The Concise Untold History of the United States

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I read the Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick book The Untold History of the United States.  They have now released a companion book, that is shorter and more closely follows the TV series.  It is called The Concise Untold History of the United States.  The difference between the two books as Oliver Stone explained on his Facebook page:

“Concise Untold History” was released last week. At 306 pages, it faithfully renders the text of the 12-hour series. The original 618-page edition, with 90 pages of footnotes, is really closer to a primer that substantiates the details presented in the film. 

I am particularly passionate over this ‘Concise History,’ and find it poetic in keeping with the spirit of the series. It’s a light-weight paperback that can easily be carried around.  

I was really impressed with the first book.  I was a History Major and eventually graduated with a degree in American Studies.  I have seen at least some of the information that Stone and Kuznick wrote about corroborated in other sources.  I  don’t normally like to recommend a book I haven’t read, but if you are at all interested in what they have to say, but feel a little daunted in a 600 plus page book, this seems like a good place to start.  From what I saw of it the series was excellent as well.  After reading the first book and seeing about half of the series, I feel pretty safe saying this would be a very interesting read.

We Give Speed to Children and Don’t Allow Adults to Smoke Pot

“If you want to know how fucked up this country is, know that we give the best speed available to our children (adderall), and we don’t allow adults to smoke pot.” – Lewis Black  in Old Yeller* 

If you want a good laugh watch Lewis Black’s comedy special Old Yeller.  It starts a little bit slow but builds up steam as it goes along.  As usual, Black is spot on in his comic observations of American life.  I was thinking about how I have to go out canvassing this afternoon, after just getting back from the road yesterday, and I started thinking about how it would be nice if I had some speed, and therefor…

*This may be slightly paraphrased.  I searched the internet for awhile trying to find the quote, but I couldn’t.  There are some other blogs/websites that use this quote, but it didn’t look to me like they were accurate in what he actually said.  So I went as best I could from memory.  

End of the Weekend Trivia

How many of you know the name of this character?

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Answer here:

Information on above character

And now how many of you, off the top of your head, can remember what the Fourth Amendment pertains to?

Answer here:

The Fourth Amendment

I am willing to bet there are a lot more people that know the answer to the first question than the second.

And I’d be lying if I said for sure I would have gotten the second one right from memory!  Just a little test to make you think about where we’re at.  

My Land is Too Green Lyrics

My land is bogged down in religious tradition
We nod our heads in humble submission
One foot in the door a hand in your pocket
We export our problems for foreign solutions
My land is naive too scared of the devil
Holier than thou with eyes up to heaven
When nobody looks we tear strips off our neighbour
And to have a good laugh at it all in the end

Shrouded and mist the outlook’s appalling
Pressure is rising but temperature’s falling
Sunny spells and scattered showers
But still it rains for hours and hours
And as the floods rise we drown our sorrows
Tossing them back like there is no tomorrow
And in the end we’ll stick or stand
And piss it back to the bog holes of Ireland

My land is too full of incurable scheming
The promises given are nothing but dreaming
We all love a rogue we’ll make him our leader
And every four years it’s right back to zero
My land is still poor and underdeveloped
We talk round our problems for hours on end
And then we decide there’s two sides to the story
And have a good laugh at it all in the end

Shrouded in mist the outlook’s appalling
Pressure is rising but temperature’s falling
Sunny spells and scattered showers
And still it rains for hours and hours
And as the floods rise we drown our sorrows
Tossing them back like there is no tomorrow
And in the end we will sit or stand
And piss it back to the bog holes of Ireland

My Land is Too Green written by A. Hensey/Erik Visser.  The recording that I owned is performed by Mary Coughlan.  I was listening to Coughlan as I took a walk after having just written about her.  I had downloaded this song for my six hours of drive time yesterday to a gig in Conroe, but I never got around to listening to it till today as hardcore music was better at keeping me awake and focused.  As I was listening to it the first few lines, even though I knew in advance the song was about Ireland, struck me as very fitting for America.  In fact, change a few lines here and there and a few words, and the song could unfortunately translate well as an American political song.  Let me show you:

The whole first verse fits great with the continued rise of the religious right.  The only thing is, we don’t export our problems for foreign solutions.  We just export our problems.

The chorus would take the most work.   You should change the temperature falling to rising on account of our country’s terribly inadequate response to climate change .  You would also have to mess with the weather metaphors a bit depending on where you lived.  God, does our country get hogged on booze though.  That’s not just an Irish thing.  I have seen that shit with my own eyes.  I have taken part!  Obviously you would have to change the final line.

The second verse you wouldn’t have to change a line, although to be fair our land isn’t poor, it’s just that many of its inhabitants are poor due to the greed of the few.

So there you go.

The Lowering of the Bar

I don’t have cable, but I see a lot of TV on the road.  It is fucking troubling how much senseless shit is pumped out over the airwaves.  There was a commercial for, I think it was the local Fox South Carolina News Morning Show, though constant travel makes things blurry, where one of the selling points of the ad was the morning news team dancing.  Is all it takes to be a newscaster to look presentable, be able to read a teleprompter, and have the ability to dance like the Caddyshack gopher on camera? 

Last night when we got in from the gig there was an infomercial for someone that had apparently designed a revolutionary pillow that makes you smarter.  We were all laughing in total disbelief. 

Now there are two shows on that are based upon the fact that the participants are naked.  These shows would be Naked and Afraid and Naked Dating. 

The bar is constantly being lowered.  Where will we be five years from now?  Sometimes swearing is the most appropriate response:  Holy fucking shitballs!   

Vesuvius at Myself

Trying to clip the creek to the bank with a clothes pin
Waterlogged system, rusty spring, faulty planning
Logic squeezed out like mustard at a corndog
Hypertension is not wisdom, chewing the leather straps
Trying to hold the sun still with a bobby pin
Burned fingers. excellent conductor of heat
Private fantasies are not public policy
Christian charity is a doily over my death boner
Busy work is not the Great Wall of China
Vanity bamboo hut out back behind the big house
Pretend is salve for whitey-boy guilt
Furiously slapping at the moon with a cane pole
Trying to prop up the heavens with a fresh flat pencil
Some folks are allergic to rubber
I am trying to stitch this one to all the rest of them
But the seams will split, collide and cleave
Neopolitan ice cream is never truly integrated until it’s too late
Trying to stop the bleeding with scotch tape
Platelets spoil adhesion, fire up the cauterizing iron
It’s a branding of necessity not scarification
Bliss was a pimple that I tried to pop
It erupted up and out on my countenance
Ugly eruption, Vesuvius, ugly eruption, Vesuvius
Ugly eruption, Vesuvius
Vesuvius at myself, Vesuvius at myself

I thought I would start out the Fourth of July by posting the lyrics to the great American songwriter Vic Chesnutt.   He is criminally overlooked.  One look at this or many of his lyrics and you can see why.  He was not one to wince from hard truths.  This is one of my favorite songs by him or anyone.  There are so many great lines in this song: Busy work is not the Great Wall of China.  Almost every line is a vivid image and thought in and of itself.  If not for the fact that his voice was an acquired taste, and possibly also the fact he was in a wheelchair,  he would be on the songwriters Mount Olympus with Dylan, Cohen, Mitchell, or any of the greats.  As far as I am concerned he is. 

John Oliver on Climate Change TV Coverage

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjuGCJJUGsg

The above clip is from the new John Oliver show Last Week Tonight.  He demonstrates how ridiculous the coverage of climate change is on TV news.  The only accurate way to report that one in four Americans are skeptical of global warming is to say that, “A poll finds out that one in four Americans are wrong about something.”