Wednesday, June 29, 2011

John Lennon was NOT a Republican - from Jon Wiener in the Nation Magazine

John Lennon 

There has been some controversy today over the idea that John Lennon was a Republican. Not likely. Fred Seaman, his former assistant, who was convicted of stealing Lennon's diaries and other personal belongings, has little credibility with me. I read his "tell it all" book about his former boss years ago. Jon Wiener in a blog piece written for the Nation, disputes the idea that Lennon was a Republican: 

from the article:

Late that November, Lennon spoke out on behalf of striking workers in Los Angeles and San Francisco. (The story is told in my book Come Together: John Lennon in His Time.) The strike was against Japan Foods Corporation, a subsidiary of the Japanese multinational Kikkoman, best known for its soy sauce. The US workers, primarily Japanese, were members of the Teamsters. In LA and San Francisco, they went on strike for higher wages. The shop steward of the LA local, Shinya Ono, persuaded John and Yoko to make a public statement addressed to the striking workers:
“We are with you in spirit.… In this beautiful country where democracy is the very foundation of its constitution, it is sad that we have to still fight for equal rights and equal pay for the citizens. Boycott it must be, if it is the only way to bring justice and restore the dignity of the constitution for the sake of all citizens of the US and their children.
“Peace and love, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York City, December, 1980.”
That was Lennon’s last written political statement. It doesn’t seem to be the work of a “closet Republican.”
Seaman says Lennon told him he was disillusioned with Jimmy Carter in 1980. Lots of people on the left were disillusioned with Jimmy Carter in 1980, and for good reasons. That didn't make you a Republican, closeted or otherwise. 
You can read the whole article here: 

John Lennon: NOT a Closet Republican

Jon Wiener 

Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul: "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord..."

Today is the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul in both the Eastern and Western Church. They are the two most revered apostles. Peter is considered the chief of the Apostles, while Paul wrote half of the New Testament. Peter is the apostle to the Jews, and Paul to the Gentiles.
I was raised Roman Catholic, and my confirmation name was Paul, taken after St. Paul, and partially because the Pope at the time was Paul VI (honestly, I chose him as my patron saint, because as a young lad, I was a big Beatle fan, and liked Paul McCartney! I thought it was always significant that there were four Beatles, like four evangelists, and that two of them had apostle names!) Now, I am kind of a “John” man, agreeing with Bultmann that John’s Gospel is the essential gospel.
One thing to remember about both Peter and Paul is that they preached Christ, not themselves.

I have a Facebook friend, a priest, who left one Christian tradition for another. He made the comment that the first tradition, in his view, tended to “preach themselves, and not Christ.”
Another time I was visiting a Church with my friend Dan, who is a self-identified Left-wing-Charismatic- Quaker-Anabaptist. He got into a friendly debate there with a young cleric about the relative validity of each other’s traditions, and the young cleric asserted, “but we have the Apostles!” Dan retorted, “what? You got them in a drawer somewhere? Let them out, for cryin’ out loud!”
It is important to remember that the Apostles themselves, while having a high view of the Church, preached Christ:
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 3.11, NRSV
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. – 2 Corinthians 2.2, NRSV
Paul warned against sectarianism:
For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human?1 Corinthians 3.4, NRSV
So today when we honor the Apostles, let’s honor them for their own sake, but because they preached Christ, not themselves:
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus'sake. – 2 Corinthians 4.5 ASV

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stocks Of Socialized Countries Have Outperformed U.S. Since Reagan Era: from Huffington Post

File under, "No shit, Sherlock..." of course, these countries, whose companies do not have the burden of private health insurance, and who have a stronger social safety net, do better, because as the late Sen. Paul Wellstone said, "We all do better when we all do better."

You can read the article here:
Stocks Of Socialized Countries Have Outperformed U.S. Since Reagan Era

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Irresponsible Government and Cynical Poltics in Minnesota

In our state of Minnesota, we have a standoff between a Republican legislature and a Democratic Governor, Mark Dayton. They cannot agree on a budget, so we are facing a shut down in this state.

When it comes to budget negotiations, Dayton gave ground from his end, the Republicans haven't; plus they are willing to make some of the most vulnerable people in our society suffer, while protecting some of the richest people in our society from what for them, is a little more in taxes, which will not hurt them one bit.

Plus, the Republicans squandered valuable time at the end of the regular session on that damn marriage amendment. So they are discrimminating against one group of people (gay and lesbian folk), using it as a wedge issue, and not completing the fiscal task they need to. That is irresponsible government and cynical poltics.

You see that is what poor values some Americans have these day? Protect the rich and powerful, and punish the poor, sick and disabled.

This is ungodly. I will not ever vote for a Republican. I had a good friend criticize me for this (for not being open even hypothetically to vote for a Republican). But until the Republicans show that they are responsible, they do not deserve my vote, and frankly, I do not think they deserve anyone else's either- unless you are rich and selfish.

I believe my view point will be vindicated next election, because the Republicans will be punished at the polls, mark my words.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Esperanza Spalding at 2008 Newport Jazz Festival

Wonderful video of Esperanza singing and playing upright bass solo, prefaced with her brief comments in an interview.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

John Entwistle, the Ox - A Tribute to the Greatest Bass Player in Rock

I took up playing bass largely due to the influence of the Who's John Entwistle. Many say that he is the greatest bass player in the history of rock and roll. He is certainly one of my very favorite players, along with Paul McCartney, Stanley Clarke, and the new star, Esperanza Spalding. John Entwistle has been chosen by many fan and critics polls as one of the greatest bass players ever, often number one or two among rock bassists.

My brother also plays bass, and him and I grew up listening to the Who's music. I had all the Who albums growing up, and their music meant so much to me. John Entwistle's bass playing was the anchor of the manic band, which featured Roger Daltery, Keith Moon, and Pete Townshend. On stage Townshend struck his guitar chords in a circular wind mill fashion and made big jumps with his guitar in the air; Roger Daltery twirled his microphone around and around in the air by the chord (in the days before chordless!); Keith Moon wailed and flayed upon the drums; but John Entwistle stood still on the left side of the stage, holding the band down both visually and musically like an anchor, shooting out his rubber-bullet, speedy, fluid, virtuoso bass lines. Albums like Live at Leeds, Who's Next, Quadrophenia, and Who Are You saw thousands of revolutions on my Sears Roebuck turn table. His playing is very distinctive on all of the albums, and John Entwistle made it cool to be the bass player in the band.

Whereas I did not play for almost 30 years, only recently returning to the bass, my brother has played all his adult life, and has learned nearly all of John's famous solos and parts. My bass teacher recently noted I had a "John Entwistle thing going on," the way I was playing at my last lesson. John has certainly influenced both of us.

One of my most treasured experiences ever with my brother was the day we got to meet John Entwistle in Minneapolis where I live. He came here with his band in 1995 and played at the famous First Avenue night club. My brother Layne and I met the Ox twice that day; first he signed records for us at the Electric Fetus Record Shop here in Minneapolis. We were literally the first in line. And then later that night, my brother and I  and another friend of mine from work stood on the floor at First Avenue, standing right in front of John Entwistle all night, watching his brilliant playing. In that concert, besides playing his Who and solo hits, his band performed nearly the entire Live at Leeds album, the original six song set. My brother and I literally were storing our beers on top between his two monitors on stage as we watched the band perform. I will always treasure that experience.

I have been listening to John a lot lately, I had a mix of his music on my blackberry as I worked out at the gym tonight. Tonight I thought I would offer a salute to the late John Entwistle, the Ox, the greatest bass player in rock and roll. Below are five videos that show case his talent.


Here is a solo performed by John with the Who, on the song, 5.15. This brief clip gives an idea of his unique style of bass playing.

When I saw John Entwistle perform in Minneapolis in 1996, his band played the Real Me from the Who's Quadrophenia. He introduced the song, saying that Pete (Townshend) wrote, and "I re-wrote it," no doubt referring to the very memorable bass line featured in the song. IT is so identified with him that it was a staple in his solo set list. This video showcases

The title track from John's 1981 solo album. One of my favorite Entwistle songs.

The raucous opening track from John's first solo album, My Size, which is pure hard rock. The song has the phrase, Smash Your Head Against a Wall, the title of the album. IT is a sequel to his Boris the Spider song, told from the spider's perspective.

The opening song in Who concerts from 1969-1971, Heaven and Hell, John's musings on the afterlife, featuring his virtuoso bass work. John Entwistle would famously say, "The Beatles made better records than us, but we could blow them off the stage." This performance lends credence to that notion, and makes a case for the Who being the greatest live rock and roll act of all time.

Web links:

The Ox - the John Entwistle Page

The John Entwistle Wikipedia article 

The official Who Page

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Being on the Wrong Side of History

Those who insist that the poor and oppressed have to constantly prove themselves "worthy" of being helped, have sided unconditionally with the oppressor. You have made your choice from a position of privilege, and are on the wrong side of history. You stand in opposition to the Rule of God.

Melike Ayan interviews Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding-parts 1& 2

Esperanza, as always, is sweet and gracious in her interviews. But what I really found interesting was at the end of part 1, she spoke about how she almost went into political science. She wanted to work with people in poverty, and look at root causes in solidarity with people in impoverished communities, to listen to them and focus on awareness. This young woman, who is so beautiful and talented and gracious in her demeanor also has a heart of gold, all of which make her such a compelling personality.

Melike Ayan interviews Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding-part 1

Melike Ayan interviews Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding-part 2

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Soul

The Soul does not love, it is Love Itself;

It does not exist, It is Existence Itself;

It does not know, It is Knowledge Itself.

- from the book, How to Know God - The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, page 130.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

God Stood with the Damned

Cursed is anyone who is hung on the gibbet. - Galatians 3.13.

"In the person of Jesus Christ on the Cross, God stood with the damned." - Leonardo Boff.

If Religion Was A Thing That Money Could Buy

In 1990, Paul McCartney covered the traditional spiritual, All My Trials. At the time, some saw it as an indictment of the Thatcher regime. The official video, which is embedded here, shows scenes of homeless people. There is also a live performance video of the song by Paul, and an very brief interview excerpt where Sr. Paul talks about the song and its political implications. I also have the lyrics below

In 2011 many state budgets in the U.S. are tight, and social programs that help the most needy and vulnerable in our society are subject to deep cuts. Representative Paul Ryan, a devotee of the Apostle of Selfishness, Ayn Rand, introduced a plan that would essentially dismantle Medicare as we know it.

This is a time for us to figure out whose side we are on, the wealthy and powerful, or those on the margins.



AH -
AH -




Esperanza Spalding's Austin City Limits Performance

On February 6, 2010, Esperanza Spalding appeared on the PBS television program Austin City Limits. The next day, Esperanza became the most searched person and second most searched item on Google as a result (this happened again for her after she won her Grammy for Best New Artist in February 2011).

It is a terrific performance, and unfortunately, as far as I know, it is not available on DVD; which is frustrating, because every time people try and post clips from this performance on Youtube, they get removed for copyright violation.

But, you can view Esperanza's entire performance here, at the Austin City Limits web site.

Here is the play list:

  • Jazz Ain't Nothing But Soul (see my poem, the Jazz Soul liberation of the People of God).
  • Sunlight.
  • Endangered Species  (Wayne Shorter cover with meaty bass guitar work)
  • Wild is the Wind (a Nina Simone cover, and Esperanza also acknowledges David Bowie's version. On this song, she bows the uprigth bass. This song was recorded for Esperanza's sublime 2010 release, the Chamber Music Society)
  • Ponta De Areia (The finale, Esperanza's original composition, the opening track, sung in Portugese, from her 2008 CD, Esperanza ). 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

You Can't Reconcile Ayn Rand with Jesus

As one of my friends on Facebook said today, even Rand knew that...

You Can't Reconcile Ayn Rand with Jesus, from USAToday.

What Can We Learn From Germany's Economy? From the Daily Beast

Germany has much higher tax rates than the US; spends much more on social programs; and has national health care. Yet Germany has a trade SURPLUS, roughly the same projected growth rate in 2011 as the US, and a 7 percent unemployment rate! What can we learn from Germany? (

What we can learn from Germany's Economy

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Definition of a Christian

I love this definition of a Christian given by my favorite singer songwriter, Bruce Cockburn. I adopt it as my own definition of what a Christian is. -Lance 

"The only definition of a Christian - I got this from C.S. Lewis - is somebody who accepts the reality of Christ. What is that reality? Well, there we get into fights, don't we? I know my own experience tells me there is somebody - and it's not a thing - at the centre of Christianity. I assume it to be Christ, and assume that's my point of contact with God, whom none of us have a very good definition for. I like to talk about Love rather than God. What we think of as love is his expression of involvement in the universe, and that is the glue that holds everything together, from the subatomic particles up. It is also the hand that breaks us apart, but that has to do with our failure to relate to it properly. Doubts caused by the behaviour of the church can only be answered by personal experience. Sometimes it takes an effort to remember the experiences you've had and how vivid they were. A lot of shit gets in the way."

-- from "Faith in Practice: Holding on to the Mystery of Love" by Bruce Cockburn (as told to Cole Morton), p. 15, Third Way, September 1994.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stevie Wonder Performing Superstition on TV in 1973

This is a COOL video. Back in 1973, a LOT of people were COOL; in fact everyone in this video is COOL. Often these days, people are decidedly NOT cool. But back in the sixties and early seventies, people could quite often be cool. One thing for certain- this video is cool, the song is cool, and Stevie Wonder is cool, and as I said, so is everyone in this video. I long for COOL to return!