Thursday, August 18, 2022

CREEM, David Bowie, Melanie, Ty Herndon, Michelle Yeoh

Earlier this summer, NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED reported on the return of CREEM:


After 33 years, Creem is coming back. That's Creem, the music publication, which calls itself America's only rock 'n' roll magazine. After fits and starts, Creem is returning as a digital magazine, and in the fall, it'll be a quarterly in print. NPR's Danny Hensel has the story of a Detroit institution.


DANNY HENSEL, BYLINE: Something was in the water in Detroit in 1969. Bands like the Stooges and Alice Cooper and MC5 helped rock curdle into something darker and harder.


HENSEL: And Creem Magazine was there to cover the scene, from garage rock to glam to punk.

JAAN UHELSZKI: I think the thing about Creem was it was really this community of outsiders.

HENSEL: Jaan Uhelszki was a reporter at Creem in its early days and now serves as editor emeritus.

UHELSZKI: I started at Creem in 1970, the same day Lester Bangs did. We both walked in that door at approximately the same time.

HENSEL: Lester Bangs was among Creem's most famous writers. Philip Seymour Hoffman played him in "Almost Famous."


PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN: (As Lester Bangs) And hey, I met you. You are not cool.

PATRICK FUGIT: (As William Miller) I know. Even when I thought I was, I knew I wasn't.

HOFFMAN: (As Lester Bangs) Because we are uncool.

HENSEL: OK, maybe only in the movie. But in real life, Creem definitely was cool, like when Bangs brought his typewriter on stage to write a review of the J. Geils Band in real time. And then he smashed the typewriter. Or like when Jaan Uhelszki reported on KISS by donning the famous black-and-white makeup and playing with them. Uhelszki says that kind of high-concept journalism is what made Creem distinct.


This is the site for CREEM and if you subscribe to the print edition before 8/21/22, you'll get a special issue devoted to David Bowie.  Print edition is $79 and that gets you four print issues -- the magazine will be a quarterly -- as well as access to the digital edition including the archives.  

If you go with $60, you get access to digital edition and archives.  

England's NME notes actress Michelle Yeoh:

Michelle Yeoh has revealed why she wasn’t cast in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, after asking the director herself.

According to Tarantino, the 1992 action film Supercop, starring Yeoh and Jackie Chan, was a source of inspiration for Uma Thurman during filming on the 2003 martial arts film.


SPIN  magazine interviews Ty Herndon, this is the intro to the interview:

Jacob. A biblical name. A common name. Ty Herndon’s newest album name.

No, Jacob isn’t the name of Ty’s son or his brother, nor his late father or his grandfather. It’s the name of the man who lost in a wrestle with God, resulting in his newfound purpose as Israel — a role that rewrote the outcome of Jacob’s life altogether. It’s also a name that Ty gives his struggles and triumphs — much of which are detailed in his aforementioned project released last month.

In 1995, Herndon debuted his first album, What Mattered Most. The chart-topping record was a success (particularly the titular track), settling the Alabama-raised Herndon comfortably next to other breakthrough artists like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain. Then came Herndon’s scandal.

A closeted gay man married to a woman and secretly in the throes of crystal meth addiction — Herndon refers to his drug use as medicinal, a method of numbing pain — he mistakenly exposed himself to an undercover police officer in Dallas one night.

Though incredibly traumatizing, this wouldn’t be the last of his battles. In June of this year, People listed Herndon’s recurring struggles like the lyrics of the “Twelve Days of Christmas:”

“Over the 27 years since his arrest, he’s bounced in and out of Nashville, on and off the charts, and in and out of rehab. He married two women, lived with three men, came out of the closet, relapsed three times, and has battled crystal meth addiction for the better part of three decades.”

Regardless, he persevered.

Today, Herndon’s still making music. He’s also out of the closet and over the moon about it (he’s currently looking for love after his decade-plus-long relationship met its end), and he’s so damn proud of what he’s done and endured. He even changed the pronouns to one of his most famous songs, singing it now the way he wishes he could have sung it over 25 years ago. What’s more, he’s incredibly happy to be an uncle to his newborn nephew.


 And SPUTNIK MUSIC takes a look at one of Melanie's classic magazines:

Melanie Safka, aka Melanie, holds a special place in the history of folk music in the U.S. Starting out as beautiful teen from Astoria, NY, she was one of only two solo female folk singers (along with Joan Baez) to play at the Woodstock festival of 1969, where she first broke into the national consciousness. She played on the festival's opening night, as a replacement for The Incredible String Band, who refused to go on in the rain. As she performed, the audience lit up candles, creating an intimate and iconic moment that she later commemorated by writing the hit single "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)".

Melanie (released in the UK as Affectionately Melanie) was Safka's second album. It was the first one to chart at all, albeit at #196. It contained her first single, "Beautiful People", which became something of an anthem for flower children everywhere. And for an album released in 1969, it still sounds pretty good in 2018.

This LP contains a nice representative sample of Safka's early work. On it, she demonstrates her ability to be both silly and serious. She also flits through a variety of styles, including folk, pop, blues, and even a little bit of country. There's a lot of quietly picked acoustic guitar, but also a surprising amount of string accompaniment. And Melanie also serves as a nice showcase for Safka's songwriting talents, and for her voice.

On the songwriting side, Melanie proves herself here to be less stridently political than many of her contemporaries, such as Baez and Buffy St. Marie. A lot of the tracks are tales of loneliness and alienation, although the pain is often hidden behind a mask of humor. Other songs contrast the joy of making music with the harsh reality of trying to make a living in the music industry, surrounded by people who only care about making money off of you. The closest thing here to a truly political song is "Beautiful People", a likable but painfully naive hippy-flavored track. Here, the artist (who was only seventeen at the time she wrote it) posits the idea that everyone is beautiful, and maybe if we all wore buttons that said "Beautiful People", we wouldn't feel so alone. Yeah, it's a little cringeworthy. However, it's sincere enough, the writer was really young, and most of her other songs show a much more sophisticated understanding of the world and human relationships, so I'm willing to just give her this one. (And maybe even enjoy it a little myself, if no one else is looking.)


Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


Thursday, August 18, 2022.  Joe Biden continues persecuting Julian Assange (someone tell Roger Waters), the political stalemate continues while Moqtada sits out a meet-up and much more.

US President Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian Assange.  It's all about War Crimes -- as a US senator, Joe helped cover them up and, as a journalist, Julian Assange told the people about the War Crimes the US government carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The world watches and sees how hollow the US support of journalism and a free press actually is.  

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters spoke out yesterday.

Good for speaking out.  Bad for speaking out poorly.

See if you can spot the problem:

“I’m flabbergasted that this extraordinary travesty is taking place under our noses, but Julian is still in Belmarsh Prison and he’s still en route to being extradited to the United States so that the government of the United States can kill him in private,” the 78-year-old music icon said outside the Department of Justice.

He appealed to the US attorney general by name to drop the charges against the publisher.

“Merrick Garland, do the right thing. Free Julian Assange at lunchtime today, please,” Waters said, praising the people who turned out for the demonstration.

The musician raised concerns about the health of Assange, 51, who suffered a mini-stroke last October.

“All you can do is keep doing what you’re doing. Never ever shut up, never be quiet. Raise your voices, join the choir: Free Assange, Free Assange,” Waters said.

At a protest in front of the Justice Department in Washington, on Wednesday, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters urged the US government to free Julian Assange and warned that it could kill him.    

In June, the UK approved the extradition of Assange to the United States. The US claims it wants him to stand trial for breaching the US Espionage Act by disclosing military and diplomatic information in 2010. He may face up to 175 years in prison if proven guilty, though the exact term of the sentence is difficult to predict.

"Julian is still in [London's] Belmarsh prison, he is still on the way to be extradited to the United States where the government of the United States can kill him in private," Waters said. "Merrick Garland, do the right thing. Free Julian Assange at lunchtime today, please."    

You had cameras, you had press attention and you wasted it.

Merrick Garland?  Who do you think is in charge?  That's like whining to the kid taking your Taco Bell order. 

A raid took place on Joe Biden's potential 2024 challenger and where's the sunlight on that?  Not only are we not getting honest answers, he's not appointing a special counsel.  Time again, he fails to be a proponent of open government.  He should have appointed a special counsel for Hunter Biden long ago.  He doesn't do anything he's supposed to.  And we don't have a sense that the Attorney General is defending the American people, just the Democratic Party.  

He's a coward or he's a hack.  

He also doesn't control the reigns.  Joe Biden is president.  Joe Biden is the one who can call off the persecution of Julian Assange.

If you're too cowardly to call out Joe Biden, Roger Waters, stop wasting everyone's time.  I was readly to applaud you until you I streamed the video and saw you were playing coward.

That's what it is -- that's what it always is -- when you can't call out the leader in the White House.  We have held Bully Boy Bush accountable, we held President Barack Obama accountable, we held President Donald Trump accountable and we are holding President Joe Biden accountable.  

The buck stops where?

With Roger Waters, sadly, it stops with a member of the Cabinet, not with the president.

Let's jump over to a report by Dave DeCamp at ANTIWAR.COM:

A group of family members of 9/11 victims has sent a letter to President Biden urging him to return the $7 billion in frozen Afghan reserves held by the US Federal Reserve to the Afghan people.

Earlier this year, President Biden signed an executive order that would make $3.5 billion of the Afghan funds available to 9/11 families. But in the letter that was sent Tuesday, 77 family members of 9/11 victims said receiving that money would be “morally wrong.”

The letter reads: “Any use of the $7 billion to pay off 9/11 family member judgments is legally suspect and morally wrong. We call on you to modify your Executive Order and affirm that the Afghanistan central bank funds belong to the Afghan people and the Afghan people alone.”

US officials said this week that the Biden administration has decided not to return any of the $7 billion to Afghanistan and suspended talks with the Taliban on the issue. One year since the Taliban’s takeover of the country, Afghanistan is facing a dire humanitarian crisis, with millions of Afghans facing starvation.

Are the families asking a flunky to do something?  No.  No, they didn't go to the night manager at Kinko's with the request.  They're going to Joe.  And that's where the focus needs to be.  Not spread out and dispersed on flunkies.

Joe can stop the persecution at any time.  If he doesn't, he needs to understand that this is on him and will be tied to his name in the history books.  But when a Roger Waters gives him an out by defocusing, it doesn't bring pressure on Joe.

New topic, Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish" went up last night.

Like her father, Liz Cheney is trash.  James Zogby is correct:

I might be a Dem outlier, but I can’t be rooting for #LizCheney. I dealt w/ her hard-boiled neocon nonsense during the post-9/11 & Iraq war period that brought disaster to many. & I debated her slanderous attacks after Obama’s Cairo speech. Her Trump vendetta doesn’t sway me

Bring Our Troops Home posted the following video ahead of Tuesday's election.

At ANTIWAR.COM, Bring Our Troops Home updated their message to reflect that Liz did lose her effort to be re-elected:

Yesterday was a very important day.

It’s the day the America First movement exiled the most despicable, most debased Swamp Monster on Capitol Hill.

Yesterday Liz Cheney lost renomination for Congress after three terms of using and abusing the people of Wyoming.

The reason is simple: voters are tired of fighting endless wars.

They’re tired of spending trillions of dollars in the Middle East and Central Asia while they struggle to fill their own gas tank or complete a grocery shopping list.

They’re tired of seeing their sons and daughters in uniform come home physically, mentally, and spiritually broken by war.

Or often, not come home at all.

Liz Cheney has been a face of the War Party for years.

In 2003 the Bush-Cheney administration fabricated intelligence to lie our country into a disastrous war where over a million people were killed.

Liz Cheney says “Good.”

The Bush-Cheney administration set up an international collection of secret prison camps where thousands were tortured, some to death.

Liz Cheney says, “Good.”

Barack Obama gave billions of dollars in cash and weapons to Jihadists in Syria, the same terrorists who would later start ISIS.

Liz Cheney says, “Good.”

Joe Biden is inching us dangerously close to World War III with Russia to protect his family corruption in Ukraine.

Liz Cheney says, “Good.”

And yesterday the conservative voters of Wyoming kicked Liz Cheney out of office right back to her military-industrial complex mansion in Northern Virginia.

And I say, “Good.”

Smedley Butler said “War is a racket.” And I say that Liz Cheney is a war profiteer. And someday we may rid our nation and ourselves of the former, but yesterday we rid ourselves of the latter.

Good riddance to the Beltway Butcher.

In Iraq, US troops remain.  In Iraq, the political stalemate continues.  MEMO notes:

After meeting with political leaders, the leaders of three political institutions in Iraq yesterday called on followers of Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr to engage in national dialogue to resolve the political deadlock, news agencies reported.

Iraqi President Barham Salih, Parliament Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi, caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and leaders of Iraqi factions met and discussed political deadlock in the country.

Al-Sadr and his followers, who have been involved in protests calling for the dissolution of the newly-elected parliament, did not attend the meeting.

TRACK also notes the meeting:

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, and leaders of national political forces met in a meeting where Iraqi President Barham Salih, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, Barham Salih, and the participants "expressed their commitment to finding a solution to all crises through dialogue to preserve the unity of Iraq, the security, and stability of its people," the report reads.

Ten months ago, on October 10th, Iraq held elections.  The president and prime minister?  Those are from before the elections.  Mustafa is at least called a ''caretaker prime minister" but it's the same with Barham Salih.  There has been a ten month and still going political stalemate.  Only the Speaker of Parliament has been voted on since the October 10th elections (and he was Speaker before the elections took place).  

Sadr's Minster rejects yesterday's dialogue outcomes and adds: if you want a representative of Sadr to attend we ask for a live meeting so the Iraqi people can see the back sense of conspiracies. #Iraq

The current conflict in Iraq isn't driven by the lack of a 'national or intern-communal' dialogue, but by a rivalry within the Shia over power and dominance. What is practical and needed isn't a meeting for all parties, but a Sadr-Framework dialogue.
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Farhad Alaaldin
اهم نتائج اجتماع الرئاسات والقوى السياسية: -الانتخابات المبكرة مشروطة بالسياقات الدستورية -الدعوة الى استمرار الحوار -دعوة الى ايقاف التصعيد المشاركة الفعالة لحلفاء الصدر في الاجتماع وموافقتهم على النقاط اعلاه يغير المشهد السياسي ويعزل التيار الصدري ويضعهم في موقف حرج #العراق
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Iraq's former finance minister, who resigned during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, outlined the reasons behind his decision in a resignation letter made public by Iraqi social media users and outlets. 

In a 10-page-long resignation letter, Allawi blames the current political stalemate, rampant corruption by the political parties and ruling elites, and the interferences by foreign countries into Iraq's internal affairs as the main reasons behind his resignation. 

Allawi, who was also the deputy prime minister in Mustafa al-Kadhimi's cabinet, took office in May 2020. His resignation was instantly accepted and Iraqi oil m0inister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar has been appointed as acting finance minister.

"In the few weeks after I took office in the ministry for the second time, I knew the terrifying fact on what extent the government functionality has deteriorated in the past 15 years, in a way that the political parties, as well as the self-interest groups, have practically confiscated broad joints of the state," reads part of Allawi's letter published by Al-Sumaria News Iraqi outlet. 

On the stalemate, THE WASHINGTON POST's Louisa Loveluck notes an analysis from The Crisis Group:

"The demonstrations are thus less a people’s revolution than an intra-elite fight, mainly pitting Sadr and his political backers against Maliki & his."

MIDDLE EAST EYE also offers an analysis of the stalemate:


Iraq has hosted just two senior US government visits in the months since the country's October election. Meanwhile, the sprawling US embassy has been operating with a skeleton crew since 2019, when the US ordered all "non-emergency" staff to leave Iraq amid security threats.

"US engagement in Iraq's political process has been almost completely absent," Jonathan Lord, a former Iraq country director at the Department of Defense, now head of the Middle East security programme at CNAS, a Washington think tank, told MEE.

Some consider the past ten months a missed opportunity for the US. Washington apprehensively welcomed what was generally seen as a peaceful election, albeit one plagued by record low turnout, where big political parties backed by armed militias demonstrated their staying power. 

The following sites updated: