Saturday, February 17, 2007

Orlando Rant

I feel that from time to time I should be allowed to generalize and rant when the situation is harmless enough to warrant it. In this case the need to expound is derived from being stuck in the metropolitan environs of that swampy and overcrowded fiasco known as Orlando, Florida. I'm down here on business and will be glad when I can return to the civility and charm of my home in the Panhandle.
Anyway I say let the generalizations begin:

  • There are too many people from northeastern states that are extremely un-courteous drivers and a menace to share the road with. Today I was tailgated by a shmuck from Pennsylvania, cut-off by a jerk from Maine and gestured at wildly by a maniac from Massachusetts. My offense, in the wild eyes of the Boston Bozo, was that I steadfastly refused to run a red light to make a left turn when the arrow changed. Now do y'all STILL want to know why I'm so much in favor of a separate southern Confederacy?

  • Orlando attracts the most idiotic type of tourist. This is most especially true of the ones hailing from the British Isles, who tend to walk around in large groups that often overtake the sidewalk. These Tommy Hilfiger clad Cro-Magnons can be found waiting in long lines to get into Hooters or the Golden Corral after an enlightening visit to Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

  • The gamut of garbage can attractions is extensively wide here and there never seems to be a shortage of gaping simians lined up at the door to fill each one to the rafters. As I drove by looking at this spectacle I was reminded of a quote by H.L. Mencken: "No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby."

  • Disney World SUCKS!

  • I'll be glad when this part of Florida is finally reclaimed by Spanish speaking people again, then maybe some of the colonial charm will return to this over-commercialized, tawdry stretch of neon lit nothingness. At least in Las Vegas you can encounter good food, somewhat more sophisticated entertainments and unique venues and architecture. Orlando, on the other hand, is about as exciting as a trip to the outlet mall where you can be entertained by the mime in the food court. Just don't eat too much, you'll need to save room for dinner at the Cracker Barrel.

  • And oh yeah----Disney World SUCKS!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring

One of the remarkable things about living on the Gulf of Mexico are the incredible rain storms that come and go with such ferocious intensity. The front that passed through Seagrove Beach this afternoon was the same one that spawned a tornado in New Orleans last night which killed one person and caused much destruction. It was the first fatality by a tornado in Orleans Parish since 1971 and only the sixth tornado ever to be recorded in the Big Easy in February.

The recent rash of intense coastal storms is a result of warmer than usual water temperatures in the Gulf and much colder air masses pushing down into the Deep South from Canada that normally tend to pass by further to the north. When these contrasting systems collide you'd better look out brutha!

When the current cold front passes through later tonight, the weather service is predicting sharply cooler readings for the rest of the week, with overnight lows dropping down into the upper teens by Friday night. Now that IS cold for Florida!

Well I was out and about in it today and just happened to have my camera handy. This sure is a whole lot different than the weather they have in the Great Basin.

Hwy. 98

Thar she blows!

Searchin' for fools.

Monday, February 12, 2007

An Art Blakey masterpiece

Art Blakey is one of my all-time favorite jazz artists, not only because of his near total mastery of his instrument (drums) but because he never rested on his laurels and was constantly taking artistic risks by reaching out to explore new territory.

Columbia Records (Sony) has recently re-released his 1956 classic Drum Suite with the Jazz Messengers. This record has the hard driving, fast paced action you expect from his well disciplined and thoroughly rehearsed ensemble but with a distinctly African frame of reference. The first song sets the tone of the album with an introductory Swahili chant followed by a pounding tympani. From here the compositions range from Afro-Cuban and cosmic calypso to classic hard bop that makes you wish Eisenhower was still president as the chrome portholes of your massive Buick Roadmaster sparkled in the smog free Los Angeles sun. Yes there was a time.

A new desert island disc for Beamis. I hope y'all get a chance to enjoy it too.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The music of Eddie Hazel

This past week I've finally added some new music to my library. One purchase was the result of a review I read in the surprisingly good English music magazine Mojo, while the others were from recent deals that BMG has offered its online customers where it seems that they are practically giving music away to get me to buy. BMG has also dramatically improved their catalog, especially in vintage jazz, so it is not hard to find good music to purchase at the incredibly low prices being offered.

