Saturday, March 31, 2012

Exclusive, undiluted reportage, analysis -- and satire.

Paul Iorio's blog, The Daily Digression, covers pop culture and beyond...

- Homepage:
- Paul's main music site (w/lyrics)
- MP3s of Paul's songs:
- Audio excerpts of Paul's interviews with pop culture icons &

All posted text on this website written solely by Paul Iorio.

Where people are reading this site this week (2/6/12, in descending order): United States, the U.K., Slovenia, Germany, Ukraine, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Spain, Latvia, Australia, Macedonia, Morocco.

I'm writing an online memoir that is definitely, at this point, a work in progress. You can read it, as it evolves, here:


for March 31, 2012

Remembering Harry Crews

By Paul Iorio

I studied under the novelist Harry Crews, who died a few days ago at age 76,

and got to know him somewhat in 1977 and 1978, the peak of his creativity, just

after he'd written his best novel, "A Feast of Snakes," and when he was writing

"A Childhood: The Biography of a Place."

In his creative writing classes at the University of Florida at Gainesville, he was

a big early influence on me and taught me lessons about writing that stick

with me to this day, among them:

1) Don't be boring.
2) The definition of poetry is memorable language.
3) Nothing happens unless it happens in a place.
4) Don't be boring.

His 1st and 4th commandments were on display every time you walked into

the faculty lounge or saw him after class, when he'd be telling a story to a

group that was hanging on his every word. I once walked by him and heard him say:

"And this guy has a knife to his own dick and says, 'I'm going to cut it

off for you.'"

Nobody could leave Crews when he was telling a story!

No, I didn't subscribe to the macho image of the two-fisted drinker and fightin'

novelist -- he came to class more than once with serious physical injuries

related to fights he'd been in -- but he sure did have a brilliant imagination.

And, no, I'm no expert on his oeuvre; the Crews novels I've read I read many decades

ago -- and I never really went back to them. I remember the man more vividly

than his fiction, which may be telling (or may merely show that my own aesthetic

tastes run in another direction).

Crews knew great writing whether it came from the bread trucker driver, a Pulitzer

winner or a pop song. I remember hanging out at the Windjammer bar with him

in Gainesville when Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up in Blue" came over the speakers.

Crews said, "This guy's special. 'The past was close behind' -- great line."

Of course he'd love such a Faulkneresque line.

The rumors about Crews in those years were absolutely wild -- and who knew

how many were true? One myth had it that he had been brutally stomped

by the mafia after writing a non-fiction expose. Another said he had experimented

with L.S.D. and heroin. I was never able to confirm either.

He encouraged me in my writing and liked one of my comedies called

"Bruises After Dark," which he read in front of his creative writing class in

1978. And, much to my surprise, the audience roared with laughter, people

gave me high fives -- they really enjoyed it. Wow!

The last time I ever saw him was after a speech he gave at the

University of South Florida in Tampa. After the lecture, I decided to go

out to the parking lot to say hello. But as soon as I saw him, and smelled

the booze, I knew that wouldn't happen. He was so drunk he could

not stand up; two friends of his were lifting him by the arms through

the lot as Crews said, with real fear in his voice: "The cops are

gonna come! The cops are gonna get me!"

"Don't worry, Harry, this is Florida, this isn't Texas," one of his

friends assured him as they carried him to a car.

"The cops are gonna get me! The cops are gonna get me!," Crews


And that's the last time I ever saw him.


for March 27, 2012

Kurt Cobain died 18 years ago next week. Here's a shot I

took for The Washington Post of Cobain's last house (with

that great lake in the background). It just occurred to me

that nobody under 26 has a contemporaneous memory of the

release of "Nevermind."

* * * * *

The mood in Berkeley, where I live, in recent days has been not

nice. Yesterday, some old white guy on the street shot a bird at

me. And I retorted with, "And a fist bump to you, too!"

* * * *

In recent years, there's been too much self-interested

activism. People are against injustice only when it affects

them, it seems.

I mean, can you imagine Al Sharpton and his supporters marching

through the Castro in favor of gay marriage? (So far-fetched, it's

almost funny!) Conversely, can you imagine gay activists

demonstrating in El Barrio against xenophobic immigration laws? Or

Italian-Americans rallying against Puerto Rican defamation?

It wasn't always that way. In the Sixties, everybody took on

each other's causes. Civil rights activists spoke out frequently

against the Vietnam War. Anti-war activists would march in

favor of civil rights. In the Seventies, I leafletted and

wrote for Cesar Chavez (though I'm not Hispanic), spoke out

for civil rights (though I'm not black), openly supported

gay rights (though I'm not gay) and condemned anti-Semitism

(though I'm not Jewish).

Today, there's simply too much identity politics

going around.

* * * * *

Saw "Four Lions" the other night and enjoyed it immensely!

It's been described as a Spinal Tap for jihadists, which

is what it is. Very funny. Scandalous that it wasn't

widely distributed in the U.S. (Btw, a neighbor was

quite hostile to me for no reason while I watched the

flick (at a reasonable volume). Hmmm. Is there actually

someone who would be offended by a satire of suicide

bombers? Coincidence?)

* * * * *

Remember Elton John's free concert in Central Park in 1980?

When I think back on it, I remember two things most vividly:

1) people dancing together spontaneously as he did

"Philadelphia Freedom" and 2) this song, played early in

the set, which truly rocked the green. (It was his birthday the

other day!)

* * * *

If you want to roll over Beethoven's middle string quartets

in a rush to praise his overpraised (but great) late quartets,

you can do so without me. I prefer his late middle ones,

particularly the so-called Serious Quartet. Most of his later

ones, frankly, sound like he's hashing out ideas that were

later and better used in the 9th symphony. Anyway, the Guarneri

does it best.

But I digress. Paul



for March 8, 2012

Many thanks to Marshall Stax for playing my new song

"Three-Legged Chair" a couple days ago on KALX Radio!

Also, the tune has just re-entered the alternative chart

at at #48 (it had hit #11).

The song is the title track of my new full-length album,

"Three-Legged Chair (and 13 other songs)." Listen to he online

edition, below:

Click here to hear the MP3s of all 14 songs on
"Three-Legged Chair":

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Btw, happy birthday to Marshall Stax! (His birthday

is in March but don't know the exact date!)



for Feburary 25, 2012

The Oscar winners revealed! Here's who will win tomorrow night:

The Artist

Jean Dujardin

Viola Davis

Michel Hazanavicius

Christopher Plummer

Octavia Spencer

Woody Allen

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash

* * * * *

The basic facts about my long-ago "About Myself" album are

(clearly) unclear to some people. The facts are these: I

wrote and released "About Myself" as a cassette tape-only

album in 2004. A year later, an old friend I hadn't seen

in 30 years, William Epps, heard my album, liked it and said

he'd fund a recording session so I could release it on CD. So he

put the CD edition of the album in motion financially, not

creatively. The album had been written and released long

before William came on board. And he hasn't been involved

in my work in any capacity since then (though he remains

a financial investor by dint of the fact that he funded

those long-ago sessions).

But I digress. Paul



for February 10, 2012

Even though I posted my new song "Three-Legged Chair" on

Soundclick only an hour before its charts were compiled last

night, it still entered the alternative chart at #58! People

seem to like this one more than some of my others. The MP3 is

streaming free here:

Btw, this is a wholly 2012 song! In very early January,

the track began as a pure rhythm that I came up with (the

scratch overdub that you hear). By January 10, I had written

and developed a melody and lyrics to go with it. And then

I refined it from there.

Someone asked who I did this with. All I can say is, I'm

flattered! Because this is as solo as it gets. I mean, I

even pushed the start button on the recorder! Every sound

you hear, I made; every note and word you hear, I wrote.

But I digress. Paul



for February 6, 2012

Finally saw "The Artist" yesterday -- and then saw it again.

The first time around, I didn't like it much. The second time,

it clicked, I loved it. An extraordinary work. It sort of unfolds

like a dream from early childhood vaguely remembered, or a

series of faded sepia photos of great grandparents. And Dujardin

is a marvel, a pleasure to watch. Not sure whether it's

the best or the third best film of the year (after "The

Tree of Life" and "Midnight in Paris"), but it'll surely

win the best picture Oscar later this month. Solidly in

league with artfully crafted filmic classics like "Citizen

Kane" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo."

* * * *

The telling thing about Superbowl ads is there's not been

one that has resonated down the decades the way classic

non-Superbowl commercials like "I can't believe I ate the

whole thing" or Apple's Think Different ads have. Almost

every Superbowl spot reeks of an ad shop trying wayyy too hard.

The ads express little more than forced inspiration and the

false sense by copywriters that they can will a memorable

30-second spot into existence. They can't.

But I digress. Paul



for February 3, 2012

OK, here's a new song I wrote a few weeks ago and recorded

two days ago. It's called "Sun Don't Set (in the Middle of

the Sky)" -- and I'll be releasing it in the near future.


Sun Don't Set (in the Middle of the Sky)
Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2012

Lonny owned a clipper ship
That had a driftwood face
You know he was a patriot
For whatever nation paid

If he had allegiance, boys
He never said who to
He'd always take his paycheck
From whoever gave him loot

[If he had allegiance, boys, at all]

I say
The sun sets in the west
You say
The sun sets in the east

But I won't compromise
The sun don't set in the middle of the sky

Sun don't set in the middle of the sky
Sun don't set in the middle of the sky
I won't compromise
Sun don't set in the middle of the sky

We went to the Canaries
Where only locals sail
He had a scene with a girl in Madeira
I guess he was trying to guess her weight

Headed to the Antilles where
There was gold along the glade
But don't go by Jackson island
It's run by a new a family and they're crazy

[A new family runs it and they're crazy, I'm tellin' ya!]

I say
The sun sets in the west
You say
The sun sets in the east

But I won't compromise
The sun don't set in the middle of the sky

Lonny knows the shortcuts
There's one even he won't try
(I said) "Why not take the coastal route"
(He said) "That route is classifed"

They told me not to sail so north
It's a diplomatic swamp
I said, "That's international waters/
I can go there if I want"

[I'll go there if I damn want]

I say
The sun sets in the west
You say
The sun sets in the east

But I won't compromise
The sun don't set in the middle of the sky

Sun don't set in the middle of the sky
Sun don't set in the middle of the sky
I won't compromise
Sun don't set in the middle of the sky

Sun don't set in the middle of the sky
Sun don't set in the middle of the sky
I won't compromise
Sun don't set in the middle of the sky

But I digress. Paul



for January 26, 2012

Newt is actually worried about the Chinese taking over the moon.

He mentioned it twice in tonight's debate. Clearly, he's

phobic and delusional, or at least appears that way.

Meanwhile Romney increasingly resembles the genteel and

fearful suburban neighbor of Tony Soprano...


for January 25, 2012

I saw Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" last night and

liked it a lot. And there's one scene that's an instant

classic: when German and British soldiers take a break

from battle to cut a horse free from barbed wire. Touching,

brilliant. It's also Spielberg's most painterly film; the

hilly landscapes look like a Cezanne, the sky like a

Veronese. We see blue on lighter blue, clouds the way

they looked in childhood and the visual difference

between smoke and fog when the two are mixed. I recommend

this movie, though I do feel funny about a war film in

which your strongest feelings are evoked by a horse,

not a person. But (somehow) Spielberg makes it work.

But I digress. Paul



for January 22, 2012

Well, Mitt Romney has done the impossible. In a single

week, he has managed to lose two separate electoral contests,

even though there was only one election! A hat trick has

suddenly turned into 1 and 2. Dynamite was strapped to

Gingrich -- but it blew up Romney instead. Go figure!

OK, I'm willing to be bold here: Gingrich will win Florida.

Why? Because I can't imagine even one panhandle Republican

voting for Mitt and his pork rinds. I mean, this is a

state that recently elected the nation's most right-wing

governor, Rick Scott. And it has a longstanding tradition

of occasionally veering ultraconservative (remember '72,

when George Wallace actually won the Democratic presidential


Further, Jeb Bush's possible endorsement and a dollar will

get Mitt a cup of coffee at Starbucks. It will mean as

much as Nikki Haley's did in S.C, which is to say, nada.

On the GOP side, it's beginning to look a bit like Hillary

versus Barack, the anointed favorite of the party establishment

versus the longshot with grassroots appeal.

Also, I bet there may be a panicky third-party bid by a

moderate Republican trying to stave off a Goldwater/McGovern-level

defeat in November. There may be -- who knows? -- a moderate

Republican with the stature of, say, Christie who enters

the race late as an independent. That would create a 3-way

similar to some of the Senate races of 2010 (e.g. Murkowski

versus Miller versus McAdams; Crist versus Rubio versus Meek).

In the pres race, that might mean: Obama versus Gingrich

versus a moderate independent, which would equal an Obama win!

Electorally, Gingrich may play out like Goldwater, but

stylistically he's increasingly like a white-collar

George Wallace. (He also seems to have adopted a bit

of the brashness of Michael Moore.) All that will play

well in the primaries, but not the general.

But I digress. Paul



for January 14, 2012

When it comes to political candidates, nice is nice, but honesty

is far more preferable. Like many politicians, Mitt Romney has the

nice part down, but he really has problems telling the truth. His

most notable lies date back to the previous campaign, when he claimed

to have seen his dad march with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a

claim later exposed as bullshit. As a journalist, I always get

suspicious when someone's story has a lack of specificity in

terms of date, place and details that can be independently

corroborated. Read about Mitt's fib here:

* * * *

As the great Meryl Streep's new movie is released, here's a song

that sums up what I think about Thatcher, the character she plays,

and Thatcher's disrespectful policies toward the working poor:

* * * *

With Ed Sanders' new book being released, what a better time to

revisit the classic episode of "Firing Line" in which Sanders

appears with a very drunk Jack Kerouac. What impresses me is

Sanders' discipline in dealing with Kerouac's hostility by not

firing back. Sanders' behavior here has been sort of been a

role model since my teens. (I thought of this clip when I

ignored a screaming reporter at an O.J. Simpson courtroom

appearance. And I thought of it a few years ago, when I was

sitting next to someone at an event who asked me the same

question 3 times in 2 minutes (and I answered her 3 times

in 2 minutes); the 4th time, thinking of this, I ignored her. )

* * * *

I was down in Mexico for The Washington Post some years

ago -- on presidential election day, no less! -- and shot

this photo. Those flyers on the wires are campaign signs,

btw. (I must admit my Italian didn't get me very far there!)

Anyway, there's a new election there this summer and a real

possibility that a woman -- Josefina Vázquez Mota -- might

actually become the next president of Mexico (though Nieto

is the frontrunner). Global power is really gonna shift

this year, as almost every major country has a presidential

election (China, Russia, France, you name it).

But I digress. Paul



for January 4, 2012

Time for some Rick Santorum jokes. Here're a few I came up

with this morning:

Santorum has become rather extreme on the abortion issue. He just
called masturbation "the murder of an unborn child."

* * * *
Santorum believes home schooling can effectively educate students.
Of course, he also thinks Jonah once lived inside a whale.

* * * *

Santorum actually questioned his own fundamentalist views the
other day. Watching Gingrich fall like a rock in the polls has
made him think Galileo might have been right all along.

* * * *

OK, here's my list of the best feature films of 2011:

1. Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life"
2. Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris"
3. Larysa Kondracki's "The Whistleblower"
4. Duncan Jones's "Source Code"
5. George Clooney's "The Ides of March"
6. Neil Burger's "Limitless"
7. Paolo Sorrentino's "This Must Be The Place"
8. Lars von Trier's "Melancholia"
9. Paul Feig's "Bridesmaids"
10. tie: Bennett Miller's "Moneyball" and Greg Mottola's "Paul"

Worst movie of the year: Joel Schumacher's "Trespass"

* * * * *

Rick Santorum, Mullah Omar and other advocates of theocracy

are always talking about respect for religion, but they don't

show any respect for those who don't believe in theism. Have

theocrats ever considered what a vast insult to non-theists it

is to have "under god" in the Pledge of Allegiance?

But I digress. Paul



for January 2, 2012

Here's my prediction of tomorrow's Iowa vote results.

I risk being wrong, of course!)

Ron Paul -- 23%
Mitt Romney -- 22%
Rick Santorum --20%
Newt Gingrich -- 10%

Why do I think this? Because the zeitgeist is against Santorum.

Voters are very angry in 2012. They want the hard stuff (Ron Paul),

not a nice little boy (Santorum). Santorum is peaking, but he has

too far to go. And evangelicals are split.

P.S. -- Remember, the final 25% will be divided not just between

Bachmann and Perry, but also between Buddy Roemer, who has a

small but enthusiastic following; non-competing candidates

Huntsman and Cain; "No Preference" (for protest voters!) and "Other."

* * * *

I just saw a very good film called "This Must Be the Place,"

starring Sean Penn, slated for release in the States in March.

Think of a goth/glam version of Michael Jackson. That's Penn's

character. Plot is this: After the death of his dad, who spent

time in Auschwitz, Penn's character gets caught up in tracking

down the Nazi who abused his father back in the day. (Let's

just say the ending is very, very, uh, cold.) But the film would

work even without the compelling plot. I mean, even the minor

characters are well-drawn, intriguing, atypical. And the dialogue

has plenty of memorable lines ("In order to survive, you really

have to know the person who is trying to kill you"). Penn has a

great way of avoiding his own personal reflexes so that he can

create a portrait of someone very much unlike himself. Also,

terrific performances by David Byrne, Frances McDormand and

Judd Hirsch. I can't help but wonder why this wasn't given

an Oscar qualifying release in '11.

* * * *

I saw "The Descendants" the other day -- and so I have to disagree with

people with whom I usually agree. I expected to like it, but did

not. The reason it's so bad is because the characters are either

one-dimensional, typical or caricatures. Like many other plot-driven

(as opposed to character-driven) films, it succeeds at the level

of craft, fails at the level of art. But even its plot has serious

lapses (e.g., it's not even remotely believable that Brian,

confronted with no evidence whatsoever, would readily confess

to having had an affair with Elizabeth). So it fails as

entertainment, too. Also, it's difficult to have feelings

for the comatose wife when we know absolutely nothing about

her (except that she's in a coma in a hospital bed). And

during the last half, with the brain-dead patient still

there, still not unplugged, I felt like the great Elaine Benes

while watching "The English Patient," wanting to scream,

"Just die already!!" Unfortunately, the movie dies (but

continues on) long before the patient does.

But I digress. Paul



for December 29, 2011

Best lede of the day: "What sort of doofus shoots a gun in the

air?" That, from Mike Sugerman of the CBS affiliate in San

Francisco. Kudos to Mike! (When I was writing for Spy magazine,

I remember someone did an excellent article about how Iraqi soldiers

used to fire guns in the air in celebration -- and the consequences

were invariably lethal. It really does take a doofus to celebrate

that way!)



for December 28, 2011

Forty years ago this week, Stanley Kubrick
unleashed a monstrous masterpiece, a movie
with real yarbles!
"Billy Goat Billy Boy...How are thou, thou
globby bottle of cheap stinking chip-oil.
Come and get one in the yarbles, if you
have any yarbles, you unic jelly thou."


for December 27, 2011

Unless Ron Paul is caught with Bruno in a hotel room

again, he'll likely be the winner in Iowa on Tuesday.

After that, Romney'll probably take New Hampshire, but

the headline will be: Ron Paul comes in a

surprisingly strong second. After that, in the

southeast and interior west, Gingrich will likely

rack up most of the delegates. (Failing to get on the ballot

in a state or two won't hurt Gingrich, because he's

running for king, not president.) Meanwhile, ominously,

Donald Trump has quietly changed his affiliation from

Republican to independent. Hasn't changed his name to

Perot yet. (Btw, all these predictions may soon be proved

wrong by, uh, the future.)

^ ^ ^

Are Republicans actively trying to sow division among Democrats

during this election season? I don't know. But certainly, they'd

like nothing more than to have Dems bickering among themselves

just as the voting begins. I got a robo-call the other day from

someone pretending to be from some committee to nominate Hillary

Clinton for president. Couldn't track the source. But frankly, it

sounded like some sort of dirty trick from a Republican

organization that wants to create the impression that the Dems

aren't united. And then today, on a local level -- and this may have

nothing to do with someone trying to divide Dems, or it

might -- people seem to be resurrecting a divisive incident

that happened in Berkeley almost two years ago (and has long since

faded). For no apparent reason, the issue has somewhat re-emerged,

causing natural allies to become a bit adversarial. Smart adults

should know: don't bite bait.

But I digress. Paul


for Christmas Eve 2011

Merry Christmas Eve to all who celebrate it!


BTW, here's a funny piece I recently wrote that you might enjoy.

It's called "The Madrassas High School Yearbook Parody," based,

of course, on the great "National Lampoon High School Yearbook

Parody." Enjoy it here:



for December 16, 2011

Sorry to hear about the death of Christopher Hitchens.

On religious issues, he was a few hundred years ahead

of his time. The mainstream will sound like him on that

subject around 2275.



for December 15, 2011

In the How Low Can You Go Department: I've heard of

a lot of unscrupulous tactics by medical professionals

over the years, but here's a new one. A dentist or

doctor overcharges a patient out of the blue -- and

when the patient disputes the charge, the dentist/doctor

uses the In Case of Emergency contact information to

harass the patient's loved one.

Hey, I'm not certainly not referring to Henry Yang, DDS,

of Berkeley, California, my former dentist! (Why would

I be referring to him?)

But I digress. Paul



for December 12, 2011

I just saw the movie "J. Edgar" and here's what I think.

First, let me say I generally love the work of Clint Eastwood

and Leonardo DiCaprio, but this time they missed. DiCaprio sounds

too much like JFK with a speech impediment, though his portrayal

of the older Hoover is masterful and thoroughly credible, even

if it sometimes seems like an imitation of Fredric March.

Further, around 100 minutes into the film, we're still only up

to 1964. And Eastwood has period details wrong, too (e.g., in the

film, MLK's "I Had a Dream Speech" happens after the JFK

assassination; Nixon's inauguration occurs before MLK is shot;

etc.). Which is jarring, if you actually lived through the era.

And it doesn't even touch on the Watergate scandal, which (in real-life)

brought Hoover and Nixon into confrontations full of high drama.

Eastwood inexplicably ignores Hoover's transgressions of the Sixties

and Seventies that almost made the U.S. look like a tyranny for a

time. To many in my age group, if not in Eastwood's, Hoover's violations

of the civil liberties of citizens who opposed government policy eclipsed

whatever he accomplished in establishing an organization that, for all

intents and purposes, had already been established and was already

evolving toward what it would become.

All told, the flick is disorganized, flabby, poorly paced, badly

edited. In movie history, it ranks just beneath Oliver Stone's


* * * *

OK, here're a few (dreadful!) jokes I came up with the other morning:

Rick Perry was asked about his IQ the other day. And he said, it's
"20/20, with a little stigmatism."

* * * *

I'm not saying the Chinese government is still persecuting dissident
Ai Weiwei. But the police did catch him littering the other day -- in
his own apartment!

* * *

Iran recently executed a woman with an IQ of 73 and the mental
capacity of a 13-year-old -- or as Ahmadinejad put it, "an intellectual."

But I digress. Paul



for December 7, 2011

This morning I heard the great news that the Mats, the Monkees,

Squeeze, Beefheart, Steppenwolf and Warren Zevon had been

inducted into the RnRHOF. Then I woke up.



for December 3, 2011

I worked for George McGovern's campaign in August 1972,

when I was 15. At his headquarters, I met friends who

I still know, and they'd give me a ride there and back.

I even heard him speak at a university; I loved his anti-Vietnam

war stance, but thought him a bit boring (I remember he kept

using the phrase "lock, stock and barrel"). Come November,

McGovern was, of course, buried in what was essentially a

crooked election. (Opposition candidates were illegally

undermined by Nixon, as we all know.) Now comes news that

McGovern is recovering from a fall. All I can say is:

Get well soon! [my photo of Andy Warhol's "Vote McGovern," '72.]

But I digress. Paul



for December 2, 2011

Trending on FB, Twitter: people naming themselves

"Occupy" (e.g., John Occupy Doe). Will parents start

naming kids born in '11 Occupy?

* * * *

My new song "Current Events" now on the Soundclick alt

chart, following airplay on KALX the other day. Hear here:

* * * *

Rolled out of bed with a terrific original melody in my

head the other morning. (That sentence would sound so

pretentious if it weren't merely descriptive.) Preserved it

on tape immediately. Played it back this morning. Love it.

No lyrics yet. It'll be one of my 2012 songs, no doubt...

* * * *

Bachmann wants school libraries to include more wholesome

books -- like that heartwarming tale about the father who

put a knife to his son's throat in the story of

Abraham and Isaac! (Hey, call me old-fashioned, but

if I ever saw anybody's dad holding a blade to his kid's

neck for any reason, I'd call 911 and Child Protective Services

in a flash.)

BTW, it goes without saying that some of the greatest novels and films

of all time are full of extreme violence and marvelously twisted

imagery (see: "King Lear" and "Crime and Punishment," for starters).

I'm just saying the religious right shouldn't pretend

the Bible is more wholesome and morally correct than it actually is.

But I digress. Paul



for November 30, 2011

Look what I found in my closet: an audiotape of an

unpublished one-on-one interview I conducted with Kate Bush

in a Manhattan hotel room in December 1985. Here's a rough edited

transcription of the Q&A. (Not a word of this has ever

been published, though I did use around a hundred words

of the conversation in a magazine piece I wrote in January

1986; but none of those words are included here.)



for November 28, 2011

Wow! KALX just now played two of my brand new songs,

"Incitin' a Riot" and "Current Events." Many thanks to

Marshall Stax and KALX! And "Incitin' A Riot" has

already gone to #11 on Soundclick's alternative chart,

my 2nd best showing ever!Have fun and hear it here

(w/another new Paulsong, "Botswana"):



and here's "CURRENT EVENTS":




for November 28, 2011

I've just gotten word from the great Marshall Stax that

he'll be playing something from my new "Incitin' a Riot" e.p.

tonight on KALX between 6 and 7pm! Check out the stream at



for Thanksgiving 2011

Ah, Thanksgiving, celebrating the day Jesus was born!

And if you're a little nervous about driving home from

the turkey dinner, just swig some vodka to calm down

before getting behind the wheel!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



for November 21, 2011

OK, folks, here's the online edition of my new e.p. "Incitin'

a Riot," which I'm releasing today!

First, the MP3s and then the lyrics:








Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

I'm incitin'
(Incitin' a riot)
I'm incitin'
(Incitin' a riot)
(Incitin' a riot)

Can't afford food
My future's screwed
Don't I count too?

I did my best, I finished school
Tried to live by the golden rule
Got a job, worked till I drooled
The system treated me like a fool

Incitin' a riot
Incitin' a riot
Incitin' a riot

They wanna give me insurance and pills
Unless I become seriously ill
They say my house is under water
Just lost my job to the boss' daughter

Got nothin' to lose
I'm turnin' to booze
I lose if I choose

So I'm incitin'
(Incitin' a riot)
(Incitin' a riot)
(Incitin' a riot)

Incitin' a riot
Incitin' a riot
Incitin' a riot

NOTES ON "INCITIN' A RIOT": Inspired by the Occupy movement, I wrote
this on November 1st and recorded it on November 7th of this year -- it
came very quickly. Already has been #11 on the Soundclick alternative
chart. Influences here: Clash, Sex Pistols, Stones, Dylan, Nick Lowe.

* * * * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

Diddley diddley dum
Diddley diddley dum

Wah wah weeeee!
Wah wah weeeee!
Wah wah weeeee!

Diddley diddley dum
Diddley diddley dum

Wah wah weeeee!
Wah wah weeeee!
Wah wah weeeee!

Whatcha gotta do to make the sky fall down?
Whatcha gotta do to stop the world goin' 'round?
'Cause how things are ain't the way they should be
I guess you can call me revolutionary

Whatcha gotta do to make the sky fall down?
Whatcha gotta do to stop the world goin' 'round?
'Cause how things are ain't the way they should be
I guess you can call me revolutionary



NOTES ON "BOTSWANA": Sort of folk funk. Sort of me doing a Larry
Grahamish-riff and then segueing into rap. By the way, it has
nothing to do with Botswana; I just liked the sound of the word!

* * * * *


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

Well, these current events got me wondering
Just what I'm doin' without you
Well, these current events got me wondering
Just what I'm doin' without you

If you wanna fly away
I won't try to dissuade
I ain't lookin' to stop you

If you wanna run away
You can walk out today
The door's open just for you
And you can walk right through

Well, these current events got me wondering
Just what I'm doin' without you
Well, these current events got me wondering
Just what I'm doin' without you

I'd better make you mine 'cause we're runnin' out of time
The clock's ticking down the years
One day we'll be old so we'd better be bold
Don't waste your time on tears
Time is best spent here

Well, these current events got me wondering
Just what I'm doin' without you
Well, these current events got me wondering
Just what I'm doin' without you

What am I doin' without you?
What am I doin' without you?
What am I doin' without you?

NOTES ON "CURRENT EVENTS": McCartneyesque folk, inadvertently
inspired by a Facebook friend who recently used the phrase
"current events."

* * * * *


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

Welcome to the American nightmare
Dreams written in invisible ink
Gonna see my friends out in New York City
Hopin' that their boats don't sink

Well, I was riding through the mountains of Spain one time
Trying to bait a hook for a sink and a line
I wasted so much time
Just to find the American night lasts all day
American night lasts all day
American night lasts all day

Welcome to the American nightmare
Take your seat in the very last row
When they finish eating the banquet
You can have the scraps that rich people throw

Well, I was riding through the mountains of Spain one time
Trying to bait a hook for a sink and line
I wasted so much time
Just to find the American night lasts all day
American night lasts all day
American night lasts all day

Night falls, day's done
Night falls, day's done

Well, I was riding through the mountains of Spain one time
Trying to bait a hook for a sink and a line
I wasted so much time
Just to find the American night lasts all day
American night lasts all day
American night lasts all day

I wasted so much time
Just to find the American night lasts all day
American night lasts all day
American night lasts all day
American night

NOTES ON "AMERICAN NIGHT (LASTS ALL DAY)": I came up with the melody
for this many years ago, but wrote the lyrics last month.



for November 16, 2011

My new song "Incitin' a Riot" has just hit #11 on Soundclick's

alternative chart! Listen hear:

And many, many thanks to those -- including the folks at

Occupy Liverpool, Occupy London and Occupy Dublin -- who

have written to me about it or "liked" it on Facebook!

But I digress. Paul



for November 15, 2011

Somewhat interesting commentary by the usually brilliant

Victor Navasky in last Sunday's NYT about the reprehensible

attack against Charlie Hebdo by right-wingers. But I have to

take issue on two points: 1) Dukakis-like, Navasky doesn't

show appropriate outrage about the crime. Nowhere in his piece

does he say it is wrong to bomb a newspaper building because

of a difference of opinion. He also doesn't note that the

people who did it are scumbags. 2) He and many others fail

to see that secularists and non-theists are minorities as

persecuted as the ones he cites in his piece.

* * * *

My brand new song "Incitin' a Riot" hit #55 on the

Soundclick alternative chart yesterday (out of around

20,000 posted songs!). I was going to keep it online

for just a few days, but people seem to be enjoying it,

so I'll leave it online for now. Hear it here:

* * * *

A few jokes I came up with last night:

Newt Gingrich is trying a more populist tack lately. He now says
he stands in solidarity with the 19%.

At his press conference on sexual harassment claims,
Herman Cain asserted his right to peaceably dissemble.

Herman Cain actually has a very decisive policy toward
Libya; he says no Libyan should ever be charged if his
or her pizza is not delivered within a half hour.

* * *

Loose thoughts: Just saw the DVD "Prince & The Revolution,

Live in Atlanta, Purple Rain Tour, 1985." Amazing.

Prince was as lithe as a cartoon character back then.

He'd be the successor to James Brown, if he weren't

already the successor to Sly Stone....Last night, I saw the

first holiday lights of the season in my neighborhood: deep

purple, dark blue, ultra-red....While shaving this morning,

it occurred to me that nobody really invented the wheel.

There've always been round things (like boulders) that

have existed in nature. The innovation came when someone

repurposed the wheel for a practical use...

* * *

I know, everyone's thinking about Iran right now. And a nuclear

Iran would be unthinkable. But then again, everyone said the

same thing before Pakistan got nukes. And before Pyongyang got

'em. Truth is, a nation is only as dangerous and crazy as its

leader. If Mousavi ran Iran, it wouldn't be so belligerent.

If a right-wing extremist assumed power in Moscow, Russia would

be more of a threat than Iran. As we all know, Germany was the

most dangerous nation on Earth -- when Hitler ran it. Under

Merkel, it's a friend. We're probably not going to be able

to stop Iran from getting nukes any more than we were able

to stop Pakistan and North Korea. What we can do is help

support the rise of Mousavi and other moderates. Even then,

we'd still have to hope a psychopath doesn't rise to power

in another nuclear nation.

* * * *

The other night, had a fun time watching a DVD called

"James Brown: 1956 - 1976," a '76 collection of his live

performances. Awesome versions of "Out of Sight,"

"Please Please Please," rearranged "Sex Machine." Looks

like he, not Jackson, invented the Moonwalk! If Brown were

just dancing, without a note of music being played, I'd

still watch him. Every movement and twitch, so rhythmically sure.

But I digress. Paul



for November 12, 2011

Just recorded a rough version of my brand new song "American

Night (Lasts All Day." Listen here:



for November 8, 2011

For a few days only, I'm giving readers of my blog a preview of

my brand new song "Incitin' a Riot," which I wrote a week ago and

recorded today. I'll release the final version later this year

(after physical CDs go out to selected DJs and others). Hear

it here now:

UPDATE, 11/9: Just fixed the link, so listen away! "Incitin'..." has
just entered the Soundclick alternative chart at #119, even though
I'd posted it only an hour before the daily chart was compiled.

But I digress. Paul



for November 2, 2011

I once interviewed the late great Richard Pryor and got the

sense that almost nothing was out of bounds for him, that

he might say almost...anything. Of course, that's the only

way great humor and satire flourish. Freedom is humor's main


But now I'm reading the awful and infuriating news about

a refreshingly irreverent newspaper in France that just

got firebombed by right-wingers, Charlie Hebdo. The paper

has survived Charles De Gaulle, who once banned the paper

back in the day. It has outlasted the authorities who tried

to quash the Days of Rage in Paris. But today, sadly, the

paper has been virtually destroyed, at least temporarily,

by intolerant conservative militants.

My sincere sympathies to my colleagues at Charlie Hebdo. Let's

hope the Paris PD finds the scumbags who did it and puts them

in prison.

But I digress. Paul



for October 26, 2011

Dystopian is the first word that came to mind when I saw

the Occupy Oakland encampment, which cops and tear gas cleared

out last night. While the Occupy Berkeley events have been inventive,

and the Occupy San Francisco ones full of diversity, the Oakland

encampment...well, you would have had to see it to believe it. 150 tents

in a small square. The place was being overrun by rats. Looked like

a movie set for "Escape From Oakland." And the adversely affected

tenants and shopkeepers in the neighborhood, who undoubtedly

supported the Occupy cause wholeheartedly, now probably support

it less wholeheartedly. The great energy of the Occupy movement

needs to be applied in a way that's going to work. Pitch your

tents in John Boehner's neighborhood. Blockade Mitch McConnell's

neck of the woods. Shut down the gated communities where the

1% live. Occupy the trees of the mansions of Big Pharma execs.

But don't alienate the 99%, the folks who might be your biggest


But I digress. Paul



for October 19, 2011

I bet the animal scare in Ohio spurs someone to

come up with a cheesy action movie along these lines:

a terrorist of some sort parks a truck full of lions,

tigers and bears in midtown Manhattan during rush hour.

And then he opens the door and lets them loose.

* * * *

Very flattered that the conductor of the Ureuk Symphony

Orchestra expressed interest in one of my songs, "Kim Jong-il,"

some months ago. (Don't know if anything has come of it.)

For the record, KALX was the first radio station to play the

song. Tone is ironic, obviously, a satirical take on propaganda

songs. (In fact, my original title was "I Love the Dear Leader

Kim Jong-il.") I was trying... for a faux-people's chorus

effect by overdubbing six tracks of me singing along to it. Not

my best song, but I guess I can see how it might be effective

with an actual choral group singing it. As usual, composed,

performed, produced solely by yours truly. (I even pressed

the start button on the tape recorder!) Juche, baby, juche!!

BTW, by contrast, my more recent song "I'm an Unabashed Communist"

is not in ironic tone; rather, I wrote it in the voice of someone

who makes a case for a sort of Swedish socialism. POV thing.

* * * *

FB friend asks a good question: "Where have all the protest

songs gone?" There hasn't been a great one in years, I think.

I'm surprised the Occupy movment hasn't embraced REM's "Welcome

to the Occupation." Occupy Berkeley has been posting the

irresistible "Power to the People" on its website. "A million

workers working for nothing/you better give 'em what they

really own..." sums up the zeitgeist.

* * * *

I wish...Oakley Hall would start recording albums again...Florence

Welch would continue singing (shrieking!) the way she sang

"Drumming Song" last June in concert...Paul Simon would cover

Vampire Weekend's "A-Punk"...Fleet Foxes would cover "Wind on the Water"...

* * * *

Just heard the GOP presidential debate. Bachmann said she wants

a double-walled fence along the Mexican border -- and Cain

wants one with extra cheese! (Either way, even a dog could

burrow beneath it.) And Cain says not to worry, the only

people who would be affected by his 9% sales tax are those

who spend money. Also, someone should gently tell Bachmann that

"heinous" rhymes with anus. (For the record, Bachmann pronounced

it "hi - nee - us," inventively adding an extra syllable.)

But I digress. Paul



at October 1, 2011

DiCaprio Plays "J. Edgar" On Screen,
But Remember: the Real Hoover Spied
on Rockers and Others

What Hoover's FBI Files Say About Rock Stars

Leonardo DiCaprio plays FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover

in the upcoming biopic "J. Edgar," so now might be the

right time to make sure the facts of his life aren't

distorted by the film.

One reality about Hoover that should be remembered is

that he used the FBI to conduct arguably unwarranted

surveillance of artists, activists and, yes, plenty

of rock stars.

Under Hoover, the FBI collected intelligence on lots

of mainstream and other rockers in files that have only

recently been made available to the public online.

Here's a sampling of what Hoover's spies found out about

ten stars.

1. The Monkees.

Hard to believe, but the FBI spied on the so-called Pre-Fab

Four in the spring of 1967, when they began doing live shows.

Their FBI file consists of two documents. The first is about

concerts in which the FBI believed the band supposedly showed

"subliminal [video] messages...on the screen which

in the opinion of [redacted] constituted left wing innovations."

The FBI further noted that "The Monkees" TV series "has

been quite successful [and] features four young men who dress

as "beatnik types."

The second document is completely redacted, all blacked

out, which is somewhat rare, suggesting material that

is very sensitive.

2. The Doors.

An FBI source who worked for a TV station in North

Carolina wrote a letter in '69 to his Senator, Sam Ervin (who

he knew well enough to call "Sam"), that ended up in an FBI

file. And the TV exec was hopping mad about the Doors.

"I hope the package which houses this letter and enclosures

did reach you unopened. It wouldn't do for anyone,

especially a lady, to be exposed to the record you have before

you," he writes (though he doesn't think to label it Eyes Only).

"I believe you will agree with me [that]...the enclosed

the filthiest and most vulgar thing the human mind could

possibly conceive."

The "filth" he's referring to is an unidentified album by

The Doors. And then he suggests a three-way listening session.

"The thought occurred to me that you might want to expose

this to your friend Senator Dirksen and that the two of you

then may want to bring it to the president's attention,

perhaps sitting down with him privately and playing it for

them." (Imagine that!)

3. The Fugs.

In FBI files about rockers, it's rare when Hoover

himself denounces in writing a particular recording artist;

usually the criticism comes from an underling or

an FBI source. But in the case of the Fugs, Hoover himself

lets loose:

"This group is described as New York's most fantastic protest
rock and roll peace - sex - grass - psychedelic - singing group
who write all their own material utilizing the artistic literary
heritage of the low east side of New York combined with the
Civil Rights and peace movements," writes Hoover. "The
record contains 11 numbers by the group, which are vulgar and
repulsive and are most suggestive."

Which sounds like the sort of quote the band might have

used in their publicity kits back in the day!

Hoover also condemns the band's "filthy, repulsive language,"

mentions the album "Virgin Fugs" and says "it is repulsive to

right-thinking people and can have serious effects on our young people."

A source for the FBI whose name is redacted says in a letter

to Hoover: "The group derived their name of course from the

four letter word for intercourse....You might want to listen

to a few cuts, without any ladies within earshot."

A source whose named was redacted writes to Hoover: "If it

wasn't the Fugs, it was a similar group that recently appeared

on a Florida college campus. And when the curtain opened

for the concert, one of the entertainers was masturbating openly

and he screamed at the audience, 'You kids have got to groove.'"

4. The Beatles.

The first FBI reports on the Fab Four date back to August

1964 when the Bureau was concerned that the teenage mania

surrounding the Beatles might be used by civil rights

activists to cause riots.

Their concerns were apparently very thinly sourced. For

example, one FBI memo, about a concert in Kansas City, Missouri,

in September 1964, noted the following: "The ballpark,

Municipal Stadium, is located in a Negro residential

neighborhood, [so] the possibility of Negro involvement

in any spontaneous action is recognized. and police department

plans cover this possibility."

And in August 1964, California police were alerted by the

FBI that "the thousands of teenagers gathered for the appearances

of the Beatles in Los Angeles and San Francisco could be the

perfect vehicle for riots if racial elements or organizations,

subversive or otherwise, would decide to capitalize on this vehicle."

There was also (apparently unfounded) concern that the

Kansas City gig of '64 might be disrupted by "Muslim" activists.

Later FBI files on the Beatles concern John Lennon's deportation

issues with the Board of Immigration in 1973. "Would you please

supply us with electronic surveillance information pertaining to" Lennon,

the FBI asks a source.

There are also documents about the cover art of Lennon and

Yoko Ono's "Two Virgins" album, which pictures the two naked, and

whether the photos violated obscenity laws.

5. Jimi Hendrix.

"A well-known Negro entertainer" is what the FBI calls

Hendrix. And their main concern about him concerned a '69 pot

bust in Toronto and whether Hendrix had had any prior

convictions in the States.

His files note that he had had prior arrests -- twice in

Seattle in '61 for "using a car without owner's permission" -- but

they couldn't determine how the cases were resolved.

The Bureau noted that he was currently out on $10,000 bail

on the marijuana case (he had hidden the pot in his shaving kit).

It also notes that Hendrix planned to play a benefit concert

for the Chicago 7 protesters.

6. Tiny Tim

The file on Tiny Tim, a novelty act who gained fame on the

TV show "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in," was mostly about determining

whether he had links to Frank Sinatra and organized crime.

In response to FBI suspicions about Tiny Tim's high income

from concerts, a source said he "did not believe it unusual for

a relatively new star to appear for one week at the Caesar's Palace

at Las Vegas, Nevada, for a salary of fifty thousand a week with

a return engagement promised."

In the end, no link was ever established between Tiny Tim and

the mafia.

Meanwhile, a separate file on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in"

included letters from sources who were livid about the show's

jokes about J. Edgar Hoover. (A "Laugh-In" knock-knock joke was

cited in the file: "Knock Knock." "Who's there?"

"Hoover." "Hoover who?" "Hoover heard of a 76 year old


7. The Jefferson Airplane

The Jefferson Airplane file begins near the end of

Nixon's tenure and is mostly about the band's activism in

support of the movement to impeach Nixon.

The FBI was particularly focused on an April 1974 rally

sponsored by the National Campaign to Impeach Nixon and linked

to the Yippies. And the Bureau noted there was an upcoming

Washington, D.C., rally, "possibly utilizing rock concert

group known as Jefferson Airplane."

8. Jerry Garcia

In a partially-redacted document from October 19, 1964,

Jerome (Jerry) Garcia is quoted as vouching for the

sincerity of a bandmate who has applied for conscientious

objector draft status. Garcia says "he has employed

[redacted] off and on for the past year" in his band

and he "is a pacifist in spirit."

9. Janis Joplin.

Two months before her death in October 1970, there is an

urgent FBI memo about the possibility of violence at her

upcoming show in Highland Park, Illinois.

"Source...advises unconfirmed reports have been received of

possible attempts to disrupt concert and cause violence in area

by unknown persons," says the document.

There is also a memo from the previous year that notes her

participation in the Woodstock festival (and it erroneously

lists The Jeff Beck Group and "The Iron Butterfly" as other

fest performers). Of Woodstock, the FBI document

says: "The main entertainment, if that is the correct word, was

provided by the bizarre people present...."

But I digress. Paul



for September 30, 2011

Yes, the editor of Inspire magazine has been replaced!

The manner in which they got rid of him was, admittedly, a

bit extreme, but he really hadn't been doing a very good job

lately. Circulation numbers and ad pages for the jihadist

magazine have been down in recent months, so the killing of

its editor-in-chief, Anwar al-Awlaki, is understandable,

particularly since he was also responsible for a lot of mass


In all seriousness, I applaud President Obama for eliminating

Awlaki; by doing so, he has saved many innocent lives and made

the world a much safer place. (And, yes, he really was a

lousy editor!)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- On another subject: at mid-morning today, a new

song came into my head: "Every Love Song Is About Her."

I grabbed my tape recorder and the verses came tumbling

out. I really like this one.



for September 18, 2011

Interesting article in Salon on corporations that

are ripping off employee pension funds. Me, I've

found that a company that reneges on pension benefits

is on trak to renege on paying paychecks, too.

(I worked for a company like that in the late 1980s.)

But I digress. Paul



for September 16 - 20, 2011

Watching Peter Bart on Charlie Rose last night, I was

inspired to come up with my own best American films of

all-time list.

1. Francis Coppola's "The Godfather" and "The Godfather, Part 2"
(the combined chronological version).

Simply put, the first two "Godfather" films have redefined the

way we now see people in everyday life. Just as some say "he's

a real Iago" or "she's a Goneril," so today we also say

"W.'s like Sonny," or "Obama's like Michael," or so and so

is a Clemenza or (heaven forfend) a Fabrizio. And there's

an aphoristic quality that's almost Nietzschean, a wisdom

that's neo-Shakespearean. And it's not the story of the

despicable mafia so much as the story of entrepreneurs

rising in America. (To which you say: "Big business

doesn't go around killing people." To which someone

might retort, quoting Michael: "Now who's being

naive, Kay?" Which feels true, even if it's not quite.)

* * * *

2. tie: Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove"/"2001: A Space Odyssey"
and "A Clockwork Orange."

Peak Kubrick films of equal value. "Strangelove," the funniest

movie ever made, is a marvel of tone. (And to think they were

going to play it straight, initially!) "2001" is still avant

garde and massively influential (see: "Tree of Life"). And in

"A Clockwork Orange," Kubrick, such a master by this time, seems

almost giddy about his ability to make the most outrageous film

in the history of mainstream cinema. Forty years on, its futurism

still feels...futuristic.

* * * *

3. tie: Roman Polanski's "Chinatown," Michelangelo Antonioni's
"The Passenger," Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas."

"Chinatown"'s truths are unspeakable, its wisdom hard-won.

And when it comes to the great line "Most people never have

to face the fact that in the right place, at the right time,

they're capable of...anything," you realize this could only

be the work of someone who has seen no bottom to the well

of human evil. When I interviewed Polanski in-depth about the film,

one thing that stood out was how much affection he had

for even the most marginal characters. And if you look

at the minor players, each is given his or her full

humanity. (In our conversation, Polanski made a point

of singling out the barber in the scene in which

Nicholson blows up; "I liked him very much," Polanski

told me.)

The greatest films of all-time are almost always those in

which the main character grows or evolves in some way,

and "Raging Bull" is all about the transformation of a

very, very imperfect man into someone nearly as imperfect.

It has become a cliche to praise an actor by saying that

he or she disappears into his character, but in this

case it's really true: Robert De Niro doesn't just

become Jake LaMotta, he becomes the many LaMottas that

evolved over the decades. Meanwhile, "Goodfellas"

blazes with life -- and with death, violence, vendettas,

betrayals -- and plenty of great food! And it leaves

you with the sense that the seasons and generations

have just changed.

Antonioni's "The Passenger" has a painterly brilliance,

enigmatic plot and a POV discipline that is pure genius.

(By "POV discipline," I'm talking about the ending,

in which we see the final events from a fixed perspective

that creates alluring mystery about what has just occurred.

(BTW, a major art museum should put together a photographic

exhibition of selected stills from "The Passenger" and

other Antonioni films.)

I would include "Blow Up" and "Zabriskie Point" here, but

they're not technically "American" movies.

* * * *

4. tie: Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Annie Hall."

Peak Woody Allen films of equal value. "Crimes" has

Allen's most gripping plot and most organically

intertwined characters. And "Annie Hall," funny no matter

how many times you see it, has come to define America's

bi-coastal identity. (Allen himself told me in '99 that

his own favorite Allen film was "The Purple Rose of Cairo,"

but to me that's only his best-crafted movie.)

* * * *

5. Robert Altman's "Nashville."

"Nashville" presents a truly singular creation of American

cinema, Barbara Jean, played brilliantly by Ronee Blakley,

who not only wrote the movie's greatest songs but also

scripted the very best part of the picture, the sequence

in which madness takes over her mind during a concert.

(Altman himself said she wrote that part herself; see

director's commentary on DVD.) "Nashville"'s abundant

humanity sprawls in every direction, from Lily Tomlin's

character signing with her children so touchingly

to the scene in which the son of Haven Hamilton

claps out of rhythm to his dad's music. I've seen the

film well over a hundred times -- I was an usher at a theater

when I was 17 in '75 -- and still love it and notice new things

about it today. And when it gets to "It's that careless

disrespect...," I invariably get choked up like a wuss unless

I fast forward it. (To me, Blakley is superior

to every female singer-songwriter except

Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Patti Smith. (Even the great

Lucinda Williams. Even Baez. Even Dar, who I love.) But I digress.)

* * * *

6. Oliver Stone's "Platoon."

I once asked David Rabe what his favorite war movie was and

he said, "Platoon." And I have to agree with him -- partly

because the film so memorably shows that internecine rivals

can be more deadly than outside enemies. And the rift between

Elias and Barnes mirrors the rift in America in the Vietnam era.

* * * *

BTW, "Gone With the Wind," often in the top spot on such

lists, doesn't make mine because it becomes unfocused

mid-way through, when it turns into a 19th century British

costume drama. And though I appreciate the resourcefulness

and innovation of "Citizen Kane," the fact that Orson Welles

was the first to make use of a certain kind of overhead

shot from a certain kind of an angle is academic and

doesn't motivate me to take it from the shelf that much.

And #7 on my list would be a three-way tie between

"Casablanca," "The Maltese Falcon" and "North by Northwest,"

all three of 'em too plot-centric to be in the A+ category.

And #8 is a tie between "Reservoir Dogs," still Tarantino's best,

and Steven Spielberg's underrated "Jaws" and "Schindler's List."

(To be honest, I think critics tend to overrate the latter

Spielberg film and underrate the former, which is better than

"The Birds" and every other Hitchcock film except "NxNW."

Yes, I can imagine some people are shaking their heads right now,

saying the two Spielberg pictures aren't even the same weight.

But let's be real: apart from "Schindler"'s absolutely

mesmerizing and nightmarish evocation of Plaszow, the rest of

the picture -- which is to say, most of the picture -- is a bit

of a bore in a way that "The Pianist" and the first 20-minutes

of "Inglourious Basterds" are not.)

I know, my list implicitly says that Woody Allen's comedies

are better than Chaplin's -- and, yes, that is what I'm

saying. Definitely. In fact, I'd even put "Duck Soup," the

Marx Brothers's best, above "Modern Times," Chaplin's best.

Look, I love the best of Chaplin, but in a lot of ways,

the Marx Bros. were more progressive, as they were doing

talkies well before Chaplin did. Chaplin's not overrated;

it's just that the greatest pictures of Allen and the

Marx Bros. are better.

But I digress. Paul



for September 14, 2011

Many thanks to the great Marshall Stax and KALX for

playing my new song "The Food Song" the other night

on The Next Big Thing. (And sorry for the audio glitch

elsewhere on the e.p. -- will correct the problem in

the future!)

You can hear "The Food Song" here: (to come)

But I digress. Paul



for August 31, 2011

People who disagree with stuff I've written

over the years (on religion and other subjects)

are free to write to me with their own point-of-view

at And I will (and I have)

published such emails here on my main blog.

But locals (and others) who try imtimidating

tactics should know that ain't gonna work with me....

But I digress. Paul



for Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adele's Show Last Night in Berkeley, Calif.

"I'm going to sing this next song for the beloved Amy Winehouse,"

said Adele last night from the stage in Berkeley, California.

But first, she asked everybody to turn on their cameras and

cellphones and hold them in the air, in a modern version

of the concert ritual of holding up lighters and matches.

"If you've got a camera or a phone," said Adele, "All of you,

get them out, there's more of you, get them out! Now look

behind you and look how fuckin' amazing it looks!"

And sure enough, it did look amazing, with visual magic

everywhere as thousands of cameras lighted up the night

at the open-air Greek Theater (and even in the

hills above the theater, where I heard the sold-out gig).

[By the way, from my vantage point I could hear the concert

well enough to make a recording of it, which I did, though

I couldn't see much (those damn redwoods!).]

And then she launched into an austere version -- just piano

and vocals -- of Bob Dylan's beautiful "Make You Feel My Love."

She topped that with one of her own compositions,

the touching "Someone Like You," which has the feel, at

least live, of a standard or classic.

The crowd sure acted like it was, twice singing six

or seven lines from the song when cued by Adele ("Never mind,

I'll find someone like you/I wish nothing but the best for you," sang

thousands of fans, not missing a word).

And then, after ninety minutes of wowing fans with

her blend of charismatic soul and balladry, she finished

with "Rolling in the Deep," sounding a bit like a

combination of Bonnie Raitt and KT Tunstall on that one.

Throughout, Adele was in a great mood, laughing spontaneously

while singing "Hometown Glory," shifting octaves while

chatting with the crowd, talking about everything from

"Sex and the City" to someone who looks like

"Tina Fey on steroids," recalling a concert by The Cure

that her mother took her to when she was a child, and

reminiscing about her previous shows in the Bay Area.

"I remember the first show I ever did in San Francisco was at

Bimbo's 365," said Adele -- and audience members applauded as if

they'd been there.

"You weren't there; it seats about 200 people," she said,

laughing. "The second show I played [in San Francisco] was

at the Warfield...But now there are too many of you, so now

we're doing it here."

Other highlights included the catchy "Right as Rain," "Chasing

Pavements" and "Don't You Remember," which was interrupted

mid-way by applause.

Opening the show was rock 'n' roll pioneer Wanda Jackson,

the one-time girlfriend of Elvis Presley, who she mentioned

frequently in her set.

"Elvis changed the direction of my career," said Jackson

from the stage. "He held my heart for awhile; we

became good friends." And then she launched into

his "Heartbreak Hotel," performing it with more melancholy

than Presley did. And her guitarist -- her backing band

was terrific -- did a blazing rendition of Scotty Moore's lead.

Jackson also treated everyone to a generous helping

of her own biggest songs, particularly the hits she

had from '56 ("I Gotta Know") to '61 ("Riot in Cell

Block #9" and "Right or Wrong").

Like Adele, Jackson also had Amy Winehouse on

her mind, performing a marvelous version of Winehouse's

"I'm No Good."

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Hey, I'm grateful for whatever readers I have, where

ever I have them. But why the sudden spike in readership in

Malaysia, which I've never written about and where I've

never been? (So say my trackimg stats.) If there's anybody

from Malaysia who can tell me why the good folks over there

are reading my stuff, I'd love to know!



for August 13, 2011

The Huffington Post has just published around a dozen

photos that I recently shot of San Francisco (as part of

my story on S.F.). Check it out here:

(Many thanks to the Huffington Post for publishing it!)

But I digress. Paul



August 12, 2011

Notes on last night's GOP presidential debate:

-- Gingrich sounded like a professor arguing at a faculty
party at which everyone has had just a couple drinks and
has tenure.

-- Bachmann sounded scripted (her handlers probably told
her, "Now, Michele, keep your cool -- no matter what they
throw at you").

-- Romney, a little shaky after his raucous encounter with
hecklers hours earlier, sounded, as always, like the guy
you meet for only 15 seconds at a political smoker before
he says, "OK, gotta move on here." (He'll call you "fella"
even when he supposedly knows your name.)

-- Ron Paul, increasingly Howard Beale-ish, generated the most
enthusiasm from the crowd.

-- Santorum actually claimed he was "ahead of the curb [sic]."
(He should curve his enthusiasm!)

But the debate was mostly irrelevant to the campaign. The main

event happens tomorrow when Rick Perry gets in the race; he'll

be the frontrunner soonafter.

And, of course, this time next year, nobody will be

talking about the debt ceiling or Afghanistan, in all

likelihood. Everything will probably be about the

new war in Pakistan and the nukes about to explode.

* * * *

* * * *

Though I've not been promoting or even linking my 2010 album

"TABOO," it continues to generate web traffic, driven by my


listening to it in the following countries: Slovenia, Iran, Israel,

Russia, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, U.S., France, the U.K.

Here's the MP3:

Lyrics are below.

I wrote "They're Building a Mosque in My Mind" in the wake

of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque controversy of 2010.

A rush of imagery came to me around Labor Day weekend of

2010. On September 8, 2010, I came up with around

seven pages of imagery that I subsequently put in an

email and sent to myself (see below).

The song was originally released on my "Taboo" album

but was copyrighted in early 2011 as part of my

"Zip Code of the Moon (and 28 Others)" album.

It was first aired by KALX Radio on October 26, 2010

(thanks, Marshall!), and topped out at #69 on the

Soundclick alternative chart. [UPDATE: The song

has just now re-enetered the Soundlick alternative

chart at #39.)

For those interested in how I came up with this song,

here's the 7-page evolution of the lyrics (with coffee

stains, typos and all!:

page one of my writings that turned into "They're Building a Mosque in My Mind."
[click to enlarge]

page two of my writings that evolved into "Mosque in My Mind."
[click to enlarge]

page three of my writings that turned into "Mosque in My Mind."
[click to enlarge]

page four of my writings that evolved into "Mosque in My Mind."
[click to enlarge]

page five of my writings that gave birth to "Mosque in My Mind."
[click to enlarge]

page six of my writings that evolved into "Mosque in my Mind."
[click to enlarge]

page seven of my writings that turned into "Mosque in My Mind."
[click to enlarge]

And here're the final lyrics:

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2010

They're building a mosque in my mind (my mind)
They're building a mosque in my mind
They're taking over all the grey matter
They're building a mosque in my mind

The preachers and imams and rabbis and priests
Who populate the part of my mind
Where Hindus are praying near my left hippocampus
Where the Shintos are building a shrine

They're building a mosque in my mind (my mind)
They're building a shrine in my mind
They're taking over my entire cerebellum
They're building a mosque in my mind

The Hares spray graffiti on my left ventricle wall
They've got a real Jones for the Tao
They're confusing Confucians as to their actual intent
They're saying, "Hey, man, don't have a sacred cow!"

Anglicans and Brahmins fight for my synaptic cleft
In the pre-frontal lobe of my mind
Orthodox Jews are building a temple
Using words like thee and thou and thine

They're building a mosque in my mind (my mind)
They're building a shrine in my mind
They're taking over my entire cerebellum
They're building a mosque in my mind

Mental health professionals visit me at work
I tell them there're bombs in my brain
The Sunnis are fighting the Sufis for turf
I say this as they take me away

Take me away!

They're building a mosque in my mind (my mind)
They're building a shrine in my mind
They're taking over all the gray matter
They're building a mosque in my mind

But I digress. Paul



for August 11, 2011

Perry/Bachmann Ticket in the Works?

Maybe. Hard to predict these things, but here's

how I see the Republican race for president going:

Bachmann wins the first round, the Iowa caucus, because

she has a home state advantage. But Romney will take

the primary in New Hampshire, where he's virtually a

favorite son.

Then things get complicated. States in the southeast and

the interior west come into play. And I can't imagine

the good ol' boys of South Carolina lining up to vote

for Romney and his silver spoon. No, in S.C. and

elsewhere in the region, Rick Perry, currently skillfully

playing the religious right like an Appalachian

fiddle, will strike a winning chord.

Bachmann will probably turn out to be the Muskie of

'12, the candidate too thin-skinned for the tough

stuff. I bet some slight will cause her to have

a public meltdown that'll end her campaign.

Meanwhile, Romney will prove as ineffectual on the

national stage as he was in '08. (Just this morning,

in Iowa, Romney let loose a gaffe that should follow him

for awhile; confronted by hecklers, Romney declared

"Corporations are people!")

And my instinct tells me Rick Perry doesn't really believe

all that bullshit he's been preaching to the Christian

Taliban side of the GOP. After all, he once backed

Al Gore for president (in '88) before he had his

sex change operation.

And Perry's pastor in Austin is a really moderate (almost

liberal) Methodist. Listen to what he preached at

Perry's church right after the 9/11 attacks:

"The militant Muslims supporting terrorism
are similar to militant right wing Christians
who populate militias and see violence as
the way God wants us to solve problems."

The pastor's name, by the way, is James L. Mayfield

(and he apparently is still senior pastor at Perry's


So when Perry panders to the extremists by supporting

the illegalization of sodomy, or when he holds prayer sessions

on the public's dime, you get the sense he doesn't

really mean it. He just needs to do that to get nominated.

And then he'll turn purple for the general while using

a running mate like Bachmann to satisfy the Tea Partyers.

But I digress. Paul



for August 8, 2011

The Rick Perry/Mohamed Atta crowd of fundamentalists

does not believe in the separation of church and state.

Call me old-fashioned, but I can't see how anyone could

ever support the Rick Perry/Mohamed Atta crowd.

The Rick Perry/Mohamed Atta faction thinks there should

be a state religion. They think state functions and events

should include prayer, which is an impllcit endorsement

of theism.

Haven't we learned that fundamentalism is the main scourge

these days? Haven't we seen that religious extremists -- from

Anders Breivik to Nidal Hasan -- are dangerous?

* * * *

The Deleterious Effects of Too Much Tea

Have you heard about The New Yorker article on Michele

Bachmann in which she virtually blames the Renaissance

and artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo for the

decline of civilization?

Bachmann's lack of education is so astonishing that

her speeches could pass for stand-up comedy. And the

dolts she admires -- Francis Schaeffer and Nancy Pearcey -- resemble

victims of dementia. Thankfully, Bachmann doesn't have any

real power.

But I digress. Paul



for August 5, 2011

Just saw "The Tree of Life" and here's my review:

Terrence Malick's "THE TREE OF LIFE"

Easily the best film of 2011 so far.

Visually it recalls prime Kubrick and Antonioni. In

terms of narrative structure, it's hard to find a

precedent. Perhaps Bergman, Altman. It almost makes

the whole concept of "plot" seem contrived. Life,

after all, is 95% plotless, isn't it? And Malick

presents life as it's experienced. The joy of pine

cones. Kids playing in a DDT cloud. Drapes billowing

in the breeze. A field of yellow sunflowers. A flock

of birds shifting course in the sky like clouds of

black pepper caught in a current.

Malick has made his masterpiece.

And then there's the half-hour segment of abstract

imagery and pure visual cinema, taking off from the

"Beyond Jupiter Space" part of "2001: A Space Odyssey."

But where the visuals near the end of "2001" were

tied to a very specific plot line, Malick's

visuals are only intuitively linked to the narrative and

veer into scenes that look like abstract expressionism,

impressionism. In that sense, maybe "Zabriske Point" is

its closest relation.

But even more radical and original than its visuals

is its narrative structure. As I said, in that

regard it seems to recall Bergman ("Wild Strawberries"

somewhat similarly evoked youthful memory) and Altman,

who also made films that were more about

relationships and characters than plots.

This is the sort of film that, when they do a documentary

on the making of it decades later, they always ask the

director: "Could this film have been made today?" And

the director invariably replies, "No, not in

today's commercial climate."

Well, "The Tree of Life" is one of those pictures

that couldn't be made today. But it got through anyway.

Malick, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain all deserve

Oscar nominations for this in January. And Fox Searchlight

deserves praise for its courage in releasing such a risky,

innovative film.

* * * * *

Fascinating exhibition at the Berkeley (Calif.) Art Museum

of works by Kurt Schwitters, the German avant-garde artist.

It almost seems as if Schwitters comes to neo-Cubism throgh

collage and assemblage. (The exhibition also reveals that

his work of the 1920s was far, far better than his work

of the 1940s.)

* * * *

I heard an outrageous all-female punk band from

Tokyo perform last Saturday night: Red Bacteria Vacuum

(or, レッドバクテリアバキューム). Sounded sort of like

a combination of a Japanese horror film soundtrack, the

Ramones and Metallica. They opened at the Greek Theater

(Berkeley) for A Perfect Circle, who I couldn't stay to hear.

(Also in the Worthy New Punkrock category: an exciting

unsigned (or indie) band named Found Dead in Trunk, who

I heard on Marshall Stax's show on KALX the other week.

Worth a listen!)

But I digress. Paul



for August 4, 2011


Anders Breivik Wants You to Know He Is Not THAT Anders Breivik.

A sidenote to the tragic massacre in Norway

There are nearly five million people in Norway. Of those

five million, a mere 13 (by one count) are named

Anders Breivik, also the name of Anders

Behring Breivik, the confessed mass murderer.

And of those 13, at least two fit a specific

description that matches the murderer: 6' tall,

twentysomething in the Oughties, Oslo resident,

into e-commerce.

So the odds of coming upon postings on a discussion

forum by another Anders Breivik who matches the above

description are something like a million to one. Literally.

Well, guess what?

After finding Internet postings by an Anders Breivik on a knife

discussion forum -- -- I wrote

about them in this space, saying they were postings

by an "Anders Breivik" who fit the description of the

Norwegian gunman.

Yesterday, Breivik saw my website and sent me an email

with the subject line: "My name and unfortunate similarities."

"I am one of the 13 unfortunate Norwegians to share a name

with the mass murderer," began Breivik.

"I see that you have dug up an old account of min on, with the nick[name] AB," Breivik continued.

"I have not used it for many years, but posted today

to show that it does not belong to the monster now in

jail....Good Google-work, but unfortunately you've got

the wrong guy. I have always collected knives as tools

and handicraft, but that is neither a crime nor unethical."

"Peace," he said, after noting: "Any misuse of my

personal information will be prosecuted though US law."

Well, that solved one mystery. (And my Blogspot blog did

indeed show that Norwegians visited my website yesterday.)

But it didn't solve another mystery.

Turns out that publishes the comings

and goings of visitors to the profile page of each registered


So, for example, if Mr. Someone visits Mr. Forumite at noon on

Christmas, the forum will publish a note that says Mr. Someone

visited Mr. Forumite at noon on Christmas.

And Breivik's forum page, which had had no traffic for years,

suddenly had a surge of traffic in the hours immediately after

the Norway massacre but BEFORE his name had been

made public by the press.

To be precise, three people went to Breivik's page before his

name was made public -- and another three went to the page

when his name had been reported by only a few news

organizations. And then there were virtually no visitors.

For the record, the earliest news report mentioning Breivik's

name was published at 6:20 p.m. PDT (that's 3:20 a.m. Norway

time). And those reports were using info that had just been

reported in the wee hours of July 23rd by Norwegian TV

network NRK, which made his name public before even

the police did.

So it was rather alarming to see that someone named Milesdm

visited Breivik's forum site at 4:19 p.m. (PDT) on July 22nd,

exactly two hours BEFORE Breivik was publicly named as

the murderer.

And a person with the tagger-esque name Dentonati0n was

also on Breivik's site at exactly the same time as Milesdm,

signing off at 4:35 p.m. (PDT), around two hours before

Breivik's name was made public by anyone.

And someone named Pencil_ was on Breivik's forum page

around that time, too, logging off at 5:30 p.m. (PDT), an hour

before Breivik's name went public.

By the way, the time and date stamping on the BladeForum

site, which uses only Pacific Time, is completely

accurate; I know that because the site precisely

noted when I (using the name PLI) first logged

in and last logged off.

So I sent an email to the (innocent) Anders Breivik, asking him

if he had any explanation for the sudden surge of traffic to

his site at that time and whether he knew any of those visitors.

Breivik wrote back to me, saying he was not aware that

BladeForums publishes a record of visitors to each site.

"I don't know any of the visitor's names," he wrote.

"Here in Norway the name was discussed on Twitter pretty early

in the evening of the shooting. It was leaked there before it

reached the media as far as I know," he says, though that

contradicts the facts a bit. After all, in the hours after the

shooting, worldwide media was reporting (up until at least

7pm EDT) that a jihadist group was responsible for the


"That might explain it or not. I have no idea how to see when

they accessed my profile, doesn't show here," he added (though

here is a box on BladeForums that shows when people

accessed his profile).

Breivik ended his email with this plea to the media and

the public: "My life has been crazy since this all

happened, and I would be grateful if you didn't fuel the

fire. I work with Norwegian law enforcement to help them

remove false positives in their investigations. I am

sure they (and their contacts in US federal law

enforcement) will be able to dig up the actual facts."

"We are 13 'Anders Breivik's with and without middle

names here in Norway, only one of them is the killer.

Both 'Anders' and 'Breivik' are common names. I wish

the international media also would use his

full name, 'Anders Behring Breivik.'"

But I digress. Paul



for August 3, 2011

DVD REVIEW: Bruce Springsteen's "The Promise: The
Making of Darkness On The Edge of Town"

Ah, Springsteen's divorce album, "Darkness on the Edge of

Town," which really should have been called "Darkness at

the Edge of Town." (Can you imagine Dylan singing "Darkness

on the break of noon/shadows even the silver spoon"? Hate

to say it, but the distance between Dylan and Springsteen

sometimes seems like the distance between genius and talent.

But I digress.)

Anyway, this divorce album was written in the thick of

his split from manager Mike Appel, who signed him to bad

(but virtually standard, for the era) contracts that Bruce

spent years extricating himself from. And so the album

is packed with lots of anger and guilt. Anger, because

Appel had sorta screwed him. And guilt, because Appel

had -- tell the truth -- believed in Bruce back when

few others did.

A divorce album, but no "Blood on the Tracks."

When Bruce talks about the album on this DVD, and when he

tries to be poetic and insightful in his comments, it seems

forced. Unlike Dylan, who is effortlessly poetic, always saying

memorable things spontaneously, Bruce has to work at it. Yet

he still never gets to the Dylan level and too often sounds

like attemptedrockcritic. (Frankly, I think Bruce wanted

to be Jon Landau and Jon wanted to be Bruce.)

And this docu shows he has to really work at the music,

too. His songs, in their first drafts, are surprisingly

unremarkable in ways that the first drafts of songs by Elton

John or Paul McCartney are not.

I think one thing critics miss is that some of Bruce's

best early material was inspired by Manhattan, not Jersey.

You see, he used to perform afternoon all-ages shows at

the Gaslight in the Village on a regular basis when he was

a teenager. And that brought him into town to experience

the city, which clearly inspired such tunes as

"Jungleland" and "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the

City," etc.

"Darkness...," on the other hand, was a bit of a

retrenchment, inspired by much smaller towns across

the Hudson. And it sounds more downbeat than it

did at the time, when tracks like "Badlands" and

"Adam Raised a Cain" were electrifying everyone

within earshot. ("Adam Raised a Cain" still sounds

like a great porcupine!)

Today, on closer scrutiny, I can see that "Racing in the

Street" is a bore, "Prove It All Night" is tinny, "Streets

of Fire" and "Something in the Night" are B material -- and

the overpraised outtake "The Promise"

sounds wayyy too much like "The Promised Land," which

is too preachy.

The docu is fascinating when it shows how mixer Chuck Plotkin

put some of the sound in high relief, giving us such moments

of sonic clarity as the "tonight!!!" in "Candy's Room."

And I loved seeing Little Steven and Bruce having fun with

an early version of "Sherry Darling," one of his very

best tracks.

Also impressive is the underrated Patti Scialfa, who

always says interesting things.

All told, Bruce's best album is still "Born in the USA," which

deserves its own docu.

But I digress. Paul



for August 3, 2011

My story (below) on Anders Breivik has just taken

a rather bizarre turn. Stay tuned here for a new

posting about it, which I'll post as soon as I've

gotten to the bottom of the situation!




for July 29, 2011


Why did five people suddenly go

to the web forum page of an "Anders Breivik" a few hours

after the massacre in Norway? Breivik's name,

after all, had not yet been publicly

released. (In fact, at the time,

the bloodbath was being attributed to a


So why did a guy named Detonati0n visit

"Breivik"'s forum on ***** within

hours of the massacre? [I'm leaving out the

exact name of the forum for now so that other

journalists don't steal my story idea before

I can publish it.]

I mean, even if Detonati0n and the others

had heard about the massacre, how would they have

known Breivik was involved?

And how would the others who went to his site in

the hours after the massacre have known to go


Milkmoney11 visited Breivik's forum a couple hours

after the Norway attack. So did forumites with names

like pencil and milesdn and almani.

And then, after that burst of traffic to Breivik's

forum site, there were virtually no visitors at

all, just like before the massacre.

So let's be real: the only people who would have

gone to Breivik's site at that time of day on

July 22 would have been insiders who knew

Breivik was responsible for the attacks.

And there were only two groups of insiders:

1) law enforcement investigators and 2) any

collaborators or friends of Brievik's.

I think with names like Detonati0n, we can

reasonably rule out law enforcement.

(Would a cop have logged on to that site with

a name like that? Not likely. The visitors to

Breivik's site all have quasi-tagger names like

Detonati0n's (with its pseudo-hip hop


Analogously, if the SEC were to see that sort of

unexplained surge of activity in a stock trade just

prior to the public release of serious inside information,

those traders would be investigated for insider trading.

Is this an indication that Breivik had collaborators?

By the way, the time and date stamping on

Brevik's forum site is completely accurate; I know

that because the site precisely noted when I (using

the name PLI) first logged in and last logged off.

(The messages are posted in GMT -7;

Oslo, of course, is GMT +1.)


[updated August 3]
* * * * *
* * * * *

Just saw the new movie "Bad Teacher" and here's my review:

Jake Kasdan's "BAD TEACHER"

This got me laughing from the git-go -- very irreverently

entertaining stuff.

Cameron Diaz is punkishly hilarious as an outrageous

teacher at a middle school who grades papers by marking

tests with comments like, "Are you fuckin' kidding me!"

Using her position to finance her boob job, Diaz is,

as usual, sexy enough to seduce a goal post at a ballgame;

she looks and acts like nothing so much as a perfect pop

song and still has all her fizz and carbonation.

Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake once again shows he has a natural,

effortless acting talent that is probably gonna earn him an

Oscar and eclipse his music career in the near future.

And the script is consistently amusing ("You're

sensitive...that's not a compliment," Diaz's character

tells a student) and the soundtrack great (the flick

opens with Nick Lowe's obscure gem "Teacher Teacher").

And some of the minor characters are exquisitely drawn,

particularly the bearded science teacher played by

Dave Allen. And it's good to see Molly Shannon back

on screen.

Well worth seeing.

But I digress. Paul



for July 25, 2011

Interesting obit of the despicable Nguyen Kao Ky in the

New York Times, except it leaves out one of the best-known and

most notorious episodes in his life story: Ky's public praise

of Adolf Hitler.

The Daily Mirror article in which Ky praises Hitler.

Vietnamese Nazi Ky.

Here's today's obit:

A right-winger like Ky will not be missed by many,

that's for sure.

* * * * *

* * * * *

Regarding the DSK case: the reporter from Newsweek,

playing tag team with Robin Roberts, goes on GMA this morning

and proceeds to ignore major facts about the maid Diallo that

don't fit his sympathetic portrait.

I haven't yet heard the Newsweek reporter (whatever his name

is) mention in one of his TV appearances the fact that

Diallo has six-fgure bank accounts in multiple cities. And

most of that money evidently came from drug dealers and

money launderers.

Those facts completely contradict Newsweek's portrait of Diallo

as a poor illiterate maid who has nothing to cling

to but her job at the Sofitel.

Other facts that contradict Diallo aren't brought out

either. Like the fact that she initially claimed DSK

spoke not a word in their encounter at the Sofitel; since

then, she has had time to invent pages of dialogue to go with

her account.

By the way, the salient and telling question is not, "When

did Diallo find out that DSK was the head of the IMF?"

The salient question is: "When did Diallo know that

the man staying in room 2806 was rich enough to afford

a three-thousand dollar a night suite at the

Sofitel?" And the answer to that question is: long before she

opened the door to his room.

That display on GMA this morning (in which Roberts

accidentally muffed the reading of a

defense statement from DSK's attorneys) was propaganda,

not news.

* * * * *

* * * * *

More Inside Baseball: Regarding my previous

posting on my tenure at The San Francisco Chronicle

(see below; scroll down to the word "Wiegand"). Allow

me to anticipate how editor David Wiegand is defending

himself against the facts that I've brought out.

Obviously, he can't get around the fact that he signed

my time sheets at the Chronicle, and the timesheets showed

I came in every day and on time.

But, sneaky guy that he is, Wiegand can show timesheets

from days in which he sent me down to San Jose or to

Pasadena to cover an event. On those days, obviously,

I couldn't have been in the office because I was covering

an event in a distant city, at his behest.

And when I asked Wiegand how I was to fill out my

timesheets for days in which I was covering a

press conference in another city, he replied,

"Put in the words 'in lieu.'"

"'In lieu'?," I asked.

"Yes, just write 'in lieu,'" he said. So I did.

Another thing he may be bringing up is the fact that the

San Jose Mercury News scooped us on a piece about

Landmark Theaters back in '00. And they were able to

do that because Wiegand delayed my story for reasons

known only to himself. Obviously, the same publicist for

Landmark that pitched us the story proceeded to pitch the same

story idea to the Mercury News. And they ran with it.

Also, as I mentioned before, my interview with

Lawrence Ferlinghetti on "Howl" was easily the best

feature to run in the San Francisco Chronicle while

I was a staff writer there.

And Wiegand, ever rivalrous, could never find a flaw in

the piece. But he never could.

And plagiarism is what Wiegand did (or tried to do, until

I stopped him) when he took the unique wording of a

New York Times reporter and tried (and failed) to insert

it in my article on the rock musical "Rent."

By the way, everything in my Ferlinghetti article

came from my one-on-one exclusive interview with

Ferlinghetti. That was the point of the article.

And the piece worked better than any feature story

the Chronicle published that year.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Looks like my scoop (below) on Anders Breivik

was correct after all. I'm still the only reporter to

have reported the info about Breivik doing a specific

online commercial trade, but it is now essentially

corroborated by a story in The New York Times.

The Times, citing a piece in Norwegian daily

Finansavisen, reported that Breivik formed a

"one-man e-commerce company in 2002." Which

is consistent with the e-commerce transaction

I uncovered (below).



for July 24, 2011


Was Anders Breivik an Ex-employee of Survivalist Company?

Breivik's former boss? Nitro-pak, helping the religulous
prepare for end-of-days.

My own investigation into the past of the Norwegian mass

murderer Anders Breivik shows that he -- or a Norwegian

with the same name -- once did work for a quasi-survivalist

company that provides products for emergencies and


The company, Nitro-Pak, bills itself as a "Preparedness Center"

and provides MREs and other items for survivalist-minded

people. And the company appears to be popular among

some religious groups and others who preach that "end times

are near." (Apparently, Nitro-Pak supplies religious

fanatics who think their MREs will get them through

the coming apocalypse.)

I found the cache for a vanished website forum

on which Anders Breivik (or another Norwegian with his name)

did business.

The discussion forum, from January 2003, was about

knives; Anders Breivik appears to have traded products

from Nitra-Pak to someone in the U.S. for a knife

of some sort, leading to the following exchange:

"If you get a chance to trade with Anders Breivik
of Oslo, Norway, do so with complete confidence.
His name may not be a regular on the forums but,
he is certainly one of the Good Guys!"

To which Breivik replies:

"Thanks, Sid! You went out on a limb
trading with an unknown overseas
forumite, and I truly appreciate that.

This was my first US trade, and so far
it's been a good experience. When my new
knife arrives, I'll be happy as a clam.
Tracking it as we speak.

As a plug for other Norwegian traders,
Norway is certainly not a third world
country, and communications with the US
are usually first rate. We are not part
of the EU, and are therefore spared some
of the worst bureaucratic custom nonsense.
(Not that we don't manage to come up with
our own red tape . )"

The exchange took place on January 26, 2003. (And

I'm the first reporter anywhere to report this.)

Cannot yet confirm whether it's the same

Anders Breivik. (More to come.)

But I digress. Paul



for July 22 - 24, 2011

I've just seen a few new movies and DVDs, and here're

my reviews:


Impeccably crafted and magnificently acted horseshit.

Admittedly, I'm just a Muggle. But, still, how could

anyone over the age of eight possibly care about a

story involving goblins and magic wands and dragons

(ohhh, my heart's beating too fast -- I can hardly

stand the tension!).

Are the critics who gave this good reviews just

making sure they'll be invited to the next screening

of a Warner Bros. picture?

To be sure, there was at least one scene of visual

magic (when Potter causes objects to multiply by touching


And ninety minutes in, during the confrontation between

Potter and Lord Voldemort (who could really use a nose

job, by the way), the film gains some traction.

But not much traction. Because what exactly is the

Harry Potter cause? Potter is basically a vigilante

killer, out to avenge the murder of his parents. If

he's trying to kill Voldemort, as he is, then why

doesn't he simply shoot him with a pistol? Or, better

yet, call a police officer.

And at the end, there's the absurd and grandiose

spectacle of people willing to fight and die for

the Potter cause. But what does Potter stand for?

Potter's not exactly Emiliano Zapata or a

member of the Navy SEAL Team 6, for crissakes.

He's a self-interested vigilante who would not

care a whit about Voldemort if he hadn't killed

his loved ones. I mean, Voldemort ain't bin Laden

or Gadaffi.

Aesthetically, most of this has the claustrophobic

feel of being stuck in a garment factory full of

lapidary craftspeople doing tedious tasks in tight

drab quarters.

And a lot of these characters look like they're wearing

the sorts of Halloween masks you can buy at a

five-and-dime (though I bet they went

to great expense to get that look).

Also, too many sage British characters

whisper for no reason.

In any event, a mere one week later, audiences have

already moved beyond Potter to "Captain America,"

the new number one flick in the USA.

* * * *

Tom Hanks's "LARRY CROWNE"

As a director, Hanks has become the new Alan Alda and

this is sort of his "Four Seasons." Like Alda's film,

"Larry..." is watchable and pleasant but too sweet,

with hostile tension released and resolved all

too easily with a smile and a joke.

And the idea of pairing Hanks with Nia Vardalos to

write the script is sort of like having Herman's Hermits

collaborate with The 1910 Fruitgum Company. Check your

insulin level after leaving the theater.

I think the idea was to do a Vardalos movie without

Vardalos -- and with a superstar like Julia Roberts

singing Nia's words. To that end, Roberts plays

an odd kind of steely academic, an identity that seems

to match her current real-life sorta-sour persona ( I guess

having all the men in the world at her feet

has made her a bit bitter).

Hanks would have been better off focusing on the chemistry

between his own character and Cedric the Entertainer's -- a much

more compelling relationship than the Hanks-Roberts one.

And Bryan Cranston, a truly funny actor, is miscast and

underused here.

* * * * *

J.J. Abrams's "SUPER 8"

This flick works best as an evocation of 1979 and

the New Wave era -- aka the Dawn of the Walkman -- but most

of this is astonishingly boring.

* * * *


We tend to forget that in the era Before Bono, the dominant

rocker in global politics was Bob Geldof. And before Geldof

organized epoch-defining charity concerts, he was a highly

underrated New Wave rocker.

And prior to his breakthrough hit, 1979's "I Don't Like Mondays,"

for which he's best known, he made music with the Boomtown

Rats that was even better than that tune, mining the Bowie

and Davies sides of the New Wave. This concert film

captures the Rats at their peak, in '78, on tour behind "A Tonic

for the Troops," which, today, sounds like the model

for albums by the Kaiser Chiefs and Fastball.

At this show, the band plays some exciting pop that

gains velocity near the end with the irresistible

"She's So Modern" and "Don't Believe What You Read."

And they finally get the mix right, just in time for

"Living in an Island," a bonus track here (and their

catchiest song).

Truly a band worth rediscovering.

* * * *


(my reviews of Discs 2 and 3 ran on 6/21 and 6/6, respectively)

Here's Presley, young and virile, at the launch of his

career -- and he has only around 20-years to live! And,

if you look closely, he's frequently out of breath, even

when he's not exerting himself too much, which speaks ill

of his heart health in his prime. (Was he doing speed back then?)

Oh, and after these Sullivan shows -- spanning from around

Labor Day '56 to around New Year's Day '57 -- Presley was more

or less finished with making TV appearances (until his

"comeback" many years later).

This episode, guest hosted by Captain Bligh (aka actor

Charles Laughton, an irreverently amusing but

condescending bloke), doesn't even look or feel like

"The Ed Sullivan Show." And that's because Sullivan wasn't

there, as he had been in a dead-serious head-on car

accident that kept him off the air for five episodes.

So Sullivan's biggest show to date -- 74 million people

watched, an all-time record then -- happened without Ed.

Which leads one to wonder whether Sullivan was sort of

irrelevant to the success of his own program. Clearly,

people didn't tune in for him.

Anyway, Presley appeared by remote from Los Angeles;

Laughton tosses to the Hollywood feed like the headmaster

of a stuffy private school who wants to show us the

progress made by a talented but troubled reform school chap.

This, of course, happens in between the jokes about

Calvin Coolidge and the ads for the long-forgotten (and

astonishingly ugly) Mercury Phaeton.

Presley, not as confident as he would be in later

appearances, recycles some of the songs he performed

better on the two other episodes ("Love Me Tender"

was on all three). And guitarist Scotty Moore almost

upstages Elvis, sounding surprisingly modern.

DVD extras include an interview with a Sullivan producer

who reveals that the tight shots of Presley happened

because Sullivan had heard a rumor that Elvis was

performing with a dildo in his pants.

(Extras also include a hilarious clip of Sullivan

interviewing Bob Hope, who joked: "I'm from Kent...The house

is still there. It wasn't bombed during the war; it

was bombed before the war.")

But I digress. Paul

[UPDATE, 8/22: see above; it's a different Breivik/]

P.S. -- On another subject: Initial reports that the

Norwegian mass murderer was a jihadist were completely

correct. Breivik is a Christian jihadist -- which is

not substantially different from being a Muslim jihadist.

Both have absolute faith in an irrational, supernatural

set of beliefs, which they try to enforce with violence.

But this crime was so monumentally senseless and tragic that

I bet the real culprit will probably turn out to be...schizophrenia.



for July 21, 2011

OK, my new song "SNEEZE (THE TEA PARTY ANTHEM)" debuted at

#45 last night on Soundclick's Alternative chart. Listen here:

* * * *
* * * *

I was in Chinatown in San Francisco the other day and

shot this photo:

[photo by Paul Iorio]

But I digress. Paul



for July 19, 2011

Many, many thanks to Marshall Stax and KALX Radio

for playing my new songs "Watching the Charismatic Girls"

and "Sneeze (The Tea Party Anthem)" last night!

I'll be posting those two and a few other brand new

Paulsongs in coming days.

* * * *

OK, here are some brand new Paulsongs! The first

is "Watching the Charismatic Girls." I posted it all

of ten minutes ago and it's already #150 on Soundclick's

alternative chart!

Just click here to listen:

OK, and here's "Sneeze (The Tea Party Anthem)."

As I mentioned, it was played last night on KALX -- and this

morning, as I walked through Berkeley, a few people actually

did a mock sneeze as I passed and sort of smiled. Cool.

And here's another song I wrote and recorded in recent


Amd here's another tune I wrote just last month,

"Aiken Waterfield":

And here's yet another new Paulsong, "EASIN'":

And here're the lyrics of "Sneeze" and "...Charismatic..."

and "...Caterpillar" and "Aiken..." and "Easin'." Enjoy!

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

Well, they all come out to our club
Try to impress the ones that they love
Watching the charismatic girls

And there's one sure thing you can plan
This day's gonna end different than it began
Watching the charismatic girls
Watching the charismatic girls

And they love to dance in bright light
'Cause really there's only just light out there
Watching the charismatic girls
Watching the charismtaic girls

And they try to prettify their pain
Like snails on the sidewalk after a light rain
Watching the charismatic girls
Watching the charismtaic girls

NOTES ON "CHARISMATIC GIRLS": I came up with the melody years ago but never had lyrics to go with it. And then last month, as I walked down Ashby in Berkeley, the phrase "charismatic girls" came to me and I began humming it to the tune of my melody.

* * * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

Well, I don't want the government telling me how to sneeze, oh yeah
And I don't want the government saying I can't pray on my knees, oh yeah
Well, I can't help but clench my fist
When I see my country go Socialist
I don't want the government telling me how to sneeze, oh yeah

I don't want the government running the used car lots, oh yeah
And I don't want the government taxin' everything I've got, oh yeah
Well, I ain't antisocial, miss
But I sure am anti-Socialist
I don't want the government telling me how to sneeze

Well, I don't want the government running like north of Niagra, oh yeah
I don't want the government rationing my Viagra, oh yeah
I see the president on ten TV channels
Telling me I gotta stand before some death panel
I don't want the government telling me how to sneeze

Well, I don't want the government legalizing sin, oh yeah
Telling my son he can't pray when the schoolbell rings, oh yeah
Well, I pledge allegiance to the Bible
Teachin' Darwin is some kind of libel
Well, I don't want the government tellin' me how to sneeze

You know, it's my damned right if I wanna catch H1N1, spread
it around to all my loved ones
It's my damn right if I wanna pay for my healthcare instead of
gettin it free like I'm on welfare
It's my damn right, says the second amendment, if I wanna
enforce the Ten Commandments
It's my damn right if I wanna pray to the Lord, instead of prayin'
to Darwin who the liberals adore

I don't want the government tellin' me how
I don't want the government tellin' me how
I don't want the government tellin' me how

NOTES ON "SNEEZE": A sort of Johnny Cashish tune with ironic
lyrics about Tea Partyers. I wrote this in '09 but didn't release it then
because I thought right-wingers might take it as an unironic
endorsement of their ideas. I now think it's meaning is clear.

* * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

This day

You only knew the caterpillar
You never knew the flier
You only knew the caterpillar
So you think that I'm a liar
Well, you're the one who's lying

This day

You've never seen me fly around
So you don't think that I can't fly
A spider on a yellow tile
Thinks the whole world's yellow tile
The whole world's yellow tile

'Cause my wings don't need air
My wings don't need air
My wings don't need air
She makes me fly

This day

Why don't you fly along with me
Why don't you spread your wings?
Unless you're still a caterpillar
Why don't you fly along
Why don't you come along?

'Cause my wings don't need air
My wings don't need air
My wings don't need air
She makes me fly

'Cause my wings don't need air
My wings don't need air
My wings don't need air
She makes me fly

one started in April with the "This Day" part. Then I came up
with the the "wings don't need air" melody and joined both parts
with an instrumental bit I came up with months ago.

* * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

Car broke down
Way outta town
Bears all around
Lock the doors

And the Grizzlies roam
In the Brown bears's home
I'm in two time zones

Aiken Waterfield
Aiken Waterfield
Aiken Waterfield

Can't find my car
We hiked too far
Where the hell we are,
The trees all look the same

And the Grizzlies roam
In the Brown bears's home
I'm in two time zones

Aiken Waterfield
Aiken Waterfield
Aiken Waterfield

NOTES ON "AIKEN WATERFIELD": Stylistically, somewhere between late Cobain, early REM. I came up with the title "Aiken Waterfield" years ago, but never had use for it till I came up with the melody for it last month.

* * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

Mid-autumn afternoon
Drapes like a parachute

Streams through the willow trees
At a late-day angle

Mid-autumn afternoon
Drapes like a parachute

That breeze smells like snow on the way
A jaundiced sky way up high

It's that time of somethin'
Cats chewin' leftover pumpkin

Mid-autumn afternoon
Drapes like a parachute

NOTES ON "EASIN'": Initially I was trying for a George Jones sort of thing, with part of the chorus sung by many voices. But then it evolved into something more melodic.

* * *
* * *

I was out and about in San Francisco yesterday; here's a photo

I shot of the marketplace at the Ferry Building:

[photo by Paul Iorio]

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- A few random observations about the Murdoch scandal:

1. Reporters should be looking at similar instances
of bending-of-the-rules and unethical viciousness at other
Murdoch companies, maybe even Fox Searchlight
(check out how they go after people in litigation) or
HarperCollins (ditto). What most of the media is failing to
see is that Rupert has set a tone that permeates every
company he owns.

2. Rebekah Brooks would not look nearly as good without her
long hair. If she were to shave her head, she'd look ordinary.

3. Dear Rebekah, I sure hope Rupe is payin' ya lots of hush money,
because he's implicitly trashing your ass on TV, saying, "I didn't do it,
it was Rebekah, who I trusted, and she betrayed me." If I were her,
I'd be steamin' right about now.

4. Murdoch, on the hot seat today, said that his poor, poor
daddy was so poor that he only owned one newspaper. How deprived.

5. Murdoch has been so vicious over the years that I am having
enormous satisfaction seeing this Mubarak of the media getting his
just desserts. And his son's main talent seems to be inheriting
his daddy's money.

6. Unlike Rupe, I'm not a fan of tidiness. Tidiness, to paraphrase
Dashiell Hammett, implies a level of dishonest calculation (similar
to Rupe's testimony today). What's next, Rupe? Public tears at a press
conference, endlessly rehearsed in front of PR consultants the
day before?

[updated 7/20/11]



for July 17 - 18, 2011

OK, I've just seen several new films and here're my



It's Allen's best film since "Match Point," but no way is it as

great as "Bullets Over Broadway" or any Woody masterwork

before it.

The appeal here is the concept: a guy visits Paris and

is magically transported back to the 1920s, where he

hangs out with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Scott

and Zelda, Picasso, etc.

Problem is that Allen's portraits of the greats of the '20s

are too idealized.

We get no real sense of these geniuses as workaday writers

and painters, many of them unappreciated in their time, some

having a hard time making a living and paying bills. That

may well be Allen's intention -- to show the protagonist's

wishful POV -- but, if so, that doesn't seem to play into

the meaning of the film. (I mean, Owen Wilson's character

doesn't stop at any point and wonder whether he's romanticizing

these people. And Rachel McAdams's character doesn't

chide him for idealizing his artistic heroesof the Twenties.)

I kept wanting to see some realism: an artist harassed by debt

collectors, or unjustly accused of plagiarism by a mediocre

rival, or unable to pay medical bills resulting from a

Hemingwayesque barroom brawl. Or Hemingway himself, hugging

the toilet and vomiting from too much booze. (Or imagine

dropping in on another era, on Van Gogh on a typical day,

when the artist, smelly and rude, was being put down as a

wannabe by lesser, more successful contemporaries.)

Face it, that was the true quotidian reality of some of

these "great" artists. Celebrated now (from a safe

distance by high-end museum curators and academics),

too many brilliant artists of the past were actually

shunned in their day and wouldn't even have been

invited to present-day galas honoring their work

(if they were still around today). (The real Van Gogh

would have been kicked out of any museum's opening

night party celebrating a Van Gogh exhibition. And

the real Caravaggio would have made the fictional

Cheech (of "Bullets...") look like a Boy Scout.)

Instead, the film just gives us Champagne and chandeliers.

(Even Zelda is all dressed up and perfectly groomed

as she attempts suicide.) It's a vision from an

artist -- Allen -- whose world view has been skewed

and distorted by a freakish level of fame and

success over a protracted period. Allen has never really

experienced the phenomenon of being an unknown or

underappreciated talent. His memory of being an

obscure film maker can only be dim and distant, at best.

And this picture reflects that.

And the film's premise should've been taken in a different

direction. I kept wanting Owen Wilson's character to return

to the Twenties with a later work by some of the

artists he was partying with. Imagine if Owen's character

had brought Hemingway one of his 1950s works -- say, "The

Old Man and the Sea" -- and passed it off as his own in

order to get Hemingway's reaction. Or if he had brought

a print of "Guernica" to Picasso and said, "What do you

think of this?"

That would have been fascinating. (And it would have allowed

Owen's character to become the toast of 1920s Paris for a

time!) And that would have put it in league with the much

wiser and far more knowing "Bullets Over Broadway."

* * * *


Some of the visuals here are nothing short of astonishing,

the best special effects since "Inception," particularly

the sequence in which people slide down the slanted

surface of a glass skyscraper. But the moon-landing

conspiracy theory plot leaves me cold (I've covered that

aspect in a previous Digression, below).

* * * *


This may well be the funniest comedy of 2011, a

recession-era piece that should be paired with

"Lost in America" for a double bill at a revival house.

From those two flicks, you can learn all

the truth you need to know about American capitalism.

Three main characters ride this giddy concept -- let's murder

our abusive bosses! -- to the hilt, as they feloniously plot

against their truly despicable employers. And Kevin Spacey,

as the main tyrannical boss, hasn't been this dazzling since

"American Beauty." Highly recommended.

* * * * *


The headline here is that Kristen Wiig is not just very,

very funny; she's also a terrific actress, almost

Chaplinesque in her pathos and her ability to convey

loneliness, desolation.

This flick starts as an ensemble feature but soon turns into

something like a Wiig vehicle, if only because she's the

best thing about it.

Wiig highlights abound, but check out the hilarious scene

in which she walks the line for a sobriety test. (Amazing

no one had thought of doing that on screen before.)

Fresh, funny, original. And Wiig's growth curve has been

straight up lately.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- I just read the usually brilliant Virginia Heffernan's

piece (at about typos and editors. And I just

roared with laughter when I read this bit about the

supposed impact of the absence of copyeditors in publishing:

Curious readers now get regular glimpses of raw and frank
and interesting mistakes that give us access to unedited minds.

In other words, she believes, the writer writes imperfectly and

and the copyeditor corrects it.

If ever there was a case of reality being over here and

her perceptions being many thousands of miles from that

reality, that is it.

When I was a writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, copyeditors

almost always created errors every time they took out their

pens. In fact, I plan to devote an entire website to the

juxtaposition of my original unedited manuscripts with the

copyedited versions, always inferior. Top ten howlers by

copyeditors at the Chronicle include: I wrote "[they] arrived at

the party"; the "polished" copyedited version: "[they]

arrived to the party." In another instance: my version was

"he died of a busted aorta"; the "polished" copyedited version:

"he died of a burst aorta." And on and on.

Granted, Heffernan is talking mostly about book

publishing, but the principle is the same.

[updated July 19, 2011]



for July 14, 2011

Is Buzz Aldrin Irresponsibly Stoking Lunar
Landing Conspiracy Theories in "Transformers 3"?

Lunar or loony? Buzz in "Transformers 3."

What's Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon,

doing in a film on conspiracy theories about the NASA

moon landing program?

Yeah, Buzz has a cameo in a little indie art-house gem called

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (aka, "Transformers 3'),

actually the top blockbuster of 2011 so far -- and likely

to stay that way, despite stiff competition from the

new Potter flick.

Anyway, there's Aldrin, fifteen minutes in, implicitly

lending legitimacy to the flick's fantasy premise:

that NASA's voyages to the moon were about investigating

the crash of an extraterrestrial spacecraft on the

lunar surface.

The fictional premise is hard to believe even for the

two-and-a-half hour span of the picture, but I'm sure

some are coming out of theaters thinking that's what the

moon landings were really all about.

In the world according to "Transformers 3," the cover-up

of the E.T. crash on the moon is also sort of folded

into Nixon's package of Watergate crimes.

"We were sworn to secrecy by our commander-in-chief,"

says Aldrin.

OK, you could say it's all done in good fun and

Aldrin is being a good sport by making such a cameo.

But this flick, playing to crowds who probably think the

moon landings were staged, doesn't have a campy or an ironic

bone in its body.

And Aldrin's appearance in the movie makes it seem as

if he's sort of gone over the proverbial deep end, or

something. (The fact that he has had mental health

problems over the decades feeds this perception.)

After all, in popular mythology, Aldrin is sort of seen as

the moonwalker who was driven nuts by the fact that

he was tantalizingly close to becoming

the first human being to have walked on the moon.

The fact that he's the second person to have walked on

the moon has been a bit of a sore point for him over

the years, it seems.

And in the film, Frances McDormand's character sort of

re-writes history a bit so that Buzz gets his first-on-the-moon

trophy after all.

"Allow me to please introduce to you...astronaut doctor Buzz

Aldrin, one of the first two men to set foot on the moon," says

McDormand in the film.

Which is like introducing John Adams by saying, "Welcome

President John Adams, one of the first two presidents

of the United States."

Wow! People with wounded egos all over the world can start

using that verbal trickl! (My uncle was one of the first

two people to find a cure for polio! Sweetwater was one

of the first two acts to play Woodstock!)

Aldrin should explain himself on this one. Appearing in a

straight pic about lunar landing conspiracy theories is

sort of like Jacqueline Onassis making a cameo in Oliver

Stone's "J.F.K."

An alien spacecraft crashes on the moon!
(And Michael Bay had a video camera there to
capture the moment!)

* * * *
* * * *

Harry Potter and the Curse of Puberty

All signs say the new Potter movie will probably be

the biggest of the series, grossing somewhere near

$325 million domestically.

But that still won't make it number one for the year (I bet that

honor goes to "Transformers 3").

And remember, no Potter film has ever cracked the top twenty

all-time box office list. Only the inaugural "Harry

Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" has come close (at #25).

Me, I've never been a Potter fan. In fact, I've never

been able to get through a single Potter flick without

dozing off, truth be told. It's not that it's

kid's stuff; it's goody-goody kid's stuff. Boring.

And all the big budget production values (with every

dollar on the screen!) and only-the-best craft doesn't

impress me at all. Give me a shaky hand-held Cassavetes

flick with imagination and heart any day over the expensive

techniques and impeccable craft of something like, say,

"How Do You Know" or the Potter flicks. )The ideal, of

course, is to mix impeccable craft with great artistry

a la Kubrick or Polanski.) "Only the best" is a phrase

too often (though not always) used by people who have more money

than ideas or imagination.

* * * *

By the way, Woody Allen has just had his

highest-grossing film ever with "Midnight in

Paris" (though, adjusted for inflation, "Hannah,"

"Manhattan" and "Annie Hall" had higher


But I digress. Paul



for July 7 - 13, 2011

The Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute.
Please enter through the Illinois Governor's Mansion.

[by Paul Iorio/photo from FCI website]

* * * *

Chris Wragge of CBS's "The Early Show" cracked a funny

one the other morning. After a segment on Al Capone,

Wragge drily quipped: "They talk about the mob element in

Chicago. But we don't have any of that in New York and

New Jersey."

* * * *

* * * *

original joke of the day!

Unconfirmed rumors say Mitt Romney is writing a memoir about

his affluent upbringing, "It Takes a Villa."

* * * *
* * * *

Regarding my post (below) on my tenure at the San

Francisco Chronicle and related matters (scroll

down to the word "Wiegand"): the fact that David Wiegand

of the Chronicle is a plagiarist is only one

reason why he should have been fired from the paper

a long time ago.

Other reasons include the fact that he was prone to writing

fraudulent employee evaluation reports. Now, lookee here,

I don't mind if someone writes a negative evaluation of

me based on an honest assessment. But I do mind what

Wiegand did; he deliberately misrepresented the factual record.

I mean, when I was staff writer at the Chronicle, I always

came in early (sometimes hours early), worked six and seven

day weeks (when I was required to work only five days)

and NEVER missed a deadline. Never. In fact, I never even

had to get a deadline extension (and many other staffers did).

And it's no coincidence, by the way, that I wrote

the best feature story published in the Chronicle during

the year when I was staff writer there (the Ferlinghetti

article, which Wiegand would have killed had he not been

distracted by upper management with extra vacation time).

Yet after I exposed Wiegand as a plagiarist, Wiegand retaliated

against me by saying I came in late (when I came in early every

day), that I missed days (when I never missed a day, and that's

for sure!). He signed my time sheets, so he knew full

well what the facts were and that he was not telling the

truth in the evaluation.

I mean, how Hearst avoids firing Wiegand is beyond my

comprehension. But they pay the price in journalistic


If you guys at Hearst/Chronicle were truly professional,

you would ask David Wiegand the following question:

Did you lie when you signed Paul Iorio's timesheets, or

did you lie when you wrote the evaluation of Iorio?

Because the timesheets said Paul came in every day

and on time; your evaluation said Paul didn't. So which

one is the lie?

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- By the way, I was on the beat or ahead of the beat

with every story I did for the Chronicle. If I was doing

a story about a movie opening on Friday, I had it done

and finished well in advance and ahead of deadline.

But Wiegand would frequently undermine my work by

holding back a finished piece that required no editing,

delaying it just slightly so that it had less freshness

and less timeliness. (My Cavett piece was a prime example,

but not the only one.) Let it be known, also, that

the San Francisco Chronicle could have been the

first newspaper anywhere to have published a feature on the

brand new series "C.S.I." I was on to "C.S.I."

in 2000 when nobody else was and had an interview with

Bruckheimer all lined up, but Wiegand nixed the idea.

In the end, The Chronicle spent all that money to relocate

and hire a writer (me) with a reputation for being ahead

of pop culture trends before anybody else, and they

stuck me with an editor who tried to bury my major scoops!

No wonder the San Francisco Chronicle loses a million

dollars a week. With editors like Wiegand, I'm surprised

the paper hasn't been shuttered altogether.



for July 6, 2011

Here's some more information that might help

you understand my claims against Dan Rosenheim, the

guy who runs the newsroom of the CBS television

affiliate in San Francisco.

As I said, Rosenheim wrote a letter to the

San Francisco Chronicle's main editor (and my

boss) Matt Wilson in 2000 (around the time of

the presidential election) saying that he had

had a conversation with me about an article of


But at the time he wrote that letter to Wilson,

Rosenheim and I had never ever talked or communicated

in any way.

I know that not only from memory, but from notes,

calendars and from the fact that I used to audiotape

almost every person I interviewed.

We had not talked when he wrote that letter.

Dan Rosenheim is a flat-out liar.

Now, what was his motivation?

That's a question for him, not for me, but I can

offer some background that might help you

understand the situation.

First, Rosenheim had been the top editor at

the San Francisco Chronicle in previous

years and knew the then-current editor, Wilson,

quite well.

Second, though I had my supporters at the paper,

I also had my detractors, chief among them

David Wiegand in features.

Wiegand, a silly rural sort of guy who wanted to push

coverage toward puppet shows and circuses, is the

person who physically held up the Rosenheim letter

in front of my face for me to see -- and Wiegand

was smiling large as he did so, in the manner

of someone who knew a dirty track was afoot. And

Wiegand did this a few minutes or so before I was

supposed to call Rosenheim about another story

(it would be the first time I had ever spoken

with Rosenheim).

As Wiegand held up the letter, I could see it

was bait. After all, Wiegand was showing me

a flagrantly false claim by Rosenheim mere minutes

before I was to speak with Rosenheim. (He

fraudulently claimed in the letter that I

had admitted to errors in a piece that was

completely error-free. BTW, don't let him

falsely shift which story it was; it was the Election

Day '00 story in which I wrote a guide to

upcoming television coverage of the election

returns; it was NOT a ratings piece. Not

finding any errors in the story, he was reduced

to objecting to the phrase "various anchors."

So Wiegand lit the fuse and expected me to blow

my top at Rosenheim and/or call Rosenheim a liar.

And seeing that the letter was bait, I did neither.

As unethical as it sounds, the Chronicle had

a de facto policy: going against the

friend of a major editor at the Chronicle was

virtually a firable offense. And Rosenheim

was a pal of Matt Wilson's.

So the choreography was this, in all likelihood:

show Paul the Rosenheim letter full of blatant lies just

before Paul interviews Rosenheim; watch Paul

call Rosenheim a liar; watch Paul, who was

in his probationary period at the Chronicle,

be called into Wilson's office; watch Wilson

say something like "Shut the door. I hear you called

my friend Dan Rosenheim a liar...." Watch

Paul be escorted to the Human Resources department

for his exit from the company.

But none of that choreography happened, because

I didn't take the bait (to mix a metaphor!).

It should be noted that David Wiegand is a

thoroughly biased source about my time at

the Chronicle. Wiegand started undermining my work

on February 9, 1999, when he tried to add a

plagiarized line to one of my stories (on the

rock musical "Rent"). And I stopped him from

adding the line and reported him to his superior.

What it looked like Wiegand was trying to do was this:

he was trying to insert a plagiarized line into

a story of mine so that he could later (falsely) point

to it as proof that I had plagiarized.

Thankfully, I recognized the line from The Times

immediately and stopped him from putting it the piece.

I even had a spirited email exchange (from February

9th to 12th, 1999) with Wiegand about his attempted

plagiarism. (I still have those messages, too.)

Here's the line from the New York Times that Wiegand

tried to plagiarize (below):

And here's my article on "Rent" that ran in the

San Francisco Chronicle on February 28, 1999:

* * * *

After three years of working for the San

Francisco Chronicle as a freelance writer, I was

finally hired as a staff writer/reporter in

2000. Unfortunately, I had to report to -- you

guessed it! -- David Wiegand.

I had previously written mostly for Ruthe Stein,

a far better editor. And here is her evaluation of me,

after having been my editor for three years, in a

letter of recommendation:

Letter of recommendation from my main
editor at the San Francisco Chronicle (above).

An accompanying note.

And (for skeptics) here's the envelope it
came in!

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- By the way, my record as a journalist is

completely clean; my error rate during my four

years at the Chronicle was zero percent!

But who knows what trivial crap Wiegand & Co. will

bring up now that I've blown the whistle on liars?

(Already I'm hearing echoes of one rumor: that I erased

content from the hard drive of my computer at

the San Francisco Chronicle. My response: you

bet I did! Multiple times, too! The hard drive of

my El Cheapo Computer at the Chronicle was completely

full and out of memory at several points in the Fall

of '00, so I couldn't write any new content on my

computer without first deleting old files. So guess

what I did? I deleted old files (mostly previous

drafts of stories I'd written) to free up space on

the hard drive! Whatta scandal!

The real scandal is that dishonest jerks like Wiegand,

who should have been fired a long time ago, are

spreading that sort of distorted slander. (Meanwhile,

he lets staffers who have committed real journalistic

felonies -- like Edward Guthmann -- get away with

their transgressions.)

P.S. -- As a sidenote: after I left the San Francisco

Chronicle, I soon discovered that the well-connected

editors there had polluted the air for me in the

newspaper business. Though I went back to freelancing

for The Washington Post and other papers, I ran into

a newly hostile environment at publications

where I had previously done successful work and

had successful relationships. I must say that some

of the very best editors I've ever worked with have been

at The Washington Post; but in the wake of my

whistleblowing at the Chronicle, I experienced a

first (for me): a botched edit of one of my stories

for The Post. (BTW, note to that particular editor;

if you're going to unfairly characterize that edit at

my expense, then I'll have to further clarify what

happened (and the back-and-forth emails on that

particular story tell the tale quite clearly).)

[updated 7/7/2011]


for July 2, 2011

Channeling Maureen Dowd:

Here's What She's Thinking as She Tries to Write Her Next
Column (in the Wake of Being Wrong About the Diallo Case).

Uh, let's see. My next column. How 'bout this lede:

He is on trial for assault; she is not on
trial for checking the wrong box on her
immigration application.

No, too strident. Have to dial back after wrongly
praising her before all the facts were in last May.

Hmmm. I'll try this:

There is finally a verdict in the DSK case:
the maid is guilty of having a boyfriend who smokes pot.

I don't know. People will start saying I won't admit
it when I'm wrong. (I hope that Daily Digression
guy doesn't dig up my column defending Jayson Blair.)

Lemme try this:

Willie Dixon, whose work was plundered, uncredited, by
later generations of white rock poseurs, said it best:
"You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover."

The Guinean housekeeper versus the Euro homewrecker.
The African immigrant making a life for herself
versus the Frenchman making anyone but his own wife.

Dunno. Sounds too much like other stuff I've written.
This oped gig's getting stale. Dammit, just when Jill
fully unleashes me, my Diallo blunder screws things up!

By the way, that doorman on 8th Avenue keeps
looking at my gams every time I walk by. Men are
such pigs!!!! I have half a mind to stop shaving
altogether and walk into the newsroom with hairy legs.
Hah! I bet you're not salivating now, boys! Just
like the brave feminists of '70! Steinem. Do I
have a current number for her? Maybe I can do
a column: "Steinem at '77, Sunset." Something
like that.

My mind's wandering. Focus. Next column.
How about this lede:

Fourteen years ago, when the president's peachy time
in the Oval Office was leading to impeachment....

No, not timely enough. How about this:

Rummy's memoir is proving to be about as popular as
a sexually abusive priest in America: it's rocketed
to number 3,000 or so on Amazon.

That's it! Change the subject!

But I digress. Paul

[posted at 10 a.m., 7/2/2011]



for June 30, 2011

Nafissatou Diallo, the Maid in DSK Case, Had a Knack
for Doing Both Laundry and Laundering

Nafissatou Diallo, the extortionist-ish maid in the DSK case:
"Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money," she said
in an obscure Guinean dialect to a jailhouse pal, according to "I know what I’m doing." (You can write
to her at 120 West 116th Street in NYC (I still have to
doublecheck that address) and tell her what you think!)

I have two words for Maureen Dowd: Crystal Mangum.

If Dowd hasn't learned from that case (and from the Tawana Brawley

fraud before it) that female opportunists, playing the gender card,

sometimes make false accusations against men they

wanna shake down or bring low, then she hasn't been reading her

own newspaper over the last few years.

Don't get me wrong, Dowd's portrait of Nafissatou Diallo,

the maid in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, is beautifully

written and moving, bathing the Sofitel housekeeper in the

glow of righteousness and the light of true north. (I think

it was titled "Portrait of the Con Artist as a Young Woman"

(May 17, 2011, the New York Times).)

And the part about Diallo escaping oppression in Guinea

included everything but alligators snapping at her ass

as she made her daring exit (to paraphrase Joseph L. Mankiewicz).

A very "proper dignified woman," "a devout Muslim," "a simple woman."

That's what Dowd quoted sources as saying about Diallo in her

May 17th column.

OK, now for some reality.

A few details about this "simple dignified" woman have since

come to light (via The New York Times) and are therefore

missing from Dowd's airbrushed portrait.

Like...her best bud is in prison, charged with selling 400-pounds of

pot (slightly more than a joint, I think) and depositing huge

sums of money into her multiple bank accounts in multiple cities.

And other dudes have put money in her accounts to the tune of

six figures. (Wow! That happens to me all the time!)

Looks like -- looks like -- this "simple dignified woman" has a bit of

a second career laundering!

Diallo also recently had an audiotaped conversation

with the fella with the 400-lbs of joints about how

she could have a lucrative third career -- what a hardworking maid

she is! -- making money from the DSK case. Which looks like -- looks

like -- extortion.

Oh, but Dowd has a defense of this "simple dignified" woman.

The maid "'did not even know who [DSK] was' until she saw

the news accounts,'" Dowd wrote, quoting a source.

'Cept for one thing, Maureen. The "simple dignified" maid

did know that the guy staying in the suite had enough

money to afford three thousand dollars a night for it.

So she knew she was walking in on a very wealthy guy -- and

probably knew he was taking a shower, too (one can

tell from the sound of the bathroom pipes in the hallway).

Hate to digress, but you'd think that paying three thousand

dollars a night for a suite at the Sofitel would get you

a room in which extortionate maids don't walk in on you

while you're naked and dripping. I mean, shouldn't that be

one of the perks? (By the way the Sofitel really did a

super background check on the housekeeper, no?)

Also this simple woman -- with a knack for doing both laundry

and laundering (a multi-talent) -- lies. A lot. And that

comes from the prosecutors. (Jeff Shapiro, the defense attorney

who believed Diallo, will be eating lotza crow in coming days.

Maybe he can change the subject to Imus.)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- My decision to release the maid's name, which
many other news organizations are keeping confidential,
is based on the fact that it now appears that she -- not
DSK -- is the criminal in this case. If she is the crook
in this situation, then why are we naming DSK, who, after all,
has the presumption of innocence? This is looking more like
the Diallo Extortion Case rather than the DSK Assault Case,
hence it's now appropriate to name the de facto perp.

* * * *

P.S. --

When in New York,

Stay at the Sofitel and enjoy plush luxury.

Our $3,000-a-night suites include extortionate maids

who walk in on you while you're in the shower!

[updated July 1, 2011]



for June 29, 2011

Almost everybody applauds the legalization of gay

marriage in New York. But isn't it funny that

same-sex couples are finally getting the right to

marry at the exact time in history when a new

generation is abandoning the institution? Recent

studies show an increasing number of young people

are avoiding marriage completely, choosing to live

together instead.

I mean, when you think about it, marriage does seem sort

of old-fashioned, an awkward combination of lovey-dovey

and sign-right-here.

So gays now have the right to practice an outdated

ritual. It's almost -- almost -- like saying you now

have the right to worship Zeus. Or like: "You were

onced barred from the Edsel dealership, but you

finally have the right to buy a 1959 Edsel station wagon!"

Hey, knock yourself out!

Those who are saying "wow, even some devout Catholics are

backing gay marriage -- how progressive!" are ignoring the fact

that it's not progressive to be a devout Catholic, or a

devout Muslim, or a devout Jew. The human race is

and has been moving in the opposite direction,

away from fundamentalism, away from supernatural beliefs and

explanations that everybody knows couldn't possibly be true.

So I find it quaint when someone says that this archbishop

or that religulous pol is really at the edge of culture

for supporting same sex unions. Because his very religiosity

marks him as -- hate to say it -- backward.

You wanna be truly progressive, 300 years ahead of your time?

Dump your religious beliefs.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- I absolutely love something Salman Rushdie once

said: before the ancient Greek myths were myths, they were the

the Greek religion. And people back then believed that

stuff about Zeus and Icarus and Daedalus just as much

as people believe in God and the myth of Christ today.

(Hey, I've actually been to the cave in Crete where

Zeus was supposedly born; that was once a sacred site.)

In several hundred years, we will view the myths of

the Bible, the Koran and the Torah the way we now view

Greek mythology. He who goes in that direction now is

a progressive.

* * * *

* * * *

Don't you hate it when people try to equate the producer

of a music album with the director of a feature film? Those

in the know know the two are not similar or analogous. There

is no equivalent in pop music to a "director." There is no

"director" of a pop album, unless you're talking about the

recording artist. As someone noted in the New York Times

the other month, the director of a movie is the artist

in most cases. However, the producer of an album (except

in rare cases) works for the artist and is not

the artist himself.



for June 29, 2011


Fun Obscure Facts About Michele Bachmann!

Michele's One-time Long-time Church!

It used to be called the Salem Evangelical Lutheran
Church and School, but they recently dropped the Evangelical
part. Located in Stillwater, Minn.

I was able to unearth the vanished past websites of
the church, which are far flakier than the
current website. The old church sites were
full of folksy kooky wisdom like:

"Trust in God but lock your car so as not to tempt others."

The older editions of the church website also had
"Emergency Phone Numbers" listed:

When in John 14
When men fail Psalm 27
When you have Psalm 51
When you Matthew 6:19-34
When you are in Psalm 91"

You get the idea. And the emergency listings go on

and on and on, finally ending with the punchline: "All lines

to Heaven are open 24 hours a day!"

And who is the guiding light of this church of the flakes?

The Rev. Marcus Birkholz, who, according to the old website,

likes to hunt for sport (after a hard day of preaching "thou

shall not kill," no doubt).

Meet Bachmann's pastor (he likes to kill mammals for fun!)
The Rev. Marcus Birkholz, home-schooled hunter!

Now Meet Michele's Financial Backers!

According to my own search of FEC data, Michele takes money

from Big Tobacco (Altria, which sells Marlboro), Big Pharma

(GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer), and from extremist groups with names

like Government Is Not God and The Home School Legal Defense

Association (plus, of course, the NRA and Eagle Forum).

Stay tuned to the Digression for more fun factoids about

everybody's favorite Minnesota Tea Party Gal!

But I digress. Paul



for June 28, 2011

Athens, Greece, This Morning

[photo credit: Mike Blake of Reuters]

Thousands of years ago, the seat of power

shifted northward from Cairo to Athens (and

then to Rome). Will the revolutions now sweeping

the globe start making the same northward journey?

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Oh, I can hear the pundits now,

offering overly-detailed explanations about

why the situations in Cairo and Athens are

different, very very different. These, of course,

would be the same pundits who -- before the

Arab Spring was in full bloom -- said that

Libya and Egypt and Tunisia are very very

different countries and what has happened in

Tunisia would never and could never spread to

other parts of the region. Some pundits

out there have the track record of Moody's

Investors Service, the corrupt and/or incompetent

firm that gave triple A ratings to companies on

the verge of collapse in '08. The fact that experts who are

consistently proven wrong can still be booked on mainstream

news programs as talking heads is a scandal.

* * * *

P.S. -- Regarding my item (below), in which I call KPIX's Dan

Rosenheim a liar: yes, you heard me quite right. Rosenheim, who

runs the newsroom at the CBS affiliate in San Francisco, is

a liar who creates fiction and tries to pass it off as fact.

When KPIX says Rosenheim meets their ethical standards,

they're saying that this paragraph (below) should be

allowed in journalism:

Today I spoke with President Obama and we had
a long talk about his health care reform plan.
Obama admitted to me that there were many flaws
in his health care plan and he detailed some of
them in our conversation.

The above bit about Obama, obviously, didn't happen, of course.

But that's an exact equivalent to what Rosenheim wrote in the

case I mentioned in a previous Digression: he made up a

conversation out of whole cloth and wrote about it. Same thing.

By keeping Rosenheim in his job, the CBS affiliate

in San Francisco is effectively saying: it's OK to fabricate

conversations and pass them off as non-fiction. Keeping

Rosenheim in his job makes it hard for KPIX to have

much credibility in its news reporting.

It's funny how many journalists and professors of journalism

who pretend to be high-minded suddenly aren't when it

comes to one of their own in a top position at a

major media company.

P.S. - By the way, I distinctly remember that Rosenheim and I did NOT

talk in the imaginary conversation he cited in his letter.

In fact, I have a vivid memory of NOT having had the

conversation he cited in his letter. Wanna

figure this out using common sense? OK, why would

I have admitted to making factual errors in an

article that had no factual errors?

So, KPIX, if you're brave enough, go find

find out if you have a liar running your newsroom.

Check out the paper version of the Chronicle

story (just before the 2000 election) about upcoming television

coverage of the presidential election. Fact check

it. It checks out, right? Then why the hell

would I have admitted in a conversation that there

were errors in an accurate piece? Rosenheim

is a flat out liar

[updated 7/6/11]



for June 26, 2011

Last Night's Alison Krauss & Union Station Concert

Krauss and Co. opened last night's show in Berkeley (Calif.)

with the first two tracks of their new album: the Dar

Williams-ish "Paper Airplane" (which has the great line

"Love conquers few") and the marvelous "Dust Bowl Children."

And then the band charged into a riveting banjo-driven

instrumental that turned out to be the best thing they

played all night.

Other highlights included The Foundations's "Baby, Now That

I've Found You"; a solo turn by Jerry Douglas, the Ravi

Shankar of the dobro; and "Daylight," with its interesting

time-signature changes.

But the second half of the show was not nearly as good.

I'm not as impressed as others are with "Man of Constant

Sorrow," which is terrific at first but then becomes

a formulaic exercise in mechanically shifting from first

person to third person; the joke wears thin ("my joke wears

thin/his joke wears thin").

And stuff like "Away Down the River" is, frankly,

sorta boring. (Even the crowd in the hills above

the Greek Theater, where I heard the gig, began to

thin out near the end.)

So here's advice to anyone planning to see the band: get

there early, because if you miss the first ten minutes,

you'll miss a fantastic blast of energy, the best part of

the show. But leave mid-way through, after Jerry Douglas's

star turn.

* * * * *

* * * * *

Best question asked on the Sunday morning talk

shows today belongs to Bob Schieffer of CBS News's

"Face the Nation." He asked Michelle Bachmann:

"Did God ask you to run for the Minnesota State Senate?"

The embarrassed look on her face said it all; even she doesn't

really -- I mean, really -- believe that fundamentalist

crap when it comes down to it.

* * * * *

* * * * *

In Afghanistan, opium is the opiate of the people!

But I digress. Paul



for June 25, 2011

Husker Du, and The Difference Between Sound Auteur and Song Auteur

The main thing about Robert Christgau is that his reviews are

sometimes more memorable and substantial than the stuff

he's reviewing. (In more than a few instances, when I think

of a particular album, I recall his review more vividly

than the work itself.)

Such is probably also the case with his review (in this Sunday's

New York Times Book Review section) of two new books

about Husker Du (though I wouldn't know for sure because I

haven't read the books yet).

As someone who interviewed all three members of Husker Du

in person several times in the 1980s and reviewed a few of

their live shows -- my first was a raucous gig at Columbia University

at which someone in the crowd threw a bottle at Bob Mould -- lemme

blog an observation or two.

The idea among some fans and critics that the Mould/Hart

split in Husker Du was sort of Lennon/McCartneyish turns

out to be mistaken. (What I mean by "Lennon/McCartneyish"

is: a band in which there are two competing songwriters with

distinctly different aesthetics.)

In retrospect, Mould now seems more like the Johnny Ramone

of the band, the auteur of his group's sound, not the songwriting.

In terms of songwriting, Grant Hart was superior to Mould

by a mile (in a game of inches). To coin a phrase, the

proof is in the pudding! Every single time I go

back to those Husker Du albums, I cut right to the Hart

compositions, specifically: "Turn on the News," "Don't

Want to Know If You are Lonely," "Never Talking to You Again,"

"Sorry Somehow," etc. The only Mould song I go back to

is "It's Not Peculiar," his best.

As I said, Husker partisans don't split as neatly as those

saying, I prefer McCartney, you prefer Lennon. Because

the guitarist on every one of those Hart songs -- in a

band where the guitar ruled (unlike the Beatles,

where songs ruled) -- is Mould, the sound sculptor and a

writer whose default mode was, alas, self-pity. How Hart's

tracks would have sounded if left solely to Hart's own

devices is unknown.

And in terms of the fabled Twin Cities rivalry, I definitely

preferred (and prefer) the Replacements (albeit the Mats with Bob

Stinson) -- and I think time has vindicated that view.

A quarter century later, the mainstream legacy and influence

of all those players is clear. Hart was the forerunner of

the Foo Fighters, Mould was the forerunner of Death Cab (a very

different band, to be sure, but think about it), and Paul Westerberg,

the biggest of the three talents, spawned Nirvana, the best of

the four.

But I digress. Paul



for June 22 - 23, 2011

[by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Regarding the end of the Afghanistan war: it's about

time, though I think the drone campaign in the FATAs

should continue. The killing of bin Laden provided the

war's narrative climax, making this the aftermath. If

we hadn't eliminated bin laden, the situation in

Afghanistan would've seemed like unfinished business.

What is not being discussed is that ten years have

passed in Afghanistan, too, and there is a new generation of

15-year olds there who have no first-hand memory of the 9/11

attacks. And they've not been indoctrinated into jihadism and

fundamentalism through the madrassas system like previous

generations in their country. Which means a far more moderate

wave of adults is going to take charge there in a few years.

(Sure, there'll be a minority radicalized because

theAmericansbombedmyvillage, but that's probably

a small group.)

By the way, I came across this photo in the New York Times from

years ago of the twin towers being built in the 1970s. And it

really brought me back to my first memory of the towers -- seeing

them in '76 on my way to an airport -- and my second memory of

them, in '79, when I moved to Manhattan. I remember my roommate

saying, "Have you been to that new building downtown, the

World Trade Center yet?" And I said, I'm going down there

this weekend. And I did (and eventually even worked in the


* * * *

Ah, New York in the late Seventies, early Eighties:

this is what the newsstands (remember newsstands?)

looked like then:

Now defunct, but much beloved at the time:
The Soho Weekly News.

And, of course, in those years, everyone loved

The Ramones, the first great New York band

of the World Trade Center era. (You know,

everybody says punk grew from the squalor

of bankruptcy-era New York, but I don't think

that's the whole story; New York was also

expressing a very brash spirit with the

twin towers, and punk was -- sorta -- of-a-piece

with that brashness.) But, alas, even

they have already checked out:

But I digress. Paul



for June 21, 2011

I've just seen a few new flicks, and here're my reviews:

Matthew Vaughn's "X-MEN: FIRST CLASS"

The main reason to watch this is -- believe it or not -- Kevin

Bacon, terrific as a suave, cruel villain. Bacon has rarely

been this confident and fun on screen in recent years. If

this were the work of a first-time actor, Bacon would be

discovered all over again -- and would be up

for lots of blockbuster roles in a Bond/Bourne vein.

There's also some nice visual magic here (e.g., the

explosion of diverted airborne bombs near the end).

It's a period piece, too, taking place mostly in '62, so

some of it resembles "Mad Men" meets "X-Men." (There's

interesting newsreel footage of JFK looking surprisingly

downbeat after his Cuban Missile Crisis triumph).

As comic book movies go, this one's good, though the

arbitrariness of the superpowers of the X-Men make it

less than fully satisfying.

* * * *

Jon Knautz's "THE SHRINE"

This has not yet had a theatrical release in the States,

despite the fact that horror aficionados might

enjoy it.

For the first fifty minutes, I was thinking: Whoa,

have I stumbled on a "Blair Witch Project" that nobody

has noticed yet? Because the tension is such that even a

twig in the forest poking a character in the back of

the head creates a bit of fright early on.

But then it quickly veers from "Blair Witch" to "Deliverance"

to "The Hills Have Eyes' to...exploitative splattercore and


Too bad. Because the first hour showed real promise (for those

with a willing suspension of disbelief in some of the acting,

which is notably underrehearsed).

* * * *

(my review of Disc 3 ran on 6/6, below)

This appearance by Presley on Sullivan, a few days before the

'56 presidential election, included performances

of entire songs (instead of the medley he would do

a couple months later).

The highlight, by a mile, is a truly rockin' "Hound Dog,"

w/sizzlin' guitar playin' by Scotty Moore, sounding

around a quarter century ahead of his time. But the

"Love Me Tender" here is far inferior to the "Love Me

Tender" of January '57.

For his part, Sullivan seems almost pissed to have to

have this juvenile delinquent on his program; he

spends much of the show sulking in a used car lot,

hawking Mercury Lincoln cars ("Dynamite from Detroit,

with a six-way power seat"). (Incidentally, I must say

that the '57 Lincoln, even brand new and gleaming,

looks like a heap of chrome garbage today.)

What occurred to me while watching this was that there

was no Presley-esque component to the British invasion (and

U.S. counter-invasion) of '64/'65. And there were no

Sixties imitators of the concept of a singer backed by

a Jordanaire-like vocal group. (At least not in rock 'n'

roll or in pop-rock of that era.) Moore arguably had more

impact than Presley! What's really amazing is that an

icon that gigantic had so little influence

on subsequent rockers.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Regarding Jon Huntsman's entry into the

presidential race: Too many purple candidates on the GOP

dance floor, which creates an opening for a Tea Partyer

to get the nom. Romney and Huntsman will probably cancel

each other out.



for July 20, 2011

The first time I ever saw Clarence Clemons in person

was on July 29, 1978, on Bruce Springsteen and the

E Street Band's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" tour.

After being bottled up in litigation for years, Bruce

had finally settled and was back on vinyl -- and how! -- and

on stage, popping like a Champagne cork.

This show was a stunner even for fans who had seen the band

many times, according to people who had seen the band

many times! I caught a really good night. (It was at

the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, just

before I moved to New York City.) Bruce electrified

the place, rocking and dancing and cooly strolling

into the audience like Presley in his prime.

And when they came to "Jungleland," I got to hear the highest

note of Clarence Clemons's career: that solo. (Does Clarence

get composition co-credit on "Jungleland"? How about

Reginald Dwight?)

Equally as important as his sax playing was his personality,

the chemistry he had with Bruce and the iconic visual

presence of the two together onstage.

The next time I saw him was ten years later, on the

"Tunnel of Love" tour, at the Nassau Coliseum. By

then, I was earning paychecks writing for newspapers

and magazines -- and my review of the show (in the East

Coast Rocker newspaper) was the very first

to note the diminished role of Clemons in the band.

"The Big Man -- he's lost a little weight!," Springsteen

said from the stage.

And he had, in more ways than one. Not only had he slimmed

down physically, but he had also lost his stature in the

band; his sax playing had been watered down by a new

horn section and he was far less prominently

featured onstage.

Within a year, Bruce would break up the band.

Major mistake.

Springsteen soon discovered he could easily find more imaginative

and virtuosic sax players, but he could never find one with

whom he had better chemistry. No matter how he searched and

auditioned among the studio hacks and pros, every other

sax player was missing what Clarence had: personality.

And so, in the end, the change was made uptown and the Big

Man re-joined the band!

Because he was simply irreplaceable. The death of Clemons

is also the death of a great American sound.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- BTW, if I were a producer at the PBS NewsHour,

I'd air a remembrance at the end of the program

consisting only of footage showing Clemons playing

his famous sax solo in "Jungleland." That would be




for June 17, 2011

Could the Arab Spring Happen Here, Too?

The short answer is, yes. If unemployment were to further

veer out of control, rising to, say, 20%. (Look at the

footage from Athens, Greece. Looks just like the early

days of the Tahrir Square uprising, no?)

If layoffs become even more widespread, all those

waitresses and factory workers who have

busted their asses for decades and played by the rules

would realize, upon being laid off, that they had been

played for fools by the bosses of the so-called

freemarket system. (Rigged system is a better name for it.)

What all this global discontent really amounts

to, at least partly, is this: the world's money must

be split up more equitably. The days when 500 people

in America have half the wealth and the rest of us

get scraps from the table is fading.

We put up with the inequality for now because most of

us get enough money for the basics.

But if that were to change, if the unemployment rate were

to double, you'd get people with nothing to lose -- like

in Tunisia, like in Tahrir Square, like in Athens -- taking

to the streets and demanding that the billions of the

plutocrats be shared with everyone else.

I can hear the William F. Buckleys now. It's my billion

dollars, I can do what I want with it.

To which I say: it's your billion dollars because you

were able to unfairly apply leverage to get that money.

In my life, I've worked harder than most billionaires, worked

smarter than most billionaires, and yet I don't have

billions. (And that's probably because I didn't start

with, say, the half billion dollars that Donald

Trump started with through inheritance.) You amassed

billions because you were able to game the system.

We the people can game the system, too. We the people can

cut deals, too. And our first deal will be, oh, to pass a

law that splits up the assets of billionaires

so that we can have some, too.

There. That's a business deal. Tax 90% of a billionaire's

wealth so that the rest of us don't have to starve.

What right do I have to that money? I ask the same

question: what right do the the billionaires have to

that money? The billionaire retorts: I earned it.

To which I say: most billionaires didn't earn it;

you used unfair influence, you gamed the system.

Which is exactly what the people can do, too; they

can cut a lucrative deal that taxes the income of the

rich at 90% and redistributes the wealth to the rest of


What did I do to earn it? As much as you

did to earn it. After all, I invented...Senate

Bill 1010101: the Redistribution of Wealth Act.

There. That's my innovation. Most billionaires

stole most of their ideas from poorer people with

weaker lawyers; at least my innovation was honestly created.

In terms of job creation: let the talented poor become

rich so they can create jobs! The way it is now, untalented

rich people with inherited wealth steal the ideas of

poorer people to expand their businesses.

So here's my idea: 95% of all income over one billion dollars

earned by a private citizen in the U.S. should be redistributed to

those who earn $50,000 or less a year. That'll provide

a safety net for those who keep sinking to the bottom

of the ocean every time we have a recession (which

is frequently).

Just look at that footage of Athens. That Arab Spring

may not be an Arab Spring at all; it may be

a Global Spring a-comin'.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Everyone's talking about the economy being

in a recession, but when has it NOT been in a

recession for a protracted time? I mean, a few years

after I first hit the job market, I ran into the '82

recession, which dissipated just in time for the

'91 recession, which was followed by the recession

related to the 9/11 attacks and was followed by another

recession five years later, which we're still in. Our

economy is a recession!

