Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Benton Flippen

From Music Maker Relief Foundation
The great Mt. Airy fiddler Benton Flippen died yesterday.  He was one of the last of the generation of musicians who influenced me and my friends, as we strove to learn old-time fiddling at the various fiddlers conventions and front porches we visited in the "upland South" of the late '60s and early '70s.  Benton replaced Fred Cockerham in the Smokey Valley Boys.  Some act that!  From the email today:

"In 1990, Flippen received the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award, an annual award that was presented by the NC Arts Council to recognize traditional NC artists. He was an innovator of a distinctive style of old-time string music, utilizing double-stops (playing two notes at once), slides and a strong rhythmic bowing technique. Some of the best old-time string bands have adopted several of his tunes. Flippen is also renowned for his original compositions which include "Benton's Dream," "Fiddler's Reel," "Sally in the Turnip Patch," and "Smokey Valley Breakdown."

"Flippen was raised on a farm in Surry County, North Carolina, where he first played the banjo during his childhood. His father was an accomplished old time banjo picker, as were his uncles and brothers. As a youth, he visited his fiddling uncle John Flippen and quickly turned to playing the fiddle. Soon after, he started playing with the area's noted bands and musicians, among them the Green Valley Boys led by Glenn McPeak, and Esker Hutchins and Leak Caudill. Hutchins became an important influence on Flippen's fiddling style, which includes a heavy bow shuffle and bluesy notation.

"In the late 1960s, Flippen was invited to fiddle in the Camp Creek Boys after Fred Cockerham's departure. From the 1970s on, Flippen belonged to the Smokey Valley Boys, an outfit that has preserved Flippen's unique musical abilities on recordings. The band also earned awards at numerous fiddling competitions before disbanding in 1985. In the late 1990s Flippen reorganized his Smokey Valley Boys with new and previous members. The current lineup of his band often includes Frank Bode singing and playing guitar, William Flippen (Benton's grandson) on guitar, Kevin Fore playing banjo, Verlin Clifton on mandolin, and Andy Edmonds playing banjo and guitar.

"Flippen was a celebrated fiddler in his own right, earning first place in numerous fiddle and band contests, including the Old Fiddlers' Convention in Galax, Virginia; Union Grove/Fiddler's Grove, where he won Fiddler of the Festival three times; the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention, and many others. He also played at the Newport Folk Festival; the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee; the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes; the Smithsonian Institution; the Library of Congress; the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, Fayette County, West Virginia; and many other highly esteemed venues. He headlined the  Berkeley Old Time Music Convention in California just three years ago at the age of 88!

"His CD Fiddlers' Dream is available on CD Baby; he had six CDs to his credit, starting with 1972's The Smokey Valley Boys on the Heritage label. He also had Benton Flippen: Old Time, New Times with Rounder Records. Fiddler's Dream, his last studio album, was produced by Music Maker. He and the Smokey Mountain Boys gathered at the historic mountain music radio station WPAQ in Mount Airy, NC to do some recording, a night captured on the CD Benton Flippen & the Smokey Mountain Boys: An Evening at WPAQ, 1984."

I wrote the liner notes to one of Benton's albums back in the '70s.  He had a tremendously economical bowing style considering he was playing very rhythmic, Round Peak music.  He owned the Galax Fiddlers Convention for decades it seemed like. And why the hell not--he replaced Fred Cockerham fer gawd's sake!   Certainly a great tree has fallen.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hannity--A Pointless Exercise

Ok, it was totally my responsibility to turn on the damn car radio on the way home and then not change the channel when Hannity's show arrived from the aether.  They were talking about the excellent decision in New York last week--"they" being some guy from the so-called "family research council," a group that would be fine with gassing teh gay one and all on grounds of "improving the race," Mr. Hannity as "moderator", meaning a person who jumps in and mangles the affirmative side's sensible rejoinders, and then the other side herself, a very articulate woman named Sally, a lawyer no less, and a member of a same-sex relationship with children.  I went to Hannity's websites this morning to try to find her name, as Sally did a bang up job under the circumstances--no luck.  Mr. Hannity's website is just as fucked up as his phony talk show--that is, what Mr. Hannity produces daily is the illusion of conversation masking pure right-wing masturbation, period, end of story. 

