Saturday, December 29, 2018
Monday, December 24, 2018
. . . And she gave birth to her newborn son; and she wrapped him in cloths, and laid him in a box in their refugee camp, because there was no room for them in the developed world.
but . . . the angel said unto them, Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people . . . today has been born a Savior, Christ
Saturday, December 22, 2018
Long, long ago and far, far removed from this present day and time, it is written
that our ancestress Eve was pondering an apple or something similar
on the infamous tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Whilst she pondered, neither weak nor weary,
o’er forbidden fruit of not-forgotten lore,
suddenly there came a hissing,
as of someone gently kissing,
kissing her cognitive mind
with a curious temptive find.
Her visitor, the serpent, was speaking.
Thereby was her curiosity peaking,
and as her imagination was being fed,
the subtle serpent said
take a bite
it’s all right.
If you do it, your eyes will be opened.
So she did, and they were;
her eyes were opened.
Meanwhile, back at the Eden ranch,
her significant other was wondering,
What’s up with Eve?
Where’s my woman to whom I cleave?
So he ambled over to that mysterious tree
in what circumstance his Eve may be.
And there he found her partaking
and little did they know that history was in their making
when Adam grabbed the thing and took a bite
from that forbidden fruit which expanded their sight
because the serpent had said it would open their eyes,
as Genesis says indeed it did open their eyes,
so now they would know not only good but evil as well
and so from that pivotal tasting 'til now, all hell
hence all the bad news
from then till now,
and all the trouble that human traffic will allow,
which only goes to show
what maybe you already know:
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
Now in this present world we find
a similar situation in our mind.
When’er we partake of world wide web,
by a tree of virtual good and evil are we fed:
implanted with some good talkers and bad stalkers,
and many types of souls and trolls,
with all stripes of porn and scorn,
even hateful tirades of race
opposed by traces of amazing grace.
So regarding any fruit therein you find
be judicious and take your time.
Don’t partake of anything in haste;
Be careful what you taste!
In the web of evil and good
be careful to partake of what you truly should.
So this ancient lesson to your mind I bring:
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
King of Soul
Thursday, December 20, 2018
How odd it is—as a 21st-century scenario sets itself up—
we see the world gone mad preparing again to erupt.
So unforeseen it was that our great Argument of the Ages,
the dogmatic contentions of cadres and sages
should abandon the trappings of intelligent delusion
and revert to jihadic religious intrusion.
Europa intelligentsia had decided that God was indeed dead,
and they talked for a few generations of what to do instead:
whether a capitalist path or the communist wrath,
then a communist road or a big fascist goad—
And in the midst of all that
polarizing ideological spat—
we waged two world-class wars to settle the matter
of who should wield power and who should be scattered.
You know the drill;
it persists among us still:
Who should be in charge?
a strong-arm few or the people at large—
a fascist state or some proletarian rabble,
by authoritarian edict or sectarian babble?
After all the holocaust horror and gulag gangrene
we plummet again to mucky slog of humanic bad dream.
Obsessive jihadi encircle the world;
believing their fanatic flag will fully unfurl.
Back at the hub the elite are perplexed,
while their technocrat cadres compute the complex
as the widening gyre of the jihadi fire
leaps higher and higher and higher and higher.
Perhaps the privileged, enlightened elite
should renew communion with the (wo)man on the street
whose faith in a sacrificial, Prince of Peace deity
Could it be that the God who was tossed aside
by the godless secular bureaucratizing tide
is actually the same eternal entity
who spoke our world out of chaos infinity?
Oh, let us recover some providential indemnity,
and by this testament regain our serenity.
After the Enlightenment, the Ideology, the Decline and the Fall,
Think about it the repentative way: Selah, y’all.
King of Soul
Friday, December 14, 2018
I was of that generation who wanted to save the world for democracy.When I was born, my country was fighting a war in a faraway land, trying to run the communists out of Korea. It was a valiant effort we made over there, but only—from a military and/or political standpoint—about half successful. By 1953, we had managed to help get that little Asian peninsula about half-saved for democracy.
Just like most everything in this life, we manage to get things right about half the time.That expedition did apparently turn out better than our other Asian deliverance mission—the one that ended, or so it seemed, in 1975 with our boys having to select which war refugees could be loaded onto an American helicopter and whisked away before the Viet Minh took Saigon and then later named it Ho Chi Minh City.
Like I said before, in this life we manage to get things about half right about half the time.
Which ain’t too bad really, when you consider what we’re up against.
I mean, life ain’t no bowl of cherries; it’s not a walk in the park. Sometimes it’s hard.
But you know, looking back on it all, there were the good times and there were the bad times. . .
When I was in high school, we thought it was cool to stay up late and watch the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Johnny didn’t even show up on the airwaves until 10:30, CST, after the news, and so if you could stay up that late to catch his monologue etc, you were pretty cool. At school we’d try to make jokes as funny as Johnny could. Everybody loved Johnny—he was like the Jimmy Fallon of his day. He had really cool people on his show like Marilyn Monroe or Joe DiMaggio.
Famous people would always show up to talk to Johnny; he’d ask them questions about their careers in show business and Broadway and movies and whatnot and they’d talk about themselves, and Johnny always managed to crack a few jokes about whatever they’d be yapping about. Carson was so cool and we wanted to be like him.
Every now and then he’d have some serious person on too. But they’d still manage to have a good time.
Growing up in the ’50’s and ’60’s was pretty cool. We were the first generation to have TV, and that really changed everything, although nobody really knew what the outcome of all that boob tube influence would be. Public personalities became quite adept at blowing their own horns and making big scenes. Ultimately the guy with the loudest voice managed to bluster his way into the White House. And I guess it really should be no surprise to anybody the way things have turned out.
Who could have anticipated that there would come a day when the big 3 networks would slip into the background and the universe of media would be taken over by the likes of faceboook and twitter?
But of course there are always the folks in the background who quietly get through to people with an important message while so many others are busy running their mouths about all the great things they’re doing.
One thing I’ve learned about life during my 67 years: you gotta take the bad with the good. Shit happens, and you gotta deal with it, gotta get up the next morning and keep on truckin’. Ain’t nobody gonna feel sorry for ya. Well, maybe if you have a life mate to help you cope and get along, move on the next thing and all that, life can be a little easier to deal with. At least that has been my experience.
The good book says we oughta mourn with those who mourn and laugh with those who laugh. Who would’ve ever dreamed that, in our lifetime, two such different persons as these two would be laughing together?:
Life is good; sometimes we win and other times we lose. When Boris Yeltsin managed to take hold of the old Soviet Union! it was amazing. Who’d have ever dreamed of such a thing? Berlin Wall came down without a shot after Reagan suggested to Gorbachev to tear down that wall. Amazing stuff in my lifetime. JFK, had he lived to see it, would have been proud.
I mean this life is very good in some ways. In other ways it’s not so favorable. You gotta take the good with the bad, and you gotta help people. We all need a little help. It’s good to help people along the way. Occasionally, every one of us need some really big help. I mean, while there are some victories, there are of course some terrible setbacks and tragedies.
So while the good book says we should laugh with those who laugh, it also says to mourn with those who mourn.
