Top Ten Albums of 2012

Rob’s Top Ten for 2012

It wasn’t a great year for music by any means. In fact, it’s gotten so easy to produce an MP3 or a CD that just about everyone does. DYI is cool for friends and family, but such projects often add to the background noise and make it harder to find the really good stuff. And, as politically incorrect as it is, I find 90% of all hip-hop and rap to be unworthy of being viewed as music. Ask me to judge by the standards of slam poetry and we can talk, but spoken word over sampled music and programmed percussion doesn’t meet my melodic measurements. So here is my Top Ten for 2012 in the genres (such as they still exist) of rock, pop, folk, country, and world music.

 1. Le Vent du Nord, Tromper le Temps (Borealis):  From Québec comes a jewel from a band so good that the only open question is whether we prefer their energy or their polish.

2.  Ari Hest, The Fire Plays, (Project 4 Records): Baritone vocals evocative of John Gorka and compositions worthy of Billy Joel or Paul Simon. Score one for the Metro (NYC) male.

3.  Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill, (Reprise): The old man still has it! Perhaps overlong at two discs, but a classic Young mix of country, folk, rock, and grunge.

4. Altan, Gleann Nimhe, (Compass): These Irish-folk veterans stepped back in time for a new release the evoked the band’s early days and their back-to-the-future project succeeded brilliantly.

5. Caroline Herring, Camilla, (Signature): If Country music was run by talent scouts instead of empty suits, Caroline Herring would be one of the industry’s brightest stars.

6.  Genticorum, Naguez Rameurs, (Mad River): A tick below Le Vent du Nord, but just a tick. Add both to your collection and you’ll clog your way through 2013.

7. Karine Polwart, Traces, (Hegri Music): From one of Scotland’s most fearless singers, an album about loss, bruised hearts, and renewal. Raw emotions meet heavenly vocals.

8. Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, Little Blue Egg, (Red House): Recovered demos and shelved songs from the late, great Dave Carter–a hit from beyond the tomb and renewed life from Tracy.

9. Jason Myles GossRadio Dial (Jeswaldo Sounds): This rising talent from Boston’s fertile folk scene is back with an album full of compelling stories from the down side of life.

10. (Tie), Steep Canyon Rangers/Mairi Morrison & Alisdair Roberts, Nobody Knows You/Urstan, (Rounder/Drag City): Sometimes the hippest new thing is the old made new. Steep Canyon Rangers aren’t your daddy’s bluegrass, and Morrison & Roberts give a fresh treatment to Celtic waulking songs and mouth music.--Rob Weir


Nu-Blu Album Preachy But Solid Bluegrass

Nail by Nail
Pine Castle Holdings 1181
* * *
At a recent conference I attended a session on marketing and music. In a chat with one of the presenters I said that I had just gotten a CD that purported to be a “Christian bluegrass” album. He laughed and queried, “Aren’t all bluegrass albums Christian?” He wasn’t serious, but it’s certainly true that mountain gospel has long been a staple for bluegrass vocalists. So how is Nail by Nail different from any other bluegrass record? Let’s start with what isn’t different. The North Carolina-based ensemble Nu-Blu features all the expected instrumentation: guitar (Daniel Routh), bass (Daniel’s wife Carolyn), banjo (Levi Austin), mandolin (Austin Koerner), and fiddle (Greg Luck). Carolyn Routh handles lead vocals and everyone except Luck jumps in to produce signature three-part harmonies. Songs feature instrumental breakouts, usually a sequence of flat-picked guitar, banjo runs, and fancy mando and fiddle bowing. Occasionally a soulful slap bass punctuates the procession before a quick burst of notes bridges back to the melody and vocals. So far, so standard….

But make no mistake: Nu-Blu also has a preachy side that comes through in the selection of some pretty overt lyrics. (Lest there’s any mistake, notes on the back of the album make it clear that Nu-Blu sees this recording as musical testimony.) This seven-track CD presents Jesus as crucified and savior of humankind. Let your tolerance for preaching guide your decision of whether or not to check out Nu-Blu. A reason why you might wish to do so: this is a very good band. They may lay it on a bit heavy at times, but they are perennial nominees in the category of bluegrass band of the year in a state that knows bluegrass. Some of the testimony is indeed on the heavy side—which is why my favorite track was the cover of Tim Stafford’s more subtle “Where Did You Get that Water?”—but there’s not a thing pushy about the band’s top drawer musicianship. And if you want to know the difference between bluegrass gospel and bluegrass gospel, this one will guide you.—Rob Weir

Click here to hear "Hammer on the Nails."


Boxing Day Gifts for Decision (and Non-Decision) Makers

Santa's not the only one who should be kicked out on 12/26! 

In many places where Christmas is observed, the day itself is for family and quiet contemplation. (Wow! What a bizarre idea, huh?) Present exchanges, usually modest ones given in small numbers (shocking!), actually take place on December 26, Boxing Day. (In the USA, we return gifts on Boxing Day.) So here’s my Grinch list of Boxing Day gifts for decision- and non-decision-makers (broadly defined).

To Egypt: A military coup. It’s the only thing that has a prayer of saving the nation from civil war, religious jihad, and regional war. The Muslim Brotherhood has railroaded through a new constitution that will, if left unchecked, impose sharia law on the nation and take it back to the 14th century. It will, of course, blame Israel for anything that goes wrong and seek to launch a holy war against it. Ordinary Egyptians would be much better off under a junta.

To all doe-eyed liberals who actually believed in Arab Spring: Huge slices of humble pie and forced feedings of it. Maybe if they get sick enough, reality will dawn. Who knew Arab Spring would not bring democracy to Yemen or Egypt? Lots of us, actually! In fact, anyone who actually knows the difference between fairy tales and social reality anticipated this.

To the NRA:  Copies of Mein Kampf and 10% off coupons for jackboots and brown shirts. This is how fascism begins–a bully group of well-armed thugs decides that their self-interest matters more than the well being of the masses. Fear is used to cow the populace into believing that only the thugs can save them from the savagery that the thugs themselves unleashed. The NRA at least ought to learn their tactics from a master.

To the masses: The secret ballot and instructions on how to use it to vote down thugs, fear-mongers, and assorted bullies. Also an instruction manual on pressure politics within putative democratic societies. Caveat: You actually have to use the vote and citizen lobbying power, not serenely assume that there is magic in the mere possession of them.

To the average taxpayer: A big old increase in federal levies. Go on–blame Obama. You know you want to. But you can really thank the Tea Party, which would rather make you guys pay through the nose than to tell the 1% that they actually have to pay anything substantial for the privilege of living in a capitalist society. (Of course, you might just want to use the ballot and pressure politics to fight this. See above.)

To Obama: A spine. You’ve been reelected Big Guy, so take charge. Call out the fascists and the greedy. Go ahead–impugn their patriotism and call them what they are: disloyal, self-centered, and greedy. And while you’re at it, the word “treason” is defined as “an attempt or conspiracy to overthrow or war against the government,” which is exactly what a lot of the hard right has advocated. They’re not even subtle about it. Check out the statements on violently overthrowing the government by Texan secessionists and Mississippi Tea Party leader Roy Nicholson. Order their arrests, Big Guy. Put aside Mr. Compassionate and find your inner LBJ. Kick some butt, starting with the anti-government crowd. When we go over the Fiscal Cliff, use executive powers to punish the districts of anti-government Congressmen. And remind Americans regularly why they are paying higher taxes.

To the Founding Fathers: A Rest in Peace Bill. The new law asserts that: (a) the founders were mortals, not infallible gods, (b) they were politicians skilled in ambiguous doublespeak long before the term was invented, (c) they were not clairvoyants able to foresee all future implications of the documents they wrote, and (d) they consisted of many non-denominational and non-religious individuals who would be repelled by the very idea of mixing politics and doctrine.

To politicians present and future: A current calendar and the particulars of the subsection of the Founding Fathers Rest in Peace Law. This section requires that “All members of Congress must, upon taking office, sign an affidavit stipulating that they have no idea what the founders really intended. Moreover, members of Congress are charged with making sound policy for the current time period, not 1783. No member of Congress can support measures to restore slavery, property requirements for voting, male supremacy, or repeal of the 16th Amendment.” 

And, just to lighten the mood a bit, some sports gifts:

To the Pittsburgh Pirates: A 21st consecutive year of losing baseball. Any team that would give away a top closer (Joel Hanrahan) to the Red Sox for a bust minor league pitcher (Stolmy Pimentel? Who the hell names a kid Stolmy?) and a minor leaguer (James Sand) who was a trade toss-in from another organization, simply doesn’t deserve to win.

To the Boston Celtics: A GPS pinned with the location of the Fountain of Youth, or a March dump-salaries trading session. Guess which one is more likely for this broken-down plow horse of a team?

To the National Hockey League: The demise of Gary Bettman. But which is more likely, an outbreak of democracy in the Middle East or a contagion of sanity in professional hockey? I wouldn’t bet a bag of pucks on either.    


Le Vent du Nord's Fabulous Holiday Gift

Tromper le Temps
Borealis 214
* * * * *

Reviewers are supposed to be impartial, but I can’t help myself: Le Vent du Nord is my favorite Québeçois band and has been for quite some time. We often (rightly) associate music from La Belle Province as spirited, but sometimes ragged–appropriate for the dance and party niche it fills so lustily. Le Vent du Nord is spirited all right, but it is also so accomplished that the music is as at-home in a recital hall as in a Gatineau kitchen.

To experience just how wonderful this album is, go to track ten, “Le Diable et le Fermier.” It’s Nicholas Boulerice’s entry into an ever-expanding genre of songs about commoners–in this case a farmer–who outsmart the Devil. Much of it is just thundering feet, a cappella call-and-response vocals, and instrumental drone, but you don’t need much with four singers whose harmonies are tighter than an elephant’s yoga pants. Though the song is new, it’s in synch with the throwback feel of others on the album, some of which are gleaned from 18th and 19th century songbooks, and some of which commemorate past events. In the latter category place “Lettre á Durham,” the quartet’s solemn-yet-hopeful take on an infamous British report on how to subdue Francophone rebels and their culture (and their limited success in so doing). Le vent du Nord can certainly burn the dance boards, as we hear in Olivier Demers’ frothy fiddle work on “Toujours Amant,” and in a reel titled “Le Winnebago” (named for an unfortunate vehicle rental) in which the fiddle mixes with bouzouki (Simon Beaudry), guitar (Demers), and accordion and mouth harp (Réjean Brunet). Or how some real froth–a song inspired by being stranded (poor babies!) in the famed Belgian brewing town of Chimay? And what better way to flavor it than with Boulerice cranking out a spirited hurdy-gurdy melody? You get a bit of everything on this album, including “La Soirée du Hockey,” which began life as a small protest against Canada’s decision to discontinue French-language broadcasts of “Hockey Night in Canada,” but which now has an added level of poignancy given the NHL lockout. There are also seasonal songs, songs with a bluesy feel, and songs about waiting for love, a mother’s love, and even that rarest of things in folk music–requited love (“Le Souhait”). 

Let’s just crown these guys the Kings of Québeçois music and be done with it. Thus far in the 21st century, no other band comes close to their track record of sustained excellence. Call this one un cadeau glorieux for the holidays.--Rob Weir


Hitchcock: Performances Surpass Thin Script

Directed by Sacha Gervasi
Fox Searchlight Pictures, 
98 minutes, PG-13
* * *

The first thing you should know about Hitchcock is that the film is not a biopic. It takes place entirely during the shooting of Hitchcock’s shocking masterpiece, Psycho. And it’s not really about that either; it’s really about how the distracted auteur comes to appreciate and cherish his long-suffering wife, writer/director/film editor Alma Reville. It is, in essence, a domestic drama that just happens to involve very famous people. Call it the latest installment of Tolstoy’s famous dictum: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” 

The story is set in 1959, shortly after Hitchcock’s North By Northwest had done well at the box office. A handful of critics, though, gave the film respectful-but-tepid reviews, and several openly questioned whether the then 60-year-old Hitchcock was past his prime and had recycled ideas. (Those reviews are now dismissed as absurd, and North By Northwest is universally regarded as a great film.) That criticism–and the outsized ego it bruised–forms the central existential crisis of Hitchcock.

Credit Anthony Hopkins for an astonishing portrayal of Hitchcock. Thanks to prosthetics, makeup, and a “fat suit,” Hopkins inhabits the role of Hitchcock physically as well as emotionally and intellectually. You can gift-wrap the makeup Oscars now, and in a normal year–read: one in which Daniel Day-Lewis hasn’t played Lincoln–Hopkins would be a strong candidate to win the Best Actor Academy Award. He plays Hitchcock as a tempestuous mix of egoism, jealousy, voyeurism, genius, stubbornness, insecurity, bombast, and tenderness; in other words, a walking contradiction. He has a thing for blondes, crosses the line between observer and Peeping Tom, manipulates his intellectual inferiors, drives himself relentlessly, over-fuels his various appetites, and only considers consequences when they slap him in the face. Psycho is now considered such a classic that we forget that the film only got made because Hitchcock mortgaged his mansion and funded it himself–his studio, Paramount, wanted no part of a movie based on the deeds of the Oedipal serial killer Ed Gein and only allowed Hitchcock to make it because they couldn’t figure out how to break his contract.

The second thing you need to know about Hitchcock is that even though it’s based on Stephen Rebello’s book The Making of Psycho, it’s really about Hitchcock’s relationship with his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). As Hitch grows more obsessed with his film, he also further neglects Alma, whom he comes to suspect is having an affair with half-talented writer Whitfield Cook. Do you need me to tell you that Mirren is good in the role? Of course she is, even though her part is a tad underwritten. Mirren plays Alma as the woman behind the throne–the foundation that shores up her husband’s self-doubt and the stitcher who makes random great ideas appear as seamless genius. The film plays a bit like how pundits described Bill and Hillary Clinton: you get two for one. Mirren isn’t afraid to appear mousy, and few do fierceness as well as she on the screen.

The third thing to know is that Hitchcock only works because the performances are so good. You could fly a flock of birds (get it?) through the holes in John McLaughlin’s script and, though there are snippets of witty dialogue, the film also resorts to some very cheap tricks–including insider Hitchcock jokes and contrived Ed Gein visitations–itchcok jokes–Hitto advance the story.  Luckily the cast transforms the thin (just 98 minutes) script. Hopkins and Mirren are fabulous, but most of the secondary performances are equally solid–Danny Huston as the obsequious Whitfield Cook; Scarlett Johansson as a star-struck Janet Leigh; Toni Collette as Peggy Robertson, Hitchcock’s secretary, gopher, sounding board, and sometime scapegoat; and Jessica Biel in a surprisingly controlled performance as Vera Miles. I found James D’Arcy’s portrayal of Tony Perkins a bit cartoonish, but he certainly had Perkins’ neurotic energy down.

Make no mistake; this film is no Psycho. In the hands of lesser actors, it’s probably not a very good film at all. Luckily Sacha Gervasi struck casting gold for his directorial feature debut. And it’s lucky for us as well; much like the 2008 film Me and Orson Welles, we see how powerful performances magically transform middling material into small gems.
--Rob Weir


Gun Control that Makes Sense

And so it shall be until we take logical steps.

The funerals continue and I’m already sickened by media coverage of the Newtown, Connecticut carnage. The schtick-of-the-day is for radio and TV personalities to read the roll of the dead whilst shedding tears on air. I’m sure some of them are deeply moved and maybe even think they are helping heal wounds. How trite. If the media wants to perform a true act of community service, how about beating a relentless drum for meaningful gun control until the voices of all Second Amendment Freaks drown in a pool of shame?

Instead we’re told that change is unlikely given that there are already 300 million guns in private hands. Nonsense! I agree that there are no magic or political wands we can waive to make guns disappear. This does not ipso facto mean that we can’t reduce the likelihood of a future Adam Lanza. (In the name of decency, spare me sanctimonious bullshit about arming school principals and teachers as a deterrent. That doesn’t work very well for liquor and convenience stores, does it?) Here are some steps we can take:

1. Ban all high-capacity, automatic, multi-clip weapons. The biggest load of hooey in the gun control debate is that any Second Amendment restrictions would penalize “law-abiding hunters.” So exempt deer rifles and shotguns already. But nobody who’s not in the military or on a police SWAT team needs an Uzi or any other assault weapon. For heaven’s sake if a hunter can’t bring down Bambi with a shot of two, it’s not hunting, it’s butchering.

2. Ban all future sales of handguns. Another bête noir put out by the NRA and the gun industry: Isn’t it reasonable to allow Americans to arm themselves against home intruders? You can count on your fingers the numbers of intruders stopped by gun owners during a given calendar year, but technology has rendered this debate obsolete. Ban future handguns and make it easier to buy a Taser. I’d even support easing concealed weapon laws for Tasers. Electronic stun guns occasionally kill, but mostly they don’t. Handguns are so last century.

3.  Ban Internet, catalog, gun show, and mail order gun sales. This should be a no-brainer. The intent of the Brady Bill is to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, felons, addicts, and domestic abusers. For background checks to work, they must be kept local. Non-local checks are roughly as effective as keeping minors off of porn sites because they have to check a box saying they are over 18.

4. Sell collectors non-working guns. I’m really get sick of the puffed-up claims of “serious collectors” that they collect exotic weaponry as part of their “right” to pursue their “hobbies.” Fine. Let them buy an Uzi for the wall, but make it non-functional and non-repairable.

5. Restrict ammunition. This is an angle of gun control that should be explored seriously. We now have the ability to trace ammunition by coding each round. How about background checks for ammo as well? Nobody–and I mean nobody–needs to have hundreds of rounds of ammo on hand. Restrict ammo buyers to no more than a dozen rounds at a time and require them to turn in spent cartridges before buying new rounds. You go to Wal-Mart, ask for bullets, and within seconds a national database tells the clerk how many rounds you still own. Let’s sell marked ammunition by the piece, not by the box–sort of like how most macho boys buy cigars! Hold buyers responsible for crimes committed with ammunition purchased in their name (unless reported as stolen). That would cut down on black market ammo sales.

6. Set up gun and hunting clubs. This is a very successful model in Germany. Target shooters and gun fans like the experience of firing a weapon. I don’t understand the fascination, but who can explain another’s passion? But it’s just not a good idea to be shooting dozens of rounds at tin cans in the backyard as if it were still the Wild West of 1880. So let’s set up clubs where shooters can indulge themselves safely. (There is such an establishment near me though-–frighteningly–it’s pretty close to an elementary school and it’s hard to dismiss the pop-pop-pop sounds these days.) Make entrance free and charge for the ammunition used. Account for every round, as they do in Germany. Hell, allow them to keep assault rifles-locked in vaults in off hours–for the testosterone poisoned that must shoot one of these weapons. But rule one is that no gun and no round leaves the premises.

7. Change police deadly force rules. Gun owners have a point when they say that criminals give guns a bad name. One way to reduce gun crime in America is to allow police to have a shoot-first policy when a firearm is presented. Enough with all the police tribunals… if a gun is brandished, police should take out the perp. No more kid gloves for teen gangbangers, organized crime figures, or drug dealers. If you want to play thug, be prepared to go down like one.

8. NC-17 for movies and video games featuring gun violence. One way to reduce violence is to deglamorize it. Culture takes a long time to change, but I’ve seen attitudes about gender, race, and sexual preference change dramatically in my lifetime. One of the greatest things to come out of feminism was the message–that drumbeat again–that women can do anything a man can do. It sounded odd in 1966, but at some point it sounded right! We need to tell Hollywood, TV, and game-makers that products featuring gun violence is cordoned off from the oh-so-lucrative adolescent market. Let me repeat a glib phrase I’ve used for decades: a loaded gun ought to face at least as many restrictions as a loaded penis.

9. Ban the NRA from schools. There was a time when the NRA was local guys showing teenaged boys how to handle a deer rifle safely. That was decades ago. The NRA is now simply a lobby group. Let’s treat them the same way we’d treat any other advocacy group and ban them from schools. This too would have a long-term effect in changing the culture.

10. Tell liberal weenies to get real. Violence is pervasive in the USA and there is no quick-fix that will transform society into a Kumbaya utopia. Stop proposing non-starters such as outlawing all guns. It’s an obstacle to substantive change.


Margo Rey's Bad Habit

Organica Music Group

Margo—aka/ Margo Rey, born Mararita Reymundo—has a fabulous voice. Alas, she’s not much of a singer. The Mexican-born singer wants to be a pop star in the worst way, and Habit suggests she’s succeeded. Though she’s 46, she sings with the breathless slightly nasal tones of dozens of other flavor-of-the-month “girly” Los Angeles studio singers that haunt the pop charts. Her material falls into that not-quite-R & B, not-quite-jazz, and not-quite-standard gray seam that showcases the voice, not the song. It’s the sort of look-at-me music I label diva-pop. There’s nothing inherently wrong with showcasing God-given talent, but the net effect of spotlighting vocal pyrotechnics at the expense of thoughtful interpretation is akin to watching a world-class athlete do calisthenics—you keep waiting for practice to end and the real performance to begin. By the time you’ve wended your way through the album’s 13 tracks, not a single one will stand out and Margo could have been singing about algorithms for all you’ll recall. In fact, I sort of wondered if the studio did employ algorithms during the production; the aptly named Habit uses every LA studio cliché imaginable—atmospheric guitar filler, cool-toned vibes, horn rhythm sections, vanilla bridges, and instrumentation that ascends and descends with the vocals. It’s too bad, because Margo has serious chops. I’d love to hear what she could do with a distinctive song and a demanding producer. Until that happens, toss this one in the same bin as all the other generic one-named divas—Beyonce, Brandy, Rihanna, Shakira—but toss it you should.—Rob Weir  


Newtown, Portland, Aurora: Same Old BS from the NRA and Flunky Pols

I told you so. Here's re-posting from August of this year. Once again we hear the wails, dry the tears, and wring the hands. Once again we hear the call for meaningful gun control, and once again the gun-totin' right assures us that "Guns don't kill; people kill." And once again, the only thing that changes is that more families are shattered. Click on this link of a Cheryl Wheeler song and send to every friggin' politician in America until they're shamed into doing something. Cheryl wrote this in 1997. Does anybody out there have a problem with that? I sure as hell do! Clackamas Mall and Newtown, CT in the same week. I have a problem with that too. 

Here's what I wrote about Aurora in July. Nothing happened. Who's next? 

What’s left to say? James Holmes walks into an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater armed for Armageddon and blows away a dozen people and wounds 59 others. Tragic? Of course it is, and my heart goes out to the victims and their families. Surprising? Not in the least. In fact, I predicted it–on this blog no less. Back in 2011, when Gabby Giffords and her aides were shot, I remarked that such incidents were inevitable because Americans think the Second Amendment is more sacred than the sanctity of human life. I said it when the Virginia Tech murders occurred in 2009, and I said it after the tragedy at Columbine in 1999. (It’s located just 20 miles from Aurora, by the way.) I said it again when Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, a pipsqueak who thought a gun made him a man.

I’m sure the rightwing nut jobs will try to tell us that fewer would have died in Aurora if the patrons were all packing pistols. They’ll drag out all the nostrums, such as “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” “Guns cause crime like flies cause garbage,” and “An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.” These look good on t-shirts, but it’s gauche to wear them to funerals. How about this one for a new slogan: “The N.R.A. Murdered More Americans Than Osama bin-Laden.” Catchy, eh? And true as well. Because the NRA lines politicians’ pockets and because they propagandize a naïve citizenry into thinking guns make them safer, each year more than 11,000 Americans die from gun violence–that’s more than 3 ½ bin Ladens per year, folks. But we already know and ignore these statistics, and others such as the overwhelming evidence that murder rates are highest in states where guns are most easily obtained, and that individuals are more likely to be killed in an attempted crime if they brandish a firearm. But we don’t want to hear any of this, so maybe we should applaud James Holmes for helping us reach our national murder target faster (word play intentional).

Look–here’s a guy, Holmes, who in fewer than 60 days, purchased an AR-15 assault rifle, two Glock pistols, a 12-guage shotgun, six thousand rounds of ammo, and enough chemicals and explosives to restage Bhopal, and nobodywas suspicious. Why? Because it was all legal; Holmes had no criminal record, so to raise any questions would be, according to the NRA, a dangerous intrusion of civil rights on the part of the Evil Government. (For the record, Evil Government officials, AKA/the police, generally fatally wound around 400 people a year. What a bunch of amateurs!) The Aurora massacre raises the same damn questions asked (and ignored) before: Why does any American need an assault rifle? (Up yours, collectors!) How is it an intrusion of rights to limit the number of rounds a gun can fire without reloading? Why can’t we place strict limits on sales of ammunition? (The NRA even opposes technology that would allow ammunition to be traced to its purchaser.) Why is the Second Amendment more sacred than the 18th(Prohibition), which was repealed? Yada, yada, yada….   Same questions, same funerals, same tears, same bewildered shock, same inaction….

I’ve not been following Aurora carefully–it’s like a syndicated TV show whose episodes I’ve seen so often I can recite the plot and dialogue from memory. And it will air again, and again, and again. All because we allow a terrorist organization in our midst, the NRA, to pose as a public service organization and sandbag sane political policy (gun control). All because we really don’t give a damn about Aurora, Trayvon Martin, Gabby Giffords’ aides, Virginia Tech, or Columbine. Harsh? I don’t think so. If we really cared, wouldn’t we have done something more than dry our tears and move on? 

And here's what I said in August: