Play Fuckin’ Ball

 

Watching the Olympics in our hotel room tonight I was reminded of the following passage from George Carlin’s book, Brain Droppings:

“And I’m tired of athletes whose children are sick. Healthy men with sick children; how banal. The kid’s sick? Talk it over privately. Don’t spread it all over television. Have some dignity. And play fuckin’ ball!!

Nor do I wanna know about some athlete’s crippled little brother or his hemophiliac big sister. The Olympics specialize in this kind of mawkish bullshit. Either his aunt has the clap, or his kid has a forty-pound mole, or his high school buddy overdosed on burritos, etc. Can’t sports exist on television without all this embarrassing, maudlin, super-sentimental, tear-jerking bullshit? Keep your personal disasters to yourself, and get in there and score some fuckin’ points!

And I don’t care for all that middlebrow philosophical bullshit you get from athletes and coaches when someone on the team has a serious illness or dies in an accident. They give you that stuff, “When something like this happens, you realize what’s really important. It’s only a game.” Bullshit! If it’s only a game, get the fuck out of the business. You know what’s important? The score. Who won. I can get plenty of sad tales somewhere else in this victim-packed society. Fuck all that dewy-eyed sentimental bullshit about people who are sick. And that includes any athlete whose father died a week before the game who says, “This one’s for Pop.” American bathos. Keep it to yourself. Play ball!

And I shouldn’t even have to mention severly injured athletes who are playing on “nothing but heart.” Fuck you! Suck it up and get out there, motherfucker.

And they’re always tellin’ ya that one of these athletes has a tumor. Don’t they know that no one gives a fuck? You know when you care about a tumor? When you have it! Or someone

close to you. Who cares about an athlete? No one cares if a rock star gets a tumor. What’s so special about an athlete? By the way, you ever notice you don’t hear as much about rock stars getting these tumors as you do about athletes? Maybe the drug life is a little better for us than all that stupid sweaty shit the athletes put themselves through. Just speculating.

And I don’t wanna know about sports teams that sew the i initials of dead people on their jerseys for one whole season as if it really means something. Leave that mawkish bullshit in the locker room. I don’t wanna know who’s in mourning. Play ball, you fuckin’ grotesque overdeveloped nitwits!

And you can skip tellin’ me about the Chevrolet player of the game. A thousand-dollar contribution to a scholarship fund in the athlete’s name. Shit. A thousand dollars won’t even keep a kid in decent drugs for one semester. Fuck Chevrolet.

And when are they gonna discover that no one cares if an athlete is active in local charities? People don’t want to know about some coke-headed, steroid monstrosity who’s working to help the National Douche Bag Foundation. Or how much he cares about inner-city kids. Can the cocksuck-er play ball? Fine. Then suit him up and get him the fuck out there on the field and let him injure someone.

One last thing on this topic. No one, repeat, no one is inter ested in athletes who can sing or play musical instruments. We already have people to perform these tasks. They’re called singers and musicians, and, at last count, it would seem we have quite enough of them. The fact that someone with an IQ triple his age has mastered a few simple chords is unimportant and of monumental disinterest. Play ball!”

Eugenics in Texas

Nancy Isenberg’s book, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class In America, is brilliant and fascinating read so far.  It’s a book that deals with the fact that there has been a permanent underclass in America, since Europeans landed here.  Not only did Europe get rid of many of their “undesirables”, but they set up an economic order from the very beginning of this country that favored the rich.

I don’t want to write too much on this book until I finish, but since I live in Texas, I found the following passage of interest:

(Sam) Houston was actually a strange choice to carry this banner of racial pride.  Between 1829 and 1833, before he became president, he lived with the Cherokees, took two Indian wives, and sat for a portrait in full Indian garb.  His presidential successor had few qualms about cleansing Texas of Indian.  In 1839, the aptly named Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, known for his flowery poetry, pursued what he called “an exterminating war” against the Cherokees and Comanches.  The Texas national constitution explicitly denied citizenship to those of African or Indian descent.  The Texas legislature passed its first atimiscegenation law in 1837.  It was similar to laws force in southern states prohibiting marriage between persons of European blood and those of African ancestry.  

Texas could lay claim to another dubious “first”.  In 1849 Dr. Gideon Lincecum introduced a memorial before the Texas legislature hoping to ensure “good breeders.”  His solution was to castrate criminals in the manner of gelding bulls, thus literally cutting off the bloodline in order to prevent inferior people from reproducing.  “Like breeds like” was the basic rule of animal breeding, and degraded stocks of animals were no different than humans.  Lincecum offered a folksy analogy to make his case:  “When the horse and the mare both trot, the colt seldom paces.”  His plan was rejected, but he was merely ahead of his time.  Future eugenic policies built upon his blueprint for filtering out bad seeds from America’s human breeding stock.  

