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This is a Public Service Announcement...With Guitars!
5 Out of 5 Stars

Way back when, some muckity muck in the CBS Records Promo Department had the brilliant idea to slap a sticker across covers of the new Clash double LP that read "The Only Band That Matters." Even if the rest of the artists on the CBS roster might have been wondering a hearty WTF were they, chopped liver moment, but in 1979, The Clash actually felt like they could be that band. The band that all the hopes and dreams of rock and roll prophets whispered about in dark rooms when they quietly mused to themselves that a savior would be born unto them, bearing loud electric guitars, politically savvy lyrics and swagger that would never end. In 1979, it really felt like The Clash just might be that band. Hence, the 5 stars for The Singles.

But we all know how those kind of dreams end up. When Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon kicked Mick Jones out of the band and recorded "Cut The Crap," the world suddenly gave a collective yawn, and the general consensus to "Cut The Crap" was somebody, please pull the plug. But from 1979 to 1985, The Clash charged forth with revolutionary single after single often attached to stunning albums. If you don't have "London Calling," stop reading this review and order it now. They may not have been the best singers or the most proficient musicians, but that didn't stop them from playing fast, loud and even early on, playing with reggae and other influences than their punk roots might suggest.

So while you get the fury of "Clash City Rockers," you have the single "White Man in Hammersmith Palais," backing up the guitar roar with a reggae tune...both from their ferocious debut. Even more incredible is just how fast The Clash got better at what they were doing. The big riff of "London Calling" was matched by the almost soulful "Train In Vain" (their US breakthrough single). They were also going deeper into other musical forms, soon cutting rap-influenced songs like "The Magnificent Seven" and "This Is Radio Clash." Even as bloated as "Sandinista" was, the singles "Hitsville UK" and the politically charged "The Call Up" could blow you over.

It's interesting that their final, absolute American breakout was arriving as the band was beginning to fracture; "Combat Rock" delivered the remarkable "Rock The Casbah" and the big guitar attack of "Should I Stay or Should I Go." The album cover itself had the band on train tracks, quite literally at a crossroads. But even after splintering, they still could pull one more ace out of "Cut The Crap," the lovely and ironic "This Is England." Then it was over, except for side projects (Big Audio Dynamite being the most successful). But for the 20 singles collected on this The Singles, the final song sums it up. These were "Groovy Times" indeed.

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Songs of Hope and Defiance
4 Out Of 5 Stars

Made in honor of member Dudu Zulu, who had been assassinated in the last years of the apartheid, "Heat Dust and Dreams" would be Johnny Clegg's final album with Savuka. In fact, Clegg ended up not releasing another album in America until "Human" in 2010. His music remained in the spotlight, with several songs appearing in movie soundtracks. "Heat Dust and Dreams" was prime Clegg, mixing his brands of South African music with westernized pop. The album even opens with bagpipes behind an African chant (that translates to "the watchman's fire is burning") on the questioning "These Days." As a fan of Clegg would be able to tell you, Clegg's mix of music and politics made for always intriguing music, with "Heat Dust and Dreams" being no excpetion.

That's why it has always been frustrating to me that Clegg and Savuka (or his earlier band, Jaluka) couldn't break into the American mainstream. Capitol Records in the States obviously felt he could do it, as "These Days" was produced by the then super-hot Don Was. Longtime contributor Hilton Rosenthal manned the boards for the rest of the disc, but the overwhelming force of Clegg and the band made the choice of producers irrelevant. He moved effortlessly moved between love songs ("I Can Never Be") to the political condemnation towards the "Inevitable Consequence of Progress."

"The pilot pulled the chopper around
and we got into position
we made all the right moves and
there wasn't any real opposition.
Crazy tribesmen shooting arrows at the 'ship overhead
Such a wierd spectacle
the Sarge he smiled and he said
"There's a new world coming and
there ain't no place for them--
Don't feel sad son for what history has condemned."

Having been an artist who spent much of his career fighting the injustices of Apartheid, Clegg's politics are not facile protests. It makes songs like "Progress" and the prayer for peace "When The System Has Fallen" all the more potent. Yet, even with the politics, Clegg knows how to craft songs that lift and inspire, even with the often dark subject matter. U2 had been mining the same turf (as had Midnight Oil to a lesser degree of success), so again, I always has a difficult time reconciling the themes of those bands with Clegg's lack of American success. That's not to say he was lacking for an audience. In addition to his native South Africa, Savuka was wildly popular throughout Europe.

