Archive for April, 2012

Fluffernutter Friday (formerly Cool For Cats Friday)

April 27th, 2012
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Joe Bonamassa pays tribute to Levon Helm:

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Bankrupting Markham

April 27th, 2012
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There’s been talk about Markham’s GTA Centre, the new 20,000 seat arena being built by W. Graeme Roustan and Rudy Bratty in the 250,000 person Toronto suburb. Today, Markham council voted to borrow half the cost of the arena, $162.5-million over 20-years.

It all sounds so familiar.

In Arizona the City of Glendale, a 250,000 person suburb of Phoenix, built a hockey rink for the Phoenix Coyotes. As Stephen Brunt notes in a recent article for Sportsnet Magazine:

A city with a population of approximately a quarter of a million people is carrying a debt in excess of a billion dollars, not including a projected $30-million budget shortfall this year, and is currently contemplating which services its citizenry will be forced to do without in order to pay the bills.

That sad state of affairs relates directly to the magical thinking that directed massive public investment into the team, into the arena, into the shopping centre that was constructed around it…

Glendale’s civic guardians…were buying into the big lie about how professional sports can be an economic engine; about how they create jobs, create wealth, put your town on the map, bring life to moribund neighbourhoods, etc., etc.

There are volumes of academic literature that definitively disprove all of that. Professional sports teams are in fact relatively small businesses that, if anything, leech discretionary spending from other sectors of the economy. They create a modest number of seasonal, low paying jobs, and a very small number of extraordinarily high paying ones — for the athletes, who inevitably leave town the minute the last game is over.

The people who run Markham, The City Council, bought into that big lie by an 11-2 vote. They bought the lie that an arena, a  “20,000-seat, 600,000-square-foot Markham Sports, Entertainment and Cultural Centre,” will be profitable for the City of Markham. In Glendale they’re talking about making cuts. Not close a library here or a pool there. Not the minimal cuts that caused so much turbulence in the City of Toronto this past year, but real cuts to the fire department and police department, real cuts to infrastructure and safety because they are underwater. They can’t begin to pay their debt, and their debt is all about a hockey rink and an NHL team thats about to decamp to Quebec City.

In Markham they voted today to unlearn the lessons that Glendale Arizona has to teach City’s that want to get into the pro sports business. They voted to ignore the evidence while the evidence is still fresh. They rolled the dice that their play for an NHL team, their foray into arena building will not come back to bite them.

As Stephen Brunt notes in his article, “But don’t lie awake fretting about the good citizens of Glendale. They’ll be just fine. Because now, they’re planning on opening a casino.”

Might as well apply to the province for that casino license now.

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Saturday Fluffernutter: The If Only the Voices in Her Head Would Tell Her to Go Away Edition

April 21st, 2012
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorFor some “stars,” it’s all they can do but take advantage of their fans. Apparently, Nicki Manaj, a singer of some form, is one of those.

Manaj was PO’d last weekend when a fan site, leaked a new, never before heard song by the rapper. So what did she do? Delete her twitter account. Leaving with a parting shot at an unfair life that has given her money and fame far beyond any ability, Manaj basically blamed her whole fan base for one website.

Like seriously, its but so much a person can take. Good f–king bye,

fluffincolorTwitter loses one: twitter gains one.

After an hiatus from her twitter account following her very public marriage break up, prescription drug problem and rehab stint, Demi Moore returned to twitter this week.

The actress/cougar hasn’t been seen much since husband Ashton Kutcher stepped out on the MILF queen. Her first tweet since the breakup was a photo of herself lying on her bed (sorry guys, fully clothed). She later tweeted that she was looking to change her twitter name, which is currently @mrskutcher.

I’d suggest @mrsgardiner, but the current occupant of that position might object.

fluffincolorThis just in: The Tupac hologram has been shot. I repeat, the Tupac hologram has been shot. RIP Tupac hologram. 2012 – 2012. (h/t to Gord)

fluffincolorBreaking news. Nicky Manaj says the voices in her head made her quit twitter, and she is thinking of rejoining the “look at me” site.

We’re shocked.

Wouldn’t it be nice if once, just once, fans of these vacuous, talentless fame junkies didn’t return when these Diva’s treat them like shite. I know if I was running the free publicity web site she bashed it would have been an ex-web site by about last Sunday.

Lousy, lousy week to be a music fan. Doesn’t matter if you’re period is the 50’s and 60’s, late 60’s and through the 70’s or disco era, there’s bad news.

fluffincolorFormer Bee Gee Robin Gibb is in a London hospital suffering pneumonia. Gibb has been fighting cancer and the pnemonia appears to be of the fatal variety. Friends and family were called to his bedside last weekend where Gibb fell into a coma.

No recent word on his health, but prognosis does not seem to be good.

fluffincolorHow did you know you made it in rock’n’roll in the 50’s?

You were on American Bandstand.

And if you were on American Bandstand, you got bigger and you had Dick Clark to thank for that. Clark was the host of the popular music and dance program form 1957 to 1987.

On top of Bandstand, he hosted Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve from Times Square from 1975-2004, when he stopped hosting duties after suffering a stroke.

On Wednesday Clark died after suffering a heart attack following a medical procedure. The timeless entertainer, known for seeming to have not aged in his 50 years in the public eye was 82.

fluffincolorI don’t normally do mourning for celebrities or are bothered too terribly by the death of someone famous whether I liked them or not. Sure, I have empathy for the deceased, and always try to be graceful if I write a eulogy. But they are people I have never met and the effect on my life is minimal. I note their passing, try and offer some thoughts but don’t get too emotional. So this week when Levon Helm died and I found myself deeply saddened, I can’t answer why.

Helm was by all accounts a decent, easy man who did what he did simply because he loved music. When his health failed and treatment for cancer of the larynx took his voice and his money, he kept on playing, creating the somewhat legendary Midnight Rambles at his farm in Woodstock NY, the greatest show I never made it too but really, really intended too.

It took a number of years, but Helm worked his voice back, and if you listen to Dirt Farmer from 2007, it’s clear he is back in fine form.

After asking the audience at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions to pray for Helm last Saturday, there was a report that ex band mate Robbie Robertson went to Helm to attempt to repair a 30 year rift. On Tuesday, Helms family announced via his web page that his cancer had returned and that he was near the end.

Sadly, he passed Thursday afternoon.

Helm was the drummer, but also played mandolin and guitar, in The Band. The lone American in the otherwise Canadian outfit, Helm had one of the strongest and most soulful voices in rock music. He never really lost his Arkansas accent when he sang, and it gave his singing a character others simply didn’t have.

Levon Helm was, simply put, a vital part of one of the greatest rock bands ever. He was 71.

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The Freedom of Music: Frampton’s Guitar Comes Alive

April 15th, 2012
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

Guitarists and their guitars. It can be a special bond. One guitar can be such a perfect fit, so in tune with it’s player, that a guitar player who can afford, and owns hundreds of the instruments, can spend years using mainly one.sidebar-7

In his book, One Train Later, Andy Summers tells how a student came to a lesson when he was teaching in LA in 1974, and offered to sell him an old ’61 Fender telecaster. Disinterested, Summers strummed it a few times and “something stirs within” him. He takes the guitar home with him, spends a few hours with it, and finds he can’t put it down, can’t stop playing. A failed musician who had lost the desire to play, he was playing with Tim Rose within’ a few weeks. The guitar that sparks something within’ him, the ’61 Fender telecaster with the stratocaster neck and the Gibson pickup, rewired with an overdrive unit built in the body of the guitar would carry him through his career with The Police, ending in 1984, and beyond.

Andy Summers was a one guitar guy for the highest point in his career, as was Peter Frampton. Frampton was playing lead guitar with Steve Marriot’s Humble Pie in 1970 when he borrowed a 1954 Les Paul Custom with triple humbucker pickups for a show. He would later say of the guitar:

I used it for both sets and my feet didn’t touch the ground. This is the best guitar I have ever played.

After the show he tried to buy the guitar from it’s owner, but it wasn’t for sale: he gave the guitar to Frampton instead.

Frampton’s 1954 Les Paul is now iconic, having been used in the remaining Humble Pie albums, including Rockin the Fillmore, and all of Frampton’s solo albums until 1980. It is the guitar Frampton is playing on the cover of his multi-million selling Frampton Comes Alive! and, of course, the guitar Frampton plays throughout the album. Have a favourite Peter Frampton song? Chances are he played it on that ’54.

In 1980 it was aboard a cargo plane that crashed in Venezuela. There we no survivors, including, presumably, the guitar. Burnt, beaten and battered, the fine Mahogany instrument would have made great fuel in a burning wreckage and, as far as anybody knew, that was it’s fate.

It didn’t die a fiery death, however, and a couple of years ago a Dutch Frampton fanatic (who will never again want for Frampton tickets or, presumably, have to pay for them) and a Curacaon customs agent that moonlights as a guitar repair man, began investigating (based on what information did they decide to investigate, I have no idea). Late last year they found the guitar, which had been salvaged and sold to a musician in Curacao.

On February 18th Peter Frampton stepped onstage at New York’s famous Beacon Theater with his black ’54 Les Paul for the first time in more than 30 years. A musician and his guitar, reunited after all these years.

The Freedom of Music , ,

Saturday Fluffernutter: The Playing Crazy Poker and the Singers are Wild Edition

April 14th, 2012
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorThere’s always been an equation in regards to The Rolling Stones:

Mick Jagger loves money > Mick Jagger hates Kieth Richards

It was always the one factor that made you think a 50th anniversary tour would be a go. However, recent news that a tour will not happen in 2012 leads one to think that the equation has changed. So what then to make of the news that the Stones will be going into the studio “later in April… just to throw some ideas around.” fluff_2_2008

One hopes what we can make of it is that a) a new Stones album is coming and b) the old Fleetwood Mac theory that tension makes great records.

fluffincolorI’m not generally sympathetic to stars who want to whine how hard they have it, and last year I started the new year by having a go at Kim Cattrall for complaining about a fan asking for a picture at an upscale (very upscale) eatery. As well, I’m not a Katy Perry fan, so how do I end up being on Perry’s side in the current controversy regarding her statements on fame in Teen Voque. Well, because she said being famous is a pain, and it most surely is. About her fans, however, she didn’t say anything negative. In fact, I love what she said about fans:

I still want to be as approachable and reasonable as possible – when I meet fans and their crying, I’ll say, “Calm down, there’s nothing to cry about. I’m not going to bite you, or attack you, or grant you three wishes.

Fame sucks, but the fans are great, what’s controversial about that? Yet this week, Perry is backtracking, stating, “the fame quote was spoken in jest.” No it wasn’t, stand by what you meant: love the songs, love the fans, not so much the other stuff.

Frankly, Perry has always struck me as someone who set out to be a singer, and got caught in the fame (as compared to say, Lady Gaga, who caught the fame bug).

She should find a way to keep singing without the glare of the spotlight. Time to form a band perhaps, or do some cameos. In short, do the Joss Stone circuit

fluffincolorIt’s crazy poker week he at Fluffernutter World Headquarters, and rock singers are wild. First up is Axl Rose, with his Davey Jones dance moves and his childlike egocentricity.

Years since he’s done anything of note, years since he’s produced listenable music, he’s still such a diva. Exhibit #umpteen-thousand happened this week when Rose released a letter declining his induction into the rock and roll hall of fame. The letter is so obviously from the mind of an out of control, arrogant moron, yet something that could only have come from Axl Rose.

I respectfully decline my induction as a member of Guns ‘N’ Roses to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorized nor anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf.

fluffincolorOffering to match Rose’s disinclination to induction, Courtney Love saw Rose’s letter to the hall and raised him one wild accusation against a respected member of the rock community.

In a twitter tirade against Dave Grohl this week, the widow Cobain claims Grohl hit on her teenage daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. While the press bent over backward to poo-poo the claim based on the incontrovertible evidence that Grohl’s a nice guy and Love a whack job, the teenage daughter in question had the best response:

While I’m generally silent on the affairs of my biological mother, her recent tirade has taken a gross turn. I’ve never been approached by Dave Grohl in more than a platonic way. I’m in a monogamous relationship and very happy. Twitter should ban my mother.

Did you get that Dave Grohl? Being hit on by you would be gross. For the record, Grohl himself also denies any advances towards the Miss Cobain, and with her denial, that pretty much seems to settle that.

fluffincolorBreaking News: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are engaged.

With presses duly stopped, the story of Pitt designing the ring he gave to his now fiancé. The “massive” ring was spotted when the couple were out and about Wednesday night.

Pitt and Jolie have been dating for seven years, when Pitt left his wife Jennifer Aniston for his now fiancé, Jolie. The pair have six children together, three adopted, a daughter born in 2006 and twins born in 2008.

At least we know he’s not marrying her because he has to.

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Happy 25th Birthday

April 11th, 2012

Joss Stone may seem to have done it all: at 16 she released her first album, at Ronnie Scott’s she stole the scene from Jeff Beck when she helped him do People Get Ready, she’s a member of a supergroup, Superheavy, that includes Mick Jagger and Ziggy Marley. And all this before her 25th birthday.

Stone has an amazing voice, and handles the old soul music as well as anyone. Her natural, easy going beauty and style make her one of the sexiest women out there, when she’s grooving across a stage it’s virtually impossible to take your eyes off of her.

Joss Stone has all the tools to be a superstar, but has instead managed her career such that she has success and respect of her peers without the sideshow of superfame.

Happy 25th birthday Joss Stone, and I suspect we’ll be hearing so much mo from you in the years to come.

Birthday Wishes

The Freedom of Music: Van Halen

April 8th, 2012


One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

The spring/early summer of 1978 was one of those beautiful hot sunny springs, made for frisbee, beer and rock and roll. sidebar-1 At my high school there was a large open grass area immediately beside the smoking area (yes, we had a smoking area on school property). One of the grade 12 students had one of those cool 70’s vans, stocked with cans of beer and a good stereo. He and friends would have a drink, throw the frisbee around and blast Van Halen’s first album.

The thing that always surprises me about Van Halen is how many record companies took a pass on them. Sure, record companies passed The Beatles before Van Halen, but you could see their point. The Beatles were, in 1962, nothing too special. If you had already been burned by one group that sounded like The Everly Brothers, why take a flyer on She Loves You? But after Gene Simmons fronted Van Halen the cash for demos, it’s hard to imagine record companies hearing Runnin’ With The Devil or Jamie’s Cryin’ and saying, “nothing special here.” The Beatles would become a great band in just a few years after recording their first record, but Van Halen was already a great band.

As a high school student hearing it that first summer, it was a Wow! album. Nobody had ever played guitar quite like Eddie Van Halen did on that album, (and almost every guitar player since has played too much like that), and Roth was all rock star, sexuality oozing from the speakers. The songs were instant classics, and the way Van Halen owned The Kinks You Really Got Me, it was obvious they were a force to be reckoned with.

Eddie Van Halen saw Led Zeppelin in LA before Van Halen was even a band. He watched Jimmy Page play Heartbreakerand went home to duplicate the solo he saw. While doing so, he stumbled across his two handed tapping technique, and took what Page was doing to a whole new level. His virtuoso guitar solo piece, Eruption, could just as easily have been called Heartbreakier, for that’s what it was (actually, Triumph’s Rock & Roll Machine would be Heartbreakier, Eruptionwould be Heartbreakiest). But what Eddie Van Halen really seems to have learnt from Led Zeppelin was how powerful a rock band could be, how much pure energy can be created with 1 guitar, 1 bass and 1 drum set. Eruption is not just an apt title for his solo piece, but the entire album could be called that. An eruption is exactly what Van Halen’s first album sounded like booming out of bedrooms, cars and vans back in 1978.

Thirty-four years later, Van Halen continues on. This winter the original lineup of Van Halen released a new CD, their first since the mid-1980’s, A Different Kind Of Truth, and toured together. They are, by all appearances, a band again and reviews suggest the raw power and energy of a great rock and roll band still erupts from Van Halen. Sure blasting Tattoo out of the mini-van beside a sign that says, “no smoking anywhere on school property,” isn’t the same thing, and nobody will argue Van Halen isn’t unchanged and unbloodied by their 34-years as professional rock stars. But, as Mick Jagger sang, “it’s only rock and roll, and I like it.” Sometimes, that’s good enough.

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Saturday Fluffernutter: The Unfollowing @alecbaldwin Edition

April 7th, 2012
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All the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities

fluffincolorIt was awards weekend last weekend as The Canadian Music Awards, known as the Juno’s, the Country Music Awards and The Razzies all were handed out.

With William Shatner hosting, Michael Buble winning best album for a Christmas album, and then not being present to accept his award, The 2011 Juno’s are being called strange. One reason they are being called strange is that deadmau5 did not win best electronic dance album. Frankly, any award show that takes a man in a mouse head seriously is by definition strange. The fact the man with the mouse head was in Ottawa only makes things a little less strange.


Over in Las Vegas, meanwhile, the Academy of Country Music Awards were also handed out Sunday night. The big winners were husband and wife Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. Mr Lambert won best male vocalist while Mrs. Shelton won best female vocalist and album of the year for her record, “Four The Record.”

But the Junos and the Academy of Country Music Awards are the small potatoes. The real news is The Golden Raspberries. The Razzies for the worst in movies for the past year were handed out on Saturday night and for the first time one movie cleared the table. Adam Sandler’s Jack & Jill had more nominations than categories and Sandler won worst actor and worst actress for his dual role as Jack Sadelstein and his sister Jill Sadelstein. As well, Al Pacino won worst supporting actor for his role as Al Pacino in Jack & Jill. The movie, which critics at review site Rotten Tomatoes disliked almost unanimously, received all ten Razzies handed out.

fluffincolorA Charlize Theron sex video sounds like the end of the line for Internet porn, any further videos having being made moot. Alas, it was not the case as the sex-video released this week was a parody sex video involving Theron as in a dominatrix role and two submissive men being cowered by her. It was, according to press reports, Theron proving she had comedy chops. I disagree, it was not all that funny. It was, however, proof that what the world needs is a real Charlize Theron sex video.

fluffincolorSpeaking of hot Internet videos, Bond Girl in the upcoming 007 flick, Skyfall, Naomie Harris, has spent the last two months at the shooting range learning how to use , “machine guns, hand guns… Walter PPK’s,” in preparation for the role as Eve, a field agent who works with James Bond. She has a video diary highlighting her progress, available, no doubt, at the better internet sites.

The role of James Bond in Skyfall will once again be butchered by Daniel Craig.

fluffincolorIn other James Bond Skyfall news, there is rumour that the English Olympic committee is planning on having a Skyfall promo as part of the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics this August. This is apparently an answer for those who complained the Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis on top of the bus schtick was too cheesy. Because a Daniel Craig/ James Bond trailer wouldn’t be cheesy.

fluffincolorAlec Baldwin is engaged. the former Mr. Kim Basinger (54), retweeted a message this week that said:

Congrats to my longtime friend Alec Baldwin and his wonderful bride to be Hilaria Thomas. Congrats on his engagement

Thomas’s, for the record, is a 28-year old yoga instructor.

fluffincolorThe good spirits around the engagement lasted all of a day, after 2 New York Daily News reporters attended Thomas’ yoga class Monday, where they snapped a couple of pictures of the Hilaria Diamond, a square-cut Cartier engagement ring. Baldwin was peevish in tweets Tuesday:

New reporters from the Daily News crashed @hilariathomas yoga class today to take photos and post pictures. their names are … Simone Weichselbaum… And Enid Alvarez… shame on the no-talent trash from the Daily News for invading the privacy of 75 people in a yoga class to take a picture of someone.

While he has a point, I must say, shame on Baldwin for using multiple tweets to send one message. I’ve un-followed people for less.

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