The Locke Report: August Edition

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Hot Wife Theory:

Look around the world today. So much bad and bizarre shit going down. Facebook has become such a bummer as everyone has their own take on everything from police violence, the presidential campaign, middle east conflict, financial doom and gloom, and whatever other hot take issue which comes to the fore. And they are right. Always! And if you do not agree not only are you wrong, but you are stupid and quite possibly evil. Judging from my observations people today are so passionate and spew their ideology like a fire and brimstone preacher of the Puritan age.

I tend to steer clear of such debates. Too much going on in my life. Too many irons in the fire. And a hot wife never too far away. It is rather difficult to get overly worked up about the abominable Trump or the corrupt Hillary when I have a hot wife snuggling close on the couch.

So, my advice readers, no matter which side of the plate you are batting, is to drop all the political and social bullshit and focus on your own life. Start with Hot Wife Theory! It works!!

Election 2016:

“May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof,” John Adams wrote Abigail almost 216 years ago as he became the 2nd United States President. Well certainly there is precious little of either with Clinton and Trump. Which brings us to a disturbing fact. In 1800 the fledgling little democracy had roughly 200,000 citizens. Among them were such luminaries as Adams, Sam and John, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hancock, and the list goes on. Today America has swelled to over 350 million and well you get the message.

Correction: In 1800 there were more than 5 million people living in the United States. Of this figure more than 800,000 were slaves. Only white land owning people over the age of 18 were permitted to vote which is where the figure of 200,000 (roughly) is derived. Thank you to Kevin Cummings, good friend & reader, for highlighting my poorly penned assertion.

Still, to harken back to my main point; while this trend is disturbing I can still employ Hot Wife Theory and now fondly gaze at a photo on my desk. Voila, All is Good!

 Celluloid Heroes:

I have watched a couple of movies over the past few weeks. Black Mass & Trumbo. Both are worth your time.

Johnny Depp supplies a highly subtle performance as James ‘Whitey’ Bulger the famed South Boston crime boss. Bulger was a vicious criminal and it was nice to see the director, Scott Cooper, resist the temptation to glamorize what was a brutal crime syndicate known as the Winter Hill Gang. The ensemble cast of Black Mass lends a depth to this production. Every line spoken, every foot of film, is delivered and occupied by a quality actor or actress. Kevin Bacon is in a minor role which should inform you on that point. ****

Trumbo also delivers a punch in recounting the carnage of the McCarthy era and the undemocratic attack on people’s rights and civil liberties. The story is told through trials and tribulations of Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo was perhaps Hollywood’s leading screenwriter of the 1940’s before being sent to jail for failing to cooperate with the Senate committee on un-American activities and then  blacklisted. Perhaps the most interesting, enlightening, and even uplifting part of the movie was recounting his struggling career during this blacklist period. Good Movie, Great Story, Nice Cast! ****

The Sports Page:

It has been a while since I have paid much interest in the Olympic Games. Too much corruption, politics, & doping. But that does not deter me from recognizing the true genius and talent of some of these magnificent athletes. Names such as Comaneci, Spitz, Retton, Jenner, Sugar Ray, Lewis color my youth and early adulthood. And now names such as Usain, Phelps, Gabby, Simone can take their rightful place among their legendary Olympic peers. Magnificent performances and congratulations to you all.

That’s it for August and I’ll try to be better next time. See you in September!

 

 

Snapshots Of My Life

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Source: Snapshots Of My Life

The Locke Report: July Addition

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Amid Deepening Investigation…

A headline such as this can be seen in the United States every few weeks now. In this case, a one Micah Xavier Johnson is under the microscope. You know, the Dallas shooter. Not the Orlando nightclub shooter. I, along with most of the public, have already forgotten that shooter’s name and Micah’s name will also fade quickly enough as we move to the sure to come next massacre. Micah wanted to “Kill white people.” The Orlando man wanted to “Kill gays.” And they did. With ease.

No need for a gun ban rant here. The United States now has a firmly entrenched political class. It is a nice class to be in. The pay is sweet. The overriding rule that guides this class is to get re-elected. Every two, four, or six years depending on your situation. Elections are expensive. Luckily there are sponsors who will foot the bill. For a fee of course. The NRA is one such group. But there are many others. You may not want them on your side, but you sure as hell don’t want them to actively oppose you. Better to be quiet. So a deal has been made. One with murderous consequences yet a deal to be kept none the less.

And the public is fine with it. Most Americans have shunned the public square. Oh, some will rant and rave on Facebook spouting opinions delivered to them from their spanking new High Def TV. It will be patently liberal or conservative and penned with conviction. No opposing views will be entertained because the ‘other’ side is either evil, stupid, or, in most cases, both.

Perhaps 40% of the public will show up to the polls on election day but most come with little conviction nowadays. Even the FB lot. So the political class goes about it’s business, keeping up appearances when necessary. “We need to take action head on to defeat (fill in the blank) or “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” These quotes, easily found in newspapers throughout the land, are dismissed by many. But they are apparently successful. Most elections have a 90% success rate for incumbents. 80% is akin to a political upheaval.

So the America of today is America normal. Get used to it. Don’t despair. Perhaps a new generation possessed of compassion, ideals, and integrity will emerge from the rubble of crass commercialism, corruption, and deception as best exemplified by Hillary & Trump. Can’t get any worse I suppose.

The Hillary Administration

Or can it? Actually, I am really starting to warm to the idea of Hill as POTUS. This administration could be the most wild ride of excess, corruption, ineptitude and public deceit that will make the decaying corpse of Richard Millhouse Nixon crack a smile. Where to start? How about the Clinton Global Initiative! Bill is wheeling and dealing like a Roman emperor. Absolutely loved the way he stepped onto the tarmac and made the Hill’s homebrew server fiasco disappear. That was lay your dick on the table moment. Bubba’s still got clout. And oh the ladies dig power. Bill is back. And so am I.

Other intriguing dramas await as well. Who pulls the first Vince Foster? Can this story be too far off: “Clinton aide (fill in name) tragically had a boating accident off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard yesterday evening…” Huma, don’t go anywhere near Chappaquiddick! Trust me on this, girl.

And isn’t this what America really deserves? Isn’t this what we really want? I am all in! Scandals, unexplained deaths, corruption on epic levels! It is better than House of Cards and you know it, want it, need it

The Parent Trap

Went new car shopping the other day. Took my 7 year old daughter. I loved going new car shopping with my dad and this was Megan’s first rodeo. “What should I do?” she asked. “Your job is to pick out the color,” I replied. Her eyes lit up! We went first to the Mitsubishi dealership. I walked around from model to model. Meggie took to her job enthusiastically. I then sat down at the table to negotiate a price. The finance man set to his calculator and engaged with what seemed to be a significant equation to arrive at a ‘fair’ sum for my trade in. I looked at Meg. “How about the color?”

She leaned back in her chair, took a sip from the cocoa, and sighed. “This is going to be tougher than I thought, Dad.”

“Really. How so?” I asked a bit intrigued.

“They don’t have pink!”

I held my relief close. Just as a tip for all young parents, be careful when you assign your kid with a seemingly benign task. Not sure if I believe in fate, but when we left the dealership and headed off to check out Ford the first song that came on was Bruce’s Pink Cadillac. 

The Sports Page

Congrats to LeBron & the Cavs! Cleveland’s first championship since the days of Jim Brown. It was an epic Finals performance for a player who has earned the right to be in the conversation with Larry Legend, Magic, & Michael. I came across an interesting story just the other day. The conversation centered around the greatest team ever. Magic pounded the table for his ’87 Lakers. Larry steadfastly maintained his ’86 Celtics would have beaten any challenger. Well, here’s an excerpt:

The flurry of protests continued, with five of the greatest players in NBA history [Bird, Johnson, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing] sparring over their own place in basketball history. Magic was indignant at the suggestion that the best team could be anyone other than his 1987 Lakers, the team he had determined was the finest of his title years. Larry was steadfast  that his ’86 Celtics squad was beyond compare.

