The track we didn’t use at the TJ Miller show in June in LA

This is TJ Miller

Hey All – I haven’t posted in an awfully long time because of the sudden eruption of a large, ongoing family crisis. The crisis remains rather large and ongoing, but I’m trying to regain some measure of sanity by reviving some of my “normal” activities, rather than doing nothing but dealing with constant emergencies, and hyperventilating every time the phone rings. So why not a blog post?

As I mentioned in the previous post so long ago, I went to LA to consort, cavort, and provide musical support for stand-up comedian and actor TJ Miller. Among other activities, I performed at Largo as the closer of TJ’s “Mayhem” evening, playing “a series of recorded comedy routines mashed up over hot breaks.”

I actually played v2 of that mix at Largo; v1 ran a bit long (20 min.) and reflected my bias towards comedians I was already familiar with. V2 was edited down to just under 15 minutes, and added some excellent newer people TJ steered me towards, like Maria Bamford and Katt Williams, among others.

I was quite pleased with both versions; v2 remains in the TJ archives, but if you’re interested, here’s a link to download v1. (19 mg.)

To break up the visual monotony of dumpy-guy-crouched-over-laptop-alone-onstage, TJ thoughtfully provided several popper/locker/breakdancers who shot out of the wings every few minutes and danced to the tracks. Not my regular gig; I had a ball.

Please post any reactions to the track in the comments; I’m curious to know what you think.

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Stein makes a laughably short appearance in L.A. Don’t blink.

Sparing you a lot of tiresome explanation, I’ll say only that I’m honored to be appearing as part of the bill “TJ Miller Makes Mayhem” at Largo, Sunday, June 5 at 8 PM. I’ll be onstage for about 15 minutes or so, DJ’ing a series of recorded comedy routines mashed up over hot breaks. I’ll be assisted occasionally by some of TJ’s friends, who will draw attention away from the dizzying spectacle of me, standing almost motionless, gazing into my laptop. Every once in a while, I’ll twitch.

But my material is new, and fun to listen to. It’s a hot 15 minutes. Listen for Roseanne Barr, Seinfeld, Louis CK, Katt Williams, and others too numerous to mention.

TJ’s a pisser, and so are his friends. A laughable evening is assured.

Here’s a clip of TJ auditioning for his role as a park ranger in Yogi Bear 3D.

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Chomsky drops real science on the state of things

Is The World Too Big To Fail?

“There was also a sharp change in the U.S. economy in the 1970s, towards financialization and export of production. A variety of factors converged to create a vicious cycle of radical concentration of wealth, primarily in the top fraction of 1% of the population — mostly CEOs, hedge-fund managers, and the like. That leads to the concentration of political power, hence state policies to increase economic concentration: fiscal policies, rules of corporate governance, deregulation, and much more. Meanwhile the costs of electoral campaigns skyrocketed, driving the parties into the pockets of concentrated capital, increasingly financial: the Republicans reflexively, the Democrats — by now what used to be moderate Republicans — not far behind.

“Elections have become a charade, run by the public relations industry. After his 2008 victory, Obama won an award from the industry for the best marketing campaign of the year. Executives were euphoric. In the business press they explained that they had been marketing candidates like other commodities since Ronald Reagan, but 2008 was their greatest achievement and would change the style in corporate boardrooms. The 2012 election is expected to cost $2 billion, mostly in corporate funding. Small wonder that Obama is selecting business leaders for top positions.]”


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Pure self-promotion (and several downloads, gratis)

Kembrew Mcleod – author, teacher, artist, filmmaker, and debonair man-about-town – wrote a book specifically about hiphop sampling called Creative License. It’s a companion piece to his film Copyright Criminals. He asked me to put together a mix of Golden Age hiphop stuff to accompany the book, and you can download the 40 minute piece from Illegal Art, label of the stars.


A very kind and thorough gent named David Taylor put together a lot of my uncollected material and posted it with an interview on his excellent blog “The Unheard Music.” He’s got stuff on there I forgot I did. You might find some of it interesting.


Dennis Coffey is a cosmically bad-ass guitarist, funky music a specialty. Former Motown session person, author, and creator of some of the most awesome old-school breaks in hiphop (like Scorpio, son). He’s got a new eponymous LP out (very nice work, too; he hasn’t lost step), and I did a few remixes of tracks, one of which is coming out as a limited edition Record Store Day 7″. If I can get permission from the people involved, I’ll post it.




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The quilt thing; red and white and enormous (now with photos)

Better than the f*cking circus, you betcha

If you’re not excited by quilts, then move along, move along. And if you’re not in New York between March 25 – 30, it doesn’t matter if you like quilts or not.

I’ll merely point out that the Museum Of American Folk Art will be taking over the Park Avenue Armory (an awesomely huge space) between the 25th and 30th of March, and is putting on a free free FREE show of 650 – yes, SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY red and white quilts.

Why red and white, you ask? Because it’s traditional. And 650 is only A PORTION of the quilt collection owned by Joanna S. Rose, a person who knows how to spend her money wisely (at least in my opinion).

If the exhibition is half as wonderful as the Photoshop rendering done by the exhibition company (above), it will be mind-blowing. If you can make it by, say hello to me. I’ll be sitting in the corner, drooling.

The NY Times rundown on the show.

ADDED: Photos taken at the exhibition. I’ve been twice already, and I’m planning on going tomorrow (Monday) before the show ends on Wednesday. If you can possibly make it, check this out; it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I don’t want to hear any bs about “Quilts? I’m just not into quilts.”

The armory sans quilts


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A few examples of mass hysteria in US history (and a new addition)

An American Tradition

A few months ago, a friend asked me my opinion as to how the right-wing craziness we’re witnessing in this country came about. Unfortunately, I couldn’t marshal a coherent response at the time, and fell back into pounding on the table, hollering and cursing. It bothered me that I didn’t give him a decent rundown of what I consider the history of mob madness in the US, and I’ve finally gathered a few examples of a true American tradition – Fear of The Other.

1) The Salem Witch Trials (1600’s) (burning of a “witch” pictured above)

One of  the defining examples of the American character, this collective seizure of Puritan colonists in the New World by the hysterical belief of Satanism in their midst truly set the example for what came after. A few pre-teen girls began to have “visions,” and were “seized by the Devil,” who was summoned to mess with them by…  the people they didn’t like. These people were then “tried,” tortured, and, usually, burned at the stake.

An American Inquisition, which prepared the way for many movements that came after.

2) Lynching in the United States (1860 – 1960)

Briefly, the Confederate states – after losing the Civil War – had visited upon them the ultimate indignity: Reconstruction, which gave freedmen (former slaves) the rights of human beings. That is to say, desegregation. That didn’t go over so well in the South (and still doesn’t, to some extent, anywhere in the US), and for about 100 years, any black person in the South accused (not convicted of any crime) of looking at a white woman, whistling at a white woman, touching a white woman, talking back to a white person, refusing to step into the gutter when a white person passed on the sidewalk, or in some way upsetting the local crackers was liable to be hauled from their house or jail cell by a mob, mutilated in a ghastly fashion, hung, and then burnt to a crisp. All governments – state or federal – and their agencies (like the cops) simply ignored this. You could buy picture postcards from proud local merchants of notable area lynchings.

A labor union's headquarters after a Palmer raid

3) The Red Scare and The Palmer Raids (first 1919 – 1920)

Besides an abiding fear of people of color, the greatest mass hysteria in the US has been generated by fear of Communism. Any sort of collective effort by people not in power – the efforts of laboring people to form unions, for instance – has been tarred with the epithet “Communist.” Free speech, the right of assembly, the right to privacy, the right to earn a living – none of that stands up in the tide of anti-communist madness. The Palmer raids were essentially the illegal kidnapping and deportation of any “radicals” (i.e.; labor and union leaders) who appeared on a list compiled by the US Attorney General.

4) Japanese American internment during WWII (1942)

After Pearl Harbor, xenophobia towards everything Asian spread through the US, leading to the building of a series of domestic concentration camps for the confinement of thousands of Japanes and Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast of the US. Without trial, these people had their businesses confiscated and their homes stolen (permanently) while they were moved to godforsaken settlements hundreds or  thousands of miles away from their homes.

Waving his lunch list and calling it the names of Communists in the federal government

5) The Second Red Scare (1940’s – 1950’s) – McCarthyism, Joe McCarthy, and the blacklist

One of the truly wild (and modern) forms of manufactured political hysteria (see what I’m getting at?) was the rise of an alcoholic Senator named Joseph McCarthy after the end of WWII. To condense a long story, the Republican party was fading into insignificance after FDR and the Democrats managed to drag the country out of the Hoover/Mellon Great Depression and then engineered the US victory in WWII. What to do? Joe McCarthy and his never-verified-even-once accusations that the US government had been thoroughly infiltrated by Communists – that’s what he said, yo – managed to plunge the country into a cesspool of paranoia and fascism the Republicans exploited to the hilt. Thousands of people – teachers, public workers, anyone really – lost their jobs because they either wouldn’t sign “loyalty oaths,” or because they wouldn’t “inform” on their friends and neighbors, or because someone saw them actually reading a book (it’s true).

He was aided in his disgusting efforts by none other than Roy Cohn, who became a famous political fixer and all-around sleazebag in New York. Nixon trailed along after them, waiting for his time in the spotlight.

There’s a lot of great stuff on YouTube showing this guy’s successful efforts to derail civil society; this is an excerpt from an Edward R. Murrow broadcast on CBS (back when the network wasn’t complete trash, if you can believe it) refuting McCarthy’s lies:

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The difference, of course, is that today, rather than stand up to this pig, the networks would be in a bidding war to hire him as an “analyst.” His spirit hovers over Fox; in fact, Glenn Beck is channeling him.

6) Satanic Day Care Scandals (1980’s)

In a situation with certain distinct resemblances to the American witch trials (see #1, above), some day care providers in the US were, during the 1980’s, accused of abusing children in satanic rituals. Their accusers? Children who had been coached by traveling “experts” to “remember” satanic child abuse by day care centers. No cross-examination of the children was allowed; most of them weren’t even present in the courtrooms. A national moral panic, fueled by trash like the book above and dozens of unbalanced fundamentalist parents ensued. Trials were held all over the US. One trial, the McMartin preschool trial, turned into the most expensive criminal trial in US history.

Was there satanic abuse? Hell no. Almost all of the people accused were acquitted, and successfully sued their accusers for millions of dollars in damages and settlements. But the newspapers and TV networks reported this garbage with straight faces, in the same “he said – she said” fashion they report any accusation today.

So this is by way of apology to my friend. I couldn’t organize my thoughts so many months ago when he asked me my opinion, and it’s been bothering me ever since. I suppose my point is that the haters in right-wing media, Sarah Palin, and the Tea-Partyers are part of a long American tradition of hysterics. What they say and believe elevates illogic, patriotism, hatred, paranoia, and fundamentalist religion over democracy and reason. That’s the way hysteria works, and it’s a basic part of The American Way.



Paul Krugman’s column on “Pretending To Be Crazy As A Career Strategy.”


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