Get Back (2021)

I just watched Get Back (2021) and it’s amazing! Get Back is directed & produced by Peter Jackson, who takes the vast film footage & audio material originally captured for Let It Be (1970) a documentary of the album by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, whose 16mm cinematography is stunning. Get Back seamlessly transports you back in time, while the digital editing & titles give it a clean modern look. Pushing eight hours in length, it never gets dull. It was all filmed & recorded in January 1969, and then finally put together just recently, but everything about this Beatles documentary is timeless.

Michael Lindsay-Hogg was a pioneer in music film production, who makes his face seen & voice heard in Get Back. For instance, there’s a debate among the band over 35mm vs 16mm for filming. Paul insists it should be 35mm, or else it won’t look right. Michael Lindsay-Hogg then interjects that 16mm will be fine, and that’s it. Watching in early 2022, it looks like Get Back was shot a few months ago, and put together quickly. Of course it was all shot 53 years ago, and took 4 years to produce. There are no flaws in the moving images, and the camera framing is exquisite, giving Get Back an authentic appeal.

This is mostly a testament to how well the original film crew & Michael Lindsay-Hogg did their jobs. This made the digital transfer much easier, and the result is one of the great rock documentaries ever, maybe THE best. And to think, it sat “in the can,” wasted & unused for decades. In many ways it compares to the Netflix release of Orson Welles’ famous unfinished film, The Other Side of the Wind in 2018.

Get Back is Disney property, which maintains strict monopoly distribution of its content. I’ve got friends who have pirated it, because that what happens when you try to “own” something that really should be public domain. Everyone has the right to see this film, as the Beatles are part of the fabric of our popular culture. I know it’s being called a TV series by Disney, but really it’s a 3-part movie that runs 468 minutes total. That’s too long of a film for most people, so it’s marketed as a TV-series.

This definitive Beatles documentary of their early break-up phase has an unending cast of interesting characters; Mal Evans, Peter Sellers [!] & (of course) Billy Preston are a few of my favorites. There’s plenty to choose from as each of the Fab Four comes to life under constant camera & microphone recording, which (in retrospect) was their recording of Let It Be, released in May 1970; after Abbey Road (September 1969), and after their break-up was officially announced by Paul in April. Paul is the one who tries the hardest to prevent their inevitable break-up, because he profits the most from working with John. Everyone loves Ringo, so it’s George that’s made the target of Paul’s frustrations.

The real war in Get Back is between Paul & John for band leadership. John had always been the leader of the Beatles, but increasingly Paul feels he is more than qualified to lead. The disagreements are creative, as well as financial. Linda Eastman makes her first appearance on the scene during filming, and becomes another of the cast of characters fans will come to know better in time. There’s a scene featuring Paul working out a song on piano, with Linda & Yoko talking in the background so we can’t hear them. As far as popular music & human interest goes, it hard to get much more fascinating than that.

Paul always had a tough time with Yoko, which meant a conflict with John. This is early tabloid era, where you just needed to refer to them by their first names. Nothing ever again approached 1960’s Beatlemania, not even K-pop. The Beatles separate oldies & doo wop from classic rock. The Beatles flipped the switch, and music went from AM to FM; from mono to stereo. John sings “Revolution” in different ways, single vs. album. The Beatles changed cover art & lyric writing. The Beatles led the counter-culture & anti-war movements. In a word, they forever changed everything in popular culture.

As a diehard Velvet Underground fan, I take the Beatles as the pop standard no one can match. The Velvets did their underground Factory multi-media show with Andy Warhol & Nico in 1966. The Beatles were attempting to put on some kind of TV show in Get Back, but mostly it’s bad ideas, and then the drama of George leaving the band for a few days over Paul’s harassment. Artistically, the Velvets were far ahead of the Beatles in many important ways, but they were both broken-up (around the same time) by the same industry forces.

George was always the weakest link in the Beatles, and not coincidentally he’s the one who was most taken-in by Allen Klein in his post-Beatles career. George has a weakness for mysticism and is most-influenced by John, whom he idolizes for his songwriting & emulates in his singing style. George also is in awe of Paul for his prolific songwriting, musicianship & sweet singing voice; and thus covets his respect & approval.

Allen Klein is introduced to John & Yoko on the evening of January 26, 1969, and it’s referenced, but not filmed in Get Back. It helps if you know your Beatle-ology here, as Allen Klein is one the most notorious & prolific conmen in music business history. Allen Klein made a career for himself by ripping-off artists such as Sam Cooke, and then the Rolling Stones with his ABKCO Records, but his ultimate ambition was to manage the Beatles. Eventually he would, over Paul & Linda’s strenuous objections. It was definitely one of those times in Beatles’ history where Paul was right. Allowing Allen Klein to manage Apple Records for just a few years, led to bad personnel decisions, millions in lost royalties & endless lawsuits.

In Get Back, Paul has ideas for his new songs, that George can’t get to. It’s a truth of the Beatles that John is their best guitar player. George offers little when it comes to being a “lead guitarist,” and that’s why in his early solo career he worked with Eric Clapton so much. By 1969, George is a rhythm guitarist & aspiring songwriter, who is of little use to Paul. This is why Billy Preston is the key to making the Get Back sessions work, as the “Fifth Beatle.” As Paul acknowledges, “Billy Preston solves a lot of problems,” meaning his musicianship helps Paul realize his songs more fully, which eases George back into the band and relieves the pressure, which was immense.

Most Harrisongs aren’t Lennon-McCartney quality, but any attempt at songwriting is always welcome in any serious band. John encourages it, while Paul mostly dismisses George’s new ideas. The hardest thing to do is produce good new material. The Beatles did this for a dozen albums, all classics, due to an amazing songwriting team in Lennon-McCartney, which gave them a freshness & unique sound that always put them at the cutting edge, from mop-top sensations, to rock pioneers of studio recording.

A lot of people like to slag Paul, but I’ll take him in my band any day. Bass players are hard to find, and prolific songwriters are even rarer. That’s why John latched onto him when they were the Quarrymen. To have talent means you recognize it in others. The hard truth was that most of George’s new songs weren’t that good, but he had colleagues (outside the band) who were telling him they were, so egos start flying.

One can argue that it was George Harrison who broke up the Beatles, as he wanted to do a solo album of songs that Paul wouldn’t do, and John wasn’t crazy about. Or you could just Let It Be. For those who don’t know, writing songs is serious business, and the true artists who can do it don’t hand out free passes just because you’re a bandmate with ambition. You have to deliver, repeatedly, at a high level. These lessons in collaborative creativity & artistic standards remain relevant today.

The confusion that permeates their first rehearsal location, as well as the Apple Records studio are brought into focus when George Martin finally arrives, and promises the band in his assured & professional style that he will get all the sound issues straightened-out by the next day. The band finally breathes a sigh of relief as they leave. This is how it was.

The Beatles never really had a manager who could handle everything, because nothing like the Beatles had ever happened before. Brian Epstein had their best interests at heart and guided them to stardom, but he wasn’t tough, and he died in August 1967. Apple Records was established in January 1968, with no leadership, which meant the Beatles financial issues wouldn’t start to get resolved until the mid 1970’s.

But they always had a great producer in George Martin, and that’s more important, because if you don’t make great records then no one cares. Great records start with great songs, which means the producer has to recognize it, and then record an inspired performance. Then it can be produced. Get Back proves once again that no matter how gifted you are creatively & musically, you need a producer with a clear head.

The legends of decadence & excess at Apple Records are confirmed in Get Back, with all kinds of stoned employees, gay groupies & other hangers-on, etc, occupying the studio. Who are these fucking people? Answer: It was the 1960’s. Many appear well-meaning, but too many are wasted and none can handle the Mafiosos constantly in the background, rubbing their hands over how much money they were going to make. It should be noted in retrospect that it’s this lack of attention to security that ultimately got John killed.

Perhaps the best part of Get Back is when the Apple employees handle the bobbies, as the Beatles are playing their final concert unannounced on the rooftop of Apple Records in London. “It’s making quite a bit of racket… We’ve had over 30 complaints already,” claims the UK cop immortalized in the footage. Apple Records receptionist Debbie, and Beatles road manager, Mal are priceless here. So much love went into this music created by John, Paul, George, Ringo & Billy with their ever-producer, George Martin, and yet it’s the businessmen who are raking. That’s how it is when you’re an artist, and it’s all in the film.

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Following your footsteps

It’s best to follow in your footsteps, particularly in the snow. It’s my first Wisconsin winter since 1993-94 and it’s cold, but not as sustained cold as it used to get. The summers are milder too and that’s the global warming I’ve noticed in Milwaukee, WI. In Central Florida the summers have become guaranteed scorchers which start in May and last through hurricane season which keeps getting longer & more intense.

What is proven by Hurricanes Charley-Francis-Ivan-Jeanne (2004), Sandy (2012) and then Irma in 2017, is that you can not sustain a direct hit from the eye, and the storm surge is now HUGE on both sides of the Florida peninsula. The panhandle and the Keys are the most dangerous places because they are exposed and too often in a hurricane’s path. Something needs to be done, but nothing is.

In 2019 Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas for 48 hours with a wind forces that exceeded the Saffir–Simpson scale in which a Category 5 starts at 157 MPH. The rating scale starts at 74-96 MPH for Cat 1, with ranges in the mid-to-high twenties of sustained MPH through Category 4 at 130-156 MPH. Sustained winds for Dorian were over 180 MPH, with gusts of 200+ MPH. Dorian was a Cat 6, and I was relieved it didn’t hit where I was, but my relief is someone else’s misery.

I have a simple rule for establishing residency in Florida: Have you ever been in the eye of a hurricane? It will teach you to be ready in EVERY way. With that said, I’ve met a lot of great snowbirds and have no prejudice against them for going back North during the Florida summer. Everyday people are great everywhere is what I have learned.

I really feel for loved ones, colleagues & friends who still live in Florida. It’s an amazing place with so many great people… but it’s been fucked-up by elites who don’t care about anything except profit for themselves. Anyone who has lived there will tell you that it’s a good ol’ boys network and if you ain’t from the Sunshine State (or relatively close) then you’re not-so-welcome by the people who own it. They’ll take your money and get you to work for them, but they don’t like you. Many of them are still fighting the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. You have to beat them at their own unfair game, which I did. Then they really hate you.

That’s what I ran up against from the start in Central Florida. Now, Florida is run by Donald Trump from his Mar-a-Lago compound though his puppet Ron DeSantis in the governor’s mansion. For me it’s like that April Wine song “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” where you better see the red flags and MOVE.

On April 17, 2021, directly upstairs to my Sanford apartment, I witnessed my angry neighbors bringing in at least 3 assault rifles in hardshell cases around dusk on a clear Saturday. I had seen what looked like cases of ammo when they were unloading their U-haul trailer, shortly after they had moved-in months earlier. These haters never smiled, and always tried to provoke & intimidate everyone. That upstairs armament incident happened the weekend Drivin N’ Cryin played in Sanford. They were great, but the local music scene has become so toxic that it’s impossible for me. No respect from the gatekeepers, with too many jealous wanna-be’s, manipulative hangers-on, etc. I’m a pariah for being a revolutionary. All this told me it was time to go.

There’s no regrets on leaving Florida, and no complaints about the good people I worked with across all the professions. I met & worked with some amazing dental specialists, world-class practitioners; along with amazing hygienists, assistants, office staff, lab specialists, etc. I’m a humble bread-and-butter dentist, but with musical talent. Everyone who was there knows. Since I’m grateful to escape, my policy now is what happened in Florida stays in Florida. That’s the kind of state it is, and if you respect that you can get by, but you always have to be ready for the rough & mean.

I also worked with some serious musicians, all of whom I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with. Being a professional is about doing a first-class job whenever you are hired, no matter how you feel about that person, the material, etc. Music for me has been about finding my collaborative soul mate, as I’m deficient in certain key areas. Everyone knows that Tom Pearce is my musical partner. You need a producer.

Tom is the older brother I never had as a kid, so we disagree about stuff… but it’s the love & respect that carries us through. It certainly wasn’t about the money because there wasn’t any for what I did. We just wanted to be free and make music. Today, Tom has many side projects and has benefited tremendously from our collaboration. It’s the only way I can pay him anymore. We’d love to re-master everything onto a multi-disc CD anthology with a booklet and all that, but there needs to be money & distribution. Tommy Mottola & Co. have it all locked up. The music business is a mafia.

Friends who helped in music & dentistry have moved on and are pursing their lives, hopes & dreams. I hope they understand life is a journey as well as a conscious choice. I gave it my best, but there’s no money or prospects for me, so I had to move on. That’s my attitude and it’s rational, but it’s also hard to concisely explain. Concision is such a virtue.

So whenever you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, learn to follow your footsteps. It covers your tracks and keeps you warm, clean & dry. It gives you something that is your own to follow & believe in. It marks & remarks where you’ve been, in a silent way. You can live to cover many miles by following your footsteps.

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Novax the sick Djoke

Preface: Omicron isn’t mild. That’s a political lie meant to numb you to the dangers of letting the virus rip, which has been the US government’s policy from the start, first with Trump, and then continued under Biden/Harris. We need a Zero COVID strategy, globally, to end the pandemic.

The Novak Djokovic ruling in Australia reinforces an anti-scientific & eugenics stench among the capitalist governments. For those not up-to-date on the situation, tennis star Novak Djokovic who is unvaccinated, has been allowed entry into Australia, despite strict entry requirements– which Novax doesn’t meet. He was allowed to work a deal with the Australian Open organizers and government officials, despite the protestations of the VAST majority of Australians who have been living under some of the toughest COVID mandates in the world. It’s been widely seen for what it is: another generous exception granted to the privileged, while the rest of us have to “live with it.”

Last week, Novax arrogantly posted on Instagram that he had obtained a visa to travel to Australia and would be participating in the Open. This incited a firestorm of opposition among the people of Australia, who have been living under stringent COVID mandates on vaccination, travel, masking, etc, for months in an effort to contain Delta & Omicron. It was this mass eruption of democracy that forced the Australian government to temporarily rescind Novax’s visa when he arrived.

The fake media keeps writing it up as if there was a “mix-up” or some government confusion over their visa policy, etc. The toiling masses can’t be given credit for preventing a corrupt anti-vaxxer from buying (& lying) his way into their country and being allowed to do whatever he pleases because he’s privileged. That’s not a narrative the fake media is interested in, but it’s what happened. The reactionary court ruling to allow Novax entry, overturns the will of the Australian people.

What it confirms is that if left up to the courts, a right-wing agenda will always be validated– from Julian Assange to Kyle Rittenhouse. This can be traced all the way back to Bush v Gore in December 2000. Anti-vaxxers are free to spread COVID as an ideological pillar of class rule. Vaccines, lockdowns, masks, testing, and science in general, are vilified as violations of “individual rights,” while the social rights of the VAST majority are dismissed. Novax is the $220 million martyr for the anti-vaxxers. Oh how they pity him & his suffering! The hypocrisy is staggering.

This situation was turned into a nationalist issue for reactionary purposes. Serbian leader Aleksandar Vucic wrote last week, “Our bodies are doing everything to see that the harassment of the world’s best tennis player is brought to an end, immediately.” Novax’s father, Srdjan Djokovic lashed out at the Australian authorities, claiming his son is a martyr comparable to Jesus Christ, “Our Novak, our pride. Novak is Serbia and Serbia is Novak… They are trampling over Serbia and by doing that, they are trampling on the Serbian people… The leader of that faraway land, Scott Morrison … dared to attack Novak and expel him before he had reached their country. They had wanted to throw him to his knees, and not just him, but our beautiful Serbia… We Serbs are a proud European people. Throughout history, we have never attacked anyone, we only defended ourselves.” Djokovic’s mother Dijana claims her son is a “revolutionary” who was “changing the world.” All this because Novax won’t get vaccinated.

Anti-vax Nazis compared Novax to Julian Assange during this drama, which was ludicrous. Assange is a hero for telling the world the truth about imperialism. Assange is suffering in a real prison for that. Novax is just another entitled reactionary, grandstanding for himself, a symbol of hope for the hopelessly ignorant. Anti-vaxxers all claim “natural immunity” as their defense. If natural immunity was enough to stop COVID, then the pandemic would be over already. But it isn’t.

The anti-vaxxers uncritically accepted Novax’s claim that he had ‘natural immunity’ from COVID, by testing positive on December 16, 2021. It’s now very likely that his ‘positive test’ claim was a lie to get Novax around the vaccine requirements for a visa. The timing couldn’t have been better for an unvaccinated individual wanting to participate in the Australian Open.

A fake positive test can be obtained the same way a fake vaccine passport can be manufactured. If ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown tried it, then why not Novax? One of the requirements for a visa is that you don’t bring danger or harm to any of citizens of the country you are entering. The Australian government wasn’t interested in any of this, or asking Novax about not masking/isolating after his supposed positive test. Those facts & questions would be very inconvenient.

Novax has now been confirmed as unvaccinated by the government of Australia. If he was actually COVID positive on Dec 16th (which is highly questionable), he refused to wear a mask or quarantine himself, as required by Serbian mandates. That’s not a national hero or a martyr, but a selfish & ignorant elitist. Anti-vaxxers & COVID denialists are the political equivalent of flat-Earthers & holocaust deniers. That’s why the vast majority must reject them and their Malthusian ideology.

The bigger issue is that this AO event shouldn’t even be held, until we’ve eliminated COVID. To all the people attending indoor public places & outdoor super-spreader events without a mask, I must insist that you just don’t get it. I’m talking about the BIG picture. This isn’t coming from jealousy or any other form of hatred, but from science. You’re too wrapped up in your personal interests, and this is what is perpetuating & worsening the pandemic.

I am the first person to publicly call this pandemic what it will be known as in history: the Coronavirus War. It’s the war to prevent WWIII. Please step back and look at the big picture, which starts with how WE are going to end this pandemic. It can’t be just a few of us, it has to be the VAST majority of people who have ethics & respect science, along with all those willing to sacrifice for a better world. Join the fight on the good side of the Force, because WE deserve better than 2021.

Fri 14 Jan 2022 09:22 AM CST

Breaking update: Novax’s visa was cancelled a few hours ago, for a second time on the basis that his presence could “excite anti-vaccination sentiment”. His legal team is appealing the decision of Alex Hawke, the Australian immigration minister. Novax will soon be interviewed by Australian immigration officials, with a full hearing to take place on Sunday morning (Melbourne time), the day before the Australian Open begins. The chances of the immigration minister’s ruling being overturned are remote according to legal experts.

The sick Djoke presented false information on his visa form, saying he hadn’t traveled outside Serbia for the 14 days before flying to Australia, but social media has photos of him in Marbella, Spain over the holidays. As a rule of visa law, no one gets away with that. That’s not a “minor oversite” or “mistake” in filling out a visa form, but a false declaration to gain admittance. The political pressure this situation has created for the Australian government has been enormous.

On Monday (Jan 10), Der Spiegel claimed that when it scanned the QR code belonging to Djokovic’s PCR test at 1.19pm German time on December 16, it said: “Test result Negative.” However an hour later, after another scan, it said: “Positive.” Several others – including New York Times journalist Ben Rothenberg – reported the same findings, with Rothenberg also posting a photo of the two different results. When anyone tried on Tuesday it returned universally positive results. It’s now clear that Novax’s ‘positive’ COVID test is surely a fake, as many of us suspected from the start.

Novax always has a convenient excuse for his lies & blatant disregard for the health of others. It gets to the point where no one believes him anymore, just like the little boy who repeatedly cries wolf. If Novax keeps trying to press his luck with his legal appeals, staging fake protests, etc, Australia may decide to ban him for 3 years. Most foreigners would have already received this ban, if they tried to pull what he did. The Australian government doesn’t want to do this, but this sick Djoke was never very good at reading the political situation.

Fri 14 Jan 2022 4:034 PM CST

There’s a lot to digest from all this, and since the verdict is now assured with only a few footnotes to be added, I’ll make my final comments & sign off.

What offends the most from start-to-finish are several things. First is the fanaticism masquerading as seriousness in discussion by the anti-science crowd. Everything is right-wing talking points, junk science & attacks from the anti-vax mob. They don’t want any kind of rational discussion of the facts, they just want to rant & then fight. In a word, they are impossible. These Stalinists & Nazis are working together as the Axis around US/UK imperialism in the Coronavirus War.

My second irritation is with Novax, as all-around this was a shoddy production from him. Sloppy, lazy, ill-conceived & poorly planned. It’s execution could only end in failure & ignominy, with Novak Djokovic being played as a political pawn. From the side of science & democracy, we made an example out of Novax. Didn’t want to do it, felt we owed it to him… He thought because he’s such a great tennis player that he could transcend international politics by doing whatever he wants during a pandemic and get away with it. The people of Australia said, “Fuck you” to that, and Novax will soon be on a plane back to Serbia.

His family back home have been shameless conspirators in this fraud Novax tried to pull off in obtaining a visa. Right-wing nationalist elements all rallied around Novax & his lying family. All of them were in on this conspiracy to obtain an Australian visa by fraud because they all knew Novax was unvaccinated. All the anti-vaxxers supported every Novax legal argument, document & positive test as facts. If I’m the Australian PM, it’s a 3-year ban as stated by law. These transgressions warrant it, as (scientifically speaking) this was an attack on your border.

It’s the smugness that rubs raw with Novax. He expected to get away with it, so he didn’t make sure his COVID test indicated “positive” instead of the actual negative result. Anyone can (& will) check that QR code, and SCREENSHOTS will be the proof. Lazy & stupid people helping this sick Djoke in his camp & at the highest levels of the Serbian government. All because he won’t get vaccinated and can’t admit it. Marxists call that political cowardice. For all the anti-vaxxers reading this, I ask, “At what level does the hypocrisy get so ridiculous that you bail on him?” Intelligence & the far right have a preconceived limit on when to stop talking and start fighting, but they don’t want to admit it or identify where it is.

If your strategy to get into the Australian Open is to falsify documents & a COVID test, then at least do it right. Since your consider yourself a professional, and clearly have the money, then have a serious plan that can succeed or else don’t try. Don’t go out in public maskless after the proclaimed positive date. Stay isolated as mandated, and no one can dispute your story. Don’t travel to foreign countries within 14 days if the rules stipulate against it. For the respect of the Australian people whom you expect to welcome you into their country, it’s not asking too much. It insults EVERYONE’S intelligence when you disrespect people like that.

Once these documents in question were released to the media, it was too easy to investigate and expose all the inconsistencies & lies. It took like half a day, which begs the questions, “Why didn’t the government of Australia figure this stuff out since is wasn’t that hard? Don’t they have people who know how to investigate & handle this stuff at their borders?”

The best explanation here is that this was a backroom pay-off deal Novax set-up with the Australian Open & government officials, that went bad. Cinematically speaking, it compared to the end of La Femme Nikita (1990), except no Anne Parillaud & no style from Novax, who never spoke directly to the media nor answered their questions during this murky affair in which everyone got bloody. It was his lawyers, family and right-wing extremists that spoke for Novax, and they were never believable. That’s why it ends like this.

It’s an election year Down Under, so the 9-time AO champion has to leave in order to soothe the discontent of the Australian voters. A warning lesson from all this is that if Novax hadn’t been so careless & stupid, he could have easily gotten away with it, but it was the power of the people speaking their voices that sent Novax home before the Happy Slam begins.

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