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Friday, July 20, 2018

Which bucket?

I know it's the dead of summer, but I'm tired of all this drag-and-drop bullshit. Can't we take a break and hang out in the courtyard for an hour or two, sipping cool drinks and listening to some boss tunes? No? Sheesh.

Okay, so yes, I'm frittering away my summer in the basement of the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill, keeping my head down, concentrating on the task before me. What task is that, you may ask? And well you may. Archiving, my friends, archiving. Plowing through decades of audio tape, capturing songs that have never been committed to a hard drive; songs recorded on primitive ribbons of tape, stored away in shoeboxes, and nearly forgotten. Literally hundreds of recordings, the overwhelming majority made by Matt in the privacy of my abandoned bedroom.

Who says you can't carry a tune in a bucket?It's an exhausting undertaking, particularly when you are as work-averse as I am. Still, I've made pretty good progress. I've gotten most of them transferred to digital, and now I'm pruning around the edges, looking for songs that I know exist but haven't located on tape as of yet. I'm also trying to fit all of Matt's Christmas song collections into appropriate buckets -- he did about eleven of them, starting with a handful of songs in 1985 up through 1995. They represent a subset of his total output, but even so, it amounts to about 60 - 70 songs. I'm curating them so that at some point interested parties can listen to each year's collection in its original sequence.

What's the point of this pointless exercise? Well, it's one way to kill a summer ... before the summer kills me. It's kill or be killed in this era of climate change. So I wind my way down to the cool basement and dig through old banker boxes looking for buried treasure from the forgotten eighties. (Forgotten because no one seems to remember much of what happened during that decade.) At some point, I will find a way to post versions of at least a selection of these songs, though I must admit that my preference is for building that big, honking web jukebox I mentioned a few weeks back - just belly up to the interactive console and pick a number between one and three hundred. Sounds like a plan.

Hey, Marvin (my personal robot assistant) .... close the door on your way out. And yes ... that's my way of saying GET OUT.

Some dare.

This has been a hair-on-fire week in American politics, prompted by Trump's bizarre behavior at his ill-prepared Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There were calls of treason and shameful behavior in the face of a principal "enemy", "adversary", "foe"... whatever Russia may be in the eyes of mainstream politicians and pundits. You know the facts - Trump, of course, contradicted his intelligence advisors, suggesting that he believes Putin's denials regarding the hack against Democrats in particular and the electoral system in general during the 2016 race. He then walked it back - and I mean this literally - like a five-year-old might; that, of course, was enough for those occasional Republican critics of the president. He misspoke on one phrase ... THAT clears it up.

This is waaay too easy....That said, the coverage of this series of incidents has been so over the top it's almost dizzying. Mainstream center-left commentary has portrayed this performance as evidence of treason, selling out the country, proof that Donald Trump is a mere puppet of the nefarious Vladimir Putin. It's a circumstance in which everyone from war hawks like John McCain to drone apologist John Brennan to Rachel Maddow is in full agreement: Trump should have been tougher on the Russians. He should have never held this summit. Our country was "attacked" by Russia. Their interference in our election was "an attack on American Democracy" of a magnitude similar to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. How many died in the battle of Election 2016? Ask these folks.

This much I know: Trump was essentially wasting our time meeting with the Russian president. No significant advance work was done, and God knows there are a lot of issues that should be discussed with Putin and his government, particularly with the latest START treaty cruising toward expiration. That isn't treason so much as Trump being the usual incompetent boob. Now, I have no doubt that the president either has extensive financial interests in Russia in the form of loans from oligarchs and gangsters or would like to do business there in the future and, therefore, is eager to curry favor with the wealthy cabal of gangsters that own that country. I even think it's possible that Trump's laser-like focus on his own self-interest may have prompted him to violate the law by exchanging some pledge of Russia-friendly presidential action for help in the election. Time will tell.

But is Trump some kind of Manchurian candidate? God no. He is loyal to nothing but himself. So in a sense he's a traitor to the country, but only in the same way that most rich people are, placing wealth above all else, forsaking all but self, to paraphrase Adam Smith. On that, he's guilty as charged.

luv u,

jp