Archive for October, 2009

October 28th, 2009

Rickie Lee Jones: New album / streaming live Thursday night / Carnegie Hall in December

Posted in Music by ed

Rickie Lee Jones is currently playing up and down the east coast, then is off to Europe.

A Connecticut show tomorrow — Thursday Oct 29 — will be streamed at 8pm Eastern at


Her new album — BALM in GILEAD — was completed this past summer and is now available at discount on Great Big Island.

And December 7 — she’s at Carnegie Hall!

She was there years ago — around the time of POP POP! — and was it sweet and swell.

October 28th, 2009


Posted in Goodbye to All That, Money, Music by ed


Perhaps the best tickets I ever scored on the fly outside the gate were at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, an amphitheater, for Rickie Lee Jones in 1991, near the end of the summer’s FLYING COWBOYS tour.

Third row. Most memorable was an exquisitely theatrical “Something Cool.” June Christy’s signature tune. The sad song of Blanche DuBois.

Days later, a similar score in San Diego. And then, the tour closer, in Santa Barbara — where I danced in the grass before the stage with the Celestial herself during “Ghetto of My Mind.”

Earlier on, closer to home, I once got into Madison Square Garden for Springsteen without a ticket of any sort, by paying a brazen snappy fellow, reminiscent of Michael Parks in Then Came Bronson, whom I — and four others — simply followed past an elderly black ticket-taker, a distinguished looking gent with grizzled lambchops, who granted entry to each Vandal with a sober nod, summing, I imagine, his piece of the action.

Dem was the daze.

But dose days are gone.

This past Sunday, this veteran of Gotham — and a visiting friend, under his aegis — walking south for John Hammond and The Blind Boys of Alabama at City Winery in the Village, were taken for fools and parted from their money by a pair of slicky boys hocking bogus Van Morrison tickets on 33rd and Seventh.

Marx warned us about technology. Advances in home printing have brought us to the pass where none but a box-office expert may now distinguish false ducats and the real thing.

But surely, you wonder, would even the most credulous of chowderheads not have balked at the $300 face?

Well … That’s what the high-ends were going for at the Box. Van is cashing in his chips with this Astral Weeks extravaganza. And this wasn’t the Garden’s basketball arena, but the former Felt Forum, a sideshow theater with about seventeen hundred seats.

Even so, you may wonder if something less than a perfect putz might have at least nosed a whiff of suspicion when the sellers agreed to $80 per.

Well … The thought was that showtime was ten minutes off and the boys were happy, at that point, to dump at any price, eighty bucks being better than zero by multiples indeterminate.

Imagine my humiliation …

An insult all the more peccant and piquant when perceived piling on my unemployed back.

With a friend on my arm.

Under my aegis.

Her first time in New York for anything more than business affairs.

Oh it burns. It burns. The city’s red face, and my red ass.

The fish rots from the head. Bear Stearns and Lehman. AIG and Goldman Sachs. Bernie Madoff and …

And now one can’t trust the local scalpers.

I imagine, indeed, they no longer exist — the honest brokers, I mean. For the falsifiers have burst the bonds of trust and surely none but a ditzy dunderheaded diptstick would dare, henceforth, to buy tickets off the street.

Dem daze indeed are done.

Whither hence, my friends?

Theyre selling postcards of the hanging
Theyre painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
Theyve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad theyre restless
They need somewhere to go
As lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row …

October 26th, 2009

Armies destroy everything,
build nothing, neither communities nor nations

The USA: No longer a country for man, woman or beast.

October 26th, 2009

Senator Reid on the Senate bill

Posted in These United States by ed

Pretty amazing that Senator Harry Reid, who reminds me of Wally Cox, has been the leader here, as Obama tries to avoid as much flack as possible.

Michael Moore.

October 21st, 2009

Iranian nuke talks seem successful

Posted in Mideast & Oil by ed

But still have to be approved in Tehran.,0,2676789.story

October 20th, 2009

The Generals are Growling

A fortiori, I don’t think the Four Days in September were without significance:

A feature piece in the Times this morning airs the growling of anonymous generals about the President “pulling out the rug” from beneath them in Afghanistan, and moving to cut their budget. The nerve …

“The thunderstorm is there and it’s kind of brewing and it’s unstable and the lightning hasn’t struck, and hopefully it won’t,” said Nathaniel C. Fick, a former Marine Corps infantry officer who briefed Mr. Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and is now the chief executive of the Center for a New American Security, a military research institution in Washington. “I think it can probably be contained and avoided, but people are aware of the volatile brew.”


October 19th, 2009

Geography of Lost Jobs & Homes

Posted in Money, New York City by ed


A map of jobs lost and gained.

A political pattern?

And here’s a map of foreclosure rates.

The two maps don’t synch as much as one might think. The wave of unemployment foreclosures, if coming, is not yet reflected in the one.

October 18th, 2009

Pakis attack in Waziristan –
Suicide bomber attack in Iran

The horrendous suicide bomb attack today on Iranian soil and top military leaders, apparently by native unhappy Baluchi campers, is very dangerous for Team Obama and the world.

Tehran has immediately accused Washington and the Brits of being behind the attack.

A bit odd, to do so so quickly, and given that the nuke talks are about to get underway.

Might the Iranians have clear intelligence about US/Brit support of the Jundallah group that’s claiming responsibility?

In any case, if Tehran’s claims are serious, then the worries I had a year ago here — of Obama getting led by the nose into something he doesn’t see and can’t control — on the model of JFK at the Bay of Pigs …

Those worries become relevant — even if, as one hopes, the western so-called intelligence apparats, including Israel’s, had nothing to do with today’s attack.

The Pakis, of course, invaded South Waziristan in force last week, in reaction to the bombing of the Paki Army HQ outside Islamabad the week before.

South Waziristan is just north of Baluchistan, all within Pakistan’s borders. And it’s apparently Baluchi separatists in Iran behind today’s attack.

So — just a thought — PERHAPS the Paki invasion of Waziristan has led unhappy campers there or just south to undertake this attack in Iran as a way to invite Iran into the mess and thus make things more difficult for Islamabad?

Just a thought, based on nothing yet n the news. There was something suspicious in Islamabad’s reaction to the bomb of its army HQ last week, as noted here: the immediate statement by Islamabad that an invasion of Waziristan was now called for. We may be looking at a chain of events much more tightly knit, re causality, than the news we read is able to convey.

October 18th, 2009

McChrystal wins?
Kerry changes tune, OKs escalation?

ED NOTE: See comments below to continue following this disaster into 2010, where, in June, McChrystal shoots off his mouth and loses his head.

Well, it seems Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup was on target:

John Kerry — who has been Obama’s stalking canary (?) for weeks, loudly making the argument for no more troops — today told the Sunday talk shows that another 40,000 is maybe okay if yadda yadda yadda …

There is nothing to win over there. The LBJ precedent looms.

October 17th, 2009

Health Care Reform –
Saturday at the Races:
Obama blasts Insurers
Reply to NY Times’ Chas Blow

Posted in President Obama by ed

Ed in a Nutshell: The essence of the Donkey strategy is this: The regulatory scheme passed now will make the health insurance business unprofitable, opening up, in time, a natural space for a public plan. As in Florida, re house insurance, post hurricanes.

A busy, bustlilng Saturday for health reform stuff:

To begin: A pretty strong attack by the Prez on the corporate insurers:

Well, I say bravo. Bravo.

But Charles Blow complained of Obama’s backpedaling and sloth today in the NY Times.

I wrote him this reply:

1. It seems to me the waiting (for Obama) is about over.

The health care bill will be signed probably before New Year’s, but if not, before Easter.

And the Rubicon decision re whether to continue escalating in Pakghanistan will be public before Halloween, it seems.