The first CD I want to encourage you to buy (I found it for less than $9 on is the recently re-released solo album by Parliment Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel titled "Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs" from 1977. This incredible record is a wide ranging work featuring the accompaniment of the entire P-Funk crew including George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell and the Brides of Funkenstein. The sound and style of this disc stirs together a rich and heady brew of Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, and sixties psychedelia driven by the funky bopping bass lines of Bootsy Collins. It has even caused my stiffly un-rhythmic white man frame to break out into wild hip gyrating funk dancing (please don't tell my wife). The strongest cut is a cover of the Beatles "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" which has several extended solos and lots of groovin' background vocals from the Brides of Funkenstein. This is a record that I can listen to over and over again.

Unfortunately a fast life and drugs caught up with Eddie Hazel and he died in 1992, but luckily for posterity this resurrected masterpiece bears bold testimony to a brilliant guitarist and the life affirming power of funk.

I'll get to the rest of the music later this week.......stay tuned.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Are your papers in order?

Ve must see your papers!

It has been 16 years since I have had to apply for a drivers licence in a new state and what an eye-opening experience it has been, to say the least. The state of Florida started out by demanding to see my birth certificate and I immediately thought, "what pray tell does this have to do with operating a motor vehicle?" This was quickly followed by the need to produce my Social Security card, which by this time was getting me a little steamed at the wholesale intrusion into my privacy by the likes of the DMV. What exactly was their pressing need for this information in the first place?

All of the previous drivers permits that were issued to me in California, Georgia, Maryland, DC and Utah required no such proctological examination. I politely asked what was the need for all of these personal documents and the lady behind the counter said that they were "tightening up" and recently had become very strict about having identity papers well in hand before issuing licences to anyone. "WHY?" I silently asked myself. Was this going to make the highways and byways of the Sunshine State a much safer place to travel?

Again I asked the ether, "what does this have to do with operating a motor vehicle?"

Near the end of this ordeal they asked if I was registered to vote and I lied and said that I was. The last thing I want to do is register to vote! Are you kidding me? Why was someone at the drivers licence window asking me about that anyway? Had I accidentally arrived at the League of Women Voters office instead? At this point I was thinking to myself "things have really gone quite berserk at the DMV!"

Whatever happened to the good old days of an eye exam, an unflattering picture that highlights the bad side of your face and the requisite long wait in line to deal with a surly government clerk? Ahh how I nostalgically yearn for those long forgotten days of yesteryear when a drivers licence was just that and not the gateway to my innards. The days of Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford are looking better and better by the hour.

The good ol' U.S. of A. in the year 2007

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Shutting down Boston

It is hard for me to reconcile the notion that Boston was once known as the "cradle of liberty" and the storied locale of where many of America's founding fathers hailed from with the recent shutdown of the city and subsequent security related hysteria that was created by a clever ad campaign for, of all things, a cultish cartoon show. It does, however, confirm my belief that we have finally morphed into the scared and frightened ninnies that the central government has intended for us to become.

Listening to the mayor of Boston hysterically ranting about the fact that it cost his city $500,000 to mitigate the effects of harmless advertising signs I could only wonder how long it would be before the slightest deviation from the "norms" deemed by the state would be tolerated from any of us.

I am heartened by the fact that the presiding judge in the case has made it clear to the prosecutor of the two miscreants who put the signs up in the first place that he does not believe that the city has made a sufficient case that they intended to shut Boston down or to cause terroristic mayhem. I was also very moved by the perpetrators refusal to answer any questions from the media except those pertaining to 1970's hairstyles. These young men may indeed someday become folk heroes just like Paul Revere and the Sons of Liberty.

The terrorists are rounded up.

All I can say is what a quivering mass of jelly our whole society has become.

A wise sage, who was born in Boston, once famously said "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

Another sage, from Baltimore, also noted that "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

Amen bruthas!

The terror device ensconced in a rubber gloved hand.