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Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!
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This is 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings of the same song and vote for the one you like best. A new Battle gets posted on the 15th of each month and six days later, on the 21st, I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.
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Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of 'DOG BITE High Gravity Lager' (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!
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[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Friday, December 1, 2017

THE LAST OF THE MOJITOS (Or, VIRGINIA CITY: WORST AND LAST HANGOVERS) -- Part 2

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This is Part Two. Part One can be found HERE, and you really should read that first, otherwise even this blog bit's title won't fully make sense to you.
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This woman's voice is almost like a dog whistle but she's kinda cute, so cut her some slack, eh?...
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Virginia City Is The Wild West
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI8-72-v0HI


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For some time, things had been occurring which I interpreted to be signs from God indicating that I should return to strict sobriety. I had also come to realize that alcohol was restricting my Spiritual walk. Furthermore, even the slightest amount of alcohol usually strangled my ability to dream, and I considered my dream life to be a significant component of my Spiritual life. 
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I might make jokes about those "signs" -- as I did in the following text, which I sent to my friend Trainyard Julio -- but deep down, I knew that eventually I would need to face up to those signs and respond to them.
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So, I'm at the Palace Saloon, having a cold Mojito, when an ad comes on the TV screen about an organization called "Make America Sober Again". Quite obviously a Communist plot of some sort. I'm sure Les Nessman will get to the bottom of it.
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But I finally reached that point when I knew the decision needed to be made. I am determined to NOT let anything interfere with my reAlationship with God and my Big Brother Savior, Christ Yeshua!
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I decided to go up to Virginia City again for one last round of saloon-hopping and then and there, return to a life of strict sobriety. So, on the morning of 11/24/2017, I drove up Geiger Grade and checked into an 1870s hotel:
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After meditating in the Miner's Park, I spent the first half of the day exploring the sites I love so dearly. And then at about 2 PM, I ordered a beer and began my final party.
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Please go saloon-hopping with me now, as we retrace reweave my final night of liquidated fun:
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First, I had a pint of Cerveza Chilebeso, probably my favorite beer of all time, at the Virginia City Brewery And Taphouse, and that got the party started...
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Next, I went across the street to the recently opened Cigar & Bar and swapped real-life ghost stories with the bartender while I drank a Scotch & Soda...
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After that, I walked 1.5 to 2 miles down to the Gold Hill Hotel Saloon and had a Margarita followed by two Modelo Negra beers...
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Trudging 1.5 or 2 miles back up the hill to Virginia City, I stopped in at the Silver Queen Saloon for a Hot Buttered Rum. Yes, I know about not mixing too many different kinds of alcohol but... I didn't care.
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Then I headed up to B Street and one of my favorite watering holes in Virginia City -- the Old Corner Bar -- to see Lisa, my favorite bartender in Virginia City. I sent the following text to beer brother Trainyard Julioaka 6-B and Bryan Pedas:
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Utilizing my White privilege, I just ordered a White Russian at the Old Corner Bar. I would have ordered a Black Russian, but a gang of them kicked my ass one night in Kentucky in 1983, and I've avoided 'em ever since. 
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He responded with this funny text:
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Just watch out, comrade. In communist Old Corner, White Russian drinks you.
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Ha!-Ha! Well, he was right! Lisa made that White Russian good and strong, and it went down so nicely, so deliciously, that I ordered TWO MORE!! I tipped Lisa $20 and walked out of the Old Corner Bar...
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At this point, I was no longer feeling the pain of life, but I still felt I owed myself one more beer. So, walking back down to C Street from B Street, I stopped in at the Mark Twain Saloon and drank another Modelo Negra...
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I seriously debated returning to the Virginia City Brewery And Taphouse for a final Cerveza Chilebeso, but I finally 86'ed that idea and returned to my 1870s hotel for the night. Good thing, too. Because despite sleeping pretty well, I still woke up with a hangover. It wasn't an A-List E-Ticket hangover like the old days, but I'm older now and any hangover of any degree is no bueno! 
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Shortly after The Palace Restaurant & Saloon opened at 11:00 AM on Saturday, November 25th, I went in for the previously planned final 2 drinks. I ordered some Mozzarella Cheese Sticks with their wonderful Ranch Dressing and a Blackberry Mojito. I'd never had the Blackberry variety before, and it was delicious. But I had to sip and eat slowly to make sure everything stayed down, boy, DOWN!
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An hour later, I ordered The Last Of The Mojitos -- the regular lime type -- in a plastic to-go cup, and I headed to a semi-secluded special spot of mine, away from C Street and the tourists. There's a place in a small half-circle of trees in a barren area where a telephone pole has fallen between two piles of mine tailings, creating a kind of "log bench".
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There I poured the remainder of my Mojito into my silver cup...
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...and just as I did back on September 22, 1995, I had my last drink (again) and returned to strict sobriety for Spiritual purposes. 
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Interestingly, as I was enjoying the last sips of The Last Of The Mojitos, a HAWK seemed to appear out of nowhere and began circling in the sky before me, while squawking loudly. At first, I thought maybe it was a mama Hawk and I was too near her nest. But, heck, the trees were all barren and it was late November. There couldn't be a nest.
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Then I got the idea that maybe this Hawk was a sign from God, squawking approval of my decision to quit drinking again. I thought to myself: If this is a sign from God or Christ, the Hawk would fly over me. I had barely completed the thought when the Hawk completed its last circle before me and flew DIRECTLY over my head. I looked STRAIGHT UP at it thinking: WOW!!! ...And then my second thought was: I hope it doesn't poop on me. 
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The Hawk then started flying East toward Sugarloaf Mountain...
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...and when it was near the Mountain, suddenly a Second Hawk appeared from somewhere and the Two Hawks joined each other in the sky and continued flying East until they both became mere dots on the horizon and disappeared from my view.
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The Father and The Son... Anyone familiar with the Biblical Law of Two Witnesses understands what that was all about. I got it immediately, and was very grateful.
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And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
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Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
~ Matthew 26:26-29
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Looks like I'm returning to Hot Buttered Nothings for Christmas from now on.
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But I'll leave you with some Fun Facts:
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Not only was Virginia City the richest and most important mining town in American West history (the North would have lost the Civil War without it), which gave us Mark Twain and even the beautiful, mystical love story 'Somewhere In Time', it was actually the real birthplace of Psychedelic Rock in the 1960s! (See the videos below.)
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Red Dog Saloon (documentary excerpt)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQKlhKFeO3U


