Trump’s Pardon of Arpaio Salutes Institutional Racism

Each week under the Trump administration feels like a dog year by its conclusion, with its avalanche of warped misinformation. With such an unconventional figure as Donald Trump, it’s debilitating to witness the weekly bungling this administration manufactures. Seven months in and it gets harder to be surprised, but Trump again managed to leave most scratching their heads with his pardoning of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

In the wake of Charlottesville, with Hurricane Harvey lashing the Texas coast, Trump decided this was the appropriate time to issue his first presidential pardon, and of course it was on a guy like Sheriff Joe, a convicted criminal, racist, and bigot.

I do not understand all the hate Trump has internalized. He is a successful businessman, with all the trappings to enjoy a privileged life, and could act responsibly to help many others less fortunate. Yet at every opportunity his actions and rhetoric harm the less fortunate and enable fringe right groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis.

There wasn’t a better way for Trump to thumb his nose at the Republican establishment, the U.S. Constitution, and the judiciary than by pardoning Arpaio. This is a law enforcement supervisor who publicly defied a 2011 court order to stop racially profiling people, particularly Latinos, based on suspicion of their immigration status, not probable cause. This earned Arpaio a guilty verdict for criminal contempt of court.

Trump has enjoyed a kinship with Sheriff Joe going back to 2011-2012, when both teamed up to push the hateful Birther allegation against President Barack Obama. Trump said in a tweet from July 18, 2012, “Congratulations to @RealSheriffJoe on his successful Cold Case Posse investigation which claims @BarackObama’s ‘birth certificate’ is fake.”

Trump and Arpaio played the Birther card so innocently. They had no proof, but insinuated it would be worth looking into if America’s first black president was illegitimately holding office. The overt nod to the white nationalist crowd was heard loud and clear.

Arpaio came to national prominence from a series of controversial methods used for handling individuals under his incarceration, such as hogtying prisoners, forcing inmates to wear pink underwear, housing people in a tent city in 115 degree heat, and shackling pregnant women while they gave birth.

Arpaio was first elected sheriff in 1992. Between then and his re-election defeat in 2015, Arpaio and his Maricopa County office racked up $142 million in legal fees, settlements and compliance costs for cases, including two wrongful death lawsuits and millions for civil rights and discriminations suits.

A Friday editorial in the Arizona Republic had this to say, “By pardoning Arpaio, Trump made it clear that institutional racism is not just OK with him. It is a goal.”

“That should trouble every American who believes that our duty as a nation is to continue working on behalf of equal justice.”

America has a long and complicated history of racial inequality. We continue to be amidst a struggle over violations of civil rights of minorities by law enforcement, and right-wing conservatives are working diligently to place stumbling blocks intended to suppress people’s ability to vote.

Trump secured the presidency with his talk of banning Muslims and building border walls. This campaign bombast is stubbornly becoming policy behind Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, a big thumbs up going to white supremacists in Charlottesville, and the pardoning of Arpaio.

Who does Donald Trump respect other than his white power buddies, corporate America, and Russia? Apparently those like Arpaio, who embrace Trump’s warped historical vision that somehow America has lost its true heritage and culture. To get that back Trump intends to “Make America White Again.”

I’m sure guys like Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort, who are deeply implicated in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, are encouraged by Arpaio’s pardoning. Loyalty is a big thing to Trump, so long as it serves his betterment, and this was a signal to those that might be called to testify by Mueller that Trump has their backs. But is that the signal, or is this the first in a series of pardons that ultimately is a public confessional to condone and forgive Trump’s own insatiable greed and racist beliefs.

With Trump now attacking members of his own party with regularity, Republicans in growing numbers are signaling they have had enough of this train wreck as no end appears in sight or any decency evidenced in this president.

Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, weighed in recently to offer a damning prediction, saying it is “uncertain that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration.”

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Hurricane Harvey Blasts Texas Coast with Cat-4 Winds & Rain

There is no good day to wake up and see your home city perched in the path of a massive hurricane. It’s a surreal moment. Disasters always happen somewhere else is how folks usually look at these events, until one comes knocking on your door. Harvey is a storm that made news for several days leading up to Friday evening’s landfall, but was buried beneath Trump’s bungled handling of the Charlottesville tragedy and his unhinged rhetoric at a Tuesday rally in Phoenix.

For many along the Texas shoreline and down the Gulf Coast, it wasn’t until Friday morning that the immediacy of Hurricane Harvey became a reality. Residents in the impacted areas awoke Friday morning to find meteorologists on every television channel showing Harvey increasing to a Category 2 hurricane and on a deliberate path to crashing into the area just east of Corpus Christi, Texas.

I experienced that same morning some 12 years ago when I woke up in New Orleans to see Hurricane Katrina had grown into a Cat-5 hurricane and was heading straight for me. It’s an odd moment to flip on CNN and see your town is the lead story, with a big red bull’s-eye on it, and all the talking heads issuing dire warnings to leave.

Those of us in New Orleans were under a mandatory evacuation order, which many in Texas found themselves under yesterday as well. But that’s not as easy to comply with as one might think. The weather tends to not appear threatening earlier in a day before a hurricane hits, which plays into everyone’s decision making. Offices may be open for business. Liberal leave policies are generally in effect, but for hourly employees they don’t get paid if they’re not at work.

It’s an expensive and disruptive endeavor to evacuate. There’s loss of income from being away from work or offices being closed, the travel, gas, hotels and food, especially when entire families are bugging out. What about the pets, are they going in the car too? Then there is the question of where to go. One of the trade-offs for living along the Gulf Coast is knowing storms do happen, and folks will have to evacuate from time-to-time. During active hurricane seasons it’s not uncommon to have evacuation orders issued on multiple occasions. Sometimes those calls are pre-emptive and nothing serious happens, but heeding those calls to reach a safe distance from a possible storm gets price prohibitive.

Families that live in these areas for generations often have standing hurricane reservations at the same hotels for decades. For those that do not, it can be a problem finding a temporary home, and often they must travel some hours to reach areas with vacancies.

Hurricane Harvey looks to be a unique storm from the beginning as it’s predicted to be a multi-day weather event. Usually a hurricane makes a fuss as it reaches landfall, then dissipates as the storm loses access to water on its path inland. Harvey is hovering over SE Texas, where it continues drawing moisture from the Gulf and is dumping historic levels of rainfall.

The intensification of Harvey came quickly Friday as it grew from a Cat-2 to a Cat-4. Hurricane experts describe the difference between a Cat-3, where the roof of a house may blow off, to a Cat-4 that simply takes the house.

Some 8 million people were under hurricane warnings from Harvey’s 145 mph sustained winds, 12-foot storm surge, and up to 40 inches of rain. As it got dark Friday residents could hear the wind, but not see the debris being whipped around or the encroaching water.

A mandatory evacuation was issued for Victoria, but an estimated 60 to 65 percent elected to stay. In the wake of evacuation orders, fire and rescue in Fulton stopped responding to calls to protect the safety of its first responders, as that area was expected to be submerged by morning.

Hurricane Harvey is the first real test for the Trump administration and its disaster relief apparatus. As Harvey approached landfall, and bands of wind and rain lashed Texas coastal communities, Trump chose to utilize the inclement weather as a distraction to release a trio of polarizing decisions that could not get the full critiquing they deserved from the news services due to weather coverage.

Friday again was a hatchet day for Trump, as the fringe alt-right military and intelligence analyst Sebastian Gorka was fired. Gorka served as a deputy assistant to Trump, but many observers questioned what Gorka did other than run his mouth in a conspiratorial fashion. The intention was for Gorka to work on matters of national security, but he was never able to receive the necessary security clearance.

Trump also signed a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Now we wait to see if the service branches actually adopt the changed policy.

Most controversial of the three items from Friday was Trump’s pardoning of former Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Joe is known for his tough stance on illegal immigrants and his curious methods of detaining persons under his incarceration, such as placing them in tent cities, forcing prisoners to wear pink underwear, and compelling men and women to work on chain gangs.

The U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history, and subsequently filed suit against him for unlawful discriminatory police conduct. A federal court found that Arpaio’s office continued to detain persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime had been or was being committed. Arpaio was convicted for contempt of court for this. Sheriff Joe is also known for pushing the flawed idea that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was a forgery to support the birther movement Trump advocated.

