Changes, Travel, and Doug Sahm

Posting will be slow over the next few days.  I am finally making the changes to this site that I have spoken of over the last few weeks and months.  My good friend Chris Saunders is helping me transfer my content over to a new hosting site.  Although most of the content is already transferred, there are still some kinks we have to sort out.  Once everything is transferred I will begin to make other changes that will bring this site closer to the one that I have been imagining for quite some time.  I am hoping to expand the kind of content that I can post here.  I also want to eventually do a visual overhaul.  But this site should be fully functional within the next week, even though you will continue to see the other changes that I mentioned.  Because of the technical kinks that still need worked out, I don’t want to post much, as things are still kind of ping-ponging between the old site and the new.  Your patience is appreciated.  I can’t thank those of you that keep coming back here enough.

As well as working on the site, I am headed to Alpine, Texas tomorrow for the Viva Big Bend Festival with Shinyribs.  We are not only playing tomorrow night, but will also be taking part in a Doug Sahm tribute earlier in the evening, sharing the same stage with the Texas Tornados, which has me extremely excited.

The day after the festival I will be exploring Big Bend National Park for the first time.  I only have a day there (Not nearly enough time I know!), due to my schedule, but I am really looking forward to this as I have heard nothing but great things about the park.  Hiking has become one of my favorite pastimes over the last ten years.

Thanks again to everyone that has helped make this site a success.

In the future, when all is well…

Here is a clip of the last time I played live with Shawn Sahm, Doug’s son, tackling The Sir Douglas Quintet’s She’s About a Mover:

Changing Site

I am making some changes to the site that will allow me more control.  These changes will take few days.  There may be a few hiccups in service as these changes take place.  Thanks for your patience as I make these much needed changes to windupwire.com.

– Jeff

Donald Trump Will Turn Your Mind Into Rat Soup

I have been trying to avoid the early election shenanigans.  The mutant right is constantly making headlines with total insanity.  I don’t mean to infer that to condemn anyone that is a Republican.  I am simply referring to the freak pack that seems in control of the national party at this point.  (Scott Walker being one of the many in this realm.)  I am someone that believes in voting.  I don’t think voting is enough if you really care about what is going on.  However, I don’t think disengaging from the political realm due to dissatisfaction is an option.  I am not a big fan of the Clintons and would rather see someone like Bernie Sanders capture the nomination.  Bill, in his term, was actually a rather right leaning corporatist Democrat that did many things that I believe harmed this country.  (NAFTA, Telecommunications Act of 1996, and so on.)  However, if you can’t see that there is a difference between Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, or Hillary Clinton and Scott Walker, than I don’t know what to tell you.  (Those that believe that all politicians are the same only need to look at recent headlines having to do with Iran and then imagine what those headlines would look like if “Bomb,bomb,bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” John McCain had won in 2008.)  But what I think is important is that it is okay to disengage until it matters.  I don’t need to be paying attention to the right wing horse race, as I will certainly not be voting for anyone that wins that.  I can’t help, in trying to keep up with the news, catching a headline or two.   I mean I try to pay attention enough that if I am having a conversation with someone, I can refute whatever insane argument someone might be making on whatever policy issue, but having a deep emotional investment in who is ahead is only going to destroy my health, make me angry, and burn me out on this whole circus before there is really anything I can do about it.  The news is really good at destroying one’s soul, only to have you speaking gibberish by the time it comes down to canvas for an issue or candidate you believe in.  Also, please keep in mind that I am talking about ignoring the election and not what is going on in general.  It is important, extremely important, that a citizen of a democracy stays informed.  But at this point in the election cycle it is much more important to pay attention to what is going on, rather than who is saying what, if you get my drift. So try to keep abreast of current issues, but whenever a circus animal like Donald Trump gets paraded out on TV, instead of turning your mind into rat soup, exercise one of the very few freedoms you have and turn the damned thing off.

 

Most Liberal and Most Conservative Cities

Most Liberal and Most Conservative Cities

As someone that travels a lot I was interested to read the above list.  The two cities that surprised me the most on this list, as I have been to both, are Tulsa, for being as conservative as it is, and Washington D.C, for being listed as more liberal than a place like Seattle.  Although Oklahoma is no doubt conservative, Tulsa is the one place I have been to in that state that feels like it bucks that trend.  Also having witnessed the cultures of both D.C. and Seattle, I was surprised, as the above article suggested, that D.C. was listed higher as Seattle.  The above link provides a link, the list, and pictures over at Forbes.  The Economist is actually who devised the list and their research is here.

 

Bill Clinton Helped Destroy Radio

Chuck D hiphopdx.com Interview

Anyone that has been reading along has seen me mention the latest Public Enemy album, Man Plans God Laughs.  As a lover of albums, I not only like to hear records in full, but when an artist comes out with a new record that I love, I like to hear it in the context of their career.  Often records speak to each other, especially when artist are creating records that have concepts and aren’t just collections of songs.  So as well as checking out Public Enemy’s catalog, I have been reading different interviews with Chuck D, unofficial leader of and main rapper in Public Enemy.  Chuck D is always interesting.  In the above interview there is a segment where the interviewer and Chuck D it is mention how Bill Clinton deregulated radio with his 1996 Telecommunications act.  This is not the focus of the interview, but it is an interesting snippet.  From the interview:

DX: I wanna go back to one additional thing Too Short said. After he put Barry Weiss on blast he went on to say that he believes there was a meeting of the minds amongst the major labels to shut down conscious Hip Hop. Do you believe such a collusion happened, or was it more likely that Bill Clinton’s Telecommunications Act of 1996, that consolidated radio ownership, was the real nail in the coffin to message-driven music?    

Chuck D: Yeah, the latter was the real nail in the coffin – not so much to message-driven music but to local music being able to have a chance to independently breathe. The consolidation of radio stations was like the worst thing ever done to music.

As someone that works in the music industry, I have long known that the consolidation of radio stations by big corporations, Clear Channel (Now known as, I’m not kidding, iHeartMedia.) in particular, has been horrible for the music industry.  There was less artistic diversity than ever before.  One only has to look at the aftermath of 9/11 to understand what can happen.  After 9/11 Clear Channel (iHeartMedia), the largest owner of radio stations in America banned songs that were deemed “sensitive” to listeners.  One of these songs happened to be John Lennon’s Imagine.  This ban was eventually lifted, but one can see this kind of thing happening on a lesser scale all of the time.

So why is this interesting, even if you are someone like me that never listens to the radio?  First you can see how big money can stifle culture.  Art is how ideas can be spread in a way that is accessible, in a way that is entertaining and easy to understand.  Less competition, created by one corporation owning a large percentage of the market, means there is less reason for alternative programming.  Even if a corporation isn’t trying to purposely stop a certain message from getting out, there is less reason to play something new or cutting edge, even if it has a certain following.  Luckily, we now have internet radio and satellite radio, which have helped bring diversity into the market, but a large group of people still listen to regular radio.  What gets played on traditional radio still has an advantage.  Art is extremely important as a form for political discussion, as it connects emotionally.  One only has to look at the 60’s counterculture to understand how art and particularly music can affect people from a political perspective.

There are many reasons that music doesn’t have the political power that it once did, reasons that have to do with technology, culture, education, and economics.  However, I think the above Act is something that greatly contributed.

Also, I find it interesting that it was Clinton that signed the above Act into law.  I have always known that Clinton was a corporate Democrat, but being that I was 18 at the time and not fully formed politically, I never put it together that he was the one that oversaw that law being put into place.  As someone that would consider themselves as being on the left, I think it is extremely important that we condemn those on our side that do not act in the public interest, especially if we are going to be believed when we make political accusations of those that do not in anyway share our values.  Even if I view Hillary Clinton as the far lesser of two evils, when compared to the pack of mutants running for the Republican nomination, we must make sure that she does not repeat the sins of her husband if she were to gain the nomination.  (Who really was far more conservative than most people remember.)  I am hoping that Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, but I have no doubt that I would vote for Clinton over anyone declared for the right at the current moment.

So I think it is important to see how big money can corrupt culture, as a concrete example.  It is important to acknowledge how art influences our culture.  Remember, the whole reason that I am writing about this subject is because I was reading an interview with a musician.  I also think it is important, for those interested in politics, to stay vigilant especially when someone on “one’s side” is in political power, as it is much easier to be lulled into complacency.

It’s late on a Saturday and already I feel that I am rambling a bit in this post, but there is just one other thing I want to mention.  (But believe me, I actually feel that this is just the tip of the iceberg in talking about the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the deregulation of media in general.)

Just as a playful what if, I want you to imagine a world where subversive art and other media voices did not face so many restrictions in communicating on mass.  If more voices were heard, would tragedies such as the Iraq War have been averted or at least not carried out with such zeal?  (Not only did Clinton help to deregulate the media, but Ronald Reagan also contributed greatly to media deregulation.)

 

Barack Obama's Long Game

Barack Obama’s Long Game – Politico Story

A story featured both at Politico and Huffington Post making the case for Barack Obama as a transformative president.  The last few months have been an extremely interesting to say the least.  Cuba, Iran, marriage equality, healthcare victory in the Supreme Court, and commuting the sentences of non-violent offenders, are just a few of the things I think will be looked fondly upon.  I am highly skeptical of his trade deal.  I also have always been critical of other aspects of his foreign policy since the beginning, especially what this country has done with drones in recent history.   I think he could have done more on Climate Change early on, though I think he has done what is possible this term, especially considering the Congress he is dealing with.  However, although I think one can be both pleased with and critical of something at the same time, I think the good outweighs the bad when it is all stacked together at this point, especially considering where we were when we started.

Rites of Spring and the Political Without Politics

 

Music can be political without being expressly political.  Sometimes the sheer vitality of it can be a force for change.  It can shake you, wake you up, make you want to do something different than you were doing before you heard it.  This has definitely been true, from even the earliest moments, of rock n roll.  Once rock n roll was unleashed it couldn’t help but have an affect on race relations, sexual mores, youth culture, and so on, just because of where it came from and the sheer energy involved, even before it dealt with any of those things in an explicit way.

I’ve mentioned lately that I have been diving into the punk, post-punk, and hardcore bands of the 80’s Washington D.C. scene. Rites of Spring, which featured members that went on to join Fugazi, among other bands, were different from many of the acts of even that time period.  Their songs were more melodic and their lyrics were more personal in nature, despite channeling the energy of punk and hardcore.  Their lyrics also have a more poetic and interpretive nature than many of their peers.  Although I grew up listening to all of the Ian MacKaye bands, MacKaye is a founder of Dischord Records and also went on to be a member of Fugazi, I had never heard Rites of Spring until recently.  But listening to their music, one can’t help but feel that something is going on.  It possesses a feeling of dissatisfaction, but not of hopelessness.  It sounds like people striving to reach someplace new.  It is full of passion and self-discovery.  Singer and guitar player Guy Picciotto sounds fully committed.  Even if none of these things translate into any particular political cause, this is the sound of people becoming engaged with the world.  And engagement is the most important ingredient in any kind of social change.

 

David Mitchell Interview

David Mitchell Interview

One of my favorite writers in recent years has been David Mitchell, who can seemingly do anything or go anywhere.  In some of his novels, epics like Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, he can use many voices, cover different time periods, and make each seem authentic.  Not only is he able to do this, but he is able to connect all of those voices to form a compelling overreaching narrative.  Meanwhile, in something like Black Swan Green, he is able to use a much smaller canvas, in this case a British school kid in the 80’s, and make it just as compelling.  One of the true originals of our time.  The link is a short piece accompanied by a longer video interview.