In Austin there is actually a prominent street still named after Lamar.  You can learn a lot more about the Texas/Indian wars in S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon.  In that book it also talks about how his favorite hobbies are writing poetry and killing Indians!

Before someone says to “Make America Great Again” they should learn what went on in our past.  At the very least they should say which decade they are calling great.  The past, in this country or any, is not often a place you want to return to, no matter how much nostalgia one feels.

Thoughtless Kind

A great song doesn’t have to be true all the time, or even true at all, but when it is playing it should feel as it came on a tablet down from the mountaintop.  John Cale has three recorded versions of this song on Music For a New Society/M:FANS.  I like the acoustic outtake the most out of the three versions, as it seems more desperate, more of the moment.  It seems like it is being written on the spot, the lyrics as true expression of the heart.  This song is truly lonesome, but completely unaffected.  It might cast a shadow across your day, but you’ll be glad you found it.  It’s real and true. How many things can you say that about?

Touring and More

Heading to Montana and back over the next week on tour with Shinyribs.   Like whenever I go on tour I come stacked with books and records to digest.  Countless hours in a van, often without service, leave me with a focus that I don’t always have when at home, especially when it comes to reading.

I haven’t watched any of the conventions.  I have read about them and checked out small clips.  Partially this is because I don’t have cable.  But a lot of it is also preservation of sanity.   I tried to watch Donald Trump’s speech and realized that watching that man speak for an hour and fifteen minutes was a hell I didn’t need to conjure up for myself.  I have long known whom I would be voting for, and any information is now for sheer entertainment value.  If I can’t watch Trump for an hour plus, I can’t watch him for four years.  Dear God in heaven, no!

I’m interested to see the speeches from last night, and perhaps I will, but preparing for a tour left me running around like an ape on speed.

I voted for Sanders, I think the DNC acted shamefully, but cannot understand those that want to sit the election out.  (I honestly wasn’t surprised or shocked by the DNC scandal as much as I don’t like it.  Believing politics isn’t a dirty business is like believing faries are real.)   In politics you have to hold opposing thoughts at the same time.  You have to imagine a better world to strive for and deal with the reality in front of you at the same time.  The DNC is corrupt and needs reformed and the candidate of the DNC is easily the better of the two roads before us.  Just because one road is long and winding doesn’t mean the other path is better.  I’d rather go over the mountain than take the tunnel with the werewolf in it.  Only one leads to grandma’s house, even if it takes longer than we thought.

Funnily enough I was watching Madmen with my brother this week.  In it they show one of Nixon’s law and order commercials.  You could have just swapped Trump’s name in for Nixon and it could have been now.  Don’t tell me who wants to take us backwards.

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Am Voting For Hillary

One only has to read a little history to know why someone with my beliefs is not a huge fan of the Clintons.  No, I’m not talking about Benghazi and the email scandal.  Those are much to do about nothing.  But read Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes to learn about Bill Clinton’s dysfunctional relationship with the CIA.  Read about the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to see how Clinton put our media in the hands of big business in ways that are harmful to this day.  There is also NAFTA, welfare reform, etc.  In many ways Clinton was a continuation of Ronald Reagan.   He allowed corporations to have a stronger grasp on the political power of our nation.

And although those things cloud my judgment of Bill Clinton, I know that he also did things that were good.  Northern Ireland and Serbia were positives in the foreign policy area.  The economy was in good shape while he was president.  He did things on the healthcare front that were positive.  (He was great on helping those with AIDS and he also passed a bill that allowed mothers to stay in the hospital longer.  If he had not faced stiff Republican opposition he might have actually passed universal healthcare.)

However,one can’t judge Hillary by Bill alone.  Wives are not their husbands.  But you know this.

Hillary made a colossal mistake in voting to endorse the Iraq war.  Aside from that she did a respectable job as both a Senator for New York and as Secretary of State.

While Hillary might not be the massive change in this country that I was hoping for, there is no doubt that she is a intelligent and capable.  At worst I see her being an effective manager that will steer clear of outright catastrophes.  The world might have to wait for massive change, but I don’t see her sinking the ship.

