THE STATUE OF LIBERTY WEEPS AS PRESIDENT TRUMP TARGETS MEXICANS AND MUSLIMS

Posted on the Anne Frank Center For Mutual Respect’s Facebook page:

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY WEEPS
AS PRESIDENT TRUMP TARGETS
MEXICANS AND MUSLIMS

Statement of Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, the U.S. civil and human rights organization among Anne Frank organizations worldwide:

As President Trump prepares orders to wall out Mexicans and shut out refugees from America, today marks one of the most hateful days in our nation’s history. Donald Trump is retracting the promise of American freedom to an extent we have not seen from a President since Franklin Roosevelt forced Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II. Today the Statue of Liberty weeps over President Trump’s discrimination.

President Trump is beyond the wrong side of history. He is driving our nation off a moral cliff.

When President Trump uses national security as a guise for racism, he doesn’t strengthen our national security. He compromises our national security by engendering disrespect for America by people around the world.

Make no mistake, suspending visas for citizens of Middle Eastern and African countries is not called national security. It’s called prejudice.

President Trump is now exacerbating the largest global refugee crisis in history. His slamming America’s doors on the starving, the wounded and the abused is a grotesque blot on our nation’s history of freedom. The President’s actions are an embarrassment to the timeless vision of America as inscribed by Emma Lazarus to “give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Demonizing refugees and immigrants, and spending billions of taxpayer dollars to keep them out of our nation, will go down in American history as one of the most tragic deviations from our national conscience.

Oscar Nominations for 2017

As always, the Oscars are a big deal to me. As political as they are, it was always my dream to one day win one and then go on the Tonight Show and tell a few jokes to Johnny Carson and walk away with Raquel Welch. I’m sure that eventually I will realize that’s not going to happen but it still hasn’t quite sunk in.

Anyway, here’s the full list, grabbed from Vulture. I haven’t seen too many yet, as nominated pictures tend to come towards the end of the year and may be slow to screen internationally. So far the biggest surprise I’m seeing is that Martin Scorsese’s passion project Silence was only nominated for cinematography, and that I’m extremely less than thrilled to see Hollywood re-embrace Mel Gibson with nominations for best picture and director and 4 more nominations for Hacksaw Ridge. Not so surprised that there were zero nominations for Birth of a Nation, which at one point was seen as a sure thing.

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Manila – It’s the Little Things

Yeah. More bitching and moaning. But a lot of you seem to enjoy it!

When you are a foreign resident here, you are required to show up in person at the Bureau of Immigration every January to prove you are still alive and in the Philippines. You can fill out the relevant form for this online but you are still required to make an appearance. I get the feeling it is one of those “we make you do it because we can” things.

The main office of the BI is in Intramuros. It is just 14 miles from where I live but it takes longer to drive there than it does to fly from Manila to Hong Kong. The BI website lists an office in Makati. I tried to contact that office based upon the information available on their web site – I tried calling but the “main number” rings over to a fax machine and an email I sent to them was returned as undeliverable. This is a common factor with Philippines government web sites – unreliable, confusing and/or missing information.

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New Photo Gallery – Jeff Beck in Hong Kong 2010

I’ve added a photo gallery of my pictures of Jeff Beck, who appeared in Hong Kong at Asiaworld on March 22, 2010. The shot above is my current favorite from the batch.

As I mentioned earlier, as I’m allowing Spike’s Photos to wind down, I’m going to be adding photo galleries here. Rather than just copying over the photos from seven years ago, I’ve gone back into Lightroom and “remastered” them. Lightroom is a much better program and I’m much better with it than seven years ago.

The band included the great Narada Michael Walden on drums, Rhonda Smith on bass and Jason Rebello on keyboards.

While I’ve seen Beck live many times, stretching back to 1974 or 1975, this was his first time playing a concert in Hong Kong. And it was my first time having a “3 songs, no flash” pass for a major concert in Hong Kong. I’m really thrilled with how well these shots turned out (although when I go back to them now and see the settings I used, I’m amazed that they came out as well as they did).

I did get a little bit punch drunk while re-processing the photos, pushing things a bit to see just what I could do with them. They’re not in the gallery but I’ll show a few of them to you here.

 

I’m undecided about the results – they’re either artistic and unique or they’re goofy as fuck. You tell me.

Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photo – Photo Gallery

I’m now going to be adding Photo Galleries here (rather than on Spike’s Photos). You can see there’s now a Photo Galleries item on the top menu. I might add in some of the older galleries soon.

I’m kicking this off with a gallery of what I think are my best shots from the OPM Against Drugs Festival held in Manila on January 14, 2017.  Here’s a few sample shots:

Click here to see the full gallery!

 

 

Manila – OPM Against Drugs Festival Photos Part 1

January 14, 2017 – 100 bands, 5 stages for the OPM (Original Pilipino Music) Against Drugs Festival produced by Rakrakan. The 5 themed stages were Move, Indie, Groove, Mosh and Slam. (I won’t comment on the “Against Drugs” bit.)

My friends Tribo Subculture were one of the bands appearing on the Slam stage and they arranged an all-access pass for me.  The festival kicked off around noon but I didn’t get there until around 10 PM or so, which gave me time to shoot some of the bands, wander around the crowd a bit, get some food, gaze at the “merch”, and of course enjoy the music that I heard.

I’m told that last year they had 24,000 people there and this year it was up to 35,000. Well, advance ticket prices were just P500 (that’s around US$10) and draft Red Horse Beer was just P50, so why wouldn’t you go if you could? The crowd was remarkably peaceful and friendly and I thought it was a great event.

I’m still working my way through the photos I shot but here are some of my favorites so far:

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Albums You Loved as a Teenager

A few people are posting variations on this new meme on Facebook – list the ten albums you loved most as a teenager.

For me, there are many examples of albums that were released when I was a teenager that I didn’t love at the time, and this includes albums that perennially feature in other top ten lists I attempt to do. Albums like The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East, Derek and the Dominos’ Layla and the entire output from the Velvet Underground.

I chose to select albums that I remember loving as a teenager, even if I don’t especially love them now or play them that often any more. But these albums were huge to me between the ages of 13 and 19 (for me that was 1967 to 1973) and very influential in my development, for better or worse. Most but not all of them have stood the test of time for me and I still play them almost 50 (gulp!) years later.

Here they are, in random order:

  1. The Beatles – The Beatles (aka The White Album) – what I remember is that this is the first time I was reading about an album before it came out (I had just started reading Rolling Stone Magazine), anticipated like crazy, and then it lived up to all of my expectations. These days I’d probably choose Revolver or Abbey Road as my favorite Beatles album but I still love this one too.
  2. The Mothers of Invention – Freak Out (or Uncle Meat) – I found Freak Out in the New York Public Library, (Fordham Road branch in The Bronx) which had a record section, and even a rock record section. They had this! The music was so strange and really drew me in. The list of names on the rear cover (most of which I’d never heard of) intrigued me. There was no Wikipedia to research them on, but they stayed with me. I think Uncle Meat, which came out when I was around 15, was an even bigger influence on me, but Freak Out was the first.  Yeah, I know you can’t read the names on the cover in the image below, so click here to find out more.
  3. Cream – Wheels of Fire – This is the first album I can remember listening to and thinking to my young self, “Is it possible The Beatles are no longer my favorite band?” I consider this album my real introduction to the blues. Listening to this, reading interviews with them, directly led me to Robert Johnson and all of the great Chess artists.
  4. The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request – Yeah, this one. Maybe it’s their worst album (up until almost everything from the 80’s onwards) but it was the first Stones album I bought. It had the 3D cover (I still have it). I had no idea what was going on with the music here but I still think the songs themselves were pretty damned good.
  5. Big Brother and the Holding Company – Cheap Thrills – My introduction to Janis Joplin, her best album even though Big Brother was a pretty sub-standard backing band. I played this over and over and over. My dad asked me, “Why is that white girl trying to sound black?” Which completely stumped me. I had no idea how to answer that other than, “No, she’s not, she’s sounding like herself.” It was also my introduction to the art of R. Crumb! 
  6. Pink Floyd – Meddle – Of course it’s tempting to go for Dark Side. But this was the first Pink Floyd album I got. I lost track of how many times I got stoned and laughed hysterically at “One of These Days” or how many times I turned out the lights, put on the headphones, and really concentrated on “Echoes.”
  7. Grateful Dead – Live/Dead – I really wore this album out. I never played Side 4 but I couldn’t play the other 3 sides enough. Everyone else I knew hated the Dead back then and I probably drove them crazy playing this over and over and over again.
  8. Al Kooper – I Stand Alone – Most of you don’t know who Al Kooper is, which is a shame. Blues Project, Blood Sweat and Tears, Super Session; session work and producing Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Stones and many others. A huge personal favorite. There was a magazine called Eye. It came with a flexi-disc. The disc had one track from the upcoming Blood Sweat and Tears album (the first after Kooper left and was replaced by David Clayton-Thomas) and a weird collage of sounds from Kooper’s first solo album. I bought the Al Kooper album. I did not buy the BS&T album. (I also saw him live for the first time around this time, the “Al Kooper Big Band,” which included Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums.) 
  9. Lenny Bruce – The Berkeley Concert – I had no idea who Lenny Bruce was before I bought this. After this I became obsessed with him. This was released on Frank Zappa’s Bizarre label and I bought anything Zappa put out. This 2 LP set was a complete and unedited show from the last years of Bruce’s life. Not so much a collection of stand-up routines as much as it was him talking about his legal cases, free speech, religion, basic human rights. It’s possible that this album is more responsible for how I think and what I believe than anything else.
  10. Delaney & Bonnie – On Tour w/ Eric Clapton – I saw them at the Fillmore East. I still consider it one of the best live shows I ever attended.
  11. Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers – I don’t know why I loved this album so much back in the day. I recall playing the hell out of it. I don’t think it has aged well.
  12. The Who – Tommy – Because I saw them play it live at the Fillmore East twice. But I haven’t been able to listen to this in decades because it was everywhere and I just got sick of it. Maybe some day I can go back to it and appreciate it again. But not yet.
  13. Tim Buckley – Blue Afternoon – Again, I bought this because it was on Zappa’s Straight label. I had no idea who he was at the time but I became an instant fan. This was one of his more mainstream efforts (as opposed to the extreme weirdness of “Lorca” and “Starsailor”). His voice of course was unique and I still play his albums a lot, I can’t say that about Jeff Buckley.
  14. Bonzo Dog Band – Tadpoles. OMG, I almost omitted this from the list. I played this constantly. Probably these days I’d pick their second album (The Doughnut in Grannie’s Greenhouse, which in the U.S. was called Urban Spaceman) as my favorite of theirs, but at the time, this was huge for me. 

