Thoughts On The Walking Dead and Texas Politics

My allergies have been really bad the last few days, on top of other things, so I haven’t been as productive as usual.  Also, to create anything, be it a blog or a song, you need to take in a large amount of material.  Other than listening to records, which I never stop doing, about the most I have been able to concentrate on is watching The Walking Dead.  I am finally caught up with the newest episode.

Zombies have typically been used as metaphors for different political situations.  George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which takes place in a mall, has been seen as commenting on consumer culture.  I feel like because of the complexity of the storytelling, and the density of the imagery, the politics of The Walking Dead are complicated, and it can’t be simplified down to a left or right thing.  There are different scenes and story lines and images that feel like part of red and blue America.

One of the things I really like about it is the fact that the cast is racially diverse in a way that most mainstream entertainment is not.  I also feel that, for the most part, the characters are sufficiently complicated and are represented as human beings.  While the characters, such as Tyreese and Glen, are not stripped of racial characteristics, they are never defined by them either.

All art is political at some level.  Sometimes you just have to read between the lines.  Even pieces of work that are expressly non-political are political.  Things that are just escapism, which can perform the altruistic function of allowing you to disconnect from the stress of daily life, is essentially saying that everything is OK.   In not challenging the dominant narrative of society you are you are making a political statement by abstaining from the discourse.  Again, I do believe that escapist entertainment can have an altruistic purpose, but one shouldn’t say that it is non-political.

However, in the realm of escapism I think there are different levels of worth.  Some escapism champions materialistic values.  Something like American Idol is not only not asking you to not think about the real world, it is also full of the kind of shallow materialistic values that are a burden on our society.  A great deal of mainstream country and mainstream rap, whether singing about trucks or bling, communicate the message, that is hidden under the guise of fun, that you are what you own.

I do think that The Walking Dead, while being entertainment largely, manages to ask questions about human nature.  How far can people go and still retain their humanity?  Even though the killings in Episode 3 of Season 5 seemed to be justified, they were filmed in such a way that was meant to make the viewer feel uneasy.  In Season 4, especially, you see the damage that a society structured on violence starts to psychologically damage the children that grow up in it.  The show is still asking you to think even while it creates a narrative entertaining enough that it whisks you out of real life at the same time.  It is an interesting balancing act.

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Today I have also been doing some reading on the current political races in Texas.  If you want to see the definition of despicable, google Dan Patrick, who is running for lieutenant governor in Texas.  He is a former radio shock-jock that has now gone into politics.  If you are not from Texas, and want to learn about who this man is you can read the following article:

Man Who Believes God Speaks to Us Through “Duck Dynasty”

If you are in Texas, then I hope very much you will do whatever you can in your power to make sure this man loses the election.  Even Rick Perry looks respectable next to this moron, and that is saying something.

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.

The Sick Blank Void that is Rick Perry

perry_clown

It’s a soft job, sir, between hangings. – Brendan Behan’s The Quare Fellow

The English language occasionally falls short.  I don’t know if there are vile enough words in our language to describe Texas Governor Rick Perry.  This is a man that signs off on executions the way most of us sign checks at dinnertime.  In June of last year he hit the 500 mark!  Now he has called up 1,000 member of the National Guard to police our border with Mexico largely in response to protecting Texas from children!

I was going to call Rick Perry an empty souled Ken Doll in a suit, a cretin of the highest fucking order, a shameless buffoon masking as a leader, but all of these terms fall flat against the sick blank void that is Rick Perry.

So, I thought I would hijack some words that were used by Klaus Kinski and directed at Werner Herzog. (Herzog claims they came up with the words together.)  I have posted these words before, but I think that they accurately describe how anyone with a brain or a conscious should feel about Rick Perry:

He should be thrown alive to the crocodiles! An anaconda should strangle him slowly! A poisonous spider should sting him and paralyze his lungs! The most venomous serpent should bite him and make his brain explode! No — panther claws should rip open his throat — that would be much too good for him! Huge red ants should piss into his lying eyes and gobble up his balls and his guts! He should catch the plague! Syphilis! Yellow fever! Leprosy! It’s no use; the more I wish him the most gruesome deaths, the more he haunts me.

