Monthly Archives: February 2011

Inspection- Of Intuition, Irony and the Piano Man Plays a Martin Guitar

In 1973, or late 72, I started playing a local bar in Utica, NY called: The Barbershop, around New Years. Called “The Barbershop” because it was the former location of, you guessed it, a barbershop. Unless you count my little kid performances with some famous folks you might know, shows I barely remember, at Hootenannies in the late 50s, my first full time gig was in 71-72 in my home town: Big Moose, at The Little Fox. The Barbershop was my second regular full time gig: every Saturday, a paid for with “free beer” gig… at first. The owner had taken a tremendous risk reopening a bar that had been closed due to fights and drug deals, then kicking the infamous patrons out when they tried to return. He couldn’t afford me, but I liked the place so, as I told him, “What the Hell.”

Within a few months he started paying me. Perhaps it was due to my intense talent, but more than likely it was because I drank too much damn beer. I was costing too much. And sometimes, well let’s just say the third set was very short.

I was still playing there when Billy Joel’s The Piano Man was released as a single and I started playing it at the bar. As one regular said, “Hey! The Piano Man Plays a Martin guitar.” I still have it: a 1972 D18, in case you’re curious.

I swear, when I selected the song I didn’t know there would be any irony. I opened up my very first set with The Piano Man at The Barber Shop. But since I mixed my own songs freely in with whatever was on the radio at the time, every time I played it I was asked, “Did you write that for us?” I had to admit: Billy Joel. But there was more “irony” to the song than just a guitar player playing it. For those who know the lyrics get this…

At the Barbershop the bartender’s name was John. He frequently helped me with “a light” for my “smoke.” He confided in me he hated his job and wanted an acting career. We had a “Davie” who was still in the Navy. And one of my regular patrons was Paul who was into real estate, but wanted to be a novelist.

It’s those kind of ironies in life that seem to make living a fascinating endeavor, I suppose. Ironies like the same movement I was a part of in the 60s, and abandoned, has more power now than they imagined they might ever have back then. Oh, Buckley and Goldwater might have had more than a few wet dreams: to have a Conservative president (2), a Conservative Congress: from mid-90s until 2006. But having the kind of bullhorn only media oracles like FOX can offer, and the rest of the media joining forces with the FOX and few willing to hunt, or confront, the vile creature for its devious ways, extreme Right talking point goosestepping?

I doubt either Goldwater or Buckley imagined that.
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Just to Dispel a Myth: Wisconsin’s Public Workers Actually Pay for Their Benefits and Pensions

I’ve heard some variation of this line of GOP divide-and-conquer propaganda a few times recently: ‘WI public sector workers get free health care and benefits’ but it just ain’t so, as David Cay Johnston details in this article from Tax.com:

Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who ‘Contributes’ to Public Workers’ Pensions?

David Cay Johnston
Tax.com
Feb. 24, 2011

When it comes to improving public understanding of tax policy, nothing has been more troubling than the deeply flawed coverage of the Wisconsin state employees’ fight over collective bargaining.

Economic nonsense is being reported as fact in most of the news reports on the Wisconsin dispute, the product of a breakdown of skepticism among journalists multiplied by their lack of understanding of basic economic principles.

Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to “contribute more” to their pension and health insurance plans.

Accepting Gov. Walker’s assertions as fact, and failing to check, created the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not.

Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

Read the rest here.

Inspection- Things that Make No Damn Sense

This week’s Inspection will be a bit different. I must admit: I have done three week’s of rewrites on two columns I’m still not happy with. So, instead, this will be a random collection of observations regarding seemingly unconnected, yet senseless, things. Please feel free to enlighten me as to how they might make sense, or suggest senseless things I may have not included in this rant. How much have I missed? A plethora, I’m sure.

Interstate Interchanges

I have noticed when the feds revamp interchanges for interstates they favor fly overs. You know, the kind where to go east you have to go west and then swing back west, or to go west you are trying to exit east? Now I have seen a few where it makes sense: had to be done, but most of them could have been designed without those hugely expensive fly overs that often find us headed the wrong damn direction because they are counter intuitive: left to go right, right to go left. They make no sense.

Bush I

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Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators

A collection of Rolling Stone links from RSN News. Writer uncredited.

Sen. John McCain walks with Lt. Gen. William Caldwell at Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan on January 6, 2009. Senior Airman Brian Ybarbo/U.S. Air Force (Homepage image: AP)

The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in “psychological operations” to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned - and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.

The Runaway General: The Rolling Stone Profile of Stanley McChrystal That Changed History
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