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

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Can This Be It?

Can liberals, progressives and others who care about the direction of the nation claim today as the day of new beginnings? For the last three weeks, the media, the Nazi wing of the conservative party and Clinton supporters have all, misguidedly and disingenuously, attacked Senator Barack Obama for his personality. In typical American election fashion, politics and policies have taken a back seat. Hillary has been drinking beer by the pint to show she's "one of us", the oft-used rouse to make one appear to be an "average" American. Last week, uber-racist Pat Buchanan questioned "Is Barack one of Us? A nativist race-baiting bigot who wrote speeches for Richard Nixon through the nadir of the Watergate scandal the average American? Then let's hope Barack Obama isn't one of "us". I'm proud to claim that I'm not one of "us", either. If you're a card carrying member of the John Birch Society, then maybe ol' Pat is one of you. Newsweek's cover story was Obama's lack of connection with the "common" American since he's wealthy and educated. All of which leads back to the half-century old thesis posed by a then -graduate level student in history, Richard Hofstadter. Hofstadter's thesis evolved into his first book, one, though written in the 1950s, simply needs a quick update to remain totally relevant in today's society: the values of the "average" American are those of conservative, racist, anti-educational positions; that to be average and common is the goal of most Americans, even those who are in the ruling class and the elite classes. Religion over science, party over policy, military action over diplomacy; Hofstadter's book makes one who simply opens the front cover above average. The seeking of truth, knowledge and factual information is all it takes to make one uncommon. To strive for self-improvement and personal gain (not simply financial) is elitist? Maybe that's why so many of my students are what they are: work hard at stregthening who you are and not what you are and this nation owes you everything. Those policies have failed, as we have seen over the last four decades. Is one who is educated an elitist? Is one who wishes to lead as a consequence of natural leadership ability and the support of others elitist? Is one who obtains a college education elitist? Is one who wishes to see his or her children live a more privileged life than him or her elitist? Call Barack Obama an elitist and me as well.

Tonight's results of the North Carolina and Indiana primaries are hopeful for the Obama campaign. Hillary's only chances of gaining the Democratic nod is to hijack the convention, something that I wouldn't put past her. Only anti-democratic means will grant Clinton her wish; like it or not, Obama appears to have the nod. Of course, Gore could still possibly show up in Denver and change the whole situation but may not need to at this point based on how John McCain is campaigning right now. How can one be the un-Bush Republican? It's pretty difficult, considering McCain's need to keep the conservative social base, monied interests happy with permissive Republican regimes and the religious Right. Then, McCain's got to win over the majority of people in his own party who want the hell out of Iraq. He hasn't been helping himself with the whole "stay there for a hundred years" statement along with the quote that the Iraq War was primarily to guarantee cheap gasoline. Then there's the economy, which is where it is based on a whole culture of Republican-based greed and corruption. Every position that McCain took prior to running for president this cycle has been abandoned, whether it's campaign finance, the Mexican border and immigration, Iraq, gas tax policies or economic stimulus plans. If McCain's such the maverick who is willing to buck the party, he has missed the fact that his radical ideas aren't supposed to line up exactly with the party he's claiming to buck. But I rant and ramble...

I've been in a sad and angry mood since yesterday afternoon when I learned that the singer in my band is quitting. I didn't write about it but the band's last performance at Tailgater's was a smashing success. We pushed the place to capacity a half-hour before we began playing and there was more than a forty minute wait during our first set. Even with some technical glitches (we blew a fuse with our lighting truss), we kept the people dancing, drinking, staying and having a good time. I thought we played well and solidly delivered a good two and a half hours of music. Our last hour, from 12:15 to 1:20 in the morning was good but we were tired and the crowd wanted a DJ. Still, we held ourselves and everyone else together, ending on a high note before collapsing from exhaustion.
Our singer was the glue for many members of Funk Shui; as we're attempting to meet tomorrow to determine the fate and hopeful direction of the band, I'm forseeing other departures. I guess it's inevitable and maybe even positive. Those willing to remain can forge ahead in a new direction. The musicians and singers that remain make up a damn good band as it is and either way, I'm hoping to sling guitars for the band.

This just in: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are headlining the Not-so Strictly Bluegrass festival this October! I'm on holiday so I would like to make it back there, the first time in five years. This concert season looks pretty bleak, except for the Drive-By Truckers next month. Yoshi's has been a dry well for quite a while and I'm not up for catching the has-been circuit playing at nearly every venue in the area. The Allman Brothers appear to be skipping California on their perennial tour; Derek Trucks is playing the night before the first day of school in July, so that's out. Sheryl Crow in August, maybe John Mellecamp and Lucinda Williams; we'll see. I'm not going to pay the $250 for the SF Outlands concert in Golden Gate Park, especially as it's calling itself the spirit of the Bay's music scene.

Last week, after twenty-one years, I finally bought the Replacements' Pleased to Meet Me, an album I've always wanted simply because my best friend from childhood had the poster on his door. I thought the cover cool; I couldn't have named a song by the band. Last week, I thought that I would find a long-lost treasure of my youth and the late 80s rock scene. Not sure I found it though as it's not hitting me as I had hoped. Is there a mid-to-late 80s band that can still possess the power to knock me out with a timeless sound? I'm open.