“Put me with Kareem, James Worthy, Coop [Michael Cooper] and Byron Scott, and we’ dominate your Bulls team,” Magic claimed.

Barkley was about to chime in again, but Bird, taking a slug of his beer, shot his hand up.

“Quiet,” Bird said. “Charles, you ain’t won anything. You’re out of this discussion. Ahmad [Rashad, who was covering the 1992 Olympics for NBC], same thing. You’re gone. Patrick, you don’t have any championships either, so you need to shut up and sit down right here and learn some things.”

Barkley, subdued by the unfortunate reality of his basketball résumé, wandered off. Ewing, who had once considered Bird a bitter adversary but would develop an unusual kinship with him during their Olympic experience, dutifully sat on the bench next to his new friend.

Clearly, LeBron can chime in!

Kevin Durant is now off to a phenomenal Golden State Warrior team. He wants in on the conversation highlighted above. Some have criticized him for not sticking it out and building his own championship squad in Oklahoma City. Lets see, be young rich and famous in the Bay Area or in Oklahoma City. Seems like an easy choice to me.

It is All Star Week! This has been a stellar MLB season so far. The Chicago Cubs are out to end a 100+ year championship drought. The Boston Red Sox are stocked with young talent that is coming together at the same time while gray beard David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz is having a final season for the ages. Young Studs like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper harken back to those legendary Boys of Summer days of yore when Mantle & Mays patrolled the outfield. Clayton Kershaw remains otherworldly and the Yankees suck. Yes, there is much to celebrate!! I look forward to the remainder of the season which should almost guarantee a great October Classic!!

Celluloid Heroes

Hollywood for the last decade or so has been more about bringing comic books to life than creating thoughtful and provocative fare. However, I did come across a movie the other night that is exactly that. Prisoners is a 2013 film starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. The story revolves around Jackman’s daughter and a friend being kidnapped. It is a powerful film and the two stars give powerful performances. Jackman’s is especially evoking as he explores the depths a father will go to bring his child back to safety. Gyllenhaal as well digs deep to give a thoughtful and measured performance as the detective assigned to the case. Directed by Denis Villeneuve this movie has a nice pace allowing the plot to develop while letting the actors explore their well drawn out characters. Highly recommended!

The funny thing is that this film was also highly successful. Made on a budget of 35 milion it has, to date, grossed more than 130 million. Or about what it cost to make Spiderman 17.

The Finale

Pictured above I am standing with a dear friend who has been taken from us this year. Mama Noi was one of a kind and someone whose memory will not fade quietly. I am currently writing a novel titled The Beauty of Isaan about her life and times. The kernel of the story was hatched from a short story of the same name that can be read in Kevin S. Cummings iconic book Bangkok Beat which can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Bangkok-Beat-Kevin-Cummings/dp/0692396454

That is it for now! I’ll try to be more interesting next time. Have a great July!!

 

 

The Locke Report: June Addition

Observations:

Like most writers I am an observer. Body language can tell us so much as can the eyes and the flame that burns within. Or has been extinguished. I wrote about this years ago in a post titled Sam Collins: Lust For Life. The older you get, and thanks to the internet age, observations change. It is easy to make judgements or, perhaps, better put, glean information on a life lived, by comparing a person’s eyes and smile set a couple of decades apart. I am happy to say I still have the lust for life. Yet it is so sad when you see a friend who has clearly lost that battle called life.

I bring this up because recently a young university grad strolled through my test preparation center abound with life. Her eyes and wide smile can literally engulf you. She is at the starting line. Gifted with beauty, wit, and charisma, you would place good money a bright future awaits. And I pray it does. But life has a way of wearing down the most promising of individuals. Bad choices, both professional and personal, can be a wrecking ball and before you know it, some twenty years down the road, a blank lifeless stare has replaced a once vibrant gaze.

We’ll call this girl Bonnie. Bonnie from Lamphun. And to the point, I am a writer, an observer, so Bonnie will be an integral character in the upcoming Sam Collins Mystery: Murder in Milton. I am rooting for Bonnie. Both the real and the fictitious.

