I love year end “best of” lists but recognize that without hearing everything released in any given year it is impossible for these lists to be anything other than an extremely subjective selection of a small fraction of music produced in a twelve month period. The fact that more and more artists are releasing their own work, bypassing the handful of media conglomerates that still exist, music that may be fantastic but few will hear, makes “best of” lists anything but definitive. These lists are just a reflection of what the listmaker (with the help of buzz, promotional hype or through sheer diligence) was able to access in the massive amount of pop culture information available out there.
So this is not my “best of” list for 2011. It’s just some of the best music I encountered in the past year, songs and albums that made me feel good about the state of rock and roll. I also felt a few of these artists deserve more exposure. As the avenues for sharing music expands, some good stuff is getting lost in the shuffle. And artists that don’t need my help are getting some of my love anyway, as in the case of Watch The Throne by Kanye West and Jay Z.
Sometimes hype can distract from music worthy of serious attention. It seems that we’ve returned to an era in which we need to remind uppity Black folk of their place. On the radical tip, Watch The Throne deals with race, power, subjugation and fear of a Black planet with the incisively self-critical, self-defining and proudly defiant attitude that energized Huey Newton’s Revolutionary Suicide. As a musical message, Kanye and Jay Z brought Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On state-of-the union address into the moment and everybody missed the point. You had better watch the throne, white boy. Blacks have grown tired of proving they can beat you at your own game. Time to level up.
I listened to a lot of new music in 2011. I’m always looking for a new rock and roll thrill, hoping that some band will give me one of those four hour hard-ons that the Viagra commercials keep warning us about. But most of the stuff out there doesn’t get a rise out of me. Which makes me wonder if I’m just too fucking old and jaded to have those musical experiences that alter the chemistry in my brain.
Listening to the recently released Smile sessions by The Beach Boys reminded me of a time in which rock and roll could be a mindaltering event that occurred between musicians and their audience. We got high together. That collective evolutionary process triggered by rock and roll seems to be a thing of the past. When was the last time a band elevated your consciousness? Is it my problem or the state of the art?
An album that raises the hairs on my neck and seems to aspire to something transcendent is from a band that I knew nothing about until I saw them perform live in Austin this past summer. AWOLNATION’s Megalithic Symphony (don’t let the title put you off) is a stunning pop creation that amazes over the course of 15 beautifully crafted tracks. The brainchild of lead singer, producer and songwriter Aaron Bruno, Megalithic Symphony seamlessly mixes punk, L.A. hardcore, funk, hip hop and pop that recalls some of the best of Prince, The Clash, Trent Reznor, World Party, Shuggy Otis, TSOL, The Stones, Beastie Boys and countless other really good bands…I know it sounds like I’m stretching here, but I’m really not. AWOLNATION is a thrilling compression of several decades worth of rock and roll goodness. Aaron Bruno has the chops to be a major force in music. He could also end up crashing and burning like Terence Trent D’Arby, with whom he shares a brilliant sense of pop craft and psychological complexity (his songs are filled with self-doubt and yearning for redemption). Bruno’s delectable tunes have shiny surfaces that contain dark undertows and his vocals veer from hellbent to heavenly. This cat deserves your attention.
Let England Shake, P.J. Harvey’s lament for EngLand’s lost soul, is the sound of ghosts pressing against the strings of an autoharp and voices fluttering like bleached butterflies from a box of decaying daguerreotypes. Shapeshifter Harvey becomes the militant cry of a woman betrayed by country, seared with the high-pitched pain of a wife mourning the death of husband, brother and father.
Thrice and The War On Drugs create road music that has cost me at least a few gallons of gas as I circle the block, their CDs spinning like hubcaps, giving me all kinds of reasons not to cruise to a stop and shift into park..
EMA’s California is so spookily seductive that I forgive her for getting the state wrong. She took the wrong exit and actually ended up in Las Vegas.
Florence Welch’s machine has erected the sonic equivalent of a Cecil B. DeMille set and the artifice is exhilarating.
Had I heard it in its entirety before putting this mix together, The Black Keys’ El Camino would have made the cut.
01. “The Other Shoe” - Fucked Up
02. “Blinded” - Thrice
03. “Midnight City” - M83
04. “California” - EMA
05. “Not Your Fault” - AWOLNATION
06. “No Church In The Wild” - Kanye West/Jay Z
07. “Baby Missiles” - The War On Drugs
08. “I Can See Through You” - The Horrors
09. “Burn It Down” - AWOLNATION
10. “Vessel” - Zola Jesus
11. “Leave My Body” - Florence And The Machine
12. “Human Condition” - Joan As Police Woman
13. “Your Love Is Calling My Name” - The War On Drugs
14. “Revelation Road” - Shelby Lynne
15. “Heroes And Villains” - The Beach Boys (“Smile” re-master)
16. “Written On The Forehead” - P.J. Harvey
17. “Chinatown” - Destroyer
Song Of The Blind Girl and The President Goes To Heaven are two features that recently premiered at the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based festival. Both low-budget films are from writer-director Tom Charley, who apparently won the $100,000 prize for his bizarre movies, as well as an additional $10,000 prize for best trailers(!). I don’t exactly know the back story of this festival, but if the competition was so weak that these films (and trailers) won an actual six-figure monetary prize, well, that’s, pretty pathetic. (The same guy won the year before, too, with his 2010 film Lucy’s Law.)
Song Of The Blind Girl is about a PTSD-suffering Irag War vet who kidnaps children he mistakes for his own, to reconstruct his family. The President Goes To Heaven is about a dictatorial US President who can’t get past the pearly gates.
Alert the cinematic schlockmeisters at Severin Films, I think they might have another Birdemic on their hands, maybe two!
First the $10k winning trailer for Song Of The Blind Girl. Was this cut with scissors or what?:
You’re asking yourself “What the fuck is this?” right now, aren’t you?
Now carry on to the trailer for Tom Charley’s eariler “award-winning” film, Lucy’s Law, after the jump…
Legendary post-punk/funk art terrorist Mark Stewart is back with an urgent, apocalyptic new track, “Nothing is Sacred” which you can download for free at his website.
The track is a damning indictment of greed in a year riddled by riots, revolutions, occupations and increasing collapse of the global financial system. A collaboration with Crass vocalist Eve Libertine, German electro monsters Slope and Dan Catsis from the Pop Group on bass “Nothing Is Sacred”’s howling funk-rock and unyielding political attack evolved from the sessions for Mark’s forthcoming album.
Stewart’s re-emergence seems particularly well-timed considering current events. 2012 will see the release of the new album from the Pop Group/New Age Steppers/Maffia frontman featuring collaborators like Richard Hell, Primal Scream, filmmaker Kenneth Anger, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Gina Birch from The Raincoaits and original PiL guitarist Keith Levene.
The 12-member congressional “Super Committee” failed, as we all knew it would, when Republicans stood firm in their craven, lickspittle fealty to the wealthiest Americans. Everyone knew, everyone paying even the slightest bit of attention to these clowns—and their Democrat “enablers”—that it was going to fail. No one was surprised. No one at all. Failure WAS the expectation from day one (Is there even a single dissenter to that opinion, on the right or left out there? Anyone? I didn’t think so).
The Occupy Movement has been criticized by small-minded types for “having no plans” etc, but what did they expect after merely a few weeks, anyway?
And then there is thisextraordinary document (below) in which the Occupy Washington, DC peeps throw down the gauntlet in style. Reproduced here in full. I encourage you to read them both carefully and then share these documents with everyone you know, on FB, on Twitter and everywhere else.
[Note, I am not putting this in block quotes, it would be 4ft. long if I did, but to make it clear in case it’s not: I did not write this. I agree with it wholeheartedly, and I very strongly endorse it, but I did not write it and I don’t want to confuse anyone that I did, okay?]
WHEREAS THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION PROVIDES THAT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
WE, THE NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a more perfect Union, by, for and of the PEOPLE, shall elect and convene a NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY the week of July 4, 2012 in the City Of Philadelphia to prepare and ratify a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES on behalf of the Ninety-Nine Percent of United States citizens.
