Saturday, April 29, 2017

Potholes are an imperialist plot

If you're Omaha's mayor, it's probably not such a good thing when a rare drive-by video comes out of North Korea, and the first thing that pops into people's mind is "Our streets are a lot worse than Pyongyang's."
Kim Jean-Un
Jean Stothert
Maybe if Jean Stothert got one of those Kim Jong-Un hairdos -- Kim Jean-Un? -- that would be the one little thing that turned things around for her. Either that, or we could just threaten to incinerate Council Bluffs unless. . . .

No, I think we're just screwed.

3 Chords & the Truth: Circular seasoning

This job is a lot harder than I thought it'd be.

Thought I'd just charge straight ahead on 3 Chords & the Truth. See the hill; take the hill.

Instead, I'm an ever rollin' wheel, without a destination real.

I'm an ever spinning top, whirling around till I drop.

Oh, but what am I to do? My mind is in a whirlpool!

Give me a little hope, one small thing to cling to. You got me going in circles -- oh, round and round I go!

And I can't even tell you about the show without cribbing Friends of Distinction lyrics!


I'm just going in circles. How can I make radio great again like this?

WELL . . .  let's us just accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.

And latch on to the affirmative. Don't mess with Mister In-Between.


I can't even write this stupid descriptive doomaflatchie without plagiarizing in circles. It's like circling the drain of professional life. The painted ponies go up and down on the carousel of life.
I give up. Now I'm stealing my way into abject depression about the fleeting nature of time -- and my lost youth.

Listen, the show is good, despite it all. Some stuff about circles. And some stuff you can dance to. Right here on the Big Show.

Really, it's all good. And it's not like I have a nuclear arsenal at my disposal or anything.

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Whitewashing history to keep living a lie

Here's the problem with us white Southerners, as succinctly as I can put it: We don't know who or what the hell we are apart from defining ourselves by the most horrific sins of our forefathers, then trying to whitewash that evil because it was our kin what did it.

Above, behold the truth of the antebellum South before our defeated ancestors managed to sanitize the whole unholy thing into "the Lost Cause" and -- in a triumph of what passed for "fake news" in the 1880s and 1890s -- turn the Civil War into a glorious-yet-doomed campaign against Yankee usurpers in the name of states' rights. A completely logical and fair question to ask here would be "States' rights to do what, exactly?"

The answer you would not get from the originators of Lost Cause mythology then, and the answer you will not get today from the patently racist defenders of "Southern heritage" and "history," is one reflecting the truth. The plain truth you will find in the original source materials, or from talking to any serious historian of the "War Between the States," is that, in 1861, the 11 seceding Southern states wanted to maintain the "right" of whites to hold blacks in bondage, buy and sell them like you would lumber or cotton, and then -- if Satan so moved them -- whip the "property" until their backs looked like this famous 1863 photo of an escaped Louisiana slave known as Gordon or "Whipped Peter."

The source materials and the photographic record tells us that the mutilated Gordon is a far better representative of the South's antebellum and wartime reality than the "history" and "heritage" peddled by Southern snake-oil salesmen since 1877, when Reconstruction ended at least a couple of generations too soon.

In 1961, when I was born in Baton Rouge, Southern "heritage"consisted of moonlight, magnolias and -- as Randy Newman correctly put in in his seminal "Rednecks" -- "keeping the niggers down." Or, as Alabama Gov. George Wallace put it in 1962:
"In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
Today, being that our parents couldn't stop the feds from giving blacks the vote, preserving "Southern heritage" and "history" centers on venerating the Confederate battle flag and preserving the "Lost Cause" monuments to the generals and founding fathers of the Confederate States of America -- tributes in cement and stone that started going up as soon as the last Yankee soldiers got out some 140 years ago.

In my native state, Louisiana, brainwashed Lost Causers of the Deep South booboisie are figuratively (and perhaps literally) losing their minds now that New Orleans is actually removing the first of those whitewashed tributes to treason and tyranny that rose with the Jim Crow reassertion of white supremacy. The first to go -- in the wee hours of Monday, as SWAT snipers and New Orleans street cops guarded helmeted, masked demolition workers clad in flak jackets -- was the Battle of Liberty Place monument.

