Okay, so not keeping up EVERY day with the musical themes. Been busy and been sick. So sue me.
But back to Thursday Blues! Last week was Koko Taylor, one of my favorites.
Today I want to go back to the real basics of Blues. WAY back.
There was one time I saw someone on the usually very liberal political website Daily Kos arguing that once a person kills another person they have given up the right to be treated like a human and so should face the death penalty. The person arguing this was NOT a rabid Republican. Nor is support of the death penalty only a radical Republican position (I do not oppose it per se, merely the horrible and unfair way it is applied). But the statement was horrible and I responded by asking if THIS person had given up the right to be treated like a human:
Leadbelly (Huddie William Ledbetter) was a founding force for a great deal of modern music. For those who have no room in their heart for people serving prison terms, Leadbelly was sentenced to at least two prison terms. The first was for illegal gun possession (he escaped from that prison term), and the second for killing a relative, ostensibly over a woman.
He was pardoned from his murder sentence partly because of his musical talent. Is it right that he only served seven years for killing a man? Perhaps not, but his pardon allowed him to set the foundations for modern music from blues to R and B to Rock and Roll. I believe American music would have been far less than it was without this one man's voice.
My friend owns one of the very few independent movie theaters around, the Brooklyn Heights Cinema. I remember back in High School I loved going to obscure movies...and not so obscure movies (like Dr. Strangelove, Breaker Morant, etc.) at our local independent theaters in Los Angeles. So having this place around is a huge asset to the cultural scene in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Heights Cinema
70 Henry Street (at Orange)
718 596 5095
Here are some upcoming events at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema:
Silent Films with Live Music series resumes
The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari
live music performed and composed by Kenn Lowy
Sunday Sept. 30th @ 7:45 pm sharp!
Directed by Josh Fox
Monday October 1st @ 6:45 pm
Sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin
Wednesday October 3rd @ 9pm
singer-songwriter & author Steve Witt will be singing and reading from his new novel "The Street Singer"
The book follows a flat-broke subway musician who stumbles into contact with a high-powered developer named Thaddeus Hoover - a thinly veiled take on developer Bruce Ratner.
He ends up playing project supporters and opponents off against each other as he plots to get a hip hop song he’s written to a rapper dubbed Zack-J, based on Nets minority owner Jay-Z.
I say, people who don't vote should shut up. And that includes, in my book, local races and even primaries. I have seen MANY races where really every vote DOES count, so not voting means you are choosing to let others choose for you.
Samuel L. Jackson is way cooler than me...he puts it this way:
I was saddened by the loss of Democracy in the African nation of Mali, between the radical Islamists and the military dictators, how can we maintain the amazing democracy that Mali was known for?
In honor of Mali and hoping for peace in Mali:
Okay, with Sarah Palin and the Little Bush I thought Republican stupidity had reached it's peak. But seems Mitt Romney wants to compete.
It appears Mitt Romney thinks airplanes should have windows that open...in case, you know, of a fire.
“When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.
Ummm...SO many stupids in this one statement. No wonder Republicans don't believe in global warming! They seem to not understand such basic science as a.) there is VERY LITTLE oxygen at cruising altitude (that's why they pressurize the cabins!), b.) wind speeds of a cruising airplane make the effects of an open window rather devastating (imaging tying your dog to the top of a plane and then taking off, Mitt...), or c.) oxygen FEEDS fires, so it isn't just oxygen you need.
By the way, Mitt, they do have those oxygen masks in airplanes so you can BREATHE while the fire can't...I think there are government regulations requiring those masks. But of course we could repeal those government regulations, can't we?
Glad the minor fire on Ann Romney's plane remained minor. But really, Mitt. Do you have to use it as an excuse to look as stupid as a Bush? read more »
[NOTE: see bottom for the rumored meeting of the minds between CBID and Frank Seddio!]
[UPDATE: and the count switches again! I have to admit this kind of thing always makes me wonder about how we count our votes around here!]
One of the most hotly contested races in Brooklyn this year is one that normally would get no attention: a race for a single District Leader position on Democratic County Committee. Normally something only insiders pay attention to, the re-election of reform District Leader Lincoln Restler over a challenge from the now disgraced former Party Boss Vito "Dirty Old Man" Lopez has been making repeated headlines.
Lincoln Restler was never meant to win in the first place. Two years ago he surprised everyone but beating the Vito Lopez machine in the first place. He remains one of perhaps 5 reliably reform District Leaders on County Committee. And a major embarrassment to Vito Lopez (who, to be fair, is himself an embarrassment to all Democrats). In what might be his very last power play in Brooklyn, Vito Lopez ran his crony Chris Olechowski against Restler. Olechowski's support came almost exclusively from one faction of Brooklyn's powerful Hasidic community. Restler's support came from almost everywhere else. On primary election night it looked like the Hasidic votes and Vito Lopez machine (who may share an interest in getting the Brooklyn DA to suppress sexual harassment prosecutions?) had one by some 50 votes. A very close election and already a sign that Vito Lopez had lost his mojo (that's what SHE said!).
But that left absentee and provisional ballots to be counted. And in a further sign that EVERY VOTE COUNTS, in the end reformer Lincoln Restler now looks to have won re-election by about 50 votes. Here is Lincoln's announcement:
On Friday evening, the canvassing of voting machines was completed and emergency, affidavit, and absentee ballots were all fully accounted for. Board of Elections staff and our election lawyers confirmed the result: every valid ballot had been counted and we had overcome a 136 vote margin on election night to be ahead by 53 votes in the final result.
Then on Saturday, we received a phone call from technological consultants to the Board of Elections informing us that their assessment had changed. Two memory sticks from the same scanning machine had yielded different results. We spent the weekend assessing how two data drives from the same machine could possibly provide different numbers, but we now believe we are facing a deficit of 31 votes.
Ultimately this vote difference does not change what happens next: despite everything the Brooklyn machine threw at us - the margin in this election is so small that State law mandates a hand recount of every ballot before the election result is final. The spread is now 50.1% to 49.9% in a 12,000 vote race, which means every single ballot that the BOE will now be reviewing truly counts. We are looking for volunteers who would be willing to help us monitor the hand recount...
Vito Lopez must HATE those words, "hand recount." I remember it was such a recount that lost him his FIRST major judicial seat when Judge Margarita Lopez-Torres won in a recount. It was during that recount that the current reform movement in Brooklyn first showed some real organization. Hopefully they will again and I urge anyone who wants to help in the recount contact New Kings Democrats for more information.
This is a key moment in Brooklyn politics. We have seen the fall of yet another corrupt Democratic Party leader. The reform movement was already strong enough two years ago to start appearing as at least a minor threat on Vito's radar. Though his grip on power was largely unchallenged, the small losses he suffered was starting to look like a death of a thousand cuts. The machine itself was turning on him bit by bit with the likes of Diana Reyna and Lew Fidler having public fallings out with Vito. And reform clubs like Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats and New Kings Democrats were starting to be more effective.
This year the new Party Boss, Frank Seddio, has made a big show of welcoming the reform movement into his machine. Let's be honest. The marriage of reform to machine will not be a match made in heaven and will be a rocky one. But the fact that it exists at all is progress on both sides. And repudiation of Vito Lopez's thuggish style of running things. It would be fitting if this new at least surface unity within the Democratic Party in Brooklyn is ushered in with Vito Lopez's final defeat in the re-election of Lincoln Restler.
Next fight? How about the reform and machine Democrats focus on electing Andrew Gounardes to the State Senate and Mark Murphy for Congress just to name two. AndI urge readers in Brooklyn to get involved with the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats or New Kings Democrats to keep the reform movement strong.
Interestingly, in what may be viewed by some as a sign of the Apocalypse, machine Party Boss Frank Seddio is rumored to be coming to speak at the next Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats meeting this Thursday, Sept. 24th, 7:00pm at the Park Slope United Methodist Church (Downstairs), 6th Avenue (Between 7th/8th Streets). Should be interesting! CBID is famous for its challenging questions for politicians.
Continuing the new Daily Gotham daily music theme, I designate Friday Jewish themed music in honor of the Shabbos. Not that I keep the Shabbos, but there is some pretty cool Jewish music out there, so what the hell.
For this Friday a Yemenite themed song but some really great Israeli singers:
New Kings Democrats is one of the reform clubs in Brooklyn that has fought hard against the Vito Lopez machine...and has been part of the formation of a hopefully more reform Frank Seddio machine. Even as their last fight against Vito Lopez (the re-election of Lincoln Restler) is still playing out, here are their comments on the First Act of Frank Seddio's leadership:
Good news! At Wednesday night's county committee meeting, the Brooklyn Democratic Party approved several basic reforms proposed by New Kings Democrats and its allies in the Brooklyn Reform Coalition. These include:
Eliminating the At-Large District Leaders:
In recent years Vito Lopez consolidated his rule by appointing to the Executive Committee 11 at-large members. These positions were hand-picked by the county chair and thus typically voted in line with the county chair. Their removal will restore more democracy to the Executive Committee.
Restoring Transparency to the Party's Operations:
Under Vito, the party's operations were shrouded in mystery and subject to little exposure or debate. The party will now launch and maintain a website detailing important party information including details of the party's operations, finances and nominations.
Empowering Rank & File Democratic Party Members:
The County Committee is the grassroots body within the local party's governance structure, consisting of a few thousand party members. In recent years, this body was rendered impotent, and it just rubber stamped every proposal offered by Lopez. The new reform proposals would require the committee to meet regularly, and convene its subcommittees to ensure wider participation.
Make no mistake, this represents tremendous progress for the party and real achievement for NKD and the reform movement. We want to thank you for all your hard work in helping us realize this day. A special thanks for all those of you who ran for county committee - approximately 260 people within the coalition from a wide range of neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
While this is a good start to a new era, we cannot be complacent. We need to remain vigilant, make sure these reforms are effectively enacted, and advocate for other reforms, notably involving the judicial selection process. And now that the party has (hopefully) moved beyond the acrimony of the Vito Lopez era, we must help it forge a new future, one that is inclusive, diverse, transparent, accountable and democratic.
We will be back in touch soon with details of our next meeting and updates on Lincoln's race.
I should note that at least the first reform proposal mentioned above was also part of Lew Fidler's original proposal developed in collaboration with District Leader Jo Anne Simon. Lew actually split with Vito Lopez partly because of that issue.
I will add that Lew Fidler has this to say about the same changes New Kings Democrats refers to above (was going to quote in another diary but this is as good a context as any):
I have some real hope. There is real change happening here. There is a true leap of faith on all sides. There is change not only in substance but in tone. We have at least 6 races---the defeat of Michael Grimm, Marty Golden and my personal favorite David Storobin, and the re-election of Helene Weinstein, Steve Cymbrowitz and Bill Colton---where we have competitive races with right wing, xenophobic and homophobic republicans. A united and active party can make a huge difference. And nothing will help us more than working together in common cause.
I like the image of a leap of faith because in many ways that feels like what we are making...and personally I have never been one to make leaps of faith (too much the scientist), but I guess sometimes you have to.
I am starting a new theme on Daily Gotham: Daily Music Themes (somewhat arbitrary but so what).
Thursday is blues day. For whatever reason. Because I say so.
And I think the best place to start the tradition is with the classic Koko Taylor's kick ass Wang Dang Doodle. First is the version I know best. Second shows Koko in action.
Tell automatic Slim
Tell razor totin' Jim
Tell butcher knife
Tell fast talking fanny
We're gonna pitch a ball
Down to the union hall
We're gonna romp
And trump till midnight
We're gonna fuss
And fight till daylight
We're gonna get your
Wang dang doodle
All night long (5x)
Tell cooda-crawling Ray
To tell abyssinia Ned
To tell old pistol Pete
To tell everybody he meets
Tonight we need no rest
We're gonna really
Throw a mess
We're gonna knock down
All the windows
We're gonna kick down
All the doors
We're gonna get your
Wang dang doodle read more »
Tonight was the first Brooklyn Democratic County Committee meeting my wife and I felt accomplished anything.
Our first County Committee meeting (sounds so romantic!) was Clarence Norman's last meeting before he went to jail. We were recruited by a friend and had little warning of what we were in for. My wife was 2 weeks overdue in giving birth to our son (his fault, not hers...he refused to get into position...kind of gave us a sense of his personality right there!). We wondered if his birth might upstage Clarence Norman's last stand...but he held on and was born later.
But the meeting was a farce. A circus. It was literally scripted from start to finish and was as uninviting and undemocratic as could be. The only saving grace was Ken Diamondstone's determined effort to stand up to the farce and at least SHOW that it was a farce. I wish we had been warned in advance. We might have been able to help Ken in showing what a farce the official Democratic Party was in Brooklyn.
Here's the key. I despise corruption. It puts the self interest of a handful of powerful folks over the actual governance of our country, our state, our city. I cannot stand when people put their own self interest so blatantly and completely ahead of the community. That is what Republicans do these days. When I was a kid even Republicans didn't do that so much.
I spend a great deal of time fighting Republican corruption. So when I realized that the head of the Democratic Party in my own area, Clarence Norman, was going to jail, it kind of made me feel sick. Seeing County Committee in action made me realize the corruption went deeper than Clarence Norman.
From then on I got to watch the Vito Lopez machine replace the Clarence Norman machine. I saw no real change. No recognition that the corruption in the Brooklyn Democratic Party was an embarrassment to the Democratic Party in general and was potential ammunition for the Republican Party. I predicted early on that this would mean we would start losing to the Republicans here in Brooklyn because the local Democratic Party was more dedicated to perpetuating the power of a handful of corrupt sleazebags than actually electing Democrats in contested elections.
Now, though the dynamics are more complicated than this, having in many ways to do with developments within a segment of the Jewish community that puts intolerance before community-interest, but the Democratic Party in Brooklyn has indeed been falling apart. We are losing contested elections like crazy. The number of contested elections are still small, but the dynamics are changing and the slack and corrupt attitude that I have seen locally in the Brooklyn Democratic Party has meant that we will continue to lose unless we start changing how we do business.
THAT is the most important thing to learn from the last 8 years as well as from tonight's meeting. And in tonight's meeting SOME people got it and, really, really sadly, some didn't.
more below read more »
Today is the anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Time to remind people some of the key aspects of what we are fighting for.
One of the main things is the big banks in America are largely responsible for the economic conditions we now face. And they were allowed to do this thanks to the Republican-led deregulation of banks.
But the money that goes into these banks is our money. So the obvious thing is for us to move our money OUT of the predatory lenders and into options that serve our communities better.
We are all angry at the big banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and Citibank because of their predatory lending practices, terrible customer service and greedy, selfish politics and business practices. Basically these banks and similar ones have screwed working class and middle class Americans and made a profit off our suffering. Then they got bailed out with OUR tax money when their lousy business practices and predatory lending hit them in the ass. These banks got us into the economic mess we are in and the CEOs of these banks took America to the cleaners and have been reaping the profits while we suffer foreclosures and tough times. And the fees they charge are insane!
I should note that according to Green America's Responsible shopper, the two worst banks in America are Bank of America and Citigroup. Bank of America and Citigroup, are also are two of the top ten tax dodging companies in America. They love to take our tax money, but hate to pay their fair share. If you have any accounts or credit cards with these two banks, I highly suggest switching. These two banks, along with Chase, also get by far the most customer service complaints to the Comptroller of the Currency. Here is the list from 2009 of complaints received:
Bank of America: 7,230 complaints (25.5% of total)
J.P. Morgan Chase: 4,890 complaints (17.3%)
Citigroup: 3,742 complaints (13.2%)
Wells Fargo: 2,695 complaints (9.5%)
HSBC North America: 1,963 complaints (6.9%)
Wachovia: 1,265 complaints (4.5%)
U.S. Bancorp: 1,027 complaints (3.6%)
National City: 586 complaints (2.1%)
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group: 537 complaints (1.9 %)
Key Corp: 343 complaints (1.2 %)
I would say, even taking size into account, Bank of America ranks the worst by pretty much ANY standard. And there are better options. read more »
Brooklyn Blogger Gatemouth over at Room 8 makes a big error in his recent pieces on Brooklyn Politics. In it he refers to the reform movement that is fighting the massively corrupt (and apparently somewhat depraved) head of the Democratic Party machine, Vito Lopez, as being a monolithic group whose every statement is planned in advance by the Supreme Reform Soviet of Brooklyn before being uttered.
He knows full well the reformers are a disorganized, squabbling bunch who actually put up no less than FOUR candidates one year in a City Council election against Vito Lopez's pet, Steve Levin. Naturally Levin won. Had the reformers been as unified and monolithic as Gatemouth treats them, Levin may well have lost. Organizing the reform Democrats in Brooklyn is even more like herding cats than the general Democratic Party exercise in cat-herding. read more »
This was a race somewhat under my radar. I knew about it but didn't really take an active role. However, the club my wife is on the board of, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, endorsed Richard Montelione in this race, seeing it as a chance to defeat a less qualified candidate who happened to be tied to the increasingly discredited Vito Lopez machine.
Overall this was a race between two good candidates. However, the BETTER, more reform candidate won. That is far from always true in Vito Lopez's Brooklyn.
LAMBDA INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATS OF BROOKLYN CELEBRATES THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY VICTORY OF OPENLY GAY ATTORNEY RICHARD MONTELIONE
MONTELIONE WILL BE BROOKLYN'S FIRST OUT GAY JUDGE IN FOURTEEN YEARS
Civil Court races tend to be sleepy affairs, but not this one! The race for Civil Court in Brooklyn’s First Municipal District became heated at times, with some of the biggest names in Democratic politics weighing-in. In the end, Richard Montelione won the race, becoming the first openly gay candidate to be elected to public office in Brooklyn in over 14 years. read more »
For almost two years now, I have been writing columns telling you that Mitt Romney will handily lose this upcoming presidential election. So I am moving beyond that now: it’s a “fait accompli” in my book. Romney is -and has always been- as horrible a candidate as any the republicans could have nominated. There are much better presidential candidates in the Republican Party. Most of the good ones chose not to run this time around.
This election has been over long before it even started; but you won’t know this from the coverage on Fox News Network. I wonder what their pundits will say on election night after the polls close and the votes are counted in Obama’s favor. Will they ever admit that their coverage and analysis has been shoddy, deceitful and specious? I guess not! read more »
REMEMBER TO VOTE TODAY!
Thursday Sept. 13th is Primary Election Day
Here are some recommendations from District Leader Chris Owens, my district leader:
NORTHWEST BROOKLYN (Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Fort Greene):
Elect Richard Montelione to the Kings County Civil Court. Richard is the only candidate with 28 years of legal experience as a practicing attorney and as a leader in the legal community. He has been found "Exceptionally Well Qualified" by four judicial panels, "Qualified" by numerous judicial panels and The New York Times, endorsed by the NY Amsterdam News, and Richard is supported by every "reform" Democratic political organization in Brooklyn (CBID, IND, LID, NKD).
The word is out that Richard Montelione is the best judicial candidate this year! Who shares that view? Major Owens, Jo Anne Simon, Lincoln Restler, Velmanette Montgomery, Joan Millman, Jim Brennan, Letitia James, Deborah Glick, Danny Dromm and many more.
Richard's opponent, law clerk Lara Genovesi, is a competent and qualified candidate. We need the BEST judges, however, not merely "decent" judges. Ms. Genovesi can run again in the future. In this contest, Richard Montelione is the superior candidate and needs your vote.
52nd ASSEMBLY DISTRICT (Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Park Slope, Prospect Heights): Please re-elect my co-leader and friend, Jo Anne Simon to the Democratic State Committee. Jo Anne is not only a seasoned and wise District Leader, she is an accomplished education attorney and could be Brooklyn's first female Democratic County Leader.
50th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT (Greenpoint, Williamsburg): Please re-elect Lincoln Restler, one of Brooklyn's hardest hustling "reformers," to the Democratic State Committee ("District Leader"). Lincoln works to represent every person in his very diverse and changing district. The bottom line is this: Vito Lopez is gunning for Lincoln and we can't let this scandal-plagued County Leader take out a champion of change. In 2010, Lincoln's election was so close, it took multiple recounts to decide the victor! read more »
Since I had some unfinished business relative to Thursday’s primaries, I thought I would do another pertinent column.
Here is the big story: sources are saying that Chris Banks can upset assembly woman Inez Barron (60AD) in East New York. I am told that Chris got around 1500 votes two years ago as a judicial delegate candidate (without lifting a finger). Is that an epic of things to come this year? I am also told that the Barron brand in East New York is worn out from fatigue. The supporters of Chris Banks are displaying a lot of confidence folks. They expect him to do well. I am quite surprised by their bravado and enthusiasm. I am going to keep my eye on that race.
Let me preface what I am about to write with this: I recently endorsed both Inez and Charles Barron for district leaders in this AD. I stand by those endorsements since I do believe the leadership of the Dems in Kings county needs shaking up. If Charles and Inez are elected to those roles, they should be able to work with other progressive district leaders to bring about many needed changes and reforms in the way the party operates and functions in this borough. read more »
This year’s primary is being held on Thursday 13th September, 2012. The reason is simple: avoid the “09-11” clash with all its painful reminders. I have been told that in the future, New York will hold federal, state and local primaries in June: starting next year with the city council elections. This is something that was long overdue. Hopefully New York electeds will now turn their attention to twelve-year term limits for ALL elected offices in the state. Don’t you agree?
Anyway, let me just quickly make a few new endorsements to add to the three I have made so far this year (HAKEEM JEFFRIES/Congress, TONY HURBERT /55AD and TERRY HINDS/58AD). read more »
I am embarrassed by this diary. I live in a place where the DEMOCRATIC party is massively corrupt and that corruption is poised to continue far into the future. I fight REPUBLICAN corruption. How can I do that when I live in an area where the Democratic Party is so massively corrupt.
I grew up in Los Angeles. I remember a friend of mine from Chicago who was amazed that she couldn't find someone to bribe to hurry up her remodeling plans for her house. Los Angeles was the least corrupt place she had lived. That is my background.
I now live in Brooklyn. I am amazed that the national Democratic Party hasn't come to Brooklyn and kicked our asses because we are among the most corrupt party machines in America. We look like a third world country when it comes to corruption.
Our previous County Leader, Clarence Norman, served a full jail sentence for corruption. Our current County Leader, Vito Lopez, has done almost ALL of the same things Clarence Norman went to jail for, and is under active investigation by pretty much all levels of government for corruption. He ALSO recently was accused of sexual harassment by several women from his own staff...and apparently the NY State government settled some other sexual harassment suits against him at taxpayer's expense.
I spend a lot of time attacking Republicans for corruption. And nationally Republicans are FAR FAR FAR more corrupt than Democrats. But I find myself embarrassed by the local corruption in the Brooklyn Democratic Party. read more »
I have been pushing pretty hard to win this November. Not for Obama. I am sure Obama will win (well...about 90% sure and I have been for some 6 months now). It is Congress I am worried about.
We are at risk of losing the Senate and we really need to gain in the House. I think we can do both...MAYBE even take the House if we push really, really hard.
So I have been pushing with 3 Act Blue Pages to try and win key races that are looking close. If we want to dominated Congress anytime soon, these are the races we need to win. Follow me below the fold for more...but first, I also have a suggestion for those who are feeling the Democrats aren't Progressive enough. If you can't bring yourself to stand by Obama, don't write a diary about a third party candidate (it will only end in tears!). Instead put some time/money/effort into helping the Progressive Majority endorsed candidates. They are a fantastic bunch and Progressive Majority is one of our most important organizations getting Progressives elected to important positions in local and state government. They are our future.
But looking at Congress, please help me with these three efforts...I am doing better than usual in my fundraising efforts and would like to seriously compete with the Koch Brothers in fundraising ("To Dream...the Impossible Dream..."). read more »