Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Psychedelic Furs: Pretty in Pink (Live)

I am not sure if it is lamenting how awesome pop rock used to be, or how extreme the mullets in this video are, but this video makes for some worthy viewing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Original vs. Cover: I Have Not Been To Oxford Town

The werewolf has been on serious a serious David Bowie kick the past few months. Still, this competition between the Zoe Poledouris (daughter of Basil Poledouris, who composed the life-changing and epic scores from Conan: The Barbarian and The Hunt For Red October) vs. David Bowie is closer than it should be. In fact, the jury is hung on this end. Bowie classifies as Baron of the Bad-ass in the current rock n' roll pantheon. However, Zoe's voice is soothing, sultry and sexy. They are very close in rhythm and style, which confuses things a tad and hurts Zoe's cause. Also, it should be noted that Zoe's version was featured in the heinous cinematic translation of Starship Troopers, the classic Robert Heinlein novel.

David Bowie (Live)

Zoe Poledouris (Studio)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

White Wedding Looming

The Ahab of all bridezillas will be married this weekend in central Virginia. The werewolf accepted the invitation and will be driving down to view what is sure to be a spectacle of failed expectations, tortured over-planning and a strung-out groom and bridesmaids. The werewolf has been accosted by the bride-to-be on Facebook and via text messages reminding him of the event he has already RSVP'd to. Crazy is a gentle term for this gal. Anyhow, he is looking forward to catching up with several business school chums who will also be attending this tribute to madness. While it has been a rather heinous and in-glamorous year for the werewolf, he hopes his friends and colleagues will have sweeter tales of happiness and success to share.

The werewolf has been known to be an agent provocateur at times. The off-kilter nature of this friendly bridezilla has inspired him to come-up with the some sort of sincere back-handed compliment that will simultaneously flatter and confuse her about the wedding she tortured herself over. Sinister and slightly sadistic, perhaps. However, the anticipated flummoxed look on her face and her inability to make sense of it may make the whole exercise worthwhile. I hope I am not as evil as that sounds. Should you have any experience in this realm, please advise, as I am open to suggestions for the perfect delivery.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chess: Nobody's Side (Elaine Paige)

Chess is the werewolf's favorite rock opera. He wrote how influential it was during his formative years last winter. Elaine Paige has an incredible voice, yet her hair in the video could be the subject of a serious essay. Some things are inexcusable. The archaic graphics are signature 80s in a pleasant way.

Some powerful and honest lyrics. They will not fail you.

Everybody's playing the game
But nobody's rules are the same
Nobody's on nobody's side
Better learn to go it alone
Recognize you're out on your own
Nobody's on nobody's side

Indiana Jones: Sword vs. Gun

Profound in its brevity.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Embrace the Dark Spirits! ASAP.

Although he loves a stiff drink, or five, the werewolf doesn't like vodka. He never has. The only only time he'll be caught drinking vodka is a Bloody Mary at brunch or when he mixes his own Stoli Doli's, but then again, that is just to confirm that the taste is correct. Beyond that he has run contrary to trends, and with the exception of gin in the spring and summer, the werewolf steers clear of clear liquors for the most part. Of course he keeps some on hand for his guests, as the number one rule of a good host is to offer your guests a good drink. However, the werewolf has no problem finding the bottom of good bottle of dark rum, whiskey, or bourbon. Gosling or Meyers dark rum, Jack Daniels and Blanton's are all necessities for the werewolf's sustenance. The Al Dente culinary blog, over at Amazon, has an excellent post about the taming of the irrational skepticism of dark spirits. It couldn't have come soon enough. For the werewolf has embraced dark spirits and the perfect cocktails they make long ago.

From the blog, below find recipe (along with some random facts)  for the ASAP. It looks perfect for a spring/summer day which are beginning to become the norm here in DC.

ASAP “This drink is first-rate and ready as soon as you want it to be”
Ingredients:1 1/2 ounces dark rum
1/2 ounce Falernum
1/2 ounce Tuaca
1/2 ounce fresh pineapple juice
Chilled ginger ale
Lime slice for garnish
Directions:1. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the rum, Falernum, Tuaca, and pineapple juice. Stir, but only twice.
2. Top the glass off with ginger ale. Stir once more. Garnish with the lime slice.
A Note: Falernum is a flavored syrup (think lime, with a bit of ginger and other accents) that sometimes has an alcohol content and sometimes doesn’t. Either version works here--check online if you’re having issues tracking it down in your local liquor or specialty food store.
A Second Note: Tuaca is an Italian liqueur that has hints of citrus and vanilla. The legend goes that it was created by Florentine Renaissance mover-and-shaker Lorenzo de' Medici. Tuaca became popular in the United States in the 1950s, after World War II servicement who had been stationed in Italy started asking for it as American bars.

Dear me. Alas. By Jove! A bloody Ghurka.

The Man Who Would Be King is perhaps one Kipling's most timeless tales. Adventure, greed, honor, hubris, aspiration, delusions of grandeur, exotic lands, frontiers, loyalty, empire, and courage are themes central to this remarkable tale. Translated beautifully onto the big screen by John Huston in 1975, it is one of the werewolf's favorite films. Plus, the chemistry between Connery and Caine only add to the power behind this magical and captivating film.

Watching it on VHS as a little boy, The Man Who Would Be King was a young werewolf's introduction to the legendary Gurkha of British Imperial fame. The concept of being a loyal soldier and obedient steward to a people not of your own nationality was alien to the werewolf, but the Ghurkas, along with the Swiss Guards at the Vatican are perhaps the greatest examples of non-mercenary soldiers becoming legandary attachments to the military lore of a land that is not their own. Billy Fish is the greatest cinematic example of the Ghurka captured by Hollywood. The werewolf has often wondered why these legendary Nepalese fighting men have been given short shrift given the lore and legacy that surrounds their contributions to the British Empire. Billy Fish, seen above, along with his beautifully constructed Gurkha English and his unwaveringly optimistic disposition have captured the imagination of the werewolf for over two-decades.

Billy Fish is also one of the werewolf's fictional men of honor. If you watch the clip below, (you'll have to get to about 3:46 for the scene), Billy Fish is given the chance to escape with some gold, and instead volunteers to go down fighting, despite the cause being lost. The sequence around his death is worthy of Tennyson. Even facing certain death, he optimistically wishes his commanders "many good lucks."

Kick-Ass: Unsuspectingly kicks some serious ass

Kick-Ass is simply one of the most gratifying cinematic experiences the werewolf has recently encountered. When he bought the ticket, he expected some C-grade shlock that would be remotely amusing and entertaining at times and help kill a portion of his weekend. From beginning to end the film is surprisingly captivating, thoughtful, shocking and human. At times it beautifully captures the awkward sexual tension and pubescent hormones of high school that have previously made teen comedy's like Superbad and American Pie  part of current pop culture and uncomfortably amusing in the most candid of ways. While being incredibly lewd, crude and rude at time, it has the ability to magically transition into a dark crime thriller with morally ambiguous overtones, while playing on twisted views of pain, justice, vengeance and doing right while being humanely insecure and barely competent. A reviewer wasn't too far-off when  he referred to it as Tarantino-esque at times. The werewolf would throw in a dose of John Woo for good measure. Never has the werewolf seen a film that went from being enjoyably un-serious to shockingly brutal and heavy in the blink of an eye, and managed to make the transitions smooth as silk. The film has too many layers to adequately cover in this review, yet the werewolf wants to give a paw-pump to the best part of the was watching the 11 year-old Chloe Moretz break some sort of cinematic barrier as she is the real show stealer. There is something new and jaw-dropping about watching some girl barely out of the 6th grade referring to a bunch of heroine pushers as "cunts" before ruthlessly and brutally dispatching each of them, while using curse words with a poetic edge the worthy of Richard Pryor. Cute, charming, shocking, jarring and unforgettable. Regardless of what kind of film you prefer, Kick-Ass is a real genre bender that will quickly develop a much deserved cult following, if not actually breaking into the ranks of the mainstream on some levels.

This film is not for the faint-of-heart or weak of stomach as it features several sequences of graphic violence, drug use, foul language, sex, masturbation, torture and even our little 11 year-old heroine getting brutalized.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Original vs. Cover: Come on Eileen. Dexy's Midnight Runners vs. Save Ferris

"Come on Eileen" is one of those pleasant lighthearted songs that frequently gets a bunch of drunks at the bar  singing along even though nobody knows any the words other than "Come on Eileen." Naturally, this makes a great karaoke song. The werewolf has a fond memory of being on the stage at Lonnie's doing a duet with his dear friend, Patrick Bateman, and being stunned by Bateman's -whose over 6ft tall- ability to incorporate a limbo move of extraordinary difficulty while both intoxicated and singing. Random, I know.

The werewolf doesn't know anything about Dexy's Midnight Runners beyond this song. However, the cover, by the ska band Save Ferris - named after the legendary campaign in Ferris Bueller's Day Off - is one of the most vibrant and satisfyingly energetic songs out there. The werewolf sometimes struggles with where his ultimate musical allegiance rests. He grew up in the 80s, loves the cheese-dick synthesized sound of that era, and has all of his first memories to the music of 80s one hit wonders on the radio. In many ways, being an 80s geek is a hobby for the werewolf. However, the werewolf was becoming more self-aware and coming of age during the ascension of ska. His inner rebel always loved the shameless juvenile prankster and carefree punk that embedded in the DNA of ska. Tough call. That being said, and despite fancying himself a purist, there is no contest between original vs. cover in this instance. Save Ferris and the ska punksters manage to take a great song and make it better. No question. See for yourself.

Here's the original version by Dexy's Midnight Runners.

Here is the Save Ferris Version.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

David Cameron: We can’t just snap our fingers and fix Britain

What takes 18 months of non-stop media broadsides and bombardment in the United States, usually takes about 18 days in the United Kingdom. Although being a political junkie himself, even the constant campaign mentality and disingenuous partisan overdose forced into our veins wears thin on the werewolf at the end of each presidential election cycle. In a perfect world (no such thing), the werewolf would like to think that the long-in-the-tooth American approach, and the short-and-stumpy British approach to elections could meet somewhere in the middle. A cycle where debates are thorough and genuine, convincing and persuasion of the electorate meaningful, and the urgency of the pending deadline is felt driving appropriately calculating decision. Wishful thinking indeed.

Anyhow, David Cameron, the conservative leader, is set to be the likely replacement for the frumpy, stodgy, and uninspired socialist blob that is Gordon Brown, has penned a decent  "why elect me" piece in the Times of London. While the werewolf prefers David Cameron, he finds Cameron's wishy-washyness on issues like global warming, his bizarre social posturing, and lust for media attention at rate that should even make a politician blush, all legitimate points of concern. However, the U.K. is ripe for a course correction.  All politicians are full of shit to some degree. After this country foolishly swooned over a rotten crock of "hope and change," Cameron's article for all of it's pro forma political bull, has a few decent and worthy sections to it that even impressed the werewolf, oh so slightly.

"So the manifesto we are publishing today is a comprehensive and cohesive plan to change Britain for the better. It will change Westminster and Whitehall for ever. It is a blueprint for reform that is rich in policy but rooted in a core idea of replacing state control with social responsibility.
But it is not a traditional manifesto. We are not saying that we will solve all your problems and, with a snap of the fingers, create a better Britain out of thin air. Because I don’t believe it is in the power of politicians to do this. And in truth, all those phoney pledges and simplistic promises have contributed to voters’ cynicism when it comes to politics."
The people of the United Kingdom have a stark choice ahead. Let's hope they don't screw the pooch as badly as we did in the fall of 2008.

Those damn taxes

The werewolf just filed his 2009 Tax return electronically. Here's a paw-pump for the idiot proof easiness of TurboTax on-line. Here's to lifting his leg and voiding his bladder all over the byzantine and regressive U.S. Tax code. What a brutal and skewed monstrosity. We deserve better, but tragically we'll never get anything commonsensical or equitable from the government when it comes to the income tax code. In fact, the werewolf suspects that this country will have to lube-up and grab it's ankles if an VAT is as real as some suggest.

I am sure you all are going through the some bullshit tax preparation. Good luck and godspeed.  Few things are as soothing as a cold beer or  glass of wine on the flip-side.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The werewolf unmasked.

The werewolf has been semi-inspired by his blog friend and goddess of snark, Legally Fabulous, to give his readers a better idea of who he is, so they don't confuse him with Sean Connery. (He's not nearly that cool or badastic anyways, and he knows he never will be) Plus, in the near-to-mid future, he hopes to start getting more into writing about men's style and how he presents himself to the world so the mask was bound to come off at some point.

Casino Night during his second year at business school. This is the werewolf at his best.

On the at stage at Lonnie's West End.

The werewolf has karaoked in a tux...

Halloween is his favorite. Hail to the King.

At the top of Lion's Head, Cape Town.

The werewolf was drinking Pina Coladas at Trader Vic's, and his hair was...

Original vs. Cover: Save it for Later. The English Beat - Harvey Danger - Pete Townshend

It is a such a beautiful Sunday afternoon here in DC, and the werewolf's acute and chronic self-diagnosed ADD has kicked it. Yet again, he finds himself surfing the endless nothingness that is Youtube for inspiration and meaningless edification.

Being the obscure music junkie that he is, he has often enjoyed comparing and contrasting originals versus covers of some of his favorite songs.  

The English Beat's retro-classic "Save for it Later" is truly an iconic song of the early 80s, at least in the werewolf's skewed opinion. A new video embedding feature has allowed the werewolf to post multiple videos in a single post competently.

Although a purist in most cases, with a built-in bias towards the original, there are a few exceptions where the werewolf can find more or equal virtue in the cover/tribute/re-imaged version of a song. Although in this instance, he still prefers the original version by The English Beat. It should be noted that Harvey Danger  and Pete Townshend put forth worthy and credible covers that both merit a paw pump. The werewolf would love to hear your thoughts.

Here's the original music video from The English Beat. It's a fun video to boot.

Here's the Harvey Danger cover set to scenes from 200 Cigarettes were it was first featured. Fun, solid, yet a tad sophomoric.

Here's the legendary Pete Townshend chiming in with his tribute. It's awesome, especially in the context of a rock titan like Townshend, offering a take on song that is younger than he he is by a few decades, and is also relatively obscure compared to the fame and fortune his career generated.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bond: Man Talk

Timeless scene from Goldfinger. Gone are the days.

Ahoy, Bruce Campbell

The werewolf somehow missed this nifty ad campaign back in the in day. It certainly ranks close to the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" campaign in a mockingly cool kinda way. It's cheeky and cheesy awesomeness are self-evident. Woof!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Postcard from Zimbawe: Meet the new boss, much worse than the old boss

The werewolf has been amused by the New York Times’s rather stark descent from grace, massive loss of credibility, and reliable display of liberal hypocrisy. Occasionally, he find himself glimpsing through the digital pages to see what’s up, but abandoned the New York Times long-ago for the more thorough and journalistically rigid pages found at the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and The Times of London. The print version of The New York Times could conceivably be useful should toilet paper run out.

That being said, the werewolf has a love-hate relationship with Nick Kristof, one of the liberal bloviators who regularly scribbles for the NY Times. The werewolf and Kristoff share a deep love and passion for Zimbabwe. That’s the only overlap on the Venn diagram of similar interests and beliefs on the world. Kristof has penned a honest and penetrating assessment of modern day Zimbabwe tilted “Postcard from Zimbabwe.” Here are some potent highlights that speak for themselves

"In a week of surreptitious reporting here (committing journalism can be a criminal offense in Zimbabwe), ordinary people said time and again that life had been better under the old, racist, white regime of what was then called Rhodesia.

“When the country changed from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, we were very excited,” one man, Kizita, told me in a village of mud-walled huts near this town in western Zimbabwe. “But we didn’t realize the ones we chased away were better and the ones we put in power would oppress us.

“It would have been better if whites had continued to rule because the money would have continued to come,” added a neighbor, a 58-year-old farmer named Isaac. “It was better under Rhodesia. Then we could get jobs. Things were cheaper in stores. Now we have no money, no food.”

Over and over, I cringed as I heard Africans wax nostalgic about a nasty, oppressive regime run by a tiny white elite. Black Zimbabweans responded that at least that regime was more competent than today’s nasty, oppressive regime run by the tiny black elite that surrounds Mr. Mugabe."
Western liberals have focused substantial energy on decrying and challenging the moral legitimacy of white minority rule. There was nothing wrong with per say. Challenging racism is noble, except that these liberals usually turned a blind-eye to the far greater cruelty and abuse that became the norm for so many post-colonial and majority-run African nations. Institutional race-based supremacy and legal segregation are ugly and unjust things that offend the werewolf to his very core. The werewolf is not endorsing the restoration of white minority regimes (although as noted by Kristof, those suffering would welcome their restoration). However, they pale in comparison to the genocide, ethnic cleansing, violent tribalism, and economic crimes committed throughout large swaths of post-colonial Africa. Kristof, is taking an important first step in acknowledging that dichotomy and one of the awful legacies of liberal racism and double-standards when it came to advocating for Africa. Good for him.

The Darkness: Knockers

The Darkness, you may recall, briefly topped the charts about a decade ago, with their catchy one-hit-wonder featuring the lead singer's unreal falsetto, "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." In honor of yesterday's high-beam incident, the werewolf's predictable eternally juvenile side thought this song, about a well-endowed woman, was somehow fitting.

Funny Friday: Stripes - Basic English

Musings, high-beams, and bushy eyebrows.

Today was one of those days that went by quickly with no good reason. It wasn't too busy, it wasn't too slow. What one would assume to be an near ideal pace, methinks. Where morning arrival, lunch, afternoon tea (yes, the werewolf makes himself a Lipton's black tea around 3pm; it's rude to mock what you don't understand), and quitting time were all reasonably spaced and the lull in between never asserted itself in an ugly way.  

Although, he works in a building that is directly across the street for the Capitol South metro stop, on the House-side of the Hill, the werewolf is loathe to ride the metro out of his way when he can walk. He normally uses the Union Station metro stop, which is on the Senate-side of Capitol Hill as his preferred stop on the metro. This means he is guaranteed a nice walk across Capitol, with full vistas of the Supreme Court, the Capitol Building, Library of Congress, and House and Senate office buildings. It is a walk that never gets old. The people watching is a regular spectacle unto itself to boot. Staffers with inflated egos, some with style, others hopelessly drab specimens of humanity. Young interns, old functionaries and party hacks, throngs of tourists,students, all make for added accents.

Today, there was an added distraction to the regular fray. An athletic looking female, about the same height as the werewolf, 5'9, red-headed, with a body toned to near-perfection - not overly muscular, although her stomach was as flat as the deck of an aircraft carrier, with marginal, if any flab elsewhere- was out for a late afternoon jog. True to her athletic disposition, she wore only a sleek black racer-back sports bra, running shorts, shoes, and a sweat band. Here's where things got interesting. Her breasts, smallish, yet perfectly formed C-cups, were bouncing with a rhythmic purpose that matched her cadence in the most seductive of ways. As she closed in on the werewolf and the distance allowed for details to be determined, he noticed she had very pronounced high-beams set on near blinding brightness. (For those of you that do not speak "man-talk," high-beams refer to a woman's erect nipple that is visible through her clothing.) Like two beacons begging for attention, the werewolf's radar locked on these two targets like heat-seeking missile onto the exhaust of a jet-engine. As she crested it past him, his head shamelessly turned his head and he strained his neck muscles to admire this passing siren, and then THWACK! The werewolf, being a total asshole and buffoon, knocked the wind out of himself by walking directly into a parking meter. He missed nailing his jewels narrowly.  As the werewolf yelped and colorfully cursed at the parking meter, a fellow pedestrian rightfully chuckled at the werewolf's expense. After rescanning the area, the ginger-siren had drifted off screen. That sort of sums up how good things have been ending for the werewolf for the past few years.

While at the gym, the werewolf encountered an oddity of a new order. A rotund, pear-shaped older man - who liked like a dorky, civil-servant cross between the uber-dweeb introvert Milton Wadams from Office Space, and Thufir Hawit from Dune - had finished his workout and was grooming himself. Although balding, the man had the bushiest most pronounced eyebrows the werewolf had ever seen on a human. They looked almost like little flattened squirrel tails or something. They were so absurdly bushy and pronounced that the man was actually blow-drying his eyebrows. He had a little comb to brush the moisture out while he was blow-drying them. It was unreal and the strangest thing the werewolf has seen in several weeks. The werewolf was paralyzed by this scene unfolding in-front of him for about 3 seconds, do to the level of bizarreness it encapsulated. 

Exile still sucks, but today had some cosmic humor injected into it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Genesis: I Can't Dance (live)

Phil Collins and Genesis are just fucking awesome. The werewolf can't emphasize that enough. Seeing them live before he dies –more realistically before they all croak, but who knows what tomorrow will bring– is a serious component of his ever growing bucket list. Anyhow, this appropriately self-deprecating song seems so fitting at the moment. Phil Collins has that classic presence where he is able to properly self-parody, while maintaining his classic rock-star cool. It’s a gift.

As has been mentioned, the werewolf’s tour of duty in Nashville turned him into a bit of karaoke fool at the legendary Lonnie’s Western Room. There are few things the werewolf would embrace with pure alacrity more than an encore tour of Nashville and all of his old haunts. Although he developed a deep repertoire of songs he was willing to desecrate on that small stage, three go-to songs emerged and become synonymous with what to expect during a night of appropriate drinking, honky tonkin’ and karaoking. Beyond being a perennial favorite of the werewolf, “I Can’t Dance” has the dubious honor of being on that list. Watching it done right by Phil Collins and the maestros of Genesis always brings a smile to werewolf’s haggard face.

Bond, Fan Art, and Natural Talent

The rather nifty illustration of Connery era Bond imagery featured above is the handy work of an artist named Lloyd Peek. It was posted on this blog with permission from Mr. Peek and he can be contacted at if you have any inquiries about other Bond illustrations. The werewolf has never meet Mr. Peek and knows very little about him, other than he and the werewolf share a deep interest and affection for virtually all things Bond. Peek contacted he werewolf via this blog's stated interest in Bond over several different posts. The piece itself does a wonderful job giving a truncated illustration of the Connery Bond era from Dr. No (1962) through Diamonds are Forever (1971). (The werewolf has excised all recollection of Never Say Never Again, as it was produced and distributed on account of cosmic villainy) In the bottom right hand corner we have the first real Bond babe Honey Ryder emerging from the surf of the Caribbean with a conch shell in hand not unlike the mythical live goddess Venus emerging on from the Mediterranean on seashells. In the top left, we have the ironically mysterious and timeless image of Bond arch-nemesis, Erst Stravro Blofeld, sitting in the beige Mandarin-style suit with his sinister white lap cat.  In between, we have the timeless Austin Martin DB5 (arguably the coolest car ever), the lethal-mute butler Odd Job, Willard White's "White House" Vegas Hotel, amongst others images. Although it's not the werewolf's preferred artwork, it's certainly cool and catchy, especially if you're a Bond fan.

This brings the werewolf to a second point about talent. The werewolf has always been impressed with those who have a talent that manifests itself obviously and are able to harness that talent to effective end. Some people are athletes, others artists, musicians, writers, social networking, handymen, or cooks to name a few avenues that talent can be realized. The curtains are drawing to a close on the werewolf's third decade, and he has yet to figure out his talent/niche. Perhaps, there is a talent in being talentless. Having a talent or skill that the werewolf is truly exceptional at still eludes him. It's not that he is looking hard, he isn't. Nor does he need validation. He has made it this far and is very comfortable in his own skin. It's just he wonders if he missing out on anything life offers considering the absence of any obvious talents to bring to the table. His darkly Darwinian side wonders if his lack of a talent is the source of his preference for solitude and speaks to his primordial instinct to be wary and skeptical of commitment(on the flip-side he places an extraordinarily high premium on things he is committed to because he knows and values his word and the notion of commitment unlike most others in society). The werewolf is a lone wolf at heart. As he watches so many contemporaries shackle themselves in the bonds of marriage for all the wrong reason, such as fear of being alone, societal validation or some other imagined social pressure, perhaps finding solace in solitude is a talent unto itself.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blood letting in the "Rainbow Nation"

Eugene Terreblance, South Africa's vile neo-fascist and white supremacist made famous by his fringe political activity and theatrical antics as the leader of the separatist AWB (Afrikaner Resistance League), was murdered on his farm last week. While he won't be missed by any stretch of the imagination, his murder seems to have been racially motivated and it jolted South Africa into acknowledging the growing trend of race based violence against white farmers. Since this conflict of whites being victimized by blacks doesn't play to the traditional notion of victim and perpetrator in the liberal paradigm, this awful and tragic trend hasn't been getting the attention it merits. Despite the legacy of institutional segregation that benefited South Africa's native white minority during the second half of the 20th century, some of the challenges for South African society moving forwarding include avoiding the Zimbabwe effect of deliberately destroying civic institutions, eroding democratic standards, ethnically cleansing whites; while also continuing to foster a civil-society that values all racial and ethnic groups, but realizes how precarious the situation can be for the key minorities. Post-colonial Africa seems to have it out for minority groups. One need look no farther than Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria to name a few places. Since South Africa transitioned into majority rule in 1994, over 3,000 white farmers have been murdered by blacks. There are other internal crime statistics that are alarming, and it is no secret that South Africa has a plethora of issues it needs to tend to to continue to break the norm and survive as a non-basket case African nation, yet given the extreme sensibilities, the economic repercussions, and the tragic cycle of violence that has claimed so many other African societies, Jacob Zuma and the ANC need to step up and lock horns with this problem.

Some of the best analysis and  insight on the matter can be found here at an excellent blog called Cauthen's Commentary. (Full disclosure, the werewolf was a student of Cauthen's during his undergraduate years at Emory University) Here is a great excerpt offering in-depth analysis of the issue and how music has played a role in the ethnic violence.
"The death of Eugene Terreblanche has trained the world’s attention on the state of race relations in the so-called “Rainbow Nation” of South Africa as well as on a recent ruling of that country’s high court in Johannesburg. Terreblanche – founder of the neo-fascist and khaki-clad paramilitary organization, the Afrikaner Resistance League (known by its Afrikaans acronym, the AWB) – was until recently perhaps South Africa’s most vociferous and violent white separatist who agitated for a racially-exclusive homeland for the Afrikaner ethnic minority. Yet, the news reports of the past few days have focused less on his notorious career and more on his being the latest statistic; indeed, according to the BBC, more than three thousand white farmers have been killed since the inauguration of the new, multiracial South Africa in 1994. Although Terreblanche’s murder does not seem to be politically motivated, but, rather the action of disgruntled farm workers who claim that he cheated them, some of his cohorts in the AWB insist that his demise was the inevitable result of an anti-apartheid anthem and its repetitive lyric of “shoot the Boer.” The historic and controversial ditty had been recently revived and appropriated as a theme song of sorts by the fiery president of the ANC Youth League Julius Malema.  And, after Malema belted out the song at a political rally last month a high court judge, who is white, ruled that its lyrics were unconstitutional as they incited violence against whites and cautioned Malema against any further performances. The ruling ANC was quite dismayed over the verdict as it regards the song as cultural icon of the liberation struggle and sought to have the judge’s decision reversed in a higher court.
Although to some the claim that Terreblanche’s murder was incited by the song may appear far-fetched, in ethnically-riven societies, the catalytic agency of chauvinistic and provocative music to foment individual and collective acts of violence cannot be underestimated. In the lead-up to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the Hutu Power regime regularly broadcast songs on the radio which dehumanized the Tutses and justified their extermination. In this regard, I am particularly reminded of a song by Hutu pop composer Simon Bikindi with a similarly repetitive lyric – that of “I hate these Hutus.” In it, Bikindi was not slamming the rival Tutsi but those fellow Hutus whom he regarded as not being sufficiently anti-Tutsi. And, of course, large numbers of moderate Hutus were murdered alongside the Tutses by hard-line Hutus. Bikindi was ultimately indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on the grounds that he utilized his music to incite genocide – although he was eventually convicted on a different charge."

RIP: The Last Hour of Brooks Brothers in Downtown Los Angeles

Although long and permanently estranged from his hometown of Los Angeles, the werewolf was slightly saddened to read this pensive and reflective obituary of the Brooks Brothers flagship in downtown Los Angeles.

The werewolf knew this particular Brooks Brothers rather well. It will always have a special place in his black heart. It was late during the summer of 1999, a few weeks before the werewolf was set to return to New Hampshire to wrap up his senior year of high school, that he was first formerly introduced to this branch of classic men's clothing retailer. The werewolf's father invited him downtown for lunch at the grill room in the esteemed Jonathan Club (a classic Los Angeles social club that despite a fading reputation and growing detachment from the old-world ethos that made it so worthy, remains one of the greatest places on earth and a perennial favorite of the werewolf's). The werewolf's devotion, affection, and nostalgia for the "J Club" merit a post unto itself one of these days. It also reflected a cherished time of naive innocence and blissful optimism prior to werewolf's estrangement from his family and the jading effect that life's hurdles and frustrations permanently impress upon us took root.

Prior to his retirement, the werewolf's father worked on the 24th floor of 777 South Figueroa, one of the most commanding and attractive sky-scrappers in downtown Los Angeles ,which loosely resembled a tiered wedding cake from afar. On a clear day, it providing not only captivating views of other sky-scrappers, but beyond the nearly infinite suburban sprawl, the occasionally snow-caped mountains east of Los Angeles could be seen when the smog wasn't too obstructive. It always gave one good reason to pause on a clear day. The office building itself was about four or five blocks south of the Jonathan Club, with the storied Brooks Brothers location exactly in between.

It was a beautiful, albeit, slightly toasty summer day in Los Angeles. After parking the faithful old Acura Legend at the J Club and walking down to his father's office because that is how it was done back then, the werewolf recalls the pleasant small-talk walking back to the J-Club to enjoy lunch in the Grill Room. After lunch, the old man informed the werewolf that a jaunt to Brooks Brothers, just down the street, was in order because it was time he had a real suit.

It was the werewolf's first suit buying experience. It was a pretty cool. He had occasionally gone with his father to GB Harb & Son, a old LA tailor-shop, and always admired the sense of style and impeccable fit that ensured from those trips, yet was too young to understand how it could possibly apply to him.

The downtown Brooks Brothers store was surprisingly voluminous and had an expansive series of suit racks accommodating every type of potential customer out there. After long and deliberate discussion with both his father and salesman, the werewolf settled on a two-buttoned, pleated, charcoal gray suit from Brooks Brothers entry-level line. The salesman was impeccably thought and offered what seemed to be prudent advice at the time. There was a brief flurry of debate about pinstripes, which the werewolf's father was wearing that day, but being young, brash, and unsure of his style, the understated universality of the charcoal gray won at his father's aggressive urging. The suit itself was legendary and would endure seven years of hard use by the werewolf before being retired. It survived countless job interviews, two summer internships on Capitol Hill, a brief stint in London, countless student government meetings, several wild parties in South Africa, including one where it ended up, along with the werewolf, in a swimming pool chasing a pretty girl. It was worn so much, that eventually it just gave-out in certain areas - the seems connecting the sleeves to the jack body tore and one of the pockets got caught on something leaving gash in the side of the pants -  although it always fit rather well for on OTR suit, and as the werewolf got older, and lost and gained weight cyclically, it seemed to conform to his body obediently. A white and blue oxford cloth button-down, along with a regimental tie, that the werewolf's father called "a Reagan tie," and busy paisley tie were also acquired that day. Nowadays, the werewolf wouldn't get caught dead OCBD with a suit, but it worked well back then.

Although he never frequented that Brooks Brothers, his seasonal visits to that store and first time suit buying experience will always resonate with him. The werewolf loves a good Brooks Brothers suit, but has evolved to prefer made-to-measure suits form  Samuelsohn or Adrian Jules mixed in with several old-faithfuls from Brooks Brothers.

Having long left LA, the werewolf knows his sadness is slightly illogical and strange. Yet, he can't help but feel like downtown Los Angeles has lost out on some level. Here's to cherished memories.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Iggy Pop: Candy (Live)

Iggy Pop, (a.k.a Iguana) as storied as his odd rock career is, may be one of the strangest and creepiest looking dude's out there. I guess years of heroine, hard drugs, dead hookers and groupies, along with an improbable and illicit lifetime of depression and decadence take a toll. There is something about how the skin loosely collects around some of his muscles, the popping veins, and the way his eyes seem to convey dark tales of a life of twisted debauchery involving things the werewolf is too tame to mention on this blog. Plus, his band looks like a collection of axe murders from a Rob Zombie film, although they certainly rock it to the top. Yet, conversely the way his voice booms tied into his unapologetic bouncing a spastic gyrations, show he is a gifted musician and has earned his place as a great rocker. Not to mention, that chick's life probably was at it's epoch during the three minutes she shares the stage with Iggy.

Anyhow, this is one of the great modern love rock ballads, at least in the werewolf's humble opinion. The optimism that spring brings with it, somehow makes it the season for song's that celebrate love, realized, lost or uncertain. The studio version of this song features Kate Pierson, from the B-52's, which actually make it distinctive and worthy in its own right. Enjoy!

Mexico on the brink?

Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles has a rather detailed and thoroughly disturbing article about how emboldened the drug cartels have become in  Northern Mexico.

"In coordinated attacks, gunmen in armored cars and equipped with grenade launchers fought army troops this week and attempted to trap some of them in two military bases by cutting off access and blocking highways, a new tactic by Mexico's organized criminals."

Is this not reminiscent of scenes out of Mad Max or The Road Warrior on some level? Mind you this isn't some post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland; it is only miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Could you imagine a world where well-armed highway gangs are successfully going to toe-to-toe with large urban American police forces, or even the United States military without being utterly obliterated? For all of its virtue and splendor, Mexico remains a rather large experiment in Latin American dysfunction. The werewolf is concerned that if these problems aren't addressed and contained in short order, this problem will escalate into a severely malignant tumor along our border with Mexico with wide a wide ranging spectrum of negative repercussions. 

Towns being abandoned under order of death for the inhabitants, honest cops rarer than virgins in whorehouses, an impotent government hanging on by mere threads, with honest people terrorized and lives treated as mere pawns in the vicious games played by the drug cartels for profitable pipelines is becoming the norm in Mexico. This isn't the middle ages or Somalia, this is the Northern Hemisphere and the doorstep to the United States of America. Mexico City's claim to sovereignty grows weaker with each passing day. When will America step up -it will have to at some point- as we can't play the ostrich forever,  and find a General Pershing for the modern era (note it has been almost a century since his infamous foray's against Poncho Villa, who says history isn't cyclical?) and unleash a Marine Expeditionary Force on the repulsive cartels and put an put an end to their trade in misery, blood, and brutality? It's the clear the Mexicans are incapable of handling their own internal security, alas, this burden, like so many others will fall on our shoulders.

Along with waging a violent and brutal war on the cartels, -which honor and justice demand - what changes need to be wrought on this side of the border to undermine these cartels? Is legalization of hard drugs - which appeals to the werewolf's inner-libertarian, yet sits grotesquely uneasy with his moral compass and sense of right, a realistic solution? Whatever the US plan is, it needs to be multi-pronged, fast, a vicious. If this includes adjusting the demand in the states with regulation and legalization regime, along with destroying supply, (napalming cocoa fields), along with showing no mercy to the Cartels as we hunt them down, so be it. However, our chronic impotence on this issue speak to how poorly our society has evolved from days of yore. Like all festering wounds, this must be treating before gangrene sets in and limbs need to be amputated.


A distant, maladjusted cousin to the Easter Bunny.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Paul Simon: You Can Call Me Al


Paul Simon's Graceland album always makes the werewolf smile. It is one of his favorite albums during long road trips. "You Can Call Me Al" may be one of the best finger-dancing songs ever written. Seriously. The werewolf has been spied by many a fellow road-warrior finger dancing and singing along in his car like the champ he aspires to be. The carefree beat and fun-loving rhythm make this song so spring-has-sprung appropriate. Believe you me, spring has sprung here is DC. Not to mention the fact that this video features Chevy Chase at his goofy best.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Nostalgia: Weezer - Buddy Holly

The werewolf was a mere pup, just beginning to navigate the perilous straits of the 7th grade, when this song was released in the fall of 1994. Although nearly two decades behind him -- with many ragged miles acrued since then -- this song takes him back to the long lost enthusiasm and awkward innocence of junior high. While he is glad those days are long gone, he appreciates what happy and carefree times those were.

Usually the werewolf prefers to share live versions of songs instead of studio recordings or music videos (Assuming a decent live version is available). Live versions allow one to judge a band's talent by how they survive contact with the enemy (the real world) in the absence of the near-perfect and sheltered haven the studio provides. There is no hating the studio recordings as they represent that vast bulk of the music he owns and listens to regularly. However, experiencing a band's ability to jam live is not unlike seeing your romantic liaison in the nude for the first time. You can't fully appreciate the full scope of what you've signed up for until that bridge has been crossed. The werewolf thoroughly enjoys Weezer's studio products, yet, he found them terribly disappointing as a live performance band. Regardless, "Buddy Holly" remains a perenial favorite from the werewolf's youth.