* * * *

P.S. -- With regard to my item below about Dan

Rosenheim of KPIX: I'm 100% certain we never spoke

about the story he said we talked about. We

didn't speak about it on the record, off the

record, or in any other way. We didn't

discuss that story on the phone, in person, in an

email, in an IM, in a text message or in any other

way. If Rosenheim is saying that, as he did in

that letter of '00, then Dan Rosenheim is saying

something that is completely untrue. (Challenge

me on that. Definitely do not take the word

of some well-connected broadcast exec (the way you

would have taken the word of Jayson Blair had

Blair risen to the top of the Times).)

Some background here. I'm referring to a highly

detailed piece that I wrote for the San Francisco

Chronicle in 2000 that (much to the chagrin of

internecine rivals at the Chronicle and their pals

outside the company) was 100% factually accurate.

There wasn't a single error in the whole story.

But in Rosenheim's imaginary conversation with me,

made up out of whole cloth, he says I admitted

there were factual errors in the piece! What nerve.

Wanna see independently whether Rosenheim's a liar or

not? I'll post the piece to which I'm referring and

you can fact-check it yourself. And then you'll see

there are no errors at all. Not even one. And then

you can ask Rosenheim why he's imagining malicious lies about


[updated on June 19, 2011]



for June 15, 2011

The item (below) in which I praise a

reporter for the CBS affiliate in San Francisco

should not be read as an endorsement of that

news organization over others in the area.

In fact, I much prefer the journalists at

the ABC affiliate KGO, particularly Carolyn Johnson

(who I've written about in this space before and

who is probably the smartest broadcast news person

in the Bay Area), Dan Ashley, Amy Hollyfield,

David Louie, Michael Finney, etc.

I'd have more respect for the CBS affiliate's

news organization if the guy who runs it, Dan

Rosenheim, hadn't lied to my editor at the San

Francisco Chronicle in 2000. Rosenheim wrote a

letter to my then-editor, Matt Wilson, saying he

had talked to me in depth about a news story I'd

written; at the time that Rosenheim wrote that letter, I

had never spoken to him or otherwise communicated

with him in my life. And we never ever spoke about

the story in question. (Then he calls me three days

AFTER he wrote and sent that letter, probably so

he could credibly claim, "Yeah, sure I talked with the

guy....") Unless he's got a good excuse for

what he did back in 2000, Rosenheim, in my

estimation, is almost Jayson Blair-esque.

* * * *

OK, here're my short takes on the Republican

presidential candidates:

Mitt Romney: Those who really know politics
deeply know that Mitt's millionaire dad is known
for just one thing in politics: his infamous
pronouncment that he had been "brainwashed" about
Vietnam. And now Romney Jr., with a manner sort of
like Haven Hamilton's diffident son in "Nashville,"
says he, too, has been brainwashed -- about
health care reform. Still, try as he might to claim
to be born-again on that issue, he's too purple
for Tea Partyers. Though he may win
the nomination by default in a field of midgets.

Tim Pawlenty: Can you feel the Pawlenty-mania
sweeping the nation?

Newt Gingrich: This isn't '94, Newt. Where's the
grassroots support for this retiree? He's already
done his presidency in fast mo, having completed his
Saturday Night Massacre and impeachment before
the start of primary season.

Michele Bachmann: The Dan Quayle of '12. She'll
soon be lecturing us about how George Washington
led "all 50 colonies to victory against the British."

Herman Cain: It takes more than dough, Herman.

Rick Santorum: Can you feel the Santorum-mania
sweeping the nation?

Ron Paul: Comic relief.

Rick Perry: He could conceivably win -- in a
landslide -- the presidency of the greater
Dallas/Ft. Worth Rotary Club.

John Huntsman: I think he wants to be appointed president.

Sarah Palin: Her new incarnation as Biker Chick ain't
gonna fly. (The future is mass transit, anyway.) Her
stock is wayyy down.

On the Democratic side, those who say Barack Obama

will win in 2012 are (in essence) actually saying Barack

Obama will win Ohio and Florida in 2012. Do you

think he can?

* * * *

"Picasso cheated; he's more talented at painting than I am!"

But I digress. Paul



for June 14, 2010

Michelle Obama Came to My Neighborhood This Morning,

so I grabbed my camera and recorder and tried to

cover it.

Fat chance!

Didn't catch a glimpse. Though I did catch a glimpse of

the incredibly gorgeous (and brainy) TV journalist

Elizabeth Wenger, covering the event for the CBS affiliate

in San Francisco.

Anyway, here're some photos of people waiting outside

the Claremont Hotel and Spa in Berkeley (Calif.) for

the Obama event:

[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Security said I couldn't film inside the
Claremont, so (naturally) I did. Here's
the crowd inside.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * * *

* * * * *

Also in Berkeley, but not part of the Michelle
Obama event, was this vintage 1950 jalopy, parked
on College Ave.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Somebody alerted me to this story. A malpracticing

doctor was friends with the local sheriff and had the

sheriff retaliate against people who complained about him.

How low can you go?



for June 13, 2011

live review

Florence + the Machine Kicks Off U.S. Tour in Berkeley, Cal.

Florence Welch, redefining singing, seducing America.
[photo credit: The Daily Mail]

Fresh off an appearance at Bonnaroo, Florence + the Machine

started its new American tour with a gig in Berkeley, Calif., at

the Greek Theater last night.

The Greek is an open-air venue, so the band wasn't able to

blow the roof off the place.

Instead, it just about blew the sky off the place. Or so it


Vocalist Florence Welch took less than five minutes to prove

she's one of the most powerful vocalists of her generation.

Her singing on "Drumming Song" was nothing short of startling;

Welch gradually escalated from wailing to howling to an

audacious shriek -- as brilliant a vocal as

I've heard in a long time.

And then came "Heavy in Your Arms," in which she sounded raw,

livid, inconsolable, unstoppable.

At times, it felt as if she were re-inventing the art of

singing itself. Welch is sort of like Christina Aguilera

with a higher IQ, an Alanis in more pain, a feminized


At mid-set, she talked to her fans, who were screaming and

otherwise showing wild enthusiasm for her (even in the hills

above the theater, where I heard the sold-out gig).

"This is the biggest crowd we've ever played to," she said.

Though, clearly, she's well on her way to much bigger

(if not necessarily better) venues in future years.

But I digress. Paul



for June 11, 2011

live review

The U.S. Premiere of Peter Gabriel's Orchestral Mini-Tour

This works a lot better than you might think from the


The description is this: Peter Gabriel performs rearranged

versions of his songs and covers without a rock band and

with only symphony orchestra backing.

To my surprise, at his first show of the mini-tour, in Berkeley

(Calif.) last night, Gabriel actually made the orchestra

swing at times, though most of the three-hour concert

fell in a range between the very beautiful and the somewhat boring.

The show was structured this way: Gabriel came onstage promptly

at 8 p.m., talked a bit and then intro-ed his opening

act, a Norwegian folk singer named Ane Brun, who sounded

a bit like a Scandinavian Jesca Hoop and played only a

couple songs.

Then Gabriel and the New Blood Orchestra (and Brun) did around an

hour's worth of mostly covers, the highlight of the first half being

a stirring "Biko." (Most of the covers were included on

last year's "Scratch My Back" album.)

After an intermission, Gabriel & Co. returned with symphonic

versions of many of his own classics, starting with

"Digging in the Dirt" and climaxing with a marvelous triple

blast: "Red Rain"; an extraordinary "Solsbury Hill" (which

became a group clap-along before the New Blood morphed it

awkwardly into Beethoven's 9th symphony); and encore

"In Your Eyes," which had enormous dramatic austerity

(even in the hills above the theater, where I heard

the gig). Missing was "Games Without Frontiers," which

would have worked well in this context.

The tour continues this month to ten more cities and is

worth catching if you're already a Gabriel fan.

But I digress. Paul



for June 9, 2011

Will the Thai Government Come Down on The Hangover 2?

Anyone who has seen Todd Phillips's "The Hangover, Part 2"

knows that it's mercilessly irreverent about a culture

that isn't usually lampooned on the big screen: Buddhist

monks, specifically Thai Buddhists.

And all I could think while watching certain scenes was, I wonder

whether the Thai government is going to denounce, ban or censor

the flick.

Well, to his credit, the good king of Thailand allowed

the movie to open on May 26, though the Minister of

Culture did propose a ban on foreigners getting religious

tattoos in Thailand.

That may or may not have something to do with "The Hangover,"

which makes prominent use of tattoos throughout the picture.

Still, no talk of banning the film. Though maybe the

king and his Culture Minister haven't seen it yet.

If not, viddy well, all ye in the Thai government and

religious establishment! I'll describe a scene that

may be particularly offensive to Thai Buddhists:

The sequence begins around 45 minutes into

the picture, when the main characters, all

Americans, return an elderly Buddhist monk to a

monastery near Bangkok.

Inside the monastery, another monk, without warning,

starts to beat them with a stick just for talking.

"So much for holy people, a bunch of bald assholes," says

Bradley Cooper's character a few minutes later.

"And you know what?," he says to a monk. "FYI. You may

want to put some signs up that say 'No Talking' before

you unleash your dragon."

The monk remains calm and says cryptically:

"Every memory lives somewhere deep within. Perhaps you

should [present] your question to the Garden of Meditation."

"Did you understand a word he just said?," Cooper's character

asks his friends.

"Yeah, I got about two-thirds," says Ed Helms's character.

"He said something about the Garden of Meditation."

"No," says Galifianakis's character. "He's farting because

of his medication."

There are other moments in the film that also poke fun at Thai

culture, but that's the most notable.

I emailed the King and his Culture Minister about

the flick but haven't heard back from 'em. I'll

post their response here if they have one.

But I digress. Paul



for June 6, 2011

I just saw a couple new flicks and here're my reviews:

Todd Phillips's "The Hangover, Part 2."

This is more like a re-make than a sequel, following

the contours and plot twists of the first film to

an astonishing degree, though using different

details. You can almost sense the caution of the scriptwriters,

who seemed to be thinking, Let's just make the first one

again but with new particulars.

And it worked -- at least at the box office, where it can

now claim the biggest opening weekend ever for a comedy, grossing

around 200 mil to date. And negative-word-of-mouth has not

caused a precipitous drop among moviegoers.

And, frankly, few will feel gypped coming out of the

theater, though almost nobody will think this is as good as

the original.

The appeal remains the thrilling unpredictability of the

plot (less unpredictable this time around) and the vivid

characters. And the acting does not disappoint, even

as the script does: Zach Galifianakis is likably

charismatic, like a blend of Seth Rogen and Richard

Dreyfuss; and Bradley Cooper is turning into a major star.

On a sidenote: At first I thought it was odd that

Mike Tyson's tattoo artist was suing the film makers

(for using his copyrighted tattoo design). After all,

Tyson does appear in the new film and even spars with

the guy with the copycat face tattoo (Ed Helms).

In fact, Tyson says to the guy, "By the way, you really

need to remove that fucking tattoo from your face."

And Helms' character responds: "Yeah, on it."

But now I see what the probable hidden reason for the

lawsuit is: when Helms wakes up with a Tyson-like

facial tattoo, he reacts as if it were a disfigurement,

which of course might well be considered insulting by Tyson

and his designer.

* * * *

Elvis: The Ed Sullivan Show (Disc 3)

Elvis Presley's three performances on "The Ed Sullivan Show"

happened in the deep middle of the Eisenhower era. His

first two gigs were just before the '56 election, and

his third and final appearance was just after Ike's victory -- and

following the Soviet invasion of Hungary. (Ed even makes a

pitch for Hungarian relief at the end of the program.)

So what we see on this DVD is a very puritanical and repressive

period of American history colliding with the babyboomer

revolution. Yes, the G.I.s came home in '45, knocked up

their wives and girlfriends and gave birth to a generation

of kids who -- by the time of this show, in January '57 -- were

old enough to scream their heads off at Presley and

the Beatles (while reinventing the world).

And the contrast between Sullivan, with his

almost pre-WW2 vaudeville style, and Presley,

the future of rock 'n' roll, was as stark as

the contrast between Kennedy and Nixon in

televised debates four years later.

Presley's performances are seductive, groundbreaking -- all

the praise you've heard is true. But doing his songs

in a medley stops the musical momentum, even if he

and his magnificent Jordanaires were in fine voice.

"Love Me Tender" simply floats in from the ether.

But somebody messed with the mix on "When My Blue

Moon Turns To Gold Again" (did Sullivan's people

turn down Presley's mike to retaliate for his


This is the episode in which Prelsey is shown in a

tight shot throughout the show, which inadvertently

gives the viewer the uncomfortable feeling of being

too close to the screen in a movie theater. It's no

secret Ed didn't want Elvis to corrupt the youth of

America with unauthorized leg and hip movements!

(Amazing that only nine years separated the performances

of Presley and Jim Morrison, who would eventually

make Presley seem downright quaint and old-fashioned

to people of my age group, who were not born when

Presley did Sullivan.)

One of the great things about these DVDs is

they feature the entire show, including

commercials (just like the Beatles on

Sullivan discs). So we see Presley (in his

puffy shirt) followed by a forever-unfamous

ventriloquist and a very early performance by

an unrecognizable Carol Burnett, not as funny as

she usually is and earning only polite applause.

And Ed also brings a charismatic Sugar Ray Robinson

onstage but has the nerve to call the world class

athlete "my boy" (after using physical moves to

demonstrate to white America that Mr. Ed does

indeed have the black man under control!). At moments

like that, there's little wonder why the world of people

like Sullivan and Nixon was replaced by the revolution of Elvis

and the Beatles.

Watching this DVD, I really realized (anew) that those who

would later describe the Beatles as "four Presleys"

were so off the mark. In fact, Elvis doesn't seem

to have been much of an influence on the band at all.

The four were much more influenced by Chuck Berry,

Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins.

* * * * *

He's making a comeback!

I saw this (suitably worn) bumper sticker this morning
in Berkeley, Calif. (Hey, I wanted Johnson!) [photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * &

Early sessions for my album "Republican Women,"
April 2011. [photo by Paul Iorio]

* * *

Admittedly, not a good photo, but here're goats grazing in
the Berkeley hills.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Did you see the stunning backdrop of

Miguel Almaguer's stand-up report on the Mississippi

River flooding tonight on the NBC Nightly News?

Amazing! He did his report against a vast

rainbow as two sets of river waves coursed in

opposite directions. Great visual.



for June 4, 2011

"Listen my children and you shall hear/
Of the great anti-Communist Paul Revere..."

* * * * *

La La is Dead. Very Good Riddance.

And so comes welcome word that bin Laden associate Ilyas Kashmiri,

aka La La, has been killed by an American drone strike.

All I can say is bravo.

You remember La La. He was the guy behind Chicago cabbie

Raja Khan's plot to bomb a packed American stadium last summer.

Lala has quite a bloody resume. Tried to kill Musharraf in '03.

Recently plotted to attack the offices of the Jyllands-Posten

newspaper. Led a group of Sunni militants that is always

threatening to commit mass homicide.

The world now has one less malignant tumor to deal with.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Who should the Nobel Peace Prize be awarded

to this year? That's easy. President Obama (perhaps

with Leon Panetta). By eliminating bin Laden and

al Qaeda operatives like Kashmiri, Obama has done more

than anyone else to bring about peace on planet Earth.

He has finally and fully earned the prize given

to him prematurely in '09.



for June 3, 2011

With the first half of 2011 ending in a matter of weeks,

we now know the most popular movie of 2011 so far

is..."Fast Five," though by the end of the month

it might well be "Pirates of the Caribbean," which

has just passed "Thor" (not a bad comic book action

film, by the way -- and Natalie Portman nicely

feminizes the genre).

Of course, all those flicks will surely be eclipsed by what

follows in the second half: "Cars 2," which has lots of

buzz around it; the first "Harry Potter" film in 3-D;

the new "Transformers" film; "The Green Lantern"; and

"Captain America," which began its advertising campaign

during the Super Bowl.

But the most encouraging sign in the charts is that

Woody Allen's new picture "Midnight In Paris" currently

has the highest per-screen average in the top

ten (it's at #7 right now). Can't wait to see

that one.

* * * *

My new song "Republican Women" still remains in the top ten

on Soundclick's alternative chart (it was number one just days ago).

I'm glad people are enjoying this one.

Someone was wondering who my lead guitarist is on that song and

whether I could provide a complete list of those involved with

the track.

Well, the lead guitarist is me. And I also did everything else.

Here's a complete account of the credits for "Republican Women":

Vocals: Paul Iorio
Background vocals: Paul Iorio
Lead Guitar: Paul Iorio
Rhythm Guitar: Paul Iorio
Bass: Paul Iorio
Percussion: Paul Iorio
Handclaps, finger snaps, etc.: Paul Iorio

Composed by: Paul Iorio
Lyrics by: Paul Iorio
Music by: Paul Iorio
Song idea and concept by: Paul Iorio
Produced by: Paul Iorio
Arranged by: Paul Iorio
Mastered by: Paul Iorio
Mixed by: Paul Iorio
Cover graphics: Paul Iorio
The guy who hits the start button on the tape recorder: Paul Iorio
Copyright: Paul Iorio, 2011, all rights reserved.

But I digress. Paul



for June 1, 2011

More and more I'm hearing the cliche that those who suffer

great tragedy in their lives become suddenly able to create

great art. What bull. If that were true, every wounded

combat vet or patient in an ICU would be a McCartney or

a Picasso or a Dostoyevsky. Which ain't the case. I have a

friend in Californioa who lost a loved one some years ago

in tragic circumstances, and my heart truly goes out to him, but

(truth be told) his songs, never very good to begin

with, got only sillier and more boring. (And he also

became dishonest, a bit of a crook, which he'd never

been before.) And almost no combat vet has ever written

a war novel as great as "The Red Badge of Courage," which

was written by a guy who never fought in a war, Stephen Crane.

Trauma scars and creates disfunction.

But I digress. Paul



for May 28, 2011

"I was born this way -- but not with that damn choke chain!"

But I digress. Paul



for May 26, 2011

My new song "Republican Women" has just hit the

#1 spot on Soundclick's (other) Alternative

chart, #12 on the main Alternative chart. (I guess

I'm no good at this music thing!)

But I digress. Paul



for May 26, 2011

I'm sorry, I don't get Oprah at all and am glad her

show is gone. To me, she seemed merely bossy and

calculating and not particularly scrupulous about the


And she was always telling lots of seemingly apocryphal

stories along the lines of: "And every day for twenty

years, without exception, I passed that church and

threw a coin in the fountain" -- stuff that couldn't

possibly be true if you put it under real scrutiny.

Much like the tall-tales of fraudulent authors like

James Frey and Herman Rosenblat, who she featured

on her program.

And all the intellectuals and academics and authors who

have praised her endlessly and teach courses on "The Semiotics

of Oprah" really don't believe their own bullshit. What

they're actually saying is: "If I kiss Oprah's ass,

she might feature my book on the air, thereby turning

a marginal seller into a best seller and allowing

me to quit this teaching job to write full-time."

That is the true sum total of all the praise about

her from the intelligentsia. Jonathan Franzen spoke the

truth about her until he realized it wasn't in his

financial interest to do so.

In the end, Oprah stands as a fitting symbol of an

era in which too many have almost no respect for

the factual record and in which mythology has

overtaken the truth.

But I digress. Paul



for May 26, 2011

My new song "Republican Women" has just gone to #8 on

Soundclick's (other) Alternative chart and is #19 on

Soundclick's main Alternative chart (ahead of 170,000+

other tracks). Pretty good considering I wrote it in

my bedroom and recorded it in my hallway on no budget!

But I digress. Paul



for May 25, 2011

Must admit I have never seen one of my songs get the

sort of reaction that my brand new track "REPUBLICAN WOMEN"

has gotten. Last night the tune jumped from #343 to #38 on

the main Soundclick Alternative Chart (and it's #8 on the

"Other Alternative" chart). And it was aired on Monday night

on Marshall Stax's Next Big Thing on KALX! I must say

people really seem to like this one. I'm grateful to

those who are connecting with it! Hear it for

yourself here:

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- A recent visit to a dentist points up the need for

greater regulation of medical malpractioners. I mean,

I have never had a problem with a dentist before (except

for one financial bad actor in 2000) but this new guy couldn't

even manage to fill a simple filling without screwing up.

I mean -- get this -- the sink actually clogged during

his drilling and he had to get plumbing tools to fix it

while I was drowning in gunk! Unbelievable. Plus, he

injects me with some sort of anesthetic without telling me

he's going to do so and without telling me what it is (and

I had a bad reaction to whatever it was, consistent with

the symptoms of someone who had lidocaine injected in

a vein instead of in a nerve -- very dangerous to do that).

And I could go on. (Maybe I'll post an MP3 of the

whole malpractice session!) There really has to

be less leeway for medical professionals to make

avoidable mistakes.



for May 23, 2011

I posted my new song "REPUBLICAN WOMEN" on Soundclick

an hour ago. It's already #65 on the alternative

chart there. Wow! Check it out at the link below!

* * *

Many thanks to Marshall Stax and KALX Radio for

playing my brand new songs "REPUBLICAN WOMEN" and


several minutes ago!

So now's the time for me to premiere the online edition

of those songs and the rest of my brand new

album "REPUBLICAN WOMEN (& 4 others)."

Presenting Paul Iorio's brand new album...

Just click here to hear the title track:


And check out the MP3 edition of "I AM THE SHARK THAT ATE BIN LADEN":

And here's "GONE TOO LONG":

More MP3s to come!

* * * * *


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

Republican women
She's got all her shots
Republican women
Give this Democratic boy a sh-sh-shot

Republican women
So well groomed
Republican women
Let's get a room

Republican women
Let's play supply and demand
Republican women
Tonight I'll be your trickle-down man

Republican women
So suburban
Republican women
Let's drink some Bourbon

Republican women
Go ahead and ask her
Republican women
She's on the iPhone with her pastor

Republican women
Stiletto pumps
Republican women
I've got a non-cancerous lump

You know, she was sent by either heaven or the vice squad, I bet
I disagree with every word and everything she says
But for one night, I'll agree if I can just, if I can just, if I can just...
Maybe a threesome with Erin Burnett and that editor at
the Weekly Standard

Republican women
I went back to her hall
Republican women
She started smelling like Lysol

Republican women
I cut myself on her Escalade
Republican women
She charged me for a Band-Aid

Republican women
Started getting really cold
Republican women
I'm goin' back to the Democratic fold

the fact that some liberal guys are starting to admit that
GOP women like Nikki Haley are physically attractive even
when spouting utter political nonsense! Influences here:
"Pictures of Lily," "Wild Thing."

* * * * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

In my youth I spent my time
At the Gaslight drinking wine
Late at night, at the old cafe
We'd talk revolution till the break of day

I'm an unabashed communist
I'm a godless socialist
I don't care if you put me on your blacklist
Go ahead put me on your blacklist
'Cause I'm an
Unabashed communist
I'm a godless socialist
I don't care if you put me on your blacklist
Go ahead put me on your blacklist
Cause I'm in an unabashed communist
Unabashed communist

Grandpa fought for the Russian side
In Nineteen Hundred and Forty-five
Moscow spilled lots of Soviet blood
Trying to stop the Nazi flood

Six years on, McCarthy called him in
He asked, "Why you siding with the Russians again?"
Gramps said, "Russian friends, they saved my hide/
Back in Nineteen Hundred and Forty-five"

I'm an unabashed communist
I'm a godless socialist
I don't care if you put me on your blacklist
Go ahead put me on your blacklist
'Cause I'm an
Unabashed communist
Unabashed communist

Well, laissez-faire collapsed in '29
Fell again last year for the umpteenth time
How much more proof do you need
To understand the evil of corporate greed?

Hey, I'm no friend of dictatorship
But economic justice shouldn't include it
It doesn't take any Sherlock Holmes
To see it almost worked back in ol' Stockholm

I'm an unabashed communist
I'm a godless socialist
I don't care if you put me on your blacklist
Go ahead put me on your blacklist
'Cause I'm an
Unabashed communist
I'm a godless socialist
I don't care if you put me on your black list
Go ahead put me on your blacklist
Cause I'm in an unabashed communist
Unabashed communist
Unabashed communist

to me last month (April 2011) while I was watching a PBS special on
The Weavers and suddenly started singing "I'm an unabashed
Communist" in the manner of Pete Seeger (but in the vocal
style of David Byrne!). (I confess I don't wholly agree with
the 1st-person voice here!)

* * * * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

dee dah dee
In this canyon of stars
One day the authorities took you away, girl

dee dah dee
But you can't drown a fish in the water
I know you gave up your freedom for freedom
But when you came back, girl

Oooh, how you thought you would fit in
ohhh, but you were gone too long
oooh, how you thought you would fit in
ohhh, but you were gone too long, girl
ohhh, but you were gone too long

dee dah dee
It was falsely alarming,
Like the shadow of steam on the drywall

dee dah dee
Girl, I remember you well
Before you turned into somebody brand new
But I remember you well, girl

Oooh, how you thought you would fit in
ohhh, but you were gone too long
oooh, how you thought you would fit in
ohhh, but you were gone too long, girl
ohhh, but you were gone too long

NOTES ON "GONE TOO LONG": Melancholy folk-pop that
I wrote after becoming convinced that an adorable cat
that lives next door had died. A few weeks later, I
came up with the verse melody. (The cat, it turns out,
was alive and well! I'd been sad for no reason.)

* * * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

App for my love
Download my heart
App for my love
Double-click here

App for my love
Ain't got no virus
App for my love
Look into my iris

App for my love
App for my love

App for my love
Let's do it by remote
App for my love
No need to emote

App for my love
You can shake my hand
App for my love
'Cept that's not my hand

App for my love
App for my love

App for my love
Come to my touch pad
App for my love
My dumb phone's too trad

Don't need to show my love no more
My love's in an app that I bought at the store

App for my love
App for my love

I've got an app for that
I've got an app for that
Extravagant love!

I've got an app for that
Beautiful sorrow!
I've got an app for that
Plain indignation!

I've got an app for that
I've got an app for that

I've got an app for that
Nostalgia, joy and loathing!
I've got an app for that
Tenderness and grieving

I've got an app for that
Ecstatic approbation
I've got an app for that
Extravagant love

I've got an app for that
I've got an app for that

NOTES ON "APP FOR MY LOVE": The phrase "app
for my love" came to me and I built a song around it. Days
later, I came up with a ska-ish thing I used for the ending.

* * * * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

They killed bin Laden today
They finally blew him away
They killed bin Laden
They finally got him
They killed bin Laden today

I am the shark that ate bin Laden
In the Arabian Sea
But I eat chairs and license plate bumpers
I'm not particularly
Refined about my taste in deep seafood
He tasted like chicken to me
I am the shark that ate bin Laden
In the Arabian Sea

I am the shark that ate bin Laden
I'm the shark that ate bin Laden

A-cappella track recorded on five tracks. It erupted
spontaneously the day bin Laden died.

But I digress. Paul



for May 20, 2011

I just saw a few new movies and here're my capsule reviews:

Justin Lin's "FAST FIVE":

This is Tarantino without the irony. What QT uses as

kitschy pop reference, Lin uses as straight style -- with

Vin Diesel as a sub for Bruce Willis.

But you can see why this is the top-grossing movie of the

first half of 2011. For starters, the rooftops of Rio de Janeiro

come alive and crackle with danger and electricity here, as

characters are chased and dive into brilliant slumscapes.

The best character is arguably...Rio itself.

And anyone who loves well-crafted actioners will get their money's

worth. From the moment two guys jettison from a car in tandem as

they drive off a cliff into a river, this thing is a testosterone

highball, jam-packed with explosions, drag racing and other

macho doings.

But not to my taste.

Could have been better if Danica Patrick had been cast as

the female lead. (Now that's an idea waiting to happen

in a Tarantino film!)

* * * *

Alejandro González Iñárritu's "BIUTIFUL":

More like "Pitiful."

Not just overrated. Dreadful.

This is two-and-a-half hours of successive waves of

shrill overemotionalism involving either extreme

crying or yelling. And it's something far less than

a tour de force for the usually amazing Javier Bardem,

who doesn't even closely resemble someone dying of

cancer and undergoing chemo.

Bloated, repetitive, unconvincing and in urgent need of

an editor. (I'm surprised I haven't seen t-shirts with

"I Survived 'Biutiful.'")

By the end, I felt like Elaine Benes watching "The English

Patient," shouting "just die already!" at the screen.

A lousy well-made film.

* * * *


An attempted "Rashomon," sort of. With Matthew McConaughey

acting a bit like a sunbelt Gavin Newsom, playing an

attorney defending a client who is setting up another client.

Byzantine, yes -- but not dull.

The title, however, is terrible, making it sound like it's an

historical dramatization of Honest Abe's career as an attorney.

A far better title would have been "Privilege."

* * * *

The Farrelly Brothers's "HALL PASS."

Time was, everybody in Hollywood seemed to be imitating

the Farrellys. But then came..."The Hangover." Today,

directors making funny features -- including the Farrellys,

evidently -- are getting very "Hangover"-esque.

Exhibit A: "Hall Pass." Starts out very Farrelly but then

becomes disorganized -- using lots of title cards -- before

looking, well, "Hangover"-y.

Still, not a bad film, not a bad premise -- and a bit of a

departure for Owen Wilson, playing a less slacker-y sort of

character this time. (And nice use of "Monkberry Moon


Ultimately, there're laughs enuff to justify renting it

on DVD.

But I digress. Paul



for May 19, 2011

Before you prepare the noose for Dominique Strauss-Kahn -- and

if he's guilty, hang 'im -- I have three words for you:

Crystal Gale Mangum. And here're two more: Tawana Brawley.

So let's figure the way these things work: if you

already like the accused, then he deserves his day

in court and is almost certainly innocent. If you don't

like the accused, he's guilty on the face of it and

deserves the maximum.

Let's let the evidence emerge. Let's look at what

the electronic hotel key card tells us (as Jim Dwyer

in the New York Times noted). And let's look at

some circumstantial facts, too. (I mean, the maid

walks in right during the five-minute part of the

24-hour day when Dominque is naked in the shower. I'm

sure that's just a coincidence. Unless the card key

says she shut the door. In which case, maybe she

wanted to liven up her very boring job with a peep

show. Remember, she didn't walk in on him when he

was doing what he does most of the day -- say, composing

a speech for the IMF at a table or speaking on the phone

with a world leader. She waited till the pipes started

makin' noise.)

Let's face it: some women do make up false

accusations -- that's a stone cold fact. Happens

all the time. I could name names.

But I digress. Paul



for May 16 - 18, 2011

Sign of the Coming Times

Today I saw the first campaign sign of the 2012 presidential
campaign (above). More to follow, I'm sure. This one was
in the window of a suburban house in Berkeley, Calif.

Incredibly, Obama has already scared off half the GOP contendas.
Huckabee and Trump, now completely unable to play the
soft-on-jihad card against Obama, are out. (By the way,
regarding the miracle in Abbottabad, everybody brings up the fact
that Obama was able to do what several U.S. presidents
could not. But what gets missed is that Obama was also
able to do what several Russian and Soviet presidents
couldn't do, even in open warfare.)

* * * *

Signs of the Times (Part 2)

And here's what the spring of 2011 looks like in
terms of billboards. I'm looking forward to seeing
"Bridesmaids." These days, I'll watch anytning
Kirsten Wiig does. Everybody talks about her in
terms of "MacGruber" and "Knocked Up" (and, now,
"Bridesmaids") but her best non-SNL work prior to 2011
was in an '09 episode of "Flight of the Conchords."
Check it out. And "Paul" is underrated. [photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Sign of the (Recessionary) Times, Pt. 3
A phone booth in Berkeley, dressed for the recession.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

The adult guy at far right should've been the one wearing diapers.
At far right is leaker-for-profit Rajat Gupta, a former
McKinsey honcho, posing here with other members of
Procter & Gamble's board of directors last February.
Gupta has since been charged by the SEC with leaking
insider info about his company to Raj Rajaratnam,
convicted of insider trading this week.

What a wholesome bunch! If we pose with kids, they
must have thought, nobody will notice the stench of
corruption and unfair enrichment!

Read more about this at
[photo from P&G via]

* * * *

Mark Twain and Me
Yep, that's me with with a statue of Mark Twain, yesterday
at the University of California, Berkeley.

But I digress. Paul



for May 13, 2011

"I never knew Osama -- I swear! I only knew his son
Chaz bin Laden, but he was too kinky for me!"

But I digress. Paul



for May 10, 2011

I just love the fact that rapper Common is going to

appear at the White House -- and that the Fox News

crowd is spittin' out their tea in disgust. Conservatives

condemn lyrics Common wrote about burning W. at the stake,

or something. Evidently, Palin & Co. are unfamiliar

with first-person narrative in poetry, lyrics and

other lit. If this were the 19th century, they'd probably

object to Obama inviting Dostoyevsky to the

White House because Fyodor, a gangsta novelist in

his day, wrote vividly about murderin' a lady with an ax.

Bringing Common to the WH is sorta like the New Yorker

magazine publishing Bob Dylan's lyrics as poetry in

'65. Oh, the magazine publishes Dylan now -- no risk

there. But imagine if TNY had published "It's

Alright, Ma" or "Gates of Eden" in its poetry section

in '65. That would have been prescient, progressive.

(But the mag didn't even publish "The Catcher in the Rye"

when it was offered to them.)

To be sure, Common is not Dylan, but Obama is truly

on the right track in elevating artists at the edge of


* * * *

I've had my differences with Maureen Dowd in the past,

but her last two columns have been pure gold. Lately,

she's been speaking real sense and wisdom about the

Abbottabad raid. And from tomorrow's column:

"I don’t think we need to worry about inflaming Al Qaeda.
They come pre-inflamed."

She hasn't been this good in a while.

* * * *

Funniest joke I've heard this week comes from

Albert Brooks on Letterman last night.

Q: "What words don't you want to hear after
having given head to Willie Nelson?

A: "'I'm not Willie Nelson.'"

But I digress. Paul



for May 9, 2011

I just saw a couple new movies, and here're

my reviews (more to come later):

Francis Lawrence's "Water for Elephants"

Animal circuses have always been low gamy places, on screen

and off, but not in "Water for Elephants."

The circus here is run by a blue blood (Christoph Waltz),

who would seem more at home running a European art

gallery or a high-brow British theater company. And

he gets resumes from (among others) a former student

of a lower Ivy university.

Plus, there's the star human attraction, an elephant

rider who is refined, poised, smart and gorgeous (Reese

Witherspoon), working in a milieu where most real-life

female performers resemble tomboyish variants of Melissa Leo.

I must admit I've never heard of an animal circus

this elite! When Waltz, Witherspoon and

Robert Pattinson are all onscreen, you'd think this was a picture

about members of the Algonquin roundtable.

But, alas, this is cheap circus turf, circa

the Great Depression, though that's not always

evident on screen.

Mind you, there's nothing wrong with the acting,

superb throughout; it's just that the characters

are badly conceived and the main actors miscast.

That said, it's very well-crafted, with scenes

flying by like fleeting memories or dreams.

Witherspoon, sometimes vaguely recalling Marilyn in

"The Misfits," has the presence of a vintage Hollywood

star. And Waltz furthers his reputation

as the go-to actor for cruel aristocratic roles (his

main competition these days is Guy Pearce).

Worth a look when it comes out on video.

But I digress. Paul



for May 8, 2011

I've been seeing a lot of good movies lately -- "Source Code,"

"Limitless," "Battle: Los Angeles." So I found myself in

the mood for a really lousy one, a picture everyone

agrees is a misfire and failure.

Naturally, I rented James L. Brooks' latest,

"How Do You Know," which nobody seems to likes.

And sure enough, it fully lived up to its reputation.

It's so terrible it's somewhat pleasurable in a

schadenfreude sort of way, as it allows you

to witness colossal misjudgments by several

cinematic geniuses.

Problem with the film is obvious. It feels like someone

filmed a rough draft of a script that should have gone

through around seven major revisions. And this

draft was gussied up to the hilt by everyone involved.

It's not under-rehearsed, or under-directed. More like

putting a clean tuxedo on a guy who hasn't showered for a week.

And it looks like Brooks began this as a story about an

athlete -- the deleted scenes are better than anything in

the picture -- but tacked on an insider-tradingish subplot

when the real life economy collapsed in the middle of making

the flick.

In any event, after the first five minutes of the

film, there's almost no clue that Reese Witherspoon's

character is an athlete (and around 90-minutes in,

she seems to be doing an imitation of Kristen Wiig; she's

infinitely better in the new "Water for Elephants" -- more

on that later). Brooks reportedly spent around a year

researching the world of female athletes, interviewing

lots of 'em (tough work!), but none of that is evident

onscreen. (And, frankly, it now seems like it was the

70-year old director's sly way of meeting some buff chicks!)

"How Do You Know" starts a bit like the far superior

"Broadcast News," showing obvious scenes from the

childhood of adult characters, from which we're

supposed to extrapolate why they turned out as they did.

And we see all the other hallmarks of Brooks films:

adult female characters crying alone for

no reason, extravagant walk-in closets, etc.

And then there are the warm fuzzy Brooksisms that have

peppered his previous, better films, the sorts of

vacuous aphorisms that seem to have been scripted for

Katie Couric's refrigerator magnets (e.g., "I"ve lost my

ability to smile at bastards"; "Figure out what you want

and learn how to ask for it"; "You fight low self esteem,

you don't give it the wheel").

Even the very worst "Seinfeld" episode is funnier than every

bit of this. The only thing intriguing about it is that

numerous movie moguls and A-list actors didn't tell Brooks

that his script was not funny.

It probably should have been called "How Could You Have?,"

as in: "James Brooks, how could you have made a movie this


A massive career-ending misfire by one of the great

directors of American romantic comedies.

But I digress. Paul



for May 5, 2011

Osama's million-dollar mansion in Abbottabad was,

effectively, his military pension. Or so it seems.

His buds in the Pakistani military, some of whom probably

served with Osama in the 1980s to defeat the Soviets

in Afghanistan, surely assured him and his handlers

that he would be completely safe in Abbottabad.

The way Osama's backers probably had it figured, the Americans

would never dare attack Abbottabad, a military town deep inside

the nation, home to their West Point -- even if they knew Osama

was hiding there.

And in the unlikely event that Americans did decide to attack

unilaterally, the Pakistani army would be right there to

shoot down any U.S. invaders, giving Osama enough time to

escape. And if Obama decided to attack after first alerting

Zardari, the local brass in Abbottabad would have to be told,

too, and they would certainly tip off Osama's allies and Osama himself.

So Abbottabad was his safehouse. He was effectively

under the protection of the Pakistani military, or a

faction of it, a mere half mile up the road. So it

was sorta like house arrest, sort of like being

protected against his many enemies.

At the very least, it's safe to say Osama had no fear

of the Pakistani military and was not warned to get as

far away from Zardari's soldiers as possible.

All this means there are likely some exquisitely pissed-off

people in the Pakistani army right about now. Private

conversations amongst bin Laden's supporters probably

sound like this: "I thought you said Sheikh Osama was 100%

safe in Abbottabad! I thought you said the Americans would

never dare to venture into our lion's den! I thought you

said our soldiers would instantly shoot down anyone attacking

Osama's mansion!"

Anyway, this was arguably the highest rolling, successful American

military gamble since the Cuban missile crisis.

Obama bet on the incompetence of his enemy, on the

fact that that even one's adversaries are often inattentive

and snoozing on the job. And he sized up Zardari's

army as a sleeping paper tiger (to mix a metaphor). And

he was as right as a modern U.S. president has ever been

about a military decision.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Depsite the capture of bin Laden, and Donald

Trump's recent praise of Obama, Trump still plans

to run for president. The tell-tale clue? This

news item, just posted at, reporting

that Trump has bowed out of a NASCAR event because

it wouldn't look presidential. Here's the


Is Trump at all aware that his entire manner

and temperament are completely unpresidential?



for May 3, 2011


Did Local Officials in Abbottabad Try to Embezzle
Food Stockpiles for bin Laden?

My own deep research of the archives of such Pakistani

newspapers/websites as The Dawn and All Pakistani News

brings up an interesting red flag. It's a story that

made minor regional headlines last month but seems to

take on potential new meaning following the capture of

bin Laden in Abbottabad.

I found an obscure news story from April 12, 2011, in

The Dawn that reported on the case of local Pakistani

officials caught up in the embezzlement of a huge amount

of wheat and other food.

The case involved the food inspector of bin Laden's

little hometown -- his name is Muhammad Ishtiaq -- and a

former food inspector in the area, Jamil Tariq, as

well as a former regional food controller named Qamar

Zia Turabi and an assistant food controller, Nazakat

Hussain Shah. (The only defendant ultimately acquitted was


The case stemmed from warehouse raids in 2007, shortly after

bin Laden took up residence in his fortress in Abottabad -- a

haven that almost certainly relied heavily on its

own stockpiles of essentials.

The very fact of such a cloistered fortress raises the issue

of how the people living there were able to get large

quantities of food without bringing attention to

their residence and to their comings and goings. In all

likelihood, the place was stocked with large reserves

of the basics.

Did someone in the local government of Abbottabad provide

(or try to provide) them with such a stockpile? Is this

particular case an example of local officials trying to

help out bin Laden?

It should be noted that food embezzelment is a relatively

rare and exotic phenomenon; a Google search of the

words "food embezzlement" and "Pakistan" brought up

only two results (aside from a few oil-for-food-emebezzlment


But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- I've always had some admiration for Caroline

Kennedy, but did not like her remarks on David Letterman

Tuesday night. On the show, she casually, laughingly

sort of denigrated her late brother John, implying

he needed some "character building" in his


A sort of ugly display of sibling rivalry -- with a dead

sibling, no less. Not cool.

I mean, I remember that infamous footage of John being

physically pushed around by Carolyn Bessette in Central

Park. And he didn't push back or even yell back. He

handled her temper tantrum with a cool head.

So where did he need "character building"? Are you referring

to the fact that when he was younger he liked to sleep with

women? Well, that's the state of nature of guys in their

twenties -- I hate to inform you. (And it goes without

saying that John took few liberties that were not

also taken by other prominent members of the family.)

John was a decent guy who deserves to be remembered

better than she's remembering him now.

(By the way, the inconsistency of forgiveness these days

will take your breath away.)

* * *

P.S. -- No, bin Laden is not entering hell, or heaven. He's

entering a shark's stomach right about now. Period.



for May 1, 2011

Oh, happy day! Osama bin Laden is dead!

This is cause for real celebration.

Barack Obama has just done in two years what W. wasn't able

do in seven! He's now, arguably, a bona fide national hero.

I'm sure there are lots of people (including me) who wanna

say congratulations (and thanks) to the president.

And tonight Obama might have won his second term.

By the way, while everyone else was saying bin Laden was

hiding way up in Chitral, I was saying, No way he could

be in Chitral. Too remote. And I was right. My own

investigative research and reporting told me that bin Laden

was in the Bajaur Agency -- not a bad guess, as it turned out,

considering that he was ultimately found and killed

around sixty miles due east of the Bajaur Agency.

Here's what I reported last year about Osama's whereabouts:

But I digress. Paul



for April 28, 2011

I've read some of the new cables released by Wikileaks and

here're are some observations:

-- Dirty bomb threats from militants trying to get

radioactive materials from the former Soviet republics are

mentioned repeatedly and appear to be the main danger from

jihadists. If such an attack were to occur, one can bet with

virtual certainty the ingredients will have come from one of

the former Soviet republics. As everyone knows, those republics were

once tightly controlled (decades ago) by Moscow but are now

managed, often weakly, by a variety of governments with

unpredictable alliances. Truly, the weak link in the

nuclear chain.

-- As I've noted in my own original research and reporting, and

as confirmed here by the new cables, London has become a central

breeding ground for jihadists. And not just at Finsbury Park,

either, or in the Tower Hamlets and Newham areas of the city.

My own info says that some of the university Islamic societies

of the U.K. are havens for violent jihadists (the ISOCs at

Essex and (of course) University College London, alma mater

of the Christmas day bomber, appear to be the worst).

-- Info about the brain-damaged Zubaydah and the completely amoral

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh make someone like

Sayf al-Adl seem moderate by contrast.

-- We now have positive confirmation that United flight 93

was headed for the U.S. Capitol building on 9/11. (They should

rename it (or part of it) the Todd Beamer building. A capital

idea, if I should say so myself! Hey, more than anyone else,

he saved that building.)

-- Most of the new cables are outdated. (Wow! Gordon Brown's

re-election chances are dimming! Stop the presses!) And

the old info on Libya and Egypt seems almost quaint, from

another epoch. Though they do tell us that if Gaddafi is

to be captured, he'll surely be found on the first floor

of whatever building he's in (Muammar has an extreme fear

of being on the upper floors of any structure).

But I digress. Paul



for April 27, 2011

Doesn't this Obama birth certificate thing sound sort of like some

obscure Miles Davis recording from the early sixties? And fans

want the whole extended jam released?

''Live Birth, Vol. 2 (long-form)"

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine was reading my

home page, which compiles some of my journalism of

the past few decades. (It's at

Anyway, she noticed there was a lot of diversity in

my work and wondered what I thought were the main

phases of my career.

I thought about it and saw that there have

been three main phases. For anyone interested,

here they are...

The Three Main Phases of Paul Iorio's Journalism

FIRST PHASE: 1985 to 1990 (New York City).

During these years, in my twenties and very early
thirties, I was a music journalist. The majority of
my music writing was published by Cash Box magazine,
where I was a staff writer/reporter. I also did
freelance writing during this time for numerous
publications, including Spy, the Village Voice, Hits,
the East Coast Rocker, etc.

Among my pop culture scoops of this period:
-I was the first journalist anywhere to have conducted
a taped interview with Phish's Trey Anastasio (and I even
introduced him to Widespread Panic)
-I was the first to have written about Phish
outside of the band's hometown (i.e., outside the
Burlington, Vermont, area).
-I wrote the first magazine article on They Might Be
Giants, which is how the record label that signed
TMBG heard about the duo.
-I was the only reporter to have written about the
Smithereens's "Especially for You" album before
it was even recorded (it would go on to become a gold record).

Despite all the scoops, it was still a few years before I
was published by major papers like the New York Times.

[above: photo of me in my office at Cash Box magazine,
New York, 1987.]

[For the record, I lived in and around Manhattan from
June 1979 to June 1996; I never lived anywhere else
during that period.]

* * *

SECOND PHASE: Late 1993 TO '97 (New York and Los Angeles)

This was my magazine journalism period.

A bad recession shut down a lot of magazines in 1991 and
1992, so I didn't publish as many stories as I should
have in those two years. (Can you believe it: the guy who
found Phish and other bands couldn't find work in music
journalism in '91/'92? I think the meritocracy was being
run mostly by the rich back then!)

But I did reemerge in very late 1993 to write full-time
again -- and some of my best material is from that period,
in my opinion. Among the articles I wrote, reported and
initiated were a satiric piece for Details in which I
pretended to convert to all the world's great (and not-so-great)
religions. I wrote/reported several pieces for Spy,
including the popular "Dylan-o-Matic," by which readers
could create their own Bob Dylan lyrics; and an expose of
universities selling honorary degrees. Also penned a few
stories on movies for The New York Times and
The Washington Post.

And I wrote a landmark feature about Richard Pryor,
which included my own first-hand account
of Pryor's very last stand-up comedy performance anywhere.
(I was the only reporter to have covered it.)

[above: photo of me in the Village in Manhattn, '94.]

* * *

PHASE THREE: 1997 to today (Los Angeles and San Francisco)

The early part of this period was dominated by
stories I wrote for the San Francisco
Chronicle, though some of my best work of this time was
published by the Los Angeles Times and the
Washington Post. (I also did reporting for Reuters
in these years; and I may well be the only reporter
to have asked O.J. Simpson straight to his face: "Have
you had any luck finding your wife's murderer?")

Notable pieces include my interview with poet Lawrence
Ferlinghetti on Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," a story that
has since become required reading at some Ivy League and
other universities. I also wrote the very first piece
linking Ellen Degeneres and Anne Heche, in 1997, preceding the
avalanche of Anne and Ellen stories that followed. And I
conducted a revealing one-on-one interview with Woody Allen.

But the biggest story I did during this period was a
scoop for the Los Angeles Times that generated more
reader response than any other story that had appeared
in one of its sections. That article was a two-part
feature on Roman Polanski's "Chinatown," which included
my exclusive interview with Polanski himself (a rarity at
the time).

Months after writing that scoop, I was hired out of
L.A. to become a staff writer/reporter at the San
Francisco Chronicle, for which I had written as a
freelancer for three years (most of my freelance
stuff for the paper was published without any
editing at all, or (at most) with very minor edits).

Today there is sort of a fourth phase -- and has been
since around 2005. I continue to do freelance writing
(and have even done some reporting on terrorism
issues that has been used by major publications). But
part of my time since '05 has been spent on recording
and releasing the many original songs I've written
over the decades and continue to write. (And I'm happy
to report that my songs have been played on such leading
alternative radio stations as KALX, KCRW and WFMU!)

[above: photo of Paul in the 21st century!]

But I digress. Paul



for April 24, 2011

Everybody's talking about the coming royal wedding in

terms of Champagne and designerwear, but the

real question is: is Kate Labour or Tory? It does

matter. A lot. She could become the Queen one day, with

the power to decide who becomes prime minister in a

tight race. (Look at how Queen Elizabeth installed

Cameron last year.) The U.K. is being disingenuous in

saying this isn't a state wedding; the crown makes

binding decisions.

Get ready for saturation TV coverage of the marriage of

Quite Lovable to Likably Balding.

In any event, everyone knows that the real queen of England,

the only woman truly worthy of the crown is...Kate Winslet!

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Not seen on a bumper sticker: "How many sins

has Jesus died for lately?"



for April 23, 2011

Last Night's Robert Plant Show in Berkeley, Calif.

Without a doubt, the highlight of Plant's concert

with the Band of Joy was an ingeniously re-worked

"Houses of the Holy" followed by a pastoral, fresh

"Ramble On" that included some raga bordering on

dervish. Plant not only brought that Zep classic

back to its U.S. roots; he also showed Americana as

just another piece of a world music mosaic, something

LZ proved decades ago with "Kashmir."

That said, some of the other re-arranged Zep

tracks were not quite as successful. "Tangerine,"

that great ball of A-minor melancholy, had

the greatest potential to work in this rootsy

context, but some of its beautiful sadness was

lost here. "Black Dog" had none of its

novel angularity. And "Gallows Pole" was

far more rootsy on the third album recording.

And "Please Read the Letter" made me miss Alison Krauss,

who gave the song a buoyancy, wonder and innocence

missing here.

Elsewhere, Buddy Miller was a pleasant surprise on his

turn in the spotlight, sounding like some sort of

combination of Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins,

like a forgotten Fifties rocker from the Sun stable.

Even in the hills above the Greek Theater, where I

heard the gig, Miller got the crowd going.

After hearing Miller, I couldn't help but think that

Plant should do an acoustic blues tour, performing

the original blues classics that Zep either covered

or re-wrote back in the day.

All told, of all the new songs from either Band of Joy

or "Raising Sand," the best of the bunch (by far) is the

one Plant co-wrote with Jimmy Page, "Please

Read the Letter."

Any way to get those two together for a whole album?

But I digress. Paul



for April 22, 2011

In the past 24 hours, there's been a mini-epidemic of news

stories along the lines of the-iPhone-records-my-every-movement,


A casual look at the shows at least three

such stories in the past day (and I bet I'd find more

if I did a major search).

First came David Poque, the Times's technology writer,

writing this yesterday:

'Yes, Big Brother is watching you...And you know what? I’ll bet
he’s bored to tears."

Then this morning, the always original Paul Krugman wrote:

"The horrible secret someone would learn from my tracking is that
I don’t have any interesting secrets."

And then there's this from today's SatireWire, which Krugman links to:

"iPhone secretly tracking how dull your life is."

And the truth is that that's mostly true.

I mean, as I prepare to brew some Yuban and eat

some Honey Bunches of Oats before heading to the

UC Berkeley campus, I can't help but think...anyone

tracking my movements would soon be dozing off.

* * * *
* * * *

Wanna see a good new flick? Try Duncan Jones's "Source Code."

I've seen it twice -- and you really do have to in order to

figure it out, as it's a complex, intricate work that's

also intensely satisfying to those who get it.

It's sort of a time-travel thriller in which a computer

program is created that enables someone to be

repeatedly sent back in time to the period minutes

before a terror attack. Hence, the protagonist

(Jake Gyllenhaal) gets to wander around the scene of a

crime (a train) before the crime is committed (i.e.,

the train is blown up).

What his enablers didn't anticipate is that he would

fall in love with someone he meets during his time travels --

a woman who he's with in the final minutes of her

life (he knows it's her final minutes; she doesn't).

Which leads to the magical scene near the end of the film,

when he's fully aware a bomb is about to go off and kill

everybody on the train he's on, so he sees to it that everybody

onboard is laughing and hugging and kissing and having

fun before the explosion. The freeze frame of all the joy

onboard is one of the most brilliant, touching

images on screen in a long time -- pure cinematic magic.

Taut, suspenseful in an innovative way, brainy, dreamy,

poignant, "Source Code" recalls "Groundhog Day," "Sliding Doors,"

"North by Northwest," and "Ghost" without being much like

any of those films.

The movie has too many implausbilities to be perfect, but if

you go with the flow, it's a terrific ride. If it weren't

so convoluted, it might have caught on like "The Sixth Sense."

* * * *

Also saw Jonathan Liebesman's "Battle: Los Angeles" the

other night.

It starts off promising, like a cross between "The Hurt Locker"

and a quality Bruckheimer film, with some chilling images that

show CNN covering what it thinks is a meteor shower off

the coast of Santa Monica. (Like "Unstoppable" and "Source

Code," it skillfully interweaves breaking news footage into

the action.)

But it soon begins to look like a combination of

"Transformers," "G.I. Joe," "District 9," video games,

generic military bossiness and Kathryn Bigelow-isms,

an uneasy mixture at best. Still, give Liebesman points

for resisting 3-D.

The movie doesn't end so much as set up a scenario for a sequel.

And with the gross it's grossing, there'll surely be one.

But I digress. Paul



for April 19 - 21, 2011


sort of gone viral in the last few days, with hits

for the track tripling on various websites. (Though

it's still not viral by YouTube's metric, as I've

not yet created a video for it.)

Hear it here while it's still free:

* * * *

There's continued interest in several of my songs, most

particularly, lately, "HEY THERE, WATCHER," which

appears on disc five of "130 Songs."

I really enjoy that one, too, and I like its originality.

(It's hard to think of anything it's similar to, except

maybe "I'm A Girl Watcher.")

I wrote it at the end of a four or five hour solo jam

session on a weekend afternoon in August 2009; the main

chord progression of "Watcher" just flowed out. I then

began singing whatever came into my head, which was

initially "Hey There, Roger," about a long-time pal

of mine named Roger, but then I started thinking of

that 1960s hit "I'm a Girl Watcher" and changed it to

"Hey There, Watcher," with lyrics about an urban

street tableau.

It's posted on various sites online, so hear it there.

(I'll try to post it here, too.)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Don't be fooled. B pays L to lie for him.



for April 19, 2011

Two Very Scary Words: Trump/Rubio '12

The answer has been in front of us all along.

What's going to happen in 2012 at the polls is what

happened in 2010 at the polls.

What happened in 2010, in race after race, is this:

the Tea Party contender, initially written off, surges

in the GOP primary campaign and then, unbelievably,

defeats the more moderate Republican contender who

had been considered the prohibitive favorite.

The more moderate Republican contender, aghast

at his party being hijacked by a long-shot extremist, then

launches an independent candidacy in November,

setting up a three-way race between the Democratic candidate,

the Tea Partyer who won the GOP nod and the moderate


We saw that play out in numerous races last year, most

notably in Florida, where the overwhelming favorite (Charlie Crist)

lost the GOP nom for the U.S. Senate to a Tea Partyer,

Marco Rubio, who proceeded to win in a three-way with

the weak Kendrick Meek.

And we saw that play out in Alaska, albeit with different

final results. Lisa Murkowski was expected to win the

GOP nomination for the Senate by a mile but was upset by

Tea Partyer Joe Smith, causing Murkowski to launch a

successful indie bid against Smith and a Democrat.

And that's exactly what's shaping up in the presidential

race of '12. Romney and Huckabee are the supposed front-runners

(and the faves of the GOP ruling elite). But a long-shot

Tea Partyer -- dismissed as "unelectable" (sound

familiar?) -- is suddenly proving to be electable. His

name is Donald Trump and polls suggests he could

terrify the GOP mainstream with primary wins in major

states (the same way George Wallace freaked-out moderate

Democrats in '72).

If the pattern of '10 holds, Trump could easily become

the GOP nominee. And if he chose Rubio for the veep slot,

which would counter charges he's anti-immigrant, he'd be

formidable in the general.

Sensible Republicans would then brace themselves for the

very real possibility of losing an election against

President Obama that should have been a slam dunk for the GOP.

The top defeated moderate contender -- either Mitt Romney

or Mike Huckabee -- would probably inevitably launch an

independent candidacy (a la Murkowski and Crist) -- causing

a three-way: Obama versus Trump versus Romney.

With the Republican vote split in half, Obama might actually

be able to eek out a bare win in the popular count, though

it's hard to see how he'd get 270 electoral votes in

such a scenario.

And with Trump winning the George Wallace states, Romney taking

the purple ones and Obama winning the blues, the election

might well be thrown into the U.S. House, which is, of

course, Republican.

Which means: for the second time in little more than a decade,

the White House might be occupied by someone who didn't win

the popular vote count.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Hey, I'm no computer genius, but I sure

do feel like one these days. Because nobody has yet

figured out how I'm able to get around the New

York Times's new digital paywall.

Everybody's being wayy too complicated about how to

do it. They say, change the url. They say, change

your browser. They say, disable and then

enable javascript, or something. Or whatever.

I say, no, no, no. There's a much simpler way that works

every single time and gives you unlimited free access.

And I'm not saying a word. Because if I did, the Times

would surely find a way to subvert my subversion.

BTW, I bet the first financial results about the Times's paywall

are in and the bosses at the paper are hearing the bad news: the

website is probably losing readers, which means the paper's

circulation base will have to be adjusted downward,

which means they can't charge as much for ads. Which means,

ironically, the paper has just lost money by trying to charge

its readers for content. (Not a great idea, in the middle of a

recession, to charge people for what they'd been getting for free.)

Anybody remember Times Select? I think we'll soon be calling the

paywall Times Select 2.



for April 18, 2011

Finally was able to send out advance copies of the

long-form edition of my brand new album "ZIP CODE OF THE

MOON" last week and am glad a lot of people are

enjoying it!

Just yesterday a Huffington Post blogger called

one of the album's tracks, "They're Building a

Mosque in My Mind," "an awesomely hilarious song!"

(Everybody seems to like my line: "They

have a jones for the Tao....")

Thanks, Doug. Glad you like it!

Meanwhile, around a dozen of the album's songs have reached

as high as number 20 on the Soundclick alternative

charts (out of hundreds of thousands of tracks in that


And at least seven of the songs have already had

radio airplay!

My apologies to the East Bay Express newspaper; I should

have sent you a copy of the 22-song version of

"Zip Code of the Moon," which is being received far far

more enthusiastically than the 5-song e.p. I sent

to you.

All critics who might be considering reviewing

"Zip Code of the Moon" and who received only the 5-songer

should request the 22-track version


But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Yes, the album is copyrighted as "ZIP CODE OF

THE MOON (AND 28 OTHERS)." And that's because

the copyrighted version has 7 bonus tracks.

(Rest assured, I'll be releasing those extra tracks


P.S. -- Anyone who has listened to my music knows

it's mostly folk-pop, though I've also tried numerous

other genres (e.g., rap, reggae, ska, country, you name

it.). But one critic actually saw "(Stop the) Beer

Hall Putsch" as "black metal," which, admittedly, I've

never heard a note of. I think most saw that track

as grunge-ish. Closer to grunge, isn't it?

* * * * *

* * * * *

After listening to the shrimper on NBC's newscast

tonight, I couldn't help but think it won't be long

before I'm in a restaurant and the waiter says:

"Would you like your garlic shrimp with

radiation or with light sweet crude?"



for April 17, 2011

Look at what Jihadists have done to The Koran. At least that's what they've done to the spirit of the holy book. ( And they've also burned people, which is worse.)


* * * *

"The Bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Koran's mute
If you burned them all together you'd get close to the truth"

-- Conor Oberst, "Four Winds"

* * * *

Advice to all 2012 presidential candidates: the easy way to

a 90% favorable rating in the polls is...never take a

brave public stand on abortion, gun control, religious fascism

or any other hot button issue!

But I digresseth. Paul


for April 14, 2011

Donald Trump defends his "literary reputation" these

days by saying he "wrote" best-selling books.

I had a good chuckle over that one. Donald Trump, writer! He's

right up there with Suzanne Somers and all those

other authors in the "written with" genre. A lot of

his stuff was penned (de facto) by Tony Schwartz, and

he knows it!

In fact, the "authorship on application" at the Library of

Congress for one of his "How I Do My Deals" copyrights

is Tony Schwartz. Doesn't even mention Trump in that

authorship slot.

And it sounds strange to me that Bankers Trust shares the

copyright with Trump for "The Art of the Deal."

I think that might have been a product of that period

when he was humiliated by the early Nineties recession,

was limited to an allowance every week by bankers and came

thisclose to failing as a businessman. (So let's get

this straight: even starting with a half billion dollar

advantage in life, Trump almost failed anyway.)

* * * *

Now that everything Trump from the Eighties and

Nineties is being revived, perhaps Prince will

think about re-releasing his song "Donald Trump

(black version)," which he wrote for The Time in


Remember that one? From "Pandemonium"? Sung by Morris Day?

Here're some of the lyrics (Prince Rogers Nelson holds the

copyright -- not his best work!):

"When a money man walks in the room, girl, you look more
than twice...

Donald Trump (black version), maybe that's what you need.
A man that fulfills your every wish, your every dream.
Donald Trump (black version), come on take a chance.
A 1990's love affair, the real romance.

Honey baby, you are the finest I have seen.
...I heard you. You said your favorite color was green.

Donald Trump (black version), maybe that's what you need.
Come on, come on take a chance.
A man that fulfills your every wish, your every dream."

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- BTW, all those books Trump "wrote" are

pure bullshit. Trump's own life story, not his books,

reveals the real secret to becoming rich in

America, which is: inherit half a billion dollars

from your daddy.



for April 13, 2011

Didya see Katie Couric with her bestest friend Matt

Lauer on the "Today" show this morning? LOL! Katie's

losing her temp job at end-of-month, so she seemed

a little bit...losin' it, you know what I mean?

Is Katie having a mental breakdown? Here's a brief

audio clip from her appearance on "Today" this morning

that suggests...maybe so. (It's funny -- give it a

[the audio clip plays automatically; just let it
buffer; no need to press "download" or "play now."]

But I digress. Paul



for April 13, 2011

"After studying numerous drawings, I've come to the conclusion that the Prophet Muhammad looks a bit like Tony Shalhoub."

But I digress. Paul



for April 10, 2011

Is "Just Go With It" Racist?The return of blackface humor in "Just Go With It."
[still from "Just Go With It" photographed
by Paul Iorio]

Dennis Dugan's "Just Go With It" is currently the biggest

grossing non-animated film of 2011 so far. But is it also

a bit racist?

There's a scene in the flick, which stars Jennifer Aniston

and Adam Sandler, at around the 57-minute mark,

in which blackface is played for laughs.

Here's what happens. Sandler's character and his pals

are hiking through a rain forest in Hawaii when a little

white girl he's carrying falls in the mud face first.

The girl then lifts up her mud-covered face,

shows an exaggerated minstrel sort of smile

and says in a fake British accent: "Oh....I just

love spending time with you!" (See photo,

Afterwards, (if you watch really carefully)

she appears to do a Buckwheat sort of imitation

before jumping into the water.

The scene so resembles comedy from a bygone

era of blackface humor that even the scriptwriters

apparently felt they had to soften the impact

of that scene. A minute later, the director had

Sandler say to the girl: "Hey, Al Jolson, you mind

jumping in the water?" -- an implicit acknowledgment

that the scene does look like blackface humor.

I'm not even African-American and I thought it

was reactionary and unfunny. I wonder what

some black activists think.

But I digress. Paul



for April 10, 2011

And so in her column today, Maureen Dowd chides Bob Dylan for

not performing "Hurricane" at his recent shows in China.

Evidently, to her, that's proof that President Hu

personally censored Bob's set.

Well, hate to intrude with the facts, but Dylan hasn't

performed "Hurricane" in over thirty years. A cursory

look at his setlists shows that. Why would he trot out

that tale of Jersey injustice for a Beijing audience in 2011?

She also sees his omission of "The Times They Are a-Changin'"

in China as an ominous sign that Zimmy has been muzzled.

Again, the facts. Dylan didn't include "The Times They

Are a-Changin'" in any of his sets in 2010 and played

it only a few times in '09.

And she says that the absence of "Blowin' in the Wind" is

surely proof that Bob bowed to PRC pressure.

Not quite. During his 2010 tour, Dylan played "Blowin' in the Wind"

only 12 times. By contrast, he performed "Ballad of a Thin Man"

100 times in that same span.

Further, she failed to mention contrary facts. For example,

Dylan did do "Tangled Up in Blue," "Desolation Row" and

"A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" in Beijing and Shanghai -- material

that was arguably more subversive than the stuff he did

in Taiwan days before.

Anyway, I covered all this in greater detail in a previous

Digression (below).

I think Maureen is better on Rummy. And now that she seems to be

on a belated free speech jag, I'm looking forward to her

columns that will courageously take on the Muslim right-wingers

who have been trying to tell us what to draw and what to

publish in the West.

And I'm still looking for that column of hers in which she chastises

Yale University Press for deleting the Muhammad cartoons in

a book about the Muhammad cartoons. Can't find that one


But I digress.

P.S. -- Hey, I despise Hu's oppression as much as any

democrat, but Dylan's show ain't an example of it.

P.S. -- Of course we have great freedom in the U.S. -- except

in the private sector, where everybody resides. If you want

to play your songs on "Saturday Night Live" or on any other

TV show, you have to submit your setlist in advance for

approval. (And the government, via the FCC, has the power

to veto lyrics.) And -- to cite only the most recent

example of such "censorship" -- Cee Lo Green was forbidden

from singing his hit song "Fuck You" on the air and had

to change it to "Forget You."

Further, Dowd herself has to -- de facto -- submit her column

for approval from her bosses at the Times. And if she were

to use words like fuck or shit, or were to advocate violent

jihad, her column would surely be censored.

And during Dowd's visit to Saudi Arabia, I'm certain

she objected loudly and vociferously to the King about every

instance of gender segregation and oppression that she


P.S. -- Dylan's best line about freedom comes from

his 4th album, and it applies here: "Are birds

free from the chains of the skyway?"



for April 9, 2011

OK, I saw a couple new flicks the other night -- here're

my reviews:

Dennis Dugan's "Just Go With It"

Easily, the worst movie released so far in 2011.

Obvious, corny, broad, dull, contrived, cutesy,

tiresome, calculated, simultaneously soft-minded and mean.

Squarely in the Jay Leno school of comedy, but not

nearly as funny. All that's missing is Jennifer

Aniston going "Ta ta!"

And Adam Sandler seems to think that the way out

of his juvenile persona, his default mode, is to

act like Springsteen.

As of this writing, it's also the second biggest grossing

movie of the year, which is sort of depressing. Because

if this is what mainstream moviegoers like, then we have

nothing in common.

* * * *

Emilio Estevez's "The Way"

While Carlos Estevez (aka, Charlie Sheen) has been hogging the

tabloid spotlight lately, his big brother Emilio has been

quietly busy on this film, set to drop in the States in

late September.

I got to see it the other night and can report it's...not

bad at all. Though it's not likely to make my top ten

list for 2011, it does sport a solid performance by

Martin Sheen, full of steely reserve and discipline, and

an interesting plot.

The plot is: Sheen's character, learning about his son's death in

an accident in the Pyrenees, decides to hike the same treacherous

path that his son hiked -- a mythic mountainous trail called the

Way of St. James deep in Basque country. Walking it is a sort of

rite of passage for some Catholics.

