Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quotes Relating To The Financial Panic Of '08

"You can't ask Congress for $700 billion without more modesty and a better explanation for how it would be used." Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2008

"Every financial company that's now in trouble got there because it took too much risk and acted foolishly. These companies were so busy trying to "make the number" that they pulled any levers they felt like. And, oh, by the way, isn't it interesting how so many financial companies that always meet or "beat the number" are the ones that are not just collapsing but vaporizing." Bill Fleckenstein, Contrarian Chronicles, September 22, 2008

"No system can be smart enough to survive this level of incompetence and recklessness by the people charged to run it." Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, September 30, 2008

"If I could borrow 700 billion on the government's terms and buy these assets I'd be doing it myself," Warren Buffett, CNBC Interview, September 24, 2008

"The Treasury plan is a disgrace: a bailout of reckless bankers, lenders and investors that provides little direct debt relief to borrowers and financially stressed households and that will come at a very high cost to the US taxpayer. And the plan does nothing to resolve the severe stress in money markets and interbank markets that are now close to a systemic meltdown." Nouriel Roubini, RGE Monitor, September 24, 2008

"What has occurred is not just an old-fashioned banking crisis but also a banking scandal. Most of the big banks were shot through with short-termism, deceptive practices and self-dealing. We must institute basic changes in corporate governance and in management practice to restore responsibility and honesty for the sake of the economy and for the self-respect of the country." Edmund Phelps, WSJ.com, October 1, 2008

"If Secretary Paulson constructed a package that was centered around buying direct equity stakes in the banks, he could quickly garner large majority support in both houses. Better yet, Congress could just construct its own package centered on buying equity stakes and send it to President Bush." Dean Baker, The Huffington Post, September 29, 2008

"We're addicted to easy money and easy credit and excessive spending and deficits" Rep. Ron Paul, September 19, 2008

"The financial bloodbath will continue, but unless the deal on the table changes significantly, Henry Paulson gets to decide who lives and who dies. The former investment banker from Goldman Sachs would be empowered as treasury secretary to play savior or grim reaper, the liquidator who essentially pulls the plug on some banks and financial firms or the man who rescues them from ruin." William Greider, The Nation, September 29, 2008

"The Democrats could start over, with a bailout plan that is, say, centered on purchases of preferred stock and takeovers of failing firms — basically, a plan clearly focused on recapitalizing the financial sector, with nationalization where necessary." Paul Krugman, New York Times,
September 29, 2008

"I could easily be wrong, but I suspect that at the end of the day, you and I will be bailing out the hundred-million-a-year finance titans who messed this up in the first place. . . There are still people, and I know many of them well, who believe that old myth that you can trust the markets to fix everything — that old magical thinking that some thieves will stop other thieves from robbing the sheep like us. That’s the really sad part. Some babies never learn." Ben Stein, New York Times, October 21, 2007

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Upcoming Movie Nights

While reading about, pondering and getting utterly confused by yet more staggering news on the economic front, I realize that. . . oh yeah, I'm involved in two classic movie nights very soon. The first is for Stephen Parr's Oddball Film. Stephen, director of the San Francisco Media Archive, is another of the brethren who creates fun, delightfully bizarre, original and historically fascinating shows from a wide array of film footage.

My cinematic crazy quilt this time is 'Wine, Womanizing And Song', an evening of partying-nightclubbing-carousing-hallucinating and philandering mayhem from 1930s and 40s classic Hollywood cartoons, double entendre-packed comedies and musical “jukebox” Soundies.

Date: Friday, September 26th , 2008 Time: 8:30PM
Venue: Oddball Film, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 RSVP Only to: 415-558-8117 or info@oddballfilm.com

I will also be with most of the KFJC Psychotronix Film Festival crew on Friday, October 3. Cinema Insomnia's Mr. Lobo and The Queen Of Trash will host the Lobo-tronic Film Fest that is the Friday evening entertainment for the SiliCon at San Jose's Doubletree Hotel.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Gilberto Family Band

Relish this clip of Joao Gilberto and Bebel Gilberto, sweetly, deeply, profoundly personifying the bossa nova groove. . . I like them a lot better than I liked The King Family.

Since that isn't enough for me, here's Bebel, singing "All Around" from her 2004 album.

Is there a cooler, sexier vocalist on the planet? If you know of one, tell me about her!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sinatra and Jobim, 1967

To celebrate post #200: Frank, in his Brazilian blue bossa nova period, joined by the superb songwriting and lush guitar of Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Burt Bacharach Day

Enjoy Diana Krall's take on The Look Of Love, Burt n' Hal's sultry pop-bossa. This tune is so sensuous, it would survive a cover by Pee-Wee Herman and Pinky Lee with most of its sexiness intact.

Personally, I hope the ageless Burt teams up with Diana's husband, Elvis Costello, to write her next album.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bill Hicks, Standup Philosopher

"I believe that there’s this agenda in mainstream media - and I think it’s fairly easy to back this up - to keep people stupid, docile and apathetic. – Bill Hicks (1961-1994)

The risk-taking, fearless, restless, unpredictable, sometimes devastatingly inspired social satirist Bill Hicks lets 'er rip in this 1989 “Late Night With David Letterman” appearance. While his act was definitely toned down for the appearances on Letterman's show, Bill still managed to get in a few amazing, funny, bizarre and satiric moments.

Unfortunately, Bill Hicks passed away at 32, so it wasn’t possible to have the pleasure of seeing him expand, grow and continue to riff thoughtfully and madly through his 50's and 60’s, as George Carlin did.

I hope Mr. Hicks ultimately found a measure of peace and some respite from the stresses of this earthly ride.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sorry, More Political Crap

Alas, I assiduously scoured youtube and daily motion for some intelligent and hard-hitting political satire about economics to post today, but found nothing that fit the bill. Is there a fearlessly political Tom Lehrer with a brilliant intellect, Mark Twain's ire and Bill Hicks' fire?

So, in the infinitely less entertaining interest of becoming an "informed voter", Google or MetaCrawler the following:
  • causes+ subprime mortgage crisis

  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

  • Commodity Futures Modernization Act

Then, ask how the aforementioned legislation helped contribute to the U.S. financial system meltdown; ask who lobbied for these bills, who were the formulators, cheerleaders and financial backers behind these policies and who signed 'em into law.

And, with the understanding that both megabucks political parties bear responsibility for this, ask which of the two is more the architect of "another fine mess we've gotten ourselves into" (see, I got an old movie reference in).

It's time to set political views and biases aside and just answer the damn questions.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare A Couple Of Billion?

Jim Terr's spoof of "Brother Can You Spare A Dime?" is especially timely these days.

Will the new dance hit be "party like it's 1929?"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Lenny Bruce On The Steve Allen Show

Lenny discusses airplane glue and how he became offensive in this 1959 appearance on The Steve Allen Show.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Indecision '08

I prefer that this blog stay in the sandbox and have no intention of steering this off of music and entertainment more than once in the proverbial blue moon, but find myself compelled to rant today.

To quote one of the rare sensible letters to the editor printed in the San Francisco Chronicle, "Have you noticed how all of the important issues - the crisis in the economy, the war in Iraq, health care and all the rest - have been marginalized? Let's get back to the issues, please."

Issues? If polls and campaign coverage by the ratings-driven TV news media have their slimy fingers on the faint pulse of the country, one would conclude that the issues are of absolutely no interest to a significant swath of the American voting public. It seems that vast throngs across this nation simply don't give a crap about oh. . . things like an out-of-control budget deficit ($407 billion for this fiscal year, and a total national debt exceeding 9 1/2 trillion dollars), the continuing meltdown of the U.S. economy (and its relationship with specific regulatory/oversight policies), the destruction of our strategic alliances and thorough corruption of the political and electoral systems. Only ideology and "personality" matter.

The concept that if a candidate or regime (of either party) gets into office and screws up royally, horribly, unimaginably, an informed public will vote their inept asses out, ideally in a landslide, is gone, sacrificed on the altars of a scandal-and-gotcha obsessed big media, big lies, bigger $$$$$$ and big ass corruption. And if said public is, indeed, completely uninformed about said issues and beholden to rigid ideologies, we are screwed, screwed and screwed.

That's quite enough election year rant for now.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

That Lucky Old Sun

Brian Wilson, in concert, 2007

It's true - I was among the greying but enthusiastic multitudes wearing Hawaiian shirts at last night's Brian Wilson show at Oakland's historic Paramount Theatre, and damn proud of it! I sat in the second row right, jumped up and down, yayed, yelled and whooped loud enough that Brian and his bandmates could definitely hear me.

Yes, it's no accident that I did not become a music critic.

This may have been the best Brian Wilson Band performance, start-to-finish, I've had the pleasure to hear. It was easily the hardest rocking version of a Brian Wilson or Beach Boys band I have heard. There was no filler in the opening set of BB evergreens, performed with a passion and exuberance that breathed vibrant new life into the classic 60's chestnuts. As is his custom, Brian has surrounded himself with talented vocalists, including soprano Taylor Mills, 'CEO of falsetto' Jeffrey Foskett, Scott Bennett and all of the superb L.A. band The Wondermints, who nail those "Four Freshman" harmonies as if they're the proverbial piece o' cake.

My favorite part of the show was the performance of the new album, That Lucky Old Sun (written by Brian, Scott Bennett and Van Dyke Parks) in its entirety.

Part homage to 1950's and 1960's Southern California, part candid autobiography, it's short, sweet and offers that unique blend of happy power pop with poignant, moving interludes. A string section joined the band and, as the cellos and violins do on Pet Sounds and Smile, added yet more gorgeous layers of harmonies to the mix. Here's a short piece about the album, which for me provides a valuable balancing antidote to the snotty cynic within:

Nothing if not brave, Brian directly addresses the personal problems he has survived in sections of That Lucky Old Sun - and relates them to the human experience we all share.
Since I'm a (shudder) 'sensitive guy', this aspect of Brian's music gets me, every time. Alas, the struggle and emergence into the light from a long dark night of the soul is rarely a topic for pop songwriting, especially in the current environment that treats an awful lot of music as a consumer product like french fries or Funyuns, to be marketed primarily to those under 18 years of age.

In short, great show! It rocked the house and, in those reflective passages, achieved something virtually no one other than George Gershwin, Louis Armstrong, Lester Young and Duke Ellington can for me - elicited the good tears.

Thanks, Brian and band - hope to see ya on your next swing through these parts.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Miles Davis At John Lennon Tribute Concert, 1990

My favorite Beatles cover ever: Miles and saxophonist Kenny Garrett toss an original, imaginative, polyrhythmic and sweet spin on a tune that's in my top ten created by John n' Paul (with a brilliant and invaluable assist from producer/arranger la magnifique George Martin), Strawberry Fields Forever.

Since Miles sounded great in his last tour, his untimely passing in 1991 is still something of a shock.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

More Electric Miles, 1973

I'm still absorbing this pungent explosion of churning burning rocking maniacal wah wah funk sludge frenzy from the 1973 Miles Davis Group. It's difficult to say what I like the most: Miles' sardonic trumpet blasts, driving wackajuckawackajuckawakcajucka rhythm guitar by Reggie Lucas, Dave Liebman's soprano sax that sounds like rhino clarinet, the unrelenting, pounding percussion by Mtume (congas) and Al Foster (drums), or lead guitarist Pete Cosey playing like some evil spawn of Sonny Sharrock, Albert King and Jimi Hendrix.