50s

The Gold

Manchester Orchestra – The Gold

I don’t know what it is about this song but it’s like a slap in the face whenever I hear it. It’s like a shock to the system and my face starts to sting and tears well up in my eyes. Maybe it’s the harmonies in the chorus. It could be the lines, “What the hell are we gonna do, black mile to the surface, I don’t want to be here anymore, it all tastes like poison.”

What the hell are we going to do? I feel like it’s a critical week. The Senate race in Alabama, the fight for Net Neutrality, the tax bill, the continued attacks on Mueller. It’s the fifth anniversary of Sandy Hook this week and the House just passed a bill to allow concealed carry nationwide despite whatever stronger state laws may be on the books.

Black mile to the surface. All of these horrors raining down on us every day makes it feel like we’re drowning in bad news, constantly. I can’t even see a light at the end of the tunnel it’s just black all the way. Even if 45 resigned or was impeached tomorrow, there’s still Pence. There’s still Ryan and McConnell, there’s still Bannon, there’s still the Koch brothers and the Mercers, there’s still Kim Jong-un and Putin. They still stole Merrick fucking Garland’s seat on the Supreme Court. I don’t want my children to grow up in a fascist state.

I don’t want to be here anymore.

It all tastes like poison.

“You can’t open your eyes for a while you just beat that moment down.” I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing for the whole past year. Holding my breath and knowing but not letting myself feel the full weight of what we’re facing. It’s all been just as bad as I expected and it won’t surprise me when it gets even worse, but I still feel like not enough people are paying attention.

I read a really depressing essay about how this segment of society has always been with us and probably will always be here, even if we beat it back with the next election cycle (or two). The supporters of 45 have an outlook on life that’s just so removed from the way I see things that I can’t wrap my head around how we reconcile with this destructive element. They truly want to destroy the very things I always believed our country stood for. They have straight up contempt for the freedom of the press, the rule of law, due process, equal rights.

I am bruised and lisping but still able to spit out truth, justice, and the American way.

 

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Ain’t No Stopping Us Now

Poi Dog Pondering – Ain’t No Stopping Us Now*

Not for the first time I have discovered myself in a video at a Poi show. I like to think I’m a good dancer. The video evidence suggests that may not be true. It doesn’t stop me from dancing, in fact I’m one of the people usually leading the charge. They’ve even created a new ticket category at the venue where Poi has been playing the last few years just for dancing. Only for their show. I checked the whole calendar and none of the other concerts had a dancing/standing ticket. I am pretty sure I have played a role in that.

*Original by McFadden & Whitehead

Maybe Partying Will Help

Minutemen – Maybe Partying Will Help

For the past year, I have found it difficult to really crack the whip when it comes to my kids and things they should or should not be doing. I think they would say I am still a pretty strict parent and that I have high expectations. On the outside that is probably true. On the inside, however, I feel like there is so much we used to take for granted that is now in jeopardy and what good is it doing my kids to be told they can’t go here or do that? How important are good grades when financial aid budgets will be wiped out if the tax bill gets through?

I got really annoyed recently at something my daughter had done. I went to pick her up and she wasn’t where I expected her to be. Since teenagers now have their cellphones with them at all times it wasn’t like I was panicked because I couldn’t get a hold of her or that I was worried, really. She was with friends and they were nearby, but she had deviated from our agreed upon plan. And I had had to wait for her longer than I had wanted. I tried not to overreact, at least in front of her friends, because doing so usually doesn’t have the desired outcome. When it was just the two of us in the car I let her know I was annoyed and that I thought they had not been smart, but I restrained myself.

When I thought about it later that evening I realized that when I was her age, I did things that were pretty similar. Honestly, the things I was doing at her age were way riskier, much less smart, and I felt like they were perfectly fine. Of course parents are there to tell you why those things are dumb or dangerous, and kids are going to be clueless. The world was ever thus.

What’s different for me now is that I feel like there’s no way to predict what things will be like in another year or two. Everything feels tenuous at best and we’re all still holding on to this notion that what we are living through today is hopefully a blip. A really nasty speedbump on our way forward. The paranoid freaker in me is back there though, saying, live it up while you have the chance. Let the kids go to the football game on a school night without enough warm clothes on. Trump could insult Kim Jong-un on Twitter tomorrow and trigger a nuclear war. Life is crazy and stressful. Maybe partying will help.

