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The Belldog Mixtape #3

  • Stiff Little Fingers: “Suspect Device” – Proof that not all bands from Ireland suck (I kid…but not really…sort of).  For some reason this band is always overlooked when UK punk is being discussed by the talking heads. The track here kicks off their 1978 debut “Inflammable Material” and in my mind, it is a seminal track of the period.  From what I can tell they were the closest of the UK bands to foreshadow the US hardcore movement that was about to birth.
  • Smog: “Natural Decline” – One of the handful of artists who does no wrong for me is Bill Callahan.  Today I pulled out one of his lesser acclaimed records: “Rain on Lens”.   This album has a brooding and thick swampy feel which the track “Natural Decline” is a great example of.  With its punchy bullfrog bassline, muted handclaps, and swooning guitar the listener gets a brief feel for what krautrock would sound like if it had been birthed in the southern United States.
  • Natural Dreamers: “The Singer” – Natural Dreamers are one of those bands that will surely be relegated to obscurity even though they have a known pedigree.  Featuring the two guitarists from Deerhoof along with the drummer of Dilute, Natural Dreamers is an all instrumental record that sounds like long lost Zoot Horn Rollo outtakes from the heyday of the Magic Band.  One minute abrasive and the next sugary sweet….
  • Anthony Braxton Quartet: “Composition No. 40B” – This track comes from one of Braxton’s early 90’s albums and it shows him flexing his superior ability to marry avant and trad jazz.  The staccato lines he blisters out of his alto would fit well on Dave Holland’s “Conference of the Birds” while the drums and bass motor together to hold the  groove down.  Great recording and a fantastic composition.
  • Sunn0))): “Hunting & Gathering (Cydonia)” – On the latest Sunn0))) album, the duo have expanded their drone sound even further by adding horns, choirs, and strings.  This track showcases ex Mayhem vocalist Attila Chisar employing his terrifying vocals to tell the story of collapsing planets while an all male choir works with the horn section to rise and fall with epic tension.  Just remember their motto when you listen: Maximum volume yields maximum results.
  • Marc Ribot: “Kedem” – This track is one of Marc Ribot’s interpretations of a song from John Zorn’s amazing Masada songbook.   “Masada Guitars” was released in 2003 and features Ribot along with Timothy Sparks and Bill Frisell.  It is one I recommend without hesitation.  Ribot’s ability to be percussive and violent with his guitar one minute and then tempered and gentle the next is the key to his appeal for me.  Like John Coltrane, Marc is one of the few instrumentalists who has created such a unique voice on his instrument that you know it is him the second the record starts.
  • Blue Sky Boys: “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone” – Perhaps of all the brother duos in country music, even more than the Stanleys, the Louvins, the Delmores, or the Monroes, no one ever sounded as sweet as Bill and Earl Bolick…better known as the Blue Sky Boys.   This is the aural equivalent of  cornbread dipped in buttermilk.
  • Bozart: “Moves Through Locked Doors” – One of the myriad of instrumental bands that came about in the late 90’s that went completly ignored.  Usually this was justified but this band should have gotten some credit.  Bozart hailed from Minneapolis and was made of just two members: guitar (baritone I think) and drums.  I am yet to meet one other person who has ever gotten into this band and that totally bums me out.  Both of their records are unique adventures that really should have gotten more talk.
  • Jucifer: “Lambs” – I generally do not care for this band at all.  The 2001 “Lambs” EP is the outlier and it fucking rocks.  Perhaps one of the best guitar tones ever put to tape can be found on this opening track.   I could listen to that first chord crashing on repeat for hours and never get sick of it. 
  • Storm and Stress: “Micah Gaugh Sings It All” – This is a love it or hate it track from a love it or hate it band.  I love it.  That is all…
  • Heldon: “Omar Diop Blondin” – Heldon was a French group in the 70’s that pretty much worshipped the ground that Fripp, Eno, and Manzanera walked on….and rightfully so.  While wearing these influences prominently on their sleeve, they managed to create some amazing explorations that would make the masters proud.  This particular track meanders though phased out space before settling into a dense groove halfway through.  Truly great stuff.
  • Black Breath: “Black Sin (Spit on the Cross)” – Black metal + punk is an equation that did not think would work well but Seattle’s Black Breath succeeds.   Their blistering guitar and throat shredding vocals have pushed this album into an almost guaranteed spot in my best of 2010. 
  • John Fahey: “Steamboat Guine ‘Round de Bend” – I am ending this mix with the master himself.  This is perhaps one of Fahey’s most intoxicating pieces.  His expressiveness with six strings is simply unmatched and it never ceases to amaze me.    This is the original version of the song which can be found on the 1972 album “Of Rivers and Religion”.

 Download the mix here: http://www.mediafire.com/?5t86ifhg68x3gs3

The 9/11 Mosque is nothing more than global ideological theater.  They are free to do what they want, but it appears to be naked, cynical provocation.  If this is the way Imams want to build cultural bridges with us, then they are more tone-deaf than Wings era Linda McCartney. I’ve never seen the far left in such support of any other religious building. Something doesn’t smell right and I’m openly wondering if they instinctively side with any culture or idea that is in opposition to traditional American values no matter the issue. Somehow I think my old liberal icons wouldn’t be so quick to defend diversity and fake communion when the other side was so obviously disingenuous.

Those salty n sugary bar peanuts may be the best snack ever. I’ve been snarfing them for 30 years and I’m still astonished at how they satisfy. Every damn time.

The cast of “Jersey Shore” should be bundled with the freeks of “Whale Wars” or the madmen of “Deadly Catch”.  I would watch that with religious fervor.

I wonder: If a LARGE endangered woodpecker decides that it has a moral imperative to rip apart my windowsills, am I allowed at some point to abandon “feel good” remedies and kill a bitch? If CarrotTop was sitting on my roof, peeling off shingles, out of his mind on steroids looking for a mate and licking psychedelic frogs, I could at least call the police.  There’s serious damage happening and I have no recourse.

It’s never a good idea to buy sushi from Wal-Mart.

The whole Obama “Hope and Change” thingy seems to have hit a brick wall at 150 mph.  Turns out, there’s a big difference between charged collegiate rhetoric and actual reality. Go figure. As usual, every nasty dickhead mocks our youthful idealism and uses the opportunity to advance hideous totalitarianism. That doesn’t make us “more bad” but it does say something about many others, especially the UN which is a fancy talkin’, limp dick disaster enabler.  I wouldn’t trust these pompous fatcats with the copper in my walls, much less some ideal of individual rights.

Traditional liberalism is necessary in a free and open society, but “Progressivism” and its main tenant of central planning and sniffy elites ruling by a removed judiciary is Orwell creepy. Count me out.

Any Hollywood pinhead that lectures me about plastic bags or bottles, then hops a private jet to Cannes to promote a movie should be forced to live with Sean Hannity in a KFC dumpster for six  months. While I stand outside laughing like a madman and pissing on them.

The immigration issue is tearing me in half! I don’t want to punish anybody, but you can’t have millions of illegals in a country and not expect a firestorm. I’m uncomfortable with certain xenophobic elements on the right and equally disturbed by the shameless pandering on the left. Business wants cheap labor, the progressives NEED millions of victimized votes. It’s a mess. Perhaps the biggest devil of all is the Mexican government itself. They get billions in quasi-legal dollars, a valve that lets millions escape unnecessary poverty and sanctioned corruption. AND a white devil to the north on which they can blame most of their self-imposed problems. There is no reason, but BAD government, why Mexico should be so poor. Why isn’t the focus on the absolute failure of Mexican governance? Why do they get a fucking PASS?

Goddamn mosquitoes. My stream is a beastly, overgrown nightmare. Atlanta in August is the worst of all possible worlds. There’s no-see-ums and chiggers and beetles the size of your thumb that shriek like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby when you disturb them. Every year at this time I inappropriately wish for a Monsoon of biblical proportion to wash all the bitey nastiness away.

 The owls and turtles are nice. I like them quite a bit. But the bats freak me right the fuck out. 

Why am I broke all the time lately? Who were those people who broke down in front of my house in the middle of the night? What is making that noise in my attic? What is that rash on my shins all about? Why won’t my sneakers stay tied anymore?

Did the vet overcharge? Why are my ears getting so hairy? Am I turning into my father? Is Yvonne humoring me just to shut me up?

Somebody should clean those stairs. Fancy lettuce is good, but pulled pork tastes better. Those pillows need a good scrubbing. I’d tell a client to suck dick if I wasn’t desperate for income. My knee hurts. Why is the guest bathroom dirty when no one but me uses it? My bifocals SUCK. I need to replace that eco-friendly bulb with something that actually illuminates the fucking room… Is that a heel spur?

I need to flip the bed. Is Holden getting an ear infection? (He sure is scratching a lot.) We need to go through the closets and boxes and garage and sell a bunch of shit on eBay. What is that rare pottery worth? Is that lazy numbnut across the street fuckin with my property values? What is that faint whumping sound in the front end of the Mercedes?  (Whatever it is, it’s not going to be good.) Should we even insure the Xterra anymore?

I’d sell a ton of CDs, but it aint worth the effort. I’ll never listen to that Franz Ferdinand, but I’ll be damned if I sell it for a buck. That wall of music looks like a bad investment, but it makes me happy.

What’s in the back of the freezer? How do you properly prepare those ancient Chinese dumplings?  What the hell is that THING mummified in the vacuum sealed bag? Is the dishwasher making a weird noise? Are we out of hotdogs? Should I, can I,  grow a beard?

The Braves are tired and fading. Is Urban Meyer sane? Night time is the right time for Fahey and Townes Van Zandt.

Milk and cookies makes me happy.

My mind reels. I sit and smoke a cig and consider. Another day gone and I still have no clue.

I can’t find much to overtly disagree with Shawn about. But I did chuckle a little at his indignation.

CBS programming is chock full of cretinous buttweasels? Check.

The PTC  is a reactionary relic whose members fart dust? Check.

The only person in this story who isn’t  full of shit is the shit-talking father in the original Twitter feed. He may be a living, breathing American icon, albeit a PC incorrect one that is fast fading from collective consciousness. I suspect that Shit My Dad Says has become so popular  because it taps into the almost inexplicable chaffing most of us feel at the daily prescriptions for “correct” dialogue we are told we must adhere to.  Most of us want to say things, but can’t because of fear of  being drummed out of polite company. We laugh, often in shock, and secretly admire those that no longer give a fuck what others think of them. Also, he seems cranky and blunt, but never unnecessarily cruel.  And it should be noted that at least in the beginning, he was unaware that his pearls of wisdom would be consumed by anyone other than his son. (One does suspect a bit of creative editing.)

The second point  worth noting is that mass appeal entertainment media have always appropriated edgy performers, sanded the edges off and turned it into pablum. The ENTIRE POINT of most broadcast TV fare is to pretend to push some button and then give you a few moments of vanilla sandwiched between commercials. Whether it’s Pat Boone neutering “Tutti Frutti” or the Gidget “surf” movies of the early 60’s,  mainstream entertainment frequently shamelessly nabs ideas from the artistic vanguard, dumbs it down and proclaims it as something new.

Which is why you can draw a shakey line between Lenny Bruce to George Carlin to Steve Martin to Bob Saget hosting “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

There is more than a little hucksterism at work here. I’m not going to defend the PTC. I’m sure they are not the kind of people I want to sit around and read “Tropic Of Cancer” with. But they do seem to have a purpose and not just as some kind of wimpy cultural speedbump so slight that nobody really slows down. They are a natural foil (anyone that has ever taken Literature:101 knows that conflict is central to any story) and CBS is using them as a patsy.

CBS wants “initial buzz” and controversy. Then they want a show that will appeal to the greatest number of nimrods that still sit around snarfing Crunch N Munch and watch broadcast TV. They will “focus-group” and tweak this thing until it ends up being “Goofy Stuff My Pop Sez” and make it a game show with a charming host,  precocious kids and their wonderful but bewildered fathers. Sort of a “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, but in reverse and with Whoopi Goldberg instead of Art Linklater.

They get to pretend to be a victim of censorship and still get to take the original brilliant nugget and turn it into absolute drivel. Which is what they wanted to do in the first place!

CBS is a tired venue rapidly losing significance. The PTC long ago lost whatever muscle it had. (not ever that much I suspect)  Cable, the internet and Redbox have beat their ass like a steel cage match between Mike Tyson versus Emo Phillips.  Seriously, when was the last time anyone turned to CBS for edgy comedy? Does the Golden Girls count?

The entire thing would be sad if not so predictable. I don’t blame the creator for cashing in, but it seems incredibly ill advised if he thought he was going to see his original intent retained in any perceivable form. He should have sold it to HBO or Showtime and kept the title. Jerry Stiller should have been the Dad. Now THAT’S a show I would have wanted to see.

$#*! WTF?!

Ok, so Twitter. I know it exists. I have very little use for it. The bands I’m interested in don’t use it. The “news” organizations that do tweet make the best use of it that they can I suppose. I’m just typically around a TV or computer whenever I want to catch up on the news. Maybe one day there’ll be a catastrophe. Maybe one day I’ll be out for a stroll, nary a laptop or mobile device in sight, and the Chevy Volts are spontaneously going kablooie and it’s unsafe to be any closer than 600 feet to one, let alone accept a ride in one, and maybe on that day I’ll wish I’d been following CNN. And my friends, to my knowledge, don’t use it. One asshat acquaintance does use Twitter, doddering on and on about himself. @AnnoyingDouche, I don’t care that the new Cantina tacos at Taco Bell “can’t compare to the authentic ones in TJ!”, nor that you believe that “Arcade Fire has yet to hit its prime!” So, what use have I?

None.

However, I do not live under a rock. I have been aware for some time of the Twitter feed, Shit My Dad Says. I don’t follow, but I get the premise. Guy, 29, lives with his dad, and tweets the misanthropic gems that come out of his mouth. Here’s a sample: “I lost 20 pounds…How? I drank bear piss and took up fencing. How the fuck you think, son? I exercised.” Stop and ponder for a minute how much better off we’d be had we all been raised by dads like this. I can tell you one thing. There’d be no Justin Bieber let loose on the Earth. Of that much, I am sure. Here’s another: “You seen my cell phone?…What’s it look like? Like two horses fucking. It’s a phone, son. It looks like a phone.” This stuff is actually funny.

Here’s where it stops being funny.

CBS picks up this premise for a new show. I don’t know that that’s ever happened before. A pitch for a prime time show for a major network in 140 characters or less. Look, I know that Hollywood is desperate for ideas. We seem to be mired in ironic, tongue-in-cheek remakes of average material from the 80s, repetitive sing and dance competitions, and stab-me-in-the-eyes musicals. So, I can really appreciate that someone had the good sense to even consider Twitter as a potential source of material. I imagine some nineteen year old up-and-comer brings this to the higher ups, designs a slick Powerpoint presentation around a couple of the tweets and, not having a frame of reference for anything pre-1984, says, “I’m thinking, like, a young Ashton Kutcher type for the son, and maybe, oh I don’t know, maybe a, like, a Seinfeld type for the dad.” The suits mull it for about thirty seconds, and reply, “How about Bill Shatner?” The kid, he has no clue who that is, but he looks them dead in the eyes, smiles and says, “Funny, I was about to say Bill next.” They congratulate each other on working this one up good. The old guys have filled one more thirty minute slot, the kid gets an office, and this thing is on.

But now we got a problem. What the hell do we call this thing. Listen, we’re CBS. We’re not going to trot out a show called “Shit My Dad Says.” Do you know what kind of a field day Glenn Beck is going to have with that? But, the kid, he’s all hip to the internet. Real savvy, this one. So he sends out an email, and he suggests “$#*! My Dad Says.” Well, holy shit. The guys in charge run this by their ultracool teenagers to make sure that all the kids know this new internet shorthand, and when Rumour, Badge, Chazz, Isis, Safari, Silver, Mojo, and Moxie can all decode these symbols this thing has got the green light.

The following Monday they give the kid the keys to the blowjob room and he probably gets a producer credit on the show.

So, we’re gold. Well hold on, because there’s one group that hasn’t yet weighed in. The Parents Television Council. Yep. I’m sure that there was more than the average wailing and gnashing of teeth on the day they learned of this new show. But, surely they’re not brain-dead. There’s no way that anyone seriously believed that CBS was going to air a show called “SHIT My Dad Says,” was there? I don’t know, because they only came out of the woodwork all up in arms about $#*!. That’s right. They actually got their panties in a wad over the symbols that were used in place of the actual word. Further, PTC President Tim Winter expressed outrage over the fact that “CBS intentionally chose to insert an expletive into the actual name of a show, and, despite its claim that the word will be bleeped, it is just CBS’ latest demonstration of its contempt for families and the public.”

So let me try and get my head around this. Is it that the symbols used in place of the word, and the bleeping of the spoken word are too much together? Is it that anybody who’s been alive on the planet for more than two years will be able to effortlessly decode that and understand that the sneaky, subversive CBS really means “shit,” and having successfully placed that idea in the heads of a few million people that this fragile society we’ve built will collapse in on itself. Is not thinking “shit,” let alone not saying it the linchpin to this whole thing? Is it that “shit” is a gateway word? And if this one gets by, our kids are going to hear “tits” on Spongebob, and our wives will learn of the “alligator fuckhouse” on The View? What’s got Tim Winter all hot and bothered?

Because he warns, “The PTC will wage an unrelenting campaign against every network advertiser that chooses to support this program; and in this instance, we will wage an unrelenting campaign against every local advertiser sponsoring the program at the affiliate station level.”

He goes on to say, “We will challenge the broadcast license of every network affiliate that chooses to air the program before 10 pm or that chooses to air a promotion of the program before 10 pm.”

FYI, The Federal Communications Commission allows for more mature programming to be broadcast from 10 pm to 6 am.

Meanwhile, CBS gets all this free controversy and publicity for a show that, in all probability, will suck. I mean, come on, it’s CBS. They will completely rip all of the humor out of this premise. They’ll have to. The language, the way this guy talks, the way a LOT of us talk, is what’s funny. And as much as I’d like to see it, you cannot put that shit on CBS at 8:30 on a Thursday night.

In fact, the emasculation of the show has already begun. CBS insists that the title of the show is read as “Bleep My Dad Says.” Odds are, they’ll probably just drop this charade closer to the air date, and that will become the actual title of the show.

So there we are. Unable to say the word. Unable to print the mnemonic substitute. You know who would really have a field day with this shit?

You are missed, George.

Watching the evening news

I decided to torture myself and watch an hour of local Atlanta news, write down the major stories and then try to make sense of what they told me. Yes, this does imply that I do not have a life.

1) A California judge negated Proposition 8 and a historic 59% majority California vote.

What I thought:  My head hurts. Can one judge overrule 7 million votes? Is that good or is that bad? (Lots of thinking. Gee, my head hurts even more.) Some gay men have very carefully sculpted hair. That’s a chick? Does this mean public school teachers can go to work in drag?  Gay bars sometimes have interesting decor.

What I learned: I want a moosehead with a pink boa draped around its neck.

2) Kagan confirmed to the Supreme Court.

What I thought: Nancy Pelosi is attempting to smile which looks kinda weird. The Republicans look dismayed and discombobulated. Obama has two Supreme Court nominees in less tha 21 months. I had no idea that you could be on the Supreme Court with no judicial experience. She seems likable. There are now no Protestants on the Supreme Court. (good or bad, I dunno, but worthy of debate.)

What I learned: High Court justices are often not very good looking.

3) There is a heat wave on the East Coast while the West Coast is experiencing one of the coolest summers in decades.

What I thought: Who truly knows what is going on? Computer models are deeply flawed. I kinda wish I was in Santa Cruz. (65 degrees) I wonder what my electric bill will be this month?

What I learned: Dagmar Midcap has a strange name and probably looks amazing naked.

4) Various roads in Atlanta are experiencing serious traffic problems.

What I thought:  Tell me something new, bitch. I wish I had a helicopter, or at least a beater with a railroad tie for a bumper. Or one of those monster trucks with twin machine guns mounted on the hood.

What I learned: Absolutely nothing that I did not already know.

5) There was a major gas leak that caused a bunch of problems.

What I thought: Gee, there seem to be an awful lot of these. Maybe we should be more careful. That shit could hurt somebody. Are there a bunch of pirates digging willy-nilly everywhere? I’ll bet if we fined companies or made people pay for the cost of repairing there would be less of this shit. Who layed these gas lines, the Confederate Army? (Answer: yes)

What I learned: Absolutely nothing.

5) An apartment complex caught on fire.

What I thought: I’m glad I don’t share walls with dirtbag reprobates anymore. Who doesn’t understand that grills and plank siding are a problem? Should apartments require fire extinguishers?  What kind of moron fires up a grill on a wood deck attached to a wood building and walks away for an extended amount of time?  Are they that fascinated by Jerry Springer? Should they be allowed to drive?

What I learned: Apartment complexes are filled with idiots that can’t be trusted with matches and charcoal.

6) Gaza is a tinderbox ready to explode.

What I thought:  Jews and Arabs have issues that even Dr Phil couldn’t solve.  I’ve known so many superlative individuals from both camps, but collectively they are all fucking maniacs. Iran, Syria and the Saudis are sponsoring some hellish stuff. Israel often doesn’t make things any better.

What I learned: The Gaza border is recognized by the UN as official, but the Palestinians say fuck that shit Shadrach.

7) Some local kid is making a boat of sorts out of discarded plastic water bottles and wants to take it across the Atlantic.

What I thought: That kid has a lot of moxy. He is also a repressed, deluded chronic masturbator with OCD tendencies. Of course, there is some sort of braying lecture about the environment. I wouldn’t trust it on Lake Lanier. His parents look like they belong to a cult. The only way this Thor Heyerdahl wet dream makes it across the Atlantic is in the hold of some enormous tanker.  Probably harmless, but could turn dangerous. Worth keeping an eye on.

What I learned: Sometimes parents encourage things that have no chance of succeeding. Shameless news hucksters often egg them on.

8) Pregnant women can develop a rare, if fatal heart condition.

What I thought: Way to go, local news. Create hysteria. Some 23 year old chick in Smyrna needs a heart transplant and you turn it into a WARNING for all expectant mothers. You should be ashamed. If an airbag deploys when you are rushing to give birth it can cause serious problems too.  Is it better to speed to the hospital with or without airbags in the car? GIBBERISH.

What I learned: Local news will deliberately skew statistics in their “Health Watch” promos to get you to sit through bad car commercials.

9) Some dude in Belarus supposedly celebrated his 113th birthday.

What I thought: I want to see some official birth certificate. Homey could be 56 for all I know. All that whiffy Communist era paper isn’t worth shit. Kudos to you, Sir, for surviving untold insurrections no matter your actual age.  Botox, dentistry and interior decorating has obviously never touched your fair country.  A goat in the bedroom, REALLY?  His wife claims to be 63 and looks older than he does. Beautiful country, but if outdoor toilets contribute to longevity, I’ll take a pass.

What I learned: The yakking  jackanapes on local TV will put anything on as a closer no matter how dubious the authenticity.

What I learned overall after watching local news all the way through:

Kagan is kinda butch. Apartments are often full of idiots. The gas mains in Atlanta are either unbelievably frail or there are thousands of unsupervised idiots playing with heavy machinery. Gay bars have interesting decoration. It’s hot as fuck  in Atlanta in the summer. Sometimes parents should guide their children into worthwhile hobbies instead of encouraging suicide runs. Jews and Arabs hate each other more than you can imagine.  Nearly all pregnancies in this country end up well except when they don’t.  Traffic sucks during rush hour.  Birth certificates in Belarus are more rare than supermodels. 

Most importantly, what I learned was that I wasted an hour and learned less than if I was submerged in a sensory deprivation tank.  It was nuuz for the dim. A  suckhole of false knowledge that pretends to expand your horizons and give you insight to the world around you, but in reality does the exact opposite.

True, the incredibly MILFy Dagmar did let me know if there was some bad weather coming my way.  But, it’s nothing I couldn’t learn from my transistor radio and the local fire station horn. 

I suppose there was some minor traffic info that might help me if I was running out the door.

Sadly, all the hard news was compressed into a few bites that presented less information than a local high school news paper.  I learned absolutely NOTHING about Kagan and why she may or may not be important other than she is cool as hell because she is a woman. I learned NOTHING about Gaza other than some stock AP wartime travelogue type footage. I learned NOTHING about the Gay-Rights issue in California.

I’m not trying to be a dick, but I DIDN’T LEARN ANYTHING. If I depended on CBS to inform my world view I would be as hapless, clueless and ignorant as a North Korean.  You could learn more details about the important issues of the day from any above average high school newspaper. That is so sad.

However, I do think I detected faint nipple bumps on Dagmar and that was fun.

Chevy Volt: EPIC FAIL

Before I begin this rant I should say that I am a car fan, but not a car nut. I watch Top Gear religiously, but have never picked up an auto magazine. I believe that certain autos like the Bugatti Veyron are works of high art, the pinnacle of technology and style.  I also appreciate, but could never love, the common Toyota Camry for being an affordable low maintenance A to B device that does what it was built to do with a minimum of fuss and flash.

I understand that certain cars are built for certain purposes. The Rav4 is an acceptable small SUV that is popular for a reason. It is perfect for an urban couple that needs more space than the average sedan can offer. It’s also about as useful as tits on a bullfrog for a suburban family of four with a couple  labrador retrievers. Likewise, the Escalade, a honkin Deathstar, seems out-of-place anywhere;  lunky in urban tight spaces and not utilitarian enough to perform the duties an SUV was designed to do. It was designed to haul around rapstars and Jersey Shore wannabe mafiosi and as such has become a parody of its original form and function.  (re: the Hummer and “rugged individualists”.) UGH.

I like the IDEA of hybrids (or hydrogen, or all-electric or magical unicorn piss or whatever) but reality keeps intruding on my potential ardor. I see concept cars that look cooler than early Tarantino and then when they are produced they are about as exciting as a weekend at your grandma’s listening to her natter about her Hummel figurines.

The Prius is the most successful. It’s certainly not offensive in any tangible way. (Other than the inevitable Greenpeace bumper stickers and the smirky smiles on the self-righteous ponytailed asshats that pilot them. ) The design could be called “instantly forgettable”, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it aint making me rush out to buy one either. They cost quite a bit more than a comparably equipped all gas Toyota, but if people want a chimeric feel-good totem that accomplishes nothing, then good for them.

The Nissan LEAF is so estrogen soaked that it makes those little flower vases in the revamped VW Beetles look like  turnbuckles in a WWE  ring.  It makes the Prius look like a monster truck. They should decal an enormous labia on the hood.  There are even cute little LED leafs on the dash that helpfully inform you that you are saving the bat-eared Tasmanian anteater every time it switches to battery power. I suppose this is all well and good, and I’m not dense about niche marketing, but I could never drive a car that makes me feel like I am wearing a sundress and a pair of cute but sensible pumps.

Then there is the fever dream called the Chevy Volt.  This is a car that appeals to NO ONE.  An unholy union of the bailout, wonky academic lecturing about what the American public SHOULD BE DRIVING IF THEY ONLY KNEW WHAT WAS GOOD FOR THEM, bloated unions, piss poor rushed design, horrific management, hastily retooled lines and what can only be described as a sardonic sense of humor.

There have been many bad American cars. The Pacer, the Gremlin, the Pinto. Iacocca’s boxy K-Cars. (although they at least were easy to work on, which one had to do often.)  More recently there was the Pontiac Aztec, a design so bad that they were at one time the LEAST stolen car in America.

But nothing comes close to the perfect storm of craptacularness that is the Volt.

The Volt concept car wasn’t rancid (although the presentation captured above should have been a huge clue) but something funny happened on the way to the Forum.  The original design was scrapped and the cracker jack GM arteests went to work with predictable dismal result. It’s not exactly feminine, but neither is it male.  It’s a cringing whelp that needs a third bathroom.

It gets 40 MILES to a charge. New suggested catchphrase: Chevy Volt! “Explore Your Block!” 

 Both the Prius and Leaf are far superior.

It seats FOUR because of the enormous, ungainly battery that  awkwardly splits the back seat. The Prius and Leaf seat five.

It costs 41 thousand dollars. (Stop. Let that sink in.) The New York Times review said that it had the “fit, finish and feel of a fifteen thousand dollar car.”  It has less space inside than the Chevy “Cruise” which when loaded costs less than 20K.

The gas engine only takes PREMIUM. (Let THAT sink in.)

The performance and handling are “sub par”.  (Car and Driver)  The reliability is unknown. The Lithium battery was produced in a Korean plant subsidized by 150 million in hasty, willy-nilly stimulus cash. I can’t help but be gobsmacked by 150 million tax payer dollars going to a factory in Korea to make a questionable battery for a car that no one is going to buy.

The first “few thousand” (no specifics) will receive a FREE home charging station! (Hells to tha yeees, but wait.)  After that, it will be an extra charge. (Again undetermined, but probably around a grand.)  This is a “dedicated system”, meaning that one must have special converters, etc to charge.  It would seem to be like buying a very expensive toy, with a rare battery type and finding out you need to buy an entire separate kit just to make the thing do anything other than look pretty in the box.

To recap: 1) It looks like a bowl of fuck. 2) It has less performance than its rivals. 3) It costs thousands more than said rivals. 4) It’s gonna fall apart like a Chinese wristwatch. 4) Did I mention it costs more, thousands more?

A GM internal marketing memo revealed this week states: “The major target is Southern California…more specifiically CELEBRITIES that want to make a statement.”  That’s exactly what I want for my tax dollars. Ashton Kutcher parking one of these publicly funded abortions in his cavernous Malibu garage next to the smokin Aston Martin and pulling it out when he wants to lecture me on my carbon footprint, then going back home to his palatial mansion on the Pacific and banging Demi in the infinity pool, snacking on sushi and jetting off to Cannes to preen and promote his next idiotic movie. Your tax dollars in action. This is retard GENIOUS.

What’s not to love????

Finally, if all that didn’t make you weep for the future of GM under union and government control, there is the matter of ACTUAL cost. GM was the recipient of 50 BILLION bailout dollars. The actual total when you count all the back alley siphoning is close to 80 Billion.  We get the VOLT?

At least when the Soviets made the Lada, it had a certain “common man” sense. It was a coal belching two-stroke made out of soup cans and cheap plastic. You could repair it with a pair of pliers,  scrap rubber and tin snips.  The Germans nationalized their main car company and developed the Volkswagen, a simple design that was still viable decades later. (I was driving, and working on, a perfectly roadworthy 1965 Bug in 1984)

On the other hand, the entirely subsidized, highly questionable Korean battery pack that can take you 10 miles away before you need to limp home, glancing constantly at the dash, will cost you at least 5K to replace.

And this is the core of my philosophical problem. If we are going to attempt to socialize the auto industry, wouldn’t the first  statement be to make it affordable for the masses? It’s not so bad to make it ugly or rickety or unpleasant to drive. (although I will admit that I do not lie awake at night hoping for any combination of the previous three.)

But to have a car that costs more than an entry-level Mercedes, BMW or Audi, that looks and feels like an unfinished first year Prius, and pricing it so far out of the market that you have to offer a $7500 tax “credit” (again, funded by tax payer dollars. *SIGH*)  to the very people who are funding this crap while marketing it to clueless Hollywood millionaire celebs is the Audacity Of  Hope that only government can attempt. Surely,  US automakers have had their ups and downs. Glorious success and deep, deep failure. But I can’t think of any other car that costs this much, delivers so little, slaps me in the face, lectures me, hoovers my wallet and falls apart quicker.  I’m a dick if I don’t buy this, and a bigger dick if I do. This is WORSE than the Edsel.  At least they are collectable. The Volt is destined to disappear into the landscape like one of those biodegradable water bottles you buy for twice as much as you should at Lilith Fair.

And since I am indignant and feeling like  elected street urchins picked my pocket, I’d like to poke a hole in the balloon of those that think battery power is better than evil oil. Do you know what it takes to mine Lithium? That shit aint lying around like pine sap. STRIP MINING, bitches.  Huge refractories looking like the third installment of Lord Of The Rings.  ORCS and rigs and molten ore and blasting mountains. Tons of raw material distilled to make a few grams of usable metal. I’m not a fan of  sending billions of dollars to unrepentant fundamentalist nomads creating distorted societies and creating wackadoo power bases whose potential in the future I can but dimly contemplate, but I can’t see, at this moment, how whiffy, feel-good, market distortions are gonna make anything better for me or anyone else.

I guess we could all suffer together, driving clusterfuck government crap cars, piling into centrally planned crap government light rail, living in crumbling bullshit government planned concrete box housing, eating officially approved diets and working for a benevolent state.  It worked so well for Rumania. 

The Chevy Volt is a harbinger. Horrific elitist coffee klatch planning for the masses with no intentions of making theirselves confirm to the same standard. They are all Ivy elites and have no clue about struggling to make the rent.  When I see Congress shuttling around in this dippy claptrap car I’ll consider it.  I have no idea why these Douche Lords that are supposed to be simple representatives of the people (public servants! HA!)  get to ride around like Caliphs and I need to buy an overpriced piece of union shit that falls apart when I floor it on the onramp.

If you are pissed at me, YOU go buy a Volt. We’ll compare notes a couple of years in the future. Was I wrong?

If the Volt is the particular new-Left American voice of the potential of the combination of  government intervention in the private sector, and I think it is, then I don’t want anything to do with it ever, under any circumstance. It is neutered, beaten, a joke. I’m not some xenophobic numbnut, but I am very aware of the importance of competiveness. If we can’t make a car better than the Volt with BILLIONS of dollars being poured into it, then we are fucked beyond recognition and must prepare to relinquish our place at the forefront of world society.

It’s that simple and that sad.

So, long story short, I met John through this very blog, and at the root of that connection is probably a borderline unhealthy obsession (well, let’s be polite and call it passion) with music. All of our communication thus far has been via email and through The Belldog. And yet, despite never having met in meatspace, John has opened up his corner of the webs to me and invited me to have my way with it. His invitation and hospitality left me intrigued, contemplative, and a bit giddy.

The experience has left me thinking again about the power of music to bring people together. Many of my deepest friendships, both old and new, are predicated on love of music. With some friends, our sensibilities are spot on. With others, we may find common ground around a period of time (say, the 1970s), or genre (Prog, perhaps), but differ significantly in the details. Regardless, that love of music has fueled those relationships throughout the years. Without getting all Bono, music can truly bring people together.

And yet, as if to remind me that the world doesn’t really work that way, I read this article earlier in the weekend: Man Punched by African-American Teen for Listening to Rap Music in Possible Hate Crime, say Police.

I don’t really know where to begin. First, somewhere over the last, I’d say four to six years, whenever I read “news” on the internet, I often find myself checking to make sure I haven’t accidentally clicked over to The Onion. In this case, I hadn’t. Second, I don’t know anything about Gucci Mane’s music. Maybe he’s just got that kind of sound that gets people fighting but, in this case, I kinda doubt it. This doesn’t seem to rise to that whole “Dylan goes electric” level. I’ll leave alone for now the entire topic of hate crime, but if hate crime laws are necessary, is this incident a hate crime? Again, I kinda doubt it.

Personally, these two occurrences seem to be one of those balances I tend to notice and to which I attach unnecessary significance. I get this thing from John that was based on our love for music. Then I read that. Maybe I unconsciously honed in on that to keep the score tight. Wouldn’t want too many things to stack up on the plus side. Might change my whole outlook.

Curtis Mayfield – Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey)