We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

The country I used to know

Fall                                                                           Harvest Moon

1968The country I used to know. It wasn’t perfect. Take MLK and the civil rights movement. Vietnam. Crushing, unnecessary poverty and the dismal, shameful access to health care. Coal and gas poisoning the atmosphere. The lives of women and girls. And, yes, so much else.

It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t sit at the stoplight, look at the car next to you and wonder if this asshole voted for Trump bad. It wasn’t mock the disabled, give aid and comfort to white supremacists bad. It wasn’t lock up democracy in a Republican’s only cabinet, then turn the Republicans into mean spirited and cruel operatives. It wasn’t grow the 1% at the expense of everyone else, grow the 1% at the expense of mother earth, grow the 1% at the expense of our allies. It wasn’t give aid and comfort to our enemies, to dictators and shun our friends.

No, this, this whatever we have now is worse, so much worse. I feel as if I woke up one morning, uncertain when, and found I’d moved to 1930’s Italy or Germany or Japan. As if the cultural fabric in which I lived and moved and had my being for 71 years had torn. In this case it revealed not an inept but kindly wizard, but a disturbing cabal of old white men, each one worse than Gollum, rubbing their own versions of the one ring and saying, my Precious, my Precious, my Precious.

ValuesAs I drive down the hill, then climb back up, I wonder if this is the way it was. Lives going on, wives in hospitals, trying to make sense of the unexpected, sudden calamities that visit us all but finding those calamities embedded in a greater one like Russian nesting dolls. Kate’s struggle a small instance of the larger one, a people beset by unforeseen tragedy. But, where do you take a country in extremis? Where are the emt’s for a sick nation?

This will sound strange, but I find Kate’s troubles, significant and important as they are to our family and friends, pale in comparison to the rot, yes, the evil, the poison in the veins of our body politic. These are not times of political disagreement, of debates over national debt or military preparedness or immigration policy, these are times with the flavor of a cold civil war.

I cannot describe to you how sad all this makes me. How disorienting I find these times. I don’t know what happens next, where we go from here. I hope the November elections shake the foundations of the Republic.

Too much. Kavanagh’s cowardly confirmation now seats two known sex offenders, criminals, on the highest court in our land, both with lifetime appointments. How can we trust our country? What does it mean to be an American now?

Ancientrails Looks Back: 9/11

Lughnasa                                                                        Harvest Moon

09 11 10_Joseph_0256-1Yes. I remember. Too well. At home in Andover, catching the news. Watching in disbelief as things that never happen happened. Passenger jets flying too low, not stopping, hitting, exploding. A feeling of personal violation and awful grief.

This was no moon landing, more like the Cuban Missile Crisis or the assassination of JFK, something too terrible to watch, yet too fascinating to stop. Would there be more? What did this mean? Who? Why? God, all those people falling. All those firefighters, police, EMT’s in the dust and smoke, as my Jesuit friends said of a comrade in Hiroshima, “…running toward the bomb.”

A young college sophomore was in his dorm or on campus or working, somewhere. He heard the news. Heard a call. A call to a life devoted to this country, one who had given him, in his mind, so much. Years later he would direct bombers over Libya, make plans to protect South Korea against the North, control fighters and bombers over Afghanistan, Iraq. Attend weapons school. Ten years plus and still a warrior, created by Osama bin Laden.

9.11The world, the blood. The thousands dead then, multiple more thousands of dead now, people still dying. Terrorism, asymmetric warfare, has succeeded. They have tested us, found us willing to do exactly what they need. Punish them, disproportionately. Easy recruiting. Soldiers for the caliphate. Break free of the capitalist West, hamstring the great Satan. And, gain glory from Allah.

It was, I think, the invasion of Iraq that made the terrorist’s argument for them. Afghanistan, no. Bin Laden was there. The Taliban sheltered him. We had a right to go after him, after those that aided him. But, Iraq? An unnecessary war, like Vietnam. In this case a war that convinced thousands of disenfranchised youth in the Middle East that death in jihad was more desirable than death by the thousand cuts of poverty and dysfunctional societies.

9.112Will this end? Yes. Even the Hundred Years war ended. The Thirty Years war, too. If climate change doesn’t take us all down first, at some point exhaustion will set in here and over there in the Middle East. Or, maybe a reformed Islam will take root, push out the extremists who read which texts they choose and ignore the rest.

This war, what some call the Forever War, has defined a generation. Sadly. We have learned no good lessons. No home truths. We have experienced and inflicted pain, gotten no where. Might be that climate change will eventually be the enemy that binds us all together. Wishful thinking? Probably.

