Restaurant Eviction of Sarah HS – Ethical or Not?

Did the Red Hen lay an egg?


First, I should clarify that I’m no fan of Donald Trump or the administration as a whole.

That said, the booting of Sarah Huckabee Sanders from the Red Hen restaurant leaves me unsettled.  Granted, political affiliation, ideology, and occupation are not officially protected classes like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc., are.  The latter are physical characteristics beyond a person’s control while the former are consequences of personal choices and actions.  But I’m afraid of that proverbial slippery slope rearing its ugly head in establishments.  I wonder how currently rejoicing liberals would react if Hillary Clinton or the ‘other’ Sanders (Bernie) find themselves escorted off business properties in the coming weeks by conservative managers.

Because Sarah Sanders carries controversial beliefs and “lies” on behalf of her boss – and ultimately to the American people – seems like the ongoing presented argument in favor of the discrimination.  But then here comes the slope:  Trial lawyers are mouthpieces of the murderous and rapist clients they represent in the court of law, certainly bending the truth and playing mindgames to jurors (the “American people”) in the process.  Shall they be legally ejected from restaurants?  What about “legit” but controversial jobs like porn stars, prostitutes (in Nevada), cigarette manufacturers, etc.? Taken further, what about anyone with an unpopular viewpoint, questionable value, and/or prior criminal conviction?  There go countless politicians, athletes, rockers and rappers, Hollywood celebrities, and so on and so forth, all candidates for “No (enter demographic here) Allowed” signs on restaurant entrances.

A libertarianish side of me wants to support the private owner of a business to do what they please on what’s essentially their property.  But as we saw during the Jim Crow era, the ugly divisiveness in the public sphere – where these private business operate and play – is not worth that level of “freedom.”

The Red Hen now has millions of dollars of free advertisements in the past 48 hours.  Not sure how this will affect business – their town is overwhelmingly liberal, so they could be finding packed houses during upcoming weekends by townsfolk and like-minded passersby.  Although the surrounding county is staunchly conservative.

Public protest and some level of civil disobedience is fine.  But requiring political adversaries to leave restaurants feels like another symptom of a society grown too accustomed to “shock n’ awe” debate and snappy memes.  Ultimately, I hope this is not the beginning of a trend.

Alan Morley

1988 Industrial Flashback

Today’s Earworm: Nitzer Ebb – “Control I’m Here”

Once in a while, when the feeling strikes, I’ll reach back to the late 80s EBM days.  A sort of pre-cursor to the “industrial” music genre, it was characterized by an aggressive/repetitive dance beat with a flurry of percussion (real or synthesized) and factory-induced sounds, coupled with either dissonant or distorted vocal delivery.

One of my favorite bands from that era was Nitzer Ebb.  I didn’t know much about these guys until I saw them open for Depeche Mode on the ’90 World Violation tour.  Along with Front Line Assembly’s Caustic Grip and Tactical Neural Implant, NE’s That Total Age and Belief are hallmarks of that relentless electronic-punk fusion that’s impossible to sit still through.  Douglas McCarthy’s gravely chant-like vocals – no distortion required – seemed like a perfect fit.

Thirty years ago this summer, Nitzer Ebb performed “Control I’m Here” live. 

Nitzer Ebb would go on to release Showtime, and then Ebbhead which saw the group try its hand at more song structure and some added guitar ‘sounds’ (seems every industrial act has to dive into the guitars – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – but I prefer the minimal use of guitars in this genre).  MTV also noticed and they were a fixture on 120 Minutes.  Big Hit was the next album in the late 90s, and justifiably flopped as they tried too hard with cerebral, complex song structures, getting away from their more tribal bread n’ butter.

Douglas McCarthy and Bon Harris reformed in 2009 with Industrial Complex, which pleasantly surprised me with some back-to-roots electrobeats and hooks without sounding “dated.”

Sometimes I will stumble upon an EBM electronica outfit that gets it “right.”  (it’s more than just setting a drum machine loop on repeat… it still needs to engage).  But largely, EBM is a bygone era of the late 80s and early 90s when simplicity and basics led the way, in galvanizing fashion.

Alan Morley


Bullying and School Shootings in the Digital Age

Reports coming out of the Santa Fe HS tragedy is that the shooter was bullied (and by coaches at the school, no less).

First, let me be clear:  None of what I’m about to say excuses this POS, and any other killers before him and certainly after him.

But I can’t imagine being a bullied kid in school now, in the Internet Age.  At least “back in the day,” their torment was only confined to the halls between class or on the schoolyard.  The home was a sanctuary of sorts, where maybe they could get lost in their favorite book or vinyl record.

Now? Digital communication knows no physical boundaries. It’s relatively easy for a group of people to collude, jump online, and gang up on someone who lives across the neighborhood, city, state, or country, at any time of day or night.  I’m not saying this happened in this particular case in Texas.  But I simply don’t see a mere coincidence between the increase in school shootings and the arrival of social media and widespread smartphone usage.  Behind a keyboard, and with some shroud of anonymity, too many people are too willing to expose dark and ruthless sides to them.

Not to mention the “instant notoriety” temptations that modern day communication and entertainment bring.  You won’t just be on the 6 o’clock news and morning newspaper.  Your mug will be on dozens of cable news channels and Facebook and Twitter feeds.  We live in a culture of reality shows where violently “settling the score” is preferable to other avenues.

Stricter gun controls would help, and I’m supportive of this.  Yet this alone won’t address a root cause of why this happens.

Alan Morley


I’m still wrapping my head around this Facebook News Feed post lead-in by the Detroit News, which is still up over three hours after posting and getting rightfully mocked in the comments section:


Putting aside the grammatical error for a moment (“an” instead of “a”), in what mathematical universe does 84.5 inches, the height of some of the tallest NBA basketball players, equate to a 7-story building?  Are they measuring it in LEGO buildings?

For a moment, I considered they might’ve meant if they piled up all the snow fallen within Flint’s city limits into one place.  But stacking up 36 square miles worth of 7 feet of snow would tower far higher than a 7 story building.

Either I’m missing an “ah-ha” riddle somewhere in there, or the Detroit News is hiring bizarre interns to write their social media posts.

Alan Morley



RIP R Lee Ermey and Ode to FMJ

I didn’t see Full Metal Jacket when it came out during my teenage years (1987).  I wound up catching it in my university dorm room somewhere in the early 90s.  Over twenty-five years on, I don’t recall every scene of the film, but those I do recall have stuck in my brain.

Drawing from his real-life background as a drill instructor, R. Lee Ermey played Gunnery Sgt. Hartman with dark-humor precision and intensity that rightfully earned him accolades, dressing down ‘Joker’ and ‘Private Pyle’ and others in a rapid-fire series of humiliating put-downs.  He even revisited his “role” decades later in a Geico advert.

He was also a key component of one of the most emotionally disturbing scenes in movie history: the confrontation with Joker and Pyle in the toilets where an obviously mentally-broken Pyle goes off the rails on both Hartman and himself.

Sadly, Mr. Ermey passed away last night at the age of 74, which was younger than I might’ve guessed him to be.

(NSFW language)

Full Metal Jacket was a juxtaposition in of itself.  The movie felt like two separate films: training during the first half, Vietnam in the second.  Both separated by the aforementioned toilet scene.  Second, that mix of “funny” with harrowing. We laughed, albeit uncomfortably, at Hartman’s colorful language beat-downs and donut scandal to the ‘Me So Horny’ scene.

However, the parts that haunted me were the soap-beat punishment as a wailing Lawrence lay helplessly in his bunk.  The face-to-face confrontation with the Viet Cong sniper at the end.  And of course Lawrence/Pyle’s mental decay.  All of which Kubrick brought to the screen brilliantly and pulled at my emotions.

War movies, and Vietnam movies in particular, are in essence horror movies.  I’ll never know what it’ll feel like being drafted and sent to an unforgiving jungle, not sure if my next step will render me shot or amputated.  Having nothing but my own wits and those around me, trying not to descend into madness and hoping that no one gives into dark actions in the midst of anarchy.

I’ll need to watch FMJ again, to salute these fine actors and rediscover the scenes I may have forgotten over the years.  In the meantime, rest well and godspeed Mr. Ermey.

“The real R. Lee Ermey was a family man, and a kind and gentle soul. He was generous to everyone around him. And, he especially cared deeply for others in need,” (Manager Bill) Rogin said in a statement.

Alan Morley


Phoning It In

40 years of the cell phone

Four decades of cell phones: Big, smaller, smaller, small, bigger, bigger, big.


(h/t Pictures in History)

The flip phone had a nice, long run.  It defended the vulnerable little digit keys and, when operated, tucked underneath your chin to give you that traditional phone feeling.  I remember moving to the flat rectangle took some getting used to, initially hoping that whoever I was speaking to could clearly hear given the phone was (relatively) far from my mouth.

And the era in which there were no cell phones gets further and further in the rear-view mirror.  I enjoy the safety and insta-information having these brings, although it has disrupted human interaction and, for many, created a whole new vice of dependency.

Alan Morley