Politics Rochester

Donald Trump vs. Water Street Music Hall

It’s hardly the most important issue in the campaign. I doubt we’ll see national press coverage of the issue. But it strikes me as ironic that in the same week that the Water Street Music Hall gets shut down for violence that happens outside of it’s walls, Donald Trump fully expects to take zero responsibility for the violence that has happened in the same room in which he was speaking.

It isn’t at all surprising given the primary season so far. Even less so as he’s in the midst of a press conference called for the sole purpose of bullying Marco Rubio.

In fact, based on the below quote, he can’t manage to get his head out of his own ass long enough to realize what is a shocking problem with the optics of his campaign. Also: his bully supporters see no problem with it, either.

Trump on the Crowd Melees | Talking Points Memo

TRUMP: Well, I have nothing to do with it. When you have 25,000 people in a building — you know, today we had to send away so many thousands of people, we couldn’t get them in. If you have that many people, if you have four or five people or ten people stand up out of 22,000 that are in this building that I’m speaking to, a very great entertainer said, Donald, you’re the biggest draw in the world without a guitar, which is sort of an interesting —

Source: Trump on the Crowd Melees


Spock got robbed: after Leonard Nimoy’s passing, the infamous Bilbo music video.

Now that some time has passed since Leonard Nimoy’s death and we’ve all had time to process, can we discuss the infamous “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” that he recorded? I mean, it’s been featured on everything from Entertainment Tonight to Brother Wease’s shows as Exhibit A of celebrity awkwardness. But have we ever taken an honest look at it?

The truth of the matter is this: people hate nerds. And before the Internet, nerds had no particular recourse. We all had to just sit and take it while popular culture beat up on everything science fiction and fantasy that lacked the necessary gravitas. Even Star Trek TOS, which for the most part received popular respect, remains the go-to nerd semaphore.

Meanwhile, the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins is an actual ballad in the classical sense. Everything about it, including Nimoy’s baritone voice, is authentic to the genre. It is a storytelling song with a simple melody and repeated chorus. It uses minimal harmony and focuses instead on the basic melody and simple rhythm. It is, in short, everything that modern American music is not. The whole genre is an open target for nerd jokes.

So, put Spock together with a classical ballad and it is practically an anti-nerd singularity. A perfect storm of geek that combines both science fiction and fantasy with a healthy scoop of awkwardly-uncool music. Of course, everybody laughs at it.

On the other hand, this video does not help one bit. Who the hell choreographed it? And had they ever heard of either a Hobbit or J.R.R Tolkien before preparing for the show? I doubt it. Because Bilbo is not, as the choreography suggests, a flaming-gay Keebler elf on Molly. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: some of my best friends are gay Keebler elves with a taste for Molly.

Leonard Nimoy and some Hobbits. I guess.
I mean, for fuck’s sake, people. What the shit is this?

If this video seems awkward and silly to you now, just imagine what popular culture would have done with it in the homophobic 60’s? It just seems to confirm and amplify the unmanliness of geek culture. Even if he got to spend several hours in the company of comely lady dancers, I suspect even Nimoy himself knew this wasn’t the way his imagined hero was supposed to have been portrayed. Even as he spent who-knows-how-many hours filming this god-awful segment for some long-gone variety show.

Personally, I think Spock got robbed. I think he recorded a perfectly good song about J.R.R. Tolkien’s diminutive hero that he spent a lifetime having to defend as “just good fun,” whenever some jackass reporter wanted to poke geek culture in the eye. I think that more than any other hero of the sci-fi genre, Leonard Nimoy took a heaping helping of shit to defend not simply his artistic vision, but an entire culture that wouldn’t get it’s chance to speak for another forty years.

I’m not suggesting that we declare The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins as the geek national anthem. But after more than forty years, I think we can give ol’ Spock a break on this one. He wrote a decent song. It was never going to top the charts. Let it go.


The Great DFE (musical) Turkey Hunt! Happening now!

Call me crazy, but I’ve never really been able to “get” the whole Thanksgiving thing. As a kid, I found the holiday annoying because it meant my cousins and I (which in reality, just meant me I since I was the youngest and smallest) would get stuck washing a ton of dishes while the adults napped. They would of course always wake up right around the time the dishes would be done and want coffee and pie which would then mean more dishes to wash, so yeah – I can’t really remember ever looking forward to Thanksgiving.

As an adult, I still have trouble wrapping my head around it. Never mind the fact that the holiday’s historical relevance makes no sense whatsoever, I’m just not a fan of gorging myself to the point of being stuffed , nor do I enjoy shopping, so for me, it’s always just been a random paid holiday, which is fine in my book. Sure, taking inventory of the things you’re thankful for is great practice, and since I couldn’t care less about the holiday for myself, I plan to spend it volunteering somewhere, which I’m sure will be a great way to spend my time. However, as a whole, I still give Thanksgiving a giant WTF. Sorry, Mr. Turkey.

