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Friday, September 18, 2015

War stories.

Gather 'round, kiddies ... ol' grampa Big Green is going to spin a few tales about the glory days of yesteryear, when it was us against the world, gas was 35 cents a gallon, and love was just a buck forty-three away. Heh heh. (Get off my lawn!)

Yeah, the truth is, Big Green is pretty short on war stories. That occurred to me today as I was driving along, listening to an old Fresh Air interview with Keith Richards. (In truth, the most interesting parts were when Terry played some of the old Stones hits, which I still like o'plenty.) You expect some of the pillars of rock and roll to have the ripest, pithiest tales about backstage exploits, drugs, women, men, asteroid wrangling, pretzel bending, and so on. But bands like us, clinging to the clammy underbelly of pop music ... well, we don't have a lot of that.

Sure, there are stories. But nobody wants to hear about riding back from Middlebury College on NY Route 8 in the dead of winter, in a battered old van that had no heat and kept threatening to stall. Nobody's interested in the gig we played in the dive bar in Syracuse to a bunch of somber patrons who later explained that someone had been stabbed there the night before. And who wants to ride along with us to Oneonta to play in a music store doorway in the pouring rain, then hike over to an old railroad station bar where we played into the night? Nobody, that's who .... nobody!

There was this chicken, see? And ... Ever get down on your hands and knees and beg a potato to get fat? Ever shake your fist at an apple because it shriveled on a stick? Yeah, me neither. But if I had, those would be in the memoir, for sure. All we have are pointless stories of low-grade adventures that any plain clothes musician in the northeast could probably top without even trying. Maybe that's Big Green's true calling: giving other bands something to feel good about. (At least we're not THEM!)

Hoo boy, is that the time? Peace out.

The fence.

A lot of talk the past few weeks about refugees flooding into southern and eastern Europe, mainly people from the hell that is Syria and the catastrophic landscape of post-revolution Libya. First reaction of the right-wing government in Hungary was to thug them with riot police and hastily build a border fence. One of the more memorable videos was the one where Hungarian officials are tossing baloney sandwiches into a corral filled with hungry migrants, including young children. Then there was the Hungarian broadcast journalist who deliberately tripped a fleeing refugee. Nice. People.

Welcome to EuropeThe thing is, you need to listen to their rhetoric. They're talking about "illegal immigrants". They're echoing the applause lines of our own crackpot politicians. No surprise, because we're witnessing the same experience on our own southern border. People fleeing from the neoliberal aftermath of our bankrupt Central America policy, starting with support for decades of regressive, kelptocratic Mexican governments to our serial interventions in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and elsewhere, pouring into this country in hope of a better life. And we've got freaks like Donald Trump calling them rapists, murderers, etc., and not just him. Those Hungarian xenophobes? Turns out, they are us.

The plan to expel something like 11 million people from the United States is, well, something tantamount to ethnic cleansing. It's clear that a major party candidate advocating racial profiling raises very few eyebrows these days. Take, for instance, Trump's town hall event this past Thursday, when one attendee called for the expulsion of all Muslims, to which the candidate said he would be looking at this once elected. Really? As Chris Hayes and Charlie Pierce pointed out the other day, this business is like having a wolf by the ears. When you play with racism and xenophobia, it tends to play back ... and hard. Easy to lose control of that particular sentiment. There are plenty of historical precedents.

Here we go. I have to say, as someone who watched a good bit of the second Republican debate, we are headed for some very troubled waters. Beware what a nation will do when it's effectively fear-mongered.

luv u,

jp