Friday, April 30, 2010

“Tea Party – Still Brewing”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

"The two parties have combined against us to nullify our power by a ‘gentleman's agreement' of non-recognition, no matter how we vote... May God write us down as asses if ever again we are found putting our trust in either the Republican or the Democratic Parties." – Author, Historian, Educator, and Iconoclast W.E.B. DuBois, (1922)

In recent months, the ‘Tea Party’ phenomenon has been a subject of much discourse for pundits and politicians across America.

Some believe that the groundswell has provided a reflection of dark emotions among disaffected voters. Others remain convinced that the uprising came from purely patriotic fervor. A third viewpoint has suggested that this vociferous revolt was not a uniform movement at all – but instead sprang from a varied collection of groups who have found displeasure with the administration of President Obama.

Last year, on October 25th, local residents participated in one of these gatherings at the Geauga County Fairgrounds.

Speaking were several notable personalities including Tim Cox, founder of Get Out Of Our House; Matt Patrick, a veteran radio broadcaster; and Joe ‘The Plumber’ Wurzelbacher.

Rhetoric criticizing the Democrat leadership had been expected. Yet many speakers also denounced the controversial legacy of George W. Bush.

The event was organized by local entrepreneur and activist Tammy Roesch, of Kingsville.

Since then, Mr. Obama was successful at guiding his healthcare reform initiative through the Congress. This plan has intensified conservative opposition.

Political celebrities like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh have attempted to tap into the energy created by ‘Tea Party’ demonstrators. Still, their focus has been on reaping benefits for the traditional GOP rather than a non-partisan effort.

But Roesch, a philosophical purist, retained her independent outlook despite these prevailing winds.

“I believe the Parties are so corrupt,” she observed recently, “that a candidate can have the best intentions in the world, but once they are elected to office, because the Party backed them, at some point in time, the Party will remind them, ‘We helped you get elected... now it is your turn to help us...’ At that point, they will either compromise, or be shunned by the Party. As we see in the news everyday... many of them crack and compromise... I have talked with many people who have decided that they are no longer voting for anyone who runs with either Party.”

Her opinions echoed those advanced by G.O.O.O.H. – an organization dedicated to overturning the entire membership of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“My biggest fear… is that the Tea Party movement will allow themselves to be hijacked by the Republican Party.” Roesch continued. “I am afraid that the Republicans are not much different than the Democrats, when it is all said and done, as far as the Parties go. They are corrupt to the core, as well. The ONLY hope the Country has, as I see it, is to break away from both Parties. No matter what good people we elect, if we put them into the corrupt Parties, they will either become contaminated or ostracized. We must think outside of the box! We do not need the Parties! We only need the people!”

Dispensing with the major political powers has long been a dream of those on the outside. But such work could not be accomplished without lots of time and money.
Last year, CBS News reported that there were 237 millionaires in Congress, approximately 44 percent of the officials serving. By contrast, those blessed with such wealth comprise a minimal portion of the general voting population.

Re-election rates in the House and Senate were 94 percent and 83 percent, respectively, for 2008 - according to the Center for Responsive Politics. So while a revolution at the ballot box might have been frequently sought by corruption-weary citizens, it hasn’t yet transpired.

Roesch has reckoned that her own candidacy might help to tip the scales.
“We see only ONE option, and that is for people outside the Parties to get elected. Believe me, this has not been a dream of mine. But, no one else has stepped up to do it, so, I decided I'll have to make a run for it myself!” She intends to battle for the State Representative seat of District 99.

“As each day goes on,” she observed, “the scandals in both parties gets worse and worse everyday. As we get closer to the election in November, I believe more and more people are going to say, ‘There is no way I can vote for these Parties!’ And they will see that I am the logical solution to their dilemma of who to vote for.”
Dissenters have opined that such action would split the vote in November and help guarantee victory for a candidate far from the ‘Tea Party’ environment.

Predictably, Roesch has reached a different conclusion.

