This not only looks right, but it sounds right, too -- vintage Sinatra on a vintage hi-fi record changer.
I've probably entered the realm of irrational antique audiophile fandom, but there's something about these old LPs that just sounds a lot better on an old turntable. Technically, it probably has something to do with a slightly vintage cartridge that carries a bit more "pop" (as opposed to pop and crackle) than usual, as well as running with a bit more tracking pressure than a new, expensive cartridge could handle.
Or maybe it's just '50s magic.
But let me leave you with this: I really, really wish the microphone in the upper right-hand corner of the photo was Frank Sinatra's beloved "Telly," a Telefunken (Neumann) U-47.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
You know that commercial where the two guys escape from prison, but keep getting such awful customer service outside the barbed wire that they end up running back to the joint?
It's a tempting thought.
In other words, "Yeah, Blogger's at it again."
In this case, unless you have a Google account, you can't post a comment to this here blog. Or any Blogger blog, apparently. I don't know what the deal is, except that it ain't just me. And that the Blogger powers that be are maintaining radio silence.
Because why don't you have a Google account? Huh?
Ve haff VEYS . . . .
The Good Book says there is a time for everything:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. . . ."
When Rachel Maddow was laying into Birther Nation, a doctor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., rightly had other things on his mind.
WHEN the Rachel Maddow Show took to the air Wednesday night, scenes like this were playing out all over Alabama and Mississippi. They would be playing out shortly in Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky.
Dr. David Hinson was working at the hospital when the tornado hit. He and his wife had to walk several blocks to get to their house, which was destroyed. Several houses down, he helped pull three students from the rubble. One was dead and two were badly injured. He and others used pieces of debris as makeshift stretchers to carry them to an ambulance.
"We just did the best we could to get them out and get them stabilized and get them to help," he said. "I don't know what happened to them."
None of this registers, however, in a special place where politicos and ideologues can rage against the machine unmolested by real life or real people. I call it Unction Junction.
Yes, we need to speak out against the birthers, not that anyone's mind will be changed at this point. But "there is a season and a time unto every purpose under the heaven," and last night wasn't the time for that.
Another thing we need to worry about -- and this might be as good a time as any to do it -- is an ideologically obsessed and hyperventilating media culture that doesn't know its Ecclesiastes.
Wednesday evening, all the cable-news chatterers were chattering away about President Obama, birthers, evil Republicans and evil Democrats.
They were losing their minds over Donald Trump losing his mind.
Well, not Piers Morgan, it must be said. Cable News Network's resident Brit was giddy over the someday-heir to the throne's impending marriage to a commoner way too good looking for Himself.
As far as we know (and the ranks are growing by the minute), 269 would-be viewers in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky were otherwise occupied. They were dying -- being bludgeoned, sliced, impaled or crushed as massive tornadoes turned the world around them into rubble.
Of course, you would have been hard pressed to notice if you were watching CNN, MSNBC or the Fox News Channel. Lawrence, Rachel, Eliot, Ed, Bill and Sean had bigger fish to fry, better "Others" to hate on than to focus on a bunch of Bubbas being ground up in the worst tornado outbreak since 1974.
SEE, to the media elite -- and to Washington . . . and to the think tanks . . . and to the entertainment industry . . . and to the eternally outraged activists whose continued existence depends upon staying eternally outraged (and making sure Lawrence, Rachel, Eliot, Ed, Bill and Sean do, too) -- we're all The Other, pretty much.
We don't matter, just our money or our votes. And if we're dead, there's no percentage in noticing that 269 of us just got bludgeoned, sliced, impaled or crushed to Kingdom Come.
ON THE other hand, video like this is da bomb. Pretty dramatic stuff here. Stuff's getting blowed up good, and you can cut the dramatic tension with a knife as the meteorologists' voices grow ever more urgent as the milewide Swirling Wall of Death (TM) approaches.
Yeah, with video like this, and with daylight views of all this rubble, 269 dead Bubbas might be worth a second look. Cable "news" might have an opening between the more urgent political contretemps Wednesday and the more pressing royal wedding Friday. Let's see whether CNN, MSNBC and Fox can shoehorn it in.