Why?

I am not going to go through a long drawn out analysis of the Hillary email fiasco. She used a private server to conduct public business. That is pretty much it cut and dried. So the what and how are clear. As is the fact she has been the subject of an FBI criminal investigation due to this. But the why is confounding. We can be fairly confident she is at least somewhat intelligent. And a graduate of Yale Law to boot. Certainly she is surrounded by competent people. I think. So the controversy, and subsequent investigation, can come as no surprise. Then why do it? What was (is?) there to keep closeted away from view? Whatever nefarious, or embarrassing, activities that made this covert action necessary must well be worth it however. Will Hill be indicted? No. She’s too high up for that. Still, the Donald will have a field day with it. Should be fun to watch!

Black Lives Matter

But not as much as a lilly white Stanford swim team member. This twenty year old dapper preppie soph went to a college party a couple of years back. Brock Allen Turner is his name. He set his eyes on a cute young co-ed. He proceeded to woo her outside. She was a bit tipsy, but what’s wrong with making out on the lawn. Good old Brock went to work with all his charm. He violently raped the poor girl penetrating her physically and with a foreign object. In a matter of moments he shattered a young lady’s life, dreams, and hopes.

Turner was arrested, charged with several counts of sexual assault and rape. A jury found him guilty. The judge sentenced him to two years. Two YEARS. WTF!!

Now, for arguments sake, change the color of the young man to black. Lets call him Reggie. Reggie be doing some serious hard time. Black lives matter! Just not as much as a pasty white letterman.

Black Lives Matter II

You may have heard of the young kid who fell into the lap of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo last week. How could you have not? The gorilla, Hurambi, in an attempt to save the kid, was shot. Shot Dead. The public and media outcry was tsunami like. Hurambi has become a cause celebre for many a Hollywood ‘A’ lister looking for a new cause.

On the same day, Memorial Day, 6 black men were gunned down in the streets of Chicago. Five more on the mean Detroit pavement. Killadelphia tallied 3. You most likely are unawares of those events. 14 black men gunned down in the stark light of day. Little to no media coverage. Why?

Well, Black Lives Do Matter! Just not as much as a Gorilla named Hurambi.

The Juke Box

Rock Bottom: Live at the Bottom Line. It has been almost 20 years since Dave Davies, founding member of The Kinks, released this barnburner of a hard rock live album. Perhaps finally being released from the shadow of his legendary brother, Dave was able to give free reign to his animal aggression. On these nights at New York’s Bottom Line in 1997, he and his young band were on absolute fire, cooking up hard rocking renditions of Kinks classics, some penned by brother Ray, with an equal measure of Dave’s own work thrown in. Demonstrating how real rock & roll is played, the band starts out jumping with “I Need You,” follows with the kick of “She’s Got Everything,” and only gets better. “Wicked Annabella,” “Picture Book,” and “Death of a Clown” are more than nostalgic mid-set showings. After 24 songs, they unbelievably blaze through two rock-kid anthems, “David Watts” and “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” and they even manage to suck another life out of the heavier than heavy monster riff of “You Really Got Me.” One half of a brother act shouldn’t be allowed to be this good.

Here is one sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87kPmqIHO5s

You can purchase the album here: http://www.amazon.com/Live-Bottom-Line-DAVE-DAVIES/dp/B00004TJ95

 

My Corner

Seven day work-weeks, 12 hour work-days, pen to paper trying to knock out my 5th novel (The Beauty of Isaan) so I can dive into my 6th effort (Murder in Milton: A Suffolk Resolve), keeping up with my beyond sexy and dynamic wife not to mention two energetic and talented kids all adds up to an awesome slice of this magnificent rock. Along the way I was able to take a trek into the Big Smoke. Hung out with the always interesting Mike Lekitch and found a bar stool alongside the always engaging Jim Algie. Algie has a novel coming out soon! I’ll keep you posted. No pissing away your life on my corner. Make it work! Make it happen!! Make it worthwhile!!!

That is all I’ve got. I’ll try to be more interesting next time. Have a Great June!

 

 

 

The Locke Report: May Edition

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The Parent Trap:

Was hanging out with my kids the other day in the family room. Mostly goofing around with my son Hunter and his new Tonka Truck. Such nonsense doesn’t interest my daughter. She was engrossed with her tablet. Well, dads with their boys tend to make a bit of noise.

Exasperated, Megan looked up. “Will you boys please keep it down. I’m trying to watch a smart thing.”

Impressed, I agreed. “Great, Honey. What are you watching?”

“Well,” she said, “I can’t really tell you with all the noise you are making, can I?”

Hunter shrugged his shoulders. We did our best. Megan set off in a huff just a few minutes later. However, she did come back to pepper me with questions about Pompeii. “So sad, Daddy, about the rock people.” Yep, those are my kids.

If It’s Tuesday, There Must Be A Primary:

Indeed. This week was much like every other. The good people of West Virginia have spoken. Bernie Wins! And again the cry is sounded: Bernie, for the sake of the party, get out. You cannot win.

Next week is on to Kentucky. I hope, for Hilliam’s sake, there aren’t too many coal miners living in them hills. I hate to say this. And I might be wrong, but isn’t the coal miner’s daughter from Kentucky. You Ain’t Woman Enough may well be the call Hilliam hears. We’ll see.

Because these weekly losses have to start hurting at some point. Funny too. Trump was mocked, derided, & laughed at (rightfully so) as the most clownish of the 16 Pub wannabes only a few months ago. He’s cleared the field out, the last clown standing. Hill had one opponent. A 74 year old socialist Jew with little national name recognition and less cash. Think about that for a minute. I’ll go grab a beer. Uhmm, tasty! Love my Beer Laos. I see by the look of incredulity you are at a quandary. Its true. Hill got her arse kicked by a 74 year old Jew in the state of West Virginia. What’s the over under of Jews in the state? 1,000. No wonder Dem Party officials want the Bern to go away.

The Bern is a legit Rock Star. He sells out stadiums. Hilliam looked to set up a small rally in last week in the eastern part of W. Va. She was told to stay out. By Democrats. “Too dangerous,” Hill’s staff was told. I guess they didn’t take too well to this: “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and their companies out of business.” Though later she did say: “I’m sorry if you misunderstood what I really meant.” That shit doesn’t sell out Stadiums. The coal miner’s daughter understands that!

Sports, Evolution, & Cyrogenics:

Boban Marjanovic! Now my favorite NBA player. Here is his player page:  https://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/5524/ Go have a look while I refill my mug. This guy was cut out of ice. I am telling you, cut out of ice. You know what type of ice? Like when scientists find a frozen woolly mammoth in the higher reaches of the Alps. That type of ice. Well they found a mammoth all right! With his neck snapped and Boban laying right beside him. This dude’s a caveman. A caveman that would put the fear of the gods into a mammoth. I want the Celtics to sign him! Pay him whatever and tell him to go out and give six good mammoth fouls a night. I’d pay to see that. “Boban, you see him? He’s Lebron, an African mammoth.” C’mon. You’ll go too!!

Congrats to Steph Curry! The first unanimous MVP. Deserved it. Went for 40 last night coming off an injury. He doesn’t need Boban. He’ll take down the African mammoth all by himself.

I’ll get into Baseball next month. You heard it here first, watch out for my BoSox. And Steven Wright!! Trust me on this.

Ok, that’s it and I’ll try to be better next time. Super busy this month. The office is cooking and The Beauty of Isaan is the latest novel in the pipeline. Remember, whatever you are doing, have fun & live it to the max…

The Locke Report: April Edition

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The Front Page: The Death of democracy

At least in America. Yep, Dem is on life support.I was thinking of writing an expansive in-depth essay to support my premise. Then I thought of a way to get straight to the point. Hillary Clinton Vs. Donald Trump. Think of that matchup for a minute. I’ll wait. Waiting… Ah, I see by that dour look on your face the reality has set in. How did that happen? One a person very familiar with Bankrupt court and the other the central target of an FBI criminal investigation.

