Saturday, July 27, 2013

Spin the people the way they want

Part of what poliicians do -- in their spare time when they're not lining their pockets or conducting ideological thermonuclear warfare in America's fallowed halls -- is tell people what they'd prefer to believe.

This, of course, exists in stark contrast to what actually is. Or was. Or will be.

Enter President Obama, speaking to a group of aging Korean War veterans on this, the 60th anniversary of the armistice that silenced the guns but never formally ended the war:
When the war ended with a cease-fire rather than a surrender, Mr. Obama noted, some offered the cynical quip "die for a tie" to describe the result of the war that had claimed the lives of more than 36,000 Americans and over a million South Koreans.

But "that war was no tie," the president said as he stood before thousands of veterans and their families on the National Mall, within sight of the Korean War Memorial. "Korea was a victory."

As a result of the heroism of those who fought, he said, tens of millions of South Koreans are able to thrive in a free and prosperous country instead of living under the thumb of tyranny in North Korea.

"Let it be said that Korea was the first battle where freedom held its ground and free peoples refused to yield," he said. To the veterans and their families, he added, "You have the thanks of a grateful nation and your shining deeds will live now and forever."
THIS, of course is revisionist history. It is ascribing a ex post facto point to what many, if not most, Americans saw as pointless six decades ago.

And no one -- no one, save the communist Chinese  -- was declaring victory in the Korean conflict. As one network radio commentator said on this day in 1953, how do you declare victory when no one's keeping score, when you have no clear objectives?

Gosh, this sounds familiar.

The commentator went on to liken the Korean War to a football game where the field has no goalposts and the entire objective is to keep the other team from crossing the 50-yard line. In other words, contra Barack Obama's revisionism, "Die for a tie."

It is what you settle for when "making the world safe for democracy" doesn't exactly work out.

HERE, THEN, is what we were really saying about Korea when the all the firing was freshly ceased. It comes from an old, old reel-to-reel tape made by an Omaha doctor who thought the moment momentous enough to electronically scrapbook for future generations . . . and then salvaged by this future generation at an estate sale a decade ago.

3 Chords & the Truth: Your musical refuge

Sometimes, life's a bitch.

Can't be helped; it just is. And sometimes you just feel like . . . you feel like . . . you feel like. . . .

Well . . .

Well, you feel like you might as well go out of town and dig a ditch. And that's when you need to escape into the music.

3 Chords & the Truth is here to aid in your getaway. I mean, sure is somethin' slick goin' on, sure is somethin' slick. I hate it when that happens.

And the Big Show is here to help. Because we understand. 'Nuff said.

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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The things you save

Mama never threw out anything. At least not much more than garbage and old coffee grounds.
Now she's going to be 90, she fell and broke her hip and she can't live in the house in Red Oaks anymore. Mama's seen better days and, frankly, so has Red Oaks, which has the misfortune to lie north of Florida Boulevard and east of Eden in my hometown of Baton Rouge.

Week before last, my wife and I made a frenzied trip back South to see Mama in the hospital and take care of a few years' worth of loose ends. All in six days.

Part of the process that will hit almost every middle-aged child of someone in God's good time is disposing of a life -- a life that's over, or a life that's merely transitioning to a phase where your home is no longer your own, and neither are your choices. What you rarely realize until it's slapping you in the face . . . over and over and over again, that is when it's not punching you in the gut . . . is that you're disposing of your own life, too.
YOU, in the course of a week, frantically rummage through your childhood home, through all the stuff that Mama never threw out and, ultimately, through your memories both blessed and cursed. You rummage through your childhood, grabbing the precious things to take home as one grabs what's most precious as they flee a burning house, and you say goodbye.
Goodbye to all your old stuff -- yet again. Goodbye to the home of your childhood. Goodbye to your childhood. I'm home again, but Thomas Wolfe was right, or at least mostly right.
“You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing's sake, back home to aestheticism, to one's youthful idea of 'the artist' and the all-sufficiency of 'art' and 'beauty' and 'love,' back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermude, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time--back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”
IT'S JUST as well, I reckon. But just the same, I'll hang on to these relics, second class, of one of my earliest Christmases, 'round about 1962. I'll hang onto Fred and Dino and the Flintstone Flivver. (Ninety-eight cents, cheap!)
It was a yabba dabba doo time. A dabba doo time. It was a gay old time.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Retail bldg. Skylights, indoor garden. Make offer.

Once upon a time, one of the nicest retail spots in my part of Baton Rouge was I.H. Rubenstein, one of a local chain of department stores and one of the anchors of the Broadmoor Shopping Center.

It sat right between the Broadmoor Theatre and the National Food Store. Way back there then -- when dinosaurs roamed the swamps, gas was 45 cents a gallon, you could buy all the 45s you could eat at TG&Y, Buckskin Bill ruled the local TV scene, and I had hair -- the Broadmoor Shopping Center was a happening place.

Then again, that was before my hometown pretty much abandoned my old neighborhood. That was before "my" part of town (and lots of others) turned into a reasonable facsimile of Port au Prince and the hair jockeys at the Broadmoor Barber Shop all started packing heat.

Not an exaggeration -- I was there just last week on a not-so-pleasant trip back home to see my 90-year-old mother in the hospital and clean out her home of 57 years . . . the home of my childhood.

SHE WON'T be living there anymore. I probably won't set foot in it again. It's a hard thing.

Like I said, I.H. Rubenstein was a nice place, and the flea market that took over the space after the department store closed wasn't unfortunate, at least as flea markets go. Then again, both were pre-Port au Prince.

What you see here is post-Port au Prince. And somebody expects to sell or rent this mess.

Somehow, I don't see that happening, though I think it would be a fine spot to relocate the city-parish government. Very appropos, don't you know?

I've written a lot about my hometown on this blog, and I've covered the creeping blight of Baton Rouge on more than one occasion; I don't need to belabor the point here. And when she lived in Red Stick for a while, New Jersey-native Colleen Kane made a vocation of chronicling the abandoned places of my old home via her Abandoned Baton Rouge blog.

She even did a post on the Broadmoor Shopping Center almost five years ago. Yes, decrepitude has been an issue there for some time now.

PLUS ÇA CHANGE . . . etcetera and so on in "America's Next Great City."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Third Street, Baton Rouge

Riverside Mall (Third Street),
Baton Rouge, La., circa 1981.

Third Street, Baton Rouge, La., circa Tuesday.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Happy POP! July BOOM! 4th

This week on the Big Show, we celebrate Independence Day with a stellar lineup of all-American music.

Except when it's British or Irish or something.

Because that's how we roll on 3 Chords & the Truth. Now, the idea behind the (BOOM!) is in maximizing the (POP!), which of course leads one to (BLAM!) and, thus a stellar listening (WHOOSH! KABOOM! POPPOPPOPPOP! POP!).

AND THAT is why you're certain to enjoy this edition of the Big Show. It's a lead-pipe cinch.

I mean, just wait until you hear the (WHOMP! CRACK! BOOM!)! You won't believe your ears, and you'll be hooked on 3 Chords & the Truth more than ever.

"Music for the people" ain't just a meaningless slogan, after all. It's a (POW!) of (BRAPPP!).

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. (BOOM!)

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Then again, maybe not

Yes, seeing is believing. Or is it?

We live in an age when making people believe what you want them to believe is easier than ever. You can even provide them with "proof" that what plainly isn't, in fact, is. Ergo, half the crap you see on Facebook -- or

Remember that when our betters in Washington decide, at their leisure, that now is the time to blow the bejeezus (bemohammed?) out of the mullahs in Iran or the Assad dictatorship in Syria in the name of Truth, Justice, the American Way and the War on Terror.

Remember Iraq. And remember that your friendly, neighborhood federal government has a lot more money and resources than a college-age filmmaker in Rochester, N.Y.

Seeing is believing

I never would have believed anyone could bring M.C. Escher's "Penrose Steps" from optical-illusion fancy into reality. But seeing is believing . . . and it's at the Rochester Institute of Technology!

I mean, wow!