“Will this really split the vote?” she asked, pointedly. “ I'm not so sure. I've talked to Republicans and Democrats, and BOTH of them are helping me collect signatures to get on the ballot! And these are people who have been life-long in their Parties... There are good people in both Parties who are just as sick of the corruption, the dishonesty, the lying, higher taxes and bigger government as I am. They are wanting to get behind someone they can believe in.”

In our county, Republican State Senator Tim Grendell has been warmly endorsed by the Geauga Constitutional Council, a group that participated in the 2009 Burton ‘Tea Party’ rally.

Mainstream media outlets have viewed these rebellious activities as monolithic in nature. But the diversity of their purpose remains undeniable. Combined with their opponents’ enthusiasm for President Obama’s ascendancy to the Oval Office, these new traditions represent something very old and valued in America – the power of citizen action.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

“Things I Have Discovered”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: Material in the Icehouse archives typically gets utilized in the composition of regular writing projects. Yet unfinished ideas jotted down along the way are passed over until their presence is too obvious to ignore. So what follows here is a loose collection of notebook entries written on the subject of personal discovery:


1. NEWSPAPERS WILL LIVE FOREVER – Many pundits have prophesied the end of print publications. Yet in the science fiction series ‘Babylon 5’ such journals survived into the futuristic realm of tomorrow. Why? Because creator J. Michael Straczynski sensed that the tangible value of paper-borne offerings would transcend any kind of technological advancement. Experts might not agree with his vision. Yet one can be certain that at least on some level, this tradition will continue.

2. PRETZELS AND MUSTARD ARE A DELECTABLE TREAT – Combine the cheapest twisted pretzel and the most affordable spicy brown mustard and you’ll have a taste concoction worthy of honor. It doesn’t really matter whether you are enjoying top-of-the-line organic goodies or everyday budget fare. These two food elements dependably go hand in hand.

3. USED POLICE CARS ARE COOL – There is something undeniably attractive about having a gently worn cop cruiser in civilian hands. Sort of like taking possession of decommissioned military hardware for a personal collection. Watch the “Blues Brothers’ movie and become a believer!

4. EVERYBODY LOVES A GUITAR – Posing with a plectrum instrument is an activity that captures nearly everyone. Why? It’s a cultural thing for Americans from coast to coast. While many may never have played a guitar, almost everyone can connect with the hipness contained therein.

5. PIZZA ROLLS ROCK – As Totino’s says: “When it comes to food, there is nothing your kids like more than pizza!” That truism makes these chewable nuggets appealing to everyone, regardless of age. Whether stuffed with pepperoni, cheese, or sausage, Pizza Rolls have a hunger-busting power equaled by no other snack.

6. A PLASTIC SHOPPING BAG + A 12-PACK BEER BOTTLE BOX = A HANDY TRASH CAN – I found this simple combination of everyday items by accident, after running out of trash bags. I needed a quick way to collect kitchen refuse, without running to the store. A ‘eureka moment’ occurred when I found that a plastic shopping bag fit perfectly into the cardboard container from a 12-pack of Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

7. DAVIE ALLAN HAD AN ALTER EGO – After writing much about legendary 60’s guitarist Davie Allan, I was surprised to discover that in the same era, a performer named Alan David was also active. He produced psychedelic recordings during the ‘flower power’ era. (Rare bits of work by this artist can be found on the You Tube website.) Mr. David, meet Mr. Allan. Mr. Allan, meet Mr. David!

8. BOLOGNA WORKS AS A FAJITA FILLING – After wishing I had cuts of steak or chicken in the refrigerator for my favorite Mexican dish, I discovered that long strips of this celebrated ‘magic meat’ served just as well. The result was surprisingly flavorful, and easy to prepare.

9. IT’S ALIVE AGAIN, IN THOMPSON– Having written a couple of columns about the long-closed Thompson Market, I was amazed to find that a new owner had actually re-opened the store in March. This food depot was first established in 1880, and is still remembered fondly by generations of local residents.

10. DOGS LOVE MACARONI & CHEESE – Late one evening, while peering at leftovers in the refrigerator, I mused that a stale tub of hamburger macaroni & cheese had been sitting on the bottom shelf for a week. Feeling generous, I spooned it into a dog bowl by the stove. This produced a ferocious reaction from Riley and Quigley, my Black Lab and Pomeranian duo. The neglected meal vanished in mere seconds! Much tail wagging followed.

11. YOU TUBE, REVISITED – Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, many of us used to enjoy listening to music while watching vinyl records spin on our turntables. Now, thanks to the world’s video depot, one can ‘tune in’ and experience the same effect. Literally thousands of clips are now available that provide the moving image of a 45 rpm single rotating under a traditional record stylus. This high-tech fad might seem backwards at first – but it perfectly captures a lost part of the ‘baby boom’ era that many still remember.

12. FULL MOON FEVER IS REAL – After a hectic night at work, my exit was illuminated by an eerie lunar orb that glowed tauntingly as I walked outside. The sight made me consider legends that have always equated moon phases with bouts of insanity. While I was pondering, a lone bat flew overhead. Soon afterward, this strange mood intensified as ‘Coast To Coast AM’ echoed from the radio in my truck. The full moon seemed to be in full effect – worth writing about, later. I couldn’t help reflecting on Hunter S. Thompson’s famous observation: “If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up.”

13. EXTREME JUNK MAIL – Like most Americans, I have gotten used to the steady stream of useless ad material that regularly appears in my mailbox. But a recent flyer caught my attention because it was for something radically different from aluminum siding, exercise equipment, or magazine subscriptions. Instead, this new advert offered firearms at discount prices. As the fellows from Monty Python used to say: “And now, for something completely different…”

Postscript: Writing isn’t always a tidy occupation, as proven by the tidbits of prose offered here. But with some effort, even loose ramblings scribbled in a notebook margin may eventually comprise a useful manuscript.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

“The Junkmaster Returns”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Let it be known: junk is good!

Browsing at thrift stores and flea markets used to be a common activity in the Ice household. But in recent years, this routine faded. While pursuing career interests, the necessary resources of time and money evaporated. Unbelievably, my visits to Goodwill and Salvation Army locations became rare.

This awkward detour from normalcy made life less colorful than before.

Yet as the New Year awakened, this old habit began to awaken, at last. While trudging through snow and sleet, I tried to remember being a junkmaster.

Vinyl records? Old books? Beer signs? In yonder days, such items held much appeal.

I needed to reconnect with myself.

Over the last weeks of winter, I visited two or three stores before making a purchase. Then, a nugget of collector’s gold appeared that seemed to call out for attention. And another… and another…

By the time spring arrived, many new vintage vinyl treasures had begun to crowd my office floor:

ZENITH PRESENTS THE FOLK ALL STARS / Various Artists (Columbia, CSP 324) – A compilation of artists popular during the 60’s folk music revival. Included are The Brothers Four; Pete Seeger; The Clancy Brothers; The New Christy Minstrels; The Back Porch Majority.

NEW FRONTIER / The Kingston Trio (Capitol, T 1809) – Well known in the 60’s, this group was both prolific and timely. John Stewart’s liner notes preface the upbeat theme of their music. “Looking back through history, there have been key phrases that have long outlived the men who have said them. They have helped us win battles and have formed thoughts that have influenced countless lives. Horace Greely said ‘Go West, Young Man,’ there was ‘Remember the Alamo’ and ‘Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.’ To me, ‘The New Frontier’ is such a phrase.” The song was a nod to the optimism of John F. Kennedy. Also featured here are compositions such as ‘Greenback Dollar’ and ‘Dogie’s Lament.’

PICK A HIT FEATURING ‘THE WHEELS’ / The String-A-Longs (Warwick, W 2036) – An instrumental collection of popular songs from the period. Heard here are notable tunes like ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ and ‘Torquay.’

