Posts tagged ‘politics’

January 21, 2013

Poetry: Red Verses Blue

Not to stoke the fire of division that keeps this country’s government in a perpetual stalemate (because my blog is that important), but today I noticed two things: the presidential inauguration may be the only time the reading of a poem will hold the attention of more than 25 people in a public setting (I say this as fan, not foe), and though the inaugural poem is a relatively young tradition, begun by John F. Kennedy when he invited Robert Frost to read, so far it’s only democrats who have felt it was one worth carrying forward.  (Though democrat Lyndon Johnson declined to invite a poet, stating that he hated them.)

Maya Angelou’s reading of her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” for Clinton’s inauguration still gives me goosebumps, as much for its beauty as her authoritative, soulful delivery. “One Today” written and read by Richard Blanco for the inauguration of Obama’s second term had much in common with Angelou’s, though it was perhaps more accessible and less preachy.  Why it is that conservatives are so averse to verse? I can’t think of a more meaningful way to connect people to each other and those they have placed in power. Art is a great translator, no matter the medium. I hope the next republican president chooses poetry for his or her inauguration. It will tell us more about his (or her) character than the speech that follows.

As much as I enjoyed Blanco’s poem today, as well as his reading of it, I think I may prefer the one that a handful of regular ol’ Americans wrote together as an experiment in crowd sourcing by The Takeaway for president Obama:

A People’s Poem for the Inauguration

Say “nation.” In the wake of quarrels, say “hope.”
Be not divisive nor divided.

Say “neighbor.” Say, “What can I do?”
Doors open. Together walk through.
In the hurly-burly of the day’s governing
remember the freedom of peace.

At the dawn of uncertain tomorrows, say “change.”
While darkness floods our spirit, say “light” and shatter
all our scattering shadows.

Dream, “neighbor.” In the face of fear, sing, “mercy.”
Hear unity from voices that speak.

Say that freedom, both the blessing and right,
remain the provenance of open minds.
Acknowledge the dreams that birthed a great nation — say “freedom.”
Speak it into action and watch our dreams reshape the future.

And heart in hand, for the sake of the young,
of the old,
of all those who
wade thru injustice’s tide, say “freedom.”

Say and shout and sing! Progress is a storm and our voices the thunder.

Say “peace” for the hearts of a nation’s people, in times of grief.
Say one, say all. To abandon hope is to further the fall
Say “take my hand” to the downtrodden, the lost.
Sing harmonies that blend in a spectrum of love.

In the dark of failures, say “try”; encourage, persist to light.
Say friend, my hand for your strength, your eyes for my light as we forward together.
Say hope is ours.
Wash away morose pessimism and the failings of the nascent.
Remember our virtue; remember our lofty intent.
In the wake of the struggle, speak, so that together we all may speak courage.

Say “hope,” eyes turned not to the gauzy sky
nor to the brassy gates of power
but to the frost-bitten grass beneath our feet.

I need to hear, again, those antiquated words
in this new light.

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May 10, 2012

Free Pussy Riot!

The true spirit of punk rock is alive and well and living in Russia.  Three members of the Russian feminist collective Pussy Riot (though two of them deny the affiliation) remain in prison, charged with “hooliganism” for their acts of protest, including a performance inside a Russian Orthodox church where they prayed to the mother of Jesus to get rid of Putin.

The women face seven years for their acts of protest which usually include taking over public spaces, dressing like sexed up Teletubbies and cranking their amplifiers.

Anyone know where I can buy a brightly colored ski mask?

September 16, 2011

Jack-booted thugs and Gibson guitars: Ted Nugent has a bone to pick

“The only thing more outrageous than the term “jack booted thugs’ is the insidious vile conduct of jack booted thugs. It is heartbreaking that the American government is infested with such soulless, antiAmerican thuggery. It is the criminal misbehavior of jack booted thugs who raided the Amish farmer for selling raw milk to neighbors who desired to purchase raw milk.


