Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holiday Greetings From Death

Hi, everybody.

I just thought I'd take a moment and wish you all a safe and joyful season. I hope you find happiness during the holidays. It's a very special time to me.

I bet you thought I was more of a Halloween kind of guy, didn't you? Nope. That day lost its appeal a long time ago. Halloween is not really about death anymore. It used to be, back when most of you were peasant farmers. You'd be anxious about the harvest and terrified your dead relatives would come back from the grave and appear scratching at your window at night. You'd light bonfires and chant spells and leave small piles of food at the graveyard gate. Fun times.

Now Halloween is all about dressing like a skank and making bad decisions. It's about trying to get those pictures off Facebook the next day. Bright and loud and garish -- it's about life, really. So when you people weren't looking... I sorta crept into Christmas.

It's a perfect fit, really. You come back to your hometown, and everyone's older. You drink too much and sulk. The same songs and rituals are never as good as they were last year, or the year before. And of course some of the people from last year didn't make it to the party. Meanwhile all these young, fresh-faced punks are crowding around the tree, or gossiping near the mistletoe. You're being replaced. Every one of you. The party goes on all night, but soon it'll be your time to say your goodbyes and step out the door. And baby, it's cold outside.

Heh. Don't mean to be such a downer. It's just my way. But look at it like this: the holidays are a great time to take stock. Especially with that big number on the calendar flipping over soon. And me sitting out in the driveway, warming up the car for you and waiting, lights off and the engine running. I mean, if you didn't have to leave you'd never get around to doing anything worthwhile. You know that about yourselves, don't you? You're procrastinators.

Take some advice from an old guy who's seen a lot of regret: Think small next year. When you're sketching out your plans during that last week of December, don't keep trying to turn your entire life into something completely different. Everybody does that. And you've all failed by March, forgotten by April, and by next Black Friday you're haunted by me again. Stop trying to fight for something you've never had and you're not even sure you want. Instead think of the life you have right now, and the people around you. Tell yourself that this year, you're going to be a slightly better version of the person you've spent your whole life becoming. It makes more sense. It's doable. In the end you'll fail anyway. But I think you'll have a nicer time.

Take this as the only gift I'll ever give you. Next time we meet I will not be gracious. But why dwell? Enjoy yourself and stay off the roads if you've had a few. Because that just makes more work for me. And I like to take it easy. Believe me, next year will be busy enough. But you'll find out about all that later.

Merry, merry. Be seeing you. Bye.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dick Cheney: American Songwriter

How can u just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that's so cold?
Maybe I'm just 2 demanding.
Maybe I'm just like my father, 2 bold.
Maybe you're just like my mother.
She's never satisfied.
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry.

Very few people realize these words were written about the Ford administration.

Their author, a 39 year-old Congressman from Wyoming, scribbled them down on a napkin in a DC-area bar as he reminisced about his time serving as White House Chief of Staff during the political turmoil of the Nixon pardon and the race against Jimmy Carter. A young musician from Minneapolis, MN would reach out to this statesman in the years that followed. Richard B. Cheney would find his talent nurtured in the company of people like Sheila E., Morris Day, and Carmen Electra. And his words would touch a generation. Most people know Cheney as the Secretary of Defense, and for his later work in subsequent presidential administrations. They don't appreciate him as a musical force, a hitmaker, an artist of depth and power.

"That guy just blows me out of the water," says London-area composer Elvis Costello. "He's written for everyone. I mean, everyone. He's done country. He has worked with classical acts. I'm pretty good. But Cheney's balls are just bigger than mine. There's nothing he wouldn't do."

Indeed, in a career as rich and varied as Cheney's he's found plenty of opportunity to showcase his nerve and audacity. Some of his songs have become controversial, even infamous. And he's attracted the attention of those in power.

"Tipper tried to shut him down for years," says Al Gore in an exclusive interview at his Antarctic biodome. "She just knew he was the guy behind some of the filthiest stuff out there. Shit, 2 Live Crew never wrote a single one of their songs. That was all stuff Dick was writing under an assumed name back during the first Bush administration."