2. As for substance:

A. It’s almost impossible to exaggerate how hard it is, especially for an ingenue (which is what we elected and why in part we did), to tell the National Security Apparat that they can’t have a war that they’ve already waded into and badly want.

A president knows mostly what the Briefers of the Apparat choose to tell him. To reject their advice takes a lot of moxy, nerve and, unfortunately, experience. This is only one reason the Apparat is the strongest institution in Washington.

B. As for health insurance:

(i) The Public Option was declared dead the day after the Prez gave his speech re HC in September. All the loyal donkey pundits said so.

But the PO seems to be reduxing as the congressional processes wind on. The PriceCoopers report that the insurers tried to hit the Senate on the head with last week seems to have backfired — kicking sleeping dogs, as it were, who now may bite.

(ii) But the mainstream Donkey strategy is still, I believe:

– to regulate the corporate insurers down to grocery-store level profit margins, across say five years

– at which point they will bail out, as the house insurers did in Florida after the horrendous 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons

– at which point a public plan will naturally take their place, as the state-run Citizens insurance program now provides affordable house insurance in Florida where no one else will.

If this is indeed the strategy — as the structure of Obama’s Sept speech and Bill Clinton soon after on the Daily Show each suggested — then … I’m not sure the sluggish White House approach has been inapt.

It IS frustrating to watch. But that’s a Peanut Gallery problem. I’m not yet sure it’s an Inner Circle problem.


October 16th, 2009

Finally done:
A Good Day in Hell

Posted in Death, Movies, Writing by ed


I began this darn script on August 18, 2006. Day 22 !!!

Tonight, after many developments, drafts, distractions, derailments and deaths, including baby steps toward a low-budget production and Wall Street blowing its brains out …

Tonight it seems perfected: properly abandoned.

On Day 1,184. Good dog almighty …

The prior six scripts received no more than four months of attention. But this, the trouble and time of a novel.

A toast is in order. Let’s see …

Well, modest — but tasty: the superbly bitter Rye Pale Ale that Michelob has put out to compete with all the artsy crafty beers.

Tomorrow back to business.

And, in the evening, perhaps, a bit of wild Decompression.

October 16th, 2009

Great documentary:
The New American Century

MUST WATCH, unfortunately …




9/11, the unwarranted influence of the military-industrial complex, and what 50 years of same has done to American society.

Here’s Part One at youtube.

The other nine are there too. About 100 minutes total.

Can buy a copy here.

The producers include Wim Wenders — a fave.

Most of what the film has to say is familiar. But the last two parts (on youtube) have revived basic despair about not only our owner-operator class but the young soldiers, who seem as alien and rabid as the teen zealots of 1917 did to so many Russians.

It’s only a few baby steps from shooting civilians for fun in Iraq to the same in American cities. I guess we will see this sooner than later, perhaps even before election day 2016 if Romney beats Obama in 2012.

And of course I don’t mean to imply that it’s okay in Iraq. It’s so NOT okay that … words elude.

And thoughts of leaving the country intrude.

I mean only to gauge the degradation of our people — our enemy met that is us — raised on video games and patriotic television. We mirror the owner-operators with gruesome fidelity.

And have deprived ourselves of sound basis for complaint should one day a city of our own go up in smoke.


October 15th, 2009

Obama at the Rubicon
in Pakghanistan

Paul Street complained in well informed style about the Peace Prize and Obama’s war-making trail so far.


Nevertheless, he did say Woah on a Sunday talk show a few weeks ago, triggering the current Pakghanistan policy debate — and outing McChrystal.

My blog the past 11 months is full of disapppointed rants re the people Obama kept on or hired atop the Nat’l Security Apparat, including a post headlined (like yours) with Orwell’s name after the surreal scene in Strasbourg.

But to think Obama had much of a choice about, e.g., Stanley Mac’s appointment is perhaps to overestimate a callow president’s power to reject the truths and advice of the Briefers of the Apparat.

His chief failing, it seems to me, is that of an ingenue, not a Kissinger; and those of us who elected the ingenue bear some responsibility.