While I may not be big on Thanksgiving, I do very much enjoy both music and embracing the ridiculous things in life; and what says “Happy Thanksgiving!” quite like a playlist full of the worst songs ever to make their way into your ear canals? According to us here at DFE, nothing! So that’s exactly what we’re doing – Turkey Day Turkeys, coming your way just in time for Thanksgiving 2012!

If you’re like me and the biggest celebration you have on your Thanksgiving agenda is a Bloody Mary while watching the Macy’s Parade (and I know there are at least a few of you out there!), help us rack our brains for the best – and by default, worst – songs you’ve ever heard in your dentist’s chair or gyno’s waiting room and let us have it in the comment section below! At the very least, it will give you something to torture your dish washing slave younger cousins with after your dinner buzz.

So, Spotify friends, to keep up with the list, subscribe to our set list here.


ASCAP wants performance royalties from iTunes

Radio people know all about it. When a song is played on the radio – a public “performance” of music by an artist – that artist is entitled to a performance royalty. The artist gets paid a penny or two for each “performance” of their song and really, that’s the way most bands get paid, as their albums almost never really clear the cost of production.

But now ASCAP – the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers – wants to extend those same rights onto download sites like iTunes, Amazon and others. As the article below discusses, that idea has been scuttled by a lower Federal court and now the SCOTUS refuses to hear the case. Don’t think this will be the end of it, though.

Here’s the thing: its hard to imagine how buying a single MP3 differs from buying a CD, the process of which does not involve paying performance royalties. Spotify? Pandora? They probably should be paying performance royalties – I have no idea if they do.

Supreme Court Declines Music Download Case | Threat Level |


Rochester Jazz Fest: Point of Order: What the Hell is “Jazz?”

The dissection and analysis of Rochester’s biggest festival, the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival continues. And I for one couldn’t be happier. Its wonderful beyond words for a person who has been so active in the musical community (admittedly years ago) to see a really vibrant debate on a genuinely successful musical endevour. Most any musician in this town is bored to tears of the foot-shuffling, “we have no music scene” mope-fest that predominates most of the discussion much of the time.

@roccitynews (City Newspaper)’s Mary Anna Towler discusses the crowds and selection of music, much the topic here and on the @13wham news blog with @rachbarnhart (Rachel Barnhart) and @scarroll13 (Sean Carroll) weighing in. But I had to point out one bit of silliness that has permeated the discussion that Mrs. Towler addresses:

Nugent’s talking about adding more events – but he says they’d likely be free outdoor-stage events. Ummm… I like the outdoor events. But they are trending more toward rock – or jazzy music so loud that it feels like rock. And while I’m all for as much rock as we can stage in the summer – and all for doing whatever we can to attract young adults – too many loud, rock-like events could change the tone of the Jazz Festival. This year, frankly, we seemed to be at a tipping point.

Oh, boy. Not to get all music history on you, but Jethro Tull and King Crimson played jazz festivals all the time. Is Spiro Gyra a rock act or a jazz act? What the hell is Bela Fleck’s music? Dave Matthews? Steely Dan?

The list goes on and on, but you see the problem. There is no “Jazz.” There is only a sliding scale between a huge variety of genres, nor should we shy away from that panoply of sounds if we want a real jazz festival. Yes, there’s room for a Dixieland band and a Glen Miller tribute, if that’s what some people insist on seeing as “jazz.” Or whatever that guy in the beret and sunglasses insists is “jazz.” Fine. But not at the expense of the rest. And most jazz festivals are outdoors, from Newport to Monterrey.

I think that if the festival was allowed to spill out onto East Avenue, we could cater to more sounds. There’s buskers o’plenty out there anyway, why not setup small tents (like the $75 Sears canopy size) for smaller acts as well? I want more music, not easily defined music, and as much of it outside as possible.


Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival: Friday Night

I’ll have it known that I was at Woodstock ’94, wading among 350,000 of my closest friends and rocking to Primus, Nine Inch Nails and Metallica. I’ve been to two Lalapallooza shows. I’ve been in my share of pits and general admission melees for many bands. I’m not a flyweight when it comes to crowds.

Which is why, standing asshole-to-elbow between the stage and the wall on Gibbs St, just trying to make our way around the stage that blocked the entrance, my experienced eye saw a situation that one well-timed cherry bomb or beer-spilling fist fight could easily have spun into a dangerous, embarrassing and potentially costly mini-riot. Was I the only one?