So maybe you missed "Heat Dust and Dreams" or my other favorites "Cruel Crazy Beautiful World" and "Shadow Man," but the MP3 generation can find these easily. Don't miss out.

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Tempering The Rage, Unslaving The Audio
3 Out Of 5 Stars

Tom Morello's first album under his Nightwatchman persona was out to destroy his old reputation as an electric guitar gunslinger for Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave. While he keeps the political bent of RATM in full blast, he's decided that a whisper will work better than a scream. So now he's channeling Woody Guthrie, Pete Seger and Bruce Springsteen ala "Ghost of Tom Joad." This is one wicked lefty political diatribe, and Morello is relishing the part.

I really enjoy what Morello is doing with this phase of his career. I've seen him live twice now, and he's got one charismatic stage presence. However, his songwriting here is not as good as the albums that followed. While I do not underestimate his commitment to this new-found folk music, there's only about half that really catch fire. There's too many songs that merely offer up slogans instead of songs, an issue that he'd overcome in spades by "The Fabled City" a couple of years later.

It's the songs that hit the bulls-eye that really impress. The title song blasts through any complacency the acoustic guitar based songs might lull you into. "The Gardens of Gethsemane" is a powerful narrative of a revolutionary on the prowl, haunted by "I've seen the things I should not see." Offering no viewpoint, you have to ascertain for yourself what kind of man he's singing about. With a haunting guitar whispering behind Morello's strumming, it packs a velvet wallop. "One Man Revolution" needed more of these songs. Like I also said, by "The Fabled City," his songwriting had evolved to the point where every song was an acoustic hand grenade. I'll recommend this to current fans of the likes of Steve Earle or Billy Bragg, but better was on the way.

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When Boomtown goes to Bust
5 Out Of 5 Stars

David Baerwald had had enough of your s#-t and was going to make sure you knew it. "Triage" is a cynical masterwork, his best album, and one to get angry about. It may have been released in 1992, chronicling the mess that was the Reagan administration, the rise of AIDS, the fall of the middle class, sometimes all in one song. Inciteful (not a typo) and musically beautiful, "Triage" may have been too overwhelming for the times. But oddly enough, that anger still feels relevant today.

Starting of with the cinematic 8 minutes of "A Secret Silken World," in which he asks "Don't you love to hurt the weak when they refuse to fight?" then details a rich person's complaints about being out and about in Beverly Glen on a "lazy kind of night" ("all those hungry people, such a drag. Let's get something to eat"). Sound familiar? As I write this, it's 28 years after Live Aid and just a few days after House Republicans voted to eliminate Food Stamps. The view from the top hasn't changed all that much.

Then there's the vitriolic "The Got No Shotgun Hydrahead Octopus Blues," which Baerwald was opinionated enough and felt so strongly for that he issued it as a single. Or the talking blues the drug war in "Nobody" or the fearful "AIDS and Armageddon."

The day she tried to kill me
She said you know You're gonna die
I said yeah but not yet.

The line in the song that says "I don't want to talk about it" could have cut two ways, in the Reagan years of denial or of the lover who worries that he may have contracted it, but was terrified of the sex that gave it to him. A thing that was all too real a feeling in the '90's. Which corresponds to the fact that the first thing up in the next song, where a recording of the introduction of the president, then leads into "The Postman," the album's gentlest song.

It's a moment of respite on a relentless CD. It's only at the end does Baerwald find some redemption for the ugly world he's just sang 9 songs about in "Born For Love." Make no mistake, however. "Triage" is as intense a singer's album as the 90's ever produced. Like I said earlier; what Baerwald felt with such vehemence then still sounds timely now.

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Midnight Oil Burns
5 Out Of 5 Stars

"Diesel and Dust" was Midnight Oil's perfect storm of an album. Peter Garret was still passionate (well, he always was), and the rest of the band, in particular bassist Peter Gifford and drummer Rob Hirst, kicked up their best rock and roll A-game. The Oils shucked some of the artier motifs that bogged down "10, 9, 8..." and "Red Sails in the Sunset," and switched to dance floor propulsion. The result was the politco-rock of "Beds are Burning" became an international smash both on rock radio and in the clubs. Yet it came with absolutely no condensation of the band's roots; the songs were as fiery and as socially spiked as ever.

In fact, this may have been Midnight Oil's most homeland-centric album. Everything from the single to the closing "Sometimes" addresses issues in some form or another. Some are blatant ("Beds are Burning's" pointed look at aboriginal rights, "The Dead Heart's" anti-mining rant) to oblique (the plea to not sell out on "Sometimes" and "Arctic World"). Even the weaker material ("Whoah") would be great on a lesser album. It's a shame that few bands have ever tried to follow where Midnight Oil's been a long time since a band so forcefully took a stand AND made a successful commercial run at it.

Given the timing of their breakthrough, "Diesel and Dust" may have been at a moment when being socially and politically actionable was acceptable. 1987-88 were also the years "Joshua Tree" ruled the world and artists like The Call, Peter Gabriel and Simple Minds were making anthemic rock chart-worthy. But no-one mixed it up quite like Midnight Oil, and "Diesel and Dust" was the peak of their curve.

Bonus concert DVD shows the Oils at their incendiary best, and includes the video clip for "Beds Are Burning."


This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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From the Huffington Post:

Editor's note: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has voiced his support for a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. In response, Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns, Jr. (D-Baltimore) wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti urging him to "inhibit such expressions from your employee." In the open letter below, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe responds to Burns.

Dear Emmett C. Burns, Jr.,

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of the United States government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail:

1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents in order to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to argue that the Ravens should silence Brendon Ayanbadejo from voicing his support for same-sex marriage, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, but you come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on Earth would possess you to say something so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person's right to free speech. To call that "hypocritical" would be to do a disservice to the word. "Mindfuckingly, obscenely hypocritical" starts to approach it a little bit.

2. You wrote, "Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement." Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who is, according to your Wikipedia page, "deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland"? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you're going to say that political views have "no place in a sport"? I can't even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for "beautiful oppressionism").

3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different from what you believe, or act differently from you? How does gay marriage affect your life in any way, shape, or form? Are you worried that if gay marriage became legal, all of a sudden you'd start thinking about penis? ("Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!") Will all your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely. Gay people enjoy watching football, too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population, rights like Social Security benefits, childcare tax credits, family and medical leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA health care for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gay Americans? Full-fledged citizens, just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter in some small way causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot-in-mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I'm fairly certain you might need it.

Chris Kluwe

P.S. I've also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage, so you can take your "I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing" and shove it in your closed-minded, totally-lacking-in-empathy pie hole.

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Or was he about to call him a Nickleback Fan?

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Get yourself a song to sing
4 Out Of 5 Stars
Bruce Springsteen is one cross Boss. He sees the country going to hell, he feels the pain of his best friend's death, and he's got a few things he wants to get off his chest. Suits me fine. After the tepid "Working on a Dream" and "Magic," Springsteen gets a belly full of fire and breathes it out on "Wrecking Ball." Every song here is the Bruce we've missed when he sang stuff like "Queen of The Supermarket" or "Girls in Their Summer Clothes." This is Springsteen of "Born In The USA" and "The Rising," the mature, fighting fit man who isn't afraid to speak his mind.

That's obvious from the first song, "We Take Care Of Our Own." If Bruce picked up anything from "The Seger Sessions," it was that a protest song can be as unambiguous as it is forceful. Tightwired between rah-rah patriotism and WTF happened to us ferocity, Bruce tears into a nation "between the shotgun shacks and the superdome," where "the Calvary never came" before neatly tying it to the chorus of "Wherever this Flag is flown, we take care of our own." That old sap Ronnie Reagan could have mistook it for a campaign anthem like he did "Born in The USA." No-one, though, will confuse the vulture capitalists of "Death to My Hometown" with jingoism. It's all but an anthem for the occupy crowd (complete with guest shots from Tom Morello on featured songs).

