Archive for January, 2020

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is Politically Correct Bullshit

January 31, 2020

I was listening to NPR the other day and heard 2 women lamenting the low number of female artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  They thought the Hall should be more diverse.  What a load of politically correct bullshit!   Rock and Roll was born from a fusion of African rhythm and blues with what used to be known as hillbilly music, but since its birth 70 years ago, a great majority of rock artists have been white males.  Perhaps 85% of rock artists have been white men.  Just think of the greatest rock groups of all time–Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, etc.–and most consist of 4 or 5 white men.  So demographically, it makes sense that most Hall of Fame inductees have been white men.  Induction into the Hall of Fame should be based entirely on talent, musicianship, great song production, and influence; not race, ethnicity, or gender.

A bigger problem with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is its long time prejudice against hard rock/heavy metal, and in recent years its capitulation to the rising tide of political correctness.  I declare Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and dead gangsta rappers DO NOT belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  They are not rock artists.  How can they even be considered for the Hall of Fame when many of the acts I list below have never been nominated?  The Hall originated in 1983, yet a hard rock/heavy metal band was not inducted until 2003 when AC/DC finally made it in.  Since then, an additional 5 hard rock/heavy metal acts have been inducted but in almost every case it was like pulling teeth.  Rush and Deep Purple were nominated a whole bunch of times before they were eventually inducted.  In other cases the voting committee showed complete ignorance of the genre. Metallica was inducted in 2011, and Guns and Roses were inducted the first time they were nominated a few years later.  This is like inducting Joe Cocker before the Beatles.  Without Judas Priest there would be no Metallica and Guns and Roses.  Yet, Judas Priest, though finally nominated twice, still has not been inducted.

I’m not going to lie.  Judas Priest is my favorite rock band, and as long as they are kept out of the Hall, I’m going to be outraged, especially when younger less talented acts make it in. Nirvana was inducted a few years ago.  Half of 1 of their albums is pretty good.  Judas Priest has made at least 6 albums better than Nirvana’s best.  Green Day has been inducted.  I like Green Day.  But I listened to Judas Priest and Green Day back to back, and compared to Judas Priest, Green Day sounds like shit.  Green Day would not want Judas Priest to open for them.

The following is my list of 15 artists or acts who should already be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I guarantee they are all better than this year’s inductees.

1. Judas Priest–Judas Priest originated in 1969, and they are still touring and producing quality albums.  These rockers invented thrash metal and influenced countless heavy metal bands but know how to make popular radio friendly songs–something other metal groups struggle to accomplish. They’ve made 18 albums, selling over 50 million copies.  Some of their best albums are British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance, Hell Bent for Leather, and Firepower.  Below is an example of radio friendly metal.

 

2. 10 Years After–10 Years After began in 1960 and are most famous for playing at Woodstock.  They played an heavy blues rock that sounds particularly energetic when performed live and in fact recorded 16 live albums along with 12 studio albums and 26 compilation albums.  They sold over 22 million albums and 8 of them landed on the U.K.’s top 40 list.  Their best songs  include “Going Home,” the thought provoking “I’d Love to Change the World,” and “I Woke up this Morning.”  The below link plays a 10 Years After cover of jazz great Woody Herman’s “Woodchopper’s Ball.” and shows why this band should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame based on musicianship alone.

3. The Scorpions–The Scorpions formed in 1965 and have sold over 110 million albums worldwide.  They are the best rock band to ever come out of Germany.  They are most famous for “Rock you Like a Hurricane,” but Animal Magnetism is the best of their 18 albums.  Nevertheless, they’ve never even been nominated.  Below is a link to 1 of their little known but great songs.

 

4. The Carpenters–The Carpenters have also never been nominated, despite inventing the power ballad and nailing 15 number 1 hits on the top 40 billboard.  All hard rock bands from the mid 1970’s to the late 1980’s had to have 1 power ballad on their albums because they knew you can’t go 150 mph all the time.  Some times you have to slow down and enjoy the scenery.  The Carpenters were a big influence on hard rock, though all of their songs are soft rock and easy listening.  The critics who have kept them out of the Hall are the same critics who love Elvis Costello and inducted him years ago.  Elvis Costello made 1 song that got a little radio play over 30 years ago, but no songs he ever wrote are close to being as good as any Carpenter’s song.

It may be a mellow, but just listen to the wall of sound on this song.

5. Bernie Taupin–He wrote the lyrics for 99% of Elton John’s songs.  Without Bernie Taupin no one would have ever heard of Reginald Dwight, aka Elton John.  His absence from the Hall is an astonishing oversight.

6. Ozzy Osbourne–He’s already in as the lead singer for Black Sabbath, but his solo career has arguably surpassed the quality of his work with Black Sabbath.  “Crazy Train,” “Flying High Again,” “I just want you,” and “No More Tears” are some of his most outstanding songs.

Image result for Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne is already in the Hall as a member of Black Sabbath, but his solo career has arguably surpassed the group that spawned his career.

7. Boston–Boston is another group never even nominated.  Their music is very polished rock.  All 8 songs from their debut album still get heavy radio play on classic rock stations today over 40 years after it was released. I think people don’t realize how good they are because their songs are overplayed and taken for granted.

Image result for Boston's 1st album

The cover of Boston’s first album.  All 8 songs from this album still get heavy radio play on classic rock stations.

8. The Monkees–The Monkees were a made for television band, but their music became more popular than the tv show.  At first they weren’t even allowed to play their instruments.  Eventually, they did compose their own songs.  During 1967 they sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.  I don’t care what anybody says–I like their music and they deserve to be in the Hall.

9. Huey Lewis and the News–The Hall seems to have skipped over a big chunk of 1980’s music.  Huey Lewis recorded 9 albums that sold over 30 million copies, and his music videos played constantly on MTV through the early 1990’s.  They are known for such iconic hits as “I Need a New Drug,” “Heart of Rock and Roll,” “Perfect World,” and “Hip to be Square.”  Another never been nominated snub.

Image result for Huey Lewis and the news sports album cover

His 2nd album.  This album alone should get Huey Lewis and the News into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

10. Robert Plant–He’s already in as the lead singer for Led Zeppelin, but he has had an outstanding solo career.  He’s released 11 studio albums including Pictures at Eleven, Manic Nirvana, and the critically acclaimed Mighty Re-Arranger. 

I was listening to Robert Plant’s Manic Nirvana album the first time I laid eyes on my wife.

11. Blue Oyster Cult–Blue Oyster Cult originated during 1967 in New York.  “Don’t Fear the Reaper” is their most famous song, but they had a number of other hits including “Godzilla,” “Burning for You,” and “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll.”  They’ve sold over 22 million albums, and their induction into the Hall is long overdue.  They were nominated once.

This song alone should get BOC in the Hall.

12. Joe Cocker–Joe Cocker is best known for his Beatles covers such as his version of “A Little Help from my Friends,” but he has many great songs of his own–“You are so Beautiful,” “High Time we Went,” and “The Letter.”

This song always makes me think of a woman who would write a letter about me to Penthouse Forum.

13. The B-52’s–The B-52’s originated in Athens, Georgia and were a big influence on the New Wave rock of the early 1980’s.  They are yet another 1980’s band ignored by the Hall.  They had a unique sound that no other band could duplicate.

What a unique sound.

14. The Georgia Satellites–Yes, another 1980’s band ignored by the Hall.  “Keep your Hands to Yourself” is their most famous song and was played often on MTV during the mid-1980’s.  That song reminds me of my first date, but their song “Tied Down with Battle Ship Chains,” reminds me of my marriage.

This song reminds me of marriage.

15. Ted Nugent–Ted Nugent, also known as the Motor City Mad Man because he hails from Detroit, will never get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, though he deserves it.  He is just too politically incorrect.  I don’t care if he does make racist comments and said he’d like to stick a machine gun up Hillary Clinton’s vagina, his music is great.  “Cat Scratch Fever” alone is enough to get him in the Hall.  Personally, I think he’s an howling idiot when it comes to politics, but I still love his guitar playing.  When the Hall of Fame airs their induction ceremony on HBO later this year, I am turning the television off and listening to “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” (studio version) and “Wango Tango.”

 

 

 

Don’t Believe it when People or Books Refer to Some Species as Trash Fish

January 24, 2020

I often found it hard to believe books or people who refer to some species of fish as trash. I think some reject eating certain fish based on their ugly appearance or difficulty in cleaning and dressing.  However, I don’t get to fish much because my wife is disabled, and I’ve had to give her 24 hour care for 24 years.  I never had the chance to prove these claims wrong.  Recently, I discovered a youtube channel produced by a man who does just that.  He has videos of hundreds of outdoor recipes including a series entitled “Fish: Trash or Treasure.”  His youtube channel is The Backwoods Gourmet.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZlbqHy8lvGjryf2A-XT4ag

In the first episode I watched he prepared 2 species of saltwater catfish by frying them with a cornmeal coating.  Many books about fishing refer to them as “trash.”  Though they were a “pain to clean,”  the backwoods gourmet discovered hardhead catfish tasted just like freshwater catfish, and sailfin catfish tasted like sea trout.  Whoever labeled them as “trash” were wrong.  In another episode he prepared chain pickerel.  This is the 2nd species of fish I ever caught.  I was 10 years old, visiting my grandfather in Inverness, Florida, when he showed me how to set a pole out over night.  I jumped up and down in excitement upon awakening in the morning to find a pickerel on the line.  But my grandfather told me we couldn’t eat it because it was too bony.  The backwoods gourmet was able to filet 2 boneless backstraps from a chain pickerel, and he pronounced it delicious.  John Lawson, an early settler of North Carolina, once found 300 chain pickerel in his fish trap circa 1710.  (See: https://markgelbart.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/john-lawsons-voyage-to-carolina-1700-1711/ )

The backwoods gourmet tried bonita, a species of tuna thought of as trash.  He blackened some and smoked the rest, and said it tasted as good as restaurant tuna.  He also fried black drum, and sheepshead roe.  The black drum was good, and he enjoyed the creamy sheepshead roe.  I boiled freshwater bream roe and discovered they tasted just like bland chicken eggs.  But to me, store bought caviar pretty much tastes like fish guts and needs to be mixed with cream cheese to get it down.

Sea robins are a bizzare-looking fish that the backwoods gourmet fileted and sautéed in garlic butter.  He called it “amazing.  Another really strange-looking fish he tried was remora.  This interesting species has a sucker on the top of its head that attaches to a shark’s body.  When the shark is feeding, the remora detaches itself and feeds on the scraps.  The backwoods gourmet said they tasted like red snapper.

Backwoods gourmet shows how to clean and cook a remora fish.

In another episode the backwoods gourmet prepares long-nosed gar.  This species was a favorite of the American Indian, and it is still popular in Cajun cuisine.  He had to use a pair of snippers to cut through the thick armor.  He said it tasted like alligator.  In the entire series the backwoods gourmet found just 1 species that he labeled trash–the ladyfish.  It tasted good but was just too full of bones to eat.

There are a couple additional aquatic animals the backwoods gourmet cooks on his youtube series.  Frog legs are not all that unusual and are considered a delicacy in France.  That’s why the French are sometimes known as “frogs.”  He turned soft-shelled turtle into grilled kabobs and said they were chewy and tasted like chicken.  The 1 time I cooked turtle, I was able to make the meat tender by pounding it with a meat mallet, and I thought it tasted like lobster.  On the 4th of July he staged a turtle egg-eating contest.  The white on a turtle egg never gets hard no matter how long it is boiled.  The 3 adults who tried the turtle eggs liked them but a kid almost gagged on it.

A Giant Ground Sloth (Megatherium americanum) Kill Site in Southern Argentina

January 17, 2020

A new study examined subfossil specimens and man-made artifacts at the Campo Laborde site in southern Argentina and concluded men killed and butchered a giant ground sloth and a Patagonian hare (  Dolichotis mara ) at this site about 11,400 calendar years ago.  At the time the site was a swamp and the authors of this study think men drove the large megatherium into the swamp and killed it.  In my opinion the men didn’t have to chase the ground sloth anywhere, and instead just went into the swamp and killed it where it stood.  Ground sloths don’t look like they were mobile and would have been easy targets for a group of men with throwing spears.  The authors don’t rule out the possibility men happened to come along and scavenge an already dead sloth, but they think this is an unlikely scenario.  In a warm climate an animal of that size would rapidly rot and become unfit for human use. The Patagonian hare still occurs in the region today.  It is not actually an hare but rather a rodent that convergently evolved to have the same characteristics as an hare.  They prefer overgrazed habitats, just like true hares, and overgrazed habitats were common in environments where megafauna were common.  The evidence at this site includes lithic artifacts, such as stone flakes, stone knives, and tools made from bone mixed with the bones of the sloth and hare.

Some of the stone tools found mixed with the sloth and hare bones.

Sloth bone with man-made cut marks on it.  Both of these photos are from the below reference.

