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Spotify stat day….

December 2, 2020 Leave a comment

Spotify is sending users their stats for the year…what we’ve been listening to and how often and for how long. I expect that during the pandemic the streaming services are booming. It’s unfortunate that this increased usage doesn’t trickle down to the artist, but since it’s 2020 we’re all quite used to being screwed so it’s just another “meh” in a line of “mehs”.

My top artists of the year are a varied lot. The Tragically Hip and Bob Mould and the Drive-By Truckers and Joe Henry and AC/DC and a big Van Halen surge when Eddie passed. I hate myself for supporting greedy devils like Spotify but it’s like a morphine drip and I’m always in pain. Being able to listen to Mozart and then the Menzingers, Beethoven and then the Badlees….and back again without getting out of my chair is obviously addictive. A shelf of disorganized CDs sits to the right of my desk at home, a quaint reminder of the past. In the other room sits my 160 gig Ipod, the Apollo spacecraft of its day, loaded up with over 25,000 songs, pretty much my CD collection digitized. Relics all, replaced in an instant by having the entire musical world on your smart phone for the cost of a 12 pack of PBR a month. It’s utterly insane how much we’ve devalued music. It sucks, but it’s great.

I’m struggling with my own addiction, as you can clearly see. But let’s try to stay positive, shall we?

And these small little blue tooth speakers are just as goofy, throwing sound back in my face with crispness and at a Spinal Tap-ian volume. I don’t know how these little things work, but my old school stereo sits across the room from me covered in dust, flanked by its 2 speakers, each the size of a college dorm-room refrigerator. And I don’t miss it one bit. Well, ok. Maybe I miss it a little. But my blue tooth is a lot easier to drag outside on warm summer nights. And it’s equally capable of annoying the neighbors.

Spotify allows me to soothe my inner geek as well. Always been a sorta-hidden power-pop-punk-emo type, which is kinda weird when my desk is piled with books by and about Woody Guthrie and Joe Strummer, but don’t judge me. I think The Wonder Years “Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing” is fucking great and if you don’t agree with me you’re wrong and kinda sad. My nieces and nephews used to be amazed that I had all the same records they did, because I’m really old compared to them, but I’m pretty sure I was blasting New Found Glory records before they were. So there. I adore bands that are melodic and fun and play hard and I don’t care what category somebody puts them in and I don’t care if it’s cool anymore. I’m not that big on the gang vocal thing, but I admit that after about 8 beers it can sound pretty catchy. About 10 years ago my aforementioned nephew got 50 of his buddies to ante up $100 each and they hosted the band Saves the Day for a backyard barbecue and I still haven’t forgiven him for not letting me sneak in.

Remember, you’re only as old (or young) as the music you listen to, which gives you lots of options, no?

So where do we go from here?

I can move on. Or I can stay entrenched.

I can search out the new, or seek shelter in the comfort of old friends.

It’s my own record store, and there’s no categories to plow through. The power-pop is next to the Merle Haggard bin, and the blues is mixed in with the sea shanties. And it’s open 24/7, and it’s even MORE open during pandemics. The doors have been ripped off their hinges, and rocks have been thrown through all the windows.

But still.

I miss unsealing the albums. The liner notes. The anticipation of dropping the needle. The waiting is the hardest part, but can you ever remember it not being worth it? The anticipation. Sometimes waiting in line on release day. You just HAD to have it….it was a point of honor. And you’d watch the record spinning as your listened, hard. If a song skipped, you just grinned and bore it…..the skip became part of the song. Later when you replaced your albums with CDs the song didn’t sound right, because the skip wasn’t there anymore.

It sucks. And it’s great.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I’ll never make up my mind.

But I’ll never stop listening.

In a bit…

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

The mask goes over your nose….

December 1, 2020 Leave a comment

It’s the holidays. The time of year when folks are usually a little bit nicer. More smiles. More laughs. More time together. The pace slows down a little on the outside. The lights go up. The fences come down. We all long for Whoville. Snoopy comes to town, with Topper and the Warlock and Frosty and Rudolph and we all trust in the magic snowball.

Yea well, that’s not happening this year.

The fear is palpable. You can feel it everywhere. The virus. The rent. Food on the table. What if this? What if that? It’s dark out there…..and the temperatures are dropping. The wind howls and the black ice is around every sharp corner.

And we’re all becoming hypochondriacs. And why not? Coughs, runny noses, fatigue, body aches, fevers, ’tis the season normally. But now there’s an elephant in the room. Should I get tested? Where can I get tested? And since I’m essentially quarantining already, why get tested at all? If I’m positive, then what? All we can really do is hunker down and wait for a vaccine, or more precisely, wait for our government to not completely jack up the distribution of said vaccine. We watch the numbers, rising. Every day. Relentless. It puts a lump in the throat, which re-triggers the paranoia, because maybe lumpy throat is a covid symptom that I wasn’t aware of.

The nation is currently on auto-pilot. President Trump has long since cashed in his casino chips, and has continued to ignore the pandemic entirely, focusing instead on rage-tweeting election lies and raising money from his cult members, presumably to assist him in staying out of prison. In yet another bonk over the head, today Attorney General and Trump ball washer Bill Barr was forced to admit that his office has uncovered zero evidence of election fraud, which if the past is any indication, means he’s about to be fired via a tweet any moment now. I have to admit that this treating Trump like a pinata at a birthday party in lieu of him conceding like an actual adult is fun in a “but it’s still sorta damaging to democracy” kind of way.

As wanton cruelty was the President’s one and only presidential point, this week, as Americans die in record numbers (more Americans died from Covid in November than in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, and Germany combined) from a virus he called first called a hoax and then did nothing to contain even after he contracted it, he’s focused on changing the rules for federal death penalty cases by bringing back firing squads. Yes. FIRING SQUADS. This is truly demented, twisted, despotic stuff. And yet it’s on page 17 of the paper, because his casual brutality has become normalized.

I just went out for a walk, and the weather matches the mood. Alternating between rain and sleet, with biting winds. Everything is dark. Everything is wet. The sun is buried. My shoes were full of mud. It was lunchtime but it felt like the end of a long day. A lot of cars had their lights on. The kind of day that can give any town a bad name. I know this is all temporary, but these days one can be forgiven for throwing in the towel before it’s been handed to him.

Sports was a thing for a while during all this. The NBA and NHL bubbles somehow worked, as did the baseball playoffs. There were some bumps and bruises, but overall the games proved a welcome distraction. Football, on the other hand, which is essentially bubble-proof, is gradually turning into a shit show. College games in the Trumpier areas are being played with tens of thousands of people in the stands….welcome news for an airborne virus. As I type this the Steelers / Ravens have had their scheduled Thanksgiving prime time game re-scheduled 4 times, and it’s now to be played at a most un-football like day and time….Wednesday at 3:40pm. It really has no business being played at all, since the Ravens team is infested with the virus. On Sunday the Denver Broncos were forced to play an actual game that counts using a practice squad wide-receiver at quarterback, which is kinda like the bat-boy pitching a MLB game. This happened because the 3 actual QBs on the Broncos roster gathered and refused to wear masks, and came into direct contact with a positive test. The result was perhaps the worst game in the history of the league. If the NFL was embarrassed by any of this, they got over it once the TV revenue checks cleared. Money, as always, trumps (sorry) everything.

That being said, the mask goes OVER YOUR FUCKING NOSE. I’m not sure what it’s gonna take for folks to grasp this simple concept. Does it need to be engraved on tombstones?

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

The year of the Bumpus Hounds….

November 24, 2020 Leave a comment

We’ve all got lots to be thankful for, but one might be forgiven in 2020 for losing the plot. Things are getting crazy again, shutdowns and tears of rage and being told that the simple act of gathering as a family to share a meal is akin to playing a game of Russian Roulette. Facebook erupted yesterday when the Governor announced stopping booze sales at 5pm on Thanksgiving Eve, normally the busiest bar night of the year. Nobody is quite sure how much longer they can hold on. It’s like the threat of an invasion from the Bumpus Hounds is hovering over all of us.

Patience. Toilet paper. Hand Sanitizer. All gone. The only thing we’re not running out of is curse words. It’s a bit refreshing to know that soon grown-ups will be in charge, but it’s gonna take a while for them to clean up the mess the crazy kids made. Meanwhile, my $1200 was gobbled up instantaneously, and that feels like it was a century ago. The government has become a large, tweeting echo chamber. Everybody has fallen, and nobody can get up except for that Jeff Bezos fella. We want to be….I don’t know…..reassured? Spoken to like adults? Told what the plan is for the distribution of these vaccines? What’s the time frame? Covid testing was and is a complete shit-show. Is there any reason to expect a vaccine won’t be? By my count there are 3 different drug companies with vaccines. One is 95% effective, and one is 70% effective. Does that mean one wins and the other is out? Or that some will just have to gamble with the B team? It’s like the paratrooper being reminded as he’s waiting for that tap on his leg that his parachute was made by the lowest bidder.

Not all of us knew somebody who tested positive during the first wave. This time? We all do. Concentric circles. Trying to keep the thing out is like the diner scene from “The Blob”. Or, all of us be like Rod Taylor in “The Birds”…armed with only a hammer and a few nails.

Can you get it again? I just checked online and the answers I got were “yes”, “no”, “maybe”, “we don’t know” and “in 6 months perhaps”.

We live in a nation where 7% of the population believes that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, so our future was pretty terrifying even without 2020 ever happening. Watching this year unravel has been like trying to fix a tangled cassette tape. You’ve got a fighting chance at the beginning….but the longer you drag it out, the more insanely frustrated you get, until you lose your mind and yank it all to smithereens. We’re kinda at that moment right now.

We’ve all got different hats we wear. The musician side of me has no idea what the future holds. Gigs are gone…..a few returned when the weather was warm and tents became a thing, but now the freeze is upon us and they’re gone. At the beginning of the pandemic the live streamed shows were a novelty, and had great support. Virtual tip jars were filled up. Then everybody started doing them and they weren’t a novelty anymore. You’re not walking into a filled bar anymore. You’re standing in the middle of the virtual street tying to wave down cars. But we enjoy playing. So we play. Come join us….or at least honk your horn as you’re driving by.

I’ve seen the Charlie Brown Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, so I have no idea what Times Square has planned for New Year’s Eve. Maybe the ball will drop on somebody’s head. 2020 can’t last forever….and soon the number will roll over, and the suckiness will troll 2021 HARD, and we’ll all regroup in a few weeks and compare notes.

Wear a mask. Keep your social distance. Support and be supportive. Try to understand that behind the mask everybody is a little heart-sick right now. We’re not made for isolation. We need human touch. But we’ve got to get through this. The virus doesn’t move on its own. It has to be carried. And if we can just hunker down long enough for it to wither and die on the proverbial vine, maybe it won’t feel like it does right now…..like it starts to get dark right after lunch.

We’ll soon leave the year of the Bumpus Hounds behind. Time promises nothing but forward movement.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

I can’t believe we are back here again…

November 19, 2020 Leave a comment

I can’t believe we are back here again.

People are dying at an unprecedented rate (We just passed 250,000 deaths, which is what Fauci predicted. He was then called an “idiot” by his boss). The President has all but abdicated, mad-tweeting in his alternate universe and sending his legal minions across the land to duly humiliate themselves in court, trying to prove non-existent fraud. He will not concede, so the President-elect and his people will be coming in blind on day one. The nation is rudderless. It’s like a horror movie. ICUs are at capacity, and they may soon have no choice but to send people away, which means sending them back home to die. All this, in the so-called greatest nation on earth, in the year 2020. Merry Christmas.

Doctors Without Borders are sent to places in the world facing medical catastrophes. They are here now. In the United States.

We were asked to sacrifice. Like our fathers and grandfathers were. They were called to wars overseas. They considered it their duty, and they went. We were asked to stay home if at all possible, and wear a mask if we did go out. This could possibly save the lives of our fathers and grandfathers. But we refused. We whined. We ignored science. We argued that we had the absolute right to kill another. We took to social media to belittle and malign, to spread lies and disinformation, and showed a nationwide selfish gene that must have staggered the greatest generation. We embarrassed ourselves from the top down. And now a quarter million people are dead that should be alive. At current rates, Covid-19 deaths in the United States will surpass American WWII deaths by January.

It’s difficult to comprehend.

Where does this startling lack of empathy come from? This appalling ignorance?

How is this the same nation the sprearheaded the D-Day invasion and destroyed the greatest evil the world had ever seen, and then came home and didn’t really consider the sacrifice all that worthy of talking about? How is this the same fucking planet?

It’s perhaps too easy to blame Trump for all this. He’s a cartoonish figure…..a shuffling, obese jackass with what looks like a ferret stuck to his head. A man with no intellect. No sense of humor. No compassion. No sense of honor. No moral compass. Hell, not even a dog. He doesn’t read. He can’t spell. I get it. The Jesusidians didn’t like the non-white fella, and they hated the woman. But this was shooting at the fly with a machine gun. Nobody should be surprised that he destroyed the entire house. It wasn’t like he turned into an asshole. He clearly already was one. So this one is kinda on us. It’s hard to argue that a nation dumb enough to vote for a Donald Trump doesn’t kinda deserve all the wreckage that comes with that fateful decision.

And what’s going on now is not at all surprising. He’s been saying all along that he would only accept the results of the election if he won it. Which is an outrageous statement for a sitting American President to make. But we all yawned. Leading Republicans continued to fan him and feed him grapes. His cult cheered. The press barely stirred. And here we are.

He’s hiding behind the only wall he managed to build, which is the one around the White House. His schedule is empty. He has forbidden any member of his administration to speak to the Biden team. He golfed all weekend. He hasn’t attended a Covid task force meeting in months. All of his recent tweets are immediately flagged with a “this is complete bullshit” warning. It’s surreal.