Jack booted thugs arrested an ID rancher for defending his children’s lives in their own yard from a vicious “non-endangered” grizzly bear. Only a jack booted thug would viciously interrogate law abiding young hunters for using the number one selling arrowhead in the world. Jack booted thugs raided restaurant after restaurant in San Francisco, wasting millions more tax dollars looking for tiger penises and finding nothing.


And now the braindead abuse of power runs amok as armed federal agents raid Gibson guitars looking for “illegal” wood. That’s right; an armed raid looking for mishandled wood.Are you kidding me? Maybe a president raised by America hating communists, educated by America hating communists, surrounded by America hating communists, spiritually guided and married by an America hating racist, just maybe this president would abuse such power and empower his corrupt agencies to abuse their power in his evil fundamental transformation, also known as intentional destruction, of the greatest quality of life in the history of the world.

I stand with Gibson guitars with all the faith in the world that the wood they use is in no way endangered, and that they purchased it all legally. I am further convinced that any mindless federal agent who doesn’t challenge these kinds  abuses of power by over zealous bureaucrats need to search their souls and remember their pledge to protect and abide by the Constitution of the United States of America.


I proudly displayed dozens of American made Gibson masterpieces on stage throughout my “I STILL BELIEVE” tour in 2011, challenging anybody anywhere from any law enforcement agency to come and get my guitars. No takers.


Because soulless power abusing bureaucrats avoid Ted Nugent concerts because they are intimidated by the soundtrack and defiant spirit of real American spirit and soul.


Don’t just stand there squawking; contact your elected officials until the feds back off and display some common sense and decency when they claim to want to create American jobs while they shut down one of the most respected American manufacturers the world has ever known.

We got the ID rancher off with good old fashioned “we the people” activism. If you are not willing to participate in that, you are part of the problem instead of the solution.”

January 22, 2010

More Ventura County love for Haiti

Americans are clearly a generous people, which is evident time and time again when a great need develops anywhere in the world. Earlier this week, Larry King viewers donated $8 million for aid to Haitians during a telethon. Ventura County is following suit and creative types are proving once again to be some of the most compassionate folk around.

Yes, it’s impressive that Amgen donated $2 million, but when those who are struggling give what little they have, it makes a statement — and we all know how little most artists and musicians have. In just a few days, Ventura performer Kiley Ki organized a benefit concert that yielded more than $3,000 and she’s still collecting donations to try to bump it to $4 K.

VCReporter along with Zoey’s Café and Salzer’s Records is hosting a concert at the Lodge this Sunday, Jan. 24 that will feature some outstanding music by Shades of Day, Shane Alexander, Delaney Gibson and others who have been moved by the suffering of those devastated by the quake in Haiti. Ventura Film Society will also be on hand with a small slate of visual offerings to shed light on the plight of the Haitian people even before the great quakes.

Take 2 in Ventura is also hosting a benefit on Sunday with proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders in Haiti. Roller Derby girls, and Oxnard Guitar Center staff will be on hand as well as Gary Boyer and other Ventura musicians.

Salzer’s is collecting shoes for the people of Haiti and Brandon Salzer reports that so far the response has been encouraging.

Latino radio La “M”, 103.7 FM in Port Hueneme will be holding a fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 23 from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Proceeds will go the Ventura County chapter of the Red Cross.

Let’s all show up for at least one of these and do what we can. Barring any brief medical emergencies (a common occurance of late), I plan to be at the Lodge with bells on and a few bucks in my hand.

November 6, 2009

Daily paper turning yellow? (Not because it’s been on the doorstep for two weeks)

We’ve all noticed the changes, some of them quite severe, to the Ventura County Star in the past 6 months or so. Sections cut, thinner editions overall and to their credit, a reorganized Web site with a lot of fat trimmed away. But leaner, it seams has also turned meaner, and as an editor for the county’s only weekly–historically a venue with a sharper tongue than its daily counterparts–even I find myself wincing.

In her most recent “Cafe Society” column, Lisa McKinnon’s snarky commentary about Hush Lounge (For the record: we reported on Hush’s closing and possible reopening long before the folks at the Star got wind of it) makes me wonder what her intentions are.

Over the years, I’ve had my own epiphanies about this type of “journalism.” Occasionally it’s called for, but for for the most part I no longer find it necessary to wax bitchy in print.

When I was younger and VCReporter was only beginning to find its identity as something other than a vacant community throwaway, and we were finding our alt-weekly voice, it was tempting to approach EVERYTHING from a cynical perspective. We took no prisoners and everyone was fair game.

But time offers perspective and (hopefully) maturity. So a decade later, I’m no longer interested in negative portrayals, with one exception: When justice is served by fearless reporting. Chit chat about the politics and culture of local small business does not qualify.

I can’t help but wonder if the Star is resorting to unfortunate tactics to gain readership. It’s a tough time and I don’t envy the staff there, I empathize. But, it seems to me, in an increasingly hostile and competitive world, isn’t it better to be nice? Choosing kindness and compassion can only benefit everyone.

Ms. McKinnon: Lighten up sister, it’s not easy for anyone right now. Use the power of your pen for good. Everyone has a story and everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

July 23, 2009

New Art City vs. New Bar City

In the midst of decreased funding for the arts in Ventura (the “New Art City”) and the subsequent slow death of ArtWalk, the local music scene is, as I’ve reported previously, exploding. At the same time, the bar scene–if you can call it a scene–has recently been plagued by violence which has led to what appears to be a crackdown by Ventura police on nightclubs.

This of course casts a shadow on downtown nightlife , nightlife which like it or not, the city is quite dependent on for revenue, especially considering the decrease in TOT revenue this year.

Yesterday, Joe Cardella, publisher of the now-defunct (but not irrelevant) Art Life magazine, left a very kind message on VCReporter’s Facebook fan page, but also mentioned his distaste for what he called the “New Bar City.”

I’m not exactly sure what I’m trying to say here, but I suppose the overarching theme idea is that there should be a way for all sectors of the arts and nightlife to work together for our common purpose.

As one local band’s name says, “Adversity Breeds Creation.” I tend to agree with this although I’d prefer “Creativity.”

June 11, 2009

Conspiracy theories and downtown Ventura’s nightlife

Violence, drinking problems, encounters with the “authorities.”

No, it’s not my teenage son—it’s the fear and loathing in downtown Ventura of late.  I heard tell that it’s all part of a plot by a certain developer to take over the city’s nightlife by sabotaging competing venues.  Actually, it was more like the paranoid fantasy of a bored musician . . .but since when is that not a valid source?

The skinny: fighting outside Hush Lounge, Ventura PD changing the rules on entertainment licenses, foot patrol cops on weekend nights and ABC coming down on at least two venues.

Those in favor of conspiracy theories are convinced that the timing—the live music scene in Ventura is thriving like never before—is suspicious and that someone must have it in for local music.

A more subdued and logical explanation is probably that as the numbers of people partying (drinking alcohol) downtown grows.. the odds of violence and general shenanigans occuring,  increases.

As these occurrences increase, so does response from people in authority. It’s only natural and in a sense it’s a good thing. It also means that in this economy, people are still spending money on entertainment, that people are creating music and interesting venues in which to hear it and that the plan to revitalize what was once a cruddy few blocks of trashy nothingness has actually become an appealing, lively cultural district.

Let’s be grateful and continue to support everyone who contributes to making this possible.


November 18, 2008

The Zeitgeist Movement

Something about this movement resonates with me. What has lingered about my consciousness since viewing it last night is this: There is no independence in nature. Everything is inter dependent. When you really absorb this, it changes everything.

October 25, 2008

Racism is alive and well in Ventura

Last weekend my 14 year-old son volunteered at the Obama booth during ArtWalk. There was a life size cardboard cutout of our man Barack on display. He reported that more than one person dropped by the booth armed with stupidity and the n-word. Sigh.

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