Thursday, October 25, 2012

Everyone supports our veterans...

...well, almost everyone, anyway.  Recent national polls show that 85% of Americans think it is more important to prevent cuts in veterans' benefits than it is to reduce the budget deficit - finally, something that a vast majority of Americans can agree on.  So why did 40 Senate Republicans block a bill that would have provided a billion dollars over five years to help veterans find jobs?

I won't try speculate on their motive (but I think I know what it is, and it has to do with the upcoming presidential election) but really, given the untold trillions that this nation has devoted to waging wars that required immense courage and sacrifice on the part of our brave members of the all volunteer armed forces, why would we balk at spending a billion bucks to help them transition into the civilian workforce when they return from war?  That's a rhetorical question because there in no rational answer that doesn't involve crass political cynicism and hypocrisy, traits that are unfortunately all too common among those politicians who put the interests of their financial benefactors ahead of the interest of the country in general and our veterans in particular.

I'm too angry about this to explain in any rational way just how wrong this whole situation is or why you should be as appalled as I am by the sheer duplicity of those who blocked the bill for their own political gain.  Happily for you, John Stewart has already made the case very effectively in his usual informative and entertaining way - so watch  this episode of "The Daily Show" and if you, after listening to the testimony of those two American heroes, are not as outraged as I am, well I guess you must be part of the 14% that John speaks of.

Please find out how your Senator voted on this bill, and if he/she was one of the 40 who blocked its passage, then I hope you will take this into account when casting your vote because if they oppose a cause that is supported by 85% of Americans whose interests are they serving?

And if you vote for any of those clowns you really need to get that "I support our troops" bumper sticker off your car.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Garage Rock

Up until recently what I knew about  "garage rock" as a music genre was pretty much limited to one song : "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen.  That has all changed for one simple reason - I listen to Bill Audette's "The Night Train Show" which airs on WMPG, Southern Maine Community Radio (90.9 FM/ every Saturday from 1:30 to 3:00pm (Eastern).

Bill describes his show as presenting the history of rock and roll and it does just that.  When you listen to TNTS every Saturday you not only hear some great music, you also get the story behind the songs and learn interesting trivia about the artists who perform them.  Bill's knowledge about rock history is literally encyclopedic and he shares it with his listeners in a way that is totally entertaining, interesting and educational to boot!

I frequently make requests for particular songs by going to  and clicking on the "request line" button - but here's the thing, I usually don't just request any old song that I want to hear, although if I did I'm sure he would play it. Instead, I check the TNTS website to see what theme Bill is featuring each week and try to request a song consistent with his theme, because if Bill is featuring "Doo-Wop" I think it would be rude to request an "acid rock" song.  Sometimes I try to learn a little about the genre before choosing a song by doing a little googling - this had produced requests for some long forgotten or even unknown (to me) songs that I really liked. 

WMPG recently held its Fall Begathon, the semi-annual fund-raising effort the station conducts to solicit donations from its listeners to raise funds to cover operating costs.  I donated as generously as I could and I dedicated enough of my pledge to the TNTS to earn me the privilege of choosing a theme for a whole show.  I'm not sure why "Louie, Louie" was in my head but it started me thinking about "garage rock" as a theme for "my" show, so I typed the phrase into the search box and hit enter - it turns out there's more than enough really good music in the category to fill a 90 minute show so I decided that would be my theme.

I emailed Bill with just the two words: "Garage Rock" and asked him to turn it into a theme and he promised it would be an awesome show - and was it ever!  Bill played musical selections from a variety of garage bands, including some local ones, that covered the whole gamut of the genre - but you know what - he never played "Louie, Louie"!  Now I could have requested it and I'm certain he would have included it in the show, but I didn't want to disturb his creative juices in any way because when it comes to producing an awesome show it's impossible to improve on what he does on his own.  I'm not complaining about the omission because if he had played that song he would have had to omit something else, and I would not have wanted to miss anything he played!

But just to satisfy my own selfish need to hear the Kingsmen, here they are:

After you've listened to the song, go to Garage Rock for Steve and get a 90 minute lesson on Garage Rock from the Professor of the history of rock 'n roll - I promise it will be the most enjoyable class you ever took!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The second 2012 Presidential Debate is on...

...but I'm not watching.  I didn't watch the first one, either, because honestly, nothing either one of the candidates says is going to change my mind about who to vote for - in fact, I have already voted! - so the only thing I could get out of watching the debate is aggravation, and I already have enough of that.

So here's my alternate plan to watching the 90 minutes of  the all-network coverage of Barack and Mitt exchanging barbs and lies:  I'm going to pour a glass of bourbon, dial up Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Radio on the internet machine and go to "One Particular Harbor".  Why don't you join me?  You already know who you will vote for and Jon Stewart will tell you all you need to know about the debate on "The Daily Show" tomorrow night. 

You can find Margaritaville Radio with Google and here's Jimmy to tell you what to expect when you get there. 

Now doesn't that sound  like a better place to spend your evening than in front of the TV watching two men talking in sound bites while they try to convince you that the opponent's policies are the path to ruination and destruction?  You won't need a passport and I promise when you get to Margaritaville no one will ask to "see your papers".

But seriously, please do not vote for Romney because the only "one particular harbor" he cares about is the one that will provide a safe haven for the $Billions that his cronies want to hide from the tax collector. If he says anything different during the debate, he is lying.

I'm Dirigonzo, and I approved this message.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Birth of Rock 'n Roll

Rock 'n Roll is a music form that is uniquely American - it originated in the U.S. in the post-World War II era during the late 1940s and 1950s as an eclectic mix of Blues, Swing, Jazz, Country, Gospel, R&B and whatever else was being played that had an upbeat tempo and a persuasive back beat.  The music that we now call rock 'n roll was in fact around for a long time before the name was even coined to describe the genre that was the product of mixing and blending of all of those diverse musical forms, it just went by a variety of names.

I'm telling you this because my old friend Bill Audette, the original old-time rock 'n roll rebel who rocks the airwaves every Saturday afternoon from 1:30 to 3:00  on WMPG, southern Maine Community Radio (90.9FM/ with the Night Train Show went above and beyond the call of duty this past Saturday with a two hour special, following his regular show, in which he showcased the music  from the very early years of rock 'n roll - the Birth of R&R, as he titled the show.

As he does with all of his shows, Bill uploaded the show to his website,, so his fans (like me) can listen at their convenience. I'm still listening to it for the first time but I plan on listening many more times because it's that good! In fact it's too good to keep to myself and that's why I want to share it with you so you can listen, too, and enjoy some of the raucous, raunchy,  rollicking, sometimes racy but always entertaining sounds that became what we call "rock 'n roll", and that artists today are still covering, emulating, copying and trying to make their own.

So go here billsnighttrain presents the history of R&R to download the two one-hour segments, kick back and relax, and prepare to enjoy two hours of the best early rock 'n roll you ever heard.  If you love real rock 'n roll I promise this will make you love it even more.

If you like what you hear - and I guarantee you will - drop Bill an email to tell him so and thank him for all he does to keep the spirit of old-time rock alive and well on the airwaves.  Better yet, send a few bucks to WMPG ( - click on the "Donate" button) to help them stay on the air and provide a microphone for Bill to continue to tell the story of the history of rock 'n roll.

Tell them Dirigonzo sent you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Night Sky in October

It's a brand new month (although I'm still not sure why the last month seemed to go so fast) so all you star-gazers out there need to know what to look for in the night sky in October.  It could prove to be a pretty exciting time if you are a fan of "shooting stars" (and who isn't?)

There are two - count 'em, two! - meteor showers to enjoy this month.  The Draconid meteor shower peaks on October 7, although it's only expected to produce about 5 shooting stars per hour.  The Orionid meteor shower, which peaks on the morning of October 22, is caused by Halley's Comet and promises about 20 visible meteors per hour. 

The full moon in October is called the Hunter's Moon (you can imagine why) and it occurs on the 29th, just in time to put an exclamation point on the end of an exciting month for night sky watchers like me. 

Why don't you join me out on the deck to enjoy nature's wonders - we can drink a toast to Whoever/whatever created such a wondrous universe.  Dress warm.

Maybe some Bad Company singing "Shooting Star" will help you get in the mood: