July 19, 2007

When The Revolution Comes, I Know Where I'll Be


My back will be up against the wall, that's where I'll be. I've self-flagellated before, like every other liberal white straight suburban male, but I think I've only recently come to terms with how absolutely and irrevocably compromised I am when it comes to changing The Way Things Are in this country, at least as far as reversing the appalling damage done in the last fifteen years by neo-conservatism. In short, I've realized that I cannot competently help The Cause, whether it's helping to elect Democrats or (even better), helping tilt America toward the left to a degree it's never been before.

Why? Well, I've admitted it many times elsewhere, but my sin is sloth. Overwhelming, self-absorbed, callous sloth. The kind that insults true activists of any stripe when they come within fifty feet of me. The kind that would make them call me a Good German, or worse. The kind that, festering and fermenting into the most wretched form of apathy, drives me to cynically throw up my hands and childishly wish a pox on every house in American politics.

Oh yes, this piggie can squeal, no question about that. The thing that I feared would happen has happened. I remember telling my friends and family, while in the fervent throes of Campaign 2004, that the worst possible outcome after a Kerry loss would be a repeat of the staggering shoulder-shrug that the public seemed to give in the mid-seventies after Nixon won big and then crashed and burned. Of course, I had no idea what that was really like, bicentennial baby that I am. No idea, not then- but now? I'm beginning to understand.

Iraq? Yes, clusterfuck from the beginning. I earnestly said so, along with everyone else calling bullshit on BushCo. However, I earnestly said so on the one medium that could be ignored- could be marginalized at will by those in power. See, personally I've never believed in the triumphally transformative power of the blogosphere. I tried to get inspired, and eventually was, in momentary fits and starts and glorious instances of... what, exactly? Honestly, I'm happy for everyone who's found use and meaning in all of this, especially the activists who've actually done things instead of snipe from the sidelines.

But me? I couldn't even bring myself to write regularly to one of my best friends from high school who happened to be comanding a tank north of Baghdad for all of 2005. What I did write was substantial, but undoubtedly not enough. I stayed fat and happy at home, indulging in the same old creative high point of my life that I had for the past decade- as a bass guitarist in rock bands. Way to go, dude. Way to stick it to the Man, man. My two whole lyircs that cleverly and cryptically alluded to "political" themes sure contributed to the downfall of the Republican Congress.

I don't mean to sound flip or ungrateful. I'm immensely happy to return to the nurturing teat of the suburbia that raised me. My family and friends love me, and I enjoy a happy marriage. I am glad to do what I do for a living, even though on at least two occasions, I've had to work for clients that under other circumstances I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. I've had a lot of help to get where I did, and I'd like to think I didn't take any of it for granted.

Of course, any spoiled white GenXer or Millenial can say that, but we still don't really know what the fuck it means, and we still sound like ignorantly smug assholes when we try to genuinely Care About Things. It's our Nature. We are The Privileged and The Lucky and The Disastrously Innocent. We talk the talk and never walk the walk as much as we like (or at least enough for anyone else). We hide behind band-aids like the Peace Corps (and other vastly less useful endeavors) and pretend to care about a wider circle than our 50 closest friends and family, and...

Shit, that can't be true for everybody, even if it is true for me. Can it? I don't fucking know. I wanted to write another chapter of my burgeoning serious-white-boy novel, but out spewed this thing instead. If you've made it this far, you deserve a medal.

And to all those who would gate-crash the gate-crashers? Don't forget to give us our fucking cigarettes before we get the firing squad. Thanks.

Morning-after update: Ugh. This sure does look like some whiny stuff in the harsh light of day. Luurve that white blooz!

Cross-posted: dkos, mlw.

July 11, 2007

The Radio Around Here, Like, Totally Sucks, Man



I don't, you know, really know shit about, um, radio stations or whatever. Never managed one myself. Totally boring and selling out and stuff, running a station, you know? I mean, sure, I dig the music, man- hell, sometimes I even call in to say what's up or beg a few requests, but be in charge? Be a kahuna of any size? Nah. No way, even. Too much work, and, like, effort and shit. So I'm, like, not trying to harsh on anyone or anything, okay, but lately I've been picking up some seriously bad vibage pouring out of my FM speakers, and all I'm trying to do here is figure out what the fuck is going on, man. Somebody, please, enlighten me. I'm like those dudes who ended up all bummed and stuff in that one movie, you know?

