Kids – give up now!

I think I might have found the headwaters of the fabled ‘school to prison pipeline‘. 

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*** update – like a week later – bottom

Public schools have been criticized for just creating mindless little automatons to feed the soulless corporate beast that is adulting.  Greatness is not encouraged, and certainly not developed.  You are taught to be quiet, sit down, and question nothing.  Oh, you do get to stand… to pledge allegiance to god and the flag.  Not sure if they still do that, but you know that we all started every single day like that.  Once I became xenophobic woke, I stopped participating.  It troubled me then, as it does now, that kids are taught to memorize and recite this even before they know what the words mean.  That is high level indoctrination.  This is more insidious than ‘school to prison’.  This is ‘school to mediocrity’ pipeline.   “There is something happening and you don’t know what it is… do you… Mr. Jones?”   That is a direct quote from a Dylan song, and I can only assume he is talking about his need to not end up a janitor in Hibbing, Minnesota.  No sir, a young Robert Zimmerman set out to New York City to be a janitor in the big leagues!  Do you know how Kris Kristofferson got his break in music?  He was the janitor for Sun Studios.  It was a bold ass move!  How to get in and spend your days with Elvis and Johnny Cash?

Basically, you can thank Melissa & Doug for ‘Me & Bobby McGee”.  Don’t worry, there is no threat of that happening with your little snowflakes.  Unless you are ready to go tiger mom on their asses… you are raising a houseful of servile tax burdens.  Are you one of those parents who says things like “We will always love you, no matter what!”?  Cut that shit out.  When little Francis brings you that hand turkey… don’t pin that up.  Look in his eyes and say “Is this the best you can do?  Go back and try again!”  Know who really needed a tiger mom?  Melissa & Doug!  Look at the fine print on the packing… real close.  It pretty much says “listen, we all know this is your children’s fate, why not get us rich in the process?”  If that isn’t in the text, it is most definitely in the sub-text.

I think America is great!  It’s my home team.  Know what’s great about America?  The freedom to not have to start your day with a Heil Hitler salute.  As for the god stuff, isn’t the myth that America was founded on freedom of religion?  Obviously, that wasn’t remotely the case.

Did your parents ever tell you that you could do anything?  Obviously, not if you are a girl… but I mean the rest of you.  You could be president!  You could be a great artist!  You could be the next _____.  I’ll tell ya; you could be the next janitor!  Odds are, you will.  Next step, let’s teach ’em to read with this.

Stock image of 'The serious little boy in ear-phones with a microphone in call center answers a call on a white background'
We were so proud of him.  I still remember his first words in the crib “Ma’am, I understand you are upset, but that is the package you chose.  Shall we select another that better fits your family needs?”

I am not here just to say ‘Give up Now!”   No sir, I am here to TELL you to give up now, and help walk you through the process.

But… how to prepare that little shining star for a live of servitude and broken dreams?  Only the “#1 Parent Recommended site for Creativity and Learning”

Learning what, you ask?  How to clean up after the White Devil like the servile monkey you will surely soon be.  I ain’t saying I am better than your kids (though… Maddox certainly is).  I have been a cubicle monkey in corporate America telecom for 22 years now, and I quite enjoy it.  Maybe the call center job is the janitor equivalent for the next generation.  “Pay attention in school, Timmy, or you’ll end up in a call center going nowhere in life like your pathetic failure of a man who calls himself your father.”

Melissa and Doug think your kid sucks.  Listen up kids, don’t just aspire to clean… smile while you do it!  You are also thankful.

In fact, Melissa doesn’t think your kids are doing near enough adulting.

If Melissa and Doug really wanted to empower your kids… where is the little oval office set?  How about a set of Lincoln logs where they could assemble the resolute desk?  Man, I love this thing.  I think it may be the most important piece of furniture in America.  Seriously.  As important pieces of wood go, I put it up there with Trigger.  Here is some legislation for that desk – all your cracker kids are gonna spend 4 years cleaning up after minorities and protected classes.  Americorps, but with some good ole fashioned humbling thrown in.

*** update – I wrote this less than a week ago.  I just found this headline feting them as the heroes of the proletariat they apparently are.  Get to sweepin’, kiddos!

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Friday Fives – cover your ass edition

joe20cocker

I know this is a sacred topic to most music snobs.  I know this, because I am one, too. Let’s face it, plenty of times, the cover is better than the original  Like ANY time that ANY band did ANY song that was a Lou Reed song.  I thought about this piece as an idea on the way home.  Without doing any research, I wrote down several that came to mind.

Then, and only then, did I consult the interwebs.  What I found online were obvious, and so a little disappointing.  What I think the internet lists generally chose were versions that were more successful.  Me & Bobby McGee is the perfect example of this.  Janis KILLS that song!  It truly became her signature song.  It is super tragic that it didn’t come out until a week after she died.  Still, it will always be her song.  Is it better?  It’s not better than this bootleg version I have that I can’t find online. It’s just Kristofferson and an acoustic.  It is more spoken work, and SO sparse… it really tells a more powerful tale.