We gotta help each other from time to time. Everybody need a little help from time to time. In my lifetime, we tried to go over there and help the people of Vietnam to muster up some democracy, and maybe it didn’t work out so well, and maybe in some ways we even made a mess of it but hey, when my daughter visited there a few years ago, and she rode a scooter through Ho Chi Minh City (used to be called Saigon) she said the people over there love Americans, and they have a tender place in their hearts for us. Go figure!
Going back even further than that, and thinking once again about what all was going on when I was born into this world. . . we were trying to make Korea safe for democracy, we find that some really good things somehow managed to came out of it.
I think it can be concluded that good things can indeed happen when every now and then someone comes along who is willing to—instead of tooting his own horn— work quietly and diligently as an Ambassador for the Prince of Peace.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
I can think of one person, at least, who has managed to live in the manner described above by our brother Paul.
King of Soul
Sunday, December 9, 2018
Walking through the BigStore we happen upon the BigWal of Big TVs’; they be flashin out the Dreamworld for all of us to enter into, enticing us to enter into the Great Collective Cloud of Imagining.
Since a (wo)man’s home is his/her castle, you gotta take advantage of the fact that the BigWal makes it oh so easy, so convenient and affordable to pad your castle walls with the magic of the Dream Machine.
Swipe the card; swipe the Dream. Load it into your wheels and haul the Dream home. Mount the programmed Dream World on the Walls of your castle; then with a touch of fingertips there you are livin’ in the Dream. Through the electrified power of all those magnified digified images, take flight momentarily, for hours or even days at a time away from the slings and arrows of Real Life. There you are, livin’ in the dream, king/queen of your own domain.
Ya may not have forty acres in the back—maybe .40—but by golly there’s the Dream Machine up on the wall bringin the whole wild world right in your living room. Tap into it with the touch of a remote, and there it is--hot diggedy--pretty as ever, just like bein’ at Jellystone or somewhere. Nature without the dangers of lions tigers bears, frostbite, getting lost, or never comin' back alive.
Take flight! high above the earth--far, far away from all your cares and sorrows. Problems at work?
Fuhgeddaboudit! At least for a little while.
But don’t get too carried away. Sorry about the reality check here. You can’t afford to miss Monday morning! Get ready for re-entering the matrix and the credit card bill that enabled all your flights of fancy.
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Messiah has come.
The people who walk in darkness (we) have seen a great light! Can you feel it? Open up your soul to the flood of good tidings.
Listen to the great news--yes, Virginia, there is, in the universe, eternal presence of Joy. Yes, Roy, there is, in this world, a way of overcoming our bad decisions, bad government, terrible events, terrorist evil, massive tragedy, constant temptation, stupid politics, polarizing idiocy, universal iniquity, and even my own and your very own personal sin. If you've never done anything wrong, just pretend I never sent you this opportunity to repent. But if you find yourself anywhere near feeling the urgency of Messiah's message of deliverance, give it a listen. Watch and listen.
Consider leaving behind your stubbornness to not believe. Go ahead and accept that there is a Good Creator of this world, a Corrector of our climate-changed, polluting life within it. Believe there is a Deliverer--Messiah, King of Glory, who has come into human activity to show us the way out of our stupidity and iniquity.
Believe it! Accept it. He's looking for you, wants to sign you up for the Kingdom of Heaven that in the end prevails over the kingdoms, the democracies, the caliphates, the governments, the autocracies, the oligarchies, the dictatorships, the corrupt regimes of this world.
Watch this musical testimony about our ultimate triumph over injustice and enmity.
Be attentive to the counsel of ancient shepherds who beheld in the heavens never-before-seen signs of our ultimate delivery from pain and death.
If you will only believe the good news!
Victory, as demonstrated by Messiah--victory over the worst of the worst human suffering: torture, crucifixion, even death! It has been done already, and will be done again, inside of you. Go for it!
As bad as things are now, it's not over yet. It's not over 'til that alto lady sings:
"He was despised, despised and rejected, rejected of men. . . a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."
How many of us humans, through the history of mankind, have suffered the despisal of our fellow-humans? How many of us have endured rejection, how many have been forced into immigrating from destructive human degeneracy, war, racism, holocaust, persecution, murder and mayhem ? How many have persevered through terrible sorrows. . . how many members of our human race have become "acquainted with grief" as Messiah himself was?
"Surely, surely he hath born our grief, and carried our sorrows!"
The savior of us all had to be a human acquainted with grief. We have no need for a jizya-wielding conqueror. What we require is a fellow-traveler--one who has been there, been here--in the world with us, and understands our plight.
"Emmanuel: God with us!"
'We seek, we need, we long for--as the wise men of old--Messiah who overcomes suffering and death itself, and shows us the way out of our depravity.Hallelujah!
Can you comprehend it? Listen on. Listen to this musicated oration of our great message of hope for all men and women. . . the profound enactment of Handel's Messiah, as only a bunch of passionate, young Czechs could perform it. Thank you, Vaclav Lucs
Watch; Listen to the urgent message of the Ages: the angelic experience given to shepherds who, in ages past, laid the nocturnal groundwork for Georg Friedrich Handel’s revelation of Messianic visitation: divine intrusion into the sordid affairs of mankind!
Divine intervention in our world. The centerpiece event of human history, between Moses and Mohammed--one man's triumph over unbelief--one man's victory over torture and death!
If you will but believe it, 'tis yours to enter into: triumph over the injustice and tribulation of this life! and ultimate entrance into eternity!
The trumpet shall sound, and this corruption of ours made incorruptible for all time. Listen for the call in this symphony of saved life, and in your own seeking Spirit!
King of Soul
Friday, November 30, 2018
In Phase One Man took charge of the virtual heavens and earth.
The earth was wild and perilous, and adversity was over the surface of the deep, and the Striving of Man was travailing over the land and over the waters.
Then Man said, Let me find some Light, that I might have some Sight, and (S)he separated the Light from the Night. Man called the Light Right and the Night he called Fright, and there was Light and there was Night, Phase One.
Then Man said, Let there be a Net in the midst of this stuff, and let it connect the Light to our Sight. Man made the Net, which separated what we Feel from the Real deal. Man called what we feel Cool, and the Real deal he called Cloud.
And there was Cool and there was Cloud, Phase Two. What’s it to you?
Then Man said, Let the Lectrons in the Net be gathered together, and let the Web appear, and it was so and so. And Man called the Web virtually Real, and the Cloud he made so Loud that it was virtually every Where.
Then Man said Let the Web sprout vegetation: couch potatoes yielding their data with virtual tomatoes yielding their what’sittooyas. Yeah I say unto ya but you say tomato while i say tomahta and the Cloud say yeah we gotcha, it be just hot n jot like siracha.
And behold, as you can see, the Net broughteth forth confusion, or excuse me: vegetation. The Web brought forth vegetation: virtual tomatoes spurting their hootoos and and couch potahtas spudding their duds and the data from so many couch potatas tweeting their seeyalata alligata
and i’ll text it tooyah if’n I can. The candy man can the candy man can, sayeth the candy man sam, son of sam cuz he be a sagittarius ram or an L.A. ram i think i am i am therefore i am.
