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Friday, June 8, 2018

Going up.

What the hell's that sound? The street sweepers again? Probably a lawn mower. Lawn mowing! What the hell is this neighborhood coming to?

Well, here I am, down in the basement of the Cheney Hammer Mill, tapping away at my keyboard as I often do this time of week. Strange how you can hear everything that's going on outside from down here. Of course, there are probably mouse holes in this place you can drive a front-loader through. Though I have to admit - I myself have never seen a mouse drive a front-loader. It would be one way to defend themselves from those awful snap traps. Diabolical contraptions!

Anyway, summer has kind of arrived here in upstate New York, now that we're on the climate change calendar, so naturally my mind turns to more leisurely pursuits. I know what you're thinking - what on Earth could be more leisurely than being a member of a band that never plays anywhere? Well, you might be surprised by my response to that question. I find all kinds of pointless uses for my time. My illustrious brother Matt, not so much - always doing things, that one. Me? My natural state is at rest. And while I spend most of the year going up the stairs, in the summer I go down them.

This thing's friggin' WRECKED!My summer pass-times usually include deep archive stuff - you know, threading old reel-to-reel tapes onto antiquated and dysfunctional playback machines, just to get a momentary listen in to what they contain. We have a few of those, and many, many audio cassettes with both stereo and four-track content. We also have Hi-8 DAT tapes from our Tascam DA-88 days (the system we used to record our first album, 2000 Years To Christmas) and, of course, standard DAT cassettes. I'm guessing that if you add it all up, it would amount to less content than we've produced in just the last five years, but it may be close. Matt did a lot of recordings in the 80s and 90s - probably hundreds of original songs.

Oh, then of course there's our podcast, THIS IS BIG GREEN. My guess is that we will be posting the next episode in just a few days, but I'm terrible at predicting things, so I won't say anything. Beyond what I just said. Arrgghh ... I'm no good at this. Should probably be mowing the lawn.

Old glory, old story.

Flag day is next week - as it happens, the very day I'm scheduled for a colonoscopy. (Coincidence?) That said, it has felt like flag month - or even flag year - in this obligatory cheap seat reality show known as the Trump era. Literally must-see t.v., right? This past week we were treated to the hilarious spectacle of our trust-fund baby president with his hand over his heart, faking his way through a martial rendition of God Bless America by what looked like the Marine band. (Bad Lip Reading did a good version of this.) The occasion was Trump's decision to un-invite the Philadelphia Eagles over the National Anthem "take-a-knee" controversy, which he exploits as a means of race-baiting and working up his bigoted base.

Stand beside her ... This transparent political ploy prompted some complaints among talking heads that this was in some way unprecedented. Nothing could be further from the truth. The national anthem, the flag, all of these superficial patriotic symbols have been used for political purposes pretty much my entire life through. Nixon rolled out the flag all the time, as did Reagan. The now-sainted George H.W. Bush made the pledge of allegiance a kind of litmus test for patriotism during the 1988 election. And protests like flag-burning become a major culture-war issue from time to time, particularly when the Republicans are in power and they have little else to complain about (because they're getting their way).

So aside from being a far more transparently pathetic pantomime, there's nothing unprecedented about a president demagoging the flag, the national anthem, etc. Trump is just talking to that 25 to 30 percent of the U.S. population that would follow him off a cliff and then back up the mountain again. He may be a big, greasy, over-privileged ball of shit, but to them he represents the very embodiment of white aggrievement. The bulk of his followers - not all working class by a long shot, by the way - respond to this kind of symbolism as well as his complementary attacks on people of color, with particular attention to those who attain some level of status (like professional athletes).

Reality television has taken over the Republic - that's kind of new. But speaking as someone who has lived through the Nixon administration, the Iran hostage crisis, 9/11, and more, wrapping abusive politics in the flag is anything but.

luv u,

jp