Anyway, all my buds have always been up in my shit because I like other music besides the Rock, see? I can't help it, and I won't ever say sorry, but that's how it goes, I guess. But yeah, when we used to hang out together and break shit and bitch about our curfews and our lame parents and stuff we'd all listen to the local classic rock station. It was really fuckin' good for a while, you know? There were, like, so many different DJs who played all their- and our- favorite retro music. Beatles, Stones, Floyd, Zeppelin, you name it. Whoever was in charge must have liked the oldies, too, cause every once in a while we'd get some Elvis or Howlin' Wolf or, um... Bill Haley or... uh... Doris Day (my mom is into her music, ok?) in there. My buddies and I were all stoked that we knew who those musicians were when, like most of the kids at school had no goddam clue about any of that. It was undeniably bitchin'. I loved every minute of it.

So one summer I went away on this lame vacation with my family for about two weeks, and when I come back, I dunno, something weird happened. The same classic rock station that I loved before had started to play (and play and play and play) some real lame-ass shit, you know? I mean, sure, I guess I liked it the first hundred times or so, but my God, the non-stop marathons of Styx, Foreigner, Journey, and all sorts of, like laaaaaame bullshit bands really turned me off, man. I mean, the fucking Eagles, man? Please. Like finito. I felt hosed, you know? I didn't know what to do, so I called up one of my friends and said "Bro, what the fuck is up with the radio? Who died and made this shit 'good', man?" He was all, "Dude, don't sweat it. I called in one day and a DJ there who was like, bent as a crowbar about this shit told me that there were gonna be some new stations starting up real soon, and to hang tight 'til they were ready, and that it would be boss and a half when it was time."

And that was that, man- at least that's what we thought at the time. So we waited, and listened, and waited, and listened some more, and what we ended up with wasn't much better. It wasn't totally worse, but, you know, it was still kind of a letdown, dig? But yeah, there was this one dude who got his station all into the weirdest, freakiest improvised music. He played, like, everything from noodly jazz and bop to jammy fusion and wicked funk, and for a while we thought this guy knew his shit, but then he bailed for a day or two and let these other old dudes in to play some, like, crusty Bing Crosby and Lawrence Welk shit. I dunno, I wasn't too into that, but I figured we could give the first guy the benefit of the doubt because he'd jammed with Django, and the other guy once opened for Sinatra, but they never played any of that stuff, so I, like, bailed. I've heard since, that, like, the ratings there have totally been in the tank, so they've been trying to change that jazz station back to the classic rock format. I dunno- I wish them luck and everything, but between you and me, man, there's nothing more arrogant and smug than an aging white jazz musician. Total bummer.

At that point I tuned in to another station where this chick was playing all my favorite Patti Smith records, and some other cool punk and new-wavey stuff from the 70s & 80s. Kind of like a modern-rock sorta thing, you know? Anyway, it was pretty cool and a lot less on the cock rock and hair metal that was totally taking over everywhere else, and it stayed that way for a while 'til one day when this girl DJ went, like absolutely beyond apeshit about classic rock. Tore into it like Ozzy into a bat, you know? Totally. I mean, it wasn't so bad, really, but then her station went from punk to some weird mashup of hardcore-emo-death metal stuff. I didn't hate it, but I didn't get it, either, and then when some other dude highjacked the station and pissed all over the mixing board and flushed all the doobage down the john, well, that was it for me there.

I tried the classic rock thing again, but only for a few songs a day, and I always changed the station when they start in with the Skynyrd and stuff. I also couldn't stand the way they fucking obsessed over Woodstock and Altamont. After a few days of that, I got kinda pissed at the radio and turned the dial til I came across the craziest-ass noise I've ever heard, and I sat there for a few minutes totally fascinated. I just couldn't figure out what the fuck was up with this, until this one dude who was dating my sister's friend showed up with her at my place one time, and he was all "Man, I didn't know you dug Metal Machine Music, dude! Righteous!" Well, that was fucking it for me with that station. I mean, maybe it was art, but the day I listen to the same shit as that hipper-than-thou, too-cool-for-school crowd, well, that's the day I fuckin' turn in my rabbit ears, peeps.

So I tried and tried again to find stations I could hang with. I was desperate, man- I even stooped to cheap folk revivals, Euro-techno-world stuff, knockoff alt-country, classical, adult album alternative, even (shudder) NPR. Couldn't deal with any of 'em, you know? I dunno. I wish I knew what the fuck was up with the radio these days. I don't recognize this scene anymore. We used to have a great thing going here, people. I mean that. With or without Courtney Love.

But whatever. Maybe I'm just jealous cause none of 'em would play my band. Maybe I'm just self-flagellating cause I haven't listened to any real good soul or hip-hop in a while. Maybe they'll tell me to go to hell all over again. Maybe it doesn't matter.

Shit. Time for another beer fer sure, dude.

Cross-posted: dkos, mlw.

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