Rites of Spring and the Political Without Politics

Music can be political without being expressly political.  Sometimes the sheer vitality of it can be a force for change.  It can shake you, wake you up, make you want to do something different than you were doing before you heard it.  This has definitely been true, from even the earliest moments, of rock n roll.  Once rock n roll was unleashed it couldn’t help but have an affect on race relations, sexual mores, youth culture, and so on, just because of where it came from and the sheer energy involved, even before it dealt with any of those things in an explicit way.

I’ve mentioned lately that I have been diving into the punk, post-punk, and hardcore bands of the 80’s Washington D.C. scene. Rites of Spring, which featured members that went on to join Fugazi, among other bands, were different from many of the acts of even that time period.  Their songs were more melodic and their lyrics were more personal in nature, despite channeling the energy of punk and hardcore.  Their lyrics also have a more poetic and interpretive nature than many of their peers.  Although I grew up listening to all of the Ian MacKaye bands, MacKaye is a founder of Dischord Records and also went on to be a member of Fugazi, I had never heard Rites of Spring until recently.  But listening to their music, one can’t help but feel that something is going on.  It possesses a feeling of dissatisfaction, but not of hopelessness.  It sounds like people striving to reach someplace new.  It is full of passion and self-discovery.  Singer and guitar player Guy Picciotto sounds fully committed.  Even if none of these things translate into any particular political cause, this is the sound of people becoming engaged with the world.  And engagement is the most important ingredient in any kind of social change.

Ghosts of Ole Miss

Ghost of Ole Miss

The ESPN series 30 For 30, available on Netflix, is really great.  I think today I saw one of the best, if not the best.  It was called Ghosts of Ole Miss and it covered the undefeated Ole Miss football team of 1962.  More importantly, it also covered the bravery of James Meredith and the riots that ensued because of him being the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi.

However, if this was just a documentary about history, I don’t think I would be writing about it.  (Even though it is a completely enthralling piece of filmmaking that covers a time period that many Americans would like to forget.)  For anyone that doesn’t understand the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag, or thinks that controversy is much to do over nothing, I think this is something you must watch.  The film is also great at providing the missing link between the Civil War and modern day problems dealing with race.  I also don’t think race is the only modern political situation this film is relevant to.  At a time when we are seeing local and state politicians try to stand up to the federal government on the issue of gay marriage, one can’t help but see their historical counterparts in this film.

There is also a positive element to this film.  Even though the film does not make the claim that all race issues are gone are settled in Mississippi, as they clearly aren’t there or anywhere else, the film does acknowledge that great strides have been made.  As dark as the history showcased in this film is, there is hope that, over time, people can change.

David Mitchell Interview

David Mitchell Interview

One of my favorite writers in recent years has been David Mitchell, who can seemingly do anything or go anywhere.  In some of his novels, epics like Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, he can use many voices, cover different time periods, and make each seem authentic.  Not only is he able to do this, but he is able to connect all of those voices to form a compelling overreaching narrative.  Meanwhile, in something like Black Swan Green, he is able to use a much smaller canvas, in this case a British school kid in the 80’s, and make it just as compelling.  One of the true originals of our time.  The link is a short piece accompanied by a longer video interview.

On the Road Today

On the road today, playing in Tomball with Shinyribs.  Show is already sold out, so do not attempt to drive there.  Posting will be slow today. 

New Public Enemy record is out, only available through their website.  I am extremely excited about this.  It is called Man Laughs, God Plans.  If you haven’t heard the saying before, “Declaring one’s intentions is a good way to make God laugh at you.”  (There are other variations of this saying.)

That’s all for now. 

In the future when all is well…

Responses to the Iran Deal

A Point-by-Point Response to the Iran Deal’s Critics

What’s In the Iran Deal?

The Single Most Important Question to Ask About the Nuclear Deal With Iran

Why Republicans Are So Mad About Obama’s Nuclear Deal With Iran

I have been reading a lot of articles about the Iran deal this morning.  Over at The Atlantic alone, a magazine that has a reputation for serious writing and features different political stripes, there are four detailed articles that take a number of stances about the deal, though they come down overall on the side of being favorable of the deal, if cautiously so.  Above are links to the four Atlantic articles.  The third, the one that is most skeptical of the deal, is by Jeffrey Goldberg.  I will admit that I am no fan of Goldberg, as I feel he too often totes the Israeli line.  However, I do think he is an intellectual that is at least coming to the table with serious intent.  I find that when trying to parse what is going on, it is best to try and read a bunch of information, weigh out different opinions, and decide for yourself.  It’s always worth reading people that are on the opposite end of an issue, as long as they seem to be coming to the debate honestly.  However, as always, read, weigh the various facts against each other, think, and decide for yourself.  I personally am in favor of the deal at this point as it seems the best option based on what I have read.  If you know history, even presidents that I would not view favorably overall, such as Reagan and Nixon, negotiated with countries that we were at odds with, and ended up with better outcomes than would have been seen with force.  I think today is a day for celebration, if cautiously so.  However, I acknowledge that I am basing this opinion on my world view, along with the various things I have read today and over the last year as this deal was worked on.  Don’t take my word for it.  Get outside of your propaganda zone and do the heavy lifting yourself.

Powdered Wigs, Syphilis, and Tradition

This post has been getting a bunch of hits lately. I thought I would repost it, something I don’t often do, for those who haven’t seen it yet. I think the subject matter is both interesting and absurdly comic. When encountering any tradition of power you should, as they say, “Trust, but verify!”

Windup Wire

Today I was at a friend’s house watching the new History Channel miniseries about the Revolutionary War.   While we were watching it my friend asked me why people wore wigs back in that time period.  I had to find out and upon doing so found this article:

Why Did People Wear Powdered Wigs?

A sample:

For nearly two centuries, powdered wigs—called perukes—were all the rage. The chic hairpiece would have never become popular, however, if it hadn’t been for a venereal disease, a pair of self-conscious kings, and poor hair hygiene.  

The peruke’s story begins like many others—with syphilis. By 1580, the STD had become the worst epidemic to strike Europe since the Black Death. According to William Clowes, an “infinite multitude” of syphilis patients clogged London’s hospitals, and more filtered in each day. Without antibiotics, victims faced the full brunt of the disease: open sores, nasty rashes, blindness…

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