Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ray Davies at the Warfield Theater, San Francisco

Ray Davies of Kinks fame opened the North American leg of his current tour at the historic Warfield Theater in San Francisco last night. I've seen Ray solo at least three times now, and the Kinks countless times since 1976 (Schoolboys in Disgrace tour), and last night's show ranked among the best Ray concert experiences ever, and certainly the best for many, many years.

This was not the mellow but charming Ray Davies Storyteller show we've enjoyed and gotten used to over his last several American visits (or, at least, the ones I've caught). This was a real Rock 'n' Roll show that rivaled seeing the Kinks in the late 1970s (Low Budget/Give he People What They Want era), just before their last surge of early 80's popularity took them out of the mid-sized theaters and put them into arena territory.

The first set opened up with Ray alone on stage, Stratocaster in hand, playing the opening verse of I'm Not Like Everybody Else. By the end of that song the entire four-piece backing band is on stage with him and you know you've made a very wise ticket purchase decision. A handful of other early Kinks classics follow before alternating between Kinks favorites and newer songs from Other People's Lives (2006) and the title track of the recently released Working Man's Cafe.

The second set opened looking more like the previous tours, with Ray on a stool with an acoustic guitar, music stand nearby, and only the lead guitarist (in a chair) to accompany him, treating us to This is Where I Belong. It didn't take long, however, for the rest of the band to join them, and for the stool, chair, and music stand to be taken away. While Ray still has a magic way of connecting to an audience and telling stories about the songs, there would be no readings from the big book of X-Ray on this tour. This set included more material from the new album along with some Kinks gems.

Encores included Days like you've never heard before, Lola, and the expanded version of You Really Got Me. The audience (seeming sold out?) remained in place and on their feet cheering for quite some time after the house lights came up before reluctantly exiting the theater.

For those keeping score, I'd estimate about 40% Kinks songs and 30% each from Other People's Lives and Working Man's Cafe. Of course, with a catalog that now spans 45 years (Forty-Five Years!!!), there were many favorites that did not make the set list and entire eras were left out completely.

If you have the chance to catch Ray on this tour, don't think twice, just buy the ticket. And, in case I didn't make this clear enough, the new album is great too.

Other details: Opening band, Everest, (acoustic trio) was very good. Their first album comes out on May 6. If you are going to a show at the Warfield, don't eat first. Just get there early and order the Chicken Burrito. It's excellent.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Edition 3.05

Welcome to the Carnival of the Decline of [American] Democracy, Edition 3.05 - Blogging 'till the secret police take us away.

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy Laslo Weger starts us off with a double header. In his first entry he looks at political parties as feuding tribes in Modern Tribalism. Laslo follows that with an examination of the detrimental effects of official privacy on democracy It's Time to End the Executive Privilege, each posted at Outsider's View.

Whereas government secrecy is detrimental to freedom, Timothy Moreland worries about the loss of personal privacy in U.S. Presidential Candidates Passport Information Scandal Has Broader Implications for U.S. Citizens posted at timmorelandonline.

Count Florida is a new blog dedicated to the single issue of whether or not the Democratic primaries in Florida and Michigan should count, even though they "violated party rules." I think you can guess which side they take in Florida's Vote Should Count! posted at COUNT FLORIDA!.

Barry Leiba looks at religion creeping into our public life in Why we have to keep close watch... posted at Staring At Empty Pages.

Madeleine Begun Kane leaves us with a little humor in Ode To Eliot Spitzer posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness.

Information on future carnivals (should there be one) will be found on our carnival home page or on this blog. Yes, I'm thinking of halting this carnival for at least a short time, but I'll write a separate blog entry about my reasons for that in a few days. Thank you for your support during the time this carnival has run.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barack Obama on Race, Elections, and the More Perfect Union

Earlier I had written that Barack Obama was the first major party presidential candidate that I had been excited about for two decades (probably since the moment that Gary Hart got photographed on the Monkey Business with Donna Rice).

Then the nomination battle got even uglier than it had been. While I blamed the Clinton camp for most of that ugliness, I feared that Obama was ready to go in the mud as well and I feared that my enthusiasm would prove to have been a mistake.

And then today Senator Obama nearly brought me to tears again with another stirring and moving speech.

If you've got thirty-seven minutes to spare, skip right down to the video. In fact, just do it. I could write a long post about what I feel the highlights of the speech are, but it could never be the same as hearing it from him. I think this is important enough for every American to make the time to view.

Senator Obama makes me proud to be an American, and proud to support him for President.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Edition 3.04

Welcome to the Carnival of the Decline of [American] Democracy, Edition 3.04 - Blogging 'till the secret police take us away.

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy Ian Welsh starts the carnival off with an examination of what happens when the checkers and balancers give up their responsibilities in The End of America's Genius? posted at Firedoglake.

Laslo Weger continues the checks and balances discussion and finds it's us who's dropped the ball in Life Above All posted at Outsider's View.

Howard Ditkoff questions why Ralph Nader has failed to make election reform a major part of his independent platform in The Key Issue Suspiciously Missing from Ralph Nader’s “Table” posted at Blog.

Meanwhile, Justin questions why Ralph Nader in Nader '08: Warning, Spoiler Alert! Hate to Spoil It, But People Will Be Saying "Spoiler" A Lot Now posted at We Op-Ed.

Holly Ord looks at the wonderful gift of freedom that we've given the women of Afghanistan in George Bush Thinks Poverty, Death and Abuse are Blessings of Freedom posted at Menstrual Poetry.

Shaheen Lakhan talks about the disenfranchisement of the elderly in Elderly Patients Face Tough Barriers When Voting posted at GNIF Brain Blogger.

I'll be back in about two weeks (March 24) with the next edition of the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Submit Your Posts Here. More information on future carnivals can be found on our carnival home page.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Clinton's Big Comeback (and punchline is?)

Wow! The headlines are amazing! Hillary Clinton, just about counted out for the Democratic nomination two days ago, makes an amazing comeback and stays in!

Only one problem with this scenario that's being heralded all over America this morning. She hasn't got a snowball's chance of passing Obama before the convention.

Yes, she won three out of four contests yesterday, but with the way delegates are divided up, she'll likely wind up with 187 more delegates to Obama's gain of 183. She's only netted four delegates into his lead.

The problem for Clinton, as has been discussed here and and spelled out here, is that it's too little too late. Huge wins in every remaining primary (an extremely unlikely situation) cannot put her ahead of Obama in either pledged delegates or popular vote.

Her only reason for staying in at this point would be to force a floor fight and convince the super-delegates to go against the people's will to nominate her. Not a good situation for anybody hoping to defeat John McCain in November.

Is she really that ego-driven, or is she just that stupid? Really. I want to know.

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