In this particular instance Mr. Hannity had nothing to stand on at all--as the whole anti-same-sex marriage thing has never had anything going for it other than to stimulate lizard-brain hate for homosexuals.  Since a very big state has now ratified the obvious--that the right to marry should be applied equally--Hannity and the so-called Christian representative were changing tacks--yesterday the question was, is this really all right for "the children."  When Sally objected that she had children, she was chided: "let's not personalize this."  Yeah.

The thing is, people who still live in a sane, human universe should just stop going on Mr. Hannity's phony conversations.  Sally should have said "fuck you" and walked off the show, after Hannity had patronized her the first time.  Instead, like a person who makes every effort to engage with the "other side" in the hopes of finding common ground, she ignored, again and again, Hannity's no-holds-barred diminution of her personally and kept soldiering on, focused on the alleged subject of the show. 

All this did, in the end, was allow Hannity to produce yet another faux conversation, as "fair and balanced" as a 2-ton anchor around your ankle.  It is simply not worth the breath.  Right wing radio is all propaganda, 24-7.  As highly trained salespersons, they are, one and all, capable of demolishing most people of good will--because they have no good will at all.  And that's the Mussolini rejoinder. 

Meanwhile--more cudos to New York State.  What the right says about same-sex marriage may become moot. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011


According to a detailed report at FireDogLake, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Prosser physically assaulted a fellow justice (and a woman at that) prior to his upholding the "budget" law designed this past spring by Governor Walker and passed under dubiously legal circumstances by the Wisconsin Legislature.  Here's a link to the story at firedog:

As you can read in the piece, much has yet to be fact-checked.  On the other hand, no clear denials are forthcoming from Justice Prosser, and one has to wonder if one is simply a reasonable person.  And once again, I have to note that this sort of exchange is basically a hallmark of authoritarianism--fascism if you will.  We're seeing a lot of this these days, in a lot of contexts.  Too many seem to think that if things aren't going their way, it's time to choke, punch, and even shoot.  As Mussolini said to the reporter when asked what his first act would be upon becoming the Supreme Leader of Italy--"Why, to kill you."  I've quoted that before.  I just think it's a striking illustration of the moment when dialog becomes something else--something not about ideas any more.

I hope someone somewhere is working on a book about how all these right-wing governors and legislatures cooked up this state-by-state mini-revolution that's now underway.  I find it very hard to imagine that it was just "in the air," although perhaps the ground-swell of Tea Party activism which preceded last fall's elections really lifted all these people to at least temporary power.  Certainly plenty of people at the Tea Party rallies were capable of living in immediate inconsistency: there was more than one quote along the lines of "get government out of health care, but hands off my Medicare."  Humans are more than capable of living in profound inconsistency.

Indeed, just yesterday I was reading a shocking article in the New Yorker* concerning a woman who refused ever to admit she was mentally ill and who eventually was discharged from an institution in New Hampshire and subsequently starved to death living in an empty house, enthralled and distracted by her fantasies.  She wrote a journal describing her life to the bitter end, and survived for months only on apples until they finally ran out.  This true story reflects a general trend in the ongoing "contest," if you like, between a law of absolutes and a psychiatry which deals with what we actually find here in the world--complexity and shadows.  The woman's sister is suing the hospital for discharging her without any word to anyone in her family.  The hospital, grounded in many legal decisions handed down since the '70s, believed they were simply following the woman's wishes and decisions: the woman, "Linda," refused all treatment, asserted that she had no mental illness, believed her sister was controlling, stood firmly on her right to "liberty" as she walked out the door with pocket change and no plan of survival.  The question--perhaps forever an open one--is where "decisions" can be judged by others to be so misguided as to be overruled--even at peril to some absolute "freedom" that we also all support here in the USofA.  It's a conundrum, that's for sure, and it exists not only at the personal level, but at the level of the body politic.  Let us not forget:  Hitler was elected.  Thus, in a real sense the rubble that was Germany in the fall of 1945 was a result of the will of the people of Germany.

I mentioned the fine conversation with Billy Wilder I happened to watch the other day on Turner Classics.  Mr. Wilder had escaped Germany in 1933.  He made a movie about the concentration camps in 1945.  Germans walked out of it--until he tied their food ration card access to sitting through the film.  His hope was that they would see--admit to themselves in other words--what had "really" happened.  This was not an easy task.  People would much rather deny painful truths.  And frequently people actually succeed in denying--until some harsher reality simply asserts itself in its complete undeniability.  The apples ran out and Linda starved to death.  And right now, Congress withholds funding the EPA.  Just sayin'. 

*God Knows Where I Am, Annals of Mental Health, Rachel Aviv, New Yorker, May 30, 2011.  [I've been told in conversations down at the Texaco that any reference to the New Yorker is suspect, because the New Yorker is a "liberal" source not to be trusted.  I offer this footnotal anecdote as an example of the methodology of denial, living and breathing--indeed puffing on a cigaret--even here in Chatham County.]

Update: Ann Althouse has obliquely confirmed the news that Justice Prosser assaulted Justice Bradley last weekend.   Here's the link:
I take quibbling about who's "bigger" implies that the event is a fact and not some leftist smear.  

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Maryland Match Company
Libby woke me up in the night to tell me about New York's vote to make it legal for two people to marry.  Here's Tbogg's take on this very significant moment:

There's a general principle hidden in there too, in a week in which the "other side," meaning those folks Tbogg mentions in his piece, have basically outlawed all abortion clinics in Kansas by virtue of the mischievous application of building codes.  Odd that the very people who seem to relish this utter fantasy of Sharia Law being imposed on the US are themselves actually bringing Sharia Law to various of our states.

And at the national level, Mr. Cantor walks out on negotiations concerning the debt limit.  I think Digby's probably exactly right on this--it's a kabuki dance, period.  That's sad.  It means Mr. Obama is thoroughly entangled, when he should be standing up for America and explaining clearly, every day, that the Republicans are bent on destroying the entire fabric of social programs which have been put in place since the '30s.  At the very least, this really ought to be said:  if the Debt Limit is not raised, it is Republicans who are blowing up a fragile economy, and their smarmy, misleading ads about Obama's record don't change that fact a bit.  The rightwingers like to complain about Mr. Obama "apologizing" to world leaders (something he didn't do, by the way).  But it's the rightwing that he's reticent about standing up to at the moment.  Are they going to say, sometime towards next November, that it's Obama's fault because he didn't stop them from playing with matches?  Answer: of course they will, and you heard it here first.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Teevee News

Billy Wilder at work
Not the news "on" the teevee.  Last night I happened to watch some of Thom Hartmann's show, waaaaay over on the Dish dial at 9415.  (Bet you didn't even know there were four digit channels!)  Thom, who blogs and has a radio show I believe, and is generally a thoughtful kinda guy, was trying to talk to two Gen X rightwingers about our collective future--which was immediately difficult since those two didn't recognize even the concept of "collective" or "community," or the idea that they were part of a conversation.  Instead, it was the usual stuff--riding the talking points of the moment.  Somehow, for example, corporations and the wealthy needed to be taxed less.  I was embarassed for them, for a moment.  There aren't any economists asserting the voodoo any more, and it's simply proven that you cannot fill up a vessel with a hole in the bottom.  Factually speaking, if cutting taxes led to low unemployment and that shining city on the hill, we'd be there.  Because all we've done is cut taxes. No one really believes the gigantic economic catastrophe that concluded the Bush II years was all the doing of one chubby gay Congressman.

(On the other hand, and reverting to a quick blog reference in a piece about the teevee, if you doubt the utter fantasy world American conservatives live in 24/7, read this short piece at Gin and Tacos:

And now back to our commentary.)

I simply couldn't stand listening to this conversation for more than fifteen minutes or so.  It's too depressing.  Over on the Turner Classic channel I ran the schedule ahead a bit to see what was coming up.  I'd already had the good fortune to catch the wonderful conversation with Billy Wilder which they ran earlier.  If you can find that somehow, it's as good as it gets.  Who else worked with the best talent of the '40s, '50s, and '60s, and made the best films of that era--or at least some of the best.  Well, John Huston of course, and John Ford.  Too bad they weren't there too.  Anyways, running the Turner Classic schedule, I found that this weekend they're showing "Out of the Past," one of the best movies ever made, as well as an assortment of other Jane Greer vehicles.  Hope you have time to at least watch "Out of the Past."

Oh, one of the interesting things in the Wilder interview was the reminder that Otto Preminger was the original Col. Klink.  Wilder said many of the smaller players had been directed by Preminger in other films, and that apparently he was as dictatorial on set as in his role.  When he wasn't looking they aped him constantly.  The other interesting thing apropos "Stalag 17" was that Paramount suggested to Wilder that he make the spy (played by Peter Graves) Polish so as not to offend Germany, where Paramount expected the film to do very well.  Wilder resigned over this issue, leaving the studio he'd made countless hit films for over some 18 years of work.  It was refreshing to listen to a true realist.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

St. Anselm Would Be Proud

The question is--why isn't our ordinary mainstream media making this point?  The incoherence is so gigantic that it cannot be perceived from a human perspective is a possible answer.  But then there's the equally enormous effort, made almost constantly and without ceasing by all of talk radio and Fox News, to obscure the obvious.  And in this regard, big cudos to Jon Stewart, who actually put his finger right on the problem when he managed to cause Chris Wallace to leap visibly between the two meanings of "balanced", which are normally left to be part of the obscuring apparatus in their ambiguity:

(I note that already Stewart is being counter-attacked for suggesting that Fox viewers are more misinformed than, what, the "typical" viewer of news I suppose.  While as a statistic this might be hard to rigorously defend, this rejoinder is a little beside the point given the exposed "balance ambiguity" and the obvious fact that we are all subject to constant misinformation by our media, mainstream and otherwise.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

ICE and the Dream Act

after the flood of poultry jobs receded
Coupla years back our former county commissioners passed a resolution stating that our local constabulary would not be dragooned into enforcing federal immigration laws, with regard to our large and probably mostly undocumented Latino labor force.  These folks--the undocumented labor force and their families I mean--had come to our rural county because poultry husbandry and processing had become big industries here, and there was a need for, um, very cheap labor.  It is said that many of the processors advertised in Mexico for labor.  Over a couple of decades our Hispanic population grew to many thousands, and this included thousands of children in our public school system--kids who'd come here as infants or very young children, who'd never really lived in Mexico or Latin America, who speak English as their mother tongue, who succeed in our schools, who aim for higher education and American life.

It grew politically convenient for Republicans to sturm und drang about this "illegal" menace.  The resolution by our commissioners became a hot political issue.  I recall vividly discussing the simple fact that thousands of these undocumented people--and their familes--were now established here, and that some mass effort to deport them would be obviously cruel and worse.  I recall using the word "empathy" when having such discussions--and I recall my shock when the basic concept of "empathy" was derided as nothing more than an example of "bleeding heart liberalism."  We have to put aside these mere feelings, I was lectured.  We have to deal with this menace.  You are for us or you're against us.

As there was going to be a second vote on the commissioners' resolution to stay out of federal enforcement, the Republicans whipped up a crowd to go down to the court house and make their feelings known.  People who supported the resolution showed up too--and soundly defeated the Republicans in public comment before the resolution was reaffirmed.  It was actually a rather glorious night for Chatham County democracy, and I was proud to have attended.  But since that night the Court House burned down, and the Tea Party was drummed up, and our late commissioners have been defeated by a Republican reaction that has led to many distressing results both here in our county, and around the country (see, e.g., Wisconsin, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, and our own NC Legislature's current budget).  In particular, our new commissioners have voted to bring on ICE.  Whether this will have many practical results it's hard to say.  The chicken processing industry seems to be leaving the county these days, marooning thousands of folks who came here to work in those plants.  The whole "issue" might be in the process of fading away.

But I find Ms Bachmann's remarkable assertion that President Obama does not possess empathy the most flabbergastingly idiotic comment of the past week.  The Dream Act was an effort to deal with the problem of these thousands of children of undocumented workers in a fair and kind manner.  After all, these kids by and large want only to contribute to the common good, to be good citizens capable of achieving, of holding good jobs, of military service, of paying taxes (including social security).  They didn't come here by choice, and using children to punish adults is almost the example par excellence of totalitarian brutality.  When brutal force determines to crush opposition, it either wounds children in front of parents, or vice versa.  That is to say, brutality brushes all empathy aside, and has no thought to any long term consequence (since there remains the other side of the equation, obscured but not altered, that brutality is how in the end a terrorist is created--terrorism being to a significant degree another term for resistance, which is a fundamental human quality which even the muddled "tea party" salutes in its very nomenclature.)

And so.  Did Ms. Bachmann vote for or against the Dream Act, and what is her current view of this legislation?  My suspicion is, she was unalterably opposed to the Dream Act, just like the rest of the Republican Party.  In which case, the word "empathy" should be ashes in her lying mouth*.

*Ahh, a one second session with the google reveals this, from a Minneapolis newspaper of the moment:

"The DREAM Act — the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — passed the House by a 216-198 margin Wednesday. CNN reports the vote was mostly along partisan lines. In Minnesota that was true, except in one case: Blue Dog Democrat Collin Peterson sided with Republicans Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Erik Paulsen in opposing the bill. Eight Republicans voted for the bill." 

For more analysis of Republican lying, see Mr. Riley's current post on Peggy Noonan's analysis of the Republican Presidential Debate in New Hampshire this past week.  As usual, Mr. Riley is right on the money.
Meanwhile, in the dusky corridors of power, far from the hubbub of television and poor Mr. Weiner's weiner:

'Scuse me while I throw up just a little.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Reading

A soviet poster--no brainwashing in the USA

From Lance Mannion:

I suggest you read this because as is typical of Lance, he makes a very elegant detailed case of a point which is already pretty obvious to anyone who still has a realistic perspective, and some sense of empathy--but who in most cases cannot stand up to professional harangue-ists such as Hannity or Limbaugh.  The point simply boils down to no man is an island.  The people who think they did it all themselves drive to work on roads paved with the work of men fooling with asphalt when it's 120 in the shade--or when it's zero and blowing 50, and there's a fine slick you can't see till you're riding it to glory.  These people, who are convinced that they did it all themselves, sadly include a majority of our elected representatives, and 99.9% of the Republican Party apparently.  Mr. Mannion writes excellent essays not only on political subjects, but on many other subjects.  I suggest after you read this piece you send him a little green.  He certainly deserves it.

 After the collection offering, if you have the stomach for it, go check out this link as well:

Racism is like an electrode sticking out of the racist's head, for them what's infected (which plainly includes millions of Americans).  It's a sickness, a disease.  The Right Wing might even agree that it's a societal disease, when they're at the Club or watching Belmont in the slop.  But in the public world, oh no.  They see those electrodes glinting in the sun, and they know all they need to do is touch the hot wire to them and they have millions of votes for whatever it is they need votes for.  And so they do, again and again.  Now and again, the Right finds a black guy who gets that it can be lucrative to be a black racist.  Or who simply falls into the one-man-is-an-island intellectual mistake.  Possibly Mr. Cain is of the latter variety--he thinks, from his lofty perch, that he made all them damn pizzas himself, toiling without rest, day after day, no breaks, no time off, till his bootstraps got him to the moon, to a place where he could even in fantasy run for President and not be laughed at as a joke.  Possibly Mr. Clarence Thomas, Supreme Justice for Life, is of the former variety--a very smart black man who understood early on that conservative black men were a scarce commodity, and who was willing to participate in President George H.W. Bush's racist joke on America.  Speculating about individual motivations is a fool's game in any case.  Maybe Mr. Murdoch just wants to make more and more money.

Whatever the reasons, in this Media Matters highlight of one little Fox News moment, already passed, already evaporated, we see the spark of the electrode skillfully applied.  How tragic for our country.   This procedure occurs daily, possibly hour by hour, even minute by minute, if you consider all the right wing talk radio shows.  Around these parts, we even have local lobotomists to augment the various network varieties.  It's an endless flood, reinforcing unconsidered beliefs, reminding people that they needn't change anything, ever.  As time has progressed, so new strategies have developed--strategies which successfully obscure the obvious with further, more sophisticated lies.  How can there be racism in America when we have a black President?  How can Clarence Thomas, a black man, be a racist?  Voila. Meanwhile, let's all celebrate Martin Luther King Day and then move on, nothing to see, back to work. 

I happened to watch the film "A Family Thing" last week.  Here's a link to a review:

It's a very simple premise, and quite likely happens more than people care to admit.  And the question is, so what.  I don't know what happened when the movie came out 15 years ago.  We were already so splintered as a country that it wasn't a deal like "Look Who's Coming to Dinner," which is still remembered as some sort of milestone.  This is a movie about good people who let love conquer hate.  It is possible.  The sad fact is that we have whole television networks and radio networks devoted to the premise that love will not ain't no way conquer hate.

