Friday, September 23, 2011

While You Were Riding To Vanity Fair...

This song has such a specific meaning. It is not like Paul McCartney to do a song like this. Yet, here it is on Chaos and Creation, an album that I kept getting deeper and deeper into. I have said "Wow this is good" countless times. At around the time I first heard this album and up until the present day my life felt like Chaos because I did things I would never dare do before, and consequences resulted, some as dark I knew they would be and some surprisingly positive. It is still a mixture of Chaos and Creation in my life but I seem so much more fulfilled and self-directed. I remember that cute twist of phrase in the Dixie Chick's Not Ready to Make Nice: "It turned my whole world around / And I kind of like it."

Even in it's specificity to McCartney's life, this song has personal meaning for me in every phrase. The music is truly unique in its sadness and regret, not made for pop enjoyment, but seems to be there in support of the words only. The whole album has a bit of melancholy mixed in.

There are no deviations from meaning in the words for the sake of convenience or appeal, as usual with Macca. And yet this one, this one applies so personally to events in my life. There is not much need for artistic reinterpretation for it to fit like a glove. I haven't had such a feeling since Dylan's album Blood on the Tracks.

And the music has that minimalist layering that McCartney has employed a lot recently. Simplicity in musical phrasing just appeals to me more and more in my later years.   

"Riding To Vanity Fair"

I bit my tongue
I never talked too much
I tried to be so strong
I did my best
I used the gentle touch
I've done it for so long

You put me down
But I can laugh it off
And act like nothing's wrong
But why pretend
I think I've heard enough
Of your familiar song

I tell you what I'm going to do
I'll try to take my mind off you
And now that you don't need my help
I'll use the time to think about myself

You're not aware
Of what you put me through
But now the feeling's gone
But I don't mind
Do what you have to do
You don't fool anyone

I'll tell you what I'm going to do
I'll take a different point of view
And now that you don't need my help
I'll use the time to think about myself

The definition of friendship
Apparently ought to be
Showing support for the one that you love
And I was open to friendship
But you didn't seem to have any to spare
While you were riding to Vanity Fair

There was a time
When every day was young
The sun would always shine
We sang along
When all the songs were sung
Believing every line

That's the trouble with friendship
For someone to feel it
It has to be real or it wouldn't be right
And I keep hoping for friendship
But I wouldn't dare to presume it was there
While you were riding to Vanity Fair

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Feel Better

I have been suffering a bit on the health side, I think mainly because of my sinus problems. We have good times coming up next week and thankfully, this morning I feel pretty much normal. The weather seems to affect me and rain is good for me and it is blessedly raining today. I have aches and pains with the rain but I can handle those.

Anyway, as you get older health becomes more and more of a factor in life. Another thing that seems to balance on the edge of importance is the question of what kind of world are we leaving for our children? I think it comes with age, wisdom, and slow burning regret. I think there are always flaws in our past behavior, the memoris of which are haunting. I feel a need to make up for these past mistakes and I hope it makes me a better person.

Earlier, I noticed that childhood bullies remained bullies in adult life when rediscovered on Facebook. It kind of depressed me that these people had not grown an iota, but had just changed their methods of bullying. But I feel better today.

I have been thinking "class war," adopting the opposition's language with honor, was the ONLY way to get significant change, enough change to pull us out of our current economic problems, problems caused pretty much exclusively by the rich. When the City of Montgomery sent me a letter telling me they were raising my health care insurance rate by another $60 a month, added on to a $20 a month raise 2 years ago, it actually hit me like a brick. There are various reasons I see this as unfair, but I won't whine, well, at least in this entry :). Others have suffered far more than I and the statistics I read almost daily show that. But today...

A while back I posted an entry on one of my blogs about a callous CNBC reporter and I wrote something like "Have you heard the phrase 'class war' from any of your rich friends? Because you will be hearing it." And a lot of my economic ideas, that I formed through reading, have coalesced and are now easing their way onto the national stage. I no longer feel so distanced in the wilderness. It is odd though it is like playing at home along with Jeopardy! on TV -- I feel better when I get them right.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

No More

After a particularly disturbing public post on Facebook and a heartbreaking tale (for me) from a young lady at the library, I will no longer remain silent when the racist "N" word is voiced in my presence. I am deeply ashamed I have remained silent in some past situations.

Addendum: My friend in Hungary asked the story so I will tell it with "N" word intact.

This young girl was at the grocery store. She reached for the last loaf of particular kind of bread and another older white lady reached at the same time. They both touched the bread. The younger girl said "Go ahead and take it, it's ok." The older lady said "I don't want anything that a nigger touched anyway."
I think this young lady is one of the nicest people I know, so the fact that this happened in her young lifetime speaks volumes about why I will no longer tolerate this word.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9/11 Families

The families of the victims of the 9/11 tragedy actually see no reason to change the ceremony they have been having. I wouldn't do it for Fox News, CNN, or any media outlet either.

In year one, they missed their family members. In year two, they missed their family members. For 9 straight years they have missed their family members, each differently, each uniquely.

I am happy I have forgotten the date my father died. Unfortunately, my mother died on Christmas Day, so it is not so easy. I wonder, are there any family members of 9/11 victims who happened to have birthdays on September 11? Or are there any family's with wedding anniversaries on that date?

Because my mother died on Christmas Day, I didn't celebrate Christmas for a long time. It took a special effort to rehabilitate the holiday. I'm very happy I finally made the effort.

10th anniversary ceremonies are not usually thought of for dates upon which a family member died. Isn't it the same as anniversary number 9? Is it any different from day 987? But this 9/11 anniversary is different for the networks of the news cycle. Perhaps this is the real problem. It is money to some.

Someone posted a Budweiser commercial on Facebook that was "only shown 1 time." The horses bow near the New York skyline, then "Budweiser" is emblazoned across the screen. "Only shown 1 time" leads to the mystique but I sincerely doubt that Budweiser did not consider the possible viral distribution, or the legend of their ad. "Budweiser" not an "anonymous" "We will never forget" or something. The Clydesdales were plenty recognizable.

Death is something very personal and it doesn't do well with cameras. The first responders whose colleagues died in the September 11 attacks can really choose another day or spot for their ceremony. Perhaps they might meet at Central Park. That is very big and a New York icon.

But the families of the victims, which include the families of first responders who died, should have the peace and solemnity that they have had for 9 years. And they should have their spot on the map if they want it. After all, there are many empty graves.

I wouldn't want to attend such an event, I don't think. And I am so blessed that my Mother and Father's deaths are not linked to the retaliatory killing of 100's of thousands of other innocents.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Slipstream


Well, the lush separation enfolds you
And the products of wealth
Push you along on the bow wave
Of their spiritless, undying selves

And you press on God's waiter your last dime
As he hands you the bill
And you spin in the slipstream, tideless, unreasoning
Paddle right out of the mess and you paddle right out of the mess


The rise of consumerism (please don't confuse this with consumer protection) has caused a reinterpretation of the Bible which conflicts with, well, what it seems to say. But unthinkingly many just push into obscurity those passages that are an uncomfortable fit with our economic, political, and patriotic beliefs.

I have always loved the phrase: "the lush separation enfolds you." From about age 14, I guess, I listened to the flowing words. It was a beautiful song. At some point it dawned on me that it was not chimerical at all. The song was word for word like a parable and this phrase was similar to a parodox that explained the whole. It is genius really, to pack such meaning into a bit of seeming nonsense.

The whole second side of the Aqualung album was and is a favorite of mine. It is hard to imagine the influence that music and the interpretation of lyrics had for me. The other songs, with the exception of "Locomotive Breath" are harsher still on organized religion. I know what event made me balk, but, again, it is hard to imagine my life without the poetry that made me think deeply enough about the events surrounding me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wind Up


When I was young and they packed me off to school
and taught me how not to play the game,
I didn't mind if they groomed me for success,
or if they said that I was just a fool.
So I left there in the morning
with their God tucked underneath my arm --
their half-assed smiles and the book of rules.
And I asked this God a question
and by way of firm reply,
He said -- "I'm not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays."
So to my old headmaster (and to anyone who cares):
before I'm through I'd like to say my prayers --
I don't believe you!
You have the whole damn thing all wrong --
He's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.
Well you can excommunicate me on my way to Sunday school
and have all the bishops harmonize these lines --
How do you dare tell me that I'm my father's son
when that was just an accident of birth.
I'd rather look around me -- compose a better song
`cause that's the honest measure of my worth.
In your pomp and all your glory, you're a poorer man than me,
as you lick the boots of death born out of fear.
I don't believe you!
You have the whole damn thing all wrong --
He's not the kind you have to wind up... on Sundays.

So, can there be any question that I will always feel this way about organized religion? No, I think not. I related in some other post my early life trauma with a racist church who called themselves Ridgecrest Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama. I have tried to reconsider organized religion again recently. But, I have seen the fruits of hundreds of thousands of dead innocents in just the last decade. I will forever be affected by this particular winding set of events that I know so well from being hopelessly politically aware throughout. Perhaps I was a child during my first bad experience, but this time I am wise enough to see things from both sides. I just cannot believe in gathering together when the results of that gathering are these fruits. And I do not even trust my own judgement to know whether my experimentally stepping into such a gathering will contribute in any small way to consequences as dire.

This does not mean I do not believe in their God. I do, probably more than the gathered will ever be likely to grasp.

I don't argue the point much any more. I am so flawed myself that I feel an improper spokesperson for my God. And I do want those people who need the gathering to have what they feel they need to understand God. I just caution them. Their flaws may end with another leader who...

So I believe in my God, the One who speaks to my heart. The One who tells me specifically not to pray in public but to go into a closet. The One who would hope I would have a problem with collateral damage. The One who would want me to turn the other cheek. The One who has influenced me all through my life. The One who would want me to worry if my neighbor were out of work. And let me go further and say, my God is the One that wouldn't want me to argue with facts and learning but would want me to argue with many of science's moral underpinnings and effects upon the human condition. Or, perhaps put another way, the One that would want me to believe in Darwin's theories without creating an economic and social system for mankind based upon the morals contained therein.

It is this last point (though it is probably not strictly Biblical in any substantial way but is so central to my belief structure) which I think is so crucial to understand. Yes, it is easy to make fun of the fact that many Christians gathered together think that the world is not as old as it is, that dinosaur fossils may have been put here by Satan to test us, or that all mathematicians are wrong about how far the stars are from our Earth. But, I believe as strongly against this kind of disingenuously fundamentalist atheism as I do the beliefs of those they are mocking. I honestly doubt seriously if some sects of organized religion understand science or mathematics, or by virtue of their ignorance, understand what their beliefs beget. I also more seriously honestly doubt those who think they can logically reject the possibility of my God, and I doubt also their understanding of what their belief begets.

An important point I see so clearly after years and years of life, is that Darwin, and those that proceeded and followed him with the same scientific construct, influenced our economic and social the worst possible outcome. No longer is humanity looking up with humility to my God. They look down upon others who failed and prop their own selves up as achievers. They forget the many innocents who are no longer among us. Can it be that those who argue so vociferously against Darwin have completely misunderstood the real threat to their God from Darwin, the implementation of the doctrine of "survival of the fittest" into our entire economic philosophy and system, our foreign affairs policy, our social fabric, and our interpretations of just what God has told us? Rejecting what is most likely scientifically true and then accepting the very same ideas (as a way to organize our social structure based on blind moral values of competition which as humans who believe in a higher power we should want to rise above) is by far the worst mistake that has been made by those who organize. Another way to think of it in our current economic predicament is the adoption of "rich people" values as Godly. I realize that all who organize do not fear Darwin's science in a fundamentalist way. And I know and have read things by some who do understand the way in which Darwin should be feared.

Coming from a particular country and culture with a particular set of beliefs, often people believe they are correct beyond doubt when others around them are so equally confident. I am flawed in many ways and will avoid that temptation. I hope my God approves.