Who anointed the MeToo campaign as the morality police, judge, jury & executioner? Whether you like Marilyn Manson or not isn’t the issue. The guy worked hard to make millions of fans, and his relationships with those people has been poisoned by cynical politics & a dirty-tricks campaign. I know fans of Marilyn Manson (men & women) who say his music helped them get through a tough period in their lives, etc. Who is MeToo to judge all this with absolute authority?
In the case of Marilyn Mansion & Ashley Morgan Smithline, it’s Evan Rachel Wood who is the abuser. Evan Rachel Wood is a perjurer who (among other criminal activities) submitted a fraudulent letter from the FBI as evidence under oath in court. Commenters online are now calling Evan Rachel Wood “Amber Heard 2.0”, which is accurate. Evan Rachel Wood has the full backing of the CIA Democrats as Marilyn Manson has been the victim of a coordinated MeToo-style hit job because he’s an easy target.
The MeToo campaign and its fanatic adherents have no compassion & understanding for a man’s career ruined with lies. Just as they have no compassion for women who are teaching in classrooms with COVID, or female healthcare workers, retail employees, etc.
The MeToo campaign supports the criminal US/NATO-led proxy war in the Ukraine against Russia, nevermind all the women & children who have become casualties. The MeToo campaign still supports sanctions on Syria, even after a series of devastating earthquakes hit the region. Women & children buried under rubble doesn’t register on the MeToo campaign’s radar.
MeToo doesn’t care one whit about women autoworkers who have been unfairly fired for reporting sexual harassment & wage theft to the UAW bureaucracy. When a woman working on the line in an Ohio auto plant had a miscarriage last year, because she was doing work she shouldn’t have been doing, the UAW helped deny her insurance claim. And so on, etc…
MeToo doesn’t care about working class women, it is only concerned with gaining privileges for a thin layer of women in the upper-middle class. That’s the focus of all the identity politics campaigns (Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, etc) which come directly from the CIA Democrats. This cynical attempt to divide workers & the poor only strengthens the hand of the far right.
Ashley Morgan Smithline has declared that Evan Rachel Wood manipulated & abused her. So why wouldn’t you believe her? MeToo (who claims women should ALWAYS be believed) is silent on this question.
The MeToo campaign, like capitalism, is exploitative & abusive to its core. The only way to end this nefarious, dirty-tricks MeToo campaign is by organized mass resistance to the capitalist system itself.
Music is such an important form of communication, perhaps the most influential as its primality touches & stirs our deepest emotions. The question of questions becomes: Who controls the music? Consider all music of the past in its historical materialist context, with a philosophical understanding of dialectics in revolution. These days, if the music doesn’t also stimulate the intellect, it’s crap.
The conspiracy theory that SBF is now an agent of US intelligence is supported by the facts and his actions since pleading “not guilty” in a Manhattan courtroom. The DOJ normally takes no prisoners in its prosecutions, unless a secret deal has been reached.
From a historical perspective, the DOJ investigations of Donald Trump have been as restrained a legal action as you will ever see, because he’s so connected to right-wing militias (which intelligence agencies view as an asset), but the DOJ still went after him to some extent for his malfeasance. SBF has the same criminal credentials, but with even more value to US intelligence, so he’s been treated with kid gloves by the DOJ & the corporate media because they’re all tied-in to the CIA Democrats.
The dictatorship of finance capital can be clearly observed in crypto. SBF & Co. have surely made secret deals, as they are being integrated into US intelligence to help move dark money to Ukraine, etc. Thus, none of the defrauded customers will see a penny of the $5B in assets the US government has claimed to have recovered (so far) in the FTX fallout.
Republicans have now setup a new committee to bail out this distressed “asset class” known as crypto, and as a result of this activity, bitcoin has moved up by ~$2K in the past few days.
After Roger Goodell conferred with the top Vegas bookies & ESPN fantasy leagues for three difficult days, it was decided by the owners of football to be in their best interest to cancel the Bills-Bengals game. According to NFL records & the Black Hand, it never happened.
The NFL had cancel this game, but they REALLY didn’t want to. League officials & executives needed to confer behind-the-scenes with bookmakers & the biggest fantasy leagues for council on what to do, which is why it took three long days for the NFL to make it’s final decision, when it really had no choice from the start.
The fantasy leagues are a particularly sticky situation, because those are hardcore football fans who invested 4+ months in drafting, building & cheering their teams. The Bills-Bengals game was to be the final MNF contest of the season, and it’s the Super Bowl in most fantasy leagues. If this event had happened during a typical Sunday afternoon game, it wouldn’t have been as harmful to NFL interests. But it happened on Monday night, when the entire sports world is tuned-in, and not just any Monday night, but the biggest MNF game of the season.
Instead of being a nationwide football festival, the plug was pulled & the excitement killed. Most sports fans understand the situation and don’t blame the players, or cry foul, but there are interests that want to make sure this NEVER happens again. Docking wages for leaving the field would probably be bad optics for the NFL, so look for the owners to get together after the post-season and establish a “protocol” to prevent players from mutually leaving the field before a game is finished. Owners consider what happened as an unauthorized work stoppage, and that is strictly prohibited by the powers-that-be. This could become a CBA grievance if the owners take too much of a hard-line stance.
