ABOUT RAR: For those of
you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher
of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites.
Use this link to visit the
RAR music page, which features original music
compositions and other.
ATWOOD - "A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance"-AVAILABLE
NOW FOR KINDLE (INCLUDING KINDLE COMPUTER APPS) FROM
CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects
the building of America in a trilogy of novels
collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores
the development of the American West through the
lens of public policy, land planning, municipal
development, and governance as it played out in one
of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of
the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious
and cultural traditions that imbued the American
Midwest with a special character that continues to
have a profound effect on American politics to this
day. Book One creates an understanding about
America's cultural foundations that is further
explored in books two and three that further trace
the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one
isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as
an icon in the development of a certain brand of
American character. That's the serious stuff viewed
from high altitude. The story itself gets down and
dirty with the supernatural, which inATWOOD
- A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the
outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the
monumental to the sublime.The
book features the epic poem"The
well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard
Meets Larry McMurtry
I am offering another
novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service.
Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its
sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado,
1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm
equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of
individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and
distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.
It is a ripping good yarn, filled
with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to
pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950,
when the story is set. Richard Padilla
has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of
a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The
whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on
Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little
of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns.
Use this link.
EXPLORE THE KINDLE
If you have not explored the books
available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing
division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You
will find classic literature there, as well as tons
of privately published books of every kind. A lot of
it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published
books are awful, but some are truly classics. You
can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works
for two bucks.
Amazon is the largest,
but far from the only digital publisher. You can
find similar treasure troves atNOOK
Barnes & Noble site),Lulu,
of a Poet Monk
I've always listened to
Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016) when I want to deny life
the sort of pleasure it sometimes seems to take in making me miserable.
He never made me feel better so much as he encouraged me to summon up
that sense of defiance that I perceived in him and his work. He came
from that place that gave us Raymond Carver, Charles Bukowski, Henry
Miller, and other tragic romantics who documented their lives on coarse
sandpaper, leaving their blood all over their pages.
Cohen always seemed wistful, yearning for
beauty he recognized all along the way, but that got lost, existing for
only fleeting moments before slipping into ghostly memory. He made me
feel privileged to have felt hurt and sadness, and bitter toward the
creeping darkness of cynicism and spiritual loss. And he gave me a role
model for the eccentric self, a soldier in the war against banal
mortality. Leonard always seemed to be preparing himself for death.
Maybe it was because he lost his father when
he was only nine years old, and maybe that was the catalyst for the
itinerant nature of his personal sojourn. A Canadian Jew, he grew up in
an Orthodox household where he was encouraged to believe that he was
born to be a high priest. He was enthusiastic about music, but after he
went to college at McGill University he veered toward letters. Living
off a small trust fund and the income from odd jobs, he published poems
and won a literary award, as well as the respect of luminaries in
Canadian publishing. And then he moved to the Greek island of Hydra,
where he lived a reclusive life while writing books of poems and novels.
Some of his work was sexually explicit and made him a scandal. None of
it sold very well.
Just before he turned thirty, Cohen turned
his back on fiction and began to revision himself as a songwriter. He
relocated to Greenwich Village in New York City and immersed himself in
the folk scene there, arriving in 1966 and just a little too late. He
was enamored with Nico, who influenced his songwriting, and he had a
passing association with Andy Warhol's Factory collective. And then he
wrote "Suzanne", which was a hit for Judy Collins, and over time his song craft eclipsed his fiction.
Robert Altman framed McCabe and Mrs.
Miller around Cohen's devastating, unadorned musical honesty, and
over the years his legend just kept growing as he dropped quiet bombs
upon our cultural consciousness. "Hallelujah". "Everybody Knows". "First
We Take Manhattan". "Democracy", and more.
Though committed to Judaism, Cohen lived in
seclusion for five years at the Mount Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles,
where in 1996 he was ordained as a Buddhist Monk. Financial
embezzlement, on the part of his business manager, forced him back to
the public stage, and so new generations became aware of his significant
contributions to our culture. At the end of his life - on stage, with
his Greek instruments and his fedora - he was a colossus of straight
talk and truth, a reminder that we are going through our time together,
and often it is crushingly poignant, so beautiful that it hurts.
Jay-Z's Tidal Bleed
In a year when services streamed 317
billion music files, Tidal and its holding company lost $28 million.
