Monthly Archives: November 2011

Inexpensive feel-good: donate some dollars to Wikipedia.

You can always correct something you noticed was lacking or needed a touch up after… I figure, I use it, I ought to put some money into it. So I have.

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Greatest hits – my one-essay summary of Led Zeppelin & their 2008 reunion

(In 2008, my friend Ken asked me what I thought about Led Zep. He wrote that several of their records were in his “can’t get any better” pile, which is a great way to put that thought. Nobody really needs another essay on Led Zeppelin, but I enjoyed writing it and perhaps someone will enjoy reading it. That’s all we can ever hope for. Enjoy!)

Led Zep “2” and “4”, or “II” and “IV”, completely blew me out of the water,
and the arrival of any Led Zeppelin record up through “Presence” was A
Major Event in the subculture I lived in. I like “can’t get any
better” as a review bin- I’ll use it and give you credit. I enjoyed
“I” but only really liked “Immigrant Song” on “III”. But I liked it a
whole lot! They were the soundtrack of my teenage years. Two icons in
the first four records, and one good, and one fair with touches of

But they started losing it at “Houses of the Holy”. The album wasn’t
bad, me and my friends loved “No Quarter”, but it was not another step
along the path blazed by “II” and “IV”. The end came very quickly. I could
have reduced “Physical Graffiti” AND “Presence” to the greatest high
density single, or perhaps EP, of all time. “Kashmir” and “Achilles
Last Stand” are as good as anything they ever did, but I can’t tell
you the name of, or whistle the tune of, any other song on either
album. Two good songs out of three vinyl records. I enjoy the “Fool
in the rain” song, when it comes on the radio, but its not something
I’d pay money for.

By 1980 it was pretty clear (in my weird mind anyway) that Robert
Plant had been the real musical heart and brains of the outfit. Page
wasn’t so much a guitar god as a matchless producer, songwriting
partner for Plant and a hard, hard, worker, at least in the off stage
sense. On-stage, he was apparently a wreck. I heard “The Song Remains
The Same” years before I saw it, and its simply not in the same
territory as “Live At Leeds”, “The Allman Brothers Live At the Filmore
East”, “Hendrix In The West”, “Jimi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsies”,
the live Stones record they did when Brian Jones was still in the
band, or any of the knockout rock performances (Then Years After,
Santana, The Who, Sly and the Family Stone, etc, etc, etc) showcased
in the Woodstock movie. Page’s playing is distinctive, better than
anything I’ll ever do, contains solid original music and acknowledges
its debut to antecedents like Da Blooze. In spite of that, it always
seems to be calculated, a product, rather than some communion with
whatever immortal muse animates Barry Manilow or the guys in Yes. :^)
Ya know what I mean? Its like David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. Sammy’s
great at what he does, and gives it his all, but there’s a connection
that Dave makes and Sammy doesn’t. For me, anyway.

Some time after 1981 Lori and I saw “The Song Remains The Same” as a
midnight movie (remember those?) and we laughed ourselves silly. The
playing looked as spotty as it sounded (“Remember *laughter*?”), the
fantasy sequences are only worth it as setups for jokes – like one of
you guys made at Bridalveil Falls. Bonham’s thugish fat guys, shotguns
and motorcycles sequence is so completely repulsive that it took me
years to be able to appreciate how good he had been. And he was an
astounding, technical, musician, at least for the first 4 records.

Plant’s solo efforts were medium to good, I liked Big Log and Pledge
Pin at lot, Robbie Blunt was a neat guitar player, and I bought
several of his solo records. Page was playing occasional pearls with
people who lacked his talent and work ethic (Radioactive, other than
his guitar playing, is downright embarrassing, and overall, I LIKE Paul

I was delighted when Page and Plant got back together, because Bonham
had seemed to be a liability, and Jones was adept, playing something
that fit and worked, without ever rising above ‘sideman’ quality. It
can’t have been easy to play bass with the other three, but there
wasn’t anything I heard from him that would cause me to listen to what
he did without them.

