Tuesday, February 28, 2006

we're going through a hole in the sky

no matter how many times i see robyn hitchcock play, i always feel like i've seen a show made for that night, not a repeat of the same show he played the night before in the next city over. and i know this to be true because when i worked for a&m records a while back, and worked the "globe of frogs" record to retail and college radio, i saw him play a 4 times over 6 nights in nyc, boston, trenton and philadelphia. what struck me then was that each night's between-song patter was different, extemporaneous riffs on the absurd that only robyn can pull off. the set lists changed enough each night, anchored around selling the record (they were on their first major-label tour, so were playing it somewhat safe).

so seeing him at slim's tonight was yet again a new experience. his backing band this time were the minus 5, led by young fresh fellow and part-time r.e.m.-er scott mccaughey, and including peter buck on bass (during the minus 5 set) and guitar (for robyn).

i'll have to admit that i've never been a young fresh fellow fan, and the minus 5 don't really do it for me. that said, mccaughey's a good singer and a fine instrumentalist. for whatever reason his songs have never been my thing.

but robyn has always been my thing and tonight was no different. he bounded on stage with a big smile, a drink and greeted us with a hearty "hello groovers", then began an acoustic set led off by syd barrett's "gigiolo aunt" and including "one long pair of eyes" and "beautiful girl". buck, mccaughey and the minus 5 drummer then joined robyn for the remainder of the set, featuring a smattering of new and old, including "madonna of the wasps" and "if you were a priest". the between-song highlight was a 5-minute run through the plot for magnum force, the movie that inspired the song "a man's gotta know his limitations, briggs". a wonderful set, proof that i can see robyn countless times and he'll never disappoint. all that and i made a new fan for robyn.

"i wanna destroy you" was the crescendo piece of the night and though it's, what, 20 years old (?), robyn's dedicating it to george, condi, donnie et al, made it as relevant as ever.

so, a reminder...

I wanna destroy you (4x)

I feel it coming on again
Just like it did before
They fill your mind with boredom
And they lead you off to war
The way we treat each other
Really makes me feel ill
And if you're gonna fight
Then you're just dying to get killed

I wanna destroy you (4x)

A pox upon the media
And everything you read
They tell you your opinions
And they're very good indeed

I wanna destroy you

And when I have destroyed you
I'll come pickin' at your bones
And you won't have a single atom
Left to call your own

Sunday, February 26, 2006

blind acceptance is a sign, of stupid fools who stand in line

the flilthy lucre tours aside, the sex pistols have pretty much always told the music industry to go screw itself, so it's no surpise to see this headline:
"Sex Pistols Flip Off Rock Hall"

yes, they've told the rock and roll hall of fame that they won't be at the march 13 ceremony, and have done it with their usual sense of overly self-conscious rebellious iconoclasm.

the hand-written note on the lydon/pistols website reads (spelling/grammar errors left in tact):
"Next to the sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. We're not coming. Were not your monkey and so what? Fame at $25,000 if we paid for a table, or $15,000 to squeak up in the gallery, goes to a non-profit organization selling us a load of old famous. Congratulations. If you voted for us, hope you noted your reasons. Your anonymous as judges, but your still music industry people. Were not coming. Your not paying attention. Outside the shit-stem is a real Sex Pistol."

johnny lydon may often be full of shit, but you gotta admit that he does most everything with some style and flourish.

it's not cheating if i'm with you

say you're eating dinner while watching a cooking show and lusting after the food being prepared...is that like making love and fantasizing about someone other than the person with whom you're in bed?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

mystery achievement

back when i was in 7th grade i wrote an essay about wanting to be an olympic athlete. something about the thought of reperesenting your country as a top athlete really got to me, even though i was a scrawny (though reasonably athletic) kid. my english teacher, mr. bundy, commended me on the piece. since i can remember, i've been entranced by the idea of the olympics, as much as the competition (and this was before i found out the the athlete's village was one giant pick-up joint, the hooking up apparently enabled, if not encouraged by the ioc and sponsors.).

anyway, i love watching them, especially sports that i wouldn't necessarily be all that into were they not part of the games -- swimming, track and field, luge, bobsled and of course, curling (and admittedly, yes, this helps). oh and moguls, but then this helps as well.

this year, though, it's been a giant bore. i watched a few hours of it during the week, and with the exception of a few curling matches, the canada-swizerland hockey game and any of the hockey games in which finland played, it's been bleh.

well, not totally. snowboard-cross was awesome, and short-track speedskating is fun, and not just for the spill-factor.

but there have been no compelling stories featuring winners. the big stories have been about the over-hyped who for various reasons, couldn't deliver and were less than sporting or gracious about it. though to be fair, weir has taken the gold for "Best Use of the Games to Become A Bigger Celebrity", narrowly edging out the flying tomato.

though come to think of it, the french guy who won men's downhill gold...that was a thrilling moment. last guy down the run, not expected to do much as he's still recovering from a knee injury, and steals the top spot with a daredevil run. that was a good story, even if it had a short shelf-life.

those surprise moments were just too few and far between. yeah, it was great that the japanese girl won her country's first gold in that sport, i mean, competition. but she did it because the favorites fell. if they'd all stayed on their skates, she's 3rd at best.

usually i find myself at the end of the games almost not wishing they were over. this year i keep wondering when they're finally gonna end.

