Football, Loss, Manipulation, and Absurdity

I am in New Orleans tonight.  We have the night off.  I watched my Philadelphia Eagles get beat.  The stabbing of friends and strangers was debated mentally.  The thing is, I know that football is a game and that it is silly to get emotionally involved in it, but old habits die hard.  George Carlin said something along the lines, pointing out the absurdity of football, in that there is nothing better than watching 300 pound millionaires beat the shit out of each other.

I know some people prefer college, because the game is more “pure”, but I prefer the opposite.  I love the military jet flyovers, the fireworks, the surgically enhanced cheerleaders, the absurdity and spectacle of it all.  If you are going to get emotionally involved in something absurd, why go halfway in?

I am able to get into it and hold the thought in my mind at the same time that it is a completely ridiculous spectacle that has no real bearing on my life.  Modern life constantly forces you to hold two opposing opinions at the same time.

I mentioned this a long time ago on my blog, but while watching and paying attention to sports we must be aware of manipulation.  I don’t just mean the commercials or the half assed patriotism at the beginning or halftime of games.  (Taking your hat off before a sporting event does not make you a patriot.  There’s not much commitment in that is there?)  Let me give you an example.  One of the ways that Rupert Murdoch pushed his conservative agenda through his papers was that he would always include a really big sports section.  White working class males would then buy his papers.  He would then make sure that those papers would include his political propaganda.  He was using sports as a way in to people’s lives and thoughts.  If you want to read more about this read Michael Wolff’s The Man Who Owns the News.

Anyway, that’s enough thinking for now, back to stewing over my loss…

A Few Last Thoughts on the Sex Pistols

Before I move on to other topics, I wanted to just mention a few other brief thoughts that I had while reading John Lydon’s (Johnny Rotten) book Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs:

1.  I found the level of violence directed at the Sex Pistols to be interesting.  They were under constant threat of violence, especially after releasing their single God Save the Queen.  Lydon was actually stabbed outside of a studio.  Imagine that being directed at a band now.   Imagine any young band with a sizable following actually taking any stances that got under people’s skin now, without just doing something for pure shock value.  I’m sure if I thought long and hard I could come up with someone, but the pickings are slim.  There are bands that seem to have provocative politics, but they are delivered in such a way as to not be very obvious or effective.

2.  I found it interesting that although the Johnny Rotten character came authentically out of John Lydon’s own personality, Lydon claims that certain things he did were based on Richard III, especially Laurence Oliver’s portrayal.  There were also other things that became signatures of Lydon that were just because of pure luck, or bad luck.  Most people remember the stare that Lydon had on stage.  This was due to poor eyesight that he acquired because he had meningitis as a child.

3.  Steve Jones is a very underrated guitar player.  His tone is amazing and his solos are very memorable.  One of my favorite guitar solos ever is his solo on EMI.  It’s amazingly simple, the kind of thing that a beginning guitar player could learn, but the sound of it and the phrasing make it seem as if an explosion is going off.

4.  Also notice that for being a so called punk band, the Sex Pistols tempo is often quite slow, comparatively to other punk music.  Anarchy in the U.K. is actually mid tempo.  It’s sense of danger comes from the lyrics, the singing, and the attitude of the playing.

5.  A great album like Never Mind the Bollocks could only come about, at least most of the time, through a true band.  This is due to a group of individuals that had different influences that complemented each other. None of the members ever created an album that sounded just like it on their own.  It was the different personalities coming together at that one place and time.  Often people in bands, or any collaborative effort, don’t take into account how even the lesser members of a project can influence something in a positive way.  It is often the differences between people that create a wider palate and make a work more interesting than any one person can.  Anyone that thinks the Sex Pistols were the creation of McLaren are way off and the music alone is the proof.

No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs and Human Perception

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I recently read John Lydon’s autobiography of his time in the Sex Pistols, Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs.  Lydon is of Irish stock and the title refers to a sign that used to be hung up on certain establishments in England.  The book was excellent as Lydon (Johnny Rotten) was always much smarter than his detractors claimed.  However, one of the most interesting things about the book wasn’t even the content, but the way that it was structured.

Lydon is smart enough to realize that events are subject to people’s perspective.  Rather then claim he has the definitive take on everything he has other people give their views on seminal events, including those that contradict him.

