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Friday Mar 16th, 2007

Fame in the Hall

"The whole idea is not to beat the other runners.
Eventually you learn that the competition is against
the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."
George Sheehan, marathon runner


Hi folks,

Patti Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week and it once again has made me start thinking about these kind of industry awards and what they are all about. (Chubby Checker threw a twister when they wouldn't invite him in.) Patti Smith questioned whether it is even appropriate for someone as contrary to the traditional music industry as she is to even accept such an establishment 'induction'. She came to the decision that it was OK and that she was accepting it - not for herself - but on behalf of all those battlers who would never be allowed anywhere near this Hallowed Hallway.

Although I admire Patti Smith very much, especially her recent social and political activism, I don't agree with her reasoning. John Lennon gave back his medal from the Queen. Paul McCartney accepted his. Both could have argued that they were accepting or rejecting the honour for the same reason. On behalf of someone else. But they weren't offered the awards on behalf of someone else. In fifty years, no one will know or care that Dolly Parton might have accepted her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame on behalf of her old grandmother, who was a hog farmer in Tennessee and sang traditional Scottish quilting songs, in the back shed, and only recorded on beeswax cylinders. They will come to the Hall of Fame and stare at Dolly's wig.
So unless one demands that they put a big SIGN up next to your wig explaining WHY you accepted the award and tell them . . . 'either I get to put the sign up or else I don't want to do it . .' - you accept this kind of award because you want it. Or don't want it. Because you believe in Fame . . . in the Hall. Or you don't.

In 1981, when I was honoured with the 3XY Radio Silver Chart Award for 'Shaddap You Face', I put on a nice suit, and my finest black reading glasses, and in my most pronounced American accent, told radio dj, Gavin Wood, up at the podium, in front of the entire Melbourne music industry, that I declined the award as a protest for the way ethnic people had been treated in Australia for the past fifty years. I turned up my nose, very British, and walked off the stage. There was a stunned silence. You could have heard a Gold Record drop. Someone whispered, 'fuck, there goes his career'. Backstage, I quickly changed my jacket, put on my white fedora, grabbed my mandolin and ran back out to the podium, fell on my knees grovelling in front of Gavin Wood, who was still standing there with his mouth open. I apologized in a broken-english Italian accent, for the 'rude behaviour of my American manager', who was the one who had declined the award, not me, as he didn't discuss it with me, and I still wanted it. It was pretty funny. (I didn't make this idea up, by the way. I adapted it from something I once saw Andy Kaufman do live.)

Thirty years ago, when I still lived in the States, I wrote a country song called, 'My Home Ain't in the Hall of Fame'. For some reason, this song has continued to resonate with many country artists in the States and it has been covered a dozen times, most recently by Texan superstar, Robert Earl Keen Jr. One of the key lines in the song though is: 'My songs don't belong on your Top Forty radio, I'll keep that old Back Forty, for my home.' Now what I never have been able to understand is this: many of the people who covered my song, released it as a SINGLE, hoping it would get Top Forty airplay and chart! What were they thinking?

Many American artists have an almost unbearable penchant for saccharin sentimentality in matters of social protest, that almost borders on depression; good folks who want to stand up and take a contrary position about things they don't agree with - but are also struggling with wanting to be LIKED and a deep desire to be accepted by the very people and institutions they are criticizing. The Dixie Chicks originally apologised for their negative rant about President Bush when outraged radio stations refused to play their music. Only recently have they re-embraced their original views as it's now more acceptable to take a public stand against the Bush administration. (Good on 'em. It's still vital to get George W Bozo off the Circus Grounds.)

Let me give another example of two recent interviews with Australian musician, Nick Cave:

"My muse is not a horse and I am in no horse race. And if, indeed, she was, still I would not harness her to this tumbrel - this bloody cart of severed heads and glittering prizes. My muse may spook! May bolt! May abandon me completely!"
Nick Cave, declining to attend the MTV Awards, Sunday Age, Mar 11th, 2007

But two days earlier, Cave said this:

"They should have given us a fuckin' AFI Award [note: for 'The Proposition' - Cave wrote the screenplay]. That was kind of fucked up. But Russell Crowe really liked it, which was good."
Nick Cave, The Age, March 9th, 2007

Judge Judy has captured Nick Cave's inner equestrian conflict succinctly with this homily: 'He doesn't know whether he's on foot or horseback!" (I suppose we can now look forward to a duet between Nick and Russell : 'Where the Wild Brumbies Grunt.')