That being said she might surprise us.  Hillary was the one that pushed for healthcare reform, even if it eventually was defeated.  She has moved to the left economically.  This may be pure election year calculation, I’m not naive.  That being said smart politicians usually let the electorate lead them.  (Look at LBJ and Civil Rights.)  One needs to have a base for change before making that change realistic.  (That’s not to say great leaders can’t change peoples minds, only that even great leaders need a certain percentage of the population with them to make change a political reality.)  She was Secretary of State when we finally got Bin Laden.  I also do believe Clinton wants life to be better for the average American.  In a world where women make 79 cents to every dollar that a man makes, I see having a woman as President as being a positive.

More than anything she knows what it is liked to be judged based on nothing other than being born as a woman instead of a man.  (Remember the healthcare battle?)  In most people this creates understanding for others that have been treated similarly.  I’ve got to hope that this will give her some empathy for those suffering from social injustice.  There is no guarantee of this.  But what is the alternative?

The alternative is madness.  Whether Donald Trump is a narcissistic bigot or just playing one on TV makes no difference.  The writer Kurt Vonnegut once wrote in his novel, Mother Night, “We are what we pretend to be, so be careful about what we pretend to be.”  A Trump presidency would be a cruel joke.  It would be a win for the baser instincts of the human race: greed, fear, and hate.  Any of you that may be right wing reading this should watch ESPN 30 for 30, Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?  It is not a political film, but it shows Trump as he really is, an egomaniac that only cares about himself and his interests.

Although I disliked Mitt Romney and his proposed policies, I never felt like if he won the country would be in true danger.  Meanwhile I see Donald Trump as a despicable conman whose ego cannot be trusted with that much power.  If one is willing to do anything to win, to sink to any depth, what does that say about them?  He is demonizing those on the margins to better his own position.  I don’t like using the term evil in the political world, but that is evil.  Evil is when the strong feed upon the weak.

I realize this is a strange endorsement, but despite any mistakes or past flaws, I believe that we must vote for Hillary in this election.  I do not see this as voting for the lesser of two evils.  I see this as voting for someone that is competent over someone that is completely incompetent to be the leader of our country.  There is even a chance that Hillary could be a great President.  She certainly understands the machinations of the political system at this point.  She’s saying the right things.  With her there is at least hope of a better world.  I see this election as a chance for hope vs. giving up. I know what I want to take a gamble on.

The Origins of White Trash

The Origins of “White Trash

This is one of the most interesting articles I have read in awhile.  History Professor Nancy Isenberg is interviewed over at Salon about her new book, White Trash.

She sheds light on how class-consciousness, as well as racism, has been with us since the founding of the country.  She also delves into how poor whites and poor blacks have been pitted against other by those that have neithers’ interests at heart.

 

 

When Ignorance Went Mainstream

Children look into a cage containing model baby dinosaurs inside a replica Noah's Ark at the Ark Encounter theme park during a media preview day, Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in Williamstown, Ky. The long-awaited theme park based on the story of a man who got a warning from God about a worldwide flood will debut in central Kentucky this Thursday. The Christian group behind the 510 foot-long wooden ark says it will demonstrate that the stories of the Bible are true. Its construction has rankled opponents who say the attraction will be detrimental to science education. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Children look into a cage containing model baby dinosaurs inside a replica Noah’s Ark at the Ark Encounter theme park during a media preview day, Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in Williamstown, Ky. The long-awaited theme park based on the story of a man who got a warning from God about a worldwide flood will debut in central Kentucky this Thursday. The Christian group behind the 510 foot-long wooden ark says it will demonstrate that the stories of the Bible are true. Its construction has rankled opponents who say the attraction will be detrimental to science education. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Ocean Researchers Discover New Type of Eel-like Fish

Noah’s Ark to Open Ready to Open

I read these articles back to back this morning.  The first one is about how scientists found a new type of fish 1.5 miles below the surface of the ocean.  The second article is about a Noah’s Ark Museum that is opening in Kentucky that features, I’m not making this up, dinosaurs in cages as some of the animals that Noah supposedly saved.

We live in a world where some people have the intelligence and technology to go far below the surface of the ocean in a quest of discovery and enlightenment.  And at the same time we live in a world where certain people, despite all data to the contrary, believe that Noah had dinosaurs on his ark.  My brother asked me today, when I was telling him about this second story, “Why would people believe that?”  I didn’t have an answer then or now.  It’s not as simple as religion as there are plenty of religious scientists that know this is pure ignorance.

I mentioned recently that my writing output had declined recently due to the fact that I was working on several music projects.  This is true.  However, lately, the news has often left me feeling befuddled.  (Befuddled is definitely a euphemism there.)  Often I start to write and then just say, “Ah, fuck it!”  When a daily scanning of articles leads you to things like Donald Trump for President and dinosaurs in cages, one can’t help but feel some threshold has been crossed.  It’s hard to debate people that are existing in a different reality, one in which humans and dinosaurs romped the earth together.

Don’t get me wrong, ignorance has always been with us.  There has not only always been ignorance, but the kind of of bold ignorance that we are seeing now.  However, I can’t help but feel that this is the year that ignorance has gone mainstream.  It’s not only bold, but almost celebratory.

I was also reading another interesting article with the creator of Mad Men, Matthew Weiner, about poetry.  In it Weiner says the following:  “Which is funny because all of the predictions not reading were wrong. People are reading plenty. They’re just not proud of it. Or using it to communicate.”  There is definitely an anti-intellectual populism going on.

I know for a fact, having done research on it, that education has been distorted by big money.  Science has particularly been under attack due to the unfortunate scientific fact that humans are causing global climate change.  We also have an economy that often, though not always, rewards the lowest common denominator, as whatever makes the most money wins.

Yet there are still those that care, as the first article demonstrates.  There are still those with a thirst for knowledge, that want to see the world be a better place, that want this generation to be more educated than the last.  Hopefully intelligence wins in the end, or dinosaurs won’t be the only things in cages…

 

 

Stay

Eternity dreamed
And then we awoke
In some beautiful cosmic joke
With a hole in our hearts
But with hearts all the same
Yearning to hear a lover’s name

Oh, I know you’ll go
We all leave alone
But with you here today
Tomorrow fades away

Stay, while you can
You make it all seem part of some plan

We found fruit in the trees
Fish in the streams
We ran through the Garden unaware
We mapped out the stars
Named Venus and Mars
We found patterns when there were no patterns there

Oh, I know you’ll go
We all leave alone
But with you here today
Tomorrow fades away

Stay, while you can
You make it all seem part of some plan

They say you came from my rib
But that’s just a fib
I could never create anything so beautiful
You took the apple from the tree
I hope your conscience is free
Cause I’d do it again and again and again and again

Stay, while you can
You make it all seem part of some plan

Lyrics to a song I wrote that my band, The Savage Poor, were working on today.  We’ll be at the Rattle Inn in Austin, Texas this week at 10pm.

Blood Orange and Cultural Appropriation

I enjoy pop music that has a subversive quality to it, especially when there is still an accessible melodicism to it.  The music that Blood Orange makes reminds me of the melodic genre bending soul of someone like Prince, but with the cold beauty of modern indie acts like Chromatics.

There is no doubt that there are a lot of homoerotic undertones in shots in this video.  I was reading with  Dev Hynes, the man behind Blood Orange, and he said this in an Interview article:

I find New York, early 80s gay culture so amazing—the ball culture, what they created, how they expressed themselves. I admire them endlessly for their bravery. I can’t even imagine how difficult it was to be young, black, and gay 30 years ago. When I was younger growing up in Essex—a small town in England—I dressed pretty weird, and a lot of my friends were gay, so I essentially grew up as a gay kid even though I was straight. I had all the abuse—was spat on daily, called a fag, was pushed around. The whole aesthetic of Blood Orange is basically a celebration of gay culture. I want to celebrate people who I feel represent freedom, for example Octavia St. Laurent, who I’ve done a little tribute to on the Myspace.

There are lots of talks in the media about culture appropriation concerning different artists.  As long as an artist admits who they are taking, and politically stands up for those that they are taking from, I think it is not only OK to take things from different cultures, but essential to art.  They only way that new genres are created is when two (or more) things are combined that were never combined before. Also, it can expose elements of different cultures to people that may not have been accepting to them otherwise.  There is no doubt, for instance, that the Rolling Stones helped lead people back to many black blues artists.  Morrissey steals lines from different writers, while putting them in a new context, and through him I have discovered and read those artists.

There are only three times when this becomes problematic:  When an artist steals without adding anything new (This would be, if not plagiarism, than unimaginative art.), when an artist steals without credit (straights up plagiarism), when an artist steals something from a culture without supporting that culture politically (hypocrisy).

The Savage Poor

The Savage Poor - Logo

The Savage Poor

I have a new band.  We’re three shows in.  We have an album under way.  Up above is a link to our brand new website.  It’s all new and exciting and only time will tell where it goes from here.  Since late last year I’ve spent a lot of time on music.  There’s some demos streaming at the new website.  The band is more rocking, more beautiful, and more everything than the home demos.  I’ve spent so much time getting this band going that my writing here has declined in the last few months.  Hopefully I’ll be able to find a balance soon.  Next show in Austin is at the Rattle Inn on July 7th at 10pm.  Come see what it’s all about.