Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We Send E-mails, Too

Our open mic experience has ended badly. I have come to find out that despite it being profitable for the tavern, they didn't approve of our earthiness. We ran a rather blue collar show, and they didn't want that type, no matter how much money they had. Fine. This decision certainly, in the short run anyway, hurt their business.

What started as a flame war on Craig's List between Hank Floyd and Matthew, the manager, has exploded into a general discussion about the current problems facing musicians, which I view as healthy. I have come to realize that seemingly harmless open mic's exploit musicians just as much as regular gigs for no money or even pay-for-play.

Here in SA, first the Red Room, and now GIG' On The Strip, have attempted an alternative venue where no drinks are sold, no profit is sought after, and the acts can take a portion of the cover charge over a specified amount of patrons. This concept of "listening rooms" seems to me a possible answer to the problem of club owners who cynically calculate that if anyone asks for money, the next guy will do it for less, and the next guy will do it for free.

What club owners seem to have forgotten is that if they hire good performers and earn a reputation for putting on good shows, then people will come with the expectation that their leisure-time dollars will be well-spent. This notion that artists have to bring in crowds sucks. One must be ready to do their own promotion, but constantly supplying clubs with business that doesn't result in any renumeration is a practice that must stop.

I feel I must repair to the dome of contemplation to sort things out. But I wanted to share the following just for kicks:


I regret I was not able to satisfy you in our effort to host an open mic on Tuesdays (that was moved to Sunday).
However, I do wish to express my gratitude that you felt confident enough at the time to give me the opportunity. I was able to accomplish some things I wanted to do. In terms of success, the universally positive feed-back from performers and patrons in addition to the wonderful support we received from the SA musical community at-large made the experience gratifying. We went from 1 or 2 patrons/performers to 25 - 30 after four weeks with a few times as much as 50 - 60 folks. Obviously, you have other business concerns beyond making money and making your place a legitimate musical venue that have a greater priority, which is fine, but since nobody told me what these priorties were it is hard for me to know.

The depreciation on our equipment was significant as far as blown speakers and what have you; we also had some significant expenses as well - one of our members drove from Seguin; plus, I paid for drinks for everybody until about 3 weeks ago. This inexplicable lack of support from Bharmacy management was making our commitment very strained, to the point where after last Sunday, only two of us were still interested in participating.

Although Matthew has been unforgivably rude and unprofessional and has demonstrated aspects of having a rather low character, I do feel sorry for him. If folks routinely went on-line to remind me what a miserable piece of filth I was, by about the tenth time I might start to worry about my soul.

The problem that Matthew has evidently is that he didn't just fire me an hour before the show after assuring me the week before that I need not worry about such things as being unceremoniously treated like yesterday's garbage, he fired four other decent, college-educated, hard-working people with families, including an engineer, a teacher and a lawyer. And those people are taking it hard. They have contacted every performer on our accumulated e-mail list, plus other club owners, open mic hosts, friends, associates, etc., in an effort to get the word out about your noxious business practices.

Apparently, this action was unnecessary because Bharmacy already has terrible reputation city-wide for treating artists like scum.

I would ordinarily predict bad things for Bharmacy, but people like you tend to endure in this business. So do people like me.



p.s. Please let that thigh-rubbing, panty-sniffing, parsimonious, puritanical friend of yours know that for a faux-feminist she makes a great bar fly.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Toytown Totems

Chupacabra Report

News that gets my goat..

I’d like to pass on a bit I heard on The Monitor show on Pacifica. The host, Mark Bebawi, has been telling about a recent appearance on Hardball by Tom Ridge where he spoke of the need to build new nuclear power plants in this country to create jobs and achieve energy independence. Ridge was introduced as a former Governor and Secretary of Homeland Security. No mention was made of Ridge’s current employer, Exelon Corporation, the country’s largest nuclear power company, or the $500,000 compensation he’s received from them, or the $248,000 in Exelon stock he reported to the SEC in 2009.

Bebawi then turned to MSNBC’s sister station’s NBC News, where retired General and former Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey spoke about the need for the US to remain in Afghanistan for the next twenty years. Again, McCaffrey and NBC failed to mention that he is on the Board of Directors for Dyncorp International, which gets three billion dollars a year, 53% of their revenue, in Pentagon contracts for security and support services in Iraq and Afghanistan. McCaffrey joined the board in 2005. His compensation last year totaled $182,000 according to

But it gets even better: General Electric owns 80% of NBC. They also provide reactors, fuel, and services to the nuclear power industry. And of course they are perennially one of the top fifteen US defense contractors, billing over a billion dollars every year.

