Nov 11 2016

Leaving The Table

Larry Jones

I have loved the music and words of Leonard Cohen since I first encountered him in 1964.

I used to joke that if you dared to listen to a whole Leonard Cohen album at one sitting you’d have to have a counselor on hand, because you would become so sad you might decide to take your life.

Today, however, I am listening to DJ Chris Douridas’ sweet tribute to Leonard on KCRW in Los Angeles. My heart is in pieces, but the music is graceful and healing, melancholy and uplifting. I’m grateful that Leonard was in the world at the same time as me, and that his spirit was woven through my life in the best and worst of it, and that he shared with us his graceful sadness and his gentle smiles.

I say goodbye today, but I will return to him for the rest of my life.

.


Nov 10 2016

We Are All Fascists Now

Larry Jones

It should be noted that Donald Trump ran for president as a fascist and won.

So it looks as if half the country is fascist, although most of them would scream if someone called them that. Jailing opponents, rounding up undesirables, silencing journalists, torturing prisoners — these were all part of his campaign. These are the things 50 million voters want him to do. Can anyone stop him? We’d better hope.fascist-trump


Nov 10 2016

Will Trump Really Jail Clinton?

Larry Jones

lock-her-up

I have a sense that many Trump supporters think they are playing a game.

A lot of them had no idea what the issues were in the campaign, because their candidate didn’t really talk about them except in vague, tough-guy terms. It was, after all, a game. Now that their guy has won, they are jeering at the losers like any bleacher gang full of sore winners, trying to humiliate or anger us, while they hide behind U.S. government protection.

I hadn’t really thought much about Hillary Clinton being prosecuted for her many imagined crimes, but now I wonder if Attorney General Giuliani (or Christie) will actually file some charges. The new president doesn’t have a history of taking his promises seriously, so I kind of think not. The threat has served its purpose, and they don’t really have a case anyway, so why go to all that trouble? Trump’s base will move on to the next performance, whatever that may be. Some of them will be angry, because they were dead serious when they chanted “Lock her up!” But most of them will let it slide, and Mrs. Clinton will remain free.


Nov 9 2016

New Reality

Larry Jones

I had almost given up hope of fulfilling my lifelong dream of finding out firsthand what it would be like to live under a fascist state.

But it looks now as if I’m going to get a chance. Donald Trump is a fascist, and now he is president. His party also controls both houses of the legislature and soon they will have packed the Supreme Court with like-minded partisan ideologues. They’ll be able to pass any laws they want, and repeal any, too (I’m looking at you, Obamacare). Should anyone point out that something they’ve done goes against our constitution, the court will shoot that down.

definition of fascism

Of course we have to hope that President Trump will be a good man in office and work for the betterment of all people. But he pretty much ran on promises to do exactly the opposite of that, and the people who voted for him expect him to make good on those promises: killing off universal health care, banning Muslims, destroying Planned Parenthood, bombing “the shit out of” somebody, building a giant wall down south, and starting trade wars with our international partners, to name just a few planks of his “platform.” I know a lot of his supporters are willing to hand him complete authority as “the only one who can fix it,” and that is pretty much what they’ve done, but I don’t think they’ve thought that through, and we will all live to regret it.

Not that in a fascist state we will be able to do anything about it, but it seems to me the only patriotic thing to do is to oppose him at every turn. History will judge us harshly for what we did yesterday, but if we don’t stand and fight now, it will condemn us forever.


Nov 7 2016

What Will Become Of Us?

Larry Jones

NOTE: I wrote this before the election. Obviously, things didn’t turn out the way I expected, but I think it shows that I am a man of courage and integrity that I’m leaving it here, whenI could have easily edited it to show that I knew what was going to happen.


Now that it’s perfectly clear that Donald Trump is not going to be President of the United States, it’s time to reflect on what the next four years might be like.

Of course many of us are looking forward to the historic election of our First Woman President. I know I am, although I will miss the inspirational oratory of Barack Obama. But the Republicans in Congress are not going to back off their 8-year policy of total obstruction, which means Hillary Clinton won’t be able to get much done, even if Democrats take over both houses. The other side of that coin is that Republicans won’t either, as President Clinton will veto anything they try that’s truly damaging. In addition, the Republicans may lose their majorities in the House and Senate, or see them reduced reduced substantially, which will make the GOP even less effective in their crusade to:

  • lower taxes on the super rich…
  • …while allowing them to anonymously contribute any amount of money directly to their favorite political campaigns
  • get rid of all trade barriers
  • privatize Social Security
  • make abortion illegal and
  • prevent minorities from voting.

So expect another four or eight years of gridlock during a Clinton presidency, with a public more and more frustrated and angry about it.

But, you say, the worst fallout from the upcoming defeat of Donald Trump will come from the 25 million or so alienated and resentful die hard Trump supporters. They have shown over the past year that they don’t give a fuck about tradition, compromise or moderation. Trump is telling them now that the election will be “rigged,” meaning when Hillary Clinton wins on November 8th, she will have done so through chicanery, and will not be the legitimate president. These are people who are OK with Trump wanting to ban immigrants based on their religion; who believe it’s a good idea (or even feasible) to build a 2,000-mile wall across the southern border, and who beat up dissenters at Trump rallies. They have shown themselves to be animated by anger and they are potentially violent.

There’s been talk of Trump supporters going berserk if (and when) they lose the presidential election. Riots, insurrection, that sort of thing. And it’s probably true that many of those armed yahoos will be mad as hornets. It could be a real mess if they take to the streets.

But in the end, I believe they will just go home, turn on Fox News or the new Trump Network, and sulk. Once their leader — and their shot at taking the White House — is gone I don’t think they’ll be organized enough to accomplish anything really big. A lone wolf or two might attempt a “2nd Amendment remedy,” or burn something down, or occupy a federal building somewhere for a while, but as a movement, the wind will be out of their sails, and the Republic will stand.

On the other hand there are all those Republican leaders in Congress who have disavowed Trump. These traitors must be punished, and they surely will be, with ultra right-wing primary opponents in 2018. I have no sympathy for these establishment Republicans who are faced with the horrible choice of supporting Donald Trump or losing all of his fanatic supporters. They have used the crackpot wing of the party for decades to maintain power, and now the rabble has gotten sick of the false promises and has taken over the party. They may be ignorant, but they represent millions of votes. Establishment Republicans won’t ever again get those votes and will have to rely on support from moderates, including conservative Democrats. Conversely, Tea Party types will never get a vote from the moderates, and there you go: The GOP will be split in two. They will be the center right and the extreme right. Between the two of them they’ll probably keep control of the House and most state governments, but they won’t agree on much of anything, and unless they find a way to coalesce they won’t have a chance at the presidency.

I’m afraid that Donald Trump has poisoned the well that we all must drink from. His thoughtless, obnoxious rhetoric is “normalized” now, and President Clinton, who has been victimized for 30 years by false allegations, whisper campaigns, innuendo and phony investigations will face more of the same for four or eight more years. And Congress — spurred on by the angry, ignorant, resentful leftovers of the Trump campaign — will dutifully obstruct everything, cause debt ceiling and funding crises, vote repeatedly to “repeal” Obamacare, and generally make a nuisance of itself.

Buckle up, everybody.


Jun 23 2016

Rest In Peace, Little Dude

Larry Jones

From today, my little Buddy lives only in my heart.

Buddy on the CouchWe were together for ten years. He saw me through good times and bad. He wasn’t a cuddler, but he always wanted to be near me. Wherever I settled — in the house, in the studio, on the patio — he’d watch me for a few minutes, then mosey over and lie down a few feet away. In time, I wanted to be near him, too, and I welcomed his gentle presence at my feet, or on the coffee table in front of me, or squeezing himself into a tiny space on my desk as I typed.

But he developed a mysterious condition around his eye, causing it to bulge. Two veterinarians were unable to pinpoint exactly what it was, but it was most likely a tumor. Neither doctor gave us much hope. There was talk of MRIs, CAT-scans, and surgery to remove the eye. Everything cost a lot, and nothing was certain to fix him. I watched helplessly while the condition grew to the point where he and I and Mrs. Jones couldn’t stand it anymore.

I’m not embarrassed to say that I cried. Now I’m wondering when I will stop checking at the back screen door to see if he’s waiting there for me to let him in.


PS: Here’s the story of Buddy, from back in the days when he was called “Tigger.” Shortly after the story was posted, he became Buddy and moved in with us.


Aug 11 2015

Where Am I Now?

Larry Jones

Lately I wonder why I am here.

Maybe all old men get to this point eventually. Looking back at their lives and wondering what it’s all been about. I don’t have a god, or kids, or a financial empire, or a career in music that I can point to and say “That defines me, that is what my life means.” At almost 68 years old, I am still making it up as I go.

I mostly see the universe as random, so there’s no particular reason why I should seek these anchors, or even wonder why I don’t have at least one of them. But I read a lot of fiction, mostly trash, some of it classic, and the characters all have a mission, in the story if not in life, so I am in constant literary communion with “people” who do have goals, dreams, defining characteristics. And I’m a political junkie. Looking at politicians and hangers-on in that world I keep coming across their “stories,” and it’s easy to forget that these narratives are illusory, and imposed upon the more or less random facts of existence. That makes me think that I, too, should have a story, something with a beginning, middle and end, inspiring, or at least interesting.

Meryl Streep is now in a movie about a woman of my generation who is, not a rock star, but a working rocker, and a grandmother. I am never disappointed by Streep’s performances, so some day I will certainly see her film. In the meantime I have discovered that her character is loosely based on a real person, Terry Cieri, the screenwriter’s mother-in-law and yes, a grandmother. She’s a singer in New Jersey cover band Silk & Steel, which strongly resembles cover bands all around the country, including the ones I have played in most of my life (and probably will again). If you follow the link you’ll see that she and the band are not bad at all. You could do worse than spend an evening drinking and dancing to this bunch.

Discovering this got me thinking about my lifetime on bandstands, and the rock’n’roll dream that kept me going through the decades.  In the beginning it was just pure, raw fun, playing as loud as I could, competing and (sometimes) cooperating musically with bandmates, emulating the real rock stars that we heard on the radio and saw on TV. Then I began to think I could make a living at it, or even get rich. I never got rich, and most people would say I never even made a living at it, but it has gotten inside me somehow, and now I keep doing it despite that outwardly there seems to be no reward for me at all: Audiences have dwindled, venues have discovered that they can get away with paying local bands almost nothing, the market for rock’n’roll has splintered in so many ways that it’s difficult to find a fan base, even if you are really good.

It all makes me wonder why I do it at all. I admit I don’t know. It’s all I’m good at, I guess. And it’s the only activity that gives me any satisfaction. It ain’t the money, that’s for sure.

I don’t have a band right now, or even a job, so I’m getting introspective. But I guess I’ll take these last few years that I have, and try to be what I’ve always said I was: a songwriter, a performer, an artist, a rocker. That’s my story. So far it has a beginning and a long middle. I hope I will have finished it before I get to the end.


Dec 23 2014

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Larry Jones

In keeping with my annual practice of choosing a song that I can’t really sing…

and then struggling to get it right in time for Christmas, I present my 2014 effort, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” It was written in the war year of 1944 by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for the movie “Meet Me In St. Louis,” although later Martin told everyone Blane had nothing to do with it. I have personal experience with this kind of rebuff, so my sympathies lie with Mr. Blane.

This one was hard to sing. It’s not my style at all, and I have new respect for all those — cheesy and otherwise — who have recorded it before me. Except for Buble. He just pisses me off.

I think this is my fifth time to record a song for the holiday. At this rate my new album, “A Clinically Depressed Christmas,” should be ready in another seven or eight years. I know: that joke never gets old.

You might notice that I have used a slightly older version of the lyric here. Frank Sinatra made Hugh Martin “jolly up” one line for Sinatra’s album “A Jolly Christmas With Frank Sinatra.” The song had already been fixed up for Judy Garland to sing in the movie, after several copyists had attempted suicide while working on the early versions of the song, including the line “Have yourself a merry little Christmas; it may be your last.” So I didn’t go all the way with the historical rendering of the song, but I like the line about muddling through, and that’s the one you may not recognize from most of the popular recordings. Because of Frank Sinatra.

The pictures in the movie are the homes of my neighbors here in Bixby Knolls. They don’t know they’re in the video, so keep it under your hats, OK?

Merry Christmas, everybody! My heart beats only for you.


Oct 26 2014

Tenth Anniversary

Larry Jones

Today is the 10th anniversary of revision99.

Road

The road… ahead?

When I started this blog, it was after reading blogs for a few months in the sumer of 2004.  Blogs were actually in the news then. It was a trend. There were already hundreds of thousands of them, maybe millions, with more cropping up by the minute. I can’t remember exactly what blogs I was reading then, but I do remember being impressed — amazed, actually — at how many great writers there were out there. I don’t know what made me think there wouldn’t be, and certainly there were (and still are) plenty of bad spellers with nothing much to say and no clever way to say it. But I found a surprising number of smart writers putting together thoughtful, funny, engaging essays, some of them posting every day, and after a while I wanted to join the club.

Blogs have changed a lot since 2004. It’s not a trend any more. Various social networks have gained unbelievable popularity, driven, I believe, by ease of use and privacy controls. On Facebook, you don’t have to know much of anything or figure much out to start creating “updates.” That resulted in a lot of people using Facebook who don’t know much of anything. It’s reflected in their “writing.” Your “friends” don’t have to articulate anything about how much they like the picture you posted of your breakfast burrito. They can just click on “Like.” At first and for quite a while you could only write 240 characters, which relieved the user from having to use language to make sense. Beginnings, middles and ends vanished, along with complete sentences. Pictures, being worth a thousand words, replaced words. And privacy controls ensured that you wouldn’t have to deal with anybody online that you didn’t already know, so there would never be any need to think up and put into words a response to someone who didn’t agree with you. If worse came to worst, you could just “unfriend” them.

The blogs that I still read don’t resemble the blogs that drew me into blogging in the first place. Mostly they are professionally written and they have advertising. In order to target the ads they use tracking cookies and other devices to find out what you might be interested in buying. That way you’ll get more ads about stuff you’ve expressed an interest in. The blogs I read these days, such as Ed Kilgore’s excellent Political Animal, are sort of patterned after old-style newspaper editorial or entertainment pages. But they’re not the heartfelt amateur writing that I once fell in love with, and by amateur I don’t in any way mean inferior. I just mean not written by pros, for money.

So the world’s changed — what else is new? I guess I must sound like an old codger growling at the neighbor kids to get off my lawn. It’s true I miss those early blogs, and the people I met online who wrote them. But nine of the twelve links in my blogroll (look it up, kids) no longer exist, or are abandoned. To fill the empty hours I do have a Facebook account, and a bunch of Facebook “friends.” In fact, I actually feel kind of guilty that I have let this blog languish for such long periods between posts, while I have been busy posting pictures of my breakfast burrito on Facebook. Anyway, I am moving on, in the halting manner of the old codger.

For most of the lifespan of revision99, I was a working man, but that ended more than two years ago. Since then I have sent out over a hundred resumés and did not find work. In the past year my rock’n’roll band fell apart. I am now old enough to receive Social Security benefits, so I applied for that. I scramble daily for little odd jobs that do not tweak my conscience or cause me humiliation. I fix computers, troubleshoot small office networks. I design web sites and write PR. Mostly I sit in the sun and read detective novels.

I don’t know if this blog will continue very far past today. Every now and then I have something to say that I think must be said, and for the reasons mentioned above, Facebook doesn’t always seem like the right place to say it. So maybe I’ll write more here. I am starting  a new solo project, a musical one, and I thought it might be interesting to keep a log of its progress online somewhere. But ten years is a long time for something that’s no longer trendy, and I don’t have blogging friends any more. I don’t write anything of general interest, so I wouldn’t be able to sell ads here even if I wanted to, which I don’t, so what’s the point?

But even if I don’t put revision99 to rest I think I’ll go somewhere else to write about my solo project. Start fresh with a new design. Post my thoughts about the project, describe how it’s going, and put up music clips as I get things finished. So yes, at least one more post on revision99, in which I’ll describe the intent of the new project and maybe include a sound clip and a link to wherever the new project lives.

Until then, happy anniversary to me. I never thought it, or I, would live to this age.


Aug 8 2014

Nixonia

Larry Jones

Janey and I were traveling aimlessly through the beautiful state of Oregon, taking turns at the wheel of my 1964 VW bus.

It was August 8, 1974, and we were headed for Crater Lake when we heard the news on the radio — Nixon was set to deliver an important speech. The Watergate affair had been occupying the top spot on the evening news for months, but we had been out of the loop for a week or more, so we didn’t know for sure what almost everyone else in the country knew: that Nixon was being forced out of office.Nixon

It’s difficult to describe the impact Richard Nixon had on my generation. He was every bit as important as President Kennedy, the earnest, slightly creepy A/V Club guy to Kennedy’s dashing frat boy. And even though we know that politics ain’t beanbag, Nixon found ways to reduce it to its most brutal elements, and he was good at it. He lost some Big Ones, but he won more than he lost. Elected for the first time just a few months before I was born, and stretching all the way through to just before my 25th birthday, Nixon haunted the hallways of our lives, in his dark blue suit and his five o’clock shadow, never looking straight at us, always seeming to harbor some hidden motive.

He had gone from Congress to Eisenhower’s Vice President in 1952, but after his first term in the number two job, the Republican Party wanted him gone, and, under pressure to leave Ike’s ticket in 1956, he went on television and gave the famous Checker’s speech, saving his job and surprising the political old hands of the day. Again, I thought he was finished after he lost the 1960 presidential election to JFK, who apparently had learned from Nixon himself the power of TV. Silly me. Two years later Nixon was back making a credible run for Pat Brown’s job as governor of California. In his concession speech it seemed that even Nixon himself figured his career was over, telling the press that they “wouldn’t have Dick Nixon to kick around” anymore.

But then came Dallas, and LBJ, and later LBJ’s decision not to run for reelection in 1968. Rested and fit, Nixon was back, and this time he won all the marbles. He was like a zombie that we just couldn’t kill, no matter how many times we didn’t vote for him.

Up to this point he was only a political opponent with whom I strongly disagreed. And disagreeable it was to have him in the White House, even if he did open relations with China and authorize the creation of the EPA. But once he got the top job, something must have changed in Nixon. Maybe it was simply the feeling that he had nothing more to strive for, or maybe he really was crazy all along, but by the time of the 1972 election he had become delusional, paranoid and criminal. He won that election, but he had begun to disintegrate psychologically.

His presidency was unraveling. He was caught sending burglars to break into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, keeping an “enemies list” of journalists, and authorizing “hush money” to keep witnesses quiet. And he was tape recording the whole thing, keeping an audio record for future prosecutors. During the two years after his second inaugural he was revealed as the dirty Tricky Dick we all remember. Not some weasel-assed nobody like Grover Norquist, but the President of the United States! It was appalling.

Janey and I got to some lodge on Crater Lake that afternoon. The grounds appeared deserted, but when we went into the bar, there were hundreds of people crowded in, watching the television. I have never seen such rapt attention to any political speech before or since. It was as if we were holding our collective breath. Only a week before, under order from the Supreme Court, Nixon had been forced to release his secretly recorded tapes. Tip O’Neill had told reporters that the House Judiciary Committee was going to vote — Democrats and Republicans alike — to impeach the President. Nixon was cornered, and I’m not proud today to say that I enjoyed seeing the rat trapped as he was.

Nixon made a dignified speech, not exactly beating around the bush, but stalling and offering excuses for a while before he got to point, which of course was that he was “not a quitter,” but he was quitting. He took no responsibility for what was happening to him. There was no way he could have stayed in office, but sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if he had apologized, admitted his wrongdoing, and left the world stage quietly. Would Republicans still feel they had to find a way to impeach Clinton and Obama?

Either way, Janey and I shared a long kiss, and soon — very soon, actually — we forgot all about Richard Nixon. But he’s still with us, in ways few historical figures can ever be. Many of us who lived through the Nixon years, what Gerald Ford would call “our long national nightmare,” wake up occasionally in a cold sweat, as an imagined footfall sounds just outside a door, and it takes a moment to remember — he’s is not coming back.