Sunday, May 30, 2010


Is it me, or does paleo-conservative Rand Paul bear more than a passing resemblance to another radical thinker, Lee Harvey Oswald?

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pat Metheny on Kenny G

Asked to recall his first impressions of frizzy-haired saxophonist Kenny G., jazz guitarist Pat Metheny lets loose:

"He had major rhythmic problems and his harmonic and melodic vocabulary was extremely limited, mostly to pentatonic based and blues-lick derived patterns, and he basically exhibited only a rudimentary understanding of how to function as a professional soloist in an ensemble..."

But he did manage to give him some left-handed praise:

"...he did show a knack for connecting to the basest impulses of the large crowd by deploying his two or three most effective licks (holding long notes and playing fast runs - never mind that there were lots of harmonic clams in them) at the key moments to elicit a powerful crowd reaction (over and over again)."


Bottom line: Metheny thinks Kenny G. is a hack (albeit a rich and successful hack).

Full article here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Get Ready For Green Walls

We live and work in environments that separate us from nature. Why?

I suppose there's a reason for this — our natural world is beautiful, but it can be a dangerous and deadly place.

When we hang a painting of a nature scene on a wall, we're trying to bring a bit of the natural world inside. We're trying to make the wall seem a bit less lifeless. We're trying to reconnect with our natural spirit.

This is why architects are finally experimenting with "green walls," which are exactly what they sound like. They're literally walls constructed with living, green plants, not dry, painted Sheetroc.

Most of has haven't been exposed to green walls, but I predict we'll see a them everywhere in years to come.

We'll see high-rise buildings completely covered in green, not granite. Retail stores will use green walls to make a statement. Architects will absolutely crave the chance to spec green walls, because they represent offer the chance to make an environmental statement, an intellectual statement, and a creative statement. What architect could resist?

Most of us working in cities spend our waking lives completely surrounded by lifeless, drab walls.

We're seeing more and more interesting uses of green walls, I can almost guarantee they're coming soon to a wall near you (maybe your own walls).

Rand Paul & The Business Good, Government Bad Argument

A few thoughts about this Rand Paul/Rachel Maddow dust-up:

While I certainly don't believe he's a nasty, overt racist, Paul's mish-mash of Libertarian/Republican/Tea Party tenets certainly revealed his beliefs to be incongruent with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (you know, the one that forced racist restauranteurs to serve black folk).

Here's an exchange about a specific effect of the '64 C.R.A.:

Maddow:... How about desegregating lunch counters?

Paul: Well what it gets into then is if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, then do you say that you should have the right to bring your gun into a restaurant even though the owner of the restaurant says 'well no, we don't want to have guns in here' the bar says 'we don't want to have guns in here because people might drink and start fighting and shoot each-other.' Does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant? Or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not a very practical discussion...(emphasis mine)

Maddow: Well, it was pretty practical to the people who had the life nearly beaten out of them trying to desegregate Walgreen's lunch counters despite these esoteric debates about what it means about ownership. This is not a hypothetical Dr. Paul.

Paul is basically suggesting that he has a philosophical problem with government imposing civil rights laws on business owners. His defense? Well, business are owned by people, not by the government, and should be allowed to operate their business in any manner they wish, even if it's offensive.

I've never been impressed with this argument. First of all, it ignores the symbiotic relationship between private business and government. If I operate a restaurant in the United States, I benefit from the support of the government in a host of ways:

• Highways, bridges, and tunnels (built by the government) make it easy for customers to drive to my restaurant.
• Subsidies paid to farmers help ensure that I'll be able to buy fruit and vegetables at an affordable price.
• Our public school system provides me with a literate, educated pool of workers to choose from.
• The Federal judicial system lets me defend myself against lawsuits, insurance claims, and other legal matters.
• Environmental protection laws let me rest assured that my customers won't get sick and die if they drink the water I serve them.
• I don't have to worry about serving rotten hamburger patties to my customers, thanks to meat inspection laws, mandated by the government.
• The Federal Reserve helps stabilize the dollar, protecting me from wildly unpredictable, Zimbabwe-style inflation
• An infrastructure of satellites, telephone lines and broadcast frequencies allow me to advertise my restaurant to a huge audience of potential customers
• I'm protected from foreign threats thanks to a highly advance, standing military force.

So when I hear Paul suggest that business owners should be able to decide whether or not they should be allowed to serve black people, because, hey, it's none of our business, I've got to disagree. We're fortunate enough to live in a nation that literally moves mountains to help businesses prosper. Defiance of federal Civil Rights legislation isn't just ugly, it's un-American.