 

Warning Sign

Talking Heads – Warning Sign

I have this one friend on Facebook who reposts things from his memories all the time. If you’re not on FB, it’s this feature that shows you what you posted on that day in years past. Reading these things now from a year, two years, or even longer ago is especially grim in our current circumstances. Yesterday he reposted a Tweet written by Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker which was incredibly prescient. Posted on Nov. 13, 2011, it said, “Be on the lookout for a mentally challenged pathological liar and sexual pervert. He could be the next GOP frontrunner.”

Stops you in your tracks. Some of us have been sounding the alarm for a long time and yet, here we are. I shudder to think where we might be a year from now. I read a couple of really depressing articles this week that just knock the wind out of you. Of course we keep fighting, keep resisting, but what about the gullible millions who are so angry and deluded that they steadfastly stand behind Der Orangeführer, no matter what? They’ve been brainwashed by Fox News and simply reject facts, truth, or expertise of any kind. You can not reason with them or explain anything to them that doesn’t fit into the narrow view they allow themselves to operate in. I know we outnumber them but they are not going anywhere any time soon and the Kochs and Mercers of this world will continue to feed the beast with their billions.

Star Roving

Slowdive – Star Roving

Just got home from seeing Slowdive and I’m too tired to write anything, really. I had to be up at 5:30 this morning to drive my daughter to her school for a trip and the chill vibe plus bright lights in my face, along with the lack of sleep, made me want to just close my eyes.

Soccer Mommy opened the show. They felt like a cross between Colleen Green and Real Estate.

Off to bed for me.

Expect the Bayonet

Sheer Mag – Expect the Bayonet

Yesterday’s election results were so gratifying. I was never invested in the local races like this before. All across the country, the stories of diverse first-time candidates coming out and just crushing it in races big, and especially small. A wave is coming and it’s called payback.

“If you don’t give us the ballot, expect the bayonet.” 2018, here we come!

 

 

They Gave Me a Lamp

Public Service Broadcasting – They Gave Me a Lamp

This past July, the new album by Public Service Broadcasting, Every Valley, was released. It’s an album filled with songs about coal mining in the valleys of South Wales in the UK; from the days of literally fueling the nation’s industry, through the progress of mechanization, the strikes in the 80s, the pit closures, and the loss of jobs and devastation of communities that followed. You might think it would be an odd subject to write an album’s worth of songs about but in the aftermath of Brexit and Trump, it’s actually incredibly timely.

I went to graduate school in Wales 20 years ago. Mid-west Wales not the southern coal fields, but still, Wales with its rolling hills dotted with sheep. People spoke Welsh there, in addition to heavily-accented English, and it’s also where my husband and I met. So I knew nostalgia was going to be pulling hard and that I was going to like this album for those sampled Welsh accents no matter what.

However, I didn’t necessarily expect to love this album for the stories it tells. It deserves to be listened to in its entirety, start to finish, as the songs follow the sequence of events as they played out in the valleys. If you’re not familiar with the history of the rise and fall of these Welsh coal mining towns, you can imagine it being coal towns in West Virginia, or the car factories in Flint, or steel mills in Pennsylvania. [I also strongly recommend you watch the movie Pride. Even if I can’t convince you to listen to the whole PSB album, watch that movie.] It’s what happens when an industry dominates a town or region, and how the working-class people who built it up are “chucked on the scrap heap” when those industries leave.

This song, “They Gave Me a Lamp” is about the women’s movement during the strikes in 1984-85 when Margaret Thatcher was determined to break the miners. I saw PSB in Boston back in September and when they played this song there were video clips of women on the picket lines and putting together food packages for striking families. It could just as easily be video clips from the Women’s March back in January. I’ve seen a video from their recent show in London and J. Willgoose, Esq., introduced this song by talking about the samples in it as “telling the story that we wanted to tell, what I think is quite a powerful story of feminism, of political awakening, of political emancipation in a way, the power of protest really, which seems it’s worth to write songs about, no?”

After the inauguration, I felt like the Women’s March was such an empowering moment and I wanted it to be the start of something, not just a one-off. There were a lot of resistance groups sprouting up and a lot of them were lead by women. I went to protests against the travel ban, the March for Truth, but I also joined my local Democratic party. I’d always voted but I felt like there had to be more we could all do. I’d read about how entrenched the Republican party had become in local politics, which in turn leads to Republican-controlled statehouses, which is what gets you those horrible politicians who want to return to the 1950s, if not earlier. They often run unopposed and consequently win in places that vote blue on the national level. If we are going to succeed at preventing this country from becoming a fascist state and hopefully moving it forward from where it was at the end of Obama’s two terms, we need all hands on deck.

So when I hear the woman in the interview at the beginning of this song saying, “if you could get a woman involved in one thing, they could see there was this other life … like myself, politics was just something that shouldn’t affect me, but politics is life and everything to do with it affects you, directly or indirectly”, I raise my fist in solidarity. By the time the second sample plays the woman saying, “I think a lot of women found their feet” I see the huge crowds at the marches, I see the women who, like me, got involved in local politics, I see the new faces of the younger people who took the leap to run for office. And when those Brassy Gents™ come in and the song really takes off, I can’t help but get goosebumps and tears start rolling down my cheeks.

Today was election day. Democrats won the governors races in Virginia and New Jersey. A transgender woman beat the GOP incumbent in the VA state legislature who sponsored the “bathroom bill.” A Sikh man won as the mayor of Hoboken, NJ. Maine, with their horribly racist and just generally idiotic governor, who was Trump’s prototype, just voted to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. And here in my town, we swept our local races. Swept. Them. The resistance is just getting warmed up.

A lot of women found their feet, and now we’re ready to run.

 

All Night

Trashcan Sinatras – All Night

If I ever win the Powerball, I’m going to start a foundation for touring musicians. It’s going to give grants to bands who want to tour but who lack the money to finance transportation or hotel costs. There will also be an international arm that helps bands arrange visas and makes sure they can afford to bring their whole show on the road, overseas.

Trashcan Sinatras. The empty table was reserved for “Aunt Betty.” She was a little late arriving.

I recently saw the Trashcan Sinatras on their All Night tour, just three guys with guitars, no drums, no horns. It was great, don’t get me wrong. It was a really small stage in a small bar so it was a good fit, and I do love to hear how songs can sound when stripped down to the basic elements. But I know that sometimes I’m missing out on the full band experience that you can catch when you live where your favorite band calls home.

Admittedly this isn’t a problem if you like to go to big stadium shows. Those tend to have the budget and wherewithal to just load everything up on a truck and drive to the next city. I really don’t do those big shows anymore. It’s too expensive (though I see why, paying all of the crew to take it from place to place) and there’s just too many people. The venues I’ve been going to these past couple of years are right in my sweet spot for size and I’m a little spoiled now because of it.

More on this topic another day.

Supermoon

Omni – Supermoon

I had never heard of Omni before I saw them opening up for Franz Ferdinand back in June. I liked them and felt like they would be a lot of fun to see on their own for a full set when people aren’t impatient for the headliner. They’re from Atlanta. You could tell, couldn’t you? I mean that in the best possible way, in case that wasn’t obvious.

Once upon a time, that fact would have been enough for me to plop down probably up to seven dollars on their record. I have a pretty decent collection of records by bands who came from Georgia or North Carolina, or who had their album produced by Mitch Easter and/or Don Dixon, or mastered by Greg Calbi, was on DB Records, or 688 Records, you get the idea.

There is an original copy of the Method Actors Dancing Underneath sitting down the street in the M bin of my local (mostly used) record store. It’s $14. I haven’t bought it because that seems like a lot for just five songs. Besides, I feel pretty safe in leaving it there because I’m pretty sure that I am the only person likely to buy it. It’s been sitting there for a couple of years now and I keep pulling it out to see if the owner has realized that it’s not moving at all and maybe he should drop the price. He has not.

Now the price of a new record is rarely less than $20. I’m not begrudging bands for charging that much, given the costs to make and distribute them, to say nothing of how little they make from the streaming services, but it’s far less likely that I’ll take the plunge. The album this Omni song comes from was released in September so I couldn’t have bought it at the show anyway but I’m more likely to buy a record at a show because I am under the (perhaps mistaken – more to come on this another day) impression that the band will net more money this way. Come back this way, Omni! I’ll come see you and buy some stuff!