It’s nice to see Trump exercised the questionable judgement to waste some of his administration’s time and attention away from disaster preparations to handle these three impertinent issues. I suppose from a purely strategic standpoint Trump was smart enough to bury these controversial moves under the wall-to-wall storm coverage. Still, in the wake of Charlottesville, the Arpaio pardon reeks of appeasement to the white power crowd.

As of this evening Hurricane Harvey has claimed one death in Rockport, Texas, with another 12-14 injured. An estimated 300,000 are without power in the impacted areas.

Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm, in terms of decreased wind speed, but its true destruction may just be beginning. With it stationary over SE Texas, flood warnings are issued for cities including Corpus Christi, Rockport, Victoria, Port Lavaca, Bay City, Houston, Galveston, and on into Lake Charles, LA.

Harvey may only be a tropical storm at this point, but these folks along the Gulf Coast have a long way to go before they can get back to a normal life. Mandatory curfews are in place in several cities, and hundreds of reports are coming in of people price gouging those in need, such as trying to charge $99 for a case of water.

Meteorologists are advising this weather event could last well into next week, if not into the following weekend. Let us all hope the damage is less than anticipated, and people remain safe and sane.

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Bloody Charlottesville

Our knuckle-dragger & chief, Donald Trump, made huge strides last week. I don’t mean in terms of legislative accomplishments. Lord no, that’s laughable. This White House can’t chew gum and walk.

This relates to the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville on Aug. 11-12 that erupted into violence, leaving one woman murdered and two police officers dead. Trump’s contribution to this tragic affair was his reprehensible public display of divisive leadership. Even for Trump this reached a new low, and edged him closer to being forcefully removed from office.

A new poll indicates 4 in 10 Americans now support the impeachment of President Trump, a 10 point jump in the last six months, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. For those not psyched by polls, or who find them subjective, give a look to professional gamblers. When in doubt, those who make a living off predicting winners and losers are an excellent barometer for which way the wind blows. Oddsmakers at Ladbrokes are giving Trump a 48 percent chance of not finishing his first term due to either impeachment or resignation.

Tensions flared in Charlottesville Saturday after a torch-lit march through the campus of the University of Virginia by neo-Nazis, white power, and white nationalist supporters the night before. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and at least 19 people were injured when a car plowed into a crowd of counter protesters gathered to oppose a “Unite the Right” rally of white nationalists and other right-wing hate groups. About three hours later a Virginia State Police helicopter that was assisting with police surveillance crashed near the scene. The two officers onboard were killed.

Trump gave a slippery condemnation that came too late and required numerous redirects from his staff, allowing for planned wiggle room for the president’s KKK and white power buddies. They helped get him elected and are part of his fragile popularity base that sits below 35 percent approval. He can’t come down too hard on these hate groups or they will desert his meager base.

After a vague tweet issued by Trump later Saturday, David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard issued the following response via Twitter, “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

The cover story for this vicious gathering was a protest over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. As the violence roiled armed militia stood their ground on the park’s periphery in menacing fashion. Virginia is an open-carry state. It’s common to see civilians strapped with handguns, but to see military-style assault weapons, like an AR-15, slung over shoulders of grimacing hatemongers sporting pro-Nazi insignias sent a chilling message.

I continue to question why law enforcement didn’t assert themselves on Friday to prevent that disturbing march through UVA’s campus, or prior to the violence erupting Saturday. There is no room for malicious hate groups to be marching through a bastion of learning with chants of “Jews will not replace us,” or “blood and soil,” a key slogan of Nazi ideology that is intertwined with racist and anti-Semitic ideas.

Words such as those are violent. The imagery before any physical confrontation from Friday and Saturday was violent. The raw hatred, seething from these white nationalist marchers Friday evening was evident and threatening, especially on a college campus. Considering the visuals from Friday, it’s beyond me how law enforcement didn’t prepare to make a forceful presence Saturday, and communicate to organizers that any violence would not be tolerated.

It was estimated some 500 white nationalist protesters were in the park Saturday when police declared the gathering an “unlawful assembly” at 11:40 a.m., about 20 minutes before the rally was about to begin. Most of the conflict came as white nationalists and anti-fascist groups crossed paths making their way to the park where the Lee statue is located.

The ensuing melee was not something often seen in America, as both sides came equipped with riot gear. Numerous protesters wore tactical vests, helmets, and were grasping clubs, bats, and plastic shields. Both sides came prepared with canisters of pepper spray, other chemical agents, or threw bottles filled with urine.

