Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bachmann: There She Goes Again...The Graduate of Oral Roberts Law School (defunct) Speaketh

The day after Michele Bachmann announced the launching of the biggest joke of a campaign for President since Pat Paulson, National Public Radio had an interview featuring random Iowans. Like most Minnesotans, I have never been much impressed by anything or anyone originating from the Hawkeye State. Everyone up here knows the old joke: What's the best thing to ever come out of Iowa? Answer: Interstate 35.

Now there's a new joke coming out of Iowa: Michele Bachmann, who like John Wayne Gacy,hails from Waterloo. Now what are the odds that there are two mass murdering clowns from the same small town in Iowa? "But wait one galdarn minute..." I can just hear the toothless clod say rearing to Bachmann's defense, "How d'yer figur' Sweet Lil Michele is some kinda mass murderer, she's too purdy?"

"Well, my clueless neighbor to the South, she murders the truth, kills history and every time she opens her mouth, another 3 million brain cells die, if that's not a mass murdering clown I do not know what is."

Although the previous exchange was fictional, the day after Miss WhackyNut announced her candidacy, a little belatedly I might add, as part of its radio news story on the subject, the NPR reporter asked those in attendance for their reaction. As God is my witness, one male Ioweejun gushed "...she's the smartest woman I ever heard".

Now I have never been accused of overestimating the intelligence of working class people who are so stupid or ignorant or racist so as to vote against not only their own interests but the collective economic interest of all Americans except for the wealthiest few,this statement should send chills up the backs of everyone with an IQ approaching room temperature and over. Is the base of the Republican Party really this delusional? Are Iowans really that stupid that Michele Bachmann is the "smartest woman" they had ever heard?

As a public service to all Republicans, especially the lead paint chip eating, gold and silver spray paint huffing variety from Iowa, here is another drop in the ocean of proof that Bachmann is a light weight idiot, American Idol wannabe of a politician, fame seeking slut:

Stephanopoulos: You have been making a lot of progress, also getting a lot of scrutiny. I am not going to get too deep into the "flake" flap from Sunday. But as you make progress in this campaign everything you say is going to get more scrutiny. And the Pulitzer Prize winning website, Politifact, has found that you have the worst record of making false statements of any of the leading contenders. And I wondered if you wanted to take a chance to clear up some of your past statements. For example earlier this year you said that the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence worked tirelessly to end slavery. Now with respect Congresswoman, that’s just not true. Many of them including Jefferson and Washington were actually slave holders and slavery didn’t end until the Civil War.

Bachmann: Well you know what’s marvelous is that in this country and under our constitution, we have the ability when we recognize that something is wrong to change it. And that’s what we did in our country. We changed it. We no longer have slavery. That’s a good thing. And what our Constitution has done for our nation is to give us the basis of freedom unparalleled in the rest of the world.

Stephanopoulos: I agree with that…

Bachmann: That’s what people want...they realize our government is taking away our freedom.

Stephanopoulos: But that’s not what you said. You said that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery.

Bachmann: Well if you look at one of our Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, that’s absolutely true. He was a very young boy when he was with his father serving essentially as his father’s secretary. He tirelessly worked throughout his life to make sure that we did in fact one day eradicate slavery….

Stephanopoulos: He wasn’t one of the Founding Fathers – he was a president, he was a Secretary of State, he was a member of Congress, you’re right he did work to end slavery decades later. But so you are standing by this comment that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery?

Bachmann: Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era. He was a young boy but he was actively involved.

Nuff said.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Man robs bank for health care benefits: What Health Care Will Look Like If Republicans Repeal Affordable Care Act

We got a peek into the future this week should, God forbid, Pawlenty, Bachmann and the Gang of Know Nothings succeed in repealing the people's Affordable Care Act:

Yesterday the Associated Press reported that a 59 year-old North Carolina man robbed a bank so he would be sent to jail where he would be eligible to receive free health care. According to the man's attorney, James Verone was a previously law-abiding citizen, that is before robbing the bank.

But in an act of desperation, due to serious health issues, and having nowhere to turn because he was unemployed, Mr. Verone robbed a bank for $1.

"This is a man who is a veteran, a man who had worked his whole life for the American dream," Neece told the Associated Press. "But that dream has now become the American nightmare, not only for him but for numerous people."

He has been charged with one count of larceny from a person. He was being held in the Gaston County jail on $2,000 bond. But Verone doesn't want to post bond because he wants to be in jail for the medical care.

I know, I know, the man did not have to resort to this act of lunacy to get health treatment as I assume that even in a right to work state like North Carolina there is currently some kind of health safety net before the Affordable Care Act kicks in for able bodied adults in 2014, but it only goes to show how desperate people in Mr. Verone's shoes perceive their predicament to be.

But before you scoff and write off this anecdote as knee jerk liberal hyperbole, may I suggest you first lose your job, lose your health insurance and yourself contract a serious disease before you start pointing your judgmental "I Got Mine Why the Hell Can't the Poor, Powerless, Defenseless and Vulnerable Get Theirs!" fingers. True people of faith, real Christians, do not ridicule and blame and judge the less fortunate, they attempt to understand and help them. So my advice to all right-wing moral majority Republicans is to become born-again, but this time with real Christian values not the Gospel of Prosperity preached by the mega-church, t.v. evangelist money grubbers. Amen.

The 2011 Ponderosa Stomp: Early Bird Stomp Ticket Sale Ends Today!

The Ponderosa Stomp has spent the last decade bringing you icons of American music back to the stage, shining a spotlight on the architects of songbooks that are part of our collective musical DNA. 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the Stomp, which has expanded over the years from a 2-day concert to include a film festival, music conference, record hop and a DJ dance party. On September 16th and 17th, the Ponderosa Stomp takes over a new venue, the Howlin' Wolf while moving the music conference, film festival and record hop into a central venue, the Renaissance Arts Hotel.

This milestone year will be hailed with tributes to the essential New Orleans recording engineer Cosimo Matassa, Stax Records, Excello Records and Southern music with Allen Toussaint, William Bell, Big Jay McNeely, Eddie Floyd, Lady Bo, Sir Mack Rice, Lazy Lester, Dave Bartholomew, The Bo-Keys w/ Skip Pitts and Howard Grimes, Carol Fran, Classie Ballou, Warren Storm, The Relatives and more.

Early Bird Stomp Ticket Special!

Time is running out to get your tickets to the 2011 Ponderosa Stomp concert for only $40 a night! The Stomp is running this early bird special through Friday June 24th only! So, get your tickets now!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crisis In Syria: Time for Turkey, Erdogan to Act Now

With Syrian tanks and troops moving right up to its border with Turkey in an apparent attempt to cut off thousands of more refugees from fleeing across the border, the time is now for Turkey and its Prime Minister to take action and stop the blood bath. President Assad has lost the moral authority to continue to run the country. More importantly, despite the ruthless and barbaric tactics of his army and secret police in gunning down hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed men, women and children, the spell of fear with which he has used to rule the country since taking over the reins of power from his father, is now forever broken by the general public's outrage and hatred of him.

Prime Minister Erdogan, as successful as his leadership has been, is now at a crossroads. There is no question that Turkey holds considerable influence with the Assad regime. Prime Minister Erdogan is said to have a close, friendly relationship with the monster Assad. Mr. Erdogan has a choice: he can either step up to his responsibilities as the only regional power in a position to halt the wholesale slaughter of the Syrian people by a two-bit dictator or he can turn his back, lose the respect and credibility Turkey has gained by standing up to the region's other bully, Israel, and dash any hopes of Turkey joining the modern world and entrance into the European Community.

The future of Turkey and Syria rests in Mr. Erdogan's hands.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Corruption Coverup Completed: FBI Closes Book On Metro Gang Strike Force

One of the most corrupt criminal syndicates in Minnesota history, the Metro Gang Strike Force proved today that crime does in fact pay when the FBI closed its investigation citing a lack of evidence. Following the cowardly lead set by Hennepin County Faux Attorney Mike Freeman, the FBI followed suit refusing to conduct even the most minimal investigation into outrageous illegal, felony conduct that costs the citizens of Minnesota over $3 Million Dollars in Settlements and counting. I know the FBI is hamstrung like the rest of government these days by a lack of personnel and resources but look what one Star Tribune reporter, Randy Furst, was able to accomplish on his own:

Lack of evidence my ass!

Just another example of the Boys in Blue protecting their own and that old corrollary "The Rules Don't Apply to Me".

The bottom line is who do Minnesotans have to blame for this travesty of justice? All of this could have been avoided as funding for this criminal organization had been cut-off way back in 2004.

As I reminded readers way back in August of 2009, it was then Governor Pawlenty who we have to blame for saving Minnesota's version of "Inglorious Basterds", the Metro Gang Strike Force. In announcing his saving Minnesota's answer to the SS from the budget chopping block, Governor Pawlenty stated:

"...Because partisanship has drawn things to a halt in the State Capitol, I've taken extraordinary executive actions to move ahead without legislative action. The budget deficit the Legislature ignored was wiped away with a stroke of my pen. A critical crime-fighting agency, the Gang Strike Force, was slated to disband because the Legislature didn't pass funding. Our administration found the money to keep the group working for Minnesota."

"A critical crime-fighting agency"? "Working for Minnesota"?

Take a bow Pawlenty, Freeman and the FBI because you all played significant roles in the biggest law enforcement corruption scandal in state history at a cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayers. You all are at the least guilty of professional malfeasance if not obstruction of justice. Strong words but well deserved! If you think the FBI's feeble excuse for an investigation into the Metro Gang Strike Force is just an isolated fluke, see POLICE CORRUPTION: FBI INVESTIGATIONS ARE NOT THE ANSWER.

Monday, June 20, 2011

MN Nice Meets the Law of Unintended Consequences: MN Yield to Pedestrians In Crosswalks Law Must Be Repealed

Where traffic control signals are not in place or in operation, a driver must stop for a pedestrian crossing within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk. A vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk can proceed once the pedestrian has completely crossed the lane in front of the stopped vehicle.

A pedestrian must not enter a crosswalk if a vehicle is approaching. There is no defined distance that a pedestrian must abide by before entering the crosswalk, but common sense should prevail. The law states: "No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield."

When a vehicle is stopped at an intersection to allow pedestrians to cross the roadway, drivers of other vehicles approaching from the rear must not pass the other vehicle.

It's unlawful for the driver of a motor vehicle to proceed through a group of school children crossing a street or highway, or past a member of a school safety patrol or adult crossing guard who is directing children across the roadway and who is holding an official signal in the stop position.

Failure to obey the law is a misdemeanor. A second violation within one year is a gross misdemeanor.

Cities can designate crosswalks for longer illumination of "Walk" "Don't Walk" signal lights. Intersections where there is a high concentration of pedestrians, senior citizens, school children, etc., qualify for such designation. District councils, community clubs, or other organizations can petition their city councils to designate these crosswalks.

It sounded like such a good idea at the time, require Minnesota drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Nevermind the fact that this was already the law. But all it took was a couple of tragic, well publicized instances of pedestrians being struck and killed to produce the inevitable legislation by victimization clamor resulting in bad legislation and the law of unintended consequences.

After the predictable passage of this crap piece of legislation, local law enforcement and the MN Department of Public Safety conducted state wide enforcement and publicity campaigns cracking down on anyone who even slightly entered an intersection when pedestrians were anywhere in the crosswalk even if they were inches from stepping onto the far curb. Now every time I drive anywhere near crosswalks in the state I get imbeciles who either do not have jobs or anywhere they have to be, slamming on their brakes when they see pedestrians, bicycles dogs or squirrels remotely approaching an intersection.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have almost laid down my motorcycle or rear ended some well intended but clueless ambassador of Minnesota Nice who sees someone ten yards from the curb and they stop and start with the hand gesture like their the Pope or something.


If you could not tell, this just happened to me again on my way home from work today and I would like to rip the head off the a$$h*le. I am second in line at the longest light in Minneapolis waiting for a green arrow so I can take a left turn in rush hour traffic.

The green arrow finally signals us to proceed and out of courtesy you try to hurry through so at least three or four cars can turn left before the light changes. We get about3/4s through the intersection when, without warning, a male version of Mother Theresa in the lead car short stops for some idiot on the center island. Although the pedestrian was attempting to cross where you're not supposed to and there was not even a cross walk, at least she was intelligent enough to be content to wait until all the vehicles in the left turn lane had gotten through the intersection. Well this apparently wasn't good enough for Saint Samaritan who almost caused a four car pile up so he could emphasize the fact that he was in no particular hurry as all three cars behind him stared into two lanes of on-coming highway traffic.

Repeal this abortion of a traffic ordinance now before more people die as a result of the law rather than in spite of it!

It reminds me when our former Governor Good N Plenty, in an attempt to distract from the fact that his Department of Corrections had fallen down on the job and let a dangerous level 3 sex offender back on the street who then kidnapped and murdered a young woman, at a time when nearly every level 3 sex offender was being subjected to indefinite civil commitments, responded with the wildly knee jerk and stupid cry for new legislation calling for the death penalty for kidnappers who also commit first degree sexual conduct on their victims. Pawlenty quickly shut up when someone pointed out that that was the law in many states before they realized the unintended consequence that the perpetrator would be incentivized to kill the victim. Whoops! Maybe Pawlenty should run for governor of Texas instead of President. Repeal the crosswalk law Now!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Neither Rain Nor Mud Can Stop Booker T & Band From Stealing the Show

I knew I was going to be in for a soggy day when my smart rock was wet on Saturday indicating rain in the forecast. While a little rain might have turned off a few fair weather friends (and fans) it could not dampen the spirits of those in attendance who were treated to a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon of good music by real musicians at the Walker Art Center's music extravaganza, Rock The Garden 2011.

Opening the festivities under a light but constant drizzle were Minneapolis' own Tapes 'n Tapes. Being something of an old guy and no longer into the club scene, I have to admit I was not familiar with this group but am happy to say these guys are the real thing. It is extremely encouraging to see younger generations of musicians who take playing their instruments seriously and these guys have the chops and play like they mean it.

The highlight of their set for me came towards the end of their high energy set when they welcomed a couple of horn players to the stage and Tapes 'n Tapes keyboard player switched to French Horn. Sounding some dissonant chords these guys reminded me a little of NRBQ's Whole Wheat Horns meet Rodwell Rudd. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay the group is, right before the group launched into the last number of their set, they announced "We are Tapes 'n Tapes and we're from Minneapolis..." causing me to break a smile as at that very moment I had been trying to figure out whether these guys were from Austin or Memphis, a high compliment indeed.

Next up was the reason I put on my rain gear, Booker T Jones and his crack young band which included "Burnin'" Vernon Black on guitar. Showcasing songs from his excellent new cd "The Road From Memphis", Booker T. and Band demonstrated the difference between having a high school music education and holding a doctorate. By the time they got to the third number of their set, the iconic "Green Onions", these guys were smoking. Looking hale and hearty and much younger than his age, Mr. Jones removed his jacket and got down to business looking debonair in his beige shirt and brown Fedora.

Other highlights included the familiar "Hip Hug Her" complete with a hip hop interlude compliments of his young, badddddddd drummer from Oakland. This kid played with such power he "knocked out" and over his high hat on two or three occasions causing me to make my inevitable Eric Gravatt comparison, the Marvin Haggler of jazz drumming. (Mr. Gravatt hits with such power one night I watched him have to pull his kit back closer to him three times in one set).

My personal favorite was the tune he penned for Albert King, " Born Under A Bad Sign" which had Jones, the virtuoso of the Hammond B-3 organ, switching over to guitar, an instrument he played on several occasions during their set, including a request from his bride in honor of their 26th Wedding Anniversary. Another must mention was a spectacular version of "Time is Tight" causing me to remark to my new friend, guitarist and L.A. transplant, Judd and his significant other Katrina, how amazing the sound was and our kudos to the engineers running the soundboard. My only regret was, alas, he did not play "Down At Ralph's Joint" but then I suppose for the master of the Hammond, it was only fitting.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

RightOffline 2011: Harriet A No Show; Bachmann Accepts Award On Bint's Behalf

June 18, 2011
Minneapolis, MN

In a dramatic turn of events in Minneapolis this evening, blog of the year award recipient Harriet Bint was a no show at the RightOffline 2011 convention. Accepting the award on Mrs. Bint's behalf was none other than tea bag favorite and part-time Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, (leading to wide spread speculation as to why the two have never been seen together or more importantly, why no one has ever seen Mrs Bint, period).

Addressing the friendly, partisan crowd of right-wingnut bloggers, white supremacists, anti-government, anti-taxes, posse comitatus, ultra-nationalist Serbs, neo-Nazis, Republicans and sovereign citizen types, Bachmann gave her typical rousing but factually and historically inaccurate and confused speech.

Bachmann told the gathering in Minneapolis:

"It's so good to be back in my adopted state of Minnesota tonite , home of the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty. In 1948 when Hubert Humphrey made his famous ride to the Democratic Convention and rang those bells to alert the British that they couldn't discriminate against our arms and legs and that we needed to provide handicap access to that rock in Plymouth, a suburb just west of Minneapolis..." I kinda lost it after that. The crowd of yee-haws and troglodytes were cheering and harrumphing so loudly I couldn't make out the rest of Bachmann's rambling dissertation. No matter, the crowd, just like those at Nuremberg in the 1930's, smelled blood and hate in the air.

With a candidate as dumb as this, the Republicans should have no problem loosing again next election cycle, that is if they even have a candidate. The latest rumors swirling around the convention this evening were speculating whether all the Republican potential candidates might be in the dock at the World Court in the Hague instead.

Breaking News: RightOffline 2011: "Hairy Girl in Tennessee" Wins Blog of the Year

June 17, 2011
Minneapolis, MN

BREAKING NEWS...After just one ballot, the virtually unknown, mysterious blogger Harriet Bint has won blog of the year from the right-wingut blogger convention meeting in Minneapolis this weekend. "'A Hairy Girl In Tennessee' is a daring and outspoken expose of a hirsute political diva from the Southland" gushes head wingnut Andrew Breathesfarts. I cannot wait until tonite when I present her with our award.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Harriet Supporters Fight Back, Tell Hannity: "Leave Our 'Hairy' Girl Alone!"

I don't think Sean Hannity had any idea what he was getting himself into yesterday when he took on New London, Tennessee native and local school board member Harriet Bint. Hannity, a yellow teeth, slack-jawed yokel of a man who reads propaganda for the corporate shills at Fox News, is in the second phase of his campaign to ruin the careers and rid the world of politicians, no matter how small and insignificant, whose names he finds offensive.

Singing the Twisted Sister teenage anthem, "We're Not Gonna Take It!", supporters of Mrs. Bint, or "Hairy Bee" as her constituents lovingly call her, descended upon Fox affiliates throughout rural Tennessee today blocking goat-cart trails and disrupting the local economy by causing delays in the transportation of the local hooch or White Lightnin'.

"He donno jus who the hell he f^ckng wit..." one of the local businessmen was heard muttering ominously under his breath. "We've Just begun to fight!" yelled one of the Harriet supporters or "Bee Girls" as they like to be called. Towanda, one of the larger, if not largest "Bee Girls", was carrying a crude sign which read "You Can't Lick Our Bint!" a sentiment which made nearly everyone in the crowd feel a little relieved.

I spoke briefly to another one of board member Bint's supporters, a woman in her thirties wearing a "Support Bint" t-shirt who would not give her name . I asked her if she had ever met Mrs. Bint to which the woman replied: "No, but I follow her blog, "A Hairy Girl In Tennessee", religiously. "Well, do you know anyone who has actually met Mrs. Bint or seen her in person?" "Let me think" she says. "Well now that you mention it, no. No I don't".

Hmmm...I thought to myself. Immediately yellow flags went up. I've heard this story somewhere before. A charismatic woman leader, who no one really knows personally or has even seen and is entirely the creation and byproduct of the blogosphere. Before I can say it, one of my fellow reporters blurts out: "I got it! I got it! This is just like that hoax "A Gay Girl in Damascus". Whew, I thought to myself. I thought I was going to lose my scoop, Hairy Bee is none other than Minnesota's own and joke on the world, Michele "Hairy Bee" Bachmann. And that's the truth! tttttbbbbbbbbbllllllllltttttttttttt!

Sean Hannity: "Harriet Bint Must Resign! Now!"

Sean Hannity, the not so quick-witted hero to the stupid and great unwashed (i.e. tea baggers, Republicans and Fox News watchers) fresh from taking credit for the resignation of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) has now set his sites on local school board member Harriet Bint of New London, Tennessee.

Never accused of being the brightest bulb in the pack, it was not until two days ago when Hannity finally figured out the punny possibilities of a politician named Weiner taking pictures of his weiner. So when Hannity finally expressed his belated not so original observations and faux outrage the matter had pretty much run its course and the next day Rep. Weiner resigned.

Encouraged by the success of his crusade, not so originally dubbed "Weinergate", Hannity next set his sights on ruining all politicians, no matter how small, who, in Hannity's mind have a dirty surname.

Hence Hannity's targeting of school board member Harriet Bint. Said Hannity: "The unmitigated gall of this dumb C#^+. I mean who is she that thinks she could have any future in politics with a name like Hairy Bint?"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry: Gun Ho to Execute Another Possibly Innocent Foreign National

I do not believe that I have ever encountered a politician I revile more than the loathsome Governor of Texas, Rick Perry. Not content with the blood of at least one possibly innocent man on his hands (e.g. Willingham), yesterday the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Jose Medellin, a Mexican national convicted of capital murder under the infamously flawed system known as the Texas "Justice" system.

Perry should hold the honorary title of engineer for all the criminal defendants that have been "railroaded" under his watch. The idea that the Republican Party actually would consider this ignoramus as potential Presidential timber makes one wonder just how low is the bar that would have the likes of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry as two of its front runners.

I truly believe that whoever came up with the idea for the "Mean People Suck" stickers had Rick in mind. The Republican governor's position in the Medellin case dramatically illustrates the gap between what right-wing so-called Christian Republicans espouse and what they practice. To sanctimonious jerks like Perry and his ilk, the Republican Creed and their version of the Golden Rule is:

"I Got Mine (usually unethically, immorally or illegally) Why the Hell Can't the Poor, Powerless, Defenseless and Vulnerable Get Theirs!"

To prove my point, I challenge the Governor of Texas to repeat after me and then honestly answer two simple rhetorical questions:

"Do Unto Others As you Would Have Done Unto You"(and yours)

Ready Rick? Here we go:

Would you have ignored exculpatory scientific evidence and rammed through an execution if the person being executed were your own child or relative?

If a citizen of Texas were arrested abroad and charged with a capital offense should he or she have not only the right, but the actual ability to notify the U.S. Consulate and/or U.S. Embassy and mount an adequate legal defense?

