The Last Thing the Internet Needs Now


This Made Me Feel Sooooo Old
January 11, 2009, 5:30 am
Filed under: music, Oklahoma | Tags: , , , , , ,

Oklahoma Lefty’s The Essential ’80s Alternative

Tremendous work and pretty comprehensive, an awesomazing primer on virtually all the stuff that today’s kids should be considering roots music. Although I chided (hopefully gently, I tried not to be mean, but that doesn’t always work) the author about one of my very favorite old bands not making the cut since their debut album was a relic from the bitter tail end of the 1970s (The Specials, whose debut came out in 1979. The link takes you to the song “Hey, Little Rich Girl,” which Amy Winehouse, in my view, utterly destroys despite her terrific voice. But you be the judge — I linked both versions).

I should have asked in my comment about my curiosity as to why 7 Seconds’ version of “99 Red Balloons” got listed there instead of  Nena‘s version (the English version of the song appears to have been removed from YouTube). It was a one hit wonder, sure, but when it was up there I remember it being all over MTV (when it was still, you know, interesting. It certainly isn’t now) and the radio. Hell, I still have the 45 rpm single (English on one side, German on the other).

Sadly, it’s a song that still carries some resonance in the post-Nine Eleven world. OTOH, the end of the world as we know it was never quite so catchy and sung by such a sexy little pop-tart.

Anyway go read it and the rest of Oklahoma Lefty‘s blog.

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Whatsamatta With Oklahoma, Take 1,659,134
November 28, 2008, 12:48 pm
Filed under: Oklahoma | Tags: , ,

GREAT piece in the Oklahoma Daily (OU paper, duh). It starts with the columnist telling us about her high school teacher and goes from there.

The school board tried to get her fired. As did local churches, including mine.

And as did the principal.

In 2005, he asked her to sign the memo. It listed several points she must agree to, including:

“Understand that you work in a conservative community.”

“Stay on topic; be cautious with politics and sexual orientation situations with students.”

“Be careful with liberal and religious view points.”

And, the one that made me cry, “Remember who you work for and [the fact that] consistently being outside the box and parent complaints could cost you your teaching position.”

I suddnely realized I had been brought up in a community that forbids original thought.

I realized I had bought into the lie that it is a sin open your mind and just listen to what people who disagree with you say.

I realized my small community was a microcosm of the state of Oklahoma and that, as long as I stay here, the fact that I am a moderate who sympathizes with some — though definitely not all — liberal viewpoints will cause others to question my Christianity, my judgment and my intelligence.

I’m not gonna spoil the rest, but just go read it. If you read ONE thing this holiday weekend, between stuffing your face with leftovers and watching football, read this one. It’s a very heartfelt and sincere slice of what many Oklahomans are going through right now.




America: Two Steps Forward. Oklahoma: Four Steps Backward
November 9, 2008, 7:19 am
Filed under: Oklahoma, Politics

First of all, congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama, who stayed on the high road in his campaign and, to his credit, kept cool and engaged with Americans in discourse about real and pressing issues facing this nation while his opponents (and even more so, some of their fans, despite John McCain’s best efforts to abate the hate) were diverted from discourse about the issues by the usual fear mongering, attack tactics and other sideshows that have become the norm of a GOP that, as I wrote last week, has become hopelessly hijacked by cultural wedge-issue pushing extremists.

But as the nation as a whole took two giant steps forward in finding a starting place in the healing of a nation brought virtually to its knees by eight years of George Walker Bush (or, as my landlady called him, Dick Cheney’s wind-up toy), Oklahoma took several steps backwards.

It is what it is. Oklahoma has reaffirmed, with exclamation points, that it’s the reddest of the red states, returning virtually all of its Republican delegation (save lone Democrat Dan Boren, although he’s kind of a D.I.N.O.) to Washington AND, as a bonus, taking control of the State Legislature as well.

Now think about that when Oklahoma’s Democratic governor, Brad Henry, HAS to leave office in 2010 because of term limits. What then? For anyone left — or even center — of the spectrum, this has to be scary. Henry is what he is (a moderate, and some might even say a D.I.N.O.), but he must be commended for his leadership, particularly in educational issues. He is also to be commended for his spirit of fostering cooperation between both parties, and the willingness to call out extremism for what it is (particularly when responding to Sally Kern’s anti-gay tirade that landed on YouTube). When he leaves, it will actually suck.

Although its hard to tell from the national pundits, bloggers (at least ones better regarded and more seriously taken than the tiny sliver of real estate I’m taking up on the Infobahn) and TV talking heads, there ARE Blue people in Oklahoma.

And we came out and cast our votes for Obama — and Andrew Rice, and and Ron Marlett, and other candidates in other races around the state, hoping to unseat individuals who have brought unwanted attention and shame to our state with their backwards ideas and, in a case or two, sheer unacceptable hatred. (We voted for Jim Roth too, who was running to keep his place on the state Corporation Commission. He’s another young, smart guy who should be exemplary of Oklahoma’s future).

Marlett (not a young man but a smart man) was unsuccessful in his bid to turn Rep. Sally Kern back into just another meddlesome, helmet-haired preacher’s wife. Andrew Rice — who is poised to have a great future in Oklahoma politics — ran a clean, honest, even-handed campaign to send senior US Senator Jim Inhofe into retirement. Inhofe, on the other hand, was snide and condescending to Rice, and easily won re-election simply because he scared people into voting for him because Rice, for lack of a better way to put it (and, intentionally or not, following the lead of what the McCain/Palin ticket had devolved into towards the final months of the campaign) was not like Oklahomans.

“Not like Oklahomans”? What are Oklahomans like, anyway? Does anybody know this without resorting to the usual stereotypes associated with Oklahomans? We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and creeds, religion or none, liberal and conservative, urban and rural, gay and straight. Who has the right to define for the rest of America what an Oklahoman is? I hope not the likes of Inhofe or Kern, and I hope not the likes of the state’s newspaper of record, The Oklahoman. Oh, sure, it’s recent graphic makeover is sort of nice, but it’s still akin to putting lipstick on a pig.

So thanks to the politics of fear — or at the very least a lack of a dissenting powerful voice to counter that of The Oklahoman, which really does not represent the views of ALL Oklahomans — we’ve probably ensured that Oklahoma’s brain drain will continue unabated for several more years to come, and that Oklahoma will continue to be the object of shame and ridicule when someone comes out with inflammatory or controversial remarks about People Who Aren’t Like Themselves (read: gays, liberals, non-whites, divorcees, non-Christians, people with adequate dental hygiene … whoever).

Why does it have to be this way, that progressive Oklahomans always stuck with playing defense? But rest assured, we’ll always be looking for that fumble or that botched pass and run it in for a TD or a vicious dunk. It’s bound to happen in the near future. In fact I’m pretty sure it will.

Maybe we need a new coach? Where’s our Bob Stoops or Jeff Capel to maybe teach us a new and better way to play what’s become a more challenging game?

More reading here:

What’s the Matter With Oklahoma? (diary by droogie at Daily Kos)

Oklahoma Red for Shame (Peace Arena)



The Last Thing … Endorses Andrew Rice
November 3, 2008, 4:32 am
Filed under: Oklahoma, Politics | Tags: , , , ,

On Halloween I took advantage of early voting in Oklahoma. If turnout is going to be what is expected, I knew I would not have time to do so Tuesday, and I am glad I did, because if I had not made it to the polls on Tuesday I know I would be guilty forever of not participating in what has to be the most important Presidential election in recent memory.

I got to spend the time in the queue catching up with an acquaintance I’d not seen in nearly a decade, so that helped make the hour go by a lot faster. Nobody tried to suppress my vote, nobody did this, that or the other to make me have second thoughts or anything else. I simply went through the normal polling place procedures, went into the booth, marked the ballot with my choices and put it in the machine and then I walked out into the sunshine of a fall afternoon.

I cast a ballot for the candidates I support and the candidates I hope will win and undertake the process of healing what the last eight years hath wrought. I want to be hopeful that my vote will be one little tiny voice among many others in a mass repudiation of a GOP that has been hijacked beyond most hope of recovery.

How has the GOP been hijacked? For some 30 years by the mindset of, “I’m better than you because I’m a conservative Christian who thinks gays are terrorists and has never had a divorce or an affair. Global warming doesn’t exist but does it really matter because Jesus is coming back soon and will take us all away and leave the wicked to suffer and die here” and other types of extremist crapola that diverts Americans away from real issues — especially economic, energy, and climate issues — that *will* have a significant and measurable impact on the future.

But then again, I’m reminded I live in Oklahoma, where the two major newspapers: The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World — are doing their part to keep with status quo by endorsing, at least in the major races, the McCain/Palin presidential ticket and James Inhofe in the U.S. Senate race. When you have these media juggernauts (yes, even the Tulsa World, which is like the little sibling who always cries “Take me with!” or “Meeee tooooo!!” compared to The Oklahoman) to tell you what to think, what’s the point of trying to convince you otherwise?

In its endorsement of Inhofe, The Oklahoman wrote:

Inhofe is a pro-defense fiscal and social conservative who reflects Oklahoma values. Under Democratic control, Congress has moved far away from those values. Sending Rice to the Senate would do little to put the brakes on that trend.

James Inhofe on the issues

Hey, we might all be scared shiteless in the continuing economic crisis worrying about where our next paycheck/meal/shelter/possible medical care might come from if we did find ourselves downsized/outsourced/just plain shite out of luck. But under the watch of vigilant “values” fans like Jim Inhofe, nobody will burn the flag, gay/lesbian couples won’t get married, and heaven forbid a woman decides what to do with her own body, especially if she becomes pregnant as the result of non-consensual sex. Oh, and forget about teaching people about contraception and general sexual health, which at the end of the day creates more problems than it’s supposed to relieve (allegedly). They’re all about pushing this “abstinence-only” nonsense. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You will not stop people from having sex. This is like laying out a spread of pastries in front of a fat kid and telling him not to touch it. The best you can do is use education to help limit unwanted pregnancies and the spread of STDs.

Values indeed. Values out of whack in the big picture when America faces an uncertain economic climate, a canyon between the haves and have-nots, and also faces the task of undoing eight years of taint on America’s place on the world stage thanks to Bush/Cheney (or should that be Cheney/Bush) foreign policy.

I respectfully believe in my heart of hearts that the vast majority of Oklahomans in their right minds shudder when they hear Inhofe bully his opponent and address him like a snotnosed little kid, as he did in the one debate that Inhofe agreed to do (Rice asked for more, Inhofe agreed to just one), or hear Inhofe use the Senate floor to talk about his family history’s lack of divorce or homosexuality, and generally want to hide their faces in shame almost every other time Inhofe has opened his mouth. Inhofe has his fans, sure, but its a disservice to a state that wants very much to bury old negative stereotypes (Dust Bowl, for instance) and be taken seriously as a player in attracting business, as a player in sports other than college football, and as a contributor to diverse popular culture. Inhofe continues to represent that part of the Oklahoma psyche that is fearful of change, doesn’t come off as all that bright even though they may be, and — unfortunately — might be prone to irrational hatred of people That Are Not Like Them.

And why do social (or Christian) conservatives have a monopoly on “values”? Don’t we all have a set of values? People’s values might be different from person to person, but they are still values. George F. Will (of all people!) asked “who isn’t a values voter?” over two years ago in a Washington Post column:

This phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to . . . well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots. …

———–

Conservatives should be wary of the idea that when they talk about, say, tax cuts and limited government — about things other than abortion, gay marriage, religion in the public square and similar issues — they are engaging in values-free discourse. And by ratifying the social conservatives’ monopoly of the label “values voters,” the media are furthering the fiction that these voters are somehow more morally awake than others.

Today’s liberal agenda includes preservation, even expansion, of the welfare state in its current configuration in order to strengthen an egalitarian ethic of common provision. Liberals favor taxes and other measures to produce a more equal distribution of income. They may value equality indiscriminately, but they vote their values.

Among the various flavors of conservatism, there is libertarianism that is wary of government attempts to nurture morality and there is social conservatism that says unless government nurtures morality, liberty will perish. Both kinds of conservatives use their votes to advance what they value.

And this is how I see it:

One set of “values” is about making America a society where the planes of economic stratification are accessible as stair steps rather than discouragingly divided, and not about getting all up into your personal life with respect to your choices and beliefs. This set of values, to me, encourages Americans as human beings deserving and worthy of that which all human beings deserve: To be treated with dignity and equality regardless of their race, ethnic makeup, sexuality, income level, or religious beliefs — even if they are non-Christians or even non-theists.

Another set of “values” is about getting all up in your personal business and your beliefs, and keeping the planes of economic stratification spread far and wide with not much hope for those on a lower plane to advance higher, no matter how hard they work to achieve such advancement. They also talk about treating all Americans with the dignity they deserve, but for some reason this irritates the lunatic fringe on the far reaches of this political spectrum. People like this, perhaps, who’ve become associated – fairly or unfairly – with the Republican half of the Presidential ticket.

The kind of order that James Inhofe endorses does not speak for all Oklahomans, and is in fact a disservice to Oklahomans who desire the forward progress of our state and its profile and standing in the rest of the nation. With that, The Last Thing … endorses Andrew Rice for U.S. Senate.



An Open Letter to KRXO, the Only Remaining Tolerable Music Station in Oklahoma City
October 6, 2008, 7:57 am
Filed under: Media, music, Oklahoma | Tags: , ,

This is borne out of the last several months of being forced to listen to KRXO every night at the supplemental job that I took a while back and have since quit (not because I got sick of listening to KRXO, which as far as Oklahoma City music stations is a hell of lot more tolerable than the others). But still … nobody’s perfect.

Dear KRXO,

It appears that your classic-rock format really seems to be stuck in a rut. Not all of your audience is made up of people that were stoners in high school that may or may not still be stoners, but they’ll get back to you on that after they’ve gone to get some munchies. With that in mind, I hate to tell you that maybe the repeated servings of Led Zeppelin, Queen, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, and ZZTop are, well, getting boring and its time to mix it up just a little bit more?

I maybe don’t listen to KRXO as much as I should (sorry, National Public Radio comes first as far as my listening habits are concerned) but I noticed when listening to your station for an extended period of time over this past summer, that you’d throw in songs by the likes of U2 or The Police or The Cars. That’s good, I guess, but wait a minute: When you went classic rock years and years ago, didn’t you promote yourselves as “no punk, no funk, no elevator junk?” Hey, weren’t these bands back in the day considered “New Wave?” If memory serves, yes! This then to me begs the question, “What do you consider ‘classic rock’?” Do you measure it in terms of timelessness, popularity, or what? Careful, there, you’ve kinda been playing bands that would have been verboten in your mix about 15 to 20 years ago. What gives?

Look, if David Bowie (let’s face it, Bowie is in a class all by himself because he didn’t fit neatly into one of rock’s myriad sub-genres. He did a little bit of everything and across multiple media considering his film work. Maybe he’s beyond everyones’ scope here) already has a place on KRXO’s approved “classic rock” mix (how many times have I heard “Space Oddity” or some other Bowie evergreen on your station), and if you’ve already tried to squeeze in U2, The Police, and The Cars, then the following artists such as R.E.M., The Clash, The Cure, Talking Heads, and The Ramones should be added that by definition fall under “classic rock” based on the following criteria:

a) It has been 25 or more years since each band published its first legitimate recording. And some reputable rock critic, or more, has declared any or all of these bands among the greatest of the last 25 to 30 years, and they’ve been tagged with big words like “influential” and the like (if I’m not mistaken it was The Ramones touring the UK in 1976 that actually helped inspire the UK punk movement). And in some cases, the music itself, at least to my ears, grows timeless — The Ramones’ short, fast, simple songs could be a product of a few minutes ago or a few decades ago and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

b) In the case of some of these bands (not all), one or more band members is deceased — sad but true, an artist’s contributions grow in value when they are dead and, therefore, are rendered incapable of producing. The Cars’ Ben Orr is dead, so is The Clash’s Joe Strummer. So are 3/4s of the original Ramones. Let’s face it, KRXO, your playlist as it is is full of dead people: Most of Lynyrd Skynyrd; John Bonham; Freddie Mercury; Bon Scott, the original singer from AC/DC; that guy from T. Rex; Jimi Hendrix; 2/4ths of The Beatles on those occasions you actually play The Beatles outside of that 7 a.m. Sunday morning program of yours … I could go on with the necrology but I think you get it.

The upshot of this is: Sorry, I kinda thought being dead was a requirement to be played on your station.

d) As a 40something, this is some of the music of MY youth and I want to hear it again too and it would be nice to hear it when I’m not near my computer so I can stream a channel that would gladly program that and nothing more.

And let’s face it, sometimes you get “attached” to something and have a little trouble letting it go:

During one particular week this past summer, somebody insisted on playing “Fat Bottomed Girls” at some point during the graveyard. Why was this? Couldn’t you play anything else? Every damned night for about a week, usually between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. you broke out with this song and deftly sandwiched it between, oh, say, “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band and yet another playing of “Rock And Roll” from your worn-out copy of Led Zeppelin IV. Why? It’s not a great song, to me it’s one of the also-rans in the Queen catalog. But hey, at least you’re not playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the 9,999,999th time (and that total includes the 50-ish times I’ve heard it on your station again in recent weeks).

Let’s see what else you overplayed during the graveyard this past summer. Oh, yes. REO Speedwagon and Journey were annoying when they were in their prime — both groups just a little bit too clean cut (despite being long-haired) to be scary authority-flauting rock stars, thanks to frontmen that were about as threatening as Beanie Babies, and yet not-clean-cut enough otherwise (Moralistic Scold: “He’s singing about loving, and touching, and squeezing … and he’s not singing about a stuffed animal or bathroom tissue!!! Horrors!!!”). And yes both bands (or I guess what’s left of them) played shows at the Zoo Amp this past summer (I think it was the Zoo Amp, but anyway), and I guess you were getting everybody excited for something that would probably have been a bigger deal sometime between Ronald Reagan’s first and second terms of office. In that case I can understand the repeated playings of chestnuts like “Keep On Lovin’ You” (groan) and “Don’t Stop Believin'” or “Wheel In the Sky,” respectively.

You could maybe do just a teeny bit better. After all, you’re the only tolerable music station left in Oklahoma City — thank you for not playing country music, or meth rock, or teeny-girl pop. And certainly thank you for the OU Sooners games (although I wish you’d also broadcast the Sooner men’s basketball games — believe it or not I can’t get KOKC worth a damn down in Norman after sundown inside the building in which I work).

It isn’t like I’m asking you to become The Spy (although I really really miss that station), but it would be nice if you were less the soundtrack from Dazed and Confused (and don’t get me wrong, that was a great little movie). And I’m not asking you to change your format and start playing “alternative” rock — frankly, programming alternative rock has been a failure — twice — in Oklahoma City (and both times it was done by Clear Channel-owned stations, so its entirely possible that it was the wrong company doing it! C’mon, Renda people, you could probably do it better, why not give it a shot?)

But I am saying maybe its time you sit down and re-examine what constitutes “classic rock.” Not all of us want to hear the crap on The Buzz, we’re too liberal for country music and don’t want to be put to sleep by everything else.

Thank you.

— ster.



Did Kern Get Death Threats or Not?
March 13, 2008, 9:37 am
Filed under: Media, Oklahoma, Serious stuff | Tags: , , , , ,

The Tulsa World (amazingly, a major metropolitan newspaper in Oklahoma not owned by anyone named Gaylord) is reporting that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is now sifting through the thousands of e-mails Kern has received in the wake of her homophobic tirade released last week by the Victory Fund via YouTube.

[OSBI Spokeswoman Jessica] Brown said Tuesday, “There are a lot of e-mails to the representative that say, ‘You ought to die,’ rather than, ‘I am going to kill you.’

“I wouldn’t characterize them as death threats,” she said.

But Brown said OSBI computer analysts are working to find the senders and that some might be interviewed to assess their intent. She said it’s possible that the OSBI will refer some to district attorneys for prosecution.

So, what was it? An unintentional exaggeration to rally her side to her cause? Kind of a disproportionate version of a little kid telling her parents that the big mean bullies were out to get her? Who knows, but — if I’m reading the Tulsa World correctly, if she wasn’t wholly forthcoming about receiving death threats, I think that’s kind of sorry.

But keep firmly in mind: Death threats are in and of themselves inappropriate, even if they’re aimed at someone like Sally Kern. Sad to say though, that which should take place of death threats and other petty bullshite — i.e. open communication and rational adult dialogue about issues — are things that I seriously doubt that Kern and those of her ilk would have any interest in seeing as how their minds are pretty much made up and absolutely positively nothing will change them.

(Hey wait — rational adult dialogue? Does someone who equates homosexuality with terrorism sound like a rational adult? What the hell am I saying?)

I felt like poking around sites such as the American Family Association, the Eagle Forum, and Focus on the Family to see where Kern lifted some of her talking points … but I had just eaten a (rather lousy) chicken parmesan TV dinner and I felt it starting to come back up, so I stopped, not wanting to exascerbate the nauseated feeling.

What’s really sad for me is that I’m so caught up in the Kern thing that it’s diverted my attention from that which keeps me going in March: The buildup to the NCAA Tournament. All five of my dear readers know how much I love the roundball. But it’s hard to ignore this state embarassment in light of how badly Oklahoma wants to play with the big boys (including the possible acquisition of an NBA team whose Oklahoma City-based ownership group wants to move them here). Remarks like Kern’s don’t make the rest of the nation want to let go of those dated, negative stereotypes about Oklahomans that have nauseated me and so many others for years. The timing is just horrible on a lot of levels.



Oh, Damn This is Funny
March 12, 2008, 10:43 am
Filed under: Internet, Oklahoma | Tags: , ,

If Celebrities Moved to Oklahoma (hat tip: wintrest.com)

Granted, I could care less about most standard-issue “celebrities” (meaning the film and TV celebrity variety, although there are certainly professional sports celebrities that skirt this dynamic too). I don’t give a rat’s ass about Britney Spears or the Olsen twins or Paris Hilton (and I remember nearly driving into a tree when her little jail affair was worthy of being reported on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, which usually has significantly better news judgment), I don’t read People or US or any of those rags, and I don’t really watch television outside of ESPN, C-SPAN, the Weather Channel or whatever local newscast (usually KOCO). I hate to go to the multiplex when I can rent the DVD and watch it from the comfort of the Big Brown Recliner a short time later and not have to put up with ushers, general dicks and concession prices.

That said, anything and everything that holds them up to ridicule is okay by me. And this is some of the greatest Photoshopery I’ve ever seen.

Sad to say, though, while there are fat, ugly rednecks in every state of this Union, there is a certain, I dunno, distinctiveness, about Oklahoma’s fat, ugly rednecks (fortunately they are really a minority here).

In the interest of full disclosure, this is being written by someone who is, admittedly, disproportionate (but I am working on it) and worse for wear. I’m okay with being called fat and ugly.

But call me a redneck and those would be fighting words.