Pageantry Is Stupid

Let me tell you something about the Kentucky Derby. I hate the Kentucky Derby. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate horse racing. I actually enjoy the two-minute race. I just hate the entire day of Southern genteel-infused folderol wrapped around the race. The broadcast repeatedly refers to it as “pageantry”.

Is it pageantry to see a bunch of rich people wearing daffy-looking suits and dresses, silly hats and corsages? Is it pageantry to champion the drinking of mint juleps, a completely unpleasant beverage even by most alcoholic’s standards? Is it pagantry (sic) to dress up what is essentially an enterprise built on the exploitation of animals for entertainment and profit?

I don’t hate horse racing but I recognize it for what it is. It’s a seedy sport where a bunch of little guys in jodhpurs ride horses around a muddy track. Hundreds of horses die on the track every year. Many jockeys are injured each year being thrown off their horses. The behind-the-scenes people who succeed in that kind of environment are cutthroat players. The most successful horse trainer of this generation literally looks like Will Ferrell’s Ashley Schaffer from “Eastbound And Down”.

Bob Baffert

“I can feel another Derby victory in my plums.”

Let’s not dress up such a brutal sport with ribbons and flowery hats and call that pageantry. We could be talking about dogfighting in a different world if only few things had gone different. Imagine if the Governor of Kentucky presented a million-dollar check and a big trophy to the winner of a prize dogfight.

You know the first Kentucky Derby was held in 1875? Amazing! Ulysses S. Grant was President, Sitting Bull was still alive and we were in the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, a.k.a. the beginning of the Jim Crow era. In other words, black people had just been freed but not, y’know. . . not the white people kind of free. They still had to work for white people and serve them. And it’s a mighty white scene at Churchill Downs on Derby Day unless you’re working at the track or Von Miller. And let’s not forget the infield, otherwise known as the giant field party adjacent to the track where tens of thousands of people are drunk, stoned, FUBAR, hooking up on Tinder or having a name like Travis or Jimbo. Ask them if calling a racist racist is racist in itself and they’ll probably say yes.

Because a lot of money is to be made and the Kentucky Derby is the biggest horse race in the country, a lot of dressing up has to be done to bring in the casual viewer. Regular horse players know it for what it is but a casual fan needs celebrity, pomp and circumstance, a sense of occasion. . . PAGEANTRY! TV, movie and sport stars on the catwalk and in the stands. The men wearing silly looking suits with prom corsages, the ladies in silly-colored dresses wearing big dumb hats with bouquets on top. All of them with mint julep in hand. And what would have been just another day at the track becomes a television event that does great ratings, bringing in a lot of ad revenue for the TV networks and attracting a lot of casual bettors online as well.

In a way, looking at the so-called pageantry of the Derby is like wearing Cinderella’s glass slippers in that it was never meant for you in the first place. You weren’t supposed to be there. It would take all the magic in the world for you to fit in with everything around you because you don’t have the resources to make it happen on your own. But there is no Prince Charming. Instead there’s Charles Barkley, some SNL cast member, the quarterback from the Chicago Bears and the cast of The Voice and wouldn’t you like to know which horse they picked to win? What kind of party is this anyway?

 

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Political Ditch Theory: The Shoulder & The Road

Here’s a thing I’ve had on my mind for a while and since Joe Biden decided to throw his weird little hat in the ring today, I might as well put my thoughts out there. I have no strong feelings on Biden, the “Is Pepsi okay” of Democratic presidential candidates in 2020 but apparently a lot of people do as he has done well in various polls before his announcement.

Perhaps Biden reminds people of a better time, such as B.T. (Before Trump) and they want to go back there even if that means going back to the time that led immediately to Trump and pressing “reset”. As if we can get a mulligan on 2016.

Since the Democratic field for 2020 has expanded to over 777 candidates (by my estimates) each candidate is coming with their unique vision for America. And with so many candidates, certain lanes of ideology get crowded. Who’s a progressive? Who’s a leftist? Who’s a centrist? So many candidates, so little room? It’s a crowded highway and we’re months away from the first debate.

But I want you to imagine a different road. It’s a simple two-laner with a shoulder between the road and the ditch. Imagine your car in the ditch. America is that car right now. We’re in the ditch, folks. Aint no other way to put it. Ditch time in America.

It’s our choice. Do we want to stay in the ditch or do we want to get back on the road and go forward? I don’t know about you but I’d like to get going already. We’ve been in the ditch way too long. I assume you agree with me or you wouldn’t be reading this.

Oh we could conceivably go forward driving on the shoulder but that’s not what the shoulder is made for. The shoulder is for emergency stops. Besides, there’s all types of debris on the shoulder like pieces of ripped-up tires and rocks and stuff. If you gotta drive on the shoulder, you gotta do it real slow. Not the recommended path forward at all. At this point, getting back up on the shoulder just isn’t enough. We’re in the ditch, I mean. We want to get back on the road so we can get going.

Now we don’t want to get in the oncoming lane. We only do that when we want to pass and only when it’s safe to do so. If we stay in the oncoming lane too long, we risk getting hit by a tractor-trailer or something and then we’re really screwed. No, it’s fine enough to stay in our lane. Steady progress going forward. Does any of this make sense? Did I go too far with the oncoming lane bit?

I didn’t say anything about a median because I don’t have an analogy for that.

An Incredible Payoff

On the morning of April 18th, the Mueller Report finally rolled out. A 448-page document containing numerous redacted parts, the Mueller Report lays out a potential case of obstruction of justice for the man who currently pretends to be President of our strange country.

The potential for impeachment by our Congress seems nil. Our Democrat House is loathe to start proceedings and the Republican Senate is loathe to vote out one of their own, even though his crimes are the type that would make Richard Nixon weep with envy. They seem to want to let the individual investigations play themselves out (good idea) and let the public decide of the fate of the Trump Administration in 2020 (not so good idea).

We are in a real quagmire at this point in American history but there is a way out, and if the Congress is intent on letting the public litigate it in a year-and-a-half, then we might as well make the most out of it.

Consider these five facts:

  1. It is Department of Justice policy to not indict a sitting President.
  2. Trump is up for re-election in 2020.
  3. Theoretically, he could lose re-election and his term would end in January 2021.
  4. No one said an ex-President couldn’t be prosecuted after their term expired.
  5. We’ve never done that before, but there’s always a first time.

Wouldn’t that be some type of cosmic payoff? If Dotard himself lost in November ’20 and then was charged with obstruction of justice three months later when a new President was sworn in (whoever s/he is). The Mueller Report lays out a strong case for obstruction of justice, a much stronger case than the one of collaborating in electoral interference with a foreign power.

Think about it? Wouldn’t you just once want to see a President go to jail? There’s a chance we could make that happen if we only got out in droves and voted the bastard out of office. How many times have you wanted to lock up a politician? Lord knows a bunch of Trump cucks wanted Hillary in the joint. We’ve never seen an ex-President in prison scrubs. THIS COULD BE OUR BEST CHANCE.

It’s not like I want to see politicians go to jail for the fun of it (although sometimes I do) but come on. Look at the things some of them get away with and how they walk away from the collateral damage of their actions with book deals and speaking gigs and think tanks and fellowships at prestigious universities and pictures with Bradley Cooper. It’s not fair. Henry Kissinger should be rotting in a cell. Oliver North should be spotting for real men lifting weights in the yard. Colin Powell should be working in the prison library.

If Donald Trump isn’t facing obstruction of justice charges by the end of 2021, we might as write off this country as completely hopeless. But it doesn’t have to be that way. All we have to do is take a moment out of our boring lives, take a moment out thinking “all politicians are the same” because I assure you I thought the same thing until I got a taste of this soup. All we have to do is get our asses in gear and VOTE. That’s it. Me and you, your mama and your cousin too.

These last few years have been so shitty and we could really turn it around and have an amazing payoff. And what better payoff could there be than putting a former President in the joint?

I mean, Prince and Bowie aren’t coming back.

The Final Scene in “Game Of Thrones”

We are in a cold, damp-looking castle. On a barren dais stands four empty thrones, side-by-side. Running in from the darkness is Jaime Lannister. He does or doesn’t have one arm. No one can remember. He stops before the four thrones and stares in awe before gathering his breath and thoughts to say to himself “I have won the game!”

As he takes his first step towards the dais, a voice calls out. “Not so fast, Lannister! You have not won the game. There is still one more battle to fight.” From the darkness steps Jon Snow, sword in hand. He has a He-Man sword because he lost his original sword. It’s either under the bed or got vacuumed up or something.

“I got here first. I win. I am the King,” says Jaime. “We agreed on this that I would win this time.”

Jon Snow scowls in disapproval and says “NOOOOO! I want to do battle one more time!”

Jaime pouts: “It’s not fair.”

Out of a leaky bourbon barrel crawls little Tyrion Lannister, Jaime’s brother. He has a scar on his face but he can’t feel it because he is so drunk. He is in a good mood because he is very drunk. Being drunk makes him happy because he is too small to be a man.

“Who says you are here first, my big little brother?”, Tyrion hiccups and giggles. “I have been here this entire time drinking out of the barrel. I’ve been waiting for you to show up so I could tell you I won the game.”

Jaime Lannister stamps his feet in protest. “That is so stupid. You couldn’t possibly survive in a barrel that long. We’ve been chasing this throne for years!”

Tyrion stumbles around before putting on a hockey goalie mask and laughing to himself. “But NAY my brother! I am so small! I cannot make love to a woman! I have nothing to live for except these thrones and the game! While you were making love to women and losing your arm and getting your arm back, I was plotting in this barrel. I was drinking and waiting for my chance to be the king! And I have done it. Little did I know there were four thrones. I thought there would only be one. There are enough thrones for all of us. I want to sit now because I’m afraid I will vomit from alcohol poisoning.”

The half-ling staggers toward the dais. Jon Snow whines that he wants the middle throne. Just then, Daenerys flies into the castle on a dragon and yells “BEHOLD! I have dragons!” I am the king, er. . . queen!” Daenerys either has one dragon or three dragons, but she lost two of them. They’re probably in a closet or got vacuumed up with the sword.

Jon Snow offers his hand to Daenerys and they begin to roll around on the floor making big kissy noises. Tyrion falls asleep in one of the thrones and goes into a stupor. The dragon just stands there.

Spiderman shows up. Jaime Lannister protests.

“Why is he even here? He’s not part of this world. You’re ruining it.”

One of the girls from Frozen show up and she is noticeably taller than the others. Jaime pretends she is Brienne of Tarth but she doesn’t know who that is. Clearly she should win the game because she is taller and bigger than everyone else.

“This isn’t working. I don’t like this.”

Another Spiderman shows up and squeezes the Frozen girl’s boobs. They start rolling around the floor making kissy noises and end up over where Jon Snow and Daenerys are and it becomes it a big sloppy kiss fest where everyone is rolling around. Tony Soprano shows up with a gun and says “hey fuggedaboutit” and starts shooting everyone.

“MOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!

He’s ruining the game again. He does this every time we play. I don’t want to play with him anymore. He’s ruining the canon. His cross-platform doesn’t work at all.”

John Cena shows up and starts punching Tony Soprano. Ramsay Bolton comes in and cuts everyone’s peters off, except John Cena’s because Ramsay Bolton can’t see him.

“I’m done playing. STOP IT.”

We see two children playing on the living room floor of an average suburban house. All the action figures are scattered on the floor. We see other toys that haven’t been introduced yet, like Harry Potter and some GI Joe’s. One boy is maybe eleven and the other is eight. The youngest boy is wearing his hockey goalie mask and the eleven-year-old is upset. Their mother pokes her head out from the kitchen to admonish her boys.

“Look if you two don’t quit I’m going to send you outside. It’s just a game.”

“Mom, you don’t understand. This is not just a game.”

The eleven-year-old boy looks at the camera and says “This is a game. . . of thrones!”

-end scene-

-credits song:

Sometimes It Snows In April… Revisited

It’s coming up soon, three years from the day Prince Rogers Nelson took that elevator and left this mortal coil. And if that aint a damn shame then I don’t know what is.

Watch that video and tell me if you don’t believe that the man sitting there playing guitar is going to live to be ninety and end up like one of those Shaolin monks or kung-fu teachers who only teaches the very best of the very best like Pai Mei from Kill Bill.

He was fifty-seven when he died. Too young. Tom Petty was sixty-six, Miles Davis was sixty-five, Frank Zappa fifty-two and Michael Jackson a mere fifty. Musicians age like test pilots and underwater welders.