That Bonham’s kid turned out to be a good drummer (as did Ringo’s kid)
ought to tell us something, and I’d have gone to the re-union if I
could have had a ticket for $50 or so. I can’t believe it would have
been as good as Van Halen was, on some level, but at this point in
their lives, I bet it was the best Led Zeppelin concert they ever

The New Yorker ran a terrifically positive review about the reunion, but
cautioned that this was making good on another reunion they’d done-
Live Aid?, which sucked swamp-water, big-time. Now they could leave on a
high note. Don’t be attached to the possibility of a tour, and if
there is one, it may not be as good as that one show.

The best point in the review was when the writer noted that “Whole Lot
Of Love” is “a song about f***ing, not about making love.” And no
asterisks either. 30 something year later, respectable magazines can
talk directly about the hard rock of the late 1960s. I can’t wait for
their career retrospective on AC/DC :^)

When “The Song Remains The Same” came out, one of my co-workers and I
had a running joke about winning a radio contest and having Led
Zeppelin come to your house… ie, your parents house. “Mom, this is
Bob. Bob, this is my mom…
…this just isn’t going to work, is it? Why don’t you guys wait in
the limo, I’ll be out in a minute.” Bwahahahahah!

I’d love for them to come around, since Page is presumably no longer
so drunk he can’t stand, and Plant has always seemed worth it. I’m
still up for that $50 ticket, and I’ll take my chances. But I bet the
studio records will always be better. The New Yorker’s review
suggested that Page being able to compose things he couldn’t quite
play live was “one of his charms”.

One disaster at a time – reflections on 9/11/01, after 10 years, 50-odd days.

I ran into an unreconstructed conspiracy fan’s web site while looking for something else. 10 questions that haven’t been answered about 9/11, and some sanctimonious cheering from the sidelines. Its here:

The first response is Sept 13, 2004, so its from the early days.
And the 10 “unanswered” questions are:



Why weren’t Air Force planes sent up to intercept the hijacked planes?
More at:


Why did George Bush go into a meaningless photo op in an elementary school after hearing that an airliner had crashed into the World Trade Center?
More at:


Why did the towers collapse? No steel skyscraper had ever collapsed because of fire….it appears that the towers actually fell due to a controlled demolition rather than fire…
More at:


Don’t forget about this building. Yet another steel skyscraper collapsed from fire that day. None ever, and then three, in one day…. the 57 floors of the building couldn’t have ‘pancaked’ individually and still reached the ground at freefall speed.

More at:


Why won’t the Pentagon release their video footage of this event? The event was perhaps the most bizarre of all. Consider Question #1 again. The plane that supposedly struck the Pentagon was known to have been hijacked for 45 minutes – after two other planes had already been hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center. Yet this plane supposedly flew unchallenged over the most protected airspace in the world, and then crashed into the headquarters of our trillion-dollar military.
More at:


Why was the debris from this plane spread out over eight miles? … Numerous eyewitness accounts suggest the plane was shot down by another, unmarked plane.

More at:; and


Why was the debris from the Pentagon and the World Trade Center destroyed immediately after 9-11? … the steel from the collapsed WTC was immediately shipped to Korea and China, where it was melted down within days…
More at:; and


Who were the big investors who knew 9-11 was about to happen? Although the stock trading on American and United Airlines was up by 1200% the day before 9-11, no public investigations into who profited were undertaken.
More at:; and


Why did Bush block the formation of the 9-11 Commission? …nothing about the 9-11 Commission was independent.

More at:


The people running our country right now – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Libby, Abrams – are all connected to a group called the Project for a New American Century (PNAC)….
More at:

I couldn’t stop myself and replied, thus:

Ten years later, it may finally be sinking in that 9/11/01 was Al Qaeda’s best day ever. None of the conspiracy theories have the legs of Bush, Cheney, etc, willing to bend any excuse into war with Iraq, right out in public. There is plenty of public record to explain what you present as mysteries:

1) No Air Defense? Correct. Two planes on standby without weapons, orders or authorization. There are tapes and transcripts of all the FAA-USAF conversations you care to hear. Astute people had warned, written thrillers and worried in private that terrorists could hijack an airliner and use it as a weapon. “Bin Laden Determined To Attack US” couldn’t get any attention. And the Republican line was that President Clinton’s cruise missile strikes against Al Qaeda was a wag-the-dog move-. Self inflicted blindness.

2) Bush’s reaction? Are you serious? Entirely consistent with his reactions at any other point. After 7 more years of presidency, I’m confident we saw the authentic, incurious, unprepared President George W. Bush in that classroom.