I. Election of Delegates:
In or about March 2012, the People, consisting of all United States citizens who have reached the age of 18, regardless of party affiliation and voter registration status, shall elect Two Delegates, one male and one female, by direct vote, from each of the existing 435 Congressional Districts to represent the People at the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY. The office of Delegate shall be open to all United States citizens who have reached the age of 18.
No candidate for Delegate to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY will be permitted to run on a party line or use any party label while running for or serving as a Delegate. No candidate or Delegate may take private money from any source except to fund his or her trip to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Election Committees in the 435 voting districts, consisting of volunteers, shall organize, coordinate and transparently fund this election. The voting process shall be free from the corrupting influence of corporate money and all funds raised by the Working Group on the 99% Declaration shall be used for the purpose of funding the election of Delegates and providing a venue for the Delegates to meet in Philadelphia.
II. Meeting of the National General Assembly and Approval of a Petition for a Redress of Grievances:
In addition to ensuring a free and fair election of the Delegates to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, the Working Group on the 99% Declaration shall be responsible for raising sufficient funds to secure a venue wherein the 876* Delegates may convene, deliberate and ratify a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES. The ratified PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES will be signed by the Delegates and presented to all 535 members of Congress, the 9 members of the Supreme Court, the President of the United States and each of the political candidates seeking to be elected to federal public office in the November 2012 general election. Because the time in Philadelphia will be limited, between March 2012 and July 2012, the elected Delegates shall meet electronically, or in person if possible, to confer and write the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES. Subject to the voting procedure regarding the final vote for ratification of the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES as set forth in section III, the Delegates of the National General Assembly shall implement their own rules, procedures, agenda, code of conduct, internal elections or appointments of committee members to efficiently and expeditiously accomplish the People’s mandate to present a PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES to all three branches of the government of the United States of America and political candidates before the 2012 general election.
III. Content of the Petition for a Redress of Grievances:
The PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES ratified by the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY shall be non-partisan and specifically address the critical issues now confronting the People of the United States of America. The PETITION shall be a product of the 876 elected Delegates who will confer with the American People during its creation. While attending the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in July 2012 the Delegates shall deliberate and vote upon grievances, proposals and solutions to be included in the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES and, if necessary, adjourn for further consultation with the American People as our founding fathers did during the first two Continental Congresses. The final vote ratifying the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES shall be by a simple majority vote of the 876 delegates. A duly elected chairperson of the National General Assembly shall determine the outcome of the final vote on ratification in the event of a tie. Upon ratification, all of the Delegates shall affix their signatures to the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES so it may be served upon all candidates running for national political office in the 2012 general election and the seated members of the three branches of the United States Government.
IV. Suggested Content of the Petition for a Redress of Grievances.
In order to facilitate the timely election of the 876 Delegates to the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY by July 4, 2012 and submission of the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES before the 2012 general election, the Working Group on the 99% Declaration, shall include with this Declaration a suggested list of grievances to be submitted to the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY no later than April 30, 2012. The final version of the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES, to be written and ratified solely by the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, may or may not include the following issues currently suggested by the Working Group on the 99% Declaration:
1. Elimination of the Corporate State. The merger of the American political system of republican democracy with the economic system of capitalism has resulted in the establishment of a corporate government of, by and for the benefit of domestic and multi-national corporations. Therefore, the 99% of the American People demand an immediate ban on all direct and indirect private contributions of any thing of value, to all politicians serving in or running for federal office in the United States. This ban shall extend to all individuals, corporations, “political action committees,” “super political action committees,” lobbyists, unions and all other private sources of money or things of value, including but not limited to, promises of employment. Private funding of political campaigns from concentrated sources of wealth have corrupted our political system. Therefore, all private funding of political campaigns shall be replaced by the fair, equal and TOTAL public financing of all federal political campaigns.
We, the 99% of the American People, categorically REJECT the concepts that corporations are persons and that money is equivalent to free speech because if that were so, then only the wealthiest people, corporations and entities possessing concentrated wealth would have a meaningful voice in our society. We demand the immediate and complete elimination of all private political contributions through the enactment of new campaign finance laws and Constitutional amendment if necessary. It has become clear that politicians in the United States cannot regulate themselves and have become the exclusive representatives of corporations, unions and the very wealthy who indirectly and directly spend vast sums of money on political campaigns to influence the candidates’ decisions when they attain office and ensure their reelection year after year despite historically low disapproval ratings by the American People. It has been estimated that 94% of all federal political campaigns are won by the candidate who spends the most money on the campaign. As a result, our elected representatives spend far too much time fundraising for the next election rather than doing the People’s business. This constant need for more and more money, causes our politicians to labor under obscene conflicts of interest that make it impossible for them to act in the best interests of the American People. Indeed, the current system’s propagation of legalized bribery and conflicts of interests has reduced our democracy to a greed driven corporatocracy run by oligarchs who represent .05 to 1% of the population but own 38% to 40% of the wealth. Through their exclusive control of politicians, the incomes of the top 1% have increased 275% since 1979 while most other salaries have remained virtually flat or declined.
2. Abrogation of the “Citizens United” Case. The immediate abrogation, even if it requires a Constitutional Amendment, of the outrageous and anti-democratic Supreme Court holding in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and its progeny. This heinous decision proclaimed by the United States Supreme Court in 2010 equates the direct and indirect payment of money to politicians by political action committees, corporations, wealthy individuals and unions with the exercise of protected free speech. We, the 99% of the American People, demand that this institutional bribery never again be deemed protected free speech and all direct and indirect private payments to politicians end immediately.
3. Elimination of All Private Benefits and “Perks” to Public Servants. The 99% of the American People demand the immediate prohibition of special benefits to all federal elected officials, public employees, officers, public servants, officials or their immediate family members including a corrupt “revolving door” in and out of our government. Elected and unelected public officials and their immediate families shall be banned from ever being employed by any corporation, lobbying firm, individual or business that the public official specifically regulated while in office. No public employee, officer, official or their immediate family members shall own or hold any stock or shares in any corporation or other entity that the elected or unelected public official specifically regulated while in office until a full 5 years after their term or employment is completed. There shall be a complete lifetime ban on the acceptance of all gifts, services, money or thing of value, directly or indirectly, by any elected or appointed public official or their immediate family members, from any person, corporation, union or any other entity that the public official was charged to specifically regulate while he or she was in office.
The term “specifically regulate” shall mean service or employment on a committee or sub-committee or service within any agency or department of the federal government responsible for the regulation of the person, union, corporation or entity in question. To root out corruption and restore integrity to our political system, all elected politicians and public employees must ONLY collect their salary, generous healthcare benefits and pension. To enforce these policies, Congress shall immediately pass new criminal laws banning the aforementioned private benefits to politicians and public officials. Any person, including individuals connected directly or indirectly to corporations, lobbyists, or unions who violate these new criminal laws shall be sentenced to a term of mandatory imprisonment of no less than two years and not more than ten years. Special benefits shall include the use of insider information by elected and unelected public officials to profit in financial markets or investments.
4. Term Limits. Members of the United States House of Representatives shall be limited to serving no more than four two-year terms in their lifetime. Members of the United States Senate shall be limited to serving no more than two six-year terms in their lifetime. The two-term limit for President shall remain unchanged. Serving as a member of Congress or as the President of the United States is one of the highest honors and privileges our culture can bestow. These positions of prominence in our society should be sought to serve one’s country and not provide a lifetime career designed to increase personal wealth and accumulate power for the sake of vanity and hubris. The lengths that today’s politicians will go to for the sake of clinging to power demonstrate the critical need for term limits and making career politicians the exception rather than the rule.
5. A Fair Tax Code. A complete reformation and simplification of the United States Tax Code to require ALL individuals and corporations to pay a fair share of a progressive, graduated income tax by eliminating loopholes, unfair tax breaks, exemptions and unfair deductions, subsidies and ending all other methods of evading taxes. The current system of taxation unjustly favors the wealthiest Americans, many of whom pay fewer taxes to the United States Treasury than citizens who earn much less and pay a much higher percentage of their incomes in taxes. Any corporation or entity that does business in the United States and generates income from that business in the United States shall be fully taxed on that income regardless of corporate domicile or they will be barred from earning their profits in the United States. This will allow honest companies and individuals who pay their fair share in taxes to take over those markets in the United States economy. Businesses that pay taxes in other countries will no longer be permitted to use that excuse to justify their failure to pay federal income tax in the United States.
6. Healthcare for All. Medicare for all or adoption of a universal single-payer healthcare system. The broken Medicaid program will be eliminated as redundant. Affordable healthcare shall be a human right.
7. Protection of the Planet. Human greed, exponentially magnified by corporations, is destroying the only habitable planet known to humanity. Multinational corporations have purchased so much influence in Congress (and other governments in the world) that they can secure the passage or blockage of regulations to maximize profits and minimize conservation of the environment. The evidence of climate change due to human activity can no longer be denied by rational people. New comprehensive laws and regulations must be immediately enacted to give the Environmental Protection Agency, and other environmental protection regulators, expanded powers and resources to shut down corporations, businesses or any entities that intentionally or recklessly damage the environment, and to criminally prosecute individuals who intentionally or recklessly damage the environment. No corporate veil should protect any employee, officer or director of a corporation who is directly or indirectly engaged in the intentional or reckless decimation of the planet for profit. The amount of profit a corporation can make must be balanced (by conflict-free regulators) with the inevitable damage that human activity inflicts on the environment. The 99% of the American People demand the immediate implementation of new and existing programs to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels to reusable or carbon neutral sources of energy and higher greenhouse gas emission standards so that something will be left for our children and grandchildren. The rights to clean air, water, and conservation of the planet for future generations shall no longer be infringed by greed-driven corporations and selfish individuals.
8. Debt Reduction. Adoption of an immediate plan to reduce the national debt to a sustainable percentage of GDP by 2020. Reduction of the $15 trillion national debt to be achieved by BOTH fair progressive taxation and cuts in spending that benefit corporations engaged in perpetual war for profit, inefficient healthcare, pharmaceutical exploitation, over-prescribing medications for profit, the communications industry, the prison and military industrial complexes, banking and finance, the oil and gas industry, and all other entities that have used the federal budget as a private income stream resulting in our $15 trillion debt. We agree that spending cuts are necessary but those cuts must be made to facilitate what is best for the People of the United States of America, not corporations who care for nothing except profit.
9. Jobs for All Americans. Passage of a comprehensive job and job-training act like the American Jobs Act to employ our citizens in jobs that are available with specialized training. The American People must be put to work now by repairing America’s crumbling infrastructure and building other needed public works projects. In conjunction with a new jobs act, reinstitution of the Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps and similar emergency governmental agencies tasked with creating new projects to provide jobs to the 46 million People living in poverty, the 8.6% unemployed and 16.2% who are underemployed.
10. Student Loan Forgiveness. Our students are more than $1 trillion in debt from education loans and have fewer employment prospects due to the financial collapse directly caused by the unbridled and unregulated greed of Wall Street. Banks receive virtually interest free loans from the Federal Reserve Bank and then charge upwards of 6% interest to our students for profit. Because education is the only way to ensure our future success as a nation, interest on student debts must be immediately reduced to 2% or less and repayments deferred for periods of unemployment. Subject to the provisions of point five herein, the tax code will be amended so that employers will receive a student loan repayment tax deduction for paying off the loans of their employees. Moreover, to reduce the principal on all outstanding student loans, a financial transaction surcharge, similar to those fees charged by banks on consumers, will be introduced. This surcharge will serve as restitution and reparations for Wall Street’s intentional and reckless conduct leading to widespread unemployment after the economic collapse in 2007-2008. This economic crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, resulted in the $1.5 trillion dollar bail out of Wall Street, secret Federal Reserve loans, and unknown losses to the economy estimated to be in the trillions of dollars. Banks and the financial institutions they are permitted to own (see point 16 infra) have caused the current worldwide recession, debt crisis and ongoing turmoil in the international markets.
11. Immigration Reform and Improved Border Security. Immediate passage of the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration and border security reform including offering visas, lawful permanent resident status and citizenship to the world’s brightest and most highly skilled People to come, stay and work in our industries and schools after they obtain their education and training in the United States.
12. Ending of Perpetual War for Profit. Recalling all military personnel at all non-essential bases including but not limited to Europe, South Korea, Japan, Australia and Cuba and refocusing national defense goals to address threats posed by the geopolitics of the 21st century, including terrorism and limiting the large scale deployment of military forces to those instances where Congressional approval has been granted. New laws must be enacted to counter the Military Industrial Complex’s mission of perpetual war for profit. The United States has engaged in war after war only to later to discover that the pretexts relied upon to enter these wars were false or exaggerated to generate profits for the Military Industrial Complex and other corporations and individuals. The annual savings created by updating our military posture and ending perpetual war will be applied to the social programs outlined herein to improve the quality of life for human beings rather than facilitating and assisting corporations engaged in mass-murder for profits distributed to the top 1% of wealth owners.
13. Emergency Reform of Public Education. The education system in the United States is a resounding failure. New educational goals to train the American public to perform jobs in a 21st century economy, particularly in the areas of technology, infrastructure repair, water and resource conservation and green energy must be mandated as national security issue. These reforms must be accomplished by taking into consideration the redundancy caused by technology and the inexpensive cost of labor in China, India and other developing countries. Tenure should be eliminated in primary public education in favor of merit performance and paying our teachers a competitive salary commensurate with the salaries in the private sector. These salaries must be based upon similar skills found in the private sector because without highly-skilled teachers, there will never be a highly-skilled workforce and the United States will fall further and further behind its competitors.
14. End Outsourcing. Subject to the elimination of corporate tax loopholes and exploited exemptions and deductions as stated in point five, limited tax incentives will be permitted to entice businesses to hire our citizens rather than outsource jobs. Conversely, an “outsourcing tax” should be introduced to discourage businesses from sending jobs overseas and tax incentives should be offered to companies that invest in reconstructing the manufacturing capacity of the United States. This country must again competitively produce everyday products in the United States rather than importing them from countries like China and India. To do business in the United States, corporations must make slightly less profit by hiring American workers and paying them a living wage rather than maximizing every penny of profit to the detriment of our society.
15. End Currency Manipulation. Implementing immediate legislation (see e.g. H.R. 639) to encourage China (which undervalues its currency by an estimated 25% to 40%) and our other trading partners to end currency manipulation, reduce the trade deficit and end clearly identified unfair trade practices.
16. Banking and Securities Reform. Immediate reenactment of the Glass-Steagall Act and increased regulation of Wall Street and the financial industry by the SEC, FINRA, CFTC, the Justice Department and the other financial regulators including the recently established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We further demand an immediate investigation by the Justice Department into the potential criminal practices of the Securities and Banking industry that directly led to the collapse of markets, bank bail-out and firm failures in 2007-2008. To facilitate the aforementioned student loan debt relief, banks and securities firms shall pay a small financial transaction fee, also known as the “Robin Hood Tax”, on each and every stock trade and other financial transactions without passing these costs onto consumers. Uniform regulations will be enacted to specifically limit what banks may charge consumers for ATM fees and/or the use of debit cards and other so-called miscellaneous fees. There will be an end to the $4 billion a year “hedge fund loophole” which permits certain individuals engaged in financial transactions to evade graduated income tax rates by treating their income as long-term capital gains which are taxed at a much lower rate (approximately 15%) than income tax.
17. Foreclosure Moratorium. Adoption of a plan similar to President Clinton’s proposal to end the mortgage crisis. The privately owned Federal Reserve Bank shall not continue to lower interest rates for loans to banks that are refusing to loan to small businesses and consumers. Instead, the federal government shall buy all mortgages in foreclosure and refinance these debts at an interest rate of 1% or less because that is the interest rate the Federal Reserve charges the banks who hoard the cash despite ample liquidity. These re-financed debts will be managed by the newly established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and an independent foreclosure task force appointed and overseen by Congress and the Executive Branch to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether foreclosure proceedings should continue based on the circumstances of each homeowner and the propriety of the financial institution’s conduct when originating the loan
18. Ending the Fed. The immediate formation of a non-partisan commission, overseen by Congress, to audit and investigate the short-term and long-term economic risks in eliminating the privately-owned Federal Reserve Bank and transferring all its functions to the United States Treasury Department.
19. Abolish the Electoral College and Enact Uniform Election Reforms. The 99% demand the abolishment of the Electoral College in favor of the Popular Vote in presidential elections to avoid situations where the Electoral College elects a candidate who does not receive a majority of the popular vote. Subject to the above-referenced ban on all private money and gifts in politics, Congress shall immediately enact additional campaign finance reform requiring the Federal Communications Commission to grant free air-time to all federal candidates; total public campaign financing to all candidates who obtain sufficient petition signatures and/or votes to get on the ballot and participate in the primaries and/or general election; implementation of nationwide uniform election rules applied to all voting districts requiring equal access to third parties to appear on ballots; abolition of “gerrymandering” by utilizing non-partisan public commissions so that third parties may fairly compete in elections, shortening the campaign season to three months; allowing voting on weekends and holidays; issuance of free voter registration cards to all citizens who are eligible to vote so that they cannot be turned away at a polling station because they do not have a driver’s license or other form of identification; a review of the exclusion of voters with non-violent criminal records, and expanding the option of mail-in ballots and verifiable internet voting.
20. Ending the War in Afghanistan and Care of Veterans. An immediate withdrawal of all combat troops from Afghanistan and a substantial increase in the amount of funding for veteran job training and placement. New programs dedicated to the treatment of the emotional and physical injuries sustained by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Our veterans are committing suicide at an unprecedented rate of one person every 80 minutes and we must help now.
21. Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). Immediate passage of Senate bill, S. 598, and House bill, H.R. 1116, to repeal the Defense Of Marriage Act because all human beings have the right to love and marry another human being regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
22. No Censorship of the Internet. The Internet and its related technologies foster free speech, innovation, and a global human consciousness. We believe that the Internet and its related technologies are the joint property of humanity, and as such, it must not be censored or regulated in any manner without the consent of the people who utilize and contribute to its vitality. We therefore demand the immediate withdrawal of the Stop Online Piracy Act or “SOPA” (H.R. 3261) and the Protect IP Act (S. 968). These bills, if enacted into law, would grant the government broad new powers to curtail speech on the internet, block domain names, track internet protocol (“IP”) addresses, dramatically increase the cost of using content on the internet, chill innovation and creativity of web entrepreneurs in favor of media corporations that already own or control most online content. Furthermore, any future action by the government to censor, dismantle or interfere with, any other future technology that promotes communication between human beings, will be deemed by the people as a violation of the First Amendment and the universal human right to free speech and assembly. We also call upon the United States government to vociferously condemn any country that represses the speech of its people including the censorship of the Internet and related technologies.
V. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that IF the PETITION FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES approved by the 876 Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in consultation with the NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE, is not acted upon within a reasonable time and to the satisfaction of the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, said Delegates shall reconvene to utilize the grassroots network established in the election of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY to organize a new INDEPENDENT POLITICAL PARTY to run candidates for every available Congressional seat in the mid-term election of 2014 and again in 2016 until all vestiges of the existing corrupt corporatocracy have been eradicated through the power of the ballot box.
Listening to The Doors’ second album, Strange Days, while peaking on half a tab of Purple Owsley was one of those mindbending events that alter the course of a young man’s life forever. I was 16 years old, living in the suburbs of Virginia and, with the exception of a couple of freak friends, was pretty much alone in the world. There weren’t a lot of support systems during the Summer Of Love in the American South for a kid who wanted to explore his spiritual side. Organized religion had more than failed me, it terrified me. Catholicism spooked me so bad that even the sight of a nun or priest would send me rushing in a cold sweat in the direction of the nearest mental exit sign.
Getting LSD was the easy part. Knowing the best way to navigate the experience was the challenge. You just took the trip and put your faith in the loving hands of the cosmos. At least that’s what I did. Jim Morrison and his band mates were the dark guides on my solitary psychedelic journey.
Well the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end
Until the end
Until the end!
The Doors’ apocalyptic rock might seem like an entry way to a bad trip, but for me their music echoed and expanded upon an interior shadow world I had always been drawn to and their anti-authoritarianism played into my distrust of bully gods and their black-robed hitmen. LSD gave me a glimpse into the spiraling DNA that contained everything I needed to know about the Universe and all I had to do was crack the code.The Doors provided the soundtrack in my search for the key. A search that continues to this day. Breaking through to the other side turned out to be harder than I imagined.
Jim Morrison was the first rock star that tapped into the same rich vein of poetic dreaming that had lured me into the web of the French surrealists and the American counter-culture. Here was a young Navy brat, like myself, who drew inspiration from Rimbaud, Baudelaire, the Beats, The Living Theater and cinema. He took it all in and spun it back out into lyric-driven music that was familiar and strange at the same time. Intense and filled with mystery and sex, you couldn’t call it pop, but you could dance to it….or melt to it like a pillar of Biblical salt. In my rock and roll world, Morrison was the benign high priest who led me not so gently into a dark night of the soul shot through with glistening shards of seductive light.
Along with most of the rock groups I grew up with, I don’t listen to The Doors these days. The iconic songs of my youth are etched in my genes - musical scarification. I hear them whenever I want by tilting my head in the direction of the Akashic records that spin on turntables somewhere in the Bardo. Years of hearing “Light My Fire” and “When The Music’s Over” on classic rock radio has dulled some of the magic for me. Yet I still get excited when I see a new book on The Doors, particularly when it’s written by someone who was “there.” The thought that hidden secrets might be unlocked from old songs making them feel new again or that some lost piece of history has been unearthed like a rock and roll version of the Dead Sea Scrolls triggers little jolts of excitement along my spine as electric as a Nicolai Tesla neck massage. Yes, hope springs eternal for fools like me.
Greil Marcus’s new book The Doors: A Lifetime Of Listening To Five Mean Years teased me into thinking there might be something fresh to be said about The Doors. Marcus has a rep for knowing a thing or two about rock and roll and pop culture, so I assumed he’d bring something to the mix that lesser writers managed to overlook, you know, a different perspective. But Marcus fails in almost every respect to engage the reader. Even the most devout Doors’ fan will find this slim volume of overstuffed prose and wild tangents a numbing experience. The Marcus perspective consists of bloated descriptions of Doors’ songs and performances, descriptions that are so subjective and adjective heavy that at times it’s like reading Olympia Press fetish porn by someone named “Anonymous.”
The Doors is less a book about the band than it is the experience of being subjected to Marcus’s stream of consciousness vamps on Thomas Pynchon, cult flick Pump Up The Volume, Oliver Stone’s dreadful Doors movie, Val Kilmer’s post-Morrison career, 20th century pop art, Eduardo Paolozzi, the Manson Family and so on. None of which he connects in any compelling way to the subject at hand (the subject becoming less clear as the book lurches along). It’s as if Marcus put some of The Doors’ music on shuffle and started writing whatever popped into his head - a Jackson Pollock action painting connected to The Doors by the mere juxtaposition of sharing the same room as their music. There are threads of elegant symmetry in Marcus’s writing but the center wobbles like a bead of sweat on a brooding hipster’s brow.
Read The Doors to get inside of Greil Marcus’s head if that’s of interest to you. He’s a smart guy and the book gives him an opportunity to show it off. But as a book about one of the planet’s great rock bands, The Doors is a brainy wankfest in which little of any significance is actually said. No amount of pop culture name-dropping and metaphoric over-kill in describing The Doors’ art can obscure the fact that there’s a big hole where the soul of a book ought to be. Marcus claims to be a Doors’ fan and yet there’s little love for the band between the pages of this frustratingly irrelevant book. The Doors may have been a labor of love for Marcus, but for the reader it’s just labor.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the south of France, an overweight bearded poet is writing his autobiography about his early days as a rock star: The End by J.M.
Video: The Doors interviewed in New York in 1969 for public television.