There is nothing worse than dealing with a death in the family. And we, as Americans, feel for all the families who have lost loved ones in our "war on terrorism," Afghanistan, or the invasion of Iraq, depending on how you look at the issue. It is even more heartbreaking because while we understand that the action in Afghanistan may have some legitimacy, the invasion of Iraq did not. It was completely unnecessary.
Which makes it all the more painful to watch ordinary American Cindy Sheehan camped out outside the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, holding her own personal vigil and gaining support from millions of Americans. Sheehan lost her son Casey in the Iraqi invasion and is now ripping mad [and sad] about the death of her son. She met with Bush about 15 months ago. At the time, Sheehan reportedly said while she wasn't supportive of the invasion, she understood why her son went. Now, with the Downing Street Memo revelations and bodies starting to pile up, she wants another meeting. Bush has not surprisingly refused; he is probably thinking since he already met with her once, he doesn't owe her another meeting. Conservative talk show hosts have been asking proponents of the invasion to go down to Crawford themselves and some have been insolent and obnoxious in their behavior towards Sheehan and her friends.
So, she has been speaking, holding rallies, running TV ads [Raw Story], and is just plain not giving up. It is impressive to see and, frankly, surprising to see, considering how bad the media is these days. But since it is a slow news month, and reporters are trapped at the president's "working vacation," it isn't that surprising. Nothing goes on during those four to five weeks of August when the president hangs out at his ranch ... and you can include in that the lack of action in August 2001 when Bush was warned via memo that Usama Bin Ladin was planning terrorist attacks on the United States using airliners.
But I digress. Cindy Sheehan is an American Heroine. It takes a lot of guts and integrity to camp out outside the president's home these days to protest the invasion and occupation of Iraq and wonder why your son died for such a "noble cause." With all these new laws that have been passed, I'm a bit shocked they haven't "disappeared" her yet. As well, I'm surprised more anti-war protesters didn't think of this before. I have a bad feeling that this is going to build and build and build and build and build ...
A guilty pleasure
Okay, I admit it: I'm totally wrapped up in this "Rock Star: INXS" show.
Yeah, I know, I wrote some bad things about the show in the past. But, since its airing, I have been watching it almost every night.
First, some history. Australian rock band INXS lose their singer to a kinky sexual suicide. Rumors are that Terrence Trent D'Arby, a friend of the lost singer, Michael Hutchence, will replace him. D'Arby does - for one show only - and remains in oblivion.
A few years later, INXS tour with an unknown singer and play small clubs around the country [The "Just for Kicks" tour]. The tour apparently went okay, although they decide to ditch the singer [who was that guy?] and lay low for awhile.
Then, they decide to go the way of the reality show which could've been potentially embarrassing ... and humiliating.
However, it hasn't been.
The theme is this: A slew of singers show up at auditions across the country [the Boston one was held at Cambridge's Middle East Downstairs] and then the final 15 hang out in a mansion, practice covers and INXS songs with a killer house band, and then are judged by the public on their performances.
On Monday you see behind the scenes from the mansion. On Tuesday, the singers play their chosen covers for the night. The public votes on the performances. And then, on the last night of the week, Wednesday, the bottom three vote getters get a chance to perform an INXS song, often with band members, and then the band decides to eliminate - or keep - those singers they think can fit in.
The song selection can vary from classic rock, to post punk, to obscure current single or 1970s soul. And the INXS songs are often their hits ... although last week the band threw Brandon the obscure "Don't Lose Your Head," from the amazing "Elegantly Wasted" album [one I love playing loud in my car during commutes] and he completely effed up the lyrics. It seemed as though the band was expecting that which is why they gave him a hard one. I didn't like his vibe very much anyway. It would be a better fit for the Black Crows.
Despite the emphasis on "rock star," it has been a pretty interesting show. Most of the singers came to this from different perspectives. Some were from off-Broadway, others from struggling rock bands. One guy was living in his car.
Many of the singers were pretty easy to peg: There is the black guy with the Mohawk who sings like he is in Living Colour; there are the women who sing just like Janis Joplin or Grace Slick. There is the Stonesy southern rocker and the post-punk Nirvana dude. There are a lot of folks wailing notes with their voice when they should be trying to sing for the song. One of the great things about Hutchence was the fact that while he had charisma, he also sang for the song. Since he co-wrote most of them, that wasn't hard to do. But, this band doesn't need a Celine Dion rocker.
There have been some pretty interesting performances. Last week, for example, Suzie, this blonde from Toronto who ends up in the bottom three almost every week, played an amazing version of "Losing My Religion." Shockingly, the public voted her again in the bottom three. The band has consistently told her to stay put, which shows that they like something about her to keep her in the competition. Marty did a great acoustic version of The Killer's "Mr. Brightside."