CONNIE FRANCIS SINGS ‘NEVER ON SUNDAY’ AND OTHER TITLE SONGS FROM MOTION PICTURES / Connie Francis (MGM, E/SE 3965) – This raven-haired beauty rivaled Annette Funicello as a heartthrob during her era. The liner notes touch on this theme. “When pretty Connie Francis turns her vocal spotlight on the music from great films, it’s an event to really get excited about. And the favorites are all here… well as many as she could fit in one record.”

ITALIAN COMIC DIALOG / Rocco De Russo – Mary Sampieri (Colonial, LP 191) – A collection of funny routines from a gentler era. The cover alone makes this album worth purchasing. It is modernistic with pop art illustrations offered in lime green, salmon, and white.

ROCKERBOX – Chilliwack (Sire, SASD 7511) – A vinyl-borne slice of mid 70’s Rock that still reverberates with meaning. Not well known perhaps, but well liked by genuine students of the genre.

THE COWSILLS PLUS THE LINCOLN PARK ZOO / The Cowsills (Mercury Wing, SRW 16354) – This group was young, fresh-faced and geeky. Listen to ‘Love Theme From Haight Street’ and understand how out of step they really were with the prevailing counterculture rebellion. Liner notes on the record jacket echo this unavoidable perception. “In an age when hippies have the music field under their hard rock spell, who could have guessed that a wholesome, happy singing family from New England would catapult to the top of the top of the Hot 100 list… hear the music of today – vital, alive and electric…”

CLIMAX FEATURING SONNY GERACI (Bell, RR 3506) – Geraci was heroic in Cleveland, even then. This recording provides historic documentation of his talent.

OHANA, KABELAC / The Percussions of Strasbourg (Limelight Mercury, LS 86051) – A strange experimental platter. The sort of vinyl document prized by collectors because of its oddball concept and true obscurity. Liner notes included here offer a mission statement of sorts. “The Percussions bring the fascination and excitement of some 140 different percussive instruments into play on this Grand Prix International du Disque recording. This music is truly unique, as The Percussions is the only ensemble of its kind in the world.”

COME TOGETHER / The Now Generation (Spar, 4806) – An amusing product, with cheesy pop music and faux-realism. But best of all are the liner notes. “We’ve come out of the golden 60’s and into the magic of the 70’s and the magic of the space age that will accompany it. To help bridge the gap, here’s a completely new collection of your favorite hit songs… albums, 8-track tapes and stereo cassettes have become a household word in homes throughout the world.”

20 ORIGINAL HITS OF THE 70’S (TVP Springboard, TVP 1024) – Amazingly, this compilation is not from KTEL. Featured are songs that now comprise everyday listening on MAJIC 105.7 FM, like ‘Don’t Pull Your Love’ by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds.

JUST TURN ME LOOSE / George Maharis (Epic, LN 24037) – This performer is best remembered for appearing in the television series ‘Route 66.’ Here, he demonstrates vocal surprising vocal abilities. The back cover of this LP offers a roster of celebrity endorsements from people like Shelly Berman, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Merv Griffin.

MUSIC FOR BATON DRILLS AND POM POM ROUTINES (Kimbo, KEA 8030) – An insane purchase perhaps, but well worth having for its dated, bland-blue cover. In a nod to 60’s hipness, the album features Henry Mancini’s ‘Pink Panther Theme.’

COUNTRY STYLE / Slabach Sisters Quartet (Zondervan, ZLP 619) – A good-spirited gospel platter by four sisters from Dalton, Ohio – Elsie, Sylvia, Ruthie and Bonnie.

DUSTY IN MEMPHIS / Dusty Springfield (Rhino CD re-release R2 75580) – Best known for featuring ‘Son of A Preacher Man.’ This recording is a must for any collector. This sultry songstress sounds good, even in the digital era.

My junk quest concluded with another long-lost ritual – taking stock of what I’d purchased over a cup of coffee.

Now, only one question remained unanswered: Where was my turntable?

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