Archive for December, 2017

Godspeed Pat DiNizio

December 23, 2017 1 comment

The year 2017 has sucked on many levels. Somehow Donald Trump is our President. We nearly elected a pedophile to the US Senate. We’ve managed to kick-start the cold war. Nazis are feeling suddenly emboldened. We’ve been battered by global-warming induced hurricanes and floods (yet continue to elect people who claim global-warming isn’t real), and currently our most populous state is on fucking fire. We live under a potential mushroom cloud because some dwarf in North Korea watches too many Hollywood movies. We’re racist. We’re mean. We’re frighteningly susceptible to the most blatant forms of idiotic propaganda. Our collective IQ has plummeted. When history is written, the year 2017 is going to come with a large * asterisk. Or a least a very large Parental Advisory Sticker.

Oh, and I lost my Mom. So there’s that.

Musically, we lost Tom Petty. We lost Fats Domino. We lost Check Berry. We lost Greg Allman. We lost Chris Cornell. And we lost Pat DiNizio.

The latter hit me the hardest.

pat-dinizio-2682-2-1-819x1024You may not know Pat DiNizio. But as the leader and songwriter of The Smithereens, he fronted one of the great underrated American bands, for over 30 years. (the first CD I ever bought was “Green Thoughts” by The Smithereens) They had some radio hits in the 1980s (“Blood and Roses”. “A Girl Like You”. “Only a Memory”), and then seemingly disappeared. Except they didn’t. They continued to release great records (“God Save the Smithereens” is my personal favorite)  and tour….ignored by all except a small, dedicated fan base. DiNizio wrote 3 minute pop gems, as tight as the sheets on an army cot. Simple, instantly, insanely memorable…..filled with crunchy hooks and heavenly harmonies and the wanderlust of one who refuses to give up on love. Timeless music that will only sound dated when the Beatles and Buddy Holly and early Who singles start sounding dated. He was frequently great….always good. The Smithereens never released a bad record.

In the last few years DiNizio was doing 50+ house concerts a year….playing acoustic shows in fan’s homes for $2000 a pop. When he got sick, these same fans rallied around him via online campaigns and helped pay his medical bills. He was as down to earth as a rocker who had touched the sky can be. He worked his ass off, and loved every minute of it. He never spoke down to his fans. Even something as modest as a stage made him nervous. He preferred to perform among a crowd, not perched above it.

And when he died I was gutted in a way I hadn’t felt since we lost Kurt Cobain. Ironically, I’ve since learned that Cobain had the Smithereen’s debut “Especially For You” on a permanent loop in Nirvana’s tour van during their early years, and tried to recruit Especially For You producer Don Dixon to work on Nevermind.

What made Cobain so special was his supreme gift for melody. Underneath the blitzkrieg, Nirvana songs are as melodic as anything McCartney ever cooked up. And one of the songwriters Cobain tried to emulate was Pat DiNizio.

What it all boils down to is this. If a band makes great music in the forest for 30 years and nobody hangs out in the forest anymore, is it still great music?

Like Cobain, I now travel with the Smithereens for company. I’ve listened to nothing else since DiNizio passed. It makes me happy. It makes me sad. As a songwriter it makes me jealous. I wish he was still here.

Pat DiNizio, a man responsible for some of the most enjoyable 3 minute snippets of my half-century long life, is dead. So yea, it’s been a shitty year and this is simply the cherry on the sundae.

But it’s the music that matters to me. More than the silly politics and all the dumb racist fools who clutter my world these days. When I close the car windows and turn “A Girl Like You” on….at Spinal Tap-ian volume….I’m at least reminded of what we’re capable of. And that gives me hope. And I’m reminded that it’s possible to do it all with class and decency, with grit and determination, with humor and a lack of hubris, with honest hard work, and with a merry band of friends who share your rock and roll dreams.

Thank you Pat DiNizio. For everything. Godspeed.

In a bit..


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Where do we go from here?

