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The One Percent - Born Rich


Today I watched two really great documentaries by Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson empire; The One Percent, and Born Rich. Actually, I watched The One Percent twice, it's that profound. Because of the fallout of the two films, Jamie has been sued and shunned by family, friends, and fellow wealthy alike.

In the film The One Percent, Jamie talks with some of the world's richest people, including the founder of Kinko's, the great-grandson of Oscar Meyer, the grand-daughter of Warren Buffet, Bill Gates' dad, an Italian Baron, the CEO of Forbes Inc., a former U.S secretary of Labor, Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, and a super-rich arms dealer, among others.

In both films, the thesis seems to be how the rich reconcile the increasing gap between themselves and the poor. The usual suspected mechanisms abound. You'll hear of the morality of free enterprise, the struggle to keep wealth in the family, how the rich deal with being admired, and how they really feel about themselves, and others.

Both films are definite eye-openers, and time well spent. I don't know how long these videos will be available on Youtube, but I'll post the links to both respective films' first part.

What We Were Up To This Time Three Years Ago


Same old same old, really. But we filmed it a lot more, for some reason.

I'm Not Joking


Having an autistic brother may make me a tad more sensitive to this issue than most people, and if anyone wanted to use the "genetic mishap" reasoning for all things "brain damage", it would be me. The truth, unfortunately is much more hard to swallow. Along with all the neurological toxins (including fluoride, chlorine, and unfiltered pharmaceuticals) in your tap-water, I would love to see this whole vaccine situation radically re-looked at. It's not a joke, and I am not laughing. You are being lied to by media and government. Do not take this upcoming flu vaccine if you value your life/your mental health. Please don't let your kids get it. Smarter people than I have researched this, and I'll leave it up to you to look into further. Here's a clip of an overqualified Dr. who specializes in the knowledge of brain activity and development, giving his take on vaccination.

He makes a great point a few minutes in about the localized common reaction to vaccines, the red swelling, and goes on to say that this same effect is happening in blood vessels on a smaller scale, in turn causing something almost like a stroke, cutting off oxygen to the brain and thus causing brain damage. And how on earth can you tell if an infant is having a mini-stroke? You CAN'T.

Are you mad yet? No? Good, stay docile and sheepish, go play X-box and grab a beer. I hear Jon & Kate Plus 8 is on soon! Get your DVR ready!

What sort of psychopaths would knowingly allow this to happen? Take a long hard look at the history of your government, then answer that question.

Wise men have rightly said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Has He Lost His Mind Or His Fear?


You decide.

Me, I think we all have stockholm syndrome.

Tribute Bands


When you're young, sometimes you emulate your favorite artists. Nothing wrong with that right? KISS fans dress up and collect the collectibles, Nirvana fans bleach their hair and wear ripped jeans, Brittney Spears' fans buy her perfume, Hanna Montana fans buy her lunch pale, Hip-Hop fans dress like Hip-Hop artists, Heavy Metal fans get tatoos, Screamo fans wear eyeliner - not to mention all the Tony Montana's, Marlon Brando's, Tyler Durden's, and Neo's out there.

I sort of accidentally found myself seeing a tribute band over the weekend, and it stirred up something inside me that I figured I'd write about. Getting inspiration from your favorite artist is one thing, but going so far as to imitate another persons mannerisms is, sort of another thing altogether, don't you think? And to advertise your ability to imitate as something worth bragging about, like it was more valuable than the original, or your own originality? Maybe its just me, but this is straight screwy. People do this all the time, mind you, it's sort of human nature to monkey see - monkey do, so I'm not going to opine in a strong handed mental-spanking manner here, but I do tend to think that on average, people grow out of this behavior as they get older... unless you're a lifer' at comedic impressions.

When it comes to musicians, not growing out of this behavior gets you the label "Tribute Band". There are lots of tribute/cover bands in the world, and one of the more popular Canadian bands to cover is of course, The Tragically Hip. I can't say it better than the members themselves:

" Q. How does The Tragically Hip feel about other bands playing their music? Some bands actually go as far as to dress up and act out similar on-stage personalities. In some ways it must be quite flattering that people enjoy their music that much as to go that far, but sometimes cover-bands just look like they are looking for an easy way to get well-known. Also was the Tragically Hip ever a cover-band. Rumor has it they were a "Doors" cover-band in the early Kingston days.

A. I don't really have a problem with bands covering our material at all. If it's done in moderation it can be flattering. However, I've never been a fan of the tribute band genre at all, let alone those who pin themselves down to doing exclusively Hip material.

When we first started playing in and around Kingston we did a broad spectrum of cover material, a lot of which was really obscure, so that we could re-interpret songs without the risk of getting compared unfavorably to the original. It worked well for us in that, over time, we were able to develop our own style. It also allowed us to slip in our original material under the guise of an obscure Stones B-side and not piss off the promoters. You have to remember that this was 1985/86, back when original material was anathema to the good tavern owners of South-Eastern Ontario.

These days, with the growth of the independent scene and the ever increasing number of great young bands, I can't imagine why anyone would want to stifle their own creativity by playing only one other band's material, our's or anyone else's. If it meant that an original band couldn't get a gig because the local Hip cover band drew more people and sold more beer, that would indeed be tragic. - GS "

I realize there are many opinions when it comes to cover bands and tribute bands. I've played my share of covers, and played in cover bands, so I have my own reservations. I haven't played in a tribute band, and I don't really know how I'd feel if I were in that position, but I do tend to think that Jukeboxes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and I've never been comfortable with being reduced to one. Personally, I'd much rather enjoy writing drum lines for an original hip-hop artist over being a one-trick pony in a tribute band, but that's me. I know some musicians see what they do as just a job. They don't really care what they play, or even if they wrote it - so long as they get the money. To each their own right?

I have had the unfortunate feeling of playing one of my own songs so many times that I feel like I'm playing a cover - I'd like to ask every musician who plays their own material how it is they deal with that feeling. Can an original artist become a tribute band of his/her own material? I'd like to think that the artists I admire don't consider themselves Jukeboxes or Karaoke singers, but who knows.

In the end, when it comes to tribute bands I tend to agree with Gord Sinclair, "I can't imagine why anyone would want to stifle their own creativity by playing only one other band's material, our's or anyone else's. If it meant that an original band couldn't get a gig because the local Hip cover band drew more people and sold more beer, that would indeed be tragic".

Getting promoters, venue owners, weekend rockstars, barflies, bar-stars and "play the hip!" hecklers all on the same page is, of course, another topic altogether.