This is not the way to see a jazz show. If I’d been this crushed to see a metal show, well, I would have expected it. But I wanted to suck down some cheap wine, groove out to some laid-back music and watch the ladies dance. There was no doing that on Gibbs St last night. In fact, there was no one dancing on Gibbs St, that I could see.

In fact, the whole setup was surreal in its sheer stupidity: everybody knows that the Jazz Fest happens “on East Avenue,” but the stage on Gibbs was actually at the end of East, blocking traffic. Two narrow passages, less than twenty feet wide, were the only admittance for those of us coming from East – and there were a lot of us – into the stage area. As it turns out, the other end of the street was blocked by a huge structure that was home to the Xerox Tech Center. So, an entire street is completely blocked off – on both ends – in a festival?

We ended up going around and using the passage down Barret Place, where they had the toilets lined up. Pleasant…

Inside the stage area, it was filled with food vendors and people, packed nearly as tightly as our first ill-fated entry. Smoke, steam, heat, densely-packed humanity. The recipe for a relaxing jazz experience if ever there was one. We ended up sitting in the “Tech Center” at the non-sequitur coffee bar, deciding what we wanted to do to regroup. We were actually there for the Trombone Shorty show that was on Chestnut, but frankly, the night to that point had been such a buzz-kill that it seemed better to just catch a jazz show at Bistro 135. Which is exactly what we did.

I hope people had a good time – I know a few people on Twitter said they enjoyed last weekend’s festivities. But for myself, this just wasn’t a jazz experience at all. In fact, walking back to our car on Prince St, my wife remarked that everyone heading into the festival looked chipper and happy, whereas those of us leaving all had the same dour expression of resignation. That’s not a recipe for a lot of return customers.


Populism in Song Form

Drop the pretense – if you need to close the door of the office – and bang your head:


A Burr in the Saddle, . . Again

When are Republicans going to get that you can’t just use a rock and roll song without at minimum earning the commentary of the original rocker? John McCain had John Mellencamp. Now the Minority Whip, Eric Cantor has Aerosmith up in arms over his use of Back in the Saddle.

And am I wrong? It seems to me that if anyone would be on the side of DRM and the “rights” of corporations, it should be the Republicans. How could you be so stupid as to not have gotten the performance rights before releasing a video to YouTube?


News Updates for Wednesday

We finally figure out the obvious and start buying banks, Gene Simmons buys a record company, and masturbation becomes a healthy ((not to mention natural and zesty)) enterprise in this latest of news roundups for DFE. Lets whip out some stories, shall we?

  • Buying jets with bailout money is for pussies. How about this: take bailout money, then host a conference call filled with influential business leaders and lobbyists to try to break the back of the Employee Free Choice Act. Why not take taxpayer money and then use it to spend on lobbying politicians? And so you can break the bank of the unions that fight for the taxpayers you just bilked?
  • The Obama Administration sees the banking industry sliding farther and farther into trouble and it’s beginning to look more and more obvious that some “nationalization,” or the government buying a controlling interest in distressed banks, may be necessary. As a side note, see Dean Baker for why shareholders of bankrupt banks actually make out quite well in such a scenario. Hint: a few bucks for paper worth nothing is a good thing.
  • Corning expects that of the 3,500 jobs they’re cutting back across the enterprise, 650 of them will be local jobs. Bad news, people. I feel for ya.
  • Peanut butter recalls continue. It was reported last night no less than twelve incidents at the offending company where testing revealed traces of salmonella and they sent the stuff to market anyway.
  • Gene Simmons announced on his website that he’s starting up a new Universal Records company in Canada, eh? Can’t wait to see Gene in full KISS regalia on the Canadian $5!
  • It’s been a long couple months for Toyota. In addition to posting it’s first annual loss in its history, now they need to recall a million vehicles for defective seat belts.
  • Calling all mad hatters! If you thought the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter was fun, get ready for the long-term effects of corn syrup laced with mercury. Yessiree, Bob! Bad news: you may go insane or this may have something to do with the increase in Autism. Good news: you’ll more easily be able to find your way home after you’re diagnosed with mercury poisoning.
  • People are flocking to small business ownership as a way to avoid the layoffs going around right now. Why you would think that selling pizza would be a way to save yourself is beyond me, but interesting, nonetheless.
  • Finally, mixed news for the porn industry: studies show that masturbation among teenagers increases the risk of prostate cancer, yet masturbation among the 50-something set actually decreases it. I guess based on the bell curve, I’m free to whack it whenever I want.

Break! No More Politics

Watch Oingo Boingo instead:



Politics Break

Clear your mind.  Let go.  Watch Genesis:


When Emos Attack

Submitted with a modicum of comment, does this make up for Champagne Supernova, or what?