Veterans Are Fair

This was written in 2016. Much of it remains relevant.

My Dad served in the Signal Corps during World War II. Throughout his life, he remarked on how lucky he’d been to never see combat, that he never had to kill, never had to watch in horror as a friend fell in battle. In April of 1945, Dad was among the first to learn that the war in Europe was about to end. He wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about Germany’s imminent surrender, but he soon discovered that word had gotten out anyway. Celebration. Jubilation. Peace!

Dad was…well, maybe not quite apolitical, but not strictly beholden to one party. I’d guess he was registered as a Democrat; I remember him remarking several times that he’d regretted voting for FDR and JFK, but I believe he voted for Humphrey in ’68. I have no idea whether or not he voted for Reagan in the ’80s. I think he voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic Primary (insisting that it shouldn’t be Barack Obama’s turn yet), and then voted for Obama in the general election. He had many Republican friends, and he certainly voted for Republicans whenever he felt it was appropriate. Dad passed away in hospice at the VA Hospital in Syracuse in 2012, grateful for the long life he’d lived. I don’t miss him in exactly the sense you’d think, because he is with me every day, in everything I do. Dad was just one hell of a guy, and he taught me long ago to cherish family, friends, and love. Everything that’s ever been any damned good about me comes from my family.

Dad cherished fairness. After Bill Clinton’s election in 1992, Dad was appalled to hear idiots on the radio crowing in anticipation of all the things that were sure to go wrong during this new Clinton Administration, wetting themselves over the chance to tell us I told you so! Dad was furious with that. They want the country to fail!, he said. He couldn’t believe that any American, on the right or the left, could actively root against the country’s well-being.

And I’m not going to do what my Dad hated; not even as Donald Trump prepares to become the President.

Dad would never have voted for Trump. He would have rejected the hateful elements of Trump’s campaign, and he would have voted for Hillary Clinton. But that’s not the point. Trump won the election. He will be our 45th President. And I hope the republic stands. I hope the republic thrives.

None of this is meant to dismiss the anger, disappointment, and even fear that many of us feel this week. Trump’s rhetoric has been divisive and scary. There is ample reason to be nervous about President Trump.

But I think as Dad would have. We need to support this land we love. We need to hope. This doesn’t mean we can just go along with any crazy notion foisted upon us; we still stand fast with our core beliefs, our belief in justice, our belief in racial equality, women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and our belief in protecting this planet from the devastation of climate change. We don’t surrender these values any more than Republicans surrendered their values during the Obama Administration. We fight. But we fight within the system, and we seek to find common ground with our friends on the right. They love this country, too. We can work together to save social security, to rebuild infrastructure, protect our citizens, and preserve our future. We can take care of our veterans, for God’s sake. And I hope we can figure out some way to salvage affordable health care, and improve upon it.

Time is on our side. A majority of Americans support progressive ideals, the results of this election notwithstanding. We will continue to work toward a more perfect union–a fairer union. Just like Dad would have wanted.

Not my President. That’s become a popular phrase this week, as we deal with the sick feeling in our guts as we contemplate Donald Trump’s electoral victory. But, come January 20th, Donald Trump will be our President, like it or not. I don’t like it. I hate it. And I’m not going to suddenly start liking it, either, Nonetheless, I’m going to hope. I’m going to call on the President-Elect to publicly renounce hatred, to remind us once again that we can be–we are–one country, in spite of our differences, and, in fact, stronger because of them. Race, creed, gender, sexual identity, party affiliation, even musical taste–these are categories. These are adjectives, and we are nouns. People. Americans. We fight. We unite. We prevail.

Don’t argue with my Dad.

My niece and my Dad, when they were still with us. A long time ago.

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THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (VOLUME 1): The Lost Chapters!

Today’s post is a tangent to my perhaps-imaginary/perhaps-eventual book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). I had no problem filling the proposed GREM! book with what I think and hope are interesting chapters about 135 individual tracks. Tracks were selected and sequenced for the book’s narrative flow, and there are a ton of other tracks worthy of equal consideration. The book’s oft-repeated slogan applies: An infinitive number of tracks can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns.

I finished writing the book at the beginning of this year. Since then, I’ve continued to do proofreads and tightening, and I’ve made it a little shorter than it was in January. 

But even before I reduced the book from 175 songs to 135 songs, I already had a big, big stack of finished GREM! chapters that weren’t going to be in Volume 1. Here’s a list of songs for which I completed some sort of GREM! entry, but which will not be in The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1):

ARTHUR ALEXANDER: Soldier Of Love

AMERICA: Sister Golden Hair

BADFINGER: Day After Day

THE BARBARIANS: Take It Or Leave It

FONTELLA BASS: Rescue Me

THE BEATLES: Hey Jude

THE BEATLES: Thank You, Girl

THE BEVIS FROND: He’d Be A Diamond

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT: This Ain’t The Summer Of Love

SOLOMON BURKE: Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

THE BUZZCOCKS: Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)

THE BYRDS: I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better

THE CASTAWAYS: Liar, Liar

RAY CHARLES: Hit The Road, Jack

THE CLASH: Train In Vain

PAUL COLLINS/THE BREAKAWAYS: Walking Out On Love

EDDIE COCHRAN: Somethin’ Else

ARTHUR CONLEY: Sweet Soul Music

THE CONTOURS: Do You Love Me

SAM COOKE: Chain Gang

THE COOKIES: Wounded

ALICE COOPER: School’s Out

THE CREATION: Making Time

DEEP PURPLE: Highway Star

THE DIXIE CUPS: Iko Iko

THE EVERLY BROTHERS: Gone, Gone, Gone

FIRST AID KIT: America

THE FIVE STAIRSTEPS: O-o-h Child

THE FOUR SEASONS: Walk Like A Man

THE GO-GO’S: Surfing And Spying

GRAND FUNK: We’re An American Band

AL HIRT: The Green Hornet Theme

THE HUMAN SWITCHBOARD: (Say No To) Saturday’s Girl

WANDA JACKSON: Let’s Have A Party

THE JAM: That’s Entertainment

RICK JAMES: Super Freak

ELTON JOHN: Saturday Night’s Alright For Fightin’

JUDAS PRIEST: Heading Out To The Highway

THE KINKS: You Really Got Me 

THE LEFT BANKE: Walk Away, Renee

LOVE: 7 And 7 Is

THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL: Summer In The City

NICK LOWE: So It Goes

THE MC5: Kick Out The Jams

THE MONKEES: A Girl I Knew Somewhere

THE MONKEES: I Never Thought It Peculiar

THE MUFFS: Saying Goodbye

THE MYNAH BIRDS: I Got You (In My Soul)

THE NEW YORK DOLLS: Personality Crisis

THE ONLY ONES: Another Girl, Another Planet

TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS: American Girl

GENE PITNEY: 24 Hours From Tulsa

SUZI QUATRO: I May Be Too Young

JOEY RAMONE AND GENERAL JOHNSON: Rockaway Beach (On The Beach)

THE RAMONES: Babysitter

THE RAMONES: I Don’t Want To Grow Up

THE RASPBERRIES: I Wanna Be With You

EMITT RHODES: Fresh As A Daisy

NELSON RIDDLE: The Batman Theme

THE ROMANTICS: What I Like About You

THE RUBINOOS: I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

RUN DMC: Walk This Way

THE RUNAWAYS: Cherry Bomb

THE SEARCHERS: Hearts In Her Eyes

RONNIE SPECTOR AND THE E STREET BAND: Say Goodbye To Hollywood

SQUEEZE: Tempted

T. REX: 20th Century Boy

R. DEAN TAYLOR: Indiana Wants Me

TELEVISION: Elevation

VAN HALEN: Dance The Night Away

THE VELVELETTES: He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’

THE VENTURES: Walk–Don’t Run

WHAM!: Freedom

Some of these are more finished than others; the less-finished ones (Ray Charles, for example) would have still needed some tweaking before I deemed them acceptable for use in the book. Still, each of these exists in some sort of complete (if not quite final) draft. Many of these pieces were intended for inclusion in the GREM! book at some point, but many were not. One WILL appear in a non-GREM! book in July of 2023, as part of my first book. The GREM! book itself does not yet have an assured path to publication, but I’m working in it. 

Some of these lost chapters may yet appear in an even-more-hypothetical This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, Volume 2; if so, they will appear alongside some other chapters I haven’t finished writing. 

That’s the very nature of the infinite. The story continues.

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This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

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THE EVERLASTING FIRST: Quick Takes For J (Comics Edition)

Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock ‘n’ roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it’s the subsequent visits–the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time–that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.

THE JOKER

JUSTICE, INC.

My mid-’70s fascination with paperback reprints of 1930s Doc Savage pulp adventures led me to The Shadow, and to The Avenger, a lesser-known pulp hero also credited to Doc Savage’s presumed creator, Kenneth Robeson. Robeson was a house name at Doc’s publishing company Street & Smith, a pseudonym used by any writer working on Doc Savage’s adventures, including Lester Dent, the writer recognized as Doc’s main scribe. Dent, along with The Shadow’s creator Walter Gibson, are said to have been involved with The Avenger’s creation in an advisory capacity, but the origin and subsequent stories in The Avenger were mostly written by Paul Ernst, writing as Robeson. The Avenger‘s stories were exciting–even better than Doc Savage, as I recall–featuring the exploits of Richard Benson, a hero with the ability to change his appearance. In the wake of a devastating tragedy, Benson transformed from a wealthy prick into The Avenger, and formed Justice, Inc., his own little crime-fighting combo. Unique among pulp series of the day, Justice, Inc. included a black couple–Josh and Rosabel Newton–who were portrayed as intelligent, courageous, capable members of The Avengers’ team, rather than as the derogatory racial stereotypes prevalent at the time. In the ’70s, DC Comics licensed The Avenger for a comic book series; to avoid confusion with rival Marvel Comics‘ superhero book The Avengers, DC released these new Avenger adventures under the title Justice, Inc.

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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin’ pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins’ BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here. 

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