Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Billy Preston

Sad news today as legendary rock keyboardist Billy Preston passed away, at the age of 59. He had battled kidney failure for the past couple years. Beatles' fans know Preston from his work on their swansong, Let it Be, and his subsequent performance at their final rooftop concert. The smooth organ intro on "Get Back" and the breakdown in "Don't Let Me Down"? That's Preston. He's also one of the two guys (Clapton, pre-country-club-blues wankery, being the other) brought in to play on late period Beatles' albums, causing the feuding band members to remark at the time how the presence of another player got everyone on their best behavior and temporarily stopped the bickering. He would go on to do session work for the Rolling Stones and was even asked to join the band full time but declined.

In other news...
Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D) has made his first post-Mayo clinic rehab appearance, speaking at Brown University yesterday. After crashing his Mustang on Capitol Hill, he checked into their drug dependency program, which I don't quite understand since: 1) he has denied that he was drinking and 2) he claims to have taken only standard dosages of his "antinausea and sleep medications." Unfortunately for Kennedy, a waitress at Cap Hill bar Hawk 'n Dove saw Kennedy drinking there that same night (the waitress, incidentally, is also on Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt's staff). Fortunately for Kennedy, the police didn't give him a breathalizer.

An Indonesian volcano look about ready to blow as 11,000 people fleed villages about 250 miles from the capital of Jakarta.

Today in Slate, Bruce Reed waxes about the two sides of the conservative mountain. He notes that, for as long as anyone can remember, two main tenets have helped knit all conservatives together: 1) America is the greatest nation on Earth and 2) America's decline has begun and the fall is imminent. It's a brilliant marketing scheme. Reed's talking mainly about the mostly irrelevant same-sex marriage amendment being proposed (if I'm not mistaken, 45 of 50 states already have a measure in place). And yes, with all this talk of the moral deterioration of America and how the sanctity of family and marriage is on the verge of ruin, it's hard to believe the President's claims that things on the home front really are going well. Actually, it'd be hard to believe them anyway. In the midst of a potential nuclear crisis with Iran, a quagmire (in every sense of the word) in Iraq, a somewhat faltering education policy, and a nasty battle over immigration, I'm almost completely positive that a debate over this amendment is a massive waste of time. Frankly, comanche/soul doesn't agree with the amendment at all, but that's not even really the point. I get that we're supposed to be scared of America's impending fall because of gay marriage, but what could be a better sign of such a decline than a bunch of self-important politicians wasting money, breath, time, and ink debating legislation that -- essentially -- already exists in 90% of the country. While certainly times change -- and with them values, prices, and the cut of men's jeans -- I do find the exercise of asking "what would our forefathers have done?" to be occasionally useful. And, on an occasion like this, I feel completely confident in saying that they would be appalled to see our bloated federal government using its precious time and resources -- during wartime, no less -- like this.

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