Yeah I thought so. What's that? Those examples don't apply to you? Oh yeah I forgot the corollary to your so-called version of the Republican, er I mean, Golden Rule:

"The Rules Don't Apply to Me because I am (fill in the blank)_________(rich, white, male, American, powerful, politically connected...).

Shame on you Rick Perry. Shame on Texas. Shame on Rick Perry's Amerika.

MPR Question of the Day: Should we change place names that don't fit with modern values?

Absolutely! Pigs Eye is now Palin's Eye. Minnesota is now Michelesota, the state of "Give me Liberty or give me a clue or a book or a camera to pose before". Paynesville is now Pawlentyville...aka Palookaville...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

After 30 Years Lonnie Brooks Still Has What Blues Lovers Need

As a huge blues fan and lover of good music in general, I have been very fortunate over the years to meet some of my favorite artists. While this can sometimes be a cautionary tale (e.g. the waitress who was slugged by a very drunk John Lennon famously said something to the effect that it wasn't the black eye that hurt as much as finding out one of your heroes was a real asshole) the same can not be said of Mr. Lonnie Brooks. Brooks, one of the most genuinely nice people I have ever met, is completely devoid of the arrogance and ego that afflicts many famous musicians, especially guitar players.

With a career spanning over five decades and dating back to his early releases under the stage name "Guitar Junior" including the country cross-over "Family Rules" and the song later made popular with a new generation of blues fans by the Fabulous Thunderbirds, "The Crawl". As the moniker "Guitar Junior" was also being used by another blues guitarist, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, another acquaintance of mine, Brooks smartly and graciously returned to his real name and never looked back.

Although originally from Louisiana, Brooks eventually left his father's farm, hopping a horse and then a freight train, eventually ending up in Chicago where he has been based ever since. My path crossed with Mr. Brooks in the early 1980's where I met the ever affable gentleman backstage at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Lonnie and band played the Old Style Country Stage where he performed right before (or after?) my friends Roomful of Blues. A couple years earlier I had met and become friends with Roomful's late great trumpeter Bob Enos and in one of those strange coincidences in life, had earlier also met Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson's key board player Ron Levy, who now happened to be playing in Roomful. Seeing my friends before the show, they hustled up a backstage pass for me so I could enjoy the complimentary keg and socialize with the performers in the backstage trailer that doubled as the performers dressing room. It is in that trailer that I found myself seated on a couch next to Roomful's then guitarist, the great Ronnie Earl and the legendary Lonnie Brooks.

Ronnie had just complimented Mr. Brooks on the success of his latest album on Alligator (in another strange irony, now Roomful's current label) to which Brooks responded with sincere thanks but then stated something to the effect that the funny part about his current success was he had a single that was actually getting considerable airplay in Chicago and had become something of a hit, one of his first since the old days on the Goldband label. This was at a time when everyone thought the Blues were dead and disco had recently reigned supreme. Well this of course caught the attention of every one in the room, especially when Lonnie said "..and you'll never believe how I wrote the song...".

Lonnie proceeded to mesmerize us recounting his story about driving in Chicago in bumper to bumper traffic one day when he noticed that the car in front of his was chasing and honking at the car ahead of it. Concerned that he may possibly be witnessing a rolling domestic(my term from my criminal defense lawyer days), Brooks watched with rapt attention as the first car made it across one of downtown Chicago's drawbridges while the second car did not. As they were now stuck by virtue of the upraised bridge, the man in the car in front of him leaped out and ran to the rail screaming "Baby! Please..You Got What My Body Needs". Lonnie said he immediately recognized he had to write a song with that lyric. Another version of "You Got What My Body Needs" would eventually appear on his "Bayou Lightning" album.

I know everyone within earshot felt as awe struck as I was to hear that incredible story from the man himself only to have the spell broken by the manager of the headline act, an asshole Englishman whose name will go unmentioned, who proceeded to unceremoniously throw everyone out of the trailer to make room for the asshole and his porn star girlfriend. We then carried our discussion outside in the backstage area sipping keg beer and trading their favorite firsthand story about this Englishman being an asshole of which Curtis Salgado won the competition hands down regaling us with his story, when as a singer in the early Robert Cray Band, they had opened a West Coast tour for the English asshole and walked off the tour after three shows because every night they stole the show and then before the next show Mr. Asshole's manager would relay their punishments: they could not use the headlines sound system , then lights and finally decreed they could not use their horn player to which Robert said F You and walked.

As delicious as I found these stories and revelled in the animosity for this old, washed up English blues wannabe, it is important to note Mr. Brooks was nowhere in site. It is just not in his nature to say something unkind of anyone, even if they are a complete, insecure jerk. Now that's the definition of a class act: Mr. Lonnie Brooks.

