As you’ve no doubt heard by now, I lost the election. I conceded before the votes were even tallied as it became clear to both me and my campaign manager, Ettouffe, that victory was not to be. My opponent had sent out several harsh direct mail pieces detailing my involvement in a Thrash Metal outfit known as Rapevan Winkle. Apparently, that is an inappropriate name for a band if one of the members ever decides to run for Ombudsman.

I wish I could say that by Thrash Metal standards we were good, but that would not be true. Plus, it doesn’t ease the pain of losing an election by an 80% margin. Friends have been calling me Mondale. As for Rapevan Winkle, well, I couldn’t exactly call it a youthful indiscretion. I was 34-years old when I joined as the bass player/ lyricist. Yeah, it was the lyrics that cost me the election. We sucked, though, we did once share a stage with Rumple Stillborn and Mein Whooping Kompf.

Speaking of Etouffee, here’s a picture of us in New Orleans this past April having breakfast shots of Jaegermeister in front of perhaps the gayest bar on Bourbon Street. (Again, didn’t help the campaign). We had decided to take the ladies to the Big Crappy because apparently we hadn’t been perspiring enough. Oh my god, why is it so hot and smelly down there? Is that Bush’s fault too? I also think someone put a voodoo curse on me. Probably a zombie. Literally there are hundreds of them walking around day and night.

As for the FEMA trailers, well, you don’t see any in the French Quarter. And as we were advised not to leave the Quarter, we didn’t see too much poverty and despair…unless you count the casino! Ha! I didn’t feel too badly losing money at craps knowing it was all going to rebuild Ray Naggin’s Chocolate City. Hey, I’m always looking to do my part to help my fellow man.

Jerome BettisBut back to the campaign: here’s a picture of me with legendary sports commentator Jerome “the Bus” Bettis. What a nice guy, until he found out that I was a candidate for public office. Then he threatened to sue me if I used his image in any of my campaign materials. I had told him I was with Jerry’s Kids but Ettouffe had forgotten to take off my campaign button. He also didn’t appreciate me asking him about his steroids use and how many home runs he needed to hit to pass Joe Pepitone. Jeez, what a sensitive brute. On the positive side, I no longer felt gigantic and immediately stopped dieting! Thanks, the Bus.

If you want to see an actual television commercial featuring Jerome the Bus shilling for a politician, then click here: . If you look closely, you may recognize a certain barber in the background. I’m still waiting for both my SAG card and my paycheck. Seriously.

Speaking of paychecks, what a great time to be a reservist in the U.S. Military this has turned out to be. I mean, most people become a reservist to augment their already meager income and hit the woods and swamps one weekend a month. But, now because of the Never Ending War (sorry, that’s trademarked), reservists get to earn big time military money all from the non-safety of the Middle East. And before you can yell “Cool!” know that even more reservists are getting the opportunity to serve. Why? Because Congress is populated with liars who ran on a platform of bringing home the troops only to cave into the demands of the most unpopular president in 33 years.

Want to talk about punting away a mandate? Over sixty percent of the American people want the troops home immediately rather than in Iraq policing a civil war, and only twenty-six percent of the American people approve of Bush. If my math is correct, the two trains should pass through Chicago around 9pm. Oh wait, that’s a different math problem. However, the point is that Congress should have shut off the funding of this debacle already, but they haven’t because they want to wait until September for a report on the Surge.

The Surge! The biggest bullshit story of sweeps week. More cops on the streets should be working, yet every day more and more U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians, not to mention jihadists, seem to be dying. I don’t need to wait until September to get my report. It’s over. Pull the plug. This war has become the Terri Schiavo of 2007. Everybody but Bush seems to know when something is brain dead. Doesn’t he own a mirror?

FranzOf course, who can pay attention to current affairs when future affairs are so much more interesting, like who is going to be the next president (see current essay for the answer to that one)? The 2-year campaign to become president has so far drawn 20 participants, none of whom is a sure thing. If this were a Fox talent contest decided by a panel of three (one of them incomprehensible/ possibly retarded, one of them a meth addict, and one a snotty gayish Brit) we might actually have people vote. As it stands now, well, look out Iowa. Mitt Romney and his magic underwear are on the way.

Hey, speaking of magic, when the boys of The Hold Steady get together does the fun ever start? Ha! Actually, beat poet Craig Finn and company put on one of the best shows Le Philistine and company have seen in a long time. They performed in an old movie theater (without the seats) to an over-capacity crowd on a Monday night. What made it even more awesome is that before the show they had drinks and sushi at my favorite Japanese watering hole. Here’s a picture of me and keyboardist extraordinaire Franz Nicolay (check out that organ on “Same Kooks”) discussing my Top 20 list from last year:

Me: You guys came in 3rd on my list.
Franz: Who was first?
Me: Neko Case. Clearly.
Franz: Yeah, that was a good record. Who was second?
Me. Pernice Brothers.
Franz: What? No way. I hate the way that guy sings. Recount.

I had to give him a LePhilistine t-shirt to get him to settle down. Ironically, it was the same shirt I gave Joe Pernice last year. Ha!

Adam LevyTwo weeks later, we saw my number 20 band of last year, The Honeydogs. The Honeydogs, led by singer/songwriter Adam Levy are one of the most deserving bands around for some fortune and fame. Mostly fortune. But it seems like not too many people know who they are. Problem is that they can’t tour a lot because Adam works as a youth counselor in Minneapolis, and apparently it is always about the kids. During the show, I requested that he play the Wings’ song “Jet,” because I’d thought I’d heard them play it before. Here’s how the exchange went:

Me: Jet!!!
Adam Levy: The Paul McCartney song?
Me (few too many drinks): Jet!!!
Adam Levy: Okay, go google the words and music and print it out for me.

Adam had the last laugh, of course. Here’s a picture we took shortly after the show with Adam working the merch table. Oh my stars and garters, but I’ve never smelled B.O. that pungent before. And I’ve done work with homeless people. It was if he had showered with a dirty diaper. And then of course he was real chatty with her Mims because they both kind of work in the same field. Apparently, it’s always about the kids. And The Wings’ song that they’ve covered in the past? “Rock Show.”

One more recent concert of note was The National, who were in town promoting their new CD, “Boxer.” Though I didn’t get a picture, even though I could have because they too visited the aforementioned sushi bar and I did have a camera with me. I already have a picture with Matt Berringer, singer/ lyricist so I didn’t feel like being a backstage Betty. Anyway, they are one of the best lives bands going and a must see if they come to a town near you. The brothers Dessner play guitar like they’re in the Matrix. You haven’t seen hands move so fast since Neo pummeled Agent Smith.

If you haven’t been buying much music lately because you’re waiting on the September report about the Surge forget it and get out there and start shopping. You can start with Wilco’s “Sky Blue Sky” which is a wonderful record even if it does verve into guitar jazz/ Pat Matheny territory sometimes. Tweedy remains the poet laureate of pop/rock. Next stop is Ryan Adams’ “Easy Tiger”, which may be his best work since Whiskeytown got shut down for serving minors. While you’re at it, buy Adams’ fellow North Carolinians The Rosebuds’ “Night of the Furies, which is a concept record apparently about Furies. And then grab the latest literate rock from Scotland’s Maximo Park with their release “Our Earthly Pleasures.” Follow that up with “Those the Brokes”, the awesome new release from Britain’s Magic Numbers. That should keep your ears happy for awhile.

On a music related note, I got to meet one of my idols recently, Lou Reed. Lou was in town signing copies of his new book (something called “Lou Reed’s New York) at our local Warhol Museum. The good news was that Lou Reed was in town, the bad was pretty much the same. While every hipster in a not-very hip town enjoyed cocktails and art and music by guest D.J. Dean Wareham, I had to wait in a line for about 2 hours to get Lou to sign a grossly over-priced book of photos of buildings and food. After waiting in line for over an hour, we were told that Lou would stop signing at exactly 9:30pm. Yikes, I thought, I still had miles to go before I slept.

Still, the line moved quickly and I was just about to get my autograph when Lou went ballistic on some young woman who had the temerity to use the flash on her camera as she took his picture. A digital camera, mind you. I mean, she wasn’t covered by a black cloth and holding a plate of gun powder. But, Lou didn’t like it.

I handed him my book to sign and we exchanged this fan to ex-heroin addict cross-dressing idol:

Lou ReedLou: (Impatiently looking at me for 5 seconds) What name?
Me: What? Oh, Nick.
Lou: With a “c” or a “k.”
Me: (Starting to resemble Frank Whaley in “Pulp Fiction”) What? Um, both actually.
Lou: grumble, mumble.
Me: Mr. Reed, I’m a huge fan. In your opinion, what’s your best work.
Lou: They’re all great. I like them all. Next!

Here’s the picture I ended up getting. I asked some young lady to take it (even though I knew the flash would go off – oops) and she had trouble locating the press button. I showed her what button to push and then she snapped the photo just as I walked back to Lou. It looks the perfect blend of stalker/fan disinterested quasi-celebrity. Fantastic. And for the record, they’re not all great, Lou. Some of them are available in a bargain bin near you for a reason.

While most of the people in your five have been talking about the last episode of “The Sopranos” and its incongruous use of the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believing,” the real HBO show to watch has to be “Flight of the Conchords.” It stars 2 New Zealanders trying to make a music career in New York, but mostly it involves some Ricky Gervais-like uncomfortable humor and some really funny songs. Check it out, mate, and put another kiwi on the Barbie.

On a final note of business, we will be going to a blog format in the very near future so make your vacation plans soon. Also, my comedian sister is now a shock jock – sort of. She is producing and co-starring  a daily show on a local radio station from 1pm to 4pm eastern standard time and you can listen to her online at  If you call in to win free tickets or a truck hat, mention LePhilistine and get a bonus coupon for a dozen wings at Wings Over America. You’ll thank me in the morning.

Ps. New t-shirts coming soon. For real this time.