Like many others I let my guard down for a bit over the last few weeks. I wore my mask…..but I was going places I really didn’t need to go to. The weather was fine and we all sorta got lulled. We got together and fist-bumped and elbow-bumped and talked of things getting back to whatever normal used to be. The virus went from the foreground to the background. The election allowed us all a chance to (figuratively) exhale. Finally, an adult was gonna be in charge. Things were gonna get better because they couldn’t get worse.

And now things are worse than ever. The virus the cult claimed would magically vanish after election day has not followed the script. Once again MAGAs have been betrayed by pesky science.

And now kids are coming home from colleges. Extended families will gather around Thanksgiving tables. If the virus had chops it would be licking them.

There’s good news on the vaccine front, but mobilizing to make these available to all requires herculean efforts. And, dare I say, cooperation between the outgoing and incoming administrations. Lives are at stake. And Trump doesn’t care.

He’s never cared if we lived or died. He’s bragged about being able to shoot supporters and not lose their devotion. Now he’s tossing them onto ventilators.

This nation is on the precipice.

The job ahead of Biden is as daunting at the one that faced Lincoln. That sounds like absurd hyperbole but it’s not.

At all.

In a bit…

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Gettysburg 2020

November 16, 2020 1 comment

A quick trip on Saturday to Gettysburg. Hallowed ground.

Went down with my good friend Chuck Gudatis, who served as my tour guide. I’ve toured the battlefield maybe 5 times previously, but it’s so large that it helps to have somebody that can point you in the right direction when you start to get geographically confused. Chuck estimates that he’s been there 80 times, and knows every road….every corner….every short cut…..every troop movement. And he’s got a wealth of stories to go with it. No better company.

It was a gorgeous day, deep blue sky and a gentle fall breeze. Not crazy crowded like it can get in the summer. You could stretch your legs without having to worry about getting hit by a tour bus.

51,000 men fell here….and one woman. Jenny Wade was baking bread in her sister’s house when a stray bullet crashed through the door and pierced her heart, the only civilian casualty of those 3 horrible days. As you drive into town on Baltimore St, the small Wade house is on your right, wedged between the massive parking lot of a charmless visitor’s center and a former Holiday Inn motel, directly across the street from a convenient store that on previous visits we raided for 6 packs of beer. The 20/21st century has trolled the 19th HARD in Gettysburg….so get used to this sort of thing. If you continue into town and are interested in where Lincoln stayed the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address, it’s easy to find. Look for the tall dude giving what looks like directions to a tourist wearing a Clancy Brother’s sweater, 90s corduroys, and Dad-sneakers. It might be one of the most ridiculous statues ever commissioned, and it’s things like this that make serious Civil War buffs lose their minds. (And I haven’t even gotten to the McDonald’s within a pistol shot of the Confederate high water mark on Cemetery Ridge…the one next to General Pickett’s Buffet…)

But I digress.

It’s a strange time….with a pandemic raging. We wore masks, but hardly anybody else did. So we did our best to be as socially distant as possible, but since we’re from NEPA that wasn’t too hard. We stayed out of the town, and ate lunch on Seminary Ridge, next to the weirdly proportioned James Longstreet statue, which looks like the General on a carousel ride. Longstreet did not want to fight here, and had the temerity to criticize Robert E Lee when doing so was akin to spitting in somebody’s food. Lee’s own garish statue, sitting on top of the Virginia monument, is so close it practically throws shade. It’s the size of a house, and he looks like Zeus on top of it…..and I can’t help thinking that his lost-cause cult members had something to do with this….er….imbalance.

We were soon gazing across that infamous mile. To the copse of trees. And once again tried to imagine the unimaginable. 12,500 men marched out of these woods, into hell. Half of them would never return. It’s called a “charge”, but they did no such thing. They walked. And a single exploding artillery shell could take out 10 of them at a time. They simply closed ranks and kept walking. The tactics of the Civil War were from the days of Napoleon. The weapons were modern. The carnage was ghastly. So much of the bravery was wasted. As we walked across the field I could not keep my eyes off those trees. “Home boys. Home is just beyond those hills….” is what one Confederate General yelled out, right before he had his head blown off. It seemed madness. I was suddenly mindful of every step. And I wondered how I would have measured up. If the confederacy had to rely on my bravery, I suspect they would not have made it this far.

Being on that field is like being in a church. Even a non-believer keeps his voice down, out of respect. It was once the loudest spot in North America (the cannonade could be heard in Harrisburg). Today, you can hear the brown grass crunching under your feet, and the songs of the crickets. I could set up microphones out here and record music.

Gettysburg is the kind of place that tosses your memories around. Little Round Top is one of the most famous spots on the field, and as I mentioned I’ve been up there before. Even so, I was shocked to find the location of the 20th Maine marker well below the summit, practically behind the line. Not at all what I remembered. I finally understood what it meant to be the flank of the army on that day. If the 20th Maine had not stood firm, the confederates would have crashed into the rear of the army and driven it off the ridge. The war might have ended that day, if not for 300 Maine men and a crazy bayonet charge. I always suspected there was a bit of hyperbole to the legend. There was not.

Another thing I missed on other visits were the private homes in the park itself, some in the paths of the standard auto-tour stops. Not much privacy, but a front row seat for sure. One featured a sign for our times. “This battle was fought BECAUSE Black Lives Matter”. Gettysburg has bizarrely become a sort of MAGA backwater, a place where armed militias gather to wave confederate and Trump flags. One might call this the high water mark of the failure of our education system. Whatever. It made me feel good to know that some folks at least were aware that the south lost.

Onward we moved. Through Devil’s Den and the Peach Orchard and into the Wheatfield, three of the most savage locations on earth, filled with blood and ghosts and men and epic battlefield blunders blunted only by immense sacrifice and suffering. To drive through here as darkness closes in will test any skepticism that the dead always remain that way.

And then the PA memorial on Cemetery Ridge, which lists the names of the 34,530 soldiers from the Keystone state that fought here….fully a third of the Union Army. It’s the largest monument on the field, and it needs, and deserves, to be.

Meade’s headquarters. In Gettysburg those 3 days you took what you could get. The Leister house is about the size of a single car garage, and you can walk in its yard and peer into its windows, trying to imagine that last council of war…generals packed inside literally wall to wall. It’s well behind the lines, but the confederate artillery bombardment that preceded Pickett’s charge mostly fired wild high, so the place took a beating. An orderly serving the Generals butter for lunch was cut into 2 pieces by a shell. The front yard was still covered with disemboweled horses 4 days after the battle. The widow who owned the house counted 17 of them.

The high water mark…our last stop before leaving town. Where the federal line angled out…..and 1500 Virginians broke through the line, and for one tantalizing moment it looked like maybe….but no. Every man who breached the line was either killed or captured. And that was that. Close your eyes, and all around you were masses of men, engaged in a sweaty, blood-soaked, murderous fist-fight. It wasn’t just bodies that carpeted the ground. It was body parts. Heads. Arms. Legs. Perhaps this was the pinnacle of our national madness. All the casualties were Americans. We’ve been trying to heal ourselves ever since.

To visit this place is to be energized and exhausted at the same time. The more you visit, the more you learn. The more you notice. The deeper you feel. The incredulity. The melancholia. The awe.

And the more the place gets its hooks into you.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Power Up

November 13, 2020 2 comments

There’s a new AC/DC record out today. It’s called “Power Up” and because it sounds like every other AC/DC record that means it kicks ass and is pretty much exactly what the world needs right now. They are the freight train that always runs on-time.

My friend Alan Stout shared a great Angus Young quote with me today..

“People say we’ve made 11 records and they all sound the same. That’s not true at all. We’ve made 12 records that all sound the same.”

For those about to rock, they’ve been saluting you for 47 years. Malcolm is gone but the crunch has stayed in the family. Stevie Young fills the enormous shoes of his uncle. All the songs are credited to Malcolm and Angus (according to Angus the vaults are overflowing with riffs and song ideas over the years, so don’t expect this record to be their last), and it’s great to hear Brian Johnson’s ageless howl again. All the songs are about whatever it is AC/DC songs are about, mostly sex and Satan, sometimes both at the same time. The lyrics remain absolutely, ridiculously un-woke…

You got a long night comin’
And a long night pumpin’
You got the right position
The heat of transmission

…but Johnson screeches with such a lascivious leer that he could make Shakespeare sound filthy. And I only know the above couplets because I googled them. So, what lyrics? Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. There’s enough monster riffs here to keep guitar teachers busy for months.

No drum fills or ballads allowed. One of my favorite records of theirs was the last one, “Rock or Bust”, and on first few listens “Power Up” is keeping up. This band is so reliable it’s goofy.

I remember being in 8th grade and desperately wanting to impress this girl. Her birthday was coming up. So of course I bought her “Back in Black” on cassette, because that’s just what you did back then. And for about a week she liked me. You don’t forget bands like that.

Of course I also bought a copy for myself, which is what you did back then too. The thing sold a kerbillion copies. Everybody was buying it for their girl and themselves. If a girl didn’t like AC/DC, she wasn’t worth your 14 year old time. And if she liked them then, you know she still likes them now.

