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Friday, May 20, 2016

Shipkeeping.

That one? Sure, why not? It's been a few weeks. And I guess you could say that 25 years is a few weeks ... because, well ... it is.

For whatever reason this week, I am reminded of one of Matt's songs from yesteryear, a number called "Don't Give Up The Ship". It's probably because the Cheney Hammer Mill is leaking like a sieve, but that's nothing new. Or maybe it's because we've finished mixing the podcast songs (all eight of them!) and I'm starting to trawl through our old tapes for lack of anything better to do. Just call me Riley. The guy with the life.

As I've said here before, we've got a million of 'em (songs, that is), but unlike the late Prince, they are not all exquisitely recorded and salted away in a vault. No, friends ... they are poorly recorded on 4-track cassette, mostly, and chucked into the cramped, musty vault called my skull. "Don't Give Up The Ship" is a Quixotic riff centered on Perry's flag, and it's always had a lot of resonance with me, frankly. Here's a sample of the lyric:

Well it grieves me when I see you
On some moldy homemade raft
You've no life jacket, there's not precautions
You're spinning downstream and you're laughing


Well I'm not about to stop you
I've not the will and I've not the means
Still I stand here like I'm waiting
A world without you I've never seen
You say, "Read it off the flag ..."


Don't give up the ship, says the flag that
flies above the turbulent waves
Don't give up the ship, be a fool and
hold the course away from the shore


Ahoy.We've got a lot of back pages, and a lot of archival recordings from our various periods. I'm not talking about the Precambrian here - well, not exactly. More like the 1980s, 1990s. Our earliest incarnation of the band that became Big Green was probably 1979, about a year after I took up bass as an instrument. We've got studio recordings from 1981, '82, and '91 or so. I've got live recordings from 1993, mostly (Matt may have some earlier material squirreled away somewhere), most of which are pretty rough.

I also stumbled upon a video that was shot by the friend of a friend. It's essentially a demo, kind of a videotaped rehearsal. I digitized it this past week and will set about cutting it up and posting some excerpts. It's a pretty good representation of where we were musically around the time we were playing with the very fine guitarist Jeremy Shaw, who now works his butt off all over the country.

BTW - We dropped an advance mix of one of our podcast songs, "Romney and You Know It", last week on Soundcloud. Check it out. (Look for the podcast episode this coming week.)

Big tent, little tent.

The news of this week, campaign-wise, has been the minor uprising at the Nevada Democratic party convention. The reason for this, I'm sure, is that this is the story the Clinton campaign and its supporters wanted us to be talking about. For months they have been trying to frame Bernie Sanders and his supporters as aggressive, undisciplined, even violent political loose cannons. The protest in Nevada, as it was covered on television, appeared to conform to that narrative, helped along by the strategic release of some crank calls that came in to the voicemail of a party official. So, on a week when Sanders virtually tied Clinton in Kentucky and beat her by ten points in Oregon, the take-away will be that he can't and won't control his people.

Clinton's thin blue lineThis smells a lot like rat-fucking to me. The Clinton operation is pretty good at it, especially when they have the DNC and the entire party establishment in their corner. Then there's the David Brock effort, using tactics that he once focused on the Clintons themselves. But beyond the specifics of this campaign, what we're seeing is kind of a Democratic party tradition: piss on the activist left, even when it's likely to cost you the election. When have they ever not done this? From the marginalization of black southern voices in 1964, to shutting out antiwar voices in 1968, to undermining the McGovern campaign in 1972, the Dems always find a way to keep the lid on the progressive box.

That is, until now. It's one thing to shut Jesse Jackson out in 1988 when he had won 11 contests (including 7 primaries) and almost 7 million votes. But the Sanders phenomenon is even more imposing, and not really centered around a candidate so much as a set of policies and ideas. It is in many ways a generational uprising, like Occupy Wall Street 2.0, emerging from the landscape unexpectedly. It is the center of energy on the Democratic side, and as far as I can see, the Clinton campaign - which is winning - is making no effort to engage this movement in any meaningful way. The fact is, they are treating the Bernie folks with the kind of contempt the Democratic establishment has traditionally reserved for the party's left flank. That won't wash this time.

The Clintons may really blow this election. If they don't start making an effort to establish a productive, cooperative relationship with Sanders supporters ... to meet them a bit more than halfway ... they are not only going to lose, but they will also squander the future of their own party. That's the choice. We can't afford to pick the wrong path, people. Too much at stake.

luv u,

jp