Remember that somewhat strange scene, from back in
February of 2015, when Jay-Z, flanked by Beyonce, Kanye West, Alicia
Keys, Madonna, Chris Martin, Nicki Minaj and Daft Punk, announced that
his Carter Enterprises had bid $56 million for Swedish company Aspiro?
No, of course you don't, because no one was listening!
This was lost to the Carter cast of Empire, who
were led to believe that they were buying a baked-in audience of at
least 540,000 people, who could stream a lot of Kanye and Jay-Z if their
subscription service would offer that kind of thing.
When you think about it, 540,000 subscribers is
not really a lot of subscribers - it's like the audience that Chris
Matthews might get each night on MSNBC, which nobody watches. And those
folks were said to live in 31 countries, but as it turns out the Aspiro
roster of paid customers was nowhere near that large, or so Jay-Z's
lawyers argued in a suit against Aspiro that raked back $15 million of
the Carter Enterprise investment.
Tidal continues to exist (check out
https://listen.tidal.com/ ) but
looking at their offerings it makes you wonder how that service could
ever be successful. Of course, I say that about all of them.
The Star Tribune is reporting that Prince’s estate has
sued Jay Z’s Roc Nation for copyright infringement over Tidal’s claim of
having exclusive streaming rights for Prince’s music. The complaint
asserts that Tidal was only granted a 90-day period of streaming
exclusivity for Prince’s 2015 album HITNRUN Phase One. NPG Records
claims that no other agreements were made and that Tidal “is exploiting
many copyrighted Prince works.” Tidal has long been the sole streaming
service to offer Prince’s music. In July 2015, Prince’s music vanished
from all streaming services except Tidal. In May of last year, Prince
streamed his “Rally 4 Peace” Baltimore concert exclusively on Tidal.
When HITNRUN Phase Two was released last December, it was initially only
available on Tidal. At press time, Prince’s catalog is still available
to stream on Tidal.
Going to the Lucky Cloud - or Spiritland?
to the Nielson Ratings folks, there were 317 billion music files
streamed by listeners in 2015, which is double the number streamed in
2014. 91 percent of Americans listen to music in one way or another, 75
percent on their computers, in a typical week, while 44 percent listen
on a smart phone.
That's a lot of music consumption, but there is a
hidden story there, that being that people have become very accustomed
to listening to music in headphones and/or less than audiophile-types of
This would have been unheard of in the 1960s and
'70s, when enjoyment of music was largely tied to the quality of the
audio equipment that we were using. I once took a college class in hi-fi
electronics and remember distinctly how remarkably more profound the
sound coming out of the stereo used in that class was than anything I
have ever heard before or since. It planted within me this dream of one
day having a system comparable to that because the experience of hearing
music of that fidelity, clarity and presence is like a fabulous drug I
only took once. I was never able to recreate that experience, and then
time moved on and we all started listening to MP3 files played on Apple
products. The music was still there, but sound was mostly gone.
Enter the "Lucky Cloud" sound system.
Touring around London for the past decade -
setting up in community centers and other un-night clubby places - is a
traveling music party that is all about featuring high quality audio.
The Lucky Cloud group, around since
2003, was inspired by DJ David Mancuso, who ran a party operation in New
York in the 1970s and gained a cult following. Same product: quality
Fast forward 30-40 years, and quality has become a
special product. Now The Lucky Cloud tour has competition in their
special realm from "listening clubs" that are springing up around
London. One of the most high profile is
Spiritland, which boasts a half-million dollar sound system
designed by a British company called Living Voice.
The Goldmund Epilogue Signature Audio System,
shown right, is considered the most expensive and coveted home stereo
system in the world. The Swiss sound system costs a $1 million, and
obviously for that kind of money you don't get fancy casing.
Number One Music (N1M)
Feeding the Beast
starts with the type of nice note that attention-starved songwriters
yearn to receive. Someone you've never heard of, but who might live in
your area, can't stop listening to your song! They found it on some
streaming service and they really think you could do well by getting
additional promotion through a website called Number One Music (N1M).
Your devoted fan apparently has a brother who writes songs, and the site
did wonders for him.
It's easy to get started with a Number
One Music account, because you can sign up for free. And they give you
25 bitcoins that you can use to buy a place on the site's music chart.
You can buy seven days of promotion for your song and before you know it
some other musician type you have never heard of thanks you for
endorsing their work, even though you never did any such thing. But the
thing is, you can earn more bitcoins by endorsing other bands on the
website, and that will get you more time for the campaign you've
launched to promote that song of yours that that girl liked so much -
the one who led you to the Number One Music site.