3) Twin towers brought down by some other agency. Bullshit. Fires weakened the structure, weight did the rest. Once one floor had pancaked, the weight of the multiple floors above the fire was going all the way down and nothing could stop it. The top floors are pretty intact as they disappear into the dust cloud, and there’s nothing left when the dust clears. After essentially a free fall for over 500 feet, what size chunk would you expect?

4) Bullshit. A pancaking building is going to be in free fall after a very few stories go- the dynamic load is gigantic compared to the strength of the building.

5) Sorry, video coverage of the whole country isn’t as good as in a Tom Clancey or Robert Ludlum novel. Watch the video of an F-4 Phantom sledded into a concrete block some time. Much denser and stronger than any airliner, it just turns into crap and flies off in little pieces, inch by inch, as it comes up to the block. That’s where the plane went. Full throttle into a building. The fuselage is a hollow aluminum tube filled with plastic, people, chairs and luggage. All the rest is sheet aluminum, fiberglass or carbon fiber. The only solid bits are the high pressure core of the engines and the landing gear legs.

6) Pieces which may have come off Flight 93 were found some distance from the crash site. Not big pieces. Not 8 miles, that’s an exaggeration of the 6ish-mile road distance, not straight-line, between a general area in which debris was reported and the crater. We don’t know what the flight path of 93 was in its last seconds, what forces it was subject to. At 500mph, a 757 would cover 8.25 miles every minute, the mile or two between debris on the path and the crater were covered in the last 15 seconds of the flight.
Name one “eyewitness” who saw an unmarked plane. Describe the plane. How would they know a plane at several thousand feed was ‘marked’ or ‘unmarked’? Ever been to an airshow? Seen a modern, marked military plane flying? Could you swear to what the markings were?

7) This is simply not true. Debris from the World Trade Center site went to a specific dump where detectives from the New York City Police Department did indeed search for human remains and any other clue to what had happened and who had been killed. They have been interviewed. There is film of them working. They are one reason so many of those killed were positively identified. Over 2000 US service persons are still “missing” from the Korean war. Over 70,000 are still “missing” from WWII. The serious fire was in far less than 5 1/2 floors of either building, so the fire-damaged material was less than 5% of the total rubble- much less, since the fire consumed office contents and anything remotely flammable.

8) There were people who knew, in addition to the 19 guys who did it, and some may have traded. Its been 10 years, surely someone has done some excel spread sheets showing trading volume, time of day, etc, in the year up to 9/11, and the immediate 24 hours before the first impact. You think Elliot Spitzer would have turned that down if there was a case?

9) Who cares how long it took to form the Warren commission, you don’t believe its report either. C’mon. Bush fought tooth and nail because he’d been asleep at the switch and his chicken hawk pals reflexively assumed they knew more than the civil servants and political appointees from the Clinton administration. Because. And then they ignored the actual bad guys and their funding sources and anything else uncomfortably realistic and went after Iraq. Because.

10) Plenty of evidence, see above, suggests that the publicly known outlines of the 9/11 attacks are about right. We know who did it. We know how. We know why. We know where the money came from. We know something about who helped plan and carry out the attacks.

The ensuing 10 years of “war on terror” and its aftermath should surely have demonstrated how the bad guys were able to get away with it. If that isn’t enough for you, have a look at New Orleans, where the only serious shooting was our own cops shooting civilians. None of what happened within the city limits of New Orleans was about ‘nature’. It was a man-made disaster, composed of neglect, hubris, indifference, political, social, racial, ethnic and class hostility, blah blah blah.

Is there any hidden evidence of incompetence, malfeasance, inflexible and incurious habits of thought, or reckless disregard for our country’s values, history, future, standing or founding principles half as damning as that which the Bush administration did in plain sight? How many naked men, dead, bound in duct tape and sealed in a wooden box, do you have to discover, to know that we’ve gone off the rails? How many billions have to go up in smoke? How many pallets of shrink-wrapped $100 bills cast on the wind?

In the end, one should never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity or foolishness. You want conspiracy? Go look at Wall Street and the recent economic catastrophe. Its there. Everyone knows its there. Some will even get addressed. Someday. Posthumously, maybe.