Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Message to Congress: Call the bastard's bluff!
See full story here: http://www.prisonplanet.com/bernanke-threatens-economic-collapse-if-fed-audited.html
Live well . . .
The Gangster regime (otherwise known as the American Empire) sees its subjects as three things: taxpayers, consumers, and cannon fodder. To legally oppose this regime, you can logically do three things: (1) reduce your tax liability; (2) reduce your consumption of consumer goods; and (3) keep yourself and your loved ones out of the US military.
Numbers 1 and 2 center on your dollars and how you decide to use them. Seeing that the dollar has lost about 90% of its value in the last 40 years, it does not take a Ph.D. in finance to understand that holding dollars makes no sense. But rushing out and spending them indiscriminately only props up the consumer economy and the vampire businesses that profit from such an economy. What to do? Consider bartering with friends and neighbors. Of course, to be lawful about it you must report the transaction to the tax authorities; however, I'd bet that most people don't. Buy needed goods at yard sales and flea markets. That way, you help your neighbors by keeping money in the community and cutting big business out of the equation. Buy things that last. We live in a throw-away society. Refuse as much as possible to be a part of such wastefulness.
Trade those depreciating dollars for gold, silver, tools, guns and ammo, non-hybrid seeds, land, and other goods that will get you through hard times. Cut your consumer spending down to the bone--only buy those things absolutely necessary for day-to-day living and survival. This also cuts your tax liability in two ways: (1) sales taxes are not paid on items you don't purchase; and (2) you need to earn fewer dollars to make it, thus reducing your income tax obligations. Financially strangling bad government and predatory businesses is a positive activity.
If we use the power at hand--the decision about how we employ our dollars--we perhaps can force the Gangsters to come clean. Remember, consumer spending is about 70% of the economy. We--the consumers--have direct power over this part of the economy. Let's use it for our benefit and not our oppressors. Live well . . .
Thursday, June 25, 2009
A question: what does the average American do to protect his livelihood and life itself from the gangsters who are running our political, economic, and financial systems? If you look closely at what has happened over the past decade or so, you will see that we've become a Third World banana republic (and I use the term "republic" as it was used in, say, the old USSR). The American people have been and are still being robbed in broad daylight by the Elite Insiders who pump up and then deflate one bubble after another. They win and the little guy loses. And it's all sanctioned and protected by DC. The next bubble? Cap-and-trade. You can bet that the Insiders have already positioned themselves to screw us in this multi-trillion dollar scam over the next few years. Bank on it.
As I've said before, these criminals are not going to stop until we make them. Withdraw your consent from this corrupt regime (Democrat and Republican), get your assets out of their grasp (i.e. turn your money into tangible, usable things that will assure your survival), and prepare to tell them to go to hell when they come around trying to loot you (0r worse) in person.
John C. Calhoun, the greatest American political philosopher, once said that "only power can check power." He was right. Gangsters and criminals in high places understand only one thing--power. We have the numbers if we have the will to use them. As Charlie Daniels once said: "There's more of us [rednecks] than there are of them." Get up off your sofa and get busy. Your liberty and prosperity are at stake. Live well . . .
Monday, June 22, 2009
Are they telling us the truth? I don't think so. Is it because they are trying to fleece us or is it because they simply don't know what's going on? In other words, are they knaves or fools? I suspect the former. Does it really take a balding Fed Chairman to understand that printing trillions of dollars will eventually cause terrible inflation? Does it take a baby-faced, curly-haired Secretary of the Treasury to see that, despite "quantitative easing" (printing money to buy our own Treasury debt) there is a growing liquidity shortage and virtually no new economic activity? Can only The Terminator himself know that California--the sixth largest economy on earth--is on the verge of bankruptcy (and there's not Chapter 9 or 11 for States)? I could go on, but you get the general idea. If you and I can see these things why can't the "experts?"
On the one hand, if I am wrong and these people are merely fools, they should be immediately replaced in their positions of responsibility by adults (and then given a good spanking and sent off to bed without any champagne and caviar). Then perhaps we could at least begin to find a commonsense way out of this mess. If, on the other, they are knaves guilty of starting and managing this crisis for their own power, ambition, and wealth, they should be treated as common criminals.
Let me state my opinion plainly--the US government and its allies in banking and big business constitute an organized criminal enterprise that has pulled off the biggest con job in the history of the world. And they're still at it.