The raw anger on display and emboldened attitude of self-righteousness from these white power pukes offered a similar vibe fostered at Trump’s campaign rallies seen throughout 2015-2016. It gave off the impression this sentiment of nativism and white power has a solid foothold in America.

With Trump’s tepid statement of condemnation, and vile double speak about how bad people were on both sides of this clash, this evil was given the air required to survive and thrive. The event and response had all the hallmarks of a Steve Bannon/Stephen Miller production. Here was the White House offering light to Nazis and the KKK for them to step out from the shadows, with a big wink from Trump to David Duke, who was in attendance.

Nice to see Donald Trump and his creepy advisors are really rising to the occasion of being presidential and broadening his message of inclusion to the nation. Who knew we needed to make room in the tent for the Klan.

I must say those red “Make America Great Again” hats sure did look smart atop all those white power boys’ heads, and blended lovely with their black swastikas. The White House must be proud.

“We are determined to take our country back,” Duke said from the rally, calling it a “turning point.” “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

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Friday Lunch Adventure to Mike Linnig’s Seafood

Ever have a restaurant you haven’t dined at before but are positive it will be a fast favorite? It’s weird I know, but sometimes instead of dining at such a location as soon as possible, instead I save it in my back-pocket, like an Ace up my sleeve, to drop at the perfect moment.

That’s the relationship I shared with Mike Linnig’s Famous Seafood Restaurant. This namesake eatery has conducted business since 1925. That doesn’t happen by accident.

Linnig’s isn’t so much a dive as it is a ‘locals favorite’ that gives off that lived-in-look. I can report the giant planks of fried white fish are crisp, golden, and moist, but the location southwest of the city center on Cane Run Road was never in my normal flight pattern so it took years before I finally arrived.

I almost sampled their fish at the Kentucky State Fair, where Mike Linnig’s hosts an expansive eating and entertainment outpost each year, but that many people in a tent atmosphere can produce mixed results on the wrong night. Besides that isn’t how I wanted my first experience to go.

This past Friday just fell out of the blue to become the perfect day to try this seafood favorite. It was Friday noon. The weekend was mere hours away. After stepping outside into the sunlight, the thought came to me that a lunchtime adventure was necessary. Fried fish; really good fried fish, served near the river sounded spot on.

I consulted the Google, and the all-knowing prophet said we could arrive at Mike Linnig’s in 20 minutes. Saddle up boys & girls!

For those in Louisville familiar with an urban setting, be prepared for an outdoor embrace. The restaurant appears more remote than it actually is. Still, this was an unfamiliar journey for me. Twisting roads, hills and valleys, dips and turns, I zipped along until suddenly, out of nowhere, there was Mike Linnig’s staring at me from across the street. Sure enough it sat in a shady grove along the Ohio River.

It had the right feel, like that of a worn antique. The faded storefront was inauspicious. The restaurant gave off the appearance of a humble beginning that grew outward to address its expanding popularity.

After parking in the overflow lot, I walked across the street. The main restaurant has a couple dining areas, one with a skylight that opens up the room, and there is tons of patio dining amongst the giant wood-carved totem poles right of the main entrance.

I opted for inside, by the back windows beneath the glass-enclosed canopy. There I was rewarded a panoramic view of the layered greens from trees and brush buffering the river.

You can feel the passage of time at Linnig’s. Generations of folks were dining together inside. Older adult children were out with one or both of their elderly parents, plenty of veterans were about, and a few motorcycle enthusiasts were relaxing out back.

The menu was simple and one page. The standard fish sandwich is two giant planks of fish, two squares of white bread, a side, and a piece of Jalapeño Corn Bread for like $10. It’s a whole bunch of food. Do not miss out on the Jalapeño Corn Bread. That stuff will change your life.

I ordered a cup of the house special Turtle Soup to start. The rich, dense color is matched by each spoonful of lasting flavor. A few splashes of Louisiana hot sauce did it right, and paired it impressively with the Jalapeño Corn Bread.

Do yourself a favor and order an in-house mixed Arnold Palmer (sweet iced tea + lemonade) to wash down the meal. It’s sublime.

