Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Just Wanna Testify

What is soul? I don't know. Soul is a ham hock in your cornflakes. Soul is the ring around your bath tub. Soul is a joint rolled with toilet paper. 

This is the original Parliament Funkadelic thing back in 1969! With the forgotten guitar genius, Eddie Hazel! He's the fellow biting his guitar strings at the end of the show! I got to see them on the same stage with The Stooges in Michigan!
 Vcls: Fuzzy Haskins, Grady Thomas, Calvin Simon, Ray Davis, George Clinton Gtr: Eddie Hazel, Tawl Ross 
Keyboard: Mickey Atkins 
Drums: Langston Booth
Bass: Billy Bass


I watched Letterman off and on for years in the USA and I liked his humor...stupid, surreal but bottom line subversive. I really respected the way he totally destroyed George Bush Jr. when he had him on his program.  I missed being able to watch him here in France. He's retiring, but this recent rant is one of the reasons I liked him! Here to you, Dave, this one's on me!


"The poor and the underclass are growing. Racial justice and human rights are non-existent. They have created a repressive society and we are their unwitting accomplices." - They Live (1988)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Too Much Spring

April 16, 2014. One year ago we were suffering from a pretty drastic cold snap that was a real catastrophe for most of the fruit tree growers and I wondering if I would ever be able to plant a vegetable garden. It did warm up, but we didn't get the plowing done until May. This year it was quite the opposite. It never really froze here last winter and there was non stop rain. Then the sun came out and it really hasn't rained in 2 weeks! I have had to mow the grass 3 times already! All the flowers are blooming at the same time and I began to worry about getting the garden started. My neighbor Dede Tochport has been plowing the earth with his tractor for me almost every year for the last 12 years and I hadn't seen him around lately. I broke down and called him last night and he showed up after lunch with his old Massey Ferguson and first cut and leveled the ground, Then he came back around a half hour later with the plow on the tractor and turned the earth. It was dry enough for him to come back with the cultivator and, voila, c'est fini! Here is Dede on the tractor with the cultivator and my buddy, J. Edgar is supervising the procedure. Tomorrow, I plant potatoes. My house is totally green!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Personality Crisis

1973 New York Dolls, Personality Crisis.
I went through a period in the early 70's when I could not stand most rock music being sold. The radio was radioactive to me. Pretentious, over produced pop gave me hives! I had becomea jazz snob and was really into fusion jazz rock....Larry Coryell and Carla Bley were my heros. I hung out in a few record stores in Toledo and scoured the bins for Sun Ra and free jazz. Then I saw the first NY Dolls Album produced by Todd Rundgren. It changed my life. The band that proved that attitude was the most important ingredient in Rock. A friend recently told me that they gave him a headache, but it was the kind of headache he loved.  I always thought that David Johansen was one of the greatest rock vocalists ever.  He never really got the credit he deserved, but then again, the dude probably had too much personality, if you know what I mean. These guys wrote the book for punk rock before the term existed. Sure, the little British dudes were prancing around in their glitter glam rock outfits, but The Dolls were pure trash and flaunted it! In the late 70's I was moving Johnny Thunders and Nolan and their band, The Heartbreakers in my lime green Toyota pick up to gigs around NYC, usually for a 5 pm sound check at Max's. The toughest part of that job was waking them up at 4 in the afternoon. It would be almost 5pm and I was dealing with The Dawn of The Living Dead. Crammed into the front seat of the pick up, trying to get them to not snort up the strange chemicals they needed to get "functional" while I was negotiating traffic on Park Avenue. Somehow by the time we moved the amps in, they were ready to play...

Friday, April 11, 2014

What I Won't Be Doing On August 8th!

I definitely will not be in Toledo, Ohio on August 8th, 2014 to attend the The Annual Great Toledo Rib Off Festival in Maumee. They actually hired Ted Nugent to head line the music show.  I guess he's still a favorite with the tea brain dead zombie crowd, but there is a growing controversy since this announcement was made earlier today. The Toledo Blade is sponsoring the event and claims they hired Ted before his latest Presidential Death Threat Controversy got his last concert cancelled in Texas. They claimed he was going to be paid $50,000 and they would have to pay him even if they cancelled. 
 Toledoans! Try to think of the children who will be seriously damaged for life after hearing this deranged old coot squrawk out a version of Wang Dang Sweet Poon Tang!
In 1968, The City of Toledo cancelled a Doors Concert due to the conservative backlash after Jim Morrison was convicted of exposing his dick on stage in Florida. Now the conservatives in Toledo are claiming the progressive citizens of Toledo are denying Teddy his right to free speech.  I guess there is a big difference between exposing your dick brained hate filled ignorance and a semi turgid body part. 
If you'd like to contribute to this controversy, here is a link to a petition to request that the Toledo Blade cancel Ted Nugent. After all, there will be children in the audience. I should tell you my Ted Nugent story...hint, he is either 1)... a bald faced blatant liar or 2)... a true LSD victim who has blacked out a truly epic bad acid experience which involved trying to murder his best friend and then a few weeks of catatonic behavior...If I were you, I'd pick choice 2, because it really happened in Detroit in 1967. He was never the same or quite sane.

What Are You Doing Saturday April 26, 2014?

After a pretty quiet low key winter, we are faced with difficult choices as suddenly, we are inundated with invitations for events that all seem to be scheduled for the same days. For example, on April 26th, we planned to go to the Phoenix Association Book Sale. That's a pretty big outing as it is about 60 kilometers from here, in a little village called Campsegret, near Bergerac. Phoenix is an animal rescue organization. It's where I got my buddy, J.Edgar almost 7 years ago! My friend and nearest neighbor, Letje got involved with them because of her passion for horses and runs their horse rescue and rehabilitation operation. She and her very patient husband have at times over 24 horses installed on various fields around here. One of the ways they raise money is with their huge book sales. We have a few friends who volunteer to work at the sale. We love it because the majority of the members of Phoenix are British who live here and it is the biggest source of English language books around. To give and idea of the volume, each book sells for 1 Euro and the last sale raised almost 25,000 Euros! We buy bags of books and then re donate them to the association to be resold. I always look forward to finding books I have been wanting to read and discovering ones I never knew existed. So a week ago we received an invitation from our old friend, The present mayor of Ajat, France, Didier Clerjoux and his brother Vincent for the rededication of the villages magnificent 12th century Templar Eglise de
St. Martin. Ajat was our old village and Didier is a great friend. He has been mayor now for over 8 years and one of his projects was the restoration of the church. They completely redid the roof in the original style, which is a technique using slices of limestone called lauze instead of tiles. They also commissioned a few stained glass windows that are really nice pieces of glass art. Here's a picture below of Ajat with the church and attached chateau before the restoration work started. If you are ever in the area, I would suggest you stay at Vincent Clerjoux' wonderful Chambre d'Hote and Bed and Breakfast called Domaine des Ormeaux. I knew it long before it was the luxurious place it has become today. I remember when the local kids set up their "bar" in the stables. They would swipe aperatifs from the parents and then sell drinks to the farm workers. It was a wonderful ancient structure then, but what Vincent has done to it is breath taking. It is a magnificently remodeled and restored 17th century limestone group of farm buildings on the family property. You really should look at the link just to appreciate what this place is now.  The Clerjoux family is one of the oldest families in the area and are involved in raising strawberries, veal farming and have been producing goose foie gras and the related products for many years. The Clerjoux products have won the highest awards consistently at the Salon d'Agriculture in Paris for years and are produced on the property where you can purchase them in their spotless atelier. In fact, Didier and Vincents Aunt, who managed the goose business for years, won the first prize so many times that she
Ajat, France...I once lived on the ridge above the village
became one of the judges of Foie Gras at the Salon, Frances biggest agricultural exposition. So what am I going to do on the 26th? As Ajat is over 50 kilometers from the book sale....well, I do want to buy books and support Phoenix. I sent an email to my friends in Ajat regretting I can't go to the festivities there, but instead, we are pushing on after the book sale, since we will be over half way there, to Neac, France, where Chateau Vieux Chevrol, the place I have worked a few months a year since 2002 is located. I expect to be working there in a few weeks anyway, but they are having a gala open house celebration to welcome everyone to the inauguration of their new Chai...or Cave....A state of the art facility where Jean-Pierre Champseix controls the production of their world class Lalande-de-Pomerol wine. We started using it last year for
the 2013 harvest, which was a pretty arduous affair. See the above video, I am the puny porteur in plaid shorts in the beginning of the video slogging through the mud. It should be fun. My acquaintance, Jackie from Libourne is going to exhibited some of his vintage cars. He has his own mini museum and garage in back of his home. An incredible collection of Peugots, Amilcars and Motoblocs dating to before The First World War! Jean-Pierre has a Motobloc as well from about 1917. Motoblocs were a very innovative automobile made in Bordeaux. They were the first auto with a unified drive train and the marque was producing autos and trucks until the 1950's. Here is a video of Jackie's white Motobloc, which I have had the privilege of actually driving on the streets of Libourne and Jean-Pierres red and black model which I have ridden in quite a few times!
It should be a great time with many old friends, live music, good food and a wine sampling. Hey, if you are in the neighborhood on April 26th, stop by. It's an open house. I'm going to have a great time and my wife is the designated driver! Here's one more video, it's in French, but it is Jean-Pierre Champseix in the old Chai talking about his passion for the wine his family has been making for generations in same place.

Added bonus, here is a video shot by my buddy Steff of the fabulous Microdot in action!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Comic Strip

In 1967, Serge Gainsbourg recorded the original version of this song with Brigette Bardot. It was a perfect piece of pop art.  In 2011, Sean Lennon and his musical partner, Charlotte Kemp Muhi, in their ongoing collaboration G.O.A.S.T.T. (That's Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger) recorded their cover version on their recording La Carotte Bleu. One of the members of the project is one of my favorite musicians, Matthieu Chedid...a very unique vocalist, songwriter and really one of Frances greatest rock guitarists in his own right. He has collaborated quite a bit with Sean. In France, Matthieu has created his own live comic book persona known as M. He's the guy playing the tennis racquet in the video. I like a lot of what Sean Lennon does. He mixes surrealism and pop psychedelia and has a lot of fun doing it. 
Here's an extra added bonus. Sean and Matthieu live on French TV doing a great acoustic cover of 
Jimi Hendrix' Little wing!

They're Back.......

Perhaps you were wondering about the recent local elections here in France and the slight? reshuffling of the deck of cards of the present Socialist government? Things have changed and as far as Francois Hollande's administration goes, perhaps it is for the better. We have a new Prime Minister, Manuel Valls. I had fairly high expectations for the Hollande government. I liked his choice for PM, Jean-Marc Ayrault because he was plain speaking and not afraid to be controversial. I supported him on most issues, but his environmental stance was more than a little shady. His support for an incredibly unpopular and ultimately unnecessary airport which enraged ecologists here stank of patronage and corruption. The ability to outrage and speak plainly seemed to disappear. The Prime Minister is the coordinator of the governments public image and policy and his seeming amateur ineptness in even delivering a simple unified message on any issue managed to enrage even his staunchest supporters. Still, Hollande stood by him, but Hollande was no better. He became the epitome of the label Monsieur Flamby (Flamby being the brand name of an insipid instant pudding like dessert that all French kids are born with an innate hatred for,) with his lame speeches and inability to make the decisions that would ignite his supporters. His popularity was  in a tailspin. His public image was briefly resurrected when he left his partner, the very unpopular journalist Valerie Trierwieler when his affair with actress Julie Gayet was revealed. But again, it underlined his inability to directly confront difficult personal decisions. He took up with Valerie when his ex partner and mother of his children, Segolene Royal was nominated over him for the 2006 presidential race against Nicolas Sarkozy. Segolene could have won, but she was sabotaged by her own party. She fought against Valerie and Francois for years and ins spite of the back stabbing, remains as one of the most poised and intelligent left leaders in France and retained the presidency of the Poitou/Charente region. Valerie was seen as a demanding domineering bitch and he kept her in her own office for at least a year after his affair with Gaynet started. Still, the image of Francois roaring about Paris after hours on a motorcycle to screw his girlfriend gave is image a slight boost. The model of Motor Cycle helmet he wore enjoyed a sales boost, but then again, it might have had something to do with Daft Punk. Still, Hollande assembled an interesting government. He made his rival, Manuel Valls, Minister of the Interior. Valls is relatively young and extremely dynamic and forceful. He soon became the most popular figure in the government, if not in all of the French politics.  Hollande and Ayrault appointed Christiane Taubira as Minister of Justice. A highly controversial choice because she had been the leader and presidential candidate of her own far left party. An un married mother who rose from poverty in French Guiana to become a professor of agricultural economics, then the representative of French Guiana in the Assembly National. In effect, she is the most powerful female political figure in France. Together in an unlikely alliance with Valls, they are the most popular figures in French politics. She is well liked by most and the target of racism from the extreme right. She still rides her bike to and from work every day in Paris. Hollandes government was saddled with the disaster of the French economy after Sarkozy, who had formed an alliance with the far right Front National in an attempt to usurp their rising influence to the advantage of his UMP centrist right party. That is what helped elect Hollande. Sarkozy had brought France to the edge of the Fascist abyss and used racism and nationalism as a manipulative tool. Hollande had the good will of the nation, but had to deal with the economy and the rise of the far right as they fought the progressive social initiatives of enhanced abortion rights for women and homosexual marriage. Taubira was the champion of both of these issues. They enacted many reforms and effectively banned fracking and gmo agricultural, but Hollande seemed to be a more and more distant and disengaged figure and rarely gave interviews or made effective speeches. He gained weight. Ayrault seemed incapable of any
This was the racist poster used for the anti abortion/ anti
gay marriage rallies in Paris earlier this year.  They had
their rally. It turned very ugly and it had quite the opposite effect
of what the organizers envisioned.
unified response on any issue. This was a perfect storm as we went into the regional elections in March.
The Front National, under Marine LePen went on a militant charm offensive. She was on TV nonstop and they recruited young candidates and pushed them into races in towns all over France. It didn't matter if they were unqualified idiots, or as really happened, in rest homes as figure heads It didn't matter that they had no real platform other than they were different. They were able to bank on the rising dissatisfaction with both mainstream parties and in the ensuing election, they made unprecedented gains in the traditionally right wing South East and the economically devastated North East. So, now they are the official 3rd Party of France. A Party that is run like a military organization and was up to a short time ago associated with the WW2 Vichy collaboration with the Germans. Already in some of the larger towns they have gained control of, The FN has closed down human rights offices and started racist policies against Islamic kids in schools. When discussing this last week with a good friend, He made the statement, "The Front National didn't get a big enough win!" I agree. Why? Because the French public has to have there faces rubbed into this nasty shit.  Luckily, here in this part of France we have remained steadfast on the progressive left. The Ecologists made major gains. Paris has a very cool Socialist woman Mayor, Anne Hidalgo. Manuel Valls is the new
Manuel Valls and his musician wife, Anne Gavoin
Prime Minister and after his vote of confidence yesterday and very powerful speech, in which he outlined a progressive energy policy for the future, more popular than ever. His wife, Anne Gravoin is a musician and plays in Johnny Hallidays Band. They have been featured on all the covers of the major magazines here as the new glamorous power couple. In a recent poll in a woman's magazine, Valls was named the man most French women would want to have a torrid affair with. Suck on that Sarkozy. Interestingly enough, both Valls and Hidalgo are naturalized French citizens, born in Spain...The biggest irony in all of this is that Segolene Royal is the new Minister of the Environment. A position she is eminently qualified for  as she was Minister of The Environment under Mitterand years ago. In yesterdays news, all of the ministers showed up in their big prestige cars, except for Sego, who showed up in her trademark French made totally eco little black electric car and Christiane Taubira?
She rode up on her bike! She is still Minister of Justicein spite of the manufactured controversies and the racist hate!  We are at a cross road here in France. Sarkozy sinks deeper and deeper into the legal abyss of scandals that will ensure that he never can come back even though his supporters dream for some kind of miracle. His wife, the ex courtesan/model Italian Princess Carla Bruni's musical career is floundering. She's kind of pissed with Nicolas because when she gives a concert, more people show up to see him. His party, The UMP is desperately trying to play the Far Right alliance card with the FN and we are stuck with waiting for the FN to fuck up bad enough for the idiots who elected them run them out of town again like they did in the 1980's. In the 1980's and early 90's, the FN managed to gain a foothold in the South East. It was the same situation, exploiting economic insecurity, nationalism and stoking racist sentiment. In short order, they proved they were not able to govern and went down in a flurry of corruption scandals and the party splintered into a few little feuding fiefdoms. Unfortunately, The FN and the UMP have learned much from the tactics of the Tea Party and the American Conservative GOP and their use of media. We don't have a Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly yet, but there are few wannabees in the wings rehearsing.

Cry Baby, Cry......

Daddy, make that nasty evolution stop! I'm ascared!
Aaron Miller, the Minnesota Republican Party’s nominee for the 1st Congressional District, said this week that he wanted to win because learning about evolution made his daughter cry, and he wanted to make sure that schools were not forced to teach it.
In a report from the Mankato Free Press last month, Miller told a story to a Republican county convention about how his daughter became “very upset because she had to learn about evolution at school.” You can't make this stuff up, but obviously there is a portion of the American population who will do anything, say anything, believe in anything that empowers their agenda of willful ignorance.  Here's Millers statement and explanation of his position:

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


These are places I remember that are no longer there. The smell is gone. The Mars Bar at Second Avenue and E 2nd Street. It was still there in just a memory. The Second Avenue Deli up at a East 9th Street. It was a cultural landmark for over 60 years. Then the owner was gunned down in a robbery and the family just sold it for the offer they couldn't refuse. Then, there was CBGB. Now, there is the zombie ghost of CBGB in a pop museum in a casino in Las Vegas. No one who is interesting can even think of being able to afford to live in  The East Village in Lower Manhattan anymore. To be fair, I have a few friends who have managed to hang onto their rent controlled apartments, but most of my friends who live in NYC now live in Brooklyn or even further out....I lived there for over 25 years in an apartment on Avenue B and East 5th Street that I paid 125 bucks a month in 1979. I finally gave it up in 2010 and let the land lord buy me out. I think the 5th floor walk up railroad apartment I lived in with the bathtub in the kitchen it is renting for over $2,600 a month now. I spent a day wandering around the neighborhood trying to find anything that reminded me of of why I loved living there for so long. It was all gone, just humvees double parked and pudgy dudes with cigars giving each other attitude.