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Friday, January 30, 2015

What the pod?

Okay, here's a good name for a band (I know it's good because someone's using it): Teenage Brain. Here's another: The Canabinoids. Well, there's my day's work. Man, I'm exhausted!

Yes, I'm sure there are some of you out there - and you know who you are - who think that we of Big Green sit around our abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill all day and do next to nothing. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. We work our fingers to the bone every day, trying to think of stupid shit to say the next time someone interviews us, which could be any minute (though in actuality, it hasn't happened in about two decades). We set a very high standard for stupidity; not talking garden variety here. Our comments are expected to be wildly off the mark, not just a little strange.

And there are other things occupying our time, such as the January podcast ... which is now certain to be the February podcast. All I can say is, mea culpa. (That's all the Latin I know.) Our podcast production process (or PPP) has become much more complicated in recent months, mostly due to our own highly exacting standards. Now every other Ned Trek episode has to come complete with a full complement of new songs written specifically for the occasion, produced to the best of our ability, and inserted into that otherwise pointless show. Time consuming stuff, yes. The kind that makes January into February.

It's a good name, anywayThis time out we have, let's see .... six new songs, maybe? I've lost count. It's become this blur of recording parts onto different projects, a piano here, a horn section there, a beery-sounding horse voice on this one, some fucked-up swabbies on that one. That's the only way I know how to work - just keep chipping away at the mammoth rock until it looks a hell of a lot more like Lincoln. That's how Mount Rushmore was made. That and driving native people off the land (we don't include that in our creative process).

So, I don't know ... look for our new podcast episode in the coming weeks. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my couch.

The year in advance.

Okay, I promised domestic policy this week, but I'm going to have to go back on that for a paragraph or two. It's the product of swallowing so much crap news over the course of the week. Just a few minutes of Latin America coverage by NPR is enough to make me want to pull my own head off. So I just want to dwell on that topic for a few minutes ... don't mind me.

One that got awayObama's shift on Cuba is instructive in a lot of ways. For one, it is wildly popular, with something like 60% of the country in support. That has been reflected in polls for quite a long time. Second, it does help to lay bare the true nature of the relationship. Just listening to our diplomats lecture Cuba on human rights issues is enough irony to last a decade in and of itself. For chrissake, we can't even claim to hold to a high standard on human rights even within the confines of Cuba itself!

Raul Castro has said that reestablishing normal relations would require our return of Guantanamo Bay - the only eastern-facing harbor on the island, which would be kind of useful for trade with Europe. The Obama administration has rejected that out of hand. Again ... does any news organization in the United States ever examine the issue of our dubious claim on Guantanamo Bay? Nope. Too busy reporting on Russia's heinous seizure of Crimea.

It goes deeper than that. Why have we targeted Cuba for five decades? Dictatorship? That can't be it. We cozy up to dictators in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and elsewhere without a problem. Human rights? Please! Here's a more plausible explanation. We "owned" Cuba, like a master owns a slave. Cuba broke away, setting a "bad" example for the other slaves. We have never accepted its disobedience, and we have punished it grievously ever since. We've invaded it, attacked its people, attempted to assassinate its leaders, strangled it economically as only a superpower can, vilified it in every imaginable way.

So ... the nation that innovated the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 pursues the same principle on the national stage. That is the context of this new detente with Cuba.

luv u,

jp