I remember this crazy YouTube thing posted by some whacked out fans who traveled to Australia to find out where Angus lived. They were gonna knock on his door and tell him just how awesome he was…..and found his house super easy…..a low-key ranch in a suburb in Sydney or something….no mansion….no fences….no security. Neighbors had told these guys that Angus kept up a pretty regular schedule….heading to the corner store for cigarettes at the same time every day and stuff like that. They were terrified that it was this easy….and eventually got up the nerve to knock on the front door, and of course Angus answered, and besides being a bit perplexed that these lunatics flew halfway around the world to say hello, he was about as chill as a guy could be. Seeing this was about as cool as hearing “Whole Lotta Rosie” for the first time.

And speaking of, I had no idea Bon Scott was dropping Rosie’s measurements in that song until way later….but I did manage to twist my virgin guitar fingers into an approximation of that killer riff, and when that happened it was like the parting of the red sea. Press on son, press on. And I did. And I still am. (Years ago I wrote that if Tipper Gore could put a parental warning sticker on a riff, it would be from “Whole Lotta Rosie”)

I have no idea how much longer these guys can keep this up. I mean…..Angus is 65 years old and still wearing his school boy uniform and devil horns, and Brian Johnson is almost deaf. Early-onset dementia stole Malcolm. Their drummer pleaded guilty in 2015 and served 8 months for threatening to kill a former employee. There’s lots to think about, clearly. Normally they’d be taking this record around the world on tour, but Covid ain’t going anywhere. No telling how many folks are knocking on Angus’s door these days. Like everybody else, they know he’s home.

But it’s 2020. And we need something that doesn’t suck. We need this record, and this band.

Thank you boys…

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s all a bit surreal, this.

November 10, 2020 Leave a comment

It’s all a bit surreal, this.

The President of the United States refusing to accept the results of an election that even his own personal news outlet admits was fair and transparent. He ran what might have been the dumbest campaign in American history, never missing a chance to drive down his own totals. Instructing his cult to not vote by mail. They complied, of course. Insulting various sections of the country that it turned out he sorely needed (“bad things happen in Philadelphia”). Mocking those who are taking a pandemic seriously, which is the same as spitting on the graves of some 220,000 dead, and counting. And all we’re getting now as evidence of fraud is a tweet saying he won by “A LOT”, (those are his capital letters, not mine. I want to make that clear) and a bizarre press conference held outside a Philadelphia landscaping company wedged between a dildo shop and a crematorium. It’s really not worth trying to satirize Trumpworld, because nothing you come up with can possibly hang with the real thing. When “get Rudy on the phone” is your PR strategy, fresh off the guy priming himself in a hotel room with a supposed under-age girl, the writing is on the wall. Not only did you not drain the swamp, you are now pissing in it.

Saturday was a good day though. Gorgeous weather. And then the news finally came. Pennsylvania was finally called, and our 20 electoral votes put Biden over. He was now the President-elect. Spontaneous celebrations broke out, literally, all over the world. Manhattan came alive in a way it hasn’t since this pandemic started, horns honking and masked crowds gathering in jubilation. An impromptu party broke out outside of Biden’s childhood home in Scranton. The White House, now surrounded by a wall that would be the envy of Mexico, was also ringed with happy voters, gathering to serenade Trump out of town. Massive amounts of shade were thrown from London and France and Canada, everybody exhaling that America didn’t lose its mind twice in a row. Biden and Kamala Harris addressed the nation in the evening, and they used complete sentences and empathetic rhetoric and everything. At first it seemed jarring…..what was going on? And then it clicked. Finally. Adults.

The President, who still hasn’t quite mastered Optics 101, wasn’t home at the time. He thought it more Presidential to golf at one of his clubs, at tax payer’s expense, and then rage-tweet about how unfair it was that the legal votes went to him and the illegal ones went the the other guy. He said all along he was only going to accept the results if he won, so nobody was expecting anything approaching class. Still, the level of scumbagery can still shock. We’re a nation where things like this simply do not happen. You can whine and be douchey when you lose, but eventually you act like a fucking grown-up and start to transition your ass out. This isn’t North Korea. Or China. Or Moscow. Go start planning your Presidential library. Or, in Trump’s case…..a sharpie coloring room.

There’s still so much to do. Georgia run-offs will determine control of the Senate. Rancid bootlicking filth like McConnell and Lindsey Graham are still out there (we rigged the election but let them win?), traitors both. As I type this the future of Obamacare is once again in question. The Supreme Court will decide, a court that now includes Trump’s hand-picked haters. The results could be catastrophic for millions. And he would quite willingly do this for spite alone. He doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t care about anybody. And once again the entire Republican party is mute, still somehow in thrall to a vicious thug.

