures above await. Which will it be? --The Squawker

Are Millennials Burnt Out?

Are Millennials Burnt Out or Just Casualties of a Sick Society?

Peep wrote about Millennials. Of course they are burnt out, on one hand, they get bitched out for eating too much "avocado toast" and on the other, told that's supposedly why they can't afford to buy houses or have kids. What happens to a Generation that is called LOSERS, while everything is set up from the top for them to lose? ---The Squawker

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Guest Cartoon: The Highwayman: Trump Feels Like A Four-Letter Word

<"What's Wrong With This Picture?": The Highwayman on the image to get the full effect!>

Now that we're finally shaking off the hangover of history's longest government shutdown, we get a first from The Highwayman, an honest to goodness strip, of all things...will wonders never cease? 

Considering all the collateral damage that Herr Trump's latest stunt wreaked -- starting with the estimated $6 billion damage to the economy, once all the requisite federal dominos fell -- the here-and-there-furor over Congresswoman Tlaib's MF outburst seems, well, almost quaint.

We're running it, anyway, though, because the central point still stands. For those of us who oppose Trump and his minions, the dumpster fire that his Presidency represents is unlikely to prompt interjections out of some '30s-era Buck Rogers handbook ("Great Scott!", "Great Space!", and so on). 

Considering the malevolence of that Presidency -- the constant attempts to strip millions of health coverage, the ginormous tax overhaul that gave away ever more to the rich, and the jamming of one Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court -- the never-ending demands for civility and respect raining down from Trump and his cohorts seem downright hypocritical, to put it mildly. 

And until that dark stain is washed away, those calls will go unheeded. We shall not be moved, because we feel unmoved. --The Reckoner

A Few Ratf#cking Links (Quick, Igor,
Before Someone Stuffs The Ballot Box)
(Cut and paste into your browser, if need be)

Esquire: Donald Segretti Tribute
Roger Stone & Ratf#cking: A Short History
Roger Stone and ‘Ratf—ing’: A Short History

Wikipedia: Definitions & Links

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Never-Ending Open Mike (Two Surreal Case Studies)

<Yer Empty Room Awaits...
...This Ain't The Magical Mystery Tour!>

Whether it's spoken word, standup comedy or singer-songwriter (to name the Three Obvious categories). if you've got a talent, you've probably encountered The Open Mic (or Open Mike). You know, those revue type of affairs where all comers strut their stuff for whoever's crying in their beer (or coffee), usually for 10 to 20 minutes. 

Under the right conditions, this proposition can pay off, especially if you hit the sweet time slot spot. That's an art in itself, as any performing lifer knows. Sign up too soon, and you'll break out that flamenco-flavored Rod Stewart cover as people straggle in. Sign up too late, and you'll stare down an empty room as fumble through your opus about Amelia Earhart's last flight.

Grab the halfway mark of a three-hour night, however, and chances are, you'll still have a packed crowd -- or at least, a decent-sized, halfway enthusiastic one -- for whom you'll pull out all the stops. The response may help you land a paying gig, if not the promise of one. If you're just starting out, there's no better way to develop the skills you'll need to win people over.

That's the positive side. Now let's examine the flipside, with two surreal case studies, drawn from hard-fought, hardbitten experience.

It's 5:30 p.m. Sunday, in Small Town Indianaville. October has settled, crisp and cool, here. You've just rolled up to the venue, a small, boxlike coffeehouse that you've played this summer to about 50 people. The response to your half hour set proved encouraging enough to get invited back, though as a hoist.

Things come unstuck right off the bat. Tonight's headliners, the all-instrumental Pitch Black Troika, ask to play first. Something about another gig that they've booked somewhere else tonight, that requires some travel trime. You think they'd review their calendar more keenly, right? 

But the promoter says okay, so you duly introduce them, and get out of the way. Pitch Black Troika sounds hot, loud 'n' crunchy, though your mind circles back to that nagging question: why do they want to leave so early?

Once their allotted 45 minutes is up, they slide out the door, and their following slides out with them. The house shrinks from about 80 people, give or take, to just half that number. Now the promoter asks you to play. Huh?  

Guess what? He must have seen his headliner's alibi coming, because he's apparently booked several solo guitar performers, just in case. None of them have arrived yet, so he's got time to kill. Lots of time. You grimace, but agree. Don't want seem like a bad sport, right? Which is you end up getting your own 45-minute set.

The penny drops as the last-minute additions finish straggling in. Seems you were the only one who brought a real, working microphone -- but none of the stragglers did, which means ...they want to borrow yours. The promoter asks if you mind. 

You do mind, because 10 p.m. is creeping up fast. You have an hour-long drive home, and a couple interviews to do tomorrow. The crowd has dwindled to about 30 diehards and their reluctant boyfriends or girlfriends drafted to film or record so-and-so's set for posterity. What started as a gig, at least theoretically, has wound down into...the never-ending mini-fest. Or never-ending open mike.