And there was teasing and there was mourning, Phase Three.
And then Man said, Let there be Sites in the Web to separate the Haves from the HaveNots, and the Littleduds from the BigShots and let them be for data and for you say potata an’ how’bout i say potahta and it was so and so and so on and so on.
And so Man made the two great Mights: the Righty Might to be the Right and the Lefty Might to amp up the Fright, all Night long, y’all. All night long they drum up the Fright and so by ’n by they drive the Trolls to Flight, while so many be high, high as a kite, up all night, surfin’ site to site.
It ain’t right, y’all.
And there was seething and there was mourning, Phase Four.
Then Man said, let the Web and the Net and the Cloud teem forth with swarms of living creatures, and let birdbrains fly above the virtual earth.
And Man created great Webbed monsters and Netted numerous comfortably numb couch dummies after their kind and Man saw that it was Cool.
Everybody’s cool, or thinking they am, and so the Cloud swarmeth with various and sundry mucho macho nacho-grandmother’s critters of all minds after their kind, some before and some behind, spouting babble with unbelievable babel meanwhile babylon be amblin’ along waitin for the watchtower to deflower all that proletarian power at the witching hour.
And Man messed with them, sayin’ be ye tooty-frooty and Occupy and fill the Cloud, loud and proud, and let the birdbrains multiply on their virtual reality schme-ality.
And there was scheming and there was dreaming and there was mourning. Phase Five.
And Man conceived Man in his own image, and (s)he deviated in their own lineage and brought them forth as if they were winning in their own sinnage, and stirreth them up in their svelte squirming, while they as yet knew not that they be tweeting their shittage in their own image.
And yet Man still saw it all as pretty damn good, and he liked them all; thumbs-up he gave ‘em all, y’all, in their teeming and in their scheming; so there was daydreaming and there was mourning in the days of Phase Six.
Man had at last evolved to his full potential, more crafty than any other beastly species of the field.
Good luck with that.
Thursday, November 22, 2018
Well I’m glad those Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn, aren’t you?
Back in the day, it was. . . 1620 or so.
Those Pilgrims had found themselves in a tight spot over in Europe. The hyper-institutionalized Church—both the Roman version and the Brit version—had become too high and mighty for its own good. So those Puritans, looking for a purer manifestation of the Old Time Religion, pulled up stakes and lit out for the New World.
When they got here, it was a whole new ball game; they didn’t have all that advanced Euro culture and tech to make life manageable as it had been back in the Old World.
So, thank God for Them Injuns, huh?!
Squanto, or Squatcho or Pocahontas, Sacajawea—or whoever Injun it was—demonstrated for the clueless Pilgrims how to grow corn, as you see in the pic here:
Well by ’n by, as it turned out, those Pilgrims made it through, with a little help from their friends, new friends. They managed to hang on, get through a few winters and all that adversity we hear about at Turkey Day, if we’re not too busy watching football or gearing up for the black friday ritual dance.
Anyway, after those Pilgrims squeaked through, and word got back to the old country, there were other groups of emigrants who headed west for America. And for all kinds of reasons. . . religious, economic, etcetera etcetera, and just to feel free in an undeveloped continent that wasn’t so crowded and constricted with religious and political authoritarian blahblah.
In fact, the buzz about the New World got so widespread that after a century or two it went viral. Next thing you know there’s everybody and their brother piling on ships to go west young man and get the hell out of dodge and make it over here where a man could breathe free and a woman could too.
Long about 1886 or so, those crazy French sent the Statue of Liberty over here, because they were so caught up in the idea of freedom, and they knew we had done a better job of making liberty really happen, see’n as how we didn’t have all that ancient class system and religious institutional inertia to obstruct our westward quest for freedom and liberty.
Gosh, France! Thanks for that statue, y’all.
Couldn’t a done it without you.
Anyway, long about the time that Lady Liberty showed up in New York harbor—that was pretty much the most intense period for folks get’n fed up with the Old World and strikin’ out for the New.
Crazy! Leavin’ it all behind and coming over here. Unbelievable. That took some balls, y'all! Or some gumption, or chutzpah, or hutzpah or courage, or just down-right down-n-out desperation.
Anyway, they did. They came. They forsook the Old in search of the New. So many of those Europeans and other, Africans, Asians, etcetera etcetera caught a whiff of the Liberty that was blowin’ in the wind across the wide world and so many of ‘em just chucked it all—all the the old stuff—and threw it in a rucksack or whatever and headed for the land of the free and home of the brave.
Like I said before, it went viral. And about the time that Lady Liberty got her spot in New York Harbor—that was the most intense time for folks coming this way.
And they just kept coming, and coming, and coming. . .
Brutha Neil wrote a song about it, y’all:
And they’re still coming! God bless ‘em! Coming to America!
Nowadays, some Americans who got their britches on too tight are trying to put a stop to all the folks who wanna get in on the greatness of America (Again).
They need to stop and wonder: what if your great great great great grampa and granma had’t gotten in back in the day?
Where would you be now?
Probably bobbin’ along on a rubber dingy somewhere between Lesvos and Athens, or between Belfast and Boston, or between Havana and Miami, or between San Salvador and San Isidro, or between Bangladesh and Bangor, or somewhere between a rock and a hard place.
And if your politics doesn’t allow for the extension of American liberty unto them newbies and immigrants, maybe you should adjust your politics, so you don’t feel so high and mighty about what all you got, but rather—renew the vision for what this America is all about—the land of the free and home of the brave.
Free enough to let that Freedom be extended, and brave enough to not be all paranoid about the new immigrants.
This may seem kinda naive and corny to you. But let’s not forget this is the last Thursday in November, Thanksgiving.
Cornucopia Time! There's plenty enough for everybody! Spread it around. As Brutha Paul sang it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlfW62c2nIQ
King of Soul
Monday, November 19, 2018
Antonin Dvorak was born in the Czech region of Europe in 1841. His life path brought the gifted musician through a trailblazing role as a composer of bold, new symphonic music at the Prague Conservatory,
In 1892, Antonin chose, like many other adventurous Europeans of that age, to travel to the land of wide open spaces and wide open opportunity—America.
Although his residence here was for only for a few years, that was enough time for the inspired Czech to catch hold of the American Dream; by skillful composition, he enunciated that dream in one of the most American-spirited pieces of music ever performed.
The symphony he composed here—his 9th—became known as the “New World.”
This transplanted Czech’s musical gifting had propelled him to a podium of international renown, so the National Conservatory of Music of America recruited Dvorak as their Director. When Antonin left Europe in 1892, he was bound for the big apple— New York City, USA.
During that New World phase of his life’s journey, Antonin extended his westward adventure far beyond our Atlantic coast, into the very heartland of the frontier experience. In an Iowa community of transplanted Czechs, Antonin dwelt comfortably for a season with his countrymen.
That trip from New York out to our heartland and back must certainly have been a life-changing experience for the alert musician; the orchestral piece he dreamed up— and then committed to musical score in New York in 1893— generates vivid images in my imagination. Whenever I listen to the New World Symphony, my mind fills up with excitement about the urgency and resourcefulness of our vast continent-wide expansion, which began in the farthest regions of an Old World and culminated in a New.