"They say 'Sugar Walls' was really about Lynne," Gore adds, "but that's just a rumor. And quite frankly, I'd rather not think about it."

"Don't get me wrong," music fan and political staffer Paul Wolfowitz says. "He did soulful, romantic songs as well. I actually think he had too much talent to be going dirty like that. It was a gimmick from his earlier career. The real Dick Cheney waits out the grunge movement and reappears in the mid-1990's. He works at Halliburton and collaborates with Radiohead on Pablo Honey. That was what he really wanted to do. That and screwing Saddam out of the Kuwaiti oil we promised him."

Much of his catalog, is of course, a closely-guarded secret. Many artists who have worked with him are coy about his involvement.

"I'm not going to shit you and say Cheney had nothing to do with it," says Thom Yorke, about the creative process that went into Honey. "But it's easy to just say he was everywhere during that time, you know? He's like a fuckin' bogeyman. Everyone sees him in everywhere. But no one can do that much."

"I disagree. I completely disagree," Ryan Schreiber of Pitchfork says flatly when told of Thom Yorke's assessment. "If you look at the songs we know Dick Cheney produced during that time they consistently garnered commercial and critical success. We've given him at least seven ratings of 9.5 or more. Cheney's the real thing. Yorke's probably pissed off people are realizing he did some of the band's best work."

"You know what 'Stop Whispering' was called before Cheney got to it?" he adds. "It was called 'Feelin' Dandy.'"

"Dude is an artistic chameleon," adds Rick Rubin, a longtime Cheney supporter, who also produces music. "That's why people doubt how wide his influence is. You don't think the same guy who writes Benatar's 'We Belong' and dedicates it to Ronald Reagan can turn around, gather a group of Jennifer Love Hewitt's session musicians and transform them into The National."

"He does something behind the scenes, it changes the whole world, and you don't realize it was him until years later. Pure Cheney."

He's just as famous -- or perhaps notorious -- for the small private concerts he's given over the years, showcasing his own work.

"His riders were crazy," remembers one club owner. "Thumbprint scanners, guards from Xe everywhere, and no one could be in the building without a background check. Only Mariah Carey was that paranoid about human rights groups."

But this, like many other aspects of the reclusive artists life, is unconfirmed. Cheney himself declined an interview request with a terse statement through his lawyer. We'll let the man have the last words:

"My work speaks for itself."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Five Most Traumatic Christmas Special Moments

Christmas, as everybody knows, is terrible. It's a nightmarish, pine-scented, alcohol-soaked time of the year filled with bad music and long roadtrips and stale popcorn scraps in big metal tins that sit in the office breakroom for weeks while the guy who gave it to you gets downsized and leaves crying through the back staircase. And it's also a time for remembering your childhood, and how messed up that was. Below are five TV specials that crawled into your brain and never emerged, sometime between your first dead pet and puberty. Dear Santa: Go fuck yourself.

1. The Little Drummer Boy's garish clown makeup
Above is a clip of Jane Edith Wilson describing how this screwed her up -- especially the part where the Drummer Boy gets a painted-on clown smile to help him look cheerful, even though his parents are dead. It's still slightly less disturbing than the David Bowie video.

2. The schoolteacher's brown acid freakout during Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
She sings a song called My World Is Beginning Today, and there are colors just dripping from the sky. Soon she goes to college and experiments with drug use and BDSM. And then she straightens up and becomes Mrs. Claus. And seeing this is like the first time you realized your parents have sex, times a million.

3. The Death of Frosty
Long before you saw HAL getting uplugged, or watched Roy Batty let that dove fly into the rainy sky, or squirmed while Hannibal Lecter cooked parts of Ray Liotta's brain... the scene in the greenhouse where Frosty became a pool of lifeless, ordinary water was like the first hint that the grim reaper would come for you too, one day. Hi kids! I'll be your jolly playmate right now. But as soon as things reach a comfortable temperature, I'll turn into a puddly little Memento Mori. Hurry up with the sleigh-ride, because it's later than you think!