During the campaign I thought Hillary was the better choice to feed into this sausage grinder. She was ready for battle and knows how to take a bullet. Obama seemed better suited as her successor.

But one goes to peace with the President one has. The policy at this moment is in the air, and for the first time since Gates-Mullen picked up the pieces post Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz. If Obama fails to make this opportunity a turning point, I’ll jump on the bandwagon damning him simply.

But I’m hoping he manages to execute a change in rough accord with the Cairo speech that will mark the end of the beginning of his foreign policy odyssey.

October 15th, 2009

The New Jeremiah:
Alan Greenspan says
Break up the big banks

Posted in Money, President Obama by ed


– the news since June re big banks buying Treasuries with their governmental loans and new capital — instead of lending into the economy, and

– now (this week and next) the quarterly results of the big financials,

it became clear that Bill Seidman’s Zombie diagnosis of the winter was correct.

And today (!) we find Alan Greenspan reiterating the prognosis.

Off with their heads!

October 15th, 2009

Reformed wingnut forecasts domestic terrorism from Christian Right

Must read, unfortunately.

Frank Schaeffer was the son of a famous right-wing Christian preacher-activivist. Became one himself. But then saw the light and went Left.

His simple scorn for the movement is bracing.

But his certainty as to its essential violence — that violence itself, born of long resentment within a civilization that passed it by, is its aim — is ominous.

There has been good solid journalism about this threat throughout the decade, of course. This is a quick, sharp reminder.

And when one considers the black boy who was beaten to death in Chicago weeks ago — that horror that seems to have largely escaped notice …

One realizes how difficult the tightrope this President must walk shall be.

October 14th, 2009

Let the belly have lunch

Posted in Writing by ed

Hate eating dinner because it makes me sleepy, making it hard to make the day Count.

Let the belly have lunch, the night is mine!

October 13th, 2009

China and Russia closing deals

Today’s pictures say alot about the success of the Shanghai Coooperation Organization in policing its bounds and pushing back expansionist American policy since 2000.



China and Russia ink trade agreements and agree re natural gas.



Russia resists Hillary push for new sanctions against Iran — the latter which sends a ton of oil to China.


October 13th, 2009

Health Care battle, post Baucus,
approaches climax

Ed Note: See comments below to follow events post Baucus Bill as the legistature turns to reconciling its five drafts. And who will bell the 800 pound gorilla?

The only question re the mediocre Baucus Bill was whether Olympia Snowe, the Republican from Maine, would vote yes. She did.

Interesting tidbits from the pre-vote chat:

– The Dems are mad as hatters at the insurance companies re the report they put out over the weekend defaming (donkeys say) the reform effort. Perhaps sleeping dogs have been kicked and will bite. Ie perhaps positive, heading for the floor.

– Hatch, the arch GOPher of Mormonland, says the Baucus Bill will not even be the one that is voted on the Senate floor. Says the REAL bill is being written behind closed doors.

Interesting indeed. Does that mean the real, final Senate bill — which must deal in some fashion with the draft coming from Ted Kennedy’s old committee — will lean more leftward and include a public plan? But Snowe by voting yes has likely roped the Donkeys in about the center.

– Jay Rockefeller of West Virgina, whom I admire: “The misleading and to me harmful claims made over the weekend by the profit driven health insurance companies are politicking for corporate gain at its worst.

October 12th, 2009

Radovan Karadzic on trial

Ed Note: See comments across time to follow the progress.

Radovan Karadzic, political leader of the Bosnian Serbs in the early 90s, will go on trial next week.

A Guardian piece looks forward to that — and back to Srebrenica. Very much worth reading.

See here for a primer on War Crime law, such as it is.

And see here for a reminder of what all the shooting was about.


October 10th, 2009

Times says health care reform is DOA via Death of a Hundred Cuts

Zheesh. The Times piece. For files.

And here’s Bill Moyers, re Caution, Lobbyists at Work: