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Friday, July 10, 2015

Just whistle.

I'm sorry - that's as soft as a piano will go. The very word "piano" means soft, for chrissake. (Sure, piano is short for pianoforte, which means "soft - loud/strong", implying dynamics, but that's beside the point!) Just get some freaking earplugs already!

Neighbors. I guess you have to have them, even when you're living in an abandoned hammer mill. I like to think that we make every effort to be good neighbors. I like to think it because, well, it isn't true, and thinking things that aren't true is something of a hobby of mine. Actually, we are crappy neighbors - up until all hours of the night, banging on noisy instruments, tooting on sousaphones, launching rockets, creating energy dampening fields that affect entire continents (note: those last two are down to our mad science adviser, Mitch Macaphee).

Our neighbor to the north, a guy named Wilson, has been leaving subtle hints that we are making too much noise. Today, for instance, there was a scroll of parchment posted to our front door with a railroad spike. (Apparently Wilson used to work for New York Central or Amtrak or something.) The parchment had two words scrawled on it in a shaky hand: "TOO LOUD". I brought it to Anti-Lincoln (who has become our de facto legal adviser, being the only individual amongst us to have attended law school in some centrury) so that he might determine the full implications of this writ. He scanned it with a look of consternation, then offered in his characteristically reedy alto voice, "Yep. Somebody writ it." Not sure where we'd be without him. (Someplace more permanent, perhaps.)

Well? What does it mean?In spite of what our neighbors think (or demand), making music is an intrinsically noisy business. We are working on an album, for chrissake. That means take after take, recording rhythm parts, experimenting with sound - painstaking work that generates a lot of ambient sound, despite Mitch Macaphee's efforts to soundproof our makeshift studio. His latest attempt involved having Marvin (my personal robot assistant) hold up sheets of foam core, one in each claw. Did it work? Your answer is nailed to our front door.

Well, we'll plow on in any case. That's what we do. If we didn't do that, we'd have to do something else. And then I just don't know what we would do. (Got all that?)

Debtors and lenders.

We're watching as the richest country in Europe (a.k.a. Germany) is pressuring one of the poorest countries in Europe (a.k.a. Greece) to accept an even deeper regime of austerity than what they have endured up to now, with massive unemployment, economic contraction, and increasing (not decreasing) debt. This is a political effort, not an economic one. Economically it makes no sense; crushing the Greek economy will only harm the Eurozone. The German chancellor is playing to a domestic constituency convinced that Greeks deserve more punishment because they are bad, lazy, corrupt, etc. That's a deeply nationalist attitude, and I don't know about you, but German nationalism makes me a little nervous.

Guess which evildoer the Greeks are equating with the GermansThe irony, of course, is astounding. When it faced crisis in the early 1950s, Germany's creditors - including Greece - agreed to write off 50% of its debt and postpone the other half, allowing Germany to pay it back on a 30-year schedule. Pretty decent terms, considering how Germany acquired much of its debt ... namely destroying an entire continent, killing millions, and brutally occupying much of Europe - again, including Greece. Ancient history? Only to American news outlets like NPR's Morning Edition, where this week correspondents snickered about how Greeks see one German official as a kind of "Darth Vader" figure. (Note to NPR: does Darth Vader's helmet remind you of anything? Is it possible the Greeks are equating the Germans more with - I don't know - the murderous German occupiers of the 1940s than with the cartoonish pop-culture Nazi knock-off from Star freaking Wars?)

Then there's Puerto Rico. Another debt crisis, with no sign of assistance forthcoming from its overlords in Washington. The back story on this is instructive. Puerto Rico has very little room to maneuver economically. It doesn't control its own shipping. Goods shipped to the island from any nation must first make for Florida and be transferred to American ships before they can be unloaded in Puerto Rico. Just listen to this interview of Nelson Denis on Sam Seder's Majority Report podcast for the full story of how this island has been screwed by the U.S. again and again. Though it sounds depressingly familiar, I had not heard this history before.

There's such a thing as odious debt. We just need to recognize that fact and allow countries that have been skull-fucked by us and our allies to start with a clean slate.

luv u,

jp