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Friday, June 10, 2016

Hammer day.

What, raining again? Huh. Very well. Looks like it's rainy day schedule, kids. Coloring books and tunafish sandwiches. Except that we don't have tunafish. So ... I'll have Marvin (my personal robot assistant) make crayon sandwiches. Gotta make do as best we can, boys.

Hey, what would you do if you were stuck in an abandoned hammer mill and the weather went all pear-shaped? Probably something similar. They say that musicians do their best work behind closed doors, removed from all distractions. They also say that more songs are written on rainy days than on sunny ones - the theory being that crappy weather makes songwriters want to stay home more, and home with nothing to do means picking up the guitar or banging on the piano. Wanna know what else "they" say? What the fuck, I don't know. Ask them.

This might be a good time to write some songs. As I've pointed out in these pages before, Matt and I have different approaches to songwriting, so the time may be right for one of us; likely not both of us. Matt writes songs on the hoof, tromping about the hills, streams, and woods, singing verses into his smart phone while he's feeding the beavers, then harmonizing the song later when he gets within grabbing distance of a guitar.

Big Green in 1988My process is much more gradual. It usually starts in the shower with me humming some random bit of nothing. I do it and do it, and sometimes something bobs up that works with the various thoughts running through my head. I scribble it down on a cheap-ass notepad and maybe, just maybe, sing melody fragments into my phone. Then I take a swing at it every time I'm near the notepad. Matt's more like Thoreau, communing with nature and all the rest of it. I'm like some tin pan alley hack, trying to turn nothing into something and usually failing. Hard to believe we were ever any more disciplined than this sorry spectacle.

Turns out, we were, as I mentioned last week. I reviewed some more of those old recordings with Jeremy Shaw, who played guitar with us for a while, and some of his parts were amazing. Then I started cutting up the video program, and as an experiment I exported a soundcheck we did using fragments of Sensory Man. I'll post that when I've got the song to post as well. (The audio needs a little help. The video looks like us in somebody's garage, which is pretty close to the truth.)

This may turn out to be a total YouTube summer ... if it keeps raining.

The choice.

Yeah, I know. California didn't go the way we'd hoped. But then neither did New York. Or Ohio. Or Pennsylvania. Or Massachusetts. Freaking Massachusetts! Still, Bernie Sanders did an amazing thing. The last true progressive candidate, Dennis Kucinich, won maybe 20% in one state (I think Oregon) and that was cause for jumping up and down (or at least up). That was eight years ago, and back then we could never have imagined something like the Sanders campaign. This is a rising movement, as I've said before - it's political, it's generational, it's policy-focused ... it's freaking amazing. And it came within a whisker of stealing the Democratic Party's presidential nomination away from the biggest name in party politics.

That's the story, Morey.Anyway, Hillary Clinton has won; that's what the voters have said. I won't quibble with the numbers - the horse race is over. However, the real project of 2016 continues - that of pushing a more energetic progressive agenda forward and finding effective ways of holding Hillary accountable to the activist wing of her party. My hope is that my fellow Sanders supporters will not resort to cynicism; a fear underlined by the ridiculous decision of the AP and NBC News / MSNBC to declare Clinton the "presumptive nominee" of the Democratic Party hours before the polls opened in California. That irresponsible act will, for many, throw doubt on the outcome of the California primary. We need to maintain the activist energy of the Sanders campaign and mobilize it behind a set of policies while working to defeat Trump in November. We can't afford a radical Republican presidency. We just can't.

I've said it here before and I'll say it again: my disagreements with the Clintons are profound. I am opposed to her foreign policy positions, with very few exceptions. Her closeness to Wall Street augurs well for them and not so hot for the rest of us. And I am not convinced that she is the strongest candidate to defeat Trump this fall. But leave us face it - she will be the Democratic standard-bearer, barring disaster, and we need to take the five minutes (in favorable states) needed to cast our vote for Hillary where needed, then get back to the real work of politics - namely improving the prospects for our neighbors and our planet. That's the work that made the Sanders campaign in inevitable. That's the hope for a livable future.

That's our choice. Choose wisely, friends.

luv u,

jp