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Red Dog Saloon (documentary excerpt)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeQ-enoKwLI


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There's just something very, very special about Virginia City, Nevada, and I believe souls that have lived there in previous lifetimes return to it time and time again.
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Somehow, the lovely Squeek Steele managed to capture the magic of Virginia City in the haunting melody of her 'Virginia City Waltz'...
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-X1ZLb2T0Q


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If you ever have the opportunity, be sure to visit this magical place. Look here and see what you're missing...
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VisitVirginiaCityNV YouTube Channel
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Thursday, November 30, 2017

THE LAST OF THE MOJITOS (Or, VIRGINIA CITY: WORST AND LAST HANGOVERS) -- Part One

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[Virginia City, Nevada] was a busy city of streets and houses above ground. Under it was another busy city, down in the bowels of the earth, where a great population of men thronged in and out among an intricate maze of tunnels and drifts, flitting hither and thither under a winking sparkle of lights, and over their heads towered a vast web of interlocking timbers that held the walls of the gutted Comstock apart. These timbers were as large as a man's body, and the framework stretched upward so far that no eye could pierce to its top through the closing gloom. It was like peering up through the clean-picked ribs and bones of some colossal skeleton. [...] Taken as a whole, the underground city had some thirty miles of streets and a population of five or six thousand. 
~ Mark Twain
'Roughing It', 1872; Chapter LII
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Virginia City Waltz by Squeek Steele
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I know nearly every inch of Virginia City, Nevada, because it's my favorite place on the planet. Yeah, I'm lowbrow and lovin' it! 
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The first time I was in Virginia City in this lifetime was 1972 or '73. I have gone back so many times that I couldn't even begin to calculate it. I'd probably been there at least 12 times even before I moved to Reno -- which I did primarily to be within 30 minutes of Virginia City. I own at least 17 books and 2 DVD/VHS programs about VA City!
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My previous blog bit 'bout the place can be found HERE.
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Virginia City Destination Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFJ7GzQHYaM

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If that video was a bit too tame for your Wild West cowboy or cowgirl spirit, try this next one. And watch for the brief shot of the lovely Squeek Steele painting soundscapes with the piano...
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Virginia City -- Special Events
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3TVjmYWn5Y


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One morning in 1986, I woke up in a Reno motel room with the worst hangover of my life. Imagine the worst hangover YOU'VE ever had. Multiply it a godzillion and six times!! Now you're in the ballpark. I got as far as the Sugarloaf Mountain Motel in Virginia City. It was probably about 10:00 AM and my day was already done. I rented a room and spent the rest of that day on my back, staring at the popcorn ceiling.
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However, that was before my 1994 encounter with Christ Yeshua. On September 22, 1995, I took a final sip of wine from my silver cup and not a drop of alcohol crossed my lips after that for over 6 years. 
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I can't remember why I started drinking again. I can't even remember where I was or what I drank. I just know that I climbed down off that wagon after 6+ years. 
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In 2017, the Hula Girls socks that FAE gave me became my official Virginia City footwear...
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I made many happy trips up there this year and had a good time visiting my favorite haunts and saloons. (My truck, Chuck, was a real trooper! Never once let me down!!) 
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On several occasions, I texted friends from up there and later wrote to them about Virginia City in Emails. Below are excerpts from some of those writings:
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Amusing signs I've seen in VA City...

"Body Piercings By Glock"

"DOG: Depend On God"

At the Palace Saloon there's a sign that says...

"My Reality Check Bounced"

There's also a store on C Street selling T-shirts that say...

"A.T.F. : Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 
Who's bringing the chips?"


"My Indian Name Is Runs-With-Beer"
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Damn, man, I love this place! I'm at the Old Corner Bar again -- where  Sam Clemens became "Mark Twain" -- and the guy next to me orders a drink but tells the bartender not to make it too strong because he has to attend a wedding in an hour.
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The Bartender: "Are you the Best Man?"
Customer: "No, I'm the minister."
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100% true. No joke!
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Now then, you remember me texting you while I was having a drink in The Old Corner Bar? I said it was the place where Samuel Clemens acquired the pen name Mark Twain. Well, I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this to you before or not, but... The Old Corner Bar is attached to Piper's Opera House. While visiting Virginia City as a tourist, writer Richard Matheson was captivated by a photograph of the 1800s actress Maude Adams hanging on a wall inside Piper's Opera House. As he stared at the photo, a story began developing in his mind. That story became a novel which became the movie SOMEWHERE IN TIME.
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One of the regulars who live up there in VA City is this guy who plays an old miner character. He has a donkey and for $1.00 you can feed carrots to his donkey and get your picture taken.

He wanders around a bit on C Street, the main street in town, where all the tourists are, but I'd say he spends 80% of his time at a particular intersection.

So, anyway, the miner was standing there on his usual corner and he was talking to a couple of people. I guess they were asking about posing with him or something. And the miner had let go of the reins attached to the donkey's bridle. As he's yakking with the tourists, behind him, the donkey starts to wander off and walks right out into the middle of C Street. Thankfully it's a 20 MPH speed limit on C Street, and no one even came close to hitting the donkey.

But when the miner turned around and saw his donkey in the middle of the street and crossing over toward the other side, he got mad. He runs out there, snatches the reins and starts berating the donkey for being such "a stupid so-and-so", and so forth.
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As I was walking past the miner and donkey -- maybe four or five minutes after the donkey had wandered away and gotten yelled at for it -- I noticed that the miner was talking softly into the donkey's ear and apologizing for having lost his temper and yelling at him.
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Ha!-Ha! Only in Virginia City, man! So many characters there!
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This concludes Part One. Part Two can be found [link:> HERE.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

BOTB RESULTS -- 2017, NOV. 15: Or, RANDY NEWMAN VERSUS WAYLON JENNINGS

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First things first... I sincerely thank each one of you who took the time to listen, think, and write in your vote votes on my latest installment of BATTLE OF THE BANDS (BOTB). It was a nice 20-voter turnout! And I again wish to thank Sixgun McItchyfinger whose suggestion that I return to the "Battle For Los Angeles" concept was the inspiration for this fun contest!
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It was Randy Newman's 'I LOVE L.A.' versus Waylon Jennings' 'HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH TO LIVE IN L.A.?' The yin vs. the yang. Both songs and accompanying videos were competing against each other. Although I personally like BOTH Songs and BOTH Videos, I figured in the latter category, Randy had a huge advantage since his video was professionally produced and got heavy airplay in the years of "Music Television" (MTV). Is there anybody who hadn't seen it before? Doubtful.

One thing I find curious about Randy Newman's video for I LOVE L.A. is the fact that he included a shot of the "Jesus Saves" sign on a rooftop downtown (now long gone) but did NOT include a shot of the world famous "Hollywood" sign. I mean, the "Hollywood" sign is perhaps the third most iconic American landmark -- after the Statue Of Liberty and Mount Rushmore -- and yet Randy ignored it in favor of a Religious / Spiritual sign that only Angelenos knew existed. Interesting!
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PHOTO BY STEPHEN T. McCARTHY
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As funny as I think the Waylon Jennings video was (created by a Waymore fan), like so many others, I also voted for the Randy Newman video. It includes so many shots of places I knew very well, and it takes me back to a time when The Boys and I -- The League Of Soul Crusaders -- were drunk, disorderly, and laughing like it was going out of style. ("John Wayne! John Wayne!") We were the wildest things we'd ever seen.

I think that I LOVE L.A. music video might be the best one I ever saw. IMO, it is nearly perfect. Not quite perfect, but nearly so. I love the way the images flash in-sync with the beat of the song, and the way Randy Newman really IS driving on the streets he names.
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Yes, that's really the Western-most point of Santa Monica Boulevard! On the horizon, behind their cool car, is the Pacific Ocean.

Off the top of my mind this morning, the only music video I can think of that I might like better'n I LOVE L.A. is John Fogerty's 'THE OLD MAN DOWN THE ROAD'.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbSGMRZsN4Q

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One of the images I especially like is of the happy "bum" on his knees at Venice Beach:
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Some may not know this, but supposedly the Classic Rock group, THE DOORS, was conceived one day when Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek were hanging out at Venice Beach together. Jim read Ray some of his poetry and Ray said: Let's start a Rock band!
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THE DOORS AT VENICE BEACH
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THE DOORS STILL AT VENICE BEACH
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And below is a shot of THE DOORS at the canals, back around the [link:> "Dogtown" era, when Venice Beach was known as "The ghetto by the sea". Or, "Where the trash meets the surf". Today, you need millions of dollars to buy a house along the Venice canals:
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THE DOORS AT THE VENICE CANALS
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Another image from Randy's I LOVE L.A. video that puts a smile on my face is "Randy's Donuts"...
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That donut shop was (still is?) situated right at a freeway offramp where I used to exit on the way to my "Sign Designing" job in '84.

Well, not too surprisingly, Randy Newman easily won the Video Battle:

Randy Newman = 16 votes
Waylon Jennings = 4 votes
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The Song Battle was a different story!

Although Randy Newman jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead, Waylon Jennings eventually came roaring back. Arlee Bird voted for Randy's video and Waylon's song. Sixgun McItchyfinger did the same. And so did I. Clearly, the Biblical Apocalypse begins today at Noon!!!
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Although I enjoy the song I LOVE L.A., I think that divorced from its wonderful video with all the colorful, humorous images, it ain't all that. And this might explain why the video was an MTV staple but the song itself never even cracked the Billboard Top 100. I mean, consider these lyrics:

Look at that mountain
Look at those trees
Look at that bum over there, man, he's down on his knees
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There's nothing special about those lyrics. Not until you add the images that accompany them in the video:

Disneyland's Matterhorn Mountain roller coaster ride
Goofy-looking, good-for-nuttin' Palm Trees
A happy bum in the sun, at the feet of a pretty girl on the beach boardwalk
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OK, now you've got something!
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Musically and vocally, I think Waylon's HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH TO LIVE IN L.A. is considerably superior to Newman's I LOVE L.A. You've got that electric guitar and fiddle high-energy buzzsaw sound combined with Waylon's manly baritone vocals and lyrics that can stand on their own:

People dodging bullets crawling down the Interstate
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They keep waiting for "the Big One", one tremor at a time
There ain't nobody living there...
...It's all a state of mind
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Waylon's words alone create the images in my mind and make me laugh.
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The vote tally for the Song Battle wound up like this...

Randy Newman = 10 votes
Waylon Jennings = 10 votes
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And the MAGIC 8-BALL got BOTH of its predictions wrong. All is right with the world. ...Except for that Apocalypse beginning at Noon.
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Again, I genuinely thank you all for participating. And I hope you will return here again on December 15th for my Christmas themed Battle Of The Bands installment. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!
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THE  END!  THE END!!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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