I often feel like musicians don’t get back nearly as much as they give out. George Harrison once said about Beatle fans “They gave their money and they gave their screams, but the Beatles gave our nervous systems. They used as an excuse to go mad, the world did, and then they blamed it on us.” People went mad. A madman killed John Lennon at the age of forty, and another madman stabbed Harrison nearly to death two years before his untimely death to cancer at age fifty-eight.

All these names I mentioned: Petty, MJ, Prince, the Beatles, Miles, Zappa. . . these are among the successful ones. Think about the ones who didn’t have a lengthy career of acclaim and success. Or the ones who dipped in and died fast. It’s been twenty-five years now since Kurt Cobain committed suicide, age 27. Seemingly with the world in front of him, dying like the world was on top of him. The peers of his era like Chris Cornell (suicide, age 52), Scott Weiland (drug overdose, age 48), Layne Staley (drug overdose, age 34), and Shannon Hoon (drug overdose, age 28). And I’m probably forgetting countless others.

We have never solved the pointlessness of drugs somehow equaling a good time and demons somehow equaling creativity and all of those things factoring in together. Even if it were to be true that drugs make you creative (they won’t) or that you have to be in some sort of emotional torment to create good art (you don’t) and that these things are the price of business (they aren’t), it’s not good for you and it’s not worth giving a pound of your flesh over to people who can’t understand the significance of it. Nor is it healthy to numb yourself to the pain of life or the pain of rejection because people don’t understand you even if they really do like you.

They can pay the cover and tell you what a good job you did but you gave your nervous system to them and it’s hard to get that back. The Butthole Surfers are all still alive and each one of them has a thousand-yard stare like they’ve done time in the ‘Nam.

Scott Walker died age 76 and you couldn’t help but be happy for the guy that he held on so long.

 

He named a song “Pretty Young Thing”

It’s complicated, isn’t it? The motherfucker. Michael Jackson. Maybe the greatest performer of the 20th century. The King of Pop. MJ. Totally a child molester.

We’re not in denial of this, are we? That MJ is both one of the greatest entertainers to ever grace a stage and a horrible creep who ruined lives of who knows how many children? This motherfucker sang “She’s Out Of My Life”. It’s incredible. How the guy’s voice breaks right at the end? Have you heard Off The Wall? Never mind Thriller. If he had died in 1980, right after Off The Wall with that catalog of work he had with the Jacksons, he still would be a legend. Fucking “Show You The Way To Go”. Legendary.

Can you even listen to any of that stuff now?

The first time MJ was accused of child molestation in the ’90s was the beginning of the end. Nobody wanted to believe it. He was the man. We all knew he was a weird dude but kid diddling? Nah, not MJ.

But he did it. And we all knew he did it when he announced he’d come to a financial settlement with the child and his family. Something like $15 or $18 million. And a financial settlement meant the kid couldn’t testify. That’s when we knew. Because that settlement could have been spent on a legal team fighting those charges. But he bought his way out. And then MJ got weirder and weirder. A sham marriage to Lisa Marie Presley. The HIStory album release with the giant MJ statues all over the world, the Russian military march and the little boy(?) that screams “Michael I love you!” The song where Michael starts off singing “Have you seen my childhood?” And his face looked like it was melting and his nose looked like it was falling off.

That video for “You Are Not Alone” (written by R. Kelly, of course) where he was half-naked with Lisa Marie even though he had vitiligo and clearly seemed to be allergic to sunlight and his own bride. We haven’t even gotten to the part where he dangled his kid over the hotel balcony yet. God tortured both him and us by not taking MJ’s life long before 2009.

This is what happens when you make an icon god out of a flawed human being. Newsflash: we’re all flawed. Fame is a life-changer and a mind-fucker and being deified by your own business turns you into an out-of-touch weirdo who thinks people want you to build giant statues to yourself while dressing like an authoritarian biker lord to promote an album. And having kids who aren’t your own sharing your bed is fine if you drink a little wine first and keep the money rolling in.

But it is complicated. Cancel culture doesn’t change the times I had with that music. I saw Motown 25 live as a kid when MJ debuted the moonwalk. I’ll never forget that. I’ve had so much fun listen to those songs. That was my childhood, your childhood, our childhood. And we can’t undo that. But we can’t forgive the guy either. It’s not like “P.Y.T” undoes all the damage he did to all those children.

If you’re still listening to MJ, that’s one thing but if you think he didn’t molest those boys you are wearing tinfoil on your dick.

I’m 41 b/w The Next Deadbeat Summer

Yesterday I turned forty-one. I celebrated by having an impacted tooth removed. My therapist told me I am a glutton for punishment. It appears she may have a point.

Why would someone schedule a tooth extraction for their birthday? Well, to be honest when you turn forty-one it’s not as special as when you turn forty so there’s less incentive to throw a big party. Not to mention my birthday fell on a Tuesday. And that was the earliest the dentist could get me in.

My tooth had been broken for two months. It was an impacted troublemaker and it was such a bothersome bastard. An extraction would be temporarily inconvenient but it would be better than living with a hole that needed to be cleaned out every meal. It is gross just writing about.

So I’m sitting here with a mouthful of gauze that I have to switch out every half-hour. The gauze makes me want to gag. The dentist’s assistant congratulated me yesterday for being “a light bleeder” so hopefully I can stop using the gauze later today. Obviously pool exercises are right out of the question, what with the blood and stitches. That’s literally in the list of no’s on the wall sign next to infections, gum and diving. Verboten. That doesn’t stop me from chewing gum in the pool because I’m a rebel.

So I’m taking the week off from exercise. I’m eating chocolate pudding and chocolate ice cream and Jello and I’m stuffing gauze in my cheeks and I’m taking pain pills and antibiotics three times a day and I’m fairly indifferent about it even though I like chocolate.

In other news, I just wrote a new song that’s either great, terrible or amazing. I hate it when bands use samples to build an entire song around. The best example is “Digital Love” by Daft Punk. They use literally the first ten seconds of a George Duke song and repeat it over and over again and that’s “Digital Love”.

Recognize that riff? Of course you do! You have ears and have been alive for the last fifteen years. That’s the entirety of the beat for “Digital Love”.

On the way back home from the dentist and with a head full of numbing agents, I came up with the best/worst/best again song, using the “Digital Love” principle. Why come up with my own instrumental parts for songs when I can just use the last fifty years of recorded sound instead? Why bother trying to create your own music organically when the best riffs are on a Todd Rundgren LP from 1974?

This song is going to blatantly steal the first eight seconds from Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire“. You know that song from Goodfellas where Henry is driving around paranoid about helicopters. But here’s the neat part, the song is going to jump into an interpolation of the chorus from N.E.R.D.’s “Baby Doll“. It turns out both songs are similar tempo and have the same key and chord structure so it’s a good fit. And the N.E.R.D. song has to be interpolated because I can’t find an instrumental version of it. Am I going to flip it in any way? You bet I won’t!

The lyrics are probably going to be about doing drugs and being sexy with your girlfriend over a misspent summer.

Here are some of the lyrics I wrote down. Hold on to your hat:

We got so… I was so… you were so… And I was… and you were… and we were… and it was… and it got… and it had… ’cause I am… and you are… and we are… and it is… it’s so much… it still is…

I’m telling you this is going to be on the list of Pitchfork’s 100 Best Songs of the Year or my name isn’t Toro y Moi.

 

Bustin’ Back Into L7

I am a damned fool.

They gave me an out but what do I do? I drag myself back in. I practically grabbed myself by the collar and threw myself into the solitary confinement cell that is twitter.

It all started on March 2, the day twitter locked my account on account of a April 2018 tweet.

fucktwitter

I filed for an appeal but they waited me out, so I gave up and deleted the ‘questionable’ tweet and got my account back. I am a damned fool, I say.

The world is a terrible place and twitter is pure undiluted world concentrate. There’s no way around it.

How dare I tell Donald Trump that I hoped he die on the toilet? What kind of person am I besides a person with some semblance of integrity and moral character? And not only that but it’s an old tweet. April 2018. Almost a year. Somebody did a deep dive looking for that one.

I keep making enemies on this damned site and it keeps biting me in the ass when they report tweets. You think Trump actually saw my tweet? Of course he didn’t. He gets that kind of bile every day, all day and worse.

On the bright side, I met an old friend last weekend.

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It Was Just A Movie

Seeing as the Oscars were last night, this may be the last chance I’ll get to address the film Bohemian Rhapsody in a timely manner. The Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody, perhaps you’ve heard of it. Queen opened the show, the first rock band to ever do so in Grammy history.

The Freddie Mercury biopic won four of its’ five nominated categories, most notably Rami Malek for Best Actor. Hilariously, the movie also won for Best Editing even though you can do a twitter search for “bohemian rhapsody cuts” and see the scene that has over 50 cuts in ninety seconds even though the scene is just the band sitting at a table meeting their new manager.

I’m not going to defend it. It was a movie.

Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I’m amazed how well the film nailed the Live Aid sequence and yet completely fumbled everything in the previous two hours from a factual point of view. They even got the Pepsi cups on Freddie’s piano correct.

I thought Bohemian Rhapsody might actually win Best Picture but the big winner was Green Book. Thank merciful god. Because if there’s going to be such a thing as “worst Best Picture ever”, it shouldn’t be the Queen movie. Did Green Book have a Live Aid sequence? Obviously not.

It was funny to me how the crowd deflated when Green Book was announced as the winner. It was also funny how each winner for Bohemian took great pains to avoid mentioning Bryan Singer, the first guy to attempt to direct that movie. Probably some good reasons for that. A lot of people were willing to make a deal with the devil on that one, including Malek, Brian May and Roger Taylor. A lot of people were also willing to look past Singer’s accusations to go see the movie. I know because I was among them. I wanted that movie more than I cared about Bryan Singer. What did I get for it? A weird, patchy movie saved by Rami Malek’s performance.

Rami Malek is dating his co-star Lucy Boynton. Does she make him strap on the teeth before they kiss? I would. I imagine he and Bradley Cooper are of that acting school that says you have to get all up in your co-star’s hoo-hah or else it won’t feel true. That Lady Gaga duet last night was uncomfortable. It’s almost as if he got so into playing that haggard washed-up rock star character he forgot he was in real life married to a Russian supermodel.

By the way, if you’re feeling up to it you can also look up “brian singer” on twitter. If you’re going to be mad at someone, at least spell their name right.

This is a great time to pitch my animated series where the four members of Queen go on inane adventures and have pointless arguments with each other and a revolving cast of eccentric guest characters. I call it “Aqua Queen Hunger Force”.

For Every Lonely Soul Adrift In The Storm

I give you this song. I wrote about it a few weeks ago but now I feel like sharing it again. Because this is Valentine’s Day and at heart this is a love song.

I might as well talk about it with some more detail. The song started off being about someone I loved. But then there’s the Jesus stuff in there. And the fact that Mary is Jesus’ mother. So it gets confusing. So it’s not a traditional love song. Turns out it’s about more than one thing and I’m okay with that. Maybe it’s only half a love song and the rest is about God and the need for love overall and different types of love.

I think the song is in mourning. What could have been. A friendship lost. A love that couldn’t be. We’ve all had those feelings and felt that pain. This is my version of that and maybe it is too personal to be universal but I still felt like I had to put it out there for the world to hear.

When I heard the final mix of the song, I thought to myself that this was it. This is as vulnerable as I’ll ever get on record. I’m not hiding. No persona. No band behind me. It’s my vision and it’s as pure and vulnerable as I have ever been in my music. And I realize I’m talking about it like it’s some sort of classic song and it’s just some tune on Bandcamp that came out two weeks ago but IT’S MINE DAMMIT and I’m not going to wait for the historians to come calling because they likely never will. I get to tell my own story, in song and in life.

I wrote “JWM” long before I actually recorded, over two years actually. When I wrote it, I was not in a great emotional or mental place. But something was good in this song and I knew it would eventually be recorded one way or another. “JWM” was recorded in December 2018 by which point I was in a far better state. It took a long time to get to that place, a lot of work to attain a level of emotional growth and acceptance. Progress is slow.

I’m happy that “JWM” is my most-listened to song on Bandcamp, more than twice as much as the next song. I think people responded to it and I’m thankful for that. I appreciate everyone who shared it and retweeted it. I’m immensely proud of it.