Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
STMcC in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Thursday, September 20, 2018

“ROPE” THAT “CAMEL” AND LET’S GET IT STRAIGHT FROM THE DROMEDARY’S MOUTH

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NEW TESTAMENT ORIGIN
by George M. Lamsa
published: 1976
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The first real Bible I ever owned was the New King James Version, given to me as a gift, and it served me well for several years. But as my understanding improved and my thirst for water drawn from the deeper parts of the Spiritual well drove me into more scholarly directions, I eventually came to realize that the English version of [link> THE HOLY BIBLE FROM THE ANCIENT EASTERN TEXT translated from the Aramaic language by George M. Lamsa represented the most accurate and trustworthy rendering of God’s Holy Spirit-inspired Word.
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Lamsa’s native tongue was Aramaic and having grown up in the Near East with the ancient customs, and using some idiomatic phrases known since the time of Jesus, he was eminently qualified for his chosen life work of giving the world an English version of The Bible from the original Aramaic (the same language that Christ spoke).
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NEW TESTAMENT ORIGIN by George M. Lamsa is a small exposition that presents the author’s basic argument that “no portion of [the New Testament] was originally written in Greek”, but rather in Aramaic, the language of the common man in The Holy Land during the first century. If true, this means of course that the many Christian “scholars” who slave over the subtle shades of meaning of Greek words in order to gain greater insight into Biblical passages are sweating over foreign language copies of the original scrolls.
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My copy of this book is the 1976 edition with the bright green cover. While the NEW TESTAMENT ORIGIN is written in a very plain, straightforward and persuasive manner, my only complaint is that it could have been expanded with additional material. I know that this material exists as some of it appears in the Introduction to Lamsa’s Holy Bible translation, as well as in his 'IDIOMS OF THE BIBLE EXPLAINED AND A KEY TO THE ORIGINAL GOSPELS', which I also own.
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Lamsa explains his position with the use of sound logic and reasonable assumptions and the accumulated force in his thesis is bound to surprise many who are willing to put aside their dogmatic assertion that the New Testament was originally written in Greek long enough to weigh the evidence with an open mind. Lamsa writes that “Aramaic and Hebrew are the two closely related Semitic languages in which all sacred Jewish literature is written” and that the Gospel, written to sway and enlighten the Jews first, would have been written in the language commonly spoken by them at that time, makes perfect sense.
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Lamsa points out that “The Greek version contains many Aramaic phrases and passages directly transliterated from Aramaic documents, such as Talita Komi, Eli Eli lmana skabachtani, Raca, Rabuni, Abba and Maraeta.”
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In Chapter XXII he utilizes several examples of where the Greek translator’s limited understanding of the Aramaic originals he was working from created errors that become apparent only when compared with the words used in the Aramaic texts from the Eastern churches. Although I found some of the examples used to illustrate this same point in the Introductin to his translation of The Holy Bible to be more compelling, Lamsa does make one especially potent cultural point in NEW TESTAMENT ORIGIN: Acts 18:3, in the Bibles that are based upon the Greek scrolls, tells us that Saint Paul earned his livelihood as a “tentmaker”. According to Lamsa, that was improperly translated from the Aramaic word “lawlarey” which means “saddlemaker”, and furthermore that “there is no such occupation as tentmaker in the Near East. The tents are made by women in their own homes. There are, however, many expert saddlemakers who travel from town to town making saddles and leather goods.” Well, Lamsa was certainly the one Bible translator who would know!
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In 'The Holy Bible: From the Ancient Eastern Text', there are some startling differences between some verses based on the Greek manuscripts and those based on the Aramaic. I highlight a few of them in my review of that publication on this website. But if there is a real “smoking gun”, I would say that it comes in the form of the confusion over the Aramaic word “gamla” which can mean either “camel” or “rope” depending upon the context. Bibles based upon the Greek tell us in Matthew 19:24 that Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” A camel to a needle is a “non sequitur” to say the least, but a rope to a needle is in keeping with the imagery and displays a very obvious and organic relationship. Is it mere coincidence that “gamla” means both “camel” AND “rope” in the Aramaic, yet Greek-based Bibles conjoin a camel and a needle, creating a wildly nonsensical match? Is it not pretty evident that the Greek manuscripts were first copied from Aramaic originals by a translator not sufficiently knowledgeable with the latter language to avoid making such a contextual mistake? (Surprisingly, Lamsa did not include this example in his NEW TESTAMENT ORIGIN, though perhaps it does appear in the later version of it.)
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The following may not be of interest to everyone, but I feel it worth mentioning that in the book [link> 'Bible Code Bombshell' -- the most current of the academic publications I have found on the Equidistant Letter Sequence (ELS) code believed to be contained in The Bible -- the question appears: “Do Bible Codes Show Up Only In The Old Testament?” and author R. Edwin Sherman answers, “Highly improbable ELS groupings have been discovered in preliminary research of the Aramaic New Testament. Since Aramaic uses Hebrew letters, available code search software can be used to research the ... Aramaic New Testament. More work needs to be done ... before conclusive results can be presented.” How odd that an ELS code has never been found within the Greek version of the New Testament, but that it may be present in the Aramaic Bible.
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I enthusiastically recommend NEW TESTAMENT ORIGIN by George M. Lamsa to anyone seeking to expand their knowledge about the language of Scripture. I own The Holy Bible in the King James Version, the New King James Version, the New American Standard version (largely considered to be the most “literal” translation from the Greek), and the George M. Lamsa translation, and while I do occasionally compare verses from these four texts, I long ago came to accept that when it comes to The Holy Bible, the version derived from the ancient Aramaic represents “the final word” in God’s Word.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

