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Sunday, November 06, 2016


Weekend Pre-Election Day Issue

The polls show the race has tightened again for President, which is good news for Republicans like me who really care most that the party maintains majorities in the Senate and the House.  We have no illusions about the presidential race - I would still peg the odds at at least 3-1 that Hillary will win.  Frankly, I don't much care whether she or Trump wins, since I have contempt for both.  My vote, which can't much matter in blue NY, will still go to Gary Johnson.  If the Libertarians exceed certain thresholds (which vary by state), they can obtain matching funds and avoid signature requirements to get on the ballot for 2020. Those seem worthy enough goals to make my vote useful. As for Mr. Johnson's appalling lack of knowledge about world affairs, none of that bothers me.  Gotcha questions from the press, however basic, are not a meaningful measure of success in office.  Being President is not a closed book exam, it's an open book exercise, complete with all the advisers and life lines anyone could want.  

Election night is always fun.  In the early going, watch the returns from New Hampshire and North Carolina. If Trump can't win those two, he's toast.  If he wins those two, then you can turn your attention to Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  If somehow Trump runs the table in those states, he has a clear path to victory.  If Pennsylvania and Florida go to Clinton, he has no path.  As for the Senate, those named states will tell you all you need to know.  The GOP needs Toomey (PA), Rubio (FL), Burr (NC), and Ayotte (NH) to keep the Senate majority, or at least 3 of them need to win.  Of the 4, Toomey is the most likely to lose and Rubio the most likely to win.  You can go from there.  Those will be good indicators of the prospects for Young (IND), Heck (NV), and Johnson (WI).  I think Illinois is a goner.  By the way, Heck would be a pick up if he comes through since that's Reid's seat.  These races are virtually all within the margin of error according to the polls.  I have a decent Bordeaux ready for me to enjoy while watching the returns, and am prepared for a late night, based on the Senate contests.

The other situation of concern to me is the NY State Senate, where the Dems have a legitimate shot at flipping the majority.  This would leave NY under one party rule, which should cement the ultimate decline of that domestic People's Republic.  The key races there are on Long Island, formerly  a GOP bastion which now is very much in play in at least 3 districts.

I always say football/hockey/basketball season doesn't start for me until the World Series is over.  And what a series we had this year.  In fact, the whole post season was riveting.  But now I am faced with the bleak prospect of suffering with the Jets, Knicks, and Islanders, none of whom have given their fans much reason for optimism so far.  I expect to spend a lot of time at  the bridge table and at Birdland this winter.

I have mentioned previously on this blog (maybe six years ago?  It's in the archives) a band I saw at a bar in Houston called Southern Backtones.  They were nice enough to give me their first (eponymous) CD when I asked to buy it.  It's voodoo style rock but I have always loved it and wondered if they had done a follow up. But it was recorded in 2006 so I kind of doubted it.  However, I googled the band and sure enough there was a second CD which, surprisingly I was still able to buy on Amazon.  It was delivered a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say it is also very good. You can hear songs from both albums on i-tunes and decide for yourself whether to buy the songs or the CD's.

Southern Backtones gets off to a Gothic start with the cuts Forever, Dirty and Everything but all three are catchy and fun to listen too.  But things really kick into gear on cut 8 (Talk To Me).  What follows is a short "non-song" on cut 9 which really serves as an effective extended introduction to cut 10 (Here's Looking At You).  Cut 11 is the best on the album, a remix of Everything that is pure classic rock - great guitar work on a faster, spectacular version of the song on cut 3.  Then comes cut 12, a sensational rocker (Make-Up), in short a very satisfying set of music on cuts 8-12.  The core members of the band in 2006 were Hank Schyma, John Griffin and drummer Todd Summer.  All the songs are originals, most written by Schyma.  Various guests appear on most of the cuts.

It turns out that the second CD which I just received, El Camino Peligroso, was really the first, recorded in 1998.  It is very different.  Schyma was the leader, and front man, and Mykel Foster was in the band (he guested on Southern Backtones). But it's David Taylor and Kevin Patterson on drums.  Again the songs are original compositions except for one, an incredible version of a song that was a favorite on the borscht belt of all places, Bei Mir Bist Du Schon.  You really need to hear a Houston group do a rock version of that one.  I wish my father were around to hear it - like everyone else who played the Catskills, he used to sing it in his act.  A lot of the music on this album has elements of the Ventures, an instrumental rock group that guitar lovers thought was cool back in the 1960's.  But it also has some elements of country music, though I would say that the dominant style is rock, played fast and loose and mostly for fun.  Like any new record that's good, I am growing in appreciation of it as I become more familiar with the tunes.

So go to the website, southernbacktones.com, or google them and listen to a few cuts.  Whether this group still performs I have no idea, but there's no reason why their music shouldn't be enjoyed by a wider audience. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I still have two extended trips before year end, one to Las Vegas this month and one to Miami Beach next month.  It will be my first time back to Miami Beach in about 35 years, so I doubt that many of the places I knew back then are still in operation.  I will be checking for web sites on the internet.  If Mike Gordon's is still open, that would be worth a cab ride.     


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