Before you know it, you are showing up on
the N1M charts! In fact, you start to feel like you want to endorse more
bands you've never heard of so that you can get more N1M subscribers and
climb even higher on those music charts. It's hard, though, because your
campaign is expiring and the only way to really climb into the big time
with all of this is to shell out some real cash to reactivate your
You probably couldn't imagine that all
those enthusiastic fans subscribing to your N1M page aren't real people
at all, but rather are just this wave of followers you suddenly get
during your free trial period before you have to start paying money so
that your account doesn't get deleted. Unfortunately, that is precisely
the case. N1M is like a bunch of bandits waiting at the bus station
where they drop off the new arrivals, fresh to the city and carrying
cash, begging to be accepted and willing to pay for the feeling. N1M
isn't really even a part of the music industry, and yet it typifies
something of what the industry is about: exploiting the naive dreamers
who somehow imagine that the Internet will be their ticket to the big
time. There are a lot of crooks on the fringes of the vanity business.
A half-century has passed since
The Beatles broke through on the British pop music scene, and then
internationally. Twenty years after their breakup in 1970, biographers
were looking back on their era, the 1960s, and referring to them as "the
Pied Pipers of a generation". Even in their worship of the world's
greatest Rock'n Roll band, they were too limited in their assessment,
because The Beatles have continued to remain vital, and to become as
much a part of the identity of one generation as they have the next. As
a songwriting collective, there has never been anything remotely near to
being like them, for though there have been other songwriters and
songwriting teams with multiple hit records and huge songbooks, none
carry the weight of The Beatles' catalog.
McCartney, Harrison and Starr - and they did all contribute original
material - were of two parts. In their early years, up to 1966, they
were interweaving wonderfully constructed pop songs with covers of
American R&B, Rockabilly, and Rock'n Roll. Everyone knows the charm
displayed by The Beatles in those early years, which was evident in the
fresh nature of their original tunes. They were happy listening even
when they were singing teenage love themes, and everyone knows their
early songs by heart. "I Saw Her Standing There". "She Loves You". "Hold
Me Tight". "A Hard Day's Night." You could go on for paragraphs of
immediately recognizable titles. The energy with which The Beatles
performed these songs was nearly impossible to match, though the songs
themselves were still within the range of the great songwriters of the
times. Burt Bacharach, for instance, had built a remarkable catalog of
highly musical tunes, as had Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Roy Orbison,
Smokey Robinson, and others. But The Beatles were just getting started
and on the verge of going places no one has gone before or since.
The Rubber Soul album, in 1965, had begun to
reveal a new level of songwriting, influenced by Bob Dylan and the
American folk scene. It is sort of deep and thoughtful, just a little
dark. Just talking about their music in that way differentiates it from
their earlier pop. They had always been lyrically musical, but now
Lennon, in particular, was getting musically poetic, honest where before
he had been sincere. There was an edge there and by 1966 it was cutting
a slit in our musical reality.
It was a doors of perception thing. Lennon, Harrison,
Starr, and later McCartney, were introduced to pot and LSD, and while
this has been the beginning of the end for many a poor soul it was the
beginning of the beginning for them. They took four months off from
touring and worked hard in the studio for a prolonged period as they had
never done before. A professional road band, The Beatles were in the
habit of recording 14-song albums in a couple days. They would record
the instrumental tracks in a live take, and then record the vocals, and
bang, they were done. With Revolver, they took the time to let
their imaginations go and they came up with tape loops and effects
unlike anyone had heard before. And under the direction of George
Martin, their explorations were not self-indulgent, but rather were part
of a perfectly calibrated artistic vision. Everything changed. Ringo
Starr played drum parts that to this day are studied by drummers who
somehow can not exactly reproduce his feel. And after "Tomorrow Never
Knows", no one ever again played an outside-of-the-normal type of song
without coming off like a cheesy impersonation of the greatest Rock'n
Roll band in history. And after Revolver, The Beatles did music
that transcended pop and has not been equaled to this day.
