Monday, June 27, 2016

Beth’s Music Moment: Only After Dark

As some of you may know, I am fairly plugged into all things Duran Duran.

What? Stop laughing!

Okay, yes. I’ll cop to being a wee bit obsessed. I’m always on the lookout for fun stuff. A recent favorite was a couple of John Taylor luggage tags from Etsy. I also have a couple of colored vinyl discs on the way. Who doesn’t love colored vinyl??

I came across this cool compilation CD and thought it looked fun. Boy, is it ever! A little background. Duran Duran got their start at a club called the Rum Runner in Birmingham, England (their hometown). They would practice and play gigs there, but they also did odd jobs around the joint. John worked the door, Andy worked as a cook, and Roger worked as a busboy of sorts, collecting the bottles and glasses from patrons’ tables. Nick? He worked as a DJ.

In 2006, Nick and John curated this CD and chose the songs for it. In the liner notes, Nick writes that 1978-80 was a fascinating time in the music scene. Punk was on its way out, but at the Rum Runner, punk, glam, and electronica flourished in a strange and glorious mix. Nick played all these songs and more. Check out this playlist!

  1. Being Boiled (Fast Version) - Human League
  2. Computer Game (Theme From The Invader)/Firecracker - Yellow Magic Orchestra
  3. Always Crashing in the Same Car - David Bowie
  4. Sister Europe (Album Version) - Psychedelic Furs
  5. Changeling - Simple Minds
  6. Only After Dark - Mick Ronson
  7. Underpass - John Foxx
  8. Warm Leatherette - The Normal
  9. ‘In’ Crowd - Bryan Ferry
  10. The True Wheel - Brian Eno
  11. Are ‘Friends’ Electric? - The Tubeway Army
  12. The Robots (Single Edit) - Kraftwerk
  13. I Feel Love - Donna Summer
  14. I Am The Fly - Wire
  15. Shot By Both Sides - Magazine
  16. Private Life - Grace Jones
  17. The Passenger - Iggy Pop
  18. Slow Motion - Ultravox  

This is an absolutely amazing collection. I knew most of the songs, of course, but a few were unfamiliar to me. (If you’re unfamiliar with some of them, I encourage you to look them up.) What is cool to me is that it is a set that perfectly flows together and captures a mood. It made me want to put on some leopard print stuff and transport back in time to hang out at the Rum Runner! It’s hard to convey that feeling of being out in a club in the ‘70s or ‘80s and the odd amalgam of music styles. Nick and John’s song choices are perfect. Whether it’s the electronica of Human League and Kraftwerk, the glam of Bowie and Bryan Ferry, the strangely compelling creepiness of “Warm Leatherette,” the punk of Wire and Magazine, or the straight-up disco of “I Feel Love,” it all works. I would have danced all night to this stuff.

I’ve always prided myself on being able to put together good party soundtracks. (Pro tip: if you want to get people to dance, put some Prince in the mix!) But I bow before the mastery of Nick Rhodes and John Taylor in curating Only After Dark. It also illustrates their influences and how they developed their sound. Put all these songs in the cocktail shaker, shake it up, and pour out Duran Duran (on the rocks, please).

Nick and John, if you ever want to DJ my party, you’re hired!

Here. Enjoy some “Warm Leatherette.” Join the car crash set.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

My VP prediction

A while back, I mentioned on Facebook that I think Hillary Clinton will pick Tim Kaine as her running mate. Today I’m going on record with that pick. I may be proved wrong and will be the first to say so. But I did predict that Biden would be Obama’s pick way back when, so I’ve got that going for me!

Here is my reasoning, along with comparisons to the other two VP front-runners, Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro. (I’ll leave the Republican prognostications to others. I have no idea what Trump will do. Does anyone?)

One of Hillary’s big arguments against Trump is that she’s got the experience and he doesn’t. (Man, a truer statement was never made!) While Warren would be a good pick to get some of the Sanders supporters on Hillary’s side, there is a portion of them who are already vilifying Warren for endorsing Clinton and campaigning for her. Get a grip, people. I’m just not sure it would do her that much good with the diehard Sanders supporters. Despite Warren’s excellent work on the CFPB and in the Senate, she really doesn’t have that much experience in foreign policy. That is Clinton’s strong suit against Trump. Same goes for Castro. He has some executive experience as Mayor of San Antonio and he’s been a part of President Obama’s cabinet, but he doesn’t have a ton of experience at that level and it’s hard to say, “He’s ready to be President on Day One.”

Kaine, however, has been Mayor of Richmond; Governor of Virginia; he is a current Senator for Virginia; he serves on several committees, including Armed Services and Foreign Relations; he served as DNC chair for two years. If the main criterion for the pick is experience, Kaine gets it.

Did I mention Virginia? Major swing state. Massachusetts is reliably blue so Warren doesn’t help there. Castro’s main ties are to Texas, which is going to stay red. Kaine wins in this aspect.

Massachusetts has a Republican Governor, so he would appoint a Republican to take Warren’s Senate seat. The Democrats really really REALLY want to retake the Senate. Losing a seat by picking Warren would be counterproductive in that goal. (Harry Reid seems to have found a loophole to limit that, but it’s still risky.) Virginia’s Governor, Terry McAuliffe, is a Democrat, and limited to one consecutive term. He can appoint himself to the Senate seat, keeping Kaine’s seat blue.

Hillary has a big advantage over Trump among women. Adding a woman to the ticket will not make much of a difference in that regard. I have heard some reservations about an all-female ticket. I certainly do not share those reservations, but I can see why it might make some people feel kind of oogy. Two powerful women...I know! So scary! ::eye roll:: But yeah, I recognize that it might be too big of a leap for some (unenlightened) folks. I’m also not sure how much chemistry there is between Clinton and Warren. I think Warren will be an enthusiastic and effective surrogate, but the relationship between running mates does matter and can make a difference in the perception of the ticket.

Hillary also has a big advantage over Trump among Hispanics. Because you know...THE WALL. So adding Castro to the ticket isn’t going to provide much of a boost there.

Is Kaine the energetic, dynamic pick? Nope. He admitted on “Meet the Press” this morning that he is “boring.” But if you’ve been watching Hillary Clinton over the years, you know that she is a cautious politician and by no means a firebrand. I think she will go for the cautious pick. That Kaine can deliver a major swing state is a big deal.  

There have been a few other mentions, like Cory Booker. I would love to see him on the ticket! But again, Hillary has no problem with African-Americans, so he doesn’t give her a boost. Sherrod Brown would also be great, but Ohio also has a Republican Governor who would appoint a Republican to his seat. Al Franken? I would love that, too, and Minnesota has a Democratic Governor. But I just don’t quite see her choosing him, although he will be another great surrogate. Unleash your inner, sarcastic comedian a little bit, Senator Franken! Sanders? Not gonna happen.

Kaine is the safest, most logical pick for Hillary. My money is on Tim Kaine.