The Breakfast Club (Fast and Loud)

And Now For Something Completely Different-

You see, a good writer can write about anything and make it mostly painless and accessible to the non-expert reader.  You need some style and a fair vocabulary, but no special expertise in the subject.  In fact expertise is kind of a handicap because what you are chronicling is a joint voyage of discovery with your partner, the reader, and if you know a lot more about things than they do and suppose some common connection you mostly limit your audience.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgWhich is why I’m proud of my ignorance.

I can read music, but not sight read it (i.e. hear the tune from the notation, I have to listen to it first and then I can say- Aha!  I know what this means).  I can make fart noises into tubes and, provided there are not too many buttons and I don’t have to push them very fast, produce sounds that are arguably recognizable as tunes.

By the time I was in 6th grade I had already advanced to the important position of first seat, third Trumpet where my duties were primarily to ensure that in those parts of pieces where we were actually supposed to be playing I and the rest of my section held our instruments in a fashion that could easily be mistaken by people with bad distance vision as contributing to the group effort without actually audibly detracting from it.

In my Junior High years it was gently suggested I take up the euphonium because, as hopeless as Leonard Falcone pronounced me, I was better at that than Trumpet and in due course I rose to section lead and finally switched to French Horn as a Senior since we were one short in the Mellophone line (Weird French Horn trivia- I no longer remember what exactly that 4th key does and playing French Horn can mess with your heart rhythm, seriously, French Horn players are about 4x more likely than average people to die of heart attacks).

Oh, and we marched.  Field shows in the fall and parades in the spring.  Our great and bitter rivals for state supremacy were the hated and despised East Slime.  Screw the Runball (our Coach didn’t believe in the Pass very much so our offense was run left, run right, run up the middle, and punt) team, those people were in the stands to see us.

This experience (13 years of it) warped me profoundly to the point where I enjoy and am impressed by groups like the Mummers and DCI Bands, and one of my favorite pranks is to take a police whistle and induce a roll off so the band plays in front of my house.

So, fun games you can play with a marching band.  Here’s how you do it with the “Commandant’s Own”.  Remember, these folks are trained combat infantrymen for whom this is only a hobby.

Did you catch that last tune?  It was Stars and Stripes Forever, the National March of the United States composed by the “March King”, John Philip Sousa who was director of the band from 1880 to 1892.  He wrote over 136 marches, most of them entirely forgettable except you hear them all the time, and some Operettas that sound like marches.

In his day he was about the most famous native composer from the U.S. among a European audience that regarded our Art Music as crude and simplistic, even compared to the Russians.  He wrote novels including The Transit of Venus (which was also a march) that is entirely less erotic than the title might suggest. “It was about a group of misogynists called the Alimony Club who, as a way of temporarily escaping the society of women, embark on a sea voyage to observe the transit of Venus. The captain’s niece, however, had stowed away on board and soon won over the men.”  His other best known works are The Fifth String and Pipetown Sandy.

(A) young violinist made a deal with the Devil for a magic violin with five strings. The strings can excite the emotions of Pity, Hope, Love and Joy – the fifth string was of Death and can be played only once before causing the player’s own death. He was unable to win the love of the woman he desired. At a final concert, he played upon the death string.

Pipetown Sandy… included a satirical poem titled “The Feast of the Monkeys”. The poem described “a lavish party attended by variety of animals, however, overshadowed by the King of Beasts, the lion…who allows the muttering guests the privilege of watching him eat the entire feast”. At the end of his gluttony, the lion explained, “Come all rejoice, You’ve seen your monarch dine.”

He was famous and avid trap shooter who helped found the Amateur Trapshooting Association– “Let me say that just about the sweetest music to me is when I call, ‘pull,’ the old gun barks, and the referee in perfect key announces, ‘dead’.”