You’ve Got to Have Hope

The above video is a long speech by author and activist Rebecca Solnit on the topic of hope.  It’s easy in this day and age to want to throw your hands up in defeat.  With climate change, reality TV, endless war, the military industrial complex, overpopulation, banal music on the radio, the increasing gap between rich and poor, people in power like Ted Cruz and Rick Perry, or any number of other things, it can be hard to wake up each day with a can do attitude.  On this blog I often point to a lot that is wrong in this world.  The reason for that is simply that a lot is wrong.  However, if I didn’t think things could be better I would simply quit writing, go buy a ton of drugs, and enter my own private fantasy land.  I always loved Flannery O’Connor’s quote that if a writer writes about dirt it is because the writer despises dirt, not because they love it.  (Paraphrased)  Hope doesn’t mean looking at the world through rose tinted glasses.  It just means realizing that the potential for positive change is there if it is worked towards.  Even someone like Hunter Thompson, famous for writing things like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, believed in fighting the good fight for a better future.  There is nothing more noble in human beings, in the face of an ever growing storm, than small acts of defiance like hope.

Repbulican Governors Take Health Care From the Poor

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/31/florida-medicaid-uninsured_n_4680566.html

I think the above story is worth glancing over.  It’s about how the Supreme Court and some Republican politicians have made Obamacare less effective.  In short the Supreme Court let states opt out of the Affordable Care Act.  Now the states that opted out, states with Republican govenors like Rick Scott of Florida and Rick Perry of Texas, have gaps in coverage for people with certain income levels.  It’s disgusting really, but no surprise.  

In Defense of Texas

I would like my friends that have never been to Texas to know that we’re really not so bad.  Sure we have elected some of the greatest clowns in politics.  Rick Perry’s meltdown before the nation was a shameful failure of epic proportions.  Ted Cruz seems intent on embarrassing us at least once every other news cycle.  Texas also is really great at things like people not having health care and carbon emissions.  Houston seems intent on building skyscrapers right out of Flash Gordon right next to taco shacks.  There are also places I’ve visited in Texas that look like you could find meth amphetamines with just a shovel and a dream.  ‘

But take Houston for instance.  It’s one of my favorite towns to play.  There are incredibly cool people there.  It also has a spice of gulf coast culture.  You’ll find more people dancing and having fun at a show than you will in most cities.  The culture there, as in all of Texas, is much more complex than those of you that have never visited would understand. 

The state of Texas has also elected some pretty badass female politicians.  Anne Richards and Wendy Davis are both something to be proud of.  We can’t let douche bags like Rick Perry and Ted Cruz cancel them out. 

Texas, like most of the country, is slowly changing.  With an influx of people from other states and a rising Hispanic population, Texas is slowly becoming more progressive.  Please note that I included the world slowly. 

Texas also has some of the most beautiful natural landscape that I have ever seen.  I’ve been places in the hill country that look like they came out of a fantasy book.  West Texas has a rugged beauty that is truly stunning. 

I could go on about both good and bad aspects of Texas.  I don’t know why today of all days I feel like I have to defend Texas.  I’ve lived here almost 8 years, but I’m not from here.  I’m not even sure that I’m the one that should be damning or defending Texas.  There are people that are far more versed in the politics and culture of this state than me.  I guess I’ve just been thinking about how things in life are almost more complex than they appear.  People often have both good and bad in them.  Places are no different.  Often when I travel around, if I meet someone that hasn’t been here, I get a cartoon reflected back to me of what they think Texas is like. 

When I read the New York Times entertainment section, I am always struck by how factually incorrect some of the articles are concerning artists that I like.  If they can’t get that shit right, then what more important things are they screwing up?  And they are one of the better papers.  It’s hard in this world to come upon information that you can depend on.  The only thing that you can do is check out as many different sources as you can find and compare and contrast.  Hopefully in doing so, you can get at least a partial glimpse of the truth.  The world is complicated and full of mystery.  There is not much you can be certain about.  Except the fact that Rick Perry and Ted Cruz are going to destroy your soul every time they speak.