Saturday, August 27, 2016

3 Chords & the Truth: Trying to wash us away


The rains tried to wash south Louisiana away.

Then the national media and America's cognoscenti tried to wish south Louisiana's waterlogged ruin and its waterlogged suffering away.

Both are still here, not that you'd notice if you weren't already looking hard for evidence of either.

This edition of 3 Chords & the Truth is a protest against Americans' desire to ignore -- to condescend to -- their brothers and sisters at the soggy bottom of Flyover Country. This go around of the podcast is other things, too -- sunnier things -- but the protest, our musical protest, is the heart of the thing.

Louisiana lives matter.

AND YOU -- we -- don't get to ignore that, because all Americans matter, being that no American is more American than any other American.

That's a point this episode of the Big Show hopes to makes as entertainingly as possible. While you're listening, check out the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and lend a financial hand, if you can.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The view from 10645 Darryl Drive


This is my neighborhood, the one in Baton Rouge where I grew up.

My parents built their first -- and only -- house there in 1956. I moved in at the end of March 1961 from my previous address at the old Our Lady of the Lake maternity ward.

From 1956 until three days ago, not a drop of unwanted water entered 10645 Darryl Drive unless somebody spilled a glass of it on the floor. Then we mopped it up. 

Look at the picture above, taken by the Civil Air Patrol on Sunday. 10645 Darryl Drive is in the bottom fourth, one-third from the left.
 
There's not a big enough mop in the world.

At right, thanks to Google Street View, is how the home of my youth looked three years ago -- when it was the home of my mother's old age. This picture is from May 2013, a month before Mama fell and broke her hip at age 89.

When the paramedics took her away to the new Our Lady of the Lake, she couldn't have known that she'd never see it again. A couple of months after that, she'd be here in Omaha, in the assisted-living apartment where she would spend the last 18 months of her life.

Mama lived at 10645 Darryl Drive for almost 57 years. In 2001, Daddy took his last breath in the bedroom that was once mine.

I AM grateful they did not live to see Sunday's scene at 10645 Darryl Drive -- to see their little world in their little part of Baton Rouge, La., overtaken by dirty, brown floodwater. I am grateful that, in extreme old age, they did not see the house they so loved invaded by the deluge. See their memories drowned.

I am grateful they were not faced with cleaning up a gigantic mess when they were too old and too ill to even consider putting things aright again.

Today, the scene at 10645 Darryl Drive has been repeated thousands upon thousands upon thousands of times -- much worse in most cases. Water to the countertops, water to the ceiling, water to the roofline. Water consuming everything and, in 11 cases as I write, someone's very life.

Also as I write, I've lost count of how many people I know back home, both family and friends, who got flooded out, in many cases losing everything they owned. I have cousins who now possess only their lives, their loved ones and the clothes on their backs. This is my hometown's Katrina. This is Katrina for an area spanning 20 parishes (counties) in south Louisiana.

NEXT DOOR in Denham Springs, a town of more than 10,000 just across the rampaging Amite River, 90 percent of homes were flooded. In Livingston Parish alone, where Denham Springs is the largest municipality, it's estimated that more than 100,000 people lost everything they had.

Nobody's come up with a number for Baton Rouge, the capital city of 230,000 people.


Not that you'd know any of that from the national media.

Louisiana lives matter . . . not that you could tell from watching the evening news or the cable networks, where all the airtime is devoted to more pressing things than the fate of rednecks, coonasses and black folks in a banana republic somewhere in Flyover Country.

Somewhere toward the bottom.


NO, the cable networks are preoccupied by what obviously matters in life, like panels of opposing party hacks yelling at one another over whether Donald Trump's shit stinks. Tomorrow, Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper will be hosing down the bellowing political hacks as they debate whether Trump was right to be livid that CNN suggested that his shit wasn't the best shit, the best smelling shit that anyone ever shit. Believe me.

As a former resident of 10645 Darryl Drive, I have an opinion about what these blathering, coastal media elites are full of.

But now I return to my regularly scheduled mourning, both for my people and for a country that doesn't much think their lives, their suffering and their deaths matter much at all.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Politics in the age of short-fingered vulgarians

  
My wife thought I was having a stroke.

There I stood in the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fair, mouth agape, jaw slacked. My eyes must have been a little glazed over. I stared at the Republican Party of Iowa booth.

Actually, I stared at the Crooked Hillary photo booth. That stood in front of and perpendicular to the life-sized Donald Trump cutout, where bunches of good Iowa people were lining up to take a picture with the cardboard candidate.

I found myself compelled to take pictures of the people taking pictures, if for no other reason but to reality-check myself that this campaign -- this insane presidential contender -- was really happening, and that a formerly mainstream political party had entered the terminal stage of a decades-long descent into bat-shit madness.

THIS COARSE display . . . this supreme unseriousness and spleen venting . . . this is how the the government becomes delegitimized (see Obama Derangement Syndrome) and the country becomes ungovernable. This is how we lose faith in democracy, and how we cast off all our hopes for the future.

This is so beneath us as Americans. We are so beneath us, at least beneath our better selves, as Americans.

This is how everybody becomes The Other, and this is how opposing political parties become Lebensunwertes Leben

How damned sad that what's left of Republicanism sounds so much more serious in the original German.

The Real Donald J. Trump -- star of stage, screen, divorce court and bankruptcy -- would sound just as nuts in Classical Latin, alas.

As we were leaving the fair Sunday, I asked my wife whether this would be the last Iowa State Fair we'd go to without having to get a passport or obtain a visa. Would Iowa end up in the Republic of Heartland, while Nebraska joined with the Dakotas in the new Canadian province of South Manitoba? Would the United States still be united in 2017, somehow, despite Trump ginning up panic and rage among the booboisie about the "rigged election"?

Could be a hell of a "reality show."

Call it The End of the World as We Know It.

And we feel . . . pissed.

Mind the sign


Just a random thing on the American scene. Though I do have to wonder whether this is a thing in the great state of Iowa, at least such that signs must warn against the practice.

I will have no further comment. Iowa Hawkeye fans may say what they like.

On a fair summer evening


You can't escape the screen, ever.

And at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, the screen gets supersized. Now if they could just put it on a stick and wrap it in bacon.

Friday, August 12, 2016

3 Chords & the Truth: Psychedelic or psychotropic?


Who cares?

Whichever, this episode of the Big Show does seem to take the edge off.

Ain't that all that's important in the summer of our discontent?

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Maaaan.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Well, that's done

 

Done.

Finally.

Digitized.

Triple album.

Woodstock. 

(thud)

I've been meaning to get to this for years, but every time I thought about putting this three-LP set into the computer, my eyes would glaze over and I'd start chanting the "Fish Cheer."

It's not easy -- or fast -- when you commit vinyl to ones and zeros. And then you have to clean up the pops and clicks and scratches and . . . yeah.

WELL, you don't have to, but you do if you're all obsessive-compulsive about these things. Which I am. And frankly, if my copy of the Woodstock soundtrack hadn't been pristine, I wouldn't have bothered, I don't think. I'd still be here this time next week trying to make it sound presentable.

Let's just say I sweat the details on your audiophilic behalf.

Thank God it already sounded presentable, and I didn't have to do much to the three-LP set.

File under things that look quick and simple . . . until you try them.


Saturday, August 06, 2016

3 Chords & the Truth: Upping our meds


Political news? Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better to . . . run run run run run run run away.

Or listen to this episode of 3 Chords & the Truth. One or the other.

Personally, I'd recommend listening to this episode of the Big Show, which went quite smoothly, actually, after I upped my meds. Before Inauguration Day, I think we all are going to be upping












 
OUR MEDS.

Thank you! I'm fine. How are you?

Hello.
Who?

Swimmingly. Good show. Righto.

Political news? Qu'est-ce que c'est?

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be-be-be-be-be-be-be-be-be there. Aloha. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

What is the candidate's position on bodily fluids?


I could be mistaken (no, not really), but isn't nuclear annihilation a pro-life issue?

Because now it's on the table, thanks to the Republican presidential nominee.


On MSNBC's Morning Joe today -- and this followed several minutes of various iterations of "Oh, my God! Oh, my, God! Oh, my God!" in the subtle manner of the four-star Air Force general, CIA director and National Security Agency director that Michael Hayden used to be -- host (and former GOP congressman) Joe Scarborough related the following. Quote:


Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on the international level went to advise Donald Trump, and three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times, he asked, at one point, ‘If we have them, we can’t we use them?’ That’s one of the reasons why he has, he just doesn’t have foreign policy experts around him.

Three times, in an hour briefing, ‘Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?’
End quote.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Comrade Trump


If you're not the kind of person who believes in divine judgment, or that nations can fall under divine judgment for their collective sins, maybe now would be a good time to start.

From Vox:
On Wednesday, Donald Trump did something extraordinary even for him: He called on a foreign power to launch an espionage operation against his chief political opponent, hacking into Hillary Clinton’s email server to find 30,000 emails she allegedly deleted. 
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

When Trump said it, it didn’t sound like a joke — especially in light of recent events. Over the weekend, Wikileaks released about 19,000 emails that were stolen from the DNC servers by hackers who were almost certainly linked to the Russian state. These emails included talk of a (never-realized) plot to attack Bernie Sanders on his religion, a revelation that exacerbated divisions inside the Democratic party and thus seemingly helped Trump’s political chances.
 
All of this has raised one big question: What the hell is going on with Trump and Russia? 
The answer appears to be twofold. First, the Kremlin appears to be interfering in the US election in a way likely to help Trump become president. Whether or not that’s the intent of the meddling, that is the result. 
Second, Trump is deeply, weirdly pro-Russian.
I RECOMMEND reading the whole thing. Apart from saying that, I am too gobsmacked to comment.

Except for this: The only people crazier and more dangerous than Donald J. Trump are those Americans who would like to see him anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Why is that? Because when -- God willing -- Donald Trump is long gone after a resounding defeat in November, the aggrieved fools who voted for him will still be around, ripe to be exploited by the next dictator-in-waiting.

If on the other hand -- God forbid -- Trump wins, we will have no recourse but to again learn what Abraham Lincoln well knew when he gave his second inaugural address March 4, 1865:


The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
THE WISDOM remains the same, only this country's sins have changed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It's official. GOP nominates the Donald


“I put lipstick on a pig. I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is. I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
 -- Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter,
The Art of the Deal

Saturday, July 16, 2016

3 Chords & the Truth: Don't worry, get happy


It's probably the end of the world as we know it, so pour yourself a stiff drink and let's us listen to some comfort music.

If this stuff was good enough to get the "greatest generation" through the 1960s . . . and the Baby Boomers' teenage years . . . it no doubt is good enough for this edition of 3 Chords & the Truth, one where we seek to self-medicate through happy, soothing sounds.

I mean, if the world's going to hell in a handbasket, find another handbasket.

TO TELL YOU the truth, I have no idea what that means. But it sounded good. Rather like this episode of the Big Show, the swingingest podcast on the Internets.

It's the Happy Beat.

It's also 3 Chords & the Truth. Be there. Aloha.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Music to soothe the savage breast

It's hard not to be in a funk today.

Hell, it's hard not to have been hard in the throes of abject depression since this miserable year first showed its miserable face.
SO FORGIVE ME if I find it difficult to just suck it up week after tumultuous week to be Mr. Hail-Fellow-Well-Met on 3 Chords & the Truth.
It's been one damn thing after another, and I'm sure you're feeling just about as cheery.

In other words, not at all.
So, if you're feeling like I am, join me in a few hours as I indulge myself with some comfort music from a time long ago and a culture far away from us today.  Maybe it was listening to stuff like this that kept "the greatest generation" from completely losing its s*** during the 1960s.

Maybe it'll still work today.

Monday, July 11, 2016

What ye sow, shall ye also reap. Good luck with that.

Huffington Post

Welcome to the confluence of every damn thing that's wrong with my hometown, Baton Rouge, La.:

  • Banana-republic policing,
  •  
  • Ineffective, dysfunctional state and local government,
  •  
  • An angry, ignored and historically severely damaged (in every way) inner-city population,
  •   
  • A critical mass of stone-cold white racism locally, and
  •   
  • Systemic breakdowns in education, the justice system, public health care and social services.

You tell me how this ends well. I got nothin'.



I KNEW this would go south Friday night when the protest outside police headquarters -- I've been obsessively watching The Advocate's live streams -- began to turn ugly and the local "community leaders" tried to talk to the crowd and restore order. They were all shouted down.

One state senator from inner-city Baton Rouge kept talking about legislation she was going to introduce to deal with the situation, and how she needed the protesters to get politically involved, blah blahblah blahblah blahblah.


The hotheads may have been beyond reason, but they're not stupid. Any legislation she were to introduce to "deal with the situation" would pass the Louisiana Legislature how, exactly?


The kind of breakdown of public order that the hotheads among the demonstrators would like to achieve in the streets of Baton Rouge, because outrage, is what the GOP-dominated legislature already is achieving politically, because . . . Louisiana. And "conservative" ideology.



TELL ME how this gets better. Tell me how this gets better when officialdom is urging everyone to lower the temperature of their rhetoric, but then the comments sections of Baton Rouge media outlets -- both on their websites and on their Facebook feeds -- more or less look like so many Ku Klux Klan message boards, with some outraged black folks responding in kind here and there.

Suggest that -- in the public interest and to promote reasoned dialog -- they either shut down comments or actively moderate them and you get lectured about the First Amendment and not wanting to stifle people's "freedom of speech."

I got that line from some 20-something Channel 2 talking head. Having gotten A's in media law at the LSU journalism school a decade before this lightweight was born, I explained to him that freedom of the press belongs to the owner of the press. Which ain't the amazing number of racist trolls taking over these outlets' comments sections.

So, given all of the above, tell me . . . how is Baton Rouge not even more screwed than it usually is? How is someone, or several someones, not going to end up as dead as Alton Sterling before all this is through?