Megatherium.  They were an enormous animal reaching 20 feet in length and 8,000 pounds.  Still, it was no match for a group of men with spears.

Patagonian mara (Dolichotis patagonum), also known as the Patagonian cavy. Stock Photo - 84876142

A Patagonian hare.  It is a rodent, not a true hare.  Paleo-indians ate small game as well.

Other specimens found at the Campo Laborde site include the subfossil bones of 2 species of glyptodont, vizchacha (a type of chinchilla), dwarf armadillo, white-lipped peccary, camel, fox, rhea, and many smaller animals.  None of these show evidence of human butchery, and they probably died natural deaths.

The authors of this study also re-examined the radio-carbon dates from the Campo Laborde site as well as from 3 other South American sites that suggest some species of megafauna lived more recently than commonly thought.  Some dates indicate Pleistocene megafauna lingered at these sites until the early Holocene, several thousands of years later than when they disappeared in other regions.  However, they concluded those dates are wrong–the swampy conditions contaminated the bones and caused inaccurate radio-carbon dates.  They used more advanced radio-carbon dating techniques and came up with a late Pleistocene date for the Camp Laborde site rather than an early Holocene date.

Reference:

Politis, G.; P. Messina, T. Stafford, and E. Lindsay

“Campo Laborde: A Late Pleistocene Giant Ground Sloth Kill and Butchering Site in the Pampas”

Science Advances  March 2019

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/3/eaau4546

 

 

Nutria (Myocastor coypus) have Invaded Richmond County, Georgia

January 10, 2020

I think I’m the first person to document the presence of nutria in Richmond County, Georgia.  I was driving down Mike Padgett Highway last week and spotted a large road-killed rodent in the suicide lane, and I assumed it was a small beaver.  On the return trip I got a look at the posterior and noticed it did not have the broad naked tail of a beaver, but it was much too large to be a muskrat.  This specimen was at least 24 inches long, not counting the 12 inch tail, while muskrats grow to just 7-12 inches long.  I pondered over what it could be, and it dawned on me that it was a nutria.  I reviewed the description and photos of nutria in Mammals of Georgia by Stan Tekiela and confirmed my identification. His book was published in 2011 and shows the known range of nutria in Georgia then was along the Atlantic coast and the most southern boundary of the state, but apparently they have expanded their range since.

Image result for nutria nursing while swimming

I have no doubt that I saw a road-killed nutria in Richmond County, Georgia.

I considered taking a photo of the specimen as proof, but it seemed ridiculous to go back and risk getting run over by a car in order to photograph a dead rodent.  Though the traffic is not normally bad at this location, the carcass was in the middle of the suicide lane around a curve in the road.  The specimen was located about half a mile from the nearest water source (Spirit Creek, a tributary of the Savannah River).  Perhaps it was traveling across land to a different stream in search of an unrelated mate.

This species has been expanding its range north through the Savannah and probably other River drainages in Georgia.  They are well adapted for aquatic life and breed fast.  A nutria can produce 4 litters a year of up to 11 kits.  A nutria’s tits are angled to its side, so the kits can nurse with their noses above water while the mother swims.  Their population can explode.

Nutrias are native to South America.  Fur farmers have introduced nutria around the world–the U.K., France, Italy, Russia, and most notably Louisiana.  Fur farmers invariably go bankrupt, and the nutria escape to the wild.  Nutria feed upon the bulbous stem of aquatic plants, often killing them.  This causes erosion when the plant dies and the roots rot away.  To prevent damaged wetlands, some people advocate eating nutria meat, and 1 company even makes dog food from the meat.  Reportedly, it tastes like a cross between turkey and pork.  Cold winters may also contribute to a range reduction, but in Richmond County, we haven’t experienced a severe winter since 2012/2013.

Nutria fossils have been found at 6 sites in South America, dating from the early-late Pleistocene.  Their closest living relative is the painted tree rat ( Callistomys pictus ), an endangered species found in the disappearing Atlantic rain forests of Brazil.

Image result for painted tree rats

Endangered painted tree rat, the nutria’s closest living relative.  They must have diverged from a common ancestor many millions of years ago–1 is arboreal and the other is aquatic.

As far as I know, I am also the only person to document the presence of star-nosed mole in Richmond County.  See: https://markgelbart.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/the-strange-little-star-nosed-mole-condylura-cristata/

Reed Creek, Columbia County, Georgia; a 20,000 Year Natural History Timeline

January 3, 2020

The U.S. Army stationed my nephew at Fort Gordon, a short drive from where I reside.  As a consequence, we didn’t have to go out of town to visit relatives for the holidays.  He is renting an house in an hilly wooded neighborhood with nice 2 story houses, and on Christmas day I took a stroll around the vicinity.  I came across Reed Creek, a minor tributary of the Savannah River.  The name of this stream intrigues me.  Common reed ( Phragamites sp. ) is not native to North America, and whoever named this creek was likely  referring to bamboo cane ( Arundinerea gigantea ), a species that used to occur in pure stands for miles along piedmont rivers and streams.  (See: https://markgelbart.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/canebrakes-are-forlorn-landscapes/ ) I did find a very small patch of short cane near the creek, but this plant’s distribution is nowhere near as extensive as it was 200 years ago.  Most of the houses in this neighborhood are no more than 40 years old.  As I walked I began to imagine the natural history of this Reed Creek vicinity before houses were built on it.

From the map it looks like Reed Creek is impeded by 8 manmade dams and flows under 7 major roads and through a sewage treatment plant before emptying into the Savannah River.

Rocky shoal in Reed Creek.  Note the sewage pipe.

This boulder alongside Reed Creek existed 20,000 years ago, but there was likely no flowing stream next to it, and it may have been more exposed and surrounded by scarce vegetation, maybe some pine trees and grass. There was no ravine either and the land where the creek is now was level to it.  Maybe a saber-tooth cat rested in the shade of it once in a while on an hot afternoon.

Reed Creek likely did not exist as a flowing stream 20,000 years ago during the Last Glacial Maximum because the water table was lower then.  Less precipitation fell and the ocean was farther east than it is today.  Instead, along the route of the present day stream, there were disconnected isolated springs that emerged above the ground.  These wetland habitats were surrounded by centuries old cottonwood, sycamore, water oak, and white oak trees.  Cottonwood is often found today growing next to rivers that flow through prairies.  The water holes attracted mastodon, mammoth, bison, horse, llama, peccary, and deer.  Wolves and big cats waited in ambush along the megafauna game trails leading to these water holes.  Condors and ravens perched in the trees, looking for dead meat.  The surrounding hills were covered in widely spaced shortleaf pine and post oak with an understory of grass, flowers, and bare dirt.  Scrub vegetation grew on the top of the hills.

15,000 years ago, glaciers to the north melted, releasing an increase in precipitation.  Between 15,000 years BP and 8,000 years BP, water began to flow between these isolated springs until they joined the Savannah River.  Formerly, the river was braided and clogged with sandbars, but now it began to meander and a period of supermeanders following huge storms caused its banks to overflow, flooding and killing trees.  Bamboo cane, up until that time a minor local component of the flora, thrived in the sunny environments where leafless dead trees did not block out the sun light.  Herds of bison, horses, and mammoths increased at first because the bamboo provided a rich new source of food.  But man, newly arrived in the area, ambushed the herds, wiping out all the megafauna in the region, except for deer and bear that learned to avoid men.  The surrounding hills became more thickly wooded in the wetter climate with greatly reduced large mammal populations, though turkey and smaller animals still abounded.

For thousands of years Indians continued setting fire to the  woods to improve habitat for game.  The thermal pruning created an open environment where scattered ancient old oaks, hickories, and pines grew far apart in beautiful grass and flower-covered meadows. The frequent fires burned all the way to the edges of Reed Creek, further improving habitat for bamboo cane.  During the 17th century diseases introduced by Europeans decimated Indian populations and the corn fields they abandoned near the creek also gave way to bamboo cane.  When the first Europeans settled in this district 100 years later they saw an extensive impenetrable stand of bamboo here, and they called it Reed Creek.

Europeans drove away the remaining Indians, killed all the deer, bear, and turkey; and stopped the annual practice of setting the woods afire.  Trees shaded out some bamboo groves, farmer’s livestock fed on others until they were gone, and planters converted the rest of the creek bottomlands to cotton fields.  Soon, the surrounding hills were clear-cut, and the vicinity looked bare and ugly.  The boll weevil infestation bankrupted the farmers during the depression, and they left, and the trees grew back.  The deer returned.  40-50 years ago, real estate developers took ownership of the land, and now the surrounding hills have houses filled with human beings inside who shit into pipes that lead to the sewage plant where it is treated and released into Reed Creek.