Rachel can blame it on global warming and the GOP. Sean can blame it on an angry God who's had it with the godless Democrats.
And Anderson can keep the tornadic supercells honest. Might work.
Videotape at 5:30, analysis at 8.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
This may sound odd coming from an LSU graduate, but pray for Alabama. It's important.
Early reports have parts of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham devastated by a massive wedge tornado -- one about a mile wide and estimated to be either an EF-4 or EF-5 storm, meaning winds likely in excess of 200 m.p.h.
This is bad. Really, really bad.
A violent storm system spawned tornadoes that destroyed buildings and killed at least one person Wednesday afternoon in Alabama, following severe weather overnight across the South that killed at least 17 people.
Tuscaloosa officials reported at least one fatality from a tornado that then tracked north of downtown Birmingham. The metro area has a population of 1 million.
Local TV channels showed a massive black cloud, estimated at a mile wide, moving into Birmingham's northern suburbs and just missing the airport, where flights were delayed and travelers kept away from exposed areas.
The tornado had been moving along the ground for two hours after touching down near the Mississippi border.
In Tuscaloosa, cars were tossed along a commercial street and dozens of stores were destroyed or damaged.
"At first I thought it was a rain cloud, but then the tornado dropped right by the apartment complex. It was one the scariest things I've ever seen," Taryn Cook was quoted as saying by Alabama Live.
Another resident, Phil Owen, said only one store was left standing at a shopping center. "Big Lots, Full Moon Barbecue. Piles of garbage where those places were," he said. "Shell gas station across the street — all that's standing is the frame of the store.""Please pray for us," Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox said on The Weather Channel as crews fanned out to search for victims.
Today, the tea party would call this "socialized music."
And if you recognize what "this" is, you're either over 80 or a certified geek.
(No, I am not over 80. Therefore, draw your own conclusion.)
Suffice it to say that during World War II, the government was in the music business in a big way with V-Discs, special recordings of popular music that went to the troops -- and which couldn't be sold or broadcast in this country.
Even during a full wartime mobilization, socialism in popular entertainment only went so far.
Today, this morale-boosting service likely would be performed by the military-industrial complex -- Halliburton Records, anyone? -- and would consist of bad knockoffs of popular acts. These compact discs, sold to the Pentagon for $99.95 per, would contain only eight songs and would tend to fly apart when played.
The first CD to be released would be Melvin Klingman's cover of Cee Lo Green's "F*** You."
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
If you're a Southerner of a certain age (say mine and up) there are a few things that hit you where you live. And it doesn't matter whether you're Catholic, Protestant, heathen . . . whatever.
One of them is "How Great Thou Art." Every person not born a sociopath has -- somewhere -- a button that can be pressed, one that bypasses the brain and everything else and makes a direct connection to the soul.
"How Great Thou Art" presses that button for those of us born and raised in the South. Well, let's just say it does for me, and I'd wager that I'm a pretty typical specimen of the species.
CARRIE UNDERWOOD nails the church classic above, but if you're like me -- 50ish and born Southern -- this is the version you hear in your mind's ear:
AND LET ME say this while I'm at it:
A million Marty Haugens sitting at a million keyboards and scribbling on a million notation sheets couldn't come up with one "How Great Thou Art." Not in a million years.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Martha's widening her appeal, apparently.
Today on The Martha Stewart Show, it's an easy-to-make recipe she picked up from the culinary professionals at Club Fed, where she spent some serious time doing, uh . . . research.
Yeah, that's the ticket.
Friday, April 22, 2011
1 To the choirmaster: according to The Hind of the Dawn. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer; and by night, but find no rest. 3 Yet thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In thee our fathers trusted; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5 To thee they cried, and were saved; in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed. 6 But I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads; 8 "He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" 9 Yet thou art he who took me from the womb; thou didst keep me safe upon my mother's breasts. 10 Upon thee was I cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God.
11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help. 12 Many bulls encompass me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; thou dost lay me in the dust of death. 16 Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet-- 17 I can count all my bones--they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots. 19 But thou, O LORD, be not far off! O thou my help, hasten to my aid! 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion, my afflicted soul from the horns of the wild oxen!
22 I will tell of thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee: 23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! all you sons of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. 25 From thee comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him. 26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live for ever! 27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. 28 For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. 29 Yea, to him shall all the proud of the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and he who cannot keep himself alive. 30 Posterity shall serve him; men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation, 31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, that he has wrought it.
(Revised Standard Version)
Thursday, April 21, 2011
In the summer of 1950, in a kitchen somewhere in south Omaha, I know why the caged bird sang.
The Campagna blue jay was having breakfast, courtesy of his human friend, Sam. And, believe me, you haven't heard anything until you've heard a hungry blue jay.
I know all this because Sam's son, Anthony, was recording it all, cutting a slice of life from a different America -- a different Omaha -- into the acetate blank locked onto the spinning turntable of a home disc recorder.
So, who were Anthony and Sam Campagna . . . and why did Sam have a blue jay in his kitchen?
I don't know.
Neither do I know why a couple albums of Campagna-family home recordings were there for me to find at an Omaha estate sale last year. I guess it's the same reason I saw an unwanted album of family photos -- some dating to World War I -- at another estate sale on Sunday.
I DO know this -- there's the story of America in that recording.
You can hear it in Sam's Italian-immigrant accent. You can hear it in Anthony's unadorned, typically unaccented Midwestern accent.
You can hear the story of the American Dream on that 61-year-old recording, because la famiglia Campagna had enough disposable income to buy itself a fancy disc recorder. Not everybody did -- such things were not cheap in mid-20th-century dollars.
You can hear that there still was an American Dream back then.
MOST OF ALL, you hear an old man, a son and a moment of levity sent via acetate disc far into the future. Oh, yeah . . . you hear a hungry, squawking blue jay, too.
The Campagna blue jay, Aug. 5, 1950.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
It's kind of like a message in a bottle, only on a record.
It's kind of like it's been bobbing atop the storm-tossed seas for 66 years, only it probably was in someone's basement.
It's definitely a message from 1945, someone committing something he or she thought important to a Presto transcription disc -- someone reaching out to a future and to Omahans then unknown, conveying a slice of what was then into what someday would be.
Welcome, fellow survivors of the postmodern age to a time of America triumphant and evil vanquished . . . at least for a brief moment in time. Welcome to Nov. 22, 1945. It's Thanksgiving Day, and this is the world news over radio station WOW, Omaha, Neb.
If ever you make your way down to the Gret Stet uh Loosiana, you got to go see its biggest attraction -- Piyush Jindal, the Self-Hatin' Furriner.
That Piyush Jindal is gubna uh da Gret Stet only makes him more of a must-see. Listen, Hoss, the boy hates himself and his un-Americanness so bad that he refuses to call himself by his Christian (Hindu?) name, Piyush.
Back in the day, when the future governor was just another brown-skinned, funny-looking lad with a weird name -- and stuck in the middle of Baton Rouge, by God, Louisiana, where the rednecks run headlong into the Cajuns -- he did the only thing a geeky little kid embarrassed by his un-Americanness could do.
He named himself after Bobby Brady. As in The Brady Bunch.
Actually, it probably wasn't a bad call. For my bottom AMERICAN greenback dollar, Piyush is even weirder than Barack.
THAT WORKED OUT pretty well for ol' Piyush Jindal as the years rolled by. He went to an Ivy League college, became a wunderkind, got into state gummint. And then federal gummint. And then into electoral politics.
He went around touting what an all-American success story he was. Talked a lot about his conversion to Christianity -- which doesn't feature monkey gods or anything too un-American . . . except for that Pope in Rome feller. Well, at least he's white. And homo sapiens. (Sapiens, dammit . . . S-A-P-I-E-N-S. Not the fruity kind of "homo.")
And like I say, it all worked out pretty well. That is, until 2003, when he up and ran for gubna and needed to pick up every Caucasian vote he could muster in the deepest backwater of the Deep South.
