New Song! It’s about freakin’ time.

We’re sorry we’ve been so slow. We’ll stop it.

Enjoy our new song about escalation in Afghanistan, the changing rationales for it, and the absence of a consensus on what winning really looks like.

The footage is from Brave New Films excellent Rethink Afghanistan series.

What Is It We’re Doing There Again?
[download the mp3]

Do you remember when the bomber first flew over?
With a mission and a target square in its eye
Before they asked for twice as many soldiers
Before we’d have to see 1300 die
When circumstances dip into a downswing
The $, days and the deaths keep ticking up
A laundry list of motives ever growing
The more I hear the less that they’re enough

Do you know what success, it ought to look like in the end
What do you do when the fight, it don’t go nothing like you planned
Tell me what it is we’re doing there again

Victory, it will always prove elusive
With the vagaries of when, why and how
So who can blame us if we’ve grown a bit dismissive
Another day another rationale

Do you know what success, it ought to look like in the end
What do we do with this long list of beginnings without ends
Tell me what it is we’re doing there again

If it still makes sense, here in the present tense
it has to be worth reexamining
The caskets all come home filled with blood and bone
Sacrificed to flimsy reasoning
How many will we send before this is at its end
Tell me what it is we’re doing there again


New Song About the Employee Free Choice Act

This is our first new song in ages. Thanks for sticking with us. We hope the mandolin part was worth the wait.

We wrote “My Heart Belongs to Cleveland” as a response to Republicans in Congress who pledge support for working people but oppose the Employee Free Choice Act.

If card check is good enough to decertify a union, it should be good enough to certify one. When union employees are more likely to have healthcare, pensions and better wages, how anyone can claim to be a friend to the worker while insisting on making the process of joining a union more difficult than breaking away from one is beyond us.

This song is sung from the perspective of one of those opponents telling residents of a hardscrabble town (in this case, Cleveland) that he supports them, while undermining their ability to better their station in life at every turn. Enjoy.

My Heart Belongs to Cleveland
(Mouseover the link, player appears. You know how it goes.)

A tourist’s welcome echoes off the promenade
The well-hid statistics padded down
So as you watch your shrinking ledger
I can try to explain to you
Why it has to be hard to get a union together
When breaking up is so easy to do

But tonight my heart belongs to Cleveland
Never mind the cobwebs and dust
‘Cause I never stopped believing
When your stainless steel turned to rust
And I’ll sell your hopes down to hell
We’ve made this a shell of the beautiful place it once was
My heart belongs to Cleveland
I swear, I swear that it does
I swear, I swear that it does

I’m not much for number, don’t draw me no diagrams
I’m a skyline believer, the rest is detail
So as I stand here at this lectern
I can rave and rhapsodize
As long as I can cast my ballot in secret I can drain your piss filled river dry
And why should I rob you of that right?

So tonight, my heart belongs to Cleveland
Never mind the cobwebs and dust
‘Cause I never stopped believing
When your stainless steel turned to rust
And I’ll sell your dreams down to hell
We’ve made this a shell of the beautiful place that it was
My heart belongs to Cleveland
I swear, I swear that it does
I swear, I swear that it does

Sure fine to meet you, what is it you did again?
I know the last thing you need is to take another hit again
And I’m only pretending like I give a shit again, my friend
So Cleveland if you ever get wise, that’s the end

Tonight my heart belongs to Cleveland
or Pittsburgh or wherever else
I can talk you into believing that you’re better off by yourself
With lies for the unorganized
So pull up hard on your bootstraps and tighten your belts
My heart belongs to Cleveland
So long suckers, I wish you well
I wish you well

New blog where I will write more stuff not related to my band

The Mannequin Shop:

Seats Open in Supreme Court, Smashing Pumpkins

They’ve both lost key members. It’s up to two of Chicago’s finest to replace them. Nearly everyone with an opinion and an internet connection has an idea of who the replacement should be. Yes, the Supreme Court and the Smashing Pumpkins have a lot in common right now.

On the heels of Billy Corgan’s announcement that longtime Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, provider of the steady backbeat to such classics as “Cherub Rock” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” was leaving the band, news broke that David Souter, whose steady, centrist hand was the driving force behind early-nineties landmarks like Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Lee v. Weisman would be leaving the Supreme Court. All right, I’ve taken this joke about as far as I can take it, but both of these events are pretty huge deals if you’re into 90’s alternative rock or the third branch of government.

I remember when David Souter was nominated to the Supreme Court by Bush 41 in 1990, when I was ten years old. Many on both sides were certain that the quiet patrician from New Hampshire would quietly stick a fork in Roe vs. Wade. My mother, actively pro-choice to say the least, wrote a limerick about Souter to share at an event opposing his nomination, and all I remember is that it rhymed his name with “neuter” – I think that was also the occasion where I learned the meaning of the word. Her concern proved unfounded, as Souter ruled with the majority against any slashing of Roe v. Wade when he joined the majority in Casey, dealing abortion opponents a bitter disappointment similar to the one felt by Smashing Pumpkins fans while hearing their misguided 2000 release Machina/Machines of God for the first time.

Suggestions abound for who should fill each seat. Safe consensus choices like Illinois favorite son Dax Nielsen and Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor? Some say the best move is to please the base: former System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan and Chicago labor lawyer/movement progressive Tom Geoghegan would be “red meat” for hard rock nerds and left-leaning Dems. There’s also a rumor of 19 year old Mike Byrne being Chamberlain’s replacement, but some worry this may be Corgan’s Harriet Miers moment. All we can say with certainty is that the chatter will tap on endlessly until the moment these two seats are filled.

The tweenbot adorableness

Here’s an experiment done by a student at my non-alma mater alma mater, NYU. She built a robot that could only move forward and decided to see if strangers would help it circumvent obstacles to get from one corner of Washington Square Park to the other, presumably without buying drugs. It’s very cute. I do think that doing this multiple times with a smiling robot and an expressionless one is the better experiment, however.

Going on a short tour

We’re getting in the van for a little swing up north in a minute.

Tonight (Saturday) the 21st – SF, CA – Bottom of the Hill
Monday the 23rd – Portland, OR – Kelly’s Olympian
Wednesday the 25th – Boise, ID – 28th + Davis

See you soon!

New York Times Hilarious Fail

No Kisses, No Cameras — corrected.

The first Max and the Marginalized song was “No Kisses, No Cameras”, about the ban on photographs at Dover Air Force Base when flag draped coffins were returning from the combat zone. The official line was that it was out of respect for the fallen, but anyone with a hint of a brain knew it was to hide the cost of the war from the public.

It’s heartening to see the insulting and disastrous policies of the Bush administration get rolled back as we enter the age of Obama. Today the Pentagon lifted this ridiculous ban. We rerecorded “No Kisses” last week – enjoy the rough mix.

Chris Rakestraw = Funny Guy

Fri. Feb 13, evening:
INT. Garage Pizza, Freddy vs. Jason on TV.

Max: Who wins, Freddy or Jason?


Sat. Feb. 14, evening
INT. Studio

Max: It’s cool, you know I’m pretty adept at writing lyrics on the fly.

Chris: That must be a really tiny pen.

Recording update

So, we’re making a full-length album. We’re keeping a few of the earlier recordings but mostly rerecording songs. We didn’t really know going in which ones we were going to do but we had to start somewhere:

I have to say, it was a big feeling of accomplishment to see how many damn songs we’ve done and to realize that I don’t hate any of them.

Anyways, we did whittle it down, and we will soon reveal which songs made the cut.

Here’s Chris Rakestraw, who’s producing and engineering this thing, with Jon, who’s listening back to his drum trucks with a much more serene look than Chris:

Jon recording:

I don’t have any pics of me or Dave yet, but Dave will be back to sing background this weekend so more photos, to come. I’m off to go sing and play guitar some more now. We’ll keep you posted.