Tom Petty would have turned 70

“I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down”

tompettyI was playing the Favorite songs of favorite artists by J. Eric Smith meme when I came to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2009-2013). Then I realized what would have been Tom’s 70th birthday was coming up.

My renewed appreciation for Petty and Heartbreakers started with Johnny Cash. The band played on JRC’s second American Recording, unchained (1996). Cash sang Petty’s Southern Accents on it. I thought it was a great collection and that the album would be a big crossover hit. Unchained got to about #170 pop, but did better on the country charts.

Petty also sang harmony and played organ on I Won’t Back Down, written by Petty and Jeff Lynne on the Solitary Man album. Tom sang harmony on that title tune, and also on the Merle Haggard song The Running Kind from the Unearthed collection.

Then in June 2007, the two Traveling Wilburys albums, with bonus tracks, were released. I had purchased the originals back in the late 1980s, but someone gave me the reissues. At some point, I had purchased the 1995 box set. I realized anew what truths were contained in the titles. Even the losers DO get lucky sometimes. The waiting IS the hardest part.

20 songs

American Girl – I had a boss who called this American Squirrel. I do not know why.
Gator on the Lawn – this was on the box set
Honey Bee – from the second “solo” album. I like songs about the subject. Diana Ross and the Supremes had a song with the same title.
Even the Losers
Christmas All Over Again – one of the best contemporary – i.e., recorded in the past 50 years – holiday tunes

Don’t Come Around Here No More – a very creepy video
Don’t Do Me Like That
It’s Good To Be King – on the second purported solo album
You Wreck Me – ditto
You Don’t Know How It Feels – ditto

Into the Great Wide Open – “a rebel without a clue”
Walls (Circus)
The Waiting
Change the Locks – a Lucinda Williams song from the She’s The One soundtrack

Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around – Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty; this shows up on several Heartbreakers collections
@$$4013 – a Beck Hansen song from she’s The One
Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty “solo”
End Of The Line – The Traveling Wilburys
I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty “solo”

Tom Petty’s Biographer on the Story He Didn’t Tell A year after Petty’s death: author Warren Zanes shares a tale of loss, memory, and the search for the perfect cup of coffee

The infodemiology of QAnon

An attendee holds signs a sign of the letter “Q” before the start of a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Lewis Center, Ohio, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. Photographer: Maddie McGarvey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

I’ve grown numbingly accustomed to the bizarre, the phony, the dishonest in public discourse. Still, when IMPOTUS retweeted the notion that the Benghazi raid was staged, I shook my head. And what was the presumed rationale? “To cover up a Navy SEAL blood sacrifice.” This literally hurt my head.

“The account… promoting the link also has ties to the QAnon movement, a far-right conspiracy theory that Democrats are running a Satanic pedophile cannibal ring.” Of course, it did.

My buddy Jeff Sharlet wrote in Vanity Fair this month about how QAnon crept into his mind and “turned conspiracy into reality.”

Jeff notes: “What Trump is describing is no more nor less exotic than the popular evangelical concept of spiritual war, the conflict thought to be raging always, around us and within, between believers and ‘principalities’ and ‘powers,’ according to Ephesians, or demons, in the contemporary vernacular.

“QAnon has translated the concept from King James into Trumpish, but Trump is no more reading Q ‘drops’ than undead John-John, JFK Jr., is writing them.”

You DO know that they think the late son of the 35th President is alive? The article in Rolling Stone from July 2019 describes that absurd theory.

Newsweek  reports that scientists are taking aim at the “misinformation pandemic.” But it likely won’t help. “The technology has generally done more to help those who purvey this misinformation than those trying to defend against it,” says Travis Trammell, an active-duty Army lieutenant colonel skilled in the field.

“The explosion of disinformation that has upended American life and now threatens its democratic institutions has given rise to a new branch of science called ‘infodemiology.’ Inspired by epidemiology, the study of how diseases spread through a population, infodemiology seeks to understand how misinformation and conspiracy theories spread like a disease through a free-wheeling democracy like America’s, with the ultimate goal of understanding how to stem its spread.”


How do you stem its spread when IMPOTUS, on national television, sidesteps the question about QAnon? First, he says that he doesn’t know about them. This is unlikely, “particularly because the FBI labeled the movement as a domestic threat more than a year ago.”

Then he asserted, “Let me just tell you what I do hear about it is they are very strongly against pedophilia and I agree with that… And I agree with it very strongly.” (N.b.: we’re all against it.) QAnon supporters embraced his support.

In the past couple of years, the Guardian reports that “kidnappings, car chases and a murder appear to have been fueled by belief in a fictional narrative.”

In fact, QAnon is a convoluted conspiracy theory. “The heart of it asserts that… the anonymous ‘Q’ has taken to the fringe internet message boards of 4chan and 8chan to leak intelligence about Trump’s top-secret war with a cabal of criminals run by politicians like Hillary Clinton and the Hollywood elite. There is no evidence for these claims.”

Hear, if you can stand it, how some people get sucked into QAnon.

Did I mention the 2020 Congressional candidates who appear to be true believers? And at least one of them will make it.

It’s difficult to dissuade someone of a lie when they are convinced there MUST be “something to it.” QAnon is one more reason I fret about America in 2020.

My sports calendar is off-kilter

Baseball of the 1960s and ’70s

Bob Gibson.imageRecently, I realized that the shifting or cancellation of certain sporting events in 2020 has thrown my biorhythms off-kilter. And I don’t even have to particularly care about the events to be affected.

March Madness means all those ads on CBS, the familiar theme music, and the beginning of spring. But I didn’t hear it because the tournament was canceled. In tennis, I know the 4th of July is coming because Wimbledon has started. Nope, canceled.

The Kentucky Derby, and Free Comic Book Day, were both on the first Saturday in May. The horse race was pushed back to September 5? And the other Triple Crown traces changed not only the dates but the race lengths.

COVID has affected how I watch sports. I remember looking at the standings in Major League Baseball early in the truncated season. Some teams had played about a dozen games. The St. Louis Cardinals, though, were only 2-3, because either they or their opponents tested positive.

Usually, I start paying attention to MLB in September, when it started in early April. But I never saw a single game to its completion because the season began in July. Yet I remember how much I love the symmetry and simplicity of baseball.

Three deaths

I was reminded of this when I noted the death of three Hall of Fame players in October 2020. My team when I grew up was the New York Yankees.  Whitey Ford pitched for them from before when I was born until 1967 and for no other team. He was their best pitcher.

1961 was his finest year. He won the Cy Young award. But he also had the most wins with 25, the best win-loss percentage at .864, and pitched more innings, 263, than anyone in the league.

When the Yankees began their decline in the mid-1960s, other teams came to the fore, including the St. Louis Cardinals. Bob Gibson pitched for no other teams. In fact, in an All-Star Game, he wouldn’t even shake his catcher’s hand because the guy played for another team during the season.

There are only two pitching records I can recite without looking. One is Cy Young’s 511 lifetime wins as a pitcher. The other is that, in 1968, Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA. This means that for every nine innings pitched, he only gave up a little over one run. And he threw over 304 innings that year. MLB lowered the mounds the following season to give hitters a fighting chance.  Gibson completed every game he started between 1966 and 1974.

In the early 1970s, the team from Cincinnati, known as the Big Red Machine, came to the fore. One of the smallest players, Joe Morgan, was one of the best. Traded from the Houston Astros for the 1972 season, he did almost everything to win.

Morgan led the league in on-base percentage four times, often aided by the base on balls. Yet in 1975., one of two years in a row he was league MVP, he was 4th in batting average and 1st in base-stealing success. He received 5 Gold Gloves, all while with the Reds, for his defensive prowess.

This has been a difficult year for the history of Major League Baseball, and each of these players loomed large in my youth and young adulthood.

Nearly favorites: Jethro Tull

Songs from the Wood

Jethro TullOne more interruption of my favorite songs by favorite artists assignment. This to laud J. Eric Smith’s choice of Jethro Tull for 1978-1982. Probably another Top 10 group of mine in the 1970s.

As best I recall, I have four Tull LPs, plus the greatest hits CD. Benefit, Aqualung, and Thick as a Brick came out each year from 1970 to 1972. Then Songs from the Wood, from 1977 that I certainly bought in the cutout bin. So the earlier music was from my college years. Songs from the Wood, which was a surprising success, reflected what felt like a very different time in my life.

I’m going to paraphrase one of Eric’s paragraphs. “There’s also a complicating factor with Thick As A Brick… originally being released as a single 45-minute long song split over two sides of a vinyl platter. While subsequent compilations and reissues have broken those big song cycles down into smaller bits, the chunking and labeling have been inconsistent over the years, so it’s hard to meaningfully cull cuts from the great disc, and [he and I] have chosen not to do so in creating my Top Ten.”

But if I were, it’d probably be this.

Songs, roughly 10-1

Aqualung. Eric left this off his Jethro Tull list. I could not if only for my recollection of a late sometimes-friend and I air-guitaring this all over his living room.
Locomotive Breath, #62 when rereleased in 1976.- I love the chugging sound that replicates a train.
The Whistler, #59 in 1977
Hymn 43, #91 in 1971. “Songwriter Ian Anderson described the song as ‘a blues for Jesus, about the gory, glory seekers who use his name as an excuse for a lot of unsavoury things.'”
Mother Goose

Velvet Green. Do I like this because it has “Green” in the title? Of COURSE not.
Bourée. Hey, I’m a sucker for Bach.
Songs from the Wood
Living in the Past, #11 in 1973. I’m also a sucker for 5/4 meter.
Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day – I used to say, WAY too often, the title of this song. Because it feels true, still.

References to Billboard pop charts.

Mini-campaign to raise $ for Wifi expansion at APL

connectivity in Albany

The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library has launched a mini-campaign to raise $8000-$10000 this weekend for Wifi expansion at Albany Public Library. Have you stopped outside an APL branch this year, expecting to use get onto the WiFi?

The FFFAPL of APL is helping to make that WiFi signal available! This is vitally important in this continuing period of COVID-19, with many schools and offices remaining closed.

“The Albany Public Library (APL) is the key provider of broadband for those without a reliable internet connection at home. It will cost approximately $2,000 per branch for hardware and wiring. We aim to raise $8000, or enough for four branches, by Monday, October 19th.”

Information about the campaign may be found here .

This will be the organization’s first TEXT TO GIVE campaign. Please share the message:

Text “WIFI” to 518-547-1005 to donate!

with friends and colleagues tonight and tomorrow. Or send them

the link

to submit payment.