Welcome to my asylum for ideas and thoughts on movies, politics, culture, and all things Bruce Springsteen.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

In A Fog

Do you realize just how important the dumb shift key is? I think I dropped something on my laptop and know my left shift key is loose to the point where I'll need to send the thing in to be repaired. I see just how damaged it is and therefore I'm taking action to rectify the situation.
I just finished watching the 2004 documentary The Fog of War, the two-hour interview of Robert McNamara and his thoughts on Vietnam. A gripping film, I was riveted to the former Secretary of Defense's every word as I wanted to hear him truly open up and reveal those inner secrets and demons from forty years' past. My father served two tours there, the first being under McNamara's guise, and without spilling beans here, he's got some issues with the war. I will be showing this to my class with the intent of studying memory and history and how thought evolves over time, including the concept of hindsight compared to the historical record. I'm also building a lesson for our students to evaluate the current administration and its track record on both domestic and foreign events. I've been fortunate to find some recently-published articles assessing Bush's presidency which will hit even the most knee-jerk conservative students right between the eyes. While I'm making the lesson with the intent of pillorying the president, facts speak for themselves. Interesting to listen to McNamara talk about how to plan and carry out a war; I just wish one of his successors would sit down and watch this film.

Bruce tickets go on sale Monday and so I'm devising a lesson plan that will have my students fortuitiously busy at 10:00 in the morning. Hopefully they'll be able to work with their teacher screaming either in delight or pain upon finding whether he'll be seeing the Boss. I still need to hear from the two Chrises about going to the show (hint, hint). The new album isn't just a hootenanny for me but a time capsule, a canon of music all music lovers should know if they want to claim to understand the history of American song. Shenandoah is heart-rending and probably my favorite cut on the record though I don't necessarily like Bruce's vocal; Pay Me My Money Down will probably be the best live. While I would love to hear more of his songs in concert, I will be pleased as punch to catch these live.

Paris Bennett is gone from Idol; I think Katharine's wardrobe malfunction may have helped her along these last couple of weeks. For the first time in three years, it's looking (as it has for several weeks now) that a guy will win this one. Of course I'll allow this dumb guilty pleasure take up a couple of nights of my next three weeks.

Monday's history-making nation-wide marches supporting the rights of immigrants is going to come back and bite people in the butt. Two million or so people turned out in cities across the country supporting a policy of fast-tracking citizenship for undocumented people (illegal aliens, choose your term) though it's interesting that a push for something like this has never emerged like this in the past. I think we're going to see a conservative backlash which will press for a very tough immigration policy which will make things even harder for President Bush to get his guest worker plan launched. We're also going to see more of the Minutemen and their vitriolic rhetoric as news coverage, always looking for the loud and shallow, will give them quite a bit of air time (on a side note, I'm fascinated about why this group chose its name as it did; weren't the minutemen the group of people pushing for the violations of all laws and open rebellion instead of people calling for the enforcement of the laws? Anyway...).
Onto Congress, where this group of 535 people more and more shows itself to be a kleptocracy full of nepotistic criminals. Woody Allen may have been right in Annie Hall when he said that politicians were "just a notch below child molesters" in society. To see the Republicans pass the most porous "anti-corruption" bill is what it is; smoke and mirrors. Not that the Democrats aren't any better; I don't see too many of them on the left side of the aisle clamoring for banning big money or the removal of big business from politics. More of the same, and if you let it, the news will truly crush any sense of faith in the government as something remotely reflective of democracy. I'm not naive to have ever thought that those in the past involved in the running of this government were ever saints, but at the point where the American people need something positive to see about the government, the damn Congress gives itself a pat on the back for a job well-done. Bollocks.
Have I already complained about the price of CSN&Y tickets? $200???? Who'd pay that much money to see four guys well past their prime (well, maybe three with one loose cannon) sing out of tune and play music (for the most part) terribly dated and irrelevant but be considered a driving force on today's concert front? Maybe I'm being ironical in this rant but while I wouldn't mind pulling up a piece of lawn to say I saw the trio with Neil, I've had bad luck with these artists before. I caught CSN ten years ago and they were so boring and out of tune that I was actually disappointed that they were playing live in public. Neil's always a weirdo (mostly in a good way) and both times I saw him, I walked away perplexed. In 1993, he was still in his Arc-Weld phase, so every three minute butt-kicking rocker was stretched to eight minutes with feedback and distortion. While the songs I recognized, I loved, he could have played twice as many in the time he stood in front of his amp blowing out his frontal lobe. In 2003, I caught him at Concord as he toured Greendale, the most self-indulgent irrelevant piece of garbage since that record he made with Pearl Jam. An entire 90 minutes of the album followed up by an hour of his older catalogue, which was stultifyingly boring. Rocking in the Free World, just about the greatest punk song ever was played at a tempo that made Helpless sound like speed metal and a Hey Hey My My (crap; or was it My My Hey Hey????) that put me to sleep. Maybe I'm just too nostalgic for that old band that blew me away from the 1970s with those harmonies and timeless tunes. Instead of griping any further, I'll rave about seeing the Black Crowes, the best band from the early 1970s that ever existed. I've written about these great guys before, but imagine six guys channeling the spirits of Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, Graham Parsons, Mick and Keef, the Stooges and Paul Rodgers and Free with a little of Almost Famous thrown in to boot. If Monday all goes well, I'll have Bruce and the Crowes in a single week. That's rocking in the free world.