Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Beer: A Tool for Change?

Beer can be a vehicle for change. If you think that is nonsense, just look at what happened yesterday in Australia. One of the darkest and most heated conflicts in the modern world was soothed temporarily by the simple gift of beer. No I'm not talking about the War on Terror, but the eternal war between the celebs and the paparrazi!

It seems that the army of paparrazi camped out beside the home of Nicole Kidman, awaiting a chance at a "money shot" of the beautiful actress and her soon-to-be-husband, Keith Urban, were sent a peace offering of...beer! The gift soothed the savage hordes of photgraphers and offered a bit of tranquil comraderie between two deeply conflicted opponents.

Now if we can only work on Al Quaeda with this tool...
Click link here

"Pretty women sell beer, ugly women make us DRINK beer" -Al Bundy

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Cultural Dissonance

Lately, I've been doing alot of thinking about my cultural dissonance. That is, the disconnect between what I believe and what music and art I enjoy. I enjoy an eclectic collection of different musical styles, from Bluegrass to Classical. In terms of graphic arts, I have been enamored with Dali and Escher, as well as the classical painters like Davinci and Rubens. I also like trashy art, from movies like Plan 9 From Outer Space and the Three Stooges to television shows like The Rockford Files to 24; from graphic novels to graffiti on trains; from photography to sculpture; from Science Fiction novels by Heinlein and Spinrad to the classics by Melville and Hawthorne, and so on. But what is unusual is the fact that much of the art I enjoy is created by those far left of center, on the political spectrum. The questions are,
And, does it matter?

Personally I don't think it matters one whit. Art is art and politics is politics. Cleverness in creating a work of art knows no political affiliation, does it? Heinlein was no lefty, and the classical authors of whom I'm fond were from an era that would make it difficult or impossible to characterize them in modern terms, but most artists today seem to be of the left-leaning bent, don't they?

Some of the germs of this treatise comes from the arguments seen on many blogs after Neil Young's latest album was released. Many saw the album, Praire Wind, as a screed against Bush and the WOT. I disagree. Of course Neil Young is no conservative and he has a written songs for decades that celebrate nature and condemn industry and the destruction of the natural environment. These songs like most in the genre, are replete with hypocritical underpinnings. Still, they are moving and interesting and many are beautiful. I like them, even though I'm no tree-hugger. "Thrasher" comes to mind, so I'll post the lyrics here to illustrate what I mean:

They were hiding behind hay bales,
They were planting
in the full moon
They had given all they had
for something new
But the light of day was on them,
They could see the thrashers coming
And the water
shone like diamonds in the dew.

And I was just getting up,
hit the road before it's light
Trying to catch an hour on the sun
When I saw
those thrashers rolling by,
Looking more than two lanes wide
I was feelin'
like my day had just begun.

Where the eagle glides ascending
There's an ancient river bending
Down the timeless gorge of changes
Where sleeplessness awaits
I searched out my companions,
Who were lost in crystal canyons
When the aimless blade of science
Slashed the pearly gates.

It was then I knew I'd had enough,
Burned my credit card for fuel
Headed out to where the pavement
turns to sand
With a one-way ticket
to the land of truth
And my suitcase in my hand
How I lost my friends
I still don't understand.

They had the best selection,
They were poisoned with protection
There was nothing that they needed,
Nothing left to find
They were lost in rock formations
Or became park bench mutations
On the sidewalks
and in the stations
They were waiting, waiting.

So I got bored and left them there,
They were just deadweight to me
Better down the road
without that load
Brings back the time
when I was eight or nine
I was watchin' my mama's T.V.,
It was that great
Grand Canyon rescue episode.

Where the vulture glides descending
On an asphalt highway bending
Thru libraries and museums,
galaxies and stars
Down the windy halls of friendship
To the rose clipped by the bullwhip
The motel of lost companions
Waits with heated pool and bar.

But me I'm not stopping there,
Got my own row left to hoe
Just another line
in the field of time
When the thrasher comes,
I'll be stuck in the sun
Like the dinosaurs in shrines
But I'll know the time has come
To give what's mine.

Well-written, if somewhat vague, this song is an anthem against progress. It virtually oozes disdain for the trappings of our modern condition. Never mind that it was produced using metal and plastic instruments, using electrical power and now pollutes hundreds of landfills with it's shiny discs.

For another good example, I have posted a song that was written in 1946 by Woody Guthrie, and was put to music by Billy Bragg and Wilco in 1998, on the album Mermaid Avenue. This is a wonderful recording that puts several of Guthrie's unrecorded songs to music, in a collaboration between the musicians and Guthrie's daughter, who owns the rights to the words.

The song that follows is a perfect display of socialist rhetoric and class envy. Guthrie makes a hero out of a thief and his wish for violent wealth redistribution is of course easy to deride and villify, intellectually. The song has a great deal of power, though and clearly illustrates what draws many young lower class youths to such a philosophy. Of course the romantic, Robin Hood quality of the song is nothing new:

The Unwelcome Guest Wilco lyrics
Artist: Wilco
Album: Mermaid Avenue
Year: 1998
Title: The Unwelcome Guest

To the rich man's bright lodges
I ride in this wind
On my good horse, I call you
My shiny black Bess

To the playhouse of fortune
To take the bright silver
And gold you have taken
From somebody else

And as we go riding
In the damp foggy midnight
You snort, my good pony
And you give me your best

For you know and I know
Good horse 'mongst the rich ones
How oftimes we go there
An unwelcome guest

I never took food
From the widows and orphans
And never a hardworking man I oppressed

So take your pace easy
For home soon like lightning
We soon will be riding
My shiny black Bess

No fat rich man's pony
Can ever overtake you
And there's not a rider
From the east to the west

Could hold you a light
In this dark mist and midnight
When the potbellied thieves
Chase the unwelcome guest

I don't know, good horse
As we trot in this dark here
That robbing the rich
Is for worse or for best

They take it by stealing
And lying and gambling
And I take it my way
My shiny Black Bess

I treat horses good
And I'm friendly to strangers
I ride and your running
Makes my guns talk the best

And the rangers and deputies
Are hired by the rich man
To catch me and hang me
My shining black Bess

Yes, they'll catch me napping one day
And they'll kill me
And then I'll be gone
But that won't be my end

For my guns and my saddle
Will always be filled
By unwelcome travelers
And other brave men

And they'll take the money
And spread it out equal
Just like the Bible
And the prophets suggest

But men that go riding
To help these poor workers
The rich will cut down
Like an unwelcome guest

I wish you could all hear these songs because the effect is much greater than that of simply reading the lyrics. The point I am making is that though these people are politically and philosophically wrong and perhaps even juvenile, the music and the lyrics are good and enjoyable. For that reason, I tend to refrain from making my judgements of music and art, on the basis of the artists' political or philosophical viewpoint. I just listen to it and look at it and if I like it, I buy it!

I realize I haven't touched on the question of why so much of the art I enjoy is made by artists left of center. That will be the subject of a future article, I guess...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Happy Days Are Here Again!

Forgive me if I am as happy as a drunk Jack Russell Terrier, but this week has been gooood!

For starters, Al Zarqawi's dead. I just hope he lived long enough for one of our burlier troops to whisper to him that he was virgin number one and there were seventy-one others, right behind him...

Speaking of dead, three (count 'em, three) Gitmo detainees offed themselves to bring the world's attention to the plight of the Jihadists being held in torturous conditions at the naval base in Cuba. Works for me.

Bush jetted to Baghdad to greet the troops, who appear to love him, despite all of his verbal faux pas and blustery cowboy banter. Imagine that.

Al Gore continued to be an idiot. Imagine that.

KKKarl Rove told Special Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, that "These are not the droids you are seeking", while waving a hand in front of his face. It worked!

The poll bounce that Bush and his agenda received makes it a little less likely that Democrats will retake the congress this election cycle. That's a good thing, right? Well just to illustrate why it is a good thing (just in case you aren't apprehensive enough about a Speaker named Pelosi, a free and legislating William Jefferson and an unmuzzled hero like John Murtha...), at a recent Democrat gathering in Virginia, Jim Moran (D-VA) stated,
“When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I’m going to earmark the shit out of it,”!

Now what was that I heard a month ago about a "culture of corruption"???

Add to all of this wonderful news, the fact that the "net neutrality" amendment to HR5252 (a communications bill that would increase competition for cable TV)was defeated (WAAHOO!), and it was a great week indeed! This was a blow against the forces of regulation and governmental control and for the continued freedom of the internet.

Excuse me while I gloat and drink a toast to common sense in this country!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

New Gold

There's new gold brewing at the Beerme residence! A newborn Belgian Golden Ale was created on Memorial Day and is happily gurgling away as I write this post. The pic I added will be especially recognized by any readers from the Great White North, as the beer store is the Ontario variety. Now that's my kinda rainbow!

Since Memorial Day, I have been doing very little blogging. I've been busy working in the yard and doing my honey-dos, as well as trying to get my fat ass back in shape. I started jogging again a few weeks ago and am finally up to a respectable two miles a day, at least three days a week. Now that's no marathon but it should keep my health a little more stable for my later years : )

I started running about twenty-two years ago and kept it up for at least twenty years, at the rate of a few miles a day, a few days a week. At my peak, in 1986, I ran a marathon in Detroit. For those who have done it, I offer this snippet of running wisdom: A marathon is evenly divided into two halves, the first twenty miles and the last six. It's true!

Being a longtime runner, and a long time drinker (I know, you're surprised at that one!), I've often thought of joining a Hash House Harrier club. The Hash House Harriers are a drinking club that runs! They have group runs and social activities including drinking, eating and singing (kinda like around the campfire). It always sounded interesting to me and I'm sure I'd fit in.

Do you think the H3 folks would like to have a brewer in their club? I'm betting I'd be their new bestest buddy! I'll post if I decide to take this plunge, but for now, I'm just a "lurker".

Here is a link to the world H3 website