Here in America we don't use advertising science

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Coupla Boys and Their Dog

the dearly departed Beckham, c/Tbogg
Driving out of Siler yesterday on the main drag, I overtook two teens walking down one side of the road, and on the other side, apparently their pet dog, a very happy beagle-sized mutt who was keeping an eye on their progress and considering whether it was safe to cross the road to be on their side.  There was of course 5 PM traffic going both ways, pretty much at a speed of about 40 mph.  As I got close to this assembly I slowed down so as not to hit the dog if he made his decision right at that moment.  He was a smart dog, saw me coming, and did not cross.  The boys continued on their path, one holding a skateboard, neither particularly noticing what was going on.  I got past.  Other cars were slowing.  Other cars were not slowing.  Eventually in my rear-view mirror I saw the dog actually make it across.  All was well.  I thought it's no wonder we're electing nit-wits to run the country, and to command an Army with the most frightening weapons ever invented as it marches ever onwards to the next wracked third-world hell-hole.  I wondered if the two boys would have cared if the dog had been hit.  My guess is probably so, but that's just a guess. 

You know the Elizabeth Bishop poem, "One Art."    I'm not sure it's legal to quote it in entirety, but apparently there are any number of posted copies as I found them instantly by googling the poem.  So here it is, and I hope it sells some of Ms. Bishop's collected poetry volumes, as she's as good as it gets in my book.

One Art




  The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and na
mes, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my
  mother's  watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

Ms Bishop lived with a woman in Santos, Brazil,  for some years.  Eventually they broke up.  The woman in Brazil died.  Ms Bishop returned to the United States and continued to write absolutely perfect poems, including this one, about love, grief, aging, persevering.  Some say Ms Bishop was a "difficult" person.  She was friends with Robert Lowell.  He was certainly a "difficult" person.  But neither Mr. Lowell nor Ms Bishop would think to say that a marriage between two people of the same sex, who loved each other as much as Ms Bishop loved her friend, should never be allowed, because such a marriage might somehow magically "damage" the "institution of marriage." (Indeed, the breakup of the "marriage" between Ms Bishop and the woman in Brazil implies nothing about their love for each other.  Again, see the poem.)  People who take that latter view actually spit on love.  Oddly, they are mostly the same people who think that even a child brought to this country at an early age by parents who entered "illegally" in order to find work should be given no measure of help and mercy even if they make heroic efforts to get an education and become a productive member of "our" society.  For these people, who oddly enough people our churches in droves every Sunday, empathy and mercy are left in the front of the pew, with the hymn book.  For the most part they don't even know that one of the first casualties in Iraq was such a kid--a kid who got his citizenship posthumously.

Ms Bishop was born in 1911, same year as it happens as my mother.  Here's a link to her wiki biography:

We're idiots, babe, it's a wonder that we still know how to breathe.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ok, one more Weiner Comment

Actually, it's Juan Cole's.  Compare his piece (like it or not) with the news coverage of Weiner for the past week and one half.  Then ask youself whether the US is really capable of governing itself. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Meanwhile, Limbaugh

I'm not spending more time on Weiner, although I seem to have hit pretty much Ed Schultz's position.  However, the following link very much nails the utter lack of principles evidenced by Mr. Limbaugh on the subject of Weiner-gate:

You would think that Limbaugh would have learned something during his enforced rehabilitation from Oxycontin addiction.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I read on Digby yesterday that the Japanese nuclear disaster has now been rated equivalent to Chernobyl. Sampling some four hours of news "coverage" yesterday on MSNBC, all I could find was Mr. Weiner's weiner.  This is absurd.  Andrew Brietbart, who is nothing but a Nixsonian dirty trickster of of the Segretti Order, has now been elevated on NPR even to the status of worthy correspondent.  He "broke" the story.  Rachel Maddow spent much of her time developing an argument worthy of a Jesuit logic perfesser on why Mr. Weiner shouldn't resign.

