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Friday, June 24, 2016

Woodshedding.

Wait ... where the hell are my lyric sheets? I had a big stack under my piano bench since we occupied the mill. Marvin - did we go digital at some point without my noticing it?

Yeah, so I'm just going over some old material, as I mentioned last week. Old videos, old audio tapes, old records, old robots. (Yes, robots - we have a roomful of toy robots in boxes, all acquired during our "Captured by Robots" obsession during the 1990s and 2000s. Evidence of misspent youth, except that we weren't young then. Misspent oldth.) Just reminding myself of all the songwriting Matt (especially Matt!) and I did back during decades past - a full canon of material. Wait ... that's where I put those lyric sheets! In that old cannon Mitch bought at a mad science garage sale!

Marvin (my personal robot assistant) is lending me a hand (or a claw) as I sift through a mountain of discarded bullshit. Amazing how a band full of anti-materialistic, anarcho-syndicalist hammer mill squatters can accumulate such a bewildering array of random possessions. Sure, there are pockets of useful items, like the robots (we can, for instance, plan some kind of robot invasion of the convenience store across the street), but mostly nameless junk. We found some things that were acquired on our various interstellar tours, but much of that is either invisible or too radioactive to handle. (You'd think invisible junk would take up less room, but noooooo.)

He's behind me, isn't he ...?Anyway, I've been taking this opportunity to relearn the keyboard and vocal parts to some of our older songs. There are literally hundreds of them, so I suppose if I wanted to, I could play a different one every day for the next nine months, then start again. (I only have time to play one song a day, and usually it ends up being "Summertime" or something like that.) Yesterday's song was Matt's "Promised Land", which is one of those Dylanesque songs Dylan never wrote. We'll record these at some point, though we have scratchy demos of all of them, recorded on cassette portastudios back in the stone age. (We've played some of these on our podcast, THIS IS BIG GREEN.)

So if you're looking for me, I'm down here in the catacombs, pounding on the keys and warbling. Just knock loudly and beware of the robots.

House rules 2.0.

Spent some time this week watching Democrats in essence occupy the floor of the House of Representatives in what looks like an unprecedented effort to force a vote on modest gun control legislation. Pretty amazing demonstration in response to the latest gun-related atrocity in Orlando, to which the official response of the Republican majority in the House has been zero. The protesters' chant of #NoBillNoBreak is a modest demand: bring three pieces of legislation to a vote, and let them stand or fall on their merits.

When he says "strike," I'm there.Now I'm not crazy about the legislative approach, particularly with regard to the expansion of the terror watch list - I just don't think it's the best way to deal with this issue - but I think it's high time somebody occupied the freaking House. I tweeted my support to Barbara Lee and John Lewis on Wednesday night, attracting a flurry of ammo-sexual Twitter trolls. If these folks are willing to take direct action, the least I can do is give them some encouragement. (Elizabeth Warren brought donuts, after all.) That said, there's a lot more to do, and it can't all happen in Congress (though some of it must).

I think the core of the issue is the culture of fear and macho posturing that defines our nation's gun obsession. The former is obvious, a pillar of American life since our earliest days, always available to be exploited by politicians, preachers, and other scoundrels. Be afraid, be afraid! You need a gun ... or maybe five! Then there's the gun as the sexual talisman, the ammo amulet that makes every little man a big one. Tough, dangerous, and hell, sexy, right? Strap on the old cannon and you'll be fighting them off ... perhaps literally. The phallic imagery finds its way into their rhetoric. I remember one gun nut decades ago telling me about people being "de-barrelled" - having their guns taken away. Not sure he got the sense that he was talking about castration with that odd term, but perhaps.

All I can say is that, with 300 million guns sold and rising, I'm not sure what good limiting the supply will do, but we should try anyway. The gun show loophole is another important issue. That guy who lived around the corner from me - the one who shot up the AT&T store because he didn't like the service - probably got his gun from a secondary dealer or gun show (it had actually been stolen from someone's car in South Carolina).

So, thanks, House Democrats, for at least trying to do something. A pity Eddie Munster holds the gavel, but that won't change until we all get more involved in political life.

luv u,

jp