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Friday, December 5, 2014

Prepping for the big one.

Remind me to tell Marvin (my personal robot assistant) not to leave the lights on all night. We've got the environment to consider. If we don't care about mother earth, who the hell will? Besides ... they freaking keep me up.

No, not THAT strange ... Oh, yes, my friends. Even here at the Cheney Hammer Mill we are preparing for the impending holiday season. Not without some trepidation, of course. Lord knows this time of year puts people into a kind of feeding frenzy, hyperactive shopping fever, whatever. They lose their reason. They get impatient and even nasty. It's a rough world out there, man. So why would we add our madness to the pile? No reason. Just looking for a way to keep busy.

So, what are we planning? Nothing much. Another podcast episode. Couple of new recordings. A bag of crisps. Some flashing lights. I don't know, what do YOU think we should do? We only know how to do one (or two) things. One of them is, well, play strange music. Not Anthony Braxton strange, but strange none the less. Okay, well ... as you know, we did a Christmas album once, like .... fifteen years ago. It was called 2000 Years To Christmas. And we've written, recorded, and released other Christmas themed songs since then, including a few last year.

This year, we've got a few more. All we have to do is get off of our sorry asses and record them. Then write, record, and post a holiday pageant of sorts. Can't say what the dimensions of said pageant would be, but it should probably be a big one. Should be song and dance numbers. Special guests should drop by unexpectedly, then perform carefully prepared duets with us. Perhaps wearing ridiculous getups and other worldly charm bracelets. They might even bring choruses of singers with them to join in! And presents!

Or maybe not. This is beginning to sound expensive. Which reminds me ... did Marvin leave the water on in the mud room? We're not made of money, you know!

Fighting for air.

Another grand jury delivers yet another unsatisfactory conclusion. Seems like prosecutors now have a workable model for not indicting the proverbial ham sandwich. Convene a grand jury for a specific case. Drop a metric ton of data on them with no clear guidance as to how to make sense of it. Invite the individual against whom charges are being considered to present his case to the jury without pointed cross-examination by prosecutors. Drag it on for an impossibly long time, so that the grand jury is exhausted and only too eager to get back to their lives. Next thing you know, the ham sandwich walks.

#ICantBreatheWhat does this prove other than the well-established fact that powerful institutions will always find innovative ways to protect themselves? Police are the strong arm of the government, which is itself a rough representation of the sentiments of the general population, this being a democracy. For decades, our politicians have built their careers on stoking fears over crime, particularly urban crime perpetrated by "scary black people". They employ coded versions of racial stereotypes deeply rooted in American society, going back to the arrival of the first African slaves on these shores. Police are the "thin blue line" between scary black people and your white person's home, your white person's family, your white person's privilege.

What did Eric Garner do to warrant being tackled and choked to death by a gang of cops? Was it selling loose cigarettes? I sincerely doubt it. Aside from blackness, what is it that he shared with Michael Brown and so many others? I contend that it is defiance - in Garner's case in particular, defiance of police authority in the presence of other African Americans. You could say the same for Michael Brown - he wasn't going to go quietly. If you stand up to injustice, challenge the officer's right to bend you to his will, you open yourself up to very harsh treatment, to the point of death. Defiance of authority, in my opinion, plays a key role in that decision by Darren Wilson to pull the trigger five more times once Michael Brown had already been shot.

This goes a lot deeper than anything that might be fixed by mounting cameras on police uniforms. A better start might be to put cameras on every black person in America.

luv u,

jp