The strongest argument for Hilliam presidency, one that is being put forward with conviction, is she’s better than the alternative. Take another minute. The best attribute Hilliam has is she is not The Donald. On the face of it that is correct. It is her biggest strength. There is nothing of any substance Hill has accomplished over the past twenty something years. Put a lot of black dudes behind bars I guess. Royally fucked up Libya. Not much to the good however.

Lets dig deeper shall we. Having Bill back in the White House is a huge plus worth investigating though. Clinton Inc. not only will have 24/7 access to the cookie jar, it will own the cookie jar. Oh, sure, be my guest, another minute to digest certainly. There is one big juicy financial scandal just waiting to explode. And Bill, a stickmaster with the best of them, will have his hand in another jar. Let’s face it, Monica was a bit of an embarrassment. A somewhat lumpy intern. No, I promise, Bill will be on his game. A dark curvy Indonesian United Nations attache? Word on the street (wouldn’t you like to know which one! Sorry, the Locke Report keeps it’s sources close to the hip) has it that Bill digs the Eastern Euro look.  That’s why he spends so much time in Canada. Its an absolute candy store in Vancouver nowadays.

So, if the thought of Hilliam and her tantrums ravaging the Oval Office, let alone the rampant corruption that will come with it, has you down, the idea of Bill having run of the house has to give you at least a bit of solace. Should be fun. You know Bill is up for it too. Only one problem. The Donald can kick her arse. She may be a tough leathery old broad, but she sucks at politics.

The heart is beating, there is Bernie, you say. I know. And that is a sense comfort. But remember, Bernie wants to smash the cookie jar! Hell, that alone has the Koch Brothers jumping into bed with that leathery old broad. No, I am afraid it is time to call a priest. Let us simply enjoy the Clinton Follies.

Tinseltown:

Congrats to Leo DiCaprio! Leo took home the hardware at February’s Academy Awards. Great actor. Dying to see Revenant. His work in the Aviator was top shelf. The Departed (I wrote that in my Boston accent so please read it as such) rocked. I am a Leo fan. I was rooting for fellow Bostonian Matt Damon but whatever. In any case, he is Jason Bourne so nobody’s got it better than Matt.

One bone to pick with Leo. Apparently he went all global warming and save the planet during his acceptance speech. First of all, get over yourself. Second, while your facts may well be accurate, perhaps you are not the dude who should be spreading the message. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts his after Oscar parties probably used enough wattage to keep my small riverside village in perpetual light for the rest of the decade. Finally, Leo, bang your starlets and supermodels, enjoy your growing stickman status, continue to turn out awesome flicks, and shut up.

George Clooney and Hilliam got together for dinner the other night. I could have gone too. The 350,000 check was a bit steep for me though. Yeah, things are going good but its best to fly under the radar. In any case, the timing was all off. Especially seeing as I couldn’t pick the joint. Look, I get it. Cash is King in American politics these days. If you want a shard of light to peek through that door green gold is the way. And I really dig Clooney as well! Seems like a good guy along with Leo. But, also, like Leo, shut up. After the meal, and a touch of heartburn, he shrugged his shoulders, flashed his toothy smile, and said: “Hey, I get it! I agree. There is too much money in politics.”

Oh well. No matter. I am still rooting for another Ocean’s movie. And why not? How many dudes wearing Halloween costumes do we need to see?

And maybe there is the death of democracy. We have an infantile adult class still fixated with adolescence they give scant attention to the fact that the country is crumbling around them.

 

The Sports Page:

Spring has sprung! Yep, baseball is here again! 2016 is shaping up as a, perhaps, historic season. Why? A couple of reasons actually. First, the crop of young stars is the best in a generation. Led by Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, this group of young phenoms provides a reason to turn on your TV and open up a box of Crackerjacks on a nightly basis. Second, the Red Sox are trending up and the Yanks down! Ok, that last bit isn’t historic but should put at least brief grin on a nation beset with Clinton and Trump. ‘Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio, …‘ By the way, Joe D would vote for Bernie! Again, I have my sources.

Lets All Raise A Glass,‘ to the Golden State Warriors. 73-9! Spectacular is an understatement. Best non-Celtic team ever? We’ll see. Steph Curry is injured however so no popping corks yet.

Celluloid Heroes:

I hope everybody enjoyed last week’s interview with the King of the Mekong Delta Blues, Christopher Minko. Here again are the links. It can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Mekong-Delta-Blues-Krom/dp/B01CKIPSPQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1460977800&sr=1-2-mp3-albums-bar-strip-0&keywords=Krom

Rumor has it a super concert is being planned including the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, The Who, & Neil Young. Count me as unimpressed. First of all, these guys are old. Like 70 pushing 80 old. Home nursing old. Depends old. If Paul loses track of his bass, LSD won’t be to blame.

It is what it is, I suppose. A payday.

There it is. All I got! I’ll try to be better next time.

The Locke Report: Krom Edition

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A long hot summer, the office running at full capacity, continued work on my latest novel (The Beauty of Isaan), a young and energetic family, have all kept me from my monthly Locke Report.
I’ll rev back up with a special piece centered around the musical phenomena known as Krom. Led by Christopher Minko, this musical act is a unique combination of Delta blues and traditional Cambodian folk music. Let’s just call it the Mekong Delta Blues. The musicianship is of such great quality Krom has been signed to a record deal with a music label which shares Krom’s world view. Musik and Film, certainly you have an eye for exciting talent. I have been a fan of Krom’s for quite some time now. First, the music is gritty. Second, the vocals of Sophea Chamroeun add magic dust over the sometime grim themes Krom is not afraid to investigate.
Let us have  chat with Christopher, shall we!
The music of Krom reflects a journey. It has an unusual combination of grit, wisdom, & youthfulness. Can you tell us where the core of Krom comes from?
Thom – my thanks for both the interview and the ongoing interest and support to Krom – you’ve been great – I have read your excellent novels and great to be working with you here: to your question about the core of Krom: Being totally honest, I can’t really answer this question and often ask myself the same question – The best I can do is say it comes from a multitude of factors: an intense musical upbringing (ever ongoing gratitude to my mother for the classical music upbringing during my youth) and an ever ongoing passion for real and quality music that tends to rule supreme/ a myriad of life experiences gained through international travel and admittedly often traveling into the darker corners of humanity ( I am not an innocent man…) / a lifelong commitment to social justice and related issues / years of working with Cambodia’s most marginalized: the disabled, and I simply believe in the final analysis, the music of Krom emanates from somewhere deep inside that rather dark and oft twisted soul of Minko. Even being the old cynic that I am, I must admit that I do find something mystical about Krom – how it all came together, the special musical relationship with Sophea, Cambodia and its recent dark past and so on –there is something and I honestly can’t answer what that something is,…and that’s probably a good thing.
Christopher Minko is the driving force behind Krom’s music and rise to regional fame. How did this all come together for you & your band mates?
I’ve been living in Cambodia for the past 20 years and previous to that I lived in Thailand for 5 years in the late 80’s early 90’s. My Thai wife and mother of my now 23 year old daughter Anya, passed away in late 2010 and in acknowledgment of a special woman who had played such a key role in my life including introducing me to Asia and its many, varied and oft just plain damn confusing cultural norms, I swore a promise at her temple in Bangkok that I would do a 14 track album dedicated to her memory. The result was Krom’s 1st album “Songs from the Noir”. Whilst recording the first album I needed female vocals on some tracks and was introduced to Sophea Chamroeun via the legendary Cambodian Living Arts program. Sophea immediately did the vocals on “The Ying” perfectly in one take and from that moment on a very remarkable musical relationship between two people came into being and Krom was born with other krom members being Sophea’s sister Sopheak on harmony and lead vocals, my old mate of 30 plus years, Jimmy Baeck on slide, accordion and sax and our latest member Mao Sokleap on keyboards. Krom is a family. 
While you provide the soul, Sophia balances that with the aesthetic beauty of her voice. Simply put, she is to Cambodian music what Kate Bush is to England’s scene. Can you describe your artistic relationship?
I am very fortunate and privileged to have this musical partnership with Sophea whom I regard as a major talent within the Cambodian musical and arts scene- It is one of those magical musical partnerships where little is spoken as both of us seem to understand intuitively what the other is doing and seeking to achieve on a musical level and the results I believe speak for themselves. It’s a very productive musical relationship that waltzes effortlessly between lyrics portraying the darkness of Asia’s ragged and dangerous underbelly and the beauty of a sweet mekong love song. Sophea and I have developed our own musical methodology which ensures total creative freedom for Sophea within the musical compositional framework and it is Sophea’s unique vocal interpretations and ability to vocally work with, and respond to, the Minko guitar delta picking which creates that singular and original sound that we call the sound of Krom or a kromsong. Sophea and her sister, fellow krom vocalist Sopheak are regarded as leading singers in Cambodia in both modern and traditional musical forms. Sophea, I believe, is also the first Cambodian singer to take on, within a musical context, the very tough and uncomfortable social issues of sex trafficking, prostitution, poverty and its humiliating consequence and this is something that is not easy for her within a Cambodian context as it is a highly conservative society based on ancient traditions and I have great respect for her courage in this regard. Also the journey of any band is not easy particually now days in an industry nowadays predominately dominated by hype and very little musical substance. Krom are very stubborn, adamantly acoustic and we live by our golden rule of; “Judge us by our Music and our Music only” – Sophea (and Sopheak, Jimmy and Sokleap) has been fantastic in her commitment to Krom and I respect her highly for hanging in with me over, what is now, a 5 year journey, with, I believe, an exciting future for Krom looming.
This current album is spectacular. You made my New Year’s Eve when you sent me over some cuts for a listen. You ended 2015 for me with a bang along with an inspirational launch for 2016. What does this album mean to you?
Firstly – many thanks for the kind words about the third album “Mekong Delta Blues” which to me represent a quantum leap forward for Krom. Each song has been carefully crafted over a 14 month period and I am truly delighted at the mix / mastering work of Jey Mayberry of our new label Music and Film – it’s a truly beautiful and magnificent sound he has achieved with great musical sensitivity shown on all tracks – in many ways it is the sound of Krom that I have been looking for. The album also represents another leap forward with the introduction of new Krom member Mao Sokleap who provides wonderful and innovative keyboard works on many of the tracks. I also believe that this album really brings the remarkable vocals talents of Sophea to the fore as will be heard on the tracks “From the Heart” and “Cambodia” and her sister Sopheak continues to provide superb harmony vocals as always along with taking lead vocals on the album’s title track Mekong Delta Blues. In addition, for many years and through the Krom albums, I have sought to create a signature genre sound which I call the contemporary Mekong Delta Blues – years have been spent listening to the Mekong River and I believe that this is the sound that I have been working towards – the sound of the Mekong and the life spawned by this majestic river – the sound of Krom – the sound of the Mekong Delta Blues – and while I am here – I do humbly acknowledge the music of Robert Johnston and John Fahey in the development of this sound. We are also absolutely delighted, as a band, to have signed recently with the reputable, well established USA label Musik and Film who are releasing the new album along with remastering / releasing the first 2 albums (Songs from the Noir + Neon Dark). They are great to work with, have done brilliant production on the new album and they are now planning tours for Krom internationally including Canada, USA, Europe and Australia. We feel comfortable and at home with Musik and Film as we move Krom forwards towards the international market.
There you have it. Look for my review of Mekong Delta Blues in the April Locke Report. It can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Mekong-Delta-Blues-Krom/dp/B01CKIPSPQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1460977800&sr=1-2-mp3-albums-bar-strip-0&keywords=Krom
And a tour! Brilliant!! But there is more! A documentary has recently  been released. Here is a trailer:
This glimpse will surely leave you hungry for more Krom and gives you an insight of the depth that Christopher investigates and the trained artistic skill in which Sophea can deliver it.

 

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