A few things

I got a few quotes into a University of Maryland news story on the MD-O4 Congressional race. Good times.

If anyone is interested in seeing a budget that would knock Maryland and particularly Baltimore City back to the stone age, check out Mr. Griffith's plan. I do admire him for putting the work and thought to create this document. I disagree with many of his cuts and his plans to privatize public resources, such as public transport and parks departments.

Here are some articles warning against the privatization of public transport. This article from The University of Illinois claims that many of the problems of urban public transport would not be solved by privatization. This isn't due to the efficiency of one option over the other, but instead due to the inherent nature of current urban public transport.
The industry always has been hurt by the problem of "peaking," or the concentration of use during the morning and evening commuting hours. "The more severe the peaking, the more expensive it is to provide personnel and equipment without higher costs per passenger mile," Due wrote. "Peaking produces a high percentage of empty seats, which is noted by critics of the present system as evidence of inefficiency and thus the need for a free market, when actually it is an inherent problem of urban transit."

A single transit authority is better able to manage peaking and overcrowding, the Illinois economist argued, and the rise of "reverse commuting" during peak periods has led to the more efficient use of trains and buses in Chicago, New York and other transit-dependent cities.
That isn't to say that the MTA is a model of efficiency, but it isn't right to think that conditions would improve or even stop declining should the MTA be privatized.

The next article goes into the problems faced in England after they privatized much of their public transport.

Privatization aside, the cuts Mr. Griffith proposes would disproportionately harm the citizens of Baltimore. Privatizing the MTA could indeed lead to more efficient public transport, but that is not a given. What is a given is that prices would rise and certain lines would be removed or adversely affected. When trying to make a profit off of a struggling service, these decisions would seem unavoidable. The same could be said for parks. Mr. Griffiths' elimination of the small business development office, the division of neighborhood revitalization, and the state tobacco cessation programs all directly impact those at the bottom rung of the economic ladder.

There are cuts in Mr. Griffiths' plan that warrant a closer look. It is also worth noting that as a political proposal, this plan has very little that would make it appealing to any Maryland legislator. But once again, Brian was challenged, and he followed through. Making his plan a reality in Maryland would seem to be an impossibility, and for that, I suppose progressives can breathe a sigh of relief.

Drug-Related Deaths: Classification Hides the Truth

I think its a good thing that Baltimore City's Health Department is going to review the city's "drug-related deaths" over the past ten years. The problem is, "drug related deaths" in this case only include those who have died from intoxication.

The problem is being approached from a public health standpoint, which is both refreshing and troubling at the same time. While the consequences of illegal drug abuse are, in many ways, public health issues, the trade in these drugs is encompasses much more. To me, addressing one without addressing the other seems to be a shortsighted, if not ineffective strategy.

I would be very interested in some sort of study investigating if a link between the drug trade/drug addiction and the current violence in Baltimore city. How many of the shootings, stabbings, muggings and burglaries in Baltimore are drug-related? That is the question that City Hall and the Mayor should be asking if they are interested in getting to the bottom of the true effect of illegal drugs in Baltimore City.


Against Me! : A Study in Disappointment

I broke out some of my old(er) against me 7 inches over the holiday break. They were both smaller releases by small labels. At the time, Against Me! was a group of crusty kids (with roots in Towson, MD) touring basements keeping the stinking punk/anarchist tradition alive. They played all acoustic sets. They were inspiring (though it sounds cheesy to say). One of my favorite songs was the acoustic version of "Reinventing Axl Rose":

"Reinventing Axl Rose"

We want a band that plays loud and hard every night
That doesn't care how many people are counted at the door
That would travel one million miles and ask for nothing more than a plate of food and a place to rest
They'd strike chords that cut like a knife
It would mean so much more than t-shirts or a ticket stub
They'd stop at nothing short of a massacre
Everyone would leave with the memory that there was no place else in the world
And this was where they always belonged
We would dance like no one was watching
With one fist in the air
Our arena just basements and bookstores across an underground America
With this fire we could light
Just gimme a scene where the music is free
And the beer is not the life of the party
There's no need to shit talk or impress
'Cause honesty and emotion are not looked down upon
And every promise that's made and bragged
is meant if not kept
We'd do it all because we have to, not because we know why
Beyond a gender, race, and class, we could find what really holds us back
Let's make everybody sing
That they are the beginning and ending of everything
That we all are stronger than everything they taught us that we should fear
Idealistic and possibly unrealistic? Yes. Honest and inspired? For sure.

In the following years Against Me! made a surprising transition. They moved from the small labels and 7 inches to Fat Wreck Chords and then to Sire Records. They ride in a tour bus these days, play rock clubs and music festivals. They are a different band. I believe this in a recent single. I heard it on the Sirius "PUNK" channel and had to turn it off after one chorus.

"Unprotected Sex With Multiple Partners"

Everyone's a critic, but hey they really respect your talent.
Have your manager call my manager, and we'll make records together.
At this level of success in entertainment, there are certain connotations.
It's a "you give we take" relation.
No the kids wouldn't understand it.
Come on now, how long do think this is really gonna last?
How long can you hold their attention before they move on to the next band?
On the inside.
On the inside.
On the inside.
Do you wanna know how it feels on the inside?
On the inside.
On the inside.
On the inside.
Do you wanna know how it feels on the inside?

Coordinate the marketing, label, publicity, touring.
Consult on, timing and presentation.
Go ahead put this in context.
It's 3 points on production, 15% to management,
10% to the agent, 5% to legal representation.
We call it our insurance plan to stretch the inevitable as far as we can.
Gotta make your money while you got the chance,
do whatever it takes to sell it.

On the inside.
On the inside.
On the inside.
Do you wanna know how it feels on the inside?
On the inside.
On the inside.
On the inside.
Do you wanna know how it feels on the inside?
(Let's go)
Just how desperate can we be?
Go buy our record and see.
Just how angry can we seem?
Go buy our record and see.
Just how fucked up can it get?
Go buy our record and see.
Just how much can we bleed?
We're completely irrelevant on LP and compact disc.

On the inside.
On the inside.
On the inside.
Do you wanna know how it feels on the inside?
Actually, I don't want to know what its like on the inside. I'm not there, and Against Me! never used to be. The complaining about the ills of fame are hollow. The talk about a loss of relevancy is enough to induce laughter. Against Me! have seen this "dissatisfaction with our major rock career" situation before play out with numerous bands. They also had seen examples of ways to increase distribution and exposure without giving away autonomy (Fugazi and Dischord Records come to mind). Against Me! made their choice and now they are complaining about all the strings attached to that money they are rolling in. I don't feel sorry for them in the least.

Sorry to my readers looking for political content. I had to post this somewhere. And if you are looking for some solid music with a political message, check out Fucked Up and The Hope Conspiracy.



I know that conservative bloggers' have an obsession with the size of liberal genitalia. They love theorizing about it like liberals love blaming Republicans for all the ills of society. I should expect it at every turn, but for some reason it still surprises me. This time it is the wonderful FN whose "testicular fortitude" is being called into question. This is such a classy rhetorical strategy.

On the Same Page

It happens.