Other menu items include fresh peel-and-eat Boiled Shrimp by the quarter, half and full pound to start, Whole Catfish, Alaskan Snow-Crab Legs, all manner of Fried Seafood, Pan-Fried Oysters, Frog Legs, Alligator, and enormous stacks of Linnig’s signature Onion Rings.

There are two eye-catching platters on the menu: The Seafood Order sells for $21.95, and the Seafood Plate registers at $26.45. Both are “A mixture of delicious seafoods…”

Considering the lunch portions on display, it’s difficult to fathom the volume of seafood that must come with either of these. But I’ll tell you this, I mean to find out.

I went with the standard sandwich. From bite one, it was everything a person could want in the perfect fried fish experience. It was enough for three meals honestly. Dip this delectable golden fried treat in Mike Linnig’s own tartar sauce and all is well. I humbly requested from my attentive and awesomely helpful server another order of the Jalapeño Corn Bread to-go. I’m going back soon just for the corn bread and Arnold Palmer.

In reader polls from the Courier-Journal, Mike Linnig’s was voted Best Seafood Restaurant; Best Fish Sandwich; and Best Onion Rings.

Find the right day, make the time, and take an adventure over to Mike Linnig’s Famous Seafood Restaurant. They’re dishing up hearty portions of golden seafood at family prices.

MIKE LINNIG’S RESTAURANT | 9308 Cane Run Road | Louisville, KY | 502.937.9888

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Tumultuous Week in TrumpTown

The esteemed fearless leader of these United States, our Cheeto Mussolini, had quite the week last week. From losing the vote on “Repeal & Replace,” to lying about the Boy Scouts, to weighing in with ‘fatherly wisdom’ on Don Jr.’s Russian cover-up story. Daddy Trump cut a swath of destruction through the White House.

The Republican failure to pass health reform was especially embarrassing. I wonder if it even registers in TrumpTown that perhaps if the Orange-One had not denigrated the brave military service of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), he wouldn’t have so enthusiastically cast the decisive “NO” vote.

Seven-plus years of Republicans whining about repeal and replace. Seven years of how their plan would cover more people at a lower cost and they had nothing prepared. It was supposed to be easy Republicans said. You would think at least one of them might have etched some ideas down on the back of a napkin.

The Black Death drew higher approval ratings than the Senate Republican health care bill. With $750 billion in cuts to Medicaid and 22 million booted off medical coverage, it leads one to assume Republicans are uninterested in providing health coverage to the old, poor, or infirm.

Those statistics are not going to endear Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) or Sen. Collins (R-ME), so definitely it was politically astute for the president to double down and threaten Lisa Murkowski. That ensured a big “NO” vote.

It’s painful to watch the party of “NO” stumble in the dark while failing to govern with its impotent Republican majority.

You know who really isn’t digging this exposure – Mitch McConnell. The Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky has made a career of staying out of the limelight, sagely working behind the scenes to reach bipartisan passage of measures.

Mitch had no choice but to force members to record their votes as a means to document the fracture in the Republican Party, and demonstrate Trump’s diminishing influence.

Still this wall-to-wall failure had “The Turtle’s” name splashed all over it for weeks. The dysfunction of the Republican Senate wore no clothes. Political polarization and special interest money poisoned the well of compromise.

McConnell as the Republican standard-bearer and chief cheerleader for the “pull it out root and branch” crowd, was made to look old and outside his comfort zone.

No one wants to be the face of this failure. It will linger like the putrid fragrance from a rotting carcass around the necks of Republican leadership and Trump, as their next agenda item of tax reform was placed in peril. Without the draconian budget cuts to Medicaid, Trump doesn’t have the necessary cash to offset his tax cuts for the wealthy.

Complicating all matters continues to be the incessant backdrop of self-inflicted wounds by Trump and his clown posse. Tweeting, leaking and lying. Like drug addicts, they can’t quit, telling lies about the most mundane subjects.

Trump lied on the Boy Scouts; advised law enforcement to rough up suspects; tweeted an about-face on military transgender policy; bankrolled attack ads on Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV); and lampooned U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions via every avenue.

Sure, it was all jokes…good fun, lies and poor judgement. That’s humorous if we were talking about a long Saturday night out on the town, but not when applied to governing the United States.