I did find this excellent demo from Janis, though.  No production or overdubs… just her catching where to lay the syllables against the chord changes.  It’s pretty sweet.

Another song that tops the list is Hendrix’ over of ‘All Along the Watchtower’  Also, it is great.  Interestingly, it ws Hendrix ONLY hit.  Did you know that?  He didn’t break through with Foxy Lady, or Purple Haze.  Sure, the freaks found him that way… but the way America discovered him was covering Dylan.

Africa  – Toto/Mike Masse

Local Colorado guy, plays bars and does covers (just like my stupid band).  Except, this guy is incredible.  Watch this video below.  Dude has 8 million hits!  We are actually going to see him finally play live at Lodo’s in Highlands Ranch

Btw, since we are talking about this song… this is pretty great.  It’s Dax Shepard and his wicked hot and talented wife making their own video for the song.  It’s dumb.  Really, really dumb.  But… they get it.  It’s a great watch.  Between these two clips (both over 8 million), Toto is cool again.

Black Magic Woman – Fleetwood Mac/Santana

I know you don’t know this is a cover.  It wasn’t a Santana song, but Fleetwood Mac.  Now, we are not talking about the Fleetwood Mac you know, run by Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.  No, this was WAY before then when they were a British Blues band.  Here are both –

Fleetwood Mac (the Peter Green version) 1970

There is nothing wrong with that version.  In fact, it probably could have been the famous version except for Peter.  See, Peter Green was a genius, and also nuts.  Nuts.  Not nuts in a romantic way… I mean nuts in a way that he literally disappeared for 30 years.  The only thing to compare it to is Syd Barrett and the whole Pink Floyd mess.

Here is the Santana version (1971).  Oh, recognize any of these guys?  You should.  They all quit Santana’s band to form Journey.  To me, it is superior because I feel it really found its legs in the Latin inspired groove that left like it should have been there all along.  I mean, we are singing about voodoo, right?

It is interesting to note this cover is only a year later.  Can you think of a modern parallel to that?  I can’t.

 Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen/Bruce Springsteen

God, I love this song.  I am honestly not much of a Bruce fan.  I don’t think I have a single CD of his.  Yet, I regard this song as probably the best rock song ever written.  Here is that song, in all of it’s 1977 glory.

 Now, how can I put this on the cover list?  First off, it’s not a cover.  Second, the song is absolutely fucking perfect.  On every level.  Well, this guy Bruce Springsteen does a pretty good cover.  Really, I count this version below as a cover because it is so stunningly different and beautiful.  Also, I think it took balls of steel for Bruce to take his biggest hit and tear it apart.  This newer version is an elegy of sorts.  The original version is about being young and perfect and getting ready to breakout and have all the opportunities in the world.

This version below, though, is a resignation.  Note, fast forward to the 4 minute mark.  Bruce just goes full Bruce on this version.  Not that ‘America is #1 ‘Bruce… but this telling is from the guy who wrote the line ‘end up like a dog that’s been kicked too much’.

Am I Evil – Diamond Head/ Metallica

To me, there just is no discussion.  There is Metallica’s version.  That is it.  So, here is the original, and I think it mostly sucks… because of the singer.

While the guitar riff rocks perfectly cromulently… this singer guy is full glam.  There nothing evil here at all.  Below is Metallica’s take.  This song couldn’t possibly be more Metallica than it is.

 Let me put this in the parlance that my 16 year old self would understand it.  He would say the original was simply ‘gay’.  Now this one, below… this is just the sound of pure fucking evil.  When my parents found my Ozzy records and growing my hair out… they worried.  They thought this (song above) was what I was listening to.  Kinda funny how incredibly tame Ozzy compared to this.  The only subversion in Ozzy’s records is serious and thoughtful Christianity.  Below the full proper evil version from Metallica.

Rusty Cage – Johnny Cash/Soundgarden

There is nothing wrong with the original.  It’s great.  However, Rick Rubin and Johnny Cage change the meaning  of every single word with their new telling… yet they don’t touch a word.  Here is the original.  Sadly, it does not feature Chris Cornell singing.  Very very few Soundgarden songs show him singing.  Instead, in Soundgarden, he only screamed.  anyways here, here is the original.

WAIT… before you even hear the song… look at this frame.  Even in the still, he is screaming.

See, told you.  Why even have lyrics.  It is just him screaming for 15 years in Soundgarden.  YET… he can sing his dick off.  He may have the best deep voice in all of rock, and literally no one knew.  Listen to this secret acoustic outtake of ‘Like Suicide’  When I heard this, I was frustrated.  It was like the first time I heard him to Seasons.  I thought ‘wait, he can sing?  He could sing he whole time?  Why the hell did he never even try until he was ‘retired’.

Sorry, back to my point.  Rick Rubin (who, to me, deserves as much credit as Johnny Cash here) and just let’s Johnny go all Johnny Cash on it.  This was towards the end of Johnny’s life.  I believe June had already passed… and you can hear Johnny dying a little in every verse.  Luckily for us, Cash knew his time was very limited.  So, he and Rubin spent his last years together just recording at a gonzo pace.  Here this.  Feel this.

And if that doesn’t give you feelings… watch this video below.  I assume this was made post Johnnys’ passing.  It is fucking beautiful and perfect on every level.

This may be the beautiful and creepy and perfect video ever made.  Though this has nothing to do with covers, it is a good place to leave you for the day

Friday Fives – media inquiry edition

1.  What Jeopardy category would you totally dominate?

rock and roll.  If only there was a rock and roll jeopardy, I would run the world, seriously.  The  sad part is, they did have one, years ago.  Jeff Probst was the host, long before Survivor.  Problem with that was, it was only for celebs.  There are clips online, its fun to watch.  To soothe myself, I play the rock category on Quizup on my phone.  It is super addictive, and they have every category you can imagine.  I kill at Simpsons, and I am top in all of Colorado for rock trivia.  I am in the 30’s for nationwide, but crawling up every day.  Come find me and play some games online.  My screen name is ‘Baron von Lono’, and my avatar is a pic of Dali (but of course)

If you can beat me in rock trivia, I will buy you lunch.  What’s my secret?  Well, I learned from the ancients and elders, like the band Mister Mister.  Carry a ladle, my brother.  Carry a ladle indeed.

2.  What cover song do you enjoy more than the original?

Good and thoughtful question, I am impressed.  I would have to say Jimi Hendrix version of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ is easily one.  Strangely, that was Jimi’s biggest charting hit ever.  Bob Dylan (who wrote the song) like Jimi’s arrangement so much he changed the way he played it going forward to match Jimi’s version.

I am hoping and assuming you have heard Johnny Cash’s later work with Rick Rubin.  He did some AMAZING covers, and truly made them his own: Hurt, rusty cage, one.  Lesse… what else.  Janis’ version of Bobby McGee.  That is a Kris Kristofferson song.  Some other sad trivia about that is Janis never saw its success.  She died before the album came out that it was on.

Zac Brown band does a really great ‘Jolene’, which is Ray Lamontagne.  Quite a the departure for a country boy, and song that turned me on to ZBB.

Here is a fun one.  Walk off the Earth does a bitchin cover (and bitchin video) of Lorde’s ‘Royals‘.  All of their videos are super cool and innovative.

I will close with this awesome and unlikely pairing.  Willie Nelson covering Pearl Jam.

I could also tell you about the Grateful Dead covering Metallica.  However, you are just not ready for that yet.  But its real and it exists.

3.  What song, movie, game, etc. has a surprisingly dark message when you really look closer at it?

ooh, another thoughtful question.  I am quite tickled with today’s line of interrogation.  This is truly my expertise.  There are a bunch.  Born in the USA has such a booming and hopeful chorus.  The song is incredibly dark.  Reads mostly like a suicide note if you just look at the lyrics.  Here, go do.

Of course there is the Police with Every Breath you Take, but you already knew that one.

How about Today from Smashing Pumpkins?  Billy says he wrote that as a suicide note after fighting with writers block for some time, and a huge deadline approaching for him to deliver his big commercial breakthrough album (which became the masterpiece ‘Siamese Dream’).

There are, of course, tons.  All great music is written from sadness and heartbreak.

4.  What is the best, most creative music video you have seen?

That would have to go to the Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage’ video.  I can’t think of a better one.

5.    What’s your theme song?

this one, I think

Dreamer: Inspired by a true story

Have you seen this? You need to. Why? Because I had to. It is more than dumb. It is worse than trite? Let’s look into why:

First off, why hasn’t Kurt Russell aged in 30 years? This is a concern. He has looked 40 for way too long. See, Kurt is a horse trainer in this movie? Are you buying it? Me neither, not after two hours was it even a little believable.

Ok, so I can look around that. Remember Sam Elliot? Of course you do. He looks like this. he is the guy who says in every single movie (by law, I think) “I am too old for this shit”. That is what he does… and so this was his roll for the taking. Somehow he wasn’t available… so they got Kris Kristofferson. Now, I love Kristofferson. Dude wrote ‘Me and Bobby McGee’! However, this was a Sam Elliot role and I would bet the script said that. By the way, can you believe the guy who wrote Janis’ biggest hit does vampire movies for a living now? Weird.

How about the story? The story was good, right? Sure, if you like Seabiscuit . The storyline was Seabiscuit. Follow along > Horse was once great, got hurt. Jockey was once great, got hurt. Everyone wrote them off. They had heart though, and the horse got better and the rider got better and they rode together to victory after society had washed their hands of them to teach us something about ourselves and our own inner strength. In the process, we all learned something about heart. Yeah, that was Seabiscuit. It was also Dreamer. The byline for Dreamer says “Based on a true story”. It should have read “Based on the true story of Seabiscuit”.

It wasn’t worse than a Vin Diesel movie though, as I really enjoyed the cinematography. Anyhow, if you want to see Dreamer… just go rent Seabiscuit. It’s better. Besides, little Dakota Fanning has so much insano acting ability… this isn’t how you should meet nor remember her. This kid will be an Oscar winner before she can drive. Remember I said that, because she is awesome.