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Callwood at the Cooler #12

Protest is an obligation…

Just as I was putting the last column to bed, full of despair and fear, the people of this great nation turned me around. The women’s marches that happened, not just across the United States, but across the world, were nothing if not inspirational. Millions of people stood up and said, “Oh hell no. Nobody is grabbing anything, we’re not allowing years of progress to be stamped on, we will be heard.” It was fantastic, and oh so important. Make no mistake, this was a civil rights march. This was a demand to be taken seriously, and Trump heard it. Social media got ugly fast. You probably saw Trump’s supporters telling women to make a sandwich, get back in the kitchen, all of that crap. The world will always have assholes. Most disheartening is the fact that many of those people spouting that crap were women. It still stuns me that Trump won the white female vote in this country. I understand that there were many issues at stake, and plenty of people don’t like Hillary Clinton, but Jesus. It defies logic that a woman, and anyone, would defend this guy.

But still, I’m filled with hope after the women’s marches and that was solidified by the protests at airports after Trump implemented his cack-handed, anti-American Muslim ban. “Oh no,” cry the naysayers. “It’s not a Muslim ban, because he’s not banning people from all Muslim countries.” Well, as Hasan Minhaj The Daily Show so eloquently put it this week (and by the way, Minhaj is one of the shining lights in the show’s rather patchy new team), “If it’s not the Muslim ban, it’s certainly a Muslim ban.” Minhaj also pointed out the fact that, this week, white people were cheering as Muslims knelt in prayer en masse AT AN AIRPORT. That certainly is a miracle. So let’s give Trump some credit. Through his misogyny, Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, hate, bigotry, through all of it, he’s united much of the nation. The healing is happening right now, because Trump is so clearly rotten. It’s like when people gather to watch It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas. We all unite in our hatred of Mr. Potter, and it makes us feel warm. Trump is Potter, on a bigger scale. The need to control everything, the annoyance with what he doesn’t have, the sly wink when he tells Jimmy Stewart to “buy your wife a nice dress,” the contempt for the poor and needy—Trump is a gothic wheelchair and silent henchman away from going black-and-white.

What we know after this first two weeks is that people-power does achieve something. For the moment, Trump is the President and we can’t change that right now. Impeachment is always going to be a possibility with a man who is so impulsive, but we certainly can’t count on it. But this guy hates dissent. He hates when people rally against him. This is bothering the shit out of him, and that is very, very comforting. Keep going. Make his legacy four years of regular protests. After that, the only thing we’ll have to deal with is his smug mug on The Apprentice again, having all of the aspiring entrepreneurs forced to refer to him as Mr. President. Meh, there are other channels for a reason.

Bowie on top in Pazz + Jop…

I was very happy that David Bowie’s Blackstar album was voted the number one album of 2016 by the hundreds of music critics that vote in The Village Voice’s Pazz + Jop poll. It was my own personal number one of the year too, so beautiful and, in retrospect, heart-wrenching it is. Bowie was telling the story of his own demise, in real-time. And yes, if the great man hadn’t passed away last year, it would still have been the best album of the year. It wasn’t a sympathy vote. Other’s from my own top ten, like A Tribe Called Quest, Iggy Pop and Nick Cave, fared well. I still don’t understand how, out of all of those critics, I was the only one to vote for Anthrax. Dammit—that’s a great record.

Dollyrots back with a Whiplash Splash, and more…

The best album of 2017 so far has been The Dollyrots’ Whiplash Splash. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best band currently on the LA circuit—a husband-and-wife pairing (plus a drummer) that plays super-catchy, energetic, wild and raucous punk rock. The chemistry between Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas is tangible, and translates wonderfully to the stunning songs that they write. The band had taken time off while Ogden gave birth to the duo’s second child. Now they’re back and, if this record is any evidence, firing on all cylinders. They don’t reinvent the wheel, pop-punk colliding with uber-cool rock ’n’ roll swagger, but they make it shinier.

Hollywood jams and Orgies…

Out and about these past two weeks, I’ve found myself at the Whisky A Go-Go a couple of times. The first was for the weekly Hollywood Jam, which sees local musicians, many of whom have played with some of the best in the business, rotating on and off stage to run through familiar favorites. I went on “grunge night,” which meant impressive versions of songs by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and the like, by musicians that have played with everyone from Chaka Khan to hard rockers Little Caesar. The highlight was an appearance by Soundgarden man Chris Cornell’s solo band (minus Cornell himself) to run through some Soundgarden and Audioslave tunes. If you’re in town mid-week, the Hollywood jam is worth a look.

I was a few days later for electro-Goth band Orgy, a group that made it’s name at the tail end of the 1990s with a sound that critics said was part Marilyn Manson and part Korn, and therefore very of-the-time. In fact, the songs from that early Candyass record have dated well, and the band has some great, more recent material too. Of course, everyone was waiting for that cover of New Order’s “Blue Monday,” and frontman Jay Gordon obliged from the floor while letting the crowd sing most of the words. Here we are in 2017, and Orgy looks and sounds great.

“Callwood at the Cooler” is a new bi-weekly column which will see me waxing lyrical about events in the news, pop culture and the etc. Sometimes it’ll be light, other times not-so when the rant/monolog demands. The subject matter will vary dramatically so expect anything and keep coming back.

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