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ATWOOD - "A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance"-AVAILABLE
NOW FOR KINDLE (INCLUDING KINDLE COMPUTER APPS) FROM
CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects
the building of America in a trilogy of novels
collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores
the development of the American West through the
lens of public policy, land planning, municipal
development, and governance as it played out in one
of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of
the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious
and cultural traditions that imbued the American
Midwest with a special character that continues to
have a profound effect on American politics to this
day. Book One creates an understanding about
America's cultural foundations that is further
explored in books two and three that further trace
the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one
isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as
an icon in the development of a certain brand of
American character. That's the serious stuff viewed
from high altitude. The story itself gets down and
dirty with the supernatural, which inATWOOD
- A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the
outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the
monumental to the sublime.The
book features the epic poem"The
well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard
Meets Larry McMurtry
I am offering another
novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service.
Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its
sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado,
1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm
equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of
individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and
distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.
It is a ripping good yarn, filled
with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to
pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950,
when the story is set. Richard Padilla
has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of
a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The
whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on
Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little
of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns.
Use this link.
EXPLORE THE KINDLE
If you have not explored the books
available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing
division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You
will find classic literature there, as well as tons
of privately published books of every kind. A lot of
it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published
books are awful, but some are truly classics. You
can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works
for two bucks.
Amazon is the largest,
but far from the only digital publisher. You can
find similar treasure troves atNOOK
Barnes & Noble site),Lulu,
Lady Gaga Number One But No Bullet
Lady Gaga: Barometer in Horse Latitudes
Lady Gaga was back on the
top of the BillboardCharts this week with the release of
her fourth album, Joanne. It was selling at a rate about half as
strong as did her previous LP, which is no doubt a reflection of the
waning interest levels in the public appetite for pop music. In an age
when America is choosing between two cartoon characters to determine who
should become the next President of the United States, the caricature
that is Lady Gaga just doesn't have the legs it once did. Why order a
new clown when clowns are everywhere you look these days?
Joanne is one of Lady Gaga's four birth
certificate names, i.e., Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, and her
return to herself in naming her new album seems of a piece with her
search for an identity. Stefani Germanotta grew up in comfortable
surroundings in Manhattan's Upper East Side. Her parents are both
Internet and telecommunication professionals, and their two-income
family created the kinds of kids that often come out of such
environments, with financial cushioning against the rigors of common
life. Stefani's sister went into fashion design, while Stefani did a
couple years of music training at NYU before dropping out to work in bar
bands. Her bands didn't produce any commercial success, but she did
start writing songs, which brought her to the attention of music
producer Rob Fusari. They became a couple and Fusari came up with the
Lady Gaga name, which was inspired by Queen's "Radio Ga Ga".
Fusari's connections got Gaga signed to Def Jam records, which ended
almost as soon as it began. She returned to the bosom of her family and
spent some time recovering from disappointment by hanging out in the
dance clubs. There she made the acquaintance of an entertainer calling herself "Lady
Starlight", who became Stefani, aka Gaga's, mentor and Stefani
appropriated her name and became "Lady Gaga".
Fusari sent some of the songs he had written with Stefani Gerrmanotta
to Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records, and that
provided the platform for Lady Gaga to become whatever it is she is.
That has continued to change, not so much in a reinvention way ala
Madonna, but in a sort "who am I and what am I doing here" kind've way
ala James B. Stockdale. (You might want to Google that for context.) She
got a job as a staff songwriter at Famous Music Publishing, associated
with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and peddled songs to Britney Spears, New
Kids on the Block, Fergie, and The Pussycat Dolls. You start to see
where this was going, which from my perspective was that it was headed
toward stupid Pop and public pandering.
Gaga met songwriter and producer RedOne, joined the roster of
Cherrytree Records, an Interscope imprint established by producer and
songwriter Martin Kierszenbaum, and started writing with Kierszenbaum.
She was apparently too cool for school, by her description considered
too "racy", "dance-oriented" and "underground" for the mainstream
market. According to her Wikipedia entry, she was defiant, filled with
self-belief: "My name is Lady Gaga, I've been on the music scene for
years, and I'm telling you, this is what's next." None of that was true,
of course, but it created a self-narrative that carried her into a hit
record making career.
Gaga moved to Los Angeles, set up her "Haus of Gaga" - an Andy
Warhol-type creative collective - and recorded her first Lady Gaga
album, The Fame, in 2008. She followed with The Fame Monster,
and later with Born This Way, Artpop, and a duet album with Tony
Bennett. I love Tony Bennett like I loved my grandpa, but recording a
duet album with him is a sure sign that your career has fallen apart. By
2015, Lady Gaga was as much a TV actress (American Horror Story) as she
was a songstress, joking in a self-mocking skit on Saturday Night Live
about her past as a top recording artist.
Certainly a big part of Lady Gaga's career inconsistencies have been
baked in, because she was always an ill-defined cartoon character.
Becoming a cartoon has always been a key aspect of becoming an
entertainment icon. If you can't be caricatured in a recognizable way,
you can't become famous. Lady Gaga does caricaturize well, but the
cartoon that she conveys is mixed up with various forms of public
pander, from championing LBGT outsiders to empowering women, to just
being a set-piece performing artist. It hasn't added up to anything
substantial or even particularly artistic. In her most recent
incarnation, she has dropped the weird-fashion guise in favor of good
old sluttiness, accessible to even her low income fan base. Portraying
sex has been a part of all of her incarnations, which has been
self-pigeon-holing, making her a tacky tribute to Madonna, who didn't
need the help.
Lady Gaga has had "hits", including such forgettable entries as
"Poker Face" and "Bad Romance". The weird thing about her is that she is
really quite talented as a singer. She has real pipes, unfortunately
undermined by execrable taste in music and fashion. She is a kind of
professional fraud, like someone you would hire to portray Marilyn
Monroe at a private party.
To this reviewer, Lady Gaga is the stomach-turning
truth about all that has happened to Pop Music in the 21st Century. It
isn't authentic, or new, or of any substance whatsoever. It is Madonna's
act under a different name, and imitating that is a disheartening
exercise in musical slumming. Still, Lady Gaga is one of the few acts
these days whose products are supported with huge marketing budgets.
Have you noticed all those ads this week for Joanne, the new
album? That's how product gets sold, and enough marketing will guarantee
a certain level of sales, even if all you are peddling is a George
Foreman grill. That's all Lady Gaga is peddling, too, that is, just a
musical appliance, a sonic decoration with some stylized visuals. None
of it is going into the Great American Songbook, or even into our memory
banks, nor is it designed to. It is toss-off, for-now kind of music,
which is all we seem to get these days. Lady Gaga doesn't even seem
fresh, or even very understanding of "the moment". That is truly
disheartening to people like me, who wonder why, culturally, we have
become this thing that Lady Gaga and most of the other 21st Century
artists seem to represent.
Why isn't music important in the way that it used
to be? Or is it that the audiences for music are just getting the
product we expect and, on some level, deserve? After all, the vox populi
gave us Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as presidential candidates. It
may be that we just don't know what we should expect from either our
political or our pop music representatives.
The CCJ at RARWRITER provides a steady stream of news
feeds from a variety of sources. Use this link to visit the
Music News page.
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