And Sheen is engaging enough to keep you watching every step

of his journey, though the movie would have been much better

if his trek had been tied to, say, the solving of a

mystery surrounding the circumstances of his son's death.

Doubtless, critics will see indirect references to Charlie

Sheen in the flick. (Martin's character has extremely

ambivalent feelings about his late son, who he says pissed

him off; another character says: "Our children: they are

the very best of us and the very worst of us.")

And it also has some great Spanish scenery -- and there's

nice use of music by the Shins and James Taylor. But

the film is, alas, likely to be seen largely in the

shadow of Charlie.

* * * *

Neil Burger's "Limitless"

The best movie of the year so far.

From scene one, this flick is built to kill. Its premise

is fantastic, outlandish -- and completely plausible.

The protagonist (Bradley Cooper, in a part that seems

to have been written for Ben Stiller) takes smart pills

that allow him to use all of his brain. Suddenly,

he's a genius in multiple fields and starts sounding

like Paul Krugman.

Burger pulls off the high concept flawlessly, taking the

premise in all the right directions. Though parts vaguely

resemble "The Player" and "Good Will Hunting," it's mostly

completely original. And it's one of the very few

recent mainstream movies that does not devolve into

excessive gunplay, incoherence and explosions in the

last half-hour.

Highly recommended.

But I digress. Paul

[this day's Digression updated 4/11.]


for April 9, 2011

Dylan plays Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, tomorrow night,

and -- I'm not making this up -- here's the poster for

the gig (below). He looks a bit like Ho Chi Bob!

BTW, the other night in Shanghai, he did do

"Desolation Row," which some critics thought

was verboten in the PRC.

But I digress. Paul



for April 8, 2011

The Resurgence of that "Short-Fingered Vulgarian"

If you were a twentysomething journalist in New

York City in the 1980s, Donald Trump was little more

than an easy punchline. At least among the people I

hung around with.

His crass style, greediness, ugly divorce from Ivanka

and nickname ('The Donald") earned him an immortal

characterization from the late great Spy magazine:

"short-fingered vulgarian."

And it's safe to say that nothing has happened in the

past two decades to change that impression. In fact,

he's become even more of a short-fingered vulgarian

over the years.

And now -- dare I say it? -- he's probably the

frontrunner for the Republican presidential


Oh, yes he is. And Ashleigh Banfield is

already seemingly positioning herself to be his

press secretary! (Maybe it'll be Trump/Meat Loaf '12.)

A few observations about Trump.

1. Trump proves that you can be one of the richest people
on the planet and still be incurably lower class.

2. He has billions of dollars but can't even afford a
decent haircut.

3. Many immigrants in America know the English language
better than Trump does.

4. His fingers really are unusually short. I wonder what
that means about the length of his, uh,...political career!
(And I wonder how many times Trump has said to girlfriends,
"If you measure from up here, it's three inches!")

5. He should be ashamed of himself for exploiting that
birther crap. (Me, I don't care if Obama was born in
Mecca and grew up in Medina; he's bombing the bejesus
out of the Haqqanis the way W. never did, and that's
what matters.)

Bravo to the (very hot) Ashley Biden for calling for a

boycott of "The Apprentice."

I would even take it a step further: boycott the products

of any company that advertises on "The Apprentice."

(I'll try to provide a list in a future blog.)

Ashley for president?

But I digress. Paul



for April 7, 2011

Gonna Change His Way of Singing? Not Quite.

Lots of talk in the media about whether Bob Dylan, under

pressure from the Chinese government, performed

less controversial songs at his first-ever concert in Beijing

last night.

But the facts seem to tell another tale. True, Dylan did do a

slightly different setlist in Beijing than he had done days

before in Taiwan. But Dylan's sets always vary from night

to night.

An examination of the setlists for the Taiwan and the Beijing

concerts shows Dylan seems to have done a more subversive set at

the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium than he did at the Taipei


For example, in Beijing he played "Tangled Up in Blue" -- with that

classic line from the era of dissent, "There was music in the cafes

at night and revolution in the air" -- and his protest song "A Hard Rain's

a-Gonna Fall." Both were absent from the Taipei set.

Much has been made of the omission of "Blowin' in the Wind"

from the Beijing concert. That song, of course, includes

the line: "How many years can some people exist before they're

allowed to be free?," which might have been a point of

objection for the Chinese government, given their problems

in Tiananmen Square in '89 and in Tibet. (Dylan did have

to submit his setlist to the PRC government for approval

before the Beijing show, though it's not known if they

actually vetoed any song choices.)

But Dylan had already done a classic from "Freewheelin'" at

the Workers' Gymnasium, so he did not need to do

"Blowin' in the Wind," also from "Freewheelin'."

And a look at his recent setlist history shows

Dylan doesn't usually do "Blowin' in the Wind"; his

last shows of 2010 didn't include the tune.

Arguably, if you were to show someone the two setlists in

a blind test, and have the person try to guess which setlist

might have been censored, the guesser would probably say

that the set in Tapei was more tamped down and tamer

than the one in Beijing.

Judge for yourself. Here are the two setlists:

Dylan set at the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium, April 6

Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
Tangled Up In Blue
Honest With Me
Simple Twist Of Fate
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
Love Sick
Rollin' And Tumblin'
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
Highway 61 Revisited
Spirit On The Water
Thunder On The Mountain
Ballad Of A Thin Man
Like A Rolling Stone
All Along The Watchtower
Forever Young

And here's the show he gave on April 3 at the Taipei Arena in Taiwan.

Gotta Serve Somebody
It Ain't Me, Babe
Things Have Changed
Sugar Baby
Cold Irons Bound
Simple Twist Of Fate
Honest With Me
Desolation Row
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
Forgetful Heart
Highway 61 Revisited
Tryin' To Get To Heaven
Ballad Of A Thin Man
Like A Rolling Stone
Blowin' In The Wind

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- When Dylan plays Ho Chi Minh City

tomorrow night, he ought to slip in

"Tweeter and the Monkey Man." And in Shanghai,

he ought to end his show with, "Free Weiwei."



for April 5, 2011

"Egrets, I've had a few."



for April 4 - 6, 2011

Lately, I'm finding that the same sorts of questions about

my music keep coming up time and again, so I've decided to

post a sort of FAQ in which I answer the most

frequent questions. Here goes:


PAUL IORIO: I didn't always have the money to book time at
a recording studio in my youth. Plus, I had no idea how to
work the tech equipment in a studio. And I was working full-time
as a journalist back then, so I didn't always have the time to
cut albums. When I had the money, I didn't have the time.
When I had the time, I didn't have the money.


IORIO: Digital technology was invented that enabled everybody
to record music without having to know much tech stuff.
And an old friend from my high school years emerged
in '05; he had more money than I had and was willing
to invest in my music, giving me the hardware and
financing for studio time. He showed me how to work
volume knobs on the mixing board and all that. Bill
Epps was his name. (Not that he had as much money as
Charlie Sheen!)


IORIO: For a couple years, I did nothing but thank him for the
investment. But then it started getting back to me that someone
was, behind my back, trying to make it seem like he was partially
responsible for some of my songs. And William knows very well that he
had nothing to do with writing any of my songs and would
certainly tell you as much! All my lyrics, all my music, all my
musical ideas came solely from me. Epps wrote exactly zero percent
of my stuff, as I'm sure he'd tell you. He set that album in motion financially, but not creatively. Compositionally, I had
already written the album before he came onboard.

My tunes are very personal to me. I know where I was and
what I was privately referring to when I wrote every stitch
of every track.


Around four years ago. [Though we've subsequently contacted
each other through Facebook (and I'm trying to get to
the bottom of how bad info about my music was getting
around [updated 7/20/2011].

I sort of wish my friend Epps would explicitly
correct the record out there. Have him release his
video of the '05 sessions that show he didn't compose
anything.After all, there isn't anything confidential about this
situation, there are no secret sources. There's
nothing more to it than the fact that I've written
a whole bunch of songs -- and my long-ago friend from
high school threw some money at recording sessions
and equipment so I could record them!


IORIO: That's ancient history! I've written and
released so much stuff since then. But...for the
record: In 2003 and early 2004, I collected 52 songs
I had written over the years and released them on
cassette tape. Epps heard the album in '05 for the
very first time and said he wanted to finance a session
so that I could re-record the album on CD. Those
sessions took place in September '05, but the
recordings had to be scrapped.


IORIO: Because Epps -- playing producer, and he had never
produced anything but his own recordings before -- tried
valiantly but didn't do the basic things he promised. I hate
to put it so bluntly, but it's true. A missed chord in
"Eastern Western": he said he'd patch it, and he
never did. A glaring error in "Ten Years Ago": he
said he'd fix it, and he never did. He said he'd
fade out "Do What You Wanna Can Do," and he never did.
On and on. And then he overdubs a bass on the
tracks two months after the recordings -- and the bass
isn't even synched with the main tracks! And by
his own admission, he doesn't even know how to
play bass. And I've been writing songs far longer
than he has. (I started calling him "In-Eppt" in
those days! He truly did not improve that album; he
made it worse.

In short, Epps wanted the title of producer but didn't
want to do any of the work! So I scrapped the
recordings and re-recorded the songs, all written by
me, for my "130 Songs" collection.

And Bill was being straight from the git go
or not? I have my doubts. For example,
he financed sessions saying "We're going to record
fifty two songs written by Paul Iorio!" Then I
arrive at the studio and he immediately sets up his
own camera, aims his camera at himself and says, "Paul's
going to record two of his own songs." At the time,
I was puzzled. He knew damn well I was there to record
52 of my songs. So I corrected him immediately, saying
"52 songs, not 2 songs." But if he cut that part out
of the video, the video would deceptively show another


IORIO: Always. I've recorded my songs at hundreds of
recording sessions over the years and have never done one
without a lyric sheet. I don't necessarily need one, but
it's sort of a safety net in case I forget the words. And
it frees me up to worry about things other than the
memorization part. Even lyrics I've written long ago require
me to use a sheet. There are a few exceptions (like "You Know
It Shows," "If One Rainy Night," etc.).

Even Bob Dylan forgets his own lyrics and often needs a lyric
sheet. I recently saw a video of Springsteen performing
"Lost in the Flood" in the 1990s, and he had the lyrics
scotch taped to his mike stand.

And check out the DVD extras of the recent film "Howl."
You'll see Allen Ginsberg reading "Howl" at the Knitting
Factory in Manhattan in 1995, and he reads it from a
printed copy every step of the way. He had written it
four decades earlier and had read it publicly countless
times; but he still needed to read it from the
page. And even then, he stumbled over some of it. A
half-hour poem, when read aloud.


IORIO: And that's just a fraction of the number I've written --


IORIO: Yes. All of them.


IORIO: Well, I used ten words from a Grace Paley short story
in "Must Call Love." And "You Won't Be Burying Me Now"
is based on a public domain Italian folk melody. And I
came up with the five-second bit in "(Stop the) Beer Hall Putsch"
that goes "beer hall -- putsch" during a jam with my brother, who
is also a musician.


IORIO: No, my work is as solo as it gets. Unless you're talking
about jokey things in high school where you put funny words
to the tune of something. But that doesn't count.


IORIO: Usually, I start with some sort of chord progression or melody
that suggests words, which then evolve into lyrics. Or,
sometimes I'll have a great idea for a lyric or a title and
will write a melody around it. Often, music and lyrics
come simultaneously. And in several cases, a melody was
running around in my head when I woke up.


IORIO: Several. The melody of "Endgame," the chorus of "Dontcha Sleep,"
the music and lyrics of the chorus of "Something in the Sky,"
and the verse/chorus melody of "Trees Try to Rise Above Their
Roots." The best example is "Something in the Sky," whose
chorus came out whole when I woke one morning.

I always let songs come to me. I don't come to the song.
There's never been a case when I've sat down with pen
and paper and said, "I'm gonna write a tune!" Never.
It's usually a case where I'm walking through the woods
and a melody occurs to me.


IORIO: Yes. I perform every bit of every song. If there's an
ooo or an ahh, a drum roll or harmonica bit, a botched
chord or inspired figure -- that's all me!


IORIO: That's me doing an overdub. I recorded "Trees" a few
hours before seeing Michael McDonald and Donald Fagan
give a concert in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in
2010. And McDonald was on my mind as I recorded the song,
so I was doing a sort of soulful growl there.

That's on my brand new album, "Zip Code of the Moon (and 21
others). I just realized this morning that not a single
song on the "Zip Code" album existed before April of 2010!
(Except that 5-second "beer hall -- putsch" bit on "(Stop
the) Beer Hall Putsch.")


I use a cardboard box that I beat on with a stick. Seriously.
And I've never used a drum machine in my life. Wouldn't know
how to use one. Everything you hear on every one of my
160+ songs that I've released was played by me on a real
instrument, created from the ground up by me. No samples,
no pre-existing tracks. The only exception is "Hey, Mr. DJ,"
where I use snippets of radio sounds and music throughout
the song.

This is truly hand-made music. I don't even have a count-off
guy; I press the start button on the Roland myself.


IORIO: Mostly. I briefly took guitar lessons at a rec center
when I was nine. And they'd have me learn stuff like
"Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley," which always confused
me -- and still does. A poorly-written song, if you
think about it. (It starts off in third person with the
chorus and then shifts awkwardly into Dooley's own
first-person perspective for the verses.)

Initially, I really didn't have much talent on the guitar.
Of all my musical friends from elementary school through
high school, I was probably considered one of the least
talented guitarists in that group. (I should note that
not one of them went on to become a professional musician.)

Yet, I'd always privately be writing songs in those days.
But I had no confidence to play them in front of people.
In those years, as a teenager, I'd write up two or three
songs in my bedroom and then go to see a friend play at a
high school talent show; and I'd secretly think about
how much better my songs were than the ones my friends
were performing. But I never had the nerve to get onstage


IORIO: Because I had no confidence in my guitar playing and singing
abilities. Hence, I'd never play my tunes for my friends.
I had plenty of confidence in my ability to write good songs,
but not to perform them. It took me many years to develop my
current style of guitar playing.


IORIO; Too many influences to count. But my aesthetic starts with
Paul McCartney and Ray Davies. To me, McCartney is the
world's greatest living composer, our era's George Gershwin.
Also, Bob Dylan, an incalculable influence. Sly and the
Family Stone: their "Greatest Hits" is one of the greatest
albums ever made. Holland/Dozier/Holland. Johnny Cash,
most definitely. And Jeff Tweedy with and without Wilco.
And early Patti Smith. Otis Redding. early Hendrix.
Very late Janis. The hits of Abba, Buddy Holly and
Chuck Berry. John Phillips. John Sebastian.

And I love the great pop singles released in '66 and
in '70 (from the Tee Set to Edison Lighthouse). And
Elvis Costello was huge for me, particularly those
first seven albums. And the Ramones' first six albums.
Marshall Crenshaw's Warner period. The first
Talking Heads albums (particularly the underrated
"Songs About Buildings and Food"). Nick Lowe,
especially from "Pure Pop" to "Rose of England."
And I love early Traffic. Love all of Robert Johnson.
And Warren Zevon's three or four best albums.

And great bridges and middle-eights. The greatest
bridges -- besides Lennon/Mccartney's and Davies's -- are
the ones in "Jennifer Juniper" and "Accidents
Will Happen" and "Night Rally" and "Ramblin' Rose"
and "Dear Eloise' and Dusty Springfield's "Only
Want To Be With You" and the three (!) in "Lola."
"Fixing a Hole," of course, has the greatest bridge
ever written. (Of all the bridges I've written, my
favorite is the one in "If It's Tuesday, It Must Be

But my real main influences were people throughout my life
who were artistically smart and said things that stuck with me.
A concert pianist in Florida who was very knowing about all sorts
of music. A choreographer in New York City who was so artistically
smart that she'd change my mind about things every time we
talked. A former Beefheart guitarist who used to play guitar for
me alone in his apartment in the Village. And Frank Zappa,
with whom I had numerous conversations in the 1980s (he used
to call me every now and then to talk).

Some of the wisest things about music that have been said to
me were said by A&R people at record companies.


IORIO: Contra, Funeral, OK Computer, "Street Spirit,"
Evil Urges, Skylarking, Grievous Angel, Unsophisticated Time,
The Honesty Room, Nevermind, Cool for Cats/Argybargy/East Side Story,
Let It Be/Tim, Murmur/Document, Scarecrow, Born in the USA,
Alive on Arrival, Tull's Benefit to Living in the Past, Buffett's
Key West oeuvre ("The Wino and I Know," etc), some Keith Sykes,
Feist's voice, Wheels of Fire, Mountain's "Flowers of Evil,""The
Message" e.p., Catholic Boy, Zen Arcade, Rage to Live, Alison Krauss,
Ronee Blakley (particularly that album with "Gabriel" and "Fred Hampton"
on it), Lost and Found, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, Guitar Town,
pre-"Gaucho" Steely Dan, "The Cars," "The Good Earth,"
Straight Up (and "No Matter What"), primo Roxy Music, Parallel
Lines, London Calling, Francesco Guccini's "Via Paolo Fabbri 43,"
Cem Karaca's "Nem kaldi," Los Lobos's "La Pistola y Corazon."
Gourmet Grateful Dead means "Europe '72," "American Beauty,"
"Mars Hotel" and spin-off "Old and In The Way." And "bankers' nieces seek
perfection" may well be Dylan's greatest line!

Among real obscurities: albums by Fat, Grapefruit,
Fat Mattress, The Cuts, Nicky Hopkins's "The Tin
Man Was a Dreamer," Oakley Hall, Darker My Love.

But I digress. Paul

[this day's Digression updated through July 20, 2011.]



for March 31, 2011

Fascinating article in the New York Times today. Here's

a link:

Goes like this. In 1999, a guy was murdered in Missouri

and in his pocket were seemingly encrypted notes.

It's a cold case. And the notes have never been translated

into something that makes sense.

So the FBI has now posted the enigmatic scribblings and

is asking for the public's help in cracking the mystery.

OK, here's my analysis.

When I first saw the notes, I thought, That looks like

something out of the movie "Pi," the flick

directed by Darren Aronofsky and released in 1998, several

months before the murder.

And then I saw the initials "PI" at the top, as well as

(at least) three or four places in the text where the

letters "pi" appear -- which is similar to scenes in

the movie in which the letters "pi" appear in densely

cryptic text. (And the letters "SE" appear at least

20 times in the second note.)

My guess? The murder victim saw the movie "Pi" and was

inspired to write pseudo-encrypted notes that had the

letters "pi" in it. And they happened to be in his pocket

when he was murdered for unrelated reasons -- perhaps petty

or random reasons.

My intuition tells me the notes are probably a red herring.

Imitative of a movie he'd seen.

Hope that helps!

But I digress. Paul



for March 30 - 31, 2011

As a journalist, I must admit I've broken stories in novel

(albeit completely legitimate) ways over the years.

So maybe I'm actually good at getting through to blocked and

erased websites.

Still, I'm rather amazed that nobody has yet figured out the

easiest and most effective way to jump the New York Times's new

digital paywall.

Everybody keeps repeating the same two or three methods for

subverting the paywall: fiddle with the "numbers" part of the url;

change web browsers (which would only give you 20 more

articles -- big deal!); etc.

But nobody has figured out my own method, a very easy way to

get unlimited free access to the paper.

Of course, I'm not spilling the cannellinis, lest

The Times finds a way to subvert my subversion.

Still, it's curious that nobody has discovered this route.

Hint: you techies are trying too hard, being too clever. The

solution is much simpler.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- I must say that the psychological effect of the paywall is

fascinating. Because they're charging for it, and because

I'm not supposed to be getting it for free, I'm now reading

all sorts of articles I'd have never touched before. Suddenly,

I'm well-informed on food-coloring, Alaska wild salmon and

Paul Krugman's latest chart showing that Brazil's

experiment with de-regulation failed miserably decades ago.

I've even become disappointed the very few times when the Times

hasn't stopped me with a pop-up, because that sort of devalues my

subversion when that happens. The thrill of the forbidden

is addictive. Could that have been the Times' diabolical

plan all along?

* * * *



for March 30, 2011

I'm reading all these articles about how people

are subverting the New York Times new digital

paywall, but not one person has yet brought up

the easiest and most efficient way to do it.

Lasr night, I discovered the best way to climb

the paywall, which nobody else seems to have

figured out.

And I ain't revalin' it, either! Because I know

that as soon as The Times finds out about it, they'll

plug the leak.

My cybersecret, for now. Can't believe others

haven't figured it out yet!

But I digress. Paul


for March 29, 2011

Paul Krugman's analysis (in today's of why

the winners won both the Second World War and the American

Civil War is intriguing but leaves out one essential

element: luck.

What I mean is: if the Allied choice of Normandy for its

invasion had been found out in advance by the Axis

commanders -- and it almost was -- there would have been no

American march through the Ardennes and on to Berlin -- and no

defeat of the Nazis.

Anyone who has been in combat will tell you that the

randomness of luck on the battlefield will take your

breath away.

And the interception of a single cable, or the deflection

of a bullet or shell that goes a centimeter this way

instead of that: those are the elements that determine

the outcome of competitive battles and wars.

Of course, after the fact, the victors always ascribe the

outcome to an explanation most flattering to themselves.

* * * *

I just saw a few new movies, and here're my reviews:

Jaume Collet-Serra's 's "Unknown"

For the first 45-minutes or so, I was thinking there

could be no plausible explanation for what Liam Neeson's

character was going through.

But then there's a plot twist midway that makes it make

sense. Not exactly perfect sense, but it does become

somewhat believable. And then you wish the film makers

had made more of the premise (i.e., covert guy with a

brain injury mistakenly forgets that his undercover

cover story is just a cover story).

Imagine this concept applied to a CIA or al Qaeda

protagonist. Imagine if a Mohamed Atta were to

suffer head trauma and forget about a plot he

set in motion to topple the Sears tower.

Instead Neeson plays an unremarkable assassin in a role

that seems to have been written for Harrison Ford.

And there are more plot holes than Swiss cheese (e.g.,

there must have been others back in the States

who could've easily verified his identity; the taxi

driver could have been compelled by police

to talk about what happened, etc.). Plus, Neeson's

character didn't seem the least bit out-of-shape after

four days in a coma!

Still, some sequences pack an adrenaline rush worthy of

"The Fugitive," though most thrill about as much

as "The Game."

Worth a look when it's on DVD.

* * * *

D.J. Caruso's 's "I Am Number Four"

A They-Walk-Among-Us type film that soon devolves

into an empowerment fantasy for teens. By the

end, it's neck deep in generic paranormal and

supernatural b.s. Despite some striking imagery

every now and then, I found it hard to keep my mind

on it for long.

* * * *

"The bitch came highly recommended by Bill Wyman. How was I to know you'd get the clap?"

But I digress. Paul



for March 29, 2011

OK, yesterday was the first day of the's

new paywall, which allows each non-subscriber only 20 free

articles a month. Only problem with that is I read 20

NYT articles per day -- at least. And I really don't

have a budget to pay for what I've been getting for free

for years.

Last night I deliberately used up my 20 story limit

in order to try to find a workaround.

And I'm pleased to report that it took me around 50

minutes to discover a novel way around the paywall.

Works every single time.

I'm not going to reveal what my workaround is, because

The Times would then surely find a way to put a stop

to all my fun!

How about this deal? I'll let you folks at the Times in

on my surefire method of climbing your paywall in exchange

for a free digital subscription!

* * * *
* * * *

On another subject...

Happy birthday to Marshall at KALX! Great show last night.

Gotta love a band with a name like the Electric Chair Repair

Company! And glad you were able to use my b-day greeting!

But I digress. Paul



for March 27, 2011

The Untold Story About Coverage of O.J. Simpson O.J. Simpson signs autographs for fans in August 1997 outside the Santa Monica Courthouse (photo by Paul Iorio).

Someone was recently wondering, "Is it true that

you once asked O.J. Simpson whether he had

made any progress finding his wife's killer


The answer is, yes. And I took my lumps from members

of the press who were being very protective of


I wrote about my encounter with O.J. years ago

online, but it has since disappeared. So I

thought I'd republish the piece here and now

in order to give everyone a more complete sense

of how a lot of the press was anything but

aggressive in their approach to Simpson.

My encounter with O.J. happened in August 1997 at

the Santa Monica courthouse, where Simpson was

ordered to give up his Heisman trophy as part of the civil

settlement in his double murder case. I covered it for


The interesting thing about the story was that much of

the press played extreme softball with Simpson. I was shocked,

frankly, that there was almost no aggressive questioning of

the guy, even though everyone had access to him in the


In fact, some reporters and cops were actually playing air

football with Simpson in a courthouse hallway!

And after I asked him a tough question -- "Hey, OJ, have you had

any luck finding the real killers?" -- Simpson, who didn't

like my question much, became openly mocking: "Nobody

likes me, everybody hates me," Simpson said in a sing-song

voice in the corridor, after I was persistent with my questions.

Within minutes, a cop said that reporters couldn't

talk to Simpson. But the judge overruled the officer around an hour

later and said we could talk to him. So I asked him again,

"Hey OJ, have you had any luck finding the killers of your wife?"

And I must say that except for a couple first-class reporters from

Court TV and a couple others, I was the only one asking

hard questions of Simpson. And that seemed to irritate

both cops and a few reporters at the scene (some of whom

were asking "tough" questions like: "OJ, do you feel you're

being harassed?").

I came up with my own question spontaneously, sort of

as a reaction to the timidity of particular reporters

toward Simpson. And it's a fair question, if you

think about it.

Then, out of the blue, as I sat quietly in the courtroom, one

cop (who had been playing air football with Simpson) started

giving me a rough time. And then -- equally out of the blue -- a

so-called reporter (she identified herself as Michelle Caruso

of the New York Daily News) started to play tag team

with the cop, yelling and screaming in the courtroom at me

(about my shirt, oddly, a really nice $75 conservatively

styled shirt) a pro pos of nothing. I just ignored

Caruso, who was acting like someone off her meds.

I had had absolutely no prior contact with this so-called

reporter Caruso, and didn't even know her name until she

told me it (and I didn't even answer her, despite her efforts to

turn the event into an episode of "Jerry Springer").

To me, it looked this way: a cop friendly to

O.J. was pissed that I was questioning OJ harshly.

The reporter Caruso, who seemed to know that cop,

appeared to be playing tag team in trying to provoke

a fight with me in the courtroom. Unfortunately for

her, I didn't take the bait.

Because I didn't take the bait, Caruso ended up making a

spectacle of herself, screaming for no reason whatsoever

as I sat quietly. (To this day, I know of at least one

reporter who still chuckles about how Caruso managed to

make a compete fool of herself that day.)

I should note that Caruso showed no such aggressiveness

in trying to interview OJ Simpson, mind you. She was

very meek when it came to him, who she was paid to cover.

But she had the rude over-familiarity of a hick when it

came to dealing with others in the courthouse,

as if she was straight out of Mayberry, RFD.

Caruso, who came to work that day with big-hair that looked like

it had been butchered by Simpson himself, shut up only when I

showed her that my cassette tape recorder was running -- which

shows that she knew her rant couldn't stand up to scrutiny.

Note to Caruso's editor at the Daily News: you should fire

Michelle Caruso right now, even after all these years, because

behavior like that is likely to be repeated by her (if it

hasn't been already).

I can't help but wonder whether Simpson would have been

serving time earlier if certain reporters and cops had

been a bit more aggressive toward the right people.

Fire Michelle Caruso of the New York Daily News

But I digress. Paul



for March 25, 2011

In Bloom

The Mats's sound triumphed spectacularly -- without
them, four years after they abandoned it.

A documentary about The Replacements is coming to

theaters in coming days and weeks, but I hear it

doesn't include any members of the band

or the band's music.

Uh oh.

As a journalist who witnessed and wrote about the

group's rise in its prime, a few notes:

-- The Mats should have been inducted into the Rock 'n'

Roll Hall of Fame years ago.

-- Back in the day, the band was labeled post-punk, but today

they're really pre-grunge. When I first heard Nirvana's

"Nevermind," the first thing I thought was: this is the

triumph of the Replacements's sound! If only the Mats had

stuck around another year or two, and stayed with their

harder aesthetic, they might have broken through.

-- As much as I hate to admit it, the band's music was

not nearly as great after Bob Stinson's firing. Sure,

Bob had problems with booze and drugs that were making

him impossible to work with. But Keith Richards didn't?

-- In the mid-Eighties, I saw Paul Westerberg in a Brill

Building sort of way. I mean, really listen to

"Swinging Party" -- that is a magnificent

piece of songwriting. So you can see how somebody

could have been misled into thinking Westerberg

should should have gone that route instead of more toward

"Favorite Thing." But today I tend to go back to the

rockers ("Little Mascara" (perhaps their best song),

but also "Bastards of Young," "Never Mind," "I Don't Know,"

"Alex Chilton," etc.). I would rate "Here Comes a

Regular' higher, but its verse melody is too close

to "Trapped."

And I don't think I've relistened to "Don't Tell A Soul"

or "All Shook Down" in decades. The post-Bob stuff

just doesn't cut it.

-- My use of the phrase "Brill Building" refers to

"Swingin' Party" and "Androgynous" (has Bacharach

heard that one?), not to "Skyway," which is more

like "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),"

the odd acoustic song a hard rock band slips in.

Anyway, I haven't seen the docu -- Gorman Bechard's

"Color Me Obsessed." But I did report about

the band in their prime and even have lotza material --

including an unpublished interview with Bob Stinson

from 1989 -- that have never seen the light of day.

As I remember that '84 to '87 period, The Village Voice

covered them first (among major publications). Musician

magazine covered them best. And Rolling Stone did some

terrific work on the band, too.

But I think it's fair to say that I wrote the definitive

story about the making of "Pleased to Meet Me." It

appeared in Cash Box magazine in 1987 and here it is:

[page one of article; click to enlarge]

[page two of article; click to enlarge]


[page three of article; click to enlarge]

* * * *
* * * *

OK, folks, here's my unpublished interview with

Replacements guitarist Bob Stinson, conducted

in January 1989 by phone.

IORIO: You're on now, you're actually on tape right now.


IORIO: Yeah. As of this second.

STINSON: Just to get a point or two across here: all the problems Paul
[Westerberg] has and talks about were nonexistent when I was in the band.
And the elements that got the band signed are also now nonexistent. I put
that band [The Replacements] together, and that one was kind of easy. And
this one [Static Taxi] is a little bit harder.

This band has no relatives or union members. This one's called Static
Taxi. A lot of people say it has a more Sixties influence because it's just
one guitar, bass, drums and a lead singer, but all of us sing back up with
the lead singer. And it's a lot stronger. You can't point to anybody and say
you fucked up, because if we fuck up, you can tell who fucked up.

IORIO: How about the myth of Bob Stinson. The mythical legendary
figure of old. How much of that is true, and how much of that is just a put on?
You've read all the stuff --

STINSON: Right. Well, I haven't been with the band in three years. [laughs]
I'm what you'd call a classic scapegoat. It's like I said, all the problems that
they have were nonexistent when I left. All the problems that you're reading
about now are just now coming up. And my name just goes underneath them.

IORIO: Well, what was the moment of truth? When did you leave? I mean, why?

STINSON: When or why?

IORIO: What was the actual moment of truth, when you said, well --


IORIO: Money was the problem?

STINSON: Yeah!! I was the only one that would stand up to Paul and
say, "You can't have 80% of everything, you know -- if you want to be
a band." He'd rather be just Paul Westerberg. He has no intentions of
being a band. He's a German Nazi. Complete true to form.

IORIO: He wrote songs that were kind of like --

STINSON: No, no, no. We decided we'd let him have the name on
condition that he'd give us our part of the royalties and all this and that
shit. But when it came down to the bottom line, we were without a rug
underneath us. I can't get my royalties from him either.

IORIO: So all that stuff basically is --

STINSON: Malarkey.

IORIO: Malarkey. And just monetary.

STINSON: Um, and ecological.

IORIO: And the fact that he was writing songs that were --

STINSON: No, he wasn't writing them. He'd come to practice
with an idea and that was it.

IORIO: How about the theory that's been put out in the press that
he was writing songs that... weren't so much punkish
anymore, and you were pretty much a punk guitarist.

STINSON: Me? [laughs] Do you have a Static Taxi tape?

IORIO: No, as a matter of fact. I'd like to get one.

STINSON: Well, you should. Because there's not one thing
in there that's heavy punkish.

[Stinson hangs up the phone and there is a dial tone.]

But I digress. Paul



for March 24, 2011

It was supposed to have been a mere b-side, but it's

now charting on social networking sites anyway. The

song is called "Blame It on the Reggae," and I wrote

and recorded it last month and posted it online

a couple weeks ago.

Not my best song, admittedly, but some people

seem to like it. Sort of a send-up of both

reggae fanaticism and of the "Blame It On..."


After numerous tries, I finally caught it at a

studio session on Feb. 15, 2011. And here it is,

for your listening pleasure:

But I digress. Paul



for March 23, 2011

The Main Tribe of the New Generation of Arab Revolutionaries
is...the Facebook Tribe.

Interesting analysis by Tom Friedman in today's New

York Times about whether the Arab revolutions are

being fueled mainly by democrats or by tribal opportunists.

Let me note a couple things. First, a "tribe" is merely

another word for a faction. And factions can always be

assimilated into a national coalition if they share the

same basic framework.

Second, the problem in, say, Pakistan, to a large degree, is

not with its tribes; it's with its borders. The

Pakistan-Afghanistan border, as drawn by the Brits all

those years ago, made a fatal error: it created the

FATAs, a no-man's land not directly answerable to

Islamabad. Had the Waziristans been brought into the

national structure, the Haqqanis and other tribes

would probably have been absorbed more fully into

the Majlis-e-Shoora.

To the British of the 1770s, the American colonies

included tribal areas. (Factions abounded, and not

just between the north and south.) If King George III

had offered the colonies meaningful representation

in Parliament, and therefore a say about policies

on things like taxation and quartering, there may

never have been a revolution here. The appetite for

revolt would have been blunted by compromise.

The main tribe of the new generation of Arab

revolutionaries is is...the Facebook tribe. They are

the first generation in Islam to have been brought

up wholly in the Internet age; the earliest childhood

memories of Arabs under 25 include Internet memories.

And that's the first time in history that can be said.

It's obvious the twentysomethings of the Arab world want

the sorts of freedoms they've witnessed online. Tribal

opportunists who pigggyback on the Facebook revolutionaries

(and luck into power in Yemen or Libya) will themselves be

taken down by the rebels if they try to re-install the

same tired Islamic oppression of the deposed old guard.

[posted at 10 a.m., 3/23/11.]

But I digress. Paul



for March 22, 1011

Will the Fall of Saleh Create FATAs in Yemen?

And will al Awlaki become the de facto leader (a la the Haqqanis)

of a south Yemen factional territory beyond Sana'a's control

(a la the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan)?

[posted at 11:30 a.m. on March 22]

* * * *
* * * *

And now, on a humorous note....

A state Senator in North Dakota, Carol Nelson of Fargo,

has been on a negative campaign against negative

campaiging lately, calling negative campaigners "scumbags,

haters and the lowest form of life."

Meanwhile, Bernie Madoff agreed, denouncing negative

attacks that paint him as a "swindler."

(People always talk about "negative campaiging"

versus "positive campaiging." What about doing some

accurate campaigning?)

But I digress. Paul



for March 22, 2011

Using the Colonel's Secret Murderous Devices

Kadafi Fried Chicken

And Try Kadafi Grilled Rebels

"We Grill 'em Under Hot Lights!"

Made from 100% no-fly chickens.

* * * * *
* * * * *



for March 21, 2011

I hadn't seen "The Sorrow and the Pity" since its

release around 40 years ago (the events it documents

happened only 25 years earlier, a reminder of how

close the 1960s was to the horrors of Hitler).

I was too young to fully appreciate the flick

then, but I sure do get it now.

The other day I re-watched it -- all four-plus hours -- and

here's my review.

Marcel Ophul's "The Sorrow and the Pity"

Extracting eyeballs and then putting live bugs in the vacant

eyesockets before sewing up the cavities was one way the

Nazis kept the French resistance down in the early 1940s,

according to this riveting four-hour documentary. The

Germans also opened up several concentration camps

throughout France (the German camps had been in operation

since '33), which further put the kibosh on dissenters.

It clearly gave Hitler enormous satisfaction to take

France -- he's seen here in rare footage laughing wildly

just after conquering the nation that had defeated Germany

so soundly a couple decades earlier. Hitler had sized-up

the French military and made a bet that they could never pull

off the victory they'd won in the First World War. And he won

that bet. Hitler had the French sussed the way he did not

have the Russians and the British figured.

And sure enough, the great nation that would fight for

months over an anthill in the first war gave it all up

because of a threat this time.

And we also get to hear from the collaborators, who have

the, uh, gall to moan about the resistance

fighters -- "guerrillas," as they called them -- who

would toss explosives or shoot bullets at the SS, killing a

dozen or so here, a dozen or so there.

By the time this docu was done, I was wishing the resistance

had found a way to kill (at least) hundreds of the SS.

Which is what happens, by the way, in the fictional "Inglourious

Basterds." I would bet money that this flick set Tarantino's

imagination on fire, inspiring him to create "...Basterds."

The second half of "Sorrow" -- which shows French farm houses

where resisters organized and small-town movie theaters in

Nazi-controlled areas -- seems to have been the

starting point for Tarantino's film.

Though I love the way "The Sorrow and the Pity" creates

the sense that you're actually sitting down for wine and

chat with the brave anti-Nazis of that era, some of the

footage is superfluous and redundant. It may be one

of the greatest documentaries ever made, but it could

have been easily pared down to two-and-a-half hours.

For some reason, it left me thinking about (among other things)

the French citizens born in 1935 and 1934 and 1933, people

who would have been 5, 6 and 7 when the Occupation occurred

and whose first memories of life and at school were

controlled by the Nazis.

And their most deep-seated education would have been

Nazi propaganda, force-fed to them until they were

9, 10 and 11. Those people are now 76, 77 and 78 years

old, and I can't help but wonder how they now regard their

earliest elementary school memories in France. Have they

truly been able to shake their early Nazi indoctrination?

(That would make for an interesting documentary in itself.)

Also heard in the film is the music of Maurice Chevalier,

truly one of the worst singers of all time, lacking any

flow. (He should have been tried for crimes against the


Ultimately, the film leaves the central question of our

age unanswered: when new Nazis show up in the present-day

(whether wearing Ku Klux Klan sheets or burqas), what is the

most effective way to defeat them?

But I digress. Paul

[updated 3/22/11]


for March 20, 2011

Pleasantly surprised to see that my new song "(Stop the) Beer

Hall Putsch" enters the Soundclick alternative chart today at #52!

Hear here:

A friend of mine writes in an email:

"Did you plug your acoustic into a cassette recorder/player to
achieve that Keith Richards guitar sound [on] ("(Stop the) Beer
Hall Putsch")?"

Very perceptive question, though I didn't do that to get

that effect. What I did do was try to make my acoustic

guitar sound like an electric (three-string style). And

I was inspired to do so by a passage in Keith Richards's

"Life" in which he describes how he used only acoustic

guitars to create "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (really hard to

believe, but true).

It took awhile but I experimented with tunings and

with proximity to the mike at my studio to achieve

that blasty "Beer Hall" riff. I finally nailed it (after

many tries) at a very solo session on Feb. 8, 2011. (By

"solo session" I mean I was the only one there, which

is how I record all my material.)

And I'm glad she picked up on it and that people are

enjoying it!

* * * *

Here're a couple jokes I came up with this


I'm not saying the 112th Congress is right-wing, but I hear

that speaker Boehner just introduced a bill that would move

the U.S. capital to Vichy.

* * * *

With all the budget-cutting going around, the dream of a

bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles is starting

to sound like one of those "Get Smart" routines: Would you

believe...a local train from San Francisco to Paso Robles? How

'bout a free shuttle bus from the Delta Airlines

terminal to the Qantas baggage carousel at SFO?

But I digress. Paul



for March 20, 2011

For the record, I posted my previous Digression item

("Stopping a Rwanda in Libya") on 8:55 a.m. on March 19th


So does that make me the first media person

to discuss Libya in relation to the Rwanda mass murders

of '94? It looks that way. Now everybody is making that

connection (the Sunday morning talk shows, 24 hours later,

were echoing the idea).

But I digress.



for March 19, 2011

Stopping a Rwanda in Libya

It's an unfortunate truth: a patient traumatized by

botched surgery might fear and avoid all future surgery,

even necessary and urgent operations.

And a lot of Americans are just like that when it comes to

war. Traumatized and disgusted by the unnecessary and

costly conflict in Iraq, some Americans now reflexively

oppose any new war, no matter how justified or vital.

And this reinforces a tendency in the international

diplomatic community (i.e., NATO, the UN) to intervene

in a crisis only after mass slaughter or genocide has

already been committed.

The U.N., in particular, has had a history of showing

up just in time to mop up the blood. (Who can forget

(or forgive) the timidity of the U.N. in '94, when

it did nothing to stop the genocide in Rwanda until

it was too late?)

In this light, the Security Council decision to order

a no-flight zone over Libya is refreshingly bold,

wise -- and fast, too. This is that rare instance when

a coalition is actually dealing with mass murder

before it happens.

But now there's a new breed of domestic "dove"

emerging. The new anti-warriors include (no surprise)

a lot of Republicans opportunistically and

disingenuously opposing intervention in Libya

just because it gives them a political cudgel

to use against Obama.

And their rallying cry is, "This is our third current

war in an Islamic country!"

That's a catchy line (and I've used it, too), but the

truth lies elsewhere.

First, we may have to prepare ourselves for the

possibility of intervening in one or two

other nations where rebels are being slaughtered by

oppressive despots (see: Bahrain, Yemen, Iran).

Second, our involvement in Iraq is essentially finished,

our war in Afghanistan winding down.

Third, there's a moral imperative here. For humanitarian

reasons, we simply can't stand by passively while a

mad tyrant guns down and bombs his own people. If we

didn't learn that from Rwanda, we sure did in Kosovo.

But let the Arab League, the French and the British take

the lead in this case. Americans did almost all the heavy

lifting in Afghanistan and Iraq. If a fighter pilot has to

make a risky raid over Tripoli, let's make sure he or she is

from Lyon or Leeds, not from L.A. This time, the U.S.

should supply arms, money and training, not soldiers.

But I digress. Paul



for March 18, 2011

The movie "Paul" opens today and I recommend it

wholeheartedly. Just seeing Kristen Wiig's t-shirt

"Evolve This!" is worth the price of admission!

(See my write-up, below.)

* * *

Great report from NBC's Michelle Kosinski from the

Chernobyl nuclear plant on this morning's "Today."

And love the line: "If something can be full of

emptiness, this is it."

* * *

I've been finishing Keith Richards's "Life," which I'm thoroughly

enjoying. I've already weighed in on the first part (below);

here're some more observations.

-- When they became tax exiles, the Stones should have

moved to L.A. instead of to the south of France, where they

knew no one and didn't speak French. People say,

Oh, but they created their masterpiece there. Yeah, but

they also created the mediocre work that followed. Moving

to France didn't cause them to create a string of brilliant

albums. "Exile" was it -- until "Some Girls," way up the


And a lot of "Exile" was written in Britain, recorded in France

and overdubbed in Los Angeles, where they eventually ended up

anyway. And it was marinated in heroin, which probably added

nothing to the flavor (in fact, it might have been a better

three-record set if Keith hadn't been shooting up,

which essentially made him medically disabled during some of

the sessions).

Hey, Keith wrote "Satisfaction" when beer was probably his

strongest drug.

-- I have fleeting contrarian moments when I think The Stones is

Charlie's band. You can think of it that way to amuse

yourself. Because Watts is so damned brilliant, almost

supernatural. Yet it'll surprise fans to find he didn't

play the drums on several key Stones songs ("Happy," "You

Can't Always Get What You Want," for starters).

-- "Happy" is a Keith solo demo cut quickly w/out the

Stones at Nellcôte. "You Can't Always Get What You

Want" is a Jagger folk song gussied up (over-gussied

up, if you ask me) by the band. "Sticky Fingers" is a

Mickish album; "Exile" is a Keithish one.

-- Brian Jones actually plays on "Midnight Rambler" and

"You Got the Silver" -- very, very late in the game for

him. Which means Jones was on the last Sixties recordings

of the Stones -- except for "Brown Sugar," recorded in

the last month of the 1960s, but not released till '71.

(Can you imagine sitting on something that hot for over

a year?)

-- Keith really does resemble his Aunt Jo Anna

* * * *

I was also reading Shakespeare's "Pericles, Prince of Tyre"

last night. Not his best work. Richards's book

is better! (Though at one point I almost confused the

two, thinking Richards was about to answer the riddle

of the King of Antiochus!)

Having read all the Bard's great works several times,

I thought I'd start on some of the lesser stuff I'd never

touched (e.g., "Pericles," "King John," etc.).

It got me to thinking: the French get to read

Shakespeare translated into modern-day French. I mean,

King Lear is not translated into the French spoken 400 years

ago. And the Russians don't read a version of "Hamlet"

translated into Russian colloquialisms of 400 years ago;

they read "Hamlet" translated into 21st century Russian

(or something quite like it).

Don't get me wrong, "King Lear" is great as it is.

And I even wrote a song ("This Skull") that uses

lines from "Hamlet." But has anybody published a

version of "King Lear" that has been sensitively

translated into the English language that we

speak today in America?

Let's be real: there is no pure Shakespeare. The

Shakespeare we read is not the exact material the

Bard actually penned. At a California library, I

recently examined one of the first folio editions

of Shakespeare's collected works, compiled seven

years after his death by friends and colleagues.

The page was turned to the intro to "Henry V"

(if memory serves) and it wasn't decipherable

without a guide or translation. It might as

well have been in a dead language. (Have you

seen the first edition of 1623? I have. Check

it out.)

So Shakespeare's language has already been adjusted

and modified over the centuries to make it understandable

to today's readers.

Imagine what David Rabe could do with the oeuvre (though

I bet he'd recoil at the idea). Or -- blasphemy! -- David Mamet.

* * * *

Heard a great song the other day on KALX. Don't know

its name but the chorus is "Some day I'll forget."

Female vocalist, country song...Also heard a great

new Japanese band, The Fabulous Heartshakes,

on Marshall Stax's show on KALX. Blondie-esue. (I

think the group is San Diego-based now.)

* * * *

"I was planning to convert to Islam, but then I thought:
Hey, what has Muhammad prophesized for me lately?"

[cartoon by Paul Iorio]

But I digress. Paul



for March 17, 2011

For those of you outside California,

here's the news that was not much

reported nationwide: people in

California lost their homes when

the Japanese tsunami hit the

West Coast a few days ago.

Yes, houseboats were lost in the Monterey and Santa Cruz area

and elsewhere. And dozens of other boats -- some folks had

everything invested in them -- were also destroyed or damaged

by the waves that hit the coast from around 6,000 miles away.

(Though this loss pales in contrast to the deep (and deepening)

tragedy in Japan, it ain't nothing. Just ask the guys in

Monterey who now have nowhere to live.)

Yet not one high-profile expert or government official, prior to

the west coast tsunami that everyone knew was on its way, warned

Californians to park their boats in a protected waterway, to sail

their boats to San Pablo Bay or to the Carquinez Strait and

anchor them off Martinez until the tsunami subsided.

Had boat-owners been alerted along the coast, they

would surely have sailed away from the tsunami in the hours

before it hit.

A couple days after the waves hit, we started hearing from a

new set of experts. This time, they were saying, "No, radiation

from Fukushima couldn't possibly travel across the Pacific

to the U.S., no way; it would dissipate before it ever got here."

Now we're hearing a revision of that: the authorities are currently

saying, "Measurable levels of radiation from Fukushima will start

falling on California tomorrow [Friday] afternoon, but -- not to worry -- the

radiation won't harm anyone."

Well, there are a whole lot of intelligent people out here -- and not the

"black helicopter" crowd, either -- who are very skeptical of what

they're hearing from "experts" and "government authorities" these days.

There is a sense among smart well-informed people in the Golden State

that the experts in many fields have, plainly, been wrong too many

times to have much credibility. It's not that they're lying; it's that they

can't possibly know the full effects of unprecedented calamities -- and

they won't admit they may be wrong.

Let's see. Experts grossly underestimated the extent of the

BP oil spill. Experts couldn't see what Katrina was going to

do before it did it. Many foreign policy experts didn't see the

Egyptian revolution coming, even after Tunis fell. Economic

experts didn't see the fall of the U.S. economy in '08 until

it was well underway. And -- add to that -- experts didn't

anticipate the damage from the California tsunami of '11.

I mean, when have experts been right about a major event lately? There

seems to be an expert-ocracy out there by which one authority

backs his colleague's view so they can both keep their

highly-paid jobs. (Then again, who are you going to rely on:

non-experts? I guess the answer is to be guided by the expertise

of people who are right more often than most.)

Still, it's getting more difficult to believe the experts who say we

have nothing to fear from the radiation that is about to fall

in California.

But I digress. Paul

[updated at 5:30 p.m.]


for the Ides of March 2011

I decided to watch all the late-night network TV shows

last night to see them with fresh eyes, and here are my


David Letterman, who I usually watch, is clearly the

funniest of them all, the most imaginative. Leno is

a crowd pleaser who promises laughs and never fails

to deliver. Craig Ferguson is innovative, daring,

resourceful -- and quite funny. Jimmy Fallon makes me

appreciate Letterman and Leno and Ferguson. And Jimmy Kimmel

always makes me on earth did such a guy

manage to attract a gorgeous brilliant woman like

Sarah Silverman? (It's like that "Seinfeld"

episode: "You dated Newman!?")

But I digress. Paul



for March 14, 2011

Will Diablo Canyon Be Our Fukushima?

In the wake of the Japanese meltdowns -- and I bet full

meltdowns in around three plants will happen later this

week -- there will inevitably be renewed cries for

nuclear facility shutdowns in the U.S.

And the activists seem to have an undeniable point when it

comes to at least one U.S. facility: the Diablo Canyon

nuclear plant, near San Luis Obispo, Calif. That one's

located a few dozen miles from the mighty San Andreas

fault and is only built to withstand an M7.5 quake.

Which means an 8.0 could conceivably turn it into a Fukushima,

while an 8.5 almost certainly would. Nearby San Luis Obispo

has a quarter of a million people.

A rarely-spoken truth: no structure anywhere can be reliably

protected against a 9.0.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Bravo to NBC's Al Roker for talking this morning

about the possible spread of radiation via the jet stream,

a real possibility if conditions deteriorate

at Fukushima.

The conventional wisdom right now is that the current amount of

cesium in the air would dissipate thousands of miles before reaching

the U.S. west coast, if it ever took a ride on the jet stream.

But the uranium released by one complete meltdown would be

equivalent to an atomic bomb blast of significant megatonnage.

And that sort of radioactivity would not easily disperse and

would travel far. (And that one total meltdown would

probably lead to full meltdowns at around two other

plants -- the plants at Fukushima so close to the first

one that they would be impossible to manage or cool after

the first China syndrome.)

* * * *

P.S. -- Don't you just hate it when PTAish types

say stuff like, "Junior should be reading more books and

doing less surfing on the Internet."

Reading more books of what kind? Harlequin romance novels?

Helen Reddy's tell-all memoir? I'd rather my kid (if I

had a kid) not read at all than read that crap.

There is, of course, as much greatness on the Internet as

there is in any library in the world. And to prove my

point: here are the collected works of William Shakespeare,

available (below) with a single click. (The online "King

Lear," by the way, includes the very same words that are

in the book version.)

So feast on The Bard. (Though you might want to

avoid his comedies.)



for March 13, 2011

An Ominous Sign: Cesium in the Air Outside Fukushima

Is an Airborne Radioactive Tsunami On Its Way to the U.S.?

The governments of the U.S. and Japan do not want you to panic.

They don't want to create mass-anxiety unless they absolutely

have to. Because -- who knows? -- maybe the multiple meltdowns

in Japan won't create a substantial radiation cloud. There might

be no need to sound any alarm, after all.

But when the nuclear experts start sweating, it's sort of like seeing

the veteran pilot of a jetliner cross himself during turbulence.

And some are sweating right now. What the experts are saying -- in

low, calm tones -- is that there is wayy too much radioactive

cesium in the air outside the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

And what that implies is deeply unsettling. Because if the plant's

multiple containment structures were working properly, there would

be no cesium in the air at all. The fact that there are measurable

levels of the isotope (a product of uranium) means radioactive

material is leaking outside the facility. To put it in lay terms,

cesium is part of what is called "nuclear fallout" when a nuke

explodes. (The BBC and TNY have done the best reporting on

this so far.)

Obviously, this isn't just Japan's problem. If a radioactive cloud

were to drift east, the west coast of the U.S. -- possibly even

the San Francisco area -- could be hit with a sort of airborne

radioactive tsunami. Given the severity of the damage to Japan's

nuclear plants and the failure of their redundant safety

systems, I would not be surprised if we have cases of

radiation poisoning in the SF Bay Area in coming weeks.

If I were President Obama, I'd direct Kathleen Sebelius to

prepare west coast hospitals for the possibility of mass cases

of radiation sickness.

But I digress. Paul



for March 12 - 13, 2011

What We Should Do in Libya (in Specific Detail)

Let's Arm the Libyan National Council

If you hit a grizzly with a stick, and fail to

knock the bear out, you'd better be prepared to

either kill the bear outright or be killed yourself.

And that's where the West is right now with regard to

Gadaffi. We've smacked him, failed to put him down -- and

when all this revolutionary commotion is over, he's

gonna be pissed-off enough to try to eat us alive.

Those who want the U.S. to do nothing in Libya are

unwittingly advocating radical action. They are,

effectively, saying: Let's keep Gadaffi in power so

that he can wreak vengeance on both his domestic and

international opponents later.

Those who want to impose a no-flight zone over Libya are,

in so many words, backing a brand new war in an Islamic

country -- our third current war. That would, of course,

make Ahmadinejad very happy, because he knows he'd then

be able to expand his nuclear program, slaughter dissidents

and threaten Israel with impunity, because the U.S., so

distracted, would never consider opening a fourth


An American attack on Libya would also brand the

revolutionary struggle as a U.S. venture. And we

don't want to do that (because that would give

credence to the Islamists who always think the United

States is fueling uprisings everywhere in order to scoop

up oil).

The wise, just and humanitarian course would be to arm the

Libyan rebels so they'd have a fighting chance against

Gadaffi's vicious mercenaries.

We could bring arms in through the eastern border or through

Benghazi, the seat of rebel power. (I advocated this in my

Digression of March 2nd, below.)

Who do we arm? The Libyan National Council, in Benghazi.

And who specifically do we deal with? Mahmoud Jibril and

Ali Al-Esawi, co-leaders of the main revolutionary group.

(They even have a spokeswoman, Iman Bugaighis -- and

the fact that their rep is a woman tells you everything

you need to know about their apparent Islamic progressivism.)

The main precedent for such an action is a rather glowing

one: the U.S. military strategy in October 2001 to

support the Northern Alliance in its fight against the

Taliban in Afghanistan. The idea was to piggyback on

the enemy of our enemy, and it worked fabulously.

(I know, W. would later, inexplicably, abandon his focus on

Afghanistan to traipse around Baghdad, for reasons known

only to himself. But remember: the first Afghanistan war

was succeeding while the Northern Alliance strategy was

in place.)

President Sarkozy of France is ahead of the curve on this one.

He has to be; this is his region. Libya is not just an African

nation; it is a Mediterranean country.

You know, I've seen Libya only once in my life so far. When

I was a teenager, I was on a chartered flight from Heraklion,

Crete -- it was Halloween '76 at 8:25 a.m. -- and the pilot

decided to give everyone a thrill and circle the plane far

to the south and west. From my window, in the distance, I saw

the whitest coastline I've ever seen in my life. Maybe the

angle of the sun had something to do with it, but the

coast was all blanched out and bleached.

"What is that?," I asked someone.

"That's Libya," he said.

And from then on, I've understood on a visceral level how close

Libya is to western Europe -- and how Mediterranean it is.

That's why Sarkozy is acting faster than others. And we

should follow his lead.

[I posted the above column at 5 p.m. on March 12;
and I'm hearing echoes of it on the Sunday TV chat
shows of March 13.]

[added extra info about the Crete flight,

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Latest chart news: my song "Zip Code of the Moon"

just moved up to #23 on the Soundclick alternative chart

(as of 3/13/11). Glad people like the track.



March 11, 2011

Here's a song I wrote and recorded last month, dedicated

especially to all who have gorged themselves on 3-D and

are now suffering from the dreaded, incurable..."3D-OD."

Just click here to hear "3D-OD":

* * * *

And here's the fifth and final track of

my new "Zip Code of the Moon" EP, "BLAME

IT ON THE REGGAE," a sort of send-up of

reggae fanaticism:

* * * *

I've just posted the entire online edition of my new e.p. "ZIP

CODE OF THE MOON," complete with MP3s, lyrics, etc. -- and

here it is:

But I digress. Paul



for March 10, 2011

No doubt about it, some people are really connecting

with my latest song "Zip Code of the Moon." It just

jumped 25 points to #38 on the Soundclick alternative


Hey, I enjoy it, too. Inspired by shopping around for

one of those "Al Gore lightbulbs." Listen here:



for March 9, 2011

Back in January, I was fixing dinner when a song

idea and melody came to me: "Hey, Mr. DJ/Won't you

play my song?" Last month, I fleshed out my idea.

And now I'm posting the finished track online for all to

hear. Just click here to listen to "HEY, MR. DJ":



for March 8, 2011

exclusive film preview

Greg Mottola's "Paul," the Best Movie of 2011 (So Far)

But Will It Spark Protests by Fundamentalists?

Paul, the first celluloid extraterrestrial ever to drive an RV!

When it's released in the U.S. on March 18th, Greg Mottola's

new movie "Paul" has an excellent chance of taking the number one

spot at the box office. When it was released in the U.K. last month,

it went to the top of the charts in its first week, with an

unusually high per-screen average gross.

But will it also spark protests by religious fundamentalists?

After all, the title character of "Paul," a very irreverent

extraterrestrial, is something of an atheist.

Paul calls intelligent design "horseshit." He says his own

existence disproves "traditional notions of the Abrahamic

Judeo-Christian god as well as one-world theology."

And he's known to say, "Evolution, baby!"

Meanwhile, the film pokes sharp fun at creationists and

Christian fundamentalists. In one scene, at the Pearly Gates

RV camp, Kristen Wiig plays an anti-evolution fanatic named

Ruth Buggs, who is wearing a humorous t-shirt that shows

Jesus Christ shooting Charles Darwin above a caption

that reads, "Evolve This!"

"Why would Jesus want to shoot Charles Darwin?," asks Graeme

(Simon Pegg), a comic book aficionado who is harboring Paul,

a fugitive on the run from the government.

"Because of his blasphemous theories. Are you in with God?,"

asks Ruth (Kristen Wiig).

"Science. We believe in the establishment of a biological order

through the maelstrom of physical and chemical chaos." says

Clive (Nick Frost), a friend of Graeme's.

"The world is 4,000 years old and can only be the product of

intelligent design," says Ruth.

"That's horseshit!," says Paul, hidden from view in a bathroom.

(He's voiced by Seth Rogen.)

"All right, then, please explain how something as complex as

the human eye simply just comes into being," says Ruth.

"It doesn't just come into being. It' a combination of billions of

years of development," says Paul.

"What are you talking about?!," says Ruth.

"Evolution, baby!," says Paul.

"Ohhh, blasphemy!," says Ruth. "God made heaven and earth and created

us all in his own image."

"In his own image!? Well, I've got a question. How do you explain

me!," says Paul, who emerges suddenly from the bathroom, causing

Ruth to faint.

Paul is a very new sort of cinematic extraterrestrial.

Around four feet tall and looking very otherworldly, Paul

is also superbright, boorish, sometimes sweet, sometimes

snotty -- and he's known to scratch his balls and fart.

Oh, and he also helped to create "The X-Files" and advised

Steven Spielberg on "E.T." in the 1980s (Spielberg even

makes a vocal cameo here).

And Paul's on the lam from the federal authorities, who

want to kill him.

Paul also manages to convert Ruth to secularism (she soon

re-names herself Charlene Darwin). At one point, her violent

dad comes after her, shouting at a character played by

"Saturday Night Live"'s Bill Hader, "I'm on a mission from God."

Hader's character shoots him, saying: "Tell Him you failed."

There's no telling, of course, whether religious groups will

voice objections to the film, as they did to such pictures as

Bill Maher's "Religulous" and Kevin Smith's "Dogma."

Requests for comment from several conservative

religious groups went unanswered.

But one thing's for sure, in my opinion: "Paul" is easily

the best movie released so far in 2011 -- and the funniest

film about an extraterrestrial ever.

But I digress. Paul



for March 7, 2011

OK, folks, some of you already heard my brand new

song "ZIP CODE OF THE MOON" on KALX last week. Now

I'm posting it online. Just click here:



for March 5, 2011

Here's a sneak preview of my new album "ZIP CODE OF THE MOON."

Just click the link to hear the lede track, "(STOP THE) BEER HALL PUTSCH":

Enjoy! (Click and it plays automatically.)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- I'll be posting MP3s of the next four album tracks


P.S. -- Amazing. I just posted "(Stop the) Beer Hall Putsch" online

a few hours ago and it's already #75 on the Soundclick alternative

charts. Glad it's connecting with some people out there!

* Oops, I mislabeled this particular blog entry
"February 5, 2011"; it was actually posted
on March 5, 2011.



for March 4, 2011

Stand-Off in Berkeley, Calif.

Tense confrontation in front of Wheeler Hall,
around 7pm. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Activists protesting tuition increases at the

University of California at Berkeley chained

themselves to the rooftop of Wheeler Hall

yesterday. A tense confrontation with police

followed. Here's how the protest looked in the 7 o'clock

hour last night. (The confrontation was resolved

a couple hours later,)

Activists on the steps of Wheeler.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

But I digress. Paul



for March 2, 2011

The short math on Libya (from somebody who has

regularly been right before the experts have

been right):

A no-fly zone over Libya would not work because we

wouldn't be able to enforce it. And that would

make us (and our collaborators) look toothless.

Better strategy: funnel arms through the eastern

border to the rebels, who'd then have a fighting

chance against Gadaffi's' ruthless mercenaries.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Someone has objected to my Digression of

February 14th in which I wrote:

My advice is: try to replace Ahmadinejad with
Mousavi peacefully. But if that fails, and the military
begins killing protesters, then the revolutionaries should
use more drastic tactics, perhaps even emulating the resistance
fighters of '43 in Warsaw, who found that rooftop snipers
were particularly effective against the SS.

To those who object to my remarks, let me ask you

one question: Do you honestly think that the resistance

fighters in the Warsaw ghetto in '43 should not have used

snipers against the SS?

(Perhaps you think civil disobedience would've worked

against the Gestapo.)



for March 1, 2011

Many thanks to Marshall Stax and KALX for playing

my latest songs "Zip Code of the Moon" and "Hey, Mr. D.J."

last night on The Next Big Thing!

I'll be posting the MP3s of those two and the rest

of my new "Zip Code of the Moon" e.p. soon.

* * * *

How Free is a Military State? My First-Hand Impressions

One night, while visiting Istanbul alone as a teenager

many years ago, I decided to take a city bus at random and

ride it to the end of the line, where ever it ended up.

And so I did. At first, the bus traveled through the

city but then made a sharp turn into the hills above

Istanbul, roaring through the rolling suburbs higher

and higher until I was far away from any place

I recognized.

New passengers boarded, affluent suburban people

with their kids and families -- the Istanbul upper

middle class, they looked like.

At one point the bus passed by some sports stadium, all

lit up and filled with cheering people watching a game of

some sort. (I felt like I was in some sort of parallel

universe, where an entirely different world from my own

American existence was fully in motion -- without me

knowing anything about it.)

This wasn't the wooden poor section of, say,

the Sultanahmet neighborhood, where (days earlier)

some fundamentalist had chased me down

the street with a stick merely because I'd taken

a photo in which veiled women were in the frame.

This was truly secular Turkey, the vision of Ataturk

come to life. (And, by the way, you couldn't walk into

a shop in Istanbul back then without seeing a picture

of Ataturk on the wall, though I always wondered

whether his ubiquity was due to propaganda or affection

(or both). Probably both.)

I visited Turkey between military coups. My trip, in

'76, happened five-years after one coup and four years

before the next.

A lot of people are now saying that Turkey might serve as

a model for the nations having revolutions these days,

particularly Egypt. And the model is: a secular Islamic

state in which the military intermittently runs things

and then hands off power to a democratically-elected

civilian leader.

So how free, on an everyday basis, is such a state?

I guess it depends what you're used to. If you grew up in

communist Bulgaria, Turkey is a breath of fresh incense!

If you grew up in the U.S., as I did, Istanbul could

feel repressive at times.

Like the time I went to an underground bazaar and bought

some music from a Turkish hippie selling cassette

audiotapes. I asked him what Turkish rocker he liked

most. He didn't hesitate.

"Cem Karaca," he said furtively, looking cautiously around

him, as if the very mention of his name could land him

in prison. He then sold me Karaca's latest, "Nem Kaldi," his

third album, which I grew to enjoy and proceeded to listen to

for decades.

The seller had every reason to be nervous; Karaca's music

was banned by the Turkish government, which thought he

was trying to ignite a left-wing revolution with his

songs. Within years, the Anatolian rocker -- now buried

in Uskudar, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus -- was

living in exile in Germany, threatened with prison by the

government in Ankara.

In other words, Turkey after-the-coup was not very

tolerant of free speech, dissenters, artistic pioneers,

anyone who differed with the party line of generals.

The military was also messing with academics and

writers and anyone else it felt could pose a threat to its


My own first-hand dealings with that music-seller

in Istanbul told me much about the lack of freedom

under military rule. Let's hope the Egyptian generals

emulate the progressive parts of the Turkish model and

leave out the oppression.

* * * *

If you think Gaddafi is daffy, and he is, check

out the latest pronouncements by the head honcho of

Iran's Olympic Committee, Bahram Afsharzadeh. (Iran

has an Olympic Committee? Do they expect to take

the gold and silver in the torture competition?)

Anyhoo, Bahram, speaking for the government, objects

to the logo of the 2012 London Olympics, because

he thinks it secretly spells "Zion." Here's a story

about it in the L.A. Times (logo included):

I mean, you'd have to be hallucinating to think that

logo spells zion.

Then again, maybe Bahram should look at something I

just discovered: if you combine the names of

the top two offcials in the Iranian government and

highlight certain letters, the word "zion" is spelled.

See for yourself! Here are the names of President

Mohammad Reza Rahimi and Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-Khamenei.

Together, they spell Zion.

It may be a conspiracy, Bahram. Your own government may

have been infiltrated by Zionists!

Mohammad Reza Rahimi...Ali Hoseini-Khamenei

But I digress. Paul



for February 28, 2011

Oscar Gets Fucked!

Well, the headline of this year's Academy Awards ceremony

is that, for the first time, an Oscar winner used the

word "fuck" in her acceptance speech.

Which was followed by two subsequent winners -- David

Seidler and Christian Bale -- also referring in their

speeches, albeit more discreetly, to the "f-word."

And this happened in a ceremony that honored a

movie -- "The King's Speech" -- that used the

word "fuck" more times than any other best picture

winner in Academy history.

I initially thought Melissa Leo was something like the

new Edie Falco. Now I think she might be the female

Michael Richards, for better and for worse.

Other Oscar observations:

0 Why was this night so thoroughly scrubbed, almost

Soviet-style, of any mention of or reference to Roman

Polanski's brilliant "The Ghost Writer"? Even during

the tribute to Eli Wallach, who appeared in the

Polanski film, there were no clips of "Ghost Writer."

I mean, can Academy voters honestly say with a

straight face that Polanski's film didn't deserve one

of the ten -- ten! -- nominations for best picture?

How come the film was so well-reviewed when it

was released but now nobody in America talks about

it? I thought the Academy had a policy of separating

the singer from the song. (Wasn't that the point

of the Elia Kazan tribute all those years ago?) Tsk,

tsk, you guys shouldn't be blacklisting geniuses

whose personal lives have been messy. If history has

taught us anything...

And the U.S. media also shouldn't be erasing, Soviet-style

and through pack journalism, all references to "Ghost Writer,"

a movie that critics had praised highly until the director's

personal life became scandalous (again).

0 Those with the best speeches and one-liners include

Randy Newman ("I want to be great television so badly");

David Seidler ("My father always said I'd be a late bloomer");

Colin Firth ("I have a feeling my career has just peaked");

and the Short Film winner ("I should have gotten a haircut").

Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey made the word "sound"

sound new (and Johansson never looked more attractive).

Also, nobody thanked god (thank god!). (What a relief to not

hear that theist crap!) Meanwhile, cinematographer Wally

Pfister showed how tough it is to give a good Oscar speech;

he almost yelled at the crowd for applauding ("You're using

up my time!").

0 James Franco should have been nominated for "Howl,"

in which he played Allen Ginsberg so convincingly, instead

of for "127 Hours."

0 Annette Bening is always such a winning presence.

0 I first saw Oprah Winfrey in person in 1986, when she

was just starting to go national. What electricity she had

then. But I must say that on the Kodak stage last night,

she looked like such old news. Like the symbol of a bygone

era. Time to say good night, Winchell (I mean, Winfrey).

0 Why does the Academy put the results of the Oscar voting

in the hands of accountants? Accountants? Weren't they

mostly discredited after the financial collapse of '08?

But I digress. Paul



for February 27 2011

An SXSW love story.

So when do we get to see Aaron James Sorensen's new flick

"Campus Radio"? It's an ultra-indie film released a

couple weeks ago -- in one U.S. theater! I've heard

good things about it and enjoyed the trailer. And I'm

wondering if it'll be this year's "Passenger Side."

(Matt Bissonnette's "Passenger Side," another ultra-indie

movie with an alt musical sensibility, is well worth seeing,

by the way.)

But I digress. Paul



for February 26, 2011

Is CAIR a Hate Group?

Perhaps CAIR needs a new logo.
[graphic by Paul Iorio]

In the wake of Khalid Aldawsari's plot to attack Americans,

Mohamed Mohamud's plan to massacre people at a Christmas

lighting ceremony in Oregon, Najibullah Zazi's scheme

to blow up the Grand Central Station subway station, the

inept Times Square bomber's scheme to explode a car in

midtown NYC, and Nidal Hasan's murderous hate crime at

Ft. Hood, not to mention numerous other religulous plots

in recent days, months and years, CAIR still sees no

need for investigators to check out U.S. mosques where

jihad is being preached.

Let's face it: CAIR has been so astoundingly wrong for

so many years that sometimes it almost resembles a hate group.

It's been on the wrong side of both history and morality

since its founding.

Above, I suggest a new logo.

* * * * *
* * * * *

Out here in the San Francisco Bay Area, there was

supposed to be a rare snow storm this morning.

Didn't happen. The freezing air and the precip didn't quite

sync up. The rain came first -- and then the cold.

Rather than simultaneously. Hence, no real snow.

Or not much.

And in the East Bay, fifteen miles from San Fran,

I didn't see any snow at all this afternoon when I hiked

in hills that were around 1,700-feet high.

Instead of snow, there were a freezing deep blue sky

and sharply white cumulus clouds.

Here're some photos I shot this afternoon:

The sky above the East Bay hills.

* * * *

The hills were alive with...cumulus clouds!

* * * *

The Price of Revolution

Sign of the times: gas is already above four
bucks a gallon in the Bay Area.

But I digress. Paul



for February 25, 2011

Hey, President Tantawi: When Are the Egyptian Elections?

Have the Islamists Already Won?

Scary news. The guy appointed by Egyptian president Tantawi to

lead the drafting of a new constitution is a top playah in the Muslim

Brotherhood splinter-group Al-Wasat. And Al-Wasat

is -- surprise! -- planning to run a candidate in the

presidential election, now scheduled for...uh, well, uh...

Whenever the election is, if the election ever is, rest

assured (or unrest assured) the election rules are

being written by someone who wants to give every

advantage to his party's religulous candidate.

To be sure, Al-Wasat is more moderate than the actual

Muslim Brotherhood, but not by much.

In many ways, the election has already been held (with

the appointment of Tarek al-Bishry to write the

constitution) and the Islamists have already won to

some degree.

But there's still hope (let's hope!) that more progressive

candidates might triumph.

Here's what a presidential ballot might look like:

Cairo, the Arab Republic of Egypt

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
(choose one)

0 Wael Abbas

0 Aboul Ella al-Madi

0 Mohammed Badie
(Muslim Brotherhood)

0 Mohamed ElBaradei

0 Wael Ghonim
(activist, Internet entrepreneur)

0 Omar Suleiman
(National Democratic Party)

0 Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
(acting president)

The powers-that-be in Cairo should insist that the presidential

winner win a majority, not a plurality. With the Muslim

Brotherhood so well-organized but not representing

anything but a small faction, Egypt cannot risk an election

where an extremist plurality-winner in a, say, seven-person

field takes control. Or else it risks another revolution.

And perhaps the age requirement should be dropped to 30

so that some of the youthful leaders of the

revolution can run.

Also, there's no need to ban Mubarak's much-hated National

Democratic Party; nobody's going to vote for the NDP anyway.

(Omar Suleiman, in his brief vice-presidency, seemed more like

a headwaiter-turned-co-owner of the finest restaurant in Cairo

than a candidate who could win a nationwide election.)

Me, I'd vote for Wael Ghonim.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- For those attending Elvis Costello's revival of

his Spinning Wheel tour (dubbed the Revolver tour) this

spring, here's the cover of the Playbill for Costello's original

spinning songbook gig on Broadway in '86. I attended

as a reviewer for Cash Box magazine, enjoyed it immensely

(and will try to find the review I wrote!).



for February 24, 2011

So You're Impressed by the Prank on Wisconsin's Governor?

That Ain't Nuthin'!

I once hoaxed a dozen governors as an undercover reporter.

And here's the story I wrote about it -- unpublished
for almost
two decades.

Everybody's talking about the prank phone call to Wisconsin Gov. Walker

and how it's such a scandal that leading Democrats couldn't get the

governor on the phone but a guy posing as a billionaire could do

so with ease.

Well, that ain't nuthin', honey. When I was working for the late

great Spy magazine in '93, I created an undercover prank for a

feature story in which I got over one-fifth of all the governors

in the United States on the phone -- after I told them I was a

casting director looking to cast them in "my new movie."

Yes, I had absolutely no trouble getting through to and personally

talking to 12 governors (on audiotape). And I can attest that all

of 'em were quite ready for their close-ups.

The point of the piece was to show that public officials

who make themselves unavailable to the public will immediately

rush to the phone if a "casting agent" is on the other line.

(I should also note that I did such stories only when I was

writing for Spy magazine; I don't do such undercover journalism

now and haven't for years.)

How was I able to be so successful at this? Easy. I understood

a key psychological secret about human nature: everybody wants

to be a movie star! (It's often been said that every

politician, from the local yokel to the national level, looks

in the mirror and sees...the next president of the United

States. Well, let me revise that. Every politician looks in

the mirror and sees...the next co-star of a Brad Pitt blockbuster!)

Though Spy had run previous features written by me (and would

go on to publish my work in subsequent years), the magazine, alas,

did not run the governors hoax.

But thanks to the Internet age, I can now present the piece here for the

first time -- around 18 years after I wrote it. Enjoy!

[page one -- click it to enlarge it]

[page two -- click to enlarge]

[page three -- click to enlarge]

[page four -- click to enlarge]

[page five -- click to enlarge]

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- OK, I've already posted my Oscar predictions

(see my Feb. 22nd Digression, below).

But who do I think should win in the major categories?

Here's who I'd vote for:

BEST PICTURE: "The Ghost Writer"

BEST DIRECTOR: Roman Polanski ("The Ghost Writer")

BEST ACTOR: Colin Firth

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: tie: Geoffrey Rush ("The King's Speech")
and Sean Penn ("Fair Game")

BEST ACTRESS: Olivia Williams


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Anton Corbijn ("The American")

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Roman Polanski and Robert Harris
("The Ghost Writer")

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: tie: David Seidler ("The King's Speech")
and Woody Allen ("You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger")

* * *

P.S. -- I'm reading this book that says you can get 3-minute abs by

exercising every day -- or 1-minute abs if you use the microwave. (But

seriously folks...)

* * *

P.S. -- The latest religious right-winger to have his

violent plot stopped by the authorities is Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari,

a Saudi Arabian studying in Texas. He's now in a Texas prison,

where I'm sure he'll soon be spilling the beans about

all his jihadist pals back in the old country. I bet he's

already talking.



for February 23, 2011

Someone said to me the other day, "Hey, Paul, I hear

you don't give interviews to the press or talk to

media people."

And I said, "Come again?!! Where did you get that wrong

piece of misinformation?"

For the record:

As a member of the press, I've given plenty

of interviews to my colleagues over the decades

(dating all the way back to '86) and my remarks

have even ended up in print! I'm always

open to any question from a colleague.

I have no agent, no manager, no publicist. And nobody

speaks for me but me. I can be reached at



for February 23, 2011

OK, folks, I just came up with a new album that

I'll be releasing soon. Title is "ZIP CODE OF THE

MOON." Here're the graphics and lyrics:

zip code of the moon * * paul iorio

1. (stop the) Beer Hall Putsch
2. Zip Code of the Moon
3. Hey, Mr. D.J.
4. 3-D OD
5. Blame It on the Reggae

All tracks composed, performed and produced by Paul Iorio.

Recorded at Paul's Home Studio in Berkeley, Calif., in
February 2011. Copyright 2011.

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

They tell me what to draw
And, baby, that ain't all

They say that I can't drink
I think that you can't think

They've smashin' the beer hall

(Stop the) Beer hall -- putsch!
Beer hall -- putsch!

Beer hall -- putsch!
Beer hall -- putsch!

We welcome them to town
Then they push us around

We let freedom sound
They shut our paper down

They've taken the beer hall

(Stop the) Beer hall -- putsch!
Beer hall -- putsch!

Beer hall -- putsch!
Beer hall -- putsch!

Beer hall -- putsch!
Beer hall -- putsch!

Let a thousand flowers bloom
But don't give weeds room
Weeds that strangle flowers
And start takin' over gardens

(Stop the) Beer hall -- putsch!
Beer hall -- putsch!

Beer hall -- putsch!
Beer hall -- putsch!
Beer hall -- putsch!
Beer hall -- putsch!

NOTES ON "(stop the) BEER HALL PUTSCH": Sort of
like Cobain meets the Kinks. I wrote this in January '11, though
I came up with the main "beer hall" hook way back in '81 during
a jam with my brother, who's also a musician.


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

Well, I was nearly hit by one of those clean, clear, refreshing trucks
On my way to buy ground chuck and
One of those Al Gore lightbulbs
And wondering if fine wine goes to heaven when it dies

I passed a globe out on Main Street
The national borders look like fractures to me
United States radio music
I can hear it miles away even though you can find me in the
zip code of the moon

Find me in the zip code of the moon
You can find me in the zip code of the moon

I was born in hell in 1817
Died in heaven in 1853
What I did in between is between you and me
Now I've come back to earth as easy as 1-2-7-9-3

I don't know what I've been told
The streets of heaven are paved with potholes
You can fence me in if you can find me
You can find in the zip code of the moon

Find me in the zip code of the moon
You can find me in the zip code of the moon

Well, I was born on the Nevada state line
I know you think I'm probably lyin'
But I've got proof
130 proof
And I'm gonna shout it loud from every roof

I passed a globe out on Main Street
The national borders look like fractures to me
United States radio music
I can hear it miles away even though you can find me in the
zip code of the moon
Find me in the zip code of the moon
You can find me in the zip code of the moon

Find me in the zip code of the moon
Find me in the zip code of the moon

I can hear it miles away even though you can find me in the
zip code of the moon

NOTES ON "ZIP CODE OF THE MOON": Drunk countryfolk
surrealism, I think. This one was inspired weeks ago when
I saw a globe and thought that the national borders looked like


Music and lyrics by Paul
Copyright 2011

Hey, Mr. DJ
Won't you play my song?
Won't you sing along with my song?

Hey, Ms. DJ
Won't you play my song?
Won't you sing along with my song?

Grew up on FSO when there was something in the air
Listened to Scelsa when Lennon was murdered there
I cried that night, I swear
When only the radio was there

Hey, Mr. DJ
Won't you play my song?
Won't you sing along with my song?

And then came indie rock, the PIX Penthouse Partay
Meg-is-Me and NEW were my Murray the K
The Ramones came to me that way
Stuff they had the balls to play

Hey, Mr. DJ
Won't you play my song?
Won't you sing along with my song?

Today you hear the future on KALX, it sings
Morning Becomes Eclectic and The Next Big Thing
And KCRW, too

Hey, Mr. DJ
Won't you play my song?
Won't you sing along with my song?

Hey, Ms. DJ
Won't you play my song?
Won't you sing along with my song?

Won't you sing along with my song?
Won't you sing along with my song?

NOTES ON "HEY, MR. D.J.": Probably
should've been called "Hey Mr. (and Ms.) D.J." A sort
of old-timey folk thing that evolved into a bit of a
collage. Lyrics on the history of radio.


3-D OD
Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

I've OD'd on 3-D
Wanna go back to 2-D

Some films are best in 1-D
Wish others were in none-D

"The Godfather" ends no differently
I've OD'd on 3-D

I bought an IMAX 3-D DVD
But the movie's just the same to me

Those damned glasses are wrecking my eyes
A traffic fine for crossing the line
I told the cop the line was nowhere near me
Patrolman said, "Boy, you've OD'd on 3D"

"Transformers" is a lousy film
In any kind of D
The best movies are in 2-D
Even "Avatar"'s the same to me
I'm going back to my DVD
Cause I've OD'd on 3-D

I've OD'd on 3-D
I wanna go back to 2-D

Some films are best in 1-D
I wish others were in none-D

"L'Aventurra" ends no differently
I've OD'd on 3-D

NOTES ON "3-D OD": Inspired by The Normal's
"TV OD," the Flight of the Conchords (who took a different
angle on 3-D) and the Doors' "Love Me Two Times."


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2011

You can blame it on the boogie
Or blame it on the reggae
None dare call it reggae
I'm consumed by the rasta
My whole life is reggae

I met a reggae mistress
Down Montego Way
She offered absolution
In the house of primo Ganja
in the garretts and the ghettos
Amongst the rasta rapscallions

In the slums of Old Trenchtown
And in the ports of Ocho Rios
They call me reggae meister
When I'm with my reggae mistress
And I'm always with my reggae mistress

Reggae dispensation
Or reggae insurrection
Jah is my master
Ganja is my teacher
I get high and sassy
About Haile Selassie

If you go reggae waltzin'
To a reggae bandolero
I'm a ganja ranchero
A rasta barcadero
I live my life for reggae

If you say bye to reggae
You'll say goodbye to livin
If you can call that livin'
If you're livin' without reggae
You can't get no reggae action
I just can't get no reggae action

from the POV of a reggae fanatic, kind of satirizing
both that POV and the whole "Blame It On..." subgenre.

* * * *

I've finally gotten around to seeing some 2011 movies,

and here're my reviews:

Michel Gondry's "The Green Hornet"

Fairly fresh superhero film about the vigilante duo

from the 1930s, directed by the guy who brought us

that memorable "Flight of the Conchords" episode

(featuring "Too Many Dicks (On the Dancefloor)")

and several feature films ("Be Kind Rewind").

For the first hour or so, it's so fleet and light on

its feet that it almost becomes a musical. And it

doubles as a humorous send-up of tabloid newspapers.

Also, Christoph Waltz, striking in every film in which

he appears these days, is dazzling as the Hornet's evil

nemesis. But, unfortunately, the last half-hour devolves

into standard generic action-movie fare.

* * *

Ivan Reitman's "No Strings Attached"

Some of this resembles the "Seinfeld" episode in which

Elaine and Jerry decide to have a purely casual sexual

relationship, without the love thing. As we all know,

such arrangements, inevitably, in real life or

on screen, lead to one or both wanting more.

And -- surprise! -- that's what happens here, too.

The film's strength is in the acting by Natalie Portman,

who creates an engaging, smart, sexy modern character

in Emma; and Kevin Kline, really funny as Adam's

(Ashton Kutcher's) wildly inappropriate father

("Need some pointers on sex, son?," he asks, while

passing him a joint).

Better than "Black Swan."

* * * *

And I've finally seen a couple 2010 films I'd been

neglecting, and here's what I think:

Derek Cianfrance's "Blue Valentine"

At its best, this resembles both early Godard and real life.

At its worst, it's soggy, repetitive and unclear. Mostly,

it has intermittent magic: dialogue that verges on offhand

poetry, a seductive blue light (like in the "Ghost World"

comics), a terrific soundtrack, a novel erotic quality. (And

BTW, it's one of the very few films that shows abortion as

the terrifying surgical procedure that it really is.)

Great parts, but not a great film.

* * * *

George Hickenlooper's "Casino Jack"

This flick has a fatal problem with tone, which is too

bad, because it also has some good bits. It's spirited and

mostly well-acted as it exposes Bribery Row in D.C. (aka,

K Street). And Kevin Spacey's portrayal of Jack

Abramoff is often brilliant, particularly in his

priceless opening monologue and in the small details

(such as the way his "Godfather"-esque hat sort of

clashes with his yarmulke). But the film's sober

dramatizations of very serious events are too often

accompanied by jaunty, antic music that would be far

more appropriate for a very light and frivolous comedy.

But I digress. Paul



for February 22, 2011

Alright, Oscar night is Sunday, so here're my predictions:

BEST PICTURE: "The King's Speech"

BEST DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech")

BEST ACTOR: Colin Firth


BEST ACTRESS: Natalie Portman


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Wally Pfister ("Inception")

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: David Seidler ("The King's Speech")

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Aaron Sorkin ("The Social Network")

* The only major contests in doubt, in my view, are those
for Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor. In the
former, Leo and Adams might divide "The Fighter" vote,
giving the Oscar to Helena Bonham Carter (the same way
Hoffman and Voight split the "Midnight Cowboy" vote in
1970, giving John Wayne the trophy). In the latter race,
Bale is the frontrunner, though "The Fighter" has lost
altitude in recent weeks -- and Geoffrey Rush, an Oscar
fave before, might surprise everyone with a win.

But I digress. Paul



for February 21, 2011

Finally, Free Speech Comes to Tunis and Cairo.
Now Let's Bring It to the U.S, Too!

With all the talk about free speech sweeping through Islam, we

tend to forget in the West that we, too, have to liberate ourselves

from Islamic autocrats.

The Islamic autocrats who tell our newspaper editors not to publish

cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad and other deities. The

Muslim tyrants who try to stop books like "The Satanic Verses"

from being published or sold. The religious totalitarians who try to

censor movies and music that conflict with their theism.

Too many U.S. and European editors and media people take the path of least

resistance and bow to the demands of these reactionaries, rationalizing

such cowardly decisions all the way.

Truth is, hardline Islamists -- the same sorts of hardliners who are being

overthrown throughout the Arab world at this hour -- have had a chilling

effect on free speech in America. Perhaps we, too, should overthrow

them -- by refusing to engage in self-censorship every time a reactionary imam

throws a tantrum.

But I digress. Paul



for February 19, 2011

An ominous sign: Mohamed ElBaradei just showed up at the

protests at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisc.

He's offering to head a transitional government there.

Just joking, of course. But doesn't it suddenly seem as if

the whole world has suddenly turned into Berkeley, California?

(No doubt: Berkeley has been ahead of its time for decades.)

But I digress. Paul



for February 17, 2011

Revolution Fatigue

So if it's Thursday, this must be...Bahrain, right?

They ought to have some sort of a central

scheduling authority for all revolutionaries

in the region so that Algeria's revolt doesn't

conflict with, say, Libya's or the U.A.E.'s or whoever's

next on the docket. I mean, what if Gaddafi falls

on the same night King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

is deposed? TV coverage would be distractingly split

between two A-list beheadings.

Are the revolutionaries taking requests? Because I think we'd

all like to see Ahmadinejad fall.

Anyway, jokes aside, these revolutionaries are truly

a breath of fresh air and have been a long time

a-comin', even if the latest batch of protests

seems anti-climactic after Cairo.

But I bet it won't be long until Egyptians start singing

that great old song: "Meet the new boss/Same as the

old boss." 'Cause I'm not hearing anything about

election plans out there.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Someone was wondering whether I've ever written or

reported on "American Idol." Answer is no. Though I've

written about a wide variety of pop culture phenomena

over the decades, I've never covered "Idol." In fact,

I've never even once met or interviewed anyone associated

with "American Idol." With the sole exception of Paula Abdul,

who I met at some Oscar party in 2000 in L.A. By the way,

she's a much more impressive person in-person than her recent

public image would suggest. And people tend to forget she's

also really imaginative, too (she's the one who choreographed

those very witty (and deliberately awful) dance routines

in the '99 film "American Beauty").



for February 16, 2011

Awlaki's Klepto-Jihadism

The cover of the latest issue of Awlaki's Inspire.

Of all Anwar al-Awlaki's talents -- murder, inciting

mass murder, etc. -- magazine editing appears to be the least of


Even a cursory glance at the cover of his new magazine Inspire

reveals his flaws as a publishing wannabe.

First, the title of the magazine -- that's it, I think, at

the upper center -- makes it sound like one of those

freebie flyers from Seventh Day Adventists.

Second, the title is almost impossible to read unless

you're looking for it.

Third, the shock effect of having a gun pointed directly

at the reader is completely negated by the headline

that covers the gun barrel.

And the cover story itself -- "The Ruling on Dispossessing," by

Awlaki himself -- is not exactly a get or major scoop.

I mean, the article basically says jihadists should

steal from non-jihadists to finance jihad. Real complex.

Brainy stuff.

And the story makes it sound like he's runnin' short of money,

which doesn't surprise me, given he's based in very, very poor

Yemen. I'm sure he looks with envy at the better-heeled,

more evil bin Laden, who never has had to fill his

sermons with fund-raising suggestions.

But I digress. Paul



for February 15, 2011

I was about to fix supper when I heard the news

about CBS's Lara Logan being assaulted in Cairo

last Friday. Suddenly, I'm not very hungry anymore.

Nauseating turn of events. I hope she gets well soon.

My thoughts are with her.

By the way, Logan appeared on Charlie Rose on

February 7, a few days before the attack, and she

clearly seemed a bit afraid -- and she doesn't

scare easily at all -- about being warned by

the Egyptian authorities to stay away from Cairo.

It's evident from her remarks she knew she'd be

in jeopardy if she returned there to report.

Perhaps Rose will try to re-run some of that footage.



for February 14, 2011

My tracking stats are saying some people from Saudi Arabia

have been reading The Daily Digression over the last few hours.


I'm sure the Saudi people have been watching Egypt and thinking,

"We could do that, too."

And you can. Why continue to live under the oppression of

King Abdullah? You should have the right, as almost everyone

else does, to speak your mind and and live with dignity

and even see a movie and have a beer, if you want to.

But there's no free press in Saudi Arabia. The legal system is

a sick joke. Torture is a time-honored tradition. The oil

money isn't being split equitably. And even movie

theaters aren't allowed in Riyadh.

Why put up with it one day longer?

King Abdullah is very, very nervous in the wake of the Egyptian

revolt. He wouldn't be so nervous if he didn't realize how

vulernable he is.

He backed Mubarak -- let him suffer the same fate.

Abdullah should listen to a vintage Dylan song that goes:

"There's a battle outside ragin'/It'll soon shake your

windows and rattle your walls."

* * * *

The Green Revolution 2: How to Make It Happen

OK, the first Green Revolution was stopped short because

Ahmadinejad's thugs started shooting protesters, killing

(probably) hundreds, wounding who knows how many.

Today, protesters, in defiance of government orders, are

taking to the streets of Tehran again, this time in more

modest numbers. But the short math is this: if the dissidents

use the same tactics as before, they'll be quashed by the

government as before.

My advice is: try to replace Ahmadinejad with

Mousavi peacefully. But if that fails, and the military

begins killing protesters, then the revolutionaries should

use more drastic tactics, perhaps even emulating the resistance

fighters of '43 in Warsaw, who found that rooftop snipers

were particularly effective against the SS.

Problem is, Iran ain't Poland -- or Tunisia. Green

revolutionaries would have to organize heavily in the

six cities that have more than a million people (not

just Tehran, Mashhad and Isfahan, but Karaj,

Tabriz and Shiraz, too). A massive effort.

Green revolutionaries could try asymmetric tactics, too.

Like tossing IEDs into Ahmadinejad's beloved nuclear

weapons facilities? That would have the effect of

diverting some military and security forces from the

major cities, meaning dissidents could then

protest with less government interference.

But I digress. Paul



for February 14, 2011

There was a brilliant sketch on Saturday Night Live some

years back. Went something like this:

A group of people on thin ice had accidentally broken

through the surface and tumbled into icy water. They began

yelling angrily for help to another group standing around

in comfort, safe and warm, near the icy hole. The safe

and warm folks, aghast at the angry yelling ("What ragamuffins!"),

were dismissive and unhelpful.

Suddenly, the tables turned. The ice broke under the

dry people, who fell into the same hole. And within moments,

they were shouting in the same angry and desperate way as

the others.

The sketch is almost a parable about the disparity

between rich and poor in this global recession, how the rich

can become poor in a flash (and vice versa), and why revolution

is spreading worldwide right now.

People who have struck it rich with lucky investments and

multiple pensions have absolutely no problem covering

medical, housing or food bills, or financing their

retirement plans. And they have no idea how impossible

it is for the financially unlucky to do so. They generally

want to maintain the status quo and be cautious. And

they always wonder why those poor ragamuffins

are so damned pissed and disagreeable!

On the other side, those who haven't lucked out in the

marketplace are like the poor souls who fell into the

ice hole. They scream for help -- in the most extreme way,

sometimes -- and become exasperated with people and

employers who won't come to their aid.

And, understandably, they're willing to take huge risks to

get out of that ice hole, because if they don't climb out,

they'll surely die very premature deaths. So what if taking

bold risks causes their deaths? Not taking bold action, too,

will end their lives.

And that sort of sums up the current worldwide dynamic, as the

recession makes it all too clear how unfair unregulated capitalism

has become.

On a sidenote: what the hell was Mubarak doing with 70 billion

dollars at a time when most of his constituents could barely manage to

find food for one meal a day? And how does one amass 70 bil

while in office without rigging the system, or doing stuff

that's crooked or at least unethical?

In a just world, Mubarak would have simply said, "One

billion bucks will tide me over plenty; I'll split the

other 69 billion with the poor of Egypt."

But he didn't. And the people rose up and said off with his head.

(To be sure, the Egyptian revolution was fueled as much by a desire

for freedom of expression as by a quest for economic justice.)

All around the world, people are beyond sick and tired of

the disparity between rich and poor -- which is almost

always really a disparity between the lucky and the unlucky.

And those who have fallen into the ice hole are now shouting

down the governments that wouldn't help them.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Here's a law Congress should pass: "No elected

public official in the United States shall be paid more than

the average national salary for workers in the U.S."

P.S. -- Funny that all the obsessive budget-cutters

suddenly have no taste for cutting budgets when it

comes to trimming their own damned exorbitant salaries,

which the taxpayers have to pay. Every politician

from Boehner to the corrupt officials in Bell

should take the budget ax to their own paychecks and

cut it down to the average national salary. And give

the rest to the poor who help to pay their paychecks.

All (or virtually all) of the Senators in the U.S.

Congress are millionaires. They don't need their

$174,000 annual salaries. Why not give it back to the

tazpayers? With that $174,000, guys like Mitch McConnell

could give 174 underpaid waitresses a thousand bucks apiece

(which i'm sure they'd appreciate).

P.S. -- OK, OK, maybe all Senators except Al Franken

should be forced to relinquish their salaries. Anyone who comes

up with a great book title like "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot"

deserves every penny he makes! (And I've heard unconfirmed rumors

that Franken has no intention of apologizing to Limbaugh!)



for February 12, 2011

Well, folks, February 24th marks the fourth

anniversary of The Daily Digression, which -- as

you might guess -- started life on February 24, 2007.

Since then, there have been plenty of scoops and lots of

ahead-of-the-curve reporting. (Just scroll down to my

January 25, 2011, blog about the budding Egyptian

revolution ("Roll Over, Mubarak -- and Tell Gaddafi the News").

Did anybody in the media or in the blogosphere or in the

political world see the revolution coming earlier than I did?

Some columnists are just now starting to write what I

wrote back on the 25th!)

And here's what I wrote on January 19th:

"What will be the next domino to fall behind the Iron
Curtain of Islam? Algeria? Egypt?"

Anyway, as most of you know, The Digression is not an

aggregate blog, it does not publish the work or ideas of other

contributors. It features only the writing, reporting

and researching of Paul Iorio.

So keep reading it here first -- and send me your comments at!

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- I know, I told some people I was going to post a

piece about a certain upcoming municipal election. But I've

since found out that family members have ties with some of

the people I was going to write about. So I'm not running

the item, as it poses the appearance of a conflict-of-interest.



for February 11, 2011

Clearly, it's exhilarating that the protesters in

Egypt have succeeded, bloodlessly, in bringing down Mubarak.

But I'd hold the Champagne. Because the interim president is

not much of an improvement. The de facto prez of Egypt is

now the defense minister, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi,

75-years-old, apparently feeble and not known as a

reformer. Even as long ago as '06, Tantawi was described

by the CSM as "rumored to be ailing." The paper also

quoted a source saying that "his character is more

conducive to a ministerial job rather than the presidency."

If Tantawi calls for free and fair elections (would

the military want to put forward its own candidate?) within

a few months, then Egypt will almost surely see meaningful

change. But if he or someone like him continues in power,

and elections are delayed or even rigged, then there

may be more of the same.

* * * *

Watching live television coverage of the scene in Tahrir

Square was fascinating, but at one point I thought

I heard someone break to a commercial with: "This

portion of the revolution has been sponsored by Toyota."

* * * *

Someone seems to think that I make frequent references

to "Seinfeld" on my blog, but I don't think so. Rest

assured, I have no plans to write any sort of

expose about the internal politics of Del Boca Vista

any time soon.

But I digress. Paul



for February 10, 2011

U.S. Rep Lee: against the public option, for the pubic option.
[photo from Gawker]



for February 8, 2011

Breaking news: The Egyptian military

has just used live ammunition on a group of peaceful

retreating protesters in Tahrir Square, killing four

and wounding nine.

What thugs. What a savage regime.

Except I'm not describing anything that has recently

happened in Egypt. I'm describing Ohio, United States,

May 4, 1970, when the National Guard fired

on peaceful teenagers and twentysomethings on a college

campus called Kent State.

The attempted revolution in Egypt bears a striking similarity

to the U.S. uprisings, circa 1967 to 1971, and makes we

realize how close we were to revolution in the States back

when. Turns out all that hippietalk about revolution-in-the-air

wasn't just bullshit.

And if the U.S. had been the size of Tunisia, Nixon's regime

probably would have been overthrown by force in the early

Seventies. (It was toppled eventually anyway, by Woodward

and Bernstein, but that's another story.) The U.S. and Egypt

and Iran are vast nations too big to be overthrown by rioters, no

matter how widespread.

The Egyptian revolt seems to have been a hasty revolution;

it's not like there was one precipitous event that caused

everyone to say, "That's the final straw, Mubarak."

It's more like young people said, "Hey, look what they

just did in Tunis. They just went from oppression to

liberation at the speed of a Tweet. We can do that, too."

Not understanding, of course, that Tunisia is a much smaller

country and that you can overthrow the rulers of a tiny

nation much more easily than those of a behemoth like Iran,

the U.S. or Egypt. No city in Tunisia has a million

people. The entire country doesn't have as many residents

as the greater New York area. Cairo alone has

a larger population than the top fifteen Tunisian

cities combined.

Some are wondering whether the revolt in Egypt is like

the one in Iran in '79. It's not. It's starting to look

far more like Iran in '09, the failed Green Revolution.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- I'm a big admirer of CBS's Lara Logan, but

have to disagree with some of her comments on Charlie Rose

last night. She seems to think the Egyptian

military is pro-Mubarak and anti-dissident. I don't

think so. An example of a military that has truly backed its

rulers against protesters is the PRC's army of 1989,

which simply shot up the peaceful dissidents in Tiananmen

Square, killing hundreds of them. Now that was an army

solidly allied with an entrenched besieged regime.

This is not that. The military in Tahrir Square seems

decidedly neutral, as if it's hedging its bets in case

Mubarak falls, which now looks unlikely to happen before

the Fall. And which also means top generals can be

turned, the key to winning this particular revolution.



for February 7, 2011

I revised a couplet from Tom Lehrer's

very funny song "National Brotherhood Week"

this morning, renaming it "Muslim Brotherhood


Muslim brotherhood week, Muslim brotherhood week
Imam Rauf and Pastor Jones are dancing cheek to cheek



for February 5, 2011

My tracking stats say I've been getting some readership in

Egypt in the last few hours -- glad to hear that!-- so let

me address this to any brave souls who might

be reading this in or around Tahrir Square.

From where I sit, it looks like the protests have sort of stalled

into a kind of occupation of Tahrir Square, which is all well and

good, but it won't take down Mubarak.

You won't be able to depose Mubarak unless you take over

the presidential palace -- and you'd need the military's help for

that. If one of your secular opposition leaders -- ElBaradei seems

to be the best of the contenders right now -- were to convince

a top general or two in the Egyptian military that it would be in

Egypt's best interest to turn their tanks on Mubarak, then you

could oust the current regime quickly by coup d'état and install

ElBaradei as interim prez.

To me, it looks like the Egyptian military is on the fence

right now. Top commanders could probably be persuaded.

Setting up a tent city in Tahrir Square, as laudable as that is,

won't bring about revolution. Tanks aimed at the presidential palace


If you give Mubarak seven months to vacate, he'll use that time

to rain hell on the people who created such misery for him and to

wipe out key opposition leaders.

* * * *

* * * *

I just saw a couple new films -- here're my reviews:

Debra Granik's "Winter's Bone"

The title, already lampooned by Wayne 'n' Garth, makes

this seem like an Ingmar Bergman film, though it's far

from that. But it is excellent in its own way as a

tough artful slice of recession-era Americana.

(A far better title would have been "Jessup and Teardrop.")

Set convincingly on the hardscrabble side of the Ozarks,

with characters trapped in situations as scalding as

those in "Precious," this flick almost seems like

American neo-realism.

And Granik's Antonioni-esque use of talented non-professional

actors, all brilliantly fluent in American cockney, many

playing poor rural folk who sure own lotza pain killers,

contributes to the authentic texture. However, the

film might have turned out even better had Granik not

handled both the cinematography and the directing.

(Granik, by the way, comes to film making from NYU and

Brandeis, having been raised far, far from the Ozark

Mountains of her film.)

DVD extras include an alternate discarded intro -- featuring the

singing of real find Meredith Cisco, a very natural vocalist with a

Willie Nelson quality (check her out, Hardly Strictly!) -- that's

better than the one that was used.

* * * *

Doug Liman's "Fair Game"

I came to this with very low expectations, being innately wary of

authorized portraits and Manichean moral narratives. But this

pleasantly surprised me. It's a terrific flick, if not a great

one, probably one of the year's ten best.

The magic here is Sean Penn, playing ambassador Joseph

Wilson, husband of Valerie Plame (a fabulous Naomi Watts).

Penn recalls no one so much as prime late-Brando with an

animated and soulful performance that should have been

nominated for a best actor Oscar. (And getta load of how he

defines an entire persona and identity by simply gesturing

with a cigar.)

It's still in a few theaters, so catch it if you can.

But I digress. Paul


for February 4, 2011


From WikiLeaks: the Secret al Jazeera English Stylebook

A new WikiLeaks leak reveals al Jazeera English's secret
stylebook, which has been adopted by several Western
news organizations. Here are excerpts:

When reporting on jihadi terrorism, do not mention

the words "Muslim" or "Islam" or "Islamic" until the eighth

or ninth graf -- and preferably after the jump on the website

or page. Instead, emphasize personal characteristics of the

suspect (e.g., "loner," "nervous," "troubled by financial problems,"

etc.). If there is any legitimate way to de-Muslimize a crime,

please do so

* * * *

If a personal messenger delivers a videotape from

Sheikh Osama bin Laden to a news bureau,

do not try to confront or track down the courier and

do not try to trace the video's chain of custody.

* * * *

Try to emphasize positive images of Muslims in general coverage.

For example, profile a physician or cancer researcher

who is a Muslim, even if the subject has not yet done anything

remarkable in his or her field, Try to find and use pictures in

which a Muslim man wearing a turban is smiling and carrying a child

on his shoulders or playing with a cute puppy.

* * * *

Though there has never been a hate crime against a Muslim

in America resulting in death, and though the U.S. Justice

Department's statistics show there are far more hate crimes

against Jews and gays, make sure to underline, on a regular

basis, the theoretical possibility of deadly hate crimes being

committed against Muslims in America.

* * * *

Do not publish pictures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Do not

even publish verbal descriptions of pictures of Muhammad. Do not

publish drawings of any of Muhammad's wives, his holy

warriors, the angels or archangels, their relatives or close associates.

* * * *

In any critical evaluation of editorial cartoonists, please do not

include controversial artists like Kurt Westergaard or Lars Vilks

on any ten best lists of cartoonists and pop artists.

* * * *

Though he shouted "Allahu Akbar" before committing mass murder, and

though he had been in contact with jihadist terrorists prior to his crime,

do not refer to Nidal Hasan's mass murders as hate crimes against


* * * *

It's OK to use the word "Islamophobic" but not OK to use


* * * *

Try to avoid jokes about Islamic subjects. All other religious and

ethnic groups are fair game for humor to some extent, but

jokes about anything Islamic must first be cleared and approved

at the highest editorial level.

* * * *

Even when it would be more appropriate to use the

word "Islam" or "Islamic countries" (as in: "unrest broke

out throughout Islam..."), use the phrase "the Arab world"


* * * *

Please do not publish this piece under any circumstances.



for February 4, 2011

OK, enuff about Egypt for now.

I just shot a few photos and here they are.

It was deeply foggy the other morning in Berkeley, Calif.,

and here's how it looked:

[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * *

I was hiking through my Elmwood neighborhood the

other day when I saw a neighbor walking her

pet cockatoo, a rare (for these parts) Indonesian

bird with an orange neck plume and a very, very

loud caw! (And a life span of around fifty years,

she said.) Everyone gathered around as it sang

on a fence. I shot this shot of it:

[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Stopped by the Berkeley Art Museum (BAM) this afternoon

and was most impressed by an exhibit that is not

yet on display. But I saw some of it anyway, as it was

on the walls but roped off. It's called "Abstraction

Now and Then" and displays post-expressionist

paintings by Pollock, Rothko and others along with

more recent (post-'85) abstract works by other artists.

I shot this pic of one of the paintings (by an unidentified

artist) in the exhibition, which doesn't open

until February 16th:

[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Also at BAM was a collection of James Whistler's

works. Here's his "Street at Saverne" (1858):

Bur I digress. Paul



for February 3, 2011

Even the pharaohs are rolling over in their graves...

* * * *

Injured protesters in Cairo today.
[photo from today's edition of the
Egypt Daily News]

* * * *

If I were president of the U.S., I wouldn't try to dissuade

the secularist Egyptian revolutionaries from taking the

same actions that colonial militants in America like

Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry had to take during

our revolution.

We can't ask their revolutionaries to not do what our

revolutionaries did in spades, in other words.

It's funny, every aging generation has the same old song:

It was OK for our revolutionaries to get violent, but

your revolutionaries must remain calm; the war we

fought was very justified, but your war is completely


And we should send a message to the Muslim Brotherhood:

don't even think about taking power, because we will

use covert means, at the very least, to take you out if

you get in. Just as the U.S. would never let a Nazi

candidate run for president of Germany, the West cannot

allow a major government to be run by anyone allied

with the aims or leaders of al Qaeda.

ElBaradei should take a creative shortcut to power by

winning the support of the military, which now

appears to be neutral. He'd only have to convince key

generals that he's the best choice for Egypt. Then

they could stage a coup d'etat, overthrow Mubarek

and install ElBaradei as interim president. Free

and fair elections would follow in the Fall.

If you let this thing go on too far, it'll turn

into a civil war. Remember, a civil war is

what happens when a revolution is snagged by

factionalism. (I said that!)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Hey, I'm not a Maoist, but recent events

remind me how wise Mao was. Many of his aphorisms

continue to resonate and ring true. "A single spark

can start a prairie fire," he once wrote. And that

single spark in Tunis is now a prairie fire raging

through Cairo, heading toward Sana'a and moving in the

general direction of Islamabad, where things

might get exponentially more complicated than they

are now.

P.S. -- The unrest in Egypt shows vividly how

close a revolution is to a riot. I'll put it this

way: A riot is a demonstration that gets out of hand.

A revolution is widespread rioting that gets out of hand.

And a civil war is what happens when (as I said before)

factionalism sidetracks a revolution.



for January 28 - Feb. 2, 2011

To those whose mantra is jobsjobsjobs and who see the

employment rate as the ultimate metric of success in

America circa 2011, let me remind you that the most successful

job-creating international leader of the 20th century was

(arguably) Adolf Hitler.

I ran across this news item in the October 25, 1937,

issue of Time magazine:

"Unemployment has been reduced in the
four years since Adolf Hitler came to power
from just over 6,000,000 to just over 500,000."

Which proves there are far, far greater virtues

in any society than the mere reduction, even

radical reduction, of unemployment.

Or, put another way, full employment means almost nothing

if you don't also have freedom of speech, which is free

of charge, freedom from any official national religion,

freedom to dance (which Hitler outlawed in early 1940, before

allowing it with restrictions later that year), etc.

Sure, we could have full employment in America tomorrow if

we put all the unemployed in slave labor camps and paid

them two cents an hour. That would create a zero percent

unemployment rate. But I think everyone (except Hitler

and his kind) would agree that that would not be preferable

to higher joblessness.

To paraphrase Goldwater: Employment in the service of slavery

is no virtue; unemployment in defiance of exploitation is

no vice.

But I digress. Paul

* * * *

P.S. -- In very local news....Does someone out there not

like The Digression? Actually, I don't think it's

Digression-related but some jerk was irresponsible enough

this afternoon to park his car under my second floor

window, leaving the motor running for a bit. That, to

say the least, is not a healthy thing to do. Hey, Berkeley,

it takes a village to stop people from doing stuff like that.



for January 27, 2011

I saw a t-shirt the other day with the words

"Obama '08" on it. For the first time ever,

it looked like a two-word poem, the first word

being the candidate, the second the reason he

was elected. 2008 is now synonymous not with

the presidential election but with the economic collapse.

"Obama '08" is like a "FDR '29" bumper sticker, if

there were such a thing; it says everything

you need to know about why he was elected.

Of course, Obama can't count on the same

recession to propel him to a second term.

On the contrary, it now works against him.

His electoral chances depend on who the GOP

nominates. My instinct tells me the nominee

might be Huckabee -- probably Huckabee/Pawlenty.

Second place in delegates will probably be Palin, who

will likely bolt the party and stage a weak indie run,

siphoning just enough votes from Huckabee to

re-elect Obama.

Initially, the front-runner will be Romney, with

the powers-that-be in the GOP eyeing a Romney/Rice

ticket. He will be the anointed one, the choice of

the starched white collar folks who think Huckabee

lacks class. But the same problems that plagued

Romney's campaign in '08 will repeat themselves

next year. The main problem with Romney is that

he's...a dork. He doesn't play well. He failed

before and he'll fail again for the same reasons.

Primary season might open this way: Huckabee wins

the Iowa caucus. But Romney, with a home state advantage,

will rebound in New Hampshire, only to see his

hopes dashed by Huck in South Carolina (and thereafter).

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Somebody indirectly brought up an interesting

point about my music the other day. The oldest song, she

noted, of all the ones I've written and released -- meaning

the 150 or so that I've copyrighted -- dates back to

1980. The vast majority of my songs are much more recent

than that, dating back only weeks or months.

But I've been writing songs since I was a little kid

in the 1960s and a teenager in the 1970s. Why haven't

I released those? Because I think most of 'em aren't

very good, or not as good as those I've written during my

New York and California periods (1979 to today).

Still, I've recently revisited some of my 1970s material

and might release a bit of it in the future. (I particularly like

my compositions "Hey, You," "Another War," "Anthem

of America," "Hide and Seek," "Main Street, USA,"

"Sundown on Fortune Street," and "Goodbye and Say Hello").

The titles of some of my 1960s songs, when I

was a pre-teen? I don't know if I'll ever

get around to releasing that stuff! Titles

include a dirty word song ("You Bastard Son of a Bitch!"),

a campaign song ("I'm Gonna Vote for Hubert Humphrey"), and

a protest tune ("Is Our Nation really Getting Sick?").

I think that stuff will stay in the drawer.

In any event, I'm writing too much new stuff to

worry about the oldies; for every new original

song I release, there are around ten unreleased tracks

that I've written and discarded.

No, I've never written a song with anyone, by the way.

Also, I don't think I wrote a song that was really

enduring until I penned "You Know It Shows" in 1980

when I was 22 years old, and by then I'd been writing

songs for more than a dozen years. All my good

songs came after 1980, after I'd lived in New York

City for a year and had become friends with genuine

artistic geniuses who were actually making a living

in dance and music and fiction writing. And

those people influenced me to weed out any bad

artistic habits from high school that I hadn't already

jettisoned in college.



for January 26, 2011

I finally saw "The King's Speech" the other day

and here's my review:

Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech"

Hooper has taken a very unlikely subject and created

something poignant, artful, exquisite, burnished,


Plus, it uses the word "fuck" more frequently than any

other movie ever made about royalty, which is telling (there's

a slight punk overtone here).

It makes "True Grit" look like a cartoon and "The Social

Network" seem like a flick about bickering boys. And

though I prefer Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer," that

film, inexplicably, was not nominated for best pic, so this one

is clearly the best of the nominees and will almost certainly

go on to win the top Oscar.

It's sort of like this year's "Shine," another Geoffrey

Rush-associated work, a story about someone in the spotlight

overcoming, and only partially overcoming, a very quirky


There's a lot to like here, starting with the protagonist,

King George VI, played with a lot of heart by Colin Firth.

And the relationship between the king and his brother Edward is

priceless. (Edward, marvelously played in high James Mason

by Guy Pearce, richly deserves to be skewered here, as

he (in real life) actually went to Bavaria and gave

Hitler the Nazi salute. The movie doesn't bring this out, but

Edward was Hitler's preferred heir to the British throne.)

If there is a flaw here, it's that the movie trivializes

the monstrous events taking place on the continent at the

time. (It's an hour into the film before any real discussion

about Hitler takes place.) And it concerns me less that the

king has a stammer than that he seems to have nothing of

consequence to say.

Still, the best film of 2010, in a year full of strong

contenders. (And Firth should accept his Oscar for

best actor with a stammering speech at the Kodak.)

* * * * *

OK, I've also fact-checked "The King's Speech"

and have unearthed some stuff that even the

film makers probably don't know about King George VI.

Here's my report:

Fact-Checking "The King's Speech"

Was the king portrayed in "The King's Speech" also

a Nazi sympathizer?

That's what some bloggers and reporters have been implying

in recent weeks in what Hollywood insiders are calling a smear

campaign against the film.

So what are the actual facts about His Royal Highness,

a.k.a. King George VI?

The main fact about him is he was king when the Brits were

in mortal combat with Germany's Nazi regime, though he was mostly

a figurehead. Then as now, the prime minister called all the

shots (and his P.M.s were heavyweights Neville Chamberlain

and Winston Churchill).

So how did he stand up against the Nazi threat? Not entirely

admirably, it turns out.

For example, King George VI invited Herman Goering, Hitler's

number two, to his own coronation in 1937. And not every major

world leader got an invite.

And when the king sent his brother -- Edward,

the Duke of Windsor (a former king of England who

abdicated, but that's a long story) -- to meet with

German leaders in the Fall of '37, George's bro gave Adolf

the Nazi salute. (That nugget appears in the November 1, 1937,

issue of Time magazine.)

Even as late as March 1938, King George was cozying up

to the Nazis; he even invited German foreign minister

von Ribbentrop, later hanged as a war criminal, to Buckingham

Palace, where the Nazi minister gave the British king the

Nazi salute.

Of course, the film -- starring Colin Firth as the king and

directed by Tom Hooper -- focuses on the king's efforts to

overcome his speech impediment, his stammering.

And in real life, George did stammer to such an extent

that it was repeatedly noted in contemporaneous press

accounts. In a 1938 article, Time magazine noted

"a recurrence of his speech difficulty—with pauses

of as much as 15 seconds between some words."

But what is more disturbing than his stammering -- and

what has not been brought out by anyone -- is that

his speeches included material that he didn't properly

attribute or cite.

In one of his speeches of 1940, the King merely used material

verbatim from a published letter-to-the-editor that appeared in the

London Times without properly citing its source, according to my

research of the archives of Time magazine, which did not take him

to task for this at the time. (The letter-to-the-editor, by the way,

quoted a minor writer, Minnie L. Haskins. To be fair, the king's

transgression stops just short of plagiarism, as he sort of

suggests he's quoting something.)

Another characteristic that was more troubling than his stammering was

that the King's speeches were, arguably, not well-written and not really

very intelligent. In a 1938 article, The New Yorker

magazine went so far as to call King George VI a "bewildered

young man whom nobody expects to have [an opinion] and to

whom nobody would pay the slightest attention if he had."

His personal habits, beyond his stammering, were even

less attractive. The New Yorker magazine noted in 1937 that

the King had a habit of eating onions and drinking beer before

going to bed, which his wife, Elizabeth, soon persuaded him

to give up. (One can only imagine the pleasures of sleeping

with a stammering, slightly drunk guy who had just eaten

raw onions.)

The king's reign ended in 1952, when he died of coronary

thrombosis at the age of 56, after suffering from lung

cancer. (He almost died in '37, shortly after becoming

king, when a bomb exploded near him on a visit to

Ireland, according to a news story in The New York Times

from 1937.)

His daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, currently reigns over

Buckingham Palace.

But I digress. Paul



for January 25, 2011

As the Iron Curtain of Islam continues to fall...
Roll over, Mubarak -- and Tell Gaddafi the News
The Tunisian revolution spread to Egypt this
[photo from the Los Angeles Times]

Ah, revolution in Islam. Finally. The fascist autocracies

are beginning to topple, one by one. First, Tunisia.

Now, Egypt's a-quakin'. Howz about getting rid of

Gaddafi and his band of loonies in Libya next?

For now, Islamic liberals should focus on Egypt and getting

rid of Mubarak.

Hey, you can even tell Mubarak how much you've enjoyed his

dictatorship over the past few decades by writing to him at

these addresses:,

I'm sure he'll be glad to hear from you! And feel free to

call him Hosni -- I'm sure he won't mind. (Calling him

President Mubarak might work, too, though

he's looking more like a temp lately.)

And, also, here're the names of his lackeys in the Egyptian

government. Try dropping them a line, too:

Ahmed Mohamed NAZIF
Farouk Abdel Aziz HOSNI
Mohamed Hussein TANTAWI
Sameh Hassan SHOUKRY

But I digress. Paul



for January 24, 2011

OK, the announcement of the Oscar nominees is now mere

hours away, so here are the films I predict will be nominated

for best picture (for the record, I'm posting this

just before 2:30 p.m. on 1/24):

1. The King's Speech
2. The Social Network
3. True Grit
4. The Ghost Writer
5. The Fighter
6. The Kids Are All Right
7. Black Swan
8. Winter's Bone
9. 127 Hours
10. Toy Story 3

Further, the main headline tomorrow will probably be

"'The King's Speech' Leads the Oscar Pack with 9 Nominations,"

or "'King's Speech,' 'Social Network' Lead Oscar Contenders."

* * * *

Finally saw "The King's Speech" and must say that

it will almost surely win the Oscar for Best Picture next month.

It's not my favorite film of the year (and not my choice

for best pic) but it absolutely has the feel and pedigree

and style of excellence of an Academy best picture.

More on the movie later.



for January 22, 2011

Forget Trickle-Down Economics. We Need a Ripple Economy.

Economic experts, who were almost all proved wrong in 2008

when the economy collapsed, can talk all they want about

obscure stuff like quantitative easing and currency

revaluation and GDP in relation to yadda yadda yadda.

But the real bone truth is that the economy lifts

because some guy in a garage comes up with an idea

that ripples through an industry and generates massive

amounts of dough.

The "economy" is really much simpler than economists make

it out to be; it has a lot to do with mere bets and

mass psychology and, of course, coming up with products

people want to buy, the essential ingredient.

And when you've seen from the inside, as I have,

entrepreneurial ventures go from zero to sixty in

no time flat, you realize that the main thing is...

a great idea. (And money to back it.)

As a writer/reporter, I've been at the birth of a few

publications that grew into heavyweights from absolutely

nothing in less than a year. I've seen (from a first-hand

perspective) many rock bands go from being completely broke

to selling out Radio City Music Hall and larger venues

within a short span. I've seen record companies

go from having one quirky band on its roster to

becoming a major indie within a year.

Those folks made rreallll money -- and that money rippled

throughout the economy as they spent it. (Reagan had

it wrong; it's not trickle-down economics that succeeds;

it's a ripple economy that works.)

And in the late 1990s, I was eyewitness to the runaway

fertility in Silicon Valley that created so much wealth

for everybody. I'll never forget driving around Silicon

Valley in a BMW with a news source in 2000 who showed me

several corporate campuses in Santa Clara County. He

knew the area well but was as amazed and wide-eyed

as I was by the place's transformation.

"Ohmygod, that used to be a cow pasture -- now it's

HP," he said. And on and on he went: that's where

they invented the whatever, and that's where they

made a billion on the whosis. [I remember our

drive took place around 3 p.m. on a weekday -- and I

pointed to all the cars on the highway and said: "It

almost looks like rush hour." He said, "It is rush hour."

I said, "You mean, they're cutting out early?" He said,

"No, they all got in at 4 or 5 a.m. to sync with east coast

time. This is their 7 p.m."]

If you were at the center of Silicon Valley at the height

of the dot com explosion (with a guide who knew the

area), it felt like you were in the middle of a vast

field in which an uncountable number of mushrooms had

just sprouted after a rain.

And everybody benefited. The ripple economy was triumphant.

The money those start-ups made filled the state coffers of

California (because the state reaped taxes from all those new

billion and million dollar companies). And with that money,

the state could keep tuition low for students in the UC

system, could afford to feed the poor, etc.

Those were boom times --- you could feel it. And that

mushroom field sprouted in Silicon Valley partly because

Clinton's government tried to make sure that the little

guy in the marketplace didn't get quashed by the behemoths,

by inherited money. Silicon Valley didn't happen on

the watch of a trickle-down president.

We've been in a great age of invention in America for the

past century or so, and it continues today completely

unabated. Silicon Valley and its spin-offs are only the

latest examples.

Two things will end this recession: 1) great business

ideas and 2) a government that makes sure the small

entrepreneur doesn't get his or her idea stolen or

quashed by the existing business establishment.

But I digress. Paul



for January 19, 2011

Behind the Iron Curtain of Islam

Islamic Totalitarianism Will Ultimately be Defeated by...Feminism

One wonders whether the uprising in Tunisia, where people have

finally had enough of being bullied by Islamic fundamentalist

tyrants, is sort of like the Muslim version of the

start of the fall of the Eastern Bloc in the late 1980s.

What will be the next domino to fall behind

the Iron Curtain of Islam? Algeria? Egypt? Will the

Green Revolution in Iran finally succeed?

I can't help but question why people in, say,

Saudi Arabia put up with all the backward religious

tyranny. I mean, the Saudi government has outlawed

movies and booze and free speech -- and they've established

a teetotaling society that creates nothing the rest of the

world wants (except oil). They're sober and devout and tidy, that's

for sure, but they produce no movies or music or technology or

medical advances or novels or journalism that are of any use

to anyone. (Don't give me what they're drinking! By contrast,

America's supposedly "decadent" society of "infidels" has

created, oh, the Internet, the personal computer, rock 'n' roll,

jazz, most of the greatest movies ever made, almost all

the major medical advances of the last century, the airplane,

the car, etc. (On the downside, we have also created

"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." But I digress.)From our

soil came those who invented the airplane; from Saudi soil

came those who found a new way to crash them.)

Of course, the real problem in such countries is political

oppression. I think, ultimately, the force that will bring

down the governments behind the Iron Curtain of Islam

is...feminism. After all, women are oppressed and subjugated

in most Muslim countries to such a degree that the U.N. should

declare the situation a human rights violation.

You wanna defeat the Taliban in the FATAs? Spread

feminism. Have female imams preach liberation to

other women in the towns and tribal areas between

Kabul and Islamabad.

And maybe the U.S. should arm them (let's send Islamic

women all our Glocks, people!) so they're not attacked.

And then the feminists of Islam can begin to preach

about a freedom that has been a long time coming.

I can hear their speeches now: Muslim women, you have

nothing to lose but your burqas! Rise up and

defeat the Islamic men who tyrannize you!

* * * * *

Loose thoughts on the Golden Globes: The powers-that-be

appear to have censored and bleeped the first words of

Paul Giamatti's acceptance speech: "Jesus Christ, Jesus

Christ, Jesus Christ"....The airing of Los Lobos's

magnificent "La pistola y el corazón" is the thing that

sticks with me the most from the broadcast (whatta song

that is, eh? Hey, I even heard 'em perform it at

Carnegie Hall how lucky am I)...Natalie Portman has any

doubts that guys want to go to bed with her?! I'll let

ya in on a secret, Nat: you'd have to travel beyond the

Sea of Tranquility to find a hetero that wouldn't want to do

the deed...I had a fleeting thought the next day:

Ricky Gervais for president! Sic him on Osama.

* * * *

Here're my short takes on some recent films:

Ryan Murphy's "EAT PRAY LOVE":
This seems like Julia Roberts' idea of a
Woody Allen movie, which is to say an attempted James
Brooks flick. It starts like one of those Olive Garden TV
commercials, then mines cultural cliches in India
before turning into a variation of "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

Danny Boyle's "127 HOURS":
I'm still not sure if this should be on my ten best list for
2010. If it were, it'd be number nine, tied with "Buried."
The first half-hour is riveting, but Boyle soon runs out of
nifty clever moves. The much-buzzed about part where the
protagonist cuts off his arm is not nearly as harrowing as
the accident that starts the film. And his delirious fantasies
and hallucinations are more ordinary than they should be.

Paul Haggis's "THE NEXT THREE DAYS":
Surprisingly gripping film that really catches fire
90-minutes in. Where was the promo campaign that
advertised this as a jailbreak thriller? No wonder it
flopped. It shouldn't have.

Tony Scott's "UNSTOPPABLE":
Like a 90-minute CNN breaking-news segment.
More of a premise than a movie.

John Curran's "STONE":
Engaging and underrated (and better than De Niro's other
new film, "Little Fockers"). With an extremely
Sopranos-esqe ending.

Tom McGrath's "MEGAMIND": Parts of this
are very witty. Would make a terrific animated TV series.

Todd Phillips's "DUE DATE":

This is one of the funniest comedies of the year, though it's far
from perfect. Can't figure out why critics panned it.

"THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E." (season 1, disc 1):
This is that rare case where the characters -- who can
forget Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin? -- were more
sharply drawn than the plots. It's usually
the other way around in TV land. (If there's ever
a feature film based on the series, Vladimir Putin
could easly play Kuryakin.)

But I digress. Paul



for January 16, 2011

Serenity Now!

You just know that all this talk about

"civility" won't last past the first

substantial disagreement. By the end of

the week, pundits are going to be saying

things like, "So much for civility," as

members of the House strenuously object to

the repeal of a bill that was a compromise

to begin with. Both sides are going to start

resembling Frank Constanza of "Seinfeld," shouting

to the sky: "Serenity now!!"

But I digress. Paul



for January 15, 2011

Maybe Jared Loughner should have seen a

psychiatrist. I know of a shrink in Texas

just right for him. His name is Nidal -- wait,

this rolodex is a couple years old.

* * *


for January 12 - 14, 2011

Paul Iorio's Top Ten Films of 2010

Alright, I've finally seen just about all the major films of

2010 (except "The King's Speech" and "127 Hours")

and am ready to reveal my top ten list. Here goes:

1. Roman Polanski's "THE GHOST WRITER."
The best movie of 2010, by far. Artful, magnificently
directed and acted. After seeing it four times, I'm still finding new
new bits of brilliance. And Olivia Williams is simply

2. Joel and Ethan Coen's "TRUE GRIT."
Vibrantly entertaining. The best Coen Bros. flick
since "Fargo," the best Western since "Unforgiven."

3. Lisa Cholodenko's "THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT."
Massively original premise about a sperm donor
who meets the children, now teens, he spawned.
Characters are so vivid that you would never
think the son was born to Bening or the daughter to
Moore. As for Mia Wasikowska: a star is born.

Underrated late-period Allen. One of his best
post-"Bullets Over Broadway" comedies.

A terrific love story set against a backdrop of greed,
which is good, if we are to believe Gordon Gekko, given a
second act here.

6. David Fincher's "THE SOCIAL NETWORK."

More Sorkin than Fincher, which means plenty
of overcomposed dialogue. I didn't like this as much
as many others did, which is why it's at six.

7. David O. Russell's "THE FIGHTER."
The last half is better than the first half, but,
even so, it ain't "Raging Bull."

8. Olivier Dahan's "MY OWN LOVE SONG."
Unjustifiably overlooked by both moviegoers
and critics, this has the feel and appeal of
a 1980s John Sayles movie. Renee Zellweger
deserves an Oscar nom, too.

9. Rodrigo Cortés's "BURIED"
This may be the most resourceful movie
ever made.

10. Lee Unkrich's "TOY STORY 3."
Not quite "Up," but the best animated film
of the year.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Here's a cartoon I came up with this morning:

"No way they're enemies. They even gave me a great Christmas gift, this huge wooden horse!"

* * * *

P.S. -- To those who know what I'm talking about:

If Bill Epps is not a swindler, then where's his

transparency? Why isn't he openly stating what the

factual record is? He's making claims behind my

back that he has never said to my face. I think

you can understand why that would be concerning to me,

His erratic behavior is troubling.

As some of you know, Epps has written and recorded

his own separate catalog of (unsuccessful) songs that

is completely separate from mine. And he has copyrighted

all that stuff, just as I've copyrighted my song catalog.

Does Epps give me credit for his songs? No. Should he?

No. Does he share his copyrights with me? No.

Should he? No. When it comes to his own

songwriting catalog, it's all about him.

He has a monopoly on his own songs (for whatever that's


And that's how it should be. I don't want credit

for his separate song catalog, because I didn't

write them. And he shouldn't try to claim even partial

credit for any of my songs, because he didn't write

or originate any of mine. I solely wrote and originated

every one of my songs.

But imagine if I started acting like Epps, saying

about his own song "Endless Sky": "Oh, I wrote

'Endless' and he wrote 'Sky' and it was a

collaboration." (After all, I did make very specific

suggestions to him about that song and others.)

I bet he'd be pissed off. I bet he'd think he was being

swindled out of his own song. Well, that's how I feel.

He tries to come off altruistic but it feels like a ruse;

he seems to be saying, "What's yours is mine and what's

mine is mine." (Hey, we ain't married and he ain't my wife!)

No way. What's mine is mine, and what's his is his.

He didn't write mine, I didn't write his.

Hey, I knew this guy for a total of 20 months in the

1970s; didn't see him again for 30 years, until

2005, at which point we knew each other for another

20 months. Evidently, in those 30 years, he didn't

learn everything he should have about ethics, integrity and

authenticity. (Thankfully, I've never signed a contract

of any kind with this guy.)

People who know him should act responsibly and

let him know it's not ok for him to lie like this.

(Calling all grown-ups, please!)



for January 12, 2011

It's really quite amazing that Lynda Sorenson, the classmate

of the Tucson gunman, was so perceptive and prescient about

Jared Loughner last summer.

But, inevitably, that leads to wannabe predictors,

an epidemic of people, often with a hidden

agenda or grudge, trying to foresee the future

behavior of others. In many cases, they're really

just smearing a rival or an enemy.

Remember the case of the disgruntled former employer

of Richard Jewell, who was telling authorities that

Jewell was a nut probably responsible for carrying out

the Olympic Park bombing? Turned out Jewell was the

hero of that event.

And then there are those who try to even up a score

in a dispute with a neighbor or co-worker by telling

cops, "That guy's wacko!"

Truth is, it's almost impossible, in most cases, to

anticipate Tucson-like massacres before they happen.

And filtering out the static and decoys is almost


That said, here's a prediction I made last year that

will probably come to pass (unfortunately) within a few

years: Muslim fundamentalists will start to

target U.S. and U.K. professors who teach courses on

"infidel" subjects like Copernicus and physics and

Salman Rushdie and the Jyllands-Posten controversy.

And they'll also go after the students who attend

such courses.

In fact, this has already started to happen in the U.K.

There have been recent accounts of profs being menaced

or harassed by fundamentalists who object to teachers

explaining through science what ignorant jihadists explain

only through myth.

A very disturbing incident last year at an academic library

in Berkeley, California, suggests that violence or

attempted violence by jihadists against those merely

reading "sacrilegious" books is already going on but

not being reported.

I mean, we wouldn't hear about it nationwide if a prof teaching

"The Satanic Verses" in, say, Omaha were to be beaten nearly

to death by an unknown assailant. And you just know

the local police department, bending over backwards to

appear p.c. (and to fend off lawsuits from CAIR), would

say we shouldn't try to draw any conclusion from crime

scene pictures showing blood splattered all over

the prof's copies of the Jyllands-Posten and "The Satanic


But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- I wouldn't elevate Jared Loughner's massacre

to the level of a political act. He was likely just

a trashy schizophrenic acting alone.

Absolutely nobody praises what he did. Absolutely nobody

is dancing in the streets because he killed a bunch

of people. And he's linked to no organization whatsoever.

Contrast that to Nidal Hasan's similar crime -- a hate

crime -- at Ft. Hood. Many thousands of people praised

Hasan's hate crime throughout Islam and threatened

more to come. Jihadists openly celebrated the mass

murders. Militant leaders like al-Awlaki

called the gunman a hero. And since the massacre at

Ft. Hood, there have been numerous attempts at

similar hate crimes.

Don't let one stray piranha in shark-infested waters

distract you from the fact that the main danger is sharks.



for January 10, 2011

I've been reading the Keith Richards memoir

"Life" (I bet Mick Jagger calls it "Lies"), an

xmas gift from my bro (thanks, J!).

Lots of juicy tidbits, though I wish he'd go

longer about the creation of major Stones songs

(and shorter on anecdotes about friends of his I've

never heard of). And sometimes I wish I could

read Jagger's view and tales on some of these same

situations and songs. Also, reader interest drops off

after 1981 or so.

Among the fascinating factoids:

-- Though "Brown Sugar" was credited to
Jagger/Richards, it was written wholly by

-- He calls "Satanic Majesties Request"
a "bit of a flim flam."

-- As early as "December's Children," Richards
was already covering the guitar parts that
Brian Jones was too stoned (or too absent)
to handle.

-- He doesn't seem to like Mick much.

-- "Jumpin' Jack Flash" could've been on
"Beggar's Banquet," as it erupted during
those sessions.

-- Richards used only acoustic guitars on
"Jumpin' Jack Flash." (Is that possible?)

-- He's rather harsh on Godard's "Sympathy
for the Devil," which is (in my opinion) a
massively revealing film that actually shows
the evolution of a classic Stones track from
start to finish.

Refreshing that Richards talks about writing his songs

on...a tape recorder. That's the most direct and

effective way to write songs. Musical notation,

as he notes, is a prison. Wayyy too slow. None of

the major composers of the rock era wrote using

musical notation.

And I bet more great lyrics have been written via

tape recorder than by hand. I tend to mistrust

the handwritten lyric sheets that appear in many

autobiographies or memoirs. Too many of 'em are phony.

Just check out the "handwritten" lyrics that appear

in George Harrison's book "I Me Mine"; the lyric sheets

for both "Don't Bother Me" and "Think for Yourself" were

handwritten many years after they were composed. (See page 399.)

In his prime, Bob Dylan often used a typewriter to write his

lyrics (see him composing on typewriter in the documentary

"Don't Look Back"). I'm certainly not putting myself in

Dylan's or Richards' league at all, but I almost always compose

using a tape recorder or email (and then I email

the song to myself -- a great way to document exactly

when it was written).

* * * *

Just heard this audacious new unsigned band on Marshall

Stax's Next Big Thing show on KALX: Uberband.

New album's "Live In Poland." Check out their song

"Tonight We're Gonna Drink Alcohol."

* * * *

Also on KALX, I heard what I think was Lorne Greene

singing an Olde West sort of song "Ringo" -- in

French. Amazing stuff.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- I've said it before and I'll say it again (and again);

if Bill Epps claims to have written even one note or one

word of any of my songs, he is a liar. And if

you believe such a false claim, you are a fool.

I'm not saying he's a swindler, but he sure

does resemble one these days.

I've been recording my songs at hundreds and hundreds of

recording sessions since 2003. Epps was present at exactly

two of them -- the two recording sessions he funded in 2005.

(And neither session resulted in takes I could use.) But

of course he had his video camera running every time he

made even a minor suggestion during those two

sessions in '05.

Still, show me even one single frame of that video

footage in which Epps is seen composing anything

or making a suggestion that I ultimately used. Truth is,

you can't show me one, because there isn't one.

* * * *

P.S. -- How long before the Tucson massacre is

linked to some first-class pop song like "I Shot the Sheriff"

or "Helter Skelter" or "Beat on the Brat"? Or a

brilliant film like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Natural

Born Killers"? If the murderer says he was inspired

to shoot by, say, Marley's song or Kubrick's film, idiots

will surely call for some sort of ban or censorship.

(Truth be told, those songs and films are not nearly

as violent as the tall tales of the Bible and the Koran.)

Also, a CAT scan of Loughner's brain would

probably reveal what really caused him to shoot: his

own injured or diseased brain tissue.



for January 10, 2011

Just saw "True Grit" again and I must say it holds up

even better the second time around. As I said before, I

bet it wins the best picture Oscar next month (along with

the best director and actor prizes). Which probably signals

(and there are other signals, too) that the current 3-D

trend will probably fade out around the time people

finish filing their 1040s, right after the Oscars.

If that happens, I spy an investigative story this spring

that hasn't been posted or published yet ("Why 3-D Died This Time").

But I digress. Paul.

P.S. -- Can somebody explain to me why Olivia Williams

seems to be eligible only in the supporting actress category

but not for the actress award? By any measure, she should win

(in a landslide) in either category this year. Nobody comes

close except Annette Bening. (Sorry, I don't buy Melissa Leo's

Edie Falco impersonation.)

P.S. -- Some newspaper writer just called "True Grit"

a "sober" film -- and I just had to laugh. Has he

actually seen it? It may well be the least sober western

ever made.

P.S. -- Best line on the site today comes

from a story by Melena Ryzik about the DGA nominations:

"Mr. [Christopher] Nolan will also receive the inaugural
VES Visionary Award at the group’s gala in February, when
the [Times] expects he will reveal the entire prize
establishment to be a dream..."

Hey, DGA! No Polanski?! No Coens?! I'm speechless (like

that guy in "The King's Speech"). Look, I've seen "The

Ghost Writer" no fewer than four times and each time

I'm freshly amazed at the genius of Polanski's direction.

He deserves that best director Oscar, but, frankly, I can

read the writing on the Kodak walls; he may not even be


OK, lemme revise my prediction (above). It'll be a "Social

Network" night come Oscartime, with Fincher winning best dir

(though I still can't believe the news).

P.S. -- Another great line from today:

Anthony Tommasini, writing about the fact that four

of the greatest composers of all time came from Vienna,

writes this:

"If you were going to make a case for Beethoven as the
greatest composer in history, you would base it on his
ability to make a long work, like the “Eroica” Symphony,
seem like a musical monument in motion."

Absolutely. Almost like the Parthenon getting up and dancing.

The Vienna connection is interesting. But consider this:

three of the top ten composers of the past hundred years

were from...Liverpool, England.

Getting back to Beethoven, I also wonder why he never

wrote an opera. The Choral symphony is as close as he came. .

Try listening to the Choral symphony after hearing

Mozart/DaPonte's "Don Giovanni" -- and the German

almost sounds so wrong! (Try it.)

And what does it say about humanity that the greatest

composer in human history was deaf when he wrote his

best stuff? (Maybe that we do more when we have less.)

* * * *

P.S. -- And so, predictably, pundits blame [fill in the

blank] for the Tucson killings, blaming whatever

suits their agendas in the first place. Some are

blaming "Animal Farm." Some are blaming heated debates.

Me, I love heated debates. Nothing wrong with 'em. But

there is something wrong with someone bringing a Glock into

the discussion.

Funny, you can watch some TV pundits for hours on end

without hearing mention of the real cause of the

Tucson killings: a 9mm Glock semi-automatic handgun.

Not "Animal Farm." Not incivility. But Glock

semi-automatic handguns.

Reporters who avoid that fact are merely showing

how cowardly they are about taking on the NRA.



for January 9, 2011

The massacre in Tucson is heartbreaking

and horrifying, but, truth be told, this sort of

thing is becoming a way too familiar part

of American life. Does even a month go by without

some sort of incident in which a gunman opens

fire on innocent people?

The problem is simply guns, guns, guns. And a society

that is far too permissive about firearms.

Obviously, we need stricter control of automatic

weapons, but that's not going to happen in the U.S.

Every time you bring it up, a bucnha good ol' boys say,

"Hey, we just need them thar weapons for hunting."

As if huntin' is some kind of virtuous wholesome thing

to do.

I hate to say it, but truly: what sort of sick fuck gets

satisfaction out of going in the woods to kill another mammal

for sport? Explain to me how you get off on that for

recreation? I mean, there is no part of me that would

get any sort of pleasure out of shooting a cute defenseless

deer, for crissakes.

In fact, that's precisely where the problem with gun-related

homicide in America starts: with the sensibility that says

it's ok to gun down other mammals for pleasure. Because

it's a real short leap from killing one sort of mammal

to killing another. (And this is coming from someone who is

not a vegetarian (though I respect those who are), who's definitely

not a pacifist and who'd shoot bin Laden in a heartbeat

if he could.)

But I digress. Paul



for January 9, 2011

I just saw a couple new movies and here're my reviews:

Joel and Ethan Coen's "True Grit"

Betcha this one becomes the clear front runner for

best picture at the Academy Awards, even though

"The Ghost Writer" should win the prize. And Jeff

Bridges has an excellent chance of winning back-to-back

Oscars for best actor come February.

Frankly, this one surprised me. I came in skeptical but

had a rollicking good time watching it. The flick has its

flaws, mind you: the dialogue is too distractingly formal

at times, a couple scenes are under-rehearsed, etc.

But the pleasures are many, particularly Rooster's

hilarious shooting contest with LaBeouf (Matt Damon)

and the spunkiness (no other word for it) of the teen

age girl (Hailee Steinfeld, who can look a bit like

a young Judy Garland from some angles).

As impossible as it seems, the Coen brothers have truly

eclipsed the first "True Grit," which now seems like

little more than a star vehicle for John Wayne.

* * * *

David O. Russell's "The Fighter"

This one ignites nicely around an hour and fifteen

minutes in, with the final fight sequence almost worth

the price of admission. But the first hour is a huge

disappointment, urgently in need of editing, revision

and a fundamental rethinking.

For long stretches, this resembles an attempted "Raging Bull"

or a B+ episode of "The Sopranos." And it made me

appreciate what a rare achievement of cinematic genius

"Raging Bull" was, because this falls so short of it.

I mean, it doesn't even break your heart that Micky dumps

Dicky (because Dicky screwed up royally and deserved what

he got). Contrast that to the poignant split bewteen the LaMotta

brothers in "Raging Bull"; there were two legit sides

to that story.

Also, too much of this feels like they're working through

the dialogue for the first time. Half of it looks like

outtakes. And most of the fight sequences recycle ideas

and techniques from "Raging Bull," but to lesser effect.

But I digress. Paul



for January 7, 2010

Here're a few jokes I came up with this morning:

Hey, Darrell Issa. Oscar Mayer called. They're running

out of grease!

* * * *

And so the House began its session with a reading

of the U.S. Constitution, also known as a filibuster.

Several Republicans wanted to recite "Mein Kampf" instead,

but Boehner nixed it.

* * * *

Rumor has it that Boehner was in downtown D.C. the other

day and saw people going into a free clinic. "Stop them,"

he told a police officer, "they're getting health care!"

* * * *

Republicans tried to pass a law outlawing panhandling

the other day -- until they realized that that's what

politicians do for a living! (It's called "fundraising.")

* * * *

I hear the official title of the bill to repeal health care

reform is the "Stop-the-Epidemic-of-People-Getting-Medical-Care Bill."

[HR Millionaire]

* * * *

Last week authorities arrested three Muslim reactionaries

who were planning to shoot-up a newsroom in

Denmark -- or, as Jesse Jackson calls them, "religious

moderates we can do business with."

But I digress. Paul



for January 4 - 6, 2011

Jerry Brown, Always Veering Off-Script (Into Honesty)

"No mental reservation"? Who writes these oaths? [photo by Paul Iorio]


At ground level, in Berkeley and in Oakland,

the inauguration of Jerry Brown as California

governor felt like...someone had just opened the

window in a room full of cigar smoke. The fresh

air suddenly started streaming in.

Some out-of-state pundits don't get Brown.

One newspaper in the southeast called him an

"insider," which really misses the mark, because

Brown is one of the most outsiderish insiders in

in the history of recent American politics.

His whole campaign felt like it was taking on the establishment

(even if he was the AG). And one gets the sense he

had to fight for every damned vote to win that

election last November. It was no gimme for him.

Remember, he started the race even with Meg Whitman

in the polls. And Brown didn't take the lead until

it was revealed that Whitman was just another

callous CEO. (The turning point was when a loyal

assistant to Whitman came forward to say she'd

been mistreated and fired by her boss. And Brown's remarks

on that case sounded like pure common sense:

"After nine years, [Whitman] didn't even get her

a lawyer.")

And then there were those accidentally audiotaped

remarks after Brown's phone call to a union rep.

To me and to others, the tape actually made him look good.

Because there was Brown crunching numbers and

twisting arms himself, not delegating the gritty

campaigning to an aide. He was in the thicket.

He wasn't just a figurehead candidate.

First time I ever saw Brown was in Union Square

in New York City in the spring of '92, when

he was making a very credible run for president.

At the rally, he appeared onstage wearing a jacket

with the word "Teamsters" on it.

And that summed up the zeitgeist of the era right

there. To many boomers at the time, Brown was

Bill McKay in the movie "The Candidate," which had

a scene that was seared in generational memory:

McKay saying to a corrupt Teamster boss, "I don't

think we have shit in common."

But that movie was made in the 1970s. And when

Brown, ever the contrarian, got onstage in '92

with that jacket, it was almost as if he was saying,

"Hey, the hippie era is over -- we've

got to play ball with the powers-that-be

if we expect to get anything done."

Brown's magic is in his combination of military-style

discipline and counter-culture non-conformity and


And it was all there on display yesterday

afternoon in Sacramento, when he took the oath.

There he was, breathing some life and humor and

humanity into a badly-worded oath. (I mean, who

thinks up these oaths anyway? "Without any

mental reservation"? Who was the author of that


Can you think of another example of a major

politician veering off-script while taking the

oath of office? Very, very boomer.

And boomer Californians ate it up, even if

some regional media people looked on puzzled.

Because he's one of us, his backers say. Not slick.

A bit contrary. Refreshingly off-script. A highly-disciplined

free spirit. A Bill McKay who does have shit in

common with the Teamsters.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Someone was wondering the other day about how I

wrote one of my songs, "Bluer Than You." Here's how.

I wrote it around 1993, exactly as it appears on "130 Songs."

I originally released it on the 2003/04 cassette tape edition

of my "About Myself" album. (And it also appeared on a

ten-song cassette demo I released in 1998.)

In late '04, I toyed with the idea of writing a new version of

"Bluer Than You" in which the chorus line was "Sometime Thing"

instead of "Bluer than You." And I asked a couple friends

which version they thought worked better. Everybody said

they thought my line "Bluer Than You" worked better than

"Some Time Thing"; and I agreed and did not

change it.

I also wrote an alternate non-suite version of "Bluer Than

You" in late '04 that appears on "130 Songs." On that one,

I replaced the suite part with a simple bridge I'd written.

Naturally, I own the registered copyrights to both

"Bluer Than You (suite)" and to "Bluer Than


Another song that I wrote two distinctly different versions of

is "Warm Docking at the Shrine."

"Warm Docking at the Shrine" began with the title, which

was a line I came up with in a story I wrote for the San

Francisco Chronicle in 1998. From there, I built a song

around it.

In October 2007, I came up with an entirely different

song called "Warm Docking at the Shrine" that

took off after I penned the opening line ("In a shitty

little subdivision outside of San Antone..."). In that

version of the track, I folded in song fragments I'd

written in the late 1990s. ("Warm Docking at the Shrine"

is included on "130 Songs.")

While I'm on the subject of tracks from "130 Songs" -- released

last year (and I've gone way beyond that album since) -- people

seem to be curious about my song "Wait for Girls." Its history

is this: I came up with that one in 2000 at the same session

("session" defined as: me alone in my apartment strumming

my guitar) at which I also came up with "Memory Lane (Is a

Two Way Street)."

I originally released it on the cassette tape edition of

"About Myself" in 2003/04. I recorded it again for

the CD edition of the now-scuttled "About Myself"

in '05.

The only difference between the two versions is that

I bash away at the guitar intro on the CD version

instead of fingerpicking it as I did on the cassette

album. (A friend in the studio suggested I try bashing

away at it because I was having trouble picking it.)

And I tried that idea. And, at first, I sort of liked

the new intro.

But some weeks later, I relistened to it and realized

that the bashing opener was a huge mistake. So I changed

the guitar intro back to the way I'd originally written

it in '00. I did not (and could not) use my friend's

suggestion. The final copyrighted version of "Wait for

Girls" -- the one parked with the Library of Congress -- uses

the finger-picking intro and is exactly the way I wrote

it in 2000.

Why was the bashing intro idea no good? Because it

doesn't set up the contrast with the power chords that

follow later in the song. The picking simply sounds

better. Period.

And somebody seems to think my early 1980s song

"Chasin' You" was left on the cutting room floor. No, it

was not. It appears on "130 Songs," too. And I also

included it on the cassette tape version of "About Myself'

in '03/'04.

I wrote "Chasin' You" in '81 while living on

West 74th Street in Manhattan. And I added

another part to it in '85 after I had moved

to a new place on West 110th Street that

had a broken window.

Through that busted window I could see through

to a nearby building where a really hot

looking woman was dancing in her apartment

virtually naked. And that's when I came up

with (among other things!) a fragment of a

song that went, "Fortunate for me, good luck

dances naked in broken windows."

The fragment fit well as a sort of cryptic coda

to "Chasin' You," and that's how that part

was written.

And someone wrote to me a while back saying

she loved my line "I drew a picture of the

future in my rearview mirror," which I wrote

for my song "Better Girl" (also on "130 Songs").

Yeah, I like that line, too! I was somewhat

inspired by Bob Dylan's "draw conclusions

on the wall" from "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" (one

of my favorite Dylan songs!).

Keep in mind that the copyrighted versions of each one

of my songs are always the definitive and best

versions -- and the copyrighted editions

never include song bits I experimented with but

didn't ultimately use (like the

bashing intro to "Wait for Girls," etc.).



for January 3, 2011

So this is the new year....

And where are they reading the Digression this week?

Just checked the stats, which say that I have more

readership in Germany this week than anywhere else,

and by a large margin (two to one over U.S. numbers).

Also, I have readers in -- get this -- Iran and

Saudi Arabia, where they only have Intranet access.

But I digress. Paul



for December 30, 2010

How About a Federal Meritocracy Act?

If you come out of college naively expecting

a meritocracy in the workplace, you'll soon find

that too much of the business world is

ruled by nepotism, favoritism, cronyism and

plutocratic privilege. Merit has far less to do

with success than you'd think.

In this post-recession period -- and let's hope

it's post -- the president and Congress

should try to find a way to codify a set of rules

that will ensure greater fairness in the business

world with regard to the hiring, compensation

and promotion of employees.

Sure, we've spent decades passing laws about

gender and racial discrimination. But what about

quotidian unfairness issues in the workplace that

have nothing to do with ethnic or racial bias?

Let me give you an egregious example of how

the workplace sometimes works -- from my own

personal experience.

Many years ago -- at the dawn of my career, well before

I went on to write for all the major newspapers in

America -- I applied at Doubleday & Company for

a job writing back-jacket copy for books.

The test for the position was to simply write a synopsis of

a new novel that Doubleday was about to release: "The Scottish

Wedding" it was titled, by an author whose name now eludes me.

So I read the manuscript, wrote spec copy and

turned it in to the main promo manager at Doubleday,

a pompous fussy guy named Ned Parkhouse (who, by the

way, died last year).

"Hope I pass the test," I said.

Well, ol' Ned read it and soon contacted me to say

that he didn't think I was right for the job. He had

hired someone else -- and I figured, Well, that's the


For months, I labored under the misimpression that

my copy for "A Scottish Wedding" wasn't good enough,

that the meritocracy had looked at all the contenders

fairly and even-handedly and had determined someone else

was better for the job.

I kept thinking that thought until some months later, when

I was up at Doubleday's New York headquarters for yet

another job interview. And while I was waiting, and you

know how they love to make you wait, I browsed through

some of Doubleday's brand new releases, among them "The

Scottish Wedding," which, of course, had been the subject

of my writing test.

I immediately turned to the back-jacket

and read the summary. Hmm, sounds familiar, I thought.

As I continued to read it, I realized the text was exactly

the same thing I had written for my test some months

earlier. Parkhouse had used my test for the back jacket

of his book.

In other words, I had passed the test with flying colors.

My writing skills were exactly the sort required for such

a job. My work was eminently usable and was better

than the copy of those who competed for the same job.

Yet, I didn't get the position. Which probably went to the

less-qualified nephew or uncle of some executive

vice-president at the firm.

Well, I was pissed off. After the interview, I went around

to Parkhouse's office and knocked on his door. "Come in,"

he said, and I did.

I showed him a copy of "The Scottish Wedding" jacket and

said, "You used my copy and didn't compensate me for it."

And he, of course, denied any such thing, saying, no, he

would never do something like that, never, never.

Thankfully, since I was coming from a job interview, I had

writing samples in my briefcase, including the original copy I had

written for the book. I took the synopsis out and slid it

across his desk. Well, ol' Ned turned red. He was caught. And he

was caught in an air-tight way that's rare in real-life, I must admit.

He didn't have much to say for himself. I don't remember what

excuse he used that day, but it was only when I threatened

to go to the human resources department about it that he

grudgingly agreed to pay me a very modest sum for

my work, seventy-five bucks.

Of course, I'm sure that Parkhouse, being the top promo

honcho there at the time, subsequently told the story in a

way that made him look like the hero and me like the

villain. And I'm sure his former buds in the Hamptons,

metastasized through the industry, all bought it.

But I'll tell ya something: that sort of thing has

happened more times than I care to count. I'm not

naming names (beyond his) in this piece, but there

should be some regulatory safeguards in the

publishing industry against bosses, say, publishing the

work or ideas that they've just rejected from

another writer.

I mean, I remember submitting to a magazine a cartoon that

was completely blank, with the caption: "Nothing in this cartoon

is offensive." And the magazine rejected it and then, months

later, published a nearly identical "cartoon" from

one of their regulars. (Oh, but don't accuse them

of theft -- or you'll be on their shitlist for some time, after

they "investigate" themselves and find no wrongdoing,

of course.)

In another instance, many years ago, I submitted

to a TV show a hilarious (if I should say so myself) comedy

sketch: "The Deborah Norville Interview with

Adolf Hitler." The sketch was rejected but, sure enough,

they used the very same idea a month or two later,

barely tweaking the concept (I think it was called

"Larry King's Interview with Adolf Hitler" -- and I heard it

was one of their top-rated segments ever).

I could go on and on with examples.

Shouldn't there be set of enforceable rules that makes it

easier for freelancers to share in the profits (or at least the credit)

when one of their rejected ideas is later

used by a company? And shouldn't there be a sort of Meritocracy Act

through which a wrongly-rejected job applicant or employee can

have potential nepotism or favoritism investigated?

But I digress. Paul



for December 28, 2010 .

"Shellacking": The Word of 2010

But Its Modern Origins Date Back 55 Years

(Or Does Obama See Michelle Lacking Patience With Him?

Without a doubt, and by any measure, "shellacking" has

become the word of 2010 (if there is such a

thing), thanks to President Obama's memorable take on

his party's defeat at the polls last November.

"I'm not recommending for every future president that they

take a shellacking like I did last night," the president

said at a press conference in the East Room

of the White House on November 3rd. "You know, I'm

sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons."

Since then, the word seems to have caught on with

pundits, writers -- and real people, too! Other

contenders like "austerity" (which used to primarily

refer to great cathedrals like Santa Spirito in Florence)

and Ed Rendell's fast-breaking and catchy "wusses" don't

come close. (And Obama's use of "wee wee" a year or so

ago never quite caught on.)

Of course, the modern origins of shellacking date back

before the current Fist-Bump Era. Prior to Obama's

use of the word, shellacking was probably best-known

for its use in a memorable episode of the TV series

"The Honeymooners," aired fifty-five years ago, on

January 14, 1956.

The episode was called "Oh, My Aching Back" (here's a link:


written by Sydney Zelinka and Leonard Stern; and starred, as always,

Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden, Art Carney as Ed Norton

and Audrey Meadows as Alice Kramden.

Shellacking is used twice by Norton in that episode, first

at around the six-minute mark and, again, four-minutes later.

In the episode, Ralph feigns fatigue to get out of having

dinner with Alice's mother, though he actually has a

secret plan to go bowling with Norton instead. Their

plan is thwarted when Alice catches the two as they're

heading to the Raccoon Lodge for the championship game.

After a scolding by Alice, Ralph decides to obey his wife

and stay home. But Norton tries to change his mind, and


"Eddie Malloy's bride-to-be is gonna be there tonight," Norton

tells Ralph. "Though the wedding may not come off when she

sees the shellacking he's gonna get."

And the word is used again in the episode, after Norton

chastises Ralph for caving in to Alice.

"Get a load at who's talking," Ralph says. "How about the

night that Trixie insisted that you go with her to her

mother's house, the night we were gonna play pool?"

"Well, we ended up playing pool, didn't we," says Norton.

"Yeah, you and me versus her and her mother," says Ralph.

"I'll never forget that shellacking we took," says Norton, laughing.

Is it possible that Obama was somehow influenced by that episode of

"The Honeymooners"? Is he even familiar with the series?

Or maybe it was one of those psychologically revealing

soundalikes, as in: perhaps he sees Michelle lacking

patience in Barack's diminishing ability to garner

60 votes in the Senate. (Hey, Obama would be FDR right about now if the

filibuster rule had been changed to 55 votes.)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Regarding my music: I've said it before and I'll

say it again; if Bill Epps claims to have written even one

note or one word of any of my songs, he is a liar. And if

you believe such a false claim, you are a fool.

Epps didn't even have anything to do with writing any of the

now-scuttled "About Myself" album, which he did help to

finance. "About Myself," which included 52 songs composed solely

by me, was released on cassette tape in 2003/2004, when

I didn't even know Epps. Epps didn't hear the "About Myself"

album till 2005, after it had been released for an entire year.

When he heard it, he loved it and said, "I'll finance sessions

so you can put it on CD." And then I recorded the songs

on CD the exact same way I'd recorded them a year earlier

on cassette. No difference, compositionally. I wrote the

songs long before he came aboard the project as a financier.

And I haven't seen or talked with or communicated with

him for many years. He's been out of the picture for

a long time.


for Christmas 2010

It's Christmas, so let's remember those who were killed or

injured in Iraq, Afghanistan and on the set of "Spider-Man:

Turn Off the Dark."

But I digress. Paul



for December 20 - 22, 2010

Many thanks to KALX Radio and Marshall Stax for playing

my new song "SEVEN WORDS" a few hours ago on The Next

Big Thing! (12/20)

Meanwhile, a few other new tracks of mine have hit the

Soundclick alternative charts. Out of hundreds of

thousands of songs in that genre, here's where my songs


"They're Building a Mosque in My Mind": #69

"Seven Words": #73

"Shoot the Fascist": #145

"One More Dream": #162

* * * * *
* * * * *

Above, a cartoon I came up with the other day.

But I digress. Paul



for December 20, 2010

My short takes on some recent movies (more to come):

Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger"

This one ranks with Allen's very best post-"Bullets Over Broadway"

work, meaning alongside "Small Time Crooks," "Match Point"

and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."

The brilliance here is in a set of vivid interlocking

relationships and marvelously evolving characters, all

knowingly drawn. But Allen misses an opportunity to

make more of the subplot about the novelist

stealing a manuscript from a man he thought was dead but

was only in a coma. If he had developed that aspect, this

flick might've approached his all-time highest peak,

"Crimes and Misdemeanors."

There are bits of genius throughout: Naomi Watts getting

out of a car, where it's dark, to the street, where it's

lighter, though it's night; Watts in long earrings;

Josh Brolin looking through a window from a distance at the

woman he had just left; lines like, "He woke in the middle

of the night, pictured eternity, lay there in a cold sweat

and has not been able to get back to sleep since"; a character

who is better off talking to herself than to other

people, as the only people she currently has access to

are screwballs.

One of the ten best films of 2010. And this is coming

from someone who didn't like "Whatever Works."

* * * * *

Are The Beatles More Popular Than Jesus Christ?

A Google Search Finally Settles the Question.


Are The Beatles really more popular than Jesus Christ, as

John Lennon irreverently suggested back in 1966?

Thanks to the digital age and to Google, we can now know

for sure.

I recently Googled the search words "Jesus Christ" and

"The Beatles" (separately and with quotation marks)

and -- voila! -- discovered it's a very

tight race, almost a tie, with Jesus edging out the

Beatles by a mere million or so hits (out of

nearly 80 million).

To be fair to the The Fab Four, Jesus has had a couple

thousand years to attract fans, the Beatles only

around fifty years.

Here's the final tally:

JESUS CHRIST: 39,100,000
THE BEATLES: 37,600,000

I should note that The Beatles are more popular than the Prophet

Muhammad (who polled a surprisingly paltry 3,560,000 hits),

though all are dwarfed by Lady Gaga (139,000,000 hits), who is

more popular than everybody except God (with a staggering

427,000,000 hits).

But I digress. Paul



for December 19, 2010

Sorry and sad to hear about Captain Beefheart's death.

A major American artist, truly sui generis, is gone.



for December 15 - 17, 2010

Just found out my recent tune "They're Building a Mosque

in My Mind" has hit #69 on the Soundclick alternative charts

(out of hundreds of thousands of songs)! Check it out here

(along with even newer material):

* * * *

I have a long-time friend who dates back to my high

school years, and she really is a good pal,

though she has this awful habit of incompletely quoting

things I've said to her.

So, for example, if I were to tell her, say, that I

had a very bad experience drinking Lambrusco and won't

drink it anymore, she would go around saying, "Oh, Paul

hates wine -- he won't drink it anymore."

Not true. I love wine when the quality is great, or even

good, but don't like Lambrusco (the carbonation is terrible).

What she tends to do is leave out part of what I've said,

thereby changing the meaning radically in some cases.

An actual example: I once told her, while I was covering

high-profile legal cases for Reuters, that I was on the

sidelines of the legal profession. Meaning, of course, that

I was covering cases as a journalist, not trying them as

an attorney.

Well, lo and behold, suddenly it gets around that Paul

says he's on the sidelines in the professional world, which,

of course, was (and is) not true; when I spoke with her,

I was front and center in the journalism biz, covering major

stories as a writer and reporter.

Another example: she once asked me how I learned the tech

part of making my music albums. She knew that I had always

been a writer and songwriter, but she (rightly) never

thought I was much of a techie. Though I've been writing

songs since I was around eight years old, I didn't release

any of them on CD until the Oughties because I didn't know

how to use the equipment in a recording studio.

And I explained to her that a friend had given me a Roland

recorder (that he wasn't using anymore) as a gift. Before

giving me the Roland, he had, of course, erased everything

from its hard drive -- except two sample tracks (I think one

was called "Bad Daddy" and the other was titled "Somebody Up

There Likes Me").

Both were clearly failed and pretty horrible songs, but

they did show me (by example) how to set volume levels and

how to label tracks, which I didn't know how to do.

And so I told my friend that. But she has since distorted what

I said and has apparently told people that I once created

a song based on a track that had been left on the tape recorder.

Not true. Not true at all. Not true even once.

What is true, and what I told her, is that I learned how to

set volume levels by looking at the sample track he left

behind on the Roland. The music on the two music tracks

he left behind on the tape recorder was completely unusable,

embarrassingly bad, truth be told. But the tech info

that I learned from the tracks was valuable to me. So I

recorded over and erased both tracks as soon as I figured

out how to set the volume levels (hey, I needed

the hard drive space).

For the record: When I compose a song, I come up with

everything. Everything, including (but not limited to)

the initial concept and the stem riff to the finished

mix and everything in between, including the lyrics, the

music, the arrangements, the song intros, the song

outros, every damn one of 'em, no exceptions. There

is no part of any of my songs that has ever been

written or even suggested by someone else (though

I did once use ten words from a Grace Paley

short story in "Must Call Love" and used a

traditional folk melody for "You Won't Be Burying Me Now").

* * * * *

Horrifying footage of the shooting at the school board meeting

in Florida.

What are the lessons about personal safety to be learned from it?

Take it from me, someone who has been held up at gunpoint and

survived it without being physically injured. One survival

strategy is this: Act sort of crazy and unpredictable. Run away,

and run in a zig zag pattern. Though you cannot outrun a

bullet, you can outrun the ability of a gunman to shoot accurately.

The farther you are from a shooter, the greater

the chance that he or she will miss you. (Even trained marksmen

have trouble hitting targets that are too far away or moving.)

Everybody is applauding the way the school board members

handled the gunman. But, truth be told, they came around

a half an inch from not being successful -- or even alive.

Think about it: they obeyed the gunman's commands and yet

he shot at them anyway, barely missing a few of them.

An equally effective (if not better) strategy would have

been to disobey him and run for the exit, perhaps

distracting him first by throwing objects

at him and acting unpredictably. You say: he would

have shot them if they had done that. I say: he shot

them anyway; he just happened to miss.

My condolences to the victims; they'll be feeling the

psychological effects for at least a couple years.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- By the way, don't listen to armchair generals. Listen to

people (like me) who have actually had guns pointed at

them and survived.



for December 13 - 15, 2010

OK, folks, I've just written and recorded five brand

new songs and posted them here for your listening pleasure.

Just click here to listen!

The tracks (all written, performed and produced by Paul Iorio) are:

1. Seven Words
2. European Prep-School Freakout
3. Love in the Morning Sky
4. Shoot the Fascist
5. Trees Try to Rise Above Their Roots
6. Kiss Me Where Your Mouth Is
7. They're Building a Mosque in My Mind
8. One More Dream

[The songs in red are brand new (as of December 2010); the ones in black are from back in October 2010.
I'm self-releasing the tracks as an e.p. called "Seven Words."]

Seven Words
Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2010

When I was just a little boy
I was told the words you can't say
And I assured my teachers and priests
That I would surely obey

But when I find that in my mind
The words I need are not in line
Gotta say it as I find

There are seven words you cannot say


When I became a full grown man
I kept using words that were banned
They say, "I believe in diversity/
As long as everybody agrees with me"

But when I find that in my mind
The words I need are not in line
Gotta say it as I find

There are seven words you cannot say


There are seven words you cannot say

Let me walk you through it


There are seven words you cannot say

NOTES ON "SEVEN WORDS": Yes, it's about the seven words banned from the airwaves by the FCC. (But, rest assured, none of those forbidden words are in my song.)

* * * *

Music and Lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2010

European prep-school freak out
European prep-school freak out

She called the headmaster from Leipzig Station
Said her Rail Pass was all used up
Spent her last Euro on bad Chianti
Interpol wants her for a stolen Avanti

They saw her speedin' around Cortina d'Ampezzo

European prep-school freak out
European prep-school freak out

The baronessa says
You get yourself back here
Before you start makin headlines in
La Repubblica, Radio Luxembourg
She heard about the scandal on the BBC

BBC HD Lancashire (I hope you're proud of yourself)

European prep-school freak out
European prep-school freak out

They tried to catch her at the Uffizi
Chased her through the Caravaggio room
But she escaped to the Ponte Vecchio
Bought herself some leather on the way to The Tombs

There's a big Radiohead concert out there tonight

European prep-school freak out
European prep-school freak out
European prep-school freak out
European prep-school freak out

NOTES ON "EUROPEAN PREP-SCHOOL FREAKOUT": I came up with the title first and just had to build a song around it. It's the scandalous tale of a Euro-schoolgirl in disgrace!

* * * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2010

Love in the morning skyway
Blue and silver light
Love in the morning skyway
Not a cloud in sight

If we lived a thousand years
Nothing would be so special

If we lived a thousand years
Nothing would be so special

Love in the morning sky
Love in the morning sky

Love in the morning skyway
Blue and silver light
Love in the morning skyway
Not a cloud in sight

If we lived a thousand years
Nothing would be so special

If we lived a thousand years
Nothing would be so special

Love in the morning sky
Love in the morning sky
If we lived a thousand years
Love in the morning sky
If we lived a thousand years

Nothing would be so special
Love in the morning sky

If we lived a thousand years
Love in the morning sky

If we lived a thousand years
Love in the morning sky

If we lived a thousand years

Love in the morning sky
Love in the morning sky

NOTES ON "LOVE IN THE MORNING SKY': Ballad with a pretty melody that came to me while I was washing up in my bathroom one morning.

* * * *

[NOTE: Please do not mis-read this song and object
to it reflexively. There's a plot twist near the end
that shifts the meaning substantially.]

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2010

Shoot the fascist in the face
Shoot the fascist in the face
A tumor on the human race
Shoot the fascist in the face

Gestapo knocks and says it's only routine
Then they put you on a train to the gas machine

Shoot the fascist in the face
Shoot the fascist in the face

White sheets show up at the break of dawn
Trying to burn a cross on my front lawn

Shoot the fascist in the face
Shoot the fascist in the face

They have the nerve to outlaw sacrilege
The Third Reich is their lineage

Shoot the fascist in the face
Shoot the fascist in the face

Now they're trying to ban the Argentino tango
Hey, they just murdered Theo Van Gogh

Shoot the fascist in the face
Shoot the fascist in the face

Now someone's thinking I'm a fascist, too
They're tracking me down just like I did you

Shoot the fascist in the face
Shoot the fascist in the face
A tumor on the human race
Shoot the fascist in the face

Shoot the fascist in the face
Shoot the fascist in the face
A tumor on the human race
Shoot the fascist in the face

Shoot the fascist in the face
Shoot the fascist in the face
Shoot the fascist in the face
Shoot the fascist in the face

NOTES ON "SHOOT THE FASCIST": A "Beat on the Brat"-ish sort of song, about fighting Nazis past and present. But (as I mentioned) there's a plot twist near the end that shifts the meaning. (By the way, someone thinks I made a mistake singing, "Now they're trying to ban the Argentino Tango/Hey, they just shot Theo Van Gogh." Shouldn't that be the Argentina Tango?, he asks. The answer is no. I was playing off the title of the famous Broadway musical "Tango Argentino," but
apparently some aren't catching the reference.)

* * * &

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2010

One more dream till the snooze button hits
One more dream till I'm flyin' over it
One more dream and the fantasy fits
One more, one more dream
One more, one dream

I don't wanna die
But I know that I'll die
I just wanna dream
And I know when I dream
it just seems

Life happens between dreams

And I know when I dream that it seems

One more dream till the snooze button hits
One more dream till I'm flyin' over it
One more dream and the fantasy fits
One more, one more dream
One more, one dream

I just wanna fly
'Cause I know I can't fly
I just wanna soar
To the place where the earth starts to curve

And everything turns round

Cause I know when I dream that it seems

One more dream till the snooze button hits
One more dream till I'm flyin' over it
One more dream and the fantasy fits
One more, one more dream

One more, one more dream
One more, one more dream
One more, one more dream

I wrote this in November 2010, though the chorus dates back to around 2003, About how "life happens between dreams."



for December 10, 2010

"7even Words" is Coming!

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Regarding one of my brand new songs, "Shoot

the Fascist," someone thinks I made a mistake

singing, "Now they're trying to ban the Argentino

Tango/Hey, they just shot Theo Van Gogh."

Shouldn't that be the Argentina Tango?, he asks.

The answer is no. I was playing off the title of the

famous Broadway musical "Tango Argentino" (but

apparently some aren't catching the reference).



for December 9, 2010

Here're a few photos I shot in the Bay Area in the last few days

(and months):

Rabbis lighting the Menorah in Union Square, San Francisco, last week under the watchful eyes of the Beatles. [photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Shadows and streams in Golden Gate Park.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

A sign with a confused message.
[photo by Paul Iorio]



for December 6, 2010

That Monday Night on the Upper West Side.

I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for years

in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, but one night

was more indelibly traumatic than the others.

It was a Monday and I stepped out of my apartment

on West 74th at around 10:40 p.m. for a late-night

cup of coffee before bed and the Johnny Carson


When I arrived at the coffee shop, the young women

behind the counter were talking frantically, and one

of them blurted out, "Someone shot John Lennon."

And I said something like, "Aw, c'mon," thinking she

was joking. And then another woman said, "John Lennon just

died at the Dakota." I said something like "Forget the coffee" and

started running down Broadway toward West 72nd Street

and then west toward Central Park West and the Dakota.

It was just before 11 p.m. on December 8, 1980.

As I got closer and closer to the Dakota, I could see the

crowd at the end of 72nd Street growing bigger and bigger,

expanding dramatically like a spillage or a flood. When I

got there -- it was around 11:10 -- someone in the crowd

said Yoko Ono had just gone to Roosevelt Hospital.

Meanwhile, the police were blocking the south entrance

to the Dakota, the scene of the crime. And people

in tears and with boomboxes started playing Beatles songs

and Lennon songs in the street, now blocked to traffic (as I

recall). I stayed out there for more than an hour.

After a while, it felt like I was part of a crowd that was

waiting to catch a glimpse of a celebrity who was about

to emerge from the apartment house. Except we were really

waiting for no one, as the person we'd come to

honor was gone.

I had to be at work at nine the next morning, so

I walked home just before 1 a.m., turned on WNEW-FM, where DJ

Vin Scelsa was helping everyone through the night with Lennon

music and talk, went to bed and cried as if a beloved relative

had been killed.

And I was late to work the next morning and didn't really get over

Lennon's murder until -- actually, I've never really fully gotten

over it.



for November 29, 2010

Pakistan, Our Friend, Is Protecting Bin Laden.

We've Got a Million Friends.


One of the most revealing bits in this year's WikiLeaks

leaks is that Osama bin Laden is alive, well and on the border in

the FATAs, hanging openly with religulous buds from

his glory days fighting them thar godless Soviets in the 1980s.

Or at least that was the case in 2006.

At regular meetings in '06 were bin Laden, one-eyed Mullah Omar

and one-legged Mullah Dadullah, now dead. And Mullah Baradar,

who Osama's not seeing anymore, because the Pakistanis

caught him several months ago -- a big catch. (And then,

in recent weeks, they inexplicably freed him. Whassup

with that?)

They caught Baradar in a crowded part of crowded Karachi.

And logic says that where Barader was, bin Laden is.

Not in the FATAs.

So has bin Laden moved since '06 or has the old gang split up?

Whatever the case, the WikiLeaks docs do solve the mystery

of whether he's alive and in Pakistan. And it puts to

rest theories about Chitral.

A bit of informed speculation. My intuition tells me this:

Obama (or one of his people) contacted Zardari (or one of his people)

weeks before the November congressional elections and said,

"Hey, our intelligence says the ISI knows where bin Laden is.

Can you help us go in for the kill?'

And Zardari -- knowing full well the ISI is protecting bin Laden in

return for al Qaeda/Taliban's help in Kashmir -- played dumb,

saying he has no such intelligence, doesn't know where he is.

Obama (or his rep) gets off the phone, pissed. "Get me the prime minister

of India on the phone," Obama says to his assistant. "I want to

schedule a visit to Mumbai right after the election."

Obama, meanwhile, fumes. This is what $12 billion in aid gets me?

Zardari knows damn well where Osama is, Obama thinks.

Zardari could kill him in a flash, if he were so motivated,

and bring this chapter to a close. And he pretends he's a friend.

Some friend. I've got a million friends.

My retaliation, Obama thinks, is: I'm gonna plant a huge

kiss on prime minister Singh, Zardari's arch-rival. I'm

even gonna stay at the hotel Pakistani militants attacked

last year. And I'm gonna recommend India for a spot on

the Security Council. That'll fix his whistle.

But instead of angering Zardari, Obama set off Hu Jintao,

who loosened the leash on Kim Jong-il. But that's another story.

The thing to remember is Osama and his pals are

crippled vets of Mujahideen battles. They need

access to the sorts of medical equipment and medicine

available only in the vicinity of big city hospitals

and metro medical centers. Not that they have ever

checked into Karachi General, of course. But

they do occasionally need things like parts

for a portable home dialysis machine. And

there are plenty of jihad-friendly medical

pros associated with centers in Karachi,

Islamabad and Peshawar who can get them

what they want.

The Chitral theory was always, obviously bullshit.

* * * *

"When I roll on my back, I fully expect humans to understand exactly what I'm trying to express about territoriality."


But I digress. Paul



for November 28, 2010

One of the Best Films of 2010 Has Been Almost Completely
Overlooked by Critics

It's Called "My Own Love Song."

Every few years one hears about a worthy film that almost

didn't get a theatrical release and nearly went straight to

DVD, but instead opened in theaters and went on to sweep the


And it leaves one wondering how many terrific films out there

don't get saved at the last minute and end up going directly

to DVD without anyone ever seeing them.

This weekend I saw a flick that I think falls in the

category of criminally neglected by critics and bizzers.

It's called "My Own Love Song," starring Renee Zellweger

in a raw role that should earn her a best actress Oscar

nomination, and hasn't been released in the U.S. (except

for a stint last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival),

though it has hit theaters in France.

It's sort of like a 1980s John Sayles movie, like a cross

between "Passion Fish" and a late-period Bob Dylan song.

(The soundtrack, by the way, is packed with Dylan tunes.)

And is that Zellweger singing in the film? If so, she has a

substantial talent as a vocalist (and is wayy better than

Gwyneth Paltrow, that's for sure!). Check out her performance

of Woody Guthrie's "This Land" in the film; it will take

you by surprise.

Whoever made the bad decision to roll this flick out strictly

as a video-only release should rescind that decision immediately

and release it in theaters in time for Oscar consideration.

Not a perfect film, but it's on my top ten list for the year.

(Available on DVD next month in the U.S.)

But I digress. Paul



for November 27, 2010

"I shouted 'Allahu Akbar' before my foiled attack, but Allah said, 'Flattery will get you nowhere.' And I was quickly busted by the JTTF."


But I digress. Paul



for November 25, 2010

Regarding this Sunday's exercises in disputed waters of

the Yellow Sea: I'm guessing Obama is thinking very loosely

along the lines of having a sort of Cuban Missile Crisis

moment of high-rollin' triumph (triumph, in this context,

means the USS George Washington doesn't get fired on).

Incidentally, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred around 20 months

into JFK's presidency; this is happening around 22 months

into Obama's. (The frequently prescient Joe Biden had it right

(again) when he said in '08: "Remember I said it standing here,

if you don't remember anything else I said: Watch, we're

gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to

test the mettle of this guy.")

Unfortunately, Kim ain't Castro. Kim's a paranoid who has built

much of his country's infrastructure deep underground in

anticipation of the day when the U.S. decides to bomb it.

(Even Pyongyang's subway system is built deeper in the

ground than any other Metro in the world.) Kim

is way more Hoxha than Fidel.

Meanwhile, President Hu thinks he has sized up Obama. Hu thinks

Obama was elected by American teenyboppers. Hu thinks he has

no taste for blood. Hu also has a tendency to let crises get out

of hand (see: Tibet in '89, SARS in '03).

Also, Lee Myung-bak would lose all popular support (and

his job) if he didn't retaliate in some way to the DPRK

attack. Sending ships to the Yellow Sea in a joint action

is the least he can do.

So the Naval exercises are very necessary, though we have to be

fully aware of the possible horrific consequences.

My guess is Sunday will be peaceful. Hu will tell Kim to be a good

boy, and he will. But there's no telling what a loose cannon on a

DPRK ship might do.

Me, I'm sort of queasy that Kim has Taepodongs that can

apparently reach San Francisco. That's 15 miles from me.

So if I see a flash of blinding white light from the west

this weekend, I'll blog ya.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Try to imagine these chess moves:

the DPRK sinks or shoots at the George Washington;

the U.S., after quick diplomatic and U.N. consultation, bombs

Kim's compound in Pyongyang; Kim then turns Seoul into a

"sea of flame," as he has repeatedly threatened; we

knock out the DPRK government. (And the PRC screams,

why did the U.S. ignore our Security Council veto?)

And then what? Assuming we're able to topple

Kim's regime -- a big assumption -- then what?

Would we install a Karzai in Pyongyang? Do you think

for an instant that the PRC would allow a U.S.

puppet regime to be established at its border?



for November 23, 2010

Hu is Behind North Korea's Aggression?

My theory is that North Korea doesn't do anything Beijing

doesn't want it to do.

Obama's recent trip to India probably angered President Hu,

particularly the bit about watering down the PRC's role on

the Security Council. Hu could not have been pleased with

the fact that Obama was implicitly (and explicitly) siding

with India against China on issues that have been outstanding

between the two for years.

So, in retaliation, Hu signals to Kim Jong-il that

the handcuffs are off, that he can go ahead and settle some

of his own scores with the south. (Hu is sort of like

a pace car to Kim, and right now he's allowing dangerously

high speeds on the track.)

Welcome back to the era of the proxy war!

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- There's always a lot of talk about Juche in Pyongyang,

but, truth is, without the PRC, the DPRK, even with Yongbyon,

would be vulnerable, fairly easy to topple.



for November 21 - 23, 2010

The other day someone was wondering whether she could see the

complete credits for the one hundred and fifty-plus

original songs that I've released in recent years.

Sure, that's easy: all songs were composed, performed and

produced by Paul Iorio. Period. (Oh, and the registered

copyrights belong to Paul Iorio, too!)

I should mention that in '05, I briefly tried an outside

producer for around 52 of my songs, but the producer

didn't do what he agreed to do (he didn't fix audio

errors that he said he'd fix, he didn't fade out

parts that he said he'd fade, etc.). So I canned him,

though he remains a financial investor by dint of the

fact that he put up the money for those

now-scuttled early sessions.

Also, the songs on my released aolbums are not evolving works.

They are finished works -- and the best versions are now parked

with the Library of Congress. (They do evolve radically while I'm

creating them, but that's another story.) And, unless Rick

Rubin or the London Symphony Orchestra or Elvis Costello want

to collaborate -- an unlikely possibility -- the songs on "130

Songs" (and the 2010 releases) will not be re-recorded.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- My friend also noted that the melody of my recent

song "Trees Try to Rise Above Their Roots" came to me

in my sleep and she wondered what other tracks originated

that way. The answer: several of my songs started

when the melody or the melody and lyrics were running

around in my head when I woke up. The music and lyrics

of the chorus of last year's "Something in the Sky" was

in my mind when I woke up one morning. And the melody of

"Endgame" came to me in my sleep. And the chorus of

'07's "Dontcha Sleep" was screaming in my head when I

woke up one morning. Those are the most notable examples,

but there are others. (It's always magical to me when

a song bubbles up directly from the unconscious!)

P.S. -- By the way, my latest batch of songs -- which

I've released online as an e.p. called "Taboo" -- has

staying power, it seems. I haven't really been actively

promoting it, yet it's attracting a steady stream of

listeners, many of them in nations where I've not yet

sent the album.

Tracking data shows where in the world people are

listening to the online edition of "Taboo." Here's the

list, in descending order:

1. The U.S.
2. Slovenia
3. The Netherlands
4. Russia
5. France
6. Germany
7. Pakistan
8. The U.K.
9. Poland
10. Israel

OK, a couple observations/questions. First, do other

singer-songwriters out there have listeners in

both Pakistan and in Israel? (That's some

neat trick, no?) Second, I wouldn't have guessed that

I have more listeners in Russia than

in the U.K. Third: I'm flattered people in

Slovenia, where I know no one, seem to be

connecting with my stuff (Slovenia is a physically

beautiful place, by the way; I traveled through there on

my way to Istanbul decades ago). Fourth,

I wonder what particular track is driving traffic

to the site. (My guess is "They're

Building a Mosque in my Mind" is the main

draw. For the record, Marshall Stax at KALX

Radio was the first person to play that song --

many thanks to him.)

And fifth: my sincere thanks to everyone who has checked

out my website and album. I really do appreciate

that some people are connecting with my songs (which

is why, for now, I'm putting it out there free

of charge). Just click here to listen:

Here's "TABOO":

* * * *

P.S. -- On another subject, have you heard about

the new jihadist magazine Inspire? Here's my take

on it:

Al-Malahem Media of Yemen presents
a new jihadist magazine for English-speaking readers:

p e r s p i r e

you can smell it coming

"I prefer the paper version of Inspire magazine,
because it's too difficult to poop on the PDF!"

* * * *

P.S. -- It never ceases to amaze me how very smart people

can sometimes act so incredibly stupid.

Whenever I fly on an airliner, I can see (just by

eyeballing the passengers) that at least 70% of

them pose no security threat whatsoever. Oh, there's

the sweet grannie from Oshkosh, on her way to see

her favorite nephew. There's the frazzled

suburban dad, camera around his neck, with two kids

fighting in the side seats. There's a business

traveler talking loudly about his latest accomplishment

in the back row.

To the TSA and the regulators: aren't you perceptive

enough to size people up? You can save a lot of time, grief,

money and misery if you just focused on the twenty or

thirty percent of the passengers who seem to not fit

into easy categories.

To which the p.c. crowd says: then the terrorists will

simply don blonde wigs and put on blue contact lenses

and pose as Swedes. To which I say: you said the exact

same thing after 9/11, too. And, nine years later, name

one example of a terrorist or attempted terrorist who put

on a disguise to mask his or her ethnic identity. If recent

history has taught us anything, it's that the jihadists

generally hide in plain sight, even when they're trying

to set their underwear on fire. (It's safer that way,

because security people bend over backwards to show how

unbiased toward Muslims they are. And hence they

give less scrutiny to the Nidal Hasans of the world.)

I think it's safe to say that every single jihadist who has been

caught trying to commit a violent act in the last decade has

looked exactly like...the stereotype of a jihadist! (The

only exception I can think of is Jihad Jane.)

One of the things that's really pissing people off

about the pat-downs is this: the security measures

appear to be a display by p.c. people in the U.S.

government to show, first and foremost, that we treat

everyone the same and do not single out Muslims

(even though the jihadists we're looking for are

from the Muslim community). That seems to be a

higher priority by some in the government than

efficiently finding the next Mohamed Atta. (These

pat-downs, after all, are about only one thing: catching

jihadists -- jihadists planning violence on airplanes.

We're not looking for Shinto extremists.)

Truth is, catching a criminal is never about treating

everyone equally. If witnesses to a shooting say the

gunman spoke in broken English, then that narrows

the search considerably. We can rule out those

who are articulate in English. And in finding the next

jihadist bomber, we know, within a range, who might or

might not be a suspect.

* * * *

P.S. -- Someone asked the other day whether my c.v. includes

every job I ever took in my life. The answer: it lists the

jobs of significant duration (say, for a year or

longer). And when I list, say, a one-off

feature story that I wrote for a magazine in, say,

October 1994, keep in mind that some of those features

represent a year or more of reporting, research and writing

on my part.

However, it would be literally impossible for me to list all the

part-time jobs of the 1980s and early Nineties that lasted only a

few days or a few weeks (or a few hours, in some

cases) -- jobs that I took solely in order

to pay, say, a phone or electric bill in the Eighties or

early Nineties. (Unlike some other freelance journalists,

I wasn't backed by a trust fund (though I wasn't above

borrowing now and then), I lived on what I earned in

those days, for the most part. (What a concept!)) And unlike

journalists who supplemented their freelance income by earning

paychecks from the very companies that they were covering, I

always made sure I earned my extra income in a field unrelated to my

reportage. (Typical examples of the 1980s/1990s side-jobs

I'm referring to include writing ad copy for ad agencies,

doing editing work for corporate publications,. etc.)

During the years in which I held staff writing positions

at such publications as Cash Box magazine and the San Francisco

Chronicle, I did no other work for anyone else and earned

no income elsewhere.



for November 19, 2010

Did He or Didn't He Whip It Out?
Solving the Mystery of the Doors's Infamous Miami Concert

My Previously Unpublished Interview with the Doors's Manzarek and Densmore

By Paul Iorio

If the concert had happened today, it would be all over YouTube.

But it happened in 1969, before the invention of cellphone cameras

and the Internet, so there's no video that shows whether or not

Jim Morrison actually whipped out his penis on stage during

a Doors concert at the Key Dinner Theater in Miami, Florida, on

March 1st of that year.

Whether he did or not has always been a subject of hot dispute.

In Florida, in 1970, a judge ruled that Morrison had and was

therefore guilty of indecent exposure and profanity.

Forty-one years later, the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, is

seriously considering granting Morrison a posthumous pardon.

Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and other bandmates have

always contended that Morrison never exposed himself and merely

threatened to do so.

But Manzarek and Co. have rarely defended Morrison as vividly or

loquaciously as they did in my exclusive (and completely unpublished) interview

with Manzarek and drummer John Densmore (a rare joint

interview nowadays, as Densmore and Manzarek are

essentially estranged).

I conducted the audiotaped interview at Elektra Records

in Manhattan in May 1987. A the time I was a staff

writer/reporter for Cash Box magazine's New York

bureau. But I never got around to using the Q&A in

a story.

Present at the Q&A were Manzarek, Densmore,

me and my tape recorder. And here's what they said:


JOHN DENSMORE: Where Jim whipped it out and tripped [laughs].

RAY MANZAREK: He fell on it. Well, he could. The tool was long enough.
It was difficult. He had to shove it down his pants leg.

DENSMORE: He had to fold it over, didn't he? [laughs]

MANZAREK: Sometimes he did and sometimes he just let it hang there. See,
Miami was a religious hallucination. The exposure, to my knowledge, never actually
took place, but he told the audience he was going to do it and he baited the audience
and kept telling them he was going to expose himself. And he held his shirt in front
of his crotch and kept using it as a bullfighter's cape, pulling it off to the side.
And then he'd quickly cover himself,. And he said, "I'm going to show it, I'm
going to show it , watch, watch, watch."

And then he pulled his shirt aside and pulled it back. That's what I
remember. I never remembered him actually doing it. I thought,
He's pulling a number on the audience. But the southern audience,
his home state of Florida, they saw the snake, they saw snakes, lizards.
The Doors came as the kings of acid rock, the kings of orgasmic rock,
all those funny titles. I think he hypnotized 15,000 people into believing
he did it

DENSMORE: Certainly these psychedelic Christians that attended the
trial and stood outside and accosted us saying, "He did it!".

MANZAREK: Yeah, I'll never forget that


MANZAREK: Boy, we were right there, man. We didn't see it. I didn't see it.
Maybe he did. If he did, it sure was quick.

DENSMORE: He certainly didn't simulate oral copulation on the guitar player
and lavishly display his penis, as they charged him with.

* * * *

The two Doors also talked about other subjects, and here are excerpts:


DENSMORE: We thought about it and we actually jammed with a few guys
and then we thought , Gee, replacing Jim, what a burden for whoever
it is. So Ray [Manzarek] had sang blues occasionally and so we
decided to continue with Ray singing and Robbie [Krieger]
singing a little bit. And after two albums of that, we kind of
musically were going in different directions and lamenting the
[death of Morrison], so we closed the doors,

* * * *


DENSMORE: ...Doom I could feel the last few years.


MANZAREK: Well, there was an awareness of death. Morrison was aware
of -- and I think we all should be aware of -- our own mortality.
Anything could happen to us at any moment...I almost got hit by
a taxi crossing the street, the guy was hauling ass. You're dead,
you're gone, man. You live, you die.

DENSMORE: And death not ends it.

MANZAREK And death doesn't end it either.


MANZAREK: [laughs] There's still footage in the Doors archives....

* * * *


MANZAREK: I was in Los Angeles at my breakfast table. A phone call
came in from our manager at the time, who said, Jim Morrison is
dead in Paris. I said, "Bullshit." At the time, Paul [McCartney] is
dead rumors were going around. Lots of people were sort of dying,
or [there were] rumors of their deaths. I didn't believe it at the
time. I had heard four or five other rumors of his death, so this
was just another rumor of Jim's death. So it didn't really upset
me in any way at the time.

And the guy said. "I think this is serious." And I said, well, I'm not
about to fly to Paris to check out some rumor, I don't believe it,
anyway. He said, "I've got a twelve o'clock flight to Paris," he
flew to Paris. Fine, go ahead, check it out. Call me back. About
two days, three days later, he said, "We buried a coffin, and
Jim Morrison was in that coffin, and he's now buried and dead...."
I said to the guy, "He's dead, you buried him?" He said, "Yes."
I said, "How did he die?" He said, "Well, it 's all in French,
I can't read it. Something about his heart stopped." "Well, how
did he look?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "What do you mean
you don't know?" He said, "I never saw the was a sealed
coffin." I said, "You mean you put a sealed coffin in the ground?"
He said, "Yeah but Jim was in there." I said, "Are you sure Jim was in there." "Yeah." "Well, how do you know?" "I know he was in there?"
"Did you see him?" "I didn't see him." And that's the story
from my perspective.


MANZAREK: It's possible, it's possible. I doubt it. French death
certificate, pay off an Algerian doctor a couple thousand dollars
to sign it, put a hundred and fifty pounds of sand or bricks in
a coffin and put it in the ground. It's possible. I don't think
so. But it's sure is strange. And there were a lot of strange
circumstances around his death. And the whole thing with never
seeing his body. I never saw Jim Morrsion dead. Last time I saw
Jim Morrison was in March in Los Angeles, and he said, "I'm
going to Paris," and I said, "Great, God bless, go, have a
good time, write, relax, take it easy, take as much time as you
want...and call the muse back, get back to being a poet again."
And that's what he was going to do. And that's the last I ever
saw of Jim Morrison.


DENSMORE: I think it was at our office. This was several days
after [their former manager] had gone to Paris and called
Ray back., So I remember I came up the stairs and Robbie
[Krieger] said, "Jim is dead." And I sat down and sort of
[groans]... .I don't know, the last few years, [Morrison]
was pretty tortured. I was kind of relieved for him in a
way...As I said, he came in with some [demons].

* * * * * *

First-Hand Memories of the Cultural Divide

The New York Times ran an interesting article

on the Morrison pardon the other day that even quoted the

now-forgotten governor at the time, Claude Kirk, a name that

took me back to my own childhood, part of which took

place in the Sunshine State.

Though Florida, in the twilight of segregation, never really

produced a politician as odious as Lester Maddox or George

Wallace -- the liberal waters around Miami would always cool

things down -- it did create plenty of "law-and-order"

conservatives, including Claude Kirk (and very local

variants like Malcolm Beard).

Keep in mind that before the phrase "law and order" became

indelibly associated with a popular TV series, it was

the rallying cry of right-wingers in America in the

Sixties -- and was another way of saying, suppress the blacks

and liberals who were protesting oppressive policies.

(Today, the conservative mantra is "lower taxes"; back

then, it was "law and order.")

I was involved in politics to an extraordinary degree at a very

young age in that era; at age nine, one of my favorite books in the

sixth grade was a slim volume by Abe Fortas, and I understood

it perfectly. As a kid, I really admired Robert King High,

Kirk's Democratic opponent in the '66 gubernatorial election.

Some of my other state-wide heroes at the time were LeRoy

Collins, who took brave stands on integration when many others

wouldn't; and Sam Gibbons, a centrist-progressive who

owned Tampa's congressional seat for decades.

And at the family dinner table, between 1968 (when I was 10) and

1974 (when I was 17 and about to leave for college), my

father and I use to have very lively political debates. Mind

you, he was politically progressive (and so was I) but he and I both

loved to debate, and we did so freuently. During those dinnertale

discussions, my younger sister would listen intently and silently,

my older brother would add something occasionally. But mostly

it was dad and me.

Kirk was elected three years before the infamous Doors

concert in Miami, but the cultural wars were already

brewing, stirred up by the election of Nixon in '68, the

escalation of the Vietnam War and Nixon's hardline

tactics against dissidents.

In early '68, I remember seeing the first Nixon billboard

on a highway: "Mile After Mile, Nixon's the One"

was the first billboard I saw -- and it looked like an ad for

low-grade gasoline. (In retrospect, one can see how

paranoia permeated even Nixon's main slogan -- "Nixon's

the one" -- which was worded as if Nixon were being

singled out. His slogan sounded almost like an accusation.

But I digress.)

It's important to remember that in the mid-to-late-Sixties,

the cultural divide was very, very real. There were those

who were listening to the Beatles and the Doors and

the Stones and Dylan, and there was a vast "silent majority," who

listened to the Ray Coniff Singers.

That divide grew into a serious fracture by the time

of the Doors show and the Decency Rallies

that followed (complete with the anti-gay Anita Bryant,

who sort of came off like Michele Bachmann, chirping

"Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree").

Jim Morrison, who grew up in the Sunshine State, became a

flashpoint and was suddenly being threatened by the local

authorities in the same way that he (and every other Florida kid)

had been threatened when he was younger ("You're gonna end up

in Raiford, boy," they'd say). ("Raiford," by the way, was the

most fearsome word in the Florida lexicon to young people at

the time; teachers, preachers and other adults would always

mention Raiford -- meaning Raiford State Prison,

Florida's Gitmo, sort of -- to strike sheer terror in

rebellious teens.)

So here was Morrison, who had escaped Florida and gravitated to

UCLA and L.A. in fabulous style, finding himself -- even in

superstardom -- still threatened with "Raiford" by the

good ol' boys of the Old Country. No wonder he went to Paris.

My drawing of Robert King High, Claude Kirk's
opponent, 1966 (when I was eight years old).

* * * *

The halls of the elementary school (Riverhills)
that I attended in the 1960s (where I organized a
very successful cafeteria strike in '68 and led
other student protest actions). [By the way, one local
newspaper even referred to the strike decades afterwards,
but that's a factually inaccurate account. For the record,
I organized that strike from soup to nuts as 6th grade class
president and enlisted others to help -- and I was punished for
it, too!] 2010 photo.

* * * *

My elementary school of the Sixties. As I walked through
this walkway when I was 8, 9 and 10 years old (and those
support beams looked so gigantic at the time), I would be
thinking about: The Doors's "Love Me Two Times,"
"Hey Jude," everything the Beatles released, Tom Lehrer,
the super-Supremes, Ramparts magazine, the writings
of Abe Fortas, the latest episodes of "Get Smart," "The Monkees,"
"Laugh-in" and the twice-a-week "Batman" series (Zap! Pow! Why
is that one not on DVD yet?), plus Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden,
Eugene McCarthy, "Czech-cago," the latest issue of "Hit Parader"
(I loved that magazine; it even printed the lyrics of all
the new songs), "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Snoopy Versus the
Red Baron," "There's a Kind of Hush," "Dizzy" (clever dizzying
arrangement, that one), the Rascals, the 1910 Fruitgum Company,
every hit by The Turtles, Sen. Everett Dirksen singing "Wild Thing,"
the depressing hits of the Bee Gees ("New York Mining
Disaster" and "Gotta Get a Message to You" made me so
sad as a kid), the Mamas and the Papas, Julian Bond for
President, Abe Fortas and how weird Nixon was.
[Bob Dylan's music was massively influential to me, but I
didn't start loving it until I was 15, when "Tangled Up in Blue"
flew into by bedroom like a great bird. (I first heeard
"Rainy Day Women" when i was around ten, and I thought
it was a recording of a really fun street parade.)
Also, Hit Parader was supplanted on my reading list
by Rolling Stone magazine when I became a teen.]
2010 photo.

* * * *

The suburban house in which I grew up
in the 1960s. (This is a 2010 photo. The place
looked much better 45 years ago! And the next
place I lived in was a villa in the hills of Florence,
Italy, a couple blocks from Lord Acton's Florentine
home. What a contrast!) In the living room, I first
heard "Strange Days" when I was 9 or 10 -- also where
I first heard the Beatles's white album on the
day of its release (a neighborhood DJ brought
it by and we gathered around as if it were
the monolith in "2001"). Other reflections:
I was climbing the tree to the left when I
first heard the song "Let It Be." Rolling Stones
fans were mostly the older boys in the
neighborhood who had already sprouted facial hair.
I would listen ceaselessly to the progressive AM
radio station WFSO in the bedroom to the left.
I watched the Doors on "Ed Sullivan" in the den
on the right. In the backyard, when I was
9 and 10, I'd write political speeches and deliver them
atop the garbage can in the backyard, usually with
only my sister in the "audience."

But I digress. Paul



for November 14 - 15, 2010

* * * *

"In a double-blind test, 'The Koran' tasted exactly
like 'The Torah.'"

* * * *

Previously Unseen Beatles Photos Released

Photographer Shot the Beatles the Day Before The Band Recorded "Hey Jude"

By Paul Iorio

Photographer Stephen Goldblatt, narrating
a slide show of his previously unreleased
Beatles photos, on Friday night at the
University of California, Berkeley.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

He has smoked weed with The Beatles. He was with

Jimi Hendrix two days before he died. He calls

George Harrison "paranoid." He says Paul was

clearly the Beatles's leader during the white

album period. And his favorite Beatle is Ringo.

And -- I almost forgot -- he also has a stash of primo photos of

the Beatles (shot the day before the Fab Four

began studio sessions to record "Hey Jude") that

he didn't bother to release until earlier this

month, over four decades after the shoot.

The man is Stephen Goldblatt, a photographer and

Oscar-nominated cinematographer who was lucky enough

to have accompanied the Beatles around London on

July 28, 1968.

Goldblatt shot up 23 rolls of film that day but didn't

release his pics until this month; 25 are on display at

a gallery at the University of California, Berkeley, and

another 75 can be seen in a new limited-edition book from


To kick off the Fab Four photo exhibition, Goldblatt

narrated a slideshow at a campus auditorium

that was overflowing with Berkeley Beatlemaniacs last


When someone in the audience asked why he hadn't released the

photos before and "bought an island in the South Pacific

with the proceeds," Goldblatt replied: "I think you overestimate

the value of the pictures."

"I never kept them particularly hidden," he added. "I just

wasn't marketing them."

The picture that people remarked upon most at the

gallery was an eerily prescient shot of

John Lennon lying on the ground, as if mortally wounded,

while the other band members gathered around him.

Other photos show Starr wearing sunglasses and looking like

a classic movie star; the four at a fence with schoolchildren

(who were told not to stare at the band during the shoot);

a bare-chested McCartney in chains (one hot-looking woman

looked visibly turned on by the shot); and a pic of Lennon

and Yoko Ono, looking very '68.

At the time of the shoot, on July 28, 1968, the Beatles were

in the middle of recording the white album in sessions that

sprawled over almost five months.

But two months into the sessions, Paul McCartney came up

with "Hey Jude," which the band immediately

recorded and released as a non-album single.

(One of Goldblatt's photos shows McCartney playing

the piano as the others sing along to "Hey Jude.")

Shortly after the shoot, he gave up still photography

for years to became a cinematographer -- and a successful

one at that. He went on to earn two Oscar nominations (for

his work on "The Prince of Tides" and "Batman Forever").

"Cinematography is collaborative," he said. "Which is why I like

it. Still photography -- which is why I left it -- is so isolated,"

he said to the standing-room-only crowd, all on hand to see his


* * * *

Perhaps the most talked-about photo of the
Goldblatt exhibition, this one shows John
Lennon lying on the ground as if mortally wounded.
[photo of Goldblatt photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Ringo Starr, looking very Hollywoodish.
[photo of Goldblatt photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

"Mad Day Out," an exhibition of 25 previously unseen photos of
The Beatles by Stephen Goldblatt, can be seen at North Gate
Hall on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley,
through January 18, 2011.