So how did Roger Goodell arrive at his judgement, three days after an on-field medical event stopped the Bills-Bengals MNF game, with the players refusing to resume the contest? First, the NFL Commissioner had to take heavy flak from all the East coast dweebs screaming in his ear about sponsors, ratings, fantasy leagues, etc– imagine a scene from Network (1976) and apply it here. After absorbing all this abuse, Goodell then had to fly to Las Vegas and stay at the Flamingo to take a meeting with Ace Rothstein & Nicky Santoro. After that, he had to hustle over to the Tropicana to see Moe Greene, and you know what that means— Don Barzini. Roger Goodell had to earn his paycheck this week.
Nicky Santoro: Hey commish, what happened?! I got all these betting slips and I don’t know what to do with them. I’m thinkin’ I’ll keep all the money. What do you think, Sam?
Ace Rothstein: You’re the muscle end Nicky, I just tell you the point spread.
Nicky Santoro: So commish, a player feints on the field, he’s taken-off, and the game just ENDS?!! Since when do we do THAT?!! Are we gonna put pink dresses on them next? [Lots of expletives…] I’m feeling like a chump for holding all these markers. The game was two nights ago!! [Lots of expletives…] I’m just trying to run a respectable bookmaking business here, I gotta pay the winners & collect from the losers to get my vig, you understand? How can I pay when there’s no game?!! [More expletives…] Since I’ve been holding this money for so long, I’d almost feel like a chump to return it. I’m thinking I’ll keep the money. What do you think, Sam?
Once upon a time there was a handsome young prince who was destined to become president. His father was a rum runner during Prohibition– made a fortune. This was parlayed into American royalty, and Papa Joe (September 6, 1888 – November 18, 1969) had many children, including our presidential prince. This young prince had the requisite credentials– he was a war hero from a rich family & dashing. Every young princess swooned and he never lost an election.
One day he entered an infested jungle and contracted a venereal disease from which he was never cured. But this presidential prince still married well and had many extra-marital affairs. The number of girls/women he infected was prolific, for sure.
This presidential prince fucked like he politicked: kinda all over the place with unhealthy consequences. Yet he’s considered a liberal pioneer. The prince president assigned his hot-headed brother to be his Attorney General, and together they promised to take on the mafia. This rubbed the Black Hand the wrong way, since they had partnered with Papa Joe during Prohibition. The epigones of Al Capone had also won JFK the presidential election in 1960 by pulling the machinery in Chicago his way, and thus stealing the presidency from Richard Nixon. “Never again,” said Tricky Dick.
These intrepid princes were both virulent anti-communists, but J. Edgar Hoover still didn’t trust them, so JFK & RFK were fighting a multi-front war against powerful figures in the ruling establishment during their administration. To the US military/intelligence apparatus, being anything less than 100% pro-war on Vietnam is another red line not to be crossed. This must be clearly understood, because it can NEVER be stated to the public.
The myth of Camelot begins in earnest with the cover-up of the Bay of Pigs Invasion (Apr 17, 1961 – Apr 20, 1961), JFK’s first real foray into international politics as president. This was a CIA-backed fiasco invasion attempt that went wrong from the start, and ended ignominiously for all its participants.
On the ground it was CIA handlers leading a few hundred fanatics in an ill-planned invasion of Cuba with intent to kill Castro and take power. Boots on the ground were militant right-wing Cuban exiles, anti-communist mercenaries, etc, a veritable cornucopia of reactionary adventurers. As with every right ring coup attempt, from the Bay of Pigs Invasion to Donald Trump’s coup attempt on 1/6/21, there is much dirt that remains secret & hidden from the public. It’s classified: murky murky.
When things went from bad-to-worse, the prince president & his hot-headed Attorney General brother abandoned the Bay of Pigs adventure. After the capture of the entire invading hoard, they pointed their fingers as US intelligence. This notorious embarrassment & betrayal infuriated the CIA, which is something a president should never do. Neither of these pampered & temperamental princes respected the Black Hand, which is a fatal error.
The second test of JFK’s political mettle was the Cuban Missile Crisis (Oct 16, 1962 – Oct 28, 1962). The crisis began when US intelligence learned (too late) that the Soviet Union had installed missile launch pads in Cuba. It was considered a political & military disaster.
The entire US political establishment had turned anti-Cuba since Fidel Castro came to power during the Cuban Revolution of 1959, in which US-puppet Fulgencio Batista was ousted. Since then the goal of US imperialism has been regime change in Cuba.
Missile capabilities in Cuba would be comparable the the US arming the Ukraine against Russia. Such a close threat could never be allowed by either side. In 1962, the prince president & his hot-headed brother needed to show strength, and these philistines responded in full force, since they knew nothing else and their authority (manhood) was being questioned.
They loudly demanded the Soviet Union remove all missile capabilities in Cuba, and US warships were dispatched to intercept any Soviet ships & planes trying to reach Cuba. The president threatened nuclear war, and human civilization was brought to the brink for the first time in its existence. The political term ‘nuclear brinkmanship’ had been coined. Today, as routine, we get nuclear war public serviced announcements from identity politics obsessed Democrats, and this is called “progressive.”
Fortunately in October 1962, cooler heads prevailed and a tenuous peace was negotiated. The Russians abandoned their missile pads in Cuba, while the US abandoned more-capable missile sites in Eastern Europe. The Cuban take-down was allowed to be known publicly, but the European take-down by the US wasn’t, so by manipulation of information flow, the myth of Camelot was born. The prince president was declared a hero and his subjects cheered triumphantly.
Of course myths never last, and Camelot was shattered by the bullets of assassins in November 1963, and again in June 1968. Chappaquiddick (July 1969) was their Waterloo. The Warren Commission and other myths were produced to cover-up these fatalities, criminal conduct & violent attacks on American democracy. Since Camelot, it’s become harder & harder for people to live happily ever after.
Music is personal and everyone does it for their own reasons. Everyone who has tried knows that. This essay is to concisely explain my reasons, which are mostly misunderstood. I started like everyone else because I love music and wanted to do my own thing. At first the goal was to be a rock star. I eventually learned that wasn’t possible, so I outgrew the idea and became something more. I became an artist with socialist consciousness.
In the history of popular music, this has only been tried a few times, and it has always been met with virulent hostility & blacklisting from the entertainment industry & ruling establishment. The surrealists led by French writer André Breton were the earliest 20th century example of art & socialist politics meeting (through Trotsky), and their movement was deeply influential, though it was finally overwhelmed by fascism across Europe in the 1930’s. The surrealist movement deserves careful study today in terms of content, revolutionary potential, and its inherent limitations.
Mexican painter Diego Rivera, whose frescoes & murals dazzled the art world in the 1930’s, flirted with Trotsky, but eventually retreated to his mansion as World War II broke out in Europe.
Post-war art has been kept under the thumb of anti-communism, ever since President Truman laid out US Cold War policy, which has continued up to this day. Cold War policy can be summed up as: Russia is the evil enemy, and Marxism is never to be tolerated. If you were an advocate for civil rights (women, blacks, immigrants) & anti-war in this era, then you were branded as a godless communist that must be expunged from the Earth [!].
Popular folk music group, the Weavers, whose best known song was “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” were blacklisted because leading member Pete Seeger was a socialist. The Weavers had a “clean” playlist for live performance, but it didn’t matter to the anti-communists in 1950. The original Weavers disbanded in their prime by the summer of 1952, due to no gigs. They revived themselves a few years later with their famous Carnegie Hall performance, recorded Christmas Eve 1954, but not released by Vanguard Records until April, 1957.
* As a footnote. these irrational hysterics & witch hunts were brought back to life by today’s anti-communists with the Black Lives Matter & MeToo campaigns in the 2010’s. Their goal (as always) is to artificially divide the working masses through identity politics. No serious discussion of class inequality & imperialism is allowed with anti-communists. That’s when they get hostile & violent.
Bob Dylan’s working class appeal in his early to mid-1960’s era made people take sides on issues like racism, class society, the Vietnam War, etc. Fans & the establishment turned on him when he electrified (which magnified his message), to the point where he finally had to retreat & hide away.
On July 29th, 1966, a month after his final classic-period masterpiece Blonde On Blonde was released, Bob Dylan crashed his motorcycle near Woodstock, New York. He used this (relatively minor) accident as a pretext to remove himself from the political discussion in the mainstream. He did this to save his life. At this point, Vietnam was becoming out in-the-open & overwhelmingly polarizing. Bob Dylan risked being killed like Malcolm X, as he was the white equivalent at the time with his songs. MLK, and Democrat for President, Bobby Kennedy were gunned down in 1968, just to give you an idea of the times.
I don’t blame Bob Dylan for doing what he did to save his life, and neither should you. There was no organized political party on the left that he could have joined to protect himself and his political convictions. In revolutionary terms, Bob Dylan was too far ahead of his time. He had to retreat back into capitalism to carry on.
In the jazz realm, Sun Ra (pic above) stands as the shining star of revolution, with a catalog & body-of-work too vast to discuss here. His avant garde piano/electric keyboard/synthesizer style, backed by his Arkestra, seems to have come from another planet, which he claimed it did. Everything he did, from Saturn Records, to how he recorded & marketed himself, while holding his Arkestra together for 40+ years until his death (and then beyond), deserves careful study.
Sun Ra approached music as a conscious objector to WWII. He lived with, then ran afoul of the Black Panthers, a point ‘Afro-futurist’ racialists avoid. Sun Ra created his myth, to protect himself, and it worked. He died naturally in 1993, and never had to change his message.
If you are not a myth, whose reality are you? If you are not a myth, whose reality are you? If you are not a reality, whose myth are you?