Update: Paul made a clarifiying statement today:

"I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

Can you believe a political candidate in 2010 would need to make such a statement?

Friday, May 7, 2010


"Glee" fans know her as the ditzy Cheerio, but Heather Morris is a tremendous dancer. She got her first big break with Beyoncé, and she's spirited and energetic in this clip.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why The Arizona Immigration Law Is Unconstitutional

As a White man, I won't enjoy equal protection under Arizona SB 1070 — I'll enjoy enhanced protection. Super-sized protection. Protection that violates the 14th Amendment. Here's why:

• If I am attacked and beaten in a random act of violence, I won't hesitate to report the crime to the police, because I know that, as a White man, I won't be asked to "show my papers."

• If I'm at a party that gets too loud, the police officer will not demand proof of citizenship from everyone attending. That's because we will all be White and we will be listening to Indie Rock.

• If I'm caught watering my lawn on a "no water" day, I may or may not receive a warning. This is because I'm White, and it will be presumed that I'm the owner of the house, not an illegal day laborer.

I could go on and on with other examples, but hopefully you've gotten the idea.

Here's where things get complicated for non-White U.S. citizens:

Suppose I'm a former professional baseball player from the Dominican Republic (yeah, it's a stretch). I'm a naturalized U.S. citizen, my wife is a naturalized citizen, and my children were born in the United States. We all have very dark complexions, and we are clearly not Caucausian.

While driving through Arizona, we're pulled over for a traffic violation. The officer asks for my driver's license. Whoops, for some reason I don't have it. I actually don't have any identification, and my wife doesn't, either. My English isn't very good. My wife's English is worse. The officer becomes suspicious. Under SB 1070, not only can I be arrested, the officer is obligated to arrest my wife and I. My children will be taken into custody, too.

Would this happen to a white family? Of course not. I've been pulled over on two occasions without my driver's license, and managed to drive away with a smile and a warning.

The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution ensures that states must guarantee equal application of the law. This is essential to prevent institutionalized racism within a state.

As a White man, I'll be able to move through Arizona freely, above suspicion. My skin is light. I don't speak with a Spanish accent. I get a free pass. Under SB 1070, Latino men won't get the same free pass. How does this reality uphold the principle of Equal Protection under the law?

It's interesting that Arizona legislators didn't pass a bill that would require police to check the immigration status of every single individual, during every single call. This would ensure that Latinos would not be unfairly targeted because of their appearance. But this didn't happen. White Arizonans would never stand for such a law.

The architect of the bill, attorney Kris Kobach, offered a spirited defense in a NY Times Op-Ed piece. But despite his best efforts, vagaries in the language resulted in a hasty re-tooling of the bill, even after it was signed. That's because police officers are expected to make judgments based upon skin color and appearance.
Kris Kobach. It's doubtful he'd be subject to scrutiny under his bill.

Does U.S. immigration policy enforcement need to be urgently addressed? Of course. But this is a bad (and innately racist) law, which swings the barn door wide open to racial profiling, fear and intolerance. It reveals an ugly side of America, but thankfully, I'm confident it won't survive legal challenge.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Poetic Wall

The design, the photography -- "lyrical" is the best way to describe it.

A wall is just a wall. But with some creativity, it can become a poem.

(more here...)

Conan: Take a Reality Check

Conan O'Brien didn't get to be Johnny Carson, so he's very sad and depressed. If you don't believe me, check out his beard. As every White American Man knows, when we're sad and depressed we grow a beard. We just can't be bothered with shaving.

I sort of felt sorry for him, until I remembered a few facts:

• He was paid $32 million to walk away from his contract. When most of us lose our jobs, we're lucky to get 2 weeks' severance pay.
• He's spent much of his adult life hosting a late night talk show on a major TV network. This isn't a bad gig; in fact, only a handful of people on Earth can make such a claim.
• He's a smart guy. He's fully aware that the TV business isn't about grace and honor; it's about cold, hard cash. Loyalty means nada.

Conan O'Brien is a brilliant comedic talent, but is he really that much funnier than any "Onion" staffer? Did he deserve the "Tonight" show more than, say, Jon Stewart, or Stephen Colbert? Of course not. Conan should be more than pleased with the way his life has played out. He was never a natural performer; he was a writer who was promoted to become a performer, bypassing thousands of talented performers to take the reins of "Late Night." He done good, much better than he deserved.

Conan, you're still young. You're filthy rich. Take some time off, see the world, take up a hobby, and please stop whining.

The World's Biggest Josh Groban Fan