It's "fascism and tyranny," one Lost Cause dead-ender yelled at the "cowardly" work crews, who also covered up the company name on their vehicles and removed the license plates. Of course, the workers wore masks and the company name was covered because every firm that so much as bid on the job faced a barrage of abuse and death threats in the name of "history" and "heritage." The owner of a Baton Rouge firm that originally won a contract discovered that his $200,000 sports car had been turned into a molten glob of metal in his parking lot -- burned.

He declined the job.

THE FAKE NEWS about Liberty Place we Louisianians were taught for a century or more was that the victory of 5,000 White League combatants over the 3,500 from New Orleans' integrated Metropolitan Police and units of the state militia represented the beginning of the end of rule by carpetbagger "usurpers." The reality was that the deadly September 1874 insurrection aimed to overthrow the Republican governor of Louisiana following a disputed 1872 election, and the White League succeeded in capturing state offices as Gov. William Pitt Kellogg took refuge in the Customs House and begged Washington for help.

Three days later, the Pelican State putsch ended when President Ulysses S. Grant sent in the U.S. Army and the White League slinked away.

The Liberty Place monument went up in 1891, erected by the Jim Crow city government. Inscriptions noting the battle's importance in establishing white supremacy were added in 1932.

From The New Orleans Advocate:
The removal was delayed, however, as the city found itself tied up in court battles that lasted until earlier this year, when the 5th Circuit ruled that the city could move forward while a trial on the monument backers' suit played out.

That case also was resolved on Monday, when U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier dismissed claims made by several groups led by the Monumental Task Committee, ruling that the plaintiffs had not shown they could succeed on the merits. Among their arguments was that the committee should have a say in what happened to the monuments because it had done work over the years to clean and restore them.
[New Orleans Mayor Mitch] Landrieu was not spotted at the removal itself, and other city officials there were not allowed to comment to the media, leaving the city’s official comments to a release issued two hours after the process began and then Landrieu's news conference.

“Our past is marked by racial divisions. Today we are moving to a place of healing,” Landrieu said.

That event was held at the police memorial in front of NOPD headquarters, a deliberate choice by the administration to accentuate the fact that the White League killed members of the city’s biracial police force during its rebellion.

Emphasizing the city’s focus on security, members of the media had to email city officials before even being told where Landrieu would speak.

“Of the four we will remove, this is perhaps the most blatant affront to the values that make New Orleans and America strong today,” Landrieu said of the Battle of Liberty Place monument.

“We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put in the heart of our city. The removal of these statues sends a clear message, an unequivocal message to the people of our nation that our city celebrates our diversity,” he added.

The Liberty Place monument has always been a flashpoint of controversy and was a site of rallies years ago by white nationalist David Duke and protests by civil rights leader Rev. Avery Alexander, something that may have contributed to Monday's level of security.

This is also the second time the monument has been removed. It was taken down from its original spot on the Canal Street neutral ground during roadwork in the late 1980s and was put up again only on orders from a federal court. It was placed in a less conspicuous spot at the foot of Iberville Street, between a garage and the floodwall.

The timing of the statue’s removal came as an odd historical coincidence in a debate focused on the Civil War and its aftermath.

Monday was Confederate Memorial Day in Mississippi and Alabama. It also marked the 155th anniversary of the day Union ships under the command of Capt. David Farragut managed to pass two Confederate forts on the river in Plaquemines Parish, an attack that started at almost exactly the same early morning hour as workers began taking down the monument. Once Farragut’s squadron made it past those forts, New Orleans, the Confederacy's largest city, was left defenseless. It surrendered without a fight four days later.

Exactly 15 years later, federal troops would leave the city on April 24 on the order of new President Rutherford B. Hayes, marking the end of Reconstruction.

The end of that federal oversight, which ushered in the Jim Crow era, was commemorated on the Liberty Place statue itself in 1932 with a plaque that said “the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.” Less inflammatory language was added when the marker was moved to Iberville Street.
THIS IS HISTORY.  The monuments are propaganda, erected to obscure history, not to shine a light on the fraught past of the American South. The Liberty Place marker and the ones yet to come down -- massive statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, who fired the opening salvos on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, as well as the biggest of all, that of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle -- say nothing about why the South fought or what it all meant.

All they do is cloak the ugly reality of a sick culture and a wicked economy built upon the exploitation and dehumanization of an entire race . . . and the culpability of the men who led 11 states into treasonous rebellion to defend the indefensible.

"History" to people either too racist or too brainwashed to comprehend the obvious is, instead, nothing more than a crude attempt to bestow a patina of dignity upon a people's and a region's ignominious and total defeat. The only relevant history involving these tributes to a well-lost cause would be that of the how-tos of disinformation and cultural brainwashing on a civilizational scale.

The "heritage" they represent is a God-damned abomination.

Once upon a time, as a well and good brainwashed son of the South, I'd be offended at all the little digs and insults from Yankees about my home place. But when you step back and look at the enormity of the South's sin and the enormity of the South's delusions -- even to this day -- you start to realize those humiliations haven't been nearly bad enough or often enough.

Frankly, there ought to have been a de-Confederafication of the South at least as extensive and long-running as the de-Nazification of Germany after World War II. Confederate symbolism should have been made as unacceptable and untouchable as the swastika became for postwar Germans.

Being charitable to vanquished enemies is one thing, but bygones-as-bygones isn't an option when the real enemy is cultural and ideological. You can rebuild the ruined land, but you damn well cannot allow the rebuilding of the toxic, deadly ideology.

The federal government, however, damn well allowed the rebuilding of the South's toxic, deadly ideology. And here we are in 2017, with loyal sons and daughters of the Southland still making excuses for the sins of their forebears -- when they can bring themselves to acknowledge America's original sin at all.

IF MITCH LANDRIEU were to ask me what to do with Lee Circle after that most prominent of the Lost Cause love letters comes down, I'd tell him that I think the city should replace the statue of Robert E. Lee with a monument to that whipped Louisiana slave whose photograph caused such a stir in the North. There should be a gigantic memorial to Gordon, or "Whipped Peter," or whoever that suffering soul was.

According to the Wikipedia entry for the famous Civil War picture, Gordon joined the Union Army after the Emancipation Proclamation -- first as a guide (he was captured by Confederates, tied to a tree, beaten, left for dead . . . and then escaped) and then as a sergeant in the Corps d'Afrique. He fought bravely at Port Hudson (La.), the first battle where black troops took the lead in a Union assault.

Where the soon-to-be-removed monument to Lee stood, I would erect a wall several stories tall. On one side, a relief of that picture of the scarred, disfigured slave who fled a plantation near Krotz Springs, La., and made it to safety in Union-occupied Baton Rouge.

ON THE OTHER SIDE of the wall, there would be a relief of this woodcut -- the Union sergeant named George, who fought as the equal of any white man at Port Hudson. And I'd rename Lee Circle something a lot more fitting . . . and inspiring.

Resurrection Circle.

I also would point out to the mayor that this Southern boy has Southern skin in this. My great-great grandfather, François Seguin, was a Confederate soldier at Port Hudson. And there he died.

In the name of a God-damned abomination.

(Later, we can discuss Louisianians' bitter refusal to honor LSU's founding superintendent . . .  William Tecumseh Sherman. Not one thing on campus is named for him. James Carville thinks the Parade Ground should be named for him; I think it should be the Union. I have skin in that controversy, too. For one thing, I am a Louisiana State graduate. Then there's the matter of another of my great-great grandfathers, Ulysses Broussard, a Confederate soldier from Louisiana who fought . . . in the Battle of Atlanta. Which is where he is buried.)

THAT'S the thing about wicked ideologies and sick cultures -- one way or another, they kill everybody without prejudice.

Caucasian sons and daughters of the South owe it to ourselves, our ancestors and history itself to, at long last, live in truth. A people and a region have no identity at all if the one they claim is a lie -- a lie that manages to both dishonor and ignore the history and humanity of fellow Southerners dehumanized, enslaved, abused and killed for the sake of "Southern heritage."

Then again, if history so far is any predictor, my people will stick with the Southern status quo of livin' the lie and partyin' like it's 1899. In that case, allow me to put a record on the turntable. You may have heard it -- fella used to live in New Orleans.

We're rednecks, we're rednecks
And we don't know our ass from a hole in the ground . . . .

Saturday, April 22, 2017

3 Chords & the Truth: Colliding subcultures, or . . .

. . . radio at a time far, far away.

You know the spiel. It's the standard 3 Chords & the Truth spiel: We've subcultured ourselves to death. Almost literally.

In the radio sense, that's a boring thing. Do you like just one kind of music? Do you only want to know anything about one kind of music . . . or about only one tiny, tiny segment of the population that looks suspiciously a lot like yourself?

I didn't think so. If you were that unbelievably narrow of taste and of mind, you wouldn't be here.

The Big Show is the place for the inquisitive and the easily bored. It's the place where cultures collide constantly -- as we've said this week in promoting the program. And -- again -- it's freakin' glorious.

NOW, I'm not sayin', but on this edition of the show, Sinatra and Steppenwolf may well coexist on your Internet connection. Might even collide.

That'd be something to hear. But I'm not sayin', you understand.

I am sayin', however, that this here program is all about what radio, at its best, used to be. It's about starting there and pushing forward.

So, forward.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Coming up on the Big Show

Click on the picture for large version

What could it be now?

Kind of like radio once upon a . . . GAAAAAH! Still trite.

OK, let's put it this way. Some of you will recognize it. Others will have their minds blown -- as usual.

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

3 Chords & the Truth: Hip to the radiophonic trip

  Has there ever been a better drug than music?

Has there ever been a better way to take it than by radio?

Allow me to answer that for you with minimal gum-flapping or keyboard wordgurgitation. No.

That is the basis of this -- and, to be truthful, every -- episode of the Big Show, which is a thing called 3 Chords & the Truth. Now, radio is an endangered species these days, and younger music lovers might not know what the deal is with it . . . why old farts like your Mighty Favog keep going on and on and on and on about how great radio was. Well, it's like this.

No, I mean like this. Like 3 Chords & the Truth.

USED TO BE that you had radio that sounded like this all over the place. Now, not so much. Now, there are places where radio -- the medium of legend -- still exists. Places where music is that best of drugs, one that can wash over you in a tidal wave of sound that will soothe your soul and expand your mind.

Radio. Wonderful, trippy, unpredictable radio.

I hope the Big Show is one of those places. These days, radio isn't always on the radio. You do what you can.

And you take it where you can find it.


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

Monday, April 10, 2017

1977: Fly the friendly skies of United
2017: Don't f*** with us, or you'll regret it

This is what happened to a paying passenger -- a physician who said he needed to get back home so he could see his patients today -- when United overbooked a flight and no one volunteered to get off the plane so four airline employees could take their places.

This is what United's chief executive said about it.

1977 United advertisement
NOW, I'd like to know a couple of things.

First, is there any damn horrible thing American cops won't do in the name of "just following orders"? If they had caught the glint off a pager or cellphone the doctor was carrying out of the corner of their eye, would the hired thugs law-enforcement officers have just the f*** shot him?

Second, if Corporate America marshaling law enforcement to manhandle and brutalize law-abiding, non-violent, paying customers on the whim of incompetents isn't a hallmark of a fascist state, what the hell is?

If justice is still any kind of a thing in this desiccated and decadent land, that doctor will be America's newest multimillionaire, will be clutching the scalp of United CEO Oscar Munoz, and those aviation cops will be saying hello to their new cellmate, Tiny.

Dude tried to make Jesus a fool. Just made hip-hop uncool.