He (as you might imagine) invented the Sousaphone as a Tuba replacement and you need a very special kind of cheek vibrating fart noise to make it work at all.  The fact that the fiberglass ones sound exactly the same as the much heavier brass ones really says all you need to say about the instrument

What makes a March a March?

Well, first of all is the strict enforcement of the 1 and 3 accents in a bar of common time.  Then you play it twice as fast (cut time) and loud.

I am a member of a community Marching Band that mostly does Fireman’s Parades, but I haven’t played or practiced in years.  My activist brother, the Music Major, is a pretty regular attender and he keeps trying to tempt me into a comeback-

“All you have to do is play fast and loud”, he says.

There are free beers and hotdogs at the end too.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.


Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

This Day in History


Charlie Hebdo suspects and third gunman killed in twin police raids

by Kim Willsher, Jon Henley, Anne Penketh and Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian

Saturday 10 January 2015 02.54 EST

In two ferocious, near simultaneous assaults as dusk fell, heavily armed French elite forces shot dead the two gunmen behind Wednesday’s massacre at Charlie Hebdo and a third member of the terror cell wanted for Thursday’s murder of a young policewoman.

But while all the gunmen’s remaining hostages were freed unharmed, with stories emerging of how some hid in cardboard boxes and refrigerators to evade the attackers, the relief was marred by the news that Amedy Coulibaly, suspected of killing police officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe in Montrouge on Thursday, had shot and killed four shoppers in the Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris that he stormed at about 1pm on Friday.

A wanted notice naming Coulibaly as a suspect in the Montrouge shooting also said police were hunting for a woman, Hayat Boumeddiene, reportedly the gunman’s former girlfriend.

Why Reams of Intelligence Did Not Thwart the Paris Attacks


JAN. 9, 2015

The bloody denouement on Friday of two hostage crises at different ends of a traumatized Paris means attention will now shift to the gaping question facing the French government: How did several jihadists – and possibly a larger cell of co-conspirators – manage to evade surveillance and execute a bold attack despite being well known to the country’s police and intelligence services?

“These guys were known to be bad, and the French had tabs on them for a while,” said the American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid complicating a delicate intelligence matter. “At some point, though, they allocated resources differently. They moved on to other targets.”

One reason for the lapses may be that the number of possible jihadists inside France has continued to expand sharply. France has seen 1,000 to 2,000 of its citizens go to fight in Syria or Iraq, with about 200 returning, and the task of surveillance has grown overwhelming.

Saudi blogger receives first 50 lashes of sentence for ‘insulting Islam’

Associated Press

Saturday 10 January 2015 00.06 EST

Badawi was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He had criticized Saudi Arabia’s powerful clerics on a liberal blog he founded. The blog has since been shut down. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 1m riyals or about $266,600.

Rights activists say Saudi authorities are using Badawi’s case as a warning to others who think to criticise the kingdom’s powerful religious establishment from which the ruling family partly derives its authority.

Despite international pleas for his release, Badawi, a father of three, was brought from prison by bus to the public square on Friday and flogged on the back in front of a crowd that had just finished midday prayers at a nearby mosque. His face was visible and, throughout the flogging, he clenched his eyes and remained silent, said the witness.

Abu Hamza sentenced to life in prison on US terrorism conviction

by Nicky Woolf, The Guardian

Friday 9 January 2015 14.45 EST

Hamza was convicted in May 2014 of 11 terrorism-related charges, including his involvement in the 1998 kidnapping of 16 tourists in Yemen, providing material support to terrorists, and attempting to create a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, in 1999.

In a petition to the judge, lawyers representing Hamza claimed that a sentence without sufficient accommodations for his physical disabilities would be “barbaric”, and could even count as cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth amendment.

But the petition for him to be serve his sentence in a medical facility rather than a maximum security prison was denied by the judge on Friday. He will serve his life sentence – which carries no possibility of parole – at the federal “supermax” facility, ADX (Administrative Maximum Facility) Florence in Colorado.

Dozens Said to Die in Boko Haram Attack

By ADAM NOSSITER, The New York Times

JAN. 9, 2015

Boko Haram has now captured or sacked many of the small towns in Maiduguri’s orbit, and appears to be encircling the city of several million, whose population has swelled with thousands of refugees. It did much the same thing last summer, but confounded expectations by refraining from making a move on the city, northeastern Nigeria’s regional hub.

It is not clear whether the group will do so now. Nor is it known what dominion it exercises over the villages and small towns its fighters have attacked. The governor of Borno State, of which Maiduguri is the bustling capital, said the Islamists have imposed the crudest form of Shariah, or Islamic law, on these places.

The governor, Kashim Shettima, is among those who expect Boko Haram to continue to pressure Maiduguri. “The Boko Haram strategy is to strangulate the city, and make it the capital of their caliphate,” he said in an interview from the Nigerian capital, Abuja. “They have captured all the outlying towns. The Boko Haram is better armed than ever before.”

Reaching Outside C.I.A., Obama Picks Treasury Official to Become Agency’s No. 2

By MARK MAZZETTI, The New York Times

JAN. 9, 2015

President Obama has chosen the Treasury Department official who has directed the effort to cut off funding of the Islamic State and impose economic sanctions on Syria, Russia and Iran to become the C.I.A.’s deputy director, the agency announced on Friday.

In the past, the C.I.A.’s No. 2 job, which does not require Senate confirmation, has often been filled by agency veterans or senior military officers. Mr. Cohen, a lawyer who has no previous C.I.A. experience, will replace Avril D. Haines, who left the C.I.A. to become Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

The selection could be an indication that the White House is wary of elevating a C.I.A. insider who might have played a role in the detention and interrogation program that used torture on Qaeda detainees in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Police release sketch of suspected bomber of NAACP office

by Rory Carroll, The Guardian

Friday 9 January 2015 20.20 EST

Thomas Ravenelle, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, declined to speculate about a motive. He said the case was a “bombing investigation” rather than a hate crime or terrorism. “I’m not going to be naive, I know what the NAACP means to some extremists in this country.”

Earlier this week investigators said they were seeking a balding white male aged around 40 who may be driving a dirty white pickup truck from around 2000 or older which has panelling, a dark-coloured bed liner, open tailgate and a missing or covered licence plate. The sketch released on Friday showed the suspect wearing dark glasses.

Rita Lewis, the outgoing president of the Denver chapter of the NAACP suspected race hatred lay behind the attack, which came amid African American-led protests over police shootings. “My personal opinion is that it’s a hate crime. It’s cowardly. But unfortunately it seems to be the climate in our country right now,” she said.

She continued: “I’ve never seen anything in my lifetime that was this deliberate. This is reminiscent of the 1960s. Personally, I’m shocked that there are still cowards in 2015 who would do something this hateful.”

F.B.I. and Justice Dept. Said to Seek Charges for Petraeus


JAN. 9, 2015

The Justice Department investigation stems from an affair Mr. Petraeus had with Paula Broadwell, an Army Reserve officer who was writing his biography, and focuses on whether he gave her access to his C.I.A. email account and other highly classified information.

F.B.I. agents discovered classified documents on her computer after Mr. Petraeus resigned from the C.I.A. in 2012 when the affair became public.

Mr. Petraeus, a retired four-star general who served as commander of American forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, has said he never provided classified information to Ms. Broadwell, and has indicated to the Justice Department that he has no interest in a plea deal that would spare him an embarrassing trial. A lawyer for Mr. Petraeus, Robert B. Barnett, said Friday he had no comment.

At a news conference shortly after Mr. Petraeus resigned, President Obama said he had no evidence that Mr. Petraeus had disclosed classified information “that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security.”

“We are safer because of the work that Dave Petraeus has done,” Mr. Obama said, referring to his career in government. “And my main hope right now is – is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.”

But investigators concluded that, whether or not the disclosure harmed national security, it amounted to a significant security breach in the office of one of the nation’s most trusted intelligence leaders. They recommended that Mr. Petraeus face charges, saying lower-ranking officials had been prosecuted for far less.

Keystone XL: US House approves oil pipeline again

Associated Press

Friday 9 January 2015 23.19 EST

The pipeline would move tar sands oil from Canada 1,179 miles (1,900km) south to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast. Supporters say it would create jobs and ease American dependence on Middle East oil. Critics argue production of the oil is environmentally harmful and that much of the Canadian crude would be exported with little or no impact on America’s drive to reduce oil imports, which have already been falling because of record US oil production.

The White House veto threat was based partly on the outstanding Nebraska case. Obama said he needed the state court ruling before deciding whether the cross-border pipeline was in the national interest.

A White House spokesman said the court’s decision would have no effect on the president’s plan to veto the bill.

“Regardless of the Nebraska ruling today, the House bill still conflicts with longstanding executive branch procedures regarding the authority of the president and prevents the thorough consideration of complex issues that could bear on US national interests, and if presented to the president, he will veto the bill,” said deputy press secretary Eric Schultz.

Chris Christie interrogated by federal prosecutors over Bridgegate scandal

by Jessica Glenza, The Guardian

Friday 9 January 2015 15.30 EST

Christie’s meeting with prosecutors took months to arrange, according to ABC News, and prosecutors reportedly considered issuing a subpoena for Christie to testify before the grand jury.

The George Washington bridge, between New York and New Jersey, is one of the world’s busiest. When two of three lanes were closed in September 2013, the town was thrown in chaos by the volume of traffic trying to enter the bridge. Some alleged that the closures were a retaliation against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, who refused to endorse Christie during his most recent campaign.

Some of Christie’s most senior staffers were fired as a result of investigations into the closures. One of the most infamous emails released during a state legislative inquiry was from Christie’s former deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly, who before the closures wrote that it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

In December, a New Jersey legislative committee concluded that there was no evidence that Christie knew about lane closings on the bridge. The Christie administration is also being investigated for funnelling money from the Port Authority, a bi-state agency, to repair the Pulaski Skyway, a bridge that is owned by the state.

Mitt Romney ‘considering’ 2016 presidential run despite two previous losses

by Paul Lewis, The Guardian

Friday 9 January 2015 18.08 EST

Romney’s comments to donors – remarks he would almost certainly have expected would be leaked to the press – were first reported by the Wall Street Journal and later confirmed by other outlets. A Romney spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Spencer Zwick, Romney’s former national finance co-chairman, who was at the New York meeting, confirmed to the Washington Post that Romney is considering a 2016 run.

“I believe Mitt Romney is too much of a patriot to sit on the sidelines and concede the presidency to Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren when he knows that he can fix the country,” Zwick said. “He traveled the country in 2014, met with voters, met with citizens, and I think at the end of the day he believes he could actually make a difference.”

Bratton Tells New York Police Officers It’s Time to Get Back to Work

By AL BAKER, The New York Times

JAN. 9, 2015

Mr. Bratton, nonetheless, said he could not characterize the phenomenon as an organized work stoppage. In recent days, he has preferred to wrap the impetus for the declines in a bevy of possibilities: the large-scale protests over police practices last month; the mourning period for two Brooklyn officers fatally shot on Dec. 20; a dip in 911 calls.

“I don’t know what the cause is,” Mr. Bratton said on Friday. “That’s 30,000-some-odd officers; that their motivations might be different for different ones.” He added: “I’m not aware of any formal encouragement by union leadership in this matter.”

Throughout the two weeks, he said, certain platoons and precincts had lower activity than others. He said he would be putting “management attention” on areas that saw the steepest drops, including in transit, housing and highway enforcement. “We have been very carefully identifying where we have issues that would require closer supervision,” he said.



    • BobbyK on January 10, 2015 at 18:11

    Fast and loud

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