Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Joan Baez, Lynn Woolsey, Lance Armstrong, Suzie's in love with her new step-brother and more

Good evening, we're starting off with Democracy Now!

2,000 Protest Bush in Salt Lake City
While President Bush was speaking, anti-war demonstrators gathered outside calling for the troops to be brought home from Iraq. Protest organizers in Salt Lake City had taken out a permit for a one-thousand person protest - but more than twice that many took to the streets. Celeste Zappala - who co-founded Gold Star Mothers for Peace with Cindy Sheehan - addressed the crowd. Her 30-year-old son Sherwood Baker died in Baghdad last year.

2000 people is just incredible. Can you imagine seeing that number in 2002? Probably not because they would have all been carted away or hidden away. There's a change going on. I see it on campus and at work and it's like things are getting worse for Bully Boy each and every day.
People are catching on to how empty he is and how much damage he's doing to our nation.

Remember "Scattered Thoughts?" The thing I copy and pasted yesterday that C.I. wrote over at The Common Ills? Think about what C.I. was saying in that and how far we've come. We've gone from a nation afraid to say that the Emperor has no clothes on to one that says, "He's naked and, oh gosh, is he ugly!"

Joan Baez & Others Rally At Camp Casey in Crawford, TX
Meanwhile in Crawford Texas, military families, veterans and anti-war activists are continuing their vigil at Camp Casey outside President Bush's 1,600-acre estate. Folk singer Joan Baez spoke to reporters on Monday. "I think the question that nobody wanted to deal with is the question that they're posing - why did my kid die in vain," Baez said. "Because the answer is too awful." Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and actress Margot Kidder have also stopped by the Crawford protest site. Kidder - who is best known for playing Lois Lane in Superman - said she became a U.S. citizen last week in order to be able to protest the war in Iraq without facing the possibility of deportation.

I wouldn't know who Margot Kidder was if Ava and C.I. hadn't mentioned her in their review of Smallville that they called "TV: Super Stripper or Super Chicken, we weigh in on Smallville." So I won't claim I know a lot about her but I will say, "Outstanding" for her going to Crawford and outstanding to Sheila Jackson Lee too. She's a Congresswoman from Texas. Joan Baez?

Ava and Dona and Jess and Rebecca and C.I. are huge Joan Baez fans. My parents have some of her stuff too. So I know who Joan Baez is and I think it is so great that she went to Crawford. She was there Sunday and Monday. She's a classy lady and a great singer.

And if you don't know her, you should read Kat's "Diamonds & Really-Reals:"

Chill, cats, chill. I thought I'd have some fun and read some e-mails and there are forty-three of you asking where my review of Cass Elliot's latest collection is. It wasn't going to run on Monday. And I knew that so I'd asked C.I. to hold it to give me time to rework a section of it.I'm reworking it right now. If I finish, it'll be up tomorrow morning at The Common Ills. If I don't it will be Wednesday probably.
If you missed it this afternoon at The Common Ills, Joan Baez has a live album due out. It's called Bowery Songs and it comes out on September 6th. I don't know whether I'll review it or not (that depends on if it speaks to me) but I will be buying it. I hope you'll think about it too because Joan Baez never sits on the sidelines or waits to see which way the wind is blowing. She's been a brave independent voice for decades and we need to support artists who are like that. Notice that I said "artists." If Baez didn't have that goods, I wouldn't bring it up. But she's a strong singer and I actually prefer her voice as it's matured. I know a lot of people who say they miss that early sixties purity but I think she gets the songs across better now that her voice is lived in.
If Joan Baez is someone you've only heard of but never heard (she is mythic and legendary) then Bowery Songs is a chance for you to sample her.
And for all you kids out there that don't listen to Bob Dylan but pretend you do because he's "cool," you should pick up Joan's album because she lived the life Dylan sang about.
Dylan's not able to hold my interest for much of his eighties out output and after the eighties I'm really lukewarm on him. If anything, I listen to his more recent albums and wonder what Phil Ochs would be recording if he were still alive.
Dylan also has a tendency (after the motor cycle accident or "motor cycle accident" since no one knows for sure what happend) to get way too Old Testament for my tastes. It's the same way I feel about Leonard Cohen. It's just a little too "The end is nigh!" for my tastes.
A good example of that sort of song would be "Dark Eyes." Judy Collins recorded it on her Judy Sings Dylan: Just Like A Woman album of the nineties and she really managed to put it across.But with the Dylan whine and surrounded by more bleak, despair, get in the Arc 'coz the flood's a' coming! songs, it really didn't work on his Empire Burlesque. I think Judy and Joan both do a better job with Dylan's songs than Dylan does himself. That's got nothing to do with range. Judy Collins & Joan Baez have strong vocal ranges, true. But Dylan's never really had one. (Except when he tried to sing on the breath during his Nashville Skyline period and tried to pass it off as "My voice changed 'cause I stopped smoking" nonsense. Though nasal, Dylan always sung in his thoat, forcing the notes out. Critics who fell for the "I stopped smoking" crap didn't know the first thing about singing. Dylan had obviously been working on breath control and was singing on the breath. That's why his voice sounded that way.) Not having a range didn't hurt him in the early days.
But the difference was that he seemed to believe in what he was singing then and sang it with force. Too many songs since have not reflected that he believed in what he was singing. Or he's gotten so lost in his (Old Testament) imagery that he's forgotten how to connect with an audience.
Joan Baez is the Howard Zinn of the music set. I say that because she's political but also because she's something of a historian herself. She's pursued the traditional folk songs and kept them alive for new generations. She's also recorded some of her own songs (I love "Diamonds and Rust" and "Sweeter For Me" to name just two) beginning in the seventies. But something she's done almost from the beginning is to record songs by current writers. Besides exposing Bob Dylan's work to a large audience in the sixties, she's also recorded Phil Ochs, Richard Farina, Natalie Merchant, Ryan Adams and many more.
I'm not saying she doesn't have a clunker in her catalogue, but I am saying that her albums overall are a historical source for strong songs -- traditional ones, her own and some of the best of other writers today.
In an ever more plastic world where "singers" are embarrassed by their belt buckles singing and "enhanced" in the studio by digital tricks, Joan Baez is one of the really-reals. She's authentic and she's true. So consider checking out Bowery Songs September 6th.What am I listening to? Well I was listening to her live CD From Every Stage (one of my favorite live albums) when I started this but now the Beatles' Abby Road is playing.
Speaking of really-reals, I want to note something that C.I. wrote last week. Mike really wanted it to be a Blog Spotlight at The Third Estate Sunday Review in their latest edition. Everyone got behind that idea except C.I. who feels that other people need to be spotlighted more. So a thing by Jess (which is great) got spotlighted instead. Dona and Jim both kept going "We can have more than one Blog Spotlight." But C.I. said no, to give the focus to Jess. So I'm posting "Scattered Thoughts" in full here. From a really-real, a strong and true voice. We need more of them in all areas.

Kat goes on to post "Scattered Thoughts" like I did yesterday which I think is so great because we really need to make sure people know about that thing.

Now for the third thing I want to note from Democracy Now!

Rep. Lynn Woolsey to Hold Hearings on Iraq Exit Strategy
In Washington, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey of California has announced she will hold hearings on Sept. 15 on how the U.S. can leave Iraq. She said the hearings will be modeled on the one organized by Congressman John Conyers about the Downing Street Memos. Woolsey said, "We'll hear from academics, military personnel and other experts about strategies to achieve military disengagement while still playing a constructive role in the rebuilding of Iraqi society." The hearings will come a week before the major Sept. 24 anti-war rally in Washington.

Thank you to Lynn Woolsey who's got guts, courage and everything else that this country needs.
I'm so happy that someone's got the guts to push this forward. We want it, us unelected people. It's only our officials that won't deal with it and make it happen. Lynn Woolsey is a hero in my book and we don't got a lot of those.

Take Lance Armstrong who's going to trash his own achievements by going down in the history books as Bully Boy's little buddy. If you don't believe me, check out Dave Zirin's "Pedaling Away from Principle:"

"The Tour de Crawford." The words blared from a red, white, and blue piece of spandex that George W. Bush presented to Lance Armstrong at his Crawford, Texas ranch. The gifting followed a 17-mile bike ride where they gazed at the landscape that Bush calls "my slice of heaven." Armstrong gushed about Bush's riding prowess afterward, saying to ABC News, "That old boy can go ... I didn't think he would punish himself that much, but he did." By the way, the war and occupation of Iraq "never came up."
This is bitterly disappointing. Armstrong took a strong stand against the war right after his amazing 7th consecutive Tour de France victory. With the sweat still pouring down his face he said, "The biggest downside to a war in Iraq is what you could do with that money. What does a war in Iraq cost a week? A billion? Maybe a billion a day? The budget for the National Cancer Institute is four billion. That has to change. Polls say people are much more afraid of cancer than of a plane flying into their house or a bomb or any other form of terrorism."
Armstrong's Texas Toady Two-Step is even more maddening given that Crawford is not exactly neutral vacation space for George W. Bush these days. In fact his five-week siesta has been gloriously disrupted by the real world. Cindy Sheehan lost her son Casey in the Iraqi carnage, and came to Crawford to make her anguish Bush's problem. She has requested an audience with
the President, and legions of supporters have flocked to her side. Sheehan, with striking moral and political clarity, is demanding not only answers, but immediate and total troop withdrawal from Iraq. She has garnered international attention at a time when Bush's poll numbers have never been lower. Yet Bush scoffed at the idea of meeting with Cindy, saying, "I need to get on with my life."
This is the political hornet's nest Lance Armstrong biked into. This is where Lance had an opportunity to to not just talk the talk, but also walk the walk. But Armstrong neither talked nor walked. Maybe its unrealistic to think that Lance could have suggested a bike detour to Camp Casey. Perhaps it's a flight of fantasy to imagine that Lance would organize a Critical Mass Bike Ride to jam the gates of Crawford. But his utter silence, given both what he knows about Iraq, and the presence of Camp Casey, spoke volumes.

"That old boy can go?" You know where Lance should go? To get there, he'll have to pull his lips off Bully Boy's butt first. Disgusting.

Bradford e-mailed me about that and said that Lance Armstrong is beyond disgusting. Which brings us to the e-mail asking for advice. The one that's standing out to me is Suzie's (and that's not her real name).

Suzie is 16 and she's got a new stepfather as of June. She likes Step-Dad and thinks he's nice and makes her Mom happy. But what's bothering her is that because Step-Dad got married, his ex-wife has just sent his kids on over to live with them. That's three kids. 1 of them is a 17 year old son. Tom (not his real name) is really cool, Suzie says. He's funny and smart and makes her laugh. She also says he looks "really hot:" "like Ashton Kutcher without the bad parts."

Suzie's problem is she's really attracted to Tom. And he is now her step-brother so she's wondering how "gross am I?" 1 of the 2 other kids told her that Tom likes her too. Suzie wonders if she should say something or do something?

Here's my advice and anybody who wants to weigh in can do so and we'll put it up Thursday (tomorrow I do the interview with Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review). Suzie, I don't think it's gross because you two didn't grow up together and all. You're 16 and he's 17 and you're just meeting.

But before you start locking lips you need to think about the fact that you are living under the same roof and that will probably bother your parents a lot. While they want you to get along, I doubt they're wanting a couple. So if something happens and you sneak around, it's going to get out. And once it does, they're going to be very suspicious about what's going on in the house.

My advice to Suzie is to mention to her mother that she thinks Tom is hot. Mom's reaction will determine what happens next. If she hits the roof, Suzie knows to chill. If she thinks it's "cute" that the families are getting along so well, Suzie will know that too. And if anything happens, Suzie can say, "I told you I thought he was hot!" So then it's not like Suzie was pretending or trying to fool anyone.

But I do think that if something does happen (sex or just kissing), Suzie needs to think about the fact that there's no escape from Tom. It's not like she and Tom can fight and then avoid each other for a week or something because they live in the same house. I really don't think the risks are worth pursuing a relationship but if Suzie does, that's her business. But she needs to make sure her Mom knows, this is the first thing, that she likes Tom.

Suzie should also be prepared that Tom might not like her that way and that the more she gets to know Tom (they met at the wedding and haven't seen each other since this week when Tom and his 2 siblings moved in) may mean she finds him less attractive and interesting.