Saturday, March 17, 2012

New Alexandra Pelosi Documentary Flops

In a venture that could have had enormous potential to educate and heal, and a fortuitous forum of value (HBO and the Real Time with Bill Maher Show) to reach millions of viewers, Alexandra Pelosi (yes she's the daughter of former Speaker of the US House of Representatives) instead created a documentary that interviews the worst examples and extreme minorities of both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

In a worthless effort with not even much entertainment value and a perplexing waste of resources, the self described "documentary filmmaker" shot footage of Republican radicals from the deep rural South of Mississippi who "vote God first", have no teeth, can barely speak English and are overtly racist. In other words, blatantly poor uneducated folk with low intelligence who just happen to vote Republican. All joking aside, clearly Avery small minority of that political party.

Even less effort went into her attempt at revealing what the Democratic side of American politics looks like. She simply walked down the stairs of her New York apartment building and captured interview footage of a line of uneducated black men waiting to enter the food stamp and welfare office, all of whom claimed to not be interested in getting jobs, barely had any teeth, held a strong desire to suck up as much free money from the Federal government as possible, and all conveniently stated they are going to vote for Obama.

If Pelosi was trying to prove a point, other than how important it is not to allow wealthy politicians' children to play with cameras, it got lost in her filmmaking process. Every intelligent person in the United States of America knows that all political parties of the world have small minority groups of uneducated crazies in them. It's a free country here in the US and that just comes with our inclusionary territory.

Friday, March 16, 2012

On Recording the Song "Scene in San Francisco"

Originally from Facebook:
Yes, this is true, re Fernando Perdomo's comments above. And it speaks volumes about the often misunderstood and under-rated SoFlo/Miami music scene. Although slightly and temporarily misplaced and displaced geographically and/or demographically, the Miami music scene harbors some of the greatest undiscovered talent in the US. (I am now, sometimes sadly I admit, much less a part of any 'one' specific local music scene, but they're still an important element to a musician no matter how national or "successful" they become) And I know. Because I strangely & happily belong to three: Miami, New York, and Seattle -- all of which are uniquely special and amazing in their own right. When I start recording a new album, I still handpick the majority of the players from the old gang, down in Miami. If they've winced moved from Miami, we fly them back in. Maybe it's just nostalgia, or sentimentality... But I'd say that the love that we're basking in right now from all over the world based on the Ballad On Third Avenue and All Your Heroes Become Villains albums proves that it's gotta be more than just sentimental familiarity. Truth is, miami's music scene is as vibrant behind the scenes as its ever been. Thousands of brilliant musicians filled with passion and exploding with a love and knowledge of music from all over the globe. It just happens to be in the wrong place geographically right "now", now being the operating word; for there was a time when the Mismi music scene was all the rage and every weekend you could hop into at least ten different rock clubs after midnight on South Beach, listen to more than a handful of incredible bands and bump into any and every major record label talent scout in America, all of whom were down there for that exact reason, Miami music was smokin hot and they were down there to grab some. Ironically it was soon eclipsed by Seattle's scene. And then entirely replaced by dance music and the Latin music scene that dominates it now. But it still didn't kill off all the poppers and rockers. Me and the guys could have recorded the "Ballad..." album -- where the songs "I Walk Alone", "New Orleans Dreams" and "Scene in San Francisco" come from -- anywhere. But we chose Fernando's garage. It's home. It's meatloaf comfort food. With some Nerds sprinkled on top and a handful of Twizzlers on the side. And it also happens to be home to some of the greatest musicians I know. Greg Byers, Tony Medina, Roger Houdaille, Zach Ziskin, Mazzi Ricardo, Matthew Sabatella, Jorge Moreno, Enrique', Amanda Green, Tony Antonio Landa, Oski, Big Brooklyn Red, Jim Camacho, Derek Cintron, Sean 'birdman' Gould, Nil Lara, the list is obviously endless...
Now of course, things are getting a bit crazy. Apple and iTunes called US yesterday. ...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Israel Bombs Home of Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney for Harboring Iranians

Shocking news today. In what the UN called "one of the worst military blunders in history", Israel dropped two bombs at 4:30am local time, one each on the homes of Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, killing 48 people in total, most of them Romney's numerous wives (He's a Mormon) and Santorum's 17 children (he's Catholic and doesn't believe in contraception). Both candidates luckily were out on the campaign trail and thus saved from the deadly attacks. Israel had received intelligence, from the same source who had ten years prior supplied the United States government with information that Iraq had made several large purchases of "yellow cake to make weapons of mass destruction from Africa", that Romney and Santorum had several Iranian guests staying at their homes for weeks and that the candidates were in fact spies for the country of Iran and were planning an attack on Israel any day due to the fact that both men "were lifelong members of the NRA and had several "guns" in their homes, clearly a red flag that the State of Israel's demise was imminent if they didn't act quickly. When asked about the horrendous events later, both candidates stated that "although they would miss their wives and children very much, that they harbored no bad feelings towards Israel, that they backed Israel up one hundred and ten percent to defend themselves and saw absolutely no reason for Israel to apologize for the mistake they made, citing that it would imply weakness, something that a proud and powerful nation cannot afford to do in times of war and such rampant global terrorism." Republican mouthpiece and last place contestant on the hit TV series The Biggest Loser, Rush Limbaugh, telephoned both candidates to offer his condolences to the men reportedly saying "Better this way guys if you really want to win that White House. You know Mitt's wife was a slut."
Today I almost cried talking during an interview to a journalist about how terrifying it is is to have family in Iran and hear how casually arrogantly and ignorantly these GOP candidates speak about militarily attacking this beautiful country, as if they haven't a clue what they are saying, with no apparant human heart or public acknowledgement that there are living breathing people living there. They speak about being "pro-life" but with their views on capital punishment and pro-war stances it is highly unlikely that any of them know what being pro-life truly means. I cannot imagine how my wife feels every time our phone rings and it is one of her parents on the other end of the line. We never know if it's going to be "that call". The one where they tell us drone aircraft have begun bombing the beautiful city of Tehran where she grew up.
I agree with John McGlaughlin and Mort Zucerman's appraisal this Sunday of President Obama's speech as one of the best, wisest, most intelligent speeches weve ever heard from a US president. And no, he isnt "appeasing" "the enemy". Wise words when he spoke of the importance of taking a serious look at and intelligent comsideration of all the ramifications of the potential for human loss on both sides. Listening to these local yocal repubs beat their chest about how if they were president they would send troops into Iran or bomb their nuclear facilities sounds a lot like innocently dumb little children talking shit because they dont no any better. With dumb children we recognize their weaknesses, use patience and wisdom and mature guidance to help them eventually grow up into a responsible adults. With dumb politicians we elect them to serve and lead us. Go figure.
It amazes that they still wonder, as Time magazine asked on a recent cover, why no one likes Romney... It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. It seems the only person asking the question as Time magazine reported is Romney himself. No one asks that about Santorum because its just so plain obvious, along with the fact that he will never be a US president, no one wants to rub it in or hurt his feelings... And thats the decent thing to do. But for God's sake man, stop talking about killing people in the same breath as you speak about respect for life and liberty. He truly gives Christians, and Americans, a bad rap. And unfairly so. No one who practices the Christian faith regularly according to the words and works of JC as told in the four out of approximately twenty actual Gospels the wicked Roman Empire (by then calling itself "the church") allowed to stay in the Bible would find it easy to reconcile classifying Santorum "one of us". It is also why so many people have turned away from religion, of all kinds, this type of extremism, and helps explain why so many Americans register as Independents now.
As an Independent myself, who is slightly fearful of Obama - and therefore not a huge fan, I can at least say I admire his bold willingness to be the only person standing up and saying what the majority of normal folks are thinking. We don't want anymore bloodshed. On either side. We don't want anymore 22 year old American kids coming home dead in body bags. And we are all very tired of this incessant march toward war (whether literally or rhetorically) in the name of ________(fill in the blank/flavor of the month excuse ever since 9/11) to try to show you're a tough guy. Real tough guys are very reluctant to start or send anyone off to war because they've been there and they know what a horror it is; and how ultimately no one wins in the end. Everyone loses. And what we lose besides respect and dignity is life itself. Diplomacy can work. Not always. But we are not being attacked or even threatened. And therefore it is a non-issue right now. Not to mention the fact that we are already doing great harm to millions of people through those economic sanctions.
I would just love to see in our lifetime someone do this to us, here, now, so some of these people could have a real world experience of what it's like to be bullied in such a fashion day in and day out, so they thought more before they speak or take action.
I also find it sad and insulting that not one of these people who speak of the danger of "Iran's nuclear threat" have ever been to Iran, spoken to the Iranian government, or know anything about their nuclear program, let alone their reasons for it. Which I'll cover in more detail in a future post in the Transcendene Diaries. But as both Presidents Ahmadinejad and Khatami told me in person, "Don't you find it ironic that the primary opponent to our country's desire to build nuclear energy facilities, claiming that if we have this technology we will use it build nuclear weapons in order to attack others, is the only country in human history to ever use nuclear bombs against another nation? Killing over half a million innocent people?" A powerful question. But no sir, not ironic. More like ELUCIDATING.
The other thing that bothers everyone who has had the privilege to go to Iran and meet with their government and talk about their nuclear energy plans, is that no one who speaks about wanting to bomb Iran to destroy their nuclear plants has ever spoken to anyone in their government about it, nor attended a conference by the IAEA to discuss it. They're going on hearsay at best; or worse and more likely, talking out of their ass in a lame attempt to appease certain small groups of radicals or Political Action Committees or dumb Americans filled with fear and loathing for anything not American.
I have had this privilege, and after attending a conference held by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Tehran -- attended by over sixty other countries around the world who do not oppose Iran's sovereign right to harness nuclear energy for themselves, I walked away with many thoughts and opinions. Some mixed. But fear was not one of the feelings I walked away with. In order to speak about something I believe one should have actual experience or at least knowledge about the subject, or else it's just hot air, or worse, a very stupid and dangerous person taking up valuable time and oxygen. In future posts I will share what I did walk away feeling and thinking.
Fact: There are more Jews living in moder day Iran than in any other country in the world today EXCEPT for Israel. (considering how many Jews live in the United States, this is probably a per capita statistic, or refers only to the Middle East). They are not Muslim or Islamic. They are Jewish. They practice Judaism. They have more synagogues there than anywhere in the middle east. They are happy. They are even allowed to drink wine during their service because they have freedom of religion, even though non-Jewish Iranians are not allowed to drink alcohol. The same goes for Christians. We visited many synagogues as well as Christian churches. What none of the war Mongering Republican candidates or politicians or others will ever bother to tell the American people is that if we bomb Iran we will be killing Jews, Christians, Buddhists AND Muslims. Along with Sufis, Hindus, and Zorastrians as well. Things are never as they seem in politics, especially American politics where the country is so young that the people have not yet toppled the government a few times to teach them who's really boss. It's all tricks and mirrors, puppets and circus acts. With the media playing into it nearly as much for ratings and access.
I'll never forget being in a synagogue in Iran after celebrating a Friday sabbath service and being surrounded by about a dozen beautiful little angelic Jewish Iranian girls... All of them about ages six to twelve. A middle aged man peeked into our little circle and introduced himself. I looked up at him and asked "Are you happy here sir?" "Yes, very much my friend. Did you enjoy the service?" "Yes I did. Thank you. Let me ask you, you're free here? You can practice judaism freely, and be a Jew? And you aren't afraid or anything?" "Why would I be afraid? You Americans..." he laughed. I felt embarrassed by how misinformed we are in the United States. "If you are free, then why don't you leave? Why don't you go to Israel?" I asked. It was an honest question, or so I thought. "Leave?!" he responded almost angrily, "why would I leave? This is my home. This is my country. I am Jewish. But I am Iranian. There is no difference between the two except my religion."
Obviously I could do or say no more but just sheepishly smile. Lesson learned. more later. Peace Love Freedom Beauty Humor and Happiness,
The Ambassador

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Live From Daryl's House -- Inside the Indie Music Revolution

LIVE FROM DARYL's HOUSE. Who would've imagined it 20 years ago? Or even 10? Daryl Hall of HALL AND OATES fame hires a camera crew and starts his own reality TV series on the internet -- inviting musicians of all ilk, primarily singers, to come to his righteous pad and jam with him and a stellar band while people film it. The series was already 40 shows in when I first heard about it. But that's not saying much. I tend to be the last to know when it comes to these kinds of things actually. I once heard Eric Clapton say that one of the many "worst things about being a recording artist, especially being a touring one, is that you never get to see other musicians perform live because you're always on the road." I was taken by surprise when i first heard that. But it made sense as I got older and started to become busier. Now i rely on the recommendations of a select few to turn me on to the latest as I make feeble attempts to keep up with my own daily schedule. A buddy of mine told me "Dude check out Todd on LIVE FROM DARYL'S HOUSE" as if it were common knowledge. I remember innocently asking him "who's Daryl?" before discovering it was none other than Daryl Hall.
And so i did. Watch the show with Todd that is. Todd for those confused refers to legendary singer, songwriter and producer extraordinaire Todd Rundgren. When "Todd" does anything, musicians pay attention. Like his voice these days or not, he's still one of the path-clearers in music and technology after over 40 years in the business. Yep. Todd the God really was on Daryls show, but they filmed it live from Todd's house. In Hawaaii. A gorgeous spread, live half shell amphiteatre on his property and all. The music they made in those few hours that day sounded incredible. So I proceeded to watch about twenty more episodes of the show. Daryl wasn't fucking around. There were Christmas specials, family specials, cooking episodes. Frankly I couldn't believe it.
Most musicians or entertainers resort to playing fourth of July parties, Vegas, or Native American casions once their star begins to dim, all along hoping that some big new record company executive half their age will come along and sign them to another deal. Here's hoping. Last I heard from HALL AND OATES before this was some best of gig they were doing on... You guessed it, New Years Eve. I've never gone for that kind of thing myself. Neither as a music fan nor as a performer. I personally find it degrading to all the hard work they've done before that made them a big star in the first place. Go out in style or die trying. But for Gods sake never ever ever play Vegas; or worse yet reform your old group with none of the original members but still call it by the same name (Axl Rose... As only one example of this heinous crime). The only exception is if your singer has died before you were ready to call it a day. Which plenty of them do. That's the biz. Queen, INXS, Alice in Chains... It happens.
But lets get back to DARYLS HOUSE. So heres the man himself with a high budget truck full of camera and sound men (and ladies one assumes) making some new shit happen. Not exactly cutting edge musically, but definitely cutting edge from an indie music marketing perspective. I was surprised. Pleasantly so. And impressed. Older artists, what the business refers to as "Heritage Acts", have to make a living and still want to keep the flame of hope for their careers burning just as much as younger never before discovered acts do. Maybe even more. They've become used to it.
But let's face it, it ain't easy. And recording an "American standards" album has already been done. Too many times. (Sir Paul what were you thinking?) So too has announcing to the world that you're "now a classical music composer" (Sir Paul again...) The same way OK GO got their fifteen minutes of fame by creating a music video of them elegantly falling off of treadmills at the gym, or !!! (pronounced chick chick chick) earned their brief five minutes of fun in the sun by naming their band a bunch of punctuation symbols instead of with a word is the same kind of cutting edge, out of the box thinking and play-acting that just about anyone these days in the music business needs to do in order to reach enoug people to make a big enough noise to sell even a few thousand albums (remember those) or fill a decent sized venue. Major label or indie, it's all the same now. Think Nikki Minage or Lady Gaga or LMFAO or Chris Brown or Lil' Wayne. It's all about the gimmick that will grab that spotlight. And Daryl Hall, after over thirty years as a reigning platinum selling pop superstar, found a new way to do it.
I really like this show/concept. Besides being a very cool idea, the show itself comes off surprisingly real and free of pretension. This is the kind of 'out of the box' thinking that indie (and non-indie) artists of all kind should be brainstorming and doing all the time to keep "their thing" fresh. One doesn't have to already be famous. In Hall's case Hall and Oates were as big as it gets, (but that's not a necessity for this kind of indie revolution marketing). His model worked because he was Daryl Hall sure, but it never would have flown if the music wasn't good. I'm sure he was apprehensive about the idea at first. Who wouldnt be in his position? But he went for it. And looking back now, it feels like a much needed breath of very fine smelling fresh air in a busines environment where freshness, let alone oxegyn, is rare; or in the worst case scenario, like Mexico, just no longer avaialable.
U become a superstar, ur star rises and falls along the usual curve, and maybe u even lose ur record deal, but instead of moping about praying and grovelling for another record deal (a very misunderstood and arcane desire at this point in the biz; and a diff blog post entirely) u come up w a cool new idea, throw it up on the internet, stick to it, it catches, u get picked up by a TV network for ur own show, keep the Exec Producer cred, sign a new record deal but more on ur own terms, and pretty soon you're back on the map, new people are discovering your old and new music, and tons of others are copying u. Again! And ur star starts rising again. Daryl Hall, gotta hand it 2 the man. Really smart (besides being a gifted singer/songwriter/producer). Definitely a brilliant example of an indie music revolution success story worth noting as we make our way through the new music business (or lack thereof) labyrinth. Kudos to U Daryl.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Cleopatra... made me who I am today. I had never had that kind of support before. her excitement and her belief in me. it was blind. And it gave me the kind of support that I had never had before. God I loved her for that. forgot about it for a while. Do I now have it in me to do it on my own? do I believe in myself? Without the belief or support from anyone else? I can barely breathe at the thought of it, but I believe that I finally starting to believe in myself. All on my own.

LAST SCREENING: the last king. An A&E three hour movie about King Charles the II, truly, the last real king of England. This is a great movie. As soon as it is over you want to see it again. great history. Great story. Great acting. One has no idea how impactful the catholic church was in humankind’s history. England was the first country to stand up to papal rule. Because of them, we are all finally safe from that tyranny that was once so brutal and omnipotent. See this film.