{addendum...watching the games makes me want to go to torino. looks like an amazing place for a winter vacation}

that said, i still would love to be an olympian. 2010 is far enough away to get together a danish bobseld team, right?

Friday, February 10, 2006

lip service is all i ever get from you

For a guy who's supposed to be the guardian of our nation's secrets and intelligence, CIA Director Porter Goss seems to be out of the loop.

In this piece in today's NYT, a whinefest about intelligence leaks, he is both outright lying and disingenuously lying, committing lies of commission and ommission.

His point is:
Revelations of intelligence successes or failures, whether accurate or not, can aid Al Qaeda and its global affiliates in many ways. A leak is invaluable to them, even if it only, say, prematurely confirms whether one of their associates is dead or alive. They can gain much more: these disclosures can tip the terrorists to new technologies we use, our operational tactics, and the identities of brave men and women who risk their lives to assist us.

The head-shaking comes because of an example he uses to make his point, and an example he ignores, which would have more on target.

One example Goss uses to stress the importance of keeping secrets is:

Recently, I noticed renewed debate in the news media over press reports in 1998 that Osama bin Laden's satellite phone was being tracked by United States intelligence officials. In the recent debate, it was taken for granted that the original reports did not hurt our national security efforts, and any suggestions that they did cause damage were dismissed as urban myth. But the reality is that the revelation of the phone tracking was, without question, one of the most egregious examples of an unauthorized criminal disclosure of classified national defense information in recent years. It served no public interest. Ultimately, the bin Laden phone went silent.

Only one problem...this story has been pretty much discredited in this WaPo story from December 2005, Goss's whining to the contrary. Moreover, it wasn't any US press agency that was responsible for the leak.

President Bush asserted this week that the news media published a U.S. government leak in 1998 about Osama bin Laden's use of a satellite phone, alerting the al Qaeda leader to government monitoring and prompting him to abandon the device.

The story of the vicious leak that destroyed a valuable intelligence operation was first reported by a best-selling book, validated by the Sept. 11 commission and then repeated by the president.

But it appears to be an urban myth.

The al Qaeda leader's communication to aides via satellite phone had already been reported in 1996 -- and the source of the information was another government, the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan at the time.

The second time a news organization reported on the satellite phone, the source was bin Laden himself.

Causal effects are hard to prove, but other factors could have persuaded bin Laden to turn off his satellite phone in August 1998. A day earlier, the United States had fired dozens of cruise missiles at his training camps, missing him by hours.

Not only that, he seems to have completely forgotten about a rather egregious leak that outed a covert CIA agent. And now it seems that Libby was ordered by VP Cheney to disclose classified info. Makes you wonder how likely it was that the Plame leak was done at the Veep's behest. Then of course there's this little gem from the Post today:

The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Until BushCo I was under the impression that the CIA was supposed to be above politics, not an agency at the beck-and-call of the President, not part of the army of spin doctors that the administration needs to cover its ass and make up slam-dunk certainties.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

say what you will

Though he's considered the dean of Beltway pundits, David Broder's toolery has been exposed before, most effectively by Eric Alterman.

So while it's a disappointment, it's hardly a surprise to read this little gem from his column today:

Every Democrat on the committee signaled in the hearing a readiness to make needed adjustments in the FISA statute, as Congress has done five times since 2001 to provide more flexibility. The Democrats clearly had heeded Karl Rove's recent speech to the Republican National Committee, signaling an intention to tag them -- once again -- in the 2006 campaign as being soft on terrorism.

They went out of their way to avoid that charge, with Ted Kennedy even applying some reverse English to the argument, by suggesting that al Qaeda suspects might beat the rap in court by their lawyers' successfully challenging evidence obtained through surveillance conducted under questionable legal authority.

I love how he frames this as "Rove speak, Dems jump", as if the Dems were the obedient dog. Broder puts them in the passive, reactive mode. God forbid he frame it as "Rove once again exploited national secrurity for politics, falsely accusing Dems of..."

Look, we do have issues with the party not being effective at crafting a message and for sure the party has, since the Cold War, had to fight the perception that it is weak on national security. However, reality shows us that most Dems are quite serious about real and effective solutions to protecting the country from terrorism. It's discouraging then, to read more b.s. "conventional wisdom", framed in a way that puts Rove in charge, and doesn't call Rove on this disgusting campaign tactic. I would like to think that Broder knows better, but sadly he doesn't.

Perhaps it's time for a few firm but cordial e-mails to the dean, to let him know that people are tired of lazy punditry.