Archive: December, 2009
It's hard to know what to make of the first year of Obama's presidency. If he does indeed get a healthcare bill of some kind (and we'll know better after 1 a.m....who says there's a lack of transparency in Washington*) then he arguably would have done a lot of things during those 12 months. But from healthcare to jump-starting the economy to restoring human rights and the rule of law in this country, Obama has reminded us why politicians so often do nothing -- because the system is set up to require so many compromises to "do something" that almost no one can be excited about the mushy mess that emerges (although in Obama's case, some of the unpopular compromising is his own fault). Health care is the prime example -- conservatives are angry over what the government is doing and liberals are furious over what the government isn't doing. Ditto with human rights -- progressives can't be too excited about closing Gitmo or a civilian trial for the 9/11 attackers since so many others continue to be held without charges. Yet we know how the right wing feels about Obama's Guantanamo plan.
Obama and the Democrats are on the brink of paying a horrible price, beginning with the 2010 elections. Ironically, there aren't that many movable, centrist, bona fide swing voters remaining in America, but the once that do exist are now hearing non-stop Obama-blasting in their right ears and not hearing much in the way of defending the president in their left ears.
Because nobody told me I couldn't do Jack White twice:
Playoffs! Happy New Year from the Philadelphia Eagles.
UPDATE: The conventional wisdom shiffts quickly, in football as in politics. This weekend's losses by the Saints and now the Vikings have me wondering whether this could be the year that suddenly red-hot McNabb & Co. surprise everybody and get back to the Super Bowl, after all. Still think the Saints would be a tough opponent but the Cowboys may have given the Eagles' defensive brains a roadmap on how to defeat Drew Brees. So thanks Da....no, I can't say it!
A little more than a week ago, I was here mourning the loss (although there are still some last-ditch revival talks) of the great Editor & Publisher and hailing the efforts of its final editor, Greg Mitchell. The only good thing about all the job losses -- voluntary and involuntary -- is the some people have seen crisis as an opportunity. Here in Philadelphia, a Daily News buyout led to the phenomenon that is Joe Sixpack, and now E&P's Mitchell, in addition to whatever else he does, is here to share with us "An Incompleat History of Rock 'n' Roll," which is compleat with a rare photo of the narrator with a very young, pre-famous Bruce Springsteen. Check it out, as well as the great closing music at the end:
Great songs of The Decade That Shall Not Be Named: "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
What makes a rock 'n' roll song great? Well, there's a bunch of things that come to mind -- a killer riff, or haunting lyrics. The one that gets overlooked is context. Bands that have been around the block a few times -- two that I mentioned in a post the other day were R.E.M. and the B-52s - can continue to make great music into their Medicare years, but they can't easily recapture the way we felt when we heard them that first time, and they suffer for that. Great music is also associated with a certain time and place. Would a song like the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" have the same power if it had been released in 1985 instead of 1965, in between the JFK assassination and the Gulf of Tonkin, on the cusp of a sexual revolution? I think not.
I never thought Bruce Springsteen would get his context back; the '90s were a bit of a lost decade as he tried to figure out whether he belonged in Hollywood or New Jersey, with the E Street Band or without it. Then came an American tragedy -- 9/11. In "The Rising," released a year after the attacks, Springsteen produced arguably the only great work of art to rise from the sorrow and ashes of the World Trade Center. In the haze that followed, 9/11 became a rallying cry for politics and for war -- sometimes appropriately, often not -- but Springsteen and his songs on the collection also called "The Rising" brought 9/11 back to its very core, as a tragedy of human loss and love. I can tell you exactly where I was the first time I heard the song "The Rising" on my car radio -- it was smack in the middle of the Platt Bridge -- and by the time the chorus climaxed I knew that Springsteen was back. He and the band made a couple of other excellent CDs, especially 2007's "Magic," but "The Rising" and the album's other songs like "My City of Ruins" and "Lonesome Day" will always define the decade for him, as it should. It's not the best album ever from a man who gave us "Born To Run," "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and all the rest back in his -- what else could you call them? -- glory days, but in a weird way, "The Rising" was Springsteen's record of a lifetime.
The "Keep It Local" version of conspiracy theories:
"There are two narratives you can follow," Mandel says. "One is, Mayor Nutter campaigned as an outsider, he's going to bring change, rip the tower off City Hall, rah rah rah. That message wins, he gets in, and he runs into the wall of, 'This is how we've always done it' ... and he can't get through the reforms he wants."
I meant to post this earlier in the week but when you have blonde-trolling Bensalem cops and what not, it's hard to keep your focus. Anyway, yet another wave of Tea Party people descended on Capitol Hill this week, desperate to stop government healthcare because it might reduce their government healthcare. Anyway, the Kentucky Tea Partiers got to meet with staffers of their state's junior senator, non-re-election-seeking ex-Phillies pitcher Jim Bunning. The event was mildly newsworthy because the Tea Party folks said the usual stuff about our first Muslim president and his phony birth certificate, but what stuck me is that this all played out in front of a massive picture of Bunning's old stomping grounds, Connie Mack Stadium/Shibe Park up at 21st and Lehigh. Weird. If only tiny two-dimensional-Dick-Allen-on-the-wall could talk, just so he could say, "Damn, you people are all bat-guano crazy!"