Scott Rubush is a recovering journalist living in West Chester, PA. He is a native of York, PA, and grew up in Cary, NC. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Scott has an extensive background in writing and politics. He is Publisher Emeritus of Carolina Review, and a former associate editor of the Los Angeles-based website FrontPageMagazine.com. He currently works as a grant-writer for an educational foundation in Wilmington, Del.
:: Friday, November 30, 2001 ::
A Requiem for George Harrison
Friends, readers, Countrymen: lend me your ears. I come to bury George Harrison, not to praise him.
We haven't even experienced the spectacle of this man's funeral yet, but I can already predict that November 29 likely will be marked in years to come with candlelight vigils by aging boomers and their culturally-deprived children. Fans will ask each other, “Where were you when you heard the news?”
For the record, I heard the news while sitting at a red light at Fairfax, Olympic, and San Vicente on my way to work this morning. (It’s one crazy intersection, as those of you who know LA will attest.) As I scrolled along the radio dial, I hit Viva 107.1, a Spanish-language Latin pop station. Instead of hearing my usual fix of high-energy, wake-me-up tropical rhythms, I heard a somber discussion about the former Beatle.
“Descansa en paz, George Harrison,” intoned a male voice. Rest in peace, George Harrison.
For a brief moment, my heart bled for this man. Although he contributed to nearly 40 years of cultural rot throughout the Anglophone world, he was still human. Perhaps I’ll even say a prayer for his departed soul.
But then, the tone of the conversation on the radio changed from one of high seriousness to one of faux-scholarship--like something you might hear in an undergraduate classroom on one of our nation's self-important college campuses. The station took calls from listeners discussing this topic: Was the music of George Harrison on the same level as Beethoven and Mozart?
Mind you, this was not highfalutin nonsense emanating from some pompous classic rock deejay. This discussion was broadcast on a Latin pop station, which indicates to me that the idea of George Harrison qua serious musician has real currency in our nation.
What a sad commentary that is on the state of our culture.
PJ O’Rourke was dead-on when he called Harrison “earnest but flaky.” Am I the only one who remembers that idiotic song “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You”? I mean, c’mon. Comparing this man to Beethoven and Mozart is sheer blasphemy, even on the occasion of his death. Heck, the man’s music is so bad, so shopworn, and so hackneyed that I—and many other people too, I suspect--would rather listen to the fare on LA’s Latin Pop stations.
More to the point, though, George Harrison and the other three Beatles are emblematic of that most vile of decades, the 1960s. And by extension, they’re emblematic of legacy of that decade—the banishment of real grown-ups from public life. Need proof? Just take this quote from British Prime Minister Tony Blair:
"I am a modern man, I am part of the rock and roll generation -- the Beatles, color television -- that's the generation I come from."
Thank you, Mr. Blair, for “Cool Britannia,” the ban on fox hunting, the Euro-Ruble, and the absorption of Britain into the teary-eyed, croissant-munching European Union. Or, I should say, thank you John, Paul, Ringo, and, yes, George.
George Harrison and the Beatles deserve our contempt until flowing waters of time can erode the cultural landmarks of the 1960s into oblivion—which shouldn’t be too much longer by my watch, given that post-boomers like me and many of my friends are entering their mid-twenties.
Of course, my generation hasn’t done much better. We still have Brittany Spears and the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync. But would their kitschy tunes have been possible if the children of the 1960s hadn’t pried open the Pandora’s Box of Beatles music?
As Shakespeare had Marc Antony say of Caesar: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” So it is with George Harrison, and John Lennon too. So it will be with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well, when they depart from this world.
With the passing of a second Beatle, I just hope, probably in vain, for a restoration of grown-up culture. A culture where people read the black-spined Penguin Classics. A culture where people wear ties and dress up. A culture where people listen to serious music—like Mozart and Beethoven, as well as Sinatra and Benny Goodman, and practically anything that pre-dates 1960. And a culture where people do these things not out of a slavish devotion to greatness unseen and unappreciated, but out of genuine enjoyment of what’s excellent.
Maybe that’s asking for too much. But to quote another dead Beatle, “You may say I'm a dreamer/But I'm not the only one.”
MattRubush: Fame is tough
RedRubush: did you read about that?
RedRubush: it's tough bein' me
RedRubush: everyone wants a piece, ya know?
MattRubush: I know the feeling
RedRubush: you know the feeling, huh?
MattRubush: yeah, everyone wants a piece of me
RedRubush: no, actually, you're a loser
RedRubush: no one wants a piece of you
MattRubush: good for me
RedRubush: eh, i resent that
RedRubush: i get to be the loser
MattRubush: Make up your mind
RedRubush: screw you
Scott 9:21 PM [+] ::
Slow News Day
Blegh. It's one of those days when I simply don't have the energy to discuss a single, coherent idea for more than a sentence or two. For the record, this condition is unrelated to any alleged "problems" in my personal life. (See last night's blog for more on that.) For the record, I shaved today, and even took out my trash too. Still, though, I'm just going to fire a few quick shots, then call it a night.
--My boss, David Horowitz, spoke at my alma mater, the Univ. of North Carolina, tonight. My brother Matt, a UNC freshman who attended the speech, has posted an account of it to his blog. Go check it out.
--Speaking of UNC, it's official: the basketball team sucks this year. Tonight Carolina lost its third game in as many tries this season. The party line in Chapel Hill tells fans to "be patient." Somehow my patience for that school's mediocrity has run rather thin in the past few months. But anyway, let me add my voice to the growing chorus of people calling for the ouster of Coach Matt Dorhety: "Matt Must Go!"
--The War in Afghanistan has officially hit "MEGO" stage. (Ie, "My Eyes Glaze Over.") If you'd like to read some great articles about the war, though, click over to FrontPage. I don't feel like writing about it here tonight.
--Finally I'd be remiss if I failed to mention this off-beat blog, which I discovered today. It's called Bloggus Caesari: A Web Log by Julius Caesar. Right now the Blog is following events leading up to the consular elections. Which way will the Republic go? Be sure to log on and find out the latest. Also, be sure to check out the cool pop-up ad the site triggers when you load it up.
Scott 12:15 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, November 28, 2001 ::
Rumor Mill: Scott Rubush Can't Handle the Fame
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Rumors swirled around internet journalist Scott Rubush Tuesday as loyal readers questioned why the famed “blogger” failed to update his website Monday night.
“It’s been almost three full days since we’ve had an update,” said one reader to Rubush via Instant Messenger. Rubush, in fact, updated his blog Sunday night. The eager anticipation for a new report, however, made the wait seem endless.
Speculation appears to have led some readers to wonder if the overwhelming success of ScottRubush.com has come too quickly for the site’s creator. Scott's previously straight-and-narrow lifestyle appears to have taken a hit since he began the site last month. Rumors had circulated throughout the day that Mr. Rubush consumed a beer and hopped into bed Monday night during the time he normally updates his site.
The rumors have led to speculation that Rubush may not be able to handle the fame of being a Web Celeb.
“Is this late night drinking becoming an issue?” asked the reader. The reader wouldn’t even begin to discuss what Rubush did in bed.
Rubush’s blog isn’t the only thing that appears to have suffered during his meteoric rise to fame. The writer allegedly has not shaved in nearly two days. Meanwhile, AP’s team of researchers dug through the dumpster outside his apartment building to confirm that Rubush has not taken out his garbage since returning to Los Angeles from North Carolina this weekend.
Rubush issued a prepared statement today, but refused further comment.
“It’s my own damn life, and I don’t care what you or you or you think about it,” said Rubush. As he was whisked away by members of his entourage, he added, “If I wanna drink a beer and go to bed early, that’s my [deleted by the censor] prerogative. You just mind your own damn bidness. And keep reading ScottRubush.com.”
"Eighteen Fort Lewis students are signed up to study pornography next semester to fill a senior graduation requirement.
"The class is one of three senior seminars being offered in the English department, and will require students to chose a topic, write a paper and give a presentation related to pornography, said Michele Malach, the professor who will be teaching the class.
"During class, students will watch movies, look at photographs and read text that is considered pornographic, Malach said. Students will discuss the history of pornography, how it has evolved and the cultural function it has.
"'I think it’s an opportunity, like other classes, to broaden students’ horizons and get them to consider the world in ways they haven’t before,' Malach said."
...And Hail Victory--five straight victories, to be exact. The Braves are on the Warpath, Fightin' for Old DC, and all that other Jazz. And, as predicted here at ScottRubush.com, the Redskins are runnin' the table, picking up yet another win today. This time, they took down the Philadelphia Eagles. How sweet it is to see the 'Skins hitting their stride when it matters.
Scott voiced his outrage at the government’s encroachment on his civil liberties.
“Even Islamo-Fascists who hijack airplanes and blow up innocent civilians in prominent office buildings have rights,” he said. “I demand a fair trial in a court where I can be represented by Johnnie Cochran and Alan Dershowitz.”
Reports out of the Rubush home say that Onyx the Kitty Cat has been in hiding since Scott landed in North Carolina early on Wednesday.
“That cat hates Scott,” said one well-placed source.
Scott suggested that Onyx the Kitty Cat has her own ties to terrorist groups.
“She’s a Persian cat, and that’s enough to raise some eyebrows,” he said. Scott also cited damage to several pieces of furniture in the Rubush house, which is believed to be Onyx-related.
Afterwards, the NAACP denounced Rubush’s comments as a “despicable example of racial and ethnic profiling at its worst.”
“I’ve never heard Mr. Rubush say anything nice about black cats like Onyx,” said NAACP President Julian Bond. “This is just one more example of racism in the South,” he continued.
“I hope they throw the book at him,” added Bond, as he left for a Free Mumia rally near NAACP headquarters in Baltimore. “This kind of thing simply can not stand in a society that celebrates diversity.”
A spokesman for Onyx refused to comment on the matter, citing a policy of not discussing litigation pending against the cat.
Greetings from Los Angeles International Airport! Right now I’m taking in the old world charm of Terminal Five by sipping a cup of coffee at Café Euro. I’ve got an hour and a half to kill till my flight departs, so, I’ll tell you a bit about the experience. (Of course it won’t be in real-time; I’ll have uploaded this blog after arriving in North Carolina.)
Last night I characterized post-Sept. 11 air travel as a “Brave New World.” Since I anticipated a much longer wait at security, though, I’m almost tempted to respond to myself with Shakespeare’s famous retort: “Tis new to thee.” Indeed, the experience so far has been similar in many ways to the last flight I took from LAX. I grabbed a cab in front of my office on Pico Blvd., and paid $20 plus tip for the ride. Since I’m traveling with an e-ticket and not checking bags, I managed to bypass the ticket counter. Though the line there seemed interminable, there was almost no line at all to pass through the metal detector and onto the gates. After breezing through the security checkpoint, I’m relaxing with my laptop and some java. So far, so good.
Still, though, I must say I am disturbed by some of the changes to this place. Upon arriving at the airport, one is struck by the new traffic patterns and the legions of police officers patrolling the premises. A barricade now divides the main road into the terminals, with two lanes reserved for cabs and busses, while the outer lanes are reserved for passenger cars. As the cabbie and I came in, a cop shone a flashlight into the car as it passed by. The silver lining, though, is that the airport traffic, some of the worst in a city already known for clogged roads, has almost completely evaporated. Still, it’s quite a shock to see the police presence.
Armed guards carrying M-16 rifles also are patrolling the airport. The last time I saw armed guards carrying M-16 rifles was at the Granma Memorial in Old Havana. I resisted the urge to shout, “Viva la Revolucion! Hasta la Victoria Siempre!”
As I passed through the metal detector, the airport rent-a-cop riffled through my duffle bag, and opened my toiletry kit. She foiled all kinds of evil I had in store when she stumbled upon an offending weapon…my fingernail clippers. “We just want to keep you safe,” she said, as I allowed her to break off the fingernail file and return the clippers to my bag. And I feel safer already.
Anyway, I’ll refrain from passing judgment on the experience until I touch down in Raleigh. Despite my annoyance at some of the new security measures, I am glad to have avoided some major bureaucracy and some long waits. I’m glad to be sitting in an airport terminal, sipping coffee and watching the always-fascinating jet-set types walk by. And I’m really, really glad to be on my way home.
...and not just in my mind, either. No, no. Unlike James Taylor, I'm actually hopping on an airplane and going to Carolina in my person. I take off for Cary, NC, tomorrow night, and in about 24 hours, I'll get to experience the Brave New World of post-Sept. 11 air travel. (For the record, Osama can get bent. Should anything happen, though, just pray for my departed soul. There's a lot of penance I still have left to do, and there's no way I can finish that up between packing and standing in line at airport security, not to mention taking in a full day at the office tomorrow.) That grim note aside, though, I would like to advise my readers that ScottRubush.com likely will go into hiatus at least till I return to the Golden State this weekend. If there are any scraps left from my table, and assuming that Onyx the Kitty Cat doesn't grab them first, I'll try to post them online while I'm in North Carolina. Otherwise, be sure to log on next week for a full report on my travels.
Adieu and farewell....
Scott 12:25 AM [+] ::
The Nation, voice of the Frothing Canine Wing of the Radical Left, has portrayed yours truly as a censor and a right-wing extremist in its latest issue. I'm going to bite my tongue and refrain from commenting further about this, but it's quite a hoot to read this article. Go check it out!
Scott 12:50 AM [+] ::
It's going to be a long season for the Tar Heels...
Scott 12:33 AM [+] ::
“Ideological West Coast-ism.”
There’s been plenty of feedback from my previous post about “East Coast Bias.” Ben Kepple has made my blog the subject of a rant at his site. My brother Matt read Ben’s post, then discussed it with me via instant messenger. He seemed to find the whole idea of “East Coast Bias” quite novel, and suggested that a West Coast equivalent also exists. This he labels, somewhat ponderously, "Ideological West Coast-ism.”
I was going to reply to Ben with a defense of California and a refutation of Matt’s thesis. Short of that, I was at least going to remind them of the state’s great weather, its geographical variety of mountains, coast, and desert, and its bounty of culture, which ranges from Russian restaurants in Century City to colossal Hispanic and Asian populations and their concomitant food and music.
But the more I think about all this, the more I begin to think Ben and Matt are on to something. This state really is over-crowded and criminally mismanaged. Such blithe disregard for social problems, accompanied by a mad rush to enact enormously stupid non-solutions is how we might define "Ideological West Coast-ism.”
"Ideological West-Coast-ism” pops up in all sorts of unlikely places. Take traffic in LA, for example. The sheer quantity of cars on the road each day, of course, is staggering. But then there are also the annoying ways that civil engineers have devised of coping with all those cars. Ben’s point about left turn arrows, for example is dead-on. Before moving out to California, I never would have thought that making a left-turn at rush hour could be such an ordeal. Or that other people making left turns at rush hour could be such nuisances. And then there’s the quality of the drivers themselves. Just tonight, I nearly had an accident because some a$$hole sitting at a stop sign who, clearly fed up with waiting for a break in traffic, thought it would be a good idea to “assert” himself by blocking half the right lane with his front end. I had been zipping along at 40 mph when I rounded a curve and nearly smashed into this guy. Many of these perilous traffic situations could be avoided if the state’s political system weren't such a Banana Republic. The common-sense solution to clogged roads is…to build more roads! But that doesn't happen in California. Despite the prevailing image of LA as one giant clogged freeway, the City of Angels has the fewest miles of freeway per capita of any major city in the country (or so I’m told). And don’t look for any more highways to go up any time soon, either. We just need higher fuel taxes. Or more “mass transit.”
Of course, this display of mismanagement only begins to scratch the surface. The living, breathing manifestation of “Ideological West Coast-ism,” Gov. Gray Davis, re-surfaced in the news today. Three of the state’s largest newspapers wrote separate stories highlighting three brand new episodes of the Governor’s ineptitude and outright corruption. The San Francisco Chronicle takes Gov. Davis to task for driving the state budget into a $12.4 billion shortfall. The deficit resulted from Davis’ missionary zeal to negotiate “long-term energy contracts” at a time when energy sold for record high prices—thanks in no small part to the California state government itself. That decision to use tax dollars to buy all this expensive power, of course, was the result of Davis’ notorious refusal to end the power crisis “in 20 minutes” if he would just pass along the high costs to the people who use the energy. The LA Times reported today that Davis now has taken campaign contributions from—surprise, surprise!—energy companies! Meanwhile the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Governor is so busy driving the state into insolvency and whipping up hysteria about terrorism that he no longer has time even to keep the state’s Fitness Council together.
And I could go on. I could continue ranting about Barbara Streisand, Arianna Huffington, John Travolta and other such dolts whose political pronouncements carry Delphic insight in the Golden State. And even then, I would still have said nothing of Berkeley and the East Bay, or of the Soccer Moms who populate Anaheim and Orange County. Suffice it to say that California, the womb of "Ideological West Coast-ism," is the political equivalent of Dante’s Inferno. Abandon all hope, ye who enter.
Anatole Kaletsky of the Times of London offers clear, articulate reasons for why taking down the Taliban is important both as a tactical victory in our war against terrorism, and also as a symbolic triumph:
"By overthrowing the Taleban and scattering its mad mullahs, America has sent the clearest possible signal to other regimes which harbour terrorists or support violent religious fanatics. The carnage in New York defined the limit of America’s forbearance, both for its sworn enemies, such as Iraq and Syria, and for some traditional allies, such as Saudi Arabia. In future, attacks on civilians in America and other Western countries will be treated not as isolated crimes by individuals but as hostile acts of state. Any government that can be associated with such acts of terror can now expect the same treatment as the Taleban.
"The Taleban’s defeat has set a precedent for the kind of treatment that other governments, in the Middle East and elsewhere, can expect if they allow their territory, their finances or their intelligence resources to be used for terrorist acts. For despotic rulers, whose main motivation in life has always been personal political survival, the overthrow of the Taleban after September 11 should prove a much more salutary lesson than the capture or killing of bin Laden."
Though I disagree with the author's insinuation that taking down Saddam Hussein may no longer be necessary (by her logic, we should just sit back and wait for Hussein to strike at American soil before we go after him), this piece re-affirms the importance of nation-states at a time when they had largely been written off as relics of a pre-Sept. 11 era. (Remember all that talk about a "new kind of war"?) Terrorism is a tactic, not a goal or end unto itself. Eliminating the tactic of terrorism is a utopian fantasy. But eliminating the states which participate in terrorism is a very specific task, one which is achievable with the right attitude and a certain amount of armed strength. Let's go get the bad guys, and let's also maintain a sense of realism as we go about that task.
Scott 10:40 PM [+] ::
East Coast Bias
Here's an item from the sports page of today's LA Times, which will fascinate readers on the East Coast. In a whiny tone typical of the newspaper's other sections, the piece complains that the USC-UCLA football game will not be broadcast nationally this weekend. This is the biggest game of the year for the largest city in America that doesn't have an NFL franchise, yet they're shocked, shocked, that it's not getting any national attention. (UCLA, for the record, is 6-3; cross-town rival USC is 5-5).
Though the article acknowledges that the game is a weak match-up this year, it still includes this zinger: "Makes you want to cry East Coast bias."
Now those of you who have never spent much time out west are probably scratching your heads and trying to figure out what the heck "East Coast bias" is.
"East Coast bias" is the theory, held by many Californians, that the East Coast controls the world. And the theory says that the East Coast doesn't have very nice plans for the world, either. No, no. The East Coast is working, with Illuminati-like secrecy, to make football games start on the West Coast at 9am. "East Coast bias" is the reason why more of America isn't like Berkeley or Brentwood. "The East Coast" is working to keep the New York Times' circulation larger than that of the LA Times. East Coast Bias snatched the Rams away from California, and gave them a Super Bowl title. And now it's keeping LA's "Big Game" off tube this weekend.
That's just the theory, though. It could well be that there's no bias at all. Maybe it's just that LA is self-important and self-absorbed, and mistakenly thinks that people East of I-15 give a hoot about the city and its football games. Maybe it's just that the rest of the country doesn't care about two PAC-10 also-rans, particularly when nearly every other team in the country will participate in a "rivalry" game this Saturday. Maybe the real action this weekend, at least football-wise, really is on the East Coast and Midwest. But who knows for sure?
Anyway, that's a taste of what lurks in the minds of Angelenos this week.
What an incredible news week this has been. The Taliban has begun to crumble in Afghanistan, and Presidents Bush and Putin are holding the most important US-Russian talks since Reagan stared down Gorbachev in Reykjavik and said, "The hell with everything: we're going ahead with SDI" (or something to that effect.)
Yet somehow I remain uninspired. For some reason, I just have news exhaustion this week. I'd rather think about my holiday plans. Or office politics. Or the books I'm reading.
But I hate to short-change you, dear reader. So lemme give you a Cliff's Notes version of the best news and op-eds I've seen in the past few days:
Dick Morris at Jewish World Review: Don't be taken in by the faux-harshness of Morris' weasel words. While he appears to be blaming Clinton for Sept. 11, he also backhandedly credits the disgraced former president with Feeling Pain in Oklahoma City, letting gays into the military, and ending a recession. Morris and Clinton both are slimeballs.
"Ha ha ha to the Pacifists," by Christopher Hitchens: Hitchens pours on the ridicule and scorn the Surrender Now leftists deserve. And he ends with these defiant sentences: "There will be other mutants to fight. But if, as the peaceniks like to moan, more Bin Ladens will spring up to take his place, I can offer this assurance: should that be the case, there are many many more who will also spring up to kill him all over again."
I've finished moving the Scott's Bookmarks page from Geocities to Blogger. Now, as you surf through my online guide to all things Scott, you can enjoy the same sleek, aerodynamic design you see here. And, there are no pop-up ads there any more. Go check it out!
Scott 10:05 PM [+] ::
Henry V and the Shakespeare Resolution
Taking advantage of a day off from work, I read through Shakespeare’s Henry V this morning. This is some good wartime reading, and I recommend this work along with its three “prequels,” Richard II, and Henry IV Parts one and two. Henry V’s character is a bit like George W. Bush. In Henry IV, we see the young Prince frequenting the taverns of London with his buddy John Falstaff. By the end of the first play, Prince Harry has matured from a young frat boy into a brave soldier who rises to the occasion and puts down a Scottish revolt. In Henry V, Harry becomes become King, and, in a separate war, opens a big ‘ole can of whoop-a$$ on the French. It’s a wonderful Bildungsroman, and it provides plenty of inspirational material that relates well to the times our country faces right now.
(Of course, I’m mighty tempted to tear into the character of King Henry V. He has a bit of Dubya in him, but he strikes me more as a Tony Blair figure. I mean, the guy rails against “ceremony,” mingles with the little people, and even takes one of the hated French for his wife. I won’t go so far as to call him the “People’s Princess” as Peter Hitchens labeled Blair, but I do find Henry V to have an annoying streak of Princess Di populism in him. Kings should be regal, not “just like the rest of us.” But I won't belabor the point.)
I read these plays as part of my Shakespeare Resolution of New Year’s past. As annus mirabilis 2000 gave way to 2001, I decided to attempt reading the complete works of Shakespeare in one calendar year. After all, my brother did it last year, and, as Richard Weaver mentions in his classic, Ideas Have Consequences, sainted conservative Eric Voegelin plowed through the corpus once each year for decades. So why not me too?
Of course, now I realize that I might as well have resolved to have cured cancer by year’s end. I still have to read 19 more plays--which means I’m only about half way. If I’m going to make it, I have to read, oh, about three plays a week between now and New Year’s. Will Scott get to the finish line? Keep checking back for updates.
If you’re not reading his Daily Rant, by the way, you’re really missing out. Go click over there, once you’ve finished up here.
Okay, Now You’ve Completely Lost it, Scott…
And why has Scott completely lost it? Because Scott recently joined the BMG Ritmo y Pasion Latin Music Club.
My Anglo readers probably are shaking their heads right now, and wondering, “What in the world got into to you, Scott?” I mean, it’s not every day that a white Southern Cracker joins the BMG Ritmo y Pasion Latin Music Club. How did Scott go from Lynard Skynard and AC/DC to Elvis Crespo and Ricky Martin so quickly? Simple answer: Scott spent a year and a half in Los Angeles.
The longer answer, of course, is much more complex. Scott spent years and years of his schooling with his nose buried in Spanish grammar books. Scott also has Spanish-speaking neighbors who have introduced him to various Latin artists, and who have taken him to various Latin bars, both North and South of the Mexican border. Suffice it to say that Scott finds Latin music very cool right now. And you should too, dear reader. And here’s why.
Latin music offers a festive, upbeat alternative to the crap churned out by American music companies. Tired of hearing about how Brittany is “Not that Innocent?” Turn the dial over to the Latin music station, and you don’t have to hear the lyrics at all! I mean, sure, the lyrics of Latin Pop can also be vapid at times. But at least any vapidity is hidden behind a foreign language. And of course, the lyrics of Latin Pop, if you do manage to translate them, reflect the mores and customs of a culture that values machismo and chivalry rather than a 19-year-old girl’s navel.
Lyrics aside, though, this stuff is really fun to listen to because it’s so upbeat. I mean, it’s like having a vacation right there in your CD player—especially if you live in a warm, tropical place like Southern California. If you’re driving along the Pacific Coast Highway on a Sunday afternoon and you have Celia Cruz intoning that “La vida es un carnival” (“life is a carnival”), you feel like you’re cruising the beaches of Cancun or the Malecon in Cuba (which is that country’s version of the PCH. Everything south of it (i.e., the entire country) is a stink hole, of course, but it’s still a cool drive.)
In all seriousness, I really think there’s huge market to be tapped here. Elvis Presley once remarked that his risqué style was nothing new. He was just imitating what he had seen “the colored folks” in Memphis doing for years at the city’s Jazz and Blues bars. If some latter-day Elvis would take the time to imitate Latin Pop, its rhythms, and its dances for a mass, Anglo audience, that guy would become a huge success.
That said, let me give a quick review of the CDs I picked up:
Ricky Martin: “La Historia”: I thought this album would be obbligato for the Latin Music aficionado, but I seem to have been mistaken in that judgment. This album, as the title implies, is a compilation of Martin’s greatest hits. It turns out, though that Martin has had about four songs that have a) been popular and b) been really cool. I suggest downloading those four: 1. Maria, 2. La Bomba, 3. La Copa de La Vida (my favorite), and 4. Por Arriba, por Abajo.
Celia Cruz and Friends: “A Night of Salsa”: This album features the “Reina de la Salsa” (“The queen of Salsa”) performing live with Tito Puente, La India, and Johnny Pacheco. It includes a live version of the anthem “Carnival,” (which I mentioned earlier), and twelve other salsa standards. (Salsa, for los que no saben, features lots of percussion and brass instruments; it’s a little bit like big-band jazz music, only with a tropical rhythm and a vocal accompaniment.) The most pleasant surprise of this album is that it ends with a rendition of the Cuban favorite, “Guantanamera.” Scott was last seen singing “Guantanamera” while drinking rum and smoking a Cohiba Cigar in Havana on his 21st birthday.
Tito Puente’s Golden Latin Jazz All Stars “In Session”: This is a really low-key album. Save this one for Sunday afternoon and the beach.
Elvis Crespo: “Suavamente” and “Pintame”: I went out on a limb and bought two of Crespo’s albums. I wasn’t disappointed. They’re both incredible—“best of tasting” as the Wall Street Journal’s wine columnists are fond of saying. “Pintame” has six more tracks than “Suavamente,” but two of “Pintame’s” songs are garbage whereas “Suavamente” is 200-proof-pure good stuff. That said, I must issue a few caveats before recommending these albums to you. The first is that Crespo himself appears to be some effeminate pretty-boy on the covers of these albums, so you might get some strange looks if you pick this up at Warehouse. Also, Crespo performs Merengue music, which I happen to find energizing and festive. You may find it foreign and repetitive. The albums feature lots, and lots of great percussion, and some very infectious rhythms, but the brass instruments may sound gawky to many American listeners.
On a side note, I also picked up two albums featuring Czech composers. One features Dvorak’s Cello Concerto which, uncultured barbarian that I am, I had never heard until I visited Europe this summer. If you, too, are an uncultured barbarian and don’t own a copy of this piece of great music, get it now. It’s really incredible. The other CD is of Bedrich Smetana’s “Ma Vlast” (“My Country”). Smetana is a fairly obscure composer, but I spent six days in his home town of Litomyšl in the eastern Czech Republic, so I felt obligated to pick this up. Smetana is considered the Czech version of Aaron Copland—both composers wrote lots of music celebrating their respective nations’ cultures and ways of life. This piece in particular isn’t bad—in fact, it’s widely considered to be his magnum opus--but I prefer Smetana’s “Bartered Bride,” instead. That’s just me, though.
"Our cliche...is just another bit of late '90s solipsism that has somehow survived the supposed transformation of September 11. By declaring, as some young amorist no doubt already has, that "if I don't get to third base with my girlfriend in the backseat of my mom's Acura, the terrorists will have won," we are elevating the prosaic to the heroic. Not only is this unseemly, but it diminishes the accomplishment of real heroes, like our fighter pilots, our firefighters, and Ashleigh Banfield, who has gone from blonde to dishwater-brown in the service of her country."
Labash then points to some of the absurd consequences this platitude has wrought, including the resurrection of washed-up comedian Joan Rivers' career ("If third-rate stand-up comics don't perform, the terrorists will have won.") This is a truly Mencken-esque piece, and it'll leave you rolling on the floor.
"Here we are, for the second time in a decade, risking American lives in a war against an enemy fueled and fed by oil money. Here we are again decrying our dependence on oil from a particularly unstable, unfriendly part of the world. Here we are in desperate need of both energy conservation and new energy production."
"And here we see (in the Oct. 30 Post) that we may be prevented from drilling in the single most promising area on this continent because of a . . . polar bear treaty: "New Species Enters Debate on Arctic Oil; Polar Bear Agreement Cited by Drilling Foes.""
"Now, I like polar bears as much as the next guy. I like pandas and caribou and all the furry cuddlies on God's good earth. But I also like people, particularly Americans, and particularly American soldiers. And I do not like seeing them shot and killed in wars that would be both more avoidable and more winnable were we not so disastrously dependent on energy supplies from a nasty part of the world with nasty people who use our oil money for nasty purposes."
Here's a helluva story from the Wall Street Journal's John Fund about Winsome Earle, a black, female Republican who defeated a 20-year incumbent on Tuesday to win election to Virginia's House of Delegates. Her journey from a childhood in the Bronx through the Marine Corps, and onto the ballot is really amazing. She even fended off harassment from the Black Panthers during her election campaign. Earle should already be an inspiration to us all, and I'm sure her stature will only rise when she gets to work in Richmond.
Scott 1:05 PM [+] ::
Those of you sneering down at me from above the Mason-Dixon line are probably wondering, “What the hell is hush puppy mix?”
Hush puppy mix, for the ungelehrten, is what you use to make hush puppies.
“What the hell are hush puppies,” you ask?
Be patient, and I’ll tell you.
Hush puppies are fried morsels of Southern goodness. They’re made with a seasoned corn flour, to which the southern chef adds water, then fries a tablespoonful at a time in oil. The final product is about an inch long, usually crescent-shaped, with a crispy yellow outside and a warm, bread-like inside. They go great with all kinds of seafood, but more commonly pop at a “Fish Fry” or a “Pig Pickin’” (i.e., events at which southerners fry catfish and eat barbequed pork directly from the carcass of a pig, respectively.) Hush puppies are a staple of any truly southern meal. And they taste awesome too.
So imagine my surprise at finding hush puppy mix at a Ralph’s Grocery store in California? And not just any Ralph’s Grocery Store in California, but in a Ralph’s Grocery Store that lies just a few short blocks away from Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive? I mean, aren’t they supposed to eat sushi and Thai food here, and not fried corn batter? How in the world did hush puppy mix end up here?
I try not to ask too many questions about the Lord’s miracles, so I grabbed a package of the mix, counted my blessings, then paid $1.99 for the good stuff. Unfortunately they wouldn’t accept my Confederate money. But still, what a joy it will be to fry it up--and wash those things down with some “sweet tea” (i.e., ice tea which is sweetened with sugar, rather than mango, passion fruit, or some other tropical fruit with a trendy name.) That’ll be some good eatin’.
Maybe it really is possible to be Southern in Southern California. When I cook it up, I’ll let you know if it passes muster.
"I don't fool myself and think I'm a hip-hopper or nothing," said West, whose influences run more to Aretha Franklin than Jay-Z. "The black musical tradition is the most precious tradition, and just to be a small part of it is a great honor."
"West's album is more of a valentine than a critique of the music that he believes is the raw reflection of black life in America. He admits he's only a beginner, and most of the album's tracks are typical hip-hop fare – strong base lines coupled with obscure samples, with the occasional comedy skit thrown in.
"The sight of West snapping his fingers and bobbing his trademark afro to the beat wasn't so surprising to those who know his lecture style – part poet, preacher and comedian.
"West was one of the first black scholars to be named a University Professor, Harvard's highest faculty post and a designation held by only 14 of the 2,200 faculty members."
West's arrogance and the grammatical infelicities in his quotes to the reporter are risible enough. The real kicker, though, is that Harvard actually pays this man money to teach the nation's brightest kids about hip-hop music. This man's rap album isn't a joke. The Ivy League is.
Scott 1:31 AM [+] ::
Need more proof that the war on terrorism is an epic struggle upon which the very survival of our civilization depends? Look no further than this Technicolor snapshot of Osama bin Laden as a teenager posing with a pink car along with his enormous family. Young Osama, whose face is circled, is decked out in blue jeans and and a powder green sweater. I'll let readers decide which bin Laden family member is actually dressed worst in this picture, though.
Scott 1:11 AM [+] ::
"Bill Clinton's office, located at 55 West 125th Street, is seeking interns in its understaffed scheduling department. Intern will answer phones, take requests, and follow through on such requests. Also will be responsible for light computer work and keeping track of calendar. Flexible days/hours. For consideration, please fax resume to: David Slade, Deputy Director of Scheduling."
Thank you, dear reader, for enduring the five-day hiatus at ScottRubush.com. I had every intention of filing from the Grand Canyon State, but alas, it was not meant to be.
I had quite a time out in Arizona this weekend, though. Friday morning I packed up the pickup truck, and set out on eastbound Interstate 10. The drive out into the desert was every bit as refreshing as I had expected. Traffic through LA parted like the Red Sea for Moses, and I cleared I-15 in under an hour. A few hours later, I stopped in Blythe, a small border town on the California side of the Colorado River, and ate lunch at Burger King. Before heading back onto the highway, I purchased a pint of Bryer’s Ice Cream at a gas station. I saved it till I crossed the river and entered Arizona, then devoured it at the state’s welcome center. What a treat. Afterwards, the Expeditionary Assault Vehicle (or, as my Calif. readers know it, “El Nino”) conveyed me past Western Arizona’s arid landscapes and trademark Saguaro Cacti. Keeping the speedometer pegged in the mid-eighties thanks to Arizona’s generous speed limits, I rolled into Phoenix a mere two hours later.
I spent the weekend at the La Posada Resort in Scottsdale, a lush green oasis which lies immediately northeast of Phoenix. This was my second time visiting the hotel, and their standards were just as high as when I stayed there in 1999. The food was superb, the pool and hot tub were decadent, and the company—the editors and staff of the Collegiate Network—were fraternal. It’s hard to ask for much more than that.
Alas, things took a turn for the worse on Saturday afternoon. That’s when I hiked Camelback Mountain with (UT-Austin) Contumacy editor Robert Jung, and Xandy and Henry Gilman. Camelback is a mere 2700 feet high, but its sheer red walls make the mountain in Dante’s Purgatorio seem attractive by comparison. Meanwhile, the Arizona sun created a 95-degree Inferno which made an already steep hike especially brutal. Fortunately I completed the hike and made it back to the Paradiso of La Posada (sorry, I’m really into this Dante motif) just in time for dinner.
Along the way, though, I picked up a nasty case of heat exhaustion. If you’ve never had heat exhaustion before, it really sucks. It’s a flu-like illness which stems from a depravation of salts and electrolytes, and causes the body to enter a state of mass-dehydration. Symptoms include excessive perspiration, a 102+ degree fever, a massive headache, and as the name implies, severe fatigue. The heat exhaustion left me feeling like a zombie the rest of the weekend. When I returned to LA last night, I went straight to bed and slept for fourteen straight hours. Today, I’ve been chugging Gatorade (which restores salts and electrolytes) and popping Tylenol. I still needed a three-hour nap after work, but I think I’m finally starting to feel better.
The illness brought a really unfortunate ending to an otherwise superb weekend. I didn’t even have the chance to cheer on the Diamondbacks in their Game 7 World Series victory over the Yankees. (Fortunately, as I lighted off on I-10 past Bank One Ballpark and Downtown Phoenix, I had been “guaranteed” a D-Backs victory by no lesser authority than the clerk at the Chevron on McDonald Road in Scottsdale.) Still, it was a great little adventure, and I’d do it all again—the drive, the hike, the heat exhaustion, and all.
Two outs, bottom of the 9th, D-Backs up 3-1. Tino Martinez comes to the plate and hits a two-run homer to tie the game at three. Just when it looked like Arizona had this one, the Yanks come from behind to win in extra frames. The bastards...
Scott 12:10 AM [+] ::