Music Musings: The Jackson 5 Celebrate 50 Years As Recording Artists

In 2018, they are known to music lovers around the planet.  Their surname is instantly recognized as the most prominent, most prolific and most successful family in the modern music industry.  For multiple generations now, there’s just no parallel to The Jacksons.

Of the original 9 Jackson siblings– Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Michael, Randy and Janet– all have released at least one solo music project, and have produced hundreds of hits.

That family’s legendary recording history began 50 years ago this month.  Here’s more from Jake Austen of The Chicago Reader

By 1967 Steeltown had released several singles without scoring a hit. Keith had seen enough Jackson Five show placards around town to convince him that the group was hardworking—he figured they might be the rare young act that combined talent with discipline. He got the family’s number from a group that studied with the Jacksons’ music teacher, Shirley Cartman (another reasonable claimant in the Jackson Five discovery sweepstakes), called patriarch Joseph Jackson, and was invited to the family’s home for a private performance. Before they’d even played a note Keith saw something that convinced him Michael was extraordinary—something he says he’d never seen before and never saw again. “They were setting up in the living room,” Keith recalls, “and Michael walked over to Tito’s guitar cord, which was stretched between the guitar and amplifier, chest high to Michael, and I seen him flat-footedly jump over that guitar cord . . . not a running jump, flat-footed! I was pretty sold right there.”

[…]

So after school one afternoon in November 1967, Michael, 9, Marlon, 10, Jermaine, 12, Tito, 14, and Jackie, 16, piled into the family Volkswagen with Joseph and rode across the state line to Chicago’s West Englewood neighborhood, parking in front of Sunny Sawyer’s recording studio on West 69th. Today that address is a vacant lot overrun by six-foot weeds, neighbored by the last surviving commercial buildings on the block—a tavern called Mitchell’s that’s attached to Rainbow Food and Liquor and a boarded-up pharmacy. But in the late 60s it was at the heart of a busy business district.

[…]

“The Jacksons were little angels,” Sawyer says, “and real professionals, doing their own stuff.” Joseph had trained Tito on guitar and Jermaine on bass, and young family friend Johnny Jackson (no relation, though Motown would bill him as a cousin) was an excellent drummer. All three play on the recordings, but Keith supplemented Tito and Jermaine with adult musicians, including Richard Brown on rhythm guitar, Freddie Young on lead guitar, and Ray Grimes on bass.

And just like that, the young Jacksons recorded their first ever songs in a marathon session, displaying skills that would soon prove critical to their incredible abilities to produce and record so much music, so fast.  The best result of those sessions, Big Boy, was released as their debut single on January 30th, 1968

Though not an immediate chart success, the single caught on well with local radio in the Chicago area, and was a great seller at the groups shows.  But ultimately, it was a live performance, opening up for Motown act Bobby Taylor, that would finally get the attention of legendary label magnate Berry Gordy, and put them on the world stage.

And so it goes… the start of the Jackson family story in the recording industry.  But in 2018, the family is ready for a whole new era.  Over the holidays, crowds were left stunned by Jaafar Jackson, performing with his father Jermaine and brother Jermajesty.  In the coming years, we can expect big things from him, and lots of other members of this incredible family.

Happy 50th Anniversary to The Jackson 5, and their debut single, Big Boy.

Bargaining CHIP: To Side Step Dreamers, Republicans Hold CHIP Hostage For Government Funding

Wow, they did it.  The Republicans really did it.

The Same Party whose current leader, and President has insulted America’s immigrant communities at every turn…

The Same Party whose Governors, Attorneys General and GOP-dominated State Legislatures sued Former President Obama’s Administration when they tried to provide sensible Deferred Action for young Immigrants and keep families together (remember DAPA, anyone??)…

The Same Party which currently holds the Executive Branch, and majorities in the House and Senate…

Are now hiding behind America’s kids.

No seriously.  What is happening in Washington right now isn’t even pathetic.  They sank below the “pathetic” standard bar a few weeks ago.  It’s just plain shameful now.

They’ll never own up to it, but the Republican leadership in Congress just held out on funding healthcare for America’s kids for months… so they could use it as a ‘bargaining CHIP’ to run around the Dream Act.

