Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

To follow up on DougJ’s generational musings last night let me share a story with you. A few years ago I was worrying over my figure and when I expressed concern to my wife she said, “Chubby? No. You’re not chubby. I mean, you wouldn’t call Bing Crosby chubby, would you?” I still puzzle over this.  Not too long after that we were listening to something or other by Crosby and my wife was telling me  about this soporific’s profound popularity. It was seriously like Beatlemania. Sarah observed that Crosby was emblematic of the war generation. Play some Bing and you’re right there spiritually.

For the boomers when you play “Paint it Black” I fully expect to see helicopters flying over the jungle. “Magic Carpet Ride” will always be accompanied by hippies cavorting naked in some sylvan setting.

“But what music is emblematic of your generation?” she asked. What will be the documentarian’s shorthand for Generation Xers? My first impulse was to say The Pixies but she rejected that as being too artsy and underground. She’s probably right. They are not universally known. I thought about it some more and concluded, for better or worse, it’s probably U2. Or maybe Run DMC? Michael Jackson?

What do you think? What about you in-betweeners who are too old for MTV but too young for the Beatles. Is it disco? And if there are any millenniums out there (this is what may dad calls millennials) what is the one song or band that will be the shorthand for your period?

And after you’ve sorted that out, go ahead and see if you can dig a little deeper for the fund that’s split between all eventual Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer



Open Thread: Happy Shrove Tuesday!

An African-American Mardi Gras ‘battle song’, ostensibly in celebration of a medieval European holiday, slighty repurposed by a singer in the Solomon Islands. Truly, we are a global community!

Shrove Tuesday, of course, is the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lenten fasting (carne vale, farewell to meat). In the Northern European days when nobody had to look up this year’s lunar calendar, this was the hungry season for everyone — everything green was dead, the autumn stockpiles were running perilously low, the hens had stopped laying, and the beasts kept for next year’s use were getting as thin and peaky as the people. Still a fine excuse for using up the stocks of butter, sugar, eggs, and fancy add-ins with a batch of pancakes or crepes, though!








Someday Everything is Gonna Be Smooth Like a Rhapsody

I’ll bet you’re a little bit like me. As you draw nearer your last trip around the sun, your coma glows brighter and a tail of brilliant ideas strings out behind you in the firmament–ideas which you have neither the time nor the resources to implement. It’s a cruel universe for geniuses like you and me, no? Ah, well!

 When I used to commute and spend more time stuck in my car listening to terrestrial radio, I came with up with an idea for a radio show that I would host with the other guitarist in my band. We would call it “A Supposed Masterpiece I Cannot Understand” and basically play music which everyone says is great, but that we just don’t get. I don’t know if my list would be long enough to keep the program interesting for very long, but I know what I would play first: Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk. Greil Marcus and Robert Christgau rave about it, Camper Van Beethoven did a whole song-by-song cover album of it. Everybody maintains that it’s this deep, angry album about the fracturing relationships in the band. For me, it’s just a slightly spikier, claustrophobic and less Ocean Way Studio smooth and gently rocking adult contemporary soft rock that I used to abhor but now (God help me!) I kind of like just a little bit. But with fewer genuinely good songs. My friend’s choice, as he recalls it, would have been Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. While he didn’t deny the greatness of the individual songs, he wasn’t convinced the album as a whole hangs together. Peronally, I think it probably is a great album, but I have never been able to muster much affection for The Boss. There is a whiff of showbiz about him that makes his earnestness feel like a contrivance.

Don’t mistake me; this radio program would not be an opportunity to disparage and heap scorn upon the contemptible music we loathe. That’s a valuable service too, but this is a different category. I like to like things. And I’m always looking for more things to enjoy in life. That’s why I’ve given Tusk the ol’ college try every few years since the mid ’90s. I can hear there is something there. I don’t hate it. But whatever it has is just not getting through. What would you contribute to this show?

What is getting through, after that pickup in MO on Tuesday, is that a D wave is coming and I want to be on it. So, here is the fund that’s split between all eventual Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer



Late night Beatles and fundraising

Sorry to step on Adam’s post, but I’m afraid if I go up I’ll wake up the baby so I’m chilling in the den a little while longer. Also, I’m a big Pats fan — what a game! Sorry to see the Pats lose but not sorry to see Philly win.

Apropos of Jewish Steel’s last post, what’s your favorite Beatles song? For me, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” is number one with “Getting Better All The Time” number two.

Here’s a harder question: what’s the best song done by a Beatle after the Beatles broke up? I think it’s fair to say Macca did not cover himself in glory for the most part. I’ll go with “God” and “Remember”. I’m a John guy, even though I realize he was kind of an asshole whereas Paul is the one of the nicest people ever. The only post-Beatles Paul songs I enjoy are “Jet”, “Maybe I’m Amazed”. and the new one with Kanye. I also like the video for “Say, Say, Say”. But that’s about it. Jesus, he seems like a nice guy though. I saw this documentary with him and Dave Grohl in it (“Sound City”) and it really does inspire you to be a nicer person.

Let’s raise some money if you’re still awake. I hear more and more good things about Swing Left and I’m emailing them tomorrow to see if they’ll think about expanding into NY-23, right near me.

Goal Thermometer








Xmas Evening Open Thread


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From irrepressible commentor OldGold:

How is Christmas like an ordinary day at the office?

You do all the work and a fat guy in a bad suit gets all the credit.

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The snowplow guy, bless him, showed up (we didn’t expect him!) to remove the ice barricade at the end of the driveway, and the Spousal Unit is using his new electric snowblower on the walk. After getting a (surprisingly nice!) Frasier fir yesterday, we decided to wait to decorate it until after this evening’s traditional meal at our favorite Chinese restaurant. So I’m good for the evening…

Hope y’all are equally pleased with your Juul choices, whatever those might be!

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Monday Morning Open Thread: Merry Xmas (If You Can)


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How’s the Official USA Yule Holiday treating you, o Balloon-Juice jackals?

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Late Night Open Thread: Musical Interlude

(My favorite Christmas carol, and one written by a Jewish composer. The grocery where Guilherme Assunção currently works is not quite close enough that we shop there, but given the number of small venues around here, I’m hoping to see him on a larger stage someday.)

I’m guessing there are still West Coast jackals wrapping last-minute gifts / finishing the meal prep / waiting for the travel-delayed relatives to show up. Not to mention those in more distant climes, now cleaning up after the big celebration (possibly nursing sunburns to go with the incipient hangovers.

Merry Whatever-Year-End-Celebration, y’all!