Patterico's Pontifications


Eddie Van Halen, 1955 – 2020

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:03 pm

[guest post by JVW]

I hadn’t really thought to write about Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, guitarist for one of the biggest bands of my youth, who died earlier today after a long bout with mouth and throat cancer. As a kid I was a Van Halen fan, like most white boys my age, and I vividly recall being home sick from school on that day in December of 1983 when the local radio station received its demo copy of “Jump” via FedEx and played it for the first time just in time for Christmas shopping. That spring when they commenced upon their world tour I fervently negotiated with my parents to allow fourteen-year-old me and my eighth-grade buddies to go up to the big city to see the group in concert. My father, who recalled that Van Halen had caused something of a ruckus in our home town four years earlier, didn’t seem too enthralled with the idea. In any case, our failure to procure tickets for the show (there were about 400 of us in line hoping to buy and our local record store had been given probably 100 tickets to be sold in lots of four) made the point moot and I didn’t see the 1984 Tour.

Lead singer David Lee Roth would of course leave the band (or be kicked out; believe whichever version you wish) the following year, and the Van Halen brothers and bassist Michael Anthony would soldier on with new vocalist Sammy Hagar for the next decade. I never liked the Hagar version of the band as much as the original, though I still do appreciate some of the songs they made with Mr. Cabo Wabo himself. In any case, one constant that remained throughout both incarnations of the band (let’s just all agree to forget the Gary Cherone version of the band, OK?) was Eddie’s slick guitar playing, impossibly fast and sounding like nobody else in rock and roll. Most of us were stuck playing the sort of instruments that you can play in middle school band — trumpets, saxophones, trombones, etc. — but even if we couldn’t quite sling an axe ourselves we appreciated and marveled at the greatness that Eddie Van Halen so effortlessly displayed.

But what really inspired me to write this post was Kyle Smith’s tribute to Eddie at National Review Online. I hadn’t really thought of it this way, but Van Halen hearkens back to that glorious epoch in music between the transition of 70s strident leftist punk (after a dose of 60s protest music) and then later the revival of the earnestly gloomy alternative 90s hippy revival. Van Halen was the top band in America, and probably the world, at the height of Reaganism when rock and roll went back to being fun, at least when Bruce Springsteen wasn’t singing about your girl leaving you after the town’s factory closed and your VA benefits had been cut. Here’s how Mr. Smith described the scene:

The band clarified its mission at the start: “Running with the Devil,” the first song on their first album, isn’t a postcard from hell: It’s about raising hell. In contrast to Sixties doomscrolling like “Sympathy for the Devil,” it’s not a warning, it’s an invitation — to a kegger or a roadhouse. [. . .] On the album cover Roth had his shirt completely open to expose his big hairy chest, and at the end of [the band’s cover version of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me“] he delivered a witty, “Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!” Van Halen was a laugh. In concert and in the videos, Roth did ridiculous yet awesome judo moves and Eddie never stopped smiling. This was the sound of fun, of wild and sticky Friday nights in crowded saloons, of young hormones past all control — the sound of sex.

Exactly right. Are there any present-day youth acts about whom you could say the same? Certainly there are, er, “artists” today who are happy to sing of carnal pleasures, partying, and general mayhem, but inevitably that act quickly shifts into pro forma condemnation of police brutality or a demand for immediate climate action or special pleading on behalf of this or that persecuted interest group. To my knowledge, Van Halen never told us what causes we must espouse or for which candidates we must vote; they were content with having a great time with us and then moving on to the next city.

So long, Eddie, and thanks for your part in my boyhood. I’ll close this out with my favorite Van Halen song, with a video so impossibly silly that it was clear the band never intended for us to take them seriously.


Team Pence Unwilling To Take Reasonable Safety Measures At Debate

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:26 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Because we are in the time of stupid, this:

Mike Pence does not want plexiglass barriers around him at the vice presidential debate against Kamala Harris on Wednesday, a top aide to the vice president told CNN on Tuesday, rebuffing an announcement from the Commission on Presidential debates that the dividers would be used to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have yet to hear medical evidence what the plexiglass is for,” Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short told CNN.

