Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Bethancourt Burning Benefit Sing

Anyone who's into the folkmusic scene in Arizona knows who Joe Bethancourt is; the rest of you, go websearch until you find his site, and enjoy. Or you can look up my website and follow the links, for we've recorded more than one album together.

Some ten days ago, Joe Bethancourt's house caught fire. Apparently the fire started in the kitchen, went up to the ceiling, and got into the attic. There was a strong wind that night, and it drove the flames the length of the roof. Joe and Cher and their kids escaped, and they hauled out their dogs, cats, instruments, computers, guns, swords and valuables. They did lose their whole kitchen and roof, the family's century-old recipe collection, all of Joe's cowboy hats and a priceless original drawing from FANTASIA by Walt Kelly. Fortunately, Joe's oldest son is a manager for a construction company and the house was fully insured. The insurance will cover the losses and the rebuilding should begin next month.

The problem is where to live and how to pay for it until then.

Joe's numerous friends and fans chipped in and organized a series of benefit concerts, and the first of them was held today, Saturday the 14th, at Fiddler's Dream. Bob Zucker did the announcing, and recorded the whole thing for AMAZ streaming radio.

I'd volunteered, and wound up 11th on the list. So many local folksingers showed up (nearly 30 of us!), from as far off as Tucson, that each of us -- including Joe himself -- was limited to two songs apiece. 'Twas a stellar lineup, if I say so myself. Jim Pipkin led off, I followed Tom Tuerff, and no less than Bill Zorn from the Kingston Trio showed up. My roadie, who manned the dealer's table, noted that there wasn't a weak act in the whole concert; he'd been to mammoth folkmusic festivals in Texas and Colorado, and claimed he hadn't heard such consistent music quality at any of them.

It's clear that Arizona has a clutch of folksingers as good, at least, as any in the country. We need a serious folkmusic festival to showcase them; the annual Phoenix Folk Festival simply isn't big or well-advertised enough.

In any case, between donations and album-sales, Joe's friends and fans raised more than $2000 for him and his family. They'll have a safe place to live until their house is rebuilt.

--Leslie <;)))>< )O(

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Osama and Obama: a Prophecy

So the citizens are celebrating and the media are whooping about the neat assassination of Osama Bin Laden: ding-dong, the sonofabitch is dead -- and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy. Indeed, the Navy Seals did a brilliant job of taking him out. Already, MSNBC is happily giving Obama the credit for "doing what Bush didn't" and "proving that it's a Republican lie that Democrats are soft on defense". In fact, this assassination obviously took months of careful military planning, and all Obama can really take the credit for is having the sense to listen to his generals.

Still, after the killing of Bin Laden and the removal of his body, the brilliance stops. Apparently the body was taken to a nearby Navy vessel, photographed thoroughly, and then -- if you please -- dumped at sea. Now that was just plain idiotic! What the Navy should have done was photograph the body a dozen ways over, invite in photojournalists from around the world to likewise take pictures, take DNA samples and match them -- publicly -- against known Bin Laden samples, left absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind that this absolutely was Bin Laden and he absolutely was dead, and then publicly burned the body to ashes and scattered the ashes at sea. As it is, they left plenty of room for conspiracy theorists, or Islamofascists, to play He Is Still Alive. Stupid!

In fact, such stupidity following such brilliance makes me come up with a nicely paranoid theory of my own; what if it wasn't Bin Laden they got, but his stunt-double? What if Bin Laden had in fact been dead for years, and his followers had hidden the fact while keeping his stand-in handy for propaganda films? That's not unlikely; Bin Laden had a kidney condition which required regular dialysis, and how could he get regular dialysis while hiding in caves in the Khyber Pass or some other hidey-hole in Afghanistan?

As to why the military should go after Bin Laden's stand-in right now, I think that really can be laid at Obama's doorstep. Claiming that Bin Laden is now safely dead -- and 9/11 properly avenged -- he can now fulfill the hopes of the Democrats by declaring the war in Afghanistan officially over and bringing the troops home. Whether he can extend that to bringing the troops back from Iraq is another story, but I expect he'll try. Thus, while proving he's not "soft on defense", he can also claim to be the Peacemaker -- and all in good time for the 2012 elections. I predict he'll do it, and MSNBC (the Liberal equivalent of Fox News) will hype him frantically for it.

And never mind what happens to Afghanistan, or Iraq, once we've pulled the troops out. I predict that Pakistan will quietly take over Afghanistan and Iran will openly attack Iraq -- and, to quote Kipling, the soldiers will have their work to do all over again.

--Leslie <;)))>< )O(