Now fast forward some thirty years to June 11, 2011 and Minneapolis where the Lonnie Brooks Blues Band is headlining the Famous Daves Blues Fest. Before Brooks' performance was an always fun set of zydeco, funk and soul by Louisiana's Chubby Carrier Band whose highlights included the customary "Zydeco Boogaloo" (known to all Roomful fans) and zydeco versions of War's "Cisco Kid" and the theme to television's "The Jeffersons" aka "Moving on Up". It should be noted that Carrier had won a much deserved Grammy this year only to find out it would be the genres last as they were discontinuing the category. Shame on the Grammys. However, I can't say I am much surprised by this sell-out organization's conduct anymore.

As good as Carrier's performance was, the best was truly yet to come. When he eventually took the stage, after three blistering warm-up numbers led by his son and guitarist Wayne Baker Brooks, Lonnie took the stage dressed nattily in cowboy shirt and gray cowboy hat. Although I was prepared for seeing an artist in decline due to the great equalizer, age, Mr. Brooks showed no signs of it and still I am in disbelief when I looked up his age as this was not the performance of a 77 year old. Still in fine form, including strong voice, great guitar playing and even dance moves, Lonnie had everyone in the crowd thinking to themselves "...boy I hope I am like that at his age...". The highlight for me came early in his set when, of course, he played the iconic "You Got What My Body Needs" complete with extended guitar dual with Wayne that had the crowd shaking their heads and muttering in disbelief. If you have never had the pleasure, you must see Lonnie Brooks because after 30 years he still has what Blues Lovers need!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

In the Doghouse Now: Local Press Coverage of Mpls Tornado an Embarrassment

All the respect and admiration earned in the aftermath of the 35W bridge collapse several years ago has now been squandered when the Twin Cities CBS station, WCCO, runs a news story last night concerning the living conditions in North Minneapolis almost three weeks after the storm. In a continuation of the press exploitation and exaggeration of the situation which has gone from the local Fox affiliate panicking and broadcasting wildly exaggerated reports of wide spread looting and gunfire on the night of the storm to last night's WCCO report that a North Minneapolis man was purportedly living in a brick dog house supposedly because he could not figure out any other way to protect his property.

By the gleam in the eyes of pathetic fool telling his tale of woe, to the gullible local press, I for one am "...not buying what their selling..." to paraphrase the late great ZZ Hill or as my father would say: "Oh Bullshit!". Either this is just another example of the predominantly white, upper class, local press corp being conned again by a few savvy, but vocal, members of the Northside poor and minority communities or we are doomed. C'mon Minneapolis get some self-respect and don't believe everything you hear from the incredibly lazy local press corp aka happy news and 20 minutes of weather. Before running an exploitative story like the one run by WCCO last nite, I suggest the reporter first verify the idiot actually spent a night living like Snoopy. May God help us. Check it out yourself at

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry: Willingham Case is Perry's Chappaquiddick

If anyone out there, that includes you too Governor, thinks that Texas Governor Rick Perry is the answer to the GOP Presidential candidate woes they had better watch the PBS Frontline episode on how a botched arson investigation turned miscarriage of, then obstruction of justice, with the end result being the State of Texas by act of Governor Rick Perry, putting to death a possibly innocent man, Todd Willingham.

Talk about your misguided and unwarranted government mandates, hey Rick don't ya think when you are imposing the most extreme and irreversible form of punishment you would want to have all the facts, including recently proffered scientific facts, which by the way absolved Mr. Willingham of intentionally setting the fire that killed his children. Instead you prematurely disbanded the commission, the commission that you established, when you did not like their results and than proceeded to allow Mr. Willingham's execution to go through ignoring exculpatory scientific evidence.

I cannot imagine Executive branch decision making this poor let alone come up with comparably bad examples of executive decision making this wretched and grotesque. Oh yeah, I forgot. There was just that little issue of how you cavalierly reacted to the prospect of putting to death a possibly innocent man. To those that think Rick Perry has a chance to become the GOP's Presidential candidate I have just one word: Willingham.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Palin and Bachmann's New England Ride

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the bus ride of Sarah Palin,
To deliver her message of ignorance and fear;
Hardly a man or woman or unborn child not yet alive,
will remember that shrew’s infamous ride.

She said to her friends in the press, with nary a clue
Demonstrating her ignorance as if on cue:

“He who warned, uh, the, the British that they weren’t gonna
be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringin’ those bells and, um,
makin’ sure as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those
warning shots and bells that, uh, we were gonna be secure
and we were gonna be free and we were gonna be armed.”

