Stubborn Young Fool

I’m so sorry you’re an idiot
I regret that you’re so dumb
Who cares about my identity?
What does it matter where I’m from?
It’s sad you just can’t handle
This inconvenient truth
Your candidate is garbage
Her losing is the proof

You asked a sincere question
How could she possibly be worse?
So I supplied the answer
And you began to curse
“Check your privilege, cis white male!”
A reply that made no sense
“I’m embarrassed that you’re a follower”
I didn’t know you were this dense

As I tried to explain
How I came to my position
You were seething in response
And made an impulsive decision
You refuse to listen to facts
That can never be refuted
She’s hurt people of colour
So many it can’t be disputed

In the end you revealed
You’re a stubborn young fool
Who just didn’t appreciate
Being taken to school
I was kind and supportive
And you were once the same
But when I noted her flaws
I was the one to blame

I wasn’t looking to fight
Or to sour your mood
I’ve always been respectful
This time, you were fucking rude
I will always remember
Your derisive scoff
So take your own advice
And kindly fuck off

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 6, 2017
10:43 p.m.

Published in: on February 6, 2017 at 10:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Lows Of 2016

1. David Bowie died of cancer two days after releasing his final studio album.  First, there was collective denial, then absolute shock and sadness.  His unexpected death set the tone for a miserable year.

2. Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States.  How much considerable, irreparable harm will he cause to the world?

3. Daniel Bryan retired from the WWE due to severe, unrecoverable injuries.  He was looking like the next John Cena.  Now he’s reduced to being a powerless “authority” figure on Smackdown, a supporting player on a reality show and a punching bag for The Miz.

4. Jian Ghomeshi isn’t in prison.  Rape culture is real.

5. The Fort McMurray fire in Alberta.  Such devastation.  It will takes years to rebuild.

6. Fifty Shades Of Black.  A horrifically unfunny “parody” of Fifty Shades Of Grey.  No more Marlon Wayans movies.  Please.

7. Gord Downie’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis.  May he live as long as he can and make as much good music as he is able.

8. The armed protest at the Oregon Wildlife Refuge.  What exactly did it accomplish other than mass ridicule?

9. The rise in racist hate crimes against Muslims, trans people, gays, Black people, Jews, Palestinians and Indigenous communities worldwide.  White supremacy needs to die already.

10. Mr. Fuji died.

11. Gitmo is still open.

12. CM Punk lost his first UFC fight in the first round.  Years ago, Brock Lesnar lost his first fight as well and went on to become World Champion.  So there’s still hope for The Straight Edge Superstar.  He’ll be back.

13. Krystal on Canada’s Worst Driver 12.  An unrepentant narcissist who is an absolute maniac on the road.  The sooner her license is permanently suspended, the better.  Host Andrew Younghusband deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for tolerating this phone-addicted brat as well and for as long as he did.

14. The phony “Bernie Bro” smear from Clintonistas desperate to keep the Vermont Senator from becoming the Democratic nominee for President.  Not only did this erase the millions of women who supported Bernie Sanders (especially Hillary Clinton’s numerous feminist critics and women of colour), it was dastardly and downright insulting.  In the end, Donald Trump is the next US President, so good job, you stupid idiots.

15. Gawker went bankrupt after losing a court case to balding, overtanned racist Hulk Hogan.  Fuck you, Peter Thiel.

16. The very funny Garry Shandling died.  He spearheaded two of the most influential sitcoms of all time:  It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show.  He was a great Emmys host, too, and a quiet mentor to so many other comics in need.

17. Prince died of a prescription drug overdose.  The incredible legacy he leaves behind which doesn’t even include the thousands of songs he never released.

18. Zack Ryder’s one and only InterContinental title reign lasted exactly one day.  Why do his pushes always seem like ribs?

19. Doris Roberts died.  Both Barones are gone now.

20. Brexit.  The United Kingdom isn’t so united anymore.  What other European nations will follow Ol’ Blimey’s risky lead?

21. George Michael died on Christmas Day.

22. The endless civil war in Syria.  So many villains who should be prosecuted for war crimes.

23. Palestine is still illegally occupied by Apartheid Israel.

24. Matt DeHart is still in prison.

25. The lack of justice for mostly Black and Indigenous victims of police brutality.  The racist status quo cannot and must not continue to protect murderers and torturers of the state.

26. James Ellsworth.  Enough.

27. Chelsea Manning attempted suicide twice (which she was punished for) as she continues to be persecuted and tortured with solitary confinement for exposing deplorable war crimes by the American government.  Release her immediately and let her transition already.  She’s suffered enough for her uncommon courage and conviction.

28. All the terrible films I saw this year:  Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Pixels, Hot Pursuit, Bad Teacher, The Lazarus Effect, Get Hard, the Black Christmas remake, Johnny English, Johnny English Reborn, Damien: Omen II, Born In East LA, The Wedding Ringer, Identity Thief, The Heat, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, No One Lives, Night Of The Creeps, Bending The Rules, The Last American Virgin, Bloodsport, The Last Exorcism Part II, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Basket Case, Krampus, Dolls, Jessabelle, Brain Damage, Wolfcop, The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia, Street Trash, Zombie High, We’re The Millers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Masters Of The Universe, Observe And Report, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, Silent Night Deadly Night, Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2, Here Comes The Boom, Let’s Be Cops, Death Wish II, Death Wish 3, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, Death Wish: The Face Of Death, Three Fugitives, Evilspeak, Ride Along, Ride Along 2, Knucklehead, Hatchet, Meatballs, Meatballs Part II, The Gallows, Daddy’s Home, The Out-Of-Towners remake, 22 Jump Street, Ted, Hotel Transylvania, Hotel Transylvania 2, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Funhouse, Critters, Critters 2, the Conan The Barbarian remake, Swing Parade, Africa Screams, At War With The Army, Check And Double Check, The Flying Deuces, Deathouse (AKA Silent Night, Bloody Night), The Smallest Show On Earth, My Favourite Brunette, The Perfect Score, Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie!, And Now For Something Completely Different and The Great Rupert.

29. Only some Russian Olympians were banned from competition in the Summer Games in Brazil.  Why not all of them?  All their Paralympians were barred.  Why the double standard?

30. Cody Rhodes left the WWE.  Even he got sick of being Stardust.

31. MuchMoreMusic was yanked off the air.

32. New2You quietly closed its Lime Ridge location.  I bought so many cheap CDs there over the years.  I will miss it dearly.

33. Ryan Lochte.  What the hell was he thinking?  Oh right.  He wasn’t.

34. Russ Feingold wasn’t able to get elected back to the Senate.

35. “Iron” Mike Sharpe died.  Why isn’t he in the WWE Hall of Fame as a jobber?

36. Amber Heard’s damning testimony about her abusive ex-husband Johnny Depp.  She deserves better and he should be ashamed of himself.

37. The desperate campaign to outlaw the peaceful #BDS movement against Apartheid Israel.  Try as they may, AI and their Western governmental allies cannot stop the inevitable end of violent colonial Zionism.

38. Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds both died during the same week over the Christmas holidays.  Doubly sad.

39. Montreal lost in the MLS final to Seattle.  Boring game.  Penalty kicks are a terrible way to settle a scoreless draw.

40. The Chris Jericho/Dean Ambrose asylum match at Extreme Rules.  Too long and too slow.  No wonder the audience in attendance stayed quiet for most of it.  If it wasn’t for the thumbtacks, the ending would’ve been terrible, too.  Don’t expect this silly concept to be repeated.

41. The overcrowded announce table on Smackdown Live.  Does the WWE not realize that we don’t need three terrible colour commentators all at once?

42. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi.  Michael Bay reimagines the most politicized moment of the misbegotten Libyan invasion as a long-winded action epic.  No thanks.

43. The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 32.  If McMahon hadn’t jumped off the top of Hell In A Cell, would anybody be even talking about this match?  And what was the point of the stipulation if it was never going to be honoured?

44. Radiohead finally released a studio version of True Love Waits and it’s dreary.  I prefer the more moving live version from the I Might Be Wrong EP.

45. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.  Exceedingly manipulative and annoyingly sexist.  I only laughed twice.

46. Ride Along 2.  Will Kevin Hart ever make a good comedy?  Just as bad as the original.

47. The constant, dangerous scaremongering about Vladimir Putin and Russia.  Democrats will blame anybody but themselves for their pathetic electoral performance this year.  Soul searching is not their strong suit.

48. Damien Sandow was fired from the WWE.  That’s not the way you treat The Intellectual Savior Of The Unwashed Masses.

49. The Forest.  The concept is far better than the execution, unfortunately.

50. Rodrigo Duterte, the psychotic leader of The Philippines, who openly admitted to murdering his citizens as part of his horrific War on Drugs.  No wonder he’s an ally of the American government.

51. The Liberals lied about the deal to sell weaponry to Saudi Arabia.  Now it’s up to a Canadian court to decide whether it should be honoured.  It shouldn’t.

52. The overblown incident in the House of Commons when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accidentally elbowed an MP from the NDP during a contentious vote.  Trudeau wasn’t the one who needed to apologize repeatedly.  When even feminists criticized the controversy, you know it was nothing.

53. Kellie Leitch.  Loathsome, dishonest, racist, elitist.  The perfect face for the modern Conservative Party of Canada.

54. Obama & Congress will give 40 billion dollars to Apartheid Israel to help it continue propping up its endless, illegal occupation of oppressed Palestinians over the next decade.  If Netanyahu’s truly upset about the Iran Deal and the USG’s refusal to veto the latest UN condemnation of illegal settlements, he’ll reject the money.  You know he won’t, though.  Because #BDS is hurting Apartheid Israel’s economy.  And Zionism needs welfare to survive.

55. The ongoing, heartless persecution of Palestinian activist and torture survivor Rasmeh Odeh.  End her ordeal and clear her name already.

56. No one has gone to prison for murdering Baltimore resident Freddie Gray.

57. One stubborn juror led to the mistrial of North Carolina police officer Michael Slager who murdered Walter Scott as captured on video.  It’s Rodney King all over again.  Even actual footage isn’t enough to get a conviction for a white cop killing a black man in America.

58. 49 people were murdered at a gay club in Florida by a man who may have been gay himself.  Awful, just awful.

59. The news media’s early, constant coverage of Donald Trump and his long-winded rallies without much scrutiny of his record during the Republican primaries.  Are you happy now, Les Moonves?

60. The ongoing suicide crisis in the Canadian Indigenous community.  We are failing these kids.  We must do better.  We must listen to their concerns and directly address them.

61. Kurt Eichenwald.  He supported the wrong Democrat.  He’s not to be trusted.  And he’s a whiny bitch, too.

62. For the first time in about half a decade, the WWE split its roster again by putting half on Raw and half on Smackdown.  Not only that, they’ve added more championships so now each show has its own World Champion, mid-card-Champion, Tag Team Champions and Womens Champion, plus show-centric pay-per-views.  So lame.  Why return to such a failed concept?  The Raw vs. Smackdown rivalry is phony.  You all work for the same goddamn company!  No wonder your TV ratings suck so bad.

63. The failed coup in Turkey.  It gave authoritarian Erdogan every excuse to crack down on whatever democracy was still left in his troubled country.  Why hasn’t he been kicked out of NATO?

64. There wasn’t a single person of colour nominated for an acting Oscar.  Because of the public outcry, I suspect 2017 will be very different.

65. Media Matters For America going all in for a loser.  Still with Hill, jackwads?

66. Alberto Del Rio left the WWE.  Again.

67. The moral cowardice of Aung San Suu Kyi.  She doesn’t give a damn about the ruthless persecution of Rohingya Muslims in her own country.  Despicable.

68. Nat Turner and Casey Affleck are in contention for Academy Awards next year but face serious accusations of sexual assault and sexual harassment, respectively.  Turner faced a lot of scrutiny and didn’t handle it particularly well, while Affleck, a likely Best Actor nominee, just hosted Saturday Night Live and has routinely been given a free pass.  After decades of protecting Bill Cosby, the entertainment press needs to address this with Affleck directly.  Innocent lives are at stake.  Turner’s victim committed suicide.

69. The Nightly Show was cancelled just as it was finding its satirical voice in the insane world of American politics.  Comedy Central should’ve had more faith in it.

70. Bowie’s Blackstar wasn’t nominated for the Album Of The Year Grammy.  A huge, insulting oversight.

71. Muhammad Ali died.  He was an asshole to Joe Frazier but I’ll always respect his opposition to Vietnam.

72. Corey Graves and Byron Saxton at the Raw commentary table.  Absolutely no chemistry whatsoever.

73. Alan Rickman died.  He may have been a villain on-screen but he was a mensch in real life.  His public support for Rachel Corrie, an activist murdered by Apartheid Israel, should always be remembered.

74. The Wars on Drugs, Black people, Indigenous communities, trans, gay, lesbian & bisexual folks, sexual assault survivors, journalists, whistleblowers, prisoners, women, Sikhs and Muslims continues unabated.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 31, 2016
1:38 a.m.

The Highs Of 2016

1. Hillary Clinton will never be President of the United States.  When you run an incompetent, uninspired, foolhardy campaign, screw over your Democratic opponent and his left-wing supporters thanks to your corrupt political and media allies and then blame everybody else for your own neoliberal stupidity, you get what you deserve:  utter and complete humiliation.

2. Game 7 of The World Series.  One of the most competitive, unpredictable and exciting championship games not only in baseball history, but in the entire history of sports.  It is a damn shame Harry Caray never lived long enough to see his beloved Chicago Cubs end their notoriously brutal 107-year slump.  Cleveland blew it.

3. David Bowie’s Blackstar.  Released 8 days into the new year, I never heard a better album.  Poignant, cathartic, masterful.  He couldn’t have ended his recording career on a higher note.

4. OJ: Made In America.  An epic, thoroughly revelatory documentary miniseries that puts the travesty of the OJ Simpson double murder case in illuminating and often uncomfortable historical context.  Infuriatingly fascinating.

5. Mauro Ranallo joined the WWE as a play-by-play commentator.  It’s so refreshing to hear the actual names of wrestling holds being called again.  Now if only the company would find him a decent colour man instead of saddling him with three unimaginative seat fillers.  Where’s his Bobby Heenan?

6. Jerry “The King” Lawler blocked me on Twitter and no longer does colour commentary for the WWE.  This misogynistic sleaze wasn’t worth following or listening to in the first place.  He did me a favour.

7. Persecuted journalist Barrett Brown was finally released from prison.  May he continue to sing like the proverbial canary.

8. Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression.  You can never go wrong writing songs with Josh Homme.  Too bad he’s going to lose the Best Alternative Rock Album Grammy to Bowie’s Blackstar next year.

9. Leah Remini’s Scientology & The Aftermath series on A&E.  A fittingly skeptical companion to the excellent, eye-opening Going Clear movie I finally screened this year.  David Miscavige’s cult is in serious shit.  Time to stop treating it like a religion.  Revoke its tax-exempt status and start making indictments.

10. Portugal won Euro.  Ronaldo’s redemption 12 years in the making.

11. Roger Ailes was forced out of Fox News after being sued for sexual harassment.  Is his most famous political operation going to survive?  Let’s hope not.

12. Despite hundreds of ill-fated attempts, the CIA could not kill Fidel Castro who died of natural causes as an old man.  Will Cuba continue to fight against the scourge of imperialist capitalism?

13. Rob Riggle’s set during The Rob Lowe Roast on Comedy Central.  Absolutely killer.  The wretched Ann Coulter got it the worst.

14. Batman: The Killing Joke.  A surprisingly dark animated version of the graphic novel that deserved a more traditional and longer theatrical release.  Far superior to the disappointing Mask Of The Phantasm, it features a much stronger performance from longtime Joker Mark Hamill.  We could be spared the mercifully brief musical number, though.

15.  The #NoDAPL protest at Standing Rock in North Dakota.  A noble cause that is literally life and death for an already marginalized and brutalized Indigenous community.  We must all rally around these heroic water protectors.

16. Mohamedou Slahi was finally released from Gitmo.  The best-selling author deserves reparations and an apology for his disgusting torture at the hands of the United States government.  Absolutely shameful.

17. The Getaway by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  They take five years now to put out new albums but the wait is always worth it.  Still funky and instantly accessible, even in middle age.

18. Corrupt, decrepit racist Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio lost his latest bid for re-election and was indicted by the Department of Justice.  The end is near for this fascist monster.  Finally.

19. The Triple Threat number one contender’s match between Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar at Fastlane.  Fantastic action despite the expected outcome.

20. Green Day’s Revolution Radio.  I’m glad Billie Joe Armstrong got sober.

21. The List Of Jericho.  Sheldon Cooper called.  He wants his funny gimmick back.  Uh oh.  I just made the list.

22. The Lazarus soundtrack.  Three more David Bowie gems.  Plus, Dexter sings!  A genuine surprise.

23. Canada won 22 medals at the Summer Olympics, 16 of which were earned by women including the hardworking soccer and rugby squads, their best effort in 20 years.  Penny Oleksiak, Andre De Grasse, Rosie McLennan and Derek Drouin were among the standout individual athletes who excelled in Brazil.

24. AJ Styles’ debuted at the Royal Rumble, feuded with Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and John Cena, and became WWE Champion.  Superstar of the year.  His Extreme Rules match with Reigns in particular was filled with entertaining spots.

25. The AIDS Crisis and Greed Is Good episodes of CNN’s The Eighties.  There remains no cure for both.

26. Weezer’s “White Album”.  Their record sales may have plummeted but Rivers Cuomo hasn’t forgotten how to craft a catchy alt-rock sing-a-long.

27. All the good films I screened this year:  The Omen (1976), Misery, The Visit, Anthony Shaffer’s The Wicker Man (first version), Ginger Snaps, Crimson Peak, Fantasia 2000, Rockshow, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is, Mission: Impossible III, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Maltese Falcon (1931), Satan Met A Lady, The Desert Trail, the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, the original D.O.A., the original Psycho, Monterey Pop and Shock.

28. The Miz’ passionate promo on Daniel Bryan during Talking Smack.  The most entertaining mic work he’s ever done.  The Yes Man could’ve easily shut down his argument.  He walked off the set instead.  What a mistake.  The segment may have single-handedly revived the fortunes of the InterContinental Champion.

29. Game two of the Montreal/Toronto MLS semifinal series.  The first time Canada has gotten legitimately excited about mens soccer in 30 years.  An atmospheric juggernaut with plenty of goals, rain, smoky flares and suspense.

30. The Tragically Hip’s final concert on CBC.  Bittersweet and engaging from start to finish.

31. The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem.  Certainly not their best offering but if it’s their final musical statement, it will certainly suffice.  After 30 years, they’re not afraid to experiment with new sounds and ideas.

32. The term “Divas” was finally retired by the WWE.  All women who wrestle for the company are now superstars like the men.  It’s about goddamn time.

33. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair for the renamed Womens Championship at WrestleMania 32.  Incredible spots, high drama, tremendous workmanship.  It should’ve been the main event.  An honourable mention to the ladder match for the InterContinental strap.  A fine exhibition for the future of the company.

34. The hour-long debate between “Donald Trump” and “Bernie Sanders” on @Midnight.  Hilarious.

35. Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool.  More melodic elegance as Thom Yorke beautifully mourns the end of his relationship to Rachel Owen who sadly died of cancer this year.

36. Kevin Owens.  Bam Bam Bigelow without the tattoos and better promos.  His elevation to the main event in just two years is a testament to his considerable skill as a performer.  And he’s Canadian.

37. Braun Strowman.  Turns out he’s much more effective without Bray Wyatt.  And he might be the fastest big man in the business today.  A monster heel with great potential.  He looks like he belongs.

38. WikiLeaks.  The #DNCLeaks and the #PodestaEmails exposed The Democratic Party for what it actually is:  cynical, snobby, clueless and neoliberal.

39. Watching Blu-rays for the first time.  Man, oh man, what a world of wonder I’ve been missing.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

40. The guy from Edmonton who found an escaped cat under a train and took him home before reuniting him with his relieved owner from Saskatchewan.  A Festivus miracle.

41. Hot Hot Heat’s final album.  A hooky farewell from one of Vancouver’s finest.

42. Nancy Grace’s Headline News show was finally cancelled.  Even CNN can’t stand her anymore.

43. The Last Man Standing match between Kevin Owens & Dean Ambrose at the Royal Rumble for the InterContinental title.  It’s no wonder Owens is World Champion on Raw now.  Stellar.

44. Kings Of Leon’s Walls which stands for We Are Like Love Songs.  It should be doing brisker business.  Not a bad song in the mix.

45. Smackdown started broadcasting live.  No more spoilers leaking out days in advance.

46. Billy Talent’s Afraid Of Heights.  Punchy and political at times, rocking and rolling all of the time.

47. Tom Mulcair was given a no-confidence vote by the NDP.  He was never a true socialist.

48. Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign for President, the most successful Jewish candidate in American history.  If it wasn’t for the Clintonistas, he would be moving into the White House next month.  They screwed him like the ignorant assholes they are.

49. Brooke Henderson won a major LPGA tournament as a teenager.  More success coming in 2017?  Let’s hope so.

50. Milos Raonic made the Wimbledon finals, a first for a Canadian tennis player.  Too bad he didn’t win.

51. The Golden State Warriors record-setting regular season win-loss record.  Unfortunately, Cleveland came from behind to snag the NBA Championship from them in the finals.  LeBron James will not be denied.

52. Mark Rylance upset Sylvester Stallone for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  Score one for the anti-Zionists.

53. Dean Ambrose cut up Chris Jericho’s silly Lite Brite jacket.  The Scarf Era has begun.  Drink it in, man.

54. Every Womens Championship match on Raw between Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair.  The best TV rivalry of the year.  I don’t understand why the WWE doesn’t allow The Boss a longer title run.  She deserves one.

55. Pearl Jam is going into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame next year.

56. The #CureForKenza campaign.  This adorable little girl has a second chance at life.  May she make the most of it and thoroughly enjoy her childhood.

57. San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest.  It’s a shitty, racist song and we don’t need to hear it anymore.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 30, 2016
11:41 p.m.

Donald Trump’s Secret “Inspirational” Playlist

The 2016 US Presidential election is less than two weeks away.  If polls and news reports are to be believed, Hillary Clinton will be replacing Barack Obama as the head of the American federal government in late January 2017.  Feeling embattled at every turn now, her Republican opponent Donald Trump is perhaps desperately clinging to the ever fainting hope that he can still pull off the impossible.  To keep up his spirits, he frequently turns to this secret playlist for much needed inspiration.

1. Hard As A Rock (AC/DC)

2. Moist Vagina (Nirvana)

3. Lick It Up (Kiss)

4. I Feel You (Depeche Mode)

5. She’s Tight (Cheap Trick)

6. The Bad Touch (Bloodhound Gang)

7. Can I Touch You…There? (Michael Bolton)

8. Grab Them Cakes (Junkyard Dog)

9. Feel U Up (Prince)

10. I Wanna Touch You (Catherine Wheel)

11. I Can’t Wait (Nu Shooz)

12. Squeeze Box (The Who)

13. Squeeze Toy (The Boomtang Boys)

14. Kiss You All Over (Exile)

15. Butterfly Kisses (Bob Carlisle)

16. Tongue (R.E.M.)

17. Slide It In (Whitesnake)

18. Kiss On My List (Hall & Oates)

19. I Wanna Be Your Underwear (Bryan Adams)

20. Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey)

21. Devil Inside (INXS)

22. Jack U Off (Prince)

23. Tiny Girls (Iggy Pop)

24. Breaking The Girl (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

25. Crash Into Me (Dave Matthews Band)

26. Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush)

27. Up The Hill Backwards (David Bowie)

28. She Ain’t Pretty (Northern Pikes)

29. Witchy Woman (The Eagles)

30. Evil Woman (ELO)

31. Nasty Girl (Vanity 6)

32. It Wasn’t Me (Shaggy)

33. Wrong (Depeche Mode)

34. Bang And Blame (R.E.M.)

35. Today I Hate Everyone (The Killjoys)

36. Break It Down Again (Tears For Fears)

37. White Lines (Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five)

38. That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore (The Smiths)

39. Burning Down The House (Talking Heads)

40. White, Discussion (Live)

41. Don’t Let It End (Styx)

42. Don’t You Forget About Me (Simple Minds)

43. I Wanna Be Adored (Stone Roses)

44. Don’t You Want Me? (Human League)

45. I Alone (Live)

46. Waiting For A Miracle (Bruce Cockburn)

47. Things I Do For Money (Northern Pikes)

48. White Riot (The Clash)

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, October 27, 2016
1:51 a.m.

Published in: on October 27, 2016 at 1:51 am  Comments (1)  

Did Donald Trump Get His Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric From Howard Stern?

On a Tuesday morning in mid-June last year, Donald Trump stunned the world by announcing in a longwinded televised address that after decades of endless teasing, he was officially running for President of The United States of America.

Only smart, observant viewers took him seriously.  Everybody else (including me) thought it was a joke, a transparent publicity stunt.  But more than a year later, Trump is the Republican nominee having cleaned up more than enough delegates during the 2016 primaries.

The most memorable moment during his instantly infamous speech was this:

“When do we beat Mexico at the border?  They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity.  And now they are beating us economically.  They are not our friend, believe me.  But they’re killing us economically.

The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.

[snip]

…It’s true, and these are the best and the finest.  When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.  They’re not sending you.  They’re not sending you.  They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.  They’re bringing drugs.  They’re bringing crime.  They’re rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people.

[snip]

Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening.  And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”

For decades, Trump has been a favoured guest of Howard Stern.  In recent months, his appearances on the long running morning radio staple have been fodder for numerous media reports as the Republican Presidential candidate’s routinely awful comments about women first made on live radio and long forgotten have suddenly been disseminating widely.

Although he’s said to be a Hillary Clinton supporter, Stern has often defended Trump throughout this endless campaign.  As recently as last week, as noted by the invaluable MarksFriggin.com, he claimed that much of what his longtime friend says can’t be taken seriously because “he’s doing it for fun.”

In his 1993 memoir Private Parts, Stern praised Trump as being “always one of our best guests”.  On pages 307 and 308 of the paperback edition, the radio comedian laid out what he called “My Immigration Policy”.  See if some of this sounds familiar:

“Wherever I’m born, I stay, that’s my rule of thumb.  I don’t try to go anywhere else.  I’m happy where I am.  The problem is, nobody else feels the same.  Take the Mexicans.  They’re nice people.  I got nothing against Mexicans, but if they’re Mexicans, they should be in Mexico.  And the ones who come here are so angry.  Of course, I’d be confused and angry, too, if I had dark skin and white people’s hair.  Speaking of hair, how do you like those Hispanic chicks who dye their hair blond?  That’s an attractive look.  No wonder some Spanish guys are ready to rape any white woman who comes along.

Look, if it was up to me, I would open the world’s borders to everyone so they could go anywhere.  The only problem is that the United States is the only good country in the world.  I don’t see the Japanese opening their borders.  The Germans try to rout anyone else out.  Even Australia, a nation of criminals, keeps immigrants out.  We take everybody’s trash.  We used to have an immigration policy in this country.  During WWII a boat of nine hundred Jews tried to get into this country and we turned them away.  Now no one’s turned away.  We used to get lawyers and professors coming here, fleeing intolerance.  We got German rocket scientists, the crème de la crème.  Now we get guys who aren’t fit to be janitors.

We’re bankrupt because it costs a fortune to assimilate all these immigrants.  We’re spending a fortune on social programs for people who come here with no skills, no jobs, and nothing to do.  They have to be put on welfare.  And we have to hire special bilingual teachers.  Then they want signs in Spanish.  Excuse me, this is America.  We speak English here.

It’s not just the Mexicans.  A lot of people who come to this country don’t want to assimilate.

[snip]

When my grandparents came here, this was a huge, underpopulated country.  Now it’s filled up.  But people still come and it’s the fault of the damn French.  They gave us that stupid Statue of Liberty to trick us.  Some gift.  Look at what it’s attracting.”

By the way, those “German rocket scientists” Stern praised?  They worked for the Nazis.

At any event, if you think he’s evolved on the issue of immigration, I direct you to a MarksFriggin.com write-up of a Sirius/XM Satellite radio broadcast from November 16, 2015.  Through site owner Mark Mercer’s reporting, here’s what Stern said in the aftermath of the Paris massacre:

“Howard said the first thing they should do is immediately cancel all visas to this country.  Howard said put a moratorium on it for a while.

[snip]

Howard said his idea is to cancel all visas.  He said no one comes in.  Howard said then the people who are here on visas are thrown out if they have expired…Howard said no one comes in right now.  He said we’re under attack so we keep people out for a year or year and a half…Howard said go study in your country.

[snip]

Howard said he’s not sure why people are so anxious to take in refugees.  Howard said they should throw them back into Syria.  Howard said then clear out that viper’s nest.”

By the way, Stern’s guest that morning was former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.  As Marksfriggin reported, “Howard said Ray was into stop and frisk and he doesn’t understand why they stopped it. Howard said it seems like a great way to know what’s going on and develop intelligence.”

In early December, just a few weeks after this broadcast, Donald Trump announced that he was advocating for a temporary, unconstitutional ban on Muslims coming to the United States.  Nine months later, he publicly supported the largely abandoned and mostly ineffective & discriminatory Stop and Frisk during his first debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

In Private Parts, Trump is quoted as saying, “I tune into Howard to hear what you rarely get these days – straight talk and very close to the mark.”  Has he been getting policy ideas from his show?

What will Stern say about Trump’s recently exposed remarks from a 2005 Access Hollywood shoot where he claimed his fame gave him immunity from violating the boundaries of women he found attractive?  When he comes back from vacation next week, claiming “he’s doing it for fun” when Trump has been accused of the very things he bragged about in that video isn’t going to cut it.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
3:05 a.m.

Published in: on October 11, 2016 at 3:05 am  Comments (1)  

Rejected Donald Trump Brand Endorsements

It’s true.  When it comes to business, Donald Trump will slap his name on anything.

Well, almost anything.

As it turns out, even the Republican nominee for American President has his limits.  I managed to get my hands on a top secret list of potential businesses & products the would-be tyrant was thinking of endorsing but ultimately turned down.  As you’ll see from the proposed advertising slogans alone, he made the right decision:

1. Trump Laxative – “Because you’re always full of shit.”

2. Trump Kindergarten – “I love the poorly educated!”

3. Trump Energy Drink – “Recommended by Jeb Bush.”

4. Trump Hair Spray – “What global warming?”

5. Trump Restaurant – “Don’t try the veal.”

6. Trump Tampons – “When she’s got blood coming out of her wherever.”

7. Trump Surveillance – “Because I don’t trust Malaria or whatever the hell her name is.”

8. Trump Police Department – “Get ’em out of here!”

9. Trump Juice – “Always bitter.”

10. Trump Condoms – “Only in small.”

11. Trump Furniture – “Just as unstable.”

12. Trump Computers – “Pre-installed with Windows 10.”

13. Trump Compass – “Be as lost as I am.”

14. Trump Prostate Exam – “I’ve handpicked the doctors myself!”

15. Trump Dictionary – “All new definitions.”

16. Trump Cock Rings – “Only in small.”

17. Trump “Is My Daughter Bangable?” App – “When you’ve run out of options.”

18. Trump Eyeglasses – “Nope.  Still blurry.”

19. Trump Decatheter – “Still less painful than a Trump Presidency.”

20. Trump Books – “I don’t write ’em. You won’t read ’em.”

21. Trump Sperm Bank – “I’ve handpicked the donors myself!”

22. Trump Mayonnaise – “You don’t wanna know.”

23. Trump Moisturizer – “You really don’t wanna know.”

23. Trump Belt Buckles – “If Ben Carson tries to stab you, believe me, you’ll be protected.”

24. Trump’s Hot Sauce – “You won’t put this shit on anything.”

25. Trump Linens – “Perfect for your next Klan meeting.”

26. Trump Salad – [to the tune of Ricola] “E. coli! E. coli!”

27. Trump Microscope – “Because it’s too small.”

28. Trump Hot Dogs – “Endorsed by a real-life wiener.”

29. Trump Spray Tan – “Orange Is The New Black.”

30. Trump Pregnancy Test – “Make America Late Again!”

31. Trump Noose – “Perfect for your next Klan meeting.”

32. Trump Pyjamas – “Made in China.”

33. Trump Seatbelts – “Believe me, they’re safe.”

34. Trump Klux Klan – “I handpicked all the members myself!”

35. Trump Films – “Coming soon:  a remake of Triumph Of The Will.”

36. Trump Encyclopedia – “All new facts.”

37. Trump Coffins – “You’d rather be cremated.”

38. Trump Taxi – “Because Uber is too reliable.”

39. Trump Bread – “Like my supporters, it’s full of nuts!”

40. Trump Mortgages – “What could possibly go wrong?”

41. Trump Wooden Crosses – “Perfect for your next Klan meeting.”

42. Trump Space Shuttle – “Believe me, it won’t crash.”

43. Trump Human Zoo – “Look at my African-American!”

44. Trump Time Machine – “When your whole life is a mistake and you want a do-over.”

45. Trump Cable News – “Formerly CNN and MSNBC.”

46. Trump Insulting Nickname Generator – “When you can’t think of a persuasive argument.”

47. Trump Paper – “Like me, it’s always blank.”

48. Trump Breast Pump – “It’s disgusting. Like me.”

49. Trump Thongs – “Wouldn’t you want me up your ass?”

50. Trump Nukes – “Made in North Korea.”

51. Trump Bras – “If you’re flat, forget it.”

52. Trump Paperweights – “Just as thick and useless.”

53. Trump Video Cassettes – “Because they’re bound to make a comeback, right?”

54. Trump Insurance – “Not available to Muslims or Mexicans.”

55. Trump Health Care – “You’re gonna die sooner.”

56. Trump Picture Frames – “It’ll sell, right?”

57. Trump Weaves – “Because bald is too natural.”

58. Trump Lie Detector – “Because the press doesn’t care.”

59. Trump Slinky – “It’s all downhill from here.”

60. Trump Jocks – “Only in small.”

61. Trump Manure – “If it smells like bullshit, it’s Trump.”

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, June 4, 2016
4:26 p.m.

Published in: on June 4, 2016 at 4:27 pm  Comments (1)  

Choke On Your Legacy

I hear their horrific screams
I see their dampened faces
You’re responsible for their pain

You’ve crushed so many dreams
Obliterated their safest spaces
You’ve earned their disdain

An executioner in the sky
A barbarian with no remorse
You’re addicted to the hit

You live to watch them die
A proponent of excessive force
“Hope and change” was bullshit

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
12:24 a.m.

Published in: on May 31, 2016 at 12:24 am  Comments (1)  

American Gulag

It flies through the air
A living symbol of toxicity
A vulgar moment of rebellion
Hell has no elasticity
The names are all disappeared
Replaced with cold mathematics
Under the ever watchful eye
Of patrolling automatics

It hangs in the air
Like a floating death
You can feel the torment
In every hesitant breath
A bruise is a reminder
That the skin still feels
A sudden convulsion
At the sound of their heels

They never stop coming
There’s no humanity in this machine
No room for principles, either
So you mustn’t make a scene
Always armed for war
Hidden by an impenetrable shield
When you live in the darkness
The more violence you can wield

The first strike’s an announcement
“You will not resist”
They brutalize every part of you
The worst is the wrist
They constantly test you
To see how far you’ll bend
They demand complete submission
Then they’ll be your friend

You can’t demand your freedom
Without feeling their wrath
The stench of all these traumas
Along the beaten path
You distrust your vision
They dispute what you saw
Everything is lost
When cruelty is the law

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
12:03 a.m.

Published in: on May 31, 2016 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

The Arrogance Of Certainty

I have seen the future
My vision is crystal clear
You can trust my judgment
I swear on my whole career

When I make a pronouncement
You can take it to the bank
When I get it horribly wrong
You’ll have me to thank

But I don’t acknowledge errors
I just pretend they don’t exist
I keep on making predictions
I’ve lost count of what I’ve missed

What a glorious scam
Collecting all these bucks
Proclaiming stupid things
While running out of fucks

I don’t ever pay a price
My inanity is in demand
It’s easier to fake wisdom
I just made a hundred grand

It doesn’t really matter
That I don’t have a clue
Accountability is absent
In other words, fuck you

Despite always being wrong
My position is secure
Who cares about integrity
When my delusion is so pure

You can point out the con
I’m playing in the end
It won’t stop producers
From booking me on CNN

Buffoonery is their brand
It’s a comfortable fit
Wanna get your fill?
They broadcast hours of it

So I’ll continue to blather
As democracy turns to rust
My poor guesses prove
I’m so worthy of your trust

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, May 8, 2016
5:56 p.m.

Published in: on May 8, 2016 at 5:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Bowie

I thought it was a hoax.  I really did.  There’s no way it could be true.  No way.  Someone is playing a cruel trick on us all.  Surely.  Hopefully.

But it is true.  David Bowie is dead.  His son, the filmmaker Duncan Jones, confirmed it on his Twitter account late last night as did Bowie’s longtime producer and friend Tony Visconti.

Less than two weeks ago in this space, I had just recounted the number of Bowie entries I had written in 2015.  There were five.  And I had noted the upcoming release of what will now be his final studio album, Blackstar.  Just three days after its release, he’s gone.  The reason:  cancer.  Fuck.

David Bowie’s sudden death at age 69 is shocking for a whole number of reasons, most notably the fact that so many of us didn’t even know he was sick.  (According to an official press release by his social media accounts, his struggle with the disease lasted a year and a half.) (JANUARY 12 UPDATE:  He had liver cancer and only a few people knew his diagnosis.)

It’s long forgotten now but there was a time when Bowie was a hardcore hedonist, a committed pleasure seeker who sought women, drugs & alcohol in ever copious amounts.  He was so strung out on cocaine for much of the 70s, he stopped eating regular food for a time, limiting himself to green vegetables, usually lettuce.  He thought aliens were out to get him.  He got drunk so many times in Berlin his worldview became bleak & helpless hence the dark music he would make at the end of the decade, his increasingly dangerous addictions fuelling his thankfully temporary fascination with fascism and Nazis.

How he survived one personal & professional crisis after another is a testament to his incredible endurance and adaptability.  Besides his terrifyingly self-destructive habits, Bowie was screwed over by his then-manager Tony DeFries, a toxic business arrangement that took years to end and left him in serious financial upheaval.  His first marriage, an open relationship with his former muse Angela (Duncan’s mom), ended acrimoniously the same time he wanted to divorce himself from RCA, the label that released almost all of his most famous, influential material.

The fact that Bowie even made it to middle age in spite of all this adversity, debauchery & trauma is shocking in its own right.  And downright admirable.  (I haven’t even mentioned Mark David Chapman, John Lennon’s jailed assassin, who also contemplated murdering Bowie before ultimately targeting the former Beatle.  It was the rare topic the usually accessible Bowie declined to discuss for obvious reasons.)  It’s important to remember that there was a time where it looked like he wouldn’t even survive the 70s.

But survive that treacherous decade he did.  Not only did he survive, he grew in stature despite releasing music that few felt was better than the classics in his first full decade, although he was never short on good songs and albums.  As he gradually cleaned himself up, only one bad habit remained:  cigarettes.  In pictures and countless TV interviews, Bowie was often never without one between his fingers.  It all caught up to him before a gig in 2004.

Bowie was in significant pain.  Ever the trooper, he went ahead with the two-hour show.  Immediately afterward, he sought medical treatment.  A pinched shoulder nerve was the initial diagnosis.  But when the problem remain unsolved, a second physician stunned him with the truth.  He was actually having a minor heart attack.  (An emergency procedure finally gave him relief.)  This doctor gave him an ultimatum:  give up the cigarettes or further put his health at risk.  Bowie finally gave up the smokes.

As a result, he would drastically scale back his public appearances.  Oh sure, there was a movie or TV role here, a special live gig there.  But for the most part, he would finally enjoy prolonged periods of privacy with his second wife, the model/actress Iman, and their now teenage daughter Alexandria.

Then, three years ago, out of nowhere, a new single followed by a new album.  The Next Day was Bowie’s first new studio effort in a decade.  (It was released in at least three different versions on CD alone.)  Recorded in secret very slowly over two years, it received glorious reviews upon its unveiling and deservedly so.  By the end of 2014, another new recording, the Grammy-nominated Sue, was included in Bowie’s most expansive greatest hits collection to date, the sprawling but by no means comprehensive 3CD set, Nothing Has Changed, which highlighted 50 years of music making.  A reworked version is on Blackstar.

Throughout his surprise return, Bowie had avoided engaging with the press.  He left that to Tony Visconti who produced all three recordings.  (However, when he won a Brit award in 2014 he did release a thank you statement while hoping Scotland would remain within the United Kingdom.  Remember the failed independence referendum they had?)

Now we know why.  Bowie saw his time was running out and by God, did he make the most of it.  MuchMusic aired about an hour of his videos earlier today, mostly from the 70s and 80s.  At the end, they aired new clips for Blackstar and Lazarus.  In Blackstar, it appears the mystery of Major Tom is finally solved.  His now skeletal body still in its spacesuit is discovered lying in permanent peaceful slumber.  In Lazarus, Bowie spends half of the time in bed and in the last scene climbs into some cabinet before closing the door locking himself in.

Death was often a theme in Bowie’s repertoire long before he ever got that awful cancer diagnosis.  Whether covering Jacques Brel’s My Death during the glammy Ziggy days, chronicling the disappearance and reappearance of Major Tom in Space Oddity and Ashes To Ashes, respectively, or addressing his own mortality in Dead Man Walking, the end was never far from his mind.

Neither was sex.  Consider the nude makeout scene, a tribute to From Here To Eternity, at the end of the China Girl video.  (I have to admit his buttocks were spectacular.)  Or Rebel Rebel.  Or Drive-In Saturday.  Or Time.  Or Suffragette City.  Or any number of songs in his vast, eclectic catalogue.

Bowie was never ashamed of his sexuality.  In fact, he’s quoted on the back cover of one of his most recent biographies admitting to being cheerfully promiscuous during his first flush with fame.  But when he met Iman, as he noted in an interview later on, he was already thinking of names for their children on their first date.  Although they only had one, they were happily married for more than 20 years.

These days, when a celebrity comes out of the closet, the world shrugs.  But when Bowie declared he was gay in 1972 (while promoting the Ziggy Stardust album), it was a proverbial earthquake.  Men in rock were expected to be macho, supremely virile, barechested conquerers like Robert Plant and Iggy Pop.  They were not supposed to be outrageously effeminate like Little Richard.

Bowie cleverly realized that by shocking his audience with non-traditional statements and moves like declaring he was homosexual (although he was indeed a macho, supremely virile ladykiller himself), he would stand out.  (His hero, Little Richard, a black man from the segregationist South, could never get away with that.)  Playing around with gender identity not only suited his image, it gave his songwriting a clear focus and identity.  It effectively separated him from the pack even if John Lennon initially dismissed it as “rock and roll with lipstick”.

Ziggy Stardust, you could argue, is the first fictional trans rock star.  Both Suffragette City and Lady Stardust employ female pronouns.  The gender of the protagonist of Rebel Rebel is never specified.  (“She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl.”)  Other songs like John, I’m Only Dancing seem to suggest a male character is only pretending to pass for straight when he’s really bisexual  (“She turns me on/But don’t get me wrong/I’m only dancing”).

The gambit worked in the free spirited UK but Bowie struggled for a similar break in the more sexually repressive America.  (It took three tries to get Space Oddity into Billboard’s Top 40 over six years.)  None of his glam anthems crossed over into the mainstream at the time.  It wasn’t until he directly addressed the US in Young Americans with his more soulful approach that he finally achieved the recognition he had long coveted.

And it might not have been as successful as it was were it not for the last-minute inclusion of the brilliant Fame, a blistering commentary on how shady managers ruin the charmed lives of rock stars, entirely inspired by a productive, late night bitch session with Bowie’s now close friend & supporter, John Lennon, who sang back-up vocals.  It hit number one.

Young Americans also benefited from the participation of Luther Vandross, then a young, hungry soul singer who Bowie hired to do arrangements and his own backing vocals.

From there, Bowie would undergo another dramatic transition to the cold detachment of Germanic electronica, first teased on the excellent Station To Station (which featured the hit Golden Years and the epic title cut with its slow build before its exceptional disco climax) then fully embraced on the laconic Low and “Heroes”.  Bowie has little memory of Station To Station’s creation because he was high on cocaine the entire time.  It was the last time he would make an album during punishing, successive all-night sessions.

When STS was ready to go, Bowie was riding in the back seat of his limo in Los Angeles one typically sunny afternoon when he spotted a familiar face walking down the street.  It was the troubled Iggy Pop, the former Stooges frontman.  (Bowie produced their third album, Raw Power.  His original mix remains controversial.)  He gave him a lift and eventually played him his new album.  Desperate to get something going again after his band flamed out for the second time, Iggy readily agreed to Bowie’s generous offer to tour Europe with him.  They ended up living in France and a then-divided Germany for a brief period.

The gesture solidified their friendship for years (although things cooled in the late 90s) and launched Iggy’s solo career.  Bowie helped spearhead The Idiot and Lust For Life (he convinced his label RCA to sign Iggy hyping him as the next Alice Cooper), both released during the UK punk explosion.  (He later produced Iggy’s eventual breakthrough, Blah Blah Blah, which included Real Wild Child.)  He even played keyboards in Iggy’s own touring band.  (They appeared on The Dinah Shore Show together, believe it or not.)  Years earlier, when another friend, Lou Reed, was similarly struggling, Bowie, fresh off his Ziggy Stardust triumph, produced Transformer, the album that spawned the classic Warhol Factory tribute, Walk On The Wild Side.  Bowie also penned Mott The Hoople’s biggest hit, All The Young Dudes, while also recording his own version.

After Lodger and Scary Monsters (both filled with classic hits and killer album cuts), the one-two punch of Under Pressure (with Queen) and the five-year-old Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth (with Bing Crosby), still the greatest modern Christmas song of all time, and the Baal EP, Bowie would be welcomed back to the American mainstream with Let’s Dance (which featured an unknown guitar slinger named Stevie Ray Vaughn).  Its blockbuster success genuinely startled him.  Combining dance music with the blues was seen as a unique hybrid.  Bowie never expected it to be his biggest album.  (It was nominated for the Album Of The Year Grammy.)  The title song would be his second and final US number one.  China Girl, originally recorded by Iggy on The Idiot, became a worldwide Top 10 giving The Jean Genie/Ziggy Stardust inspiration his first taste of financial stability.  (Bowie recorded other Iggy tracks on his next two albums.)

However, unable to relate to his new expanded audience and now uncertain about where to go next (he was also probably conflicted about the restoration of his fortunes after being screwed by DeFries which also had to have contributed to his reticence), Bowie greatly scaled back the edgy experimentation that defined his 70s work and played it safe with the covers-heavy Tonight (a good but not inspired collection) and the heavily criticized Never Let Me Down.

By the end of the 80s, Bowie was determined to get back on track.  The formation of Tin Machine with guitarist Reeves Gabrels and the Sales brothers (who played on Lust For Life) might not have panned out quite the way he intended, but it did spring him from his cushy, unfulfilling creative prison.  Never again would he feel the suffocating pressure of softening his avant garde ideas for mass appeal.

After Fame was remixed for Pretty Woman & Changesbowie (it was augmented by a nifty, visually arresting video) and Rykodisc reissued Bowie’s Polygram & RCA albums (many of which contained rare bonus tracks), Bowie resumed his solo career, first with Real Cool World (from the awful Cool World movie) and the album Black Tie White Noise which features a number of songs inspired by his second wife Iman who he had just married.  Standouts on the latter include Jump They Say (about his late schizophrenic brother Terry) and the belted out cover of I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday where he out-Morrissey’s Morrissey.

For the rest of the decade, Bowie’s alt-rock cred rose substantially even though the Let’s Dance audience had moved on.  Nirvana covered The Man Who Sold The World to much fanfare for MTV Unplugged.  (Bowie was often annoyed that fans thought Kurt Cobain wrote it.)  Nine Inch Nails joined him on tour.  And the guitar work on The Smashing Pumpkins’ Zero was clearly an unsubtle homage to Boys Keep Swinging.  Meanwhile, his hard rock edge returned.

Outside’s spoken word segments are skipable but not the songs, most especially The Heart’s Filthy Lesson, Strangers When We Meet, Hallo Spaceboy (the last Major Tom song) and A Small Plot Of Land (featuring the great pianist Mike Garson who played on Aladdin Sane).

The boisterous Earthling saw Bowie embracing jungle.  Best known for Little Wonder and I’m Afraid Of Americans (Trent Reznor’s remix is superior to the album version), it was released the same year he turned 50.  (In celebration, Bowie had a birthday concert at Madison Square Garden which featured guest musicians Dave Grohl, Lou Reed, Robert Smith, Frank Black and Billy Corgan.)

Bowie ended the 90s with the flawed but moving …hours which gave us the beautifully philosophical Thursday’s Child and the rocking, Stooges-inspired The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell.  The Dreamers features one of his most soaring late period vocals while This Isn’t Happening showcases one of Reeves Gabrels best hooks.  (A fan who won a songwriting contest wrote the lyrics.)

When Toy was scrapped (it later leaked online), Bowie presented Heathen instead.  (Slow Burn is a seriously underappreciated single, another great vocal showcase.)  Then came Reality and all its multiple versions.  The stellar New Killer Star was nominated for a Grammy.  Fall Dog Bombs The Moon, which was inspired by Dick Cheney of all people, is cutting social commentary about the collective indifference of rich, unaccountable sociopaths.  And his hurried, Spanish-inflected version of The Modern Lovers’ Pablo Picasso challenges one’s affection for the more relaxed original.

I could go on and on and on about this man’s life and career.  We haven’t even talked about his acting, how he played Andy Warhol in Basquiat, the villain in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (the soundtrack has a number of bouncy Bowie originals), the detached alien in The Man Who Fell To Earth and Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ.  I haven’t mentioned his championing of bands like The Ramones, The Talking Heads, The Cure, Kraftwerk (V2 Schneider from “Heroes” was a direct tribute to the leader of the German foursome), The Polyphonic Spree and The Arcade Fire (who he performed live with during a Fashion Rocks event).  What about all the songs he did for other movies like Absolute Beginners, When The Wind Blows, The Buddha Of Surburbia and The Falcon & The Snowman, to name but four.  Nor have I run down his very funny Late Night With Conan O’Brien appearances.

There’s just so much, too much to document in a single tribute which is fitting after all.  Because there isn’t one song, one B-side, one concert, one album, one movie, one TV show or even one interview that singularly defines David Bowie.  You can try but it’s incredibly difficult.  There are just too many high points to choose from.

That said, let me highlight one moment of brilliance that is often overlooked.  In 1999, Placebo convinced Bowie to add his vocals to a single version of Without You I’m Nothing.  It’s this take that was added to their singles collection, Once More With Feeling.  Listen to the original album cut.  Then listen to the Bowie version.  Which one is the definitive one?

Do I even have to ask?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
3:53 a.m.

CORRECTIONS/CLARIFICATION:  In paragraph 6, I wrongly asserted that Bowie had “survived overdose after overdose”.  As he noted in an interview excerpted in the terrific BBC documentary, David Bowie: Five Years, he had come close to overdosing without actually doing it.  The original, erroneous phrasing has been excised and that first sentence has been tweaked to reflect the change.

Regarding paragraph 9, Bowie was wrongly diagnosed with a pinched shoulder nerve by the first doctor he saw who prescribed him muscle relaxers.  It was a second doctor who told him he had suffered a minor heart attack (he actually had a blocked artery) which resulted in a successful emergency surgery.  With the exception of the muscle relaxers and the blocked artery, all of this information has been added with the errors removed.

Finally, this piece was written in 2016, not 2015.  And yes, I just noticed this mistake now.  The correct year is now in place.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 15, 2016
4:28 p.m.

Published in: on January 12, 2016 at 3:53 am  Comments (2)