Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Most Indispensable of Duties

On Sunday, October 13th, I proudly participated in the Million Vet March. I'd never been witness to such insurrection, and I returned with a great appreciation for Lafayette's "most sacred of the rights."  Subsequent news coverage has been limited and warped, and I want to commit a firsthand account to writing before it fades: 

The first thing that struck me on my walk to the World War II Memorial was the maintenance being done on the Washington Monument. It took a beating in the 2011 earthquake, but steps are well underway to ensure that future generations will be able to shut it down, too. The sky was overcast and my mind wandered back to long marches on Lackland. Those early steps were links in a chain to my present ones, I reasoned.

I had to use the facilities, but 1.) they were all locked, and 2.) I'm not an illegal immigrant, so I'm not worthy of basic sanitation. I made do, but what of the elderly and disabled Veterans? As petty and pernicious as ever, the administration turned away privately funded porta-potties. Can there be any doubt as to the contempt with which you are held?

A sizable crowd was already in place when I arrived at the Memorial. There were people of all ages and genders, and more than a few were assisted via wheelchair, cane, prosthetic and/or a steady arm. The barricades were in place at the entrance, but some had skirted around them and started touring the site. Within the hour, all obstacles had been forcibly removed and the Memorial opened.

I stood alongside men and women from Bastogne, Chosin, Khe Sahn, Medina Ridge, Tora Bora and Fallujah. Then I learned with mixed emotions that Sarah Palin was arriving. Shortly thereafter, Senators Cruz (R - TX) and Lee (R - UT) also spoke briefly. The support was appreciated, but it's now become fodder for the American state-run media. This was not a GOP or Tea Party rally; per the organizer's own description and follow-ups, it was a non-political, non-sponsored event.

(I may not be a real reporter, but for transparency's sake, I am a registered Independent who served honorably in the United States Air Force.)

In typical fashion, propagandists like CNN's Don Lemon have described the "shameful" event as racists toting Confederate flags (I saw ONE the entire day). Not Veteran's, not the men wounded in combat, not the nurses who mended their wounds half a world away - "these people" were miscreants en masse for having the temerity to oppose Barack Obama. Not for his myriad Constitutional usurpations, not for arming the Mexican cartels, not for Benghazi or the IRS(chutzstaffel) or for calling us terrorists, but because of his mendacity and contempt for the very best of us.

Similarly, the New York Daily News reported that protesters were trying to scale the White House fence. That is an outright fabrication, and truth is indeed treason in the empire of lies.

Bear in mind, this is the same negligent news apparatus that did not do its duty on NAFTA, GATT, The Patriot Act, NDAA, the Federal Reserve, etc. Why would this be any different?

The much-maligned "Truckers Ride For The Constitution" then arrived to show their support. One driver wept as she held her airhorn open. Another stopped his truck, exited and shared an embrace with a Vietnam Veteran. Cars were interspersed throughout, some filled with families whose children waved flags and raised their thumbs in encouragement:

DC Metro Police then blocked off 17th St. SW, preventing all other trucks from entering the area. In doing so, they also blocked the incoming Honor Flight buses. The Veterans did finally make it to their Memorial, despite having to be walked/wheeled five hundred feet to do so.

A sizable group then proceeded to the Lincoln Memorial. By the time I arrived, all the barricades had been removed and the site opened. A helicopter circled overhead, two persons in uniform sitting with their legs out the side. Marine 1 then took off from the west, flying over the reflecting pool. What happened then? No one defecated on a car and no rape tents were erected. We policed ourselves and the area like free men and women, and we sang:

The barricades were then heaved atop shoulders and the march to the White House begun in earnest. To reiterate, there were no politicians or talking heads leading the way (or even present at this point, from my perspective). This was an organic, peaceful and principled endeavor borne by We The People.

The camaraderie throughout the day was amazing, but it shone especially bright during this phase. Total strangers stepped in to relieve the tired men and women, while pedestrians and motorists honked and cheered all along the way.

I'll admit it, this was the first time all day that I felt fear. As if on cue, two DC Metro trucks pulled up on either side of me and the Brother carrying the barricade. The officer was even-tempered and non-aggressive, saying, "Hey, fellas - stop for a sec and let's talk." We declined respectfully and continued on. He must have grabbed the barricade, because it became incredibly hard to pull (I did not turn to look). We plowed onward, around the rear of the front truck, undeterred for the rest of the march.

Upon arriving at the White House, the barricades were stacked nearly to the top of the fence. 

(Photo by Ben Swann and Sonya Sandage)

Snipers and spotters emerged on the roof of the White House. Men in black fatigues with dogs and automatic rifles stood poised to the right of the facility, a car idling with its back door open. Pennsylvania Avenue was blocked off on either side, and DC Metro arrived with a riot squad, an armored vehicle and mounted officers. Some of them were belligerent, the majority were restrained.

I'd never gotten involved in things like this before. On the ride home, however, it struck me that there really was nothing like this, at least not in my lifetime. It seems people of good conscience and character aren't going to sit on their hands anymore, and that's always a good thing. So, while the corrupt media distorts and forces its narrative onto the event, please know that it was not what some are making it out to be. I was there, I was right in the thick of it, I saw it with my own eyes. It was a cadre of brothers and sisters in arms honoring their oaths.

You can discern something's value by what it brings forth. What kind of leader purposefully inflicts maximum pain onto the People he is elected to serve? Is this the America you were born into, and is it the one you want to die in?

Until then, Barack Obama will blockade the memorials again, and we're left to wonder what evil schemes these "terrorists" have afoot:


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Top 9 Funniest Movie Scenes In The History of Ever

9. Will Ferrell takes a tranq dart in the neck in "Old School".

8. Jim Carrey is born again in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective".

7. Inspector Clouseau gets into the nitrous in "The Pink Panther Strikes Again".

6. Speed ahead to 3:16 here to see Harvey Korman's vampire in "High Anxiety" (I couldn't find it on the Tube of You's).

5. The Backwards Bookstore in "Top Secret" was genius.

4.  "Ted" could've filled all ten spots. "Put the ring in her ass... let her fart it out."

3. Eddie Murphy asking for the Sacred Crossed Dagger of Ajanti in "The Golden Child".

2. The 2004 Red Sox hand the Evil Empire the worst. collapse. in. baseball. history.

1. Nicholas Cage scraping his knuckles on the ceiling in "Raising Arizona" here.

0. Don't worry about the numbering, Scro. It's "Idiocracy".

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Don't make a sound, just move out."

I had Yazoo's "Situation" on constant mindloop for three days. It mercifully replaced Lita Ford's "Kiss Me Deadly", but after 753 trips up and down three flights of stairs, I hope to never hear it again.

Based on some rough calculations, I ascended the equivalent of Mt. Everest moving out of my one-bedroom apartment. I pride myself on traveling light, but what the hell happened? Stuff had accumulated, and with it a disproportionate amount of crap.

I'd moved there in 2009, life as I'd known it aflame. It was both a safe zone and a cell. It was entirely too small and smelled of curry. I fell asleep beneath the stars. I was raised, dusted off the ashes of Life 1.0 and started the next leg of my journey with one helluva lady.

The most immediate lesson? Throw shit out! I'm a closet pack rat, apparently. I had reams - I mean this literally, reams - of paper stacked, stored and hidden for posterity. It got to the point that discovering jars of urine would've been totally plausible. When your precious son puts his heart and soul into a barn drawing that looks like a Sanskrit receipt, how can you throw it out?

That's when I decided to carpe diem that m****r f****r. I threw shit out that pained me. I watched its arc into the dumpster and believed I could jump at the last second and avert disaster, a la that cheater par excellence, Dwight Clark. Nevertheless, it was necessary and cathartic. Microprose's F-117 Nighthawk was a seminal game, but I will never, ever own another IBM 386 capable of playing it. I'm all for savoring, not choking.

Just to balance the scales, I did keep a bin of cassette tapes. I'll never be a part of the next Kraftwerk, but there are recordings in there that comprise a very special part in my life. Maybe it's vanity, I don't know, but I just got out of the Air Force and really needed to reconnect with a Me unencumbered. I hear finished products in demos and it's a delusion I'm willing to endure.

I also came across my very first copy of Achtung Baby. Talk about a holy grail - this tape could tell more stories than Mark Twain. For as much as I'm a devoted member of the Black Swarm, this is the greatest album of all time. I listened to "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?" practically as a child, having no comprehension whatsoever of the demons they were exorcising. Wow.

Anyway.... around 2010 or so, I had an undying need for silence. As luck would have it, the gentleman from Bangalore living below me liked to blare Bollywood show tunes at 2:39 am. Now? I hear children stomping above me and relish it. It's no disturbance, it's my sons saying hello. It's a welcome break from the black hole of solitude that I've simply no taste or tolerance for anymore.

I finally hung my Father's pictures. There's one of him in 1953 or so, judging by his stripes. He was a mechanic whose favorite Air Force activity was flooring heavy machinery over dunes in Saudi Arabia. He  went on to become a mechanic for American Airlines, and was then accepted into their Flight Engineer program. He flew in that role for 39 years, and with a disbelief/humility I swore to never forget.

I have a picture of us together at a cabin in Pymatuming, PA, in 2001. He's proudly holding a huge carp on his line, and I'm soaked. He'd put his pole down for some reason or another, and as a matter of course Orca struck. His pole careened into the water and there wasn't a decision to be made.

Father's Day came and went and I hadn't a spare moment to acknowledge it. How's he been gone for almost 8 years now? "I remember only for an hour."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

►▲▲ : Delta Machine

I'll never forget the first time I heard one of their songs: I was on Route 28 in Branchburg, N.J., late for class at Raritan Valley Community College (where I'd either play "Pole Position" or sit in my car and read The National). Some pervert was breathing over top an Ennio Morricone Nintendo song, and I'll be damned if it wasn't the greatest thing I'd ever heard.

They've provided the soundtrack to my life ever since, and if all they did now was play skiffle on a colander, I'd listen. But something weird happened after Songs of Faith and Devotion: I stopped enjoying their work.

When I heard they were back in the studio, I likened it to the Mets being back in spring training. I heard the usual marketing ploy, "This is the next Violator", and filed it away. Then I heard "Heaven" and I was truly apoplectic. It's like they're doing everything in their power to NOT sound like Depeche Mode!

I wasn't sure if I would share this, because who really gives a rat's ass? I'm sick of writing about the usual stuff, though, so here goes:

Status Crow's Semi-Serious Review of Depeche Mode's new album, Delta Machine

"Welcome To My World": They really roll out the welcome mat for you on this one. Either that or you're walking into what a Hideo Kojima nightmare must sound like. There's Ol' Scratch and "One Caress" strings telling of life and love and hard-earned peace. It's already my favorite song on the album.

Favorite line: "Watch the sunrise set, and the moon begin to blush. Our naked innocence translucently too much. And I hold you in my arms and keep you by my side, and we sleep the Devil's sleep just to keep him satisfied."

"Angel": A 33rpm "Condemnation" played at 78. They seem to have forgotten what middle eights are, but it's the greatest @#$% song so far.

Favorite line: "The angel of love was upon me, and Lord, I felt so clean. Like a preacher on Sunday my heart was serene. I waded into the water, I was bathed, I was drowned. Like the sinners before me, I knelt down on the ground."

"Heaven": The songwriting and vocals are superb. But do you recall how the intention for "Enjoy The Silence" was the harmonium version until He That Shall Not Be Named (Or Linked To) turned it into their most sublime achievement? Like "Peace" and "Freelove", this arrangement deserved a similar fate. This is my second-most favorite song on the album.

Favorite line: "I will scream the word, jump into the void. I will guide the herd up to heaven."

"Secret To The End": It's like "Sister of Night" giving the finger to that Some Great Reward couple. What assholes - this isn't a song about the altar, it's about the courthouse. It's the other 50%, the fine print you don't bother to read and therefore you don't have anyone to blame but yourself. Its the official theme song of divorce, and its closing is a relentlessly fitting dirge. I love this song. It's my favorite.

Favorite line: "When I look around this room, there must be something that I can do. Can I convince you that it isn't true? We've come to the end. Did I disappoint you? I wanted to believe it's true. Our book of love was not enough to see us through."
"My Little Universe": This one really is a Nintendo song, until it turns into my favorite song on the album. If its overall theme was bytes getting the blues, then this is the very heart of the machine.The syncopation is difficult, the Gahan-Gore tandem lead vocals finally giving way to a modular synthesizer having an orgasm. I can't believe what I just heard.

Favorite line: "Limited consciousness preserves me. It protects me and just connects enough to keep the wolves at bay. My little universe is expanding slowly, and those who know me say I’m growing every day. Here I am king, I decide everything. I let no one in. No one."

"Slow": They turn on their heels. There are no machines here, only the Delta and an occasional 104ยบ breeze. And seeing as how there's really nothing else for us to be doing right now...

Favorite line: "Let the world keep its carnival pace, I prefer to look into your beautiful face. What a waste. Let the stars continue to fly by, I don't have one desire to understand why. I don't try. Slow, slow, as slow as you can go, I want my senses to overflow. And doesn't it show?"

"Broken": Imagine a "Lie To Me" that stops, turns around and says, "You know what? You suck, but I'm better for having endured the pain you put me through." It's the forgiveness and grace that only the years can give. I hear Marty Balin's "Hearts" in there somewhere, which is nice, but he's not my favorite Martin.

Favorite line: "When you’re falling, I will catch you. You don’t have to fall that far. You can make it, I will be there. You were broken for the start."

"The Child Inside": A Timothy Burton script got into their lyric sheets. And they recorded it anyway. It's seriously disturbing, and Johnny Depp is probably listening to it right now thinking, "This is the greatest song ever." Which it damn well is.

Favorite line: "I've spent so long in the darkness, I'd almost forgotten how beautiful the moonlight is."

"Soft Touch/Raw Nerve": Ladies, imagine "A Question of Time" tearing into the parking lot, only now he's a little older and a lot smarmier. And you go home with him anyway. The song fittingly fades with that low synth part in the build-up of "Stripped", which automatically makes it my favorite song on the album.

Favorite line: "Am I on the right track? Have I picked a bad time? It's seeming that you're dreaming through my eyes. Why protest when your success is my prize?"

"Should Be Higher": It's a bawdy strut. The cadence is Gahan's "Walking In My Shoes" prowl from Devotional, only this time he's not pleading with a jury. His range and delivery are all over the place here; dare I say it's his best vocal ever? It's certainly the best song on the album.

Favorite line: "I dream of a day when I dare to believe you're the answer. When the shame and the guilt are removed, and the truth appears. With the touch of your hand I lose who I am if I want to. I try to resist, but succumb to the bliss of your kiss."

"Alone": By the time you realize this is your favorite song on the album, a bittersweet "Any Second Now - Voices"  sends you on your way. Alone, of course. There's a lot of old Depeche Mode lurking in this album, and it's never more evident than on this track. It's their finest song in 20 years.

Favorite line: "I was there when you needed me most, I was there when you wanted me least. I was your father, your son, and your holy ghost and priest. Through your failures and success, through your losses and gains, I didn't see much happiness or pain."

"Soothe My Soul": Who got their Violator in my Songs of Faith and Devotion?! This is their greatest anthem since "I Feel You", and has a similar structure throughout. The lyrics read like an Ike Turner rap sheet and there's no discernible synth or guitar lead/break, but it's still my favorite song on the album.

Favorite line: "I'm coming for you when the sun goes down. I'm coming for you when there's no one around. I'll come to your house, break down the door. Girl I'm shaking and I need more."

"Goodbye": Dead men walking. The chains clank as you trod along, one man in front of you, another behind. The sun's in your eyes whichever way you look, and you're so thirsty you'd stoop down and drink the dust. Why does it have to come to this?

You reach the platform, make an abrupt turn and start up the steps. The three of you face the crowd, and a man emerges from behind. He carefully places a noose around the man to your left's neck. You hear him whimper, then mumble a prayer. The man to your right starts bellowing curses, and looses his bowels as the knot is tightened around his throat.

Then the man stands in front of you. He looks you dead in the eye and reaches behind his back. You can no more run from this than you could a train, and how you wish you would have realized this years ago. Just think of how easier life would have been, how different, how many would have been spared. You reach out and touch the Book, marked to Micah just like you'd asked. You read aloud for all the condemned the unwavering requirements of justice, mercy and humility, and no matter how quickly you walk away, you always hear the trapdoors fall. That's why this is my favorite song on the album.

Favorite line: "If you see me walking to the Golden Gates, turn around, start talking, stop and hesitate. I'll be waiting up there with my fate in the air for you. Goodbye, pain."

I love Delta Machine. It's a stripper pole in a church, with Leonard Cohen and Tyler Durden doing ecstasy in the confessional. It came to America, sold out the Rose Bowl, caused a riot in the streets of Los Angeles and died the rock 'n roll dream. Then it got resurrected, divorced, battled cancer and finally found peace:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

There Was This Bomb In Boston

What a messed up few weeks, eh? You had these innocents, hanging out all happy-like, and BAM, razor-sharp metal comes ripping out of nowhere, tearing into their skin. Universes, lost. What could these people have done to deserve such a sentence? In an instant they were deemed unworthy and erased, all because they happened to be in a particular place at an unpropitious time.

Oh, and there was this bomb in Boston.

If abortion is made illegal, an argument goes, it will slide into the shadows of back alleys and butchers. How, pray tell, is Kermit Gosnell's monstrosity of a practice any different? Murder on Main Street is somehow not murder?

Where is the coverage of this abomination? The marathon and the fertilizer plant relegated it to a non-story, thanks to our state-run media, and some journalists have even flat-out refused to cover it.

Three of the nine charges detailed in the grand jury report have been dropped. Nevertheless, the remaining accusations are enough the make Josef Mengele jealous. Is this really what women want? What power is there in choosing to be abused? What virtue lies in beheading "little aliens"? Curiously, why so shrill about the rifle and yet so diffident about the scissors? 

Per usual, I've more questions than answers, and concur with the good doctor, both on principle and the federal government's role in such matters:
"If you can't protect life, then how can you protect liberty?"
Speaking of keeping dead babies in jars, we finally met Mrs. Stannis Baratheon. She was just as touched as I'd imagined, and it cemented the rightful king's dour, ever-present anguish. We were also introduced to their sweet , greyscaled daughter, Shireen, and it hit me just how large Westeros really is. Like Tolkien, how could such an expansive world, replete with so many rich characters, arcs, plots, religions and locales all stem from the mind of one man?   

Having already become invested in the characters from seasons one and two, I'm astounded by the depth of the new ones. How and where is there even room?! Beric Dondarrion, the Lightning Lord. Vargo Hoat. Mance Rayder. The amazingly erudite and dismissive Kraznys. But my favorite? Lady Olenna, the Queen of Thorns. Her exposition on the mottoes of the various houses was superb, and "Growing Strong" is ironically pertinent to this entry:

As with last year, episode nine ("The Rains of Castamere") may set a new standard for holyf*ckingshit. George R.R. Martin definitely has a way of making this fantasy world very, very real. As Ned Stark proved, sometimes it's not enough to be good. A little guile can go a very long way...
And who are you, the proud lord said,
that I must bow so low?
Only a cat of a different coat,
that's all the truth I know.
In a coat of gold or a coat of red,
a lion still has claws,
And mine are long and sharp, my lord,
as long and sharp as yours.

And so he spoke, and so he spoke,
that lord of Castamere,
But now the rains weep o'er his hall,
with no one there to hear.

Yes now the rains weep o'er his hall,
and not a soul to ear.