Right now it’s less like installing a successor and more like overthrowing a dictator. And the “fuck your feelings get over it snowflakes, you lost” crowd are suddenly incredibly butt-hurt, and in droves have taken their social media ball to a place that promises no fact checking and unlimited hate speech. It’s quite adorable. I suspect the FBI will be watching them closely in the upcoming days…..as right now Parler seems like something straight out of a Timothy McVeigh wet dream.

Keep on keeping on. The arc of justice. Our better angels. All of that.

And this just in….Philadelphia is organizing a run from the Four Seasons Hotel to the Four Seasons Landscaping company and calling it the “Fraud Street Run”, which makes me even more proud to be from Pennsylvania. And an American.

In a bit..

–tf

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Keep moving on….

November 6, 2020 Leave a comment

It’s all over. Finally. Our long national nightmare is over. He won’t concede, and he’ll rant and rave and break whatever he can break on the way out, but that’s just the hubris of a failed reality-TV star. It’s over, and we’re finally going to be rid of this pestilence. I’m pretty sure the entire crime family will howl into the Twitter-wind for years to come, but I expect people to give less and less of a shit, and the media to slowly grow weary of his rantings when the ratings finally tank….and all that will be left are the libraries filled with books trying to figure out how it was allowed to happen in the first place. And, if there is any justice left in the world, a hefty dose of state prison sentences.

I woke to the news of Georgia, and I felt like I was floating. All that John Lewis inspired “good trouble”, and all the hard work of the soon-to-be legendary Stacy Abrams, who worked tirelessly to register 800k voters across the state affected by voter suppression. The slow drip-drip of the results coming in had to be driving Dear Leader crazy….and then he gets slammed over the head with Kornacki at the board showing Pennsylvania slipping away at the same time. The President was quick to pounce on Twitter, and of course spelled it “Philadelpiha”. I’m not sure there’s enough Adderall in the White House dispensary to focus the man’s mind anymore. Last night’s terrifying rant was still in our minds (and noses), and if he’s that batshit with the cameras running, the thought of him screeching through the White House halls like Nixon cranked on bathtub meth brought a huge smile to my face. I adore democracy because when it works it pisses off, and on, fascists.

So let me think. I wonder if your goons threatening to kidnap the Governor of Michigan was a good idea? I wonder if trashing John McCain while he was alive, and when he was dead, helped you out in Arizona? I wonder if all them snide remarks about “bad things happening in Philadelphia” helped your vote count there? Did instructing your cult not to vote via the mail help you out? You lost not just because you’re reprehensible, but because you’re a fucking moron. Hoisted by your own Petard. Not sure your followers are the Shakespeare type but there’s always google, eh Bubba?

So many folks I know were willing this to happen. Time has stood still over the last few days…everything put on hold. What’s at stake is too numerous to count. For women. For LGBTQ. For immigrants. For black and brown people. All who have been treated with almost casual cruelty over the last 4 years. And yes, there are some of us out here well aware of our white privilege, but still willing to go to the mattresses over the lashes inflicted on the backs of others. It’s called empathy, and whatever shortcomings Joe Biden may have, a lack of that does not appear to be one of them.

Whenever my youngest daughter is out of touch for a few hours, she’s been checking in by asking “did Democracy die while I was away?” so it’ll be nice to not have to check with Steve Kornacki before getting back to her.

My facebook feed is usually filled with Trump trolls, but other than the usual suspects ranting about Sharpies, they seem to have retreated to a war room somewhere, plotting their next moves. Perhaps more flags flying from their pick-up trucks, or brushing up on their constitutional law degrees. Nobody said it was easy living in an alternative universe. Right now it’s the 8th round in Zaire and they’re all George Foreman. SAD!

I’m not sure what’s left to be said at this point. Probably every word in the dictionary has already been tossed at this election, and it’s still hard to fathom how nearly 70 million Americans voted for a rancid narcissistic racist with the morals of a diseased toad. Ignorance came close to burning the entire thing to the ground, so it’s gonna be a while before everything they shattered can be put back together again. It’ll be a while before an education system that spectacularly failed so many people can be fixed and we can once again travel the world without getting snickered at. Getting rid of Betsy Devos is certainly a start though, just saying.

Baby steps bubba….

Keep moving on…

In a bit..