"C'mon," you plead, gesturing at the sea of empty tables. "I've got stuff going on tomorrow." You gesture again. "This is painful. Why don't we just call it a night?"

Nothing doing. The promoter claims he that promised to provide everybody some sort of adequate sound, so your mic is Plan A, B and C. You slump into a chair as far from the stage as possible, as the minute hand drags toward 11:00 p.m., and then....midnight, and finally...1:00 a.m. 

Only a dozen diehards are left. You finally get the high sign to pack and leave, gritting your teeth through the usual after show BS ("Yeah, I really enjoyed myself tonight. Sure, I'll come back any time."). At least you won't have to beat the traffic, right? That's a positive, though it's the only one, after tonight's train wreck.

On the ride home, your mind flashes back to a similar experience. This one happened about five years before tonight, at a legendary venue in downtown Ann Arbor. It's a reliable schedule filler for alternative folk/rock legends like Alejandro Escovedo. So it's definitely got the Cool Factor going....if you can crack the usual gatekeeping stuff.

At the time, you lived 90 minutes south of Ann Arbor, so heading there didn't seem like a stretch. Maybe you could make a semi-regular gig of it, depending on your work schedule -- but there's a catch, as you and your small circle of musician friends find out, after you arrive.

A few questions are all it takes to fan the dismay. Yes, the host confirms, we're technically open at 6 p.m.. But open mike doesn't start till 8 p.m(There's usually a "but" in the music business.) You guys will have to wait for signup until then. The giant double doors shut with a thud, leaving you all sprawled across the giant staircase and its imposing steps.

Time grinds slowly enough at work. Now this scenario, once you've exhausted the standard topics (what shows have you caught, what are you listening to, just why are we sitting here again?), the minute hand creeps toward its usual soggy conclusion.

At last, the appointed hour arrives, the doors wheeze open, and the jockeying begins for the best time slot -- a forgone conclusion, though, now that the regulars have arrived. They flash a knowing look: don't you know this setup works? Poor, poor pitiful you.

You end up playing between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m.-ish. You're tired and stiff, and once again, the usual hustles make themselves felt. The room feels smaller and smaller, as the favored regulars do their 15-minute bit and leave, taking (yet again) their mini-entourages with them.

Though your set got a decent response, it doesn't feel like a victory lap. That 90-minute drive home still beckons, followed by another workday at 10:00 a.m. As work schedules go, that's a civilized starting time (one of the few perks of working at a small town paper). The only problem still have to act bright and cheery, after a late late night.

You kid yourself a little bit on the way home. Maybe it wasn't a typical night. Maybe they weren't prepared for so many performers. Maybe they new to the game. Maybe maybe maybe...indeed.

A couple months later, you're back for more, this time without your friends. Once again, you spend two hours camped out on the stairs. Once again, you don't go on till 10:30 or 11 p.m. Once again, the room slowly empties out. You now draw a new conclusion: man, I can't do this. I gotta make a living, and if they're gonna pull this kind of stunt, I should find somebody who does this to me at home.

So goes the never-ending open mic: a never-ending bad joke searching for a punchline to give it a home. Only it never arrives. Take heed, and proceed accordingly. --The Reckoner

Links To Go (Hurry, Hurry,
Before The Room Empties Out):

Katie Ferrara
10 Types Of Open Mics You Will Encounter:

Why You Should Probably Avoid Open Mics:


Monday, December 31, 2018

Punk Rock Art Photos: "Whose Shoes, Exactly?"

<Take I>

<Take II>

<Take III>

<Take IV>

<Take V>

<Take VI>

As soon as I spotted them, I had to take the picture. Simple as that. Just imagine the scene that greets you: it's Christmas Eve.

You're driving around town scurrying to get those last-minute mindless errands done, before the sidewalks roll up for good, and you're left to await December 26th...when it's back to the regular crap for 95%-plus of the populace.

You pull into the Family Dollar parking lot, and your eyes flit to the outer edges. There it is, a pair of shoes, seemingly arranged in some surreal image to the Rapture, that oft-cited, yet apocalyptic, eternal game which the deserving float upstairs to Heaven, minus the obvious sign or two of their former Earthly presence.

In other words, here's an art photo opportunity that's too good to pass up, right? But there's a hitch: you don't have your camera, which means you'll have to run home, and grab it, now that your errands are complete. Sure, that means running back out again. But those are the breaks, right? Wait too long, and somebody will toss those shoes into the dustbin.

So that's what I did. I ran home to grab our camera, prompting The Squawker to wonder: "Just why are you taking a picture of somebody's shoes, exactly?"

"I can't spend a lot of time explaining it," I responded. "Trust me, when you see the photos, you'll know why I snapped it."