As for his Big Man, "Land of Hope and Dreams" says it all. If you can't pull it from the heartfelt tribute written on the CD's inner booklet, then let the rising organ and gospel wails will. Like the acoustic tribute "Terry's Song" (the hidden track on "Magic"), it captures the essence of a lifelong friendship in the way I think a lot of Clarence Clemmons' fans would have been hoping for. "Wrecking Ball" is the Springsteen we thought may have gone missing. Yet, like the titular object for which this disc is named, he is crashing through or expectations once again.


This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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U.S. appeals court rules Prop. 8 unconstitutional

The ban on same sex marriage remains in place while the case is appealed to the US Supreme court.
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Tom Morello Turns up The Heat
4 Out of 5 Stars

In his guise as The Nightwatchman, Tom Morello's first two albums were low key visceral affairs, heir apparent to Joe Strummer and Pete Seger protest folkies. Sometime in the last couple of years, he realized that his powerful guitar playing was not antithetical two his new music, and he began work on a new set of songs. Events of 2010 put even more urgency into his writing; Morello was one of the first musicians to take a stand with Wisconsin's Union Members when that state's Governor tried to crush the Wisconsin Unions. It's the place he debuted, on a snowy, cold Wisconsin street, "Union Town."

If you think political rock is a passe genre, then "World Wide Rebel Songs" will probably make you mad. Yet, in a world where tightly controlled radio-playlists won't play anything that rocks the corporate boat, Morello is coming on swinging. "Politics, apocalypse, start to look the same/The price of my redemption will mean the end of living" he barks (with Ben Harper on "Save The Hammer for The Man"), as if the world of conservative politics and rightwing religion were all too happy to get to the same end result. The pun is all but unavoidable in that Morello is raging against the machine on almost every track. "Speak and Make Lightning," he calls out. This time, with his guitar and a full band attack, "World Wide Rebel Songs" lift Morello to his best solo CD and a fighting fit of an album.


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...and if we don't exactly feel fine, we can sure be proud of everything R.E.M. accomplished.

Yes, R.E.M., the outfit that discovered a way forward for guitar-rock in the synthesized '80s, is hanging up the six-strings. After a three-decade run marked by classic albums, sold-out worldwide tours, and even the occasional hit single -- "The One I Love," "Losing My Religion," "Everybody Hurts" -- the storied Athens, Georgia group is calling it quits.

The distinctive R.E.M. sound was one fashioned from old elements. Guitarist Peter Buck drew jangling inspiration from the Byrds and the Beatles' "Rubber Soul." Bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry imparted some of the swing of '60s AM-radio pop and the backline growl of garage rock. And singer Michael Stipe approached his simple folk melodies with the melancholy of James Taylor.

Yet the group, to paraphrase their friend Robyn Hitchcock, spelled a brand new world with the same old letters. With his swirling twelve-string arpeggios, the self-effacing Buck inverted the role of the guitar hero. Mills and Berry drove the songs into murky, kudzu-choked territory. And with his initial onstage shyness, his partially mumbled delivery and allusive lyrics, Stipe redefined what a rock and roll lead singer could do. In a sense, R.E.M. was the first truly egalitarian rock band to hit it big in America. There were no stars; no grandstanding; nobody was mixed any higher than anybody else.

                              On early records, the vocals were often buried behind Buck's deft guitar patterns and Mills' thick, swampy bass. Frequently Mills' backing vocals provided a countermelody as important to the song as the main tune. And Stipe's voice was treated as an instrument like any other -- one more thread in a tapestry of sound -- and the lead singer did not seem to object in the slightest. In so doing, Stipe became the unoffical (and somewhat reluctant) flagbearer for the entire college rock movement then providing an alternative to the endless parade of hair-metal acts on MTV. But upon further inspection, Michael Stipe had quite a lot to say.

"Murmur" (1983), the band's first full-length album, addresses difficulties in communication and being heard: which, as it turned out, accurately represented the frustrations of Generation X, forever drowned out by the voices of the Baby Boomers. "Could it be that one small voice doesn't count in the world?," asked Stipe on "Shaking Through," one of R.E.M.'s first great songs. Stipe was not a storyteller -- instead, fascinated by the sound of words, he painted with phrases, allowing repetition and alteration to carry the emotional weight of his poetry. Sometimes Stipe would change a single word in a sentence, or change a single syllable in a word, and in so doing, deepen the meaning of his verse. It was a technique copied by countless college rock lyricists.

