Ailing


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Roger Ailes, the man who crafted Fox News and reshaped the way cable news is presented, died Thursday at the age of 77.

There’s been a lot of comments about the genius of Ailes and how he tarnished his legacy with allegations of sexual harassment, which eventually ousted him from Fox. I disagree. His legacy was already tarnished.

A friend took the opportunity of Ailes’ death to post a comment on Facebook criticizing liberals who were rejoicing over the death of Ailes. He’s right that many on the left were downright gleeful, but he’s always strangely silent when conservatives are guilty of the same crime, celebrating at the death or illness of a Democrat.

Here’s the real irony my conservative “friend” will never catch: That is Roger Ailes’ legacy.

Conservatives love to play the victim card. They wail and whine how the media has a liberal bias. But they’re not advocating for an unbiased news outlet. Their answer to a supposed left-wing biased media is more biased media…except one that feeds their confirmation bias. Ailes fed that. Fox News is the media and it’s the largest in viewership, yet conservatives still play victim to the press. Snowflakes claim their voices aren’t heard.

Roger Ailes started as a political operative and he never stopped after he jumped into the news business. Many journalists credit Ailes for their careers, but so do Republican politicians. He’s had his finger in the election of every Republican president since Nixon. Even while leading “fair and balanced” Fox he was consulting with Republican presidents and candidates.

Ailes gave us Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck. While there are agenda driven left-wing sites such as Occupy Democrats and Daily Kos, Fox News inspired the Daily Caller, TownHall, and Breitbart, and they’re all pissed off. Here’s the thing, Chuckles: If it’s a right-wing or left-wing news site, it’s not news. It’s propaganda. It’s divisive.

That is Roger Ailes’ legacy.

Enough with speaking ill of the dead. Let’s recognize the passing of a true artist. Let’s talk about…

Chris Cornell.

I’m a huge fan of music that comes from Seattle. It’s not a bias for the city or I’m carrying a love for flannel and frosty, wet weather that’ll depress the hell out of you. It’s that the artists who come from that corner of the Northwest were kinda isolated from what radio and MTV told us what was supposed to be popular and what we should listen to. While Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana, are all classified as “grunge,” those four bands don’t sound much alike, and they didn’t sound anything like the music radio was telling us to absorb in the late 80s and early 90s. They ignored that and followed their own rules.

Cornell was a brilliant songwriter with a voice that soared above others. You can argue he was the best pure singer to come from the entire “grunge” scene with only Layne Staley from AIC being able to challenge him. That would be a good argument.

Cornell was a rock’n’roll bad ass. Years ago I was hanging with fellow musicians at an after party and the front man (who is a brilliant vocalist and songwriter in his own right) for another band, She Bites Dogs, was drunk and threw out a silly question. “If you’re not gay but had to sleep with a famous dude, who would it be?” He may have also been high. While every guy in the room was stumbling for an answer, he threw out an answer in a millisecond after his own question. He chose Chris Cornell. While we didn’t have time to think about it, it seemed it had been on his mind for a while. But it made sense. Cornell wasn’t just a really good-looking dude. He was cool. He was talented. He’s the kind of guy girls want and yes, guys would want to be. He didn’t even get too much shit when he cut off his long hair in the mid-90s, He was that cool. When you’re that cool, you can do whatever the hell you want.

Cornell has a legacy. Imagine the vocal abilities of Elvis in a format with a hard rocking band with songs that did not suck. Cornell’s vocal cords had balls. Soundgarden was pure fury with an intense depth musically and lyrically. Soundgarden is the band that Nickelback wishes they could be, but to be fair, every band probably wants to be Soundgarden. The first Soundgarden song that will come to mind for the casual listener is probably “Black Hole Sun,”  but there’s so much more they should check out. Check out the anger, screaming vocals, profanity, pure adrenaline rush, and banjo (yes. Banjo!), in Ty Cobb.

“Loud Love” is a great description for Soundgarden, yet there was more to Cornell than loud music. While still in Soundgarden and before they made it big, he put together Temple of the Dog, which was a collaboration between him and the future members of Pearl Jam that was a one-shot tribute to his roommate and friend Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone who died from a heroin overdose. Check out Chris dueting with a very young and inexperienced Eddie Vedder on “Hunger Strike.” After Soundgarden he had a solo career that a lot of his fans weren’t very fond of, as the music was a lot softer and, because he was cool and could do whatever he wanted, he covered Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”. He also delivered an amazing version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” Cornell formed Audioslave (he apparently likes hearing terms in band names) with the former members of Rage Against The Machine. It rocked but it didn’t come close to the innovation, brilliance, and pure hunger of Soundgarden. Soundgarden kicks ass.

Cornell died in Detroit Thursday from an apparent suicide while on a solo tour. He joins other Seattle music tragedies such as Staley, Cobain, and Hendrix. He wrote about death often such as in “Say Hello To Heaven” from Temple Of The Dog, “Like A Stone”, from Audioslave, and “Jesus Christ Pose”  from Soundgarden.

I’m sure Heaven is enthusiastic to say hello to Chris Cornell.

Creative note: This blog took a while because I wasn’t able to find all those links without listening to each song. I have to draw a cartoon today for The Seattle Times and The Costa Rica Star and I’ll be jamming to Chris’ music while I do so.

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