But at the same time, it is clear that some of these singers are actually going to make it to the final. So many of them just didn't fit in with what we would perceive to be a new INXS. I can tell you as a fan of the band that there aren't many who I think will fit in. Personally, I like Suzie, although I don't think she will be in the final. I like another woman too who has these very long dreadlocks, Jordis, but she seems a bit too soul for the band. I also like Marty, this kinda Kurt Cobain wannabe. But, I think the guy who will end up being picked is the guy who was living in his car: J.D. Fortune. In the end, he seems to be the best fit. We'll see what happens.
Yeah, it is a bit silly, but this show is fun. And, I finally found a "reality" show that I can enjoy.
The band members even have a blog here: ["Rock Star: INXS blog"]. Bassist Garry Beers entered this into a recent post:
Last Friday night, I headed down to the House Of Blues where Dave Navarro's band, Camp Freddy, were playing. The band is incredible and included guys from The Cult, Steve Jones from the Pistols, Slash and members of Cypress Hill. Jordis even jumped up and sang a Clash song which she rocked!Very interesting. It is good to see that Steve Jones is still playing. That's right!
New Hampshire, 2008
While there has been some polling of the 2008 campaign, ARG released some of the first New Hampshire primary numbers for 2008 last week here: ["McCain Leads Among Republicans in New Hampshire"]. So it is McCain, Gingrich and Romney.
First, let's take Sen. John McCain. This is no surprise ... but 39 percent so early? Wowie zowie. Plus, he gets 37 percent of registered Republicans and 45 percent of undeclareds [or what New Hampshire calls independents]. What makes this so impressive is that the standard logic in 2004 was that the bulk of McCain's support was from undeclareds. Those on the ground know that this wasn't entirely true; while McCain had a lot of support from indies, he also had a lot of support from rank-and-file Republicans. These high numbers mean nothing more than name recognition at this point and with 32 percent "undecided," it is still anyone's game. But it is still impressive. McCain is still wishy-washy about running. He hasn't been to the state in a while but most think he will run.
However, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 14 percent? This is a surprise. The Newster wants to run. He is telling everyone he wants to run. And why not? If you have a bunch of rich friends to give you millions, you are basically on a two-year holiday talking politics and staying in fancy hotels. Who wouldn't want to do that? Gingrich has only been to the state once, on a three-day swing through the state to pimp his most recent book. He hasn't been here since and there isn't much out there about him considering a run. The flip side to Gingrich's high early numbers is the fact that he really hasn't run in a competitive race in almost three decades and his arrogance will be eaten alive up here in the hustings of New Hampshire [as well as Iowa, and it looks like both will hold their first votes]. Plus, as I posted on MyDD earlier this week: ["Interestingly ..."], there is still bad blood from when he and Clinton went through that whole government shut down/playing chicken thing back in the mid-1990s. Despite the perception that Republicans are "anti-big government," a lot of Republicans have family members who rely on assistance, whether it is VA benefits, heating subsidies, or whatever. It backfired on Republicans here when Gingrich went on that tear and they almost lost seats in the election cycle following the shut down. Gingrich won't be the nominee ... but he'll have a lot of fun with his campaign expense account.
Now, to Gov. Willard Mitt Romney [he doesn't go by Willard anymore just "W." but I don't really know why]. Oh boy. "Guy Smiley" himself. No one should be surprised by his third place placing even if it is only 8 percent. He is south of the border. We watch Boston TV news up here. He lives in Wolfeboro during the summer, in a palatial Winnipesaukee lakefront home protected by Mass. staties. Why wouldn't he be in third? But what has he really done as governor in Massachusetts and what does he plan to do as president? No one really knows. Maybe that is why he is in third, too. Keep smiling Willard, keep smiling.
Other numbers? Well, they are nothing to write home about: Majority Bill Frist at 5 percent, and Sen. George Allen and Rep. Tom Tancredo at 1 percent, all three of which have made trips. Allen, as I posted recently, didn't make such a good impression; The Weirs Times had a write-up on Tancredo's swing through the Lakes Region, his third trip to the state. He is good and harsh on the illegal immigration stuff but some have said he comes across as a bit extreme. Sen. Sam Brownback and Sen. Chuck Hagel got goose-eggs, despite trips to New Hampshire and good media coverage: ["Campaign 2008"]. And is Gov. Mike Huckabee even running? What about VP Dick Cheney? I heard some things ...
The future cries of boys and girls everywhere: "Hey Mom, can I have $100 million so I can go to the moon?" ["Private Company Plans $100 Million Tour Around the Moon"].
The Freeway Bloggers get some great press: ["American Graffiti: Signs of the times "].
Oh no Flo!: One of the best radio news "gals" in the business breaks a huge story, it gets squashed, and she, well, gets pissy: ["WBZ doesn't go with Flo on story"].
Sean Gonsalves: When I was on vaca recently, I wrote about how much I like Gonsalves' columns in the Cape Cod Times, which are often posted on Common Dreams. Well, here is another good one: ["It's not Weak to Ask 'Why?'"].