Ringo Starr - Photographer
Tavis Smiley Interview
1963-64, as The Beatles were
breaking big in England and then showing up in the United States, all
four of "the boys", as they were fondly known, were capturing the
experience through their own snapshots of all that was happening around
them. They contributed to a treasure trove of photographs of the band,
adding to those taken by the press corps and their own publicists, so
that fans have pictorial documentation of their success that is
virtually unequalled relative to the collections we have of other big
name acts. Some of the best were taken by Ringo Starr, who this year
published a book of his photographs from the era. Ringo, often called
"the soul" of the band, took a lot of pictures of the things that he and
his mates were seeing of the world around them, and earlier this year he
spoke with radio host Tavis Smiley about his photo book. Watching the
interview reminds us of what a pure soul Ringo really is, more real in
so many ways than either John, Paul or George. Now in his 70s, Ringo
remains a breath of fresh air and a pleasure to listen to, whether he is
playing in his own unique drumming style or just talking like a regular
The Letterman Inquiry
So Paul, Are You Dead?
Paul McCartney appeared on
Late Night with David Letterman and the
host took the opportunity to ask Paul about those 1966 rumors of his
demise. Some inquiring Internet enthusiasts listened to his response as
further proof that the Paul McCartney we know today is a stand-in. What
do you think?
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION PHENOMENON
The article to the right mentions The
Tavistock Institute and conspiracy theories that drugs are being used as
tools for control of our young people. For sure, the marijuana of the
21st Century is a hybrid pot that is a far different thing from that
known to my generation in the 1960s. It is more of a hallucinogenic than
it once was, and as the U.S. liberalizes its use it does make one wonder
if we are creating a monster for ourselves. This article is reprinted
from my Facebook site. Follow RARWRITER on Facebook at
have made watching the film Zeitgeist: The
Movie an annual holiday tradition and, watching it this
Thanksgiving morning, while preparing the turkey, I noticed something I
hadn’t really thought about before. It has to do with the national trend
toward the legalization of recreational marijuana. My home state of
California legalized its use in this last election cycle, so
recreational users now have the same rights here that medical marijuana
users have enjoyed for several years. Now, if I believed in God – George
Carlin’s invisible man in the sky who watches our every move, loves us
while having a desperate need for our money, and will sentence us to
eternal suffering if we don’t follow his 10 commandments (which are
actually pretty sensible) – I might believe that marijuana is a gift
from above. For a small percentage of its users, marijuana is a
marvelous, mind-expanding resource that promotes peaceful relations and
opens the doors to creativity. Many of our most powerful corporate
leaders go off on retreats where they smoke pot and dream up such
concepts as agile software development and "the Cloud". But most of us
aren’t very smart at all, and all marijuana smoking does for the average
idiot is to allow them to ignore the truths of their lives. It is vastly
superior, in that regard, to alcohol, which is a destructive influence
that promotes depression, encourages violence, and ruins lives.
Marijuana tends to mellow people out, to make them more loving and
happy. That said, we are about to witness a coast-to-coast embrace of
recreational marijuana, because state governments have come to recognize
it as an extraordinary source of tax revenue. That puts a whole new spin
on its use, because as was so brilliantly pointed out by the 1976 film
Network, we as citizens are
manipulated through control devices. The media brainwashes us to think
things that no one in their right mind would otherwise accept, like
airliners knocking down the World Trade Center towers plus Building 7,
which wasn’t even struck. I now suspect that what is really happening is
that legalizing marijuana is being promoted as an insidious means of
further blinding the population to the horrors of governmental and
corporate control. The zeitgeist of the 60s has been turned on its head.
Where once pot was this magical substance that allowed us to see “the
truth”, in the 21st Century it is probably becoming a weapon to be used
against the application of rational thought. Corporations are rushing in
to take over its production, distribution and sale. Now why would they
do that? People probably need to see this for what it is and recognize
that they have taken something beautiful and turned it into a tool of
oppression. It is horrible and sad on so many levels. We have wizened up
to the fact that as a controlled substance it has been used as the means
to fill our privately operated prison systems with three-strike
offenders, who are largely Black and Latino. It has been used to further
marginalize the economic under class. Maybe we will finally defeat that
demon force, but in its demise we are likely just seeing a shift in
strategy. As the world turns ever closer to destruction, we probably
need to stay alert to what is really going on now. When pot becomes a
tool for “the man”, as we used to call institutions of authority in the
‘60s, we probably need to see it for what it has become. Decriminalize
pot for sure, but don’t let yourself be used by it.
Oh, and those Electronic Devices
we are on the subject of phony Internet stories and corporate
shenanigans associated with electronic cigarettes, what is happening to
our society through the influence of electronic devices, notably the
"smart phone"? Have you ever tried to take one away from a kid? They
react like drug addicts react when you try to deny them their narcotics.