About 20 minutes later, I came back, and showed my resulting efforts to Squawker, who got it, right away.

Darkness was closing in fast, since I'd spotted the shoes at around 5:30 p.m.. Fortunately, the parking lot ls right next door to McDonald's, which meant I could use one of their lights to enhance my work.

So what happened here, once we've ruled out the supernatural aspect? Had somebody just bought a new pair, and didn't feel like taking those old clogs to the trash can? Did they have enough of their current here and now, and opt to leave their shoes -- their past, essentially -- behind? Or did that someone stumble out of their car, drunk and disorderly, shedding those shoes without a care about tomorrow, waiting for their ride to show up? 

Whose shoes, exactly? You choose. You decide. --The Reckoner

Monday, December 24, 2018

Outsider Art Gallery #2: 2 x 2 (The Reckoner): "Cityscape: Interrupted"/"Let Me Be Who I Am"

2 X 2 / The Reckoner

"Cityscape: Interrupted"
<The Reckoner>

As artistic mottos go, "First thought, best thought" ranks near the top of my personal favorites. Not just for the obvious reason, either -- sure, working off the cuff is a terrific skill to cultivate, since you won't the luxury of a second thought in most life situations. "Fake it to make it" is an equally inspired motto, but if everyone tried to plot that ideal'd never seen too many fakers, let alone makers.

The best reason to go with your first take, or first thought, boils down to energy. The longer you beat an idea to death, the more tired you feel, and the less inspired you get. Honestly, unless your creative antenna's highly attuned, the more likely you'll stray from what made that first thought so good in the first place. That's my take on it, anyway.

Which is how I wound up with these two pastel artworks and the following journal entry below. I did both as part of a Saturday afternoon art journaling session, built around the following idea: "This practice is about developing that muscle of mindfulness. Research shows that spending two hours every week in a creative process will reap mental health benefits." I'll go with that one!

So I duly spent an hour putting my free associative powers to work, followed by a half hour of writing about the works I'd just created. Though I no longer live in an urban area, I can't seem to stop drawing those types of landscapes, which is how "Cityscape <Interrupted>" emerged. "Let Be Who I Am" nods directly to a line from the MC5's "Kick Out The Jams," in which I imagined how one of their full-throated shows might look like, once they'd finished.

Funnily enough, the latter work coincides with the original band's last major milestone. Forty-six years ago this, week, the MC5 took its last bow on New Year's Eve, 1972, at the Grande Ballroom, the scene of their initial success -- where their epochal debut album, Kick Out The Jams, had been recorded, among other early triumphs.

This time around, the thrill had evaporated in a haze of broken corporate promises, missed opportunities, and substance abuse. Instead of thrilling a sold out house of 1,000-plus fans, the band would collect a mere $500 for entertaining a few dozen diehard fans. The situation left lead guitarist Wayne Kramer feeling so distraught, that he left halfway through the gig.

The night marked the last one for the  MC5 and the Grande, which both disbanded after the dust had settled. Dreams of subverting the world through the power of rock 'n' roll had taken a back seat to the grim existence of the journeyman, unsung and unmissed, left to toil in the shadows.

That's where matters would rest, until 1992, when the first of several resurrections ignited ... but that's another story, for another time. My impressions about these artworks, and the emotions they conjured up, follow below. 

<"Let Me Be Who I Am">

TIRED, TIRED, TIRED -- spent loads of time massaging my keyboard, tap-tap-tapping away on the old transcript circuit, so I can make those figures go round and round a bit more. It's the old in-out, in-out of money, isn't it, that they've got us all dancing to, the powers that be, so we don't get round to doing anything else, making no other mark in particular...but it's either that,

I guess, or resign myself to the grind of this part-time job, 'n' that part-time job, patched together like so many crazy quilt fragments of time, sweat 'n' tears, another piece of your energy pushed out the door, dribbled one corpo-suggestion at a time ("Did you find everything today?", they're supposed to say, even as you hold one particular blue bag of potato chips in your hand).

Anyway...all jokes apart, all that aside...lots of mini-mountains to move, lots of individual hills to climb, campaigns to mount, and schemes to launch.

That's what it's all about, for me, anyway, the energy of confederation, the rhythm of subversion: how do we set the world alight this week, exactly? These are the thoughts that have run riot in my mind, over the past week and a half, as I struggled with back pain, muscle pain, gout pain, all brought on by a cold and/or flu, seemingly imported from the ninth or tenth circle of Hell.

The Squawker curled up, sick, too, which made equally bad. But now that I'm over it, I hope Squawker gets across the finish line, too, in short order. We have so many different orders of business to discuss, so many projects to launch, even if our energy only allows us the luxury of rolling out one at a time.

But we will get three, I think. This is what it's all about, and how it's done. --The Reckoner <12-15-18, circa 145-245 PM>