Earlier in the book he talks about how history can’t be completely trusted.  He knows the lies that were written about him in the press, so why should people believe everything that is written about a larger more controversial figure like Napoleon?

So while he tries to be as honest as he can about what he saw and how he perceived events, he again also includes a multitude of other opinions.  Many of these were written down specifically for the book.  However, even when it comes to the lawsuit that was between him and former manager Malcolm McLaren, he includes all of the opposing depositions, including McLaren’s.

This is not only brave of Lydon to do, as he allows himself to be presented in less than favorable light at times, but also shows that he understands how human perception can color events.  Getting to the absolute truth of an event can be impossible.  One might think that having conflicting perceptions would actually make finding the truth even harder.  But actually, if you are open to looking at things from different angles, you can actually get closer than you can just depending on one source.

This book actually came out in the 90’s.  I think the way it is presented is even more relevant now, especially with how unreliable our mainstream media is.  The only way that one can have some idea of what is going on is to try to read as much as possible and piece things together for themselves.

John Lydon On the Royal Family

Rest assured, there will always be poverty in Britain because the excesses of the royal family will keep people poor.  We pay tax for that shit.  We substantiate and perpetuate it when we don’t look after our own.  Our own is everyone – including the queen, Charles, Di, Fergie, and the lot.  But I fail to see how my tax pounds should give these fucks skiing holidays.   Why the fuck do we support monarchy?  Who on earth gave them the right to dictate terms to me about what is right and wrong other than the bastard murderers of their ancestors?  They give a sense of etiquette to the world and have a nice way of dealing with things, which I do admire.  I don’t admire the monetary upkeep this tradition costs, and I certainly don’t respect a system that dictates alienation by fault of birth.   There should be an English way for all of us, whether you come from a council flat or Buckingham Palace.   Why shouldn’t we all go to the same schools and treat each other with equal respect?  Why is there nonsense of one education for them and a lesser for the rest?  It creates the multi-tier systems and keeps civil wars brewing.  These are not things I want, and this is an unacceptable order to me.  It is the humiliation of one mass of human beings dictated by one tiny little amount.  Greed of the highest order.  Selfishness of the worst aspect.  – John Lydon

To my fellow Americans, before you feel high and mighty because we don’t have a monarchy, I believe you could change some words here and there and just as well be talking about our country.  If you need to ask which words then you need to use your imagination a little more. 

Autofellatio

Tomorrow I am going on tour with Shinyribs.  You can check out the dates at:

http://shinyribs.org/shows.html

This is a tour of the South which is leading up to our appearance at Albino Skunk Music Festival.  I’ve heard that this is a great festival and I’m looking forward to playing it.  I stole the blog title from the hilariously named biography of James Maker.  I always feel a little bit like I’m stroking myself off when I promote my own shit.  One of my favorite singles of recent years is Maker’s Born That Way:

Freedom!

Recently I was at an event, which will remain nameless, that consisted of well to do white men.  It was in Texas and most of these men were dressed as cowboys.  They had on white cowboy hats and what I call cowboy jeans.  Think of a group of Rick Perry supporters and you kind of get the idea.  There was something very tribal about it all.  What was funny was that I heard several homophobic and racist remarks, although to be fair a few members of the group tried to talk sense into their less enlightened brethren.  Why is this funny and not horrible?

First, I find it funny when homophobic people have selected to stay at an all male camp for a week.  It is especially funny when they get to drinking at night and end up dancing together.

Second, the people making the racist remarks were making them while playing dominoes, which fairly or unfairly is a game that many people imagine black people in the hood playing.

Third, these people that would probably say they believed in freedom of the individual above all else were dressed like clones of each other.  You aren’t very free or very much of an individual if you dress, talk, and act like everyone else around you, no matter what you believe.

I entered as a guest, as a musician, and not a reporter, so I don’t feel that I should point out who this group was exactly.  I still believe people have a right to privacy on private property even if it means the privacy to act ignorant.  However, the next time you hear someone parroting thoughts about freedom, look at how closely they resemble their peers, and ask yourself how free hey really are.  Too often freedom is just the right of one kind of group to impose its will on another.