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Friday, June 1, 2018

Dictating machine.

Hmmmm.... damn thing won't upload. Stupid internets! Marvin - are you on the phone again? You're supposed to wait until I'm done using the web. Stupid phone!

Man, I'll tell you - it's not easy living in an abandoned hammer mill. None of the familiar modern conveniences of American life. No wi-fi, no broadband, no blender, no dry ice ... I could go on. But we're used to that sort of thing. As you know, Big Green has always flown pretty low to the ground. That's why so many of our contemporaries have become famous while we remain in the alt-pop toilet. When we go low, they go high. It's like a freaking see-saw. (Did you see what I saw?)

Anyhow, people like us, we learn to do without. When Matt and I were piecing together the first iteration of this band, back in the late seventies / early eighties, we had the cheapest equipment any band ever thought of using. Our PA speakers sounded like kazoos. Our guitar and keyboard amps were underpowered and flaccid. Even worse, we never had anything decent to record on. One stereo reel-to-reel deck followed us around for a while, but it was of little use beyond serving as a tape echo. A friend of our early eighties drummer, Phil Ross, gave us his old dictaphone mono take deck, which we used to record demos of songs we might take into the studio if we could get the scratch together (which we did, eventually).

Yeah, that's the shit.It took a couple of years, but at some point we moved up to a Panasonic audio cassette deck, the kind that you would use in a home stereo system. We used that and a couple of mics to record ourselves playing in the living room, etc. (Excerpts of those sessions made it on to Matt's very early compilation, "The Todd Family Chronicles".) Matt got a second deck and started bouncing tracks, overdubbing, then around 1985 he bought his first cassette portastudio. That kind of took us to a different place musically, though where that place is, I'm not entirely certain. As we could, we got better gear, but our songwriting and recording process has remained about the same as it was with that first portastudio.

Now we record like everybody else does - on a freaking computer. Fact is, a depiction of pretty much any profession now looks like somebody sitting at a freaking computer.

Descent of man.

When I was about 14, I got obsessed with books of various descriptions and started ordering volumes practically at random from overstock houses like Publisher's Central Bureau and others. One of the mail-order books I pored over was an oversized tome titled Prop Art, which I still have in the bookcase in my office. It's an illustrated history of propaganda posters from the late nineteenth Century up until the 1970s, and some of the most memorable iclasllustrations were those of pseudo-scientific racist posters and handbills from one of the neo-NAZI stormtrooper organizations in the 1960s. One sickening example presented a comparison between a black person and a gorilla, arguing feature-by-caricatured-feature that the two were very similar and that the "Races are definitely NOT equal".

Could've seen THAT coming.I thought of that poster this week when the Rosanne Barr story broke. I will admit that I was never among her fans, but I like to think that fandom would not have kept me from despising her when she started hurling racist epithets. The fact is, that did not start this past week. Since her hey-day in the 1980s-90s, apparently Barr has been careening to the right, adopting and promoting bizarre-ass conspiracy theories, endorsing an increasingly more militarist and oppressive Israeli government, race baiting black women and Muslims, and so on. Clearly, ABC - which has garnered a lot of pundit credit for having fired Barr so quickly - never should have hired her in the first place. But then again, they are in business to make money, right?

We may as well face it - when it comes to the major media content corporations, the bottom line is the bottom line. ABC had a big hit on their hands with Barr, until she, quite predictably, shit all over it by letting her bigoted freak flag fly. They probably made some of the money they were planning on making. NBC did the same thing with Donald Trump. As Lawrence O'Donnell has pointed out, NBC made Trump's bones as a reality television star, kept him on the air through his racist "birther" campaign against Obama, and ran his election rallies from end-to-end during the campaign. That, more than anything, made that bigot president. But it also made NBC money. And as that CBS chief executive said after the election, it may be bad for the country but it's good for the corporation.

So I guess some congratulations should go to our corporate media for propelling the descent of man that is the Trump era. Nice work, folks.

luv u,

jp