Just a few days back the Republicans were working diligently to destroy Medicare as we know it.  Far as I know, this has not changed.  A Republican has now offered a plan which, if implemented, will destroy Social Security.  Silence.  There was serious talk, on NPR and in print, that if the Debt Ceiling is not raised as required, social security checks might not go out--the argument being, paying creditors such as China and other major international bond holders might well be more essential to the maintenance of our economy than paying aging World War II vets living in assisted living facilities.  For all I know there might have been even more tornadoes this week.  Heard anything from Tulsa lately?  Twisting the short wave dial here, at 2 AM, all I got was  "crackle crackle weinerdick crackle weiner crackle crackle crackle."  I can't wait for Ms Palin to weigh in on this momentous subject.  Surely she has some opinion.  Maybe she'll opine that Mr. Weiner must have a lame stream.  That'd be witty of her anyways.   He can always try Avodart.

The Press is a raccoon.  They spot a bit of tinfoil down a hole, stick they fisties down the hole, grab the tinfoil, and stuck they be.  Can't let go, can't get that paw out.  Possibly the Press is driven by polling?  The public, ass that it is, wants more coverage.  Or maybe the Press in this case is driving the bus.  Fox?  Sure.  ABC?  Natch.  This is absurd.  I'd like to see a graphic comparison of Weiner coverage over the past week to 9/11 coverage, or D-day coverage.

Speaking of 9/11.  I miss those two or three days when all air traffic was grounded.  Damn, that was nice and quiet, wasn't it.  My friend suggested yesterday, when I mentioned that lovely quiet to him, that maybe we ought to have a day a week of no air traffic.  It's good for air pollution.  It would save fuel.  Let's go for it.   How many Americans would benefit from one day a week without any air traffic.  How many would suffer?   How does that compare to stopping social security checks for a month?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Living in the Future

Roy Edroso put me on to this article:

Has to make you wonder why little Rand obstructed the re-passage of the Patriot Act.  If I had all day I'd hunt up Burl Ives pontificating on mendacity in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."  No one could say "mendacity" better than Burl Ives.  It comes, perhaps, with the heft.  Possibly Orson Welles could have won a Say Mendacity contest.  You'd have to allow the sort of coloring only Welles could pull off--that nasal intake of air at just the right milisecond after the word was done.  The point of the contest, at any rate, would be the "Mendacity Gadget", which would easily fit on the top left corner of any desktop, and could be evoked with the mere flick of a finger whenever one finds such utter vomitous mental behavior as actually one finds almost hourly if one cares to look around as the day flows by.   And of course all this factual evidence leads to the obvious question--what has happened to the mind of the American citizen, to put such mendacity in political office after office.  Turn away from little Rand and you find the 21st Century William Howard Taft in the form of NJ Gov. Christie, waddling to and from his helicopter.  The GOP back room boys see the impossibility of Palin and dream of what?  Fatty Arbuckle for President?  Really? 

On Wednesdays I treat myself to a Subway sandwich.  They seem fairly healthy.  Went into the place this past Wednesday and noticed that the "muzak" was Neil Bortz.  Dear god.  Perhaps you've not heard him.  I think he sits behind a mic in Atlanta maybe.  Wednesday he was parroting the basic Nazi line about the parasites in society, the people among us who are some how unjustly sucking up all the gravy while us working stiffs (including I supposed a fat guy sitting behind a mic in Atlanta who gets paid handsomely for sweetening pure bitter bigotry until, if he succeeds, it goes down the body politic like koolade laced with arsenic).  It could have been Berlin, circa 1930.  All Bortz did, really, was remove all references to "jews" and replace them with "people on welfare."  This is why he's a minor league Limbaugh I guess.  A 9th Grade Young Republican could have pulled off his essay.  Or one of those nice Italian boys in Night of the Shooting Stars--the ones with black uniforms who run old men headfirst into trees.   I was almost disgusted enough to say something, but to who?  The nice girl making my 6" BMT was an East Indian, probably 20 or so.  I can't imagine she put the damn station on.  I'd think she doesn't really listen to it--she's focused on the work.  So it was her manager I guess, if not some dictate from the Subway Home Office, where ever that is.  "Make the People Listen to Bortz."  Maybe it's in Bortz's contract--you sell Subway sandwiches, we'll sell you.  I didn't say anything but "yeah, make it a meal today."  And "great looking sandwich."

