Saturday, September 30, 2006

Matter of fact, it's a gas.

I was born too late, I imagine. I was born in 1971 and grew up after some of my favorite bands had hit their prime or fell apart. In the time since, one of my secret goals was to see all of my favorite British warhorses in some or fashion before they died. The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles (as solo artists), Led Zeppelin, and The Kinks.

I got Paul and Ringo years ago, seeing Paul on February 9, 1990 (the anniversary of their appearance on Ed Sullivan) at the Worcester Centrum, and Ringo not long after at the Kentucky State Fair. The Who remain to be seen, primarily because I can't rouse myself to spend hundreds not only for tickets, but to travel hundreds of miles they always seem to be away from Louisville, especially when the backbone of the band is long dead. Led Zep. Well, we know why that won't happen. As for The Kinks, between strokes and shootings, that probably won't happen either.

Which brings us to the Stones. When it was announced I was excited beyond words. My first and probably only chance to see them. I got my tickets within minutes of the presale, and anxiously awaited the big day.

1st... the complaints. Churchill Downs did a HORRIBLE job with this one. After all the fanfare about the event, you'd have thought CD would have used its skills on Derby Day to make a better event. They didn't.

Let's start at the entrance. For some reason, nobody ever tries to tame the lines to enter a venue, so people were lined up blocking through traffic for security and taxis. Once let inside, the ticket takers didn't scan the tickets like at other venues, but instead tore the tickets, and then put holes in them when you got to your section. NOT COOL!

Once inside, the Brantley ushers had no clue how to get to the track seats. We wound up walking way out of our way to find an entrance and then had to walk all the way back to our seats. When we got to our seats, they were poorly marked folding chairs. The marking of each section was a price tag with the section on it and some Post It notes to indicate what seat number you were near.

Problem two became apparent at that point. Because the track understandably doesn't want people on a normal day to go into the track area, there were very few entrances, of too small a size. This created bottlenecks on the track. Plus, because they were channelling two to four times as many people through the entrances underneath the grandstands, there were huge bottlenecks in the back. During Alice Cooper's set, I went to use the restroom and some woman warned me "Don't go, it'll take you an hour to get back." When I saw the waves of people trying to get in, I turned back.

This wouldn't have been so bad had Churchill bothered to put porta potties and refreshments on the track side of the event. The only beverages they were selling was beer.

I was excited because all week they'd been promising great weather, and for a moment, it seemed that it would be nice, if somewhat cool. The sun was blazing.

As the time for Alice Cooper rolled near, the rain started. Never quite a deluge, but enough to get you wet and make you miserable. "If I see John Belski, I'm kicking his ass," I told my wife. What if it stormed, I thought. I couldn't imagine a bunch of drunk, wet, people running for shelter in a space that 2 or 3 people could fit in at a time. Worse, the ushers were conspicuously absent, trying to corral the crowd (I guess) so people were funnelling wherever they wanted, including crowding the aisles.

I remember looking around and thinking the people in line with me and sitting around me were old enough to be my parents. How was that possible? This is a rock show. Then I realize that the Stones were old enough to be my parents. It made me realize how timeless the band truly is.

Alice Cooper did a competent if rather bland set. I'm not a big fan, but it was cool to see him perform. His set was short and rather lacking in theatrics he's known for.

Then the Stones came on. OH MY! From the first bars of Jumpin' Jack Flash, it was clear that they weren't letting the rain get to them. I'd seen video and heard live CDs of Stones performances in the past. You'd think that in 40 years their performances would get more and more like other contemporaries. Essentially lifeless recreations of their hits with some nice stage effects to try and distract you. Instead, based on all accounts, including those of longtime fans, the boys are doing some of the best shows of their lives. They were incredible! From a sound mix that was far better than any show I've been in, especially one of this magnitude, you could hear almost everything clearly. Mick was actually singing, not talk singing or spitting out lyrics like in some shows I'd heard. He was hitting notes that a guy his age who has been doing that many shows for over a year should not be hitting. Charlie anchored the band as always, getting a huge sound without looking like he was even breaking a sweat. Ronnie and Keith looked like they were having a good time, lost in their own guitar playing. All of it was played out on a huge stage that added to the show without becoming the show.