The plexiglass dividers, which were announced by the commission on Monday night, were the latest in a string of changes made to ensure the virus is not spread at the debate as the White House deals with a growing number of infections inside Donald Trump’s administration.

Physical barriers like plexiglass are typically recommended when social distancing cannot be maintained. The candidates will be separated by 12 feet on stage. Masks are considered the best defense against both droplet and aerosolized transmission of the virus.

Pence has no problem with Harris having a plexiglass shield around her if she wants. He just doesn’t want one for himself, which would help protect her:

Short said the Pence team doesn’t have a problem if Harris would like a plexiglass shield to protect her from the virus at the debate. But the Pence team believes it’s not necessary for the vice president to have plexiglass as well.

A Pence aide also told CNN that Harris and the moderators “can do whatever they want,” but the vice president’s team does not feel like they have to follow along.

So, for Pence, it’s no mask and no shield. And even though Pence attended the now notorious White House Rose Garden event, his doctors say that because he was not in close contact with any individuals who later became infected, he doesn’t need to quarantine:

Jesse Schonau, Pence’s physician, said in a memo released Tuesday that the vice president does not need to quarantine because he was not a “close contact” with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19 as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pence has had multiple coronavirus tests that have resulted negative.

Uh-oh: we are now learning that more people have tested positive, including Pence’s own press secretary:

Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a source close to him.

His wife, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller, tested positive for coronavirus in May.

Look, Team Harris is just playing better politics here:

“Senator Harris will be at the debate, respecting the protections that the Cleveland Clinic has put in place to promote safety for all concerned,” said Sabrina Singh, a Harris campaign spokeswoman. “If the Trump administration’s war on masks has now become a war on safety shields, that tells you everything you need to know about why their COVID response is a failure.”

While I’m not a Harris supporter, this makes sense. The optics are good, and it shows a desire by Team Harris to keep everyone – even their opponents – safe. On the other hand, Team Pence is clearly unwilling to go the extra mile to keep everyone as safe as possible, and that is not a good look in the least – especially when Pence’s boss is currently in quarantine after having tested positive for COVID-19 and released from the hospital last night.

I understand why Trump wants to continue to downplay the virus and try to convince Americans that he has conquered COVID-19 like a boss, it nonetheless boggles the mind that he and his team don’t seem to grasp that this foolishly arrogant attitude will not draw in any new voters for Trump’s reelection. On the contrary, he risks losing even more voters because of his continuing recklessness and unconscionable behavior. If there was even a small demonstration of humility and public acknowledgment by the Trump camp that they are now willing to do everything in their power to keep their neighbors safe, they might have a chance of reaching some undecideds. Clearly, they’re not interested. Even a plexiglass shield is a bridge too far.


What Is Donald Trump Hiding?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

I know he had a triumphant evening news return to the White House (Medical Unit), ripping off his mask and telling supporters not to be afraid of COVID just because it killed 200,000+ of their fellow Americans. But people thought Herman Cain was doing better just days before he passed. Even the president’s doctor, no paragon of forthrightness, warned that Trump is “not out of the woods” and I agree with Conor Friedersdorf:

In that vein, it’s useful to look at the questions the doctor didn’t answer yesterday, citing HIPAA regulations (translation: “Trump has not given me permission to talk about this”). For example:

When was his last negative test? Has he had any abnormal tests?

Does he have pneumonia? What is the condition of his lungs?

When did he first test positive? They won’t say. The Wall Street Journal reported a positive test earlier on Thursday before he spoke to Hannity and said he was waiting for test results (presumably referring to the PCR test). Was he tested for the debate? Did he have a positive rapid test before going to his New Jersey fundraiser? We have no definitive answers to those questions, so far as I am aware.

When people are forthcoming about some things and evasive about others it is obvious there is something bad underlying the evasiveness.

What is going on? What is Trump hiding?

UPDATE: Dana embedded this last night but it’s worth watching closely again. It is very uncomfortable to watch. He is clearly having trouble breathing.

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