I'LL LET this article in the conservative American Spectator (dated Nov. 18, 2003) pick up the story from there:
But there's a less savory reason that Blanco made inroads in northern Louisiana. This is where former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke got the votes in 1991 that propelled him into the run-off election against the corrupt former governor Edwin Edwards. (The latter is now serving time in jail for taking bribes; this was the race that gave us the classic bumper sticker, "Vote for the Crook. It's Important.")I RECKON about now you may be thinking "Well, that's interesting enough, but so what?"
"If there was a racist backlash against Jindal anywhere, it would be in north Louisiana, in Duke country," Louisiana political analyst John Maginnis told Rod Dreher of National Review Online after the race. To some extent, Blanco laid the groundwork for a such a backlash herself. She dusted off her maiden name and campaigned as Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. Voters encountered the full name on the ballot, where her opponent was listed as "Bobby" Jindal, complete with quotation marks (Jindal's given name is Piyush). Appealing to tribal instincts in the only state where Frenchness is still considered a virtue, Blanco's packaging of herself was designed to make it clear who had the deeper roots in Cajun country.
Such tapping of identity politics for ethnic whites is nothing particularly unusual or scandalous. The shamrock incorporated into Irish-American candidates' names is a staple of local politics across much of the Midwest and Northeast. It would be unfair to suggest that Blanco ran a racist campaign. At the same time, isn't it worth noting that the usual suspects, to whom unfairness rarely gives pause, haven't so much as raised an eyebrow?
It might be useful to file this case away as a yardstick for the future. There was a small amount of coverage of northern Louisiana's racial politics during the race -- Adam Nossiter's AP dispatch from last Friday, a set of quotes culled to make the town of Amite, Louisiana, sound as awful as possible (sample: "Really, you got a foreigner and a woman. So it's a hard choice to make"), was typical -- but the "Babineaux Blanco" appeal to "Duke country" has gone mostly unnoticed. The next time Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or Kweisi Mfume or any similar rabble-rouser announces a whiff of racism (or "racial insensitivity"), measure the grievance cited against this non-event. The comparison might be illuminating.
Here's what. And in this case "what" comes in this article from the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Gov. Bobby Jindal would sign a bill requiring presidential candidates to provide a copy of their birth certificate to qualify for the Louisiana ballot if it reaches his desk, a spokesman said Monday.
"It's not part of our package, but if the Legislature passes it we'll sign it," press secretary Kyle Plotkin said.
House Bill 561 was filed last week by two Republican lawmakers. President Barack Obama's citizenship has been challenged by some groups, derisively called "birthers," despite numerous independent investigations finding that documents and contemporary news reports show that Obama was born in Hawaii.
The bill by state Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, and Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, would require federal candidates who want to appear on Louisiana ballots to file an affidavit attesting to their citizenship, which would have to be accompanied by an "original or certified copy" of their birth certificate.
The requirement also would apply to candidates for U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives.
A similar bill was recently passed by the Arizona legislature.
THUS you have the only-in-Louisiana spectacle of Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, the self-hatin' foreign-ish fellow who fought against prejudice and overcame his Otherness to, in 2007, be elected the Gret Stet's first non-white governor since Reconstruction . . . only to throw his support to a "birther" bill that's aimed squarely at people just like him.
Now let me say that I believe Piyush Jindal was born in this country. I have no doubt about that -- despite all the talk about monkey gods and burnin' girl babies because they ain't as good as boy babies. I believe the man is just as American as the next funny lookin' dude with an oddball name who gets elected to high office.
Which means that I believe -- believe with all my heart -- that Piyush "Bobby" Jindal is an all-American tool. A self-hating tool . . . but an all-American self-hating tool nonetheless.
And, no, you can't make this s*** up.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
In case you had any doubt there's a class war going on, and that the middle class and below have giant targets on their backs, read on.
What the Stamford (Conn.) Advocate doesn't mention is that you at least get fed regularly in prison, which also serves as a permanent address. Look for Norwalk officials to spin their arrest of a homeless woman for sending her kid to one of their schools as actually being a compassionate act:
A homeless woman from Bridgeport who enrolled her 6-year-old son at a Norwalk elementary school has become the first in the city to be charged with stealing more than $15,000 for the cost of her child's education.