–tf

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A Stillness at Appomattox

November 5, 2020 Leave a comment

While watching the results not come in over the last 2 nights I’ve been re-reading Bruce Catton’s “A Stillness at Appomattox”, which seems kinda appropriate. The last, phantasmagorically violent year of the war, in which Americans stood toe to toe and crushed each other’s skulls with rifle butts or burned alive on forest floors or were hit by so many bullets that their bodies sometimes fell apart, bleeding each other until there seemingly wan’t enough ground in Virginia to soak it all up anymore. And then that lone rider cutting through the exhausted lines, with a white flag, and Lee and Grant meeting in that small farmhouse, the former dressed in his best uniform, the latter staining the carpet with the mud splattered from his trousers and boots. The terms offered were simple. Lay down your arms and go home. What food the Union army had was shared with the men who had been killing them since 1861. And from then on, grammatically it became “the United States IS” instead of “the United States ARE”. And despite fucking things up over and over again ever since, we’ve always sorta managed to just about hold it together, resisting the urge to once again fire on the Fort Sumter du jour and kick-start things all over again.

Sometimes you need a little perspective. Or maybe a history lesson.

Take a deep breath. We shall overcome.

In a bit..

–tf

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My election day log….

November 3, 2020 Leave a comment

Today’s the day Bubba.

The stupidity of a nation is put to the test….with a few things at stake. Minor stuff. The potential death of hundreds of thousands of people of course, along with the destruction of whatever democracy is supposed to be (I lost the plot years ago, I must admit). Through the vagaries of the electoral college it has been decreed that Pennsylvania is now the key to it all. This doesn’t exactly give me the feels, as this place is filled with enough mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers to start a new sports league and fill its stadiums with fans. But there are plenty of calm, rational, decent folk too, the kind that don’t wave flags from the back of pick-up trucks or have bald eagle profile pics on Facebook.

So there’s still a chance that we won’t send the nation careening over the cliff and into the valley of banana-republics. Fingers crossed and all that. Stock up on booze for tonight, ’cause you’re gonna need it.

If your side are the ones trying to stop people from voting, and then trying to stop valid ballots from being counted, you might be a fucking fascist.

I feel the need to jot these thoughts down as the day progresses, so I have something to refer to in the future (if indeed we have one) when I’m asked “what was it like when, as Jim Morrison predicted, the whole shithouse went up in flames….?”

I woke up to text messages from Trump loving friends complaining of polling places having issues, but only in “heavily Repbublican areas”, so the narrative is starting early. Dastardly ANTIFA is gonna steal it from the Godly people so we can kill more babies, take their guns, and spend their 401ks on Ipods for illegal immigrants. It’s gonna be a long day.

Just went for a virtual 2 mile walk with my daughter, who is in Harrisburg. Both of us are having a wee bit of an existential crisis over our state being the last beacon of a flickering democracy. We traded war stories of the goober-trolls on our respective Facebook feeds, and every time I looked up from the FaceTime screen a Trump flag was waving from somebody’s porch. I’m happy to say that Harrisburg is much less racist than NEPA (not a single Trump sign in her entire large apartment complex), but I can’t say that once cancels out the other. What NEPA lacks in numbers we more than make up for with staggering ignorance.

Per usual my walk makes me feel better, but gives me way too much time to contemplate dread. There’s always a trade-off brother. Ain’t nothing easy.

I was about to turn on Fox News to see how the Politburo was managing expectations thus far, but I wasn’t in the mood to hear them call it for Trump before lunchtime. So inquiring minds will have to wait.

I just saw a Facebook post from a former prominent NEPA Republican politician just released from prison after serving 11 years for extortion, bribery, and racketeering. It was a long harangue more than suggesting that only American-hating liberals would chose to not vote for, you guessed it….and it just made me incredibly sad that Trump’s cult of personality extends even to prison cells. All the usual talking points, evil godless commies and socialists being driven out of the temple by Dear Leader, a “pro-life” God-chosen super-hero who wraps himself in the flag every night after saying his prayers and drinking his milk. All the words were spelled correctly, which was a refreshing change, but this type of hero worship, coming from somebody who already paid his debt for committing the types of crimes Trump and his fellow mobsters revel in daily, before even biting into their breakfast burritos, is enough to send folks running for the benzos. I just don’t understand it. Sociologists will be busy for a century trying to explain away this level of cultist devotion.

But then again, it’s kinda the most NEPA thing ever.

I’m going to sign off now because my depression is deepening by the hour. Tonight I will sit like a zombie in front of my TV, throwing beer cans at the screen and listening to breathless reports of skulduggery and deep-state shenanigans, and await the moment we all know is coming, when the President of the US stands up and refuses to accept the results of a free election. He’ll sow as much chaos as possible, the goal being the Bush v Gore scenario. If this thing gets tossed into the lap of the lapdogs of the Supreme Court, does anybody really doubt the outcome? This is precisely what the Handmaiden was rammed through for. If you thought it was Roe v Wade, well you’re about as dumb as….well…..about as dumb as I already suspected.

Nothing to see here, eh?

In a bit..

–tf

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