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Friday, March 11, 2016

What's that they've written?

I've taken to starting the day with a brief lyric from our storied past. (Mostly a two-storied past. We haven't lived in a lot of high-rises in our time.) For some reason, this morning a particular song of Matt's popped up, and I found myself humming along to this stanza from Natural Laws:
What's that they've written all up and down the wall?
Something about suction and my face.
I don't know what they mean or why it's illustrated in green; is it
some tasteless reference to my
love for you?
Some people recite Shakespeare; others read Supreme Court decisions to their children. Me? My tiny mind focuses on the familiar, and there are few things more familiar to me than the boatload of crazy-ass songs I've been living with for the past three decades. Lots of material there - probably a couple hundred songs, poorly recorded on cassette 4-track decks or something meaner, all demos. The copyright folks down at the Library of Congress must think we're a couple of crazy motherfucking crackers, though I'm sure most of the cassette collections we've sent to them as deposit copies have long since turned to dust. (They do digital file uploads now, of course.)

Us in the eighties (at an awesome wedding).Matt's always been a very prolific crackpot. Myself? Less so, though my cumulative output over the years is less well-documented. Matt recorded practically from the very beginning of his songwriting days, whereas many of my songs floated around in my head and never got much farther (nor, frankly, deserved to). To this day, Matt writes about six or seven songs to my one. Not sure how he does it with that day job of his - tramping around the wilderness, feeding beavers, chasing falcons, snapping photos of butterflies, etc. My songwriting habits are pretty bad. Sometimes on a weekend I'll pick up a guitar and play the same chords I always play, except in a different order. (One of these days I'm going to run out of orders.)

Of course, there's always the piano. But most of my composing happens in the old brain case. If I don't get a song in my head first, it doesn't usually go anywhere. Sometimes I fram on the keys, record a snippet on my phone, and build it out from there, but usually not. Hey ... whatever works, right? So long as you and the brick walls listen, we'll keep tossing it out there. That's how we roll.

Idle threats.

This has been a week of sobering political news, to be sure. The gradual implosion of the institutional republican party continued apace, their preferred candidate falling into a deep hole that I suspect neither Mitt Romney nor an MSNBC town hall can pull him out of. Far more disturbing was various pieces of news from overseas: the heightened war of words on the Korean peninsula, the continued saber-rattling over Iran, and a strike in Somalia that killed 150 "terrorists", though no one is quite sure who these people were.

Fine when we do it.Korea is potentially the most volatile of these. There are literally millions of people living under the gun there, and while the North's leadership is ultra paranoid and appears irrational, they have been driven to this point by the presence of an existential threat: us. We have scores of military bases in South Korea. The South Korean military is under the operational command of our Pentagon. On top of that, we engage in the annual provocation of our joint exercises with Seoul, which amounts to a massive mock-invasion of North Korea. Given our troubled history with Pyongyang (and the memory of a war that cost 3 million Korean lives), you might think we would try to err on the side of diplomacy. North Korea wants direct bilateral talks with us because we are their principal adversary. They are not a direct threat to us, but they can do a lot of damage to Seoul, so for the sake of all those people we should ratchet down this conflict now.

With respect to Iran, I am going to set aside whatever they claim to have scrawled on the outside of their test missiles (incendiary as it is, it only makes me think of the racist crap IDF soldiers wrote on the walls of destroyed Palestinian elementary schools during the second Intifada). The reporting on the facts of their test launch is instructive. The missiles are not nuclear-capable, so they are not covered by the recent agreement - this was acknowledged in press reports. The expectation of the Security Council, we are told, is that Iran will not test missiles, but they are not "bound" by that expectation. So why the hair on fire? Why should they be the only power in the world not to test their weapons? I think that's the reason why they led the story with the stuff written on the outside.

Regarding the 150 killed in Somalia, I'm trying to imagine how this gets Somalia closer to peace. But then ... that was never the objective in Somalia. Imperial utility is more what we were looking for when we started intervening there in a big way during the late Carter administration - a convenient replacement for Iran.

All I can tell you is that it's likely only to get worse after this coming election. Unless we vote and stay engaged. You heard it here.

luv u,

jp