Mike Huckabee: Assasination Jokester.

You know, I tried to give Mike Huckabee a chance. I’ve found most progressives don’t want to be haters, really.  Why spend all that time focusing on the negative, dude? It’s all good.

Until Friday night’s Assasination Joke.

If by chance you haven’t heard, former Arkansas governor (and failed Repub. prez candidate) Mike Huckabee screwed up pretty good at the NRA Convention in Louisville a few days ago (I love it when that happens.) In the middle of what I assume was another boring, over-paid speech of sanctimonous, self-serving crap, a chair or something fell backstage, making a racket. Rather than being understated and keeping his mouth shut (something that boy just wasn’t born to do) he had to go and get all free-form. He looked back over his shoulder then turned back to the crowd:

 “That was  Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair getting ready for his speech. Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.”

Dead, queasy silence. Even from the fucking NRA. An assasination joke? Here? Are you kidding? Be cool, bro.

I saw the report last Friday night on MSNBC – who for some bad reason, has hired him as an commentator, and was interested when I saw he was scheduled as a a panelist on NBC’s Meet The Press this past Sunday. Would they boot him? Nope. I could barely stop myself from throwing something at the TV. Tim Russert, shame on you! How long did you carry on the group conversation before you mentioned the Assasination Joke?  Six minutes? An eternity? It should have been dealt with out of the gate, right?  But that was only topped (lowered?) by Huckabee’s pouting, self-possesed “explanation”.

It inspired the same feeling of headache and nausea in me that his concession speech at the end of the campaign did a few months ago. He finds a way of tapping my inner-Hunter Thompson. Like I say, I didn’t really want to hate him. He made me. He seemed nice enough on early Daily Show and Colbert Report appearances.  I liked the fact that he dropped all that weight, that was a good idea. I must admit, though, I had to turn away anytime I saw clips of him over-playing the dorky six-string bass w/ his 60’s cover band. The night he bowed out of the race he was so smarmy and full of the icky pleasure of stroking himself in front of a mass audience during that I regret to say I grew to somewhat loathe him. Then the Assasination Joke.

His “explanation” (not really an apology), was that it was merely a gaffe, a dumb thing to say. That he would never want to “create an endangerment moment for any candidate – I don’t care who it is.” He pointed a finger at other Republican mega-gaffes (the popular “he did it too” defense), including bringing up McCain’s “Bomb, Bomb Iran” Greatest Hit, saying he personally “thought it was funny, but alot of people didn’t.” (Bet they loved that in McCain-land. What an idiot. Oh man, I’m ready for the general election.)

Huckabee truly is a senseless idiot, apparently.  He got one thing right, though  – it was dumb. Dumb like Calling-Out-The-Wrong-Name-In-Bed dumb.He jokingly said out loud (Dr. Freud, line one) the ugly subtext of this soon-to-be-campaign, the bitter historical reality of the last 50 years of American politics. For some reason, dynamic, progressive leaders often don’t make it out of their 40’s. For some reason, alot of them get gunned down. We all know the drill. John Kennedy. Malcomb X. Martin Luther King. Bobby Kennedy, John Lennon. All fell off their chairs because somebody pointed a gun at them.

Maybe it’s just the fact that there are more right-wing wackos with guns than there are left-wing wackos with guns. (Huckabee – and that gun-loving NRA crowd know a thing or two about that.) But maybe it’s something more than that, something more than just dumb chance, something more sinister. Who knows?

What we do know is that it’s a real pattern of events. And it’s nothing to make a joke about.

Mike Huckabee, the born-again Assasination jokester. Someone should take that dorky-ass six-string bass away from him if he ever plays another Beatles song.


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Jack Gilfoy, 1938 – 2008.

Jack Gilfoy passed away in his sleep on Saturday night. Jack was, among many things, a fantastic drummer. And bandleader, educator, and studio owner. He was a powerfully swinging jazz and big band drummer who led his own groups, and played for countless others here in Indianapolis and all around the country, including being Henry Mancini’s main drummer for 30 years. He was professor of jazz studies at the IU School of Music here at IUPUI.  In the mid-’70’s, he owned the Bloomington, IN studio where the Gizmos polished early tracks, and a young John Cougar recorded his Mainman-produced LP debut, “Incident On Chestnut Street”. He was a truly tireless champion of Indiana music, and was one of those first-generation pioneers who worked creatively to help build a vibrant music business infrastructure right here in sleepy ‘ol Indiana.

I had the pleasure of both knowing and working with Jack. Being a relative latecomer to jazz, I was a bit intimidated by his reputation in the early days of the Quintet, but one night in 1996, I got up the nerve to introduce myself and book him for a gig at Rick’s Cafe. I was playing five nights a week there at the time, neededd a bigger pool to talent to draw from, and people said, Call Jack, he’s a sweetheart, he loves to play and would be happy to do it. So I called him, introduced myself, and sure enough, he said he’d love to play. Then that day, whoever I had scheduled for bass bagged out on me, and I couldn’t find a sub. Oh well, I guess I’m playing bass. Then I remembered, Oh shit, Jack Gilfoy’s coming tonight! I had played bass a little bit through the years – in some rock bands, in the studio – but jazz bass is a whole ‘nother animal. It’s everything. You gotta swing, you have to have great time, you have to read complicated charts. And for me – do all that while singing….

But Jack was so cool. A giving, listening, aware, egalitarian musician – which isn’t always the case with people blessed with talent and success. It was just three of us – myself, Jack and the wonderful Kevin Anker on piano. I really tried to lock in with Jack – while not trying to seem like I was trying to lock in with him.  While also trying to stay out of Kevin’s way, and sing, and deal with the loud people yelling and blowing smoke in our faces, and occasionally dealing with the ADAMS PARTY YOUR TABLE IS READY – ADAMS PARTY YOUR TABLE IS AVAILABLE shocker that would shriek through the same main speakers mounted up in the ceiling that we were playing through. And then thinking Holy shit, I’m keeping up with Jack Gilfoy !?!

At the end of the set, Jack looks up and says: Hey man, wasn’t this supposed to be a quartet? Oh well, I knew it was coming – where’s the real bass player, dudes? I didn’t sign on to babysit while Junior’s cutting his teeth, all of that. Kevin tells him, ummm, the bass guy bagged out and Tim’s filling in. He looks at me and shrugs.: Wow, it’s fun, it swings – why don’t you just do it like this all the time?

Why not, indeed? I spent the next month reminding myself of the glorious, unlikely fact that Jack Gilfoy didn’t think I sucked.

Our paths continued to cross through the years with various small group gigs. I recorded an early version of the Busselli-Wallerab Jazz Orchestra at the Jazz Kitchen one night, and he played is ass off (as usual) and was kind, cheerful and helpful (as usual) as I struggled with the remote recording. And one night recently when I was stuck for a drummer w/ the Big Band, he stepped for me in a pinch, read the charts cold, and once again, played his ass off.

And, it just so happened, I was playing bass that night.

So, thanks, Jack (and I know I told this you this at least once in person) but it’s little victories like that night at Rick’s that help keep one  moving down the path. Thanks for all the good-hearted inspiration, to myself and so many others (let alone all the gigs you helped by sending your college students out to do a ‘field report’ from a real, live gig.) I’d like to express my heartfelt condolences to Jack’s wife, Sue, and all the family and friends who loved him, and to the Buselli-Wallerab family, who will miss sorely his presence tonight at the Jazz Kitchen. We’ll miss you, Jack.

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At the urging of my frequent friend/collaborator David M. Rheins, I have jumped into the literary e-waters of WordPress.com, a wonderful site (as you can see.) At this point, I must admit I’m a bit unsure about which comes first – the parantheses or the period – when one ends a sentence. (I’m sure someone out there knows). They both look wrong to me at this point, probably a good idea to just not do it.

 I think I’m going to begin by uploading my two, unpublished books of poetry: The Briefest Of Eternal Whiles and Neighborhood Days. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, please visit  davidrheins.wordpress.com for a bracing bit of post-punk, what-the-funk? prose…….


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