Hell in a Handbasket: Charlottesville Proves We Haven’t Learned History’s Lessons

I grew up in a state that many consider part of the Midwest, but most of my neighbors would argue that we are a Southern state. The US Census Bureau agrees only because Oklahoma, the reddest state in the union, is south of Mason-Dixon Line. But Indian Territory, as Oklahoma was known in the 1860s, wasn’t legally open to white settlers until 1889. Oklahoma Territory didn’t become the 46th state until 1907. Nevertheless, many Confederates settled in Oklahoma in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Some of those Confederates were my ancestors–moving from North Carolina through to Arkansas and on to Oklahoma. I’m not proud of this fact, but it is a fact with which I have to live and face. This knowledge is the context of my childhood.

With Confederates on both sides of my family and a paternal grandfather that openly used the “n” word while I was growing up in the Sooner State, I’ve long been amazed that I turned out as I did–a politically active progressive liberal who believes in social justice and fights for equity for minorities, for women, for all. I remember all the racist, sexist, ethnic “truly tasteless jokes” (that were eventually collected into a series of books in 1982) that we all told as grade schoolers as we giggled thinking we were getting one past the grown-ups around us. So much of what I grew up with in the 1970s would not pass in today’s society–rightly so or wrongly so, we have lost our ability as a nation to laugh at the expense of any group, much less ourselves. In many ways, this is indeed progress, but in other ways, we have become a nation at war with itself because we are constantly offended with each other. I have been searching my experiences in my mind trying to trace the path from growing up with tasteless jokes to being trolled by acquaintances and strangers alike in social media for being an intolerant snowflake libtard (among other names).

I considered the humor of Mel Brooks, for example. I can remember laughing at early scenes from Blazing Saddles as a youngster in the back seat of the car at the drive-in theater as my parents tried to enjoy a date night of sorts. My younger brother and I both hee-hawed at the bean farting scene. Then we started arguing over who got the red and blue M&Ms, ate some popcorn, and fell asleep (I was 5 1/2; my brother was 4) before the new sheriff came to town. But as adolescents, we were re-introduced to the entire film. And we both loved the brilliant satire. We still do. I often quote “Mongo only pawn in game of life” when people look to me to solve their problems for them (I’m a firm believer in the Alinsky’s Iron Rule of Organizing–Never do for others what they can do for themselves). Mel Brooks knew that even back in 1974 he was broaching taboo racial, ethnic, and sexist subjects as he parodied Hollywood Westerns, but he did so deftly and with such satiric skill and wit that the classic film still works today.

The closest a film has come to this level of line-crossing satiric genius in the past decade would have to be Ben Stiller’s 2008  Tropic Thunder, which also put Hollywood in the crosshairs while using taboo racist, ethnic, and sexist humor to fantastic effect just like his predecessor Brooks. Tropic Thunder opened the month before my 40th birthday, but I remember thinking as I sat virtually alone at a weekday matinee of the film that it was a brilliant piece of satire that actually pulled off the unthinkable in the post-millennial world–having an Academy Award nominee in blackface for virtually the entire film. I have to wonder if Stiller would have been able to get the green light for the film today, in a post-Trayvon Martin/Michael Brown/Eric Garner/Philando Castile/et al world. Part of me hopes yes, but another part of me hesitates to think so. We are a society that is hurting and not healing. The wounds of our Civil War and its resulting segregation are festering and poisoning the body of our nation. And our national “leaders” do not lead with the courage to do what is right, but instead look for expediency and to curry favor with a chosen few.

 

Today’s horrifying spectacle of the President of the United States openly defending alt-right protestors who were yelling Nazi chants at this last weekend’s “Unite the Right” rally, of him openly defending Confederate General Robert E. Lee by falsely equating him to President George Washington and President Thomas Jefferson (neither of whom betrayed this country to raise arms against it) while denouncing the alt-left as violent offenders was stunning to watch (here’s a guide to the terms). The simmering hatred against America’s first black president, Barack Obama, has in short order boiled over in a very public defiance and a rage egged on by DJT/45 (I still refuse to type his name). The alt-right men and women who descended upon Charlottesville this last weekend were open and proud to wear their White Nationalist symbols. Gone were the KKK face-hiding hoods. The brazen marchers knew the terrifying history behind carrying torches and marching at night–KKK rallies and lynch mobs. They knew that this action steeped in the traditions of the White Supremacists and Segregationists would bring these actions symbolic of the violent old into the now and the future. They also knew that counter protesters would show up–that those in opposition to their extremist views would not stand in fear in the shadows like in days past. America’s wounds are splitting open and bleeding for the world to see.

And all my acquaintances and friends in my birth state of Oklahoma can talk about is how libtards like me are writing a revisionist history erasing their heritage. That is what saddens me the most. How did we arrive at this point in time where extremism is ruling the day and the majority stands by acquiescing? Did we learn nothing from our fathers and grandfathers who fought in WW2? Did we learn nothing from Hitler’s Final Solution and Master Race rhetoric? I can’t help but think of Mark Antony’s stirring the Roman people: “O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,/ And men have lost their reason.”

 

 

Jules’s Jukebox: Liam Gallagher Is As He Ever Was–a Rock n Roll Star!

Liam Gallagher dropped the first single from his highly anticipated new album, As You Were, this week. While the album is not expected until October, this first tune, “Wall of Glass,” marks the former Oasis frontman’s return to the role of Rock n Roll Star in fine form–as a solo artist.

Team Liam’s media blitz began late last week and spiked into a frenzy last night, May 30th, as he returned to the stage for his first ever solo gig in his hometown of Manchester. Many fans posted livestreams of the show on Periscope and other forums heightening the anticipation for the single’s debut on BBC’s Radio 1 tonight.

So tonight’s jukebox selections are the new official video for LG’s first single, “Wall of Glass,” and the highlight of LG’s Manchester show, an a capella version of “Live Forever”:

“Wall of Glass”–Liam Gallagher

“Live Forever” (live a capella) by Liam Gallagher at Manchester Ritz, a tribute to the Manchester terror attack victims. Behind him were 22 lit candles, one for each of the lives cut short in last week’s attack.

Jules’s Jukebox: I’m Getting Re-Wired–It’s a Kasabian Kind of Night

Kasabian, the hard-punching guitar band from Leicester, England, is priming to release their 6th album, For Crying Out Loud, on April 28th. They tantalized me when they released the first single, “You’re in Love with a Psycho,” and played new music live in Australia last week. Guitarist Sergio Pizzorno has hailed this album as being about saving rock music and making a guitar record that is relevant (he is joined in the band by vocalist Tom Meighan, bassist Chris Edwards, and drummer Ian Matthews). I enjoy the band because of their ability to create a consistent sound that is distinctly theirs. I can hear a song and know it’s Kasabian. This ability to create an unmistakeable sound is what sets great bands apart from mediocre, dime-a-dozen bands. That’s what set bands like Oasis and The Verve apart from other bands formed in this same era (Kasabian formed in 1997, Oasis in 1991, and The Verve in 1990)–they weren’t grunge or indie knock-offs.

So tonight’s jukebox selections highlight how I discovered and fell for Kasabian’s easily distinguishable sound.

“Julie and the Moth Man” by Kasabian, the B-side to “Underdog.”

The 2011 Jason Statham/Paddy Considine movie, Blitz, introduced Kasabian to me with the hard, reverb-y, industrial guitar riff pounding over the end credits (yes, I know, I came to the Kasabian party a little late, but better late than never with this band). The song’s violent and seedy lyrics served the mood of this British serial killer/police procedural well. But suffice it to say, I like the music far better than the lyrics of this song–I guess the facts that my name is Julie and I don’t like the idea of f’n in alleys or getting hit by frying pans contribute to my dislike of the lyrics. One can argue, and I struggle with liking this song for this reason, that the lyrics glorify physical and sexual violence against women. That may or may not be Pizzorno’s intention. Lucky for him, I still like the song despite despising the lyrics…

“Re-Wired” by Kasabian, from the 2011 album Velociraptor!

“Re-Wired” is probably my favorite song by Kasabian because of its groovy, funky almost disco sound for the verses juxtaposed with the hard-rocking chorus. While the song most certainly alludes to drug use–again, I ignore the lyrics for the music’s aesthetics, the video is a fun ride through a high-speed car chase with the band that pays homage to many classic films, including Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

“You’re in Love with a Psycho” by Kasabian, from their upcoming album For Crying Out Loud.

The band released this song last week. This fun first single reads almost like Jabberwocky-style jibberish, but makes more sense as the song progresses with random references to Axel Foley (we’re not gonna fall for the banana in the tailpipe) and Charles Bukowski (“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead”). But the music is more “Re-Wired” than “Julie and the Moth Man.” It sounds almost like a mashup of Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boys stylistically.

Bonus Song: “Put Your Life On It” by Kasabian, from their upcoming album For Crying Out Loud.

This song was premiered live last summer by the band and is the closest thing to a power ballad I’ve heard from the band. I love that this song departs from their traditional sound and stretches into new territory for them.

Jules’s Jukebox: Musing about Muse & Politics in the Age of Resistance

When the Lollapalooza line-up was released today, I nearly fell out of my seat at the opening day’s line-up: MUSE, Liam Gallagher (Fuck Yeah!), Tritonal… so many I’d love, love, love to see. But tickets sold out before I could act–and I understand why. What a great way to spend a Thursday–and then catch a game at Wrigley on Friday. Talk about a perfect slide into the weekend.

Seeing the line-up took me back about a decade to when I really fell in love with MUSE. So tonight’s twofer (plus an extra for fun) features a couple of classics from Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme, and Dominic Howard.

“Citizen Erased” by MUSE, from the 2001 album Origin of Symmetry.

The first song I heard from this album was Paul Oakenfold’s remix of “New Born” from the soundtrack to the 2001 Hugh Jackman/John Travolta movie Swordfish. The remix prompted me to seek the original version, which led me to this hard-rocking reverb fest.  Finding this album sparked my interest in the trio from Devonshire, England. The song’s lyrics show Bellamy’s struggle with being constantly questioned by those around him. His allusion to Orwell’s 1984, particularly in the title and the lines “Wash me away/ Clean your body of me/ Erase all the memories/ They will only bring us pain,” remind us all that citizens can be erased and that lies can rule supreme, that innocence can be lost to experience only to be erased back to innocence. (Here is a great blog explaining this song much better than I.) The dichotomy and the dissonance in this song are compelling to listen to.

“Map of the Problematique” by MUSE, from the 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations.

This song continues to display the band’s ability to write layered lyrics that can be seen through a variety of critical lenses. While one person may read the lyrics to this song as being about a man’s inability to move on from a failed relationship, another reads a far more political message (which the band is known for) about war and world chaos that causes us to lose ourselves–like The Lost Generation of WW1. In the verse “Life will flash before my eyes/ So scattered almost/ I want to touch the other side/ And no one thinks they are to blame/ Why can’t we see/ That when we bleed we bleed the same” I can read both of the above interpretations. But my surface reading is this: We wreak havoc on each other, accept no responsibility or blame for our abuses of each other. We want to see the other side’s perspective. We want to reach out to the other. But we have so enabled ourselves that we can only see how right we are rather than find our common ground–that we bleed the same regardless of right and wrong.

“Uprising” by MUSE, from the 2009 album The Resistance.

This song has particular meaning for me right now in light of current world politics–the move toward nationalism, isolationism, authoritarianism. Bellamy has long been a critic of collectivism, but it’s interesting that this progressive liberal finds common ground with his more libertarian views–we both want to be free of mind control and manipulation in an information age rife with propaganda and fake news, kleptocratic rulers, and over-reaching, profiteering, capitalist elitists; we both want the world to be free from tyranny. And if any song is an anti-tyranny song, it is this song. This song is an anthem for resisters. The chorus reflects how when we stand together and rise up, we will win against the tyrants. “They will not force us/ They will stop degrading us/ They will not control us/We will be victorious.”

Ok. I’m throwing a Liam Gallagher song in for fun. Just because I love Liam Gallagher and am anxiously awaiting his new album…

“Rockin’ Chair” by Oasis, the B-side of “Roll with It” (“Roll with It” is from the 1995 album What’s the Story, Morning Glory?, but “Rockin’ Chair” did not make the cut for the album); featured on the 1998 album The Masterplan, a compilation of B-sides not featured on albums. “It’s hard enough sitting there/ Rockin’ in your rockin’ chair/ It’s all too much for me to take/ When you’re not there…” I just love LG’s voice. Here’s to hoping he’ll add more U.S. dates besides Lollapalooza in the near future.

Jules’s Jukebox: It’s a Beady Eye Night

I’ve been in a Beady Eye mood for days now–probably because I’m anxiously awaiting Liam Gallagher’s first solo album to be released followed up by his brother Noel’s third solo project. While Oasis and NG’s High Flying Birds frequent my playlist, I’ve really been hankering for Beady Eye’s eclectic sound. Beady Eye’s mix of psychedelia, adventurous edginess, and Jerry Lee Lewis-like piano riffs hit the spot whether I’m on a walk at the beach or curling up on the sofa with the fur-baby.  So tonight’s jukebox features a mixture of songs from the two Beady Eye projects: Different Gear, Still Speeding and Be.

“Shine a Light” from the album Be.

This gem of a song (okay, pun intended, as Beady Eye songs are written by Gallagher, Gem Archer, and Andy Bell) features a barely suitable for work video full of bare ladies and a cross-clad priestlike Liam Gallagher (a rather ironic image)  juxtaposing saintliness and sin while making a hedonistic statement of how thin the line is between pleasure and transgression. The percussion drives this song, which has been compared to U2’s “Desire” in sound and theme. “Shine a Light” and “Desire” do offer some interesting comparisons. Consider the following verses:

from “Shine a Light”

“…Rising fast on my feet, let me breathe, let me speak
I’m at home, I’m alive, both in veins above the size,
Crystalline in the dark, all you see is the spark
All you feel, you don’t speak, me and you born to see…”

versus

from “Desire”

“…She’s the candle burnin’ in my room
Yeah, I’m like the needle
The needle and spoon
…”

“Four Letter Word” from the album Different Gear, Still Speeding.

This song’s hard horns and psychedelic tone contrasts sharply with the guitar rock Oasis mainstay “Live Forever” in sound and word with the refrain “…nothing ever lasts forever.”

“Flick of the Finger” from the album Be.

Beady Eye reworked an abandoned 2004 Oasis song by adding new lyrics and ominous horns. The song opened the album showcasing the group’s willingness to take chances and wax experimental.

The political spoken word piece ending the song is performed by Kayvan Novak, who reads from a piece by Tariq Ali (who was quoting from the 1963 play Marat/Sade):

Spoken word part: “Don’t be deceived when our revolution has been finally stamped out and they pat you paternally on the shoulder and say that there’s no inequality worth speaking of and no more reason for fighting, because if you believe them, they will be completely in charge in their marble homes and granite banks from which they rob the people of the world under the pretense of bringing them culture…
Watch out, for as soon as it pleases them, they’ll send you out to protect their gold in wars, who’s weapons rapidly developed by servile scientists will become more and more deadly, until they can, with the flick of the finger, tear a million of you into pieces.”

“Wigwam” from the album Different Gear, Still Speeding.

This song reminds me of the more Beatle-esque qualities from the group’s Oasis days. The “…I’m coming up…” refrain at the end hearkens back to the “na na na” of “Hey, Jude.” Considering that this song is one of the safer sounding songs on the duo of Beady Eye albums, it highlights just how exploratory and innovative the band was. Because of the risks taken by Gallagher, Bell, Archer, and Sharrock on their Beady Eye outings, I’m hopeful that Liam Gallagher’s new solo project will show he is continuing to explore and show a novel and fresh innovative streak as well. While I can always count on Noel to provide some safe (and brilliant) radio-friendly tracks, I’m hoping I can continue to count on Liam to stretch and push the envelope.

The DeVos Way: Choosing Profits Over Children

Our new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is very enthusiastic about virtual charter schools, even though the research shows that students don’t learn much while enrolled in them. Apparently, good works mean less than good profits. In Arizona, a new online high school is returning remarkable profits. Jim Hall, retired educator, started an organization called […]

via Arizona: Online High School,Collects $10 Million Profit in One Year, and DeVos Wants More of Them — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Research Shows What Teachers Have Long Known–Again…

This finding has been reported time and again. The best approach to college admissions testing is to make it optional, as nearly 1,000 colleges and universities already do. Or eliminate it. Contact: Allyson Hagen, allyson.hagen@educationnorthwest.org, 503.275.9189 Study Finds High School Grades are a Strong Predictor of College Readiness for Recent Graduates from Both Urban and […]

via New Study: High School Grades Predict College Success Better than Scores of College Admissions Tests — Diane Ravitch’s blog

Democratic Women to Wear White to 45’s Joint Speech

Democratic women in the House are planning to wear white during President Donald Trump’s first major Congressional address on Tuesday evening. The heads of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, including Chair Lois Frankel, (D-Fla.), penned a letter to members Monday–asking them to where wear white to honor of the suffragette movement. However, their motive goes…

via Why Democratic Women Are Wearing White to Donald Trump’s Congressional Speech Tonight — Fortune

 

When Not to Work Together 

I didn’t write the message, but it expresses my sentiments pretty well:
This is where I stand. I feel that our 45th President, his Cabinet and administration, and the majority of Republicans in Congress are a real and active threat to me, my way of life, and all the people I love. Some people are saying that we should give Trump a chance, that we should “work together” with him because he won the election and he is “everyone’s president.” I am willing to do all of that if/when his policies seem reasonable. However:

•I will not “work together” to privatize Medicare, cut Social Security and Medicaid.

•I will not “work together” to build a wall.

•I will not “work together” to persecute Muslims.

•I will not “work together” to shut out refugees from other countries.

•I will not “work together” to lower taxes on the 1% and increase taxes on the middle class and poor.

•I will not “work together” to help Trump use the Presidency to line his pockets and those of his family and cronies.

•I will not “work together” to weaken and demolish environmental protection.

.I will not deny Climate Change even as a massive iceberg is melting and breaking as scientists around the world monitor its possible effects.

•I will not “work together” to sell American lands, especially National Parks, to companies which then despoil those lands.

•I will not “work together” to enable the killing of whole species of animals just because they are predators, or inconvenient for a few, or because some people want to get their thrills killing them.

•I will not “work together” to remove civil rights from anyone.

•I will not “work together” to alienate countries that have been our allies for as long as I have been alive.

•I will not “work together” to slash funding for education.

•I will not “work together” to reduce civil discourse to 144-character character assassinations.

•I will not “work together” to take basic assistance from people who are at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

•I will not “work together” to get rid of common sense regulations on guns.

•I will not “work together” to eliminate the minimum wage.

•I will not “work together” to support so-called “Right To Work” laws, or undermine, weaken or destroy Unions in any way.

•I will not “work together” to suppress scientific research, be it on climate change, fracking, or any other issue where a majority of scientists agree that Trump and his supporters are wrong on the facts.

•I will not “work together” to criminalize abortion or restrict health care for women.

•I will not “work together” to increase the number of nations that have nuclear weapons.

•I will not “work together” to put even more “big money” into politics.

•I will not “work together” to violate the Geneva Convention.

•I will not “work together” to give the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazi Party and white supremacists a seat at the table, or to normalize their hatred.

•I will not “work together” to deny health care to people who need it.

•I will not “work together” to deny medical coverage to people on the basis of a “pre-existing condition.”

•I will not “work together” to increase voter suppression.

•I will not “work together” to normalize tyranny.

I will not “work together” to eliminate or reduce ethical oversight at any level of government.

•I will not “work together” with anyone who is, or admires, tyrants and dictators.

•I will not support anyone that thinks its OK to put a pipeline to transport oil on Sacred Ground for Native Americans. And, it would run under the Missouri River, which provides drinking water for millions of people. An accident waiting to happen.This is my line, and I am drawing it.

•I will stand for honesty, love, respect for all living beings, and for the beating heart that is the center of Life itself.

•I will use my voice and my hands, to reach out to the uninformed, and to anyone who will LISTEN:

That “winning”, “being great again”, “rich” or even “beautiful” is nothing… When others are sacrificed to glorify its existence.

DJT’s Short Reading List: Aliteracy Abounds

President Donald Trump doesn’t read books. At least that’s what everybody says. I don’t trust what everybody says anymore because everybody seems to be wrong all the time. Everybody said that Donald Trump would never be president, but everybody was wrong about that. That’s one thing I’ve learned recently; everybody is an expert, but nobody […]

via Donald Trump’s Reading List — Dysfunctional Literacy

*Jules’s Note: I would not disavow a book because someone I don’t like read it and liked it. As for All Quiet on the Western Front (yes, I just linked the entire text for you to read if you haven’t yet), I teach it every year to sophomores. It is a well-written, even poetic, piece of melancholy that anyone contemplating war (starting one, joining up to fight one, etc.) should read. Regardless of whether President Obama’s lists were pretentious or not, the lists promoted works of literary merit worthy of consideration for anyone’s nightstand–alongside the JK Rowling and Stephen King. I can only hope that DJT does read. Research shows that people who read fiction have more empathy. Now if only our POTUS believed in science, but that if for another post (about my next round of marches and resistance–Earth Day, here we come!).