The Tribe Has Spoken


by Roxanne Tellier

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and if you didn’t look at the calendar, you’d think that Spring had sprung.

Except for in Nevada, where the Bernie Sanders romp to victory last night has half of America’s pundits tearing their hair out in despair, and the other half still picking their jaws up off the ground.

Bob Lefsetz nailed it in his Lefsetz Letter when he wrote, “Bernie Sanders wins handily in Nevada and the lead story in the “Times” is how his road forward is fraught with difficulties. That’s like focusing on LeBron’s theoretical injuries in the future as opposed to how well he is playing for the Lakers today.”

Political pundit Chris Matthews put his foot in it last night, when he claimed on his show Hardball that the GOP had oppo research on Sanders that would blow him out of the water, should he become the Democratic presidential nominee. As the Bernie votes rose, Matthews then compared Sanders’ Nevada victory to Hitler’s invasion of France.

Sanders Is a 78 year old man who lost family in the Holocaust, and is on track to be America’s first Jewish president.

Shouldn’t be too surprising that both terrestrial and social media exploded this morning with demands that Matthews resign, if not immediately commit ceremonial seppuku, to expiate his sin of having an unpopular opinion.   

Hey, I’ve had my issues with all of the delegates, including Bernie. There’s not one ‘great’ candidate on display. But in such a limited field, I can get behind Bernie, and not just in an ‘anyone but trump’ position.

I get a little peeved that Bernie can’t seem to consistently and properly describe and explain that it’s not democratic socialism, it’s social democracy. Yeah, yeah… he’s been working this side of the street forever, and I can believe he’s tired of saying the same thing over and over, but that’s how this stuff is done now, in a world where people DO have to be beaten over the head before they embrace a new thought.

(Is it the water down there? It’s gotta be the water, right?)   

In fact, Bernie would be smarter to use a term that Republicans could really get behind, and would have no real reason to undermine …  “Rooseveltism.”  In one swell foop the word evokes that cherished time when the ‘greatest generation’ worshipped FDR for ‘saving’ America.  

On January the 1st of this year, the Atlantic ran an article that said that, no matter what happens in this election, Americans will almost certainly elect the oldest president, the youngest president, or the only president to ever win re-election following impeachment. In no part of the article did it even hint that Americans would be electing a great president.

We’re in full blown BizarroWorld now.    

It’s odd, this place that both the Democratic and Republican party have come to. We’re not in Kansas anymore. The Republican party is a shell of it’s former self, having abandoned everything they ever stood for in blind loyalty to a mad man determined to suck the American treasury dry for his own gratification, before setting the place on fire and walking away. The Democratic party is beating itself up on debate stages while the Democratic National Committee is in danger of repeating it’s horrific 2016 choice to shove their preferred candidate into position, regardless of what the people profess to want.

Didn’t work then. Won’t work now. But it could spell the end of the DNC, should they try that tactic again.

And of course, all of this very expensive campaigning and jockeying for position assumes that the November elections will actually be ‘free and fair.’ That’s debatable right there. Although Congress made available over $425 million to be used to ensure election security, pretty much nothing has been done, or spent, on working towards that goal.

And every single time the House puts forward bills meant to ensure the fairness and security of the election, the Republicans in the Senate veto the bills, without offering any suggestions of their own about security.

Just from that truth, you have to see that it’s extremely unlikely that the November 3rd elections will have much to do with democracy. It’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that they will be the antithesis of fair and free.

And that’s a real pity, because I think that Americans who are watching this unfettered POTUS post acquittal are too skittish to do what they probably should be doing right this minute – rising up en masse to protest and force him out of office and into a straightjacket. 

I think that the average voter is instead saying, let’s be sensible. Let’s push this down the road. We’ll deal with it in November, when we can legally and properly vote him out of office.

And hey! I really hope that works for them. I just don’t think there’s gonna be much left of America worth voting for, nine months from now.  Not the way the madness is accelerating out of control. Trump has picked up the pace on the crazy, and turned up the fascism burner to stun.

Am I lucky or cursed, to be able to spend so much time following the news? You really couldn’t be any more jacked in to the trump administration’s insanity than I am, and I still can’t process all of the horrors that this barbaric juggernaut lays down every day. I am one person – they are an administration dedicated to only one thing – the complete annihilation of America’s institutions and foundations.

This morning I read that Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent to a recent decision made by the Court, which is now little more than a rubber stamp for Trumpian requests.  

“Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited Court resources in each. And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.”

While I understand her overall anger and frustration with the Court, the particular case she chose to present as proof was more than a little troubling. This request was to pursue something so vile and so un-American that I had originally assumed the issue would never even come to court.

The application pending litigation, the case that trump’s administration considered an emergency, was an update of the “public charge” rule. This rule is meant to help officials decide if an immigrant should be allowed to apply for citizenship and/or a green card, in consideration of whether that immigrant can prove self-sufficiency, and whether or not they might at some point in their lives become a burden on the state, by requiring any government benefits, from welfare, to health care, or social security at retirement. 

In a five to four decision, trump’s horribly xenophobic request, a condition that his own parents couldn’t have passed, passed in his favour.

I guess it’s time to melt that Statue of Liberty down, and make it into a big T for TrumpLandia to be put in its place. Underneath that, instead of the beautiful poem that offers respite and welcome to immigrants, they should place a sign that says, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. “

Every now and again I wonder if America (and the world, for that matter) is being punked. Surely these last three years of horrific assaults on common decency, made by an unprincipled, unbridled, racist, misogynist, xenophobic, senile, doddering old fool will at some point be broken by a maniacally grinning Mitch McConnell, dressed as The Joker, popping up and yelling “GOTCHA”

As it stands, all we can hope for is that this ongoing reality series has a huge blindside in the works, that will knock out our least favorite player, and send him off the island. The tribe has spoken.

Mother’s Day, CMW and This is America


mum with r and j 1960.jpg 001My mother has been gone since April of 1992 … 26 years now. There are days when it feels like we were playing a spirited game of Rummoli only yesterday, and other days when I can’t remember what it was like to have my own little family. After my mum and grandmother died just days apart in that horrible year, the tenuous link we had with Montreal was broken. While I’ve been ‘home’ a few times since then, Quebec hasn’t really drawn me back for decades.

I thought of my mum on Thursday, when I spoke with a small boy who was waiting for the bus, holding a plant pot with one pansy growing in it. He told me, with great joy, that he also had a poem written in French for her, and that he’d drawn her a card. His face lit up as he told me “she’s gonna have so many presents!

mum with r and j 1964 001There was such a lot of delight in his expression as he counted up the riches he’d prepared for his precious mother. We forget, over the years, how good it used to feel to be able to gift our loved ones with something that we’d made specially for them. It might have been a paper plate with some glittered macaroni pasted to it, or a wobbly cut out paper heart, with our shaky handwriting telling them, “I LOVE YOU,” but it was what we had to give, and we gave it from our hearts.

Mums never ask for all that much, when you’re growing up. Maybe they ask you to help with the chores, or keep your room clean, but most mums know that you’re growing and learning, and that all they can try to do is to get you from the day you are born until the day you two say goodbye, with as little heart ache and heart break as possible.

Missing my mother, and wishing my two beautiful daughters a very happy Mother’s Day.

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My butt is dragging today, even after collapsing into a solid ten hours of sleep last night. I spent the last several days doing all things Canadian Music Week, including working as a ‘day host,’ expediting the conference panelists, and getting out to a few of the events under the CMW banner. I straggled home last night from a long day at the show, followed by a scrumptious buffet at the Rivoli, where Music Nova Scotia and the Dreaming Out Loud groups were presenting the annual TIKI LOUNGE extravaganza.

CMW Greg Lefsetz et all May 2018

During the conference I spent most of my time onsite in the Speaker’s Green Room. In this pic, our long time associate Greg Simpson confers with his speaker registration aides, Sue Mills and Cassandra Tari. Behind them, propping up the wall, is Steve Lillywhite, uber producer and musician whisperer of U2, the Rolling Stones, XTC, Dave Matthews Band, Peter Gabriel, the Talking Heads and a host of other worthies, as he chats with Ralph Simon, who is is acknowledged as one of the founders of the modern mobile entertainment & content industry, and Bob Lefsetz, music industry analyst and critic, and author of the Lefsetz Letter.

In May of 2015, the last time that Bob Lefsetz had spoken at CMW, I had asked him if we could meet, so that I might interview him for this column. Although he agreed at the time, circumstances conspired, and I missed my window of opportunity.

So when I saw him seated towards the back of the Green Room on Saturday morning, I seized the day, introduced myself, and reminded him of the last time we’d almost connected. He immediately said that he’d be happy to talk with me ‘later’ – but he’d be leaving the Conference around four p.m.

So I waited patiently, hoping for a time when he might have a minute free. But shortly after Steve Lillywhite left the room, Eric Alper flew in the door and plonked himself down for a chat. Meanwhile, my duties as Day Host kept me rather busy, and I spent a lot of time getting speakers organized and then off to their panels in a timely manner. By the time I realized I’d once again missed my interview, it was about 3:10 p.m. I’d just finished introducing legendary music journalist Larry Leblanc, who was about to begin an interview with Marcie Allen, a trailblazing entrepreneur who is known as the Queen of Brands and Bands. My duty done, I set off to try and find the elusive Mr Lefsetz.

About an hour later, I conceded defeat. Apparently, this interview was not to be.

PostScript: If you are one of the many who receive the Lefsetz Letter, then you will have received his CMW wrap-up when it arrived last night. In his p.s., he mentions that he’d spend his last half-hour on the site at …. the Larry LeBlanc/Marcie Allen seminar I’d introduced.

Wrong Way Roxanne strikes again.

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We have to talk about Donald Glover/Childish Gambino‘s new video – This is America. Firmly in the tradition of protest songs such as GrandMaster Flash‘s White Lines, the song/video demands multiple, critical, and admiring viewings.

This video is almost enough to make music videos relevant again, rife with symbolism and casual observations that nail the truth of the racist gun culture that America, as distracted as a kitten by shiny strings and dance fads, chooses to ignore.

jim crow character this is americaThe main character, stripped to the waist, pulls facial expressions and uses bodily movements that seem to be modeled on Jim Crow, a minstrel show caricature, which white actors would perform in blackface, acting out black stereotypes. His movements distract from the chaos that plays out in the background, as behind him, people on cellphones film the action while ignoring the violence and rioting going on all around.

(The Jim Crow Laws were put into place after the Civil War, and were a system of racist local and state laws to keep the ex-slaves in their place, and designed to enforce segregation and oppression in the Southern American states.) this is america imageAfter both of the shootings, the guns are treated with care and respect, and gently wrapped with red cloth. The guns are valued over human lives, as the victims are either dragged away or left lying in their own blood.

Between shootings, the exaggerated dancing seems to be a commentary on how America prefers to focus on entertainment and distraction rather than to have a discussion on gun control, while dismissing the dead with an airy assurance that they are sending “thoughts and prayers.”

this is america commentIn the background of one scene, Death, riding a pale horse, and a biblical symbol for the apocalypse, gallops by, pursued by a police car. Everyone is too caught up in dancing or in their own anarchy to focus on the bigger picture of the violence going on.

In the last scene, Gambino, surrounded by vintage cars representing America’s economic stagnation, lights up a joint, and it is then – rather than during his gun rampage  – that the police begin to chase him. In the tradition of black American history, he has to run to save his life.

This Is America is a strong, artistic statement that will stand as valid commentary on today’s Divided States of America.