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Friday, October 23, 2015

Jingle hell.

What are you going to be for this year's Christmas pageant? A reindeer? A slice of gooseberry pie? As small pile of pine cones? So many possibilities.

I don't imagine that anyone reading this blog is unaware of the fact that the holidays hold a special resonance for Big Green. God knows, when they start blowing those freaking carols through every available loudspeaker, my head starts resonating like a church bell at Noon. That's what I call old time religion. And sure, we did do a whole album of Christmas songs, entitled (not surprisingly) 2000 Years To Christmas (2KY2C) - our first formal album.

When I say "formal", I don't mean that we appear in tuxedos with massive red cummerbunds and top hats. I mean that we released a number of collections on cassette tape prior to 2KY2C that were anything BUT formal. More than a few of those were Christmas themed albums, from which we drew the 13 songs that appeared on 2KY2C. Okay, so ... as we have in previous years, we're planning on putting together a holiday episode of our podcast, THIS IS BIG GREEN, and in an effort to lard it out with some extra music we are ladling out compositions from those earlier "informal" releases. Last year it was "Merry Christmas from Henry K;" the year before we did "Father Christmas," "Christmas Spirit" and a couple of others. Plenty more where that came from.

Gooseberry pie?I've often said (and you've often heard me) that the difference between Big Green and a successful group is that all-consuming lust for fortune, fame, and higher achievements. Yeah ... we ain't got that. We've got the songs - scores and scores of them. We've got our modest musical abilities. We've got a sense of how to put an album together. We even half know how to record ourselves, with some struggle. But that other stuff - that "I'm the greatest" shit ... that particular human chromosome was left out of our genetic inheritance.

So what the hell. Bereft of an Earthly audience, we please ourselves. If that involves putting antlers on for a few hours, so be it.

Bad old days.

I'm beginning to dread the next administration, whoever wins the upcoming election. It's hard to dispel the notion that we are heading into a period of increasingly bellicose foreign policy, in response to circumstances that are the direct result of our previous decades of bellicose foreign policy. Ugly as these circumstances are, they do not justify the further application of American military power in places like Afghanistan, where we've been blowing things (and people) up for 14 years, and Syria, where we appear to be fighting on both sides of the ongoing conflict. And yet virtually every presidential candidate sounds ready to keep the imperial ball rolling, even though the policy is an obvious failure in every sense of the word.

What 40 years of bad policy looks like.The trouble with approaching these issues with an imperial mindset is that we are blind to our own failures while expressing righteous indignation over the failings of others. Russia's military action in Syria is a good example. They are perhaps the fifth or sixth power to drop bombs in that unfortunate country. Their strategy, while militaristic and morally bankrupt, is not difficult to understand - they view Islamic radicalism as an extreme threat, and they make the not unrealistic assumption that the fall of Syria's government would result in a failed state something like Libya or Somalia or Iraq (all of which are beneficiaries of our aforementioned bellicosity). So, like the U.S.'s support of Saudi's murderous campaign in Yemen, they are applying force in support of Assad's crumbling regime.

Of course, when we or our allies commit crimes (as we so often do), it's presented as understandable, even noble. When official enemies commit crimes, it's reprehensible. That's vintage imperial statecraft. The offense taken at Russia's actions fits this template, but also speaks to another dynamic - that of a kind of longing for the simplicity and drama of the Cold War. I'm not entirely referring to the administration here - they encourage this to some extent - but the corporate media, the pundits, the opinion-makers are all fully vested in this enterprise. The more elderly among them, those who lived through the actual Cold War, want to get the band back together again, so to speak. The younger pundits and journalists were brought up to revere the fairy tales told by their elders and want to join in the melodrama of facing off with an "evil empire".

We are in such a cultural moment, I believe (just look at the current crop of blockbuster movies). At a time in human history when it is absolutely imperative that the nations of the world work together, we cannot afford this poisonous brand of nostalgia.

luv u,

jp