Items filtered by date: Thursday, 11 May 2017

The year 2016 was very exciting for Depeche Mode (DM) and their fans. DM announced a new album (their fourteenth), called, Spirit that would be released early 2017. And it was. DM announced their Global Spirit Tour. It began on May 5th in Stockholm. DM received their first nomination into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Alas, they were not among the final inductees (which were: Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Yes). But that’s okay. Depeche Mode is a future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lock. It’s just a waiting game.


So, with all the good DM news things couldn’t possibly look brighter for their fans! Right?


Enter the Facebook Fan Takeover! And Bring on the Cool Depeche Mode Loving Celebrities!


Let the Takeover begin! (Celebrity appearance later).


Starting January 1st, Depeche Mode began handing over their Facebook page to the fans. One a day for the entire year. 365 fans over 365 days. They are currently on day fifty something (depending on when you read this).  Actual fans get to post their thoughts, pictures and links to the DM official Facebook page.


Within reason, of course. There is still an approval process. You submit to the editors of the DM FB page, they run everything through legal and give you advice. For example, you can’t just send them a picture of you and your five besties without getting written permission from said five besties that you then need to forward to DM legal.


Which is all fair. But the reason I bring it up is that I don’t want you to think fans can post whatever crazy, silliness they want. Again, it's all within reason.


And so, with the totally appropriate approval process, actual fans get to post their thoughts and their pictures and share their DM stories with seven million of their best DM loving friends. Mainly, the guest hosts love gush for a while and it's true that some of the writing is awkward and some of it is in broken English but that just adds to the overall charm of the event. There are indeed, actual fans.


And it must be a bit humbling to suddenly post to seven million people. Wow. Um. No pressure!


Glen Hammarstrom, took over the Depeche Mode Facebook page on day 19 and writes about the pressure & his over all Takeover experience:


“I’m sure they say this to everyone who is apart of it, but they really seemed to like what I was sending over and requested that I make a video talking about being an administrator on a DM fan page. While it was very nice of them to ask, it was also terrifying to me! Not to be overly dramatic, but when they ask for a video that will be shared on a FB with over 7 million followers… well, I got a little freaked out.”


Glen’s full recap can be read here: My Facebook takeover recap. And his take seems par for the course for all the host administrator fans, so far.  


And then came day 54. Tony Hawk.


Wait, who? I thought you were going to say Tom Hanks or someone huge!  


Tony Hawk. International skateboard champion. There are a dozen video games named after him. If you know who he is then you know the deal. If you don’t know who he is, trust me, he’s huge. Check out a compilation of some of his high flying skate acrobatics.


Anyway, it’s always fun to be reminded that celebrities are real people. They like the very same kind of things we do. They have the very same tastes as we do. And Tony Hawk is a huge Depeche Mode fan!


His introduction post on the DM Facebook page for his one day Takeover:


“Hi, I’m Tony Hawk, Pro Skater (but please don’t call me THPS haha). I’ve been a fan of Depeche Mode since hearing “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “New Life” on KROQ in 1981. Growing up skating the dwindling SoCal skateparks in the early 80’s, KROQ was the only FM station that played music that represented our [counter?] culture. Depeche Mode’s sound was iconically revolutionary at the time, and has continued to evolve ever since. I am still a huge fan of DM, having seen them live... a dozen times over the last three decades. It is a huge honor to host their page for a day, and I hope you enjoy what I have to offer in this space. I’ve also included a few friends that were inspired by DM in their formative years, and went on to make incredible music and art themselves. So let’s all shake the disease and have a black celebration for this legendary band.”


Hawk has several posts during his one day tenure but what received the most attention was when he reached out to his friend, the crazy madman genius musician behind Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor.


Reznor writes (and Hawk posts on the DM FB page):


"It was the summer of ’86. I’d dropped out of college and was living in Cleveland trying to find my way in the local music scene. I knew where I wanted to go with my life but I didn’t know how to get there. A group of friends and I drove down to Blossom Music Center amphitheater to see the Black Celebration tour. DM was one of our favorite bands and the Black Celebration record took my love for them to a new level.


I’ve thought about that night a lot over the years. It was a perfect summer night and I was in exactly the right place I was supposed to be. The music, the energy, the audience, the connection… it was spiritual and truly magic. I left that show grateful, humbled, energized, focused, and in awe of how powerful and transformative music can be… and I started writing what would eventually become Pretty Hate Machine.

Many times, particularly when we’re playing an amphitheater, I’ll think of that show while I’m onstage and hope someone in the audience is in the midst of a perfect summer night feeling how DM made me feel so many years ago."



I was a late DM bloomer but I too have a story about them. Way back in the eighties I was into your standard pop music. The most outside of the box music taste I had was Cyndi Lauper (love her!). I just didn't understand the look of those strange Duran Duran / Depeche Mode People. Seriously, I used to get Duran Duran confused with Depeche Mode. Like, all the time. Every time that awful "Hungry Like a Wolf" song played on the radio I would think, "Wow, I really hate Depeche Mode." It just wasn't the kind of music I experienced growing up. I thought it was dark and weird.


It wasn't until the mid nineties when I warmed to Depeche Mode and other synth pop, industrial and goth music -- you know, all that dark and weird stuff I used to shun. I had recently started attending an "eighties night" at a club called, Ground Zero. So there I am one random Friday night. A song comes on. I dig it. It sounds kind of familiar but I can't place it and I certainly didn't know at the time it was, obviously, Depeche Mode. I don't recall which exact DM song was playing -- probably "Never Let Me Down Again" or "Personal Jesus."  Dear God, Ground Zero played "Personal Jesus" all the time! Anyway, I  turn to a group of three industrial / goth woman, strangers to me, and ask, "Excuse me, who is this playing?" 


The first, a woman with short platinum hair, gives me a withering "you are clearly a moron" stare and turns away from me. Um. Okay. I glance over to her friend, a woman in a long black skirt. She eyes me up and down, takes in my blue jeans and black t-shirt, and kind of gives me a, "I'm not here to educate normal people" vibe. She was not exactly impolite but she also didn't answer. The third woman smiles at me warmly and steps forward. Now, this third woman, she was actually closer to me than the other two I just mentioned and I should have asked my initial question to her. But I didn't because I was kind of intimidated by her. She was dressed in black leather and wore silvery, gothy rings & multiple necklaces and she had big awesome hair. She was also very , very bosomy. Basically, she was super badass and therefor, kind of frightening to a newbie in normal clothing at a goth club. So this third woman, the one I was totally never going to speak with, says to me, "It's Depeche Mode, sweetie."


Oh. Right. Those guys. I've heard of them. They do that awful Wolf song, right? I was about to blurt that out but my spider sense tingled and prevented me from saying anything dumb. I thank her and turn to hide in the opposite corner. She was having none of that and said, "Is this your first time here?" I tell her I've come on a few occasions but don't actually know anyone.  She introduces herself and talks to me for a while and, to my surprise, is neither intimidating or frightening. In fact, I remember thinking, this might be the most genuinely friendly person I've ever met. She asks a bunch of questions about me and finally says, "Let me introduce you to some other folks." Then she takes me around the club and introduces me to, I kid you not, like thirty fucking people.  


And that's how I met my dear friend Tracy. I no longer get to see her as often as I would like, but such is life.  


And that's my Depeche Mode story.


And that's the end.  




DM is only in day fifty something of their FB Takeover. There is plenty of time to apply. The Depeche Mode world tour schedule is here: The Global Spirit Tour. Follow DM on Facebook for more information and updates.


Published in News & Information
Thursday, 11 May 2017 17:51

Made in America: Clothing and fashion

Unless you live in a nudist colony, you’ll likely need clothes to make it in America. If you’ve been following along with our “Made in America” series, you’ll know that we’ve already covered American-made forms of transportation, including shoes, home decor and appliances made in the U.S.A., the all-American home, home-grown food and energy, and even American-made vices like alcohol and tobacco. We haven’t forgotten about clothing, which is one of the hardest things to find with “Made in the U.S.A.” on the tag. Chances are slim what you’re wearing now has “Made in the U.S.A.” on the tag.

Clothing keeps us warm, dry and covered, but if Americans made all the clothing purchased in the world, no one would be able to afford it. That’s why it’s so common to find clothes made in Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and, of course, China.

The American clothing market is the largest in the world, totalling $359 billion in 2016, which is why it’s so important to keep those dollars here in America. Employment has nearly doubled in apparel manufacturing, textiles and clothing since 1990, because with more people comes more clothes. But just 1.8 million Americans are employed in the fashion industry, with 79 percent of them working for apparel retailers mostly selling imported products. Just 232,000 are employed to manufacture textiles for apparel and other fashion items (purses, handbags, backpacks, etc.).

In order to change the growing trend of outsourcing fashion and clothing manufacturing, more Americans need to buy more American clothes, and there’s plenty of places to start.


American-made men’s underwear is pretty easy to find. Brad Bennett at the Well Spent blog put together a nice list of American options. Keep in mind that just because a company has an American-sounding name, like Duluth Trading Company (mostly made in Vietnam, but they do have a “USA Made” section) or American Eagle (made in China, Guatemala, India, and Vietnam, with some made in America) doesn’t mean it’s products are all-American. Do your research. The only thing that touches American skin should be American-made.

There are plenty of options for American-made women’s underwear, too, including lingerie. HerRoom and HisRoom allows you to search multiple companies’ catalogs for American-made products. For a complete list of American-made underwear companies visit here.


During the spring, winter and autumn months, there’s no more important stitch of clothing than dry socks. I don’t wear socks for most of the summer unless it rains, but when it comes to keeping my feet warm and dry, I’m a wool man. Wool is the absolute best fabric ever, but the U.S. doesn’t produce much of it. If more people bought more wool, though, maybe it would make a comeback in America.

As I stated earlier, Duluth Trading Company makes some of its products in the U.S.A., and the most common item on their “USA Made” page is socks. If there’s a place that knows cold, it’s Minnesota, but if you’re looking for the best socks on the planet, I’d suggest Darn Tough socks. I recommend them because I have a friend from Vermont, where Darn Tough socks are made, who maintains trails in Glacier National Park, and he swears by them. If there’s an environment that requires darn tough socks, it’s Vermont. It’s the seventh coldest state in America and can be one of the wettest in the spring. Plus, Darn Tough socks are guaranteed for life, so if you manage to put a hole in them, you can return them for another pair. You’ll never buy socks again.

If you’re looking for more fashionable options for men and women, Fox River is the oldest performance sock brand out there. What started as a sock company for lumberjacks 116 years ago is now an all-purpose, sock supplier. They sent out a pair of their Peak Series Lightweight Multisport ankle socks for me to try, and except for them being a little long in the sole, they very comfortable for both the office and the bicycle commute. The "helix fit" as they call it provides volumetric compression around the foot between the ankle and toes. The mesh ventilation zones allow your feet to breathe, and the EverWear Durability Shield on the back of the sock above the heel is a neat feature that should prevent holes in the area that rubs against your shoe. For women’s socks visit here, and if you’re seeking hosiery, tights or leggings, No Nonsense provides an ample supply of American-made products for women. If you’re a man in need of dress socks, look no further than Dapper Classics, which also produces American-made shirts and ties for the office.

Tops and Bottoms

There is a plethora of men’s pants and shirts, women’s dresses and blouses, children’s clothes and even maternity wear made in America. The easiest thing you can do to find American-made options from your favorite retailers is enter “Made in the USA” in their catalog’s search bar. Most online stores like Nordstrom, Lulu’s and Orvis, understand the importance of catering to patriotic purchasers and have a dedicated page for American-made products. If you’re into sportswear, and specifically throwback baseball uniforms and caps, Ebbets Field Flannels is one of my new favorite American stores. There you can buy jerseys you didn't know existed.


USA Love List put together a great list of American-made outerwear for women recently, and if you’re a leather man, Schott NYC has everything from jackets, belts and boots made in America.  Woolrich also provides a page of outdoorsy, clothing products made in the U.S.A. If you’re more into designer trends, The Good Trade put together a list of 15 American-made clothing brands that will turn heads, and GQ has a list of American clothing brands just for men. The most complete Made in America men’s wear list is likely this one by Gear Patrol. Here’s a recent list of more than 100 brands that produce 100 percent of their clothing in America.

So now you have no reason to purchase clothing that isn’t made in America other than cost, but wages in areas where clothes are made are increasing, while American wages remain stagnant, which means American-made clothing will at least be more competitive with imported clothing in the future. So don’t be the typical cheap American when it comes to clothing. I guarantee if you buy the brands listed above, you’ll get more life out of your clothing and more satisfaction for creating American jobs, too.

Next up in our “Made in America” series we’ll look at the best brands for recreation equipment, including guns and ammo, ATVs, tents, backpacks, sleeping bags and the like.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: USA Prepares, Building America, Free Talk Live, American Survival Radio, Jim Brown’s Common Sense

Published in News & Information

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."  -- Abraham Lincoln 


As the battle over taking down Civil War monuments in New Orleans rages, President Trump has jumped into the debate by questioning why the conflict was even necessary. In a recent interview, Trump asked: Why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have worked out?


Could Lincoln have done more to stop the fighting? Was there a middle ground to buy time for ongoing discussions?  It was not like the South’s eventual leaders, from Jefferson Davis to Robert E. Lee, were from a foreign land.  Davis was a U.S. Senator, and Lincoln asked Lee to take over command of the entire U.S. Military.  They were colleagues in government. Couldn’t Lincoln have been more persuasive?


Imagine the public reaction today if either George Bush or Barack Obama stood by and let some six million Americans kill one another in battle. That’s the number of deaths based on today’s comparative population. There would be open revolt and an immediate cry for new leadership.  Did Lincoln fail the test then?  Oh, he did take action.  Lincoln suspended parts of the constitution including habeas corpus, arrested numerous political opponents, and shut down several hundred newspapers.


Was Lincoln obsessed with freeing the slaves?  Here are his words in a letter written to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley on August 22, 1862: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”

So was it a total commitment to keep the union intact?  Not if you believe Lincoln’s words a few years before the Civil War began. “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable—a most sacred right— a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize and make their own so much of the territory as they inhabit.”


Professor David Goldfield has written a recent book called “America Aflame, How the Civil War Created a Nation.”  He’s a past guest on my syndicated radio show. Goldfield computes the total monetary cost of the war to around $6.7 billion in 1860s currency.  He asserts that if “the government had purchased the freedom of four million slaves and granted a 40 acre farm to each slave family, the total cost would have been $3.1 billion, leaving $3.6 billion for reparations to make up for a century of lost wages.  And not a single life would have been lost.”


What about the morality of a President declaring unbridled warfare on his own citizens? One can well argue that saving human lives would have been far more important than keeping the Union together. How can a President responsible for so much bloodshed be thought of as the greatest President in US history? I understand that Lincoln wanted to avoid the Civil War. However, was preserving the Union worth the cost of spilling so much blood on both ends of the battlefield?


Lincoln went on to lead the country in reconstruction and offered exemplary leadership as the nation healed its all too deep wounds.  Maybe it was because he was brand new at the job as the war began.  But it seems clear that when real leadership was called for in an effort to save hundreds of thousands of his fellow citizens, Abraham Lincoln blinked.


The country is, after these 150 years, still reeling from this national tragedy. President Trump was right on in asking why the war was necessary in the first place.




Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show, "Common Sense," each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Communication Network.

Published in News & Information