Tonya McDowell, 33, whose last known address was 66 Priscilla St., Bridgeport, was charged Thursday with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for allegedly stealing $15,686 from Norwalk schools. She was released after posting a $25,000 bond.
McDowell's babysitter, Ana Rebecca Marques, was also evicted from her Roodner Court public housing apartment for providing documents to enroll the child at Brookside Elementary School.
The police investigation into the residency began in January after Norwalk Housing Authority attorney Donna Lattarulo filed a complaint alleging McDowell registered her son at Brookside, but actually lived in an apartment on Priscilla Street in Bridgeport.
As part of the evidence presented in the complaint, police received an affidavit of residency signed by McDowell and dated last September attesting that she lived in the Roodner Court public housing complex on Ely Ave.
When she was interviewed by police in the case, McDowell admitted to living in Bridgeport at the time she registered her son in Norwalk schools.
She said she knew a man who owned a home on Priscilla Street and he allowed her to sleep at the home at night, but she had to leave the home during the day until he returned from work.
She also acknowledged that she stays from time to time at the Norwalk Emergency Shelter when she has nowhere else to stay.
McDowell also admitted that Marques was her son's babysitter from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. after the boy got out of school.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Now that I have this new addition to the 3 Chords & the Truth studios, God only knows what's going to start showing up on the Big Show.
"This" is a 1955 Webcor component record changer. Back then, this would have been part of your expensive and cutting-edge "hi-fi system."
I just call it my "midlife crisis" purchase.
But now that I can play 78 RPM records in the studio just like anything else (in glorious monophonic sound, might I add) . . . watch out.
Is what I'm saying.
It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.
It never fails. When you see a bunch of vinyl at an estate sale, it falls into two categories.
You have the now-elderly (or dead) parents' music. All this stuff dates from the '40s, '50s and '60s, along with a smattering of later "remember when" types of long-playing offerings.
This stack is chockablock with Lawrence Welk and Mitch Miller offerings, usually, but if you're lucky, there'll also be lots of jazz. Particularly Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.
Or, in this case, a bit of "Late Music" -- purchased by Mom and Dad sometime around 1957, based on the LPs Columbia was hawking on the inner sleeve.
THEN YOU HAVE the stack comprised of the now-elderly (or dead) parents' kids' music, which for one reason or another was left with Mom and Dad to serve as both a source of parental confusion ("Are Johnny and Jill going to pick up their record albums, dear? They've been here 30 years now!") and an eternal middle finger to the folks' bourgeois staidness, as befitted their leading roles as Unhip Conformist Tools of the Fascist Establishment.
The beauty of a complete and total geek such as myself is that I buy from both piles of albums, thereby giving the middle finger of cultural revolt to both sets of conformist tools of the Establishment repression.
In other words, I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll, but now she's just my melancholy baby.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Mapleton, Iowa, disappeared beneath one of these.
You want to know what I hate?
I hate it when storm chasers shoot video of tornadoes -- which they peddle to the evening news, because nothing sells better than video of s*** getting blown to Kingdom Come -- and all you hear on the soundtrack of the tape is these "meteorological professionals" yelling stuff like "Awesome! Look at that! Beautiful . . . we got a beautiful funnel here!"
Listen, I know it's exciting and all, almost getting yourself killed for 30 seconds of video you can sell for big bucks. I get the adrenaline rush.
Still, I think there's a point I need to make here. That being "F*** you!"
SEE, in the middle of that "awesome, beautiful" vortex, s*** is getting blowed up good. Decades of blood, sweat, toil and tears is disappearing in a matter of seconds. Gone with the wind, as it were.
In many cases, underneath those "awesome" storms, people are being hurt. Some killed.
Killed dead. And dead is forever, which goes on a lot longer than the minute and a half any particular annihilation of worlds (and trailer parks) gets on the network news. In the latest tornado outbreak across the South on Thursday and Friday, 17 people are dead so far.
One can only hope a storm chaser got long-range footage of their deaths, so at least these poor souls will not have died in vain . . . right? It's kind of like the thrilling end of Howard Beale in Network, only without the moral complication of paying Maoist guerrillas to deliver the ratings.