This is why my eyes roll when I hear people decry the “liberal media.” I wish.

Remember that line from Upton Sinclair about how “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it?”

Atomic power may be an answer to our energy problems, and it may be in our interest to spend the next twenty years rebuilding Afghanistan. But when we consider these questions, I’d like to be able to get information from somebody who’s not already on the payroll.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Where do you gas up?

I wrote here last year about Shell and ConocoPhillips being on the side of the good guys, working to implement best practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I hope you remember this because you started to look for their gas stations when it was time to fill up.

Well, the Chronicle reported today that ConocoPhillips and BP quit the lobbying alliance U.S. Climate Action Partnership in a dispute over carbon credits for refineries. I intend to drop Conoco a line and tell them why I’ll be driving by their stores now. Shell Oil is still good with me; Shell President Marvin Odum said Tuesday that the company “remains pleased to continue our association with US-CAP,” and the company drew praise as recently as last month from the Environmental Defense Fund for their support of a carbon cap.

Contrast this with Exxon-Mobil, who has spent millions on former tobacco company scientists-for-hire to dispute climate science.

Who would you rather trade with? Don’t wait until rising sea levels force you to relocate to some rattlesnake-infested hilltop.

Snakes are for church, anyway.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Have you had a bellyful of ignos chortling over this year's extreme winter conditions disproving “global warming?’ That’s why the preferred term is “climate change.”

We had snow fall in forty-nine states last week, breaking century-long records in places. That’s an example of what we can expect as we load carbon into the atmosphere and oceans. The weather can go all crazy on us.

And we are seeing warming. You can look it up. Or look around you. Here in Houston you can find White Wing Doves North of I-10. That wasn’t so 20 or 30 years ago. Some years back I was surprised to see Turkey Vultures circling over Western New York. Things are changing, and not on a geologic time scale. Predictions are for more and stronger storm systems, but don’t expect The Day After Tomorrow.

They get it at the Pentagon. Military planners briefed Congress last week on climate change as a national security issue, and are planning to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by the year 2020.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chupacabra Report

News that gets my goat..

-New York Times 2/4/10: Sallie Mae, a publicly traded company that is the nation’s biggest student lender with $22 billion in loans originated last year, led the field in spending $8 million on lobbying in 2009, more than double the year before, and other lenders spent millions of dollars more, according to an analysis prepared for The New York Times by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Political action committees for the lenders and company employees made $2.1 million in political contributions last year, with the money split evenly among Democrat and Republican candidates, the data showed. Sallie Mae’s PAC alone made $194,000 in donations.

-Chronicle editorial 2/10/10: And it gets worse: Last November a study revealed that while promising to reduce costs to consumers, the drug industry had in the previous year raised prices of prescription drugs by more than 9 percent, the highest increase rate in almost 20 years. The proposed savings to consumers were to be about $8 billion a year for the next 10 years. The price hikes added $10 billion to drug costs in one year. Not a bargain for prescription buyers.

-McClatchy Newspapers, 2/11/10: As the nation struggled last year with rising healthcare costs and a recession, the five largest health insurance companies racked up combined profits of $12.2 billion -- up 56% over 2008, according to a new report by activists Health Care for America Now. Based on company financial reports for 2009 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the report said, insurers WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group, Cigna Corp., Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. covered 2.7 million fewer people than they did the year before.The report released Thursday also said some of the five insurers cut the proportion of premiums they spent on their customers' medical care, committing relatively more to salaries, administrative expenses and profit.

-To hear it from the right-wingers, the Obama administration is trying to take over the banks and the health care industry. In the case of student loans, the administration proposal is merely to remove the middleman, private bankers dipping into a federal loan program. Cut them out, and we could provide four of five billion dollars more per year in Pell Grants to students and families out of the savings.

As for AHIP and PhRMA, it’s a matter of stopping them from taking over the US treasury. Thirty years ago, health care spending took up over eight percent of the economy. Now it’s approaching eighteen percent. You’d think that with all this spending, we wouldn’t have to worry about healthcare. Not at all; a Harvard study concluded that 45,000 Americans die every year from lack of care. And health care expenses remain the number one cause of bankruptcy in the US, and most of those filing had health insurance when they got sick.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Texas Outlaw Politicians (are pussys)

I was thinking this morning while waiting for the bus how miserable it must be for the homeless these days on account of the weather. There isn't shelter space for everybody, and some street people won't go into one no matter what.

My friend George, who was homeless for 18 years, is trying to quit drinking, cold turkey. He has been drinking for 45 years. No doctor will treat him because he admits to drinking everyday. I think he wants to join the human race, but there are hurdles to overcome besides his own. He can't get any help because doctors have the same bias that ordinary people have; they see street people as untouchables.

The problem with doctor's attitudes about this is that Medicaid in Texas won't pay for mental health treatment, including drug and alcohol treatment programs, even though there is plenty of our money the Fed offers for these programs that Gov. Gayhair refuses to accept. The state has an obligation to provide these services but no one ever calls Ricky on it. Check it out:

42 USC Title XIX § 1396.

Appropriations or the purpose of enabling each State, as far as practicable under the conditions in such State, to furnish (1) medical assistance on behalf of families with dependent children and of aged, blind, or disabled individuals, whose income and resources are insufficient to meet the costs of necessary medical services, and

(2) rehabilitation and other services to help such families and individuals attain or retain capability for independence or self-care, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated for each fiscal year a sum sufficient to carry out the purposes of this subchapter. The sums made available under this section shall be used for making payments to States which have submitted, and had approved by the Secretary, State plans for medical assistance.

I have a saying, "You're crazy and you become homeless; you're homeless and you become crazy." It's true that most homeless are mentally ill, or have substance abuse problems, or both. If there are no programs to help them what is expected to change?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

America's Champions

I was listening to KSYM last night in my car shuttling my kid here and there when they played a NO Saints fight song in Zydeco style. It was a silly song like all sports tunes tend to be, but suddenly I started crying when the sound of a hundred men shouted "Super Dome!"

The realization that something so simple as a NFL team winning the Super Bowl lifted a weight from my heart that has been there since August, 2005. Witnessing the destruction of a major American city by the hands of a giggling, murder-crazed, retarded boy-king was probably the most painful thing I have ever seen. The naked racism of middle America came pouring out in a horrifying display that went practically unchallenged, only to be out-done by the awful wave of hatred for the African-Americans following the tragic diaspora of the cities' throng across the county. The disaster left a bloody stain on the soul of the country that cannot be wiped away. We all know now what the black heart of America is capable of.

Those men's voices gloriously shouting that the Super Dome is home to America's champions effectively ended that edifice's image as a dumping ground of a despised class of our fellow citizens, and the stench of death that clung to its' memory is gone now. After years of struggle the Big Easy got their mojo back. It's working fine, thank you.

No matter what revisionist Republicans try in an effort to rehabilitate Slappy McCokespoon's reputation he will always be remembered in history as the man who lost two of America's greatest cities to disasters of his making, but the lasting fall-out is Black America's harsh reminder that the "silent majority" of white people still hate them and delight in their destruction.

My tears of joy are still mixed with tears of shame.

Go Saints!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Diana Moon- Glampers

This is a photo of Sarah Palin’s hand Friday when she was taking pre-approved questions after her $100,000.00 speech at the Tea Baggers Convention.

In her speech speech she mocked President Obama for using a teleprompter when delivering speeches. (Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has used them.) The crowd there loved her and chanted “run Sarah run” when she spoke about the 2012 presidential race.

I happened to see that this story was on the Yahoo Buzzlog today. (I rarely look at Yahoo –“You Always Have Other Options”) It ought to give her supporters pause to see her cribbing like a fourth grader on test day. Makes me wonder if I ever bought a book that I knew was ghost-written. Palin did; her PAC purchased thousands of copies of “Going Rouge.”

William Kristol, Fred Barnes, and then John McCain have a lot to answer for, foisting this empty head on American politics, after eight years of George Bush no less. I wonder if Jerzy Kosinsky foresaw this when he wrote “Being There” in 1971. Is this how America ends up? Voting for leaders like it was American Idle? Reminds me of that bumper sticker, “My kid beat up your honor student.” In Kurt Vonnegut’s story Harrison Bergeron, the country is ruled by Handicapper General Diana Moon- Glampers, the most average person in the entire country. Maybe Vonnegut was on to something too.

(Note: The Moonglampers is also the name of Charly Hoarse's favorite back-up band.)

Class Warfare

I’ve been hearing Duke University Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely on the Marketplace show for a while now, and I want to read his book. Here’s a bit I heard today:

“ARIELY: We posed people two questions, we said: What do you think the wealth distribution in the U.S. is? And what do you think is the ideal wealth distribution?

“Ryssdal: So in other words, what do you think in the United States now, who has most of the money and then what ought it be, right?

“ARIELY: That's right. And what happened is that first of all, people dramatically underestimate the wealth inequality in the U.S.

“Ryssdal: Underestimate. So the fact of the matter is fewer people have more of the money.

“ARIELY: That's right. So if you look at the whole world in terms of wealth distribution -- before the recession, I don't have data about after the recession -- but before the recession we're basically between the Western world and South America. We were the most skewed distribution of the Western world in terms of the haves and the have nots. But now the more interesting question is what do people think it should be. And what we found was that actually there's a huge agreement between people in terms of what it should be. And this happened to both your listeners and the general sample population. You would take, for example, Republicans and Democrats, and you would think that they would vary dramatically, and they don't, I mean they differ but they don't differ so much. So you take Republicans and they basically agree with Democrats, and you take people with low income versus high income, and they basically agree.

“Ryssdal: Can you quantify what we have right now? I mean, what percentage of people have what percent of the wealth?

“ARIELY: Right now the top 20 percent of the people have about 85 percent of the wealth. People think that they only own 68 percent of the wealth, so people underestimate the inequity, but if you ask them what's kind of an ideal world in the Rawls kind of sense that you would actually want to participate in, they say 33 percent. So they say in an ideal world, we want the top 20 percent to own more than 20 percent, we want them to be wealthier, but we want them to own about 33 percent of the wealth.”

Again, I’d like to quote Warren Buffet: “If there’s class warfare going on in this country, my class is winning.”

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Chupacabra Report

News that gets my goat..

Obama’s visit to the GOP House Caucus last Friday showed him in good form. He can certainly hold his own with those ideologues and dimbulbs, so much so that the Torys will probably not allow cameras in any return visit. Unfortunately the Faux News programmers declined to show the substance of the exchange and instead cut directly to their talking heads doing their usual shtick.

I read that CNN broadcast it on Saturday but the ninety-minute session was cut to sixty minutes with a commercial between each question. Damn. Where’s the FCC when you need it? They’re all over cuss words and wardrobe malfunctions, but they need a mandate to referee the airwaves, a public trust in this nation dependant on an informed populace for good governance.

Last week the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC was another stab in the back of liberty. Imagine that the answer to a democracy awash in corporate cash is to remove the feeble limits on corporate cash! In Texas, which has suffered “golden rule” since the days of the railroads, the EPA has been holding hearings about why we’re still having trouble meeting 1980 standards for emissions of ozone, soot, and toxic chemicals such as benzene.

This from The Houston Chronicle:

"State officials have said that tougher federal limits on smog pollution could lead to drastic new restrictions that affect personal choices, such as banning drive-through windows on the smoggiest days. Bryan Shaw, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said the proposed limit “provides the illusion of greater protectiveness, but with no regard for cost, in terms of dollars or in terms of the freedoms that Americans are accustomed to.”

"Meanwhile The American Petroleum Institute, the industry's main trade group, said that there was no scientific justification for a stricter smog limit. The EPA's proposal, the group said in a statement, is “an obvious politicization of the air quality standard setting process that could mean unnecessary energy cost increases, job losses and less domestic oil and natural gas development and energy security.”"

Talk about cozy: Industry and regulators reading off the same page.This is why when Bill White was mayor, he had to lobby the state legislature for rule changes to allow the city to regulate its own polluters. Corporate tool Rick Perry had arranged with the Bush EPA to extend the deadline for meeting ozone limits until 2019. Bill White brought Houston in under the limit in 2009, this before the recession brought a slump in petrochemical production. He will be a great Governor for Texas.

In the second GOP gubernatorial debate last week, dark horse candidate Debra Medina backpedaled from her statements last year that the nation “needs a bloody war of succession.” Good for her, that’s already Rick Perry territory; population Pat Boone, Chuck Norris and Ted Nugent.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Bunch Of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger

CORNISH, NH—In this big dramatic production that didn't do anyone any good (and was pretty embarrassing, really, if you think about it), thousands upon thousands of phonies across the country mourned the death of author J.D. Salinger, who was 91 years old for crying out loud. "He had a real impact on the literary world and on millions of readers," said hot-shot English professor David Clarke, who is just like the rest of them, and even works at one of those crumby schools that rich people send their kids to so they don't have to look at them for four years. "There will never be another voice like his." Which is exactly the lousy kind of goddamn thing that people say, because really it could mean lots of things, or nothing at all even, and it's just a perfect example of why you should never tell anybody anything.
-from The Onion