Let’s not forget Scaramucci. Eleven days brother, we hardly knew ya! He came in as the bagman for the Spicer/Priebus hits, only to earn an execution of his own for burning too bright. That’s Mafia-style justice. Everybody involved gets whacked, loose ends are tied, and no one is left to talk.

Problem is the Trump White House doesn’t know how to shut up. It keeps a secret about as well as those levees kept water out of New Orleans.

The Trumpster is at the root of his administration’s backbiting and infighting that has already led to an impressive body count stacking up outside this White House.

“Gen. John Kelly, come on down! You’re the next contestant on ‘Trump Is Right!'”

“I’ll take ‘Obstruction Of Justice’ for $500 please.”

“Outstanding selection Mr. Chief of Staff. Good luck! What happens when our sitting president knowingly crafts fake news to cover why Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with a slew of Russian government operatives in Trump Tower?

That is correct Mr. Chief of Staff, correct you are, impeachment-and-prosecution!”

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Roger Waters Brings Pink Floyd Catalog ReNewed Life

As a kid that attended high school in the early 1980s, I grew up on a steady diet of “Summer of Love” psychedelia and heavy 70’s acid rock. Guiding my adolescent journey to misadventure was: Hendrix, Joplin, the Stones, Creedence, Neil Young, the Doors, Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Skynyrd, Zeppelin… Those were my poets. They illuminated a path to experimentation and enlightenment down camouflaged alleys, requiring potent elixirs to unlock their elusive locations.

Chief among my cadre of kaleidoscopic cowboys was Pink Floyd. With their spaced out sound, introspection into the human existence, and demonizing of a corrupt ruling class, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright were seekers of the first order. They delved into dark places of the human mind, with only a headlamp (and weighty doses of psychotropic substances) to guide them.

Early career curiosity into sonic manipulation rewarded the British band with its 1973 masterpiece, Dark Side of the Moon. This scored Floyd a No. 1 album in America. That’s no small accomplishment, but unlike really any other disc, it failed to drop off the charts. Week after week grew to months, that then became years. Oddly its popularity wasn’t driven by individual hit records. This was a concept album, five tracks on each side of unending music that segued, flowing seamlessly, designed to reflect the various stages of human life, beginning and ending with the sound of a human heartbeat.

From its release date in March 1973, Dark Side of the Moon remained on the Billboard charts for 741 weeks, from 1973 to 1988. It has now sold an estimated 45-50 million copies worldwide. On the week of May 5, 2006 Dark Side of the Moon achieved a combined total of 1,716 weeks on the Billboard 200 & Pop Catalog charts.

From the conceptualization behind “Dark Side,” to the music, the album artwork, and tributes – this is one of those gateway recordings that continues to be discovered by new generations. It’s multi-layered complexities and soundscape seduce the senses of new audiences, giving it everlasting life. One of the odder myths surrounding “Dark Side” is its  rumored creation as a soundtrack to the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. If the album is started at a precise moment and played together with the movie there are certain coincidental events that transpire in the movie that match up with corresponding lyric content from “Dark Side.” The members of Pink Floyd deny this, but this stuff becomes legend in rock music and does wonders for continued album sales.

As popular as the band had gotten, touring in large venues had made Waters reclusive, and it proved impossible to find these lads out playing live. The band broke up in 1985, seeing Waters go out on his own, as Gilmour, Wright and Mason retained the Pink Floyd name and released A Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987, touring extensively on it through 1990. This was followed by The Division Bell in 1994, and another massive world tour. Meanwhile Waters continued recording and touring on his solo material, but played smaller venues.

The brilliance of Waters was to recognize the ever-present popularity of Dark Side of the Moon. He built a tour around playing “Dark Side” in its entirety, with all the Floyd trappings of stereophonic quality sound, expert musicianship, tripped out graphics and flying pigs. It was successful beyond all expectations, selling out venues from 2006-2008. Piggybacking upon this, Waters put together a full version of The Wall tour and took it across the globe in 2010. As of 2013, Waters’ tour of The Wall was the highest-grossing of all time by a solo artist.

Having seen both the Floyd tours and Waters on his “Dark Side” rendition, it was a no brainer that I was down for catching the Pink Floyd leader in Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center on his current US + THEM tour.

This was only the second stop on the tour, so it wasn’t possible to get a gist of the setlist until a few days before the show. Spontaneity is not something Floyd does live. Due to the effects and video choreography, the setlist for a tour fails to vary. Considering Waters’ philosophical leanings, chances were things would get political.

ROGER WATERS SETLIST | KFC YUM! CENTER | LOUISVILLE, KY | 05.28.17

As darkness enveloped the arena a massive video screen like something from a battleship projected crusty amorphous objects floating slowly past under water. Then the lunatical voices from inside the mind began to chirp in the background, and a pulse started emanating, thumping through the video, beating as the song “Breathe” roared to life.

Optimism was quickly extinguished as the distorted bass lines echoed next for One Of These Days. The accompanying video took viewers through a dimly lit passageway in pristine clarity, as lights flashed on and off, revealing the next step forward. My imagination put me in the place I would least like to be found if abducted by a serial killer. It came to an eery crescendo as the single fuzzed-out lyric was uttered, “One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces.”

ROGER WATERS 2017 LOUISVILLE KY

The remainder of the first set was a mixed bag. There were several tracks from “Dark Side,” four tunes in a row from Waters’ new solo disc, Is This The Life We Really Want?, sandwiched between, Welcome To The Machine and Wish You Were Here. The new material was solid and could be assimilated into the classics that dominated the set.

The political commentary for the evening got started in earnest as the first set closed with Another Brick in the Wall Part 2. Waters hammered home any hidden message linking the concept of isolationism behind The Wall to Donald Trump’s desire for a blockade across the southern United States.

The message of “We Don’t Need No Education” was given a Black Lives Matter-spin, as a group of grade-schoolers from the Baxter Community Center joined Waters on stage. Clad in orange jailhouse jumpsuits, they swayed with their heads bowed until the climax, when they peeled off the jumpsuits and danced freely, revealing t-shirts emblazoned with the word “RESIST.” This word went up in huge letters on the video screen behind the stage and would remain a theme throughout the show.

Coming back to my seat after the intermission sounds of traffic clutter filled the arena. As the lights slowly extinguished, fire-truck and police sirens wailed, as helicopter blades cut through the air and radio transmissions crackled simultaneously through the surround sound. A submarine collision horn signaled the descent of an expandable replica of London’s Battersea Power Station, made famous on the cover of the band’s 1977 concept album Animals, complete with steaming smoke stacks and flashing warning lights.

Mr. Trump’s cult of personality and inflated ego flowed effortlessly into similar behavioral critiques exemplified by Waters on Floyd’s Animals LP, depicting class warfare from 1970s Britain through the roles of combative dogs, the despotic ruthless pigs, and the “mindless and unquestioning herd” of sheep.

After the second set opened with the nearly 20 minute behemoth that is Dogs (amazing!), another track from Animals, Pigs (Three Different Ones) was reimagined as an anti-Trump anthem. With its direct subject matter of a wealthy ruling class feeding on the poor, Trump’s picture was plastered across screens in pastel images with the word “CHARADE” stamped across it.

ROGER WATERS LOUISVILLE KY 2017 AFTER INTERMISSION

Trump’s head was superimposed onto the body of a pig, a little baby Trump was cradled by Vladimir Putin, and a Romanesque statue in Trump’s likeness suffered from the small hands/small penis combo. Meanwhile a giant remote-controlled oink-oink flew around inside the arena, with Trump’s eyes gouged out, bleeding, dollar signs in their place.

Waters does not do subtle.

A powerful moment came when Trump quotes flashed in white against the black screen, one after another. Very minimalist, each left to stand on its own, as the band finished playing in the background. Air was sucked out of the building as viewers inhaled the silence of discomfort. Republicans and Trump supporters in attendance were squirming. Even without audio, I could hear Trump utter these disparaging statements.

Some in the crowd booed. Others got up and left the arena, cursing under their breath. Many sat in stunned silence. It was hard watching this characterization for Trump defenders. It called into question their responsibility for installing this train wreck in office, and the tragic example he offers young people. This was a classic example of frat boys from college who used to party to this music but never noticed the lyrics. Now they are bankers and attorneys who paid big money for the good seats, only to be chased away by an inconvenient truth.

It got worse from there, as visuals of global warming’s impact were telecast in graphic detail. The question of privilege was raised, as the differences of living in the U.S. or Great Britain was contrasted against life in war ravaged nations. A debris field of concrete rubble showed all that remained from what once was a city, and swooping views of a refugee camp forced one to imagine life inside. It was sickening to watch children climb through massive garbage piles in high-def color, crouched in the intense heat, combing through trash for something edible.

This was tough sledding. We all know terrorism and global warming are feeding a humanitarian plight for refugees, but it’s not being addressed. This performance was meant to get attendees out of their comfort zones and feel the immediate devastation. It was successful.

Waters was in superior voice and shape, supported by a nine piece band that ably took command of the Floyd catalog to bring these songs to life. There is no replacing a David Gilmour, and in this instance it took two men to cover his talents. Dave Kilminster nailed numerous Gilmour guitar solos, while folk rocker Jonathan Wilson supplied vocals. Kudos to Joey Waronker for his brilliant percussion work.

This was a visually stunning performance. Waters has matched his Pink Floyd mates by delivering such potent renditions of these iconic songs, and taken a step forward by introducing current political relevance to songs written 40 years ago.

Dates are currently scheduled for the Roger Waters US + THEM tour through the end of October in North America.

Closest Show To KY: Nashville, TN | Bridgestone Arena | Sunday, August 13.

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Food Trucks at Work Picnic Make for Pleasant Wednesday

As the saying goes, there are no free lunches, but at least I didn’t have to pack one for Wednesday. As a small gesture of thanks for the long hours and anxiety recently visited upon my workplace, NTT Data Consulting, Inc. was kind enough to arrange for two food trucks to come by our Preston Highway location in Louisville and feed the peckish staff.

There’s nothing like a big dose of comfort food to calm nerves and ground one to endure the back side of a long week. On tap for the main course was The Kentucky Taco Company, while Sweet-N-Savory Lou provided dessert options.

After a brief town hall celebrating the wonderfulness of our staff’s efforts to achieve certain stated goals, down to the side parking lot I went at 11:15 with my allotted blue and yellow tickets in hand. Two tacos were allowed and I quickly made that call.

Fried chicken is always welcomed, but offer it soaked in buttermilk and hot sauce before frying, nestled on a bed of Mac+Beer Cheese, topped with pickles and smoked ranch tomatillo sauce, all wrapped together in a warm flour tortilla, and I’m your huckleberry.

An obvious second selection was the shredded BBQ Chicken Taco, served over coleslaw, topped with pickles & smoked ranch tomatillo sauce. Another popular offering was the Sloppy Joe Taco, and there was the vegan-friendly BBQ Sweet Potato Taco.

Even though we were deployed in waves to descend upon the purveyors, it was a robust 45 minutes standing on asphalt out in the July sun to get through the line to place an order and pick that sucker up before retreating back inside climate control. I’m happy to report that no one melted.

A couple of us put a solid strategy into play. After placing our entrée orders we visited the dessert cart. At Sweet-N-Savory Lou there were options such as a strawberry and banana smoothie, or various flavors of chilled gelato to choose from, both appealing selections on such a hot day. But the crepes sold themselves at first sight.

Each paper-thin circular pancake was freshly prepared, with a choice of sliced strawberries or bananas to go in the middle, and a drizzle of either white chocolate or Nutella. I had to go with the banana & Nutella. It rocked!

With dessert in hand, it was a mere five minutes later my number was called at The Kentucky Taco Company for pick-up. I must say both tacos were hefty. The BBQ Chicken Taco had a distinct weight when picked up. There was no getting gypped with this baby. The barbecue sauce could have used a slight bit more pop perhaps, but it mixed beautifully with the smoked ranch tomatillo sauce.

The Fried Chicken Taco might not have tipped the scale equally, but it had a denseness. The chicken and tomatillo sauce mixed sublimely with the Mac+Beer Cheese. This meal also came with a side, so I felt obliged to get a serving of the standout Mac+Beer Cheese. It was serious stuff.

All was tasty. Staying awake after such a lunch turned out to be the biggest challenge for the remainder of the afternoon. Many thanks to The Kentucky Taco Company and Sweet-N-Savory Lou for coming to our location, and to NTT for hooking up its stressed out employees.

The Kentucky Taco Company | Twitter or Instagram @KyTaco | 405.459.8226

Sweet-N-Savory Lou | Twitter or Instagram @SweetNSavoryLou | 502.609.7072

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