And why? Because addiction is addiction, in whatever form it comes,
affecting all of the same brain receptors. The evil geniuses of Research
Triangle Park, Silicon Valley, the National Security Agency, and the
Central Intelligence Agency have actually convinced us all to glue
ourselves to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and the rest of the "fake
news" sites we have today, and to put all of our personal data in the
Cloud. And the world has fallen for this hook, line and sinker. More
than just a crying shame, it is a disaster heralding the end of our
basic human right to exist free of oppression and societal control. And
like addicts of all stripes, we have done it to ourselves through out
own vanity and ego, and our manic need to follow the surrounding herd.
We have allowed our own ignorant inclinations to be leveraged for use
against us, writing our own epitaphs in 140 characters or less.
Paul is Dead
The Tavistock Institute,
British Intelligence, and Billy Shears
sound crazy, but I remember exactly where I was when the news broke in
1966 that Paul McCartney was dead.
In that sense, it is like a few other significant events in our
cultural history, that includes the Kennedy assassinations and
The 1966 "Paul is dead" rumor happened long
before the Internet was around, and news of the tragedy was communicated
by radio through ongoing reports and news updates. It landed on the
public imagination as a psychic trauma that played out as a series of
clues, most notably presented through the cover art and the music
presented on the Sargent Peppers LP and subsequent albums. "He
blew his mind out in a car. He didn't notice that the light had
changed." Playing Beatles songs backward - and who would do that? -
yielded frank admissions, such as "Paul is dead" and "I buried Paul".
Paul was presented barefoot, coffin ready, on the Abbey Road
cover, and he wore the Walrus outfit, which we learned was a death
symbol, on the Magical Mystery Tour album and film.
In retrospect, it is amazing to my mind that
the narrative played out as long as it did, for over time there
developed in the public mind this acceptance that the whole thing was
somehow the work of a pesky John Lennon. What other mind could possibly
conceive of such a publicity stunt and have so much fun with it? This
notion that Lennon had such a perverse sense of humor had been seeded in
the public mind by the wicked wit contained in his illustrated books
A Spaniard in the Works and In His Own Write. Through all of
the intrigue, The Beatles continued to produce music and even music
videos, with Paul very much present, and so eventually came acceptance
that the whole thing had been a lark.
Flash forward to the Internet age and
somehow the entire narrative changed from an absurd publicity stunt to
become a conspiracy story. Paul had, in "fact", died in 1966 and been
replaced by a guy - first and middle name Billy Shears - who had won a
Paul McCartney look-alike contest in 1965. Somehow, the story goes, that
Billy Shears Campbell had a similar personality and all the musical
chops of the cute Beatle, and so with Paul's death Beatles manager Brian
Epstein decided to cultivate him as a replacement. He was only supposed
to be passed off as the real Paul temporarily, until the Beatles
organization could figure out how to handle the tragedy of McCartney's
untimely death, but the ruse continued. There was plastic surgery,
musical coaching. All records of William Shears Campbell disappear after
Billy Shears, it turned out, was at least as
musically talented as Paul McCartney, and maybe even moreso. John,
George and Ringo settled into conspiracy, though behind the scenes there
was trouble. Billy couldn't get along with Lennon and after McCartney's
death The Beatles stopped doing live performances. The music of The
Beatles changed dramatically, veering away from Pop Music into a mind
altering psychedelia. And then people around the band began to die.
Brian Epstein committed suicide in 1967. John Lennon was murdered in
1980 by Mark David Chapman, who conspiracy buffs determined was a
"Manchurian Candidate". Paul's wife Linda Eastman, whose family had
become deeply involved in the business of The Beatles, succumbed to
cancer in 1998. In 2001, George Harrison died young, at 58, of a blend
of cancers, until finally all that was left was "Faul" - fake Paul - and
Ringo Starr. It was even determined that Billy Shears, the "first phony
Paul" died in 1977, only to be replaced by yet another "Faul", who is
the person we know today as Paul McCartney.
Internet sleuths began cataloging
irregularities in the McCartney profile. He is two inches taller now,
than he used to be. His eyes are hazel, where the real Paul's were
brown. His nose and ears are different. His feet are different. He
sometimes uses his right hand, where the real Paul was a southpaw in
Some conspiracy theorists lay all the
deception on the doorstep of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations,
a research group furthering the work of Sigmund Freud to further the
development of behavioral psychology. Their clients are the British
government, and they have ties to the behavioral research conducted at
Stanford University. (You will recall the "Stanford prison experiment".)
