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Two questions:
1. Why is the Department of Justice just now getting around to this?
2. Did they just realize this newspaper been doing it all along? (See link, third paragraph.)
(So who's counting?)

Fantasy? In your dreams

Fortunately, sports gambling is rare, and nothing like this will ever happen again.
(Who'da thunk it?)

Blank pages

Time came to excise pages of a fiction I’d created

Untouched, they twitch in a file folder:
Look again at us!

I prefer not to, said the scrivener.

It takes a reader to turn back the dog-ear
It takes a reader to forget

Something else is working harder

"Evil man make me kill you/evil man make you kill me/even though we're only families apart."

On Wednesday, I started preparing my play list for my Friday radio show. I got about five songs into it after deciding I'd play a funk show.

Then came Thursday's shootings in Oregon. A friend said to me, "We forget all about them after the funerals are over," which the president said, in a different way, in his speech Thursday afternoon.

So I turned Friday's show into an hour of music about gun violence. I believe in the transformative power of music and hoped that maybe, one song might inspire one person to do something or say something that might make a difference, regardless of how small. And, as we've learned in our age of social media, sometimes small ideas mushroom into big ones.

Here's the playist:

• "Something Else is Working Harder," Golden Palaominos, which is about Christ coming to Earth to leave a legacy of love in our world, but "something else is working harder."

• "Johnny Was," Bob Marley and the Wailers. "Woman hold her head and cry/'Cause her son had been shot down in the street and died/from a stray bullet."

• "Decoration Day," Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, a song about a longstanding family feud. "My daddy got shot right in front of his house/He had no one to fall on but me."

• "Ten Cent Pistol," Black Keys. "The couple screamed/But far too late/'Cause a jealous heart/Did retaliate/She hit them with her ten cent pistol."

• "Machine Gun" Jimi Hendrix with his Band of Gypsies. For my money, the most powerful anti-war song ever written. Hendrix's long solo is unlike anything else he ever played. It's terrifying.

• "Bullet the Blue Sky," U2, another song about hate and war: "And I can see those fighter planes/Across the mud huts where the children sleep/Through the alleys of a quiet city street."

• "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)," Rolling Stones. "The police in New York City/They chased a boy right through the park/And in a case of mistaken identity/They put a bullet through his heart."

• "Strange Days," The Doors. As someone said the other day, those who insist on interpreting the Second Amendment as saying everyone has the unfettered right to possess firearms capable of slaughtering dozens of people are essentially saying "fuck you" to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that the rest of us are entitled to. So: "Strange days have found us/Strange days have tracked us down/They're going to destroy/Our casual joys."

• "Sirens in the City," which I sneaked in hoping no one would realize it's about Bernard Goetz. But even his point of view contains words all too appropriate as a commentary about Sandy Hook: "There's no such thing as the law/So who's gonna save the children?"

This can't be true—can it?


The pope's visit to America reminded me why I abandoned the Catholic faith in the first place: the second-class status of women in the church, and the church's cold-shouldering of people who have undergone divorce. Over the past few years I've added to the list the church's shameful lack of response in bringing to justice cases involving priests and pedophilia.

And now this. If this story is true and the context isn't misleading, my opinion of the church's leader has taken a considerable plunge: (Misguidance)

Foreigners (with a nod to Shelley)

The words gelled last night for an idea I've had a long time, but only in nebulous form:

No matter what we professors may think, students live in another country. They only let us into their land when they want to. Many times we think we've sneaked across the border, but we are mistaken. Our eyes are too old to see the the border.

Even if students give us a passport, once we're in their country, they let us see only what they want us to see. They take us sightseeing, but just to the usual tourist destinations, where we pay too much for cheap souvenirs. We never see their hidden neighborhoods, where life really happens. Instead, we stay on Main Street and pose for photos, travelers from an antique land.

They can revoke our passports at any time, for no evident reason, and they always do. Sometimes, they take us back to the border so we can leave. Other times they simply leave us alone in their country, half-sunk with our visages shattered, where the lone and level sands stretch far away. We are outcasts, so we head back to our homes.

We get postcards from them once in a long while, but there's never a return address, only a sentence or two in quick handwriting we can barely read. And then the postcards stop coming.

("Nothing beside remains")


A rockin' Saturday night

It's just shy of 11:30 p.m. Saturday, and I'm sitting at my desk in my home office, grading freshman writing assignments. And I had to take a two-hour nap first so I could stay up this late. To paraphrase Robert Frost, I have much grading to do before I sleep.

I hate to think what my 18-year-old self would say to me.


Happy Halloween

Here's my costume for this year.

This photo of Cher has nothing to do with the post

I heard on the news this morning that this week’s TV broadcast of the Academy Awards had the fewest viewers ever.

I’ve never been a moviegoer—in fact, the last time I saw a movie in a theater was the Kevin Costner/Rene Russo golf movie “Tin Cup” in 1996. However, since Sherry and I have had Netflix, we watch many more movies than we used to. We have the big-screen TV and the thundering sound system to duplicate features that used to be unique to theaters. The snacks at our house are much less expensive, and our bathrooms are cleaner.

I’ll bet we are like millions of other Americans, and I’ll bet millions more watch movies from an array of sources through an array of different media. These habits make me think movies as a pop-culture bond aren’t anywhere near as significant as they were in the days of, say, “Mary Poppins” (1964), “The Exorcist” (1973) “ET: The Extraterrestrial” (1982), or “Home Alone” (1990). We’re not sitting in full theaters with people who have a common interest in a given film. We’re not all buzzing when we leave the theater at the end of a classic or griping at the end of a dud. We’re not all watching new releases when they come out. Movies used to be a shared experience, but there’s no sharing if all of us aren’t watching at the same time.

I think ratings will be even lower for next year’s broadcast, even as the internet makes more movies available to more people. Besides, who needs to watch the Academy Awards when we can use Google to find as many opinions as we want that reinforce our own opinions of the movies we’ve seen?


The College of Musical Knowledge

Do you recognize this man? Tune in Friday!

My radio show returns Friday at noon for a final year on WSBU-FM, 88.3 The Buzz, St. Bonaventure University.

Friday's hour-long show will be unlike anything you've ever heard before, but you'll enjoy it anyway. Tune in here: http://tunein.com/radio/The-Buzz-883-s22715/

Click the "local tab," download the station player, and get ready for eardrum ecstasy.

The big gong

Shooting star: streak, then


In shade. Shot!
Strikes near my feet,
Sound muffled like
Spy gun silencer.


Hide head.


Groucho for president

"These are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others."


Are you experienced?


Show host Nancy Alden was riffing on Sirius-XM yesterday about the “27 Club”—the long list of musicians who died at that age. As she went through the names, I waited for her to mention a certain one. Just as I decided she had forgotten it, she ended the list by saying Jimi Hendrix had died at 27 exactly 45 years ago.

When she said that, my world paused, and not because I had forgotten the date. Rather, the moment reminded me—again—that Jimi hasn’t really died. If his music were being released by a contemporary artist, it still would be considered stunning. He lives through it.

Given Hendrix's status as a rock god, it's worth remembering that he recorded just four albums in his lifetime: Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland, and Band of Gypsies. They were released in three short years, 1967-70. With that short time span in mind, some people might call Hendrix a shooting star. No—he was a fireball.

Since his death, countless people have tried to make money from the fireball by releasing an uncountable number of albums of Hendrix outtakes, demos, live recordings and the like. None of it meets the impeccable standards Jimi insisted on in the studio and during the production of his albums. If it had met those standards, it would have been released during his life.

Even so, a handful of these projects are worth owning. Hendrix in the West is at the top of the list. When I started switching my music collection from vinyl to CDs, Hendrix in the West was unavailable. I spent years trying to find a CD version before tracking down a bootleg made in Russia. It was well worth it, because his two solos on the song “Red House” are the best electric guitar blues solos ever recorded.

The first one finds Jimi working a standard blues riff, but he quickly turns it into his own with string-bending notes swooping like dive bombers, then shooting skyward like staccato rockets. Just when you think he’s finished, he finds another gear. Then another. Then another. With each level, he takes the blues into a new, previously unheard giant world of screaming torment, the sound of a cosmic heart being shredded and a soul being torn apart by love. This is a world only Jimi had the skill and imagination to reach. Then, after an interlude where Hendrix steps into the background for a muted Billy Cox bass solo, he takes a briefer but more incendiary solo. As I type this, the hair on my arms is standing up, even though I first heard these solos in 1972.

I just looked for some quotations about Hendrix by his guitar-playing peers. During this search, I found this article from The Guardian that was written five years ago:
(Eric Clapton: "You never told me he was that fucking good.")

As for quotations about Hendrix, one is all we need. It's from the greatest rock guitarist living, Jeff Beck, who was already famous when Hendrix hit England in 1966 and began blazing his way into immortality:

“He came along and reset all of the rules in one evening.”


Trigger tweet


Sign in front of a store on a busy street in town:

We have
Hallaueen costumes


Why I do this

We're midway through the third week of classes, and I got this email today from a student in my freshman writing class:

"Just so you know, I'm now going crazy just reading through the simplest forms of writings. I can't go through Twitter or Facebook without seeing sentences I want to shorten or re-create.

"I'm not sure if this was your goal or not, but if it was you have succeeded."

He'll never be the same again.

Pro football is decadent and depraved

Jets linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin is taken to hospital after being injured in the second half Sunday

"This was not the N.F.L. of even five years ago, when injuries were often seen as cartoon violence and the scourge of concussions was just beginning to sink in.

"That did not stop fans from attending games, and it doesn’t seem to give them pause now. The difference is that today, fans know what they are watching. How they rationalize watching is up to them, but they know."
(Why I no longer watch football)

Latest Month

October 2015

Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”


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