December 9, 2017 Leave a comment

I don’t know where we go from here. I really don’t. We’re in uncharted waters. The President of the United States has implicitly endorsed a child molester. The Republican leadership, in their disgraceful silence and “let Alabama voters decide” dog whistles, have done the same. Even if he didn’t molest young girls, Alabama’s Roy Moore should have been pelted with rotten fruit the minute he walked on a public stage. He’s a repulsive human being. Homophobic. A blatant racist. A man who shits on the idea of the separation of church and state. An embarrassment to his state and his country. Mean as a rattlesnake and dumb as a 10 pound bag of fertilizer. The fact this he was deemed too creepy for even his hometown mall should be just be another nail in his well deserved coffin of shame. But instead….

171204131505-01-donald-trump-roy-moore-splitMoore is about to be elected to the United States Senate. Alabama’s republican voters either don’t believe the multiple credible accounts of Moore being a predator, or they don’t believe that being a sexual predator while running on the now typical “family values Jesus 10 commandment sharia law is coming etc…” platform is a disqualifying….you know….thing. (It is disqualifying if one is a democrat, of course…see “Conyers…Franken et al”). A large bloc of Moore’s support comes from women, which, in case you are keeping score at home, disproves the theory that ignorance has been largely perfected by dumb white guys. Sorry ladies.

George Wallace was paralyzed, so I’m not sure if he’d be able to roll over in his grave, but something tells me even the Nathan Bedford Forrest of the 20th Century would be groaning over this one.

And what of our nation’s leader? A man quite familiar with credible sexual assault accusations, currently fending off 19 of them. His defense? That every single woman is lying. The response of his supporters? “But her emails…..”

The President is leading the charge from his bully-pulpit, tossing red-meat over the Alabama border last night from a rally in Pensacola, Florida that sorta resembled something cooked up either by the Klan or the editorial offices of The Daily Stormer. The rest of the world looks on in appalled fascination. To a large degree, our nation has gone completely batshit crazy……allowing a pathologically lying, ignorant buffoon with a 4th grade vocabulary to become our moral compass. The man bragged of being able to “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”, and for once, he didn’t appear to be lying. Defenses I’ve personally heard of his support of a sexual predator include “but it’s Alabama”, “but he denied it”, “but her emails (seriously, people have invoked Hillary)”, “these women are all lying”, “this is what you get for 8 years of Obama” and “I don’t care, my 401k is doing great”.

This is Twilight Zone stuff, people. I mean….how low can we go? Are we not already approaching the water table?

And hey, I get it. I’m a libtard. A communist. A socialist. Whatever the insult du jour is. Bring it on. I really don’t care. You don’t agree with me. I think you’re nuts too. We can meet at a bar and drink to our mental illnesses.

I’ve got some far out views….I think college should be free for one (if only to prevent the staggering national dumbness required in electing Trump in the first place). I don’t hate brown people. I don’t hate gay people. I don’t give a shit that NFL players kneel during the national anthem to protest what they see as systematic racism. I want to slash your precious military budget like a paper-mache doll and use the savings for social programs.  I always considered Reagan a total knob. I don’t think Hillary Clinton drinks the blood of pre-aborted babies. I’m a raging atheist who wants to tax all of your silly little churches. I’d love to come and take all your automatic weapons away. And I don’t want to build your ridiculous fucking wall. So there. I said it. I’m the enemy.

And I’m just as patriotic as you think you are.

But still, I think sexual predators are a bad thing. And I always assumed you did too.

But now, we disagree on even THAT.

You are about to support the election of Roy fucking Moore to the United States Senate….in the midst of a string of ongoing Congressional resignations for sexual transgressions,….all the while taking your cues from a man who bragged of being able to “….grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” A contemptible, misogynistic piece of shit who just happens to be the President of the United States.

Well fucking done. Don’t just blame Alabama. This one’s on you too. Hell, maybe it’s on all of us.

In a bit..


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