— Sun Ra
Let the verse cited above roll around in your head for awhile, while contemplating deeply. I love Sun Ra, but I don’t want to be a myth, I’m a reality, so the question eventually became for me, as Ric Size: How do I become a revolutionary artist without having to retreat politically or descend into mysticism?
First, you must educate yourself in all spheres. You can’t be fooled by the bullshit, old & new, and you can’t rely any anyone else to tell you the truth. You must discover it for yourself & always keep it close. You must know yourself completely.
But beyond that you need help. No one is an island, and eventually everyone dies. You need to affiliate yourself with an organization that represents your political values and will survive into posterity. By the time I became serious about being an artist in the late 2000’s, such a political entity had come into existence– the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS).
The WSWS has had an Arts section from the start, at the insistence of Arts editor David Walsh. As I understand the discussions which took place back in 1998, (and I wasn’t present), it was David Walsh who insisted on the inclusion of an ‘Arts’ section as essential, and he had to convince David North & Nick Beams (among others)– and finally did. It was a far-sighted inclusion which deserves socialist merit, because it is art that sparks revolutions by defining it to the masses through songs, film, literature, paintings, etc. You can’t separate art & revolution.
Let me finish on musical artists with socialist consciousness by pointing out that there is revolution in the reggae music of Bob Marley & the Wailers, Scratch Perry, etc. Same with P-funk, punk & post-punk. Same with Fela Kuti’s Afro-beat. Same with Eno, Fripp, Byrne…
I affiliate myself with the ICFI, the Trotskyist party of international socialism. By doing this, I never have to walk anything back. My art isn’t perfect, and there is no such thing anyways. All it’s meant to do is inspire & educate. As a revolutionary artist, you light a candle so others can follow. Whatever comes after is left up to others, as it should be.
All an artist can do is continue to work. The critics & naysayers will always be there. You can’t have fans, without having haters. The idea is to love your fans and always be true to them, while appropriately dealing with the haters. It’s serious work, so make sure you find good help & trusting allies.
I’ve written a lot about baseball analytics on this site and for good reason. There is a truth in the numbers, that is often hidden through only observing. MLB is such a long season, and the subtle differences between good teams & the best team, are often too slight to see with the naked eye. If you can see them, it helps to have numbers to back up what you are scouting.
It’s like this with art & politics. Art is creative freeflow, where politics can be studied scientifically using orthodox Marxism, known as Trotskyism. To make sure your art stays true to the truth, you need Trotskyism (the WSWS) as a political guide. Once you are fundamentally sound (politically speaking), a dialectical change will occur, and then you will be able to write anthems that appeal to kids & the masses with a revolutionary spirit.
Preface:Music & art are aptitudes of mine, and you REALLY can’t fool me when it comes to punk rock. I know it because I’ve loved it since I was a kid.
A few weeks back it was announced with sensational fake media coverage that two members of the so-called “art collective” Pussy Riot, Masha Alyokhina & Lucy Shtein escaped from Russia.
Pussy Riot refers to themselves as an “art collective,” but gets promoted like a band. They are neither. Pussy Riot are foreign agents, as declared by Vladimir Putin’s Justice Ministry. Since December 30, 2021, when Nadya Tolokonnikova & Nika Nikulshina were added to the Russian government list of “foreign agents,” they have been required to start every tweet with this disclaimer:
THIS MESSAGE (MATERIAL) CREATED AND DISTRIBUTED BY A FOREIGN MASS MEDIA PERFORMING THE FUNCTIONS OF A FOREIGN AGENT
“These people systematically distribute materials to an indefinite circle of persons, while receiving foreign funds,” the Russian Justice Ministry said in a statement. For the record, this author declared this conclusion a year-and-a-half earlier in this report.
These foreign agents (AKA Pussy Riot) have mostly fled Russia since Putin’s reactionary invasion of the Ukraine began in late February 2022. The NYT breathtakingly describes their escape to Lithuania as a heroic dash to freedom. “A lot of magic happened last week… It sounds like a spy novel.” Maria Alyokhina said, perhaps revealing more than she meant.
Another agent of Western imperialism, Maria V. Alyokhina, said, “I still don’t understand completely what I’ve done,” in the New York Times propaganda piece, again revealing more than intended, because you don’t just escape from Putin’s Russia without knowing what you are doing!
These agents were under Russian police surveillance and forced to wear ankle bracelet ID trackers, etc. You need serious help from Western intelligence to escape that. Since Pussy Riot are simply patsies for US imperialism, they don’t fully understand the “magic” that made it possible. It’s somehow connected to a Turkmenistan embezzler, Swiss bank accounts, and $20M in cash that disappeared after he turned up dead in a hotel room. Murky, murky
Getting back to what we know, it is a historical fact that US President Joe Biden provoked Vladimir Putin’s desperate invasion. Biden and his colleagues have authorized $40B (& counting) in US taxpayer money for weapons & ammo to arm the Azov Battalion, Right Sector, etc, who are all fascist SS progeny. Their historical leader is Ukrainian ultra-nationalist Stepan Bandera, who collaborated with Adolf Hitler in his war to exterminate Marxism & Jews in WWII. That is history. The rest is de-evolution.
Pussy Riot screams “Glory To Ukraine,” during all their “performances” across Europe now. This is the battle cry of the ultra-nationalists, CIA mercenary scum of the Maidan Putsch & Odessa Massacre of 2014. It is a historical fact that “Glory To Ukraine” is a Nazi anthem.
Since fleeing to the West with a lot help from their friends in Langley & Washington, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova & Maria Alyokhina now concentrate much of their activity on their anti-Russian (CIA) propaganda outlet, Mediazona. If you were a foreign agent posing as an art collective or punk band, you would do exactly this right now.
In late April 2022, the Dartmouth Political Union hosted a virtual event with Nadya Tolokonnikova, who had been booked months in advance, well before the Putin invasion. Of course, she was not asked if she is an agent of the US, but when asked how she comes up with ideas for “art protest” Tolokonnikova said “that it is not so much about the quality of the performance as it is the quality of the protest.”
As a revolutionary artist I can tell you that it is ALL ABOUT the quality of the performance, with politics being an essential part of it, but genuine art also has humor, humanity, love, science, culture, etc. That’s the difference of thought between a real artist and agents of imperialism.
I’m an underground musical artist on hiatus. No more songs to give and certainly no money or gigs. So when something like COVID-19 comes along, and it just isn’t going your way, you give it up before it consumes you to death. It’s called listening to that inner voice that’s telling you, “Listen to your mother.” So now I’m just a music fan again, which means I can catch up on what’s been going on for the last 25 years or so in popular music.
When you become an artist you commit yourself to the process and believe 100% in who you are and what you are doing. You must have this approach because no one else will believe in you. You rely on yourself because only you know what is in your head & heart. This is why I haven’t paid much attention to what’s been happening in the popular music realm these past two decades plus.
What I did musically (& with this blog) can be defined as underground. This is the realm of revolution. I always look at making a record as trying to set a standard that’s hard to beat. When you seriously listen to AC/DC’s Powerage (1978), or any of their other great records, you finish shaking your head & saying to yourself, “That’s hard to beat.”
That’s what inspired me over the years. I was always trying to make that song, EP, or LP/CD that was hard to beat. You have to know it’s going to be great before you record a note. Every great record you’ve ever heard in every genre had that. They all knew they were about to do something great, and then they did it. It’s a great feeling when it’s done. You know it’s going to be a classic because it’s hard to beat.
It’s harder than ever today to make a great record. It starts with great songs which have become scarce. A dirty truth of the music industry is that their popular music stars rely heavily on professional songwriters. These manufactured stars just don’t have much to say, and I get bored with that. I know I’m not the only one.
Songwriting is also a dividing line for those such as myself with punk ethics. Underground music in 100% organic, meaning it is not using professional songwriters, but instead creating its own material. Most of it isn’t very interesting, but there are genuine artists in every genre at all times, you just need to know how to find them. They’re all more interesting than Diane Warren & Max Martin.
For decades, you had to be a fan to know who the major artists were, especially in more esoteric genres such as electronic, dance, etc… Today, AllMusic & YouTube provide any eager listener with everything they need to decide who they really like. The basic rule for going into unfamiliar genres is to do early research and figure out who the major artists are– past & present. How long has the genre been around? Who started the genre, and who is the best artist today? Work your way forwards & backwards from there and you won’t get too lost. Lost means you don’t know and buy too much junk.
Let’s take country music as an example, as I’m not the biggest country music fan in the world. I lived in central Florida for over 25 years, and I’ve been around a lot of country music fans so I understand how they feel about it, but generally their contemporary stars don’t move me. I love Bob Wills, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Willie, Waylon & Jessi. But contemporary country largely doesn’t catch my ear. George Strait, Reba McEntire & Garth Brooks were the best & biggest country music artists through the early-1990’s, which is where I left it, so I’m looking for the best since then up to the present.
As you may have guessed, I’m more interested in songwriters & story tellers, especially in the country music genre. Contemporary country largely has the same problem that pop & rap absolutely have; there’s so few vital voices/performers who are their own songwriter anymore. The last time there was an “excess of originality” in songwriting was when indie grunge & hip-hop turned major label artists from John Mellencamp to Winger into has-beens overnight, when Nirvana hit with Nevermind in September 1991.
The mafia which runs the corrupt music industry machinery weathered this crisis and adapted by buying-up all the indie labels & college radio stations. U2, REM, Metallica, Soundgarden, etc, were then canonized into classic rock. 1980’s indie label bands such as the Minutemen, Husker Du, the Pixies, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, etc, never reached mainstream radio. They had too much VU & Andy Warhol in them. The mafia that owns & runs the music industry hates its artists because they can’t control them. They hate artists for devaluing all of their mediocrities & posers which they throw stupid money at to promote. If the kids only knew…
Artists take everything seriously which means they must develop a razor-sharp sense of humor with ironic sensibilities in order to get along. You can’t be serious & on-point forever, especially without money, as it will burn you out and/or kill you. You have to be able to let it go & adapt.
I celebrated Record Store day during the few weeks leading up to it, as well as the day itself. It was April 23 this year, the day after Earth Day. The truth is every day is Earth Day and I wrote that long before it became a meme.
Vinyl costs a lot for a good reason. Its expensive & dirty to produce. New CD’s now list for roughly half the cost of vinyl on new releases. It is my professional record collecting opinion that records have gotten too expensive in every sense, therefore I go for what I only absolutely need on vinyl, otherwise I go for CD. I’ve always been like that in building my music collection: whenever the market is zigging, I zag.
That’s how you find the best deals and stay on budget. Records now cost ~$25 apiece. If you want 1000 records in your new collection that’s $25,000 cost. The used record bins have all been scoured at this point, and there are very few bargains remaining, with too much to hunt through to get to them. That’s my feeling on record buying at this point.
I’m not so much about the format anymore as I am about having the music itself. CD’s & records let you play what you want, without an app tracking you & sending you messages. Put mp3’s on an external Ipod and connect it into an auxiliary input on your stereo. That’s how you have a rocking music collection that doesn’t need to be online.
Until my recent record store binging, I hadn’t considered 21st-century artists very seriously for the reasons stated above. When I began my artist journey it was Alanis Morrisette, Brittany Spears & American Idol coming online. That didn’t impress me much. But Shania Twain did, so I bought all her classic stuff that she made with her then-husband, the famous rock producer who did so many records I love. Shania Twain is perfect pop, with irresistible hooks & a beautiful voice. She translates best to CD in terms of top sound quality and typical album length which exceeds the LP format.
Compact discs are perfect masters which means they can be ripped onto a computer & pirated, which is what happens everywhere. CD’s have wav files of the songs with all the metadata. When Napster came along, kids who had ripped their CD’s shared them online as compressed audio files known as mp3’s. YouTube is mp4, an audio & video file. Compression means some loss of fidelity. The gain is smaller files which are easier to share. I review all this basic stuff because this is how you look for & buy music today. You research & listen online. After you figure out what you really like, go to the record/CD store and buy what you love.
Vinyl is the original format of rock & roll. It was 45’s when Elvis Presley hit in 1955. Black artists such as Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard & Bo Diddley became huge stars. Jim Crow racism had kept black artists down, but when rock & rock was unleashed it was irresistible to the kids. After Elvis hit, rock & roll became bigger than Jesus, and young Presley was vilified for it along with all the rest.
Scandals & tragedy took most of them down, except for Fats Domino. It wasn’t until Elvis first became a GI and then returned as a teen idol, hopelessly behind-the-times that he became mainstream with adults. He still produced hits, but when the Beatles arrived in 1964, Elvis & the rest went into the oldies bin. AM radio formats this “golden hits era” as oldies, as compared to the FM dial’s classic rock. It’s the difference between mono & stereo.
Rock in 1955 was 45’s in a jukebox format. Kids would meet wherever there was a jukebox and room to dance. 45’s are different than albums which are 33.3 RPM. 45’s are singles, so you’re always looking for that GREAT song that grabbed you from the first time you heard it. If the artist who made that song never made another one, then get that single on 45 or mp3. Most flip-sides of 45’s aren’t good songs, but occasionally there will be a gem.
When vinyl (33’s & 45’s) was deleted by 1990, the singles format disappeared, as CD’s don’t work as singles or as EP’s. This was a creative problem for nearly a decade until mp3 sharing came about, because there are many, many more artists who can make a great song or two, versus those who can make a great album. Those who can make multiple great albums are the major artists.
The advantage of CD’s (over records) is their ability to hold up to 80 minutes of length. A vinyl record sounds best if the album can be split into two 22+ minute sides. Anything at or over 23 minutes/side degrades the sound quality significantly, meaning you must either make it a double album or else go to CD.
My advice for young artists is to make great CD’s. The CD revolution was not only a quantum leap in audio fidelity, but also creativity. If you’ve got 75 minutes of great music you can put it online & onto CD. Then people like me will want to hear it. Once you impress enough people and become a huge success, then you can sell that album as a double LP on vinyl.
Making records involves the use of toxic petrochemicals which degrade our Earth’s ecosystem. Therefore my rules on vinyl are these. Reissue only great & very good records. No more Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Supertramp, Yes, ELO, etc, re-issues. These such albums sat unclaimed in used bins I looked through for years, so why is the industry still pumping out fresh copies of this mediocre, industry-produced fodder? It’s the great rock records of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, Mott the Hoople, along with the groove of P-funk & David Bowie that represent the best of 1970’s rock. Punk, reggae, funk & disco are what people covet most from the 1970’s.
Releases from 1990 onward are universally considered CD’s. Genres like pop, rap, country & rock are all recorded digitally with in-studio multi-tracking. Songs are constructed over hours, days, weeks & months on computers with the musicians, engineers & producers. This allows the sound geeks to get the best (loudest) sounds.
This has led to the “loudness wars” an industry term extensively discussed by serious sound professionals in online forums. Basically everyone in pop, rock & rap wants the loudest records, so we’ve reached the point where there is so much compression on all the tracks (guitars, bass, vocals, drum kit, etc) that the music lacks heart & soul. It’s sounds too slick & digitized because it is.
No popular artist in any of these genres does live-performance studio recordings on their albums. It’s kinda been that way since the Beatles did Sgt. Pepper’s in 1967. You can always make it cleaner & louder if you multi-track, because it allows sound separations and treatments (reverb, compression, etc) of each individual track.
So which format (record/CD/mp3) is best? Here’s my rule, if it has great songs and performances it will sound great on any format. Pre-1990, everything was released as a vinyl record. Pre-Beatles was 45’s, except for Bob Dylan who was always an album artist. Note that these are guides and that when you are record shopping you have to adapt to what is actually there. Don’t go insisting on a certain format when it’s unavailable or too pricey everywhere. The best deals today are on used CD’s. Major artists past & present in every genre populate the “used CD’s” bins, so find them.
Good stuff can be hard to find, and when it’s a good deal you should jump on it. If it moves you and has great songs from start to finish it will sound great in ANY format. The exception is cassette tapes, which degrade over time no matter what you do. Cassette tapes always have hiss, and are susceptible to getting eaten by vehicle tape decks & boom boxes.
It was always considered smarter to buy vinyl, and then record it onto a blank 45/90 cassette tape, than to buy pre-recorded cassettes. That way you got two albums per tape and if it got eaten or lost, just record another. Turntables were considered a nuisance by most as the 1980’s progressed, as CD players changed the music market.
VCR’s had revolutionized television watching habits and opened up new avenues in home recording. MTV hit in 1981 and popular music was never the same. From MTV on, you had to look good in front of the camera, otherwise you had no chance with the kids. Before MTV, oldies bands & performers could hide & hang-on as “rockers”. MTV immediately assigned REO Speedwagon, CSN, Rod Stewart, Bob Seger, etc, to “classic rock” & “adult contemporary” status.
Of all of the classic rockers, it was Tom Petty who best survived the 80’s into the 1990’s when grunge & hip-hop exploded. By then Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Michael Jackson, etc, no longer had the kids attention, and were then considered legacy artists along with Billy Joel, Elton John, Eric Clapton, etc.
Grunge proved that kids liked bands influenced by the Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart & the Stooges better than those championed by the classic rock dogmatists. The music industry canonized classic rock in the 1970’s under the institution of Rolling Stone magazine in which a few ex-musician hangers-on anointed themselves as the preeminent critics on rock, country & pop music.
Since the grunge wave of the early 1990’s, Rolling Stone has lost much of its credibility as the unassailable critics of music & pop culture. The more one learns of this institution, the more it can be seen for what it is: a tool of the music industry which employs its legion of hack writers, fake journalists & unserious critics to prop up the latest project the music industry deems important. These industry creations will always get a positive review in Rolling Stone; and depending on their industry clout, they may also get anything from a quick (positive) write-up, to a cover with full interview. That’s mainstream popular music in all genres. It’s totally a business, and that’s why it sucks so hard.
Divas are the explosive phenomenon in popular music in the last 25 years. The last divas I loved were Gloria Estefan & Madonna back in the day. Before them, Deborah Harry (Blondie) & Pat Benatar were my original favorites. MTV & the internet made divas more possible. The original modern diva in pop culture was Marilyn Monroe. In rock music it was Nico with the Velvet Underground & Warhol. Nico was the original bad girl, and a fascinating study in the ephemeral character of divas. They all want to be considered as artists.
The previously mentioned Shania Twain was first American pop music diva of the 21st century. Just to define the term, divas have to be beautiful, stylized & talented. Divas are coveted by all straight men, so they set the standard for women. Country music never really had a diva before Shania Twain. The original female country star was Patsy Cline. For a long time Dolly Parton was the closest thing to a country music diva in a genre dominated by wholesome-image female artists.
Country music since the 1970’s (at least) can be classified into two distinct styles: Nashville sound & outlaw. It must be understood that all country records are recorded in Nashville, TN, but there is a difference in style. Outlaw is rootsier and appeals to purists, while Nashville sound is slicker and more pop oriented. Contemporary country has been profoundly changed by pop, rock & rap. I listen to country songs that have a singer with a twangy voice, but if it’s a fast song, it’s rock music. Maybe they throw-in a harmonica & steel pedal guitar track to countrify it, but it’s basically rock. All the country ballads are basically pop & rap production.
In contemporary country music, the biggest pop diva has been Carrie Underwood since she won Season 3 of American Idol. Her first CD Some Hearts (2005) had the entire music industry behind it, so it was going to be a success no matter what, kinda like Titanic (1997). My listening of her first few albums is that they are highly polished, with some good singles, but also with too much well-constructed filler. Carrie Underwood has an amazing voice, but I never much cared for Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, etc, and that’s her style. It’s too much syrupy pop for my taste, which leans towards rock. My best chance of finding something I like in country music was in the outlaw style that takes Waylon & Willie as its roots.