Their purpose, in the minds of these conspiracy theorists, is to use
popular music and drugs to destroy the educational system in the United
States and control the masses. The Beatles, in their narrative, were an
evil plot from the first. Some even say that the Tavistock geniuses
provided the band with its original compositions, reasoning that a
quartet of uneducated twits from Liverpool could not possibly have come
up with The Beatles music on their own. They could not possibly have
cast the spell they did over the youth of the world on the strength of
their own talents.
In 2009, David Letterman had Paul (or Faul)
on his show and asked him about the rumors. Conspiracy theorists took
Paul's tepid response and facial expressions as "tells", revelations
that Letterman had entered into territory that made his guest, whoever
he was, a little uncomfortable.
In 2015, there was a report that
came clean to the Hollywood Inquirer, clearing his conscience by
admitting that Paul McCartney had, in fact, died in 1966 and that he was
replaced by a look-alike. That report is repeated all over the Internet,
but finding any actual recorded interview in which Ringo is saying that
Perhaps the protectors of the truth are just
preventing such evidence from being found, so all we have are YouTube
presenters repeating the story as reported by other alternative media
sources. Some of those outlets are reporting that MI5, the British
intelligence agency, is looking into the possibility that Paul McCartney
died in 1966, was replaced by a succession of imposters, and that the
ruse has continued successfully for 50 years. If MI5 has issued a
statement on this inquiry, it has apparently been made only to those
YouTube investigators who have breathed life back into this
extraordinary story after all these years.
Meanwhile, Paul McCartney continues an
active performance schedule. Various sources, including Forbes and CNN,
place his net worth at somewhere between $600 million and $1.2 billion
dollars, making him the wealthiest musician in the world, and he is
about to get a whole lot richer. The royalties of The Beatles' pre-1978
catalog will revert to their heirs beginning in 2018. The band's peak
earning years are still ahead of them. - RAR
The New Pollution
How Tobacco Companies are
Using Vaping to Control Our Young People
is any doubt in your mind that major corporations are using drugs to
control the population, I bring your attention to the current fad of "vaping".
Vaping, of course, refers to the use of
electronic cigarettes. Their marketing groups came up with the term to
create a sense of cache around using their insidious little devices,
which are promoted as healthy alternatives to regular cigarette smoking.
It is a lie that should be prosecuted, if we were in the business of
protecting the public, but as the business of America is business we are
not only not prosecuting the guilty, but rather are sponsoring the
ignorant young to promote their use of this disastrous new deceit.
In truth, it is not just the young. The
first people I knew to use electronic cigarettes were adults who looked
at the devices as aids to help them wean themselves off of tobacco and
nicotine. Surprise! Electronic cigarettes deliver most of what makes
cigarettes lethal, plus some other stuff. The key ingredients are
propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, which allow manufacturers to
create special flavors for their electronic cigarettes, while still
delivering the addictive nicotine that smokers crave. The benefits sold
to the public are that, with vaping, there is no bad smell and bad
breath, no cigarette burns, and no dirty ashtrays. There is supposedly a
reduced likelihood of getting cancer, or so goes the marketing
Vaping was invented by a Chinese pharmacist
and it created an immediate fad in the Far East that was easily
transferable to the vulnerable West. Companies now sponsor kids to
compete with the kinds of tricks they can create through the huge
volumes of smoke created by these insidious devices.
And, like cigarette smokers and drug addicts
of all kinds, no one is more defensive about this despicable habit than
vapers, who have fallen for this load of crap that has been delivered
unto our society from a society (China) that is notorious for its lax
product safety standards. They will coat your kids' toys with lead
paint, and they will coat your kids' lungs with electronic cigarette
smoke. If this doesn't make you sick to your stomach, it will almost
certainly make you sick in mind and body. Plus, you are sheep for being
suckered into a harmful and dangerous fad, and you are a victim of
corporate manipulation and profiteering. You should spank yourself for
being stupid, and then put it on YouTube, like the ice bucket challenge,
so all the other idiots you know will do the same thing.
A Lot of You People are
Going to Have to Get a Lot Better Looking
One of my
fond recollections of the TV series Friends was an episode in
which the character Joey (Matt LeBlanc) was teaching an acting class.