Anyhow, I remember. Too well.

 

 

A Weighted Doll

Lughnasa                                                                   Waning Summer Moon

carnival-gamesOK. NYT article from an anonymous Trump administration official. Saying what we know about Trump, increasing logarithmically the force of Bob Woodward’s Fear, also making the news right now.

Wow. Trump reminds me of those weighted dolls in a carnival game. Hit’em hard with a fast pitch, they fall over, but bounce right back up, ready for the next one.

How, I would say, can he recover from these insider accounts of his tiresome pettiness, his annoying stupidity, his consummate cupidity? I would say that; but, it would ignore the other knock’em down pitches that started during his campaign when, for example, he mocked the disabled reporter, “moved on her like a bitch,” grabbed pussies because he felt his celebrity gave him an invisibility cloak.

He might be so venal, so incompetent, so clueless that no revelation will shock, no critique stick. A very, very strange situation for the person putatively in charge of the world’s most powerful military and what used to be a well respected hegemon. Shakes head, rolls eyes, goes on about his day.

Blood and Soil

Lughnasa                                                       Waning Summer Moon

great wheel3Labor Day. The bookend to Memorial Day. In my youth the end of summer because school started the next day. Labor Day falls between Lughnasa, the first fruits harvest festival and Mabon, the second harvest festival. Mabon falls under the harvest moon, about which I learned this fascinating bit of lunar lore only this week.*

The Great Wheel rolls through the year with an emphasis on agriculture, marking the growing season from Beltane to Samain and the fallow season from Samain to Beltane. That was half of the eastern Indiana in which I grew up. Cornfields planted along dusty gravel roads. Fields full of Holsteins and their milking barns. Herefords and Angus for beef. Soybeans. County fairs. 4-H. In fact, agriculture was the origin of the long summer break for school children, with the farms need for the whole family during the intensity of the growing season.

Labor-DayThe other half though was the antithesis of the Great Wheel. It was time marked off by time-clocks, shift work, assembly lines. Circadian rhythms, so important to plants and animals on the farm, got shoved aside as inefficient. Factories belched and whirred 24 hours a day, seven days a week, winter and summer. The 1950’s and the 1960’s were the post war industrial boom when manufacturing turned to domestic goods, especially cars which needed tires, steel, glass.

The long supply lines for then magisterial Detroit extended out to smoky Pittsburgh for steel, central Ohio for Firestone and BF Goodrich tires, and in our case, Anderson, Indiana for headlights, taillights, and alternators for General Motor’s cars at Guide Lamp and Delco Remy. These factories concentrated blue-collar workers, 25,000 between the two at their peak employment which coincided with my elementary and high school days, the mid-1950’s to the mid-1960’s.

labor uawAt its own peak during this same time period the United Auto Workers (UAW) union was among the most powerful labor organizations in the world. Most of my friends and classmate’s parents, usually fathers, worked at either Guide or Delco. The successful contract negotiations were made possible by a willingness of UAW workers for Ford, GM, and Chrysler to strike. The UAW had a strategy which involved focusing on one of the big three at every contract negotiation cycle, threatening and when necessary, executing a strike against each in turn. If there was a strike, the striking workers for, say GM, in the case of the Guide and Delco workers, would negotiate for the whole industry.

Over time this careful exercise of the power of workers resulted in salary and benefits which allowed folks with less than a high school education to own homes, cars, have good health care, and send their kids to college. Alexandria, my hometown of 5,000, was prosperous. Downtown had a men’s store, Baumgartner’s and a women’s store, Fermen’s, two pharmacies, two movie theaters, the Alex and the Town, the Bakery, Broyle’s furniture store, Guilkey’s shoe repair shop, banks, dime stores, a department store, P.N. Hirsch, Mahony’s shoe store, and two grocery stores. It bustled on Friday nights with shoppers and kids going to the Kid Kanteen located on the second floor of a downtown business.

labor2This is what we celebrate on Labor Day. We lift a cultural glass to the work of Joe Hill, Samuel Gompers, to the unsung organizers who worked in coal mines and gold mines, car factories and farm fields. Labor Day honors the now often forgotten need to balance the power of capital with the power of the worker. No individual worker can stand up to Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, or to McDonalds, Burger King or the hospital and clinic, the hotel and motel, the auto manufacturers of our day. But, there is no UAW equivalent for employees of these industries.