A recent New York Philharmonic performance of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, under the masterful hand of Alan Gilbert, presents a tender, and yet impetuous, rendering of the piece. An energetic portrayal of what Antonin had in mind when he composed his New World masterpiece.
Hearing this symphony summons adventures of travel in my imagination.
Embarking on a great adventure: this, it seems to me, is the theme of Dvorak’s musical odyssey. In the early passages, I catch glimpses of a virtuoso voyage across the rolling Atlantic Ocean. . .
with the wind in my face and a sensation of sailing steadily toward some new venue of opportunities and bright horizons.
The bouncy flutes and piccolos set this course for my imagining.
Sailing onward through Dvorak’s audible vision, I hear a finely-honed orchestra moving melodically westward, inducing a sense of fair wind favorable terrain . . . past the Statue of Liberty, then disembarking in a bustling 19th-century New York port, negotiating the busy streets, through a dynamo of enterprising business and yankee industry, then rolling farther along, out of the city and into the countryside . . . moments of repose along the way . . . through coastal commerce past planted fields o’er dusty roads, riding into green Appalachian hills,
over blue mountain ridges, catching a locomotive in Cincinnati, steaming past the fruited plains and barreling along across vast, wind-swept prairies:
The New World!
Along with the rhythmic locomotive journey through verdant landscapes, Dvorak’s bold, loud use of the trombones and trumpets provokes urgency, tension, danger at points along the way—then periodic resolvings through the ministry of exquisitely tender woodwinds—mellow oboes,
resonant clarinets—and the declarative legato of French horns, backed up, sometimes boisterously, sometimes gently, with those ever-present violins and violas.
And low thumping bassos that stand as tall and deep as elms in the great American landscape.
These flights of fancy then deliver us into thankful moments of contemplation, yeah, even reverence for a Providential presence, accompanied by fluted tremelos, and blown deeper into the traveler’s soul by the vibrant contemplation of oboes, with resonant clarinets and mellowing horns. Excitement decrescendoes past repose, into full contemplation, with the ultimate reward: wonder.
And by ’n by, sudden stirrings of urgency—yea, even danger and warning—from the bells of the trumpets and trombones, because that is the real world.
Always back to the real world. That’s the American way.
The real world of conclusion. A good thing can’t go on forever; it has to end at some point.
Oh, what a strong, bold brassy conclusion from our trombones and trumpets!
A great piece of Music!
But maybe you’d have to be there to catch my vision of it.
Or, maybe not. Next best thing:
Sunday, November 11, 2018
In 1969, I graduated from high school and went to University. In college, there was no threat to life and limb for me. It was a safe place to be.
Many of my high school buddies didn’t take that route; they joined, or were drafted into, the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard to defend our nation. At that time, defense of our nation—defense of our security and our ideals—was considered by most of our leaders to be directly related to the defeat of the Viet Minh and Viet Cong in Vietnam.
While I went to college, many men and some women of my same age shipped out to the other side of the world to run the Viet Minh insurgents back into North Vietnam, and to the shut the Viet Cong down.
The difficult mission that our national leaders had laid upon our soldiers over there was no easy task: dangerous, deadly and damn near impossible. About 54, 000 of our guys and gals who served and fought in Vietnam never came back, or they if they did return it was in a casket.
My college experience here, Stateside, was a walk in the park compared to what our armed forces were called to do in Vietnam and other theaters of war. What they did, however, was nothing new. Although in Vietnam we were strapped with a whole new set of warfare rules that few understood, and that was a major part of our problem.
But I am here today to say that: Our soldiers have been defending the USA—our freedoms and values—for two centuries.
From Valley Forge to Vietnam and Very Near, millions of our men and women have lived and died to defend us. We owe them—whether they served willingly, or were drafted—we owe them respect and gratitude for their willingness to be threatened and humiliated by the pains and dangers of war and the perilous requirements of maintaining government of the people, by the people and for the people.
From Valley Forge to Vietnam to now. . . their brave service continues to this day: defending our shores, our borders, and helping other liberty-holding nations to maintain freedom from oppression.
While thousands of guys and gals of my generation were on duty in Vietnam, many of us back here at home were protesting and working to bring our people home, because . . . the longer that war dragged on, the more and more controversial it became. Finally, by 1975, we had shut the whole project down.
So our Vietnam veterans came home and got back into the routine of living in the good ole USA. For many, many of them, this was no walk in the park, no easy transition. PTSD was, and still is, rampant among them. And while we who did not go will never understand what they endured, we can still show our appreciation.
A few years ago, I reached a time of life in which I felt a need to somehow reconcile the controversy of Vietnam that our generation had endured. My literary working-out of this angst took the form of a novel, King of Soul, which I published in 2017.
On this Veterans’ Day, I share a brief excerpt that describes one little experience in the Vietnam War. I post it here today, so that those who were there and endured such tribulation—they will know that their bravery and sacrifice does not go unnoticed by us who did not serve.
For the sharpening of our collective memory of what the hell happened over there, I post the excerpt, which begins with a quote from a popular song that many of us singing here at home. from Chapter 19 of King of Soul:
. . .where have all the young men gone, gone to flowers everyone, when will they ever learn when will they ever learn? But on the other side of the world something very different was going down . . .
. . . the gunner for their platoon, and that day he was packing an M-60 machine gun. And now there was no doubt about the threat of those nearby
NVA. Sure as hell, there was no doubt any more about anything except: they were in a firefight. Time to fight, or die. Rob got the order to haul that M-60 down the hill to a certain position and open up on ‘em. He said all he could remember about that was that he put one foot in front of the other while scuffling down that hill dragging all that weight with him, and the infernal noise that was blasting out all around him. The adrenaline was pumping and he was stumbling through it, trying to keep himself and the gun upright until he could get to where he was going, or where he was supposed to be going, which he wasn’t yet sure of. It wasn’t just the machine gun he was packing, but also three ammo belts. I mean, it was a good damn thing that he had ‘em, because he was gonna need every last one of them rounds before it was all over with. Finally he got to where he was s’posed to be, rid himself of the ammo belts and heated up the M-60, aiming up at the ridge where the AK-47 flashes were poppin’ like deadly firecrackers, but a helluva lot louder. He said he felt like he was going crazy, but somehow the craziness itself was what drove him on to do what he needed to do. I mean, what else could a man do? He was just shootin’ the hell out of them NVA, or at least he hoped he was, because it was gonna be either us or them if he had anything to say about it.
For you guys who went over there and endured such as this, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, Iwo Jima, Normandy, Ypres, San Juan Hill, Gettysburg, Valley Forge, or wherever you performed your duty for us . . .
Although we'll never understand what the hell you did over there, still . . .Thank you.
King of Soul
Friday, November 9, 2018
The greater rhapsody is the American one.
Composed by George Gershwin and performed in 1924, Rhapsody in Blue embodies the merging of our native black-born jazz with highbrow classical European instrumentation.
The other great rhapsodic composition of that time, Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, created by the immigrant Sergei Rachmaninoff, represents a Russian music-master’s exploration of an Italian violin virtuoso’s experiments. It is also a great piece of music.
Both rhapsodies are experimental, ground-breaking. Both are bouncy in their beginnings, disruptive in some transitional phrases. But both works resolve, rather suddenly, 2/3 of the way through development, to an exquisitely lush romantic theme. The listener’s endurance in earlier discordant excursions through frantic forte poundings is unexpectedly rewarded with a sudden soothing melody. In both pieces, the earlier tensions disappear as they resolve, melting into an absolutely beautiful melody.
And yet, both works return again to a frantic piano part before resolving again at the end.
Gershwin’s 1924 opus was intentionally concocted as a music experiment; it was commissioned by pioneering bandleader Paul Whiteman, and subsequently orchestrated by his jazzy arranger, Ferdie Grofé.
It turned out to be an extraordinary work of profound importance in the history of music.
By the 20th century, the hundreds-of-years old tradition of European classical music had reached an impasse. Composers were running out of ideas; they needed to break new ground. A morose preoccupation with dissonance and atonality threatened to turn orchestral music into academic drudgery.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Sergei Rachmaninoff fled Bolshevik Russia in 1917; in so doing, he also began a long process of escaping the heavy gravitational pull of a Continental musical death wish.
Europe’s rapid descent into World War I and wide-scale mechanized destruction was tragic.
America, on the other hand, was wide open with possibilities. Sergei traveled here and performed more and more frequently, accompanied by popular acclaim; ultimately he acquired US citizenship shortly before his death in 1943.
Before finally establishing residency Stateside, he had spent significant time in Dresden, Germany, and in Switzerland. While in Switzerland during the summer of 1934, he composed Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini.
It’s a marvelous piece of work.
Taking his inspiration from the great Italian violin virtuoso of a hundred years before, Sergei spun Niccolo’s multiple variations into an energetic iteration of thoroughly European rhapsody.
It was quite well done. . . profound, a notable accomplishment.
But Sergei did not have the benefit of one powerful influence that George Gershwin had been born into: a wide-open America with an entirely new beat, and worldview:
America had given birth to Louis Armstrong, and Louie— along with his ground-breaking black compadres— gave birth to jazz.
American jazz is what the Old World had been waiting for—though nobody knew—to get a new lease on creative life:
all that Jazz!
Atlantic City NJ honky bandleader Paul Whiteman was the pioneering musician who crossed the jazz bridge that changed the world; later, he commissioned George Gershwin to compose Rhapsody in Blue, because Paul knew that something symphonically jazzy was needed.
And so Gershwin came up with Rhapsody in Blue. The rest is history.
And that’s why I say the greatest rhapsody was the American one, the Blue one, written by an American, in America. It changed the world of music forever.
King of Soul
Saturday, November 3, 2018
Beneath the appearance of things
behind the wonder that contemplation brings
there lies a universe of joy and pain
entrained upon whatever relics still remain
of a world colored by some eternal stain;
and wherever that stain remains
things are not and will never be the same
provoking some to surmise it’s just a game
that they can play and then refrain
from any effort to name
so many live for what they can get;
they allow no time to pause and let
life just happen along the way
so they can soon look back and say
what a joy it is to pause and stay
in the lingering light of a well-lived day
while the world just turns on come what may.
Oh, history breaks on sands far away
while here we enter into the fray;
we laugh or cry along the way
tomorrow and today,
I say, I say:
If I could comprehend this troubled world
so creative, yet destructively unfurled
I’d grasp the mystery, so sublime
that slaps between the sands of time
on this ever-shifting, long shoreline—
maybe it’s in or out of line
and maybe with a little sip of wine,
yes, I’d dream up some silly little rhyme,
and whether it be sublime and fine
or not worth a dime,
it nevertheless is mine,
and yet it can be thine
if you take the time.
King of Soul
Sunday, October 28, 2018
From chapter 8 of Glass half-Full, we find Hilda, a restaurant-owner, telling some friends about an experience she had in Germany.
"Hitler and his thugs tried to take advantage of the situation; they launched a coup d'etat, called a putsch in German. But it failed, and they ended up getting arrested. The event has been named the beer hall putsch of 1923. Well, I was reading about these police officers who were killed by the Nazis that night. And I was reading in my guide book some information about the incident. I kept hearing this beautiful music, really spirited music. We walked in the direction of the music. We turned a corner...and there they were, five musicians playing five instruments: clarinet, violin, accordion, cello, a drummer. I could tell they were Jewish right away. I considered their courage: to stand there at the Odeonsplatz where the Nazis had made their first move to try and take over the world, and declare, with their music, that Jewish people, along with their music, were alive and well in the 21st century. They inspired me. We must have listened to them for an hour...the Bridge Ensemble."
This excerpt from my 2007 novel describes an event in the life of a fictional character named Hilda. While writing the book, I chose the occurrence to make a point about what happens in the history of our human race when hate-based groups take up arms against other people.
However, the event described here, although presented as a fictional event in a story, is in reality something that actually happened.
It happened to me. I was "Hilda." My son and I were in Munich in 2002 when the music reached my ears while I was reading a plaque about the four German policemen who had been killed during the first Nazi uprising in 1923.
It was a meaningful event in my life, so I made the experience part of a long story story that I later published in 2007. Glass half-Full is a novel about some characters in the Washington DC area; they're pretty good people, but some bad things happen to them.
Bad things happen.
When bad things happen on a large scale, nations go to war against each other and all hell breaks loose for a while. When all hell breaks loose on a major scale--a continental level of magnitude and intensity--that is called "World War."
We of mankind have had two of them. We hope that we never have another. Don't we?
In both world wars, our nation, the United States of America, intervened on behalf of our Allies. In both wars, our presence and strength in the fray made a big difference, and we were victorious in both holocausts.
Holocausts is a word I use in the context of that last sentence, meaning life sacrifices, by fire: lives being snuffed out by fire, or by other destructive means. In our post-World War II experience, the Holocaust generally refers to the mass-murder of six million Jewish Europeans under the murderous regime of the Nazis, led by the demonic Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler.
Never again should there be a holocaust of such immensity. Our nation and our armed forces were a large part of extinguishing the fire of persecution that snuffed out the lives of millions of defenseless, innocent persons before and during the Second World War.
Now, when people refer to the proposition of making America "great again," this is--or should be--the meaning of the phrase, Make America Great Again.
That we have been, in times past, the defender of innocent people who are being slaughtered on a massive scale by hate-filled groups,--this is what made America great during World War II. And this is what, generally, does make America great in any present or future time.
Great, yes, because we have--on a massive scale-- the resources and the collective will to serve as defenders of defenseless or innocent people anywhere in the world.
Not because we appoint ourselves aggressors to impose our so-called American way of life on any other nation or people-group in this world. This is where we crossed the line, in my opinion, in Vietnam. What began as a war to defend the free people of South Vietnam against aggressive Viet Minh insurgents, degenerated instead, to become a war of aggression in which we raised a lot more hell and bloodletting than we could legitimately justify; in a quasi-primitive nation that had not yet progressed to a phase of development in which they could truly understand the difference between these two words: communism and capitalism.
And may that never happen again.
A year or two ago, I also wrote a sociological novel pertaining to our Vietnam ordeal, King of Soul.
Let us Americans never be the aggressors. We are defenders. What makes our nation great, if anything, is simply the massive scale of defense we are able to muster on behalf of free and innocent people, whether it's in Europe, Rwanda, the Middle East, or anywhere, including at home. May our great strength never corrupt us.
We are defenders not only in the military applications. We are-and should always be--defenders of the defenseless in matters of law. We are, according to our original founding codes, advocates for justice in all of our institutions: courts of law, legislative bodies, government agencies, immigration agencies, overseas aid, and administrative law from welfare to wall street. That is what makes America great.
May we never stray from the preservation and extension of truth, justice, and yes, the American way.
And may we always be defenders of same.
Friday, October 26, 2018
The history of mankind has consisted of humans pulling stuff out of the ground and reworking it to suit our own survival purposes.
As people became more and civilized, and organized, the underlying survival instinct took a back seat to other motivations—gathering surplus, tribal organizing, development of skills and trades, cooperation and competition. . . eventually industry, government, education, business, recreation, sports, entertainment.
The progressive developments of all these human activities required something that was necessary and common to all of them:
Stuff from the earth itself. Raw material. Basic stuff:
Water, dirt, plants, rocks, ores, animals, hides.
As civilization moved forward, these basics were refined by us— reconstructed, manufactured to fulfill the requirements of human development.
The list of basic stuff (above) was revised to include:
Drinks, processed foods, fertilizer, livestock, leather, pets, tools, machines, lumber, metals, trains, cars, planes, appliances, telephones, radios, televisions, computers.
Computers--aha! With these, human development embarked upon a new phase.
Information itself becomes as useful (or at least we think it is as useful. . .) as all the other stuff that we’re using to make the world a more convenient place since the beginnings. Knowledge itself has became a resource. Yeah, though I dare say it—a commodity.
So we notice that over the course of human progress we did move steadily from pulling stuff out of the ground, and reworking it so that we could improve our life, to—
Pulling information out of our data machines.
Like it or not, this is the outcome of human history. We have come to this. Now development is largely about retrieving and using data files to improve life or capitalize upon its developments.
In the same manner as we traditionally removed natural resources from the ground and turned it into our good stuff.
And bad stuff. Let’s not forget that part. Our progressive high-tech life now generates bad stuff. Pollutants, toxins, noxious substances and, of course, shit itself, which still happens every day on a very large scale.
A consequence of our globally massive improvement project is that more and more persons are being driven into knowledge jobs.
Instead of all that plowing, digging, mining, constructing that we did all through history—more and more of us are typing, cataloging, programming, sitting at desks and watching computers do our so-called work for us. Such activity (relatively, it is inactivity) becomes the order of the day for us as far into the future as many of us can see.
This digitized transformation of human development will bring us to some huge changes. I read an article about it this morning:
Seeing as how we now have entered the age of information retrieval slowly overtaking natural resources recovery. . . seeing as how we gaze collectively at what seems to be the setting sun of human physical toil, I offer a tribute to the noble enterprise of Human Labor.
This tribute I offer in the form of a song. Gordon Lightfoot wrote it years ago.
It is one of the best songs ever written about the glory of human labor. You may listen to the songwriter’s rendition here:
I also offer my own rendition of Gordon’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”, a song that I dearly love to sing.
Gordon's Railroad Trilogy
As you listen to both versions, imagine you are watching a sunset—the disappearing brightness of human labor accomplishment, being supplanted by a foggy dawn of. . . whatever is ahead for our collective endeavor.
King of Soul
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Of course everybody who goes to Rome brings home mucho pictures. People travel there from all over the world to tour the originating sites of the ancient Empire; then they take a little chunk of early European history home, in the form of photographs.
When we were there, yes, we certainly did do the obligatory tourist ritual of snapping photos of the so-called Imperial City. You’ve probably seen classic images of the Roman ruins, which commemorate the Empire period of two thousand years ago.
But I was most fascinated with a relatively new structure there, Il Vittoriano.
Designed in 1885, inaugurated in 1911, and completed in 1925, this incredible monument makes an absolutely grandiose visual impression when you first catch sight of it.
You can see from this grand edifice that the Italians have never forsaken their proudly imperial self-image.
This morning, however, a Roman venue of a grittier sort—the Circus Maximus— was brought to my attention. In his Seeking Alpha post,
Mark J. Grant used that ancient racetrack as a metaphor for the fiscal contest that is now heating up over in Europe.
Here’s what Mark wrote about the presently escalating Continental showdown:
“The new "Circus Maximus" will include all of the European Union and their population of 512 million people. Sit back and enjoy the grand spectacle as Italy has now presented its budget and the European Commission has sent it back. Rome then reacted to Brussels and stood steadfast on the banks of the Tiber and now the overmasters in Brussels and Berlin will hand down judgment, and likely some form of bureaucratic justice, that was not fashioned in Italy, but which Italy is expected to obey.”
The original Circus Maximus, however, is just a dirt racetrack.
If you’re a boomer geezer like me, you may remember, from a classic race scene in the 1959 MGM movie, Ben Hur, Charlton Heston heroically outmaneuvering a less-than-honorable competing charioteer, to win the great chariot race.
That scene may or may not have taken place in the Circus Maximus of olden times.
The real Circus Maximus, where those famous chariot races usually took place, wasn’t conducted in the Colosseum. The actual site was really a huge dirt track, located near the Tiber River, beneath Palatine Hill, where Roman emperors and their hobnobbing hoodoo entourages could view the spectacle from an elevated, privileged position. Here’s what the real Circus Maximus looks like now:
Seeking Alpha blogger Mark J. Grant speculates figuratively on how the present European budgetary shootout at the Circus corral may turn out:
“The European Commission will likely wield the big stick. This is initiating its so-called 'Excessive Deficit Procedure.' This process has never been used before and will likely be tortuous for both Italy and the European Union. Fines have never been applied to any country, with previous breaches by France and Germany overlooked, and yet, there is always a first time.”
If Mark J Grant’s racetrack metaphor is indeed indicative of the present European Contest, we’ll see in the days ahead whether Italy’s impudent leaders can prevail in their fiscal rebellion, or whether they will go down with classic mutterings of “. . . et tu, Brussels?”
Friday, October 19, 2018
Some wise person said a fish wouldn’t know (s)he was out of water until it actually happened. When the angler yanked the critter up the into air, the fish would immediately know that something had gone terribly wrong.
I think our situation in modern life is a little bit like that. In our present media-engulfed life, we humans are so totally immersed in electronic media that we would feel disoriented and panicky if we were suddenly jerked out of it—like a fish out of water.
Some might even suffer withdrawals.
Nowadays some social critics among us complain about the dumming-down effects of twitter and facebook, and all that other blahblah googlifief also-ran flimflam that’s floating around in the datafied air of 2018.
