Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Who needs Manhattan?

The Manhattan skyline is glorious, of course. But, all in all, I'll take Omaha and the big Nebraska sky.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

3 Chords & the Truth: It's gonna be so great

This edition of 3 Chords & the Truth is brought to you by Erase-O, the modern miracle that ensures that it's really not your fault.

Because s*** be gettin' weird, and you got nothin' to do with it.

Likewise, if this edition of the Big Show isn't up to snuff (which is impossible, because it will be excellent and awesome) your Mighty Favog is not responsible for that. It's somebody else's fault. Everything is chill here, Boo.

The music is chill. Your host is chill. So why don't you chill out for the long weekend . . . and beyond. Let 3 Chords & the Truth  transport you beyond the weird. Beyond blame. Beyond all your cares.

MUSIC HAS power, and it's being brought to you commercial-free by Erase-O. Not only does Erase-O eradicate all blame . . . it also deleted all its sponsorship announcements during the show. Well, it would have, if that were its fault.

Which it isn't. It's Chinexico's fault. Yeah, that's the ticket. Blame crooked Chinexico, the rotten product that fouls everything up.

Anyway, listen to the program. It's gonna be so great, I can't tell you.

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

Thursday, May 26, 2016

It Sounded Better in the Original German, Part 437

When the Nazis did propaganda, at least they did it with a certain panache.

I think of Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will here. Yes, it was morally toxic propaganda for Nazi Germany, but it also was artistic toxic propaganda for Nazi Germany.

Now we come to morally toxic propaganda for the National Rifle Association, as conceived by . . . Charlie Daniels. (What? The devil went down to Fairfax?) Whereas Triumph des Willens put the world on notice that Germany was back, Germany was united and Germany would mess you up -- Danke, mein Führer! -- Charlie looks more like . . . how should I put this?

Perhaps (and I out myself as the kind of commie pinko fag that Charlie don't cotton to by my use of the word "perhaps") the NRA's Triumph des Schmucks could best be described merely by asking you to hold my beer before exhorting a restless nation "Hey, y'all! Watch this!"

THEN INSERT random slurs about your "Muslin" president (He ain't mine!) and pointy-headed lib'ruls, all the while you're picking a fight with the Iranians, because . . . Iranians!

The overall effect? God, we're a bunch of violent, overarmed, redneck dumbf***s! Wanna fight?

In this Age of Trump, it is cold comfort, I suppose, to consider that while this bunch of schmucks has the potential to cry havoc, it has neither the smarts nor des Willens to triumph. If this be der neuen Amerika, our self-destruction will be the world's reprieve.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Great Society

I'll take 1964.

In 1964, folk music was a thing. A popular thing.

In 1964, hip-hop did not exist.

In 1964, the Republicans were running on "In your heart, you know he's right." Now, the GOP's running on "In your heart, you know he's Reich."

In 1964, the Democrats promised "The Great Society." Now, they're trying to avoid The Great Unraveling.

In 1964, LBJ ran the "Daisy ad," because could we really trust Goldwater with the Bomb? In 2016 . . . well, some things really don't change.

In 1964, you could buy this Brothers Four LP at Dayton's for $3.59. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $27.71 today.

Chalk up one for 2016. (And estate sales -- this cost me a buck.)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Remember, man, that you are dust

This cartoon comes from the 1928 edition of the Baton Rouge High School yearbook, the Fricassee.

I first saw it some 37 years ago, when I was layout editor of the 1979 edition of the Fricassee. Some of us were going through the yearbook archives, leafing through all the old editions of our school's annual that we could find in the cluttered old cabinets of our cluttered old classroom . . . and there it was.

Even back in 1978 or '79, even for those of us Baton Rouge public-school kids, who went to segregated schools -- legally segregated schools -- until just eight years before, the cartoon was striking. Stunning, actually.

Yes, it was the open racism -- the naked, unvarnished and unapologetic racism. But more than that, it was that kids our age -- a decade or more before our parents would be that age -- would be that ugly, that publicly and that casually. This was something powerful enough to give pause to a generation, black and white, raised in the midst of, then in the dark shadow of, Jim Crow.

We had grown up with the crazy aunt in the Southern attic. For many of us, the N-word was something we heard every day. For others of us, the N-word was something used to describe us every day.

"Humor" from the 1924 Fricassee (Click to enlarge)
FOR SOME OF US, rank hypocrisy was a virtue that our culture had developed in the years since 1928. Southerners of a certain age can explain to you . . . well, can try to explain to you how there are worse things than being a damned, two-faced hypocrite. For instance, one worse thing is not being one.

Another worse thing is white Baton Rouge, circa 1928 -- of living with a horror you cannot experience as horror at all.

Can you imagine the wretchedness of living with a  conscience that dead? Or, more charitably, a conscience that unformed and uninformed?

Is there much in this world worse than glib, cheerful and constant evil that one commits, thinking of it all the while as an obvious virtue?  

Oh, I imagine many people today could imagine that . . . if only they were self-aware enough to realize they're living it.

AT ABOUT the time we on the Fricassee staff were getting acquainted with just how far our forebears could let their racism and bigotry hang out, Kansas (the rock group, not the state) had a Top-40 hit, "Dust in the Wind."
I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment's gone
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
ALL THE STAFF of the 1928 Fricassee were dust, and to dust they have returned, no doubt. All their hopes, all their dreams, most of their works . . . dust.

That cartoon? It endures. There it is, frozen in time to judge and be judged.

We see the thing today, and we proclaim judgment on that which now is dust. The thing itself, it emerges from nearly nine decades past to stand in yellowing witness to a creator and a culture. To dust . . . dust from the ash bin of history.
That casual racism, the glib reduction of those unlike themselves to objects of ridicule, belies the notion that for some, others are indeed The Other, and The Other is less human than oneself, or perhaps not human at all. And if a group is less human than oneself, or not human at all -- and certainly if they're less powerful -- you can do whatever you like to them.

That's human nature. That's our fallen condition, and it's as old as Adam. We, of course, don't recognize -- or refuse to admit -- that, because Baton Rouge High, 1928.

Because Selma, 1965.

Because Birmingham, 1963.

Because Montgomery, 1954.

Because Berlin, 1933.

Because Fort Sumter, 1861.

Because. Just because.

SO HERE we stand, Donald Trump, 2016. Many American whites have decided that old hatred is the new black, and we get to be as ugly, and bigoted, and in your face as we want because a rich, vulgarian scumbag of a real-estate tycoon and reality-TV star is "telling it like it is."

"Telling it like it is" isn't, of course. Instead, it's just more of those same old lies that we prefer to hear -- the stinking spiritual and mental garbage we find so much more palatable than the God's honest truth.

Today, "fighting political correctness" just means we no longer have to bother with the virtue of rank hypocrisy, that mechanism through which malefaction pays backhanded tribute to virtue. Nowadays, we prefer our evil straight up.

"Telling it like it is" brings us back to Fricassee 1928. "It pays to read the signs."

A bit of virtuous hypocrisy from the depths of Jim Crow . . .
an ad from the 1952 Pow-Wow, the yearbook of Baton Rouge's
Istrouma High School. Click on the ad to read.

Monday, May 16, 2016

50 years ago, a very good day

May 16, 1966: The Beach Boys release Pet Sounds.

May 16, 1966: Bob Dylan releases Blonde on Blonde.

Fifty years. My God.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Coincidence? I hope not

I hope this wasn't an accident of placement. I hope it was shrewd commentary by "the liberal, mainstream media," being that it's now, oh, so true.

That is all.

Trump, ja! Sasse, nein!

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Republican Party makes me sick.

If you are a member of the GOP -- particularly the Nebraska Republican Party -- be aware this is what you have signed onto, basically the Full Trump. The Full Trump is what used to be known as fascist nativism . . . or nativist fascism . . . or your basic collection of nuts, cranks, xenophobes and bigots.

And here's the thing: I'm sure the picture painted today in the Omaha World-Herald probably would be even uglier elsewhere. Let me caution you; if Christianity for you is more than a mere identity, and if Americanism encompasses real philosophical propositions, this is going to make your blood boil. It did mine.
U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse has carved out a name for himself on the national stage as a leader in the “Never Trump” Republican faction. 
On the home front, however, the Nebraska freshman found himself rebuked Saturday by party loyalists upset at his call for a third candidate to arise and give conservatives such as himself an alternative to Donald Trump in the fall election.
Delegates at the State Republican Convention overwhelmingly passed a resolution opposing Sasse’s call for a third candidate. They argued it would only help Democrats win the White House in November.
“If you support a third-party candidate, you are going to elect Hillary Clinton, and she is going to nominate the next three or four members of the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Pat McPherson, an Omaha Republican. 
The delegates also went one step further in making clear they were lining up behind Trump. They roundly rejected a counterresolution that sought to condemn the presumptive GOP presidential nominee for making “degrading” comments toward women and minorities. (The resolution was submitted by people who opposed the earlier resolution.) 
One Republican said it was not their place to be the “thought police” in this presidential election.

They adopted one resolution calling for a state law that would require a transgender person to use a bathroom that corresponds with the gender on his or her birth certificate. They passed another to oppose the relocation of refugees into America. “I’m a foreigner in my own country,” one man said in support of the resolution.
WHAT IS the difference between, say, the National Front in France -- the old, undiluted National Front and not Marine Le Pen's prettied-up version -- and the Republican Party in Nebraska? Precious little. That has been made clear.

Actually, "Omaha Republican" Pat McPherson made that pretty clear last year, pre-Trump.

Once, the Republican Party was the Party of Lincoln. What's incomprehensible is that it jettisoned that noble pedigree, just to become the party of Donald Trump and Officer Mancuso.

Friday, May 13, 2016

3 Chords & the Truth: Don't leave the seat up

I don't know how we got here.

I think we've all gone nuts.

I don't really want to say anything, because we already have enough excuses to fight, demonize, yell and scream.

In light of all this, your Mighty Favog has elected to take 3 Chords & the Truth, for the most part, back to 1972 -- mainly because 1972 is the last time he understood what the hell was going on. And the music was pretty damn good that year.

That is all.

WELL, not quite. If you have to hit the head during the Big Show, don't stare and mind your manners.

And don't forget to flush.

That really is all.

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Gunga Spin strikes again

Once upon a time, my wife and I were sitting down to Sunday dinner at my parents' in Baton Rouge. It was Labor Day weekend, and the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon was on the Magnavox in the living room.

I always was fond of the Jerry Lewis telethon, and I'd always call in to make a donation. Sitting there at the table, I think I made the mistake of asking my old man -- not a fan -- whether he was going to contribute.

What followed was a seemingly deranged rant about people in wheelchairs who were armed to the teeth and ready to commit Swiss cheese against the rest of us. The missus and I weren't as good at the poker face then as we are now.

In other words, we burst out laughing. Trouble is, the old man was serious, and now he was really pissed.

"You might have book learnin'," he thundered, "but I got common sense!"

And then he didn't speak to us for weeks.

SO WHAT did I immediately think when I saw the latest bit of "Are you f***ing kidding me?" from former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (a.k.a., Gunga Spin, or the Destroyer of Louisiana or any number of unprintable epithets) regarding der Comb-Over?

You got it. "He may have book learnin', but I got common sense!"

Thanks a lot, Bobby.

But at least I do have common sense enough that -- if I were that sorry sack of s*** (the Jindal sorry sack of s***,  not the Donald Trump sorry sack of s***) -- I would just hide in a deep hole somewhere and not say anything. I do think I'd possess enough self-awareness not to write an op-ed  in the Wall Street Freakin' Journal saying I was going to vote for a guy I once called "a madman who must be stopped."

The Republican Party deserves every horrible thing that's going to happen to it. But for Gunga Spin, every horrible thing wouldn't be nearly enough.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

3 Chords & the Truth: Making America hate again

We have to deal with the comb-over in the punch bowl.

Trouble is, the last thing I want to talk about this week on 3 Chords & the Truth is the vulgarian with fascist tendencies hiding in the woodpile . . . otherwise known as one of America's two major political parties. So, how do you say GOP in the original German?

OK, I don't want to talk about Donald Trump on the Big Show. You probably don't want to talk about Donald Trump. So let's not talk about the plague on American democracy.

Let's let the MUSIC for the Age of Trump do the talking for the both of us.

OK? All right.

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

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Trolling the fascists

We have come to this: Donald Trump is going to be the presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

I don't have much to say about this, being near despair for my country because I think Trump actually could win, but I will say this.

What this means is that half of the political universe this country has known since 1856 has gone full-blown fascist.

That’s not just my opinion, it’s also Andrew Sullivan’s in a New York magazine piece which, by the way, probably is the best thing written thus far about this fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

THE IMPLICATIONS of that are as follows: We will be well on the way to becoming that which my father's generation fought against 70 years ago. There will be no fig leaf to cover the United States’ bare-assed moral bankruptcy.

It also puts the terrifying possibility (how large, I do not know) of civil war on the table as well.

If anyone is unsure as to who’ll be worse for what’s left of this nation, let me put it this way: Hillary Clinton would be bad — perhaps very bad. But the Donald would be the end of us, one way or another.

There will be election violence -- lethal election violence -- before November. Mark my words. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

For now, I'll just comfort myself by trolling Reince Priebus, the feckless head of the wicked GOP.