But the real culprits in this sorry episode will be us--We the People--if we let them continue unopposed with the swindle. The American ruling elite will stop their looting only when we make them stop and not a second before. Remember, they work for us and not we for them. Constitutionally speaking, we, the citizens of the separate and sovereign States, are the Master and the general (or federal) government is the Servant. Somehow, things have gotten reversed. It's time to turn things back right-side up. In other words, we need a true revolution to put the Master--We the People--back in our constitutionally-mandated place on top. If that doesn't happen soon, the Republic is lost (perhaps it already is). Don't let the knaves and fools in DC and on Wall Street destroy every shred of our dearly-won liberty and prosperity. Act like a free man or woman. Your ancestors did. Time may be short, so don't delay in doing your duty to yourself, your family, and future generations.
Oh, I forgot one other solution--secession and independence from DC. Let them loot and plunder each other while we start over. Live well . . .
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Andrew Nelson Lytle, one of the Twelve Southerners who contributed to ITMS, admonished his fellow Southerners in 1930 to “Throw out the radio and take down the fiddle down from the wall.” I now live in a place that, though perhaps unwittingly, has taken Lytle’s sage advice for some four decades. The Shoals, a four-city area (pop. 63,000) in northwest Alabama, is comprised of Florence (on the north bank of the Tennessee River) and Sheffield, Tuscumbia, and Muscle Shoals (on the south bank). It is a largely white but poor region set in a naturally beautiful river valley bordered on the south by a range of hills and mountains along the Tennessee River Divide. Since NAFTA, the area has lost some 5,000 textile jobs and the economic prospects of the Shoals are not favorable. Life has always been tough here for the Scots-Irish and others who settled afterwards because of poor soil and rugged terrain. But the hard conditions have produced a character in the people that spills out into their music. It is rough, passionate, sweet as honey, sharp as vinegar. It can knock you down like a set of brass knuckles at a country juke joint. But it can lift you up again like a choir of heavenly angels. Like the South, it is its own contradiction
I’m sure that when Mr. Lytle admonished his readers to “take down the fiddle” and make their own music, he didn’t exactly have in mind the types of music—soul and R&B, rock and blues (in addition to bluegrass, country, and gospel)—that has come out of the Shoals. But those musical genres, like the traditional music of Lytle’s South in the 1920s-1940s, come out of the folk traditions of the rural parts of Dixie. It is not the vapid, deracinated product that comes out of Los Angeles, New York, and even Nashville today; rather, it is the story of real people—written, sung, and played by real people—set in song.
Having grown up in this rich and fertile musical setting in the 1950s and 1960s, I couldn’t wait to get back here after some thirty years in exile. Upon my return in the spring of 2003, I began to establish (and in some cases, re-establish) contact with the folks in the Shoals music community. My first contact was with famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section bass player David Hood. Hood, along with guitarist Jimmy Johnson, drummer Roger Hawkins, and keyboardist Barry Beckett, were immortalized as “the Swampers” in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s anthem “Sweet Home Alabama” in the 1970s. Hood also is chairman of the Muscle Shoals Music Association (MSMA) and currently plays bass with The Decoys, a local five-piece group that I will discuss a bit later.
Anyhow, my contact with Hood and the MSMA gave me an opening into the Shoals still vibrant and vital music scene. Though things have certainly changed since the mega-hit days of the 1960s and early 1970s when the likes of Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones could be seen on Jackson Highway and Avalon Street, there is still something truly special about the place and its music.
Understand this. Though there are many “stars” in the musical constellation hereabouts, this ain’t Hollywood or New York City. In other words, these folks are approachable and often quite humble, considering many of them are recognized worldwide by name (if not by face) as the creators of something known and revered as the “Muscle Shoals Sound.” I’m sure that a young Van Morrison, way over in Ireland, would have swam the ocean to have been in the Shoals in 1965 instead of only listening in on European radio to the soul and R&B hits coming out of northwest Alabama.
A particular event held a few years back in the Shoals will illustrate my point that the music makers here see themselves as merely kinfolk and friends and not as some type of rock & roll royalty. A local bar in Florence hosted a Hurricane Katrina relief jam on a Sunday afternoon and evening in mid-September 2005. As I got out of my car in the overflowing parking lot, the first person I saw was Spooner Oldham (since inducted as a sideman into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), the legendary songwriter and keyboardist. Growing up in Center Star, Alabama, about six miles from where I live at present, Spooner collaborated with Dan Penn (Pennington, of the Pennington clan of Lamar Co., Alabama, which makes him my distant cousin) on such soul classics as “I’m Your Puppet,” and “Out Of Left Field.” I told you all this stuff was close and personal.
Upon entering the crowded bar, I literally ran into Scott Boyer, lead singer and guitarist for The Decoys. They were scheduled to play a set that afternoon. Scott had founded a Southern rock band back in the 1970s called Cowboy, toured and recorded with Gregg Allman, and penned a hit song for Eric Clapton called “Please Be With Me.” To describe The Decoys as merely a “local band” is to give the impression that they are small time. But everyone and every band must be from somewhere. This reminds me of when I was at the Atlanta Pop Festival in July 1970 and explained to a fellow sitting next to me from New Mexico that the group taking the stage was a “local band” from nearby Macon—the Allman Brothers Band. He was amazed that a bunch of local boys could be so good!
So, The Decoys, too, are a local band from the Shoals. Besides Scott Boyer and David Hood, the band lines up with Kelvin Holley on lead guitar (the Little Richard Band, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and The Amazing Rhythm Aces)—one of the most incredible players I’ve ever seen live; N. C. Thurmond on keys (Percy Sledge, Gregg Allman, and Hank Williams, Jr.), and Mike Dillon on drums. On this particular day, The Decoys played a crisp 45-minute set of both originals and covers and then backed acclaimed Shoals performer Donnie Fritts on some of his tunes. Besides being a terrific songwriter for the likes of Ray Charles, Charlie Rich, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dolly Parton, and The Box Tops and one of the original movers and shakers in the Shoals music scene (along with Rick Hall of FAME studios, Billy Sherrill, Norbert Putnam, Arthur Alexander, Jerry Carrigan, David Briggs, and Dan Penn), Fritts co-starred in several 1970s-era Sam Peckinpah movies, including a role (along with buddy Kris Kristofferson) as a motorcycle tough in the cult classic, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.”
Fritts, who stood and talked with Wayne Counts (of The Midnighters, and the damn best slide guitar player in town) and me before taking stage with The Decoys, held forth on just how real and natural it was playing in such a venue and mixing with his friends, fans, and fellow musicians in such an informal manner.
The Shoals area has many events each year that bring the local musicians into close contact with their fans and friends. The world-renowned W. C. Handy Blues Festival is an annual weeklong celebration of north Alabama’s rich musical heritage. Over the past several summers I have had the pleasure of seeing (and occasionally being allowed to play with) some of the talented performers who grace the many stages throughout the area. One of the most loved and admired local bands is The Midnighters, a sextet that includes brothers Wayne (guitar) and James Counts (drums). Their business, Counts Brothers Music, is one of the favorite hangouts for local players in the Shoals. On a typical day, there is no telling who you will see strolling into the place from the local music scene or from out of town. The Midnighters have been around now for nearly twenty years and play some of the best down home soul and funky blues you’d ever want to hear. Not only do the Counts Brothers hit the note at the local nightspots but their store provides a crucial hub for musicians to meet and to acquire the goods and services to keep them playing. And by the way, all the fellows who work there are great players themselves, especially bassist extraordinaire Terry Richardson. Feel like playing? Just walk in and someone will surely oblige you.
The tight-knit Shoals music community benefits greatly from places like Counts Brothers Music in Muscle Shoals and Max’s Music in Sheffield. The latter, owned and operated by local music legend Max Russell, is a Mecca for impromptu late night jams and recording sessions by some of the Shoals best pickers, including famed California transplant bass player and vocalist Tom “Pizza” Hillmeyer. The jams that happen at Max’s and other venues best illustrate what Mr. Lytle meant when he advised Southerners to eschew “canned” entertainment and to make their own.
The creative genius of true “folk” music, as opposed to the antiseptic forms of popular music such as pop, hip-hop, rap, and heavy metal, among others, has always been found in the musicians’ ability to work improvisations off of a skeletal framework. While some musicians make a career by recording three-minute songs in the studio and then duplicating them note for note night after night in live performances, this formula does not allow for the spark of creative genius that gave us, say, a Duane Allman. Allman, the founder and leader of the Allman Brothers Band from 1969 to his untimely death in October 1971, was known for his brilliant, highly original extended guitar solos. Along with Jimi Hendrix, Allman was unquestionably one of the two most original electric guitarists of the period.
What Allman, following the path blazed by jazz impresarios such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane, did for “rock” music can still be seen (or rather heard) in the many late-night jam sessions in towns like the Shoals, Memphis, Macon, and countless other places where the music communities pay homage to the old forms and structures of blues, jazz, R&B, and soul. On any given night hereabouts, one can find several jams open to anyone who can play. There is no pretence, no professional jealously, no egotism. Rather, there is a celebration of the good music that permeates this place like hickory smoke does good pork barbecue. Hell, you might even find yourself jamming with Bobby Whitlock, keyboardist for Derek and the Dominos and co-author of the classic rock anthem “Layla.”
The Shoals is but one small point on the map in today’s burgeoning worldwide music scene. And though the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s are well behind her now, this northwestern corner of Alabama still has some magic left, at least on certain warm, humid nights when the cicadas find themselves competing with the sweet notes of a blues guitar and vocals so deep and soulful that you’d swear that they were oozing up from the mud of the Tennessee River. People here may not be familiar with Mr. Lytle’s words, but you can bet they know the music. Live well . . .
Friday, June 19, 2009
The three basic needs are, of course, food and water, clothing, and shelter. Be sure to store away at least a three-month supply of non-perishable food items such as rice, dried beans, pasta, grits, flour and cornmeal, canned meats, fruits, and vegetables (rotate your supply of these items), salt, sugar, coffee, lard, etc. Don’t forget to store up a supply of non-hybrid seeds for planting a garden. You might want to plant some fruit trees, bushes, vines, and canes as well. Also, you might consider some sort of camp stove and fuel or a grill and a good supply of charcoal for cooking. If you have a well or spring you are pretty much set for drinking water. Be sure to make provision for getting water from your well minus an electric pumping system, however. If you don’t have a well or spring, I suggest you store up some bottled water for the short term; however, for a longer duration you might consider getting a high quality water purification system such as those used by missionaries and others who regularly travel to Third World countries. These things will make muddy water drinkable in short time and have the capacity to handle several thousand gallons of water before a filter change is necessary.
Make sure you have a good supply of sturdy clothing (including boots, shoes, and plenty of laces) for all weather conditions and seasons. When hard times come, you’ll most likely be spending a good deal of time out of doors. Also, make provision to mend items you will not be able to replace. Fashion will be out and practicality will be in.
As for shelter, the first thing you should do is pay off your mortgage and own your home and some land (even if it’s just a half an acre on which you can plant a garden or have a few chickens) free and clear. Make sure you do needed repairs before the trouble begins. Remember, too, that if the power goes there will be no air conditioning and that most modern houses are not constructed to deal with the Southern summer heat minus AC. It can get miserable in a hurry. As for heating, don’t count on a ready supply of natural gas. Rather, you will need to have access to a steady supply of wood for fireplace or wood stove or heater. That means stockpiling several cords or having the implements to cut your own. If possible, you might be able to have on hand enough gasoline and oil to power a chain saw for a while; however, don’t neglect those old fashioned axes and crosscut saws.
A few closing thoughts. . . . First, get yourself in decent physical shape and get off any unnecessary medications. The foundation for sound health is eating good, natural food. Change your eating habits, if necessary. Second, buy a gun and lots of ammo (.223 or .308 caliber is the most common for long arms and 9mm, .357 or .45 for side arms) and learn to shoot and defend yourself and your family. Be sure to abide by your State’s gun laws. Third, begin forming local communities. If you live in the heart of a big city or even the suburbs, consider getting out to a small town or rural area, preferably an area in which you know someone already living there. You don’t want to be “behind enemy lines” when the trouble starts. Fourth, get out of debt as soon as possible. The debtor is a slave to the lender.
Live well . . .
Thursday, June 18, 2009
For an aspiring eighteen-year-old guitar player
The first day of music was truly an inspiration—Hendrix, B. B. King, Ten Years After, Mountain, Procol Harem, Spirit, Bob Segar, and a local group from nearby Macon, the Allman Brothers Band. Looking forward to another dose of rock & roll and blues on Saturday, I had no idea of what was in store. My buddy and I made our way in the general direction of the performance area. On the north edge of the huge pecan grove that bordered the raceway we stopped to check out the wares displayed on the numerous vendor tables. Suddenly, and to my great astonishment, there before my eyes were the six members of the Allman Brothers Band. They had put on a tremendous show the previous afternoon and were not scheduled to play again until Sunday evening.