This tweet from the Senate Republicans pretty much says it all (with screenshot in case they try to take it down)…

 

Yep you read that right… trying to re-label their mega-mess as the #SchumerShutdown, and hoping the American People’s attention span is short and pathetic enough to buy it.  But thankfully, the internet doesn’t forget.

The ONLY party that has brought any form of immigration legislation to a vote in the last decade? The Democrat-controlled Senate PASSED an Immigration Reform bill in 2013 (which was then ignored by the Republican-controlled House, led by then Speaker John Boehner). Oh, and thanks Senator Schumer for working hard on this bill when you last had the chance.

And in 2010, the House of Representatives, led by Democrat Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, PASSED the Dream Act (which was quickly filibustered by Republicans in the Senate).

And as for the Children’s Health Insurance Program??  Ironically, during the 8 years that Barack Hussein Obama was President our nation’s youngest citizens and their families never had to worry if their healthcare needs would receive funding from THEIR federal government.  The health of our nation’s kids was not up for debate or political .  And mind you, there ain’t no economic crisis going on right now… the national economy is roaring at an unprecedented (and let’s be honest… borderline scary) clip.  But suddenly, Donald Trump comes to office, and the Republicans play a foolish game of delay and deny for MONTHS, pretending like the American People aren’t going to notice.  Like we forgot that CHIP funding actually ran out on September 30th, and yet Republicans JUST NOW want to freak out about it?

#SchumerShutdown?  Really??

Yeah… I’m done.

 

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Texoblogosphere: Week of January 15th

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks a house of cards built by a hyperactive six-year-old is more stable than Donald Trump as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a shot at predicting which female candidates for Congress in Texas have the best shot at getting elected.

SocraticGadfly is still waiting for Lupe Valdez to actually take a political stance.

In a sidebar, he had snarky pieces about Trump’s alleged payoff to Stormy Daniels and what’s new on Gorilla Channel viewing both run with Ken Silverstein’s Washington Babylon.

Neil at All People Have Value discussed the great Houston Democratic Socialists of America endorsed slate for 2018. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Even as larger communities like Houston have welcomed the New Year and largely turned the page on Hurricane Harvey, this is not the case for many other Texas communities. As Texas Leftist shares, Harvey is very much a 2018 reality for coastal towns like Rockport.

===============

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Jim Schutze observes that life as we know it has gone on in Dallas even after tearing down the statue of Robert E. Lee.

The Current documents the brief but impactful life of the #DentonTrumpster.

Leah Binkovitz ponders the Houston region’s transit future.

Better Texas Blog plans to face 2018 with a fierce sense of optimism about what can be accomplished.

Therese Odell reluctantly climbs down into the shithole.

Leif Reigstad rounds up the Texans we lost last year that we’ll miss the most.

Grits for Breakfast points out a problem with life-without-parole sentences.

Michael Li outlines the Texas redistricting case SCOTUS has agreed to hear.

 

TLCQ 2018: Fredrick A. Infortunio

In the Second installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Dr. Fred Infortunio, candidate for the Texas State House, District 130.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

FA:  Fredrick A. Infortunio

 

TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

FA:  I was the Precinct Chair for PCT 926 (2016 and 2017).

 

TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

FA  Government is supposed to help provide for the success, well being, and prosperity of the governed.

My campaign motto is

“For the Good of All Texans”

 

TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

FA:  So many items have been promoted by the incumbent Republicans that it is difficult to know the best place to start.

Here we go:

A.  The philosophy of the Texas legislature and governor’s office has been to cater to the very wealthy business interests under the guise of attracting business to Texas.

This in actuality, this has meant that they have consciously worked against the people in the favor of business concerns. Yes, we all need to work; businesses are where we work.  This being said, the supporting of socially responsible businesses is a priority.

I am approaching this by looking at the TCEQ. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has been crippled in their pay policies and the rules they promulgate to control pollution/polluters.  The TCEQ chronically underpays their employees and has a high turnover; their policies encourage adverse selection of employees.  Their lack of punitive teeth and the legislative pushback allows the polluters to poison Texans.