The biggest star in country music for the past 15+ years has been Miranda Lambert. Like Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert also came from reality TV, and released her debut album Kerosene in 2005. Reading both these album credits today provides definitive clues in advance as to who would be the enduring artist in country music.
Carrie Underwood’s Some Hearts has only one song that she wrote, “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore,” while Miranda Lambert wrote (or co-wrote) every song on Kerosene except one. Both their follow-ups are they same way, and so on…
Miranda Lambert does use professional songwriters, but I get a sense that she really gets to pick the songs she likes. She also collaborates with these songwriters much more, in order to get them right for the album. Carrie Underwood had the material handed to her, and if Max Martin insisted that his song be on her CD, it got done. Carrie Underwood does the best she can, but too much of her material isn’t very inspired.
The songs that Miranda Lambert writes have more depth, heart & soul. These are songs of a restless artist who has the songwriter gift. I have nothing but respect & admiration for that because I know how hard it is. Carrie Underwood is more of a true diva, where Miranda Lambert is more of a Woodie Guthrie folk singer. They’re both country singers and both divas. Miranda Lambert is the true artist.
It was just over a year ago that Neil Young sold 50% of his worldwide copyright & income interests in his 1,180 song catalog to some UK capitalist whale. Now Neil Young has started this ‘boycott Spotify’ campaign over some reactionary podcast that promotes COVID misinformation, when it’s mass media misinformation EVERYWHERE.
I respect Neil Young the musician as I have many of his records & CD’s, but it just feels like all the wrong people are making money for all the wrong causes and nothing ever gets better under this existing set-up. I respect Neil Young’s & other artists’ right to use their political clout, so I hope they respect my right to say it’s self serving and a political dead end.
Spotify basically doesn’t pay the artists, especially indies. The reason our music is still on their platform is because it’s “new radio,” meaning free distribution through the internet. The music goes online through a major label (or the likes of CD Baby), which places it on every streaming site: iTunes, Spotify, etc, and you don’t get to pick & choose. The problem for indies (besides not getting paid) is that all their algorithms work against us, so relatively few listeners can find us. It’s like that with all the corporate platforms.
The original streaming service was Napster (1999-2002), which was destroyed by the RIAA, when its well-heeled shills (Metallica & Dr. Dre) did their dirty work for them. Their claim was artists needed to get paid. Napster offered to work out an artist payment model, but they wouldn’t listen or negotiate, only the destruction of Napster would suffice.
This opened the way for Apple iTunes & venture capitalism (Spotify, Pandora, etc) to monopolize the mp3 market. This is why 99+% of all mp3 downloads are “illegal” today. We need a revolution, not reformism, because these elitist bloodsuckers will never willingly give up control.
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.
This blog does not tolerate violence, harassment, or hate speech; yet it can’t be called a safe space for certain readers. That’s because there is too much content that is upsetting to snowflakes, and it doesn’t contain the requisite trigger warnings. There is nothing more hysterical & shrill than a snowflake who has been set-off, due to lack of trigger warnings.
This blog discusses many forms of art including music. But for me to identify with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, etc, is considered unacceptable cultural appropriation by the snowflakes– particularly the black racialists. This will lead to media attacks, censorship, de-platforming & blacklisting. Liberal racialists insist on separation, much like the racist Alabama Governor George Wallace (pic below) meant when he insisted on “separate but equal” institutions in the 1960’s. Black racialism is the flipside of the white racist coin.
Critical Race Theory, is a re-working of the post-modernist school of Critical Theory, which insists that everything is subjective. This means there is no historical truth, no such thing as facts, and that idealist narratives can replace rational thought in all things. Lazy liberals gravitate towards this ideology because they never really learned anything, as this post-modernist construct elevates them, while hiding their ignorance. In short, liberal ideology has become right-wing reaction, peddled as progressive thought.
1. Primary Colors - Ric Size
In America, this nonsense is funded by the Democratic Party & corporate elitists, who seek to divide & dumb-down the working masses & youth with dead-end identity politics. These aren’t genuine grassroots movements, but instead are well-funded astroturf campaigns.
For example, intersectionality is considered inherently progressive, because women are always to be believed, and black people are always the victims of racism. This means that Jay-Z & Beyonce, despite their fabulous wealth & celebrity power, are oppressed by the white colonialist patriarchy that is in our DNA.
If you disagree with the above statements, then you are a class reductionist, which automatically means you are racist, misogynist and/or homophobic. This is the state of the American media today. This is why movies, television & music suck so hard. It’s also why there is no discussion outside of these “safe space” boundaries in academia, pop culture, or politics.
So in answering the title, “Is it safe?” one reminisces Dustin Hoffman about to be tortured in The Marathon Man (1976), with Laurence Olivier playing the Nazi by asking a question that can’t be answered–“Is it safe?”
A healthy response is to shout down this woke mob, and all their witch-hunting, book-burning fake politics. To those philistines who want to cancel Shakespeare, etc, we contemptuously ask, “What have you done?” Seriously, what the fuck have you done?