And with that tortured rendition of Paul Revere’s Ride,
she bade “Good-night!" and roared off on the back of a Harley
to New Hampshire where she had planned something snide
hoping to steal Mint’s thunder only to be denied;

For when Sarah Palin arrived in that New Hampshire night
she had been beaten there by someone equally not so bright,
for it was Michele Bachmann who had arrived months earlier
and spoke to the Tea Party faithful her lesson of history
as that dim bulb knew it, whereupon just like Sarah,
Michele promptly blew it:

“What I love about New Hampshire and what we have
in common is our extreme love for liberty,”
the potential GOP presidential candidate said.
“You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world
in Lexington and Concord. And you put a marker in the ground
and paid with the blood of your ancestors the very first price that
had to be paid to make this the most magnificent nation that has
ever arisen in the annals of man in 5,000 years of recorded history.”
“I’m thankful that you are the first in the nation state because
you are the liberty state,” Bachmann said.
“That is your charge. You keep that baton of liberty. You’ve done it
very well for almost 20 generations from the time the Pilgrims
landed at Plymouth Rock, and I’m sure the very first one came up
to New Hampshire and said, ‘This is where I want to be.’”

So with poets and historians like Sarah and Michele,
the GOP and Tea Baggers should do just swell!
(c) 2011 by Plainsense

(Apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and historians everywhere.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gov. Dayton Calls Republican's Bluff

With the prospect of a state government shutdown on July 1st rapidly approaching, Republican leaders from the House and Senate are meeting with administration officials today for a bipartisan panel discussion what may as well be called a game of "Minnesota Hold 'Em". Although the meeting is not being held at the Canterbury Card Room, the stakes could not be higher.

Since both sides have on their poker faces and neither appears willing to budge, what good could possibly come out of today's meeting? Well I for one am looking forward to the Governor providing details on his proposal to shield S Corps and small businesses from the effects of his proposal for a modest tax hike on the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans to bring their tax rates in line with the rate paid by the middle class. Hopefully this will shine a spotlight on one of the biggest lies in the history of American Politics, the Republican's claim that a tax hike on the uber wealthy would kill job creation by small business, which accounts for approximately 85% of job growth.

We've heard this claim out of Republicans time and time again whenever their constituencies are faced with the possibility of paying their fair share in income taxes. Despite the fact that this claim has been repeatedly debunked by every nonpartisan fact checking organization, including the highly esteemed, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Journalism. In the last presidential election cycle the actual percentage of jobs created by small businesses that would be effected by a repeal of the Bush tax cuts was estimated to be only 6%.

Now I can just hear the right-wingnuts muttering under their collective bad breath, "nonpartisan, huh". You see, whenever the right is confronted with, sorry, an inconvenient truth, their tactic, much like Mussolini's or Jesse Ventura's, is to attack the messenger. Organizations that follow a strict code of journalistic ethics are not credible so say the right. Only corporate controlled, entertainment dominated, info news organizations like Fox News are to be believed if you are a true Republican.

Recently the Washington Post looked into this issue at the federal level in the context of the Obama Administration rolling back the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy:

"When Republicans speak of “small businesses,” they are referring to the companies that file under the individual tax code. But not all of them are what most Americans would consider small businesses — and not all of them are that small, either. In fact, a report by the Joint Committee on Taxation — the nonpartisan congressional entity that ‘scores” tax legislation — found that the number of tax returns by so-called “flow-through entities” has soared in recent years.

As of 2005, the JCT says, retail trade (such as mom-and-pop shops) accounted for about 11 percent of so-called S corporations, holding 12 percent of total assets, and 5 percent of partnerships, with less than 1 percent of total assets. Another 14 percent of S corporations were in construction but the largest category, at 15 percent, were “professional, scientific and technical services.”

Some of these “pass-through” companies are rather large, with revenues of more than $50 million, but they represent just a small proportion of such companies. According to calculations by Donald Marron, director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, in 2008 such companies accounted for less than one-tenth of one percent of all returns filed — but they had 40 percent of revenues and 30 percent of all profits.

“Large businesses thus account for a large share of the economic activity pass-through entities undertake,” Marron recently told Congress. “Policymakers should therefore take care not to equate pass-throughs with small business.”

The result, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, is that only 3 percent of all “small businesses” paying taxes would be affected by Obama’s plan to lift marginal tax rates on families making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $200,000. (See page 25 of the JCT report.) That group — about 750,000 taxpayers — accounts for 50 percent of the estimated $1 trillion in business income reported in 2011. The other 97 percent of “small businesses” shared the rest — and under Obama’s plan, they would get to keep their Bush-era tax cuts."

So in light of the cold hard fact as gleaned from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation "...that only 3 percent of all “small businesses” paying taxes would be affected by Obama’s plan to lift marginal tax rates..." I look forward to hearing the response from Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and the Republicans to Governor Dayton's calling their bluff.