Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Layer 489 . . . Bluesy Roots, Bad As Me, Tom Waits, Dogs' Lives, The Wire, The Hole, Faith in the City, and the St Pauls' Protests

It's A Dog's Life

I'm back on dog duty, picking up doggie dumps on a daily basis. Coincidentally I came across this is the New York Times -
Dogs have a blissful appreciation for the simple pleasures in life. Like four-legged Zen masters, they grasp the importance of living in the moment, and along with being loyal and protective, can teach humans a lot.
Perhaps, that is, if their masters stopped setting such an anthropomorphized agenda and simply let them be dogs. Not that the canines are complaining. In many ways, a dog's life has never been so lavishly pampered, emotionally elevated or sartorially splendid.
In America alone, the pet industry pulled in $55 billion last year, despite a shaky economy that has led to a rise in animal abandonment. For those lucky dogs that still have a home, The Times reported, the perks can include rain slickers and sweaters fit for a fashion runway; gourmet dinners of pheasant and pan-seared duck; organic treats of pumpkin and yak milk; antidepressants, psychic readers and medical insurance.
Canines troubled by flatulence might benefit from the $28 "Fart & Away" aromatherapy candle. And neutered males can hope for a pair of $1,000 Neuticals, prosthetic testicles designed to help "your pet to retain his natural look and self esteem" following "the trauma associated with altering." For another $1,000 or more, a deceased animal can be freeze-dried and mummified.

That's $55 BILLION. Only in America.


Here's a guy who represents the good stuff in the US of A.

Bad As Me

Tom Waits Reclaims His Bluesy Roots

by Jon Pareles 

Adrenaline and restlessness course through “Bad as Me”, Tom Waits’s new album.

At 61 Mr. Waits is acclaimed as an American marvel: a songwriter who can be smart and primal, raucous and meticulous, ethereal and earthy, bleak and comical. He has sung about drunks, tramps, carnies and killers, spinning tall tales and reeling off free-associations that somehow add up; he has also shown a vulnerable side in tender, unironic love songs. 

It’s an album of love songs, cackling contemplations of death and, most often, songs about hitting the road. “I just want to get lost,” he declares over a blurred but robust rockabilly backbeat in “Get Lost.”

There are half a dozen blues stomps, with none other than Keith Richards joining in the guitar scuffles with David Hidalgo, of Los Lobos.

Mr. Waits is cherished by his generation of musicians, as skillful songwriter and uncompromising outsider. “I identify with those guys that draw with Tabasco sauce on cardboard with a nail, outsider guys,” he said. Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles, Rod Stewart and lately Robert Plant (with Alison Krauss on the Grammy-winning album “Raising Sand”) are among the many who have covered Mr. Waits’s songs. Yet his audience, he noted, is “not just old-timers like me listening to old-timers like me.”

When Mr. Waits emerged in the 1970s, he had clearly studied Beat writers, jazz pioneers and Delta bluesmen. Now indie-rockers study him, emulating not only his rasp-and-growl vocals and spiky arrangements, but also his self-guided career path. He has never been beholden to airplay and — far more adamantly than younger bands — shuns deals with advertisers, whom he has successfully sued when they have tried to use Waits sound-alikes.


Checking out the Waits album on Spotify, I remembered he did a vocal on the the album of music (and voices) from "The Wire", on a track called "Way Down In The Hole", which Tom wrote back in in 1987. Each season of The Wire used a different vocalist or band to play and sing the song, which was the title track for the entire series.

Lots of brilliant, edgy stuff on the rest of the album.

Sound bites from the album of The Wire -
"Why would anyone ever want to leave Baltimore? That's what I'm askin'."
"We used to make shit in this country. Build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy's pocket."
"You need to start looking at this world in a new fuckin' light. Start thinkin' about this shit like grown fuckin' men. Not some niggas off the fuckin corner. You heard me."
"Sell the shit. Make the profit. Later for that gangsta bullshit."
If you really want to know about gangs and drug culture, don't waste too much time with Top Boy. More of the same on Channel 4 last night. Not great. Not really very good.


Some more points of view from the Guardian:
As our own Patrick Kingsley discovered spending a night in the camp last week, their message can't be boiled down to a 10-word marching song. "They're not interested," he wrote, "in making petty demands on a system they see as irreconcilably flawed. If anything, the camp itself is their demand, and their solution: the stab at an alternative society that at least aims to operate without hierarchy, and with full, participatory democracy. And to be fair, in its small way, it kind of works."
"There is no such thing as all the answers. The journalists do not have all the answers, no one does." Others quickly rallied to the who-needs-answers? flag. "It's pretty obvious what people want first off," declared hotairhead, "to show how damn angry and frustrated they are with the status quo and how much they want change. It will take a long time, longer even than a winter's camping on St Paul's cobbles, but this is as good a place to start as any."
"Finally, a short word in response to Ian Martin's inspired nostalgic rant in Monday's G2, which concluded, "So yeah, I'm a reactionary socialist. I want national pride in our compassion back. I want public ownership back. This country's been swindled by neo-liberalism – Thatcher and her property boom, the lying shit Blair and his 'whatever works'. I demand a refund."

St Paul's protests: faith in the City
Whether or not the old song is actually sung, 'which side are you on?' is the question that every protest poses
Having pursued ethical economics ever since the crash, an interest refreshed in a Financial Times article today, Rowan Williams is now well placed to get involved with the Occupy London debates. The protesters, meanwhile, now face a Conservative home secretary and the sub-democratic Corporation of London ranged against them. And all parties are a little clearer about which side they are on.

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