Gregg, Dickie, Butch, and Jaimoe were browsing at the vendor booths as Duane and
Muscle Shoals was the music
My encounter with the man I considered as rock’s premier guitarist in the summer of 1970 struck me simultaneously with delight and trepidation. I surely was not going to miss the chance to say hello, shake his hand, and tell him how much I admired his craft. The hundreds of other folks milling around in our immediate area either did not recognize Duane & Company or simply were not awed by their presence. Gathering my nerve, I approached him and
The things I took away from my conversation with Duane Allman spurred me to an appreciation and enjoyment of popular music that has not waned over past thirty odd years. Three distinct points come to mind: 1) Don’t be afraid to take chances with your music. Improvisation, working off a skeletal framework, is how you learn to “hit the note.” 2) There is something to learn from every guitar player with whom you play. Jam whenever you have the opportunity. Never miss the chance to learn from another player, and, when possible, play with those who are better than you. And 3) no matter how good you get, there is always somebody out there who is better than you. Some of the best musicians will labor in relative obscurity for their entire careers. Playing music is not a competition; rather, it is about reaching your own potential and giving pleasure to your audience. Duane’s final words to me on that occasion were “Keep on playin’ everyday, man, and you’ll find those sweet notes that’ll make it all worthwhile.”
Though Duane Allman was born in
But perhaps more significantly than all the tracks he laid down in
Perhaps we Southerners have taken this blessing for granted. When you live amidst something special it sometimes tends to become commonplace. From time to time we need to be reminded of just what a rich musical—and overall cultural—heritage we possess in the South. When life gets heavy and begins to weigh us down, all we have to do is open our ears and listen. There is much joy and familiarity there. This wonderful music, and those who continue to make it, is readily accessible. These folks who sing and play it are not the unreachables of rock royalty. They are our family members, friends, and neighbors who came up just like the rest of us. That makes our Southern musical heritage, be it Rock & Roll, R&B and Soul, Blues, or Country and
In these days of financial, economic, and political turmoil we often forget those things that make life worth living. We tend to worry too much about things way beyond our control. Consequently, life becomes a burden rather than a joy. This is not to say that we ought not be concerned about things going on around us--we certainly should. But the way we choose to react can make the difference between a life of misery versus one of happiness and contentment.
THE PROBLEM WITH MONEY
The Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. I believe this with all my mind and heart. It is idolatry, pure and simple. But money itself, at least the modern manifestation of it in federal reserve notes ($FR), can be a great evil. Let's look at it this way. He who creates the money owns not only the money but also those who use it. In our system, it is fiat money, which means that it is "money" because the government says it is. And if you choose to participate in the economy you doubtless will have to use it. When we use the American Empire's money, we give power to those who created the money.
But there is more. We also give great power to those who are in positions to manipulate the money through laws and arcane mathematical machinations (lying about asset values, cooking the books, setting interest rates, etc.) These are people who have never had any dirt under their fingernails, and thus have never produced anything really usable for anyone's benefit. You know the type. But under cover of all this abstraction, they deal out more misery than a marauding army. The proof? In the past year, everything denominated in $FR has lost about one-third of its value. By the end of 2009, its likely to be much worse.
How do you live well under these dire circumstances? First of all, make a determined effort to exchange those depreciating $FRs for things that are actually useful to you. The longer you wait, the less you are likely to receive in real value for your paper. But once you understand that money--$FR--has little to do with real wealth and happiness, then you can quit worrying about the rat race and the accumulation of something that actually enslaves you. Remember, he who creates the money controls those who use it.
OVERCOMING THE PROBLEM OF MONEY (AND ALL ELSE)
So stop worrying about someone else's money and get busy living well. And how, you might ask, can I do that? No matter how threatening the future looks, I recommend the following: (1) Quit running yourself ragged. Slow down, get plenty of rest, and enjoy the simple things around you. (2) Don't live your life by the punch-clock. Modern industrial and post-industrial society demands that our work be separated from our real lives. That's not how our ancestors lived in a much simpler time. Don't consent to be a rat in this race. Life and work should be one seamless endeavor, and they both should be pleasurable (note: I did not say "easy"). (3) Be flexible. If you are the sort who has to do everything from a pre-arranged list, then you will miss opportunities to enjoy life. I'm not saying to avoid making any plans at all; rather, I am urging you to be willing (and able) to move in a different direction at the spur of the moment. (4) Avoid the "herd mentality" that ensnares most of society. There are unscrupulous people out there who make their livings by giving you false information which, unfortunately, becomes the "conventional wisdom" of the day. Learn to think for yourself and take the consequences. Life is no fun when you are a mental robot. And finally, (5) be happy in spite of all the bad stuff going on around you. Smile and be thankful for the blessings you do have (and they likely are many). Also, draw unto yourself other happy people, while avoiding those who are always glum and pessimistic. Life is too short to frown.
Thanks for reading my first post. Now, I'm off to listen to some Led Zeppelin and cook a couple of range-fed, hormone-free ribeye steaks on the grill. Live well . . .