Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’


The good news is that we’re not out of biz. And if we (See Sharp Press) can survive this, we can survive anything (barely).

We have a couple of really good new books coming up within the next few months (release date depending on the pandemic), Chris Mato Nunpa’s Great Evil, about Christianity the holocaust of Indigenous peoples and the ecosphere, and the Bible; and the conclusion of T.C. Weber’s Sleep State Interrupt anarcho-thriller trilogy, Zero Day Rising.

Beyond that, since I have little else to do in self-quarantine other than tend to my pets/owners — at times an inverted relationship — play music, write music, and work in the garden, I’m pretty safe. According to the CDC, Arizona is one of the states that has widespread community transmission of the coronavirus, so I rarely go out. When I do, I bump doors with my shoulder, and punch screens with a plastic bag between my hand and the screen. I still want my IPA, but hey, I’ll live (or not) if I don’t get it.

As for books and blog posts, Dakota elder Chris Mato Nunpa’s The Great Evil will be out in June; and I’m making huge strides with 24 Reasons to Abandon Christianity — about 30,000 words in at present.

Also, I’m well on my way to recording two music CDs. Between mine, my good bro’s Michael Turner’s, and the ones I wrote with my friends/ex-bandmates Brian Hullfish and Michael Zubay, we have two full CDs+ of original material. We’ll probably use the name Blues Evangelists (spreadin’ the good news of the blues.)

Other than that, I’ll be finishing off the graphic arts work for Al Perry’s new all-instrumental CD., for which Winston Smith did the cover graphic, after a water color by Al. I’m doing everything beyond that, and Al did me the honor of asking me if I’d play second guitar when the CD release finally happens sometime this fall down at Club Congress. Of course I agreed. (Here’s a link to one of Al’s funniest recent tunes, Jukebox Jihad.)

Enough for now. I’ll put up another post within a day or two with a lot of actually useful shit.

It’s going on dawn, and Red is rising. “Red” is the formerly skeletal, now plump, Rhode Island Rhode Red rooster who showed up here last June, and rooted around in my garden for a week or two, until I started feeling sorry for him and started feeding him. The neighbors did, too. He became the neighborhood pet. Dumb as a box of rocks, but still pretty and lively. They’re talking about buying some hens and putting up a hen house in their backyard.

I hope they do it soon.

 

 

 


(Here’s a slightly updated version of one of the first pieces we ran on this blog back in the halcyon days of 2013.)

Free Radicals front cover

by Zeke Teflon, author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia

Long, long ago, in a far away place—so long ago and so far away, in fact, that the statute of limitations has expired—I had the privilege of serving as a staff engineer at pirate radio station KDIL, “The Big 16.”

Shortly before KDIL went on the air in 1972, its CEO and main announcer, Ray the Reptile, was browsing through the religious paperbacks at the annual Visiting Nurses Book Sale when he laid his pudgy paws on the book he was destined to immortalize: “Dildo Torture,” by Arthur Fox. Not only did the book provide KDIL with its call letters, but it proved invaluable during KDIL’s short time on the air: It provided an entire graveyard shift’s worth of programming, as Bob the Gimp and I read the entire book over the air one hot August night, stopping only to punctuate its steamy passages with ads for Globe Shopping City’s narcotics department (“This week’s manager’s special: Blotter acid, two hits for three dollars for school children with I.D.!”) and Black Sabbath’s “Live in Jerusalem” LP, which we assured listeners had been recorded at Gethsemane at Easter sunrise.

But KDIL was more than porn and pranks—it was a textbook example of how not to put together and operate a pirate radio station. Perhaps the only thing right about KDIL was its location—an old, secluded mansion with overgrown grounds, surrounded by other mansions, in downtown Phoenix. There were two primary advantages to this: 1) KDIL’s site was in a white, affluent neighborhood, and cops (in this case FCC inspectors) are always more reluctant to kick in doors in such areas than in poorer neighborhoods; 2) the site was secluded and covered with vegetation, which not only made observation of our activities difficult, but also allowed us to hide a half-wave dipole antenna approximately 300 feet long in the eucalyptus trees surrounding the house.

That seclusion and privacy is what ultimately saved our butts, as, after selecting our site, we did virtually everything else wrong. That started with our choice of co-tenants/co-conspirators. Unbeknownst to most of us, one of them was a junkie who normally kept small amounts of heroin in his room. If the FCC had ever tracked us down, he (and we) could have ended up in jail for years as a result of his (and our) stupidity. As well, we were in the habit of smoking dope and occasionally dropping acid in the control room. That, and our roomie’s smack use, wouldn’t have mattered but for the fact that we were ignoring an elementary safety precaution (legal variety) by having our studio and transmitter in the same place, in fact, in the same room. Thus, if the FCC would have found the transmitter, they would have found us (and god knows what in the way of drugs), as well as our studio, and they would have seized all of our equipment.

In itself, that would have been a disaster. What would have made it doubly disastrous was the fact that a good part of our studio equipment was stolen. At the time we put KDIL on the air, all ten or so of us involved in the project were working as either DJs or engineers at local radio and TV stations, and to equip our studio several of my compatriots simply helped themselves to “surplus” gear sitting in various stations’ storerooms.

(My compadres felt no compunction about liberating equipment from the faceless corporations that owned the stations; it only aggravated matters that they hated the stations’ managers and the commercial sleaze those managers were foisting on the public. My friends were well aware that the FCC mandate that stations operate in the public interest was [and is] a sick joke.)

And of course those who equipped the station didn’t bother to eradicate the serial numbers on the equipment, so all of it could have been traced easily.

The down side of this was that we were exposing ourselves to a horrendous amount of danger for no good reason; the up side was that we were better equipped than some of the commercial broadcast stations in town. We had cart machines for playing commercials and PSAs, broadcast turntables, and even a compressor/limiter. About the only thing in our studio not of commercial origin was our control board, but even that wasn’t a problem as Blue Cheese, one of the other engineers, had built an ugly but quite functional board in a couple of weeks of his spare time.

So, prior to going on the air, we made the following mistakes: 1) we had our studio and our transmitter in the same place; 2) we were using drugs in the studio; 3) we were using stolen equipment; 4) we hadn’t eradicated the serial numbers on it.

We then proceeded to compound our mistakes through our operating practices. Rather than occasionally and sporadically appearing on different frequencies using a low-wattage signal, when we went on the air we did it in a way calculated to attract maximum attention—with 24-hour-a-day broadcasting, on a fixed frequency (1600 KHz), with a relatively high-wattage signal. I had modified an old 200-watt ham transmitter to work on the broadcast band, and it, combined with the dipole strung in the trees, was powerful enough to cover the entire metropolitan area of our city, an area of over 2,000 square miles.

Amazingly, it took the FCC nearly a week to home in on us. (They had been alerted by one of the bootlickers — a category which covers a curiously high number of broadcast engineers — at a local TV station.) This was no thanks to our station IDs, which declared that our studios and transmitter were located high in the Mormon Tabernacle in beautiful downtown Salt Lake City—that hadn’t fooled anyone, not even the local Mormons, as we were hundreds of miles from SLC—or, alternatively, that we were broadcasting from the Satanic Tabernacle of Wickenburg. (One of our IDs was “KDIL, getting it said for Satan!”) The reason the FCC was so slow in tracking us down was that we weren’t reported for a few days, and it then took the FCC personnel some time to rouse from their bureaucratic slumber, load their direction-finding gear into their cars, and drive the several hundred miles from their regional office in L.A. to our town. Once there, they were on to us in no time. But they never found us.

What saved us was our secluded location, hidden antenna, and that we saw them before they saw us. As soon as we spotted the white car with the telltale direction-finding loop, our DJ, the Yuma Llama, went into a short rant about censorship, commercial monopolization of the airwaves, and the fascism of the war on drugs (yes, it was a social blight then, too). As the Llama’s vitriolic verbiage faded into the ether, we disconnected the transmitter, lugged it down to the basement, hid it in a hole in the foundation, lit up a joint, and settled back to watch the FCC car pointlessly scurry up and down our street on its fruitless search.

Over the next few years, KDIL resurfaced sporadically as a late-night, 1-watt FM station operating from the Cheese residence. But the thrill was gone, as were most of the people involved, and KDIL breathed its last in the late 1970s. Still, even though it’s gone, it’s not entirely forgotten. One day in the mid-1980s, while in the FCC’s Los Angeles office on business, Ray the Reptile walked into a stall in its restroom. As he settled on the throne, the first piece of graffiti to meet his eyes was “KDIL Lives!”

The point of all this is that despite doing a number of monumentally stupid things, we, KDIL’s staff, got away with it—because we took a couple of elementary precautions. You can get away with it too. (Well, probably—there are no guarantees.) If you put a pirate on the air and take reasonable precautions (especially having your transmitter and studio in separate locations), your chances of being busted by the FCC are probably no greater than your chances of being struck by lightning or eaten by hogs.


Well, it’s finally happened. My favorite Mexican restaurant, El Torero, closed tonight and won’t reopen. By happenstance, I dropped in for some typically great Mexican chow and some beers with a few friends tonight, had one of the final meals El Torero served, and got to talking with the owner (and chef). He’s been threatening to close the place for a good five years, to which my attitude has always been, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll believe it when I see it.” Tonight, I believe it.

El Torero is a South Tucson institution, and has been around as a family place for over 60 years.

(South Tucson incorporated as a 100% Mexican, one-square-mile city in 1939 as a self-defense measure against the virulent racism in the City of Tucson. Things really didn’t begin to change here until the 1970s, and Tucson proper is now the most integrated city of over a million in the country, and the population within the city limits is currently close to 50% Mexican. Racism persists, but it’s a shadow of its former self; Tucson is at times referred to, with some justification [the arts and music scenes], as a “mini-Austin”; and the City of South Tucson [now entirely encircled by the City of Tucson, but still over 90% Mexican] persists as a poverty-stricken monument to resistance to racism.)

Enough with the history lesson.

El Torero is gloriously tacky with formica tables, a chewed-up linoleum floor, flame-throwing salsa, and a stuffed (or fiberglass) swordfish on one wall outlined with Christmas lights. It’s the only restaurant I know in Tucson where during slack periods the owner will sit down uninvited to shoot the shit with you, and during really slack periods the on-duty cook will come out of the kitchen and likewise sit down uninvited to shoot the shit. I love it.

As homey as it is, the food is (or was) great — every bit as good and a bit cheaper than the ultra-trendy Mi Nidito three blocks down the street (the food there is good and reasonably priced), which is the place to go for trendoids who don’t mind waiting an hour to be seated while there’s no waiting at El Torero. (Rigo’s, The Crossroads, Michas, and Guillermo’s are all at least close in quality and equivalent in price, within about a mile, and there’s never a wait at any of them. Mi Nidito became the place to go after Bill Clinton visited the place maybe 25 years ago, did his best impression of a human rotorooter, and consumed mass quantities.)

Anyway, El Torero is gone. When I spoke with him tonight, the owner (in the center in the photo at left) told me, “Just go to Lerua’s” (about two miles away on Broadway) — owned by the same family, with the same recipes. That’s good advice while it applies. Lerua’s will likely be axed when the Broadway “improvement” project kicks in sometime within the next few years.

Damn! but I’ll miss El Torero.

(P.S. For anyone in the area, my blues duo, Cholla Buds, will be playing two jobs downtown tomorrow, Dec. 1: from 1:00 to 4:00 at Crooked Tooth Brewery on 6th Street at Arizona Avenue, and from 5:30 to 6:00 or 6:15 at The Hut on 4th Avenue and 8th Street. Both shows are free. Please come on down and have some free fun.)


(Well, even 24 in 96 is stretching it a bit — but it sounds better than 24 in 114, which is still pushing it because there are a few of the 24 that I’ve tried previously and that are lurking in the ‘fridge. Anyway . . . )

A few days ago, I got an offer I wouldn’t refuse from TotalWine: 15% off 24 beer singles.

I decided to use the offer to sample a bunch of brews I’ve never tried before — almost all microbrews, and mostly regional (Western US, and especially Arizona) microbrews. Here are the results, which were nowhere near as good as I’d hoped, but there were some bright spots.

I’ve omitted a lot of brews I’m familiar with and that I think are very good but overpriced (Rogue, Anderson Valley, Dogfish Head, Stone), and am sticking here with the ones I tried for the first time, and, from memory, a number of the good local beers available in bottles at a reasonable price. I’ve put the states or countries of origin after the beers.

First, what I consider the really good:

  • Breckenridge Brewery amber ale (Colorado)
  • Breckenridge Brewery vanilla porter (Colorado)
  • Nimbus Monkey Shines (extremely high octane brown ale — overpriced, but very good) (Tucson, Arizona)
  • Boulder Shake chocolate porter (Colorado)
  • Moose Drool brown ale (Montana)

Next, what I consider the good:

  • Alaskan amber (Alaska — duh!)
  • Full Sail amber (Oregon)
  • Left Hand milk stout (Colorado)
  • Foster’s Extra Special Bitter — labeled as just “Foster’s Ale” — a great buy (Australia)
  • Nimbus red (Tucson, Arizona)
  • Barrio rojo (Tucson, Arizona)
  • Nimbus brown (Tucson, Arizona)
  • San Tan Devil’s Ale (an over-hopped but good pale ale) (Arizona)
  • Lost Coast Stout (California)
  • Nimbus pale ale (this used to be a great beer, but the yeast mutated about 20 years ago, and now I’d only rank it as good) (Tucson, Arizona)
  • Alien amber ale (brewed in — where else? — Roswell, NM)

After that, what I consider only okay:

  • More than half of them

Now, two that I consider bad:

  • Grand Canyon amber ale (I find it sour) (Arizona)
  • Barrio Blonde (I find it bland and skunky, almost as bad as Corona) (Tucson, Arizona)

Now, two that I consider horrendous:

  • Magic Hat not quite pale ale (I find it like drinking perfume mixed with vinegar) (Vermont)
  • Estrella Jalisco (I had a few sips from one several weeks ago and poured out the rest of the bottle) (Mexico)

As for the best buys, I’d have to go with the Foster’s ESB ($2.29 for a 25.4-oz. can), Full Sail Amber ($6.99 a sixer). Moose Drool Brown ($7.99 a sixer), and Boulder Shake chocolate porter ($7.99 a sixer).

Enough beer snobbery. What’s your favorite brew?

 

 


Western Diamondback

“Rattlesnakes are attracted to beer and tattoos.”

— Poison Control Center worker overheard at a party a few years ago commenting on the fact that guys in their teens and twenties account for most rattlesnake bites and that — how did you ever guess? — alcohol is often involved. Not coincidentally, almost all Gila Monster bites involve the same demographic.

(Just in case you’re wondering, the above is a Western Diamondback, the most common type of rattler here in the Sonoran Desert.)


Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are here in Arizona, up in Wickenburg at The Meadows, a very expensive ($58,000 for 45 days) 12-step treatment program.

This is ridiculous on more than one count, most importantly that Spacey and Weinstein are not afflicted with “sex addiction.” Rather, they’ afflicted with power-over-others “addiction,” and the abusive behavior that results from it. Give people power over others, and it’s a safe bet that a great many of them will abuse it.

Second, “sex addiction” is not a recognized disorder in the standard handbook on mental disorders, the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (5th ed.). It’s a pop culture term dating from the 1980s, whose roots seem to lie in the anti-sexual attitudes of conservative Christians and in the authoritarian, prudish feminism of figures such as Andrea Dworkin. It’s more of the “same old same old” pathologizing of sex that’s been such a dreary part of American life for centuries.

Third, the type of “treatment” Spacey and Weinstein are receiving for this trumped up malady is 12-step treatment, which is ineffective across the board. (See “Alcoholics Anonymous is Not Effective” for info on the granddaddy of and model for all subsequent 12-step programs; see also the authoritative Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches, by Reid Hester and William Miller.)

So, Spacey and Weinstein are receiving (insofar as it’s 12-step based) ineffective treatment for an imaginary addiction, while their real problem — their willingness to use their positions of power to exploit and abuse others — goes unaddressed.

In the end, it seems that all they’ve done is find a convenient way to remove themselves from the spotlight, while giving the appearance of doing something about their awful behavior. They’ll emerge from rehab in January, their PR flacks will proclaim them rehabilitated — and they’ll quite probably go back to business as usual, insofar as they can get away with it.

That’s a shame for both Spacey, Weinstein, and their victims, and for the rest of us, because sexual abuse by the powerful has wider than individual implications. It’s a symptom of the sickness at the heart of our current authoritarian, hierarchical political and economic organization that gives some vast power over others. This whole affair could have spurred much needed discussion about that sickness. But it hasn’t, and likely won’t, especially as it’s being addressed as a matter of individual failure rather than pervasive sociopolitical failure.


Howdy from Tucson, where the final day of Spring came in at (depending  on which forecast you believe) somewhere between 112 and 114 degrees F (45 degrees C for you furriners). (Update: it was actually 115 F.)

It’s supposed to be even warmer tomorrow (make that in a few hours). (Update: It was warmer: 116 (47 C) ; in Phoenix it was 119. As I write, the high today was a mere 115, and we’re in for a major cooling spell this weekend, where the highs won’t get much above 110.)

About three weeks ago, after our first string of 100+ degree days, one of the local weathermen (Kevin Jeanes on KOLD — and sorry for the political incorrectness, that should be “weatherperson” or “person of weather”) with, shall we say a dry sense of humor, commented that the temperature was “all the way down to 99, and it’ll be even cooler tomorrow at 97.” (Again, for those of you who use a rational temperature scale, that translates to 37 C and 36 C.)

For those who haven’t been paying attention to U.S. climate models, they predict that this region, the desert Southwest, will be the hardest hit of the “lower 48.” And indeed it has been. We’ve been in a prolonged drought for nearly 20 years (broken last year by “normal” rainfall), and two of the last three years, 2014 and 2016, were the hottest on record. We just experienced the second warmest Spring ever, with the hottest March (high and mid 90s temperatures starting around March 1).

So, yeah, global warming is a “hoax.” We need to burn more coal. Donald Trump is an intelligent, honest, compassionate human being. And the unfettered greed inherent in capitalism isn’t a death sentence for the planet.

Things seem bleak, but we’re not totally screwed. There are things we can do individually and collectively to adapt and to counter global warming.

One thing damn near everyone can do is to plant trees. If done on a mass scale, this can reverse desertification. Even on an individual scale, it’s one of the best things we can do.

Gardening is another individual approach that makes sense. It involves far less expense than transporting food for thousands of miles, and involves far less waste. It also yields health benefits via relaxation, if nothing else.

Another individual approach, in arid regions, is to use xeriscaping, using native plants and a carpeting of rocks in place of lawns and non-native plants. This saves water — a lot of it, and it looks better than lawns.

Then there’s water harvesting — again, something damn near everyone (at least every property owner) can do at reasonable cost that will be amortized in a relatively few years. Even if you’re just channeling rain water from your roof and patio into wells for your fruit trees (as I am), it helps.

And then there’s passive solar heating (just think big picture windows facing south with an overhang that cuts off the sun in the summer months) and solar hot water heating (ultra easy — I built a solar hot water heater out of two old hot water heaters painted flat black [stripped of their external metal jacket and insulation], plumbing fittings, an old window, and scrap plywood and 2X4s about 20 years ago — a friend is still using it).

Then there’s ultra-insulation. Think straw bale and rammed earth construction. These energy-saving approaches can be used almost anywhere, and will often result in extremely energy-efficient dwellings.

To go even further on the individual scale, basements make a hell of a lot of sense in desert areas. Temperatures in them are a good 25 degrees F below surface temperatures, and there aren’t even seepage problems in deserts. The only reason they haven’t been adopted on a mass scale in the sprawlopalises  of the Southwest is that land, historically, has been so damn cheap that builders have foregone them in place of slab construction, which yields better short-term profits. If you’re having a place built in this area, think about adding a basement.

As for societal approaches, they’re so obvious that I’ll mention them only in passing. First and foremost, a direct tax on carbon emissions — screw carbon “offsets”: they’re a recipe for fraud; massive public investment in clean energy; energy-efficient transport and appliances; mass investment in public transit, including bicycle projects; tree planting on a mass scale; and subsidies for individual clean energy projects, passive-solar retrofits, water harvesting,  and energy-efficient construction.

Why do I think all of this is important? There are a couple of reasons.

One is that if adopted widely all of this would help save the planet (or at least make the lives of our children and their children better). The other is that it would keep people involved, and at least marginally hopeful. People without hope are easy to control and manipulate. Real, positive change is possible only when people have hope.

If you haven’t already done so — even on the smallest individual scale — please join those of us trying to create real change, please join those of us creating hope.

 

 

 


scottsdale

(For those fortunate enough to never have set foot in the place, Scottsdale is one of the most loathsome suburbs of Phoenix: rich, nearly all white, right-wing, snootier than hell, and spreading like a cancer on what used to be a beautiful part of the Sonoran Desert. Thanks to fellow refugee from Phoenix, Al Perry, for passing on this completely-nails-it graphic from his co-conspirator, Hashimoto Nukeclear.)


I just watched the last couple of quarters of the Cardinals – Seahawks game with my neighbor, Fernando. Both he and his brother Memo were racially profiled and harassed this weekend.

Fernando went down to some kids football event held at Fort Huachuca with his girlfriend, and was stopped on his way in by an MP, “some white girl I guarantee isn’t from around here.” She checked IDs, had no problem with the two white folks he was with (who had exactly the same ID — Arizona drivers licenses), but told him to go into the checkpoint for further ID checks. He went in, and, surprise surprise, everybody in there was either Mexican or Indian. He told the MP, “This is bullshit,” when her supervising sergeant, a Mexican guy, arrived, and told everybody there they were free to go. One hopes he subsequently chewed out the racist creep under his command.

That was Friday.

On Saturday, Fernando and his brother Memo (Guillermo) got off work at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, closed up shop, and around midnight were at the QT (local equivalent of 7/11) on First Avenue about a half mile from here on their way home. Due to a malfunctioning automatic transmission, their mom had accidentally screwed up the passengers’ side door when she put the truck into what she thought was “park” but was actually “reverse,” and hit the fence with the door a few days ago. That left the door functional, but requiring a fair amount of force to open and close it.

Well, as they were at the QT, Fernando and Memo went in to buy some shit. Memo came out first, and had to deal with the balky passengers’ side door. While he was doing it, “some random white girl” in her 30s at the next gassing island came up to him, told him not to break into cars, and threatened to call the police — despite seeing him and Fernando drive in and go into the store.  Memo then walked to the drivers’ side, got in and started the truck, as the “random white girl” continued to threaten to call the cops. She had a friend with her who at that point evidently asked her, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” and they drove off.

And some people continue to insist that racism no longer exists in the United States.

What in hell is wrong with them? Why can’t they see what’s right before their eyes? What planet are they from?

Not this one.

 


Arpaio and Trump caricatures

(photo from the BBC)

Caricatures of current (soon to be ex)  Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio and Donald Trump, by an unidentified artist, from a get-out-the-vote event in Phoenix.

Arpaio, an early and ardent Trump supporter, is infamous for his racial profiling activities and his alleged  (must get that “alleged” in there) corruption and use of his office to harass the press and political opponents. He’ll shortly be facing federal criminal contempt of court charges.

No comment necessary about Trump other than that this is a very good likeness, and that it’s particularly impressive given that it’s a blow-up figure. The likeness of Arpaio is even better than that of Trump.


Al

Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know alt-country player Al Perry. Despite his crusty exterior — I’ve always thought that a great country stage name would be “Crusty Sheets” — Al is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Also one of the funniest and most insightful. One thing we have in common is that we’re both from Phoenix, and loathe the place. (Tucson is better — much smaller, more scenic [lusher desert surrounded by 9,000-foot mountains], not quite as hot, better arts and music scene, more politically progressive.)

Al sat in a couple of times with my last band, Pinche Blues Band, at gigs, and I was surprised that he’s a really good blues player in addition to being a great alt-country player, vocalist, and songwriter.

As is typical in modern-day America (“We’re number one!”), Al is not well rewarded. He lives in a shit hole about a mile-and-a-half southeast of me, albeit in a slightly less scary neighborhood (fewer shootings), though with a much greater infestation of UofA students.

Despite a fair amount of acclaim over the years — he’s toured Europe four times — Al’s music income has nosedived since around 2000, as people have simply downloaded his songs for free. He hasn’t shared much in the remaining source of income for working musicians, touring, as he simply doesn’t do it of late. He occasionally plays clubs in L.A. or New York, but that about it: it’s not a significant source of income.

A couple of years ago he told me that his income from CD sales had fallen 75% over the previous decade. Both of his CDs are now out of print, so his income from them is now zero. We’ve talked about starting a label (with our CDs and those of other artists/bands we know here in town and up in the Bay Area), but what would be the point? It’s a dead business model.

One other thing we have in common is that we both hate self-promotion, which in large part accounts for why neither of us have been commercially successful — you have to be damn lucky or very well connected to succeed without an onerous amount of self-promotion. (If you can stand doing it and are assiduous at it, you’ll probably succeed — regardless of your talent, or lack of it.)  Al’s (and my) attitude has always been, “This shit is so good you’d be crazy not to buy it. Recognize it.”

Unfortunately, most people don’t.

You can still catch Al around town (Tucson) occasionally as a solo act, and very occasionally with a full band. Once I get another band going, Al will — I hope — be sitting in with us on a regular basis.

In the meantime, you can catch a lot of his new stuff on Youtube. He’s written a couple hundred songs, the vast majority unrecorded, but he’s  putting up new material on Youtube seemingly every week or two.

Here are a few lines from one of Al’s best songs, “Little by Little”:

 

Livin’ with a crazy person since I’ve been livin’ by myself

Got me a big old house

But it seems just like a cell

Sittin’ alone

Without no reason

To ever leave my chair

Checkin’ out the four walls

With a blank and vacant stare

 

The rest of it is just as funny. The self-mockery in it is priceless.

Al Perry is an unrecognized national treasure.

 

(If you’d like to get ahold of Al, you can reach him at alperry@kxci.org. Speaking of KXCI, catch Al’s unique and wonderful show, “Clambake,” on Tuesday nights at 10 pm MST [05:00 Wednesday mornings UT].)

 

 

 

 


Last weekend it was 115 here in Tucson (or 114, depending on which weather service you want to believe — 45C for you furriners).  We’re well on the way to the hottest June ever, with temperatures averaging maybe seven degrees F above the normal 101 or 102.

What brings this to mind is that is’s 2:00 a.m, still 90 degrees outside, and (after escaping the hotter office), I’ll sitting in the coolest room in the house (practice room on the north side), playing guitar because it’s too hot to sleep, too hot to work in the office, and it’s way too hot to play guitar in the living room.

The climate models indicate that southern Arizona will be the most affected (no, I won’t say “impacted”–too ugly a term) area in the U.S. by global warming, and our temperatures are certainly bearing this out.

The shills for the fossil fuel companies, their propaganda “Faux News” network, and the “low information voters” they dupe attempt to dismiss this. They call themselves “conservatives,” but’s what “conservative” about playing Russian roulette with a loaded pistol? Realistically, it’s more like playing Russian roulette with a semi-automatic. (There are no  peer-reviewed articles on the topic, out of more than a thousand,  in scientific journals that deny that man-made global warming is real.) Think about it — what is “conservative” about ignoring a dire threat? Even if you give it only a 10% chance of being right (rather than the almost certain 100%) , what’s conservative about gambling with your kids’ lives and well-being?

The temperatures keep going up, the energy companies and their dupes/paid whores keep denying there’s a problem, and I truly wish they were bringing the apocalypse only on themselves. (They’d richly deserve it.)

But they’re bringing it on all of us.

If you ever wanted evidence that capitalism is pathological, this is it: These immoral profiteers have been trying to  hide evidence and delay action for decades on an existential threat to all of us that will bring about, at minimum, hundreds of millions of deaths and untold misery for billions of others. Including our kids.

But they’ve been profiting by it to the tunes of billions upon billions of dollars.

So, climate change deniers, go for it, be “conservative.” Ignore the scientific evidence, and pull the Russian roulette trigger on your — and your kids’ — heads.

The oil companies will thank you for it. (Actually, they won’t — they utilize, but have no respect for, stupidity.)

 

 

 


“If you want to see the absolute scum of the earth go to any prison in the US during shift change.”

–Paul Harvey (attributed)

If you doubt the truth of that statement, consider the new piece on the excellent investigative site, The Intercept, “Police and Prison Guard Groups Fight Marijuana Legalization in California,” by Lee Fang, reporting on the funding of the opposition to the initiative repealing marijuana prohibition in California:

Roughly half of the money raised to oppose a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in California is coming from police and prison guard groups, terrified that they might lose the revenue streams to which they have become so deeply addicted.

Drug war money has become a notable source of funding for law enforcement interests. Huge government grants and asset-seizure windfalls benefit police departments, while the constant supply of prisoners keeps the prison business booming.

One thing The Intercept piece didn’t mention is that opposition to legal and medical marijuana initiatives also comes from the private prison industry, which contributed significantly to the opposition to the 2010 medical marijuana initiative in Arizona, which barely passed. (In 2016 one of the largest contributors opposing legalization in the state was Insys Therapeutics Inc., a fentanyl manufacturer, which contributed $500,000 to the anti-legalization drive, which barely lost. Not incidentally, hospital admissions for opioid abuse and dependency have dropped by over 20% in states where medicinal pot is legal; full legalization would likely lead to an even larger drop.)

Another thing  The Intercept piece didn’t mention is the power that pot prohibition gives the police over the public. It’s probably the primary example of government intrusion into the private lives of individuals.  It’s a license for the cops to terrorize people in SWAT raids–breaking down doors, beating people, holding guns to their heads. And it’s a damn good bet that some of them enjoy doing that. Sadists don’t willingly give up their power over their victims.

Think about it. The arguments in favor of prohibition have been thoroughly discredited for decades, and millions of people who have done no harm to others have been thrown in prison because of barbaric prohibition laws.

The pro-prohibition forces are driven by sadism and the desire to lock people in cages for victimless “crimes,” because they profit from it. They want to lock innocent people in cages for money.

The prison guards, private prison industry, police chiefs, fentanyl manufacturers, and other parasites opposing marijuana legalization truly are “the absolute scum of the earth.”

 


Here are a few photos taken either directly from my front door or a few steps from it. They’re pretty typical of the part of Tucson, the Keeling neighborhood, in which I live. It’s motto ought to be, “The Keeling Neighborhood — it’s not as bad as it looks.”

Fayugueros

This is the view that greets me every morning when I walk out the door. My neighbors are fayuqueros, who find stuff on the street or buy it at yard sales and thrift stores, and then truck it down to Agua Prieta (Mexico) to sell at flea markets. They’re really nice people, and we’ve known each other for 20 years now, so I don’t mind the way this looks.

You can also see some of my vegetable starts. Every year, I grow 300 to 400 starts, use maybe 100 of them myself, and give the rest away.

DSCN0002

This is from the front patio. Notice the car parked in the yard next door and the piles of trash next to the street on the opposite side. Both are typical of the neighborhood. And, since you asked, no, there’s no bulk trash pickup scheduled until August.

The landlord of the duplex pictured on the opposite side is a scumbag who’ll rent to anyone. A few years ago I came home and found the intersection blocked off by police tape and the area crawling with cops. It turns out the meth heads who at the time were infesting the duplex had gotten into a gun battle with some other assholes, and the cops estimated that 60 to 70 shots had been fired.

When I moved here in 1992, I heard shots every night. It’s gotten a lot quieter since then, and it’s rare to hear shots anymore.

DSCN0003

Another view from the front patio. Again, notice the truck parked in the front yard. One of the charms of this place is that the neighbors occasionally party on weekends until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m., and blast norteños, banda, rancheras, and rock en español from the industrial strength stereos in their trucks. I don’t mind. Back in the ’90s, we used to have band practice late; it sometimes lasted until 11:00 pm or midnight, and no one ever complained. That’s one of the main benefits of living in this neighborhood — people tend not to give a shit about noise.

 


Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Decades ago, Molly Ivins (a great writer, despite being a Texan–Arizona is where it’s at); . . . . . as Barry Goldwater once said, “I have heard that the [National Press Club] serves only Texas Chili. Tell me this is not true. A Texan does not know chili from leavings in a corral.”) ; . . .  at any rate, Ivins came up with that phrase, and I always like to give credit where it’s due.

English: Photograph shows head-and-shoulders p...

English: Photograph shows head-and-shoulders portrait of Goldwater. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some lyrics I wrote recently. I’ve  handed them off, along with the lyrics to “I’m Gettin’ Drunk with Jesus,” to Alt-Country player  Al Perry, another Tucsonan who, unfortunately for both of us, also has roots in Phoenix. Al is a great writer. Me? I can play blues, rock, jazz, latin jazz, latin rock, funk, etc. — but I can’t play country, so I handed these country lyrics to Al. I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with.

 

 

 

Sieg Heil Y’all

We’re very patriotic
And you know that it’’s true
That gives us the duty
To tell you what to do
Now all we really want from you
Is to do just what we say
Go on and lick a boot boy
It’s the American way

We’’re the world’s biggest bully
Don’’t get in our way
And it’s one two three sieg heil y’’all
Über alles, U.S.A.

It really offends me
When you call it a colored rag
I’’ll tell you what it means boy
To wave the American flag
We say that we want justice
And we want liberty
What we really want
Is the world down on its knees

We’re the world’s biggest bully
We’ve got to have our way
And it’s one two three sieg heil y’all
Über alles, U.S.A.

We’re the chickenhawk bully boys
And we’’re out to crush free speech
World domination
Is quite within our reach
So don’t interfere with us
Don’t get in our way
God bless America
Try to stop us and you’ll pay

We’re the world’s biggest bully
Better do what we say
And it’s one two three sieg heil y’all
Über alles, U.S.A.

(Spoken)
Sieg heil y’all
Y’all come back now, y’’hear?