By "Fables of the Reconstruction," (1985) the band's third album, the haze was lifting. R.E.M. became defenders and poets of the American south, incorporating elements of colloquial speech into its songs ("Good Advices," "Can't Get There From Here") . Stipe also became an ardent critic of the Reagan Administration. "Document," the band's most overtly political album, was also its commercial breakthrough. Released in the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal, "Welcome to the Occupation" assailed American intervention in Central America; "Exhuming McCarthy" drew a connection between the Red Scare and then-contemporary foreign policy; "Disturbance at the Heron House" poked fun at the arrogance of the establishment. "It's the End of the World As We Know It" was not an explicitly political song, but it shook the skeleton of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." Once again, R.E.M. had captured the tenor of the times in broken verse. "Document" would be the band's last album for an independent label: after its success, R.E.M. inked a lucrative deal with Warner Brothers. The college rock underground had grown up.

R.E.M.'s first steps as members of the major label establishment were tentative ones: despite spawning hit singles, "Green" (1988) and "Out of Time" (1991) lacked both the focus and the fire of the band's earlier work. But with the elegaic "Automatic For the People" (1992), R.E.M. composed a modern American masterpiece. The album, a series of profound meditations on mortality and perseverance, aches from the first winding riff of opener "Drive" to the final lingering notes of closer "Find the River." But "Automatic" is not depressing: It is a hard Georgia stare at an unbeatable foe who we all must someday face. The band came away from that encounter with their most straightforward song yet -- "Everybody Hurts," principally penned by drummer Berry, with words for a potential suicide so comforting that they could have been penned by a preacher. In one stroke, Stipe the Mysterious had become a Great Communicator.

On subsequent albums for Warner Brothers, R.E.M. chased -- and occasionally captured -- the thoughtful grandeur of "Automatic." But the band never truly recovered from the 1997 departure of Berry, who put away his drumsticks two years after collapsing onstage in Switzerland from the effects of what would later be diagnosed as a brain aneurysm. Stipe, Buck, and Mills never tried to replace Berry; in fact, for many years, they barely tried to rock at all. Yet R.E.M. had one punch left for those who'd counted them out -- "Collapse into Now," released earlier this year, recaptured some of the energy and expansiveness of the group's late-'80s work. At the time of its release, it seemed to be the sound of R.E.M. turning a corner. Now it'll be remembered as the epilogue to one of rock music's most rewarding -- and inspiring -- underdog stories.
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Remember, when Republicans say they care about you, they're lying.

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Some good news in this part of the world. I got news from PA Career Link that the College Grant I've been doing paperwork and tests for since April has finally been approved. This money will cover the costs of a course at Delaware County Community College for Network Administration from Microsoft. Then hopefully lead to a job with a career orientation. Class starts September 20th, two nights a week and runs into January of next year.

Our local Republican Congressmen in the House, Patrick Meehan, held a town meeting here in Springfield last night. Being a pissed-off unemployed constituent, I got there early enough to plop my butt down in the front row. When Representative Meehan arrived, I smiled, shook his hand along with the rest of the first line of attendees, and applauded at the appropriate talking points. Then, as soon as he went to the "Ask a Question" period, I shot my hand up. Since I was being so polite in the opening portion and nicely visible, I was probably the third or fourth person called on. His handler held the mic up to me, and I let him have it with both barrels.

"Representative Meehan, I am one of those 80% of the country frustrated with Congress. I've been laid of from my job and unemployed since January. When you and your fellow freshman Republicans ran for The House last year, it was all about 'jobs, jobs, jobs.' But since you came into office, not a single jobs bill has been introduced in The House. Bills about abortion, gay rights have, but not jobs. I want to know what, when you return to Washington, you, Speaker Boehner, Eric Cantor, who today is saying he won't approve help for hurricane victims without more cuts, are going to do about job creation!"

Cue wild applause.