THE REAL "SUMMER OF LOVE"

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JOY IN THE JOURNEY: 10 Years Of Greatest Hits
by Michael Card
released: 1994
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Michael Card's Greatest Hits compilation was released in 1994 -- one of the best years of my life. I recall hearing the song 'WHY?' for the first time in my (then) girlfriend's car, just as we were entering the Eastbound I-10 onramp at Sepulveda Boulevard. Only a couple of months earlier, on April 6th, while alone in an apartment in a grungy area of Los Angeles, I was quite unexpectedly driven to my knees, where Jesus Baptized me with The Holy Spirit. I didn't exactly know what had happened to me, or why. I only knew that I was suddenly changed somehow.

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Obviously, that was a special year for this reviewer, and when I heard Michael Card sing, "WHY DID THEY NAIL HIS FEET AND HANDS WHEN HIS LOVE WOULD HAVE HELD HIM THERE?" it perfectly described the Fire I felt inside me and the Love that I knew Jesus has for us! I asked my girlfriend to replay that song several times. For me, that remains one of the greatest lines ever written about my Savior King. And although I don't play it often, 'JOY IN THE JOURNEY' always takes me back to that magical year of rebirth.
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Michael Card does not have a particularly great voice, but it adequately conveys the obviously heartfelt convictions of his nicely crafted Gospel songs. What makes Card special is his lyrics; he is Christian Rock's premier wordsmith, able to create songs around deep theological concepts. He overreaches at times ("...the universe fell from His Fingertips"; "...He sent His only Son and so became a Holy Embryo"), but that's the cost of creating fresh, unique expressions and attempting to translate the Mystery into song. There may be an occasional misstep, but there's no doggerel verse here -- just first class Christian poetry sung with sincerity, and sometimes backed by surprisingly powerful "electric" passion ('Known By The Scars'; 'Scandalon'; 'So Many Books'; and my favorite track, 'Know You In The Now'). I'm rarely impressed by the lyrics of most songwriters, but consider these lines:
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HE CANNOT LOVE MORE AND WILL NOT LOVE LESS
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WE IN OUR WEAKNESS BELIEVED WE WERE STRONG / HE BECAME HELPLESS TO SHOW WE WERE WRONG...
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FOR THE POWER OF PARADOX OPENS YOUR EYES / AND BLINDS THOSE WHO SAY THEY CAN SEE
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THAT IS THE MYSTERY, MORE THAN YOU CAN SEE / GIVE UP YOUR PONDERING AND FALL DOWN ON YOUR KNEES
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NO FICTION AS FANTASTIC AND WILD / A MOTHER MADE BY HER OWN CHILD
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TO HEAR WITH MY HEART, TO SEE WITH MY SOUL / TO BE GUIDED BY A HAND I CANNOT HOLD
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TO TRUST IN A WAY THAT I CANNOT SEE / THAT'S WHAT FAITH MUST BE
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THERE IS A JOY IN THE JOURNEY, THERE'S A LIGHT WE CAN LOVE ON THE WAY

THERE IS A WONDER AND WILDNESS TO LIFE, AND FREEDOM FOR THOSE WHO OBEY
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TO BE SO COMPLETELY GUILTY, GIVEN OVER TO DESPAIR
TO LOOK INTO YOUR JUDGE'S FACE AND SEE A SAVIOR THERE

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Now THAT'S what I call "writing!" Most of these tracks are enthusiastic and catchy. If they played this stuff more often on Christian radio I'd tune in once in awhile.
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Michael Card's 'JOY IN THE JOURNEY' puts joy in my journey, and it calls to mind my personal "Summer Of Love." And when this world douses my spirit, 'JOY IN THE JOURNEY' can fan my embers into a Divine Flame again. Brothers and Sisters, I think you'll like it too.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Thursday, September 6, 2018

YOU CAN'T ARGUE WITH A SICK MIND!

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16 MOST REQUESTED SONGS
by Johnny Mathis
released: 1986
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I usually tend exclusively to my own business -- I really do. I'm not in the habit of mingling in things that are none of my concern. But once in awhile a person encounters something so unjust or (in this case) so utterly stupid, that he is literally compelled to interject himself into the situation....
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It was close to two decades ago that I was sitting alone in a booth at a juice joint called THE SPEAKEASY on Pico Boulevard near 14th Street in Santa Monica, California. I was having a drink and reading a letter from a girlfriend when I heard this bellowing Blowhard surrounded by his uncouth cronies at the bar. "No Black man can sing!" he bellowed. "There has never been a really great Black male singer!" the Blowhard continued. I waited for someone with half an ounce of brains to enlighten the Good Ol' Boy, but his cronies just sat there mute, nodding their hollow heads.
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Blowhard bellowed his brainlessness too loudly yet again, and when even the bartender let it pass, I could restrain myself no longer. Now of course, I had many weapons in my arsenal. I could have whipped out Nat King Cole,or Sam Cooke. I could have pulled Greg Walker or Marvin Gaye or Jubilant Sykes or Ray Charles on him. But I thought: "Nah. Let's just go right to the jugular and immediately put this Village Idiot out of my misery". So, from my booth 35 feet away, I called out, "JOHNNY MATHIS!"
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There was a long, silent pause which must have seemed like a year to the Village Idiot while he frantically searched his empty head for some sort of answer to give this impertinent stranger. Finally he countered with, "Oh, he's a fag!"
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The point here is that even this Racist Retard was not stupid enough to deny that Johnny Mathis is a really great singer. To try and save face, he was reduced to changing the conditions of his premise. Suddenly we were looking for a really great "straight" Black singer. You just can't argue with a sick mind, can you?
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I'm not a fan of the crooners -- there are only 3 that I listen to regularly: Bobby Darin, the Yiddish-singing pop stylist Yoey O'Dogherty, and the incredibly gifted Johnny Mathis. 16 MOST REQUESTED SONGS is an excellent sampler containing most of his best-loved Pop hits, recorded at a time when his voice was still young and able to hit all of those gorgeous notes! Pay special attention to MARIA (far from being my favorite melody on this collection) -- there's a point at about 2 minutes and 20 seconds into the song where amidst the background singers you can hear Johnny's voice come in. It's so faint at first that you're not really sure you're hearing it, but then it powers through and over the other singers with just a single sustained note of PERFECT PURITY which subtly transforms into the name "Maria". Fabulous!!
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In terms of pure voice, I think Johnny Mathis stands alone. Add 16 MOST REQUESTED SONGS to your collection and you'll know what even the Redneck Maroons at THE SPEAKEASY know: Johnny Mathis was one heck of a singer!
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And with Christmas approaching, I also recommend his albums, MERRY CHRISTMAS and FOR CHRISTMAS. I've been hearing the first one every Christmas going back to when I believed in the Fat Man in Red. And the latter has his phenomenal last two notes on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
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All this reminds me of the time a few years back, when in a Phoenix restaurant, a man in the booth behind mine loudly told his companion that "No woman has ever written a great novel!" I had just opened my mouth, intending to mention Betty Smith's A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, when I caught myself and thought, "Oh, forget it, Stephen! Besides, he's an Arizonan, and you know you have to make allowances for them."
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

CLASSICJAZZITIZ!

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CLASSIC JAZZ: Jazz Legends
from: Time-Life
released: 1999
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You don't need a review in order to help you decide whether or not you ought to purchase this. All you need to do is examine WHO and WHAT appears on this TWO-DISC (!) compilation.
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Included amongst the principal players are: Ellington, Ella, Satchmo, Miles, Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Erroll Garner, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, Count Basie, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, and Cannonball Adderley!
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Some of the music masters who lend their renowned talents to the production of this music in supporting roles are: Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, Wynton Kelly, Kenny Burrell, Nelson Riddle, McCoy Tyner, "Sweets" Edison, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Barney Kessel, Buddy Rich, and Joe Zawinul. I mean, this is a veritable Jazz Hall Of Fame!
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Sure, there are a few dogs here (in my opinion). I gotta grit my teeth to get through Mel Torme's too-cute LULLABY OF BIRDLAND; Chet Baker's flat and comatose MY FUNNY VALENTINE; and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross' CLOUDBURST, which simply rains on my parade. Any one of these should have been replaced by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers' truly classic Moanin'.

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OK, so there ain't nothin' perfect on this earth. But if you think I'm a-gonna give anything less than an "A" grade to a collection of unedited Jazz masterpieces that includes: TAKE THE "A" TRAIN; THE "IN" CROWD; THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA; APRIL IN PARIS; KILLER JOE; CAST YOUR FATE TO THE WIND; NIGHT TRAIN; THE CAT; and TAKE FIVE (the 'Stairway To Heaven' of the Jazz World), then yer jus' looney tunes!
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Man, this truly is Classic Jazz. And if you don't like what is presented here, then you and I ain't never a-gonna hear ear to ear, an' all I can say is: "MERCY, MERCY, MERCY!"
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, August 27, 2018

IT'S DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN!

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INSIDE JOB: Unmasking The 9/11 Conspiracies
by Jim Marrs
published: 2004
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When the Constitutional Convention concluded in 1787, it is reported that Benjamin Franklin was asked what sort of government the Founding Fathers had crafted, and Franklin responded, "A republic, if you can keep it." Turns out we couldn't! Most Americans are unaware of the fact that their country has degenerated into an oligarchy.
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I remember watching a live TV news broadcast of the September 11th event when a retired Air Force officer called in to the station and asked how it could be that nearly an hour after the first hijacked plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the skies over Washington D.C. still had NOT been secured, thus making the Flight 77 attack on the Pentagon possible. "It starts already", I thought to myself. What had started already? The suspicion; the weird anomalies; the missing puzzle pieces; the unexpected behavior and the odd lack of expected responses to an emergency of this kind. In short, signs of The Conspiracy manifested early on and were evident to the rare citizen with unusual political acuity.
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Few citizens realize that Insider complicity is not only imaginable but to be expected. It's not like we've broken new ground here! The sinking of the Lusitania which helped to embroil U.S. citizens in the unpopular World War I, and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, forcing them into the equally unpopular World War II, served as the template for September 11th and its subsequent "War On Terror" in the Middle East. It's deja vu all over again (quoting that immortal yogi, Berra.)
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'INSIDE JOB' by Jim Marrs brings together so many of the unaswered questions surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks and presents them in a very sensible and earnest manner. Naturally, those American citizens who have the audacity to raise these serious questions, and worse yet, who expect REASONABLE answers from their government representatives, will be dogged by those Americans who interpret this as being "unpatriotic." Never mind. 'INSIDE JOB' raises the pertinent questions, even if it can't definitively answer them:
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* Why was President Bush not immediately whisked away from the elementary school where he was speaking when it was known that hijacked planes were in the air and his location was public knowledge?
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* Why are a number of N.Y. firefighters convinced that the WTC towers were brought down by strategically placed bombs, and not the steel-melting inferno that has been "sold" to the public?
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* Why did Condoleeza Rice lie and say that an attack of this nature was unimaginable when it can be shown that our Intelligence agencies had information many years in advance which indicated that just such an attack was being planned?
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[* 2005, Feb. 1st ADDENDUM: In 1995, the Manila police uncovered an al Qaeda terrorist plot to hijack commercial airliners and fly them into American buildings. The plan was code named "Project Bojinka" and the World Trade Center was specifically mentioned as a target. This information was turned over to U.S. Intelligence authorities. You wouldn't learn this from a person who reviews the book after reading only 20 pages of it, because this information is located on page 55. Of course, 6 years later "Project Bojinka" is carried out, and now some high-ranking American authorities are telling us that the possibility of such an atrocity was unimaginable. Sure!]

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[* March 25th ADDENDUM: While I can't speak to the other issues he raised, with all due respect to Mr. Negley at Amazon.com, an airliner attack on American landmarks including The World Trade Center WAS conceived by the "Project Bojinka" conspirators. See 'The New American' magazine, Vol. 17, No. 23 -- November 05, 2001.]
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These are just three of the many very relevant questions that our government officials have failed to address satisfactorily. You'll find the others in 'INSIDE JOB'. The staggering amount of them will catapult you out of your comfort zone.
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While 'INSIDE JOB' presents many nagging questions and points out the great discrepancies in the "official" version of the 9/11 events, the reasons for these will make little sense to the casual reader until he or she has gained a real understanding of The Big Picture. To that end, I likewise also highly recommend:

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'THE CREATURE FROM JEKYLL ISLAND' by G. Edward Griffin
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'NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON: 25 YEARS LATER' by John Stormer
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'ORIGINAL INTENT' by David Barton
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You may also wish to check out my guides 'Would You Like To READ THE CONGRESSMAN'S CONFESSION ABOUT THE NEW WORLD ORDER?' and 'Would You Like To SEE THE NEW WORLD ORDER IN BLACK & WHITE?'
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Since I opened with the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, I'll also close with it:

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"Those who are willing to sacrifice their freedoms for a measure of security deserve neither."
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I guess he means us, huh?
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

CHECK INTO THIS HOTEL

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HOTEL RWANDA
directed by: Terry George
released: 2004
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I find my time generally too precious to waste on Hollywood's soul-tainting product and therefore I visit the movie theater less than once every five years. But I had heard so many positive things about HOTEL RWANDA and was determined to see it. Still it took me until just a couple of days ago to finally get around to renting it.
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I remember the massacre of the Tutsis by the Hutus in Africa in 1994 primarily because, while it was occurring, I was in the midst of experiencing a paradigm shift: On April 6th (the very day that the violence in Africa was initiated) I had an extraordinary and entirely unexpected encounter with Jesus Christ, and as a result, my world-view was being transformed daily during that historically important period.