HERE'S ANOTHER thing wiped out by the savage winds last week -- history. Physical manifestations of a region's culture. A man's life work. Maybe jobs, too . . . for good.
Never heard of Malaco Records in Jackson, Miss., that chunk of history and culture that bought the farm in the big wind? I'll bet you've heard what came forth from there.
WLBT television in Jackson reports:
A piece of Mississippi history was virtually blown away by Friday's destructive storms. Internationally acclaimed Malaco Records on Northside Drive in Jackson was almost reduced to rubble and now the owners are wondering whether they will rebuild after 44 years.
It was 3 years ago this month that Malaco Records was honored with an official marker recognizing it as a Jackson landmark along the Mississippi Blues Trail. The company was founded in 1962 and located on Northside Drive in 1967.
Now, that marker is almost the only thing left standing. A powerful tornado shredded two of the three buildings in the compound. Wolf Stephenson, one of Malaco's founders, was inside with about 15 employees, winding down for the weekend.
Stephenson said, "We started seeing limbs and debris flying through the air and decided we better take cover."
Stephenson says the warehouse can probably be saved. As for the rest of Malaco Records:
"Well, the buildings are old. It's a real tricky question as to whether or not it's worth rebuilding.", said Stephenson.
IT'S just awesome when we get a whole tornado outbreak to make our day, right?
Cue Don Henley. Again.
Friday, April 15, 2011
A 3 Chords & the Truth musical toast:
Through the Internet and into the ears,
Look out brain, the Big Show is here!
With music and other stuff that's hard to describe,
Its entertainment value is hard to deride!
So here's 3 Chords & the Truth, for better or worse,
It's like a drink that you'd rather not nurse!
And here's to you, you dear, loyal listener,
We guarantee it's better than French kissing your sister!
So listen long and listen often,
The show's not bad, with minimal coughin'!
Raise your glass and button your parka,
The show's as smooth as K&B vodka!
It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.
In Australia, it's tomorrow, which means it's already the 122nd anniversary of Charlie Chaplin's birth, which means Google down under already has a special Google doodle up and running.
This will come to our Google tomorrow, which in the land of kangaroos and koalas will be yesterday's news.
Whatever day it is, this is the best commemorative Google doodle ever. Ah, these Modern Times. . . .
HAT TIP: Engadget.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Don't mind me.
I'm just sittin' here in a nostalgic funk, watchin' K&B drug-store commercials and weeping for my lost youth.
And I don't even have a bottle of K&B vodka to crawl into. Damn you, Father Time! Damn you and your smirking emo apprentice!
And don't forget the Alka-Seltzer and disposable douche. Big night.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I always thought this was the best speech Richard Nixon ever gave.
Nearly 37 years on, I still remember watching it. And I remember being incredibly sad, though not as sad as my mother, who thought Nixon was the bee's knees and got railroaded by the communists.
But it was sad. It's never a happy affair when a man is brought to his knees, no matter how richly deserved and no matter how much his own doing.
IN AUGUST 1974, the republic was saved because the Constitution worked. Back then, no man was above the law. Even the president.
What was remarkable about this, Nixon's best speech, is that he could not have given it just days before. This was the speech of a broken man, a hated man, one who deep down inside knew he had done wrong.
It was a speech born of the wisdom of a sinner. It was the same wisdom David found after Nathan confronted him with his murderous sin -- the same grief later born of a heart broken by Absalom, the son who died in rebellion against him.
The wisdom of sin. And a heart softened by its brokenness.
We are a nation presently full of tragedy, and one that has seen much worse. We, however, are a nation with little sense of the tragic, but plenty taste for anger, strife, hatred and alienation.
We have yet to learn the one hard lesson Richard Nixon learned from the bitter fruit of his own sin:
"Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself."
You have this little creature that only knows one word -- "No!"
Anything you say, anything you propose to the urchin is met with the reflexive, instantaneous rebuke. "No!"
Do you want to go out and play?
Eat your peas.
Pick up your toys.
Play nice with your friends.
Don't call Juan names.
Cut off Glenn Beck. He's rotting your brain.
Ditto for Rush Limbaugh.
Leave Jim Suttle alone. He's got his hands full.
Clean up your child-welfare system. It's a damned mess.
Your cities are broke. Let them raise sales taxes if they have to.
WHAT WE'RE dealing with here is not your average 2-year-old. Unfortunately, Nebraska, what we're dealing with here is your governor.
And little Davey Heineman only has one answer for anything anymore -- "No!"
It's right here in black and white in the Omaha World-Herald:
Gov. Dave Heineman left little doubt Wednesday morning about his distaste for a bill that would allow Omaha and other Nebraska cities to hike local sales tax rates by a half-cent if approved by voters.It's a tax increase measure, Heineman said during a call with reporters, and the 27 state senators who now favor the idea are enabling higher taxes.I SWEAR TO GOD, that's the only thing the man-child knows how to say -- “Cities ought to be cutting spending rather than raising taxes.” And when cities like Omaha cut the last dollar -- when all the social services are gone, the streets turned to mud and rubble, the last cop and firefighter fired, all the businesses long gone, public schools defeated, the state's tax base decimated and the 'hood descended into real chaos and not average, everyday chaos . . . when Nebraska's economy has been destroyed -- "Baby Dave" Heineman will be reduced to rocking back and forth in a corner of the state capitol, babbling incoherently to his doting press secretary.
“Cities ought to be cutting spending rather than raising taxes,” the governor said.
When asked if city voters shouldn't be allowed to choose whether to raise their own taxes, Heineman countered that voters should be allowed to decide something else — whether to lower their property taxes.
“Put that on the ballot and let's see what happens,” he said.
"No! Cut spending, don't raise taxes! Cut spending, don't raise taxes! Wubbie! Wubbie! No! NoNoNoNoNoNoNo! Cut spending! Want Wubbie!"
Damn fine governor you got there, Red.
Naw, I think I'll stick with the 2-year-olds. At least 2-year-olds don't run the joint, and you can give them a time out.
I know, I know . . . this is 2011, and Americans are all about partisanship and smears and yelling; we're all about the heat and not the light, not to mention grabbing whatever you got and beating The Other about the head with it.
The Rachel Maddows of the world can do this just as well as the Glenn Becks, though somewhat less creepily, in my humble opinion. There's some of that in the editing and presentation of the MSNBC host's report here.
Life is all about the editing, you know, and editing can make your case -- and break the other guy's. It's all about what you show folks . . . and what you don't.
Editing can make a couple of Tejas wingnuts look like the reincarnation of Sam Houston, just a lot more anti-American and a lot less sane. Hell, give me an audio file of a Barack Obama speech and a computer, and I can make the man sound like George Wallace -- I'm good at what I do.
EDITING ALSO involves, in this case, not mentioning one of your favored positions -- near fanatical support of abortion rights -- because some folks might figure that in a big, big way, you're no more committed to human dignity (or human rights) than was Jefferson Davis and the whole Confederate aristocracy.
Still . . . still. . . . Maddow's on to something here. Or, more exactly, her guest Tuesday, Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Perry, is on to something big. Basically, Americans are letting their crazy Confederate uncles out of the metaphorical attic. Letting the big shots work against their interests, and cheering them on while they do it to fatal effect.
The last time we embarked on such foolishness, 2 percent of the American population had been killed by the time the last shot was fired -- more than 618,000 on both sides. Today, that 2 percent would work out to 6,068,212 dead Americans.
Just something to chew on when next you're all outraged at the gummint and rarin' to refresh the tree of liberty "with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
EDITOR'S NOTE: So Monday was the 150th anniversary of the attack on Fort Sumter, S.C. -- the beginning of the Civil War. Or as we were prone to call it in the South, "The War Between the States."
I don't really have anything to say about this that I already haven't beaten into the ground, so I'll just repeat this post from a year and a half ago about a big foofarah at the University of Mississippi over the Rebel marching band being banned from playing "From Dixie With Love," at the end of which Ole Miss fans would yell "The South shall rise again!"
I think I said all I have to say now back in November 2009.
And I still think LSU needs to name a building for Gen. W.T. Sherman.
If any son of the South is honest with himself -- any white son of the South, that is -- sooner or later, he comes up hard against the truth of his "Southern heritage."
Namely, that all the popularly defined aspects of "Southern pride" are nothing to be proud of. For Southerners -- particularly we of a certain age -- this conclusion generally is reached, if it is ever reached at all, after a lifetime of equivocation, denial and trying to reconcile the irreconcilable.
There indeed is a bottom line, and it is this: The antebellum South, and all of the supposed "gentility" that surrounded this eternal Tara of our mind's eye, was built on the backs -- and at the cost of the freedom, dignity and lives -- of millions of African slaves.
It came at the cost of everything by which Americans self-define, and only after twisting the white man's soul into accepting good as evil and evil as good.
THERE WAS no noble cause. There was no honor in defeat. Our ancestors fought -- and died -- for a damnable lie, and the flag they rallied around just as well could have sported a big "666."
Lincoln was right; Jeff Davis was a traitor, and Sherman did what he had to do. The Lost Cause was damn well lost, because a people had damn well lost their minds . . . and perhaps their souls.
These things are all quite obvious. The white Southerner is able to state the obvious only after his own personal Antietam -- for enculturation and "tradition" will put up a hell of a fight -- and among the dead must be one's "pride" over a "heritage" that well earned its place on history's ash heap.
That, however, is a fight few have the stomach for.
IT'S EASIER to pretend there's something much more noble about your great-great-grandpa fighting "the Yankees" in the Confederacy's "Lost Cause" than there is about Heinz's father fighting the Allies in Adolf Hitler's.
That your forefathers' "bravery" was braver than that of the Serb militiaman who fought to rid Bosnia of Muslims and Catholics.
At least in Germany, nobody has built an entire tourist industry on sepia-toned nostalgia for "the good ol' days" of the Third Reich, and it didn't take 144 years before University of Munich students were forced to quit chanting "Heil Hitler" after the marching band's rousing rendition of "Deutschland über alles."
Not so at the University of Mississippi.
At Ole Miss, students and football fans are determined to prove the truth of native son William Faulkner's observation that "The past is never dead. It's not even past." And at today's football game against LSU, as reported by the Memphis Commercial Appeal, they're even going to get some help from the Ku Klux Klan:
The Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan plan a rally before Saturday's LSU-Ole Miss football game to protest Chancellor Dan Jones' decision to bar the school band from playing "From Dixie with Love," a medley that some fans finish by shouting, "The South shall rise again."
Jones ordered the band on Nov. 17 to stop playing the medley that blends "Dixie," the Confederate Army's fight song, with the Union Army's "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
The band has played the song during Ole Miss football games for about 20 years.
Jones said the chant supports "those outside our community who would advocate a revival of segregation."
Jones' decision has stirred up the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which plans a 10 a.m. rally in front of the Fulton Chapel before the 2:30 p.m. start of the game.
"This is not a white or black issue at all. It's freedom of speech. They've got a right to say what they want at the game," said Shane Tate of Tupelo, the KKK's North Mississippi great titan.
Tate said his group, part of the Southern Alliance of Klans, which claims more than 7,000 members, plans a short, peaceful demonstration.
"I'm just going to bring a few guys, show up and get our message across and then leave," he said.
Tate said he expects between 20 and 100 Klan members to participate.
He said his group does not allow Nazis or Skinheads, who are considered more violent segregationists than the modern-day KKK.
"We're Christians," he said.
In a press release announcing the rally, the organization said Jones' decision was an "attack on our Southern heritage and culture."
YEAH, JUST LIKE the Nuremberg trials were an attack on German heritage and culture . . . that is, if the Nazi regime and its "lost cause" were the only parts of German heritage and culture anyone cared about.
At today's football game, LSU doesn't need to bring the Fighting Tigers, it instead needs to bring the reincarnation of its founding superintendent . . . William Tecumseh Sherman.
Of course, that would be a mighty tall order for a university that -- 148 years after Sherman resigned to lead a Yankee army and march across Georgia -- still can't bring itself to name a building for its founder.