That Mad Cow Disease Is A Bitch

Well, now we know what led Andrew Breitbart to freak out at a group of teenagers like this.

That mad cow disease is a bitch.

They’re saying that Breitbart, 43, was out walking after midnight, out in the moonlight, and that he fell down and died. Natural causes is all they’re saying.

That’s because they don’t want to admit that it’s mad cow disease. Or, a more technical explanation, he overdosed on the suppository*. You can only shove so many of those jagged fuckers in your ass per lifetime, Andrew.

In tributes to this inexplicably famous person, it will no doubt be noted that Breitbart was involved in the takedowns of former Georgia State Director of Rural Development Shirley “Shoorah! Shoorah!” Sherrod, ACORN, and Anthony “The Weiner” Weiner. Even if these feats of strengths were somehow legitimate, that’s the stuff one builds a career upon? What did you do with your life, sir? Well, I wrecked the career of an old black lady, I decimated a community organizing group, and I let it be known to the world that a U.S. Representative liked to send pictures of his petzl on his mobile phone!

That’s a career?

And the fact is that the first two efforts were based on complete bullshit. Sherrod did not make a racist speech; she actually told a heartwarming story of racial reconciliation. And the ACORN recordings were just plain silly and sadly led to the takedown of an organization that was doing good in these Untied States of America.

The only thing Andrew Breitbart ever did that was not based on lies and heavily edited video was to reveal to America that Anthony Weiner had photographed his own manhood at some point.

How will we make it without him?

*According to the Serious Poo-Poo Institute of Technology Stylebook: “The Suppository: The jagged, horrid, rusty, poisonous suppository that is used to corrupt Republigoats, that travels from their ass through their entire bloodstream, leaving behind shards of poison and bad ideas, and ending up in the brain, where it severs the corpus collosum and implants the text of “Atlas Shrugged,” poop, and the hallucination that Ann Coulter is hot.”

Jack Kevorkian, An American Hero

I wanted to write “Dr. Death is Dead” as the hed here, and I’m certain that’s what will be on the front page of the New York Post today. But it’s just pejorative. And it disrespects the man’s work. He deserves better.

Americans have a strange fascination and history with unsensible prohibition. Our response to destructive drugs is to ban them and to throw their users in jail in unfathomable numbers. The response of many of us to abortion is to want to ban abortion and throw its practioners, both docs and mothers, into jail rather than providing abundant and reasonable family planning options.

And our response to Jack Kevorkian was to convict him and throw him in jail.

Jack Kevorkian was right. A decent society would overtly provide its humans the same courtesy it provides its pets, the option to comfortably take people out comfortably when it gets that horribly bad. How many docs today will put their jobs on the line by quietly pushing too much morphine for a patient who hurts so badly that he can’t see straight? It happens, like or not. All Kevorkian said was, let’s stop doing this under the table. Let’s do this honestly and stop pretending. What a no bullshit kind of guy.

The jokes, the calls to Alanis Morisette-level irony will be unavoidable. Hey, did you hear? Dr. Death died. Heh heh heh. Isn’t that ironic? Like rain on you wedding day!

But there’s no funny ha-ha and there’s no funny strange here. Jack Kevorkian had sensible ideas and went to prison to make those ideas real. He wasn’t wrong, and all he did was to bring a tacitly-practiced reality out of the shadows. Pardon me for over-reaching a little, but had his ideas and his methods caught on, had we been that progressive and awesome a society, Jack Kevorkian would have been remembered today with the likes of Rosa Parks and Mahatma Ghandi.

Instead, we are what we are, and he’s a punchline. Sad.

My Smile Is Stuck

From Barry Miles’ Zappa: A Biography:

Don Vliet (later known as Captain Beefheart) was in Frank’s year at AVHS, but they didn’t become friends until 1958, when Vliet saw Zappa hitch-hiking one day and gave him a lift. ‘I couldn’t help it,” said Vliet, ‘he looked so wobegone.’ They were almost the same age (Zappa was three weeks older) and shared musical tastes. It was a friendship of great mutual significance: Vliet gave Zappa innumerable ideas and Frank not only produced Beefheart’s greatest album Trout Mask Replica, but pretty much forced him to sing in the first place.

Don Vliet lived on Carolside Avenue, a short ride due south of Zappa’s place, in a virtually identical house. Mr and Mrs Vliet, known to everyone as Sue and Glen, shared the house with Don’s Uncle Alan and Aunt Ione. Unusually for the time, Don’s girlfriend Laurie lived in the house with him. Across the street lived his grandmother Anne Warfield, known as Granny Annie. Don’s father was a Helms bread man with a route that took him from Lancaster up to Rosemond and Mojave.

Don and Frank would get together after school, usually at Frank’s house, and they would listen to records for three or four hours. Then they would get something to eat and try to pick up girls in Vleit’s car—a powder-blue ’49 Oldsmobile with a clay werewolf head attached to the steering wheel. Having failed in this objective, they would go back to Don’s house and listen to more records: obscure Doo Wop cuts by the Spaniels, the Paragons, the Orchids, the Penguins or the great blues masters: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, Guitar Slim or Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown. They would eat pineapple buns and sweet rolls left over from Don’s father’s bread route and periodically Don would scream at his mother, ‘Sue! Get me a Pepsi!’ She would bustle in, dressed as always in a blue chenille bathrobe and slippers, to wait on her adored only child. Many years later Zappa used this refrain as the basis for his song ‘Why Doesn’t Somebody Get Him A Pepsi?’

Sometimes these record sessions would go on until 5 a.m. and they would skip school the next day. Zappa: ‘It was the only thing that seemed to matter at the time. We listened to those records so often we could sing the guitar leads. We’d quiz each other about how many records does tis guy have out, what was his last record, who wrote it, what is the record number.’

Today it was announced that Don Vliet, also known as Don Van Vliet and Captain Beefheart, died from complications of multiple sclerosis. He was 69.

White Port and Lemon Juice

I would be remiss this #Zappadan if I didn’t repost this gem from the masterful Daryl Hall:

I would be remiss for two reasons:

  1. Tom “T-Bone” Wolk, featured here on lead guitar, died in February. So it’s an “appreciation” as well as a “Zappadan” post.
  2. I’ve never had hits like how I had them on the day I posted this last year. People LURVE this cover, and with good reason. It is sublime.

Let’s roll the credits: The late great Tom “T-Bone” Wolk is on lead guitar. Zev Katz is on bass. Everett Bradley is on percussion. And Eliot Lewis is on the other guitar there. Visit livefromdarylshouse.com to pay homage.

Also, see the tribute show to Wolk here.

Elizabeth Edwards

I have just read the news that Elizabeth Edwards, estranged wife of Democratic scumbag John Edwards, has died. I could not help but emit a profoundly audible “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaoooooooooowwwwwwwwww!”

Elizabeth Edwards, what a trooper. What an incredible spirit. What a severely scorned woman.

John Edwards. What a scumbag. And he’s not a scumbag for banging someone else. He’s not a scumbag for banging someone else and fathering a child with that someone else. He’s not a scumbag for doing so while his wife’s body was rotting away with the cancer. Those things are pretty vile, sure.

No. John Edwards is a scumbag for doing all of this and knowing these things about himself all while running for President of the United States, and while using his ill wife Elizabeth as a prop in that campaign.

We thank the Holy Gravity* that the National Enquirer uncovered this story before Edwards clinched the nomination. He might have. We do have Edwards to thank for bringing a compassionately populist message to the campaign. But he’s and utter shit-head for running for Preznit knowing that he had fathered a love child. How he imagined in this post-Monigate America that it wouldn’t be found out is beyond me.

I’ll bet you a quarter that, in whatever fashion that a person dying of cancer can, that Elizabeth Edwards died plucky.

Bet she did.

*As a secular humanist, I am trying to work references to deities out of my vocabulary and to instead curse and praise the universal forces that actually have a bearing or influence on my life. Half the time I’m cussing, it’s gravity’s fault, isn’t it? Dropped my keys; makes no sense to curse “God” for that when what’s actually responsible is gravity. However, if it weren’t for gravity, I’d be floating into space and turned into dust at some point by the sun or some other star, so it makes sense to praise gravity as well, as we do linguistically tend to both curse and praise this “God” person.

Robert Byrd

Sure, he was kind of a mixed bag.

It’s true that he joined the Klan at age 24, that he filibustered against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that he was at one time in his life an unabashed racist, that as late as 2001 he was on the record as using a certain word that begins with the letter “n,” and that he also really liked to bring money home to West Virginia.

But he also castigated his colleagues for the dearth of real debate regarding the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of the sovereign nation of Iraq. He was an unstoppable critic of the previous administration and an utterly outspoken advocate for health care reform.

He was also, I think, evidence that even those Americans who succumb to this nation’s most base, most vile cultural instinct, that those who opt to hate or otherwise distinguish an entire group of people based on pigmentation and other physical features and the history represented thereby, even those folks, Byrd was evidence that even they can be redeemed.

Is the last of the old guard of liberals finally gone?

R.I.P. Jack Redux

KIAV transcript from this evening’s episode of Hardballs with Chris Matthews. Chris. Take it away.

Jack Murtha who died today was an American patriot. He quit college to join the Marines and fight in Korea. We were fighting the Communists, and he didn’t want to shirk his duty. He did the same thing as an officer, earning two Purple Hearts when America became involved in Vietnam. He bravely and single-mindedly carried on a family tradition of military life going back to the Civil War and the Revolution. And, for 37 years, Jack represented his western Pennsylvania district in the U.S. Congress. He was a close friend and supporter of my old boss, Speaker Tip O’Neill. He was a leader in standing up for the economic interests of our home state of Pennsylvania, and he was always there for the good fight, and he was so much fun to have around, in good times and bad. Jack Murtha was what Tip O’Neill liked to call a street-corner guy, someone who never lost touch with the people who elected him. He loved this country and looked out for its interests. He fought bravely in war and fought just as valiantly against a war in Iraq he believed was not in our country’s interest. Jack was old-school. Let’s see if the new-school types can match him in patriotism and looking out for their people and keeping this country great. For generations, he presided over the Pennsylvania corner in the House of Representatives, you could see him up there, surrounded by the members who looked up to him for leadership, for the inside word on what was coming legislatively and to carry out the gung-ho bread-and-butter American values he was brought up with. My prayers and good wishes are with his wife, Joyce, and the Murtha family, and the thousands of Jack Murtha fans in Johnstown, Altoona, and those hard-working communities out there in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I loved Jack Murtha. God bless him. U.S. Congressman Jack Murtha.

R.I.P. Jack

I have an uncle who is a die-hard, and I mean die-hard, active Republigoat in Jack Murtha’s district.

But he’d always put Murtha signs out. To the point that he had to tell his local party leaders to go to h-e-double-hockey-sticks when they gave him crap for it.

I think that says what needs said about Congressman John Patrick “Jack” Murtha, Jr., who died today. I think that said uncle identified with him as a fellow Marine and as a fellow bona fide Johnstown-area dude. I think he also knew that Murtha represented his district regardless of what capital consonant came after his name.

You’ll hear from Murtha’s detractors today, about ABSCAM, about some airport, they’ll say he was corrupt and what the hell ever else. But I know that Murtha only came up on my radar after he became a genuine military voice that called tons of shenanigans on Gorge Dubya Boosh’s Dirty Big War. I don’t care what else the man did or didn’t otherwise. He did that. His voice among a few others affected a real horizon change on Iraq. For that and for his service, Murtha was a true American hero.

God bless you, Congressman Murtha.

R.I.P. Bob Keane

A Zappadan Coincidence: Del-Fi Records Founder Bob Keane died Nov. 28. His death is pretty much just being reported today.

Keane, who is most noted for having discovered Richie Valens, is mentioned on the cover of “Freak Out.” He is credited for giving young Zappa a shot.

Out of the many artists that entered Keane’s life at that time was a young Frank Zappa. Even though in the early ’60s Zappa’s music was experimental, Keane “did not think he was taking a chance on releasing Zappa. If I liked it, I would put it out.” In particular, Keane is fond of the Zappa song from that era, “How’s Your Bird”. Unlike most acts at that time, Keane would lease masters directly from Zappa, who had already recorded them.

Keane was 87.