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I recall standing at the counter of a 7-11 in a grungy section of Los Angeles, my mind filled with thoughts of God's Love for us, when I saw the photograph on the cover of Time magazine in the rack before me illustrating vividly what was transpiring in Africa. I think the dichotomy of feeling the inestimable power of Divine Love for mankind, while simultaneously looking upon the grotesque hatred that mankind has for itself, indelibly burned that otherwise insignificant transaction into my brain.
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While many have pointed to the immoral colonialism of Rwanda by Germany / Belgium as the catalyst behind the deplorable tragedy that took place in Africa, the tension between the Hutus and the Tutsis goes back much further than imperialistic influence, and it's important not to lose sight of the fact that ultimately every man and woman is responsible for what resides in his or her heart. No one can FORCE blind, irrational hatred into the heart of another person; it is the individual alone who must accept the blame for surrendering to deformed thoughts and allowing them to inspire evil acts. I'm reminded of the vow of Booker T. Washington which should stand as a guiding principle for each and every one of us. He said:

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"[I] WOULD PERMIT NO MAN, NO MATTER WHAT HIS COLOR MIGHT BE, TO NARROW AND DEGRADE MY SOUL BY MAKING ME HATE HIM."
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It is a genuine shame that no action was taken by any power to intervene and bring this genocide to an immediate halt. And though I often object to the liberal playing of the "race card", I'm afraid that in this instance I'll not dare contest the charge that the general apathy toward the violence was probably engendered by the fact that it was a matter between two groups of Black Africans. It should surprise no one, however, that the United Nations refused to take an active role in quelling the muderous spree, as anyone familiar with the history of that organization knows, the promotion of global collectivism is its true agenda, and tribal massacres not easily exploited for their cause fall outside the interests of the dogs of Socialism.
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As for the film itself, it is well-directed and contains an excellent performance from Don Cheadle as the lifesaving Paul Rusesabagina; and an even more impressive performance by Sophie Okonedo who plays Rusesabagina's wife, Tatiana, a woman of grace, inner strength and beauty. HOTEL RWANDA convincingly conveys the intensity of the environment without the de rigueur graphic violence of Hollywood movies.
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I've deducted half a star because there were a couple too many last-second rescues that strained believability for me (and I stand corrected if ALL of these situations truly conformed to historical fact, but I find that doubtful). And I charged another half a star against the horrifically miscast Nick Nolte in the role of U.N. Colonel Oliver. Nolte couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. He tried it once in 1996: The Screen Actors Guild placed him into a paper bag specially constructed for the experiment. When he was unable to act his way out of it, Nolte was rescued just as his supply of oxygen was exhausted and he slipped into unconsciousness (though some say it was difficult to discern the difference). Nolte was embarrassingly unconvincing as a colonel, as he possesses none of the mien of a lifelong military man -- he wasn't even acceptable as a commander wearing the ridiculously unintimidating U.N. powder blue beret.
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Nevertheless, I highly recommend HOTEL RWANDA to everyone. The United Nations may be useless when it comes to preventing human tragedies, but Paul Rusesabagina (and Jesus) saves!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Saturday, August 18, 2018

WHAT I LEARNED FROM LEE RITENOUR

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[This review was written on Sunday, March 20, 2005]
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HOT ROD GUITAR
by Danny Gatton
released: 1999
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I was introduced to the music of DANNY GATTON by Larry Rosen (better known to his friends as F'n Lelly.) In 1994, F'n Lelly (himself a pretty good guitarist in an L.A. Blues band at the time) recorded a cassette for me which he titled, 'Little Guitar Ditties: Lelly's Favorites'. It contained 3 Danny Gatton tracks including the '93 version of HARLEM NOCTURNE, which knocked me out! All these years later, the incredible playing of Gatton still amazes and satisfies. He was one of the most technically proficient musicians to ever sling a six-string; and the most versatile, which more than anything probably accounts for his relative obscurity.
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In 1978, I was on the set of a Lee's Sportswear commercial which featured the renowned Jazz guitarist LEE RITENOUR. I happened to be standing nearby when he spoke to another musician about this new inventive guitarist named EDDIE VAN HALEN who had just arrived on the scene. In demonstrating Eddie's "tapping" technique, Ritenour whipped off a perfect Van Halenesque solo. My jaw dropped! I was an 18-year-old "Rock 'N' Roll Actor" at the time (a silly phrase I had coined for myself to describe my attitude as a performer) and I was heavily into Rock music back then. I later struck up a conversation with Ritenour and asked him what he thought of several other Rock guitarists who were popular at the time. I was surprised to hear him say, "They're all good."
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The proverbial "light bulb" above my head lit up that day. It occurred to me that usually very little difference in technical facility separates the artists of any medium at the highest levels of professionalism. The greatest artists achieve legendary status and eternal fame not so much on their technical ability, but based on their innovations and/or stylistic approach.
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It's not because VAN GOGH was the greatest painter of his time that his works now sell for millions of dollars. He had a style all his own: landscapes composed of brilliant colors applied to the canvas as if in an emotional rage! Nearly every EDWARD HOPPER painting conveys a sense of lonely isolation. That was HIS style. As an actor, JAMES DEAN said that in one hand he had Marlon Brando saying "f*** you!" and in the other he had Montgomery Clift saying "help me!" This approach in combination with a fertile imagination made him an eternal silver screen legend. For a long time, Big Band leader GLENN MILLER sought to capture the unique "sound" he heard in his mind. In putting together arrangements, he eventually stumbled upon it. By using a clarinet or alto sax in tandem with four other saxes, doubling an octave above the lead, he created The Glenn Miller Sound that made his music instantly recognizable thereafter. JIMI HENDRIX was a good player, but Danny Gatton could have played circles around him, and so could many other guitarists who came later. But Hendrix created a whole new sonic palette within the Rock music framework, and that's why he's fondly remembered today.
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DANNY GATTON was a technically GREAT player who excelled at every musical genre. This compilation is a heartfelt guitar potpourri. Whether plugging in the incandescent candles on a midnight romance (SAX FIFTH AVENUE), kick-starting a heart with unbridled electricity (NOTCHCO BLUES), exploring Jazz Avenues at dusk (KINDRED SPIRITS), or rocking your car during the dark rides (FUNHOUSE), Gatton displays both muscularity and sensitivity. His playing was first-class; never maudlin or affected. He may have sacrificed a musical composition to hotdogging once in awhile (ORANGE BLOSSOM MEDLEY), but hey, even that was enjoyable! 
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A couple of reviewers (at Amazon.com) seem to think that "music" is defined by lightning runs over the frets. Well GATTON displays hyperspace speed when he wants to, but if that's all you're interested in, you will miss the shimmering gorgeousness of delicate pieces like CANADIAN SUNSET and POINCIANA. As a person's taste in music matures, they come to discover that speed does not even register on the list of essential elements. A fine illustration of what I'm referring to can be found in the great (Jazzy) Blues guitar album 'GOOD HANDS' by DANNY CARON.
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Releasing his first eclectic album for Elektra, and pondering the direction of his future recordings, GATTON said, "I can't afford to get shelved. It all depends on the public whims." This may account for his anonymity. Other than his prodigiously developed and literally jaw-dropping technique and mind-warping speed, GATTON did not have an immediately recognizable signature sound, a unique personal style (heck, even Tom Scholz of Boston had that!) If widespread fame was what he sought, perhaps he should have mined for his own musical voice -- "public whims" be damned.
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Nevertheless, if you want to experience the playing of a true six-string master in a variety of settings with some world class accompaniment, then you'll be thrilled by this 2 disc set. Purchase 'HOT ROD GUITAR' (along with Danny Caron's aforementioned 'GOOD HANDS') and you won't regret it. You can trust me; I've never lied to you before have I? And be sure to tell 'em that Stephen and F'n Lelly sent you!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, August 13, 2018

WE CAN DREAM, CAN'T WE? {*Yeah, Sure.*}

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HORIZON
by The Carpenters
released: 1975
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Richard Carpenter has expressed a slight dissatisfaction with HORIZON, and although I am a HUGE fan of The Carpenters {*He exaggerates -- don't listen to him. He weighs about 165.*} I fear I must concur with Richard's assessment. This collection is akin to finding a few purebred Golden Retrievers running with a pack of common dogs. {*A really bad analogy, Stephen! Remember, man, this is the world's greatest singer you're talking about here.*}
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The album opens and closes with the very brief atmospheric mood pieces AURORA and EVENTIDE -- so good you're actually left disappointed that they weren't expanded. In between is the memorable but widely available hit ONLY YESTERDAY and the haunting SOLITAIRE. Unquestionably, the big knockout track here is the dreamy I CAN DREAM, CAN'T I? And this is really saying something when you consider that this collection also includes Karen's heartfelt reading of Frey & Henley's movingly plaintive and lyrically brilliant DESPERADO -- a song that would be the major highlight on any number of other albums! {*I have nothing to add to that paragraph. Nicely done, Stephen.*}
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Richard once lamented that had he only known how little time he and his sister would have together, they wouldn't have wasted any of it recording songs like BEECHWOOD 4-5789. And although it went to Number 1 on the U.S. charts and was a runaway monster in Japan {*You mean like Godzilla?*}, I have to believe that Richard would have included PLEASE, MR. POSTMAN in this lamentable category. It's just pure radio fluff, about as satisfying as a Popsicle! For me, the other three cuts -- HAPPY; (I'M CAUGHT BETWEEN) GOODBYE AND I LOVE YOU; and LOVE ME FOR WHAT I AM) -- are nearly equally forgettable.
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Oh, but did I mention I CAN DREAM, CAN'T I? {*Forgive him, folks. He's starting to get long in the tooth, and one's memory is always the first thing to go!*} It's bittersweet:

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Sweet in that Karen's exquisite, intimate voice and delicious delivery are perfectly framed by the crystalline, rock candy piano at the forefront and by the warm, melty, white chocolate strings in the background! {*Stephen, you hungry maybe?*} It's just GORGEOUS! A light wisp of smoke, tenderly wrapped in gauze and gently placed in a bed of softly folded lace.
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And it's bitter in that this is the only taste of it that we are ever going to get. Just a glimpse of an unrealized potential. What a treasure we would have possessed if The Carpenters had recorded an entire album of time-tested standards with similar stylistically luscious arrangements. It could have been called 'CLASSIC KAREN' and included songs such as Stardust; You Belong To Me; Misty; September Song; and Smokin' In The Boy's Room. {*SMOKIN' IN THE BOY'S ROOM??!!*} No, I meant Smoke On The Water. {*SAY WHAT?!*} Smoke Gets In Your Eyes? {*Yeah... well that's a little more like it. Man, they'll let just about anybody post reviews on Amazon.com, won't they?*}
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But I suppose it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. {*Good line, Stephen, but it sounds familiar.*}
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Alas, we're never going to get 'CLASSIC KAREN'. But still, we can listen to this one shimmering moment over and over, and we can dream, can't we? {*Yeah, I know he's kind of sappy, but you get used to him after awhile.*}
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In addition to the music, there are two REALLY NICE photos of Karen on the front and back cover {*Alright, Stephen, take it easy!*} and musically, the mountaintops are so majestic on this slightly uneven recording that they cast their shadows down into the valleys and render them passable. {*Was that sexual innuendo, Stephen?*}

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If you are new to The Carpenters, you could do worse than this collection. And if you are already a fan, then purchasing this compact disc should be on your immediate HORIZON. {*Ok, you done now? Let's log off, get out of these pajamas and go get something to eat already. Man, I'm starving!*}
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Friday, August 10, 2018

THE TWELVE TIME-TESTED TRUTHS:

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CROSSING THE RUBICON: The Decline Of The American Empire At The End Of The Age Of Oil
by Michael Ruppert
published: 2004
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1) The Moon is made of cheese.
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2) Cats and dogs never fight as they are natural allies.
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3) Depending upon what the meaning of "is" is, William Jefferson Clinton "is" the most honest man in America; he never inhaled when he smoked his joints.
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4) George W. Bush is a master linguist who could educate William Shakespeare when it comes to proper usage of the English language.
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5) The United States government has never deviated from The Constitution and the intent with which the Founders framed it.
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6) The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a hard-core conservative organization bent on stamping out collectivism from the public consciousness.
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7) Ann Coulter is a radical Left-wing liberal and a secret card-carrying member of the Communist party.
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8) Pedophiles are anathema to the Catholic church which leaves no stone unturned when investigating and excommunicating deviants within its priesthood.
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9) The current Obama administration is exceedingly concerned about the negative impact that illegal aliens are having on American society; it is determined to round them up and prevent their unauthorized return.
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10) The Federal Reserve Bank is a government entity which was formed solely in order to regulate the American economy, prevent boom/bust cycles, and ensure an equitable financial system that would be beneficial to the U.S. citizenry.
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11) The Bill of Rights was conceived and enacted as a safeguard against the personal liberties of the populace usurping power that rightfully belongs to the benevolent and omniscient Federal government. Too much individual freedom tends to interfere with the ability of the elected representatives and government bureaucracies to control and manipulate the nation's citizens for the good of We The People.
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12) The great tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001, was entirely unforeseeable, unpreventable, and unimaginable. The disloyal rabble-rousers in America who insist that highly placed government officials had foreknowledge of the terrorist attacks and yet allowed them to be perpetrated for political expediency, should be confined in a Communist gulag for their un-American paranoia! All men and women who question the veracity and altruism of U.S. government leaders are not fit to call themselves Americans, nor to fly the Stars and Stripes on the Fourth of July. That flag and that holiday should be celebrated only by citizens who meekly and unquestioningly follow government edicts and media pundits. Books such as 'CROSSING THE RUBICON' present a serious danger to the status quo and ought to be publicly burned along with the unpatriotic drunkards who read them!
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I think there was a thirteenth Truth also -- something about the health benefits of imbibing 100-proof whiskey. But I can't find my notes at the moment because the room is spinning and my desk is out of focus.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

HOPPER-HOPPING WITH GAIL LEVIN

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HOPPER'S PLACES
by Gail Levin
published: 1985
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There's a TWILIGHT ZONE episode titled 'A KIND OF STOPWATCH' which starred Richard Erdman and was first broadcasted in October of 1963. The story is about a man who is able to freeze time by suspending the progress of the second hand on an enchanted stopwatch. He instantaneously stops time in order to rob a bank and accidentally breaks the stopwatch in the process, leaving him stranded alone forever in a timeless, lifeless world. I saw the episode as a child and it immediately captivated me, and something about that imagery has haunted me ever since. EDWARD HOPPER is my favorite artist and there's a "timeless isolationism" -- a Twilight Zone-ish quality -- to his oeuvre that I really resonate to. (Don't worry! I don't intend to psychoanalyze myself here. Although my Mother DID disenroll me from kindergarten when, because of my withdrawn nature, my teacher described me as "antisocial." My Ma employed the obvious solution to that malady and took me out of school!)
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HOPPER's works convey this intense internal aloneness by merely hinting at details in big spaces, depicting daytime shadows sparsely and yet placing almost everything in a serene (often golden) glow. His pictures rarely illustrate the sharp, mind-numbing dead of Winter or the harsh and draining dog days of Summer. Regardless of the time of year in which he worked, in Hopper's world it is perpetually Autumn. Dreamy. Quiet. Lonely. Sad. But how he captured that mood cannot be fully fathomed through mere observable techniques. It was Mr. Melancholy's inner vision that was his real "style", and this comes across so brilliantly in GAIL LEVIN's wonder-filled book, 'HOPPER'S PLACES'.
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Having served as curator of the Hopper Collection at the Whitney Museum, and having written and compiled 'EDWARD HOPPER: AN INTIMATE BIOGRAPHY' and 'A CATALOGUE RAISONNE' (as well as many other Hopper related titles), Gail Levin is probably the foremost expert on the man and his work, and eminently qualified to be our tour guide as we go Hopper-hopping through 3 countries in search of his subjects. Levin's photographs duplicating the sights and angles that Hopper put on canvas really highlight the unique "eye" for scenes that, via his singular process of artistic alchemy, the painter was able to transform into the HOPPER ZONE.
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HOPPER'S PLACES records many of my favorites: EAST WIND OVER WEEHAWKEN (1934); SHAKESPEARE AT DUSK ('35); APPROACHING A CITY ('46); LIGHTHOUSE HILL ('27); ADAM'S HOUSE ('28); and the utterly fascinating, ROOMS FOR TOURISTS ('45). I can see how this bed & breakfast place depicted at night might elicit diametrically different responses from a variety of observers: "I ain't going in there; that's where Norman Bates lives!" or "God dwells there and He invites me to leave the darkness and come into the Light."
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Unfortunately, because Levin was unable to provide comparative photos for them, a few really choice Hoppers were excluded from this book. Notably, DRUG STORE (1927); EARLY SUNDAY MORNING ('30); SEVEN A.M. ('48); and Edward Hopper's ubiquitous masterpiece, NIGHTHAWKS (1942). Incidentally, this shopping mall poster gallery and post card favorite was the inspiration for the title of the Tom Waits "live" studio album 'NIGHTHAWKS AT THE DINER', which in turn was the inspiration for one of Amazon's best customer reviews -- Kippy Lanker's review titled [link> 'IN THE OLDEST BAR IN NEVADA...'
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Once upon a time, I had entertained the idea of a career in art (another fatality on my Boulevard Of Broken Dreams), but in discovering the work of Edward Hopper, I realized that my pictures had already been put on canvas and better than I could have hoped to paint them myself. HOPPER'S PLACES is a "must own" book for any fan of the man's work, or for anyone who simply wants to SEE the definition of "art."
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"Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys," Waylon & Willie sang in 1978, "because they'll never stay home and they're always alone, even with someone they love". But then, of course, if your babies should happen to display an aptitude with pen and brush, you just might want to ship 'em off to art school.

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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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