Mr. Bortz wants to convince us to "eliminate" the people "on welfare."  What an idea.  It's just a major chord version of Palin's "position" on the Dream Act.  (You can go look that one up if you want.)  Scapegoats.  Hate.  That's pretty much it.  But you can't go get a damn sandwich without experiencing just a little of that "sugar" in the air.  And eventually it works well enough to put a charlatan like Rand Paul in the Sentate, or a posturing phony like Mr. Christie in his state's helicopter.   Hell, medically he probably needs a helicopter to get up the stairs.  And who pays for that, Mr. Bortz? 

Orwell was predicting the future when he wrote 1984.  That year, which when I read the book seemed so distant as to be surely beyond my life span, we re-elected both Reagan and, in my beloved North Carolina, Jesse Helms.  We've been in the future ever since, and getting deeper by the step.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Probably Won't Be Going to Mt. Airy This Year

From A.E. Pearson's website

Partly it's because the idea of walking around in a big field with a whole bunch of people, all day long, 95 degrees and southern-humid, just doesn't seem like a great idea, particularly as my fiddle has done blowed up twice now, in the last two or three years, under hot, humid conditions.  I think it was that 4th of July Parade on Ocracoke I participated in, back in '98 or so, when I was riding in an open truck and fiddling.  There was no place to hide from the sun, and the ole fid got too hot.  She kept on a runnin', but something had happened.  I've got her put back together strong now, but I don't want to test the elements.  (What I need is a $38 plastic fid, but I don't have one at the moment.)  So's most likely I'm not going to go to Mt. Airy this weekend, where many of my old friends and many more acoustic music 'feciandos I ain't never even met will be pickin' and grinnin' for 24 hours straight, at a minimum.  Nope.  I see the Yard Boss in my weekend, and the couch, a couple of Sierras, some good vittles, definitely the Truck Race on Friday night.  And of course the Nationwide Saturday.  And then, topping off the weekend, surely the Sprint on Sunday.  Maybe I'll fool around some with a song I'm working on.  Before too long it'll be Monday morning already.  Damn if Fats Domino didn't have it right.

We are fooled by our memories of Spring.  I'm realizing this as we swelter through this last week in May, and now move blessedly to, oh, it's June, and still not even Summer.  People say this every year, at least in North Carolina.  "Can you believe it's not even Summer yet?"  It was 98 or something here yesterday.  I'm in an office these days and not on the scaffold or laying block--that's ok with me, by gawd.  The people who came in and out were soaking.  The salutation of the day was, "Drink some ice water or lemonade, you hear."  Probably it is some hotter than back when.  But it's also our memories.  Spring, as a picture in our minds, is about that budding first part, even the little part that comes "early," when people are saying stuff like "my crocuses are already blooming and there's still patchy snow in the shady spots."  Spring starts around here in late February.  It starts when the first idea that the Winter is definitely coming to an end cannot be brushed aside by a real North Wind, or when the concern about enough firewood is first obviously a paranoia rather than merely a remote possibility.  Sometimes this Spring can be dashed as early as March, with a day in the 90s.  It happens in NC.  But usually after a week of that it's back to cool and rainy.

It's in May that our idea of Spring is dashed by the reality of Spring, every year.  The ticks come out with the leaves.  The humidity rises and rises.  Some years there are tornadoes.  There are always violent thunderstorms.  Either the ground's too wet to plow, or it's already dried out.  (I decided to skip the garden this year--I know I'll sorely miss the maters, but our water supply struggled last summer with the task of keeping the garden a little wet, and I just decided I didn't care enough to haul all those buckets again.  I figure next spring the spot will be rested, and I'll add some fertilizer or chicken manure if I can find it, and maybe gardening will seem all fresh and exciting after a year off.)

So I think of June 1st as sort of a special day.  We're starting the Summer campaign now.  I'm looking forward to it.  Mt. Airy is part of that official signal, that flare shot into the night sky.  I know it'll be rolling along up there, just two hours at most away.  I hope everyone has a great time, and that the fiddles don't blow up.  The other reason I'm not going is this video my daughter sent me via the emails this morning.  Check it out.

And check out A.E. Pearson's website of photos from Mt. Airy:

Update:  Oh, let me make myself perfectly clear, if I didn't this morning.  Those kids in the video are awesome, they can play, and god bless em.  Keep on pickin'.   They just impart a certain necessary perspective to a geezer like me.  Like my kid used to say, back when I was still picking her up from Friends School, "You are old Father William."