Not Just Here?

This my cousin Bill who lives, farms, cooks, does business and writes in the area around Burlington, Vermont. As with many of us, he is opinionated and not slow to make a comment when he feels it appropriate. Here’s his latest:

bill-schubart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are We Thinking?

I’m struggling to reconcile the unfolding Jay Peak scandal and the “we did a great job” remarks of our elected administration officials. According to the SEC, the developers misused $200M.

Politicians are concerned about injuring Vermont “business reputation,” but reputation is founded on integrity – which is not about controlling information, but about acting on it to ensure integrity.
If proven, this would be the single largest fraud in Vermont’s 225-year history, involving 700 immigrants from 74 countries. The State’s potential liability approximates 5% of our annual $5.5B budget and could, when all the criminal and civil actions are tallied levy a $200+M liability on Vermont’s 325,000 taxpayers. A lot is at stake.

Two vital tenets of democracy are transparency and accountability of elected officials. Press efforts to rightfully obtain public records through FOIA requests are being met with delays and price tags designed to stonewall disclosure. This isn’t transparency. The open talk about destroying executive branch emails should send shivers down the spines of Vermonters. Precisely because politicians are elected to conduct the people’s business, the people have a right to know why, how, and when. Civic shrugs, administrative backpedaling, and legislative ignorance combine to form a Petri dish for corruption, and corruption is much harder to root out than it is to prevent.

Some of this alleged fraud occurred under Secretary Pat Moulton’s watch. For her to now blame the U.S. Immigration Service for not responding to her request that investors’ requests “…be met favorably when these investors apply for their green cards,” seems both arrogant and naïve.

The EB-5 program, with all its ethical ambiguities, is a matter of law. Efforts by Vermont politicians to lower the blowback on themselves by demanding the Feds circumvent the program’s legal process in order to relieve defrauded and angry investors is reprehensible.

The investors are not the only victims. Unpaid contractors await payment of $4.5 million and the citizens of Newport have a collection of cellar holes as the centerpiece of their new downtown.

I applaud the press corps for doing its job despite the administration’s urging to back off. Every Vermonter should want the press corps to succeed so we understand what happened and why. This is not punitive. It’s responsible democracy. And that democracy – beleaguered as it might be at the moment – is ours.

Here is part of what he is on about in the comment:

Newport

We can deduce that a passel of immigrants were admitted on an investor status and the money that they plowed in to a certain development hasn’t worked out as advertised. This has the same kind of stink all over it, including stalled FOI requests and deleted e-mails, that characterizes so much of our province’s dealings. Oh, the horror! Ours is not the only jurisdiction where such shenanigans are the centrepiece of an administration that frequently touts its ongoing efforts at openness and transparency, as well as insisting that it is the group best apt to bring sound fiscal policy to its constituents. Is it any wonder that our society is falling apart, not only at the seams, but in the unravelling of the whole cloth.

Right.

People should worry about right & wrong instead of right & left.

As I answered to the above tweet from Norm Farrell, our current situation is based on how wrong the Right has been since the early hours of their administration in May of 2001, and how consistently they have been wrong. Both Campbell and Clark have subscribed to the cover ideology of fiscal restraint, a false financial conservatism based loosely on the Washington Consensus idea of austerity, generally based on falsehoods served up to the press, and generally aimed at enriching their friends and corporate sponsors. The very fact of the protracted and ongoing damage that this group has inflicted on both society and the environment is cause enough to seek the most immediate and credible alternative.

The hitch lies in what is perceived to be a very flawed record on the part of the official opposition, and a lack of willingness (I care not on whose part) to form a cooperative union of all the opposition. I personally feel very cheated of what should have been a decade of social progress from 1991-2001, but it looks, from all the evidence I’ve seen, as though the New Democrats of the day bore much more resemblance to Tony Blair than to Jeremy Corbyn, and that they had adopted the same stance as the Federal Liberal Party of Canada, shamefully campaigning from the Left, only to govern from the Right, embracing some Lite version of the corporatism and cronyism that characterizes the current rascals in  the Rockpile.

As in many jurisdictions, including the aforementioned Tony Blair’s UK, the U.S. under Clinton, France under Mitterrand and now Hollande, Germany under Schroeder, Spain under Zapatero, Portugal under Costa and lately Greece under Tsipras, what is supposed to be the social alternative turns out to be pretty much more of the same slash and burn, corporatism-in-the-guise-of-trade, trickle-down crumbs-off-the-edge-of-the-table kind of administration characterized by our own Stephen Harper and Christy Clark.

This lack of choice is the price we pay for a lack of vigilance and a lack of willingness to put the proverbial foot down when our elected representatives go astray into the fields of pork-barrel politics and cease to govern in the long-term interest of society. The Left and Right are labels that might have outlived their usefulness in the current context, because what we’ve really seen is Right and Right-Lite. The chances of our ever getting a sample of what a real leftist government should be look to be ephemeral at best, and even leaner as we see the possibility that our current mores will lead to a very short future, but that ought not preclude the effort to work for something genuinely better than that under which we currently labour.

Faith That Mires, Faith That Inspires (If You Care To Look)

CCFAith

 

 

 

 

 

From the Vancouver Sun, a piece about how Christy Clark’s Christian faith protects her from insults and people who doubt her integrity.

in·teg·ri·ty

inˈteɡrədē/
noun
 1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
  1. “he is known to be a man of integrity”
    synonyms: honestyprobityrectitudehonor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousnessmoralityvirtuedecency, fairness,

    scrupulousness, sinceritytruthfulness, trustworthiness

    2.   the state of being whole and undivided.
    “upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty”

There would seem to be some divergence on Ms. Clark’s part from any claim to the above definition of integrity, though there is another thought about the term as meaning consistent with itself, and on this score, our Premier scores quite high marks. She might well be concerned about perceptions regarding her character, but it doesn’t ring true that she would need the comforting of Christian principles to hold her ground, given how far from the purported message of Christ she has strayed in her doings since being elected to public office. She has consistently chosen the camp of the moneylenders, has steadfastly declined to take action to improve the lives of the downtrodden and less fortunate, and, above all else, seems to have considerable difficulty determining where any truth lies beyond her own self-serving version of making the difficult decisions, putting families first, and building the best economy for all British Columbians. Most of what she terms insults are simple statements of fact, the litany of injury done to the present and future of the province she leads. She reminds me of my reading of Tartuffe, both in high school and again in university, along with a host of other cautionary tales about people who become public figures to feather their own nests and satisfy their own need for recognition. How is it that a major donation of public money ends up in the hands of the religious institution on which Ms. Clark relies for her soul soothing?    It’s enough to drive people to some sort of deep cynicism about religion, though I happen to live with someone who takes the message of Christianity quite seriously,

That person shuns the spotlight, is generous to a fault and invests both time and resources in improving the lives of those not endowed with the advantages of birth, career, relationships and the temporal situation that allowed many of us now retired boomers to live a life of relative comfort and security. Certainly, all humanity gets a place in her prayers, and, despite the rigours of a strict Mennonite upbringing, this includes those of other faiths, those nullifidians (thanks, Anu) she encounters, people of all colours, creeds, political outlooks, social strata and sexual orientation. She has always been and remains a model mother for her boys and a loving and concerned grandmother to the next generation. She isn’t a saint, just an exceptionally considerate, gentle, helpful and hardworking woman who operates on a belief system deeply rooted in the teachings of Christ. It’s a big part of what allows her to live with a heathen like me.

 

 

The Mayor Helps

LH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Lisa Helps of Victoria spoke yesterday at a gathering to memorialize those killed and injured at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and to allow a space for those shocked and traumatized by the events. This is pretty standard procedure for politicians. She also made direct mention of her sexual orientation, something not heretofore known to be part of her rhetoric, though she noted that everyone at City Hall and most of the community had known all along. This is what struck me, and I hope I’m not reading too much into it, but here’s my thought:

Watch it! Gross oversimplification on the way, combined with personal perspective. Bear with me, please.

 

We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, sexual and social beings. Much of what we do, particularly in the long period between puberty and senility, is driven by what is essentially a need to reproduce. Many narratives have grown surrounding our reproductive activity, particularly once the survival of the species seemed to be assured, wherein folks began to focus increasingly on the possible pleasures of the reproductive act and the social aspects of that interaction and its place in social intercourse. This has generated, over the centuries and millennia, a variety of narratives that we use to define our sexual selves and a lot of our social interactions with other individuals and groups. These narratives have become so ingrained that they produce some pretty serious cognitive dissonance when they butt up against conflicting narratives. This might be pretty devastating, particularly where some of the conflict might be internal, and to pile that on the conflicts inherent already in many of the narratives, might produce considerable stress and frustration.

 

We seem to be in a period where there is either an increasing amount of sexual misconduct of various forms and at various levels of harm, or where said misconduct is more readily becoming public. The recent Stanford Rape case, compounded by parental enabling-after-the-fact and what looks a lot like judicial laxism and favouritism, seems typical of current revelations, but then, there are cases such as that of a British MP who apparently interfered with young girls for several decades, something just now coming to light. What makes is acceptable is some people’s minds to unload their sexual tensions on someone else without consent? There must be a story inside these heads that says to them that it’s all right to engage in this kind of conduct, mostly in full knowledge that the law says otherwise, and that it isn’t being done generally in society.

 

Much of the cultural narrative I saw in my formative years was a very traditional look at the roles of men and women, along with a heavy dose of courtly love propaganda. As a counterpoint, my parents shared some of the household chores, discussed issues as equals and clearly formed the closest mutual admiration society I’ve ever known. This held up even after Dad died and continued, as far as I can tell, until Maggie’s death some fifteen years later. So along with all the fiction I read, the television I watched ( I quit for about a dozen years starting around age twelve because I found so much of it to be embarrassingly stupid), all the paintings, sculptures, poems and songs from all the ages, I had a head full of mostly that image of a steadfast, courtly and passionate love, and it was definitely focused on women. As I got into my later teens, I got immersed in blues music, meaning that I also got a big dose of the chest-thumping machismo of many of the big-name artists, the sly references to carnality or Bessie Smith’s bust-outbawd, and this seemed to permeate much of the love ethos of the milieux in which I traveled, with the temporizing influence of parental observation always lurking in the background. Illicit love was cheating on your partner and there was no admission that your partner might be of the same sex. All those perverts out there remained marginalized and stayed on the periphery of consciousness.

As society has adapted, so have I, and I like to think that I might even have been a bit ahead of the curve, particularly as I learned that I had pervert relatives, friends and former girlfriends, people who continued to be, as ever, wonderful people, so hey! what does it matter. They weren’t”out” in the full sense of public disclosure. I was “out”, but as a flaming heterosexual, a label I likely wore proudly.

Here is what Lisa Helps did: she just is who she is, and broadly tolerant of what other people are, but she didn’t walk around with a sign indicating that she was, for instance. the gay city councillor, or the gay mayor. She was a city councillor and her sexual orientation had nothing do to with it. Same for mayorishness.

With all the conditioning that goes on, we have to wonder whether the expectations we get from the narratives that surround us lead us to wear labels in hopes that labels will lead us to the fulfillment of these expectations, cause us to buy into what the extant narratives are selling without necessarily knowing that this is a subconscious act that leads to conscious acts. Lisa Helps waited until it was entirely appropriate to make a grand statement, and there was no judgement, belligerence or hostility in that statement, insisting that we may be different, but that no difference should separate us as social beings if we’re willing to tolerate and embrace plurality and cease to accept that threatening someone else for the peaceful expression of their social mores serves no constructive purpose. It stirs up a good deal of reflection about how the Orlando massacre came to happen and what we need to do to move ahead. It was, I thought,  a pretty neat trick on the part of Her Lordship.

Apologies for the rambling and disjointed nature of the piece. It’s a fragment of a much larger contemplation on narratives that’s been kicking about on and off for a couple of decades and is still very much lacking focus and resolution.

A House Divided

BS

 

HRC

…and a good thing it is, too. I speak of the U.S. Democratic Party, which has gone to great lengths to show that it is anything but democratic. If, indeed, Hillary is the nominee, should she invite Bernie to be her running mate? Should he accept a role in the campaign to elect Hillary? No, because the man isn’t what makes the difference. For the first time in a long time, there has been real and substantive discussion about ideas and policy, and many issues have come to the fore in this primary campaign that seem to have been totally lacking in most previous campaigns, both in the US, here in Canada, and farther afield. Would those issues be addressed more efficiently and thoroughly in a Clinton White House were Sanders part of “the Team”? I think not. The rôle of the Vice President has been famously ceremonial, and might be a convenient place to put Sanders so that he can orate endlessly and harmlessly while lending some credibility to an administration otherwise woefully bereft of credibility on anything other than Wall Street plunder and eternal and universal war. There was, I seem to recall, a quip from the old Soviet days in Russian affairs that one should keep one’s friends close, and one’s enemies even closer. Following that line of thinking, it seems logical that Sanders should be trussed up as part of the Clinton package to appease the Berners and effectively neutralize the Bern.

 

Remember Obama’s soaring rhetoric of 2008? Do we feel fulfilled, do we sense that there has been a major shift in US and Western policy? Is the US a significantly more empathic and egalitarian place than it was when our second Black president took office? It isn’t, and the wife of our First Black President would like to keep it that way, so snuffing out the first wisps of the smoke and fire of a real re-writing of how we do things is likely high on her list of events to manage. Sanders needs to stand back from the coming storm (unless he gets nominated) and keep his powder dry.

 

Standing On Guard For All?

Bit of a ramble here because a lot of this keeps me scratching my head at the level of blind acceptance we accord to traditions, the protection of those traditions and the negative reaction to proposals to modify or extinguish anything even loosely defined as a tradition. The latest volley in the tradition wars is the proposal to change a line in our national anthem from”…in all thy sons command” to “… in all of us command”, part of a desire on the part of an MP to render the national anthem gender neutral and therefore more inclusive. Said MP is apparently on a fast track to an early expiration and seems to have engendered more bickering than sympathy.

 

There have been a ton of interesting and different renditions of national anthems over the years, most of the interest being generated in the name of being different, or sheer shock value.  The first shocker was the Hendrix rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock, a somewhat different affair from the typical fare at sporting events where the reverence can be irreverent, but the tribute must be paid. Most renditions are pretty serious, but there are singers who just plain overdo the operatics and the embellishments and those who want to show how Country they are, and there may be disco, jazz, reggae, polka, trance, metal and other styles applied to anthem singing, but I’ve managed to miss them. In fact, as I’ve moved into serious curmudgeonness, I tend to screen out the anthems and, increasingly, the sporting events that follow.

 

 

 

I remember sitting through this, just stunned:

 

Carlos has come a long way since the early Fillmore/Mission District days:

 

The kicker is this lovely rendition of O, Canada, which, hopefully, does not indicate the level of respect for Canada from its border mate and largest trading partner:

 

 

I love where I live and I’m a great enthusiast for much of what passes for Canadian ethos and culture, though it often seems as though there is something of a discrepancy between who we are and who we think we are (was it Germans who started saying that the way to great wealth was to buy a Frenchman for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth? Canadians are not alone in being blissfully unaware of much of what’s done in their names). I like the idea that we want to have symbols of inclusion in all that we do, particularly in those national artifacts that are supposed to be the greatest expression of the Canadian spirit, but I see almost daily and generally across the country where people are much more concerned about the image that we project than they are in living, as a population, up to our expressed and implied ideals. Let’s work at reversing that phenomenon and the cultural artifacts will take care of themselves.

 

Post Post Note:

I was travelling with family in the Massif Central in France at the time of Bastille Day in not-too-recent history, during which visit we attended several official celebratory functions. I realized at the end of it all that I had never once heard the singing of La Marseillaise, and if it had been sung, I would have heard it. So where was the Cocorico?!

None So Blind As He Who Will Not See

3 monkeys 3

 

A couple of interesting reads at Common Dreams and DeSmog Canada stirred up the meninges this morning. The first outlines a choice that confronts shareholders at meetings of Exxon-Mobile and Chevron this coming Wednesday with regard to fossil fuels and climate disruption, the second outlines the somewhat disturbing message from Brad Wall’s recent Throne Speech in Saskatchewan as he undertakes another majority mandate.

It is sad that, following the application of major scientific resources to the question, including those of governments and fossil fuel companies, there are still legislators who can characterize climate change as “some misguided dogma that has no basis in reality.” The oil giants’ own documentation aligns closely with the reports of the IPCC, and given that these are the people who own so many governments, including, it would seem, that of Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C., who, even with the introduction of a possible carbon tax in Alberta, continue to push for the construction of major fossil fuel infrastructure, meaning that they intend to get the stuff out of the ground and sell it off as quickly as they can (or as their proponents in private business can).

The fossil fuel industry continues to justify its existence on the basis of the economic activity it generates without mentioning that, for all the dollars it has spent on financing sales of trucks, RVs, ATVs, McMansions, and extended holidays in remote and romantic locations, it has taken out more than it has left. Despite the bleatings about the heavy burden of taxation imposed on fossil fuels, the corporations involved, as well as their executive suites, have made out like bandits, and the least subscribed beneficiary has been the public weal as a succession of federal and provincial régimes has deferred taxes and subsidized both directly and indirectly, those corporations who make such large withdrawals from the common resource. This doesn’t count the costs of remediation of the devastated landscapes of the Athabaska region, oil installations in Saskatchewan, Northeast B.C., along with coal mines hither and thither across the Canadian landscape and the potential for offshore spills in Atlantic Canada. The only reason this economic activity hasn’t been replaced with reconstruction and refinement of public infrastructure and the transition to sustainable energy is the set of close links between business and our various governments, leaving said governments to protect the privileged economic and social position of Bay Street and its equivalents in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and elsewhere. It has become abundantly clear that those in the executive suite have known for decades how harmful their activities are and have pursued those activities in spite of the message that they are literally destroying the common living space in a headlong rush to amass wealth before the whole show goes up in smoke. They have essentially taken out a mortgage on the future of humanity (and much of the rest of life on Earth) without having the least hope of paying it back.

 

The rest of us bear much of the responsibility for allowing this to happen. Just as the rise of idiot candidates for high office in many jurisdictions shows a lack of education and the fortitude to call out the insanity that fuels the inane behaviour of the political and mercantile classes, we, as a society, have in large part drunk the Kool-Ade, taken out loans even when we know that we likely won’t be able to pay them back, accumulated material wealth and the trappings of wealth without consideration for the consequences. Perhaps we can excuse ourselves with the idea that everyone around us is doing it: it’s difficult to live frugally in a society that prides itself on freewheeling because there’s always more where that came from, where the cultural norms are modelled around a high level of consumption. Like Cassandra in Greek mythology, telling unpleasant truths brings either disbelief or an unwillingness to act on the consequences of our actions. Repeated warnings about the dire consequences of our inaction on our climate (along with social and economic inequality, water shortages, myriad sources of pollution, toxic diet, nuclear weapons, epidemic outbreaks, genetic roulette, and the headlong rush into technologies whose outcomes are utterly unknown) have met by ordinary citizens (taxpayers, consumers, and the like) with the same contempt, deflection and denial that comes from our elected and mercantile representatives, as well as a sizeable portion of our spiritual advisers.

Over the last four or five decades, we have built an economic system that is willing to pretend that growth can continue uninterrupted ad infinitum and that money can create money. This is particularly evident in the need for people to save money to buffer their economic well-being through times of uncertainty and to ensure that there will be some sort of retirement available when work is no longer feasible for desirable. Both savings and pensions rely on investment, especially where the generation of serious gains is most achievable. The result is that many pension funds and investment vehicles are loaded up with, you guessed it, fossil fuel stocks, as well as arms manufacturers, tobacco, pharmaceuticals and investments in the financial institutions that promote overconsumption, excessive borrowing, occult financial dealings and tax avoidance, and the suborning of the electoral process. The idea that someone might act in the interest of society as a whole is a quaint anachronism, it appears, while it is accepted that doing anything for profit is the new norm, even if that profit derives from cost analysis that excludes “externalities”, including the possibility that the downstream effects of the activity in question might be deleterious to multitudes and span decades. Our work at reprogramming the Universe holds grave risks where it might better suit our purposes to sit back and contemplate the ramifications before charging ahead with all the genetics and  AI that might have disastrous results for life on the planet. The outlook is pretty bleak for those who take the time to connect the dots, and a lot of the bleakness stems from the willful ignorance of those who have taken the whole of humanity down the path toward an early exit from the rolls of the living.

 

 

 

 

(Don’t remember if I’ve used this before, but it seems apocalyptically appropriate)

 

You Have To Ask Yourself

Aerial view of Syncrude Aurora tar sands mine in the Boreal forest north of Fort McMurray.

Aerial view of Syncrude Aurora tar sands mine in the Boreal forest north of Fort McMurray.

Fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, so I just donated money to the Red Cross to help out victims of the current wild fires in and around Fort McMurray, but I do so with large reservations. First, there are parts of the Red Cross that have a track record for behaving badly with donated money, and I have a general distrust of large charities, given the level of funds that get plowed back into fund raising and administration, executive salaries being one of the most egregious fouls. I also find it difficult to conceive that our society is built upon such weak links that we have to appeal to people’s empathy to get us to pony up for emergency backstops when this should be a proud function of the common polity through our agent, the government. Sadly, we have too many governments that act as captured read pools for the privileged and who blithely spend money on destruction, administrative waste and subsidies to their sponsors, who even then manage to cook up little schemes such as those highlighted by the KPMG affair and the recent release of the Panama Papers to salt away large swaths of unearned wealth where the common polity can’t touch it and where it can do no good for the general citizenry, as would be the case where we had adequate (or better) resources to fight fires, and to ensure the safety of all those affected by disasters of this, or any, nature.

There is also some (guilty) delicious irony in the location and circumstances of these fires, though, particularly in the face of scientific probity and the more flagrant roadblock of denialism, to actually draw a causal link between the carbon generated by the mining of the Athabaskan Tar Sands and the record hot and dry weather currently contributing to the propagation of hellish levels of forest fire activity. It’s hard to fault those residents of Fort Mac who are the victims of the burn: who turns down the kind of remuneration that oil patchers have been making for the last however many years? But where is the reinvestment resulting from the wealth generated in Canada’s short stint and an Energy Superpower? Not in Canada, mostly, having been shipped out to Shanghai and Houston (Texas, not BC).

As usual, the people in question, in this case the residents of Fort Mac, along with the competent authorities, seem to have made a good job of getting all and sundry out of the place alive, and generally in good health and spirits, if we’re to believe reports in the media (another question entirely, and what else are they hiding under cover of the fire stories?). This speaks to preparation, calm, competence and cooperation, often the operating mode in disasters, per Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built In Hell. The conversation about mutual aid needs to be part of our everyday discourse, particularly when we consider how vulnerable we are to all manner of cataclysms, and any safety net structures we can put in place, along with the attitude adjustment that should accompany that building, will likely stand us in terribly good stead as we get further into a destabilized climate and into the destabilized society that has been occasioned by the plundering of the greedy over, in particular, the last forty years.

(I may have used this before, due to its Karmic implications. Sorry.)

Another One Bites The Dust (Lonnie Mack Edition)

With all the (deserved) hoopla around the disappearance of Prince, it came to my attention this afternoon that Lonnie Mack had just died, and here is an player who was as consistent as consistent could be over a long and varied career, well-known to many who play guitar, less so to those who don’t follow the evolution of popular (and less popular) music over the years.

I heard Mack’s version of Memphis, the chuck Berry tune, on AM radio when i was in junior high school in San Francisco and fell in love with it. Sadly, it was the last I heard of him for a half-dozen years while I meandered through explorations in R&B, pop, psychedelic, jazz, classical, Latin and whatever else vibrated in and around my ears and fell in love with blues and blues-rock. I was on a visit to the Bay Area in 1969 when I bought a ticket to see Johnny Winter at Winterland, and was particularly curious to see what would happen with the opening act which just happened to be Lonnie Mack. It was a fascinating show, as Mack did Memphis and some other older things that I had never had a chance to hear because I had never seen the album that featured Memphis, and some entirely new material, including ballads, story songs, and a tune or two that bordered on religious. He seemed an imposting presence with a burly and hirsute look, vest and mush mouse hat with what looked like a ring of beer tabs. The crazy thing was watching Winter and friends emerge suddenly from the wings to check out this guy on stage because he could play stinging licks while still carrying a vocal line, and because he had a pitifully small amplifier in an era where banks of Marshall stacks seemed to be the norm: he just mic’d it into the PA and had his tailored sound sent out plenty loud courtesy of Bill Graham.

A couple of somewhat lacklustre albums followed, always enough to maintain interest, but sometimes tending toward the maudlin, and then Mack went truck driving and disappeared.

Mack burst back on the scene in the mid-80s in the company of none other than Stevie Ray Vaughan, at the time about the best endorsement a resurgent guitarist could desire. By this time I was thoroughly familiar with the early album he had recorded that produced the hit Memphis, but which also included Wham, Suzie Q., Chicken Picken, Turn On Your Love Light, and Farther On Up The Road, and it was rewarding to hear the versions that appeared as covers on SRV’s recordings and, finally, to see the product of some active collaborations.

I still love hearing Mack’s stuff, partly for nostalgic reasons, but also because I still find pleasure in his playing and singing just for what it is. It’s not a tragedy that Mack passed away at this stage as he was well into his seventies, but a little sad to think that there will be no more reappearances, and that there won’t be any new tunes from Mack in that style that he so favoured. So perhaps we can all just go and learn a lick or two in the Lonnie Mack style and so pass on what was best about what he did over so many years.

 


More More Plus Ça Change Stuff

pf

First (in this round, anyway) it was KPMG setting up offshore accounts in the Isle of Man, and now 2.3 terabytes of material about people using shell corporations to hide funds in Panama. Does anyone think this is the last of these revelations? Un paradis fiscal, the French call it, and so it seems to be for those wealthy enough and with little enough sense of community to use these schemes to avoid paying for the privilege of living in a what was once a civilized society (or what at least had aspirations in that direction).

Part Deux: When was Wikileaks the big breakout story? Torture, cowboy justice, extrajudicial killings, cluster bombs, drone killings, massacres and a general attitude of we had to do it because they did it or because we are the good guys and it saves lives on our side and all manner of justifications for bad behaviour. Has anyone other than the few from Abu Graib gone to prison or otherwise atoned for the aforementioned bad behaviour? Not likely. Any consequences for bending and breaking the rules in the Crisis of 2007-09? Seems not. Any real penalties for the KPMG affair? Don’t see any on the horizon. Do you think RBC will be taken to task for the Panamanian Caper? Not holding my breath. You know, it’s just fiduciary duty to the client, maximizing returns.

Aside from the obvious tar-and-feather party, it seems only reasonable that anyone involved should be stripped of all assets, shipped off to Panama and forbidden to ever re-enter the country or to participate in any kind of business related to the jurisdiction they seemed so keen to short change. Still not holding my breath waiting for Real Change.