Pro that he is, Mr Meehan went right to "we must work on bringing down the debt in order to make more jobs...." to which the room began to boo. Also, as soon as your question is done, the handlers race away with the mics so you can't reply. But that was pretty much the point where Mr Meehan began to sweat. I'd say that 70% of the room was not on his team, and the questions were pretty pointed, if at least civil. Only one real wacko, a right-wing nut-job who insisted President Obama was secretly opening sub-prime mortgages to high risk home buyers (IE: the blacks!), to which Mr Meehan was cognizant enough to tell her that he had heard nothing of the sort and did not think this was genuine. He also had his share of supporters in attendence, who lobbed softballs his way and he would smile, give the pat answer, and look for another sympathetic attendee.

However, this was not a coming out party for the guy. At 8 PM he stopped solid and I jumped from my chair, grabbed his hand in a firm handshake and thanked him for taking my question. I also repeated that I fully expected him to do more than what was going on and to see some work done. I got the feeling he was sincere if uncomfortable, and was taken aback by the forcefulness of the crowd (my guess about 100 people).

In storm news, my Mom finally got her power on yesterday afternoon after downed trees took out the electric in Northern Lebanon, and my Dad's electric came on yesterday morning. I want to find George Will, who whined that Hurricane Irene was overhyped, and lock him in a house with no electric and water for four days, then let him and his awful toupee come out and give an update. Same with Eric Cantor, whom I am beginning to suspect is a sociopath when it comes to helping the American Public vs GOP.
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Gasland Set your sinks on fire

4 Out of 5 Stars

You've probably seen all the America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) commercials of late, cheerfully consoling us that safe, clean, natural gas can be easily extracted from the ground while happy people live above, leading clean and healthier lives. The Oscar nominated GASLAND exposes the corporate lie of Natural Gas mining. From the start, where filmmaker Josh Fox receives a letter offering him something near $100,000 for the rights to drill gas from his mountain and creekside home in upstate Pennsylvania, to the end, where you watch New York City and State lawmakers fight to keep the watershed that provides millions of people from polluted drinking water, Fox explores how the Power Companies have managed to manipulate the system with the help of corrupt and gullible politicians the outright greed of the Bush/Cheney administration.

The central point of GASLAND is that, in 2005, the EPA made changes in environmental policy that are called "The Halliburton Loophole." That rule, snuck through by Cheney and his secretive energy board buddies (including then CEO of Enron, Ken Lay), exempted the Halliburton developed technology of hydraulic fracturing (now widely known as 'fracking') from regulations of the old Clean Water Act. The end result? Drilling for natural gas and the unbelievable amount of water and chemicals pumped into the ground required to create a well are all but completely exempt from regulations regarding the toxins that are needed to extract the gas.

Of course, all the companies involved say that they have nothing to do with hundreds of drinking wells across the country suddenly turning unsafe withing weeks of fracking. Or animals getting sick and losing their hair. Or the methane explosions of people's homes. Or the mass die-offs of animals and fish when chemicals leak into a stream. But Fox, who tried to contact companies and individuals in mining throughout the course of his investigation gets the same treatment as the folks in states across the country; either "no comment" or massive run-arounds. When a State Environmental Agency head in Pennsylvania tells Fox that he'd help Fox and other PA citizens of Dimok (the first town Fox visits), only to note when the meeting ends that the state slashed the office's budget and basically dismantled it.

But more revealing than anything else in the movie is the notorious flaming sink footage. When fracking shatters the aquifer of a peace of land, the gases seep into the water table. The chemicals used to pump the gas out also get into the water, and before you know it, you have flammable tapwater. It's not just that water that is getting mixed up, the air outside the well is loading up with toxins to the point where a rural area of Colorado where the population is approximately one person per square mile is as dangerous or more so than a bad day in Los Angeles. GASLAND serves as a warning and reminder; the same smiling advertisers trying to convince you that clean, accessible natural gas is not threat to you at all are the same folks that told you off-shore drilling was both safe and existing regulations guaranteed that even if the miniscule chance accident were to ever take place, they could stop it from becoming disastrous.

When you watch GASLAND, there will probably be a detractor ready to tell you that the film is just lefty propaganda. Just remember the last sentence of the previous paragraph, and make sure to remind your companion of two little words. Deepwater Horizon.

Inside Job  Fuel Food, Inc. Restrepo Blue Gold: World Water Wars
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