Back in the day, during the adolescent phases of my baby boomer generation, people romanticized about the fact that we were the first generation to get raised up with a tv in the living room and therefore a boob-tube mindset. Whoopdee doo that we had pop-culture and instant gratification on the brain instead of the traditional 1-2-3 and a-b-c worldview of previous generations. No wonder we fantasized that we could change the world. We were walking around in the first-ever TV-generated dream world.
Actually, some of us did change the world. Those guys who were mastering their calculus and fortran instead of doping up—they managed to hatch out a totally electronic data tsunami that has since commandeered our attention and maximized our compulsive fascination with constant entertainment distractions and rampant twitt-faced narcissism.
Along with some real information, of course. There's always both bad and good in any changes that are gonna come.
A generation before us in the timeline, it was another set of emergent media wonders that were transforming the world of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. Our parents’ generation also grew up with a revolutionary media box in the living room and the dashboard—radio. They had Roosevelt’s fireside chats, Glenn Miller, Amos n’ Andy, and Orson Wells’ terribly realistic radio depiction of us being invaded by extraterrestrial aliens.
But radio was no TV. Radio was about hearing. TV was like a whole new, artificial world of hearing AND seeing.
The rate of change, accelerating in the TV age, has exponentially accelerated and intensified with the coming of the electr(on)ic internet, 21st-century version.
A few years ago, I undertook a writing project to express some of the angst of the boomer generation that I grew up in.
Because I had graduated from high school and then entered college in 1969, my novel, King of Soul, turned out to be mainly about the elephant-in-the-room issue of my g -generation's historical era—the Vietnam war.
But that war was far from being the only issue that we Americans had to deal with.
In struggling to depict—and even to somehow reconcile—the great divide between them that went and us who did not go to Vietnam, I embarked on a research project to learn how the Vietnam war had started and how it escalated to become such an overarching generational crisis. My g-generation was torn apart because of what all took place over there as a result of our tragic illusion. We thought we could, with our high-tech way of doing things, show a country of undeveloped farmers how to expel the communists.
We learned a very hard lesson. It was tragic, what happened.
While the world had worked a certain way during the Big War, when we ran the Nazis back into their holes, something had sure as hell changed by the 1960’s.
The old tactics of massive military push against jungle guerrillas did not work.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, the kids didn’t wanna have to go over there and do Lyndon’s dirty work.
The anti-war movement’s seemingly sudden organizational strength in 1967 was no mere happenstance. Those activists who devised a widespread effective resistance against the war had learned the hard facts of life from a previous protest movement—the Civil Rights movement.
It took a while for the anti-war movement to get its act together. But when they finally did, it was because of a hard lesson that had been learned by black folks down in dixie.
In the Freedom Summer of 1964, a widespread collection of honky activist youth suddenly showed up down in the Segregated South to help the black folk get organized for voting and organizing real societal change. There in the historical shadow of the old defeated, slave-slappin’ South, wide-eyed yankee students got a fierce reality check. Their rose-colored glasses were left broken on the blood-stained grounds of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, when they saw what violence and oppression the racist Establishment was inflicting on people of color.
Right here in Amerika, it was. Land of the free? and home of the brave!
A wake-up call it was. Based on what them wide-eyed college kids from up Nawth encountered when they got down here, they got a severe reality check. Stopping the war in Vietnam would be no walk in the park. There was bad shit going down right here in the good ole USA, just like in the rice paddies of Vietnam.
If the peaceniks wanted to get us out of Vietnam, they would have to get organized, and maybe even pick up some heavier-duty tactics . . . civil disobedience.
Meanwhile, there were a few blacks who were doing alright. Sam Cooke was one of them.
During the early 1960’s, Sam was a very successful singer-songwriter. Most of his tunes were soulishly romantic and swingy. He had a knack of finding the best in everything he wrote about. With an admirable optimism that shone forth in all his song-work, Sam managed somehow to spread good will and positive attitude everywhere he went, in spite of all the tough changes that were going down.
Some may have thought Sam to be an uncle tom, because he didn’t get angry.
But Sam Cooke—even though he celebrated optimism and good attitude—was no uncle tom.
He was not a “house nigga.”
Here’s a song that expresses Sam’s feeling about the societal changes that he felt needed to happen in the USA in the mid-1960’s. After his death in 1964, this composition was released posthumously on the B-side of a single record called Shake, and also on an album by the same name.
Here’s the tune, A Change Is Gonna Come:
And here’s my version:
Sam's Change Is Gonna Come
As we geezers have seen in our lifetime, change did indeed come.
But some things will remain the same.
Here’s a truth that always remains: Change is gonna come, like it or not.
When it does, may the change be with you, and . . . may you be with the change, if it is good.
If it’s not good, go listen to some of Sam’s old hit songs and get an attitude adjustment. Maybe you can learn to deal with it as he did—with a good attitude.
King of Soul
Sunday, October 14, 2018
For a very long time, people have been wandering through our world.
Many choose the rootless lifestyle because wandering makes them feel free. Others crave adventure, or exotic experience. Some launch out in search of new opportunities, greener pastures, richer soil, more money and less trouble, or better jobs. Or maybe just wide open spaces instead of crowded hovels.
Pilgrims wander in search of the sacred; saints strive for holiness; sinners search for sin, seekers seeking yang or yin.
Immigrants flee political oppression; maybe they’re escaping persecution, evading execution, or fleeing war-torn areas.
Refugees are all over the globe, frequently concentrated at certain infamous borders. We see pictures of them with trouble in their faces and children on their backs.
In earlier ages of our world development, populations were concentrated in old world cities and settlements. By ’n by, through exploration new world continents were discovered. Immigrants began streaming to the open lands. They spilled across borders, through forests, across streams, over mountains. We congregate along coasts.
Only two centuries ago, the North and South American continents were wide open spaces, as compared to the Old World. While our undeveloped wide open spaces were being populated, millions of immigrating travelers streamed in through the ports; they trundled through the coastlands, trudged across vast prairies, navigated the swift rivers, slogged over steep mountains.
But eventually those wide open spaces filled up with settlers. From virgin countryside, the New World sprouted millions of farms, foundries, factories, and modernizing facilities fulfilling functions about which our forebears held absolutely no understanding. All along those rising watchtowers and MainStreet thoroughfares towns sprung up; cities burgeoned into metropoli, and before you knew it America was as crowded as the old country.
When the Irish and the Italians, and all them other Europeans, Africans, Germans, Asians and Aegeans crowded in, New York and Boston and Philly and all them other cities became crowded, almost like the Old Country had been.
Americans worked hard and prospered. We got rich. Agriculture was flowing; industries were growing, stores and businesses were showing so many services and goods. Everybody’s fat n’ happy, pleasing mom ’n pappy; wages high; expenses low, keepin’ up with them Joneses just for show. And we built ourselves quite a nice little nation which later became, after a couple of world wars, a beacon of liberty in the eyes of the world.
Well that was then and this is now.
After 9/11, seems like everything changed, and not for the better. Instead of grace and generosity, we seem to have slid into a descent toward selfishness and paranoia.
And I can understand that.There are, after all, bad people in the world, and terrorists and self-righteous fanatics who are willing to destroy the world in order to save it. And yes, we do have to form a humane strategy for protecting our citizens from war and destruction. Let's not forget, however, that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. We need not slip further into xenophobia than we already have.
As our British brothers and sisters had earlier discovered, running an empire is no walk in the park.
Now what used to be the great American experiment seems to be slipping into a world gone mad.
As I was pickin’ around with some tunes recently, I remembered an old song from back in the day that pertains to these matters, as conditions had existed in the earlier times, when everything was different and the continent we absconded from the natives was still wide open with what we thought was freedom and possibility.
I stumbled across a tune from rhymin’ Simon. The song moved me deeply, so I thought I’d toss it out there for you to hear and ponder. I hope Paul doesn’t mind, especially since he himself borrowed part of the tune from an old Christian hymn.
Paul’s American Tune
And here’s another old tune from back in the day, which I think Woody or Pete had something to do with.
As you listen, I wish you to be warm and well-fed, which is what most folks in this world are searching for, at least until they manage to become fat ’n happy.
King of Soul
Monday, October 8, 2018
Before he raised the baton to conduct Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, Christopher Warren-Green told us Beethoven was a revolutionary.
He matter-of-factually referred to the most disruptive orchestral composer ever as a revolutionary. And just before cranking up the Charlotte Symphony, Chris speculated that those infamous first-four-notes, da-da-da-Dahhhh, were probably lifted from a French Revolutionary song of that era.
It was the worst of times; it was the best of times, as Charles Dickens later wrote.
Forsooth, ’twas a very revolutionary time—1776-1820.
And Ludwig van Beethoven was right in the middle of it.
Right in the middle of a time when the 18th-century European order of things was being torn apart by radical new ideas about the People running the show instead of the old fuddy-duddy royals who had been doing it for hundreds of years.
The young composer from northwestern Germany was indeed a musical revolutionary; he revolutionized music.
He turned the purpose of music upside down. Whereas the old order of things, financed by the royals, was all about making beautiful, harmonic, perfectly constructed sonatas and concertos to celebrate order and perfection—-
Ludwig, unable to ignore the terrible angst of that tumultuous age in which he found himself living, reflected—yeah, he even embraced—that disruptive spirit of the times.
And when they heard it sounded forth in the 5th Symphony, the royals hardly know what to make of it.
Beethoven was like the Elvis of his times, except he had an entire orchestra behind him. Multiply Elvis’ chutzpah by the number of musicians in an orchestra. That was the effect of Beethoven on the world of music.
And on the world itself, as thousands of performances since then have revealed.
Or, If not Elvis-- think of Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Rich Mullins or whoever expresses your disruptive angst and propels it into an awareness that the world is forever changing.
Like it or not, the world changes; sometimes that transforming is not pretty. Sometimes it is even disruptive, destructive, revolutionary. Music--and art generally--needs, in order to be valuable, to reflect the times we live in, and the changes that need to happen--not portraying a rose-colored-glasses dream that masks the profundity and excitement of living on this dangerous planet.
It would have been very hard, you see, for the young German prodigy to adopt the comfortable precision and beauty of his courtly predecessors—Mozart and Haydn. Au contraire, Ludwig caught hold of the gritty thrust of those revolutionary times. He deeply felt that terrible, violent wind blowing out of France; and he did, as any self-respecting genius would do, transform that terrible zeitgeist into revolutionary Music.
A truly new music, never heard before.
Unlike like any orchestra ever heard before.
Better to make disruptive music, than impose bloody revolution.
Be like Beethoven, not like Robespierre.
Work together like a revolutionary Symphony.
Teach the world to ring out Liberty!
King of Soul
Monday, October 1, 2018
This is a bad situation.
It is probably true that many many men have been getting away with rape in days gone by. And it is certainly true that politics and trouble have polarized and spun out of social control as many many victimized women who are mad as hell about the arrogance with which men flaunt their libido and leverage their blahblah white male privilege and so it is indeed possible that all hell is breaking loose in America.
And it is true that a couple of those rad feminists caught Jeff Flake while he was trying to get on or off an elevator, and those two feisty women delivered a tongue-lashing that would intimidate any uppity male member into limp impotence and politically correct compliance.
And it is true that Jeff Flake threw a curve at his fellow Republicans by trying to do the right thing and provide a forum for all this raw rage to be aired out. Maybe he did all of us Americans a favor by in effect slowing down the runaway train of GOP nomination fever, for the sake of casting our eyes for a week or so on the extreme danger that is inflicted on Americans by so many men walking around in hyped-up sexual frustration.
But the possibility that any of these issues will be resolved in the next week, as the FBI investigates Blasey Ford’s accusations—is about as probable as the New Ladies’ Temperance Union imposing mandatory burka coverage upon the live skin of all those millions of young women of America who so delight in flaunting their provocative features, even as they revel in denying lecherous men access to the partaking thereof.
And so, while this started out as a bad situation last Friday, what we know for sure is that by next Friday it will be a worse situation.
But my strategy concerning such bad situations as this is: Write a song about it.
So I did.
I wrote a song about what happened in the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting last Friday, around 1:30 Congressional time. I borrowed the melody from Mamas and Papas old tune, Creeque Alley.
You can find the tune sung at http://www.careyrowland.com, at pretty much the top of the page:
The Ballad of Brett v. Blasey
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Up there in the maternity ward is where the babies come out. After they’re born, the Ob staff lays them in little cradles all in a row, where fathers, friends and relatives of mama can gawk at the newborn and ooh and ah.
There they are all in a row, behind the glass, experiencing life in this world for the first time, not that they’ll remember this moment or anything. But there they are all in a row.
In another ward nearby, expectant mothers wait to have ultrasound pics taken of their developing unborn babies. There they all are in a row—the expectant mamas, waiting to get baby’s first pic.
Back In the ultrasound room, the tech person dawbs some gooey stuff on an expectant mama’s bulging belly; then she presses the ultrasound device to bare skin and moves it around.
Suddenly BabyRow appears on the screen.
Lo and behold, it appears that BabyRow is already making some progress in physical and cognitive development.
Squinting, the tech wonders: what is that child doing? BabyRow appears to be counting his fingers!
Ultrasound Tech Barbie exclaims unexpectedly, “What in the world are you doing in there, BabyRow?”
Meanwhile, up in the stratosphere, something unusual is happening. From 93 million miles away, a Sonspot has just arrived at planet Earth. The wave of rogue energy penetrates stratospheric earth. Suddenly, without explanation, a phase change/spectrum reversal interchange warps our planet's delicately balanced spectrum of electromagnetic razzmatazz . . .
And sound morphs into light
while light moves into sound,
exposing presence of a planetary fight.
Perpetually in world it goes round by round.
While BabyRow counts on fingers
suddenly his musing ultrasound lingers;
As Ultra forms image now of BabyRow
inexplicably his musing’s heard, roe by row.
Tech Barbie and Mama hear him, half-amazed
as BabyRow’s recitation changes phase:
“Eeenie meenie mynie moe,
catch a fetus by the toe.
Believe Brett and maybe I’ll come out alive.
But believing Blasey I’ll surely take a dive.
Don’t believe everything you hear on internet.
I’d surely appreciate a chance at life to get.
If judges abort the roe v wade,
maybe then will BabyRow be made.”