Included in the advice that he gave to his young student-actors, who were trying to
break into television, was - "A lot of you people are going to have to
get a lot better looking."
That line is hilarious, to my mind, not
in the least because the naturally telegenic Joey was
hitting upon something central to the entertainment business: it is "a show"
in which the quality of your
looks will trump whatever talent you may bring to the proceedings. For
validation of that statement, just sit for awhile watching the
commercials that you see on television. Every person that you see in
those commercials is attractive, in one way or another, often beyond the norm
that you see in regular people. The women are all beautiful, the men are
all handsome. Or, if not exactly handsome or beautiful, they at least have something special about their look that sets them
apart from the average person. That is critical to the effectiveness of
commercials, because beautiful actors convey a sense of exceptional
quality on the products they represent. Viewers equate the commercial
image with what's inside the product box. You can test that
statement by comparing the national TV spots to the types of low
overhead commercials you see in local markets, where often entrepreneurs act as their own on-screen talent. It usually comes across
like the difference between spots for your local Dollar Store (as if
such exists) and Nordstroms.
However wrong it may seem, there are class differences. Those commercial spots
are also designed to capture and hold
our attention, so that the messages they convey become concrete in our
sub-conscious minds. They achieve that by giving license to
something viewers don't typically have, which is the audacity to ogle.
don't just make commercials. Television and movies sell fantasy, among
other things. They portray worlds as we
would like for them to be, if everything was "perfect". However complicated
the lives of the characters inhabiting those images may be, the beautiful people
always seem to endure with greater hope
than do the less attractive. There is a subtext of "survival of the
fittest" in every form of expression, and being the most attractive or
appealing animal in the herd ensures your survival. It is individuals
from the "box of deplorables" that suffer to be sacrificed.
Movies are still far more likely than
television to feature "character actors", though you have seen changes
there, too, over the years. I love, for instance, to watch the old
Hollywood movies featured on the American Movie Classics (AMC) and
similar channels that show films from what is often called "the Golden
Age of Hollywood". Many of the films of the 30s and 40s featured
May-December relationships, which seem very weird today. You got a lot
of movies with older leading men like Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, and
Jimmy Stewart involved in relationships with women in their 20s,
as if all these young lovelies yearned to "hook-up" with a father
figure. That would never fly today, and you wonder why it worked then.
Imagine being a young lovely and having one of these old farts ramming
their tongues down your throat. It would seem like an intimacy with
Freddie Krueger, which in modern times would come across as horror.
Our aesthetic has changed over time, and rather dramatically.
also applies to the world of music entertainment, and explains a lot
about why popular music belongs almost exclusively to the very young.
It also explains some of why local music venues struggle to survive.
Personally, I never attend live music events because I find them
depressing. Most of them exist to sell alcohol, which puts me in the
presence of a bunch of drinking types with whom I would not otherwise
choose to be around. And, most routinely feature players who are more
Dollar Store than Nordstrom in their presentation. You get a lot of
older people who play for the love of music, or perhaps for the love of
attention, and I, in my garden-variety superficiality, don't find much
appeal in any of that.
You really cannot perform well enough to
overcome the shortcomings of your appearance, and we just don't look as
good as older people as we did when we were young. Also, our popular
music tends to be all about the themes of interest to really young
people. Having David Crosby, for instance, sing a love song more
appropriate for someone in their dating years is just creepy. I don't
actually know if David Crosby does that, but it would be weird if he
Unfortunately, modern music has never
evolved into something focused on themes of greater interest to people
in the latter stages of their lives, so your local bar band guys are very
likely playing songs completely out of sync with what they are able to
We want the beauty, dreams, and ambitions
of fresh and vital youth. It is next to impossible, as we age, to overcome what we
have become as an evolved species that lives for a very long time.
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is a former A&R guy with Atlantic Records who I became aware of
through our mutual friend, the late tour manager
Buddy Zoloth. Phillip is a great
guy and a fine writer who has known and worked with many of the
biggest names from the "Golden Era" of Rock. For years we at the
CCJ at RARWRITER have enjoyed his website, where he has
published articles on many of the artists he has represented.
Earlier this year, Phillip published a book,
The Rock Trenches, that is
filled with interesting stories and great photographs that will
be phenomenally entertaining to anyone who loves the music of
the 1960s and '70s. You can visit
website by using this link, and you can buy his book through
Amazon by following this link.