Yeah, that’s 14, not 10, because once I get started I can’t stop, and I could have kept going, believe me.

But what about you? What were some of your favorite albums when you were a teenager? Are they still your favorites now?

 

 

 

A Week In Hong Kong

I’ve just returned home after a week in Hong Kong.

The end of this month marks two years since I made the move to Manila. People always ask me if I miss Hong Kong and I do, to some extent, but in the past two years I’ve gotten back there at least once every 2 or 3 months, usually just for 3 or 4 days at a time, so it always feels a bit hectic, trying to fit in all the things I want to do.

This trip ended up being 8 days and spanning a weekend. I was there alone as my wife had several important things to take care of back home and, perhaps surprising to most of you, I did my best to stay out of trouble during the trip.

My company puts me into a small hotel on Lockhart Road smack in the middle of the bar area but also just a 2 minute walk to the office. The hotel is relatively new and the rooms are crazy small. How small? There’s a closet with four hangers but no other place to put your clothes other than living out of a suitcase or stacking them on the floor of the closet. There is one chair, an uncomfortable and unpadded wooden chair by the desk, though in some rooms the desk is so close to the bed that there’s no way to pull the chair out.

The entire hotel is non-smoking, which means every hour I’m standing in front of the hotel having a cigarette and watching what’s happening along Lockhart Road. Standing there I seem to be a magnet for all of the ladyboys and mainland Chinese streetwalkers – it’s not difficult to say no.

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Donald Trump – New Shit Has Come to Light

I’m sure I’m not the only person who read this in the New York Times on Sunday:

President-elect Donald J. Trump, expressing lingering skepticism about intelligence assessments of Russian interference in the election, said on Saturday evening that he knew “things that other people don’t know” about the hacking, and that the information would be revealed “on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

And then thought immediately of The Big Lebowski:

And of course there is only one proper response to that:

Which reminds me of Donald Trump’s hair:

As for the source of the new shit that Donnie says has come to light, one presumes it was:

 

 

The End of Another Year, Good Fucking Riddance

I’m not superstitious but I think we like to hold onto superstitions, even if we don’t entirely believe in them, because they can provide some degree of hope or comfort.

So over the summer I decided that I must have done something terribly wrong in 2009 that led to 7 years of bad luck, because if I was indeed cursed for stepping on a crack or pissing off an ex-girlfriend then 2016 would be the end of those 7 years, wouldn’t it? I marked the start of 7 bad years from the time that I was included in Warner Bros’s global IT lay-off, which was then followed by a series of bad jobs and a few other incidents that I prefer not to relive.

So if true, that would be comforting, wouldn’t it? Because by my reckoning those 7 years were coming to an end.

But if I was having 7 years of bad luck, the 7th year came to a close and the bad luck seemed to continue – my mother died, Trump was elected and a few other things I won’t mention but a little bit of this and a whole lot of that.  Stress levels increased, hair on top of my head decreased.

But if I really want to dig into it, I can’t say that the past 7 years were all bad, can I? After all, I got married three years ago, our relationship grows stronger every year, we’re living in a house we love, the bills are all paid every month and we go to sleep in a bedroom the size of most Hong Kong apartments in a king size bed with full stomachs. We have our health, mostly. We have our friends and family – and my family, whom I’ve always kept at a literal and metaphorical distance, was so amazingly supportive when my mother died, so helpful to me when dealing with her funeral and all of the other things one has to do in that kind of situation.

We mark the beginning of a new year with optimism for the year ahead. I am not feeling very optimistic about the world in 2017. Not at all. And yet I retain some degree of optimism for myself.

I don’t believe in destiny or fate (I believe in karma but I don’t think there’s anything supernatural or spiritual to it) and I believe we make our own luck. If I have not been “lucky” in past years, the fault is nobody else’s but mine.

With that in mind, my resolution for 2017 is to think about those things that have impeded me in the past and what I need to change in myself in order to change my luck. My plan for 2017 is to lose these blues I found and go down to Lucky Town.

I had some victory that was just failure in deceit
Now the joke’s coming up through the soles of my feet
I been a long time walking on fortune’s cane
Tonight I’m stepping lightly and I’m feeling no pain

Well here’s to your good looks baby now here’s to my health
Here’s to the loaded places that we take ourselves
When it comes to luck you make your own
Tonight I have dirt on my hands but I’m building me a new home

Down in Lucky Town
Down in Lucky Town
I’m gonna lose these blues I’ve found
Down in Lucky Town