Exhuming McCarthy

R.E.M. – Exhuming McCarthy

I thought I had written about my resistance playlist before but I can’t find it so I must not have. During the months between the election and the inauguration I tried to keep myself from descending into desperation by working on a playlist to bolster my stamina for the fights ahead. I hadn’t listened to it for quite a long time but today, I couldn’t take listening to NPR on my way to work to hear about how Vlad Jr. was committing treason in Helsinki so I plugged in the phone and fired it up. I’ve just made one substitution and should probably go back and tinker with it since it reflects the state of things before we were in it up to our eyeballs, but it did the trick on my commute. I’m sharing it with you all in this still in-progress format in case you too could use a little shot in the arm. Here you go.*

There’s a lot of talk from some GOP members about how stunned they are about Twitler kissing Putin’s ass and throwing the US intelligence agencies, plus the country as a whole, under the bus. Really? REALLY?! NOW you’re surprised? NOW you’re shocked? NOW it’s dawning on you that you’ve been backing a fascist traitor? NOW? Listen, this has been obvious for years. I was looking back through my entries to try and find that mention of this playlist and I have been talking about this since a year before the election, at least. Maybe longer. What did they think would happen when he said he would have a private meeting with no other Americans in the room? I mean, Jesus Christ, you can’t possibly be that naive.

Talk without action to back it up is cheap. How many of those Senators expressing horror at this shit show are still going to happily approve Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court? Unless they take a fucking stand and defect from the GOP, and do it now, I don’t see how they are not equally complicit. Well, I think they are complicit anyway, some actually so much so that they were alluded to in the indictment of 12 Russians last Friday. I just can’t comprehend the mental gymnastics necessary for them to live with themselves. What a bunch of fucking cowards. If/when the shit hits the fan they’ll be falling all over themselves to say they couldn’t have known. Bullshit. “…Senator, look you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Crickets.

I’ve also seen a number of people wondering why we aren’t all out in the streets. One reply I saw was pointing out that we don’t have job protections and without jobs, we don’t have health insurance. If there is a large enough outpouring so people can’t be penalized, it could work, but everyone is afraid to take that first step or waiting for the trigger. So we settle for planned marches and weekend protests. It makes us feel good for a few hours, the pictures are impressive, but it doesn’t move the needle.

Then I came to think about something my cousin had said that time I went to Germany and we visited Dresden. They used to gather in the evenings at a particular church (which had been left in ruins after the war) and shake their keys. Thousands of people all standing together and making noise. They did it on Monday nights. The wall fell within a matter of weeks. We could do that. All over the country, pick a spot, turn out. Let’s go.

* Sorry if you don’t have Spotify. I will try to make a YouTube version if I get a chance.



Woke Up Hurting

Frightened Rabbit – Woke Up Hurting

Almost two years ago exactly, I went to see Frightened Rabbit. It was such a great show that the next day I copied the setlist and made a playlist so I could keep it fresh in my mind. With the news today that Scott Hutchison’s body had been found after he’d been missing for two days, I went back to it, and to the videos I’d seen from that show.

Even when you know that a person has struggled with depression for years, when a songwriter’s catalog is full of songs that reach into the depths and even sit there comfortably for a while, it’s still a shock to the system to learn that they’ve died. We take these songs from artists and we feel a kinship with them. They express things we have felt and they allow us to draw those emotions out and feel better because we know we are understood. So it’s especially hard to realize that this gift they have, which they shared with us, wasn’t enough. When you see the catharsis in the room during Keep Yourself Warm it feels like everything will be alright. I’m so sorry that wasn’t the case.

Thank you, Scott, for your music, your honesty, your witty turn of a phrase, your humor, and your self.


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.


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.