News for September 2008





somewhere in house.

keeping me awake.

must die.

happy now eve?

Posted: September 27th, 2008
Categories: fact
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New Song

and the moon

Here’s a little demo of a little song of a little time of the year we call autumn.  An end of the summer love song.  That’s what it is.  Featuring the first ever recorded appearance of my acoustic lap steel.

Posted: September 25th, 2008
Categories: music, song
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we need another option

 Is this why Obama and McPresident are afraid of a third debater?  Before they change the government they’ve got to change themselves.

Posted: September 24th, 2008
Categories: politics, third party
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Here’s a long article about an important subject.  I went ahead and boldfaced what I thought most interesting.  This is the sort of situation you wish Obama or McCain would say something substantative about.  If only there were a third party.  One that could add something to the upcoming “debate.” 

 Today’s Pass It On article appears below. It was written by William Greider, and published online by The Nation. You can read the original article here.
Paulson Bailout Plan a Historic Swindle
William Greider
September 19, 2008
Financial-market wise guys, who had been seized with fear, are suddenly drunk with hope. They are rallying explosively because they think they have successfully stampeded Washington into accepting the Wall Street Journal solution to the crisis: dump it all on the taxpayers. That is the meaning of the massive bailout Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has shopped around Congress. It would relieve the major banks and investment firms of their mountainous rotten assets and make the public swallow their losses–many hundreds of billions, maybe much more. What’s not to like if you are a financial titan threatened with extinction?
If Wall Street gets away with this, it will represent an historic swindle of the American public–all sugar for the villains, lasting pain and damage for the victims. My advice to Washington politicians: Stop, take a deep breath and examine what you are being told to do by so-called “responsible opinion.” If this deal succeeds, I predict it will become a transforming event in American politics–exposing the deep deformities in our democracy and launching a tidal wave of righteous anger and popular rebellion. As I have been saying for several months, this crisis has the potential to bring down one or both political parties, take your choice.
Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics, a brave conservative critic, put it plainly: “The joyous reception from Congressional Democrats to Paulson’s latest massive bailout proposal smells an awful lot like yet another corporatist lovefest between Washington’s one-party government and the Sell Side investment banks.”
A kindred critic, Josh Rosner of Graham Fisher in New York, defined the sponsors of this stampede to action: “Let us be clear, it is not citizen groups, private investors, equity investors or institutional investors broadly who are calling for this government purchase fund. It is almost exclusively being lobbied for by precisely those institutions that believed they were ‘smarter than the rest of us,’ institutions who need to get those assets off their balance sheet at an inflated value lest they be at risk of large losses or worse.”
Let me be clear. The scandal is not that government is acting. The scandal is that government is not acting forcefully enough–using its ultimate emergency powers to take full control of the financial system and impose order on banks, firms and markets. Stop the music, so to speak, instead of allowing individual financiers and traders to take opportunistic moves to save themselves at the expense of the system. The step-by-step rescues that the Federal Reserve and Treasury have executed to date have failed utterly to reverse the flight of investors and banks worldwide from lending or buying in doubtful times. There is no obvious reason to assume this bailout proposal will change their minds, though it will certainly feel good to the financial houses that get to dump their bad paper on the government.
A serious intervention in which Washington takes charge would, first, require a new central authority to supervise the financial institutions and compel them to support the government’s actions to stabilize the system. Government can apply killer leverage to the financial players: accept our objectives and follow our instructions or you are left on your own–cut off from government lending spigots and ineligible for any direct assistance. If they decline to cooperate, the money guys are stuck with their own mess. If they resist the government’s orders to keep lending to the real economy of producers and consumers, banks and brokers will be effectively isolated, therefore doomed.
Only with these conditions, and some others, should the federal government be willing to take ownership–temporarily–of the rotten financial assets that are dragging down funds, banks and brokerages. Paulson and the Federal Reserve are trying to replay the bailout approach used in the 1980s for the savings and loan crisis, but this situation is utterly different. The failed S&Ls held real assets–property, houses, shopping centers–that could be readily resold by the Resolution Trust Corporation at bargain prices. This crisis involves ethereal financial instruments of unknowable value–not just the notorious mortgage securities but various derivative contracts and other esoteric deals that may be virtually worthless.
Despite what the pols in Washington think, the RTC bailout was also a Wall Street scandal. Many of the financial firms that had financed the S&L industry’s reckless lending got to buy back the same properties for pennies from the RTC–profiting on the upside, then again on the downside. Guess who picked up the tab? I suspect Wall Street is envisioning a similar bonanza–the chance to harvest new profit from their own fraud and criminal irresponsibility.
If government acts responsibly, it will impose some other conditions on any broad rescue for the bankers. First, take due bills from any financial firms that get to hand off their spoiled assets, that is, a hard contract that repays government from any future profits once the crisis is over. Second, when the politicians get around to reforming financial regulations and dismantling the gimmicks and “too big to fail” institutions, Wall Street firms must be prohibited from exercising their usual manipulations of the political system. Call off their lobbyists, bar them from the bribery disguised as campaign contributions. Any contact or conversations between the assisted bankers and financial houses with government agencies or elected politicians must be promptly reported to the public, just as regulated industries are required to do when they call on government regulars.
More important, if the taxpayers are compelled to refinance the villains in this drama, then Americans at large are entitled to equivalent treatment in their crisis. That means the suspension of home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies for debt-soaked families during the duration of this crisis. The debtors will not escape injury and loss–their situation is too dire–but they deserve equal protection from government, the chance to work out things gradually over some years on reasonable terms.
The government, meanwhile, may have to create another emergency agency, something like the New Deal, that lends directly to the real economy–businesses, solvent banks, buyers and sellers in consumer markets. We don’t know how much damage has been done to economic growth or how long the cold spell will last, but I don’t trust the bankers in the meantime to provide investment capital and credit. If necessary, Washington has to fill that role, too.
Finally, the crisis is global, obviously, and requires concerted global action. Robert A. Johnson, a veteran of global finance now working with the Campaign for America’s Future, suggests that our global trading partners may recognize the need for self-interested cooperation and can negotiate temporary–maybe permanent–reforms to balance the trading system and keep it functioning, while leading nations work to put the global financial system back in business.
The agenda is staggering. The United States is ill equipped to deal with it smartly, not to mention wisely. We have a brain-dead lame duck in the White House. The two presidential candidates are trapped by events, trying to say something relevant without getting blamed for the disaster. The people should make themselves heard in Washington, even if only to share their outrage.
About William Greider
National affairs correspondent William Greider has been a political journalist for more than thirty-five years. A former Rolling Stone and Washington Post editor, he is the author of the national bestsellers One World, Ready or Not, Secrets of the Temple, Who Will Tell The People, The Soul of Capitalism (Simon & Schuster) and–due out in February from Rodale–Come Home, America.

Posted: September 22nd, 2008
Categories: third party
Comments: No Comments.

What's on my pants?

I get a ton of e-mails every day asking me what I wear to bed.  Bizarre I know, but totally understandible.  If sleep is the key to productivity, then dressing for success is all about sleep wear.  And since I’m so successful well then no doy of course everybody wants to know what I’m wearing to bed. 

Well as a matter of fact my current PJ bottoms were made by my Mom from material she bought in a Nairobi market.  Oh african cloth?  Must be all cool and tiedyed and colorful and stuff.  Not so mexico, this is the other kind of African cloth where a bunch of guys get together and start doodling ideas for a cool American print and instead of developing the ideas any further they pretty much just transfer the doodle straight to the textile.  This way you can see their unformulated ideas over and over.   So here are a few of the phrases and sketches on my ubersuccessful sleepwear:

Hideout / The bold and the beautiful / line drawing of sunglasses / brick wall pattern / The possible way out / love and peace / dollar sign / Dollars and Sense / Rod / put out fire / on ears / goggles / happy /

And my all time favorite :  “There is every chance that you will find today to be rather easy going day without much event.  A good day to take time to rest and relax.”  – Sandiego State of U.S.A.

If that doesn’t say it all I don’t know what does.   Those guys either got totally fired, or got a total raise.  And in either case I’m guessing their reaction was to get totally high and make some more sketches.

Let Nader debate,


Posted: September 21st, 2008
Categories: fact
Comments: No Comments.

Friday is for Folk. And Fizza!

Well folks, tonight’s the epic show to be at the Bean Factory.  I suppose you’ve already got it highlighted on your calendars and what not.  Micah uses this thing call fracebook (i think it’s actually called facebook, but calling it fracebook gives it a certain frenetic energy lacking without the added r.).  I’m guessing in fracebook he’s already invited a good 6 or 7 billion close and personal albeit virtual friends.  The place should be virtualy packed.  I’m not knocking Micah, at least he’s got pictures of all his virtual friends.  Mine are all kind of invisible.  Dare I say imaginary?

But it’s also fizza night!  What’s Fizza?  It’s pizza with an f.  It was either that or Priday is for Polk.  Dangerously close to Polka and we all know that’s the devil’s music.  With it suggestive tuba and sultry clarinets.  Not to mention it’s pention for beer.  Barrels and barrels of beer.  Drink up Beelzebub.  If I ever slip to the dark side I’m totally opening a polka bar and it’ll be called BeelzePub. 

I’m excited for fizza night.  I wonder what will be on my pizza?  Oh the mystery!  The intrigue!  The new dough recipe!  So daring!  So… so… so…

Posted: September 19th, 2008
Categories: Uncategorized
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New Recurring Shows Added

Check out two new great and ongoing shows by clicking on the shows tab.

I can’t find the Shows tab.

You’re welcome.

Micah Taylor recently decided it was time to start playing out so I jumped on his coat tails and voila!  We will be playing on the third friday of each month at the Bean Factory.  It’ll all be all acoustic and a chance to try out new songs and new instruments, new tunes and tunings.  Also Micah is inviting different folks to join us each time so who knows who’ll be there!  I’ve got two new songs to try out, plus my daughter Lydia is convinced she should sing a song or too.  We’ll see what Micah says ’bout dat.

The other “show” is a weekly preschool music class I do at the W. Seventh Family Center.  We meet at the family drop in center at Monroe Community school in St. Paul.  I’ve been teaching this class as my schedule permits since Lydia was 2.  We do a lot of standard preschool songs, a bunch of stuff I write or adapt, rhymes, and rhythms.  Birth to Five year olds are welcome to experience and participate at their comfort level.  Also, to all the stay at home parents out there – the drop in center is a great asset as we enter the colder months and you’re looking for something to do that’s warm and free.  It’s open Tue-Friday 9-Noon.  There’s also art on Thursday’s and Science Fridays (just like NPR!).  So check it out!

See ya!

Posted: September 16th, 2008
Categories: music
Comments: No Comments.

attempted vehicular nate-slaughter

or –  I’m Sorry I Flipped You Off, But You Almost Took My Life

Dear Driver of a Red Saturn Vue who illegally passed me on Edgecumbe last night,

Last night when I had the right of way going down Edgecumbe past all the parked cars with my safety light flashing, you thought it was a good idea to pass me.  There was not room for you.  If I can reach out and slap your car you know you’re too close for comfort.  Especially my comfort.  And than you swerved in front of me and made a right hand turn causing me to brake and swerve.  You are a horrible driver.  That’s why I rang my little bell and flipped you off.  Sorry about that.  Not really.

 Dear Driver of a Red mid 90’s Jeep Cherokee exiting off south bound 35-E onto eastbound W. 7th this morning,

This morning I was running down the sidewalk along W. Seventh with a very visible white T-Shirt.  As I entered the intersection where you were making a right hand turn we made eye contact.  I was the guy with green light and the walk signal.  Remember that?  And then, 1/3 of the way through the intersection you gave me a little nod and made a right on red.  Remember that?  Remember how you and your impatient mass of metal took off right in front of the pedestrian in the cross walk?  Remember how I took off sprinting after you trying to catch your sorry ass at the next light? Did you see me?  Oh yes you did.  I’m sure of it because when I got within 20 feet of your SUV at the next intersection you went ahead and ran the red light to get away from me.  Wuss.  What did you think I was going to do?  Jump on your hood?  Well, in your defense, that’s exactly what I was planning.  Anyways, that’s why I flipped you off.  Sorry about that.  Not in the least.  But if it makes you feel like any less of an incompetent sack of poo, I did run a negative split thanks to the adrenaline rush of almost being hit by almost hitting the car back.

Posted: September 15th, 2008
Categories: bike, health, transportation
Comments: No Comments.

the farm

remember the farm?  didn’t they have the hit single ‘groovy train’?

My mom gave me the book ‘animal, vegetable, miracle’ by barbara kingsolver.  (if my name was barbara i’d spell it barabara.  looks cooler.)  It’s all about eating local for a year.  My mom started it and liked it but since she and my Dad were heading back to Kenya this morning she left it with Jodi and I because it doesn’t really have the same implications in East Africa as it does in Minnesota.  She figured we’d get more out of it and than she’ll get it back next time they’re on the continent.  Smart move Mom. 

I love B. Kingsolver (Her middle name must not start with a B or else she obviously would sign everything B. B. Kingsolver.  She’d write bluesier books too.)  This book is just as great as everything else of hers.  So far.  And it’s got me really excited for eating locally.  So excited in fact that I took Elsa to the Farmers market this morning and got a bunch of local produce.  I came home and told Jodi we’d be eating local this week.  She looked at what I got and said, “Yes you will be.”  Apparently my family is not as keen on living off of Eggplant, Collard Greens, and Jalepenos as I am. 

Yes they did.

Posted: September 13th, 2008
Categories: diy, edumacation, family, politics
Comments: 1 Comment.

Finally, more instruments.


Tuesday was a three instrument day. 

It started at Goodwill.  I found the melodica for 4 bucks.  Then the little pink guitar for 4 bucks.  It has friction tuners so good luck staying in tune, but it serves a very useful purpose.  Any musician with kids is probably aware that the youngins like to get in on the action too.  One day when Lydia was about 2 I heard an odd clunking sound coming my way.  She was dragging my mandolin by the strap through the hall and the clunking was the mandolin not making it around the corner.  Ouch.  I don’t want to discourage her desire to play, but I definately didn’t want her learning how to take care of an instrument that I couldn’t afford to part with.  We went to music go round that afternoon and bought a uke.  So this pink guitar serves that same purpose now for Elsa. 

Now for the acoustic lap steel. 

The acoustic lap steel, usually referred to as a Weissenborn (similar to how all resophonic guitars are called Dobros), is an instrument I’ve been looking for for the last 6 years.  In fact when I was picking out my electric lap steel I chose it based on the body style mimicking that of a Weissenborn.  I learned about Weissenborns the same way most people do, via Ben Harper.  And I really started loving Ben Harper when I got married and Jodi brought to the marriage table a copy of Welcome to the Cruel World.  What can I say, I married well. 

The problem with acoustic lap steels is that there aren’t a ton of them out there.  Which means they are pricey.  The majority are luthier built and start around 2500 bucks.  Not happening.  The one I bought is made by Superior and new would still be out of my price range, but low and behold someone else was letting it go on Craig’s list.  YES.

I bought this from area musician Rob Morrow.  First off, what a great guy.  And what a great musician.  Check out the music on his site and go buy one his CD already, will ya?  He gave me great deal on a great instrument, and for that I’m grateful.  greatful?

And get this, Rob used to hang out with Ben Harper, JP Plunier, Tom Freund, Chris Darrow – the whole early Harper crowd.  And as a photographer, Rob did Harper’s first photo shoot.  How crazy cool is that?  But wait, there’s more.  The Steven’s Steel that Rob threw in with lap steel is one that Ben gave him.  (OK, technically Ben took it off the shelf of his grandpa’s music store and handed it to him, but still, for over 3 seconds it was in Ben’s posession.  And that’s 9/10’s of the law.)

So not only do I have a beautiful Weissenborn style guitar, I also have Ben Harper’s steel.

So yeah, it was a pretty good day.

Posted: September 4th, 2008
Categories: music
Comments: No Comments.

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