The German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke once said that many great artists make it through adolescence keeping to the mark, head down, focused on their work, their ideals, despite protests and criticism of parents, teachers, and peers who cannot understand why they choose to live like they do. They grow into adults, being rejected by magazines, publishers, record companies, galleries . . . . . lovers. Still they keep their head down and focused. Not compromising. Then, one day far off in the future, recognition and fortune come to them. And most of them look up and are distracted.



Favourite Reader Letters of the Week

Dear Joe,
Your CD ['The Wind Cries Mary'] arrived this morning, along with five or six others from other folk . . . did you know CDs, when placed touching each other overnight, make another CD by morning. The buggers breed! . . . I'm looking forward to hearing it, and I do thank you for sending it . . . Very best regards, Richard Flohil

- "You learn very quickly there's no point moaning about the music business. We have an expression in this band: 'I do believe this was your chosen profession.' It's our way of saying, 'Shut the fuck up, you could be driving an ice-cream van.'" - Francis Rossi, Status Quo

DO NOT REMOVE. Yes you read that correctly. Keep sending your far ranging thoughts. Leo

Hi Joe,
As ever I have been enjoying your newsletter ...there have been myriads of anti-war songs written . . but thought you might like this one by another English song-writer Ron Trueman-Border. If you have the time .. perhaps you could give it a listen. Ta , Suzi
Ron Trueman-Border Website

Favourite Newsletter Removal Request of the Week
: Delete
Apologies but i'm not sure how i got on this list and today's the day for cleaning house... Rachel

Favourite Spam Ad of the Week
"The Last Hole" - $US 2995.- designer casket, with golf scenes.

Favourite Porn Spam Subject Heading of the Week
Sender: Mable Subject: You of Butt


'DIFFICULT WOMEN is a literary cabaret. Through songs and stories the duo told tales of women past, women who, in their times, were described as 'difficult' or worse, 'mad' - Frida Kahlo, Memphis Minnie, Gertrude Stein, Louisa Lawson and more. . .Lin Van Hek's ability to move from one character to another was inspiring. Dolce was brilliant on guitar and blues harp and he and Van Hek back each other superbly with their vocals. DIFFICULT WOMEN ran the gamut of emotional responses but mostly it had the crowd laughing out loud. Those who missed it, missed something grand!' Daily News

DIFFICULT WOMEN is appearing this Saturday, Mar 17th, 9 pm at Don't Tell Tom Cafe & Bar, in East Brunswick, Melbourne. Our special guest support, JO JO SMITH, is an incredibly evocative blues singer, in one of her rare Melbourne appearances. Special night!

Limited Seating so Bookings are Essential:
(03) 93881460 or email: bookbmf@vic.net.au

DifficultWomen Website


Australia: the 51st State
1 Mar 2007

In his latest article for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the remarkable servility of John Howard's government in Australia to the Bush administration - Howard is known as Bush's 'deputy sheriff' - and how this is eroding the country's freedoms.
In June this year, 26,000 US and Australian troops will take part in bombarding the ancient fragile landscape of Australia. They will storm the Great Barrier Reef, gun down "terrorists" and fire laser-guided missiles at some of the most pristine wilderness on earth. Stealth, B-1 and B-52 bombers (the latter alone each carry 30 tonnes of bombs) will finish the job, along with a naval onslaught. Underwater depth charges will explode where endangered species of turtle breed. Nuclear submarines will discharge their high-level sonar, which destroy the hearing of seals and other marine mammals.
Run via satellite from Australia and Hawaii, Operation Talisman Sabre 2007 is warfare by remote control, designed for "pre-emptive" attacks on other countries. Australians know little about this. The Australian parliament has not debated it; the media is not interested. The result of a secret treaty signed by John Howard's government with the Bush administration in 2004, it includes the establishment of a vast, new military base in Western Australia, which will bring the total of known US bases around the world to 738. No matter the setback in Iraq, the US military empire and its ambitions are growing.
Australia is important because of a remarkable degree of servility that Howard has taken beyond even that of Tony Blair. Once described in the Sydney Bulletin as Bush's "deputy sheriff", Howard did not demur when Bush, on hearing this, promoted him to "sheriff for south-east Asia". With Washington's approval, he has sent Australian troops and federal police to intervene in the Pacific island nations; in 2006, he effected "regime change" in East Timor, whose prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, had the nerve to demand a proper share of his country's oil and gas resources. Indonesia's repression in West Papua, where American mining interests are described as "a great prize", is endorsed by Howard.
This sub-imperial role has a history. When the six Australian states federated as a nation in 1901, "a Commonwealth . . . independent and proud", said the headlines, the Australian colonists made clear that independence was the last thing they wanted. They wanted Mother England to be more protective of her most distant colony which, they pleaded, was threatened by a host of demons, not least the "Asiatic hordes" who would fall down on them as if by the force of gravity. "The whole performance," wrote the historian Manning Clark, "stank in the nostrils. Australians had once again grovelled before the English. There were Fatman politicians who hungered for a foreign title just as their wives hungered after a smile of recognition from the Governor-General's wife, who was said to be a most accomplished snubber." article

(thank to Terry Dwyer)

(Note: The title of John Pilger's article also happens to be the title of a song I wrote back in the early 80s called 'If Australia Was the 51st State,' when Jimmy Carter was President, Joh Bjelke was Premier of Queensland and Australia had just won the America's Cup. It's a little bit dated now but the sentiment is still the same:)


If Australia Was The Fifty-First State
If Australia was the fifty-first state,
As American citizens, wouldn't we all be great?
There'd be mom and apple pies,
As American flags would rise,
And a Disneyland in Canberra, I can't wait,
If Australia was the fifty-first state.
There'll be Digger Hats, Vegemite and Meat Pies,
And Koalas, Kookaburras, and Wallabyes.
But they'll be there for the world to see 'em,
At the Australiana Museum,
With admission only Five dollars U.S. at the gate,
If Australia was the fifty-first state.
The President could have a summer home in Cairns,
And the U.S. Army would sure look good with tans,
Football would be the fad,
Only with helmets and shoulder pads,
And tourism would certainly escalate,
If Australia was the fifty-first state.
Jimmy Carter and Joh Bjelke, arm-in-arm,
Swappin' stories about their good 'ol peanut farms,
Australian movies would gain,
With an American actor at the rein,
And America's Cup wouldn't have to emigrate,
If Australia was the fifty-first state.
If Australia was the fifty-first state,
As American citizens, wouldn't we all be great?
There'd be mom and apple pies,
As American flags would rise,
And a Disneyland in Canberra, (or is it TOO LATE?)
If Australia was the fifty-first state.



(Musical aberration from America)


They've been called 'The Olsen Twins for Racists'. Prussian Blue are Lamb and Lynx Gaede, 12-year-old blonde twin sisters who play guitar and violin, and sing folk songs ­ about white pride. Examples of some of their song titles:: "I Will Bleed for You", 'Weiss Weiss Wiess" ('White White White'), "Road to Vahalla" and "Aryan Man Awake".

The kids released a cover of a song called "Ocean of Warriors", dedicated to white participants in the 2005 Sydney race rioting.

They were homeschooled by their mother, April Gaede, an activist and writer for the white nationalist organization, National Vanguard. The twins' grandfather wears a swastika belt buckle, uses the Nazi symbol on his truck, and has registered it as a cattle brand.


The twins explain their name: "Part of our heritage is Prussian German. Also our eyes are blue, and Prussian Blue is just a really pretty color. There is also the discussion of the lack of "Prussian Blue" coloring (Zyklon B residue) in the so-called gas chambers in the concentration camps. We think it might make people question some of the inaccuracies of the "Holocaust myth." (more below - but less would probably be better:)

Interview with Vice Magazine

'I Will Bleed 4 U' (7 mb .mp3 Takes awhile to download but it's . . . . . . . worst it! Musical child abuse.)

Further WIKIPEDIA information:
(thanks to Fiona Scott-Norman)

Superman and the Ku Klux Klan

"Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."
Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

" [mid-1940s] . . . After just a few weeks inside the Klan, [Stetson] Kennedy was eager to hurt it any way he could. . . None of Kennedy's efforts produced the desired effect. The Klan was so entrenched and broad-based that Kennedy felt as if he were tossing pebbles at a giant. And even if he could somehow damage the Klan in Atlanta, the thousands of other chapters around the country - the Klan was now in the middle of a serious revival - would go untouched.
Kennedy was supremely frustrated, and out of this frustration was born a stroke of brilliance. He had noticed one day a group of young boys playing some kind of spy game in which they exchanged silly passwords. It reminded him of the Klan. Wouldn't it be nice, he thought, to get the Klan's passwords and the rest of its secrets into the hands of kids all across the country? What better way to defang a secret society than to infantilise - and make public - its most secret information? . .
Kennedy thought of the ideal outlet for this mission: the Adventures of Superman radio show, broadcast each night at dinnertime to millions of listeners nationwide. He contacted the show's producers and asked if they would like to write some episodes about the Ku Klux Klan. The producers were enthusiastic. Superman had spent years fighting Hitler and Mussolini and Hirohito, but with the war over, he was in need of fresh villains.
Kennedy began feeding his best Klan information to the Superman producers. He told them about Mr. Ayak and Mr. Akai, and he passed along overheated passages from the Klan's bible, which was called the Kloran. (Kennedy never did learn why a white Christian supremacist group would give its bible essentially the same name as the most holy book of Islam.) He explained the role of Klan officers in any local Klavern: the Klaliff (vice president), Klokard (lecturer), Kludd (chaplain), Kligrapp (secretary), Klabee (treasurer), Kladd (conductor), Klarogo (inner guard), Klexter (outer guard), the Klokann ( five man investigative committee), and the Klaviers (the strong arm group to which Kennedy himself belonged, and whose captain was called Chief Ass Tearer.) He spelled out the Klan hierarchy as it proceeded from the local to the national level: an Exalted Cyclops and his twelve Terrors; a Great Titan and his twelve Furies; a Grand Dragon and his nine Hydras; and the Imperial Wizard and his fifteen Genii. And Kennedy told the producers the current passwords, agenda, and gossip emanating from his own Klan chapter, Nathan Bedford Forrest Klavern No. 1, Atlanta, Realm of Georgia. The radio producers began to write four weeks worth of programs in which Superman would wipe out the Ku Klux Klan.
Kennedy couldn't wait for the first Klan meeting after the show hit the air. Sure enough, the Klavern was in distress. The Grand Dragon tried to run a normal meeting but the rank and file shouted him down.
"When I came home from work the other night," one of them complained, "there was my kid and a bunch of others, some with towels tied around their necks like capes and some with pillowcases over their heads. The ones with capes was chasing the ones with pillowcases all over the lot. When I asked them what they were doing, they said they were playing a new kind of cops and robbers called Superman against the Klan. Gangbusting, they called it! Knew all our secret passwords and everything. I never felt so ridiculous in all my life! Suppose my kids find my Klan robe some day?"
. . . The Dragon suggested they change their password immediately from 'red-blooded' to 'death to traitors'.
After that night's meeting, Kennedy phoned in the new password to the Superman producers, who promised to write it into the next show. At the following weeks Klan meeting, the room was nearly empty; applications for new membership had fallen to zero."
(from Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Harper Torch NY, NY 2005)




Take a little trip through video memorabilia land with excerpts from some of the long forgotten TV shows of the 50s. Be amazed at how many of these obscure programs you remember! website
(thanks to Frank Dolce)


Running the Numbers

This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics tend to feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or $12.5 million spent every hour on the Iraq war. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. website
(thanks to Joe Creighton)



Mama's Scalloped Potatoes with Nutmeg


The Laurello Vineyard in Geneva, Ohio, has just produced a wine, Grace Dolce that they have named after my mother, who passed away recently. My sister Kathy was instrumental in making this idea happen. Here are a couple of dishes I remember my mum making when I was a kid.
(She was quite big on combining nutmeg with milk, as you can also see by the second recipe that follows. Poached Eggs in Milk on Toast, which I published back in a 2004 newsletter.) They used to serve a variation of scalloped potatoes for cafeteria lunch, during my school years, at Harvey High School, in Painesville, Ohio, sans the nutmeg, probably, and with good old American cheese. My opinion? Lose the cheese and try it this way.