4. The squirrel crawling over Uncle Billy during It's A Wonderful Life
Bad enough that this scene is absolutely agonizing -- the guy makes an honest mistake, and now his nephew has to kill himself for the insurance money. But this is the part where Capra has to get creepy and symbolic with us. What the fuck does that squirrel even mean? Does he represent creeping madness? The coming winter? The fact that someone needs to close a window somewhere? We never find out.

5. Wookie Porn.
You know what I'm talking about, don't you? It's the ugliest moment of the Star Wars Holiday Special, and that is a high bar to hurdle. But this combines the emotional horror of horny grandpa with the moral and aesthetic darkness of the 1970's. People saw this and they just went right to the polls and voted Ronald Reagan into office. It wasn't the hostage crisis, or disco. It was the wookie porn.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Who Was The First President To Be Called The Antichrist?

Freedom means nothing if it doesn't mean the freedom to be a jackass. In America we have spent more than two centuries proving that political principle again and again. And one of our favorite methods is demonizing -- figuratively and literally -- our fellow citizens.

After Oscar Ortega-Hernandez allegedly told investigators that he attempted to shoot Barack Obama because he thought the president was the Antichrist, Slate pointed out that people have levelled this accusation against him before. It kind of got lost in all that other stuff about how he's an atheist Muslim Manchurian candidate who faked his birth certificate so he could take power and turn this country socialist. But hey, people were also saying he was the Beast of the Apocalypse as well. Slate began to dig into this charge to see how many other presidents found themselves similarly marked. They found quotes of people saying the same thing about Kennedy and Reagan as well, and added:

Perhaps the first U.S. president suspected of being the Antichrist was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s extraordinary influence and desire to form a worldwide United Nations raised the suspicions of many conservative Christians. When President Roosevelt began to engage in diplomacy with the Soviet Union, prominent evangelist and politician Gerald Burton Winrod suggested that Roosevelt was at the very least under the influence of the Antichrist, and carrying out his plans.

That can't be the first, I thought. What about Abraham Lincoln? Above is an editorial cartoon from Punch, showing a horned Abe playing the trump card of Emancipation against the South. Anyone who took a US history class can probably remember seeing Lincoln portrayed as satanic. Below is a picture of him drafting the document that freed the slaves with a demon holding his inkwell.

But according to Harry Stout, in Upon The Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War, people on both sides of the war were "curiously reluctant" to say that their struggle was against the Antichrist. "Nor was the Antichrist identified with Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis the way he had been with George III," Stout adds. So Lincoln was more of a devil's minion, evidently.

But let's go further back:

For generations, many communities, particularly in the North, continued to regard Thomas Jefferson as Antichrist. As late as 1830 the Philadelphia Public Library refused to keep any works dealing with the life or writings of Jefferson.

This is is from Jefferson by Samuel K. Padover. And it's sort of ironic to find Jefferson's work banned in Philadelphia. I can think of at least one item he actually wrote there that sort of put the city on the map.

So that's the third president of the US. I can't find any evidence of Washington or Adams getting this kind of treatment during their own lives. Today it's a different story. Internet, do your thing:

The Illuminati is the umbrella encompassing all of the higher level Satanists.

There are 13 Satanist family bloodlines in the Illuminati. The blasphemous royal Merovingian bloodline, of the antichrist prince, is the most powerful of the 13 Satanic Illuminati bloodlines. Belonging to this most powerful Satanic bloodline was George Washington as well as George Bush. Today the very same spirit that indwelled Adolph Hitler, indwells the actor and liar and Skull & Bones fraternity brother of Adolph Hitler, George Bush. Geroge Bush is a Satanist who trys to act like a Christian to strongly delude the Christians in America to allow him to put the antichrist snare of the devil in place, not only in America, but world wide. The anti-terrorist laws are antichrist. These laws quickly passed by all "used to be free" nations of the world form the UNlawful basis for the ANTICHRIST WAR ON THE SAINTS.
That is from this website. It's hard to figure out what it's saying. But I don't suppose that matters.

Looks like Thomas Jefferson wins the race, with an honorable mention going to the Father of Our Country. You stay classy, America.
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