Sunday, April 30, 2006

Everybody STILL Loves Pezz!

What can i say? I may be a little biased here, but I think Pezz stole the show.

As good as While I Breathe, I Hope played I can honestly say that it looks to me like the crowd thinned out once Pezz left the stage. Not a lot, mind you--- The difference may well have been that there were a lot of old bastards like me out there that showed up specifically to see Pezz.

Punk rock has traditionally not been my thing. But I really enjoyed Pezz's set. One of the greatest moments was when I looked up and saw a crowd gathered in front of Marvin's microphone stand. It's been years since these guys have played out, and they had a loyal fan following that still knew all the words to their songs. What better could you hope for in a reunion show? There are bands with platinum albums that should hope for that.

In addition to Marvin, I finally got to meet the other guitarist/ vocalist in the band, Ceylon Mooney. I had heard a great deal about Ceylon from Marvin, and he was everything I expected. He's a peace activist that has taken three trips to Iraq since the war ended, and one trip into the Palestinian territories.

Fletch Joyner opened the show, and he was quite impressive. He's very young, and I think his music could best be described as "punk unplugged". He has a unique sound all his own, although I suspect that fans of Bright Eyes and Death Cab For Cutie may like him. He also showed refreshing social awareness by promoting a demonstration at Crichton College last night designed to pressure our government into pressuring the Congolese government to do something about the child soldiers of that nation. I hope to hear more about that in the near future.

I didn't really get to listen to Silent Parade. The little of their set that I heard sounded quite promising, though.

While I Breathe, I Hope has a very interesting sound. They're a three guitar band, so the sound is a bit thicker than you're accustomed to hearing out of a punk band. Maybe this is my limited experience with punk rock showing through, but when I think of punk, I think of the looseness of the Sex Pistols. The Sex Pistols may or may not have all started their song at the same tempo during a live show, but they rarely ended on the same tempo. None of that with WIBIH--- They're a very tight six-piece outfit. Their singer is very charismatic and was fully in control of a crowd that hung on his every word.

Lest you think the Pezz reunion is simply a nostagia thing, let me tell you this. I bumped into a young girl from my church at the show last night who hadn't heard of Pezz before. But she became a fan last night.

They've got one more show at the Skate Park this weekend. Whether or not there will be any in the future, I would imagine. depends on the response to these shows.

Last night was a hell of a start.

Burn of the Week- 4/30/06

How can you top this?

"I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq." - Stephen Colbert, White House Correspondents' Dinner

Runnerup: Also Colbert, showing above how White House Press Secretaries deal with tough questions.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Got Irony?

What else can you say about an anti-drug video that features Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Lyle Alzado?

Well, it's a project undertaken by the Reagan White House.

All that's missing is Rush Limbaugh.

Check out the special moment near the end where Nancy lip synchs.


Last Weekend for Canvassing!

... And what a lovely day for canvassing it is!

Reginald Fentress
10 AM Saturday
In front of Home Depot @ 1627 Poplar

And here is information on canvassing for Steve Mulroy supplied by our very dear friend, West Tennessee Liberal:
If you want to be part of taking back the County Commission then why not hop on over to 755 South Graham with me Saturday at 10 or Sunday at 1 for the last weekend push for Steve Mulroy?

Book Him, Danno!

And the "Couldn't Have Happened To a Nicer Guy" Award goes to Rush Limbaugh (Seen here in his booking photo from yesterday)!

When Darryl Strawberry was crying, begging the court to help him tackle a drug problem that was stronger than he was, this is the prick that was making fun of him for it.

I'm all for creative sentecing, so here's my recommendation.

Limbaugh wants drugs so bad? Let him have them. We can make him part of an FDA program to experiment with new ones. If it doesn't kill Rush, it gets approved.

In all reality, I wish the best to anyone who's attempting to tackle a serious drug problem. I hope he beats it.

But I also hope the prick remembers this struggle the next time he has the chance to take a cheap shot at someone who's facing struggles of their own.

Friday, April 28, 2006

From Bad to Worse in Darfur

Not too long ago, a young mother put down the child that suckled at her breast and stood in the path of an onslaught that tore her village asunder.

The blood soaked into the dirt roads of Darfur as the Janjawid swept through. They killed every man and child that they came across and raped every woman.

The “lucky” ones (And as you’ll see, the word “lucky” can be defined quite subjectively) escaped and crossed the border into Chad. The others swelter and decay in the desert heat. A trip through the Darfur region must look more than a little like a walk through the ruins of Pompeii, the twisted, mangled bodies lying where they fell.

It’s easy to write it off as racially motivated violence, for that element is certainly there. The Janjawid are Arab, proxies of the barely existent government in Khartoum. Their victims are black.

But as in so many war zones around the globe, the real reason for the slaughter lies beneath the surface, for the farms of Darfur sit atop oil fields.

Usually, when there’s a drop of oil in the ground, we’re in a hurry to step in. Things are, of course, complicated by our heavy deployment into Iraq for the Great WMD Snipe Hunt.

But there’s another consideration. Apparently, Sudan throws us a bone from time to time on al Qaeda. We’ve got a history of looking the other way in exchange for information of al Qaeda. If you doubt that, I would suggest a quick trip to Uzbekistan to talk to the families of the people that their president, Islam Karimov, ordered to be boiled alive.

If you’re wondering just what information the Sudanese can be giving us about an organization that left their shores almost a decade ago that can be worth overlooking a massacre on this scale, you’re not the only one. Every so often, a Bush administration official (Perhaps not coincidentally, usually the African-American ones) will take the world stage, wag a finger, and say “Stop it or we’ll spank you.” But the Sudanese government pretends that they’re not sponsoring the Janjawid (And never really coming up with a plausible explanation as to exactly who was supplying the Janjawid with helicopter gunships and Antonov fighter planes).

So what about the refugees from Darfur? I saw some video from inside the refugee camp not too long ago. There are supplies, but never nearly enough. So another young mother had fashioned a piece of animal hide into a makeshift vessel. From sunup to sundown, she walked back and forth from the squalor of the refugee camp to a body of water so rancid that Americans wouldn’t even urinate in it. It wasn’t exactly watertight, so by the time she made it back to her young children, there was never more than a mouthful left. But that tiny amount of water was all that stood between her children and an agonizing death, so she made the trip all day, every day.

I’ll never forget the face of her youngest child. Malnutrition has a way of obscuring a child’s age, so it could have been anywhere from two to four years old. I’m not certain whether it was a boy or a girl. They all look the same when malnutrition is making their hair fall out. He or she was crying, but was far too dehydrated to generate real tears. His eyes, almost hollow sockets, were surrounded by a thick, oozing mucus. Medical expertise is not required to know that child was not long for this earth.

As bad as things were then, they just got worse today. I was quite sad to see that the UN has announced they are cutting aid to the refugees of Darfur. They’re citing “donor fatigue”.

I’m quite fatigued by it as well. I have this feeling that if the victims of this genocide were one shade closer to the skin tone of the ruling class of this nation, we already would have swept into town and displaced the Sudanese government.

Let’s not pretend this one is far beyond us. Foreign Policy Magazine just issued their 2006 Failed States Index, and Sudan is number one. Foreign policy wonks, let’s put this in perspective--- They ranked the Sudanese government as being less stable than Iraq’s, where there is an open civil war. If we simply imposed sanctions on them and cut off the money supply for a very short time, the Sudanese government would crumble into the same dust as their Darfuri victims.

But that’s simply not good enough. Drop a dozen National Guardsmen into Darfur, and there will never be another shot fired. The Sudanese simply cannot risk open warfare against us. They don’t mind bumping up against Chad--- The Janjawid have crossed the border and attacked the refugee camps several times. But they will not risk warfare with us.

We’ve gone to war for some pretty weak reasons. Nonexistent WMDs, a hearty game of Saddam Whack-a-Mole, a fictional attack in the Gulf of Tonkin… But this is worthwhile. Darfuri bodies are still hitting the dirt at an alarming rate, and the government in Khartoum is still not fooling anyone when they feign innocence.

And this is a situation where we can genuinely make a difference. If we can muster the will, that is.

Sometime soon, yet another young mother in Darfur will put down the child that suckles at her breast and stand in the path of an onslaught that is tearing her village asunder.

When that happens, I would like for the United States military to have her back. Because her life is worth something too.

Because Everybody Loves Pezz!

No, not the candy...

A very good friend of mine named Marvin Stockwell played in a band called Pezz that released several damn good punk CDs in years past. Their other guitarist is a peace activist that has been to Iraq three times and the Palestinian Territories once.

Well, they're reuniting for a show this Saturday night at The Rally Point at 616 Highland.

The event is a CD release party for While I Breathe I Hope. The show supposedly starts at 8 PM (Has anyone ever been to a rock & roll show that started on time? But don't be TOO late--- It's not like these guys have Axl Rose singing).

The show will be opened by Silent Parade and Fletch Joyner, with PEZZ going on before the headliners.

The $7 cover charge gets you a full length CD of the new release by While I Breathe I Hope, Long Live the King.

Click here to go to Pezz's Myspace page and listen to audio samples or here to sample While I Breathe I Hope.

This is the first of Pezz's two scheduled reunion shows. Let's hope they book even more.


Marvin just emailed me with the details for the second of the two Pezz reunion shows.

Skatepark of Memphis
7740 Trinity Road #118
Cordova, TN
Sat 5/6/06 7pm $8

U of M College Democrats Fundraiser

I just wanted to help publicize this a little bit. I worked with John Marek in 2004 on the Kerry Campaign, and he's doing a great job with the U of College Dems.

I'm not 100% sure that I'll be able to attend, as I have other plans. But I'm going to try to be there before it ends.

Pembroke Square Rooftop130 S. Front Street, Memphis, TN View Map
Saturday, April 29, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
(901) 239-0021
Suggested Contribution: $30Students $10The University of Memphis College Democrats invites you to join us in our first kick-off fundraising event of 2006. Democrats are within strinking distance of wining at local, state and national levels, so "Cross into the Blue" with us this evening and celebrate with the people that will make this possible.We look forward to seeing you!**** PLEASE NOTE THAT EVEN IF IT RAINS, THIS EVENT WILL BE HELD AT THE SAME PLACE, BUT INSIDE THE ROOFTOP PARTY ROOM. DON'T LET THE WEATHER KEEP YOU FROM ATTENDING THIS CELEBRATION!!!****

The Literary Offenses of Wendi Thomas

All due apologies to Mark Twain for swiping his title there, but had he lived long enough to see Wendi Thomas's daily assaults on the English language, he would have decided that James Fenimore Cooper was at the very least fair to middling.

I've never seen anything like her. She can take something I care about and leave me feeling about as indifferent as a reader could conceivably feel without actually falling asleep. Her phrasing is, at best, Dubya-esque. And more often than not, if I get bored enough to read a column of hers, I usually end up wondering how someone this witless could be allowed to leave the house unsupervised.

I don't know quite how she managed it. Perhaps she had pictures of the editor with a transvestite hooker or maybe Jeff Gannon, but she managed to get a job as a columnist for the Commercial Appeal.

Just last month, she announced that she was taking a job with the Baltimore Sun. I wondered several times WTF the Sun's editorial staff was thinking, but I didn't look a gift horse in the mouth. I figured we could run fifty-year-old "'Lil Abner" strips and get just as strong a handle on current events as she could give us.

Imagine my surprise when the replacement for Wendi Thomas turns out to be... Wendi Thomas.

I was hoping it was a cruel prank. Local newscasters aren't exactly known for their senses of humor, but I was still holding out in hope that it was a sick joke.

Then I heard her doing a phone-in interview with Leon Gray. It made me loathe her even more when she said that she saved the CA's editors the trouble of "looking for the next Wendi Thomas".

I think the search for "the next Wendi Thomas" should continue. So I've compiled a short list of writers with the same kind of skill level as the original Wendi Thomas.

  • My five-year-old nephew Matt. At the ripe old age of two, he sat at my computer as I was talking to a friend on instant messenger. Imagine my pride as he typed something to the effect of ";kijdhfglf aslfidlagflasfdjbv". It boggles the mind when I think of how much he might have improved over the last three years. He might actually be overqualified by now.
  • Tom Wolfe. I know he traditionally writes fiction, but after reading this sex scene from his latest novel, I would put his skill level on Ms. Thomas's: ""Hoyt began moving his lips as if he were trying to suck the ice cream off the top of a cone without using his teeth ... Slither slither slither slither went the tongue, but the hand that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological caverns ... " - I Am Charlotte Simmons
  • Lawrence O'Donnell. It takes an unprecedented level of bad writing to take the characters that were created by Aaron Sorkin for The West Wing and write them so badly that no one raises an eyebrow when the show is cancelled.
  • Who's writing that new sitcom Teachers?

In short, Wendi, the next time you're gone, stay gone. For the sake of the newspaper and for the sake of the language that you assault daily even though it's done nothing to you.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Confessions of a Former Dittohead

Several weeks back, I had the honor of meeting a young author at a Drinking Liberally event. Jim Derych had been writing a blog called Confessions of a Former Dittohead, and Ig Publishing talked to him about making it into a book.

It's in bookstores now, and he'll be signing copies of it at Davis-Kidd bookseller starting at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, May 2. So go down and meet him AFTER YOU VOTE.


If you can't make it down there, you can order a copy of it here.

Local Roundup

My impressions of a few of the candidates running in local races.

First and foremost, Reginald Fentress is the real deal in the District 2, Position 2 race. I make no secret of my association with him--- Nor would I. I'm quite proud of it, actually. Getting to know him and his beautiful family has been wonderful. If everyone knew a fraction of what I know about this man, the returns for Melvin Burgess and Henri Brooks would indicate that not even their entire immediate families voted for them.

Steve Mulroy--- What a guy. He's smart. He's capable. He used to work for the Justice Department. His opponent should be investigated by the Justice Department. Honestly, I had a tougher time deciding what the hell to have for lunch today. And to tell you what an easy choice that was, I haven't grocery shopped in a couple of days, so all I had in the kitchen were protein shakes.

Deidre Malone. She's running unopposed, so enjoy a well-deserved rest until the general election!

Sidney Chism. Please, please, please--- If you live in District 3, vote for CLEO KIRK. I know he's not eligible to hold the office again, but you know what? After seeing the leadership that Chism brought to the Democratic Party, I can honestly say that District 3 would be better represented by a piece of unattended furniture than Sidney Chism. If Kirk wins, the choice goes to the Shelby County Democratic Party, which sadly means that it could well be Chism anyway. Lord knows the party's been duped into serving his purposes enough. But make him sweat. Please. I beg of you.

The Flip Flopping "Decider"

"Of course, I listen to our generals. That's what a president does. " - George W. Bush, Second Presidential Debate 2004

"I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense." - George W. Bush April 17, explaining why he's ignoring the advice of no less than six generals.

FEMA Gone? How Would We Notice the Difference?

A few weeks back, I took a friend out to dinner at a local steakhouse that will remain nameless. Forty minutes after placing our order, the waitress came over and said "How's everything going here?"

I said "I feel like I'm on the FEMA diet plan. I asked for food, but no one's bringing it."

When Hurricane Andrew hit Florida, King George the Elected sent the FEMA staff there. Of course, the FEMA staff at the time consisted of key fundraisers for his presidential campaign. All they could do was stand around and get in the way as rescue efforts went on. They had no experience in disaster management and understood damage claims about as well as I understand the female psyche.

When Clinton took over, he didn't want to get caught with his pants down (At least not like that), so he did something totally strange in Washington circles. Rather than appoint a partisan hack, he appoined James Lee Witt, a man with disaster management experience who was actually (Gasp!) qualified for the job!

All good things come to an end. King George the Selected took over in 2001 and appointed Joe Allbaugh. Allbaugh's only experience in disaster management was managing GeeDubya's first campaign for Governor of Texas. A disaster to be sure, but since Texas's governmental structure calls for a weak governor, he at least didn't have to put the state back together.

And then comes... The Arabian Horse Show judge. I know that some from my side of the fence have been overlooking him as of late because he's finally talking about the incompetent-in-chief, but I refuse to give him a walk. He took a job he was terribly unqualified for. If my mailman took the FEMA job and screwed up on the monumental level that Mike "Heckuva a job, Brownie" Brown did, I would bash the mailman.

In 2005, FEMA had a bigger job than it traditionally would have had. Much of the equipment that Louisiana could have used to save their people is sitting in Iraq right now, as was a large part of the personnel.

So FEMA was Louisiana's only line of defense (Let's cut through the retarded talking point here--- Local and state governments don't have the resources when the National Guard is deployed on the Great WMD Snipe Hunt), and it failed miserably. Harry Fucking Connick made it into New Orleans while FEMA was still cowering. In this disaster, Michael Bolton would have been more useful than Michael Brown.

So now, a Senate inquiry has decided that disbanding FEMA is a good way to go. It would be replaced by a new organization with the same useless parent department, Homeland Security.

The question is: Just exactly what is the difference between a nonexistent FEMA and the FEMA that waited until the day after the disaster to send out a memo calling for new people to be hired for deployment within 72 hours?

Don't disband FEMA. Reorganize, do whatever else is necessary. But still call it FEMA. It's a reminder of the abysmal failure of their post-Katrina operation, and a hair shirt reminding whoever's in charge to not fuck up again.

Damn Liberal Media... Right.

I wrote this after a frustrating night watching Action News on WMC (Channel 5). They ran a teaser several times during Dateline NBC (I was watching because I love it when the pervs that pursue teenagers on the internet get their comeuppance!) that used the term "voter fraud" in relation to a story where... Well, you can read the letter.

I'm damn tiredof this. Conservatives have done a very effective job convincing people that the media is liberal by "working the ref". Think of a basketball game--- Whjen there's the slightest contact between players, the one on the receiving end of the contact will hit the deck and act like he's been hit by a truck. As a result, the referee watches the other guy like a hawk all night, and generally ignores what the other guy does.

It's high time we start playing the game the same way.

From: Rick Maynard [] Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2006 12:28 PMTo: ''; ''Subject: Your 4/26 Steve Mulroy Story

I was watching Dateline last night and saw an interesting news promo. “He represents Ophelia Ford and is running for County Commission. But did Steve Mulroy’s wife commit voter fraud?” Having met Mr. Mulroy before, I found this a bit surprising, so I watched your news coverage.

And I feel that a round of congratulations to your news staff are in order. For you have managed to find voter fraud where there was indeed no vote cast. A first in the annals of crime, I do believe. After last night’s story, I’m genuinely looking forward to your hard hitting exposé of the car theft ring that never actually stole a car.

For a moment, I thought I was watching “Minority Report”, and you were covering crimes that had not even been committed yet. Even that fails to make sense, as Amy Mulroy updated her voter registration before ever casting a vote that was tied to that address and well before your would-be Sean Hannity called it “voter fraud”.

As I watched your coverage of the voteless “voter fraud”, I asked myself “Are these people supporters of Joe Cooper’s? Were they perhaps starstruck by him getting that master thespian Larry the Cable Guy to do his automated calls?”

Then I saw your coverage of the gas crisis. In that “Fair and Balanced” piece, your news team managed to complain about Democrats making an issue out of high gas prices more than you complained about the high gas prices themselves, which were a byproduct of several failed Republican-instituted policies. If all of your coverage looked like that, you would accuse the widow of a murder victim of being a “whiner” and let the killer off the hook.

Alone, the Mulroy hatchet job didn’t tell me much. Coupled with your gas crisis story (“While the president has ordered an investigation into price gouging, some say Democrats are using the gas price issue for their political gain”), it becomes much more apparent what was actually happening.

Your ham-fisted attempt at influencing the political process has been duly noted. I hear there’s an opening at Fox News--- Perhaps you should submit résumés. This kind of coverage would fit right in over there. For the record, I hope I’m being overly harsh on you. I don’t watch your newscast as often as I should, and perhaps last night was an aberration rather than a pattern.

But you can bet I’ll be watching closely for the remainder of this election season. And I sincerely hope that I’ll see less coverage out of your news team that reads like something written by Mike Fleming.

Rick Maynard