But I digress. Paul



for November 12, 2010

Waterboarding, the New Craze, Coming to
DVD, a Book Store and a Music Shop Near You!

When "The Expendables" is released on DVD on November

23rd, waterboarding will also be coming to video

players nationwide. That's because the action flick,

starring Sylvester Stallone, who also directed and

co-wrote it, has the distinction of being the first

major feature film (that I know of) to vividly dramatize

waterboarding on the big screen.

But if that doesn't satisfy your waterboarding jones,

you can always head to the bookstore, where former

president George W. Bush's newly-released memoir,

"Decision Points" (Crown), offers a full-throated

endorsement of the torture. Bush calls it

"highly effective" and says "it was the right thing to do."

Or you can watch the ex-president on numerous television

news programs, proudly talking up the virtues of 'boarding.

And if you're still hankering for more of the wet stuff,

try a music shop, where a three-minute instrumental ditty

called "Waterboard" is available on "'The Expendables':

the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" album.

Has the fall of '10 become the season of 'boarding?

(One wonders how long it will be before some celebrity

appears on "Oprah" or "The View" telling of a new

kind of abuse ("Yes, it's true: father use to waterboard me

as a child...").)

But it's the scene in "The Expendables," one of the top 20

grossing films of '10, that truly provides a taste of the

torture. The sequence, largely overlooked in media coverage

of the actioner, starts when a character named Sandra

(Giselle Itié) is interrogated by her captors.

When Sandra refuses to answer, a thug drags her to a room and

flips on a light, as she freaks out, screams and struggles

to get away. They then hold her down on a wooden board, pull

a white towel tightly over her lower face and pour

a modest amount of an unidentified liquid -- water,

it turns out -- on her face and the towel. The camera

angle briefly sinks to her face level and we see

something like smoke or steam rise briefly, as the ringleader

(Eric Roberts) sits and calmly sips a cup of coffee.

The towel is lifted (her make-up remains surprisingly

untouched through all this!) and they interrogate her again.

She doesn't answer, so they waterboard her again.

But the way the sequence is set up, moviegoers are probably

somewhat relieved that the character is being splattered

with just water and not, say, caustic acid. Watching the

scene unfold, much of the horror of it, initially, lies

in the fact that the audience doesn't know what sort of liquid

is being used. The film makers sort of lead viewers to

believe that the sequence will be as horrific as the ones

in "Slumdog Millionaire" in which characters are deliberately

blinded by acid poured into their eyes.

In contrast to those nightmarish scenes in "Slumdog,"

waterboarding arguably looks a bit tame,

even harmless, leaving no permanent physical injury.

"The Expendables" is not the only film of 2010 that

shows scenes that appear to support or give voice

to those who advocate suspending civil liberties in the name of


A very different sort of picture, Roman Polanski's "The Ghost

Writer," draws a portrait of a Tony Blairish character

who, at the end, is persuasive in defense of his hard-line

policies on terrorism. At one point, contrasting two types of

airline flights, the former British prime minister (Adam Lang) says:

"On one flight, you infringe on no one's bloody

civil liberties, use no intelligence gained by torture.

And on the other flight, you do everything you possibly could to

make it perfectly safe. And then we'd see which plane the

Rykerts of this world would put their bloody kids on! And you can

put that in the book." (Lang is referring to Robert Rykert, a

government official who helped to bring war crimes charges against


Still, the center of anxiety in pop culture may be shifting,

if only slightly, from terrorism to the ongoing nuclear threat from

North Korea. In 2010, at least two feature films have focused

on Pyongyang as a source of global tension. In the opening

scenes of Phillip Noyce's "Salt," Angelina Jolie's character is

shown being tortured by Kim Jong-il's minions in a DPRK prison.

And in the final scene of the parody "The 41-Year Old Virgin

Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It,"

an actor playing Kim Jong-il lights the fuse of a nuclear missile

and laughs maniacally about it.

Interestingly, cinematic references to the attacks of 9/11 themselves

seem to be down this year. Even Oliver Stone's "Wall Street: Money

Never Sleeps" doesn't really mention or refer to Sepetember

11th, though most of the film takes place in the years after the

attacks and in the general neighborhood of Ground Zero.

But I digress, Paul



for November 12, 2010

What's with all those people at the CMA Awards the other night

thanking God in their acceptance speeches? Sheesh, for

a moment I thought I was watching the Christian Rock Awards.

How long before someone gives an acceptance speech like this:

"I'd like to thank God, Jesus Christ, the apostles,

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Mary and Joseph, can't

forget them, and a shout-out to Mary Magdalene, catch

you after the show, and, ket's see, Ezekiel, Erasmus,

Job (I hear her's had a tough year) -- wait, I ain't

finished yet -- the angel Gabriel, a shout out to all

the Archangels and all the sub-Archangels, y'all are just

sensational -- Cain and Abel, and here's hopin' you can

patch up your differences, and can't forget Abraham and

Issac, now livin' with the folks at Child Protective

Services these days, Moses (good luck with "Ten

Commandments, Part 2"), wait I'm not finished yet....

But I digress. Paul



for Novemnber 8, 2010

NOTE: If you are offended by the use of the word "ni**er" in
the following article, please address your objections to the
person quoted in my article: author and civil rights activist Dick Gregory,
who used the word at least 13 times in my interview with him.

Below, my story quotes from an interview I conducted with Gregory
on September 8, 2005. It is being published here for the
very first time.

N Hyphen Word

Dick Gregory Condemns the "N-Word," But Defends "Nigger."
(Two Separate Words.)

By Paul Iorio

By now, it's a familiar pattern. A celebrity -- like John Mayer

or radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger or actor

Michael Richards -- is caught using the word "nigger."

Activists like Al Sharpton predictably take umbrage and

retaliate with protests and boycotts.

The latest prominent person to have gotten himself in hot

water for using "nigger" is French perfumier Jean-Paul

Guerlain of the prominent perfume house Guerlain. Last

month, Guerlain, 73, appeared on French TV

to talk about how hard he worked to create a new perfume

called Samsara. "I worked like a nigger," said Guerlain.

"I don't know if niggers have always worked like that,

but anyway."

The outcry was immediate. Sharpton asked to meet with

French president Nicolas Sarkozy (no less) about the

slurs. Protesters picketed in front of a Guerlain

store on the Champs Elysees. Lawsuits have been

threatened. And Guerlain himself apologized.

It should be noted, but rarely is, that not everybody

in the progressive African-American community is

against the use of the word nigger. In fact, one

of the most prominent icons of Afrcan-American

pop culture and activism, Dick Gregory, vigorously

defends "nigger," uses it liberally and has even put

it in the title of at least two of his books.

In my exclusive (and completely unpublished) interview

with him, conducted on September 8, 2005, Gregory

used the word 13 times.

And his defense of the word is novel and persuasive.

First, he notes that the "n-word" and "nigger" are two

separate words with completely different etymologies

and origins. The "n-word" he claims, was born in

the mid-1990s, during the first O.J. Simpson

trial. "Nigger," of course, has been around for


"The word is nigger, nigger, nigger," said Gregory

in the interview. "And if that bothers any of you

black folks, then you need to go pray, cause there's

some nigger down inside of you. Because if I say,

'All you ho's in this room, stand up.' Anybody

[who] gets upset is a ho, 'cause I didn't call your name."

Gregory then took pains to distinguish the "n-word" from

"nigger." "The 'n-word' is an insult," said Gregory.

"...When white America invented the 'n-word,' it was

during the O.J. Simpson trial. And they changed [nigger]

to the n-word. Can you imagine the Germans, when

they got so upset with Hitler and what the Nazis did to

the Jews, they changed the word swastika to the s-word

and concentration camp to the c-word?"

Gregory warns about the dangers of erasing elements of

the historical record of seminal events. For instance,

Gregory was with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and

others in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on June 11, 1963, at

the moment when President Kennedy federalized the

Alabama National Guard. And he wants the factual

truth about that event preserved, with all its ugliness


"I was standing with Dr. King one day," said Gregory.

"We're all in line waiting for President Kennedy to

sign an executive order at twelve noon. When that

order was signed, he will federalize the National Guard.

And we will go across. The head of the Alabama State

Troopers, Al Lingo, looked at Dr. King, right in his

face and said: 'Nigger, when that nigger-lovin' president

signs this executive order and you walk across this line,

I'll blow your nigger brain's out.'"

"Now let me put it the way y'all want it today," continued

Gregory. "[Lingo] looked at Dr. King and said, 'N-word,

when that n-word-lovin' president signs this executive

order and you walk across this line, I'll blow your n-word

brains out.' See, y'all just destroyed history!"

As serious and thoughtful as Gregory was in this

interview, he also showed his characteristic

trenchant wit and humor. And like the stand-up comedian

he has been for decades, he was downright funny

("Professor Irwin Corey is so old....that he needed a

blood transfusion but they said they don't

carry that type no more") and aphoristic ("My second

language is profanity!").

And his insights were fresh and irreverent, as when

he talked about gays in the church. "When I came up,

the two strongest forces in the black church

were women and the gays. And now the black church wants

to make like: [aghast] 'The gays! Ohmygod! That's

a violation of God!' [laughs] They were the choir

director. They were the music director. They

was the organ player. [laughs heartily]."

And like the long-time feminist he has been for decades,

Gregory said: "Keep using the word nigger, but stop calling

my sister a bitch."

But I digress. Paul



for November 8, 2010

Last Saturday's Thievery Corporation and Massive Attack Shows

U.K. trip hoppers Massive Attack played Berkeley

(Calif.) last Saturday and made the place sound

like 3 a.m. in a blue light or a de Chirico dream.

Very evocative electronica, peaking at mid-set with

2003's "Future Proof," a bit redolent of Radiohead's

"Paranoid Android," and a double dose of "Mezzanine,"

the dream-like "Teardrop" and the title track. They

also played around half of their new album,

"Heligoland," ending with the "Everything In Its Right

Place"-ish "Atlas Air."

Opening, with a full set (which I heard from the hills

above the Greek Theater), were U.S. trip hoppers

Thievery Corporation, which combined a number of

genres in an engaging harmonious mix, merging funk

with Afro-pop and reggae and hard rock, lacing it all

with sitar and vocals very low in the mix.

A tour well worth catching for fans of


* * * *

Over the weekend, I finally got to see James Gray's

film "Two Lovers," which left me convinced Gray will

one day create a genuine masterpiece. But this is not

it, though it's a very good picture, if not quite as

great as his previous movie, "We Own the Night."

Set in an El neighborhood of Brooklyn, it stars Joaquin

Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow and, most significantly,

Vinessa Shaw, who is, frankly, as beautiful as any

woman on the planet (at least from most angles).

Her face has the impact of great pornography, her

cheekbones are like terrific architecture and

she is reflexively smart and refined, with a

nicely understated expressiveness.

In the movie, Phoenix, playing a dry cleaner in High Brando

style, has to choose between her and Paltrow. (No

wonder he went completely insane after making this

movie!) The plot can be summed up thusly:

Dry Cleaning Stud Torn Between Two Awesome Babes.

Unfortunately, it's hard to believe that women as

desirable as Paltrow and Shaw would go for a

manic-depressive, suicidal loser like Phoenix. And

the ending is sort of contrived, though

he does make the right choice in the end.

But I digress. Paul


for November 7, 2010

Getting God Horny Again

Conceptual artist Jonathon Keats in San Francisco last year.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

Let's face it: God hasn't created any new universes

lately. God's creativity is more a thing of the

past. (Truth be told, in the infinity prior to

the Big Bang, God was one supremely lazy mofo!)

God sort of binges on creativity. Like the Big Bang,

for example; one big burst of energy, then he

went to sleep and let things take their course, like

a Republican supply-sider, or so goes the

theory of theists.

Well, we all know (or should know) the God thing is

make-believe, but the concept is very fun to play

with, and that's exactly what conceptual artist

Jonathon Keats has done in his new work.

Keats wants to stimulate God again, give him some porn he can

use, stir his juices so he'll create more and better

universes (instead of the mere one universe

he created all those years ago). (Imagine God's

resume: "Big Bang to present -- created universe."

And??!! Also, Mr. God, can you account for your work history

before the Big Bang?)

Keats wants to become "God's pornographer." "I felt

sorry for God," Keats wrote in an email the other day.

"Monotheism must be lonely."

Keats' idea is this: he wants to use the Large Hadron

Collider to "titillate God with quarks and gluons."

And you can see Keats's porn for God at Louis V.E.S.P.

in Brooklyn from November 12 to 23.

But I digress. Paul



for November 6, 2010

It's Official: "Fair Game" is a Flop!

In what movie bizzers call the "specialty market" come two

new films this weekend in what they call "limited release":

the Valerie Plame story, starring Sean Penn ("Fair

Game"); and Danny Boyle's "127 Hours," in which

James Franco cuts his own arm off.

The numbers do not bode well at all for "Fair Game";

released initially in 46 theaters, it made a

pitiful $180,000 on its first day of release (yesterday).

By sharp contrast, Boyle's film, released in only

four -- that's four!-- theaters, made

around $80,000, nearly half of what "Fair Game"

made in almost 12 times the number of theaters.

Devastating to Penn & Co. But they should have seen this

failure coming. After all, nobody wants to see a flick

on the Iraq War. Period. Everyone agrees it was an

unnecessary conflict. Everyone agrees the U.S. went

in under false pretenses. Everyone agrees it was wrong

to out Plame.

Any dramatization of the Plame story lends itself

to very predictable outrage and very Manichean

moralizing. Sort of like telling the Mike Nifong

story. (I prefer tales with greater moral

complexity, in which good and evil are one.)

And juicing it up with fictional stuff just lowers

the value of the parts that are true. This is what

the folks at Summit should've been thinking before they

greenlighted the project.

* * * *

Speaking of failure, a publishing house (that will

remain nameless) just published a collection of the

newspaper writings of a former colleague (who shall

also remain nameless). When I heard the news, I thought:

there couldn't possibly be demand for this guy's

rather ordinary hack work. I looked it up

on Amazon and, sure enough, there's not. The book

has rocketed from number 167,127 to 167,125. Which

sounds about right. (And it even had the benefit

of a foreword by a bona fide genius, too!)

But I digress. Paul



for November 3, 2010

Jean-Luc Godard, filming the massive protests
in Paris during the so-called Days of Rage, May
13, 1968. [photo by Serge Hambourg]

The only scandalous thing about the Motion Picture

Academy's plan to honor Jean-Luc Godard at the Governors

Ball on November 13 is that...the Academy hadn't

honored Godard in previous years. Godard is one of the

all-time great film directors, or at least he was, and

it's a shame he didn't win the best director prize in

his prime.

As for the charge that he's anti-Semitic,

there's some evidence that he is and plenty of evidence

he's not. Even if he were, the Academy is not giving

him an award for being the director with the most

agreeable and pleasant lifestyle and opinions.

In any event, Godard isn't showing up on the 13th. And

I don't blame him.

* * * *

Can't wait for author Salman Rushdie's book about his

life under the Ayatollah's fatwa, which he's now

writing. I've always thought that's a tale he should

tell in vivid detail.

The Los Angeles Times also reports that Rushdie will

be appearing at the L.A. Public library on November

30 -- though the paper (rather incompletely) says:

Rushdie has returned to a more public life since 1998, when
the call for assassination was lifted. These days, he can
even undertake a traditional book tour.

The Times should also have noted that militant Muslims

still hate him intensely and want to kill him (just

take a look at various jihaidist websites).

And his books are still a provocation to fundamentalist

idiots. I can attest to that personally. I was nearly

violently assaulted at a library earlier this year

while quietly reading (at a remote desk) a dozen

or so books on and by Rushdie. And investigators

have agreed that that was the likely motive. (You oughta

see the security camera footage.) Disturbing


And it was surprising, too, because I had written and

published stories on Rushdie, some of them quite

daring, dating back to early 1989. And I'd never been

so much as intimidated by anyone religulous because of those


By the way, here's a piece I wrote and reported in

January 1996 about the Rushdie affair. For the

piece, I walked around Manhattan with a copy of

"The Satanic Verses" prominently displayed, visiting

both everyday places and locations where the book might

raise eyebrows and tempers. The idea was to see how provocative

the novel had become seven years after the fatwa. Here's

my report (which has never been published):

page one of manuscript (click to enlarge it)

* *

page two of manuscript (click to enlarge it)

* *

page three of manuscript (click to enlarge it)

* *

fourth and final page of manuscript (click to enlarge it)

* * * *

By the way, the L.A. Public Library, and libraries across

the nation, should take this opportunity to put signs on

their walls that read: "Please be tolerant of people reading

books with which you disagree."

* * * *

"I'm melting, I'm melting!!"

But I digress. Paul

[above, photo from]

P.S. -- So how did I fare with my predictions about

the competitive Senate races (see below)? Not bad.

I guessed eight of the nine winners (I was wrong

only about Reid). I probably shouldn't have tried to

guess margins of victory, though I got some of those

right, too!



for November 1, 2010

Barbara Boxer, 6 p.m., November 1st Here's Sen. Boxer, as she appeared a couple hours ago in
Oakland, Calif. [photo by Paul Iorio]

At the rally, Boxer looked and sounded confident of a

win tomorrow. Also at the gathering: Jerry Brown, Barbara

Lee and Kamala Harris (very charismatic in person). Missing

in action: Gavin Newsom.

Frankly, at this hour in the Bay Area, you wouldn't even know

there was an election tomorrow, what with all the mania about the

Giants winning the World Series. In fact, that's all anybody's

talking about right now. Local news broadcasts are devoting

the first fifteen minutes to the Giants. And people are out

in the streets with signs like "Fear the Beard."

Election? Voter anger? Republican wave? All swept away

by the Lincecum landslide.

But I digress. Paul



for Halloween 2010

Election Predictions

Welcome to the New Senate: 51 Democrats, 49 Republicans

The New Majority Leader Will Be Dick Durbin.

OK, here's how things will probably pan out on

Tuesday in the U.S. Senate races. (The only one

I'm unsure about is the contest in West Virginia,

where I think there's a chance Manchin might lose.)

by 7 points.

, by 2 points.

over Reid by 3 points.

by 2 points.

with slightly over 50% of the vote.

by 2 points.

leads in a virtual tie; outcome
contested in the courts.

by 2 points.

by 1 percent or less, though he might
even lose. (This is the only one I'm unsure of.)

But I digress. Paul



for October 30, 2010


Jerry Brown, 7:30am, Oakland, California

Brown, speaking at a sunrise rally in Oakland
this morning. [photo by Paul Iorio]

A very heavy object of some sort fell from the balcony

above where Jerry Brown was speaking this morning. And

the noise was a bit startling -- at least it was from the

front row, where I was -- and the crowd sort of gasped.

But Brown didn't miss a beat.

"That's the press," he joked. "But don't drop your

camera on my head. Because we've got some trial

lawyers here."

The crowd, gathered at his Oakland HQ for this

7:30am hometown rally, roared.

Brown, now virtually assured of winning

the race for governor on Tuesday, spoke for

eight minutes, vowing to "bang on the door of

President Obama and Congress" to create jobs,

praising the "elegant density" of Oakland --

and giving a shout-out to the Giants.

And he even quoted from the Bible, albeit in

a very Jerry way. "Those of you who still read

the Bible, you know there's seven fat years and

you get seven lean years," he said. "I don't

want to tell you where we are in that process."

Audience members were interesting; one was

a neighbor of Brown's named Randy who said she

sometimes sees Jerry jog by her house. Then

there was the annoying guy next to me, who kept

shouting things at Brown ("I got your back!!";

"Go Giants!!," etc.).

And then Jerry was off -- to Stockton, Merced, Fresno

and Bakersfield. All before 4 p.m. today.

It's interesting that at Ground Level in California,

it doesn't feel like a Republican tsunami is on the way.

And that's because Democrats are winning all the key

state races that they were initially projected to lose.

All polls say that the Brown gathering on Tuesday

night at the Fox Theater in Oakland will be

a victory celebration.

Brown, this morning. Note the poster of Jerry (circa the
1970s) in the right hand corner.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Brown, intro'd this a.m. by Barbara Lee, who reps Oakland
and Berkeley in Congress. (By the way, Lee's
seat is probably safe this time, though she is
facing opposition for the first time in memory.)
[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

The Way He Was, circa the Seventies.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Son of the man who reduced Nixon to near tears
("You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore"),
Brown is the closest thing Cal has to a Kennedy dynasty.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

But I digress. Paul



for October 29, 2010

A Modest Proposal Radio station sez a cute little kitty will be killed if
fund-raising goals are not met!

The funniest fund-raising pitch I've ever heard was broadcast

yesterday on KALX radio during its pledge drive, where an

announcer said she was holding a cute little kitten hostage and

would kill it if fund-raising goals weren't met. In the background

were sounds of the cat meowing adorably. Worthy of Jonathan


Wait -- this just in. They weren't joking? Oh oh.

We'd all better chip in to save the cat! Pledge at the KALX


But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- On another subject: regarding my own music,

please be aware that Bill Epps was a FINANCIAL

contributor, NOT a creative contributor,

to my early music. (He's been neither for years.) But

somebody out there is lying, saying that he also made

suggestions about a few of my songs -- and that I

used his suggestions. Not true. I didn't use any

of his suggestions, and he made only three or four

minor ones five years ago. Didn't use any of 'em.

(I come up with more musical ideas than I have time

to use; I certainly don't need, don't want and can't

use any of Epps's (mostly derivative) ideas.)

So who is spreading this bad information? (My

guess is a former roommate of his to whom he has

paid money over the years. Watch it; she'll

pretend to be "tipping you off," when in fact she's

just lying for him. That's my theory.) Please let me know at Thanks.

By the way, every time Epps has written his own music

over the decades -- and his own music is completely

separate from mine -- he has copyrighted it. And

I have copyrighted my own songs, too. There is

absolutely no overlap in the two songwriting catalogs.

(I think he's copyrighted every burp and piece of

lint from his belly button over the past 30 years!)

Check out the factual record for yourself at (he has registered his separate

work under the names "William Epps" and "Bill Epps"

and I have copyrighted my songs under the name

"Paul Iorio"). He doesn't share his copyrights with

me, and I don't share my copyrights with him.

And that's the factual, offical record.

P.S. -- By the way, a generous investment is not

truly generous if the investor has an unstated

ulterior motive.



for October 28, 2010

It's Now Around Two Years Before the Next
U.S. Presidential Election. Two Years
Before the '08 Contest, Newsweek Ran This Cover.

But the '12 race on the GOP side is nowhere

near as well-defined. Romney/Rice is one

possibility, but Mitt will probably prove

to be as unelectable as he was last time.

Colorless Mike Pence won an early Iowa straw

poll, but he's from the region (so no wonder he won).

Palin, meanwhile, trailed badly in the same straw vote

(and national polls show even Repubs think she's

not qualified to be prez). Which leaves the GOP

with...likable Mike Huckabee, who satisfies

the evangelicals without scaring liberals (and

who would provide a refreshing contrast to

the more professorial Obama at debates). If an

Obama-out-of-nowhere were to emerge from the

GOP, he or she would have already emerged.

* * * *


Regarding the DroidGate hoopla in the gubernatorial

race in Florida: criticism of Alex Sink on this has not been

entirely fair. Situation is this: an assistant

approached her with an ostensibly urgent text message

during break time at a debate. But relaying messages to candidates

during that debate was prohibited. Problem is, how

was Sink to know, before seeing it, whether or not that

message was about, say, a family emergency that required

immediate attention?

That said, the consensus seems to be that she shouldn't

have been on the defensive when Tom Scott called her

an "Obama liberal." (Given his background in

corporate corruption, Scott arguably didn't

have the right to be be on the offensive about

anything.) Perhaps she should have shot back by

calling him a Gekko Republican (as in, "I'm

running against Gordon Gekko here"). Truth be told,

as of this hour, Gekko is leading.

* * * *

Speaking of Gekko Republicans: when Meg Whitman

loses on Tuesday, and she is on track to lose by

double digits, will she end up getting a job on

"The View"? My guess is that any

opening on "The View" will go to Carly Fiorina,

who will also lose on election day, but by single


* * * *

Here's a photo I shot in Manhattan in the mid-1990s

(probably 1994):

[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Yeah, everybody remembers the Beatles' very first

appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," on February

9, 1964. And there are so many celebrity

remembrances of it that I'm surprised they

haven't been compiled in a book. (The most

memorable is John Sebastian going over to

Cass's apartment in the Village to watch the

show with Zal, who he met there for the

first time.)

Less remembered is the band's last performance

on the show, which took place 45 years ago last

month (it was aired on September 12, 1965, but

was taped on August 14th).

It's like a Beatles concert; the band did six tunes, more

than half the setlist of full-length shows on their

"Help!" album tour, playing mostly tracks from "Help!,",

released the previous week.

Here's a ticket to that August 14th taping (I got it

from James Henke's truly marvelous and novel book of

artifacts, "Lennon Legend: An Illustrated Life of

John Lennon"):

* * * *

"Humans had no problem whatsoever when I chewed up
innocent squirrels. But as soon I tried to bite a newborn
human, I must confess people got a bit touchy about it."
[cartoon by Paul Iorio]

But I digress. Paul



for October 25, 2010

Many, many thanks to Marshall Stax (and Amazing Grace!) for

playing two of my latest songs on KALX Radio earlier this

evening! Both tunes are send-ups of all the hoopla

around the so-called Ground Zero mosque, and you can

hear 'em here.

The first is an original, "THEY'RE BUILDING A MOSQUE IN MY MIND,"

and the other is a parody, 'THE MONSTER MOSQUE," based on

the "The Monster Mash," by Bobby "Boris" Pickett. (Perfect for Halloween.)

Just click below and enjoy!

"They're Building a Mosque in My Mind.">(just click the link and it plays automatically after buffering; NO NEED TO PRESS PLAY)

And here's "THE MONSTER MOSQUE":>>(just click the link and it plays automatically after buffering; NO NEED TO PRESS PLAY)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- By the way, KALX is in the middle of its annual

fund-raising drive, so I encourage everyone to support the station

by giving 'em some bucks (at this link:



for October 24, 2010

Finally got around to seeing "The Social Network"

a couple times, and here's my review:

David Fincher's "The Social Network"

This flick is far more Sorkin than Fincher, meaning the

dialogue sounds overcomposed (rather than spoken) and

the visuals are too tight and claustrophobic. And

like "The West Wing" (and overwritten movies like

"Network"), almost all the characters speak in the

same hyper-articulate voice, with nary a syntactic

error or stammer, which is to say in the voice of the

screenwriter himself.

Yet the milieu is mostly Harvard, which has produced

some astonishingly inarticulate people over the decades

(e.g., George W. Bush, whose nouns rarely agreed with

his verbs; and Edward Kennedy, whose verbal gaffes

were legendary -- to name only two).

This is a dialogue-heavy film -- if it were turned into

a play, no visual magic would be lost -- and some of the

dialogue is just awful. Example: "My brother

and I are in skeleton costumes, chasing the Karate Kid

around the high school gym," says one character.

(C'mon. That doesn't even remotely sound like

anything one human being would ever say to another,

though it does sound a lot like a writer alone in an

empty room.)

Or: "The shoe is on the other table, which is turned."

Again, nobody real talks that way. But too many characters

here -- even minor ones -- speak with the same level of

composed cleverness, always ready with a bon mot or witticism

for every occasion. Tiresome.

The tone and structure are also all wrong. Some of this

could have easily been played for dark laughs -- like the

part about someone being accused of animal cruelty for

feeding chicken to a chicken -- but, no, it's

all delivered deadly serious and straight.

And structurally, the flick makes a mistake by intercutting

between legal proceedings and the actual rise of Facebook.

David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin should have started the

picture by capturing the exhilarating triumph of Mark Zuckerberg's

innovation, before getting into the pseudo-courtroom drama

that eclipses all else here.

Most of this flick is about people caught in the brambles and

brush of intellectual property disputes, not about the

inspiration and heady success behind a game-changing creation.

(By the way, it's not surprising that when Harvard finally,

belatedly, came up with its own version of Silicon Valley, it

invented a cyber-country club -- with a members only policy.)

I can see why this movie has been (moderately) successful

at the box office; it's a story, after all, about becoming

massively wealthy by working from home at your computer, a

popular fantasy in this recession. And characters

talk as if anyone could make vast sums of money with

very little effort (though all fail to mention it's

far easier to make a fortune if you already have a fortune).

The film is most notable for the acting of newcomer

Jesse Eisenberg, who is assured as Zuckerberg, a role

that might have gone to Edward Norton in the 1990s or

to Richard Dreyfuss in the 1970s; and for the credible

star turn by Justin Timberlake, who re-names Zuckerberg's

company Facebook.

But all this movie really did was give me an appetite for

the wide angles and big picture view of Oliver Stone

in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," which is superior

to this film.

But I digress. Paul



for October 20, 2010

Exclusive by Paul Iorio

Did Nixon Hint He Wanted a
Supreme Court Justice Killed?

The White House tapes show it vividly.

President Nixon was hopping mad about a Supreme Court

decision that said the government had no authority to stop

The New York Times and other newspapers from publishing

the so-called Pentagon papers.

The 6-to-3 decision came down on June 30, 1971. Within hours,

on July 1st, Nixon was on the phone with the head of the

F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover, venting.

"I wanted to tell you that I was so damned mad when that Supreme

Court had to come down -- I didn't like that decision. That was

unbelievable, wasn't it?," Nixon said.

Hoover, acting like a yes-man and sounding like an echo chamber,


"Unbelievable," said Hoover.

"Those clowns we've got on there, I tell ya, I hope I outlive the

bastards," said Nixon.

"I hope you do, too," said Hoover.

"I mean, politically, too," Nixon said, underlining the fact that

he meant "outlive the bastards" quite literally. "Because we've

got to change our Court."

"There's no question about that whatsoever," said Hoover. "If I

had thought there was a possibility of a five to four..."

Hoover doesn't finish his sentence, though Nixon gives him the

space to do so and doesn't interrupt him. The sense of what

Hoover was saying is, "If I had thought there was a possibility

of a five to four, I would have done something about it."

It's hard to imagine someone finishing the sentence any

other way.

"I thought we ought to get [Justice Byron] White," says Nixon.

The President's surface meaning is apparently, "We should

have won White's vote on this case," but the ambiguity of

"get White" is a bit disturbing in this context.

And Hoover agrees, saying White is "in with the whole

Kennedy crowd."

White, of course, was the only Justice on the Burger Court

appointed by President Kennedy, Nixon's one-time


Hearing the tape today, it's hard to deny that Nixon's remarks

to Hoover sound like a threat, specifically against Justice White.

After all, the president is speaking to the director of the F.B.I.,

choosing his words carefully, one assumes, so as to not send

the wrong signal. Nixon could have expressed his anger with

many different phrases (e.g., "I've had it up to here," "I'm sick

of those guys," "The Court is killing me," etc.).

But instead, he chose to say and repeat the unusual phrase, "I hope

I outlive the bastards." Then he underlines his meaning by

saying that he's not stating that merely figuratively. And

he singles out White. (It's safe to say that that's precisely

the implicit indirect way that a threat would be made in

conversation between two very high-level officials, if such

a threat were to be made.)

And Hoover, ever the yes-man, agrees with Nixon and even

leaves a phrase dangling.

Was Nixon subtly signaling to Hoover he should "get White,"

perhaps by, say, using the apparatus of the F.B.I. to arrange

some sort of dirty trick or incident made to look like an


Clearly, Nixon is deliberately using a phrase -- "I hope I outlive

the bastards" -- that arguably has the sound and tenor of a threat.

(As in: "You know, Edgar, I really wanna outlive that Byron White,

you know what I mean? What I'm sayting is, I literally wanna

outlive this bastard, if you catch my drift...")

The July 1, 1971, Nixon-Hoover tape is included with other raw

audio footage in the "extras" section of the recent

documentary "The Most Dangerous Man in America," though the

film makers do not raise any of the questions or issues

that I'm raising in this piece.

But I digress. Paul



for October 19, 2010

Election notes

Democrats Could Re-Win Both Houses of Congress If...

President Obama doesn't need to pull 20-hour campaign

days shouting himself hoarse at podiums to help win

congressional seats for the Democrats. The Dems

could easily prevail if Obama did merely one thing:

find and kill Osama bin Laden before November 2nd.

Fat chance, right? Which means election day may look

like this:

-- Jerry Brown will win the governor's race in

California -- and by a healthy (if not overwhelming) margin.

Three to five points. There is organic, genuine

enthusiasm for Brown, who, after all, is the closest

thing Californians have to a Kennedy dynasty. Meg Whitman

is a manufactured candidate with no real grassroots

backing. And she will soon discover the lessons

learned by Al Checchi and other millionaire

contenders in the Golden State: money can't buy love,

votes or even effective advertisements.

-- Also, Barbara Boxer can relax. Carly Fiorina will

lose. Fiorina's candidacy, like Whitman's, is also

manufactured, bought. And post-chemo, she has become sour,

nasty (where is the charismatic exec who fist-bumped

her way to the top of HP during the boom?). And her

tv commercials look like they were created by the

same shop that does those Crest Whitestrip ads.

-- In Florida, the smart word is: a vote for Kendrick

Meek is a vote for Marco Rubio, who will likely become

Senator Rubio very soon. Meek is polling what fringe or

Green candidates usually pull: under 20%. And you don't

have to watch Meek for more than a minute to see why: he

doesn't seem up to the job, is spacey, a bit dim.

But no way no how is Meek gonna drop out of the race

so that Crist, the far stronger candidate, can become

Senator. Oh, I can hear it now: Why doesn't Crist

drop out? The reason: Crist can win, Meek can't.

But the stakes aren't very high here. Even if Meek were to

drop out, it would then be a choice between someone

who would never vote with Obama versus someone

who would side with the president around fifty percent

of the time. A Senator Crist would be a slightly more

conservative Landrieu, or a Lieberman.

-- Meanwhile, in the governor's race, Alex Sink will probably

become the first Democratic gov in the state since the

1990s and the heyday of Walkin' Lawton. It'll be a squeaker, no

doubt, but she'll win (probably by two percent), partly

because her opponent is a demonstrably corrupt corporate

exec -- not a popular species in this post-crash era.

Plus, she's smart (when unscripted, too -- a rarity for

a pol).

-- In Nevada, Sharron Angle will come breathtakingly close

to unseating Harry Reid, who will pull off a win by using

the same steady methodical tactics that have given him

threadbare victories in the Senate over the years.

-- Elsewhere, the kooks (McMahon in Connecticut, O'Donnell in

Delaware, Iott in Ohio, Paladino in New York) will lose.

Patty Murray will win in Washington (the state's too blue for

Rossi). And, alas, Alaskans may well forget how to spell

Murkowski, though late polling says they may not (I bet

that one ends up in the courts).

All told, the Dems keep the Senate, lose the House. And the

Cuomos and the Browns return to Albany and Sacramento.

And the Tea Party gals of '10 will have ended up

accomplishing very little besides becoming feminism's

worst nightmare, proving beyond a doubt that women,

when given power, can be just as wacko, stupid,

venal and mediocre as men. (And power in

the hands of the right women makes me realize that

lots of female brilliance was completely ignored by men in

the pre-feminist era.)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Lately, doesn't Sarah Palin sound a lot like the

Wicked Witch of the West in her stump speeches? She really

does take on that voice ("I'll get you, my pretty, and

your little dog, too -- and I'll take away

your health care!") And Christine O'Donnell seems

to be playing the Good Witch of the North ("I'm not the

Wicked Witch of the West; I'm Glinda, from the land of

stardust and munchkins").

* * * *

P.S. -- "I can see Christine's career crash from my house..."

By the way, wanna hear the sound of

Christine O'Donnell's candidacy crashing

to the ground? Click the link (below) to

listen to today's debate between Chris Coons

and O'Donnell, a woman with a

9th grade education learning about

the existence of the First Amendment

for the very first time! Rilly!



for October 18, 2010

Just saw a couple new films, and here're my reviews:

Oliver Stone's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"

At its core, this is an unexpectedly gripping love

story set against the backdrop of the Great Financial

Collapse of the late Oughties. (The strongest parts

of Stone's underrated late oeuvre, by the way, have been

the romantic subplots. Remember the poignance of the

scene in which Laura met George in "W."?)

But this love story comes with a hitch, as the protagonist

is wooing the estranged daughter of Gordon Gekko (Michael

Douglas), freshly released from The Joint to the welcoming

arms of absolutely nobody. In this sequel, you almost feel

sorry for Gekko, a singular creation of U.S. cinema, that rare

fictional character (like Babbitt or Gatsby) whose mere

last name instantly evokes an American archetype.

And he's fleshed out here superbly, multi-dimensionally,

in all his (in)humanity.

As I said, you almost feel sorry for him. Until he

returns to his old ways, stealing a hundred mil -- from his

own daughter, no less!

Meanwhile, Stone captures the zeitgeist of The Crash, bringing

computer trading, credit default swaps, post-9/11 downtown

Manhattan and the collapse itself vividly to life. But

ultimately, frankly, I ended up caring more about the love

story and whether Jacob would be able to win back Winnie.

(No spoiler here.)

All told, solid B+ Stone -- and maybe one of the ten best

films of the year.

* * * *

Anton Corbijn's "The American"

Knowing Corbijn's background, I anticipated a

cinematographical picture, which it is to some extent,

though it's much more than that. Turns out it's

actually primarily an art-actioner in the spirit of

parts of "The Conformist" and "The Passenger" -- and it

succeeds dazzingly for the first fifty minutes,

which are so hooky and unpredictable that you might be

lured into thinking a classic is unfolding on screen. But,

alas, the last half is often awkward, creepy in the wrong

ways and a bit confused, despite the best efforts of

George Clooney, brooding and magnificently mercurial in

a role somewhere between Anthony Quinn and the

enigmatic Meursault of "The Stranger."

And, yes, cinematographic it is; almost every frame is

a thing of beauty, much like every shot in many films by

Bertolucci and Antonioni. Best cinematography

of any picture released this year except "The Ghost

Writer," still the greatest movie of 2010.

But I digress. Paul



for October 17, 2010

Exclusive new info about Nazi group to which a Tea Party candidate belonged
The Tea Hall Putsch

Rich Iott with fellow Tea Partyers? (Not pictured: former
marketing manager for the anti-Semitic film "The Passion of the
Christ," Christine O'Donnell.) [photo from The Atlantic]

U.S. House candidate Rich Iott, whose last name looks surprisingly

like a misspelling of the word idiot, has spent the last week claiming that the

Nazi military reenactment group to which he belonged for years was not

a pro-Nazi group at all. No, he says, it was just a historical society

with no Third Reich sympathies whatsoever.

That's a lie.

My own research shows that past editions of the group's website

express explicit support for the Nazis, portraying them (almost

unbelievably) as heroes of the eastern front and re-casting

the Nazi cause, nauseatingly, as a fight against communism,

which it surely was not.

(For the history-impaired: Hitler was trying to conquer

every piece of territory on the planet Earth, be

it capitalist, communist, rightist, tribalist -- he didn't

care what it was.)

I was able to unearth a long-vanished edition of the website of

the Wiking group, which stages the reenactments, and here's

how the group defined itself back on May 1, 2003, when Iott

was an active member:

"It is our aim to bring you a bit of actual history
behind the men who fought against the "Bolshevik
scourge"; volunteers who came from the various
Northern European countries allied with Hitler's
Germany who only had a desire to see an end to
Soviet Communism."

Elsewhere on the site, it provides a link to

another re-enactment group and describes

them this way (I thought I was in the middle of a

Mel Brooks satire for a moment, but, alas, this is

for real):

"Czech "Groþdeutschland" Reenactors: These guys get to play with all the cool stuff! Real, live Czechs in the Czech Republic actually reenacting, running T-34's and the whole 9 yards! "

Wow! Real live Czechs! See them run from the SS!

What's Iott gonna do for an encore? Rent an airplane

and crash into cardboard replicas of the World Trade

Center towers, re-enacting the 9/11 attacks by

god-fearing militants against infidels (as he might put it)?

Will Iott renounce and denounce the Wiking's sympathetic and

distorted characterization of the Nazis? And will Iott

apologize to Russian vets of the Second World War,

who courageously fought with us as allies and who were

instrumental in helping us defeat the Third Reich?

(Is he aware of the fact that the chimneys of

Treblinka and Auschwitz would still be smoking if

the Russians hadn't helped us defeat Hitler?)

I asked him those questions in an email. I'll print

any response from him -- including any Iott apology

to Russian veterans of World War II
-- right here.

Stay tuned.

But I digress. Paul



for October 16, 2010

Sorry to hear actress Barbara Billingsley just died.

I interviewed her in 1997 for an article for The San

Francisco Chronicle and thought I'd share a brief

excerpt from that Q&A (in MP3 form) here:
[just click the link and it plays automatically after buffering; NO NEED TO PRESS PLAY]

* * * * *

On a much lighter note: a candidate for governor in Illinois,

Rich Whitney, has had his name misspelled on some ballots, and

he's pissed. You would be, too; he's been re-named "Rich Whitey."

Read all about it in the NYT at this link:

But I digress. Paul



for October 12 - 15, 2010

And, just in time for Halloween, here is my song
"The Monster Mosque,"

a parody of Bobby "Boris" Pickett's

"The Monster Mash," a send-up of the

whole conrtoversy around the so-called

Ground Zero mosque.

Just click the orange link to hear it:>>(just click the link and it plays automatically after buffering; NO NEED TO PRESS PLAY)

Ah, the Halloween season.
[photo by Paul Iorio.]

* * * *

And now for some brand new original tunes that I

recently wrote and recorded -- four of 'em.

On Halloween, I'll be self-releasing all five tracks

as an e.p., "TABOO." Here's the online edition of


Anyway, the four new ones are posted here, too:

1. "Trees Try To Rise Above Their Roots"

2. "Kiss Me Where Your Mouth Is"

3, "Meta-Song"

4. "They're Building a Mosque in My Mind"

Appreciate the feedback from listeners

(special thanks to Chris Vaisvil for his generous

comments about "Trees").

Here're the tracks. Just click the blues links.

"Trees Try to Rise Above Their Roots" and "Kiss Me Where Your Mouth Is."

"Meta-Song.">(plays automatically after buffering; NO NEED TO PRESS PLAY)

"They're Building a Mosque in My Mind.">(just click the link and it plays automatically after buffering; NO NEED TO PRESS PLAY)

Lyrics and notes:
Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2010

I drove by all the Christmas lights
Purple, red and green

The sound of horse hoofs in the park
The sound of tambourines
The sound of tambourines

Trees are always tryin' to rise above the roots beneath their leaves
Trees are always tryin' to rise above the roots beneath their leaves

Cumulus is what you have
In place of mountain peaks

Clouds that look like Wyatt Earp
On the chaparral between
On the chaparral between

Trees are always tryin' to rise above the roots beneath their leaves
Trees are always tryin' to rise above the roots beneath their leaves

How naive we are in the future's eyes
To think we know our fates

I lived my youth like a wise old man
Never took the bait
Never took the bait

Trees are always tryin' to rise above the roots beneath their leaves
Trees are always tryin' to rise above the roots beneath their leaves

NOTES ON "TREES": I woke up on Labor Day with the melody of this one running around in my head. It's got a sort of Olde West feel that I mixed with Ladysmith Black Mambazo-ish background vocals.

* * * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2010

You want me to be sick as can be
I only attract women when I'm sick

Thin as a rail, gaunt and dead pale
I only attract women
attract women when I'm sick

Kiss me where your mouth is
Kiss me where your mouth is
Kiss me where your mouth is

When you take off that dress, I'm a full time mess
I only attract you when I'm sick

When my cheekbones are starting to show
I only attract you
attract you when I'm sick

I only attract women when I'm sick and thin as a stick
And then I have remind you
When I have the runs and nothing's really fun
I only attract women when I'm through
I'm sick
I'm sick
I'm sick as arsenic

Kiss me where your mouth is
Kiss me where your mouth is
Kiss me where your mouth is

Kiss me where your mouth is
Kiss me where your mouth is

Mouth is
I'm sick
I'm sick as arsenic

NOTES ON "KISS ME WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS": Sort of Cobain-ish, with Sly and the Family Stone-esque overdubs. The lyrics -- "I only attract women when I'm sick" -- stem from a trip I took to Seattle during which I got sick, lost weight and found I was suddenly more attractive to women than I had been.

* * * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2010

Intro, intro, intro...

Well, there's a verse that gets you started like this
A second reiteration of it
Then it builds to the top of the verse
But don't you fret the melody will soon change (overdub)

But then there's a tension that leads to the chorus
The major key chorus
Here's the major key chorus

Here's the chorus
Here's the chorus
Rousing chorus
Major key chorus
Everybody sing to the singalong chorus

Second verse, slightly varied from the first

Second verse slightly varies the melody
To make sure that you don't get bored
And then it comes back to familiar turf
And I bet you're singing along again

And there's that part that creates tension
Just before the chorus
Here's the major key chorus

Here's the chorus
Here's the chorus
Rousing chorus
Major key chorus
Everybody sing to the singalong chorus

What's this part of the song?
What's this part of the song?

Beatles-esque dissonance
Beatles-esque dissonance

Here's the chorus
Here's the chorus
Rousing chorus
Major key chorus
Everybody sing along to the chorus
Everybody sing to the singalong chorus

Then there's an outro
Then there's an outro
Then there's an outro
Hanging chord finale

Coda coda gotta be a coda, baby
coda coda gotta be a coda baby

NOTES ON "META-SONG": A song about a song. Inspired a bit by Pavement's "Gold Soundz."

* * * * *

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2010

They're building a mosque in my mind (my mind)
They're building a mosque in my mind
They're taking over all the grey matter
They're building a mosque in my mind

The preachers and imams and rabbis and priests
Who populate the part of my mind
Where Hindus are praying near by left hippocampus
Where the Shintos are building a shrine

They're building a mosque in my mind (my mind)
They're building a shrine in my mind
They're taking over my entire cerebellum
They're building a mosque in my mind

The Hares spray graffiti on my left ventricle wall
They've got a real Jones for the Tao
They're confusing Confucians as to their actual intent
They're saying, "Hey, man, don't have a sacred cow!"

Anglicans and Brahmins fight for my synaptic cleft
In the pre-frontal lobe of my mind
Orthodox Jews are building a temple
Using words like thee and thou and thine

They're building a mosque in my mind (my mind)
They're building a shrine in my mind
They're taking over my entire cerebellum
They're building a mosque in my mind

Mental health professionals visit me at work
I tell them they're bombs in my brain
The Sunnis are fighting the Sufis for turf
I say this as they take me away

Take me away!

They're building a mosque in my mind (my mind)
They're building a shrine in my mind
They're taking over all the gray matter
They're building a mosque in my mind

They're building a mosque in my mind (my mind)
They're building a shrine in my mind
They're taking over my entire cerebellum
They're building a mosque in my mind

They're building a [7 frets up] mosque in my mind
They're building a [7 frets up] mosque in my mind

NOTES ON "BUILDING A MOSQUE": Sends up the hysteria and hoopla
around the so-called Ground Zero mosque controversy.

* * * * *

Parody by Paul Iorio (based
on "The Monster Mash" by
Bobby Boris Pickett)

I was working in the mosque late last night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
My Islamic Center began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He built a mosque
He built a monster mosque
The monster mosque
Near the Ground Zero crash
He built the mosque
It caught on like a rash
He built the mosque
He built the monster mosque

But I digress. Paul

-- P.S. Here're a few photos I recently shot.

Dozens of flags, in interesting juxtapositions, were
displayed on the perimeter fence of a vacant lot at
Ashby and Telegraph in Berkeley, Calif., the other day.
Here's one I shot of the Communist and checkered flags --
together at last! [photo by Paul Iorio.]

* * * *

The Oregon state flag next to the Lion & Sun banner of
Iran and a smiley flag.
[photo by Paul Iorio.]

* * * *

At a bus stop, the flags of two now-defunct
nations: the Confederate States and South Vietnam.
[photo by Paul Iorio.]

* * * *

The reflection of a tree on the body of
a 1960s car in the Elmwood neighborhood of
Berkeley caught my eye.
[photo by Paul Iorio.]

But I digress. Paul



for October 8, 2010

Happy 70th birthday...

* * * * * *

* * * * * *

What is all this hoopla about the use of the word

"whore" to describe Meg Whitman? Whore has long been

a respectable metaphorical term used to describe someone

who prostitutes himself or herself at the behest of

monied interests. In that sense, it probably does

apply to Whitman and to a lot of other politicians.

By the way, modern usage of "whore" in politics

goes back (most memorably) to Bob Woodward and

Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post who used to

joke in the Watergate era that the initials WH in

Howard Hunt's notebook meant either whorehouse or

White House. (In those years, many whorehouses were

far more reputable and honest than Nixon's executive


But I digress. Paul



for October 7, 2010

Bill Maher for President?

People are talking about the 2012 presidential election

as if it may be a sort of '64 for the GOP in the sense

that that party might nominate an unadulterated hard

rightist. (Why should we compromise?, think the

conservatives. The Democrats didn't in '08.)

But it might more closely resemble '48, with four candidates

running: a Tea Partyer; a Republican (probably Huckabee,

who satisfies evangelicals without scaring liberal Dems);

Obama (running with Hillary, who brings problems

that Biden didn't); and a center-slightly liberal candidate

like Bloomberg.

But the candidate in the "Bloomberg" slot might be someone

like Bill Maher. After all, what other American makes as

much sense as Maher? (Not Jon Stewart.)

To those who say a non-theist can't be elected in America,

let me remind you that most pundits, circa '07, said that

an African-American could never be elected president.

And to those who say Maher isn't qualified, let me take

that apart:

North Korea is run by a clinical paranoid. Afghanistan is

run by someone diagnosed as a manic-depressive. Libya is

ruled by a lunatic. Iran is run by an imbecile. And, in

America, a "witch" is running for the U.S. Senate.

So, who has the gall to say Maher isn't qualified to run?

* * * *

Is the Rev. Fred Phelps Gay?
Phelps might well be gay. Psychologists often note that
those who protest too much about something are trying
to hide their true tendences. [photo by unknown

* * * *

Just back from the Berkeley (Calif.) Art Museum (BAM)

and am really jazzed by the photos in the Marjolijn Dijkman

exhibition. Dozens of pics, each one fresher than the

last. Here're a couple:

* * * *

Now for a couple recent pics of my own. Here's a shot

of a bison that I ran into on my way to the Hardly

Strictly fest in Golden Gate Park last Friday.

And here's a shot of a highway leading into Berkeley:

But I digress. Paul



for October 6, 2010

Can you believe there are some people in the so-called

Islamic mainstream who actually voice some support for

Ahmadinejad's loony speech about 9/11 at the U.N.? I mean,

I thought he was just playing to the gallery,

to the illiterate part of the Iranian population that

helps to keep him in power.

But nooooo.

Got an email from one Arsalan Rizvi, the editor of a publication

called Islamic Insights, who wrote to me and said: the "possibility

[that 9/11 was an inside job] is not completely out of the realm

of reality."


I wrote back to him, saying:

"It, frankly, sort of disturbs me that you, an editor of a
publication, seem to think Ahmadinejad might have a point.
Perhaps you think that fantasy and mythology are equal to
fact in journalism."

I also sent him my own annotated version of

Ahmadinejad's speech. Here it is (my comments in caps]:

In identifying those responsible for the attack, there were three viewpoints. [THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A "VIEWPOINT" AND AN ESTABLISHED FACTUAL RECORD]

1- That a very powerful and complex terrorist group, able to successfully cross all layers of the American intelligence and security, carried out the attack. [THIS IS NOT A "VIEWPOINT"; THIS IS WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.] This is the main viewpoint advocated by American statesmen. [THIS IFACTUAL RECORD IS CORROBORATED BY EVERYONE FROM THE US GOVERNMENT TO BIN LADEN HIMSELF.]

2- That some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime. [THIS IS A FANTASY, SIMILAR TO THE GROUNDLESS RELIGIOUS MYTHS HE ALSO BELIEVES.]The majority of the American people as well as other nations and politicians agree with this view.

3- It was carried out by a terrorist group but the American government supported and took advantage of the situation. Apparently, this viewpoint has fewer proponents. The main evidence linking the incident was a few passports found in the huge volume of rubble and a video of an individual whose place of domicile was unknown but it was announced that he had been involved in oil deals with some American officials. It was also covered up and said that due to the explosion and fire no trace of the suicide attackers was found. {AHMADINEJAD REALLY DOESN'T MAKE CLEAR SENSE HERE. TAPE RECORDERS ON THE AIRPLANES CAPTURED THE HIJACKINGS IN PROGRESS. THERE IS PLENTY OF OTHER CORROBORATIVE EVIDENCE, TOO.]


The rest of his speech, on other issues, is the usual
fundamentalist-tinged junk.

Ahmadinejad may not be an imbecile, but he sure sounds
like one in this speech.

My intuition tells me he's merely pandering to the
illiterate part of the population in Iran, which is
evidently vast.

He proves that people with merely a religious education
have no education at all. They have been indoctrinated,
not educated. An educated person doesn't give a
speech that says that Copernicus had a "viewpoint" that
the Earth orbits the sun. That's not an opinion; that's
a scientific fact. If you want to debunk it, then debunk
it with observable and verifiable facts, if you can
(which you can't).

Ditto with 9/11. The fact-based truth about the attacks
is obvious. But Ahmadinejad is saying, oh maybe we should
look into the possibility that the sun orbits the Earth.

And while he's at it, why not also investigate the
"possibility" that the sun rises in the west every morning.
After all, maybe one morning it will rise in the west. How
do we know that every morning will be like the preceding
morning with regard to sunrises?

That's exactly how stupid Ahmadinejad sounded at the U.N.
the other day.

But I digress. Paul



for October 4, 2010

Last Saturday's Arcade Fire Show Win Butler of the Arcade Fire, at an
earlier concert. [photographer unknown]

"It may be chilly for you, but for us it's fuckin' summer,"

said Win Butler of the Arcade Fire from the stage last

Saturday night in Berkeley, Calif. "Pardon my French. I have

to learn how to watch my language onstage."

Butler was referring to the fact that he and his band are

based in cold Montreal (though, truth be told, he grew up

in Texas, which is way hotter than Berkeley!).

Whatever the weather, and it was a bit brisk that night,

the band sure warmed the place up, playing half of its new

album, the superb "The Suburbs"; half of its '04 debut, "Funeral";

as well as a few tracks from "Neon Bible."

Some of the new material held its own with the classics,

particularly set opener "Ready to Start," which had an

otherworldly magic, "We Used to Wait" and the title track.

But the band's trump cards are still the vintage stuff from

the debut -- the "Neighborhood" songs (especially

the first one), "Rebellion" and the Bowie-meets-Motown finale

"Wake Up" -- plus the second album's "Intervention," almost

all saved for the encores.

In concert, with thousands of fans singing along, those tunes

have a heroic, rousing quality, like the sound of victorious

warriors who have just won a major battle. By the end of

"Neighborhood #2," I almost thought I was in "Invictus," what

with all the mass singing (even in the hills above the Greek

Theater, where I heard the show).

And the unison vocalizing by the female singers is one of

the most attractive sounds in pop music today (even if it

does sound a bit like "brrr, this is Montreal!").

The Arcade Fire may well be the most evocative and stirring

band of the early 21st century, a group for whom symphonic

grandeur is not a pretension but a natural way of singing

and composing. They approach complex and intricate

musical ideas with the fluidity of the Ramones.

Truly great stuff, on and off stage.

But I digress. Paul



for October 3, 2010

Bin Laden's Latest Ruse: Compassionate Jihadism. (Don't Buy It.)

Just heard parts of one of Osama bin Laden's latest

tapes, titled "Reflections on the Method of Relief

Work." I guess he suddenly wants to be Mao Tse-Tung.

Or Ingmar Bergman (ah, "Reflections in a Golden Eye").

'Cept he doesn't write nearly as well as either.

And, of course, he's eager to change the subject to the

floods in Pakistan, to anything besides his murderous past.

It's like Charles Manson getting all worked up about the

the oil depletion allowance.

What's next for bin Laden? An education summit? Is Osama

having a fiftysomething identity crisis, dabbling

in Compassionate Jihadism? Or is his conscience finally,

belatedly bothering him?

Forget it, Osama. It doesn't matter what good works

you do from here on in. You still have to pay the

price for the murders you've committed, and that price

is death.

The tape does inadvertently reveal that he probably is

in Pakistan, because he talks about the flood in the

manner of someone who has experienced the trauma


But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Remember: October 7th is still International Kill Osama

Bin Laden Day!


for October 2, 2010

Hardly Strictly Fest Tops Itself -- Again!
Golden Gate Park Turns Into a Vast Dancefloor

Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs, aka
The Dukes of September, performing last night in San
Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

The kick-off performances of the annual Hardly Strictly

Bluegrass music fest, always at twilight on a Friday,

are almost infallibly magical. But even past concerts by

Alison Krauss/Robert Plant and Jeff Tweedy, great as they

were, were either equaled or outshone by last night's gig

by the supergroup the Dukes of September (featuring Donald Fagen,

Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs).

It was, in effect, a concert by Steely Dan, McDonald's

Doobie Brothers and Scaggs, with all three playing

their very best (and best-known) material, plus covers

that almost eclipsed the songs most came to hear.

I mean, to hear Fagen sing Thunderclap Newman's "Something

in the Air" is to experience the best version of that song you're

ever likely to hear. The tune fits Fagen's vocal range and style

perfectly, as if it had been written for him. And when the band

hit that brilliant key change, it seemed like the whole crowd

was lifted to the clouds (or would have been, had there been

clouds in the sky last night).

But the audience was there to dance, and thousands did

and had plenty to dance about: namely, "Reeling in

the Years" followed by "Peg"; a soulful "Takin' It

to the Streets" and "What a Fool Believes"; and

Scaggs biggest hit, "Lowdown," not to mention a cover

of the O'Jay's "Love Train" that probably had even the

nearby bison bouncing around the paddock. I can't

remember the last time I saw a concert at which so many

people were smiling and dancing.

And we all have entrepreneur Warren Hellman to thank

for this three-day fest, which continues through Sunday.

Because of his generosity, admission is free.

Boz Scaggs wows the crowd with "Lowdown" last night [photo by Paul Iorio]

But I digress. Paul



for September 30, 2010

One of the best songs I've heard this week is an early

demo of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" that aired on KALX

radio yesterday morning. Truth be told, it's not one

of my favorite Paul Simon songs -- and I've heard it

way too many times -- but I've never heard it sound

better than it did yesterday. Austere, pure.

I also couldn't help but think what it must have

sounded like to somebody overhearing it in a rehearsal

hall as Simon was writing it and working it out, or

to a neighbor hearing the song erupt from Simon's

apartment or house.

And, yeah, as DJ Sex for Teens mentioned, the "sail on

silvergirl" verse does sound a bit tacked on -- but only a

bit. Simon probably should have written the third verse

in the shape of the other two, which begin with "When

you're..." Maybe something like: "When

you sail away/Sail on by..."

Also on that show: a terrific demo of Graham Nash's

"Marrakesh Express" and a rough draft of Pete Ham's

"No Matter What" (the great Badfinger song), which I missed

(I heard the DJ announce it).

"No Matter What," by the way, is a lot of fun to play on

acoustic guitar, but I have to say that every time

I hear one of the irresistible Badfinger hits, I can't help

but think about the awful circumstances surrounding the

suicides of Ham and Tom Evans -- one of the saddest cautionary

tales in music business history. (And I'm surprised no one

has made a major documentary on the band yet; maybe

that will change now that the band's corrupt manager, who

essentially caused Ham's death, is dead. I mean, this was a

group that created a string of top ten singles but, in its

prime, didn't even have enough money for groceries.)

As I said, a cautionary tale. Don't sign bad contracts.

And always copyright your songs!

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Here's hoping Jimmy Carter gets well soon.

I hear doctors diagnosed him with "lust in his




for September 27, 2010

Vampire Weekend's Concert in Berkeley Last Saturday

Listening to Vampire Weekend's truly fabulous concert

last Saturday at the Greek in Berkeley, I couldn't help

but think:

In an era when the most influential albums in indie rock

seem to be "Funeral" and "Transatlanticism," it's refreshing

to hear music that uses Paul Simon's "Graceland" as its

aesthetic starting point.

And that's Vampire Weekend's starting (but not its ending)

point; the band's world music melange includes everything

from ska to mbaqanga to (of course) Amerindie.

Last Saturday the band played every song on its two

albums -- 2010's "Contra" and 2007's "Vampire Weekend," already

heavily influencing brand new groups -- plus an inspired

cover of Bruuuce's "I'm Goin' Down." (Frankly, I was hoping

they'd try a cover of Simon's "Crazy Love, Part II," whose

main riff seems to have been the model for the one

in "White Sky." )

The best tunes of the evening were "A-Punk," probably VW's

most successful track to date; "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"

and finale "Walcott," which had fans jumping up and down

and singing in the hills above the open-air theater (where

I heard the gig).

Very fresh stuff, most of it.

Incidentally, Vampire frontman Ezra Koenig wasn't above

touching on the perpetual Cal-Stanford cold war (or

"Stanfurd," as it's spelled in Berkeley -- no

offense to some of the wonderful Stanford alum I know!):

"Whatever your feelings may be about Palo Alto, be they

positive or negative, that's for you guys to discuss

later," he said, introing "One," which he wrote abou

someone from Palo Alto.

The VW American tour continues until around mid-October.

Well worth seeing. (And get there early for the Malawian pop of

opening act The Very Best.)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Also caught a band the previous night at the Greek

called Darker My Love. Very impressive and enjoyable.



for September 25, 2010

What Obama Neglected to Say to the BBC Persia

It's all well and good that President Obama went on BBC Persia

to condemn Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's imbecilic remarks at the

U.N. about the 9/11 attacks.

Obama said the following to the BBC:

"It was offensive. It was hateful. And particularly for
him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a
little north of Ground Zero, where families lost their
loved ones. People of all faiths, all ethnicities who
see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation. For
him to make a statement like that was inexcusable,"

But Obama left out the most crucial thing: what Ahmadinejad

said was...inaccurate. It was factually inaccurate. If what

Ahmadinejad said had had a basis in fact, it would have been

ok for him to say it. But it doesn't. At all.

Obama acted as if Ahmadinejad was stating a controversial

opinion. He wasn't. Mahmoud was distorting the factual


No, think about it. The ONLY thing wrong with what

Ahmadinejad said was that it was untrue.

It seems as if people everywhere are starting to lose respect

and regard for factual accuracy, what used to be called

"the truth." Everywhere, facts appear to have a lower

value than than, say, ethnic solidarity or identity politics

or religious delusion.

Obama showed more passion and genuine outrage about the

Skip Gates and Koran-burning incidents than he did

about Ahmadinejad's comments.

Pundits are always wondering whether Obama will end up

a one-term president like Jimmy Carter. But I think

he more closely resembles George H. W. Bush, another

second-generation Ivy Leaguer who was aloof about

things he should have been passionate about,

passionate about things he should have been neutral

on. (Just look at the famous video footage of all

the former presidents together in the Oval Office

in '09; Obama appears to be far more comfortable

with Bush Sr. than with any of the others. And

Huckabee may be his Clinton and undoing.)

But I digress. Paul



for September 24, 2010

Look at what Ahmadinejad did to The Koran at the U.N.

(he continues to do damage to (and in the name of) Islam)

* * * *

OK, I just came up with a couple new

original jokes. Here they are:

There's a lot of controversy about the death row

execution of a woman in Virginia that just happened.

Experts said she had an IQ of 73 and

the mental capacity of a 13-year-old. And as soon

as I heard that, I thought: Ahmadinejad, have I

got a woman for you!

But I digress. Paul



for September 20, 2010

Sailing to Byzantium

my trip to Islam

The border stamp that got me into Islam from behind the Iron Curtain (above).

Hey, I can boast what many Muslims can't:

I've actually glimpsed the Muslim Prophet

Muhammad first-hand. No joke.

Well, I've seen parts of him -- a lock of his

beard hair (he had dark hair), one of his teeth and his

footprint (he had an average-to-large shoe size), all on

display (along with his sword -- I guess he was a

violent guy, too) in one of the most sacred spots in all

of Islam: the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle in Istanbul.

(And no less than the Topkapi claims the artifacts

are authentic!)

It's amazing they allow non-Muslims like me in there.

I bet even supposed Muslims like bin Laden and al-Awlaki

haven't been there. (And if they haven't, they certainly

never will. Those two have clearly haj-ed their last haj!)

You see, Muhammad arguably belongs to me more than

he belongs to Muslims who have never bothered to take the

journey to Istanbul to see the parts of him on display there.

And I'm a non-theist who sees Muhammad strictly as a historical

figure, not as a religious one.

So for someone to say that I can't draw a picture of him

or describe him as I see fit is highly offensive to me. It's

like someone saying I can't criticize Napoleon, Pericles

or Newt Gingrich.

Nobody owns the copyright to Muhammad or to his writings.

He belongs to me, a secularist, as much as he belongs

to the devout. Muslims don't own him. [By the way, I made

this point in my November 4, 2009, Digression, before

others started echoing it.]

And my opinion, frankly, is that Muhammad never said

or wrote anything as memorable or wise as Nieztsche,

Sartre, Plato or Bob Dylan did. I'm not kidding. The Koran

is a crashing bore, mostly self-promotional stuff along the lines

of "you must worship me and only me yada yada yada."

And in his personal life, Muhammad appears to have been

a bit of a pervert, screwing around with prepubescent

girls and having way too many wives to be considered

anything but aberrant. If he were alive today, there'd

surely be a place for him -- on Megan's List!

That said, I really did give him and the Koran a

shot, traveling thousands of miles by local train to

get to Islam when I was a teenager. And I must

admit that some of the art inspired by The Koran --

the Blue Mosque, which has forever changed my

view of blue, and various byzantine mosaics -- is

some of the most enduring of the Ottoman Era.

And the locals who I enjoyed most in Istanbul

were the Muslim hippies who hung around The

Pudding Shop and sold me banned music like

"Nem Kaldi" by the late rocker Cem Karaca, forced

into exile by the government because of his

"treasonous" music.

By the way, I entered Islam through a rare entrance:

from the Iron Curtain, at the only major eastern border

of the Soviet bloc nations that actually opened to a

NATO/Islamic country.

The border crossing is called Edirne, where Turkey,

Greece and Bulgaria meet in Thrace, and I arrived there,

all alone and barely nineteen, around midnight one night

in 1976. "Long wait at the Bulgaria/Turkey border," I

wrote in my journal that night. "Soldiers [with rifles] all around

checking bags, shining lights....It is pitch black and

probably midnight."

Very tense border crossing.

The stamp that got me into Islam from behind the Iron

Curtain is above (it says "Edirne").

But I digress. Paul



for September 19, 2010

Christine O'Donnell (above) of the CWA, doing
something else with her hands besides...getting cooties!

Christine O'Donnell, the first 12-year-old to ever run for

the United States Senate, was a spokesperson for many years

for the hard right religious group Concerned Women for America


This morning I did a little quick research and unearthed

old long-vanished websites of CWA, which offered

laughable opinions opposing everything from defamation of

religion to soft-core pornography.

Here are some excerpts from past CWA web pages:

-- On ABC TV'S "The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show":
"Host Rupert Everett...took the broadcast to the soft-porn
cellar, with his brothel-huckster antics. At one point,
Everett kissed his way up the leg of an unidentified,
g-string clad model..." -- November 16, 2001

-- Here's what you can do to fight against pornography:
1. Hold a motorcade...
2. Distribute ribbons...
3. Plan a prayer walk [CAN YOU REALLY PRAY WHILE WALKING?)
4. Solicit proclamations...
5. Hold a fall banquet...
6. Create and distribute stickers...
7. Display a banner...
October 29, 1999

-- "There is no Islamic George Washington or John Adams."
November 28, 2001

-- "If you struggle with pornography, or if you are married
to or know someone who struggles, call one of these organizations
right away.."

October 29, 1999

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- My intuition tells me that Tina Fey is probably

preparing an absolutely hilarious impersonation of

Christine O'Donnell for this Saturday's season premiere

of "Saturday Night Live." Betcha.



for September 16, 2010

Remember, everyone...
October 7, 2010, the 9th anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan War, is

International Kill Osama bin Laden Day!

Who knows? "Sheikh Osama" may well be disguised as
a Labrador, for all we know. Here's how he'd look in disguise.
(Hey, he has to blend in with the Haqqanis!)

To my readers in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia (yes, I actually

have some readers there, according to tracking stats, even though

they have only an Intranet there), Yemen and Iran (yup, much to

my surprise, I have readers there, too -- and in all the above nations,

or so say my stats!): I think everyone should rise up, find

Osama bin Laden and kill him on October 7, 2010, the 9th

anniversary of the beginning of the Afghanistan War. Let's

declare it International Kill Osama bin Laden Day!

Now, I can't promise you 72 virgins as a reward for doing

the deed, but I'm sure the U.S. government will have a little

something for you if you get it done!

Where ever he is, there's one thing we know for sure: there are

factions and bitter disagreements among the inner circle

that is hiding and protecting bin Laden. There always are splits

between allies. And that can be exploited.

Anyway, here's a picture of the culprit (above). He's

probably trotting around the Bajour province in the FATAs

or is being protected by the Haqqanis in one of the

Waziristans. Go get 'im!

But I digress. Paul



for September 14 - 16, 2010

Here're my latest cartoons and graphics:

* * * *

And for my readers in France (and my tracking stats say I

have more than a few), here's a cartoon:

* * * *

Check out my satirical screenplay, "Play It Again, Osama,"


* * * *

Speaking of Woody Allen, there's a classic moment

in the new Allen interview published in tomorrow's edition

of The New York Times. The Times's Dave Itzkoff asks,

"How do you feel about the aging process?"

And Allen replies: "Well, I’m against it."

Read it here:

* * * * *

Finally got around to seeing the entire first season

-- the best season -- of the TV series "Get Smart" the

other day. Very funny stuff. But the all-time greatest

episode is a little something called "Kisses for KAOS,"

which appears at the beginning of the third DVD of the first

season (it was the first episode aired in 1966, when the

show had really hit its stride after a spotty few freshman

months in '65).

In "Kisses for KAOS," KAOS agents invent a diabolical

new weapon: paint that is highly explosive, wet or dry. Then

they get a very mad modern artist to create a painting with

the paint, which they hope to hang on a wall at the Pentagon.

The result is an episode that's almost as funny as some of

Woody Allen's early movies.

By the way, doesn't Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) somewhat

resemble the singer/songwriter Feist a bit? I must

confess I had a thing for her when I was nine or ten.

Anyway, check out "Kisses for KAOS."

* * * * *

Someone was wondering the other day whether I have an

agent or manager for my music. The answer is no. The

only person involved in the creation AND in the

representation of my music is me. There

have been a few people who have invested money

in my music over the years -- most notably a long-ago

friend from my high school days William Epps, who,

frankly, I barely know anymore -- but none of them is

authorized in any way to have dealings

with regard to my music. Epps and other investors

certainly weren't involved in the creative side of things

and don't even have standing with regard to my work

(i.e., I'm not signed to a contract with anyone, I'm

the sole composer of everything I release, I'm the sole

owner of the copyrights for my work -- and I'll

do with my music what I please, thank you very much!).

When it comes to my songs, Epps was a payer, not a player

(and it sometimes seems his ego needs a Bayer!).

Anyone interested in my music can contact me at

But I digress. Paul



for September 13, 2010

OK, I came up with a couple jokes this morning, and here

they are:

I'm not saying my girlfriend has grown unattractive

with the years, but let me put it this way. I did

get a call from Bob Gates the other day.

The Secretary of Defense. Gates said I should

take down photos of my girlfriend from my website

because it was demoralizing the troops.

* * * *

I'll tell ya, they really take a hard line on

censorship in Indonesia. The other day the

Indonesian government confiscated thousands

of Victoria Secret catalogs, denouncing

them as "hard core porn."

* * * *

While I'm in the mood for Indonesia jokes:

I'm not saying that Indonesia has a fascistic

streak, but I will say that schoolkids there are

taught that the Third Reich was a hotbed of

Western permissiveness.

* * * *

I went to a new restaurant the other day called

Le Nouveau Riche. At the entrance, you have to

leave your coat and hat, along with

your redneck upbringing.

* * * *

The other day there was yet another U.N. resolution

trying to outlaw blasphemy. Can you believe those guys?

The resolution said that all sacrilegious writings should

be banned worldwide out of respect for religion. And

several Islamic countries agreed to it, but said they'd

need more time to purge their libraries

of the works of Copernicus and Galileo.

* * * *

I hear that Lynne Cheney once asked a

critic, "Is the novel dead?" And the critic

responded, "No, but yours is!"

* * * *

And don't forget to watch "The PBS NewsHour" tonight.

I hear Gwen Ifill moderates a discussion titled, "Why

Did Americans Put Skyscrapers in the Path of

Muslim Airline Pilots on 9/11?"

But I digress. Paul



for September 12, 2010

Autocrats as You've Never Seen Them!

A Pictorial Guide to the Things That Despots

Absolutely Positively Want to Ban

The Ayatollah Shirazi of Iran (or, more accurately
and awkwardly, "G. Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi"), who recently
banned dogs in advertising, in an unlikely pose.

Tyrants tend to be a touchy bunch.

Take Hu Jintao, for instance. As president of the

People's Republic of China, Hu has virtually forbidden

his people to use the word "thunder" or to show

pictures of the youtan poluo flower. (And he has

vigorously tried to suppress his least favorite

newspaper, Southern Weekend (or 南方周末).)

Meanwhile, in North Korea, the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il

has a quite eccentric list of banned things: blue jeans,

long hair, you name it. And, also, Japanese cars.

In Iran, a mid-level Ayatollah, Makarem Shirazi,

has prohibited Iranians from using images of dogs

in advertisements and also heavily discourages

citizens to walk their dogs in public.

Meanwhile, in very pro-censorship Indonesia, president

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has banned protesters from

showing pictures of the water buffalo at demonstrations.

(He thinks dissidents are caricaturing him as slow and

stupid. Now why would he get that impression?)

And in Saudi Arabia, it may be easier to list the things

that are not prohibited. Get this -- a movement

to ban the letter X began there a few years ago. And King

Abdullah (you've seen him -- the dude with the goatee,

aka Maynard G. Abdullah) has outlawed, among other

things, movie theaters and booze. And the city of Mecca

is still closed to non-Muslims.

Thanks to the Internet, of course, dictators can now

be thoroughly defied as never before.

To my readers (especially) outside America: please let me know

who you think the world's worst despot is -- and I'll

try to include him or her in this gallery! (By the way,

I just love this new device that Blogger has invented that

allows me to track where in the world my readership is.

Turns out -- much to my surprise -- I have more

readers outside the U.S. than inside -- and from here to

Japan and China to boot! Amazing! You discover

a lot of fun facts -- like some person in Pakistan

was actually looking at my website at two in the morning the

other night. (I thought they only had an Intranet there.)

And I actually have readers in Benin and Malta! Cool.

Write to me with any comments at!)

But I digress. Paul




I m a g i n e

N o R e l i g i o n


[photo, above, by Paul Iorio]



for September 10, 2010

Will Obama Be Impeached by the 112th Congress?

The b.s. charges would be contempt of Congress and obstruction of


More on that in a moment.

There's no longer any doubt about whether the Democrats will

lose both the House and Senate in November; the only question

is whether they'll have a filibuster-proof majority.

And they probably will. And if they do have over 60 votes in the

Senate, it's hard to imagine that some on the right won't be

pushing for an investigation into, say, whether Obama was actually

born in the U.S.A. I know, the birther thing is digusting, but they

feel they have traction on this one.

Will Jeff Sessions, the next chairman of the House Judiciary Committee,

decide to proceed with impeachment proceedings against

Obama after the president refuses to obey a subpoena

to turn over his birth certificate to the Committee?

The ultimate in Show-Us-Your-Papers-ism, no?

Ah, the summer of 2011. Clear your schedules, TV network

execs; gavel-to-gavel coverage may be coming.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. --

Arizona cop said, "Show me your papers!"
So I did -- and then pooped all over them!

[by Paul iorio]


for September 10, 2010

Here's my synopsis of The Koran, The Torah and The Bible:

"I am the way and the light, and you must

worship me and worship no other -- and if you

don't follow the way and the light you will find

yourself on a dark path that leads only to

eternal damnation."

There it is -- that's 90% of the Bible, The Torah and The Koran, summarized

in a neat 40 words!

But shhh! Don't tell anyone. Too many world businesses rely

on people believing the supernatural tales of the Koran, the Bible

and the Torah -- including the Haj Industry of Saudi Arabia.

I mean, without the Haj industry, the Mecca-Medina metro area

might have to be propped up by oil money.

But I digress. Paul



for September 10, 2010

Hallelujah, Blasphemy, the great foundation of this nation!

But does Obama respect that foundation?

Does President Obama have any respect for the First Amendment

of the U.S. Constitution? I listened to his press conference

this morning and didn't hear any evidence that he's a friend

of free speech at all.

He's constantly saying that we have to respect fascists and

that we can't do anything to cause the Third Reich to throw

a temper tantrum. I hear a lot of that from him.

But what I don't hear from him is a full-throated and

unambiguous defense of the reason this country was

founded: freedom of expression! Religion is merely a

subset of that.

What Obama forgets is that this nation was founded on the

idea that citizens can offend and dis King George's religion

without the government coming down on them.

That's the foundation of this nation: the right to be blasphemous

toward the religions of various kingdoms and fiefdoms. And

the fiefdoms of fundamentalist Islam are trying to enforce, via

asymmetric means, the rules of their mosques outside their mosques

(e.g., it is forbidden to draw a picture of Muhammad, it is

forbidden to say the word "Allah" if you are a non-Muslim, etc).

What I never hear from Obama is a warning to the

fundamentalists that they have absolutely no right

whatsoever to get violent about something that

offends them.

In the spirit of the First Amendment and to underscore the fact

that it was fundamentalists who attacked us on 9/11 (and who

continue to attack "infidels" worldwide), here are some

sacrilegious songs that I've written and performed recently,

lampooning fanatical Christians, Muslims and Jews. (Is there

really any substantial difference between the three? Grown

men and women actually believe that supernatural stuff? Stuff

about people living in whales and rising from the dead? And

what about Santa Claus coming down the chimney. Do they

believe that, too?)

For your listening pleasure, just click here to hear Paul Iorio's

"Sacrilegious Songs":

But I digress. Paul



for September 9, 2010

Bravo Bloomberg, Boo Obama

The only major public figure who has made complete

sense on the Burn-the-Koran controversy so far is

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York. There he was the

other day at a press conference, showing a genuine

profile-in-courage in saying what should be obvious

to any true American: the First Amendment of the U.S.

Constitution protects Imam Terry Jones's right to burn

any book or flag he wants to burn.

If Imam Jones wants to act like a white trash version of

the Taliban, let him. That's his own punishment.

Meanwhile, President Obama has never sounded so off-key as

he did this morning on ABC News's "Good Morning America,"

where he never mentioned the First Amendment as a major

consideration with regard to this case. And that's offensive

(particularly since Obama had no problem acting like a

constitutional lawyer when it came to taking a stand on

the mosque near Ground Zero). Instead, on GMA, he sounded

like some petty local machine-style politician,

effectively threatening to use the Gainesville Fire Department

to quash this guy's First Amendment rights. (By the way,

Gainesville, for those who don't know, is a very politically

progressive college town. To say Jones represents Gainesville

is like saying John Yoo represents Berkeley, Calif.,

where I live.)

First, let's state the obvious. Absolutely nobody reasonable

defends Imam Jones's proposed Koran burning. It's plainly

an ugly and indefensible act redolent of the Third Reich

and right-wing Islam.

But, as Bloomberg noted, the U.S. Constitution exists

precisely to protect the opinions of pariahs and the

extremely unpopular.

Now, Nixon-like, Obama is citing "national security" to put

the kibash on this particular example of free

expression that he happens to disagree with.

Obama's argument goes like this: if this private citizen

exercises his First Amendment rights, it will inflame those

in Islam who are against free speech.

Using that logic, let's remove Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic

Verses" from American bookstores and libraries. After all,

it might provoke fundamentalist Muslims to riot and commit

acts of terrorism.

And let's ban Deepak Chopra's new book, because it might

cause militant Islamists to become violent.

And let's take "South Park" off the air, because it inflames

ignorant religious literalists who might attack our troops

in Afghanistan.

And let's ban mosques in America, for that matter, because,

after all, they provoke the religious right to commit

acts of arson and assault.

While we're at it, why don't we get rid of the First Amendment

altogether, at least for the short term, because it

offends Islamic militants deeply?

(By the way, Imam Rauf should be ashamed of himself for

disingenuously using the "national security" defense in an

interview last night, saying that moving his mosque

might anger militants and cause bloodshed. It seems anyone

can use that excuse to justify anything these days.)

Let's be real: the First Amendment is one of the core

American values that we're defending right now in

Afghanistan. Further, there has never been a century in

American history in which U.S. citizens have not died

in defense of free speech and other Constitutional

rights. And this century, already ten percent spent, is no


All totalitarians, from the Taliban to the Ku Klux Klan

(which are really two peas in a pod), must be taught that

violence is not an acceptable response to offensive

expression.(Incidentally, it's telling that some of the same

religulous jackasses who danced in the streets when they

saw burning people jumping from the twin towers are now

in tears and enraged because a book might be burned.

Such delicate sensitivities.)

Even worse than the spectacle of Imam Jones burning copies

of the Koran on Saturday would be the spectacle of Jones being

hauled away in handcuffs by the Gainesville P.D. for doing so.

If police were to arrest Jones, citing technical code

violations of some sort, they would be doing exactly the same thing that

totalitarian regimes do when they stop protests that

they disagree with. (And Hillary's boneheaded call for a media

blackout of Jones's dissident activity recalls the

autocratic Mayor Daley (Senior), who tried (in vain) to censor

protesters like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin at the Chicago

convention in 1968.)

What message would the arrest of Jones send to the rest

of the world? That the U.S. now jails its dissidents the

same way the backward governments of Iran and Indonesia

and Saudi Arabia do?

Rather, Obama should use this as a teachable moment, showing

the badly-educated fundamentalists of Islam that private

citizens in America can express themselves in ways contrary

to government policy.

Bloomberg has it right. The First Amendment doesn't

just protect the speech of those with whom you agree.

Obama has it wrong. Worse, he appears unprincipled.

But I digress... Paul



for September 4, 2010

The upcoming anniversary of 9/11 is, of course, a time to

remember all the innocent people killed that day. But it's

also a day to remember that the people who attacked us

were truly evil fucks, arguably the most fascistic bunch the

planet has produced since the Nazis.

In recognition of that fact, here are a couple songs I wrote and

recorded earlier this year: "Taliban Virgins" and "Draw Me a

Picture of Muhammad," the latter posted online for the

very first time here.

Just click here:

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- The only people who could possibly be offended by

the two songs are militant right-wing Muslims -- and if

such folks are offended, good. Truly moderate Muslims

should have no problem with these tunes and might even

want to sing along (lyrics included at link, above).



for August 28, 2010

The Last Word on the Remastered
"Exile on Main Street"

Remastered or unremastered, "Exile on Main Street" is

-- I know it's almost a cliche to say it -- the Rolling Stones's

best album, or (at the very least) is tied with "Sticky Fingers"

as their greatest. It's hard to make a case for ranking any

of the others number one, as strong as some of the rest are.

The competition (besides "Sticky Fingers")? "Some Girls,"

their biggest-seller to date, a vibrant retort to the punks,

but a bit too unvariegated. "Let It Bleed," which features

some of their best songs, though many tracks go on too long

and need an editor. "Beggar's Banquet" is overrated (the

arrangement of its top track, "Sympathy for the Devil,"

is not nearly as effective as the one on "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out").

And, yes, the American edition of "Between the Buttons" is

truly underrated (especially vinyl side two), but still

doesn't rise all the way to the top.

"Exile" doesn't include the band's greatest songs, but

it's their best CD. Conversely, the Stones albums with

their best songs ("Out of Our Heads," "Let it Bleed," etc.)

aren't their greatest collections.

"Exile" is the white album of a band that never created

an "Abbey Road" (or you could almost -- almost -- argue

it's the Stones's Graceland," what with its gospel choir element).

And it's also their first disc released after the competition

in the music biz had fully shifted from the Beatles to

Led Zeppelin, though there is no discernible concession to

the Zeppelin sound. (It's funny they felt more challenged by

the punks in '78 than by Zep in '72. Of course, it would

be hard to imagine Mick Jagger singing about "the mystery of the

quotient" with a straight face. Or wearing a cross unironically.

That's why we love 'im!)

The newly remastered "Exile," released a few months ago, has

better sonic emphasis and improved audio clarity on most tracks.

Percussion is higher in the mix on several cuts ("Shake Your Hips,"

"Turd on the Run" and "Sweet Black Angel," which almost sound

as if they were produced by Mickie Most, the master of putting

background sound in the foreground to hooky effect).

More significantly, the gospel-style background vocals on

several tunes -- which give this disc a flavor like no

other Stones album -- are more prominent, for the most part.

(The Stones had experimented, less successfully, with choral

vocals or gospel choirs before, most notably on "Salt of

the Earth," which used the Watts Street Gospel Choir; and

on "You Can't Always Get What You Want," which in retrospect

probably should have been choirless.)

The remastering most benefits "Rocks Off," which now takes

off like a tuned-up Ferrari; "Lovin' Cup," animated by Nicky

Hopkins's piano playing as never before; "Sweet Virginia," where

the hitting of guitar strings creates cross-rhythms; and

"Casino Boogie," where Bill Wyman's bass playing has real geometry.

But the best songs on the album -- "All Down the Line,"

"Torn and Frayed" and "Lovin Cup" -- don't really gain

much from the re-mix. In fact, I actually prefer the un-remixed

version of "All Down the Line," because that brilliant drum

roll at the beginning is dirtier and gives you the sense

there's a real drum in the room on the old version. And

"Soul Survivor"'s main riff, cleaned up, now sounds exactly

like "It Must Be Hell," a later Stones obscurity.

Included in the remastered "Exile" set is a separate disc

of unreleased material, which, taken as a free-standing

Stones album, sort of ranks with "Metamorphosis." The best

of "Exile"'s un-issued stuff, by far, is "Good Time Women," which

is an early version of "Tumblin' Dice" that, with a

few tweaks, wouldn't sound at all like "Tumblin' Dice"; and

"Plundered My Soul," which grows on you, though Jagger probably

should've taken another try at the vocal. (There's also

some revealing ambient noise that shows the mood of

the sessions; check out the inadvertently-recorded

chuckling in the background of "I'm Not Signifying,"

at the three-minute, 21-second mark.)

All told, the re-issue is, if nothing else, a great

excuse to re-discover "Exile." The joys are still

there, most of 'em enhanced. "Happy" still sounds

like someone lighting the fuse of a bottle rocket.

"Torn and Frayed" still sounds as crisp as a mid-autumn

day. "Ventilator Blues" conjures an image of sci-fi

invaders. "Just Wanna See His Face" glides by like

a reverb dream.

And Charlie Watts proves he may well be the greatest

drummer since the invention of the drum, whenever that was.

If I were the Stones, I'd tinker with "Good Time Women," use it

as the basis for something brand new.

But I digress. Paul



for August 27, 2010

Here're a few jokes I came up with this morning (groans


Have you heard about that massive traffic jam outside Beijing?

Lasted for ten days and stretched 60 miles. Incredible gridlock.

And I hear John Boehner's pissed. He called it an "unauthorized

and insulting imitation of the U.S. Congress. "

* * * *

Rosie O'Donnell was spotted at an LGBT rally the other day. But it

turns out Rosie had misread the sign; she thought it was a line

for a BLT.

* * * *

I'm told that Imam Feisal Rauf, of the so-called Ground Zero

mosque, is a moderate Sufi. Not a militant, they say. Which is

a reminder that Islam is diverse. And the difference is this:

Sunni fundamentalists think people like Salman Rushdie and Kurt

Westergaard should be murdered. But Sufis believe Rushdie and

Westergaard should be killed.

* * *

I'll tell ya, this Ground Zero mosque controversy is getting

out of hand. I was in bed with my girlfriend last night.

I made the first move. She said, "Not tonight honey. We're

too close to Ground Zero."

* * * *

Mayor Bloomberg reportedly met behind closed doors with

the wife of the cabbie stabbed in an alleged hate crime.

Nice gesture. And she was even supposed to appear at a news

conference this morning, but I'm told she was too busy at the

pharmacy buying morning after pills.

* * * *

I have a friend who recently got accepted to Bryn Mawr. And her

mother burst out crying when she heard about it. Her daughter said,

"Why are you crying? This is great news!" The mother said,

"I didn't know you were gay!"

But I digress. Paul



for August 26, 2010

Fatwa Against Pooches in Iran!

A low-level Ayatollah in Iran, Shirazi, recently outlawed

images of dogs in advertising, among other canine-related

restrictions. Here's a link to an L.A. Times story

about it:

I must admit that some years back I came across a

pooch-related promotion that forever convinced me

that dogs-in-advertising are not evil! It happened

while I was writing and reporting my fourth story for

The Washington Post, in 2002, which was partly about

a San Francisco restaurant called The Doggie Diner.

Here's a photo I shot for the article I wrote for

The Washington Post:

[writing, reporting, photography
by Paul Iorio, published in The Washington Post, March 24, 2002]

By the way, here's an editorial cartoon I came up with this morning

about the Ayatollah's fatwa:

[by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Interesting remembrance of Max's Kansas City and Andy Warhol

on the site (linked here:

Reminds me that Warhol would have turned 82 a couple weeks

ago, if he had survived what should have been routine surgery

at New York Hospital in early 1987.

I didn't really know Andy Warhol, though I did attend several

private parties in Manhattan in the 1980s that Warhol was at.

In terms of first-hand memories: the first time I saw Warhol

was in late 1985, at a party for the rock band Ratt at A Dish

of Salt. And the last time I saw him was on July 4, 1986, on

a boat anchored in New York harbor in the shadow of the

Statue of Liberty. ZZ Top was aboard the boat and gave a

concert for the few dozen people on deck. (What an opportunity

it was to see ZZ Top perform their classic tunes from a

distance of just a few feet, by the way.)

But Warhol almost upstaged every celeb onboard that day. As I described

it in my November 3, 2009, blog:

"Just before ZZ Top performed a private
concert for the small crowd on the boat, Warhol
emerged from the upper deck and walked down the stairs,
causing almost everyone onboard to stop and stare.

Warhol, accustomed to that sort of attention, had a characteristically
novel response: he pulled out a camera and started taking
pictures of partygoers as if they were the celebrities and
main attractions. Very, uh, Warholesque."

And now (for the first time online!) here is the review

I wrote of that ZZ Top performance (and of Warhol's appearance),

which was published in Cash Box magazine in July 1986:

* * *

While I'm in a Warhol mood, here's a 1972 work of his,

"Vote McGovern," that I photographed a year or so ago.

But I digress. Paul



for August 25, 2010

The most hilarious song I've heard all year so far (outside of

The Flight of the Conchords) is a great ditty titled "Fred Schneider"

by a band called The Punk Group. And, as you might suspect, it's

about the famously flamboyant lead singer of The B-52s -- and

is also a fun and spot-on B-52s parody. I heard it the other

night on Marshall Stax's very entertaining Monday night

show on KALX radio.

Other brilliant tunes I've heard on KALX lately: a cover

of the Ramones overlooked "7-11" performed as a 1960s girl group

song (by the way, Ronnie Spector should release an entire

album of Ramones covers, "Ronnie Sings the Ramones"). Also,

Dion's "The Majestic" caught my ear.

And coming home from a concert some weeks ago, I was

listening to KALX and was knocked out by the very

inspired (and long-forgotten) Hollies classic "I'm Alive"

(which Pinera ought to send down to the trapped miners

in Chile).

But I digress. Paul



for August 24, 2010

And now, a few original jokes I came up with earlier this year...

Everyone's criticizing Imam Feisal Rauf these days. But

they ignore the fact that he has shown a vast degree of

tolerance -- toward the 19 hijackers and bin Laden.

* * * *

Seriously, folks, I went to Cash for Clunkers with my wife.

The dealer said, "I can't pay you anything for the clunker,

but I'll give you a few bucks for the car!" [ba-da-ching]*

* just a joke -- I'm not married!

* * * *

When I was a kid, I had a friend next door whose mother just didn't

love him. In fact, he once had a bad case of dandruff -- and his

mom told the doctor, "Do not resuscitate."

But I digress. Paul



for August 21, 2010

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf Once Said:

"I wouldn't say that Goodman, Chaney and

Schwerner deserved what happened. But

Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner's activism

was an accessory to the crime that happened."

More on that quote in a moment.

First, let me say that Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church in

Philadelphia, Mississippi, is sort of a sacred place. It's

the site of a memorial for slain civil rights activists

Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner,

all murdered by white racists in 1964 nearby.

Now imagine if a pastor who openly and publicly justified

the killings of the three civil rights heroes were to try to

build a church near that memorial in Philadelphia. And imagine

if that pastor said on-the-record that Goodman,

Chaney and Schwerner had somehow provoked the Ku Klux Klan

into doing what they did.

Would you back the right of that pastor to open a church

next to the memorial to Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner?

I wouldn't. I would protest and try to convince him to

find someplace else to preach hateful sermons.

Well, the same thing is happening near Ground Zero.

An imam who has publicly justified the hate crimes of 9/11

wants to open a church near the site of the very hate crimes

that he (wrongly) believes were partially provoked by

their victims.

And we should be good citizens and say, "No, not there, imam."

For the record, the imam who wants to build the mosque --

Feisal Abdul Rauf -- once told CBS's "60 Minutes":

"I wouldn't say that the U.S. deserved what

happened [on 9/11]. But U.S. policy was an

accessory to the crime that happened."

So, above, I quoted Rauf in full -- merely

substituting the name of one set of hate crime

victims (U.S. citizens killed on 9/11) for

that of another (Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner).

Bigotry must be stopped by everyday people where ever it arises.

Bystanders and concerned citizens should have done everything

they could to stop Muslim bigots from stabbing Theo van Gogh,

from killing a Japanese translator of "The Satanic Verses,"

from trying to kill Salman Rushdie, from making death threats against Trey

Parker and Matt Stone, from trying to kill Kurt Westergaard, etc.

Right-wing violence like that should not be tolerated, and

it takes a village to stop it.

And, for crissakes, in the run-up to the ninth anniversary of

9/11, how about showing a little compassion for the victims

instead of endlessly trying to justify the words of an imam

who (in essence) backed the attack. (Yes, he did. Don't spin it.)

* * * *

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells the IAEA:
"Yes, I kampf!"
[by Paul Iorio]

* * * *

Because my television has been on the fritz for the last week, I

haven't been able to get NBC (I'm starting to miss "Today" and

"Nightly News"). But I did catch Brian Williams on "Charlie Rose"

the other night and saw clips of the new NBC News docu on

Katrina. Harrowing stuff.

In remembrance of the tragedy of '05, here's a shot I took of New

Orleans during my 1976 trip there:

The way it was. [photo by Paul Iorio]

By the way, TNY reports that over a hundred thousand people

who relocated to Houston after Katrina are still living in

Houston. I thought about them as I flew over Houston

several weeks ago. Here's a photo I shot of a Houston 'burb:

Houston subdivision, last month. [photo
by Paul Iorio]

Also, Brian Williams, on "Charlie Rose," mentioned that he

has a pretty amazing passport that includes -- get this -- visas

to Iraq and to Iran.

Impressive, I must admit.

But I almost have that beat. Check this out: here's

my 1976 visa to Bulgaria, the most Soviet of the eastern bloc

satellites at the time. Below, the Cold War document that

enabled me to get behind the Iron Curtain in '76 (as a

teenage American citizen traveling alone by local train

on my way to Istanbul):

A rarity: a visa to Bulgaria (and border stamp) on my
1976 American passport [from Paul Iorio's

[For the record: my point-of-entry was from
Dimitrovgrad, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). Date:
August 14, 1976. I had just turned 19 and was traveling alone.

How was I able to get that visa? Well, I certainly
did not have any family connections in government
or politics (or the military) at the time, that's
for sure! (In fact, I was the family connection in
politics in that period.) And if I had applied from
the U.S., I might've been denied. The thing that
made it possible was that...I applied for my visa from Rome, Italy.]

* * * *

I was warned not to take photos behind
the Iron Curtain, but, being the rebellious
teenager that I was, I shot pics anyway.
Here's one of Sofia, Bulgaria, that I shot.
(What you see, above, is a digital
pic of my slide transparency, so the quality of
the photo would be far better if I had
properly transferred the transparency to a
print (which I will do one day).) [photo by Paul Iorio]

But I digress. Paul



for August 17, 2010

There is clearly an inconsistent application of the

Establishment Clause coming from President Obama these

days. Separation of church and state,

he says, is so absolute and sacrosanct that we cannot

and should not stop the mosque at 45 Park Place from

being built. His hands are tied by Constitutional

principle, he says.

Which means he must be preparing a speech that advocates

deleting the words "under god" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Because if ever there was a violation of the separation of

church and state, forcing students in public schools

(that are partially funded by non-theist taxpayers) to

engage in a coercive religious chant every morning is

such a violation.

But Obama doesn't seem to care about non-theist schoolchildren

being forced to chant "under god" every day. Apparently,

the Establishment Clause is absolute when it comes to

Muslims, not so absolute when it comes to atheists.

So let's not pretend Obama's stance is based on principle,

because if it were, he'd also be taking on that part of the

Pledge, which is highly offensive to non-theists. (I guess we

don't count.)

Truth is, none of the rights in the Constitution is

absolute. Hey, I'm almost a free speech absolutist, but

I don't think you should put a strip club next to an elementary

school. There are restrictions on gun rights, speech rights,

religious rights that almost no one disagrees with because

(sometimes) common sense trumps all.

And in the case of the mosque near Ground Zero, common sense

should prevail -- and it should be built somewhere else.

And if the Imam behind the project -- Feisal Abdul Rauf -- were

as sincerely committed to creating multi-cultural harmony as

he says he is, then he would, with great wisdom and generosity

of spirit, say: "Because of the sensitivity of this location, my

proposed mosque is causing division, not unity, so I will

build it elsewhere." (I hear Gov. Paterson may help the good

imam see the light later this month. Or perhaps the

building's insurers might put it to him in a way he'll


By the way, Rauf's public comments on 9/11 are almost

nauseating. Can you imagine what he says in private?

Here's my guess: "You put Israel in middle of Palestine, so we put

mosque near Ground Zero! Now how you like, how you like?!!" (Never mind

that Palestine was preceded for centuries by Israel. But I digress.)

Rauf is on the record as saying the U.S. provoked the 9/11

attacks, which is sort of like saying the Manson family

was provoked by the affluence of its victims. Most of

his backers in the mainstream American press are either

self-hating Jews; Western journalists reporting from Islam who have

sort of gone native; pundits who grew up provincial and are now

overcorrecting for their provincialism by siding with

redneck Muslims; and billionaires who only see the world

from 30,000 feet up.

But back to the mosque issue.

Few would object if it were north of Chambers Street, which

nobody considers part of the Ground Zero neighborhood.

(It's funny that you can live in Manhattan for years and not know

the World Trade Center area very well. Me, that was my

workplace neighborhood for years, so I know from Park Place

and know how close to Vesey it is and know how things

change as soon as you hit Chambers. It's no coincidence many

out-of town pundits (or New Yorkers who don't know that area)

rhetorically ask, "Would ten blocks north be ok? How about

15?" The answer? North of Chambers would be fine.)

Perhaps if it had been the Sears Towers, and not the twin

towers, that were hit on 9/11 by the religious right (that

Imam Rauf justifies), maybe Obama would have a better feel

for the feelings of the community being affected here.

Here's my rebuttal of Obama's remarks:

OBAMA: “Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam — it is a gross distortion
of Islam,”

MY REBUTTAL: No, Qaeda's cause is its version of Islam,
shared by tens of millions of Muslims around the world (including
domestic radical imams who preach at mosques in the U.S.).

OBAMA: "Muslims...were killed on 9/11"

MY REBUTTAL: The Muslim victims of the 9/11 attacks were
collateral damage. If Atta & Co. could have avoided the
Muslims at the trade center, they would have. Bin Laden has
even apologized for inadvertently killing Muslims during
the attack.

In this one instance, Obama is uncharacteristically off-key

(as if some outside amateur were advising him) and politically

unwise. It's not just that he has given the religious

right a new mallet with which to hit him. (And it won't be

long before there's some Toby Keithish country song along the

lines of: "They knocked down the towers and put up a mosque.")

It's that his decision is turning off the purple independent voters.

All this could have been avoided if he had stuck to his original line:

"It's a local issue -- we're not commenting." (Unless he also

has the political courage to advocate the deletion of

"under god" from the Pledge. Fair is fair.)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Regarding Paul Krugman's new blog post in The Times,

on another subject (the economy):

If an average teenage Phish head or goth rocker

had been Secretary of the Treasury in 2008, I can't

imagine that the economy would have turned out worse.

If you had put a random Joe off the street in charge

of Lehman or AIG in '08, I can't see how they'd have

botched things in a more spectacular fashion.

In fact, maybe we should have put a goth rocker in charge

of Moody's back in '08. And perhaps he or she would not

have given triple-A ratings to pure junk, as the "experts" did.

Amateurs, bringing a fresh perspective, probably

would have done better than the economic experts,

who failed in a manner that causes one to conclude that

expertise means almost nothing (or nothing of practical

value) in that field.



for August 17, 2010

I was idly browsing Google Maps last night,

checking out a map of Mecca, Saudi Arabia,

when suddenly I noticed a distinct, unmistakable

geometric pattern to the streets of the center

city. Do you notice it, too?

Mecca's main drag?

But I digress. Paul



for August 15, 2010

I've just seen a few new films, and here're my reviews:

Phillip Noyce's "Salt"

In this thriller, Angelina Jolie, playing triple agent Evelyn

Salt, kicks the asses of and outruns thirteen separate sets

of guys who are chasing and trying to capture her. This

happens, of course, on her way to saving the world (and -- in

real life -- to running for a U.S. Senate seat in 2020, for

which "Salt" gives her bona fide foreign policy credentials).

"Salt" sort of starts like "Saw," turns into "MacGyver" and

then into "North by Northwest" and "Mission Impossible 2," before

morphing into "Dirty Harry" and "Dark Angel."

The film begins, inexplicably and almost irrelevantly, in a

North Korean prison, where our hero Salt is being tortured

mercilessly by Kim Jong-il's minions -- until an activist

working tirelessly for her freedom wins her release.

Of course, she falls in love with her rescuer, who succeeds

in turning her from a Russian-plant-masquerading-as-a-CIA-agent

to a triple agent who sabotages a Russian plot to destroy the U.S.

(Otherwise, the DPRK doesn't figure in the plot at all.)

Anyway, poor Salt, brainwashed in Moscow as a child to become a

Soviet mole, is part of an ingeniously evil plan -- imaginatively

called Day X -- to turn the world's population against the

U.S. -- first by making the murder of the Russian president

look like a CIA plot and then by killing nine million

Muslims with unauthorized Pentagon attacks on Mecca and Tehran.

(But why take such a circuitous route to destroy the U.S.?

Why not just nuke Washington instead?)

Of course, before the nuclear attacks can be downloaded -- we see a

progress bar on a computer screen for suspense -- guess who

overcomes all odds to thwart the carnage?

Yes, Salt, played by (soon-to-be) U.S. Senator Jolie, future

chairman of the foreign relations committee and candidate for

president in 2024. America's Cleopatra (if only she can erase

those pesky Billy Bob days!).

But back to the picture.

The movie keeps you watching, though there are far too many

hairpin escapes in which she seems to be immune to broken bones

and internal injuries, as if she's wearing an Iron

Man suit.

Still, if Jolie were an unknown actress and "Salt" was her debut, she'd be

discovered all over again.

If all you want is a popcorn thriller, this will surely do -- but

don't expect "The Ghost Writer."

* * * *

Jay Roach's "Dinner for Schmucks"

Sweet, mean, funny and somewhat peculiar, "Dinner for

Schmucks" is sort of sui generis, even if it is a remake

of a French film. I mean, a mouse taxidermist as the

title character? A dinner at which the main course is

cruelty, served cold?

Yet it works, largely on the strength of masterful

performances by Paul Rudd, who sometimes reminds me of

Albert Brooks in his prime, and Steve Carell, who often

recalls Peter Sellers.

And then there is rising star Stephanie Szostak, an actress so

attractive she can evoke the way love looked the very first

time (and she sure can re-route a guy's blood flow, too!).

Carell's character grows from being an idiot (who quotes John

Lennon this way: "You may say I'm a dreamer/but I'm not") to

being a sort of Chauncey Gardiner (noting, rightly, that beauty

is skin deep -- unless someone has bad facial bone structure).

Very watchable and lots of fun.

* * * *

Noah Baumbach's "Greenberg"

Awful film. And this is coming from someone who

loved "The Squid and the Whale."

The problem, and it's a huge one, is the central character, who

is badly conceived (he's supposedly a musician but doesn't

even remotely act like one), not credible (he's creepy and

unpleasant but appears to have no shortage of friends and lovers)

and (by design) speaks in a way that lacks any sort of flow or

momentum. It's kind of like having a protagonist who is

constantly lisping or stammering throughout the whole film;

it soon becomes tiresome, formulaic, predictable.

Larry David can play this sort of neurotic dysfunction for

laughs on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and make it seem fresh

and hilarious. But "Greenberg" is just a drag (and, also,

the lowest-grossing Focus film of the year).

But I digress. Paul



for August 11 - 13, 2010

A Couple Upcoming Shows, etc.....

A few mid-summer items about upcoming shows:

First, They Might Be Giants are playing a free gig at

Stern Grove in San Francisco on August 22.

I've been in an archival mood lately, so I thought I'd share

the first stories about They Might Be Giants that I wrote

and reported, dating back to September 1985 (almost 25 years

ago!), when I penned the very first story about the duo to appear

in any national or trade publication.

Here's that review [click scans to enlarge them]:

Above, my write-up of They Might Be Giants's September
13, 1985, gig at Neither/Nor in the East Village.
At the time, they were unsigned and nobody had written
about them at the national mag or trade publication
level. It appeared in the Sept. 29, 1985, issue of
Cash Box. (By the way, weeks later in '85,
the head of the indie record company
that would later sign They Might Be Giants came
to my office for an interview -- and I handed him
a copy of the issue of Cash Box with the above
write-up in it and mentioned the duo to him, which
is where he likely first heard of them.)

* * * *

Here's a flyer for the '85 Neither/Nor show (above).

* * * *

Here's the second piece I wrote about the Giants.
It appeared in the December 14, 1985, issue of
Cash Box.

* * * *

A later piece of mine, from the December 13,
1986, issue of Cash Box, capturing a
very fun and vivid interview I conducted with
the duo!

* * * *

By the time of this concert review, published in
Cash Box on February 28, 1987, the Giants were
no longer obscure and had expanded their audience
considerably. This is how I reviewed their February
7, 1987, concert at CBGB.

* * * * *
* * * * *

Also on August 22, Cirque du Soleil is giving a free

show at the Grove in Los Angeles, performing parts of

six of their shows. (Here's an L.A. Times piece

about it:

I'm not a huge fan of Cirque (though I hear great

things about The Beatles' "Love") and have only seen them

once (the Dralion show in Irvine, Calif, on

January 9, 2000). But some of their acrobatics and effects

are nothing short of magical, and you should

catch them if you can.

Ah, my first Cirque show, Jan. 9, '00. Took the train
to Irvine, saw the show, interviewed various
Cirque players, wrote it up for the San Fran Chronicle!
[Above, Dralion ticket and train ticket to Irvine. (Was
I the only person in L.A. who actually used mass transit
back then? I guess I should have filed an expense report
ten years ago.)]

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- By the way, one thing to remember about my writing

for Cash Box magazine is that every single story that had

my byline was written, reported AND edited solely by me.

(And except for the cover stories, they were all initiated

by me, too.) The great thing about working for the magazine

was that the powers-that-be let writers write and report stories

with a great deal of freedom. I was out at the clubs until

3a.m. and then back in the office at 9 or 10a.m. to write

up what I'd seen.

I was hired in late August 1985 and within a couple weeks (not

even a month) I was already finding and writing about soon-to-be

platinum or gold bands that nobody else was writing about at

trade publications. It was a skeleton operation in New York,

so there was (thankfully) nobody to do any editing (or any additional

reporting). Hence, I had to do it all myself (this is one case

where nobody can swiftboat me about my work!).

And some of the results -- if I should say so myself -- stand the

test of time. Here are a few brief clips (not even the best

ones) from my Cash Box writings:

Musicians seemed to like this review I wrote about
a performance by the Ordinaires in 1986.
[click it to enlarge it]

* * * *

Weeks after writing this piece, I was sitting alone
backstage at the Ritz in New York (writing up the show
I'd just seen) when in comes none other than Jack Bruce
himself, who had read my review and stopped by to chat.

* * * *

Steve Earle told me he thought this piece (above) was the
best one written about him during the first wave of
coverage of "Guitar Town." Our interview took
place on roof of a Days Inn in Manhattan.

* * * *

Some record exec had a bright idea: hand out hard
ping pong balls to the audience before a performance
by the Jefferson Starship. I guess we'll never know why.
The results, however, were disastrous, as I saw with my
own eyes: dozens of fans in the front row starting
throwing the balls at anyone and everyone onstage.

* * * *

If you see a concert near the front rows and pay
close attention, you sometimes see some astonishing
stuff onstage. At a Public Image show at the Beacon,
I sat close to the stage, paid attention, took notes.
And this is what happened.



for August 9, 2010

Date of my 1989 interview with Anastasio further corroborated

Going through the unpublished parts of my audiotaped 1989 interview

with Trey Anastasio this morning, I realized it's packed with date

references that clearly and definitively mark it as having been conducted

during the week beginning Sunday, January 29, 1989.

Here's one tell-tale quote from the interview
(my annotations are in red):

TREY ANASTASIO: Last week, we played at The



ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 1989]. It was just us, so we

sold it out. First time we played [in Boston], we played at



IN 1988, ON DECEMBER 2, 1988, AND ON NOVEMBER 3, 1988]...and

that went real well, so we played there again. It was too crowded. So then

we tried to get a gig at the Paradise. And we [finally] did that



PARADISE] And that sold out."

Here's another tell-tale quote from the interview:



[Trey is prompted by Mike, who is heard in the background] is 23 [MIKE


BE 26 UNTIL MAY 1989]. And Fishman is 23 [THIS IS THE MOST


FEBRUARY 19, 1989].

But I digress. Paul



for August 7, 2010

Night Two of Phish in Berkeley

Primo live Phish last night in Berkeley, Calif.,

at the second of three shows at the Greek. And the

hills outside the open-air theater were overrun with

thousands of dancing, exuberant fans. It looked something

like a bloodless neo-hippie revolution, or the full flowering

of United States counter-cultural freedom. If the energy

of Phish heads was somehow unleashed on Washington, D.C., Washington

wouldn't stand a chance.

One of the very best songs of the night was

a recent one, "Ocelot," from 2009's "Joy,"

which sounded like a combination of vintage Los Lobos

and the Grateful Dead of "Europe '72."

Also, a very strong "Ghost" and marvelous

covers of the Talking Heads's "Cities" and Led

Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times."

Here's the setlist:

Set One

Chalk Dust Torture
It's Ice
The Moma Dance
Bathtub Gin
Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan

Set Two

Rock 'n' Roll
Mike's Song
Backwards from the Number Line
Show of Life
Seven Below
Weekapaug Groove
You Enjoy Myself


Good Times, Bad Times

* * * *

By the way, a phew accurate Phish Phacts...

Golly, gee, the bad information on the Internet

about the very early history of Phish is

astonishing, almost breathtaking. I have some general

admiration for Wikipedia, no doubt about it,

but when it comes to Phish history, Wikipedia doesn't

know what the hell it's talking about. At all.

Regarding the history of the band, circa '88 to '90, here are

the actual facts:

Part of Phish's first major album, "Junta," was recorded in 1987,

and the rest was recorded in the winter of '88/'89. The part

that was recorded in 1987 was also self-released as a cassette

demo and sold/distributed to fans, mostly at shows. Those tapes

were not called "Junta." They are identifed by a label on the

cover art that has the copyright symbol and says: "1987 Ernest

Anastasio III." I still have the copy that the band sent to me

in '88, and I've scanned the cover art below.

When "Junta" was released in May 1989, it was self-released.

Phish did not have even an indie record contract at the time.

In fact, the band had not even sent out its demos to anyone

at a record company before Feburary 1989 (and I know this because

Trey told me so in an interview on a tape that I still have).

"Junta" remained a self-released album throughout 1989.

In 1990, a small American indie label, Absolute a Go Go, signed

Phish to a recording contract and released a small number of

copies of "Junta," mostly on cassette, before releasing the

band's subsequent album, "Lawn Boy." But within months, in

1991, Absolute a Go Go went out of business, due to the

bankruptcy of its distributor, Rough Trade.

And Phish was, again, an unsigned band.

Of course, major label Elektra would eventually sign them, in 1992,

and when they did, it released a '92 edition of "Junta."

Another point that should be cleared up: the members of

Phish hadn't even heard of the band Widespread Panic before

I personally told Anastasio in January 1989 about Widespread Panic,

with whom Phish would later collaborate.

As I've noted before, the tape of my January 1989 interview with

Anastasio captures the moment. Here is the verbatim exchange:


ANASTASIO: No, I'm not.


Pretty open and shut! There's nothing ambiguous

about that interchange.

But some misinformed folks don't quite get it and say

stuff like, "Wow, man, [Phish keyboardist] Page McConnell

played on Widespread Panic's debut album 'Space Wrangler,'

and that was released in '88."

Wrong. Here are the facts:

McConnell played on the 1992 edition of "Space Wrangler,"

not on the 1988 "Space Wrangler" that was originally released

on Volcano. And he performed only on bonus tracks that were

recorded in 1990 and subsequently added to the original '88

album for the '92 release.

I know all this because -- first -- I was there and still have my

taped interviews from the late 1980s. And my information comes

from no less than Anastasio himself, speaking to me in

January 1989. Second, I've also minutely researched early

Phish history for stories I've written (most notably, for

Miami New Times in '03).

Those who have it wrong should correct the record.

Cover art of Phish's 1987 cassette tape demo
(four songs on this tape would later be included
on 1989's self-released "Junta").[Above, cover art from a tape
the band sent to me in early '88.]

But I digress. Paul

[above column updated, 8/8]


for August 6, 2010

Last Night's Phish Show

Heard some of Phish's sold-out show at the Greek

in Berkeley (Calif.) last night. Band was in fine form -- but

almost as fascinating were the thousands of Phish heads outside

the theater, many with a single finger up in the air (to signal

they wanted to buy bootleg tickets).

I shot some pics of the crowd during the 6pm hour yesterday, and

here they are:

Will sell soul for Phish tix! [photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * * *

Phish hed w/hoops. [photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * * *

Proud of his many hats. [photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * * *

Selling images of Jerry. [photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * * *

The Phish Nation outside the Greek, picketed by the
religulous. (Note all the fans raising a single finger.)
[photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * * *

Holy roller judging the horde. [photo by Paul Iorio]

* * * * *

Even the cars were Phishy. [photo by Paul Iorio]

[above, all photos by Paul Iorio.]


How I Managed to Be the First Journalist Anywhere to Interview Trey Anastasio on Tape

Photo of Phish that the band sent to me in early 1988.

It's safe to say, I think, that the Phish I remember is not the

Phish almost everyone else knows. And that's because I was the

first journalist anywhere to have conducted a taped interview with

Trey Anastasio (here's an audio clip of the January '89 Q&A; ; and here's

the '89 interview transcript, published many years later in Miami

New Times:

For the record, I was also the first writer (outside the band's

Burlington hometown) to have written about Phish

(see scan below) and the first person to tell Trey about the band

Widespread Panic (and I even did so on audiotape, whch you

can hear here:

Actually, my connection to the band dates back to early 1988 and late 1987.

A few months after I left my staff writer position at

Cash Box magazine in New York in '87, I came up with the idea

of doing a story on the pop music community in Burlington for the

East Coast Rocker, a New Jersey-based music newspaper. And I

asked dozens of unsigned Vermont bands to send me tapes.

Among those who sent in tapes was Phish, which mailed me

a 1987 demo featuring four originals ("Golgi Apparatus,"

"Fee," "David Bowie," and "Fluffhead," all of which

later appeared on "Junta") and two covers.

My first interviews with Phish's Mike Gordon date back

to an astonishingly early January 1988. Back then, we

talked on a fairly regular basis, and here is a letter he

sent to me in 1988:

I interviewed Mike Gordon a full year before I spoke with Trey,
though I didn't record those conversations; however, Gordon
did send me this handwritten letter, dated March 8, 1988 (above).

I eventually wrote about the group for the newspaper's July 19,

1989, issue, calling Phish "an unlikely combination of the

Grateful Dead and Steely Dan" in a story that stands as the

first to mention the band in a publication outside the

Burlington area (besides concert listings in newspapers,

of course).

Meanwhile, my Anastasio interview of '89 stayed in a drawer

in my desk for years; nobody wanted the interview at the time

because the band was almost completely unknown (and would

remain that way for some time to come).

My '89 interview with Trey was finally published

many years later, on December 24, 2003, in Miami New Times,

after it had become something of a talked-about

pop culture artifact of significance to Phishheads. (Click the New Times

link (above) to read the New Times piece, or check it out in

the Phish Archive!:

Above, my description of Phish for the East Coast Rocker
newspaper in 1989, the first mention of the band in print outside
of Burlington. (It's a brief item, yes. But nobody else went even
that far in the press at the time. Remember, I was just
a writer/reporter; I didn't own the publications for which I wrote.
Back then, I simply couldn't get an editor to greenlight a story on an
unsigned band whose self-released music was generating no radio ariplay

Anyway, I lost contact with the band after 1989, so I don't

really know any of the bandmembers (and, frankly, I haven't

really followed their music that closely since). But I was there


But I digress. Paul



for August 4, 2010

I finally got around to seeing "Inception," and here's

my review.

Christopher Nolan's "Inception"

As visually brilliant as some of this is, and much of it is

a wonder to watch, the plot is so convoluted

that the film could pass for a botched edit at times.

Even on second viewing, it's almost impossible to always track

who's in who's dream within a dream, and whether

Leonardo DiCaprio's character is being chased in his own dream, or in

someone else's, or in reality.

Better just to let the visuals wash over you. Twenty minutes in,

there's a stunning, magnificent cafe explosion worthy of "Zabriskie

Point." Later, there's a semi-surreal cityscape that looks like

a cross between a de Chirico come-to-life and Rome's E.U.R. on acid.

And the avalanche footage and cab hijacking are riveting.

And there are some fascinating observations on and questions

about dreams, such as: people never remember the start of

a dream; if you die in a dream, does the dream necessarily end?;

can you be trapped in someone else's dream?

Meanwhile, the acting is superb. DiCaprio plays a character not unlike

his unhinged persona in "Shutter Island" (and in the last part

of "The Aviator"), who could clearly benefit from a weekend

getaway or an outright vacation, what with all his manic talk

about subconscious stuff. And Ken Watanabe has lots of

charisma and authority -- and natural chemistry with DiCaprio.

Still, the film is too often the cinematic equivalent of

a tongue twister (a mind twister, if you will), which is

its weakness, strength and probable reason it's

been number one for three consecutive weeks (audiences

have to see it again to get most of the plot twists).

And the meaning of the very ambiguous ending is already

being debated online as if it were the last scene of

the last episode of "The Sopranos." I've seen the finale

a couple times and still don't know for sure.

But I digress. Paul



for August 3 - 4, 2010

Looks like the Islamic Center at 45 Park has been given

the green light. An unwise decision (see my column, below).

Still, the legitimate objections to it should be addressed,

and this is how to do it:

In front of the Islamic Center, the city government of

New York should put up a memorial to all victims of religious

hate crimes world-wide -- a memorial in the form of a statue

of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who (in death) has become

a sort of free speech martyr.

The statue/memorial would also be a reminder to the more militant

fundamentalists who will inevitably frequent the Center that

there is zero tolerance in New York City for violence fueled

by religion.

Yeah, I know, van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam, not Manhattan.

But he has since become an international symbol of free expression

who died merely because religious fanatics (plural, because many

Muslims advocated his killing) disagreed with his secular views.

It's not enough to merely put up a memorial to those who died

on 9/11 in front of the mosque. The active issue that concerns

me most in 2010 is the intolerance of free speech rampant among

conservative Muslims. There will surely be a percentage of

people frequenting 45 Park who support violence as a

response to the opinions and works of such people as van Gogh,

Salman Rushdie, Kurt Westergaard and others. A statue

of van Gogh at that location would be an appropriate and

necessary reminder and rebuff to the intolerant -- and a

counterbalance to a controversial center.

Hey, I'm cool with a mosque at 45 Park -- if everyone
walks in under the gaze of Theo van Gogh. [unknown

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Billionaire Bloomberg, from his yacht, says he

didn't bow to populism, to all the little people, in

supporting the building of a mosque that will

soon cast a shadow on Ground Zero.

Doesn't surprise me.

Bloomberg is a guy who has access to limos and bodyguards

every time he ventures away from his cocktail parties. So he

has no fuckin' idea what it's like at ground level for

less privileged people (e.g., journalists who have exposed

jihadists, booksellers who have sold works like "The Satanic

Verses," etc.) who have to deal with violent fundamentalists

in everyday situations.

No wonder he almost lost the last election despite

spending the GDP of Berundi. As a billionaire, he'll

never really have to deal with the bigoted bullies

who will gravitate like a magnet to the Center at 45 Park.

P.S. -- Golly, there seems to be a Billionaires Who Dig The

Location of the Groovy New Mosque club in the making!

Regarding Tom Friedman's new column (August 4):

nobody is advocating banning mosques from lower Manhattan,

for crissakes.

But let me turn the question on Friedman: using his own logic,

why not build the 11-story Islamic Center AT Ground Zero, or at

the perimeter of Ground Zero, instead of merely two blocks from


Why not? After all, where in the Constitution is

there a prohibition against building a house of worship at

Ground Zero? If the center at 45 Park is "a monument to

tolerance," as the NYT calls it, then wouldn't a mosque at

Ground Zero be even more of a monument to tolerance?

Besides, the man behind the mosque, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf,

says -- lemme guess -- Islam is peace and love and flowers

and all that jazz (did you really expect he'd say something

else?). And we all know, of course, Islam is peace

and love and flowers -- until you disagree with fundamentalists,

and then they'll kill you for drawing a cartoon.

So let's put the Islamic Center at the perimeter of Ground Zero

(assuming, for the sake of argument, they have the zoning

permission). What would be wrong with that? Being against

that would be like opposing the healthy mixing and matching

of cultures, right?

But something tells me Friedman would be against putting the mosque at

the perimeter of Ground Zero. Why? Because it's an inappropriate

location for it, Friedman would say. But a mere two blocks north

is suddenly okay?

Another thought: imagine if Hitler had won a partial victory in '45

and ruled over a greater Third Reich (comprised of, say, Germany,

France, Austria and Italy). And imagine if, today, brainwashed

fascist young people from that Third Reich immigrated to the

U.S. -- not to taste freedom, but to bring their autocratic

ideas here. We'd have a new wave of immigrants very much unlike

previous groups of immigrants (but similar to today's Muslim

fundamentalists) in that they would be bringing only fascism

and racism to the mix. Is that a cultural cross-pollination

you'd encourage?

P.S. -- Today's editorial in the New York Times (8/4)

wrongly states: "The attacks of Sept. 11 were not a

religious event."

Wrong. Hijackers shouted "Allahu akbar" before

committing the mass murders; their motivations

were primarily religious. (Analogously, if a murderer

were to shout "Heterosexuals rule!" before killing

homosexuals, that would surely be classified as a hate

crime against gays.)

P.S. -- Joining in the rich man's Kumbaya is one

Father Brian Jordan, quoted in TNY saying: "I intend

to go to [the Islamic Center] for lectures. I intend to

go swimming there."

Yeah, right. And why don't you bring along a copy of

"The Satanic Verses" to read at poolside? Then you'll

see very vividly that they don't want a thousand flowers to

bloom; they want only one flower to bloom. (Which is the

definition of fascism.)

There are also those who protest too much in overly objecting

to the term "Ground Zero Mosque" -- a misnomer, to be sure, but

not by much. Such objections remind me of Elaine talking about

Costanza on "Seinfeld": "He's not bald. Nooo way.

He's balding."



for August 3, 2010


65 Years After the First Nuclear War in Northeast Asia...

North Korea Escalates Nuclear War Threats

Hate to break the news, but the violent threats

from the North Korean government are actually a bit worse than

what is being reported in the Western media.

I've been reading the North Korean government's official

English-language website on a daily basis for more than a

year and have noticed how the taunts have become

more violent, vehement and specific in the last couple


Here are just a few recent incendiary quotes from

the DPRK site that have not been reported by anyone:

-- several weeks ago, the official site threatened the

possibility of "turn[ing] Seoul...into a sea of flame."

-- on June 12th, the site said that "there is even strong

opinion that the ship [the Cheonan] was sunk by the U.S."

-- several days ago, it stated that North Korea will use its

"powerful nuclear deterrence" to respond to the naval exercises

now being conducted by the U.S. and South Korea in the

Yellow Sea. [Exact quote: "The army and people of the DPRK

will legitimately counter with their powerful nuclear

deterrence the largest-ever nuclear war exercises to be

staged by the US and the south Korean puppet forces."]

-- And there's this zinger from May 27th: "The south Korean

puppet warlike forces would be well advised to act with discretion,

bearing deep in mind that such measures of the KPA will not end in

an empty talk."

-- Then there is this unsettling message posted a few

days ago: "If they provoke a war in any waters of the Korean

peninsula, whether in the East Sea or in the West Sea of Korea,

this war will spread not only into the Korean peninsula but into

the rest of Northeast Asia and rapidly develop into a new

global war."

Which means what, exactly? The DPRK has to be referring to

China -- there's no other way to interpret that.

Are they implying that China has their back, that a DPRK

retaliation against naval exercises will be backed by

the PRC?

Is Kim Jong-il Hu Jintao's Agnew, saying and doing hardline

things that Hu can't?

By the way, just hours ago [8am PT] it was reported that the PRC

is now conducting live-amo air defense exercises near

the Yellow Sea, practicing its defense of Beijing, which

is virtually across the water from Pyongyang.

Can Kim be considered anything but a clinical paranoid

if he really does believe, against all evidence, that the

United States was likely responsible for the sinking of the

Cheonan? And if that is Kim's reality baseline, as it

appears to be, then the prospect of war seems more


I must admit these DPRK threats are making me a

bit queasy about the 65th anniversary of the first

nuclear war in northeast Asia, coming up in a few

days, on August 6th.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- By the way, pop culture anxiety seems to be

shifting to Kim Jong-il from Islamic targets lately.

The latest examples are in "Salt" and in the final scene of

the new DVD parody of Judd Apatow movies ("The 41 Year-Old

Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah..."). Below, a still of the

frame in which Kim lights a missile (the fuse is ultimately

extinguished by urine -- don't ask):

Juche, baby, Juche! [photo by Paul Iorio of scene in
"The 41 Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah..."]

P.S. -- Thanks to the conductor of the Ureuk Symphony Orchestra in

New York for his recent interest in my song "Kim Jong-il."

Hear the song here:



for August 2, 2010

Xgau for "American Idol" Judge

I know, the L.A. Times beat me to the punch on this one,

nominating Robert Christgau as a candidate for judge on

"American Idol." Privately, I was thinking the same

thing the day before.

Put a truth-teller on the "Idol" panel. The "AI" audience might

actually respond to him as an intellectual, temperamental

version of Simon Cowell.

First, full disclosure: I sent him my album "130 Songs" -- the

most reviewable of my releases, in my opinion -- weeks before he stopped

writing his Consumer Guide last month. So it's now too late for

any possible CG consideration, but let me say that even if he

had reviewed "130 Songs" and not given it an A or B, I'd still

say the same thing: the guy's a genius.

And I'm not kissing his ass, either, because it wouldn't do me

any good anyway. One thing about xgau: you can't flatter your

way to a good review with him -- and crossing him won't get you

a bad one (just ask Lou Reed).

And I can't say I know him, but I did meet him a few times

when I was a staff writer/reporter for Cash Box magazine's

New York bureau in the 1980s. He visited me at

my office at the magazine in very early 1986, when I was

the new guy on the block, looking for some article

on (I think) Russ Solomon or something. And I remember

the whole place was abuzz afterwards, as if Bob Dylan

himself had flown in from Malibu to visit my office on

West 58th St. (And this was an office accustomed to

visits from famous folks, where everybody from members

of The Byrds to Debbie Gibson visited me back in the day.)

I certainly haven't always agreed with him; aesthetically, I'm

more of a melodist for whom Paul McCartney and Ray Davies are kings

(for me, "Muswell Hillbillies" and "Ram" are major albums). But

even when I disagree with him, I see his point.

He's changed the way I view even familiar works (like "The

Beatles Second Album," which I now see as sort of the

band's hip hop LP) and introduced me to great

stuff (the joys of side one of Grandmaster Flash and the

Furious Five's "The Message" LP, Fela Kuti's pre-Maiduguri

prison work, etc.).

There are very few off-key notes in his writings (his take

on the Beatles' "Revolution" was one, but he more than made

up for it by not docking Johnny Ramone, another genius, points for

having been a rightist).

Missing from his Consumer Guide collection are the landmark albums

of the Fifties and Sixties, which, of course, pre-dated the CG.

It would be great if he were to write a book of Consumer Guide

reviews of the major LPs from 1955 to 1970.

I get the same sort of rush reading his reviews as reading other

writers who use words in unprecedented ways (e.g., Donald Barthelme,

Allen Ginsberg, etc.). I think it was novelist Harry Crews who

once told me in a bar that the definition of poetry is

memorable language -- and xgau's writings are certainly that.

His reviews were all about music, but not about music at all.

But I digress. Paul



for July 31, 2010

I think most reasonable people would be rightly

outraged if someone decided to erect a statue of

Lester Maddox or Bull Connor across the street from

the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

And for good reason; that was where the Rev. Martin Luther

King, Jr., was murdered. And Maddox and Connor were

lifelong opponents of King's ideals and ideas.

Of course, Maddox didn't kill King -- and even called

the murder a tragedy. But one could argue that Maddox

helped to create the climate of hatred and bigotry that caused

King's assassination. And, yes, there are other, more appropriate

sites in (and out of) Memphis for such a statue.

Analogously, a religious group now wants to build an Islamic

Center a couple blocks from Manhattan's World Trade Center,

destroyed by Muslim militants nearly nine years ago.

And I have to admit that it doesn't feel right. It just doesn't

pass the common sense test. (And this is coming from someone

whose views tend to coincide with the ACLU's around 95% of

the time.)

Sure, I know: mainstream Muslims didn't have anything

to do with 9/11 and even condemned it. But too many

supposedly moderate Muslim clerics helped to create the

violent climate in which 9/11 -- the ultimate hate

crime -- happened.

Let me put it this way: as long as American mosques continue to be

sites at which imams foment hatred and preach

jihad, there should be no Islamic center in the shadow of

the World Trade Center. Period, paragraph, page. The

recent history of imams (at ostensibly mainstream

mosques) stirring up bigotry and inciting religious

violence (see: Anwar al-Awlaki's sermons at mosques in

Virginia and California before and after 9/11; Ahmad Wais Afzali,

the imam at the Abu Bakr mosque in Queens who tipped off the

would-be Grand Central Station bomber, Najibullah Zazi; etc.)

has to be taken into consideration before allowing a mosque to

be built near such an historically sensitive site.

An Islamic Center at 45 Park Place would be inherently

and implicitly hostile (the location is so in-your-face) and

insensitive to the chemistry of a particular neighborhood.

More important, it has the potential to become a magnet for

radical Islamic activity. (If I were a Muslim militant, I

would think: where better to plot my next act of jihad

than near the place where the twin towers fell? 45 Park

would become something of a mecca for jihadists.) And

if built, it would surely, lamentably, become a target for

arsonists and vandals. (And don't give me that

cliche crap about people being Islamophobic. The

case of Nidal Hasan last fall proved beyond a doubt

that, if anything, we should be far more Jihadist-phobic

than we are.)

There is a vast abundance of other, more appropriate sites in

Manhattan for such a center. Common sense says to build it


But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- It's telling that those who back the creation of

the Islamic center say they would oppose it if it were a

mere two blocks south. Which says a lot about their position

on this. It means supporters completely agree

with opponents of the Center, but for that pesky issue of whether

the distance of two blocks matters as much as the distance of one.

[column, above, updated 8/1/]



for July 31, 2010

OK, folks, I've got several new Digressions to roll out.

Lemme start with this one:

Paul Krugman for Treasury Sec'y

Geithner for Fed Head

Don't get me wrong, I'm an admirer of Tim Geithner.

But, hey, nobody lasts forever at Treasury, and when

he goes, the replacement should be obvious: The New

York Times's Paul Krugman. Is there a better economic

thinker in America today?

The other day he had a blog post (that I neglected to

bookmark) that went something like this: supply-siders

are always fond of saying that private sector spending

is the way to create new jobs. Then how come they don't

say that jobs can be created by public-sector spending?

I'd be interested in hearing George Will's answer to

that when Krugman appears on ABC's "This Week" tomorrow

morning -- the first "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour

as host.

But I digress. Paul



for July 27, 2010

Many thanks to Marshall Stax and KALX for playing

my new songs "Bailey" and "We're Gonna Win" last

night on The Next Big Thing!

You can hear the new tracks here:

Enjoy! Paul



for July 23, 2010

I've just seen a few new movies, and here're my reviews:

M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender"

I should note I was the first reporter anywhere to

have interviewed M. Night Shyamalan about

"The Sixth Sense" before the release of "The Sixth

Sense," which, like "The Last Airbender," almost

nobody thought would be a hit. So I remember well how

that '99 film erupted virally, despite critical pans.

Of course, "Airbender" is not likely to climb anywhere

near the commercial heights of "Sixth Sense" -- and it's also

not as good a movie. In fact, frankly, it's a bore. But it

does have its avid fans who nobody saw coming and who might

yet turn this into a cult success of sorts.

Oh yeah, it does have some interesting visual elements. In

terms of style, it can even look like a Kurosawa picture

every now and then.

But in films like this, in which almost every fight or

conflict is resolved by supernatural means (see: "The Matrix"

series), there can be no genuine suspense in the fights

or conflicts.

Plus, all the pseudospiritual mumbo jumbo -- about a kid

who was in training to bend all four elements but dropped out

of his training after learning how to bend only one -- makes

me believe that the list of the four classical elements should be

amended to include a fifth -- boredom -- and possibly a sixth

(box office failure).

Rent "Throne of Blood" instead.

* * * *

Nicholas Stoller's "Get Him to the Greek"

One of the best comedy features of 2010. Not quite as

hilarious as "This is Spinal Tap" (what is?) but almost as

riotous as "Knocked Up." Includes the funniest sneezing

scene since "Annie Hall."

* * * *

Lee Unkrich's "Toy Story 3"

Pixar just keeps topping itself, the way Miramax used to

in the late Nineties, and its latest, "Toy Story 3," is poised

to become the number one movie of '10 (and one of

the top ten grossing pictures of all-time).

And no wonder. Like "Up," arguably superior to this film and

to every animated movie since (who knows?) "Fantasia," "TS3"'s

creativity flows so naturally, so organically, that one gets a

why-didn't-someone-think-of-this-before feeling.

Obviously, someone did think up the idea of toys coming to life

before, back in '95, when the first "Toy Story" premiered.

But this third installment is obviously capturing the zeitgeist

in a way the other two didn't, what with its underlying message

about the junking and discarding of the way things used to be.

And the witty subplot about Ken and Barbie -- including a scene

in which Barbie ties up Ken and starts ripping up his vintage

wardrobe -- makes me think there could be a viable spin-off

feature film about those two, too.

But I digress. Paul




Read Daily Digressions prior to April 2010 at this link;


JLD said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
monster paperbag said...

"Sultans of Swing"--I love that song.