B. The tax system in the state is horribly regressive; it burdens the poor and the middle class. I have read that Texas has the third worst regressive tax system. I am not sure how much support I will get, but I am looking to impose impact fees on builders (their customers) which can be brought into the ISD or other necessary state coffers.  I saw this system used very effectively in Florida. I lived there from 1986 to 1990.

  • I suggest Imposing a small tax on luxury vehicles (over $50,000 +-)
  • in addition, a small inheritance tax on estates over $10,000,000.
  • I also believe that imposing a (small) tax similar to that in Florida on portfolio high value accounts held by Texans will help the Texas economy.

These tax proposals may not be possible in Texas. The wealthy will get the poor to get out the pitchforks.

 

The ISD tax system is also grossly unfair, it creates a very uneven playing field for the school systems, and it boosts property taxes in the districts.  The pooling of property taxes in the state to Austin and the distribution on a per student basis would serve the school systems.

This may not work but the use of the rainy day fund (ESF) to even out the distribution would be helpful.  Presently our fund is around $10B which brings in an additional $800M per year in interest. Overall, this fund is equal to about 18% of general revenue expenditures.

Other state funds average about 6.5% of expenditures. The size of the fund as it relates to the lack of services provided is grossly unfair.  The education system and the flood control systems, other infrastructure could be improved using a more equitable management of this fund and tax management.

C. The voter ID laws for Texas have been struck down by the Supreme Court, as being repressive for minority voters.

They were originally (falsely) developed to combat voter fraud in Texas.

The original voter fraud was created and implemented by the Texas legislature in their gerrymandering (again struck down by the Supreme Court) of the districts. Again, the Texas Republican controlled legislature, and governor have shown their fraudulent nature in promulgating these laws and resisting any changes. I will work in any way that I can to implement the redrawing of districts to properly represent the people of Texas.

 

TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

FA:  As mentioned above the restructuring of the tax system is one of the keys to improvement of the infrastructure. I know that draining the ESF is counter productive past a certain point but effectively using that money is a good place to start.

A commuter rail system between the major Texas cities will also improve the growth of the state economy.

I am not sure of the utility or pricing of the toll roads; I would like to look at the pricing and growth of the toll road systems.

The impact fees mentioned above will also help take the strain off the tax systems.

 

TL:  Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis.  According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.  Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens.  As a legislator, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open?  

I have not given much thought to the rural healthcare system.  Having said that, I point out that Governor Abbot has turned down $65B for the Texas Medicaid system just to spite President Obama. This hurts all Texans.  I would rely on House colleagues from those districts to propose systems that will help the rural medical problems.  The opposition to Planned Parenthood, I am sure, did not help the situation.

 

TL:  In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act.  This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality.  Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.

FA:  Net neutrality is necessary to the fair distribution of communication services throughout the country.  The opposition to net neutrality is another instance of controlling the money in the country in favor of the aristocracy and against the people. The internet can be considered to be a public utility.

 

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

 

I truly care for the condition and success of the society, of the people.  Everyone’s life improves as the whole boat rises. I am not controlled or beholden to the Republican plutocracy.  I am running for this position because of what the Republicans have done to the citizens of Texas.

I have a broad scope of knowledge and a philosophy which looks to the improvement of the condition of the people.

I am an Chemical and Safety engineer (Certified Safety Professional – retired, with a PE(fl) license).  which allows me to understand the production methods and pollution problems in Texas; I have an excellent understanding and experience with the oil, gas, chemical, , pharmaceutical, utility, and general industries.

Further, I have audited, surveyed, and consulted to over 1,000 businesses in the US.   From my experiences, I have found companies that are excellent, good, bad and ugly. It is the bad and the ugly ones that kill people and destroy the environment. There are a small number of socially irresponsible industries/companies which harm our society.

I hold an MBA-finance which helps me to understand the budgeting and finance problems of Texas, the people, the school systems, and businesses.

Moreover, I am well read holding a  doctorate in business and management with sub specialties in organizational and general culture. I do have a broad scope of knowledge.

 

TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

FA:  I like to hang out with my wife watching television, I study political problems and philosophies, and I work against Trump at every chance I get. I like to shoot my pistols then reload the ammunition (reloading ammunition is very relaxing and requires a great deal of focused concentration).  I like to work around my home; I also like to hang out in my pool listening to music.

 

Thanks to Dr. Infortunio for their responses.

 

In 2018, Harvey Recovery Still A Long Road For Rockport

In the midst of a heightened news cycle, and almost daily scandals in the realm of politics, it’s often tough to remember what all has occurred in the past few weeks, let alone the time span of an entire year.  For most Houstonians,  inundated by historic, unprecedented, unimaginable floods from Hurricane Harvey, those weary days are finally beginning to seem like last year’s event as the city recovers and people try to move on.

But for Houston’s many smaller neighbors on the Texas Gulf Coast, Hurricane Harvey is a daily struggle that is just as present in 2018 as it was a few weeks after the storm.  As Omar Villafranca of CBS News reports from December 26th, it’s a tough start to the new year for residents of Aransas County…

 

Harvey made landfall in Rockport with 150 mile per hour winds and a 13 foot storm surge. Nearly 1,500 area families sought federal housing assistance, but 284 still don’t have permanent housing. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a third of Rockport was so badly damaged, it will be impossible to rebuild.

More than three months later, there is still so much debris, the state is having to use a highway median as a collection point. Rockport Mayor Charles “C.J.” Wax says more than 2 million cubic yards have been collected so far, and that is just on the first pass.

Meanwhile, Wax tells CBS News about 70 percent of the town’s businesses are still closed.

“I’ve got an attraction problem, I’ve got a hotel problem, I’ve got a business problem,” Wax said.

It’s that last set of issues that Mayor C.J. Wax mentions which continues to plague the community. With the local economy of so many small towns built largely around tourism and fishing, recovery from a hurricane is challenging cycle. You can’t open for business without customers, but the customers won’t come if you’re not open.  Even as residents have banded together to clean up and survive, many are still far from the existence they knew before the storm.

As Mike Probst of The Rockport Pilot shares in an editorial, the community moves forward, even if they’ve yet to move on…

Food, shelter and clothing were the critical needs during the first weeks after the storm. Many were stripped of everything. The basics of life became a harsh reality. Everyone was affected at some level. The outpouring of help was constant. Everywhere one turned there was someone handing out supplies or a free meal.

That period is over, but there are still people who are hurting. Some people have done everything in their power to move forward, but it has been hard. Others don’t have the ability to move forward under their current circumstances and are losing hope. And, there are some who are waiting, and expecting government (at any level) to make them whole.

Our local government entities, state government, nor the federal government is going to make anyone whole again.

It’s simply not going to happen.

Every entity has its role, but the process is slow. Mistakes made today can cost local taxpayers millions of dollars down the line.

Hard decisions are being made and many don’t like that, but that’s the reality in which we now live.

Far from the national spotlight that a city like Houston commands, it’s important to remember our neighbors on the ravaged Texas Coast.  And very important that we continue to advocate for government assistance for these communities.  Though these brave Texans are faced with a long road, we know they’re going to not only recover, but come back stronger than ever before.

If you’d like to help, there’s lots of great ways to support the community, from donations to volunteering opportunities, or even planning a trip.  Find more information by visiting the Rockport-Fulton website.

 

Redistricting War: SCOTUS To Hear Texas’ Gerrymandering Case

If there’s one thing Texas seems to do well, that has to be disenfranchise and suppress minority voters.  After the mostly Republican state legislature drew maps that were clearly, undeniably discriminatory from the 2010 census, minority rights groups immediately moved to sue for fairer maps.  Now, for the majority of the decade, the state’s redistricting process has been caught up in court.

As Alexa Ura of the Texas Tribune reports, the Redistricting War now enters year 8 as the Supreme Court finally wades in, this time at the request of Republicans…

Further extending a drawn-out legal battle, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case over whether Texas’ congressional and House district boundaries discriminate against voters of color.

[…]

The Supreme Court’s decision to weigh the state’s appeal will further delay any redrawing efforts even after almost seven years of litigation between state attorneys and voting and minority rights groups that challenged the maps. It’s unclear when the court will schedule oral arguments in the case, which is formally known as Abbott v. Perez.

In ruling against the maps last year, a three-judge panel in San Antonio sided with the voting and minority rights groups who accused Republican lawmakers of discriminating against voters of color, who tend to vote for Democrats, in drawing the maps. The state has denied targeting voters by race and admitted instead to practicing partisan gerrymandering by overtly favoring Republicans in drawing the districts.

The panel specifically flagged two congressional districts and nine House districts in four counties as problematic. But the Supreme Court in September temporarily blocked the lower court rulings — and any efforts to redraw the maps — in two 5-4 decisions as it considered the appeal from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

So in case you missed that, Texas Republicans are only denying blatant gerrymandering based on race, but they’re perfectly fine with blatant gerrymandering based on political party.

But at some point, the buck on this type of behavior has to stop.  Surely the 9 Justices of the Supreme Court are smart enough to see the unfairness of of one neighborhood like Houston’s diverse Museum District being sliced, or cracked between three Congressional Districts (because you know, minorities).  The practice of extreme gerrymandering, in combination with the state’s stringent Voter ID laws, should be more than enough evidence o the wrong that has been done.  Even if the Republicans consider this a win, let’s hope it also presents an opportunity for fairness.

 

TLCQ 2018: Glenn “Grumpy” Williams

In the First installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Glenn “Grumpy” Williams candidate for the Texas State Senate, District 5.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

 

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?
GW:  Glenn “Grumpy” Williams
TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
GW:  no
TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
GW:  Government’s main purpose (on all levels) should be to serve victims. This includes prevention (insuring that individuals do not suffer discrimination from racism, sexism.
homophobia and abuse programs to address elder abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, and abuse/discrimination directed toward minorities of all descriptions)
prosecution of those who abuse or discriminate, elimination of programs that facilitate economic oppression, and compensation for those who have suffered governmental abuse or discrimination.
TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.
GW:  Engage all Texans in meeting needs of abused and neglected children through a series of programs including election of vulnerable citizen commissioner, reversing the disastrous course of privatization of conservatorship function of Department of Family and Protective Services and rewriting DFPS policies to make them friendly to ‘customers’ of the Department. (more fully discussed on my manifesto “Twelve Modest Proposals for the State of Texas, the Greatest State in the Greatest Nation of the Greatest Planet in the Greatest Solar System of the Greatest Solar System of the Greatest Galaxy in the Greatest Universe Known to Man” found on the ‘ Read My Propaganda’ section of my website located at www.WilliamsforSD5.com  proposals 1 and 2,)
Level the playing field so that prosecution of police officers for excessive force does not face unfair and often insurmountable burdens favoring the police officer defendants.  (more fully developed in my manifesto – proposal #4.)
Address the ‘lack of exercise’ epidemic by developing a physical fitness voucher (more fully developed in my manifesto proposal number 6)
TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.
GW:  I would start by implementing the recommendations of the American Society of Civil Engineers, I would reverse the trend toward the building of more toll roads, and examine more fully what the legislature can do to promote public transportation.
TL:  Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis.  According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.  Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens.  As a legislator, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open? 
GW:  A major cause of the crisis in rural health care is the uncompensated costs that hospitals face – we need to address this by expanding Medicare and by restoring rates that were slashed due to a flawed study (Rider 315 in 2015)
On a national level we need to support single payer system
We need to increase prevention efforts (see my manifesto – proposal 3) and deal with the lack of exercise epidemic through a physical fitness voucher (see my manifesto proposal number 6)
TL:  In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act.  This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality.  Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.
GW:  This was a terrible decision which has many negative ramifications. I would support legislation but it needs to be on a federal level. We can not have fifty different sets of rules and regulations addressing the internet.

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

GW:  Being totally devoid of charm and charisma I will allow voters to focus on issues.
Having 41 plus years experience as a lawyer  (with 40 of them being employed in governmental service as CPS attorney, Legal Advisor for Killen and Austin Police Departments and Deputy City in Wichita Falls) I believe I can best demonstrate how various proposals will effect individual Texans.
TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
GW:  Dance!   I do Zumba, Jazzercise, Afro-Brazilian, Hula, etc. (I like to brag that I am usually the best male dancer in these classes but I guess I should admit that I am usually the only male dancer in these classes and that if another guy shows up I am automatically relegated to being the second best male dancer, and if two other guys show up I become the 3rd best male dancer, you get the picture.)
Thanks to Mr. Williams for their support.

A Voice for the Rest of Texas