As a result, as a direct result, blue-collar work and even much white collar work, does in fact pit individual employees against their employers when it comes to salary and health care, other benefits. Of course there are a few enlightened employers out there, but they are by far the exception. The rest squeeze the worker as a cost center no different from raw materials or supply chain products.

labor fast foodIn a perverted and socially evil transformation, the former engine of social progress that was labor has morphed into workers without representation, workers who feel their world shifting out from underneath them, or already shifted. These workers and those who depend on them are now the fungible underbelly of American politics, their anger and fear driving a populist revolt.

This Labor Day is no holyday, no holiday. No, it’s a hollowed out thank you for the bravery and strength of a movement now stuttering in its attempt to cope with the disaggregation of workers, with the continual narrowing of those who have plenty, with the bloated salaries of CEO’s and top management, with the unimaginable concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

*September’s Full Moon was called the Full Corn Moon or Harvest Moon by the early North American Farmers. The term “Harvest Moon” refers to the Full Moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal Equinox. The Full Moon closest to this Equinox rises about 20 minutes later each night as opposed to the rest of the year when the moon rises around 50 minutes later each night. This was important to early farmers because they had more nights of bright moon light to gather crops.  Moongiant

 

Going to the movies

Lughnasa                                                                Waning Summer Moon

In the spirit of the holiday weekend I’m relaxing before school starts, religious school that is. Getting ready has occupied my mind on some level every day since mid-June. Now that Alan and I have a plan, I’m giving myself these three days as a break. Feels great.

Yesterday Kate and I went to BlacKkKlansman. I’m sure many of you who read this have seen it, so we’re a little late. Several folks from Beth Evergreen have seen it. The story is a bit thin. The KKK in Colorado Springs was not historically significant and though hateful were, even as presented in the film, inept. What Spike Lee has done is take that thin story and use it as the core of a biting criticism of the Trumpstate and the folks he encourages.

He begins with a satirical short film of Alec Baldwin playing a fictitious race “scholar.” He also includes clips from Gone With the Wind and Birth of a Nation, both of which smuggle in a great deal of cultural commentary on race relations and the historical context that created and sustains white supremacist ideology. He also has several Trump related jibes. For example, after a Klan initiation ceremony, David Duke has a screening of Birth of a Nation. The berobed stand up and shout “America First!” According to a Colorado Springs reporter at the time, Nancy Johnson, this happened. There were also references to making America great again.

The Adam Driver character was not Jewish in reality, so Spike Lee’s casting of him as Jewish was a vehicle for commentary on anti-semitism. Driver’s comments about being raised as a secular Jew who had not thought much about his heritage are a critique of passing, whether by blacks or Jews. The frisson between Stallworth’s blackness, which undergoes a transformation when he goes undercover to a Stokely Carmichael, by this time Kwami Ture, speech and Driver’s gradually emergent Jewish consciousness was a key feature of the film for me.

The film does not end in the Stallworth era Colorado Springs. Instead Lee cuts to actual footage from the “Unity” march for white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. Included are several different perspectives of James Alex Fields Jr driving his silver Dodge Charger into a crowd of counter protesters and killing Heather Heyer. Following those news clips and cell phone videos are scenes from Trump’s infamous, “There were good people on both sides.” reaction to those events.

A profound scene, which interlaces with the Klan initiation in which Adam Driver participates as Stallworth, has Harry Belafonte sitting in a Huey Newton chair, telling the story of the  lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas in 1916.

The ongoing satirical edge of the film, begun with the Alec Baldwin short, lulls the viewer into the same sort of “oh these buffoons aren’t a serious threat.” mentality that pervades our cultural perception of not only the Klan but other white supremacists, too. Until, that is, we see Fields’ Dodge Charger smash into unprotected protesters. Until we see our President giving aid and comfort not to the victims but to the perpetrators. Then we’re forced to go back and consider Scarlett O’Hara wending her way through wounded Confederate soldiers and the blackfaced actors in the Birth of a Nation footage. We’re forced to consider that the America First shouts with the right arm salutes was not an artifact of an era now past, but with us now and not only with us now, but with us at the highest levels of our government.

The other turn that the movie makes is the implicit correlation between the America Love it or Leave it slogans embraced by the Klan and the same cultural tensions existing now. The era of the 1960’s lives on. Here’s a quote from a woman I know, an email she sent after I commented on a friend’s positive post about this movie:

Unless i have misinterpreted your comment on Ron S.’s FB, I didn’t know you are anti our country, our flag, and no doubt have always been. If so, how come you and the others are not moving to another country? Seems hypocritical that you all are still here. To me, this is not at all free speech ala the 1st Amendment.

 

The Queen of Shadow Mountain, Spliffs, Spring Rolls

Lughnasa                                                                     Waning Summer Moon

20180828_185716Kate’s birthday present came yesterday. It has excellent lumbar and neck support, plus it inclines with the press of a small lever. She’s the queen of Shadow Mountain.

Went down the hill yesterday to the Native Roots dispensary. I wanted something Kate could use to quickly attack nausea, perhaps eliminate it. Research suggested Durban Poison, Northern Lights, Lemon Haze, or a strain like those.

Native Roots is a franchise operation, very slick and a little cold in their approach. Like all the dispensaries they check i.d. Here they made me take off my hat and glasses so the camera could get a shot of me. Inside I made a mistake when the budtender (silly, silly name) called me forward. I told her my wife had nausea and I wanted something that might help. “Never tell a budtender you’re buying for someone else. That’s illegal.” Oh, ok. “Well, I have nausea, then.” “OK. We’re good there.”

They didn’t have any of the particular strains I wanted, but she recommended a strain called Jilly Bean, one they grow themselves. I wanted a bong, but they “…don’t sell glass.” She offered me pre-rolled joints. Oh, the distance from the late sixties and its furtive culture, wrapping papers, sorting seeds and stems out on the kitchen table. These joints, spliffs, blunts have a spiral filter on the end to cool the smoke and neatly wrapped wrapped paper twisted off at the end. Very producty looking. And, not cheap. $7 each.

I bought two. She’ll try them when the nausea hits next time. If it works, we’ll get her a bong and some flower rather than pre-rolled joints. Can you believe I just wrote that sentence? This is truly the new millennium.

native roots

Kate wanted spring rolls for supper using some of the mushrooms she grew. (I know. This sounds like a back to the sixties day for us.) I sauteed the mushroom at noon. Kate got some shrimp out to defrost. After her throne arrived, I got busy. Cut up cucumber into matchstick sized pieces. Mix chopped nuts and carrots, shredded. Add fish sauce, juice of two limes and sugar. Mix. Heat water to boiling, pour over rice noodles. Mint leaves. Cilantro leaves. Lettuce leaves. Run the rice paper under the tap. Put on plate, assemble.

These were our first spring rolls, so they weren’t as elegant as, say, the Jilly Bean prerolls, but they tasted great. A successful beginning from the new Asian cookbook.

Alan is coming today and we’ll work on a calendar for our lesson plans. Classes start a week from today. Oh, my. Lots more to say about that, but not now.

 

A True North

Lughnasa                                                                Waning Summer Moon

Still thinking about the north. In 1969 Judy and I left Connersville, Indiana, headed toward Appleton, Wisconsin. In my mind the landscape would be pine trees, glistening lakes, deer, lots of people in plaid shirts. Maybe still a lumberjack or two. Jack London’s White Fang, Call of the Wild, Sea-Wolf, Burning Daylight had made me a distant fan of a place closer to the Arctic, one where the wildness of our planet had not been consumed by factories and roads.

Burning DaylightTurns out the Fox River Valley was not that place. The Fox River which runs from the Green Bay through Appleton and finally into Lake Winnebago had no available oxygen for aquatic life thanks to years of dairies and paper mills, two of the worst polluters, dumping effluent. But you could see this north from there. In the Fox River Valley it manifested itself in a tortured way through snowmobile culture and the annual ritual of the deer hunt. Both were violent and dangerous. On winter nights the lights of snowmobiles rake the roadways and countrysides as riders drive their vehicles alongside the roads from bar to bar for a shot and a beer. It was often said that grudges got settled during deer season.

White Fang’s north also announced itself in the weather. That winter we had two feet of snow in one storm, an amazement to this long time Hoosier, resident of an agricultural and industrial belt that had confused seasons often with slush and ice storms in place of winter, northern winter. I learned about engine block heaters. Temperatures dropped to way, way below zero. And stayed there.

LondonWisconsin was a bad experience for me. Judy and I had married at 21 and 17. I had graduated from college that spring and had no idea what to do next. So. Get married. By Appleton neither one of us were sure why we’d said yes to the other. The long winter nights found us drinking beer by the case and playing sheepshead with Judy’s family. Her father, a convinced alcoholic, and I, just getting started in my addiction, didn’t really get along. He was a snowmobile racer, a deer hunter, an ink salesman and a Packer fan. I had little interest in any of those things. Our only common ground was his daughter.

By 1970 I’d found myself withering in Appleton. Too much alcohol. Judy and I had agreed on an open marriage, it was the sixties after all, but when she acted on it, I discovered I hadn’t meant it. I had three jobs in Appleton: life insurance salesman (never sold a policy, lasted three months), a baker making bread and pound cakes, but getting to work at 4 a.m for $1.50 an hour lost its charm quickly, and, finally, as a rag cutter at the Fox River Valley Paper Company. This was a distinct change from studying anthropology and philosophy, fighting the establishment. And not a good one.

Seminary took me to Minnesota, where I did find my true north, not in New Brighton, of course, but up north in the boreal forest, among the 10,000 glaciated lakes and on the shores of Lake Superior. This was Burning Daylight territory. I stayed for forty-five years.

Burntside Lake, Ely

Burntside Lake, Ely

While up north, from 1969 to 2014, I discovered the insular nature of this land. The long blue ellipse of Lake Michigan made Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Upper Midwest, lack a through route to the West. We were not on the way to anywhere. You had to want to go up there for some reason and most folks in the U.S. chose not to. Nothing there unless you fished or hunted or had business or family. Cold, too. Brutal winters. As far north as most folks got was Detroit or Chicago.

Especially distant, especially unknown were the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota with the Iron Range, the Arrowhead region, Lake Superior, Voyageurs National Park, the BWCA, Warroad. It is a culture that has some common ground, snowmobiles, snowshoes, ice fishing, hiking, mineral extraction, cross-country skiing, but little integration even with the states in which they lie. What integration there is tends to be that of tourist destination and tourist though of course the Iron Range and the copper mines of the Keweenaw, the laker supported transport of the Great Lakes, and such cities as Duluth, Superior, Sault St. Marie, and Marquette attract citizens as well as visitors.

Now living in a region dominated by the story of the vanishing frontier, the Indian wars, the cowboy, mountains, and the false allure of unbridled freedom, the north country has receded from view again. It is far away, not on the way to anywhere most choose to go, and largely unknown. Yet it still feeds my imagination and my memories there are warm and many. No, I never mushed a dogsled to take medicine to a plague ridden village isolated by a blizzard (Sergeant Renfrew of the Canadian Mounted Police), but I did mush a dogsled. I never caught a muskie or a lake trout, but I did spend many happy hours picking blueberries in the late August sun. It was the north of my Jack London induced fantasy and I loved it. As I now do the Rockies.

 

 

North

Lughnasa                                                                      Waning Summer Moon

strangerReading two books right now, The Stranger in the Woods and Northland. They are oddly complementary. Northland recounts a three-year long journey by the author following the northern border across the U.S. It starts in Maine. This early part of his journey is through land very familiar to friends Paul and Sarah Strickland who live near the St. Croix River separating the U.S. and Canada. Stranger in the Woods tells the story of Christopher Knight, who grew up in central/northern Maine, graduated from high school, became a burglar alarm installer, then, at age 20 decided to disappear into the woods. He was found 27 years later after having spent the intervening time in silence, living alone in a rocky clearing and subsisting off of raiding cabins near his well-concealed home.

Porter Knox, author of Northland, says that land in the U.S. along the northern border is a land apart, distant from the rest of the country both for its inhabitants and visitors. Having lived in Minnesota for forty years, I know the Northland border there and in Michigan, too. It’s severe country in Minnesota with temperatures the rest of the country read about during the winter, lakes carved by the retreating glaciers of the last ice age and boreal forests. It’s also poor country with soil too rocky and thin for agriculture and too distant from cities for most commercial purposes. Tourism is the main economic driver there and that’s seasonal.

Knight’s family had developed a way of living in the Northland. They had a large garden, hunted, were clever with their hands and spent time with books, not media. It was a subsistence existence that reminded me of the movie Captain Fantastic. Christopher took the northland life style to a logical extreme, becoming isolated not only from the rest of the country, but from human community itself. In Minnesota and Wisconsin his family would probably have been called Jackpine Savages, which refers to folks who live off the land there, often taking multiple jobs while living mostly off game, fish and gardens.

As I write this from the top of Shadow Mountain, I can see how different and faraway this border and these lifestyles must seem to the rest of the U.S. In fact, it strikes me as odd how little known these northern lifeways are. Redneck culture, not the same, but also rural in origin, has a lot of visibility. So does the older Appalachian Scotch-Irish culture from which Redneck culture emerged. Cowboys were similarly isolated from mainstream U.S. culture, but their presence is large in U.S. history, too. Not so for the folks who live in the colder regions along the border with Canada.

 

Brain Tumors, Cute Baby Videos and Climate Change

Lughnasa                                                          Waning Summer Moon

Sandy came yesterday. She’s now four weeks or so out from the last of the radiation treatments for her brain tumor. A difficult medical story with an unsatisfying partial resolution. They couldn’t remove the tumor all at once, left much of it in place after the first surgery, then nerves grew into the tumor meaning it couldn’t be removed at all. Hence, radiation to shrink it. It’s benign, stretching the meaning of that word, but it has knocked out her hearing in one ear and seems to have left her in a permanent state of slight dizziness. She’s young, late forties I imagine, so a lot of her life is ahead.

Gabe

Gabe

Gabe’s been watching cute baby videos. His words. I asked him if he might want a baby of his own someday (he’s 10). He said, “I don’t know. Maybe.” We’re going to a movie today.We can do that because Kate wisely decided to skip needleworkers today.

This book is the culmination of more than 125 years of tradition and countless “Documentation Days,” during which quilting council members record the block technique, age, batting, backing, and color of each quilt their fellow quilters trust them to preserve.

This book is the culmination of more than 125 years of tradition and countless “Documentation Days,” during which quilting council members record the block technique, age, batting, backing, and color of each quilt their fellow quilters trust them to preserve.

On her 74th birthday, this Saturday, she’s organizing food for an interesting event. The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden offers a documentation service for quilts. They have teams that go to quilt clubs (and other venues, too, I suppose). The teams collect archival data like maker, history, description and photograph the quilts. Those records become part of the ongoing collection of the museum. The Quilt museum folks are coming to the Bailey Patchworkers meeting place, the Catholic church in Bailey. It’s before Crow Hill, the steep decline that goes into Bailey proper.

Her stamina seems to be decreasing, too. I really hope the ultrasound for her gall bladder and the new upper GI look find something. She needs to be able to gain weight. Soonest.

Thunderstorm yesterday. Nice rain. Lots of noise. Wildfire fears have eased for this year. This article in my favorite publication about the West, the High Country News, explores the angst that many of us who live out here feel. “One truism about the future is that climate change will spare no place. Still, I suspect the threat of warming feels more existential in New Mexico than it does in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. Drought has gripped the Southwest for 19 years, more than half my life.” In this rapaciously dry year, a quiet question grows louder: What are we doing here? HCN, Aug. 6, 2018

fire mitigationCalifornia fire seasons, which have grown longer and longer, producing worse fires, the Mendocino Complex Fire is now the largest ever in the state’s history, keep us always aware that what’s happening there can certainly happen here. Damocles. Closer to Shadow Mountain there are, too, the 416, the Spring Creek, the Buffalo Pass fires now out, but active this year in Colorado.

I agree with Cally Carswell, the author of the article, that our experience, our Western experience, is a foretaste of what is to come for most if not all of the planet. Her article says out loud what lurks just below the surface for Westerners. When might the fire or the water shortages be too much? When might the increasing heat dry us out or burn us down?

As the Donald might say, sad.

Music of the Counter Culture

Lughnasa                                                                Monsoon Moon

long black veilListening to some music on youtube while cleaning/rearranging. One clip leads to another. I’d started out on the Band’s “Long Black Veil” and youtube ratcheted me along to a guy named Blake Shelton. He’s a country guy, well known in areas where he’s well known, I gather. The song was, “Kiss My Country Ass.”

This was a slick video production, an official version. It featured Blake at the Carnegie Hall of Country, The Grand Ole Opry, and shifted often to videos of fans singing along and acting out the words. As I watched it, about the last half, I noticed the glee and fervor of Shelton’s fanboys and fangirls. I thought back to my own fanboy days with Steppenwolf, the Stones, Velvet Underground, the Doors, Creedence, the Band. I sang along (quietly in less I was alone) with equal passion.

kissThen it hit me. Much of country music is protest music. It’s the protest music of the blue collar worker, the southern working class, and the white supremacist (these are not conflatable categories though they may cross over.) You may have noticed this a long time ago, but I hadn’t.

Set apart by reason of counter cultural norms, this protest differs in content, but not in sociological significance. We are not like you, and, guess what? We don’t wanna be. If you don’t like that, well, you can kiss my country ass.

October 2018
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Breadcrumbs

Trails