5- 7 potatoes, peeled and sliced in 6 mm slices
400 ml milk
200 ml cream
30 g butter
1 large clove garlic, minced
teasp flour
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Heat oven to hot. Bring milk to a simmer. Mix the flour with the cream. Use some of the butter to butter a deep gratin dish. Layer the potatoes in 'scallops'. Between each layer, dot with butter, salt and pepper, sprinkle some garlic and grate some nutmeg. Add the cream and flour mixture to the simmering milk and stir well. Gently pour over the potatoes, put on the middle shelf of the over and reduce heat to No. 4 or 200 C. Bake slowly at this lower heat for about an hour. Check regularly. After about a half hour - 45 minutes, if the top is browning too quickly, cover with some foil. Great with a grilled t-bone, a small leaf green salad, and some freshly prepared apple sauce, made with cloves, brown sugar and cinammon.


This recipe is also one of my childhood favourites. I prefer free range eggs for this recipe but if you want an unusual edge, you can use battery chicken eggs. (All that repression, tight cage living, pecking each other's feathers out, and forced feeding and drugs they give the battery chickens, impart to the eggs that extra psychotic 'je ne sais quoi' . . . ) recipe



(Note: On my new album, 'The Wind Cries Mary', the lyrics to my song, 'Cocaine Lil', are adapted from a traditional 19th century verse that I first found in Carl Sandburg's 'American Songbag' (1927) and later re-discovered in WH Auden's 'Oxford Book of Light Verse' (1938). Many people have erroneously attributed the words to 'Cocaine Lil' as having been written by Auden, but Sandburg was the first to collect this anonymous lyric. Sandburg was also a musician and folksinger and produced several albums of folksongs.)


What Shall He Tell That Son?
A father sees a son nearing manhood.
What shall he tell that son?
'Life is hard; be steel; be a rock.'
And this might stand him for the storms
and serve him for humdrum and monotony
and guide him amid sudden betrayals
and tighten him for slack moments.
'Life is a soft loam; be gentle; go easy.'
And this too might serve him.
Brutes have been gentled where lashes failed.
The growth of a frail flower in a path up
has sometimes shattered and split a rock.
A tough will counts. So does desire.
So does a rich soft wanting.
Without rich wanting nothing arrives.
Tell him too much money has killed men
And left them dead years before burial:
The quest of lucre beyond a few easy needs
Has twisted good enough men
Sometimes into dry thwarted worms.
Tell him time as a stuff can be wasted.
Tell him to be a fool every so often
and to have no shame over having been a fool
yet learning something out of every folly
hoping to repeat none of the cheap follies
thus arriving at intimate understanding
of a world numbering many fools.
Tell him to be alone often and get at himself
and above all tell himself no lies about himself
whatever the white lies and protective fronts
he may use amongst other people.
Tell him solitude is creative if he is strong
and the final decisions are made in silent rooms.
Tell him to be different from other people
if it comes natural and easy being different.
Let him have lazy days seeking his deeper motives.
Let him seek deep for where he is a born natural.
Then he may understand Shakespeare
and the Wright brothers, Pasteur, Pavlov,
Michael Faraday and free imaginations
Bringing changes into a world resenting change.
He will be lonely enough
to have time for the work
he knows as his own.

~ Carl Sandburg ~
(The People, Yes)











An Irish priest is driving down to New York and is stopped for speeding in Connecticut .
The state trooper smells alcohol on the priest's breath and sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car. 
He says, "Father, have you been drinking?" 
"Just water," says the priest. 
The trooper says, "Then why do I smell wine?" 
The priest looks at the bottle and says, "Good Lord!  He's done it again!"