There are worse things than the Dinner Theater for Jesus ditties of Marty Haugen. You have to go to THIS extreme to get there, but get there you can.

The only thing I can say for this is "Rayvon" didn't call himself a "Jesus Wigga." But with this level of stereotypical idiocy, I'm not sure it would have been any more offensive if he had.

Not heard in the video: God, Jesus, Resurrection, Crucifixion, Sacrifice, Grace, Passover, Redemption, Christ, Christian, Sin, Forgiveness, Heaven, Hell, Life, Death or Love.

He can't even bring himself to utter the word "church." That's just as well.

His bling, however, runneth over.

This could be the only church (or at least the only one in Bel Air, Maryland) where you walk in as Homer Simpson and walk out as Beavis or Butthead (maybe both) -- followers, no doubt, of a feckless deity seemingly more ridiculous than yourself.

THE GREAT Southern (and Catholic) writer Flannery O'Connor once said that a God you understand is less than oneself. I fear that any God -- or, more accurately, god -- that "Rayvon" proclaims as his Primo Playa logically would be forced to damn himself to hell.

What a thing to achieve in the name of relevance but not necessarily righteousness -- a "gathering" of goddamn fools in the "swagtacula" name of a damn-fool god.

I think the term for insipidness such as this is "abomination of desolation." That's in the Bible . . . another thing, come of think of it, carefully avoided in da Gozpulshizzle uh Rayvon.

Which has managed to turn Jesus Christ -- He of "seeker-friendly" implicizzle but not revelizzle -- into something seemingly even tackier than Donald Trump.

Let the congregation say "Oy veh!" Or "Anathema sit." Whichever.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

We're gonna party like it's . . . 1992

This is 90-something minutes of alternative rock 'n' roll greatness.

This is WBRH, 90.3 on your FM dial in Baton Rouge, La., almost a quarter century ago now. This also is a high-school radio station -- the broadcast voice of Baton Rouge Magnet High School.

I don't know who the DJ is . . . but she is on fire with the music she's choosing.

Likewise, I don't know when in September 1992 this aircheck was recorded, nor do I know the time of day. All I do know is this is my old station (1977-79) near the height of its musical powers.

I had been living in Omaha for more than four years by the time someone rolled tape on this bit of radio history . . . and there is no way the much larger city up Nawth had a rock station as good as this back then.

Or now, for that matter.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The city drops into the night

Eight-ish o'clock, Sunday night.

The Mexican joint in the Old Market Passageway has just closed for the evening, and I am full of chips, cerveza and the No. 2 combination plate.

The swanky joint next door is closed on a slow night for dining out.

Omaha is sluggishly, reluctantly steeling itself for the end of the weekend and the start of another workweek. But it's even worse than that -- there's a city primary election Tuesday.

When did we come to dread elections? Sigh.

All is quiet on the downtown front.

They paved paradise

  No, we didn't save the Paramount Theatre.

Yes, we did raze it and put up an Allright parking lot in downtown Baton Rouge, which specializes in not knowing what it's got till it's gone.

(Advertisement image from Gris-Gris weekly, May 21, 1979)

Saturday, April 01, 2017

3 Chords & the Truth: 33. 45. 78.




That's RPM to you and me and, to be completely accurate, the 33 is actually 33⅓ -- the speed at which a vinyl LP rotates as the music jumps out of the grooves, onto a phonograph needle and into your hi-fi as it prepares to caress your eardrums.

Compare this to your average MP3 file, which slithers out of a pair of earbuds emanating from some plastic thingy, on its way to mug your brain. And, no, the irony is not lost on us that 3 Chords & the Truth comes to you over the Internets as . . . an MP3 file.

TECHNOLOGY . . . damn . . . you . . . to . . . HELL!


Anyway, the other numbers on the Big Show this week represent the revolutions per minute of your 7-inch 45 single and your extremely obsolete 78 record.

No matter the number, we treasure them all. And that's how we roll on 3 Chords & the Truth. Amen.

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