Because it was their first time in Louisville in years, they stuck mostly to hits, to the delight of the many casual fans there, I'm sure. But each was performed with a vigor that belied the number of times they've performed them. While the rain sucked, the rain added a cool element to the video of the boys hammering out the hits. It all came to an early climax with Midnight Rambler, surpassing the Get Your Ya Ya's Out version for all 12 or so minutes. The obvious Dead Flowers kicked the studio version's butt as well, as Mick brought cheers to the crowd singing about "making bets on Kentucky Derby Day." Mick was a marvel, strutting around, playing to the crowd, and looking about 30 years younger than he is. His stage moves bordered on self parody, but somehow he pulled it off.

What amazed me about these shows is that the $240 I paid for two tickets was more than worth it. Not just because I saw living legends, but because the guys put on an incredible show. The sound, stage, and above all performance was far superior to any concert I've been to before. Rather than sounding like a cover band on their own songs (a charge I could hurl at the recent Journey/Def Leppard concert I saw), they sounded like men who have been playing together for years and still find new reasons to enjoy it. Songs that had no reason to be played with anything but competence, such as Satisfaction, sounded fresh again. Even the new tunes off A Bigger Bang had the crowd rocking and cheering.

In the end, I got more than I ever thought I could hope for. I got to see classic songs performed with most of the core band intact in an energy filled concert that musicians 1/3 of their age couldn't have pulled off. For two plus hours, all of my cares, including being soaking wet and the fact that I was trapped with several thousand drunks disappeared, and I was in music heaven.

And as for kicking John Belski's ass... I almost got my chance by proxy. About midway through the show, Kevin Harned and three friends (including a very young looking girl) appeared right next to us standing and watching the show. He disappeared a couple of songs later. I guess he feared for his life.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Random thoughts.... or Zam Bam Thank You Ma'am

Does James Zambroski remind anyone of the reporter Lauraine Newman played on SNL with his drawn out method of speaking and his sign off "Wave 3 Newwwwwwwzzzzzzz"?

Why is it that every picture in Mike Weaver's congressional commercials looks like it was taken in 1964?

Ever notice that the machines you check your blood pressure on at pharmacies are surrounded with advertising guaranteed to raise your blood pressure? "ARE YOU AT RISK FOR HEART DISEASE!?!?!?!?!" "DIABETES THE SILENT KILLER!!!!!"

Does Ann Northup look more and more like a characture or is it just me?

Iceberg doesn't make a salad! SAVE THE SPINACH!

Can someone tell WHAS that when someone farts in Frankfort, it's not necessarily BREAKING NEWS!!!!

Can someone tell WAVE that we bought our HDTV to see broadcasts in HD, not to watch their promotional crawls in 4:3.

and finally.......

Wouldn't the world be a better place if people voted AGAINST the candidate with the most negative ads?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Where's Popeye when you need him

First Al Qaeda and now E Coli. I don't know who this E Coli terrorist cell is, but attacking our spinach supply is beyond the pale. And what will it do to one of our greatest super heroes, Popeye the Sailor Man.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Let the Attack Ads Begin

John Yarmuth has taken the semi-high road by not directly attacking Ann Northup. Ann and the Republican smear machine can't be depended on to do the same, of course.

First, Anne attacks Yarmuth for a supposed flip flop on the bridges. First he was against the East End bridge, and now, according to Anne's website, John says in today’s Courier-Journal that he has always been for the East End bridge! But I've read the article several times and I don't see where it says that. Northup has ads that have just come out that claim he's flip flopped on several more issues.

Now I don't know if this is true. Ann dcites LEO editorials. As the LEO Weekly pointed out in an article several weeks back, LEO doesn't have a great archival system. In fact, they only have a single archival copy of many issues. That didn't stop Anne from making an ass out of herself requesting all of the issues (800 plus), photocopying them, and now apparently having her staff scour every one of them for a quote they can use, whether in context or not.

I find it interesting that political campaigns make so much out of "Flip Flopping". Show me a person who hasn't changed his position on something in their lifetime and I'll show you an idiot.... like W. It's not even clear that John is flip flopping from what is shown. After all, many of us have flip flopped on the Iraq war after it became clear that the Government knew there was no connection at all. What seems like a good idea or bad idea at the time can turn out to be the opposite when the details are fleshed out.

I really wish that Ann would take the high road. Of course, that would require her to stand on her own terrible record.

Yarmuth, Northup clash on bridges
Each says other's support is lacking
By Marcus Green
The Courier-Journal

By Marcus Green
The Courier-Journal

Ask Louisville's leading congressional candidates where they stand on a $2.5 billion project to build two bridges across the Ohio River, and they'll tell you they wholeheartedly support it.

Ask them where their opponent stands -- and you'll get a much different answer.

Republican U.S. Rep. Anne Northup's campaign says Democratic challenger John Yarmuth's current support contradicts his past opposition to an East End bridge.

Yarmuth, in turn, says Northup's support has fallen short of securing enough federal money to push the project forward.

"I've always said I'm for as many bridges as we can build, as we can afford to build," said Yarmuth, who lives near the eastern bridge route. "I have serious questions as to whether there's going to be enough money to build these projects -- always have and still do -- but it's not a question of support for them at all."

Northup's campaign says work has begun, including the eastern bridge approach, with a bridge design expected soon.

"For John Yarmuth to suggest that we are no closer to an East End bridge is just baffling," said Patrick Neely, Northup's campaign manager.

The other two candidates for the 3rd District seat say they oppose part of the bridges project.

Constitution Party candidate W. Ed Parker said he favors an eastern bridge, but not a second downtown. Libertarian Donna Mancini said she would support bridges at either end of the Snyder Freeway.

Northup's accusations against Yarmuth stem from a 1991 newspaper column he wrote questioning a possible East End bridge; a 2005 television appearance in which he agrees that the bridge is a "stupid idea"; and his tenure as a trustee of River Fields, a conservation group opposed to an eastern bridge.

In 1991, Yarmuth wrote in the weekly LEO paper that he founded that an eastern bridge couldn't be justified on the basis of alleviating traffic downtown or creating a downtown bypass.

He wrote in part: "([T)here are a lot of roads that end somewhere, and, until I hear some better reasons for spending $250 million, I think U.S. 42 is as good a place as any for the Snyder to stop."

Yarmuth defends the column, saying that at the time there was talk about a new Ohio River bridge -- but no formal plan to build two bridges.

The current plan grew out of a 2001 study determining that the best solution to the region's traffic woes would be to build two bridges and untangle Spaghetti Junction, where interstates 64, 65 and 71 converge downtown.

Yarmuth said in the 15 years since he wrote his bridge column, "there have been a lot better reasons offered (for an East End bridge), namely economic development ones."

An eastern bridge would, for example, benefit Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant on Chamberlain Lane just off the Snyder, he said. The plant has expanded several times since 1991, adding new truck production and several shifts that have boosted employment.

In remarks on the WAVE-3 "Hot Button" program last year, Yarmuth agreed with commentator Jim Milliman, who said Northup ought to support a proposed southwestern Jefferson County bridge and "get rid of this stupid idea for an East End bridge that does nothing but bail out Southern Indiana."

"You won't get any disagreement … from me on that," Yarmuth told Milliman during the telecast. "The arguments for the southwest bridge are more compelling than the ones for an East End bridge, particularly for traffic congestion."

But Yarmuth said this week that he was not agreeing with everything Milliman said.

"I was trying to get on to something else and didn't want to argue with him about every little point he made," Yarmuth said. "He made about three or four different points there."

Speaking to reporters in Louisville late last month, Northup accused Yarmuth of opposing the bridges project. She questioned his past association with River Fields, a preservation group that favors a downtown bridge and redesigning Spaghetti Junction but opposes an East End bridge.

This week, Neely said Yarmuth is not coming clean on the bridges issue.

"He won't even be honest about his position on the East End bridge," Neely said.

Yarmuth was a River Fields trustee from September 2004 to March 2006. He defended his tenure on the board, saying that River Fields is dedicated to other environmental causes besides the bridges.

"One of the reasons that I resigned from the River Fields board was because I didn't want to be put in the position of being bound by their position as it relates to bridges and everything else they're involved in," he said.

Yarmuth accused Northup of trying to make the election about the bridges rather than the Iraq war, health care and prescription drugs for seniors, among other issues. But he also attacked Northup's record on helping get money for the bridges.

"The critical factor here is what Anne Northup and the Congress have done to fund these bridges so far. And as far as I'm concerned, we're no further along in this bridge project than we were five years ago," he said. "There's really nothing that's been done. She hasn't been able to procure the funding that's been necessary."

Northup's campaign says that isn't true.

In July 2005, Kentucky and Indiana delegates helped secure $58 million in federal funds for the bridges project from the transportation bill. Last winter, Northup lobbied in Frankfort for the project, which received $789 million in the state's six-year highway plan.

The bridges project is expected to cost $2.5 billion, with Kentucky picking up an estimated $1.7 billion.

Reporter Marcus Green can be reached at (502) 582-4675.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Support WLKY, CBS, and their airing of 9/11 documentary

It's time to reclaim the airwaves for EVERYONE, not just the low minded religious publicity seekers in organizations like the American Family Association who want to make sure that none of us can make our own decisions on what we wish to turn off.

On Sunday, CBS is showing a documentary on 9/11 for the third time. This documentary has some "R-rated" profanity, and was aired without incident twice before. Since the events of that day are more horrific than a few F-bombs, I encourage everyone who values this heartbreaking documentary to e-mail the FCC and let them know you are NOT offended by its showing and that you will take offense at any attempts to fine your affiliate or CBS for airing it.

Then, e-mail that giant set of idiots at the AFA, who are rallying around this show to try and send a chill through the networks. You can contact them here. Let them know that there is an on/off switch on their TV and a channel selector if they don't like something that is on.

CBS To Air Profanity-Laden Program
It is time to tell CBS and the other networks that enough is enough!.
Not content with all the profanity already on TV, CBS has decided to air the profanity-laden unedited version of "9/11" on Sept. 10. The decision by CBS is a slap in the face to the FCC and Congress, which recently raised indecency fines to $325,000 per incident.

"9/11," which will be shown in prime-time, contains a tremendous amount of hardcore profanity. CBS has stated they have not, and will not, make any cuts in the amount and degree of profanity. CBS will ignore the law. The network is suing the FCC over the indecency law, saying they should be able to show whatever they desire whenever they desire. CBS wants no limits.

This is a test case for CBS to see how far they can go. If there is no out-pouring of complaints from the public, they will go further the next time.

The profanity is so bad that CBS has warned their affiliates that they could be subject to huge fines. The FCC says it will fine not only the networks, but also affiliates if the law is violated. Under the new Broadcast Decency Act the $325,000 per incident could run into millions of dollars not only for the network but also for local affiliates.

CBS could very easily bleep out the profanity, but they refuse. The goal of CBS is to be able to show whatever they want at anytime. The network wants no restraints on their programming. If they are allowed to get away with this, they will simply air even more profanity in the future.

Take Action

It is time to tell CBS and the other networks that enough is enough!.

Send an email, asking the FCC to enforce the law. Your email will go not only to the FCC, but also to CBS.

Contact your local CBS affiliate and ask them not to air "9/11." Click Here to find their contact information or use your local phone directory.

Please forward this to your friends and family. Share this information with members of your Sunday School class and church, and urge them to get involved.

If no changes are made and your CBS affiliate carries the program, AFA will provide you with information for filing a formal complaint with the FCC.